I wasn't going to write about what has happened off the Israeli coast, because I am tired of writing about the Middle East and then having the blog infested by dogmatic nutters from both sides of the argument. However, as I had to talk about it on the Sky News paper review, here goes. This will have to be very brief as I am preparing for my interview with Alastair Campbell this morning.
When I was presenting on LBC yesterday the protests in Whitehall started while the programme was on air. We took a call from one of the protesters who proved to be very eloquent. This sparked off a huge number of calls into the programme from protagonists from both sides. One accused LBC of being anti Israel in its news bulletins. I had to point out to him that Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev had featured in every news bulletin. We then had a call from Yasmin (no, not that one) who ranted and raved about Israel and how terrible it was. I asked if she thought Israel had a right to exist and answer came there none. Even after I asked four times.
As readers know, I am an instinctive supporter of Israel, but I am not a blind supporter. It is clear to anyone that there this operation was botched. It shouldn't have taken place in international waters and there was clearly a lack of intelligence about what might happen when the commandos boarded the boat. There are questions as to whether live ammunition had to be used rather than stun guns. Allegations of disproportionate force are being made, as they always are whenever Israel does anything.
On the other side, it is a bit off for so-called peace activists to try to beat to death and drown Israeli commandos. The video showed on TV last night shows beyond doubt that the "peace protesters" were armed and only too willing to use violence to a sickening degree.
The Israelis had also given the flotilla many warnings not to proceed but they were ignored.
Was this flotilla as innocent as it made out? Might it have taken on weapons to smuggle into Gaza during its trip? Who knows. What we do know is that the "peace protesters" were singing intifada songs as they left port.
The short term consequences of this action are clear. Israel will be found guilty in the court of international opinion. Does the Israeli government give a toss about that? Probably not. What gets lost in all this is why the Israelis are intent on continuing the Gaza blockade. It's because more than 8,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza into southern Israel and it is therefore hardly surprising that that Israelis want, at all costs, to prevent any weaponry getting into Gaza. But they have been singularly unsuccessful so far.
The long term consequences are far more serious. Israel may now become even more isolated as even friendly governments lose patience. Their PR effort has been a disaster. The fact that William Hague, always a supporter of Israel, has made a thinly veiled attack says a lot. Turkey, formally Israeli's greatest ally in the region, is furious and has withdrawn its ambassador. Although many Arab governments in the region secretly support Israel's hard line against Hamas, they will be appalled by this incident.
There now needs to be a concerted effort to get the two sides talking again. It won't happen for many months. And there is only one man who can bring this about - Barack Obama.
Finally, whatever propensities I have to support Israel, the key point which makes me critical of this incident is this. If a peace flotilla had been making its way to the Iranian coast and it had been boarded by the Revolutionary Guard and people had been shot dead, I and many other supporters of Israel would be spitting blood in outrage.
So that's why I can't man the barricades and automatically jump to Israel's defence here. Sometimes Israel makes life very difficult for even its most ardent supporters.