The organizers of the “Freedom Flotilla” thought they could shame Israel into lifting its blockade of Gaza by making it concede that the “humanitarian” supplies it carried in its various holds were indeed merely “humanitarian.” They are oblivious or indifferent, but mostly hostile, to the necessity of Israel needing to inspect those cargos for arms and military materiel being smuggled to the terrorist organization Hamas. Hamas does not so much govern Gaza’s 1.5 million people (aka “Palestinians”) as rules them with fear and an iron fist. It is repeated the world over that Israel “occupies” Gaza and is cruel and even “genocidal,” when in fact Hamas occupies Gaza and is cruel and has genocide in mind in its campaign to destroy Israel.
The last thing Hamas would want to see is a happy, well-fed, healthy, and carefree Palestinian. It, Iran, and Hezbollah have a vested interest in the continued suffering and misery of the Palestinians, and in maintaining their collective identity as oppressed Palestinians. But, if the election results are to be accepted at face value, the Palestinians elected their abusers. So, no anguish should be wasted on these “stateless” hordes.
Israel bungled its raid on the biggest vessel in the flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, sailing under the Turkish flag. From a helicopter it dropped commandos armed with only paintball guns and side arms (the paintball guns intended to mark troublemakers), only to have them brutally attacked by terrorists Israeli intelligence should have known would be on the vessel, given the organization’s proven ties to Hamas. This folly has been discussed more thoroughly elsewhere. Eleven “peace” activists died, including one Turkish-American. Many of these “activists” wrote their wills in expectation that they would die as Islamic martyrs when they “resisted” the Israeli boarding party. The Mavi Marmara was a setup, designed to entrap Israel. Note that terrorists usually prefer to be referred to as “resistance” fighters, when in truth they are the aggressors. Oft times they are called “freedom fighters”; we should take that term literally, because it is freedom they are fighting.
Further, one must question the “humanitarian” compassion of the flotilla activists who were not terrorists. I have yet to hear of them organizing an underground railroad for Iranian dissenters. I don‘t recall them demonstrating in protest of the murder of Neda Soltani, the Iranian girl killed by a government sniper during the June demonstrations last year against the rigged reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Have they launched a raid on Cuban prisons to free political prisoners, or sent aid to Venezuelans suffering under Hugo Chavez’s impoverishing tyranny? No.
But when the regimes of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Cuba, and Venezuela employ force against their political opposition, either in the streets or in violent purges, the silence of these “humanitarians” is deafening. We never hear of them organizing a flotilla with the purpose of “embarrassing” a dictatorship and bringing world opprobrium to bear on it.
These humanitarians are very selective of which tyrannies they oppose. If it’s a moderately free country, which Israel is, and especially if it is productive despite its socialism, then they’re against it. Never mind that its committed enemies wish to destroy it and initiate a second holocaust. Never mind the many Israelis murdered by Hamas, Hezbollah, the PLO, and other “freedom fighters”; they were guilty by association and deserved to die. As for Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela — well, these are cultural matters beyond judgment and it would be arrogant to meddle in those countries’ affairs. Why, it would be the height of moral hegemony!
Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum on June 4th notes that the flotilla ruse was merely the latest instance of an attempt to emasculate Israel’s moral right to self-defense.
Instead of launching planes, tanks, and ships at the Jewish state, they turned to other means – weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and (most recently) political delegitimization. Delegitimization turns the rules of war upside down: in particular strength is weakness and public opinion has supreme importance.
Or, the “weakness” of the “non-violent,” “peaceful” flotilla is exploited to rally world opinion against Israel when its military stops the flotilla — and walks into a public relations ambush (when it foolishly discounted the possibility of armed terrorists being on the Mavi Marmara).
Charles Krauthammer, in his June 4th no-holds-barred column in The Washington Post, “Those Troublesome Jews,“ expands on the tactic of delegitimization and explains the special focus on Israel:
Oh, but weren’t the Gaza-bound ships on a mission of humanitarian relief? No. Otherwise they would have accepted Israel’s offer to bring their supplies to an Israeli port, to be inspected for military materiel and have the rest trucked by Israel into Gaza — as every week 10,000 tons of food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies are sent by Israel to Gaza.
Why was the offer refused? Because, as organizer Greta Berlin admitted, the flotilla was not about humanitarian relief but about breaking the blockade, i.e., ending Israel’s inspection regime, which would mean unlimited shipping into Gaza and thus the unlimited arming of Hamas.
