A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
June 2, 2010 Israel Fails In Propoganda War Over Intercepted Ships
As I write this article I cannot decide whether to scream, yell or just sit down and cry. I received an e-mail this morning from an Israeli friend, who said he liked yesterday's column, but did not understand why the world cared so much about a small group of Turkish thugs being killed. The answer is simple. The world does not know the people who were killed were all Turkish thugs or worse. In the view of the world, Israel killed 9 innocent women and children who were merely trying to help the poor refugees of Gaza. Unless you carefully watch the Israeli news, the best case scenario you might have heard regarding Israel's actions seems to be that the flotilla were filled with peace activists who decided to fight back, instead off allowing the Israeli Navy to stop their mission.
To make matters worse, (if that is possible), the Israeli government is now following the worst possible strategy on all levels to deal with this expanding crisis. First, Israel is ignoring international calls for an investigation. So, Monday the Security Council asked for an independent Israeli investigation of the incident. Israel ignored that request. Now, today, the "exhalted UN Human Rights Commission" who brought Israel the Goldstone report, has now empowered an international investigation- with only the US, Canada and Italy opposing. So on one hand, Israel is ignoring world and American pressure for a rapid investigation, on the other hand, it is absurdly giving in to Turkish pressure and freeing all those in Israeli hospitals who were injured in the fight, without being identified and returning the bodies to Turkey. This practice goes against all established norms. Clearly the Turks want the bodies back before they can be identified.
In the first few hours after the incident, while Netanyahu was in Canada, commentators were saying that the most important thing Netanyahu could do was to go on and meet with Obama, and also meet the US Press, since he has always been one of Israel’s best spokesman. Instead, Netanyahu decided to return to Israel (maybe because Obama did not want to see him). Once back in Israel, did he get ahead of the story? Did he take control of the foreign media message? NO! He was silent until tonight. Tonight, in what was billed as an important prime time address, Netanyahu went on Israeli TV (only in Hebrew), and spoke about how once again the whole world is against us and we are right. He stated that we cannot allow Iran to have a base in Gaza... and that our poor soldiers were almost lynched. Netanyahu did not mention one word about investigations, self-reflection, or what Israel was going to do.
What Israel should have done is appoint former Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak to head a commission of inquiry. Israel should have stated it could not release the injured and the dead bodies until Barak could investigate. It should have admitted its mistakes, but put the Turks on trial for their complicity in a near act of war.
Instead, Israel has inured itself into a sense of victimhood. Even the use of the word "lynch" regarding the commandoes is aburd and undermines Israel’s case. You cannot talk about members of one of the world's most elite combat units being lynched. They were ambushed by surprise – but lynched? The moment the decision was taken to stop the ship, Isarel played into the hands of Hamas and Turkey. However, unless it gets its act together quickly, the damage will keep growing.
One final word, on the slightly positive side. At least when it comes to "YouTube" the Israel information effort is gaining some traction. The two videos posted by the IDF are the first and second most viewed videos on YouTube at the moment.