Flotilla wins before even sailing

peaceful_flotilla_activist


It seems like only yesterday that I wrote a horrified post about how stupidly Israel handled the last flotilla, which ended with the death of 9 Muslim activists and the injury of a number of Israeli commandos, a couple of whom were lucky to get out alive.

In a short while, Israel’s comptroller is coming out with his review of the last operation and it has already been reported that he finds fault with the handling of the entire orchestrated event by the highest echelons of the Israeli government. Specifically, he is critical of the way Barak handled the preparations and actual execution of the Israeli response to the flotilla and he accuses Netanyahu of not having handled the matter seriously enough or putting a serious team in charge during his absence abroad.

Those, however, are not the critical mistakes regarding the last flotilla. The real mistakes were made on the media side. The IDF wasn’t prepared to tell its side of the story until the next day and didn’t release the video which showed the violence instigated by flotilla activists until almost two news cycles had passed all over the world. Additionally, the IDF and the government of Israel were not on the same page regarding their claims about the flotilla or about the event at sea.

Permit me to put this as simply as I can: THE FLOTILLA IS NOT ABOUT GETTING GOODS INTO GAZA, IT IS ABOUT POINTING MEDIA ATTENTION TO THE PALESTINIAN CAUSE IN ORDER TO GAIN SYMPATHY AND SUPPORT FROM THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY AND ESPECIALLY THE MEDIA.

Now you’re saying to yourself, “Of course it is. I didn’t need some anonymous blogger to yell at me in order to figure out the obvious.”

You are, of course, completely right, dear reader. This is not hard to figure out. So then the question arises, what do you do in order to combat the primary mission of the flotilla – pro-Palestinian propaganda?

I’ll answer in a minute, but first I’ll tell you what not to do. Don’t do what Israel has done.

What did Israel do this time? Well, so far, it has alienated the free world’s press by threatening to severely punish any reporter that climbs aboard flotilla ships. There are reporters from serious publications planning to travel with the flotilla and Israel is essentially saying that it will punish them for doing their job. It took less than two days for Netanyahu’s office to claim that he didn’t know the IDF was going to do this to reporters and that he rejects this approach. Reporters may come aboard.

Needless to say, the damage has been done and it is severe. Instead of recruiting reporters to its cause, Israel has already alienated them and their publishers, indicated that its freedoms of the press are not as evolved as other Western countries and has given a heads up to all these reporters that the IDF is anticipating violence. If violence does take place, the IDF will now only be able to act defensively because otherwise, it will be accused of having planned the violence in advance.

Second, the IDF and certain government officials are now labeling the flotilla a terrorist flotilla with hints that there are people aboard who plan violence against IDF soldiers. This is after the Turks pulled out and virtually all the boats are from the West. Sure, there are Muslims aboard, but in case nobody in Israel’s media offices has noticed, there is great sensitivity in the West to automatic accusations of Muslims being terrorists. They need to think carefully about who is reporting and who is reading this stuff. Hint: it’s not AIPAC supporters who are going to support Israel regardless. The target audience here is the same one the flotilla organizers are trying to convince by reaching out to their sense of sympathy: the general, uncommitted public of Western democracies. Perhaps Israeli spokespeople should take this audience into consideration? Instead of taking such an aggressive, hard-line approach, they should soften it up considerably and remind everybody about Hamas rockets landing in Israeli neighborhoods.

Third, yesterday Yediot (Ynet on the ‘Net) reported what had already been floating around the Internet, that a video which had been circulated by Israel supporters including an intern from the Prime Minister’s office, was a fake. In this video, a supposed gay activist who sought to join the flotilla claimed that he was rejected because of his homosexuality. The geniuses who came up with this over-produced insult to intelligence thought they were going to get a two-fer here. They expected to convince people of the inherent bias of the flotilla organizers to evildoers such as Hamas, and highlight the flotilla’s immoral connection to a government in Gaza that is unfriendly to homosexuals (in contrast with Israel’s relatively open society regarding homosexuality).

