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

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

  1. Sergio says:

    Good article, but a little naive on the rethorical side. It is well known that the left has an antisemitic tradition going back to the XIX century (Bauer, Duhring,
    Marx, Marr, etc, etc). Also, it is quite clear that Europeans are pretty happy in freeing themselves from their highly successful pan-European Jewish extermination project of the shoah. The trick is to use the “antizionism” cover-up.

  2. incognito says:

    Good article, but a little naive on the rethorical side.

    I don’t think it’s naivity. Rather is the insistence not to accept that the west has irreversibly collapsed and the belief that it can still be saved.

  3. Sergio says:

    Indeed, the article is a breadth of fresh air, but I find that rethoric of the kind “is this progressive” a bit naive. You should just say that not only is is not, but that there’s a long tradition of revolutionary antisemitism from the left (the right one is well known).

  4. Ben says:

    Terrific. The charge of naivete is dicey, though. In the bid to change minds, the message must be honest. (My avoidance of “factual” or “truthful” is intended.) The message here (as I gather it) is that the well-meaning among the “pacifist floatillians” are being deceived or are uninformed about the real substance of their mission. Every last one of them probably hates Israel and probably is an Anti-Semite, and it is possible that none of them are well intended, but what sense does it make to direct an open letter to a person or group for the purpose of convincing that person or group that they are vile? The letter isn’t intended to challenge the paci-floatillians’ perceptions of themselves. It is to challenge their perceptions of their world. Calling them out as scoundrels won’t help. Honestly comparing their perception of reality might.

  5. incognito says:

    the message must be honest

    Sure, but: it’s also honest to realize that it won’t make much difference. A message must have an audience and there isn’t one that counts, because honesty is the last thing the audience is interested in.

    It’s expressive, not instrumental behavior.

  6. incognito says:

    Calling them out as scoundrels won’t help.

    If it’s expressive, it does, he who expresses it. As long as he realizes it, which honesty demands.

  7. E.G. says:

    I beg to differ.
    The flotillators are useful idiots, probably fooling themselves but mainly, trying to fool the world via the media.

    This is a Goebbelsian script.
    Will the media gobble it again?

    Will people let themselves fooled again?

  8. noah says:

    “One would hardly expect post-modern, self-critical pacifists to go for this kind of weaponized, medieval scapegoating.”

    Bingo.

  9. Solomonia says:

    Gaza Freedom Freaks At Sea…

    So much to say about this, so little time. Here are a bunch of links. StandWithUs has almost the right response by sending their own counter-flotilla to sea: Counter-flotilla to surprise the Europeans A fleet of privately owned Israeli boats……

  10. incognito says:

    Will people let themselves fooled again?

    You gotta be kidding me.

  11. [...] Augean Stables » Flotilla of Fools Tilts at Zionist Windmills … [...]

  12. Richard says:

    RL – “Did not Europeans renounce their addiction to tales if Jew hatred?” Edit: “tales OF Jew hatred?”.

    Otherwise, superb.

  13. [...] Augean Stables » Flotilla of Fools Tilts at Zionist Windmills … [...]

  14. Lorenz Gude says:

    Well I just got back from a party mostly peopled by Australians of the left and the Jewish host introduced an Israeli immigrant as “now an Australian” and “not a Zionist”. As I am assured by these same folk that “Americans never get irony,” I only expect Israeli and other ‘foreign’ readers to get my drift. ;-)

  15. E.G. says:

    Lorenz Gude,

    Can a “Freedom Flotilla” going from the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus towards Gaza be considered “irony”?

  16. Rich Rostrom says:

    “Open Letter … from Two Medievalists”

    Who is the other medievalist?

  17. incognito says:

    Would any middle-easterner give americans the time of day?

    http://indyposted.com/24855/son-of-hamas-defectormossab-hussein-yousef-faces-deportation-from-the-us/

    Teaching friends how stupid they are to be your friends.

    As a Hamasnik he was ok to be here; as a convert to Christianity who saved american lives he is a security risk.

    The western world at its best.

  18. Lorenz Gude says:

    I think of the children’s crusade. A toddler going up to a tiger lisping ‘nice kitty’ comes to mind. They – the flotillistas – are the products of an ideological Garden of Eden (that would be our Western education system) and have not eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Indeed they believe themselves incapable of evil or that it even exists. Therefore they fall directly into it because they project it on – the people most like themselves – the Jews. They are so self naive that they don’t understand that people like Hamas exist and at the same time are capable of being conniving anti Semites and manipulators of the press. This paradox would seem to be impossible but is because their lack of self knowledge and ideological insulation allow them to live out the darker side of human nature unconsciously. At the same time the unconscious is perfectly happy to accommodate survival behavior in the form of Stockholm syndrome. The right hand knoweth not what the left hand doeth.

  19. Lorenz Gude says:

    @EG
    As an American it seems I am culturally disadvantaged when it comes to making such a judgment, but my best guess would be a resounding ‘Yes’.

  20. incognito says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28qwcVPNy3E&feature=related

    Looks like a closed case. And incidentally, he leaves nothing out of Goldstone.

  21. incognito says:

    Indeed they believe themselves incapable of evil or that it even exists…They are so self naive that they don’t understand that people like Hamas exist and at the same time are capable of being conniving anti Semites and manipulators of the press.

    The europeans among them yup; but the middle-easterners among them nope. The issue is irrelevant to them in the sense it is to the west (or at least was). And I certainly would not deem them naive.

  22. Margie says:

    The parents of the loneliest man in Gaza, Gilad Shalit, trusting against hope that even one of the rabble believes in their ‘mission’ begged them to take their son a letter, a parcel, but the bigots refused, showing that they know their own hypocrisy, the hard hearts of their prospective hosts and the emptiness of their voyage.

