Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Flotilla, again

I’ve been reading as much as I can about the Flotilla incident in Israel. As I try to make sense of what I’m seeing, I came across Rabbi Paul Kipnes, who had an interesting entry in his blog:

There is ample evidence:

Five steps to begin to judge for yourself:

  1. Watch this video of how the soldiers were beaten as they boarded the boat.
  2. Examine this history of the flotilla and peaceful attempts to turn it back.
  3. Read this Jewish Journal article addressing concerns on the flotilla but also on the blockade.
  4. Explore the legality of a blockade in times of war.
  5. Consider this Haaretz Israeli newspaper critique, appropriate but balanced.

Taken together (especially with the Haaretz article) a picture starts to emerge (which seems, for me, to jibe well with the other pieces I’ve been reading). Israel was clearly in a no-win situation with this one, particular incident. They were enforcing a blockade (which, according to most of what I’ve read, is legal). They were trying to do so without violence, and they were attacked. This flotilla, in large part, was intended to do exactly this – provoke a response, and an international incident.

But, that Haaretz article, along with this piece by Amos Oz, puts some important perspective on the backdrop of this incident. Let me be clear that I think that the Palestinian leadership deserves the lion’s share of the blame for the lack of peace. But, it’s fair to wonder if Israel has done everything that it can to keep itself out of this terrible situation.

The blockade may be (probably is) legal, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a smart move, either politically or militarily. Israel’s larger approach to the ongoing conflict (see the Oz article, which I have real criticisms of, but nonetheless makes some important points) is not the main reason for the ongoing strife, but it may be one reason, among many, that it continues.

Similarly, I wholly believe that Israel has almost always lacked a partner in peace – it’s often been said that we make peace with our enemies, not with our friends. But, it’s also been said, not as pithily, that making peace with someone who wants to use that peace to kill you isn’t a good idea. But, as much as I believe that, can any of us say that Israel has done everything it can to promote the possibility of peace?

Strange as this is to say, I don’t want to be overly evenhanded here. As I keep saying, I do not believe that this is a “cycle of violence” with both sides equally to blame. But, I also don’t think that we gain very much at all from pointing fingers solely at one side, or from pretending that Israel is perfect.

I’ll continue to post materials here that I think shed light on this incident. I’ll hope, probably against hope, that the mainstream media starts to be less biased against Israel. I’ll pray, against all odds, for peace.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

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