June 2010 Archives

Over the weather

50 hours with no phone, power or internet access, especially with temperatures climbing back up into the 90s yesterday, was not my idea of a good time.  But we survived the summer storm without permanent damage. 

Tens of thousands of the region's residents are still sweating over the endangered contents of their power-less refrigerators. And, ironically, in part they can blame a refreshing pulse of dry air that had made a brutally hot Thursday afternoon more bearable.

That dry air evidently gave an extra destructive jolt to some of the most damaging summer storms in the region's history.

In the final tallies, about 350,000 customers lost power as a line of thunderstorms flashed through the region at lightning speed, ripping apart trees from Glenmoore, Chester County, to Hammonton, N.J., and generating winds rarely experienced around here.

About 120,000 PECO customers are still without power, primarily in Chester and Delaware Counties.

Gusts reached 75 mph in Philadelphia, 60 in Camden County, and perhaps 90 in Chester County.

Uprooted and fractured trees like the one in that photo were everywhere around these parts Thursday, many of them lying across roads, along with electrical and telephone poles and wires.  Very bad scene. 

Still catching up ... 

Suspension at UCI

Last week, the LA Times published this editorial, praising the recommended one year suspension on the Muslim Students Union (MSU) by UC Irvine for the interruption of Michael Oren's speech there in February.

Oren had been invited to deliver an address on U.S.-Israeli relations. But each time he tried to speak, he was interrupted by students who stood up to shout anti- Israel slogans. Eleven students from UC Irvine and UC Riverside were arrested and cited for disturbing a public event, but not criminally charged. According to a university report released Monday, e-mails intercepted from members of the Muslim Student Union showed that it had not only planned the protest, but that its members had also subsequently conspired to deny the group's involvement. It was the group's alleged fabrications, along with its disruption of university activities, that prompted the suspension recommendation.
The editorial is hardly a knee-jerk defense of Oren or Israel, nor was it a blanket condemnation of the MSU.  To the contrary, it articulates a basic lesson in First Amendment dynamics.

The notion that UC Irvine is squelching students' 1st Amendment rights is simple to dismiss. U.S. courts have long held that using speech to prevent another person from speaking, as the Muslim students were clearly doing, is not constitutionally protected. As long as UC Irvine enforces its rules in an evenhanded way against protesters of all points of view -- so that members of a pro-Zionist group would be similarly punished for shouting down a Palestinian speaker -- it is well within its rights to enforce decorum at campus events.

U.S. politicians in both parties tend to reflexively support Israeli policies, so there is less public debate about them here than in most countries, including Israel. Universities are among the few places where a lively discussion of such politically taboo topics takes place, and it would be a disservice to students and faculty members to chill that debate or to permanently silence the Muslim Student Union.
[belated comment re: "reflexively support," "less public debate" and "politically taboo": utter nonsense!  Nonetheless ...]  All this seems to have been lost, however, on Omar Kurdi, a alumnus of UC Irvine and former MSU member.  His response is illustrative of the way Israel's enemies distort facts and fabricate false narratives in their effort to advance their singular agenda.

... the administration's draconian response will unquestionably have a chilling effect on student activism at UC Irvine and across the country.
It may have a chilling effect on inappropriate and counterproductive disruption of the free speech of others.  We should hope it does.  Student activism, however, is in no peril.

... No student wants a Judenrein campus, but we also don't want one in which Muslim student life is suffocated.
As chancellor Drake has stated, "the behavior of the protesters was 'antithetical to everything we stand for and everything we are.' "  Such behavior on the part of a student organization at any university is subject to disciplinary action such as suspension and does not "suffocate" student life.  To the contrary.

