Sunday, June 20, 2010

Close The Gates

Barak Obama in his wisdom opened the door to Israel bashing big time.

He did this with the best of intentions, in my humble opinion (well, maybe not so humble).By cosing up to the Arab countries Obama is trying to make it easier to forge a coalition that allows him to neutralize Iran, and perhaps gain a stronger purchase controlling events in the middle east.

However, in order to show he was 'even handed' he had to act the part. This meant smashing and slashing at Israel. Take for example his insulting treatment of Israel's PM Netanyahu a few months ago. This cold-shoulder was not lost on Israel's critics and enemies.

The flotilla is only an offshoot of that policy. Last year the Prime Minister of Turkey insulted Israel's President Shimon Peres in Davos, causing Peres to leave the stage. The bickering between Turkey and Israel are another result of the new US international position. Turkey has its own ax to grind, insulted at being excluded from the EU (Back in the day as a reporter for Israel Radio, any mention of Turkey warranted an angry response from their TA embassy).

Turkey is looking to spread its wings in the region, become an influence peddler, put Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan in the same league as Turkey's famous leader Ataturk.

Erdogan tried to become a mediator between Israel and Syria, but was rebuffed harshly by Israel. This created more Turkish anti-Israeli feeling. It is not coincidence that the flotilla left from Turkey nor that radical Turkish Islamists boarded the boat, some say, with the surreptitious assent of Turkey's intelligence services.

Combine Turkish and US attitudes towards Israel and you get flotillas, pressure to lift the embargo, the world turning a blind eye to Hamas rockets, the fact Hamas is on the terrorist list of most countries, and that Iran backs Hamas.

Netanyahu, by lifting some of the restrictions on the embargo, may deflate the pressure to mount more flotillas.

According to the Israeli media the embargo on sweets and pasta were items imposed while Olmert was Prime Minister and sort of rolled over into the Netanyahu administration.

According to military sources the embargo is necessary to keep out long range missiles and other weapons that can only get to Hamas either by sea or air. Since the airports are closed, that leaves the sea, and so far Hamas has not succeeded in getting weapons through that method because of the embargo. Will lifting of some of the restrictions make smuggling weapons easier? We'll see. Remember that in the old Palmach/Haganah British Mandate days Israelis were proud of how they smuggled weapons into pre-state Israel. Just recall scenes from Otto Preminger's "Exodus" when crates of tractor parts were unloaded to reveal machine guns and rifles.

Partially lifting the embargo has taken some of the steam out of the Hamas strategy of breaking the total embargo. The world's press has picked it up. Headlines appeared on Sky news, BBC and CNN, as well as on the internet.

But Hamas is a wily enemy. They haven't given up their fight, but will keep on. Time will tell what their next
move will be.

Should Obama take a harder line towards Hamas and the militant Arab states, and issue firmer criticism of Israel's enemies, the flood gates opened by his Cairo speech praising Islam and the Arab states might begin to close, bringing the onslaught from all sides to an end. If not, as many are fond of saying, we may be in 1938 all over again.