Sailing Into a Publicity Stunt

freegazamovementThe Daily Telegraph reports on the latest developments surrounding two boats from the Free Gaza Movement attempting to “break the siege of Gaza”. However, a closer look at the background and motivations of these so-called “peace activists” exposes an anti-Israel publicity stunt.

  • Who is behind the Free Gaza Movement?

As NGO Monitor points out, the organisation is a coalition of groups such as the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM), the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR).

ISM has a shameful record of placing foreign nationals in danger through encouraging ‘direct action’, which resulted in the death of American citizen Rachel Corrie. In 2003, ISM’s extreme ideology was underscored when terrorists, originating from the UK, used ISM as a cover to attack Mike’s Place bar in Tel Aviv, murdering three people. More recently, ISM has been a leading force in the violent protests against the security barrier at Ni’lin, while an ISM activist has been jailed in the US, charged with “giving about $20,000 to a group he knew supported Hamas.”

jeffhalperMeanwhile, ICAHD manipulates the language of human rights to promote a similar political agenda. Under the facade of human rights, ICAHD routinely refers to Israel as an ‘apartheid’ state while Jeff Halper, ICAHD’s Director promotes a one-state solution which would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

  • Humanitarian mission or political publicity stunt?

An exchange of letters is published on Free Gaza’s own website between the organisation and Israel’s Foreign Ministry, which states:

We assume that your intentions are good but, in fact, the result of your action is that you are supporting the regime of a terrorist organization in Gaza…

We have received information that you are planning to bring humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. We would like to bring to your attention that the transfer of humanitarian aid to Israel is effected, at present, through agreed-upon channels, and the Israeli authorities will ensure that the shipment reaches its destination via the land crossing points. We will be happy to assist you in this endeavor.

If your intentions are good, please choose this way; if you do not intend to deliver the humanitarian aid via Israel , this proves that your goal is political and constitutes the legitimization of a terrorist organization.

So why has the Free Gaza Movement chosen to raise $300,000 for its voyage when its humanitarian aid could have been delivered to Gaza with Israeli agreement?

  • “Embedded media”

At the beginning of August, the BBC’s website included a “diary entry” from reporter Rachid Sekkai, apparently sailing on board one of Free Gaza’s boats. Now, however, the updated story contains the following:

An earlier version of this story was billed as a diary entry. We will not now be covering the voyage in the format of a diary, but we will continue to report on its progress.

Did the BBC pull the plug on Sekkai’s overly intimate involvement after realising that its journalistic objectivity was being called into question?

yvonneridleyOne journalist with no such ethical qualms is Iranian Press TV’s Yvonne Ridley, on board making a documentary on the voyage. Ridley, hardly the epitome of a neutral observer is also a hardened extremist, for example addressing an Islamist hate rally, expressing support for Hezbollah and calling for a boycott of companies who do business with Israel, stating that “drinking Coca Cola is like drinking the blood of Palestinian children.”

Incredibly, Ridley now accuses Israel of attempting to sabotage Free Gaza’s voyage, blaming Mossad for the firing of Qassam rockets into Israel from Gaza!

Also on board stoking up further publicity and combining a role as both journalist and activist is Lauren Booth, sister-in-law of former British prime minister Tony Blair.

  • A political agenda

The anti-Israel agendas of some of those behind Free Gaza have already been mentioned. In addition, despite the fact that many of the activists and organisations behind Free Gaza hold no real sympathies towards the US and certainly not towards its military, one of the boats has been named the SS Liberty after the US Navy ship USS Liberty, accidentally and tragically attacked by Israeli jets during the Six-Day War.

Ten official United States investigations and three official Israeli inquiries have all conclusively established the attack was a tragic mistake. Despite this, anti-Israel activists have continuously smeared Israel by accusing her of deliberately attacking the Liberty.

During its voyage, Free Gaza will be commemorating the dead sailors of the USS Liberty. When was the last time “peace activists” memorialised military personnel (particularly US servicemen)?

  • Israel’s right to prevent Free Gaza’s boats from entering Gazan waters

The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel’s navy has been instructed to turn back the two boats:

Israeli officials said Sunday that the Mediterranean waters around Gaza fell under Israeli sovereignty due to an agreement with the Palestinian Authority. Gaza has also been declared a combat zone, giving the navy the legal right to patrol the sea around the Strip, the officials said.

In its letter to Free Gaza, the Israeli Foreign Ministry points out that:

the area to which you are planning to sail is the subject of an advisory notice that has been published by the Israeli Navy, which warns all foreign vessels to remain clear of the designated maritime zone off the coast of Gaza in light of the current security situation.

We certainly hope that the Free Gaza Movement will avoid a deliberate confrontation with the Israeli Navy although this may very well occur as these activists seek maximum publicity with which to damage Israel’s image.

As the boats get closer to their intended destination, please be prepared to respond should the media willingly fall for the Free Gaza Movement’s obvious publicity stunt.


guardian2006See HonestReporting’s communique highlighting how The Guardian’s online “Israel and the Palestinians” section includes the “Hamas military wing” as one of a list of “Useful links”. The website links directly to an English language site of “Ezedeen Al-Qassam Brigades”, which describes itself as “the armed branch of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).”

Read HonestReporting’s full communique here.

HR UK’s previous communique asked you to write to The Guardian requesting that a correction be made to an obituary for Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. The Guardian has still not published a correction.

Please again e-mail the readers’ editor at to correct this mistake.