Archive | July 2nd, 2011

Palestinian activists: unwelcome guests?


In arresting Mr Salah for remarks he denies he made, a British home secretary is being even more intolerant than Israel

Sheikh Raed Salah, an Israeli citizen who leads the Islamic Movement in Israel, is currently in the immigration removal centre at Heathrow airport. He was three days into a visit during which he addressed public meetings in London and Leicester and the House of Commons when he was arrested and informed that he was the subject of a deportation noticeissued on the grounds that his presence in the country was not “conducive to the public good”.

What has made our government so agitated by his presence? Is it the fact that the sheikh was accused in some British newspapers and one website of making antisemitic statements, which he says were fabricated, and for which he has started libel proceedings? If so, the home secretary is applying a higher threshold for the public good in Britain than Israel itself applies to a man it has not been shy of prosecuting on other issues. Repeated attempts to outlaw the Islamic Movement for incitement have failed in Israel’s high court. Mr Salah has not been convicted of antisemitism, and spoke recently on a platform in Tel Aviv University.

This point was not lost on the far-right Israel Beiteinu party, which, on hearing of Mr Salah’s arrest in London, proposed a bill that could prohibit anyone convicted of aiding terrorist organisations from entering government-funded educational institutions. In apparently arresting Mr Salah for remarks he denies he made and which it has yet to be proved in a court of law that he did make, a British home secretary is being even more intolerant to the representatives of Israel’s Arab minority, 20% of the population, than the state of Israel itself.

Another Palestinian, Dr Ahmad Nofal, a professor of Islamic law at Jordan University who acquired a visa to visit Britain, was told at Amman airport that he would not be permitted entry. If the home secretary is unwise enough to start applying her “prevent” policy to all Palestinian activists Israel has a problem with, Britain will face a backlash in the Arab world. The prime minister Salam Fayyad – no Islamist himself – said Mr Salah’s arrest would harm the Palestinian Authority. Both banned men are close to the Muslim Brotherhood, one of whose leaders, Rached Ghannouchi, lived peacefully in Britain for 22 years.

Both Mr Salah and Mr Nofal were due to speak at an annual Palestinian festival in London. In a separate celebration, Jerusalem Day, rightwing Israeli activists marched into the Arab Old City shouting slogans such as “Muhammad is dead”, “May your village burn”, and “Butcher the Arabs”. This is racist incitement for which no action is being taken. Should Britain be taking lessons from Israel on incitement?

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Weiss’ Knickers in Knot Over Sheikh Salah

Richard Silverstein
Weiss' Knickers in Knot Over Sheikh Salah

For behold, The Weiss breathed fire and smote the wicked, racist enemies of Israel.

Michael Weiss, that insufferable, braying pro-Israel zealot, has his knickers in a knot over Sheikh Salah’s visit to England. The Telegraph blogger began his crusade before Salah arrived, with a shot across the bow on June 22nd, in which he crowed about alleged anti-Semitic statements made by Salah.

Though a number of Weiss’ claims are based on the notoriously unreliable MEMRI and Jerusalem Post, at least one is based on a Haaretz report.  That paper is by no means universally reliable, it is surely a more serious source.  So let’s get this out of the way, since it will surely be Weiss’ first shot when he reads I’ve had the temerity to cross him yet again after his purported Syrian government memo claiming the intelligence services led the Naksa Day protests which led to 15 dead at the hands of the IDF.

If Salah has said the things he’s alleged to have said by Haaretz then he is a truly dim figure and anti-Semite to boot.  But I would note that there are laws against incitement in Israel and though Salah has been charged with violating those laws he’s never been convicted.  I would think if he did say any of these things it should’ve been fairly easy to convict him.  Though again, I’m not making any claims regarding whether or not he said what MEMRI and the others allege.

Further, the Israeli government has attempted to ban the Sheikh’s Islamic movement, but the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the effort. As Ian Black asks in The Guardian:

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

Further, there are several anomalies in Weiss’ coverage and in his omissions from the record.  First, he neglects to mention that Salah was nearly killed by an Israeli Border Police bullet to the head in the first Intifada in 2000.  Second, he neglects to mention that Israeli media reports there are recordings of the Shin Bet asking accused Jewish terrorist Chaim Pearlman to assassinate Salah.

Third, in Weiss’ first Telegraph post he also neglects to mention an important claim that he does make in later ones, that Salah was banned from entering Britain.  This is important because later Weiss and other pro-Israel supporters claimed that he had been banned a week before his entry into England. This would make it appear that Salah was up to no good, possibly used fraudulent documents to gain entry, etc.  The Israeli Palestinian leader’s own attorneys claim he was never aware of such a ban and that he entered England using his Israeli passport.

Now, it’s clear that immigrations officials do stupid things all the time in the U.S., Britain and Israel.  But to allow a wanted man to enter Britain, especially an allegedly wanted Islamist-this strains credulity.  Not to mention that Heathrow immigration authorities would’ve had the plane’s passenger manifest and would’ve had early warning that he was planning to land.  Of course, Weiss and others might insinuate that he traveled under a false name or whatever.  But there is no indication this is true.

What appears to have happened was that Weiss’ report spooked the Home Office and they immediately banned Salah, who may already have entered Britain.  When he writes on June 28th that Salah “somehow” entered Britain a few days earlier, he makes it appear that his entry was based on fraud on the Sheikh’s part or incompetence on the government’s.  When in truth it was likely based on fear of being beaten over the head by Weiss and his Islamophobic cronies.

But now let’s talk a bit about Michael Weiss’ hypocrisy.  No matter how shady Salah’s alleged views about Jews may be, I bet the pro-Israel blogger never uttered a peep when Moshe Feiglin tried to enter Britain (did you, Michael?). Then the Home Office (under a more liberal Labor government) banned Feiglin for his undesirable racist views of Arabs.  Has Weiss ever said that any Israeli racist such as Avigdor Lieberman should be banned from England?  I could list twenty or thirty of his more disgusting comments made in the Israeli Knesset and on television about his fellow Palestinian citizens.  But the former Moldovan bar bouncer and Kach party member is OK, isn’t he?

And if we want to talk about flaming racists, has Weiss ever uttered a word about Israeli Orthodox rabbis who urge that Palestinian citizens be put in concentration camps or that it’s just to murder their children lest they grow up to kill Jews. Yes, rabbis have said those things.  Would you support their banning, Michael?  And if so, will you write to the Home Office encouraging them to do so?  I can provide the names and sources for their comments (and they’re not from the Palestinian version of MEMRI, but from mainstream Israeli press).

Even more importantly, Weiss’ Henry Jackson Society arranged for that handsome, dashing IDF officer Doron Almog*** to speak via video conference to a gathering of the pro-Israel flock eager to hear the good general opine on the topic, Ending Impunity or Decreasing Accountability?: Averting Abuse of Universal Jurisdiction. There would appear to be more than a little bit of self-interest in Almog’s appearance at such a gathering.

Almog couldn’t speak in person because there was a little matter of a warrant for his arrest for ordering the deaths of 18 Palestinian civilians including women and children when the IDF assassinated Salah Shehadeh in 2003.  And lest Weiss blame British law for the ‘nonsense’ of holding potential Israeli war criminals responsible for their actions, we should remember that it is Israeli NGOs like Yesh Din and Israeli human rights lawyers like Michael Sfard, who have spearheaded these efforts.

No matter what you wish to say about Sheikh Salah, he’s never murdered a soul. You can’t say that about Doron Almog.  What’s more, Weiss surely thinks it an outrage that such a man who ordered a bombing that killed Palestinian woman and children should be banned from Britain.  What irks me about the pro-Israel flack is that he likes to play the morality card, as if his are universal values based on justice and morality, while Arab or Muslim values are based on racism and hate.  He’ll never admit to you that there are just as many Israeli Jewish racists as Palestinian, and that many of them are welcome to visit England whenever they wish.  In fact, I’d venture to say Weiss has broken bread in his adopted country with a few of them in his role as one of Israel’s chief apologists.

He’d do a lot better if he calmed down and wrote as many posts about the audacity of Doron Almog and Moshe Feiglin entering England, as he has in the three posts which he’s filled with the spew of yellow journalism regarding Sheikh Salah.

Source: Richard Silverstein

*** Please note that after publishing, MEMO received a call from Weiss, who says that Silverstein was wrong in saying that the Henry Jackson Society hosted Almog. He reiterated that the HJS did not arrange for Almog’s lecture nor did they sponsor it or participate in it as Silverstein suggested. Instead, the HJS sponsored a panel discussion that followed the one with Almog.

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Let the ship go to Gaza


Also would be good to have people sending email messages. Here’s that email address:


Greek Consulates

Please support democracy for everyone by allowing the Gaza Freedom Flotilla to safely depart. We understand that your country is under tremendous pressure to stop the flotilla from setting sail. As citizens of the United States and the world, we urge you to take a stand for justice and equality. Do not allow threats of sabotage to succeed on your watch.

Greece is opposed to the siege of Gaza, but has not been able to end it through ordinary diplomatic means. Governments around the world have failed to make any meaningful improvement in the ghastly conditions in Gaza.

The Palestinians themselves are leading the way with nonviolent resistance to Israel’s occupation, inspiring people around the world to join them. The people aboard the flotilla, including many Greek citizens are taking a stand for human rights for all.  Please follow their lead and allow the boats to sail.

State Department

Please encourage Greece to allow the immediate departure of the the U.S. boat to Gaza, the “Audacity of Hope,” along with the rest of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The passengers aboard, including many U.S. citizens, are acting in the best tradition of the US Civil Rights Movement’s Freedom Riders and taking the lead from Palestinians who are nonviolently opposing Israel’s occupation. They deserve to be honored and protected, not harassed and threatened.
We urge you to exercise your political influence to ensure the safe passage of the entire Gaza Freedom Flotilla, so that it can do the important work of highlighting the siege of Gaza and its 1.6 million inhabitants. Peace is not possible while Gaza is starving.

A year ago, Israel took military action against the Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara in international waters, which led to the deaths of nine civilians on board, including one American citizen. Please safeguard the lives of both the people of Gaza who are under attack by Israel’s policies, and the lives of those aboard the flotilla.

We believe in both the security and rights of Israelis and Palestinians. However, the siege of Gaza only makes Israel more vulnerable to attack, even as it prevents Gazan Palestinians from living freely and accessing the sufficient food, medical supplies and resources they need to live.
The whole world is watching, and you must show that Americans support the human rights of everyone by allowing the flotilla sail to Gaza unimpeded.

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Dorothy Online Newsletter


Dear Friends,

I would have sent this earlier, but took a break to see what Israeli TV news is reporting about the flotilla.  Apparently, the final word is that the Audacity of Hope had to turn back to Greece.  The spokesperson said, however, that the ship will leave on Tuesday.  Will it?  For that to happen the participants are asking our help.  More below.

Today has been a dramatic and upsetting day for the flotilla.  The main drama today has been in Greece, where the Audacity of Hope had hoped to set sail.  Ultimately, Greece bans all boats from leaving her ports to join the flotilla.  The latest is below, an urgent request to call and write.  Please do.  It might not help, but if we sit on our hands and do nothing, that surely won’t help!

There are several messages in item 1.  The latest is on top, by reading down you will have some sense of what the Audacity of Hope participants are feeling.

In addition to the problems that the Audacity of Hope is facing, two boats that were to participate in the flotilla were damaged, one beyond immediate repair.  That is item 2.

In item 3, ‘Waiting for Godot on the Gaza flotilla” Mark LeVine argues among other things that “the flotilla constitutes a provocation, a declaration to Israel that it does not own every aspect of Palestinian existence and that Palestinians too have their international supporters who, if not as militarily and financially powerful as the US government and the various arms of the Israel lobby, are coming into their own as a force to be reckoned with.”

In item 4 Asaf Gefen states in Ynet that Israel has lost the PR war regarding the flotilla, and like some other Israeli commentators believes that Israel would have been smarter to just let the boats get to Gaza.  Very likely true.

Item 5 is a link to a film about Vittorio Arigoni, made before he was killed.  It’s about 50 minutes, well worth watching also for its information on Gaza.

Let’s do our best to help the boats get to sea.  What happens then is another story.  Let’s hope that all the participants will emerge after safe and sound.



1.   1 – 12:45 pm (NYC time)

Another Greek Coast Guard boat has arrived. It seems that something might be happening fairly soon…no idea exactly what or when.

We are getting reports that people are having a hard time getting through to the Greek Embassy in Washington, DC….that just means lots of folks are making calls!!

It also would be good to have people sending email messages. We understand they are all being forwarded to Athens. Here’s that email address:

Below are some of the other Greek Consulate offices around the U.S. They should all be hearing from us!!

Let’s keep the heat on!!



Consulate General – Chicago

650 North St. Clair Street

Chicago , IL 60611

Telephone: 312.335.3915

Fax: 312.335.3958

Web Address:


Consulate General – San Francisco

2441 Gough Street

San Francisco, CA 94123

Telephone: 415.775.2102

Fax: 415.776.6815

Web Address:


Consulate General – Los Angeles

12424 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 800

Los Angeles, CA 90025

Telephone: 310.826.5555

Fax: 310.826.8670

Web Address:


Consulate General – Tampa

601 Bayshore Blvd., Suite 800

Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.865.0200

Fax: 813.865.0206

Web Address:


Consulate – Atlanta

Tower Place, Suite 1670 3340, Peachtree Rd., N.E.

