Archive | June, 2011

Hillary Clinton Gives Green Light For IsraHelli Attack On Gaza Flotilla

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross

 

by Ali Abunimah / Electronic Intifada

 

In comments yesterday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seemed to lay the ground – indeed almost provide a green light – for an Israeli military attack on the upcoming Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which will include the US Boat to Gaza.

Among the passengers aboard the American boat will be 87-year old Kindertransport survivor Hedy Epstein, and author and poet Alice Walker. In all it is expected that about 10 ships, carrying 1000 people from over 20 countries will take part.

Here’s what Clinton said in remarks at the State Department on 23 June:

Well, we do not believe that the flotilla is a necessary or useful effort to try to assist the people of Gaza. Just this week, the Israeli Government approved a significant commitment to housing in Gaza. There will be construction materials entering Gaza and we think that it’s not helpful for there to be flotillas that try to provoke actions by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves.

Clinton must know that Gaza is not part of what any country recognizes as “sovereign” Israeli territory, and therefore neither are Gaza’s territorial waters. Any boats entering Gaza’s waters would not in fact be entering “Israeli waters” as Clinton claimed. Clinton also, presuming she is properly briefed rather than misled, must also know that last year Israel attacked the Gaza Freedom Flotilla when it was in international waters and GPS data showed that it was actually heading away from Israel.

By invoking Israel’s supposed “right to self-defense” against civilian boats trying to reach Gaza, we must understand that Clinton is telling Israel the United States will not stand in the way of another military attack.

And by citing Israel allowing construction materials into Gaza to make the case that the flotilla is “unnecessary” because “aid” can reach the Palestinian people in Gaza, Clinton is engaging in the ultimate obfuscation.

People in Gaza have been reduced to penury and rendered dependent on aid by decades of Israeli occupation, siege and military attacks. The issue is not the delivery of aid but freeing the people by lifting the siege. It is an abhorrent position to suggest – as Clinton seems to – that if people in Gaza receive enough calories or a few building supplies then we should not be concerned about Israel’s siege. The Palestinian people of Gaza are not caged animals for whom sufficient care consists of shoving rations through the bars of their prison.

Israel’s siege is intended as a form of collective punishment and has been declared illegal by the ICRC.

Israel, as The Electronic Intifada reported, is engaging in military drills to intercept this unarmed civilian flotilla. In light of Clinton’s statements, if any blood is spilled it will not only be on Israeli, but also American hands.

Prosecuting Flotilla Passengers Under “Material Support” Laws

Not content with tacitly encouraging Israeli violence, in another alarming development, the State Department has apparently threatened that Americans who board boats to Gaza could be jailed or fined for supporting terrorism. Haaretz reports:

The U.S. State Department said Friday that attempts to break the blockade are “irresponsible and provocative” and that Israel has well-established means of delivering assistance to the Palestinian residents of Gaza. It noted that the territory is run by the militant Hamas group, a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization, and that Americans providing support to it are subject to fines and jail.

In effect, the US now seems to be defining any support for any Palestinians, including a besieged civilian population, as support for Hamas, and therefore support for “terrorism.”

This mirrors its use of such “material support” laws as a pretext to investigate and persecute Palestine solidarity, antiwar, and labor activists exercising their First Amendment rights at home.

Posted in GazaComments Off on Hillary Clinton Gives Green Light For IsraHelli Attack On Gaza Flotilla

Among The Costs Of War: $20B A Year In Air Conditioning

NOVANEWS

by crescentandcross

 

 

NPR

The amount the U.S. military spends annually on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan: $20.2 billion, according to a former Pentagon official.

That’s more than NASA’s budget. It’s more than BP has paid so far for damage during the Gulf oil spill. It’s what the G-8 has pledged to help foster new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia.

“When you consider the cost to deliver the fuel to some of the most isolated places in the world — escorting, command and control, medevac support — when you throw all that infrastructure in, we’re talking over $20 billion,” Steven Anderson tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host Rachel Martin. Anderson is a retired brigadier general who served as Gen. David Patreaus’ chief logistician in Iraq. He’s now in the private sector, selling technologies branded as “energy-efficient” to the Department of Defense.

Why does it cost so much?

To power an air conditioner at a remote outpost in land-locked Afghanistan, a gallon of fuel has to be shipped into Karachi, Pakistan, then driven 800 miles over 18 days to Afghanistan on roads that are sometimes little more than “improved goat trails,” Anderson says. “And you’ve got risks that are associated with moving the fuel almost every mile of the way.”

