Guardian caves to anti-Israel bigots, revises SodaStream article to please Ben White

Yesterday, CiF Watch prompted a correction to a false claim by Guardian Middle East editor Ian Black that the SodaStream main office was located in Ma’ale Adumim, when in fact that industrial park in greater Ma’ale Adumim (known as Mishor Adumim) is simply the location of one of their 20 factories. Their headquarters, as we noted, is in Lod, near Ben Gurion Airport.  (CiF Watch prompted a previous correction to the same error, by another Guardian contributor, in Oct.)

However, upon reviewing the language of the correction we prompted on the Guardian’s Correction page, we noticed an additional editor’s note relating to another SodaStream related story:

correction

According to (occasional) ‘Comment is Free’ contributor Ben White, per his following post at Electronic Intifada, he was the activist who prompted the revision:

Responding to my correspondence, The Guardian’s Readers’ Editor has amended an article written last week by Matthew Kalman.

Kalman’s article reported on the controversy over Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson ditching her role as humanitarian ambassador for the charity Oxfam, which objected to her endorsement deal with SodaStream, an Israeli company with a factory in a settlement in the occupied West Bank.

The piece, “Oxfam under pressure to cut ties with Scarlett Johansson over SodaStream ad,” now appears with the following appended text:

“In a sub-heading and in the body of the text campaigners seeking to pressure Oxfam to sever ties with Scarlett Johansson were described as “anti-Israel.” To clarify: the campaigners are opposed to settlements”

Remarkably, the Guardian Readers’ Editor upheld the objections to Kalman’s original characterization of the anti-SodaStream activists as “anti-Israel”, and bought the argument that they are only opposed to ‘the settlements’.  

To give you a sense of how extraordinarily misleading such a benign characterization is, here’s a brief summary of the ideological background of some of the more prominent BDS activists and groups involved in the anti-SodaStream campaign:

Ben White: White, who evidently prompted the Guardian correction and is one of the most vocal activists campaigning against SodaStream, opposes the existence of a Jewish State within any borders, and is even on record expressing sympathy towards anti-Semites:

Ali Abunimah: Abunimah is the co-founder of Electronic Intifada, has expressed sympathy towards Hamas, rejects Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State within any borders, has likened Zionism with Nazism and has explicitly called for the start of a 3rd deadly Palestinian intifada.

Here are additional anti-SodaStream campaigners – that is, those who would prefer that 500 Palestinians workers get laid-off, rather than there be any Jewish presence at all across the green line:

Palestinian BDS National Committee, a radical movement which opposes all forms of normalization between Palestinians and Israelis, and supports the unlimited ‘right of return’ for Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants, a tactic designed to erase Israel’s Jewish identity.  

Palestine Solidarity Campaign: a marginal, radical movement based in the UK, which supports the cultural, academic and economic boycott against Israel, and opposes the existence of a Jewish State within any borders. Further, PSC members have taken  part in convoysflotillasflytillas, and various demonstrations and events organized by supporters and members of terrorist organisations. 

Code Pink: A radical left group whichworks with the pro-Hamas Free Gaza Movement, and signed the so-called Cairo Declaration to End Israeli Apartheid, a document which opposes Zionism and calls for the unlimited right of return for millions of Palestinian ‘refugees’. (See this clip of Hamas welcoming a Code Pink delegation to Gaza in 2009)

To recap: Most of the activists aligned against SodaStream have either expressed sympathy or outright support for Islamist terror groups, support the boycott and complete isolation of Israel, oppose any cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians, and reject the very right of Israel to exist as a Jewish State. 

Only in the mind of Guardian editors would such hateful views – some which are indistinguishable from the ideologies of violent extremist groups – not qualify as “anti-Israel”.

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Guardian whitewashes Nathan Filer’s support for pro-terror group, ISM

We haven’t read ‘The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer, and can’t comment on the artistic merits of the book which recently won the Costa Book of the Year award.  However, we can speak about the Guardian’s report on the award, and the author’s curious understanding of the words “peace” and “human rights”.

The Guardian’s story, Costa winner Nathan Filer: ‘This is huge, isn’t it?’, by Guardian features writer , begins thus:

This has been one of the most eventful weeks so far in an already eventful life for Nathan Filer. On Saturday, it was his wedding – the culmination of a journey that began in spring 2012, with an unexpected proposal to his partner Emily while they were being held in an Israeli detention centre. Then on Tuesday he won the Costa Book of the Year award for his first novel, The Shock of the Fall, a trip to the podium that began in 2002, when he was training to be a mental health nurse.

Why was Filer held in an Israeli detention center?  Cochrane gives us a bit of background:

In 2009, having worked on The Shock of the Fall for seven years, he decided to study for a creative writing MA, making the novel his priority. That same year he met his partner Emily, who also works in mental health, and her interest in human rights led to them volunteering in Palestine. In 2011, the pair travelled to Hebron, working with the International Solidarity Movement. They taught English at a university, and offered what support they could to people whose houses had been demolished: they filmed one man in this situation, and put his story online. “It’s about raising awareness,” says Filer. “We would go to protests, to be there and observe. If international people are there, it’s less likely the Israeli military will use heavy-handed tactics, so we were there to try to make things more peaceful, really.”

(Indeed, on his blog, Filer freely writes that “(ISM) does important work in Palestine. I’ve volunteered with them…”.)

Cochrane then directly touches on the detention:

He says he loved being in Palestine and, about six months later, he and Emily travelled there to volunteer again. This time though, as soon as they arrived at the airport in Tel Aviv, they were taken into a side room and questioned, before being driven to a holding facility, to await deportation on the next plane home – their passport details had been taken by the Israeli military during a peaceful protest on their previous visit. Filer didn’t feel he was in danger, but says he was furious, “because we knew that the work we were doing was perfectly legal. We didn’t break any Israeli laws, we’re pro-human rights, peaceful people.”

The casual Guardian reader would be forgiven – after reading the passage – for believing that ISM was a peaceful organization.  

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

ISM members pose with Palestinian terrorists

Though ISM describes itself as “a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action” their activities have included “serving as human shields for terrorist operatives wanted by the Israeli security forces” and providing the Palestinian terrorist operatives and their families “with financial, logistic and moral support”.  They have even reportedly “embraced Palestinian suicide bombers as freedom fighters” 

Here’s more info on ISM from The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center and NGO Monitor:

  • ISM rejects the existence of Israel as a national homeland for the Jews. 
  • ISM has been responsible for endangering the safety of many foreign nationals, including Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall. Both were killed while participating in ISM activities. In response to Corrie’s death, ISM co-founder Thom Saffold said, “we’re like a peace army. Generals send young men and women off to operations, and some die.”
  • In a 2002 article, ISM co-founders Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf wrote, “The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics, both non-violent and violent…In actuality, nonviolence is not enough…Yes, people will get killed and injured,” but these deaths are “no less noble than carrying out a suicide operation. And we are certain that if these men were killed during such an action, they would be considered shaheed Allah.”
  • In 2003 ISM activist Susan Barclay said in an interview that she “knowingly worked with representatives from Hamas and Islamic Jihad…” 
  • In 2003, ISM activist Ewa Jasiewicz wrote about a shooting attack against Israeli civilians: “Lawd – S-T-R-A-T-E-G-Y, I understand its about attacking civilian life the way civilian life has been crushed and continually denied under the occupation and showing Israelis that they are not safe… from the indefatigable Palestinian resistance etc…But that mesage (sic) has been got loud and clear. I don’t get why activists can’t go and do the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) or something, or do a sophisticated politician bump-off…”
  • In a 2003 interview on the ISM-London website, Saif Abu Keshek, ISM’s Nablus coordinator at the time, said: “we recognise the right of the Palestinians to choose their way of resistance. To join our way of resistance or to choose armed struggle.”
  • In March 2003, senior Islamic Jihad terrorist Shadi Sukiya was arrested while he was hiding in ISM’s Jenin office and being assisted by two ISM activists.
  • In 2003, terrorists originating from the UK attacked the Mike’s Place bar in Tel Aviv, murdering three people. An official Israeli report showed how the terrorists covered their tracks “by forging links with foreign left-wing activists and members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).” According to this report, “ISM members take an active part in illegal and violent actions against IDF soldiers. At times, their activity….is under the auspices of Palestinian terrorist organizations.”
  • After the second intifada senior ISM activists moved their operations to Gaza where Hamas was gaining a foothold before its violent takeover in 2007. Four senior American ISM activists were key in founding an international pro-Hamas umbrella organization called the Free Gaza Movement, which strives to strengthen the Hamas administration in the Palestinian territory.
  • In 2008, ISM member Richard David Hupper was convicted by a U.S. federal jury for materially aiding Hamas, “giving about $20,000 to Hamas while working in Israel with the International Solidarity Movement.”

Yet, in an over 1700 word story, the Guardian journalist never once mentions ISM’s terror-supporting activities nor noted the seeming contradiction of Filer’s alleged support for “peace” and “human rights” with his active participation with a group which aids and abets antisemitic extremists who intentionally murder innocent Israelis. 

Indeed, one of the biggest scandals of the Guardian’s coverage of Israel and the Palestinians is the dishonest manner in which they frame the debate – the way they automatically impute good will and progressivism to nearly anyone claiming to advocate on behalf of Palestinians, even those compromised by their support for violence against innocent civilians.  Such moral blind spots regarding the human rights of Israelis continue to define the ideological territory occupied by the Guardian Left.

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Guardian mourns Eyad Sarraj, a Palestinian who once asked: Are Jews evil by nature?

