Israel Says No, the US Agrees

Time for the World to Get Serious

So the predictable dynamics are unfolding. Anywhere the US does not have a veto, Israel is being condemned for its latest atrocities and for its illegal blockade on Gaza. Israel as usual has its puppets in the US Congress and the US mainstream media coming to its defense. And Israel has rejected demands from the UN, plus all of the major powers (except, of course, the US) to lift the blockade and stand aside.

But this crisis does not seem to be going away. An awful lot of people are still mad, and more are becoming enraged as the days pass. Fraudulent videos from Israel may be treated as fact in the US media, but as far as I can tell, nowhere else. Israel still depends on the US to stop anything tangible from happening to it. The US government still depends on its weight to make that happen.

And Turkey, quite obviously, does not give a damn. I tell you, I wish I were younger and could immigrate to Turkey, it would be SO good to have a leader who did not check his every bowel movement with the domestic lobby of a foreign country. Perhaps Erdogan could ship Obama some left-handed suppositories? They might help him get through the day.

The practical matter is what to do in the next few days. The MV Rachel Corrie is coming into Israel’s target zone soon, and at least one of the other sidelined vessels — perhaps with an American flag? — may be accompanying it. In fact, the organizers of the flotilla should do all in their power to ensure that the Irish-flagged ship is in tandem with a US-flagged ship as they head into the Israeli blockade.

The Israelis will undoubtedly intercept them, as they have said they would. They have no choice. Like thugs defending their ill-gotten gains, they have to do that, because once their illegal blockade is penetrated, it is gone for good. They are truly caught on a dilemma of their own making: if they let any ships through, the blockade ends, and if they attack another, the ability of the US to protect them from sanctions or worse becomes increasingly problematical.

A sensible state with sensible leaders would recognize the absurdity of persisting in a course of action that is tactically dubious and strategically self-destructive. But Israel is not a sensible country, and its leaders today are not at all rational — indeed, not only Netanyahu and Lieberman, but their predecessors and cohorts such as Barak would be prime candidates for an institution for the criminally insane. Not, perhaps, in a clinical sense, as being deranged — “just” monomaniacs and fanatics, and therefore doubly dangerous.

So my suggestion. Let the organizers of the flotilla wait until a Turkish-flagged ship can join the Rachel Corrie, and a US-flagged ship as well. If Erdogan is true to his word — and unlike American politicians, I believe he will be — there’ll be at least one Turkish warship with them. Give the Israelis the choice of attacking a US-flagged ship among others, or letting all of them through.

Try hard to get another warship from anywhere, and at the very least, have the people on the US-flagged ship be in telephonic contact with the US 6th Fleet as they approach the point of Israeli interception. Forty-odd years ago, a US fleet stood aside at the orders of then-President Johnson as Israelis attacked a US Navy ship and killed or wounded over 200 US sailors and Marines.

Not even Obama can be sure the US Navy will stand aside again and let that happen to another US-flagged ship, especially an unarmed vessel carrying civilians and humanitarian aid. Unlike politicians — and many admirals and generals — most of the US Navy and Marine Corps have never been for sale. It would give the Israelis a much-needed and long-overdue lesson.

Alan Sabrosky (Ph.D., University of Michigan) is a writer and consultant specializing in national and international security affairs. In December 1988, he received the Superior Civilian Service Award after more than five years of service at the U.S. Army War College as Director of Studies, Strategic Studies Institute, and holder of the General of the Army Douglas MacArthur Chair of Research. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Alan.

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  1. lamella said on June 4th, 2010 at 2:42pm #

    “They are truly caught on a dilemma of their own making: if they let any ships through, the blockade ends, and if they attack another, the ability of the US to protect them from sanctions or worse becomes increasingly problematical.”

    To be clear, ships have made it through the blockade in the past, including ones from the Free Gaza Movement. So the Israelis haven’t made the blockade completely impenetrable.

    I agree the sensible course of action would be to just bluff and let the MV Rachel Corrie through at the last minute – it would basically pour water on a lot of the outrage everywhere except Turkey. But we all know Israel won’t do that. Then again I doubt they’ll be abseiling from helicopters at 2:30 AM again either.