Ships of Fools



There's only one thing certain about the flotilla making its way to Gaza this week: No good can come of it.

The attempt by naive and misguided activists seeking to bring attention to the situation in Gaza is foolhardy at best and potentially lethal at worst.

The question is: How much harm will be done? Israel is apparently taking all kinds of precautions in an effort to avert a repeat of last year's bloody scenario, when nine activists died in clashes with Israeli forces who, after repeated warnings, had boarded one of the ships.

At the same time, Jerusalem has rightly declared its intention to prevent this new fleet from arriving at the Gaza port in what the world should understand as a purely provocative act.

Israelis are bracing for another public-relations nightmare, worried that as well-trained as they are, there is still a possibility that something will go awry.

The flotilla, which includes 10 ships and some 500 activists — far fewer than the organizers had hoped — should just give up and go home.

There is virtually no international support for these shenanigans. The U.S. State Department made clear that flotilla participants "are taking irresponsible and provocative actions."

It said in a statement that Americans involved in the flotilla could face fines and jail upon their return: "Delivering or attempting or conspiring to deliver material support or other resources to or for the benefit of a designated foreign terrorist organization, such as Hamas, could violate U.S. civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration."

Even the United Nations, no friend of Israel, has implored the activists not to move forward. And all 27 European Union countries signed a statement last week saying that humanitarian assistance should be under the realm of the United Nations and "should take care not to endanger human lives."

Everyone but these misinformed individuals, including novelist Alice Walker and 35 other Americans, recognize the potential fallout here.

The economic situation in Gaza has been improving, and is not as bad as it is often portrayed. There is no doubt still considerable economic distress in the strip, but the fault lies not with Israel, which needs to monitor goods in order to prevent the influx of weapons and other problematic materials. The fault lies squarely in the hands of Hamas.

Instead of Israel having to expend military and political energy on a silly — and risky — act that will do nothing to change the situation, attention should be focused on pressuring Hamas to forswear terror and violence, accept Israel and get into the business of focusing on the real economic potential of its people.

That would be energy well spent.


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