Posts Tagged ‘Hamas’



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PA bans Hamas clerics from preaching
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH29/08/2010
Police raid two mosques near Hebron, stopping sermons.
Palestinian Authority security personnel used force to prevent two prominent Hamas figures from delivering sermons during Friday prayers, triggering clashes with worshipers.

The violence erupted after dozens of PA policemen raided two mosques in the Hebron area where Hamas legislators Nayef Rajoub and Muhammad Abu Jhaisheh were supposed to deliver the Friday khutba (sermon).

The clashes prompted the PA to close down the mosques, forcing enraged worshipers to search for alternative prayer sites.

Rajoub, who was minister for Wakf affairs in the Hamas-led unity government with Fatah more than three years ago, said that policemen in plain clothes approached him soon after he entered a mosque in his home village of Dura and warned him not to deliver the sermon.

“When I asked them for a written order, they assaulted me,” he said. “When some of the people inside the mosque tried to intervene, the policemen also beat them, and arrested some of them.”

Rajoub, who was released from an Israeli prison on June 20 after serving a 50-month sentence, accused the PA of waging a “war against mosques and Islam in collusion with Israel.”

Rajoub said that he has been serving as a preacher for nearly 30 years. He added that despite the ban, he would continue to lead Friday prayers and deliver sermons.

“Jewish settlers are torching mosques, the Israeli army is demolishing mosques and the Palestinian Authority is expelling preachers,” he said.

Nayef Rajoub is the brother of Jibril Rajoub, a former PA security commander and one of the prominent leaders of Fatah in the West Bank, who was one of the first to conduct security coordination with Israel. The former security commander is known for his ruthless crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank.

The second incident took place in the village of Idna, also in the Hebron area.

Eyewitnesses said that Palestinian security agents stopped Abu Jhaisheh shortly after he entered a mosque and demanded that he refrain from delivering the sermon.

Last week, Hamas accused the PA of “waging war on Islam and Allah” by arresting and firing hundreds of preachers and imams, closing down mosques and Islamic religious centers and imposing restrictions on religious figures suspected of being affiliated with Hamas.



Adnan Damiri, spokesman for the Fatah-dominated security forces in the West Bank, confirmed that his men had entered the mosques to prevent Rajoub and Abu Jhaisheh from addressing worshipers.

“These mosques don’t belong to Hamas,” he said, denying that the police had beaten anyone.

He also denied that the two mosques had been closed down.

Damiri said that the move against the mosques was taken in light of information suggesting that Hamas was preparing to export its “coup” to the West Bank.

“They are operating on instructions from [Hamas leader] Khaled Mashaal,” he said. “They want to create chaos that would start in the mosques. Their goal is to take over the West Bank.”

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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




Behind the Headlines: The seizure of the Gaza flotilla

31 May 2010
Israeli naval personnel boarded a flotilla of six vessels attempting to violate the maritime blockage on Gaza. Militants onboard attacked them with live fire and light weaponry including guns, knives and clubs. The attack on the Israeli soldiers was premeditated.
Weapons prepared on the Mavi Marmara (Photo: IDF Spokesperson)
Weapons prepared on the Mavi Marmara (Photo: IDF Spokesperson)


Overnight (30-31 May), Israeli naval personnel boarded a flotilla of six vessels attempting to violate the maritime blockage on Gaza. Militants onboard the Mavi Marmara attacked Israeli naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including guns, knives and clubs. Seven Israeli soldiers were injured as a result of the extremely violent ambush, two of them seriously while three are in moderate condition. Nine militants aboard the ship were killed. Those vessels that reacted peacefully to the operation were escorted unharmed to Israel, as had happened with previous vessels that tried to violate the maritime blockade.
IDF forces: “We came to speak, they came to fight.”


Weapons recovered on the Mavi Marmaris (Photos: IDF Spokesperson)
Weapons recovered on the Mavi Marmara (Photos: IDF Spokesperson)

Several facts are already clear:
The intent of the militants was violent, the methods they employed were violent, and unfortunately, the result was violent.
The attack on the Israeli soldiers was premeditated. The weapons used had been prepared in advance. Huwaida Arraf, a flotilla organizer, foreshadowed the violence with her statement that: “They [the Israelis] are going to have to forcefully stop us.” Bulent Yildirim, the leader of the IHH, one of the primary organizers of the flotilla, announced just prior to boarding: “We are going to resist and resistance will win.” The militants whipped up the boarding crowd by chanting “Intifada, intifada, intifada!”

