Thursday, July 7, 2011
How to turn the Freedom Flotilla 2 debacle into an opportunity
What can we make of the FF2 debacle?
First, let's say this openly: the FF2 was a comprehensive defeat for civilized mankind and a major tactical victory for the "Jewish state of Israel". Yes, the FF2 did bring some additional attention to the Gaza blockade and the plight of the Palestinian people, but that is a very modest achievement at best. I would argue that the benefits of drawing the media attention back to Gaza are far offset by the costs of allowing the Israelis to claim "we are invincible, we can even outsource our repressive policies to any government we want". Like the Borg in the Star Trek series, the Israelis always want to convince us that "resistance is futile". I can just imagine how depressing and demotivating such an outcome must be not only for the people of Gaza, but also to all the Free Palestine activists worldwide: frankly, the FF2 was, in essence, stillborn.
I have to say that I do not feel that the blame for this outcome should put upon the organizers of the FF2. Before the Papandreou regime, Greece used to be generally pro-Palestinian and I don't believe that anybody could have predicted the abject degree of subservient collaboration the Papandreou regime would engage in. Yes, there were signs of a "rapprochement" between Greece and the Israel, but that this would include a wholesale violation Greek and international law including preventing all the ships of the FF2 from *leaving* Greek waters was, I think, quite imaginable to predict, even for the most cynical among us.
What happened in Greece is a "perfect storm": a mob of international "banksters" mugging Greece, a Greek government comprehensively sold out to these international mobsters, Israel courting Greece to try to offset its crashing relationship with Turkey, and an always present Uncle Sam using all his might to blindly support any Israeli interests. As for the Greek general public, it would be fair to say that it had bigger fish to fry.
Still, the decision of the the US organizers of the Audacity of Hope to basically throw in the towel and leave is premature. In fact, I would argue that the FF2 can use the Greek government's actions to basically maintain a constant pro-Gaza campaign in Greece, in far more comfortable, not to mention safer, conditions than on the high seas.
Since the Papandreou regime is in violation of God only knows how many legal norms, sooner or later the FF2 would have prevailed. Yes, this might be a long-time effort and yes, it might be costly, but I am quite confident that both money and volunteers could easily be found.
Furthermore, pounding Israel's image via its shabbos-goy Papandreou and getting a pound of his flesh in the courts, the media and the public opinion could be a wonderful context for the preparation of the next, third, freedom flotilla, if only because of the legal precedence which will inevitably be set. This might well be one of the few situation were repeating the same thing over and over again expecting different results is not a sign insanity, but a very rational choice.
Now let's also look forward at what could be done next in preparation for a Freedom Flotilla 3. Here are some ideas which came to me:
First, letters could be sent out to all major politicians in Greece, Turkey, Syria (both sides), Lebanon (both sides), Egypt, Libya (both sides), and Cyprus (both sides) asking them to take a stance for the record on the legality of leaving the territorial waters of their country to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza.Politicians answering 'yes' would be on the record, those answering 'no' - or refusing to answer - could then be denounced as 'Israeli puppets/agents' - something rather damaging to any politician in these countries. Such a write-in campaign would be simple, cheap, very effective and, frankly, great fun to do: basically, this would rattle the cages of the entire political class of the region.
Second, alternative routes need to be carefully considered. This is a tough one. Turkey seems to have gotten cold feet at the idea of a 2nd, nevermind 3rd, Freedom Flotilla. Egypt is in a situation too similar to the one of Greece: in deep chaos (albeit for different reasons), and very susceptible to the pressure from Uncle Sam. Libya is even in worse shape, with a Qaddafi regime fighting for survival and an opposition totally controlled by the CIA/MI6/DGSE agents. So it appears that there are not good options, but is that really so? Let's take another look at the "Egyptian option": it would be easy to find *many* people in Egypt willing to help. Furthermore, since there are major elections scheduled in the near future, candidates running for office will be extremely careful about their stance on Palestine. And there is no March 14 movement in Egypt, no AIPAC, at least not overtly. Even more than in any other country, a write-in campaign asking politicians to state their position on the record could be use to unmask and embarrass pro-Israeli politicians. Is that not a "win-win" situation in political terms?
Third, the choice of Egypt will also complicate the job for the Israeli naval thugs who will try to intercept the next flotilla. First, Egyptian and Gaza territorial waters are adjacent to each other making it hard to monitor them and easy to organize false alarms (which always wear down the defending side). Furthermore, should the Israelis show their usual contempt for international law and decide to enter into the Egyptian territorial waters this would result in yet another diplomatic nightmare for pro-Israeli politicians and yet another wonderful opportunity to denounce the Zionists.
Fourth, the logistical capabilities needed to bring people from Egypt to Gaza are far smaller than from Greece to Gaza. Bottom line - a lot of money could be saved by choosing the Egyptian option.
None of the above is anything close resembling an actual plan. It is nothing more than a suggestion that I submit for discussion. I have always believed that a tactical defeat creates new opportunities to make a virtue out of necessity and that a fresh look into previously unconsidered options can be most productive.
I sure hope that the Free Palestine movement will rebound from its latest setback.