Enough already. Let us turn to some other issues. It is summer so the Gaza flotillas are about to set off. Everything we said last year can be said this year, with additional references to the Arab spring that seems not to be resolving into high summer but has caused a great many casualties in various Arab countries as tyrannical dictators (no, it is not a tautology) cling on to power by slaughtering as many of their people as they can manage.
Syria is a particularly good example, as the Irish Examiner points out.
If the Assad regime were deposed, it would represent a major setback to both the Iranian regime and Hezbollah. Conversely, Lebanon’s March 14 democracy campaign and the Iranian Green Movement would be emboldened by the overthrow. Since March, 1,400 demonstrators have been killed by the Syrian security forces. Assad says his people love him and promises change but the reality is bullets in the backs of women mourning their sons.A nasty, bloody regime with many links to terrorists organizations and a tendency to ... well, not to put too fine a point on it, massacre the people of Syria.
The Assads have, successfully, put down dissent before. In Hama, upwards of 10,000 people were massacred on Daddy Assad’s orders in 1982, many times more than infamously died in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps the same year.
Following in his father’s footsteps, the current Assad deployed his air force against the Kurdish minority in 2004. Scores were killed and thousands were arrested and tortured. Nevertheless, somehow Assad – like the younger Gaddafi — has managed to create an image for himself as a good guy in bad guy’s clothing. He behaves like another Gaddafi but Hillary Clinton calls him "a reformer".
The fear is, of course, that if Assad went, the Muslim Brotherhood would take over. But in the Syrian case, unlike Egypt’s, is that necessarily a step backwards? It’s tempting to think it would be a good thing if Assad were allowed to cling precariously to power. But history suggests dictators like Assad become externally aggressive in response as they try to earn legitimacy in their citizens’ eyes. Right now, compelled to devote his energies to staying in power, Assad has little time to stir up fires elsewhere. But for how long?
The more immediate question is, why is the MV Saoirse and its assorted passengers heading for Gaza and not the Syrian coast? Surely, if anyone could use some solidarity right now, it is the Syrian opposition forces who are being murdered on a daily basis?One could and should address the same question to all those who are setting out in their flotillas to demonstrate something or other by sailing to Gaza.
Yes, Israel is maintaining a sea blockade to prevent the smuggling of Iranian weaponry into Gaza. But can we really blame them? Ireland has special reason to understand the need to prevent the entry of weapons by sea for terrorist purposes, having had the experience of the IRA’s attempts to import arms and explosives on ships from Libya in 1973 (the Claudia) and 1987 (the Eksund), and — with Martin Ferris’ help — on the Marita Ann from the US in 1984.
As the deputy director of the Red Cross in Gaza stated in April this year: "There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza." But there most certainly is a humanitarian crisis in Syria. The Gazan economy is clipping along and tonnes of consumer goods and food arrive daily. For sure, life is probably not very pleasant there by our standards but the oppression comes from the ruling Hamas regime, not Israel which pulled out every last settler and soldier years ago.
So how about it, Fintan Lane, Barry Andrews, Sinn Féin, and your far-left buddies? Why not divert a couple of hundred miles north to Latakia where President Assad is mowing down his own people because they dare to demand dignity and democracy? Surely, there is no contest in terms of suffering?
Phyllis Chesler has harsh words:
These self-styled activists and presumed anti-racists are slumming, partying, cruising for cheap thrills and even cheaper publicity. They yearn for cut-rate, no “burn” glory. They are ultimate conformists, careerists, “making their bones,” adding to their activist resumes by sticking it to the Jews. This is meant to prove that they are brave and principled.Indeed. And they also have a tendency to whimper when Israel exercises every country's right to defend itself. And, of course, none of them have the slightest idea of what the situation in Gaza is really like or who is really oppressing the people of Gaza. Hint: the Israelis are not there but Hamas is.
In essence, they are engaged in a highly self-destructive form of political theatre: they are concretely manipulating symbols in the same way that Osama bin Laden did on 9/11. In the name of “caring,” these activists are surrendering to the most dangerous totalitarian and misogynist Islamist regime—but in the name of “freedom” and “justice.”
Meanwhile, Hezbollah has backed Syrian tyrant Baby Assad (to distinguish him from previous Syrian tyrant, Daddy Assad), naturally enough, since he has been their patron and supporter for many year.
Hezbollah has thrown in its lot with Assad against the Syrian people, supplying gunmen to execute Syrian soldiers who refuse to take part in the killing of Syrian citizens. By siding so unequivocally with the Alawite dictator over his captive, predominantly Sunni population, and in a dispute that has nothing to do with Israel no less, Hezbollah has exploded its carefully constructed image as the standard-bearer for the Muslim common man against the Zionist enemy. Outraged Syrians are now being filmed burning posters of Hezbollah’s chief, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.The big question is will either Baby Assad or Hezbollah or the two together instigate a war with Israel in order to take away attention from internal dissent of both country and organization?
ADDENDUM: Another excellent piece on the subject, this time by Kevin Myers, one of the sanest journalists around (though he is in Ireland not in Britain). He asks quite rationally "How can do-gooders possibly think that Gaza is the primary centre of injustice in Middle East?". He is, as all decent people must be, stunned by the visceral hatred Israel excites in people who ought to know better (for example Brian Keenan who was held hostage for four years by Arab terrorists).
But how can anyone possibly think that Gaza is the primary centre of injustice in the Middle East? According to Mathilde Redmatn, deputy director of the International Red Cross in Gaza, there is in fact no humanitarian crisis there at all. But by God, there is one in Syria, where possibly thousands have died in the past month.One reluctantly assumes that these people are not motivated with feelings of humanitarian charity towards Arabs but something very different and far more pernicious.
However, I notice that none of the Irish do-gooders are sending an aid-ship to Latakia. Why? Is it because they know that the Syrians do not deal with dissenting vessels by lads with truncheons abseiling down from helicopters, but with belt-fed machine guns, right from the start?
What about a humanitarian ship to Libya? Surely no-one on the MV Saoirse could possible maintain that life under Gaddafi qualified it as a civilised state. Not merely did it murder opponents by the bucketload at home and abroad, it kept the IRA campaign going for 20 years, and it also -- a minor point, this, I know -- brought down the Pan Am flight at Lockerbie. Yet no Irish boat to Libya. Only the other way round.