Archive | June 17th, 2010

MONDOWEISS ONLINE NEWLETTER

NOVANEWS


‘J Street’ leader suggests that Israel’s behavior threatens security of Jews in U.S.

Posted: 17 Jun 2010

J Street founder Jeremy Ben-Ami had a conversation about criticizing Israel last night with Jeffrey Goldberg at New York’s Ethical Culture Society (which Goldberg quipped is the “Chabad House for atheists”). The conversation was most remarkable for the fears both these ardent Zionists expressed about what Israel’s becoming, and Palestine too. “The West Bank is developing apartheid-like qualities, I’m not disputing you,” Goldberg said.

But the journalist challenged Ben-Ami about presuming to judge Israel’s security interests, rather than letting “your cousin in Tel Aviv” and other Israelis make that judgment. Isn’t that a little “vicarious” of you, and couldn’t you be wrong? Ben-Ami:

“I think that there is a very serious impact for Jewish communites around the world by how Israel behaves and how it’s perceived, and I think …. I may be wrong… It is very possible that I’m wrong… But I also think if I’m right… that the route that we are on right now and the path that Israel is following will lead it to become more and more of a paraiah state, more and more isolated, more and more demonized… and I worry about the impact of that on the Jewish people around the world, I worry about the impact of the way in which the world perceives what Israel is doing on my children, my grandchildren, how we are all going to be perceived as Jewish people. So I do think we have a stake. I do think that our place in our community is impacted by the way that Israel as a state behaves.”

Hannah Arendt said something like this a long time ago, many Jewish critics of Israel have said it since.

Goldberg acknowledged that a conversation has begun in the U.S. we haven’t seen since May ’67, Jews expressing the fear that Israel is going to disappear. Can it survive the next 25 years? he asked Ben-Ami. I worry about ten years, Ben-Ami said. That by then it will be a “true pariah state, widely boycotted,” with many more Palestinians than Jews between the Jordan and the sea and– hold on to your hat– a worldwide call for one man one vote.

(This is a tic of Ben-Ami’s, to assign to some imaginary future an Israeli dystopia that is here right now. He does it so he can continue to be a part of the Israel lobby/have access, or because he is religious about Israel. But it is denial of the reality there right now.)

Lord, these people are intertwined. Goldberg couldn’t stop talking about what a great place Israel is for gay people and scientists, but he also was freaked out about the Palestinian majority and the call for democracy. An “existential” threat to Israel is “the demographic and democratic challenge that’s posed by the occupation of the West Bank and the continued entanglement with Gaza.” I need to parse that. The “democratic challenge” is an “existential threat.” Peter Beinart also said recently, I’m not a liberal when it comes to the rights of Palestinians in Israel. Understood. Where do I sign up!?

Goldberg was honest about his Jewish identity. He was in the Zionist youth movement in Long Island, with a Bolshevik fervor was intent on moving to Israel, but immigration is tough for anyone, and then he realized he didn’t like living in a place where no one says “Excuse me.” Tells you something, doesn’t it. He preached a very religious Jewish identity of adherence to the law, faith, love of the land, and tikkun olam, healing the world. And this kind of person, who served in the Israeli armed forces in the occupation, is America’s most reliable narrator on the conflict? I reflected later that I didn’t have time to study Jewish law and faith and tikkun olam because I spent my youth listening to Bob Marley records and reading Dostoyevsky books etc. A different kind of education. I didn’t know about Israel till Goldberg and friends decided to bring the challenge of democracy to Iraq, by force, in 2003. An existential threat, that was.

NYT op-ed page has run 0, count em zero, Palestinian authors since flotilla attack

Posted: 17 Jun 2010

Last night we asked if the New York Times has run any op-ed by a Palestinian in the last month. Alex Kane does the math, and says the answer is No.

Below is the rundown on the recent New York Times op-ed columns in their print edition concerning the Israeli flotilla raid.  The International Herald Tribune, which is owned by the NY Times company, has op-ed columns that are much more diverse and critical of Israel than the U.S. print edition.  Even Roger Cohen’s columns, which are critical to a point, haven’t appeared recently in the Times print edition.  It’s as if there’s a huge sign that hangs on the Times’ door saying, “No Palestinians allowed in American conversations about Israel-Palestine.”

6 Jews, including 3 Israelis, out of 8 columns.  And no Palestinian voices.

Chosen, but Not Special, by Michael Chabon:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/opinion/06chabon.html?scp=6&sq=israel%20flotilla&st=nyt

When Friends Fall Out, by Thomas Friedman:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/02/opinion/02friedman.html?scp=7&sq=israel%20flotilla&st=nyt

Saving Israel From Itself, by Nicholas Krisfof:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/opinion/03kristof.html?scp=10&sq=israel%20flotilla&st=nyt

Israel Without Cliches, by Tony Judt:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/10/opinion/10judt.html?scp=11&sq=israel%20flotilla&st=nyt

A Botched Raid, a Vital Embargo, by Daniel Gordis:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/opinion/03gordis.html?scp=17&sq=israel%20flotilla&st=nyt

An Assault, Cloaked in Peace, by Michael Oren:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/opinion/03oren.html?scp=23&sq=israel%20flotilla&st=nyt

Israeli Force, Adrift at Sea, by Amos Oz:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/02/opinion/02oz.html?scp=2&sq=Amos+Oz&st=nyt

Israel and Outremer, Ross Douthat:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/07/opinion/07douthat.html?scp=5&sq=Israel+&st=nyt

I remember the real reason I hate soccer– the power issues

Posted: 17 Jun 2010

As someone who will be glued to the TV for the next 3-1/2 weeks, and proudly knows very little about soccer, I remembered today what I hate most about the way the game is played. Yesterday South Africa was taken out of a match by a red card given to the goalie. Today a ref (is that what you call them?) gave a red card to Kaita, a leading player for Nigeria, in the 33rd minute or so, when Nigeria was up over Greece, 1-0. So much for the game. After that it was the worst game you’d ever seen in your life, Nigeria was down a man, and Greece controlled the ball and twice scored against a valiant goalie. Goalkeeper? I’m serious, folks, the officials have way too much power. Kaita struck out in anger against a Greek player during a scuffle at the sideline. OK, he was bad. But the whole team penalized in the way that it was? This is crazy. Yesterday South African fans left their game early once their goalie had been sent off. You FIFA people are authoritarian.

Pinkwashing

Posted: 17 Jun 2010

and other news from my digest, Palestine Today

Land theft and destruction/Ethnic cleansing
PLO: New Settlers Homes In Jerusalem Is A Blow To Peace Efforts 

Ramallah – PNN – Israel’s plans to construct  new settling homes in East Jerusalem, is a severe hit against the International and American  efforts to resume real Peace negotiations, the Palestine Liberation Organization stated on Thursday.  On Wednesday the District Planning Committee of the Jerusalem municipality in Israel approved 1600 new settlers’ homes in East Jerusalem. The new homes will be built in the Ramat Shlomo settlement in the east side of Jerusalem. This move comes while the U.S Envoy to the Region George Mitchell is visiting Israel and Palestine as part of his efforts to resume peace talks.


http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=8366

Settlers ‘building in West Bank despite freeze’

JERUSALEM — Israeli settlers are continuing to build in the occupied West Bank despite a partial moratorium on new projects that expires later this year, the Peace Now settlement watchdog said Thursday.  Authorities do not appear to have issued any new construction permits since the start of the year, but the group said it had documented dozens of instances in which settlers have begun building new structures in violation of the ban.


http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gJqdmansLUBwa02VQLaYhakFljKg

Fatah: Israel plans to separate West Bank from Gaza

Ramallah – Ma’an – Fatah said Israel aims at cutting off the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and “end the Palestinian national project,” a party spokesman said Wednesday.  Ahmad Assaf said the movement denounced all interim solutions “affecting the territorial integrity of an independent Palestinian state on the borders of 1967.”


http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=292571

PLO slams Jerusalem settlement expansion

Bethlehem – Ma’an – The PLO mission to the US denounced Israel’s approval of 1,600 new homes in an East Jerusalem settlement on Wednesday, a statement read, describing the move as “provocative.”  Israel gave the building plans the final green light on Tuesday, despite the move derailing indirect peace talks in March when it was announced during US Vice President Joe Biden.


http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=292588

Settlers storm Hebron homes, residents say

Hebron – Ma’an – Dozens of Israeli settlers living on the notorious Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron raided the homes of several Palestinian residents in the nearby Jabal Jales village at midnight and destroyed farmland, residents said Wednesday.  Shaker Az-Zaru At-Tamimi, 61, said similar raids are a daily occurrence. He appealed to international institutions and human rights groups to visit the Hebron district to monitor the increase in settler violence against Palestinians.


http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=292562


Masked Attack

On Saturday morning, 30 to 35 masked Israeli settlers stormed the village of At-Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills. Armed with metal clubs, slingshots, knives, and stones, the attackers targeted the house closest to the edge of the woods. International observers stationed in the village arrived in time to witness and document the final phases of the assault. Michael Carpenter investigated for Palestine Monitor.


http://www.palestinemonitor.org/spip/spip.php?article1453

“we want to be”…settlers, activists and soldiers do a dance in the south Hebron hills

Video from a last Saturday’s action in the South Hebron Hills. There are no English subtitles but the situation is quite clear. Soldiers remove shepherds from their farmlands, activists try to stop them and settlers attack Palestinians. The dance continues every day, every week.


http://josephdana.com/2010/06/we-want-to-be-settlers-activists-and-soldiers-do-a-dance-in-the-south-hebron-hills/


Activism/Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment
VIDEO: Stalemate in Gaza Resolution Debate Following 10 Hour Hearing

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Tuesday lasted until Wednesday, at last ending this morning at 12:03 AM. Hundreds of members of the public stood for hours in a City Hall corridor for the opportunity to speak for three minutes each

on a controversial — yet nonbinding and ultimately symbolic — resolution condemning Israel

for its role in the fatal May 31 raid on a flotilla of ships heading to Gaza.


http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2010/06/video_stalemate_in_gaza_resolu.php

Istanbul to erect monument for nine killed aboard Gaza-bound flotilla

ISTANBUL, June 16 (Xinhua) — Istanbul will erect a monument in Uskudar district to commemorate the nine people who were killed aboard the Gaza-bound aid ship Mavi Marmara, the semi-official Anatolian news agency reported on Wednesday.  The monument would be erected at the Besiktas Ferry Port and would be a prototype of the ship, said the report.


http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-06/16/c_13353410.htm


Al Manar Interview with Paul Larudee

We’ll Break Gaza Siege by Air; Revive Right of Return From Ben Gurion’s Airport

16/06/2010 Larudee says that plans have been set to break the siege of Gaza by air and announces a new undaunted strategy to press the right of return of Palestinians back to the forefront of events.  Paul Larudee is an American citizen whose visit to Jordan back in 1965 was his first close acquaintance – from a different angle – with what was happening in Palestine. He got engaged with the cause ever since and gradually learned the price that he, and his peers, would have to pay for defying Israel and defending the rights of the Palestinians.


http://www.almanar.com.lb/NewsSite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=142396&language=en

Eyewitness to the Israeli Assault on the Mavi Marmara, DAVE LINDORFF

Kevin Neish of Victoria, British Columbia, didn’t know he was a celebrity until he was about to board a flight from Istanbul to Ottawa. “This Arab woman wearing a beautiful outfit suddenly ran up to me crying, ‘It’s you! From Arab TV! You’re famous!’” he recalls with a laugh. “I didn’t know what she was talking about, but she told me, ‘I saw you flipping through the Israeli commando’s book! It’s being aired over and over!’”


http://www.counterpunch.com/lindorff06162010.html


Zionist logic: Support for Nasrallah equals ties to Hezbollah….Lebanese flotilla organizers found to have Hezbollah ties

Though businessman, journalist deny terror group behind sail, both discovered to support Nasrallah.


http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3906357,00.html

Aid Ship Sets Sail From Iran Bound For Gaza

One cargo ship full of humanitarian aid has departed from Iran bound for Gaza, with another ship planning to join it by the weekend. The Iranian flotilla, organized by the International Red Crescent Society and funded by private donations, follows an international aid convoy that was attacked by the Israeli navy on its way to Gaza two weeks ago, killing 9 aid workers.


http://www.imemc.org/article/58948

Campaigners plan new Gaza flotilla in July (AFP)

AFP – Pro-Palestinian groups plan to send another aid flotilla for Gaza next month, similar to the one involved in a deadly attack by Israeli commandos in May, an organiser said Wednesday.


http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100616/wl_mideast_afp/israelconflictgazablockadeflotillaeu

Irish Singer Concert In Israel Canceled 

Malak Behrouznami – PNN -Legendary songwriter, performer and peace activist, Tommy Sands scheduled performance at the “Festival Bloomsday Concert ” Sunday June 20 has been cancelled.  The appearance was canceled after Sands refused to be censored during his performance. Sands was asked by the organizers of the events, the Israeli Ireland Friendship League in association with the Municipality of Ramat Hasharon , to not perform “Peace on the Shores of Gaza,” the song he had written as the anthem for the MV Rachel Corrie that set sail from Ireland to Gaza. 


http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=8360&Itemid=1

TIAA-CREF: Divest from the occupation  Ask one of the largest financial services in the United States to divest from the Israeli occupation.
http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/campaigns/tiaa-cref-divest-occupation

Helem, Al-Qaws, ASWAT, and Palestinian Queers for BDS, “Arab Queers Say NO to Pinkwashing at the USSF”

We, the undersigned queer Arab organizations, are appalled by the US Social Forum’s decision to allow Stand with Us to utilize the event as a platform to pinkwash Israel’s crimes in the region. Stand with Us is cynically manipulating the struggle of queer people in the Middle East through its workshop entitled “LGBTQI Liberation in the Middle East”. Stand with Us is a self-declared Zionist propaganda organization which describes itself as “an international education organization that ensures that Israel’s side of the story is told in communities, campuses, libraries, the media and churches through brochures, speakers, conferences, missions to Israel, and thousands of pages of Internet resources”.


http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/ussf160610.html

June 15, 2010:  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: AMERICAN JEWS FOR A JUST PEACE TO CO-SPONSOR JEWISH BOAT TO GAZA

American Jews for a Just Peace (AJJP) has agreed to serve as the U.S. coordinator for the Jewish Boat to Gaza, its organizers have announced.  The boat, sponsored by a coalition of international Jewish organizations dedicated to peace with justice in Israel/Palestine, is scheduled to sail from an undisclosed location in the Mediterranean this July.   It will head toward Gaza in an effort to break the siege imposed by Israel in 2006.  The passengers will include Jews from Germany, the U.K., and the United States, including at least one survivor of the Nazi Holocaust.

US Jews gather for anti-Zionist assembly

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Over 200 American Jewish participants and political partners will meet to focus on efforts for divestment from Israel and boycott campaigns a the first national anti-Zionist Jewish Assembly on Saturday in Detroit, a statement read.  “We are anti-Zionist because Zionism established and maintains a Jewish-only homeland in the land of Palestine, resulting in the removal of the indigenous people of Palestine from their land and property,” said Sara Kershnar, an organizer of the assembly and a founder of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN). “Safety for Jews, Palestinians, and all people comes from having fair access to resources and political power, not through military aggression and apartheid.”


http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=292515

The Blinding of Emily Henochowicz – An Eye for an Eye, JOHNNY BARBER

It was another deliberate attack on an unarmed peace activist by the Israeli military. In and of itself this incident, an American student maimed by our main Middle East ally seems newsworthy. (Imagine for a minute that Hamas, Hizbullah, or Iran had maimed an American- the threats and condemnations would have been fierce and immediate.) Coming within 24 hours of the Freedom Flotilla attack it certainly should have been considered newsworthy. But it wasn’t.


http://www.counterpunch.org/barber06082010.html

End the Blockade of Gaza Posters Spring up in San Francisco
http://www.flickr.com/photos/47681186@N07/

Murder of Ziad al-Jilani
Report: Israel Police shot Palestinian instead of arresting him, Amira Hass

East Jerusalem man who ran over Border Police officers was reportedly shot twice in the face from close range while lying on the ground.  A motorist from East Jerusalem who ran over and wounded several Border Police officers Friday was shot twice in the face from close range while still lying on the ground, eyewitnesses said. Neighborhood witnesses said the fatal shots were fired once the officers no longer had reason to fear that their lives were in danger, and could have easily arrested the suspect.  Witnesses in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz told Haaretz that the motorist, Ziad Jilani, suddenly swerved his car and hit the group of officers walking further up the road. They said, however, that they believed the collision was an accident, and not committed intentionally as initially reported.


http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/report-israel-police-shot-palestinian-instead-of-arresting-him-1.296422

Detainees

Report: IOF troops detained 468 Palestinians in Al-Khalil in 2010

The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained 468 Palestinian citizens in Al-Khalil district since the start of 2010, a report by the Palestinian prisoner’s association said.


http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO%2bi1s7HnL3unukbV8Fsn%2fH1Lfj0h%2bC8JLk4Ob5HSDsa7HgRAiVamvnRA90ZGGsMZ%2fl8TXnyYMC4yrszAmN1nVes97MJNhSTK08Yf4nwCel4ffeHS4%3d

Siege/Human Rights/Humanitarian Issues/Restriction of Movement

  
Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 10- 16 June 2010
http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/CJUE-86HHH6?OpenDocument&RSS20=02-P

The GSS Must Cease Coercion of Palestinians Medical Students to Provide Information as a Condition for Granting them Permits to Practice in East Jerusalem Hospitals

(Haifa, Israel) On 13 June 2010, Adalah Attorney Haneen Naamnih, in cooperation with Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) and the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza, sent a letter to the Israeli Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense and the Attorney General demanding that they issue orders to the General Security Service (GSS or “Shabak”) to stop coercing Palestinian medical students studying at Al Quds University in Abu Dis and conditioning the granting of permits to them to enter East Jerusalem to practice in hospitals on collaborating with the Israeli security services.


http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/CJUE-86HFUR?OpenDocument

World Says Gaza Blockade Must Go, Mel Frykberg

RAMALLAH — Under intense international pressure Israel declared last week that it would ease its crippling blockade on Gaza by permitting an additional but limited number of daily items, including food, into the coastal enclave.  Following Israel’s deadly assault on the Free Gaza (FG) flotilla several weeks ago in international waters, during which nine activists were shot dead and dozens wounded, as the flotilla tried to deliver desperately needed humanitarian aid to the besieged strip, Israeli authorities came under enormous pressure to lift the blockade.


http://original.antiwar.com/frykberg/2010/06/16/world-says-gaza-blockade-must-go/

 

Lifting Gaza blockade linked with inter-Palestinian reconciliation: Fatah official

GAZA, June 16 (Xinhua) — A Gaza-based senior official in President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party said Wednesday that ending the three-year Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip is linked with reaching an inter-reconciliation treaty.  Zakareya al-Agha, member of Fatah central committee and Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) executive committee, told Xinhua in a special interview on the occasion of Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip by force for three years that “Lifting the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip is linked with reaching a real inter-Palestinian reconciliation.”


http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-06/17/c_13353470.htm

Israel to ‘liberalise’ Gaza embargo

Move to ease land blockade of Palestinian territory dismissed as “propaganda” by Hamas.


http://english.aljazeera.net//news/middleeast/2010/06/20106178232371674.html

Israel to ease Gaza blockade, but major restrictions remain in small print, Ian Black

Lifting of restrictions on some civilian goods not enough to constitute breakthrough many had hoped for after Freedom Flotilla raid.

