WaPo's belated, grudging report on Israel's success against Gaza flotilla

Leo Rennert
Reading Jerusalem correspondent Joel Greenberg's  article in the Monday, July 4, edition of the Washington Post about Israel's  success in getting Greece to stymie the Gaza flotilla,  I had two  reactions: What took the Post so long? and better late than never.

But after reading  Greenberg's entire catch-up article, I also find that it's still incomplete in many important respects.

First the timing:  Greek naval commandos took control of one of the flotilla ships, the U.S. Audacity of Hope, on Friday and forced it back to Greece.  It would be normal journalism for  the correspondent of a daily newspaper to report this -- and its many ramifications -- the next day, in the Saturday edition.  It didn't happen.  Well, at least then in the Sunday edition.  That didn't happen either.   Greenberg  skipped two full news cycles before weighing in with a Monday piece.   ('As Gaza flotilla stalls, Israel hails ''success'' -- Repeat of Deadly 2010 Clashes Averted' page A6).  That's shortchanging Post readers who expect timely news, not warmed over news.

And even when you Greenberg  finally digs  to report Israel's diplomatic success in getting Greece to blunt the flotilla's objective to breach Israel's blockade,  the Post and Greenberg put Israel's "success" between quotation marks -- a signal to readers that  they might not share in this assessment.

Then there are the things  Greenberg still  isn't reporting.  While  he writes that Greece arrested the skipper of the Audacity of Hope, he  fails to mention that he faces criminal charges of endangering his passengers and violating Greece's ban against any vessels seeking to depart for Gaza.  Nor does he report that his first hearing won't be until tomorrow, July 5, so he'll be incarcerated over the Fourth of July.

Even more importantly, he still doesn't  report that the Obama administration warned the skipper and his passengers that they also could face criminal charges in the U.S. for violating American laws prohibiting support of a terrorist organization -- in this instance, Hamas, which rules Gaza.

Nor does he take note of the fact that the international Quartet -- the U.S., the EU, the UN and Russia -- issued a statement strongly discouraging any and all Gaza flotillas because they may provoke violent confrontations -- and unnecessary confrontations to boot since Gaza gets ample shipments of consumer products via Israel and Egypt.   Also taking Israel's side against the flotilla organizers were Australia and Canada.

Then, he fails  to report Greece's Sunday offer of a compromise that would have Greece ship any legitimate aid aboard the flotilla to Gaza via normal channels -- i.e. via land crossings from Egypt or Israel.  And that this offer was roundly rejected by the flotilla organizers who finally admitted that they weren't on any humanitarian mission, but instead were and still are intent on breaching Israel's sea blockade.

What all this makes quite evident is that the cliché Greenberg  and others have disseminated about Israel's supposed isolation on the world stage bears no relationship to reality.  Certainly in this instance, Israel had plenty of company, while it was the flotilla organizers who were isolated.

All in all, I 'm still left to wonder what took  Greenberg so long to even produce an incomplete piece and to have it published only after some Post readers made him and his editors aware of  his dereliction of journalistic duty to get things on time and in full, proper perspective.  As for better late than never -- well, that would be a bit too generous.

Reading Jerusalem correspondent Joel Greenberg's  article in the Monday, July 4, edition of the Washington Post about Israel's  success in getting Greece to stymie the Gaza flotilla,  I had two  reactions: What took the Post so long? and better late than never.

But after reading  Greenberg's entire catch-up article, I also find that it's still incomplete in many important respects.

First the timing:  Greek naval commandos took control of one of the flotilla ships, the U.S. Audacity of Hope, on Friday and forced it back to Greece.  It would be normal journalism for  the correspondent of a daily newspaper to report this -- and its many ramifications -- the next day, in the Saturday edition.  It didn't happen.  Well, at least then in the Sunday edition.  That didn't happen either.   Greenberg  skipped two full news cycles before weighing in with a Monday piece.   ('As Gaza flotilla stalls, Israel hails ''success'' -- Repeat of Deadly 2010 Clashes Averted' page A6).  That's shortchanging Post readers who expect timely news, not warmed over news.

And even when you Greenberg  finally digs  to report Israel's diplomatic success in getting Greece to blunt the flotilla's objective to breach Israel's blockade,  the Post and Greenberg put Israel's "success" between quotation marks -- a signal to readers that  they might not share in this assessment.

Then there are the things  Greenberg still  isn't reporting.  While  he writes that Greece arrested the skipper of the Audacity of Hope, he  fails to mention that he faces criminal charges of endangering his passengers and violating Greece's ban against any vessels seeking to depart for Gaza.  Nor does he report that his first hearing won't be until tomorrow, July 5, so he'll be incarcerated over the Fourth of July.

Even more importantly, he still doesn't  report that the Obama administration warned the skipper and his passengers that they also could face criminal charges in the U.S. for violating American laws prohibiting support of a terrorist organization -- in this instance, Hamas, which rules Gaza.

Nor does he take note of the fact that the international Quartet -- the U.S., the EU, the UN and Russia -- issued a statement strongly discouraging any and all Gaza flotillas because they may provoke violent confrontations -- and unnecessary confrontations to boot since Gaza gets ample shipments of consumer products via Israel and Egypt.   Also taking Israel's side against the flotilla organizers were Australia and Canada.

Then, he fails  to report Greece's Sunday offer of a compromise that would have Greece ship any legitimate aid aboard the flotilla to Gaza via normal channels -- i.e. via land crossings from Egypt or Israel.  And that this offer was roundly rejected by the flotilla organizers who finally admitted that they weren't on any humanitarian mission, but instead were and still are intent on breaching Israel's sea blockade.

What all this makes quite evident is that the cliché Greenberg  and others have disseminated about Israel's supposed isolation on the world stage bears no relationship to reality.  Certainly in this instance, Israel had plenty of company, while it was the flotilla organizers who were isolated.

All in all, I 'm still left to wonder what took  Greenberg so long to even produce an incomplete piece and to have it published only after some Post readers made him and his editors aware of  his dereliction of journalistic duty to get things on time and in full, proper perspective.  As for better late than never -- well, that would be a bit too generous.