What did they actually accomplish? Well, they showed themselves to be the unsophisticated amateurs they are. They undermined and trivialized the real case Israel can make about how it differs significantly in its treatment of all minorities including the LGBT crowd. They strengthened the hands of those pro-Palestinian gay activists who go around claiming that Israel uses its openness to gays as a fig-leaf hiding the supposed horrors of its occupation.

They also managed, and this is the worst part of all of this, to show that at the highest levels of the Israeli government, the truth is being manipulated and what is being said by those offices may not always be trustworthy. This is an extremely problematic outcome of this fiasco because Israel MUST understand that its integrity is being challenged all the time and therefore it has to go above and beyond being truthful to maintain the perception and acceptance of its integrity when it dissembles information to the public and the press.

Trust is a hard commodity to acquire and an easy one to lose. Once lost, it required three, four times the effort to regain. Israel has taken three steps to undermine its own credibility and case against the flotilla and all three steps were unnecessary -self-inflicted wounds by people who so disrespect the other side, they fail to see how over and over again, their enemy emerges victorious in the propaganda wars. Don’t blame poor “hasbara” for this. Blame stupidity, disrespect for the opponent and amateurishness.

What should they have done?
They should have focused on the law-breaking nature of the flotilla, without the terrorism hyperbole.
They should have welcomed reporters to board the ships to show the IDF’s and Israel’s peaceful intentions.
They should have played up the violence instigated by the Turkish activists about the Mavi Marmara and done so at every opportunity.
They should have made it a point to show how this flotilla has not been able to secure large numbers of activists in large part because the cause is absurd.
They could have shown the cause is absurd by funneling information about Gaza and their quality of life.

And so on and so forth. Everything I’m writing here is simple to figure out and requires basic common sense. Of course, it also requires being straightforward, honest and on-point, which sadly is not the way the Israeli media-handling apparatus has dealt with this flotilla.

The media war is as important, if not more so, than the real war and the flotilla is nothing more than a propaganda ploy. Israel, for the second time, is playing right into the hands of the Palestinian propagandists. It makes the blood boil!

UPDATE: Jerusalem Post is reporting that the number of activists planning to sail has dropped from an anticipated 2500 to around 350. One assumes that the Israeli pressure on other governments and the fragile attempt to rebuild relations with Turkey have been a success. The report also mentioned all types of mechanical problems causing delays for some ships. Of course, the last major flotilla also experienced many mechanical problems which is how it ended up with “only” 6 ships. These are effective methods – diplomacy, covert operations, intelligence gathering – to deal with the flotilla and only highlight how foolish these public relations mistakes have been on the part of the Israeli government.


31 Comments

  1. josh

    6/28/2011 at 7:01 pm

    So you are back to your ‘Israel is guilty of everything’ attitude no matter what it does? This is a lose-lose situation and people like you are to blame for second guessing it on everything. And what you suggest it does it quite pathetic and irrelevant.

    The worldwide media is not suddenly against Israel because of the threat to ban reporters (accomplices in building sentiment for the ‘anarchist’ sailors). THE MEDIA failed it’s job last time for not digging for facts about the true intentions of the Turkish terrorists and Israel is not to blame for losing two news cycles for that. THE MEDIA on board the Marmara were accomplices.

    • themiddle

      6/28/2011 at 7:58 pm

      Yes Josh, I am “back” to whatever you don’t feel like reading today. Have you ever considered that it’s idiotic to defend idiocy?

      The “media” didn’t fail in any job last time any more than at any time. Many reporters are simply regurgitating what they’re being fed, even in those times when they don’t recognize that they’re doing so. It’s not as if they have time to go and investigate every situation or claim. This is why they become a mouthpiece for whichever party is best able to convince them of their message. The “media” can be manipulated and is manipulated by every side all the time.

