Media reports today have revealed that flotilla activists based in Greece have begun to return to their home countries, exasperated by the mission's failure to launch.
Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot published a piece noting that the spokesperson for the Free Gaza movement admitted that "out of 36 US activists only 15 remained in Greece." Meanwhile, the Norwegian and Swedish flotilla groups have scheduled press conferences today, where they are expected to announce a return to Scandinavia. There are mixed reports on the Canadian activists, with some indications that "most" have headed home, although at least one source has dismissed this as a rumour.
The media itself – the object of the flotilla's desperate focus – has confirmed the utter failure of this expensive publicity stunt. The Globe and Mail's Margaret Wente wrote a scathing column entitled "Ship of Useful Idiots?" – which included the following passage (our emphasis in bold):
I regret to report that this year's Freedom Flotilla to Gaza is a bust. The hardy band of activists – including a couple of dozen Canadians and the novelist Alice Walker – failed to break Israel's brutal blockade and deliver their cargo of humanitarian relief to the suffering Gazans. In fact, they barely made it out of port.
…The Canadians didn't really expect that their effort to run the blockade would succeed. They hoped for something better – martyrdom, perhaps. Maybe there would be a repeat of last year's debacle, when Israeli forces killed nine people on the Mavi Marmara. "We're expecting to be tasered," said Kevin Neish, a white-haired B.C. activist who enjoys volunteering as a human shield. Mary Hughes Thompson, another white-haired activist who co-founded the Free Gaza Movement, was serene. "If anything should happen to me – if I should die – I can't think of a better cause," she told the CBC.
Despite their best efforts, nothing happened. Most of the other boats, including Ms. Walker's, were turned back, too, and the horde of journalists breathlessly covering the lead-up to the voyage were left without a story. So many reporters were packed aboard the Tahrir, it's amazing there was room for relief supplies. These supplies consisted of medicine and medical equipment (which are in acutely short supply) and cement (to rebuild hospitals and schools). If you think cement is a weird thing for a small boat to haul across the ocean, remember, it's the symbolism that counts.
You know you're in trouble when the very media you've attempted to court and manipulate tells you it's a flop.
To read Wente's full column, click here.