Upon reading author Alice Walker’s smug, self-serving and self-righteous justification of her participation in the Flotilla of Fools I was filled with both despair and bitter humour. Despair at the ignorant yet holier-than-thou attitude of all these “progressive” “liberal” participants of the Flotilla to Gaza, and bitter humour at their lack of self-awareness and ignorance or ignoring of the most unprogressive and illiberal positions of the terrorist group Hamas which rules Gaza today.
What struck me almost immediately was the inanity of Walker’s comments as to their aims:
Our boat, The Audacity of Hope, will be carrying letters to the people of Gaza. Letters expressing solidarity and love. That is all its cargo will consist of.
“Letters”. I thought this was supposed to be an “Aid flotilla” bringing much-needed humanitarian aid to the poor starving Gaza residents. (h/t for the photos to Miriam and cba). Now it turns out to be just a dangerous publicity stunt for ageing radical-chic terrorist sympathisers.
Happily, I came across two excellent fiskings of her article, by CifWatch and award-winning journalist and author Howard Jacobson on CNN. I thank them for digging through the dirt so that I don’t have to.
I will bring you just a snippet from each review and recommend you read them both in their entirety.
If Walker was part of a left who was loyal to liberal principles, who swore allegiance not to the post-colonialism of fools, nor the anti-imperialism of idiots, but, rather, to a progressive politics which took seriously moral distinctions between flawed liberal democracies and reactionary Islamic fundamentalism, she would have long ago been denounced as a hypocrite of the first order, someone ill-suited to the cause to which she claimed allegiance.
Asking Israel to defend itself from charges that it is like the Nazis who exterminated 6 million Jews is as reasonable as asking America to defend itself from charges, from Iran, that it is the “Great Satan”. That is, nobody who’s morally or intellectually serious would deem such a hateful and grotesque invective as worth of a reply.
Walker, schooled in the art of compassion, liberalism, and liberation evidently fails to note that the regime she’s providing succor is beyond illiberal, is more than merely regressive. Indeed, Hamas, the movement which runs Gaza, which imports arms from Iran, and which fires rockets at Israeli schoolchildren, resembles – indeed, wildly exceeds – the racist fervor of the ”‘good ol’ boys’ of Neshoba County”, the racists of Mississippi, Bull Conner, and Jim Crow.
Walker’s liberalism is a liberalism turned, morally, upside down.
And from Howard Jacobson:
Human beings are seldom more dangerous than when they are sentimentally overcome by the goodness of their own intentions. That Alice Walker believes it is right to join the Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza I do not have the slightest doubt. But beyond associating her decision with Gandhi, Martin Luther King and very nearly, when she talks about the preciousness of children, Jesus Christ, she fails to give a single convincing reason for it.
“One child must never be set above another child,” she says. A sentiment that will find an echo in every heart. But how does it justify the flotilla? Gaza is under siege, Israelis will tell you, because weapons are fired from it into Israel, threatening the lives of Israeli children. If the blockade is lifted there is a fear that more lethal and far-reaching weapons will be acquired, and the lives of more Israeli children endangered.
Alice Walker makes plain, “its cargo will be carrying.” But what will these letters of solidarity be expressing solidarity with? Solidarity is a political term implying commonality of interest or aspiration. So what interest or aspiration do Alice Walker and her fellow travelers share with the people of Gaza? A desire for freedom? Well we all aspire to that. A longing to live in peace?
If they have such a longing we must be solid with them in that too, though the firing of rockets from Gaza is not, on the face of it, an expression of such a longing. And what about the declared hostility of Hamas to the very existence of Israel? Hamas, we are often told, is the elected government of Gaza, a government that fairly represents the wishes of its people. In which case we must assume that Hamas’s implacable hostility towards Israel fairly represents the implacable hostility felt by the people of Gaza. Are Alice Walker’s letters of love and ‘solidarity’ solid with the people of Gaza in that hostility?
At the end of the Guardian piece by Walker there is an addendum which sheds some interesting light onto the motivations of the flotilla
activists fools and their motivations. It’s simple jealousy of the attention that the “Arab Spring” has brought to the wider Arab region which has taken attention away from the Palestinians.
There is a danger, says Chris Doyle, director of the council for Arab-British understanding, of the Palestinian issue being overlooked – in the west at least – as focus shifts to countries going through the extraordinary changes in the Arab spring. “There is a danger that people forget how important this issue is, and that it is boiling. It is still an unresolved issue. At a time when international politicians – Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy and others – are concentrating so much on other areas of the region, the issue of Palestine has not gone away.”
The issue is only boiling because of the actions of Israel-hating terrorist supporters like Doyle and Walker who will not let the Palestinian issue take its natural place way down in the order of world crises, thereby encouraging the Palestinians in their maximalist demands.
“Everyone has been so amazed and shocked at the beauty of the Arab revolutions, seeing these incredibly brave and wonderful citizens, that it quite naturally seizes the attention, but at the heart of the Arab revolutions is Palestine,” says Karma Nabulsi, an academic and expert on the Middle East. “I would say it hasn’t been properly covered in the west, but Palestine is central to what people – the Arab media, the people who are participating in the Arab revolutions – talk about all the time.”
As PM Netanyahu said last week, it is time the Palestinians grew up.