Expectations that Israel would lift its blockade of Gaza were raised amid international outrage over the bloody interception of the “Freedom Flotilla” that set out to deliver aid to the Palestinian coastal territory. The reality so far looks rather different.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/17/israel-gaza-blockade-smallprint

Israeli ease of blockade not lasting solution for Gaza
JERUSALEM, June 17 (Xinhua) — Israel will in the near future lift some of the restrictions placed on the import of goods into the Gaza Strip. The decision was taken on Thursday by the country’ s security cabinet, comprising senior government ministers.  The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a brief statement to the media immediately after the meeting, which lasted for two days, but government spokespeople would not detail the measures to be taken.  However, local analysts suggest the relaxation is not a permanent solution for the Gaza siege. They believe that a final-status deal is not possible before Hamas and Fatah reach reconciliation, hence a single organization representing the Palestinians.
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-06/17/c_13355633.htm

EU may send naval mission towards Gaza: Ashton (AFP)

AFP – The EU may send a naval mission towards Gaza to help control the transit of goods if Israel lifts its blockade of the Palestian territory, the bloc’s foreign affairs chief said Wednesday.


http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100616/wl_mideast_afp/israelconflictgazaeu

Gaza blockade hurts Christians too, says local Catholic priest

The pastor of the only Catholic church in the Gaza Strip says that the effect of an Israel blockade is to “undermine people’s lives.”  Father Manawel Mussallam said that the blockade—aimed to weaken the Hamas terrorists who control the Gaza Strip—has had a debilitating effect on innocent civilians, stunting trade and bringing the local economy to a virtual standstill. “There are no differences between Christians and Muslims because we all suffer the same way,” he said.


http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=6664

Flotilla Fallout/Developments
International lawmakers may probe Israeli decision to censure Arab MK

The Inter-Parliamentary Union is set to discuss recommendation to strip Balad MK Hanin Zuabi of privileges over Gaza flotilla participation.


http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/international-lawmakers-may-probe-israeli-decision-to-censure-arab-mk-1.296615?localLinksEnabled=false

Turkey freezes defense deals with Israel in wake of Gaza flotilla raid

According to Turkish paper, Turkey may not resend its ambassador to Israel and is considering downgrading ties to ‘charge d’affairs’ level.


http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/turkey-freezes-defense-deals-with-israel-in-wake-of-gaza-flotilla-raid-1.296733?localLinksEnabled=false

Turkey set to freeze ties with Israel: report (Reuters)

It also reported that military deals, including plane and tank modernisation and missile projects, worth $7.5 billion, were to be frozen.  Military cooperation, including joint exercises and pilot training, would also be halted, as would intelligence sharing, the Star said.  It said the sanctions against Israel would be introduced gradually.


http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100616/wl_nm/us_turkey_israel


Turkey to enhance relations with Arab countries

ISTANBUL, June 17 (Xinhua) — Turkey said on Thursday that it will enhance its relations with Arab countries, saying there was great potential in Turkish-Arab relations, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported. The statement was made by State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan at the International Arab Banking Summit 2010: From Crisis to Financial Stability.  The report quoted him as saying that “the background, all materials and everything else are ready. There is only a need for political will for Turkish-Arab relations.”


http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-06/17/c_13355349.htm

Turkey forms committee to probe Israeli raid on Gaza flotilla

Turkey Foreign Ministry announces probe of the IDF’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla last month; IHH tells European Parliament members it has assembled six ships for flotilla to sail next month.


http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/turkey-forms-committee-to-probe-israeli-raid-on-gaza-flotilla-1.296590?localLinksEnabled=false

Syria warns of backlash on Israel

Israel’s deadly assault on a ship carrying aid to Gaza increases the chances of a regional war, Syria’s president tells the BBC.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/-/2/hi/world/middle_east/10337041.stm

Source: Human Rights Watch:  Israel/Gaza: Weak Mandate Undermines Flotilla Inquiry

(Jerusalem) – The Israeli government has undermined the credibility of the panel appointed to investigate its military’s deadly interception of the “Gaza aid flotilla” by preventing it from questioning Israeli soldiers or compelling the military to provide evidence, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch reiterated its criticism of Israel’s blockade of Gaza, now entering its fourth year, as a form of collective punishment against the civilian population.


http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/RMOI-86GV5X?OpenDocument&RSS20=02-P

Israeli panel on Gaza raid says will work quickly (Reuters)

Reuters – Israel’s committee of inquiry into a deadly raid on a Gaza aid flotilla convened for the first time on Wednesday and said it hopes to finish its investigation as quickly as possible.


http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100616/wl_nm/us_israel_flotilla_committee


U.S. Jewish groups skip meet with Turkish officials

ADL National Director Abraham Foxman says ‘there comes a point at which it becomes useless to have a conversation.’


http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/u-s-jewish-groups-skip-meet-with-turkish-officials-1.296694?localLinksEnabled=false

Americans in the Service of Israel: US lawmakers blast ‘disgraceful’ Turkey over Iran, Israel (AFP)

“There will be a cost if Turkey stays on its present heading of growing closer to Iran and more antagonistic to the state of Israel,” warned Representative Mike Pence, the number three House Republican.  The group, firing an unusually harsh rhetorical broadside at a NATO ally, rebuked Turkey for backing the aid flotilla, criticizing Israel, and opposing US efforts to impose new sanctions on Tehran over its suspect nuclear program.  ..

.”They don’t deserve to be a part of the EU until they start behaving more like the European nations and a whole lot less like Iran,” she said.
http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100616/pl_afp/usturkeymideastisraelpoliticsiran


Democrats demand flotilla “terrorists” be denied entry into U.S.

A half-dozen elected Democrats called on the State Department to ban every flotilla participant from entering the United States.


http://www.salon.com/news/israel_flotilla_attack/index.html?story=/politics/war_room/2010/06/14/times_square_flotilla

Israel brands Turkish charity ‘terrorist organisation’: TV (AFP)

AFP – Israel considers the Turkish Muslim charity IHH involved in organising a flotilla of aid ships to Gaza last month as a “terrorist organisation,” public television said Wednesday.


http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100616/wl_mideast_afp/israelconflictgazaturkeycharity

Turkey to react harshly if Turkish companies face problems in Israel: official

ISTANBUL, June 16 (Xinhua) — Turkish Foreign Trade Minister Zafer Caglayan said here on Wednesday that Turkish government would react harshly to Israel if Turkish companies face any problem following the crisis in the two countries relationship. 


http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-06/16/c_13353404.htm


Political Developments
Time for Elections….  Abbas: Palestinian, U.S. positions “completely identical”

RAMALLAH, June 17 (Xinhua) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he feels the Palestinian National Authority ( PNA) and the U.S. administration’s positions are completely identical.  Abbas, who returned Wednesday to the West Bank after visiting five countries, including the United States, said “the most important thing in this tour is that the U.S. and Palestinian positions were completely identical.”


http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-06/17/c_13355291.htm

Mitchell returns to the Middle East (AFP)

AFP – US envoy George Mitchell headed back to the Middle East on Wednesday in a new bid to advance indirect peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, the State Department said.


http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100616/pl_afp/mideastdiplomacyus

Fatah: PA shuffle delayed by ‘political preoccupations’

Ramallah – Ma’an – An anticipated Palestinian Authority cabinet shuffle has been stalled due to ministerial differences, said the head of Fatah’s parliamentary bloc and Central Committee member Azzam Al-Ahmad on Wednesday.


http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=292497

Suspects in mosque desecration released

Police say investigation did not produce enough evidence to link yeshiva students to crime.


http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3906340,00.html


Racist Zionists
Top Palestinian journalist barred from Jerusalem due to ‘security considerations’

Defense Ministry needs to answer why Nasser Laham was denied access to the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem to obtain a visa for an official meeting with Obama.


http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/top-palestinian-journalist-barred-from-jerusalem-due-to-security-considerations-1.296670?localLinksEnabled=false

Israel’s Palestinian Minority Thrown into a Maelstrom, Jonathan Cook

The first reports of Israel’s May 31 commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla surfaced among the country’s 1.4 million Palestinian citizens alongside rumors that Sheikh Ra’id Salah, head of the radical northern wing of the Islamic Movement of Israel, had been shot dead on the lead ship, the Mavi Marmara. Salah is alive, but at the time his demise seemed confirmed when it emerged that large numbers of police had been drafted into northern Israel, where most of the Palestinian minority lives, in expectation of widespread violence.


http://www.merip.org/mero/mero061610.html

100,000 haredi demonstrators protest segregated education ruling

Bnei Brak demonstrators follow bus bringing Ashkenazi parents to jail for refusing to send their daughters to school with Sephardi girls.


http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/100-000-haredi-demonstrators-protest-segregated-education-ruling-1.296746?localLinksEnabled=false

Haredim hurl racial slurs at Ethiopian officers

Ultra-Orthodox protesting excavation works in Jaffa yell at police commander ‘you look like Eichmann’.


http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3906300,00.html

Police fear mass Haredi protests over segregated West Bank school

Jerusalem Police expect 20,000 protesters after the High Court of Justice on Tuesday threatened to jail defiant Ashkenazi parents who have refused to desegregate an ultra-Orthodox school in the settlement of Immanuel.


http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/police-fear-mass-haredi-protests-over-segregated-west-bank-school-1.296601?localLinksEnabled=false

Extortion in God’s name

Just look at what’s been happening here in recent days: Parents in Emanuel declare that they will not adhere to the High Court of Justice’s decision, thereby rebelling against an order issued by our top judicial authority in a democratic state. And what kind of noble values is this “rebellion” promoting? Genetically-based racism wrapped in a veneer of longwinded arguments.


http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3906274,00.html

Other News
Liar: Uri Brodsky to Polish court: I’m the wrong man

As Poland seeks to hand Israeli suspected in Dubai hit over to Germany, man’s lawyer insists he is merely businessman with same name as wanted Mossad agent.


http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3906504,00.html

Police recommend indicting Sharon brothers for fraud

Omri and Gilad Sharon, sons of former PM Ariel Sharon, allegedly brokered $3 million in bribes transferred to their father.


http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/police-recommend-indicting-sharon-brothers-for-fraud-1.296628?localLinksEnabled=false

US stops financing Egypt’s iron wall in Rafah area

The Israeli army radio reported that the US stopped financing the construction of the iron wall on the borders between Egypt and the Gaza Strip and summoned its engineers.


http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO%2bi1s7sZiXjF1Z2asRv3eT4rtD1PZ06k4XFe75RnUQeiShP8jb1UvdINxT0QmcQwX9cC7TKgiKBwdGZk1WID%2bLyDkEoGuj8a2t1e%2fWuojwkcZZZAY%3d

Egypt rights group protests France’s blocking Hamas TV (AFP)

AFP – An Egyptian human rights group condemned on Wednesday a decision by France to block broadcast by Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV for alleged “incitement to hatred.”


http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100616/wl_mideast_afp/mideastfrancehamasmediaeutelsategypt


Analysis/Opinion
A danger called constitution, Aluf Benn

A constitution that decides fundamental questions of national identity will cause internal divisions, especially in the current political climate, in which the right is trying to crush the Arab community’s power.


http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/a-danger-called-constitution-1.296458

Chuck Schumer, Helen Thomas, & the Media: A tale of two statements

Last Wednesday, New York State Democratic Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer addressed the Orthodox Union, one of the United States’ largest Orthodox Jewish organizations, saying, “Since the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas, while certainly there should be humanitarian aid and people not starving to death, to strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go, makes sense.”


http://globalcomment.com/2010/chuck-schumer-helen-thomas-and-the-media-a-tale-of-two-statements/

Former US President explains how Israel has put Palestinians in open air prisons on their land
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QosB-_WDPTY&feature=player_embedded


Israel and the Palestinians: The Irish connection

Recent attempts to deliver aid to Gaza by sea, in defiance of the Israeli blockade, revealed a strong Irish dimension. Vincent Dowd reports from Dublin on the connections between Ireland and the Palestinian cause.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/middle_east/10294057.stm


Gaza flotilla raid: Will it change Turkey’s regional role?

Anger with Israel over the Gaza flotilla raid, which ended in the deaths of nine Turkish activists, has illustrated the difficulty of Turkey’s effort to bridge East and West.


http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2010/0616/Gaza-flotilla-raid-Will-it-change-Turkey-s-regional-role


Credibility, once shredded, is impossible to piece together again, Paul Woodward

“The man who ordered the attack on the aid flotilla to Gaza, set up the inquiry, chose its members and determined its mandate, has announced its outcome even before it has started,” wrote Chris Doyle, noting Benjamin Netanyahu’s visible satisfaction, confident that he has mounted an effective response to international pressure.  If the only audience the Israeli prime minister needed to satisfy was made up by the likes of Jeremy Ben-Ami and Barack Obama, Netanyahu could indeed take satisfaction as he proves how easy it is to win unprincipled support.


http://mondoweiss.net/2010/06/credibility-once-shredded-is-impossible-to-piece-together-again.html

The NYT and the Flotilla Inquiry, ALISON WEIR

The New York Times, whose regional bureau chief has a son in the Israeli military, reports that Israel has just appointed a panel charged with investigating its attack on an aid flotilla that killed nine aid volunteers, including a 19-year-old American.  Isabel Kershner, who is an Israeli citizen and has refused to answer questions about her possible family ties to the Israeli military, writes the report.


http://www.counterpunch.org/weir06162010.html

MJ Rosenberg: Kick Turkey Out of NATO!

