Ship to Gaza: The latest Scandinavian stunt?

You’ve got to hand it to the publicly funded pro- Hamas and anti-Israel lobby. They sure know how to score an own goal.

Mavi Marmara le 26 décembre 2010 (photo credit: Reuters)
Mavi Marmara le 26 décembre 2010
(photo credit: Reuters)
You’ve got to hand it to the publicly funded pro- Hamas and anti-Israel lobby that goes by the name of “Ship to Gaza.” They sure know how to score an own goal.
“Ship to Gaza” is a Scandinavian (mostly Swedish and Norwegian) organization, part of the infamous “Freedom Flotilla” that routinely attempts to break Israel’s legal blockade of the Hamas-run terrorist enclave in the Gaza Strip.
A couple of days ago the latest “Ship to Gaza” venture, the SV Estelle, weighed anchor and set sail from Gothenburg in Sweden to Gaza. It started its voyage by sailing first to Oslo in Norway, which is about as much in the wrong direction as can be – but then everything about this propaganda exercise is ill-conceived and poorly executed.
“Ship to Gaza” claims to want an end to the “humanitarian crisis in Gaza.” Its fanatical, virulently anti-Israel collaborators from Sweden and Norway refuse to comment on or even acknowledge the fact that Gaza is being marketed by none other than Hamas as a luxury destination for Arab tourists on account of its 5-star hotels, lavish shopping malls, Olympic-standard swimming pools, acclaimed restaurants and wonderful beaches (albeit patrolled by Hamas to enforce modest Islamic dress code – but only for female bathers). Truth is an inconvenient obstacle to propaganda.
Indeed, the Red Cross unequivocally stated more than a year ago that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
The Red Cross is supported in its statement by Palestinian strongman Mohammed Dahlan, who says Gaza is “not lacking anything” – and he should know better than a group of well-funded conspiracy theorists living in far-off Oslo and Stockholm.
“Ship to Gaza” sets sail to support the Hamas regime at the same time as Egypt under Islamist President Mohamed Mursi accuses Islamist Hamas of aiding the attack that left 16 Egyptian soldiers dead a week ago.
Egypt has accordingly shut the border crossing between Egypt and Gaza and is in the process of using heavy machinery to demolish the myriad smuggling tunnels under the border that are the financial mainstay of the Hamas regime.
Ordinary Egyptians are venting their anger against the Gaza regime, saying “There is nothing called Palestine.”
Interestingly, this is a view to which Hamas officially subscribes, itself stating unequivocally that there are no Palestinians, that the Gaza Arabs are in fact Egyptian, Yemeni and Saudi immigrants.
One-time Palestinian Authority leader Mohammed Dahlan, formerly based in the Gaza Strip until his ouster by Hamas, says “Hamas is laying siege to the Gaza Strip, and neither Hamas nor the people at “Ship to Gaza” disagree with him.
Of course, the “siege” of Gaza is not total – Israel transits all Gaza’s legal imports of food, medicine, building materials, fuel and so on, and admits increasing numbers of Gaza inhabitants for hospital treatment in Israel – facts that Scandinavia’s “Ship to Gaza” crew conveniently ignore.
With excruciating timing, this is when they instead choose to embark on an embarrassingly out-of-sync voyage of solidarity with the Hamas regime. Talk about being out of touch with reality.
So just who are the people behind “Ship to Gaza”? They are extreme-left ideologues, armchair revolutionaries and Islamist supporters who express no desire to engage in any “Ship to Syria” voyage to aid the beleaguered Palestinian refugees in that war-torn country, or “Ship to Lebanon” to come to the aid of Palestinians there who are prevented by apartheid law from owning property or engaging in certain professions. Nor do they embark on a “Ship to Saudi Arabia” voyage to protest against the fact that the Islamist Kingdom of Saudi Arabia actually has apartheid roads on which non-Muslims are not allowed to travel. Apparently this is not overtly racist enough to trouble the selective conscience of the “Ship to Gaza” people.
Imagine if the US had roads on which black people were prohibited from driving, or if in Israel there were roads on which Muslims were banned from travelling. By law! The Swedes and Norwegians behind “Ship to Gaza” don’t seem particularly interested in human rights in the Muslim world, only in delegitimizing the Jewish state.
To gain some understanding of the peculiarly Scandinavian ideologies behind the “Ship to Gaza” movement, it is worth noting that one of its foremost supporters, Norwegian self-titled “peace scholar” Johan Galtung, was recently suspended by the Swiss World Peace Academy after he remarked that Jews control the world media and that the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion should be on everyone’s must-read list. It is not the first time Galtung has expressed similarly controversial views.
Galtung’s expulsion was motivated by his “reckless and offensive statements to questions that are specifically sensitive for Jews.”
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and author of Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews, notes that anti-Semitism and anti- Israeli invective are more common in Scandinavia than anywhere in the non-Muslim world. The Scandinavians behind “Ship to Gaza” have an excruciating ability to pick the worst ideologies and the worst ideologues, but then that is what defines their organization.
A parallel take on the virulent atmosphere against Jews and Israel in Scandinavia – an atmosphere that inspires and funds “Ship to Gaza” – can be noted in Elliott Abrams’s excellent Weekly Standard op-ed, “Scandinavia and the Jews.”
Indeed, the anti-Semitic aura is so rife in parts of Scandinavia that the Simon Wiesenthal Center recently took the unprecedented step of issuing an advisory against travel to Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest city, because Islamist sentiment fanned by controversial mayor Ilmar Reepalu is forcing the city’s Jews to leave en masse. So troubling is the situation that US President Barack Obama’s special advisor on anti-Semitism, Hannah Rosenthal, was sent to Malmö to have discussions with the city’s unrepentant mayor Reepalu.
Scandinavia is thus securing its place as a bastion of anti-Semitism and vicious anti-Israel sentiment, and it is here that “Ship to Gaza” gains its nourishment, finances and support.
With Egypt now sealing its Gaza border and no other way out being available, perhaps this is the one time Israel should make an exception to its rule and actually allow the SV Estelle to dock in Gaza – and its cargo of human propagandists to languish forever in the Gaza Strip to which they are so keen to travel.
The writer is the deputy chairman of the West Sweden branch of the Sweden-Israel Friendship Association.