NEW YORK (JTA) — Several members of the U.S. Congress called on the State Department to investigate any passengers aboard the Gaza-bound aid flotilla trying to enter the United States.
A group of people affiliated with the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, known as IHH, who were aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which was part of the flotilla, is planning a U.S. speaking tour in the coming weeks.
“The IHH, the flotilla’s sponsoring organization, has long been known for its affiliations with terrorist organizations, including Hamas and al-Qaida,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). “It is the responsibility of our government to ensure that terrorists, and those who support terrorist activities, not be allowed to enter the United States.”
Nadler was joined by Reps. Eliot Engel, Carolyn Maloney, Anthony Weiner and Charles Rangel, all Democrats from New York, at a news conference in New York organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn also was present.
More than 23,000 people have signed a JCRC of New York petition calling for an investigation of the flotilla passengers.
Leaders of both parties in the U.S. Senate also are urging President Obama to consider placing IHH on the terrorism list.
“The passengers aboard Turkey’s flotilla either are considered terrorists or at the very least willfully aided terrorists,” Weiner said. “Our existing laws are clear and we ought to follow them — anyone that aids and abets terrorism cannot be issued a visa.”
Engel justified Israel’s blockade of Gaza, which the flotilla sought to break.
"The United States must stand with Israel as it seeks to carry out legitimate acts of self-defense,” he said. Those aboard the flotilla “should be condemned by the world as supporters of the Hamas terrorist organization, not celebrated as humanitarian activists.”