Both the Israeli government and its

cutouts her

e have been sticking it to Turkey lately. (See this

silliness

from the House today

and this

from Rep. Gary Ackerman, chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and, more relevantly, a powerful and devoted ally of the “pro-Israel” lobby.)  The bash-Turkey movement did not start with the flotilla incident. It began when Turkey spoke out against Israel’s bloody invasion of Gaza in 2009.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mj-rosenberg/kick-turkey-out-of-nato_b_615097.html

Turkey and Israel: The broken alliance

As long as their respective prime ministers are still in power, the unlikely Turkish-Israeli alliance is history. It would be a mistake to trace the entire crisis in relations to the deaths in the Free Gaza flotilla, however, as signs of a collapse in confidence between the countries have been evident for nearly two years. – Sami Moubayed


http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LF18Ak02.html

On Israel, Congress Still Obedient, MJ Rosenberg

Forget that “collective punishment” is illegal under international law.  Forget that Turkey is a NATO ally to whom we are

bound by treaty

(an armed attack on Turkey is considered an attack on the United States).  And definitely forget the admonition to have “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind….”  None of these come into play when the government of Israel requires the government of the United States to defend it from criticism (no matter what the provocation).  and, to be honest, the Obama administration behaves no differently in this regard than previous administrations.  It’s all “your wish is my command.”  That is the gist of a

Bloomberg News

story today called “Obama’s Policy Showing No Difference With Clinton-Bush.”


http://politicalcorrection.org/fpmatters/201006150004

‘a wretched reality that should appall anyone with an ounce of humanity’ (still Israel seeks to justify blockade), Ben White

Israel’s apologists in Britain, aware that they’re fighting a

losing

battle, haven’t got many options left when it comes to making excuses for apartheid. With renewed focus on the collective punishment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the hasbarists have opted for a familiar refrain: it’s all about self-defence.


http://mondoweiss.net/2010/06/a-wretched-reality-that-should-appal-anyone-with-an-ounce-of-humanity-still-israel-seeks-to-justify-blockade.html

Turkey Accepts the Challenge; Middle East is Changing, Ramzy Baroud

‘Even despots, gangsters and pirates have specific sensitiveness, (and) follow some specific morals.’  The claim was made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a recent speech, following the deadly commando raid on the humanitarian aid flotilla to Gaza on May 31. According to Erdogan, Israel doesn’t adhere to the code of conduct embraced even by the vilest of criminals.


http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=16066

Is Benjamin Netanyahu Rational?, Philip Giraldi

Is Benjamin Netanyahu rational? The question has to be asked because Netanyahu, the leader of a country that is paranoid about its own security, controls a secret nuclear arsenal and has the capability to bomb just about anybody.  Rational behavior in the context of a head of state is admittedly an elusive quality, but it generally means that occasional lying is okay, particularly if it is tenuously based on something that might be true.  Lying with a straight face or completely evading critical questions might even be considered a perk of office.  But when the chips are down and hard decisions have to be made, a head of government should at least behave like a mature adult employing some logical process.  That would mean weighing up the plusses and minuses of various actions, risks versus gains, and coming up with a response that serves the country’s interests with the least collateral damage possible.


http://original.antiwar.com/giraldi/2010/06/16/is-benjamin-netanyahu-rational/


Roseanne Barr Says Israel Must End Their Blockade and Occupation of Gaza

Well-known actress and comedian, Roseanne Barr, has been a consistent and persistent voice for decades against some of the acts committed by the state of Israel. Specifically, she has vigorously, unflinchingly, unequivocally, uncompromisingly, and courageously called upon Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.  With this latest incident of the flotilla raid by Israeli commandos, we sat down for a talk.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathleen-wells/roseanne-barr-says-israel_b_615482.html

Israel Investigating Itself, by Emad Hajjaj
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_ZxKAf8oOwtI/TBlbEiXUIeI/AAAAAAAAjmo/uZdsnKLysfE/s1600/mahjoob.bmp


Iraq
Wednesday: 8 Iraqis Killed, 39 Wounded

At least eight Iraqis were killed and 39 more were wounded in attacks mostly within Mosul and Baghdad. Activity between Turkish troops and PKK rebels is increasing on the border with Turkey where at least eight have died there and four more were wounded in today’s attacks.


http://original.antiwar.com/updates/2010/06/16/wednesday-8-iraqis-killed-39-wounded/


Iraq: Bomb kills Sunni militia leader near Baghdad

The leader of a government-backed Sunni militia was killed in a bombing west of Baghdad Wednesday, one in a series of attacks targeting Iraqi security forces and their allies.


http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/M/ML_IRAQ?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2010-06-16-04-20-27

Qaeda in Iraq claims deadly central bank raid (AFP)

AFP – Al-Qaeda has said it was behind a weekend raid on the Central Bank of Iraq involving suicide bombers disguised in military uniforms who killed 18 people, jihadist Internet forums reported.


http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/iraq/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100617/wl_mideast_afp/iraqunrestqaeda

Top cleric seen tipping Iraq’s political balance (AP)

AP – Iraqis hoping for a secular, nonsectarian government are worried about signs that the country’s most revered Shiite cleric has stepped into the postelection fray with moves that appear aligned with Iran’s own ambitions in Iraq.


http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/iraq/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100617/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iraq_clerics_and_politics

Lebanon
Lebanese leaders delay defence strategy talks (AFP)

AFP – Rival Lebanese politicians on Thursday postponed until August 19 talks on a national defence strategy that would incorporate the arms of Hezbollah, the government said.


http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mideast/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100617/wl_mideast_afp/lebanonpoliticshezbollahdialoguedefence

Hezbollah Urges Arabs to Act to Avoid Losing Jerusalem

16/06/2010 Hezbollah condemned on Wednesday the Israeli enemy’s new plan to build 1600 new units in the Ramat Shlomo settlement in occupied Jerusalem, saying it is a new step in the Zionist entity’s plan to destroy the city’s real identity.  The party said in a statement that Israel is making light of all international and Arab stands that have condemned the settlement plan when it was uncovered three months ago.


http://www.almanar.com.lb/NewsSite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=142473&language=en


UN official hopes long-term ceasefire between Lebanon, Israel

BEIRUT, June 16 (Xinhua) — United Nations special coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams said Wednesday that he hoped the current cessation of hostilities between Lebanon and Israel could be pushed to a long-term ceasefire, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s office said.  After the meeting with Hariri in downtown Beirut, Williams said that the main focus of their discussions was the implementation of UN resolution 1701.


http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-06/17/c_13353482.htm

Army gives women parity with men except in combat

BEIRUT: Gender discrimination in the workplace stubbornly haunts even the most progressive of societies.


http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=1&article_id=116071#axzz0r7YW6FKl

U.S. and other World News
Nothing Will Happen To Them: US troops charged in Afghan deaths

Five soldiers face possible death penalty over killings of three civilians in Kandahar.


http://english.aljazeera.net//news/asia/2010/06/201061701715503570.html

Democracy Now: With Rumored Manhunt for Wikileaks Founder and Arrest of Alleged Leaker of Video Showing Iraq Killings, Obama Admin Escalates Crackdown on Whistleblowers of Classified Information

Pentagon investigators are reportedly still searching for Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange, who helped release a classified US military video showing a US helicopter gunship indiscriminately firing on Iraqi civilians. The US military recently arrested Army Specialist Bradley Manning, who may have passed on the video to Wikileaks. Manning’s arrest and the hunt for Assange have put the spotlight on the Obama administration’s campaign against whistleblowers and leakers of classified information. We speak to Daniel Ellsberg, who’s leaking of the Pentagon Papers has made him perhaps the nation’s most famous whistleblower; Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a member of the Icelandic Parliament who has collaborated with Wikileaks and drafted a new Icelandic law protecting investigative journalists; and Glenn Greenwald, political and legal blogger for Salon.com.


http://www.democracynow.org/2010/6/17/wikileaks_whistleblowers


Democracy Now: Jeremy Scahill on Blackwater Owner Erik Prince’s Rumored Move to UAE and Obama Admin’s Expansion of Special Forces Operations Abroad

The Justice department has told a federal appeals court there was more than enough untainted evidence to justify a trial for the five Blackwater Worldwide guards involved in the 2007 Nissour Square massacre in Baghdad. In court papers seeking to reinstate criminal charges that were dismissed last year, the Justice department said the judge “unjustifiably drew the curtain on a meritorious prosecution.” This legal development comes amidst a report that Erik Prince, the owner and founder of the the notorious private security firm, could be planing a move to the United Arab Emirates, a country that has no extradition treaty with the United States. We speak to independent journalist Jeremy Scahill.


http://www.democracynow.org/2010/6/17/blackwater_special_ops

Internet ‘kill switch’ proposed for US

A new US Senate Bill would grant the President far-reaching emergency powers to seize control of, or even shut down, portions of the internet.


http://www.zdnet.com.au/internet-kill-switch-proposed-for-us-339303838.htm

Inside Story – The plight of the displaced

Last year saw the highest number of displaced people worldwide in decades according to the Global Trends report released by the United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). What is behind an apparent increase in the number of refugees? And how should the world act to address their plight?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLXLKsFBbXM&feature=youtube_gdata

U.S. announces unilateral Iran sanctions

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unveils a list of Iranian organizations and individuals to be targeted in an effort to isolate Iran from the international financial sector.   The Obama administration Wednesday announced unilateral sanctions against a number of Iranian organizations and individuals as it took its first steps to build on the international sanctions adopted last week by the United Nations Security Council.


http://feeds.latimes.com/%7Er/latimes/middleeast/%7E3/w09QpY7quME/la-fg-iran-sanctions-20100617,0,6329540.story


Twitterati report: Syria trip mixes work with play, Josh Rogin

The State Department’s

two leading Twitterati

, Special Advisor on Innovation

Alec J. Ross

@alecjross

and Policy Planning staffer

Jared Cohen

@jaredcohen

are in Syria this week

leading a delegation of tech companies hoping to, as the

Wall Street Journal

‘s Jay Solomon puts it, “woo President

Bashar al-Assad

away from his strategic alliance with Iran” with offers of networking equipment, computer software, and the like.


http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/06/16/twitterati_report_syria_trip_mixes_work_with_play

Terror suspect speaks about life under ‘house arrest’

A man judged to be a threat to national security has decided to break his strict bail conditions so he can speak out about the difficulty of his life under virtual house arrest.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/8743947.stm


Amnesty International:  Tunisia law aims to silence government critics

An amendment to the penal code is intended to target human rights activists who lobby foreign bodies such as the EU, to put pressure on the government over its human rights record.  A law passed by the Tunisian parliament this week is designed to silence government critics and human rights activists, Amnesty International has warned.


http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/tunisia-law-aims-silence-government-critics-2010-06-17

Muslim states seek UN action on West’s “islamophobia”

* Want investigation into West’s media on religion

* Say racism, xenophobia rife in Europe

* Part of majority group on U.N. rights council


http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LDE65F1XO.htm

Helen Thomas, and Amira Hass, on the right of return

Posted: 17 Jun 2010

The furor over Helen Thomas’ remarks reminded me of  this lecture  Amira Hass gave in New York two years ago, in which she eloquently described the intersection of Israel’s Law of Return and the Palestinian right of return.

In the talk Hass tells an anecdote about a French activist who asked her if she ever thought of “returning” to Sarajevo, the place her Holocaust survivor mother left before moving to Israel. She said it bothered her because, as a Jew born in Israel, she had never known another country.

But the French woman’s confusion reflects a tension inside Jewish life: between the desire for Jewish concrete return after the Holocaust–returning to communities in Europe that no longer existed–and the abstract Zionist “return” to a place most Jews had never been, Palestine. 

What was unfortunate about Helen Thomas’ comment is that, while many Israeli Jews are dual citizens, or otherwise have one foot in another country, many do not. It makes no sense to ask Amira Hass and Israelis like her to “go back” to a Europe that they do not know.

Palestinians have a very different experience of being refugees, and Hass says Palestinians sometimes transposed that experience onto the Jews. At first she couldn’t understand when Palestinians insisted “on giving me imagined roots into places and languages and landscapes that are totally foreign to me … that are not mine, that are fata morgana, that are a phantom.” All in Europe, of course. 

However, she notes in her talk, in Palestinian society, this question of belonging has a different meaning. When you ask a Palestinian of refugee lineage, “where are you from?” they will tell you the name of the exact village or city in Mandate Palestine from which their parents or grandparents were forced in 1947 or ‘48. 

So while many Jews wrestled with a dilemma between concrete and abstract return, for Palestinians, the right of return is wholly a concrete concept.

What Hass recognizes and I also believe is that Jewish “refugee-ness” is intimately bound up with the history (past and present) of Palestinian dispossession.

Darfur was a no-brainer for divestment by TIAA-CREF– why not the occupation?

Posted: 17 Jun 2010

Yesterday, Jewish Voice for Peace announced a major new divestment campaign aimed at convincing TIAA-CREF, the huge retirement fund that serves workers in the academic, cultural and medical fields, to divest from companies that serve the occupation of Palestine. JVP already has 250 signatures on its new petition, and it states that TIAA-CREF is invested in Caterpillar, Veolia, Elbit, and Motorola, all of which serve the occupation. Why TIAA-CREF? From JVP’s q-and-a:

1. TIAA-CREF is big, the biggest fund of its kind in the world. If we help them change their policies, this will be a substantial blow to the Occupation and a model for other socially responsible financial managers to emulate.
2. TIAA-CREF is near you. With 60 offices in the US and 15,000 client institutions in the academic, research, medical, cultural and nonprofit fields, chances are that wherever you may be in the country, you will find a network of TIAA-CREF participants close to you.
3. TIAA-CREF cares about socially responsible investment. In 2009, TIAA-CREF divested from four petrochemical companies that were profiting from Sudan’s oppression of the people and exploitation of the natural resources of Darfur. However, the company continues to invest in companies that reap profits from the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and violations of Palestinian rights. Until it divests, TIAA-CREF violates its own ethical
principles and is complicit in Israel’s breaches of international law and violations of human rights.

My question for J.J. Goldberg

Posted: 17 Jun 2010

During Tuesday night’s “Jewish perspectives on the BDS campaign” debate in New York, the audience had the opportunity to make comments or ask questions.  Esther Kaplan, the moderator of the debate and co-host of WBAI’s Beyond the Pale, called on me, and I had a question for the opponents of BDS.

Throughout the discussion, J.J. Goldberg, the columnist for the Forward, and Kathleen Peratis, a J Street board member, emphasized the need for solutions that would “work” to end the occupation. Goldberg made reference to the “peace process” and the 2003 Geneva Accord, seemingly saying that the way to settle the conflict was through dialogue and negotiations.

My question went something like this: The so-called “peace process” that you reference roughly started in 1991, with the Madrid Conference, and we’re now in the year 2010. That’s about 20 years. It appears that the “peace process” has failed and that negotiations have led to nowhere, and that was due to the Israeli refusal to accept a viable two-state solution. I said that both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are willing to accept a Palestinian state in only 22% of historic Palestine. Israel, it seems, wants it all.

So, if negotiations have failed, why do you oppose BDS as a tool to end the occupation? BDS is, in fact, slowly working; it hasn’t had a huge impact economically, but that’s not the whole point, as Hannah Mermelstein, a panelist in favor of BDS, pointed out. Mermelstein said that an important part of BDS was that it was an educational tool as well, and that it’s opening up the discourse on Israel/Palestine. The Israeli government is deeply worried about this growing movement, as evidenced by the hysterical reports coming out of the Reut Institute and the latest draconian bill in the Knesset that would criminalize BDS.

Goldberg responded to me by saying something like this (I don’t remember it word for word): The peace process really only went on for less than a decade, during the Oslo years. The negotiations didn’t fail because of the Israelis; no, it was the Second Intifada and the suicide bombings directed at Israeli civilians that killed the peace process. The intifada put the nail in the coffin of the Israeli Left, and now the Israeli public believes that there is no one to negotiate with.

I didn’t get a chance to respond directly, but if I did, I would have said something like this: Mr. Goldberg, it seems that you are omitting some very crucial facts about the Oslo years. During the 1990s, Israel relentlessly continued to colonize the West Bank and Gaza. The occupation, and all of its mechanisms of oppression, didn’t end; Israel just outsourced the responsibilities it wanted to throw off its shoulders to the Palestinian Authority, which, under the boot of Israel, was never a fully functioning government. The Oslo years were more about “normalizing” the occupation rather than ending it.

Yes, the Second Intifada was bloody, but let’s not forget that the Second Intifada began as a nonviolent popular uprising. It only turned violent after Israel brutally suppressed the uprising, firing 1.3 million bullets into the West Bank and Gaza Strip after Israeli security forces were directed to “fan the flames”, as Haaretz’s Akiva Eldar reported in 2004.

As John Dugard wrote in a 2008 U.N. report, the violence perpetrated against Israelis during the Second Intifada “must be understood as being a painful but inevitable consequence of colonialism, apartheid or occupation. History is replete with examples of military occupation that have been resisted by violence – acts of terror.”

I think the boat that Goldberg is on has sailed, and that the two-state solution is dead. Soon, Zionism and the idea of an ethnically exclusivist state that denies the rights of its indigenous inhabitants will run out of gas. The BDS movement is being fueled by the fire of history, and will end with justice for Palestinians.
 

The ‘Mavi Marmara’ and the ‘Rachel Corrie’ (and non-violent resistance)

Posted: 17 Jun 2010

This is in large part an amalgam of other pieces I’ve written on the topic. It’s a response to a debate over nonviolence at Mondoweiss.

In his contribution to the debate on the rights and wrongs of violent resistance to oppression, David Bromwich tells us that non-violent action is supposed to be “visible and exemplary.” In the case of Palestine, this chimes with the dominant Western narrative that the Palestinians would have achieved liberation long ago if only they had avoided mindless acts of terrorism. Much of the mainstream media goes a step further to suggest that the Palestinians are hindered by their culture and religion – which are inherently violent, hysterical and anti-Semitic – from winning their rights. If only they would grow up a little. If only they’d set a good example.

Leading liberal clown Bono has also asked where the Palestinian Gandhis are. The problem here, though, is not the absence of Gandhis but their lack of visibility – the visibility which Bromwich says is so important. For the first two decades after the original ethnic cleansing of 1947 and 48, almost all Palestinian resistance was non-violent. From 1967 until 1987 Palestinians resisted by organising tax strikes, peaceful demonstrations, petitions, sit-down protests on confiscated lands and in houses condemned to demolition. The First Intifada was almost entirely non-violent on the Palestinian side; the new tactic of throwing stones at tanks (which some liberals consider violent) was almost entirely symbolic. In every case, the Palestinians were met with fanatical violence. Midnight arrest, beatings, and torture were the lot of most. Many were shot. Nobel Peace Laureate Yitzhak Rabin ordered occupation troops to break the bones of the boys with stones. And despite all this sacrifice, Israeli Jews were not moved to recognise the injustice of occupation and dispossession, at least not enough to end it.

