Archive | June 11th, 2010



Foreign Policy Briefing 6/7/10

June 7, 2010

by Bob Higgins

Israel has become a “strategic liability” for the U.S., suggests Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

This summary briefing comes to us through the courtesy of Just Foreign Policy.

Just Foreign Policy News

Al Jazeera Video: Israel Takes The Rachel Corrie

Israel blocks cement shipment from entering Gaza
Israel refused to allow 500 tons of cement transported by the Rachel Corrie into Gaza.

Tristan Anderson comes home
After more than a year in a Tel Aviv hospital, activist and photo-journalist Tristan Anderson has returned to California. Tristan was critically injured when he was shot in the head at close range with a high-velocity tear gas canister at the Israeli Separation Wall on March 13, 2009, while taking photos following a demonstration against the apartheid wall in the West Bank village of Ni’lin.

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Your financial support allows us to educate Americans about U.S. foreign policy and to create opportunities for Americans to advocate for U.S. policies that are more just.


U.S./Top News
1) Israel has become a “strategic liability” for the U.S., suggests Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Cordesman adds the attack on the Turkish ship to a series of “major strategic blunders,” by Israel. [Cordesman and CSIS are impeccably “hyper-centrist,” so this is a good sign – JFP.]

2) Not only is the U.S. funding both sides in the Afghan civil war, but US and Afghan investigators suspect that some US security contractors are faking and staging attacks to drum up business, the New York Times reports. “It would be my expectation that people might create their own demand,” said the commander of NATO forces in southern Afghanistan.

3) Writing in the Washington Post, Turkey’s ambassador to the US says Israel should apologize, agree to an international investigation, and lift the siege of Gaza. The Turkish public is stunned, in part, because Turkey has been a strong ally of Israel.

4) Two Lebanese organizations announced Saturday they plan to send an aid vessel of their own to Gaza as early as next weekend, Ynet reports. A representative of Reporters without Borders said “the ship will leave the Beirut coast on the weekend with 50 journalists and 25 European activists, including several European parliament members.”

5) The German-Jewish organization Jewish Voice for Peace in the Middle East is preparing a Jewish flotilla to Gaza, Ynetnews reports. “We intend to leave around July,” a member of the group said. The activists are frightened, she said, but not by Hamas. “Jews have been to Gaza in the past, and they were treated in a friendly manner,” Kate Leitrer said. Edith Lutz, a German Jewish member of the organization, said she took part in the Free Gaza flotilla two years ago, and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told her that Hamas has nothing against Jews or Israel, only against the occupation.

6) Amnesty International said a US cruise missile carrying cluster bombs was behind a December attack in Yemen that killed 55 people, most of them civilians, AFP reports. A local official had said 49 civilians, among them 23 children and 17 women, were killed “indiscriminately.”

7) The US has asked Israel to investigate an incident in which an Israeli-American woman from Maryland lost an eye after Israeli forces shot her with a tear gas canister during a protest in Jerusalem, AP reports. Emily Henochowicz’s mother demanded a “full and transparent investigation from the Israeli government,” as well as an apology. Sarit Michaeli, of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, said police and soldiers often fire tear gas canisters directly at people.

More than 6,000 Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv to protest the Israeli raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, Haaretz reports.

9) Turkey’s Chief Rabbi slammed Israel over the raid, Ynetnews reports. The rabbi praised Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, who he said was making a clear distinction between the State of Israel and the Jews of his country and ensuring their safety.

10) Egyptian authorities said the Rafah border crossing to Gaza would remain open indefinitely, amid a storm of international criticism of the blockade, Haaretz reports. Egypt opened its Rafah crossing last week to allow aid convoys into the strip. A security source in Egypt said a partial lifting of the blockade was in sight. But the source said this would not solve problems such as a lack of infrastructure in Gaza.

11) Three German-built Israeli submarines equipped with nuclear cruise missiles are to be deployed in the Gulf near the Iranian coastline, the London Sunday Times reported. Some of the cruise missiles are equipped with the most advanced nuclear warheads in the Israeli arsenal. “The 1,500km range of the submarines’ cruise missiles can reach any target in Iran,” said a navy officer.

12) Afghan President Karzai ordered a review of all cases of suspected insurgents in jails in Afghanistan and called for the release of those being held without sufficient evidence, Retuers reports. The declaration is being viewed as Karzai’s first step toward implementing one of several recommendations made at a peace conference last week aimed at bringing an end to the war. While it was not immediately clear whether the Afghan government would review detainees held at U.S. prisons and other foreign military bases in the country, NATO’s top civilian spokesman said they would cooperate with the government. Last week the first four Afghan detainees at U.S. Bagram prison appeared before an Afghan judge. The detainees were given defense lawyers for the first time and were read their charges by an Afghan prosecutor. Previously, prisoners at Bagram did not have lawyers or trials.

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U.S. Presses Case Against Iran Ahead of UN Sanctions Vote

June 8, 2010 posted

by Michael Leon

Iran Israel-US

It’s gotten to the point that one wonders if American foreign policy resembles even the barest of resemblance to American needs. and democracy.


WASHINGTON — With a vote on new sanctions against Iran only days away, the Obama administration is making the case to members of the United Nations Security Council that Iran has revived elements of its program to design nuclear weapons that American intelligence agencies previously concluded had gone dormant.

The classified intelligence briefings — some held in Washington for foreign ministers and foreign leaders as they visited in recent months, others in foreign capitals — have been part of a lobbying effort to secure votes for the sanctions, the fourth round since 2006. European and American officials expect the vote could come as early as Wednesday, and they say they believe the sanctions will pass 12 to 3, with Turkey, Brazil and Lebanon likely to vote against the sanctions.

In advance of the vote, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran maintained a defiant posture on Tuesday, saying Tehran would not be pressured by the threat of sanctions.

“If the U.S. and its allies think they could hold the stick of sanctions and then sit and negotiate with us, they are seriously mistaken,” he told a news conference in Turkey, according to the state-run Press TV satellite broadcaster.

Moreover, he said, Iran would not repeat a recent offer, made in Tehran and supported by Brazil and Turkey, to ship part of its low-enriched uranium out of the country in return for fuel for a medical reactor.

“The Tehran declaration provided an opportunity for the United States government and its allies. We had hoped and we are still hopeful that they use the opportunity well,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said. “I must say opportunities like this will not be repeated again.”

Separately, Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said he would meet with Mr. Ahmadinejad on Tuesday in Istanbul on the sidelines of a regional meeting, according to news reports. Mr. Putin said he believed a sanctions resolution “should not be excessive.”


