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I Went to a Riot and a Palestinian Peace Rally Broke Out. Or. The Audacity of Dopes. And. Gaza Regatta 2.0

After the fiasco of last year’s Gaza flotilla, in which nine Turkish activists were killed when IDF commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara as it tried to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza, the Israeli government seems intent on avoiding a repeat performance. Right now it appears they will succeed, as Greece (from which the ships—including one ship carrying Alice Walker named The Audacity of Hope—planned to leave this year) has barred any ship from trying to reach Gaza.

Nevertheless, the activists organizing this year’s procession have claimed success, even with propeller shafts on two vessels ‘mysteriously’ disabled, and the rest of the ships turned back by the Greek Coast Guard. Of course, had the entire fleet sunk under the weight of its own self-righteousness, killing all involved, the organizers still would have claimed success—the fact that nine people were killed last year was hardly an accident, and made last year’s event a ‘success’ as well.

The fundamental problem for these people, and for the Palestinian peace movement in general (insofar as the term Palestinian peace movement itself isn’t an oxymoron), is that their commitment to peaceful action is about as strong as Sarah Palin’s commitment is to standard grammar and syntax. When a peace movement is led by Hamas supporters like Greta Berlin it isn’t surprising that violence becomes part of the game plan. Sure enough, when Israeli forces boarded the Mavi boat and encountered last year’s ‘peaceful’ activists they were attacked with knives and clubs, which led to the killings and the P.R. success of international attention for the flotilla.

The were two reasons for the flotilla—the reason that was claimed by its participants (to bring aid to Gaza), and the reason that actually existed (to provoke an incident). Since shortages ended long ago in Gaza and humanitarian aid can be legally shipped via Egypt or Israel, the former rationale was never credible, and so it was the second (actual) rationale that was the flotilla’s mission, both this year and last.

Yet, as always when international activists involve themselves in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is something else at play. It is instructive to consider that when the Lebanese army indiscriminately shells Palestinian homes, or when Syrian and Jordanian security forces massacre Palestinians in the streets, Alice Walker and her friends are nowhere to be found. Could it be a decades-long coincidence that they only notice Palestinian suffering when it can be blamed on Israelis? Why are they silent when it is Arabs who oppress and kill Palestinians? I hate to be the first guy in the room to call someone an anti-semite, but I have a feeling that it’s more than just chance that these activists are silent when it is Arabs in conflict with Palestinians (maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to be pretty long odds).

Maybe someday Palestinians will have a true peace movement, but as long as they teach their children to worship Hamas martyrs and they vilify their neighbors it can’t happen. Someday the question won’t be, ‘Do I bring knives or stones to the peace rally?’ And when that day comes, the Palestinian peace movement will succeed.

RUFUS DAVIS

18 COMMENTS

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