The recent class between Israeli commandos and Muslim and other activists aboard the Turkish flagged ship the Mavi Marmara seeking to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza and bring humanitarian aid to the over one million Gazans trapped in the madness of Hamas hatred and Israeli fear is yet another example of how painful and confusing the situation in the Middle East is.
Let me very clear: First, Israel has every right to exist, and any organization that seeks to undermine that right is an enemy not only of Israel and the Jewish people, but of all people devoted to justice anywhere.
Second, to be pro-Israel doesn’t require you to be anti-Palestinian, and to be pro-Palestinian doesn’t require you to be anti-Israel. Support of the two-state solution requires you to be in favor of the liberation and self-determination of both Israelis and Palestinians. Only when both sides win, can either side win.
Third, while I understand the reason for the three-year-old Israeli blockade, I do not think it is effective. And allowing herself to be the face of oppression in the eyes of millions of Muslims in Gaza, Palestine, and around the Islamic world is just stupid. And while it is true that Israel does allow some aid to enter Gaza, it is also true that Israel is following a policy based on the erroneous idea that crushing the Gazan people economically will somehow cause them to rise up and crush Hamas politically. This will not work. It only hardens the loyalty of the people to their oppressors by allowing the oppressor to shift the blame for oppression to others. Gazans will only overturn Hamas when they see Hamas rather than Israel as their true oppressor. And neither Hamas nor the current Israeli government seems eager to let this happen.
Fourth, the purpose of the flotilla was to provoke confrontation. Israel told the flotilla leaders that it would allow the humanitarian aid to enter Gaza if the ships would come to an Israeli port for inspection. Israel wanted to be certain that the cargo going into Gaza was indeed humanitarian and not military. The flotilla leaders refused. Further, film from Al Jazeera provided by Act! for America shows pockets of activists chanting anti-Jewish rhetoric from the Koran, and the fact that the activists attacked Israelis with metal pipes, knives, and clubs, and tossed one soldier off the deck suggests that some were itching for a fight. There is no Gandhi on either side of the Muslim/Jewish divide, and no one should imagine that either side has a monopoly on hatred or violence or sainthood. The Israelis want heroes, the Muslims want martyrs. Nobody honors saints.
Fifth, Israel made a mistake in sending this particular commando unit to do this particular task. The unit had no experience with civilians, with riot control, or with diplomacy.
In short, the flotilla leaders got just what they wanted: worldwide anti-Israel propaganda. And they couldn’t have done it without the help of the Israelis themselves.
I have no hope for peace in the Middle East. I do not think we will see an end to war in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Israel/Palestine. I expect the conflict to expand. It is already in Pakistan and will soon be in Iran.
It is said that there can be no peace because there is no one with whom to make peace, but I do not believe that. There are people of good will on every side of this conflict who would rather send their children to college than to war, but their numbers are dwindling, and they have no political power in their respective countries. What is missing are politicians who can make peace.
My fear at the moment is that Israel will once again be demonized. It is just too easy to picture these “loving, good-hearted humanitarians” being brutalized by “violent, heartless Israeli soldiers.” That will be the story: demon Israel against the love boat of Islam.
There are some who will rush to defend Israel, but in so doing they will demonize the Muslims, adding to the heat even as they pretend to shed light.
The end game? War. War with Hamas, then war with Hezbollah, then war with Iran. The question people have to ask themselves is this: how many of our children are we willing to the feed to the god of war? The answer I suspect is “all of them.”