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I was released from detention after investigation only with minor bruises, threats and warnings but both Israeli activists Shy and Yotam were brought in front of a judge on some false charges and judged to stay away from the wall for 30 days (last time for me it was 15 days) with hefty fines if they violate the order. 

I was honored to share a few hours with them in detention.  The past two days have not been easy (videos below). Yesterday(Tuesday June 8th), we witnessed how the land of Al-Walaja was being destroyed.  Abu Nidal watched as Israeli colonizers uprooted olive trees that his family has planted decades ago and trees donated by Europeans 8 years ago. 

After the devastation, activists were determined to do something and this morning some even chained themselves to a bulldozer. 

 The ‘Border

police’ are known for being ruthless and mean.  In this case, there was also the added complication of the Israeli army deciding to put a unit headed by a Druze officer named Asa’ad that included a mix of Ashkenazim and Druze and a token black soldier.  One of the Ashkenazi soldiers was particularly  aggressive. 

The Druze soldiers appeared out of place. Some soldiers
confided that they are merely forced to serve.  But Captain Asa’ad was clearly in command and interested in action.  He was busy ordering his soldiers to push us around, instructing them to not talk to us, telling them to arrest us etc.  After Yotam was arrested for chaining himself to the  bulldozer, we were pushed up the hill toward the paved village road past the old destroyed fig tree that Zakhariya used to sit under every day for decades. 

We had a sit-in for over an hour at the side of the street. Towards the end of it, it was clear that this commander had it in for us.
At two times as I was trying to talk to him and his soldiers, he came to tell me that I would be arrested.  As we finally ended our sit-in and were  moving away from the soldiers, the commander called for me and took my ID card and told me I was being detained.  As his soldier led me away, other activists rushed to talk to the soldiers including the commander. 

I was thus not surprised to see Shy also arrested even though he did not do anything other than trying to talk to the occupation soldiers about why they detained me. I was released without charges four hours later with a strong  warning and threat from Asa’ad  that he would shackle me, hurt me, ‘and worse’ if he caught me near the wall work areas again.  Shy and Yotam were given a suspended sentence but they must stay away from the wall areas for 30 days.

If you know any Druze, I urge you to write to them.  It is a shame  what they are doing serving in an army of occupation.  But it is also a shame for any human being to serve in such a sadistic brutalizing colonization force. Heartbreaking video of devastation Tuesday June 8th at: 

And the action and arrests on Wednesday June 9th
And here is a report from Palestine monitor with great photos

 This destruction is carried on while the US administration bribes Mahmoud Ab-Ass with more millions in aid for more streets and government buildings and security forces to ensure we do not have any demonstrations against the occupation. This is done as the US shields Israel from International law and sends more arms shipments to Israel in violation of US law (which demands
 weapons not be used to violate human rights)




In his piece: “IDF Executed Mavi Marmara Victims,” Richard Silverstein writes, after describing the fact that a footage of an actual execution of a passenger by an Israeli commando is now available:”This changes everything. Here for the first time is evidence that the IDF was not just engaged in a defensive operation, but that it had determined to murder passengers. Gone are the hasbara [Israeli official propaganda – RG] rationales which defended Israel and blamed the victims for their own deaths.

I am ashamed of Israel. I am ashamed of my president’s response to Israel.”

Some of the footage is available with the article on Silverstein’s blog “Tikkun Olam”:

For a more extensive footage, coupled with an interview with Lara Lee, the journalist who smuggled an hour worth of material off of the Mavi Marmara, go to Democracy Now! at

Racheli Gai.

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Z. Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman 
Jewish Peace News archive and blog:

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Mel Frykberg: Israel’s media blackout, doctored Flotilla recording condemned

The Electronic Intifada

The ugly reality regarding what happened on the flotilla boats, and treatment of kidnapped activists while in Israel is emerging, in spite of Israeli efforts to doctor the record.
Racheli Gai.

Mel Frykberg:  Israel’s media blackout, doctored Flotilla recording condemned.

The Electronic Intifada, 8 June 2010

RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) – Although Israel successfully controlled news of its deadly commando raid on the Freedom Flotilla during the first crucial 48 hours of media coverage, emerging evidence from witnesses and survivors is challenging the Israeli government’s version of events.

These include claims of medical treatment being withheld; beatings and abuse of passengers who never resisted; the Israeli military doctoring audio and selectively editing videos.

 Furthermore, allegations 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. One of the first targets of Israeli commandos raiding the Flotilla was the international media. Photographers were attacked, and journalists had their video, audio and other communications equipment confiscated. The equipment has still not been returned.
“It was clear that Israel wanted to control the media coverage of the situation from the very beginning,” Huwaida Arraf, the Free Gaza Movement’s chairwoman, told IPS. Approximately 60 journalists from around the globe were on board the Flotilla. They were amongst the last to be released by the Israelis.
Israeli authorities denied other media access to the imprisoned journalists and activists during the entire period they were incarcerated. Reporters were also prevented from speaking to the Flotilla activists when they were deported from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International airport.

The Israeli army imposed a media blackout on the wounded being interviewed in Israeli hospitals, with soldiers stationed in hospital wards to enforce the ban. Journalists trying to enter Gaza to cover the raid were turned back by the Israeli authorities at the Erez crossing.
Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has denounced Israel’s editing and distribution of footage it confiscated from foreign journalists aboard the Flotilla.

CPJ refers to claims by the Foreign Press Association (FPA) in Israel that the military “is selectively using footage to bolster its claims that commandos opened fire only after being attacked.”
In another incident, the Israeli military had to clarify and correct another audio tape it released to the media after questions were raised as to its authenticity.
In the audio one of the “activists” on board the Flotilla allegedly tells the Israelis, amongst other things, to “go back to Auschwitz” in what appears to be a fake accent from the United States’ deep south. The “activist” is also heard telling the Israelis: “We are helping Arabs go against the US Don’t forget 9/11 guys.”
The Israeli army also claimed that the voice of Arraf was recorded on the Mavi Marmara, the boat where the activists were shot dead. However, she was on a different boat, the Challenger 1. “There were no Americans from the south on the Flotilla. Furthermore, the only people to communicate with the Israelis other than myself were the captains,” Arraf told IPS.
“One of them was British, two were Greek, two Turkish and one Algerian and they acted in a very professional manner. I was near the VHF radio during the entire period of communication with the [Israeli army] and none of those alleged slurs were made,” added Arraf.

