Reasons not to jump the gun . . .
As is sometimes observed, "Truth is the first casualty of news." When the news about Israel's attack on the Gaza Flotilla was first reported, I knew that the story would eventually get more complex, that it would not be a simple black-and-white incident, that the peace activists would soon appear not so peaceful. Here's what Michael B. Oren had to say recently in the New York Times:
Millions have already seen the Al Jazeera broadcast showing these "activists" chanting "Khaibar! Khaibar!" -- a reference to a Muslim massacre of Jews in the Arabian peninsula in the seventh century. YouTube viewers saw Israeli troops, armed with crowd-dispersing paintball guns and side arms for emergency protection, being beaten and hurled over the railings of the ship by attackers wielding iron bars.I have, in fact, seen the You Tube videos cited by Mr. Oren, particularly the one made available by the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) showing the activists very actively attacking the IDF commandos as the board one of the ships, the Mavi Marmara. These particular peace activists were not especially peaceful, and I have also seen the other photos and videos at a website maintained by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And, of course, there's the continually updated account at Wikipedia.
What the videos don't show, however, are several curious aspects Israeli authorities are now investigating. First, about 100 of those detained from the boats were carrying immense sums in their pockets -- nearly a million euros in total. Second, Israel discovered spent bullet cartridges on the Mavi Marmara that are of a caliber not used by the Israeli commandos, some of whom suffered gunshot wounds. Also found on the boat were propaganda clips showing passengers "injured" by Israeli forces; these videos, however, were filmed during daylight, hours before the nighttime operation occurred.
What's missing for me so far is a clear account of the sequence in which the events transpired. The videos show the IDF commandos being attacked, but still unclear to me is precisely why the activists attacked.
Mr. Oren's account of "propaganda clips showing passengers 'injured' by Israeli forces . . . [as having been] filmed during daylight, hours before the nighttime operation occurred," will need to be confirmed, but if true, these imply that the violence on the activists' part was premeditated.
Mr. Oren, of course, is hardly a neutral source of information, given that he is Israel's ambassador to the United States and is writing an op-ed piece titled "An Assault, Cloaked in Peace," so I'm still waiting for a more authoritative account.
I've seen no evidence, incidentally, that the flotilla was carrying any missiles, whatever the image above might otherwise imply.
At any rate, such cases as this one offer reasons for treating initial reports with a grain of salt and thus explain why Gypsy Scholar never jumps the gun and therefore never officialy reacts to news.