Archive for the ‘Smuggling’ Category


Interesting article from the Financial Times:
Asia: Heirs and spares
Financial Times, 11:14pm Sunday 10th July 2011

By Amy Kazmin, Patti Waldmeir and Girija Shivakumar

The political, economic and social consequences of a preference for sons – and an attendant shortage of girls – is alarming policymakers

In the Indian farming village of Medina, 200km from Delhi, the narrow lanes are clogged with high-end sport utility vehicles, reflecting the prosperity brought by rising land values to this traditional community. In their mud-floored homes, residents display flatscreen televisions, refrigerators and other modern conveniences.
But Medina’s families are also using their new wealth to acquire a scarce local commodity: teenage girls to act as wives for the community’s growing cohorts of unmarried men.

Read the full article at: http://on.ft.com/o8nrCy

Sent from my iPad


Welcome to the Mania!
Submitted by Jeff Clark of Casey Research
With gold punching the $1,300 mark, thoughts of what a gold mania will be like crossed my mind. If we’re right about the future of precious metals, a gold rush of historic proportions lies ahead of us. Have you thought about how a mania might affect you? Not like this, you haven’t…

You log on to your brokerage account for the third time that day and see your precious metal portfolio has doubled from last week. Gold and silver stocks have been screaming upward for weeks. Everyone around you is panicking from runaway inflation and desperate to get their hands on any form of gold or silver. It’s exhilarating and frightening in the same breath. Welcome to the mania.

Daily gains of 20% in gold and silver producers become common, even expected. Valuations have been thrown out the window – this is no time for models and charts and analysis. It’s not greed; it’s survival. Get what you can, while you can. Investors clamor to buy any stock with the word “gold” in its title. Fear of being left behind is palpable.

The shares of junior exploration companies have gone ballistic. They double and triple in days, then double and triple again. Many have already risen ten-fold. You have several up 10,000%. No end is in sight. Your portfolio swells bigger every day. Your life is changing right in front of you at warp speed.

Every business program touts the latest hot gold or silver stock. It’s all they can talk about. Headlines blare anything about precious metals, no matter how trivial. Weekly news magazines and talk-radio hosts dispense free stock picks. CNBC and Bloomberg battle to be first with the latest news. Each tick in the price of gold and silver flashes on screen, and interruptions offering the latest prediction seem to happen every fifteen minutes. Breathy reporters yell above the noise on the trade floor about insane volume, and computers that can’t keep up. Entire programs are devoted to predicting the next winner. You watch to see if some of your stocks are named. You can’t help it.

The only thing growing faster than your portfolio is the number of new “gold experts.” It’s a bull market in bull.

You can feel the crazed mass psychology all around you. Your co-workers know you bought gold some time ago and pepper you with questions seemingly every hour, interrupting your work. They ask if you heard about the latest pick from Fox Business. They want to know where you buy gold, who has the best price, and, by the way, how do I know if my gold is real? They all look at you differently now. Women smile at you in the hallway. You worry someone may follow you home.

Your relatives once teased you but now hound you with questions at family get-togethers – what stocks do you own? What’s that gold newsletter telling you? Where can I keep my bullion? You don’t want to be the life of the party, but they force it – it’s all anyone wants to talk about. Your brother tells you he dumped his broker and is trading full-time. Another relative shoves his account statement in front of you and wants advice. You sense someone will ask for a loan. You don’t know what to tell people. The attention is discomforting, and you feel the urge to escape.

At first it was exciting, then breathtaking. Now it’s scary. You’re drowning in obscene profits but are becoming increasingly anxious about how long it can last. Worry replaces excitement. You don’t know if you should sell or hold on. Nobody knows what to do. But the next day, your portfolio screams higher and you feel overwhelmed once again.

You grab the local paper and read the town’s bullion shop had a break-in last night. They hired a security company and have posted several guards outside and inside the store. Premiums have skyrocketed, but lines still form every day. The proprietor hands out tickets when locals arrive: your number will be called when it’s your turn… the wait will be long… please have your order ready… yesterday we ran out of stock at 11am.

You begin to worry about the security of your own stash of bullion – those clever hiding spots don’t feel quite as secure as you first thought they’d be. Is the bank safe deposit box really secure? Shouldn’t they hire a security guard? Should I move some of it elsewhere? Is there anywhere truly safe? You find yourself checking gun prices online.

