The four-member United Nations panel appointed to investigate the May 31 Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara which killed 9 people is scheduled to have its first meeting today. An August 3 AFP article noting the “surprising U-turn from the Israelis” in deciding to support the flotilla probe—a rare instance of Israeli cooperation with the U.N.—fails to note that the U-turn is perhaps not so surprising given the appointment as panel Vice Chairman of outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, whose expertise in the realm of security will thus not be lost with the end of his presidential term.
Israel and Colombia have been plagued with similar security challenges for decades, such as how to portray victims as aggressors in order to acquire land—although Colombian territorial entitlement admittedly lacks biblical endorsement. Past Israeli training of Colombian death squads may have contributed to current Colombian creativity in retroactively justifying massacres; starting in 2008, for example, it was revealed that the members of the Colombian army had—reportedly in thousands of instances—murdered civilians and then disguised them as guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in order to receive bonuses and additional vacation time. Israeli creativity in the aftermath of the May flotilla massacre meanwhile included Foreign Ministry Flickr postings of photographs of kitchen knives and marbles and declarations that a weapons cache had been found on board the Mavi Marmara, underscoring Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s claim that the humanitarian activists on the ship in fact had ties to “global jihad.”
As for ways of injecting a bit of creativity into the flotilla probe, these might include a confirmation of reports that the FARC is also tied to global jihad—a straightforward conclusion given the combination of recent Colombian hyperventilation about the alleged Venezuelan harboring of FARC guerrillas and Danny Ayalon’s alarm last year over the existence of commercial airline flights between Caracas and Tehran. Evidence could additionally be retrieved from the alleged FARC laptops that were captured in Colombia’s deadly 2008 raid into Ecuador and that have been used to confirm FARC links to whomever is deemed in need of them, such as Honduran politicians opposed to illegal coups d’état.
Alternatively, Daniel Sierra Martínez—alias “Samir”, a former FARC commander who has been exonerated in exchange for confirming FARC ties to the Colombian peace community of San José de Apartadó in order to justify continued military and paramilitary violence against its inhabitants—could presumably be called upon to confirm the Arabic origins of his alias.
Global jihad aside, Uribe already sees eye-to-eye with the Israelis on a sufficient number of issues to discredit the flotilla probe as an impartial endeavor. Of specific concern are the shared notions that human rights organizations can provide fronts for terrorists, that things lying outside one’s own border—such as trees, international waters, and Ecuador— can still fall under one’s jurisdiction, and that sporadic perfunctory chiding by the United States government will generally be followed by U.S. reaffirmations of Israeli and Colombian commitments to democracy. As for Israeli territorial encroachments in places other than the high seas, such as during assassination attempts ordered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the impartiality of the flotilla probe is further called into question by the biographical summary in Haaretz of the Israeli representative to the U.N. panel, former Foreign Ministry official Joseph Ciechanover:
In 1997, Ciechanover headed the committee that investigated the failed assassination attempt in Jordan against senior Hamas official Khaled Meshal. The panel determined that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, then in his first term, had acted appropriately in connection with the incident.”