Monthly Archives: May 2010

Barry Rubin explains it all: Sympathy for the Devil

Barry Rubin’s (as usual) brilliant take. I’ll add my comments later, but well worth the read.

Sympathy for the Devil and the Gaza Sea Confrontation: How Can Helping a Repressive Fascist, Genocide-Intending Hamas Regime be Noble?
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By Barry Rubin

“Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game.”

–The Rolling Stones, “Sympathy for the Devil”

Is it so hard to guess the name? Is it so difficult to understand the nature of the game? Apparently so.

“Israeli assault complicates efforts to improve relationship with U.S.,” says the Washington Post. “Israeli Raid Exacerbates Regional Tensions and Threatens Peace Process,” claims a report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

And so the blame is placed. Yet why should either claim be true? After all, neither the U.S. government nor the Palestinian Authority is friends of Hamas and its reign in the Gaza Strip. Both have had their people murdered by Hamas and that group, an ally of Iran, wants to drive the former out of the region and overthrow the latter.

Hamas has oppressed the people of the Gaza Strip, murdered Palestinian Authority supporters in hospitals and thrown them off roofs, driven the Christians out, taken relief supplies for its own soldiers, launched a war on Israel in December 2008 that caused avoidable death and destruction, used civilians as human shields and mosques for ammunition dumps, indoctrinated children to be suicide bombers, and repeatedly announced its antisemitic views and an intention to wipe out Israel and massacre its people.

For some, none of this makes any difference though–to be fair–the media they get information from may not have presented these facts. For those on the left, Hamas should be considered as a fascist organization which they passionately oppose. For those sympathetic to human rights or women’s rights, or many other good causes, Hamas should be anathema.

What should be paramount, then, is an international determination to overthrow the Hamas regime. After all, while it had earlier come in first in elections, it staged a coup and overthrew what was perceived as the rightful government of the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Authority. To do such a thing would—to paraphrase the Carnegie report—reduce regional tensions and aid the peace process lead to an independent Palestinian state. Yet this rather obvious idea simply does not seem to have occurred to any Western government or elite.

So instead there is a policy, albeit an eroding one, of isolating Hamas and denying it at least some supplies and money, demanding that it accept the idea of real peace with Israel and cease the use of terrorism. Even this seems too much for many people and, increasingly, for some governments.

In the face of this very profound and essential wrongness, precisely what measures Israel takes toward a half-dozen vessels seeking to break the blockade that much of the world supports seems a rather secondary issue.

Then there is the confrontation itself.

It is unlikely that the clash between Israeli forces and revolutionary Islamists on a Turkish vessel carrying Hamas supporters and supplies to Gaza is going to change anything at all in terms of the politics and issues of the regions. Yet these events tell us a lot about international thinking nowadays and the tactics used by the revolutionaries who want to transform the Middle East and turn it into Islamist totalitarian states.

Everything I’ve written above would, in many circles, be considered shocking. Yet it is all obviously demonstrably true and profoundly valid for the conduct of international affairs. If any North American or European country had done the same thing as Israel, it would be excused. If any other Third World country did so, it would be ignored.

Why does the Israel-Palestinian conflict continue? The Palestinians. If the Palestinians stopped fighting there would be peace; if Israel stopped fighting there would be even more war.

Why were people killed in the sea off of Gaza? The Islamist-led forces there. Because–as was shown with five of the six ships–if they didn’t fight nobody would be hurt but if they assaulted Israeli soldiers, the latter would defend themselves.

This isn’t the first time a revolutionary movement has deliberately sacrificed people for a perceived benefit to the cause. Indeed, Hamas does that all the time. But it might perhaps be the first time it has fooled so many people. Or, perhaps I should see the second, given international reactions to the 2008-2009 war in the Gaza Strip. And the more successfully Hamas (and Hizballah) uses such tactics, the more people they will get killed in their pursuit of international sympathy and support.

Recognition of these facts is necessary for democratic societies that intend to survive. And yet that is not at all what is happening.

Now events have gone one step further. In order to pursue their goals, Hamas wants to escape from its isolation and win international support for both its regime over Gaza and in its struggle against Israel. And what are these goals? Ruling the Gaza Strip forever, seizing the West Bank and putting the Palestinian Authority leadership in front of a firing squad, obliterating Israel and committing genocide on its Jewish population, creating a totalitarian Palestinian state, destroying Western influence in the region, and helping to overthrow all the existing Arab governments as a junior partner of Iran.

This might be expected to bother a lot of people, especially in the West, especially on the left, especially among intellectuals who benefit from living in free societies. And yet that’s not necessarily true either.

