An act of piracy, war crime, blatant violation of international law, murder of unarmed civilians — each and every definition used by the international media is true, and altogether beside the point. The murderous Israeli operation is, in fact, the expression of the new Israeli modus operandi. And as such it is frightening.
All over the world, men and women are asking: why? Why such a crime that looks completely dysfunctional and even counter-productive? Why provoke a major crisis with an ally like Turkey? Why aggravate the European Union that is trying to upgrade the status of Israel in the European market? Why shock and provoke the entire international community?
In order to understand such apparently irrational Israeli behavior, one must go back 1.5 years ago, to Israel’s massacre of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in December 2008-January 2009. This aggression against Gaza, the bombardment and shelling of a city where a million of men, women, and children are living, provoked a unanimous worldwide shock, and rendered the State of Israel, in the eyes of hundreds of millions of people, a rogue state with no respect for human life and international law.
The strategic decision of Israel was to divorce the international community and ignore international public opinion. Back to the old Golda Meir slogan: “No matter what the gentiles say, what counts is what the Jews are doing.” Two or three years later, Israel was surprised and defeated by the Arab armies, and only massive emergency aid from “the gentiles” — in that case the United States — saved Israel from what Golda Meir herself called “the destruction of the Third Temple.”
Such an isolationist strategy can work only if the United States is behind Israel, and obviously it is. But Washington is also very angry with Israeli leaders, who are not at all ready to adapt their policies to US global interests, in particular the refusal of Benjamin Netanyahu to freeze settlement activities in the West Bank. And now Israeli rulers are creating a crisis with the second most important asset of Washington in the eastern Mediterranean, the Turkish Republic.
Cooperation between Turkey and Israel is at the heart of NATO military deployment in our region and shaking this strategic alliance may have dramatic implications for American security policy. An act of aggression against Turkey is, in fact, an attack against US interests in western Asia. Unlike the Israeli military establishment, which is well aware of that reality, the Israeli politicians are still trapped in the neo-conservative conception of a clash of civilizations.
Although Turkey is a non-Arab secular state, the fact that it has a Muslim population made it, for the ignorant and racist Israeli leadership, part of the Arab-Muslim menace against Israel, a part of the barbarian camp that is threatening the “Judeo-Christian civilization.”
Armed with such an “analysis,” Ehud Barak — him again! — decided to teach Turkey and the whole world a lesson. As usual, Barak lost his gamble and Israel will have to pay a heavy price for its and his autistic arrogance. Part of the price is greater dependence on the US and more receptivity to White House demands. In a sense, the Palestinians can be the winners in this Israeli fiasco, if their leadership knows how to play. Will they?
Michael Warschawski is a co-founder of the Alternative Information Center. This article was first published by the AIC on 1 June 2010 under a Creative Commons license.