Flotilla Activism Hurts Chances for Peace

June 28, 2011 by Jason Edelstein
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Another round of “Flotilla Activism” aimed at inciting greater tension in the Arab-Israeli conflict is underway. Just like last year’s infamous Flotilla incident that resulted in nine deaths, this latest crop of flotilla participants – a fringe group of extremists working alongside terrorists – is more concerned with their own PR and promoting hate, violence, and chaos, rather than on working with Israelis and Palestinians to find peaceful solutions to the conflict.

It is all the more shocking, therefore, that several European government-funded groups are either publicly supporting or participating in this stunt.

Like other tactics before, the flotilla simply is a continuation of the “Durban Strategy” to isolate Israel internationally because of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Numerous NGOs are contributing to the strategy’s implementation.  This includes the Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions (ICAHD) – funded by the European Union (EU), Spain, and the governments of the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland via the NGO Development Center (NDC) –  and the Alternative Information Center (AIC), which is funded by Diakonia (Sweden), and ICCO (the Netherlands).

Additionally, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is supporting the flotilla. It is funded by the European Union and the governments of Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway; NDC, and numerous private organizations, including Ford Foundation (USA), International Commission of Jurists (Sweden), and George Soros’s Open Society Foundations (OSI – US). Why European governments are lending support to this anti-peace initiative is incomprehensible.

Ironically, many of these individual governments, along with the European Union, have stated their strong opposition to the flotilla. The EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Kristalina Georgieva, on May 18, 2011 declared, “We are not in favor of attempts to help people in this way. One needs to work with the authorities in Israel in order to transfer humanitarian aid via the formal channels…” Similarly, Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal told Dutch Parliament on April 28, 2011: “The Dutch government will unambiguously say that we are against this flotilla…”

Furthermore, under international law, UN member states, as mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 1373, must “prohibit their nationals or any persons and entities within their territories from making any funds, financial assets or economic resources or financial or other related services available” for terrorist activities.

Clearly, then, European funding of NGOs participating in the flotilla is contrary to government policy and to common sense. The individual governments and the EU should therefore freeze funding to these NGOs and launch investigations regarding their funding of NGOs active in these activities.

In addition to these government-funded NGOs, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which led the 2010 Flotilla and is also centrally involved this year, has a history of supporting “armed struggle” and initiating violent confrontations with Israeli soldiers. Regarding these provocations, co-founders Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro once wrote that deaths from Palestinian “resistance” 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 other words, peace and humanitarian aid are not the primary motivation of flotilla organizers – partly because there is no need for a humanitarian mission to Gaza.

As reconfirmed by Mathilde Redmant, deputy director of the Red Cross in Gaza, on April 21, 2011, “There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.” Humanitarian aid reaches Gaza through multiple routes, including the hundreds of tons of goods that Israel trucks in each week.  Additionally, Israel has agreed to deliver any humanitarian aid to Gaza after inspection at the border.

The flotilla, therefore, fills no great humanitarian void, but is clearly designed to provoke Israel and expand the Durban process. And now, taxpayer euros are funding this activity that contradicts Europe’s policies vis-à-vis the Arab-Israeli conflict. Rather than contribute to this cause, European funding instead should reward NGOs whose efforts truly do work towards the goals of peace and coexistence.

Jason Edelstein is communications director of NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institution that tracks NGOs that claim to protect human rights, particularly in the Middle East.



4 Responses to “Flotilla Activism Hurts Chances for Peace”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:

    Neil is absolutely right !
    Neil is describing a Hamas that is passionate about peace and coexistence with Israel, as a recognised state of the Jewish people in which,as it happens, some 20% of the population is identical to the Hamas supporters, meaning arabs. Neil is absolutely right that Israel has been involved in obstructing Hamas in constructing a Gaza on a model of ethical superlatives. Neil is right that, yet another flotilla is further evidence that highly principled people from numerous countries and proffessions are simply demonstrating that Israel is incapable to come to terms with civilised behaviour.

    I am a devout extremme right wing Zionist who strogly believes that, considering Neil’s arguments, his condition, the best way to go about my passion and devotion for my Eretz Israel is to agree with Neil while making 100% sure that the lights stay always ON in Neil’s bedroom!!!

  2. Neil says:

    Was this article a joke? It was so full of mistruths that makes it laughable. To describe these people as “a fringe group of extremists working alongside terrorists” is laughable. Many of them have a long history of working towards peace. They are aligned with the people of Gaza and not Hamas. The supplies they take are for the people. They are not missiles or arms. It is obvious that the current regime in control of Israel is in breach of a number of international laws with it’s behavior so it has no legitimacy in speaking for Jews around the world. If the regime in Israel had any sense, it would help to build a port in Gaza to facilitate the two state solution that it agrees with. The current narrative about the actions of Hamas are obviously untrue. Hamas has made and maintained truces with Israel. It is Israel that has broken those truces for political reasons. The main one was to undertake a massacre in Gaza with Cast Lead. Shooting fish in a barrel is a reasonable description of what the regime in Israel did at that time. This article is to prime the world for the killing that Israel seems to undertake every time that it has a conflict with non Jews. Shame on them.

  3. Enoch says:

    A quick note for Raymond: The aggressor in the conflict is clearly the one who (1) refuses to acknowledge the others right to exist and (2) deliberately aims to kill and glorify the killing of civilians. Why should the western world be lining up to support a group (Hamas) who mourned the death of Bin Laden, handed out sweets to celebrate 9/11 and who would no doubt be very supportive of the Bali bombers, Taliban and other radicals?

  4. Raymond Deane says:

    Your definition of peace is clearly as follows: passive acquiescence in the Israeli project to acquire as much Palestinian land as possible with the smallest number of Palestinian Arabs, the Occupation and the illegal blockade of Gaza being maintained in the meantime. Actually, it’s people like you who impede any kind of progress on this issue by your utter complicity with the aggressor.

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