Tuesday 25 June 2019

Ian O'Doherty: So-called 'do-gooders' provoked the Israelis

Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

'He used to help the poor and the oppressed. For years, he wanted to go to Palestine."

So says the wife of Ali Haydar Bengi, one of four Turkish nationals killed on board the Mavi Marmara on Monday.

So far, so good.

After all, regardless of political affiliation, we should all respect people who want to improve the lot of others, but then she adds: "And he constantly prayed to Allah to grant him Shahada," i.e. martyrdom.

That single quote encapsulated much of what we have witnessed this week following Israel's ill-judged attempt to successfully board the Turkish ship, which had been funded by a so-called 'charity', which has established close links with al-Qa'ida.

At first glance, you see someone who is motivated by a desire to help his fellow human beings. Look a little deeper, however, and you will find someone who fancies himself as a martyr. And we all know that Muslim 'martyrs' -- actually, let's cut through the bullshit and call them what they really are: murderous fanatics -- like to take as many people with them as they can.

As so often happens in the murky, chaotic world of Middle Eastern politics, what you see is almost definitely not what you get.

When I first heard the news on Monday, delivered by a furious taxi driver bringing me into work, that the Israelis had "attacked" a charity ship and had "massacred" (as he put it) dozens of selfless humanitarian aid people, alarm bells started ringing immediately.

What the hell were they thinking?

Why on earth would they give their enemies, which to the Israelis often seems to be the entire world, such a PR coup?

After all, for a country that seems virtually incapable of putting across its side of the argument with conviction and clarity, the notion of sending Israeli special forces, who rank as some of the best in the world, onto a boat with a bunch of harmless, misguided hippies and then slaughtering them seems remarkably counter-productive.

But then, after a little bit of digging, the truth becomes a bit clearer.

Rather than carrying a bunch of harmless Lefties and do-gooders, the Mavi Marmara was a deliberate, concerted provocation to the State of Israel.

For God's sake, the provocation was so blatant that crew members were appearing on al-Jazeera before the Israeli operation, boasting about how they were looking forward to martyrdom, knowing full well that if and when it all kicked off on the boat, IDF forces would be only too happy to grant them their fervent wish.

But what is really interesting about this situation, unlike say, Operation Cast Lead or the war in Lebanon a few years ago, is that many Irish people have been given pause for thought on the situation.

After all, every boat in the flotilla had been given the option of docking in the nearby Israeli port of the historic town -- well, they're all pretty historic in that part of the world, in fairness -- of Ashdod.

When docked, their cargo would be searched by Israeli military customs to make sure they weren't bringing weapons or war material into Gaza and then they would be allowed to go in and distribute the aid to the needy civilians.

And for all the crocodile tears that are shed for the Palestinians, where was the person on that boat who said: "Hang on -- we can make a political point another day, today let's just concentrate on getting baby formula to starving Palestinian children?"

Where was the person who reckoned that the time for posturing could come another day, because they were more concerned with being pro-Palestinian than they were with being anti-Israeli?

Because make no mistake, hatred for Israel far outweighs any love for the people of Gaza for many of these activists, who tend to be a rag bag collection of fundamentalists, extremists and ill-informed do-gooders who know that in the current climate it is far easier and socially acceptable to be seen as being on the Palestinian side than it is to be on the Israeli one.

In fact, this sense of moral and intellectual confusion was perfectly illustrated at the anti-Israeli march outside their embassy earlier this week.

Pictured at the front of the demo, a bunch of people brandishing the Hamas flag.

And then, just behind them, was a flag from the Labour party's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered membership.

So, let's get this straight -- a bunch of LBGT rights activists are happy to stand shoulder to shoulder with the party which has branded homosexuality a moral perversion which can only be dealt with by execution?

How far out of whack does your moral compass have to be before you go marching, as a gay person, beside people who openly declare that they want you dead?

And, to compound the stupidity of these people, they went marching alongside murderous homophobes against a country which hosts the only gay pride march in the region and which each year grants amnesty to Palestinians who are gay on the basis that they face torture and execution in their home territory?

It would be amusing if it wasn't so sick.

That's not to say that the Israeli people have exactly covered themselves in glory, either.

After all, the scenes at Ashdod when a group of burly Israeli lads decided to bravely pick on two Israeli Arab women and chant "death to the Arabs" is every bit as disgusting as the vile, hate-filled speech we have come to expect from the Hamas regime.

But the difference here is that those bigoted Israeli pricks tend to be in the minority, and they were shut down by their own countrymen, as opposed to open incitement to hatred that characterises every single aspect of Palestinian life, from school books to television shows, which glory in the murder of Jews.

So, it will be interesting to see what the Irish ship, the Rachel Corrie, does when it gets close -- offer genuine help to Palestinians by obeying eminently reasonable Israeli requests that they submit to cargo examination in Ashdod or whether they will, instead, merely make a political point.

I know which outcome my money is on.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss