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MEDIA STUNT GONE TERRIFYINGLY WRONG?

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

MEDIA STUNT GONE TERRIFYINGLY WRONG?

Andrew Ryan

So howzabout this crazy Israeli attack on the aid flotilla huh? Kinda heralds the end of the world a little bit huh – or at least the continuation of where it’s really at.

I have always been confused about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, knowing only that both sides consider Jerusalem to be their holy land, and want it for themselves. In the past I’ve attempted to figure out just what the hell is going on over there, but I couldn’t see past both sides getting really angry at each other, with the Israelis having nuclear weapons to back up their aggression if it came down to it.

Today I spoke to a friend who is doing a Middle East Politics unit at Deakin Uni, and asked for some perspective on the whole thing. She explained that it is an extremely complicated, long running conflict, and for a beginner like myself, it’s impossible to know where to start. I didn’t get much solid information, only a rant that I will try my best to summarise.

Before she started learning about it all, she kind of sided with the Israelis. She’s not sure if that has anything to do with how it’s has all been portrayed by the media, or because of the whole guilt-about-the-fate-of-the-jews thing that the whole word feels, but she felt like, yeah, Israelis, they’re okay. But she read more and more, and to put it simply, quickly realised that the Israelis are in fact a massive group of meanies.

So back to the topic at hand: the Israeli army killed 9 people in a boat that was sending aid to Palestinians on the Gaza strip. Their reasoning for this? Not only was the boat breaking the rules they imposed on the area, that is, no one is allowed to go there, but they claim that the people on the boat had weapons, were attacking soldiers, and it was a completely necessary act of self defence.

That hasn’t stopped the whole world responding with a resounding cry of “ARE YOU GUYS FUCKING SERIOUS??” There were reporters and photographers on the boat, some of whom were on the phone while the attacking was going down, one reporting he had bruises all over his body already. Something went very wrong, but it’s doubtful the international community will ever know the complete truth, because throughout the 50 years or more of the shit going on in that area, the Israeli government has been renowned for shutting down all media access as soon as anything like this happens, and then opening things up again as soon as they’ve got their story straight. They released footage today that shows their soldiers getting beaten with metal poles and chairs as they slide down from helicopters, but this begs the question: what happened beforehand to make this boat-full of people who wanted nothing more than to prove a point and help the people stuck on the Gaza strip go mental and start attacking?

From what I can gather, it’s very likely that this situation could have started as something of a media stunt. It makes sense: now the whole world knows that Israel put a ban on anyone sending aid to Gaza via that stretch of water, which is pretty horrible. According to my politically aware friend, the Israeli government claims that weapons were being shipped there, along with helpful things, like construction materials and medical supplies, so they just imposed a blanket ban so as to avoid more fighting. Banning more weapons, yes, fair call. But she also said that even if every Palestinian were armed with a bazooka, the Israeli army would still shit all over them.

So if it was a media stunt gone wrong(?), it’s possible the flotilla passengers were a bit freaked out about the whole thing. It’s possible they had weapons because they expected to have to defend themselves because they knew they were breaking the rules. It’s possible that there was some kind of stand off, shouts of “WE’RE JUST TRYING TO HELP THE PEOPLE” and replies of “YOU’RE BREAKING OUR RULES YOU FUCKING HIPPIES” and then mayyyyybe one of the soldiers got a bit testy, accidentally shot at someone from one of their “civilian paint-ball guns” and there you have it, an all out riot, which would explain the footage we’ve seen from the boat. It’s also possible that the footage was recreated after the event actually happened. WOAH. Yep. Definitely not impossible.

So in conclusion… don’t trust anything you see or hear. The world is a messy, messy place. But I’m sure you’ve all figured that out by now. We’ll never know the whole truth, and while it’s worth pursuing it, prepare to be always kept in the dark. At the risk of getting a bit dark, I don’t see the international political events of the last few weeks as a very good omen for the future of our peace time ideal. Take that as you will.