Archive | June 2nd, 2010


Dear All

With millions of gallons of oil still swirling in the Gulf, a BP executive had a message for Gulf Coast residents: “I want my life back.” This is the same executive who claimed the spill was “tiny” compared to the size of the ocean.1

Is this what BP stands for? Broken Promises? Maybe it’s time BP’s corporate tag line gets a reality check.

We’re asking what “BP” should stand for now that they’ve wrecked the Gulf.

Beyond Patience? Broken Promises? Blame Palin?

Now’s your chance to submit your own ideas as well as VOTE on others!

The winning phrase will be

chosen for a bumper sticker design and delivered to BP’s corporate offices.

Come and tell us what you think BP stands for:

We asked our Facebook group this question too and got loads of brilliant

(and semibrilliant) answers. “Bloody Profits,” “Backup Plan,” and “Belly uP”

were all favorites.

Now we want to hear from all of you to see what phrase is the most popular

for renaming BP. We’ll put the most popular phrase on a bumper sticker for

you to share with friends — and we’ll deliver a stack of them to BP’s corporate

headquarters in London.

So click here to make a suggestion or vote for your favorites. And may the

Best Phrase win.



Drew Hudson

TrueMajority / USAction

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Gordon Duff: Pakistan’s Role In Afghanistan

June 1, 2010

by Gordon Duff



By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

US policy in Afghanistan hasn’t so much failed as it hasn’t even materialized.  With the original rationale for overthrowing the Taliban their relationship with Osama bin Laden now long forgotten, buried with, not only the death of bin Laden many years ago but much more.  No ties between bin Laden and 9/11 have ever been established, none of the training camps seen in the online videos existed anywhere but in fiction, truth is such a delicate thing.  Children in Afghanistan are taught to be fighters from birth.  Training an Afghan to fight is like training a fish to swim.

The legacy of Karzai and Hollbrooke and McChrystal, pointless posturing, mismanagement, a deluge of narcotics and a sea of corruption have spelled failure, a failure from the first days, a failure in Marjeh, and more failures to come.  The result of these failed polices is more delegitimization and debt for the US and destabilization and terrorism for Pakistan, but it has been far worse for the tribal regions of both Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

The explosion of terrorism has come with a variety of causes, beginning with the collapse of the Taliban, flawed though it may have been as a government, it governed, eliminated drug production and brought stability. 

 The arrogance of the Taliban was misconstrued by the United States, misconstrued purposefully by a government looking to point a finger of blame somewhere for 9/11, point away from Israel, away from Saudi Arabia and away from themselves.  The Taliban in Afghanistan made the perfect “fall guy.”

Whatever government the Taliban was, built partially from the Mujahideen fighters the US and Pakistan armed against the Soviet backed Kabul regime in the 80s, the Taliban had become inconsistent with the needs of the majority of the people of Afghanistan, certainly the northern tribes, now overrepresented through Karzai and his Indo-Israeli connections. 

The Taliban were destined to fail Afghanistan’s women who not only deserve education but also full participation in national life.  With so many of Afghanistan’s most talented having fled the Soviet occupation, every human resource is a vital one.

Pakistan had understood the Mujihideen and many of their military had built strong relations there.  That was decades ago, decades that mean much more in Afghanistan than the west.  There, almost two generations have past and allegiances are only a memory. 

 The desire many in Pakistan have expressed, to see an American withdrawal and the return to a stability from the past is unrealistic, as that stability is from a past that may never have existed nor can it be created.  The Russian occupation wiped out any remnants of a cohesive Afghanistan. 

What was Afghanistan?

There is an intimacy and stability to a traditional tribal culture.  It is almost impossible to explain to someone from the west how scientists and educators, the intellectual elite of Afghanistan, the “technocrats” were and are never intended to rule.  When the west compares its democracy, it fails to see in a realistic way how its own leaders are selected. 

They are never the strong, seldom the best and certainly not the brightest.  The characteristics most valued in a leader in the west are worthless in Afghanistan.  Telling people what they want to hear while doing nothing and pleasing those with money means nothing in a tribal culture.  It should mean nothing in the west either.  Perhaps this is why America is failing so miserably.  Maybe this is why the west chose Karzai, he is so much like a western leader.

Afghanistan is dozens of families in a complex weave that goes back centuries.  Alliances that can still hold a people together were established, some hundreds of years ago, alliances being restored all over Afghanistan including critical areas in the south. 

What can be reestablished is a traditional value system that can survive with a constitution and full rights for women in a country that can trade more than opium.  That business, the drug business that has filled Kabul with human vermin from around the world brought to Afghanistan like flies to a festering wound, has to go, that and everything built around it.  Drug lords and gun culture are not tribal culture.

Why Pakistan and Afghanistan

Afghanistan is largely Pashtun but can only survive with an inclusive government offering full participation and respect to every group.  The current  US sponsored disaster has put the label of “terrorist extremist” on 25 million citizens, only a few of whom are criminal terrorists who would resist a legitimate government, something America forgot to bring in its bag of tricks.  Pakistan survives similarly, a nation with a large number of Pashtuns, though a minority in a country of over 180 million. 

Where tribal unity could stabilize both countries, economic collapse, drug lords, criminals and terrorists have created an untenable situation.  Corruption and economic collapse, Pakistan and Afghanistan, has left large regions subject to radicalization, extremism and violence.  Adding to this problem, foreign elements profiting off the drug trade in Afghanistan and looking for the collapse of Pakistan feed this terrorism with arms, training and logistical support. 

The countries suffering from terrorism are Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Their destabilization feeds the short term needs of India, Israel, American intelligence agencies and the arms industry, groups that influence everything from American foreign policy to actual terrorist attacks in ways the mainstream media never reports. 

Long term regional stability has fallen to the wayside through lack of  leadership and a platform for constructive dialog, a dialog that should include, not only India, Afghanistan and Pakistan but Israel, Iran, Russia and China as well.  All have critical issues in the region and, under assurances their security issues are addressed, have the potential of lending critical resources to addressing the stability of Afghanistan.

What is Realistic?

President Karzai will not step aside without an honorable exit.  Though he has been unable to rule and his attempts to bring the Taliban to the table have not met with success, his attempts do him justice. 

