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Wasn’t the Gaza aid flotilla just a stunt?

Posted by Richard D North in Campaigning / Interrogating the Media / Media / Politics / Rights on 14 September 2010

Why we posted this: It’s a commonplace that the pro-Palestinian activists who sailed in a convoy toward Gaza really were on a humanitarian mission.  But it is almost self-evident that they were nothing of the kind.  

The original story:
“Turkey mourns dead Gaza activists”
BBC Online
4 June 2010

Summary of the story:
The BBC reports on  Turkish mourners at the funerals of the “nine activists killed in Israel’s raid on a Gaza aid flotilla”. It then went on to major on the reaction of the Turkish government and the activists. It mentioned that the Israeli’s believed the ships were aiming to break the contoversial Israeli blockade of Gaza.

livingissues comment:
The following comments are intended to be valid whatever the reader thinks about the state of play between the Israeli government and the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip. Equally, they don’t depend on one’s point of view as to Israel’s blockade of Gaza. 

Israel offered to let the ships fulfill their aid mission by unloading most of their material at a port of the government’s choosing. So had the delivery of aid been the flotilla’s primary ambition, it could have been achieved without difficulty. So it is unlikely that this was primarily an “aid” mission.

It seems silly of the Israeli’s to pretend that the ships had a terrorist ambition as some spokesmen claimed. It isn’t even clear how the ships could seriously be thought to be attempting to break the blockade (as though forcibly), as seemed to be the Israeli’s main claim. It’s true of course that the activists wanted to break the blockade in a political sense (in the long term, for instance).

The flotilla might have been allowed through and in that sense might have “broken” the blockade. But isn’t it more likely that the flotilla intended or expected to be stopped and that there would be a lot of filmable outrage as the blockade was enforced and the aid didn’t get through to Gaza? One may say that that the Israeli’s over-reacted to resistance from some of the activists. But that’s what often happens when an armed force under-estimates the opposition and then has to retrieve the situation.  

What seems to be going on here is, in one way, quite commonplace in the world of protest: some naive, strong-headed activists get duped by people with much more sinister motives. Much protest is intended to provoke state violence, just as much terrorist activity is.  

 Also, of course, the level of violence contemplated by the hard-nuts on the Mavi Maramar was quite different to most protests. But this case is complicated by the involvement of the Turkish authorities. This seems almost to have been a government stunt by proxy.

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