The Australian's fearless foreign editor, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, gets to the heart of the matter:
"This may be a pivotal moment in the Middle East. Not because of the loss of life, which was tragic, but alas not uncommon in the Middle East." (Grotesque theatre succeeded brilliantly, 2/6/10)
This whaaat? This massacre!
"The Jewish state was sucker-punched by demonstrators determined to provoke an ugly Israeli reaction and international PR disaster."
Well then, Greg, shouldn't certain Israeli heads roll, beginning with Netanyahu's? Damn, and I thought each and every Israeli was a potential Nobel Prize winner!
"By beating Israeli sailors nearly to death as soon as they landed..."
Hello, sailor! Step on board and let me show you a good time.
You know, for a sailor nearly beaten to death, the one shaking hands with Netanyahu from his hospital bed looked pretty good to me (PM visits wounded commandos, The Jerusalem Post, 2/6/10). Hey, but what're a few "clubs, metal crowbars* and knives" (ibid) to an IDF hero? [*Metal crowbars? Not plastic? Diabolical!]
"In the melee of the Gaza ships, real violence only occurred on one ship, the Marmari. It was a Turkish vessel and its activists came from the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH). The IHH is a pro-Hamas Islamist terror group implicated in numerous al-Qa'ida operations. They took clubs, steel bars, knives and perhaps guns on board. But their object was not to kill Israeli soldiers - though they would have been happy for that to happen. The aim was a kind of grotesque theatre, which is what all terrorism is really all about, in this case to carry out enough violence to ensure a violent Israeli reaction. It succeeded brilliantly."
There's no stopping Sheridan once he's got the bit between his teeth! The IHH is implicated in numerous al-Qa'ida operations.
Blimey, even The Australian's Israeli twin, The Jerusalem Post, doesn't go that far: "According to the Israeli NGO [!], The Intelligence & Information Center, the IHH is affiliated with Hamas and the Union of the Good, an Islamic umbrella affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood." (What is the IHH? Ben Hartman, 2/6/10)
But Sheridan's talking al-Qa'ida? This is the Post's reference to same: "In 2006, a report issued by the Danish Institute for International Studies stated that during the 1990s the IHH maintained links with al-Qa'ida and a number of 'global jihad networks'."
Wikipedia notes that this DIIS report, The Role of Islamic Charities in International Terrorist Recruitment & Financing, was written by "conservative American analyst Evan Kohlman. Kohlman claimed that major international Islamic charities such as IHH, while providing genuine humanitarian relief, also occasionally serve as fronts and liaison with Islamic militants and terror groups. In particular, Kohlman blamed IHH for assisting the Iraqi Sunni insurgency, and mentioned a 1997 raid in which police found weapons, explosives and bomb-making instructions in the IHH headquarters in Istanbul. Apparently, Kohlman's theory about IHH has not gained traction, since IHH remains a legal organization everywhere except Israel, which banned it in 2008. With the advent of the May 2010 Gaza flotilla in which IHH played a key role, Kohlman's report was rediscovered by the Israeli think tank Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center. Their May 26 text on IHH, based mostly upon Kohlman's report, was repeated over the next few days with minor variations by the Israeli press and by Israeli government spokespersons."
On Kohlman, The Arabist blog (arabist.net/blog) has this to say: "Kohlman is one of those ubiquitous instant experts on terrorism who does not speak a word of Arabic [or Turkish?]. His work has never been peer-reviewed, and there are various problems with his research and testimony in US courts that have been tracked by SpinProfiles.org. He appears to consistently exaggerate his own credentials, and my favorite bit of all is this: 'Kohlman's company was a one man operation he ran from his bedroom in a high rise apartment in Manhattan's West Village. National Public Radio journalist Mary Louise Kelly met him in his bedroom/office, which she described as 'a gallery of photos of al-Qaeda leaders'. Kohlman works at a desk two feet from his bed, and on that particular occasion wearing 'what looks like last night's pyjamas'. In October 2007, Evan Kohlman closed his website and redirected traffic to NEFA which he said would be publishing all his future work'." (How Israeli hasbara works, 31/5/10)
Never mind, if Kohlman's good enough for Israeli PR, he's good enough for our Greg.
"The Turkish government seized on the incident to damn Israel in every way, to accuse it of piracy and banditry and murder... A decade ago, Turkey's agenda was liberalisation, European Union membership and close military co-operation with Israel. Now its agenda is hostility to the West, denunciation of Israel and creeping Islamisation. The way its government has used this incident to polarise its people against Israel is skilful and speaks of deep planning."
How dare the Turkish government say boo about the murder of its own citizens! And just because a bunch of armed and hooded hoods murder X of your nationals on one of your own boats in international waters, that doesn't mean you should be using the p, b, or m words. Talk about running off at the mouth. Unforgivable!
Now, as much as I enjoy your good, old-fashioned Sheridan rant, I have to confess that this one disappointed me a little. I mean, why stop at declaring that this incident was nothing but a Turkish government plot? Why not go the whole hog?
This fiendish Turkish ambush of innocent Israeli sailors is merely the opening shot in a Turkish bid to wrest Jerusalem from its eternal owners and re-establish the Ottoman caliphate throughout the Middle East!
And... and, if the Rudd government really wants to be a serious player on the world stage, it should stop mucking around in Afghanistan, re-form the Anzacs forthwith, and launch a full scale attack on that little corner of Oz in Turkey, Gallipoli. After all, if we don't halt the 72-virgins-here-I-cum crowd at Gallipoli, they'll be in Gulargambone faster than you can say Gawd help us!