9 June 2010
In the days post the murders of the Free Gaza activists the Israeli PR machine went into overdrive using there usual MO – we are the victims and are entitled to defend ourselves. What they quickly found out was that the majority of the international community, putting aside the US and its almost manic neurosis when it comes to criticising Israel, wasn’t buying what they were offering for sale. It really is a bit of a long bow to draw to claim that crack commandos who are trying to take control of civilian ships in international waters can claim self defence when those civilians try to stop them. But Israel is persistent if nothing else and this effort will continue.
But what we’ll see soon is a new factor come into play in this PR war. Israel has been forced to hold an inquiry into the flotilla murders as a means of appeasing its critics but the last thing it wants is for this to be an independent body. So how does it prevent this from happening? It goes something like this:
Firstly, set up an inquiry process that is clearly flawed and not acceptable to your critics – if you’re going to have to negotiate then make sure you start at the lowest possible position.
Second, have some of your own people come out in protest to this and make demands that the inquiry needs to be beefed up. Of course the demands will not include an independent inquiry but one still controlled by the Israelis from start to finish.
Third, to give these people some credibility have some ‘official’ come out and label them as traitors or the like and that under no circumstances will Israel be blackmailed. This debate could go back and forth for some time and in fact the longer the better.
Fourth, have your aligned people in the west put pressure on western governments to support the Israelis who are calling for a beefed up inquiry – quietly they will tell them that if any international action is abandoned then Israel will negotiate on the powers of its internal inquiry.
Fifth, keep reminding people that the Gazans are ‘terrorists’ and the people who were coming to their aid were supporting terrorism and so any inquiry is something that is over and above what any average law abiding state would do but that as Israel is the bastion of democracy in the Middle-East (the countries of which are all terrorists anyway) then it is prepared to submit itself to scrutiny that in reality is not justified.
Sixth, after you have dragged this process out for as long as possible, and knowing that the attention span of the average westerner on middle-eastern matters is quite low to begin with, finally agree to a version of what was being asked for by your internal ‘critics’.
What you will then end up with is an inquiry into a state sanctioned act of murder that is completely under your control and will not provide any outcome different to what serves your purposes.
Am I being cynical? I don’ think so. Let’s watch what happens and see how accurate my assessment is.
The reality is that anything less than a fully independent internationally controlled investigation into Israel’s actions is not going to be anything other than a smoke and mirrors job. But when it comes to Israel’s flagrant disregard for the sanctity of life and the requirements of international law history tells us not to expect anything else.