      You can play the game well and win or you can whine when you pull off idiotic moves and things don’t go your way. We know already that many elements in the media are going to either be hostile to Israel or extremely skeptical of what it says. And yet, they are going to report, whether you like it or not. Last flotilla, long after the fact, Israel actually managed its informational campaign pretty well and managed to at least regain its claim to having been justified in the outcome of what happened on the Mavi Marmara. They did it, however, a full day after they needed to begin the media blitz. This time, they’ve already made three significant errors and all of them were self-inflicted and unnecessary.

      Don’t like to hear it? Are you some government apparatchik that thinks mediocrity wins wars? ‘Cuz apparently that’s who’s minding the store right now. Instead of excusing their ineptness, be critical so that next time they will learn a lesson. Based on what we’ve seen so far, they’ve learned things from last time, but some of their conclusions are way wrong.

      • josh

        6/29/2011 at 8:01 pm

        Thank God Netanyahu’s government is not getting advice here, or from Tom Friedman which all this is sounding like.

        At least update your post with the alleged involvement of Israel is the various breakdowns of the ships about to set sail.

        • themiddle

          6/29/2011 at 8:36 pm

          Netanyahu’s government would benefit greatly from advice from here. I lament the fact that some of us are not involved in this critical area for Israel.

          But I have to admit that by comparing my advice to Friedman’s, you have truly offended me.

          There was an update already, and more important, big deal! They did the same thing last time and they managed to get the entire flotilla down to six boats and of the six boats they managed to get 5 to go to port quietly…but there was that last darned boat that wasn’t sabotaged and that had prepared an attack on the soldiers…

  2. AlexK

    6/28/2011 at 9:59 pm

    “the death of 9 Muslim activists”

    Activists? I don’t know why you’re all fired up given that you use practically the same language as that media you disparaged.

    • themiddle

      6/29/2011 at 1:12 am

      Did you want me to call them terrorists? Christians? Flotilla-people? You tell me what you want me to call them and I’ll let you know whether it’s an accurate description. If it is, I will modify the post accordingly.

  3. themiddle

    6/29/2011 at 3:52 am

    How about, “really bad people who deserve a Darwin Award for picking a fight with Israeli commandos?”

  4. xisnotx

    6/29/2011 at 8:52 am

    IDF spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovitz asserted, “There are radical elements on board the American boat who have said they want to kill Israeli soldiers. We also know that one of the boats is carrying dangerous incendiary chemicals that these human rights militants want to use against Israeli soldiers.” israelnational...

    • themiddle

      6/29/2011 at 10:21 am

      Yes, xisnotx, I heard the claims and in at least two reports they used the word “mechabel” which is the catch-all Israeli term for terrorist. They claim these people have sulfur which they are planning to throw at soldiers making it hard to breathe and turning them into human flameballs if somebody throws a match at them. It may be true, for all we know, but this is exactly my point about what happens when people do things that undermine trust in the authorities. Suddenly you’re not sure whether the claims are true or not. Certainly, using the term “mechabel” is acceptable in Hebrew but in English, it translates to terrorist and my definition of a terrorist is a person who targets civilians, not soldiers.

      • ugh

        6/30/2011 at 3:33 am

        “my definition of a terrorist is a person who targets civilians, not soldiers.”

        So it’s not cut and dry like the Fogel family massacre but what else do you call challenging a nations sovereign jurisdiction, and working directly with Hamas? It’s a form of terror support, only more proactive than Holy Land Foundation. We’re talking about a Rashid Khalidi project, so let’s look at the bigger picture and not get lost in the minutia of the narrative they’re creating.

        • themiddle

          6/30/2011 at 4:58 am

          Not everybody agrees with my definitions, but I think they make sense. If you call everyone a terrorist, it takes away from the significance of the word. I use “activist” to represent a non-violent or violent but unarmed individual who is not actively or regularly engaged in this sort of activity (rock throwing, for example). I use “militant” to represent someone who takes violent action, predominantly against military or institutional targets. I use “terrorist” for the scum that target civilians.

