Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
The Second Battle of Trafalgar:
Israeli Navy Intercepts Marianne Flotilla 3 Boat
By Uri Avnery
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, June 6, 2015
Pro-Palestinian peace activists, including former Tunisian
President Marzouki (second from left), on board of Mrieanne Freedom Flotilla 3
boat, before being hijacked by Israeli occupation navy forces,
taking them to Isdood, which the Israelis call Ashdod, on June 29, 2015.
Pro-Palestinian activists set sail on June 26, 2015 from the
port of Elounda, northeastern Crete island, as part of a
flotilla of yachts and boats seeking to break Israel's blockade
A MIGHTY naval battle took place this week on the waves of the
Mediterranean. It will go down in history as the equal of Salamis or
In a daring move, the navy of the State of Israel
intercepted the enemy, consisting of the trawler Marianne and the 18 people
aboard. Israel naval commandos captured the ship and towed it to the harbor
The admiral who commanded this glorious action has so far
modestly remained anonymous. Therefore we cannot honor him with a column in
the center of Tel Aviv, like Admiral Horatio Nelson's column in London's
Trafalgar Square. Pity.
However, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
lauded the courage of the victors in glowing terms, expressing the gratitude
and admiration of the nation for their gallant deed.
continue in this vein, but even sarcasm has its limits.
affair was a masterpiece of stupidity.
Five years ago, several boats
tried to reach Gaza, as a symbolic act of support for the beleaguered
enclave, and were let through by the Israeli navy. No one mentioned them
Then there came the "Turkish flotilla". Several boats were
led by the larger Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara, with hundreds of Turkish and
international peace activists on board. This time, Netanyahu and his minions
were determined to show the world that Israel rules the waves. He ordered an
attack on the flotilla.
Israeli naval commandos were lowered onto
the deck of the Marmara from a helicopter, and in the ensuing mêlée nine
Turks (one of them also an American citizen) were killed. A tenth died later
from his wounds. All of them were unarmed but resisted violently.
The other boats were captured without violent resistance. All were brought
to Ashdod harbor.
The international reaction was immense. For many,
the Marmara became a symbol of Israeli brutality. The propaganda catastrophe
compelled Netanyahu to release all the imprisoned activists and crew and
send them on their way home.
Altogether, what could have been a
negligible incident, soon forgotten, turned into a great victory for the
activists. The entire world paid attention. The Gaza blockade became the
center of international interest.
EVEN WORSE were the political
consequences. Turkey became an enemy.
For many years, Turkey – and
especially the Turkish armed forces - had been a staunch ally of Israel.
Secret relations between the two non-Arab Middle Eastern powers were woven.
During the reign of David Ben-Gurion, a "peripheral theory" became the
cornerstone of Israel's regional policy. Accordingly, Israel established an
unofficial alliance with the non-Arab states that surround the Arab world:
Kemalist Turkey, the Shah's Iran, Ethiopia, Chad and so on.
sold arms to the Turks. Joint army maneuvers were held. Eventually open
diplomatic relations were established.
All this came to an end with
the Marmara affair (except the military part, which continues in secret).
Emotions were aroused. Turkish public opinion reacted with fury. Israel
refused to pay the high indemnities demanded for the bereaved families.
(Negotiations about them are still going on.)
Recep Tayyip Erdogan,
an adroit politician, exploited the incident in order to change fronts and
reestablish Turkish influence in the Arab countries which had belonged to
the late Ottoman Empire.
What did Israel gain from this incident?
DID THE Israeli government draw any conclusions from this
How could they? For them it was not a debacle at all, but
rather an admirable demonstration of Israeli prowess and determination. This
week's incident was the inevitable outcome. More will follow.
order to weigh up the results of a hostile encounter, one has to ask what
each side wanted to achieve.
The organizers of the flotillas wanted
to stage a provocation, in order to draw the world's attention to the
pernicious blockade. From their point of view, the Israeli reaction serves
their purpose admirably.
Netanyahu wants to keep the blockade going,
drawing as little attention to it as possible. From this point of view, the
attacks are counterproductive. In short, they are stupid.
question is, of course: Why, for God's sake, is there a blockade at all?