... Three weeks ago the world watched in horror as Israeli commandos raided a flotilla of aid ships trying to break Israel's illegal siege of Gaza. Nine humanitarian workers were killed.
This version of events has been conclusively disproven and refuted.  The siege was not illegal and the nine who were killed were not "humanitarian workers."  I would add that the notorious "smuggled, unedited video" being splashed around the internet in no way contradicts the footage or the explanation released by the IDF but in any event let's bear in mind that it was filmed, selectively, by a participant in the (actually illegal) attempt to break the blockade.  Hardly an objective source.

... The university's decision ... conjures up images reminiscent of a military coup d'├ętat and the subsequent banning of the deposed party's top brass from politics.
Huh?  Dude, put down that pipe.

... Even President Obama was briefly disrupted by anti-abortion activists during his May 2009 commencement address at Notre Dame University, yet no one was arrested or punished for associating with the offenders.
Well, yes, he was.  Even he (whose First Amendment rights, by the way, are no greater than those of Ambassador Oren or anyone else).  One interruption, one time, by one person.  Not a coordinated, orchestrated and covered-up attempt to prevent him from speaking at all.  A protest.  Although still extremely rude, this is how it's done.  The MSU should pay attention.

... History will surely absolve the 11 UC Irvine students and condemn those who legitimize war criminals.
No, it won't, Omar.  Unless, of course (God forbid) that history is written by the MSU's founders, the Muslim Brotherhood, and their comrades in global jihad.  All those who love freedom and liberty should strive mightily to assure that never happens.

Heads we win ...

Who didn't see this coming?

Knesset Member Hanin Zoabi (Balad), who participated in the Gaza-bound flotilla to break the blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory, said that the cabinet's decision to ease the blockade "proves that it is not a security blockade, but a political one."
Ms. Zoabi, unfortunately, lives in an alternate reality, where down is up, white is black, and sending navy seals into a confrontation with paintball rifles signals an effort to maximize fatalities.  In real life, she's a member of Israel's parliament (one of three MKs from the Arab Balad party) which position she uses to vilify the Jewish State (a description she utterly rejects) at every opportunity.  Such is life in an "apartheid state" ... if you don't know the meaning of "apartheid."

Zoabi and her fellow travelers don't actually approve of the easing of the blockade because it might lower the level of the global anti-Israeli rhetoric.  This part, though, I think she accidentally got right.

"Israel is under siege as far as (global public opinion) is concerned; not because the world is anti-Semitic or hostile toward Israel, but because Israel is applying its own moral code and does not adhere to the universal code," she claimed.
If Israel actually did stop applying her own (much higher) moral code and gave that universal puppy a try, she might find a little more reluctance on the part of some to mess with her.  Ain't gonna happen, though.

Two letters

It's interesting to compare the House and Senate letters to President Obama that are currently circulating in Congress supporting Israel's response to the terror flotilla.  There are many similarities, but quite a few differences, as well.  Take this paragraph in the Senate version:

We fully support Israel's right to self-defense. In response to thousands of rocket attacks on Israel from Hamas terrorists in Gaza, Israel took steps to prevent items which could be used to support these attacks from reaching Gaza. Israel's naval blockade, which is legal under international law, allows Israel to keep dangerous goods from entering Gaza by sea. The intent of the measures is to protect Israel, while allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza.
The House letter is a bit different:

On May 31, after repeated warnings, Israeli forces intercepted a flotilla attempting to break through its naval blockade of Gaza. The blockade of Gaza was instituted to stop terrorists from smuggling weapons into Gaza to murder innocent civilians. Since Israel's disengagement from Gaza in 2005, Hamas has fired more than 10,000 rockets and mortars at Israel's civilian population. Acknowledging the seriousness of the problem, Egypt also initiated its own blockade of Gaza along the Rafah crossing in 2007.
The Senate unequivocally declares the blockade to be "legal under international law" but makes no mention of Egypt's closing of the Rafah border.  The House avoids a position on the legal issue but emphasizes Egypt's parallel attempt toward the same goal.

Both letters leave no doubt as to the origin of the violence that erupted on the Mavi Marmara and are quite graphic in their descriptions.  The House letter, however, makes only passing mention of the role of Turkey and the IHH.