Anderson calculates more than 1,000 troops have died in fuel convoys, which remain prime targets for attack. Free-standing tents equipped with air conditioners in 125-degree heat require a lot of fuel. Anderson says by making those structures more efficient, the military could save lives and dollars.

Still, his $20.2 billion figure raises stark questions about the ongoing war in Afghanistan. In the wake of President Obama’s announcement this week that 33,000 American troops will soon return home, how much money does the U.S. stand to save?

When you have this many people in a country that doesn’t want you there — that has no economy, no infrastructure and a corrupt government — and you’re trying to stabilize it and build them into a viable nation? I’m not sure we have enough time, and I definitely know we don’t have enough money.

Dollars And Cents

The 33,000 troops who will return home by the end of next year match the numbers sent to Afghanistan in 2010, at a cost of about $30 billion. That comes out to about $1 million a soldier.

But the savings of withdrawing those troops won’t equal out, experts say.

“What history has told us is that you don’t see a proportional decrease in spending based on the number of troops when you draw them down,” Chris Hellman, a senior research analyst at the National Priorities Project, tells Martin.

“In Afghanistan that’s going to be particularly true because it’s a very difficult and austere environment in which to operate,” he says.

That means most war expenditures lie not in the troops themselves but in the infrastructure that supports them — infrastructure that in some cases will remain in place long after troops are gone.

“We’re building big bases,” American University professor Gordon Adams tells Martin. The costs of those bases are, in economic terms, “sunk” costs, he says.

“We’re seeing this in Iraq. We’re turning over to the Iraqis — mostly either for a small penny or for free — the infrastructure that we built in Iraq. But we won’t see back any money from that infrastructure.”

Then there’s the costly task of training Afghan security forces. The Obama administration has requested almost $13 billion to train and equip Afghan security forces in the next fiscal year.

And more importantly, Hellman says, “[Afghan President Hamid] Karzai indicated a couple years back that [Afghanistan] wasn’t going to be a position to support their own military forces 15, 20 years out. I suspect we’re going to be called on to pay a substantial part of that bill going forward.”

Criticism From The President’s Own Party

The realm of war and peace exists separately apart — and justifiably so — from the economic realm.

– Lawrence Kaplan, a visiting professor at the U.S. Army War College

For critics of the president, the idea that the troop drawdown won’t save much money is reason enough to suggest it should be bigger.

One outspoken critic is Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). He notes the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost hundreds of billions of dollars so far, and he argues a larger troop drawdown isn’t a national security risk.

“We have the greatest special ops in the world. We have more technology than any other country on earth,” Manchin tells Martin. “Do we actually need to have 70,000 troops on the ground?”

“When you have this many people in a country that doesn’t want you there — that has no economy, no infrastructure and a corrupt government — and you’re trying to stabilize it and build them into a viable nation? I’m not sure we have enough time, and I definitely know we don’t have enough money,” Manchin says.

But others argue war should be waged independent of cost.

“The realm of war and peace exists separately apart — and justifiably so — from the economic realm,” says Lawrence Kaplan, a visiting professor at the U.S. Army War College, who says critics like Manchin are looking for “economic answers to a non-economic question.

“And anyway, it’s not the war that’s broken Washington’s piggy bank,” he adds, noting that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security account for far more spending than the $107 billion the Pentagon says it will spend in Afghanistan next year.

Can Greener Mean Safer?

But for Anderson, the retired brigadier general, economics does have a role to play in modern warfare.

Anderson advocates for increased energy efficiency for military structures in order to cut down on the need for long, dangerous fuel-transport missions. A few months ago, Anderson heard from a company commander in Afghanistan.

“He literally has to stop his combat operations for two days every two weeks so he can go back and get his fuel. And when he’s gone, the enemy knows he’s gone, and they go right back to where they were before. He has to start his counter-insurgency operations right back at square one.”

Anderson says experiments with polyurethane foam insulation for tents in Iraq cut energy use by 92 percent and took 11,000 fuel trucks off the road. But he adds there’s a lack of enthusiasm for a greener military among top commanders.

“People look at it and say ‘It’s not my lane. We don’t need to tie the operational commanders’ hands’ — things like this,” he says.

“A simple policy signed by the secretary of defense — a one- or two-page memo, saying we will no longer build anything other than energy-efficient structures in Iraq and Afghanistan — would have a profound impact.”

