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Peace activists or accomplices?

By Bruce S. Ticker

Bruce S. Ticker

PHILADELPHIA — Is it just me, or did you also wonder how these “peace activists” found the free time to join the mission defying Israel’s blockade? Did you also wonder how they could afford to travel the world for this purpose?

Here’s the critical question: How could educated, compassionate people fail to sense something strange about their compatriots? How were they so incapable of figuring out the current facts of life in the Middle East before they even stepped foot on the Mavi Marmara or one of its sister ships?

These “peace activists” may be intelligent, idealistic people, but they have a stupid side. Either they could not comprehend the realities or they did not care. I can absolve the first group, but the latter group is despicable and probably anti-Semitic.

The motives of some activists merit consideration, and the Israeli government and military should not escape legitimate criticism when it emerges. Even if the military made mistakes when it intercepted the Mavi Marmara on Memorial Day, the passengers should never have pushed Israel into that position in the first place. As readers are aware, Israel said that its commandos were attacked by extremists and killed nine of them to defend themselves.

The peaceniks chose between Israel’s security and ostensibly aiding the Gazan people. Who made their choice knowingly and who genuinely misunderstood Israel’s situation?

Israel was stuck in a corner. Its leaders feared that these ships, supposed to be carrying humanitarian supplies, could be smuggling weapons and other materials that Hamas, the terrorist pack that dominates Gaza, might employ for future attacks on Israel. Hamas is pledged to Israel’s destruction and for years launched rockets into southern Israeli towns. In another act of war, Hamas persists in holding Israeli Sgt. Gilad Shalit hostage after nearly four years.

Some longtime critics of Israel were probably accustomed to assailing past misguided Israeli policies – especially, the 1982 Lebanon war and the construction and retention of settlements throughout Gaza and the West Bank. In the interim, Israel offered the Palestinian Arabs their own state in 2000; pulled out of Gaza in 2005; and mainly undertook military operations that were defensive in nature. Now Israel faces ongoing threats from terrorists in Iran, Gaza and Lebanon.

These developments have been front-page news for the last decade, so the peaceniks are hardpressed to explain how they could be so ignorant of this.

Quoting several analysts, The New York Times reported that the Free Gaza Movement, which sponsored the flotilla, is a varied coalition of groups and individuals, “often with little in common apart from opposition” to the blockade. Varied media reports said that peace activists included members of national legislatures, a writer, a physician, a retired diplomat and a retired registered nurse from Cape Cod.

Some activists sound like good people who genuinely wanted to help the needy. The nurse has helped victims of Haiti’s earthquake. Another passenger was an Irish politician whose father is a retired marine in Massachusetts who once organized opposition to the Vietnam war. Former American diplomat Edward Peck, who served in the Reagan administration, no doubt remembers the Lebanon war.

News reports suggest that the peaceniks did not trust the Israeli government to deliver the humanitarian supplies to Gaza. On top of that, I would speculate that they took into consideration that the Israeli government is controlled by a coalition of rightwing parties headed by Likud.

What they may need to understand is that Likud’s return to power directly resulted from the ongoing hostility Israel faced from the Palestinians despite its significant strides to peace. Israeli voters tend to play good cop/bad cop.

The peaceniks might not engage in violence, but they joined a flotilla filled with fanatics who would employ violence, and did. You would think the peace activists might notice signs of bizarre behavior and even spot devices that could be used as weapons.

Some years ago, when Israel announced the discovery of 90 tunnels in Rafah, the southern border town in Gaza, it occurred to me that members of the International Solidarity Movement like Rachel Corrie must have been aware of them. They probably observed weapons carried by Palestinian Arabs in the towns where they stayed. Corrie is the 23-year-old ISM member who was killed when she attempted to block an Israeli bulldozer.

Likewise, I suspect that the American and European passengers on the flotilla were aware of clues that something was amiss.

Even if the “peace activists” neither lifted a hand against the commandos nor had any idea about the intentions of extremist passengers, they still participated in an act of war simply by trying to break a blockade arranged by a sovereign nation that, whatever its lapses, was trying to protect its citizens.

For smart people, they are extraordinarily dumb.


Bruce S. Ticker is a freelance journalist based in Philadelphia. He blogs at www.jewishconcerns.blogspot.com and can be contacted at bticker@comcast.net.

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