An episode of “Guess the Twitterer”: An ‘Air Flotilla 2′ #EpicFailure Production

As I was Tweeting last night at Ben Gurion Airport while covering the extremist organized Anti-Zionist provocation known as ‘Air Flotilla 2‘, I came across these Tweets on the Fly2Palestine hash tag.  They were so over the top they could have almost been sent by a Zionist troll, or one of those intentionally fake Twitter accounts which parody well-known Twitterers.

Tweet 1

Tweet 2

This Twitterer is?

Yes, Ali Abunimah: co-founder of Electronic Intifada, bold one-state solution proponent, and CiF contributor through 2009.  

Abunimah is the man who The Jewish Forward characterized as a “rock star” in the title of a complimentary profile.  Interestingly, The Forward subsequently changed the title to “Lightening Rod of the BDS Movement” but evidently forgot to wipe clean the original title from its Facebook page.

It looks like the Forward’s social media manager isn’t quite on top of things!

Oh, and one last thing. The most risible line from the progressive Jewish paper’s piece on the advocate of the Jewish state’s demise, was this:

[Abunimah] speaks out frequently against anti-Semitism, partly, he says, because he’s often accused of it. Zionism, he claims, is itself form of anti-Semitism — the idea that all Jews should live, and can only be safe, in Israel.

Well, that’s not quite fair. Here’s exactly how he’s framed it.

“supporting Zionism is not atonement for the Holocaust, but its continuation in spirit.”

 I simply can’t imagine why he’d be accused of antisemitism. 

Classic anti-Zionist PR strategy employed by ‘Flytilla 2′ activists: Fail Miserably, Claim Victory

This passage from a Jerusalem Post update on the flytilla event just made me laugh, as it represents a perfect illustration of how, per the astonishingly unsuccessful Global March to Jerusalem, (and not unlike the continuing BDS faux “victories”) extremist anti-Zionists can spin even the most embarrassing failure in a positive way.

Despite only two activists making it past security at Ben-Gurion Airport, the “flytilla” protest was a success, an event organizer said during a Sunday press conference in Bethlehem.

The event was a media success and showed that Israel was not a democracy, the organizer said.

For those wishing to read the hate and inanity parading as “progressive” activism, follow the Twitter feed: #Fly2Palestine.

I’ll leave you with the following video, a glimpse into the (WILDLY SUCCESSFUL!) media event.

‘Airflotilla 2′ & “normal, average Europeans”

Earlier in the week the organisers of the ‘Airflotilla 2′ (‘Welcome to Palestine’) campaign held a press conference in Bethlehem. Among the speakers the organisers chose to address journalists was the mayor of Bethlehem, Victor Batarseh who urged Israel to allow the flytilla activists in.

“These people are coming to talk about peace, they are not coming to wage war against Israel,” he said. “They are coming to visit the Palestinian people who are under occupation and to talk to them and to help them because these people are isolated.”

 “We are asking our neighbors the Israeli government to make it easy for these people to enter the Palestinian National Authority, so that we can have this message of peace starting from this holy city of Bethlehem.”

He called on Europe and the United States to support the protest. People who speak out about Israel’s policies are called “anti-Semitic,” he said, but urged the US and Europe not to fear this label.

Whilst he can certainly talk the talk, Mayor Batarseh’s ‘message of peace’ should be seen in light of the fact that he recently took part in the ‘Christ at the Checkpoint conference held in his town, during which he told the audience that the Palestinians were being crucified by Israeli security measures, Bethlehem was a giant prison and that Jesus Christ, embodied by the Palestinian people, was imprisoned in the city by the security barrier.

