Flotilla Madness

Man, not a great week for the Jews, right?

Not only has the Gaza aid ship fiasco generated a whole lot of bad press for Israel, but it’s got Jews everywhere openly questioning their loyalty to the Jewish state.

Surely the questioning was already there, but the Tweets and news reports of “an Israeli attack” on “peaceful activists” has opened a flood of commentary from Jewish writers voicing their “ambivalence” about Israel.

The first piece I read was Marjorie Ingalls’ parenting column on Tablet.com, which fairly and honestly explores how terrifying it can be to explain the Israeli/Palestinian conflict to our children. She also says that she thinks Israel acts like a “bully,” but that “disagreement with Israel doesn’t mean not loving Israel, just as being upset with your own children doesn’t mean you don’t love them.” She caught a huge amount of flak from Tablet’s readers, elegantly addressed in this follow-up piece. I disagree with her on many points, but I respect her courage in offering up her experience.

Then I clicked on David Luban’s “No Direction Home,” a long-winded treatise which I think is about the decline of “liberal Zionism” but comes off sounding like an excuse of why he no longer feels compelled to stand with Israel.

Look, I know us liberal American Jews’ relationship with Israel is COMPLICATED. I don’t begrudge anyone for their informed opinions. I’ve struggled over the years with my own ability to love Israel and not agree with its government tactics and then have to defend Israel’s right to exist in casual conversation. But I have to wonder if all this hand-wringing is provoked by the habit of us self-proclaimed liberal Jews to believe and react to propaganda masquerading as fact.

Those who were depending on the Huffington Post for updates about the flotilla incident never saw the other sites clips of IDF soldiers being attacked and footage of piles of weapons aboard the ship — none of which have shown up on HP even as of today. (I’ve come to find out that HP’s rabid anti-Israel bent has been clearly documented.)

This is a war of information more than anything now. Pro-Palestinian groups know how to use social media to unite their followers, even when they’re intending to spread lies (there was footage seized from the flotilla of “injured activists” filmed well before any IDF soldier set foot on the flotilla.) Thomas Friedman writes in the New York Times that “there is no question that this flotilla was a setup. Israel’s intelligence failed to fully appreciate who was on board, and Israel’s leaders certainly failed to think more creatively about how to avoid the very violent confrontation that the blockade-busters wanted.”

Israel, for all its technological advancement, has a kind of Asperger’s-esque inability to sense how it’s perceived in the world. Or maybe it doesn’t care. But it needs to, because it’s losing support fast among its own people, or at least the American liberal-flavored ones. Hopefully, when the next flotilla arrives from Ireland tomorrow, someone in the PR department will do their job to show the world that of course aid is allowed into Gaza — after it’s been checked for weapons and materials that could be used to harm the citizens of Israel.

As for me, after reading about and clicking through and thinking and discussing this incident all week, my views on Israel are the same: I still stand by her. I’m a loud, proud liberal, make no mistake, but I’ve never felt comfortable with the knee-jerk apologies for Israel I heard living in Northern California (boy, I’m glad that I’m not there right now). I’ve encountered too much frightening anti-Israel vehemence that has obvious roots in anti-Semitism to think it’s possible, as a Jew, to disassociate oneself from Israel in the eyes of the rest of the world. And you know what? That’s not a problem for me, because unlike Marjorie Ingalls, I do stand with Abe Foxman’s eagle-eyed quest to hold haters accountable, and I happen to adore our local Yom Ha’atzmaut festivals.

*sigh* I’m not sure if this video is going to help Israel’s image as it attends to the seriousness of facing several million psychotic, screaming liars, but sheesh, it’s good to know someone is keeping a sense of humor about it all:

Vid via my friend in the Jew Crew T-shirt.

4 thoughts on “Flotilla Madness

  1. I wasn’t as surprised by Huff Po’s bias as I was Salon’s. I go there at least once a day because i like the unique views of whatever’s new. But it felt like an assault every time I went to their main page – just screaming anti-Israel propaganda with absolutely NO fact-checking, attempt to get comments from anyone on the other side, etc. I’m still shocked, and trying to decide if I’ll ever go back there.

  2. I loved your thoughtful commentary in the Flotilla incident. Why would any country allow a foreign ship, train, car, etc. into their country w/o exercising the right to inspect it should they so choose? Simple international law, right?

  3. I want to thank you for your insight on this event. As a liberal Jew myself, I have had a hard time stomaching a lot of this recent news. Especially as a recent college graduate and representative for Hillel on my campus I was constantly bombarded with people seeking answers to the question “how do we remain young, jewish americans, who love Israel but dislike government policy?” Jewish identity in a largely assimilated jewish world is a topic of conversation that I believe needs to be more widely discussed within out communities (mine happens to be Savannah, by the way)ESPECIALLY amongst young jews.


    • Thank YOU, Jenna – have we met?? I have to say the South seems a lot less bombastic towards Israel than other places, either from apathy or Apocalyptic tendencies. Where did you go to school?

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