Archive | June 10th, 2010



She looks like a very nice lady

Posted: 08 Jun 2010


New York, Upper West Side, yesterday, photo by Mohammad of Vancouver.


‘Pigs for Palestine’

Posted: 08 Jun 2010

Just look at this amazing post by Cecilie Surasky from a demo against the flotilla raid outside the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation the other day.

You will see a lot of Jews protesting Israel’s actions silently, and look at the response. It’s not considered, it’s fearful and angry and hateful. There are numerous threats against the demonstrators. There is the Animal Farm scream that is in my headline, repeated and repeated. As Max Blumenthal says, American Zionism is turning into a tea party. This is exactly like the screaming I noticed at our silent demo outside the Waldorf IDF fundraiser back in March. The fervent lobby has lost its solid rank and file. It is left with the fringe.

We are winning: the truth is getting out, and people understand that the status quo is not just “unsustainable” (Biden), it is unconscionable.


Israeli settler opens fire on schoolboys, wounding two 16-year-olds

Posted: 08 Jun 2010

And other news from Today in Palestine:

 Land Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israeli bulldozers began overturning agricultural land and uprooting trees in the Al-Walaja, a village south of Jerusalem inside the 1967 Green Line, Palestinian landowners said.

Israel uproots 100 trees in WB

West Bank, June 8, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) – Israeli occupation forces uprooted today tens of olive trees in Al-Loja town, in west of the West Bank city of Bethlehem.  The president of Al-Loja town, Saleh Khalifa, said the Israeli vehicles uprooted 100 olive and cypress trees which were planted for more than 100 years.  He added that the Israeli occupation has been bulldozing the area since two months to continue building some parts of the apartheid wall.

Israeli Troops Issue 10-day Eviction Orders To Palestinians In Jordan Valley

Five Palestinian families in the Jordan Valley, in the eastern part of the West Bank, received eviction orders from the Israeli military on Sunday, just days after Israeli settlers set up an illegal outpost on the families’ land and took over a water well in the area. The eviction orders told the families to vacate their homes and land within ten days so that Israeli troops could occupy it.

Two More Families To Be Evicted From Sheikh Jarrah

The Kanabi and Siyam-Idkadk families recently received 45-day eviction notices, adding to the growing list of Palestinian residents being forced from their homes in East Jerusalem. The small neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah is at the frontline of Israel’s efforts to Judaise the would-be Palestinian capital with dozens of permanent settlers installed, scores of forced evictions and weekly protests held in opposition. On Sunday, Palestine Monitor met with the latest families to be faced with losing their homes. Reporting from Michael Carpenter.

At Home With The Homeless

Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem. Since 2008, 70 Palestinians from four extended families have been evicted from their homes. On May 29th, The Siyam-Idkadk and Kanabi families became the latest to be served with the dreaded document, instructing them to vacate the premises within 45 days or face crippling fines of 350 NIS per day. Photography by Rebecca Fudala.

Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment
June 6th, 2010– On June 4th, 2010, the village of Al-Ma’sara’s regular weekly protest against the Apartheid Wall became a solidarity march with the martyrs of the Freedom Flotilla. Protestors raised flags of the countries that participated in the multilateral humanitarian effort to end the siege in Gaza and marched with a model ship.

Foreign activist detained in Beit Jala march

Four Palestinians were treated for breathing difficulties while a foreign activist was detained and severely beaten for participating in the weekly peaceful anti wall march in Beit Jala.

Arab artists delegation to visit Gaza
Gaza – Ma’an – The Palestinian Artists Union said Monday that all preparations were complete to receive a visiting delegation of Arab artists to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.  Head of the Palestinian union Zakariyah Zein Ad-Din said “the visit is within the context of continued efforts to break the siege on Gaza and to show that artists care for Gaza, the Palestinian issue, and want to help solve the conflict.”

Part 1: Huwaida Arraf interviewed 7-06-2010.wmv
Israeli authorities are defying international criticism of last week’s raid on the Gaza aid flotilla, in which nine people were killed. They are now claiming that five passengers on board the Mavi Marmara were “active terrorists”. Israel’s “terrorist” list includes two Turks, one French, and two US citizens. Ken O’Keefe, a former US marine, who is on the list, is accused of being a “radical anti-Israel activist” whom the Israelis say wanted to “train a commando unit” for Hamas. But speaking to Al Jazeera’s Veronica Pedrosa, O’Keefe denied the allegation.


Flotilla Captain Tells of High Israeli Aggression toward Female Passengers
06/06/2010 The captain of one of six boats in a flotilla raided by Israeli occupation forces to prevent aid reaching Gaza said commandos roughed up women passengers and humiliated others, in an interview published Sunday. “It was traumatic; we were obviously expecting some hassle from the Israelis — but nothing like they dished out,” the 55-year-old Cyprus-based British skipper, Denis Healey, told the Cyprus Mail.  He said that at about 4:00 am (0100 GMT) last Monday, as the aid flotilla steamed towards Gaza but while still in international waters, he saw the lights of Israeli patrol boats and helicopters. “We were travelling at around 18 knots, so we managed to hold them off for about 20 minutes; then they sent one of their bigger steel vessels so I thought they were going to ram us or shoot us with the gun on the front,” Healey said.

Challenger I passengers: Commandos shot first

Tel Aviv – Ma’an – Alex Harrison, a British activist who participated in the Freedom Flotilla, was on the neighboring Challenger I when the Israeli army overtook the Mavi Marmara, leaving at least nine activists dead and dozens injured.

Remembering is not enough
For Holocaust survivor and Palestine solidarity activist Hedy Epstein, Remembering Is Not Enough is both the title of her autobiography and her life’s credo.  Hedy, now 85, last saw her parents and extended family on May 18, 1939, at the age of 14, when she was sent from her native Germany on a kindertransport to Britain. Her entire family was denied emigration and was killed in the Auschwitz concentration camps.  Epstein has been working from Cyprus with the Free Gaza Movement, and many of her colleagues were among the activists on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that was attempting to bring humanitarian aid to the 1.5 million people under siege in Gaza when it was assaulted in international waters by the Israeli military. Sherry Wolf spoke to Hedy from Cyprus on June 3.

A Jew explains why he is leading flotilla protest

This afternoon at 5 in Middletown, Orange County, New York, a demonstration will be held to oppose the attack on the Gaza flotilla. Details below. One of the organizers is Goshen, N.Y., lawyer and activist Michael Sussman, who sent out this letter…

Spanish activists to prosecute Israel for its attack on Freedom Flotilla

Two Spanish activists intend to file a lawsuit against Israel for its deadly attack on Freedom Flotilla convoy, which led to the murder of nine civilian passengers and the injury of many others.

Lawsuit Filed Against State of Israel Following Flotilla Massacre
A French lawyer, Lillian Glock, has filed two lawsuits against the State of Israel on grounds of kidnapping and detention without reason.

Spanish pride parade doesn’t want Israelis

Sources say pro-Palestinian groups led Madrid to cancel invitation extended to LGBT delegation.,7340,L-3901785,00.html

Palestinian trade unionists call on dockworkers to block Israeli trade

The Palestinian trade union movement, as a key constituent member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), calls on dockworkers’ unions worldwide to block Israeli maritime trade in response to Israel’s massacre of humanitarian relief workers and activists aboard the Freedom Flotilla, until Israel complies with international law and ends its illegal blockade of Gaza.

Activists call on public to boycott Israeli goods

FIVE IRISH citizens who were deported from Israel yesterday morning after their ship was taken over by Israeli defence forces have called on the Irish people to boycott Israeli goods until the blockade of Gaza is ended.  They have also called on the Government to put pressure on the EU to suspend the Euro-Med trade agreement with Israel. They have asked for the return of their boat, the MV Rachel Corrie , and for the humanitarian aid aboard all of the flotilla vessels, “rotting in the harbour” at Ashdod, to be sent to the people of Gaza.

The largest labor union in Britain, Unite, has passed a resolution to divest from Israel, while another U.S. College, slain activist Rachel Corrie’s school Evergreen College, has also voted for divestment.
Just to state the obvious–this past week has put U.S. complicity in war crimes and acts of aggression committed by the Israeli military on display once again. Just a few examples of how hard your tax money was working this past week to violate human rights.

American hurt in West Bank protest is back in US (AP)

AP – A San Francisco Bay-area photojournalist is back in the United States after 15 months of treatment for a brain injury he suffered during a pro-Palestinian demonstration in the West Bank.*

Protests in USA Say “End The Blockade On Gaza”

UK anti-Israel protests spread to Egyptian embassy


Violence and Aggression
JERUSALEM — The bodies of two more Palestinians, whom the Israeli navy shot dead at sea, washed up on the Gaza Strip’s shore Tuesday, bringing the death toll from the incident to six.

Hell’s Gate at Aroub Camp
A slew of settler-related violence struck the Hebron area last week. Two Palestinians died in separate incidents with settler vehicles on Sunday and Wednesday. Thursday morning an Israeli settler seriously injuring two 16-year-old boys after opening fire on a group of teenagers walking home from school. The unidentified shooter turned himself into Israeli authorities on Thursday night. Palestine Monitor interviewed one of the victims, Ibrahim Muhammad Biss at Al-Ahli hospital (Hebron), where he is recovering from a bullet wound to the abdomen. His close friend, Moataz Musa Omran Benat, remains in critical condition.

