By Edward Zelinsky
Nicholas Sarkozy, the president of France, has condemned as “disproportionate” Israel’s response to the flotilla bringing cargo to Gaza. Gaza today is controlled by Hamas, a terrorist organization which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and which has repeatedly launched attacks on Israel and its civilian population. Israel had told the flotilla’s organizers to bring their goods to the Israeli port of Ashdod for inspection, with all civilian goods to be trucked subsequently from Ashdod to Gaza. The Israeli offer was rejected.
Mr. Sarkozy’s criticism of Israel raises an interesting analogy: Suppose that Monaco were controlled by a violent terrorist organization like Hamas, committed to the destruction of France. This terrorist organization, when it has the means, routinely lobs missiles at French civilians over the French-Monaco border. Would France passively accept this situation? Not likely.
Most probably, France would invade Monaco to destroy the threat to its civilian population. Alternatively, France would blockade Monaco by land and by sea, making sure that weapons and other supplies with military uses do not enter Monaco.
Suppose further that a flotilla were organized to break the French blockade of Monaco. France, concerned about military supplies being part of the cargo, would order its navy to intercept this flotilla. France would perhaps tell the organizers of the flotilla to bring their supplies to Marseille where these supplies could be inspected so that, after such inspection, civilian goods could be transported into Monaco.
Suppose that the organizers of the flotilla rejected this offer and instead proceeded to Monaco. Is there any doubt what, under these circumstances, the French response would be?
Finally, suppose that the President of Israel condemned this French response as “disproportionate.” Mr. Sarkozy’s likely retort: France has the moral and legal right to protect its citizens and its territory. Any violence which results is the responsibility of the flotilla’s organizers who rejected the French offer of inspection and transportation for civilian goods.
Mr. Sarkozy would be right.
Edward A. Zelinsky is the Morris and Annie Trachman Professor of Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University. He is the author of The Origins of the Ownership Society: How The Defined Contribution Paradigm Changed America.