Posted in USAComments Off on Among The Costs Of War: $20B A Year In Air Conditioning

BLACKMAIL–US ‘could withdraw funding from UN if Palestine state is recognised

NOVANEWS
by crescentandcross

 

The US could withdraw funding from the United Nations if its members decide to recognise and independent Palestinian state, a close ally of President Barack Obama has warned.

Miss Rice said the Obama administration was devoting ‘extraordinary efforts and energy’ to restarting middle-eastern peace talks Photo: AFP

Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the UN, said there was “no greater threat” to US support and funding of the UN than the prospect of Palestinian statehood being endorsed by member states.

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian authority, plans to ask the UN general assembly, which comprises all 192 members, to vote on recognition at its annual meeting in New York in September.

The US and Israel are pressing Mr Abbas to drop his plans. Mr Obama has strongly opposed the move, raising the prospect of a veto in the UN Security Council, which is expected to vote on a Palestinian statehood proposal in July.

But Palestinian officials have spoken of their determination to a circumvent a US veto by deploying a rarely used Cold War mechanism known as “Uniting for Peace” under which a two-thirds majority in the General Assembly can override the Security Council.

Although Palestinians believe they are close to securing such a majority, the General Assembly does not have the power to confer UN membership on a new Palestinian state, meaning that a successful vote would represent little more than a symbolic triumph.

Even so, Republicans in the US Congress are promising to react aggressively to any approval of statehood. Two congressmen have already vowed to initiate bills to withdraw UN funding in the House of Representatives.

Such a development could be devastating to the UN. The US provides almost a quarter of its $2.5 billion (£1.6 billion) annual budget, making a yearly contribution of almost $600 million (£375 million).

Speaking at an event in Washington, Miss Rice said the Obama administration was devoting “extraordinary efforts and energy” to restarting middle-eastern peace talks so that a vote in September could be avoided.

On the prospect of it being approved, she said: “This would be exceedingly politically damaging in our domestic context, as you can well imagine.

“And I cannot frankly think of a greater threat to our ability to maintain financial and political support for the United Nations in Congress than such an outcome”.

A video of Miss Rice making the comments has been removed from the internet.

Attempting to play down their significance, a spokesman for the ambassador said: “These were informal remarks in a domestic setting.”

The US is desperate to avoid being put into a position of having to wield its veto. With growing international support for Palestinian statehood, even in Europe, the US is looking increasingly isolated in its support for Israel and a veto would badly damage Mr Obama’s credentials in a rapidly changing Middle East.

But the president faces a politically damaging backlash from the pro-Israeli lobby and its many supporters in Congress if he does not block a resolution, a move that could also cost all-important Jewish votes in key swing states like Florida during next year’s presidential election.

Mr Obama has already angered the Israeli government and its US supporters by calling for a Palestinian state that roughly corresponds to the existing boundaries of the West Bank and Gaza, which Israel occupied after the Six Day war of 1967.

The move was intended to rejuvenate the stalled Middle East peace process.

But Palestinian officials, in public at least, say they remain committed to a UN vote as the only realistic way of breaking the deadlock.

Western powers have backed a two-year Palestinian state-building programme that reaches fruition at the end of August. It has already been judged a success by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and Palestinian officials say it would be hypocritical for the West to back the state-building exercise but not its “logical outcome”.

Britain has indicated that it would not join the US in vetoing Palestinian statehood in the Security Council. But David Cameron is also hoping to avert a highly divisive vote in the general assembly.

“The question is whether we can do anything that might deflect the Palestinians from going ahead with this,” a British diplomatic source said.

Some Palestinian officials have conceded in private that they do not want to fall out with Mr Obama and are working on ways to resume peace talks with Israel and postpone a statehood vote.

Posted in USAComments Off on BLACKMAIL–US ‘could withdraw funding from UN if Palestine state is recognised

Former CIA officer questions EU motives in Syria

NOVANEWS

 

 

EU and US intervention in Syria is designed to harm Iran and to protect Israel and Lebanese Christians, not Syrian people, according to Robert Baer, a retired CIA officer with experience of the region.

Speaking in an interview with EUobserver, Baer, a senior CIA field officer in Lebanon and Syria in the 1980s and 1990s and a writer on international security affairs, said EU and US sanctions might weaken the Syrian regime but will not stop it from killing people in the current crisis.