The several dozen who attacked the Israeli soldiers were not peaceful aid workers, but extremists who sought to aid the Iran-backed terrorist Hamas regime in Gaza. Days before, as broadcast on al-Jazeera, they proclaimed their willingness to be martyrs for the destruction of Israel, revealing a sinister element of premeditated violence. Furthermore, as confirmed by the State Department and intelligence agencies around the world, the Turkish aid group that sent out the flotilla, Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), has met with senior officials of recognized terrorist groups over the last three years.
The Senate letter goes into much more detail on this score.

We are deeply concerned about the IHH's role in this incident and have additional questions about Turkey and any connections to Hamas. The IHH is a member of a group of Muslim charities, the Union of Good, which was designated by the US Treasury Department as a terrorist organization. The Union of Good was created by and strongly supports Hamas, which has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the US State Department. We recommend that your administration consider whether the IHH should be put on the list of foreign terrorist organizations, after an examination by the intelligence community, the State Department, and the Treasury Department.
This is a dramatic difference.  There are those who feel we shouldn't be rocking the boat with Turkey just now, that by antagonizing Erdogan we're pushing him into the arms of Iran.  Others feel it's way past time to call Turkey on its slide into an Islamist black hole or, as some retired Turkish ambassadors are suggesting, into neo-Ottomanism.  I can't say whether these sentiments are behind the differences in the approach to Turkey in these particular letters, but it appears there may be some significance lurking there.

Neither house was impressed with the role of the UN.  From the Senate:

We commend the action you took to prevent the adoption of an unfair United Nations Security Council resolution, which would have represented a rush to judgment by the international community. We also deplore the actions of the United Nations Human Rights Council which, once again, singled out Israel. Israel has announced its intention to promptly carry out a thorough investigation of this incident and has the right to determine how its investigation is conducted. In the meantime, we ask you to stand firm in the future at the United Nations Security Council and to use your veto power, if necessary, to prevent any similar biased or one-sided resolutions from passing.
And from the House:

Further, we urge you to remain steadfast in the defense of Israel in the face of the international community's rush to unfairly judge and condemn Israel in international fora such as the United Nations Security Council. We urge you to continue to use U.S. influence and, if necessary, veto power to prevent any biased or one-sided resolutions from passing.
Neither was there any light between them on the ultimate issue:

Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East and a vibrant democracy. Israel is also a partner to the United States on military and intelligence issues in this critical region. That is why it is our national interest to support Israel at a moment when Israel faces multiple threats from Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the current regime in Iran.

As Israel faces increased threats, most recently from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which announced that it could provide a naval escort to any additional aid ships wishing to reach Gaza, the United States must continue to stand by Israel, one of our strongest allies.
Amen to that.

Congressional support for Israel ... again

Letters are once again circulating in both the House (sponsored by Reps. Poe and Peters) and the Senate (sponsored by Senators Reid and McConnell) in support of Israel.  This time, the letters are directed to the President and they make a strong case in defense of Israel's response to the terror flotilla.

So far, there are 56 75 85 87 Senators who have signed on, among them many Democrats (including Arlen Specter).

So far, there are 204 262 279 307 315 322 329 members of the House who have signed on, also including many Democrats.  Joe Sestak is was not among them.  (At least he's consistent.  He didn't sign this letter supporting Israel, either.  But lest you think he just doesn't like signing letters, he did manage to put his pen to this one asking Obama to pressure Israel (and Egypt) to lift the Gaza blockade.)

Many thanks to those who have signed the Poe-Peters and Reid-McConnell letters.  Your support is deeply appreciated.

Note: this post is being updated as the number of signatories increases.   Still no sign of Sestak  6/18/10 11:51 am

Update: Sestak signs!  Consistency is overrated.  Thank you, Joe!