What exactly does it take to disqualify a Palestinian from being canonized as a liberal human rights activist by the Guardian Left?  This question came to mind when reading a Guardian obituary for Eyad Sarraj, who died recently at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem where he was being treated for cancer.  

obitThe obit was written by the Guardian’s former associate foreign editor Victoria Brittain, a Palestine Solidarity Campaign patron who recently penned a spirited defense at ‘Comment is Free’ of radical Islamist preacher (and suspected  al-Qaeda operative) Abu Qatada.

Brittain begins by acknowledging the personal nature of her relationship with Sarraj:

My friend and mentor Eyad Sarraj, who has died aged 69 after suffering from multiple myeloma, was not only Gaza’s first and most distinguished psychiatrist, but also a tireless chronicler of pain and resilience in that tiny, crowded territory under occupation and Israeli firepower.

Brittain then engages in a bit of historical white washing:

Eyad [Sarraj] was born in Palestine under the British mandate, in Bir al-Saba, which became Beersheva after the establishment of Israel…Returning to Gaza, he lived through the violence of the Israeli military against the youthful defiance of the first intifada in 1988, which left a new generation traumatised

Of course, the intifada Brittain alludes to – which raged between 1987 and 1993 – included hundreds of terror attacks by Palestinians using weapons such as Molotov cocktails, hand grenades and assault rifles.  Two hundred Israelis were killed, thousands injured, and countless more “traumatised” by such acts of “youthful defiance”.

Brittain adds the following:

In 1990, he founded the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme [GCMHP] and built a team of 40 specialists, many of them with the experience of Israeli prisons’ torture and forced collaborations. Every suffering family’s door was open to the GCMHP, which became a key part of Gaza’s ability to function against all the odds.

However, as head of GCMHP Sarraj cynically exploited his ‘expertise’ to “psychoanalyze” Israeli villainy, a record of demonizing rhetoric which included his allegation that “inside Israel there is an identification with the aggressor, the Nazi.”

Brittain then concludes her beatification:

He was a father figure in Gaza – foreign delegations always wanted to call on him, friends phoned him from around the world to get Gaza’s news, especially when it was bad. The texture of his life was in the assassinations, bombed homes, arrested fathers, attempted suicide bombings, and their consequences of trauma and dysfunction in GCMHP’s everyday work. His private strength was buttressed with quiet early morning walks on the beach, where he was greeted by fishermen and children going to school, and with evening talks with friends in his book-lined home.

From 2002 the occasional sharing of these walks and times with Eyad in Gaza, or in London, always meant new understanding and a renewal of optimism that against all odds Gaza’s exceptional people could transform the grimmest of times.

Eyad [Sarraj] received many honours including, in 1997, the Physicians for Human Rights award, and, in 1998, the Martin Ennals award for human rights defenders. In 2010, he won the Olof Palme prize for his self-sacrificing struggle for the Palestinian people. He was a key witness to the Goldstone report on Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09.

However, in addition to the fact that Sarraj was on the Gaza Advisory Council of the international “pro-Hamas umbrella organization” called the Free Gaza Movement, there’s one especially relevant piece of history Brittain left out which would seem quite relevant in assessing his overall moral legacy.

In an interview with Tikkun in 2003, Sarraj said:

I’ve asked myself: ‘Are they evil by nature, these Jews? Or are they stupid, born mentally subnormal? Why are they doing this?’ It’s unbelievable. And I found after long, long thinking about it that they are not born evil. And they are not stupid. They are psycho-pathologically disturbed.”

As we’ve argued in previous posts, the most egregious problem at the Guardian is not explicitly Judeophobic commentary, but, rather, the moral cover the media group’s contributors often provide for Palestinians with well-documented records of engaging in anti-Jewish racism.

Victoria Brittain’s Guardian obituary for the Palestinian ‘activist’ represents yet another example of their ubiquitous antisemitic sins of omission. 

Free Gaza tweets for terror and a world without Zionism

Cross posted by Petra Marquardt-Bigman at Warped Mirror

The still ongoing controversy about Free Gaza’s propagation of antisemitic material has revealed the for me somewhat surprising fact that apparently quite a few of the group’s supporters seem to believe that Free Gaza is somehow dedicated to promoting peace and coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians.

That is plainly not the case.

One of the most recent tweets from Free Gaza is a call to #NormalizeResistance. As I write, this hashtag seems to be primarily used to protest an invitation for Gilad Shalit by FC Barcelona, and the top tweet right now comes from an account set up under the name of Khader Adnan.

We know what Islamic Jihad member Khader Adnan means by “resistance” – and as it happens, Gaza’s rulers understand “resistance” in pretty much the same way.

It is precisely this kind of “resistance” advocated by Islamic Jihad and Hamas that has led to the “blockade” that Free Gaza opposes: Since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, more than 8,000 rockets have been fired from there by the “resistance,” terrorizing about one million Israeli civilians who live within the range of these rockets.

So let’s see what Free Gaza has to say about the “resistance”:

 

These tweets refer to an incident on June 1, 2012, when an armed infiltrator associated with Islamic Jihad from Gaza was discovered by IDF units near the Gaza border and managed to kill one soldier before being killed himself.

To sum up Free Gaza’s take on the event: an “operation” executed by “Gaza defenders” succeeded in killing one “IOF” soldier – though Free Gaza had apparently hoped the “operation” would result in three “dead Israeli soldiers.”

On the rockets raining down on Israeli towns, Free Gaza has this to say:

“Over 100 retaliatory projectiles and rockets including long-range Grad type have been fired from Gaza by Palestinian resistance groups.#Gaza

The post features a large photo of a mural depicting the widely idolized Leila Khaled, whose “fame” rests on her contribution to making airplane hijackings a successful terrorist tactic some 30 years ago.

The text of the post itself is fairly typical for the Palestinian “steadfastness”-genre that usually invokes the popular “blood-and-soil”-theme that self-described progressives apparently find deeply moving when it’s employed by Palestinians. In this case it’s an image often used on “Land Day”:

“My blood and sweat have since the dawn of history watered this land, kept it green and blooming and gave the poppies their colour.”

The main theme of the post is built on a much-used dichotomy: on one side are the unspeakably evil and cruel “Zionist racist” colonizers who are the real terrorist that “raped and continue to rape [Palestine] for over 63 years;” on the other side are the noble natives who patiently suffer, waiting for the day when their “home between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River … will be free of the Zionist colonists, the cowards and racists that … have no place in this land.”

Among the rapturous reader comments, there is one by Greta Berlin, linking to Free Gaza’s website, saying: “Heartbreaking and uplifting. As long as the young people of Palestine never forget, Palestine will always be remembered and will, one day. be returned.”

Yet another indication that Greta Berlin wants a “Zionist-free” Palestine “between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River” is the indignant tweet sent out by Free Gaza about a Huffington Post story with the somewhat misleading headline “Helen Thomas Denied Table For White House Correspondents Dinner.” However, as the report explains, Helen Thomas was given the privilege to get two tickets for this dinner even though she was no longer a White House correspondent. The Huffington Post report delicately alludes to “controversial comments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” that cost Thomas her status as a White House correspondent; the incident referred to is a clip showing Thomas voicing the view that Israelis should “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home [to] Poland, Germany… America and everywhere else.”

In any case, Free Gaza was clearly very upset that Helen Thomas wasn’t granted the extraordinary privilege of reserving a whole table at the glitzy White House Correspondents’ Dinner, tweeting:


Last but by no means least, it is noteworthy that in the ongoing controversy about the antisemitic material tweeted by Free Gaza, it is widely ignored that several of these tweets link to fringe websites that propagate bizarre conspiracy theories. Unsurprisingly, Free Gaza has also done this when it’s not really about Jews or Zionists: At the end of last December, Free Gaza posted a tweet about the “Engineered ‘Arab Spring:’” “2011 YEAR of the DUPE: One Year into the Engineered “Arab Spring,” One Step Closer to Global Hegemony.”

The article Free Gaza linked to revealed that “the US had been behind the uprisings and that they were anything but ‘spontaneous,’ or ‘indigenous;’” indeed, according to the lengthy piece, “the uprisings were part of an immense geopolitical campaign conceived in the West and carried out through its proxies with the assistance of disingenuous foundations, organizations, and the stable of NGOs they maintain throughout the world.”

Unsurprisingly, the site that published this piece also offers the “truth” about a whole lot of other dreadful cover-ups, including the terrorist attacks of 9/11…

Guardian story on mental health crisis, and lack of freedom, in Gaza ignores Hamas, & blames Israel

Angela Robson is a journalist covering development, gender and human rights issues.

So one would think that her Guardian report from Gaza focusing on social problems among Palestinians would at least touch upon the effects of life under an Islamist, despotic regime which denies its citizens democratic and human rights, and in particular upon the effect on women who suffer under what can at best be described as a government enforced culture of misogyny.

However, Robson (who was taken to Gaza by Oxfam) does not mention the word “Hamas” even once in her entire report (“Israeli blockade takes its toll on mental health in Gaza“, July 11th) – a fact even more remarkable in light of the fact that the strap line of the story cites the lack of freedom in the strip.

Robson, by use of unverifiable anecdotal evidence and questionable inferences, suggests a mental health crisis in Gaza totally of Israel’s making.

Typical are the opening passages, which recount the five-year unemployment by a Gazan named Abu Shawareb. Robson writes:

“Since the Israeli blockade of Gaza in June 2007, Shawareb has been unable to find another job. “We’ve been left to die slowly here,” he says. “I am just 40 but I feel as if my working life is over.”…He has been diagnosed with chronic depression and is on medication. The treatment is helping, but Shawareb still has days when he can barely pick himself up off the floor.”

So, by inference, the reader is to believe that Shawareb’s unemployment, and his depression, was caused by the blockade.

