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BDS Activist Shaun King Claims Involvement in Release of Judith & Natalie Raanan from Hamas Captivity

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BDS Activist Shaun King Claims Involvement in Release of Judith & Natalie Raanan from Hamas Captivity

Edited by: TJVNews.com

Prominent social media activist, Shaun King, known for his vocal criticism of Israel, has recently asserted his role in facilitating the release of two U.S. citizens who were kidnapped in Gaza. Mother and daughter Judith and Natalie Raanan, who hold dual citizenship in both the United States and Israel, were abducted by the Hamas terror organization on October 7 and held in captivity until their release on October 20. Their ordeal ended after an announcement was made on a Telegram channel attributed to the Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing.

In the statement released before their return, Hamas declared that the release was carried out in response to “Qatari efforts” and was motivated by “humanitarian reasons.” The statement also conveyed an intent to debunk purported false claims by the President Joe Biden and his administration.

Ahead of their release, Hamas issued the following statement on its Telegram channel:

“In response to Qatari efforts, two American citizens (a mother and her daughter) were released for humanitarian reasons, and to prove to the American people and the world that the claims made by Biden and his fascist administration are false and baseless.”

Following their release, Shaun King, a purveyor of anti-Israeli propaganda with a huge social media following, took to Instagram to claim his involvement, according to report at The Jerusalem Post. Posting a photo of Natalie Raanan, King expressed his gratitude for the safe return of the mother-daughter duo.

 The JPost report said that in his post, King mentioned that the Raanan family had been supporters of his activism, particularly his stance against police violence in the United States. King extended his thanks to the Qatari government for their role in negotiating the release. He described a collective effort by numerous individuals who worked behind the scenes to facilitate this outcome, the JPost reported.

King’s involvement in the case dates back to October 10th, when he first highlighted the situation on his Instagram account. He posted a photo of Natalie Raanan, describing her as a teenager and an American citizen who had graduated from high school in Illinois earlier that year. Her family, concerned for her safety, sought King’s help to locate and secure her release. As was reported by the JPost, King stated that the Raanan family had been vocal in their support of his advocacy against police brutality in the United States and had also spoken out against perceived injustices in Israel.

He maintained that they were actively seeking proof of life for Natalie and were desperate to confirm her well-being. King made an earnest plea for her release and offered his assistance in facilitating her return, requesting information from anyone who could provide it through his email.

However, despite King’s claims and his efforts to assist the Raanan family, some social media users have questioned his role in the hostages’ release, as was noted in the JPost report. One user criticized King, labeling him an “anti-Semite” who had previously referred to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers as “murderers.” They highlighted that King had initially claimed to be working diligently to secure the hostages’ release. They also pointed out that King had suggested that the kidnapped individuals supported his views and were in Israel to criticize perceived injustices.

Another user on the X social media platform (formerly known as Twitter) wrote: “ I just heard Shaun King claims to be involved in “hostages negotiations.” He sells rafts in the desert. He knows zero about Palestine, Hamas, Doha. He ain’t involved in shit. Fuck him. Don’t be scammed.”.

The JPost reported that the same user further pointed out that King later thanked Hamas for the release of Judith and Natalie, implying that his involvement might not have played a pivotal role in the negotiation process.

The recent release of  these two American hostages, has brought about a heated dispute between their family and King. The disagreement centers around King’s claims on social media that he played a significant role in securing the release of the captives.

The Raanan family, who were visiting Israel from Illinois when they were abducted on October 7, has explicitly distanced themselves from King, according to a report on The Daily Beast.  In a statement obtained by TMZ, the family made it clear that they had no direct or indirect association with King, nor did they endorse his purported involvement. They went on to state, “First and foremost, we make it clear that he is lying! Our family does not and did not have anything to do with him, neither directly nor indirectly. Not to him and not to anything he claims to represent,” the Daily Beast reported.

This public repudiation from the Raanan family prompted an immediate response from Shaun King. The controversial anti-Israel activist, whose fundraising practices and promises have been scrutinized in the past, defended his claims by asserting that he had been in direct communication with the family, as was noted in the Daily Beast report.  In an email to The Daily Beast, King mentioned that he had kept records of these interactions.

King provided a series of screenshots of messages exchanged between himself and Ben Raanan, Natalie’s brother, suggesting that Ben had sought his assistance due to his Palestinian contacts. Notably, King also revealed that he had recorded all his conversations with Ben “for my own protection,” although it is uncertain whether Ben was aware of being recorded, the Daily Beast reported.

When confronted with questions about his interactions and their impact on the release of on em the Raanans, King did not offer a conclusive response. Instead, he claimed that he had been “lobbying nonstop for [Natalie’s] release behind the scenes with an eclectic group of 30+ people that would normally never work together or get along,” as was reported by The Daily Beast. However, he did not provide further details regarding his involvement.

King went on to suggest that the Raanan family’s decision to distance themselves from him was influenced by pressure from “Israelis.” He refrained from responding to inquiries regarding whether his efforts had any role in the hostages’ release, which was orchestrated by the Qatari government in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Israeli government, the Daily Beast report said.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and other Israeli security forces, along with Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch, who had been coordinating hostage efforts, received Judith and Natalie at the border, according to an Israeli official who shared the information with The Daily Beast. The International Committee of the Red Cross facilitated their transfer, acting as a neutral party to ensure the hostages’ safe return to the border.

Uri Raanan, father of Natalie, expressed his bafflement at online rumors suggesting that the family supports the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and Shaun King’s anti-Israel stance, as was reported by Ynet.com.  He unequivocally dismissed these claims, stating, “This is nonsense that does not deserve to be addressed. I was in the Yom Kippur war, I am a decorated IDF veteran, I am a big supporter of Israel, my daughter too. She’s not a politician; she doesn’t even know what BDS is,” the Ynet.com report added.

According to Uri Raanan, Natalie is expected to arrive in Chicago next week. He described the challenges of communicating with his daughter, who had her cell phone stolen by Hamas during her ordeal, as was indicated in the Ynet.com report. Uri expressed his relief that he was finally able to sleep soundly after the traumatic events.

In response to the allegations, the Raanan family issued an official statement disavowing any connection with Shaun King and his anti-Israel positions. According to the Ynet.com report, the family declared, “Today we encountered delusional posts on the Instagram page of a man named Shaun King, who turns out to have millions of followers, who claims that our relative Natalie Raanan supports the anti-Israel messages he uploads to his page. We want to make it clear that he is lying. Our family does not and did not have anything to do with him, neither directly nor indirectly. Neither to him nor to anything he claims to represent.”

The family went on to explain that Natalie only became aware of Shaun King and his posts after she regained access to a cell phone following two harrowing weeks in captivity in Gaza, Ynet.com reported. They suggested that King was attempting to capitalize on the widespread coverage of her kidnapping. The family highlighted their active involvement in the Jewish community in Chicago and local Chabad, emphasizing that if King had known them, he would be aware of their dedication to their faith and community, the Ynet.com report said.

Furthermore, the family appealed to the public not to spread unverified claims and to refrain from believing individuals who purport to speak on behalf of others, as was noted in the Ynet.com report. They emphasized the harm caused by the dissemination of false information, noting that their primary focus should be on efforts to bring all abductees home safely.

The release of Judith and Natalie Raanan from captivity has brought relief to their family, although their ordeal has been traumatic. Ynet.com also reported that  the family expressed gratitude to President Biden and all those who played a role in the release, while emphasizing the ongoing efforts to bring other kidnapped family members home.

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