What purpose does it serve?
Officially, the purpose is to prevent
weapons reaching the Gaza strip, so as to prevent Hamas from attacking
If so, why cause the whole drama? Boats sailing to Gaza,
purportedly to supply it with medicines and food, can be searched by mutual
agreement in their harbors of departure. The organizers cannot object to
this without arousing suspicion.
Alternatively, the boats can be
stopped on the high seas, searched and released. Such a procedure is quite
The Israeli government has rejected these possibilities,
thereby raising the suspicion that the purpose of the blockade is quite
different. It is to prevent any supplies from reaching Gaza in order to keep
the overcrowded territory totally dependent on supplies coming from Israel,
which lets through only the bare necessities of life.
purpose is to let the 1.8 million inhabitants, the majority descendents of
refugees from Israel, vegetate on the brink of starvation, in order to
induce them to rise up and overthrow the Hamas authorities. If so, it has
been a miserable failure. On the contrary, under the cruel pressure, the
inhabitants seem to draw ever closer to Hamas. After all, Hamas is not a
foreign invader, but the brothers and sons of the inhabitants.
Leaving aside the question whether the blockade is legal under international
law, it certainly has not fulfilled its promise. The rule of Hamas in Gaza
seems to be as solid as ever.
THIS BEING so, one might raise the
opposite option. Why not lift the blockade altogether? (Gasp!)
can imagine a situation of open borders and open sea. Food, medicines,
building materials and everything else, except arms, flowing into the Strip
from all directions – by sea and by land from Egypt and Israel.
not let the Gazans build a harbor or obtain a floating harbor? Why not let
them reactivate their airport? The beautiful building they once built near
Dahaniya was destroyed by our armed forces. Why not build it again?
Simple logic dictates that the more the people of Gaza have to lose, the
less will they be inclined to provoke another war. If we really want quiet
and tranquility, that is the way.
Yes, but what about arms?
Establish strict supervision by international inspectors. That has been done
before in history. No problem.
BEHIND THE tactical stupidity of
this whole affair there lurks a much larger strategic stupidity.
The air of the Middle East is full of rumors about an ongoing secret effort
to forge an Israel-Hamas armistice, even a kind of alliance.
based on the disinclination of the Israeli government to re-conquer the Gaza
strip, with its 1.8 million Palestinian Arabs. It's not only a problem of
security – a guerrilla war by Hamas would be certain – but something much
worse. What really frightens all Israeli governments, right and left, is
demography. 1.8 million more Arabs, multiplying all the time? A nightmare
In all the dreams about the annexation of the West
Bank, the Gaza Strip is always left outside. True, it is geographically and
historically part of "Eretz Israel", but who wants it? To hell with it!
Our present government, composed of extreme right-wingers, wants to
eventually annex the West Bank, with as few Arab Palestinians as possible.
Because of this, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is a far more dangerous enemy of
Netanyahu and his ilk than Hamas. Abbas attracts international recognition.
He enjoys growing UN and US support.
By this logic, Netanyahu could
be expected to fight Abbas and support Hamas in creating a separate
mini-state in Gaza. But he behaves like a child who has to choose between
two sweets: he wants both.
So he tries to undermine Abbas while at
the same time fighting his glorious battles on the high seas against Hamas.
But he is also engaged in secret negotiations with his new friends, Saudi
Arabia and Egypt, in order to forge a long-term armistice ("hudna") with
SOMETHING PERSONAL: I have been
asked why I was not on the boat that tried to run the blockade this week.
Frankly, I would have loved to go. I love the sea. I love boats. I
would have enjoyed the company of the former Tunisian prime minister and the
Arab member of the Knesset who were on the boat. Breaking the blockade would
have appealed to me very much.
The trouble is that the organizers
of these flotillas insist on a political program that negates the existence
of the State of Israel. Much like the organizers of the BDS, they
insist on the One-State chimera.
I believe in peace. Peace means
peace between the two states: Israel and Palestine. I support the
Palestinian struggle for independence as part of my struggle for a peaceful,
So I missed the Second Battle of Trafalgar.
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