20 July '11
On Tuesday the Israeli navy intercepted the Dignite al Karama, a French ship of about fifteen radical leftists and others headed straight toward the Israeli maritime blockade of Gaza (reports here and here). The Dignite was also the last remnant of what was supposed to be a ten-ship flotilla to Gaza but was foiled by a combination of tenacious Israeli diplomacy and, particularly, Greece’s refusal to let the ships embark from its ports.
The Dignite got around that by, after initially being stopped by the Greek coast guard, leaving the Greek island of Kastellorizo on Saturday ostensibly for Alexandria—and then shifting course. The passengers included a parliamentarian from the French Communist Party, a former French member of the European Parliament, an Al-Jazeera film crew, radical-left Israeli journalist Amira Hass, and radical Swedish-Israeli Israel-basher Dror Feiler. One passenger said the Dignite was “carrying a message of peace and hope and love.”
As for whatever supplies it was carrying, the Israeli navy told the vessel that they could be delivered to Gaza by land, it being perfectly legal to do so. The Dignite turned down the offer, and also refused to change course when that, too, was suggested. Israeli naval commandos boarded the ship without incident. The captain—who claimed the passengers had forced him to change course to Gaza—and the passengers were brought to Ashdod Port in Israel, from where they stand to be deported.
Thus what began ominously as a flotilla portending further violence, after the bloody Mavi Marmara incident last year, ended in something closer to farce. A turning point was the decision, for reasons still unclear, by Turkey’s jihadist IHH organization to opt out of the flotilla, leaving mostly a band of ’60s leftovers and professional Israel-baiters.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, one of the earlier reports on the Dignite disclosed that:
Israeli military officials said militants have stepped up weapons smuggling into Gaza since the ouster of longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February.
The officials said armed groups in Gaza now possess some 10,000 rockets as well as anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. Some of the rockets can strike deep into Israel.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a sensitive military assessment.
Nor are these weapons that sit idly in storerooms somewhere, Israel’s UN ambassador Ron Prosor having told the Security Council last week that “290 missiles and mortar shells have so far been fired at Israeli families by Gaza terrorists this year alone.” What is farcical about the Dignite passengers, then, is not only their daft conviction of their righteousness but the totality of their moral perversion, which views the prevention of yet more Iranian-dispatched weapons from entering Gaza, not the weapons themselves and the havoc they cause, as the target of the latest virtuous crusade.
The Dignite passengers and their other flotilla comrades should not, though, be shrugged off as a fringe curiosity, and not only because they’re part of the worldwide BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement that seriously harms and threatens Israel in its own right. No, in their dedication to an abstract or sentimental entity they call “the Palestinians”—no matter what levels of hatred and aggression toward Israel that body of people, whether in Gaza or the West Bank, repeatedly show as in the latest dire poll—the flotillistas are only a fine distillation of a syndrome that has afflicted international diplomacy for decades. Would that they were just marginal kooks.
P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator in Beersheva, Israel. He blogs at http://pdavidhornik.typepad.com.
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