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Plaestinian Solidarity Movement splinters over allegations of financial mismanagement

by Kate Tuesday, May. 26, 2009 at 12:53 PM

There is now a Free Gaza organization, and a free Gaza Movement. Allegation of financial mismanagement, and misappropriation of funds have caused this split.

Dear Friends,

It is with deep regret and sadness that we have to announce a separation within the Free Gaza Movement.

Free Gaza Movement was formed in the fall of 2006 by five individuals: Eliza Ernshire, Greta Berlin, Mary Hughes, Paul Larudee, and Sharon Lock. A year later, a non-profit called the Association for Investment in Popular Action Committees (AIPAC) was created in California as a means of accepting U.S. tax-deductible donations on behalf of Free Gaza. Both Greta Berlin and Mary Hughes were on the steering committee of that non-profit as founding members, and Mary Hughes was on the Board of Directors. With volunteers from AIPAC, and others, we were responsible for the first, successful voyage to Gaza in August 2008.

In November 2008, all of the original founders of Free Gaza met in London with 16 other organizers from the United States, Europe, and the Middle East in order to elect a board of directors for the Free Gaza Movement and discuss our future plans and organization. After considering several proposals for structure and several nominations for a board, we elected Huwaida Arraf, Greta Berlin, Eliza Ernshire, Derek Graham, Fathi Jaouadi, Ramzi Kysia, and Vaggelis Pissias as our interim board (iB) of directors.

Since then the International Free Gaza Movement has organized every other voyage without AIPAC's assistance either financial or through providing volunteers.

For the last, several months, we attempted to negotiate an affiliate and funding agreement with AIPAC. Unfortunately, this has not been successful, and we have decided to separate.

AIPAC has decided to call itself "The Free Gaza Movement." They have reserved the new URL "www.freegazamovemen t.org <http://www.freegazamovement.org/> " for themselves, and have set up a new email address, "friendstogaza@ gmail.com <friendstogaza@gmail.com" rel="nofollow">http://us.mc1112.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=friendstogaza@gmail.com> ," for their use.

Our web address is the original "www.freegaza. org <http://www.freegaza.org/> ," and our existing email address is "friendofgaza@ gmail.com <friendofgaza@gmail.com" rel="nofollow">http://us.mc1112.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=friendofgaza@gmail.com> ." Please make a note of these distinctions.

Also, please note that we do not have a funding agreement with AIPAC. Any donations made to California since September 2008 have not and will not be sent to us in order to run boat missions out of Cyprus.

Anyone wishing to make U.S. tax-deductible donations to the Free Gaza Movement should do it through our U.S. fiscal sponsors by making a check out to: The American Educational Trust LE, (publishers of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs) and putting FOR FREE GAZA in the subject line. Please see our website for details.

We wish our sisters and brothers at AIPAC well, and hope that their unique efforts to break the siege of Gaza from California will be successful.

Thank you for your continued support for the people of Palestine.

Sincerely,
Huwaida Arraf
Greta Berlin
Eliza Ernshire
Derek Graham
Fathi Jaouadi
Ramzi Kysia
Board of Directors, Free Gaza Movement
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