6/21/10 4:38 pm ... 28 new signatures in the House

6/22/10 ... another 8

6/23/10 2:00 pm ... and 2 more senators (Feingold and Rockefeller) makes 87

Thanks to AIPAC for keeping these tallies updated.

A letter never sent

Evgeny Kissin is an extraordinary, world renowned concert pianist.  What's not quite as well known is that he's also an extraordinary advocate for Israel and the Jewish people.  See this page of his fan website, which contains the text of his "Letter that was Never Sent," along with that of an open letter he sent last year to the BBC, castigating it for its "slander and bias towards Israel, painfully reminiscent of the old Soviet anti-Zionist propaganda."  (Links to these can also be found on the "Library" page of his personal website as well.)

Here are a few excerpts from "A Letter that was Never Sent."

. . . Having come to the conclusion that territorial concessions to Arafat were only provoking more war, the overwhelming majority of the Israeli people voted for Sharon in the elections that took place a few months after the Camp David talks (the fairness of those elections has never been questioned even by Israel's most malicious enemies). Although the Sharon landslide crushed Bark [Barak] in those elections, he formed a government of national unity and invited his crushed adversaries from the Labour Party to join it; in particular, the well-known Shimon Peres became the Foreign Minister in that government. Once formed, the Israeli government of national unity headed by Sharon started defending its citizens against Palestinian terrorists and NEVER TARGETED A SINGLE PALESTINIAN CIVILIAN in their defensive operations (although many Palestinian civilians were killed by Israeli bullets - not only because civilians inevitably die in any war, no matter whether they are being targeted or not, but also because Palestinian terrorists were using their own civilians, including children, as human shields). After all of that, in April of 2002, you declared to me in our last phone conversation that the West had to remove Sharon from power in order to achieve peace in the Middle East, that Arafat was a "poor man", whereas Sharon - "a criminal"! Such statements, T ,OBJECTIVELY not only exclude the possibility of the person who pronounces them (or just thinks this way) being my friend, they also make him/her MY ENEMY - mine, as well as all the Jewish people's; this is a fact of the objective reality, like summer is hot and winter is cold, the sun shines and stars twinkle. You say that I don't have the flexibility to accept other people's ideas - yes, I do and to a high degree (all my friends know that), but everything depends on the idea, and indeed, there are ideas which all of us don't (and shouldn't!) have the flexibility to accept. I can't accept the idea that Haman was a poor man, and Mordechai a criminal; I can't accept the idea that Hitler was a poor man, and Anelevich, a criminal; nor can I accept the idea that Arafat was a poor man, whereas Sharon was a criminal. Those who hold such "ideas" are MY AND MY ENTIRE PEOPLE'S OBJECTIVE ENEMIES.
[ ... ]

Yes, T, in the end we'll all die and our bodies will all rot or be cremated - but we'll enter history according to our deeds, words and beliefs (in certain situations, a word is also a deed - and a very important one). All the persecutors and butchers of my people from the Pharaohs to Andropov have already entered history as monsters, whereas all those who helped Jews in hard times are being recognized as heroes and righteous people. More and more people are realizing now that your fellow leftists who marched in the so-called "peace demonstrations" during the Cold War were naive puppets of the Evil Empire, whereas Reagan, Thatcher, Pope John Paul the 2nd and their allies (whatever one may think of the other aspects of their policies) liberated hundreds of millions of victims of Communism and saved the entire mankind from the red plague. Likewise, all the Arafats, Nasrallas, Haniyes, Ahmadinejads and their ilk will remain in history as monsters; you and your co-thinkers - as their naive puppets; whereas Jean Kirkpatrick and Oriana Fallaci, Nonie Darwish and Brigitte Gabriel - all those wonderful people with brilliant minds and courageous hearts will enter history and remain for ever as heroes.


(He notes that the initial of his addressee's name has been altered.)

Please do read the whole thing.

Nagging anxiety

I'm afraid David Harsanyi has a point here.

