Archive | June 7th, 2010



Uri Avnery:

 “The Government Is Drowning Us All”

June 6, 2010

by Gordon Duff

The Government Is Drowning Us All” Uri Avnery attacked by rightist thugs

By Uri Avnery

(Editor’s note:  Uri Avnery is the kind of Israeli Hollywood depicted in the movie Exodus.  When you think of Paul Newman, think Uri, fighting inside Israel every day for democracy.)

A disaster was averted yesterday (June 5) at Tel-Aviv’s Museum Square, when rightists threw a smoke grenade into the middle of the protest rally, obviously hoping for a panic to break out and cause the protesters to trample on each other. But the demonstrators remained calm, nobody started to run and just a small space in the middle of the crowd remained empty. The speaker did not stop talking even when the cloud of smoke reached the stage. The audience included many children.

Half an hour later, a dozen rightist thugs attacked Gush Shalom’s 86 year old Uri Avnery, when he was on his way from the rally in the company of his wife, Rachel, Adam Keller and his wife Beate Siversmidt. Avnery had just entered a taxi, when a dozen rightist thugs attacked him and tried to drag him out of the car.

At the critical moment, the police arrived and made it possible for the car to leave. Gush spokesman Adam Keller said: “These cowards did not dare to attack us when we were many, but they were heroes when they caught Avnery alone.”

The incident took place when the more than 10 thousand demonstrators were dispersing, after marching through the streets of Tel Aviv in protest against the attack on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

Not only was this one of the largest peace demonstrations for a long time, but also the first time that all parts of the Israeli peace camp – from Gush Shalom and Hadash to Peace Now and Meretz – did unite for common action

 The main slogan was “The Government Is Drowning All of Us” and “We must Row towards Peace!” – alluding to the attack on the flotilla. The protesters called in unison “Jews and Arabs Refuse to be Enemies!”

The demonstrators assembled at Rabin Square and marched to Museum Square, where the protest rally was held. Originally, this was planned as a demonstration against the occupation on its 43th anniversary, and for peace based on “Two States for Two Peoples” and “Jerusalem – Capital of the Two States”, but recent events turned it mainly into a protest against the attack on the flotilla.

One of the new sights was the great number of national flags, which were flown alongside the red flags of Hadash, the green flags of Meretz and the two-flag emblems of Gush Shalom. Many peace activists have decided that the national flag should no longer be left to the rightists.

“The violence of the rightists is a direct result of the brainwashing, which has been going on throughout the last week,” Avnery commented. “A huge propaganda machine has incited the public in order to cover up the terrible mistakes made by our political and military leadership, mistakes which are becoming worse from day to day.”

Biographical Note:

Uri Avnery created a world sensation when he crossed the lines during the battle of Beirut and met Yassir Arafat on July 3, 1982 — the first time the Palestinian leader ever met with an Israeli. Several Israeli cabinet ministers called for Avnery’s indictment for high treason, while peace activists hailed the meeting as a historical breakthrough. It was the culmination of an effort started by Avnery many years earlier.

Avnery was born as Helmut Ostermann on September 10, 1923, in Beckum, Westphalia. His father, member of an old-established well-to-do German Jewish family, was a private banker in Beckum, and later on a financial expert in Hannover. As a veteran Zionist, he took his family to Palestine immediately upon Hitler’s rise to power (1933). In Palestine, he quickly lost the considerable capital he had brought with him, and had to do hard manual work, as did his wife.

 Avnery (he changed his first and second name on reaching the age of 18, adopting a Hebrew name, as was usual at that time) attended elementary school first in Nahalal, the famous moshav (communal village), and later on in Tel-Aviv. Because of his family’s extreme poverty at that time, he left school after the seventh grade, at the age of 14, and earned his living at many jobs, until he turned to journalism as his profession in 1947.

In 1938, just before turning 15, he joined the Irgun underground (Irgun Tzwai Leumi – National Military Organization), in order to take part in the fight against the British colonial regime. He served for three years, but left the Irgun in protest against its anti-Arab and reactionary social attitudes and terrorist methods. Later he explained his attitude in a booklet entitled “Terrorism, the infantile disease of the Hebrew revolution” (1945). His only brother, Werner, a commando soldier in the British army, was killed in the Ethiopia campaign.

After some years of sporadic political activity, Avnery founded in 1946 the Eretz Yisrael Hatz’ira (“Young Palestine”) movement, also known as the “Bama’avak (Struggle) group” by the name of its publication, which he edited. This group created an unprecedented uproar because of its contention that the Jewish community in Palestine constitutes a “new Hebrew nation” within the Jewish people, and that this nation is a part of Asia and the natural ally of the Arab nation.


In September 1947, on the eve of the Israeli-Palestinian war, Avnery published a booklet entitled “War or Peace in the Semitic Region”, which called for a radically new approach: An alliance of the Hebrew and Arab national movements in order to liberate the common “Semitic Region” (a term coined by Avnery in order to avoid the colonialist term Middle East) from imperialism and colonialism, and create a Semitic community and common market, as a part of the emerging third world.

Excerpts of the booklet were sent to the media throughout the Arab world and mentioned in some Arab newspapers, just before the start of the war.

 At the outbreak of the war, Avnery joined the army (Giv�ati brigade) and later volunteered for “Samson’s Foxes”, a commando unit on the Egyptian front which soon became legendary. He was severely wounded during the last days of the fighting, and after several months of convalescence was discharged in the summer of 1949 with the rank of squad leader.

Throughout the war, Avnery reported on his experiences as a combat soldier who took part in nearly all the major battles on the Jerusalem and southern fronts. These reports, which appeared in the Ha’aretz evening paper, were published after the war as a book, “Bisdoth Pleshet 1948″ (“In the Fields of the Philistines, 1948″), which became overnight the biggest bestseller of that time, and is still generally recognized as the outstanding book of that war, in the tradition of Erich Maria Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front”.

Ten editions were published in quick succession and several more later on. (A new edition was published in April 1998, on the eve of Israel�s 50th anniversary.) However, when he wrote a follow-up, “The Other Side of the Coin”, which described the dark side of the war, including atrocities and the expulsion of the Palestinians, it was boycotted.

In 1949, the editor of Ha’aretz invited Avnery to join his staff as a writer of editorials. After one year Avnery quit, protesting that he was not allowed to express his opinions, especially concerning tmass expropriation of Arab lands by the Ben-Gurion government. Thereupon, in April 1950, he bought a moribund family magazine and turned it into a unique Israeli institution.

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June 6, 2010

by Gordon Duff

Marine Hero Ken O’Keefe



“All I saw in Israel was cowards with guns”…US Marine Ken O’Keefe

By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

The moment Netanyahu and his cabal of right wing thugs got wind of the Freedom Flotilla, the propaganda machine went into high gear.  School children began “duck and cover” exercises, sirens were tested and the warnings of an “armada of death” filled every media outlet, every classroom and, worst of all, the barracks of Israel’s IDF, her once proud fighting force, now cited as 2nd rate at best. 

Years of using “commandos” to battle anti-government demonstrators, Jews who now flood the streets opposing apartheid policies, years of blowing up homes and fighting gun battles with rock throwing teens has left Israel’s military a shadow of what it once was.


YouTube – Veterans Today –

Beatings by gangs of right wing thugs is an everyday occurrence.  Uri Avnery, 86 year old veteran of the 1948 and 1967 wars was attacked by a dozen Netanyahu goons while leaving a rally with his wife Rachel, Adam Keller and his wife Beate Siversmidt.  Avnery was entering a taxi when a dozen thugs attacked and tried to drag him onto the street. 

 Police arrived and managed to extricate several injured thugs from Avernery’s wrath.  Adam Keller said, “These cowards did not dare to attack us when we were many, but they were heroes when they caught Avnery alone.”

Political instability in Israel, rigged elections, ethnic cleansing, political violence and massive financial corruption are tearing at the fabric of society.  Netanyahu has taken a lesson from the playbook of the former Maoist regime in Albania with some of the polish and sophistication of his idol, former US Vice President Dick Cheney.  “Keep em’ scared, keep em’ at each other’s throats.”

US Marine Ken O’Keefe, Tortured But Strong


The years of the athletic and hard working fighters, doing their compulsory national service are over.  In a country with a million “guest workers” doing the heavy lifting, Israel’s young soldiers aren’t a shadow of America’s professional military, not anymore. 

“Crack units on the Golan Heights still measure up but, in general, the IDF is kids, much like American kids, some are American kids, make up a highly unmotivated “draftee” army whose training and morale have deteriorated significantly,” says a top US army specialist on the IDF.  “Our kids could eat them for breakfast, something that wasn’t true of the American military in the years just after Vietnam.  Today’s American military is head and shoulders above Israel and they know it, know it well.”


Israel’s propaganda machine, drunk with its successes in managing the news in the US through its stranglehold on the media, went overboard in reaction to the powerful forces aligned against them in the Freedom Flotilla, a virtual army of highly credible and dedicated activists from countries around the world. 