Israel has already twice intercepted ships laden with Iranian arms destined for Hezbollah and Gaza. What country would allow that?
Brigitte Gabriel also explains that the organization that oversaw the flotilla, the Turkish-based International Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), does not have humanitarian relief in mind so much as enfeebling and disarming Israel:
IHH is an associate of Hamas and a member of the Union of the Good. This Union is headed by Yousef Al Qaradawi, one of the world’s most notorious Islamic terrorists (banned in England and America) and leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. IHH was already involved in the purchasing of automatic weapons from other militant Islamic groups as far back as 1990 when their President Bulent Yildrim was focused on recruiting “Veteran soldiers in anticipation of the coming Holy war [jihad].”
Simply put, IHH is a jihadist group cloaked in a humanitarian outfit. It has played important roles in terrorist operations such as the Millennium bomb plot and has been involved in weapons trafficking.
Simply put, the IHH, like many such Islamic-controlled “charities,” is a stalking horse, concealing its true purpose, which is the destruction of Israel. In this instance, the stalking horse was a flotilla whose passengers were mostly vessels of indiscriminate, selfless compassion and exemplars of useful idiocy. Nevertheless, they are knowing abettors to the crime.
Closer to home, another stalking horse is the federal government’s fabricated and wholly unwarranted angst over the “excesses” of freedom of speech — the alleged ubiquity of “hate speech” in talk radio and cable TV, and the news reported on the Internet in competition with the “traditional” print media. It is an angst prodded by collectivist and leftist groups who wish to be protected from whatever truths might be revealed about them, who wish to establish government-imposed criteria of what constitutes “news” and the credentials of journalists, and to better indoctrinate the American public without any interference from whistle-blowers.
As reported elsewhere, the advocates of “net neutrality,” government control of news reportage, and the regulation of information are creeping closer to their goals with little opposition from those who ought to be beating to quarters in defense of the First Amendment. Just as the IHH and other “humanitarian” outfits can count on the MSM to condemn Israel over the “vulnerability” and plight of the Palestinians, organizations in the U.S. can count on the MSM to turn a blind eye to their purposes of seeing the First Amendment gutted, abridged and rendered meaningless to protect the “vulnerable” and the “oppressed.” They are coming out of the woodwork, lured by the Obama administration’s lukewarm regard for the Constitution.
What we have been witnessing for some years is a stealthy, incremental attempt to “delegitimize” the First Amendment and the freedom of speech by sending out the stalking horse of “hate speech.” It can be defined as any utterance that may “hurt” or “offend” certain groups, or potentially incite others to violence against those groups. But who will decide what is and is not “hate speech,” in what venue it may or may not be permitted, and how should the government be empowered to censor it?
In absolute, unqualified accordance with the First Amendment, that Congress shall pass no law infringing on the freedom of speech or infringing on the freedom of the press, we have the example of White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who exercised her freedom of speech by making viciously bigoted comments about Jews on the occasion of the Gaza flotilla raid. She had every right to say what she said, but she has paid the price for her virulence. Public and official outrage (perhaps only embarrassment) compelled her to resign her place in the White House press corps and end her long career.
No government agency compelled her to say what she said; no government agency censored her words, which certainly fell under the definition of “hate speech.” No government agency forced her to give up her career. No government agency forced a speakers bureau to drop her from its list. No government agency is warning the Hearst Corporation to fire her.
If the government had had the power to censor her hate speech — whether on the Internet or in the “traditional” press — would we know the truth about Helen Thomas? No.
If “hate speech” is protected by the First Amendment, the Helen Thomas episode has demonstrated one of the practical values of that Amendment: it allows individuals to reveal their philosophy, their morality, and their souls for all to see. One may agree with them, disagree with them, or ignore them. And the only individuals who might be “incited” to violence against Jews by Thomas‘s hate speech, have been subjecting Jews and Israel to violence for decades: the Islamic jihadists of all stripes and suasions.
The Thomas episode, and the proper response to her words, could not have happened at a more crucial time. It may give the advocates of censorship reason to pause — for the time being — until a more amenable instance of hate speech rears its ugly head. The world was busy condemning Israel — and, by implication, Jews — for the horrendous act of defending its right to exist.
And then Helen Thomas opened her mouth, and spooked the stalking horse away. The world had to condemn one or the other: Israel, or Helen Thomas’s bile. It couldn’t have it both ways — at least, not for the moment.