Categorized | Middle East

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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