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But make no mistake: Israel only sought to enforce its Gaza blockade.
BOSTON — "Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal." – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Nine dead, seven Israeli soldiers and 30 passengers of the Mavi Marmara seriously injured. For those of us — Israelis, Palestinians, Turks, Americans, et al. — who agree that the methods through which we reach peace determine the ultimate durability of that peace, Monday's events were doubly tragic: unprovoked attacks launched under the guise of a humanitarian mission could imperil both the prospects for peace, as well as its eventual sustainability. For every time force is chosen over dialogue, arms over words, the seeds of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict grow, and the task of undoing their damage is threatened.
Indeed, when you embark on a journey intent upon breaking a legal blockade by force — as is now abundantly clear was the case with the Marvi Marmara commanders — you become an obstacle to peace not a seeker of it.
When you are in a flotilla, sponsored by an NGO — IHH — that has close ties to Al Qaeda, and has helped plan and finance numerous terror attacks (as documented in the Danish Institute for International Studies' report: "The Role of Islamic Charities in International Terrorist Recruitment and Terrorism") you are impelled not by a humanitarian mission, but by a death wish.
When you refuse to agree to dock in the port of Ashdod and peacefully unload your supplies for inspection and transfer into Gaza, you do not have the best interests of Gaza's poor in mind, but those of the Hamas terrorists that rule over them.
And when you assault Israeli soldiers with knives and metal pipes, instead of choosing any of the non-violent options they've proposed, it is not the good of humanity, but either publicity for your jaded mission or martyrdom that motivates you. (According to a translation provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute, one passenger told Al Jazeera before leaving: "We are now waiting for one of two good things — either to achieve martyrdom or to reach Gaza.")
Of course, even if there was no peace process at stake, even if the relative stability of one of the world's most vital regions did not hang in the balance, Monday's deaths would be tragic and heartbreaking. For in the democratic community, of which Israel is a member, human loss and suffering are never met with parades (as has been the case in Gaza, most memorably following 9/11).
But make no mistake: This was not an assault or coldblooded attack by the Israel Defense Forces, but rather a manifestation of Israel's legal enforcement of its Gaza blockade.