The world should be offering Israel a hearty and heartfelt congratulatory ovation for all the gifts it has just handed out to its detractors, critics, self-appointed spokespeople of hatred and verbal violence against that state ... not to mention BP and the oil slick. After more than three and a half weeks of seemingly mechanical failures and botched attempts to deal with the biggest oil crisis in America's history since the Exxon Valdez, sickening the inhabitants of the nearby areas who will live for an extended period of history forever cursed with the ecological disaster of this mistake, Israel went and handed the international world much-needed relief and gave them a James Bond-like incident with which to heap approbation and hypocritical, disproportionate and unbalanced blame for an operation having gone awry.
The main beneficiary who you would expect to be so ever grateful for this botched attempt is none other than the Turkish prime minister. By its actions, Israel has propelled his political goals of leadership to stratospheric heights, as he broadly condemns Israel's actions as "murderous," "barbarous" and as "a massacre." As a Muslim having been seen to have hoisted too many of his strings with the secular West, and not having received too much in return, his attempts at being the loudest critic of Israel's action will win him many brownie points and allow him to change course, whereby Turkey will find succor and a willing embrace within a different civilization — the Muslim world, the very world Ataturk renounced and from which he attempted to free his country. Now that Turkey can direct its attentions eastward, while turning its back on the West, it will allow Prime Minister Recep Erdogen to speak as an equal within that world, instead of as a third world citizen, as he had been treated by the West. For that opportunity he should be sending telegrams of gratitude to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Indeed, Israel's prime minister should also be expecting e-mails of gratitude from Hamas too. For in this seeming coup de grace, it has created a public relations incident it could previously only have dreamed of and propelled its political leverage way above that of the PLO. Mahmoud Abbas has now become more of an irrelevancy while the political fortunes of Hamas have left him way in the dust. The international world, in its almost unanimous condemnation of Israel, has also seemed to embrace, quite loudly and universally, the political goals of a terrorist organization, with connections, both militarily and financial, to others who work for the downfall of the "uncivilized, immoral" West — the very liberal democracies who are currently the top of their list of friends. How ironic.
And then there are all those "I told you so" leading leftists who just can't wait for the opportunity to berate Israel in public and prove their left-leaning considerations have been worth the effort. And of course, some of those who have denounced Israel the most and in the most vicious manner are always Jews — Israelis — for whom Israel has become a pariah that justifies their verbal hatred and disconnect with that country. They should certainly be applauding the Israeli prime minister for having handed them their biggest gift on a platter. And for those left-leaning countries and organizations who are not Israeli or Jewish — whether from Great Britain, whose produce stores remove products made in the "West Bank," or Norway and Sweden, who wish to financially divest all financial connections with the Jewish state — Israel should receive full and undivided support for allowing them to now continue to justify their one-sided policies against Israel.
As for all those humanitarians and pacifists that were aboard the ships claiming to bring supplies to the impoverished Palestinians, one indeed has to wonder why so many of them were armed with weaponry calculated to maim and cripple. Haven't these people given "pacifism" a bad reputation, or have they only become an oxymoron for violence that they justify on their own terms? For if they had really lived up to their description, how come so many Israeli soldiers had to be taken to the hospital? And if they really did not want a violent end to their so-called "humanitarian" mission, why did they refuse to dock either in Israel or Egypt for an inspection of their goods, just to make sure they hadn't overlooked a few thousand rockets that might have been holed up in the cargo?
Make no mistake about this: the embargo that currently exists against Gaza is one forced upon Israel by a terrorist organization that seeks the end of the Israeli state — sadly for them, Israel denies them this wish, and as part of that denial includes the national security need to guarantee no one supplies the enemy with "humanitarian" goods that threaten Israeli lives. Many in the world refuse to see Israel's need for self-protection as an international right — but let's be fair about this, the loudest critics here are those very countries who practiced the very same embargo against others, notably Great Britain during the Falkland War, and Europe against American boats during its military endeavors.
Maybe the best response to this sordid case can be found in, of all publications, the Moscow Times, where, in an editorial, the author, Yulia Latynina writes: "There were 700 people aboard the flotilla. Of course, many were supporters of Hamas. But there were also Europeans. In a world where terrorists destroy the World Trade Center and bomb the London metro — and where Hamas is dead set on destroying Israel — it is amazing how many IDIOTS can be found who are ready to defend anyone who whines 'The world owes me.' This is the scariest part. The militants have mastered a new strategy, and the myopic do-gooders of the world are their willing pawns."
So Israel should be receiving a huge array of thanks and behind the scenes congratulations for having lifted the political goals and spirits of so many, but, I suspect, they won't be forthcoming too publicly.
Rabbi Chaim Landau, Baltimore
The writer is rabbi of Ner Tamid Congregation.