Latest Gaza Convoy arrives in Tehran...
A heroes welcome...
1. Activists of the Asian convoy, who set out on December 4 after having been delayed by the Indian authorities, arrived in Iran from Pakistan on December 7 and spent ten days in Tehran.1 They visited Qom, Zahedan, Isfahan and other Iranian cities; the highlight of their visit was Tehran. In Tehran they received an official welcome from the president and other senior figures.
2. The visit was exploited by the convoy activists and members of the Iranian regime to display hatred and incite public opinion against Israel and the West. The issue of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, the avowed objective of the convoy, was almost completely ignored during the various ceremonies. In effect, the convoy’s negligible amount of material aid for the Gaza Strip is supposed to arrive in Egypt by air (although it is unclear whether its arrival has already been arranged with the Egyptian authorities).
3. When the convoy activists left India they abandoned their human rights and non-violent peace slogans, and they and their Iranian supporters publicly and prominently expressed their hatred for Israel and the West (with occasional anti-Semitic undertones), along with praise for the Iranian regime. For example:
A. Feroze Mithiborwala, leader of the convoy, showered praise on the Iranian regime. He said that the idea of organizing the convoy was inspired by the May 2010 flotilla to the Gaza Strip and the active support of Iran, and that the convoy intended to take a stand against "Zionism, which wants to create a hegemony in the world, and especially in Asia" (Iran's PressTV, December 13, 2010).
B. The APSP, the umbrella organization behind the convoy, defined its goals at a press conference in Karachi on the eve of its departure, November 29, 2010, as "the liberation of Palestine," "breaking the siege of the Gaza Strip," "destroying Israel's system of apartheid" and uniting the Asian countries around those goals (Iran's FARS News Agency, December 1, 2010).2
C. During their stay in Iran the convoy activists participated in anti-Israeli propaganda functions produced by the Iranian regime. For example, there were "ceremonies" of burning the Israeli, American and British flags in "Palestine Square" in the heart of Tehran, Feroze Mithiborwala gave a speech in the Iranian parliament (Majlis) in which he called the United States president "an agent of Israel," and convoy activists at the Majlis session at the time shouted "Death to Israel" in four languages.
D. Iranian President Ahmadinejad played a major role in the hate propaganda campaign. At a reception for the convoy at Tehran University he called for the "liberation" of "Palestine" from "the blood-sucking Zionist occupiers" and called the existence of the State of Israel "an insult to humanity."
4. A group of Majlis members announced their intention to join the convoy, and the Iranian regime seems to support it in other ways, possibly including logistics and financing. Moreover, the nature of the convoy may become more extreme because of the involvement of the Iranian regime, the convoy's intention to pass through Turkey and Syria and the possibility that other activists will join it, especially from Pakistan.