Fiasco on the High Seas

Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Moshe Ya'alon are supposed to know history. They are supposed to know there was no greater mistake than that of the British with regard to the illegal immigrant ship Exodus in the summer of 1947. The brutality employed by the British Mandate against a ferry loaded with Jewish refugees turned the regime into an object of revile. It lost what is now called international legitimacy. British rule over the country ended just 10 months after the Exodus fiasco,

The Turkish ship Mavi Marmara was no Exodus. It carried not Holocaust survivors but provocateurs, many of them extremists. But a series of baseless decisions on the part of the prime minister and the ministers of defense and of strategic affairs turned the Marmara into a Palestinian Exodus. With a single foolish move, the Israeli cabinet cast the Muslim Brotherhood in the role of the victim and the Israel Navy as the villain and simultaneously opened European, Turkish, Arab, Palestinian and internal Israeli fronts. In so doing, Israel is serving Hamas' interests better than Hamas itself has ever done.

Netanyahu, Barak and Ya'alon have neither vision nor charisma, but they once seemed to have good judgment. The sole promise made by their cabinet was not to make hasty decisions like the one that led its predecessor into the Second Lebanon War. It was supposed to handle Israel's strategic interests with utmost seriousness and responsibility. On the night of May 30th the cabinet broke its promise, demonstrating extreme, unforgivable lack of judgment in the face of the Palestinian flotilla.

During the 2006 war in Lebanon I concluded that my 15-year-old daughter could have conducted it more wisely than the Olmert-Peretz government. We've progressed. Today it's clear to me that my 6-year-old son could do much better than our current government. Even a child would have seen the imbalance in the risk-threat assessment in overpowering the flotilla ships. Any smart kid would understand that you don't sacrifice what is important for what is not. But the cabinet did not understand. Under the leadership of Netanyahu, Barak and Ya'alon it came to a patently unreasonable decision. It was a decision of complete fools.

Endless questions are being asked. What happened to Israel's vaunted creativity? Why was the worst of all possible options chosen? Where was the army chief of staff? Where were the intelligence services? Why did we walk into this trap, which we managed to avoid in all the years of the second intifada, with our eyes open? Why didn't we see that instead of tightening the siege on Gaza, we were about to tighten the siege on ourselves?

Perhaps the most troubling question in the wake of this fiasco on the high sea is this: Who is navigating our ship of state, and toward what catastrophe are the captains of this ship of fools steering us?