And it’s all happening because the dollar is crashing and inflation has scourged every part of life. You curse at those who said this couldn’t happen and mock past assurances from government. Cash is a hot potato, and spending it before it loses more purchasing power is a daily priority. Everyone is clamoring to get something that can’t lose value, but mostly gold and silver.

Your wife calls and says the $100 you gave her that morning isn’t enough to buy groceries for dinner. Prices change often on everything. She urges you to get some bread and milk before the stores raises the price again. You suddenly remember you’re low on gas and make plans to leave work early to beat others to the filling station. Restaurants and small businesses post prices on a chalkboard and update them throughout the day. Employers scramble to work out an “inflation adjustment” for salaries. 

On your way home, the radio broadcaster reports the government has convened an emergency summit of all heads of state. They’re working urgently on the problem, and all other agendas have been tabled. Outside experts have been called in. We’re going to solve this rampant flood of inflation for the American people, they say. In your gut you know there’s nothing they can do.

You change the channel and hear about the spike in arrests of U.S. citizens at the Canadian border. Scads of people are caught trying to sneak bullion and stock certificates out of the country – from airports to rail stations. Violence at borders has escalated, and stories of bloodshed are getting common. The White House ordered heightened security at all U.S. borders, with the media reporting it can take days to cross. Foreign governments offer meaningless help, others mock U.S. leaders for their shortsightedness. Their countries are suffering, too.

You think about the gains in your portfolio and wince at the taxes you’ll pay when you sell. Nothing has been indexed to inflation, so everyone has been pushed into higher tax brackets. Citizens are furious with government. Agencies have been swarmed with bitter taxpayers and revolting benefit recipients. One government office was set on fire. A riot erupted in Washington, D.C. last week and martial law was temporarily declared. It’s too dangerous to travel anywhere.

As crazy as things are, it’s hard not to smile. You’re in the middle of a mania. Your life has changed permanently. You’re part of the new rich. You can quit work, live off your investments. Your wife is ecstatic, and you both feel as if it’s your second honeymoon. Your kids are amazed and gaze at you with the same awe they did when they were children.

You’re thankful you bought gold and silver before the mania, along with precious metal stocks. You daydream of where you might go, what you might buy. New options open up daily. You realize you’ll need to meet with your accountant, maybe hire a second one to protect your sudden wealth. You wonder what you’ll invest in next. You ponder what charities are worthwhile. Better meet with the attorney to redraft the will.

As night settles and your house quiets, you log on to your brokerage account one last time. Even though you’re ready for it, your mouth drops when you see your account balance. It is truly overwhelming. You think of others who own gold and silver stocks and wonder if any have sold yet. Has Doug Casey exited?

You stare at the blinking screen, hand on the mouse, the cursor hovering on the sell button…

View article…



Egypt intercepts shipment of 190 anti-aircraft missiles
By JPOST.COM STAFF
28/08/2010
Authorities uncover large weapons cache hidden in Sinai, reportedly destined for smuggling into Gaza; more ammunition and explosives seized in Rafah.
Egyptian authorities intercepted a shipment of at least 190 anti-aircraft missiles in Sinai probably destined for Gaza on Saturday, Palestinian news Agency Maan reported.

According to the report, the Egyptian police raided several storage areas in the area and discovered the secret cache hidden in a remote region in the center of the peninsula.

RELATED:
IAF targets smuggling tunnels in Gaza
Hamas reopens smuggling tunnels

In addition to the anti-aircraft missiles, rockets and other ammunition were seized, as well as a large supply of illegal drugs.

Reports also stated that authorities raided several locations in Rafah, where they found more stores of explosives and weapons.

Earlier on Saturday Kuwaiti newspaper Alrai reported that Syria’s military is on high alert for an Israeli attack on Hizbullah weapons depots located in the country.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a tough blockade of Gaza since Hamas seized power in June 2007, and the hundreds of tunnels in the Rafah area are the main entry point for many basic items, as well as weapons.

The Gaza-Egypt border sits at the northeastern tip of Sinai.

At the beginning of August, the Israeli Air Force struck a tunnel used to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip as a retaliation for a Kassam rocket fired into Israel which struck near Sderot.