The American public didn’t see the non-violence because the Zionist-compliant media either didn’t report it or found ways of pretending that it was in fact violent. The first weeks of the Second Intifada were also non-violent on the Palestinian side. Israel responded by murdering tens of unarmed civilians daily, and the US media blamed the victims (to the extent of wondering why Palestinian mothers didn’t love their children enough to keep them in the house). These facts undercut Bromwich’s argument that “the power may desire the approval of other powers.” If the other powers which count are complicit in the oppression (because of the lobby, and Christian Zionist discourse, and racism, Islamophobia and orientalism), then the oppressive power can count on approval whatever the oppressed may do.

Which recent siege-busting ship was more visible, the Mavi Marmara or the Rachel Corrie? The unarmed activists on the Mavi Marmara quite correctly and lawfully resisted the piratical hijacking by Israeli forces in international waters. (Does anyone remember the heroes of United Airlines Flight 93?) On the Mavi Marmara, nine activists were murdered. Their sacrifice was not in vain – in the following days Israeli criminality was exposed as never before, and even the White House and Downing Street were enabled to make anti-siege noises.

The passengers on the Rachel Corrie, on the other hand, announced in advance that they would not resist. As a result, only keen observers noticed the ship at all. (Readers of Ha’aretz may remember a photograph of a middle-aged European lady smiling as a gallant stormtrooper helped her disembark in Ashdod.) Unwittingly, the ‘non-violent’ activists (whose commitment I salute) handed Israel ammunition for its propaganda – ‘when civilised, peaceful activists arrive we deal with them peacefully. When mad Islamist Turks attack us with sticks, we have no choice but to shoot them many times at close range in the back of the head.’

Bromwich and Matthew Taylor’s unfavourable comparison of Palestinian armed resistance with Gandhian non-violence in India is unfair and illogical for two more reasons – firstly because conditions in India were much more favourable to a successful campaign of non-violence than in Palestine, and secondly because Gandhi’s campaign was only one factor in achieving Indian independence, and certainly not the decisive factor.

In colonised India there were hundreds of thousands of Indians to each British officer, so the cause of independence had sheer numbers on its side as well as time. Many British people came to love Gandhi and to respect the moral courage of his non-violent strategy, but the British officials who counted could also see the tide of violent anti-imperialism rising behind him, a tide that would dominate if Gandhi’s method failed. It’s a lot easier to deal with the nice guy when you see the nasty guy rolling up his sleeves.

The single most important factor in ending British rule was Japanese militarism during World War Two. By the end of the war, British popular attitudes to Indian independence were quite irrelevant. Britain simply did not have the money or the manpower to rebuild its own society, let alone to reassert control over the subcontinent.

Nevertheless, Gandhi is lionised and the children of the West learn that India would still be a colony had it not been for the passive efforts of the nice man in the loincloth. This pernicious narrative is very useful for those guarding the status quo, including America’s first black president.

In one of the most contentious sections of his thoroughly contentious Cairo speech, President Obama declared:

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.”

It’s difficult to know where to start with this. Perhaps by registering just how insulting it is for the representative of the imperial killing machine – responsible directly and indirectly for well over a million deaths in the last decade, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Somalia – to lecture the dispossessed and massacred Palestinians on their occasional attempts to strike back. We can be sure that the sleeping children Obama is concerned with here are the Israeli children who live above the destroyed villages of Palestine, not the unsleeping, traumatised, anaemic children of Gaza, several hundred of whom were burnt and dismembered in the massacre of 2008/2009. Then it’s worth remarking how the erudition and intelligence shown in Obama’s pre-presidential book ‘Dreams from my Father’ were immediately crushed on his assumption of the presidency. How otherwise could his historical vision be so partial and simplistic? There was certainly a key non-violent aspect to the struggle for civil rights in the United States, but pretending that violence played no role in the process makes it necessary to ignore the American Civil War (half a million dead), Nat Turner, Malcolm X, the Black Panthers and rioting Chicago. When it became necessary for the American military to occupy American inner cities, it became necessary to grant African-Americans their rights.

Violence, or the threat of violence, was important in South Africa too, and certainly in Obama’s ancestral Kenya, and was the dominant anti-imperial strategy in Vietnam and Algeria. Max Ajl has already pointed out that violence ended the brutal occupation of South Lebanon. I challenge readers to think of any situation in which colonial or racist oppression has been vanquished by the application of non-violent action in isolation from other forms of struggle.

To end his piece, Bromwich quotes Gandhi’s idea (in 1938) that a non-violent civil disobedience campaign by German Jews could have defeated Nazi anti-Semitism. In retrospect, is it possible for any intelligent person to believe this? Of course, some people will force themselves to believe for religious reasons, although I suspect that most would rapidly change their minds if they saw their own child killed, their own home bombed. When such things happen to you and your family, the issues become somewhat more urgent.

My purpose here is not to discount the usefulness of non-violence in every instance. Indeed, there is a good tactical case to be made for non-violent resistance in Israel-Palestine given that the Palestinians are so comprehensively outgunned, and given that the only possible solution is for the two peoples to eventually live together in one democratic state. Norman Finkelstein has made a good argument (which I don’t fully agree with) for Gandhian action against the Wall, and the villagers of Bil’in and elsewhere are doing essential work to delegitimise the occupation in the eyes of the world. But to suggest that violent resistance to violence is wrong in principle is as wrongheaded as blaming a raped woman for scratching the eyes of her rapist. Even the mahatma knew that violent resistance is better than no resistance at all. This is what he said about Palestine specifically:

 Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French…What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct…If (the Jews) must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs…As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regard as an unacceptable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.”

This is a cross-post from Pulse media.

mind your own business

Posted: 17 Jun 2010

Jacob de Haan

Chaim Arlosorov

Lord Moyne

Folke Bernadotte

USS Liberty

Rachel Corrie

Tom Hurndall

Furkan Dogan

Tristan Anderson

Emily Henochowicz

Chomsky in Lebanon

Posted: 16 Jun 2010

After being denied entry to the West Bank by Israel, Noam Chomsky spent some time in Amman and then made his way to Lebanon. He took a tour of the south which coincided with the 10-year anniversary of the Israeli withdrawal from most of occupied Lebanon. A few days later I was one of the several hundred people to pack into the UNESCO center auditorium to see him speak.

I first saw Chomsky deliver a lecture as a college freshman eight years ago. It was only one or two years before that that I had discovered some of his work, and I remember being awed by the man. Here was someone who fearlessly articulated the kinds of thing we Arabs knew, and Americans were oblivious to. Whatever doubts I may have had about his credentials (I had none) were dispelled by the aggressive Zionist contingent protesting the event. Hundreds of us lined up outside Irvine Auditorium while a few dozen Hillelniks chanted and passed out propaganda leaflets. I was elated.

The lecture was everything I’d hoped for. Chomsky reviewed the imperial history of the world, highlighted the nefarious corporatization of politics and conquest and lambasted the venality of the ruling American aristocracy. He recalled his labor Zionist youth and imparted one razor bit of insight which reverberated in my mind then and now (I’m paraphrasing):

“Many people do not know that America has a heavily-armed permanent military base on the Mediterranean. It’s called Israel.”

I couldn’t believe he said it; this was 2002 (Do you remember what that was like – only one year after 9/11? The televised braying heads were orchestrating a WMD tour de fuck and George W. Bush was a demigod).

I was one of many who thronged the speaker after the lecture. I managed to get a handshake in, thanking him profusely and reverently for his courage. It’s embarrassing to recall, but what can I say? He inspired me.

That was eight years ago and I’ve become more critical of Chomsky in the intervening period. It was mostly his stance on the two-state ‘solution’ that shook my faith in the man’s unimpeachability (which is a good thing; no one is right all of the time). Later, I’d find the W&M Israel lobby analytical model more convincing than the imperial structuralist one offered by Chomsky. To be sure, they’re not mutually exclusive and probably both useful depending on your desired degree of analysis. We may even need a grand unified theory of imperial ambition and special interest engineering. But the disagreement was enough to demonstrate that Chomsky hadn’t pinned it completely.

So it was with guarded skepticism that I took my seat in the packed auditorium last week. We only waited for a few minutes before Chomsky walked down the aisle and to the stage. He passed close by and I was glad to see he looked just as healthy as he did years ago.

The lecture was in many ways unoriginal, rehashing the imperial history of the world and imperialism’s contemporary variations. The fact that nothing Chomsky said was revelatory is of course due to the fact that his ideas have mostly been adopted as self-evident. In a funny way, the measure of an individual’s ideological influence corresponds inversely to how obvious and unoriginal those ideas appear years later. Everyone knows that bodies in motion stay in motion (until Barack Obama blasts them with a drone strike), and everyone knows that the US acts to maintain hegemonic supremacy through legal and illegal means.

The most interesting part of the lecture was the Q&A. Someone asked about the one-state solution and Chomsky responded that the one-state solution was better than the two-state solution, but that the no-state solution was better than either. He went on to provocatively suggest that no one has proposed a doable one-state model yet. What may emerge is a phased one-state model. Two-states first, then with normalization and integration, maybe one-state. But there was no way to go from here and now to one-state. I got the distinct feeling that Chomsky hadn’t updated his analytical framework while I listened; he spoke of the two-state solution as though it was somehow still possible to implement.

For the record, I disagree with his assessment. I’m pretty confident that the world which witnessed radical Soviet and South African restructuring will also see a radical Palestine/Israel restructuring.

Chomsky only took ten questions, but I managed to get one in. My question was:

“Press reports recently suggested that you intended to meet with Salam Fayyad. What’s your opinion of the view that he’s an imperial stooge, with no electoral legitimacy?”

The speaker tastefully avoided answering the question (no prevaricating – he just didn’t answer), which is a type of answer. Chomsky inadvertently provided some insight into the tight spaces he’s trying to maneuver. I have no doubt that he knows that Salam Fayyad is an imperial stooge, but his allegiance to two states leaves him with no good way to honestly confront that reality. Salam Fayyad is Israel’s partner for peace, and any believer in the two-state model can’t but rally behind the Occupation’s Administrator in Chief.

It’s like Harvey Dent said to Batman: “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Noam Chomsky has now lived long enough to see himself loosely allied with the American imperial project in Palestine; Israel for the Jews, and Fayyadistan for the Hunched Henchmen.

Chomsky is no villain, but he can’t afford to be associated with them either. But despite how I feel, we owe Chomsky an immense debt of gratitude. His fifty years of activism and record of speaking truth to power cannot be disregarded or diminished, no matter what his position may be today.

See: www.mondoweiss.net

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A.LOEWENSTEIN ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS


Jews on boats

Posted: 16 Jun 2010

A transatlantic Jewish coalition is set to break the siege of Gaza in the coming months.

Torturing children, Israeli style

Posted: 16 Jun 2010

While some Israeli commentators argue against instituting a constitution– yes, people, Israel claims to be a modern democracy – the country’s soul is corrupted by a lack of care and brutal efficiency. Amira Hass in Haaretz:

M., a Haaretz reader from Zichron Yaakov, was disturbed by reports about the manner in which Palestinian children are arrested in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They are being detained held in the middle of the night, held in conditions of fear and pain before their interrogations, and then finally interrogated without the presence of their parents or a lawyer.

On March 14, M. wrote the following to attorney Yuri Gai-Ron, the head of the Israel Bar Association: “I am appealing to you to use all of your authority to intervene and put an end to the abusive behavior and violation of the law with regard to children and youths… Any decent citizen silent – and even more so the body you have headed over the past few years – cannot remain silent in the face of the frivolity with which children are kept in detention, interrogated and even condemned.”

On April 22, attorney Linda Shafir, the director general of the bar association, sent a letter to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and State Prosecutor Moshe Lador. Copies were also sent to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the commander of the Israel Defense Forces in the West Bank (whose name she did not mention ), and the Military Advocate General Avichai Mendelblit, as well as to M.

Among other things, Shafir wrote: “In her appeal, Ms. M. mentions that Palestinian children and youngsters from areas of the West Bank are detained under inappropriate circumstances and are held in inappropriate conditions.

It goes without saying that the Israel Bar Association considers the holding of detainees in appropriate conditions to be of supreme importance, from both the legal point of view and on the level of human rights.

I should be grateful if the appeal is transferred to all concerned parties, so that possible means of dealing with the situation are examined with a view to eradicating the phenomenon.”

Wikileaks scores a major win in Iceland

Posted: 16 Jun 2010

A small but significant step towards protecting information from prying individuals and governments:

Iceland has passed a sweeping reform of its media laws that supporters say will make the country an international haven for investigative journalism.

The new package of legislation was passed unanimously at 4am yesterday in one of the final sessions of the Icelandic parliament, the Althingi, before its summer break.

Created with the involvement of the whistleblowing website Wikileaks, it increases protection for anonymous sources, creates new protections from so-called “libel tourism” and makes it much harder to censor stories before they are published.

“It will be the strongest law of its kind anywhere,” said Birgitta Jonsdottir, MP for The Movement party and member of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, which first made the proposals. “We’re taking the best laws from around the world and putting them into one comprehensive package that will deal with the fact that information doesn’t have borders any more.”

Wikileaks has been involved in the drafting of the package of laws alongside Ms Jonsdottir from the beginning of the process more than a year ago. Its founder, Julian Assange, worked from Iceland on the organisation’s release of the incendiary video of an apparently unprovoked American helicopter attack in Iraq that left eighteen people dead, including two journalists.

Mr Assange did not respond to requests for comment via email yesterday. But in February, he wrote: “All over the world, the freedom to write about powerful groups is being smothered. Iceland could be the antidote to secrecy havens … it may become an island where openness is protected – a journalism haven.”

Because the package includes provisions that will stop the enforcement of overseas judgements that violate Icelandic laws, foreign news organisations are said to have expressed an interest in moving the publication of their investigative journalism to Iceland. According to Ms Jonsdottir, Germany’s Der Spiegel and America’s ABC News have discussed the possibility.

More immediately, it is hoped that the changes will rebuild the Icelandic public’s belief in the press. “Trust in the media was very high before the crash, but then it sank,” said Hoskuldur Kari Schram, a reporter with Stod 2 television in Reykjavik. “Maybe this will be a step in the right direction.”

Mr Schram added that it would have an immediate effect: “It will affect my relationship with sources right away. It will make my job a whole lot easier.”

But there was doubt overseas that the international ramifications would be as powerful as the law’s Icelandic proponents claim. “As an exercise in aspirations, it’s a bold and important endeavour,” said Professor Monroe Price, founder of the programme in comparative media law at Oxford University.

“But if it’s a significant issue like a national security question, then the charging jurisdiction will figure out ways of asserting its power.”

UK media organisations will watch developments closely. The British system has come under particular scrutiny recently, facing criticism that it is too easy to exercise censorship of stories and over libel provisions widely perceived as excessively favourable to complainants. Last year California enacted a law that allowed local courts to refuse to enforce British libel judgements.

According to Ms Jonsdottir, a poet and writer, the provocation of a larger global conversation on the subject is crucial to the success of the new legislation. “It’s going to have an impact but it’s also going to be symbolic,” she said.

Power cuts in Gaza are all in a day’s life

Posted: 16 Jun 2010

The latest edition of Gaza Gateway:

For the past several months, Gaza Gateway has reported on the declining amounts of industrial diesel, necessary for electricity generation, entering Gaza. These amounts fall far below the needs of Gaza residents and are even lower than the “minimal amount” set by Israel before the High Court, as part of its policy of supply restrictions to Gaza.

Last week, for example, the power station received just 1,200,000  liters of diesel – 35% of what is needed for operation at its current maximum capacity. The result is power outages of 8-12 hours per day, interfering with the operations of humanitarian infrastructure and ordinary life. In today’s post, we call attention to a new position paper by Gisha explaining the reasons for the decline and calling for accountability among the relevant parties, especially Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the Hamas regime.

How Obama betrayed the rights of a tortured man

Posted: 16 Jun 2010

A New York Times editorial of necessary clarity:

The Supreme Court’s refusal to consider the claims of Maher Arar, an innocent Canadian who was sent to Syria to be tortured in 2002, was a bitterly disappointing abdication of its duty to hold officials accountable for illegal acts. The Bush administration sent Mr. Arar to outsourced torment, but it was the Obama administration that urged this course of inaction.

In the ignoble history of President George W. Bush’s policies of torture and extraordinary rendition, few cases were as egregious as that of Mr. Arar, a software engineer. He was picked up at Kennedy International Airport by officials acting on incorrect information from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He was sent to Syria, to which the United States had assigned some of its violent interrogation, and was held for almost a year until everyone agreed he was not a terrorist and he was released.

The Bush White House never expressed regret about this horrific case. There was only then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s bland acknowledgement to a House committee in 2007 that it was not “handled as it should have been.” Since he took office, President Obama has refused to fully examine the excesses of his predecessor, but surely this case was a chance to show that those who countenanced torture must pay a price.

In Canada, the government conducted an investigation and found that Mr. Arar had been tortured because of its false information. The commissioner of the police resigned. Canada cleared Mr. Arar of all terror connections, formally apologized and paid him nearly $9.8 million. Mr. Arar had hoped to get a similar apology and damages from the United States government but was rebuffed by the court system.

