As expected, the provocation mounted by Muslim organizations in
association with “peace activists” was successful beyond their wildest
dreams: There were casualties. They can now continue pointing the
finger at Israel and blaming it for everything under the sun. The
organizers of the flotilla, a fanatic Turkish organization known under
the initials IHH and its European partners, had repeatedly and
explicitly declared before setting out that their purpose was to break
the Gaza siege and embarrass Israel.
The humanitarian supplies
brought on board were just a ploy to hide their avowed objective.
Israel did all it could to stop it. Appeals to Turkey went unheeded and
that country let the flotilla sail and gave its assistance. Israel
offered to have all humanitarian supplies brought to the Ashdod port
where they could then be sent to Gaza through our crossings. Israel
also asked the “peace militants” to transmit a letter to captured IDF
soldier Gilad Schalit, who has been in Hamas custody for almost four
years. The militants were not interested in any humanitarian operation.
They wanted to carry out their joint Arab-European propaganda offensive
against Israel in order to delegitimize the Jewish state, deepen its
isolation and provoke an international outcry.
the flotilla set sail the Arab media began broadcasting pictures of the
preparations together with aggressive declarations by the organizers
and the usual slanders against Israel. European governments and media
did not react nor did they heed the warnings issued by Israel.
were no recommendations of caution, and no honest reporting on the
actual situation in Gaza. Yet all knew that the blockade had started
because of the terror operations carried out by Hamas and the smuggling
of weapons. All knew also that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza:
Israel lets through dozens and sometimes hundreds of trucks laden with
humanitarian supplies on a daily basis.
Unfortunately we are
the target of an Arab and international propaganda offensive
characterized by the deliberate refusal to present the Israeli
positions and indeed anything positive about that country. This is
“political correctness” in its starkest expression. The organizers of
the so-called humanitarian operation understood only too well that they
could go on with their plans secure in the support of the Arab and
AND THEN it happened. These “peace militants”
carefully planned their ambush. After having said repeatedly that they
would only pose passive resistance, they attacked the soldiers who
boarded the ship with guns, iron bars and knives and led to the dire
results they were looking for.
Once again, they were fully
aware of the fact that Israel intended to lead the ships to the port of
Ashdod, deliver the supplies to Gaza and send the participants back to
their country of origin. Such a solution would have been acceptable to
both parties. The militants would have claimed a moral victory and
Israel would have sustained its legitimate policy of controlling what
went to the Gaza Strip. But this is not the way of the “peace
militants” whose hatred towards Israel knows no bounds. They wanted to
cause some damage, no matter the cost for them. After all, suicide
bombing is the terrorist weapon of choice and the aim justifies the
Did Israel have a choice? It had to stop the flotilla since no one knew
who the people on the ships were and what exactly they carried. Had the
ships been allowed to go through, others would have followed, perhaps
bringing weapons (and who knows, maybe terrorists) to Hamas, a
terrorist organization which has made its intent to destroy the Jewish
Stopping the flotilla was Israel’s right under international law. One
can also ask where all the peace organizations and their militants were
during the eight years Hamas deluged the south with thousands of
rockets. Where were they when Schalit was taken? Where were they when
Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in a bloody coup? Did they protest the
slaughter that went on? Did they protest when so-called opposition
leaders were thrown off the roofs of tall buildings? Did they protest
when other leaders had their kneecaps shot?
And so now we are facing a full-blown diplomatic crisis. Turkey will
use it to the full to harm Israel. Arab states – and Iran – will add
fuel to the fire and clamor for the UN to step in and condemn Israel.
The European Union will, as usual, put the blame squarely on us – and
us alone. In fact it has already started, without waiting for the whole
picture to emerge.
It won’t be easy for us for two reasons. Our government failed to
prepare adequately for the fallout and did not set in motion the media
blitz which would have presented our case more forcibly before the
flotilla set out. And two – we can’t expect help or even assistance
But if that’s the way it is, that’s the way it is. The biblical words
from Numbers 23:9 come to mind: “Lo, the people shall dwell alone and
shall not be reckoned among the nations.”
The writer is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden
and a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
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