Of all of the sad, tawdry features of the Gaza flotilla incident, surely none is sadder or tawdrier than the immediate assumption, leapt upon by so many people of good intentions, that the Israeli state is in the business of killing unarmed civilians for the pure sadistic pleasure of it. This view of Israel as a kind of devil-state, the spirit of evil made incarnate in the world, has been around in educated opinion since at least the late 1960s, when it buttressed enthusiasm for the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Since the PLO and its more militant siblings (Black September, Carlos the Jackal, the Entebbe hijackers) were not easy folks to like, it followed that Israel's motivations had to be made even blacker. Two generations of militants taught themselves that intoxicating Manichean logic, according to which the blacker one paints one's spiritual enemy, the more sheer awfulness one can tolerate in one's friends.
Of all of the signs of the moral decomposition of the progressive intelligentsia in my lifetime, none is more depressing or more shameful than the furtive, dishonest embrace of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood's terrorist arm, by thousands of otherwise intelligent, thoughtful people who probably imagine themselves as friends of civilization and basic human decency.