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Monday, May 31, 2010 

The suicide of Israel.

I can't really put it much better than Flying Rodent already has, yet it's still worth dwelling on for a moment longer. Commentators like Melanie Phillips ("'Peace convoy'? This was an Islamist terror ambush" is her verdict) often write about the "suicide of the West", despairing of our apparent submission to Islamic extremists, our loss of faith in our Judeo-Christian heritage, and also, of course, our moral decadence. What though, is Israel's latest act of belligerence but yet further proof of the suicidal idiocy of the country's political and ruling class?

The only conclusion that can be reached is that Israel seems to imagine that it no longer needs allies, that it no longer needs friends, except for those that can be relied upon to repeatedly defend the indefensible, for which see the above. It's true that the country has acted this way in the past, such as when it attacked the USS Liberty, but that was during the Six Day War, or when it destroyed a Libyan passenger airline that had gone off course, but then no one cares about the Libyans and that was put down as another in Israel's long line of military "mistakes". The boarding of the Mavi Marmara is however the third such act of apparently shocking stupidity in 18 months: first the murderous assault on Gaza, having provoked Hamas into breaching a ceasefire which the Israelis openly admitted they had broken first, apparently purely for electoral benefit; next the almost comically inept if successful assassination of very minor player Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, earning rebukes and diplomatic expulsions from countries which didn't take kindly to Mossad yet again forging and stealing the passports of their civilians; and now a mindbogglingly foolish assault on a peace flotilla trying to deliver aid to the impoverished and long-suffering open-air prison which is the tiny strip of land known as Gaza.

It doesn't really matter whose side of the story is the most accurate, although it's instructive that the videos released by the IDF of the commandos coming aboard the Mavi Marmara show nothing of the arrival of the helicopters that delivered them, or of the boats involved in surrounding the vessels, when the people on the boats and indeed an al-Jazeera reporter on board one claimed that they were first fired upon. All the people around the world will see is the Israelis intercepting boats with an entirely peaceful purpose out in international waters, which means they were committing an act of piracy simply by attempting to get on board. And honestly, how did they think they were going to react to commandos apparently storming their vessel? Welcome them with open arms and sit down to discuss the rights and wrongs of the siege of Gaza? It's almost as if they were actively hoping that they were going to be mobbed, record it for the world to see and then claim that their motives were far from benign after all. It seems they weren't counting on the response being so unequivocal, but again it's notable that the worst that seems to have happened to those who went on board is that one suffered "serious head injuries" after he was thrown over a rail. Accounts still differ but at least 9 on the other side are known to have been killed. Again, that all communications with the vessels were successfully severed shortly after the assault began is instructive of how the Israelis only wanted their side of the attack to be seen.

As if relations between Turkey and Israel were not stretched as they were, the only Muslim country with which Israel has anything approaching diplomatic friendship with, they've now attacked a ship carrying the Turkish flag and also it seems killed mainly Turks. After royally pissing off the Americans earlier in the year by snubbing Joe Biden during a visit to the country, they've now once again showed how they can't be relied upon to act with anything even approaching civility towards those with honourable intentions, even if they disagree profusely with them on their methods and overriding philosophy. After first responding with the usual amount of biliousness and demagoguery we've come to expect from the Israeli government PR machine, that Benjamin Netanyahu has "expressed regret", as the prime ministers of Israel always do after they've committed yet another outrage, perhaps suggests that they've realised that they've gone too far this time. The Guardian today reports that the US has been making secret overtures to Hamas, over the heads of the Israelis, fed up with impasse between Israel and Fatah. After helping to create Hamas, Israel has strained every sinew to not recognise the Islamic faction; through its apparent determination to lose friends and alienate everyone, including its closest ally, it might yet be forced to deal with those who continue to refuse to so much as recognise the Jewish state. And if they are, they will only have themselves to blame.

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Its a minor point, but Hamas aren't nearly as intransigent as they're made out to be. They've used recognition of Israel as a bargaining chip. They've said they would recognise Israel within the 67 borders, once Palestine was established in the West Bank and Gaza. They just refuse to recognise it without receiving anything in return. Which given that Israel refuses to recognise Palestine, is not unreasonable.

Suicide indeed, I only hope that this atrocity causes a sea-change in the rest of the world's dealing with Israel.

don't hold your breath daniel.

Yes, indeed Mary, they become even more intransigent.

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