By Martha O’Connor
The Free Gaza Movement advertises itself on its website as “a human rights group that in August 2008 sent the first international boats to land in the port of Gaza in 41 years.” Most media outlets continue to portray the group as a benevolent and even constructive organization committed to advancing the cause of peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Consider the letter (below) that was sent by the Hamas Minister of Youth and Sport, Dr. Bassem Naim, dated November 1, 2007 and written on official stationery, inviting Dr. Paul Larudee and the Free Gaza Movement “to help lift the siege of Gaza.”
The invitation was no mere gesture, because Dr. Larudee and the other participants in the first Gaza flotilla actually ran through the Israeli blockade on August 24, 2008 and met with the leadership of Hamas, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The photos below show members of the Free Gaza Movement in Gaza City proudly receiving medals from Haniyeh himself before a large poster of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem! In the first two photos, Dr. Larudee is seated second from left, and Haniyeh is seated at center in a pale blue shirt, surrounded by more than a dozen “activists” interspersed with Hamas killer goons.
After their top-level meeting with one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations, whose charter explicitly calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and jihad and against the Jewish people, Dr. Larudee and his friends returned to the their homes and happily announced to the world that they successfully broke through the Israeli blockade. Yet they made every effort to conceal their meeting with Hamas, the climax and true aim of their mission. In fact, the meeting (more like a summit) is absent from the FGM website and from virtually all reportage on the Free Gaza Movement — that is, until now.
One local Bay Area news channel exhibited (for about a second) one of the photos above and for the first time revealed the Free Gaza-Hamas connection to the general public. When questioned by a reporter about the meeting with Hamas, Dr. Larudee visibly swallowed hard and acknowledged the event, unapologetically. He had been unmasked, and soon the world would know of his connections to Palestinian terrorism.
Let us be clear. The Free Gaza Movement from its beginnings has enjoyed intimate ties with the leadership of Hamas and, through its acceptance of Prime Minister Haniyeh’s hospitality and his medals of recognition, has given its sanction to the terrorist group’s nefarious strategic objectives. Dr. Larudee and his “peace activist” friends are much worse than frauds, or even useful idiots. They are philo-terrorist extremists who, as is clear from their behavior during the last ill-fated flotilla sailing, are prepared to give their lives in support of the Islamist cause.
Let us hope that their 501c3 status will be revoked and that their California-based leaders will be prosecuted by the government of the United States of America for violating the U.S. Neutrality Act, among other serious crimes.