Josef Olmert

Let the ships pass — what the heck

Gaza has become again, a few- days story as a result of the typically biased UN report about the summer 2014

A bunch of anti Israel lunatics are leading another ”freedom” flotilla to the strip , intended to arrive there at the day when the laughable UN report will be officially presented to the even more laughable UN Commission on Human Rights, the same body which condemns Israel repeatedly, but Iran, Syria, North Korea, Hamas? oh no, all beacons of freedom of speech and human rights. So, another day or two of some Gaza stories and then we will remember? stories from other parts of the world will be the order of the day. Well, not exactly, because the Israeli government is about to give a free propaganda bonanza to the gang of losers aboard the ships and to Hamas. How come? by making it a big story because ”we shall not allow these ships to come to Gaza”. How can it be done?, hopefully not the way it was with the Turkish Marmara ship just few years ago. And yet, ANY military action designed to stop these 80 pathetic anti Israel and anti peace activists will be a media stupidity of the first order, making an elephant out of a fly, making Israel looking again as a frightened state. Why won’t Israel act as a clever state this time?

It is my sense that Israel should relax what is left of the” siege” of Gaza, as the overall advantages achieved are dwarfed by the continuing diplomatic and P.R damage. I happen to think, that P.R and media considerations are secondary in importance to security and strategic concerns, but here it is not the case.

One fails to see the great security and strategic benefits to Israel, as there hardly is any real full-fledged siege, because Israel allows convoys to cross to Gaza from the Israeli side of the border, and the Egyptian army is conducting a much more vigorous campaign than ever before against the smuggling tunnels from their side of the border. At the same time , Israel maintains its aerial freedom of action against the Sudanese route of smuggling arms to Gaza, and its ability to act on the high seas. How many of us still remember the Karin A ship and its interception years back, during the second Intifada. There was no siege at that time, surely no talks about that, just an effective preventive action. Today, there hardly is any siege, but so much talk about, and with it so much damage. Time to wise up, time to act along the Teddy Roosevelt adage,”speak softly and carry a big stick”. Clearly, no need for any statement of a change of policy connected to the current ”flotilla”, but one which has to take place as soon as possible, by having Egypt, the US and a friendly European country combining a force which will monitor naval traffic to Gaza, along the lines of existing activity against pirates. Such a force will not come as a substitute to the Israeli navy, and altogether, there seems a very good chance to establish it, provided, of course, that Israel will show a readiness for a creative diplomacy, with some security risks involved , alongside some diplomatic and P.R bonuses.

These fanatic loonies aboard the ships do not really care about Gaza and the ”poor” Palestinians. They did not raise any voice about the atrocities committed at the largely Palestinian Yarmuk Camp in Damascus, nor do they show any sign of even slightest interest in the plight of so many Arabs anywhere else in the Middle East. The fact that this is a group of provocators is obvious, and that simply adds to the need not to give them any unnecessary propaganda victory.

Why not organize, even at the 11th hour a counter flotilla of many small Israeli ships covered with thousands of Israeli flags, voicing Israeli music, perhaps also screening pictures about the atrocities committed by Arabs against Arabs, accompanying the ”freedom” ships all the way to the Gaza coast line. Sure, some Israeli officers should climb up the ships and informing them, that it is ONLY through the decision of the Israeli government, they are allowed to proceed.

Will remain to be seen what Hamas will do in the beach in face of so many Israeli ships with flags.

For a change, let them grapple with a potential P.R problem.
This scenario was never tried. Why not now?

About the Author
Dr Josef Olmert, a Middle East expert, is currently an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina