Archive | June, 2011

Zio-Nazi lobby prepares America for war with Pakistan


No doubt taking their cue from Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has said that Pakistan poses the biggest strategic threat to Israel, three of the Israel lobby’s loudest mouthpieces used a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing —  convened to advance Senate approval of President Barack Obama’s decision to promote Vice Adm. William McRaven to become commander of the U.S. Special Forces Command — to mentally prepare Americans for what will most likely be dubbed another “war of Muslim liberation.”


CNN reports on the lobby’s latest efforts to induce the United States into a totally unnecessary war with Pakistan:

Washington (CNN) — U.S. senators didn’t miss a chance Tuesday to voice frustration with Pakistan over how it takes billions of dollars of American aid while providing safe havens to terrorists to build bombs and launch cross-border attacks on U.S.troops in Afghanistan.

“Well, something’s got to give, something’s got to change,” Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said at a hearing. “Because it just can’t continue this way, for them to expect that we’re going to have a normal relationship with them — which we all hope for.”

And Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, also was critical of Pakistan; specifically, whether the top Taliban leader and al Qaeda ally Mullah Omar was hiding there.

“Is Mullah Omar in Pakistan?” Graham asked Vice Adm.William McRaven, who supervised the raid on the Osama bin Laden compound In Pakistan that ended with the death of al Qaeda leader.

“Sir, we believe he is,” McRaven replied.

The hearing was the next step toward Senate approval of President Barack Obama’s decision to promote McRaven to become commander of the U.S. Special Forces Command.

Graham nudged McRaven along. “Do we believe he is there is with the knowledge of the ISI (Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate) and the upper echelon of the (Pakistani) army?” asked Graham.

“Sir, I believe the Pakistanis know he is in Pakistan,” McRaven said.

“Let me ask you this — If they tried for about a week do you think they could then find him?” said Graham.

“I can’t answer that because i don’t know whether they could or not because i don’t know exactly where Mullah Omar is,” answered McRaven, who said he believed the United States. has asked Pakistan to find the Taliban leader.

“Well, I’m asking,” said Graham. “I think Sen. Levin and I will both ask together today.”

And the ranking Republican on the committee, Sen.John McCain, R-Arizona, praised McRaven and his un-named fellow special operators for their success against bin Laden. “The leader of al Qaida is dead, but a new one has taken his place,” McCain said. “Your mission will be to help ensure he meets the same end.”

McCain used the hearing to voice again his strong criticism of President Obama’s troop drawdown timetable for Afghanistan.

“I’m very concerned that the president’s decision poses an unnecessary risk to the progress we’ve made thus far, to our mission, and to our men and women in uniform,” McCain warned

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Allen — poised to take over from Army Gen. David Petraeus as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan — promised McCain and the other senators he would closely monitor the withdrawal plan and give candid advice where he saw fit.

“If confirmed, I will offer my candid assessment to the chain of command on the current state of the conflict, as well as provide options with respect to the president’s goals in accomplishing this strategy,” Allen said.

Last week Petraeus and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said the president had chosen a more aggressive withdrawal timetable than they had expected.

McCain grilled Allen on support for the White House plan.

“Gen. Allen, do you know of any military leader that recommended in 2009 that the president make an announcement in 2011 of drawdown of troops?” McCain asked.

“I do not, senator,” Allen replied.

“Do you know of any military leader that recommended the drawdown plan that the president announced last week?” McCain asked.

“I do not, senator,” Allen answered.

And the general said planning already was underway on how to implement the president’s plan to withdraw 10,000 troops this year, starting next month, and an additional 23,000 by next summer.

The hearing shed new light on U.S. concerns that al Qaeda and the Taliban are assembling explosives in Pakistan and then planting them in Afghanistan to kill Americans.

McRaven said he was certain IEDs — improvised explosive devices such as roadside bombs — used against Americans and coalition troops are coming out of Pakistan and that information about where the bombs are being assembled has been provided to Pakistani authorities.

“Have they (the Pakistanis) responded effectively?” asked Graham.

“They have not, sir,” McRaven replied.

Instead of going to war with a nation of more than 180 million Muslims, over its supposed sheltering of a man who has most likely been dead for 10 years, wouldn’t America be a lot safer if it indicted SenatorsLevinGraham and McCain for their treasonous warmongering on behalf of Israel?


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Fintan Lane (Dublin/Cork) is the national coordinator of Irish Ship to Gaza and a member of the Free Gaza Movement. He participated in last year’s Freedom Flotilla to Gaza aboard Challenger 1. He is a writer and historian; he has a PhD in History from University College Cork and is the author of several books on Irish history. He comes from the Lough area in Cork city.

Shane Dillon (Dublin) is the skipper of the Saoirse and was first mate on Challenger 1, a vessel in last year’s Freedom Flotilla to Gaza.

John Hearne (Waterford) is a Sinn Fein member of Waterford City Council, and has been a fisherman and construction worker. Having been a former President of the SIPTU Construction Branch, John hopes to create links with trade union and community development workers in Gaza. He plans to meet with fishermen in Gaza. John will be a member of the crew on board the M.V. Saoirse.

Pat Fitzgerald (Waterford) is a Sinn Fein member of Waterford County Council. He represents the Tramore electoral area which covers a large agricultural and rural area, including the fishing village of Dunmore East where he lives. Pat now owns his own light engineering business. He used to be a fisherman and a seaman, and hopes to meet with fishermen in Gaza. Pat is certified in firefighting and first aid. He will be a member of the crew on M.V. Saoirse.

Chris Andrews (Dublin) is a former Fianna Fail TD for Dublin South who has long been an advocate of Palestinian human and political rights. Chris tried to be on last year’s Freedom Flotilla but was not allowed to board by the Cypriot authorities, who themselves had been placed under considerable pressure by Israel to prevent the success of Freedom Flotilla 1.

Paul Murphy (Dublin) is a Socialist Party and United Left Alliance MEP for Dublin, replacing Joe Higgins after the 2011 general election. Paul is an activist for workers, young people and the unemployed. Paul believes that the Freedom Flotilla can bring the world’s attention to what is happening in Gaza and give confidence to the Palestinian people that they have friends and supporters around the world. He hopes to meet with civil society representatives upon arrival in Gaza.

Gerry MacLochlainn (Derry) is a Sinn Fein Councillor in Derry. Active in the Irish Civil Rights campaign, Gerry took part in the Burntollet Civil Rights march which was brutally attacked. Gerry is a former Maths teacher, he studied philosophy and maths at University College Wales, Aberystwyth. He is a former Irish Political Prisoner in England. On his release he headed up the Sinn Fein office in London and was active in the struggle to release of the Guildford 4. In 2009, Gerry led the 2nd convoy into Gaza after the invasion and he co-founded Derry Friends of Palestine. During operation Cast Lead he persuaded Derry City Council to support a boycott of Israeli goods until Israel withdraws from the occupied territories. Derry was the first city in Ireland to pass such a motion. He returned to Gaza again to bring the Mayor of Derry to meet with the Mayor of Khan Younis to begin a twinning process between the two cities. Gerry was a keynote speaker in Geneva at the first International Conference in support of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli Jails, organised by U-Free. He is a member of the International Steering Committee of Freedom Flotilla 2 – Stay Human and a member of the Irish Ship to Gaza national committee.

Hugh Lewis (Dublin) is a People Before Profit councillor on Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council and has a track record of campaigning on social and environmental issues. Hugh Lewis has said that he developed a profound understanding of the plight of the Palestinian people through his membership of the Irish Anti-War Movement. Hugh Lewis also has a degree in documentary photography which he hopes will come in handy when he gets to Gaza.

Felim Egan (Tyrone/Dublin) is an internationally regarded artist and a member of Aosdana. He has exhibited over 54 solo exhibitions. In 1993 he won the prestigious UNESCO prize in Paris, and in 1995 he was awarded the Premiere Prize at Cagnes-sur-Mer. His art, though abstract, is tied to the place in which he lives and works, to the long horizons, big skies and empty sands of the Strand and sea. Felim is looking forward to building links with Palestinian artists. He hopes to meet up with artists in Gaza when the ship reaches its destination.

Rik Walton (Donegal/England) is a professional photographer. Born and raised in the North-East of England, he moved to Ireland in 2009. Rik concentrated on music, theatre and live events for most of his career, but he has also worked in Ghana, Zambia, and Mozambique for the charity Street Child Africa, in Lesotho and South Africa documenting theatre projects about HIV-AIDS and women’s issues, and in Zimbabwe. His work has been exhibited at galleries and art centres in the UK and Ireland and at the British Council in Accra and Kumasi, and has been published in many books, magazines and newspapers. Rik is an active member of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign branch in Donegal.

Trevor Hogan (Tipperary/ Dublin) was a professional rugby player until recently. While at Munster, he won his first Irish cap in 2005 against Japan during the Lions Tour. He has played for Munster, Leinster and Ireland. He holds an honours degree in journalism from Dublin City University. Trevor is bringing sports equipment with him to Gaza and hopes to start a Gaza Rugby club upon arrival.

Mags O’Brien (Dublin) is a trade union official who works in SIPTU College. She is an active member of the Labour Party and played a prominent role in the divorce referendum campaign. She is a member of Trade Union Friends of Palestine.

Gerard Barron (Wexford) is an electrician from New Ross in Country Wexford and a member of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign. He has worked on various anti-racism campaigns such as the Anti-Racism World Cup based in West Belfast. Gerard is particularly disturbed by the apartheid nature of Israel’s policies. Gerard hopes to stay on in Gaza and use his skills as an electrical engineer to help repair damaged power supplies in people’s homes.

Jim Roche (Dublin) was a practicing architect before commencing a full time teaching post at the School of Architecture in the Dublin Institute of Technology. He has been a peace and anti-war activist since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. He is a member of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign and is PRO of the Irish Anti-War Movement. He travelled to the West Bank and Israel in 2007 and 2008 where he saw first-hand the effect of the apartheid policies of the Israeli state on the Palestinian population. He is participating in Freedom Flotilla 2 because he believes that these civil society humanitarian efforts, along with the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign, are now the only way to draw attention to the horrific plight of the Palestinian people, which governments around the world continue to ignore despite the extensive documented evidence of appalling human rights abuses.

Zoe Lawlor (Limerick) teaches at the University of Limerick and has spent time in the West Bank. She first visited Palestine in 2005 and what she saw there moved her to work towards ameliorating their hardship. She says that the hospitality of the Palestinian people, despite their ever worsening conditions, inspires her. Zoe is a member of the national committee of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

John Mallon (Belfast) is a leading member of the Belfast Friends of Palestine and of the Belfast branch of Irish Ship to Gaza. He is father to seven children who he says are his reason for getting out of bed in the morning. John was 15 years old when Bobby Sands died on hungerstrike, it was then he began to see the injustice towards Irish people who were suffering inside and outside of the jails. John carried the wreaths at the funerals of the Hungerstrikers Joe Mc Donnell and Micky Devine. He became involved with Friends of Palestine Belfast after the Mavi Marmara was attacked in May of 2010. John’s biggest wish is to see the illegal blockade lifted so the Palestinian people can live in peace and freedom.

Charlie McMenamin (Derry) is a member of Derry Friends of Palestine and works as a community volunteer in the Gasyard Centre supporting local community and its ongoing development. He also works with tar abhaile, a well-established ex-prisoners group, supporting former prisoners of war. Having successfully won a major case against the British Government in 2007 after being tortured at the age of 16 years, Charlie draws on his experiences as a teenager in helping the peace building processes that are ongoing locally in other parts of the North of Ireland. As part of Charlie’s work, in 2008 he and several work-mates went on a study visit to Israel and Palestine. Having met up with people from both sides, Charlie became convinced that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people were wrong and unjust. Charlie promised at the time that he would help out those most in need when he returned to Ireland, and now sees his going on the Irish ship to Gaza as part of that promise to help. His goal is to let the world know that there is a dire need for medical intervention in Gaza due to the lack of proper medical supplies.

Philip McCullough (Belfast) is a journalist with the Belfast Media Group. Because of his experience of conflict in Northern Ireland he would like to help the Palestinians obtain some peace in their lives. He believes that an initiative such as Freedom Flotilla 2 is vital to make the world pay attention to the pain of the people of Gaza. He is a member of the Glencree Peace and Reconciliation Organisation and has traveled on a project with the group to South Africa.

Hussein Hamed (Dublin/Libya) is a Libyan and Irish citizen and was an independent candidate in the last general election for Dublin South. His program for election included protecting the rights of senior citizens and the more vulnerable sections of Irish society. He is particularly interested in building relationships among different ethnic groups.


Great Ronnie Kasirils Interview


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Criminalising Palestinian solidarity


Campaigning against Israeli apartheid has resulted in 23 Palestinian solidarity activists facing US federal grand jury.

Maureen Murphy


Palestinian solidarity activists making their voices heard are alleged to be supporting ‘terrorism’, as if an entire nation of people can be generalised as criminals [GALLO/GETTY]

The United States government has criminalised the Palestinian people, and now it is increasingly treating US citizens who stand in solidarity with Palestine as criminals as well – including those courageously putting their lives on the line to break the siege on Gaza.

I am a Palestine solidarity activist in the US, and one of 23 US citizens who have been issued with a subpoena to appear before a federal grand jury as part of what the government has said is an investigation into violations of the laws banning material support to foreign “terrorist organisations”.

None of us have given money or weapons to any group on the State Department’s foreign terrorist organisation list. But what many of us have done is participate in or help organise educational trips to meet with Palestinians and Colombians resisting the US-funded military regimes they live under.

The goal of these trips is to learn about the human rights violations happening in these places and to bring those stories back home to the US, to educate people and to organise to change US foreign policy for the better.

Warranting an investigation

Travel for such purposes should be protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. But a year ago the US Supreme Court decided in Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project to dramatically expand the government’s definition of what constitutes material support for a foreign terrorist organisation.

Now the government considers travel to places like the West Bank and Colombia to be a predicate or justification for opening up an investigation and issuing search warrants to raid activists’ homes and seize their belongings. Political speech if made in a “coordinated way” can be construed as material support.

Travel to Colombia was the initial pretext for the investigation into the 23 of us, but it expanded to travel to Palestine. This was confirmed with the recent discovery of files accidentally left behind by the FBI in one of the homes raided last September.

The file includes dozens of questions that the FBI wanted to pose to activists – many of them focused on travel to Palestine and Colombia, two asking activists to name every person they know who has ever travelled to the Middle East or South America.

Civil liberties groups including the Center for Constitutional Rights have decried Holder v. HLP because it imposes guilt on people by association and criminalises “activities like distribution of literature, engaging in political advocacy, participating in peace conferences, training in human rights advocacy, and donating cash and humanitarian assistance, even when this type of support is intended only to promote lawful and non-violent activities”.

The investigation into the 23 of us is viewed by many as a test case for Holder vs. HLP. Conviction of a violation of the material support laws means a prison sentence of up to 15 years – and what happens with our case will set a precedent for many social justice movements in the US. But it will particularly – and perhaps more immediately – impact Palestine solidarity activists who campaign to end US aid to Israel and in support of the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Palestine solidarity movement in the US at risk

The Palestine Solidarity Movement has gained significant ground in the US in the past few years. Consciousness of the oppressive nature of the Israeli apartheid regime has been raised in the wake of Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon – when the phrase “Dahiyeh doctrine” was coined to describe Israel’s wholesale destruction of civilian infrastructure. The winter 2008-09 invasion and air attacks on the trapped civilian population in the Gaza Strip further exposed Israel’s cruelty, and the execution of nine humanitarians aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla last year showed that Israel knows no bounds – and that the impunity it enjoys needs to end before the next massacre is perpetrated.

Activists in the US play a key role in efforts to bring Israel’s war crimes and occupation to an end, as the US government bankrolls the Israeli military with our tax dollars, and shields Israel from accountability through diplomatic bullying and the veto at the UN Security Council.

For these reasons, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in the US, while still young, is especially significant. The movement is rooted in a rights-based approach and aims to compel Israel to respect international law.

Such efforts to hold Israel to account are viewed as enough of a threat that the US State Department this month reiterated its commitment to “counter head-on efforts of de-legitimisation” regarding Israel.

“Our diplomatic engagement with Israel in multilateral affairs is rooted in a core commitment by President Obama,” the State Department’s Esther Brimmer told Zionist thinktank Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“President Obama and this administration have worked tirelessly, in both word and deed, across the UN system, to ensure that Israel’s legitimacy is beyond dispute and that Israel has the opportunity to contribute fully to all institutions to which it belongs,” she added.