PCHR calls for probe into blast critically injuring Rafah child

Bethlehem – Ma’an – The Palestinian Center for Human Rights called for an investigations into the causes of a blast that left a child with critical injuries in the southern Gaza town of Rafah last Sunday, a statement read.  According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 6am on 6 June, an unknown object exploded in a area had used for training by resistance groups in Al-Mawasi, west of Rafah. As a result, Mohammed Fayez Dehleez, 15, was seriously wounded, resulting in the amputation of his legs and hand.



West Bank, June 7, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) – Israeli occupation forces detained yesterday evening two Palestinian boys in Bethlehem and Hebron in the West Bank.  Israeli forces detained the boy Ahmad Abu Amira at one of the entrances of Al-Haram Al-Ibrahimi under the pretext of finding a knife with him.  In Bethlehem, Israeli occupation force detain a boy, his name is unknown, under the pretext of throwing stones at settlers’ cars.

Israel detains 6 Palestinians in Hebron
Hebron, June 7, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) – The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained six Palestinians in Bait Omar and Al-Aroub camp in the West Bank city of Hebron.  Local sources reported that Israeli occupation forces detain three citizens in Al-Aroub camp. Ali Al-Badwi, Nour Al-Badwi and Ahmed Al-Badwi were detained after raiding their houses by the IOF.  IOF raided Bait Omar and detained Tamer Awad, 23, Saif Bhaer, 26 and Wasem Wahden, 15, the source added.
Clashes erupted in Bait Omar between the citizen and Israeli soldiers. They fired gas bombs toward the citizens which resulted in suffocating number of the citezens.

IOF soldiers detain 10 citizens in West Bank, 10 Jerusalemites
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested ten Palestinian citizens in the districts of Al-Khalil, Nablus, Ramallah, and Jenin at dawn Tuesday.

Humanitarian Issues
GAZA CITY Tuesday, June 08, 2010 (IRIN) – The UN Mine Action Team (UNMAT) in Gaza has completed the destruction of white phosphorus ordnance left over from the Israeli “Cast Lead” military operation in the Gaza Strip between December 2008 and January 2009.

The Siege
On this week’s Counting the Cost: Israel’s blockade of Gaza, ties between Israel and Turkey and global credit rating agencies.

Israel keeping basic goods out of Gaza: rights group (AFP)

AFP – An Israeli rights group on Tuesday said the military is still preventing basic goods like vinegar, coriander and toys from entering Gaza as part of a crippling embargo on the Hamas-run territory.*

DWO: Lift the siege on Gaza now
Damascus sources say Syrian president proposed new initiative to Turkish PM to use international pressure on Israel in order to lift Gaza blockade.,7340,L-3902100,00.html

Israel’s Arab Helpers
AFP – Egyptian construction of an underground barrier on the border with the Gaza Strip will be completed “by the end of the summer,” a security official said on Monday.*

Egypt Prevents Nine Parliamentarians from Entering Gaza

The Egyptian Authorities stopped nine Egyptian Legislators at the Rafah Terminal who were trying to deliver construction supplies to Gaza.

Turkey’s support of Hamas worries PA

The Palestinian Authority is concerned about Turkey’s increased support for Hamas, a PA official in Ramallah said on Monday.  The official said that the PA leadership was “unhappy” with Turkey’s policy toward Hamas, especially with regard to pressure to lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip unconditionally. “Turkey’s policy is emboldening Hamas and undermining the Palestinian Authority,” the official told The Jerusalem Post.

Palestinian minister: Boycott only against settlement products

Finance minister says PA enjoys excellent economic ties with Israel, wants to expand cooperation.,7340,L-3901780,00.html

Hamas says PA forces detain 8 supporters

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Hamas accused Palestinian Authority Preventative Security Services of detaining eight of the movement’s affiliates in the West Bank, a party statement read Tuesday.  The supporters were detained in Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron, the statement read.

Israel’s Attack on Humanitarian Convoy/Political Fallout and Other Flotilla News

AFP – Turkey sought a fresh condemnation of Israel over its deadly raid on Gaza-bound aid ships as regional leaders gathered in Istanbul Tuesday to discuss security in Asia.*

Erdogan to Assad: Israel Will Pay for Freedom Flotilla Crime
07/06/2010 A week after the Israeli massacre against a Gaza-bound Turkish ship, which left nine people martyred, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan assured Syrian President Bachar Assad that the Israeli enemy will pay for its massacre.  At a joint press conference in Istanbul with Assad, Erdogan said that his government was prepared to supply the Gaza Strip with “everything it needs,” adding that Israel’s blockade of the Gaza strip must end immediately.  “What happened on the flotilla is a crime against humanity,” Erdogan said, referring to the Israel Navy raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship last week that left nine Turkish nationals dead. “Palestine and Gaza are a giant prison and this situation cannot continue,” he said. “We can no longer remain silent and we will not be silent anymore regarding anything having to do with Gaza.

Erdogan: Time for action against Israel
The Turkish prime minister says it is not enough to merely condemn Israel’s attack on a Gaza-bound aid convoy, calling for a firm response to Tel Aviv.

Turkey’s diplomatic offensive against Israel gains Muslim steam
Assad: Syria prepared to act against Israel’s siege of Gaza; Erdogan: Turkey can give Gaza everything it needs if Israel lifts siege.

Crisis may hurt Turkish-Israeli trade (Reuters)

Reuters – The Gaza flotilla crisis between Israel and Turkey could disrupt a $3 billion trade channel that has been central to their once-strong alliance, Israeli and Turkish officials said on Monday.*

Senior Israeli Army Commander: Turkish Attempt To Break The Siege Would Be “Act of War”
A senior commander in the the Israeli military has stated that he believes that action taken by the Turkish government in protecting an upcoming flotilla to Gaza would be considered an act of war.

Israel’s attack on Flotilla violates international law

In the aftermath of Israel’s 31 May attack on the Freedom Flotilla that left nine dead and scores wounded, each side claimed their actions were protected under international law. While the Israelis cited self-defense, and the Flotilla passengers reiterated that they were peace activists on a humanitarian mission that were attacked in international waters where neither Israel (nor any other state) has any claim. Jinan Bastaki comments for The Electronic Intifada.

See also:  Links and Video about the Gaza Freedom Flotilla

Beatings, Abuse, Doctored Evidence Emerge
Allegation of a possible shoot-to-kill policy, amidst autopsies revealing repeated gun shots to the heads of the victims, are also part of an emerging pattern.

Kucinich cong’l letter says Israeli raid on flotilla endangers ‘lives of American soldiers’

Dennis Kucinich is circulating a great letter on the flotilla attack that is already getting pushback from the National Jewish Democratic Council, which calls it “reckless.” Notice the emphasis on the strategic liability that Israel now represents. Wonder if he’ll get any signatures. Excerpts follow.

Malaysian premier condemns Israel as ‘gangsters’ (AFP)
AFP – Malaysia’s prime minister on Monday condemned Israel as “world gangsters” and said it should face the International Criminal Court over the deadly Gaza aid flotilla attack.*

Pan-Islamic group tells members to review Israel ties (AFP)
AFP – The Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the world’s largest Muslim grouping, has appealed to its members to review their ties with Israel over a deadly assault on a Gaza aid convoy.*

Egypt confirms: We broke Gaza blockade
Cairo says Rafah crossing to remain open for humanitarian aid, restricted travel. ‘We are not going to let the occupying power escape from its responsibilities,’ Foreign Ministry spokesman says. Nine parliamentarians cross into Strip to ‘express support for residents’.
AFP – Jordan said on Monday it has asked Israel to return passports seized from Jordanians who were among passengers of the Gaza aid flotilla intercepted in a raid which cost nine lives last week.*

Knesset panel recommends revoking Arab MK’s privileges
Decision to strip Balad MK Hanin Zuabi of privileges over Gaza flotilla participation passed by a majority of seven to one; Zuabi to Haaretz: We are victims of a witch hunt.

Senator Kerry: Israel not liability for US
Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee tells ABC that despite policy-related tensions, Jewish state ‘has every right in the world to make certain that weapons are not being smuggled into Gaza’.,7340,L-3900881,00.html

Israel awaiting ‘green light’ from U.S. for internal Gaza flotilla probe

As the activists kidnapped by the Israeli navy in international waters begin to be repatriated, sources in Israel claim that the process was delayed because the passengers of the MV Rachel Corrie would not sign documents pledging not to sue after their release. In the meantime, Israel is continuing to detain eight people from the Irish-flagged ship.  The Rachel Corrie was carrying eleven activists from Ireland, Malaysia, Britain, Cuba and the Philippines, plus a crew of eight. Around 550 tonnes of humanitarian aid was on board when it was stopped by the Israeli navy and forced to sail to Ashdod instead of Gaza.

Other Political Developments
Air force seeking more JDAM bombs, and larger emergency stores held by American army.

See above… Are American Weapons “benign?”   US doubts Iran has ‘benign’ intentions for Gaza (AFP)
AFP – The United States on Monday questioned the Iranian Red Crescent’s decision to send aid ships to Gaza, saying Tehran’s intentions toward the Palestinian territory were not “benign.”*

Obama’s new vision of Jewish state guarantees rights of Israeli Arabs

New National Security Strategy defines two-state solution in a way that differs from the terminology used by previous American administrations.

Obama to meet Abbas as Gaza fallout mounts (AFP)

AFP – Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will ask President Barack Obama Wednesday for “bold decisions” on the Middle East but US-led peace moves face a torrid climate after Israel’s Gaza flotilla raid.*

Other News
New York-based Pulsa Di Nura organization sends Arab MK letter saying, ‘You have 180 days to live. Your sudden death will be accompanied by terrible suffering and agony’.

