Middle Eastern politics is complex and seldom do I wander into those choppy waters. It’s just such a hot hot sticky mess, like always.

However, at times there’s clearly right and clearly wrong. I support Israel but this kind of action is unsupportable. I’ve never been a big fan of Bibi Netanyahu and was dismayed to see his return to the prime minister slot in Israel. His heavy, clumsy hand creating unnecessary conflict was probably inevitable. Just at the start of the Obama Administration, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney was arrested in a similar action in early July 2009. There was media silence about it then which I noted at the time:

Here’s the deets with Cynthia’s phone call from detention above:

Cynthia McKinney calls WBAIX from Israeli prison. She and 20 others where detained after being seized by Israeli Navy while in international waters. They were attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. To watch live updates, interviews, protests go to http://www.livestream.com/wbaix

McKinney, former U.S. Congresswoman and presidential candidate, says that she had a suitcase full of crayons for Palestinian children in Gaza. Apparently these were confiscated too. The media coverage of this incident, if it’s possible to get any news that isn’t about Michael Jackson, will be very interesting indeed. Also, this is a real diplomatic challenge fo sho for the Obama Administration. Hillary Clinton — good luck with that! Wow.

Cut to today: I’d been watching the flotilla nervously over the weekend and was sickened by the attack by Israeli forces. Only criminals like the Sudanese government & Somali pirates do stuff like hijack those bringing humanitarian aid to the sick, homeless and hungry. And what’s shocking was that this approach was not needed — surely the Israeli navy could have just surrounded the ships and escorted them to the port they already had setup for the intake. They could have detained the civilians on board, sent them home and in a good faith gesture, arranged for Israeli distribution in Gaza overland of the humanitarian supplies.

BUT Nooo… why not make a much more violent and dramatic gesture, instead?! And I’m guessing they figured that if they did the attack in international waters, that maybe they could get away with it from the international legal perspective? Idiots — wow that has really backfired. I’ve never thought that Bibi was particularly intelligent.

rikyrah wrote a post on this earlier today. SouthernGirl2 left a really smart comment there that I think summarizes the challenge here. I think President Obama’s job has just gotten much much harder and if he hasn’t had a cigarette yet this morning, he will be itchin’ for one by this afternoon. I mean, I don’t even smoke and this whole thing makes me want a cigarette. Note to White House staff, better send someone to CVS for some extra nicorette — STAT! Tensions are pretty high here and I really hope we can avoid military hostilities in which a lot of soldiers & civilians alike get killed, while neither the Palestinians’ apartheid-like lot nor the safety of Israelis improves one whit.

Here’s SouthernGirl2:

Holy Sweet Lord, Turkey has announced they will send another flotilla to Gaza—escorted by the Turkish Navy!


If they actually do this, it is the very definition of throwing down.


Does Israel want a war with Turkey? They can’t win it, short of using nukes, and Turkey is a NATO member, if Israel attacks NATO ships, Turkey can invoke Article V (in fact, they can invoke it already, since the ships were attacked by a non NATO power on the high seas.) If Turkey does so, of course NATO nations will refuse, but doing so will break NATO.

This is high stakes.

Update: I might add that in the case of a war between Turkey and Israel, if Turkey is serious, unless Israel uses nukes, my money is on the Turks. They have a huge armored corp, and the nations between Israel and Turkey aren’t going to say no if Turkey asks for access (because if they do, Turkey will just roll right through them.) Also if Turkey and Israel goes to war, it’s at least 50/50 the Egypt jumps in as well.

Israel is really playing with fire on this one.

I’m not sure I’d go as far as to place bets on Turkey over Israel — but there’s no question that war between those two would be mighty vicious and not likely to end quickly either. Plus we’re NATO allies — legally we’d have to support Turkey (as far as I understand) which puts us in a tough sitch having to choose one ally over another (non-NATO) one. Or break NATO. Man, I hope the Prez enjoyed Memorial Day Weekend cuz it’s shaping up to be a rough week. I don’t really have any advice for the Prez — if there was ever a time when the world needed the calm reason, moral leadership and strategic diplomacy that comes second nature to Barack Obama — it is right about now. Obama’s been somewhat successful in the past in influencing Netanyahu’s harsh stances on issues like settlements and Palestinian statehood. I hope that he can do so again here. At this point, the best thing for Israel to do is to just stand down, concede an unpopular policy and remove the Gaza blockade immediately.

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