Latest Blockade Busting Attempt off Gaza

.50-cal warning.

Alert readers may remember that Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, formerly the chief sponsor of the “Cordoba House” Islamic center near Ground Zero in Manhattan, has extensive ties to Islamism in Malaysia, which include serving on the board of the Perdana Global Peace Organization. Perdana is headed by Malaysia’s former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, a noted 9/11 Truther and anti-Semite.  Mahathir Mohamad was awarded special recognition from Yusuf al-Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, at the Muslim Brotherhood’s annual “Jerusalem” (al Quds) conference in early 2010.

Perdana was a major sponsor of the 2010 flotilla, which transported “activists” from the terrorist-affiliated Turkish organization IHH into the waters off Gaza in an attempt to break Israel’s naval blockade.  The blockade is in place to prevent the arming of Hamas, but it doesn’t prevent Gazans from having normal access to humanitarian or commercial goods, something demonstrated repeatedly by news organizations and attested to recently by the Red Cross.

16 May blockade-running attempt

Perdana is at it again, however.  On Monday 16 May, a Perdana-sponsored ship, M/V Finch, set out from the Egyptian port of El Arish in an attempt to break the blockade.  An Israeli patrol ship warned the Finch off, and when the master proceeded toward the coast in spite of the IDF order, the Israeli ship fired a warning shot (with a .50-cal deck gun, according to the media reports).  Finch was still recalcitrant, so the Israeli ship fired a second warning shot.

Malaysian media outlet Bernama has a summary here, which includes a transcript of the bridge-to-bridge conversation.  The IDF appears to have maintained protocol throughout.  The confrontation ended with the Finch back in Egyptian waters, under escort from the Egyptian navy.  (Referred to in the Bernama story as a “rescue.”)

2011 Gaza flotilla…

The latest information from planners of the international 2011 Gaza flotilla is that it will get underway the third week of June.  And as Legal Insurrection pointed out last fall, the spokeswoman for the Freedom Flotilla Coalition – one of the international groups arranging the flotilla – has already said the flotilla is not about humanitarian aid.  It’s about breaking the blockade.

The attempt to break the blockade with a multi-ship flotilla is the second of the major efforts planned against Israel in 2011.  The first – this past weekend’s Third Intifada/Nakba riots – was hampered by uncooperative national authorities in Lebanon and Egypt.  The lead-up to the flotilla drama in June may feature non-cooperation from the port authorities in Mediterranean countries as well (e.g., Greece).  But the hinge point is Turkey, which will have ships and participants again this year.

… waiting on Turkish election

Turkey’s long-anticipated general election, which will decide whether Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist party retain national leadership, is to be held on 12 June.  There was some confusion in the last several weeks as to whether the 2011 flotilla would be delayed until after the election, and it now appears that it will be.  Erdogan clearly doesn’t want the bad press from a flotilla incident – one in which Turkey has had a prominent role – to affect the voters’ decision.

But if Erdogan wins the 12 June vote, the flotilla planners will be emboldened.  For this and other reasons, the Turkish election bears watching.  Erdogan’s last electoral victory was by a substantially lower margin than his first, and his government has increased its repressions of speech and the press since then, as well as consolidating power in the executive by eliminating the independence of the judiciary.  Erdogan’s record, which includes his numerous openly Islamist statements, is better known to Turks than to Westerners; Turkish voters are well aware that a vote for his party means an effective end to the Kemalist tradition of liberal secularism in government and society.  If they hand him a victory in June, that outcome will be information about the majority sentiment in Turkey.

It is not clear what would happen if Erdogan’s Kemalist rivals were to gain the upper hand with the election.  That outcome – granted, an unlikely one – could affect the 2011 flotilla, whose planners are counting heavily on Turkey.  The election on 12 June will be a turning point from a number of perspectives.

