Will Free Gaza implode due to anti-Semitism scandal?

Analysis: Critics slam movement founder for posting on Twitter blaming Zionists for Holocaust.

Mavi Marmara 311 (photo credit: Stringer Turkey / Reuters)
Mavi Marmara 311
(photo credit: Stringer Turkey / Reuters)
The Free Gaza Movement, a pro-Palestinian group that seeks to break Israel’s legal blockade of the Gaza Strip, is embroiled in an anti-Semitism scandal that has produced rifts within the group as well as intense criticism from Middle East experts.
Greta Berlin, the US co-founder of FGM, posted on Twitter in late September that “Zionists operated the concentration camps and helped murder millions of innocent Jews.”
Her tweet appeared on the Free Gaza Twitter account with a link to a video from Eustace Mullins, who declared that Adolf Hitler formed an alliance with Zionists “to force anti- Zionists to accept Zionism.”
Avi Mayer, the head of social media for the Jewish Agency for Israel, first exposed Berlin’s tweet blaming Jews for the Holocaust and saved it as a screenshot.
Berlin, a fiercely anti-Zionist activist, issued convoluted and rambling explanations about her tweet, including that the Mullins video was merely meant for a private Facebook discussion group.
Berlin wrote, ”I am not a Holocaust denier. And I am not a supporter of the video that I posted, nor would I ever have been.”
Critics argued that Free Gaza’s trafficking in Holocaust revisionism and Nazi propaganda shows the organization is neither interested in peace promotion nor the well-being of ordinary Palestinians in the radical Islamic enclave of Gaza.
Speaking with The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday via telephone, US Middle East expert Daniel Pipes said he encountered Berlin in 2007 when she disrupted a talk he delivered with Wafa Sultan on “Totalitarian Islam’s Threat to the West” at the University of California at Los Angeles. He said he “found her maliciously deranged” and the “tweet confirms that sense I got from her in person.”
In an email to the Post on Wednesday, Sam Schulman, a contributor to the Weekly Standard, wrote, “Avi Mayer’s work was helpful in revealing the mentality attracted to profoundly anti-Semitic enterprises like freegazaorg.“ Schulman added “ But some have allowed themselves to be drawn in to a charade in which freegaza ‘denazifies’ itself, and then presents itself as reformed. You don’t have to be pro-Hitler to be murderously and mendaciously anti-Semitic and pro-war.”
Free Gaza Movement member and Canadian author Naomi Klein tweeted last week that “I have resigned from the Advisory Board of the Free Gaza Movement. Still support mission but leadership has changed since I signed up.”
Gerald Steinberg, the head of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, wrote in the Post on Wednesday that “The so-Free Gaza Movement, like other anarchist and radical political groups, tend to give platforms to individuals with intense personal agendas and issues. This magnetic attraction for fringe personalities like Greta Berlin is particularly acute in hard-core anti-Israel frameworks related to BDS and delegitimization.”
He continued that “The FGM has lost any of their remaining credibility after the 2010 flotilla fiasco – and the same is true for the Jewish Voices for Peace (a fringe closely linked to FGM and BDS).”
The growing assessments about the future of FGM suggest that the organization has experienced irreparable harm and is now viewed as a kind of left wing neo-Nazi group. The open questions are, will FGM’s supporters pull the plug on its fundraising streams and will additional FGM advisory board members–like the US linguist Noam Chomsky and Archbishop Theodosius (Atallah) Hanna from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem–resign from the FGM?