The Washington Post’s editors declare the IDF’s capture of the Marmara a “fiasco.” If so, it is that special kind of fiasco that attains such status only by virtue of people like those on the editorial board of the Washington Post declaring it one. And the willingness of such folks to cry “fiasco” (or not) too often depends on their agenda, not the facts of the case.
The Post’s stated reasons for calling the affair a fiasco are these: Israel will be “condemn[ed] by its many enemies;” Israel’s “once strong relations with Turkey” are in jeopardy; the Middle East “peace talks are at risk again;” and Prme Minister Netanyahu’s “conciliatory” meeting with President Obama has been cancelled.
But by now, Israel is pretty much inured to criticism by both its enemies and its non-friends. And “peace talks” at risk, also a familiar circumstance, is not the same thing as real risk to Israeli interests. Depending on where those talks would lead, Israel may be better off if peace talks don’t materialize at this juncture.
As for Israel’s “once strong” relations with Turkey, surely they were already on life support; otherwise, Turkey would not have been involved with this particular flotilla. Finally, the incident at sea actually presents Obama with the opportunity for real reconciliation with Israel, as opposed to the photo-op sort, if he avoids knee-jerk condemnation, as he has so far.
The Post’s decision to call the affair a fiasco is not, therefore, justified by the facts it adduces. Its real reason for invoking the “f” word lies in its obsession with the “peace process,” which translates into an obsession with pushing Israel to make concessions to its enemies. Thus, the Post’s final paragraph:
As for Mr. Netanyahu, the only road to recovery from this disaster lies in embracing, once and for all, credible steps to create conditions for a Palestinian state. A good start would be easing restrictions on both Gaza and the West Bank, once the reactions to Monday’s events subside. Mr. Netanyahu also needs to broaden his government to include pro-peace parties; one of his main problems is cabinet hawks who have made Israeli diplomacy an oxymoron. The prime minister is in a deepening hole; his only way out is to move to the center.
But the “hole” the Post posits is, for the reasons stated above, a construct, not a real one. And credible conditions for a Palestinian state (which Netanyahu has already said he will accept) do not exist unless Israel remains free from attacks by Hamas. Israel’s blockade helps ensure the absence of such attacks.
Those who play the role of useful idiot by calling on Israel to reward, through concessions, the kind of behavior displayed by the cutthroats on the flotilla do no good for the cause of a negotiated settlement. The conditions for a settlement acceptable to Israel do not exist as long as its enemies believe they can advance their interests through the kind of tactics on display this weekend.