          So in this instance, you can ostensibly claim that the flotilla members are militants because they are seeking to break a military blockade. However, to be realistic about things, you have to recognize that there are different parties on these ships. Some are activists who believe they can improve and need to improve Palestinian quality of life (whether they are right or wrong about their claims does not affect the moniker) and some are militants who are seeking to engage the IDF and to break the blockade as part of a broader war against Israel where open shipping lanes would be helpful to Israel’s enemies. So yes, I guess this is a form of terror support, and both Israel and the US are right to point that out as they seek to scuttle the flotilla’s sailing to Gaza. However, while this may work on the diplomatic level, it fails on the media and grassroots level because when you hear and read what the flotilla participants are saying, it’s clear that some are militants but many are activists (by my definition). Using hyperbole to describe the peaceful ones doesn’t help the cause of Israel because the reporters are offended by it when they interview the supposed “terrorists” and realize they’re far from terrorists, and it won’t help when real terrorists attack but the word has been so overused as to become vanilla. That’s one of the reasons, by the way, that Hamas and its friends were able to bomb Sderot and that area without suffering a bad reputation for their actions.

          • ugh

            6/30/2011 at 3:55 pm

            They are aiding and abetting terrorism. Calling someone an activist suggests they have a legit cause. Rather than play into their branding hyperbole, why can’t you be honest. These people are fundraising, acting as a human shields, transporting arms, giving propaganda cover to criminals, and just sympathizing with those with a genocidal program – knowing or unknowingly, no matter how they personally view themselves. Israel looses if they pretend these are activists, or Edward Said was merely a professor and sometime fundraiser for the PLFP….or that Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood aren’t the same organization.

            The way to change the media outlook is to start blowing their cover. Stop pretending that using terms like “activist” makes you more sensitive, and accurate. The pawns on that ship are acting as enemies of the State, and cooperating with enemies of the Jewish people. Don’t be ashamed to be honest. That is what they are.

  5. Larry

    6/29/2011 at 10:13 am

    I am MOST confused by the Israeli produced LGBT youtube video… the one with the actor who says he tried to join the flotilla but did not know with whom he was getting into bed (Hamas). The producer was a man named Guy Seamann? Come on! Isn’t that a pure give-away that the video was a propaganda hoax

  6. Alon

    6/29/2011 at 11:18 am

    The pinkwashing ‘scandal’ is endemic of Israel’s main public relations issue, namely that they have a seriously low opinion of people’s intelligence and ability to independently research the claims they are making through hasbara operations. THAT’S why Israel’s govt. and the IDF are in the position they are in. It’s not a matter of failing to properly influence opinion, it’s a matter of the facts not matching up with the messaging for those not completely blinded to the facts by hate and petty nationalism.

    That’s also why the Flotilla2 folks won before they’ve even sailed; people can independently verify that this blockade (it’s actually more than just a blockade, but in keeping with the parlance..) is collective punishment against a civilian population, making it both illegal and deeply immoral.

    • themiddle

      6/29/2011 at 11:31 am

      Oh Alon, give it a break! The blockade is perfectly legal, perfectly required and perfectly moral.

      It is not collective punishment. It also isn’t petty nationalism and it also isn’t about hate.

      You are right about something, though. You are right that some of the people running PR for Israel have a low opinion of people’s intelligence and ability to independently research the claims they are making. Just like you’re doing here. For example, tell us dear Alon, how many borders does Gaza have and with how many countries? Or, another example for you Alon, how many Israeli soldiers are there in Gaza, or settlers for that matter? If the answer is zero and the previous answer is two and two, then where is the collective punishment and how is it collective punishment when the quality of life, per capita income, longevity, not to mention their spanking new malls, glistening pools and thriving car smuggling industry exceed those of over half the countries in the world? Oh and another example, regarding morality: who is immoral, the party which has offered peace 3 times in a decade – a peace which includes 100% of Gaza – or the party which has democratically elected a genocidal government with a charter seeking to murder Jews and Israelis that has acted on this promise by launching rockets randomly but purposely into Israeli civilian centers?

