Opinion piece by
David Cumin and Juliet Moses who are members of the New Zealand Jewish Council
Paul Moon is Professor of History at Auckland University of Technology
The sovereign integrity of states is one of those building blocks on which the modern world operates.
It is a guiding tenet of international law, and one of the founding principles of the United Nations.
In the case of Israel’s protection of the waters on the southern end of its country, these principles are confirmed by the Oslo Accords and more recently by the UN Security Council.
So when a New Zealand politician openly and unashamedly decides to violate international law and another country’s sovereignty for the sake of a media stunt, that act will inevitably reflect poorly on that politician, the party they represent, and sadly, even on our Parliament.
What made matters worse in this case was that the politician concerned – Green MP Marama Davidson – participated in a breach of Israel’s sovereignty for no apparent purpose. When the protest ended more mundanely than expected, she was forced to resort to melodramatic language to dramatise events.
Ms Davidson described the Israeli Navy’s female crew taking her and the other activists to safety as a “kidnap,” and herself as a “hostage.” Both terms are wildly inaccurate, and seem designed more to achieve provocation than reconciliation.
Women do suffer in Gaza, at the hands of the governing power Hamas, an Islamist organisation.
But Hamas’ honour killings, persecution of gays, genocidal charter, and state-sanctioned misogyny do not rate a mention by these activists on the “women’s peace boat”.
Nor does Egypt’s stricter blockade of Gaza.
The “peace activists” include a woman who created a video game that encourages kids to shoot as many Israelis as they can and another who accused Israel of orchestrating the recent terrorist attacks in Munich and Nice. Are these aligned with Green party or Kiwi values?
What about the impact of such stunts? Apart from the attention-seeking achieved for the individuals involved, the flotilla is unlikely to contribute anything at all for the Palestinians.
There was no aid on board. It may have even exacerbated the complex political dynamics between Fatah and Hamas, contributing to the delay in the Palestinians building a democratic state with liberal values and civic society institutions.
And the final irony to this embarrassing episode is that while the Israeli Defence Forces were taking these anti-Israeli protesters to safety, Palestinians in Gaza launched a rocket attack against Israeli civilians.