Mon, April 11, 2011 | The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
UN Committee Grants Accreditation to the Anti-Israeli Pro-Hamas Free Palestine Movement
The Free Palestine Movement (FPM) is headed by Paul Larudee, an active participant in organizing flotillas to the Gaza Strip, including the upgraded one scheduled for May 2011.
In August 2010 the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People granted accreditation to the Free Palestine Movement (FPM), an extreme leftist network based in California which participates in anti-Israeli projects, focusing on sending flotillas to the Gaza Strip. Its objectives are to support the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, isolate Israel, blacken Israel’s image in the eyes of the world and increase international pressure on it.
The FPM is headed by Dr. Paul Larudee, who in 2009 was given an award by Ismail Haniya, head of the de facto administration in the Gaza Strip, in honor of his support. Paul Larudee applied for and received accreditation from the UN committee as an NGO member of the “network of civil society organizations active on the question of Palestine.”
Following the receipt of accreditation, the FPM added “A United Nations Accredited NGO” to its letterhead. In our assessment, the FPM regards the accreditation as a kind of UN stamp of approval for itself and its anti-Israeli projects, particularly the flotillas (Wolfgang Grieger, the committee secretary, ended the letter by wishing the FPM “every success in [its] endeavours in support of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine.”)
Profile of the FPM and its leader, Paul Larudee
The Free Palestine Movement (FPM) is a California-based network rooted in America’s extreme left, with several branches throughout the United States. It describes itself as a human rights organization, but in reality it deals with political propaganda to slander Israel and erode its legitimacy, and with anti-Israeli activities, furthering Hamas’ political agenda.
The FPM’s most prominent figure, and in effect the moving spirit behind its activities, is Dr. Paul Larudee. He is a radical leftist activist, hostile to Israel. He has a PhD in languages from Georgetown University. He was a co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement (FGM) and the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), both networks which play a key role in the international campaign to delegitimize Israel.
Several years ago, Paul Larudee wrote an article expressing understanding for the suicide bombers’ motives. Between 2002 and 2003, acting for the ISM, he visited Judea and Samaria and participated in anti-Israeli activities. In 2006 he was refused entry into Israel. In 2006, during the Second Lebanon War, he visited Lebanon as part of a plan to dispatch ISM activists to act as human shields. In 2009, while on a visit to the Gaza Strip, he received an award from Ismail Haniya, head of the de facto Hamas administration, in honor of his activities in support of Hamas.
FPM participation in preparations for the upgraded flotilla to the Gaza Strip
In recent years Paul Larudee and the FPM have been involved in dispatching flotillas to the Gaza Strip, which has in fact been the focus of their activity. To that end the FPM collaborates with umbrella and other organizations and networks which belong to the international flotilla coalition. At the end of May 2010, Paul Larudee (using a counterfeit passport in the name of Paul Wilder) participated in the IHH-led Mavi Marmara flotilla, sailing aboard the Sfendoni (“8000”). The Sfendoni was dispatched by pro-Palestinian organizations in Greece and Sweden, operating under the umbrella of the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG, a network which plays a key role in organizing the flotillas). Since the Mavi Marmara Larudee has represented himself as “a flotilla survivor,” although there was no serious fighting aboard the Sfendoni.
The FPM is currently participating in the anti-Israeli coalition’s preparations to dispatch an upgraded flotilla to the Gaza Strip, which will have a greater international political and media impact than the Mavi Marmara flotilla. Its organizers hope to dispatch between 15 and 20 ships in May, with the conspicuous participation of important American public figures. However, it is not yet clear if and to what extent the organizers will be able to fully realize their aspirations.
Larudee and the FPM hope they will be able to ensure prominent American participation in the upgraded flotilla, including congressmen, members of the administration, human rights workers and celebrities.
So far, according to the FGM website, they have received promises of participation from Cynthia McKinney, a former congresswoman and Green Party candidate for the presidency; Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, born in 1949 and a Jewish Renewal rabbi, an American Jewish school of thought which integrates elements of the Kabala and mysticism into its system of belief; Joe Meadors, ex-army, who was aboard the Liberty when it was attacked by Israel during the Six Day War; William “Jimbo” Simmons and Calvin “Robbie” Roberts, from the American Indian Movement; and Samuel F. Hart, American ambassador to Ecuador under the Reagan administration, 1982-1985. As the sailing date approaches, it is reasonable to assume that the list will grow.
FPM’s other plans and activities
In addition to its media-covered flotilla launches to the Gaza Strip, the FGM is promoting other ideas for embarrassing and slandering Israel. They include dispatching a plane to the Gaza Strip (“Palestine by air”) in collaboration with other elements (among them “the authorities in Gaza,” i.e., the de facto Hamas administration). The status of “Palestine by air” is unclear.
In addition, the FPM encourages its activists to participate in activities to boycott Israel (its website has a link to the BDS site, an organization specializing in promoting international boycotts, divestments and sanctions of the State of Israel). On March 31 the FPM website’s so-called “good news” column reported a “successful” boycott of Israeli products in Canada.
UN accreditation for the FPM
According to the FPM website, on August 20, 2010, Dr. Paul Larudee received an official letter of accreditation for the FPM from the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The letter to Paul Larudee (the full version appears in the Appendix) grants UN accreditation to the organization and recognizes is as an NGO within the “network of civil society organizations active on the question of Palestine.” The committee members include representatives from Arab and Muslim countries and bodies like the Arab League and the Islamic Conference, hostile to Israel. Committee secretary Wolfgang Grieger, who signed the letter, is a UN worker whose official title is “political affairs officer at the United Nations.”
The committee was founded in 1975 by resolution 3376 of the United Nations General Assembly. The committee oversees “a programme of implementation to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination without external interference, national independence and sovereignty; and to return to their homes and property,” (i.e., the so-called “right of return,” whose implication is the destruction of the State of Israel as a Jewish state). The committee has more than 20 members. They include Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, Cyprus, Guiana, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Laos, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Namibia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey, the Ukraine and Venezuela. Observer countries include Algeria, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Syria, the UAE, Vietnam, Yemen, African Union, League of Arab States, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and “Palestine.” The current committee chairman is the Senegalese representative to the UN and deputy chairmen are the representatives from Afghanistan, Cuba and Malta.
The significance of UN accreditation of the FPM
It is not the first time that UN bodies with a majority of countries hostile to Israel have blown a following wind into the sails of the campaign to delegitimize Israel. The Goldstone Report and the intensive anti-Israeli activities of the Human Rights Council in Geneva are obvious examples.
The UN-sponsored first Durban Conference inspired the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions campaign (BDS) against Israel and the branding of Israel as an “apartheid state.” The official theme of the conference was “world conference against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” The conference, held August-September 2001, turned into an anti-Israeli anti-Semitic platform for the participating NGOs. They adopted a policy of the “complete and total isolation of Israel as an apartheid state,” which to this day inspire and fuel the campaign to delegitimize Israel.
The accreditation letter to Paul Larudee (from the FPM website)
Invitation letter sent by the Hamas Minister of Youth and Sport, Dr. Bassem Naim, inviting Dr. Paul Larudee and the Free Gaza Movement “to help lift the siege of Gaza.” (November 1, 2007)