Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Medea Benjamin's Desperation

As I mentioned earlier, the flotilla fools have put forward their biggest gun yet, Medea Benjamin, to try and spin their latest catastrophe into a win. And she does a good job, at least by flotilla standards. Her main point is that even though they never made it anywhere near Gaza, they still "won" by getting people to pay attention to them even if it was only for a few days. If that sounds like 5 year old logic, it's because it is. Part of her main argument is that the Israeli government actually made it worse by taking action against the flotilla, which would be legitimate criticism, except that she has to lie to make it:
"Senior Israeli defense officials told journalists that flotilla activists were intending to dump bags of sulfer on Israeli soldiers to paralyze them and/or light them on fire "like a torch." We countered by holding an open house on the boat..."
As I said, the sulphur thing was probably a misstep by the Israeli government. But they also said (according to Benjamin's link) that it wasn't necessarily the American boat that would use it. So as usual Ms. Benjamin misses the point. She then takes it a step further by pushing the now debunked "sabotage" lie, then complains about the use of lawfare, "strong arming" the Greek government into taking the flotilla down hard, and so forth. I don't need to repeat it all, you can read it for yourself if you want. Here is her conclusion:
"Through it all, the Israelis helped us turn a potential non-story into a media blitz that has not ended. The passengers are now returning home to the local public spotlight. Rather than being depressed by Israeli maneuvers to prevent the flotilla from reaching its destination, they are more motivated to speak out about the siege of Gaza and bullying tactics of the Israelis."
So yeah, just like we have seen a million times before: People are motivated now, attention has been given to Gaza's plight, we won't give up, Israel is going down soon, blady blah blah. Again take a look if you feel I am misrepresenting Ms. Benjamin's position. In short she says this whole thing helped the Palestinian cause rather than hurt it. Now let me present the other side of the story.

Israel stopped the flotillas using "soft power," which means that they didn't need to actually do anything on the high seas with ships and guns to stop it. This means no one got hurt and nothing was destroyed (at least not by Israel). In my mind, no one dying is a win all around, but I guess Ms. Benjamin doesn't feel the same way. And she can whine and moan about "media frenzies" all she likes, but no allegations of sabotage are anywhere near as damaging as another battle on the high seas. Unfortunately I cannot approach these issues from the point of view of someone who doesn't follow Israel related news closely, but when Matt and I were on break I read the newspaper and only found stories about the "sabotage" and the Greeks buried deep in the world section, not on the front page.Yes, it's true that not everything went exactly as they wanted it to, including some embarrassing PR mistakes that Ms. Benjamin waved like a flag, but in the end what matters is results.  Israel accomplished its objectives and it didn't blow up in their faces. Is this also true for Ms. Benjamin?

We saw something very interesting with both the flotilla and flytilla stoppage. What we saw was the world (the Western world at least) did take a side in this conflict, just as Adam Shapiro always wanted them to. The trouble is that they took sides against the flotilla, pitting the flotilla versus the world, and the flotilla never had a chance. The US, EU, even the UN spoke out against them. Turkey pulled out, and Greece was ultimately the one to stop the boats, with no complaints from anyone. As much as Ms. Benjamin likes to whine and moan, it was the international community that stopped them. How does that feel?

With the "flytilla" it was even more blatant. Israel sent the no-fly list to the airports, and their friends throughout Europe handled it, no problem. Even when the "peaceful activists" started causing trouble, they wouldn't back down. And when the protesters did get there and Israel deported them, again there was no freakouts in the ivory towers around the world. Because the world's attitude toward these activists have changed: to quote UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “[flotillas] carry the potential to escalate into violent conflict.” The world now knows the best way to solve this is by negotiations, not by hippies on boats. And so when the chips are down, Ms. Benjamin finds herself without friends beyond people like herself. Which is not, and has never been the goal of activism.

So in the end you got your picture in the paper, you got your article on the HuffPo, and no one has died. Most people would count that as if not a win, then a result with which to be satisfied. But then again, Israel continues to exist, so maybe Ms. Benjamin won't be satisfied. In that case, tough luck, she'll be unhappy for a long while to come.

1 comment:

  1. The anti-Israel crowd will continue harassing the Jewish State. But they won't bring about a resolution of an intractable conflict.

    No amount of PR stunts will change that reality.


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