Siege-breaking activists may be next

It is US policy to block Palestinians from all avenues to justice at the UN level, by foiling the Goldstone report on war crimes in the Gaza Strip or preventing any censure of Israel for last year’s massacre of flotilla activists. But this week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has given Israel the green light to attack the second Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

The State Department also issued a statement on the second flotilla– which will include approximately fifty Americans – in which it warned that “delivering or attempting or conspiring to deliver material support or other resources to, or for the benefit of, a designated foreign terrorist organisation, such as Hamas, could violate US civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration”.

Hamas, which is the ruling party in the Gaza Strip and which won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in 2006, is on the US State Department’s unilateral foreign terrorist organisation list – along with every other major Palestinian political party besides Fatah (though its armed wing is on the list). This means that the US has essentially criminalised the entire Palestinian people and the parties which represent them – except for those that collude with the Israeli occupation.

The State Department’s foreign terrorist organisation list is a politically motivated register, not reviewed by any court, and inclusive of pretty much every liberation movement resisting regimes bankrolled and supported by the United States.

Prosecution for violations of the material support law is also blatantly political. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey (John Ashcroft’s successor), former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and a former homeland security secretary and national security advisor are (as far as I know) not being investigated for material support for foreign terrorist organisations after they spoke in support of an Iranian opposition group on the state department’s list at a conference organised by the group last year.

Obama on the wrong side of history

It is also not lost on any of the 23 of us whose freedom is on the line that, had this material support statute been in place when President Obama was an anti-apartheid campus divestment activist, he too would have been vulnerable to prosecution.

At the height of the South Africa anti-apartheid movement, the US State Department designated as a foreign terrorist organisation the African National Congress – the party led by Nelson Mandela (he founded its armed wing) and which guided the solidarity movement in the US. Mandela was only removed from US “terrorism watch list” in 2008, aged 89.

Now that the international movement to bring apartheid in Palestine to an end has claimed more and more victories, Israel finds itself increasingly isolated. Just as the US was amongst the last to support apartheid in South Africa, it will be among the last to support apartheid in Palestine up to the bitter end – and those who oppose it will face an increasing backlash.

While President Obama, who wrote the introduction to Mandela’s most recent autobiography, was on the right side of history when it came to apartheid in South Africa, he is on the wrong side of today’s anti-apartheid struggle. Furthermore, US citizens who have dedicated their lives to fighting for what is right are being criminalised on his watch.

Maureen Clare Murphy is managing editor of The Electronic Intifada and a Palestine solidarity activist based in Chicago.

You can follow her on Twitter: @Maureen_70

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

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Dorothy Online Newsletter



Dear Friends,

Much too much to read tonight, even after omitting ½ a dozen articles.  But the situation is such that there is much info that you really should have.

Ok.  Down to business.  Should Israel be worried?  Item 1 tells us that the US has decided to resume relations with the Muslim Brotherhood.  Is Hamas next in line?  I doubt it.  The signs don’t point that way.  But who knows.  Perhaps Obama will surprise us.

Items 2 and 3 are about a single subject: Britain’s incarceration of Sheikh Raed Salah.

In 2, Haneen Zoabi argues that by arresting the Sheikh,  “the UK authorities support the persecution of Arab citizens of Israel.”  This is not to say that she agrees with Raed Salah’s views, but she defends his right to have them.

In 3 the issue is England’s righgt to arrest the Sheikh.  Since even in Israel, though it detests the Islamic movement whose northern branch he heads, but has nevertheless not outlawed the organization, what right has England to arrest its leader.

Item 4 continues the series on sports with a piece on an Israeli Palestinian soccer team, Bnei Sakhnin soccer club.  It’s entitled ‘Coexistence Costs Money.’

Item 5 says that Israel is no place for Bedouins.  There is much truth to that.  In fact, if Israel’s leaders (and much of its population) could get rid of all Palestinians here they would.  It’s heart breaking to read what these people go through!

Items 6, 7, 8 are about the flotilla.  Disgusting!  6 informs us that the Irish ship was sabotaged, and in such a way that had it set sail, it would have sunk, very likely taking all its passengers with it.  Israel is the probable culprit.  Item 7 is about a YouTube in which a person who supposedly wished to participate in the flotilla was rejected because he is Gay.  The video was discovered to be a hoax.  But even before the discovery, a participant in the flotilla who is himself Gay denies that anyone was rejected on such grounds.  Item 8 relates that the Israeli navy intends to deploy 2 boats with operating rooms. Who do they expect to perform surgery on? Soldiers or passengers?

In item 9 Gideon Levy says it all in the title of his piece: “Israel has become a society of force and violence.”  I would only say that it became such from its establishment.

Item 10 is kind of amusing, at least it is in a lighter vein than all the preceding.  Carl Strenger tells Zionists to relax. Actually, he brings up the 2002 (and again in 2007) Arab League offer that the Israeli government did not so much as sniff. It never responded to an offer that included full recognition by all the Arab states in the area, and normalization of relations. The catch was that Israel had to pull back to the 1967 green line.  But Israel’s leaders are not willing to give up a centimeter of land!  Land not life, land not a future, land land and more land is what Israel’s leaders want.

Items 11 and 12 are links, the former to the PACBI  newsletter, which this time has some positive news, the latter to ‘Today in Palestine’ for June 29.

I had a phone call at 11:00 PM (about an hour ago) that a village had received notification from the military that it intends to confiscate a goodly portion of its lands.  That means that more farmers will no longer have land on which to farm!  Maybe tomorrow this, too, will be in ‘Today in Palestine.’

Wish that I could bring you good news.



1.  Ynet,

June 30, 2011

Pursuing US interests. Obama Photo: AP

US to resume Muslim Brotherhood ties

Analysts say growing clout of Islamist party, which doesn’t recognize Israel, leaves US little choice,7340,L-4089220,00.html


The United States has decided to resume formal contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, a senior US official said on Wednesday, in a step that reflects the Islamist group’s growing political weight but that is almost certain to upset Israel and its US backers.

“The political landscape in Egypt has changed, and is changing,” said the senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It is in our interests to engage with all of the parties that are competing for parliament or the presidency.”

The official sought to portray the shift as a subtle evolution rather than a dramatic change in Washington’s stance toward the Brotherhood, a group founded in 1928 that seeks to promote its conservative vision of Islam in society.

Under the previous policy, US diplomats were allowed to deal with Brotherhood members of parliament who had won seats as independents – a diplomatic fiction that allowed them to keep lines of communication open.

Where US diplomats previously dealt only with group members in their role as parliamentarians, a policy the official said had been in place since 2006, they will now deal directly with low-level Brotherhood party officials.

There is no US legal prohibition against dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood itself, which long ago renounced violence as a means to achieve political change in Egypt and which is not regarded by Washington as a foreign terrorist organization.

But other sympathetic groups, such as Hamas, which identifies the Brotherhood as its spiritual guide, have not disavowed violence against the state of Israel.

The result has been a dilemma for the Obama administration. Former officials and analysts said it has little choice but to engage the Brotherhood directly, given its political prominence after the Feb. 11 downfall of former President Hosni Mubarak.

Stirring up demons

US President Barack Obama will surely face criticism for engaging with the Brotherhood, even tentatively.

Howard Kohr, executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, made clear the pro-Israel group’s deep skepticism about the group in a speech last month.

“While we all hope that Egypt emerges from its current political transition with a functioning, Western-oriented democracy, the fact is the best-organized political force in Egypt today is the Muslim Brotherhood – which does not recognize Israel,” Kohr said.

Former US diplomats said the United States had to engage with the Brotherhood given its influence in Egypt.

“We cannot have a free and fair election and democracy unless we are going to be willing to talk to all the people that are a part of that democracy,” said Edward Walker, a former US ambassador to Egypt and Israel who now teaches at Hamilton College.

“It’s going to stir up demons,” he added. “You have got an awful lot of people who are not very happy with what the roots of the Brotherhood have spawned … There will be people who will not accept that the Brotherhood is of a new or different character today.”

Egypt’s parliamentary elections are scheduled for September and its military rulers have promised to hold a presidential vote by the end of the year.


2,  The Guardian,

29 June 2011

An Israeli trap for BritainIn arresting Sheikh Raed Salah, the UK authorities support the persecution of Arab citizens of Israel

Haneen Zoabi,

Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, has been arrested in Britain. Photograph: Pavel Wolberg/EPA

The decision to ban the Palestinian leader Sheikh Raed Salah from entering Britain, and then to arrest him, was transparently not based on any serious examination of his political activities. It was an ugly kneejerk response to the growing hostility of the Israeli establishment and its supporters abroad towards anyone opposing its racist policies – and a rising tide of Islamophobia in Europe.

Salah is head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, and three times elected mayor of the Palestinian town of Umm el-Fahm. He and I represent different political organisations and traditions. But there are no legal or legitimate reasons to pursue him. The Israeli persecution of him has recently intensified, as have its attacks on leaders of Palestinian citizens of Israel more generally.

So have its demands that those of us struggling for equality recognise Israel as an ethnically or religiously defined Jewish state. There is no other meaning to a “Jewish state” except the recognition of the legitimacy of granting privileges to Jews in Israel at the expense of Palestinian citizens, annulling the legitimacy of our struggle for real democracy.

Because I took part in the first freedom flotilla to break the illegal and inhuman siege of Gaza, the Israeli establishment has waged a propaganda campaign against me, accusing me of “terrorism”, and demanding the withdrawal of my parliamentary immunity and citizenship. This will be difficult to implement, but it threatens my political legitimacy and defines me as a “risk”.

This is what is now happening with Salah. Unable to produce any legal evidence, the Israeli establishment and its supporters in Britain accuse him of antisemitism. Salah has rebutted the fabricated allegations behind these claims and instructed his lawyers to begin legal action against those repeating them.

It appears that the charge of antisemitism is being used as a way of suppressing criticism of Israeli policies. Since when has the struggle for equality become a form of racism? Since when have states that boast of their democratic credentials acquired the right to arrest people for their political views?

The British authorities cannot give one legal reason for Salah’s arrest. His statements against Israeli policies are no stronger than those made by many Israeli leftwingers and humanitarians. But it seems that the British government has bowed to pro-Israel pressure even when it comes to its home affairs.

By arresting and threatening to deport Salah, the British government is denying Palestinians in Israel the right to speak for themselves and make their case to the international community in what is universally understood to be one of the most combustible conflicts in the world. That is why the condemnation of the British government’s action by Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament has been so strong.

Palestinian Israelis are simultaneously part of the Palestinian people and citizens of Israel. Israel established itself in our land, and Israeli citizenship has no meaning for us unless we have equal citizenship to Israeli Jews and unless it permits our campaign for equality. This is what we, and Salah, are doing.

Pro-Israel organisations in Britain and elsewhere are manipulating growing European Islamophobia to discredit us by falsely portraying the democratic Palestinian struggle against racism and discrimination in Israel as antisemitic.

Palestinians experience this Israeli propaganda every day, but we can compare it to the daily racist reality. It is our land that Israel confiscates: 82% so far. We do not have the right to use it. It has constructed 600 Jewish cities and villages and hundreds of Jewish housing communities, which by law we do not have the right to reside in. It is our homes that get demolished, our history that is rewritten. It is we who are separated from our families and excluded from services, education and jobs.

The British authorities have fallen into an Israeli trap. Instead of supporting our leaders and their campaign for freedom and democracy, they are supporting Israeli persecution of the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Until now, Palestinian citizens of Israel have been struggling for our political rights in our country, and confronting Zionist racism inside Israel. But now it seems we have to confront Zionist racism abroad as well.

The pro-Israeli lobby must not be allowed to determine politics in Britain. Palestinians in Israel see the arrest of Salah by the British authorities as backing Israeli policies against us. We ask the British people to reject this, not to allow Israeli racism to inform them and support instead our just demands for democracy in our own land.


3. The Guardian,

29 June 2011

Sheikh Raed Salah: Islamic Movement leader loathed by the Israeli right

Salah’s organisation is disliked – but legal – in Israel, so why has the UK government objected to his presence?

Ian Black, Middle East editor,

Sheikh Raed Salah leads Israel’s Islamic Movement, the political importance of which has risen in recent years. Photograph: Sebastian Scheiner/AP

Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel and veteran mayor of one of the country’s largest Arab towns, stands at one of the most sensitive junctures of the Middle East conflict.

As a citizen of Israel, he heads an organisation which is legal but disliked, doubtless monitored by the government, and loathed by the right as embodying the growing militancy of parts of the Arab minority – 20% of the whole population.

The Islamic Movement campaigns for the rights of those citizens who refer to themselves as the “Arabs of 1948” – those left behind while 700,000 others became refugees when Israel was founded. It fights discrimination and campaigns for the right of Palestinian refugees to return, as well as against house demolitions and expulsions in Jerusalem.

Salah has been jailed for raising money for Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organisation by Israel. In 2010 he served a five-month prison term for assaulting a policeman. But accusations of antisemitism and homophobia have largely emanated from the UK.

Attempts have been made to outlaw the Islamic Movement for incitement but they always failed in Israel’s high court. Its political importance has risen in recent years as prospects for a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict have receded and Palestinians have adopted more explicitly anti-Zionist positions that call for a “one-state” solution under which – under current demographic trends – Jews would no longer constitute a majority.

Ideologically, the movement is close to the Muslim Brotherhood. It preaches social conservatism, observance of sharia law, charity and resisting the influence of western culture. Salah’s visit to the UK was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Middle East Monitor, which promotes Islamist causes and focuses on the Palestinians. Both say he rejects accusations of antisemitism.

The real question about the episode is this: if Salah is tolerated in Israel, why did the UK government object to his presence?


4.  Haaretz,

June 30, 2011

Coexistence costs money

I took responsibility for the Bnei Sakhnin soccer club because I knew what the club’s potential was. I came in the belief that through soccer I can advance the interests of both the Arab population and myself.

By Mazen Ghnaim

I took responsibility for the Bnei Sakhnin soccer club because I knew what the club’s potential was. I came in the belief that through soccer I can advance the interests of both the Arab population and myself.

The potential was enormous: the media, the countrywide exposure, a stage from which to deliver a message for the good of the Arab population and advance my personal interests. I didn’t hesitate to mix politics with sports, but I tried to steer developments toward the important goals.

The road was not an easy one, and was riddled with difficult challenges. At first it was practically impossible to sign Jewish players to Sakhnin. I wanted to promote coexistence and show that there is a way to live in peace and brotherhood. Soccer provided suitable turf, but the results didn’t come immediately. Jewish players did not rush to sign for Sakhnin. In their eyes, Sakhnin was a poor, hostile Arab village, not a respectable place to be seen in.

Once I managed to convince a Jewish player to join the team, his parents and those around him would get involved and express their reservations. My dream was to form a team that represents coexistence, equality and mutual respect.

I saw myself as an ambassador of the Arab public in Israel, and did not give up. I knew that once the first ones arrived, others would follow. I just had to break the stigma.

Today, after a lot of hard work, Jewish players no longer think twice before signing for Bnei Sakhnin. Jews and Arabs have demonstrated that a different way is possible – we can be good neighbors, set common goals, celebrate moments of joy, and be disappointed and cry together during crises. That is the big source of my pride. Once, people would tell me that Sakhnin is an Arab village near Carmiel. Soccer put the city on the map, and that’s something that cannot be taken away from Sakhnin.

But there’s a long way to go before we can sit back and relax. Years after Sakhnin became a symbol of the Israeli Arab population and a regular in the Premier League, sponsors and investors are not still knocking on the club’s doors.

This failure is mine. I had hoped that investors, whether Jews or Arabs, would jump on the idea and sign up to take the club to the top. But the threat of relegation looms over the team every year, professional and economic struggles to survive are the club’s lot, and the distress is almost unbearable. I expected at least the wealthy members of our community to offer a hand, but I was proved wrong. It was difficult to topple this wall.

Arab investors didn’t have to look to Israeli businessman and former soccer player Ya’akov Shahar, who came in as a primary sponsor and, through soccer, became well-known in the business world. They should have looked to me, and understood the benefits soccer could bring. Without my years with the soccer team, I would not have been elected as Sakhnin’s mayor. The club opened doors and gave me the exposure that I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. Doors were opened to many people, to politicians and government ministers. I even got as far as the prime minister.

