The Gaza flotilla incident was a horrid PR nightmare for the state of Israel, despite the released evidence of the “peace activists’” true intentions. The international community has in large part ignored all of it: videos of the fight on the Mavi Marmara, the cache of weapons on board, and the undisputed ties between the IHH, Hamas, and other Islamic terror organizations.
International reaction has been heated, hypocritical, and disproportionate. Bands like Gorillaz and the Pixies canceled their scheduled concerts in Israel following the events (Shuki Weiss, the concert’s production manager, had been trying for over 10 years to bring the Pixies to Israel). The organizers of the gay pride parade in Madrid banned its Tel Aviv delegation in direct response to the flotilla raid, stating it would be “barbaric” to allow Israelis to participate; the Israelis in question responded that Islamists would be happy to “cure” them all. One of the largest unofficial Bob Dylan fansites has banned Israeli IP addresses from visiting the website. The Utopia chain of theaters in France canceled all screenings of the Israeli comedy Five Hours from Paris … replacing them with a French documentary about Rachel Corrie.
How can so many people justify such bigotry?
That’s precisely what it is. The Madrid parade organizers, the Utopia chain, and dylanchords are collectively punishing the Israeli people or Israeli NGOs for the actions of their government — the morality of such actions being irrelevant in this matter.
The Israeli people are not the ones calling the shots in the IDF or making the decisions in the Knesset. It’s the same in every democratic country around the world — the people may elect their leaders, but only someone grossly misinformed about the world of politics would believe they directly control their leaders’ actions as well. The political statement of the Pixies and Gorillaz is cultural carpet bombing. For the love of Shin Bet: don’t the gays in Madrid understand that Israel is the one and only Middle Eastern country where you can be gay in public without losing your life?
The irony of this explodes tenfold when compared to the world’s current relationship with Iran. Here we have a theocracy — a theocracy! — controlled by one of the most disliked governments in the modern world. Its constant sword-rattling has grown both comical and tired. The Iranian regime treats its citizens like cockroaches. The Iranian president himself acts as Rumpelstiltskin’s Middle Eastern cousin: “Don’t get in the way of what I want or I’ll steal your firstborn.” Or, to be more apt: “I’ll build a nuclear research facility under the pretext of peace and then nuke your firstborn.”
But much of the West stands with the Iranian people, as they should, because they are under vicious and widespread oppression by their own government. There is little to no wiggle-room for moral bickering here — the anti-democratic Khomeini regime represents the Western world’s antithesis, the Iranian people its own manifestation. It makes perfect sense that the West supports the Iranian population in the face of its anti-Western government.
Why, then, do the physics of the Western world-Iran relationship undergo sudden reversal when applied to the Western world-Israel relationship?
We see no music bands, no parades, no film theaters, and no websites boycotting the Iranian people for their government’s nuclear research program or its months-long quarantining of foreigners (see Roxana Saberi and the current crisis with the three wayward U.S. hikers).
However, we do see them boycotting the Israelis almost every time their government takes action to defend itself, actions like the flotilla raid that are arguable at worst, morally imperative at best.
Where has the world been every time a Palestinian extremist bombed an Israeli nightclub or café? Where were they in March 2008 when a Palestinian shot his way into the Mercaz Yeshiva and slaughtered eight students and a security guard?
Nowhere. They were and still are nowhere to be found whenever the state of Israel or her people are under attack. The Mercaz shooting was in no way political or ambiguous, and yet it barely got any press coverage outside the global Jewish community. The IDF kills nine people with terrorist ties pretending to be peace activists in a struggle aboard a boat laden with swords, clubs, and slingshots, and the world screams its bloody head off.
Where is the balance here?
Where is the world whenever Hamas or the Arab world subjugates or wages war on the Palestinians (i.e., Black September) or when Hamas steals foreign aid to sell it to their Palestinian underlings at high prices? Why all this hypocrisy?
The answer: Terrorism is boring. It’s old news.
The Mavi Marmara fiasco garnered so much international attention because of the sheer uniqueness of the situation: a military organization boarding a boat full of people who call themselves humanitarian activists who only want to help a poor, impoverished people. It’s sensationalist. It’s new. It hasn’t been seen before. The IDF is not just impeding the actions of Palestinians, they’re now impeding the actions of other nationalities. Forget suicide bombings and mortar attacks on suburban homes. No one wants to see that any more. But a military blocking people of all nationalities from reaching an area steeped in poverty and in need of help? Now that is what sells!
The world has become lazy in its morality. It wants miniature moral sound bites for entertainment, which they will then find a way to justify. In this case, the world wanted to believe the IDF stormed the Mavi Marmara and shot nine peace activists without first trying a peaceful alternative. That narrative is entertaining because not only is it so easy to identify who is acting without morality (which means the common news watcher doesn’t need to do any further research), but it’s sensational!
A military that boarded a vessel from another nation and killed its aid-bearing passengers! Wow, is that horrifying … and easy to process! They must be really, really evil, giving us a sole entity that we can identify as pure evil in a world of moral ambiguity and political correctness, right?
We have become a people concerned only with entertainment. And in the news, shocking, unique, unambiguous stories grab the most attention.
It doesn’t matter that the IDF found tons and tons of weapons on the Mavi Marmara. It doesn’t matter that they have a video of their commandos being torn apart. It doesn’t matter that nearly everyone on that boat was discovered to have terrorist ties, that they recorded themselves shouting “Death to Jews” before the raid to psych themselves up, or that they brought babies and children on board.
None of that matters because it would just complicate the entertainment. Better to stick to the original perception — that the IDF acted way out of line — than muddy up the morality of each side with pesky details.