As part of its effort, Hamas supporters organized a six-ship convoy to bring supplies to the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Strip has always been a poor area, even compared to the West Bank. Despite ruling over the area for more than a decade while receiving a huge amount of foreign aid in comparison to the size of the population, the Palestinian Authority did little for the people. It led them into an unnecessary five-year-long destructive war in 1999 that only made things worse for them.

Hamas has now ruled the Gaza Strip for about five years. Yet it has preferred continued war with Israel, a full-scale military mobilization, and hardline policies rather than working for the development of the area and jobs for the people.

Yet who is blamed for the status of that area today?

The blockade has definitely had a downward effect on living standards in the Gaza Strip. And of course there are two blockades since Egypt’s government, which doesn’t want Hamas’s close associates, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to seize power and execute is leaders, also maintains an embargo.

But there is no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. That can be easily proven. Israel allows a great deal of supplies to cross over. That can be proven. Hamas destroyed the border economic zone’s facilities thus denying Gazans jobs. That can be proven. And there is a lot of smuggling across the Egypt-Gaza border which makes up for a good part of the deficit. There is even a humorous angle to all of this, like the way Israel supplied electricity to the Gaza Strip for years even when the bills weren’t paid and Hamas was firing rockets at it.

And of course if Hamas were to change its policy in real terms there would be no blockade at all.

The purpose of this flotilla was not, of course, to help the Gazans but to get publicity for ending the blockade altogether, strengthening Hamas, and hitting at Israel. The organizers were offered the chance to land in Israel and, after inspections, see the supplies go across the border. That would have been at least a partial victory for them but they weren’t interested. Or they could have landed in Israel and the Egyptian government would have immediately sent all the supplies into Gaza. But they weren’t interested in that either.

A state of war exists between Israel and Hamas. To give aid and comfort to the Hamas regime is to help an enemy sworn to Israel’s destruction. Why should Israel facilitate that? The answer might be, to help the people of Gaza who are suffering. But they will go on suffering until the day that Hamas no longer runs their lives. And there have been many people suffering because they are ruled by a government like that of Germany or Italy in the 1930s and 1940s. The British and Americans bombed them steadily and did everything else to kill, injure, and starve them in order to win World War Two. In comparison, Israel has been remarkably restrained.

And the longer Hamas rules there the more they will suffer. It is only a matter of time until Hamas engages in a new war. Indeed, the sympathy for Hamas and the buying of its lies about Israel by so many in the West increase its confidence in the value of going to war again in the virtue of remaining extremist.

After all, if its strategy is working why should Hamas change it? And if Hamas believes that it can win world opinion to be against Israel, and thus destroy Israel, all the more reason to be willing to force Gazans to fight for decades and generations.

And so there was no way that Israel would let the ships land in Gaza. And the activists, who put helping Gazans as a far lower priority than helping Hamas wanted a confrontation and the hardest line ones wanted casualties, martyrs to water the soil of revolution.

Shouldn’t Israel have denied them that opportunity? Were mistakes made? Certainly, though they may be less than many think. For example, take the argument that Israel could not act in international waters without breaking international law. That’s nonsense. Blockades all the way back to the British one against Napoleon—and more recently the British blockade during the Falklands crisis and the U.S. blockade of Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis—have worked that way.

Indeed, the most important thing about a blockade is that it must be effective to be accepted by others. Once Israel let in those ships, why should anyone else—including ships carrying military supplies—be deterred? And in Gaza, even pipes (used for making rockets) and cement (used for building block houses and other military positions) are war materiel.

Did the Israeli authorities underestimate the chance of violence? Well, they were 81.6 percent, that is, five-sixths, right. Five of the six ships surrendered peacefully and were taken into port. Only one resisted. Two soldiers had their guns grabbed as they were beaten and stabbed. Reportedly, those hard-core Islamists who seized the weapons opened fire. One day we will know how many of the casualties were armed and how many were shot by their “colleagues,” not Israeli soldiers. Will that detail be widely disseminated?

Some of those on the ships were no doubt well-intentioned humanitarians. But they weren’t the ones who were determined to attack. Those directing the shipping operation were revolutionaries intent on supporting their Hamas comrades. The atmosphere among the Islamists is demonstrated by the talk of martyrdom and jihad. Indeed, al-Jazira broadcast the chanting of slogans about a new “Khaibar” and the return of “Muhammad’s army,” reference to the massacre of the Jews in seventh-century Arabia and the selling of the women and children into slavery.

There are, then, two main ways to see these events. One is of a group of humanitarians who just wanted to help people and were mistreated by evil Israel. The other is the perspective offered here, of the attempted manipulation of international public opinion by a combination of those intent on evil and those who don’t recognize the nature of its game.

