Monday, May 31, 2010

"Pirates of the Mediterranean" alert: One more ship is still sailing to Gaza

Question: "When Israel's navy forcibly boarded an international fleet carrying humanitarian goods to Gaza last week, was this a justifiable military action or was it simply a case of hijacking on the high seas?"

Answer: "I don't know. I'm not Captain Jack Sparrow. If you want to know about the finer points of piracy, you had better ask him. But to a mere land-lubber such as myself, it does seem to be a bit dicey that Israeli commandos attacked a humanitarian fleet in international waters, killing ten people and injuring a lot more in the process."

Perhaps the answer to this question lies in the fact that the boarding attempt took place in international waters? Israel's violent invasion of a ship sailing in international waters seems an awful lot like piracy to me. One would think that Israel's navy could have at least waited until the fleet entered the territorial waters of Israel or until the fleet posed some sort of threat to Israel itself. Israel's premature action has pretty much led the rest of the world to begin to think in terms of hijacking and piracy -- and that's just not cool.

Let's leave hijacking to Somalia, okay?

However. We may soon have an instant replay of this whole event -- wherein Israel may be getting a second chance to show that it is or is not still acting like Bluebeard or flying the Jolly Roger. An Irish cargo ship, the "Rachel Corrie," is still steaming full speed ahead toward Gaza and it also contains humanitarian aid in its hold. So. What will the Israeli government do this time? Will it negotiate with the Rachel Corrie? Will it let the good ship Rachel Corrie go through? Or will it repeat last week's disaster?

We'll soon see.

But whatever happens during this instant-replay drama on the high seas coming up and whatever the government of Israel decides to do to the "Rachel Corrie," all of this "Pirates of the Mediterranean" behavior on behalf of the Israeli government is still rather short-term stuff -- and perhaps it's time for the Israeli government to look at what is happening over the long run as well.

Perhaps it is time for the Israeli government to look at the big picture here, back off on its ill-conceived siege of Gaza and get OVER the fact that Hamas actually did win the 2007 Gaza elections fair and square. Perhaps it's time for the Israeli government to forget about "Talk like a Pirate Day," stop pretending that a country approximately the size of New Jersey has the same power, resources, invincibility and chutzpah as Russia or China or America -- and to stop alienating all of its neighbors and more than a few of its friends.

At some point in time, Israel's government may need to finally realize that it is NOT Johhny Depp or even Erroll Flynn, and does not have the wherewithal to indefinitely keep up all this swagger and booty-hunting -- without pissing a whole bunch of people (and nations) off.