Video taken by IDF naval boat shows the passengers of the Mavi Marmara violently attacking IDF soldiers who were trying to board the ship after having sent repeated requests for the boat to change course.
It should be noted that the Turkish organizing group, IHH, has a radical anti-Western orientation. Alongside its humanitarian activities, it supports radical Islamic networks such as Hamas, and at least in the past has supported global jihad elements, such as al-Qaeda.
Israel was justified under international law in acting against the flotilla. A state of armed conflict exists between Israel and the Hamas regime that controls Gaza. Hamas has launched 10,000 rockets against Israeli civilians. At present, it is engaged in smuggling arms and military supplies into Gaza, by land and sea, in order to fortify its positions and continue its attacks.
Under international law, Israel has the right to protect the lives of its civilians from Hamas attacks. Consequently, it has undertaken measures to defend itself, including the imposition of a maritime blockade to curb Hamas rearmament. Israel cannot allow a sea-corridor to open to Gaza, a corridor which would allow weapons and terrorists to freely enter the Strip.
The flotilla organizers made clear that their primary goal was to target the maritime blockage. Greta Berlin, a flotilla spokesperson, told AFT news-agency on 27 May that “this mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies, it’s about breaking Israel’s siege.” This fact is demonstrated not only by their words, but by their actions. Flotilla organizers turned down repeated Israeli offers to land the vessels in the Israeli port of Ashdod, and to transfer their aid through the existing land crossings, in accordance with established procedures.
Moreover, while the organizers claim to have humanitarian concern for the residents of Gaza they did not have similar concerns for the fate of the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and when asked, refused to make a public call to allow him to be visited in Gaza by the Red Cross.
Under international maritime law, when a maritime blockade is in effect, no vessels – either civilian or enemy – can enter the blockaded area. In line with Israel’s obligations under international law, the ships participating in the protest flotilla were warned time and again that a maritime blockade is in effect off the coast of Gaza.
When it became clear that the protest flotilla intended to violate the blockade despite the repeated warnings, Israeli naval personnel boarded the vessels of the flotilla, and redirected them to Ashdod. Due to the desire to avoid casualties and operational needs, including the large number of vessels participating in the flotilla, it was necessary to undertake measures to enforce the blockade a certain distance from the area of the blockade.
The soldiers who boarded the vessels did not carry arms openly, but were met with a violent ambush. Two soldiers were shot, one was stabbed and others were injured as they were set upon with clubs, knives, axes and heavy objects. They were in mortal danger and had to act accordingly in self-defense.

During a search aboard the maritime vessel Mavi Marmara, IDF forces uncovered a cache of weapons including many knives, slingshots, rocks, smoke bombs, metal rods, improvised sharp metal objects, sticks and clubs, 5KG hammers, firebombs and gas masks in case IDF forces fired riot dispersal means at the activists as they violently attacked the soldiers. These weapons were used against Israeli Navy personnel as they attempted to board the ship.
The flotilla’s cargo was off-loaded in Ashdod and the humanitarian items transferred overland to the Gaza crossings in accordance with standard operating procedures. The participants of the flotilla who need assistance are being treated in Israeli medical facilities. The rest will be subjected to immigration procedures applicable in cases of attempted illegal entry.

* * *

Flotilla leaders stated on Sunday (May 30) that violence was premeditated:

The organizers of the Gaza flotilla announced in advance their intention of using violence against Israeli forces if the latter tried to prevent the ships from reaching Gaza. This intention was expressed in interviews given by the head of the IHH, Bulent Yildirim, to Turkish television stations on the last night of the voyage, as the ships approached the coast. Following are two examples. The interviews can be find in the archive of the IHH website: http://tinyurl.com/IHHViolence

Interview on Turkish Television Channel NTV broadcast on the evening of May 30, 2010:

