The Gaza flotilla and its fate have brought into relief the crisis which must one day burst in the Middle East. Ensconced after a coup in the Gaza strip, and more than just a political obstacle to peace, Hamas is deliberately seeking war with Israel, and a war of extermination at that. This challenge is inhuman on the one hand, but on the other it appears so uneven that it is ridiculous. However, Hamas pays no heed to considerations like morality or the balance of power because it is not the usual type of nationalist movement, but an ideology, and as such driven by irrational forces, for instance faith, for instance emotion. An ideology fails only when reality catches up with it. Reality may come in the shape of superior force, as was the case with Nazism, or in the shape of bankruptcy, as was the case with Communism.
Either outcome is possible here. Israel might be obliged one day to put a stop to the belligerence of Hamas, which continues to allow rockets to be fired from Gaza and has held for four years a kidnapped Israeli soldier. Iran finances and arms the movement, and might one day realize that this investment brings only costs, not benefits.
The people of Gaza are also prisoners of the ideology. Ostensibly, they turn out for demonstrations, they claim to be volunteering for suicide and martyrdom, they militarize their children. What they are really thinking in their inner selves is unknowable. In my experience, they wish for peace at any price but they are in the position of everyone forced to live under ideological leadership, too terrified of repression to speak out.
The activists on the ships are helping the leaders of Hamas to retain power, and thus postponing the moment of reality when the ordinary people might have the chance to be responsible for themselves. It is disgusting that these activists almost all live abroad, and so are running a small risk but exposing the Gazans to a much larger and more frightening risk in the future. The activists on the Rachel Corrie, for example — the Irish Nobel Prize lady, the Swedish writer by the name of Mankell — usually wearing the fancy dress of a Palestinian scarf or keffiya, are engaged in a theatre of self-promotion, for which the Gazans will pay the price. Which leads to one further question. If Hamas happened to be successful in its war of extermination, would these activists be proud to have played their part in piling up corpses in Tel Aviv? It’s a simple matter — either they are moral idiots, or crypto-Nazis.