 However, failure to rule is inexcusable.  Bush held on for 8 years of one disaster after another, dragging America down, the most powerful nation in the history of earth.  Karzai’s failures have been in the presence of a greater and perhaps insurmountable challenge, while no alternative form of rule was possible. 

A decade of lessons, senseless slaughter, billions spent, billions wasted has altered perceptions everywhere.  Peace and security, seen by a previous American administration as a hindrance more than a goal, are now necessities.  Profitable chaos is a luxury few will be allowed to afford without chickens coming home to roost.

It is in the air, hidden among the threats are the promises.  The feelers are out, nobody has survived ten years of conspiracy and insanity unscathed, no matter how their balance sheets look.  The massive paper gains for the few never manifest themselves as nation building or security.  This year, the doors will creep open.

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Bennis and the Progress Report on Israel’s Massacre

June 1, 2010 

by Michael Leon

Flotilla Gaza

Israel may believe she can do whatever she wants, wherever she wants. But this latest outrage will come at a political cost.

Phyllis Bennis and the Progress Report have posted insightful analyses.

From Istanbul: Outrage Over a Massacre on the High Seas

By Phyllis Bennis

Israel has decided that it is better to be perceived as savage than as weak. In its initial attack on the boats carrying human rights activists and humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip, Israel’s commandos killed at least nine human rights activists and injured perhaps as many as eighty or more. All those aboard the ships, which were attacked and seized pirate-style in international seas far beyond the legal limits of Israel’s own territorial waters, were arrested and/or deported.

Hours later, during one of the first protests that rose in outrage against the assault on the boats, Israeli troops used tear gas with such force against protesters at the Qalandia crossing between Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, that at least one international supporter, a 21-year-old American woman, was reported undergoing surgery to remove her destroyed eye. By coincidence, I am in Istanbul at the moment.

In Turkey, home to most of the dead and injured among the international activists, 10,000 people here in Istanbul marched from the Israeli consulate to the city’s main square, while thousands more took to the streets in Ankara, expressing outrage and demanding international accountability and immediate action to end the blockade of Gaza.

Maybe someone in the Israeli intelligence services or in the military really believed that the high profile threats that the Gaza Freedom Flotilla would “not be allowed” to reach Gaza shores would somehow convince the 700+ human rights defenders to simply give up.

That they would agree to turn their 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid over to the Israeli military in the hope that the IDF, which has enforced an illegal and crippling siege against the 1.5 million Gazans for more than 3 years, would abide by their claim that they would send the aid on to Gaza… a Gaza that Israel continues to assert is not facing the humanitarian catastrophe that has been documented by the United Nations, by Amnesty International, by every Israeli and Palestinian and international human rights organization working in the region.

But anyone who knew anything about the Gaza boats knew that wasn’t going to happen. No one disputed that Israel has the military power to assault and overpower the boats, to force them away from Gaza’s shores and to arrest the hundreds of activists on board.

Decades of uncritical U.S. support – including consistent use of the Security Council veto to protect Israel from being held accountable for its crimes in the United Nations, and most recently the Bush-initiated and Obama-implemented commitment of $30 billion in military aid to Israel – has insured that military power, nuclear and conventional, remains unchallengeable in the region and beyond. U.S. complicity in the massacre is beyond question.

No government, anywhere in the world, supported the Israeli assault. Weak responses came from some important U.S. allies, including Britain and Germany, but even the most anemic reactions, those that parroted old U.S./Israeli propaganda of the Israeli commandos’ “right of self-defense” (as if special forces attacking a civilian ship in the dark of night in the middle of the Mediterranean in international waters somehow have the same rights as the civilian passengers on their target ship) bemoaned the casualties and called for some kind of international investigation.

Questions do remain, however, regarding how other countries are responding. Turkey took the lead, with its government calling the attack a “massacre” and Prime Minister Erdogan referring to it as “state terrorism.” Ankara imposed a series of appropriately severe measures, including withdrawing Turkey’s ambassador from Tel Aviv, cancelling planned Turkish-Israeli military exercises, and indicating that the attack (most of whose victims were Turks) may lead to “irreparable” damage to the once-close Turkey-Israel relationship.

Arab states, responding to outrage in the street, were predictably harsh. Perhaps more significantly in terms of a real diplomatic shift that may be afoot in the wake of the attack, the European Union and a number of European governments issued harsh condemnations.

The United Nations Security Council failed to condemn the Israeli attack, pressured by U.S. opposition. A powerful Council resolution would have not only condemned the attack but created a powerful international investigation, leading directly to an International Criminal Court referral to hold Israeli political and military officials accountable.

There were efforts towards such a goal; Turkey’s ambassador called for condemning the attack “in the strongest terms” and called for an “independent international investigation.” Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the attack “banditry and piracy” on the high seas, and said that the dead activists were victims of “murder conducted by a state.” But the language was qualitatively weakened under U.S. pressure, and no resolution was passed at all.

Instead, the Council issued a presidential statement, an act that does not carry the force of law. The statement simply condemns “those acts” resulting in deaths, without identifying Israeli responsibility. And crucially, it failed to hold Israel accountable by creating an immediate international, UN-controlled investigation, instead calling politely for an investigation “conforming to international standards” without even stating who should conduct such an investigation.

While several Council members stated their belief that the statement did refer to a UN-run investigation, and urged Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon to initiate the process, it remains far from clear that the vague language commits the UN to anything at all.

The Council decision was another indication that so far, the Obama administration remains committed to protecting Israel from being held accountable for its war crimes and other violations. That defense of Israel remains far stronger than any commitment to international law, human rights and the principle of accountability.

The U.S. on its own, facing the possibility of global anger at its refusal to hold Israel accountable for the massacre of the boats and for its continual refusal (through use or threat of a veto) even to stand aside and allow the rest of the world to impose consequences, still refused to condemn the attack.

 In the first 24 hours, the Obama administration limited itself to expressions of concern and regret for the loss of life, and a polite request to Israel for “clarifications” regarding the event. Clarifications? Really?

