"Even before a single vessel could sail out towards the port of Gaza, the flotilla had already driven the Netanyahu government into confusion, disorientation and virtual panic," said former Knesset Member Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom. "The one who does not learn from history is condemned to repeat it. In this case, the Government of Israel is unable to learn even from our own history. In 1946 and 1947 the British government decided to turn the might of the British Royal Navy to the task of chasing and catching unarmed boats on the Mediterranean waters, the most famous of which was the "Exodus". There can be no doubt that in so acting the British government aroused worldwide sympathy for the struggle of the Zionist movement and advanced the eventual creation of Israel.
Nowadays, the government of Israel insists on repeating exactly the same mistake, sending Israel's own navy to attack a flotilla of small unarmed boats and treat them as if they were a terrible threat to state security. Israeli diplomats are running around the world, from one capital to another, to fight the flotilla, secret agents are sent to conduct sabotage, and unfounded rumors of horror become the basis of a propaganda and intimidation campaign. Almost without realizing it, a split was created among the Jews of the world: community leaders joining the campaign against the flotilla on instructions from the government of Israel, while many participants in the flotilla are Jewish peace activists from the America, Europe and Australia.
Despite the clumsy threats made against foreign journalists, there is no doubt that the attack on the flotilla would get extensive coverage in the world media. Even if – as can be hoped for - bloodshed is this time prevented, there can be no doubt that Israel's image as a brutal Goliath will be increased, as will the support for the Palestinians' demand to be a free people in their own country.
In the past year, the situation in Gaza to some extent improved – mainly thanks to the revolution in Egypt, which is no longer a full partner to the Israeli siege, and due to the flow of goods passing the border tunnels which the State of Israel tried many times to destroy. Even so, most Gazans still live in terrible poverty, subsisting on meager welfare benefits, and Gaza's economy is still paralyzed in the absence of the ability to import and export freely according to Gazan economic needs. The right of Palestinians to invite ships from around the world to reach the port of Gaza is every bit as valid as Israel's right to invite ships to the ports of Ashdod and Haifa.
It is still not too late to change course, cancel the order to attack the flotilla with an iron fist, and set the Navy ships to escort the flotilla as an honor guard to the port of Gaza – so as to present the face of another Israel to the Palestinians and the world."
Contact: Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson 054-2340749