To a Gaza Flotilla Participant

When activists seeking to break Gaza's blockade proclaim their commitment to nonviolence, how do they square that with Hamas's record of violence, including its bloody seizure of power from the Palestinian Authority four years ago?
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You recently wrote in The Huffington Post that you plan to join the flotilla headed for Gaza next month.

You stated that the goal is to "break the blockade of Gaza," and support the "right of self-determination" for the Palestinians there.

You asserted that "everyone on the boat is committed to nonviolence," referring self-importantly to the participants as "well-known American peace activists."

Allow me a few questions.

Oddly missing from your entire article was one word - Hamas. Why?

Could it be that you're unaware that Hamas rules Gaza? Or is the omission because you don't think it's pertinent to the discussion? Or is it that you are aware, but think it might cloud the sunny picture you're trying to paint, so best to skip it?

Obviously, as someone who touts his Middle East credentials, you know of Hamas, so let me understand how you deal with it, since it's impossible to separate the situation in Gaza today from Hamas rule since 2007.

You proclaim your commitment to nonviolence.

How do you square that with Hamas's record of violence, including its bloody seizure of power from the Palestinian Authority four years ago?

Have you taken a public position on the firing of literally thousands of missiles and mortars by Hamas at Israeli towns and villages, with the aim of murder and mayhem?

Did I miss your condolences when an Israeli school bus was recently hit by Hamas fire and a 16-year-old boy was killed?

And I couldn't find a word from you about the plight of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas and held incommunicado for the past nearly five years. Did I somehow overlook it?

By the way, have you read the Hamas Charter?

How do you process the following statement in that screed: "The Day of Judgment will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them; until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: Oh Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him."?

Is that not raw, unadulterated anti-Semitism?

And do you subscribe to the rejection in the charter of all "infidels" who will "corrupt" the "true believers" of Islam?

Or how about this excerpt: "Renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of Islam."? Doesn't that mean Israel has no right to exist, whatever its final borders might be?

Indeed, do you believe Israel has a right to exist and the Jewish people have the right to self-determination? You defend it for the Palestinians, but, to be clear, is that meant to be in a state alongside Israel or in one that replaces Israel?

Your confrères in the flotilla from such groups as the Free Gaza Movement openly reject Israel's legitimacy. Do you agree with them, or have you rejected their position?

Should you by chance reach Gaza, will you embrace the Hamas leaders who will be waiting for you on the shore? Will you call them your brothers in peace and nonviolence?

Israel has made clear that it has only one reason for enforcing a blockade - to prevent weapons-smuggling by a ruling group that publicly calls for Israel's destruction.

By seeking to break that blockade, you're aware, aren't you, that the result would be an influx of more offensive weapons from Iran and elsewhere, as we've seen in the past?

Does that concern you, or do you believe it's all Zionist propaganda and the goal of Hamas is nothing more than to import greater quantities of marshmallows for Kumbaya campfires?

Here's what else I don't get.

You conveniently place all the blame for Gaza's current situation on Israel's shoulders. It's as if Israel never left in 2005, uprooting every last soldier and settler, while making clear that Jerusalem had no territorial interest in Gaza and giving local residents their first chance in history to govern themselves.

Don't you infantilize Gaza by refusing to hold Hamas and those who voted for it responsible for what's happening? Are there no consequences for their decision to bring to power a group that both the United States and the European Union have declared a terrorist organization?

Isn't it in Israel's interests - assuming you allow for Israel to exist and have national interests - to see a peaceful, prosperous Gaza emerge on its border rather than a failed mini-state that serves as a magnet for missile-firing, religiously-inspired zealots?

And finally, if your heart is bursting with compassion for the region's downtrodden, why are you so transparently selective? Why does Gaza alone make the cut?

While in the vicinity, why not direct the flotilla to pay a port call in Egypt and declare your solidarity with the Coptic Christian community, which is being targeted with waves of violence, resulting in fatalities and burned churches?

And then why not hop across the eastern Mediterranean to the Syrian coast and unfurl banners declaring support for those peacefully protesting President Assad's despotic rule?

Why not visit the families of the nearly one thousand people reported gunned down in recent weeks by Syrian forces and express your condolences?

And why not try to see the thousands arrested and languishing in Syrian prisons, while demanding that they be given basic rights and access by groups like your own?

Otherwise, questions are inevitably raised about your motivation and intent.

After all, doesn't it speak volumes if the only flotilla you deem worth joining is headed for Gaza, where the publicly declared goal of the regime in power is "to fight the Jews and kill them" and "obliterate" Israel?

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