Gaza Freedom Flotilla

Hundreds of participants are getting ready to get on board to deliver aid and challenge the siege of Gaza. Your attention and support will ensure they succeed and help keep them safe.

Statement from GPHRC

GPHRC statement: Glasgow Palestine Human Rights Campaign sends its wholehearted support and best wishes to the Freedom Flotilla Coalition @GazaFFlotilla as it sails in a valiant attempt to #BreakTheSiege of Gaza. The Flotilla will be seeking to breach Israel’s illegal and inhumane blockade, deliver vital aid, and assist the bombed and starving people of Gaza. This courageous voyage of humanity will be navigating waters that saw Israeli forces storm the Mavi Marmara aid ship in 2010, killing ten volunteers and injuring many more. Our fears for the Flotilla in international waters are heightened by the dangers it faces in trying to land its 5500 tonne cargo, given Israel’s already savage killing of over two hundred aid workers in Gaza. Israel has wilfully ignored recent International Court of Justice findings of a “plausible” genocide, and the court’s further ruling that Israel must stop blocking aid. This is why the world, and all truth-telling media, must be extra vigilant in observing and protecting the Flotilla throughout its hazardous journey. Amongst the hundreds of admirable international volunteers and human rights monitors aboard will be Margaret Pacetta, representing Glasgow Palestine Human Rights Campaign, which is part of GGEC. We wish all the Flotilla participants safe passage and successful delivery of their crucial cargo. Solidarity from Scotland with the Freedom Flotilla and all the people of Palestine. 

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Statement on CoFIS/GFI and SUTR

Statement on CoFIS/GFI and SUTR

Statements / By GGEC Admin

Throughout its existence, the Confederation of Friends of Israel (Scotland) (CoFIS) and its associate Glasgow Friends of Israel (GFI) have supported, promoted, and protected the state of Israel.

Supporting Israel means supporting all actions of Israel including but not limited to it’s historic crimes, illegal occupation, illegal settlements, apartheid state, ethnic cleansing, and genocidal killing of the Palestinian people.

CoFIS/GFI is understood to reject and deny:

• The Nakba as the primary catastrophe, displacement and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

• UN resolutions in support of Palestinian rights, notably the Palestinian right of return (GA 194), and withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Occupied Territories (UNSCR 242).

• All internationally informed opinion that Israel is an occupier state engaged in building, maintaining, and extending illegal settlements across the West Bank.

• That Israel is an apartheid state, as confirmed by Amnesty International and other leading human rights groups.

• That Israel has maintained an illegal siege over Gaza.

• That Israel is carrying out a genocide in Gaza, as detailed by South Africa before the International Court of Justice.

CoFIS/GFI pro-Israel Lobby

As part of the pro-Israel lobby in Scotland, CoFIS/GFI state that they are, ‘Pro-Israel, Pro-Palestinian’, Pro-Peace’, yet appear to blame Palestinians at large for their ‘self-inflicted’ suffering, while also denying that Palestine has ever existed.

CoFIS/GFI support right-wing bodies, Stand with Us and Christians United for Israel by dispensing their literature at street stalls.

Their social media postings denigrate protests for Gaza and against genocide as ‘hate marches’ motivated by antisemitism.

For all these reasons, GGEC view CoFIS/GFI as a deeply hostile entity that must be challenged and exposed as a supporter of Israel and all its crimes.

GGEC position regarding CoFIS/GFI and SUTR

As one of the leading bodies of Palestinian solidarity and support groups in Scotland, GGEC has consistently urged all political parties, politicians, trade unions, and other civil organisations to denounce the genocide and demonstrate their clear support for the people of Palestine.

We must therefore hold any and all professed anti-racism bodies to the same set of standards and expectations.

This is why we must call out the actions of anti-racism organisations who associate with CoFIS/GFI.

• For the past six years, CoFIS/GFI have been allowed to take part in the annual Stand Up to Racism (Scotland) (SUTR) march.

• Despite repeated appeals by pro-Palestinian and aligned bodies to prevent CoFIS/GFI’s participation in this event, SUTR has consistently refused to act on this matter.

• SUTR has shown no proactive effort to challenge, campaign against, or expose CoFIS/GFI.

• SUTR has sought to excuse this position by claiming it has ‘no policy on the Middle East’.

