Instead of Another Ignored Report

It would be best to make the flotilla saga a turning point in Israel's policy governing the Gaza blockade and the continued occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In the same week the diplomatic tsunami caused by the fatal raid of the Mavi Marmara left those trying to steer Israel's ship of state high and dry, two leaders of other countries, one in the Far East and one in the West, both resigned their posts.

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Israel Navy commander Eliezer Mar
Nir Kafri

In Germany, Horst Koehler stepped down as president, penalizing himself for saying that German military deployments abroad serve the country's economic interests. And Yukio Hatoyama resigned as prime minister of Japan after breaking a promise to move an American military base off the island of Okinawa.

In Israel, meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are evading responsibility for the disastrous thinking that led to the flotilla raid, and using their purported faith in the commandos who carried it out as a way of keeping that disastrous thinking under wraps.

Netanyahu and Barak are right: There is no need for an inquiry. It's clear that their risk-reward assessment was faulty, since Netanyahu was getting ready to head to the White House as the commandos were firing on the passengers of the aid ship.

No political or military official who was involved in the decision to mount a forcible takeover of the ships says that any option was considered other than the vessels either being captured or reaching the Gaza port.

Two dozen cabinet members - who are collectively responsible for the crisis - say they first heard about the incident on the radio.

Not only is it unnecessary to appoint an inquiry committee to examine the problematic takeover of the Mavi Marmara, but doing so is likely to detract attention from the far-reaching strategic ramifications of the Gaza blockade and its implementation.

Syrian President Bashar Assad wasn't exaggerating when he described the flotilla as a turning point in the Arab-Israeli conflict, by which he presumably meant that the incident dragged the Israeli government into the losing sphere of ethics and human rights.

In this assymetric struggle between the occupier and the occupied, military supremacy not only fails to ensure victory, but easily becomes a hindrance.

In the absence of a genuine peace process, the flotilla saga caused the moderate Arab center, led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to lose what momentum it had. Now the momentum is with the radical Islamists on the fringes, led by Iran.

There's no need to bother a retired judge just so he can rule that the decision-makers should have been aware of the race for Middle East supremacy.

And there's nothing that any expert in maritime law has to say that will prevent the Arab-speaking public from pressuring Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to open the Rafah crossing.

We don't need an inquiry committee to know that the blockade keeping cilantro and cement out of Gaza has turned Tehran's deniers of the Jewish genocide and Ankara's deniers of the Armenian genocide into standard-bearers for assistance to the unfortunate children of Gaza.

At the same time, Hamas is laughing all the way from the smuggling tunnels to the bank. The blockade has transformed Hamas, which the United States and Europe classify as a terror organization, into a victim of Israeli aggression.

You don't have to be an expert on the Middle East to realize that every day in which Israel drags its feet on peace talks with the Palestinians bolsters Hamas' position in Gaza. All you had to do was see Iran's ally to Israel's north licking its lips in pleasure in order to realize the price of the standstill on the Syrian track.

Even the best of Israel's friends in the world have a hard time understanding the Netanyahu-Barak government, not to mention justifying its actions. Anthony Cordesman, a military expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a foreign policy think tank in Washington, wrote in an article last week that "the depth of America's moral commitment does not justify or excuse actions by an Israeli government that unnecessarily make Israel a strategic liability when it should remain an asset."

Cordesman, who previously served as director of intelligence assessment in the Pentagon, also said America's commitment to Israel "does not mean that the United States should extend support to an Israeli government when that government fails to credibly pursue peace with its neighbors."

Instead of just shoving one more report in the drawer, it would be best to make the flotilla saga a turning point in Israel's policy governing the Gaza blockade and the continued occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Floating along in the direction we've been going will just get us into hot water.