The news out of Gaza is being covered by plenty of other able bloggers and analysts (like Steve Walt, Issandr El Amrani, Gideon Levy, and my buddy Sean over at the Human Province), so I won’t rehash what everyone’s already said except to make this very cynical point: high-visibility non-violent protests pack a disproportionately heavy punch in this age of 24 hour news, Twitter feeds, and live-streaming video.
Oops, Helena Cobban already said that. But no matter. The point is that this tragic incident is doing more to put the plight of ordinary Gazans back on the front page than any kind of military operation undertaken by Hamas. And speaking of Hamas, they’ve chosen the right moment to show their cuddly side. Khaled Meshaal recently told Charlie Rose (again) that his organization would end its resistance towards Israel if a two-state solution were adopted on the basis of the 1967 borders. Two days later, the IDF killed a bunch of humanitarian workers.
What’s the next step? Syria has called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League, and both Bashar al-Assad and Saad al-Hariri have warned that the flotilla killings could lead to a regional war. Maybe this is a naive reading, but it strikes me that beating the war drums is the wrong move. Instead of threatening to launch another intifada, why not actually launch an aid flotilla that is ten times the size of the one that was assaulted? The humanitarian non-violent strategy has clearly proved to be the winning one, so why not press it?