Amazingly, Mr. Obama’s acting solicitor general, Neal Katyal, urged the Supreme Court not to take the case, arguing in part that the court should not investigate the communications between the United States and other countries because it might damage diplomatic relations and affect national security. It might even raise questions, Mr. Katyal wrote, about “the motives and sincerity of the United States officials who concluded that petitioner could be removed to Syria.”

The government and the courts should indeed raise those questions in hopes of preventing these practices from ever recurring. The Canadian police continue to investigate the matter, even the actions of American officials, though their counterparts here are not even trying.

The Supreme Court’s action was disgraceful, but it had stepped away twice before from cases of torture victims. There is no excuse for the Obama administration’s conduct. It should demonstrate some moral authority by helping Canada’s investigation, apologizing to Mr. Arar and writing him a check.

IAJV June newsletter

Posted: 16 Jun 2010

The following email was just sent to the Independent Australian Jewish Voices email list:

Dear friends,

The recent Gaza flotilla debacle has brought international attention to the blockade on Gaza by Israel. Media coverage has been intense and we have been pleased to see the growing dissent worldwide among Jews. The wider community is no longer ignoring the usual Jewish silence or apologetics as even the Sydney Morning Herald editorialised in early June that “it is time for Jews of the diaspora to question Israel’s actions”.

A few days later, IAJV co-founder Peter Slezak published a piece in the Sydney Morning Herald that stressed these issues facing Jews in particular, and called for a more critical, public Jewish position on Israeli behaviour and the 43 year-old occupation:.

In other news, IAJV co-sponsored film screenings in Sydney and Melbourne of the documentary ‘American Radical’ on Norman Finkelstein. These were highly successful events at which Antony Loewenstein and Peter Slezak spoke with other panellists to large audiences in both cities. In particular, there was a significant sense of the growing importance of communication and collaboration between Jews, Palestinians and the wider community.

Towards this end, we would like to draw your attention to the exemplary activities of Australian media producer Daz Chandler in the West Bank, bringing the human face of Palestinians and their plight to a wider audience. We stongly recommend support for her current fund-raising activities seeking to bring broadcast equipment to young people in the West Bank. See her work here:

We believe it is an important initiative and we hope that you may contribute generously to her current fund-raising campaign before it closes shortly. A brief indication of the work from the website:

Although this is a part of the world that features quite heavily in the Western media, the coverage rarely features the everyday individual, living that life. Radio Lajee brings a human face to the refugee community, creating a greater cross-cultural connection built on communication, shared interests and understanding.

The project provides this community with a new skill-set, broadcast quality equipment and most importantly, the opportunity to tell their stories their way to a Western audience.

Finally, the following are recent writings on the Middle East:

The Los Angeles Times report on life in Gaza.

The US-magazine Nation reports on the growing movement in the US towards boycotts, sanctions and divestment from Israel.

Gideon Levy in Haaretz on Israel’s growing international isolation after the Gaza flotilla debacle.

Best wishes,
Antony Loewenstein
Peter Slezak
Eran Asoulin
Jim Levy

Israeli Jews really just want “yes” people in the US

Posted: 16 Jun 2010

A curious and rather predictable poll (and why are Israeli Arabs seemingly never asked anything in such polls? They are 20% of Israel’s population but clearly don’t matter too much to most people).

On the one hand Israeli Jews want the world to butt out and on the other hand they want American Jews to pressure Barack Obama to lay off. When they stop taking American tax-payer’s money, then we’ll start to take this seriously:

Sixty-five percent of Jewish Israelis believe U.S. Jews should criticize the Obama administration’s policy toward Israel, according to a survey published in June that was conducted on behalf of the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem.

The fifth annual Survey of Contemporary Israeli Attitudes Toward World Jewry, conducted by Keevoon Research, surveyed 500 Jewish Israelis over the age of 18 between June 1 and 4. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.

Twelve percent of respondents said American Jews should support Obama’s current policy on Israel.

The survey also found that 46 percent of Jewish Israelis believe American Jews are reluctant to criticize the Obama administration’s Israeli policy due to fear of being accused of dual loyalty. Meanwhile, 36 percent said that type of accusation has no effect on them.

Meanwhile, 54 percent of Jewish Israelis believe that Jewish advocacy groups who work with foreign governments and call themselves “pro-Israel” should always support Israeli government policy.

Australian “green” company linked to Israel’s occupation in Palestine

Posted: 15 Jun 2010

My following article appears today on ABC Unleashed/The Drum:

My investigation has found a leading Australian electric car company is linked to an Israeli firm that operates in the illegally occupied Palestinian territories.

Better Place, advertised as “dedicated to zero emissions driving”, is part of a global venture capital firm based in California that has raised over $400 million to build charging stations for electric cars across the globe. Here is the company’s promo from 2009.

Better Place Australia – led by Evan Thornley, former Labor politician and co-founder of internet search engine Looksmart – is planning a national rollout of its services across Australia by late 2012.

Thornley told BusinessDaily in early 2010 that, “there’s hardly a government, car maker or capital market in the northern hemisphere who isn’t very deeply engaged in the opportunity with electric vehicles”.

But the green credentials of the company are threatened by revelations of the Israeli figures behind the organisation and its behaviour in occupied Palestinian territory.

Better Place Israel (BPI) is led by former general Moshe Kaplinsky, deputy chief of staff of Israel’s army during the 2006 Lebanon invasion and commander of the IDF in the West Bank during the second Intifada. Both military adventures led to serious allegations of human rights abuses including the dropping of cluster bombs on civilian areas across southern Lebanon.

Israel has never been held to account over the allegations.

The Electronic Intifada (EI) website first alerted readers in early May to the issues now circling around BPI and discovered the presence of charging stations along Israel’s controversial Route 443, some of which illegally deviates directly into Palestinian territory in the West Bank.

Today, even with an Israeli High Court ruling that demands equal access to the road for both Palestinians and Israelis, the road remains partly inaccessible to indigenous Palestinians in the area.

An EI reporter was told by BPI that the company was willing to install charging stations “anywhere…you want to live”, including the West Bank.

Some of Better Place’s supporters have an Australian connection.

I contacted Macquarie Capital, which has reportedly pledged to fund the construction of plug-in stations, and asked if they knew about BPI’s behaviour in the Middle East. A spokeswoman refused to discuss the role of Better Place Australia or answer any questions about its Israeli connection but said Macquarie is only a financial advisor to the company and has no relationship with the Israeli arm.

“We only have a local management relationship and cannot discuss negotiations or advice given to Better Place”, she said.

Local Better Place management is directly connected to BPI.

A key backer is Wolfensohn and Co, the investment firm run by former World Bank President, Middle East Quartet envoy and Australian-born, Jewish, American citizen James Wolfensohn.

The firm didn’t respond to my request for comment.

When I contacted Better Place Australia with a list of questions related to the company’s actions in the occupied territories I was referred to headquarters in Palo Alto and the Vice President of Communications, Joe Paluska.

 He avoided answering any questions about BPI’s attempts to integrate Israel’s miliary and political establishment towards a greenwashing agenda and told me that, “Better Place is a privately-held global company…with operations around the world including in Israel, Denmark, Australia, US, Canada, Japan, China, France, Germany and The Netherlands.”

When pushed on particular details about BPI’s presence in the West Bank, Paluska responded: “Each operating unit is broadly responsible for local deployment and local relations and reports to our global team here in Palo Alto.”

Paluska refused to answer the following questions:

– Does Better Place Australia do any work in the occupied territories and what is the company’s views about it?

– There are serious charges allegations against BPI’s chief executive Moshe Kaplinsky’s role in Israel’s Lebanon invasion in 2006 and invasion of the West Bank during the second Intifada….What is the company’s response and is it appropriate for a man such as Kaplinsky to be heading a group that aims to promote a greener future for the world?

– Evidence exists that finds Better Place charging stations in settlements on the West Bank and along Highway 443, a road that includes roughly 30 km that runs through the West Bank. What is the company’s response to these allegations?

– Does Better Place in Australia have a relationship with the Rudd government and are they aware of the allegations against the company’s activities in the West Bank?

– After the recent Rudd government decision to expel a Mossad agent from Australia, how does Better Place see Australia’s relationship with Israel?

Better Place Australia is not directly involved in the company’s Israeli operations but the firm is just the latest attempt to “normalise” Israeli behaviour. Wired magazine published a feature in 2008 about the organisation that notably avoided any serious examination of the company’s connection to the Israeli military establishment – President Shimon Peres is a big fan of BPI’s attempt to move away from the Western reliance on oil and repressive Arab states – and simply praised founder Shai Agassi and his “vision” for the future.

In May a number of leading scholars, including Noam Chomsky, protested the Boston Museum of Science co-sponsoring and hosting “Israeli Innovation Weekend” (IIW) which featured the Better Place initiative.

The statement read: “IIW is far from an innocent educational endeavour. It is part of a propaganda campaign by the State of Israel to present itself as a beacon of progress in a desert of backwardness and deflect attention from its atrocious human rights record and fundamentally discriminatory policies”.

Leading Israeli journalist and blogger Noam Sheizaf told me that BPI is very high profile in Israel, has been adopted by many politicians and is “always promoted as an example of Israel’s contribution to the world”.

Sheizaf said that the BPI project in the West Bank may not be “criminal…but what it teaches us is that large portions of Israel’s economy – more than we can imagine, and even more than the Palestinian boycott or other publicised acts show – is tied to the occupation and to colonisation.

“There is something hopelessly naive – if not pure false – about an attempt to separate ‘good’ Israel from ‘occupying’ Israel. Not every Israeli is as bad as the extreme settlers of Hebron, but the occupation is the Israeli national project, so before we celebrate inventions such as this green car, we should also think who benefits from it, and on whose expense.”

Colbert briefly skewers Oren

Posted: 15 Jun 2010

The Colbert Report covers the Gaza flotilla incident (with tongue firmly planted in its cheek) then interviews Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren. It’s gentle, to put it mildly, but it seems to me that Israel’s position is mocked:

We can crush your balls and get away with it

Posted: 15 Jun 2010

The seemingly never-ending outrage of America’s “war on terror”, with the complicity continuing under the Obama administration. Democracy Now! reports:

In a major setback for holding US officials accountable for rendition and torture, the Supreme Court has rejected Arar’s lawsuit against the US government. Arar was seized at New York’s Kennedy Airport in 2002 on a stopover from a vacation abroad. Instead of allowing him to return home to Canada, Arar was sent to his native Syria, where he was tortured and interrogated in a tiny underground cell for nearly a year.

Just after the Court’s decision was announced, Arar revealed a major new development: Canada’s federal law enforcement agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, is conducting a criminal investigation into US and Syrian officials for their role in Arar’s rendition and torture. We speak to Maher Arar.

See: www.antonyloewenstein.com

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ZIONIST HOLD ON MEDIA NARRATIVE

NOVANEWS

Abraham Greenhouse is founder of the Palestine Freedom Project (palestinefreedom.org), which specializes in studying and providing support for the work of grassroots Palestine solidarity activists worldwide.Nora Barrows-Friedman is an award-winning independent journalist, writing for The Electronic Intifada, Inter Press Service, Truthout and other outlets. She regularly reports from Palestine, where she also runs media workshops for youth in the Dheisheh refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.In the article below they do the best job to date (as far as I know) of rounding up the various allegations made by Israel to “explain” what happened on the flotilla boats, and the work by independent journalists to expose the lies, inconsistencies, and claims made by Israel that have no evidence to support them.

“Determined not to allow the Israeli government to continue dominating public discourse on the flotilla attack with its questionable version of events, independent journalists around the world analyzed and identified inconsistencies with the Israeli narrative. This work played a pivotal role in making a more complete and accurate picture of the events available to an English-speaking audience: the vast majority of English-language corporate media outlets, with the notable exception of Al-Jazeera English, simply restated Israeli claims and conducted little or no investigative work to ascertain their validity.”

Racheli Gai.

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11340.shtml
Abraham Greenhouse, Nora Barrows-Friedman: Independent journalists dismantling Israel’s hold on media narrative 
The Electronic Intifada, 15 June 2010

“The systematic attempt and very deliberate first priority for the Israeli soldiers as they came on the ships was to shut down the story, to confiscate all cameras, to shut down satellites, to smash the CCTV cameras that were on the Mavi Marmara, to make sure that nothing was going out.

They were hellbent on controlling the story,” commented Australian journalist Paul McGeough, one of the hundreds of activists and reporters who witnessed the deadly morning attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on 31 May (“Framing the Narrative: Israeli Commandos Seize Videotape and Equipment from Journalists After Deadly Raid,” Democracy Now, 9 June 2010). McGeough was one of at least 60 journalists aboard the flotilla who were detained and their footage confiscated.

Within hours of the Gaza-bound aid flotilla being intercepted and besieged in international waters by Israeli commandos, who killed at least nine — some at point-blank range — aboard the Mavi Marmara, news of the bloody attack had spread across the globe. Rage, condemnation and calls for an international investigation followed.

Meanwhile, Israel’s campaign to spin the attack, distort the facts and quell an outraged public was already in full swing. Concurrently, activists and skeptical journalists began deconstructing the official story and assembling evidence to uncover the truth behind the violent deaths of activists on a humanitarian mission to the besieged Gaza Strip.

From the time the Israeli military apparently jammed the flotilla’s communications, and for the next 48 hours as survivors were held incommunicado, their cameras and potentially incriminating footage seized, Israel’s account of the raid dominated international headlines.

Central to Israel’s media strategy was the rapid release of selected video and audio clips which, the government said, validated its claim that passengers had violently attempted to kill troops without provocation — thereby forcing the soldiers to use live fire in self-defense. However, the initially and most widely-distributed clips bore signs of heavy editing, including the obscuring or removal of time stamps.

Although the clips apparently depicted passengers aboard the Mavi Marmarahitting Israeli troops with poles and other objects, the context of the images was completely unclear. It was impossible to determine at what point during the assault the clips had been filmed, raising questions about exactly which party had been acting in self-defense.

Al-Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, among others, corroborated accounts by other flotilla passengers, including Israeli Knesset member Hanin Zoabi, that the Israeli commandos had allegedly started firing before commandos began rappelling to the deck of the ship (“MK Zoabi: Israel wanted highest number of fatalities,” YNet, 1 June 2010; “Kidnapped by Israel, forsaken by Britain,” Al-Jazeera, 6 June 2010).

These clips were quickly supplemented by footage put on YouTube, also heavily edited, which Israel said had been taken from the ship’s security cameras and from the journalists whose equipment had been seized (“Flotilla Rioters Prepare Rods, Slingshots, Broken Bottles and Metal Objects to Attack IDF Soldiers,” 2 June 2010). The Israeli military spokesperson’s office also distributed numerous still images allegedly documenting fighting on the deck.

After the commandeered flotilla ships were brought to the Israeli port of Ashdod and were unloaded, on 1 June the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) began distributing via the Flickr website photographs of objects it said were found aboard. Materials the MFA classified as “weapons”– thus supposedly supporting its claim that activists had planned to conduct a “lynching” of Israeli troops — were identifiable to the public as standard nautical equipment and kitchen utensils (“Weapons found on Mavi Marmara”).

In addition, the ships were inspected multiple times prior to setting sail for Gaza, both by Turkish customs authorities and by an independent security firm, and had been found at both points to contain no weapons, according to a Free Gaza Movement press release (“Did Israel deliberately murder civilians aboard Freedom Flotilla?,” 3 June 2010).

Participants also say that all passengers were subject to thorough security checks before boarding, regardless of where they embarked.

These photographs of “weapons” became the first flashpoint in the effort to analyze and expose inconsistencies in Israel’s claims. Shortly after the release of the images which appeared on the MFA’s official Flickr page on 1 June, commentators began calling attention to the fact that several of the images included digitally-encoded information indicating that they had been shot several years prior. The MFA responded to this by modifying the dates, and issuing a statement that one of its cameras had been incorrectly calibrated.

While this claim can be neither confirmed nor disproved, the gaffe exposed the fact that Israel’s rush to promote its version of events in the media was leading to significant mistakes and oversights. As surviving flotilla passengers began to be released and expelled following detention in Israel, the accounts they gave of events aboard the ships — and on the Mavi Marmara in particular — clearly diverged from the official Israeli narrative.

Journalists aboard the ship, some of whom had been able to broadcast via satellite for a limited time during the assault, told interviewers that they had been singled out for attack by Israeli troops.

“We had cameras round our necks and our press cards in our hands, but the soldiers kept aiming the lasers of their guns at our eyes in order to intimidate us,” Turkish journalist Yuecel Velioglu of the AA news agency told Reporters Without Borders (“As Turkish photographer is buried, other journalists aboard flotilla speak out,” 9 June 2010).

In addition, much of the footage released by Israel (after heavy editing) was taken from journalists aboard the ship after their equipment had been confiscated. The move was strongly denounced by Israel’s Foreign Press Association (FPA), which stated on 4 June: “the use of this material without permission from the relevant media organizations is a clear violation of journalistic ethics and unacceptable.”

Determined not to allow the Israeli government to continue dominating public discourse on the flotilla attack with its questionable version of events, independent journalists around the world analyzed and identified inconsistencies with the Israeli narrative.

This work played a pivotal role in making a more complete and accurate picture of the events available to an English-speaking audience: the vast majority of English-language corporate media outlets, with the notable exception of Al-Jazeera English, simply restated Israeli claims and conducted little or no investigative work to ascertain their validity.

