The virulent worldwide reaction to Israeli’s handling of the Gaza flotilla has been quite instructive. The bankrupt Greeks, for example, are taking a holiday from railing at the Germans to demonstrate in solidarity with the Turkish-organized Gaza effort, which puts them on the same side as those whose government supports the occupation of much of Greek-speaking Cyprus and its divided capital.
No one in Europe worried much about the constant shower of missiles from Gaza in the past. No one in Europe said a word when North Korea torpedoed and slaughtered South Koreans on the high seas. No one objected when the Iranians hijacked a British ship and humiliated the hostages.
We ourselves seem to be getting a sort of novel pass for executing scores of suspected terrorists — and anyone in their vicinity — in our new, stepped-up Predator drone assassinations.
But the Western and Islamic worlds have a preexisting furor at the Jewish state that can be tapped at will by almost any pro-radical-Palestinian group clever enough to do proper P.R. after a desired asymmetrical confrontation. The fallout from Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount, the distortions around the 2002 terrorist storming of the Church of Nativity, the 2006 Lebanon war — over time, these incidents do their part, in weird fashion, to incur hatred for a liberal democracy while creating sympathy for a theocratic thugocracy like Hamas.
What explains this preexisting hatred, which ensures denunciation of Israel in the most rabid – or, to use the politically correct parlance, “disproportionate” – terms? It is not about “occupied land,” given the millions of square miles worldwide that are presently occupied, from Georgia to Cyprus to Tibet. It is not a divided capital — Nicosia is walled off. It is not an overreaction in the use of force per se — the Russians flattened Grozny and killed tens of thousands while the world snoozed. And it cannot be the scale of violence, given what we see hourly in Pakistan, Darfur, and the Congo. And, given the Armenian, Greek, and Kurdish histories (and reactions to them), the currently outraged Turkish government is surely not a credible referent on the topic of disproportionate violence.
Perhaps the outrage reflects simple realpolitik — 350 million Arab Muslims versus 7 million Israelis. Perhaps it is oil: half the world’s reserves versus Israel’s nada. Perhaps it is the fear of terror: Draw a cartoon or write a novel offending Islam, and you must go into hiding; defame Jews and earn accolades. Perhaps it is anti-Semitism, which is as fashionable on the academic Left as it used to be among the neanderthal Right.
Perhaps there is also a new sense that the United States at last has fallen into line with the Western consensus, and so is hardly likely to play the old lone-wolf supporter of Israel in the press or at the U.N.
At this point, it doesn’t much matter — as this latest hysterical reaction reminds us, much of the world not only sides with Israel’s enemies but sides with them to such a degree as to suggest that, in any existential moment to come, the world either will be indifferent or will be on the side of Israeli’s enemies.
Quite frightening, when you think of it.