Some thoughts about flotillas

It has always been abundantly clear that for the Arab nations in the Middle East and most activists who purport to be pro-Palestinian, the true impetus for their activism comes from their anti-Israel inclinations.

In the past I have argued that it is only possible to be truly pro-Palestinian if you are also pro-peace with Israel. Nothing good has come to the Palestinians as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and to be pro-Palestinian must therefore consist of being pro-peace as well. This unfortunately is not the case, and though for activists it is easier to be heard when you speak out against Israel, the people who will ultimately suffer are the Palestinian people.

Throughout the history of the conflict is has always been abundantly clear that the Arab nations of the Middle East, though theoretically aligned with the Palestinian people, have done little to assist in their plight. They insist on including the Palestinians in peace treaties, proposals, United Nations Resolutions, and a plethora of other idealistic ambitions, but the facts on the ground have shown that very little in terms of practical support has been offered by Arab countries to the Palestinians. Egypt has done exceptionally little to help the people of Gaza; Jordan has never been too enthusiastic about assisting the Palestinians in the West Bank; and most glaringly, there remains millions of Palestinian refugees in camps in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. These refugees have not become citizens, they are barred from practicing certain professions, and they are unable to overcome their plight as Palestinians. Israel thus hardly seems to be an obstacle in this sense.

The Arab world’s unwillingness to actively support the Palestinians has further been demonstrated, though subtly, in the new trend at delegitimizing Israel’s exercise of self-defence – breaking the naval blockade of Gaza and attempting to “deliver humanitarian aid” to Gaza.

The now infamous voyage of the Mavi Marmara set a new course for how to instigate criticism of Israel and provoke them into conflict. Suicide bombs were thwarted with the security fence, the Iron Dome halts rocket attacks, so now marine warfare seems to be the next fad attempt to try bring Israel to its knees. That and indiscriminate stabbings.

Since that original Turkish flotilla, Iran, Lebanon, Libya and now Tunisia have announced that they will be sending aid ships to Gaza to try to break the Israeli naval blockade.

The message of this action?
Explicit: we are trying to break the blockade.
Implicit: We have not yet attempted to help the Gazans at all until it can be done in conjunction with trying to make Israel look bad.

These constant flotillas will give the message that is intended to be conveyed by Israel’s enemies: Israel is preventing aid from entering Gaza and is encouraging a humanitarian crisis in the territory. However one need only look under the surface at this rush to delegitimize Israel to see what is really being shown: Arab nations only help the Palestinians when Israel stands to be attacked in some form. Suddenly hearing about attempts to get aid into Gaza demonstrates that no such attempts have been made in the past, and that attempting to help the Palestinians will only come at Israel’s expense. The blockade has already been in place for years, yet we have heard nothing of other countries trying to support the people of Gaza. The reason we have not heard anything, is because they have not been supporting the Palestinians. Yet what is the only country supplying Gaza with any form of supplies? Israel.

In the most recent flotilla-escapade, during the week of June 28, 2015, a Swedish protest-boat carrying 18 activists and journalists, including various activists and a former prime-minister of Tunisia as well as an Israeli Member of Knesset (Basel Ghattas of the Arab Joint List) declared that they would be sailing to Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid to the Gazans.

After being intercepted by the Israeli military (only one boat was intercepted as the other 3 in the flotilla turned away before encountering the Israelis), towed to Ashdod, and unloaded, Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s Defence Minister, said that there was no aid on board. However, William Booth (of the Washington Post) reported that the boat may actually have been carrying humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in Gaza after all. What was that aid? Two cardboard boxes, including one solar panel and one nubulizer (a device used to inhale medication).

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Two cardboard boxes of “humanitarian aid”? Seems like maybe it won’t be so hard in the end to read the implicit message these flotillas are sending.

This message is of course not one that will be publicized or picked up by any sort of main stream media. No one wants to criticize the Arab governments, and front page news is only made if the Jewish state is somehow to blame. What is important in the conflict in the Middle East however is to read between the lines, see what messages are being distorted, and speak the truth so that both nations, Israel and the Palestinians, can receive the support they require for legitimacy, full human rights, and peace.

About the Author
Adam Hummel is a lawyer specializing in immigration law at Mamann, Sandaluk & Kingwell LLP in Toronto. He is an active member of Toronto's Jewish community, and founder of Youth Ambassadors for Peace in Kenya.
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