Leaving aside the fact that Robson completely ignores Hamas’s role in bringing about the blockade (the firing thousands of rockets into Israeli territory since they assumed power in 2006), the unemployment rate in Gaza in 2012 is 31.5% (per the pro-Palestinian NGO, Gisha) – a number considerably lower than it was during many quarters before the blockade.

In the first quarter of 2006, for instance (before the 2007 blockade), the unemployment rate in Gaza was nearly 40%. (See page 14 of this World Bank report.) Two years earlier, in 2004, the rate was 45%. While the unemployment rates fluctuated considerably in other quarters, there is no evidence of a statistical increase in unemployment as the result of Israel’s blockade on arms flowing into the strip.

Robson continues:

“Stress-related and mental health disorders are on the increase in the Gaza Strip, according to a recent report by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the near east (UNRWA). A combination of internal and external influences – including forced displacement, dispossession and occupation – have exacerbated the already high rate of mental health problems.” 

However, the report does not even attempt to demonstrate causation and provides no empirical evidence indicating that whatever increase in mental health disorders may exist are  indeed related to the blockade.

Robson then quotes an official from the Gaza Community Health Center, thus:

“Hasan Zeyada is a psychologist and manager of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme. According to a study by the GCMHP, depression has increased by nearly 18% among Gazans since the blockade.”

A link to the GCMHP study is not included, so it is impossible to determine the veracity of the claim, or how they proved a correlation between the blockade and an 18% increase in depression.  However, it is important to note that GCMHP is an NGO with an extremely radical agenda.  

Per NGO Monitor:

  • Eyad Sarraj, president of the GCMHP is on the Board of Advisors of the Free Gaza Movement, which is working in conjunction with the IHH terror group to organize a flotilla to Gaza in May/June 2011. 
  • During the June 2009 Goldstone mission hearings in Gaza, Sarraj made antisemitic remarks: “. . . inside Israel there is an identification with the aggressor, the Nazis.” 
Robson concludes with the following passage about spousal and child abuse in Gaza:

“According to a 2011 study by the Palestinian central bureau of statistics, 51% of married women had experienced violence from their husbands in the previous 12 months. Approximately 45% of children between 12 and 17 in Gaza have reported experiencing physical abuse at the hands of their parents.”

Are we to assume that the blockade causes Palestinian men to beat their wives and children?  

Domestic violence in surrounding Arab countries would suggest that such abuse may be a product of Palestinian social mores, rather than any Israeli action.  In fact, within the Palestinian Authority, at present, there are no laws to protect women from domestic violence.  Further, honor killings of women have increased in recent years. (See reports on the abuse of women – including physical and sexual abuse, honor killings, and female genital mutilation – in other Arab countries, here, here and here.)

Indeed, completely missing from Robson’s report is any information on repression of Palestinian men, women and children in Gaza by the Hamas regime and the connection to systemic human rights violations in the territory may have with mental health disorders and other social problems.

For instance a summer camp for children, run by Hamas,  forces children to experience “first hand the daily lives of prisoners held in Israel”.  The camp guides explained that “the mock prison set up for the camp is divided into six rooms, each simulating the incarceration conditions of Palestinian prisoners”. The first room is an interrogation cell, which is where prisoners are first led once entering the prison.

Per Ynet:

“One of the main heroes of the camp is Ibrahim Hamed, who was the head of Hamas’ military wing in Ramallah and is responsible for murdering dozens of Israelis. The guides boastfully tell the children how Hamed, who was recently sentenced to 54 life sentences, has continually refused to give his interrogators any information, including his given name.

Ahmad Rantisi, one of the organizers of the summer camp, said that its goal is to allow children to get a tangible experience of the suffering of Palestinian prisoners, and strengthen their belief in the protection of Palestinian land and the high price that must be paid.

In addition to the mock prison, the children participate in different activities, including military training, religious studies and walking on boards with rusty nails and knife blades.”

 

Such abuse of Palestinian children, which certainly could explain some of the social problems in the strip, would likely never be reported by the Guardian.

Further, it is stunning that a report on the mental health “crisis” in Gaza would ignore the supremely relevant factor of the Hamas regime’s systemic abrogation of Palestinian human rights.

Per Freedom House:

  • The media are not free in Gaza.  Journalists were harassed, detained, and summoned for questioning by security forces.
  • Freedom of religion is restricted in Gaza. Personal status law, which governs matters including marriage and divorce, is based on Sharia (Islamic law). Under Hamas, the authorities—including quasi-official “morality police” and Hamas-affiliated volunteer dawa groups—increasingly enforce orthodox Sunni Islamic practices and conservative dress. In addition, security forces and militants routinely harass worshippers at non-Hamas-affiliated mosques.
  • Due Process: Security forces and militants continued to carry out arbitrary arrests and detentions.
  • Women’s rights: In August 2009, the Education Ministry began requiring female students to wear hijab (headscarves) at school. In 2010, Islamist militants burned down UNRWA summer camps, accusing the organizers of teaching young girls “dancing and immorality.” Under Hamas, personal status law is derived almost entirely from Sharia, which puts women at a stark disadvantage in matters of marriage, divorce, inheritance, and domestic abuse. Rape, domestic abuse, and “honor killings,” in which relatives murder women for perceived sexual or moral transgressions, are common, and these crimes often go unpunished.  Under Hamas, women’s dress and movements in public have been increasingly restricted by the so-called morality police, who are tasked with enforcing orthodox Islamic customs.

Robson’s piece is thoroughly consistent with Guardian reports about life in Gaza – ignoring the fact that Israel’s legal blockade was necessitated by Hamas’ decision to prioritize firing rockets at Israel (and launching cross border terror attacks), over the more mundane tasks of social and economic development. 

The view of Palestinians – even those possessing the most extreme, violent and reactionary values – as perpetual victims of Israeli oppression is so ingrained in Guardian Left thought – and such an article of faith – that competing narratives regarding the “root causes” of Palestinian suffering are rarely – if ever – considered.

At the Guardian, Israel’s villainy is predetermined, and simply immutable.

The Guardian, the Boycotters’ press release, the Co-op and the Hamas link.

Why it should have taken two writers – both Observer ‘chief reporter’ Tracy McVeigh and Guardian Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood – to put together what is in fact no more than a re-hash of a ‘Boycott Israel Network’ press release is anyone’s guess. But it apparently did, and the result is this so-called article from April 29th on the subject of the Co-operative Group’s decision to boycott not only Israeli firms located over the green line, but also those with any connections to other businesses in those areas. 

The section from the BIN press release which McVeigh and Sherwood neglected to include provides background information on how this decision on the part of the Co-op came about. 

“The announcement by the Co-op came just before their Regional AGMs, due to take place over the next two weeks, and where motions on this issue have been submitted for discussion.  For months Co-op members have been highlighting their concerns about trade with complicit companies through co-ordinated letter-writing and discussions with local offices.”

For those unfamiliar with the Co-op’s structure and the manner in which that lends itself to easy manipulation by pressure groups, here is a brief primer. Anyone over the age of 16 can become a member of the Co-op for £1. Most of those who join do so for the offers, discounts and end of year dividends, but it is also possible for them to set up local members’ groups and the Co-op actually assigns funding to enable their meetings. 

The nature and purpose of each local group depends very much upon the members. Some might choose to go in for tasting the supermarket’s new range of wines at their meetings. Others may decide to recruit more new members at a local gala or engage in some kind of charity work. Still others may decide to liaise between the Co-op and the local community on a transition town-style green agenda – for example persuading their local Co-op to abandon the use of plastic bags or recycle food waste as compost. 

The local groups send representatives to regional meetings, which in turn send representation to national level meetings. Thus, anyone committed enough to put in the time and effort can promote a specific agenda and influence the Co-op’s operations at both local and national level. 

And that is precisely how this latest (and the previous, less far-reaching) boycott decision came about. Around 2008 the Co-op was identified by anti-Israel campaigners – in particular members of the PSC – as a ‘soft’ target. They became members, set up local groups and began pushing their agenda up the ladder. That task was not particularly difficult; the vast majority of Co-op members do not attend meetings and even those who do are often quite relieved to find that someone else is willing to spend time going to regional AGMs. 

The project was made even easier by the fact that, unable to compete with Britain’s big supermarket chains on price or quality, the Co-op markets itself as the progressive ‘ethical’ alternative. 

Sherwood and McVeigh quote one Hilary Smith in their article, describing her as “Co-op member and Boycott Israel Network (BIN) agricultural trade campaign co-ordinator”. The Boycott Israel Network of course involves itself in far more than just supermarket boycotts. 

Smith is also a member of Sheffield PSC and Sheffield BDS and active in the ‘Coordin8‘ lobbying network (her regional organizer is recent failed ‘flytilla’ participant and would-be fixer of online polls Terry Gallogly of York PSC). In 2009 she was to be found addressing students occupying Sheffield University on behalf of Sheffield PSC and is apparently not averse to the libeling of Israel as an ‘apartheid’ state. 

In February of this year Smith took part in an ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ event at Sheffield University which also featured a speaker from Who Profits, (a Coalition of Women for Peace offshoot) who was described in the promotional material as coming “from Haifa in the occupied territories”. That negation of Israel’s existence is of course an underlying principle of the BDS movement

In addition to her above activities, Hilary Smith is also a volunteer international coordinator’ for the ‘Free Gaza’ movement . Here she is reporting on a ‘Free Gaza’ speaking tour of the UK. Here she is acting as official contact and spokesperson for UK Free Gaza in 2009. Here she is posting information about the 2010 flotilla on the UK Trade Union movement’sLabournetsite and here complaining to the BBC about its coverage of the Mavi Marmara incident and its portrayal of the ‘Free Gaza’ movement. Ahead of the 2008 flotilla organized by ‘Free Gaza’, Smith chaired a press conference held in London.