      I’ll tell you what Alon. Stop thinking we are all idiots, or making us believe that you’re a fool for supporting the Gazan electorate and their elected government. If you cared about justice, peace and morality, you’d be advocating your tuches off to get the PA – now joined at the hip to Hamas – to get back to serious negotiations and this time with a mindset that they can’t actually try to undermine the sovereignty and right to self-determination of the Jewish people and Israel.

      • Alon

        6/30/2011 at 8:13 pm

        Dear TM,

        Leaving aside for a moment the argument of legality and morality of the blockade, where you are demonstrably wrong, I will answer your questions.

        “How many borders does Gaza have and with how many countries?”
        Two, but you answered this already, ostensibly in an attempt to show culpability on the part of the former Egyptian regime for the plight of Gazan Palestinians, as if this some how mitigates Israel’s responsibility for the situation. Please TM, again this is not difficult for the average person to understand. The Egyptian position, under the Mubarrak regime (and again it seems under the Supreme Army Council), was influenced entirely by the peace with Israel the United States was paying upwards of 2 billion dollars a years in aide to maintain. Egypt is indeed culpable for collaborating with Israel to maintain the blockade of Gaza, but the initiator and administrator of the blockade is the Israeli govt.

        “How many Israeli soldiers are there in Gaza, or settlers for that matter?”
        Zero, I reckon. Point being? If you’re trying to imply that removing occupation forces and illegal settlers from Gaza signals and end to occupation, I would beg to differ. As Chris Gunness from the UNWRA recently said,

        “There’s been no exporting in Gaza in the month of May. There’s a blockade, there’s an occupation. Israel controls the land, the sea and the airspace. In international law that means there’s an occupation going on.”

        Replacing an illegal physical occupation with an illegal and immoral blockade is not exactly a move forward, it’s more a move laterally.

        “How is it collective punishment when the quality of life, per capita income, longevity, not to mention their spanking new malls, glistening pools and thriving car smuggling industry exceed those of over half the countries in the world?”

        Oy, I’m not sure where you’re getting your info on quality of life, etc., but you should ask for a refund. Again, these are things one can google-fu with relative ease. In 5 seconds I found:
        bit.ly/kfk8XQ
        bit.ly/ma0r2S
        bit.ly/lJo6qj

        Gaza and the West Bank are both economically dependent on foreign and humanitarian aid. There are no exports.

        As the UNRW reported:
        “In Gaza…the unemployment rate for the second half of 2010 was 45.2% – one of the highest in the world. In the first half of 2010, the rate dropped to 42%, after having risen to 45.7% in the previous six months following the easing of the blockade.

        More than 8,000 jobs were lost in private businesses, leading to an 8% fall in the employment rate in the private sector compared to the previous six months.”

        Chris Gunness of the UNWRA is quoted as reporting:
        “Let’s look at the basic humanitarian facts on the ground. Ninety five percent of water in Gaza is undrinkable. Forty percent of disease is waterborne, it’s caused by poor water. 45.2 percent of the labor force is unemployed. Eighty percent aid dependency. A tripling of the abject poor since the blockade. There’s clearly a crisis in every aspect of life in Gaza.”

        The irony of all of this of course, is that one employer has actually added significant workers to its payroll. That employer? Hamas.

        “A BBC correspondent in Gaza indicated that “as the blockade enters its fifth year, one of the key findings of this UN report is that the Hamas-run public sector is one of the only areas of the economy that is growing. Hamas employs tens of thousands of people here. Private businesses have largely been crippled by the ban on virtually all exports and the fact that Gazans just don’t have the money to spend.”

        But to answer the main thrust of your question, it is collective punishment, because the Israeli govt. made a decision to economically cripple Gaza as a result of the election of Hamas. Check the Geneva Conventions. They even found a strategic imperative to maintain this economic stranglehold, something which was documented in the wikileaks cables nyti.ms/fHTSkR.