Which one better explains these events, and what went before them, and what will come after? Given the facts, there can’t be much doubt that allying with and assisting Hamas, the closest thing to a fascist ideology and behavior in today’s world, is not a great moral act. If you want to have sympathy for the devil, so to speak, at least know who you are helping

There is a statement attributed to the British political philosopher Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Burke supported America’s revolution but was horrified by France’s bloody upheaval that resulted in terror and murder. He understood that in order to be a humanitarian one had to have accurate judgment and to distinguish between actual good and evil dressed up as good.

Actually, what Burke wrote is even more apt for the present day, in which democracies are threatened by a tidal wave of lies, hate, and dictatorship: “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

Israel should recognize the Armenian Holocaust

From Abe Selig:

I think Israel should announce tomorrow that they have decided to recognize the Armenian Genocide. While a good friend of mine told me that (along with my idea that Israel point out the continued illegal occupation of Northern Cyprus, where the boats set out from) were the two “sacred cows” of the Turkish elite still on our side and quite opposed to the current Islamist government, I asked him what good this elite was, if things like Gaza flotillas and 10,000 raving Turks demanding Israeli blood have become the norm in Istanbul.

Interview with Roger Simon on PJMedia

View here.

The best footage I’ve seen so far…

HT/RC

Of course the real question here is, “how could the IDF be so unprepared for what hit them.” Paint guns and side arms which, even as they were beaten, they didn’t want to use?

Debacle on every level. What can be salvaged from this wreckage?

Exchange with an indignant observer on violence aboard the Marmara (composed in the morning)

A correspondent sent me the following this morning and I responded around 10AM. I haven’t posted it till now since I awaited his permission. But I haven’t updated it since.

His statements in bold, my comments in response. I think it’s a good example of the kinds of varying responses that different people have to the same news. The question is, when reliable information finally does come out, will those who jumped to the wrong conclusion change their minds.

I am not enjoying this any more than you are and I appreciate you having returned my e-mail. But you tell me what you think I should believe given the following:

  • That Israeli assault troops illegally boarded peaceful vessels either in international waters or in Gazan territorial waters (which Israel claims is not under occupation).

that’s one way of stating it. Israel’s blockade is of an enemy “state” which has sworn its destruction. the IDF boarded vessels filled with people singing songs about previous massacres of Jews (by Muhammad), organized by two groups with extensive ties to global jihad and its tactics of terror. these folk announced their intention to run the blockade from international waters – that was a declaration of hostile intent – and were duly intercepted. You can fight battles on the high seas.

  • That these troops then opened fire with live ammunition.

they were attacked. do you really think the israelis came on board shooting away? how wd that help? if you believe this, then you enter the same bizarro world of the fotillistas in which they are liberating the poor Gazans from the Nazis.

  • That maybe ten (Haaretz) or sixteen (Al Jazeera) people have been murdered on the high seas and more than 30 wounded.

murdered is a very loaded verb. are you sure they didn’t attack the israelis who boarded? in which case it’s not murder.

  • That while this is less than a quarter of the deaths at Sharpeville it could be four times the number at Kent State, and this incident will always be linked with those other two in infamy.

you’re comparing this with peaceful demonstrations (altho kent state may have had a shooter from behind the students). this may not be an appropriate comparison. you’re jumping ahead of yourself, and it doesn’t sound to me like this pains you. you’re jumping on the “lethal narrative” here without even knowing the full story.

  • That “Trade and Industry Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer voiced regret Monday morning for deaths aboard the Gaza-bound ships. “The images are certainly not pleasant. I can only voice regret at all the fatalities,” Ben-Eliezer told Army Radio. (That is quite an admission from somebody from this govenment.).

why? that israelis regret having to kill people. that hardly is an admission that they came down guns blazing. this is just what happened with Al Durah. The IDF expressed regret that the boy had died, esp if they killed him by accident, and people jumped on that as an admission of guilt. I’d hate to have you on my jury – especially if I were innocent.

  • That Netanyahu is reported to be considering flying home from Canada instead of meeting with Obama tomorrow where he was due to be treated warmly as a friend. The coward!


i’m not sure how you get coward from this. is it that you think he’s running away from a dressing down from Obama (which you’d like to see happen?)

    • That Israel has screwed this up big time in a way I never thought even they were capable of. Believe me Richard I never wished for anything like this. But I won’t be the only person this morning who is pretty bloody angry.

  • i don’t understand these regrets on your part. you seem eager to believe the worst and then claim it pains you. why don’t you calm your anger, and find out what happened. it may be that the “peace activists” were nothing of the sort and you’re swallowing the typical “lethal narrative.”