However, despite the Israeli military’s retraction/correction, discrepancies remain even in the edited Israeli military audio which was released five days after the original one. The alleged slurs about Auschwitz and 9/11 remain.  Although it was inevitable that contradictory evidence would emerge following the arrival of hundreds of the released activists in Istanbul, Athens and other European capitals, the first dramatic events are no longer the main headlines of the major media outlets and network corporations.

And this was probably what the Israelis relied on as they went on the diplomatic offensive. Nevertheless, the raid and its ramifications are not going away. Postmortems carried out by the Turks reveal that a number of the dead had numerous shots to the head in addition to other parts of the body. Thirty shots were used to kill nine people.

The Israeli military has a “confirm kill” policy where even after a person (who is considered a danger to the life of a soldier or other Israelis) is neutralized by several bullets, a final shot is fired into the head at close range to “confirm the kill.”

Critics have questioned how individuals, who allegedly constituted threats to the life of the commandos, and would therefore be fighting and moving around, remained still long enough to receive so many shots to the head at close range.

 Activists further accuse the Israelis of denying the dying and seriously wounded medical attention despite their desperate pleas for help. Other activists were forcibly prevented from going to the aid of the injured.

Survivors, reportedly, have also disputed Israeli claims that their soldiers used live ammunition only after they were attacked by some of the activists who fought back and managed to wound several of the soldiers. They claim the soldiers began shooting before they were attacked as well as after those who fought back had been neutralized.
Further, Israeli claims that the commandos only used violence against activists who attacked them have also been disputed. A number of activists have claimed they were beaten up in jail and at Ben Gurion when they were being deported.
This IPS correspondent was physically threatened and verbally abused by Israeli police when she witnessed, and took pictures of, several frightened and cuffed activists being frog-marched away from the airport’s departure lounge.

 Paul Larudee, a 64-year-old activist from the US and a diabetic, had to be hospitalized after he was beaten repeatedly on different occasions by the navy seals. Kenneth O’Keefe, an Irish-American and former marine, was hospitalized in Tel Aviv after he too was beaten by security officials at the airport.
O’Keefe wanted to fight his deportation but was advised by his lawyer to leave the country for his own safety.

 Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Z. Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
> Jewish Peace News archive and blog:

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  1. Israeli law to criminalize advocates of boycotts, inside or outside of Israel
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Israeli law to criminalize advocates of boycotts, inside or outside of Israel

My JVP colleague Sydney Levy just posted on our sister blog, TheOnlyDemocracy? This effort seems largely triggered by the Palestinian boycott of settlement goods which has already had a significant economic impact. Ynet reports:

The bill was initiated by the Land of Israel lobby in the Knesset and was endorsed by members of various factions, including Kadima party whip Dalia Itzik and Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tsachi Hanegbi.

by Sydney Levy | 

What is Israel’s reaction to the growing nonviolent movement of boycott, divestment, and sanctions? Well criminalize it, of course!

We just learned new bill has been introduced in the Israeli Knesset by 25 Knesset members, that would criminalize all boycott activities or even boycott advocacy inside or outside Israel. You can find info about this in English here and with more detail in Hebrew here.

The proposed bill would target those that initiate, encourage, or provide assistance or information about boycotts against Israel.

Israeli citizens or residents of Israel could be sued by whoever was harmed by the boycott and would have to pay up to 30,000 shekels in restitution and an additional amount according to the harm established by the Israeli courts.

This provision would endanger the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace, New Profile, Boycott from Within, among others.

Those that are neither citizens nor residents of Israel would lose the ability of entering Israel for at least ten years and would be forbidden from economic activity in Israel (holding an account in an Israeli bank, owning Israeli stocks, land, or any other good that requires registration.)

It is not clear whether this provision would apply also to entry into the West Bank, although Prof. Noam Chomsky’s denial of entry may be a sign of things to come.

A group in a foreign country would also be forbidden from economic activism in Israel. This would apply to the Palestinian Authority as well.

In the case of the PA, Israel would freeze transfer of money it owes and would use it to pay restitution to those harmed in Israel by the PA boycott of settlement goods.

More Recent Articles

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by Gilad  Atzmon

DateJune 10, 2010


Killing Christ is realised symbolically as an assault on goodness, a crime against kindness

and innocence. The cold blooded slaughter of peace activists in international waters has a very similar effect.

It is an assault on compassion, righteousness and humanism. It is an attack on everything Christianity and Islam happen to value. As much as Israelis, Zionists and Neocons are insisting on  spreading the deceptive myth of a Judeo-Christian alliance, it is this last Israeli crime that made it clear that the Jewish State shares nothing with humanism, Christianity or Islam. Israel in fact stands against any recognised Western value.

To read more:


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 Depressing News

ITUC’s Annual Survey of Trade Union Rights makes grim reading:

“…a dramatic increase in the number of trade unionists murdered in 2009, with 101 killings – an increase of 30% over the previous year. The Survey, released today, also reveals growing pressure on fundamental workers’ rights around the world as the impact of the global economic crisis on employment deepened.
This year’s report again records an extensive list of violations suffered by trade unionists struggling to defend workers’ interests, this time in 140 countries. Many other violations remain unreported, as working women and men are deprived of the means to have their voices heard, or fear to speak out due to the consequences to their jobs or even to their physical safety.

Along with the appalling list of killings, the Survey provides detailed documentation of harassment, intimidation and other forms of anti-union persecution. A further ten attempted murders and 35 serious death threats were recorded, again mostly in Colombia and Guatemala. Furthermore, many trade unionists remained in prison and were joined by around hundred newly imprisoned in 2009.

Many others were arrested in Iran, Honduras, Pakistan, South Korea, Turkey and Zimbabwe in particular. The general trade union rights’ situation has continued to deteriorate in a number of other countries, including Egypt, the Russian Federation, South Korea and Turkey.”

(H/T: Eric Lee)

Elsewhere, those xenophobes in Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party have seriously increased their votes in the new Dutch election, going from nine seats in parliament to 24. The Beeb has more:

“A Dutch anti-Islam party has more than doubled its seats in parliament in a national vote, though it is unclear if it will take part in a coalition.

Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders said he wanted to be part of government.

The election saw the centre-right Liberal Party (VVD) emerging as the largest party, one seat ahead of the centre-left Labour Party.

The Christian Democrat party of outgoing Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende suffered a big defeat.

Weeks of coalition negotiations are expected to follow the election.

