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Friday, October 9, 2015

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Free Gaza co-founder tweets antisemitic message

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TORONTO — A founder of the Free Gaza Movement last week mistakenly revealed herself publicly to be a Holocaust revisionist.

Greta Berlin, who co-founded the U.S.-based group in 2006, posted a Sept. 30 Twitter comment to @freegazaorg, the group’s official feed, that read: “Zionists operated the concentration camps and helped murder millions of innocent Jews.”

The post also contained a link to a video of a speech by Eustace Mullins, a noted antisemitic conspiracy theorist who died in 2010, claiming that the word Nazi is an amalgam of the words “National socialism” and “Zionist,” and that Adolf Hitler and Europe’s Zionists conspired together to eradicate non-Zionist Jews.

The post was later deleted, but not before Avi Mayer, a staffer at the Jewish Agency for Israel, grabbed screenshots of it and disseminated it through his own social networking platforms.

Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), called Berlin’s comment “one of the most vile expressions of antisemitism that we have seen in recent memory.

“It is also further evidence of the relentlessly toxic and destructive orientation of Israel’s detractors,” he told The CJN. “To suggest that Jews were responsible for the Holocaust goes beyond Jew hatred. It speaks to the depths of inhumanity that those spearheading the anti-Israel movement are willing to plummet.”

Although she later deleted the post, Berlin apologized for having made it public, stating that the message had been intended only for people on her personal Facebook list.

“Facebook attached the [Facebook twitter] account to my personal account. It should have gone to the [Facebook] account. My apologies,” she told the National Post.

“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 Oct 3.  

Shortly after Berlin’s post, commenters on the Free Gaza Twitter site began accusing Berlin and the whole Free Gaza Movement of being antisemitic.

The movement is the main organizer of the Gaza flotillas that aim to challenge Israel’s maritime authority off the coast of the Gaza Strip.

One U.S. blogger also stumbled upon a cached Sept. 21 Free Gaza tweet that linked to Im Wald von Katyn, a 1943 Nazi propaganda film.

In separate Twitter messages, Free Gaza’s chair, Huwaida Arraf, called Berlin’s post “offensive” and supported her apology. Shortly thereafter, Arraf alerted followers on her social networking site that she had resigned her position.

In subsequent Twitter exchanges, Mayer asked Arraf whether her resignation had anything to do with the furor over Berlin’s comments. He also challenged her to further denounce the content of Berlin’s initial post and asked whether the controversial co-founder would remain with the organization.

Arraf’s tweeted response to Mayer and his assiduous documenting of the whole affair: “U must have nothing better to do. Pathetic.”

Berlin is currently on a Canadian speaking tour to promote her book Freedom Sailors, the chronicle of her group’s inaugural 2008 flotilla journey.

Queries by The CJN to Berlin were not returned by deadline.

She spoke in Montreal and Ottawa last week and is scheduled to speak in Nanaimo, B.C., on Oct. 23 and in Vancouver at Simon Fraser University’s Harbourfront Centre on Oct. 24.

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