Here, I focus again on the IDF effort to paint the humanitarian activists as terrorists. The point is not new; it has been making the rounds on the blogosphere, but I include it here anyway for the sake of completeness.
Days before the illegal attack on the Freedom Flotilla in international waters, the Israeli daily Maariv published a detailed account of the IDF’s plans for dealing with this nonviolent political action. The plan included the use of force if the boats would not voluntarily comply.
A senior IDF officer explained:
“We have very good reason to suspect an act of terrorism from the boats. It is impossible to know at this stage whether terrorists boarded the ship or whether there is intent to use live ammunition against our forces. Therefore, we will act with full seriousness and caution.”
This is sensationalism, pure and simple. The ships were inspected by Turkish customs prior to departure and every passenger was searched with x-ray machines to ensure they did not bring weapons with them, a fact confirmed by the Israeli army after they seized and searched the cargo, despite their hysterical insistence after the fact that kitchen knives, screwdrivers, and bullet proof vests constitute weapons.
But what is important about this statement is its incompatibility with Israel’s attempt to paint their efforts as one of peaceable intentions with non-lethal weapons. Much has been made about the commandos’ use of paintball guns, an assertion repeated in every Israeli and American newspaper. Israel also claimed—directly in verbal statements by government officials and indirectly in its dramatic footage of commandos landing into a crowd of activists wielding sticks and decks chairs—that only after it was met with such violent resistance did its commandos start firing.
The New York Times reports on Israeli officials speaking on the latter point:
Israel’s inner cabinet of seven ministers approved the plan and the Israeli Navy Seal units began training for what they expected to be passive resistance. “We had in mind a sit-down, a linking of arms,” a military spokesman said.
Perhaps Ethan Bronner should have asked the Israelis why, if they expected the activists to have a sit-in with passive resistance, did they arrived shooting stun grenades and rubber bullets from the helicopters, thereby initiating hostilities and dramatically escalating the violence, as he himself reported earlier in the same piece. Perhaps he overlooked this obvious question because he so accustomed to glossing over and concealing Israeli violence against nonviolent activists for the New York Times and its Serious Readers.
Thus, Israel would choose for us to believe that the humanitarian activists were “hard-core” Islamic radicals trained and prepared for battle, with possible links to Al Qaeda (an assertion so preposterous the Israeli government was forced to retract it under pressure of evidence) , on the one hand, but that simultaneously they were not prepared for a “brutal ambush”, a “lynching” in the words of Israel Ambassador Michael Oren, of sweet, pacifist commandos carrying a glorified toy (a paintball gun) as their primary weapon.
That these two versions of “reality” can co-exist in the Israeli mind is all one needs to see how brainwashed, tormented, and ultimately self-defeating Israeli psychology has become.
Of course, as the evidence has come to light, its increasingly clear that both of these mutually inconsistent arguments are false. Not only does the Israeli effort to paint these humanitarian activists as terrorists have no basis in fact, but also that the so-called “brutal ambush” turns out to be a classic case of self-defense… of the activists haphazardly armed with makeshift tools and pieces of furniture against commandos raining from the sky after a barrage of stun grenades and rubber bullets.