    But feel free to tell me what you believe.

    i’m not sure yet, but i’m willing to bet my guesses right now are closer than yours to the real situation.

    IDF Posts Footage of the Attack on their soldiers: Do you see what they say is happening?

    Demonstrators Use Violence Against Israeli Navy Soldiers Attempting to Board Ship, 31 May 2010

    Early this morning, IDF Naval Forces boarded six ships attempting to break the maritime closure of the Gaza Strip. This happened after numerous warnings from Israel and the Israeli Navy that were issued prior to the action. The Israel Navy requested the ships to redirect toward Ashdod where they would be able to unload their aid supplies which would then be transferred over land after undergoing security inspections.

    During the boarding of the ships, the demonstrators onboard attacked the IDF Naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs. Additionally one of the weapons used was grabbed from an IDF soldier. The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose.

    As a result of this life-threatening and violent activity, naval forces employed riot dispersal means, including live fire.

    According to initial reports, these events resulted in over ten deaths among the demonstrators and numerous injured, in addition, more than four naval personnel were injured, some from gunfire and some from various other weapons. Two of the soldiers are moderately wounded and the remainder sustained light injuries. All of the injured, Israelis and foreigners are currently being evacuated by helicopter to hospitals in Israel.

    Reports from IDF forces on the scene are that it seems as if part of the participants onboard the ships were planning to lynch the forces.
    The interception of the flotilla followed numerous warnings given to the organizers of the flotilla before leaving their ports as well as while sailing towards the Gaza Strip. In these warnings, it was made clear to the organizers that they could dock in the Ashdod sea port and unload the equipment they are carrying in order to deliver it to the Gaza Strip in an orderly manner, following the appropriate security checks. Upon expressing their unwillingness to cooperate and arrive at the port, it was decided to board the ships and lead them to Ashdod.

    IDF naval personnel encountered severe violence, including use of weaponry prepared in advance in order to attack and to harm them. The forces operated in adherence with operational commands and took all necessary actions in order to avoid violence, but to no avail.

    Elder of Ziyon slows down the footage and comments: Do you see what he sees?

    from Elder of Ziyon

    Legality of action in International Waters

    Monday, May 31, 2010
    Law Expert Dr Robbie Sabel IDF action in international waters legal
    Dr. Aaron Lerner Date: 31 May 2010

    IMRA asked Hebrew University international law expert Dr. Robbie Sabel about the legality of the IDF action in international waters.

    Dr. Sabel explained that a state, in a time of conflict, can impose an embargo, and while it cannot carry out embargo activities in the territorial waters of a third party, it can carry out embargo activities in international waters.

    Within this framework it is legal to detain a civilian vessel trying to break an embargo and if in the course of detaining the vessel, force is used against the forces carrying out the detention then that force has every right to act in self defense.

    Dr. Sabel noted that there is a long history of embargo activities in international waters.

    Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
    (Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)

    In addition: According to the San Remo Manual, it is permissible under rule 67(a) to attack neutral vessels on the high seas when the vessels “are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture.”

    Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
    INTERNET ADDRESS: imra@netvision.net.il
    Website: http://www.imra.org.il

    Footage run on Israeli TV from Turkish CNN and other sources

    Translation of transcript welcome.

    Important warning from NGO Monitor

    NGO Monitor Cautions Media on Flotilla Violence Claims
    NGO Monitor
    May 31, 2010

    Lessons from the “Jenin massacre” and other myths

    Following conflicting and incomplete reports about the violence aboard the “Gaza flotilla” boats, NGO Monitor called on non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and journalists who quote them, to carefully scrutinize allegations of “human rights violations” before repeating false claims and propaganda.

    “In many instances in the past, NGOs have been responsible for repeating and amplifying false claims of Israeli ‘crimes,’ without credible evidence,” said NGO Monitor President Gerald Steinberg. “In 2002, an Amnesty International representative gave credence to the ‘Jenin massacre’ lie, and in 2006, Human Rights Watch did the same in the tragic Gaza Beach incident. The baseless NGO claims were publicized in the media, and then embraced as true by anti-Israel activists.”

    NGOs were similarly responsible for promulgating false claims regarding Muhammad al-Dura (2000) and the Reuters cameraman (2008), and during the Lebanon and Gaza wars.

    “Information provided by the flotilla organizers, who include International Solidarity Movement radicals, is particularly suspect. As videos on CNN and BBC demonstrate, the activists were armed and violent,” said Steinberg. “The videos disprove the version put forth by the Free Gaza Movement.”

