You may recall that every now and then we take word processor in hand to comment on some idiocy disguised as news, whereby the press waxes wroth over what is supposed to be some exotic atrocity in Israel – usually involving land-use laws – but it turns out that what they do over there is no different than what we do over here under similar circumstances. So tighten your seat belts, folks — here we go again. Now, it’s that Gaza “flotilla” business.
In case you haven’t been with us lately, it seems that a group of Turkey-based Hamas sympathizers decided to make hay out of the Gaza situation by launching a flotilla of small vessels said to be taking humanitarian aid to “occupied” Gaza. Why the quotation marks? Because contrary to what you may have been told, there is no occupation of Gaza – Israel withdrew unilaterally several years ago, and the place is run by Arabs who elected the terrorist group Hamas as its government. And there is no “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza either. All sorts of goods, including foodstuffs and medical supplies are regularly shipped into Gaza from Israel. Which is probably the only time in history where support is being provided to a government entity that wages a de facto war on those who supply it with food. And war it is. The Gaza-based Hamas troops have been regularly firing rockets and mortars into Israel, and are doing so now. The weird part of it is that, actually, there has been a blockade of Gaza, but not by Israel — it has been imposed by Egypt, so naturally, you don’t hear much about that.
It’s clear that what the Israelis must do is to keep weapons out of Gaza. And though in the past the Israel Navy has intercepted several armaments-laden ships headed for Gaza, the Hamas lads have been able to smuggle in thousands of rockets which, as noted, they persist in firing into Israel. So it would seem no more than a reasonable precaution for the Israelis to insist that any Gaza-bound ships be inspected for weapons.
But the “flotilla” organizers decided to use this process for propaganda purposes. They announced that they would not submit to an Israeli naval inspection, and would sail directly into Gaza instead off putting into the nearby Israeli port of Ashdod, where the cargo would be inspected and then shipped to its intended Gaza destination. When the flotilla folks announced that they would ignore the inspection requirement, Israel sent out naval vessels to blockade the “flotilla,” and to board its ships. You know the rest from recent news reports. Most of the flotilla vessels were boarded by Israeli Marines more or less uneventfully, and then diverted to Ashdod where their cargo was inspected, and transshipped to Gaza. But the folks on the largest flotilla vessel, a Turkish ferry named Avi Marmara, decided to ambush the Israeli Marines boarding their ship, and attack them they did.
This time, the Israelis videotaped the incident, so you can go to the Internet and see the whole kerfuffle for yourself — compleat with the “peace activists” arming themselves and assaulting the Israelis with clubs. If anything, the Israelis were too restrained for their own good. You don’t think so? Just look at those videos, or better yet ask an experienced U.S. Marine what he thinks about having to board a hostile vessel full of club-wielding foes, while armed only with a paintball gun – no, we are not making that up – and a sidearm to be used only in a life-threatening emergency.
We could dwell on all this at length, but we won’t. The bottom line here is that, when attacked by an angry mob armed with of clubs and knives, the Israeli Marines exercised saintly restraint, and did not fire until after several of them had been overwhelmed and wounded. So it seems reasonable to ask: what would we have done under similar circumstances?
You may want to reflect on the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Our government tumbled on to the fact that the Soviets, with whom we were not at war at the time, had begun shipping missiles into Cuba with the intention of setting up a missile base capable of firing into the United States. Our response was to send out the U.S. Navy, blockade Cuba with whom we were not at war either, and demand that Soviet ships approaching it submit to an inspection for weapons. When confronted, the Soviet ships sensibly turned around and went home. Why? Because we made it clear that we would not tolerate any nonsense. Period. JFK made it clear in his speech that introduction of Soviet missiles into Cuba, and certainly their use against the United States or any of our allies would be viewed by us as an act of war justifying full U.S. retaliation. Nikita Khrushchev may have been a blowhard, but he was no fool and he got the message.
So it seems clear that if there is anybody in the world who lacks any moral standing to criticize Israel for blockading Gaza and doing its best to keep weapons from the Hamas terrorists – weapons that Hamas is even now firing into Israel — it is the United States. It is equally clear that what was good for us in 1962 is good for Israel in 2010. Can you imagine what would have happened back then if some hot-headed Cubans started firing short-range missiles into South Florida? Do you think we would have just tolerated it? So why would we want to ask Israel to do so?
The moral of this story is that, once again, we are witnessing an anti-Israel propaganda campaign, according to which you are supposed to believe what the Arab propagandists and their friends have to say, and to disbelieve your own lying eyes. According to these folks, the Arabs have the right to make war on Israel but Israel has no right to defend itself – not even by using non-violent means of keeping arms out of the hands of its enemies.
So perhaps it’s time for the Israelis to tell their hypocritical critics to stick it, and then go about the business of protecting their citizens from lethal aggression by any means that are appropriate to the situation—whether “proportional” or not. We Americans sure weren’t into proportionality when we incinerated Hamburg and Tokyo – to say nothing about Hiroshima and Nagasaki – in response to the Axis aggression in World War II.
Israel is facing an existential threat by bloodthirsty enemies who on a daily basis threaten to destroy it and exterminate its people. They, the same as we, are entitled to nothing less than an effective defense. And if you are into that “proportionality” stuff, you should be complimenting, not criticizing, those Israeli Marines for their saintly restraint when they found themselves in harm’s way.
Interesting follow-up. Inasmuch as the Avi Marmara is a Turkish-flag ship, and inasmuch as Turkey has been throwing a conniption fit over these events, it may be a good idea to reflect on the fact that in 1974 Turkish troops invaded Cyprus, seized its northern part, and have been occupying it ever since. So if the Turks are so persnickety about the “occupation” in the case of Gaza, maybe they should start worrying about their own occupation of Cyprus. After all, principled consistency of purpose should begin at home. See Rachel Donado and Alan Cowell, In Visit by Pope, Religious and Political Leaders in Cyprus Fiercely Critcize Turkey, N.Y. Times, June 5, 2010, at p. A6.
Second follow up. Today is June 16th. Have you wondered what happened to the stuff brought in by the flotilla? So have we. It turns out that the cargo was unloaded by the Israelis in the port of Ashdot, inspected and taken to Gaza. But guess what? The Hamas lads who run Gaza have refused to allow it to come in. The packaged cargo is sitting there, waiting for… We don’t know what it’s waiting for, but it is clear that the objects of all this humanitarian fervor have not been benfited because the Arabs — not Israel — won’t allow these goods into Gaza. So much for sweet charity.