Israel itself, having publicly anticipated a PR disaster following its planned assault, turned the blame on the victims. During weeks of open threats, Tel Aviv had announced that journalists would be allowed onto their naval attack ships to counteract the expected bad press resulting from film of the assault that would be produced by the numerous journalists – from al-Jazeera producers to a host of bloggers – already on board the ships of the humanitarian flotilla.

After the attack, Israel’s domestic and international spin-shops went into high gear, focusing on the commandos alleged “right of self-defense” – as if heavily armed special forces jumping from hovering helicopters to seize a civilian ship in international waters, reportedly firing as they hit the deck, have any right of “self-defense.”

Israel is now claiming a new international law, invented just for this purpose: the preventive “right” to capture any naval vessel in international waters if the ship was about to violate a blockade – in this case, the illegal, Geneva Convention-violating unilaterally imposed (though U.S.-backed) Israeli siege of 1.5 million Gazan civilians.

That one just about matches George Bush’s claim of a preventive “right” to attack Iraq in 2003 because Baghdad might someday create weapons the U.S. might not like and might use them to threaten some country the U.S. does like…even if they didn’t really have any WMDs at all and the U.S. knew it all along.

The human toll has been very high in these last days, for the international civil society activists and movements who continue to fight for human rights and international law for Palestinians. The human cost may grow higher still, as we still don’t know the extent of the injured and the numbers (let alone the names) of the dead.

The costs are high. They remain high as well, on a daily basis, for the millions of Palestinians, living besieged in the open-air prison that is the Gaza Strip, living under military occupation throughout the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem, living as stateless refugees and longtime exiles in the Middle East and around the world.

But it may be that the horrors of the Flotilla Massacre will lead to some serious changes. Already the diplomatic realities are shifting. Israel’s war against Gaza last year lead to a wide-spread transformation of public discourse across the world, but most powerfully in the U.S. The massacre of international human rights activists at sea is likely to have similar or even more powerful results at the level of public discourse, but perhaps as well at the level of international diplomacy and shifts in power.

The Obama administration so far is protecting Israel from accountability. But the backlash from the massacre meant, among other things, that Netanyahu had to cancel his White House meeting this week – the tete-a-tete with Obama designed to celebrate the renewal of strong ties after putting the settlement-related bickering behind them.

The UN Security Council didn’t pass a strong resolution, but the anger expressed by virtually every member state, including U.S. allies, was unusually harsh. Governments – especially of the 32 countries whose nationals were among the activists now dead or injured or held incommunicado in Israeli detention camps – face powerful pressure from outraged citizens, and the cost of defending Israel is rising.

Every NATO country, except for the U.S., is acknowledging in some form that a civilian ship of NATO partner Turkey has been wantonly attacked; the pressure to redefine NATO’s till-now cozy relationship with Israel will rise. Turkey, NATO’s only Muslim-majority country, is breaking its ties with Tel Aviv, and that break may be permanent.

International pressure currently led by civil society, through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, will continue, but increasingly governments will show new willingness to hold Israel accountable. Civil society has pressured national judicial systems to use the principles of universal jurisdiction to bring accused Israeli war criminals to justice.

Palestinian and global civil society have taken the lead with BDS because governments and the United Nations failed to provide protection for the Palestinian people. Civil society activists, from around the world and from inside Palestine, have paid in blood for that commitment. Perhaps the Flotilla Massacre will change that equation.

For now, we mourn for our friends and colleagues, we continue to demand information on the victims and demand that the surviving activists and their ships with all their humanitarian cargo be immediately released so they can join the rest of the Flotilla already underway and continue to Gaza.

And as we mourn, our full demands must be for the immediate lifting of the criminal blockade of Gaza – the end of the blockade, not simply allowing a few additional items in under Israeli control.

And then we must demand full international accountability, including criminal liability, for the Israeli officials, both political leaders and military commanders, who are responsible for the Flotilla Massacre. The United Nations, the International Criminal Court, and every national government should be prepared to investigate and to arrest those responsible.

From the the Progress Report:

by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Zaid Jilani, Matt Duss, and Alex Seitz-Wald

Early Monday morning, Israeli naval commandos stormed a flotilla of ships in international waters transporting aid to the Gaza Strip in defiance of a three-year-old Israeli blockade, killing nine people in the ensuing struggle. Setting sail from Turkey and ports in Europe last week, the flotilla carried 10,000 tons of supplies, including food and construction equipment, to aid the people of Gaza, who are undergoing “a protracted crisis” as a result of the Israeli siege.

The ships were operated by some 700 activists, mostly Turks but also “Israelis and Palestinians as well as Americansand many Europeans — among them politicians, a Jewish Holocaust survivor and Swedish author.” Upon boarding the flotilla’s largest ship, the Mavi Marmara, Israeli commandos encountered violent resistance and opened fire with their pistols.

After Israeli forces finally took control of the ships, the activists “were processedin and around Israel’s port of Ashdod, where the six ships of the blockade-running convoy had been escorted.” Prior to this incident, eight previous aid flotillas “were either allowed to reach Gaza or were diverted by the Israeli navy without incident.” Activists had spent the past year planning the “Freedom Flotilla,” soliciting the “participation of international parliamentarians and the backing of the Turkish government.”

INTERNATIONAL OUTRAGE: The Israeli raid “triggered widespread condemnation across Europe; many of the passengers were from European countries.”

The raid also “strained already tense relationswith Israels longtime Muslim ally Turkey, the unofficial sponsor of the mission.” On Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told lawmakers in the Turkish parliament that “this bloody massacre by Israel on ships that were taking humanitarian aid to Gaza deserves every kind of curse.”

The United Nations Security Council “expressed deep regret at the loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force during the Israeli military operation early on Monday in international waters against the convoy sailing to Gaza, and condemned those acts.”

Responding to calls for an international investigation of the incident, Deputy U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Alejandro Wolff said, “We are convinced and support an Israeli investigation…and have every confidence that Israel can conduct a credible and impartial and transparent, prompt investigation internally.”

Egypt announced on Tuesday it was temporarily opening its border crossing with Gaza, and several thousand Gazans rushed to the Egyptian border, “hoping to take advantage of a rare chance to escape the blockaded territory.”