Images and the elimination of context

Another photograph released by the Israeli military spokesperson’s office aroused additional controversy when it began appearing in news articles about the incident. The image, which featured an anonymous, bearded man holding a curved knife, was generally presented with a caption, also sourced from the Israeli military, claiming that the knife-wielder was an activist aboard the Mavi Marmara photographed after Israeli troops boarded the ship.

Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, immediately noticed clear inconsistencies with the context of the photo, casting its veracity into doubt. Abunimah pointed out on his blog that behind the man, natural light could be seen streaming in through a window — despite the fact that the raid was conducted during pre-dawn hours.

Additionally, the man was surrounded by photographers who seemed unusually calm for onlookers in the midst of a firefight (“Israeli propaganda photo in Haaretz of man with knife make no sense #FreedomFlotilla,” 31 May 2010). Finally, a few days after the image first appeared, the image was re-used in a video montage, published on YouTube under the newly-registered handle “gazaflotilliatruth”, but this time with less cropping.

In the new version of the image, the bearded man can be seen to be sitting down, not standing — again, an unusual physical position to display during a melee (“Gaza Flotillia – The Love Boat,” 2 June 2010).

Investigative journalist Max Blumenthal reports that the Israeli military-sourced caption — repeatedly used by media outlets such as the Israeli daily Haaretz — indicated that the bearded man was holding the knife after the commandos boarded the ship (“Nailed Again: IDF Description of Suspicious Photo It Distributed Is Retracted,” 8 June 2010).

Following his query to the Israeli military spokesman’s office, Haaretz “scrubbed its caption of the suspicious photo.” Blumenthal adds that Haaretz “did not mention the retraction, probably assuming no one would notice. The retraction raises disturbing questions about the level of coordination between the IDF [Israeli army] and the Israeli media.” Nor did they mention that the bearded man was Yemeni Minister of Parliament Mohammad al-Hazmi, who was displaying his ceremonial dagger — an essential part of traditional Yemeni dress — to “curious journalists and foreigners on the ship,” as Blumenthal points out, obviously well before the attack.

New accusations instantly dismantled

As the accounts of surviving passengers began receiving increased attention in the mainstream Western press, Israel retaliated with a series of increasingly dire accusations to discredit them. The serious nature these accusations makes it difficult to understand why the Israeli government would have waited so long to issue them.

As journalists began evaluating the new claims, they found Israel’s supporting evidence to be flimsy and periodically even nonexistent.

One such accusation, published in a 2 June MFA press release, was that 40 Mavi Marmara passengers had been identified as mercenaries in the employ of al-Qaeda (“Attackers of the IDF soldiers found to be Al Qaeda mercenaries,” 2 June 2010). Later that day, US State Department spokesperson Philip Crowley said that his office could not validate Israel’s story, and independent journalists on the ground in Tel Aviv promptly set out to investigate for themselves.

Blumenthal and his colleague Lia Tarachansky were told bluntly by the Israeli army’s press office that the military didn’t “have any evidence” to support the MFA’s contention. By the morning of 3 June, all references to al-Qaeda had been removed from the online version of the press release (“Under Scrutiny IDF Retracts Claims About Flotillas Al Qaeda Links”).

More significantly, on 4 June, Israel released a YouTube clip which it claimed was an excerpt from radio communications between the Israeli navy and the Mavi Marmara. The clip included a voice telling the Israelis to “go back to Auschwitz,” and another voice stating “We’re helping Arabs go against the US,” in response to Israeli statements that the vessel was “approaching an area which is under a naval blockade” (“Flotilla Ship to Israeli Navy: “We’re Helping Arabs Go Against the US, Don’t Forget 9/11 Guys,” 4 June 2010).

The latter statement was made in an accent resembling that of the American south, despite the fact that no one from that region was present aboard any of the ships. Numerous bloggers commented that the accents sounded as though they had been faked, and ridiculed the quality of the apparent forgery.

One of the flotilla organizers, US citizen Huwaida Arraf, was astonished to find that the clip included her own voice as well — even though she had not been aboard the Mavi Marmara, but was on a different vessel. Tel Aviv-based journalist and blogger Mya Guarnieri noted that Arraf told the Bethlehem-based Maan News Agency that the clip of her voice, saying “we have permission from the Gaza Port Authority to enter,” seemed to have been excerpted from communications during a previous flotilla trip (there have been nine trips since 2008) (“Israel under fire for doctoring flotilla recordings,” 5 June 2010). “When they radioed us [on this trip], we were still 100 miles away,” Arraf remarked.

Blumenthal called attention to the mysterious presence of Arraf and other discrepancies in the clip in an article he posted on 4 June. The following day, the MFA issued a statement admitting that the clip had been substantially edited (“Clarification/Correction Regarding Audio Transmission Between Israeli Navy and Flotilla on 31 May 2010,” 5 June 2010). However, the clip including the “Auschwitz” statement remains on the MFA website in a new “unedited” version of the alleged transmission.

High-tech sleuthing uncovers a web of deceit

Perhaps most damaging to the credibility of Israeli accounts was a map published by Ali Abunimah on his blog and which was produced by using archived transmissions of Automatic Identification System (AIS) data to plot the position of the Mavi Marmara as it sailed on the morning of the raid (“Did Israel press on with bloody attack on Mavi Marmara even as ship fled at full-speed?,” 7 June 2010).

Using the map, Abunimah was able to determine the location and heading of the ship as it broadcast updates on its status. The map also plotted the position of the Mavi Marmara at the exact points when surveillance camera footage from the ship — which Israel had released without obscured time stamps — was apparently recorded.

According to AIS data, the Mavi Marmara had been heading south — parallel to the Israeli coast and more than 80 miles from the shore — until approximately 4:35am local time. At this point, the ship abruptly turned west, heading away from the Gaza coast.

The attack, which surviving passengers say began shortly after 4:00am, was reported to Greek activists in direct communication with the ship at some point before 4:51am. However, the time stamp seen in the released security camera footage and described in a caption as being the point at which “rioters initiate confrontation with Israeli soldiers,” indicates that the clip was filmed at 5:03am.

This is reinforced by the fact that the sea is apparently lit by natural light, which would not have been possible an hour earlier.

This evidence directly contradicts Israeli claims regarding the sequence and timing of events, and throws its overarching narrative into doubt. While the vast majority of footage of the raid has been seized by Israel, along the flotilla’s Voyage Data Recorders (VDRs, the nautical equivalent of aircraft’s “black boxes”), activists have been diligently archiving all available evidence to prevent Israel from altering or destroying it.

As more time stamped data becomes available, it will be aggregated by activists and plotted on mapping applications not only to help reveal what happened aboard the Mavi Marmara, but guarantee a greater level of accountability when Israel responds to future flotillas.

A significant amount of data is already emerging. Several of the survivors managed to conceal memory cards from their Israeli captors, the contents of which they proceeded to make available to journalists upon their return home. Some photos, published in the Turkish newspaper HaberTurk, depict passengers administering medical care to wounded Israeli soldiers and even protecting them from being photographed — which seemed to contradict Israel’s claims that passengers were intent on a premeditated “lynching” of the Israeli commandoes (“İsrail’den kaçırılan fotoğraflar,” 4 June 2010).

Recently-released video clips from flotilla survivors show Israeli soldiers kicking, beating and shooting passengers, including footage which Turkey’s Cihan News Agency says depicts the close-range killing of Furkan Dogan, a 19-year-old US citizen, with automatic weaponry (“Israeli Soldiers Murdering Man Identified as Furkan Dogan,” 10 June 2010).

An autopsy determined that Dogan was shot five times, including once in the back and twice in the head from almost point-blank range. Other footage shows helicopters hovering above the flotilla, with apparent muzzle flashes and sounds of gunfire, supporting the survivors’ contention that commandos were already firing before boarding the vessels, thus prompting the limited resistance demonstrated by terrified passengers.

International vs. internal investigations

The Israeli government continues to reject the idea of an international investigation in favor of pursuing its own. On 5 June, the United Nation’s Secretary General proposed an international panel to examine the killing of nine flotilla passengers, but Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, announced on FOX News the next day that Israel would refuse “to be investigated by any international board” (“Transcript: Amb. Michael Oren on ‘FNS’,” 7 June 2010).

Those who demand an international probe have good reason to doubt Israel’s ability to investigate itself. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), which cited statistics from the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, between 2000 and 2008, “Israeli soldiers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories killed more than 2,000 Palestinian civilians not involved in combat. Of 1,246 criminal investigations initiated during the same period into suspected offenses of all kinds by soldiers against Palestinian civilians, only 6 percent (78 cases) resulted in indictments.

Only 13 of those indictments charged soldiers with killing civilians. As of September 2008, five soldiers had been convicted for the deaths of four civilians” (“Why No Justice in Gaza? Israel Is Different, and so …,” 1 October 2009).

HRW found a similar pattern in cases stemming from Israel’s infamous three-week attack on Gaza beginning on 27 December 2008. The invasion, which caused the deaths of more than 1,400 Palestinians, resulted in only one criminal conviction — for the theft of a credit card belonging to a Palestinian family after soldiers looted their home.

Regarding the flotilla attack, some sources in the Israeli government have indicated that they would consider permitting one or more international “observers” to be included in their internal investigation. Governments around the world have insisted that this is not an acceptable alternative to a genuine international investigation.

However, even a completely impartial group charged with investigating the raid would be analyzing “evidence” (such as seized footage and VDRs) that had been under the full control of the Israeli military since the time of the assault.

Accountability and independent journalism

With little hope for a formal investigation with any degree of credibility, independent journalists around the world have recognized the need to mount their own. The work of independent journalists is achieving a growing level of influence in the mainstream. And the story of the Mavi Marmara killings, despite the unwillingness of many professional reporters to publicly challenge Israel’s version of events, is no exception.

“This is an issue where, in the flotilla incident, the legal and moral circumstances of Israeli abuse were so flagrant and visible that independent media have a greater opportunity of being heard,” said Richard Falk, international law expert and United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Should the UN or another impartial body mount an international probe, it would “benefit greatly from [independent media’s] active undertaking to reinforce whatever investigation took place,” Falk commented for this story.

Independent journalists have already succeeded in cracking the wall of Israel’s narrative in the corporate media. For nearly an hour on the morning of 5 June, most mainstream reports about the status of the delayed fourth ship in the flotilla that had included the Mavi Marmara relied almost exclusively on information gleaned from messages shared between activists and independent journalists via Twitter.

The work of Abunimah and Blumenthal in debunking much of the Israeli narrative was cited extensively in a post by The New York Times blogger Robert Mackey (“Photographs of Battered Israeli Commandos Show New Side of Raid,” 7 June 2010).

On 10 June, a United Nations press conference was devoted to presenting uncensored footage of the assault captured by filmmaker Iara Lee, which promises to make global headlines with countless images contradicting the Israeli version of events.

Paul Larudee, a San Francisco Bay Area-based activist who participated in the flotilla and endured a severe beating which required him to him to be hospitalized, believes that the success of independent journalists in unraveling Israel’s disjointed narrative has had a transformative effect on the popular consciousness.

“Something’s happening here. Perceptions begin to move,” Larudee said. “People are getting it — they understand that a humanitarian aid convoy was attacked, and the passengers were defending themselves, despite the spin that Israel is creating in the media. Israel is not going to be able to keep this up much longer. It’s all starting to crumble.”
……………………………………………………….
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: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com

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IS NON-VIOLENCE PRINCIPLE OR A TACTIC

NOVANEWS

Non-violence is not a principle, it is a tactic

I thought the latest post by Matthew Taylor was out of touch. I have news for him: violence works. Violence pushed Israel out of southern Lebanon, and violence repelled the Israeli incursion into Lebanon in 2006. Violence let the Bielski partisans save our people during the Holocaust. Violence defined the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, one of the prouder moments of Jewish history.

Non-violence can only be assessed conjuncturally, within a dense mesh of sociology, history, politics, and ideology. Each situation is different. There are no formulas. But we can use a rough typology of tactics. Non-violence must be pitched to appeal to either the world’s conscience, or the humanity of the oppressor. It can also function as widespread civil disobedience—a general strike, for example, that can jam up the machinery of violence.

These tactics are not exclusive of one another, but nonetheless it is clear that non-violence is not a principle, as Taylor raises it to. It itself is a tactic.

Taylor extracts his principle from a mis-reading of Gandhi, who supported violent resistance, and a mis-reading of Indian history. The British presence in colonial India was less than .05 percent of the population. The colonial apparatus mostly relied on the native “sepoy” army. Gandhian non-violence intended to sway that army, not the British colonizers.

And that didn’t work either. Japanese violence ended British colonialism, not Gandhi, and even Gandhi’s non-violence worked against the looming fist of violent resistance taking place around the rest of the subcontinent.

Consider the feasibility of those options on the Mavi Marmara. Could the passengers rely on appealing to the conscience of Israeli commandoes while they were firing bullets at the activists? Taylor thinks so: “the true power of nonviolence to persuade the oppressor is unleashed with a commitment to pursue acts of courageous love.”

This seems wooly to me. Palestinian nationalism will be dead under a Merkava tank well before the oppressor is persuaded by local non-violent action (BDS globalizes non-violence in an ingenious way and creates a different correlation of forces, but plainly Taylor is not talking about this). Taylor instead is glossing his professor, Nagler.

To say, “The point is that even if they were – while terribly difficult – the passengers could have resisted nonviolently by refusing to comply with the soldiers’ demands without making any attempt to injure them,” is ridiculous. When someone is shooting at you and your friends, you must disarm them, and probably use violence to do so.

If you can’t disarm them, you must use violence to stop them from shooting, one way or another. The demand a bullet entering your skull makes on you is for you to die, and if there is a way to “refuse to comply” with that demand, Taylor and Nagler should fess up quick.

In terms of the appeal of non-violence aboard the Mavi Marmara to the world’s conscience, what is there to say? Israeli commandoes were authorized to use deadly violence, according to Michael Oren. The nine martyrs and the dozens of injured made this a major news-story, far bigger than if there had been no resistance of any sort.

Did it appeal to the humanity of the world? Manifestly. There have been explosions of unrest in previously quiescent populations. The Egyptian opposition’s mobilizational capacity was quite low before the massacre. In its wake the opposition has organized many amazing actions.

In Istanbul and in other Muslim countries, Palestine is at the forefront of every demonstration. The Spanish government is discussing how to end the blockade. Civil society will not stop sending ships until the blockade is broken. What sort of response is Taylor looking for? A sudden “moment” when Americans rise up and overthrow our thug government for its complicity in the ongoing Nakba?

Not going to happen, not yet—and those accustomed to accepting whatever hasbara Israel emits would not have changed their minds if the activists had stuck to non-violence. They wouldn’t have noticed, most likely. Nagler, Taylor’s mentor, acknowledges this, writing, “why was there virtually no coverage of the flotilla in the international media until the tragedy? Do we want ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ journalism to continue shaping our cultural narratives, constantly putting sales appeal ahead of political cogency?” (“We” don’t own the press agencies. If “we” did, as Marcuse pointed out a long time ago, the revolution would have taken place a long, long time ago).

Nagler wants impotent purism raised to an operational principle of the solidarity movement. Good luck with that.

Finally, in terms of jamming the machinery of occupation or violence: the passengers on the Mavi Marmara apparently did a great deal of this. They used water-hoses and repelling poles to keep commandoes off the deck. On other ships, some activists formed human chains, or jumped into the water to buy time, as Paul Larudee did.

 This can work, but, again, we run into the problem: the blurring of non-violence and violence. Where does disarming gun-toting commandoes fall? Violent or non-violent? Repelling their boarding vessels? Forceful or non-forceful? The Palestinian women who pushed Israeli soldiers at Budrus? Violent or non-violent? Taylor later writes that breaking windows constitutes violence.

By this logic, blowing up unoccupied tanks is also “violent,” and certainly, using a hammer to hit a soldier spraying bullets into civilians is also violence. Can Taylor possibly be serious about this principle, or the trouble that results when one maps non-violence and violence onto the ethical and moral spheres, and creates precise alignments between “non-violence” and ethical and moral rectitude, “violence” and ethical and moral disarray?

Taylor probably thinks that resistance on the Rachel Corrie followed his proposed path (although he doesn’t mention the Rachel Corrie. Funny, that ship was barely in the news. Could that have had something to do with the presence or absence of forceful resistance?). Anyway, on the Rachel Corrie, the passengers were understandably scared and horrified, and resisted so little because they didn’t want to die.

This is no judgment on their bravery. But the sort of non-violence Taylor supports is the sort that castrates resistance, and takes resistance out of the realm of history and into the realm of religion. What would Taylor have recommended to the Vietnamese? There is nothing nefarious about defending oneself from armed attack.

Making it nefarious writes the Palestinian right to resist out of history, reserving righteous violence and force for the Western powers that already almost monopolize it. Taylor wants to turn the fact of an imbalance of forces into a principle: don’t resist. He wants to willfully “try to raise ourselves to such a cultural and moral level, both as individuals and as a community, that we would be able to control this reflex”—the resort to violence, as Chomsky wrote 40 years ago. But what Chomsky was talking about intra-communal oppression, and so intra-communal resistance.

