by Phyllis Chesler
June 23, 2011
The flotilla is coming, the flotilla is coming.
European and North American activists, journalists, and mercenaries have set sail—or are about to do so—on fifteen boats with passengers from twenty-two mainly Western countries to “break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.” Spurred on by the anti-Potemkin Village images of Palestinian Arabs living in wretched refugee hovels, fenced in by an allegedly “apartheid” Israeli wall, oppressed by “Nazi” Israeli soldiers for “racist” reasons (and not because the Palestinian leadership practices both Islamic gender and religious apartheid as well as terrorism)–the Good People are sailing to the rescue.
Bad enough that Israel is surrounded by twenty-two hostile Arab countries plus a genocidally anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli Iran, a country which has positioned soldiers in Lebanon, Gaza, and Syria.
Bad enough that the United Nations and the Palestinian leadership are planning to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state on sovereign Israeli land.
Bad enough that the Western mainstream media and university campuses have rendered the most virulent anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism respectable and have intimidated students with endless replays of Gaza on the Hudson, Gaza on the Atlantic and Gaza on the Pacific—now, the flotilla is also coming. They say they plan to “non-violently” “provoke” Israel into a forbidden display of self-defense.
Boats are leaving or have already left from Ireland, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Greece, Turkey, Canada, as well as the United States. Clearly, these Europeans do not believe that enough Jews died in the European Holocaust and/or do not want to see the descendents of Holocaust survivors continue to flourish in Israel. Perhaps some Europeans believe that their left anti-Israel politics will put them in good stead vis-à-vis the Islamists who are rapidly overwhelming Europe in a way that only Jean Raspail, the author of The Camp of the Saints foresaw and would appreciate.
The boat from the United States has been dubbed “The Audacity of Hope.” (Now where have we heard that title before?) On it are 36 passengers and four crew members, including some members of the Soros-funded Code Pink. Journalists from The Nation, CNN, NPR, CBS, The New York Times, Democracy Now, and the Palestinian News Agency Ma’an are “embedded” within the flotilla. “Embedded”? Isn’t that the word used to describe journalists who accompany troops in active battle?
Forgive me: I take words very seriously.
These self-styled activists and presumed anti-racists are slumming, partying, cruising for cheap thrills and even cheaper publicity. They yearn for cut-rate, no “burn” glory. They are ultimate conformists, careerists, “making their bones,” adding to their activist resumes by sticking it to the Jews. This is meant to prove that they are brave and principled.
In essence, they are engaged in a highly self-destructive form of political theatre: they are concretely manipulating symbols in the same way that Osama bin Laden did on 9/11. In the name of “caring,” these activists are surrendering to the most dangerous totalitarian and misogynist Islamist regime—but in the name of “freedom” and “justice.”
It is something that Orwell would appreciate.
The flotilla activists do not care about the facts on the ground, they refuse to understand that Gaza is filled with luxury hotels, office buildings, palatial villas, nightclubs, beach clubs, and well-stocked markets. They focus only on the artificially maintained poverty-stricken areas, and not on the true reasons for it: namely, that the Arab and the Palestinian leadership have spent more than 60 years milking the West of both its guilt and its money on behalf of this single falsely created refugee population.
Ah, Alice. She and I go way back, and we have watched each other’s backs in significant ways over the years. Her current stance is painful, puzzling, unbalanced, and treacherous.
Walker has been in the forefront of the American civil rights, feminist, “womanist,” and ecological and animal rights movements; for many years, Walker was an activist against female genital mutilation—an African and African Muslim practice. She is best known and loved for her novel The Color Purple, which was made into a popular movie and Broadway play.
Tragically, but typically, Walker believes that Israelis are a more diabolical version of the white southern American racists who enslaved black Americans and then lynched, impoverished, exploited and segregated them. She imagines that the Palestinians are an even purer version of oppressed African-Americans. Most of all, she sees the Palestinians and herself as “non-violent” actors in this great drama.
Walker does not view Jews as the indigenous peoples of the Middle East or as equivalent to the “blacks” of Europe or as the most currently endangered infidel race in the Muslim Middle East. Walker refuses to acknowledge that Arabs and Muslims still practice (mainly African and skin color-based) slavery and real gender and religious apartheid. Instead, Walker scapegoats the Jews, specifically Israeli Jews, for the grave sins and crimes of blatant racism that are being committed by ethnic Arab Muslims in Muslim-majority countries such as Sudan, the Egyptian Sinai, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere.
Walker seems to have no idea that Muslims have a long, long history of slave-trading, sex slavery, imperialism, colonialism, conversion by the sword, and barbaric misogyny. Indeed, she seems to understand nothing about the reign of terror that Hamas has brought to the women, gays, artists, and vulnerable living beings in Gaza.
Walker does not command the facts; she has been fatefully tainted by crude propaganda, which she believes with her whole heart.
For example, Walker claims that 1,400 Gazans died during Operation Cast Lead, yet she fails to point out that, by Hamas’ own admission, between 600 and 700 of these were armed Hamas militants.
