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The Flotilla and the Shifting Sea of Time

June 2, 2010

"But a man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated."

The term flotilla was originally a Spanish word for a formation of small warships that may be part of a larger fleet.

Recently this relatively obscure maritime term is suddenly everywhere (a trending topic on twitter no less!) thanks to the now infamous incident in which Israeli commandos boarded six ships carrying 700 private individuals and a cargo of much needed basic humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza (now in year 3 of an ongoing blockade). Nasty stuff ensued resulting in between 10-20 dead, and more than 60 hurt. The rest of the passengers were herded into interrogation rooms and holding cells in Israel.

And so it begins. ‘Oh, the inhumanity! The horror!’  Lo and behold, the dance of the outraged… only these days the dance is getting increasingly larger and more intense with each Israeli atrocity.

You see, what is most striking for me, in my lewd lair of leisure and convenience, is the question so many people are suddenly asking themselves: “How could Israel be so stupid??”

Striking, because when you read history, Israel has not been acting any differently since its inception. I mean seriously, they’ve done some mean ass shit. Assassinations of Palestinians in and outside the region, dropping napalm on refugees, shooting down a Libyan commercial airliner, bombing and occupying nations, aiding dictatorships in Latin America and West Asia, sharing nukes with Apartheid South Africa, and outright piracy against ferries shifting between Cyprus and Lebanon, to name a few glorious moments in the Zionist State’s history.  Israel’s massive destruction on Gaza in 2008 was not worse than Israel’s carnage in Beirut 1982. The Freedom Flotilla massacre was not worse than the (two) Qana massacres, if we are looking strictly at the numbers dead and hurt.

So what is it that’s changing in the public perception of Israeli action that led one New York Jew to tweet “Israel is like a close family member hooked on heroin and you just don’t know what to do with them anymore”?

For many years Israel has appeared to have a near international monopoly on the narrative of the Zionist-Palestinian struggle.  But it was, and still is, perceived as a European colonial project born out of a European guilt on a European crime. Not a case to build a legitimate state for many.

The myths break down of course, under closer observation, but that takes up too much brain power so we don’t usual do that sort of thing; as wise men ask, which is the most universal human characteristic: fear, or laziness?  The answer, at least to me, is clearly the latter.

In this case the Israeli spin has already begun. Their brave commandos were trying to prevent themselves from being lynched by jihadists, apparently. For the Israelis, everything else, from the fate of 1.5 million people on 360 squared kilometres of densely populated land to the destiny of international law, is placed aside in that tale.
However, technological change has made information available to even the least inquiring of minds and it is changing people’s viewpoint. Now they face a public that has grown weary and suspicious of the easy use of the word “terrorist,” which can see and hear for themselves multiple views of what happened.

The “Public” are watching the video clips, hearing the alternative news sources, and immediate up-to-the-second reaction. Some even debate online and share competing wide-ranging sources and images, scouring and scrutinizing in their own journey for the “truth”. Viewpoints, photos, podcasts, blogs, Youtube, and all the endless list of softwares and sporkets were produced and consumed.

A monopoly on narrative becomes tricky in that prickly jungle. Someone’s always bound to watch you do something dirty.

So…What’s next?

Well, 1.5 million Palestinians are still blockaded (Egypt sneakily opened the Rafah crossing, so they can tip toe away from being held accountable to the siege too; a small respite to the misery of the people in Gaza). Obama is twiddling his thumbs, a bit worried about the fate of his push for sanctions against Iran. The Arab League is still a lousy organization. The UN whined. The Rachel Corrie, a second aid vessel, aiming to land in Gaza next Monday is on its way. This time, the Turks say they are going to guard these ships with their navy (as much as the Turkish political sphere is becoming anti-Israel, Turkish-Israeli military relations is still business as usual).

And the Sea of Time keeps on flowing.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. sysh permalink*
    June 2, 2010 4:48 pm

    so what are you saying? That their narrative is being destroyed, but it doesn’t matter anyway what people think because it’s business as usual?

  2. theflithyviewer permalink
    June 2, 2010 5:03 pm

    Both Sysh.

    The Israeli narrative is being destroyed, but not on a “power-political” level. It is being deconstructed, eroded, and challenged (actively and physically) by “global private citizens”. On a political level, the level of nations and states, it is business as usual.

  3. Boss permalink
    June 4, 2010 10:53 am

    You start off strong, and you sustain a decent argument all the way through. What you need to do is rein it in a little when you go on your anti-Israel attacks, and keep them focused on the point. And when we talk about narratives, what exactly do we mean? I would have liked a little more specificity.

    And the comment at the end regarding your comment that with other Middle Eastern states it is “business as usual” was a very sharp critique. It’s not clear why you threw that in, even after you made your clarification. If it is business as usual as you say, then doesn’t that imply that there is something else, perhaps more important, than the appeal of the narrative? So then what does this losing of control over the narrative actual translate into in concrete terms? Not very much, it seems. And it’s not certain that it means much even in the world of non-state actors.

    Also, states don’t commit acts of “piracy”. I believe that’s a realm reserved specifically for outlaws, of the non-state (Disney or Somali) variety. When a state sponsors it, I think it’s technically called “privateering”. But who the hell cares, really…

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