Israel continues it’s propaganda (hasbara) campaign but the IDF need to get on the same page in order for it to be effective.
First thing this morning, they admitted that they have information on all the passengers and cargo and alas, there were no terrorists on board, just a bunch of peace activists:
Security officials and Foreign Ministry representatives informed the cabinet on Sunday that Israel has no information indicating that terrorists or anyone affiliated with a terror group is planning to take part in the flotilla, said a government source. Nonetheless, there may be clashes between Israeli forces and some Arab activists aboard the ships.
“The critical mass of participants will include human rights activists from European Union countries, Canada and the United States,” said a senior security official.
Government and defense sources said the fact that most, if not all, the flotilla participants will be European peace activists presumably not interested in violence will present a “more difficult public diplomacy challenge,” and Israel wants to avoid clashes with the activists.
Ummmm, why would there be clashes with Arab activists on board the ships? Oh, that’s right, because Arabs are genetically programmed to be violent. I forgot!
But the story has now changed and the headline blaring across the Haaretz homepage is ISRAEL FEARS GAZA FLOTILLA ACTIVISTS MAY TRY TO KILL IDF SOLDIERS:
Senior officials in Jerusalem said Monday that Israel has received information that organizers of the Gaza flotilla may be bringing chemical substances on the ships to use against Israeli soldiers to prevent them from boarding the ships.
The senior officials also said that Israel had been notified that several extremists among the Gaza flotilla participants had recently claimed that they intend on “shedding the blood of IDF soldiers.”
Israeli officials claim that two activists participating in the flotilla have connections to Hamas. They named the first one as Amin Abu Rashad, who they claim is one of the head Dutch organizers for the Gaza flotilla and had served in the past as the head of the Hamas’ Charitable Foundation in Holland. The foundation closed down following Dutch authorities’ probe into its involvement in funding terror activities…
Lets get the obvious out of the way- if this story is true then obviously any plan to engage in violence should be unconditionally condemned. But at this point given Israel’s track record in the propaganda department, I’m not going to take this at face value. Israel has already said that in the months leading up to the flotilla’s planned departure they have been gathering intelligence on all the members of the Flotilla and the cargo. Suddenly now, at the very last minute, there’s a big Hamas scare?
There’s always a chance that spoilers can come in and really mess things up- several people who engage in activities that have not been approved by the larger group. We see this every so often at mass protests- you can have an entirely peaceful protest and then two idiots will set something on fire and all the media coverage is of those two people.
Do you want to know what my real concern is? Maybe this is too tin-foil hat- could Israel have anyone on the Flotilla for the sole purpose of provoking a violent attack against the IDF in order to justify a heavy-handed response from Israel and also to paint the entire Flotilla as violent? Again, that may be too tin-foil hat but given what I’ve seen and heard for the past several weeks (and also last year), I don’t think anything is off the table.
I think that most pro-Palestinian activists understand that nothing would be more damaging to their cause than to reinforce Israel and the public’s negative perception of them by engaging in violence under the guise of peaceful resistance. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that Israel is much more concerned about the PR implications of having totally nonviolent protesters confront them because then they really have no excuse to violently repress them. The first Haaretz article I excerpted above says as much. Why do you think Israel and the US have spent so much time vilifying nonviolent opposition to the Occupation as “delegitimization” and claiming that it poses as great a threat, if not more so, than actual terrorism? Have you noticed how whenever there is violence in Israel, like the Fogel murders, it’s immediately politicized in a “see, we told you!” sort of way. Watching and hearing Netanyahu’s use of the murders to justify his anti-Arab policies, one might be tempted to think that the Zionist right actually benefits when there is more violence. Sick, I know.