Bnei Brak signs: Don’t employ Arabs

Palestinian worker without permit discovered hiding last week leads to notices throughout religious town against employing Arabs.,7340,L-3900004,00.html

Abbas forces Sheikh Tamimi into retirement

Bethlehem – Ma’an – President Mahmoud Abbas announced the end of Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi’s career as Palestinian Chief Justice and Supreme Judge on Monday, with sources citing corruption charges brought forward by whistle-blower Fahmi Shabana months earlier.

Inside Story – Egyptian-Israeli relations

Three decades after a peace treaty was signed between Egypt and Israel, Egypt’s supreme court has upheld a ruling that strips Egyptian men married to Jewish Israeli women of their Egyptian citizenship. On this episode of Inside Story, we ask if relations between the two countries will ever truly be normalised.

Leftist Tali Fahima converts to Islam

Woman who had affair with al-Aqsa Brigades commander Zubeidi, served time for aiding terrorists converts to Islam at Umm al-Fahm mosque. ‘From now on she is a full-fledged Muslim,’ sheikh says.,7340,L-3902175,00.html

Racist rabbi dead, advocated genocide against Palestinians

Mordechai Elyahu, one of Israel’s most racist and fascist-minded rabbis, died Monday, at the age of 81, Israeli sources reported.

Jewish settlers clash with Israeli police (AFP)

AFP – Israeli police came under attack by Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, after authorities demolished two buildings put up by settlers without authorisation, police said.*

Spain: Pro-Palestinian activists attack Israeli businessmen

Conference held by Spain-Israel Chamber of Commerce at Madrid’s Autonomous University cut short after 200 protestors burst into hall chanting, ‘Murderers, get out of Gaza’; one Israeli lightly wounded when police vehicle stoned.,7340,L-3902046,00.html

Media Bias

Pundits in Denial on Gaza Plight: ‘No humanitarian crisis,’ some media figures claim

The May 31 Israeli attack on the Free Gaza humanitarian flotilla has returned some media attention to the humanitarian crisis faced by 1.5 million Palestinians living under Israeli blockade in the Gaza Strip. But some media figures have sought to deny the existence of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza at all.

Richard Greener: Helen Thomas Is Out Of Work – Good Thing We’ve Got A “Free” Press Here

Good thing we’ve got a “free” press here.  Helen Thomas is out of work. She’s an old lady. She bad-mouthed Israel and the Jews. She’s out of work.  Pat Buchanan is still working. He said, “This has been a country built, basically, by white folks.” Forgetting about 248 years of the official enslavement of millions of Africans upon whose backs and corpses the entire South was built; the nearly slave, forced labor of the Chinese who constructed, by hand, the transcontinental railroad; and the massive contributions of people of many colors throughout the 20th century, including all the non-Caucasian war dead – none of these omissions cost Pat his job. But then, Buchanan isn’t an old lady and he didn’t say a single bad word about Israel or the Jews. He’s still working.

Footage From Several Rallies Supporting The Murder of Humanitarian Activists

Pro-IDF, Anti-Turkish Rally in Tel Aviv (or a Glimpse Into Collective Israeli Derangement)

On June 1, 2010, thousands of Israelis gathered spontaneously in front of the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv to demonstrate in support of the Israeli Naval commando unit that killed nine passengers on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-backed boat from the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Egged on by the Israeli government and media, the demonstrators lashed out at Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his support of the Marmara, accusing him and passengers on the ship of terrorist ties. Besides with the massacre of Turkish aid workers, the spectacle of massive Israeli protests against Turkey threatens to permanently rupture Israel’s ties to its closest Muslim ally and further isolate the country on the world stage.

Stand With Us members shout Pigs for Palestine, threaten activists in San Francisco


How to end the blockade of Gaza, Stephen M. Walt

Back in May 1967, the Egyptian government led by Gamal Abdel Nasser ordered a blockade of the Straits of Tiran, cutting off Israeli shipping in the Gulf of Aqaba. This action crossed a “red line” for Israel, and was a major escalatory step in the crisis that led to the Six Day War. President Lyndon Johnson considered sending U.S. warships or some sort of international flotilla to challenge the blockade and defuse the crisis. But even though the United States had previously given Israel certain assurances about protecting freedom of navigation in the straits, Johnson ultimately declined to take decisive action to defend Israel’s navigation rights. The United States was already bogged down in Vietnam and Johnson feared getting trapped in another volatile conflict. So he dithered, and Israel ultimately chose to go to war instead.

Obama should choose right over self-interest

Words fail me when it comes to describing how I feel about Israel’s murder of civilians in international waters. There were over 600 men, women, children and a 1-year-old infant on the “Mavi Mamara” – one of six aid ships sailing to Gaza under the banner of the Free Gaza Movement in hopes of breaking the cruel, illegal blockade.

Israel’s Flotilla Massacre: Made in the USA,  Phyllis Bennis

Decades of uncritical U.S. support—including, most recently, the Bush-initiated and Obama-implemented commitment of $30 billion of U.S. tax money in military aid to Israel over a decade–has ensured that Israel’s military power (nuclear and conventional) remains unchallengeable.

Queen Rania of Jordan: The Hard-Line on Grocery Items, Queen Rania of Jordan

What do chocolate, cookies, A4 paper, potato chips, cumin, toys, jelly, nuts, dried fruit, nutmeg, and goats have in common?  It’s a tricky one. If you’re a moderate, they have absolutely nothing in common. But if you are a hard-line Israeli politician, they are all potentially dangerous goods that could threaten Israel’s security. Well, it seems that that side of the political spectrum has won the argument, as all the above are items that the Israeli government has prohibited from entering Gaza. It’s understandable. I mean, you can inflict a lot of damage on your oppressors with a chocolate biscuit. And those paper cuts, boy, they can really hurt.

What if Hamas Had Attacked Humanitarian Ships in International Waters?, Ed Kinane

This is a thought experiment. Just imagine that it was Israel in desperate need of humanitarian aid – perhaps in the wake of an earthquake or whatever.  Imagine further that a broad, well publicized effort involving citizens of dozens of countries had assembled a flotilla to carry humanitarian aid to the beleaguered nation.

Gaza Flotilla: Israel, the United States, and a Special Relationship, Sean Fenley

There seems to be a double standard in the application of the principles in the War on Terrorism. The inhuman acts that unbreakable allies perpetrate upon defenseless humanitarian aid givers, are apparently perfectly fine and good. It seems it is the activists’ word, versus the Likudnik government of Israel at this point, and the Obama administration — like finely tuned clockwork — appears to be siding with the latter of the two.

What 1967, and 1948, tell us about today,  Michel Shehadeh

“Secure the children first. I want you all to know where to hide when the bombs fall,” my grandmother instructed us. It was June 1967, and I was 11, during the Six-Day War between Israel and the Arabs. The victorious Israeli army was advancing. Soldiers from the fleeing Palestine Liberation Army filled our street. Vanquished, they were trying to figure out what to do, and how to get back to their families.

An Eye for an Eye, By JOHNNY BARBER

One week ago a young American woman, Emily Henochowicz, lost an eye while bearing witness to a clash between Palestinian youth and Israeli soldiers at Qalandia checkpoint on the border of Jerusalem and Ramallah in the West Bank. She was attending a demonstration with the International Solidarity Movement in response to the murder of activists in international waters off the coast of Gaza by Israeli commandos.

‘Increasingly vocal’ Jewish left is taking over the American Jewish ’street’, Philip Weiss

I try and keep up on the shift within the Jewish establishment, the “seismic shift” that a year or so back MJ Rosenberg predicted was coming, and that Peter Beinart’s piece was the best evidence of. Well, the “Fundermentalist”, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s blog about philanthropy, written by Jacob Berkman, sent out an email to subscribers today (including our friend Jeff Blankfort) that included excellent reporting on American Jewish organizational response to the flotilla raid. Berkman describes the propaganda effort, but warns Jewish leadership to watch out.

Zionist Joke: What Have We Ever Done to Them?, Ira Chernus

There’s one big difference I’ve noticed between the political Left and Right. Even in the worst of times, lefties have a sense of humor. So I wasn’t surprised to see the grand old man of the Israeli Left, Uri Avnery, sum up his government’s galling attack on the Gaza flotilla with an old Jewish joke. Avnery has been fighting his nation’s militarist policies for longer than most of us have been alive. But at 86, he can still blend outrage with humor.

Huckabee said Palestinians should leave Israel, and he’s golden, Philip Weiss

Are people rallying around an American icon demolished for one statement? Yes: A great piece at the Raw Story on the Helen Thomas execution, by Stephen C. Webster, showing the American double standard. And here is a generous farewell to Thomas from Amy Goodman (at 10:25-29:00).  Memo to Chris Matthews, this is your story, man. Honor her, deplore the double standard that is corrupting our politics.

Thank you for your service, Helen Thomas

Veteran US press corp reporter Helen Thomas has announced her resignation in the wake of recent off-the-cuff comments she made to a roving rabbi with a camcorder. Add me to the list of those who are far more saddened by the overblown fallout surrounding her remarks than about the remark itself, only part of which was inflammatory.