With more than 99% of votes counted, the VVD had 31 of 150 seats, while Labour had 30.

As the party with the most seats, VVD leader Mark Rutte could now become the first prime minister from his political camp since World War I.”

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Israel about to criminalize BDS and more

Israel about to criminalize BDS

What is Israel’s reaction to the growing nonviolent movement of boycott, divestment, and sanctions? Well criminalize it, of course!

We just learned new bill has been introduced in the Israeli Knesset by 25 Knesset members, that would criminalize all BDS activities or even BDS advocacy inside or outside Israel. You can find info about this in English here and with more detail in Hebrew here.

The proposed bill would target those that initiate, encourage, or provide assistance or information about boycotts against Israel.

Israeli citizens or residents of Israel could be sued by whoever was harmed by the boycott and would have to pay up to 30,000 shekels in restitution and an additional amount according to the harm established by the Israeli courts.
This provision would endanger the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace, New Profile, Boycott from Within, among others.

Those that are neither citizens nor residents of Israel would lose the ability of entering Israel for at least ten years and would be forbidden from economic activity in Israel (holding an account in an Israeli bank, owning Israeli stocks, land, or any other good that requires registration.)
It is not clear whether this provision would apply also to entry into the West Bank, although Prof. Noam Chomsky’s denial of entry may be a sign of things to come.

A group in a foreign country would also be forbidden from economic activism in Israel. This would apply to the Palestinian Authority as well.
In the case of the PA, Israel would freeze transfer of money it owes and would use it to pay restitution to those harmed in Israel.

Helen Thomas response, hypocrisy here and there

By Cecilie Surasky, crossposted from

It’s impossible to defend White House Grande Dame of journalism Helen Thomas’ recent off the cuff statement that Israeli Jews should go back to Germany…..or Poland. (She said Israel should get out of Palestine, but it wasn’t clear if she meant the Occupied Territories, which Israelis should get out of, or Israel behind the green line.) It was deeply offensive and wrong.

One of this country’s most important and courageous journalists said something terribly wrong, was massively criticized, apologized for it, and was forced into retirement. Exactly the way it should be, right? Wrong.

It’s hard to even chart out the hypocrisy of the whole affair. What happened in 2002 when House Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey called for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians on MSNBC’s Hardball? An outraged response? Nary a peep. That same year Senator James Inhofe also called for Israel to permanently retain all of the Occupied Territories, “Because God said so. “  Did he quit? No. And what to make of the fact that Obama’s White House summoned infinitely more moral outrage for Thomas’ terrible but certainly not lethal remarks, than for the death of 9 people on the Mavi Marmara, including a 19-year-old US citizen shot in the head. (One prompted “deep regret”, the other was “reprehensible”. Guess which was which.)

There’s also the glass house in which Rabbi Nessenoff lives: he’s the one who recorded the Thomas gotcha video and who, it seems, has offered the world his own offensive imitation of a Mexican priest, and believes that Palestinians all belong back home…in Jordan.

In Israel, the hypocrisy is even more painful, where it should be noted that the Israeli military recently created an order that, according to many human rights groups and Ha’aretz, “will enable mass deportation from West Bank.” Who had to retire because of that? Maybe because it wasn’t an off the cuff remark to suggest ethnic cleansing, but an actual military order to allow it, its authors escaped opprobrium.

Just this week, Likud party MK, Miri Regev shouted at Hanin Zuabi, an Arab member of the Knesset from Nazareth who went on the Gaza flotilla, “Get back to Gaza, you traitor!” Sounds familiar, as though Thomas herself could have said it. Outrage meter? Zero. Then again, Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai wants Zuabi stripped of her Israeli citizenship, so telling her to go back to a place she is not from actually seems pretty mild by those standards.

Moshe Yaroni, who abhors what Thomas said, compares her treatment to Israel’s response to the Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick who is surely responsible for what will go down as one of the most morally heinous pieces of agitprop in modern history:

In Israel, the premier woman journalist in the country went a hell of a lot farther, in a premeditated, rather than an impetuous fashion. And there is hardly a peep in response in her home country.

Caroline Glick is well-known to readers of right-wing e-mail lists, and of course, of the Jerusalem Post, where she is the deputy managing editor and a regular columnist. She is also a fellow at the extremist neoconservative Center for Security Policy in Washington.

Caroline Glick with fellow travelers Morton Klein and John Bolton

Glick herself is an extremist, and even those who agree with her (and who would, of course, not refer to her as an extremist) would have to agree that she situates herself well to the right of the current Israeli government. And that’s all well and good; she’s an op-ed writer, and she is certainly entitled to her opinions.

But at her web site, Latma, Glick has raised her vitriol to a whole new level. In a video overflowing with racism, a group of Israelis satirize the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla. You can see it for yourself here, if you can make it through the whole thing.

In a most contemptible fashion, almost every trope of bigotry is on display in the video, which features the contention that the massive suffering in Gaza is all an elaborate fabrication. For a quick rundown of this “fabricated” suffering, check out B’Tselem’s summary of conditions in Gaza.

This level of cruelty is truly astonishing. Even if one contends that the Gaza blockade is a necessary security measure (see my earlier article for why it has the opposite effect), it is appalling to see fellow Jews laughing about it. And don’t we know all too well the offense in denying such things?

The punch line, of course, is that because of her truly abominable and utterly vile video, Caroline Glick and is being hailed as a Hasbara hero in Israel- while one of our few truly great journalists has ended an otherwise remarkable career. Yaroni continues:

No, the real concern, the real question is where is the Israeli outrage? We wouldn’t expect it from the government, of course. In fact, the Government Press Office e-mailed the video to journalists and later apologized, saying it had been done in error. That is unlikely to say the least. Mark Regev, the Prime Minister’s Office Spokesman said “I called my kids in to watch it because I thought it was funny. It is what Israelis feel. But the government has nothing to do with it.”

The courageous blog, Coteret, run by Didi Remez, blasts the video and all it represents. But in the mainstream Israeli media and commentary, there is nothing. This blatantly hateful and racist video is perfectly acceptable in Israel.

Glick, on her blog, magnifies her hypocrisy by spending a great many words blasting Thomas for her offensive remarks.

Grit Tv’s Laura Flanders may be onto something when she says:

Thomas’s crime wasn’t just Antisemitism — it was Antisemitism in defense of Palestine. That’s the true source of the outrage. The outrage that Obama and Biden and most other U.S. officials, to say nothing of the majority of the press corps, can’t seem to find for others.