Of course, I am not suggesting that Thomas has a birthright to sit in the front row at a White House news conference (a situation that hasn't made sense for at least three decades) or that anyone has an inalienable right to pontificate about the world for a newspaper chain or anyone else.

And no, I can't mourn the loss of Helen Thomas' detestable opinions. But at the same time, I can't help but feel some trepidation about the ease in which some voices -- in this case, one voice that is probably more honest than others of similar ideological disposition -- can be expelled from the conversation simply for offending.

I confess that this has been bothering me, as well.

Helen's greatest (old) hits

Lest we forget ... you can find a bunch of them here.  This is a prime example from a White House press briefing on January 6, 2003:

Thomas: At an earlier briefing, Ari, you said that the president deplored the taking of innocent lives. Does that apply to all innocent lives in the world?

Fleischer: Well, Helen--
Thomas: And I have a follow-up.
Fleischer: --I refer specifically to a horrible terrorist attack in Tel Aviv that killed scores and wounded hundreds. And the president, as he said in a statement yesterday, deplores in the strongest terms the taking of those lives and the wounding of those people, innocents in Israel.
Thomas: My follow-up is, why does he want to drop bombs on innocent Iraqis?

She asked that question a lot, it seems, often (as in this case) trying to change the subject in the process.  Very nuanced, very professional.  Here are the details of the attack that Ari Fleisher was talking about, by the way.

Jan 5, 2003 - Twenty-three people - 15 Israelis and 8 foreign nationals - were killed and about 120 wounded in a double suicide bombing near the old Central Bus Station in Tel-Aviv. The attack was apparently carried out by two members of the Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, with the help of the Islamic Jihad.

Something else a lot of people seem to have forgotten ... not everyone considered Helen Thomas' front row center seat so sacrosanct.  George W. Bush was regularly drubbed by the usual detractors for bumping her to the back of the room or otherwise snubbing her on more than one occasion (though according to this source, she retained her seat of honor for press briefings as opposed to conferences).  You can find her whining about it in a mushball interview by Andrew Denton, here, or during this appearance on Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me (Round 2).

Empty seat

Helen Thomas has melted resigned ... er, retired

So the middle seat in the front row was empty for Gibbs' daily briefing today.  She wouldn't have enjoyed it.  (Personally, I suspect Helen's seat has been empty for some time now.)

Ever the optimist (~), I'm hoping that her inexcusable remarks last week will have a lasting positive impact.  Changes appear to be in the works. Says the Board of the White House Correspondents Association:

But the incident does revive the issue of whether it is appropriate for an opinion columnist to have a front row seat in the WH briefing room. That is an issue under the jurisdiction of this board. We are actively seeking input from our association members on this important matter, and we have scheduled a special meeting of the WHCA board on Thursday to decide on the seating issue.
Ya think?

Maybe, just maybe, this incident will also bring on a serious discussion about the bigotry and ignorance that lie at the heart of so much of what passes for "anti-Zionism" today.  "Home," for Israeli Jews, is Israel.  Not Germany, not Poland, not America, not anywhere else.  It's time some people got that.  And it's way past time the antisemites of the world had their free passes to spew baseless hatred disguised as news analysis revoked.  Yes, I'm talking about you, Pat Buchanan.

One big lie

There are a lot.  This is just one of them.

In an editorial that has been well-linked and criticized elsewhere, the NY Times said yesterday:

After Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, Israel -- with Egypt's help -- imposed a blockade on many goods and most people going into and out of the territory. The goal was to quickly turn residents against their new government.
No.  Sorry.  This total distortion of the truth has been repeated so incessantly of late that it's taken as fact without question.  Here's Peter Beinart echoing one of more popular refrains:

As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has reported, the Israeli officials in charge of the embargo adhere to what they call a policy of "no prosperity, no development, no humanitarian crisis." In other words, the embargo must be tight enough to keep the people of Gaza miserable, but not so tight that they starve.
You can find various versions of this mantra all over the lot.  But they're all attributed to anonymous, unnamed "Israeli officials" (in the singular or plural).  Here's another.

