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June 02nd 2010 print

David Flint

It’s easy to condemn Israel

Critics of Israel ought to ask themselves this. What would they expect their government to do if thousands of rockets rained down on their cities, with hundreds of suicide bombers unleashing their evil on buses and trains and in crowded streets?

Fresh from the fires and deaths which resulted from incompetently managing roof installation and the Building the Education revolution rort, and announcing not one but two massive new taxes in his first term, the Prime Minister is now favouring terrorists over that beacon of liberal democracy in the Middle East, Israel.

He has called on Israel to lift the naval blockade of Gaza. This is an incomprehensible response to the recent naval confrontation off Gaza.

Gaza is after all governed by Hamas, classified by the EU, Canada, Japan and the USA as a terrorist organisation. With Egypt providing a land blockade, Israel put the naval blockade in place only to stop rocket attacks on her territory and to prevent suicide bombers getting into Israel. And this is not some groundless fear. Since 2001 she has patiently endured over 8000 rockets attacks, and over 700 suicide bombings.

Israel is of course entitled to defend herself. The blockade is fully justified under international law, as its enforcement.

Kevin Rudd should ask himself what he would do if similar acts of war were directed against Australians. He should also ask himself how he would react if a politician on the other side of the world told him to stop defending this nation.  If he did not react as Israel did, it is certain that he would not long be Prime Minister.

The flotilla of six ships was led by the MV Mavi Marmara ("Blue Marmara"), purchased for this campaign by the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedom and Humanitarian Relief (İHH). IHH claims to be a Turkish Islamic charity but it is actually a terrorist front. When its Istanbul office was raided by the police years ago, they found firearms, explosives and bomb-making instructions. They concluded IHH was sending suicide bombers to Bosnia, Chechnya and Afghanistan. IHH is affiliated with Hamas and Israel claims to have evidence that it is a jihadist organisation with close ties to Al-Qaeda.

IHH is enjoying greater freedom under the current Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. His Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is turning this nation away from the secularism which was instituted by the father of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk. This has probably been exacerbated by Germany and France’s snubs to Turkey’s applications to join the EU.

This government has opened its arms to Hamas, and although an important NATO power, Turkey seems to be moving closer to Syria and Iran. The alliance with Israel is endangered – Turkey has been most vociferous in her condemnation of Israel over this incident.

The flotilla was ostensibly brought together to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. Led by the IHH, Israel quite reasonably believed the real purpose was to break the blockade so that arms and jihadists could be brought into the Palestinian territory to launch these against Israel.

As the flotilla approached the blockade, an Israeli naval officer radioed the captain of the Mavi Marmara:

You are approaching an area of hostilities which is under a naval blockade. The Gaza area coastal region and Gaza harbor are closed to all maritime traffic. The Israeli government supports delivery of humanitarian supplies to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip, and invites you to enter the Ashdod port.

Delivery of the supplies in accordance with the authorities’ regulations will be through the formal land crossings and under your observation, after which you can return to your home ports aboard the vessels on which you arrived."

To this perfectly reasonable request, the captain indicated the real purpose of the flotilla was not to deliver humanitarian aid. It was to break the blockade. This was his reply:

"Negative, negative. Our destination is Gaza, our destination is Gaza."

If Israel were to maintain the blockade she had to act. Commandos boarded five ships, all of which carried fellow travellers, or more pejoratively, useful idiots. They were the sort of people who would support the World Peace Council’s activities when the Soviet Union existed. The commandos were armed with paintball guns. They wore side arms, but were under instructions not to use them except in an emergency. All five ships surrendered peacefully.

But when they landed on the MV Mavi Marmara, they were immediately attacked with iron bars, one was stabbed, and one was thrown to a lower deck 30 feet below. The Israelis were fired on from below deck, perhaps from arms seized from the Israelis.  The commandos then obtained permission to use live ammunition themselves. They took over the ship after 30 minutes.

The scenes – especially the vicious attacks on the commandos as they landed on the deck are clearly visible on videos released by the Israelis.

Israel is of course fully entitled to defend her territory. She acted reasonably in the face of extreme provocation. So why is Kevin Rudd calling on Israel to rollover to the terrorists? It surely has nothing to do with the Federal election, does it?

Incidentally the Sydney protest against the incident was led by Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly, from the Lakemba mosque. In 2006 the former Labor minister for immigration, the Hon. Chris Hurford claimed the then Prime Minister Paul Keating overruled him when he wished to deny permanent residence and citizenship to this cleric. When pursued by journalists about this after speaking on some other matter of no doubt public importance, Mr. Keating shouted at them to “nick off”. 

In the meantime critics of Israel in Australia and in the West generally ought to ask themselves this. What would they expect their government to do if thousands of rockets rained down on their cities, with hundreds of suicide bombers unleashing their evil on buses and trains and in crowded streets?