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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/23/11

Stop Israel Spying on International Citizen Activists and Their Organizations

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Message Felice Gelman

According to the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, the Israeli government created a new Military Intelligence (MI) unit several months ago that is dedicated to monitoring left-wing groups. Military Intelligence officials said...

"The new MI unit will monitor Western groups involved in boycotting Israel, divesting from it or imposing sanctions on it. The unit will also collect information about groups that attempt to bring war crime or other charges against high-ranking Israeli officials, and examine possible links between such organizations and terror groups."

Its aim is to stop the planned next International Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which is set to sail this spring. This unit will "monitor" foreign nationals opposed to its policies, including the flotilla organizers.

In the United States, citizen activists with The U.S. Boat to Gaza campaign will sail in the flotilla on a boat called The Audacity of Hope. The U.S. boat will be one of approximately 15 boats that will sail in a flotilla to Gaza with people from more than 22 countries.

This non-violent, international flotilla will sail near the one-year anniversary of the May, 2010 flotilla that was brutally attacked by the IDF who killed nine people and injured more than 50 others.

As one of the organizers of The Audacity of Hope, I am outraged that the Israeli government is monitoring people in this country, as well as in other nations -- people who are doing nothing illegal or threatening to that government.

Gail Miller, one of the organizers, said...

"If the Israeli government is worried about so-called 'delegitimization,' they should put an end to their immoral siege against the people of Gaza. Instead of monitoring people in other countries, the Israeli government should be ending their illegal, counterproductive, and often violent policies towards Palestinians and internationals protesting peacefully.

"Israeli authorities seem intent on silencing dissent from within and without. If Israel believes that infiltrating, spying on, and perhaps once again attacking, groups of un-armed human rights advocates in international waters or elsewhere is going to serve Israel's interest or lessen criticism of its unsustainable policies they are wrong."

Jane Hirschmann, another of The Audacity of Hope organizers, stated...

"The U.S. Boat to Gaza and the international flotilla is committed to non-violently bringing attention to Israel's policy of siege, blockade, and occupation. We are not attacking or harming Israel, nor will we enter Israeli territory. Our plan is to sail peacefully to Gaza as part of a humanitarian mission consistent with U.S. and global values rooted in international law and human rights. If that is a crime in the eyes of Israeli officials then perhaps the U.S. government should re-assess the amount of diplomatic, military and financial support that U.S. taxpayers provide Israel with annually."

As organizers of the U.S. Boat to Gaza, we believe these new actions by Israel should be responded to quickly by the U.S. government and the international community. Our government cannot sit quietly by as the armed forces of another nation announce their plans to monitor U.S. citizens. Instead, we demand that the U.S. government insist that Israeli government monitoring immediately end, and that non-violent activities are not met with brutal or deadly force by the Israeli forces.

The Audacity of Hope plans on sailing in the late spring, carrying U.S. citizens to the Gaza Strip as part of the International Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The goal of this journey is to create and strengthen ties with civil society and human rights groups in the coastal strip, which is home to 1.5 million Palestinians, most of whom are refugees. In addition, the flotilla hopes to shed light on the collective punishment the Israeli blockade and siege has imposed on the people of Gaza.

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Felice Gelman is a member of the Wespac Middle East Committee. She led a delegation to visit Gaza in May 2009, and helped organize The Gaza Freedom March in December 2009 which brought 1500 people to Cairo in an effort to open the borders to Gaza. (more...)
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Stop Israel Spying on International Citizen Activists and Their Organizations

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