Interview with Bulent Yildirim, head of IHH
Interviewer: Welcome; we have a small guest as well.
Yildirim.: We’ve now entered the critical hours. What we’re really talking about here is humanitarian aid, and this small child will always remember this journey in the future. The boy’s picture will certainly pique Israeli public opinion.
Interviewer: What makes this voyage so critical?
Yildirim: The reason stems from Israel’s aggressive position, which has unnecessarily inflated the whole matter. We checked out the place that was declared a firing area; their ships are sailing around freely there. They are deceiving the nation and the entire world. This is the first time that a country has ever announced maneuvers without giving prior notification of the exact date. I am sure that Israel is now headed for many problems. They are using their naval fleet against women, children and elderly people. Civil rights organization representatives are here, and the whole world will see what’s happening here. We will definitely resist and we will not allow the Israelis to enter here.
(see the first three minutes of the video)


2. Interview on the Turkish state television channel TRT 1, broadcast the evening of 30 May 2010:



Bulent Yildirim: The Israelis think that the more soldiers they send, the less casualties there will be among the activists. On this ship there are also women and children. The whole world knows this. We’ll show them what is means to board the ship. If Israel wants to board this ship, it will meet strong resistance.
(see min. 96:00 of the video)

Behind the Headlines: The seizure of the Gaza flotilla 31-May-2010

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 The MasterBlog



Bientôt en France des cinémas interdits aux juifs?

Les réalisateurs israéliens ne sont plus les bienvenus dans les salles Utopia. Ils financent leurs films en shekels et forcent leurs acteurs à s’exprimer en hébreu, respectivement devise et langue du régime sioniste.
Mardi 8 Juin 2010

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Utopia, un réseau de salles de cinémaintelligent – au sens où il ne programme que des films susceptibles de faire réfléchir un public qui ne l’est pas moins -, a décidé qu’il n’était plus question de programmer de films israéliens jusqu’à ce que le blocus sur Gaza soit levé.
Anne-Marie Faucon, responsable de l’association gérant ces salles implantées dans une quinzaine de villes en France (dont la Filmothèque de la rue Champollion à Paris), justifie cette initiative de la manière suivante«Notre démarche est un appel à la réflexion et à la liberté. C’est aussi un message aux réalisateurs israéliens, pour les inciter à réfléchir à ce qui se passe dans leur pays. Les cinéastes qui travaillent avec des fonds israéliens cautionnent, dans un sens, la politique de leur pays. »
Non contente d’intégrer, sans prendre cinq minutes pour leur demander leur avis, quelques uns des metteurs en scène les plus intéressants du moment aux services de communication de Tsahal, l’intransigeante distributrice pourrait d’ailleurs, emportée dans son élan, interdire l’accès de ses salles aux spectateurs munis d’un passeport israélien: «Il faut arrêter d’imaginer que les peuples sont impuissants face aux politiques. Les Israéliens votent, ce sont eux qui ont élu un gouvernement d’extrême-droite. Ils sont donc partie prenante de ce qui se passe. Les individus peuvent réagir, c’est d’ailleurs ce que nous faisons en déprogrammant le film. Si tout le monde tire le signal d’alarme, ça peut avoir une incidence. Les peuples ne sont pas impuissants face aux gouvernements ».
Bah, pourquoi pas… L’idée n’est pas si mauvaise et peut-être l’heure est-elle venue d’interdire la publication d’auteurs israéliens, la préparation de plats israéliens, la diffusion de disques israéliens, l’exposition de peintres israéliens, bref, la circulation de tout ce qui peut, de près ou de loin, être relié au régime politique le plus cruel de la planète…
Car Israël est bien, n’est ce pas, le régime le plus cruel de la planète. Enfin, il faut bien qu’il le soit si l’on en est désormais à interdire à ses artistes de s’exprimer au pays de la liberté de conscience. Enfin, en tout cas plus cruel que celui des Américains (ils ont juste envahi l’Irak illégalement, pas de quoi fouetter un chat), des Iraniens (ils n’ont que légèrement massacré et emprisonné les manifestants qui protestaient contre une élection truquée), des Cubains, des Algériens, des Chinois… (insérez ici le régime crapuleux qui vous sied le mieux au teint compte tenu de vos détestations de prédilection).
Toute cinéphile qu’elle soit (vraisemblablement), Anne-Marie Faucon semble avoir oublié de jeter un coup d’œil aux films qu’elle souhaite désormais déprogrammer. Elle aurait pu constater à quel point le cinéma israélien, avec ses Amos Gitai, ses Uri Barbash, ses Ari Folman, ses Avi Mograbi, ses Assi Dayan est cent fois, mille fois plus critique de son contexte politique que ne l’a jamais été le cinéma français.
Si punir les artistes israéliens, avant de punir les simples citoyens israéliens, pour l’absence de vision, de compassion et d’intelligence de leur gouvernants est désormais un moyen de pression légitime («Gare à toi, Netanyahou, l’Utopia de Toulouse ne programmera plus «Valse avec Bachir»! Tu vas voir ce que tu vas voir!»), on se demande s’il ne sera pas bientôt imaginable d’interdire l’accès des cinémas aux juifs tout court – dont l’attachement à Israël est vraisemblablement aussi criminel que le fusil-mitrailleur des commandos arraisonneurs.
Hum, j’arrête-là: on va m’accuser de faire de l’amalgame…
Hugues Serraf
Image de Une: dans une salle de cinéma Desmond Boylan / Reuters




