In the heady days after the Six Day War, when the IDF vanquished numerically superior forces on three fronts, retired US Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall wrote Swift Sword: The Historical Record of Israel's Victory, June 1967. Now, the title might have to be Spin Swiftly: Israel Inflicts Own Goal In Showdown With Aid Flotilla.
All the spin in the world isn't helping this time. The Israeli MFA deployed its multilingual team of spokespeople, native speakers of English, French, Arabic, and the infinite diversity of languages brought back from the diaspora by the Aliyah. To little avail. When the IDF commandos wind up alienating 81 year old diplomats like retired US Ambassador Edward Peck, they probably have lost already. What are they going to do, sink the next ship with Nobel Peace Prize winners aboard?
Israel may have the best spinners, but if the message is in contradiction to your very foundation - "Let my people go" - then audiences will quickly figure it out. Yes, it would be nice if the Palestinians could deploy their own diaspora, who probably have as wide a linguistic background as the Israelis. For now, they choose people whose imperfect command of English and of PR 101 leaves them at a distinct disadvantage. The other problem: Israeli spokespersons represent a country, and Palestine does not yet have that status.
Which brings us to the heart of the problem. As Israeli writer Amos Oz says today ("Israeli Force, Adrift On the Sea") in the New York Times
the only way for Israel to edge out Hamas would be to quickly reach an agreement with the Palestinians on the establishment of an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as defined by the 1967 borders, with its capital in East Jerusalem.
Amen. Minus that, flotillas will continue to float - and rockets will resume flying.
(Image: Mother Jones)