On the Jewschool contributors email list, we’ve been talking today about presenting a selection of the most compelling things we’ve read about the flotilla. Here’s what we came up with.
First, what we’ve already said here at Jewschool.
Amos Oz writing at the New York Times:
For 2,000 years, the Jews knew the force of force only in the form of lashes to our own backs. For several decades now, we have been able to wield force ourselves — and this power has, again and again, intoxicated us….
David Grossman writing at The Guardian:
…Israel did not send its soldiers to kill civilians in cold blood; this is the last thing it wanted. Yet, a small Turkish organisation, fanatical in its religious views and radically hostile to Israel, recruited to its cause several hundred seekers of peace and justice, and managed to lure Israel into a trap, because it knew how Israel would react, knew how Israel is destined and compelled, like a puppet on a string, to react the way it did….
Gershom Gorenberg, giving a dissection of the actual timeline of events at The American Prospect:
Descriptions of what actually happened on the crowded deck of the Mavi Marmara have, predictably, been wildly at odds. Activists who were on board say the Israeli commandos fired before being attacked; the Israeli military says the soldiers were defending themselves from a mob. Both sides present film clips of the nighttime struggle to back up their case.
Jeffrey Goldberg, writing at The Atlantic about a “loss of Jewish wisdom”:
There is a word in Yiddish, seichel, which means wisdom, but it also means more than that: It connotes ingenuity, creativity, subtlety, nuance. Jews have always needed seichel to survive in this world; a person in possession of a Yiddishe kop, a “Jewish head,” is someone who has seichel, someone who looks for a clever way out of problems, someone who understands that the most direct way — blunt force, for instance — often represents the least elegant solution, a person who can foresee consequences of his actions.
I happen to be around a lot of Israeli generals lately, and one I bumped into today said something very smart and self-aware: “Does everybody in the world think we’re bananas?” He did not let me respond before he said, “Wait, I know the answer: The whole world thinks we’re bananas.” I asked this general if this was a good thing or a bad thing. After all, Nixon seemed bananas and he achieved great things internationally. So did Menachem Begin. This is what the general said, however: “It’s one thing for people to think that you’re crazy, but it’s bad when they think you’re incompetent and crazy, and that’s the way we look.”
Ari Shavit, writing at Haaretz:
Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Moshe Ya’alon are supposed to know history. They are supposed to know there was no greater mistake than that of the British with regard to the illegal immigrant ship Exodus in the summer of 1947. The brutality employed by the British Mandate against a ferry loaded with Jewish refugees turned the regime into an object of revile. It lost what is now called international legitimacy. British rule over the country ended just 10 months after the Exodus fiasco.
To some Israeli observers, it was impossible to miss the parallels between Monday’s killing of pro-Palestinian activists by Israel’s military in international waters, as commandos intercepted a flotilla of ships trying to break the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza, and a seminal event in the Jewish struggle for an independent homeland.
“If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin but he who causes the darkness.” In the late 1960s, when America’s cities burned, Martin Luther King often quoted that line, which he borrowed from Victor Hugo. But it applies equally well to the catastrophe that occurred yesterday in international waters off the Gaza Strip.
Blogger Flyingrodent, blogging at Between the Hammer and the Anvil:
Let’s say you were a cartoonish, Ahmadinejadesque lunatic fixated on destroying Israel. How would you go about achieving your goal? Well, priority number one would be to isolate the Israelis from their allies, so they have no diplomatic or military cover. A good start would be to take actions that infuriate military partners like the Turks by killing a load of Turkish civvies, then telling them to fuck off by pretending that the civvies you killed deserved it. You’d definitely want to sabotage relations with allies like Greece, so that they’d withdraw from joint military operations and bar your military leaders from the country.
My personal favorite, a description of why the flotilla fiasco proves that the author is obviously right:
First, a little historical background. The side of the conflict that I support comprises nothing but honourable and courageous men and women. They are motivated by nothing more than a desire to defend their own families and rich culture. Their cause is right and these people are completely justified in every action, no matter what they do. By contrast, the other side is composed entirely of amoral murderous thugs who will stop at nothing to achieve their ends. Far from achieving a just settlement and a lasting peace, these thugs are only interested in perpetuating the cycle of violence and brutality.
Shaul Magid, writing at Zeek:
No matter what one thinks of the Gazan blockade, it is clear is that this tragedy only reinforces the perception that Israel is acting in ways counter-productive to its stated goals of increasing security and creating peace. It is clear that those on board the ships were not terrorists threatening Israel or its citizens. Whatever their personal beliefs, they were non-combatant carriers of aid that Gazans desperately need.
And before you comment on any one of the above quotes, please read the whole article you’re commenting on a quote from. Those quotes are what you’d call out of context as presented here.