Maybe a Jew will be chosen to pick up the gauntlet. He will be loved by the Israeli Arab community, just as Arcadi Gaydamak’s contribution is still remembered. I just hope someone will come soon, Inshallah.

The author is the mayor of Sakhnin and the former chairman of the Bnei Sakhnin soccer club.


5.  Al Jazeera,

29 Jun 2011 11:34

Israel: No Place for Bedouin

Bedouin living in the Negev desert often lack even basic services, something Israel appears to promote

Jillian Kestler-DAmours EmailPrintShareSend Feedback

Bedouin Arabs living in the Negev desert are being forced off their grazing lands into towns and villages that lack clean water, sanitation, electricity, and other basic services [GALLO/GETTY]

Ibrahim al-Atrash lifts the cover to a large, copper water tank. “Rust,” he says, pointing to the discolored rim. Moments later, one of al-Atrash’s children fills a pink, plastic jug with water that slowly trickles out from the container’s spout.

This is how the al-Atrash family – and the over 4,500 residents of al-Atrash, a so-called “unrecognized” Bedouin village in the Israeli Negev (Naqab) desert, which is named after the tribe – gets water: through a series of pipes connecting individual tanks to a central water system over 5 kilometers away.

“We don’t have any options. We’re obliged to drink from the containers and it’s not healthy. It causes a lot of health problems because sometimes there are holes in the pipe, water pressure issues, and lots of things,” says Ibrahim, who heads the al-Atrash village council.

Ibrahim explains that it cost him nearly 50,000 Israel sheckels (approximately US$14,500) to dig up the land in order to hook his pipes up to the water system. Despite the investment, the system is far from perfect; the water freezes in the winter and is boiling hot in the summer, water pressure is low and often there isn’t enough water to satisfy an entire family’s needs.

“We don’t have water here to drink. It’s hot here [in the Negev]. The minimum thing is to give us water so that our children can drink,” he says.

Today, nearly half of the entire Bedouin population in the Negev – approximately 80,000 people – lives in 45 Bedouin villages that are unrecognized by the Israeli government. Despite being Israeli citizens, the state views the Bedouin residents of these villages as illegal squatters and does not provide them with basic services or infrastructure, including electricity, water, sewage systems, roads, schools or hospitals.

On June 5, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled on an appeal filed five years ago on behalf of 128 Bedouin families living in six different unrecognized villages, including al-Atrash, who asked to be connected to the area’s water distribution network.

The court ruled that three villages – Gatamat, Umm el-Hieran, and Tel Arad – must be provided with an unspecified “minimum access to water” but rejected in part the claims of three other villages – al-Atrash, Tel al-Maleh, and Tla’ Rashid – since it stated that these villages already had reasonable access to water.

While the court stated that the right to water is a constitutional right for all Israeli citizens, including the Bedouins, “because it stems directly from the constitutional right to life and the right to dignity and equality,” it failed to specify what constitutes a fair minimum of water for the villages the state deems illegal.

Further, its ultimate conclusion dangerously adopted the official Israeli solution with regards to the so-called Bedouin “problem” – that the Bedouins of the unrecognized Negev villages should be moved into government-planned townships.

A history of Bedouin transfer

This, of course, has been the Israeli government’s plan all along, and has been promoted through various means since the state began building the first three Bedouin urban centers – Tel al-Sabe (Tel Sheva), Rahat and Kseife – in the early 1960s. Today, seven government-planned, Bedouin towns exist in the Negev, including the largest, Rahat, which holds over 50,000 residents.

These towns are the poorest in the entire country and lack basic services, including schools, complete sewage systems, banks, libraries and employment opportunities. They are largely seen as dormitory towns – people only sleep there and must go outside for anything else they need – and most importantly, the towns fail to take into account Bedouin culture and way of life, which is agricultural and deeply rooted in the land.

Today, the extremely difficult conditions prevalent in unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev is being used as an excuse to promote the urbanization of the Bedouin population. This effort comes despite the fact that the Bedouins have lived on their lands (considered state lands by the Israeli government) for generations, and despite the reality that the sub-par conditions in the townships mean that there is no real incentive for the Bedouins to leave their communities, despite being unrecognized.

“The court took for granted that these people are land squatters when in fact, they are not. This is very, very problematic,” explained Sawsan Zaher, a lawyer with Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, which represented the villagers in their appeal to the Supreme Court. “[It] does not take into consideration that the Bedouins are living on their own lands, many of them before 1948, and many of them were moved onto the lands that they are living [on now] by an order by the [Israeli] military commander.”

Prior to and during the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, approximately 85 percent of the Bedouin population in the Negev was expelled from their lands to surrounding territories, including the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan and Egypt. Of the original 95 Bedouin tribes that inhabited the area, only 19 remained.

According to Ismael Abu Saad, the founder of the Bedouin Studies Center at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, after Israeli military rule was imposed on the entire Palestinian population that remained in the territory now known as Israel, the Bedouins of the Negev were deprived of the ability to travel with their herds and cultivate their lands.

In addition, 12 of the 19 remaining tribes were forcibly displaced from their lands and confined to a restricted area in the northeastern Negev, which they could only leave with a special permit. Known as the Siyag, this area covered only ten percent of the land the Bedouins controlled prior to 1948, and was known for its low fertility.

“These restrictions represented a form of forced sedentarization, which virtually ended their traditional way of life,” Abu Saad wrote in a paper titled, “Defining the ‘Other’ as the Enemy: the Indigenous Palestinian Bedouin in Israel”. As most of the Bedouins of the Negev were forced into the Siyag and were therefore not occupying their original lands, they lost ownership claims to land that they had used for generations.

After Israel had expropriated 93 percent of the lands in the Negev for Jewish settlement, the state’s next priority was the forced urbanization of the Bedouins. “We should transform the Bedouins into an urban proletariat–in industry, services, construction and agriculture. 88 percent of the Israeli populations are not farmers, let the Bedouins be like them,” stated Israeli military leader Moshe Dayan in 1963.

“Indeed, this will be a radical move which means that the Bedouin would not live on his land with his herds, but would become an urban person who comes home in the afternoon and puts his slippers on. His children would be accustomed to a father who wears trousers, does not carry a Shabaria [traditional Bedouin knife] and does not search for vermin in public. This would be a revolution, but it may be fixed within two generations. Without coercion but with government direction, this phenomenon of the Bedouins will disappear,” Dayan said.

Ethnic cleansing continues slowly

The Judaization of the Negev has been a priority for Israeli leaders since before the state was even founded. In 1937, David Ben-Gurion, who would go on to be Israel’s first Prime Minister, wrote in a letter to his son: “Negev land is reserved for Jewish citizens whenever and wherever they want. We must expel the Arabs and take their place.”

Over 60 years later, not much has changed. Indeed, in 2005, the Israeli government publicly stated its goal to strengthen Jewish settlement in the region and increase the population by 70 percent by 2015, up to 900,000 residents. As such, virtually every Jewish development project in the Negev – whether for a kibbutz, agricultural village, individual farm, or city – is immediately given basic services and infrastructure and encouraged to grow, while these same resources remain at unlivable levels in Bedouin communities.

Individual settlements – provided with hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dunums of land for the use of one single Jewish family – have been promoted since 1997 in the Negev. These farms are equipped with basic infrastructure, including vast reserves of water and electricity, and their stated purpose is to safeguard state lands from Arab citizens of the state while ensuring that Jewish Israelis use the most land possible. According to Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the earliest individual settlements were built “without tenders, without clear criteria for distributing the land, without building permits or approvals as required by law, and without examining development and policy needs.”

Not only are projects for the benefit of Israel’s Jewish population promoted without going through the proper legal channels, they are actively pursued at the expense of the Bedouins, who continue to be viewed as a threat by the state. For example, the Israeli planning authorities in the Negev are arrogantly working on plans to completely destroy the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hieran – currently inhabited by 150 families and approximately 1,000 residents – to build a Jewish town, which will be called Hiran, directly on top of it.

In another example, the 300 Bedouin residents of the unrecognized village of al-Araqib have seen their rights trampled in order to make way for a forest sponsored by the Jewish National Fund (JNF). The village has been completely demolished nearly two dozen times, including the most recent demolition on June 21, and JNF bulldozers work the villagers’ lands each day in preparation for planting.

And so while Israel promotes Jewish residential and forestation projects, every Bedouin community in the Negev – whether recognized or unrecognized – struggles to meet the basic needs of its residents, all of whom are citizens of the state.

In this context, it is clear that withholding access to water for the Bedouins – not to mention electricity, schools, healthcare, and virtually all other services – has nothing to do with the legal status of their villages.

Instead, it can be seen as a tactical tool that highlights the deep-rooted, state-sanctioned discrimination and inequality prevalent in the Negev and confirms that the rights of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens will always be sacrificed in the name of preserving Jewish control over all aspects of the state, from the use of land to the allocation of resources.

“Why is recognition in the country’s hands? They say that we are illegal, but then they will build 20 houses for Jews and call it a recognized village. Why do they recognize 20 houses, but not 5,000 people? You can’t recognize us? Give us water, electricity, and streets?” asks Ibrahim al-Atrash, sitting in the shade just outside his family’s home.

“It’s a way to pressure the people. They didn’t agree to give us water as a way to pressure us to give up our lands,” he adds, “But what will they give me in exchange?”

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours is a Canadian freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. She regularly contributes to The Electronic Intifada, Inter-Press Service and Free Speech Radio News. More of her work can be found at

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.


6.  Haaretz,

June 30, 2011

Israel also sabotaged Irish ship, say Gaza flotilla organizers

Activists say Israel sabotaged second flotilla vessel, this time docked in Turkey’s territorial waters, after the propeller of a Greek-Swedish ship was found broken earlier this week.

By Haaretz and Amira Hass

Tags: Gaza flotilla Palestinians

Organizers of the Gaza flotilla said Thursday that Israel has sabotaged the Irish ship “Saoirse,” in the second such sabotage of a flotilla ship this week.

Earlier this week, activists accused Israel of sabotaging the Greek-Swedish ship “Juliano” in Piraeus.

According to an activist, the engine of the Irish vessel was damaged in such a way that would have caused the ship to sink in the middle of the ocean and cause fatalities. The ship was docked at in Turkey’s territorial waters when the tampering occurred.

The flotilla spokesman, Dror Feiler, told Army Radio that he has no proof that Israel was responsible for the damage, but that the state would do everything in its power to prevent the ships from heading to Gaza.

“I saw the damage and it is clear that it was done in a planned and professional way,” he said. “The Israeli government is the only one that could benefit from this.”

The flotilla organizers are expected to hold a press conference Thursday to reveal additional details of the incident.

On Monday, the propeller of the Greek-Swedish ship “Juliano” was found broken, and Gaza flotilla organizers said they believed it was deliberate sabotage by Israel. Due to the vandalism, flotilla participants have organized guard duty rosters for each ship that is due to sail for Gaza. The Juliano was towed for repairs to a shipyard at another port; as of Wednesday, the assessment was that it would require two more days of work.

Moreover, two Port Authority inspectors appeared at the Greek port of Piraeus on Monday and asked to conduct a surprise inspection of the Canadian ship “Tahrir”, after it had already underwent a thorough inspection by the International Naval Surveys Bureau and was said to be ready to sail.

The flotilla’s American ship has not yet been certified as fit to sail, following a complaint last week that it was unseaworthy. But a Canadian ship, which an anonymous complaint also labeled unfit to sail, has been reinspected and received clearance as seaworthy.

Israeli claims that flotilla passengers have stockpiled chemicals and flamethrowers on the ships for use against Israeli forces dispatched to intercept them are being portrayed by the organizers as propaganda warfare. The flotilla steering committee reiterated that every piece of personal luggage being brought on the ships will be inspected.

Speaking to Western media outlets, steering committee members repeatedly quoted the restrictions contained in the rules that every flotilla passenger signed, including a prohibition against initiating contact with soldiers or throwing objects (chemicals included) at them.

Some flotilla participants who are staying in neighborhoods near the ships have reported suspicious activity. For instance, some said they had been mugged on the street at several different locations and that their cell phones had been stolen. There have also been reports of the sudden appearance of “fishermen” near water polluted with gasoline and diesel fuel, fisherman who had neither bait nor buckets. Even without a background in intelligence, the delegates have concluded that the strange fisherman have more to do with the flotilla than with fish. The baitless anglers have already become the subject of jokes among flotilla participants.

The flotilla organizers said in the last few days that ten ships would sail to Gaza, although the number is expected to be lower, and are keeping the departure date secret.



29 June 2011

The hoax video blog and the plot to smear a Gaza aid mission

By Catrina Stewart in Jerusalem

A bizarre video where a gay activist claims he was prevented from taking part in the upcoming Gaza-bound flotilla because of his sexual orientation has been exposed as an Israeli hoax.

It appears to be the latest in a dirty-tricks campaign that includes sabotage and legal challenges orchestrated by groups seeking to derail and discredit efforts by activists to sail into Gaza’s waters to challenge Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian territory.

In the three-minute clip originally posted by an Israeli government employee, a man calling himself Marc Pax says he has a “heartbreaking” story to share about his efforts to join the Freedom Flotilla II, a 10-ship convoy of about 350 activists, who include European politicians, writers and an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor.

He said that his vision of activists as “a cross between Che Guevara and Mother Teresa in a keffiyeh [Arab headscarf]” were quickly disabused when his request to participate was rebuffed because he was gay, prompting him to take a closer look at the groups involved.

He goes on to identify groups such as Viva Palestina and IHH, the Turkish organisers of last year’s flotilla, as sympathetic to Hamas, the Gaza overlords which he blasts as a homophobic group that runs roughshod over basic human rights. “These are the people the flotilla groups are hugging,” he says.

The video was released as activists prepare to commemorate the events of a year ago when Israeli marines mounted a bungled raid on the Gaza-bound sea convoy, killing nine Turkish activists. Israel’s actions were widely condemned and it was pressured into partially easing its blockade of Gaza, imposed four years ago to weaken Hamas. The International Committee of the Red Cross has described Israel’s policy as “collective punishment”. Israel has adopted a different approach this year, focusing its efforts on persuading governments to stop their citizens from taking part, and IHH, the driving force behind last year’s event, has withdrawn its ship, the Mavi Marmara.

But it appears that wildcat groups, possibly with Israel’s official backing, are also trying to stop the flotilla. Bloggers first became suspicious of the supposedly amateur video by its slick production and heavy promotion by Israeli government bodies on Facebook and Twitter. Within hours, they had exposed Marc Pax as one Omer Gershon, an Israeli actor living in Tel Aviv.

The video was originally posted on Twitter by Guy Seeman, an intern working in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. Israel’s press office and the foreign ministry both linked to it following his post. Once the video was revealed as a hoax, the press office apologised, saying it had been “duped”, and the foreign ministry removed the link from its Twitter feed. Mr Netanyahu’s office said that Mr Seeman’s actions were “without authorisation and without approval”.

Israel has increased its rhetoric against the flotilla in recent days. Domestic media have cited officials saying at least two passengers have links to Hamas, regarded by Israel as a terrorist group. The activists say that they have signed a pledge of non-violence.

The flotilla had been expected to set sail early this week, but boats moored at a Greek port near Athens have been hit by a series of mishaps. Activists on a boat taking Greek, Swedish and Norwegian passengers said their propeller shaft had been sabotaged, preventing the vessel from leaving on time. They blamed the damage on Israel’s “secret services or special forces”.

An Israeli legal group called Shurat HaDin has also delayed the departure of at least one ship, the Audacity of Hope, by informing the Greek authorities that it was not seaworthy, obliging port authorities to inspect it. Activists claimed it had earlier been cleared to sail.

Two French ships have already left a Corsica port, and an Irish ship is also en route to the Mediterranean. Activists in Greece say they hope to leave later this week.



June 30, 2011

Gaza flotilla activists: Queers welcome aboard aid ships

John Greyson, Canadian Gaza flotilla activist, responds to recent YouTube video claiming homosexuals are not welcome on board the flotilla; tells Haaretz video is a ‘ridiculously transparent attempt to vilify the flotilla’.

By Amira Hass

Tags: Gaza flotilla Palestinians Middle East peace

John Greyson, a Canadian film director and Gaza flotilla activist told Haaretz in an interview that homosexuality is not a barrier to participating in the upcoming voyage, and in fact he and other flotilla participants have created an “unofficial queer caucus” on board the ship.

