June 3, 2010 -- Israel is involved in another public relations mess. But even a superficial look at the incident at sea off Gaza shows that the real mess is in the morality of the public and world leaders who can’t keep straight the difference between the savage and the civilized.
Three ships under Turkish flags carrying some 600 self-styled pro-Palestinian activists sailed from Cyprus to deliver what they said was humanitarian aid to the 1.5 million people in the Gaza Strip. The real goal, however, was to break Israel’s and Egypt’s blockade of Gaza and make a public relations point. The agents provocateurs made sure news organizations were aware of their efforts. They posted Youtube videos showing the ships laden with food. They put out PR that they were peacefully trying to relieve Palestinians made miserable by Israel.
Let’s acknowledge that Israel walked right into the PR setup. It dropped commandos from helicopters onto the decks of the ships to prevent them landing. It should have anticipated what was clearly seen on their night-vision videos of the incident: passengers seized commandos, beat them, threw them off the deck, and threatened their lives. Of course those commandos’ comrades would fire on those passengers. Unfortunately, nine were killed in the melee.
The pro-Palestinians no doubt were thrilled that the flotilla ploy turned out better for them than they could have imagined. Instead of news photos of the "peace" ships being waved back out to sea by Israeli forces off Gaza, they got video broadcast worldwide of wounded passengers, of nine coffins, and of grieving families. The leftist media could show Israelis as callous killers. (The footage of the commandos being attacked on the ships could be downplayed and, after all, that’s what Israelis get for trying to stop the forces of "peace").
Angry demonstrations against Israel erupted throughout Europe. Leaders in those countries and elsewhere denounced Israeli brutality. Turkey, Israel’s closest friend in the Muslim world, recalled its ambassador.
But if we view this incident in its full context, we see that it is the so-called "peace" activists and the denouncers of Israel who are the true moral midgets.
Why was Israel blockading Gaza to begin with? Israeli troops had occupied Gaza for decades to prevent it from being used as a base for the periodic wars launched by Arab nations seeking the country’s destruction. Finally, in 2005, Israel pulled out its troops.
Why was Israel blockading Gaza?
One would have thought that the Palestinians in Gaza, who always blamed the Israelis for all their woes, would have taken up productive lives to work themselves out of grueling poverty, to educate their children, to rebuild their city, and to generally do what civilized people do. But they were not civilized.
Instead Hamas, an Islamist terrorist group, after a power struggle with other Palestinian factions, took control. A principal goal of Hamas is to destroy Israel. Its 1988 charter states, supposedly quoting the prophet Mohammad, "The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him." Hamas began training Gaza residents, including children, to fight the Jews.
Of course, there is much support for Hamas in Gaza, which has one of the morally sickest cultures in the world. These are people who see it as a high act of religious piety for their own children to strap explosives to themselves in order to butcher the children of Israelis. They even celebrate their own children’s deaths in the commission of such murders.
Israel began a blockage, which was followed by Hamas raids into Israel. Soon Hamas was launching thousands of rockets, many supplied by Islamist allies in Iran and Syria, into Israel with the goal of randomly killing civilians.
Israel sent the military back in to clean out as much of the mess as possible. And it rightly tightened the blockade on Gaza to keep Hamas from being resupplied.
But let’s look at the real picture and what a real rescue for the Palestinians in Gaza would mean.
Where was the flotilla of hundreds of pro-Palestinians heading to Gaza in 2005 after Israel’s evacuation, to work with the locals for peace and prosperity, to make sure they did not support or fall into the hands of the Hamas killers who now rule Gaza with a brutal fist? Why aren’t these supposed friends of the Palestinians working with other governments and activist groups today against Iran and Syria, who back Hamas, and even working with Israel, to overthrow Hamas? The answer, of course, reveals the true moral nature of those Palestinian supporters.
We might also ask why there were no huge crowds in the capitals of Europe to protest the Hamas rockets fired at Israel, to denounce Islamist savagery, and to work for the overthrow of Hamas? And why do we hear the usual knee-jerk denunciations of Israel over the flotilla incident rather than a denunciation of the cynical, pro-Palestinian and, let’s be clear here, pro-Islamist flotilla?
It is rightly said that Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, specifically for a peaceful settlement of their differences with Israel. The supposed peace flotilla did not promote peace but simply soured relations with Israel further. It fed the Palestinians a continued diet of hate, helping to make their lives as miserable in the future as they’ve been in the past.
Israel might have been tragically sloppy in its operation to search the flotilla ships. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that more dangerous than any weapons those ships might have been smuggling is the moral pollution they smuggle into our world.
Israel does allow humanitarian aid into Gaza but reserves the right to check cargos for weapons and other contraband. And when the pro-Palestinian flotilla headed for Gaza, Israel offered to work out some arrangement in order to get the legitimate aid into Gaza, after the ships were searched for weapons. Of course, that would not have made very good anti-Israel propaganda, which is why the flotilla organizers ignored the offer.
Edward Hudgins is research director at the Heartland Institute and former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society.