Egypt intercepts shipment of 190 anti-aircraft missiles


Sub-Saharan Africa economy: Strategic rise
FROM THE ECONOMIST INTELLIGENCE UNIT
July 13th 2010

Rising global competition for commodities is giving a new strategic importance to resource-rich Sub-Saharan Africa. China and other emerging industrialised countries are vying with the subcontinent’s former colonial powers to acquire long-term stakes in mines, oilfields and other commodity assets. With unprecedented volumes of investment on offer, the stakes are high not only for resource companies seeking to expand in Africa but also for the region itself. The challenge for African governments will be to manage their commodities better to avoid a repeat of the boom-and-bust years of the 1970s-90s.

Natural resources are hardly a new story for Sub-Saharan Africa. For decades the region has depended on exports of commoditiesóoil, hard minerals and cash cropsóto fund economic growth, though often with disappointing results. The collapse in commodity prices in the late 1970s and the mismanagement of revenue inflows resulted in weak growth and rising poverty, cementing the belief that Africa’s dependence on commodities retarded its economic development. However, soaring emerging-market demand for commodities in recent years, coupled with the increasing scarcity of hydrocarbons and hard minerals, has changed the picture. Sub-Saharan Africa has become a prime target for adventurous foreign investorsówith Chinese companies playing a particularly prominent roleówith the result that the subcontinent once again has the opportunity to benefit from its natural wealth.

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most commodity-rich regions of the planet. The subcontinent contains the majority of known reserves of many key minerals, including 90% of the world’s platinum-group metals, 90% of the world’s chromium, two-thirds of the world’s manganese, and 60% of its diamonds. It contains 60% of the world’s phosphates, 50% of the world’s vanadium, and 40-50% of the world’s gold. Sub-Saharan Africa also boasts one-third of the planet’s uranium reserves, one-third of its bauxite, and 10% of all oil reserves (the bulk of which are concentrated in the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa).

Most of these resources are underexploited. Uneven development has resulted in a handful of countries dominating commodity exports. The most important by far, both in terms of the diversity of its commodity base and the volume of its exports, is South Africa. The subcontinent’s other commodity giant is the Democratic Republic of Congo, which sits on over half of the world’s cobalt reserves and 25% of its diamonds, as well as having large quantities of rare metals such as coltan (used in mobile phones). Nigeria and Angola dominate oil production. However, other countries are starting to develop their commodity resources, and several are set to become major producers in the near future. They include Guinea and Angola (iron ore), Ghana (hydrocarbons), and Guinea-Bissau (bauxite and phosphates).

Sub-Saharan Africa also boasts a large agricultural sector. Much of this focused on the production of cash crops for export to the West during the colonial period and in the first years after independence. Since the late 1970s Africa has lost global importance as an exporter of many cash crops. The main exceptions have been coffee, cocoa and tea, for which CÙte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Uganda and Kenya remain key global producers, and more specialised crops like cashew nuts (Guinea-Bissau) and vanilla (Madagascar). However, increased competition from Asian and Latin American producers, coupled with a decline in Africa’s terms of trade, has eroded profitability. Africa also continues to export large quantities of timber, particularly to China, but poor forestry management is threatening the sector’s sustainability.

A scramble for access

Major emerging markets are playing a key role in the development of the region’s commodities sector. Since the early 2000s China has invested heavily in African commodities, reflecting the two-pronged strategy of China’s state-owned oil and mining companies: first, acquiring access to reserves through long-term contracts; and second, purchasing stakes in local ventures whenever possible. According to the Chinese government, by end-2008 total Chinese investment in Sub-Saharan Africa amounted to US$26bn, including stakes in oil and gas concessions in Sudan and the Gulf of Guinea, copper mines in Zambia, iron concessions in Gabon, and ferrochrome and platinum mines in South Africa.

China is not the only player around. Chinese interest is increasingly being matched by investment from Indian or Indian-linked firms, notably the steel manufacturing giants Tata Steel and ArcelorMittal, which are acquiring stakes in large coal concessions in Mozambique. Brazil is also stepping up its investment. Given the expertise of Brazilian companies in construction, engineering and the oil sector, it is likely that these firms will provide stiff competition for contracts in the next phase of Africa’s infrastructure expansion.

