Israel to Release Flotilla Incident report on July 4th

You gotta hand it to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the IDF for their well coordinated PR campaigns — they really know how to read a U.S. calendar!

The findings of Israel’s internal inquiry of the Free Gaza Flotilla incident will be released right as Americans across the country will all be sidling up to their barbecues on — you guessed it! — July 4th, the U.S.’s Independence Day.

You’ll also remember, of course — or perhaps you won’t — the oft-overlooked Israeli incursion into Gaza in Nov. 2009,  a violation of the Israeli-Hamas ceasefire and prelude to the brutal Gaza War of December and January. As Jim and I reported at the time, the U.S. media — and, therefore, public — was eyeless in Gaza, so to speak, when the IDF launched a ground and air attack on Nov. 4, killing 7 alleged militants as Americans cast a historic vote for Barack Obama.

July 4th, when the IDF flotilla report is due, falls on a Sunday this year. I wonder who will be subbing on the talk shows? Oh yeah, and read the paper carefully through your groggy Monday morning breakfast. By that afternoon, when the cable news shows have come on, there will be something else to chatter about.

What kind of reaction will it get on Capitol Hill? I wouldn’t expect many flotilla-related fireworks (perhaps, though a daunting thought, in the Mediterranean, where another aid ship might be reaching Gaza). The House and Senate will both both be on recess until  July 11. Not that Congress would be likely to take it up even if they were in session, given what is sure to be a credulous reading of a softball report.

Speaking of the IDF report, the Israeli MFA annoucement — a reprint of  of an IDF release where “team leader” Maj. Gen. Eiland’s name seems to be misspelled (“Island”) — was curiously ambiguous about what they were calling the inquiry into the IDF operation. (A late-breaking update: a second inquiry, on non-military matters and part international, is now being reported in the media.) The “team of experts” is going to “examine the flotilla operation and establish lessons from the event.” Establish lessons, huh? Like not making obvious, misleading edits in footage and audio put on the IDF YouTube channel for Max Blumenthal to pick apart?

The last graf of the communique really made we wonder about the careful phrasing when it drew a distinction betwen a “team of experts” and an “investigative team” and, in the second sentence, seems to distinguish between “examinations” and “investigations”:

A team of experts differs from an investigative team in that it is made up of a group of professionals with expertise on the matter, and were not a part of the operational chain of command during this specific incident. The IDF carries out examinations and investigations of various operations and exercises of this kind routinely and following Operation Cast Lead.

I don’t want to get into Talmudic parsings here, but even Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, rejecting an international investigation on Fox News Sunday, spoke about the flotilla incident only as an “inquiry,” and used the term “investigations” only in the context of Israel’s broader (theoretical) capability to do one.

I called the Embassy to ask about any other differences between the two types of ‘inquiries’ — if that’s the umbrella term of art — or whether it’s just bureaucratic speak. The press office there was unaware of the release, and a young-sounding man who answered referred me to the MFA in Israel (closed for the night), then got in a huff when I asked for his name.

Aaron, as the receptionist addressed the man just before transferring the call, then insisted that what he’d told me — simply that he didn’t know, but the distinction wasn’t apparent from what I read to him — was retroactively off the record. I explained politely to Aaron that when a press office gets a call from a reporter who identifies himself as such, the conversation is on the record until it’s not so by mutual agreement of the reporter and the source. “Thank you for the lecture,” Aaron graciously said as we politely gave our goodbyes and thank-yous.

Come to think of it, based on the apparently poor press-room training and when even the New York Times’s The Lede (to the credit of blogger Robert Mackey) is cataloguing mistakes, mischaracterizations, and falsehoods from official public relations channels, perhaps the Israeli spin-machine isn’t so great after all. But they’ve sure got the U.S. calendar memorized, so stay up on the list of federal holidays and keep your eyes peeled. I wonder what Americans won’t read about the Middle East when they emerge from a food coma the morning after Thanksgiving.

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Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.



  1. “…perhaps the Israeli spin-machine isn’t so great after all.”

    Hate to say it but it appears to be fairly effective. I suggested on a local web site that there were problems with the Israeli narrative, that these people should read guys like Lobe and Greenwald. Those are anti-semites I was cleverly dismissed, I am the real tool, thinking I am brushing against the establishment.

    They’ve heard it all. The Israeli’s were just eager to forward all aid to the Gazans; that’s what they do. This blockade abets terror. They didn’t need to check Ken O’Keefe’s photos, that idiot was skeptical about war with Saddam, pansy.

    I suggested that the debate here for decades has reflected the narrow turf of the Likud party, that Israel itself is far more open to debate. No, while admittedly there were liberals in Israel, Israeli life is such that they are all conservatives–the liberals in Israel aren’t real–they aren’t really a viable voice. See what I did there? Sure, the range is broad, but only uninformed insulated Israelis are liberal, all those others are Likud hawks. Hence, the only real perspective from Israel is the right.

    Oh yeah, those Palestinians are all Arabs. The Christians are all sympathetic with Israel. Not those Liberal Christian Americans but you know, the Bible supports Israel. The Sabeel center doesn’t represent Christian perspectives–come on, Christians and Muslims in common cause.

    Everyone knows that Islam and Judaism are SO different–one group wants no pork in their country, monotheism and no religious idols, and then the other wants no pork in their country, monotheism and no religious idols. Christians and Jews are the natural allies. Trinitarians, who take an unbalanced dude’s dream as dismissal of pork restrictions, who love iconography of their “Lord” killed by Jews, or at least Jewish Talmudic parsing of a simple childlike faith. Jews killed, or abetted the murder of their baby Lord, and Christians have been trying to erase any enmity ever since; but no one ever found a final solution.

  2. “I don’t want to get into Talmudic parsings”(lol); but I will say that was a fine article, Scott…

  3. Sorry(geez)- I will say that was a fine article, Ali…

  4. RE: “I wonder what Americans won’t read about the Middle East when they emerge from a food coma the morning after Thanksgiving.” – Ali Gharib
    MY GUESS: Sumpin ’bout Eye-ran, I ‘spose. ‘Cause they gots to hurry up an get demselves to duh mall fo da big sales. Not even ‘nuf time to watch Fox News on duh big flat screen TV!

  5. pls understand that july 4th has a subconcious narrative, futher persecution of the chosen people, on july 4th 1976 the only kia on the tarmac of entebee airport was the brother of the present israeli prime minister, jonathan netanyahu. so as the kevlar shawl of zionism blankets the pseudo- democracy disregard TRUTH(it has become that which is traded on foreign exchanges),seek the ESSENCE. if the world worships gelt calves give them heretics!:)

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