x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Hit back and spare Israel the disgrace

Western media covered the Israeli commandos's raid on the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla objectively and adequately commented Tariq al Homayed, the editor-in-chief of the London-based newspaper Asharq al Awsat.

Western media covered the Israeli commandos's raid on the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla objectively and adequately, running images of the Israeli action enough times to leave it impressed on the international memory, commented Tariq al Homayed, the editor-in-chief of the London-based newspaper Asharq al Awsat. Israel is in deep trouble today. It is not facing criticism from western governments alone, for international non-governmental organisations are bearing down with all their might and lobby power on Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet, knowing that western civil society is far more powerful than states in orienting and mobilising the international community.

"Keep that in mind, the Arabs must not - especially those groups who prefer to abstain from the exercise of reason - commit any foolish act of retaliation in the name of the Palestinian cause," the editor said. "If they do, they will be offering the Israelis a great gift on a silver platter; the world will immediately forget about the crime they've perpetrated, and Israel's forbidding aura, formed three days ago, will dissipate." Remember the tragedy of the Palestinian father and son Jamal and Mohammed al Durrah who were shot by Israeli snipers on camera? The international community was shaken to the core, but a week later, a Palestinian youth stood with the blood of an Israeli on his hands, scratching out the al Durrah tragedy.

The Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu and the members of his right-wing cabinet probably have no idea yet that the Israeli massacre of peace activists onboard the Freedom Flotilla on Monday will turn out to be a huge achievement for the Palestinian cause, commented Abdelbari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds al Arabi, in his front-page column.

"To be sure, we are mourning the loss of some 20 martyrs, most of them Turks, but we won the 70-million strong Turkish people on the most fundamental Islamic cause," the editor said. While drawing attention to aspects of collusion on the part of Arabs regarding the Gaza blockade, Israel's bloody assault on the flotilla saves the Muslim world billions of dollars on public relations and decades of efforts trying to finally expose Israel's unflawul actions and arrogance to the world.

Moreover, Israel's murders are now mobilising international civil societies in favour of the Palestinian cause and bringing the inter-Palestinian reconciliation to its most advanced stage to date. The day will come when Israeli commandos are depicted as pirates. The difference is that high-sea pirates do not represent governments, nor do they present themselves as agents of democracy, and, if apprehended, they do not elude the hand of international law. "On this glorious occasion [?] we can't indeed be grateful enough for the Turkish people."

Israel did not need to shed more blood - this time of a group of multi-national peace activists bringing food and aid to the hungry people of Gaza - to maintain its status as the top international law violator in the world, wrote Rassem Abdeedat in the opinion pages of the Palestinian newspaper Al Quds.

"Despite its criminal and rather barbaric actions, Israel always finds someone to coddle it and protect it from potential sanctions," the writer said. In a shameless double-standard attitude, the United States and western Europe have always been quick to dream up pretexts to justify Israel's use of force against unarmed civilians - Israel's 2008 war on Gaza made that so desperately clear. One still wonders, though: where do all those human rights super-fighters and hardcore guardians of international law hide when Israel blunders? How come they either abruptly disappear or limit their statements to expressions of "disproval" and "deep consternation"? So, the crime this time is so flagrant it doesn't require any further proof. Yet, whatever happens, Israel will have Washington and Brussels right by its side - the two best spoilers of international law's credibility - since neither of them is facing an Arab stance tough enough to pique their concern about their interests in the region.

"Many complications will ensue from the Israeli military operation against the Freedom Flotilla, the political manifestations of which have started to appear already," wrote Abdullah Iskandar, the managing editor of the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat.

Its effects on the Middle East peace process and on Israel's bond with America and the West cannot be denied. However, the Turkish-Israeli relationship will be affected most, as this is the first incident of its kind between the two countries. Tel Aviv took the decision to intercept the flotilla's mission because its arrival to blockaded Gaza amounted to a challenge to Israel's status in the Middle East. Now, Ankara is officially at the heart of the regional conflict with Tel Aviv. The Israeli military operation can be viewed as the culmination of the clash of wills between Israel and Turkey.

The flotilla, which was supported by Ankara, was a political move representing the organisers' shift from verbal endorsement to concrete support for the Palestinian cause. Looking for a bigger stake in the neighborhood's political arena, Turkey realised that a confrontation with Israel has become necessary to serve its purposes. "Therefore, Israel's bloody strike against the flotilla can be interpreted as a refusal and a challenge of this prospective Turkish sway."

* Digest compiled by Achraf ElBahi @Email:aelbahi@thenational.ae