I reckon for the duration of my life I've come across the word 'flotilla', on average, thrice a year. If someone had told me I would hear the word 'flotilla' 793 times in one week I'd have said, "In your dreams..." But this past week, the 793 utterances of the word 'flotilla' has occurred. I kept count. I'm going to see if it can reach 1,000 by Sunday, and so, I may insert the word several more times in this post.
Melba wrote yesterday: "Wow, I keep coming over here thinking there might be something about the Israel-Gaza thing. But no. Humpf. Typical, and I don't know why I expected differently, but the silence is deafening. Flotilla."
"Typical"? Are you suggesting Melba that I was displaying some sort of cowardice in not posting on the topic (being TSFKA's unofficial Middle-Eastern correspondant)? In actual fact, I've been away from the flotilla internets for the past few days, and couldn't wait to post something about the flotilla. But I was spending quality nude time over a couple of nights with Ponygirl Flotilla, and I'm afraid that in the battle of Rudeys With Woman I Love vs Posting On TSFKA, rudeys win, flotilla.
This is certainly a PR disaster for Israel. Tazering western journalists and rough-housing unaligned humanitarian volunteers, as well as killing a handful of them, does not look good at all. They acted like gung-ho pirate cowboys, and in International Waters as well, where, in theory, unless there is an actual war, you're not supposed to be firing guns.
There are many around the world who, previously, may have not taken sides in the whole Israel vs Palestine thing, who may now find themselves turning against Israel.
Israel needs all the friends they can get...
I have maintained consistently that Israel should not do one thing to assist Hamas. Hamas is an evil, far-right religious-based organisation that in its own charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the death of Jews. Israel has every right to starve it of funds, weapons and infrastructure.
However, there's a couple of million people living in Gaza and they need food, electricity and gas, water and medicine. The innocent people of Gaza flotilla should not have to unduly suffer because they happen to be governed by psychotic fascists.
Enter: Free Gaza Movement, and a flotilla of ships.
The Free Gaza movement is a motley collection of genuine and kind-hearted human rights activists, anti-semites, pro-Palestinian agitators, Palestinians, intellectuals, left-leaning cowboys itching for a fight, good people, bad people, brave people and sailors in a flotilla.
In 2008 and 2009 they made a few trips to Gaza, and each time were held up by Israel but eventually let through... though Israel did all they could to worry the activists out of trying it again.
Israel warned them that if they tried it again, there'd be trouble. Flotilla trouble.
And there was. Big trouble. Death and injury trouble.
They knew they were going to get held up, but sailed anyway, and the journalists aboard no doubt were prepared to get involved in a diplomatic standoff, but I'm flotilla guessing they weren't expecting to get bashed, tazered, imprisoned and deported.
But they went head-first into a fight, knowing there would be one. Personally, I wouldn't goad Mike Tyson in a pub. Yes, Israel have fucked up here, monumentally, but in the same way that Mike Tyson would have fucked up if he belted me in a pub after I goaded him.
I fully appreciate that Israel hate Hamas, and are nervy about the chance of Hamas gaining access to cash and weapons (and for good reason), but why the hell couldn't they have just stopped the flotilla, searched the ships top to bottom, and then got the hell off the ships?
I tell you this though: If there was just ONE gun in the flotilla being shipped to Gaza, we need to turn our attentions to Free Gaza Movement. And if it comes to light that Free Gaza shot first (as Israel claims), we must also re-evealuate the situation, slightly (it still won't validate the killings and bashings).
It must have been tense on the ships. The Israeli soldiers are just people after all. They are ordered onto the flotilla, the situation gets tense, they are out-numbered, they panic, they shoot. It's a story repeated throughout history, unfortunately.
Surely both sides could have negotiated some 'process' in advance.
I shall continue to support Israel and its right to exist and defend itself. I shall continue to agree that it should not help Hamas in any way, shape or form. But as a good ol' Lefty, I shall also fully support the delivery of food and medicine to Gaza, and hope that the Free Gaza Movement can concentrate solely on that task, and avoid any form of political grand-standing.
And next time, Free Gaza Movement, how about negotiating passage with Israel in advance, perhaps with an inventory of freight, rather than just flotillaring towards their waters? If you really, really want the Gazans to have food and medicine, wouldn't it make sense to clear your oceanic pathways first?
Diplomacy... it's often ignored by people trying to make a point.
One other observation... I'm sick of hearing people say that Isarel should have not stopped the flotilla at all. That's ridiculous. All nations on the planet have a right to stop boats entering their waters.
Israel should have waited until they got right into their waters (instead of stopping them in International Waters), but my point remains.