When the blockade was tightened in June 2007, an Israeli official described the policy in off-the-record comments as "no prosperity, no development, no humanitarian crisis", Michael Bailey of Oxfam told the BBC.

Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahyu, said he had never heard this phrase.

And small wonder.  It hasn't exactly gone viral (after being in circulation for about a year now, Google reports only 265 hits for that particular phrase, most of them self-referential), and up to now has lived mainly in the fever swamps of anti-Israel rage.  But it's catching on.  Meanwhile, back in the reality-based world ...

Here's a catalog of humanitarian aid transferred to Gaza through Israel.  But that's only while the actual war was going on.  Here's the rest, since then.  It's damn hard to spin this as an effort to "keep the people of Gaza miserable."  The fact is that it's Hamas that's keeping the people of Gaza miserable.  Do "Israeli officials" regularly take pains to point that out?  You bet they do.  That's not exactly the same as making their misery a "goal."  But the distinction may be lost on some.

So I'll keep this short and simple: 

Israel is at war with Hamas.  Hamas wants to destroy Israel and has vowed to stop at nothing less (that's a stated goal).  So Israel has no choice but to try to prevent Hamas from doing that. 

One of the main objectives of Operation Cast Lead was to deplete the stocks of weapons, ammunition and fortifications that Hamas had amassed in the Gaza Strip.  Having accomplished that in large part, it was then incumbent upon Israel to see that those stocks were not replenished, or at least to minimize the extent to which they were. 

Hence, the embargo.  Hence, the blockade.

The problem is that Hamas has already busted the blockade.  They've acquired extremely potent weapons that aren't being brought in by boat or truck or tunnel.  Those weapons are lies -- many, many lies.  And they're being effectively deployed with the credulous complicity of the Western media.

This is just one of them.

The biggest hasbara flop ever

In her 2005 book, "The Other War," the title of which refers to the battle between Israel and the palestinians for "media supremacy," Stephanie Gutmann describes the hasbara opportunities squandered in the Karine A incident.

Meanwhile, the ship itself had finally docked at the Israeli port of Eilat . . ., and the IDF press department, undeterred by the skepticism exhibited at the the press conference, was getting the arms cache ready for its big moment in the spotlight -- without any help from the division that had the best rapport with foreign diplomats and the press, the MFA.  "[The IDF] just didn't trust us," explained a foreign ministry official.  The rift between the two agencies was painfully obvious to the journalistic community when one of the reporters who had been at the Friday press conference called Gideon Meir, head of the MFA press division, for a statement about the significance of the Karine A, and Meir had to tell him that he hadn't heard about any ship capture and had no idea what he was talking about.  It was another incident that made the Israeli government look inept -- and therefore perhaps untrustworthy in its claims about the ship as well.
And later ...

Former IDF spokeswoman Col. Miri Eisen shudders when she talks about the Karine A affair, which she calls "the biggest [hasbara] flop ever."  . . .  The press conference in Eilat had been first and foremost a photo op made for Israeli television. The world audience had not been their first concern.
It would appear that it still isn't.  In an editorial comment today at the Jerusalem Post, David Horovitz is understandably livid over what he calls "a scandalous saga of withheld film."

Whichever Israeli officials took the ultimate decision to withhold, for hour after eternal hour on Monday, the IDF's footage of Israel's naval commandos being beaten to within inches of their lives aboard the Mavi Marmara, should be relieved of their responsibilities, effective immediately.
If you have not yet read this piece, please do.  The sense of rage and betrayal behind it is palpable and utterly justified.  Horovitz references similar failures during the 2006 Lebanon war.  And there are echoes of the failures in the 2002 Karine A incident, as well.

