Israel is now divided. Some people think Israel did the right thing. We got them, and we'll get them next time with a tougher, quicker response. There won't be so many injured people next time, if you know what I mean.
Others think this has been a disaster because the incompetent Bibi has led the soldiers into what has turned up to be a trap. Most of the people I know in Israel are probably in this group.
Horrified by the idea that protecting yourself from soldiers attacking you in international water could somehow be called a trap, a relatively small group of people is offended by these two opinions. Knowing this group of people exists has stopped me from canceling my Israeli passport this week. It has stopped me from speaking only English to my son. It has stopped me from feeling ashamed.
I'm not doing anyone a favor. I know I know.
But I used to be proud of my country. They had immigrated to a desert to create Utopia. It was a social economic philosophic spiritual Utopia. Israel's enemies, the Israeli Declaration of Independence says, were welcome to join Israel in shaping the future of the Middle East as the most prosperous land on Earth. The day those words were spoken in 1948, Israel's neighbors attacked. There was no doubt that we were the good guys.
Are we still the good guys? Leftists outside Israel have always seen Israel as the aggressor, but in Israel things were different, and it's simplistic to say it was because we had lived in a bubble of self-delusion. As a kid, I saw pieces of flesh and blood stuck to a tree in the main street of Tel Aviv, a day after a suicide bomber detonated his bomb in a busy intersection. A short time after that, the city put a monument near the crosswalk. There were so many suicide bombers after I left the country, that the government stopped putting up monuments. It just didn't make sense anymore. No matter how bad the situation was in Gaza, as long as the Palestinians were blowing up kids, we were the good guys.
Then things changed. Yes, the leaders of Hezbollah were religious nuts who didn't give a damn about their people's lives and about the lives of Lebanese or Palestinians, but the war in Lebanon proved Israel was no better. Israelis were not the good guys when they went into Gaza to release a kidnapped soldier and to stop the rockets. A lot of innocent people died, the rockets didn't stop, and the soldier is still in captivity. Hezbollah weren't the good guys and Hamas weren't the good guys. But neither was Israel.
How did the good guys end up killing aid workers?
Or as most Israelis refer to them: "aid workers." Hey, whatever soothes your conscience.
Who was this Turkish group organizing the trip? It really doesn't matter. Their provocative statements are used as an excuse by Israel: "Yes, we shot everything that moved, but look--they really REALLY hated us!" Israel is going to have to kill a lot more people if it wants to get rid of everyone who hates it.
An American citizen was shot in the face and in the back of his head. Five times at close range. They call it a Confirmed-Kill in the Israeli military. Not officially, though.
When asked if the fact that an American citizen was killed by the Israelis changed the President's reaction to the attack, Robert Gibbs said, "I don't want to go there." Why would he want to go there? Some Americans are worth more than others. This guy was a Turkish-American. That's pretty low on the Who-Gives-A-Damn Pole.
Unfriended three people on Facebook today. Couldn't deal with their ignorant hateful shit anymore.
One of them was actually going to a protest in front of the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv. Because it was the victims' fault. As usual.
During the Gaza offensive, Israeli troops fired indiscriminately into innocent people's houses while chasing alleged rocket launchers. What! It was their fault they died. Their houses were so close together!
All Arabs are the same to Bibi voters. Sure, some of them wear suits, some of them are doctors or politicians or architects or aid workers, but an Arab is an Arab. Why did the Israeli military shoot into random houses in Gaza? Because there's no such thing as an innocent Palestinian. Not everyone on the boat attacked them, but is there really a difference between an Arab aid worker and an Arab Hamas member?
That's how Bibi voters think. Ask them. They're not ashamed of these opinions.
Either I'm being a dumb optimist or I simply can't face the facts, but even as I can't see Israel as the good guys, I still can't think of this abstract Could-Have-Been-Utopian symbol as the bad guy. It's complicated, just as Israel itself is complicated. Bibi is an evil incompetent Napoleon who deserves to be placed in a town square, so that everyone in the Middle East would line up and spit on his face. But I still have faith.
There are still people who search for peace there. There are still people who look at the Flotilla attack and not think it was simply a strategic blunder, but a moral stain. These people are the reason I speak Hebrew to my boy. These people are the reason I'm still an Israeli. These people are the reason I feel anything when I read news coming from Israel, even if it is mostly despair.