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image Je fais un don

by Shimon Samuels

Paris, 27 April 2024

Each January, I attended the World Social Forum (WSF) in Porto Alegre, Brazil, to discover the forthcoming trends in antisemitism and hate against Israel.

In 2010, the WSF was entering its 10th year of activity, with the main theme being “Palestine” and the preparation of “Flotilla and Flytilla campaigns to Gaza”. The discussion on the Flytilla (an “invasion” of pro-Palestinian militants through airlines) was a failure.

The Flotilla campaign held a session to find an “appropriate and evocative” name. Finally, the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” was chosen, allegedly to bring humanitarian aid to the Strip.

There were over 600 activists involved and a total of eight ships, including four heavy cargo boats and the Turkish “Mavi Marmara” passenger ferry as the lead ship.

At the time, IDF officials first invited the Flotilla to Ashdod for inspection, considering also the lack of a deep-water port in Gaza. Upon the Flotilla’s refusal, Israeli Navy commandos boarded the ship and were met with violence, assaulted by at least 40 militant crew members, armed with tactical gear, stun grenades, knives, wrenches and clubs.

The event stirred international protest and a media frenzy. Only later did investigations find out that the Flotilla’s intent was more political than humanitarian. For example, the medicines transported had expired even before the ships had set sail. The Flotilla’s Turkish sponsor, IHH, had been involved in al-Qaeda terror plots. Al-Jazeera broadcast footage showed Mavi Marmara activists calling for “battle against the Jews” and some activists had even posted online their intent to die as “martyrs of the cause”...

According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, the organizers met again in Turkey, claiming to put together another Flotilla “to break the Israeli blockade”, as an “act of civil disobedience” to “resist Israeli crimes”! The Istanbul gathering has launched an “International Campaign to Save Gaza” and disrupt the naval supply towards Israel. The organizers claimed ships were promised to them from Russia and Spain.

Even the Houthis seemed to be in on the plan, seeing how they are effectively hindering commercial traffic through the Red Sea. It was suggested to hijack a ship to join the “Free Gaza Flotilla”.

Since then, “the initiative” planned the largest boat to carry some 1,000 pro-Palestine politicians, journalists and antisemites.

Our objective was not only to ensure that the IDF be well aware of a possible incoming Flotilla, as another instrument of Hamas’ war against Israel, but that also “good-willed” governments and societies must be alerted. Despite the current postponement, we must be ready.

We have experienced hate, murder and rape first-hand on 7 October. Our mentor, Simon Wiesenthal, warned the World: “For your benefit, learn from our tragedy!”

Dr Shimon Samuels is Emeritus Director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

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Free the Hostages!

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