Even Harriet Sherwood could not find much to say about the non-event which was the apprehension of the one remaining ‘Freedom Flotilla 2’ boat this afternoon off Israel’s coast. The fifteen foot ‘Dignite al Karama’, sailing under the French flag and having set sail originally from Corsica, departed Crete on Saturday with only three journalists, ten activists and a crew of four aboard. It was, of course, not even pretending to carry any aid.
Among the passengers were Dror Feiler of ‘European Jews for a Just Peace’ and the Swedish Boat to Gaza campaign, fellow passenger also on the 2010 flotilla Vangelis Pissias, no fewer than two spokesmen for the ‘French Ship to Gaza’ campaign, a couple of French politicians – one communist, one Green – and Omeyya (Oumaya) Seddik of the Tunisian FTCR.
The captain of the yacht had reportedly declared to the Greek authorities prior to departure that his destination was an Egyptian port of, but predictably, upon being challenged by the Israeli navy, his destination suddenly changed to Gaza.
Apparently, it is an offence under Greek law for a vessel to proceed to a port different to the one for which it has received authorization to sail and on that basis the Israeli NGO ‘Shurat HaDin’ has already registered a complaint with the Greek coastguard.
As the Israeli navy boarded the boat, the Twittersphere was of course humming with weird and wonderful interpretations of ‘international law’ and ‘piracy’. Notably, ‘journavist’ Joseph Dana – whose intentions to sail aboard the American boat had come to nothing – was whipping up fervor among his followers early on in the day with one of his signature snide insinuations.
ibnezra Joseph Dana
Communications with the boat are cut, the army has a window of time to do what it pleases against the unarmed civilians on board #flotilla
Another notable Tweet came from an organization calling itself ‘UK Friends of Palestine and (moderate) IsraeI’ :
UKFPI AdamFlude &Friends
Given the use of a drawing by Carlos Latuff and other offensive antisemitic imagery on that website, it is significant that the poster being advertised in the Tweet urges its readers to join the Palestine Solidarity Campaign or Jews for Justice for Palestinians – no strangers to maritime escapades of their own. Equally interesting (and by now, unsurprising) is the fact that the sender of the UKFPI Tweet, Adam Flude, would appear to have connections to Amnesty International.
As the Dignite al Karama was directed to Ashdod port, having come peacefully under Israeli control without the slightest resistance by the activists, calls were issued by flotilla organizers and sympathizers for supporters to hit the streets with demonstrations throughout Europe and North America.
Adding to the surrealism of the desperate attempts by flotilla organizers and supporters to milk some kind of media exposure from the whole non-event of the flotilla flop, Hamas issued a statement condemning the seizure of the boat and calling the action “piracy, a war crime and a violation of the principles of human rights”. Not to be outdone, the Arab League took time off from doing nothing about the killing of Syrian, Yemeni and Bahraini citizens to issue its own condemnation of what it termed “an act of piracy” and to demand action from the international community and the UN Security Council.
Whether or not today’s events mark the end of this year’s flotilla season remains to be seen, but certainly we can already come to the conclusion that much has been learned and internalized on the Israeli side since the 2010 flotilla. The diplomatic efforts, the legal actions by ‘Shurat HaDin’ and others, the intensive training on the part of the IDF and its vastly increased efficiency in getting information out almost in real-time have all contributed to make this summer’s flotilla provocation a resounding failure.
When even the Guardian barely gives the flotilla the time of day, something is working well.
- ‘Freedom Flotilla 2′ – Staying Pointless. (cifwatch.com)