Sunday, July 03, 2011

The floundering flotilla

The flotilla II that threatened to be a major incident and an embarrassment to Israel is floundering. The flotilla has gathering in Greece, but it is far smaller and less threatening than originally anticipated. Not only have the number of boats and participants been reduced, by defections and accidents, but also many Governments have come out against the flotilla. PM Netanyahu on Friday thanked the many Governments that have warned their citizens not to participate. Most Governments realize that the Israeli blockade is not only legal, but if they allow their citizens to breach it, they will be putting themselves in a problematic situation to claim in future that any blockade they wish to organize or support will be legal. Such legal precendents may be used against them. Those currently against the flotilla include the US, UN, EU and especially the Greek Government.

Even the Turkish Government has tacitly removed its former support for the flotilla. The Irish boat that was going to leave from Turkey has cancelled its participation. The activists claimed that Israel had sabotaged their boat by cutting its propellor shaft. But when the Turkish marimtime authorities lifted the boat out of the water they found and clearly showed that the propellor shaft was bent and had been damaged before the boat reached Turkey. Turkey also nixed the participation of the Mavi Marmara ship which they said was damaged from the previous flotilla and of the IHH Muslim group that played such a leadign role last time. What is the reason for the turn-around of the Turkish Government. This time things are different, PM Erdogan used the first flotilla and the hurt to Turkish pride as a means of gaining popularity in Turkey. But, now that the election is over and he won, he no longer needs to campaign. Also, there is the huge uprising in Syria that has brought 10,000 refugees over the Syrian border into Turkey. How is Turkey going to manage this crisis? Erdogan is sufficiently canny that he knows he shouldn't antagonize the US and Israel when he may need their support as things develop.

The Greek Government has become surprisingly active in thwarting the flotilla. First giving them permission to gather there and now blocking them from sailing. Not only have there been bureaucratic delays in their sailing, but the Greek coast guard actually prevented two of their ships from sailing from the Greek harbor yesterday and they arrested the captain of the US boat for endangering his passengers.. Clearly Greece, facing its own financial crisis also does not want to antagonize the US and Israel. The Greek people currently beset with massive economic problems are not concerned with such a foreign adventure. One major factor is that Israeli tourists now make up the major group of tourists in the eastern Mediterranean, and Greece was the inheritor of the Israeli tourist wave from Turkey, which they can't afford to lose.

Perhaps the major factor in the floundering of the flotilla has been the diplomatic offensive of the Israeli Government that indeed there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, that Israel is supplying Gaza with massive amounts of food and medical supplies, and that the current ca. 10% economic growth in Gaza indicates no need for such a flotilla. Once persuaded that it is not only a deliberate provocation, but also frivolous, the major States have withdrawn their support. Seeing that it is manned by a group of ageing hippies and a contingent of left-wing Jews has not persuaded many that it is a serious proposition. After all some of the boats have no food or supplie at all, and it has been revealed that the organizers are Hamas-dominated Muslim groups in Europe. What a flop this flotillas is becoming!


Post a Comment

<< Home