ISRAEL RESPONDS: In the days and weeks leading up to the launch of the flotilla, the Israeli government was attempting both to downplay the extent of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and to present the flotilla’s sponsors as supporters of terrorism, though the evidence for the latter claimis highly questionable.

On Monday morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who expressed his “full backing” for the raid, canceled his meeting with President Obamascheduled for today in order to return to Israel to manage the crisis. Ha’aretz’s diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote that Netanyahu must immediately “convene a national committee of inquiry into Israel’s interception of a Gaza aid convoy.”

Commenting on the Israeli messaging, Ghaith Al-Omari, an adviser to Middle East Progress, said, “What’s even more galling, to some extent, putting aside the human cost of it, is the spin we hear afterwards, trying to gloss over these deaths, trying to gloss over a tragic situation, trying to divert attention towards a concocted terrorism link.” Al-Omari insisted that the only way to deal with the long-term problem was “to continue the pursuit for peace” between Israel and the Palestinians.

Similarly, Jeremy Ben-Ami of the pro-Israel, pro-peace group J Street encouraged “President Obama and other international and regional leaders to take today’s terrible news as an opportunity to engage even more forcefully in immediate efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

FOCUS ON GAZA: Though the ostensible reason for the Israeli and Egyptian-enforced siege on Gaza is to weaken the militant group Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since ejecting its Fatah rivals in 2007, it has actually had the reverse effect. Speaking from Gaza in April, Bassam Nasser of Catholic Relief Services said “the blockade enabled Hamas to become in complete control of everything in Gaza,” and that “closing Gaza and enabling goodsor commodities to enter mostly only through the tunnels [has] enabled Hamas to have greater control.”

Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Brian Katulis noted in a 2009 report, co-written with Marc Lynch and Robert Adler, that the blockade “has hurt the Palestinian peoplewhile not substantially inhibiting Hamas. And simultaneously it allows Hamas to blame persistent shortages on the Israeli blockade.”

Though the Obama administration recognizes that Israel has genuine security concerns in regard to Hamas, it has encouraged Israelto ease some aspects of the blockade. In an earlier interview explaining the reason for the flotilla, Free Gaza chairperson Huwaida Arraf said “1.5 million Palestinians are trapped in the largest open-air prison in the world, denied basic rights, freedom of movement, the right to receive medical attention. … When our governments fail to uphold values that we believe in, to defend human rights, we believe that we the people of the global community must take action.”


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Israel and Rep. Harman in Tandem: From High Seas to Airwaves

June 1, 2010 

by Michael Leon

Israel USA Policy
Israel USA Policy

Subsidized with a few billion dollars from the U.S. Treasury each year, the Israeli government depends on support from high Washington places

by Norman Solomon

When Israel attacked the Gaza aid flotilla, Congresswoman Jane Harman was engaged in a parallel assault. Israel’s government relied on the efficacy of violence; Harman’s campaign was counting on the power of paid media. In both cases, the targets were advocates of human rights for Palestinian people.

Brandishing guns and stun grenades, in international waters, Israeli commandos rappelled from a helicopter and boarded from a fast-moving boat onto the flotilla’s largest ship. The mission was to halt a Gaza-bound expedition carrying 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid.

The mission of Harman’s campaign strategists — targeting her progressive opponent with a slick TV commercial — was to achieve a related goal in California’s 36th congressional district. Stopping the Gaza flotilla and stopping the congressional campaign of Marcy Winograd are similar agenda items.

Harman, a powerful member of the center-right Blue Dog Coalition, is one of the Israeli government’s most valued allies on Capitol Hill. She’s a standout — even in a Congress teeming with fervent apologists for Israel’s relentless suppression of Palestinian rights.

In sharp contrast, her opponent Marcy Winograd — an outspoken advocate of human rights without regard to race, religion or ethnic background — has been unrelenting in her support for Palestinian rights.

And so, less than two weeks before California’s June 8 election, Harman hit the airwaves with a slimy TV commercial aimed at her challenger in the Democratic primary.

After claiming that Winograd “wants to kill the defense budget, putting thousands more people out of work and exposing our nation to attack,” the commercial declared: “Congressman Henry Waxman says in Marcy Winograd’s vision, Israel would cease to exist.”

Yes, liberal Congressman Waxman has distinguished himself by supplying the most demagogic ammo in Harman’s re-election arsenal. And endorsements from several other members of the Progressive Caucus — including John Conyers, Barney Frank, Jim McGovern and Lynn Woolsey — have given Harman more cover.

The basic difference between Harman and Winograd on human rights is clear in the aftermath of the killing of Gaza flotilla activists.

Harman stayed silent. Not a word about the massacre on her campaign website.

Winograd quickly released a statement. “I suspect the murders were committed as a warning to others who might want to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza,” she said. “Ironically, the killings are bound to heighten awareness about the brutal blockade and to increase pressure to end the imprisonment of over a million people in Gaza.”

And Winograd added: “Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. Enough, we must stop this, and adhere to the laws that have been established by the international community. Working for peace and human rights for all is the only way forward. As a Jewish woman of conscience, I invite my opponent, Jane Harman, another Jewish woman, and all of Congress to join me in denouncing this kind of barbaric violence, demanding an end to the blockade and seeking an international investigation into these murders. I recommit myself to working towards a true, just and lasting peace.”

Subsidized with a few billion dollars from the U.S. Treasury each year, the Israeli government depends on support from high Washington places. And that support, in turn, gets reinforced by the kind of propaganda weaponry that Harman is now firing at Winograd. In the process, the salvos amount to preemptive strikes, aiming to dissuade others in politics who might be tempted to speak up for Palestinian rights.

The so-called smart money is on Harman in next Tuesday’s primary, but the incumbent — like the Israeli government — has reason to worry. Sometimes, moral revulsion can topple defenders of the indefensible.

In any event, no amount of advertising firepower can bring down the high moral ground of Marcy Winograd’s grassroots campaign for Congress.





