Confronting Anti-Israel Propagandists

[Author’s introductory note: The following is a letter I wrote to the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Michael Martin, a pro-Palestinian supporter and vocal critic of Israel.  I did not initially intend to submit this letter for publication. However, I felt that publishing it might encourage others to do the same where their representatives or government ministers are taking an unreasonable stance in relation to the Gaza Flotilla incident. Since I wrote the letter, Minister Martin published an extreme article in a prominent Irish newspaper which indicates he will try to influence the EU to break the blockade on Gaza.  But he seems to think nothing of courting communist China. It should be obvious that Israel is facing an existential crisis. The extraordinary hysteria in the media internationally and on the streets is a timely reminder of this fact. Israel needs more sensible vocal support from those who truly care about its future.]

Dear Minister,

As an Irish citizen living in Ireland I feel it is my duty to provide some observations on the stance taken by yourself and An Taoiseach [the Prime Minister] Mr. Brian Cowen with regard to the Gaza flotilla. Although I am not really a political campaigner I still decided to write to you because I feel your approach to this issue has been deeply unbalanced and damaging.

I have listened to your comments on the Irish media since the Gaza flotilla crisis erupted on Monday the 31st of May 2010. On that day, I listened to your interview on the RTE Radio 1 “News at One” show. You objected to the way Israel had characterised the members of the flotilla as extremists. You stated that they were legitimately protesting. Firstly, there is the issue of the legality in attempting to break a military blockade which I understand you believe is in itself illegal – I will return to this point later. Secondly, your assertion failed to address the accusations that Israel made regarding the violent conduct of certain activists. You had previously stated in an interview on the RTE1 TV “News at Noon” that the military action was completely unnecessary. I found that a remarkable thing to say since you would not have been in possession of many facts at that stage and as a result unable to ascertain with certainty that there had not been a violent response to the boarding of the ship. You claimed in the “News at One” interview that other strategies by the Israeli’s could have been adopted. Subsequently, on TV interviews you stated they could have shadowed the vessels to Gaza. I do not understand what good this would have done in terms of allowing Israel to ensure that the cargo was legitimate humanitarian aid rather then a source of harm to its citizens. You also stated that such violence did not occur before when ships went to Gaza. That is true, but your assertion ignores the obvious point that unlike before, there may well have been a very violent response as the Israeli State has repeatedly alleged.

The flotilla was led by a group called Foundation for Human Rights and Freedom and Humanitarian Relief (IHH). IHH is a radical Islamic Turkish NGO. Sources going back to the 90’s state they are connected with Al-Qaeda and other jihad networks. One example is a 2006 report by terrorism consultant Evan F. Kohlmann. Moreover evidence indicates IHH is directly involved with terrorist activities. The greater potential for violence was a concern by some before the incident occurred. TV footage attests to the jihadist intent on the flotilla.

Violence with the boarding of the Israeli troops only occurred on one ship – coincidentally the Turkish ship. This seems to indicate that the Israeli troops did not set out with violent intent. The violent reaction of the passengers can be fairly characterised as extreme as this YouTube video attests.

You stated that Israel has options for dealing with the flotilla. However, you failed to address the options open to the organisers of the flotilla itself. They could have landed at an Egyptian port or Ashdod Port. When Gilad Shalit’s father asked them to deliver letters and parcels to Gilad, they refused. The humanitarian aspect of the flotilla was simply a mask for a more hostile intent. If aid was the true aim of these people it could have been supplied through border crossings. There have been numerous attempts to break the embargo, e.g. in 2008 one ship just carried 5,000 balloons. It was of course known that these ships would be detained. Pro-Palestinian groups milk the events for propaganda. When those on the “Spirit of Humanity” were released they wasted no time peddling lies that were at times truly shocking. A British activist compared the low security prisons where activists like himself were detained with a Nazi concentration camp. The purpose is solely to cause diplomatic incidents to embarrass Israel and it is no coincidence commentators are claiming the present incident is a victory for Hamas. They and pro-Palestinians are the ones that benefited. Here is an article that discusses it.