Israel started by contacting the US and Britain indicating that the Flotilla was carrying weapons of mass destruction, including a missing atomic bomb, part of a secret inquiry in Britain tied to the death of weapons expert Dr. David Kelly. 

Israel then briefed her own forces, troops she calls “Commandos” but actually semi-trained draftees with little but crowd control experience, by telling them that the Flotilla was an Al Qaeda “invasion task force,” that was “armed to the teeth.”  The initial attack on the unarmed peace activists was vigorously opposed and several Israeli “Commandos” were disarmed and captured, only after executing two civilians and wounding over a dozen more. 

United States Marine Ken O’Keefe, a combat veteran of Gulf War I, with help from another peace activist,” seized two heavily armed “Commandos,” he saw involved in killings, disarming them and detaining them:

“I said this straight to Israeli agents, probably of Mossad or Shin Bet, and I say it again now, on the morning of the attack I was directly involved in the disarming of two Israeli Commandos.  This was a forcible, non-negotiable, separation of weapons from commandos who had already murdered two brothers that I had seen that day. 

 One brother with a bullet entering dead center in his forehead, in what appeared to be an execution.  I knew the commandos were murdering when I removed a 9mm pistol from one of them.  I had that gun in my hands and as an ex-US Marine with training in the use of guns it was completely within my power to use that gun on the commando who may have been the murderer of one of my brothers. 

 But that is not what I, nor any other defender of the ship did.  I took that weapon away, removed the bullets, proper lead bullets, separated them from the weapon and hid the gun.  I did this in the hopes that we would repel the attack and submit this weapon as evidence in a criminal trial against Israeli authorities for mass murder.

I also helped to physically separate one commando from his assault rifle, which another brother apparently through into the sea.  I and hundreds of others know the truth that makes a mockery of the brave and moral Israeli military.  We had in our full possession, three completely disarmed and helpless commandos. 

These boys were at our mercy, they were out of reach of their fellow murderers, inside the ship and surrounded by 100 or more men.  I looked into the eyes of all three of these boys and I can tell you they had the fear of God in them.  They looked at us as if we were them, and I have no doubt they did not believe there was any way they would survive that day.  They looked like frightened children in the face of an abusive father.”

The subsequent “Commando” task force sent to rescue the captive “Commandos” from the peace activists holding them was given an even grimmer briefing, confirmed by multiple sources.  The IDF forces were told their comrades had been “hanged by Al Qaeda” forces in command of the Turkish humanitarian ship and to come in “guns blazing” and “leave nothing moving, not man, woman or beast.” 


Reports from detainees, including United States Military have been universal in describing brutal abuse of those taken off the Flotilla ships in international waters.  American Marine, Ken O’Keefe, who was on the flotilla with Army Colonel Ann Wright, describes his experience:

While in Israeli custody I, along with everyone else was subjected to endless abuse and flagrant acts of disrespect.  Women and elderly were physically and mentally assaulted.  Access to food and water and toilets was denied. 

Dogs were used against us, we ourselves were treated like dogs.  We were exposed to direct sun in stress positions while hand cuffed to the point of losing circulation of blood in our hands.  We were lied to incessantly, in fact I am awed at the routineness and comfort in their ability to lie, it is remarkable really.  We were abused in just about every way imaginable and I myself was beaten and choked to the point of blacking out… and I was beaten again while in my cell.

In all this what I saw more than anything else were cowards… and yet I also see my brothers.  Because no matter how vile and wrong the Israeli agents and government are, they are still my brothers and sisters and for now I only have pity for them.  Because they are relinquishing the most precious thing a human being has, their humanity.


When Israel attacked the USS Liberty in 1967, killing 34 American sailors and wounding 171, they submitted “gun camera” footage to justify the attack.  Their film showed no flag on the American naval vessel.  However, when a rescue ship arrived to aid the Liberty, her flag was flying, filled with holes, but flying on a ship that was bombed, strafed and torpedoed in repeated attacks for hours.  This was the first of many shoody video and photo con jobs Israel would use to cover criminal acts.

The 2001 filming of the World Trade Center attack by a Mossad team using sophisticated High Definition cameras, set up in advance of the attack, was broken up when NYPD arrested the team as terrorists.  Were it not for the diligence of the New York Police and the enraged citizens who witnessed the film team dancing in the streets when the planes hit the twin towers, we would have even more evidence.  Was the intention to show Osama bin Laden waving from the pilots seat?

With the now widely confirmed death of Osama bin Laden on December 15, 2001, the regularly “found” audio and video tapes of “department store Santa” versions of bin Laden are more Mossad-IDF workmanship.  IDF run “SITE Intelligence,” the source of the endless stream of bogus terrorist warnings “found on the internet” averages one a month.

Film crews working for the IDF, not only heavily edited films of their brutal attack on the Freedom Flotilla but digitally altered sections and added footage staged later.  Photos of weapons seized onboard ship, given to international press, had digital signatures indicating they had been taken in 2006.  Actual photos of the “weapons cache” on the Turkish ship were received through sources in the French government.



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June 7, 2010

by Gordon Duff


By Jim W. Dean for Veterans Today

Dear Folks, The silver lining in all this is that a lot of the ‘neutral’ folks are finally having their eyes opened. Additionally, the Zionist media steamroller was openly put on display with the usual American sock puppets on display like John McCain, a disgrace because he has given the cold shoulder to the USS Liberty survivors. He, and the Navy, have left their dead and wounded ‘on the field’ by refusing to acknowledge the purposeful attack. I have interviewed communications tech people who listened to the Israeli air controllers. This is no secret. These guys are still alive, willing to talk, and their phones never ring. It’s like they don’t exist, similiar to what Golda Meir said about the Palestinian people…a virtual holocausting.

Among Israel’s huge intelligence operations here are political corruption and media infiltration and co-option. Media especially is a wonderful spy position. You and interview officials ‘off the record’ and you have the reporter source protection, And Israel does not have to pay their salaries, medical benefits or pensions. No media person has ever been arrested for spying for Israel. They do it right out in the open.

What needs to happen now is a complete economic boycott of Israel and the demand by people around the world for their Intelligence organs open their files on Israeli espionage. By hiding that they damn well know to be true they are in effect a national security risk to their own people as the public is not as alert as  it needs to be to protect themselves.

I have never met an military or civil intelligenc officer who was not bascially aware of this, but most see no conflict with their oath to ‘defend the country from all enemies, foreign and domestic’. When I bring the oath part up to them I can tell they have never even considered that little item before.

When I talk to politicians about this, off the record of course, they routinely just say ‘they are too powerful…there is just nothing that can be done about it.’

When Russia was being subverted by these folks their Intel people finally moved against them and cleaned the oligarch megacrooks out. You saw American Congresscritters come immediately to their defense…despite their being the Bernie Madoffs of Russia. Why no shame? Because they no there will be no price to pay for it, that is why. And until we continue to take it lying down they will have nothing but contempt for us, which in a way is fair, because we will deserve it.

If you want to rattle their cage at very low cost and expense, gather up a good group of well known vets and some Intel people and ask to have a meeting with each of your Congressmen and Senators, and ask the what is the problem in not taking more action against Israeli Intel operations here. Watch the reaction you will get.
If you could tap their phones, you would find they will be calling their AIPAC contact before you have even reached the parking lot, asking what they should do.
It’s an American disgrace, and our Founding Fathers are rolling over in their graves.

Jim Dean is the producer of Heritage TV and a member of Georgia Heritage Council and the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.

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Bush, Cheney May Face Prosecution For Medical Experiments On Detainees

June 7, 2010

by Gordon Duff

Evidence Indicates that the Bush Administration Conducted Experiments and Research on Detainees to Design Torture Techniques and Create Legal Cover

Illegal Activity Would Violate Nuremberg Code and Could Open Door to Prosecution

(Cambridge, MA) In the most comprehensive investigation to date of health professionals’ involvement in the CIA’s “enhanced” interrogation program (EIP), Physicians For Human Rights has uncovered evidence that indicates the Bush administration apparently conducted illegal and unethical human experimentation and research on detainees in CIA custody.

The apparent experimentation and research appear to have been performed to provide legal cover for torture, as well as to help justify and shape future procedures and policies governing the use of the “enhanced” interrogation techniques. The PHR report, Experiments in Torture: Human Subject Research and Evidence of Experimentation in the ‘Enhanced’ Interrogation Program, is the first to provide evidence that CIA medical personnel engaged in the crime of illegal experimentation after 9/11, in addition to the previously disclosed crime of torture.

This evidence indicating apparent research and experimentation on detainees opens the door to potential additional legal liability for the CIA and Bush-era officials. There is no publicly available evidence that the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel determined that the alleged experimentation and research performed on detainees was lawful, as it did with the “enhanced” techniques themselves.