“It will make Syria more isolated and economically unstable. But the Alawites [the ruling Muslim sect in Syria] are not going to succumb to outside pressure for democratic reform because they think this would lead to a sectarian civil war [with the Sunni Muslim majority] … [Syrian President] Bashar Assad thinks that if he shows weakness, if he loses control of any city for any length of time, then it’s the end of his regime.”

The EU on Friday (24 June) imposed travel bans and asset freezes on four Syrian regime members and three Iranians. The move comes on top of previous EU sanctions against 23 regime members and similar US measures.

The Iranians are senior officers in the Revolutionary Guards said to be “providing equipment and support” for Syrian repression: brigadier commander Mohammad Ali Jafari; major general Qasem Soleimaini; and Hossein Taeb.

It also imposed a ban on four companies said to be funding the Syrian rulers: Bena Properties; Al Mashreq Investment Fund; Military Housing Establishment; and Hamcho International.

The Alawite sect in Syria is allied with Iran, a Shia Muslim power, and Hezbollah, a Shia guerrilla army in Lebanon. The group is known in Israel as the “axis of evil.” But it is also seen as a threat by Sunni Muslims in Saudi Arabia and neighbouring countries.

Baer said the EU decision to include sanctions on the Iranian officers – a UK initiative – is desinged to further stigmatise Iran in the wider campaign to stop it building nuclear weapons.

“If Iran is involved in Syria, it’s at a minor level like blocking the internet. At the end of the day, it’s Syrian tanks, Syrian artillery which is slaughtering people … I just see a general desire to frame Iran because of the nuclear issue. This kind of thing makes it easier to impose more economic sanctions [on Iran] down the line.”

In another sign that the EU and US’ main motive is to weaken the Shia axis, Baer noted they have not taken action against its enemies, such as Saudi-sponsored rulers in Bahrain and Yemen, who are also guilty of brutal repression.

“We’ve taken sides in the Middle East. We’ve taken sides with Israel and with the Sunnis, from the US to the Dutch and the French. It’s part of our cultural and historical background,” he said.

Baer added that France, the former colonial power in Lebanon and Syria, is mainly interested in protecting its old friends, the Maronite Christians in Lebanon: “They don’t want to see the roof blown off Lebanon because they still feel responsible for the Maronites. They are tightly wrapped up in Lebanon.”

He noted that Turkey is also trying to weaken the Shia alliance in order to become the pre-eminent power in the region. “I’m still talking to my Syrian contacts and they are quite convinced that weapons are coming in [to the opposition] not just from the Sunnis in Lebanon and through Iraq but also from Turkey,” Baer said.

Baer predicted that if the conflict in Syria escalates, security chiefs will stage a coup “sacrificing” Assad in order to cut a deal with the opposition, as happened in Egypt.

Not black and white

An EU diplomat backed up some of his analysis.

The contact said EU sanctions will not work because Assad still has good relations with China, Iran, Russia and Latin America.

“When you talk to Syrian diplomats, they are relaxed. Life in Damascus is pretty normal. We [the EU] don’t really know what our objectives are, but if it’s regime change, it will take more than sanctions,” he explained.

He added that the situation is more complicated than a simple struggle between the disenfranchised Sunni majority and the Alawite elite.

“We have reports that Wahhabists [radical Sunni Islamists], who are not necessarily controlled by any state, are coming into Syria from Iraq and from Saudi Arabia to create chaos. Inside Syria, there are snipers shooting at demonstrators who are not controlled by Assad but by the deep state, and other snipers who are shooting at both demonstrators and police,” he said.

“The EU has reacted like [former US president] Bush did in 2001 and 2003, in black and white terms, but life is more grey,” he noted, referring to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Former CIA officer questions EU motives in Syria

Sacred Mantras

NOVANEWS

 

By Uri Avnery

 

June 28, 2011 “gush-shalom” The Palestinians are planning something thoroughly obnoxious: they intend to apply to the UN for statehood.

Why obnoxious? Any Israeli spokesman (not to mention spokeswoman) will tell you readily: because it is a “unilateral” move. How dare they proclaim a state unilaterally? How dare they do so without the consent of the other party to the conflict – us?

A stickler for detail might ask at this point: “But was the State of Israel not proclaimed unilaterally?” Our state, it may be remembered, was declared by David Ben-Gurion and his colleagues on Mai 14, 1948, without asking anyone.

But who would dare to compare?

Furthermore, these dastardly Palestinians are going to the UN General Assembly, trying to circumvent the UN Security Council where the US can block them with its veto. Dirty trick!