The participants in one of the 2008 jaunts organized by ‘Free Gaza’ did reach their destination and were received (and presented with medals) by leaders of Hamas, – the terrorist organization designated by the UK government which ‘Free Gaza’ enables and supports

Activists in the ‘Free Gaza’ movement are very aware of the legal implications of their actions, as this briefing document – seized aboard a ‘Free Gaza’ ship – indicates.

Legal briefing given by Free Gaza to passengers on the ship Challenger

For the source of the above document and more information on the ‘Free Gaza’ movement, its ties to Hamas and other designated terror-connected organizations such as the IHH and its roots in the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), see here

The management of the Co-operative Group may not be aware that it has in fact been manipulated into this latest boycott move by subscribers to a political campaign which works towards the rather less than ethical ultimate aim of wiping a sovereign country off the map and often collaborates with designated terror organisations in order to do so.  

On the other hand, the Co-op might simply not care. After all, this is the same organization which (rather hilariously, given its advertising spiel on ethical banking) provides banking services  to George Galloway’s Viva Palestina – which is at this very moment  on yet another Hamas-supporting road-trip and travelling via Syria, where the incumbent dictator (for whom Galloway has such admiration is still slaughtering civilians in their thousands. 

This new boycott move by the Co-operative Group should actually be seen as very useful on a number of fronts.

It exposes the way in which it is laughably easy for very small numbers of energetic activists to dictate the agendas of large organizations in the UK. We have seen it happen in British churches, universities and trade unions – now it is the turn of the co-operative movement.

It also points a spotlight on the discrepancies between the ‘ethical’ image the Co-op likes to project for PR purposes and its actual practice. Let’s face it; the £350,000 worth of trade affected by this boycott is negligible (barely the price of a modest Tel Aviv apartment), but the move does highlight once again how the Co-op is apparently willing to overlook the terror-sympathetic  connections (and real aims) of clients and campaigning members in order to curry favor with a perceived  ‘progressive’ client base. 

The move also serves to highlight the manner in which UK-based anti-Israel campaigners have in the last decade or so managed to bring their message into the mainstream at local levels. Using letters to local newspapers, occasional PSC or ‘Friends of Palestine’ stalls and demonstrations, co-opting the support of churches and various specific interest groups, they have ensured that although the vast majority of the population understands little or nothing about the Arab-Israeli conflict, many are nonetheless convinced that they are capable of making ethical judgments about it. 

Of course most British citizens will find this move by the Co-op somewhat less than ethical, if not downright abhorrent. The good news is that due to the company’s structure, they can do something about it by using exactly the same methods as employed by BDS activists in order to reverse the agenda. 

CiF Watch Special Report on extremists behind ‘Global March to Jerusalem’: Pt 2, Europe Chapter

A guest post by Hadar Sela

Introduction:

As we saw in part one of this report on the ‘Global March to Jerusalem’ (GMJ) scheduled for March 30th 2012, the organisers are a conglomerate of people representing the ‘red-green alliance’ the world over. Radical Leftists, Muslim Brotherhood-connected Islamists and representatives of and sympathisers with the Iranian regime have once more come together with the aim of engineering an event which will result in PR disaster for Israel and advance their long-term assault on the legitimacy of the Jewish state.

The European chapter of the GMJ also represents a text-book example of what the Reut Institute termed the ‘red-green alliance’ in 2010 and in particular indicates that the naming of London as a hub of systematic assault on Israel’s right to exist in the Reut Institute’s report is still – two years on – very relevant indeed.

GMJ – the European chapter:

The radical Leftist ‘Anti-Imperialist Camp’ is promoting support for and participation in the Global March to Jerusalem by means of the following rhetoric:

Jerusalem has been a centre of the three monotheistic world religions for more than 1,000 years. This plurality has been threatened since the creation of the state of Israel and more so with the occupation of east Jerusalem and its annexation, in violation of international law. Jerusalem’s Palestinian inhabitants are subjected to a continuous process of expulsion from the city.

85% of its territory has been robbed by foreign settlers, while the Israeli state systematically destroys the livelihood of Palestinians. Every day, the Apartheid state of Israel demolishes Palestinian homes. Armed Israeli gangs, supported by the state, terrorise the old city’s inhabitants demanding, “Arabs out, Jerusalem is Jewish!” Jewish religious fanatics even attack Jewish women if they don’t abide by the rules emanating from their extremist interpretation of religion. All this is happening while the people of the Arab world are clamouring for democracy and self-determination

……..

After decades of submission to a world order dominated by NATO and Israel, the Arab masses have begun to rid themselves of their dependent and dictatorial regimes. 

………..

The sole reaction of the last settler colony in the world to the growing protest is increased brutality. The Apartheid state of Israel is hastening to create more facts on the ground, particularly in Jerusalem, before the balance of forces in the region turns completely against them. Once again, Israel’s claim to be the only democracy in the Middle East is exposed to be a racist fallacy – as only Jewish citizens are entitled to it.

As may be concluded from the type of language used above, many (though not all) of the endorsers of the European branch of the GMJ come from the radical Left

Individual endorsers:

Fatima Radjaie, Peace Movement, Karlsruhe, Germany
Thomas Zmrzly, Initiativ e.V. Duisburg, Germany
Ron Ridenour, author, Denmark
Benjamin Monnet, World Assembly Member, USA/Korea
Raymond Deane, composer and political activist, Ireland
Dekmak Haidar, coordinator Quds association in Lebanon
John Beeching, Hon. Chair Canadians for Peace and Socialism
Yvonne Ridley, Vice President of the European Muslims League, England
Dr S Sivasegaram, retired professor, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
Nadine Rosa-Rosso, senior anti-imperialist activist, Bruxelles, Belgium
Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, publicist, Germany
Franz Fischer, Palestine activist and CC of the Labour Party, Switzerland

Organisations:

Canada Palestine Association, Vancouver, and the Voice of Palestine, Canada
Campaign against the Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq, Spanish state

Among the organisers, we find an interesting mix of radical Leftists and Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas-linked veteran activists.

European preparatory committee for the Global March to Jerusalem
Rome, January 14, 2012

Zaher Birawi, leading Palestine activist, Britain
Gretta Duisenberg, Chair Foundation “Stop the Occupation”, Board member Free Gaza Movement, Netherlands
Leo Gabriel, Journalist and Anthropologist, Member of the IC of the World Social Forum, Austria
Dr. Hafiz al Karmi, Chairman Palestinian Forum in Britain
Mohammad Kozber, British Muslim Initiative
Wilhelm Langthaler, Anti-imperialist Camp, Gaza must live coalition, Austria
Mikalis Lukianos, Ship to Gaza, Greece
Daniela di Marco, Chair of Sumud – Anti-imperialist Voluntary Association, Italy
Moreno Pasquinelli, Anti-imperialist Camp, Italy
Ismael Patel, Chairman Friends of Al Qqsa, Britain
Attia and Verena Rajab, Palestine Committee Stuttgart, Germany
Elsa Rassbach, Film maker, journalist and peace activist, Berlin, Germany
Massimo de Santi, President of the International Committee for Education for Peace, Italy

Mikalis Lukianos is, as stated, connected to Ship to Gaza, Greece’ which is part of the coalition of groups behind the organisation of the flotillas and which includes the ‘European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza’ which was established by the Muslim Brotherhood’s European arm, the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe, (FIOE) in 2007 and includes Hamas operatives among its senior figures.

Greta Duisenberg is a long-time anti-Israeli activist from the Netherlands. She sits on the board of the ISM-linked ‘Free Gaza movement chaired by Huweida Arraf and is the founder of ‘Stop the Occupation’ . In 2003, during the second Intifada, her use of a Dutch diplomatic passport in order to visit Yasser Arafat in Ramallah provoked scandal , as have many more of her actions and statements.

Leo Gabriel is a member of the Austrian Social Forum who took part in the failed 2011 flotilla. A long time anti-Israel activist, Gabriel has participated in demanding that the partial embargo on the Gaza Strip (aimed at preventing the flow of weapons into that area) be lifted.  He also campaigns for the removal of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups from the European list of proscribed terror organisations. Here he is speaking in 2009 at a protest against the ‘Tel Aviv Beach’ project in Vienna.

Wilhelm (Willi) Langthaler is the other GMJ organiser in Austria and spokesman for the far Leftist  Anti-Imperialist Coordination (AIK) – mainly active in Austria and Italy – which courted controversy with its 2003 ’10 Euros for the Iraqi resistance’ campaign.   According to the Stephen Roth Institute:

The AIK (Anti-Imperialist Coordination), in particular, is involved in anti-Israel and anti-American propaganda activities and collaborates with Muslim extremists. During a “solidarity trip” to the Palestinian refugee camp Baka near Amman, leading AIK activist Wilhelm Langthaler asserted that the destruction of Zionism and the so-called state of Israel was “the only way to achieve justice” in the Middle East. He branded Israel “an apartheid regime worse than the one that existed in South Africa.” Before and during the US-led campaign in Iraq, the AIK together with other extremist left-wing and Muslim organizations organized pro-Ba`ath demonstrations against the US. In AIK publications, the murder of Israeli citizens (“occupants”) is supported.

Moreno Pasquinelli from Italy is also part of the Anti-Imperialist Coordination and a GMJ organiser. This former chef and long-time communist has, as mentioned above, been involved in supporting the Iraqi ‘resistance’ as well as Turkish extremists. In November 2011 he attended an ‘Anti-Imperialist’ conference in Bangladesh (together with Maan Bashour;  see part one of this report) and the previous month was to be found in Tehran at the regime organised ‘Fifth International Conference for Defending the Palestinian Intifada’, also attended by Khaled Masha’al and the General Secretary of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Daniela di Marco is secretary of ‘Sumud Volunteering and Resistance’ which appears to have interests in Lebanon. Sumud is also involved with the Italian branch of the ‘Freedom Flotilla movement which is also planning another ‘flytilla’ on April 15th 2012 together with ‘Welcome to Palestine’.