Helen Thomas Is Out Of Work – Good Thing We’ve Got A “Free” Press Here

Good thing we’ve got a “free” press here.  Helen Thomas is out of work. She’s an old lady. She bad-mouthed Israel and the Jews. She’s out of work.  Pat Buchanan is still working. He said, “This has been a country built, basically, by white folks.” Forgetting about 248 years of the official enslavement of millions of Africans upon whose backs and corpses the entire South was built; the nearly slave, forced labor of the Chinese who constructed, by hand, the transcontinental railroad; and the massive contributions of people of many colors throughout the 20th century, including all the non-Caucasian war dead – none of these omissions cost Pat his job. But then, Buchanan isn’t an old lady and he didn’t say a single bad word about Israel or the Jews. He’s still working.


Monday: 21 Iraqis Killed, 72 Wounded
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says al-Qaeda’s power base in Iraq has been squeezed by a lack of funds and a power vacuum at the top. Despite al-Qaeda weakening, attacks continue to vex Iraq. At least 21 Iraqis were killed and 72 more were wounded in new violence. Also, Iraq lodged complaints with Iran over reports that Iranian troops have crossed the border and started to erect a new fort as part of their operations against Kurdish rebels.

Civilian toll of Iranian raids in northern Iraq enrages Kurds (McClatchy Newspapers)
McClatchy Newspapers – SULEIMANIYAH, Iraq — Outrage is growing in Iraq’s northern Kurdish territories over renewed Iranian air and artillery strikes against Kurdish rebels in the remote Qandil Mountains, officials and residents said.

Witness – The Iraqi Candidate: The Result

Abdulrahman Dheyab, an Iraqi living in London, wanted to serve his home country, so he decided to return to Iraq to stand as a candidate in the 2010 parliamentary elections. With not much more than his convictions and a taste for grassroots politics, he travelled back to his home village and started his political campaign from scratch. Witness followed Abdulrahman from London as he returned home full of dreams. But the cut and thrust of Iraqi politics proved to be even dirtier than he expected. Now, in the second of two programmes, we pick up his story in the final weeks leading up to election day. Will he be able to realise his fervent dream, for which he has risked so much, or will his idealism turn out to have been misplaced?

Al-Qaeda Turns to Mafia Tactics in Mosul

The street emptied at the sound of gunfire, the men scattering in separate directions. A corpse was left behind, the lone victim of the shooting. After a few hours, someone covered its face with a sheet of paper – a gesture of respect for the dead.  This is Mosul, my home. Since 2003, I have worked as a reporter here, mainly for local newspapers. Stories of murder and abduction are part of my routine.


Report: Israel stealing Lebanese gas
As-Safir analyst says newly discovered Leviathan gas site extends into Lebanese territorial waters, believes Lebanon will defend its rights at site, meaning affair could lead to new conflict between Israel, its northern neighbor.,7340,L-3902180,00.html

Sayyed Fadlallah, Sheikh Qassem Call to Support Palestine
07/06/2010 Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohamad Hussein Fadlallah received on Monday Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem and discussed with him the general Lebanese and Islamic developments as well as the challenges faced by the Resistance path in the light of the latest developments in occupied Palestine and the ongoing Israeli terrorism against Palestinians and peace activists who’re seeking to break the siege on the Gaza strip.  Sayyed Fadlallah and Sheikh Qassem stressed the necessity to back the Palestinian nation through all possible ways to put an end to the occupation.

Sleiman to visit Assad next week to discuss Israeli threat, Scud missile allegations
BEIRUT: Lebanese President Michel Sleiman will visit his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad in Damascus on June 15, according to the Central News Agency. Sleiman discussed details of the visit with Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel- Karim Ali who visited him at Baabda palace on Monday.

U.S. and Other World News

U.S. Soldier Arrested in WikiLeaks Inquiry After Tip From Former Hacker
The Pentagon confirmed Monday that it had arrested a soldier in Kuwait after a former hacker informed the authorities that he had boasted of having leaked helicopter gunship video from Iraq to WikiLeaks.

US Soldiers Implicated In Killing Of 3 Afghan Civilians, Army Says
FORT LEWIS, Wash. — Five soldiers from the same Washington state-based unit have now been implicated in the killing of three Afghan civilians, an Army spokeswoman said Monday.  The Army said Friday that Spc. Jeremy Morlock had been charged with three counts of premeditated murder and one count of assault.  On Monday, Lt. Col. Tamara Parker, a Joint Base Lewis-McChord spokeswoman, said “there is enough evidence to say that five may be charged,” although Morlock is the only one charged so far.

Report says doctors helped refine torture methods
A prominent physicians group is charging that medical personnel were used to test and refine the effectiveness of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques for terror detainees in U.S. custody under the guise of safeguarding their health.

Anti-War Democrat Marcy Winograd Challenges Rep. Jane Harman in California Primary
Voters in 12 states head to the polls today. Ten states are holding primaries — California, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota and Virginia. There’s also a Senate runoff in Arkansas and a congressional runoff in north Georgia. Today we look at one race in particular: the congressional race in Southern California’s 36h District where anti-war candidate, longtime activist and Progressive Democrat Marcy Winograd is challenging the 8-term incumbent Jane Harman, a conservative Blue Dog Democrat. Four years ago, Winograd challenged Harman and won more than 35 percent of the vote.

Adviser without portfolio, Walt tells Obama how to get back his Cairo form

Posted: 08 Jun 2010

Brilliant post. Steve Walt, the realist advocate for the prudent uses of American power, who is the best hope that the two-state-solution today possesses in the U.S., says the U.S. should break the blockade with an international flotilla. He touches on my point that it’s not a humanitarian problem when he says we’d have to deal with Hamas. We should deal with Hamas. We talked to all the folks who resisted the U.S. occupation in Iraq, we are talking to the Taliban now. Double standard/Helen Thomas.

Note that Walt’s post says not one word about the lobby. Till the last line (not in this excerpt), when he says that there’s not a snowball’s chance of hell of our following such a wise course. Who will give Walt some backup on this? Andrew Sullivan, Peter Beinart? Where is the new left-center in the American discourse? J Street? Can the alternative lobby speak out for Palestinian suffering in a real way.

why doesn’t the United States use its considerable power to lift the blockade of Gaza unilaterally? It’s clear that the blockade of Gaza is causing enormous human suffering and making both the United States and Israel look terrible in the eyes of the rest of the world. It has also failed to achieve any positive political purpose, like defeating Hamas. So why doesn’t the United States take the bull by the horns and organize a relief flotilla of its own, and use the U.S. Navy to escort the ships into Gaza? I’ll bet we could easily get a few NATO allies to help too, and if money’s the issue, we can get some EU members or Scandinavians to help pay for the relief supplies. And somehow I don’t think the IDF would try to stop us, or board any of the vessels.

The advantages of this course of action seem obvious. The United States has been looking both ineffective and hypocritical ever since the Cairo speech a year ago, and many people in the Arab and Islamic world are beginning to see Barack Obama as just a smooth-talking version of George W. Bush.

Huckabee said Palestinians should leave Israel, and he’s golden

Posted: 08 Jun 2010

Are people rallying around an American icon demolished for one statement? Yes: A great piece at the Raw Story on the Helen Thomas execution, by Stephen C. Webster, showing the American double standard. And here is a generous farewell to Thomas from Amy Goodman (at 10:25-29:00).

Memo to Chris Matthews, this is your story, man. Honor her, deplore the double standard that is corrupting our politics.

Dan Schorr continues to shade his liberal legacy with unreconstructed Zionism

Posted: 08 Jun 2010

Saturday morning on NPR:

DAN SCHORR: Good morning, Scott. And what a world we inhabit on this balmy Saturday morning, where we have an oil blockade of our southern shores and a hate blockade of Mediterranean shores.

[SCOTT] SIMON: Do – you were able to listen to the report from Gaza. Do you think Israel is more or less likely to lift the blockade or change its policy?

SCHORR: I would not predict what Israel will do. They’ll be very reluctant to do it. They assert their rights to conduct this blockade and to stop ships, even though they’re in international waters. I think I don’t want to be involved in having to judge that one.


In Helen Thomas case, the world sees a taboo being enforced

Posted: 08 Jun 2010

Moving statement on Helen Thomas’s ejection by Ann El Khoury at Pulse:

[Thomas was] asked whether she has any comments about Israel, to which she replies: Tell them to get the get the hell out of Palestine. Remember, these people [the Palestinians] are occupied and it’s their land. It’s not Germany, it’s not Poland.” [Where should they go?] “They should go home, to Poland, Germany and America.”

Not surprisingly, the part about the occupation gets buried in the brouhaha. My reading was that because she said Palestine she referred to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) — including East Jerusalem — and in that case the illegal settlers, for many of us, should indeed move back to Russia, Poland, Israel ‘proper’ (internationally recognized 1967 borders) and the US. Part of the problem is the ambiguity: was she referring to Palestine as the whole of Israel? She might have but I doubt hers was the maximalist position. Even those who still advocate a two state solution as tenable should give her the benefit of the doubt unless she indicates otherwise.

Now this gutsy, plucky character who for me embodied what the real spirit of US journalism is and should be, far more than stenographers-of-power Press Corps colleagues in their prime, meets an undignified end to her career, with ignoble reactions…

To the rest of the world this will just add to the perception of hypocrisy and double standards applied to people who speak up about the Israel government’s reprehensible actions. The shift of focus from the core of the issue of military occupation to an off-the-cuff remark — which I think just reflects her growing anger — will be noted. I penned a quick dissenting piece in her defense a few days ago and am glad to see a number of others (Real News’ Paul Jay, Jack Ross at Mondoweiss) whose pieces I recommend. Glenn Greenwald also has a good piece contrasting the condemnation-fest directed at Thomas with the “total non-reaction in the face of the incessant and ongoing anti-Arab bigotry of The New Republic‘s Marty Peretz, or to the demands of then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey that the Palestinians leave the West Bank and go back to where they came from, and similar statements from Mike Huckabee (still gainfully employed at Fox News).”

