Within days, anti-Israeli activists plan to launch another flotilla to Hamas-controlled Gaza, the main objective of which is to break the lawfully imposed Israeli naval blockade. Since Hamas has repeatedly and indiscriminately bombarded Israeli citizens with rockets and mortar rounds, there can be no serious doubt as to the legitimacy of the blockade. And although couched in humanitarian jargon, it could not be clearer that the aim of this year’s flotilla, as was true last year, has nothing at all to do with the living conditions in Gaza, where plainly there is no humanitarian crisis.
Instead, it has everything to do with the well-orchestrated and well-financed campaign to derail the push for a secure and lasting peace and demonize and de-legitimize the Jewish state. Its aim is the same as in last year’s stunt: to manipulate the truth and hopefully come away with footage and headlines portraying Israel in the worst possible light, all to the benefit of the internationally recognized terrorist group Hamas.
The U.S. government must wake up fully to the threat and take strong steps to discourage its citizens’ participation.
Already, other responsible governments have urged their citizens not to participate. At the forefront is Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who courageously blocked a one-sided anti-Israel resolution at the most recent G-8 meeting. Even the secretary general of the UN has urged governments to discourage their citizens from participating. So far, however, the self-proclaimed human rights activists have signaled that it’s full steam ahead.
For its part, the Obama administration has released a statement making clear that “groups and individuals who seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions.” But that warning has had little impact as a U.S. boat to Gaza, named The Audacity of Hope, the title of President Obama’s book, plans to set sail. The Americans manning the ship make no bones about it, proudly announcing their activities, identifying the participants and seeking donations on their website, ustogaza.org.
They obviously feel that they can act with impunity in fomenting another international crisis.
If the administration decides to play hardball – which in my view it should, without delay – there is a powerful weapon in its law enforcement arsenal.
The plain facts are this: Those who organize, fund and carry out this campaign are being much more than just irresponsible and provocative. They will be breaking federal law. Anti-terrorism laws prohibit anyone from knowingly providing “material support or resources” to foreign terrorist organizations; the term “material support” is defined very broadly in the law and under Supreme Court precedent.
And as everyone – including the flotilla organizers and participants – surely knows, Hamas, which runs Gaza with the tightest of fists, formally has been designated a foreign terrorist organization. Moreover, it should be obvious that the flotilla and the campaign behind it are rendering a significant service to Hamas by advocating their cause and giving aid and comfort to a terror group unflinchingly committed to the annihilation of Israel’s Jews. Indeed, the Hamas charter plainly calls for the murder of Jews (Article 7) and the destruction of Israel (Article 15), citing as support the classic anti-Semitic forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (Article 32).
The long and the short of it is that flotilla organizers are doing Hamas’ bidding. The White House and the Justice Department should make it crystal clear that should they continue in their dangerous mission, they may well open themselves up to prosecution. That might be the only way to get through to these misguided provocateurs.