Competition looks set to be particularly intense in the Gulf of Guinea, which continues to grow in strategic importance thanks to the steady increase in its proven oil reserves (a result of better deep-water drilling technology). The region is already the focus of military co-operation programmes between African governments and the US, EU and China. Tensions between these powers could increase as each seeks to establish a foothold in the region. Such a situation could prove advantageous to countries in the Gulf of Guinea if they are able to play off competing powers against each other. However, past experience indicates that such competition and strategic alliances can be used to prop up unsavoury regimes. This also poses potential difficulties for foreign investors. China is learning the hard way that its resource grabs can expose it to reputational risks over human-rights and environmental abuses.

Reaping the benefits?

There are plenty of other challenges. The region exports a lot of its commodities in unprocessed form, thus missing the chance to add value to them. For example, Guinea-Bissau exports its entire cashew crop (over 90% of the country’s exports) to India for processing. The creation of low-tech processing operations could capture more of the value of the crop, as well as creating significant numbers of jobs. However, efforts to develop processing industries in Africa have proved disappointing owing to the constraints of the business environment, poor management and competition from processors in India and China.

Broader challenges include managing capital inflows better and maximising the economic benefits of foreign investments. Progress is occurring, with improved local-content provisions in mining contracts, the imposition of tighter environmental standards and greater transparency over commodity revenues. However, greater efforts are needed. African governments must ensure that infrastructure development does not just support the exploitation and export of minerals but also facilitates trade and the movement of people and goods. Local workforces must be trained in new skills and not just used for manual labour. A large proportion of oil and mineral revenues need to be held outside the countries in question in order to prevent currency appreciation that could render other industries uncompetitive.

If African governments can realise these aims, there is a good chance that the subcontinent’s natural-resource endowment could provide major benefits to the population. Otherwise, the next wave of commodity development will merely entrench poor governance and corruption and further stifle economic development.

The Economist Intelligence Unit

Source: Global Forecasting Service

© 2010 The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited. An Economist Group business. All rights reserved.

Sub-Saharan Africa economy: Strategic rise Sub-Saharan Africa economy: Strategic rise ViewsWire
________________________

The MasterBlog



Our World: Ending Israel’s losing streak 

By CAROLINE B. GLICK

01/06/2010

A straight line runs from the anti-Israel UN resolution passed last Friday and the Hamas flotilla. 
These words are being written before the dust has settled on Monday morning’s naval commando raid on the Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla of terror supporters. The raid’s full range of operational failures still cannot be known. Obviously the fact that the mission ended with at least six soldiers wounded and at least 10 Hamas supporters dead makes clear that there were significant failures in both the IDF’s training for and execution of the mission.

The navy and other relevant bodies will no doubt study these failures. But they point to a larger strategic failure that has crippled the country’s capacity to contend with the information war being waged against it. Until this failure is remedied, no after-action investigation, no enhanced training, no new electronic warfare doodad will make a significant impact on Israel’s ability to contend with the next Hamas flotilla.

IN THE space of four days, the country has suffered two massive defeats. A straight line runs between the anti-Israel resolution passed last Friday at the UN’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference and the Hamas flotilla. And in both cases, officials voiced “surprise” at these defeats.

Given the months-long build-up to the NPT review conference, and the weeks-long build-up to the Turkish-Hamas flotilla, that surprise cannot be attributed to a lack of information. What it points to, rather, is a cognitive failure of our leaders to understand the nature of the war being waged against us. And it is this fundamental failure of cognition that has landed six soldiers in the hospital, the nation’s international reputation in tatters and its spokesmen searching for a way to describe a reality they do not understand.

The reality is simple and stark. Israel is the target of a massive information war, unprecedented in scale and scope. This war is being waged primarily by a massive consortium of the international Left and the Arab and Islamic worlds. The staggering scale of the forces aligned against us is demonstrated by two things.

The Hamas abetting Free Gaza Web site published a list of some 222 organizations that endorsed the terror-supporting flotilla. The listed organizations from the four corners of the earth include Jewish anti-Israel groups as well as Christian, Islamic and nonreligious anti-Israel groups. It is hard to think of any cause other than Israel-bashing that could unite such disparate forces.