Taylor is talking about something else entirely. He is talking about resistance to policies supported by an ideology that de-humanizes those whom it oppresses. Taylor thinks we should appeal to “Israeli public opinion,” and not act as if it is “irrelevant; to do so is both a strategic and moral blunder. There’s a reason that so many Israelis demonstrated in support of the IDF’s actions, and I think the violence of the resisters was a huge part of it.” Who is guilty of this blunder?

f course Israeli public opinion is relevant. That’s precisely what BDS targets. But it targets it using a measure of coercion, because the Palestinians can’t afford to wait while a militarized Sparta comes to its senses. Israeli articulate opinion is mostly upset that the assault on the Mavi Marmara didn’t conform to its expectations. Does Taylor read the mainstream and right-wing Israeli press? This is a thoroughly brainwashed, militarized population.

Yes, scared, not eager to join the military to brutalize and be brutalized, except the hard-right Zionists who disproportionately occupy the officer corps and make operational decisions in combat situations, but with a bunker mentality, and often, deeply racist—last week MK Haneen Zoabi was nearly assaulted in the Knesset by racist thugs for trying to deliver concrete to people without homes.

Taylor writes that “We must design our activism campaigns to both end the oppression of the Palestinians AND help Israelis to feel less scared and more recognized for their humanity.” What could he mean? Israelis aren’t acting in a humane manner, for the most part. We can’t recognize something that isn’t there. And we are fantasists if we choose to believe otherwise.

 It is not the job of solidarity activists to heal Israeli culture. Israel is not fence-sitting. It is actively carrying out horrible crimes with the passive or active complicity of the overwhelming majority of its population. The men who wield power in that society should be facing war crimes trials, not quibbles about whether the solidarity movement is hurting their feelings.

There is far more to say: on how Western media frames resistance, on how it accepts the Israeli narrative or the imperial narrative, on how to acknowledge this as we plan tactics and strategy until such time as we can control the narratives, on the nature of institutional and non-institutional racism vis-à-vis Western solidarity activist-based resistance and Palestinian resistance, on the naturalization of state violence, Israeli and American aggression rights, and the relentless transformation, via dominant narratives, of just resistance into unjust terror, a narrative that unfortunately Taylor strengthens.

Summing up, here’s what I think. Those who resisted violently were brave. Those who resisted non-violently were brave. All were right. All were just. Solidarity organizations can agree in advance to resist or not to resist, as Taylor instructs us. But most oppression in human history has been thrown off by horrible violence.

 Frankly, if a man has a gun pointed at my head on my own territory and has shot the person standing next to me, and I can disarm that man, I will disarm him. And there is something surreal, if not pitiful, to demand not only that I abjure that basic human response, but furthermore, abjure it when the gun is pointed not at my head but at the person standing next to me. Writing about it admittedly makes for good copy and good employment for those living and writing in Western countries where power is eager to dissolve an internationally-sanctioned right to resist. For those living under the gun, Taylor’s prescriptions may seem a little odder.

[Crossposted from Mondoweiss]

Technorati Tags: Gandhi, Gaza, Israel, Matthew Taylor, Mondoweiss, non-violence, pacificism, Palestine, resistance movements

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ZIONIST PEACE WITH ASSAD

NOVANEWS

Uri Saguy continues to to reveal details of Israel’s diplomatic history with Syria. In April, Maariv relayed an interview he had given to veterans’ publication, in which he described the role played by Ron Lauder in brokering Netanyahu-Assad negotiations in the ’90s. Last Friday in an extensive interview given to Yediot’s Uri Misgav, Saguy calls for the resumption of the diplomatic process and provides a highly critical insider’s account of Barak’s handling of the previous round, in 2000.

 

“At the end of the next war we will seek a diplomatic solution”

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uri Saguy, the best informed person on the details of negotiations with Syria, is concerned about Israel’s situation and convinced that in light of the crisis with Turkey, Israel’s utmost priority should be peace with Assad.

In fact, he was sure it was about to happen (” I saw with my own eyes a draft agreement with the Syrians”) but then suddenly everything went wrong. Ehud Barak already provided his explanations here recently. Now Saguy reveals other details from the closed rooms

Uri Misgav, Yediot Friday Political Supplement, June 11 2010 [Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]

 

“We were very close to achieving a peace agreement with Syria in 2000. Closer than ever. It would have happened had we done what we promised to ourselves, the Americans and the Syrians.” Ten years after the collapse of the Israeli-Syrian channel, Maj. Gen. (res.) Uri Saguy reveals the details behind what he calls “a missed opportunity of deep historic significance.”

Saguy, appointed by then Prime Minister Ehud Barak to head the Israeli team for the talks, says “drafts of an agreement, written by Jonathan Schwartz from the US State Department, were already exchanged. I saw them with my own eyes. Not everything was agreed. Another meeting between the leaders was needed to conclude the deal.

 But the Syrians came to Shepherdstown with a mandate to move forward. That is what the head of their delegation, Foreign Minister Farouk A-Shara, said, and we knew this from the good intelligence we had at our disposal. It fell apart with a terrible crash. The Syrians and Bill Clinton came out of there with the feeling that the Israelis did not meet their commitments. I think Barak came there too soon.

 He should have come for the next stage. I told him it was a mistake for him to go at the head of the delegation, that the time was not ripe yet. He replied: “We are going for two or three weeks, whatever it takes, to make peace.”

The extensive series of conversations with Saguy took place over the last two weeks, in the midst of what looked like an Israeli slide into the depths of an unprecedented political low and international isolation. The discussion of the agreement not reached with Syria was not academic and not disconnected from the context.

“There is no point in settling scores,” says Saguy, “but we are not exempt from asking ourselves questions. We are good at beating ourselves up in inquiries following military failures. We do not always check ourselves when it comes to strategic political failures of the highest order. And in 2000 we failed.”

What did it collapse over?

“I think it collapsed over the ethos. The Syrians said ‘June 4, return what you took by force.’ The Israelis said ‘Assad will not wade in Lake Kinneret,’ ‘we want to continue surrounding the Kinneret.’ There were technical solutions for everything.

Israel played very cleverly with the solution proposed by the Americans, of the difference between sovereignty and control, and I will not elaborate so as not to cause damage. I will only say there were solutions for everything. But what we could not get over is the ethos. At the critical stages the Israeli side was not determined enough. It is a shame. But we must not give up.”

What happened to Barak at the moment of truth?

“I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. We talked from time to time. He sticks to his position that there are things I don’t know because I was not the prime minister. I accept that I wasn’t and I accept that I don’t know. And I still believe it was a real failure. The argument is not over the Golan Heights.

The argument is over the state of Israel’s strategic national security. The Golan Heights is a very sensitive platform and we could do two things with it: either use it as a basis for an agreement or fight over it. Wars do not happen everyday but when they do happen it is very hard.

I still remember. If there is no choice, we will fight and our children will fight. But when there is a choice, should we not even explore it? That does not seem moral to me.”

The Rabin deposit

Saguy, 66, a father of three and grandfather of two, is probably one of the Israelis who has met the most Syrians face-to-face. “I first met them on the Golan Heights. There were a lot of them then, too,” he quips. He fought on the Golan Heights in the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War and was wounded twice. Later in his service he commanded the Golani brigade, was head of the general staff’s operations department in the First Lebanon War and served as commander of the land forces and the Southern Command.

Between 1991 and 1995 he served in his most important position, chief of intelligence. Only there, he admits, did the coin drop. “I spent many years as a military man on the Golan Heights, I saw it burn, not only thrive,” he explains. “I did not understand what only later as chief of intelligence I was able to understand.

It was a job that helped me develop a much broader worldview. I understood additional factors, I understood the limits of power.

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WHALE HUNTING

NOVANEWS

Dear friends,

In one week, the International Whaling Commission will hold its final vote on a proposal to legalize commercial whale hunting for the first time in a generation. 

The outcome rests on whose voices are heard most clearly in the final hours: the pro-whaling lobby — or the world’s people?

More than 650,000 of us have signed the petition to protect whales — it’s time to reach 1 million! At the whale summit in Morocco, an Avaaz team is setting up billboards, front-page newspaper ads, and a giant, constantly-updating petition counter — all to ensure that delegates, from the moment they step off the plane until they cast their votes, will see from our explosive numbers that the world will not accept legal whale slaughter. Click to sign, and forward this email to everyone:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/whales_last_push/?vl

Thanks to the worldwide outcry, many governments have already pledged to oppose the proposal. Each time the Avaaz whale petition added 100,000 signatures, it was sent again to the IWC and key governments — some, like New Zealand, thanked all of us who had signed on.

But pressure from the other side has been relentless. Now other governments, especially in Europe and Latin America, may abstain… or even support the proposal. The vote could go either way.

Citizen pressure is our best hope. After all, it was an explosive worldwide social movement in the 1980s that led to the commercial whaling ban we’re now trying to protect. As the International Whaling Commission meets in Morocco — starting this Thursday, the 17th, with the crucial vote less than a week away — let’s make sure the world’s voices are there to greet them:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/whales_last_push/?vl

After the global ban was first implemented on commercial whaling, the number of whales killed each year plummeted from 38,000 per year to just a couple of thousand. It’s a testament to the power of humanity to move forward. As we move to confront the other crises of the modern age, let’s cherish this legacy of progress — by joining together now to protect our majestic and intelligent neighbors on this fragile planet.

With hope,

Ben, Ben M, Maria Paz, Ricken, Benjamin, David, Graziela, Luis, and the whole Avaaz team

P.S.: Despite the ban, Japan, Norway, and Iceland have continued whaling — and are now pushing to make the IWC proposal as lenient as possible. Expecting permission to catch more whales than ever, Japan is reportedly planning to buy its largest whaling ship yet. Click here to sign the petition against commercial whaling!

SOURCES:

IWC Voting on Whale Hunting Moratorium Next Week
http://goo.gl/7m0y

“IWC whaling proposal ‘offensive'”, New Zealand Herald
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10640398

“Flights, girls and cash buy Japan whaling votes” – a new exposé by the Times of London
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article7149086.ece

The other side: IWC Chairman defends whaling proposal
http://www.avaaz.org/commercial_whaling_support

“Nations Push To Develop New Whale-based Products” – anticipating the end of the whaling ban, whaling nations planning whale-based products including golf balls and detergent
http://goo.gl/aoH1

Donate to this campaign! Avaaz’s work on whales, like all its campaigns, is funded entirely by donations — we receive no money from governments or corporations. Support the billboards and stunts at the whale summit — click here to make a secure contribution!


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ZIO=NAZI END YOUR SIEGE OF WARSAW GHETTO

NOVANEWS

Israel Should End the Siege of Israel

June 12, 2010

by Michael Leon

 

Israel’s Destruction of Gaza

Via the Washington Note

This is a guest note by Fadi Elsalameen, Executive Director of The Palestine Note. This piece originally appeared in Haaretz.

By Fadi Elsalameen

Israel’s deadly attack on the “Freedom Flotilla” is proof of how Gaza continues to give Israel a taste of its own medicine. Intended to help solve Israel’s problems with Hamas, the three-year-old siege of Gaza is developing into a siege of Israel, while it causes tremendous damage to the country’s image around the world.

It should be clear to both Israel and the United States by now that the siege of Gaza has failed to accomplish its goals. Israel has failed to weaken Hamas, free Gilad Shalit or even put an end to arms smuggling.

To Israel’s dismay, Hamas has succeeded in putting the spotlight on Gaza and directing world attention to the country’s irrational policies toward not only the Palestinians, but also its own citizens.

From outside, the situation in Gaza may appear unsustainable for Hamas, but in fact the Islamic movement and its supporters are content to wait it out, calling Israel’s bluff on the blockade. Indeed some cynics believe the current status quo is the best situation the Palestinians have enjoyed in a long time.

Late last month, at the fifth annual Al Jazeera forum in Doha, Osama Hamdan of Hamas and Ibrahim el-Moussaoui of Hezbollah applauded and shook hands with Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor of Al-Quds Al-Arabi, a widely circulated pan-Arabist newspaper, when he said: “I have good news: There is a Palestinian split. Things have never been better before. One camp is with the Americans, the Israelis and seculars, and the other camp is with Iran and Islamists. So, if one side loses, the other is bound to win, and this has been the best and safest situation for the Palestinians in a long time.”

Atwan is known to favor the latter camp, and from his “good news,” one can surmise that he is betting it is on its way to winning – clearly with tremendous help from the siege of Gaza.
What is even more unsettling from the point of view of peace-loving Palestinians is the fact that Israel’s top politicians are aware of the implications of their damaging policies, even as they refuse to change them.

 After meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak two months ago at his office in Tel Aviv, I walked away believing he understood that unless Israel changes its policies vis-a-vis my people, sooner or later the world will see those policies for what they are: apartheid. I believe the deadly attack on the flotilla, and the worldwide reactions that followed, are confirming Barak’s fears – and sooner, rather than later. Israel’s policies are no longer acceptable to the world community, and a change in policy is crucial.

The day after the Mavi Marmara incident, the head of the Mossad, Meir Dagan, bluntly told the Knesset: “Israel is becoming more of a liability and less of an asset for the United States.”

The siege of Gaza has been going on for nearly three years, and strategically speaking, so far, Israel and its allies have been the biggest losers. The reaction from both the world’s governments and its peoples to last week’s attack shows not only the growing intolerance of Israel’s policies, but an urgent need for Israel to rethink its long-term goals. Is it to exist as a democracy, and in peace with its neighbors, or will it continue to be the Palestinians’ landlords?

If Israel’s goal is to be a permanent landlord, then its future in the region is clear: More and more disgruntled Arab and Muslim youth will continue to join the lines of resistance against the apartheid in the territories and will continue to threaten the stability of the already weak neighboring Arab regimes. It is important to note that a large number of the people on the ships bound for Gaza were young Arabs from almost every country in the region. Today they may come on ships with peace activists, tomorrow they will storm the borders with jihadist movements. Then, it will not only be Israel facing them. Their own regimes and the United States will also have to face the consequences.

The fact that Turkey and Iran are sending aid to the Palestinians and criticizing Israel’s policies will not only undermine the legitimacy of the nearby Arab regimes, which are already seen as helpless and ineffective, but will also lead their populations to draw inspiration from those two countries.

Egypt, realizing that its regime is weak and unstable, has already felt the heat and immediately opened the Rafah crossing with Gaza, which it intends to leave open.

So, is Israel ready to think seriously about long-term solutions, or does it intend to simply continue to impose a siege on itself?

Israel’s leaders – with the help of the United States and the international community – must redefine their country’s long-term vision and goals, and allow a Palestinian state to exist by its side. If Israel’s goal is to live in a democracy and in peace with the Palestinians, then its path should be clear: Lift the siege on Gaza, encourage a unity government, and let the Palestinians build their own democracy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WHO IS AFRIAD OF A REAL INQUIRY?

NOVANEWS

URI AVNERY: ISRAEL/GAZA: WHO IS AFRIAD OF A REAL INQUIRY

June 12, 2010

by Gordon Duff

Who is Afraid of a real Inquiry?

By Uri Avnery

If a real Commission of Inquiry had been set up (instead of the pathetic excuse for a commission), here are some of the questions it should have addressed:

 1. What is the real aim of the Gaza Strip blockade?

2. If the aim is to prevent the flow of arms into the Strip, why are only 100 products allowed in (as compared to the more than 12 thousand products in an average Israeli supermarket)?

3. Why is it forbidden to bring in chocolate, toys, writing material, many kinds of fruits and vegetables (and why cinnamon but not coriander)?

 4. What is the connection between the decision to forbid the import of construction materials for the replacement or repair of the thousands of buildings destroyed or damaged during the Cast Lead operation and the argument that they may serve Hamas for building bunkers – when more than enough materials for this purpose are brought into the Strip through the tunnels?

5. Is the real aim of the blockade to turn the lives of the 1.5 million human beings in the Strip into hell, in the hope of inducing them to overthrow the Hamas regime?

 6. Since this has not happened, but – on the contrary – Hamas has become stronger during the three years of the blockade, did the government ever entertain second thoughts on this matter?

 7. Has the blockade been imposed in the hope of freeing the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit?

8. If so, has the blockade contributed anything to the realization of this aim, or has it been counter-productive?

 9. Why does the Israeli government refuse to exchange Shalit for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, when Hamas agrees to such a deal?

 10. Is it true that the US government has imposed a veto on the exchange of prisoners, on the grounds that it would strengthen Hamas?

 11. Has there been any discussion in our government about fulfilling its undertaking in the Oslo agreement – to enable and encourage the development of the Gaza port – in a way that would prevent the passage of arms?

 12. Why does the Israeli government declare again and again that the territorial waters of the Gaza strip are part of Israel’s own territorial waters, and that ships entering them “infringe on Israeli sovereignty”, contrary to the fact that the Gaza Strip was never annexed to Israel and that Israel officially announced in 2006 that it had “separated” itself from it?

 13. Why has the Attorney General’s office declared that the peace activists captured on the high seas, who had no intention whatsoever of entering Israel, had “tried to enter Israel illegally”, and brought them before a judge for the extension of their arrest under the law that concerns “illegal entry into Israel”?

14. Who is responsible for these contradictory legal claims, when the Israeli government argues one minute that Israel has “separated itself from the Gaza Strip” and that the “occupation there has come to an end” – and the next minute claims sovereignty over the coastal waters of the Strip?  

 Question concerning the decision to attack the flotilla:

15. When did the preparation for this flotilla become known to the Israeli intelligence services? (Evidence on this may be heard in camera.)