Greyson’s remarks come in light of a recent YouTube video in which a man related to viewers that Gaza flotilla organizers told him that he could not take part in the mission because he is a homosexual.

The video, nearly three minutes long, featured a young man who called himself Marc and claimed to be a gay and human rights activist. The man recounted a story in which he asked the organizers of the upcoming Gaza flotilla to join their mission, and claimed that his request was allegedly denied on the grounds that participation of the gay and lesbian group with which he was affiliated would not serve the flotilla’s “interests”.

Greyson, a 51-year-old Canadian who is gay and has directed many films about queer life, said he was shocked when he heard about the video. “At first I laughed, then I got mad, and then laughed again,” Greyson told Haaretz on board the “Tahrir” ship on Tuesday.

The Canadian director related how not only is he part of what he calls an “unofficial queer caucus” aboard the Tahrir, but every boat participating in the upcoming flotilla has queers.“This is common sense and human nature,” Greyson said, adding “who knows, maybe when we get back there will be more queers.”

“One of the hats that I wear on this boat is ‘queers against Israeli apartheid,'” the Canadian director said. He continued, saying that they have also work with Palestinian homosexuals who have not yet come out entirely.

When asked about the possible validity of the YouTube video, which reports have revealed to be linked to the Prime Minister’s office, a report that it has neither confirmed nor denied, Greyson told Haaretz that it “is another ridiculously transparent attempt to vilify the flotilla.”

Greyson, teaches film at York University in Toronto. In 2009 he canceled a screening of his documentary “Covered” at the Toronto International Film Festival as a protest against the screening of a series of movies about Tel Aviv marking the city’s centennial.


8.  Ynet,

June 30, 2011

Flotilla Watch

INF missile boat (Archives) Photo: Rafi Barbiro

Navy to deploy ‘floating ORs’

As part of military preparations for Gaza flotilla, two missile boats will feature operating rooms,7340,L-4089605,00.html

Hanan Greenberg

The IDF and Navy are on high alert ahead of the nearing Gaza flotilla. Fearing an attempt to stop the sail from reaching the Strip would result in casualties, the military has decided to convert mess halls on two missile boats into operating rooms, in order to treat casualties at sea.

Ynet learned Thursday that the decision stemmed from the lessons learned from the first flotilla and the military’s desire to offer immediate medical attention for the injured – if there are any.

“This is the type of operating room we usually deploy in a state of emergency, like war,” a senior military source told Ynet. “In light of the nature of the flotilla, we have decided it would be best to have this option available.”

The operating rooms have been set up in the mess halls of two missile ships. They will feature a full medical staff, including surgeons and anesthesiologists, and will be fully equipped to perform surgery at sea.

“Surgical procedures at sea are very complex, mostly due to sailing conditions. We would prefer to airlift anyone injured to a hospital, naturally, but if we need to administer life-saving measures we won’t hesitate to do so,” he said.

As part of the military’s preparations for the flotilla, the IDF Medical Corps will deploy medical teams both as sea and at the Ashdod Port, under the supervision of the Chief Naval Medical Officer.

“There are a lot of unknown factors here,” the military source said, “which his why we’ve expanded the issue of control, so we would be able to get a better reading of the situation in real time.”


9.  Haaretz,

June 30, 2011

Israel has become a society of force and violence

What will Israelis think about when they are spoon-fed scary stories about the flotilla, if not about the use of force? Those activists want to kill IDF soldiers? We’ll arise and kill them first.

By Gideon Levy

Are we listening to ourselves? Are we still aware of the awful noise coming from here? Have we noticed how the discourse is becoming more and more violent and how the language of force has just about become Israel’s only official language?

A group of international activists is slated to sail a flotilla to the shores of the Gaza Strip. Many of them are social activists and fighters for peace and justice, veterans of the struggle against apartheid, colonialism, imperialism, pointless wars and injustice. Just stating that is difficult here, since they have already been described as thugs.

There are intellectuals, Holocaust survivors and people of conscience among them. When they fought against apartheid in South Africa or the war in Vietnam, they won admiration for their actions even here. But to say an admiring word now about these people, some of whom are elderly, who are risking their lives and investing their money and time for a goal they see as just, is considered treason. It’s possible that some violent people have intermingled with them, but the vast majority are people of peace, not haters of Israel but those who hate its injustices. They have decided not to remain silent – to challenge the existing order, which is unacceptable to them, which cannot be acceptable to any moral person.

Yes, they want to create a provocation – the only way to remind the world about Gaza’s situation, in which no one takes an interest unless Qassam rockets or flotillas are involved. Yes, the situation in Gaza has improved in recent months, in part because of the previous flotilla. But no, Gaza is still not free – far from it. It has no outlet to the sea or air, there are no exports, and its inhabitants are still partially imprisoned. Israelis who freak out if Ben-Gurion International Airport shuts down for two hours should be able to understand what life without a port is like. Gaza is entitled to its freedom, and those aboard the flotilla are entitled to take action in an effort to achieve this. Israel should be allowing them to demonstrate.

But look at how Israel is reacting. The flotilla was described immediately, by everyone, as a security threat; its activists were classified as enemies, and there was no doubt cast on the ridiculous assumptions that defense officials are making and the press has lapped up eagerly. We haven’t heard the last of the campaign to demonize the previous flotilla, in which Turkish citizens were killed for no reason, yet the new campaign has already begun. It has all the buzzwords: danger, chemical substances, hand-to-hand combat, Muslims, Turks, Arabs, terrorists and maybe some suicide bombers. Blood and fire and pillars of smoke!

The unavoidable conclusion is that there is only one way to act against the passengers aboard the flotilla: by force, and only by force, as with every security threat. This is a recurring pattern: first demonization, then legitimization (to act violently ). Remember the tall tales about sophisticated Iranian weaponry coming through arms-smuggling tunnels in Gaza, or those about how the Strip was booby-trapped? Then Operation Cast Lead came along and the soldiers hardly encountered anything like that.

The attitude toward the flotilla is a continuation of the same behavior. The campaign of scare tactics and demonization is what contributes to the violent rhetoric that is taking over the entire public discourse. For what will Israelis think about when they are spoon-fed scary stories about the flotilla, if not about the use of force? Those activists want to kill Israel Defense Forces soldiers? We’ll arise and kill them first.

Now the politicians, the generals and the commentators are competing with one another over who can provide the most frightening description of the flotilla, who can most inflame the public, who can best praise the soldiers who will save us, and who can deliver the most pompous rhetoric of the kind one would expect before a war. One important commentator, Dan Margalit, has already waxed poetic in his newspaper column: “Blessed are the hands,” he wrote of the hands that sabotaged one of the ships meant to take part in the flotilla. That’s another thuggish and illegal action, one that wins immediate applause here, without anyone asking: By what right?

This flotilla, too, will not get through. The prime minister and the defense minister have promised us this. Once again Israel will show them, those activists, who’s more of a man – who’s strongest and who’s in charge, in the air, on land and at sea. The “lessons” of the previous flotilla have been learned well – not the lessons of the pointless killing or the violent and unnecessary takeover of the ship, but of the humiliation of Israel’s military.

But the truth is the real humiliation lies in the fact that naval commandos were deployed to intercept the ships in the first place, and that is something that reflects on us all: how we have become a society whose language is violence, a country that seeks to resolve nearly everything by force, and only by force.


10.  Haaretz,

June 30, 2011

Zionists, relax, Israel is not on the brink of destruction

Rational thinking is highly unpopular in the Netanyahu government, which seems caught in the belief that catastrophe is on the way.

By Carlo Strenger

Tags: Zionism Benjamin Netanyahu Gaza flotilla Palestinian state 1967 borders

One of the best-known Yiddish expressions is ‘Gevalt, Yiddelech, Gevalt!’, a phrase best translated as ‘catastrophe, Jews, catastrophe!’.

I would suggest that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition officially be named the Gevalt! Government. Listening to the utterances of our ministers, you would come to the conclusion that the State of Israel is about to be erased and the Jewish people are in danger of immediate extinction.

In fact, it is nowadays the bon ton to join the Gevalt! chorus. Those who say that all this panicking is irrational are considered to be unpatriotic. A true Zionist and a good Jew is supposed to be in constant dread and must brace for the ultimate fight for the Masada that Israel has become and that is under threat from everywhere.

Here is another way of looking at Israel’s situation: Israel is quite safe and has a lot of constructive options. Palestinians were never as willing to move ahead toward peace with Israel. In the long run, the new developments in the Arab world are likely to lead to more democracy and stability; Israel still has the option of normalizing its relationships with the Arab world that has now been on the table for almost nine years, through the Arab League Peace Initiative. This is also indicated by a new poll showing that two thirds of Egyptians favor maintaining peace with Israel.

This is not the assessment of some starry-eyed idealist. It is that of the hard-headed and daring former Mossad chief Meir Dagan. The brouhaha that ensued after he gave his assessment showed that the Gevalt! Government is incapable of living with level-headed, calm and rational thought.

While its constant fear-mongering about existential threats is at times almost comic, it unfortunately has the consequence to push Israel from one blunder to the next.

Let’s look at three instances:

One is Netanyahu’s constant warning that the world is delegitimizing Israel’s very existence. Shlomo Avineri, one of Israel’s most senior political scientists with a lot of experience in international relations has pointed out, that this is simply not true.

Except for Iran, its proxies and the extreme fringes of left-wing academia, nobody in the world says that Israel doesn’t have the right to exist: The free world is simply unwilling to put up with Israel’s settlement policy and continuing foot-dragging about a peace agreement with the Palestinians and the Arab world.

It’s rather clear why Netanyahu keeps spreading this disinformation and heating up fear. He can’t survive politically if he does the simple, straightforward thing: continuing negotiations with the Palestinians where the Olmert government stopped.

As the Palestine Papers leaked by Al Jazeera showed, the story that ‘there is no partner’ is ludicrous: The sides were actually rather close to an agreement. But Netanyahu keeps repeating that Palestinians have never accepted Israel’s existence, never mind the evidence to the contrary, because he needs to keep the level of fear high. At this point even his long-time supporter and ally Ron Lauder is getting sick and tired of Netanyahu’s inaction.

The second is the enormous noise that the government is making about the second Gaza flotilla as if it were a real threat to Israel. Stopping the first one was utterly irrational to begin with, and the damage done to Israel’s already shaky standing in the world was considerable.

What on earth will be the damage if the flotilla lands in Gaza? The overwhelming majority of the world thinks that the blockade on Gaza is inacceptable anyway. A few peace activists showing solidarity with Gaza’s population will cause Israel a lot less damage than another violent confrontation at sea.

But our ministers keep talking about this flotilla as if it were a major military attack endangering Israel. And the Netanyahu government is likely to turn the second flotilla into another major political debacle instead of just letting it pass by.

An interesting and less predictable utterance has come from a minister who generally doesn’t contribute to the general atmosphere of doom. In a panel on conversion, Justice Minister Ya’akov Neeman found it necessary to say that assimilation of world Jewry is fulfilling Hitler’s vision. Neeman pulls the darkest figure of Jewish history to indicate that the Jewish people is about to be wiped out.

Neeman’s statement is quite remarkable in its lack of respect for the vitality of Diaspora Jewry – and its factual falsehood: The most recent census showed that there are actually one million more Jews in the U.S. than the previously assumed figure of 6.25 million.

Jewish life in the US is flourishing in all respects: It is culturally rich; it is religiously diverse, and Jews contribute to all facets of American life, culture and economy. So why does Neeman feel the need to lament the disappearance of the Jewish people?

It seems that the mentality of the Netanyahu government is driving everybody connected to it out of their wits: They actually get to the point where they believe that Israel is under existential threat; that the Jewish people is about to disappear and that only crying Gevalt! means that you are a good Israeli and a good Jew.

This leads us to the final point: Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s statement that Israel is awaiting a ‘diplomatic tsunami’ in September has become something like an accepted truth in Israel, as if UN recognition of a Palestinian state threatens Israel’s existence.

Looking at this calmly one realizes that the maximum that can happen is that the UN will accept Palestine as a full member. This will indeed make Israel’s occupation of the West-Bank, any military presence and settlement activity officially illegal.

But it is quite simply wrong to say that this endangers Israel’s existence. I have argued a number of times in the past that Israel should actually endorse UN recognition of Palestine along the 1967 lines.

Such a UN resolution would give Israel an internationally recognized Western border, for the first time in its history, as Shlomo Avineri has now also pointed out. While this would mean the end of the dream of the greater Israel that quite a few members of Netanyahu’s coalition haven’t given up on, it would also mean the end of Hamas dream of abolishing the state of Israel – and hence would actually increase Israel’s long-term security and legitimacy.

But such rational thinking is highly unpopular in the current government, and it will continue to fight UN recognition, instead of engaging with it in constructive ways.

For those who are sick and tired of hearing ‘Gevalt, Yiddelech, Gevalt!’ and want to see what a constructive Israeli policy could look like, I strongly recommend looking at the Israeli Peace Initiative that includes former IDF Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, General Amram Mitzna, former Mossad Chief Danny Yatom and former heads of the Shin Bet Yaakov Peri and Ami Ayalon.

The voice of reason is there to be heard – one just needs to listen.


11.  PACBI Newsletter for June, 2011

and Bricup welcomes votes at UCU congress.

[BRICUP = British Committee for Universities for Palestine]


12. Today in Palestine

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Dorothy Online Newsletter

A bad day for IsraHelli democracy


Coalition of Women for Peace:

whose campaign we have featured before on this site,

have a new video, and sadly, a new update on the progress of the “Boycott Bill”

working its way through the Israeli Knesset. H/t to ACRI for the blog title, it came

from the subject line of their email alerting us to the passage of this bill and the

news that:

journalists aboard the Gaza Flotilla would be treated as criminals, which the government backed away from.

“Boycott Bill” update, June 27, 2011

A new article was introduced in the Knesset committee hearing today denying

public and non-profit tax status to organizations who “call for boycott.’ Knesset

committee approved bill including new article for final vote. Members of Kadima

party who supported the bill withdrew their support. The bill was heavily criticized

by government officials present at the hearing

Highlights from today’s hearing:

Eilat Maoz, CWP, to committee members:

“We are honored to inform you that even if you pass the bill, we will continue

calling on Israelis to boycott the occupation”

MK Taleb Assana: ”What about the fact that the bill breaches international law

creating de Jure unification of Israel and the OPT?”

MK David Rotem (Chairman of Knesset Committee): “International Law is none of

my interest”

MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima): “{eople who advance this delirious bill are

mindless about the efforts to maintain Israel’s position in the world. You are

robbing Israel of its greatest PR asset, its democracy.”

State’s Attorney’s office: “The bill is shaky and borders illegality”

Foreign Office representative: “The bill might cause serious diplomatic damage

and encourage boycotts”


The bill aims at preventing citizens of Israel from protesting against the occupation

by means of initiating or calling for a boycott. It passed first reading in the Knesset

plenum on March 7, 2011 and has been deliberated today in preparation for a final vote.

The bill defines a call for boycott as a tort, for which the court may rule compensation

without obligation to prove damage. The bill further authorizes the Minister of Finance

to limit the participation of companies that have committed themselves not to work in

illegal settlements in the OPT in state tenders. The bill is one of the most dangerous anti-

democratic laws promoted in this current Knesset. It criminalizes non-violent, legal and

legitimate means to promote social and political aims that are protected in civil rights of

freedom of expression, opinion and assembly. Leading civil society organizations have

joined CWP’s campaign against the bill.

Coalition of Women for Peace: “Right to Resist” Campaign

CWP was present at the Knesset hearing and sent live twitter and facebook updates as

part of its campaign against the bill. CWP is now launching the second phase of the

“Right to Resist” campaign. The campaign consists of four videos starring some of

Israel’s popular artists and cultural figures: singer-songwriter Rona Kenan, filmmakers

Eitan Fox and Gal Ochovsky, the poet Meit Wizeltir, actress Einat Weizman, and cultural

figure Muhammed Jabali.

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on A bad day for IsraHelli democracy

Mondoweiss Online Newsletter



Hacker group ‘Anonymous’ prepares DDOS attack on the Israeli Knesset

Jun 28, 2011


Operation Intifada: Hacker Group Anonymous Prepares For DDOS Attack On Israel Parliament
The latest target of Operation Anonymous, which following the dissolution of LulzSec is the last substantial non-amorphous hacker collective left out there, could lead to some substantial geopolitical fallout. That is because the target of the just announced upcoming DDOS attack is none other than the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, and while Israel has allegedly been happy to dispense hack attacks in the past, the onslaught on the Iranian nuclear power plant courtesy of the Stuxnet virus coming to mind, we doubt it will as happy to be seen on the receiving end of decentralized computer warfare.