    NGO Monitor also noted that the flotilla was endorsed by EU-funded Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), EU- and European-funded Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), NIF-funded Coalition of Women for Peace, European-funded Alternative Information Center (AIC), and Israeli groups New Profile, Bat Shalom, Yesh Gvul, and Zochrot. Jeff Halper, executive director of ICAHD, is on the board of advisors.

    For the linked version, visit NGO Monitor

    Notes from Danny Ayalon’s Press Conference Statement

    From the Foreign Ministry (live feed no longer operative, should be posted soon)
    premeditated ambush
    linked to global terror
    found weapons (at least two guns) prepared in advance and used against our forces.
    violent in planning and execution
    outcome the responsibility of the organizers
    their intent not humanitarian, not interested in kidnapped soldier
    wanted to establish corridor of weapons trafficking to Hamas

    can’t say this is very constructive. almost no details whatsoever.

    First thoughts on Rosner’s first comments

    Monday May 31, 2010
    Rosner’s Domain: First comments on the Gaza flotilla disaster
    Posted by SHMUEL ROSNER

    Details are still sketchy as I write this post, so all is subjected to changes. However, here are a couple of things that need to be watched, and understood at this time. I will update this post as we go along.

    1. Obviously, this was not the intended result of Israel’s intercepting of the convoy. Did Israel know in advance that the soldiers will be ambushed? If not, that is a problem. Maybe the problem. If they did, how did Israel prepare the forces and what was the plan for taking over the ships

    Agreed.

    2. With all the all-too-familiar outcry about public relations, public opinion, world opinion, Israel’s image etc, one has to remember that PR – as important as it might be – is not all in life. Definitely not all in military life. If force had to be used as to prevent the flotilla from going into Gaza – if there was no way around it – than PR becomes a secondary issue and will have to be dealt with later.

    It’s not that simple. If the IDF didn’t anticipate this, and they didn’t have at least one photographer with every landing team, then that’s a failure to understand what this is about. This is cognitive warfare and the violence is for effect, not for victory. If you drop the cognitive and just focus on the military, you’ve taken your eye off the ball. PR is not secondary; it’s above all primary in this situation. This doesn’t mean you let soldiers by killed for PR, but it means that if you’re going to have to kill – as this case turned out to be – then you damn well better have your ass covered.

    Israeli Army claims their troops were attacked by “peaceful” militants

    This just came from the Army Spokesperson’s office:

    IDF Forces Met with Pre-Planned Violence when attempting to Board Flotilla

    Early this morning, IDF Naval Forces intercepted six ships attempting to break the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. This happened after numerous warnings from Israel and the Israel Navy that were issued prior to the action. The Israel Navy requested the ships to redirect toward Ashdod where they would be able to unload their aid material which would then be transferred over land after undergoing security inspections.

    During the intercept of the ships, the demonstrators onboard attacked the IDF Naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs. Additionally one of the weapons used was grabbed from an IDF soldier. The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose.

    As a result of this life-threatening and violent activity, naval forces employed riot dispersal means, including live fire.

    According to initial reports, these events resulted in over ten deaths among the demonstrators and numerous injured, in addition, more than four naval personnel were injured, some from gunfire and some from various other weapons. Two of the soldiers are moderately wounded and the remainder sustained light injuries. All of the injured, Israelis and foreigners are currently being evacuated by helicopter to hospitals in Israel.

    Reports from IDF forces on the scene are that it seems as if part of the participants onboard the ships were planning to lynch the forces.

    The events are ongoing, and information will be updated as soon as possible. Israeli Naval commander, Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom is overseeing the events.

    In the coming hours, the ships will be directed to the Ashdod port, while IDF naval forces will perform security checks in order to identify the people on board the ships and their equipment. The IDF Spokesman conveys that this event is currently unfolding and further details will be provided as soon as possible.

    This IDF naval operation was carried out under orders from the political leadership to halt the flotilla from reaching the Gaza Strip and breaching the naval blockade.

    The interception of the flotilla followed numerous warnings given to the organizers of the flotilla before leaving their ports as well as while sailing towards the Gaza Strip. In these warnings, it was made clear to the organizers that they could dock in the Ashdod sea port and unload the equipment they are carrying in order to deliver it to the Gaza Strip in an orderly manner, following the appropriate security checks. Upon expressing their unwillingness to cooperate and arrive at the port, it was decided to board the ships and lead them to Ashdod.

    IDF naval personnel encountered severe violence, including use of weaponry prepared in advance in order to attack and to harm them. The forces operated in adherence with operational commands and took all necessary actions in order to avoid violence, but to no avail.

