Watching the "international community" rush to pour condemnation upon Israel once again, for having the temerity to defend itself, is deeply depressing. I should surely be writing a lot more about the Arab-Israeli conflict, tirelessly battling to banish the falshehoods and prejudices against the Jewish state that are so prevalent among bien-pensants, particularly in Europe. But I'm too tired; really just very tired.
Here's a drop in the bucket, a shovelful of seaweed against the tide a few facts about the most recent episode:
- The organisation that controls Gaza, Hamas, is waging a war of annihilation against Israel. They have categorically rejected any peace talks, or the possibility of any negotiated peace, while firing tens of thousands of explosive rockets into Israeli population centres. (This is what tiny Israel lives with right on its border. And this is what the Palestinians have done with territory when the Israelis unconditionally gave it back to them.)
- Both Israel and Egypt have instituted a blockade of Gaza, to prevent the shipping in of weapons and explosives that will be used by Hamas to murder Jews.
- Humanitarian relief is delivered to Gaza from Israel everyday. During the first three months of this year alone, 94,500 tons of it. That's pretty good service for people who have pledged to destroy you.
- One of the organisers of the flotilla is IHH, a Turkish Islamist humanitarian organisation which also has ties to Hamas, al-Qaeda, and other global jihadist networks.
- The Israeli government asked the organizers of the flotilla to deliver it to an Israeli port where it would be inspected for weapons before being forwarded to Gaza. The organizers refused. "There are two possible happy endings," a Muslim activist on board explained, "either we will reach Gaza or we will achieve martyrdom."
- When the flotilla ignored multiple instructions from Israeli navy ships to change course, Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara and were assaulted and beaten with metal poles, baseball bats, and knives. Here's that (if you haven't already seen it):
Amusing side-note: one of the Israeli soldiers is almost definitely wielding a paintball gun (these are sometimes loaded with rubber balls as a non-lethal weapon by military and law enforcement) look for it at about 1:02.
- That the "activists" intended precisely this result a PR coup, with the "international community" and the world media falling right into line is not fact, but speculation. But it's probably a fact that if you run a blockade and then try to beat to death the armed men enforcing the blockade, you're very likely to get shot.
So, yesterday, once again, I had to read four-inch-type headlines in the Guardian and the Independent about how "World Rushes to Condemn Israel" in response to which I note that: A) That was the weight of their argument: if the world condemns them, they must be utterly contemptible how could "the world" be wrong? and B) What else is new?
Would it be better if this had played out another way, without violence? Of course. People are hurt and dead. Israel is once again villified. And the Muslim state that least wanted to see all the Jews driven into the sea, Turkey, has been alienated. Another sad day all around. (Unless you're Hamas. Great day if you're Hamas.)
Replies and rebuttals very welcome in the Comments section (I'm lookin' at you, Barney…)
Late Morning Update
I took a risk by forwarding this to my colleague Mark Russell, who is quite pro-Palestinian a risk, because the last thing you want is a violent political disagreement at work. He ended up saying an enormous number of things that I thought were extremely fair, and we agreed on a huge number of points most of all that this is just depressing and sad, that this conflict just goes on and on.
I'm nearly weepingly grateful to achieve such concord because, as I've noted before, the stark, intractable disagreement (frequently amongst very smart, moral people) on so many profoundly moral issues in the last however many years, leaves me feeling like there's no hope for us (i.e., if smart, moral people can't get off of such totally different sides of important moral issues).
Secondly, agreeing that this was depressing reminded me that I've actually been meaning to post about some really very hopeful articles I've been seeing recently about a growing non-violent protest movement in the occupied territories. Here's one:
Mr Abu Mariya organises protests [including sit-downs] in Beit Omar, a town on the West Bank, against Israelís appropriation of land for settlements and security walls that can cut through Palestinian farms and hurt the villagersí livelihood…
The quiet that the PA has preserved since Israel crushed the Palestiniansí second intifada (uprising) some four years ago and has given [Palestinian PM] Mr Fayyad the space to start building a state from the bottom up…
The cityís billboards, once covered in portraits of "martyred" fighters, including suicide-bombers, now sport advertisements for fancy shops. As the influence of Islamist radicals wanes, more girls have shed their veils…
Non-violent protest is more effective… Though not yet a mass movement, Mr Abu Mariya has mobilised unarmed female, international and Israeli sympathisers, including his wife, a Jewish-American…
Bolstered by people power, such protests have had an effect. In Bilin, Budrus and other spots along Israelís barrier that takes bites out of Palestinian territory in the West Bank, they may have helped persuade Israelís courts to push the West Bank barrier closer to the boundary that existed before the war of 1967…
The Palestinians still have a long way to go before they build a state. But Mr Fayyad has made a fair start.
Would that we could read a lot more stories like this one.