The Gaza flotilla was a perfect piece of Islamist theater, revealing an old European hatred
It’s a fascinating phenomenon: Why do people and organizations that present themselves as progressive team up with reactionary Muslims?
The Free Gaza group is just such a Leftist-Islamist alliance. Well, Gaza is already free. Israel withdrew from the narrow strip five years ago. And there is also no need for any humanitarian aid. Well over a million tons of humanitarian supplies entered Gaza from Israel over the last 18 months, equaling nearly a ton of aid for every man, woman and child in Gaza.
But Gaza’s population voted in democratic elections to be ruled by a party whose hatred of Jews is the cornerstone of its existence. Anyone who doubts this should read the Hamas manifesto on the Internet. The fact that Gaza is completely “judenrein” isn’t enough for Hamas. It wants Israel to be “judenrein” too. The Israeli blockade for “strategic goods” is therefore not designed to punish ordinary Palestinians but to prevent Hamas from obtaining heavy weapons and building bunkers. It’s as simple as that.
Contrary to Gaza, Chechnya, for example, isn’t free. The Russians have crushed the struggle for independence of the Chechens by carpet-bombing their capital. And what about a Kurdish state? The Turks and Iraqis have inflicted unspeakable horrors on the Kurds. And yet, there are no Free Kurdistan flotillas sailing toward Turkey, and Russian officials don’t have to fear to be arrested in European capitals for war crimes.
Here are some more facts—lousy, stubborn facts. Let’s look at the infant mortality rate in Gaza. It is a key number that says a lot about the state of hygiene, nutrition, and health care. In Israel the infant mortality rate is 4.17 per 1,000 births, which is about the same as in Western countries. In Sudan the rate is 78.1, that is, one in 13 infants die at birth. In Gaza, infant mortality per 1,000 births is 17.71. Yes, that’s higher than in Israel, but much lower than in Sudan. And Turkey’s infant mortality rate? Well, that’s 24.84. Yes, more infants die at birth in Turkey than in Gaza.
Here is another fact. Life expectancy at birth is 73.68 years in Gaza. And in Turkey, Gaza’s new protector, life expectancy is only 72.23 years. If the Israelis really wanted to make the lives of Palestinians short and nasty, then they are obviously doing something wrong.
The progressives don’t care for any other group of poor or suppressed Muslims. They only cry for the “victims” of the Jews. Why is that so?
One reason is Yasser Arafat, whose genius was to redefine the Palestinian cause in neo-Marxist and anti-imperialist rhetorics. He created a new context for his people: The struggle against colonialism and racism. He was a classic corrupt warlord with an amazing talent to play the Western media and politicians. The progressives adopted the Palestinians as their favorite, quintessential victims of imperialism and colonialism as epitomized by the Zionist state.
But there is another reason why Western progressives hate Israel but are indifferent toward human rights abuses in Turkey, Iran, or Russia. It’s because of the Holocaust.
Europeans, who represent much of what goes for world opinion, have grown tired of carrying the guilt for the destruction of the Continent’s Jews. They have started to long for some form of historical release. That comes in the form of Israel’s military response to Islamist attacks and terror. The Europeans couldn’t suppress the chance to defame the Jews and redefine Israel’s defense measures as either “disproportionate” or outright aggression—war crimes in other words.
In progressive European eyes, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict became a conflict without comparison, a unique phenomenon of European victims creating Palestinian victims, which seemed to diminish the weight of the ordinary European mass-slaughter of the Jews.
Watching Israel’s demonization, the attack on its right to defend itself as Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said, it becomes clear that there is a deep need among Europeans to call the Jews murderers. This is why the Palestinians, as “victims” of the Jews, are more important than the numerous Muslim victims of Muslim extremists; this is why millions of other Muslims living under worse conditions than the Palestinians hardly get any mention in the media; this is why Gaza is compared to the Warsaw Ghetto or Auschwitz. By calling the Israeli Nazis, the original Nazis have been legitimized. It feels as if the Europeans, led by the progressives, want the Arabs to finish the job. Enough with the Jews. It is what it is—we see Europe’s liberation from the legacy of the Holocaust.
For decades, our progressive, peace-loving Western activists have been fooled and manipulated by Arab tyrants and now by Turkish and Iranian Islamists. They have allowed themselves to assist in efforts to destroy one of the greatest adventures in modern times: the creation of the State of Israel.
What we have witnessed with the Gaza flotilla is the perfect execution of a masterful piece of Islamist theater. The media’s wild indignation, an orgasm of hypocrisy, marks the next chapter in the long story of European hatred toward the Jews. It is salonfähig again to be an anti-Semite.
Mr. de Winter is a Dutch novelist. His latest book is “The Right of Return” (De Bezige Bij ,2008).