Knesset targeted by hackers
Ynet 28 June — “While Israel has allegedly been happy to dispense hack attacks in the past… we doubt it will be as happy to be seen on the receiving end of decentralized computer warfare,” was the announcement that appeared Tuesday on the AnonOps blog which is known to be connected to the Anonymous group. The announcement went on to state that their latest target was “none other than the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset” and that the expected attack would be “over the next 24 hours”.

And more news from Today in Palestine:

Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid

UNESCO censures Israel over Mughrabi Bridge
Ynet 28 June — World Heritage Committee calls on Israel to stop archaeological excavations in Old City. Jerusalem ‘shocked, furious’ over Jordan’s involvement — UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee decided to accept a petition by Jordan and issued an official censure of Israel over the archaeological excavations near the Mughrabi Gate in the Jerusalem’s Old City … Jordan’s petition was also signed by Egypt, Iraq and Bahrain. The decision was carried with a unanimous vote by UNESCO 21-member nations. Australia, Switzerland, Brazil and Mexico voiced their reservations over the strong anti-Israel language used in the resolution, but did not oppose it in the vote.
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Knesset to vote on law forcing Palestinians to pay demolition costs
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 27 June — The Israeli Knesset’s Law Constitution and Justice Committee has passed a draft law forcing Palestinians to cover the costs of home demolitions issued against them without recourse to the courts.  Israeli Radio reported that the committee agreed not to empower the West Bank regional commander to apply the law there, in opposition to the government. The draft will be brought to the Knesset for a second and third reading.

French court decision on Jerusalem light rail must be challenged
EI 27 June — A French court ruling on the construction of a light rail network to service illegal Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem betrays a lack of understanding about how the project abets the Israeli occupation. On 30 May, the High Court of Nanterre dismissed a petition by the France-Palestine Solidarity Association (known by the acronym AFPS) to nullify under French law contracts signed by French transport giants Veolia and Alstom for building a light rail system in Jerusalem. AFPS has until 30 June to appeal the decision. In its petition, AFPS asserted that the Jerusalem light rail project will connect West Jerusalem with Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, normalizing the illegal situation on the ground.
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IOA bulldozes land in Silwan
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 28 June — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) bulldozers leveled land in Wadi Al-Rababa in Silwan near to Bustan suburb south of the Aqsa Mosque. The spokesman for the committee to defend Silwan town, Fakhri Abu Diyab, said that the IOA bulldozers have been working since Monday morning, noting that landmarks in the area along with old trees were all being wiped out in preparation for opening a Talmudic garden and Judaizing the entire area.

IOF soldiers destroy tens of Palestinian olive trees
SALFIT (PIC) 28 June — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) bulldozed tens of Palestinian olive trees in Deir Estiya village west of Salfit city on Tuesday. Nazmi Salman, the village’s mayor, said that the bulldozing took place west of the village and damaged trees that have been planted there for five years. Noting that the land was in the proximity of Revava settlement, Salman said that the step is aimed at evicting the inhabitants then grab their land.
In another area, IOF soldiers started to bulldoze a land lot, which they seized from its owner, south of Al-Khalil city on Monday, local sources said, adding that the land was being prepared to serve as a landing pad for IOF military choppers.

Israeli soldiers uproot 300 olive trees in Salfit
SALFIT (WAFA) 28 June — Israeli soldiers Tuesday razed a large area of land and uprooted 300 olive trees in Deir Istiya, a village in Salfit north of the West Bank, according to the village mayor, Nathmi Salman. Salman said the land belongs to Kamal Abdul-Rahman, a middle-aged Palestinian suffering from heart disease. Israeli soldiers assaulted Abdul-Rahman and prevented him from reaching his land, which necessitated bringing a doctor immediately to treat him.
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Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron reports increase in raids
IMEMC 27 June — Christian Peace Maker Team in Hebron have reported in increase in house raids with the arrival of a new brigade of Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city. The team have stated that night time raids have become a common occurrence in the city “as Palestinians try to live some semblance of a normal life and Israeli Defense Forces prepare for war”. The Team have reported two instances of night time raids on local Palestinian families they say is indicative of the increase in Israeli raids with the change of brigades

Activism / Solidarity

Bil‘in’s next battle: Settlement
Ynet 28 June — Palestinian village decides to build illegally on land ‘liberated’ by successful anti-fence battle — Following the IDF’s dismantling of a separation fence running through Bil‘in, residents of the West Bank village have decided to adopt a new battle. Ynet learned Tuesday that the Popular Committee of Bil‘in will replace its weekly anti-fence protests, which take place Fridays, with the construction of new structures on the land added to the village when the fence was dismantled Sunday. Around 170 acres of land were added [returned!] to the village with the removal of the fence, 130 of which are privately owned Palestinian lands.  It is on this land that the residents plan to construct a new neighborhood, called West Bil‘in. Organizers of the protests against the fence are still fuming, however, at the fact that some 330 acres belonging to the village remain inaccessible, because they lie to the west of the wall that surrounds nearby Israeli towns such as Modi’in.
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Meanwhile in Nabi Saleh: Reflections on the physical and legal assault on nonviolent protesters / Rae Abileah
Mondo 28 June — From the chambers of Congress to the shores of the Mediterranean, non-violent protesters are rising up against the Israeli occupation … the small West Bank village of Nabi Saleh has been struggling without the attention it deserves. …between January 2010 and April 2011, the Israeli Army carried out 73 protest-related arrests, rounding up men, women and children. Two of the arrested are cousins Bassem and Naji Tamimi, main organizers and members of the local Popular Committee.  The Tamimis are key organizers in the Nabi Saleh resistance and have been arrested under the blanketed charge of ‘incitement’, similarly to the case last ofAbdallah Abu Rahmah of Bil‘in who was convicted in an unfair trial and served 16 months in jail. Bassem and Naji were scheduled to appear before a judge yesterday, Monday, June 27th at the Ofer Military Court.  Naji Tamimi took a plea bargain and will be jailed for 12 months, and is barred from organizing protests for five years after his release … Bassem’s court date was postponed until late August because a witness didn’t show up and it looks like he is determined not to take a plea bargain.  Present in court were diplomatic representatives of the UK, the EU and France.

US government moves to criminalize Palestinian solidarity / Maureen
EI 27 June — In an op-ed, published by Al Jazeera English today, I write about the US government’s attempts to criminalize the Palestine solidarity activists — including the State Department’s threats to prosecute activists involved with the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. I also appeared on Al Jazeera English’s The Stream today to discuss FBI raids and subpoenas targeting activists … The use of counterterrorism tools against social justice acts is nothing new. But it poses a special threat to the growing Palestine solidarity movement in the US, which is increasingly challenging the US government’s military aid to Israel and its diplomatic cover for Israeli war crimes and apartheid.
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‘Mohammed is dead’ sprayed on home
Ynet 28 June — Unknown persons sprayed racial slurs and a Star of David on a Palestinian home in the West Bank village of Beit Ilu … Mohammed Raduan, head of the village council, told Ynet that the graffiti was found Tuesday morning. He added that it was not the first time Beit Ilu had been targeted in such a fashion. “They wrote, ‘Mohammed is a pig’ and ‘Mohammed is dead’, as well as ‘Revenge’ and ‘Settlement 18’,” he said. The latter may have been in reference to a recently evacuated settlement near Beit El. g
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Army kidnaps several Palestinians including legislator, journalist, human rights activist
IMEMC 28 June — In Salfit, in the central part of the West Bank, soldiers broke into the home of Dr. Nasser Abdul-Jawad, 46, of the Hamas Change and Reform Parliamentarian Bloc, and kidnapped the elected official.
Furthermore, soldiers kidnapped a journalist in Kufr Qalil village, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Nawwaf Al Amer works with the Al Quds Satellite TV; he was repeatedly kidnapped and imprisoned during the first and the second Palestinian uprisings. He was previously deported to southern Lebanon along with dozens of Hamas political leaders.
In Nablus, in the northern part of the West Bank, the army kidnapped human rights and detainees’ rights activist, Fuad Al Khuffash, head of the Ahrar Center for Detainees’ Studies and Human Rights. Al Khuffash is originally from Marda village, near the central West bank city of Salfit.
Troops also kidnapped Firas Jarrar after breaking into his home in Nablus. Jarrar is a human rights activist who spent 16 years in Israeli prisons.
Soldiers conducted a large-scale arrest campaign in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday at dawn, and kidnapped eleven Palestinians from several villages, towns and refugee camps.
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Israeli army detains Tawjihi students in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 28 June — Israeli army Tuesday detained a number of Palestinian high school students after they finished Tuesday’s session of the Tawjihi exam, the final general secondary examination, in Al Khader, a town south of Bethlehem. Director of Education in Bethlehem governorate, Abdullah Shakarneh, told WAFA that Israeli soldiers stopped the students on their way home after leaving the exam halls and searched them. Shakarneh considered this arbitrary action “a part of the attack on the educational process.” Witnesses said that Israeli soldiers handed a number of the students notices to report at the intelligence services in Etzion settlement south of Bethlehem. Palestinians can be detained for a number of hours or days when they report to Israeli intelligence. If the students are held and prevented from attending Thursday’s Tawjihi exams, they will fail their high school senior year.
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Israeli forces detain 5 Palestinians in Azzun
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 28 June — Israeli forces on Tuesday detained five Palestinians from the northern West Bank town of Azzun after ransacking their homes, witnesses said. Locals said troops raided the town at around 1 a.m. They identified those detained as Samir Sahir Shelo, 13, Ahmad Basim Shbeita, 17, Othman Samir Shelo, 22, Muath Bilal Sweidan, 19, and Yousif Hussein Shbeita, 49. … Israel detained around 20 Palestinians in Azzun in June, most of whom were aged 14 – 23.
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More than a third of Palestinian prisoners denied visitation rights
GAZA (PIC) 28 June — Prisoner affairs expert Abdul-Nasser Farwana has said that more than a third of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons have been denied the right to family visits. Prisoners from the Gaza Strip were denied visits as a ‘collective punishment’ in mid-June of 2007 and others faced the same restrictions for security reasons, he said. He added that the families of those allowed visits are harassed, searched, and treated with brutality ahead of visits, and at times they are even sexually harassed. Farwana said that the restrictions on visits contravene international law, which calls for intervention by international organizations to pressure Israel into restoring visitation rights.

Palestinian prisoners to go on hunger strike en masse
RAMALLAH (PIC) 28 June — More than 6,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation jails have decided to go on a single day hunger strike on 3rd of July to protest the Israeli occupation authority’s repressive policy against them. They said in a statement on Tuesday that the strike would protest the solitary confinement policy and the deprivation of education.

Center: Israel detains prisoners’ rights worker
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 June — Israeli forces on Tuesday detained a prisoners’ rights worker and confiscated his cell phone and computer, a detainees’ center said. The center said Sami Hussein, an employee in the Bethlehem-based organization, was detained during a raid on his home. Hussein has been detained several times and has spent 20 years in Israeli prisons, the center said, adding that he had three children.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said 11 Palestinians were detained across the West Bank overnight.
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Detainee’s mother dies without seeing son
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 June — The mother of a Palestinian detainee died Tuesday without seeing her son for many years, a rights group said. A prisoners’ association said the dying wish of 80-year-old Wadhah Daamsa was to see her son Yahya. Yahya Daamsa, 40, is sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment plus 40 years. Israeli forces detained him on April 7, 2002, and demolished his home in Duheisha refugee camp in Bethlehem. He was accused of making explosive devices to be used in operations inside Israel and membership of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.
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IOA isolates oldest serving prisoner in the world
RAMALLAH (PIC) 28 June — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) isolated the oldest [longest] serving Palestinian and Arab prisoner in its jails Nael Al-Barghouthi for refusing to be strip searched. The Palestinian prisoner’s association said on Tuesday that Barghouthi, who entered his 34th consecutive year in prison last April and is considered the oldest serving prisoner in the world, was moved to the isolation ward after refusing the prison administration’s humiliation of prisoners topped by strip search. [He’s the longest-serving political prisoner in the world according to this site]

Protesters urge Abbas to appoint prisoner in new government
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 June — Spokesman for Palestinian deportees Fahmi Kanaan on Monday urged President Mahmoud Abbas to appoint a detainee as a minister in the upcoming unity government. Kanaan called for the appointment during a speech delivered at a protest organized by the prisoners’ society in Unknown Soldier Square in Gaza City. The protest was held in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to worsen conditions for Palestinians in Israeli prisons in order to pressure Hamas to release captured Israel soldier Gilad Shalit.
The spokesman also condemned the treatment of Palestinians deported to Gaza and Europe after Israel’s siege of the Nativity Church in Bethlehem. Twenty-six Palestinians who took refuge in the church were deported to Gaza and 13 were expelled to Europe following Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, during which Israeli forces besieged the church and Bethlehem in a bid to locate Palestinian combatants.
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PA court sentences 5 Hamas cadres
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 28 June — A Fatah-controlled court in Al-Khalil city on Tuesday passed a one and a half year sentence on five Hamas cadres, including one still held in Israeli jail, in blatant disregard of the reconciliation agreement. The committee of relatives of detainees said on its Facebook page that Nabil Al-Natshe, held in Israeli custody, was among those sentenced. The PA preventive security apparatus was holding those detainees in its jails for the past six months

Gaza – under siege for 1,476 days now

Gaza children send messages to Sderot on kites
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 June — Children in Gaza released kites on Tuesday carrying messages to residents of Sderot across the border in Israel. The kites carried messages urging Israel to end its siege of Gaza. Fourteen-year-old Einas Naim told Ma’an she hoped residents of Sderot would understand the messages … Nine-year-old Muhammad wrote “Gaza is love” on a kite made of a Palestinian flag. “My message to the Israeli residents is that our country has suffered enough destruction,” he said. Coordinator of the initiative Sabir Zaanin said the kites released Sderot were in response to the messages Israeli children wrote on artillery shells which killed dozens of children [Lebanon, 2006]. Sderot was originally built on land belonging to Beit Hanoun, a town in northern Gaza, Zaanin said.
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Gaza woman calls on Qatar Emir to save her husband
GAZA (PIC) 28 June — The wife of Iyad Ali Hassan Salim has called on the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani to open the country’s doors to her husband as he desperately needs treatment … “Despite the many treatments he takes, they put him in a constant state of sleep and have not done away with the convulsions,” she said.  She also explained in an appeal that Salim sustained injuries after an Israeli missile strike on the Gaza Strip in November 2006 that left shrapnel and burns on his body, especially the head. He has lost his right eye and sustained fractures and wounds all over the body.