“The CIA appears to have broken all accepted legal and ethical standards put in place since the Second World War to protect prisoners from being the subjects of experimentation,” said Frank Donaghue, PHR’s Chief Executive Officer. “Not only are these alleged acts gross violations of human rights law, they are a grave affront to America’s core values.”

Physicians for Human Rights demands that President Obama direct the Attorney General to investigate these allegations, and if a crime is found to have been committed, prosecute those responsible.

Additionally, Congress must immediately amend the War Crimes Act (WCA) to remove changes made to the WCA in 2006 by the Bush Administration that allow a more permissive definition of the crime of illegal experimentation on detainees in US custody. The more lenient 2006 language of the WCA was made retroactive to all acts committed by US personnel since 1997.

“In their attempt to justify the war crime of torture, the CIA appears to have committed another alleged war crime – illegal experimentation on prisoners,” said Nathaniel A. Raymond, Director of PHR’s Campaign Against Torture and lead report author. “Justice Department lawyers appear to never have assessed the lawfulness of the alleged research on detainees in CIA custody, despite how essential it appears to have been to their legal cover for torture.”

PHR’s report, Experiments in Torture, is relevant to present-day national security interrogations, as well as Bush-era detainee treatment policies. As recently as February, 2010, President Obama’s then director of national intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, disclosed that the US had established an elite interrogation unit that will conduct “scientific research” to improve the questioning of suspected terrorists. Admiral Blair declined to provide important details about this effort.

“If health professionals participated in unethical human subject research and experimentation they should be held to account,” stated Scott A. Allen, MD, a medical advisor to Physicians for Human Rights and lead medical author of the report. “Any health professional who violates their ethical codes by employing their professional expertise to calibrate and study the infliction of harm disgraces the health profession and makes a mockery of the practice of medicine.”

Several prominent individuals and organizations in addition to PHR will file a complaint this week with the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) and call for an OHRP investigation of the CIA’s Office of Medical Services.

The PHR report indicates that there is evidence that health professionals engaged in research on detainees that violates the Geneva Conventions, The Common Rule, the Nuremberg Code and other international and domestic prohibitions against illegal human subject research and experimentation. Declassified government documents indicate that:

  • Research and medical experimentation on detainees was used to measure the effects of large- volume waterboarding and adjust the procedure according to the results. After medical monitoring and advice, the CIA experimentally added saline, in an attempt to prevent putting detainees in a coma or killing them through over-ingestion of large amounts of plain water. The report observes: “‘Waterboarding 2.0′ was the product of the CIA’s developing and field-testing an intentionally harmful practice, using systematic medical monitoring and the application of subsequent generalizable knowledge.”
  • Health professionals monitored sleep deprivation on more than a dozen detainees in 48-, 96- and 180-hour increments. This research was apparently used to monitor and assess the effects of varying levels of sleep deprivation to support legal definitions of torture and to plan future sleep deprivation techniques.
  • Health professionals appear to have analyzed data, based on their observations of 25 detainees who were subjected to individual and combined applications of “enhanced” interrogation techniques, to determine whether one type of application over another would increase the subject’s “susceptibility to severe pain.” The alleged research appears to have been undertaken only to assess the legality of the “enhanced” interrogation tactics and to guide future application of the techniques.

Experiments in Torture: Human Subject Research and Experimentation in the ‘Enhanced’ Interrogation Program is the most in-depth expert review to date of the legal and medical ethics issues concerning health professionals’ involvement in researching, designing and supervising the CIA’s “enhanced” interrogation program.

The Experiments in Torture report is the result of six months of investigation and the review of thousands of pages of government documents. It has been peer-reviewed by outside experts in the medical, biomedical and research ethics fields, legal experts, health professionals and experts in the treatment of torture survivors.

The lead author for this report was Nathaniel Raymond, Director of the Campaign Against Torture, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) and the lead medical author was Scott Allen, MD, Co-Director of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at Brown University and Medical Advisor to PHR. They were joined in its writing by Vincent Iacopino, MD, PhD, PHR Senior Medical Advisor; Allen Keller, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, NYU School of Medicine, Director, Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture; Stephen Soldz, PhD, President-elect of Psychologists for Social Responsibility and Director of the Center for Research, Evaluation and Program Development at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis; Steven Reisner, PhD, PHR Advisor on Ethics and Psychology; and John Bradshaw, JD, PHR Chief Policy Officer and Director of PHR’s Washington Office.

The report was extensively peer reviewed by leading experts in related medical, legal, ethical and governmental fields addressed in the document.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) mobilizes the health professions to advance the health and dignity of all people by protecting human rights. As a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, PHR shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.




From Anna Baltzer, traveling in Palestine.

 June 7th, 2010

The Aftermath of the Flotilla

  Last night marked one week since Israel’s attack in international waters on the Mavi Marmara Turkish humanitarian ship bound for Gaza, killing nine. One by one, the hundreds of witnesses aboard the vessels have been returning home to tell their stories after being stripped of any and all footage.

By confiscating all non-military evidence of the incident, Israel has been able to successfully dominate the narrative, at least in the US where news of the attack had begun to dwindle by the time witnesses were released. One wonders, if Israel is conveying the whole story of what happened that night, why eliminate every single other piece of documentation? What does Israel have to hide?

According to hundreds of eyewitnesses, the Navy shot at the boat and threw tear gas and sound bombs before boarding the ship, and then hit the ground shooting. The videos released by Israel show those aboard the ship attacking soldiers with sticks. Israel claims that the deaths were an accident, that the soldiers were startled by the sticks and thus forced to shoot people to defend themselves.

Now let’s put things into perspective. In 2005, the Israeli Army removed 8,000 ideological settlers from Gaza, many of them kicking and screaming with sticks and rocks in hand. The Army managed not to kill or even shoot a single one of them. Do sticks from Turks hurt more, or is it not about the sticks at all?

As Dr. Norman Finkelstein pointed out, Israeli officials met for an entire week prior to the flotilla to plan precisely what they intended to do. The Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren himself stated that the Mavi Marmara was simply “too large to stop with nonviolent means.” It’s hard to believe that this was an accident.

While the world focuses on the flotilla and Gaza, Israel’s restrictions on Palestinian rights in the rest of Palestine continue to tighten. On Friday, soldiers surrounded the Old City in Jerusalem to prevent Muslim men from praying at Al-Aqsa mosque. Only those younger than 15 or older than 40 were allowed through. Hundreds of men gathered outside the metal bars installed by the Army around the city gates. Frustrated, many men sat down to wait to pray on the sidewalk, but soldiers on horseback pushed through the crowd, forcing the men to scatter.

It’s important to note that many Palestinians wait for years to receive a permit to visit Jerusalem for just one day. Sometimes the permits are valid only for a few hours. I saw a woman in Beit Sahour whom I’d met in Syracuse last Fall.

She said it’s easier for her to travel to New York than to go 10 miles away to Jerusalem. She said often permits are sent to the wrong village and families fall over themselves to get the permit to the right person in time, often failing. At the gates, some men argued with the soldiers, close to tears, not knowing if they would ever get another chance to realize a life-long dream of praying at their country’s holiest site.

Eventually, hundreds of men began to gather next to the wall of the Old City and across the street. If they could not enter, they would pray as close as they could. As the call to prayer rang out (at least sound can overcome walls), a noticeable calm came over the space as they bowed down in unison. The soldiers stood over the group, some filming with cameras. In the middle of the group were an olive tree and a young child who stood by himself, watching.

When the prayers ended, those who hadn’t brought prayer mats wiped the dirt off their foreheads and gathered with others across the street where an imam had started to speak. Lara, a Palestinian delegate in our group translated bits and pieces of what he said.

The sermon was about the importance of compassion and justice in Islam. There they were, being denied their religious freedom, and they were talking about compassion. The imam asked that their prayers be accepted even though they could not be in the house of God. At one point, he raised his finger and called out the following: “Someday, we will live in a place where it doesn’t matter what color your skin is, or where you’re from.” With every sentence the group resounded in a collective “Amen.”

After the prayers, hundreds of women and older men poured out, one of whom told me he’d seen a man beaten by the Army for calling out against Israel’s attacks on the flotilla. This is likely precisely what the Army wanted to avoid by keeping Muslims from congregating at the mosque, and they had been largely successful, at least so they thought.

Just as I was turning to return to the hotel, I heard a chorus of women’s voices coming from inside the city walls. Soon a large group of women emerged carrying a Turkish flag and singing out familiar calls for justice and praising those who gave their lives to free Gaza. The soldiers thought that keeping the men out would be enough, but they had underestimated the women.

Israel has also underestimated the international civilian community, which continues to speak out. Day and night, we watch protests around the world unfold one after another, seemingly stronger and larger by the day: Japan, Paris, India, Oslo, Australia, and beyond. This is being called “Israel’s Kent State.”

