Thanks Joan, it was great show
The flotilla incident has been dominating our every media moment for a week and shows no signs of letting up. The crisis whirling around the rooftop's situation room seems to be one of those historic moments in whicvh processes reach a critical mass and something has to give. Who will give, how much and to whom, is no doubt occupying the minds of the brilliant leadership (Netanyahu and Barak) who gave the green light for the botched op. Ban Ki Moon has proposed setting up an international commission of inquiry into the raid headed by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer. Not clear how Bibi-Barak will respond.
Meanwhile bad news keeps coming thick and fast. A quick snapshot as of 13.00 Sunday: ++Turkish PM Erdogan is not only demanding an apology and an intternational inquiry but according to one report is also considering breaking the seige of Gaza at the head of a Turkish navy flotilla! ++On the radio this morning former Mossad head Ephraim Levy was even asked if there was a chance of war with Turkey (he didn't think so). ++"From Frankfurt to Berlin to Dusseldorf - thousands of anti-Israel protesters marched across Germany on Saturday, hoisting Palestinian flags and calling for action against the "massacre" aboard the Mavi Marmara.... "We want justice for our comrades killed!" said Hamit Savas, a kefiyyeh-wearing protester in Berlin. "We insist on an end to the insane blockade of Gaza and freedom for our brother Palestinians....++In Sweden, dockworkers announced yesterday that Israeli ships trying to dock and unload goods would be "ignored" next week... Seven Swedish citizens were detained on board the Gaza-bound flotilla...++Norway announced yesterday it was canceling an upcoming special operations seminar because the Defense Ministry objected to the inclusion of an Israeli army officer in the program....++Paris, London and Dublin saw similar protests. In Dublin, protesters were angry not only about the Marmara, but also about Israel's stopping the Rachel Corrie yesterday, which carried Irish activists. ++In England, in Bournemouth, a coastal resort town with a large Jewish population and a Jewish mayor, there were calls yesterday to cut the city's twinning links with Netanya. ++Israeli Jews should get out of Palestine and go back "home," to Germany and Poland, senior White House Press Corps member Helen Thomas was taped as saying earlier this week, bringing calls for her resignation by Jewish organization B'nai B'rith.
and so it goes and so it will go...
Meanwhile, in Israel, a comment made by former Haaretz editor David Landau that Israel is at a "disconnect" from the rest of the world seemed spot on. Friday's weekend papers were full of patriotic portraits of the heroes of the operation, thousands demonstrated outside the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv, calling Erdogan a terrorist and the Knesset is deliberating whether to revoke the citizenship of an Arab Knesset member who took part in the flotilla. Yes, there was a left wing demonstration last night but according to Gidon Levy (since we didn't go I'll have to take his word for it) : "The left returned to the square last night - well-organized, restrained, polite and statesmanlike... mostly secular Ashkenazis. Real rage, the kind seen in government-toppling, occupation-shattering demonstrations, was simply not seen here last night. Here, among the Jewish left, people come to meet up with friends and feel good about themselves. Have you ever seen a left-wing demonstration in the world whose participants shout that they are "proud of the soldiers?"
Gradually bits of evidence are appearing that put a different light on the circumstances of the operation itself. The picture emerging in Israel is that upon rapelling onto the ship, our brave lads, carrying paintball guns, were surprised to encounter not peace-loving humanitarian workers but 50 bloodthirsty Turkish merecenaries who set about them with kives and iron poles, stole their pistols and held them captive. Some of these Turks had prepared battle plans and codes and wanted to be shahids (not the mercenaries presumably otherwise how could they have spent the money?). With their lives endangered by bloodthirsty "terrorists", they used minimum force killing only 9. Little of this seems to be percolating into the int'l media meanwhile but for most Israelis this confirms what they knew all along: the whole flotilla operation was a put up job engineered by Erdogan and the whole hypocritical world is out to get us again. A group of young right wingers created a take off clip on We Are the World that presses home the point.
Unfortunately, it doesn't matter much any more whether the navy seals from Flotilla 13 were the innocent victims of of a "lynch" by fanatic Turkish Islamic fundamentalists or "storm troopers" despatched by the evil Zionist apartheid regime to massacre peaceful civilians. In the court of public opinion, Israel itself has lost its legitimacy and judgement has been handed down. The seige of Gaza, is viewed as a moral abomination and it has become untenable. The flotilla incident just triggered off a storm of outrage that has been welling up for years. No-one is interested in hearing Israel's side of the flotilla story as long as the Gaza Strip is locked in and the Palestinians still don't have "freedom".
Something's got to give...
And this morning more bad news. 80's alternative rock band the Pixies suddeny cancelled their Tel Aviv show: "The Pixies issued a statement saying that the decision was not taken lightly and that "we'd like to extend our deepest apologies to the fans, but events beyond all our control have conspired against us. We can only hope for better days, in which we will finally present the long awaited visit of the Pixies in Israel."
Luckily for me I'm not a Pixies fan. I am a fan of Elvis Costello who cancelled his show a few weeks ago. I'm not going to judge artists who refuse to appear in Israel (although they could at least refuse before agreeing to play and then cancelling at the last moment). I am going to say thank you to Joan Armatrading who gave us a great show in Tel Aviv last night, reminding us what a great artists she is. Some members of the audience had managed to fit in the left wing demo before the show. Not a political word was uttered. We loved it.
I just have one question. In her publicity photo, why is one eye is covered by her hand?