Atlanta, GA 30326

Telephone: 404.261.3313

Fax: 404.262.2798

Web Address:


Consulate – Houston

520 Post Oak Blvd., Suite 450

Houston , TX 77027

Telephone: 713.840.7522

Fax: 713.840.0614

Web Address:





Thank you for your support

Please distribute widely

July 1st – 11:30 am

We urge you to immediately contact the Greek Embassy in Washington, DC at 202-939-1300 and the Greek consulate in your city. Tell them to let The Audacity of Hope

leave Athens safely and sail to Gaza.

Right now there is a stand off between the boat and the Greek Coast Guard. No one is moving and it is not clear what will happen next.

Check our web site and sign up to receive Twitter alerts.





Thank you for your support

Please distribute widely


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US TO GAZA | PO Box 373 | Bearsville | NY | 12409

Jerusalem Post Friday, July 1, 2011 Friday  19:30 IST

Photo by: REUTERS/John Kolesidis

Greece officially bans flotilla ships from departing



‘Audacity of Hope’ organizers say Greek authorities approach ship shortly after leaving port; unclear how moves will affect overall flotilla plans.

The Greek Ministry of Citizen Protection on Friday issued a statement saying that  the Minister, C. Papoutsis, decided to prohibit the departure of ships flying either Greek or foreign flags “to the maritime area” of Gaza.

“By orders of the Hellenic Coast Guard Head Quarters to all local Hellenic Coast Guard Authorities, all appropriate measures are taken for the implementation of the said decision,”| the statement said

The statement said that the “broader maritime area of eastern Mediterranean will be continuously monitored by electronic means for tracking, where applicable, the movements of the ships allegedly participating” in the Gaza flotilla.

While Cyprus had already banned ships headed for Gaza from leaving their ports, the Greeks had not taken this measure until Friday.

The Greek Coast Guard intercepted a boat carrying US activists soon after they set sail from Greece on Friday to join a pro-Palestinian flotilla to Gaza, one of the activists said.

The boat, dubbed The Audacity of Hope, had just left Perama port, near Piraeus, for the open seas, a Reuters witness said.

Minutes earlier, organizers said that the ship’s passengers were preparing to “non-violently resist any efforts to stop the boat,” saying moments later that the boat “is about to set sail,” followed by a message saying that the ship had departed. Through the boat’s twitter feed, organizers said that a Greek Coast Guard vessel approached The Audacity of Hope as it was pulling away from the dock but then sped away.

A flotilla of boats planning to challenge Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip is expected to sail next week, after repeated delays that activists blame on Israeli sabotage. Israel has denied the accusations.

“We are just here, two miles off Piraeus. We’ve been stopped by the coastguard, their ship maneuvered in front of us and they are now talking to the captain, they want us to turn around,” Ann Wright, one of the activists, told Reuters.

“We are non-violent, we pose no threat,” she added, saying that the group was informed of the sailing ban just as it was setting off.

It was not immediately clear how the boat’s departure would affect the overall flotilla plans.



July 01, 2011

Greek authorities stop American ship taking part in Gaza flotilla

American activists aboard ‘The Audacity of Hope’ leave Perama port in Greece, authorities stop ship shortly after departure.

By Amira Hass and Reuters

Tags: Gaza Gaza flotilla US

American activists set sail from Greece on Friday aboard a boat set to take part in the pro-Palestinian flotilla to Gaza, defying calls from Israel to cancel and a ban by Athens.

The boat, dubbed “The Audacity of Hope”, left Perama port for the open seas, a Reuters witness said. Greek authorities said earlier on Friday that ships destined to Gaza were prohibited from leaving Greek ports.

Shortly after leaving the port, Greek authorities stopped the boat, and negotiations are currently underway to determine whether the vessel can continue on its way despite the ban.

The Audacity of Hope is one of many boats that is planning to take part in a flotilla aimed at challenging Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. A spokeswoman announced Friday that it will set sail next week, in spite of repeated delays that activists blame on Israeli sabotage.

“Israel is doing its very, very best to make sure we don’t get out of port,” spokeswoman Greta Berlin said, speaking by telephone from Greece where some of the ships are moored.

“We want to move the boats by July 5 to get to our rendezvous point no later than July 6 or 7 … We will go with what we have,” she added.

The original plan was to have 15 ships set sail, however the current count stands at nine boats hoping to take part in the mission, Berlin said in her statement.

The flotilla is set to head toward Gaza a little over a year after Israeli marines stormed another pro-Palestinian flotilla that had approached the strip. Nine activists died in the on-board clashes, provoking an international outcry.


2.   Free Gaza Movement



JUNE 30, 2011

Sabotage of M.V. Saoirse in Turkey

‘an act of international terrorism’

The Irish-owned ship, the MV Saoirse, that was meant to take part in Freedom Flotilla 2 has been sabotaged in a dangerous manner in the Turkish coastal town of Göcek, where it had been at berth for the past few weeks. Visual evidence of the undership sabotage, which was carried out by divers, will be presented today at a press conference in Dublin at 11am in Buswell’s Hotel. Photographs and video footage of the damage are available from the Irish Ship to Gaza campaign.

Concerns for the boat first emerged on Monday evening following a short trip near the Göcek marina and an inspection was carried out by divers and by skipper Shane Dillon on Tuesday morning. Evidence was found that the shaft of the starboard propeller has been interfered with and it was decided to take the boat out of the water for a further visual inspection. On Wednesday, the boat was put on land at a local shipyard and the extent of the sabotage was immediately visible.

The propeller shaft had been weakened by saboteurs who cut, gouged or filed a piece off the shaft. This had weakened the integrity of the shaft, causing it to bend badly when put in use. The damage was very similar to that caused to the Juliano, another flotilla ship, in Greece. The consequent damage would have happened gradually as the ship was sailing and would have culminated in a breach of the hull.

The Irish Ship to Gaza campaign believes that Israel has questions to answer and must be viewed as the chief suspect in this professional and very calculating act of sabotage.

Commenting on the attack from Göcek in Turkey, Dr Fintan Lane, national coordinator of Irish Ship to Gaza, who own the vessel, said: “This is an appalling attack and should be condemned by all right-thinking people. It is an act of violence against Irish citizens and could have caused death and injury. If we had not spotted the damage as a result of a short trip in the bay, we would have gone to sea with a dangerously damaged propeller shaft and the boat would have sunk if the hull had been breached. Imagine the scene if this had happened at nighttime.”

He continued: “One of the most shocking aspects is the delayed nature of the sabotage. It wasn’t designed to stop the ship from leaving its berth; instead, it was intended that the fatal damage to the ship would occur while she was at sea and this could have resulted in the deaths of several of those on board. This was a potentially murderous act.”

Dr Lane, who was on board Challenger 1 in last year’s flotilla, said: “The Freedom Flotilla is a non-violent act of practical and humanitarian solidarity with the people of Gaza, yet Israel continues to use threats and violence to delay its sailing. They attacked us in international waters last year; now they are attacking us in Turkish and Greek ports. There is no line that Israel won’t cross.”

“We will not be intimidated by attacks like this – it simply highlights the aggression that the Palestinian people of Gaza have to put up with on a daily basis. It strengthens our determination to continue until this illegal and immoral blockade is lifted.”

Calling on the government and northern executive to demand safe passage for Freedom Flotilla 2, Dr Lane said: “The Irish government needs to publicly condemn this dangerous act of sabotage but it also should insist on the flotilla being allowed to make it to Gaza unhindered. Israel has no right to interdict the flotilla and even less right to carry out attacks against vessels in Greek and Turkish ports.”

“It is important that everybody make their voices heard in solidarity with the people of Gaza and in support of the flotilla. The Israeli embassy should become a focal point for street demonstrations. These saboteurs came very close to killing Irish citizens.”

Also speaking from Göcek, the skipper of the MV Saoirse, Shane Dillon, said: “The damage sighted and inspected on the starboard propeller shaft on the MV Saoirse had the potential to cause loss of life to a large number of those aboard. The nature of the attack and malicious damage was such that under normal circumstances the vessel would most likely have sunk at sea. If the ship was operating at high engine revs, the damage done by the saboteurs would have caused the shaft to shear and the most likely outcome would be the rupturing of the hull and the vessel foundering. If, as was intended, the vessel had proceeded to Gaza at reduced revs, the stern tube would have been forced off line and a large and rapid ingress of water would have resulted, sinking the vessel.”

Mr Dillon continued: “The shaft was filmed and photographed when the vessel was lifted from the water on Wednesday afternoon in a shipyard in the Turkish coastal village of Göcek. A local marine engineer inspected the shaft and his opinion was that the interference was the work of professional saboteurs intent on disabling the Saoirse. However, the most shocking aspect of the attack was that its intention was to cause failure of the shaft when the vessel was offshore and this shows a total disregard for human life.”

He ended: “It is also worth noting that the damage inflicted on the Saoirse was identical to that that caused to the Greek/Swedish ship, the Juliano, which was sabotaged in the Greek port of Piraeus a few days ago.”

Pat Fitzgerald, a Sinn Fein member of Waterford County Council and chief engineer on the Saoirse, commented: “We were very lucky to discover this act of sabotage when we did. We felt vibrations from the shaft as we were returning to the berth on Monday evening following a short trip in the bay for refuelling purposes. Close inspection by divers on Tuesday and then on land on Wednesday revealed a large man-made gouge on one side of the propeller shaft. The integrity of the shaft had been compromised and a very serious bend had developed. This could have caused fatalities had we set to sea and almost certainly would have sunk the boat when the engine revs were increased. It was an act of sheer lunacy and endangered the lives of all on board.”

The sabotage has been reported to the harbour master in Göcek and Irish Ship to Gaza are asking for a full investigation by the Turkish police.

The repairs have yet to be fully costed but could be more than E15,000 and they will take some time, meaning that the Saoirse cannot participate in Freedom Flotilla 2.

However, six of the 20 crew and passengers aboard the Saoirse will transfer to another ship in the flotilla. The six Irish who will join the Italian/Dutch ship are Fintan Lane, national coordinator of Irish Ship to Gaza and a member of the Free Gaza Movement; Trevor Hogan, former Ireland and Leinster rugby player; Paul Murphy, Socialist Party MEP for Dublin; Zoe Lawlor of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign; Hussein Hamed, a Libyan-born Irish citizen; and Gerry MacLochlainn, a Sinn Fein member of Derry City Council.

The MV Saoirse will be repaired and used in future flotillas to Gaza if they are needed.


Ireland: Claudia Saba at 086 3938821, or Laurence Davis at 086 3605053

Turkey: Phone Fintan Lane (Göcek) at 087 1258325, or 537557811 (Turkish number)


3. Al Jazeera Last Modified: 01 Jul 2011 14:41

Waiting for Godot on the Gaza flotilla

Unlike the existentialist play, Palestinians are facing a meaningful struggle to stay human in the face of oppression.

Mark LeVine

The flotilla constitutes a provocation, a declaration to Israel that it does not own every aspect of Palestinian existence and that Palestinians too have international supporters [REUTERS]

I left Gaza just as word began to circulate of attempts by various governments – the United States, Greece, Cyprus, and even UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon – to prevent or at least delay the departure of the boats participating in the latest Gaza flotilla. Staring out into the mid-night darkness of the Mediterranean Sea on one of Gaza’s beautiful yet rubbish-strewn beaches, it wasn’t hard to imagine the chaos that would soon unfold if, somehow, the ships manage to get close to shore. Given the violence that greeted the last flotilla, few Gazans I know expect the latest flotilla to make it.

Indeed, for Gazans anticipating the arrival of the supplies, and as important the solidarity, that the latest flotilla would bring, the wait seemed until today likely to end no better than the proverbial wait for Godot. The political theatre that will no doubt surround the flotilla’s approach could similarly rival the absurdity of Beckett’s existentialist masterpiece.

Commentators on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have long compared the long wait for peace and justice in Israel/Palestine to Waiting for Godot. But the meaning of the waiting could not be more different.

For Beckett, the waitings constitute a rumination on the meaninglessness of human existence despite all our attempts to fabricate semblances of order and purpose. But the protagonists of Godot are at least free to

construct a meaningful narrative for their lives, if they can muster the will. They have the freedom to embrace choice in the context of the larger meaninglessness of life; indeed, life’s innate purposelessness opens the

very possibility of creating a different future than the one seemingly before you.

But if the Israelis have their way, the endless wait in Gaza, and the cccupied territories more broadly, suggests a very different and more pernicious meaning: We own you. We determine what you can or cannot do, where you can and cannot live and go, who can and cannot be part of your lives. You in fact have no freedom save what we give to you; there is no point to your waiting.

And this waiting has been going on a very long time. The Israeli siege of Gaza that defines life in the enclave today did not begin in 2009 with the invasion. Nor did it begin with the gradual closing in of Gaza at the start of the Oslo peace process.