All this plays into the hands of the Israel-right-or-wrong lobby. I realize part of what she said is offensive to a number of people because of the ugly connotations of the phrase ‘go home’ which has been allowed to overshadow and deflect attention from the core issue in her remark. Yet I would hope a sense of proportion and perspective prevails. The implications for freedom of speech in the US and for breaking a taboo about Israel in mainstream discourse are far greater than any offense part of her comment may have caused.  The Press Corps will be all the poorer now and it will reinforce the Israeli-status quo bias as the only game in town.

In a storied career, she has been a rare critical voice in the mainstream media, particularly during the last Bush administration. As Paul Jay notes in his defense of Thomas, “Her apology was not enough to stop calls for her head from those who have wanted to shut Thomas up for years.”

Thank you for your service, Helen Thomas. May there be more like you to emerge in the media landscape. I hope you continue to speak up well after 90.

The nighttime attack on the chocolate flotilla

Posted: 08 Jun 2010

An overview of the flotilla initiative, the raid and its consequences, by Pamela Olson:

A flotilla of six ships carrying nearly 700 people from 40 countries set sail for Gaza last month to challenge the siege on the Gaza Strip imposed by Israel and Egypt. The passengers included aid workers, medics, members of the European Parliament, journalists, scholars, Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead McGuire of Ireland, retired American Colonel Ann Wright, former Ambassador Edward Peck (who also served as deputy director of President Reagan’s White House Task Force on Terrorism), bestselling Swedish novelist Henning Mankell, and Joe Meadors, a survivor of Israel’s 1967 attack on the American intelligence ship, the USS Liberty.

The initiative took two years of organizing sponsored in part by Ireland, Greece, Malaysia, and a Turkish humanitarian organization called IHH. The tactical aim was to bring 10,000 tons of desperately-needed aid, including toys, electric wheelchairs, cement, notebooks, food, medicine, and medical devices, to the people of Gaza.

The strategic aim was to bring international attention to the blockade and help end it once and for all. The embargo began after Hamas won Parliamentary elections in January 2006. It was tightened when Hamas captured an Israeli soldier named Gilad Shalit in June 2006 to use as a bargaining chip to try and release some of the thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli jails, many of them children and a large percentage held without trial. The blockade reached devastating proportions in mid-2007 when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip by force of arms to pre-empt an attempted Fatah coup allegedly sponsored by the American government.

The aim of the embargo is to prevent weapons smuggling and pressure the people of Gaza to oust Hamas. It has banned virtually all exports from Gaza, destroyed the profitability of Gaza’s agriculture, wiped out tens of thousands of jobs, shut down 95% of Gaza’s industries, left more than 80% of the population dependent on food aid, prevented Gaza’s fishermen from traveling more than three miles from the coast, and caused poverty and child malnutrition to skyrocket. It has trapped the vast majority of Gazans in the Strip with vanishingly few allowed to leave, even for desperately-needed medical care or to use scholarships won abroad. At least 28 have died for lack of access to medical treatment.

The arbitrary rules of the blockade have at various times—sometimes for years—prevented Gazans from importing cilantro, chocolate, dried fruit, fresh meat, notebooks, clothes, toys, fishing nets and ropes, chicks, hatcheries, musical instruments, clothing, shoes, and tea. It has also banned cement, making it impossible to rebuild the thousands of homes and schools damaged or destroyed by Israel’s three-week bombing campaign in early 2009, which killed 1,400 Gazans, mostly civilians, including more than 300 children, and devastated their infrastructure. (Since the blockade began, rockets from the Gaza Strip have killed eight Israelis.)

The blockade is a clear act of collective punishment, which is illegal under international law. And it has succeeded in neither turning Gazans against Hamas nor stopping Hamas from acquiring weapons. It has, in fact, led to the widening of a network of smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Gaza, in which goods (and presumably weapons) flow unchecked. Hamas levies taxes on these over-priced goods, and that along with the anger at Israel engendered by the blockade has only made Hamas stronger. The UN has called the siege ‘medieval’ and US Congressman Brian Baird has called for a modern-day ‘Berlin Airlift’ to lift the siege. Yet the governments of the world, led by the US, have been mostly silent about the illegal collective punishment of 1.5 million people, half of them children.

Civil society bravely stepped in to fill the void, to try to break the blockade with their own boats and bodies. The Israeli government called the Gaza Freedom Flotilla a “provocation.” Filmmaker Iara Lee, who was on board one of the boats, responded that it was a provocation “in the sense that civil rights protesters in the American south who sat at segregated lunch counters represented a provocation to segregationists… Under an illegal siege, the delivery of aid to civilians is a prohibited act; the intent of our humanitarian convoy was to violate this unjust prohibition.”

As the boats neared the eastern Mediterranean, the Israeli government was left to strategize about how to meet this challenge. Already nine ships had attempted to break the siege, and five were quietly allowed through. But after Israel’s war in early 2000, the next four ships were stopped forcibly, one of them rammed and almost sunk. Instead of deterring the next aid convoy, it tripled everyone’s resolve. The current convoy, the most ambitious of all, was the result. And more were scheduled afterwards, including a boat packed with European Jews who opposed Israel’s blockade, who took the phrase “never again” both seriously and universally.

Live video feeds showed people talking and joking on the deck of one of the ships, eating and praying, knowing they were going into danger, though I doubt they knew how much. They knew the Israeli government would react, but they expected more of what had gone on before—being rammed, detained, beaten. Not nearly enough to stop many good of people from following their conscience.

They were surprised, though, when the Israeli army engaged them more quickly than they anticipated. Soldiers demanded that they turn back or follow them into the Israeli port of Ashdod where the Israeli government would inspect the aid and allow in what it deemed appropriate. Considering the whole point of the flotilla was challenging Israel’s control over access to Gaza, this was a non-offer—more a request of surrender. The flotilla refused, believing that in the morning they would, at worst, be rammed, detained, beaten. It would be a spectacle, but not much of one. The boarding of the other boats and beating and detention of activists had hardly been covered in the news at all. At best, they would float past the Israeli navy while they watched helplessly, unwilling to stop a humanitarian effort by force and thus turn it into a news spectacle and a PR disaster. The American media had ignored all previous attempts to break the Gaza siege, and a few tons of concrete (which any Gazans who could afford it were getting through the tunnels anyway) wasn’t really a serious threat to national security. The passengers on the flotilla would enjoy the legendary hospitality of Gaza, the people of Gaza, including hundreds of children maimed by Israel’s bombing campaigns, would get much-needed help and moral support, and it would most likely be quietly ignored by the world at large. Still, Israel would have a harder time justifying its next attack on what would undoubtedly be an even bigger flotilla of siege-breakers. Israel’s carefully-constructed justifications might collapse, and with it the siege itself. Which Israel, against all logic and evidence, would view as a catastrophic defeat.

It is difficult for most Americans to grasp the utter paranoia, often to the point of dangerous delusion, that most Israelis live under (with many spirited exceptions). As Anshel Pfeffer wrote in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, “The feeling of helplessness of a poor lonely victim, confronting the rage of a lynch mob and frantically realizing that these are his last moments, accurately reflect the current psychosis of the majority of the Israeli public.” Most Israelis either refuse or are unable to see their own gross violations of international law or the suffering they cause. They only see an Arab world bent on annihilating them and an international community trying to delegitimize them. It doesn’t seem to register that in 2002, the entire Arab League pledged peace and recognition of Israel if it obeyed international law and withdrew from territories occupied since 1967.

And it doesn’t seem to register that when Europeans condemn illegal blockades that lead to humanitarian crises, this is not equivalent to wishing for Israel’s destruction. It’s true, though, that international law is a slippery slope. A UN resolution brought Israel into existence, but another UN resolution said the Palestinian refugees expelled from their homes in 1948 had a right to return. After endorsing the resolution that brought them into being, Israel has resisted every subsequent effort by the international community to bring some balance back to the equation—to base a resolution on the human rights of all, not the special rights of some.

Of course, breaking international law is also a slippery slope. First you break it with some refugees. Then the refugees organize to resist. So you break it in Lebanon for eighteen years. Then you wind up with Hezbollah. Then you break it to fight Hezbollah, killing thousands of civilians along the way. And Hezbollah gets stronger. Meanwhile, you break it with illegal settlements in the West Bank. Then, to shore up that violation, you break it with a Wall that steals farmers’ land to make settlements more wealthy and secure. Farmers and their supporters organize to resist.

You must break them. Tear gas isn’t enough. Beatings and arrests aren’t enough. So you start shooting to kill. The Economist summed it up: “Israel is caught in a vicious circle. The more its hawks think the outside world will always hate it, the more it tends to shoot opponents first and ask questions later, and the more it finds that the world is indeed full of enemies.” With each violation, Israel paints itself further into a corner, which forces it to slip further into depravity. Gradually, by degrees, so that most of Israeli society doesn’t notice, each new violation is normalized, and each new act of resistance to Israel’s violations is touted as a “threat to Israel’s existence.”

