DAVID BEDEIN, DIRECTOR, ISRAEL RESOURCE NEWS AGENCY AND THE CENTER FOR NEAR EAST POLICY RESEARCH , WWW.ISRAELBEHINDTHENEWS.COM
Violence and deaths that occurred on ships en route to Gaza on May 31 resulted from a systematic campaign of misinformation which conveyed the specious notion that the people of Gaza are starving.
Flying to Cyprus in August 2008 to cover the first FREEGAZA.org press launch for the Philadelphia Bulletin, it was there and then that the first FREEGAZA.org boat was launched.
Jeff Halper, an Israeli American community organizer, initiator of the FreeGaza.org campaign, opened the FreeGaza.org press conference in Cyprus ,stating in a matter of fact comment that “people in Gaza wake up every morning without food or medicine”. Halper's remarks were taped on the Bulletin tape recorder for posterity.
Over the past two years, Halper coordinated a campaign to spread the rumor of deprivation Gaza with 62 Rabbis, many of who are affiliated with the Rabbis for Human Rights, who then pioneered a new organization and web site, “TANNIT TZEDEK”, http://fastforgaza.net/, where they actually hold monthly fasts for the deprived people of Gaza...with generous support from the New Israel Fund.
In the Philadelphia area, their guru is Arthur Waskow.
Yet the founder of Rabbis for Human Rights, Rabbi David Foreman objected to spreading the false notion that there was deprivation of food and medical supplies in Gaza.
Writing in the Jweekly in California and in the Jerusalem Post last September, 2009 , Rabbi Foreman described the web site as “anti-Zionist, bordering on anti-Semitism”., and asked uncomfortable questions, “How well have these rabbis examined the blockade?... Do they think that concern about arms smuggling is completely bogus?...Do they consider that the blockade justifies shooting at Israelis, while Israel’s response deserves wholesale condemnation? Rabbi Foreman concluded that their web site implies that “that they care not at all about an objective critique of an Israel that should be “a light unto the nations,” but rather care only about painting Israel as an “evil empire,” thereby justifying their and others’ blatant assault on the very legitimacy of a Jewish state.
Rabbi Foreman died on May 3, and was not around to act as a moderating force when ships sailed on their mission on May 30th.
Instead, the man who now speaks for the Rabbis for Human Rights, Rabbi Arik Ascherman, wrote a passionate letter on May 28 to Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak to allow the boats to enter Gaza, where Ascherman repeated the mantra of the “humanitarian crisis” facing the population of Gaza.
The audio tape of Halper's opening remarks in August 2008 is filed in a good place at the Beit Agron International Press Center, along with statments of those who spread the lie to the world over the past two years that a humanitarian crisis was afoot in Gaza.
These files await the formation of a Commission of Inquiry that must be formed to determine how the rumor of starvation in Gaza was systematically and successfully marketed by a few Israeli citizens to the media outlets, NGO's and diplomatic missions of the entire world, sparking the greatest international disgrace for Israel in recent memory.
The first step should be for people - lawyers, social workers, medical professionals, media experts - to offer their services to help put together the rudiments of a commission of inquiry.
The Center for Near East Policy Research, located at the Beit Agron International Press Center in Jerusalem, would be pleased to host a task force who purpose would be to facilitate the formation such a commission.