The first news report I heard on Israeli Army radio yesterday morning announced that Navy Seals had killed nine of the peace activists aboard the ships attempting to sail to Gaza to bring relief to its citizens.
The Israeli newscasters were floundering around with the news, stating over and over that neither the government nor the army had made any statements to the press. The message being broadcast inside of Israel was as simple as the message to the rest of the world: Armed Israeli soldiers killed innocent activists who were on a mission of peace. Not good. Not good at all, no matter what side of the political spectrum you support. I was mortified.
As the news continued, still no word from the government: Prime Minister Netanyahu was in Canada because why would he possibly think that this event, which was fully anticipated, to the point that the police set up detention tents with rows of plastic chairs ready to receive arrested activists, would cause problems…? His genius lackeys certainly aren’t capable of putting two words together for the world to hear.
Where was the PR? Where was the footage of Israeli soldiers being attacked that started emerging 24 hours later? Where was the message that maybe the expedition wasn’t quite what the world (and Israel) thought it was?
In the age of YouTube, where nothing is true until a 2:30 minute clip appears on the Internet, why is the Israeli government still stuck in a rut of 1970s secrecy and paranoia? Why are there no embedded journalists accompanying our soldiers on the missions and releasing the footage to the world instantly?
I deeply believe that Israel should not be killing innocent civilians. I also deeply believe that Israel has the right to defend its citizens and its borders. But most of all, I deeply believe that our government has absolutely no clue about how to be open and transparent.
If the soldiers really did kill innocent civilians, then shame on us and shame on the government for taking their lives and in the process dragging Israel into yet another international fiasco that should have been avoided. If the victims weren’t as innocent as many would have the world believe, then shame on the government for not getting that information out there in real time, and letting the world know. If the ruling Israeli hand wringers would wake up and realize that we live in the information age, maybe Israel would stand half a chance of surviving the war of public opinion.