Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch speaks out against the persecution of Israel around the globe, for merely defending themselves.
Jews in the State of Israel and throughout the world are in great peril. Except in the United States, anti-Semitism is once again in vogue.
The hostility of nations such as France, England, and other European countries towards Israel is a manifestation of escalating hatred of Jews. What is no longer permissible to say and write openly about Jews — for example, invoking gross stereotypes in the Nazi style — is acceptably expressed in polite society when directed at Israel.
Of course, people can be critical of Israel and not be anti-Semites. But when Israel is singled out for special criticism that would never be directed at another country taking the same course of action, it is a disguised act of anti-Semitism.
The recent condemnation of Israel by our European allies such as France and Britain for having thwarted an attempt to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza is a case in point.
The incident involving the flotilla of seven ships with 546 people on board the ship Mavi Marmara, many coming from Turkey, was a confrontation intentionally created by Turkey in collusion with “Free Gaza,” a Palestinian front group, and IHH, a Turkish charity aligned with terrorist organizations.
Supposedly this flotilla was seeking to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. However, Turkey’s real goal was to break the sea blockade Israel has imposed on Gaza.
That blockade is to insure that no war materials are shipped to Hamas, which is waiting for its next opportunity to begin a new war with Israel. Indeed, last week, two rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel. During the Gaza war, more than 7,000 rockets were fired into Israel.
Aside from barring war materials, Israel has to be certain that no jihadists and suicide bombers enter Gaza to join the terrorists already there. Supporters of terrorism have already tried to deliver by ship to Gaza large amounts of war material. This is not a fantasy on the part of Israel.
Hamas was and remains a terrorist organization, perceived as such not only by Israel, but by the so-called Quartet made up of the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations.
According to The New York Times of June 3, the Quartet refuses to meet with Hamas because, “Hamas declines to recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence, or accept previous accords signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The . . . Quartet . . . has said that until Hamas meets those requirements, the Quartet will not deal with it.”
Indeed, Hamas’ charter calls for the expulsion of any Jew who arrived in what is now Israel and the West Bank after 1917.
Despite the fact that Israel, under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, withdrew all Israelis, civilian and military, from all of Gaza in 2005, Hamas remains committed to Israel’s destruction and continues to smuggle into Gaza missiles and other lethal weapons to accomplish this objective.
Despite these great perils, Israel is asked by those who tell Israel they are its friends to take actions that ultimately could be catastrophic. Nicholas Kristof in his New York Times column of June 3 wrote, “I thought: Israel wouldn’t be so obtuse as to use lethal force on self-described peace activists in international waters with scores of reporters watching.”
What exactly is Kristof advocating — giving up the blockade and allowing Iran to ship tens of thousands of improved rockets to Gaza, as they have to Hezbollah in Lebanon? Would Kristoff have criticized President Jack Kennedy for ordering a blockade of Cuba and insisting that Soviet ships landing in Cuba allow American verification that the Soviet ships were not carrying nuclear missiles?
According to The Times of June 2, “Israel had issued multiple warnings to the pro-Palestinian flotilla which was carrying thousands of tons of aid intended for Gaza despite an Israeli ban on direct shipments to the territory. Israeli naval commandos intercepted the ship early Monday setting off a violent confrontation that left nine activists dead and many others injured, including several Israeli soldiers.”
Does Kristof still accept or believe the hundreds of passengers were peace activists? Does he believe that the Israelis should have avoided confrontation and effectively opened a port in Gaza for Hamas to which the pro-Palestinians, Islamists, and leftists throughout the world could have brought war materials?
The New York Times editorial board, no supporter of Israel, now or in the past, noted, “The supporters of the Gaza bound aid flotilla had more than humanitarian intentions. The Gaza Freedom March made its motives clear in a statement before Monday’s deadly confrontation: a violent response from Israel will breathe new life into the Palestine solidarity movement drawing attention to the blockade.”
Is Kristof aware that Turkey was implored by the U.S., Israel, and probably Egypt to direct the flotilla to dock in Israel or Egypt with a guarantee that all humanitarian cargo on board would be immediately shipped to Gaza?
The Wall Street Journal of June 1 reported, “Israel and Egypt began restricting the flow of goods into and out of Gaza in 2007 after Hamas seized control . . . Israel and Egypt say they are preventing the smuggling of weapons and fighters.” Is Kristof aware that Egypt has participated in the blockade of Gaza because it too feels threatened by Hamas?