        • themiddle

          7/1/2011 at 5:42 am

          ostensibly in an attempt to show culpability on the part of the former Egyptian regime for the plight of Gazan Palestinians, as if this some how mitigates Israel’s responsibility for the situation

          Um, what situation? The one where this population attacks Israeli civilian centers or the one where they build brand new shopping plazas?

          And yes, there is certainly culpability on the part of the Egyptians. They are not some vassal country as you suggest but the most or second most powerful Arab country. The reason they keep that border under tight control is concern about Hamas joining forces with the Muslim Brotherhood. If they’re allies of Israel and the USA it’s out of self-interest but just to remind you, the Egyptians occupied Gaza from 1948-1967 so their relationship with this province is actually fairly close.

          removing occupation forces and illegal settlers from Gaza signals and end to occupation, I would beg to differ. As Chris Gunness from the UNWRA recently said,
          When Israel exited Gaza, it exited its obligations

          UNWRA is an authority on keeping the occupation in place, that’s for sure. UNWRA is one of the most interested parties in keeping itself relevant (hence the quotes you’ve provided by a man who seeks to justify his organization’s raison d’etre).

          And yet, Gaza has its own government, its own economy, its own laws, its own judiciary and if they have two closed borders, that doesn’t mean they are under occupation. Maybe under Egyptian occupation…As your BBC article points out, Hamas runs the place. Period.

          As for the blockade, it doesn’t make the occupation any more real and neither do closed airspace. These are the hallmarks of war – a war the Palestinians launched and could have ended.

          Regarding quality of life, I said clearly that Gaza is better off than half the countries in the world. According to the CIA Factbook (https://www.ci...):

          Population growth rate:

          3.201% (2011 est.)
          country comparison to the world: 7

          Birth rate:

          35.3 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
          country comparison to the world: 29

          Death rate:

          3.29 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
          country comparison to the world: 216

          Infant mortality rate:

          total: 17.12 deaths/1,000 live births
          country comparison to the world: 105

          Life expectancy at birth:

          total population: 73.92 years (2011 est.)
          country comparison to the world: 111

          Literacy:

          definition: age 15 and over can read and write
          total population: 92.4%
          male: 96.7%
          female: 88% (2004 est.)

          If you’re referring to their income and unemployment, the first thing you have to do is look at their birth and death rates. They are growing their population so rapidly that even UNRWA can’t keep up and with every day the per capita income drops because the birth rate is so high. In a given year, 100,000 Gazans are born. This means that since Israel left Gaza in 2005, the Gazan population has grown by more than a third. In order for their income per capita to grow, they would have had to increase productivity or revenues or both by over 35%. That would be virtually impossible for most economies, much less an agrarian one. So let’s clear that up first. Of course their PCI has dropped in these recent years.

          Second, blame the problem on the Palestinian War of 2000 and its effects, not on Israel. Prior to that war, Palestinians, including Gazans, had a per capita income higher than Egypt’s. That’s because many of them worked for Israel. Once the suicide bombers began using the Gaza border crossings with Israel to cross and commit their murders, Israel began closing those borders and the Palestinian workforce lost significant income as a result. Even exports were affected when bombs explode at Ashdod port in 2004 in an export-bound Gazan container.

          Furthermore, when Israel left Gaza, it left in place the infrastructure for agricultural exports which the Palestinians promptly destroyed. It’s only in the past couple of years that those hot-houses are working again. And yes, exports have been opened up, though not always and not consistently. The IMF recently announced that Gaza was growing at an annual growth rate of 16%. Last year it grew at a measly 2% – the same as the USA. This suggests that when there is relative quiet – as there has been in the past year or so, the Palestinians are busy working and building up their economy instead of fighting Israel.

