Humanitarian Mission or Publicity Stunt?

By Mike Fegelman

August 4, 2009

In June, former US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and several other pro-Palestinian “human rights” activists set sail for the Gaza Strip from Cyprus on the “Free Gaza” boat “The Spirit of Humanity” in an attempt to “break the Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territory” and deliver “humanitarian supplies” to Gazan residents. As the boat was attempting illegal entry into Gazan coastal waters, the vessel was intercepted by the Israeli navy and crewmembers were detained by Israeli authorities. Responding to news of “Free Gaza” crew member Cynthia McKinney’s release from an Israeli prison, letter writer Rebecca Gingrich wrote of her outrage in the Guelph Mercury and accused Israel of an “act of war”:  

Guelp Mercury (before)

Was the “Free Gaza” boat on a “humanitarian mission”, as is claimed by Ms. Gingrich and “Free Gaza” proponents worldwide, or was the trip a publicity stunt aimed at tarnishing Israel’s image in the media?


As the following exchange of letters between the “Free Gaza” movement and Israel’s Foreign Ministry proves, members of the movement had been warned by the Israeli government not to break the naval blockade of Gaza and were offered assistance by the Israeli government in the transfer of their “humanitarian aid” to Gazan residents:

“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.

We would like to point 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.

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.”

Why has the “Free Gaza” movement consistently chosen the risky voyages to Gaza in defiance of Israeli law when its “humanitarian aid” could have been delivered to Gazan residents with Israeli agreement? One can only conclude that this effort is simply the latest in a long line of publicity stunts by pro-Palestinian activists bent on maligning the State of Israel in the court of international public opinion.

HRC Intern Vicky Tobianah set the record straight in this July 29th letter to the Editor. Vicky takes letter writer Rebecca Gingrich to task and explains why it was necessary for Israel to seize the “Free Gaza” ship:

Guelp Mercury (after)


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