Yalla Peace: Stupid, stupid, stupid 
jpost.com
Yalla Peace: Stupid, stupid, stupid
By RAY HANANIA
01/06/2010

Rather than bring relief to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, all the flotilla brought was death, violence, and int’l condemnation of Israel.

The activists leading the flotilla carrying medicine, food and building supplies to the suffering civilians in the Gaza Strip got exactly what they wanted. The IDF, stained by the indictment of the Goldstone Report, obliged them without hesitation.

Both sides are at fault in this confrontation. The activists are against peace, and want Israel to turn the clock back to 1948, while Israel wants to pretend the Palestinians don’t exist.

The flotilla was a bad idea from the start – not that supplies shouldn’t be brought in, but because the organizers knew full well that the purpose was to embarrass Israel politically. They knew that Israel might attack the convoy, and that’s why they chose to attempt to break the blockade rather than even try to negotiate.

But that’s always been the problem. People like that don’t want negotiations. When Palestinians and Israelis were negotiating, they were opposing the Oslo Accords, doing everything they could to stop them. And they stood by while Hamas, a terrorist organization which is also partly to blame for the suffering of the citizens of the Gaza Strip, used suicide bombings and brainwashed teenagers to kill themselves and to take innocent Israeli civilians with them.

As it stands, nine civilians aboard the flotilla were killed, although that number is not definite.

Israel’s military stormed the ship and for Israelis to claim they didn’t expect violence under those circumstances is ridiculous.

What could and should have been done?

First, the civilians should have negotiated with Israel rather than staging this dramatic PR drive. But Hamas refuses to do so, and the 1.5 million Palestinian civilians living in the Gaza Strip are as much a prisoner of Hamas’s distorted religious oppression as they are of Israel’s blockade.

Negotiation, not confrontation, is the answer. Discussions with Israel would have worked because Israel will never bend to the failed pressures of the Palestinian extremists. The activists who openly denounce Israeli military excesses are silent when it comes to Hamas excesses.

IT IS this hypocrisy that creates such tragedies. The activists have always been willing to have civilians die to make their case against Israel because the Arab world has been a huge failure from the start. The Arab League is a bad joke. It couldn’t argue its way out of a paper bag, but it sure knows how to act after the fact.

Meanwhile, innocent people die, including many of those who joined the flotilla believing, wrongly, that confronting Israel at sea would be the right strategy to break the blockade. But we know history, and confrontations with Israel always end up badly for the Arabs, and even worse for the Palestinians.

The extremists point to the fact that Turkey, Israel’s largest Muslim ally, is breaking off relations with Israel, but the truth is that this shift began long ago.

Rather than bring relief to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the flotilla brought more death and violence. It achieved the international condemnation of Israel it sought, remaining silent when Hamas terrorists attack and murder Israelis.

The Israelis, too, should be ashamed of their policies, which have abandoned moral principles and instead exploit Palestinian extremism. This Israeli practice of using Palestinian extremism to justify excessive brutality is shameful.

Israel claims it wants peace, but the government seems to prefer confrontations, and the oppression of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Let’s face it folks, the people of Europe can scream all they want about Israel’s actions, but until the United States steps up to become a true arbiter of peace, this conflict will continue to rage.

And the activists who knowingly play into the hands of Israel’s military responses are doing nothing to achieve peace.

These activists do not want peace based on compromise, and it is clear this Israeli government does not want peace based on compromise either. Both find it far easier to continue the carnage and spin their stories.

The writer is an award-winning Palestinian columnist. He can be reached at
http://www.YallaPeace.com.
Yalla Peace: Stupid, stupid, stupid

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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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