JERUSALEM – An impressionable activist who lives in a western country and hears from a Rabbi that Israel is starving the people of Gaza would be well motivated to hop on a boat to help out the people of Gaza.Indeed, the violence and deaths that occurred on ships en route to Gaza on May 31 resulted from a systematic campaign of misinformation which conveyed the specious notion that the people of Gaza were starving. Flying to Cyprus in August 2008 to cover the first FreeGaza.org press launch for The Bulletin, it was there and then that the first FreeGaza.org boat was launched. 

Jeff Halper, an Israeli American community organizer, initiator of the FreeGaza.org campaign, opened the FreeGaza.org press conference in Cyprus, stating in a matter of fact comment that “people in Gaza wake up every morning without food or medicine.” Mr. Halper’s remarks were taped on The Bulletin tape recorder for posterity.

Over the past two years, Mr. Halper coordinated a campaign to spread the rumor of deprivation Gaza with 62 Rabbis, many of who are affiliated with the Rabbis for Human Rights, who then pioneered a new organization and Web site where they actually hold monthly fasts for the deprived people of Gaza. The representative of this effort in Philadelphia is Rabbi Arthur Waskow, head of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia.
The founder of Rabbis for Human Rights, Rabbi David Foreman vigorously objected to spreading any notion that there was deprivation of food and medical supplies in Gaza. 



Writing in the JWeekly in California and in the Jerusalem Post last September 2009, Rabbi Foreman described the Web site as “anti-Zionist, bordering on anti-Semitism,” and asked uncomfortable questions, “How well have these rabbis examined the blockade?… Do they think that concern about arms smuggling is completely bogus?… Do they consider that the blockade justifies shooting at Israelis, while Israel’s response deserves wholesale condemnation? Rabbi Foreman concluded that their Web site implies that “that they care not at all about an objective critique of an Israel that should be “a light unto the nations,” but rather care only about painting Israel as an “evil empire,” thereby justifying their and others’ blatant assault on the very legitimacy of a Jewish state. 


Rabbi Foreman died on May 3, and was not around to act as a moderating force when ships sailed on their mission on May 30th. 

Instead, the man who now speaks for the Rabbis for Human Rights, Rabbi Arik Ascherman, wrote a passionate letter on May 28 to Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak to allow the boats to enter Gaza, where Rabbi Ascherman repeated the mantra of the “humanitarian crisis” facing the population of Gaza. The audiotape of Mr. Halper’s opening remarks in August 2008 is filed at the Beit Agron International Press Center, along with statements of those who spread the lie to the world over the past two years that a humanitarian crisis was afoot in Gaza. These files await the formation of a Commission of Inquiry that must be formed to determine how the rumor of starvation in Gaza was systematically and successfully marketed by a few Israeli citizens to the media outlets, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and diplomatic missions of the entire world, sparking the greatest international disgrace for Israel in recent memory. 



The first step should be for people – lawyers, social workers, medical professionals, and media experts – to offer their services to help put together the rudiments of a commission of inquiry.

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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