The Jewish woman behind next Gaza flotilla

By Nathan Jeffay, April 7, 2011
Godfrey-Goldstein: sending a fleet next month

Godfrey-Goldstein: sending a fleet next month

Almost a year on from the Gaza-bound flotilla, pro-Palestinian activists are planning to send another fleet of ships to Gaza next month to challenge Israel's partial blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory. And one of the key players in the operation is a British-Jewish immigrant to Israel.

Veteran 'peace campaigner' Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, who made aliyah to Jerusalem from London 30 years ago, is an activist in the Free Gaza Movement, and the group's spokeswoman.

As the first organisation to send ships to break the blockade, the Free Gaza Movement was the inspiration for last year's flotilla. Since the international group started operating in 2008, it has sailed nine times to Gaza, docking on five occasions. Its ships were part of the last flotilla, and will be part of the upcoming one.

Ms Godfrey-Goldstein, one of a very small number of Israeli citizens involved in the Free Gaza Movement, acknowledges that many Israelis and diaspora Jews are uncomfortable with her passion for Gaza, and label her a self-hating Jew. "People have a whole lot of jargon - 'self-hating Jew,' 'de-legitimisation' - but these are just PR responses," she said. "They don't want to deal with the issues so they deflect them."

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to stop the forthcoming flotilla, and claimed that it is an act of provocation, especially given that Israel is now letting in many goods by land. But Ms Godfrey-Goldstein dismisses this argument. "It's not just about supplies, it's also about movement - about people leaving Gaza for their chemotherapy, dialysis and other needs," she argued.

Ms Godfrey-Goldstein claims that her concern for Gaza is rooted in "Jewish values" and argues that her activism is actually good for Israel as allowing free movement of goods and people will make Gazans less prone to radicalism. "I'm not pro-Palestinian or anti-Israel - I'm for the betterment of the whole region," she said.

Last updated: 12:25pm, April 7 2011