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"If we showed flexibility on these issues the peace agreement would have been signed a long time ago." — Palestinian Authority chair Mahmoud Abbas, October 15, 2010, explaining that it was his own intransigence on the core issues that was keeping the conflict alive.

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Free Gaza - From Its Arab Oppressors

Alan H. Stein, Ph.D.

The late Israeli prime minister Golda Meir reportedly observed that peace would come when Israel's Arab enemies started loving their children more than they hated Israel. The carefully orchestrated confrontation of the so-called "Gaza flotilla" with the Israeli navy is evidence that day is nowhere on the horizon.

While the "Free Gaza" movement's propaganda machine has tried to convince the world there's a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, spokeswoman Greta Berlin admitted in Cyprus "We're not trying to be a humanitarian mission."

Were the leaders of "Free Gaza" actually interested in the welfare of the Palestinian Arabs living in Gaza, they would be directing their efforts at ending the ethnic cleansing of the Christian community and the repression of women in Gaza.

If they were interested in humanity, they would be fighting rather than embracing Hamas, an organization whose charter envisions "the time[promised by Allah which] will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!"

In 2005, Israel gave Gaza to the Palestinian Arabs, lock, stock and barrel. Israel also made arrangement for monitors from the European Union to oversee trade between Gaza and its neighbors, Egypt and Israel.

With an ideal location on the Mediterranean Sea, the Palestinian Arabs, de facto, had a state of their own and a golden opportunity to turn it into a paradise.

Instead, the Arabs in Gaza destroyed that infrastructure, including modern greenhouses donated by Jewish philanthropists, and launched thousands of Kassam rockets at Sderot and other nearby Israeli cities and towns.

In 2007, Hamas staged a coup and threw Fatah (itself still dedicated to the destruction of Israel) out of Gaza. At that time, the monitors from the European Union fled for their lives, effectively shutting down normal trade between Gaza and the outside world.

Amazingly, even while under attack, Israel has made sure there was no humanitarian crisis, transferring massive amounts of assistance to the very people launching the Kassams. Israel transfers between 15,000 and 20,000 tons of goods to Gaza in a typical week, far more than were carried by the "Free Gaza" flotilla. Cynically, Hamas terrorists repeatedly target the crossings though which the goods are brought. They've even tried to destroy the power plant in Ashkelon which supplies much of Gaza's electricity.

Back to the flotilla. On the ships, the crowd chanted "Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammed will return."

Israel offered to offload the cargo and transfer any non-military goods to Gaza; "Free Gaza" refused.

Noam Shalit asked "Free Gaza" to bring packages to his son Gilad, kidnapped four years ago and held captive by Hamas, which refuses even to allow visits by the Red Cross; "Free Gaza" refused.

The Israeli navy requested the ships dock at Ashdod, from where the goods would be transferred to Gaza; "Free Gaza" refused.

"Free Gaza" didn't want to supply the people in Gaza with needed goods; it wanted a confrontation with Israel. While Israeli naval and security officers peacefully rerouted five of the flotilla's six ships to Ashdod, the "Free Gaza" leaders were carefully planning a violent attack on those boarding the lead boat, the Mavi Marmara.

The Israelis had planned to use nothing more than paintball rifles, but when attacked with knives, clubs and gunfire they eventually had to defend themselves.

This incident should be considered in the context of the larger Palestinian Arab-Israel conflict, which itself is actually just a part of and a consequence of the broader Arab/Muslim-Israeli conflict.

Just as the "Free Gaza" leaders spurned cooperation with Israel, Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, summarily rejected an Israeli offer to establish a Palestinian Arab state on the equivalent of 100 percent of the disputed territory and has adamantly refused to even negotiate with the Israeli prime minister.

He is also the leader of Fatah, an organization whose charter includes the "complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence" among its goals.

Yet Abbas is almost universally mischaracterized as being a "moderate!"

And just as Israel tried to avoid confrontation with the "Free Gaza" flotilla, its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been virtually begging to negotiate with Abbas, has accepted the principle of another Palestinian Arab state (the Arab state of Jordan already comprises about 77 percent of the territory of the Palestinian Mandate), and has even frozen construction in Jewish communities in the disputed territories.

Yet Netanyahu is almost always referred to as "hard-line!"

For many years, the world community has rewarded the rejectionism and provocations of the Palestinian Arabs while punishing Israel even as it has made one unreciprocated concession after another. This has been a negative sum game and the bloody incident planned by the "Free Gaza" leaders is just one of its consequences.

If we really want an Arab-Israeli peace, the world needs to change this encouragement of Arab intransigence.

Alan Stein is a retired professor of mathematics at the University of Connecticut and the president of PRIMER-Connecticut, a media monitoring organization devoted to Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting. He may be contacted at alan.stein@primerct.org.

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