          As for the unemployment rate in Gaza, you have to look at their government. In Judea and Samaria, there is a much lower unemployment rate, higher per capita income and a fairly rapid growth rate of 8-10% a year. If the PA can do it with roadblocks, the security fence, limits on Palestinians who may work in Israel, a heavy dependence on UN and international revenues and UNRWA…then so can Gaza. If Gaza isn’t doing it, the first thing I would look at is: is it a good policy to launch rockets, declare war, hold a hostage in inhumane captivity for five years against the country which used to provide your labor force with work? Whose policy is it? Since Israel did exactly what the Palestinians are demanding of it – removal of occupation and settlers, then is there any justification for the attacks or can there be any legitimate complaint about Israeli closure of borders and termination of economic cooperation?

          The notion that you cannot use economic means to fight an enemy that has declared war on you is absurd. The notion that a people who elected and supported the government that executed this policy of war are somehow not responsible for the war or the retaliation and therefore this is collective punishment is also absurd. Imagine that Israel had left Gaza and peace and cooperation with Israel reigned. Today you would have a thriving Gazan province, able to export and generate income. You’d have an entirely different situation in Gaza. This isn’t Israel’s fault. Heck, Israel even offered peace three times since 2000 and every offer has included all of Gaza with open lanes to the outside world.

          It is the Palestinians’ decision to maintain hostile relations with Israel.

          Now add to our peaceful imaginary scenario that the Palestinian leadership instituted policies to control birth rates, recognizing that even though UNWRA is mandated to help them, they have to take into account the complexities of feeding all those mouths in such a small area. Things would be much simpler, wouldn’t they?

          I know it’s easy to put everything on Israel, but try to stop treating the Palestinians like idiotic children and instead start giving them the credit you expect Israel to give them. They can choose to make peace and cooperate or they can choose to fight. But if it’s the latter, they can’t then come complaining, even via shills, that Israel is “occupying” them and their lives are miserable.

  7. Barry

    6/30/2011 at 5:43 am

    You’re saying that Israel should have been encouraging reporters to break the law by attempting to break a perfectly legal military blockade? That just trivializes the whole reason for having a blockade in the first place. Maybe Israel should also distribute guns and Molotov cocktails to reporters so they can demonstrate, get arrested, and get a first hand look at how well Israel treats its prisoners.

    You’re right about Israel’s problems in fighting the war in the media, but actively encouraging reporters to engage with the IDF to score propaganda points? I’ll pass.

    The media already knows that the cause is absurd. Only the most hardcore nutjobs still repeat the mantras about “open air prisons” and “world’s largest humanitarian catastrophe”. The mainstream media understands that they were reporting bald-faced lies about Gaza for years, but obviously they won’t admit they were wrong and in any case, that battle is in the past and Israel lost it.

  8. themiddle

    6/30/2011 at 8:48 am

    Barry, there are war correspondents all over the world. They do not partake in the actual actions of the side they are covering but they do report from the field. Some of them die or are severely injured in the course of their work. This is a risk they take knowingly because they take their mission very seriously. I believe that any reporter climbing aboard a flotilla boat is perfectly aware of what happened last time and that there is a possibility of violence and death again. They also realize that they may be in the way of an errant bullet.

    Nobody is being told to “actively engage” reporters – although that may not be a bad idea since the premise is to prove that the IDF behaves morally – but rather NOT to threaten them with severe punishments including revoking their right to report from Israel because they want to report on the flotilla.

    It’s like holding a red flag to the bull. The bull is already in the arena with no plans to leave; he’s already pissed off and looking for any reason to attack; he’s pretty powerful and can cause you harm; and he really doesn’t like red flags. Maybe if you’re a professional matador performing for an audience, you’d wave the red flag, but Israel isn’t a matador and in fact just fell accidentally into the ring. Rule #1, don’t piss off the bull.

  9. xisnotx

    6/30/2011 at 1:57 pm

    tm, did you check out the flotilla’s theme song youtube.com/wa...