• Five months into the genocide and destruction of Gaza, SUTR has made no statement on the genocide, nor declared any form of support for the Palestinians.

For all the aforementioned reasons, GGEC asks that organisations stand with us:

• In boycotting the SUTR ‘anti-racism’ march on the 16th of March this year or any other year.

• In stating their position clearly in condemning SUTR and their lack of action regarding CoFIS/GFI.

• In holding fast to the position that SUTR marches and events that include CoFIS/GFI are contributing to the normalisation of Israel’s apartheid regime and genocidal crimes.

Israel’s apartheid outreach in Scotland

The Israeli Embassy in London has posted a vacancy for a new ‘Scotland Affairs Officer’. https://www.myjobscotland.gov.uk/organisations/embassy-israel/jobs/israel-scotland-affairs-officer-348158 Duties for this ‘outreach ambassador’ will include ‘‘cultivat[ing] relationships with various target audiences”, including the Scottish Parliament and other key political, religious, academic, media and civil institutions. Contrary to its ‘job description’, the real, deceitful purpose of this posting couldn’t be more obvious. The true remit will involve helping to extend the Israeli regime’s influence across such fields and platforms in a rearguard effort to stem its rapidly failing ‘reputation’ in Scotland. Not coincidentally, the Embassy appointment comes in the wake of the recent damning Amnesty report formally castigating Israel as an apartheid state. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2022/02/israels-system-of-apartheid/ It also signals the deepening inability of pro-Israel lobby groups and their political allies in Scotland to whitewash and disguise the regime’s mass crimes against occupied and besieged Palestinians, in order to stem Israel’s growing pariah status. If all major human rights organisations now concur with every Palestinian civil society body that Israel is practicing systematic racism, what’s preventing any ‘progressive’ parliament, institution or supposedly ‘anti-racist’ campaign group in Scotland from openly denouncing those same racist-supporting bodies and Embassy ‘ambassadors’? Alas, unlike rising public criticism of Israel across Scottish society, it is lamentably clear that the Scottish Government itself have been severely complicit in failing to challenge Israel and its apartheid apparatus. It’s unconditional acceptance of the deeply-troubling IHRA agenda on weaponised antisemitism is a crucial case in point. Which is why we are now seeing a concerted international rejection of this mendaciously-crafted document. https://www.hrw.org/news/2023/04/04/human-rights-and-other-civil-society-groups-urge-united-nations-respect-human It is hoped that all moral-standing MSPs and other leading figures in Scotland will intensify their efforts to contest this pernicious legislation, call-out Israel’s latest hasbara project, and expose its new apartheid ambassador at every opportunity. Glasgow Palestine Human Rights Campaign October 2023

The Freedom Flotilla arrives in Liverpool

We got woken up just before 5am with screaming get on deck, get on deck immediately.  The boats engines had flooded because of the bad weather and overheated

We were like a cork in a tornado storm 

Water was coming over the side as if it was flooding the deck, running downstairs, soaking everything, doors ripped off, things flying off wall.   It was very bad. As soon as we got on deck it was lifejackets etc on immediately.  Time for swim in ocean we thought.  We were still at sea and far enough we couldn’t contact anyone to help.   Thank god one of the Norwegians phone eventually got thro to coastguard and asking for help.  They kept in touch and gave advice how to help us re starting engine.    Eventually it worked so back on track for Liverpool.  We will all be kissing the ground when we get back.  Coastguards are constantly in touch

At this point we can actually see Liverpool. Thank god.   Still haven’t found the swimming pool or jacuzzi yet

The people on this flotilla are amazing and I cannot thank them enough for all their hard work.  They do 4 hour shifts right thro the day and night.  The engines packing in was obviously not planned.  It was described that the boat was like a cork in a hurricane.  Being tossed and turned over

A predictably pathetic attempt by CoFIS/GFI, aided by what, lamentably, passes for Daily Express ‘journalism’,

https://www.scottishdailyexpress.co.uk/news/scottish-news/cowardly-young-communists-who-confronted-29499368

