It is clear to anyone with eyes in their head that the battle taking place off the Gaza shore is in fact a clash between an Islamist coalition which Turkey attempts to head – and which includes Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah on one hand – and forces with a liberal Western orientation, represented by Israel, on the other hand.
This fight isn’t about Gaza. The battle is about the future of the Middle East: Will it be a future where the existing political order is maintained, or will radical Islamic forces rise and replace the current order, as already happened in Lebanon and in Turkey.
The sail to Gaza is merely one event in this struggle of titans. If Israel wanted to stop the flotilla, it could have done it more elegantly – for example, by sabotaging the ships underwater. Another possibility was to block their path while declaring that only Gilad Shalit’s release will allow the vessels to continue. This way, Israel would have shifted this hot potato to Hamas.
Yet even such success would not have prompted a victory in respect to the big question: Who is the master of this region? It appears that Israel chose to tell the Islamisizing Turkey, which is ruled by a group that is ideologically identical to Hamas – no more. The forces of the Ottoman Empire, who aspire to again rule the Middle East as they did almost 500 years ago, will be stopped at Gaza’s shores.
The time has come to tell those who live near and far that this battle is not just about the Middle East; rather, it is a fight for the face of this world. At this time, Israel is located at a frontal outpost, where it fights the war of the enlightened, liberal, pluralist, open, and democratic world – in the huge struggle against the Islamic forces that threaten to take over the world and subjugate it to their green flag.
Dr. Mordechai Keder, the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University