I’m not sure. Had Helen Thomas made a similar remark about African Americans, for example, I’m not sure the same fate wouldn’t have befallen her. If only I could feel confident that power-brokers in the world of journalism and even my own government cared as much about my Arab and Palestinian friends as they seem to care about me… as a Jew of course.

Our 2 Op-Eds in the Israeli Press about Israel’s Future (1)

(crossposted on Daily Kos)

In April, in anticipation of Israel’s independence day, fellow Israeli activist Ofer Neiman sent us an op-ed for feedback. I ended up co-signing the article. It appeared on Ynet, the website of Israel’s largest daily. I planned to translate it to English but was too busy.

A couple of weeks ago, as the Gaza flotilla was cruising towards its tragic end, I thought up another article – a sequel if you will. This time it was Ofer who joined me as a co-author, and the article appeared in Haaretz – but wasn’t translated on their English mirror.

Both articles deal with Israel’s existential problems rather than focus on current events. The Ynet article reminds Israelis, that the deteriorating quality of our public life bears a direct impact upon the raison d’etre for the Jewish state itself. The Haaretz article tackles Israel’s recent foreign-policy philosophy (embraced by most of the public) head-on.

Neither article was received well by Israeli readers; no big surprise. At least we tried. Below is an annotated translation of the Ynet piece, with additional remarks I’ve never written before regarding my personal experience. The Haaretz article – hopefully in a day or two.

The Most Dangerous Place for Jews

Ofer Neiman and Assaf Oron, April 22, 2010

The State of Israel was established to be a safe haven for Jews, but it seems that since its establishment this has been the only place in the world where Jews are killed on a regular basis in military conflicts or terror attacks, supposedly for being Jews – but more precisely, for their affiliation with the Zionist enterprise. Generations of ceaseless self-armament, during which Israel has turned into a regional power with the strongest military in the Middle East, have not served to allay our fears. Even now many feel threatened – for example, by the potential of an Iranian nuclear weapon, or by thousands of rockets on our northern and southern borders.

While bereavement and existential fears grip the public in Israel every few years, in many other places around the world Jews live a prosperous stable life, maintain a rich community fabric, and actively participate in the surrounding local culture. The state that was set up “to prevent another Holocaust” is the only place in the world where local politicians dare threaten Jews with… another Holocaust, as the speeches during this year’s Memorial Week once again demonstrate.

[note: Israel’s Memorial Week starts with the Holocaust day a few days after Passover, and continues a week later with the military and terror-victim Memorial Day, right on the eve of Independence day. Right-wing politicians like Bibi use the event to remind citizens how all the world is against us, and how grave is the existential threat du jour]

The vast majority of Israelis (at least those who are not religious fanatics) see the protection of Jews’ welfare and safety as a primary mission of the state, a mission far more important than, say, the ambition to extend the national borders beyond those recognized by the world in 1949. Therefore, it is no surprise that the citizens most at ease with the present political reality are messianic fanatics. Effi Eitam, for example, already declared that Jewish sovereignty over the entire “greater Israel” is a goal worth sacrificing human lives for. We, the rest of Israelis, must ask ourselves: are we ready to sacrifice our children and other children, when we can guarantee them a future of security and contentment somewhere else?

At this point, one might think that the article’s main goal is to convince people to emigrate from Israel. Bear with us: we are being intentionally provocative. The point made by the article’s first part is that even on security proper – that major deity “justifying” pretty much every failure and crime our government commits – successive Israeli governments have actually scored very low grades. Fact of the matter is, the average Israeli would be much safer grabbing whatever foreign passport or visa they can get hold of, and emigrate to where most Diaspora Jews live, i.e. some wealthy peaceful country. From a pure security perspective, that is.

Of course, even with Israel’s higher rate of conflict-related deaths vs. the West’s, is still fortunately too low to make Israelis run for the exits en masse like Iraqis had done recently. Yet, the ongoing sense of paranoia and trauma has been quite damaging.

But there are other reasons beside security for Jews, even non-fanatics, to live in a Jewish-dominated state, and we continue by listing some of them.

True, even non-fanatics can suggest answers to the question “Why live in Israel?” for example “Only here we control our destiny” or “Only here there is a sense of a shared fate”. But the validity of these answers needs to be revisited in view of recent developments.

Recently, our public sphere has been monopolized by the new-old consensus that we must live on our sword, as a “Villa in the Jungle” facing our “Barbarian” neighobors who “do not accept our existence here”. This is not controlling our destiny, but the complete opposite: fatalism and a dead end. As to the shared fate, Israel’s once-famous social cohesion has been unraveling in recent decades because of rifts between major population groups, the disintegration of the education system, cruel economic policies, and the epidemic of corruption in high places that eradicates the public’s trust in its leaders. This is not a coincidence: when all of us are consumed by an outbreak of existential fears, or are busy recovering from the previous outbreak – who has the energy to deal with society’s core problems and hold politicians accountable?

Of course, there are other answers that can be given besides the two we addressed. We could not cover all of them in a 575-word article. For example, “Participate in the re-connection of Jewish life and culture to our ancient ancestral land” (not necessarily in the religious sense). This is a very popular theme, and one which, as a history buff and former nature guide, I personally identify with. But in recent years Israelis’ collective view of the Middle East has become so hostile and disdainful. So do we see ourselves as part of it, or not? In particular, it is clear to anyone paying attention, that Palestinians have preserved much of the material culture and traditions of ancient Jews. What kind of Jewish revival in our ancient land is this, when we come to see Palestinians as inferior and repulsive – which is what, unfortunately, Israeli kids are indoctrinated into nowadays? This mindset, which after some lull in the 1990’s has re-emerged with a vengeance, is directly related to the damages we have inflicted upon the country’s natural and cultural scenery, most recently with the destruction of thousands and thousands of olive trees.

Similarly, all answers will share the same flaws we pointed out here, which boil down to this: Israel is not the same country anymore. It is not the same country I grew up in, and it is not the country you happened to visit 10 years ago. We now know that it had never quite lived up to its image, but earlier on one could argue that Israel was still in formation, that the threats were objectively more massive (e.g. the Egyptian army backed by the USSR’s power, etc.). Now the excuses have become too lame (and/or racist) to be taken seriously.

Keep in mind: we’re not discussing here who’s worse, Israel or “the Arabs”. We are discussing whether life in Israel might have become too ugly to be worth it. Blaming “the Arabs” doesn’t help; in fact, as I just showed, it makes matters worse.

