Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fisking “Another Flotilla Stand-off: The Audacity of Hate”

By Susan Esther Barnes

I don’t usually do this – actually, I’ve never done this before – but I’m feeling compelled to fisk Ray Hanania’s article "Another Flotilla Stand-off: The Audacity of Hate" from the Jerusalem Post. Apparently the author is a Palestinian activist, so I give him props for trying to write about how both sides are wrong here, but he still falls in to some common rhetorical traps.

So here goes, with the article in quotes and italics.

“The only thing the activists want is to fan the flames of regional extremism.”
That may be one of the things they want, but I don’t think it’s the only thing they want.

“The idea of bringing aide to the people of Gaza is a noble one. Although Israel withdrew its military and settler extremists from the Gaza Strip in September 2005, it has maintained an iron-clad military embargo.”
For the record, Israel also withdrew all of its Jewish non-extremists from the Gaza Strip. Every single Jewish person in the area, no matter how long they had lived there or what they had invested there, was uprooted and moved out. The area was made completely Judenrein.

Also, although I’m sure the Israeli government wishes it were, the military embargo is hardly iron-clad. Weapons, ammunition, and the materials to make them are smuggled into the area all the time, via tunnels and other means.

“Several times, activists have tried to break the Israeli siege. Last year, nine were gunned down when their flotilla approached the Gaza Strip. Israeli special forces assaulted the boats, claiming the civilians aboard attacked them.”
The Israeli forces claimed the people on the boats attacked them because the people on the boats attacked them. This has been clearly documented in video footage from the incident. Israeli soldiers were wounded by the boat passengers. This is also well documented.

“This year, Israel got smart and worked through Greece to prevent a second flotilla from embarking on its mission.”
I agree.

“Ironically, Palestinian activists claim that more and more nations are championing their extremist agenda, but Greece is proof that this is just not true.”
Just because Greece decided to do the right thing doesn’t mean other nations are going to do the right thing. Greece’s actions are a good example to other nations but that doesn’t mean other nations are going to see the light.

“The activists say they want to help the people of the Gaza. The Israelis say they want to prevent Hamas from getting arms.

"Neither side is being honest.”

Some of the activists probably do want to help the people of Gaza. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be aware that even the Gazans say they don’t need this “aid.” What the Gazans say they need is not more goods coming in, but to get more goods flowing out.

Is the author implying the Israelis are lying when they say they want to prevent Hamas from getting arms? Because I’m pretty sure they do want that, since Hamas wants to use the arms against the Israelis.

“The Israelis hate Palestinians.”
Some, but not all, nor even the majority, of Israelis hate the Palestinians. About 20% of the Israelis are Arabs, and many of them don’t hate the Palestinians. Many Jewish Israelis also do not hate the Palestinians.

“The government’s policies reject Palestinian statehood rights.”
The Prime Minister of Israel has stated that he believes in a two state solution, which means he does not reject out of hand Palestinian statehood rights. As a condition of the formation of a Palestinian State, the Israeli government wants the proposed new Palestinian state to affirm Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish country. It would be suicidal for Israel to support a Palestinian state that is intent on destroying the Israeli state. The problem here is that the Palestinians reject Israeli/Jewish statehood rights.

“Israelis claim they left Gaza,”
The Israelis claim they left Gaza because they left Gaza. There are no Jews living in Gaza, Israeli or not.

“but the truth is they have put a choke-hold on the area, turning it into an outdoor prison.”
Gaza is not a prison. Unlike in prison, people in Gaza vote for their own government, choose to go outside or stay inside, chose what to have for meals and when they eat them, go to bed when they like, marry, have children, go to work and school, etc., without any interference from the Israeli government. They can also cross the border into Egypt if they so choose. I'm not saying it's paradise there, but neither is it a prison.

"At anytime, Israel can reenter and wreak havoc.”
Pretty much any country in the world can enter a neighbor at any time and wreak havoc. That doesn't mean they're going to, or that they want to. In the meantime, rockets continue to be fired from Gaza into Israel. What other country is expected to be repeatedly bombed by a neighbor and not respond?

“Israel’s refusal to suspend expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank is a testament to its governmet’s campaign to destroy the peace process.”
West Bank settlements are almost entirely in areas that both sides agree will most likely remain as a part of Israel when final borders are determined. So expansion of settlements is in no way an impediment to the peace process.

And even if the settlements expand into areas that may become part of a Palestinian state, so what? There are plenty of Christian and Muslim Arabs living peacefully in Israel. Why can’t there be any Jews living peacefully in a Palestinian state?

“Refusing to recognize Palestinian rights is the equivalent of the Palestinian activists who reject Israel’s right to exist.”
Refusing rights to a group of people is not the same as trying to wipe an existing country off the map. Refusing Palestinian rights is not the same as trying to kill all the Palestinians, and Hamas wants to kill all the Jews.

“The Palestinain activists are no different. They claim they are just bringing food, medicine and other supplies to the besieged people of the Gaza Strip, but the truth is they are merely exploiting Palestinian suffering as a political tool.

“Greece is blocking 10 ships from sailing, but has offered to deliver the food, medicine and other supplies through normal channels. Some of the ships are named The Audacity of Hope, and Tahrir (Liberation).