    Additional information:

    Rosner on the fog of conflict, now and then:

    http://cgis.jpost.com/Blogs/rosner/entry/first_comments_on_the_gaza

    Haaretz:

    Ben Eliezer: regrets, but NB: after troops came under fire

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/netanyahu-mulls-cancelling-u-s-trip-in-wake-of-gaza-flotilla-deaths-1.293187?localLinksEnabled=false

    Latest from JPost:

    http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?ID=176970

    http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?ID=176963

    YNet:
    soldiers attacked with live ammunition

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3896500,00.html

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3896431,00.html

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3896416,00.html

    Rosemary Church covers the “Gaza Armada” story: As journalism, it’s an F

    Comments welcome.

    Flotilla of Fools Tilts at Zionist Windmills: Open Letter to Europeans from a Medievalist

    Human rights activists, claiming to act for humanity and justice, bring supplies to a Gaza they think is starving under a brutal Israeli blockade. Courageous crusaders, they come to the salvation of the poor and oppressed Palestinian people, strangled by a colonial, racist state.

    They believe themselves far removed from their Christian forebears who, nine hundred years ago, charged into the Holy Land, wading up to their horses bridals in the blood of slain Muslims, singing, “This is the day the Lord made, we will rejoice therein.”

    But something is wrong in this morality play. Indeed, virtually every detail, when compared with the reality it supposedly describes, seems off, way off. This heroic morality tale describes not post-modern, post-colonial heroes, charging off like Lord Byron, to fight for freedom, but a regression to the least admirable of medieval narratives.

    First, the victims: the flotilla brings nothing to Gaza not already there. Granted Gaza is poor, much poorer than the other Palestinian-run, entity in the West Bank. But it’s not poorer than the surrounding Arab world, and better off than many.

    If these noble spirits think they are coming to the rescue of a maid tied to the railroad track, then they’re in for a surprise experience. Everything the Flotilla wants to bring in, the Israelis have agreed, once checked for dangerous items, to pass over their crossings. This is not about poor Gazans, it’s about publicity.

    Second, the heroes: the only people this flotilla does assist, are the elected leaders of Gaza, Hamas. Here it gets curious. These European saviors think that they will help these leaders help their people. But Hamas is not a social democratic regime. It is a pre-modern, predatory élite that exploits its people, in this case, theocratic fanatics who promised an end to domestic corruption, and honor in the struggle for Palestine, and gave their people instead, death, destruction, and more misery.

    And more corruption. When Israel recently opened its crossing in the far south, militants targeted it with Qassams on behalf of the tunnel moguls, who were losing money as prices dropped. With the material Hamas garnered through those tunnels – especially cement – they now build police stations, a shopping center where Hamas employees get special privileges, and rebuild their prison. As for the wretched people who lost their homes in a war Hamas did much to provoke… it’s Israel’s fault. Hamas has a vested interest in the blockade: it secures their power. This flotilla comes not to the aid of blockaded Palestinians, but to the aid of those people responsible for the blockade.

    Third, the villains: The allegedly ruthless Israeli occupiers don’t quite live up to negative expectations. Against all previous military precedent, during the hostilities in Operation Cast Lead they ceased fire daily, in order to let in tons of critical aid (food and medical supplies) into Gaza. Today through the checkpoints they allow in a wide range of goods, while thousands of patients and companions pass the other way for medical treatment in Israel. Even Arab journalists will tell you – off the record – that there’s no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. So the “hard” questions at a press conference complain that Israelis are not consistent about which kinds of non-essential items let into Gaza… or: “Since Hamas gets its own cement through the tunnels, why not let the “people” get the cement they need to rebuild?”

    So how do these Israelis, who treat their own Arab citizens better than the Arab élites treat their own people, come to be seen as the dark forces of evil, the cause of all the suffering and conflict in the Middle East? Because they have fallen for a “lethal narrative” straight out of their own Middle Ages.

    The Arab world despises the Jews for medieval reasons, for having thrown off the yoke of the Dhimma (Muslim domination of Christians and Jews); for trying to be a free people in their own land, which happens to lie within borders of the “eternal” Dar al Islam (the realm of “submission” where Islam rules). Since the creation of Israel, Arab leaders have tried to reverse the humiliation by victimizing their own people – especially the refugees they’ve held captive for over 60 years – and then distracting them with a scapegoat. Anti-Zionism, like anti-Semitism, the WMD: weapon of mass distraction.

    One would hardly expect post-modern, self-critical pacifists to go for this kind of weaponized, medieval scapegoating. Did not Europeans renounce their addiction to tales of Jew hatred? Was that not a part of a maturing process that has brought sixty years of peace and international cooperation to Europe?