Still, perhaps the strongest and irrefutable answer to the question “Why live here?” is simply “This is Home.” This is always true for any country in which one happens to grow up in. I, too, had an extremely strong sense of home in Israel until the late 1990’s and even until year 2000, and didn’t even dream of spending years on end outside the country; of raising my kids anywhere else.

And then, as the second Intifada broke out, at the most basic personal level I just could not reconcile myself with the reaction of most of my fellow Israeli Jews, and with the events that had transpired. And something in my sense of home just broke, within about 1.5 years it was all but gone. It wasn’t any fear for personal safety; our family life was very safe from terror attacks. It was the feeling that your home has become this strange place you cannot recognize anymore.

This is really hard to explain if you haven’t experienced something like this yourself. It might take a whole book to explain it. But I think this fraying of the sense of home is something that has happened to many people in many countries. It’s part of human nature and human heritage. I think it’s reversible, and in my case the sense of home had seemed to mend itself gradually at times. However, it’s really hard to bring it back completely, when the same national condition that has damaged it in the first place is only getting worse.

Our article nails down the observation that once life somewhere – anywhere – deteriorates beyond a certain stage, sooner or later many people will stop calling it home. The deterioration does not have to be absolute; it can be relative to somewhere else people feel they are able to go to. It so happens, we Jews are fortunate and blessed by the suffering and hard work of our ancestors, that nowadays most Jews including Israeli Jews have many options.

But now we stop talking about personal migration decisions, turn the entire argument on its head and spear the governing consensus with it:

The immediate conclusion from all this seems depressing: those who promise us eternal anxiety and hostility with the hundreds of millions of our neighbors in the Middle East – also guarantee that there will be no essential justification for life in Israel, except for inertia. But this conclusion relies upon acceptance of this governing “truth”, that Israel really has “no choice.”

Whoever remembers some of our history, knows that Israel’s wars have mostly been wars of choice. PM Golda Meir’s disdain towards Sadaat’s peace initiatives cost us the gratuitous death of thousands in 1973. In 1982, PM Menachem Begin openly declared the invasion of Lebanon to be a “yes-choice war”. The same goes for the various wars and operations of the past decade, all of them carried out against small and irregular forces while inflicting catastrophic harm upon civilians. These operations surely were not the only options available to Israel’s governments.

As she warned us in advance about the self-fulfilling war prophecies inherent to present-day Israeli discourse, Hannah Arendt had already written in 1948:

The ‘victorious’ Jews will be surrounded by a completely hostile Arab population, closed behind always-threatened borders, consumed by physical self-defense to a degree that will overshadow all other activities and interests.

The only way to break out of this vicious cycle, is to engage in a determined struggle against the “no-choice” brainwash, and the endless parade of “yes-choice” military operations.

The Jews of Israel must decide at last, whether we prefer land (“Sharm-El-Sheikh without peace is better than peace without Sharm-El-Sheikh”), forcible control (“under any agreement, Israeli will retain a presence around the borders of the Palestinian state”), and eternal conflict (“There is no partner”) – over human life.

Only the second option, as the Torah says “and choose Life”, justifies life in this country and not overseas.

The 3 quotes in the last passage are:

1. Security Minister Moshe Dayan explaining in 1968 why there’s no need to negotiate with the Egyptians, rather it’s better to hold on to Sinai.
2. PM Bibi in early 2010, explaining his vision for Palestinian statehood – which, rather than being “extreme” in the Israeli spectrum, reflect pretty well the security-establishment consensus.
3. PM Ehud Barak’s infamous (and dishonest) summary of the failure of the Camp David talks in fall 2000, as given in a live speech to the nation – a single phrase that destroyed the Oslo process, destroyed the Israeli left-of-center camp, and the destroyed the future of Barak’s own political party.

Let me reiterate in closing: the article is highly critical of Israeli policies and of what life in Israel has become. But the fault is not with the messenger. Rather it is the negative message upon which the Israeli Establishment bases its power, that is undermining the very essence of what Israel is supposed to be about. Our message is actually positive: urging Israelis to see beyond the cheap “no-choice” lies, that there is actually a way out of this trap.

Even more strongly: in a sense, there really is no choice. There is no other option for healing our nation and its relationship with its region, except by uprooting once and for all the deadly life of “we have no choice but to keep on fighting”. Just like the Biblical quote in our last sentence, taken from Moses’ farewell message to the nation. The choice is yours. You can choose to live ignominiously, ruled by politicians who manipulate your fears. But this choice is equivalent to a death spiral.

The only way out, as a nation, is to overcome fear and choose life.

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Dear All,

I realize that you have had a number of messages today, and therefore won’t overburden you with this one.  As such, only 4 items, two of them brief. 

The first item reveals a fascistic bill.  If it becomes a law than yours truly can expect to be among the very fine number of offenders.  Maybe the government will strip the citizenship of Israeli Jews who censure Israel’s policies.  That’s not part of the bill, yet, but not unlikely will come.  I suppose eventually any Israeli who censures Israeli policies will lose his/her citizenship.  One fascistic law calls for another!

The 2nd item is Gisha’s brief response to what Israel allows into Gaza. 

The 3rd item is Amira Hass’s analysis of how the boats are helping Israel achieve its goal with Gaza.  I have long pointed out that Gaza is a sore thumb for Israel.  It, along with the West Bank,  is part and parcel of Palestine.  But now Israel sits in between.  Various suggestions have been made in the past of how to allow freedom of movement between the West Bank and Gaza, but to no avail.  Israel does not want Gazans running about freely, apparently. 

Hass reveals the true aims of the government, and the way in which the flotilla and other acts by the Free Gaza movement actually help Israel’s plans, contrary to the intentions of the people.

The final item is a longish depiction of events that fateful night aboard a smaller ship, and after, until being deported.



1. Ynet Wednesday, June 09, 2010

   MKs offer response to PA boycott

Knesset members submit bill that would see money owed to Palestinians handed over to Israelis hurt by settlement boycott,7340,L-3902932,00.html

Amnon Meranda

Will Palestinian soon pay price for boycott? A new bill submitted by 25 Knesset members Wednesday would see money slated for transfer to the Palestinian Authority used to compensate Israelis hurt by the PA’s settlement boycott. 

The bill was initiated by the Land of Israel lobby in the Knesset and was endorsed by members of various factions, including Kadima party whip Dalia Itzik and Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tsachi Hanegbi. 

According to the bill, Israeli citizens must not initiate, encourage, or aid a boycott against the State of Israel. Anyone who violates the order will be forced to pay compensation to those undermined by the embargo. 