Batarseh is known to be allied to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – a terrorist organization proscribed by Canada, the EU and the US. In January this year Batarseh attended a memorial service for PFLP founder George Habash held in Beit Sahour.  Terror attacks perpetrated by the PFLP include:

  • On July 22, 1968, the PFLP hijacked its first plane, an El Al flight from Rome to Tel Aviv.
  • In September 1970, the PFLP hijacked three passenger planes and took them to airfields in Jordan, where the PLO was then based; after the planes were emptied, the hijackers blew them up. In response, King Hussein of Jordan decided that Palestinian radicals had gone too far and drove the PLO out of his kingdom.
  • In 1972, PFLP and Japanese Red Army gunmen murdered two dozen passengers at Israel’s international airport in Lod.
  • In 1976, breaking a PLO agreement to end terrorism outside Israeli-held territory, PFLP members joined with West German radical leftists from the Baader-Meinhof Gang to hijack an Air France flight bound for Tel Aviv and landed the plane in Entebbe, Uganda. In a now-famous raid, Israeli commandos freed the hostages. [Despite the overall success of the raid, three hostages were killed in the firefight and one was killed by Ugandan Army officers in a nearby hospital.]

Also speaking at the ‘Welcome to Palestine’ press conference was project organizer Mazin Qumsiyeh who said of the campaign’s participants:

“These are not hooligans. The people who are coming are normal, average Europeans who want to learn and visit people under occupation,”

Hooliganism is defined as ‘rowdy, violent or destructive behaviour’ or alternatively; ‘willful, wanton and malicious destruction of the property of others’. Some might say that the attempts of Mazin Qumsiyeh and his Palestine Justice Network to eliminate the Israeli state amount to little less.

Certainly, Mazin Qumsiyeh and Mustafa Barghouti –  an endorser of the ‘Air Flotilla 2′ – do not qualify as being best placed to define hooliganism in light of their equally suspect definition of the recent March 30th ‘Global March to Jerusalem’ events  (which they also co-organised) as ‘non-violent resistance’ and Barghouti’s active participation in the Qalandiya riots.

Neither, of course, is Qumsiyeh’s definition of the ‘Air Flotilla 2′ participants as “normal, average Europeans” at all accurate. Average Europeans do not – unlike the members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign or London BDS  (both of which are involved in ‘Welcome to Palestine’)  – align themselves with the oppressive human-rights abusing, terror financing and supporting  Iranian regime by promoting and participating in ‘Al Quds Day marches.

Normal Europeans do not march under the flags of terrorist organisations such as Hizbollah and Hamas who indiscriminately murder civilians. Average Europeans do not disrupt cultural events and call for boycotts of a democratic country as a means of bringing about its dismantling. And ordinary Europeans certainly do not try to deliberately get themselves deported from other countries by knowingly engineering provocations.

As for Qumsiyeh’s claim that the ‘Air Flotilla 2′ participants wanting to “learn” about the conflict – that of course is highly dubious. Seasoned activists such as these are precisely what they are because of the fact that they have no desire to have their well-entrenched opinions challenged by facts and knowledge.

But let’s say they did. A viewing of this video made by Mustafa Barghouti shows exactly what participants in the ‘Air Flotilla 2′ will be ‘learning’ on their trip – should they actually arrive.

Bigotry & justifications for terror as ‘progressive’ politics: Air Flotilla 2′s York PSC contingent

Along with the members from Greater Manchester, three members of the York branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign will also be taking part in the ‘Air Flotilla 2′ (or ‘Welcome to Palestine’) publicity stunt scheduled for Sunday, April 15th.

“Terry Gallogly, Mary Watson and Carol Pearman will be among visitors flying into Israel as part of the Welcome to Palestine campaign.”

Carol Pearman (left) and Terry Gallogly (centre)

Ms. Pearman appears to consider herself something of an expert on Israeli security needs:

“The Israeli government tries to make out that anyone wanting to visit Palestinian friends is a security risk, but that’s nonsense,” said Carol Pearman, 69, of Hull Road.

“We just want to visit friends who are kept like prisoners under this illegal occupation. Even prisoners are allowed visitors.”

Ms. Watson, however, somewhat spoils the ‘kept like prisoners’ meme by admitting:

“We have visited Palestine before”

York PSC is rather infamous for its extremism. Before it was removed following complaints, the FAQ section of its website included the following: (emphasis added)

1. Do we condemn the suicide bombers?

Yes, we condemn  ALL violence on all sides, but PSC seeks to understand causes and means of prevention. For example, Palestinians  do not have  the sophisticated weaponry of the occupying forces. Suicide bombing is their only weapon, it is a last resort of a desperate people who see no alternative way of defending their homeland. Extreme injustice breeds extreme responses.