Massimo de Santi is a professor of nuclear physics at the University of Pisa who last year attended the Iranian regime organised ‘International Conference on Global Alliance Against Terrorism for A Just Peace’ at which Ahmadinejad stated that “The Zionist regime is the main base for exerting cruelty and terror acts of the main terrorisms around the world including South America, Africa and the Far East; and this regime is the main pillar of terrorism and the unjust system of arrogant world“. De Santi is director of the ‘International Committee of Education for Peace’ and apparently thinks that France is a “danger to world peace” and promotes the idea that Israel is the ‘real threat  in the Middle East.

Elsa Rassbach is an American film-maker living in Berlin. She is the founder of ‘American Voices Abroad Military Project’; an “initiative to support GIs who resist in Europe” and is involved with several other ‘anti-war’ groups. Her particular bête noire appears to be American military bases in Germany. Rassbach is also a member of ‘Codepink‘ and took part in the organization of the ‘Welcome to Palestine’flytilla‘ in 2011 together with Mazin Qumsiyeh (see part one of this report).

Attia & Verena Rajab are prominent members of the Palestine Committee of Stuttgart and were involved in the organization of the 2010 Stuttgart Conference that produced the ‘Stuttgart Declaration’ which rejects a negotiated two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Ismail Patel is a well-known anti-Israel activist in the United Kingdom. An optician from Leicester, he founded Friends of Al Aqsa in 1997, which he also chairs, and which is described as being “concerned with defending the human rights of Palestinians and protecting the sacred al-Aqsa Sanctuary in Jerusalem”. ‘Friends of Al Aqsa’ is one of the organisations which collaborate with the Khomenist ‘Islamic Human Rights Commission’ in organizing the annual ‘Al Quds Day events in London. It is also part of the Britain 2 Gaza campaign.

Patel is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked British Muslim Initiative (BMI) and also sits on the board of Conflicts Forum. He has been involved with Islam Expo and the Stop the War Coalition and collaborates with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. He took part in the 2010 flotilla aboard the Mavi Marmara and has also participated in the ‘Union of Good’-linked Miles of Smiles convoy to Gaza organized by Interpal – a banned organization in Israel due to its Hamas links. Here he is in Gaza, meeting Ismail Haniyeh (far right, second row).

 (Note: second from the left at the back is Mohammed Kozbar; see below.)

An occasional contributor to the Guardian, Patel has tried to draw equivalence between British citizens serving in the IDF and those seeking to join terror organisations banned by his own country.

‘Friends of Al Aqsa’ was one of the groups involved with the UK speaking tour by Raed Salah of the Northern Islamic Movement last year and Patel was one of the public figures who rushed to Salah’s defence after his arrest.

Patel has made much of his self-described status as a “survivor” of the Mavi Marmara incident, using it as a platform to spread his anti-Israel rhetoric. Here he is at a ‘Rage against Israel’ rally in London in 2010 stating that Israel’s “days are numbered”.

Hafiz al Karmi is Chairman of the ‘Palestinian Forum in Britain’ (PFB) – another one of the organisations involved in the sponsoring of a speaking tour in the UK by Raed Salah, whom he also in prison.

(More on Ahmad Nofal here)

Al Karmi is also director of the Qatari funded Mayfair Islamic Centre in London (a registered charity), a member of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and is associated with the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Muslim Association of Britain (MAB). In addition, he belongs to ‘The Coalition of British Muslim Organisations Concerned with the Rights of the Palestinian Peoplewhich produced this letter in 2009.

In 2010 al Karmi took part in a conference on the subject of European foreign policy towards the Palestinian issue alongside Osama Hamdan of Hamas, Istanbul Declaration signatory Daoud Abdullah, Alistair Crooke of ‘Conflicts Forum, Tariq Ramadan and a member of the Lebanese Al-Jama’a Al- Islamiyah.

Members of the Palestinian Forum of Britain are old hands at organizing anti-Israel demonstrations in collaboration with other Hamas/ Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups and the Iranian-linked ‘Islamic Human Rights Commission’.

MAB: PALESTINE RALLY, London, UK
13 April 2002
Transport will be arranged from:
Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham

MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD LAUNCH BIGGEST PALESTINE RALLY IN THE UK, INSHA ALLAH

Supported by Muslim Council of Britain, UK Islamic Mission, Islamic Human Rights Commission, Stop the War Coalition, Palestinian Return Centre, Mayfair Islamic Centre, Palestinian Forum, Dawat-ul-Islam.
_________________________________________________________________________
Date: 13th April 2002
Venue: from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square: CONFIRMED

…………..

Contact Person:
Email: intifada101@hotmail.com
Mobile: 07958329879

Join the Children’s Demo to show solidarity for the children in Gaza and all over Palestine. Bring your children along; let us not be silent any more.

Date: Sunday 8th February 2009
Time: 1.30pm – 3.00pm
Place: Outside 10 Downing Street
Nearest Tube Stations: Charing Cross (Northern Line), Westminster (Jubilee Line) and Embankment (District and Circle Lines)

Organised by: Islamic Human Rights Commission and Palestinian Forum of Britain.

Supported by: Islamic Forum of Europe, Friends of Al-Aqsa, British Muslim Initiative, Muslim Association of Britain, Young Muslim Organisation UK, Palestine Internationalist, Muslimaat UK, Friends of Lebanon, FOSIS, CAMPACC, Islamic Centre of England, Innovative Minds and Palestinian Return Centre.

Join us to protest for the rights of the oppressed and innocents in Gaza. Join the Struggle for Justice.

In 2010 the Palestinian Forum in Britain organized an ‘Al Aqsa in Danger’ gala which featured among others Ennhada‘s Rachid Ghanouchi and Kamal Helbawy who joined the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood at the age of 12 and functioned as its official spokesman in the West between 1995-7, establishing both the MCB and MAB. At the gala, Helbawy reportedly stated that:

“the resistance is the active heart of the Islamic nation, that resistance is the only language that the occupation understands, which Khaled Mashaal, the head of Hamas’s political bureau, grasps well.” Helbawy called for action by everyone according to his capacity, “to liberate Palestine — all Palestine “.

Mohammed Kozbar (aka Kozber) is a senior member of the British Muslim Initiative (BMI) and a former director and member of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), both of which are connected to the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) – the Muslim Brotherhood’s European arm. He is also a trustee of the Finsbury Park Mosque (also known as North London Central Mosque) and a project director for IslamExpo.

In his BMI capacity, Kozbar is involved with ‘anti-war’ groups such as the Stop the War Coalition and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. In the same role, he also collaborates with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and in December 2011 was to be found calling for the “end of Israel” at a London rally. 

Here he is in 2010 at one of a series of anti-Israel rallies following the flotilla incident:

Kozbar is also a member and former director of the Lebanese Association (or League) of Britain and represented that organization (alongside Hafiz al Karmi, see above) at a memorial to Lebanese Muslim Brotherhood leader and Union of Good trustee Faisal Mawlawi. In this announcement from last year, Kozbar is also described as a member of the Lebanese Islamic Association.

Kozbar is a trustee of a registered charity named ‘Lebanese Relief’ with an offshoot – also a registered charity – named ‘UK Care for Children’, of which he is also a trustee. Also on the board of trustees of the latter charity is Jihad Qundil – a senior Interpal employee.  Interpal is proscribed by Israel and the United States due to its links to the Hamas-supporting and financing ‘Union of Good’.

Here is Kozbar  (second from the right) posing for a photograph at the Gaza Legislature with members of an Interpal mission.

Zaher Birawi (also al Birawi) is official spokesman for the ‘Global March on Jerusalem’. He is also spokesman /media officer for the Palestinian Forum in Britain (PFB) headed by Hafiz al Karmi (see above). The PFB states that it maintains the principle that “Palestine with its historic borders is an Arab Islamic land”.

As can be seen in the above announcement for the Raed Salah speaking tour, the PFB is involved in fundraising for the Manchester-based ‘Human Appeal International’ (HAI) – another registered charity in England & Wales proscribed by Israel due to its links to the ‘Union of Good’ headed by Yusuf Qaradawi. Human Appeal International was also directly named (along with Interpal) in the case of a Hamas activist tried for having been involved in fundraising for suicide bombings inside Israel.  HAI is linked to the Muslim Association of Britain and partners for fundraising purposes with another registered charity entitled ‘Syria Relief’.

The Palestinian Forum in Britain is also part of the coalition of organisations including Ismail Patel’s ‘Friends of Al Aqsa’, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Stop the War Coalition and  the BMI which came together to form the flotilla supporting and enabling ‘Britain 2 Gaza’ forum. The PFB also collaborates with many of the same organisations and additional ones on other anti-Israel projects.

In addition, Birawi is a trustee of the registered charity ‘Education Aid for Palestinians’ – also part of the ‘Union of Good’ – and acted as head of programming for the Muslim Brotherhood’s Al Hiwar TV established by Azam Tamimi. He has also acted as spokesman for George Galloway’s ‘Viva Palestina’ convoys.

Birawi is most well-known, however, for his activities as a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked ‘Palestinian Return Centre’ (PRC) in London – an organization also banned in Israel due to its Hamas affiliations.  Prominent PRC figures are connected to Hamas and to the Muslim Brotherhood established ‘European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza’ (ECESG -which shares PRC office space), Interpal, MEMO and the MCB.

