I’ve seen footage of the confrontations aboard the flotilla that suggest that the passengers on the ships were ready for an armed attack. @IsraelMFA (on Twitter) is already using this to claim that the IDF was right to board the ships. I’m not so sure. Obviously the passengers knew Israel wasn’t just going to let them through, and while I very much disagree with their decision not to act peacefully upon being boarded (which would have kept this in the realm of peaceful civil disobedience), I do think that Israel deserves the lion’s share of the blame for deciding to board the ships a) in international waters and b) with soldiers instead of riot police – a clear message that they didn’t prioritize peaceful resolution.
Moving forward, I think this is going to be as big or bigger than Cast Lead. The accuracy of the image of Israel as a violent aggressor against peaceful activists is certainly debatable (I think the protesters should have stuck to pacifism if only to increase the accuracy and power of that image), but it’s what the world is going to see. We’re at a turning point.
My father commented to me that if Israel was a person, they’d have been committed to a mental institution by now for acting suicidal. I really can’t understand the thinking that went into Israel’s actions today. There is no plausible way that they’re going to come out on top of this one. So far, I’m not sure whether or not that’s a good thing, but it looks pretty indisputable from here.