Gazans head to the beach
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 June — Tourism facilities and entertainment sites in the Gaza Strip are preparing to host and service people from all social classes in Gaza this summer. The vice-chairman of the council of the Palestinian association of restaurants, hotels and tourism services in the Gaza Strip, Samit Skeik, pointed out that Gaza beaches are full of visitors due to the calm weather. Going to the beach in the summer is an important tradition for Gazans. The Israeli siege and restrictions on movement leave Gazans with few options for entertainment; families spend time at the beach as it is one of few respites.
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Limited goods to enter the Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 June — Israeli authorities decided Tuesday to open the Kerem Shalom crossing and allow limited goods and fuel into the Gaza Strip.
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The blockade is illegal no matter what Israel claims
Canadian Boat to Gaza — date? — An expert legal opinion on International Maritime Law and the Gaza blockade — Ambassador Craig Murray is a former Alternate Head of the UK Delegation to the United Nations Preparatory Commission on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.  He was deputy head of the teams which negotiated the UK’s maritime boundaries with France, Germany, Denmark (Faeroe Islands) and Ireland … Ambassador Craig Murray is therefore an internationally recognised authority on maritime jurisdiction and naval boarding issues. His analysis of the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the right of the Gaza flotilla to sail: “The legal position is plain.  A vessel outwith the territorial waters (12 mile limit) of a coastal state is on the high seas under the sole jurisdiction of the flag state of the vessel.  The ship has a positive right of  passage on the high seas.
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Israel to cope with ‘hardcore terror activists’ on flotilla
JERUSALEM (AFP) 28 June — Israel will be able to handle any violence from “hardcore activists” on board a new Gaza-bound flotilla, the foreign minister said Tuesday, amid claims some were planning attacks with chemicals. “The moderate elements who were planning to join the flotilla… know that for everyone who wants to help people in Gaza, that there is a legal way to do it,” Avigdor Lieberman told public radio in a telephone interview from Zagreb. “It is clear that those who are still participating in the flotilla are the hardcore terror activists,” he said … Some 350 pro-Palestinian activists from 22 countries including Canada, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy and Spain are set to join “Freedom Flotilla II” — among them a good number of middle-aged and even elderly Americans and Europeans.
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Gaza flotilla organizer: We have no intention of attacking IDF soldiers
AP/Haaretz 28 June — Israeli officials say passengers may be stowing chemicals on ships to be used against IDF soldiers and have threatened to ‘spill their blood.’ — The organizer of the Gaza-bound flotilla dismissed Tuesday Israeli allegations that extremists aboard the ships plan to harm Israeli soldiers who would be dispatched to stop them. Dror Feiler says the hundreds of people planning to sail soon in a bid to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Palestinian territory have signed a declaration of nonviolence. Feiler told Army Radio on Tuesday that if Israel has information about specific suspects, it should pass it along to flotilla’s organizers.
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US boat rejects Israeli Army allegation of violence
UStoGaza 28 June — Passengers on the U.S. boat to Gaza rejected as ludicrous and provocative an unsubstantiated accusation by the Israeli Army that passengers in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla plan to kill IDF soldiers with chemical weapons. The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday an Israeli Defense Forces allegation that some passengers on the flotilla had prepared sacks of sulfur which they planned to pour on Israeli soldiers … “These spurious claims are merely an attempt to establish a justification to attack us,” said Brad Taylor, another passenger on the U.S. boat. “Instead of fabricating horror stories about the hundreds of unarmed civilians in the flotilla, Israel should come clean about what it is they have in store for us. It is safe to conclude that the only chemical weapons, including tear gas and smoke bombs, that will ever be brought on board our ships to Gaza are those that the Israeli military apparently intends to fire at us.”
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Israel’s defense ministry proposes confiscating boats that breach Gaza blockade
Haaretz 28 June —  Government warns of two passengers’ alleged ties to Hamas, claims others have smuggled ‘chemicals’ aboard — Israel’s defense Ministry has proposed setting up a special naval court that could confiscate ships that attempt to break through Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza, a move aimed at deterring future flotillas to the Strip … Noting that the Justice Ministry had looked into setting up the naval courts, called prize courts, a few years ago, Barak urged Neeman to bring the matter to the cabinet for approval in the near future. Defense sources said that ship seizures would make it harder for pro-Palestinian activists to rent ships for future flotillas. They also said a prize court could be established very quickly, enabling even ships in the current flotilla to be impounded.
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US, Israel escalate threats against flotilla, including US citizens
Salon 27 June — …That type of uncontroversial statement — you shouldn’t shoot our unarmed citizens — is inconceivable when it comes to the U.S. and Israel.  So devoted is the U.S. Government to defending the actions of Israel’s that it will even preemptively justify violent attacks on its own citizens, threaten Americans protesting Israel’s policies with prosecution for aiding Terrorism, and isolate itself from the world to defend them.
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International solidarity and history in the making / Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK
28 June — Today we had a great international press conference. [photos] There were representatives from Greece, Sweden, France, Norway, Canada, Spain, Turkey and of course, the U.S. The room was packed with press and passengers; there was really a feeling that we are part of something historic. Our US speakers were Ann Wright and Alice Walker, as well as Huwaida Araf, who was not representing the U.S. boat but the international flotilla. Ann talked about the efforts of the Israeli government to stop our boat, the bogus complaint against us launched by the Israeli legal center. (This is the same center, by the way, that has been suing us, trying to get insurance companies not to insure and pushing satellite companies not to help us get wired on the boat.)
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Video: One of Freedom Flotilla II boats sabotaged in Greek port
A passenger boat aiming to participate in the Freedom Flotilla II – Stay Human mission, was sabotaged on Monday, June 27. In this video, Captain Thodoris Boukas explains [in Greek] about the discovery of the sabotage, and also footage from the examination by diver Yorgos Vardakas can be seen.
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In Athens, flotilla organizers shake off threats / Mya Guarnieri
ATHENS, Greece (Ma‘an) 28 June — Organizers and participants of the second Freedom Flotilla announced in Athens Monday that recent events have not weakened their resolve to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. At a spirited news conference, they also called into question American foreign policy. While organizers remain reluctant to give an exact exit date — saying only that the flotilla will set sail for Gaza in the next few days — a departure seems imminent.
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Fewer than 300 join flotilla
Ynet 28 June — Major blow to organizers with number of activists failing to meet expectations, more may cancel — An internal flotilla memorandum which reached Ynet reveals that the flotilla is expected sail with fewer than 300 participants and a few dozen journalists, assuming that no further delays or incidents occur before the flotilla sets sail. According to the memorandum the Italian ship Stefano Chiarim is expected to have 65 people on board – the largest number of passengers in the flotilla. The Canadian ship “Tahrir” will have 48 passengers and the American ship Audacity of Hope, which is currently being held at port by Greek authorities, is set to have 40 passengers. There are an additional seven ships from Spain, Ireland, Sweden, Greece and Norway which are expected to set sail. The organizers’ most optimistic scenario is that there will be 292 passengers with an additional 36 journalists. But it is highly likely that some of the ships will be declared unfit to sail.
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This time, Israel can pass the test of the flotilla / Bradley Burston
It’s not the test that Israel thinks it is. It’s a test to see if the country can act in its own rational interest, and let the flotilla simply go — Friends of Israel, countries and individuals that sincerely wish Israelis well, should send a message this week: Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Barak, for your sake, for Israel’s sake, let the flotilla sail to Gaza … You know that the flotilla is a test for Israel. You believe that it’s a test of your ability to stop the boats before they reach anchor in Gaza. You see it as a test of your ability to keep the siege of Gaza in place, and to fight against the delegitimization of Israel. It’s a test of the siege, all right, but not at all the test you think it is.
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Gaza-bound: A mystery worthy of Henning Mankell / Amira Hass
Haaretz 28 June — Swedish author Henning Mankell, who took part in last year’s flotilla and is joining the currently planned one, said that the flotilla was not a declaration of war, but a declaration of peace — GREECE – The organizers of the flotilla to Gaza yesterday remained vague about the date it would set sail and its ports of call. The unexpected delays are worrying the organizers although they are trying not to show it … Dozens of activists attended yesterday’s press conference, armed with well-made signs and rhythmic calls that sometimes turned the press conference into a pep rally. But the organizers of the briefing did not share the various reasons for the delay. A few days ago, the Greek port authority required the Greek-Swedish cargo ship to undergo repairs, soldering work and the addition of equipment that its crew said were completely unnecessary. As for the American ship, an anonymous complaint had been lodged that it was not seaworthy … Yesterday, a port authority inspection team checked out the American ship. Also yesterday, a surprise “stricter than usual” inspection was made of the Canadian vessel, the Tahrir. According to information that reached the organizers Sunday, a similar inspection is planned for the Italian ship.
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Freedom Flotilla 2 determined to reach Gaza; Israel determined to stop it
LA Times blog 27 June — … Meanwhile, until any encounter at sea, the skirmish is being waged on YouTube and all sides are uploading fast and furious — some straightforward, others kind of clever. And back to that media lesson learned. One of the main problems Israel had getting its message across last time (besides the message) was the long delay in releasing timely visual images and information from the scene while the operation was still ongoing, leaving the media stage to activists and semi-professionals and an anti-Israeli angle. For weeks, Israeli officials have been stressing the importance of the media battlefield and assuring outlets that professional and credible material will be much more timely. [includes Israel video explaining the ‘reasons’ for the blockade]

Gaza boat: Three questions for Marwan Bishara
AJE 27 June — Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, comments on three crucial issues surrounding the convoy and Israel’s vow to prevent it from reaching the Palestinians. …2. Does it pose security risk to Israel? It’s rather strange despite last year’s debacle, that Israel insists on deploying military means to confront peace activists trying to deliver humanitarian aid to a besieged people. The Israeli security cabinet has instructed Defense Minister Ehud Barak to stop the flotilla after failing to pressure European governments to block their exit to sea. But Israel’s security justifications don’t add up. Could anyone imagine that France, Greece or Turkey would allow a ship carrying European civil society activists and more than a few journalists to sail from their shores carrying arms, and/or “terrorists”! Even the claim that there are “extremists” on the board of the ships doesn’t hold water, since according to Israel, Gaza is already infested with and dominated by extremists and terrorists.
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German activists hold ‘solidarity flotilla’ on Berlin canals
IMEMC 27 June — in Germany, several dozen activists sailed down Berlin’s canals with banner-covered boats, waving Palestinian flags in support of the Freedom Flotilla. The boats were draped with banners saying, ‘Fishing Under Fire’, ‘No Occupation’, and ‘Free Palestine’. One fishing boat was made to look like a Palestinian fishing boat, the type used by Palestinian fishermen for their livelihood. These boats are frequently attacked by Israeli naval vessels stationed just off the coast of Gaza, and dozens of fishermen have been killed and wounded, and their boats confiscated, by the Israeli navy.
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Unlikely sailors: an inside look at the people on the Canadian boat to Gaza
27 June — Tomas Urbina gets up close and personal with five members of the Canadian Boat to Gaza’s crew — Today, Forget the Box presents the story of five of Canada’s 32 delegates, their motivations and their state of mind as they prepare for a humanitarian mission with the highest of stakes.
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Video: Gabriel Schivone, US Boat to Gaza passenger
27 June — Passenger Gabriel Schivone talks about why he is going aboard the US Boat to Gaza with the Stay Human Flotilla at the end of the month. Bio: Gabriel Matthew Schivone is a Chicano-Jewish American and undergraduate student who was born in Tucson, Arizona. He is a volunteer with the humanitarian/migrant-rights organization, No More Deaths/No Más Muertes, which works to end death and suffering on the US/Mexico border and throughout Arizona. [See videos from other passengers/crew on same YouTube page]
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Racism / Discrimination

Report: Schools discriminate against Ethiopians
Ynet 28 June — New survey presented to Knesset’s Immigration Committee reveals Ethiopian student body ‘forced’ into specific schools … The percentage of Ethiopian student to successfully graduate from high school has risen from 32.7% to 42.1% between 2007 and 2010, but it is still significantly lower than the percentage noted in the general Jewish student body — 64.6%.
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Israel refuses citizenship for gay man married to Jewish immigrant
Haaretz 28 June — The Law of Return is being put to the test by couple from United States — The Interior Ministry is refusing citizenship and new immigrant status to a homosexual married to a Jewish new immigrant, despite the law’s stipulation that the child, grandchild and partner of a Jew are entitled to Jewish immigrant rights.

Israel’s chief clergy decry arrest of top rabbi who called for killing Gentiles
Haaretz 28 June — Hundreds of right-wing activists attempted to storm the Supreme Court yesterday to protest the detention of Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior earlier in the day. Protesters also blocked the entrance to Jerusalem and other streets in the capital … Lior was wanted for questioning after he endorsed the controversial book “Torat Hamelech,” which justifies the killing of non-Jews.
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Rule of law bolstered following Rabbi Lior riots – [and ‘King’s Torah’ sales boom]
JPost 28 June — As politicians speak about equality before the law following arrest of Kiryat Arba chief rabbi, controversial book’s sales boom …The 2009 book by Yizhar Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira gives Jews permission to preemptively kill gentiles under certain conditions in wartime.

Israel’s justice ministry: No one is above the law, even rabbis
Haaretz 28 June — Officials respond firmly to the attacks on Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, following the arrest of Chief Rabbi Dov Lior Monday on suspicion of incitement.

Deputy prosecutor fears rightist attacks
Ynet 28 June — Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, who is responsible for cases of freedom of speech violations at the State Prosecutor’s Office, is said to be fearing for his life as rightists continue to threaten him and his family over the arrest of Rabbi Dov Lior for incitement … The source added that rightists had attempted to force entry into Nitzan’s home while he is abroad.
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Human trafficking report ranks Israel with 3rd world nations
Ynet 28 June — US State Department annual Trafficking in Persons report paints grim picture of phenomenon, states ‘Israel is destination country for men, women subjected to forced labor, sex trafficking’
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Hasbarapocalypse — pinkwashing hoax gone berserk / Annie
Mondo 28 June — This story has more legs than a centipede. Robert Mackey, on his NYT blog, further unfurls a hoax Benjamin Doherty @EI first exposed on Thursday and that Max Blumenthal and Doherty discovered was linked to Netanyahu’s office on Friday (a connection Ali Abunimah @ EI confirmed later that same day). But before we continue, check out the video, and read Mackey’s take:

Did Netanyahu’s office distribute a fake video against Gaza flotilla?
Haaretz 28 June — …This is exactly what some American bloggers have been claiming, after probing a video that was uploaded to YouTube on Sunday. The video, nearly three minutes long, featured a young man who called himself Marc and claimed to be a gay and human rights activist. The man recounted a story in which he asked the organizers of the upcoming Gaza flotilla to join their mission, and claimed that his request was allegedly denied on the grounds that participation of the gay and lesbian group with which he was affiliated would not serve the flotilla’s “interests.”
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Political / Diplomatic / International news

Netanyahu to Abbas: Accept Israel as Jewish state — it’s a basic demand for peace
Haaretz 28 June — Prime minister tells Jewish Agency trustees that he has already declared readiness to accept the creation of a Palestinian state, but now it is the Palestinian president’s turn to voice compromise.
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US, EU to present Mideast peace plan in last push to prevent Palestinian UN bid
Haaretz 28 June — In a last-minute effort to stop the Palestinians from seeking unilateral recognition at the United Nations in September, the Mideast Quartet is planning to present a new international peace plan at a summit in Washington on July 11, senior Israeli and European officials said Tuesday. The Quartet’s envoys – representing the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia – will be mapping out a peace plan based on U.S. President Barack Obama’s Mideast speech on May 19, which is supposed to present an alternative to the Palestinian move at the UN.
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Sha‘ath: PA optimistic about statehood bid
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 28 June — The Palestinian leadership is to step up efforts to consolidate a UN statehood bid this September, Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Sha‘ath told local media in Ramallah on Tuesday … “There is no return or retreat from the UN step in September; the efforts from now until September will focus on maintaining the countries that recognized the Palestinian state and consolidating their positions in the face of Israeli and American pressure, and recruit an additional number of countries that support the Palestinian step at the UN,” Sha‘ath told reporters.
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AP interview: PM Fayyad skeptical of UN bid, says declarations don’t change reality
28 June — U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state would largely be a symbolic victory and would not change the reality of Israeli occupation, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Tuesday .Fayyad’s skepticism, voiced in an interview with The Associated Press, set him apart from the rest of the Palestinian leadership.
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Hamas’ Zahar says Fatah to blame for talks delay
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 June — Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar has reportedly blamed Fatah for the delay in reconciliation talks, confirming reports that talks reached a dead end. “After we signed the agreement, Fatah on the ground worked against it,” Al-Zahar told the Jordanian newspaper Al-Dustur on Tuesday. He added that Fatah were linking the whole reconciliation process to the position of prime minster, an approach which was damaging unity efforts.
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Bahar says arrest of West Bank MP aimed at disrupting unity deal
GAZA (PIC) 28 June — Deputy Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council Ahmed Bahar has called Israel’s arrest of PLC member Nasser Abdul-Jawwad (Nablus) a bid to disrupt the PLC, which was reactivated after the signing of the national unity deal.  Bahar said that Israel’s foiling the unity deal by breaking down the PLC and ridding the West Bank of its elected members “will only reap failure and loss, and will only lead to more determination and steadfastness until Palestinian national rights are restored”.

