While in Tel Aviv I learned of the catastrophic interception on the high seas by the Israel Defense Forces of six boats that had sailed from Turkey and were trying to run the blockade on Gaza. As I write these words, I, like the rest of the world, have only a few shreds of information about what really happened. Furthermore, I am convinced that it will soon be learned that this so-called humanitarian flotilla was humanitarian in name only, and that its organizers and implementers were exploiting the signs and symbols of humanitarian aid and essentially exploiting the media, rather than expressing any real concern for the suffering of the people of Gaza. And I am also convinced that the initiators of this provocation − the Turkish branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is indeed a part of the government in Turkey − had very good reasons for refusing the suggestion that the boats enter the Israeli port of Ashdod so that the real nature of their cargo could be verified.
I am equally convinced that the IDF I know does everything it can to avoid civilian casualties and its soldiers and officers are careful to observe purity of arms. Furthermore, I am convinced that the IDF, which is not only a highly sophisticated army but profoundly democratic, and whose conduct in wartime I have saluted on many occasions (I did so last night as well), had other modes of operation at its disposal and could have used them rather than causing this bloodbath. If I had had any hesitation about offering an opportunity to Israel’s friends to redouble their vigilance, and if I had had any doubt regarding the importance of Jcall’s demand for a distinguishing between continued, consistent support of Israel and the criticism for the poor actions of a poor government, this initiative, which was so foolish, irresponsible and criminal and which − for Israel − was so disastrous, has put all such hesitations and doubts to rest. Grief, sadness, and yes, anger are the feelings that have emerged in the face of a temptation that I know exists in the hearts of some Israeli leaders − a temptation to believe that the “whole world is against us” and that “we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t” and to therefore act accordingly. Autism can never be a government policy and it most certainly can never be a strategy. This is a statement that must be made. And it must be made emphatically.
Bernard-Henri Lévy’s latest book, “Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism,” was published in 2009.