Without knowing it, Edward Peck, a former US ambassador to Mauritania and one of the so-called activists on those now-legendary Gaza boats, did Israel a favorWednesday while telling his version of events on CNN.
Peck was not aboard the Mavi Marmara, where the outbreak of violence that led to the deaths of nine people occurred. But looking at footage of the mayhem taken by Israel, which clearly shows the boarding Israeli troops being attacked, Peck rationalized the actions of the flotilla crew as “defending their ship.” As for the deck chair that one sailor is clearly shown to be swinging at an Israeli commando, Peck declared “a deck chair is not a weapon.” I suspect he might feel differently on the matter if someone swung one at him, and be less forgiving in his retelling of the incident to the police.
It should be no surprise that people who will rationalize away the violence of the Palestinians of Gaza, which has become the world’s most prolific anti-civilian rocket base, will just as easily explain away the violent reaction of their fellow war activists against a lawful border control operation. Had this been a true peace activist operation, the chair-swingers would have had no problem standing down and letting their ship be inspected stem to stern. As it turned out, the amount of usable relief supplies bound for Gaza, some toys and food, was reported to be scarce and scattered throughout the ships, which proves that the actual relief intent of the demonstration took a distant back seat to the task of publicly poking a finger in Israel’s eye and waiting for it to poke back.
Now that it has, Israel should not let its savaging by Judge Goldstone in the past stand in the way of an international investigation that could boost its side of the story. If it has nothing to hide, there is no harm in a process by objective probers, perhaps led by the U.S., into the circumstances of the raid. Israel would no doubt take some lumps. Even its own military chief, Gabi Askenazi, admits that the men sent on board didn’t have riot control equipment or training.
The world need only look at the 2005 evacuation of Gaza, in which soldiers and police faced thousands of resistors, some of whom attacked them, to see that Israel is capable of carrying out a tense confrontation with civilians without casualties. It will be up to Israel to explain the differences between the two situations. An independent review of the incident can prove Israel’s claim that there was no choice but to use deadly force on that boat, and bolster the idea that Israel holds all civilian life sacred, even if those that hold the country and everything it stands for in disdain.