The second indicator of the scope of the war is far more devastating than the list of groups that endorsed the pro-Hamas flotilla. That indicator is the fact that at the UN on Friday, 189 governments came together as one to savage Israel. There is no other issue that commands such unanimity. The NPT review conference demonstrated that the only way the international community will agree on anything is if its members are agreeing that Israel has no right to defend itself. The conference’s campaign against Israel shows that the 222 organizations supporting Hamas are a reflection of the will of the majority of the nations of the world.

This war is nothing new. It has been going on since the dawn of modern Zionism 150 years ago. In many ways, it is just the current iteration of the eternal war against the Jewish people.

The red-green alliance’s aims are twofold. It seeks to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist and it seeks to make it impossible for Israel to defend itself. If these aims are met, Israel’s destruction will become an inevitability.

UNTIL US President Barack Obama took office, Israel’s one steady asset in this war was the US. Until last year, the US consistently refused to join the red-green alliance because its leaders recognized that the alliance’s campaign was part and parcel of its campaign against US superpower status. Indeed, some US leaders recognized that the alliance’s animus toward Israel stemmed from the same source as its rejection of American exceptionalism.

Dismally, what the US’s vote in favor of the NPT review conference’s final anti-Israel (and by default pro-Iranian) resolution makes clear is that under Obama, the US is no longer Israel’s reliable ally. Indeed, what the US’s vote shows is that the Obama administration’s ideological preferences place it on the side of the red-green alliance. No amount of backpedalling by the Obama administration can make up the damage caused by its act of belligerence.

If Israel’s leaders were better informed, they would have recognized a number of things in the lead-up to the conference. They would have realized that Obama’s anti-nuclear conference in April, his commitment to a nuclear-free world, as well as his general ambivalence – at best – to US global leadership rendered it all but inevitable that he would turn on Israel. The truth is that Egypt’s call for the denuclearization of Israel jibes with Obama’s own repeatedly statedviews both regarding Israel and the US’s own nuclear arsenal. Armed with this basic understanding of Obama’s inclinations, Israel should have taken for granted that the NPT conference would target it. Consequently, in months preceding the conference, it should have stated loudly and consistently that as currently constituted, the NPT serves as the chief enabler of nuclear proliferation rather than the central instrument for preventing nuclear proliferation. North Korea exploited its status as an NPT signatory to develop its nuclear arsenal. Today Iran exploits its status as an NPT signatory to develop nuclear weapons. Unless the NPT is fundamentally revised, it will continue to serve as the primary instrument for nuclear proliferation.

Had this been Israel’s position, it would have been able to undercut US arguments in favor of signing onto the final resolution. So too, such a position would have prepared Israel to cogently explain its rejection of the final resolution.

And that is the thing of it. The red-green alliance’s aim at the NPT conference was to discredit Israel’s deterrent capacity while delegitimizing its right to take preemptive action against Iran. Now, due to Israel’s failure to make its case against the NPT in the months leading up to the conference, as our enemies use the US-supported final resolution to claim that our opposition to Iran’s nuclear weapons program is hypocritical, we lack a cognitive framework for responding.

The fact that the government still doesn’t get the point is made clear by its response to the decision. Its denunciation of the resolution makes no mention of the fact that the NPT regime itself has become the chief enabler of nuclear proliferation. So too, disastrously, in a clear bid to pretend away Obama’s treachery, Israel actually applauded him for emptily criticizing the resolution he voted for. This response compounds the damage and ensures that the assault will continue.

AS TO the flotilla, the challenge it presented was nothing new. Israel has been confronted by suicide protesters for a decade now. The fact that these pro-Hamas activists intended to commit suicide to discredit Israel on camera was made clear by the fact that the Turkish organizers named the lead ship Rachel Corrie.

So too, the fact that IDF forces boarding the ships would be met by trenchant, violent opposition was knowable simply by looking at Turkey’s role in the operation. First of all, the Turkish government-supported NGO behind the operation is IHH. As the US government, the Turkish government in the 1990s, the Investigative Project on Terrorism and countless other sources have proven, IHH is a terrorist organization with direct links to al-Qaida and Hamas. Its members have been involved in terrorist warfare from Chechnya and Bosnia to Iraq and Israel. The notion that IHH organizers would behave like radical leftist anti-Israel demonstrators on university campuses is simply ridiculous.

