That is Gideon Levy’s plea to Israel, as a new flotilla of human rights activists prepares to challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
Levy, who writes for Haaretz, begs Israel to remember the past (emphasis is mine):
Had Israel not behaved with such wanton stupidity, and not attacked the previous flotilla and allowed it to reach the Gaza coast, it’s possible that this new flotilla would not have mobilized – at any event, the eyes of the world would not be peeled as they are now, watching the flotilla closely.
I told members of the group that Israel is determined to attack. One of them has already purchased a bulletproof vest. Israel well understands that these are people are not threats, and that no weapons will be smuggled on the boats. Nonetheless, Israel makes threats, and the IDF naval commandos train for the flotilla’s arrival. The result: Requests to sail on the boats skyrocket, and the flotilla vessels will be jam-packed.
When you meet such people, you understand the terrible international damage Israel inflicts upon itself as a result of its violent behavior. How simple (and just ) it would be to allow these well-intentioned people to reach their goal; in contrast, how idiotic, violent and unnecessary it would be to release the commandos once again, to go after them.
“A toast to the darkness that swooped on the ships … Godspeed to the small, wooden boats,” the poet Nathan Alterman wrote in his “Response to an Italian Captain,” in praise of the ship that broke through the British blockade and brought Jewish immigrants to Nahariya in 1945. And let’s have a toast to the Swedish (or Turkish ) captain, and for the boats en route to Gaza, on a mission no less just; let’s hope that Israel will change its course and, for a change, surprise the world be taking a wise step and allowing the ships’ passengers to reach their destination.
Israel cannot be hurt by any imaginary danger the ships pose. Here from Sweden, at a time when the sun does not set at night, comes a final appeal to those who would block the flotilla: Please, just once, act with prudence, and abide by international law and simple justice. These people have the right to reach Gaza; Israel lacks the right to stop them.
Agence France Presse reports that “several American Jews” are participating in the flotilla (although they also cite one of the organizers, Leslie Cogan, who says that 28 percent of the boat’s passengers are Jews from the United States — that’s more than a quarter of the passengers, certainly a lot more than “several”).
Altogether, about 1,000 activists will be part of the aid convoy.
One of the boats in the flotilla, called “Miles of Smiles,” has already reached Gaza via the Egyptian border crossing at Rafah. That convoy carried “62 activists, most of them Europeans, as well as South African, Tunisian and Lebanese nationals, carrying ambulances, medicines and medical equipment.”
The head of Israel’s navy, Adm. Eliezer Marom, calls the convoy a “hate flotilla,” the only purpose of which ” is to clash with IDF soldiers, create media provocation, and delegitimize Israel.”
So Israel is going to provide a clash with IDF soldiers, create a media provocation, and delegitimize Israel. Weird, but typical.