From the moment Israelis heard about the events on the Turkish-flagged ship that
provocatively tried to break the Gaza Strip naval blockade, saw the video of the
soldiers being clubbed and heard the world condemnations, the responses have
come on two different planes.
The first plane was anger and frustration
at the world for not realizing that this ship was not carrying boyand
girl-scouts to Gaza to dispense baby formula and medicine, but was rather
carrying – along with some genuine, naive peace activists – radical Islamic true
believers and terrorist fellow travelers whose purpose was to throw a lifeline
to Hamas so that the terrorist organization could live to fight us another
The world’s reaction, despite the video clips of the soldiers’
bloodied faces, and the knife and axe wielding ‘peaceniks’ with links to
terrorist organizations, led to an Israeli desire to justify ourselves
world. There was a desire to say we were operating within our legal
say, “Look, we were not responsible for the nine deaths on the ship, it
them. They came looking either to break the blockade and make it easier
Hamas to kill us, or to pick a fight with the soldiers they knew would
The soldiers acted in legitimate self-defense.”
second response upon seeing the videos of the soldiers dropped on to the
rope, and then set upon brutally by those on the deck, was anger at
charge. How could they put the soldiers in that nightmarish and
situation? Why didn’t they know what was on the ship? Where was the
intelligence? What were they thinking? The investigative committee that
government formally set up on Monday is meant to answer the first plane –
justify our actions to the world – not the second one.
will likely show that Israel acted well within its rights as a sovereign
with the right to stop ships from turning Gaza into a repository for
weapons; that the soldiers behaved in a reasonable fashion to defend
and even acted with restraint, considering the frenzied mass on the deck
ship; and that those on the deck who attacked the soldiers did indeed
certified connections to the global jihad network.
In Israel’s ongoing
battle with the world, the objective of this type of investigation is
insignificant, and will serve to show the world that not only was Israel
its rights in the way it responded, but that it also knows full well how
investigate its own actions. David Trimble and Ken Watkin, the Irish and
Canadian observers on the panel, are meant to demonstrate that this is
Israeli whitewash, but rather an independent, transparent, credible and
It is hard to believe that any committee that
does not damn Israel for the episode will be accepted by countries such
Turkey, South Africa or Malaysia.
Those governments, and the publics they
represent, have their minds made up already, and no committee that does
Israel 100 percent culpable would sway their opinion.
But there are
fair-mined, reasonable people out there for whom the findings of this
will have weight, and for whom it is important to know the identity of
the ship, what they were seeking and how they comported themselves when
they were sailing on was boarded by the soldiers of a country whose
waters were about to be violated.
There are those who will argue that
this battle, at least in Europe, is already lost, because even
in those countries are poisoned by a predominantly left-wing media with a
anti-Israeli bias. One can argue that on a case by case basis. But the
as much to convince governments as it is to convince the people, with
that the government messages will have an impact on the masses.
instance, the Terkel Committee can convince governments in places like
France and Germany, then those governments’ messages will also trickle
Governments in a democracy do impact on public opinion; it is not only
opinion that sways governments.
But what this committee won’t deal with
is the second plane – where did we mess up.
And an answer to that
question is also badly needed – not because of a desire to please the
because of a need to find someone to blame, or a communal instinct for
flagellation, but rather so the lessons are truly learned.
look at it, since the beginning of the year Israel has spent an
amount of time and energy cleaning up after its own messes: be it the
episode with the Turkish ambassador, the fallout from the Mahmoud al-
hit in Dubai, the dust-up with US Vice President Joe Biden over the
announcement of building in Ramat Shlomo, or the flotilla episode.
you look at it, something isn’t working; the various government
are not functioning as well as they should, the judgment is not what it
be. This doesn’t mean that after every mistake an inquiry committee
needs to be
set up – but an internal mechanism needs to be found to establish where
went wrong, and correct the problem.
The IDF will investigate what
happened on the Mavi Marmara, and will probably learn the operative
But the problem is not only an operational one. It also has to
do with how decisions are made, who is making them and what information
is not known.
Both the Mabhouh incident and the flotilla raid reveal a
country that is dangerously underestimating its enemy.
Did no one think
that the Dubai hotel would be covered with surveillance cameras? Did no
realize that there would be some really bad people on the flotilla?
making is not a science – sometimes the right choices are made, and
they are not. But when you have a string of incidents that seem to be
self-inflicted goals, it is incumbent on the country – especially a
this faced with so many challenges – to find a way to figure out what is
and then fix it.
Those questions will not be addressed by the Terkel
Committee; that is not its mandate.