I don't usually do this. I am not a politician nor am I a military or governmental official or an expert on such matters. I am just an Israeli citizen based in the US working all over the world, and as such I only have my personal opinions and my own point of view. As a voter, I am located to the moderate left of the political map. I was born and raised in Israel with real coexistence between Arabs and Israelis and a true faith that peace is right around the corner. I was taken to demonstrations against the Israeli occupation and visited my mother's Muslim friends around the country. I support a two state solution and the Palestinian's right for land, peace and prosperity. However, even as a lefty raised, peace loving, kumbaya singing eternally optimistic why-can't-we-all-just-get-along Israeli kinda gal - my nerves in the past ten years have been stretched super thin by the constant violence against my country.
I was devastated to learn of what had occurred on board the Flotilla to Gaza recently. People losing their lives is always a terrible outcome - in fact the worst possible outcome. My heart goes out to the families of those who lost their lives in the fight that followed the IDF boarding the Mavi Marmara. I served in the Israeli army for two and a half years and as such know first hand the the IDF moral codes and its rules of engagement. The way it was initially depicted in the world media didn't make sense to me. It was not my country, not my army, not my people. Little by little and way too late the picture started to get clear.
I am going to try and give a little bit of context. The Palestinians in Gaza have been held captive for three years under the radical rule of the terrorist organization Hamas, which killed its own Fatah people when it forcefully took over in 2007. Hamas calls for the destruction of the state of Israel and has launched over 7000 rockets into civilian population of Israel in the past few years.
If you don't live in Israel, just think about what it would feel like to live with a small 9/11 every single day. Imagine rockets being fired from Mexico into San Diego and Los Angeles - every day. Not fun, and you are bound to loose your patience at some point. And Israel did. Which country would have let 7000 missiles fall on its citizens before retaliating?
As a result of the violence, Israel and Egypt had put a blockade, trying to control arms, missiles and amunitions from reaching the Iran sponsored terrorist organization Hamas which controls Gaza.
The Flotilla was carefully planned. It is not against the Law to board a ship which is breaching a legal blockade. From the Helsinki Principles on the Law Of Maritime Neutrality:
5.1.2 (3) "Merchant ships flying the flag of a neutral State may be attacked if they are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search, capture or diversion".
However, the Flotilla was not about bringing actual aid to Gaza, it was about the confrontation. A video form the Turkish TV which aired the night before the event shows the organizers of the Gaza flotilla announcing in advance their intention of using violence against Israeli forces if the latter tried to prevent the ships from reaching Gaza. This intention was expressed in interviews given by the head of the IHH, Bulent Yildirim, to Turkish television stations on the last night of the voyage, as the ships approached the coast. Here it is, in Turkish from the IHH website.
The entire flotilla "Aid mission" was not organized by harmless puppy lovers. It was primarily the IHH - a violent, extremist group which supports terrorist organizations under the guise of humanitarian activity. From the Telegraph UK "one of the main groups involved in the flotilla that was raided by Israeli commandos on Monday was the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedom and Humanitarian Relief, which is a radical Islamist group masquerading as a humanitarian agency"
In accordance with Maritime Law, The Israeli Navy tried to stop the Flotilla, offering to transfer all humanitarian aid from the ships into Gaza via land (which five out of the six ships accepted) - If this Flotilla was at all about the aid, they would all have taken the peaceful option.
Finally, when IDF forces took control over the Gaza bound ship in contravention of the blockade, passengers on one of the six boats initiated violent clashes beating the soldiers lynching them with metal rods and knives.
Do these people look like peace activists to you?
I am an entertainer. I'm an actress and a producer. I am an artist. I am a lefty wuss. I do not want war and more importantly, the people of Israel do not want war no matter what it looks like in the world media at the moment. However, the world needs to understand that this is a matter of survival. Israel is the only Democracy in the middle east and as such it is trying to play by the rules of the western world, only to be confronted by a completely different ball game played on the other side over and over again... It is impossible to fight an enemy which is not affraid of dying.
I have been singing peace songs in the streets of Tel Aviv for years. Me and all my friends - in fact my whole country was going to do what we could to bring Peace to our region. We have been trying to reach a peace agreement for years, only to be left standing alone at the negotiation table while the other side chooses a conflict and not a solution. I do not always support my government's actions and I criticize it freely when I think it screws up. No doubt that there is a lot more that the Israeli government can do, I of course have many questions about this incident, not the least of which is "why choose this particular method of stopping the boat?" However in this event, both Netanyahu and Ambassador Michael Oren have apologized immediately for the casualties, not defending the country. Unfortunately this flotilla was a clever PR ambush and Israel fell into it, and fell hard as the organizers achieved their terrible objectives.
It is unfortunate that both Israel as well as the well intentioned activists on these boats were used by extreme organizations to horrific results.
I believe that we can reach peace in my country. I know most people on both sides want it more than anythinng else. I do not know how to get there, but I know we can find a way.
Be open to debate, listen with your ears and not your pre-conceived stories, and be prepared to change your mind.
Neither Israel nor the Palestinians are going anywhere. Let's all find a way to make it work, lest it all comes tumbling down on everyone.
Peace and love to all,