Here is Birawi sitting on Ismail Haniyeh’s right at a function in Gaza. Readers will also recognize Kevin Ovenden (to Birawi’s right; see part one of this report), Hamas Shura council member Mahmoud al Zahar and – on the far right – one of the Mavi Marmara participants.

Below we see Birawi (second from the left) at a classic red-green alliance event in Downing Street last September together with Sarah Colborne of the PSC, Mohammed Sawalha (see part one of this report), Lindsey German of the StWC, trade unionist Hugh Lanning, MP Andy Slaughter, former MP Martin Linton and member of the House of Lords and PSC & ECESG patron Jenny Tonge.

Conclusion:

The Global March on Jerusalem should be seen not only in the context of the broad alliance of anti-Israel activists of differing stripes brought together in order to get the project off the ground. It must also be assessed in terms of the interests of those providing considerable financial resources for its promotion and execution.

As pointed out on the ALAH blogspot , the campaign is obviously well-funded, allowing for publicity in several languages and frequent meetings of the organisers worldwide, including one for the European chapter scheduled for February 21st in London.

CLICK TO ENLARGE

The financial and ideological backers of the GMJ are –each for their own reasons – currently in need of a high-profile event with substantial media coverage in order to compensate for their failures on other fronts.

With Hizbollah having been unable to produce anything of major significance in the past four or five years and its ally in Damascus under ever-increasing pressure, and with Hamas feeling the financial pinch as a result of sanctions on Iran and ideological differences with the Tehran regime over Syria, a major and well-publicised distraction is at this time of vital importance to all.

Unfortunately, as we saw in the case of the 2010 flotilla, such a need for a high-profile event is likely to result in tragedy.

The deliberate exploitation of the subject of the Al Aqsa Mosque – unparalleled in its sensitivity in the Muslim world – by the organisers of the GMJ makes this unnecessary provocation even more potentially volatile.

Cartoon on 'Global March to Jerusalem' site

It is to be hoped that governments worldwide will recognize this counter-productive assault on a fellow UN member state for what it is. Hopefully they will also realize that the ability or will of surrounding countries to prevent their being used as a launching pad for the GMJ provocation is severely diminished and that they must therefore step up to the line and take action to prevent their citizens becoming involved in this foolhardy and potentially dangerous publicity stunt engineered by hardline terrorist sympathisers, the terrorist organisations themselves and their financial backers.

#PropagandaWaves: The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade or the ‘Free Gaza’ Movement?

Here’s a headline, from Roy Greenslade blog in the Guardian, Nov. 5, about the latest flotilla propaganda stunt which could have been written by spokesmen for the Free Gaza Movement:    

A “peace flotilla”.

I guess that’s the term for anti-Zionist activists intent on violating the legal blockade of a sovereign country established to prevent the flow of weapons into a terrorist controlled territory. 

A few highlights from Greenslade’s propaganda communique.

A Scottish TV reporter was among a group of journalists arrested earlier today when Israeli soldiers boarded two ships sailing toward Gaza.  Hassan Ghani who works for Iran’s Press TV, was detained

Sure, Ghani may be an apparatchik for the state controlled propaganda tool of the Islamic Republic of Iran, but who is Greenslade to judge?  

Then this:

The ships were forced to sail into the Israeli port of Ashdod, where all 27 passengers were handed over to the authorities.

They were aboard the Canadian vessel Tahrir (Arabic for liberation) and the Irish boat Saoirse (Irish for freedom), which were reputedly carrying medical equipment from Turkey to Gaza.

I don’t know how you say Guardian Left Dupe in Arabic or Irish, but, as we posted on Friday shortly after the flotilla was intercepted, and as the media has subsequently reported, the vessels were not carrying medical supplies or cargo of any sort. 

Finally, this:

“The flotilla, meant to be a symbolic and non-violent peace gesture,

Truly remarkable. Thousands of tons of supplies flow freely into Gaza daily by land – the IDF even has a page on its website with instructions on how people can donate additional goods to the Hamas controlled territory – and a ship carrying absolutely no cargo is a “peace gesture”. 

On a daily basis, Israel transfers approx. 6,000 tons of goods and materials into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom Crossing

Moreover, in 2009 alone more than 10,000 patients and their companions left Gaza for medical treatment in Israeli hospitals.  

That is, Israel treats thousands of Palestinians – citizens of a country with whom they are at war – free of charge each year.

But, who can be concerned with such quotidian concerns as food, medicine, and humanitarian aid when you can manufacture a publicity stunt and be assured of favorable coverage by the world’s leading liberal voice?

Related articles

2010: Not Harriet Sherwood’s Finest Year (Part 1 of 2)

A guest post by Geary

Over the course of 2010, Ms. Harriet Sherwood filed just over 100 stories from her perch in Jerusalem, which makes an average of roughly two stories a week for her paymasters in London.  And what, I’m sure you’re asking, did our intrepid correspondent-on-the-ground actually find to write about?

The highlight of Sherwood’s year was, of course, the wretched flotilla and the Mavi Marmara incident. The MM was, you will recall, the ship of would-be jihadis and actually-are dolts who set sail hoping to free the inhabitants of Gaza from the iron grip of the evil Israelis whilst simultaneously poisoning them with out-of-date medicine. Manna from Heaven for our Harriet, who dedicates a healthy 21 stories to the flotilla and its diplomatic fallout (that is, Turkey and Israel fell out as the former demanded an apology from the latter for defending itself).

And what else? Well, surprisingly perhaps, there were only a couple of mentions of the so-called snub to Joe Biden, but then again, the Guardian had bigger attack dogs on this story. There was also a fatal incident on the border with Lebanon, of which more later.

Beyond this we have, let’s see, the tragic story of the person mistakenly killed by Israeli border guards and the wildfire. And then we’re into real small-fry territory: a few olive trees chopped down and a vandalised mosque (both in response to attacks on settlers).

Sherwood doesn’t seem to like Orthodox Jews very much with a whole four stories about a group of renegade rabbis (condemned by just about every other rabbi in the world) who don’t want you to rent to Arabs, and another about a group who want to school their female children at home.

All in all, it was a relatively slow year (in Israel and Palestine that is). Indeed one wonders whether this paltry product really justifies the considerable expense of keeping a correspondent in Jerusalem, especially for a newspaper like the Guardian which loses money like a leper loses friends.

But maybe the point of la Sherwood is not so much what she writes on Israel but how she writes on it. When the story is substantial, rest assured that Israel will be painted in the worst possible light. Per Sherwood:

“Israel last night flouted pressure for an independent international inquiry into the lethal assault two weeks ago on a flotilla of ships attempting to break the blockade on Gaza…”

Note “flouted”, “lethal assault” – and on the whole flotilla? Indeed, she’s a recidivist. She talks of the assault on the whole flotilla in five separate pieces, whilst whoever writes her headlines entitled eight of her articles “Gaza flotilla assault”. Poetic license, I suppose. And there was me thinking all the other boats had already meekly obeyed the Israeli coastguard and sailed untouched into port. I even trusted those Zionist video recordings which show the Israelis boarding rather than assaulting the MM and being met with attempts to murder them.

Sherwood likes the words assault and attack, and you can guess who, according to Harriet, does most of the attacking. There’s the occasional recognition that there might be the odd spot of bother from Palestinian “militants”. Sherwood writes:

“In a second attack last night Israeli police said Palestinian gunmen had wounded two Israelis driving in the West Bank […]“

But far more sorrow is expressed for trees than Israelis:

Eyewitness: West Bank: Palestinian heartbreak as attacks increase on olive trees

The only missile attack she ever mentions is one which lands in Jordan:

One person was killed and four injured when a rocket hit the Jordanian coastal city of Aqaba yesterday. The attack took place when a salvo of rockets was fired from the Sinai peninsula towards the resort city of Eilat, in southern Israel.

From which one can safely infer that (a) the Hamastards are in dire need of an optician and (b) those “home-made” rockets, lovingly crafted by Iranian hands are, in truth, quite deadly.

Next question I’m sure is on your lips: what happens when Israel is unavoidably and undeniably in the right? Easy. Obfuscate. Remember that incident on the border with Lebanon, mentioned earlier? This is how the Guardian headlines Sherwood’s first piece on it (August 4th):

UN calls for restraint after Israeli-Lebanon border tensions erupt, leaving five dead: Israeli colonel and four Lebanese killed in firefight. Spark was uprooting of trees on Lebanese side

Who started shooting first? Dunno. But what were the dastardly Israelis doing to those Lebanese trees? Do these Jews have something against trees? But oops. It transpires that the tree (singular) was on the Israeli side and so there was no breach of the border (August 5th). Sherwood writes:

The tree that sparked a deadly confrontation between Israeli and Lebanese troops along the border was on Israeli territory, the UN said yesterday.

Only in the penultimate sentence of this extremely brief corrigendum do we find:

… which Israeli troops were cutting  down when Lebanese forces fired on them

And in the very last sentence, normal Sherwood service is resumed:

Meanwhile, a Palestinian militant was killed in an air strike in Gaza yesterday.

No mention of why, what he’d been up to. It’s just what you do if you’re an Israeli and bored. In fact, those Israelis, they’ll attack anyone. Notes Sherwood:

Binyamin Netanyahu, yesterday attacked Turkey for rejecting appeals at “the highest level” to prevent confrontation between  Israeli forces and activists on the Gaza aid flotilla

Israeli P.M. attacks Turkey? Man bites dog? Dear Harriet, haven’t you heard? Even the Guardian has suggested that Erdogan is throwing a tantrum.

Finally the prize for the weirdest “attack” passage has to go to the following dispatch by Sherwood:

Israel ‘faces renewed attacks by Hamas and Jewish extremists’

Hamas and Jewish “extremists”. Sure. Two peas in a pod.