The Taoiseach Mr. Brian Cowen has been quite unhelpful with regard to his own comments as well. In the Dáil [the Irish House of Parliament] he stated there would be “serious consequences” if any Irish citizen was harmed. Similarly, you stated later on Monday that the Irish citizens on board these ships were kidnapped and demanded that Israel treat the Irish ship the MV Rachel Corrie with respect. A very large number of Irish citizens are involved in this charade of attacking Israel supposedly for humanitarian reasons. None have been harmed in the past to the best of my knowledge. Therefore, while it is of course important to speak out about any concerns regarding Irish citizens, such strong language was unnecessary as it is unlikely any Irish citizens were harmed unless some happened to be on the Turkish vessel.

The alternative of breaking the embargo which you and many others endorse, will of course let shipments into Gaza without weapon import controls. This is a remarkable thing for any right-thinking individual to seek. Need I remind you that Hamas controls Gaza? They are funded and supplied with weapons by Iran. They will inevitably rearm themselves without the previous limitations imposed by using tunnels. The ensuing result will be another war with Israel which could be a good deal worse as Hamas will be much better equipped. How can anyone in good conscience claim that this is a viable alternative unless they regard the destruction of the State of Israel as a worthy goal?

To the best of my knowledge you are the loudest critic of Israel in the Irish Government and have been involved in quite a number of proposals and initiatives harmful to the State of Israel. Only in recent weeks you were involved with the UN conference limiting weapons of mass destruction in the Middle-East which resulted in a declaration which astonishingly singled out Israel rather than Iran, the state that threatened the Jewish Nation with extinction.

At the ICTU conference in April you asserted to your credit that you did not believe in boycotting Israel. However, at the same time you spoke of the need for Israel (rather than the Palestinians) to move toward a position where peace was possible and strongly advocated a two-state solution. I sometimes wonder when I hear the views of pro-Palestinians if they are referring to the same conflict. People like yourself act as if Israel alone prevents a Palestinian state. The Palestinian’s rejected every opportunity from the 1947 UN Partition resolution to the offer in 2008 by Ehud Olmert who agreed to virtually all the territory they demanded. As history has shown repeatedly, all parties require some level of good faith before there is any chance of achieving peace. In the past, the Israeli electorate has often backed peace-makers while the Palestinians often choose the opposite, such as with the 2006 Gaza election of the Islamist group Hamas. At best, “peace” talks are an exercise to appease the unrealistic expectations of the international community and at worst, a game of strategy to gain a propaganda victory. See a 2003 survey where only 20% of Palestinians state they will peacefully co-exist with Israel.

Israel will not be secure even if it achieves peace with the Palestinians. Besides the obvious threats of extinction, Iran is funding Hamas’ and Hizbullah’s assaults on Israel. Peace negotiations with Egypt and Jordan succeeded in preventing further military conflict but relations were never truly normalised at state level decades after peace was made. Syria’s leaders have indicated that normalised relations are not an option. Turkey, with its present Islamist government became hostile long before the current controversy. This conflict is an intermittent Islamic/pan-Arab war. Despite the precarious situation, Western politicians that luxuriate in peace aggressively encourage this state to take “risks for peace.” Yet when peace efforts go wrong they typically ignore the common Palestinian intransigence.

In your op-ed article for the New York Times “Gaza a Year Later” (published 4th March 2010) you wrote: “The tragedy of Gaza is that it is fast in danger of becoming a tolerated humanitarian crisis, a situation that most right-thinking people recognize as utterly unacceptable in this day and age but which is proving extremely difficult to remedy or ameliorate due to the blockade and the wider ramifications of efforts to try and achieve political progress in the Middle East.” In no way has it become or is becoming a “tolerated humanitarian crisis.” It is a crisis but certainly not one of the most serious in humanitarian terms. The population is not starving. Yes, rebuilding infrastructure and improving living conditions is problematic. You clearly blame Israel, but as soon as Hamas in essence committed a military coup it had little option but to isolate this terrorist organisation which has repeatedly stated in recent years that it will use terrorist acts to destroy Israel. When it greatly increased its attacks on Israel, it became, in effect, in a state of war. I am no expert on international law, but it is clear Israel has a legal right to defend its citizens. More importantly, it has a moral right.