2. Does PSC recognise the State of Israel?

Yes we recognize A State of Israel  with the borders that existed before the 1967 six day war. The continuous extension of those borders by war and occupation have been condemned by numerous UN Security council resolutions (beginning with number 242 in November 1967).  Individuals can comment on the right or otherwise of the land grab which created the state of Israel in the first place and its biblical justification,  but we must emphasize that PSC, like Arafat, accepts the inevitable presence of the Israelis and that pushing them all in to the Mediterranean is now not an option.

 

York PSC members prior to their departure on a 'Viva Palestina' convoy in 2009.
Carol Pearman in the centre. http://tiny.cc/69dncw

Predictably, Ms. Pearman is keen to add her signature to campaigns against nefarious Zionist activities such as exhibiting Israeli scientific achievements in British museums. She also appears to have some business interests in the Middle East.

Terry Gallogly is a familiar name to many. Besides being Secretary (and former Chair) of the York PSC and a member of the Green Party, he is also an organizer of the ‘Stop the JNF’ campaign and accuses the JNF of attempting to “greenwash its ethnic cleansing”.

Gallogly also campaigned for a boycott by British unions of the Histadrut – Israel’s main labour union – describing it as “this appalling apparatus of the Zionist structure”. As a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s national executive committee, he was involved in 2007 in bringing a member of Neturei Karta to give a lecture entitled “Anti-Zionism is not Anti-Semitism” at British universities during ‘Palestine Awareness Week’.

Gallogly’s main claim to fame, however, is his 2010 attempt to rig an online poll conducted by the Jewish Chronicle in order to create the impression that British Jews are racists. 

Amazingly, the MP for York Central, Hugh Bayley, is backing Gallogly et al in this attempt to interfere with the right of another country to exercise control over its own borders. That may or may not be connected to Gallogly’s additional activity as regional coordinator for a lobbying group known as Coordin8.

Members of several other PSC branches in the north of England are planning to accompany the ‘Air Flotilla 2′ delegates to Manchester airport, already in ‘spontaneous demonstration’ mode. 

‘Air Flotilla 2′ Participants – the trailer (Anti-Zionist ‘activists’ consumed by hate)

If, by any chance, you’ve been wondering what sort of people will be taking part in next Sunday’s Air Flotilla 2, then here’s an opportunity to meet three of the delegation from Greater Manchester. All three are connected to the Manchester Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

This is also an opportunity to record the number of typical anti-Israel campaigner buzz words such as ‘ghettoised’, ‘ethnic cleansing’, ‘apartheid wall’ or ‘total siege’, along with the number of downright lies such as ‘Israel steals Palestinian water and sells it back to them’ or ‘no access to health-care’  which can be squeezed into just under 12 minutes.

Norma Turner is an advocate of the right of return , a campaigner for Stop the JNF and a promoter of BDS, having apparently attended the 2009 ‘Gaza Freedom March’ meeting which produced the Cairo Declaration. She is on record as agreeing with Ken O’Keefe’s claim that Israel was behind the murder of Vittorio Arrigoni and was one of the Manchester PSC members who showed up to bat for Caryl Churchill’s anti-Semitic play ’7 Jewish Children’ at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton in 2009.

Despite the claims by the ‘Air Flotilla 2′ organisers and participants that Palestinians cannot receive visitors, Turner appears to have travelled to Palestinian-controlled areas on at least three separate occasions, including a visit to Gaza as a member of a ‘Viva Palestina’ convoy.  

 The Manchester PSC organized a ‘Naqba Day’ demonstration outside the BBC building on Oxford Road last year.

“The group members said that that there was no particular reason why they held the rally outside the BBC, but they felt that the BBC did not present the Palestinian side of the debate as often as the Israeli side.

Criticisms of Nakba Day claim that it is marked by Palestinians to celebrate their alleged wishes for the dismantling of the Israeli state and the Jewish population.

Linda Clare, chair of the MPSC, claimed that this was not true at all.

She said: “What we want to see the end of is the Zionist state – you can’t be democratic and then say the country is for one group of people only.”

