Monday, May 31, 2010


3:11 a.m

Ive been following the gaza flotilla story since about midnight when the first #flotilla hashmarks started appearing on Twitter. This was a good thirty minutes or so before anyone had it on Google news and an hour at least  hour before JPost and Haaretz confirmed at least two dead. Now its after 2 am and were hearing as many as 15 dead and every news organ has it.

All else aside, it was quite the 21st century experience watching the story develop on Twitter. Arab sympathizers had it first and their rumors included the claim that European parlimentarians were among the dead, and that Turkey was viewing the attack as an act of war on Turkey.

More than an hour later, as Israel started to wake up, the hasbara tweets began and we started hearing that the IDF comandos were attacked after they boarded the boats and that of course Israel was not only
totaly justified in everything that had happened but that the larger strategy pursued was also perfectly flawless.

I took some issue with that, replying that strengthening your enemy and weakening your supporters is a strategy move straight out of the chochmei chelm playbook. How does acting tough help, when it plays right into your enemies hands? The ensuing conversation is part of why I'm still up, and somewhat agitated.

Here's the thing. I think Israel did a dumb, dangerous thing today. I think the enemy wanted a confrontation, a confrontation that would produce martyrs, and Israel gave it to them. When I last checked Googe News, many  headlines  read "Israel attacks relief flotilla" That's nothing  but a big PR win for Hamas. Even if those boats were loaded to the brim with guns (and for the sake of Israel's international reputation I hope to God they were loaded with guns) its hard to see how the arrival of those guns in Gaza would have hurt Israel more than those headlines. They will be used forever to "prove"  that Israel is the sort of country that
fires on humanitarian ships in International waters (As of now, the confrontation is said to have occurred in international waters. I hope that's wrong.)

If guns don't turn up (and lets hope they do), it seems clear to me that Israel has badly tarnished its reputation, and possibly ceded the moral high ground to their enemies. This is a disaster for Israel. If no guns turn up on those boats, the attack on the flotilla turns Israel Bull Conner. Moreover, it seems obvious and self evident to me that Israel was played, and outsmarted by an enemy that wanted exactly what Israel seemed all too happy to provide. The fact that the flotilla seems to have wanted the attack, is also a strong suggestion that they weren't carrying guns. Israel should have known that, and avoided the trap.

But on Twitter there are those who don't see it this way, who remarkably insist that world opinion is
irrelevant and that anything Israel chooses to do is ipso fact correct.

This blind love, though on some levels admirable, is bad for Israel. World opinion does matter, and even the country you love best can make serious strategic errors. The attempt on Twitter to defend Israel's mistake reminds me all too much of how the anti Slifkinites defended the gedolim after their sensless and absurdly damaging to their own goals ban on Slifkin's work was announced. All that mattered to some gedolim supporters was that the gdolim were right and that those who disagreed for any reason were evil. Long term strategy, nuance, and any consideration for the big picture just went out the window. Instead we were given loyalty tests, litmus tests, and other trials of faith. All that mattered to some Jews, was that the rest of us were behind the gdolim one thousand percent.

I think something similar was at work this morning, among certain Israel supporters. I think they are likewise blinded by love for their country.

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