Moreover, there is Turkey’s behavior to consider. Since Obama took office, Turkey’s gradual slide into the Iranian axis has sped up considerably. Turkey’s leading role in the flotilla, and the Erdogan government’s ostentatious embrace of IHH – which just a decade ago Turkey banned from earthquake relief efforts in light of its violent, jihadist mission – made clear that the Erdogan regime would use any violence on board the ships as a way to strike a strategic blow at Israel’s international standing.

In view of all of this, it is clear that the information strategy for contending with the flotilla was ill-conceived. Rather than attack Turkey for its facilitation of terrorism, and openly prepare charge sheets against the flotilla’s organizers, crew and passengers for their facilitation of terrorism in breach of both domestic law and international law, the information efforts were largely concentrated on irrelevancies. Officials detailed all the humanitarian assistance Israel has provided Hamas-controlled Gaza. They spoke of the navy’s commitment to use nonlethal force to take over the ships.

And now, in the aftermath of the lethal takeover of the flotilla, Israel’s leaders stammer. Rather than demand an apology from the Turkish government for its support for these terrorists, Defense Minister Ehud Barak called his Turkish counterpart to talk over what happened. Rather than demand restitution for the terrorist assault against IDF troops, Israel has defended its troops’ training in nonviolent crowd control.

These efforts are worse than worthless; they
make Israel appear whiny rather than indignant. And more depressingly, they expose a dangerous lack of comprehension about what has just occurred, and a concomitant inability to prepare for what will most certainly follow.

Israel is the target of a massive information war. For it to win this war, it needs to counter its enemies’ lies with the truth.

The NPT has been subverted by the very forces it was created to prevent from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Hamas is a genocidal terrorist organization ideologically indistinguishable from al-Qaida. International law requires all states and non-state actors to take active measures to defeat it.

Israel is the frontline of the free world. Its ability to defend itself and deter its foes is the single most important guarantee of international peace. A strong Israel is also the most potent and reliable guarantor of the US’s continued ability to project its power in the Middle East.

This is the unvarnished truth. It is also the beginning of a successful campaign to defang the massive coalition of nuclear proliferation- and terrorism-abettors aligned against Israel. But until our leaders finally recognize the nature of the war being waged against our country, these basic facts will remain ignored as we move from one stunning defeat to the next.

caroline@carolineglick.com

http://www.CarolineGlick.com

Our World: Ending Israel’s losing streak

________________________The MasterBlog


Geopolitical Weekly : Flotillas and the Wars of Public Opinion
“This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR


By George Friedman

On Sunday, Israeli naval forces intercepted the shipsof a Turkish nongovernmental organization (NGO) delivering humanitarian supplies to Gaza. Israel had demanded that the vessels not go directly to Gaza but instead dock in Israeli ports, where the supplies would be offloaded and delivered to Gaza. The Turkish NGO refused, insisting on going directly to Gaza. Gunfire ensued when Israeli naval personnel boarded one of the vessels, and a significant number of the passengers and crew on the ship were killed or wounded.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon charged that the mission was simply an attempt to provoke the Israelis. That was certainly the case. The mission was designed to demonstrate that the Israelis were unreasonable and brutal. The hope was that Israel would be provoked to extreme action, further alienating Israel from the global community and possibly driving a wedge between Israel and the United States. The operation’s planners also hoped this would trigger a political crisis in Israel.

A logical Israeli response would have been avoiding falling into the provocation trap and suffering the political repercussions the Turkish NGO was trying to trigger. Instead, the Israelis decided to make a show of force. The Israelis appear to have reasoned that backing down would demonstrate weakness and encourage further flotillas to Gaza, unraveling the Israeli position vis-à-vis Hamas. In this thinking, a violent interception was a superior strategy to accommodation regardless of political consequences. Thus, the Israelis accepted the bait and were provoked.