World Condemns Israel’s Massacre; U.S. Reaction Muted; Activists Send New Ship to Challenge Israel

June 1, 2010 

by Michael Leon

Freedom Flotilla: Massacre at Sea

News is activists are sending a new ship to challenge the Gaza blockade by Israel as the U.N. Security Council calls for a probe amid global outrage over the deadly attack on the Gaza-bound aid convoy of human rights activists, as Israel still holds 100s seized during the murder at sea.

Updates below include a communique from the Free Gaza Movement, Juan Cole’s analysis of the world community coalescing against Israel, and a piece on Nobel-winning Elders condeming the Gaza flotilla attack. Also below is a piece in the British Guardian on eyewitness accounts of the raid contradicting the version put out by Israeli officials.

Official U.S. government reaction has been muted.

From the U.S. State Department, Alejandro Wolff, Deputy U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said, “We are convinced and support an Israeli investigation as I called for in my statement earlier, and have every confidence that Israel can conduct a credible and impartial and transparent, prompt investigation internally.”

Juan Cole notes the Historic U.N. SC Condemnation of Israel, and of the Gaza Blockade; World Body Demands release of Aid Activists, Ships.

Map of Flotilla Before Attack

Writes Cole:

In a rare public denunciation of Israel, the United Nations Security Council on Monday condemned the Israeli raid on the Gaza aid flotilla and deplored the loss of innocent life that attended it. The world body insisted that Israel immediately release the 480 humanitarians it had taken captive, and demanded that it also let their ships go. The U.N. SC also instructed Israel to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip, calling the siege “not sustainable.” Although the statement was weaker than the text urged by Turkey and the Arab world, it was brutal compared to the anodyne language usually insisted upon by Washington when it comes to Israel.

This development is head-spinning in its implications. The United States almost never allows UNSC resolutions condemning Israel to go forward. But here it is clear that President Barack Obama instructed his ambassador to the UN to join in the condemnation of the Israeli “acts.” Since Turkey is currently a non-permanent member of the UNSC and led the charge on the condemnation of Israel, it is possible that the US felt it had to trade horses with Ankara if it has any chance of still getting a UNSC resolution tightening sanctions on Iran (a step that Turkey opposes, as does Brazil, though neither has a veto). It is also possible that Israel’s rash attack has sabotaged the Obama administration’s push for increased UN sanctions on Iran, hardening opposition to an Israel-driven policy toward Tehran.

For continuing updates, see Witness GazaAl Jazeera and Informed Comment.

The Elders group of past and present world leaders, including former South African president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, on Monday condemned as “completely inexcusable” the deadly Israeli attack on a flotilla carrying aid for Gaza.

South Africa president Nelson Mandela is reunited with The Elders. 

At least 10 people are reported to have been killed when Israeli commandos raided the boats on Monday in an operation that has drawn international condemnation.

“The Elders have condemned the reported killing by Israeli forces of more than a dozen people who were attempting to deliver relief supplies to the Gaza Strip by sea,” the 12—member group said in a statement issued in Johannesburg, where it met over the weekend.

The group, which was launched by Mr. Mandela on his birthday in 2007 to try to solve some of the world’s most intractable conflicts, called for a “full investigation” of the incident and urged the UN Security Council “to debate the situation with a view to mandating action to end the closure of the Gaza Strip.” “This tragic incident should draw the world’s attention to the terrible suffering of Gaza’s 1.5 million people, half of whom are children under the age of 18,” the group said.

Israel’s three—year blockade of Gaza was not only “one of the world’s greatest human rights violations” and “illegal” under international law, it was also “counterproductive” because it empowered extremists in the Palestinian territory, they said.

The Elders includes six Nobel peace prize winners — former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, former US president Jimmy Carter, detained Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Mr. Mandela and Tutu.

Norway’s first female Prime Minister Gro Brundtland; former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso; former Irish president and ex—UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson; Mozambican social activist Graca Machel; Indian women’s rights activist Ela Bhatt; and Algerian veteran UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi are the other members

From the Free Gaza Movement comes the message that Israel’s murder of human rights activists will be met with renewed determination.

Cyprus – 1 June, 2010–The UN Security Council Calls for Impartial, Credible Investigation of Israeli Boat Raid. The raid in international waters, on the aid convoy headed to Gaza left at least 16 civilians dead. After an emergency session wrapped up in the early hours this morning, the council agreed to language condemning the acts that resulted in the deaths and injuries aboard the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara and the European Campaign’s vessel Spendoni.

The council called for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards. The council statement also reemphasized the importance of implementing U.N. resolution 1860, which calls for the unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance to Gaza’s 1.5 million residents. The flow of aid has been severely hampered by Israel’s three-year blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Yesterday, Israeli-licensed attorneys filed two habeas briefs: one is asking for to release the passengers and the boats, so we can continue on our way to Gaza, since it was illegal to stop us in international waters. The other one is asking for information on all of the passengers, because there has been a total blackout on where the passengers are, who was wounded and who was murdered.

Lawyers are only being allowed access for three hours every day from 13:00-16:30. They have the names of three Palestinians still in detention: Sheik Salah, Mohammad Zeidan and Lubna Marsawa.

Haneen Zuabi, a member of the Israeli Knesset, been released, because she has immunity as a member of the Knesset. She held a press conference this morning in Nazareth to talk about the attack. She was on board the Mavi Marmara.

From the Guardian: Israelis Opened Fire Before Boarding Gaza Flotilla, say Released Activists

First eyewitness accounts of raid contradict version put out by Israeli officials

by Dorian Jones in Istanbul and Helena Smith 


Survivors of the Israeli assault on a flotilla carrying relief supplies to Gaza [1] returned to Greece [2] and Turkey [3] today, giving the first eyewitness accounts of the raid in which at least 10 people died.

[Demonstrators wave the flags of Turkey and Palestine in a protest against Israel in Istanbul yesterday. The banners read 'Open sea pirate Israel' and 'Enough is enough'. (Photograph: Murad Sezer/Reuters)]
Demonstrators wave the flags of Turkey and Palestine in a protest against Israel in Istanbul yesterday. The banners read ‘Open sea pirate Israel’ and ‘Enough is enough’. (Photograph: Murad Sezer/Reuters)

Arriving at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport with her one-year-old baby, Turkish activist Nilufer Cetin said Israeli troops opened fire before boarding the Turkish-flagged ferry Mavi Marmara, which was the scene of the worst clashes and all the fatalities. Israeli officials have said that the use of armed force began when its boarding party was attacked.