“US Boat to Gaza”

Americans are planning to participate in the flotilla again, however, this time with a ship named Audacity of Hope.  The US-flagged ship in the 2010 flotilla was an 80-foot yacht, Challenger 1, but it is not clear what kind of ship Audacity of Hope is.  (If someone knows, please post.)  It will reportedly have more than 50 passengers, but they will meet the ship in the Mediterranean, so that’s not much of a clue as to ship type.

The “US Boat to Gaza” organization continues to hold fundraisers like the one scheduled for 25 May in Manhattan, which will include an evening cruise from the Skyports Marina and a grip-and-grin with “some of the passengers who will travel on the US BOAT TO GAZA, the Audacity of Hope.”  Our neighbors to the north are not being outdone in this: there is a Canadian “boat to Gaza” effort as well, which also features river-cruise fundraisers.  The Canadians have named their ship the Tahrir.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air’s Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, and The Weekly Standard online.

10 thoughts on “Latest Blockade Busting Attempt off Gaza”

  1. The Israel haters, it seems, can hardly be bothered anymore to try and convince anyone that they don’t want to destroy the Jewish State–maybe in the long run that’s a good thing.

    1. Breaking the blockade that israel has imposed upon Gaza is pretty damned far from attempting to destroy the Jewish State, adam.

      I’ve zero stomach for Hamas, but the blockade goes far beyond halting large arms.

  2. The blockade includes all kinds of military supplies. But the malls in Gaza are booming.
    Hamas is attempting to destroy the Jewish state; they say so themselves. Those who want to end Israel’s blockade know that it is a defensive measure against an inveterate enemy. But they don’t care. So what can we conclude except that they too want to see the destruction of Israel? Where else are their efforts tending?

    1. Margo, the blockade is aimed at more things than just the smuggling of military supplies. If the israelis were doing nothing more than attempting to stop the smuggling of arms, the US wouldn’t be voicing even the mild opposition to the blockade that is has to date offered.

  3. Yes the only point of breaking the blockade is to help hamas get more arms. Is there really any argument against this? Do those organizing the next flotilla say they do, indeed, want to keep arms out of the hands of Hamas? Are they proposing bettewr ways of doing it?

    1. No adam, there’s a very real motivation to break the blockade because it’s widely seen as more effective as a punitive measure against the ordinary folk of Gaza, particularly the ones unconnected to Hamas, and thus excluded from the patronage opportunities that exclusive control over the ‘tunnel economy” that has left Hamas monopolistic control.
      The tunnels have also allowed Hamas to receive sufficient arms, anyway, as the appearance of Grads has demonstrated.

      1. If you want to break the blockade you want ships to enter Gaza without Israeli inspection. If ships enter Gaza without Israeli inspection, anything can be on those ships. And I’ll repeat my previous question: does ANYONE associated with these attempts to break the blockade say anything like, anything that can even be generously translated as “we also don’t want Hamas to arm itself, but this is not the way–let’s try something else”?

        1. There are a lot of people who would like the weapons not to get in but also wish that Israel stops keeping out things for everyday life, the list used to include crayons, schoolbooks and pasta, as well as bags of cement.

          —“The United States has long urged Israel to ease restrictions on Gaza, where building materials, among other things, remain in chronic short supply and have slowed reconstruction for the territory’s 1.5 million residents.”—


          1. “There are a lot of people who would like the weapons not to get in but also wish that Israel stops keeping out things for everyday life, the list used to include crayons, schoolbooks and pasta, as well as bags of cement.”

            No doubt–but are these the people organizing the flotillas and actually trying to break the blockade? I am sure not, and for the reason that I keep repeating–they are trying to BREAK, not IMPROVE, the blockade.

  4. USS George H W Bush carrier group just docked for a three day port visit in Portsmouth, UK on it’s historic maiden voyage.

    Any possibility that the June 12 (?) Gaza flotilla will be staring at this carrier group engaged in interoperability ops off Haifa?
    Or will it be joining France’s Charles de Gaulle off the coast of Libya? Her captain just indicated this morning he would welcome another carrier.

    Looking forward to your enlightenment on the plans of this carrier group as it travels through the Med and eventually to the Persian Gulf.

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