“We convinced ourselves we’re moral and everyone wants us dead.”

The flotilla continues.

As I write, the Irish-flagged MV Rachel Corrie — named for that brave young American peace activist who, in attempting to stop Israeli forces from demolishing Gazan homes, was crushed under an Israeli bulldozer — is sailing for Gaza. At last report, the activists on board had rejected a deal brokered by the Irish and Israeli governments by which they would have unloaded their goods at the Israeli port of Ashdod for guaranteed transport to the Strip, but they have also committed to not resisting if stopped by the Israelis.

I have the feeling that this last ship, and the Israeli (official and non-) reaction to it, and the world’s reaction to Israel’s reaction to it, all of that, is going to prove very significant in some way. I don’t know in what way — I don’t even have a gut sense of what way (as the first flotilla neared Gaza, I had a very powerful sense that it was going to end very badly. That’s right, I’m a prophet. And I hire out to parties) — but Something is going to happen, I think.

In the meantime, though, I wanted to call attention to an op/ed by Anshel Pfeffer that appeared in today’s HaAretz. I’m going to quote it at length (note: all emphasis is mine), because it tells so much truth in such a small space, but I really encourage you to click through and read the whole thing.

In its hour of need, Israel was let down by the Diaspora

Majority of Israeli public is imbued with feeling like a poor lonely victim, confronting the rage of a lynch mob.

Anshel Pfeffer

“We felt like the Ramallah lynch.” I am certain that the unnamed Israeli naval commando who said these words to a reporter a few hours after the bloodbath on the Mavi Marmara regrets them now. It is quite clear why the image came to his mind at the time. None of us has forgotten the pictures of a baying mob literally hacking to pieces the reservists Yossi Avrahami and Vadim Nurzhitz nine and a half years ago and throwing their bodies out of the window of a Palestinian police station.

But the visual resemblance is where the comparison ends. The two unarmed reservists were on their own, after straying into Ramallah, and were cruelly murdered. They were dead before the army was even fully aware that they were missing. True, the naval commandos on the Turkish ferry were surrounded by club-wielding enemies, intent on killing them – one of them was even thrown off the deck – but they were simply at a very temporary tactical disadvantage. Backing them up was all the firepower and might of a modern navy, and indeed the results were not surprising. After a few minutes of scuffling, in which seven commandos were wounded, the full force was unleashed and nine people on the other side were killed. Hardly a lynch situation.

But it was that remark that was picked up by the entire Israeli media and used as the headline encapsulating the whole bloody event. Why? Because the feeling of helplessness of a poor lonely victim, confronting the rage of a lynch mob and frantically realizing that these are his last moments, accurately reflect the current psychosis of the majority of the Israeli public.

Everything that followed the disastrous raid on the Gaza flotilla – the descriptions in the media, the justifications of the Israel Defense Forces spokesman and the reactions of the politicians – prove how detached we have become from the way that Israel is perceived from outside.

…None of Israel’s arguments – that the members of the Turkish relief organization IHH were actually murderous jihadis, that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, that Israel was prepared to allow the cargo to go through its own port and that the blockade is justified as the only way to keep more missiles from reaching Hamas – would have been any more persuasive. Not because they were badly presented or inaccurate, but simply because moral people around the world see almost everything that happens in the region as a result of a deeply immoral situation that the Israeli leadership and the great majority of the Israeli public is doing nothing whatsoever to change.

That may be a simplistic perspective, devoid of any nuance, but it is not an anti-Semitic or even anti-Israeli position, as some try to persuade us. It is simply a moral viewpoint. And even most perceptive Israelis can’t seem to see that.

…Criticizing the IDF is too easy. The real blame lies with successive Israeli governments and the broad public that are not brave enough to end the 42-year-old occupation and prefer instead to throw the army at the problem. As good as our army is, the result will only be more and more bloodshed. So how do we deal with it? By convincing ourselves that we are the moral ones and everyone else just wants to kill us.

If only we had some real friends, friends we could trust implicitly, who could point out the error of our ways. This could be the shining moment of the Jewish Diaspora. They love us, but they also see things from another perspective. We need a strong, unified voice from the Jewish leadership in the United States and Europe telling Israelis enough is enough, you are hurtling down the slippery slope of pariahdom and causing untold damage to yourselves and us. Lift your heads above the ramparts and see that the world has moved on.

Instead, we find the establishment of the Jewish world crouching with us in the bunker.

…When the history of the Jewish people in the early 21st century is written, the conclusion will be unavoidable. In its hour of need Israel was let down by the Diaspora.

1 Comment

  1. Leelee

     /  June 5, 2010

    ellaesther, I have been AWOL for quite awhile lately because of the job, etc. But I have read many of your posts and have been touched often by your analysis. It is so hard for me to understand what is happening there and your writing is so helpful. I said to someone just the other day that Israel was making it so difficult to protect and defend them. Perhaps this article will help somehow. It is so spot on in its insights. Sometimes the people who love us show that love best by telling us when we are wrong.

    We can only hope that the leadership in Israel awaken to what they are putting at risk. If those of us who have loved and admired Israel for decades are stepping back from the Gaza abyss, they must know they have to re-think their actions.

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