In your column for the Daily Telegraph today entitled ‘Why has Israel disarmed itself in the battle for world opinion?’ you make a couple of assertions that I think are, at best, rather questionable.
Firstly, you claim that the Turkish relief organisation, the IHH, which was involved in the aid flotilla ‘was spoiling for a fight: some of those on board spoke of their desire for “martyrdom”.’
If the volunteers on board the various boats really were intent on a military clash with the Israelis do you not think that they have been somewhat better armed than they actually were? After all, just about all the ‘weapons’ that the Israelis could find on board the boats were kitchen knives and some woooden sticks. Do you seriously still believe that the volunteers were looking for a military encounter with the Israelis? As for the expressed desire on the part of some for martyrdom: this is a life-long pious wish for many devout Muslims right across the world. To die in the defence of goodness (eg one’s faith or family or land) is the highest aspiration a Muslim could have. You are, I believe, a practising Catholic. No doubt you will be familiar with Christ’s own declaration that ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’
Secondly, you say that ‘There was no need … for humanitarian aid to travel by these means, since the Israelis were prepared to deliver it themselves, as they regularly deliver aid of their own to Gaza.’
Do you really believe this to be true? Today’s edition of the Guardian reports that the Israelis routinely debar the most basic foodstuffs from being delivered to Gaza in order to deliberately wreck the Gazan economy and cripple small businesses. A large percentage of the Palestinian population now rely on handouts from UN agencies just to survive. You often write in support of Israel. Might it not be an idea to perhaps visit Gaza and see for yourself whether the Gazan population are being treated so generously by Israel as you seem to think?
Finally, your article made no mention of the fact that Israel continues to occupy Palestinian territories despite numerous UN resolutions requiring it to withdraw and that Israel continues to build illegal Jewish settlements in occupied territory. Do you not agree that Israel’s friends should be urging it to obey international law and stop acting as an outlaw state?
For the record, I do support a two-state solution in Israel-Palestine in line with the King Abdullah plan.