The Wall Street Journal of June 1 refers to the comments of Israeli spokesman General Benayahu: “But on the Mavi Marmara with about 600 passengers the IDF encountered ‘difficult violence . . . Dozens of activists attacked Israeli soldiers with steel clubs and knives as the soldiers were being lowered onto the deck from helicopters.”
The Times of June 1 reported, “Another soldier said the orders were to neutralize the passengers, not to kill them . . . But, the forces ‘had to open fire in order to defend themselves, the navy commander Vice Adm. Eliezer Marom said at a news conference in Tel Aviv adding ‘their lives were at risk.’ At least seven soldiers were wounded, one of them seriously. The military said some suffered gunshot wounds, at least one had been stabbed.”
The Times reporters Sabrina Tavernise and Ethan Bronner, reported on June 5 from Istanbul, after interviewing a Turkish passenger who had been on the Mavi Marmara at the moment the incident occurred: “It was just getting light when the Turkish boat, packed with 546 activists, descended into chaos, and Mahmut Coskun, a Turkish doctor on board, was in the middle of it.
“The crack of an Israeli sound grenade and a hail of rubber bullets from above were supposed to disperse activists, but instead set them in motion. And when three Israeli commandos slid down ropes out of helicopters to take over the ship, a crowd set upon them. ‘They ran at them without pause or hesitation,’ Dr. Coskun recalled. One soldier was stabbed and two were beaten. From that moment on, the attempted takeover turned into an armed assault, with angry Israeli commandos opening fire.
“Within an hour, the commandos had taken control of the ship, and nine Turks, including one who also had American citizenship, were dead. Dozens of interviews in Israel and Turkey suggest that Israel’s decision to stop the flotilla at all costs collided with the intention of a small group of Islamic activists from Turkey, turning a raid on a ship of protesters in international waters into a bloodbath — and a major international event.”
Why did Turkey aid, abet, and provoke this incident? I think Turkey did so because it wants to assume leadership of the Islamic world. The Turkish prime minister is himself an Islamist heading an Islamic party governing Turkey and seeking to change Turkey from the secular state created by Kemal Ataturk to an Islamist one.
The ruling Islamic party is on its way to doing that, having recently arrested a number of Turkish army officers who were previously tasked with protecting and preserving Turkey as a secular state under the Turkish constitution.
More than a year ago, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan publicly commenced the effort to end Turkey’s relationship with Israel by insulting Israel’s President Shimon Peres in Davos and then storming off the stage: in hindsight, I believe this was the beginning of his plan to end the commercial and military relationship with its then-ally, Israel.
Some believe that Turkey has concluded it will never be permitted to enter the European Union because it is perceived by some European leaders as Islamist in nature and foreign to European mores, so why not become the leader of the Muslim world and also enhance the chances of Erodgan’s party being re-elected in the coming election?
Indeed, Erdogan recently teamed up with Brazil to embarrass the U.S. and sabotage its efforts at imposing sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program.
The chorus of criticism directed at Israel is outrageous. For example, French President Sarkozy referred to Israeli soldiers’ response to the attacks upon them by certain of the “activists” onboard the Mavi Marmara as “disproportionate.” What would the French or any other military have done under similar circumstances?
What bothers me most of all is the seeming lack of concern of so many young Jews here in the U.S. Many young Jews no longer identify with the Holocaust or with Israel. Some no longer think of themselves as Jews. They may want to forget they are Jews and decline to support Israel and defend it at this pivotal moment, but they should know their neighbors know who they are.
This time the target of that “killa flotilla” was Israel. However, Jews around the world could be targeted next.
In America, this is a golden age for Jews who are permitted full rights in our society. Anti-Semitism is at a minimum and one can reach as high as one’s talents will take you. That is not true in every country.
In Great Britain, anti-Semitism is on the rise, particularly in academia. Remember there are only 300,000 Jews living in Britain while there are 2.4 million Muslims.
Great Britain should also remember that Muslims born in Great Britain have been responsible for murderous attacks on their fellow citizens. In France, there are about 500,000 Jews and an estimated 4.1 million Muslims.
Vice President Joe Biden on a recent Charlie Rose television program got it just right when he said Israel has “an absolute right to deal with its security interest.” Regrettably, outside of the U.S., few care.