How the Dutch Gaza Flotilla Backfired Politically
On May 14 De Telegraaf published another article in which reporter Bart Olmer revealed tapes from the minutes of meetings of the Nederland-Gaza movement’s board proving that Amin Abu Rashed was the driving force behind fundraising for the Dutch boat.
Last week, another Dutch daily, Trouw, ran an article in which Hasna el Maroudi, a reporter for left-wing sites, pointed to Abu Rashed’s central role in the operation despite the attempts of the Nederland-Gaza group to hide that fact. As a result, she decided not to sail on the boat. Another journalist, Wilfred van de Poll, also pulled out after Rashed told him in an interview that he had purchased the boat and admitted to connections between the Nederland-Gaza organization and Hamas.
Then a group of clerics and members from the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN) organized a petition demanding an end to ties between the Protestant NGO Kerk in Actie and Sabeel after it was shown that officials of Kerk in Actie collaborated with Sabeel -- an Arab-Christian group -- in propagating blatant lies about Israel.
Other Internet media reports about ties between Dutch NGOs and extremist Palestinian groups caused the Dutch government to change the guidelines on government subsidies for NGOs that fund anti-Israel groups. There is now a debate in the country over cutting back sharply on such funding.
While these developments have exposed the Gaza flotilla as an operation of Hamas and radical left groups seeking to delegitimize and discredit Israel, they also have much broader significance. What has happened in Holland is a case study showing how Internet publications and research on the hidden radicalism and extremist ties of purportedly humanitarian and moderate groups can change government policy, media attitudes, and public opinion.