The end result is a state where Gazans eating chocolate is a danger to Israeli security and boats carrying humanitarian supplies are tools of Israel’s destruction. And anyone who believes, however absurdly, that he is facing imminent destruction believes he is justified in fighting back by any means necessary.

So there was no morning for the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. In the pre-dawn hours of May 31, while most of the activists were sleeping, Israeli commandos shot concussion grenades and rubber bullets (and possibly live ammunition) at the biggest boat, then abseiled from helicopters onto the deck to try and commandeer the vessel. They were in international waters, approximately 70 miles from the coast, where Israel had no jurisdiction. It was therefore an illegal act of piracy.

The passengers, armed with sticks they had pried off ship railings and deck chairs, acted to protect their ship. Perhaps they thought the concussion grenades being thrown at them were live, the rubber-coated steel bullets real. Certainly when I was struck with a concussion grenade at a non-violent protest in the West Bank in 2005, I was terrified it might kill, burn, or maim me. And rubber-coated steel bullets, which can sound terrifyingly real to someone who’s not used to them, have been known to kill on numerous occasions, especially when fired from close range. Perhaps they thought the vaunted Israeli army would fight fair, would know how to deal with a crowd wielding sticks. Perhaps they expected nothing more than tasers, beatings, tear gas—normal crowd dispersal methods.

And they were willing to endure this to try to protect their ship in the middle of the night in waters where Israeli commandos had no legal jurisdiction. Or perhaps, as the Israelis allege, they simply rushed armed commandos, unprovoked, armed only with whatever tools they could find around the ship, hungry for a bloodthirsty, premeditated lynch. This doesn’t strike me as very plausible, particularly now that profiles of the victims are beginning to emerge. Most are middle-aged family men, one a 19-year-old American citizen of Turkish origin who looks younger than his years. Autopsies have revealed that most were shot multiple times, except one who was shot in the forehead. Five of the dead were shot in the back or the back of the head. We’ll know more when and if full details come to light.

So far what we do know is that Israel forcibly boarded a civilian boat not with police but with commando units trained to kill. Not in broad daylight, where much confusion and terror could have been avoided, but in the dead of night. Not with prior warning and clear intentions but with a hail of rubber bullets and concussion grenades. Not in Israeli or even Gazan but in international waters. And in the end, they killed nine civilians and wounded dozens more. Nine civilians: More than the total number of Israelis killed by Gaza’s rocket fire during the entire three-year-plus blockad.

Whether this was a “trigger-happy display of incompetence or an attempt at deterrence that spun out of control,” one would expect a government to express deep regret after such a badly mishandled operation, to apologize profusely to the families and the home countries of the slain, to contain the fallout as much as possible by releasing all footage (which will show the Israeli soldiers to be innocent if they are telling the truth) and opening the incident to a quick and thorough international investigation (which even a group of top Israeli Naval reserves officers has called for). Instead, we got the opposite.

The activists who survived the assault were arrested by Israel, roughed up and humiliated, their film and videos confiscated. Israel released only heavily-edited clips of what happened that night, and so far the testimonies of the survivors have been mostly kept out of the mainstream discourse. There was no apology. And they’ve refused to release the captured footage or cooperate with an international investigation. They’ve insinuated that IHH, a Turkish humanitarian organization, is linked with terrorism, although Israel is the only country in the world that believes this. They claimed some on board had ties to Al Qaeda, then quickly retracted it when confronted by journalists asking for evidence.

They released an apparently-doctored audio tract that tried to make it sound like one of the ship’s passengers responded to the Israeli Navy’s hail with anti-Semitic, pro-9/11 nonsense. And they released a video by Caroline Glick, the Deputy Managing Editor of the Jerusalem Post who served as assistant foreign policy adviser to Netanyahu in 1997-98, in which Jewish Israelis portrayed Arabs as grotesque stereotypes and mocked the dead and injured. “This was not the ‘Love Boat,’” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in what can only be described as history’s most tone-deaf attempt at humor. “It was a hate boat.” Israeli spokesman Mark Regev assured the BBC the slain Turkish aid workers were “dead-set on confrontation.”

As if 600 civilians, including women and children, fancied their chances against the Israeli army. As if Ambassador Peck and Colonel Wright, with 60 years of government service between them, were simply useful idiots unknowingly undertaking a terrorist mission along with a diabolical plan to lure Israeli commandos on board ships in order to beat them with sticks. But why would the Israeli army and government engage in something so outrageous, in full view of journalists and internationals, including European members of Parliament, and then blatantly lie about several aspects of it? Well, it wasn’t the first, and likely won’t be the last, incident where unarmed aid workers, journalists, and activists have been attacked, maimed, and killed by Israel under questionable circumstances.

Why did they bulldoze Rachel Corrie in full view of international activists? Why did they bomb UN buildings full of civilians in Gaza and Lebanon? Why did they destroy an American school in Gaza? Why did they attack the USS Liberty in 1967, killing 34 US servicemen? Why did they shoot out the eye of a young American woman in the West Bank just hours after the bungled Mavi Marmara raid? And why did they get away with it?

The last is a question for another day. But the fact is, they did get away with it. All of it. And they are managing the news cycle yet again with every expectation that no one of consequence will care about nine dead Turks by next month. “This is not surprising,” wrote Israeli professor Ilan Pappé. “The Barak-Netanyahu-Avigdor Lieberman government does not know any other way of responding to the reality in Palestine and Israel. The use of brutal force to impose your will and a hectic propaganda machine that describes it as self-defense, while demonizing the half-starved people in Gaza and those who come to their aid as terrorists, is the only possible course for these politicians. The terrible consequences in human death and suffering of this determination do not concern them, nor does international condemnation.”

It all sounds preposterous. Because it is. And it’s time the madness stopped. Israel must be held accountable. Words like ‘justice’ and ‘international law’ are not dirty or anti-Semitic. They are the only things that can bring a modicum of sanity back to a region that has fallen down too many slippery slopes. The first step is ending the illegal blockade with provisions that accommodate Israel’s legitimate security concerns, and allowing the people of Gaza to live a dignified life with a functioning economy. The next is reaching a deal for the release of Gilad Shalit, negotiating a comprehensive ceasefire that includes halting illegal settlement expansion on the West Bank, and setting the stage for meaningful peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel has a chance for peace if it relinquishes the West Bank and Gaza for a Palestinian state. If it doesn’t, it knows it faces a one-state struggle. And both options are politically impossible in an increasingly right-wing Israel, hunkering in its bunker of self-fulfilling paranoia. So it fights. And kills. And waits for someone to save it from itself.


When neocons say Gaza is not a humanitarian crisis, they’re right

Posted: 08 Jun 2010

It’s not about wheel chairs and cardamom and textbooks. “This is not a humanitarian problem,” we were told repeatedly a year ago in Gaza. No, it’s a man-made problem, a political problem created by Israel and the United States: the complete denial of the right of self-determination to a people, the fact that Palestinians are not allowed to come and go, that 1.5 million people are being imprisoned because a majority voted for someone that others disapprove of.
This is the essential issue, a political impasse involving occupation; and it began, politically, 63 years ago when the Arab states were not consulted about the future of Palestine despite Roosevelt and Truman’s repeated promises that they would be. And it was compounded the following year when the refugee camps in Gaza were created by the Nakba, and the world said, Let them go back to their homes, and Truman said, Let them go back to their homes, and Israel said No, let the Arab world take care of the refugees, we like a Jewish majority her.
Is there starvation, malnutrition, and homelessness in Gaza? Yes there is. But it springs from political disfranchisement. And if everyone was fat and sheltered in Gaza, per Netanyahu’s glorious “economic peace” for the West Bank, there would still be a crisis. Of basic human rights. The American tea-party colonists who cried “Taxation without representation” didn’t need the supplies on that boat; they wanted to control their political destiny. 
Ilan Pappe makes related points in the Independent

But Barak and Netanyahu, and those around them, know too well that the blockade on Gaza is not going to produce any change in the position of the Hamas and one should give credit to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, who remarked at Prime Minister’s Questions last week that the Israelis’ policy, in fact, strengthens, rather than weakens, the Hamas hold on Gaza. But this strategy, despite its declared aim, is not meant to succeed or at least no one is worried in Jerusalem if it continues to be fruitless and futile.One would have thought that Israel’s drastic decline in international reputation would prompt new thinking by its leaders. But the responses to the attack on the flotilla in the past few days indicate clearly that there is no hope for any significant shift in the official position. A firm commitment to continue the blockade, and a heroes’ welcome to the soldiers who pirated the ship in the Mediterranean, show that the same politics would continue for a long time.

…The international response is based on the assumption that more forthcoming Palestinian concessions and a continued dialogue with the Israeli political elite will produce a new reality on the ground. The official discourse in the West is that a very reasonable and attainable solution is just around the corner if all sides would make one final effort: the two-state solution.Nothing is further from the truth than this optimistic scenario. The only version of this solution that is acceptable to Israel is the one that both the tamed Palestine Authority in Ramallah and the more assertive Hamas in Gaza could never ever accept. It is an offer to imprison the Palestinians in stateless enclaves in return for ending their struggle.

Thus even before one discusses either an alternative solution – a single democratic state for all, which I support – or explores a more plausible, two-state settlement, one has to transform fundamentally the Israeli official and public mindset.