“But relieving the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza is not really the goal of the activist leaders. In covering the stand-off, Reuters reports: ‘In an effort to calm the activists, Greece offered to ferry the aid to Gaza in cooperation with the United Nations. The activists turned the offer down, saying this was ‘insufficient,’ as their mission was also about the rights of the Palestinian people and not just about aid.’

“Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinides responded, ‘It is an offer that is always on the table, and is still on the table.’”

This shows the flotilla leaders aren’t interested in delivering aid to Gaza. The “aid” is just sitting there, gathering dust, when it could already be across the border.

“Many Palestinians genuinely believe the lies of the flotilla leaders, that they seek to break the Israeli siege.”
It is a blockade, not a siege. In a siege, nothing is allowed to go in or out. This is a blockade, which allows goods to flow in and out of the area, but stops weapons, arms, and the materials that can be used for military purposes.

“The only thing they have broken is peace. Only achieving peace will end the suffering.”

“The purpose of the flotillas is to express their own selfish hatred of Israel.”
I don’t know how the hatred is selfish. It seems more self-destructive to me. The majority of people on both sides would be better off if there were peace.

“Even if Israel didn’t pressure the Greek government and the ships got through, that would not be enough for the leaders who have misled the Palestinian people for years. They want confrontation with Israel.”
This is true.

“They thrive on the ‘oppression.’ If Palestinians are not suffering, they can’t make their phony arguments to make Israel look bad.”
They are still going to make their phony arguments, regardless of what happens. That’s one of the things extremists do, no matter what the truth is or who’s side they’re on.

“Israel’s extremist government is clearly willing to play along.”
There are Israeli extremists, and some of them may even be in the Knesset, but the Israeli government as a whole is not extremist. If the Israeli government wanted to “play along” they could have just waited for the flotilla to sail, and then sunk the boats in international waters. If they wanted to “play along” they would not have loosened the restrictions on goods going into Gaza.

“Like the Israeli government, these activists oppose the peace process and the creation of two states.”
Again, the Israeli government has clearly stated that it is willing and able to participate in the peace process, and has clearly stated it agrees with the creation of a Palestinian state, provided the Palestinian state will acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.

“They reject the secular government in Palestine, and have fought against it politically. They support Hamas, which has vowed to destroy the Jewish state.”
And that is certainly a problem.

“This stand-off isn’t about peace. It’s not about security. It’s not about easing suffering. This is about selfish, extremist politics, Israeli and Palestinian.”
It’s about trying to break the blockade so military materials can get into Gaza more easily.

“The activists are hoping to create more martyrs to stoke the flames of hate against Israel and incite the Palestinians who are increasingly fatigued by the failed peace.”
This is most likely true.

“Greece should confiscate the supplies and deliver them to Gaza;”
That would be cool.

“deny the activists their hunger for new Palestinian martyrs and deny Israel its ongoing thirst for vengeance against Palestinians for refusing to give up their cause.”
Delivering the goods to Gaza will not deny the activists their hunger for new Palestinian martyrs. Israel is not asking Palestinians to give up their cause of statehood. Israel is asking the Palestinians to give up their cause to destroy Israel and kill all the Jews.

“The activists would be angry with Greece, but they have no option except to simmer in their hatred.”
I am quite certain they are more than capable with coming up with other options.

“Most Palestinians and Israelis want a genuine peace.”

“But we’re tired of the repeated failures of leaders who continue to sail on a political flotilla that can be more appropriately called “the audacity of hate.”
Less hate would be a good thing.


  1. Thanks ... and I am happy to Fisk you bask ...

    "Delivering the goods to Gaza will not deny the activists their hunger for new Palestinian martyrs. Israel is not asking Palestinians to give up their cause of statehood. Israel is asking the Palestinians to give up their cause to destroy Israel and kill all the Jews."

    I don't think all of the Palestinians want to destroy Israel and kill all the Jews. I just think most Israelis and Jews thinkt hat way out of their own power paranoia -- they have the power, upperhand and control the situation yet they don't think that is comforting enough and it hasn't brought them contentment.

    Israel isn't "asking" Palestinian to give up their statehood dreams. Israel is working to bock those statehood dreams.

    But at least you are not like the extremist Palestinian critics who attack me and call me all kinds of names : )

    Ray Hanania

  2. Ray -

    Thanks for the comment. I agre that not all the Palestinians want to destroy Israel or kill all the Jews. That's the extremist view, and most people aren't extremists.

    Israel is, indeed, trying to block the unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians in the UN, but it is open to negotiating with the Palestinians to create a two state solution, if the Palestinian leadership will acknowledge Israel's right to exist.

    And I'm sorry people attack you and call you names. That will not solve anything.

  3. Nice fisking.

    But I confess that I'm comenting because I hear tell that you're organizing the next Haveil Havalim, and the site for submitting posts isn't working. So here's my latest, for what it's worth: http://onthefringe_jewishblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/is-there-life-after-social-media.html.

  4. Shira -

    Thanks. You're right that the Haveil Havalim submission site isn't working. I email Jack about it earlier in the week and he's looking into it, but so far I haven't received any submissions other than yours, above.

    I also suspect one of the reasons nobody seems to be volunteering to host is he hasn't been getting the emails from people making that offer, either. I submitted dates for me to host once a month through the end of the year, and I don't think he got that.

    Let's hope it's fixed soon!