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Flotilla fallout – For Islamic radicals, "mission accomplished"

As the story continues to unfold, all sorts of questions come to mind.

What is up with Turkey and why are they keeping this so hot? It’s prime minister has recently said:

“Now Israel has shown to all the world how well it knows how to kill,” he said. “People were killed and badly wounded, some from shots, even when bound. How human is this? There is no other way of explaining this to the world. All states condemn it, but this is not enough, we need results. People around the world need to know that one day justice will be revealed. If Israel does not immediately free all the detainees and wounded, the rift in relations with it will widen.”

Yet it has become clear that the boat was loaded with agent provocateurs from the Muslim Brotherhood whose sole intent was the initiation of a violent confrontation with Israeli forces. And, in fact, one of the “humanitarian agencies” represented on the flotilla is a Turkish Islamist group who advocated the overthrow of the Turkish government back in 2000.

So why is that government being so strident and confrontational? Don’t forget too – Turkey is a NATO member. Are we going to be faced, at some point, with choosing to support a NATO member or Israel?

And speaking of Israel, it appears that much of the country is upset with the raid and its outcome. Not so much in sympathy with the Islamists killed, but because it was so poorly thought out and executed. It was, as many are characterizing it, an ambush, and the Isrealis seemingly went into it blindly and were obviously unprepared (you don’t take a paintball gun to a real fight).

Jeffrey Goldberg sums up the feeling in Israel today:

There’s real pain in Israel today, pain at the humiliation of the flotilla raid, pain on behalf of the injured soldiers, and pain that the geniuses who run this country could not figure out a way to out-smart a bunch of Turkish Islamists and their useful idiot fellow travelers. And no, there is no particular pain felt for the dead on the boat; the video of those peace-seeking peace activists beating on the paintball commandos with metal bars pretty much canceled out whatever feelings of sympathy Israelis might have otherwise felt. Plus, most Israelis are aware, unlike much of the rest of the world, that these ships were not on a humanitarian mission, but a political mission, one meant to lend support to Hamas, which seeks Israel’s destruction, so you might have to excuse Israelis for not sympathizing overly much.

There’s more specific “shame and embarrassment” as well. Goldberg goes on:

About that shame and embarrassment: I just met with the son of a friend who serves in an elite Israeli army unit, one very much similiar to Flotilla 13, the Naval commando unit deployed so disastrously against the anti-Israel flotilla, and he explained the shame this way: “These soldiers are the best we have. We are Israel’s deterrent. People in the Middle East need to think we are the best, and we are the best, except that when we’re sent into situations without any intelligence, without any direction, with paintball guns instead of sufficient weapons, with no understanding of who we’re fighting. Then we’re going to have a disaster. These commandos were beaten with pipes! They came onto the deck (of the ship) one by one down a rope and they were beaten by a mob! Commandos!

It is indeed obvious, with the normal benefit of hindsight, that the plan was ill conceved and poorly executed. And, as this friend of Goldberg points out, most of that can be attributed to insufficient, bad or totally inadequate intelligence.

But that begs the question, “why”? This flotilla hasn’t been any secret and it certainly seems many news organizations were gathering information about it. It seems almost inexplicable why the much vaunted Israeli intelligence network wasn’t on top of this or, if they were, how they got it so very wrong.

I don’t care who you are, or how good you are, when you piece-meal your force into a situation where the enemy contols the ground you’re going into, you’re screwed. And to add to the problem, you have a force inadequately armed for the situation (it is obvious by the fact that they were armed with paintball guns that they expected to meet little if any resistance) and an ROE tailored to a completely different situation.

Then there’s the public relations side of this fiasco. However right the Isrealis were in trying to stop these ships from running the blockade, with the deaths involved, they end up on the predictable short end of the PR battle.

And, as is now beginning to play out, there’s even a symbolic side to this that, per some critics, to which the Israelis government should have been more sensitive:

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, The Turkish ship Mavi Marmara was no Exodus. It carried not Holocaust survivors but provocateurs, many of them extremists. But a series of baseless decisions on the part of the prime minister and the ministers of defense and of strategic affairs turned the Marmara into a Palestinian Exodus. With a single foolish move, the Israeli cabinet cast the Muslim Brotherhood in the role of the victim and the Israel Navy as the villain and simultaneously opened European, Turkish, Arab, Palestinian and internal Israeli fronts. In so doing, Israel is serving Hamas’ interests better than Hamas itself has ever done.

There’s your “sad but true” statement of the day. That is what most of the rest of the world will compare it too. It will also grant “victimhood” to those killed even if it was the intent of those “victims” to martyr themselves. And the hypocritical Arab world will latch on to that publicly while privately celebrating the deaths.

As one of the flotilla participants, Muslim Brotherhood member of its Egyptian Parliamentary bloc is quoted as saying in March of this year:

“A nation that excels at dying will be blessed by Allah with a life of dignity and with eternal paradise.”

And that was precisely their aim and the outcome. The death cult of radical Islam doesn’t deplore death, it welcomes it and celebrates it. But they also knew the predictable outcome of such “martyrdom” via the world’s reaction to them if they could provoke those deaths.

Mission accomplished.

Now we have to see how this all plays out – but for right now, Israel has put itself between a rock and a hard place in a surprisingly un-Israeli fashion.


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25 Responses to Flotilla fallout – For Islamic radicals, "mission accomplished"

  • Per your question about Turkey: once the EU rebuffed its bid for membership, and with a rising Islamist-influenced political current using that rejection as “proof” of anti-Muslim tendency among ‘the West,’ that Turkey would change its tack and embrace alliances with Muslim-dominated countries was pretty much clear to see coming down the road. Rejecting them for EU membership made their NATO membership meaningless.
    Anyone being shocked at the current situation just wasn’t paying attention.