“It was extremely bad and very tough clashes took place. The Mavi Marmara is filled with blood,” said Cetin, whose husband is the Mavi Marmara’s chief engineer.

She told reporters that she and her child hid in the bathroom of their cabin during the confrontation. “The operation started immediately with firing. First it was warning shots, but when the Mavi Marmara wouldn’t stop these warnings turned into an attack,” she said.

“There were sound and smoke bombs and later they used gas bombs. Following the bombings they started to come on board from helicopters.”

Cetin is among a handful of Turkish activists to be released; more than 300 remain in Israeli custody. She said she agreed to extradition from Israel [4] after she was warned that conditions in jail would be too harsh for her child.

“I am one of the first passengers to be sent home, just because I have baby. When we arrived at the Israeli port of Ashdod we were met by the Israeli interior and foreign ministry officials and police; there were no soldiers. They asked me only a few questions. But they took everything – cameras, laptops, cellphones, personal belongings including our clothes,” she said.

Kutlu Tiryaki was a captain of another vessel in the flotilla. “We continuously told them we did not have weapons, we came here to bring humanitarian help and not to fight,” he said.

“The attack on the Mavi Marmara came in an instant: they attacked it with 12 or 13 attack boats and also with commandos from helicopters. We heard the gunshots over our portable radio handsets, which we used to communicate with the Mavi Marmara, because our ship communication system was disrupted. There were three or four helicopters also used in the attack. We were told by Mavi Marmara their crew and civilians were being shot at and windows and doors were being broken by Israelis.”

Six Greek activists who returned to Athens accused Israeli commandos of using electric shocks during the raid.

Dimitris Gielalis, who had been aboard the Sfendoni, told reporters: “Suddenly from everywhere we saw inflatables coming at us, and within seconds fully equipped commandos came up on the boat. They came up and used plastic bullets, we had beatings, we had electric shocks, any method we can think of, they used.”

Michalis Grigoropoulos, who was at the wheel of the Free Mediterranean, said: “We were in international waters. The Israelis acted like pirates, completely out of the normal way that they conduct nautical exercises, and seized our ship. They took us hostage, pointing guns at our heads; they descended from helicopters and fired tear gas and bullets. There was absolutely nothing we could do … Those who tried to resist forming a human ring on the bridge were given electric shocks.”

Grigoropoulos, who insisted the ship was full of humanitarian aid bound for Gaza “and nothing more”, said that, once detained, the human rights activists were not allowed to contact a lawyer or the Greek embassy in Tel Aviv. “They didn’t let us go to the toilet, eat or drink water and throughout they videoed us. They confiscated everything, mobile phones, laptops, cameras and personal effects. They only allowed us to keep our papers.”

Turkey said it was sending three ambulance planes to Israel to pick up 20 more Turkish activists injured in the operation.

Three Turkish Airlines planes were on standby, waiting to fly back other activists, the prime minister’s office said.


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Financial Times Says Massacre Damages Israel’s Legitimacy; White House: U.N. Position Is Correct

June 1, 2010 

by Michael Leon

Unarmed Passenger on Turkish Ship Shot by Israeli Murderers

Update: Israel deports human rights activists, Batch of Freedom Flotilla passengers reach Jordan as Israel drops plan to prosecute activists.

A political meme—a set of ideas and perspectives—often reveals the strength of a position on a given issue.

The meme being pushed by Israel on the Massacre in the Mediterranean is that the human rights activists forced Israel’s hand, compelling the state to murder them in international waters. That’s it. That’s the argument.

They were to deliver food and medical supplies, so they needed to be murdered.

Map of Flotilla Before Attack

So weak is this position that the White House actually has now taken the position of the U.N. Security Council statement condemning the acts which resulted in the loss of life.

The U.N. statement is weak, but Israel’s position is absurd.

A Financial Times editorial trashes the rogue state.

Israel is lost at sea

05.31.2010 | Financial Times

Attack on blockade-busters damages its legitimacy

With yesterday’s brazen act of piracy, Israel dealt a blow to the legitimacy of its own struggle. The killing of activists aboard the captured ships sent Israel’s way of defending its security, which it was already imperative to return within the bounds of international law, hurtling into lawlessness.

Israel claims the activists had links with extremist groups and that some attacked Israeli soldiers with knives and sticks (and in some accounts the odd light firearm). Even if true, this would not justify the illegal capture of civilian ships carrying humanitarian aid in international waters, let alone the use of deadly force.

Outrageous as this behaviour was, the true outrage is the illegal blockade of Gaza that it enforced. Since the January 2009 Gaza war, which exposed Israel’s determination to destroy Hamas’s capabilities regardless of the cost to innocent Palestinians, Israel and Egypt have colluded to prevent the enclave’s reconstruction. According to the United Nations, three-quarters of the damage has not been repaired and 60 per cent of homes do not have enough food.

The ostensible goal is to weaken Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot that rules Gaza (and whose Egyptian incarnation is Hosni Mubarak’s only real opposition ). But the blockade aimed at crushing it, besides the illegal collective punishment it implies, only shores up Hamas’s support. If Israel and Egypt wanted to turn Gaza into a mafia-run statelet, they could hardly do better than sever any alternatives to Hamas’s smuggling network, leaving the population even more at its mercy.

Hamas engages in terrorism and fires occasional rockets into Israel, but it is an example of that rarest of Middle Eastern species: a popularly elected government. It has also signed up to the 2002 comprehensive peace offer by the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. If this is a bluff, it is one Israel has yet to call. That is what this is ultimately about. Israel’s government has been pretending it is ready to negotiate for peace, but that there is no one to negotiate with on the other side. The attack on the blockade-busters lays bare the country’s slide into contempt for international law, intolerance of dissent and wilful sabotage of viable representation for Palestinians.

Israel has always known the importance of its conduct being judged legal by the world’s leading powers. Those powers – in the body of the Quartet and the UN Security Council – must now make clear it has gone too far.



