Now every Dutch reporter on the flotilla has bailed out for the same reasons. And they are also upset over how the flotilla is hiding the involvement of at least one known Hamas leader.
From De Telegraaf:
Enraged at the paranoia, the dictatorial atmosphere, mutual distrust and outright opposition on board, all Dutch journalists to leave the ship which the Dutch activists seek confrontation with Israeli marines in the Gaza Strip.Amin Rashed was on last year's flotilla and has been linked with Hamas and the Holy Land Foundation.
According to the four reporters who left, they were censored by the activists, who did not respond to any critical questions, such as the financing of the ship. The money was scraped together by collections in Dutch mosques, as this newspaper revealed earlier.
Vara editor Hasna El Maroudi decided to leave because the organization does not want to say that there were other participants: "I was not surprised by the presence of figures or organizations that I want nothing to do with. Also it remained unclear how the financing of the boat was done. I have repeatedly asked, but the answer was hidden in a web of vague foundations and umbrella organizations." Hasna El Maroudi is a former columnist for NRC.
Now it appears that the infamous Dutch Hamas leader Amin Abou Rashed was also present in recent days in the training of the crew in Greece. El Maroudi: "Amin was present on the day the Dutch delegation, part of the non-violence training followed. Wilfred van de Poll, journalist for de Trouw, just spoke with Amin about his presence and his role within the organization. "The brain behind the fleet" had arranged the purchase of the boat. He also provided a lion's share of funding."
El Maroudi: "During the dinner Anne de Jong (one of the driving forces behind the fleet, ed) raved that it is all lies and that Amin was a terribly nice man, who with incredible love and commitment to the Palestinians. Perhaps in her blue eyes she believes this, but I can not, simply because his involvement in the fleet been kept secret until his arrival in Greece. Not only from the outside world, but also from the passengers. "
Trouw reporter Wilfred van de Poll also withdrew from sailing because he no longer trusted the organization. He said that the organization suffers from utter paranoia, especially about possible leaks to The Guardian. The de Trouw journalist speaks of "childish insinuations" and an "atmosphere of suspicion" that the journalists received.
[Radio Netherlands] Worldwide reporter Eric Beauchemin also noted: "After one week in Greece, I lost all confidence in the responsible Foundation Netherlands Gaza. At our first meeting on the island of Corfu it was all wrong. One of the organizers was furious because Dutch journalist information was leaked to The Guardian. I've worked 25 years as a journalist, but I've never seen such a closed organization. I wanted a video report of the mandatory two-day training, to show how the activists were being prepared. But the organization banned the access to many parts of this training. "
Prior to the trip, he attended mandatory meetings in the Netherlands and was screened. "When the organizers me I was 'chosen', I felt obliged to be happy. In retrospect it seems all deception: there was no select group, and no Dutch celebrities. Instead of 32 Dutch participants, the organization has barely ten. "
Bud Wichers, a freelance reporter, also dropped out, as he reported to EénVandaag: "The facts were always at odds with what we had promised. The breach of trust was at some point irreversible. "
Martijn Dekker, spokesman for the Gaza-Netherlands Foundation, is deeply embarrassed at the collective departure of the journalists. Dekker, a PhD in Political Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam, says the feud between activists and reporters was "shocking": "Four journalists who consistently tell the same story, you can not ignore. That closeness, that is the opposite of what we claim to be, namely open and transparent."
Dekker: "We can quite open about eg the origin of the money that paid for the boat. We can see the books of the donating foundation Israa. It shows that all donations come from Dutch individuals, not from a shadowy sheik from abroad." Foundation Netherlands Gaza says the list of passengers to leave until after release, as still being pushed by the ship crew. The Dutch action ship left yesterday and arrived today at an agreed rendezvous site, which has three other ships awaiting action.
The foundation was forced to admit that Rashed was present in Greece, because of his involvement in the purchase of the ship. But the organization denies his involvement in training, selection and briefings.
Amin Abou Rashed (left) with Yusuf Qaradawi
Now emerges a unique picture, when the Dutch Hamas leader Sheikh Amin Abou Rashed supports Yusuf al Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. This Al Qaradawi is hoping to transform Egypt into a fundamentalist dictatorship. The Sheikh, a fierce anti-Semite and notorious for his inflammatory speeches, lived in exile in Qatar. After the revolt against Egyptian President Mubarak returned to Cairo. Al Qaradawi wants to stone gays and adulterers, would "dismantle" Israel, encourages suicide attacks inside Israel and believes that men should strike "rebellious" women.
But the flotilla organizers are insisting that he is a wonderful, loving peace activist.