'Organizers of Gaza-bound catamaran have double standards'

Italian academic: These are the kind of things that get enlightened Jews agitated – if the alleged perpetrator is Israel.

Irene 311 (photo credit: IDF)
Irene 311
(photo credit: IDF)
An Italian academic has accused the organizers of the Gaza-bound catamaran that the Israel Navy intercepted on Tuesday of maintaining double standards, noting the irony of the boat setting sail from Northern Cyprus.
Writing in the US monthly Commentary this week, Dr. Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Washingtonbased think tank Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, noted that the Mavi Marmara- led flotilla had also used Northern Cyprus as a staging ground.
“Here’s the irony – Northern Cyprus is an illegally occupied territory that belongs to the EU as part of its member state, Cyprus. It was seized by force in 1974 by the Turkish army; its legal status as a fictionally independent state is only recognized by Turkey – the occupying power,” he said.
Ottolenghi added that Turkey forcibly removed hundreds of thousands of ethnic Greeks from that territory and settled its own population to permanently alter the ethnic balance of the area, “and, in the process, encouraged the building of what one could characterize as settlements.”
The Brussels-based academic, who taught at Oxford University and is the author of the book Under a Mushroom Cloud: Europe, Iran and the Bomb, said: “Now doesn’t this sound awfully familiar – the kind of accusations that organizations such as the Jews for Justice for Palestinians would routinely level at Israel’s presence in the West Bank and, until 2005, in Gaza? “These are the kind of things that get such enlightened Jews agitated enough that they need to spring into action – if the alleged perpetrator is Israel,” he said.
“If it is a country that bombs neighbors with impunity, uses heavy-handed tactics to fight what it brands as terrorists, while denying basic cultural rights to the ethnic minority that constitutes 20 percent of its population while it practices statesanctioned genocide denial, well then, its government is Islamist and its actively helps Hamas, so there’s no problem relying on their services and glossing on their blatant and continuing violations of international law to bash Israel,” Ottolenghi said.
Meanwhile, German attorney Nathan Gelbart, who heads the German branch of Keren Hayesod, on Tuesday sharply criticized the alleged humanitarian motivations of passengers who were aboard the Gaza-bound Irene.
German national Edith Lutz, one of those aboard, is accused of fabricating her religious background as a Jew, and Israeli Reuven Moskowitz allegedly lied about his Ph.D.
Gelbart told The Jerusalem Post with bitter sarcasm, “I welcome it when people are politically involved, even if, in order to improve their media image, they untruthfully claim to be Jews or to hold an academic degree.”
The Israel Navy seized the vessel on Tuesday, and the nine passengers from the US, Britain, Israel and Germany were detained at the Ashdod Port. The raid on the Irene did not result in any violence.
“However, it is regrettable that these self-proclaimed helpers are silent when, a few hundred meters from the Gaza Strip, Israeli towns are bombarded from the Gaza Strip for years, and in Gaza Palestinians are executed by Hamas kangaroo courts,” Gelbart added.
“But even the elite custodians of ‘Jewish wrongs’ must adhere to the relevant entry regulations during their planned trip and cannot claim entry to a foreign territory without passport and customs controls. Not in Hamburg, not in Haifa, and not in Gaza.”
Lutz, a 61-year old former teacher who claims to have converted to Judaism, is a member of European Jews for a Just Peace, a group of anti-Israel Jews in Germany. She is not, however, a member of any recognized or organized religious Jewish community in the Federal Republic.
Lutz wears a Star of David necklace.
An Israeli diplomat told the Post on Tuesday that Lutz is now in Israel. “She now has the option to be deported from Israel or go through the legal process in Israel. Her belongings are in Israel [and] will be handed to her when she leaves.
The Israeli authorities updated the German Embassy in Tel Aviv,” the diplomat said.
Reuven Moskowitz, an 82- year-old Israeli who traveled aboard the Irene, has been the target of criticism in Germany because he claimed to have earned a Ph.D title from the Free University of Berlin. After pro-Israel bloggers exposed his lack of a doctorate, Moskowitz stopped calling himself a professor.
Anti-Israel professors at the Free University in Berlin as well as organizations across Germany that oppose Israel have invited Moskowitz to speak over the years.