Let’s get a few things clear:
- I support Israel as our ally in the Middle East.
- I believe that Hamas is a terrorist organization, regardless of their legitimate climb to control.
- I also believe that a naval blockade to prevent weapons from entering Gaza is defensible.
- Israel relies on winning over the moderate Muslims to accept their existence in the Middle East as a legitimate power. Turkey was an ally of Israel.
- Appearance always, always trumps intention. You can have the best intentions, but if you appear to be doing something counter-productive, you’ll be seen as a counter-productive element regardless.
So here’s my overall opinion about the raid on that Turkish vessel –
Israel handled the boarding badly. There were better ways to handle that situation that could have resulted in pinpointing the true culprits in that ship riot. Aggressively assaulting a popular humanitarian vessel in the middle of the night and rappelling down onto the deck in a full commando fashion is going to make it look like Israel was trying to goad the people on the boat to fight back. Who knows what the intention was there, even if it was good intentions. A day raid would have been better, where there are no surprises.
Israel also handled the press badly. The PM comes on, hours after the incident, and tells us the boat wouldn’t stop and ran the blockade. Later, he states that all the ships stopped, but the crew was rioting before the Israelis boarded the ship. Even later – after a video is released – he states that the riot didn’t start until after his forces rappelled down onto the deck and a few Turks brandished guns. Even later yet, the PM comes back to state that the Turks were only armed with clubs, and the guns they had were from wrestling them away from the boarding Israelis. Look, it’s this simple – don’t make a statement about what happened, especially a FALSE statement that you have to continuously rectify, until you have all the facts. What are we supposed to believe if Israel keeps changing the story, notably when conflicting video is released? Bad PR move on the part of Israel.
I will condemn the Turks on board the ship filled with humanitarian aid who attacked the Israelis. Not exactly winning our hearts and minds with violence.
So the reality of the situation is that Israel has turned even more people against them. The moderates they need to lure away from the extremist positions that want Israel dead are now floating back to the terrorists’ position. Their ally Turkey is now a very tenuous one at best. Again, what is perceived always trumps what is intended.
Note: George Will and Liz Cheney have very limited viewpoints on foreign policy. Once again, I saw both of them on ABC’s This Week talking about how this isn’t a PR disaster for the Israelis – that the world is responsible for Israel’s bad rep. What a load of bullshit. Israel is responsible for Israel’s reputation in the world. And George Will implying the international community is fake is totally oblivious to reality. Shows how uneducated he can sound when he’s talking politics.