The Guardian newspaper in London recently announced that my friend and colleague Joshua Treviño is joining its circle of editorial contributors. This has triggered a frothing campaign to pressure the paper into dropping him, the main charge of which has been that he “endorsed the killing of Gaza flotilla members” by Israel two years ago. Over at Al Jazeera, some earnest fool named Ali Abunimah writes: “In the name of ‘robust debate’, the venerable left-leaning liberal newspaper has effectively given its stamp of approval to speech that goes beyond mere hate, speech that clearly crosses the line into incitement to murder unarmed civilians and journalists.”
This assertion is laughably stupid. If you remember, the 2010 Gaza flotilla featured a hefty passenger cruise ship (the Mavi Marmara, with a capacity of more than 1,000 passengers) in an attempt to forcibly breach the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. The ship ignored repeated warnings to turn away or be boarded and was finally boarded by Israeli commandos. Nine activists were killed when they attacked the Israeli commandos with crude weapons that had been prepared in advance. The group that organized the flotilla is affiliated with the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
We’ve been over all this before (I wrote about it here) but to reiterate: The Gaza flotilla was an attempt to forcibly breach a legitimate military blockade. That blockade is the subject of ongoing negotiations in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and all relevant parties have accepted that any changes must be negotiated. As such, the flotilla was an act of war, and Israel was fully within its rights to use force in repelling it. It’s immaterial whether you’re an unarmed civilian, or a journalist, or a violin-maker: If you participate in an act of war against Israel, then the official position of the United States government (and of most governments) is that any force necessary and proportional for self-defense may be employed against you. And if you materially support the terrorist group Hamas then under the laws of the United States and other countries you have committed a felony.
So in other words, the official position of the U.S. government — and the conviction of many Americans — is that, if you’re an American, and you participate in one of these international provocations, you might get shot, and it will be your fault if you do. And if you don’t get shot, then promptly upon your return, you may be prosecuted for lending material support to a terrorist organization.
Mr. Abunimah may have trouble understanding this, but supporting the official position of the U.S. government is not an incitement to violence. Alas, now that such left-wingers and Israel-haters in Canada and Europe have grown accustomed to suppressing the speech of those they disagree with (through “hate speech” codes and the like), embarrassments like this are going to become depressingly routine. But orthodoxies of opinion are like inbred families, they become stunted and malformed. A dose of intellectual diversity might do the Guardian some real good — besides saving it from the shame of publicly caving in to these mindless vituperations.