On Thursday a possibly last, straggling member of the abortive flotilla, a French yacht called the Dignity, set sail—against all odds—for Gaza. Its dignity was soon compromised when, trying to refuel in Crete, the Greek coast guard detained it. The yacht had all of eight passengers on board.
For Israelis the flotilla’s failure has been an encouraging spectacle. On the diplomatic front, Israel successfully got the points across that: there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza; anyone who wants to provide supplies to it can do so through Israeli and Egyptian land routes; and the “second flotilla” was simply a malign provocation. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it “neither necessary or useful”; Britain, France, and the Netherlands issued travel advisories against it; Greece, Cyprus, and even Turkey worked to restrain it.
Regarding Israel’s naval arms embargo of Gaza, the Middle East Quartet—consisting of the U.S., the EU, the UN, and Russia and by no means necessarily understanding of Israel’s challenges—went so far as to cite Israel’s “legitimate security concerns that must continue to be safeguarded.” The Quartet also called for an end to the “deplorable five-year detention of Gilad Shalit,” whose terrible plight is not exactly high on the list of the purportedly humanitarian flotillistas.
And on the legal front, Israel’s independent Shurat Hadin legal center waged a valiant and successful campaign, deterring insurance companies from underwriting what was clearly a leftist-jihadist, Hamas-supporting venture.
Lest there be any doubt, pertinacious bloggers have exposed the flotillistas’ real aims “straight from the horse’s mouth,” as one of the bloggers, the British author and columnist Melanie Phillips, put it. In a June 29 post she revealed that “Adam Shapiro, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement and a board member of the Free Gaza Movement (which is behind the flotilla)” had spilled the beans in a meeting last November at Rutgers University, stating (the blog post includes the video) that:
Free Gaza is but one tactic of a larger strategy, to transform this conflict from one between Israel and the Palestinians, or Israel and the Arab world…to one between the rest of the world and Israel…. [applause]
Free Gaza is a tactic…all of it is part of a strategy now to transform the conflict and internationalize it and really undermine Israel where it gets its most support….
Free Gaza’s chairman for the Netherlands, Rob Groenhuizen, was even more forthright. As reported by Yochanan Visser, “the Dutch blog KeesjeMaduraatje…revealed that…Groenhuizen…was a convicted communist extremist who used to be a member of Dutch groups affiliated with the German terrorist [Red Army Faction].” Fittingly enough, Groenhuizen wrote in an email about the second flotilla:
This game about humanitarian aid is part of a tremendous plot—something that Israel tries to postpone as long as possible—but with every uprising in the Arab world and each mistake Israel makes, the end is coming nearer.… Everybody knows Israel is not sustainable.
The “plot” is set to continue on Friday with a mass “fly-in” of pro-Palestinian, pro-terror, kill-Israel activists to Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport. Their movement—the only one in the world dedicated to destroying a country—appears still to be coasting on the “success” of last year’s flotilla, which indeed ignited world condemnation of Israel when some of its soldiers fought back against a brutal mob on the Mavi Marmara.
This despite the fact that the more recent staged spectacles have been less successful. The May 15 Nakba Day march to Israel’s borders generated some bad publicity for Israel; the June 4 Naksa Day march, for which Israel was much better prepared, considerably less. Israel’s head of military intelligence revealed this week that Iran was active in planning both events—and disappointed with the results. As for the second flotilla, it can already be dubbed a flop.
The lesson for Israel is that some of the same governments and world bodies that rushed to lambast it over the Mavi Marmara a year ago can take more reasonable positions if Israel works hard in advance to impress on them the truth. That approach is also working, to some extent, regarding the Palestinians’ planned statehood declaration in September. The Netanyahu government—slurred by many in the world and by the left in Israel as “extremist” and “hard-line”—deserves much credit.