The Free Gaza Movement, a U.S.-based activist group known for provisioning ships to run the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza, was hit with charges of anti-Semitism on Wednesday after posting a tweet claiming that Jews were responsible for the Holocaust.
“Zionists operated the concentration camps and helped murder millions of innocent Jews,” read a Tweet posted Sunday to @freegazaorg, the official Twitter feed of the group, which includes Canadian author Naomi Klein and Bishop Desmond Tutu on its board of advisors.
An embedded link led to a video of a speech by known conspiracy theorist Eustace Mullins claiming that the word Nazi is an amalgam of the words “National socialism” and “Zionist.”
“[Hitler] allied with the Zionist Party, and the mission of the Nazis was to force the anti-Zionist Jews to accept Zionism — and this is what the concentration camps were about,” said Mr. Mullins, who died of a stroke in 2010.
Although the tweet was eventually deleted, it was picked up on Monday by Avi Mayer, head of social media with the Jewish Agency for Israel. In a Wednesday blog post, Mr. Mayer posted a screenshot of the post along with a link to the video, which he claimed revealed Free Gaza as “the lowest anti-Semites.”
Within hours, the American founder of the movement, Greta Berlin, tweeted that she had intended only to publish the link to her private Facebook account, but it was accidentally redirected to the Free Gaza Twitter feed.
“I shared it without watching it. I am sorry that I just sent it forward without looking at it. It won’t happen again,” read a tweet from the Free Gaza Movement account, posted Wednesday afternoon.
When asked by the National Post if Free Gaza had been the victim of a hack, Ms. Berlin replied, “No. Facebook attached the [Facebook twitter] account to my personal account. It should have gone to the [Facebook] account. My apologies.”
When the Free Gaza Twitter feed began to pile up with accusations that Ms. Berlin was a “virulent jew hater “or had suffered a “Freudian slip,” she countered with “would suggest you concentrate on Israel’s genocidal policies. I’ve apologized. Have you?” The Free Gaza Twitter feed has lately referred to Israeli prime minister as “a complete lunatic,” promoted the view that a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians is equivalent to “racism,” and defended Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against charges of anti-Semitism.
As the tweet blaming Zionist Jews for orchestrating the Holocaust spread, U.S. blogger Adam Holland came upon a cached Free Gaza tweet from September 21 which linked to Im Wald von Katyn, a 1943 Nazi propaganda film.
Founded in 2006, Free Gaza was founded in the name of sending humanitarian aid to Gaza, in violation of the Israeli-Egyptian blockage of the region.
“We have not and will not ask for Israel’s permission,” reads the group’s website. “It is our intent to overcome this brutal siege through civil resistance and non-violent direct action, and establish a permanent sea lane between Gaza and the rest of the world.”
Israeli intelligence claims the group has ties to Islamist groups with possible terrorist links.
In 2010, nine flotilla activists were killed by Israeli troops who boarded their vessel once it entered the blockade zone. Israel claimed that the troops fired to protect themselves from club and knife-wielding activists, which Ms. Berlin called “a lie.”
“We never thought there would be any violence,” she said in comments published by the Daily Telegraph.
Currently, Ms. Berlin is on a Canadian tour to promote her book Freedom Sailors, an account of the group’s inaugural 2008 blockade breach. Appearing Tuesday night in Ottawa, she is scheduled to appear in Nanaimo and Vancouver later this month.