    So why does the progressive European Left, the people loudly shouting from this flotilla, embrace these fevered narratives of hatred? Have they, by closing their ears to Hamas’ venomous words about Jews, also failed to hear how they will be the next target?

    If someone had told the Hamas leaders who wrote their genocidal paranoid doctrine of world conquest in 1988, that in two decades, Europeans would dance in the street shouting “We are Hamas!” they would have laughed at his optimism. “The infidels are not that stupid.”

    But alas! Apparently if you put up a picture of a windmill with a Star of David on it, some hallucinating Europeans with a savior complex and a yearning for attention, will come tilting. A ship of fools… now grown into a Flotilla of Fools.

    But what about the rest of Europe? Does no one there see this folly and understand the terrible forces that it feeds? Do they not know that Hamas shares far more with the men who blew up London transport than with Europe’s progressive values? Is there no one to say, “this Emperor is naked!”?

    Update: Food for thought

    “Statistically speaking this table is the most dangerous one…: On Arab journalists and Hamas

    I recently attended a press conference at Erez Crossing point at the top of Gaza. While the earlier one in Hebrew had quite a few participants, the one in English and Arabic had me, another blogger, a European AFP reporter, and three Arab journalists, one for AP, Al Jazeera English, and Arabic. They were accompanied by a crew of Arab cameramen.

    While their formal questions to the spokesman – whose Arabic was considerably more fluent than his English – were largely contentious, their conversation was strangely open and even mordant. At first I suspected ideologues. When I asked my companion about the population of Gaza, he said, “1.5 million,” immediately corrected by one of the Arab journalists to “1.7.”

    But after the press conference, and before we could leave, there was an alert and we spent about 20 minutes in a room waiting for the all-clear. Israeli soldiers lounged around, obviously quite used to this. The Arabs gathered around one table, looking a bit out of place. I imagined they were feeling hostile to these “Occupation Army” soldiers with whom they were forced to spend time. I went over to join them.

    “Statistically speaking, you might not want to sit here,” said a cameraman from East Jerusalem.

    “What do you mean?” I asked.

    “Well considerably more Arabs are killed by Hamas rockets than Israelis, so if a rocket does land on this base, the statistical odds are it will hit this table.”

    Foolish Cowards: The Flotilla Shows its Colors

    In an op-ed which will hopefully appear in a Swedish newspaper and which I will then post here, I wrote about the bizarre behavior of the European progressives participating in this “flotilla of fools” to Gaza.

      The only people this flotilla does assist, are the elected leaders of Gaza, Hamas. Here it gets curious. These European saviors think that they will help these leaders help their people. But Hamas is not a social democratic regime. It is a pre-modern, predatory élite that exploits its people, in this case, theocratic fanatics who promised an end to domestic corruption, and honor in the struggle for Palestine, and gave their people instead, death, destruction, and more misery. Even its kindergartens teach their death cult.

      And more corruption. When Israel recently opened its crossing in the far south, militants targeted it with Qassams on behalf of the tunnel moguls, who were losing money as prices dropped. With the material Hamas garnered through those tunnels – especially cement – they now rebuild their prison and more police stations, as well as a shopping center where Hamas employees get special privileges.

      As for the wretched people who lost their homes in a war Hamas did much to provoke… it’s Israel’s fault. Let the do-gooder Western progressives pressure Israel to open the borders to cement. Hamas has a vested in the blockade: it secures their power. This flotilla comes not to the aid of blockaded Palestinians, but to the aid of those people responsible for the blockade.

    Now today this article in Ynet (HT/TB5Y) about an exchange between the Shalit family and the organizers — who all invoke great zeal for human rights the world over — reveals an interesting dimension to their problems identifying reality.

    Shalit family’s offer to back Gaza flotilla declined

    Kidnapped soldier’s family asks organizers of aid mission to urge Hamas to allow international organizers to visit him. Family’s attorney: I thought they supported human rights
    Ahiya Raved
    Published: 05.27.10, 13:46 / Israel News

    Gilad Shalit’s family offered to support the international flotilla to Gaza if its participants would demand that Hamas permit various organizations to visit the kidnapped Israeli soldier and allow him to receive packages.

    Members of the campaign for Shalit’s release said the organizers of the international aid mission to Gaza declined the offer.

    Attorney Nick Kaufman, who approached the Free Gaza Movement on behalf of the kidnapped soldier’s family, told Ynet that he offered the flotilla’s organizers the family’s full support provided that “in addition to their demand that Israel lift its blockade they will urge Hamas to allow the soldier to receive letters and food packages from his family and allow international organizations to visit him.”

    According to Kaufman, he was referred to the movement’s legal counsel, who rejected the offer.

