Friday, June 4, 2010

Turkey’s Flotilla Stunt


by Mark Halawa


Having lived in the Middle East for over twenty years of my life, I have a perspective on this week's Gaza Flotilla incident that I think may be enlightening to Western readers.

Turkey has successfully ascended to the driver seat of the Pro-Palestinian propaganda machine. A seat in which Iran, with all its blatant rhetoric against Israel, creative anti-Semitic contests, and a runaway nuclear program, couldn't successfully hold onto due to the threat the Iranian Shiites pose to "moderate" Arab Sunnis.


The Idea: A fleet of boats carrying activists, reporters, religious and political leaders, and aid to Gaza.


How To: Create as much negative publicity toward Israel as possible by inviting participants from all over the world (Pakistanis could round up thousands for a "Death to Facebook" riot in a matter of hours) and brand the fleet the "Gaza Freedom Flotilla" to keep things under an innocent peace disguise. Of course, these "innocent peaceful" activists will be armed with metal pipes, slingshots and knives, for stage two of the peaceful plan: to instigate violence with the Israeli Defense Forces.


The Goal: Turkey will push Iran out of the spotlight as the number one hero to Arab youth, gaining instant sympathy and approval from Arab regimes and their puppet media outlets. Part of Turkey's motivation is undoubtedly to close an ugly page of long brutal Ottoman rule over the Arabian Peninsula.


After all, Turkey has been building up prerequisites for such a move for some time. Like Iran, they have created fictitious anti-Israel and anti-Jewish TV shows, publicly supported Hamas, and even went on further when Turkish PM Ardogan verbally attacked President Shimon Peres last year at the World Economic Forum in Davos.


Since all previous attempts at sending similar fleets to Gaza have failed, it was essential for Turkey to give it an all-out push this time by including reporters from Al Jazeera, women and children, and sympathetic semi-public figures from all over the world.


As the activists had intended, the largest outcome from this whole PR stunt was the further smearing of Israel's good name worldwide. What came as a particular shock was how those countries that in the past had shied away from bashing Israel, suddenly joined the chorus of world leaders pressuring Israel to lift the embargo on Hamas-dominated Gaza.


It may be interesting to note that while Israel yet again gets top headlines, more local issues of legitimate humanitarian outcry continue to be ignored in the Arab world – for example, the killing of Bahraini fishermen by Qatar's coastguard last week. The harmless boat had the audacity to stray close to Qatar's international waters; however, the issue was largely ignored.


While the Gaza-bound flotillas have since been docked in the Israeli port of Ashdod, and the aid on board (but not the weapons) is being transferred to those Gazans in need, the humanitarian aspect of the flotilla's cause was clearly secondary to the goal of demonizing the Jewish state.


Whatever the fate of this "peace flotilla," the Arab street would jubilantly call it a success either way, and Turkey would score a huge PR victory in the Arab world's blurry eyes.



Mark Halawa

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


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