Belfast Telegraph

Why do the peace activists ignore the violence of Hamas?

By Lindy McDowell

What is a peace activist anyway? Is there such a thing as a peace passive-ist? And how does a peace activist differ from a plain old pacifist?

Even before the “freedom flotilla” set sail for Gaza, another armada of small loaded, descriptive terms was being launched upon the world.

The “freedom flotilla” we were assured, was carrying “humanitarian aid”. Those on board were “peace activists”. “International peace activists” to boot.

God, how could you be against anything in that lot.

Israel raising (legitimate) concerns about its right to secure its own borders didn’t count in this freedom-fest. If Israel intercepted the aid boats, Israel was always going to look monstrous.

Israel knew that.

But Israel unfortunately didn’t actually have a choice.

Gaza, where the boats were headed, is under the control of the terrorist grouping Hamas which has been responsible for pounding Israeli towns (and Israeli civilians) with increasingly sophisticated missiles for years.

It was to protect Israeli families from Hamas suicide bombers that Israel began erecting its security fence in 2002.

In 2005 Israel (in the interests of peace) moved out of Gaza.

The thanks it got were even more rockets (often supplied by Iran) raining down on its civilian population courtesy of Hamas which charmingly declares itself dedicated to wiping the Israeli people off the face of the earth.

Israel, understandably, has insisted on monitoring what materials go into Gaza and, thus, what (potentially lethal) materials Hamas could have access to.

All of us in the West live in countries which maintain a similar right to ensure the safety of their own civilian populations. Most countries have reasons why they would not be confident to leave this role up to the international community. Israel has at least six million extra reasons.

And interestingly Israel is not the only country involved in the “blockade of Gaza”. Egypt which also has a land border with Gaza (and similar concerns about Hamas) only lifted its blockade after the Mavi Marmara killings.

But it was Israel which was entirely the target of the “freedom flotilla”. Not Egypt. Not even the long-suffering people of Gaza. This wasn’t about getting aid in. It was about getting a propaganda message out.

Tellingly Israeli commanders themselves appeared to have assumed that the “peace activists” onboard the Mavi Mamara would act peaceably.

According to news reports, we now know, however, that the first soldier to rappel on board was battered unconscious. Three Israeli soldiers were disarmed and taken hostage. When found, reports say, one commando was chained up with a gun held to his head. Pictures of the soldiers show them bloodied and beaten. One was shot.

Exactly what happened may not become clear until a full inquiry is held. But there are obviously two sides to this story.

Not that we’ve been getting much of a whiff of that in the Western media. The language, never mind the actions, of the “activists” goes unchallenged.

Gaza is “the biggest open air prison in the world”. (Um, where does that leave North Korea?)

And Israel is entirely responsible for the living conditions endured by the people in Gaza. This despite a recent Amnesty International report on the Hamas repression of the people which cited a campaign of “abductions, deliberate and unlawful killings, torture and death threats.”

The “peace activists” must have missed that one

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