    • The change became evident in 2003 when Turkey refused its NATO ally, the US, to transit one of its divisions (the 4th ID) through to the Iraqi border.

      • Turkey retains the right to transit into northern Iraq for themselves.

        • Maybe “someone” should start floating the Kurds some heavy-duty weaponry.

          Nations like Turkey need to be mindful that there’s many players in the game aside from their own selves

    • Turkey is cruisin’ for a bruisin

      • But at this time – with Syria handing Hezbollah Scuds, and with Iran practicing making enriched fissionables, an ongoing war in Afghanistan, an economy in the tank and BP oil as icing on the cake,  it’s not  great time to add an angry Johnny Turk to the mix considering the fools we have in the White House and Congress right now make the Carter administration look effective by comparison.

        • make the Carter administration look effective by comparison
          Now that is an unprecedented accomplishment.

          • They might think of it as an accomplishment.
            I think of it in the same way I think it was an accomplishment for Custer to lead the 7th down into the Greasy Grass.

  • Since Israel, and the US of course, are going to be reviled for this no matter what the actual circumstances are it would be nice if, for a change, the US would take a principled position.
     This was a blatant provocation by Islamic radicals hoping to provoke a violent response from Israel. As Israel and a few others have pointed out, Israel was justified in stopping these ships and the resulting violence was instigated by the Islamists. The Israeli response was minimal and purely defensive. Once again the Islamists have shown that they are not interested in peace or the actual delivery of humanitarian aid. This was political theater. The lamentation over a few deaths by Islamists who cheerfully use innocent children as suicide bombers is laughable.

  • For all of Andrew Sullivan’s hyperventilating about this, he did make a point that many on the right are echoing: The flotilla wasn’t on a relief mission, it was staging a political stunt.  And it worked.  I realize that Israel can do nothing right in the eyes of those determined to see it as the root of all that ails the Middle East.  But something like this merited a proportional military response.  Theirs was poorly planned and disastrously executed.

  • Victor Davis Hanson has a very good take on this.  The Beast is a good place to see what the Israeli branch of the collective is saying.

  • I feel sorry (NOT!) for the next batch of goons who try to run the blockade.  My guess is that the Israelis are both smarting from the humiliation of seeing some of their most elite soldiers beaten by a mob and eager to demonstrate that the event was a fluke so as to discourage any ideas that the IDF has gone soft.

  • Sink the next one with a North Korean torpedo…
    That’ll send a message.

  • The problem with less than lethal weapons is that people do not have a fear of rushing the wielder. And, the result as we saw, is they then take away your paintball gun to try and beat you to death with it.

    • I think it is established that some of the guys on the ship were hired thugs…far from being Gandhi followers.  This was not your average “mob”, though those are plenty deadly, too.  “Soft power” is an absolutely inane concept, and will result in LOTS of dead people.  This is the PRIME lesson I hope the Israelis come away with from this episode.  Go in hard.  It is easy to back off when that is mandated.
      BTW, this is interesting

      Yesterday’s press conference by Hanin Zuabi, an Israeli Arab Knesset member who was on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara when Israeli commandos boarded it on Monday, should be studied by every journalist or human-rights activist who ever believed a Palestinian atrocity tale. Here is Haaretz’s report of it:

      According to Zuabi, when the flotilla was 130 miles from shore, 14 naval ships approached and opened fire without warning. Only journalists, nurses and a doctor were on deck; none of them carried weapons. All the other passengers were either in their rooms or fled there as soon as the shooting began. …
      Over and over, she insisted that the passengers engaged in no violence, that the soldiers had come with intent to kill and intimidate, that it was all planned in advance.
      When reporters confronted her with the video footage released by the army and the soldiers’ testimony, and with the fact that several soldiers were wounded, Zuabi first evaded the questions, then finally insisted, “This is what I saw.”

  • “A nation that excels at dying will be blessed by Allah with a life of dignity and with eternal paradise.”
    I would very much like to assist those nations to excel at dying.

  • Bad things happen when you give yourself ROE that hamstring you badly. I believe the USS Cole got blown up that way because our patrols were either unarmed or minimally armed with orders to basically not do anything.

    Someone here (sorry I forgot who!) had it right – Israel would’ve best been served by just slamming a few torps into the thing and calling it a day.  Maybe that should be the general policy from now on.

  • No disagreement with your analysis, and I think this will do a lot to affirm to the Israelis that whatever differences they may have with the US, ultimately the US is their closest ally.  Turkey’s government is playing to a domestic/regional audience.  I suspect they are having very different private talks at high levels.   What gets put out for public consumption has to be taken with a grain of salt.

  • I think

    There does lay your first mistake.

    this will do a lot to affirm to the Israelis that whatever differences they may have with the US, ultimately the US is their closest ally.

    That is amazingly depressing.  When their closest ally either ignorantly condemns them from doing what they never once said they wouldn’t do, or says absolutely nothing (I suspect because the video got out before the press-release calling it “an unprovoked attack on innocent civilians” could be handed out), there exists a massive problem.
    Israel is on their own, and I suspect they a) don’t care and b) aren’t surprised.  I doubt that many – if any – or their plans for the defense of Israel count on assistance from the US.

  • It seems like the more you try to reduce risk, the more risk you bring on…board the vessel with non-lethal weapons, get attacked by a fearless crowed.