US FLOTILLA ACTIVISTS from ‘The Audacity of Hope’ 311.
(photo credit: Yiorgos Karahalis/Reuters)
When news emerged that “Freedom Flotilla 2” was tied up in Greece for weeks and
unable to carry out its plan to breach Israel’s blockade of Hamas-controlled
Gaza, a song from Camelot came to mind. Queen Guinevere asks, “What do the
simple folk do... when they are blue?” and King Arthur tries to
You have to ask the same question about the Flotilla Folk. Who
are they, what do they do and why do they do it? Almost 1,500 of them from
around the world planned to fly to Greece, board ships and sail across the
Mediterranean to the Gaza Strip in July.
The Flotilla Folk say they are
just ordinary folk committed to human rights. But how do ordinary folk have time
for the complicated preparations necessary for such an adventure, and for
spending weeks in Greece and Gaza? Don’t they have jobs? Or do they get their
summers off? And how do ordinary folk have the funds to buy ships, fly to
Greece, and spend weeks in hotels waiting to launch the latest publicity stunt
they have concocted to smear Israel?
How do they pay for their expensive human
rights hobby? Apparently they don’t have to do much preparing. Established
radical groups affiliated with Hamas take care of all the details, like the
Union of Good (UoG), a coalition of European charities affiliated with the
Muslim Brotherhood, and the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). The ISM has
praised Palestinian suicide bombing as “noble,” spent the last 10 years training
international volunteers to sabotage Israel’s security, and received official
invitations from Hamas to come to Gaza.
These groups raise the money
through their various affiliated “charities,” which sometimes generate funds
through mainstream businesses. Or they raise money by misinforming well-meaning
people about their purposes, as the US delegation to Gaza did by having the
audacity to name its boat after President Barack Obama’s book, The Audacity of
But why would Flotilla Folk spend their vacations trying to violate
Israel’s legal naval blockade of Gaza in order to visit and embrace Hamas, the
terrorist organization that controls the territory? Flotilla Folk leaders like
UoG and ISM support Hamas and its battle against Israel’s existence. Others,
like Medea Benjamin, Col.
Ann Wright and Hedy Epstein have turned
activism against Israel into full-time careers. Some Flotilla Folk are
well-meaning people who simply accept, uncritically, the distorted facts used to
demonize the country. Still others were once on the front lines of the battle
for civil rights and against Apartheid.
BUT WHAT do such idealistic folk
do when the problems they once fought have been resolved? Many, like Alice
Walker, try to recapture those idealistic, heady times and camaraderie by seeing
the same injustices even where they don’t exist, and ignoring them where they do
exist. They gullibly accept the misinformation propagated by the UoG and ISM,
and superimpose the lens of the civil rights or anti-Apartheid movements on the
Arab-Israeli conflict. They are entirely unaware that the multicultural Jewish
state is among the most progressive in the world and has sought peace with its
Arab neighbors since it was reestablished in 1948.
Many are journalists
just looking for another great story about Israeli brutality. It always
But Flotilla Folk want to be human rights heroes without really
putting themselves in harm’s way. So they don’t go to help the victims of the
brutal regimes in Syria, Iran, the Congo or Darfur.
Instead, they choose
to fight Israel because they know it strictly follows Western humanitarian
standards and the rule of law. They get to pretend they are brave warriors, when
in fact, they are only play-acting on a safe stage.
Whatever they do in
their private lives and whatever lens they use, Flotilla Folk share a basic
philosophy. They believe that the way to bring peace to the Middle East is
through acts of civil disobedience that will get media attention, not through
encouraging negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
like ordinary people. They think it is okay to ignore terrorism against
Israelis, to overlook the 8,000 rockets Hamas has fired from Gaza into Israeli
communities over the past five years, turning everyday life into a lethal game
of Russian roulette. They think it is okay to ignore the fact that Hamas is an
Iranian proxy, and that Hamas’s founding document calls for the murder of Jews,
the “obliteration” of Israel and its replacement with a fundamentalist theocracy
that opposes all the freedoms and social justice values for which the Flotilla
Folk claim to stand. And they think it’s okay to embrace Hamas, even though its
founding document cites the anti-Semitic Czarist forgery, The Protocols of the
Elders of Zion – a racist tract that was once called a “warrant for the
genocide” of Jews.
They think it is okay to ignore terrorism from the
West Bank – even the murder of the Fogel family, including a three-month-old
infant, and the fact that the murderers showed no remorse for their savage act.
And they act as though it is okay to ignore the hate-filled incitement that
saturates Palestinian society and creates people like the Fogels’
The Flotilla Folk are not like other people. They use
repressive methods and manipulate information. Dutch journalists who had been
part of the flotilla abandoned it in disgust after seeing these methods used.
The one small boat that did finally attempt to sail to Gaza didn’t have any
humanitarian goods on board – only Israel-haters. These flotilla folk spread
hate, not hope. They support repressive forces in the Middle East, like Hamas,
not the moderates seeking peaceful coexistence. They abuse and pervert human
rights values instead of upholding them. They are enemies, not friends, of
Palestinians and Israelis, and of the brave demonstrators in Syria, Iran and
elsewhere, whom they ignore.
Fortunately international leaders,
especially those in Greece, exposed the hypocrisy of the Flotilla Folk and their
false pretenses, and stopped them. But Flotilla Folk don’t give up. With their
zealotry, they will try to devise other media ops to destroy Israel’s
international image. It is time to denounce these destructive campaigns and get
serious about promoting peace. Anyone who truly yearns to see Israelis and
Palestinians living in peaceful coexistence should stop indulging in
disingenuous stunts and urge Palestinians to return to the negotiating
Roz Rothstein is the co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs, and
Roberta Seid, PhD, is the director of education and research for StandWithUs.