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October 5, 2012

Free Gaza Founder Embraced by Jewish Groups Despite Recent Anti-Semitic Tweet

Update, October 10, 2012: Jewish Voice for Peace issued a statement on October 7 announcing that it  is “disassociating ourselves from sponsorship of Berlin’s current book tour in the U.S.” and would no longer endorse Free Gaza Movement-related activity. The statement described Berlin’s explanations and apology as inadequate, saying “We unfortunately don’t think her responses adequately address our concern about circulating anti-semitic materials.”

Greta Berlin, the co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement (FGM), is planning to visit the West Coast next week to promote her new book, Freedom Sailors, which is about the travails of the Free Gaza Movement and its boat campaigns to Gaza. Two Jewish anti-Zionist groups based in Los Angeles, Jewish Voice for Peace-LA and LA Jews for Peace, are sponsoring one of her appearances, which will take place next Thursday, October 11, at the Levantine Cultural Center. 

Last week, Berlin posted a virulently anti-Semitic tweet to the FGM Twitter account, which she operates, that claimed that Zionists “operated the concentration camps.” The tweet has since sparked significant media attention and outrage, even from some anti-Israel activists. Berlin and FGM subsequently apologized, claiming that the tweet was an accident and was only intended for Berlin’s Facebook page.

Berlin initially claimed that she had not watched the video, which was titled “Zionists operated the concentration camps and helped murder millions of innocent Jews,” and was unaware of its content. Later, FGM issued an apology on its website offering a different reason for the alleged oversight. The statement claimed that the post was intended to be received by a group of people on her Facebook page who were in the midst of a discussion about “propaganda and racism.” There is no evidence of this discussion on Berlin’s Facebook page.

In fact, Berlin’s Facebook page contains several other recent hateful postings. On the same day Berlin posted the offending tweet, she posted a picture to her Facebook page of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shaking the hand of a member of the anti-Zionist group Neturei Karta. Berlin added the following commentary: “if he hated jews so much, as he is often accused of, would he be warmly greeting some of them? what he hates is zionism, and so do i!”

Berlin is also scheduled to make several other speaking appearances next week to promote her book, including an appearance at UCLA, and various stops in the Pacific Northwest.

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