(To be continued)

The Guardian “asks”, who’s controlling the internet? The answer? Israel.

There’s something about the video produced by Jon Ronson - Esc and Ctrl: Jon Ronson’s stories about people trying to control the internet’ – which is hauntingly familiar.

When you consider the question of “who’s controlling the internet?”, what would normally come to mind, it would seem, are totalitarian nations like North Korea, China, Iran, and Syria  - states who routinely block web sites critical of their regime.

Yet, while the protagonists in this video introduction into media control and manipulation are decidedly illiberal groups like Electronic Intifada and the Free Gaza Movement, the villain is – yes – Israel.

The video opens with selected clips from a 3-minute YouTube video showing a man calling himself Marc Pax claiming he was denied permission by the organisers to join the Free Gaza flotilla because the participation of a gay activist would not “serve the interests” of the flotilla movement.

Pax is then seen criticizing the groups participating in the flotilla for having close ties to Hamas, a group which denies basic human rights to Gaza residents.

Though the clip was indeed widely distributed via links on a number of Israeli government websites, it was later revealed that the clip was staged and Marc Pax was soon identified as Omer Gershon, an Israeli actor involved in marketing.

An intern working in the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem had posted the clip on Twitter, and government websites put up links to the clip.

While the links were removed after the hoax was revealed, with apologies from Israeli officials, is there really any doubt that the premise of the video – that Hamas, and many activists supporting the Islamist regime in Gaza, are indeed shamefully homophobic – is accurate?

But, Ronson wasn’t content with merely exposing that particular hoax .  

The video aspires to a much more expansive expose of Israeli “control”, and subsequently “reveals” that other pro-Israel videos have been posted on YouTube, such as two by Latma, (We Con the World, and Guns, Guns, Guns)

Both clips – which justifiably mock Hamas terrorists and their supporters – are characterized as something insensitive and manipulative.

Ronson darkly warns that, “there’s a whole sub-culture of young Israelis making YouTube videos about the Gaza Flotilla…Omer Gershon is one of many.”

The subtext of Ronson’s video is almost comical.

Israelis – as opposed to, one presumes, citizens of every other nation in the world – are uniquely engaged in an attempt to use social media to get their message out.

The videos Ronson focuses on are three out of hundreds of millions of selections available on YouTube – many distributed and promoted through other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter (produced by governments, NGOs, political organizations, and, mostly, private citizens) – which allows for the dissemination of ideas on a scale which would have impossible before the internet.  

Such social networking represents the democratization of the media which would, seemingly, be viewed as empowering and progressive.

That Ronson’s Guardian series on “control of the internet” opens with a focus on Israel is curious to say the least.  

The word “control” is hyperbolic to be sure, and a highly suggestive way of characterizing the routine use of social media to disseminate ideas as something malevolent.  

For every one pro-Israel video, there are, to be sure, countless others which demonize and vilify the Jewish state.  Yet, Ronson, for some reason, chose to shine his “expose” the former.

Last clip of Ronson's video

The suggestion that Israelis are trying to “control” the internet is beyond mere hyperbole.

Such a narrative feeds into the most unhinged conspiratorial narratives of Israeli/Zionist/Jewish manipulation of the media.

The word “hasbara” – which merely means “public diplomacy” – is a word routinely used in the pejorative by Israel’s fierce critics to characterize efforts by Zionists to win hearts and minds as something sinister.

To such haters, for instance, Israel’s relief efforts in Haiti in 2010 – where IDF medical teams set up the most effective field hospitals to assist the thousands of victims of the catastrophic earthquakes – was characterized by some as nothing but cynical hasbara.

Yes, Zionists try, as best they can, through the social media and other means, to combat the assault on Israel’s legitimacy.

But, so what?

Haven’t corrosive narratives of Jewish control of the media wrought enough damage? 

Why would genuine liberal voices allow themselves to perpetuate such historically lethal tropes about Jewish power?

It’s not enough that Israelis have to contend with forces intent on their state’s destruction – the relentless cross examinations suggesting that the Jewish state’s very existence is problematic?

But, we evidently also have to defend ourselves from the “charge” that we dare to fearlessly defend ourselves from such malicious assaults.

The Guardian or Gaza TV News? Harriet Sherwood continues to run interference for Hamas apologists

Harriet Sherwood’s reports on Israel and the Palestinians for the Guardian possess a degree of ideological uniformity which would have pleased Soviet propagandists during the height of the former totalitarian regime’s anti-Zionist crusade.

Sherwood’s most recent dispatch, on her personal involvement with efforts by anti-Israel activists to provoke a confrontation with the Israeli Navy, could have been produced and edited by Gaza TV News, Hamas, or at least by the terrorist group’s apologists – those on board the vessel which organized Sherwood’s junket: Civil Peace Service Gaza (CPSG), which is made up of groups such as International Solidarity Movement, Code Pink, European Jews for a Just Peace  (headed by Dror Feiler), Free Gaza’ and the Popular Struggle Co-ordination Committee - all of whom, to varying degrees, legitimize or openly support the quite illiberal political aspiration of bringing about Israel’s demise, and who Sherwood characterized (using perfect Newspeak) as a human rights groups“.

Indeed, her post, Gaza fishermen swamped by Israeli gunboats and water cannons, July 24, contained a video narrated by a Brit who intoned with the monotone gravity of a correspondent reporting on the blitzkrieg of London on the “harrowing” water assault on the vessels (who were significantly beyond the 3 nautical mile limit) by the Israeli Navy which left several passengers shockingly, umm, “drenched”!

The post itself is classic Sherwood – accepting at face value claims by Palestinian fishermen that their “livelihood” is demolished by the Israeli blockade, ignoring the context of Hamas terror, and dismissing the Israeli justification for the limit by placing both references to Israel’s security concerns in quotations.

Not in quotations however, and without a hyperlink citing a source, was her casual allegation that the United Nations and human rights organisations say the fishing restriction is collective punishment in violation of international law.  

Sherwood  also uncritically quotes an official from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights  - an EU funded NGO which regularly describes Israel’s policies as “apartheid” and accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing - characterizing the broader Israeli blockade of arms as “illegal”, a claim which can no longer credibly be made in light of the United Nations Report‘s conclusion that the blockade is perfectly in accordance with international law. 

More broadly, evidence relating to the propaganda value of Sherwood’s report can be found in the following images.

London:

Gaza City:

While the movement behind Gaza TV News is less than clear, the fact that they cross-posted Sherwood’s dispatch verbatim from her Guardian report piqued my interest, and, in the course of my research, came across their Facebook page:

And, lo and behold, one of the few pages Gaza TV News “likes” just happen to be CPSG, the group who organized Sherwood’s voyage.

If you’re the member of CPSG who organized Sherwood’s fishing trip, you are, no doubt, gleaming right about now. 

The word “dupe” simply doesn’t do justice to Sherwood’s continuing acquiescence to radical anti-Israel “activists”. 

Where in the world was Harriet Sherwood? Well beyond the 3 nautical mile limit from Gaza coast

This is posted by AKUS and Adam Levick (Margie and Israelinurse also contributed to the report)

Israelinurse, yesterday, commented on Harriet Sherwood’s participation in a blatant effort by anti-Israel activists to provoke the Israeli Navy into a dangerous confrontation.

Noted Israelinurse:

“Harriet Sherwood has been for a boat ride this morning. Not just any old boat ride, mind you, but one off the Gaza coast where it seems that four fishing boats, two press boats – one of which she calls “the Guardian boat” – and one NGO vessel met the Israeli navy.”

As she noted, regarding the the “humanitarian”, “NGO” Vessel:

“The ‘Olivia’ belongs to the Civil Peace Service Gaza:  the NGO with which murdered activist Vittorio Arrigoni operated.  CPSGAZA was set up by a collection of anti-Israel activist groups including the International Solidarity Movement, Codepink, European Jews for a Just Peace (headed by Dror Feiler), ‘Free Gaza’ and the Popular Struggle Co-ordination Committee, all of which are committed to bringing about Israel’s demise.

Sherwood’s Tweets from the boat included this:

Then after subsequent Tweets where she noted that the Israeli Navy was firing (Water Cannons) at the “Human Rights Boat”, she asked:

Well, Harriet. For one, based on your own coordinates you were well beyond the 3 mile limit imposed on vessels – a restriction, it should be noted, consistent with Israel’s legal blockade, enforced to prevent terrorists from smuggling weapons, explosives and other contraband into the region. 

Plugging in Sherwood’s coordinates into Google Earth (with a little creative assistance from Akus) produced this.

CLICK TO ENLARGE

So, even assuming the measurement was in ground miles, 4.7 miles is still almost exactly 4 nautical miles - well outside the 3-mile limit she knew was being enforced, and therefore actively participated in a dangerous provocation which could have caused a potentially fatal incident.

However, all the IDF did to get the boats to return to shore was fire water cannons and, as Sherwood herself put it, they also “circled [the boats] to create continuous waves and noise.” 

We simply can’t wait to read Sherwood’s post on the incident – what will surely be a gripping and horrific tale of a simply ruthless Israeli Navy who employed sadistic, Zionist methods of coercion such as water, waves, and noise!

Israel’s success + Flotilla’s failure = The Guardian’s boredom

Even Harriet Sherwood could not find much to say about the non-event which was the apprehension of the one remaining ‘Freedom Flotilla 2′ boat this afternoon off Israel’s coast. The  fifteen foot ‘Dignite al Karama’, sailing under the French flag and having set sail  originally from Corsica, departed Crete on Saturday with only three journalists, ten activists and a crew of four aboard. It was, of course, not even pretending to carry any aid.