16. When was this brought to the attention of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense, the Cabinet, the Committee of Seven (in charge of security matters) and the IDF Chief of Staff? (ditto)

 17. What were the deliberations of these officials and institutions? (ditto)

18. What intelligence was submitted to each of them? (ditto)

19. When, by whom and how was the decision taken to stop the flotilla by force?

20. Is it true that the secretary of the cabinet, Tzvi Hauser, warned of the severe consequences of such action and advised letting the flotilla sail to Gaza?

21. Were there others who also advised doing so?

 22. Was the Foreign Ministry a full partner in all the discussions?

23. If so, did the Foreign Ministry warn of the impact of such an action on our relations with Turkey and other countries?

24. In light of the fact that, prior to the incident, the Turkish government informed the Israeli Foreign Ministry that the flotilla was organized by a private organization which is not under the control of the government and does not violate any Turkish law – did the Foreign Ministry consider approaching the organization in order to try to reach an agreement to avoid violence?

25. Was due consideration given to the alternative of stopping the flotilla in territorial waters, inspecting the cargo for arms and letting it sail on?

 26. Was the impact of the action on international public opinion considered?

27. Was the impact of the action on our relations with the US considered?

28. Was it taken into consideration that the action may actually strengthen Hamas?

29. Was it taken into consideration that the action may make the continuation of the blockade more difficult? 

 Questions concerning the planning of the action:

30. What intelligence was at the disposal of the planners? (Evidence may be heard in camera.)

 31. Was it considered that the composition of the group of activists in this flotilla was different from that in earlier protest ships, because of the addition of the Turkish component?

32. Was it taken into consideration that contrary to the European peace activists, who believe in passive resistance, the Turkish activists may adopt a policy of active resistance to soldiers invading a Turkish ship?

 33. Were alternative courses of action considered, such as blocking the progress of the flotilla with navy boats?

 34. If so, what were the alternatives considered, and why were they rejected?

35. Who was responsible for the actual planning of the operation – the IDF Chief of Staff or the Commander of the Navy?

 36. If it was the Navy Commander who decided on the method employed, was the decision approved by the Chief of Staff, the Minister of Defense and the Prime Minister?

 37. How were the responsibilities for planning divided between these?

38. Why was the action undertaken outside of the territorial waters of Israel and the Gaza Strip?

 39. Why was it executed in darkness?

40. Did anyone in the navy object to the idea of soldiers descending from helicopters onto the deck of the ship “Mavi Marmara”?

 41. During the deliberations, did anyone bring up the similarity between the planned operation and the British action against the ship “Exodus 1947″, which ended in a political disaster for the British? 

 Questions concerning the action itself:

42. Why was the flotilla cut off from any contact with the world throughout the operation, if there was nothing to hide?

 43. Did anyone protest that the soldiers were actually being sent into a trap?

44. Was it taken into consideration that the plan adopted would place the soldiers for several critical minutes in a dangerously inferior position?

 45. When exactly did the soldiers start to shoot live ammunition?

46. Which of the soldiers was the first to fire?

 47. Was the shooting – all or part of it – justified?

48 Is it true that the soldiers started firing even before descending onto the deck, as asserted by the passengers?

 49. Is it true that the fire continued even after the captain of the ship and the activists announced several times over loudspeakers that the ship had surrendered, and after they had actually hoisted white flags?

 50. Is it true that five of the nine people killed were shot in the back, indicating that they were trying to get away from the soldiers and thus could not be endangering their lives?

 51. Why was the killed man Ibrahim Bilgen, 61 years old and father of six and a candidate for mayor in his home town, described as a terrorist?

 52. Why was the killed man Cetin Topcoglu, 54 years old, trainer of the Turkish national taekwondo (Korean martial arts) team, whose wife was also on the ship, described as a terrorist?

53. Why was the killed man Cevdet Kiliclar, a 38 year old journalist, described as a terrorist?

54. Why was the killed man Ali Haydar Bengi, father of four, graduate of the al-Azhar school for literature in Cairo, described as a terrorist?

 55. Why were the killed men Necdet Yaldirim, 32 years old, father of a daughter; Fahri Yaldiz, 43 years old, father of four; Cengiz Songur, 47 years old, father of seven; and Cengiz Akyuz, 41 years old, father of three, described as terrorists?

 56. Is it a lie that the activists took a pistol from a soldier and shot him with it, as described by the IDF, or is it true that the activists did in fact throw the pistol into the sea without using it?

 57. Is it true, as stated by Jamal Elshayyal, a British subject, that the soldiers prevented treatment for the Turkish wounded for three hours, during which time several of them died?

58.. Is it true, as stated by this journalist, that he was handcuffed behind his back and forced to kneel for three hours in the blazing sun, that he was not allowed to go and urinate and told to “piss in his pants”, that he remained handcuffed for 24 hours without water, that his British passport was taken from him and not returned; that his laptop computer, three cellular telephones and 1500 dollars in cash were taken from him and not returned?

59. Did the IDF cut off the passengers from the world for 48 hours and confiscate all the cameras, films and cell phones of the journalists on board in order to suppress any information that did not conform to the IDF story?

 60. Is it a standing procedure to keep the Prime Minister (or his acting deputy, Moshe Yaalon in this case) in the picture during an operation, was this procedure implemented, and was it implemented in previous cases, such as the Entebbe operation or the boarding of the ship “Karin A”?

 Questions concerning the behavior of the IDF Spokesman:

61. IS it true that the IDF Spokesman spread a series of fabrications during the first few hours, in order to justify the action in the eyes of both the Israeli and the international public?

62. Are the few minutes of film which have been shown hundreds of times on Israeli TV, from the first day on until now, a carefully edited clip, so that it is not seen what happened just before and just after?

63. What is the truth of the assertion that the soldiers who were taken by the activists into the interior of the ship were about to be “lynched”, when the photos clearly show that they were surrounded for a considerable time by dozens of activists without being harmed, and that a doctor or medic from among the activists even treated them?

 64. What evidence is there for the assertion that the Turkish NGO called IHH has connections with al-Qaeda?

65. On what grounds was it stated again and again that it was a “terrorist organization”, though no evidence for this claim was offered?

 66. Why was it asserted that the association was acting under the orders of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, when in fact it is close to an opposition party?

67. If it was in fact a terrorist organization known to the Israeli intelligence services, why was this not taken into account during the planning of the operation?

68. Why did the Israeli government not announce this before the attack on the flotilla?

69. Why were the words of one of the activists, who declared on his return that he wanted to be a “shahid”, translated by official propaganda in a manifestly dishonest manner, as if he had said that he wanted “to kill and be killed” (“shahid” means a person who sacrifices his life in order to testify to his belief in God, much like a Christian martyr)?

 70. What is the source of the lie that the Turks called out “Go back to Auschwitz”?

71. Why were the Israeli doctors not called to inform the public at once about the character of the wounds of the injured soldiers, after it was announced that at least one of them was shot?

72. Who invented the story that there were arms on the ship, and that they had been thrown into the sea?

 73. Who invented the story that the activists had brought with them deadly weapons – when the exhibition organized by the IDF Spokesman himself showed nothing but tools found on any ship, including binoculars, a blood infusion instrument, knives and axes, as well as decorative Arab daggers and kitchen knives that are to be found on every ship, even one not equipped for 1000 passengers?

 74. Do all these items – coupled with the endless repetition of the word “terrorists” and the blocking of any contrary information – not constitute brainwashing? 

 Questions concerning the inquiry:

75. Why does the Israeli government refuse to take part in an international board of inquiry, composed of neutral personalities acceptable to them?

 76. Why have the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense announced that they are ready to testify – but not to answer questions?

77. Where does the argument come from that soldiers must not be called to testify – when in all previous investigations senior officers, junior officers and enlisted men were indeed subjected to questioning?

 78. Why does the government refuse to appoint a State Commission of Inquiry under the Israeli law that was enacted by the Knesset in 1966 for this very purpose, especially in view of the fact that such commissions were appointed after the Yom Kippur war, after the Sabra and Shatila massacre, after the podium of the al-Aqsa Mosque was set on fire by an insane Australian, as well as to investigate corruption in sport and the murder of the Zionist leader Chaim Arlosoroff (some fifty years after it occurred!)?

 79. Does the government have something to fear from such a commission, whose members are appointed by the President of the Supreme Court, and which is empowered to summon witnesses and cross-examine them, demand the production of documents and determine the personal responsibility for mistakes and crimes?

80. Why was it decided in the end to appoint a pathetic committee, devoid of any legal powers, which will lack all credibility both in Israel and abroad? 

And, finally, the question of questions:

81. What is our political and military leadership trying to hide?

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ZIO-AMERICAN MOUSSA IN GAZA

NOVANEWS

Arab League demands Gaza siege end

June 13, 2010

 by Michael Leon

Arab League chief ‘ And Zio-American dog’ Amr Moussa visited the Gaza Strip on June 13

Amid doubt that the 1.5 million Gazans suffering from an illegal Israeli blockade will gain support from the regional Arab and Persian dictators comes news that the Arab League demands the Gaza siege end.

Amr Moussa, the Arab League secretary-general crossed into the imprisoned strip of land from Egypt, some two weeks after Israel’s massacre of a Gaza human rights/aid flotilla on May 31, and the subsequent opening of the Egyptian border into Gaza.

From Aljazeera:

Amr Moussa, the Arab League secretary-general, has called for an end to Israel’s siege on the Gaza Strip.

“This blockade…must be lifted and must be broken and the Arab League decision is very clear in this regard,” he said on Sunday.

Moussa’s comments came immediately after he arrived in the Gaza Strip, his first visit to the territory since Israel’s imposition of a crippling blockade in 2006.

He told reporters at the Rafah crossing point that Arab governments should help in implementing the Arab League resolution that seeks to end the siege.

Moussa reached the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing shortly before 10:00am (0700 GMT) where he was welcomed by members of Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement, as well as representatives of various Palestinian groups.

He crossed into the enclave from Egypt, two weeks after Israel’s deadly interception of a Gaza aid flotilla that was intended to deliver humanitarian aid to the territory.

Palestinian reconciliation

At a joint news conference with Moussa shortly after his arrival, Basim Naeem, the Hamas health minister, said the visit indicated that “the boycott between Gaza and the Arab nation was broken”.

Egypt had kept its border with Gaza largely closed, bolstering Israel’s embargo, since Hamas seized control of the Strip from Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah forces in 2007.

But Cairo eased restrictions at its Rafah crossing with the territory after Israeli marines killed nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists during violent confrontations on the Turkish-flagged aid convoy on May 31.

Palestinian and Arab League officials said Moussa’s visit was also aimed at giving momentum to reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah. Egypt has sponsored the talks but they have failed to bridge deep mistrust between the two rivals.

Moussa, however, said he had not come to Gaza to give support to any political faction, but to meet the Palestinian people of the territory.

Ismail Haniya, Hamas’s leader in Gaza, said he hoped that Moussa’s visit would result in practical measures to end the siege on Gaza.

 

 

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ERDOGAN: WILL TAKE ON ZIONISM

NOVANEWS

Will Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Erdogan, Blink?

June 13, 2010

 by Michael Leon

Israel’s Deadly Raid on Human Rights Flotilli

Few doubt what the Arab/Persian/Islamic “Street” thinks about Israel and its ongoing oppression. The street’s opinion is about that of most of American Jewry.

Now, as former military analyst for the Pentagon, Franklin Spinney, notes: Incredibly “AIPAC is lobbying Congress for a resolution of support for Israel’s attack (on the Gaza flotilla).” 

Has a leader emerged in Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan who will take Israel on? Erdogan has become the central critic of Israel’s massacre at sea and the terror state of Israel doesn’t at this point seem overly concerned that America’s War on Terror will include them.

Despair is not option; the world has a chance to put these murderous thugs in line with the world community (the people); notwithstanding the complicity of various states in the region like Saudi Arabia, that charming little monarchy.

Will Erdogan Blink? via CounterPunch

By FRANKLIN C. SPINNEY

A recent article by Patrick Cockburn, one of the ablest reporters covering the Middle East, provides an excellent character portrait of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan. It is certainly consistent with what little I have been able to learn about this fascinating politician. Regardless of what you may think of Erdogan, and he has many detractors (I am not one), he is certainly establishing himself as an influential world leader who must be reckoned with in an emerging multi-polar world.

Saudi Arabia Israel USA

Cockburn’s report is must reading, because Erdogan has maneuvered himself onto the moral high ground in a very serious crisis he did not create. Consider please the following:

By standing tall against Israel’s murderous commando attack on the unarmed ship in international waters that was carrying aid to the besieged inhabitants of Gaza, and by promising to be on another ship trying to break the blockade, Erdogan has set an example that contrasts sharply with the latest generation of pusillanimous leaders in the United States.

They have refused to condemn Israel’s attack, even though a US citizen was among those murdered — thus continuing the pattern of unprincipled moral weakness that began when President Johnson refused to act decisively after the Israelis deliberately attacked the USS Liberty in international waters in June 1967, murdering over 30 American sailors.

Not surprisingly, Erdogan has become the newest bête noire of the neocons. They have embarked on a concerted effort in their media outlets to smear him as well as to trash our relations with Turkey, starting with screeds in the Wall Street Journal and Weekly Standard.

Their hypocrisy is stunning. Many of these same neocons assiduously cultivated the so-called strategic Israeli-Turkish alliance in the 1990s and, in fact, lobbied Congress on the behalf of Turkey. AIPAC is lobbying Congress for a resolution of support for Israel’s attack, or failing that, is pressuring congressmen to not criticize Israel.

AIPAC and the neocons are also stoking up the Armenian lobby to criticize the modern Turkish Republic for the genocidal crimes which occurred during the waning days of a decrepit Ottoman Empire. This is logically equivalent to criticizing German Chancellor Angela Merkel for Adolf Hitler’s crimes. Some congressmen have already made strong public statements of support for Israel, and by extension a condemnation for Turkey, while the majority — like the good Germans of the 1930s — have done likewise by remaining silent.

Israel just hoisted Obama on his petard (again) by requesting increased arms aid from the United States which, of course, will be rubber stamped by a compliant Congress. Meanwhile, according to the Jerusalem Post, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army, just threatened to sink any Turkish warships carrying Erdogan, if it was escorting another flotilla of aid ships trying to break the blockade of Gaza.

The threat is serious, because it was made on Israeli Army Radio, an outlet for policy pronouncements intended to lather up the Israeli citizens for battle.

To add final insult to this march of folly, Sheera Fenkle just reported that the blockade of Gaza is not about stopping arms shipments to Hamas, because in her words, ‘McClatchy obtained an Israeli government document that describes the blockade not as a security measure but as “economic warfare” against the Islamist group Hamas, which rules the Palestinian territory.’ Put another way, Israel’s own documents suggest that the Israeli government understands the blockade is about an illegal collective punishment of the Gazan people for having the temerity to elect Hamas to govern Gaza in a free election.

Ironically, it was the short-sighted Israelis who promoted Hamas in its early years during the late 1980s as a tactical means to divide and weaken Palestinian allegiances to the PLO.

So Turkey and Israel are maneuvering themselves and the United States into a trap between the moral high ground and the moral low ground for very different reasons. In the eyes of most of the world, Turkey is playing a constructive grand strategic card, while Israel is playing a destructive strategic card. One holds out hope for peace and justice while the other continues its warlike business as usual.

But there is more. An Israeli attack on Turkey would be also an attack on the NATO Alliance. Under the terms of the NATO Treaty, such an attack should trigger what is known as an Article 5 response — an attack on a NATO ally is an attack on all. This is what the US used to justify a NATO response to 9-11 in Afghanistan, even though the Afghan case was far less clear than the Turkish-Israeli imbroglio, because the Taliban was at most an accomplice to the 9-11 crime and may not have known about it in advance.

 If Israel carries through on its threat to attack a NATO warship, it would be a clear act of war. If the US (and the rest of NATO) does not respond, you can kiss NATO and Turkey goodbye, and the US would lose moral standing in the world to a greater degree than that engineered by George Bush and his fellow neocon travelers — which is no small achievement. Nobody could ever trust the United States to live up to its formal treaty obligations.

Our relations with Russia and China would be weakened dangerously, and Iran’s position in the Middle East would be strengthened. The fall of dominoes would go on in all sorts of directions.

To borrow the unforgettable words of British Foreign Minister Edward Grey in the fateful summer of 1914, “the lights are going out all over” the Middle East, in NATO headquarters, and in the White House (assuming they were turned on). If Erdogan presses forward with his public promise to be on another Gaza aid ship or an escorting Turkish warship and if Israel acts on its threat to sink the ship carrying him, then like the chain of events of August 1914, the march to war could very well take on a life of its own.

We know what Israel will do if, as is likely, the US stands passively on the sidelines again, so the questions of the hour seem to be: Will Erdogan blink? Will the US force him to blink?

Study Cockburn’s report and judge for yourself if blinking is a part of Erdogan’s character, particularly, when he has maneuvered himself onto the moral high ground, and it is obvious to all but a few that the low grounders, like PM Netanyau, are playing the hapless Mr. Obama for a moral dupe — again.

Franklin “Chuck” Spinney is a former military analyst for the Pentagon. He currently lives on a sailboat in the Mediterranean and can be reached at chuck_spinney@mac.com

 

 

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