The ‘Exodus’ Scenario

In the 1950s, an author named Leon Uris published a book called “Exodus.” Later made into a major motion picture, Exodus told the story of a Zionist provocation against the British. In the wake of World War II, the British — who controlled Palestine, as it was then known — maintained limits on Jewish immigration there. Would-be immigrants captured trying to run the blockade were detained in camps in Cyprus. In the book and movie, Zionists planned a propaganda exercise involving a breakout of Jews — mostly children — from the camp, who would then board a ship renamed the Exodus. When the Royal Navy intercepted the ship, the passengers would mount a hunger strike. The goal was to portray the British as brutes finishing the work of the Nazis. The image of children potentially dying of hunger would force the British to permit the ship to go to Palestine, to reconsider British policy on immigration, and ultimately to decide to abandon Palestine and turn the matter over to the United Nations.

There was in fact a ship called Exodus, but the affair did not play out precisely as portrayed by Uris, who used an amalgam of incidents to display the propaganda war waged by the Jews. Those carrying out this war had two goals. The first was to create sympathy in Britain and throughout the world for Jews who, just a couple of years after German concentration camps, were now being held in British camps. Second, they sought to portray their struggle as being against the British. The British were portrayed as continuing Nazi policies toward the Jews in order to maintain their empire. The Jews were portrayed as anti-imperialists, fighting the British much as the Americans had.

It was a brilliant strategy. By focusing on Jewish victimhood and on the British, the Zionists defined the battle as being against the British, with the Arabs playing the role of people trying to create the second phase of the Holocaust. The British were portrayed as pro-Arab for economic and imperial reasons, indifferent at best to the survivors of the Holocaust. Rather than restraining the Arabs, the British were arming them. The goal was not to vilify the Arabs but to villify the British, and to position the Jews with other nationalist groups whether in India or Egypt rising against the British.

The precise truth or falsehood of this portrayal didn’t particularly matter. For most of the world, the Palestine issue was poorly understood and not a matter of immediate concern. The Zionists intended to shape the perceptions of a global public with limited interest in or understanding of the issues, filling in the blanks with their own narrative. And they succeeded.

The success was rooted in a political reality. Where knowledge is limited, and the desire to learn the complex reality doesn’t exist, public opinion can be shaped by whoever generates the most powerful symbols. And on a matter of only tangential interest, governments tend to follow their publics’ wishes, however they originate. There is little to be gained for governments in resisting public opinion and much to be gained by giving in. By shaping the battlefield of public perception, it is thus possible to get governments to change positions.

In this way, the Zionists’ ability to shape global public perceptions of what was happening in Palestine — to demonize the British and turn the question of Palestine into a Jewish-British issue — shaped the political decisions of a range of governments. It was not the truth or falsehood of the narrative that mattered. What mattered was the ability to identify the victim and victimizer such that global opinion caused both London and governments not directly involved in the issue to adopt political stances advantageous to the Zionists. It is in this context that we need to view the Turkish flotilla.

The Turkish Flotilla to Gaza

The Palestinians have long argued that they are the victims of Israel, an invention of British and American imperialism. Since 1967, they have focused not so much on the existence of the state of Israel (at least in messages geared toward the West) as on the oppression of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Since the split between Hamas and Fatah and the Gaza War, the focus has been on the plight of the citizens of Gaza, who have been portrayed as the dispossessed victims of Israeli violence.

The bid to shape global perceptions by portraying the Palestinians as victims of Israel was the first prong of a longtime two-part campaign. The second part of this campaign involved armed resistance against the Israelis. The way this resistance was carried out, from airplane hijackings to stone-throwing children to suicide bombers, interfered with the first part of the campaign, however. The Israelis could point to suicide bombings or the use of children against soldiers as symbols of Palestinian inhumanity. This in turn was used to justify conditions in Gaza. While the Palestinians had made significant inroads in placing Israel on the defensive in global public opinion, they thus consistently gave the Israelis the opportunity to turn the tables. And this is where the flotilla comes in.

The Turkish flotilla aimed to replicate the Exodus story or, more precisely, to define the global image of Israel in the same way the Zionists defined the image that they wanted to project. As with the Zionist portrayal of the situation in 1947, the Gaza situation is far more complicated than as portrayed by the Palestinians. The moral question is also far more ambiguous. But as in 1947, when the Zionist portrayal was not intended to be a scholarly analysis of the situation but a political weapon designed to define perceptions, the Turkish flotilla was not designed to carry out a moral inquest.

Instead, the flotilla was designed to achieve two ends. The first is to divide Israel and Western governments by shifting public opinion against Israel. The second is to create a political crisis inside Israel between those who feel that Israel’s increasing isolation over the Gaza issue is dangerous versus those who think any weakening of resolve is dangerous.