Israel furious with Jordan over condemnation of Jerusalem’s Old City renovation
Haaretz 28 June — Ambassador Barkan says Israel is upset over the Jordanian about-face concerning the Mughrabi renovations near the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Report: Egypt forms Palestine Administration
CAIRO, Egypt (Ma‘an) 28 June — Newly appointed Egyptian Foreign Minister Muhammad Al-Urabi announced Tuesday that his ministry would form a new department to handle Palestinian affairs, the Egyptian newspaper Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat reported. The Palestine Administration was created one day after the new foreign minister took office. After he was sworn in Monday, Al-Urabi told reporters that “a new strategic situation emerged and it necessitates a united Arab stance towards the question of Palestine.
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Israel threatens invasion of southern Lebanon
IMEMC 27 June — The Israeli Radio reported that a number of Israeli security and military officials threatened that Israel could invade southern Lebanon should the security situation in villages there continue to deteriorate. The officials claimed that the Lebanon-based Hezbollah party “transformed villages in southern Lebanon into explosive areas,” and that the party deployed combat materials and weapons in the villages and installed bases and headquarters.
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Other news / analysis

Half of young Israelis are not convinced they should stay in the long run / Philip Weiss
Mondo 28 June — The “reverse aliyah” story is in the news, all the Israelis seeking passports, just in case. First there’s Russia Today segment, shown below. Gideon Levy: “Israel was established to become a shelter for the Jewish people. Now Europe becomes the shelter for the Jews living in Israel.” … The Russia Today segment just underlines what Ian Lustick reports in an important recent political science paper on the ideological problems surrounding the emigration discussion: “…In dozens of interviews conducted in Israel in November 2010, Israelis from political positions across the spectrum found themselves unable to describe a future for the country that they found appealing and believed was possible.” (listserv) (archive)

Gaza rallies in support of the Freedom Flotilla

Jun 28, 2011

Adam Horowitz

For Flotilla II from Gaza Strip from Mohammed Al Majdalawi on Vimeo.

Meanwhile, the US Boat to Gaza issued to following press release to rebut Israeli claims that flotilla members intend to “use violence and even ‘shed blood of soldiers.’“:

U.S. Boat Rejects Israeli Army Allegation of Violence

Passengers Reiterate Nonviolence Pledge, Openness to Neutral Inspection

Passengers on the U.S. boat to Gaza rejected as ludicrous and provocative an unsubstantiated accusation by the Israeli Army that passengers in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla plan to kill IDF soldiers with chemical weapons. The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday an Israeli Defense Forces allegation that some passengers on the flotilla had prepared sacks of sulfur which they planned to pour on Israeli soldiers.

“Passengers on the U.S. boat have long histories of responding to injustice nonviolently and peacefully. Every participant in the flotilla has signed a pledge of nonviolence,” said Melissa Lane, a passenger on the U.S. boat. “We have been engaged in nonviolence training for the last several days. We have no weapons, and we have repeatedly offered to have our boats inspected by neutral authorities. We are absolutely not seeking any confrontation with the Israeli military. We just want to sail to Gaza.”

“These spurious claims are merely an attempt to establish a justification to attack us,” said Brad Taylor, another passenger on the U.S. boat. “Instead of fabricating horror stories about the hundreds of unarmed civilians in the flotilla, Israel should come clean about what it is they have in store for us. It is safe to conclude that the only chemical weapons, including tear gas and smoke bombs, that will ever be brought on board our ships to Gaza are those that the Israeli military apparently intends to fire at us.”

“This is truly a shameful and desperate tactic on the part of the Israeli government. They know full well that the passengers have no intention of being anything but peaceful” said passenger Paki Wieland.


For regular updates follow the US Boat to Gaza on Twitter: and visit the US Boat to Gaza website.

Bent propeller shafts in Athens

Jun 28, 2011

Annie and Phil Weiss

Video from Greece is said to show two sabotaged propellers on a flotilla boat. Badly bent shafts. Greek translator in the house? Yes: Translation below the video!

Today we came to test the vessel, we fueled it, we started the engines and at some point …… trying, simply trying to engage the propellers [put it in gear] ‘forward’ – the vessel was still tied up – one of the engines went out … It went out as it usually happens when a rope or a “rementzo” ( a certain light rope) gets dangled and blocks the propeller. That’s what we thought in the beginning. … uh we looked around the vessel … there were no sign of the “rementzo” there was no rope around -around , we called for a diver …. and it seems finally from what we will see and from what will see in a video that the diver shot, the vessel has sustained sabotage … ie. someone with some means filed, probably I don’t think, from what is apparent I don’t think that it was a hand file – it must be a very certain tool – filed the stainless steel – a very hard material that the shaft is made of – at such a spot that with the first rotations of the shaft and even with the small vibration and the speed [momentum] at that moment, it was bent ….. and the shaft was bent and the brackets that support the shaft and the propeller. I think it’s a sabotage …. I think it’s an organized [premeditated] sabotage by those that do not want the vessel to participate in the ‘Freedom Flotilla’.

Pawlenty says Obama’s ‘anti-Israel attitude’ ‘breaks my heart’ (in New York… unh, what’s his game?)

Jun 28, 2011

Philip Weiss

Republican Presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty just spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and positioned himself as a hawk. He’s all in favor of the Arab spring. Except when it comes to Israel. Supports Netanyahu over Obama on Palestinian borders (as if this dance even matters). Oh and my favorite bit, he blames Palestinian leaders for “doom[ing] generations of Palestinians to lives of bitterness, violence, and poverty.” Excerpt:

Israel is unique in the region because of what it stands for and what it has accomplished.  And it is unique in the threat it faces—the threat of annihilation.  It has long been a bastion of democracy in a region of tyranny and violence.  And it is by far our closest ally in that part of the world.

Despite wars and terrorists attacks, Israel offers all its citizens, men and women, Jews, Christians, Muslims and, others including 1.5 million Arabs, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the right to vote, access to independent courts and all other democratic rights.

Nowhere has President Obama’s lack of judgment been more stunning than in his dealings with Israel.

It breaks my heart that President Obama treats Israel, our great friend, as a problem, rather than as an ally.  The President seems to genuinely believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies at the heart of every problem in the Middle East.  He said it Cairo in 2009 and again this year.

President Obama could not be more wrong.

The uprisings in Tunis, Cairo, Tripoli and elsewhere are not about Israelis and Palestinians. They’re about oppressed people yearning for freedom and prosperity.  Whether those countries become prosperous and free is not about how many apartments Israel builds in Jerusalem.

Today the president doesn’t really have a policy toward the peace process.  He has an attitude.  And let’s be frank about what that attitude is:  he thinks Israel is the problem.  And he thinks the answer is always more pressure on Israel.

I reject that anti-Israel attitude.  I reject it because Israel is a close and reliable democratic ally.  And I reject it because I know the people of Israel want peace.

Israeli – Palestinian peace if further away not than the day Barack Obama came to office.  But that does not have to be a permanent situation.

We must recognize that peace will only come if everyone in the region perceives clearly that America stands strongly with Israel.

I would take a new approach.

First, I would never undermine Israel’s negotiating position, nor pressure it to accept borders which jeopardize security and its ability to defend itself.

Second, I would not pressure Israel to negotiate with Hamas or a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, unless Hamas renounces terror, accepts Israel’s right to exist, and honors the previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements. In short, Hamas needs to cease being a terrorist group in both word and deed as a first step towards global legitimacy.

Third, I would ensure our assistance to the Palestinians immediately ends if the teaching of hatred in Palestinian classrooms and airwaves continues. That incitement must end now.

Fourth, I would recommend cultivating and empowering moderate forces in Palestinian society.

When the Palestinians have leaders who are honest and capable, who appreciate the rule of law, who understand that war against Israel has doomed generations of Palestinians to lives of bitterness, violence, and poverty – then peace will come.

‘Forward’ backward, Greenwald forward

Jun 28, 2011

Philip Weiss

The Forward, which I thought was a progressive publication, gives a platform to someone from the Israel Project to support the blockade of Gaza and declare that some flotilla passengers “are clearly seeking a repetition of last year’s bloody showdown.”

Blood’s the buzzword. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman now says that the flotilla participants are “looking for blood.”

Oh here’s some sharp analysis from Glenn Greenwald:

one thing is certain: if Israel does make good on its threats to violently attack protesting passengers and/or punish journalists for covering the event, the U.S. — even as it lectures the world on the evils of identical behavior — will have nothing but praise to offer.

Do they look like murderers to you?

Jun 28, 2011


flotilla Activists (including Hedy Epstein, 87, second from right) doing the electric slide Via MyA Guarnieri

Protesters call on Israel to lift blockade on Gaza

And more news about the flotillas heading to Gaza…

Israeli Government Response, Propaganda and Efforts to Sabotage
IDF fears flotilla activists will try to kill soldiers
Army info suggests radical elements equipping some vessels talking part in sail with bags containing chemicals, most likely sulfur, to use against soldiers taking over vessels. Activists in Greece claim some ships have been tampered with
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Reaction: Gaza flotilla organizer: We have no intention of attacking IDF soldiers
Israeli officials say passengers may be stowing chemicals on ships to be used against IDF soldiers and have threatened to ‘spill their blood.’
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Flotilla Organisers: Participants Have Signed Declarations Of Non Violence
Organisers of the Freedom Flotilla 2 have refuted claims made by the Isralei military on Monday that participants in the flotilla plan to use violence in resisting Israeli military plans to board the vessels. The organisers say that the passengers of the flotilla, due to leave this week, have signed declarations of non violence in advance of the journey, according to Haaretz.
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Israel’s Defense Ministry proposes confiscating boats that breach Gaza blockade
Government warns of two passengers’ alleged ties to Hamas, claims others have smuggled ‘chemicals’ aboard.
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Israel backs away from flotilla media threat
Warning to journalists covering planned Gaza-bound aid convoy withdrawn, but navy told to stop breach of blockade. Israel has backtracked on its warning to foreign journalists covering the Gaza-bound international aid flotilla, saying they will not face the same punishment as other participants in the convoy. Israel’s government press office had given warning on Sunday that journalists sailing on the flotilla could be barred from the country for up to a decade and have their equipment confiscated. On Monday, a statement from the prime minister’s office said Benjamin Netanyahu “has ordered the authorities to draw up a special procedure for dealing with foreign journalists sailing on the flotilla that will enter Israel illegally”.

Gaza flotilla ship ‘sabotaged by divers’
Activists say Swedish ship due to join attempt to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza has been damaged in Greek port.
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Apparent sabotage against Gaza flotilla
The Juliano, a boat planning on joining the Gaza flotilla challenging Israel’s blockade, was sabotaged in a Greek harbor earlier today, according to a spokesman.  A ship jointly owned by Swedish, Greek, and Norwegian activists hoping to join a flotilla of activist vessels challenging Israel‘s economic blockade of Gaza, had its propeller cut while in Athen’s harbor today. A spokesman contacted by the Monitor said that the damage was a deliberate act of sabotage. Israel and its allies have been working hard to head off the planned flotilla, which is hoping to enter the waters off Gaza in the next week. Col. (ret) Ann Wright, who’s organizing a US vessel named the Audacity of Hope for the flotilla, says her ship has been detained in Athens on spurious charges that it’s not seaworthy. She says that charge was made by an Israeli legal group.|+World%29

Flotilla Updates: French Boat Set Sail! Greek Boat Sabatoged! Calls Needed to Release US Boat!
June 27th, 2:30pm PST: In spite of Israel’s threats of violence (snipers, attack dogs, sound bombs) against unarmed people on unarmed ships, threats from the US government of legal action against American participants, and the Obama administration’s clear permission granted to Israel to attack the boats, including the American-flagged “Audacity of Hope”, the FLOTILLA HAS SET SAIL! The French ship Dignity just left Corsica with a French MEP on board. The French Government didn’t block the boat. The French boat sails to meet the other 9 boats, two cargo ships and 7 passenger boats, including the Audacity of Hope, in the Mediterranean, and on to Gaza with 3000 tons of aid for that destroyed region.
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Intense Israeli lobbying stalls Gaza flotilla
A US contingent is bringing Arabic translations of a book about Martin Luther King Jr., saying they want to show Palestinians that nonviolent resistance can work. But they’re stuck in Athens.|+World%29

The Lede: Israeli Video Blog Exposed as a Hoax, ROBERT MACKEY
A YouTube video featuring a man who presented himself as an American gay-rights activist disillusioned with the Gaza flotilla campaign has been exposed as a to

Rights Groups

Israel should not intimidate reporters covering flotilla
New York, June 27, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Israeli authorities to allow journalists covering a Gaza-bound humanitarian aid flotilla to do their work without interference or reprisals. On Sunday, Israel’s Government Press Officeannounced that journalists aboard the ships would be subjected to a 10-year ban on entering Israel and “to the impoundment of their equipment and to additional sanctions.” Following domestic and international outcry, authorities altered their stance. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced today that “journalists whose credentials are recognized by Israel” would not be subject to a 10-year ban, Reuters reported. But the prime minister’s statement did not address the government’s plans to confiscate footage and equipment, or its threat of “additional sanctions.”
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U.S. Reactions
Reps urge Clinton to protect U.S. citizens on Gaza flotilla
WASHINGTON (JTA) — Six Democratic lawmakers urged U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ensure the safety of the American citizens who join  the Gaza flotilla. U.S. Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), William Clay (D-Mo.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Bob Filner (D-Calif.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) signed a letter to Clinton last Friday expressing their concern for the safety of the passengers who will be aboard the U.S. ship The Audacity of Hope. Filner is Jewish. “We request that you do everything in your power to work with the Israeli government to ensure the safety of the U.S. citizens on board,” they wrote.
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Ex-US official: Israeli flotilla media ban wrong
Former State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley said Monday that Israel’s threat to sanction foreign reporters boarding flotilla vessels “went against its own interest,” since the sail is “worthy” of media coverage. Crowley noted that media coverage was crucial to Israel’s intention to show how it handles the flotilla, as well as that goods car arrive in Gaza. “Media coverage is an asset, not a liability,” he said.
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Flotilla Updates
Former Israeli combat pilot takes part in Freedom Flotilla 2
Reports in Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth claim that a former Israeli Air Force commander is taking part in Freedom Flotilla 2 heading for Gaza. The newspaper noted that former combat pilot Yonatan Shapira ended his service in the Israeli Air Force when he refused to bomb Palestinian residential and civilian areas following the 2002 raid against leading Hamas military figure Salah Shehada.
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Ex-US politician joins Gaza aid convoy
A former US political figure will join a Gaza-bound vessel although the State Department has criticized his act., Samuel Hart, a former US ambassador to Ecuador, is one of the passengers of The Audacity of Hope, the American-flagged ship that is a part of the Freedom Flotilla II, which will depart Greece for the besieged Gaza Strip on Tuesday.
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It Takes People On the Outside: Prestigious Author Alice Walker to Confront Israeli Naval Blockade of Gaza on U.S. Aid Ship
Israel continues to threaten a group of international activists planning to sail to Gaza this week with humanitarian aid. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said participants in the 10-boat flotilla are seeking “confrontation and blood.” Last year, Israeli forces killed nine people aboard the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara. Meanwhile, activists say one of the 10 boats scheduled to sail to Gaza has been sabotaged in a Greek port. Saboteurs reportedly cut off the propeller shaft of a ship shared by Swedish, Norwegian and Greek activist. Organizers say the boat will be repaired in time to sail to Gaza. One of the other ships that will try to reach Gaza from Greece is the “Audacity of Hope.” It’s set to carry up to 50 U.S. citizens carrying letters to Gaza residents. One of the ship’s passengers is the acclaimed author, poet and activist Alice Walker. She has written many books, including “The Color Purple,” for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. On Monday, Alice Walker spoke at a Freedom Flotilla news conference in the Greek capital of Athens. “I am going to Gaza because my government has failed to understand or care about the Gazan people, but worse than that, it is ignorant of our own history in the United States,” Walker said. “For instance, when black people were enslaved for 300 years, it took a lot of people in the outside of our communities to help free us.”
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Alice Walker Doesn’t Mince Words in Challenging Israeli Blockade of Gaza
Celebrated poet and novelist Alice Walker is sailing on the Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza, as part of a humanitarian mission meant to bring aid and awareness to the plight of those affected by Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip. The author, who penned the best-selling book “The Color Purple,” wrote a special piece for CNN outlining her intention. She will be sailing on a boat called “The Audacity of Hope”, which will be carrying letters expressing solidarity with the people of Gaza.
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International solidarity and history in the making, Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK
Today we had a great international press conference. There were representatives from Greece, Sweden, France, Norway, Canada, Spain, Turkey and of course, the U.S. The room was packed with press and passengers; there was really a feeling that we are part of something historic. Our US speakers were Ann Wright and Alice Walker, as well as Huwaida Araf, who was not representing the U.S. boat but the international flotilla.
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Staying Human: Preparing to Sail to Gaza, The US ship will bring over 3,000 letters of support,Kathy Kelly
Last week, newly-arrived in Athens as part of the US Boat to Gaza project, our team of activists gathered for nonviolence training. We are here to sail to Gaza, in defiance of an Israeli naval blockade, in our ship, “The Audacity of Hope.” Our team, and nine other ships’ crews from countries around the world, want Israel to end its lethal blockade of Gaza by letting our crews through to shore to meet with Gazans. The US ship will bring over 3,000 letters of support to a population suffering its fifth continuous decade of de facto occupation, now in the form of a military blockade controlling Gaza’s sea and sky, punctuated by frequent deadly military incursions, that has starved Gaza’s economy and people to the exact level of cruelty considered acceptable to the domestic population of our own United States, Israel’s staunchest ally.
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German activists hold ‘solidarity flotilla’ in Berlin canals
As the ‘Freedom Flotilla II: Stay Human’ prepares to sail to Gaza with ten ships and 500 supporters from 20 countries on Tuesday, supporters from around the world have launched various actions in solidarity. At one such action, in Germany, several dozen activists sailed down Berlin’s canals with banner-covered boats, waving Palestinian flags in support of the Freedom Flotilla.
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Criminalising Palestinian solidarity, Maureen Murphy
Siege-breaking activists may be next: It is US policy to block Palestinians from all avenues to justice at the UN level, by foiling the Goldstone report on war crimes in the Gaza Strip or preventing any censure of Israel for last year’s massacre of flotilla activists. But this week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has given Israel the green light to attack the second Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The State Department also issued a statement on the second flotilla– which will include approximately fifty Americans – in which it warned that “delivering or attempting or conspiring to deliver material support or other resources to, or for the benefit of, a designated foreign terrorist organisation, such as Hamas, could violate US civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration”.
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Gaza flotilla renews debate on Israel’s blockade
A flotilla of ships set to leave Greece for Gaza this week is reigniting arguments about the wisdom of Israel’s trade restrictions to the Palestinian territory.
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The “No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza” Canard:From Massacre Myopia to Blockade Blindness, Nima Shirazi
Earlier today, former IDF prison guard Jeffrey Goldberg approvingly quoted an excerpt from a recent anti-Gaza Flotilla opinion piece by Irish columnist Kevin Myers. Myers’ snide commentary is full of historical revisionism, factual errors, total fabrications, racist anti-Arab and Palestinian stereotyping, and an adolescent overuse of silly scare-quotes:The last ‘aid flotilla’ to Gaza carried a large number of Islamists who wanted to provoke: and aided by some quite astounding Israeli stupidity, they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Now another convoy is under way, and again with an utterly disingenuous plan to bring “assistance” to the “beleaguered Gazans”, some of who, funnily enough, can now cross into Egypt any time they like, and buy their explosives and their Kalashnikovs in the local arms-bazaar.
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Hasbarapocalypse– pinkwashing hoax gone berserk

