by Marty Peretz
Look, I wish the Israeli raid on the so-called "Freedom Flotilla" had ended differently. Why, I ask, didn't
But, frankly, when some 800 men and women, distributed over six boats after weeks and weeks of preparation, are headed towards
The first five vessels were steered quietly to the Israeli port city of
But I.H.H. is also a satrap of the ever-more-Islamist government in
It wasn't so long ago that
It rings symbolically true that the two European countries first in line to bash Israel were the continent's prime basket cases: Greece, whose fakeries and troubles have no end; and Spain, saddled with hundreds of thousands of non-working Muslim immigrants and two ongoing separatist movements, one of which (Catalonia) has much justice on its side. Both
What was his seed doing in the eastern
The propaganda for the flotilla has been in the works for months. Most of it was simply false. The poverty in
Who is behind this overhyped mission of mercy? And who is its beneficiary? It is none other than Hamas, the Gazan outpost of the global jihad, cousin of the Taliban, second cousin once-removed of Hezbollah. Wishing Hamas well, laboring for its success, is actually a crime against the Palestinians themselves. Of course, the new realists, so-called, will now beat the drums for a "pragmatic" opening to Hamas. It is an old trope for Robert Malley and his ilk. So, over the last two days, they have returned with the same message: Hamas is the future. Soon we will hear from James Baker, James Wolfensohn, even Paul Volcker, who knows a lot about some things but absolutely zero about the
But Hamas is the past, the ugly past of ignorance. That does not mean it has no future. Hamas is the Palestinian counterpart of the movements of dread that now course throughout the world of Islam, and against which the West and moderate Muslims are struggling. The backward Muslims were Lost in the Sacred, as Dan Diner put it in his dazzling book-long essay, subtitled Why the Muslim World Stood Still. Pascal Bruckner depicts their Western sympathizers in The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism. Read these two books and you'll understand the desperate and comradely pity educated men and women have for pitilessness.
Sympathy for Hamas is an odd reality in the Western world, and
The front page of the Financial Times reads "
And I must admit that this marks a turning point in the Obama administration's attitude to
In fact, many people are having second thoughts … or are freeing their initial thoughts from the tiresome orthodoxies in smart parlors.
There were several smart pieces yesterday about the flotilla fallout. One was written by Michael Sean Winters in the lefty National Catholic Reporter. It is called "Judging Israel." And it judges the Jewish state fairly. But perhaps the most important take on the episode appeared in The Daily Beast. The piece ("Israel Was Right") was written by Leslie H. Gelb, a senior ideas man in the American foreign policy establishment, a former New York Times columnist, and the longtime president (now president emeritus) of the Council on Foreign Relations. Writes Gelb:
Regarding international law, blockades are quite legal. The
On that note, here are the relevant passages from the Helsinki Principles on the Law of Maritime Neutrality:
5.1.2 (3) Merchant ships flying the flag of a neutral State may be attacked if they are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search, capture or diversion.
5.1.2 (4) Merchant ships flying the flag of a neutral State may be attacked if they (a) engage in belligerent acts on behalf of the enemy; (b) act as auxiliaries to the enemy's armed forces; (c) are incorporated into or assist the enemy's intelligence system; (d) sail under convoy of enemy warships or military aircraft; or (e) otherwise make an effective contribution to the enemy's military action, e.g., by carrying military materials, and it is not feasible for the attacking forces to first place passengers and crew in a place of safety. Unless circumstances do not permit, they are to be given a warning, so that they can re-route, off-load, or take other precautions.
5.2.1 As an exception to Principle 5.1.2. paragraph 1 and in accordance with Principle 1.3 (2nd sentence), belligerent warships have a right to visit and search vis-à-vis neutral commercial ships in order to ascertain the character and destination of their cargo. If a ship tries to evade this control or offers resistance, measures of coercion necessary to exercise this right are permissible. This includes the right to divert a ship where visit and search at the place where the ship is encountered are not practical.
5.2.10 Blockade, i.e. the interdiction of all or certain maritime traffic coming from or going to a port or coast of a belligerent, is a legitimate method of naval warfare. In order to be valid, the blockade must be declared, notified to belligerent and neutral States, effective and applied impartially to ships of all States. A blockade may not bar access to neutral ports or coasts. Neutral vessels believed on reasonable and probable grounds to be breaching a blockade may be stopped and captured. If they, after prior warning, clearly resist capture, they may be attacked.
The law is on
Martin Peretz is the editor-in-chief of the leading liberal journal of thought, The New Republic.
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