Joe Conason examines the effect of Israel's Gaza policy on the strategic interests of Israel and the United States in the wake of the raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla.
The government of Israel is supposedly run by the Jewish state's toughest and most ardent defenders, but so far they have inflicted worse damage on its security and its future than its enemies ever could. By treating a Gaza-bound aid flotilla as a military threat, killing nine civilians and imprisoning hundreds more, that government achieved the only foreseeable outcome: another episode of international isolation and internal demoralization.
Whether Israel's commandos committed any criminal acts will be determined by investigation, but in the meantime it is safe to say that what happened was not only wrong but exceptionally stupid. Yet while shortsighted brutality has long been a hallmark of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians, that tendency is now clearly undermining the strategic interests of both Israel and its traditional friends, including the United States.
Consider the events over the past two years that have led up to this moment. The war on Gaza, initially justified by Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, was grossly disproportional and resulted in war crimes against Palestinians that completely overshadowed the casus belli. Since then, the blockade of Gaza has stopped humanitarian assistance and prevented reconstruction-which has only provoked worldwide support for Hamas' human rights complaints against Israel.