Geography of occupation

Rather, the occupation has always been defined by an ever-tightening siege, with Palestinians increasingly surrounded and hemmed in by settlements, walls, check points, F-16s, Apaches helicopters and the bullets and bombs that rain down from them. They are confined bypass roads, closed military zones, “parks” and other areas built on the ruins of what was there before. Together the geography of the occupation has always constrained their freedom of movement, their livelihoods, even their dreams of a better future.

In such conditions, “staying human,” as the murdered ISM activist Vittorio Arrigoni famously put it, has became one of the most difficult but important acts of resistance, as one of the primary goals and tactics of the occupation has always been dehumanisation.

In this context, the reason the Gaza flotilla has been treated as such a threat by Israel is not the cargo it carries. There are numerous ways Israel could check to ensure weapons are not being smuggled in while

allowing participants to complete their voyage. Nor is the danger ultimately symbolic, as many argue. Rather, the political and strategic implications of the flotilla are quite real. It symbolises that Palestinians and their international supporters refusing to play by Israel’s rules, and forcing the Israeli state to reveal the basic, ugly immorality of an occupation that has always presented itself as a necessary if unfortunate act of


In short, the flotilla constitutes a provocation, a declaration to Israel that it does not own every aspect of Palestinian existence and that Palestinians too have their international supporters who, if not as militarily and financially powerful as the US government and the various arms of the Israel lobby, are coming into their own as a force to be reckoned with.

Most important, the Arab uprisings of the last six months have shown Israel what happens when highly repressive regimes show signs of weakness; within days, for seemingly inconsequential reasons, they can lose control of their populations and even collapse. And for Israel, losing power over Palestinians would mean not merely the end of the occupation, but the end of Israel as an ethnocentric Jewish state.

Contrasting narratives

Israel well understands the stakes if the narrative represented by the flotilla were ever to penetrate into global consciousness, which is why it considers the propaganda war surrounding the flotilla and other acts of non-violent resistance, whether protesting land seizures in villages like Bil’in or the growing academic and cultural boycott, to be as big a threat as Palestinian militancy. It is not surprising, then, that it is a master at the game of “hasbara,” or propaganda – literally, in Hebrew, of explaining itself to the outside world.

Flotilla on the way? Announce you’re letting in a few hundred million dollars in construction materials, so Secretary of State Clinton can faithfully echo your commitment as a justification for opposing the flotilla, while her assistants salute the “established and efficient” mechanisms for getting supplies into Gaza.

Talk of continued siege? Put up a website, such as “Gaza Flotilla 101” with pretty pictures of well-stocked markets filled with smiling children (not like any market I’ve seen in Gaza, but who cares?) and descriptions of how rapidly Gaza’s economy is growing. Add a heavy dose of revelations about how how badly Hamas persecutes Christians and anyone else who doesn’t follow their directives and you’ve created just enough confusion to allow the average American to move on, leaving Israel to do whatever it wants without fear of too much protest.

Name your boat the “Audacity of Hope” and the Israelis will warn you of “dangerous consequences” for approaching Gaza’s territorial waters – which, we shouldn’t forget, have recently been discovered to contain significant petroleum reserves. Israel is safe in the knowledge that the US government will threaten you with imprisonment (if you survive the journey) for “attempting to conspiring to deliver material support or other resources to or for the benefit of a designated foreign terrorist organisation”.

Explaining US support

The stakes are indeed quite high for Israel. But why is the United States so supportive of not merely just the siege of Gaza, but Israel’s willingness to kill American citizens to stop a peace flotilla (one of the activists killed in the last flotilla by Israeli forces was an American, but the Obama administration did not offer the slightest protest)?

Quite simply, the US has almost as much invested in Israel’s full control over Palestinian territory as does the Jewish state. More than any of America’s Arab allies, Israel is the linchpin of the entire US strategic/military system in the region.

A radical change in Israel, its transformation from a militarised, occupation society toward a full democracy – which is precisely what the flotilla aims to help bring about – would pose a mortal danger to US dominance of the region.

Why else would Clinton all but signal that Israel can injure and even kill more Americans with impunity, and that those who support Palestinian rights and non-violent resistance can be subject to secret monitoring by the FBI, and to arrest and prosecution?

This process mirrors the criminalisation of peaceful resistance in Israel, and is even been copied in Europe, where pro-Palestinian activists have been brought up on charges of anti-Semitism in France merely for

broadcasting programs in support of the BDS movement.

The flotilla is among the most important international responses to the siege of Gaza. Another increasingly important strategy is the cultural and academic boycott of Israel, which first gained significant international

currency in the wake of the 2009 invasion. The idea of artists and academics boycotting Israel is among the most contentious strategies of the non-violent resistance against the occupation precisely because the act of collaboration defines the professional life of so many artists and scholars, who see joint work not merely as standing above politics, but as helping to break down political boundaries.

I will discuss the increasingly vitriolic debate surrounding the academic and cultural boycott of Israel more in an upcoming column. Here I will point out merely that the idea of art or science has, or should, remain above the political fray is ludicrous. Both have always been highly politicised, and attempting to neuter them almost always produces bad art or science.

What musician or social scientist would presently go to Libya, Syria or Bahrain to work with government sponsored colleagues while these states engage in such oppression against their citizens? And how would colleagues react if she did? Who would have supported collaborating with Serbian institutions in the mid-1990s, or with official Chinese institutions in Tibet today?

But as long as Israel can portray itself as essentially an essentially “western” and thus “civilised” country, it’s somehow okay to collaborate with institutions and individuals that enable the occupation at many levels. Artists who would never imagine themselves playing Sun City under apartheid, or any number of repressive regimes today, will perform in Tel Aviv without a second’s thought.

Changing the debate

Palestinians refuse to accept these arguments anymore. After two decades of a “peace industry” that has demanded Palestinians work with and through Israelis and accept a discourse of peace that has born only bitter fruit as the price of obtaining funds or support from the West, Palestinians at the grass roots level and their supporters (including a growing number of Israeli Jews, it needs to be pointed out) have had enough, and have retaken control of the methods and language and discourse of resistance.

The boycott movement is, like the flotilla, a direct provocation and a refusal to accept Israel’s terms of reference for discussing or even negotiating around the conflict, or compromise on core principles to reach

a solution, as happened at the very start of Oslo with disastrous results. What the movement reflects is a rights-based rather than solution-oriented discourse, precisely because Palestinians have little hope for a

negotiated solution in the near future without a radical change in the balance of power between the two sides.

However improbable as it might presently seem, strategies such as the flotilla, the BDS movement and other forms of militant non-violent resistance do have a chance for defeating the strategy of violence and large-scale imprisonment that has long defined Israeli rule in the Occupied Territories. Just as I write these lines, Haaretz newspaper is reporting that the IDF has admitted that it has “no way to stop mass non-violent protests in the West Bank”. And mass here means merely several thousand protesters, nothing like the hundreds of thousands of people necessary to bring down Ben Ali and Mubarak.

According to one IDF official: “A non-violent protest of 4,000 people or more, even if they only march to a checkpoint or a settlement, and especially if the Palestinian police do not deter them, will be

unstoppable.” We could similarly imagine the impossibility of stopping the next flotilla if it grows to dozens of boats, or even hundreds.

When coupled with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s warning that if Palestinians give up the two-state idea and simply demand Israeli passports, Israel will have no choice but to choose between rank apartheid and becoming a true non-sectarian democracy, the way forward to achieving real peace, justice and democracy  becomes clear.

Peaceful militancy

For me, the most part of this whole scenario is precisely that despite – or better, because of – its level of militancy and uncompromising politics, efforts like the Gaza flotilla and boycott movements are actually bringing together Israelis and Palestinians in solidarity and comradeship, and as important, producing innovative art and scholarship, that are hard for outsiders to imagine.

The fact is, once you leave your narrow ethnocentric identity beyond, the possibility of building alliances, trust and even deep friendships across the divides of religion and nation becomes strikingly clear. It is what allows well-known Jewish Israeli director Udi Aloni to work with Palestinian actors on a production of Waiting for Godot, and Jews and other non-Palestinians to play a crucial role in the Gaza flotilla or the movements to protect Palestinian lands in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

By working together without compromise and for a common goal of full democracy, Palestinians and their supporters from Israel and beyond are in fact taking the revolutionary spirit of the last half year to the next

level. However improbable it might seem today, their success will go a long way toward ensuring the long term survival of the still tenuous revolutions that today surround Israel/Palestine from every direction.

Mark Levine is a professor of history at the University of California, Irvine and author, most recently, of Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam (Random House 2008) and Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989 (Zed Books, 2009).

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


4.    Ynet,

July 01, 2011

PR Failure

Israel losing PR war, again Photo: Reuters

Israel lost flotilla war

Op-ed: Best way to counter PR flotilla to Gaza Strip would have been to ignore it,7340,L-4089840,00.html

Asaf Gefen

When the first reports surfaced about yet another international flotilla heading to Gaza, it was difficult to understand its aims. After all, the opening of the Rafah Crossing put an end to the halcyon days of Israel’s blockade on Gaza, and we are now hearing about an improvement in the standard of living in the Strip; according to optimistic predictions, it may rise to almost-humane levels this year.

However, slowly we are discovering that the latest flotilla has its own objectives. If the Marmara that took part in the previous sail sought to present Israel’s brutality to the world (and managed to do so, thanks to our kind assistance,) it appears that the current flotilla was meant to present Israel’s stupidity.

At this time already, when it’s still unclear whether and when the ships shall arrive, it appears that this objective had also been fully achieved.

First, at this current stage, which is replete with belligerent Israeli statements, we can see the Israeli government’s impressive willingness to accurately reenact every critical mistake made in the previous round.

This includes virtuous disregard for the fact that the failure in the Marmara affair had to do with the very attempt to stop a symbolic flotilla in a way that would turn it into a much greater symbol; indeed, the thickness of the rope soldiers slid down on to get on board the ship was not the issue.

This conduct is even more bizarre when we realize that this time around there is no chance whatsoever that the ships are transferring something to Gaza that has not been brought into the Strip via Egypt 50 times already since this morning.

Moreover, instead of realizing that the best way to counter a public relations flotilla is to ignore it, Israel’s PR geniuses made sure to promote the event with spine-tingling leaks to the media about flotilla members being equipped with chemical weapons, laser guns and dragons.

The only optimistic aspect of this conduct is the hope that flotilla organizers would realize that they don’t really have to sail here and get seasick and all. Their objective – isolating Israel on the international stage and driving it mad – had already been secured.


5.  [good film.  I watched most but not all of it due to time constraints.  It’s about 50 minutes long.  Dorothy]

Staying Human

Made before his death, this film follows human rights activist Vittorio Arrigoni as he tries to help the people of Gaza.

Staying Human can be seen from Tuesday, June 28, at the following times GMT: Tuesday: 2000; Wednesday: 1200; Thursday: 0100; Friday: 0600; Saturday: 2000; Sunday: 1200.

Worth to see it! All the best! Cornelia

NEU: FreePhone – kostenlos mobil telefonieren!
Jetzt informieren:

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Fighting ‘hate speech’ smears on Sheikh Salah

Dr. Robert Lambert

Dr. Robert Lambert 

Established visitors to Britain like popular Muslim speaker Zakir Naik have also fallen foul of this same policy to ban ‘hate preachers’.

Palestinian activist Sheikh Raed Salah was barred from the UK due to unfair allegations from neo-conservatives.

Writing in the Guardian newspaper Hanan Zoabi, a member of the Knesset, where she represents the Balad Party, asks how Sheikh Raed Salah’s “struggle for equality” has become a “form of racism?”

She is no doubt perplexed to find a fellow defender of the Palestinian liberation struggle defined as a ‘hate-preacher’ by the British Government. “Since when” she pleads, “have states that boast of their democratic credentials acquired the right to arrest people for their political views?”

To answer Zoabi’s questions and to explain the extraordinary decisions to ban, arrest and deport the Palestinian leader Sheikh Raed Salah from Britain it is necessary to understand the long standing role of influential pro-Israel, neo-conservative lobby groups in Westminster and Washington.

The best place to start is 9/11. As we approach the tenth anniversary of al-Qaeda’s terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon it has become fashionable to suggest that the worst excesses of the war on terror are behind us.

In truth, the pro-Israel, neo-conservative architects of the war on terror in Washington will be celebrating their ongoing success in falsely conflating a war against Palestinian resistance with what might otherwise have been a legitimate counter-terrorism strategy against al-Qaeda terrorists.

A key ingredient in this success has been to adopt the powerful and pejorative term ‘hate-preacher’ to describe leaders of Palestinian resistance against Israeli oppression and to put them in the same category as al-Qaeda terrorists.

Although taking their cue from sister think-tanks like Middle East Forum in Washington, Westminster based lobby groups and their media acolytes including Policy Exchange, Henry Jackson Society and the Centre for Social Cohesion, have been at the forefront of a decade long campaign to reduce Palestinian resistance leaders to the same status as al-Qaeda terrorists.

When the Washington based cheerleader for the war on terror Daniel Pipes came to Westminster in 2006 to chastise Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London at the time, for inviting Sheikh Yusef al Qaradawi to London, he insisted that politicians in Westminster should adopt a tougher response to ‘hate preachers’ like Qaradawi. Policy Exchange led the Westminster based campaign to endorse and cement Pipes’ recommendation as policy.

