"Chicks up front." That line from 1960s campus radicals reflects one of the oldest gambits in the revolutionaries' handbook. The concept: Put in the front lines those whose suffering will produce the greatest propaganda harvest-women, children, the handicapped, humanitarians.
Palestinians trying to overthrow Israel amply use this tactic. Is a child shot, perhaps by Israeli soldiers, perhaps by Palestinians? Great: Broadcast it to the world and blame Israel. Are poorly armed "pacifists"-only knives and metal rods-killed by bullets as they attempt to break Israel's blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza? Great: a propaganda windfall.
This is the story behind the new stories we can expect in late June and July as more Islamist flotillas try to demolish Israel's attempts to keep weapons out of the hands of Gaza terrorists. Yes, Israel now has a committee charged with seeing what went wrong in its fatal response to flotilla No. 1, and Turkey has set up its own committee, but by the time a report emerges it will probably be competing with new headlines about new "innocent victims."
The anti-Israel press regularly gives us only half the story. We hear repeatedly, "If Israelis were more reasonable, peace would come." True, but a second clause is missing: Yes, peace would come, because Israel would no longer exist. We hear repeatedly that "People in Gaza (including Christians) are hurting. Israel has Gaza in a vise." True, but let's add a clause: Israel has Gaza in a vise because Hamas, which rules Gaza, has vowed to destroy Israel.
WORLD has consistently supported Israel's right to exist while also reporting sympathetically on the plight of Palestinians in Gaza, most recently in our May 8 issue. Easing their plight, as long as Hamas uses the small district as a hive for killer bees, is difficult. Even the normally level-headed The Economist comes unglued over this: It proposes "to ask the UN to oversee the flow of goods and people going in and out of Gaza." The UN, which condemns Israel at the drop of a pamphlet?
Nor have liberal groups like the National Council of Churches come up with any workable suggestions. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Episcopalians' presiding bishop, is specific when it comes to ordaining homosexual clergy but vague on peace in the Middle East: "There are far better ways to protect Israel's security and promote moderate political leadership in Gaza than a blockade." Let's hope so: Please name one or two.
In 2006 even Kofi Annan, then the UN's secretary general, saw through the "chicks up front" strategy. He conceded that Hezbollah was firing rockets at Israel from positions "located in the midst of the civilian population." The same procedure was evident in Gaza and is evident in the employment of purported pacifists in the flotilla's attempts to end the blockade.
The Israelis, always under pressure, are now letting more materials into Gaza, including 70 truckloads of cargo seized from the first Turkish flotilla. They should have clearly defined standards and avoid any appearance of harassment. But let's not think that they can bring peace by moderating their position. Only Hamas and other terrorists can, by recognizing Israel's right to exist.
The Nazis said they would bring about peace by killing six million Jews. Iranian leaders and their allies are now saying the same. The real solution is for Hamas and others to accept the two-state proposal that's offered. With man, that seems impossible. With God, who over the past decade brought about the conversion to Christ of Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of a major Hamas leader, nothing is impossible. Let us pray.