Wednesday, June 02, 2010

P'itchens on selective outrage

I have been to Gaza once, long ago, and can confirm that it is pretty grim, and no doubt has grown much worse since. I think the idea that a blockade will persuade the Gazans to throw out their Hamas government is nonsensical and doomed, and I think Israel's recent behaviour towards Gaza has been cruel and stupid. I opposed and still condemn the recent Israeli military attack on Gaza, which failed to meet the criteria for a just war.

But I have a nagging suspicion that those who now adopt the cause of Gaza (and have swallowed whole the propaganda narrative of the 'Aid Convoy' versus the 'Wicked Zionists') are much, much more interested in undermining Israel's long-term right to exist than they are in the undoubted plight of the Gazans. And why, exactly is that? What is the reason for this selective outrage against one nation among dozens, by no means perfect but also by no means the most oppressive or violent or ill-run state in the world, let alone the Middle East? You tell me.


So in the midst of this confusion, we now find ourselves in a huge row over the alleged 'Aid Convoy' manned by alleged 'Humanitarians' which approached the Israeli coast at the weekend and was boarded by Israeli armed forces.

Is this description 'Aid Convoy' (adopted by many media outlets) not itself partial? It most certainly is. The Israeli authorities offered unequivocally to deliver the ships' cargoes to Gaza if they were unloaded at the Israeli port of Ashdod and passed through the normal checks against contraband. The leaders of the 'Aid Convoy' refused this offer. Therefore it is plain that its prime purpose was not to deliver the aid, but to deliver it in a certain way, in defiance of the Israeli blockade of the Gazan ports, an action they knew from the start would bring the Israeli armed forces about their ears.

If you want to be wholly dispassionate, you might call it a 'convoy' without adornment. But to call it an 'Aid Convoy' is itself a departure from neutrality. I myself would call it a propaganda fleet, but then I am openly partisan on this issue. The use of the expression 'humanitarians' is likewise suspect, as is the use of the word 'activists' without saying what sort of activists they are.

Peter Hitchens, The Joys of Selective Outrage.