You have to give it to the Palestinians — their publicity-military stunts are in a class of their own. The Gaza flotilla in the news today is an outstanding example of the cunning and imaginative aggression that Palestinian activists have been perfecting for years now.
The opening move has invariably been to discover what is in their capacity to harm Israel. If Israel decides simply to absorb losses, then the Palestinians have a satisfying sense of being one up. Suicide bombers are an excellent example. They killed lots of Israelis and further militarized the Palestinians, and all that happened was that the Israelis cut their losses by building a fence. And this gave rise to the next move, turning what was their initial aggression into propaganda that Israel has put up another Berlin Wall, had stolen land, was an apartheid state, and the rest of it. In short, it was a win for the Palestinians either way.
Firing thousands of rockets against Israel, Hamas was similarly on a two-way bet. For a long time Israel did nothing, which allowed Hamas to boast that it was the “resistance.” When Israel finally retaliated, Hamas depicted the damage they brought on themselves as a war crime, neatly and rewardingly reversing the roles of aggressor and victim.
The Gaza flotilla was another certain winner of the same kind. Either Israel let it through, in which case Hamas had scored a coup. In the tried and tested Palestinian style, the flotilla’s organizers made sure to have on board children, elderly people, and Europeans, whose possible injury would certainly make the Israelis look bad. They couldn’t have cared less about that. They anticipated correctly that Israel was certain to inspect the ships for possible smuggling of armaments and ferrying in gunmen, that casualties were likely, and that the world would condemn Israel for defending itself. Easy, once you have the template for it.
Turkish sponsorship of this stunt is the one thing that matters. Whipping up anti-Israeli hysterics, the Turkish prime minister and his government openly declare that Turkey now opts for a Muslim and not a secular or Western identity. The consequences of losing Turkey are going to cause a lot of grief to a lot of people.