Norma Turner, 60, who is also a member, said: “We are not calling for the destruction of the Israeli people. People should live together and there should be peace and justice.”

The same BBC studios were also targeted by the Manchester PSC  – and Norma Turner – in 2010 following the Mavi Marmara incident.  

“Police were forced to secure the entrance to the BBC building on Oxford Road as anti-Israeli protesters tried to storm their way inside. Several arrests were made and windows were smashed. One protester attached a Palestinian flag to a BBC flagpole on the reception area’s roof during the demonstration. He was later led away by police. Oxford Road was closed and police dogs were brought in to control huge crowds. Protesters surged forward and attempted to smash through glass doors leading into the building. They were kept back by lines of police officers inside.

Palestinian support groups marched through the streets carrying placards and banners reading ‘Stop the massacre’ and ‘Free Gaza’. Norma Turner, from the Manchester Palestine Solidarity Committee, said: “This was an act of piracy. They went in to kill people and they know they can get away with it. “It’s time Israel was brought to book.”

Sandy Broadhurst from Stockport is a former member of the Labour party who quit due to being “enraged by the Iraq war”.

“It’s left quite a big hole in my life,” she says. “I go to [George Galloway's] Respect Coalition meetings now, but I’m not a member. I’m not sure they even have members. And I belong to groups such as Palestinian Solidarity, the anti-fascist people, stuff like that. But it’s not really filling the gap. “

Naturally, Broadhurst is also a supporter of BDS in its variety of forms and locations.

Pia Feig put her name to the ‘who’s who’ list of anti-Zionist British Jews who wrote to the Guardian in 2008 protesting Israel’s 60th anniversary. She is, of course, a member of ‘Jews for Justice for Palestinians’.

Commiserations to anyone who happens to be scheduled to fly from Manchester to Tel Aviv on Jet2 flight LS907 at 10 a.m. next Sunday morning. 

Israeli Jews characterized as Nazis on the ‘Air Flotilla 2′ Facebook account

A guest post by Hadar Sela

As mentioned in the recent CiF Watch report on the upcoming ‘Air Flotilla 2′ – otherwise known as ‘Welcome to Palestine’ – the initiative is supported by a plethora of groups from the United Kingdom, all of which are defined by their supposed ‘solidarity’ with the Palestinian cause as a raison d’etre. One of those groups is the Swansea Palestine Community Linkfrom South Wales.  

Members of that group are no strangers to the ‘flytilla’ concept, with several of them having taken part in the abortive 2011 provocation. As reported by CiF Watch at the time:

Joyce Irene Giblin of Newport represented (unsuccessfully) the Socialist Labour Party in the 2011 elections to the Welsh Assembly.  She is a member of ‘Swansea Action for Palestine’ and appears to support just about every anti-Israel outfit going, including ‘Jews against the Occupation’, Viva Palestina, the ECESG and the ISM. Here she is with her fellow flag-loving Newport resident. 

Joyce Giblin (left) and Pippa Bartolotti (right).

Also from Wales come the last two members of the British delegation to the ‘flytilla’: 46 year-old Swansea council worker Fiona Williams from Mumbles who is also involved in Swansea Action for Palestine and 56 year-old book-keeper Dee Murphy from Swansea who is a founder of the Swansea-Palestine Community Link.

Dee Murphy (left) and Fiona Williams (right)

Ms. Murphy seems to make quite a hobby out of getting herself arrested; she is half of what is apparently known as ‘the Tesco two’ and spent eight days in custody following a January 2009 incident in a local supermarket.

“The Tesco 2 are Dee Murphy and Greg Wilkinson who kicked off a campaign to boycott Israeli goods by going into their local Tesco store, filling a trolley with dates produced on illegal Zionist settlements on the West Bank, taking them out without paying, tipping the dates on the ground and spraying them with red dye, then waiting for the police to arrest them.”

Here is Dee Murphy explaining her actions at the time, prior to being arrested: 

Less than a month before that incident, Dee Murphy had super-glued herself to the entrance barriers at BBC Wales in Cardiff. Her fellow ‘flytilla’ memberFiona Williams told the press at the time that the reason for the action was that the BBC’s coverage of Operation Cast Lead was “pro-Israeli”.

