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The National: Israel’s Silicon Army

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As it retreats into greater indifference toward global opinion, Israel has come to rely on cynical appeals to American technophiles and evangelical Christians. Spencer Ackerman on Netanyahu’s last allies.

Before the ships dubbed the Gaza Freedom Flotilla had their fateful encounter with the Israel Defence Forces early Monday morning, the main Israeli criticism of the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, which sponsored the convoy, was that they were so unwilling to acknowledge Israeli suffering that they refused to deliver a package to the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. But hours after a murky nighttime operation in which Israeli commandos boarded a ship filled with humanitarian aid in international waters, killing at least 10 civilians and suffering wounds themselves, the boats had become “an armada of hate and violence” with “ties to Global Jihad, al Qa’eda and Hamas”, in the words of Israel’s deputy foreign minister.

If you were unaware that the activists on the humanitarian-aid flotilla were allied with al Qa’eda, you must not be on the press list of the American Israel Public Affairs Council (Aipac). “Interesting,” read the subject line of an e-mail from spokesman Josh Block,  who thought journalists should know: “Flotilla org tied to 2000 Al Qaeda Attack on LAX, weapons smuggling.”

Aipac’s desperate response to the raid indicated the depth of the disaster for Israel. As of this writing – early evening on Monday, May 31 – practically nothing is clear about the details of the IDF’s operation, and much of what has been reported will probably be revised as new facts accumulate. But the broad context is that Israeli soldiers engaged in an operation to stop a ship full of civilians carrying medical aid and construction equipment from breaking an Israeli-imposed blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. It was not the first time that Israeli actions have redounded to the benefit of Hamas: the flotilla attack was merely the latest instantiation of a pattern dating back to the imposition of the blockade after Hamas’s 2007 takeover of Gaza and the disastrous three-week war that began in December 2008. Despite that pattern, and given that the point of the flotilla itself was to provoke international outrage over the Gaza blockade, it’s worth asking why the Israeli government chose to take the bait.

More than a few Israeli commentators blasted the Netanyahu government for this public-relations catastrophe, but the line from Israel’s Foreign Ministry remained resolute: in an official statement it condemned the flotilla as a “violent provocation” and said its occupants “bear sole responsibility for the unfortunate consequences.”

If that’s the message coming from Israel, it’s worth asking who the audience is supposed to be. Under the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, a small and nasty leader buoyed by a right more powerful and opposed by a left more weak than at perhaps any earlier time in Israel’s history, foreign policy reflects and magnifies a yearning within Israel to enjoy the international benefits of peace without having to make any, except that which it imposes. But most of the world is reluctant to grant Israel the impunity that Netanyahu expects – with one very big and recently-emerging exception.

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Source: The National

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Ameera is a final-year medical student and blogger based in Karachi, Pakistan. Having been born and raised in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, her approach towards her Deen has always been rooted in a basic understanding from authentic sources, which was further polished during a three-year weekend course at Al Huda Institute. Her interests, though, seem to know no bounds and range from a passion for the culinary arts and travelling, as well as following current affairs and global happenings. She feels being able to be part of MuslimMatters is one of the major blessings of Allah(swt) upon her, for it has given her a chance to learn and grow. She also maintains her personal blog at http://duskanddawn.wordpress.com.

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