But just a moment! Was the State of Israel not proclaimed on the basis of a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly? To be precise: resolution 181 of November 29, 1947, on the partition of Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state?

As a matter of fact, this resolution is still in force. It served as the centerpiece of Israel’s Declaration of Independence, and serves now as a basis for the Palestinian demand that the State of Palestine be accepted as a full-fledged member of the United Nations.

But again, how can one compare?

IN SHORT, the Palestinians must be condemned for their impertinent effort to resort to “unilateral” action. Binyamin Netanyahu says so. Barack Obama says so. Hillary Clinton says so. Angela Merkel says so. It has become a mantra.

One more mantra. It might have been thought that the Israeli-Palestinian arena is so full of mantras, that there is no room for more. But there always is.

Shlomo Avineri, a much respected Zionist professor, has dredged up one of the oldest. In a recent article entitled “Narratives and Truth” he claimed that there are two narratives about our conflict, but only one truth. The truth consists of incontestable facts.

For example: there are several narratives about the UN partition resolution, but only one truth. As it so happens, this truth coincides with the Israeli narrative, which has become a sacred mantra.

It goes like this: in 1947, the Zionist leadership accepted the UN partition plan, and the Palestinian Arabs rejected it. Instead, they attacked the Jewish community in the country and were later joined by the regular armies of the neighboring Arab states. They wanted to throw us into the sea. They lost the war and paid the price.

Facts? Incontestable? Well…

IT IS indeed a fact that the Zionist leadership accepted the partition plan – formally. Many Zionist leaders objected, but were persuaded by David Ben-Gurion to agree to the official acceptance. However, in several secret meetings Ben-Gurion made it clear that the partition borders were unacceptable and must be rectified at the first opportunity. The minutes of these meetings are there for all to read.

The other side of the mantra – “the Palestinian Arabs rejected” – is more complex. There was no democratically elected Palestinian Arab leadership. In the 1936-39 Arab revolt, the Arab leadership – such as it was – was destroyed, partly by the British but mostly by the foremost Palestinian leader, the Grand Mufti Hajj Amin al-Husseini. He had most of his competitors killed off.

During World War II, Hajj Amin fled to Nazi Germany and the rest of the “leaders” were deported by the British. After the war, the discredited Hajj stayed abroad. A distant relative of his headed the so-called “Arab Higher Committee”, which was unelected and had shallow roots among the population. There was no effective Palestinian leadership in existence.

No one asked the Arab Palestinians whether to accept or reject anything. If they had been asked, they would probably have rejected partition, since – in their view – it gave a large part of their historical homeland to foreigners. The more so, since the Jews, who at the time constituted a third of the population, were allotted 55% of the territory – and even there the Arabs constituted 40% of the population.

The governments of the Arab states rejected partition, but they certainly did not represent the Palestinian Arabs, who were at the time still under British rule (as were we).

As a matter of fact, during the war there was no effective united Palestinian Arab leadership, nor was there anything even remotely resembling a united Palestinian fighting force.

One can interpret these facts as one wishes – but they certainly do not paint a clear picture of “the Zionists accepted, the Palestinians rejected”.

Yet this mantra is being repeated endlessly in newspaper articles, TV talk-shows and political speeches as self-evident truth. Prof. Avineri is only one of a legion of Israeli propagandists to repeat it.

ANOTHER MANTRA parading as the incontestable truth is that the 750,000 original Palestinian refugees left their homes in 1948 voluntarily, after being requested by the Arab leadership to do so, ”in order to clear the way for the advancing Arab armies”.

Any thoughtful person hearing this must come to the conclusion that it is utter nonsense. No advancing army would want to remove a friendly population. Quite the contrary. Needless to say, not a shred of evidence for this contention has ever been discovered. (There may be some doubts about local events during the conquest of the Arab parts of Haifa, but they do not change the broad picture.)

This mantra is compounded by the idea that in war, all the people on the losing side forfeit their country, their homes and their property. This may have been so in Biblical times, but in modern times it does not reflect international law or common morality.

There may be many different opinions about how to put an end to this tragedy. The Palestine refugee population has grown to over five million. The landscape has changed completely. Very few people, even among Palestinians, believe in a mass return of refugees. But this does not change the fact that the mantra sounds hollow. It is not even good propaganda anymore.