Kucinich cong’l letter says Israeli raid on flotilla endangers ‘lives of American soldiers’

Posted: 08 Jun 2010

Dennis Kucinich is circulating a great letter on the flotilla attack that is already getting pushback from the National Jewish Democratic Council, which calls it “reckless.” Notice the emphasis on the strategic liability that Israel now represents. Wonder if he’ll get any signatures. Excerpts follow:

The State of Israel’s conduct, attacking a Turkish ship in international waters, constitutes an act of belligerence against Turkey, which at one time Israel considered an important ally. It also undermines United States’ troops efforts in Iraq, since your administration’s efforts to achieve stability in the region and to withdraw troops from Iraq has depended upon Turkey’s cooperation through use of its air bases.

In its violent commando raid on the Mavi Marmara, the government of Israel showed no concern as to how its conduct may affect the lives of defenseless, innocent people, its friends and allies, and in particular the United States. The United States must remind Israel as well as all of our other friends and allies:

It is not acceptable to repeatedly violate international law.

It is not acceptable to shoot and kill innocent civilians.

It is not acceptable to commit an act of aggression against another U.S. ally.

It is not acceptable to continue a blockade which denies humanitarian relief.

It is not acceptable to heighten tensions in a region while the United States continues to put so much blood and treasure on the line.

The State of Israel’s action necessitates that the United States, which
is Israel’s partner in the region, begin to redefine its relationship
and to establish such boundaries and conditions which are sufficient for
mutual respect and cooperation.

It is incumbent upon Israeli officials to bring forth the truth about
the planning for and the attack upon the Mavi Marmara.

No one questions the right of Israel to defend its border, but that
defense does not extend to shooting innocent civilians anywhere in the
world, anytime it pleases.

Israel must account for our support, for the lives of our soldiers, for the investment of billions from our taxpayers. Israel owes the United States more than reckless, pre-meditated violence waged against innocent people.
The attack on the Mavi Marmara requires consequences for the Netanyahu
Administration and for the State of Israel. Those consequences must be
dealt by the United States. They must be diplomatic and they must be
financial. The U.S. can begin by calling for an independent
international inquiry of the Mavi Marmara incident.



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Tonight in Sydney: Australian premiere of Finkelstein film

Posted: 07 Jun 2010

Hillary shot by Israel but nothing to report here

Posted: 07 Jun 2010

A revealing story told to American journalist Alexander Cockburn:

A friend of mine gave a good parody of the servile posture of the U.S. government and press: “I think,” he wrote to me, “that matters are close to the point where if Hillary Clinton and a group of senior American officials were meeting the Israeli leaders for negotiations, and Netanyahu expressed his displeasure at the American positions by pulling out a gun and shooting her dead, then having the entire American delegation beaten to death by his security guards, there would probably be a small item buried in the next days’ American newspapers that due to conflict with the Israelis, Obama had decided to nominate a new Secretary of State.”

What the Pixies think may be catching

Posted: 07 Jun 2010

A piece in today’s Murdoch Australian highlights the almost unstoppable movement towards isolating Israel until it recognises the error of its occupying ways. Not much evidence that many Israelis do believe that, but give them time:

The piece is by Michael Shaik:

“MICHAEL, she’s dead.”

It was March 16, 2003. The huge anti-war protests of the month before had failed to deflect the Coalition of the Willing from its imminent invasion of Iraq.

In Palestine, Israel was busily breaking the back of the second intifada, as the pitifully armed resistance retaliated with suicide bombings.

In a desperate bid to resurrect the popular non-violent movement that had been smashed in the first weeks of the intifada, Palestinian leaders had requested the assistance of internationals whose presence, it was believed, would limit the amount of force Israel could use against protesters.

While the US university student Rachel Corrie worked to obstruct Israel’s demolition of 1200 houses along Gaza’s border with Egypt, I was working as the media co-ordinator for the International Solidarity Movement in the West Bank village of Beit Sahour.

Rachel had phoned me to report that one of her colleagues had been picked up in a bulldozer blade and thrown into some barbed wire. Then another activist had phoned to tell me that she had been run over. Then that she was in an ambulance and that her skin was turning blue. Then that she was dead.

Beit Sahour is in a valley where the archangel is believed to have announced Christ’s birth to the shepherds.

In 1997, the people of the village had camped in the forest of Abu Ghaneim overlooking the site of the miracle to prevent its seizure by Israel. Today, the settlement of Har Homa towers over Beit Sahour like a monument to the futility of non-violent resistance.

In 2006, I joined a group of peace activists who had been deported from Palestine to discuss ways in which we could help from the outside. At the beginning of the year, the Israeli government had announced that it would “put the Palestinians on a diet” to punish them for voting for Hamas in parliamentary elections and it was quickly decided that our best course was to try to “break the siege of Gaza” by bringing in supplies by sea.

In August 2008, we had our first success when two wooden fishing boats breached the blockade carrying a cargo of hearing aids for children whose eardrums had been damaged by the sonic booms caused by Israeli jets.

Gradually, our successes accumulated, drawing more people into the movement. Yet the turning point came during last year’s assault on Gaza when Israel systematically destroyed its factories, sewerage infrastructure, residential buildings, farmland and tens of thousands of farm animals. According to Amnesty International, the effect of the assault and blockade has been to “push the crisis to catastrophic levels”.

This year, UN Gaza chief John Ging called upon the international community “to shoulder its responsibility on this issue” by “sending ships to break the siege”.

Despite the mission’s failure, outrage over Israel’s attack on an aid convoy in international waters has forced its apologists to work overtime to explain how a blockade that bars tinned meat, cement, shoes and schoolbooks from entering Gaza, that has reduced 61 per cent of Gaza’s households to “food insecurity” and that has caused widespread stunting among its children, is vital to Israel’s security.

This represents a significant embarrassment for Israel, but for people living in refugee camps, non-violence is a means, not an end in itself.

On Saturday, Federal Labor MP Michael Danby announced that he and the leaders of Australia’s Israel lobby had met Kevin Rudd and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith at The Lodge and gained assurances that the government would not be calling for an end to the blockade nor a UN inquiry but would only support an “independent” Israeli inquiry into its attack on the ships.

Yet while Danby and his associates congratulate themselves on their power to shape Australian foreign policy, there may still be grounds for optimism.

With the possible exception of the invasion of Iraq, the West’s acquiescence to the siege of Gaza represents its greatest moral and political blunder of the modern era.

It pauperises Gaza’s population and strengthens Hamas (which taxes goods smuggled through tunnels from Egypt) while forcing Gaza into Iran’s embrace and providing a priceless example of Western duplicity for jihadi propagandists.

Like Guernica in the 1930s, Gaza has captured the world’s imagination as something larger than itself: a grotesque laboratory for experiments in human suffering and a symbol of the international community’s failure to live up to its professed ideals.

Amid the tragedy and media war of the past week, it is easy to overlook the historic significance of what has been achieved.

Seven years after a girl in a red jacket was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer, her memory is being carried forward by a Nobel peace laureate and former UN assistant secretary-general aboard a cargo vessel bearing her name.

Last weekend the Pixies joined Gil Scott-Heron, Carlos Santana and Elvis Costello in cancelling performances in Israel, recalling the cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa.

While none of these events will free Palestine, they certainly represent the coming of age of a global movement that challenges both Israel and an international community whose business-as-usual diplomacy has served to normalise one of the great crimes of the 21st century.

Michael Shaik was a founder of the Free Gaza Movement

Do we have to have Arab members of parliament at all?

Posted: 07 Jun 2010

Zionist nationalism is out of control. Firs we read, in a rather comical way, that some right-wing Jewish groups want to rename Turkish coffee to, well, something else because Ankara is a terrorist state etc.

But this is far more serious:

The Knesset’s House Committee on Monday recommended revoking the privileges of Israeli Arab MK Hanin Zuabi,  after she participated in last week’s Gaza-bound aid flotilla which resulted in an IDF raid that killed nine activists.

The decision was passed by a majority of seven to one, with MK Ilan Gilon of Meretz opposing.

The Knesset committee recommended rescinding from Zuabi three key privileges usually granted to Knesset Members. One is the privilege to exit the country – which is supposed to prevent Zoabi from fleeing Israel if she commits a felony or has debts in Israel.

Another privilege is carrying a diplomatic passport, which according to the Knesset’s legal adviser, is a privilege that does not grant diplomatic immunity so revoking it would not make it more difficult for Zuabi to fulfill her duties.

The third privilege is the right to have the Knesset cover litigation fees of an MK if he or she is put on trial.

The revocation of Zuabi’s privileges is conditional on the approval of the Knesset plenum.

Please don’t ask Tel Aviv about life in Gaza

Posted: 07 Jun 2010

Too many in the mainstream media simply report Israeli talking points on the humanitarian situation in Gaza. People may not be starving in the streets but every human rights group in the world claims the people there are in desperate need of assistance.

So what do many in the American press do?

Horror on the high seas

Posted: 07 Jun 2010

Gripping testimony from Al-Jazeera’s 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 warships at a distance, as they approached the humanitarian flotilla.  Little did I know how deadly and bloody the events that soon unfolded would be.

What I will write in this entry is fact, every letter of it, none of it is opinion, none of it is analysis, 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 warships together with helicopters remained at a 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. It was an unprovoked attack. Tear gas was used, sound grenades were launched, and rubber coated steel bullets were fired from almost every direction.

Dozens of speed boats carrying about 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 metres 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 desperately 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. They pointed their laser guided guns to her head, ordering her to go away.

A British citizen tried the same sign –  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, barring 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 orde. 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.