Regrettably Westminster politicians like Ken Livingstone and Jeremy Corbyn, who was due to share a platform with Sheikh Raed Salah in London this week, are few and far between. Whether Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat, those politicians with their hands on the levers of power in Westminster have consistently adopted pro-Israeli recommendations to denigrate Palestinian support as anti-Semitic ‘hate speech’.

‘Hate speech’ and ‘hate preacher’ has also been used to conflate Palestinian resistance leaders with leaders of far right organisations like Nick Griffin of the British National Party. This invidious denigration has been aimed at Muslim leaders in Britain as well as those abroad. Dean Godson, the architect of Policy Exchange’s strategy in this arena, was the first to argue that mainstream Muslim leaders in Britain who failed to condemn Palestinian resistance in the same terms as al-Qaeda terrorism were on par with racist leaders like Griffin.

Established visitors to Britain like popular Muslim speaker Zakir Naik have also fallen foul of this same policy to ban ‘hate preachers’. Naik’s case in particular highlights the double standard that is being applied to the detriment of Muslim leaders in and outside Britain. It is inconceivable to think that a charismatic religious speaker of any other faith would have been banned from Britain for saying exactly the same as Naik.

Since British Home Secretary Theresa May unveiled a tough new ‘Prevent’ strategy last month that aims to crackdown on ‘extremists’ it has become inevitable that the pro-Israel, neo-con think-tanks in Westminster would become pro-active in their efforts to highlight candidates for exclusion like Sheikh Raed Salah. They will be delighted with the outcome, notwithstanding an apparent administrative slip up that initially allowed Sheikh Salah to enter Britain without question.

It is the great success of the pro-Israel, neo conservative lobby in Washington and Westminster that they have achieved an exceptional status for Palestinian and Muslim leaders. The war on terror has provided them with perfect cover.

However, Sheikh Salah and his supporters may have the last laugh. The British judiciary remains a thorn in the side of Westminster politicians who attempt to side step legal process in the name of the war on terror – or now, as part of a strategy to prevent extremism and hate speech as this counter-subversion strategy has been re-branded. If he is allowed to appeal the deportation decision, a British judge may well take the view that Sheikh Salah has far more in common with Nelson Mandela than the late Osama bin Laden or Nick Griffin.

Anger and frustration with Israeli oppression is hardly the same as unwarranted hatred of a minority or majority community of any kind.

Moreover, it is widely understood in Britain that Mandela’s resort to terrorism against the apartheid regime in South Africa is inherently distinguishable from al-Qaeda’s development of the same terrorist tactic. Former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband went further and suggested that the terrorist tactics of Mandela’s group, the African National Congress, could be morally justified.

However, unlike Palestinian and Muslim leaders since 9/11, Mandela has never been asked to renounce the political grievances that prompted his resort to terrorism – merely the tactic of terrorism. The same is true of former Sin Fein and IRA leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness who remain staunch Irish republicans to this day.

It is difficult to find anything in Sheikh Salah’s so-called hate speech that would not have occasioned an entirely opposite response from the British Home Secretary had the words been uttered by a non-Muslim visiting Britain.

It is to be hoped that common sense will prevail in this case. If Sheikh Salah is able to share future platforms with the London MP Jeremy Corbyn they will form a strong alliance against political injustice which is the only sound basis for public safety in the age of al-Qaeda inspired terrorism. Corbyn has demonstrated how effective Palestinians such as Mohammed Sawlaha have been against al-Qaeda propagandists in London. Together Corbyn and Salah offer justice and hope against the real purveyors of hate speech in Westminster and Washington.

Posted in UKComments Off on Fighting ‘hate speech’ smears on Sheikh Salah

Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


Irish flotilla ship will not sail to Gaza due to extensive sabotage
Jun 29, 2011 10:02 pm | annie

It pains me to write this.


Terrible news has reached us in the early hours of Thursday – the Irish Ship To Gaza, MV Saoirse, has been SABOTAGED, presumably by agents of Israel. The damage is extensive, and indeed, if it had gone undetected apparently may have been lıfe-threatenıng if the ship had been at sea.

This is an unacceptable act of aggression against an Irish vessel (which is sovereign Irish territory), against the Freedom Flotilla, and most importantly against the people of Palestine which this flotilla was intending to reach in an act of humanitarian solidarity. has also reported the Irish ship, the MV Saoirse, is no longer taking part in the flotilla because it has been “dangerously” sabotaged.

“This was the type of sabotage that endangered human life,” Mr Lane said last night. “They put divers under the boat who cut a piece out of the propeller shaft. That means that the damage would have happened gradually and what would have happened eventually is that the propeller would have come up through the bottom of the boat, caused a flood in the engine room and would have caused the boat to sink.”

He said the attack was “unnerving” for the crew, classifying it as a “violent attack” on the lives of those aboard. He said pictures detailing the damage to the ship would be published by the campaign today during a press conference in Dublin.

Mr Lane said that, due to the extent of the damage, the MV Saoirse would not be in a position to sail, adding that just six of the 20-plus crew who had been due to set sail would be able to take part in the flotilla by joining an Italian-based vessel today.

Prisoner woes: a 14-year-old, an 18-year-old missile victim with one leg, and the father worried sick about his son who’s been held in solitary for 40 days

Jun 29, 2011


and other news from Today in Palestine:

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

Wikimania 2011 sponsored by Israel government company that develops East Jerusalem
AIC 28 June — …EJDC projects, including settlements, conservation areas and new “heritage” sites, have been sprouting up steadily across East Jerusalem. Palestinian residents in Silwan, for example, are under direct threat from the excavation of the “City of David”, while the Jerusalem Municipality has issued plans to convert much of the Wadi Hilweh and Al-Bustan neighbourhoods into a settler-run archaeological park. To support this plan, Palestinians are evacuated from their homes, denied building permits, and demolition orders are often issued through the municipality on tenuous licensing pretenses.
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AICafe 28.6.11 Landscape eco-museum project in Battir
Battir, a village of some 4,000 inhabitants in the Bethlehem area, borders Beit Jala, the villages of Husan and Al Walaje and the Green Line in the north. Battir residents received numerous Israeli military orders aimed at seizing Battir’s lands for various Israeli purposes. Some 900 dunams of land have been confiscated in the area of the “western countryside villages” for the building of the Separation Wall. Battir is also constantly exposed to the establishment of mobile checkpoints and a new settlement is planned on the hill between Battir and Al Walaje.  The project Battir Landscape Eco-museum: Management and Conservation of Natural and Cultural Resources of Bethlehem Governorate aims to protect the territory from Israeli land confiscation. The establishment of a Landscape Eco-museum is the output of several years of participatory research and planning.
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IOA orders demolition of Maghrabi Bridge
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 29 June — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) has ordered the demolition of the bridge leading to the Maghareba gate in the Aqsa Mosque in September to benefit from international preoccupation with the UN vote on recognizing a Palestinian state. Hebrew daily Ha’aretz said on Wednesday that the Israeli police recommendation of that date was meant to coincide with the UN vote to ensure that Arab reaction would be minimal. It said that the Israeli police force was still fearing confrontations in occupied Jerusalem as a result of the demolition process. The Maghareba gate is controlled by the IOA and is the only entrance gate for the Jews to the holy Aqsa Mosque.
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Israeli court rules to evict 8 Arab families in Ramla
RAMLA (WAFA) 29 June — An Israeli court Wednesday ruled to evict eight Arab families from their houses in Ramla city in Israel within a month, under the pretext of being ‘unprotected tenants’. The owner of the houses, Abdel Razek El-Ajou, said that he bought a piece of land and a house from the Israel Lands Administration (ILA) in 1960, through a protected lease by the Israeli housing company, Amidar. He built new houses for his sons in line with the contract, where the house owners paid monthly rents to the company. “Five years ago, Amidar stopped receiving the rents and filed a law suit against us in the court demanding to evict us. The company claimed that we are unprotected tenants. The court decided to uproot and evict us,” El-Ajou added
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IOF confiscates hundreds of Ramallah dunums
RAMALLAH (PIC) 29 June — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) confiscated hundreds of Palestinian dunums surrounding the villages of Mazra‘a Gharbiya and Janiya to the west of Ramallah city, citizens told the PIC on Tuesday. Supplying the PIC with the published map, they said that IOF troops and settlers stormed the confiscated land on Monday and installed signs on it, adding that the settlers had survey maps and that engineers with necessary equipment worked on outlining the land. They said that the IOF told the Red Cross, who was delegated by those citizens to inquire about the issue, that the land, rich with olive trees, was confiscated. The commander of the civil administration of the West Bank said in his decision that the land was expropriated according to the absentee law issued by the IOF after occupying the West Bank, which stipulates the expropriation of any land, which owners left and immigrated outside Palestine. [or if they can’t access their land for several years because they’re not allowed to]
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Israel to seize 189 dunums of Palestinian land in Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 28 June — Israeli forces Wednesday handed landowners seizure notices to take over 189 dunums (1 Dunum=1000 Square Meters) of Palestinian land in Qaryut, a village south of Nablus.  Ghassan Daghlas, the official of the settlement file in the north of the West Bank, said that Israeli forces banned the Palestinians from entering their land, which they considered ‘state property’.
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Outpost razed; settlers clash with police
Ynet 29 June — Three buildings at illegal outpost Ramat Migron demolished; two girls arrested for throwing paint bottle at police
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Watch: Settlers and Palestinians who chose to live as neighbors / Harvey Stein
972blog 29 June — There’s a loose “movement” taking place in the West Bank: some settlers and Palestinians are meeting. It pushes the envelope on both sides, making a lot of people cynical — or angry (I have some leftist Israeli friends who think it’s totally hypocritical). Rabbi Menachem Froman, the rabbi of the settlement of Tekoa, is usually viewed as the inspiration for the work.
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IOF troops storm homes of liberated prisoners, round up child among others
JENIN (PIC) 29 June — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed the village of Anin west of Jenin city on Wednesday and broke into the homes of a number of liberated prisoners, local sources said. Eyewitnesses told the PIC reporter that the officer accompanying the soldiers met with a number of ex-prisoners and warned them against indulging in anti Israel activity. He also told them that they are under close watch. They said that the soldiers burst into a number of shops and questioned citizens.
Meanwhile, IOF soldiers arrested two Palestinians in Husan village, west of Bethlehem city, including a 14-year-old child and took them away blindfolded and handcuffed after terrorizing their families.
The soldiers on Tuesday detained four Palestinians in Al-Khalil, human rights sources told the PIC, adding that they were taken to Etzion detention center.
In the Negev, Israeli border police arrested 100 Palestinian workers from the West Bank in the village of Rahet for working in 1948 occupied land without permit.
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Israel to crack down on Hamas prisoners’ contact with Gaza leadership
Haaretz 29 June — New move comes as government steps up effort to toughen conditions of Palestinian security prisoners.
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Detainee’s father concerned for son’s health
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 June — The father of a Palestinian detained in an Israeli prison expressed concern for his son’s health, a prisoners’ center reported. Haitham Salhiya’s father learned from released detainees that his son was put in solitary confinement in a cell the size of a small mattress for 19 consecutive days in Al-Saba prison. He was later put in isolation for 21 consecutive days in Ramon prison.
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Italian photographer captures suffering of Palestinian female prisoners, tells true story to the world / Falastine Al-Remawi
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 29 June — Italian photographer Venturo Formicone Wednesday inaugurated his photographic exhibition ‘Suspended Lives’ in Ramallah, which supports and gives voice to Palestinian female ex-prisoners  and prisoners in Israeli prisons, shedding light on the human rights violations they have been subjected to … “When I presented these photographs in Madrid last February, I saw people stop, check each photo and read the story, which is a way to support Palestinians. The Spanish government funded this work and that also shows support to the Palestinian issue. Each photo says I am a former prisoner, I am a human being,” he added.
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Arrest of Sheikh Raed Salah in Britain

Islamic Movement leader in Israel arrested in London
Haaretz 29 June — Head of northern branch of Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Ra‘ad Salah, expected to be deported from U.K.; reason for arrest unknown … Zahi Nujeidat, spokesperson for the northern branch of the movement, told Haaretz Wednesday morning that Salah was arrested at the hotel where he was staying after a speaking engagement in the U.K. city of Leicester.  Nujeidat said that there is no explanation for the Islamic leader’s arrest, but he believes that it is largely due to the Zionist lobby and members of the British Jewish community.
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An Israeli trap for Britain / MK Haneen Zoabi
Guardian 29 June — In arresting Sheikh Raed Salah, the UK authorities support the persecution of Arab citizens of Israel — The decision to ban the Palestinian leader Sheikh Raed Salah from entering Britain, and then to arrest him, was transparently not based on any serious examination of his political activities. It was an ugly kneejerk response to the growing hostility of the Israeli establishment and its supporters abroad towards anyone opposing its racist policies – and a rising tide of Islamophobia in Europe. Salah is head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, and three times elected mayor of the Palestinian town of Umm el-Fahm. He and I represent different political organisations and traditions. But there are no legal or legitimate reasons to pursue him. The Israeli persecution of him has recently intensified, as have its attacks on leaders of Palestinian citizens of Israel more generally.
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Sequence of events surrounding Sheikh Raed Salah’s arrest
London (Pal Telegraph) 29 June  – Sheikh Raed Salah arrived in London on Saturday 25th using his Israeli passport to enter Britain legally as he has done many times before. He was not questioned by anyone and there was no indication of the existence of an exclusion order. Over the past few days, Sheikh Salah has addressed MPs in the British parliament and has spoken in large public gatherings. His subsequent arrest last night will be challenged in the courts as unjustified.
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Activism / Solidarity