A NEW mantra is now gaining ground. Binyamin Netanyahu put it in simple words: “the Conflict is Insoluble”. Many respected figures, including prominent university professors, now repeat it daily.

I am reminded of a late friend of mine, Samuel Merlin, a member of the first Knesset, who once took part in a public debate with Professor Yehoshafat Harkabi, a former chief of army intelligence. At the time – the era of euphoria between the 1967 and the 1973 wars – Harkabi was a raving Arab-hater (after 1973 he repented and became a determined peace activist).

When his turn came to answer Harkabi’s arguments, Merlin said: “I respect Professor Harkabi very much, but in order to utter such views you don’t need to be a professor, you can be anyone on the street.”

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Sacred Mantras

IsraHell ramps up campaign against Gaza aid flotilla

NOVANEWS

 

Washingtonpost.com

JERUSALEM — As organizers of a flotilla seeking to challenge Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip prepare to embark on their voyage, Israeli officials are mounting an increasingly vocal campaign to discredit the activists, depicting them as planning violence against troops preparing to intercept the ships.

The effort reflects a high level of concern among Israeli officials about the potential impact of the maritime protest. Israeli commandos who boarded a Turkish ship in a similar flotilla 13 months ago encountered resistance and killed nine people, provoking international condemnation that forced Israel to ease its land blockade of Gaza.

On Tuesday, Israeli newspapers were filled with reports from unnamed military officials, charging that sacks of chemicals, including sulfur, had been loaded onto flotilla vessels with the aim of using the materials against Israeli soldiers. The reports, citing military intelligence sources, said that some activists had spoken in preparatory meetings of their desire to “shed the blood” of soldiers and had threatened to kill those who might board their ships.

“Coming to kill,” said a headline in the Maariv newspaper over a photo of one vessel.

Participants in the flotilla — expected to be made up of 10 ships with pro-Palestinian activists from various nations, including a group from the United States with the prominent American author Alice Walker — have insisted that they will react nonviolently to any Israeli attempt to intercept them.

Israel has said that it will not allow the ships to reach Gaza and that it will use force if necessary. Israeli officials say the naval blockade of Gaza is meant to prevent the smuggling of weapons into the territory, which is controlled by the militant Islamic group Hamas.

Dror Feiler, an Israeli-born activist from Sweden and an organizer of the flotilla, dismissed the reports of violent intent in an interview Tuesday on Israeli army radio.

“We have no intention of confronting anyone,” he said. “All our passengers sign a declaration of nonviolence. We are training for nonviolence, to avoid a repetition of what happened last time.

“The state of Israel, with all its army, security services and everything it has, is going against a bunch of 20 nongovernmental organizations,” Feiler added. “Really, it’s ridiculous.”

In Athens, Scandinavian organizers said Tuesday that one of their ships had been sabotaged by divers who cut its propeller shaft. The ship, the Juliano, was docking in the port of Piraeus and is expected to carry Swedish, Norwegian and Greek activists.

The organizers said that the damage can be repaired and that the ship, named for Juliano Mer-Khamis, an Israeli Arab actor and activist who was shot to death in the West Bank, was expected to sail for Gaza toward the end of the week.

An Israeli army spokeswoman declined to comment on the incident.

Efforts to discredit the flotilla have also been made through social media. But a YouTube video promoted by Israeli government offices and purporting to show a gay rights activist whose offer of help was spurned by flotilla planners has turned out to be a hoax.

In the video, a man identifying himself as Marc claims that his offer on behalf of a network of gay rights activists to bring supplies to the flotilla was rejected. He warns that the flotilla organizers were embracing Hamas, one of whose leaders had denounced gays as “a minority of perverts.”

“Be careful who you get in bed with,” Marc says. “You might wake up next to Hamas.”

The video was posted on the private Twitter account of an intern working in the office of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and later cited in Twitter feeds from the Israeli government press office and the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

After the Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian Web site, identified the man in the video as Omer Gershon, an Israeli actor from Tel Aviv, the press office apologized on Twitter for promoting a hoax and the Foreign Ministry removed a link to the video on its Twitter feed. A spokesman for Netanyahu said the intern had acted without authorization.

 

Posted in GazaComments Off on IsraHell ramps up campaign against Gaza aid flotilla

Greek port on a U.S.-flagged ship

NOVANEWS

Up to 50 Americans are set to sail from a Greek port on a U.S.-flagged ship that is part of an international flotilla carrying humanitarian aid and letters of support for Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinian residents. Its fate is now in limbo under the weight of U.S.-Israeli pressure and Greece’s economic turmoil.

