This Week’s Attitude
Few in the international community paid any attention to the three-year Gaza naval blockade which existed before violent events erupted on May 31st during the Israel’s military’s interception of a six-ship flotilla — chartered by Hamas, a Muslim group committed to the destruction of the Jewish state.
Despite a rush of condemnation that flew as fast and as furious as the bullets fired by Israeli commandos, once details and videos of the incident circulated, it was clear that much of the criticism was premature.
The regrettable deaths of nine pro-Palestinian peace activists stirred a flood of criticism and controversy, but Israel has the right — and responsibility — to defend itself when its very existence is in jeopardy, especially if high-tech weapons are smuggled into the small Hamas-controlled area that borders the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Israel. The naval blockade is vital to that mission.
Those who rashly judged Israel, especially in the United States, should consider how they would want their nation to react under similar circumstances. They need only to be reminded of the most well known naval blockade in American history that protected our nation’s security — and may have helped sidestep World War III — from an enemy bent on targeting America. Just Google “Cuban Missile Crisis” to learn that in October 1962, President John F. Kennedy confronted Soviet ships, just 90 miles from our southern shore, when our Navy stopped the fleet before it unloaded with missiles in Cuba.
What Israel did may be unacceptable to its critics, most of whom would rather see nothing more than the Jewish nation wiped off the faces of the Earth, but when a country — bordered by hostile neighbors — faces the constant threat of eradication every day of its 62-year existence it’s necessary to do what’s in its best interest to ensure it is not annihilated.
Should Israel have used a little more restraint to prevent what became a diplomatic fiasco? According to the reports and video that have been released so far, it’s obvious that Hamas, in cahoots with an Islamic aid group based in Turkey, knew if Israel was pushed far enough a violent altercation would ensue.
Before the confrontation, a group opposed to the blockade stated that any violent response from Israel “will breathe new life into the Palestinian solidarity movement.”
Therefore, it is reasonable to assume the flotilla was more than just a humanitarian mission and, ostensibly, a setup to provoke the commandos, who reacted by firing on what did not appear to be pacifists, but may have been trained militants, armed with knives and metal rods when the ship was boarded.
The raid aftermath leaves little doubt Israel was suckered into a violent confrontation. Nevertheless, Israel must continue to prevent weapons from reaching the extremist Hamas government, as it pursues a practical solution with the Palestinian Authority that can only succeed if all parties demonstrate mutual respect and tolerance.
Israeli leaders and its citizens wish they didn’t have to permanently live under the constant threat of obliteration. But they have no choice. When faced with fanatical suicide bombers, who have no hesitation to kill innocent people, and the fear of randomly being bombarded by Hamas rockets that leave paths of death and destruction, Israeli is forced to mount any defense necessary to thwart attacks from its numerous enemies.
This week, Iran threatened to send its Republican Guard to assist in breaking Israel’s Gaza blockade. Before the situation gets out of hand and escalates into another Mideast or international conflict, the U.S. has to make every attempt to organize an impartial international effort to negotiate a solution that does not undermine Israel’s standing as a legitimate state while a fanatical group of Muslims hide behind innocent Palestinians and refuse to grant it any recognition.
In the aftermath of the incident, President Obama cannot abandon America’s historic responsibility to Israel and, despite the international anti-Israeli clamor, he must ensure that the Jewish State is treated fairly by the United Nations.
In a related matter, veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas retired Monday as a columnist for Hearst News Service in the wake of controversial remarks she recently made. In an interview, referring to Israelis, she said, “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine...these people are occupied. And it’s their land.” When asked where the Israelis should go, Thomas said they should “go home to Germany and Poland...” That is essentially the same view of Islamic radicals, like Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranian government, etc.
A well-respected, pioneering journalist, the 89- year-old Thomas, who traditionally asked the final question at Presidential news conferences for many years, was the first female member of the White House Correspondents’ Association and the prestigious Gridiron Club. She covered the White House since the 1960s. Too bad such a distinguished career had to end with such a low, humiliating episode.
Considering this week’s topic, this column would be remiss without admonishing City Councilman Charles Barron’s insensitivity when he likened what is happening to the Palestinians in Gaza to a “concentration death camp.” Barron was promptly — and suitably — repudiated by six of his Brooklyn colleagues.
Barron frequently spews his prejudiced point of view that may have been expected when he was a militant Black Panther, but it has no place in civilized politics. Nor do last week’s outlandish remarks, which seem to show his lack of understanding about the Holocaust when he associates it with the current situation in Gaza.