What happened on board the ships heading for Gaza this weekend? The facts that ships were boarded by Israeli soldiers, and lives were lost, seem real enough. But watch how easily these facts can be presented to fit one or another pre-determined narrative. Look: a flotilla of ships in international waters carrying humanitarian aid to needy people, is attacked by armed Israeli commandos, who proceed to murder innocent passengers. Look again: Ships are sent to Gaza on a clear mission to break the blockade. Israel warns them not to approach, and boards the ships peacefully, whereupon its soldiers immediately are set upon with sticks and knives and forced to defend themselves. Under either scenario, it is a tragic and horrifying story. What is amazing is how quickly people choose which narrative to follow, depending on their previous sympathies.
Do we even care to find out what really happened? Do we understand the extent to which events like these are staged to inflame passions?
Rather than allowing our passions to take over, and our sense of outrage to be triggered, would it not make more sense to withhold judgment until we know the facts? And even after we are in a position to render a judgment, would it not make sense to concentrate our greatest attention on solving the problem of Gaza, and ending the violence?
It isn't even hard to tell both sides how to solve the larger problems that have led to this incident. Israel needs to end the blockade. Hamas needs to recognize the right of the State of Israel to exist, and renounce its campaign of violence against Israel. One is not likely to happen without the other. The only good that can come out of blockade-running and violence is if such an event provokes people to say "Enough!" Time to sit down and make these changes happen.