Gaza’s wrong-way pier

by Mitchell Bard

The Palestinians should be demanding ships out of the Strip. What an excellent propaganda opportunity to promote their sense of victimhood.

(JNS) As I wrote in a prior column, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza can be blamed first and foremost on Hamas, but secondarily on the Biden administration. If Biden had insisted anytime from Oct. 8 to today that Egypt allow Palestinian residents of Gaza to relocate to Sinai temporarily, the tragedy could have been averted. Camps could have been set up far from danger to supply all their needs. Instead, the international community has inefficiently tried to bring aid in by land, sea and air, only to see much of it lost, stolen and hijacked by Hamas. Now, instead of using a pier to bring supplies into Gaza that will put Americans and aid workers at risk while making a minimal difference in the suffering of Palestinians, it should be used to transport Gazans onto ships to leave the war zone.

Of course, it’s not going to happen. Biden and Hamas share the intent to keep the civilians right where they are. Still, it would be an interesting test of the world’s genuine concern for the Palestinians. Up till now, none of the countries in the Arab world or Europe that are so anguished about their plight has offered Palestinians refuge.

Jordan’s Queen Rania has been on a rant lately, accusing Israel of using settlements as human shields, making excuses for Hamas and criticizing U.S. policy. It was laughable when she said Israelis are taught that Palestinians are just a security threat, considering it was the Palestinians in 1970 who tried to overthrow the Hashemite monarchy that she is a part of. And it was Israel that was prepared to save the king. The last thing King Abdullah wants is more Palestinians to add to the majority that already live there. Jordan, which was carved out of roughly three-fourths of historic Palestine, logically should be the Palestinian state. A journalist should ask the queen how many Gazans Jordan would accept.

Speaking of disdain for the Palestinians, an interesting interview with former U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker was published in Politico. One of the most experienced and knowledgeable diplomats, Crocker debunked the nonsense coming out of the U.S. State Department about Arab leaders’ concern for the Palestinians and interest in seeing them get a state, Crocker said that most Arab states view the Palestinians with “fear and loathing.”

He said this was particularly true of Egypt, which explains why President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is determined to prevent any Gazans (except those willing to pay thousands of dollars in bribes) from entering Egypt. As with Biden’s position, it is astonishing that all the aid workers and others crying crocodile tears over the plight of the Gazans have said nothing as Egypt erects barriers and a miles-wide buffer zone to ensure that no Palestinians can escape from Rafah to Egypt. Biden has been pressuring Israel to delay its conquest of Rafah until the civilians are evacuated. They could walk a short distance to find refuge in Egypt instead of a circuitous route to an uncertain future beyond the battlefield where they have no guarantee of safety from Hamas or assistance from aid groups.

Crocker also noted that the Saudis have not stopped discussions about normalizing relations with Israel, and the signatories to the Abraham Accords have not broken off relations. The reaction, he said, was “very telling.” He added, “If you needed another example that Arab states are not viscerally concerned about the Palestinians and their fate, this would be it.”

Unlike the Arabists like U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who keep lying to us about the degree of support for a Palestinian state that even Palestinians admit they don’t want, Crocker lays out the inconvenient truth, “The last thing the Arab states, particularly those around Palestine and Israel wanted to see was an independent Palestinian movement, let alone a state.”

If only such honesty could penetrate the thick skulls of the Hamas sympathizers, social justice warriors and faculty enablers camping out on our campuses. What a rude awakening it would be for them to realize they care far more for the Palestinians, at least rhetorically, than do Arabs in the region.

If protesters are not just anti-Semites in keffiyehs and care about the Palestinians, why don’t they have anything to say about their treatment in Syria and Lebanon? Unlike the media, which sees history as beginning when reporters arrive in the region, Crocker remembers how Lebanese forces destroyed a Palestinian refugee camp at the beginning of Lebanon’s civil war and, roughly a decade later, Lebanese Shia, backed by Syria and Iran, spent six years besieging refugee camps. How many protesters do you think have heard of that “War of the Camps,” in which thousands of Palestinians were murdered by their Arab and Muslim brethren?

Iran may be supporting Hamas for the moment as a way of indirectly attacking Israel, but Crocker assures us that “there is no love in Tehran on the part of Ayatollahs for the Palestinians or their cause.” Most Palestinians are Sunni Muslims, whom the Shia Ayatollahs despise.

Crocker also recalled an incident Queen Rania may be unaware of in which two terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine assassinated a Jordanian prime minister, and one drank the victim’s blood.

When Israel surrounded Beirut in 1982—and another American president stopped its advance—a deal was made to allow PLO chief Yasser Arafat and some of his henchmen to escape to another country (some have proposed a similar arrangement for Hamas’s leaders). Crocker was involved in the negotiations over their destination and relates that “nobody wanted them.” The Syrians, he said, accepted none of them, and no one bothered to ask the Jordanians.  

Now, the administration is reportedly considering allowing some Gazans into the United States, an idea that Republicans oppose. While charitable, the gesture would only affect a handful of lives. It might win a few votes back from Arab Americans but would likely lose more support than he’d gain because of his unpopularity over his handling of the border with Mexico. While some would see the Palestinians as innocents seeking asylum, others would be upset that Biden would import immigrants who supported a terrorist regime.

The Palestinians should be demanding ships out of Gaza. What an excellent propaganda opportunity to promote their sense of victimhood further. Imagine pitiful Gaza refugees on a ship looking like the Holocaust survivors on the Exodus sailing from port to port, prevented from landing by the governments now caterwauling about the dire conditions in Gaza. The last thing Europeans want is more Muslims, especially radicalized ones, whom their citizens already see as threats to their civilization.

How many countries would emulate President Franklin Roosevelt’s treatment of the St. Louis and force the ship to return to the war zone? Presumably, Biden would behave differently in the vain hope of satisfying progressive Democrats. Like Hamas, however, protesters will only be content with Israel’s disappearance.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians could have their own “Voyage of the Damned” story to tell and retell as another nakba. Hamas should make shipping Gazans out one of its demands to make them suffer, attract more media attention, gain sympathy for the Palestinian cause and statehood, and give critics another excuse to demonize Israel.

And to think the thousands of Palestinians who have died could have been saved if Egypt had just opened its gate. Even now, their survival could be guaranteed if they were allowed to leave rather than being forced to wait for the delivery of morsels across a pier that leads them nowhere.

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