Jun 28, 2011


This story has more legs than a centipede. Robert Mackey, on his NYT blog, further unfurls a hoax Benjamin Doherty @EI first exposed on Thursday and that Max Blumenthal and Doherty discovered was linked to Netanyahu’s office on Friday (a connection Ali Abunimah @ EI confirmed later that same day). But before we continue, check out the video, and read Mackey’s take:

The man in the video, who introduced himself to viewers as Marc and claimed that the organizers of the latest flotilla of ships bound for Gaza had rejected his offer to mobilize a network of gay activists in support of their cause, was identified as Omer Gershon, a Tel Aviv actor involved in marketing, by the Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian Web site.

While it remains unclear who produced the video, and Mr. Gershon has not responded to a request for comment,bloggers were quick to point out that people in three different Israeli government offices promoted it on Twitter soon after it was posted online.

As the blogger Max Blumenthal reported on Friday, one of the first people to draw attention to the video was Guy Seemann, who is an intern in the office of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.  The same day, the Israeli government’s press office advised its Twitter followers to watch the video and follow Mr. Seemann’s feed.

(my bold)

And that’s only the beginning! After the GOI (PM’s office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs) had promoted the video via their twitter accounts they started wiping traces of their tweets and then feigned they were hoaxed themselves “We were duped” (I don’t think so!). Go read the PM’s spokesperson squirm away from Seeman’s tweets.

Here’s Omer Gershon, the same actor, appearing in a commercial produced by Elad Magdasi. The same Elad Magdasi with a You Tube page promoting Stand with Us videos who themselves have just produced a new video panning the flotilla “lawfully enforces a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip… protect Israeli civilians from attacks by the terrorist organization Hamas.”

The plot thickens even further since I started this post yesterday. Mackey has updated his original article to include a segment of an earlier interview of Omer Gershon by journalist Dina Kraft during a phase of his career when the multi-faceted actor was helping to run a  nightclub in Tel Aviv called Zippy Trippo.

In that article, Ms. Kraft pointed to Zippy Trippo as an example of “Tel Aviv’s ability to reinvent itself.” The underground club, she explained, had been just one year earlier, “a listening post for the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, dubbed by its workers as the Facility.”

(my bold)

A PR fiasco in the making…

Latest libel: flotilla passengers seek ‘to kill soldiers’

Jun 28, 2011

Annie and Phil Weiss

IDF says flotilla activists are “planning to kill soldiers” (thanks to Max Blumenthal). And Dena Shunra tweeted this: “Haaretz publishes libel that #flotilla2 activists are armed & violent – keeps comments closed link to to prevent dissent.” And this is fromHaaretz in Hebrew, via translation (Does Haaretz dogwhistle its Hebrew readers?). Notice the pure Islamophobia. No Muslim activists should be on the boats?

Senior military sources told Haaretz yesterday “that are increasing signs in recent days on the intention of some of the participants in the flotilla of aid to Gaza to initiate a violent confrontation with the navy. According to them, coordination meetings held by some groups active in the flotilla, activists talked about their desire to use violence and even “shed blood of soldiers.” Also, although previous estimates, it appears that members of IHH [Turkish charitable org] and Arab and Muslim activists will join several ships to go out in the flotilla to Gaza….

[I]n some of the participants in the flotilla is a clear intention to violent conflict.

Wait– Birthright is failing on its own terms

Jun 28, 2011

Philip Weiss

My friend Laurence Zuckerman writes:

I find it surprising that you are praising Kiera Feldman’s article on Birthright in the Nation when its thesis is upside down. Feldman argues that Birthright is succeeding in indoctrinating young American Jews to get behind Zionism in general and the current Israeli regime in particular. But the evidence seems to suggest the opposite. Since 1999, when Birthright began, we have seen the rise of J Street and Jewish Voice for Peace. We have seen an ever growing outspokeness on the part of young American Jews about their alienation from Zionism and Israeli right-wing politics. We have seen a growing acceptance of Mearsheimer and Walt’s thesis on the Israel lobby. There are countless other examples. (The growth of your website has been a leading indicator.)

So the story really should be how little Steinhardt, Bronfman and Netanyahu have gotten for their $600 million.

Yes, the kids like the free trip to Israel but most of them can see the contradictions of what is happening there. And when they come home and are confronted with acts like Operation Cast Lead and the attack on the Mavi Marvara, the fact that they cuddled with a Jewish girl or boy in a bedouin tent and had beers with an IDF solider do not present very cogent counter arguments. The underlying assumption of Feldman’s story is that because Bronfman and Steinhardt are rich and they are spending millions they must know what they are doing and they must be succeeding. Her own experience proved why Birthright is a failure on its own terms (neither she nor her Birthright boyfriend nor others on her trip were indoctrinated) but she was unable to look past her blinders to write the real story. Instead it is another piece about rightwing bogeymen.

IsraHell to stop flotilla ‘without physical contact’

Jun 28, 2011


The Real News has produced an excellent, thorough report including interviews with Joseph Dana,  Ray McGovern, Gerry MacLochlainn from the Irish Boat, IDF press spokesperson and Vice Admiral Eliezer Merom, commander of the Israeli Navy (@5:36, don’t miss his bloviations), covering Israel’s threat to journalists and the flotilla media battle…more later

More at The Real News

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The hoax video blog and the plot to smear a Gaza aid mission



By Catrina Stewart

The Independent


The fake gay activist Mark PaxThe fake gay activist Mark Pax

A bizarre video where a gay activist claims he was prevented from taking part in the upcoming Gaza-bound flotilla because of his sexual orientation has been exposed as an Israeli hoax.

It appears to be the latest in a dirty-tricks campaign that includes sabotage and legal challenges orchestrated by groups seeking to derail and discredit efforts by activists to sail into Gaza’s waters to challenge Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian territory.

In the three-minute clip originally posted by an Israeli government employee, a man calling himself Marc Pax says he has a “heartbreaking” story to share about his efforts to join the Freedom Flotilla II, a 10-ship convoy of about 350 activists, who include European politicians, writers and an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor.

He said that his vision of activists as “a cross between Che Guevara and Mother Teresa in a keffiyeh [Arab headscarf]” were quickly disabused when his request to participate was rebuffed because he was gay, prompting him to take a closer look at the groups involved.

He goes on to identify groups such as Viva Palestina and IHH, the Turkish organisers of last year’s flotilla, as sympathetic to Hamas, the Gaza overlords which he blasts as a homophobic group that runs roughshod over basic human rights. “These are the people the flotilla groups are hugging,” he says.

The video was released as activists prepare to commemorate the events of a year ago when Israeli marines mounted a bungled raid on the Gaza-bound sea convoy, killing nine Turkish activists. Israel’s actions were widely condemned and it was pressured into partially easing its blockade of Gaza, imposed four years ago to weaken Hamas. The International Committee of the Red Cross has described Israel’s policy as “collective punishment”. Israel has adopted a different approach this year, focusing its efforts on persuading governments to stop their citizens from taking part, and IHH, the driving force behind last year’s event, has withdrawn its ship, the Mavi Marmara.

But it appears that wildcat groups, possibly with Israel’s official backing, are also trying to stop the flotilla. Bloggers first became suspicious of the supposedly amateur video by its slick production and heavy promotion by Israeli government bodies on Facebook and Twitter. Within hours, they had exposed Marc Pax as one Omer Gershon, an Israeli actor living in Tel Aviv.

The video was originally posted on Twitter by Guy Seeman, an intern working in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. Israel’s press office and the foreign ministry both linked to it following his post. Once the video was revealed as a hoax, the press office apologised, saying it had been “duped”, and the foreign ministry removed the link from its Twitter feed. Mr Netanyahu’s office said that Mr Seeman’s actions were “without authorisation and without approval”.

Israel has increased its rhetoric against the flotilla in recent days. Domestic media have cited officials saying at least two passengers have links to Hamas, regarded by Israel as a terrorist group. The activists say that they have signed a pledge of non-violence.

The flotilla had been expected to set sail early this week, but boats moored at a Greek port near Athens have been hit by a series of mishaps. Activists on a boat taking Greek, Swedish and Norwegian passengers said their propeller shaft had been sabotaged, preventing the vessel from leaving on time. They blamed the damage on Israel’s “secret services or special forces”.

An Israeli legal group called Shurat HaDin has also delayed the departure of at least one ship, the Audacity of Hope, by informing the Greek authorities that it was not seaworthy, obliging port authorities to inspect it. Activists claimed it had earlier been cleared to sail.

Two French ships have already left a Corsica port, and an Irish ship is also en route to the Mediterranean. Activists in Greece say they hope to leave later this week

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The Ugly Truth Podcast


We’re back! Mark Dankof joins the program to discuss the latest presidential candidates’ genuflecting before Israel as well as the recent case involving Israeli American spy arrested in Egypt and what it all portends for the future.

As always, thank you for supporting the financial needs associated with putting this program together.


Download Here



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The IDF lied about the flotilla.


” Zio-Nazi lied about the Gaza Flotilla”


By: Alex Fishman

Yediot, June 29 2011 There is no information that there is going to be a group of radicals on board that will form a hard core of  violent resistance against IDF soldiers. Nor is there any clear information about live weapons that will be onboard the ships. It is very reasonable to assume that this is one working assumption, alongside of many otherscenarios and working assumptions that have come up in the brainstorming sessions in the army and the various intelligence services in advance of the upcoming flotilla. But when a working assumption of that sortis turned into a fact by the Israeli public relations machine that is liable to prove to be a boomerang that couldcast Israel as unreliable.

That’s the way it is in Israel. Before the previous flotilla no one bothered even to enlist people who speak  Turkish to monitor the publicly-available information in Turkish, which indicated precisely what was going tohappen. In advance of this flotilla they’re digging up the most marginal information, some of which is basedon unreliable sources and some of which has not been verified. Take, for example, the report about chemicalsthat supposedly are going to be used against IDF troops: The issue at hand are sacks of fertilizer that havebeen loaded onto one of the ships. Some of the fertilizers are phosphate-based. Israel has banned substancesof that sort from entering Gaza since those organic fertilizers can be used as rocket fuel and in bombs.

Hamas no longer needs to use fertilizer for those purposes, since it now obtains standard explosives via thetunnels. There is no argument: the IDF needs to be prepared for the worst case scenario. It needs to be prepared for asituation in which someone on board the ships opens live fire. But the dramatic announcements by Israelabout preparations being made on board the ships to fight to the death and to kill IDF soldiers are strongly redolent of propaganda. Smart PR work most certainly has the capacity of embarrassing the other side inpublic opinion. In the meantime, the more sober situation assessment is that IDF troops are liable toencounter intense physical resistance on two of the ships — the French vessel,

Le Dignité-El Karameh, and an Arab boat that was bought by the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood. The flotilla, which was supposed to set forth yesterday, has been delayed by two days. Some of the ships havebeen damaged unexpectedly. The Israeli diplomatic effort this time was successful in persuading thegovernments of Greece and Cyprus to prevent — or, at the very least, to delay — the departure of the ships.Every day that passes in which the flotilla does not set sail increases the chances of it becoming even moredepleted. Quite a number of the people who are supposed to take part in the flotilla — people fromSwitzerland, the United States and Holland — flew in at their own expense, and are now stranded and waiting at their own expense. Thus far, Israel has been quite successful in its efforts to buy time and to deplete theflotilla. Out of the 15 ships that originally were supposed to take part in the flotilla, the number is now downto six. It is not inconceivable that the current delay is not the last one either. The organizers of the flotillakeep on discovering new problems every day.


Israel ministers slam flotilla threat as ‘spin’

An Israeli navy vessel enters the southern Israeli port of Ashdod [AFP, File]
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Several Israeli ministers have accused the army of “spin” over its claims that activists on board a Gaza-bound flotilla plan to harm Israeli soldiers, Maariv newspaper reported on Wednesday. 

The paper quoted several unnamed members of Israel’s security cabinet as saying the claims were “media spin” and “public relations hysteria.”

On Monday, Israeli military spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovitz said there were “radical elements” among the activists participating in the sea convoy, including some carrying “dangerous incendiary chemicals.”

But security cabinet ministers told Maariv they were given no such information when they were briefed on the flotilla this week, and even accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office of being behind the disinformation.

“Netanyahu decided to change the version about the nature of the flotilla for two reasons that are connected to the international community,” one of the ministers, who were not named, told the newspaper.

“The first is for reasons of covering himself — if, suddenly, in the course of the military operation something goes awry and there are casualties, Israel will be able to say that it warned of that in advance.

“The second reason is to apply pressure on the international community so that governments will prevent the ships from leaving for the flotilla from the outset.”

The newspaper said ministers were angry they had not been briefed about the alleged threats from the flotilla, which is expected to set sail a little more than a year after a Turkish-led mission to the Gaza Strip.

That attempt ended in bloodshed when Israeli commandos raided the ships, killing nine Turkish activists and prompting international condemnation.

Israel has been following preparations for the new flotilla closely, and ministers said it was “inconceivable” that institutions including the Israeli military “would produce for the media information that is the complete opposite of what we were told.”

“There is increasing reason to fear that this is spin. Nothing of the information that was disseminated to the media was presented to us,” another minister told Maariv on condition of anonymity.

Activists preparing to set sail with the 10-vessel convoy to Gaza have rejected claims they planned to use violence against Israeli troops.

Nearly 300 pro-Palestinian activists from 22 countries including Canada, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy and Spain are set to join the flotilla, among them dozens of middle-aged and elderly Americans and Europeans.

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Posted in GazaComments Off on The IDF lied about the flotilla.

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