As death and destruction continue in Gaza under the ongoing Israeli siege of the Strip (see p6), the Free Gaza Movement (FGM) continues to plan siege-breaking journeys, despite splintering into two, as announced on 22 May. The FGM was established in 2006 to break the siege of Gaza by means of humanitarian and awareness-raising boat missions from Cyprus.
The following year, Greta Berlin and Mary Hughes, two of the FGM founders, were involved in the establishment of a Californian non-profit NGO called the “Association for Investment in Popular Action Committees” (ironically using the same acronym as the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee), which was to accept US tax-deductible donations on behalf of FGM. Together the organizations made their first successful boat mission to Gaza in August 2008.
However, following a meeting on the future of the organisation in November 2008, FGM and AIPAC ceased to work together, and Berlin and Hughes are no longer involved in AIPAC. The reasons for the split remain unclear.
Both operations are now operating under the name “Free Gaza Movement”. FGM Cyprus retains the website www.freegaza.org and the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. FGM California has set up a website: www.freegazamovement.org; and an email address: email@example.com.
Although the website of FGM California suggests that the organizations intend to work together through a grant agreement, FGM Cyprus have stated that despite several months of negotiations there is currently no funding agreement between the two organizations and that donations made from September 2008 have not contributed to their boat missions from Cyprus to Gaza.
As PN goes to print, FGM Cyprus is currently preparing its Hope Fleet mission – a flotilla of passenger and cargo ships which will set sail to Gaza at the end of May with the aim of once again smashing the siege. This will be followed by a “Freedom Riders” operation in the summer.