Voices from Israel: A New Perspective by Adam Baratz

June 18, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Posted in Adam Baratz, Voices from Israel | 1 Comment
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Today I am going to discuss a sensitive subject. Two weeks ago, on May 30th, a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid was raided by Israel. Ultimately, 9 people who were onboard the ship were killed by the raid. This event has elicited angry responses of world leaders. Unfortunately, differing accounts of this event have made it difficult for people to know what to really believe. For example, Israel explains that the soldiers use live ammunition in an act of self-defense. The activists on board the Mavi paint a picture in which Israeli soldiers massacre innocent victims.

What is more confusing, news outlets throughout the world choose which account to legitimize. I for one am generally skeptical of the media when it comes to reporting big tragic stories such as this one. Unfortunately, the information provided by news sources is often politically charged, attempting to use the news to convince the public to have opinions, not knowledge. Some news outlets support the Israeli story. Others support the activists’ stories. What you end up with is a lot of emotionally charged imagery. There is little understanding with regards to why or how the tragedy took place.

To be honest, I have accepted Israeli narrative. However, my goal here is not to support an account whose legitimacy cannot be verified, that will be the job of an investigative panel. Instead, I hope to show how this tragedy can be reframed to promote dialogue instead of divisiveness.

To better understand the events of last week, it is important to put oneself in Israel’s shoes. When thinking about the flotilla raid and the vehement international response that it has elicited, it becomes clear that this attack was not good for Israel. Although it may seem obvious, Israel had a great deal to lose when it used ammunition in the flotilla.

What happened on May 30th was the last thing that Israel wanted. Clearly, Israel knows that shooting “peace activists” has terrible repercussions. It would be foolish to think that the Israeli military would carelessly massacre activists. Consider the many diplomatic troubles that have followed this event. Consider the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic rhetoric that has developed in the past week. Israel knows that it is unacceptable to attack innocent civilians, if only because of the international controversy such an act elicits. Additionally, why would Israel shoot innocent activists? Such an act of violence brings only trouble. One can therefore conclude that going in, Israel was not planning on using live weapons. The weapons that were employed were used in response to an attack, not as an instigator of violence. Even without knowing the whole story, one could easily infer that Israel would not randomly attack a bunch of civilian boats.

This new perspective is very important. This is because people who disagree with Israel’s policies have used this flotilla raid as a way to vilify the nation. Such a manipulation is unfair. The fact that people died on the Mavi Marmara is tragic. However, extrapolating this event as a metaphor for the entire Israeli-Palestinian is disingenuous. Common sense has shown that, Israel used live weapons in the Mavi Marmara in response to violence.


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  1. Re the Israeli raid on the Turkish flotilla, Israel obviously screwed up royally and gave its enemies lots of propaganda ammunition. I am not a general nor an admiral, and one wonders what the planners of this stupid raid thought. It would have been so simple for a few Israel SEALS – the best in the world – to simply stop the ship by disabling the rudder or propeller and then simply towing the ship to an Israeli port, rather than put many people and soldiers in danger. Israelis are very macho oriented and have a superman complex… Once, after the 6-Day War, someone told me “it is good we fought Arabs and not Germans”. The meaning is clear.


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