She claims that over 300 children were killed during the war but fails to understand that many of these children actually participated in the Hamas war effort, serving as child soldiers, mortar spotters, and support personnel.
As two Israeli researchers have documented, of the victims younger than 18, the male–female ratio of those in the 11-and-younger group was nearly 1:1—in other words, totally random—however, the male-female ratio for 17- and 18-year-olds was more than 6 males to each and every female. Unless Israeli scientists have developed some kind of Y-chromosome-seeking missile that only targets post-pubescent males, the obvious conclusion is that many of these teenagers were fighters.
Unbelievably, Walker states: “I had never seen as much blatant terrorism as I witnessed in Gaza. Israeli-made; American-made. It is unfortunate that officials of Israel appear to know so little about what their government is doing in the terrorism department.”
Did Walker sleep through the Islamist attack against the World Trade Center in 1993? Has no one ever told her about 9/11 (New York City), 3/11 (Madrid), 7/7 (London) and 11/26 (Mumbai)? Has she completely forgotten that, for nearly fifty years, Palestinian terrorists have been hijacking passenger planes, bombing synagogues, and blowing up Israeli civilians in shopping malls, small stores, on buses, in hotels, at discotheques? Yes, Alice, even the children; especially the children.
Walker does not mention any of these events in her litany of terrorism, which she confines strictly to Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Walker gets it wrong every time. She writes:
“One of the things so painful to remember about the segregated south is that no matter what white people did to them black people were not allowed to fight back, not even with a word or a glance, hence the expression ‘reckless eye-balling’ which led many a black person to be beaten or killed. The idea that the people of Palestine are not even supposed to fight back, after everything that’s been done to them, is cruel and inhuman, since protecting one’s self and family and land and livelihood is an instinct we share with all creatures on the planet. To collectively punish them (by bombing and starvation) for electing their own government in a democratic election acknowledged by most observers to have been fair, is sadistic as well as internationally condemned as illegal.”
What she is really saying is that it is only the people of Israel who are not supposed to fight back when they are attacked. Apparently, she disagrees with her idol President (then Senator) Obama who, in 2008, told an Israeli audience in Sderot: “[I]f missiles were falling where my two daughters sleep, I would do everything in order to stop that.”
Does Walker not understand that from 2001-2007 Hamas launched 2,496 Qassam rockets into southern Israel, traumatizing the children and the adults for the rest of their lives? These civilian residents hear a siren and have fifteen highly anxious seconds to get into a bomb shelter. The noise is torturous. So is the fear. Only after six long and terrible years did Israel finally feel compelled to launch Operation Cast Lead. In daring to defend themselves, the world cursed them. And maligned them. It took more than a year for the real facts to come to light: namely, that Turkey had sent mercenaries armed with deadly weapons on board the Marvi Marmara. The killers were neatly “embedded” with the so-called peace activists.
Walker believes that “the people on the Mavi Marmara were attacked and that the people who were killed were massacred. We know that the Israeli forces confiscated virtually all of the footage of what transpired from the passengers on the boat. Then they sent out their own video, framing the fuzzy images in ways that support their narrative of having been attacked by the people on the boat!”
“They had metal clubs, knives, slingshots, glass bottles…At one point there was also live fire….I was among the last to descend, and I saw that the group was dispersed, everyone in his own corner surrounded by three or four men. I saw a soldier on the floor with two men beating him. I peeled them off of him and they came at me and began beating me with the clubs….”[They were] about 30 men; they simply came for war. We came to straighten things out, to speak to those who went downstairs, but each of us who descended was simply attacked.”
Walker reverses reality to suit her purpose. Actually, she parts company with reality entirely.
Why exactly do the Palestinians even need a flotilla? What kind of blockade are we really talking about? Israel allows over a thousand truckloads of goods into Gaza every week. The Israelis check ships for weapons and then send everything else into Gaza overland. Egypt now controls the Rafah crossing. The Muslim Brotherhood has been sending warriors and weapons steadily into Gaza. What is the real, humanitarian point of this flotilla?
Alice Walker believes she is following Mahatma Gandhi in what she is doing. It chills my heart, but perhaps that is precisely what she is doing. In 1938, in an open letter to the Jews, Gandhi wrote:
“[S]uffering voluntarily undergone will bring [the Jews] an inner strength and joy…the calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews…But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant. For to the God-fearing, death has no terror.”
In 1946, after this joyous suffering had indeed befallen European Jewry, Gandhi wrote, “Hitler…killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs… It would have aroused the world and the people of Germany… As it is they succumbed anyway in their millions.”
This is the maddening and dangerous desire of the flotilla goers. They believe—no, they feel—that if the Israeli Jews all killed themselves (see Gandhi, above) or were all murdered (read what Ahmadinejad has said and what nearly every Arab Muslim leader and civilian has also said), that our deaths would usher in an era of peace on earth and celestial justice.
Warring Arab tribes, fratricidal Muslim sects, Third World racists and misogynist barbarians would all lie down together and cease their animal and human sacrifice. Is this what you believe, Alice?