AnalysisShip of fools // By Ben Frankel

Published 3 June 2010

On Monday Israel forcibly stopped a ship heading toward Gaza; since Gaza is controlled by Hamas, a terrorist organization officially committed to the destruction of Israel, Israel insists on inspecting cargo heading to Gaza; al Qaeda operatives are already in Gaza, and Iran is the largest supplier of weapons and munitions to Hamas; the Israeli military operation was clumsy, but it revealed that the supposedly peaceful activists on the ship were anything but: they were equipped with stun grenades, guns, knives, machete, and other weapons, an attacked the Israeli soldiers with intent to kill; since Hamas is likely to try this flotilla approach to public relations again, Israel may want to think of more creative ways to intercept future ships heading toward Gaza

Here are five comments on recent events in the Middle East:

1. Advice to Israel: Be smart

When a high-school drive-ed student approaches an intersection, the driving instructor sitting next to her is likely to remind her that it is not enough to be right — you have to be smart as well: Even if the student has the right of way, it would be smarter to let a driver who does not, but who insists on driving into the intersection first, have his way. No good will come to anyone from realizing one’s rights if it leads to a deadly collision.

It is the same with Israel and its effort earlier in the week to intercept unsupervised ships from arriving at the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip: Israel has every right to defend itself, and to prevent sophisticated weapons from getting into the hands of an organization, the official ideology of which calls for the destruction of Israel. Israel would be better off, though, being smart in the manner in which it exercise this right for self defense.

2. Strange bedfellows

The few hundreds people on the ships that sailed toward Gaza were the strangest of bedfellows. There were pious Muslims — many from Turkey — who were motivated be religious convictions and wanted to help fellow Muslims; there were Hamas and al Qaeda sympathizers (and, according to intelligence sources, two al Qaeda operatives) whose goal was to force Israel to accept the reality of unsupervised ships arriving in Gaza — first with humanitarian aid, but soon with missile parts, long-range rockets, and powerful explosives; then there were Western do-gooders who were — genuinely or less-genuinely — moved by the plight of the Palestinian people and wanted to show their support.

We say “genuinely or less-genuinely” because it is a puzzling question why these activists always get exercised, and appear ready to spring into action, by what they perceive as Israel’s real or imagined violations, while ignoring far greater atrocities which inflict death and misery on many more people. Two recent examples are the brutal suppression of the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka (estimated number of civilian dead; 14,000), and on-going Russian oppression of Chechnya (estimated number of civilian dead: 240,000). One would also want to know why these do-gooders remain mute in the face of China’s brutality in Tibet, Robert Mugabe’s torturing of his own people, and more.

There is another question here: Many of these Western liberal