A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
June 3, 2010 The Gaza Flotilla- What We Now Know
The Israeli government is laboriously trying to decide how to respond to the world-wide criticism that its country has come under since its soldiers were ambushed, attempting to stop the ships headed to Gaza. I think it would be useful to summarize what we know as of now. Much of this has been known for a few days (and I wrote about most of it on Tuesday) but le't's review:
First, this was not a ship filled solely with international aid workers or other people with peaceful goals. There might have been a large number of activists, but this was ship was clearly filled with potential suicide bombers. It seems this is what a group of those on the ship were trying to do. Nine of them succeeded, at least in the suicide part. The IDF presented captured footage showing one of the attackers saying beforehand he has tried twice before to become a "Shahid"-- this time he hope he succeeds. Second, The group that sent the ships has been closely tied to Muslim fundementatlist groups; groups that have clearly been responsible for terrorist activities. It is also clear the Turks on board had been heavily influenced by the rise of Islam and anti Israeli attitudes in Turkey. This rise of Islam has been led by Erogdwan, the Turkish Prime Minister, who has set Turkey on a steady anti-Israel and anti-Western path. According to the chief foreign correspondent of the Israel Channel 10, who just returned from Turkey; who spent significant time in Gaza and the West Bank, says he has never been to a rally (like last night's demonstration in Istanbul) where the hatred for Israel was so strong. He fears that Turkey could turn into another Iran. There is an excellent piece on Turkey in the Wall Street Journal called: Erodwan and the Decline of the Turks
The plan was an ingenious set up on the part of the planners. They wanted violence and they were ready to make the best use of it. The world fell right into their trap, immediately blaming Israel, as if it had deliberately (or even accidently) killed dozens of women and children. There is another excellent article in the WSJ on how fast the world rushes to condemn Israel, called: Beating Up on Israel
We also know that Israeli intelliegence failed completely to anticipate what happened; something that is not understandable, since it would seem one of the easier assigments to have gotten an agent on to a ship full of activist from all parts of the world. However, there was no attempt to gain that intelligence, assumedly, since it was no one's priority. This, again, shows the failure of the Israeli government to understand what its priorities should be.
We also know how poor, or more correctly, how slow Israel's PR campaign is. As I mentioned yesterday, the IDF films of the event have been the number 1, 2 and 3 most watched films on YouTube... but they came late! Today, Michael Oren had an excellent article in NYT, An Assault Cloaked In Peace, but he writes most of what I wrote from public sources on Tuesday, on Thursday. Israel needs to learn to act like some American politicians to control the news cycle as much as possible.
On the positive side, Vice President Biden was on Charlie Rose last night http://www.charlierose.com/ In the interview, he defended the right of Israel to intercept the ships and gave a historic perspective- making the simple point that if Hamas was to accept the conditions of the Quartet: Refute violence, agree to Peace Talks and Accept Prior agreements, there would be no quarantine. Biden, who is the person closest to President Obama in the administration would clearly not have gone on air with such a statement without the President's green light.
Finally, on a really positive note: A new natural gas field was discovered off the coast of Israel. It is double the size of the field that was discovered last year. That first field will be able to supply Israel with natural gas for 20-30 years, the new field if its projections come to fruition will turn Israel into a major Gas exporter.