Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The War of Public Opinion

Israel’s attempted diversion of the Flotilla’s was certain to end in tears for Israel, whilst it was a public relations triumph for Hamas. Even though the ships never made it to Gaza, the point of the exercise was to provoke Israel into a military reaction and to discredit her on camera. It was inevitable that the Israelis would stop the “humanitarian” Flotillas heading towards Gaza by sea. The Israelis had offered to transfer the supplies from the Flotilla to Gaza from the port in Ashdod through official channels. However this offer was rejected in favour of a guaranteed confrontation. The outcome has been international condemnation, criticism and further isolation of Israel.

In the first few hours of reporting of this incident, the damage has already been done (Israel is still recovering from the international beating it received from allegations of committing war crimes during the 2009 Gaza offensive). Turkey, traditionally Israel’s strongest Muslim ally, immediately withdrew its ambassador to the country and the UN Security Council has also condemned the raid. More concerning is the impact this raid will have on the renewed proximity talks between Israel and Palestine.

This incident has succeeded in defining the global image of Israel. It has divided Israel and Western governments by shifting public opinion against Israel. Israel’s enemies will argue that Israel prefers bloodshed to reasonable accommodation (allowing the ships to go to Gaza and offload). The concern is that as Western public opinion shifts against Israel, Western political leaders will adopt the same thinking.

Given the size of Israel, it is not large enough to withstand extended international isolation. The implications of this raid have profound geopolitical implications, as mentioned above.

1 comment:

William said...

A powerful and sensitive blog, Joanna, thank you.