Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Beware Fake Humanitarians

Ahead of next Gaza flotilla, world should keep in mind dubious nature of previous vessels.

by Manfred Gerstenfeld

Almost a year ago it seemed - at least according to the world’s reactions - that an event of global proportions took place in the international waters not far from Israel. IDF naval soldiers landed on Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which was part of a flotilla of six vessels supposedly manned by humanitarians bringing aid to Gaza. After the Israelis were ferociously attacked as they lowered themselves onto the ship for security inspection, nine violent passengers were killed.

In recent months, apparently far less important incidents have taken place. Some who reacted last year have even remained silent to them. Many thousands of civilians have been killed or wounded by government forces in Muslim and Arab countries including Syria, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia. In Syria, more than 50 people were killed by the army in various cities during the weekend of 21 May alone. If the critics of Israel had reacted proportionally in line with their attacks on Israel in the flotilla affair, they would by now have totally exhausted themselves with condemnation fatigue.

The many global reprimands directed at Israel in the flotilla affair are just one more example of the widespread anti-Israeli bias in Europe. This was already clear when these statements were released. Israel had warned the flotilla organizers in advance that they would not be allowed to enter Gaza. Israeli officials had offered the flotilla docking privileges at the port of Ashdod. The Israeli authorities could then inspect the cargo for weapons and subsequently deliver the humanitarian goods to Gaza by land. The flotilla organizers’ refusal of those offers made it clear that provocation and not humanitarian action was their main aim.

The many global critics could have easily known by then that the main organizer and funder of the flotilla was the Turkish IHH. According to a 2006 report by the Danish Institute for International Studies, these pseudo-humanitarians had links to al-Qaeda and global Islamist networks during the 1990s. Baroness Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, was particularly diligent. Within a few short hours she rushed out a statement condemning the violence and demanding an immediate, full and impartial inquiry into the confrontation. She also called for an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

In another expression of extreme bias, on 17 June and with a huge majority, the European Parliament condemned the attack on the flotilla in international waters claiming that it was a breach of international law. By that time, there had been many opinions expressed by international law experts arguing that Israel’s actions were legal under the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea Convention. This condemnation thus became another example of prominent Europeans demonizing Israel.

Germany’s outrageous decree

On 2 June the German Parliament adopted an unprecedented resolution. It stated there was strong evidence that Israel violated the principle of proportionality in the raid. The resolution also claimed that the action did not serve the political and security interests of Israel.

One commentator pointed out that never before had the parliament issued a similar resolution - even against the most inhumane states in the world. The Simon Wiesenthal Center noted in a public statement that, “we heard no such unanimity from German politicians when Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists targeted Israeli civilians, including Holocaust survivors and their families.”

Gert Weisskirchen, an anti-Semitism expert and former German socialist parliamentarian wrote that before voting, the parliamentarians should have inquired as to who had organized the flotilla and which propaganda purposes it served. He wondered how the German parliament could possibly decide what served the interests of Israeli security. And even if it did, how could it make such a decision without an intense dialogue with the Knesset?

Among other European governments that blew up the incident to major proportions were Sweden, Norway, the UK, Greece, Belgium, Ireland, Portugal, Latvia and Spain. On the other hand, countries such as Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania took low-key positions.

Since then, many more facts about the flotilla and its organizers have been uncovered. Seven of the nine dead had expressed their wish to die as martyrs before they departed on the journey. Besides the IHH participants, there were also others on board with terrorist links. The Mavi Marmara, the main ship and two others transported people only and no aid. Part of the “aid” such as camouflage netting, was clearly meant for Hamas’ military purposes. Some samples of aid, such as medicine, were past their expiry date. Several passengers on the Mavi Marmara were armed and obviously prepared for violence. Weapons found on the ship were far from the norm for a ship purporting to contain humanitarian aid.

A recent study by investigative researcher Steven Merley, who specializes in political extremism, concluded that there is strong evidence of Turkish governmental involvement in the Gaza flotilla incident, including the office of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. The report states that Turkish government support for the flotilla was channeled through the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood network. This included the attendance of officials from Turkey’s ruling AKP party at many important Muslim Brotherhood network events in support of the flotilla, as well as a meeting by Erdogan himself with a delegation of Global Muslim Brotherhood and flotilla movement leaders from Britain and France shortly before th flotilla left port for Gaza.

There is currently an even bigger flotilla being prepared to sail toward Gaza in June, ostensibly to repeat last year’s provocation. By then, it is also most likely that much additional civilian blood will have flowed in the “Arab Spring.” Now is the appropriate time for Israel to launch a major information campaign before the next ships of fake humanitarians cum supporters of terrorism set sail.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld has published 20 books. Several of these deal with European attitudes toward Israel

Ynet News

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