You wrote:

“What I witnessed in Gaza, amidst all the rubble and devastation still so evident from last year’s conflict, was a population traumatized and reduced to poverty by an unjust and completely counterproductive blockade. All that is being achieved through the imposition of the blockade is to enrich Hamas and marginalize even further the voices of moderation. I view the current conditions prevailing for the ordinary population as inhumane and utterly unacceptable, in terms of accepted international standards of human rights.”

In actual fact, what “is being achieved” is a legitimate defence of Israeli citizens. The voices of moderation were thrown off rooftops. I refer to Fatah/PLO which aren’t exactly voices of moderation but are not quite so implacably opposed to Israel’s existence. Whether we like it or not the citizens of Gaza chose their fate when they elected Hamas because, in effect, they chose war. This is not a justification for collective punishment but neither can we simply excuse the election as some sort of expression of democratic will which shouldn’t have any consequences one way or another. All adults bear the brunt of moral choices so why exactly should Gazan’s be exempt? To suggest that the moral actions of the citizens of Gaza and the corresponding consequences should not be connected is to equate them with children. This is not a justification for their suffering but an assertion that they themselves are at least partially morally responsible for their present unfortunate circumstances. They chose war and they will chose it again. This clearly does not fit in with your view of peace loving Palestinians but that in itself does not make it incorrect. To ignore war mongering will not bring peace. Simply ignoring it will worsen the situation and harm the forces that legitimately oppose it.

Quite frankly I realise it is unlikely this letter will hold any sway with you or your department. However, I hope the points raised will encourage some reflection on the issue and, despite your feelings of support for the Palestinians, bring about a greater impartiality in dealing with this and future matters relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  • Jim Johnson

    Ask him how he fouled up the economy of Ireland so badly. The ask him why he doesn't tend to his own business which is getting Ireland out of it's mess.

  • Rifleman

    Ask him why 'pali' "refugee camps" are slums wherever they are located, despite all the money they're given.

  • Niall Ginty

    Through his ignorance and lack of balance, Michael Martin, along with the easily fooled, Chris Andrews have proven themselves unworthy of their positions of power. They join a long and growing list of public house orators who have shamed their country in the eyes of the educated world.

    Niall Ginty

  • Mary

    Excellent article and poignant letter as well. Clearly this entire incident was a well orchestrated PR move in support of every pro-Palestinian movement. When you have so called "credible" politician's voicing support of radical Islam veiled in humanitarian causes, something stinks! No one even mentions the fact that the MV Rachel Corrie is NOT an "Irish owned" ship. It is owned by The Free Gaza Movement. They purchased this ship in Ireland. The Irish people do not own the ship, nor does the country of Ireland. As an Irish-American I am appalled by any Irish politician who supports Hamas, or any movement or organization which stands against the State of Israel's right to exist. Hopefully, the people of Ireland will not allow weak politicians to lead them astray. They know, better than most, the position Israel is in. They know too that Israel has every right to defend itself against the mounting aggression that surrounds them.

  • William Smart

    The sequence of events seems to be that Israel, after firing various smoke and percussion bombs from the boats, then shot dead two people on the upper deck from the helicopter before the commandos rappelled down onto it.

    Most people will think the soldiers had a very lucky escape, most people in that situation would have beaten them to death.

    • aspacia

      William Smart, what valid support do you have for you claim?

      • William Smart

        I'm looking at the reports from the people on the boat, many of whom say that the killings started with shootings from a helicopter, only then did the commandos arrive.

        Fortunately, Israel has mountains of footage it robbed from even the journalists on board so if I'm wrong I'm sure we'll discover.

        • Markos Zachmanoglu

          Given the demonstrated terrorist ties of the "activists" on the boat, it is foolish to take their word alone as any sort of evidence.

        • aspacia


          It would be enlightening for you to post the reports you are looking at.