IDF has no way of stopping mass non-violent protest in West Bank
Haaretz 29 June — As September draws nearer, the Israel Defense Forces has been conducting drills in order to contend with the possibility of a mass civilian uprising in the West Bank in the wake of the Palestinian bid to seek unilateral recognition in the United Nations. “A non-violent protest of 4,000 people or more, even if they only march to a checkpoint or a settlement, and especially if the Palestinian police does not deter them, will be unstoppable,” one IDF officer claims. “Such a great number of determined people cannot be stopped by tear gas and rubber bullets.”
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Israel continues to hold missile victim arrested at border:
GAZA (PIC) 29 June — Israel continues to hold Ayyub Atallah, 18, from the Gaza Strip, who has suffered extreme health complications after he was hit with shrapnel three years ago, the Gaza Prisoners’ Affairs Ministry said Tuesday. Atallah was arrested on 26 June 2011 on the Beit Hanoun crossing while returning from a trip to get an artificial leg in Slovenia. He lost his leg after Israeli forces launched a missile in April 2008, the ministry’s media director Riyadh al-Ashqar said. Atallah’s crossing of the border was done in coordination with Israel, which waited for his three-year treatment to finish ahead of his arrest. The detention poses grave danger to his health as he requires follow-up.
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IOF troops fire at citizens’ homes south of Gaza
KHAN YOUNIS (PIC) 29 June — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) opened machine gun fire at Palestinian homes and cultivated land lots east of Khan Younis, [in the] south of the Gaza Strip, on Wednesday morning. Media sources said that IOF soldiers stationed at the Kissufim military position to the east of the city opened heavy fire at the Palestinian residential neighborhoods in Qarara and Khuza‘a. They said that the shooting did not cause any casualty but spread panic among the civilians especially women and children.
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The blockade on Gaza began long before Hamas came to power / Mya Guarnieri
972blog 29 June — …Sari Bashi is the founder and director of Gisha, an Israeli NGO that advocates for Palestinian freedom of movement. She says that the gradual closure of Gaza began in 1991, when Israel canceled the general exit permit that allowed most Palestinians to move freely through Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Non-Jewish residents of Gaza and the West Bank were required to obtain individual permits. This was during the First Intifada. While the mere mention of the word invokes the image of suicide bombers in the Western imagination, it’s important to bear in mind that the First Intifada was, by and large, a non-violent uprising comprised of civil disobedience, strikes, and boycotts of Israeli goods.
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Gaza children aim to break world records
GAZA (Ma‘an) 29 June — More than three thousand students from the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees are expected to break the first of four Guinness world records Thursday as part of a summer games program organized by UNRWA … The world records being attempted include the largest amount of people flying large parachutes from the ground, which was set last year at 1,547. The event will be held at the Khan Younis stadium. “We intend to double the previous record”, said UNRWA spokesman, Chris Gunness. “If kids in Gaza are given half the chance, free from the constraints of this counter-productive blockade, they would show their full potential and be number one in the world. These records will put the spotlight on the world’s only community of hundreds of thousands of fenced in and locked up children. The message is simple: Give Gaza kids their freedom to be children. We need to end this blockade, which has become a blockade against childhood itself.”
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Breaking news (so far unconfirmed) Deadly sabotage on Irish ship
29 June — Author: smac | DerryFriendsofPalestine — Irish ship to gaza has been sabotaged by underwater divers Life threatening damage has been done to the boat which could have resulted in the deaths of Irish people onboard the MV Saoirse. Press conference tomorrow at 11Am Dublin
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Gaza flotilla organizers demand Greek police provide security for ships
Haaretz 29 June — Two ships from Sweden and Greece sabotaged over last two days; organizer Manolis Plionis says damage ‘won’t stop us from sailing,’ believes both ships will participate in flotilla … Some of the activists announced that they themselves plan to guard the ships … According to the organizers, the propellers on both ships were damaged, and the pipes leading to the engines were damaged to the extent that an explosion might have occurred once the ships set sail, had it gone unnoticed.
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Flotilla: Even state officials say Netanyahu, IDF spread lies / Noam Sheizaf
972mag 29 June — According to government sources, the army doesn’t have any evidence that the flotilla activists are planning violent resistance, yet it publicly accuses them of conspiring to murder soldiers — The top story in two of Israel’s leading daily papers yesterday was a bombshell: The IDF unveiled plans by flotilla passengers to kill soldiers trying to stop the ships from getting to Gaza. Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s most widely read paper, ran a headline declaring “Flotilla activists set to kill,” which was attributed to military sources (but only in the fine print). The story declared, “Intelligence information revealed violent plans.” In the inside pages, the headline declared that this flotilla is considered to be “more violent than the previous one.” … Luckily, it didn’t take Max Blumenthal to debunk this one. The media’s tone today was entirely different. Government sources have told Maariv that the so-called “intelligence information” was a spin by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, reflecting “a Hasbara [propaganda] hysteria.”
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Hysteria, ‘hasbara’ and the flotilla / Larry Derfner
JPost 29 June — Rattling the Cage: Israel’s propaganda machine is in full swing prior to the ships’ upcoming arrival … I think Freedom Flotilla 2, even without making much progress toward Gaza, is playing hell with Israel’s image — or, rather, inducing Israel to show off its worst self (much as Freedom Flotilla 1 did.) Once again, Israel has gone hysterical, it’s lost touch with reality … I’m still waiting for the IDF to release all the videos confiscated from the Mavi Marmara — not just those that show the people aboard beating the commandos sliding down the ropes, but the stuff that happened before and after, too, especially the footage of the commandos killing those nine people. Why won’t the IDF let us see that? Why do “senior officials in Jerusalem” make up scare stories about the flotilla? Why does Benny Gantz try to portray Gaza as a horn of plenty? Why does Israel twist and distort and cherrypick its way through the truth about Freedom Flotilla 1, Freedom Flotilla 2, Operation Cast Lead and everything else that has to do with its treatment of Palestinians? And why on earth does anyone believe this “hasbara” — which has come to mean “Israeli disinformation” — anymore?
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Israeli ministers slam flotilla threat as ‘spin’
JERUSALEM (AFP) 29 June — Several Israeli ministers have accused the army of “spin” over its claims that activists on board a Gaza-bound flotilla plan to harm Israeli soldiers, Maariv newspaper reported on Wednesday. The paper quoted several unnamed members of Israel’s security cabinet as saying the claims were “media spin” and “public relations hysteria.”
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Gaza flotilla begins to form as first ship heads toward maritime meeting point / Amira Hass
Haaretz 29 June — One ship participating in the flotilla to Gaza has already set sail toward the flotilla’s scheduled meeting place in international waters. The French ship “Dignity” does not intend on anchoring before reaching the meeting point at sea, but it is still unclear how long it will be waiting for the rest of the ships, some of which were said to be sabotaged.
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Gaza-bound flotilla underway
Ynet 29 June — French ship which departed Saturday apparently skipped Athens stop, en route to rendezvous. Jordanian activists say they have purchased additional ship for $800,000
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Gaza and thoughts of a starving Ireland / Ray McGovern
28 June — Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern has joined with other humanitarians in a small flotilla determined to sail from Athens to Gaza in a challenge to Israel’s embargo of 1.5 million Palestinians trapped on that narrow strip of land. Awaiting departure, McGovern contemplates the forces of past and present that brought him to his decision: Thinking further here in Athens about how it came to be that I joined the passengers on “The Audacity of Hope” and why I feel so strongly about the oppression in Gaza, it struck me that my Irish genes (as well as my theology) may be playing a role. During the mid-19th Century potato famine, when the starving Irish were being treated in much the same way as Gazans are today, how much my ancestors must have wished for some sign that someone abroad actually cared about them.
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Gaza-bound — From Aboriginal to Palestinian rights / Amira Hass
GREECE (Haaretz) 29 June — This is not the first time that Sylvia Hale, 69, has been asked why she is so active for the Palestinian cause. What about the discrimination against the Aborigines in her own country, Australia, for example? Hale, a former Green Party parliamentarian who is still active in the party, immediately responded: “Undoubtedly, Australia has a very racist history. Aborigines were give the right to vote only in 1967. But whoever asks us ‘what about the Aborigines’ are not the ones who are interested in their rights, and not the ones fighting for those rights. They are using this as a diversionary tactic for evading the debate over Israel’s policy, or to delegitimize criticism of Israel.”
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Taxi driver assaulted in Beit Ommar
PSP 26 June — On the morning of June 26, Mahmoud Ahleia, a resident of Beit Ommar, was driving back into the town when Israeli soldiers stopped him at the entrance and questioned him about his car. Ahleia is a taxi driver, and although he has a taxi license, the soldiers told him that he needs to post a sticker which will identify his vehicle as a taxi, instead of a private car. Most of Beit Ommar is located in Area B, where the Palestinian Authority has jurisdiction over civil control. Thus, the Israeli soldiers who stopped Ahleia did not have legal precedence to do so. The Israeli soldiers removed Ahleia from his car and took him into the military watchtower at the entrance to Beit Ommar, where he was beaten.
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Israeli forces fire at truck driver near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 28 June — Israeli forces on Tuesday fired at a Palestinian truck driver near Za‘tara checkpoint in the northern West Bank after he tried to run over an officer, witnesses told Ma‘an. The driver managed to speed away into Nablus, onlookers said.
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Racism / Discrimination / Incitement

Netanya: Man suspected of stabbing Palestinian worker due to nationalistic motives
Palestinian man found stabbed in the chest two weeks ago; 23-year-old suspect says stabbing occurred because victim was ‘staring at his sister’. [Mississippi 1955?]
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Israel yet to act against Safed rabbis who warned against renting to Arabs
Haaretz 29 June — Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein says action against municipal rabbis still being examined by relevant officials; letter sent by rabbis in December last year warned homeowners not to rent to Arabs because of halakhic ban.
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US funds study on incitement caused by Israeli and Palestinian textbooks
Haaretz 29 June — In an effort to settle one of the longest-running disputes in the Middle East peace process, American, Israeli and Palestinian researchers are conducting what purports to be the first scientific study of incitement in Palestinian and Israeli textbooks.sis of how Palestinian and Israeli textbooks depict the “other”.
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Suppression of dissent

Boycott bill: A way to persecute leftists / Yossi Gurvitz
972mag 28 June — Under the guise of a bill against boycotts, the Knesset is muzzling the anti-settlement left — The Knesset’s Judicial Committee, led by MK David Rotem (Israel Beitenu) approved yesterday the “boycott bill” for its final reading. This likely means that the bill will imminently become a law … the bill is now wider: Where earlier on it targeted individuals, now it also targets corporations and NGOs. Article 4 (1) of the bill, for instance, seems to be an attempt to deny tax exemption status to left-wing NGOs, by denying organizations supporting a boycott of settlement products their status as a public institution. Article 4 further dictates that companies who supports a boycott on settlements — such as the Israeli companies who participate in the building of Rawabi, who are contractually obligated to refrain from buying settlement products — will not be eligible for government benefits or securities, for which other companies are eligible.
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Interview – Janan Abdu-Makhoul: “What cows are to India, security is to Israel: when they call in security, human rights vanish”
Amnesty blog 16 June — Janan Abdu is the wife of Ameer Makhoul, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and a well-known human rights and civil society activist. Earlier this year, Ameer was convicted on various counts of having contact with enemies of Israel and espionage after a plea bargain agreement at his trial. The confession on which Ameer’s conviction and sentencing were based, was admitted as evidence by the court, despite allegations that he was tortured during his interrogation.
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Sports in Arab Israeli society

