Wednesday, July 6, 2011

First as Tragedy, Then as Farce

Freedom Flotilla 2, as it was so generously styled, as been an abject failure. The Canadian vessel got as far as Crete before being boarded by the Greek coastguard and turned about by strength to the port of Agios Nikolaos. They were four miles short of international waters. The American ship - helmed in part by the second-rate wordsmith Alice Walker - did not even make it out of port. Due to the moral and political authority of the Greek government, the Western Friends of Hamas were stopped before they could make their last stand by the shores of Gaza.

First they sailed at sea — now they try by air. For, this Friday, Haaretz reports that between 600 and 1,200 protestors are due to arrive en masse at Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv. The aim - as they term it - is to travel from said airport to Bethlehem in the West Bank, as part of a demonstration against travel restrictions in the Palestinian Territories. “Confrontation with Israel isn’t the goal in this case”, one of the organizers, Lubna Masarwa, told the paper. I fail to see how such an act can be construed as anything other.

This protest will fail, as others have before it, because the State of Israel will not tolerate such flagrant disregard for their legitimacy as a sovereign body. This is, as Netanyahu as said, a direct act of provocation at Israel’s borders at its one and only international airport. Israel has the right to do what is reasonable and necessary to prevent choas and disorder at its gates. Government agencies are said to be preparing for extreme scenarios, such as an activist trying to set himself on fire.

The lingering questions are two in number: who are these people? and what do they hope to achieve? To the first, that they are targetting the West Bank would indicate that, on the one hand, they are not as trenchant and militant in their allegiance with radical elements as the boat people. However, that this demonstration is being staged in concord with the flotilla makes them ipso facto allied with the aims and intents of the former and thus complicit with the Friends of Hamas.

In terms of what it might achieve, on this we can be fairly certain, for they must know their demonstration will not succeed in its ostensible aim of reaching Bethlehem. With this in mind, their clear and explicit intent must be to force the Israeli state into acts which weaken their standing in the international community and undermine their existence. This aerial bombardment is the same as last year’s flotilla and this season’s Naqba and Naqsa Day protests in the Golan Heights: they are built to fail as to shame and embarrass the Jewish state. No more; no less.