28 July 2008 - The brave blockade runners
"Now, therefore, I...have further deemed it advisable to set on foot a blockade of the ports.... For this purpose a competent force will be posted so as to prevent entrance and exit of vessels from the ports aforesaid. If, therefore, with a view to violate such blockade, a vessel shall approach, or shall attempt to leave either of the said ports, she will be duly warned by the Commander of one of the blockading vessels, who will endorse on her register the fact and date of such warning, and if the same vessel shall again attempt to enter or leave the blockaded port, she will be captured and sent to the nearest convenient port, for such proceedings against her and her cargo as prize, as may be deemed advisable."
No, the above is not the military order from the Israel Defence Force authorizing a blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza.
It is the order given by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln to blockade the Confederate states after the slave states seceded and began the Civil War.
The European trading partners of the slave states then set about building ships that could run the blockade in order to keep the Confederacy alive.
Today, a handful of Europeans are determined to run through Israeli defenses around Gaza to "break the siege."
Of course, the cordon around Gaza could be shattered by Hamas itself, if it simply accepted Israel's right to exist, stopped terror attacks against Israeli citizens and so on.
But our activists are having none of that--nor, apparently, do they care about the whereabouts or well-being of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, whose capture and captivity are both in violation of international law.
Just like the European blockade runners of yesteryear, who were willing to overlook the moral sin of slavery in order to aid America's enemies, these solidarity pirates are willing to damage the cause of peace in an attempt to embarrass Israel.
Israel is reportedly mulling its options. Attacking the vessel would not look good. On the other hand, allowing it to reach Gaza--while denying the pirates their PR victory--would encourage similar efforts and eventually force a confrontation anyway.
The best option may be to follow old Abe's advice--warn, then capture. Don't arrest the activists, unless they use violence - but let them find their own way home, sans boat.