Taking Washington at its word, that facts might actually matter, the place to start investigating is not with the beleaguered Israelis, but with the origins and funding of this self-styled “freedom flotilla” — which more aptly deserves renaming as the Gaza Terror Flotilla. It appears to have had a multitude of organizers and contributors, from a former prime minister of Malaysia, to — according to Al Jazeera — contributors in Bahrain, Kuwait, and that empire of Middle Eastern peace and stability, Yemen.
But one of the main players appears to be Turkey. It was a Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, which after a big sendoff from Turkey apparently took the lead in the flotilla, its passengers professing nonviolence while waiting with knives and metal cudgels to start a fight. And in Turkey, a lead player in this bloody exercise has been a Turkish foundation, the radical Islamist IHH, or Foundation for Human Rights, Liberties, and Humanitarian Relief. The IHH enjoys consultative status with the UN as a non-governmental organization, or NGO, has an office in Gaza, and has apparently been taking part in this Gaza stunt with the blessing of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. Far from serving as a seal of good housekeeping for the IHH, such ties ought to call into question the judgment of both the UN and Erdogan.
For details on what led a French magistrate in the 1990s to explore IHH connections to terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda, a piece of required reading is a working paper released in 2006 by the Danish Institute for International Studies: “The Role of Islamic Charities in International Terrorist Recruitment and Financing.” The entire report is illuminating, but for the section on the IHH, scroll to pages 10-14. When this report was written, the IHH was active in providing “charitable donations” to what were then “rebel-dominated areas of restive Sunni central Iraq.”
The real crisis here is not the fate of the Gaza Terror Flotilla per se, whose organizers have now got the headlines they wanted. The blood is on their hands. The real crisis involves the profound unwisdom of a democratic world that finds it easier to criticize and condemn Israel than to face the mortal threats proliferating in the Middle East. While the headlines, the political grandstanders, and the UN Security Council now focus on this propaganda coup prepared by supporters of Hamas, Hezbollah is rearming in Lebanon, Turkey is engaged in a dangerous shift from its old alliances with the West toward new partnerships with Syria and Iran, and Iran continues its march toward the nuclear bomb. Does anyone in the West really believe that the threat here is to Israel alone? In this latest clash over the terrorist enclave of Gaza, the real question that wants answering is why did no democratic country send its ships to Israel’s aid, to make common cause against this terror-loving flotilla? Or – with the blessings of the UN, Turkey, and armed “peace activists” — are terrorist-run enclaves such as Gaza, dedicated to the extermination of entire nation states, now to become an accepted feature of the international system?