Far more significant than protests is the fact that worldwide disapproval has been transforming into concrete rejection of normalization with Israel, including major victories for the Palestinian movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) on Israel until it complies with international law.

This past week, the student body at Evergreen College voted to divest from “Israel’s illegal occupation.” Before she was run over by Israeli soldiers in a US-made Caterpillar bulldozer in Gaza, Rachel Corrie had attended Evergreen. Along with divesting, students have voted for a “Caterpillar free” campus. You can support the students by clicking here.

A week before the flotilla, Italy’s largest supermarkets COOP and Nordiconad announced a boycott of the Israeli produce company, Carmel Agrexco. Four days later, Deutsche Bank (Germany’s largest bank, worth more than $1 trillion) announced divestment from Elbit Systems, an Israeli firm that supplies technology for Israel’s military, settlements, and Wall (as well as the Wall between the US and Mexico). Deutsche Bank was one of the company’s largest share-holders.

The next day, it was announced that Sweden’s largest national pension funds were also divesting from Elbit. (Norway did the same more than one year ago.) Going a step further, the Swedish Port Workers Union announced last Wednesday that it would temporarily stop handling Israeli cargo in response to the attacks on the flotilla.

On the same day, Britain’s largest union, Unite, passed a unanimous motion “to vigorously promote a policy of divestment from Israeli companies” and to boycott Israeli goods and services as in “the boycott of South African goods during the era of apartheid.”

Then yesterday, the Pixies canceled of their upcoming concert in Israel in response to Israel’s attack on the flotilla. Musical artists Klaxons and Gorillaz canceled as well. This on the heels of cancelations by Santana, Gil Scott-Heron, Snoop Dog, Sting, and Elvis Costello.

These are but a few of the BDS victories that have happened just in the last month. The movement that officially began in 2005 crossed its first threshold in 2009 (having gained in four years the same momentum it took the BDS movement against South Africa 20 years to achieve), but 2010 has brought it to a new level.

Last month marked 62 years since 80% of the families in Gaza were displaced during Israel’s creation, the Palestinian Nakba. And this week marks 43 years since Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The Occupation has been in place 70% of Israel’s life-span so far. It is not temporary. And it is but one part of the problem. Along with Israel’s discrimination against Palestinians within Israel’s de-facto borders and outside historic Palestine, the Occupation will not be stopped voluntarily by Israel.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” I spoke with a member of Boycott from Within (Israelis supporting the Palestinian BDS Call) paraphrased a common phrase during the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa: We will bring them to their senses, or we will bring them to their knees. For Israel, as was the case for the South African Apartheid government, the former has simply never worked.

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Dear Friends,

 I apologize.  This message began with 2 items (the first 2), but as a result of continued reading it has expanded to 5, and I am sure that should I have continued to examine more email and electronic editions of the world’s media, I would have added yet more.  But enough is enough.

Spouse and I returned a few days ago from the relative peacefulness of the San Francisco Bay Area to the horrific events surrounding the flotilla.  Apart from totally identifying with the goal of the boats, several of the organizers of the Free Gaza movement are close friends, as are several of the people on the ships.  So it was with considerable shock that I learned that Israel had attacked the largest ship with live ammunition, had descended at night on the ship, had killed 9 activists (mis-termed ‘terrorists’ by the Israeli leadership and media). 

Spouse’s and my first contact with Israeli opinion was on the way home from the airport on June 2.  Our taxi driver reiterated the Israeli propaganda line word for word.  Nice guy, I thought, but totally ignorant, as are most Israelis.  Most are also ignorant of how the rest of the world perceives Israel, particularly in wake of the attack.  Israel may not have lost the support of the US and most European leaders, but the people—that’s a different story!  And while I agree with Lieberman on one thing, that countries establish relations not out of love but out of interests, eventually the electorate could change the interests even of Israel’s staunchest supporter: America.

Meanwhile, notwithstanding the tragedy, the flotilla was not for naught.  Egypt has announced (item 3) that the blockade of Gaza has failed, and that the Rafa border crossing will remain open indefinitely. Whether this is Mubarak’s true feeling or the pressure of the Muslim Brotherhood blowing down his neck, let’s hope that Egypt keeps its word.  Additionally, a number of additional flotillas are in the making, including a Jewish one (final item).  Moreover, boycotts and sanctions are making headway, among these are several cultural cancellations (item 4). 

Of the items below, the first (a diary) is the longest.  If you haven’t time to read the whole, skip down to May 30th.  The 2nd is an overview of how one Israeli perceives the situation.  The 3rd is Egypt’s announcement, followed by  an unhappy Israeli reaction to the Pixies’ cancellation of its Israel gig.  The 5th item is about the Jewish flotilla.  And there is after all also a 6th item.  I made the mistake of checking the email before sending this off.  So it concludes with an eye-witness account by a flotilla participant of the events on that fateful day on board the Mavi Marmara.  I doubt that you will regret my having included it.

All the best,



1. The Guardian, Saturday 5 June 2010 

News Saturday Flotilla raid diary: ‘A man is shot. I am seeing it happen’

The prize-winning writer and creator of Wallander [Henning Mankell] was among those on board the Gaza flotilla. Here he shares his private diary of the events leading to his capture

On board the Mavi Marmara: ‘The Israelis have behaved like pirates.’

It is five o’clock in the morning and I’m standing in the street waiting for the taxi that will take me to the airport in Nice. It’s the first time in ages E and I have had some time off together. Initially we thought we’d be able to stretch it to two weeks. It turned out to be five days. Ship to Gaza finally seems to be ready to set off and I’m to travel to Cyprus to join it, as arranged.

As instructed, I’ve limited my luggage to a rucksack weighing no more than 10 kilos. Ship to Gaza has a clearly defined goal: to break Israel’s illegal blockade. After the war a year ago, life has become more and more unbearable for the Palestinians who live in Gaza. There is a huge shortage of the bare necessities for living any sort of decent life.

But the aim of the voyage is of course more explicit. Deeds, not words, I think. It’s easy to say you support or defend or oppose this, that and the other. But only action can provide proof of your words.

The Palestinians who have been forced by the Israelis to live in this misery need to know that they are not alone, not forgotten. The world has to be reminded of their existence. And we can do that by loading some ships with what they need most of all: medicines, desalination plants for drinking water, cement.

The taxi arrives, we agree a price – extortionate! – and drive to the airport through empty, early morning streets. It comes to me now that I made my first note, there in the taxi. I don’t remember the exact words, but I’m suddenly disconcerted by a sense of not quite having managed to register that this is a project so hated by the Israelis that they might try to stop the convoy by violent means.

By the time I get to the airport, the thought has gone. On this point, too, the project is very clearly defined. We are to use non-violent tactics; there are no weapons, no intention of physical confrontation. If we’re stopped, it ought to happen in a way that doesn’t put our lives at risk.

Wednesday 26 May, Nicosia

It’s warmer than in Nice. Those who are to board the ships somewhere off the coast of Cyprus are gathering at Hotel Centrum in Nicosia. It’s like being in an old Graham Greene novel. A collection of odd people assembling in some godforsaken place to set off on a journey together. We’re going to break an illegal blockade. The words are repeated in a variety of languages. But suddenly there’s a great sense of uncertainty.

The ships are late, various problems have arisen, the coordinates still haven’t been set for the actual rendezvous. The only thing that’s certain is that it will be out at sea. Cyprus doesn’t want our six ships putting in here. Presumably Israel has applied pressure.

Now and then I also note tensions between the various groups that make up the leadership of this unwieldy project. The breakfast room has been pressed into service as a secretive meeting room. We are called in to write details of our next of kin, in case of the worst. Everyone writes away busily. Then we are told to wait. Watch and wait. Those are the words that will be used most often, like a mantra, in the coming days. Wait. Watch and wait.

Thursday 27 May, Nicosia

Wait. Watch and wait. Oppressive heat.

Friday 28 May, Nicosia

I suddenly start to wonder whether I may have to leave the island without getting onto a ship. There seems to be a shortage of places. There are apparently waiting lists for this project of solidarity. But K, the friendly Swedish MP, and S, the Swedish female doctor, who are travelling with me help keep my spirits up. Travel by ship always involves some kind of bother, I think. We carry on with our task. Of waiting. Watching and waiting.

Saturday 29 May, Nicosia

Suddenly everything happens very quickly. We are now, but of course still only maybe, to travel sometime today on a different, faster ship to the point out at sea where the coordinates meet, and there we will join the convoy of five other vessels that will then head as a single flotilla for the Gaza Strip.

We carry on waiting. But at about 5pm the port authorities finally give us permission to board a ship called the Challenge, which will take us at a speed of 15 knots to the rendezvous point, where we will transfer to the cargo ship Sophia. There are already lots of people aboard the Challenge.

