By Uli Schmetzer
Venice , May 31, 2010 - The great lesson from the bloody Israeli raid on a flotilla of pacifists heading for Gaza with humanitarian aid is how easy it has become to control public opinion as long as the information is manipulated and comes exclusively from one source – the government and its military.
As we know governments and the military always tell the truth - unlike the others.
No one should be surprised that 24 hours after Israeli commandoes opened fire on a ship taking peace activists and 10,000 tons of relief supplies to Gaza the world has only heard Israeli’s version of how at least 9 pacifists aboard the flotilla’s main vessel were shot dead and dozens more were wounded.
The Israeli recipe was simple:
In concerted efforts Israeli officials classified the ‘pacifists’ (many of them European parliamentarians, intellectuals, scientists and even a holocaust survivor) as ‘terrorists’ armed with sticks and knives or ‘sympathizers’ of well-known terrorist organizations like Al Qaida, Islamic Jihad and, of course, Hamas.
Admitting the raid took place in international waters the Israeli explanation was simple: The Jewish State felt threatened by the approaching flotilla and reserves the right to stop any threat to its security, anywhere in the world, even in international waters.
Next step: Cut all communications to the 700 passengers aboard the flotilla and keep all of them incommunicado and under arrest for at least 48 hours. During that time Israeli spokespersons, ministers and even the Prime Minister, systematically bombard the international media with the excuse that the Israelis soldiers (50 crack commandoes, heavily armed and well-trained) were attacked with knives, sticks and two pistols wrested from the soldiers after they rappelled from helicopters on to the deck of the Mavi Marmara, the largest of the six vessels flying the Turkish flag.
By the time eye witnesses aboard the ship will be released from Israeli custody the Israeli explanation will have entered history as fact and the accounts of those aboard will be dismissed by most members of the public as the ravings of fanatical do-gooders. After all one side is the authority, the other has been classified as ‘misguided sympathizers of terrorism’.
There is no doubt among those like myself who have reported on Israeli raids and actions in the Occupied Territories that the early morning raid and its aftermath were a competently staged show to scare off future international relief operations for Gaza and that the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) and the government executed a well planned and premeditated damage control operation once the evil deed was done.
(In 1988 Israeli agents killed three crewmen then blew up a supply vessel, the Al Awda, moored in Limassol, Cyprus. The vessel intended to head for Gaza with humanitarian aid.)
That narrow strip of land has been kept under an Israeli blockade for the last three years. Gaza was cruelly bombed for days last year to punish Hamas, Gaza’s Islamic fundamentalist government. Hamas followers periodically launch home-made missiles into Israel in retaliation for the assassination of Gaza leaders by drones, helicopters or car-bombs, assassinations Israel defines as ‘targeted killings.’
A country which, with impunity, assassinates its enemies, bombards a virtually defenseless Gaza and Lebanon for days, is charged with crimes against humanity and stages killer raids on Palestinian leaders even in foreign countries is unlikely to be censored with more then words for murdering at least nine peace activists trying to bring help to Gaza by running a blockade already condemned more then once by the United Nations.
Obviously the Free Gaza flotilla and its passengers intended also to focus world attention on the forgotten plight of the Gaza population.
This they achieved with tragic loss of life.
A former foreign correspondent
is the author of “Gaza’