An anti-Israel coalition, some of whose members organized the Mavi Marmara flotilla, were encouraged by its results.

Issued on: 31/08/2010 Type: Article



A Facebook invitation to a Free Palestine Movement fundraiser for a series of new anti-Israel projects.
A Facebook invitation to a Free Palestine Movement fundraiser for a series of new anti-Israel projects. The organization is affiliated with the Free Gaza Movement, which played a major role in the Mavi Marmara flotilla in close collaboration with the Turkish IHH, and which is an important factor in new projects planned against Israel.

Overview

1. Accumulated information indicates that the anti-Israel coalition behind the Mavi Marmara flotilla to the Gaza Strip has spent the past three months promoting plans for new projects as part of a general campaign to smear Israel and erode its legitimacy. The projects include sending an upgraded flotilla (with more ships, more activists, more media personnel and more celebrities) and sending a plane to the Gaza Strip. All of the above are meant to raise the action threshold.

2. The anti-Israel coalition is ideologically heterogeneous, united by its hostility to Israel and desire to challenge and embarrass it to promote what it represents as "the rights of the Palestinians." In reality, it often promotes Hamas' political agenda in opposition to the interests of the Palestinian Authority.

3. At the coalition's ideological poles are, on the one hand, radical Islamic organizations and activists. Conspicuous among them are the (ideologically close) Muslim Brotherhood and the Turkish IHH, and other European Islamist organizations. On the other, are radical left organizations and activists whose hostility toward Israel is part of their ideological opposition to the West (especially the United States) and its values, and to globalization. Between the poles are human rights organizations and activists, trade unions, Jewish activists and even politicians who ride the wave of anti-Israel hostility to make personal and political capital. However, some of the organizations and activists genuinely identify with the Palestinians, while others are interested in promoting their own political agendas, particularly pro-Hamas.

4. The coalition includes a number of umbrella organizations which participated in organizing the Mavi Marmara flotilla. Prominent within the radical Muslim organizations are the Turkish IHH, which directed the recent flotilla, and the radical Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas' parent movement, which has a world-wide network including the Arab-Muslim world and Europe (especially Britain). They collaborate with several umbrella organizations operating in Europe and the United States under the title of "humanitarian" or "human rights" organizations, while in reality their activity is political, pro-Palestinian/pro-Hamas. Among those collaborating with the radical Islamic organizations within the coalition are the Free Gaza Movement (FGM) and the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which operate in Judea and Samaria, and the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG) (For further information, see the Appendices).

5.  For the aforementioned organizations, which inspired by the Goldstone Report, the Mavi Marmara flotilla was a watershed event (despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that nine Turkish IHH members were killed and dozens wounded). They share the following characteristics:

A. The Turkish IHH, which led the most recent flotilla, is capable of actions the other organizations are not because of the governmental support it receives from Turkey. The organization, which has branches throughout the world, made it possible for the coalition to enjoy financial support (which enabled it to launch a larger number of ships along with the Mavi Marmara), organizational support, media support and political support (which enabled the flotilla to greatly increase the pressure exerted on Israel).

B. The organizations and activists who joined the flotilla demonstrated the capability and desire to go beyond their local interests and collaborate to a great extent for the sake of promoting a joint anti-Israeli project, including taking risks (because of the expected Israeli opposition). That was manifested by months of preparation, mostly in Istanbul, which included coordination meetings of the representatives of the umbrella organizations of the coalition (the minutes of one of the meetings were seized on board the Mavi Marmara).

C. As far as the coalition was concerned, the results of the flotilla were extremely positive. They exceeded the individual "achievements" of the "routine" activity directed against Israel (sending convoys to the Gaza Strip, initiatives to boycott Israel, attempts to bring Israel's senior political and military figures to trial, propaganda projects). Because Israel was forced to change its policy toward the closure of the Gaza Strip, its public image was harmed, to this day its senior figures are under examination by Israeli and international investigations, and its relations with Turkey suffered a severe blow. However, some of those involved, including Hamas, are worried by the Israeli easing of the closure, which deflated some of the strategic momentum of the flotillas and harmed its ability to undermine Israel's legitimacy, which is at the center of the coalition's activity.

6. The anti-Israel coalition was joined by a small organization in California called the Free Palestine Movement (FPM). In our assessment it is closely linked to the Free Gaza Movement (FGM), and is possibly its front organization (because of legal considerations: in America supporting Hamas, which has been designated as a terrorist organization, is outlawed). The most prominent figure in the FPM is Dr. Paul Larudee (aka Paul Wilder). He is a radical leftist activist, anti-Israel and pro-Hamas, and is a co-founder of both the FGM and the ISM, and is in all probability still affiliated with them. He participated in the recent flotilla (and boasts of being one of its "survivors"). In the past he was involved in many ISM activities in Judea and Samaria, and expelled from Israel in 2006 (For further information about him and his organization, see Appendix I).

7. Paul Larudee recently held a FPM fund-raising dinner in California at which he elaborated a series of planned projects. He also referred to them in an interview with Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV and on the FPM's website, calling them part of the public relations war against Israel, which Israel can only lose.

8. The projects include increasing the number of American activists on the planned flotilla (of 10-20 ships), a permanent maritime presence of dozens of small boats and a supply ship off the Gaza coast, sending a plane to the Gaza Strip, flying 200 Palestinian volunteers on commercial planes to Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport to demand the so-called " right of return," and holding a concert for the benefit of the Palestinians in London and other locations in Europe, similar to the one held for Nelson Mandela in 1988 to protest apartheid in South Africa (For further information about planned projects, see Appendix II).

9. In our assessment, the projects for which the FPM is raising funds are not exclusive to the organization and reflect plans practical preparations which have been carried out in recent months by the anti-Israel coalition. The main plan is to send a large flotilla to the Gaza Strip called Freedom Fleet 2. It is being organized by the FGM, IHH and other umbrella organizations which participated in the Mavi Marmara flotilla (For further information see the Appendices). Organizations from other countries (Lebanon, Iran, Yemen) which are afraid of sending lone ships may join, and there may be individual ships or groups of ships from specific sectors intended to be difficult for the IDF to operate against (such as the Lebanese women's ship, a ship with clerics, a ship with Jewish passengers). In our assessment, the coalition is also making practical preparations for other projects, such as sending a plane to the Gaza Strip.

10. It is reasonable to assume that only some of the plans may eventually be implemented because of their organizers' constraints: they still have financial difficulties (the programs are more ambitious and more expensive than previous ones), political difficulties (the legitimacy of the flotillas has waned and most of the international community regards them as provocations liable to harm the peace process), and legal difficulties (especially in the United States). However, some of the coalition partners are highly motivated and enjoy governmental support from countries which include Iran and Syria.  They are determined to implement at least some of the planned projects to increase international pressure on Israel.

11. The Hamas movement is in contact with the hard core of coalition organizations and activists, directly or indirectly through Western activists and members of the Muslim Brotherhood around the globe. Hamas will probably try to encourage the coalition to execute spectacular projects in the upcoming months, regarding them not only as eroding Israel's legitimacy but as a means of disrupting the direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which Hamas strongly opposes.

12. Appendices

A. Appendix I: A list of the anti-Israel projects presented by the Free Palestine Movement (FPM)

B. Appendix II: The Free Palestine Movement (FPM) and its co-founder, Dr. Paul Larudee

C. Appendix III: The Free Gaza Movement (FGM)

D. Appendix IV: The International Solidarity Movement (ISM)

E. Appendix V: The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ESESG)

F: Appendix VI: The Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas' parent movement, and its British stronghold.

 

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