Among the passengers were Dror Feiler of ‘European Jews for a Just Peace’ and  the Swedish Boat to Gaza campaign, fellow passenger also on the 2010 flotilla Vangelis Pissias, no fewer than two spokesmen for the ‘French Ship to Gaza’ campaign, a couple of French politicians – one communist, one Green – and Omeyya (Oumaya) Seddik of the Tunisian FTCR.

The captain of the yacht had reportedly declared to the Greek authorities prior to departure that his destination was an Egyptian port of, but predictably, upon being challenged by the Israeli navy, his destination suddenly changed to Gaza.

Apparently, it is an offence under Greek law for a vessel to proceed to a port different to the one for which it has received authorization to sail and on that basis the Israeli NGO ‘Shurat HaDin’ has already registered a complaint with the Greek coastguard.

As the Israeli navy boarded the boat, the Twittersphere was of course humming with weird and wonderful interpretations of ‘international law’ and ‘piracy’. Notably, ‘journavist’ Joseph Dana – whose intentions to sail aboard the American boat had come to nothing – was whipping up fervor among his followers early on in the day with one of his signature snide insinuations.

ibnezra Joseph Dana

Communications with the boat are cut, the army has a window of time to do what it pleases against the unarmed civilians on board #flotilla

Another notable Tweet came from an organization calling itself ‘UK Friends of Palestine and (moderate) IsraeI’ :

UKFPI AdamFlude &Friends

@

rt @lukeshore Report on #Dignite from @AJEnglishenglish.aljazeera.net/news/middleeas… #flotilla WHATEVER HAPPENS, PLZ PUT UP THIS POSTER: ukfpi.org/documents/A4OP…

Given the use of a drawing by Carlos Latuff and other offensive antisemitic imagery on that website, it is significant that the poster being advertised in the Tweet urges its readers to join the Palestine Solidarity Campaign or Jews for Justice for Palestinians – no strangers to maritime escapades of their own. Equally interesting (and by now, unsurprising) is the fact that the sender of the UKFPI Tweet, Adam Flude, would appear to have connections to Amnesty International.

As the Dignite al Karama was directed to Ashdod port, having come peacefully under Israeli control without the slightest resistance by the activists, calls were issued by flotilla organizers and sympathizers for supporters to hit the streets with demonstrations throughout Europe and North America.

Adding to the surrealism of the desperate attempts by flotilla organizers and supporters to milk some kind of media exposure from the whole non-event of the flotilla flop, Hamas issued a statement condemning the seizure of the boat and calling the action “piracy, a war crime and a violation of the principles of human rights”. Not to be outdone, the Arab League took time off from doing nothing about the killing of Syrian, Yemeni and Bahraini citizens to issue its own condemnation of what it termed “an act of piracy” and to demand action from the international community and the UN Security Council.

 

Whether or not today’s events mark the end of this year’s flotilla season remains to be seen, but certainly we can already come to the conclusion that much has been learned and internalized on the Israeli side since the 2010 flotilla. The diplomatic efforts, the legal actions by ‘Shurat HaDin’ and others, the intensive training on the part of the IDF and its vastly increased efficiency in getting information out almost in real-time have all contributed to make this summer’s flotilla provocation a resounding failure.

When even the Guardian barely gives the flotilla the time of day, something is working well.

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The Guardian finds fresh new talent to whitewash terror connections of flotilla movement, and demonize Israel

When Ruqaya Izzidien is not minimizing the threats posed by radical Islam, or decrying European Islamophobia, blogging for the extreme anti-Israel site Mondoweiss, or contributing to Al Jazeera, she serves as the UK correspondent for Bikyamasr, an online magazine which focuses on “Egypt and the region” – a site which has, on the sidebar of their home page , a “resistance to occupation” video which contains scenes like these:

Among her more notable contributions, in the course of covering the UK for Bikyamasr, was an op-ed about the terrorist attacks on 7/7 and British Muslim terrorism more broadly, where, despite describing herself as a “justice-seeking”, “anti-violent” “hippy”, says, employing the Ben White formula of not explicitly endorsing hateful ideologies and actions, but expressing, nonetheless, an “understanding” or “empathy” towards it:

“I can…provide a valuable insight which will begin to help us understand [terrorist attacks by UK Muslims]. It is awful to feel uncontrollably out-of-place. Add to that a feeling of injustice about British involvement in the Middle East and the implementation of an apparently racist state policy of arresting anyone who has a Muslim look about them, as if it were possible to define religion according to skin color, and we have a real recipe for creating the type of alienated person who will seek control through other mediums”

 She is also, naturally, given such an impressive resume of anti-Zionism and “contextualizing” Islamist terror, a contributor to the Guardian, and penned a piece, Gaza flotilla: ‘Solidarity more important than aid’, July 6 (on the Guardian’s ‘Global Development Page, a partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation).

The piece is notable in its frank admission that the flotilla movement was never about providing Palestinians with humanitarian aid (which, we’ve noted, is not in short supply) – and represents the reason why, according to Izzidien, “Gazans are quick to dismiss the Israeli-Greek offer to offload and transport to Gaza the humanitarian aid aboard the flotilla.”

She further explains that the desires of those involved in the flotilla campaign are to seek “peace” and “justice”, yet, characteristically, never once , in a 800 word essay, mentions the word Hamas in the context of Palestinians desire for rights, and further cites an “activist” as alleging Israel’s blockade is “illegal” – despite the paucity of any such designation by any official institution, and a body of international law and historical precedents attesting to the legal legitimacy of Israel’s blockade of arms flowing to the hostile Hamas regime.

Izzidien’s exercise in polemical obfuscation is perhaps most evident when she quotes a member of the International Solidarity Movement - whose unambiguous malicious intent, regarding the flotilla movement, was revealed in a video by member Adam Shapiro -  saying the following:

“The dirty campaign against this flotilla has informed much of the world about Israeli subversion, from coercing foreign governments to act against the express wishes of their citizens to sabotaging civilian ships in international ports under the cover of darkness” [emphasis mine]

Indeed, such a narrative, imputing in Israel’s efforts to defend themselves from an increasingly well-armed terrorist group committed to its destruction – conjuring a “dirty campaign” of “subversion” and “coercion”, by the Zionist entity – could have been written by the sponsors and organizers of the latest flotilla campaign who, it was revealed, just so happen to be Hamas operatives.

I now understand Izzidien’s curious omission of the word Hamas anywhere in her diatribe.  I mean, after all, who needs the painful cognitive dissonance which would naturally arise from the understanding that no matter how much she hates the Zionist regime, the flotilla movement’s “grass roots” effort by “peaceful activists” to show solidarity with Gaza is actually an orchestrated propaganda event by a reactionary terrorist movement.  

Vilifying Israel is just so much more satisfying – and much more likely to give you a platform at the Guardian.

Next Hamas-supporting stunt by Western ‘activists’: the ‘Flytilla’

Well, if you thought the flotilla (or should that be ‘floptilla’?) was an unnecessary provocation, meet the ‘flytilla’.

This coming Friday, July 8th, hundreds of foreign activists are apparently planning a pre-coordinated touch down on commercial flights at Ben Gurion airport as part of a ‘Return from Exile’ or ‘Flight of Return’.

Some will be high-profile Western sympathisers and some will be citizens of countries from which there is no need for a visa to come to Israel and who have Palestinian origins.  They will supposedly be exercising their ‘right of return’ to Israel; in other words expressing their support for the dismantling of the Jewish state.

Once again, some familiar faces are behind this latest stunt. It was dreamed up by a co-founder of the ‘Free Gaza’ movement – one of the partners also behind the flotillas – Paul Larudee. Larudee – who also has a long history of involvement with the ISM and was deported from Israel in 2006 – now heads the California-based ‘Free Palestine’ movement which, despite his Hamas connections, is both UN accredited and a registered US ‘not for profit’ organisation with 501(c)(3) status.   

This is a letter  dating from 2007 on official Hamas notepaper inviting Larudee and the ‘Free Gaza’ movement to help breach the blockade on Gaza.

The year after that letter was sent, Larudee did indeed reach Gaza – and received an honorary Palestinian passport straight from the hands of Ismail Haniyeh for his pains. Here he is (second from the left), together with a few other familiar faces.  

The other major partner behind this ‘flytilla’ is Al Awda – the ‘Palestine Right to Return Coalition’ – which campaigns for the replacement of Israel with a Palestinian majority state and promotes BDS. ‘Electronic Intifada’ co-founder and writer Ali Abunimah is also involved with Al Awda , which has clear Hamas links and helped George Galloway raise over one million dollars for his Hamas-enabling ‘Viva Palestina’ convoys.  

 Other partners in the organisation of the project include the ISM and, according to an interview given by Paul Larudee to Hizbollah’s ‘Al Manar’ TV, the London-based ‘Palestinian Return Centre’, which is banned in Israel because of its Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood links. The ‘flytilla’ is also being promoted by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign which was recently the focus of attention due to its attempts to introduce BDS into Scottish local councils.

Apparently, Scottish participants will be joined by Belgian and other European activists, as well as others from North America, South America, Asia and Africa.

So, here we go again: yet another pointless, publicity-seeking, money-wasting stunt designed to try to embarrass Israel is being initiated by Hamas-supporting activists and executed by Western ‘useful idiots’ in an attempt to advance the ‘no negotiations, no two-state solution’ agenda of Hamas.

Of course, if it is anything like the second flotilla, this escapade too could yet prove to be more media-orientated hype than anything else, but it could also potentially cause unnecessary delays at Ben Gurion airport on Friday. Not that any of these ‘activists’ would of course care in the least about deliberately causing inconvenience to other travellers rushing home for the weekend  or legitimate tourists just trying to enjoy a well-earned holiday, because, as we already know, it’s all about them and their own personal smug self-gratification.