They seem a bit disappointed to see the three of us turn up. They had been hoping for some Irish campaigners who have, however, suddenly given up the idea and gone home. We climb aboard, say hello, quickly learn the rules. It’s very cramped, plastic bags full of shoes everywhere, but the mood is good, calm. All the question marks seem to have been ironed out now. Soon after the two diesel engines rumble into life. We’re finally underway.


I’ve found a chair on the rear deck. The wind is not blowing hard, but enough to make a lot of the passengers seasick. I have wrapped myself up in blankets, and watch the moon cast an illuminated trail across the sea. I think to myself that solidarity actions can take many forms. The rumbling means there is not a lot of conversation. Just now, the journey feels very peaceful. But deceptively so.

Sunday 30 May, at sea, south-east of Cyprus, 01.00

I can see the glimmer of lights in various directions. The captain, whose name I never manage to learn, has slowed his speed. The lights flickering in the distance are the navigation lights of two of the other ships in the convoy. We are going to lie here until daylight, when people can be transferred to other vessels. But I still can’t find anywhere to sleep. I stay in my wet chair and doze.

Solidarity is born in dampness and waiting; but we are helping others to get roofs over their heads.


The sea is calmer. We are approaching the largest vessel in the flotilla. It’s a passenger ferry, the “queen” of the ships in the convoy. There are hundreds of people on board. There has been much discussion of the likelihood of the Israelis focusing their efforts on this particular ship.

What efforts? We’ve naturally been chewing that over ever since the start of the project. Nothing can be known with any certainty. Will the Israeli navy sink the ships? Or repel them by some other means? Is there any chance the Israelis will let us through, and repair their tarnished reputation? Nobody knows. But it seems most likely that we’ll be challenged at the border with Israeli territorial waters by threatening voices from loudspeakers on naval vessels. If we fail to stop, they will probably knock out our propellers or rudders, then tow us somewhere for repair.


The three of us transfer to the Sophia by rope ladder. She is a limping old cargo ship, with plenty of rust and an affectionate crew. I calculate that we are about 25 people in all. The cargo includes cement, reinforcement bars and prefabricated wooden houses. I am given a cabin to share with the MP, whom I view after the long days in Nicosia more and more as a very old friend. We find it has no electric light. We’ll have to catch up on our reading some other time.


The convoy has assembled. We head for Gaza.


We gather in the improvised dining area between the cargo hatches and the ship’s superstructure. The grey-haired Greek who is responsible for security and organisation on board, apart from the nautical aspects, speaks softly and immediately inspires confidence. Words like “wait” and “watch” no longer exist. Now we are getting close. The only question is: what are we getting close to?

Nobody knows what the Israelis will come up with. We only know that their statements have been menacing, announcing that the convoy will be repelled with all the means at their disposal. But what does that mean? Torpedoes? Hawsers? Soldiers let down from helicopters? We can’t know. But violence will not be met with violence from our side.

Only elementary self-defence. We can, on the other hand, make things harder for our attackers. Barbed wire is to be strung all round the ship’s rail. In addition, we are all to get used to wearing life jackets, lookouts are to be posted and we will be told where to assemble if foreign soldiers come aboard. Our last bastion will be the bridge.

Then we eat. The cook is from Egypt, and suffers with a bad leg. But he cooks great food.

Monday 31 May, midnight

I share the watch on the port side from midnight to 3am. The moon is still big, though occasionally obscured by cloud. The sea is calm. The navigation lights gleam. The three hours pass quickly. I notice I am tired when someone else takes over. It’s still a long way to anything like a territorial boundary the Israelis could legitimately defend. I should try to snatch a few hours’ sleep.

I drink tea, chat to a Greek crewman whose English is very poor but who insists he wants to know what my books are about. It’s almost four before I get to lie down.


I’ve just dropped off when I am woken again. Out on deck I see that the big passenger ferry is floodlit. Suddenly there is the sound of gunfire. So now I know that Israel has chosen the route of brutal confrontation. In international waters.

It takes exactly an hour for the speeding black rubber dinghies with the masked soldiers to reach us and start to board. We gather, up on the bridge. The soldiers are impatient and want us down on deck. Someone who is going too slowly immediately gets a stun device fired into his arm. He falls. Another man who is not moving fast enough is shot with a rubber bullet. I think: I am seeing this happen right beside me. It is an absolute reality. People who have done nothing being driven like animals, being punished for their slowness.

We are put in a group down on the deck. Where we will then stay for 11 hours, until the ship docks in Israel. Every so often we are filmed. When I jot down a few notes, a soldier comes over at once and asks what I am writing. That’s the only time I lose my temper, and tell him it’s none of his business. I can only see his eyes; don’t know what he is thinking. But he turns and goes.

Eleven hours, unable to move, packed together in the heat. If we want to go for a pee, we have to ask permission. The food they give us is biscuits, rusks and apples. We’re not allowed to make coffee, even though we could do it where we are sitting. We take a collective decision: not to ask if we can cook food.

Then they would film us. It would be presented as showing how generously the soldiers had treated us. We stick to the biscuits and rusks. It is degradation beyond compare. (Meanwhile, the soldiers who are off-duty have dragged mattresses out of the cabins and are sleeping at the back of the deck.)

So in those 11 hours, I have time to take stock. We have been attacked while in international waters. That means the Israelis have behaved like pirates, no better than those who operate off the coast of Somalia. The moment they start to steer this ship towards Israel, we have also been kidnapped. The whole action is illegal.We try to talk among ourselves, work out what might happen, and not least how the Israelis could opt for a course of action that means painting themselves into a corner.

The soldiers watch us. Some pretend not to understand English. But they all do. There are a couple of girls among the soldiers. They look the most embarrassed. Maybe they are the sort who will escape to Goa and fall into drug addiction when their military service is over? It happens all the time.


Quayside somewhere in Israel. I don’t know where. We are taken ashore and forced to run the gauntlet of rows of soldiers while military TV films us. It suddenly hits me that this is something I shall never forgive them. At that moment they are nothing more to my mind than pigs and bastards.

We are split up, no one is allowed to talk to anyone else. Suddenly a man from the Israeli ministry for foreign affairs appears at my side. I realise he is there to make sure I am not treated too harshly. I am, after all, known as a writer in Israel. I’ve been translated into Hebrew. He asks if I need anything.

‘My freedom and everybody else’s,’ I say. He doesn’t answer. I ask him to go. He takes one step back. But he stays.

I admit to nothing, of course, and am told I am to be deported. The man who says this also says he rates my books highly. That makes me consider ensuring nothing I write is ever translated into Hebrew again.

Agitation and chaos reign in this “asylum-seekers’ reception centre”. Every so often, someone is knocked to the ground, tied up and handcuffed. I think several times that no one will believe me when I tell them about this. But there are many eyes to see it. Many people will be obliged to admit that I am telling the truth. There are a lot of us who can bear witness.

A single example will do. Right beside me, a man suddenly refuses to have his fingerprints taken. He accepts being photographed. But fingerprints? He doesn’t consider he has done anything wrong. He resists. And is beaten to the ground. They drag him off. I don’t know where. What word can I use? Loathsome? Inhuman? There are plenty to choose from.


We, the MP, the doctor and I, are taken to a prison for those refused right of entry. There we are split up. We are thrown a few sandwiches that taste like old dishcloths. It’s a long night. I use my trainers as a pillow.

Tuesday 1 June, afternoon

Without any warning, the MP and I are taken to a Lufthansa plane. We are to be deported. We refuse to go until we know what is happening to S Once we have assured ourselves that she, too, is on her way, we leave our cell.

On board the plane, the air hostess gives me a pair of socks. Because mine were stolen by one of the commandos who attacked the boat I was on.

The myth of the brave and utterly infallible Israeli soldier is shattered. Now we can add: they are common thieves. For I was not the only one to be robbed of my money, credit card, clothes, MP3 player, laptop; the same happened to many others on the same ship as me, which was attacked early one morning by masked Israeli soldiers, who were thus in fact nothing other than lying pirates.

By late evening we are back in Sweden. I talk to some journalists. Then I sit for a while in the darkness outside the house where I live. E doesn’t say much.

Wednesday 2 June, afternoon

I listen to the blackbird. A song for those who died.

Now it is still all left to do. So as not to lose sight of the goal, which is to lift the brutal blockade of Gaza. That will happen.

Beyond that goal, others are waiting. Demolishing a system of apartheid takes time. But not an eternity.


2. We have lost our way

By Julia Chaitin, PhD

Jun 7, 2010

North Texas e-news

I have been trying to get my head around what happened on the Gaza flotilla, with no success.

When I turned on the Israeli news at 6:40 a.m. on Monday morning, knowing that the flotilla must be nearing our shores, the broadcaster’s first words were a knife to the heart: “Something very bad has happened. The commanders knew ahead of time that this was a lose-lose situation…” I could not help but wonder why the naval commanders (and obviously the higher-ups in the government) would knowingly go into a situation that was “lose-lose.”

