Flotillas and The End of Helen Thomas

If you are a political blog reader, you couldn’t have missed veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas’ remarks about Jews and Israel. A rabbi video taped Helen saying that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and ‘ go home” to Germany and Poland.

On Friday Helen apologized for her remarks. She didn’t show up for the daily briefing today, and press secretary Robert Gibbs called her remarks, “offensive and reprehensible.” And finally, Helen Thomas announced today that she is retiring, effective immediately.

Like Dan Rather, Helen kept at her job long after she should have. Age does allow some things we believe to be spoken unfiltered.

Helen’s remarks were a response to the Gaza flotilla tragic incident. The reaction has been typical. If you are pro-Israel you say that Israel was only protecting itself, and the flotilla was no humantarian boat. If you are pro Palestine, then you say it was a humantarian boat and the Israeli soldiers are brutal killers.

If you are trying to sort it all out, it went like this. On Sunday, May 31st a flotilla of 6 ships filled with pro-Palestinian activists headed for Gaza. About a dozen Israeli naval ships were sent to intercept the convoy in international waters. There is a blockade of Gaza in place. Naturally pro-Palestinians don’t like that much. Israel inspects each boat that passes through.

Israel says the blockade of Gaza is vital to limit the smuggling of weapons, including long-range rockets, to Hamas, who in turn uses them to attack Israel. Gaza is controlled by the Islamic militant group Hamas.

Organizers of the flotillas said that the aim of the ships was to break through the “illegal” Israeli blockade “in non-violent direct action.” They feel that the blockade keeps the people in Gaza suffering.

The convoy of flotillas ignored calls for the ships to turn around or be escorted to Ashdod. Commandos from Israel began boarding each ship. Everything went fine on five of the ships, but on the Mavi Marmara things went horribly wrong. The pro-Palestians started beating the Israelis with clubs and wielding knives. The Israeli forces began shooting and 9 Turkish activists were killed.

The prime minister of Israel said that if the blockade had been penetrated, dozens or hundreds of ships would have eventually converged on Gaza carrying weapons.

So who was right? The organizers of the flotilla knew they were penetrating the blockade. That was their mission. Israeli reacted. Was using deadly force an overreaction? Or did the soldiers feel threatened for their own lives? All I know is that if someone is beating me with a club, and I have a gun, I’m going to shoot. I think most of us would.

But this is about much more than flotillas and blockades. This is a fight that even the Bible talks about. This is about hatred and land. And there isn’t much we can do about it.

As Gold Meir once said, “Peace will come to the Middle East when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.”

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