Posted in USAComments Off on Greek port on a U.S.-flagged ship

What does fraudulent “anti-gay flotilla” video tells us about IsraHelli hasbara strategy?

NOVANEWS

by Ali Abunimah

06/28/2011

Last Saturday, The Electronic Intifada revealed the true identity of “Marc,” the star of a YouTube video, who claimed to be a disillusioned activist turned away from the Gaza Freedom Flotilla because he’s gay. He was in fact Omer Gershon, a minor celebrity in Tel Aviv’s club scene.

Israeli government role

Since then the hoax video affair has turned into a major public relations embarrassment for Israel. It seems most likely that the Israeli government, or an organization affiliated with it was behind the video, and it is very possible that more such propaganda is in the works. Robert Mackey writing at The Lede blog of The New York Times has tried to follow the threads of the story:

On Tuesday, an Israeli government official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that while similar efforts to forge what he described as “people to people” diplomacy have been undertaken by various government agencies, as far as he knew the prime minister’s office was not behind this specific video.

Israel’s Haaretz added:

Haaretz sent the prime minister’s office a series of questions inquiring whether the office was involved in the production of the video in any way. The premier’s office in response did not deny that that the government was involved in the video’s production, and admitted that government bodies had distributed the link.

“Various bodies dealing with international media campaigns continuously monitor and distribute internet content when they recognize content that can serve Israel’s campaigns,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

Omer Gershon

No one has been able to get in touch with Omer Gershon, the star of the video, although Mackey noted an interesting but perhaps coincidental detail:

Dina Kraft, a freelance journalist who has contributed to The Times, writes from Israel to point out that she has interviewed Omer Gershon in the past and tried to call him on Tuesday, but was unable to reach him. Ms. Kraft interviewed Mr. Gershon in September, 2009, as part of her research for this Times article about Tel Aviv. At the time, he was helping to run a popular nightclub in the city 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.”

What about Guy Seemann

A lot of attention has been given to Guy Seemann, the 25 year old staffer at the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, who was among the first to tweet the video, and whom The Electronic Intifada spoke to over the weekend. Again, from Mackey of The New York Times:

A spokesman for the Israeli prime minister told The Lede: “Mr. Seemann is a 25-year-old who is interning in our office. His tweet was a mistake on his part. It was done without authorization and without approval. His mistake has been pointed out to him.” Mr. Seemann, who denied that he had had any role in the production of the video and said that it had been sent to him by “a friend,” has deleted his entire Twitter feed. He declined to put The Lede in touch with the friend who informed him about the video.

Thinking about Seemann’s role is important because it may help us understand the strategies Israel is trying to use to disseminate its messages. My working theory is that Seemann almost certainly had nothing to do with the production of the video. I also find it plausible that Seemann disseminated the video unwittingly – that he responded to a request to disseminate the video “from a friend” without being aware that it was part of ahasbara – propaganda – strategy.

Such an attempt to use viral marketing would serve two purposes. First it would allow Israeli government agencies like the Government Press Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to reshare it through various social media as if they were merely passing along interesting content that they had found from ordinary Internet users.

This would fit with what the Israel prime minister’s office explained to Mackey: “Various bodies dealing with international media campaigns continuously monitor and distribute internet content when they recognize content that can serve Israel’s campaigns.”

Secondly, using a strategy that relies on unwitting disseminators would protect whoever is responsible for these propaganda efforts from being exposed.

While the dissemination strategy failed, it remains a mystery who was behind what Haaretzcalled in Hebrew a “fabricated propaganda video” and what else they might have in store.

Coverage and commentary

Posted in GazaComments Off on What does fraudulent “anti-gay flotilla” video tells us about IsraHelli hasbara strategy?

Zio-Nazi requiring Palestinians to pay for their own home demolitions

Posted in Human RightsComments Off on Zio-Nazi requiring Palestinians to pay for their own home demolitions

Don’t attack the Flotilla

NOVANEWS

Don’t attack the Flotilla: Open Letter to Senator Kirk  

www.palestinechronicle.com

Online news magazine and journal about Palestine, IsraHell, the Arab world, and the Middle East. Palestine, IsraHell, Iraq and International news coverage

Posted in GazaComments Off on Don’t attack the Flotilla

Shoah’s pages

www.shoah.org.uk

KEEP SHOAH UP AND RUNNING