“Hamas is referred to as a militant organisation, rather than the democratically elected government, having been elected by a huge majority.”

“The settlements in the West Bank should be referred to as illegal, the Israeli Defence Force as the Israeli Army, and the separation barrier as the apartheid wall.”

Here is Dee Murphy once again.

“So yes, they are shooting rockets into Israel, but these are an occupied people! And we all have the right to defend ourselves.” 

There is, however, a less quaintly eccentric side to these women, as can be seen in the casual (and apparently unremarkable) use of Nazi analogies on the ‘Welcome to Palestine’ Facebook wall. 

Whilst the majority of people might find it distinctly worrying that those who inhabit this echo-chamber can apparently see no fault in invoking antisemitic Nazi analogies as “legitimate criticism” and yet in the next breath declare themselves to be the victims of “spurious smear campaigns”, it is also worth remembering that they apparently have no criticism of their revered co-activist and local minor celeb  who sees nothing wrong in posing with of an existing Nazi party or withwho clearly state their genocidal aspirations.  

Pippa Bartolotti in Syria – posing with the flag of the SSNP

Pippa Bartolotti in Gaza – posing with Hamas’ Mahmoud al Zahar

Finally, a clue as to why Ms. Giblin sprang to the defense of Bartolotti in the above thread can be found on her list of friends displayed on her Facebook page:

(Note to Ms. Giblin: You may want to change your Facebook security settings!)

What the ladies of the Swansea Palestine Action Link obviously do not appreciate is that there is neither need nor intention to “smear” them. That, they are doing very effectively by themselves. 

CiF Watch Special Report: Latest Assault on Israel’s legitimacy, ‘Air Flotilla 2′, April 15th, 2012

A guest post by Hadar Sela (this report may also be viewed on scribd by clicking here)

Hot on the heels of the ‘Global March to Jerusalem’ will come yet another event designed to continue the assault on Israel’s legitimacy – the April 15th ‘Air Flotilla 2′ (also known as ‘Welcome to Palestine’) or flytilla‘ as last year’s  (Hamas approved) similar event was dubbed.

Once again, the aim is to have large numbers of international “activists flying in to Ben Gurion airport on one day – in the words of the organisers – as part of the “challenge to Israel’s illegal siege of Palestine”.

“There is no way into Palestine other than through Israeli control points. Israel has turned Palestine into a giant prison, but prisoners have a right to receive visitors.

Welcome to Palestine 2012 will again challenge Israel’s policy of isolating the West Bank while the settler paramilitaries and army commit brutal crimes against a virtually defenceless Palestinian civilian population.”

The similarity of the methodology and rhetoric of this project to that of the Global March to Jerusalem is no coincidence; several of the organisers and endorsers are mutual to both campaigns.  In fact, Mazin Qumsiyeh recently put out calls for volunteers for both projects on his blog, claiming that over 1,500 Europeans have already purchased tickets for April 15th whilst the overall target number appears to be 2,500.

Endorsers of the Air Flotilla include occasional Guardian contributor and ‘Right to Enter activist Sam Bahour, Tony Benn (controversial president of the ‘Stop the War Coalition’ which was involved in the GMJ) , Noam Chomsky (a GMJ endorser), Nazareth-based former Guardian journalist  Jonathan Cook, ‘Free Gaza’ and ISM activist Hedy Epstein and PA Ambassador Manuel Hassassian (whose mission promoted the Global March to Jerusalem).

Also on board are Ronnie Kasrils (a GMJ endorser), Nurit Peled, John Pilger, Jean Ziegler, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb ( a GMJ endorser), Susan Abulhawa (a GMJ endorser), Ali Abunimah (whose ‘electronic Intifada’ is promoting the Air Flotilla), Mustafa Barghouti (a GMJ organizer), Abdelfattah Abu Srour of the Al Rowwad Culltural Centre (which supported the 2011 flytilla and the GMJ) and Desmond Tutu (also a GMJ endorser).