A predictably pathetic attempt by CoFIS/GFI, aided by what, lamentably, passes for Daily Express ‘journalism’, to portray an entirely peaceful, non-threatening protest as some kind of menacing, anarchic, intimidation of their group, requiring police protection. It’s not even clear that the Express ‘reporter’ behind this ‘story’ was actually present, as it relies, seemingly, on the sole ‘evidence’ and facile claims of Mr Stein. Of course, as organisations precisely founded to whitewash and normalise the mass crimes committed by Israel’s murderous regime, it’s no surprise that CoFIS/GFI should resort to such spurious distortions. Likewise for a gutter ‘newspaper’ that cannot even bring itself to observe an event and report the most basic information. As many participants and others will testify, every single group partaking in this protest complied with police arrangements, stood their agreed ground, and expressed their right to free speech and peaceful assembly. Many in attendance will also verify that CoFIS/GFI members themselves could be seen ‘patrolling’ up and down the static protest line in a provocative manner. Consider also the hyperbolic language used by Stein, and adopted without question by the Express: “Cowardly young Communists”; “vitriolic and venomous”; “these thugs and hooligans”; “anger and rage”; “absurd demands”; “misguided and disillusioned radicals”. Stein was given further generous space by the Express to claim that his organisation’s only purpose at the event was to oppose racism. The SUTR organiser was also allowed room to condemn the counter-demo as ‘left undermining’ of its ‘anti-racist message’. Perhaps the Express could have found even a token line for some counter-views. If so, they would have been told about, and could even have risked linking to, the latest historic Amnesty report/campaign explicitly declaring Israel an apartheid state. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2022/02/israels-system-of-apartheid/
Is that not validation or reason enough to be protesting against Israel, its lobby organisations, and a supposed anti-racism group giving them approving cover? Might the Express have probed SUTR on why it claims to ‘hold no policy on the Middle East’? Might even dutiful Express readers have noticed the glaring contradiction of SUTR denouncing ALL racism, while accommodating CoFIS/GFI, bodies that openly castigate Amnesty’s own defining of Israel as a racist apartheid state? If SUTR was a truly fit-for-purpose anti-racist body, it would not just be refusing to facilitate CoFIS/GFI on its marches, it would be out there openly denouncing them, in line with Amnesty’s declaration on Israel, and positioning of the wide Palestinian solidarity movement. The brazenly loaded and distorted ‘coverage’ of this event by the Express tells us all we need to know about the reactionary nature of such media, and the political interests it serves. Again, it’s no surprise to see groups like CoFIS/GFI so closely bonded with it. One also wonders whether SUTR will ever show true anti-racist integrity, in refusing to collaborate with these shameful organisations and their tawdry media friends. All very unlikely. Yet none of this will ever dissuade us from continuing to call them out, as consistently requested by Palestinians themselves, bravely resisting Israel’s daily occupation, siege imprisonment and racist oppressions.

Gaza Freedom Flotilla in Glasgow

Freedom Flotilla’s ‘Handala’ in Glasgow – Will Challenge Blockade of Gaza

After crossing Loch Ness and reaching partway through the Caledonian Canal, the Freedom Flotilla boat Handala is currently delayed in the Laggan Locks area due to a broken swing bridge. This restriction has required last-minute changes to our itinerary.

“We were looking forward to being in Glasgow and meeting locals who stand for Palestinian human rights. We are inspired by the solidarity events organised there and we wish you could all meet Handala in person,” said Captain Herman Reksten, aboard Handala. “We will continue sailing as soon as we can, to challenge the inhumane and illegal blockade of Gaza. In all my sailing career I have never seen a border until I came into a harbour. The blockade of Gaza is an artificial offshore border created to oppress the Palestinians of Gaza, who are mostly children.”

Thursday evening in Glasgow, Dr. Swee Ang, who witnessed the Sabra and Shatila massacre and co-founded Medical Aid for Palestine, addressed a public event which was intended to welcome Handala. This British orthopaedic surgeon was the doctor on board the Freedom Flotilla vessel al-Awda (the Return) in 2018 when the Israeli Occupation Navy attacked and hijacked it en route to Gaza. Dr. Swee Ang was joined by Professor Graham Watt, Zohar Chamberlain Regev, Yvonne Ridley, as well as Mick Napier of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who commented “This bridge collapse and temporary confinement of the Handala is an unfortunate accident, whereas the Israelis forcibly confine the Palestinian people to deliberately cause maximum suffering.”

Other planned events this weekend will continue as announced, with participants from previous Flotilla missions present as well as participants from the boat currently stranded in the Caledonian Canal.

Gaza Flotilla meeting images Sunday 24th June