As to individuals who are not citizens or residents of Israel, their right to enter the country will be deprived for at least 10 years should they be involved in a boycott. Another measure would ban foreign entities or anyone on their behalf from engaging in any actions using Israeli bank accounts, Israeli stocks, or Israeli land.

The bill’s initiators say the move aims to “protect the State of Israel in general and its citizens in particular against academic, economic, and other boycotts.”

Addressing the Palestinian boycott, MK Itzik said: “The Palestinians are causing harm with this attitude…issues of this type should be resolve at the negotiating table.”


2. News Release – For immediate release – Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Pyrrhic Victory of Jam and Halva

Gisha Response to New Food Items being Permitted into Gaza

On Monday, Israel permitted jam, halva, and shaving razors to enter Gaza, and it has said that it is willing to allow additional foods such as coriander, cardamom, and cookies into Gaza, after banning them for three years.

Gisha is pleased to learn that coriander no longer presents a threat to Israeli security.

However, Israel continues to prevent the transfer of purely civilian goods, such as fabrics, fishing rods, and food wrappers, as part of what it calls “economic warfare” aimed at crippling Gaza’s economy. In doing so, it denies 1.5 million human beings the right to engage in productive, dignified work.

It is not enough to permit Gaza residents to purchase Israeli-made cookies. Israel should stop banning raw materials such as industrial margarine and glucose, so that Gaza residents can produce their own cookies and restart the economy that has been paralyzed for three years.

International law requires Israel to allow the free passage of goods and people into and out of the Gaza Strip, subject only to individual security checks.

Additional details about the Israeli restrictions on goods coming into Gaza are available in a position paper by Gisha, titled: Restrictions on the transfer of goods to Gaza: Obstruction and obfuscation and in Gisha’s Frequently Asked Questions on the closure.

A list of permitted and forbidden goods is available on Gisha’s website


3.  Haaretz Wed, June 09, 2010

Not by cement alone

The flotilla, like its predecessors and the ones still to come, serves the Israeli goal, which is to complete the process of separating the Gaza Strip from the West Bank.

By Amira Hass

The achievement of the failed flotilla to Gaza – mainly, it must be conceded, by its dead – is that the demand is being heard from everywhere that Israel halt its policy of siege. The government of Israel was not willing to listen to the desperate supplications of John Ging, the head of UNRWA in Gaza. Now it must heed French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

But unknowingly, this flotilla, like its predecessors and the ones still to come, serves the Israeli goal, which is to complete the process of separating the Gaza Strip from the West Bank. The process, it will be said here for the millionth time, started in 1991 and not after the rise of Hamas rule. It’s purpose was to thwart the two-state solution, which the world understood at that time as based on all of Gaza and the West Bank, and the link between them.

Since the method of sailing to Gaza started about two years ago, none of its initiators purported to meet the need for this or that product. Israel is attempting by signs and wonders to prove there is no hunger in Gaza. The initiators are actually thinking about hunger of a different kind: a very human hunger for a direct link to the world, to freedom of movement of people, not just goods. The seaborne method was later switched to overland breaches to the Strip via Rafah, to Egypt’s displeasure and Israel’s joy.

Israel brought the closure to grotesque and petty proportions, attracting attention with its prohibition on macaroni and permission for cinnamon, the counting of calories and delaying cement even for a sewage treatment plant. Israel expanded the closure to the extent of prohibiting Gazans from working, creating, manufacturing and earning a living, with the declared goal of bringing down Hamas. But it achieved the opposite.

That rule only grew stronger, proving its resourcefulness, its ability to suppress internal opposition and engender support by international activists who are ideologically opposed to its methods and philosophy. The siege strengthened Hamas to such an extent that Palestinian conspiracy theorists are convinced this was Israel’s intention from the outset.

Most Israelis, who have given up on real information, find it difficult to absorb that some people in the world are shocked at the existence of a huge prison whose warden is the Jewish state. But those who are shocked have become partners in the pressure campaign – supported, if not instigated by Hamas – against Egypt to unilaterally open the Rafah crossing, as if it is the occupier and not Israel.

And what serves the goal of separating Gaza from the West Bank better than forgetting the sealed the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel, and focusing on Rafah and cement? Unintentionally, the runners of the maritime and media blockade focused attention on aspects that do not undermine the essence of Israel’s closure of Gaza. And that essence is denying the right and thwarting the will of Gazans to be an active, permanent and natural part of Palestinian society.

Long before Israel prohibited the entry of cement into the Strip, it prohibited Gazans from studying in the West Bank. While it still permitted guavas to be exported from Khan Yunis to Jordan, it forbade Gazans to enter the West Bank even via the Allenby Bridge or to meet relatives and friends. Step by step, Israel developed draconian restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement, until it declared every Gazan in the West Bank, now and especially in the future, an illegal alien and an infiltrator.

These are the essential prohibitions that must be breached. These are the prohibitions about whose existence Erdogan and U.S. President Barack Obama must be taught, and their abolition demanded.

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 Amira Hass


4..  Herald Scotland Tuesday, June 08, 2010 [forwarded by the site]

Scottish campaigner Theresa McDermott speaks exclusively to David Pratt and reveals what she witnessed when Israeli commandos stormed the flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza last week.

I was on Challenger 1, a 25-metre motor yacht that was the smallest in the flotilla. On board were 10 women and five men, among them a retired female US military colonel, two Australian journalists, four crew and the captain, Irishman Denis Healy. Our rendezvous point with the other ships was about a quarter of the way between Cyprus and Gaza.

As night fell the ships pulled closer together around the Mavi Marmara, the largest of the ships in the Free Gaza flotilla. During the night we noticed four big ships, two on either side of our group. One of the guys on our boat who had worked for the coastguard back in Ireland identified one of them as an Israeli frigate.

Just after midnight on Sunday the Israelis radioed the Marmara, which in turn contacted us, warning the flotilla would not be allowed to proceed. It was around four o’ clock on Monday morning, while early morning Muslim prayers were underway on the Marmara, that the Israeli boats and commandos arrived.

They walked up to the man co-ordinating facilities for journalists, put a gun to his head and shot him dead at point-blank range Obviously they had timed that raid to coincide with the prayers. To starboard we saw a row of lights appearing on the water as a group of small Israeli boats approached, while on the port side there were others, and we realised we were being surrounded. The fast inflatable Zodiacs with the commandos cut right through the flotilla, trying to separate us.