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Updated-Israel Sails Into Insanity

June 1, 2010  by Michael Leon

Freedom Flotilla: Massacre at Sea

Update: Coverage of Israeli state terrorism:

Gaza Inquiry Pushed
Gaza Flotilla Attack: Guns and Blood
Gaza aid flotilla: Israeli sabotage suspected
Irish aid boat, MV Rachel Corrie, holds course towards Gaza

Update II: Israel deports human rights activists, Batch of Freedom Flotilla passengers reach Jordan as Israel drops plan to prosecute activists.

Israeli press blackout still in effect.

Israel refuses to release the names of the dead, wounded and detained, announces pending release.

Israel says it acted in self-defense as it assaulted humanitarian ships in international waters.

From Amy Goodman:

For continuing updates, see Witness GazaAl Jazeera and Informed Comment.

By Greta Berlin of the Free Gaza Movement:

The Israeli military has been busy spinning the story of their attack on a civilian convoy trying to deliver aid to the imprisoned people of Gaza.

They’ve had a head start, sending out edited videos, posting ’supposed’ military footage of the passengers attacking them, saying that they confiscated weapons which turned out to be marbles, sling shots, kitchen knives and aluminum chairs.

But they can’t spin for much longer. Video footage from dozens of people is beginning to surface about what really happened. Al Jazeera has posted their coverage as gun shots sound in the background, speakers beg the passengers to go below and a white flag is set out for the paramilitary groups.

More will come out as passengers are released. We already know that Israel shot the captain of the Marmara and the European Campaign boat, maybe hoping that we would no longer be able to hire captains. Several activists have spoken to their Consulates and told of being kicked, beaten, dragged along the ground, tear gassed and bags thrown over their heads.

Knowing that video of this vicious attack in international waters was going to surface, Captain Aria Shaliker of the Israel Defense Forces, who was part of the operation on Monday, said the commandos began the raids armed with paint ball guns.

“I was, myself, on one of the boats, the Israeli boats, approaching the flotilla,” he told the BBC’s World Today programme. “It is true that the Israeli commander unit… came on board with paint ball weapons… in order to disperse people.

No mention of paint-stained clothing.

As Israel’s hysteria mounts, “they now claim “self defense” in attacking ships in international waters today, killing 9. Israel informed the US and Britain that the convoy was ferrying stolen nuclear weapons that would be used for a terrorist attack on Israel. The “stolen nukes” have been in Israel for 18 years while the US has spent billions of dollars and thousands of lives looking for them. Today 9 more died”

The world is watching a county imploding, having a massive nervous breakdown in full view. It’s tragic that thousands of Palestinians have died and 9 human rights workers lost their lives yesterday.


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Video: Israelis Cheer the Massacre at Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv

June 1, 2010

by Michael Leon

Update: Israel deports human rights activists, Batch of Freedom Flotilla passengers reach Jordan as Israel drops plan to prosecute activists.

This comes via Steve Clemons of the Washington Note.

This is a video of Israeli citizens celebrating the Israeli attack on the Turkish ship in front of the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv. There is no sense of remorse at all for those who died — no matter what the reasons.

Israelis cheers the Mediterranean massacre below, a common sentiment in Israel as the state moves sharply to the right, amid militaristic and expansionist policies in an increasingly chauvinistic and repressive culture.




June 1, 2010

by Johnny Punish

US Congress Occuption by Zionism

The US Government is Occupied by an Elite Global Force that No Longer has the Interests of the American people

Will Americans Revolt and Take Back the Country?

Obama is NOT a Mahatma Gandhi Savior
Is the USA now the land of Marginalized Mediocrity?

In response to yesterday’s worldwide condemnation of the Gaza Flotilla Massacre, our US government has decided NOT to stand for justice and has again chosen a path outlined and led by a Global Elite Force that is willing to put the interests of their agenda far ahead of interests of the American people and even the lives of American servicemen and women. 

So far and blatant is their arrogance and contempt for our people, that when it’s clear that an injustice is at play, they continue on as if nothing has happened and ignore it until the next news cycle sending us their PR reps to hit the mainstream media to soft land us back into our hypnotic political stuper.

The gambit has worked in the past because the American public was desensitized to the plight of oppressed peoples vis-a-vie its’ propaganda media machine that delivers intentional sound bites demonizing real people when convenient instead of delivering hard facts and truths to it’s public.

But is this Lack of Empathy Dynamic Changing? 

U.S. Military Lives Lost Directly Related to Israeli Occupation

By not standing for justice, the current administration confirms what the world already knows and what the American public is starting to find out in that the USA is under occupation.

The interests of everyday Americans are being trumped by the interests of the Global Elite Force that many call  Zionism.

But something at home in America is NOT sitting well….

With our children’s education being cut back and our loss of international respect and admiration around world from our nostalgic look back at our “greatest generation” who fought in World War II as if we are no longer a great society but a shell of our once great self, it is starting to hit home with us that maybe something is not right with the USA.  Maybe we are on the wrong side of justice and we’ve become the engine of evil that we once fought against!

Will History Punish us for this “Greed Before Justice” Disposition?

In my view, during World War II, we stood for something and the world admired our grit, heart, and do-good righteous effort. It was grandly rewarded for many years with amazing worldwide admiration and respect.  People wanted to be in America.  They wanted to be Americans!  But now, we stand for nothing!

The world continues to watch us as the leadership train leaves the station while we gorge on our media manipulated ego-centric narci-cystic selves.

And thus, without thought and care, our ability to influence is fading faster than speeding bullet through the heart of real live empathic protester who’s leading the charge to expose injustice in land where food, water, and medical supplies are used in our name as punishment to oppress and control.

  • But why is “Devolution of Greatness” happening to us?
  • Why can’t “We the People” stand for justice once again?
  • Was not “Justice” and “Pursuit of Good” our once proud ideal?

For those partisans who blame one party or the other, I got some bad news for all of you. It does NOT matter who’s in power because they are both beholden to the same masters.  The Global Elite Force are running the show at Foggy Bottom and the losers are everyday people like you and me, not only in the USA but around the world. 