I could not help but wonder why, once again, we had thrust ourselves into an impossible situation, endangered so many lives, perpetuated violence and severely damaged our relations with the world community in a nonsensical effort to enforce the unjustifiable blockade of the Gaza Strip.

I can turn off the radio and television and internet, but I cannot turn off my thoughts about all that has happened this week. My thoughts revolve around the steady stream of disturbing news and articles, interviews, photos and videos broadcast on the radio, television, internet, and youtubes. Each new photo, video, interview and article purports to give the “facts” of what happened in the dark, early morning hours of Monday.

Each new photo, video, interview and article from outside of Israel puts the blame on my country. Each new piece of news from inside of Israel puts the blame on the ‘terrorists’ on the boats, on the Hamas, on Iran, and on the Turkish government. Each new ‘fact’ widens the chasm between Israel and the rest of the world.

Over night, our world has turned into one angry and volatile demonstration. It is impossible to count how many people from how many countries are marching, shouting and demanding Israel’s blood for the attack on the ‘peace ships.’

I cannot count how many Israelis are draped in the Israeli flag, portraying the citizens on the boats as ‘terrorists’, calling Hanin Zuabi – an Arab Knesset member who was on board the Mavi Marmara – a traitor and calling for her blood. We cannot measure how much anger and hatred has resulted from this terribly destructive fiasco. And we do not know how long it will take to dissipate, if it will ever really dissipate.

The attack on the flotilla, and all that ensued (whether or not the citizens on board attacked first, second, or later is of no importance) has shown us, once again, how the blind perspective that force can solve the problem has made the problem uglier, deeper, more senseless.

With all this darkness, the attack on the flotilla has had one good effect:  It brought the blockade of the forgotten Gaza Strip, from the land, the sea and the air, into the homes of billions/millions of people around the world. More importantly, it brought this immoral and inhumane blockade into the homes of millions of Israelis, who, for the last three years, have chosen to ignore this destructive act that our government has inflicted on an innocent population. This may be the light at the end of the tunnel(s). This might be the beginning of the end of a government and military policy that was borne in vengeance, and has been carried out with a vengeance.  

In these dark days, I have tried to understand how my country has so terribly lost its way. From my perspective, for the last number of years, but most especially since the Gaza War, we have rushed to stumble in the darkness because:

We (Israelis) constantly push ourselves deeper and deeper into this black hole called “the conflict.” It consumes us, shutting out any other way to see our relations with the Palestinians.

We can no longer see any option but the military option.

Anyone who does not agree with the government and/or military policy is perceived as a traitor. Democracy is to be feared and freedom of speech has become profanity.

Any call for human rights is seen as a call against Israel.

We are obsessed with the quality of our hasbara (information/explanations) to the rest of the world concerning our actions. We are obsessed with trying to understand why our hasbara is ineffectual. We are obsessed with explaining our unexplainable behaviors, instead of being passionate about changing them. We spend our resources on embarrassing hasbara instead of using our energies to look for ways to end the conflict that offer the promise of peace, justice and security to Israelis (and Palestinians).

We are alienating country after country. We are isolating ourselves in the world, creating new enemies everyday, forgetting that we belong to the world, and that we cannot survive in this world on our own, without friends.

We are so obsessed with our own victimhood, that we do not see how we are victimizing others. We see threats and dangers at every turn, and dismiss our actions as self defense against the evil forces that would destroy us. We are militarily strong, but psychologically very, very weak.

We have become so indifferent and blind to the suffering of the Palestinians that our hearts have turned to stone.

I search for the magic wand (knowing this to be a childish fantasy) that would make my fellow Israelis (ordinary citizens and ‘leaders’) soften the stone, open the borders, gather in the friends, embrace our Palestinian cousins, spread the rights. I unsuccessfully and naively search in the darkness for this wand, only to realize that if it ever existed, it has fallen into the depths of the black hole of guns and warships and airplanes and helicopters and rockets.

From my home near the Gaza border, I hear the drone of the army helicopters, the booms of the artillery, the sirens from the Qassam rockets. I try to remember what life was like when the borders between our two regions were open and we Israelis and Palestinians traveled freely between the two. I vainly search the horizon for Israeli peace trucks and ships that herald the end of the blockade and for the beginning of a new era that offers us a life of peace and security that we Gazans and Israelis need and deserve so desperately. 


3. Ynet Monday, June 7, 2010

16:18 , 06.07.10

Breaking News

Egypt: Gaza blockade a failure, border stays open

A security official says Egypt will keep its border with Gaza open indefinitely, easing the blockade on the territory’s Palestinians and giving them a crucial link to the outside the world.

Egypt and Israel have maintained the blockade since Hamas took control of Gaza three years ago. But the official says the closure has failed to achieve its goals, including the release of an Israeli soldier held by Hamas since 2006. (AP)


4.  Ynet Monday, June 7, 2010 

14:41 , 06.07.10

[Inserts are mine]

    Producer: Israel subject to cultural terror,7340,L-3901461,00.html

Shuki Weiss, promoter of Pixies concert which was called off at last minute, says ‘artists are under huge pressure by Arab elements to boycott Israel, including threatening letters and commercial sanctions’

Or Barnea

The Pixies band’s decision to call off its Tel Aviv concert, which was scheduled to take place this Wednesday, has sparked a row in the local music industry. The British [American, not British] band followed in the footsteps of artists Santana and Elvis Costello, who canceled their gigs in Israel for political reasons as well [and also in the footsteps of 2 other bands: the Klaxons and the Gorillaz, both British.].

Ever since the cancellation was announced Sunday morning, thousands of Israeli surfers have been posting angry messages on the band’s Facebook page, saying that the group members “should be ashamed of themselves” and slamming the band for “supporting terror”.

Producer Shuki Weiss, who promoted the American band’s concert in Israel, admitted Sunday that the cancellation was the result of “cultural terror against the State of Israel and against art in general”.

“I regret the fact that repeated attempts to bring good music to Israel and produce concerts and festivals of high quality fall victim of a series of political events, which are expressed in new patters of actions which I can only define as a type of cultural power against the State of Israel and art in general,” said Weiss.

“Intense pressure to boycott Israel – including threatening letters, commercial sanctions, cancellations of shows from influential countries – is being exerted by Arab and other elements on most artists (as well as writers, industrialists and others) across the world.

“This has turned into a painful series of cancellations with one sparkle of art – one foreign band which understood the difference and chose to focus on music and ignore the threats, and did not even consider disappointing and punishing its fans,” Weiss said, referring to the Placebo band which performed in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening.

“I am sure the matter will be discussed in detail by the international and local community of artists,” Weiss added, “and I call on artists who understand the difference to visit Israel and any other place in the world where they can display their art, meet with their fans and stand firm in this cultural war…

“Otherwise, all those nice expressions, like ‘Music speaks louder than words’ and ‘Bridge over troubled water’ will be devoid of meaning.

“As for those who choose not to come, we will wait for them until they realize that we are not alone in this game and that the cynical and ugly use of art as a weapon will eventually force everyone to look deep into the actions of many governments across the world and put the relations of artists and their fans to the test.

“I would like to suggest to those elements working to cancel the arrival of artists not to celebrate their ‘victory’, and to call on the community of artists in Israel to communicate, talk and work to bring people closer together, bring down bridges and come up against the misuse of cultural terror in places and countries and not to be swept into the abyss of loneliness, which will only strengthen the hatred and diminish the moral power of the freedom of speech and freedom of art.

“I’ll keep working to produce events in Israel and worldwide because it’s important and because it’s what I do,” he concludes. “The smile and the satisfaction of the visitor in good events are undoubtedly worth it. Keep on rocking in the free world.”


5. Monday, June 07, 2010

The Jewish boat to Gaza is sailing soon

In an undisclosed harbor in the Mediterranean, a small vessel is waiting

for a special mission. She will be sailing to Gaza. In order to avoid

sabotage, the exact date and name of the port of departure will be

announced only shortly before her launch.

“Our purpose is to call an end to the siege of Gaza, to this illegal

collective punishment of the whole civilian population. Our boat is small,

so our donations can only be symbolic: we are taking school bags, filled

with donations from German school children, musical instruments and art

materials. For the medical services we are taking essential medicines and

small medical equipment, and for the fishermen we are taking nets and

tackle. We are liaising with the medical, educational and mental health

services in Gaza..

”In attacking the Freedom Flotilla, Israel has once again demonstrated to

the world a heinous brutality. But I know that there are very many

Israelis who compassionately and bravely campaign for a just peace. As

broadcasting journalists from mainstream television programs are

accompanying our boat, Israel will have a great chance to show the world

that there is another way, a way of courage not fear, a way of hope not

hate”, says Edith Lutz, one of the organizers and passenger on the

”Jewish boat”.

