‘Freedom Flotilla 2’ Publicity Stunt, Update 3: abusing the concept of ‘non-violence’

It is by now a well-established fact that the ‘Freedom Flotilla 2’ is not about delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza. Both the American and Irish delegations have already publicly admitted that they will not be transporting anything of practical use and some of the additional craft appear to be too small to carry anything of significance. Egypt and Israel have reached an understanding whereby boats can dock at El Arish and have cargo transported to Gaza after it has undergone security checks. The open Israeli offer of a similar arrangement via Ashdod port still stands.

There is therefore no need for a conflict between the flotilla’s passengers and the Israeli navy to arise. However, it almost inevitably will – and that is because the real aim of the flotilla has nothing to do with humanitarian aid and everything to do with creating a widely broadcast publicity stunt with the aim of establishing in global opinion one dominant impression: that Israel, its armed forces and its people are cruel, violent and oppressive.

The laying of foundations for the spreading of that impression has already begun. In Athens, Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin – a woman who had no problem being hosted by the Iranian regime and thinks that Cuba is a “paradise on earth” –  is busy blogging away about the non-violence and media training the flotilla participants are undergoing there.

“We started the day with a media training where we broke into groups and practiced answering some of the hardest media questions.”

“Then we broke into smaller groups according to what we might want to do on the boat—be on the upper or lower deck, try to protect the computers or the engine room, etc. I helped to form a group that wanted to be on the upper deck, linking arms and singing. We were just getting into our different groups, deciding if we wanted to be sitting or standing (some said if the Israelis brought attack dogs it was better to stand), when all of a sudden soldiers started rushing in to attack us. We quickly discovered that they were part of our own group dressed like commandos, but they scared the bejesus out of us. Their faces were covered in black masks and they were wearing the boxing paraphernalia that made then look twice their size. They were swearing and pushing and pointing fake guns at us, telling us to shut the fuck up, pulling us apart and tying our hands behind our backs. It was all so quick and so violent and so scary that we all of a sudden realized just how dangerous this mission was. “

“Then we went back to our training sessions, focusing on how we would respond to an Israeli attack on our boat. We talked about safety of the passengers (i.e. complying immediately with the military’s demands) vs. “buying time” to be able to get our story out. Last year, the Israelis confiscated all electronic equipment, so we discussed how we might transmit up to the last-minute, save the video chips, etc.

Later in the afternoon we had a long discussion about the weapons the Israelis might use and how we might protect ourselves. It was so incongruous to see this group of mainstream-looking Americans, many of them professionals such as lawyers, health care workers, teachers, etc. talking about how to best protect ourselves from tasers, tear gas, pepper spray, water cannons (with the foulest-smelling chemical-laden or sewage water called Skunk), attack dogs, snipers and more.”

Several things are happening here: one is the deliberate creation of an atmosphere of fear among the foot-soldier participants. Another is the establishment in their minds – and those of the general public reading their blogs and press releases – that they are already potential ‘victims’ of Israeli violence and cruelty. This in turn sets them up as ‘brave’ and ‘heroic’ and establishes a train of thought by which anything they may do in that capacity to ‘resist’ is automatically justified. All of the above, rather than contributing to a peaceful outcome to the mission, make violence more likely.

These tactics are not new. They were also employed by the Hamas, ISM and Muslim Brotherhood linked and funded organizers of the flotillas in last year’s episode. They are commonly used on land too at venues such as the weekly demonstrations at Bil’in and in neighborhoods of Jerusalem.  The participants, and general public opinion the world over, are persuaded that whatever they do – including throwing stones and fire bombs or, as in the case of the ‘Mavi Marmara’ last year, beating Israelis with iron bars, shooting them or stabbing them with serrated knives – their actions are ‘non-violent’ and they themselves are ‘victims’. 

Many members of the world media are also complicit in propagating the myth that anti-Israel activists are – by definition – ‘non-violent’. One year on, and despite all the ample clear evidence to the contrary, one still sees the events aboard the Turkish ship described in terms of ‘non-violent resistance’, just as the violent weekly riots at Bil’in are fabled as being carried out by ‘unarmed protesters’. 

There is probably little coincidence in the fact that one of the ‘journavists’ sailing aboard the American flotilla boat is Joseph Dana who, until recently, acted as media coordinator for the ‘Popular Struggle Co-ordination Committee’ –  the organizers of many or most of the regular riots and violent demonstrations in Israel and the disputed territories and promoters of the ‘third Intifada’.  Dana is an old hand at disguising anti-Israel propaganda as ‘journalism’. His Twitter feed since he arrived in Athens shows how he too is engaging in preparing the scene for an unnecessary confrontation at sea. Note the visuals!

(Click on images to see original Tweet)

So, wouldn’t the logical step for a ‘scared’ Dana and his apparently equally afraid co-voyagers be to abandon this escapade, particularly in light of the warnings many of them have received from their own governments (including France, Canada, Australia and the United States) not to take part in deliberate provocation?

Of course not! Because for all their much publicized faux fears, the participants in this voyage are actually spoiling for a fight. There is, in fact, no point at all to their trip without that being its end result and we can be sure that Dana and his colleagues will have cameras at the ready to record any and every perceived abuse by Israeli soldiers in a situation which the flotilla organizers have deliberately engineered.

According to a recent report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre we can expect to see the following types of actions initiated by the flotilla participants.

1)  Barricading themselves in the various wheelhouses and engine rooms (considered strategic locations) to make it difficult for the IDF to take over the ship.

2) Resisting removal through “going limp.”

3) Bringing VIPs onto the upper deck to serve as human shields.

4)  Throwing objects at Israeli Navy boats as they approach the ships, or at IDF soldiers.

5)  Physical confrontation with IDF soldiers aboard the ships, using cold weapons (there were firearms aboard the Mavi Marmara, although the flotilla organizers deny it).

6) Spreading barbed wire and other obstacles on the decks to make it difficult for IDF soldiers to board the ships.

7) Verbal abuse directed at IDF soldiers and the State of Israel.

8)  Causing difficulties for Israel after operatives have been detained (noncooperation, refusing deportation, using legal tools and the media).

It is clear that, as was the case with the previous flotilla, some of the tactics prepared in advance by the participants in this one are far from ‘non-violent’ or ‘passive’.  It is also obvious that many of those intending to sail are yet again being willingly manipulated by political activists – some with connections to terrorist organizations – acting as ‘agents provocateurs’ with the aim of causing maximum publicity damage to Israel as part of their ongoing campaign against its legitimacy.  The presence of equally politically motivated ‘journalists’ is designed to guarantee that the outcome will be both ugly and photographable.

Will the mainstream media once more lend its cooperation to the increasingly transparent publicity campaign against Israel by portraying belligerent political activists as ‘non-violent human rights campaigners’?  Will a totally avoidable and deliberately provoked confrontation once more be hyped up as an example of Israeli cruelty and ‘disproportionate response’?

In all likelihood, yes – because the mainstream media appears to divide itself broadly into one of two categories: those who have yet to learn that they too are being manipulated and those who, like some of the middle-aged, grey-haired Westerners currently undergoing ‘non-violence’ training in Athens, are happy to be manipulated.

Of course if the flotilla were denied the oxygen of publicity supplied to it by the mainstream media it would lose its raison d’etre and most likely fade into obscurity. Confrontation and possible physical harm on both sides would then be avoided. That’s a responsibility the members of the real media need to think about – and quick – because in this case they are not just reporting on incidents of violence, they are – as all too often happens in this region – encouraging and participating in their creation.

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