We used to stand for justice for all people because we were once a moral group with a general sense of do-good in our hearts.  Generally, speaking, I still believe the people of America have this value central to it’s heart but it’s being beaten out of us and thwarted by a Global Elite Force that is using us and then slapping us in the face while we stand there and stare like deer in the headlights. 

It’s become so blatant that we are just in a daze at their arrogance and feel helpless as we watch our dignity sold to the highest bidder.   We are being conned by the greatest.  We’re dazed and confused!

So for those of us who are disappointed in Bush or even Obama, did you really expect them to be Gandhi? 

I actually believe Obama is a good man who, if he could within his disposition, would do something great.  But alas, he’s a politician first and a leader second.  He’s no Gandhi!  So let’s stop expecting him to be a savior. Its’ not going to happen.

I mean, he did speak of non-violent protest and encouraged it.  And so when the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza came as a protest against oppression and were swash buckled on the high seas by an attacking state ending in a massacre, what did he do?  Nothing!  No amazing Gandhi moment here folks!  He and his group are paralyzed!  Why?  Because our government is under occupation! 

Americans are Living Under Occupation! 

Obama is NOT a savior who is going to fight against his masters.  For me, it’s a missed opportunity for greatness but for him, he’s probably looking at in a practical pragmatic logical way that his party power is more important than the chance to achieve something more lasting and great that would lift up the human spirit worldwide and put him in up there with the greatest leaders of all time. Nope, sadly for all of us, he’s just another guy in a political suit paying his respects to the monied elite.  It’s no reason to hate him as a person but only to put it all in perspective so that our anger is pointed in the right direction.

Anyway, the point is that the USA is on path to mediocrity as it continues to be marginlized.

Without standing for something like justice for all men, we stand for nothing and thus, in the 21st Century, we will continue to marginalize ourselves into just another country with no specific ideology except get your piece before it’s too late.  Is that what we want in America?

Our greatest generation defined us….but that’s history now and the American people can take pride for that time when we were a special place, a country that once was…. but now, our path is spoken for us and we are just here riding that old wave until it flickers away into the sands of time.

Are you Mad and Angry?  Can We Change What Appears to be this Inevitable Path to Marginalized Mediocrity?

Well, answer these 2 very important questions; 

  1. Are we, the American people, willing to revolt against our Zionist Occupied Government in Washington and put in a government that is fighting for our interests? 
  2. Are you ready to takeover and throw everyone out of power who sells out to foreign interests and tell anyone else we put in that if they sell us out again, they will be dragged from the halls of power and hung by their feet in public shamed forever as a traitor to the people of the United States of America?

Time will tell…..

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Waking up to Monday’s events was disheartening and shocking, to say the least. Throughout the ordeal, Physicians for Human Rights- Israel has remained in constant contact with senior physicians to try and find out the status of injured and deceased victims evacuated to Israeli medical centers. Despite our efforts to help individuals from all over the world who turned to us to help locate their loved ones, it was extremely difficult on Monday and Tuesday to receive official information from Israeli hospitals. Neither PHR-Israel staff, nor affiliated physicians were allowed into hospitals to gather testimony.

As a result of the lingering uncertainty, by Monday afternoon we issued an urgent letter to the Director of Medicine of the Israeli Ministry of Health and the Director General of the Foreign Ministry asking them to set up an emergency hotline for the families of the injured and deceased. We also asked authorities to set up an emergency mechanism accessible to all the families of injured persons, especially those from countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel .

In Monday’s waning afternoon hours, we submitted together with Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Public Committee against Torture (PCATI) a Habeas Corpus petition to the High Court of Justice, demanding information about the health and whereabouts of hospitalized passengers.

Our petition received considerable local media attention. Articles can be found here: (Hebrew),7340,L-3897026,00.html (Hebrew) (Hebrew)

As a result of our petition, a list has been provided to Adalah with the names of hospitalized Flotilla passengers. Even with this list, it’s still not possible to identify all of the passengers; authorities provided names in Hebrew and did not include ID numbers or countries of origin.

Yesterday morning, the Ministry of Health informed us that 54 Flotilla passengers had been admitted to Israeli hospitals Sheba , Hadassah Ein Kerem, Rambam, Beilinson, and Barzilai and that surgeries had been/were being conducted at Sheba and at Rambam Hospitals. Last night, we received word that several patients were transferred from Beilinson Hospital to the medical facilities of the Israeli Prisons Service.

In addition, according to information we’ve received, passengers have been made to sign off on deportation orders written in Hebrew, without understanding what they are being asked to sign.

As things stands today, we have yet to receive word from health officials regarding the establishment of an emergency hotline. We know that at least 31 flotilla passengers are still hospitalized, as well as 3 Israeli soldiers. We know that representatives from certain diplomatic missions visited hospitals both on Monday and Tuesday and that information on foreign nationals from countries without diplomatic ties with Israel is being coordinated by the ICRC.

Since several individuals have undergone intensive care procedures, we feel it is crucial that families be able to reach their loved ones. For this reason, we’ve sent another urgent request to government officials demanding that families be notified of the medical status of their loved ones. In addition, yesterday we coordinated visits between lawyers and hospitalized Flotilla passengers at the Orthopedics Unit at Beilinson Hospital .

We believe that the violence and its tragic consequences necessitate an independent, international investigation. The Israeli government should publicize all documentation of the events, including materials that have been seized from passengers.

Furthermore, as Israeli citizens, we call for the establishment of a National Commission of Inquiry to look into the decisions leading up to the events and for State actors take responsibility for their decisions.

Israel’s decision to stop the Free Gaza Flotilla is further evidence of its ongoing control over the Gaza Strip. For the past three years, Israel has imposed a harsh and illegal blockade against the civilian population in Gaza amounting to collective punishment for political gain. This blockade includes limitations on the right to health, education, human and economic development, as well as a chronic dependence on foreign aid.

These combined factors force the Gaza population to live their lives on the brink of perpetual humanitarian crisis. Through these actions, Israel violates the right of Palestinians to live in dignity, security, and freedom, and steers us further away from the possibility of a just and peaceful solution.


We look forward to providing additional updates in the coming days and appreciate your support. 


Best regards,




Gila Norich


Director of Development


Physicians for Human Rights Israel


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