July 4, 2011 National Post
The much-hyped attempt to send a flotilla of ships to breach Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, in what is billed by organizers as a humanitarian mission, has been suspended. With support from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the Greek government offered on Sunday to deliver the ships’ humanitarian cargo to Gaza via organized channels, likely through the Israeli port of Ashdod and under the supervision of the UN. This is an intelligent resolution to a scenario that was likely to end in a futile stand-off and possible violence.
If the actual purpose of the flotilla is to get aid to the people of Gaza, the gesture should be received graciously by the flotilla participants. But unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen.
Only the terminally naive could still believe that the people taking part in this charade are pacifist do-gooders. From its conception to its attempted execution, the flotilla has been a study in political theatre and a coveted stage for self-serving leftist celebrities — such as writer Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, who is aboard the American ship The Audacity of Hope — to promenade their political correctness. For them and other Israel-hating agents provocateurs, Gaza’s plight is merely an excuse for a confrontation that will once again force Israel into the spotlight as an oppressor and flouter of international law.
But Israel’s blockade is perfectly legal. And Gaza doesn’t need humanitarian aid now, any more than it did during the previous flotilla disaster a year ago, when provocation by militants against unwary Israeli soldiers resulted in fatalities. After that incident, Israel eased restrictions and both food and medicine began to flow freely into Gaza.
Moreover, this flotilla is not, as its supporters contend, the spiritual heir to the 1947 refugee ship Exodus, which was filled with European Jews who survived the Holocaust. Any such specious moral equivalence constitutes an insult to the historical record.
The real intention of the flotilla is to break the blockade and end Hamas’ political isolation. There can be only one reason why anyone would consider such an outcome desirable: The absence of a blockade would allow the free passage of arms to the terror-embracing Hamas government, which has frequently demonstrated its goal of ending Israel’s existence as a nation.
Israel’s blockade of Gaza is a direct consequence of attacks launched from within the territory. If flotilla participants really want to ease Gazans’ isolation, they should encourage Hamas to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and to forswear terrorism.