  23. Eliyahu says:

    Israel TV [channel 1] showed a short film clip tonight of passengers on the flotilla [including Islamic fanatic Ra'ad Salah whose minions attacked Christians in Nazareth on Easter in 1999]. They were singing in Arabic a little ditty that goes:
    Khaybar Khayber ya Yahud
    Jaysh Muhammad sa ya`ud

    This chanson of classic musical beauty means:

    Khaybar khaybar O Jews,
    The army of Muhammad will return!!

    Khaybar was a Jewish-populated oasis in northern Arabia that was conquered by Muhammad’s goons early in his career of aggression. The Jews were killed and/or enslaved, etc. So passengers of the Freedom flotilla were singing a classic statement of Islamic Judeophobia and triumphalism.

    now, slightly o/t
    http://www.jihadwatch.org/2010/05/how-jimmy-carter-and-zbigniew-brzezinski-gave-us-the-islamic-republic-of-iran.html#comments

    The link above is to a video about jimmy carter and zbig’s contribution to world barbarism in the form of Khomaini’s regime. I don’t agree with all points made in the video.

  24. Solomonia says:

    Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum…

    [The following, by AKUS, is crossposted from CiF Watch.] As we await the arrival of the provocative Flotilla of Fools carrying, if past is prolog, exaggerated amounts of unneeded “humanitarian supplies” to Gaza (perhaps Gaza’s “Roots” restaurant -…

  25. Lorenz Gude says:

    @incognito
    Yes, the Europeans among them was who I had in mind. Thanks.

    I remember at the start of the Iraq war there were Europeans who went to Baghdad to act as human shields against the prospect of American bombing. I remember a Swedish activist who came away saying that her approach had been mistaken. Evidently ideology is not impervious to the prospect of being vaporized.

  26. Cynic says:

    incognito,

    From your #20 what is the conclusion? Can you expand on this closed case?
    I’m having trouble viewing the youtube stuff right now.

  27. incognito says:

    Evidently ideology is not impervious to the prospect of being vaporized.

    Understood a certain way ideology is correlated with a certain proneness ignorance and stupidity. It is both a cause and a consequence of those two.

  28. incognito says:

    The parents of the loneliest man in Gaza, Gilad Shalit, trusting against hope that even one of the rabble believes in their ‘mission’ begged them to take their son a letter, a parcel, but the bigots refused, showing that they know their own hypocrisy, the hard hearts of their prospective hosts and the emptiness of their voyage.

    Apropos my comments on Shalit’s family:

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/137775

    In a sense it is confirmation that ideology correlates with ignorance and stupidity.

  29. incognito says:

    From your #20 what is the conclusion? Can you expand on this closed case?

    The video is called “Who owns Jerusalem” and the guy who is interviewed, who researched the topic for 20 years, closes the case on that issue. It is a lucid, unemotional, just the facts, logical, thorough closing devoid of the usual historical and religious arguments.

    I admire the guy for his capacity to remain cool given the subject and the atmosphere. You gotta watch.

    And as a international law/human rights lawyer he is everything Goldstone is not.

  30. incognito says:

    The link above is to a video about jimmy carter and zbig’s contribution to world barbarism in the form of Khomaini’s regime. I don’t agree with all points made in the video.

    More on Carter/Zbig and Obama and the US never-ending ignorance of and stupidity about the ME:

    http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2010/05/william-quandts-embarrassing-memo

  31. Eliyahu says:

    re link at #30
    by the way, quandt’s wife is Helena Cobban, one of the more fanatical board members [still or in the past?] of human rights watch.

  32. E.G. says:

    Funny, Quandt (Gunther) was the name of Magda Goebbels’ first husband, and her only surviving son (Harald).

  33. [...] Flotilla of Fools Tilts at Zionist Windmills: Open Letter to Europeans from a Medievalist [...]

  34. Michelle Schatzman says:

    Listening this morning to the radio news on France-culture (the intellectual arm of french state radio). No one mentions the little chanson mentioned by Eliyahu in his #23. Of course – it would probably spill the virtuous indignation to be developed against the bad Israelis.

    If I had been in charge of the operation, would I have done better? I’m just waiting for the videos that the Israel navy should have shot. If they had helicopters, did they have also video equipment on board? And people dedicated to the task of shooting pictures? We already heard witnesses explaining that the commandos fired their weapons even before being on board.We also learn that the militants on board were at the ready with knives and axes.

    But nobody seems to piont out that if they were pacifists, they should not have resisted the attack. Elementary logic seems to be gone.

  35. Michelle Schatzman says:

    Typo : read “spoil” instead of “spill” in line 3 of my #34.

  36. Eliyahu says:

    Michelle, unfortunately,
    We also learn that the militants on board were at the ready with knives and axes.

    Some of these goons were able to seize pistols and a rifle too, I believe, from soldiers. The thugs were the first to shoot using those weapons that they had seized. The soldiers then shot back. Also, the attack on the soldiers was pre-planned and thugs in mob-like formation were able to personally attack isolated soldiers with clubs, iron rods, axes, etc., as you say. However, the violence, according to Israel’s commander in chief, Gabi Ashkenazi, and defense minister Barak, was restricted to only the largest of the ships, the Mavi Marmara.

    Note that many of the “militant” passengers were young men. It should not be ruled out that some of them were soldiers in civilian clothes or army veterans.

    How come the French media and the rest of the Euro media have forgotten about Turks & Armenians [continuing denial of the Armenian genocide, erdogan’s threat to expel 100,000 Armenians from Turkey; Turks & Kurds; Turks & Greeks, etc??? On the other hand, it seems that even Greeks have forgotten what the Turks did to them. Maybe Greeks & Turks can be reconciled, can reach closure, on the grounds of their common hatred for Jews.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>