The Obama administration considers Israel’s blockade of Gaza to be untenable and plans to press for another approach to ensure Israel’s security while allowing more supplies into the impoverished Palestinian area, senior American officials said Wednesday.And now that is what Obama wants to pressure Israel to do - allow "an Iranian port in Gaza."
The officials say that Israel’s deadly attack on a flotilla trying to break the siege and the resulting international condemnation create a new opportunity to push for increased engagement with the Palestinian Authority and a less harsh policy toward Gaza.
“There is no question that we need a new approach to Gaza,” said one official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the policy shift is still in the early stages. He was reflecting a broadly held view in the upper reaches of the administration.
Israel would insist that any approach take into account three factors: Israel’s security; the need to prevent any benefit to Hamas, the Islamist rulers of Gaza; and the four-year-old captivity of an Israeli soldier held by Hamas, Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit.
Since the botched raid that killed nine activists on Monday, the Israeli government has said that the blockade was necessary to protect Israel against the infiltration into Gaza of weapons and fighters sponsored by Iran.
If there were no blockade in place, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Israeli television on Wednesday evening, it would mean “an Iranian port in Gaza.” He added, “Israel will continue to maintain its right to defend itself.”
“Gaza has become the symbol in the Arab world of the Israeli treatment of Palestinians, and we have to change that,” the senior American official said. “We need to remove the impulse for the flotillas. The Israelis also realize this is not sustainable.”Oh, please. Don't these guys realize that the Arab world doesn't need a symbol - they've been attacking Israel since 1948 long before there was a Gaza strip. Remember, Israel left Gaza so that they could rule themselves. That is what the foreign governments pressured Israel to do because that would, presumably, give the Palestinians in Gaza an opportunity to move on from their attacks on Israel. But of course those attacks continued. What do they think would happen if Israel abandoned the blockade? Iran would be shipping loads of arms into Gaza so they could continue their attacks on Israel. The Palestinians wouldn't suddenly wake up and smack themselves to say that since Israel abandoned the blockade they now have abandoned any desire to send rockets into Israel. How naive are these senior American officials?
As Charles Krauthammer writes today, the blockade is totally legal.
The world is outraged at Israel's blockade of Gaza. Turkey denounces its illegality, inhumanity, barbarity, etc. The usual U.N. suspects, Third World and European, join in. The Obama administration dithers.Krauthammer goes on to explain how the world has denied Israel any method of defending itself. It doesn't matter what Israel does, any action they take will be attacked as disproportionate and contributing to the "cycle of violence." And why is that? We know why.
But as Leslie Gelb, former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, writes, the blockade is not just perfectly rational, it is perfectly legal. Gaza under Hamas is a self-declared enemy of Israel -- a declaration backed up by more than 4,000 rockets fired at Israeli civilian territory. Yet having pledged itself to unceasing belligerency, Hamas claims victimhood when Israel imposes a blockade to prevent Hamas from arming itself with still more rockets.
In World War II, with full international legality, the United States blockaded Germany and Japan. And during the October 1962 missile crisis, we blockaded ("quarantined") Cuba. Arms-bearing Russian ships headed to Cuba turned back because the Soviets knew that the U.S. Navy would either board them or sink them. Yet Israel is accused of international criminality for doing precisely what John Kennedy did: impose a naval blockade to prevent a hostile state from acquiring lethal weaponry.
Oh, but weren't the Gaza-bound ships on a mission of humanitarian relief? No. Otherwise they would have accepted Israel's offer to bring their supplies to an Israeli port, be inspected for military materiel and have the rest trucked by Israel into Gaza -- as every week 10,000 tons of food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies are sent by Israel to Gaza.
Why was the offer refused? Because, as organizer Greta Berlin admitted, the flotilla was not about humanitarian relief but about breaking the blockade, i.e., ending Israel's inspection regime, which would mean unlimited shipping into Gaza and thus the unlimited arming of Hamas.
Israel has already twice intercepted ships laden with Iranian arms destined for Hezbollah and Gaza. What country would allow that?
But even more important, why did Israel even have to resort to blockade? Because, blockade is Israel's fallback as the world systematically de-legitimizes its traditional ways of defending itself -- forward and active defense.
But, if none of these is permissible, what's left?And now the Obama administration is joining up with those who would like this whole problem to disappear - even if that means the destruction of Israel.
Ah, but that's the point. It's the point understood by the blockade-busting flotilla of useful idiots and terror sympathizers, by the Turkish front organization that funded it, by the automatic anti-Israel Third World chorus at the United Nations, and by the supine Europeans who've had quite enough of the Jewish problem.
What's left? Nothing. The whole point of this relentless international campaign is to deprive Israel of any legitimate form of self-defense. Why, just last week, the Obama administration joined the jackals, and reversed four decades of U.S. practice, by signing onto a consensus document that singles out Israel's possession of nuclear weapons -- thus de-legitimizing Israel's very last line of defense: deterrence.
The world is tired of these troublesome Jews, 6 million -- that number again -- hard by the Mediterranean, refusing every invitation to national suicide. For which they are relentlessly demonized, ghettoized and constrained from defending themselves, even as the more committed anti-Zionists -- Iranian in particular -- openly prepare a more final solution.
Meanwhile, Danielle Pletka has a good question that may give Americans pause before they jump on the flotillas-to-Gaza bandwagon.
On Tuesday, I posted a short piece over at the American Enterprise Institute's blog asking what we would do if a flotilla made its way toward Guantanamo to deliver aid and comfort to the victims of American aggression, illegal detention or some such. And if that flotilla ignored warnings to turn away and refused to allow U.S. security to board peacefully to examine the contents. And if, once boarded, those on the boats attacked our servicemen. It hasn't happened -- yet. But why not?Or ask Turkey how they would feel if so-called "humanitarians" wanted to funnel arms disguised as aid to Kurds in areas in Turkey. I don't think they would be so blithe about those humanitarian provacateurs, would they?
After all, the flotilla wasn't really about the Palestinians. If it were, then why not float a shipment to the refugee camps in Lebanon? And it's not really about rights. If it were, then why not protest Hamas' treatment of girls in U.N. Relief and Works Agency camps? The spokeswoman for the flotilla made clear that the mission was more about Israel than it was about actually helping anyone; indeed, the flotilla refused to dock for inspection and transportation of goods to Gaza (maybe they were worried someone would think bulletproof vests and night-vision goggles were not educational). It's not even about getting food and medicine to the Palestinians, something Israel facilitates already.
There's no need to detail the reactions to this incident -- nor note the glee with which such champions of human dignity as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Daniel Ortega and the U.N. Human Rights Council have responded -- because others have done that job. The Obama administration is getting some credit in some quarters for not jumping on board the anti-Israeli bandwagon. But it deserves little. It is precisely the administration's harping on Israel from nearly day one that has given credence and legitimacy to these over-the-top criticisms.