No Arabs, no goals / MK Ahmed Tibi
Haaretz 28 June — 1. As is the case in all other spheres of life, sport in the Arab communities also suffers from neglect, non-inclusiveness and discrimination. There isn’t a single Olympic-size swimming pool in the Arab communities, and regular pools, too, are few and far between. There are many Arab swimmers, but their horizon for advancement and professionalism is a very narrow one. Moreover, the field of women’s sport – such as basketball, soccer, swimming and athletics – which should enjoy widespread interest, does not receive the preferential budget it deserves. Arab athletes have achieved success in boxing, judo, tae kwon do and karate, but there are no professional bodies to support them.
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Part-time heroes try to change age-old patterns / Udi Hirsch
Haaretz 29 June — Being an Arab sports reporter in Israel usually means you also need a day job, but that doesn’t stop many journalists from trying to improve things — There’s no use trying to contact Shaker Mo‘assi before 2 P.M., even if you have a hot story about Bnei Sakhnin, the most successful Arab-Israeli soccer team. Mo‘assi, head of the soccer desk for the weekly Panorama, needs the morning for his day job, which he refuses to talk about.
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Hollow hopes and sad delusions / Zouheir Bahloul
Haaretz 29 June — In Israel the situation of Arab athletes is dismal, catastrophical, but it is doubtful whether Israeli society can support the drastic change needed … Sports are supposed to help ethnic minorities survive … Here in Israel, the situation in what is know as the “sector” is stagnant: There is almost way of supporting sports activities, and many talented boys and girls never get a chance to explore possibilities which could help them expose their talents. Since there are precious few other alternatives, many young Arabs turn to the simplest activity they know: smoking a hookah.  
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Arab athletes join Israel’s Special Olympics team for first time
Haaretz 26 June — Two Israeli Arab athletes will represent the country at the Special Olympics in Athens this year, for the first time in history. Tennis players Muhammad Kunbar of East Jerusalem and Jafar Tawil from Beit Safafa, both 20, will strive for the gold this week alongside Elad Gevandschnaider, 22, of Be’er Sheva and Tamir Segal, 34, of Katzrin.
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Political / Diplomatic / International news

Report: Jordan to oppose PA statehood bid
Ynet 29 June —  A senior Jordanian official says the Hashemite kingdom will vote against a Palestinian statehood bid scheduled to be put before the UN General Assembly in September. “Jordan’s top national interests will be in danger if the Palestinian Authority declares statehood unilaterally — especially in everything related to the issue of refugees, water, Jerusalem, and the borders,” the UAE-based al-Bayan quoted a Jordanian state official as saying.
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President Abbas opens embassy in Azerbaijan
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 June — President Mahmoud Abbas officially opened a Palestinian embassy in Azerbaijan on Wednesday, accompanied by PLO official Saeb Erekat, Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh and his advisor Mustapha Abu Ar-Rub.
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Russia opens Gaza consulate
VoR 29 June — Russia has opened a consular office in Gaza, to serve the needs of some 200 Russian nationals in this Palestinian territory. The announcement is from the Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich.
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Video: Hamas official: I would support Fayyad as transitional PM / Dimi Reider
972mag 27 June — Ashley Bates interviews Dr. Ahmed Youssef — Despite the possibility of Salam Fayyad staying on as prime minister in the transitional Hamas-Fatah government being described as one of the major pitfalls awaiting the unity agreement, Youssef spends much of the time praising Fayyad as “humble,” “open minded”, someone he would feel comfortable discussing issues with, and ends up endorsing him as the best candidate to head the transitional cabinet.
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US Senate passes resolution threatening to suspend aid to Palestinians
Haaretz 29 June — Resolution 185 calls on Palestinians to halt bid for unilateral recognition in UN, calls on Obama to veto the UN vote in September.
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French senator calls MKs ‘colonialists’
Ynet 29 June — Members of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee were assaulted by a French senator Tuesday while meeting with a number of senators in Paris. Among other things, she called the MKs “colonialists”.
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Arkia diverts Denmark flights to Sweden
Haaretz 29 June — In an escalation of the aviation security dispute between Denmark and Israel, which has led to a suspension of flights to and from Copenhagen by Israeli carriers, Arkia Airlines will use Malmo Airport in neighboring Sweden … Denmark recently refused to allow Israeli security agents to carry out their own security checks on Israeli airline flights from Copenhagen to Tel Aviv.
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Other news

Fatah official: Palestinians may begin using dollars
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 June — A leading Fatah figure has revealed some of the means that might be used in the event the UN declines to take a positive decision on Palestinian statehood and its membership in the Security Council. “The Palestinian leadership will be pushed to take decisions with strategic dimension in dealing with this matter, including the use of the US dollar as the main currency in the Palestinian markets instead of the Israeli shekel,” said Muhammad Shtayyeh on Monday, speaking at the Justice Ministry in Ramallah … US dollars are widely used in the Palestinian territories in addition to the Israeli shekel. The Jordanian dinar and Egyptian pound are frequently used in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, respectively.
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Tradition mingles with modernity in West Bank fashion show
Xinhua 28 June — …The fashion show held in Nablus this week, included the show of 25 different designs of Palestinian traditional clothes that were inspired by various geographical areas in Palestinian territories. The traditional dresses are Palestinian traditional handmade. Sahar Erqawi, the organizer of the project in the women department in the municipality of Nablus said the fashion show aims at keeping the Palestinian heritage and traditions and protect it from being stolen by the Israelis, adding “the dresses were a mixture of the old traditions and the modern designs.”
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IRS fishing for US tax dodgers in Israel
Haaretz 29 June — The United States Internal Revenue Service is gearing up for a widespread campaign to identify federal income tax scofflaws living outside the United States. Tens of thousands of them are estimated to be living in Israel. The Feds will presumably require banks worldwide to report on all customers with U.S. citizenship or residency, even if they hold a foreign, including Israeli, passport.
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UJA Federation calls on Americans to enlist with Israeli soldiers in Israel boot camp on Long Island / Philip Weiss
Mondo 29 June — From the UJA Federation on Long Island — Federations are the leading Jewish charity — “Enlist in UJA-Federation of New York’s first Israel Boot Camp. Join us for an evening of activity as we simulate some of the experiences that Israeli soldiers encounter in a boot camp training program.  You will: Meet and train with Israeli soldiers. Be part of a competitive ground force. Experience military discipline. Learn about the complex dilemmas faced by Israeli soldiers. Train using Krav Maga, the simultaneous defensive and offensive maneuvers taught to Israeli soldiers
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Celebrate the Fourth of July with
29 June — Want to win a free family-size pizza? ‘Like’’s page on Facebook to celebrate the Fourth of July with us live on our page, and you could be a winner!  Did your invitation to the U.S. Embassy’s official bash get lost in the mail? Not to worry, you can join the festivities on as we stream the whole event live on Thursday, June 30. [which country is this again?]
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1st woman commands sniper platoon
Ynet 29 June — Among the graduates of the Ground Forces officer course Wednesday at the Officers’ Training School (Bahad 1) was one Second Lieutenant Noy, a combat soldier in the Caracal Battalion who made history by becoming the first female officer to command a sniper platoon … In between training and courses Noy has also managed to carry out several ambushes on the Israel-Egypt border after which she decided to enroll in an officers’ course — with the prestigious M-24 sniper rifle at her side.
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Gas leaks into south Israel nature preserve after pipeline burst
Haaretz 29 June — A large amount of gas leaked into the Nahal Tzin Nature Preserve in the Negev after a major Eilat pipeline burst on Wednesday. The leak caused major damage to the southern Israel nature preserve’s wildlife. The pipe burst when the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company (EAPC) was performing maintenance work in the Tzin Valley. While EAPAC was working in the nature preserve, a pipeline collapsed, resulting in the leakage of a large amount of crude oil into Nahal Tzin. [why are they calling it ‘gas’?]
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Analysis / Opinion

Netanyahu playing with fire in bid to win EU backing against Palestinian state / Akiva Eldar
Haaretz 28 June — The impression emerges that after the drubbing Netanyahu gave Obama in Congress, the U.S. president is not eager to use the right to veto again.
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Video: Palestinian Gandhis Part IV: The cactus is mightier than the sword / Yousef Munayyer
PtoN 27 June — In this next installment of the Palestinian Gandhi project you will meet a Palestinian artist in Gaza resisting Israeli oppression through his creativity …At the university level, there is only one art department in all of the Gaza Strip, at Al-Azhar It is a testament to the human spirit that some Gazans persist in their ambitions nevertheless – and are quite resourceful in finding inspiration in the midst of destruction. In this video, Mohammed Al-Hawajri creates his works out of cacti – which he sees as a metaphor for Palestinians, who thrive despite the harsh environment.Check out the video below interviewing Mohammed Al-Hawajri:
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Palestinian Gandhis Part V: Lyrical resistance / Yousef Munayyer
PtoN 29 June — Resistance Hip-Hop in the Arab world has taken off in recent years. Pioneers in this area include Palestinian groups like DAM who have used English, Arabic and Hebrew lyrics to convey messages of resistance through hip-hop. In this installment of our “Palestinian Gandhis” series, we introduce you to the DARG team, a Palestinian hip-hop group from Gaza that raps about resistance. In this video interview with the group, they discuss what hip-hop means to them and the struggles of being hip-hop artists under occupation and in Palestinian society.
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Jordanian activists buy $800,000 boat for Gaza flotilla

Jun 29, 2011


AFP is reporting today from Amman that Arab activists have purchased a boat to join the  flotilla intending to break the blockade of Gaza.

“Arab contributors have bought in Greece a 560,000-euro ($805,000) boat that can take up to 200 passengers to join the aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip,” Wael Saqqa, former head of the Jordan engineers’ union, told AFP.

“The boat has been registered under the name of Nur company, established for the purpose of purchasing the boat,” said Saqqa, adding 35 Jordanian activists would join the flotilla.                                                                                                    The vessel was expected to set sail for Gaza on Thursday, along with other ships.                                                                                                                                              “But it might be delayed because there is a general strike in Greek ports,” Saqqa said, adding the boat would carry medical aid and construction material.

This is likely the same boat Alex Fishman, Yediot’s senior defense analyst, mentions in his report today as being purchased by “the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood”.

IDF troops are liable to encounter intense physical resistance on two of the ships — the French vessel, Le Dignité-El Karameh, and an Arab boat that was bought by the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood.

Fishman’s article titled “They bought some time” is characterized by Joseph Dana as “Yediot’s senior defense analyst: IDF lied about the flotilla” and cautions:

“the dramatic announcements by Israel about preparations being made on board the ships to fight to the death and to kill IDF soldiers are strongly redolent of propaganda. “

Something tells me a fresh new round of propaganda is upon us.

WikiLeaks document on Gaza blockade puts Israel’s flotilla hasbara to shame

Jun 29, 2011

Alex Kane

As the second “Freedom Flotilla” to Gaza attempts to overcome the various obstacles in its way, the Israeli security establishment is busy trying to confuse people about the economic situation in Gaza. There’s just one big problem with their strategy: a cable written by a U.S. diplomat about the Gaza blockade makes any Israeli propaganda claim about the Gaza Strip moot.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently said that the flotilla of ships set to sail to break the Israeli naval blockade was unnecessary because “there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.” Similarly, Israel Defense Forces chief Benny Gantz told a group of Israeli reservists that Palestinians in Gaza are “importing televisions and plasma screens, and exporting agricultural products to the entire Arab world.”

The message, in so many words, is that life in Gaza is just fine, and that there is no need for flotillas to challenge the Israeli blockade.

But this State Department cable, published by WikiLeaks and written in October 2008 from the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, should put the kibosh on Israel’s claims about the economic situation in Gaza (my emphasis):

Israeli officials have confirmed to Embassy officials on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis

While the [Israeli government] believes that maintaining the shekel as the currency of the Palestinian Territories is in Israel’s interests, it treats decisions regarding the amount of shekels in circulation in Gaza as a security matter. Requests by Palestinian banks to transfer shekels into Gaza are ultimately approved, partially approved, or denied by the National Security Council (NSC), an organ of the Israeli security establishment, not by the Bank of Israel (BOI). As part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed to econoffs on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge

What the cable reports–that Israel is deliberately keeping Gaza’s economy “on the brink of collapse”–is exactly why the “Freedom Flotilla” is seeking to break Israel’s blockade.

It hasn’t gotten any better since that cable was written.This June 2011 report from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency details the human cost of the Israeli siege on Gaza:

As the Gaza blockade moves into its fifth year, a new report by the UN’s agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, says broad unemployment in the second half of 2010 reached 45.2 per cent, one of the highest in the world. The report released today, finds that real wages continued to decline under the weight of persistently high unemployment, falling 34.5 per cent since the first half of 2006.

“These are disturbing trends,” said UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness, “and the refugees, which make up two-thirds of Gaza’s 1.5 million population were the worst hit in the period covered in this report. It is hard to understand the logic of a man-made policy which deliberately impoverishes so many and condemns hundreds of thousands of potentially productive people to a life of destitution.”

Those facts–Gaza’s dire unemployment and Israel’s deliberate strategy to keep it that way–are why Israel will have to keep facing flotilla after flotilla until the blockade of Gaza is no more.

Alex Kane, a freelance journalist currently based in Amman, Jordan, blogs on Israel/Palestine, where this post originally appeared. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

Israeli Army can’t provide evidence of flotilla’s violent plans, story unravels

Jun 29, 2011

Max Blumenthal

Israelis woke up on June 27 to a front page Jerusalem Post story claiming flotilla passengers planned violence against soldiers. The story has completely unraveled.Israelis woke up to a front page Jerusalem Post story claiming flotilla passengers planned violence against soldiers. The story has completely unraveled.

On June 27, the Israeli army released a highly suspect claim that passengers on the flotilla planned to kill and maim Israeli soldiers. The claim looks like yet another anti-flotilla hoax emanating from Israeli government channels.

Today, I reached an official from the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit after placing several calls and an email to the office requesting proof to support the army’s claim. The official was unable to supply me with one piece of evidence. Instead, she said, “Basically there’s a trust between the IDF and reporters. And like in any other army, you know, a senior IDF source says something, people are inclined to believe it because this is somebody high up, this is somebody that has a lifetime of experience and credibility and this is like any other army.”

