At some point in the near future, apparently the date is being kept a secret, a groups of ships, called the Freedom Flotilla 2, will be sailing from Greece to the Gaza Strip. You may remember that this happened about a year ago. In that case, nine people were killed by Israeli soldiers in what was a complete debacle for the Israeli Defense Forces. Let me be clear that I think Israel has every right to be wary of this situation. The Gaza Strip is controlled by a group that does not recognize Israel, and has made the destruction of Israel its top priority for years. I believe that Israel has every right to ensure that the supplies carried on this convoy are for humanitarian uses only. If there are any weapons they should be confiscated as that would surely be illegal weapons trafficking. Israel, however, is making me question the validity have their concern. Namely, they are engaging in a tactic that is akin to dictators. They’re threatening journalists.
An article in the Christian Science Monitor reports that Israel is threatening to ban journalists from the country for up to a decade if they are on one of these ships. Journalists go where the story is. It is true that they often go where there is no story also, but trying to keep the media out of this just leads to the idea that Israel wants to suppress the story. Journalists are banned from Syria right now for exactly that reason. The Syrian government does not want the truth to get out about what they are doing. By keeping journalists out they are preventing an accurate narrative to be written. This allows them to fill the void with the story they want everyone to hear.
I don’t think Israel is comparable to Syria. Israel is a democracy that does not oppress its people. Some will argue that instead Israel oppresses the Palestinians, who it is worth noting, were kicked out of their homes in the late 1940s. Palestinians have a legitimate problem with Israel and the Western world. So when Israel engages in suppressing journalists, it makes them look like they have something to hide. More importantly this tactic will not work. We’ve seen it in Arab countries all year. The mainstream media isn’t needed for information anymore. The use of Facebook and YouTube has exploded. Through the internet videos will be seen, information will spread. Israel can count on one thing. The YouTube videos, and Twitter feeds will not be favorable. The mainstream media uses a code of ethics in what it reports. The social media world does not. Israel’s opponents will use all of these outlets to spread their message whether it is fair or not. The mainstream media is the only hope Israel has of getting an objective story out there.
Israel’s best plan is to stop this flotilla as peacefully as possible. Inspect the cargo, and make sure that CBS, CNN, The New York Times and others get a good look at it. If anything is illegal or bound for violent use, it will get reported and Israel will be vindicated. If it is all humanitarian aid, everyone will know. Then Israel can say it was protecting itself, but found nothing illicit. There is nothing wrong with Israel trying to prevent weapons from entering Gaza so that they can be used to hurt Israelis. Trying to suppress journalists, however, sends a terrible signal. It says that Israel isn’t sure that they are protecting themselves. This effort will hurt the Israeli cause not help it.