A commentary by J. F. Kelly, Jr.
After repeated, well-publicized warnings that it would prevent by force if necessary, a group of ships, organized by a Turkish-based pro-Hamas organization with other links to terrorism, loaded with a meager cargo of humanitarian aid and a large cargo of loud-mouthed, anti-Israeli activists, from breaking its naval blockade of Gaza, Israel did what it said it would. All of the ships except one were boarded without incident. Activists on the largest ship attacked the boarding party, armed with paint ball guns, with clubs and knives. The Israeli commandoes responded with lethal force, killing nine.
The victims were not blameless humanitarians, primarily concerned with aiding the residents of Hamas-controlled Gaza. If they were, they would have accepted Israel’s offer to land at the nearby Israeli port of Ashod, so that the cargo could be inspected for forbidden items, including cement, as other vessels carrying supplies for Gaza have done in the past. On two previous occasions, Israe;I naval forces had intercepted Iranian weapons bound for Gaza. They choose to participate in an effort to break ablockade that is every bit as legitimate as blockades that the U. S. has imposed against Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis and more recently against Iran, to name only two of many. Israel imposed the blockade after living through a missile crisis of its own. Thousands of rockets were fired indiscriminately on Israeli towns and villages including civilian neighborhoods, schools and hospitals. Ask yourself what we would have done had missiles been fired from Cuba or anywhere else.
That the action occurred in international waters is totally irrelevant. The ships, romantically termed a humanitarian flotilla, were bound for Gaza and their stated intent was to break the blockade and “free” Gaza. which, of course, is already free, if you consider living under the rule of a terrorist organization like Gaza, freedom. If Israel permitted ships to run the blockade uninspected, the number of weapons being smuggled into Gaza would increase exponentially. Against whom, do you suppose, would these weapons be used?
Israel is already allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza, most of it provided by the Israeli themselves. If humanitarian concerns were the prime motive of the activists, why didn’t they sail for Somalia or Sudan whose residents sorely need some aid. You can guess why. That would be dangerous. Instead of being detained and deported, they might be shot and dragged through the streets and there would be none of the soul searching about excess force now going on in Israel. That there were casualties is regrettable. The lesson learned should be that immature, naïve activists should probably refrain from running a naval blockade or at least be prepared to accept the consequences without claiming victim status.
The once-great, former colonial powers of Europe, reduced now in influence to mral sermonizing, and ,of course, the entire Arab world exploded in wrath. Even the U.S., Israel’s closest ally, joined in the condemnation while at the same time clumsily trying to straddle the fence. Military operations, according to the new morality, must not result in civilian deaths, even in an era when all the terrorists are civilians. At the same timewe accept a tolerable number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan, calling them. unavoidable collateral casualties, and permitting targeted assassinations by drone-launched missiles. It’s not that I’m criticizing our tactics. It’s just the double standard that troubles. We can do what is necessary to protect our interests, but Israel cannot? What gives us the right to prescribe the terms by which another sovereign nation can defend itself and the people whose safety is their prime responsibility..
The European reaction is predictable, if irrelevant. Europe, with its large and growing Muslim population, is already largely anti-Israel. And the knee-jerk reaction from Arab countries is a given. What do you expect from countries where a large percentage of the people openly profess hatred of Jews and whose government steadfastly refuse to recognize the state of Israel or even its right to exist. And therein is the crux of the problem. Peace will never come to the Middle East until that changes.
Copyright 2010 J. F. Kelly, Jr.