The ”Jüdische Stimme” (Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Near East),

along with her friends of EJJP (European Jews for a Just Peace in the Near

East) and Jews for Justice For Palestinians (UK) are sending a call to the

leaders of the world to help Israel find her way back to reason, a sense

of humanity and a life without fear. ”Jewish Voices” expects the

political leaders of Israel and the world to guarantee a safe passage for

the small vessel to Gaza, thus helping to form a bridge towards peace.


6. Forwarded by Greta Berlin

Monday, June 07, 2010

A diary of events on the Mavi Marmara and after

By Jamal Elshayyal 

Firstly I must apologise for taking so long to update my blog. The events of the past few days have been hectic to say the least, and I am still trying to come to grips with many of the things that have happened.

It was this time last week that I was on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara, and first spotted Israeli war ships in the distance, as they approached the humanitarian flotilla.  Little did I know how deadly and bloody were the events that soon began to unfold.

What I will write in this entry is fact, every letter of it, none of it is opinion, none of it is analysis, and I will leave that to you, the reader.

After spotting the warships at a distance, (at roughly 11pm) the organisers called for passengers to wear their life vests and remain indoors as they monitored the situation. The naval war ships together with helicopters remained in the distance for several hours.

At 2am local time the organisers informed me that they had re-routed the ship, as far away from Israel as possible, as deep into international waters as they could. They did not want a confrontation with the Israeli military, at least not by night.

Just after 4am local time, the Israeli military attacked the ship, in international waters, and totally unprovoked. Tear gas was used, sound grenades were launched, and rubber coated steel bullets were fired from almost every direction.

Dozens of speed boats carrying on average of 15-20 masked Israeli soldiers, armed to the teeth surrounded the Mavi Marmara which was carrying 600 or so unarmed civilians. Two helicopters at a time hovered above the vessel. Commandos on board the choppers joined the firing, using live ammunition, before any of the soldiers had descended onto the ship.

Two unarmed civilians were killed just meters away from me. Dozens of unarmed civilians were injured right before my eyes.

One Israeli soldier, armed with a large automatic gun and a side pistol, was overpowered by several passengers. They disarmed him. They did not use his weapons or fire them; instead they threw his weapons over board and into the sea.

After what seemed at the time as roughly 30 minutes, passengers on board the ship raised a white flag. The Israeli army continued to fire live ammunition. The ships organisers made a loud speaker announcement saying they have surrendered the ship. The Israeli army continued to fire live ammunition.

I was the last person to leave the top deck.

Below, inside the sleeping quarters, all the passengers had gathered. There was shock, anger, fear, hurt, chaos.

Doctors ran in all directions trying to treat the wounded, blood was on the floor, tears ran down people’s faces, cries of pain and mourning could be heard everywhere. Death was in the air.

Three critically injured civilians were being treated on the ground in the reception area of the ship. Their clothes soaked in blood. Passengers stood by watching in shock, some read out verses of the Qur’an to calm them, doctors worked in despair to save them.

Several announcements were made on the load speakers in Hebrew, Arabic and English – “This is a message to the Israeli army, we have surrendered. We are unarmed. We have critically injured people. Please come and take them. We will not attack.”

There was no response.

One of the passengers, a member of the Israeli Parliament wrote a sign in Hebrew, reading the exact same thing; she held it together with a white flag and approached the windows where the Israeli soldiers were standing outside. The pointed their laser guided guns to her head, ushered her to go away.

A British citizen tried the same sign only this time holding a British Flag and taking the sign to a different set of windows and different set of soldiers. They responded in the same manner.

Three hours later, all three of the injured were pronounced dead. The Israeli soldiers who refused to allow them treatment succeeded where their colleagues had earlier failed when they targeted these three men with bullets.

At around 8am the Israeli army entered the sleeping quarters. They handcuffed the passengers. I was thrown onto the ground, my hands tied behind my back, I couldn’t move an inch.

I was taken to the top deck where the other passengers were, forced to sit on my knees under the burning sun.

One passenger had his hands tied so tight his wrists were all sorts of colours. When he requested that the cuffs be loosened, an Israeli soldier tightened them even more. He let out a scream that sent chills down my body.

I requested to go to the bathroom, I was prevented, instead the Israeli soldier told me to urinate where I was and in my own clothes. Three or four hours later I was allowed to go.

I was then marched, together with the other passengers, back to the sleeping quarters. The place was ransacked, its image like that of the aftermath of an earthquake.

I remained on the ship, seated, without any food or drink bar three sips of water for more than 24 hours. Throughout this time, Israeli soldiers had their guns pointed at us. Their hands on the trigger. For more than 24 hours.

I was then taken off the ship at Ashdod where I was asked to sign a deportation order, it claimed that I had entered Israel illegally and agreed to be deported. I told the officer that I, in fact, had not entered Israel but that the Israeli army had kidnapped me from international waters and brought me to Israel against my will; therefore I could not sign this document.

My passport was taken from me. I was told that I would go to jail.

Only then were my hands freed, I spent more than 24 hours with my hands cuffed behind my back, with nothing to eat, and barely anything to drink.

Upon arrival at the prison I was put in a cell with three other passengers. The cell was roughly 12ft by 9ft.

I spent more than 24 hours in jail. I was not allowed to make a single phone call.

The British consulate did not come and see me. I did not see a lawyer

There was no hot water for a shower.

The only meal was frozen bread and some potatoes.

The only reason I believe I was released was because the Turkish prisoners refused to leave until and unless the other nationalities (those whose consulates had not come and released them) were set free.

I was taken to Ben Gurion airport. When I asked for my passport, the Israeli official presented me with a piece of paper and said “congratulations this is your new passport”. I replied “you must be joking, you have my passport”.  The Israeli official’s response: “sue me”.

There I was asked again to sign a deportation order. Again I refused.

I was put on a plane headed to Istanbul.

Masked Israeli soldiers and commandos took me from international waters.

Uniformed Israeli officials locked me behind bars.

The British government did not lift a finger to help me, till this day I have not seen or heard from a British official.

The Israeli government stole my passport.

The Israeli government stole my lap top, two cameras, 3 phones, $1500 and all my possessions.

My government, the British government has not even acknowledged my existence.

I was kidnapped by Israel. I was forsaken by my country.


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After more than eight years, it’s time to end the war in Afghanistan.

longest war ad
Donate now to put this ad where  Congress will see it.


Today, the Afghanistan War became the longest in U.S. history.1

After more than $1 trillion spent; more than 1,000 American soldiers killed; and countless Afghan people killed, injured or displaced by the fighting, it’s past time to ask2 — When will this war end?

Congress has the power to answer that question. They can demand a timeline to end the war, and they can cut off the funding to ensure that all our troops come home.

But they won’t do it unless we tell them to.

The Vietnam War ended when regular people protested and called and cried-out so loud that Congress was forced to listen and demand an exit strategy. And Congress is voting THIS WEEK on the future and funding for the war.3 We’ve got a chance to send them a message, but we need your help.

We’ve teamed up with friends at Brave New Films to make this ad. If we can raise $10,000 right away, we’ll run it in the D.C. edition of “Politico” — a leading Washington newspaper that all the members of Congress and their staff read. Click here to donate $10 right now toward this ad.

At 104 months — more than eight years — the Afghan war has lasted longer than World War II and Vietnam. It’s outlasted George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

And what’s worse — there’s STILL no plan for when it will end. President Obama has committed more troops to the ground since taking office. And while he’s winding down the war in Iraq, there’s no timetable for the war in Afghanistan to end — YET.4

Congress is voting this week on legislation that funds the war. And thousands of TrueMajority members have already asked for a vote to be attached to that spending that sets a timetable to wind down the war and bring home all our troops.

This is the BEST chance we’ve got to send a message and start ending the war. But we need to raise the profile and get legislators’ attention or we’ll never succeed. Click here to pitch in and help run the ad, get the exposure we need and begin to end the longest war in our history.

– Drew

Drew Hudson
TrueMajority / USAction

1 –
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These are people whom Israeli leaders designate ‘terrorists.’  

 Martyrs of Mavi Marmara including a youth

who was a US citizen

 03 June 2010
Putting Names To Faces

A brief introduction to the nine Turkish people shot dead on 31 May 2010, by Israeli soldiers who attacked the Turkish vessel M.V. Mavi Marmara, as it attempted to transport humanitarian aid to the people of the Gaza Strip.