    • MixMike

      Actually, the Israeli's made several requests for the flotilla to dock at Ashdod but they were refused and, according to several reports, were told to "go back to Auschwitz." I know what you're thinking, and to the best of my knowledge Helen Thomas was not on the Mavi Marmara!

      The "activists" premeditated an attack on the soldiers. These are the same "activists" that are associated with terrorist groups such as the "noble" IHH (which has ties to Hamas and other radical Islamic groups). The soldiers entered with paint-guns (scary, I know) and were attacked first – beaten with crow bars, bats and knives. Several of the "activists" used stun grenades and wrestled away handguns from the soldiers. After the "activists" fired shots the Israeli's returned fire in defense. Subsequent reports found weapons aboard the Mavi Marmara and shells and other gun casings that are "inconsistent" with IDF weapons.

  • Michael Pat

    You speak for many other Irish too, although that is never reflected in the Irish media. Since Minister Martin doesn't see anything wrong with breeching the security of a sovereign state, I wonder how he would like it if Israel or anyone else was to send a flotilla of humanitarian aid to Ireland, a shipment of arms for example, to alleviate the deprevation of our basic human right to bear arms.
    Minister Martin seems to have very little to say when he is not condemning Israel. After the killing of the Hamas arms dealer in Dubai, and the use of Irish passports, Martin immediately blamed Israel on no better evidence than the assertion of the chief of a police force that arrests and imprisons women for being raped. To the best of my knowledge Israel has not accepted responsibility for that killing, and even Hamas doubted that it was Israel – but Michael Martin blamed Israel anyway.

  • Kim Bruce

    It was just announced on the Muslim Brotherhood website "Ikhwanweb" that idiot, George Galloway , of Viva Palestina,, has announced another flotilla attempt to crash the Israeli blockade.
    This time will be different, however. They are going to invade by land via Turkey and Jordan and at the exact same time a flotilla by sea will attempt to crash the blockade.

    • MixMike

      Several pronged attack… 1967 all over again?

  • Kim Bruce

    Galloway's new invasion wil happen some time in September, right after Ramadan.

  • Ann

    Things cannot be as bad in Gaza when they are displaying "Olympic Sized" swimming Pools and talking about steaks…….Does this sound like a destitute Country to you???
    Maybe someone should start telling the Palestinians go back to Church / Mosque and learn how to tell the truth and stop their "Sh– Disturbing" and leave the Israelis alone.
    Don't forget, Canada and Canadians will be there their to defned them…..especially after these latest events that have occurred. Good Luck Israelis. We appreciate you

  • Nollaig

    I am ashamed of the anti Israel attitude of the Irish Media and of my local TD Michael Martin.
    Long live truth, long live a free press and long live Israel.

  • Jim C.

    Here's exactly what I would say:

    Peace talks actually worked in your country. And when the IRA decided they hadn't gone far enough and started bombing again, they found themselves extremely unpopular among their own people. Would that Palestinians could rise to the same level of opprobrium.

    • Humanist

      As is the israeli public jimc as are the humanists among the bloodlusters

  • Arafat

    Thank you for taking the time to write this remarkable letter. If there were more people like you it would tilt the balance back toward reason and civility.

    I commend you for bringing your letter to the public. I believe this was a wise deicision for several reasons.

  • John (Ireland)

    When you belong to a corrupt part y(Fianna Fail) that has pursued policies that have almost bankrupted this state then it makes perfect sense to try and divert criticism from your party and go off on this anti Israeli crusade. This man cant even control his own staff in the Irish Passport office –they are on partial strike and there is huge anger among the 60,000 plus people waiting for passports. Martin is a devious, politicain trying to pose as an important European statesman and position himself to take over as Taoiseach (PM) if the current holder resigns. I hope for the good of this country that he does not succeed.

  • Humanist

    Robert/Bob or whatever pseudonym you use at any particular time. As an Irish citizen, do you also hold an israeli passport? and if so, which one does your true allegiance lie with? This question often gets me “bounced” from american/jewish rooms. You know how big the usa is on allegiance to their flag…even kindergarten goers must swear allegiance before classes/play begins. So, bob, what are you?