As the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ of aid ships to Gaza prepares to depart this week, a video published on Youtube accusing the Flotilla organizers of homophobic bias, which was immediately disseminated by the Israeli Government Press Office and Agencies, turned out to be a fabrication published by an intern in the Israeli Prime Minister’s office.In the video, a man identifying himself as “Marc Pax” claims that he has a “heartbreaking” story to tell, and describes how he tried to join the Freedom Flotilla, considering them to be ‘a cross between Che Guevara and Mother Teresa in a keffiyeh [Arab headscarf]’, but was rejected because he was gay. He then goes on to lambast the Hamas party in Gaza, the ‘Viva Palestinia’ greoup, and the IHH humanitarian aid group from Turkey that was part of last year’s flotilla, but not this year’s. He accuses the groups of homophobia and disrespect for human rights.
A cursory investigation by reporters revealed that ‘Marc Pax’ was actually Israeli actor Omer Gershon, who created a false video in an attempt to discredit the Flotilla. While it is unknown who bankrolled the professional-quality video, it was published online by Guy Seeman, an employee in the Israeli Prime Minister’s office. Moments after Seeman posted the video online, it was linked by the Israeli Government Press Office and other agencies and disseminated to their press contacts around the world.
The Israeli Government Press Office later rescinded its distribution of the video via a ‘tweet’ claiming that it had been ‘duped’ by the video.
Activists with the Freedom Flotilla say this is just the latest in a ‘dirty tricks campaign’ by the Israeli government attempting to discredit and prevent the aid ships from proceeding to Gaza to deliver much-needed humanitarian aid, and to publicize the plight of the people living under an Israeli-imposed siege in Gaza.
Last year’s ‘Freedom Flotilla’ was also subjected to fake videos published by the Israeli military and government. One of the videos, published on the Israeli military’s official YouTube channel, supposedly documented anti-Semitic statements made via radio transmission from the Flotilla. But in posting the fake video, the military failed to remove the original video, previously posted on their channel, which contained no such slurs.
Earlier this week, the Israeli government said that activists were planning to use ‘chemical weapons’ against attacking Israeli forces – a charge that the peace activists said was absurd, ridiculous and utterly unfounded in any reality. All contents of the ships have been thoroughly inspected and approved, and all of the participating peace activists have committed to non-violence, even if attacked by Israeli troops – as happened to a flotilla last year.
In addition, the Israeli government threatened journalists accompanying the flotilla with arrest and deportation (then later rescinded the threat), assured the activists that they will be attacked by the Israeli military if they proceed with the flotilla, and pushed United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon to issue a statement contradicting international law and Freedom of the Seas, saying that Israel has a right to ‘defend itself’ in international waters from a flotilla that has never had any intention of going anywhere near Israel, but only hopes to bring aid to the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli Shurat HaDin Law Center sent letters to worldwide maritime insurance firms and satellite communications companies, warning that companies that provide services that assist in the breach of the Israeli blockade on Gaza will be sued in the United States for aiding the Hamas terrorist organization. Sharut HaDin also filed a complaint against the US boat to Greek authorities claiming it lacked seaworthiness, prompting an additional inspection of the boat even though it had already been inspected.
Another of the flotilla boats was sabotaged Monday by unknown persons who dove under the boat and cut apart its propellor shaft.
Despite the attempts to stop the aid flotilla from getting through, activists say they plan to depart for Gaza this week.