When I asked why anyone would report such a claim without seeing any firm evidence, the army spokesperson said, “If there were something we probably would give it but because of sensitivities we can’t expand further.”

Listen to the whole interview here:

IDF Spokesperson 06-29-2011 by maxblumenthal

Despite an apparent lack of evidence, the army’s disinformation found its way into top Israeli newspapers through a select group of military correspondents including the Jerusalem Post’s Yaakov Katz. Katz reported that flotilla passengers planned to kill Israeli soldiers and that they were bringing “bags of sulfur” to attack the soldiers. “This is a chemical weapon, and if poured on a soldier it can paralyze him,” an unnamed army source told Katz. “If the sulfur is then lit on fire, the soldier will light up like a torch.” Yedioth Aharanot’s Hanan Greenberg also reported, “IDF fears flotilla activists will try to kill Israeli soldiers.” And Haaretz hyped the claim in Hebrew.

Today, the army’s story was exposed as disinformation. First, Yedioth Aharonot military correspondent Alex Fishman reported, “There is no information that there is going to be a group of radicals on board that will form a hard core of violent resistance against IDF soliders. Nor is there any clear information about live weapons that will be on board the ships.” Then, a group of Israeli government ministers accused the army of “media spin” and “public relations hysteria” for claiming the flotilla passengers planned to attack soldiers with chemical weapons.

And now, an Israeli army official (who curiously did not want to give me her name) has refused to supply me with any evidence to support the army’s wild claims. As I wrote during Israel’s disinformation spree in the wake of last year’s flotilla, nothing the Israeli army says can be trusted. Unfortunately, many reporters still accept the army’s claims on trust, while others do not even bother to investigate.

This post originally appeared on Max Blumenthal’s blog.

The ‘No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza’ Canard: From massacre myopia to blockade blindness

Jun 29, 2011

Nima Shirazi

On Monday, 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.

And as for human-rights abuses: why, nothing that Israel has done in the 63 years of its existence can possibly compare with the mass-murders of Fatah members by Hamas firing-squads over the past five years.

Myers’ ignorance about the goals and participants of last year’s flotilla and the upcoming one is revealing. His ignorance about the Rafah Crossing is embarrassing. His comments about “beleaguered Gazans” are hideous and shameful. His weird comparison of more than six decades of ethnic cleansing, land theft, occupation, apartheid, colonization, military aggression, war crimes, assassination, and collective punishment with a few years of Palestinian factional violence is bizarre.

(Myers notably does his hasbaric best by only mentioning Hamas violence against Fatah – of which there has been plenty – as if the latter was an innocent victim of the other. For example, on May 24, 2006, the BBC reported that a member of Hamas had been shot and killed after being one of three men abducted by Fatah gunmen. In early October 2006, Hamas official Muhammad Odeh was shot and killed on his way to pray at a nearby mosque. In December 2006, the New York Times reported that “gunmen forced a prominent Hamas militant to his knees on Wednesday, then shot him dead outside a courthouse where he worked, in the southern Gaza Strip.” Later that month, Fatah members opened fire at a rally of about 200 Hamas supporters in Nablus, wounding nine. A couple weeks later, Ynet reported that “three Palestinians, all members of the same Hamas-affiliated family, were killed in the Gaza neighborhood of Sabara Saturday evening in exchanges of fire with members of a Fatah-affiliated family” and “seven Palestinians identified with Hamas were kidnapped in Gaza and the West Bank.” On January 30, 2007, the Jerusalem Post reported that senior Hamas official “Hussein al-Shabasi was shot and killed on his way out of one of the mosques in the city, in the first incident of violence since the cease-fire was signed between Hamas and Fatah.” Reports that “dozens of Fatah members” in Gaza were executed by Hamas for violating a Hamas-imposed house arrest – the only instance of what might be considered “mass-murders” – come exclusively from Fatah-run media. Even the highest estimation of casualties pales in comparison to what Israel inflicted upon Gaza during its winter massacre of 2008-2009.)

Myers seemingly justifies his dismissal of the injustice suffered by Palestinians in Gaza by writing, “According to Mathilde Redmatn, deputy director of the International Red Cross in Gaza, there is in fact no humanitarian crisis there at all.”

This supposed “proof” that the situation in Gaza is no big deal and everyone who cares about Palestinians there must be driven simply because they are virulent anti-Semitic Israel-haters has been racing around the internet lately without any fact-checking or critical research. The origin of the story can be traced back to the IDF Spokeperson’s website, which quoted a “Mathilde Redmatn” as saying the following:

“There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza…If you go to the supermarket, there are products. There are restaurants and a nice beach. The problem is mainly in maintenance of infrastructure and in access to goods, concrete for example. Israel has the legitimate right to protect the civilian population…”

It should first be pointed out that “supermarkets” with “products”, “restaurants”, and (through some sick, Islamic curse of geography) a stretch of sand near water does not invalidate the fact that there is a humanitarian crisis, and not just because most of those “products” are smuggled in through tunnels, and not the result of Israeli kindness. Also, as has been pointed out before, the Warsaw Ghetto had a lively “marketplace” in which people wore “coats” and sometimes the oppressed and imprisoned residents even went to the “theatre” where they’d watch “performers” like Diana Blumenfeld, Izak Moszkowicz, Leah Krause-Miller, and Aizik Samberg. No one would argue that these facts disprove the contention that there was a “humanitarian crisis” in the Ghetto, in which food restrictions entitled Jewish ration card holders to a mere 300 calories per day.

An Israeli government document released as a result of a lawsuit in 2010 and “entitledFood Consumption in the Gaza Strip – Red Lines, meticulously details the minimum caloric intake required, based on age and sex, to keep Gazans hovering just above malnutrition levels, and specifies the corresponding grams and calories of each type of food allowed into Gaza.” In 2007, Gaza’s UNRWA Operations Director John Ging statedthat “the entire civilian population in Gaza” was subject to “human suffering and misery” and said his agency was “unable to provide more than 61 per cent of the necessary calories to refugees.” According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, “between 2007 and 2009 the caloric intake per capita in Gaza and the West Bank decreased by 18 percent.”

Nevertheless, the “no humanitarian crisis” story was then picked up by outlets like CNN,Ha’aretz, Jerusalem Post, Miami Herald and elsewhere. As Myers’ despicable article demonstrates, it’s still being trotted about to this day.

However, the name of the person who was supposedly quoted is actually “Mathilde De Riedmatten” – a minor difference, sure, but one that proves that every subsequent news outlet has simply parroted the IDF line without question or due diligence. The reason this is important is that Mathilde De Riedmatten, who is deputy head of the ICRC’s sub-delegation in Gaza, gave an interview in late May which is posted on the ICRC website. Here is the entire thing (emphasis added):

Gaza: no end in sight to hardship and despair
20-05-2011 Interview

Mathilde De Riedmatten, deputy head of the ICRC’s sub-delegation in Gaza, talks about the situation in the coastal enclave and about how ordinary Gazans manage to carry on with their daily lives.

How would you describe the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip today?

The ICRC is concerned about the fact that the 1.5 million people in the Strip are unable to live a normal and dignified life. Almost no one can leave the Gaza Strip, not even to go to the West Bank, where many Gazans have family or previously had work.

Health-care facilities are suffering from the restrictions imposed by Israel on the transfer of medical equipment, building materials and many basic items needed for maintenance. Water and sanitation facilities have been under strain for many decades. The fact that they remain even barely in working order is due to the efforts of certain humanitarian organizations. Buildings that have been in need of repair for several years and the many buildings that were destroyed during the Israeli military operation in Gaza in 2008-2009 cannot be repaired or rebuilt as long as basic building materials, such as concrete, are not allowed into the Gaza Strip in meaningful quantities.

Violence claims civilian lives in the Strip on a regular basis. In recent months, many people have been killed or injured in escalating violence and sometimes even in open hostilities. Security incidents in the area between Gaza and Israel frequently result in loss of life or in destruction of property or livelihoods. We deplore the civilian casualties and continue to remind all parties that civilians must be spared the effects of the hostilities. Every feasible precaution must be taken to avoid civilian casualties.

ICRC staff constantly monitor the situation of civilians, such as farmers and rubble collectors, who have no alternative but to live and work in areas close to Israel. The area along the fence extending 300 metres into Gaza has been declared a no-go zone by the Israel Defense Forces. A far bigger area, extending nearly one kilometre into the Gaza Strip, is considered dangerous because of the Israeli military’s incursions and use of live ammunition. Whenever civilians suffer direct harm in such incidents, we document the cases and raise our concerns bilaterally and confidentially with the parties concerned.

Can you tell us more about the economic situation?

Gaza is more dependent than ever on outside aid. For young people – fully 50 per cent of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents are under 18 years of age – there is a crushing lack of prospects, and it is a constant struggle for them to maintain hope in the future.

The strict limits on imports and the almost absolute ban on exports imposed by Israel make economic recovery impossible. The unemployment rate currently stands at nearly 40 per cent. It will remain ruinously high as long as the economy fails to recover. This difficult situation exacerbates the considerable hardship already caused by the collapse of previously prosperous branches of the economy.

Over the years, access to land suitable for agriculture has been eroded by restrictions imposed in the areas near Israel and the levelling of land and destruction of trees by the Israel Defense Forces. To make matters worse, the high price or even total lack of some farm inputs such as fertilizer, pesticides, etc., and the lack of export opportunities have weighed heavily on the primary sector. In addition, many fishermen have lost their livelihood as a result of Israel reducing the area at sea within which it allows fishing to three nautical miles from Gaza’s coastline.

Because Israel retains effective control over the Gaza Strip, in particular by maintaining authority over the movement of people and goods, it must fulfil its obligations under the law of occupation and allow the civilian population to lead as normal a life as possible.

Israel eased the closure in June 2010. Has that had a positive effect on the lives of ordinary people in Gaza?

The restriction on the movement of people out of Gaza remains unchanged. The current Israeli permit system, combined with rigorous controls, means that only people in need of medical attention who fulfil strict security criteria are allowed to leave either through the Rafah crossing into Egypt or through the Erez crossing into Israel. Very few other people are allowed out of Gaza.

The entry of goods into Gaza is also still highly restricted, not only in terms of quantity but also in terms of the particular items allowed. Long delays are frequent. Some goods that are allowed in are so expensive that their availability hardly matters to the vast majority of the population, who could never afford them. Although there has been media coverage of the export of certain cash crops such as carnations and strawberries, the actual level of exports from the Gaza Strip remains close to zero. Imports of construction supplies and raw materials are still mostly banned, even though they are vital to the territory’s infrastructure and economic recovery.

Unless there is political change that results in freedom of movement for Gazans, increased imports of a variety of goods and significant exports, there will be no improvement.

How can the ICRC help mitigate the effects of the closure?

To help families make ends meet, we have developed cash-for-work programmes and launched projects that provide farmers with tools and seedlings to improve crop yields.

We are also doing what we can to make sure that injured and sick people receive proper medical attention by providing support for the emergency services of the Ministry of Health and the Palestine Red Crescent Society. The Society provides pre-hospital emergency care and counselling services alongside the many other humanitarian tasks it performs within the Gaza Strip. The ICRC also provides support for the Artificial Limb and Polio Centre, the only facility of its kind in the Gaza Strip, which treated over a thousand patients in 2010.

Our water and sanitation engineers are focusing their efforts on the treatment of wastewater. At a plant that was recently completed in Rafah, some of the treated wastewater can safely seep into and replenish the aquifer, which remains the only source of clean water in the Gaza Strip. Thanks to the latest upgrades at the plant, treated wastewater could soon be used for agricultural purposes such as irrigating trees.

Hardly the rosy picture Myers (and Goldberg, due to his endorsement) are trying to paint. Nevertheless, the “no humanitarian crisis” nonsense continues and Israel’s stalwart defenders ignore the facts in their never-ending quest to whitewash Israeli crimes andpretend that peace and humanitarian activists – even Jewish ones – are Islamic terrorists or aligned with them.

Furthermore, if Myers and those who agree with him are so enamored with what the International Committee of the Red Cross has to say about the situation is Gaza, they should read its own June 14, 2010 press release, in which the ICRC states plainly that the Israeli blockade of Gaza is illegal:

The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility. The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law.

While the ICRC points out its position that “the dire situation in Gaza cannot be resolved by providing humanitarian aid,” it calls upon the “international community…to do its part to ensure that repeated appeals by States and international organizations to lift the closure are finally heeded.”

The goal of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla – past and present – is not simply to bring aid (or “aid”, as Myers puts it) to the besieged territory; rather, a primary goal is to draw public and political attention to the situation in the hope that by physically challenging such a violation of international law, the blockade will end. The organizers of andorganizations involved with the flotilla openly state as much.

One wonders if this comes down to semantics. Myers says there is no “humanitarian crisis” but describes violent actions by Hamas against Fatah as “mass-murder.” It would be unsurprising if Myers agreed with the Israeli press‘ description of the brutal murder of five members of the Fogel family, Israeli settlers living in the illegal colony of Itamar in the West Bank, as a “massacre.” In that case, how would he describe the killing of over 1,400 Palestinians in 22 days? One can assume that their deaths illicit no sympathy from Myers, as they must be merely collateral damage during what the New York Timesinnocuously refers to as the “Israeli antirocket invasion.”

