If you want to win lots of international awards and make a name for yourself in the advertising world, there's nothing better than knocking out a quick scam ad. Scam ads are ads designed to be highly provocative, to whip up controversy and to make the authors famous. The problem is, they are also fakes.
Trendy inner city lefties and Greens have now cottoned on to the 'scam ad' trick. Deprived of anything serious to protest about, a trio of frustrated "peace" activists have come up with a brilliant scam ad of their own: joining the Freedom Flotilla 2 for Gaza.
Sylvia Hale, a former Greens member of the NSW Parliament, Vivienne Porzsolt of Jews Against the Occupation, and Michael Coleman, a Catholic youth worker - all clearly suffering from relevance deficit syndrome - are heading off to join a ragbag collection of international publicity-seekers bound for Gaza with the aim of... well, we'll come back to that bit in a sec.
Firstly, this intrepid trio enjoyed a celebratory night of poetry, music, film and hip-hop to draw attention to and raise funds for their heroic venture, followed by a tax-payer funded send-off in the Jubilee Room of Parliament House.
With the blessing of David Shoebridge MLC and the NSW Greens, the three individuals will soon be taking their berths on what can only be described as not only a ship of fools, but a flotilla of them.
Their goal? To provoke an utterly futile and pointless confrontation with the Israeli Defense Forces in order to big-note themselves. With any luck (and I say this not from my point of view, but clearly from theirs) somebody might actually get hurt, or even better, killed.
Why? Because this protest has no logical or intellectual underpinnings. It is a scam. It is designed solely for the purpose of attempting to recreate the outrage that occurred when last year's flotilla was intercepted by the Israelis and, in the presence of breathless reporters like Paul McGeough, a firefight was provoked that resulted in the tragic, awful and pointless death of nine activists.
So, hey, let's do it again and see what happens!
But there's one big difference to last year that the scammers have chosen to overlook, which makes the very premise of Flotilla 2 a fraud. Thanks to the Arab Spring, the Egyptian border with Gaza is now wide open. Any and all legal goods can cross freely. In fact, the main organiser of the new flotilla, IHH Head Bulent Yildirim admitted recently to the Turkish daily Hurriyet that "had they told us before our departure last year that they would (have relaxed the embargo) we wouldn't have gone." And he then went on to explain how the "martyrdom" of last year's activists was justification enough for this years flotilla.
If Vivienne, Sylvia and Michael are genuinely interested in providing goods and services (and comfort) to the beleaguered Palestinians in Gaza all they need do is fly to Cairo, hire a combi from Hertz, fill it up with whatever goodies they want and drive in unimpeded through the Rafah Crossing. As many times as they like. Maybe take in a day trip to the pyramids while they're at it.
But no. The purpose of this venture is a dangerous attempt to drum up notoriety for the individuals involved and to pursue the popular Marrickville pastime known as Jew-baiting (sorry, I mean "protesting against Israeli aggression and Zionist expansion.")
Vivienne claims on facebook that she "adores the process of mediation" because "it is SO positive" and "has no time or inclination for paid employment" because she is too "busy with a range of activities mostly connected with peace and justice in Israel Palestine." Really? Well, she's in for a rude shock if she thinks that the goal of the flotilla is "peaceful", "positive" or involves "mediation." Huwaida Arraf, another of the organizers, gave the game away when he said: "If Israel wants to use force against us and kill people like they did last time, then let that be out there for the whole world to see."
This is a dangerously provocative publicity stunt, pure and simple.
The blockade of Gaza by the IDF for the purposes of preventing weapons and munitions being smuggled ashore is, whether we agree with it or not, entirely legitimate under international law. Hamas, who control Gaza, are in a self-declared state of war with their Jewish neighbours, frequently launching rocket attacks across the border. Israel maintains that as soon as there is a credible system of verifying weapons are not coming in by boat the blockade will be lifted. Pretty straightforward, really. And plenty of room there for Vivienne's "positive mediation." But not good enough, clearly, for those who yearn for drama, violence, and possibly death to spice up their political activism.
The awful truth about the Freedom Flotilla 2 is that it's only worthwhile if it makes international headlines, and it will only make headlines if and when people get hurt.
It is laudable that people donate their time and talents in the hope of helping the Palestinians of the Gaza strip. But in this instance they have been duped. The objective of this exercise is confrontation, not mediation. Violence, not peace. Fame for those on board, not freedom for the Palestinians.
It's a scam.