Slamming Muslims won’t solve Israel’s issues

Posted: 07 Jun 2010

I sent the following (now unpublished) letter to the Sydney Morning Herald:

Israel’s raid on the Gaza flotilla has been almost universally condemned but Paul Sheehan (Beware the words of a wolf dressed in sheikh’s clothing, 7 June) asserts that Muslim fundamentalists, the Left and Greens have formed an unholy alliance to destroy the Jewish state. Increasing global opposition to Israel’s behaviour in the West Bank and Gaza is primarily due to the country’s blatant ignoring of international law. Just this week famed British writer Ian Banks called for a cultural and educational boycott of Israel to “convince Israel of its moral degradation and ethical isolation, preferably by simply having nothing to do with this outlaw state.”
The Australian Greens are the only major Australian political party that aren’t afraid to demand Israel comply with humanitarian law.

Questioning the Promised Land is a Jewish need

Posted: 07 Jun 2010

I’m pleased to see my friend and co-founder of Indpendent Australian Jewish Voices (IAJV), Peter Slezak, with a piece in today’s Sydney Morning Herald on the importance of Jewish dissent.

These are the kinds of debates the Jewish community are so afraid to have. By defending all Israeli actions, they are blind to the reality of what Israel has become. History won’t forget:

The Mavi Marmara victims are the most visible of many unarmed international solidarity workers and Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli military forces at peaceful demonstrations. Charges that Israel’s lethal commando assault violated international law are far from the most serious it faces, after wars on Lebanon in 1982 and 2006, and Gaza in 2008-09. The lame official excuses for the assault invite the question: what does it take for “supporters” of Israel to protest that enough is enough?

Jewish leaders and their community follow Israeli official script: the raid on the unarmed civilians of the flotilla was in self-defence, just as pasta, coriander and children’s toys entering Gaza pose an existential threat to the Jewish state. The collective punishment of Gaza is merely putting them “on a diet”. George Orwell would have been impressed by such Newspeak in “defence of the indefensible”.

Apologists claim international outrage towards Israel is evidence of global anti-Semitism, seeking to “delegitimise” the Jewish state. The slur has caused non-Jewish commentators and individuals to avoid public criticism. The Jewish establishment has even sought to discredit human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, though the same criticisms may be found in reports of Israel’s own B’Tselem.

The Mavi Marmara victims are the most visible of many unarmed international solidarity workers and Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli military forces at peaceful demonstrations. Charges that Israel’s lethal commando assault violated international law are far from the most serious it faces, after wars on Lebanon in 1982 and 2006, and Gaza in 2008-09. The lame official excuses for the assault invite the question: what does it take for “supporters” of Israel to protest that enough is enough?

Jewish leaders and their community follow Israeli official script: the raid on the unarmed civilians of the flotilla was in self-defence, just as pasta, coriander and children’s toys entering Gaza pose an existential threat to the Jewish state. The collective punishment of Gaza is merely putting them “on a diet”. George Orwell would have been impressed by such Newspeak in “defence of the indefensible”.

Apologists claim international outrage towards Israel is evidence of global anti-Semitism, seeking to “delegitimise” the Jewish state. The slur has caused non-Jewish commentators and individuals to avoid public criticism. The Jewish establishment has even sought to discredit human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, though the same criticisms may be found in reports of Israel’s own B’Tselem.

 Diaspora Jewish communities and their leadership have not only avoided making public criticism of Israel themselves, but have sought to prevent other Jews speaking out as well. Those who dare, such as the signatories to Independent Australian Jewish Voices, are labelled “self-hating”, “useful idiots”, “kapos” and even “Jews for genocide”. However, if their communities expect uncritical loyalty of Jews to Zionism, they can hardly be surprised if others fail to make the distinction clearly.

The wider public is not mistaken in seeing a conspicuous Jewish silence as condoning whatever the state of Israel does. In Plato’s Republic, Socrates says: “We should be the first to use rhetoric to denounce ourselves and the people close to us, to expose their crimes and save them from immorality.” It is a moral truism, as is the biblical precept about the hypocrite in Matthew 7:”For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.”

For such reasons, in a recent article in the New York Review of Books, Peter Beinart has charged the diaspora Jewish establishment with being detached from reality, failing to recognise “Israel is becoming (has become) a right-wing, ultra-nationalist country” being abandoned by younger liberal and progressive Jews. As early as 1948, an open letter published in The New York Times signed by Hannah Arendt, Einstein and others warned against the fatal combination of “ultra-nationalism, religious mysticism and a propaganda of racial superiority”.

It is one of history’s ironies that Jews have embraced an essentialist idea of some intrinsic quality constituting their identity and destiny, since they have been perhaps history’s most aggrieved victims of it. Since the position of diaspora Jews has a critical influence on government policies in Israel itself and elsewhere, Beinart poses the question to Jewish leaders: what would Israel’s government have to do to make them scream “no”? Beinart asks: “If the line has not yet been crossed, where is the line?”

The question of Jewish identity and responsibility has been posed acutely by some Jews themselves, those who break ranks – those referred to in Isaac Deutscher’s essay as ”The Non-Jewish Jew”. Among these, Baruch Spinoza (1634-77) is described by Bertrand Russell as “the noblest and most lovable of the great philosophers”. For his heresies, he was given the severest punishment, Cherem – permanent excommunication from the 17th century Amsterdam Jewish community.

He notes the paradox that Jewish heretics who transcend Jewry belong to a characteristically Jewish tradition, among the great revolutionaries of modern thought, including Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. To Deutscher’s list we may add Hannah Arendt, the late renegade American historian Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, all reviled by their communities.

“They all went beyond the boundaries of Jewry,” Deutscher says, to transcend their narrowly conceived ethnic identity while remaining attached to it. Such Jewish thinkers embrace a wider, universal, Enlightenment outlook – the tradition of secular, liberalism and humanism. This is the position of the famous Jewish philosopher Marx – not Karl, but Groucho – who quipped “I wouldn’t want to join any club that would have me as a member”.

Do you feel good when your football team wins a game? Do you know any of the players whose success you enjoy and feel you share? Are you proud of being Jewish? Or Irish? Or Australian? What have you done to deserve credit for the achievements of Einstein, Beckett, Bradman or anyone else?

The true heroes in history are the heretics who adopt a critical attitude towards the national symbols and sacred traditions.

Edward Said, the Palestinian intellectual who took students to visit Auschwitz, made the point: “To this terribly important task of representing the collective suffering of your own people … reinforcing its memory, there must be added something else … The task, I believe, is to universalise the crisis, to give greater human scope to what a particular race or nation suffered, to associate that experience with the suffering of others.”

Israel is not the state of its citizens, of whom now 20 per cent are not Jewish, but the state of the Jewish people. The Knesset has considered a bill that would institute a jail sentence for anyone who speaks ”against Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state”. But, as Ariel Sharon explicitly recognised in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, there is a contradiction inherent in attributing these two properties – Jewish and democratic, like green and colourless.

In view of the brutal occupation of the West Bank, inhumane blockade of Gaza, continuing dispossession, injustice and suffering of the Palestinians, Jews might heed Einstein’s prophetic warning in 1955: ”The attitude we adopt towards the Arab minority will provide the real test of our moral standards as a people.”

Peter Slezak is a senior lecturer at the University of NSW’s school of history and philosophy of science.

Waiting for President Palin

Posted: 07 Jun 2010

The increasingly vocal liberal Zionist Peter Beinart on the fear, loathing and anticipation gripping the Israeli government and its American backers:

Netanyahu’s response to the Gaza blockade crisis shows just how out of touch he is with America. Peter Beinart on why Israeli leaders—and their U.S. defenders—need to join the age of Obama.

This week, Elliott Abrams, the former Bush official and noted neoconservative, wrote an essay in the Weekly Standard attacking the Obama administration for not more forcefully defending Israel during the flotilla crisis. Abrams said the White House had joined an anti-Israeli “lynch mob.” Over the course of the article, he used the metaphor six times.

It’s remarkable when you think about it. To Americans with even the slightest degree of racial awareness, “lynch mob” conjures something quite particular: African American men hanging from trees in the post-civil war South. To deploy the metaphor to describe a United Nations resolution that obliquely criticizes Israel is audacious. To deploy it to describe the support for that resolution by America’s first African-American president is downright astonishing. It’s a bit like calling Joe Lieberman’s opposition health-care reform a “pogrom.”

As an Obama official once told me about the Netanyahu team, with amazement, “these guys are actually waiting for President Palin.”

Tehran seems to like a gay McDonalds ad

Posted: 07 Jun 2010

Read this.

Then watch this:


Posted in UncategorizedComments Off on A.LOEWENSTEIN ONLINE NEWSLETTER



Hi All

Also, on Thursday Sammi Ibrahim of UNity FM has invited Roger Godsiff MP Labour party to
discuss Palestine on his politics show. It would be good if people can ring the radio
between 5 and 6 pm on thursday the 10th June 2010 (tel no: 0121 772
8892 Unity Fm) you can also text your question on 07926843388 –

The issues in partuicular to raise with him would be why the Labour
government was soft on Israel when the Israel used British passport to
kill a Hamas leader. Also, the cover the West has provided to the
Israelis has encouraged them to violate international law and kill
innocent activists providing aid to Palestinians. What is the stance of
the Labourt Party now on UN enquiry into the killings? Has he signed
the early day motions on the flotilla ?

During this week Israel killed further 4 Palestinians on the Gaza coast.

We need to keep the pressure on our elected leaders so please ring where you can –




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