    It would be nice to know the wording of the response. Always valuable to know how people explain themselves publicly.

    “I thought this movement supports human rights, as it claims, but according to the reaction it seems that it is only interested in provocation and expressing support for a terror group that doesn’t really care about human rights,” said the attorney.

    Now there are two scenarios here. 1) They are afraid to ask for fear of alienating Hamas; 2) they feel Shalit is not a victim, but an aggressor, and therefore not their concern.

    If it worked with the Danish Cartoons… why not let Facebook know what’s in store?

    Danish Cartoon clash of civilizations continues. I’m reading Jytte Klausen, The Cartoons that Shook the World for the conclusion to my book (overdue). It is a work that strikes some as genuinely “even-handed,” but strikes me as (therefore) genuinely superficial and misleading about Islam and its many manifestations in the 21st century. Anyway, if mainstream media like Yale and Comedy Central caved, cybernautic Facebook has, so far, not. As a result, demonstrations in Pakistan that take us right back to London in 2006.


    One illustration of the protests in Pakistan against Facebook’s “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day


    Some of the signs displayed in demonstration in London, February 3, 2006 to protest publications of Danish Cartoons.

    Note the Pakistani signs in English: This is part of a global cognitive war, in which Sharia is extended to dar al Harb in the matter of treatment of the Prophet. Infidels must, as Dhimmis in dar al Islam, respect the sensibilities of the Muslims, and the death they threaten to those who refuse to obey, is precisely what Dhimmis are “protected from” as long as they remain good subjects.

    Apparently, according Waqar Hussain of AFP, the vitriolic response prompted, yet more apologies.

    Palestinian Nakba: The Politics of Victimhood and the Folly of the West

    Ben Dror Yemini has an provocative piece on the fraud of the notion of the Nakba. It’s a bit too pre-post-modern for my taste. I prefer not to talk about “facts” and “truth” and more about reliable evidence, and accurate interpretations. Do its polemics undermine its history?

    Nakba Day and the Fraud
    Ben-Dror Yemini

    The Palestinians have been holding the title of “refugees” for over six decades. They have succeeded in creating a unique historical narrative for themselves. This myth is growing, so it should be shattered and the real facts presented: the Palestinian population before the first Aliya was sparse, hundreds of thousands of Jews were also expelled from Arab countries, and there is no precedent anywhere in the world for the right of return.

    The Nakba – the story of the Palestinian refugees is the greatest success story in the history of modern times – a success that is a complete fraud. There is no other group of “refugees” in the world that has gotten such broad global coverage. Not a week goes by without a conference, another conference, about the wretched state of the Palestinians. There is not a campus in the West that does not devote countless events, conferences and publications, each year or each month to the issue of the Palestinian refugees. They have become the ultimate victims. A million calamities and injustices and expulsions and population exchanges and acts of genocide and slaughter and wars have befallen the world since the Arabs, among them the Palestinians, declared a war of annihilation on Israel – but the Nakba of the Palestinians takes up most of the space. A visitor from another planet would think that it was the greatest injustice suffered by the entire universe since the Second World War.

    The Palestinians, for whom their pain vastly exceeds the pain of others, certainly feel that this is so. The question is, why would the rest of the world agree with them?

    Consider, for example, this casualty footprint of the Arab-Israeli conflict from 1988-2008 compared to that of the various conflicts going on within the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    casulty footprint

    That’s less than 10,000 deaths among the Arabs, and more than five million among the people of the DRC.

    Now reverse the names, and you have the media footprint.

    So it is best to shatter this lie. It is best to present the real facts. It is best to expose the fraud.

    Read the rest, and follow the multiple links.

    Ben-Dror Yemini is a senior columnist in Maariv, daily newspaper
    Previous articles of Ben-Dror Yemini

    “Read It? I haven’t even lectured on it yet.” Holder on the Arizona Law

    It’s a joke among professors that when asked if they’d read a book, they respond as above. In my research on the entry I wrote on Holder and the religion whose teachings are inconsistent with violence, I ran across his other stellar performance before the Judiciary Committee, on the Arizona Law.

    Here it is in all its cringing embarrassment. Note that we’re not talking about not having read a 400 page tome replete with footnotes, we’re talking about a dozen pages of text which any Attorney General should have read before pronouncing even a word on the subject, much less appearing before a Congressional committee.

    Instead, it has something to do with how “I haven’t been briefed yet on this.”

    And not only has he not read it, he’s lectured on it: even he admits to having voiced concerns based on reports from others, that it has been much discussed, but he still hasn’t read it.

    See discussion in PJMedia by Dan Miller, “Holder’s ‘In the Dark’ Criticism of the Immigration Law.”