We were only a hundred yard off the Marmara, so really close, enough to see what was going on. The helicopter came across a few minutes after the Zodiacs.

The Israeli commandos were finding it hard to board, with those on the Marmara using fire hoses to stop them. As soon as the Zodiacs got close enough they fired smoke and percussion bombs.

Right from the beginning these weapons caused injuries. I’m assuming that at this point the Israelis were still using rubber bullets, but they definitely started firing live ammunition when the helicopter came in on its second attempt to drop off more soldiers.

It was all very loud, with people running around on the Marmara, which was shining its lights onto the helicopter. The crew even tried turning the fire hose on it but the downwash from the helicopters soaked everyone. I was told later by those on board the Marmara that the first two soldiers who abseiled down from the helicopter were overpowered and taken and searched by some of the Turkish activists.

On the commandos they found plasticised detailed maps of the layout of every boat and pictures of people on board including MPs, bishops and other VIPs. Maybe these were the people the Israelis were trying to avoid harming. I was told there were those on board who really wanted to have a go at the Israeli soldiers who were being detained, but were held back by others.

When the helicopter returned more commandos came down and that’s when the live firing started, and some on board the Marmara told me that bullets were definitely fired from the helicopter. I was on the flydeck of the Challenger on watch along with the captain and two Australian journalists, and it was maybe fifteen minutes after they boarded the Marmara that they came for us.

The captain had opened up the throttle to try and put as much distance between us and the Marmara when we saw that things were getting heavy on its deck, but the Zodiacs came up alongside us and fired more smoke and percussion bombs.

Our only resistance was to stand by the rail of the boat with our hands out, so they could see clearly we had no weapons, and try to block them from coming on board. We had no intention of fighting back.

One of the bombs hit the face of a Belgian woman, bursting her nose before exploding on the boat. She was in a bad way and started bleeding heavily.

At least 20 soldiers came on board and each had a number on the shoulder of his uniform. In charge was number 20, while a lower rank had the number one on his shoulder. They were all wearing ski masks and had on body armour and were fully armed and very aggressive. On seeing the female journalist on board, they Tasered her. I saw the electrical discharge shoot up her arm and she collapsed, vomiting, on the deck.

At least three of the soldiers had Australian accents.

Two of the women on board, Huweida Arraf, a Palestinian with joint US nationality, and a Dutch woman, Anna, who tried to block the stairs to the deck, were thrown to the ground, their hands cuffed with plastic ties that cut into their wrists and their faces pushed on to the deck that was full of broken glass.

They were also blindfolded and hooded. We shouted at them: “Are you proud of this, is this what your army teaches you, beating up women?”

At one point when I was shouting and wouldn’t sit down and trying to get to the girls they were beating, one soldier cocked his automatic pistol and put the gun to my head and said he would shoot me if I didn’t do as I was told.

I didn’t have time to be scared but realised it was probably time to back off and give him space.

The level of aggression they showed was way over the top, with rubber bullets scattered everywhere. When bullets hit they seemed to release a sort of dust that glowed, perhaps so they could be picked up by the commandos’ night sights.

When they took us into port in Ashdod, we were paraded from the moment we arrived and jeered at by the large crowd there. All the time they filmed us, especially when they gave us food. They even tried to distribute some of the captain’s beer but we didn’t drink because we knew it was a propaganda thing. We were processed through Ashdod and doctors there examined us, but never really treated us. When some of us pointed out the levels of bruising they told us it was just mosquito bites. They then searched us and gave us a bit of paper to sign that would allow then to deport us as illegal immigrants, but we refused.

We hadn’t entered Israel of our own free will but were kidnapped in international waters. We were moved to a jail in Beersheva, a new prison block ­apparently called LA block. It was so new that there was still dust and plaster on the floor.

Here they continued filming us, and we eventually had our first food. I think the reason they put us here was because it was so isolated and there was no news for us to see about what had happened to those on board the Marmara and other ships. Later our embassy staff told us they had been kept waiting at the entrance since one o’clock that day having been refused access to us.

Separated throughout from the men, in the jail we began to get news from the other women of what had happened on the Marmara. Some of the stories were horrific. One Turkish woman had lost her husband. In our cell there was also an Indonesian woman whose husband was a Turkish journalist on board.

He had described how when the Israeli soldiers came to the press room on the half deck of the Marmara, they walked straight up to the Turkish man whose job it was to coordinate facilities for the journalists, put a gun to his head and shot the man dead at point-blank range.

Two people who worked in the medical area on the Marmara also said they had at least three bodies, who had been shot in the head in what looked like an execution style.

Another thing the Israelis did that was particularly nasty while we were in the Beersheva jail was to take a woman into a room and ask her to identify her husband from photos they had taken after he was killed. Before leaving the Marmara the crew had time to clean and prepare the man’s body for burial. She was able to say her good byes then with his body properly wrapped and with the eyes closed. But in the photos his body had evidently been left to bloat virtually beyond recognition in the sun. She collapsed on seeing these and had to be comforted by the other women.

They were also extremely aggressive during our deportation to Turkey. We were woken at 6.30am and loaded into high-security wagons, two or three crammed into a tiny cell on board the vehicles. Though the journey to the airport was only an hour-and-a-half we were kept in the daytime heat in these cramped compartments for a whole five hours. One of the women, an Australian, was pregnant and we kept shouting at the guards that she was with us and that we needed the toilet, but they kept us there.

At Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, we were jostled and jeered by huge numbers of soldiers who surrounded us, and I saw a number of the men beaten up by soldiers. One Irishman who refused deportation to Turkey, was hauled from his seat kicked and punched on the body by a large group of Israelis.

During the many hours we were forced to sit in the one spot there without moving, our consular staff were kept outside and never allowed access to any of us. At the airport too I saw many of the injured and wounded forced to make their own way to the planes the Turkish government had sent to fly us out. Unless they couldn’t physically walk, the wounded had to struggle unaided to the aircraft, some carrying drip and drainage bags and with bloody dressings that looked as thought they had not be changed that often.

Now all I have to do is draw up a list of all the things the Israelis took from me as I left with only the clothes I wore when we were arrested. Through our embassy I’ll try to get my possessions back.

If I’d had the chance I would have gone straight back and joined the crew on the Rachel Corrie, the next ship that was going to try and get into Gaza. The behaviour of the Israelis has only made us all the more determined to carry on helping with the Palestinian cause. If this is the level of random violence and humiliation internationals received, can you imagine what they do to the Palestinians?

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