In a column in the Wall Street Journal, Ronen Bergman, a senior military and political analyst for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, says that Israel's tactics in the Gaza flotilla fiasco show that it no longer cares about the battle for world opinion, which it knows it has lost. Mr. Bergman writes:
"It makes no difference what we do, or how careful we are, or how we tackle the matter of the flotilla," I was told by a very senior military source two days before the operation. "Whatever we do, they'll all be against us, they'll condemn us at the U.N., and we'll be scolded. We might as well at least preserve our national dignity and maintain the blockade of Gaza." In other words, the war over world opinion is over—and Israel has lost.
Everything that has happened in the past year—the Goldstone Report condemning Israel's war in Gaza, the international furor after the assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai, even the statement singling out Israel at the recent Nuclear Nonproliferation Conference—is taken as an indication that any attempt to do the "right thing" is pointless and perhaps counterproductive. One might as well simply give up.
This feeling is shared by a large section of the Israeli population—not merely the right wing of Israeli society. While many are condemning the IDF's operation on Monday, it is probably fair to say that the majority of the country instinctively understands why these events were permitted to occur.
Bergman believes this outlook on the part of the Israeli government and public to be an ominous development that only increases volatility in the Middle East.
Bret Stephens, a Wall Street Journal editor featured in a video that may be viewed at the same Wall Street Journal link, does not disagree with Bergman. However, he notes that for Israel to lift the siege on Gaza would open Gaza to smuggling of advanced Iranian weaponry and militia, making an outbreak of hostilities almost inevitable. Israel, he notes, would rather take the international heat for maintaining the blockade than face even greater condemnation for its actions in another Gaza war, accompanied perhaps by horrendous military and civilian casualties in Israel.