The Geopolitical Fallout for Israel

It is vital that the Israelis succeed in portraying the flotilla as an extremist plot. Whetherextremist or not, the plot has generated an image of Israel quite damaging to Israeli political interests. Israel is increasingly isolated internationally, with heavy pressure on its relationship with Europe and the United States.

In all of these countries, politicians are extremely sensitive to public opinion. It is difficult to imagine circumstances under which public opinion will see Israel as the victim. The general response in the Western public is likely to be that the Israelis probably should have allowed the ships to go to Gaza and offload rather than to precipitate bloodshed. Israel’s enemies will fan these flames by arguing that the Israelis prefer bloodshed to reasonable accommodation. And as Western public opinion shifts against Israel, Western political leaders will track with this shift.

The incident also wrecks Israeli relations with Turkey, historically an Israeli ally in the Muslim world with longstanding military cooperation with Israel. The Turkish government undoubtedly has wanted to move away from this relationship, but it faced resistance within the Turkish military and among secularists. The new Israeli action makes a break with Israel easy, and indeed almost necessary for Ankara.

With roughly the population of Houston, Texas, Israel is just not large enough to withstand extended isolation, meaning this event has profound geopolitical implications.

Public opinion matters where issues are not of fundamental interest to a nation. Israel is not a fundamental interest to other nations. The ability to generate public antipathy to Israel can therefore reshape Israeli relations with countries critical to Israel. For example, a redefinition of U.S.-Israeli relations will have much less effect on the United States than on Israel. The Obama administration, already irritated by the Israelis, might now see a shift in U.S. public opinion that will open the way to a new U.S.-Israeli relationship disadvantageous to Israel.

The Israelis will argue that this is all unfair, as they were provoked. Like the British, they seem to think that the issue is whose logic is correct. But the issue actually is, whose logic will be heard? As with a tank battle or an airstrike, this sort of warfare has nothing to do with fairness. It has to do with controlling public perception and using that public perception to shape foreign policy around the world. In this case, the issue will be whether the deaths were necessary. The Israeli argument of provocation will have limited traction.

Internationally, there is little doubt that the incident will generate a firestorm. Certainly, Turkey will break cooperation with Israel. Opinion in Europe will likely harden. And public opinion in the United States — by far the most important in the equation — might shift to a “plague-on-both-your-houses” position.

While the international reaction is predictable, the interesting question is whether this evolution will cause a political crisis in Israel. Those in Israel who feel that international isolation is preferable to accommodation with the Palestinians are in control now. Many in the opposition see Israel’s isolation as a strategic threat. Economically and militarily, they argue, Israel cannot survive in isolation. The current regime will respond that there will be no isolation. The flotilla aimed to generate what the government has said would not happen.

The tougher Israel is, the more the flotilla’s narrative takes hold. As the Zionists knew in 1947 and the Palestinians are learning, controlling public opinion requires subtlety, a selective narrative and cynicism. As they also knew, losing the battle can be catastrophic. It cost Britain the Mandate and allowed Israel to survive. Israel’s enemies are now turning the tables. This maneuver was far more effective than suicide bombings or the Intifada in challenging Israel’s public perception and therefore its geopolitical position (though if the Palestinians return to some of their more distasteful tactics like suicide bombing, the Turkish strategy of portraying Israel as the instigator of violence will be undermined).

Israel is now in uncharted waters. It does not know how to respond. It is not clear that the Palestinians know how to take full advantage of the situation, either. But even so, this places the battle on a new field, far more fluid and uncontrollable than what went before. The next steps will involve calls for sanctions against Israel. The Israeli threats against Iran will be seen in a different context, and Israeli portrayal of Iran will hold less sway over the world.

And this will cause a political crisis in Israel. If this government survives, then Israel is locked into a course that gives it freedom of action but international isolation. If the government falls, then Israel enters a period of domestic uncertainty. In either case, the flotilla achieved its strategic mission. It got Israel to take violent action against it. In doing so, Israel ran into its own fist.

Reprinting or republication of this report on websites is authorized by prominently displaying the following sentence at the beginning or end of the report, including the hyperlink to STRATFOR:

“This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR





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