Jewish flotilla plans to break Gaza blockade

Another flotilla: Israelis take to the water on Monday to call for for the release of Gilad Shalit

Another flotilla: Israelis take to the water on Monday to call for for the release of Gilad Shalit

Community representatives have reacted with outrage to the news that an all-Jewish flotilla of anti-Israel campaigners is planning to sail to Gaza next month, pledging to break the blockade.

The flotilla, to be captained by the British sailor, Glyn Secker of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, will sail under the auspices of European Jews for a Just Peace (EJJP), an umbrella organisation of groups from 10 countries,

Mr Secker said it would show that "not all Jews support Israel" and would "say emphatically: not in our name".

Community representatives in Britain and Europe have reacted with anger to the group's claims to represent European Jewry and their intention to break the blockade.

Stephan Kramer, secretary general of Germany's Central Council of Jews, said: "With their actions these activists become naive and willing tools of the terrorists and enemies of Israel instead of humanitarian knights who come to rescue the people of Gaza, as they claim to be."

Jonathan Sacerdoti of the Zionist Federation said: "Obviously Glyn Secker speaks for himself and his small fringe group, but the vast majority of Jewish opinion in this country stands behind Israel.

"From his own statements it is clear his plans have nothing to do with humanitarian aid and everything to do with making a political point.

"The blockade is not an aim for Israel, it is a mechanism that is used successfully by Israel to stop weapons being imported into Gaza that would then be used on the civilian population. It's unfortunate Mr Secker and JfJfP feel that Israel does not have the right to defend its people."

A Board of Deputies spokesman said: "Copycat attempts to sail to Gaza are the clearest indication yet that fringe groups such as JfJfP are more concerned with publicity stunts than genuinely working towards a sustainable peace for both Israelis and Palestinians.

"The overwhelming majority of our community will look upon this as a disingenuous endeavour which will count headlines and mischief as its first priority and the delivery of aid as a distant second."

A European Jewish Congress spokeswoman said: "The EJJP represent no one but themselves. They claim to seek a 'just peace', but vehemently attack and oppose Israel. Only those with a message of peace and reconciliation and not hate can play a constructive role, which the EJJP clearly does not."

But Glyn Secker, of south east London, said his organisation had to "take a stand".

"The way Israel is treating the Palestinians is extremely immoral."

Mr Secker is a long-standing critic of Israel. Last year he wrote to the BBC criticising its decision to not broadcast the DEC appeal for Gaza.

In December he was a signatory of an open letter to the then Prime Minister which appeared in The Times, supporting the Goldstone Report.

EJJP said it aims to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza including schoolbooks, medicines, fishing nets and musical instruments.

If Israel requests the boat to dock at Ashdod for its cargo to be inspected, the flotilla would go "peacefully", the group said.

The boats are due to leave from an undisclosed Mediterranean harbour at the end of July. The EJJP would not give exact details for fear of sabotage.

On board will be approximately 40 activists, including an 85-year-old Israeli Holocaust survivor.

Last updated: 1:18pm, June 11 2010