1. Ibrahim Bilgen, 61, an electrical engineer from Siirt. Member of the Chamber of Electrical Engineers of Turkey. Married with 6 children. (linklinklinklink)

2. Ali Haydar Bengi, 39, from Diyarbakir. Graduate of Al-Azhar University, Cairo (Department of Arabic literature). Married with 4 children. (link)
Ali haydar bengi
3. Cevdet Kiliçlar, 38, from Kayseri. Originally a journalist, worked for the past year as webmaster for the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH). Married with two children. See him participating in an IHH African relief project here. See his Flickr photos here. (linklink)
Cevdet Kiliçlar

4. Çetin Topçuoglu, 54, from Adana. Former amateur soccer player and taekwondo champion, who coached Turkey’s national taekwondo team. Married with one son. See his Facebook page here. (linklinklink)
Çetin Topçuoglu 
His wife, Çigdem Topçuoglu, was also aboard the Mavi Marmara, but survived. (linklinklink)
Cetin and Cigdem Topcuoglu

5. Necdet Yildirim, 32, an IHH aid worker from Malatya. Married with a three-year-old daughter. (link)
Necdet yildirim
6. Fahri Yaldiz, 43, a firefighter who worked for the Municipality of Adiyaman. Married with four children. (link)
Fahri Yaldiz 
7. Cengiz Songür, 47, from Izmir. Married with six daughters and one son. (linklinklink)
Cengiz songur

8. Cengiz Akyüz, 41, from Iskenderun. Married with children aged 14, 12 and nine. (link)
Cengiz Akyüz

9. Furkan Dogan, 19, student at Kayseri High School; planned to become a doctor. Son of Dr. Ahmet Dogan, Assoc Prof at Erciyes University. A Turkish-American dual national, with two siblings. (linklinklink)
Furkan Dogan

(This post liable to change as more details become available).

Recent Activity:


Shaheed Mahomed
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This is a reminder of the important AABA meeting on Monday 14 June at 7pm (note, not 6.30) at the NASUWT offices, Ludgate Court, 57 Water St, B3 1EP.

There are 61 schools with an Ofsted grade of ‘outstanding’ in Birmingham. We urgently need to know which are thinking of becoming Academies – perhaps some have already decided, it only requires a simple vote by the GB. We need a broadly-based campaign to stop them.

The three teachers unions – ATL, NASUWT and NUT – are already committed nationally to working together to resist the market madness of Academies and so-called ‘free schools’, along with other unions. We need to build a campaign in Birmingham which brings the unions together with AABA, parents, and if possible local councillors who, even if they supported Labour’s Academies in the (mistaken) belief that it was necessary in order to get BSF money, balk at seeing large parts of the Birmingham school system leave the authority.

See below for the plan of action which the national Anti-Academies Alliance has adopted. It provides an excellent basis for a campaign in Birmingham.

We hope you will be able to come to this important meeting to plan our response to the threat to Birmingham’s schools.

Richard Hatcher

on behalf of AABA

PS in the current Birmingham Press (new weekly paper) there is a page on Academies with a piece by me against and a piece for by Karen Lumley, Conservative MP for Redditch. (Illustrated, rather oddly, by  a large picture of Young Ladies at St Trinian’s.)

Urgent message to the AAA NSC for consultation

The situation has shifted dramatically since the last NSC. It is more or less the worse case scenario on academies and new ‘free’ schools that we imagined. Pete has had no time to do the minutes etc. The position document I submitted was generally accepted, but there are elements of the analysis that need further reflection. This will have to wait.

Pete & the officers have been working full speed on responding to the situation. The website has more information. We have a key meeting on Monday night in Parliament focussing on opposition to the Academies Bill. Then on 24th in London there is a campaign meeting. We have already produced a briefing for Labour MPs and written to the head of every outstanding school.

We have been approached by people volunteering to help. The officers intend to launch a volunteer recruitment drive as a matter of urgency. Below is a draft document of the sort of work AAA campaign volunteers will be asked to do. We want to work with trade unions and other activists where ever possible.

It is crucial that we coordinate work not duplicate it. Timing is essential. Our estimate is that Gove hopes to ‘tip the balance’ in state education with more than 1000 new academies opening in September. That gives us about 7 weeks.

A draft outline of the AAA’s overall national strategy is set out below. (Volunteers will focus only the Task 1 activities). Our campaigning will involve an ‘above’ and ‘below’ strategy. The list below is the sort things we want to do. This is not a comprehensive list, just a set of possibilities. If you have ideas, please share them. Please also comment on the following points:

1. Initially the volunteer work will be directed out of a new London office as well as the Birmingham office. We may need to provide a phone & in, exceptional circumstances, a laptop with internet connection.

2. We have prepared a substantial bid for emergency funding. For specific details, or if you want to discuss, please contact Alasdair directly.

3. We may also need to consider a name for the campaign if it grows into a wider alliance. One of our partners is already suggesting something like “A fair school system for all – join our campaign against the Tory academies…”  It is important to try to formulate a positive title. What do you think?

National Strategy

A: From ‘below’ – Target: school by school campaigns

1. Fieldwork Tasks

  • Locate every outstanding school that has applied for academy status
  • Identify parents, Trade union & community links to build local campaign
  • Local media adverts, bill boards, leaflets & posters

2. National media

  • Full time London & Birmingham Office – space/equipment
  • New media team – Twitter, Facebook, flash mobs etc

3. Publications

  • National newspaper for parents – 1 million copies & distribution
  • Briefings

B ‘From Above’ – Target: Academies Bill passage through Parliament

1. Parliamentary lobbying

  • Lobbyist (Connect)
  • MPs/AAA liaison group

2. Regional, city wide mass meeting

  • London – already done, but new & much bigger on for July?
  • Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Bristol etc

3. Lobby of Parliament & national demonstration if circumstances allow

  • Lobby of parliament to coincide with one of reading of the Bill
  • National Demo on a sat
  • Demonstration at Tory Party conference

Task sheet 1

We suggest you read some of the AAA briefings to familiarise yourself with key points. Then, in your designated local area:

A. Outstanding schools – primary, secondary & special

  1. Contact every outstanding school by phone & or email
  2. Ask to speak to Head
  3. Explain you are volunteer from AAA (explain if she/he doesn’t know AAA) and ask if his school is seeking ‘academy status’
  4. If yes – ask if there will be a public consultation – don’t get into an argument, but ask for Chair of governors name & contact details
  5. If not seeking academy status, listen to their concerns ask them if they will sign an open letter. Ask also if they know other heads that will do the same.
  6. Repeat 1 to 5 for Chairs of Governors
  7. Be sure to collate data – names & phones numbers

B. Local community

  1. Find & make contact with any parent groups attached to schools
  2. Try local community groups/Mumsnet/ Sure Start group. Ask if they know about threat of academy status & situation in local schools. Listen to their concerns
  3. Connect local NUT, NASUWT, ATL UNISON, UNITE, GMB union branches. Ask how they can help? Or how we can help them – briefings for members, speakers at school or other union meeting etc
  4. Discuss organising area wide public meeting asap.
  5. Contact local council Mayor, lead person for education and local MPs asking them for their views & if they will speak or sign open letter
  6. We also keen to find out any attempts to set up new ‘free’ schools. If you discover these you need to let the AAA office know immediately

C. Local & new media

  1. Contact local media – newspaper and radio. Explain issues locally & nationally. Offer interview with AAA spokesperson, provide briefings etc. Try to ‘cultivate’ named journalists
  2. Enquire about cost of half page advert – for open letter & public meeting notice
  3. Set up local Facebook, Twitter. Groups especially target at young teachers. We have to be very careful about approaching school students.

Phone Script

“The AAA is a parents’ led campaign that is concerned about the government’s new academies proposals…






I  f it had been any other regimes but Zio=Nazi that committed the attack on the gaza frrdom Flotilla there would have been sanctions, at the very least, and possibly military action from the us and britain in response.

History would have reminded that this is not the first time that zionist regime has killed unarmed civilians-RACHEL CORRIE was killed in 2003by Zio=Nazi bulldozer and TOM HURNDALL was killed by an Nazi sniper in 2004. *

TV newscasters would be recaling the Zio=Nazi invasion of Gaza in december 2008 and Nazi’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006. So how does Zio=Nazi get away with all of this?. They gets away with it because it is protected by the US and Britain and the Arab regimes.

Zionist regime would not survive for a day if it were not the biggest recipient of US military and civilian aid in the world; if it could not buy US arms directly from US arms corporations without the prior agreement of the department of Defence, and if it were not the only nuclear armed state in the Middle East.

And britain plays its part in supporting Zionist regime too: it supplies arms and supports the preferential Zionist-European union trade deal.

What do the US and Britain get in return? They get an armed camp in the Middle east that will police the oil-rich arab states. Zionist regimr is to the foreign policy of the major powers what the banks are to their economic policy: too big to be allowed to fail.

That’s why, at the moment when we are all being asked to ‘ tighten our belts’ as cuts are made to the welfare state, there will be no shortage of funds to prop up the Zionist regime, just as there have been no shortage of funds to prop up the banks.

And that’s why the protest against the cold-blooded murder of those on the Gaza flotilla also has a wider significance. It is a part of larger struggle against the system that prefers to fund Zionist regime rather than see justice for the palestinians. It is part of the struggle against those who would rather bail out bankers than fund the welfare state.


* Amnesty international has called the boycott a ‘ Flagrant Violation’ of international Law, under which the Zionist regime is an occupying power and is accountable for the people of Gaza under its control.

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