Mustafa Barghouti’s ‘Palestinian National Initiative was also an endorser of the Global March to Jerusalem, as was The Siraj Centre (where Mazin Qumsiyeh is a member of the board) and the Palestine Justice Network which is currently involved in the organization of the Air Flotilla. The Palestine Justice Network solicits donations through the International Solidarity Campaign-linked ‘Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People’, of which Qumsiyeh is head.

In April 2011 the Palestine Justice Network launched its ‘One State Initiative’ and as can be seen from the endorsements, many of the names also appear on the list of those supporting or organising the ‘Welcome to Palestine’ campaign, as well as on the list of signatories of the Stuttgart Declaration.

In short, as was the case with the organisers of the Global March to Jerusalem, the Air Flotilla initiators are united by their rejection of the internationally-accepted route of negotiations aimed at leading to a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Their aim is an imposed ‘one-state solution’ which would result in the end of self-determination for the Jewish people.

A list of foreign organisations endorsing the Air Flotilla – predominantly from the United Kingdom – can be seen here. Among the individual endorsers is Maha Rahwanji of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign executive committee. The PSC was of course heavily involved in the organization of the Global March to Jerusalem. Something of Rahwanji‘s mindset can be understood from her Twitter timeline.

Unsurprisingly, the Iranian regime-linked ‘Islamic Human Rights Commission’ based in the UK is also promoting the ‘Welcome to Palestine’ project, as is Iran’s ‘Press TV’ – according to which “[t]his year, the Welcome to Palestine movement aims to overwhelm Israeli officials by its sheer number of members”.

Purveyor of anti-Semitic cartoons Carlos Latuff presented a gift to the campaign:

The ‘Welcome to Palestine’ campaign has no qualms about using the false – and highly charged – canard of ‘apartheid’ on its official website in order to curry support.

“Plans are underway to challenge Israeli apartheid during 2012 by having a large number of international activists land in Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport.”

The campaign’s supporting Twitter account – described as an ‘awareness campaign’ – goes even further, propagating lies and descending into anti-Semitic Nazi analogies.

The end-game of the ‘Welcome to Palestine’ Air Flotilla is, however, revealed in this Tweet:

One of the people operating the ‘Airflotilla2′ Twitter account and its online campaign in general is Gaza Strip-born Ayman Qwaider who is currently resident in Spain.

Before leaving Gaza to study abroad, Qwaider worked for the ‘European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza’ – a Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood project which is headed by UK-based Hamas operative  Mohammed Sawalha. Sawalha was instrumental in the organization of both the 2010 and 2011 flotillas and was also one of the organisers of the Global March to Jerusalem.

Ayman Qwaider has written for the Palestine Telegraph which is operated by Sameh Habeebwho is also spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza’ and connected to the Hamas-linked Palestinian Return Centre based in London which is proscribed by Israel.  Last year Qwaider was active in the flotilla campaign on behalf of the ‘Spanish Boat to Gaza’, including giving a talk at a Spanish university.

Part of the online support campaign for the ‘Airflotilla2′ initiative includes an e-mail campaign aimed at members of Parliament.

“Palestinians resist.  The British Government, however, joins with Israel to isolate the Palestinians while they are being dispossessed.  The UK Government, for example, refused to support the recent successful Palestinian bid to join UNESCO in the teeth of bitter US and Israeli opposition. The UK Government has also signalled it will oppose the Palestinian bid for full membership of the UN.

When our governments endorse illegal Israeli occupation, concerned citizens need to take action.”

The main difference between the Airflotilla2 and the Global March to Jerusalem is that the former is designed to appeal primarily – though not exclusively - to European audiences, as reflected in its campaigning and publicity which includes websites and advertising in various European  languages.

FRANCE : contact@bienvenuepalestine.com
UK : uk@bienvenuepalestine.com
SPAIN : pazahora1@gmail.com
ITALY : benvenutinpalestina2012@gmail.com
BELGIUM : bienvenuepalestine.wallonie.be@gmail.com / et pour Bruxelles (Brussels) : welcomepalestinebelgium@yahoo.com
GREECE : greece@welcometopalestine.info
USA: palestine2012us@gmail.com
PALESTINE : jneno@ejepal.org (school project) and info@palestinejn.org

In the Netherlands, Electronic Intifada’s Adri Nieuwhof appears to be utilising her connections within the ‘human rights’/international aid community in order to publicize the project.

