Easing The Blockade

The ultimate victory for the Mavi Marmara: Israel has decided to ease the blockade of Gaza, shifting its policy closer toward what supporters of the blockade said it was always supposed to accomplish, preventing Hamas from stockpiling weapons. We’ll have to wait to see how much so-called ‘dual use’ material — stuff that could have both civilian or military application — Israel will actually continue to exclude before we can really determine whether the easement even remotely approaches the “fundamental change” that Robert Gibbs said in a statement Gaza needs. But any relaxation of collective punishment is a positive sign. And whatever you think of the Mavi Marmara, it’s impossible to deny that the flotilla’s mission of concentrating international attention on the immiseration of Gaza succeeded.

Marc Lynch makes a good point about the easement:

I know a lot of people won’t agree with me on this, but trading off the investigation for the blockade was the right move.   It is difficult to imagine what value even a real, independent international investigation of the flotilla incident would possibly have.  The incident itself was only a minor one in the longer, deeper story of the Gaza blockade — a fiasco waiting to happen, not a bolt from the blue.   An investigation narrowly focused on the flotilla and what happened during the Israeli boarding would be of only marginal value, while the process itself would be hopelessly politicized.   The Israeli self-study seems designed to be self-discredting.  By appointing David Trimble, founder of a “Friends of Israel” group, as one of the two international observers, they have more or less guaranteed that the results will be pleasing to their sympathizers and totally discredited in the eyes of everyone else.  So be it.

Gaza itself has always been the point for most people, not the flotilla itself.

That’s really right on. Whatever one thinks of the Goldstone Report and the Israeli pushback against it, the acrimony over the report became an argument about Goldstone’s investigation, not an argument about how to ease the suffering of Gaza. I don’t mean to diminish the injustice that occurred during the boarding of the flotilla. I’m just cynical enough to recognize that focusing on the boarding unfortunately diverts attention from conditions in Gaza, and the Goldstone meta-debate indicated that there was a successful template — find fault with the investigation — for future distractions.

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Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman

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