Let there be no doubt about this. The failure to release in good time the video evidence that showed exactly why Israeli commandos resorted to live fire aboard the Mavi Marmara, the video evidence that would emphatically have affected the way the incident was perceived around the world, was not accidental. Neither was it the consequence of some kind of bureaucratic snafu. Nor was it held back for technical reasons.

It was the result of a decision. The officials, in their various competing, conflicting, inadequate propaganda hierarchies, actively chose, after consultation, not to release it. (The Jerusalem Post's military correspondent Yaakov Katz provides some of the specifics elsewhere on these pages.) [Link: here]

Some of their considerations are not beneath contempt. There was a legitimate concern, for instance, that the footage, showing colleagues in such trouble, might prove demoralizing for Israeli troops. And some of their considerations are utterly contemptible, including the scandalous parochial obsession with local TV - the insistent, misguided desire to hold back dramatic material until late in the Israeli day, so that as many people as possible here will see it fresh on the 8 p.m. Hebrew nightly news.
This stuff matters.  It's inexcusable that Horovitz is still having to ask a lot of the same questions that Stephie Gutmann asked back in 2005, and that a lot of us have been asking for decades.

Israel will pay and pay for that failure [of the delayed footage] in the days, weeks and months ahead.

But will it spark the long overdue strategic overhaul of Israel's conduct on the "second battlefield?" Will it finally prompt the prime minister to establish a single, effective, properly resourced hierarchy to coordinate the way Israel presents and explains its challenges in the media, legal and diplomatic forums?
If past performance is any indication of future results, sadly, it won't.

Turkey's agenda

According to Ralph Peters, it's all about Turkey.

Yesterday's "aid convoy" incident off the coast of Gaza wasn't about bringing humanitarian supplies to the terrorist-ruled territory. It wasn't even about Israel.

It was about Turkey's determination to position itself as the leading Muslim state in the Middle East.

Three ships of that six-ship pro-terror convoy flew Turkish flags and were crowded with Turkish citizens. The Ankara government -- led by Islamists these days -- sponsored the "aid" operation in a move to position itself as the new champion of the Palestinians.

And Turkish decision-makers knew Israel would have to react -- and were waiting to exploit the inevitable clash. The provocation was as cynical as it was carefully orchestrated.

Interesting take.  There's been an element of slight-of-hand to this whole drama.  The main declared organizers of the flotilla were the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief ("IHH"), whose ties to and support of Hamas (among other terrorist organizations) are pretty much beyond dispute, and the International Solidarity Movement ("ISM"), ditto, at least in terms of support.  But Hamas is a proxy for Iran, which is also vying for the Muslim leadership position.  And yet ...

Then, just last month, the Turks moved to provide the Iranian regime with cover for its nuclear program. And we still didn't get it.

The most dramatic transformation in the Middle East since the fall of the shah is playing out before us. And we can't see behind the mask of the "plight of the Palestinians" (a key Obama administration concern).

In yesterday's confrontation, Israel behaved clumsily. The peace activists behaved savagely. The Turks behaved cynically. The world reacted predictably.

And Washington scratched its head.

We're being played.  Like a cheap violin. 


Per the Israeli inspectors:

  • the actual humanitarian aid found on the flotilla ships consists of items that are not in short supply in Gaza;
  • the ships also contained sacks of concrete and metal rods, which are among the materials Israel strives to keep out of Gaza as they are routinely confiscated by Hamas and used to build bunkers and manufacture weapons;
  • the materials were loaded onto the ships in a haphazard manner, in violation of accepted international safety and operational standards such that they would "not be accepted in any port."
These are minor details in the larger scheme of things but they're indicative of something more important, which is that the "peace activists" clearly felt no need to make even a pretense of being on a legitimate humanitarian mission.  They were that confident in the gullibility and the rush to judgment of the "international community" that they didn't bother to worry about the window dressing.  Facts just weren't likely to get in the way.

Best question (and one of the best essays) of the day:  Don't members of the press ever resent being so used?  (Read it all.)

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