When the going gets tough, the not-so-tough call in the cliches. The world’s “leaders” are shocked! — shocked! — when Israel defends itself. Actually, they’re “shocked” just like Claude Rains, the police inspector in “Casablanca,” was shocked to learn that gambling was going on in the casino at Rick’s Cafe.
Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations who rarely sees Third World evil, shocking or otherwise, says he was “shocked” by the Israeli navy’s stopping a convoy that was attempting to break through the blockade of Islamist terrorists in Gaza. The governments of Sweden, Greece and Jordan were so “shocked” that they recalled their ambassadors to Israel to get the inside dope to further fuel their “shock.” Tony Blair, who is some sort of “peacemaker”-at-large in the Middle East, was “shocked,” too. If he is, it’s only because he hasn’t been in the Middle East long enough to unpack his Gladstone. France was not just a little bit “shocked,” but “profoundly shocked.” There was so much “shock” in the air that the manufactured mourning became electric.
The convoy of six ships carried not only thousands of tons of supplies, but hundreds of “activists,” and when the smoke cleared, a dozen or so activists — the count varied through the day — had been rendered inactivists capable of no further mischief. The European Union demanded an official inquiry, so profound was its “shock.” The United Nations went into emergency session to recover from its own “shock.”
These usual suspects went riding off in several directions even before they could mount their horses, but an investigation, official or otherwise, is not really necessary. Verdict now, facts later. The Associated Press, which once took pride in its reporting but is awash now only in activists and pundits, set out the story line: “Dozens of activists and six Israeli soldiers were wounded in the bloody predawn confrontation in international waters. The violent takeover dealt yet another blow to Israel’s international image, already tarnished by war crimes accusations in Gaza and its three-year-old blockade of the impoverished Palestinian territory.”
The account of the Israeli commandos tells a different story. The Mava Marmara, the lead ship in the armada, was told to change course and not land in Gaza. When it ignored the warning, Israeli marines and commandos boarded the ship, some by rope ladders from helicopters. A fierce fight erupted on deck, and only after taking casualties and fearing for their lives did the commandos fire back, trying to aim first at the feet of the “peace activists.”
Israel is at war, fighting for its very existence, surrounded by hostile Islamic regimes, some more hostile than others. Not all the hostile regimes approve, or so they say, of the Islamist campaign of extinction of Israel by attrition. None of these hostile regimes will do anything to persuade, or compel, the Palestinians to give up the Islamist dream of destroying Israel in a second Holocaust. This is the reality in the Middle East, and everyone in Washington, London, Paris and the other capitals of the West knows it. Who could be shocked when the Israelis do what they think they must do to survive?
The facts on ground and sea are, as usual, ignored in the din of rioting in the streets and diplomatic argle-bargle, with the usual simplistic media telling of the story: The “activist” armada of “peace” ships was intended only to relieve the suffering of women, children and maybe even an occasional cute kitten or puppy. The less appealing but more accurate account is that the “activist” account is bunk.
Adequate supplies of food, medicine and other necessary goods are delivered regularly to Palestinians in Gaza — and by the Israelis. The government in Jerusalem quickly invited reporters to the Kerem Shalom crossing to see, and photograph, the convoys of trucks delivering these goods to Gaza. The Israelis even offered to transfer the goods from the “activist” boats as soon as they could be unloaded and inspected. The sponsor of the “activist” armada, the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, is regarded by Israel as a radical Islamist organization, part of a global fundraising operation for Hamas. If the Israelis allow such flotillas to deliver supplies to Gaza, other ships will follow, not with rice and beans but with explosives, rifles and long-range Iranian Fajr-5 missiles.
But the attack of the “peace” ships was intended for an even larger and more important purpose — to undermine Israeli determination to continue the struggle for its survival. This won’t shock anyone who’s paying attention.
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.