Several of the ‘Airflotilla2′ organisers took part in last year’s failed flytilla including Myriam de Ly and David Dupire from Belgium and Mick Napier of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Events were held in Paris , Brussels and other European cities earlier this year to promote the campaign.

The final speaker in the video – Jaques Neno of the EJE (Les Enfants, le Jeu et l’Education) is also one of the project’s organisers, along with George N Rishmawi – co-founder of International Solidarity Movement (ISM), head of the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC), coordinator of the Siraj Centre and a former board member of the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between Peoples. As stated above, Airflotilla2 and GMJ organizer Mazin Qumsiyeh is connected to both the latter organisations.

Neno tells potential participants that they should expect three possible scenarios. The first is that they will get arrested.  In that case, according, to him “you have won because when Israel puts you in prison it shows how it becomes more and more fascist”.

The second scenario involves the activists being prevented from boarding their flights at the point of departure, as happened in many cases in 2011, but which Neno appears to consider unlikely this year. The third scenario is that they will reach their destination.

Obviously, provocation and bad public relations for Israel are yet again the real name of the game and several factors suggest that this latest publicity stunt aimed at undermining Israel’s legitimacy should not be taken lightly.

One of these factors is the date which, although originally planned to coincide with the anniversary of the death of ISM activist Vittorio Arrigoni, is also the day after the end of the Pessach holiday when Ben Gurion airport will be particularly busy with a large volume of travelers. For example, the UK airline Jet2 has added an additional flight to its usual schedule on that day which is probably aimed at returning Pessach visitors to Manchester, but is likely to be used by ‘Airflotilla2′ activists from Scotland and the north of England.

Another factor is the unverified claim by ‘Welcome to Palestine’ organisers (Palestine Justice Network) that following the 2011 flytilla during which the majority of activists were not permitted to board their flights, “[a]s a result of legal challenges, many European airlines not only fully refunded the tickets, but also agreed not to repeat the incident.”  In the event that airlines will refuse to transport the activists, demonstrations are already being planned.

The International Solidarity Movement in France is already very indignant regarding a statement put out recently by the French Foreign Ministry advising its citizens not to take part in the ‘Airflotilla2′.

The British government has similarly advised against participation in the project, but such recommendations are unlikely to make much of an impression on these activists, as can be seen by the reaction of the French organisers.

“We have no illusions about our leaders and the fact they eat in the hand of the Israeli occupation. We know how they behaved in July, and more generally how they refuse to apply international law and the principle of reciprocity, then they leave to enter France all Israelis who wish, including criminals war. They do not even defend French diplomats when they are humiliated, beaten or injured by the police or the IDF.”

“The method of intimidation will not work. Participants in the mission “Welcome to Palestine” have the right, justice and morality on their side. And they are aware of the seriousness of the situation for the Palestinians, every day more persecuted and dispossessed. They are not ashamed to go visit them. And to do head high, without lying, without going into the game of the occupant, which would wipe out Palestine and the Palestinians.

Gentlemen of the Quai d’Orsay, gentlemen of the government, history will record that you do not have much dignity.”

On the publicity front, the involvement of Ali Abunimah in this campaign means that we are likely to see a far more intense level of activity, particularly on social networks, than was the case with the Global March to Jerusalem which Abunimah and others shunned.

UPDATE, April 11th:

The full ‘Welcome to Palestine’ programme of events can be seen here. The stated aims of the project – building a school and a museum and refurbishing a kindergarten – appear to be confined to one day of activity, with the rest of the week’s visit dedicated to trips to various destinations and a seminar on the subject of “How to End the Occupation?”.

The organisation hoping to build a museum on the history of Palestinian refugees is the Al Rowwad Centre which was also involved in the organisation of the 2011 flytilla, is party to the BDS movement and was an endorser of the Global March to Jerusalem. Pictured below is one of its vehicles, bearing a logo which clearly rejects a negotiated two-state solution.