  10. themiddle

    6/30/2011 at 3:31 pm

    Very funny!

    Now if you want to know what the theme of the flotilla is, let me quote one of its organizers, Adam Shapiro:

    What we’ve been doing over the last ten years with the International Solidarity Movement, Free Gaza, and all the other outgrowth organisations and movements and groups is to …work with Palestinian society to ramp up the resistance. This is all part of a Palestinian movement for Palestine…This is truly an international movement … It’s only Palestine, this cause that has been going on for over 60 years, that generates this kind of activism, this kind of resistance…

    Free Gaza is but one tactic of a larger strategy, to transform this conflict from one between Israel and the Palestinians, or Israel and the Arab world…to one between the rest of the world and Israel… [applause]

    It’s not just the conflict, it’s not just the siege, it’s not just the home demolitions, it’s not just the wall on the West Bank, it’s not just the effort to continue to dispossess Palestinians of their land…it’s also the attempt to define a place where 20 per cent of the population is Palestinian, to define the land underneath their feet as Jewish, to further dispossess them and subject these people to permanent second third or fourth class citizenship…Free Gaza is a tactic…all of it is part of a strategy now to transform the conflict and internationalise it and really undermine Israel where it gets its most support…

    Our ground is the whole world. And that’s where our resistance has to be. The whole world… We already have a third intifada. It’s going on right now. It’s going on all over the world.

    Read the entire worthwhile article:

    melaniephillip...

  11. AlexK

    6/30/2011 at 4:21 pm

    I am so thankful that Ugh and Barry are here to sift through all of the politically correct, moral relativist garbage pedaled here as I do not have the patience nor the enthusiasm to handle it.

  12. themiddle

    6/30/2011 at 4:58 pm

    Perhaps you lack something else, Alex? Like something to say that actually disputes what I’ve written? Come on, you’re a bright guy, do try…

  13. AlexK

    6/30/2011 at 5:20 pm

    What for? By the time my comments make it through your sensitivity filter I become the extremist and well, the real extremists.. you’re ready to have over to babysit. It’s much more fun to watch you act all self-righteous and twist yourself into logical pretzels for the “greater good”. I do feel some sympathy for you though, always trying to maintain that objective position. Trying to be above it all, like Obama does. I heard that works from time to time. :)

  14. themiddle

    7/1/2011 at 12:28 am

    Translation: I can’t contest what he has to say.

  15. AlexK

    7/1/2011 at 12:38 am

    I’m cool with that. I know this is your craft and I come here to poo poo on it, and for that I am wrong, but sometimes things aren’t such that they require such inspection and analysis. Sometimes a turd is a turd (#flotilla2), and it saddens me that you have to go to such lengths not to defend them, but to ensure Israel always takes the highest ground. All this devil’s advocate stuff is good, but why not save it for the people who deserve it? These people should be treated like those people who show up at funerals with “God hates fags” signs.

    • themiddle

      7/1/2011 at 5:50 am

      “it saddens me that you have to go to such lengths not to defend them, but to ensure Israel always takes the highest ground.”

      This article is about smart PR, which Israel has managed to screw up with this flotilla. This isn’t about higher ground – although that is something Israel should always try to have and to keep – but about how to fight smart. The people offended by this article appear to be of the “let’s fight dumb” school of thought. Yup, that includes you Alex.

  16. xisnotx

    7/1/2011 at 6:32 pm

    well in spite of all the bumbling, fumbling hasbara, it looks like bibi actually has his act together, vis a vis keeping the flotilla from sailing haaretz.com/ne...

    • themiddle

      7/3/2011 at 9:12 am

      One of the few benefits of having Turkey turn against Israel.

  17. josh

    7/16/2011 at 7:47 pm

    Final score: Israel 1 – Flotilla 0.

    • themiddle

      7/17/2011 at 12:59 am

      Yup.

      They still made idiotic mistakes with the press that were unnecessary. Basically, they need to thank Turkey for their new-found ally, Greece.

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