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!”?
Available in Polish, translated by Malgorzata Koraszewska here. The recent stunning performance of Marcia Freedman at the J-Street conference, calling for a one-state solution (almost surely Read More »