As Jonathan points out, the latest bit of Palestinian propaganda comes in the form of the Gaza-bound flotilla — an attempt (as with the original rockets fired into Gaza) to place Israel in the predicament of allowing threats to its citizens or engaging in a messy defensive operation that will bring howls from the American left, the Palestinian propaganda machine, and perhaps the Obama administration. (As to the latter, you can hear it now: “We deplore the excessive use of force.”)
Gaza remains a defining issue, separating the true Israel-bashers from the simply misguided and the pro-Israel. If Jew, gentile, or Muslim can’t bring himself to deplore the use of civilian targets by Hamas and to acknowledge the right of Israeli self-defense, then you know whatever “pro-Israel” or “pro-peace” credentials they are flashing are fake. If you’re with Richard Goldstone, you’re not in favor of a robust Israel with the right to defend itself from terrorist attacks.
Indeed, Joe Sestak is a prime example. He was of course one of the 54 signatories of the Gaza letter, calling for Israel to sacrifice its own security to allow materials into Gaza that could easily be converted to weaponry and could provide cover for smuggled weapons. As this report notes, the letter was instigated by some of the most Israel-hostile legislators (e.g., Jim McDermott and Keith Ellison), as well as this cast of characters:
J Street, The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF), The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), The American Near East Refugee Association (ANERA), The Methodist Church, The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), and Rabbis for Human Rights.
As is typical among Israel-bashers, Sestak’s sympathies primarily extend to the Palestinians and diminish the role of Hamas. An interview with the Jewish Exponent in February is telling:
Sestak acknowledged that signing on to the letter was politically risky, and that it could be used “against me.” But he said that it was more important to him to stand up for his convictions.
He said that while Israel’s security is a vital U.S. interest, the welfare of Gazans is a humanitarian concern: “I think we should be looking at this because I think it’s part of what we stand for as a nation.”
Liberal Democrat Eliot Engel denounced the letter in an interview in which he declared:
The Gaza 54 Democrats are just “misinformed” legislators. Democrats have problems with “extreme fringe elements” when it comes to supporting Israel, but “the mainstream of the party” will keep supporting Israel unlike the “vocal minority”.
In the “vocal minority,” Sestak has continued to defend his vote. In another interview, he flashed his military credentials as a naval admiral and asserted he really knew best what would be harmful to Israeli security, and that in this case, our humanitarian interests (which apparently don’t extend to the Israelis who would be attacked by smuggled weapons) should take precedence: “I truly believe the United States can meet our humanitarian interests without impacting the vital interest of our own, and Israel’s, security.”
Is it arrogance — I know better than Israel what is good for it — or is it animus toward Israel? Hard to say with Sestak, but the result is the same. He surely will encourage the worst tendencies in the administration and not let Israeli security get in the way of his “humanitarianism.” As with so many other self-proclaimed “tough love” proponents, there is toughness but no love of the Jewish state here.