Once upon a time, there was a region called the Middle East. It was a very complicated little corner of the world, as the people who lived there were often at odds with one another. Most of the people couldn’t agree on anything – they had different ideas about the past, and they could not manage to find common ground regarding the present or future. Why, they couldn’t even agree about hummus! In fact, one of the only issues that bound so many of the peoples together was their blinding hatred for one little country in their midst. This country was called Israel. While the more pragmatic among them had accepted the fact that Israel was indeed here to stay, there were still many who believed that in time, the little country could be destroyed.
The little country called Israel tried to proclaim to all who would listen that it was interested in peace, but actions usually speak louder than words, and most of the peoples of the region and other parts of the world had trouble believing the message that Israel kept trying to broadcast. It didn’t help, of course, that so many other nations and international bodies were always trying to focus on Israel, virtually ignoring the human rights abuses being committed in so many other places, like China, Iran and Turkey, to name a few. Our little country was far from innocent, but it was certainly no worse than many others.
One of Israel’s biggest problems was that it had a nasty habit of repeatedly choosing options that would result in the worst repercussions possible, and then following up with dreadfully inadequate public relations. It was always stepping right into the traps set by those who did not have the little country’s best interests at heart, and instead of trying to change its policies vis a vis its neighbors, it would simply try to explain again and again why such actions had to be taken. Much to Israel’s dismay, though, the peoples of the world wouldn’t listen. They saw what Israel was doing to the Palestinians; they saw how Israel was treating humanitarian and human rights activists. They saw what the government, the military and the police force were doing in neighborhoods and towns like Sheikh Jarrah and Bil’in. They even saw how Israel refused to allow a professional clown to enter the country. It was no wonder they believed that Israel wasn’t interested in peace, when the government seemingly did its very best to stifle dissent and shut down anyone who disagreed with them.
And so it came to pass that Israel, not having learned from its previous mistakes with Hamas and other factions of the Palestinian leadership, made yet another colossal blunder, setting itself up to fail once again by killing people the world believed to be peace activists trying to bring supplies to the poverty-stricken Palestinians living in Gaza. The government, in all of its usual infinite wisdom, decided to send navy commandos on-board a ship full of people who claimed to be peace activists on a humanitarian mission. The ship was part of a flotilla that had set sail from Turkey, and the flotilla’s organizers hoped to break through a blockade on Gaza being maintained by Israel. Israel claimed the blockade was in place to protect its citizens, and that trucks of humanitarian aid were entering Gaza all the time. They even tried to claim that there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but many Israelis and many of the peoples of the world simply refused to believe what Israel was saying. Everyone knew that building supplies were not being allowed in, and that there was even a list of very strange items that were also banned, including such dangerous items as sage, potato chips, dried fruit and nutmeg.
The events that ensued came as no surprise, as Israel again opted for the plan that would potentially do the most damage. Instead of using its navy to stop the flotilla and keep it from entering its territorial waters, it chose to drop its commandos in the middle of all the action. What happened next was sadly predictable, as the commandos did what they’d been trained to do in such adverse situations. After they came under attack from the people on the ship, they fought back, and they killed and wounded many of their attackers. Once again, Israel had handed a grand public relations victory to its enemies, and on a silver platter, no less. Israel was perplexed. “Why didn’t the world care that it was trying to protect its citizens? Wasn’t it obvious that the ‘humanitarian mission’ was just a cover to bring weapons into Gaza,” they asked. As had happened in the past, the rulers of the little country just didn’t get it. They were so attached to their own narrative of events that had transpired that they were unable to see the situation as the rest of the world saw it. And, by choosing to continue the folly of trying to defend its actions, it only angered people further.
Not only were the peoples of the world upset, but many Israelis were upset as well. They were frustrated by the narrow world view held by the Israeli leadership, and they were angered that the leadership had once again put Israel in a position of being reviled in the court of world opinion. “Why couldn’t the government understand that it by continuing its oppressive tactics, it was destroying its own moral compass,” they thought helplessly. These people were indeed in quagmire, and they were losing hope for the future. “What has happened to our beloved country,” they asked. “Where are the morals? Where are the ethics?” The people were sad, for they did not want to be associated with the actions of their government. And they knew that this was not the end of the story, for as long as their government continued its misguided ways, they would be unable to live happily ever after.