The European reaction to the Israeli Navy’s interception of the flotilla containing pro-Palestinian “peace” activists en route to the Gaza Strip today adheres to the standard Pavlovian response: Turn Israel’s right to self-defense into a foreign-policy punching bag without carefully examining the radical Islamic ideology that animates activists to inflict violence on Israeli soldiers and civilians. The seizure of the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara resulted in the deaths of at least ten activists and severely injured Israeli soldiers and passengers.
While video footage appears to show political activists aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara violently attacking Israeli commandos, European leaders moved at a typically astonishingly fast pace to shift the onus of blame to Israel.
According to media reports, activists invoked on their way to Gaza the Islamic battle cry, “Jews, remember Khyabar, the army of Mohammed is returning.” The reference is to a Muslim massacre and expulsion of Jews in seventh-century Saudi Arabia.
The European diplomatic code language for stripping Israel of its right to defend its borders and security revolves around, as it did during Operation Cast Lead in 2008/2009, the word “disproportionate.” That was Act I in Europe’s hysterical condemnation of Israel’s decision to fight back and stop Hamas missile attacks on its southern periphery.
Act II is now under way. France’s President Sarkozy termed Israel’s conduct “disproportionate”; Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration noted that Israel’s actions did not conform to proportionality; the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs, Catherine Ashton, demanded that Israel end its blockade of the terrorist entity Hamas, which controls Gaza, without any preconditions such as the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit and the cessation of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.
In the topsy-turvy world of Europe’s sense of balance, Israel is now required to reward Hamas and an unsavory group of pro-Hamas “peace” activists. That’s E.U.-style proportionality in late May 2010.
– Benjamin Weinthal is a journalist based in Berlin and currently a fellow at the Iran Energy Project at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.