Sunday, June 6, 2010
The decline in Israel's reputation since the brutal attack on the Gaza flotilla is unlikely to influence the country's leaders
By Ilan Pappé
"At the top of Israel's political and military systems stand two men, Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu, who are behind the brutal attack on the Gaza flotilla that shocked the world but that seemed to be hailed as a pure act of self-defence by the Israeli public.
Although they come from the left (Defence minister Barak from the Labour Party) and the right (Prime Minister Netanyahu from Likkud) of Israeli politics, their thinking on Gaza in general and on the flotilla in particular is informed by the same history and identical worldview.
At one time, Ehud Barak was Benjamin Netanyahu's commanding officer in the Israeli equivalent of the SAS. More precisely, they served in a similar unit to the one sent to assault the Turkish ship last week. Their perception of the reality in the Gaza Strip is shared by other leading members of the Israeli political and military elite, and is widely supported by the Jewish electorate at home.....
The real, unlike the declared, strategy is to continue this state of affairs. As long as the international community is complacent, the Arab world impotent and Gaza contained, Israel can still have a thriving economy and an electorate that regards the dominance of the army in its life, the continued conflict and the oppression of the Palestinians as the exclusive past, the present and future reality of life in Israel. The US vice-president Joe Biden was humiliated by the Israelis recently when they announced the building of 1,600 new homes in the disputed Ramat Shlomo district of Jerusalem, on the day he arrived to try to freeze the settlement policy. But his unconditional support now for the latest Israeli action makes the leaders and their electorate feel vindicated.
It would be wrong, however, to assume that American support and a feeble European response to Israeli criminal policies such as one pursued in Gaza are the main reasons for the protracted blockade and strangulation of Gaza....."