The Jerusalem Post informs us of plans to stage another episode of maritime agitprop in 2023:
“Members of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition have held meetings in London to plan the next flotilla from Europe to Gaza, which is set to sail next year in an attempt to break the naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.
According to the coalition, the meeting was sponsored by the Palestinian Forum in Britain. It also said it was attended by representatives of the international coalition in multiple European countries, such as those from New Zealand, Malaysia, Turkey, Canada, the US and South Africa. The International Committee to Break the Siege on Gaza also attended.”
The Palestinian Forum in Britain (PFB) made a similar announcement on its Facebook page:
As well as being president of the ‘International Committee for Breaking the Siege on Gaza’ and “a founding member of the Freedom Flotilla”, Zaher Birawi is also the chairman of the PFB. Birawi was designated by Israel in 2013 due to his Hamas links.
A former spokesman for George Galloway’s discredited ‘Viva Palestina’, Birawi has been involved in the organisation of flotillas several times in the past. He was also among the organisers of the 2012 ‘Global March to Jerusalem’ and the 2018 ‘Great Return March’. Birawi also works for the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated ‘Al Hiwar’ satellite TV station which operates out of the UK.
The “solidarity institutions” mentioned in the PFB’s Facebook post likewise have notable connections.
The ‘Popular Conference of Palestinians Abroad’ is designated by Israel on the grounds that it is “a proxy” for Hamas. Its spokesman Ziyad al Aloul is also UK based and was involved with the 2010 flotilla and others.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign regularly collaborates with Hamas linked organisations in anti-Israel activities such as demonstrations and its activists have taken part in previous flotillas and convoys to the Gaza Strip.
Of course none of the above is new: information concerning the activities of Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood linked organisations in the UK has been in the public domain for years. What has changed however since the last failed flotilla agitprop in 2018 is that Hamas in its entirety was proscribed as a terrorist group by the UK government in November 2021.
As was noted here ahead of the commencement of the 2018 ‘Great Return March’, the BBC showed no interest in informing its audiences of the British connections to the events under that banner which it reported copiously. The corporation has likewise ignored the topic of UK-based organisers of the various flotillas over the years.
In 2017 Zaher Birawi gave an interview to a Hamas newspaper in which he admitted that the purpose of the flotillas is to generate media coverage:
“Birawi added that despite the difficulties, the main objective of dispatching ships to the Gaza Strip is for their propaganda value, to keep the issues of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and breaking the “siege” alive in public discourse, and to continue to defame Israel (the “occupying entity,” according to Birawi). He claimed that the true test of the success of the flotillas is not whether or not they reach the Gaza Strip, but the coverage of the political and media campaigns accompanying them.”
If a 2023 flotilla does set sail, any British media outlet choosing to cover that story – including of course the nation’s national broadcaster – should be obliged to ensure that the connections of the UK based organisers to a terrorist group now proscribed by the UK government are made perfectly clear to the British public, including lawmakers.