Or should that be “collateral damage”?

This post originally appeared on Nima Shirazi’s blog Wide Asleep in America.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar cancels plans to attend Jerusalem Film Fest following ‘Nakba Day violence’

Jun 29, 2011

Adam Horowitz

From a US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation press release:

The Jerusalem Film Festival foreign office has confirmed that legendary basketball star and actor Kareem Abdul-Jabbar reversed plans to visit Israel due to concerns arising “after the Nakba Day violence.”

Abdul-Jabbar was slated to present his film, “On the Shoulders Of Giants,” at the festival next month, as a candidate for the “Spirit of Freedom Award.” According to YNet News, his visit was scheduled in coordination with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Israeli Consulate of New York.

101 organizations of Palestinians, Israelis, Muslim-Americans, African-Americans, Jewish Americans and others have signed a letter thanking the Los Angeles Lakers legend for declining to attend the festival. The letter highlighted Israel’s discriminatory policies against the Palestinian people—whether living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, living as second-class citizens in Israel, or living as refugees in exile. It also highlighted the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel until it ends its discriminatory practices. The boycott includes targeting Israeli cultural institutions. The letter explains:

“In an effort to salvage its worsening reputation, Israel has embarked upon an effort to re-brand itself as a beacon of cultural and technological progress, diverting attention away from its war crimes and apartheid policies. Israel uses its cultural institutions, such as the Jerusalem Film Festival, to whitewash its violations of international law and human rights.”

Abdul-Jabbar’s film documents the policies of segregation and racism that characterized the world of basketball in the 1930s. “Ironically,” the signatories told Abdul-Jabbar, “the majority of Muslim and Christian Palestinians could not even have attended such a screening because they are excluded from entering Jerusalem on the basis of their ethnic and religious background.”

Abdul-Jabbar’s decision comes as no surprise to those familiar with his history of activism for social justice. Earlier this month, in recognition for his commitment to education, understanding and equality, Abdul-Jabbar received the Lincoln Medal, an award also held by the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, an outspoken critic of Israel for “practising apartheid in its policies towards the Palestinians.” Abdul-Jabbar was a longtime friend of the late poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron, who dropped Israel from a tour last year. Abdul-Jabbar’s film also features Dr. Cornel West, who recently endorsed BDS. The letter urged Abdul-Jabbar to consider the BDS call as well.

Last year, actors Meg Ryan and Dustin Hoffman similarly declined to attend the Jerusalem Film Festival following Israel’s deadly attacks on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla killing nine humanitarian aid carriers, including one U.S. citizen.

International solidarity & history in the making

Jun 29, 2011

Medea Benjamin

Yesterday 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.

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.)

Alice Walker gave poignant comments about the fight against slavery in the US, and how people from other nations came to support that struggle. “My government has failed us, and is ignorant of our own history,” she said. “When black people were enslaved for 300 years, it took a lot of people from outside our community to help free us. This is a fine tradition–going to help people who need us anywhere on the planet. I look at you in the room; if we have salvation as humankind, it is in the room.”

Huwaida Araf spoke first as a lawyer, stating the reasons why the closure of Gaza is illegal. Then she spoke as a Palestinian, making it clear that the flotilla is not about humanitarian aid but it is to support Palestinians demand for liberation. She chided Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for their criticisms of the flotilla.

A few other highlights: A representative from a Jewish group in Sweden said there are two kinds of Jews: those who reflect on the Holocaust and say ‘we will do everything not to let it happen to us again’ vs. those who say ‘we will not let it happen to anyone again.’ He received thunderous applause.

Henning Mankell, the famous Swedish mystery writer spoke as well. Assuming there were Israeli agents in the room, he said, “If there is someone in this room who reports directly to the Israeli government, please note that there is no declaration of war here; what we represent is a declaration of peace. Try, for once, to tell the truth.”

A Native American representative from Canada talked about how the Canadian government had urged their delegation to send aid through the channels that Israel has established. “As an oppressed people, one of the things we have learned over many years,” he said, “it that you should never ask the oppressor for permission. And when you work in solitary with the oppressed, you should never work with the oppressor.”

Our U.S. delegation made signs during the conference that said, “Let Us Sail to Gaza.” After the press conference, we went outside and unfurled our enormous 40-foot “To Gaza With Love” banner. To the delight of the press, we also broke out into song. “I love the U.S. delegation,” a French journalist told me. “You have signs, you sing, you are very animated.” Indeed, with Kaleo accompanying us on the trumpet and Alice Walker joining us in song and dance, we gave a great performance.

Meanwhile, with rumors swirling wildly of boats being sabotaged and/or given orders not to leave the various Greek ports, we have no idea what boats will be able to meet up at sea with the French boat and the Irish boat that are already on their way to the international meeting point. We had inspectors on our boat today but no word yet from them about whether or not they found us “seaworthy”. We obviously have to take this a day at a time.

Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of Code Pink and a passenger on the Audacity of Hope

‘Politico’ says Jewish Democratic donors may abandon Obama, though they like Dennis Ross

Jun 29, 2011

Philip Weiss

Lest you doubt the strength of the Israel lobby, here’s a long report at Politico by Ben Smith undermining Obama on Israel inside the Democratic Party– despite efforts by Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Ed Rendell to save the day. Obama is “losing the faith” of Jewish Democratic donors, Smith ventures, and then strings together the usual ultra-Zionist statements of fidelity to Israel from party activists.

The piece demonstrates the conservatism of Jewish Democrats on this issue– these are people opposed to dividing Jerusalem, though they’d never want to live there– the importance of Jewish money to the Democratic Party, and also the reason there’s been no Palestinian state for 64 years since it was promised, because American Jews with access are against it, and now have a fresh set of fears (Hamas) with which to attack the idea. Not a word here about the fearful Christian Zionists. No, on the Democratic side, the lobby is Jewish and wealthy. Also, notice how important the presence in the White House of Dennis Ross is to these Israel-backers, a policymaker who cares about Israel. Smith excerpts:

If several dozen interviews with POLITICO are any indication, a similar conversation is taking place in Jewish communities across the country. Obama’s speech last month seems to have crystallized the doubts many pro-Israel Democrats had about Obama in 2008 in a way that could, on the margins, cost the president votes and money in 2012 and will not be easy to repair.

“It’s less something specific than that these incidents keep on coming,” said Ainsman.

The immediate controversy sparked by the speech was Obama’s statement that Israel should embrace the country’s 1967 borders, with “land swaps,” as a basis for peace talks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seized on the first half of that phrase and the threat of a return to what Israelis sometimes refer to as “Auschwitz borders.”…

Most of those interviewed were center-left American Jews and Obama supporters — and many of them Democratic donors. On some core issues involving Israel, they’re well to the left of Netanyahu and many Americans: They refer to the “West Bank,” not to “Judea and Samaria,” fervently supported the Oslo peace process and Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and believe in the urgency of creating a Palestinian state.

But they are also fearful for Israel at a moment of turmoil in a hostile region when the moderate Palestinian Authority is joining forces with the militantly anti-Israel Hamas….

Some of these traditional Democrats now say, to their own astonishment, that they’ll consider voting for a Republican in 2012. And many of those who continue to support Obama said they find themselves constantly on the defensive in conversations with friends….

Even Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who spoke to POLITICO to combat the story line of Jewish defections, said she’d detected a level of anxiety in a recent visit to a senior center in her South Florida district…

“There’s an inclination in the community to not trust this president’s gut feel on Israel and every time he sets out on a path that’s troubling you do get this ‘ouch’ reaction from the Jewish Community because they’re distrustful of him,” said the president of a major national Jewish organization, who declined to be quoted by name to avoid endangering his ties to the White House…

Now [Cleveland lawyer Scott] Matasar says he’s appalled by Obama’s “rookie mistakes and bumbling” and the reported marginalization of a veteran peace negotiator, Dennis Ross, in favor of aides who back a tougher line on Netanyahu. He’s the most pro-Obama member of his social circle but is finding the president harder to defend.

“He’d been very ham-handed in the way he presented [the 1967 border announcement] and the way he sprung this on Netanyahu,” Matasar said.

A Philadelphia Democrat and pro-Israel activist, Joe Wolfson, recalled a similar progression.

“What got me past Obama in the recent election was Dennis Ross — I heard him speak in Philadelphia and I had many of my concerns allayed,” Wolfson said. “Now, I think I’m like many pro-Israel Democrats now who are looking to see whether we can vote Republican.”..

A top-dollar Washington fundraiser aimed at Jewish donors in Miami last week raised more than $1 million from 80 people, and while one prominent Jewish activist said the DNC had to scramble to fill seats, seven-figure fundraisers are hard to sneer at.

‘Washington Post’ exposes absurdity of Israeli response to flotilla

Jun 29, 2011


Spilling the beans. Lots of them, reporting by Joel Greenberg:

On Tuesday, Israeli newspapers were filled with reports from unnamed military officials, charging that sacks of chemicals, including sulfuric acid, 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 vessels. “Coming to kill,” said a headline in the Maariv newspaper over a photo of one flotilla ship.

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

yep. They even tattle on the PM’s office for theirHasbarapocalypse–pinkwashing hoax.

A spokesman for Netanyahu said the intern had acted without authorization.

Bwaaaaaaaahh. And the US boat has not even set sail yet. What audacity!

Annie Robbins has done volunteer work for the US Boat to Gaza’s communications team in the U.S.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

Making the World Safe for Hypocrisy


By Michael Parenti

Global Research

Why has the United States government supported counterinsurgency in Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, and many other places around the world, at such a loss of human life to the populations of those nations? Why did it invade tiny Grenada and then Panama? Why did it support mercenary wars against progressive governments in Nicaragua, Mozambique, Angola, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Indonesia, East Timor, Western Sahara, South Yemen, and elsewhere?

Is it because our leaders want to save democracy? Are they concerned about the well-being of these defenseless peoples? Is our national security threatened? I shall try to show that the arguments given to justify U.S. policies are false ones.


But this does not mean the policies themselves are senseless. American intervention may seem “wrongheaded” but, in fact, it is fairly consistent and horribly successful.


The history of the United States has been one of territorial and economic expansionism, with the benefits going mostly to the U.S. business class in the form of growing investments and markets, access to rich natural resources and cheap labor, and the accumulation of enormous profits.


The American people have had to pay the costs of empire, supporting a huge military establishment with their taxes, while suffering the loss of jobs, the neglect of domestic services, and the loss of tens of thousands of American lives in overseas military ventures.


The greatest costs, of course, have been borne by the peoples of the Third World who have endured poverty, pillage, disease, dispossession, exploitation, illiteracy, and the widespread destruction of their lands, cultures, and lives.


As a relative latecomer to the practice of colonialism, the United States could not match the older European powers in the acquisition of overseas territories. But the United States was the earliest and most consummate practitioner of neoimperialism or neocolonialism, the process of dominating the politico-economic life of a nation without benefit of direct possession.


Almost half a century before the British thought to give a colonized land its nominal independence, as in India-while continuing to exploit its labor and resources, and dominate its markets and trade-the United States had perfected this practice in Cuba and elsewhere.


In places like the Philippines, Haiti, and Nicaragua, and when dealing with Native American nations, U.S. imperialism proved itself as brutal as the French in Indochina, the Belgians in the Congo, the Spaniards in South America, the Portuguese in Angola, the Italians in Libya, the Germans in Southwest Africa, and the British almost everywhere else. Not long ago, U.S. military forces delivered a destruction upon Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia that surpassed anything perpetuated by the older colonizers. And today, the U.S. counterinsurgency apparatus and surrogate security forces in Latin America and elsewhere sustain a system of political assassination, torture, and repression unequaled in technological sophistication and ruthlessness.


All this is common knowledge to progressive critics of U.S policy, but most Americans would be astonished to hear of it. They have been taught that, unlike other nations, their country has escaped the sins of empire and has been a champion of peace and justice among nations. This enormous gap between what the United States does in the world and what Americans think their nation is doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments of the dominant political mythology.


It should be noted, though, that despite the endless propaganda barrage emanating from official sources and the corporate-owned major media, large sectors of the public have throughout U.S. history displayed an anti-interventionist sentiment, an unwillingness to commit U.S. troops to overseas actions-a sentiment facilely labeled “isolationism” by the interventionists.


The Rational Function of Policy Myths


Within U.S. ruling circles there are differences of opinion regarding interventionist policy. There are conservatives who complain that U.S. policy is plagued by weakness and lacks toughness and guts and all the other John Wayne virtues. And there are liberals who say U.S. policy is foolish and relies too heavily on military solutions and should be more flexible and co-optive when protecting and advancing the interests of the United States (with such interests usually left unspecified).


A closer look reveals that U.S. foreign policy is neither weak nor foolish, but on the contrary is rational and remarkably successful in reproducing the conditions for the continued international expropriation of wealth, and that while it has suffered occasional setbacks, the people who run the foreign policy establishment in Washington know what they are doing and why they are doing it.


If the mythology they offer as justification for their policies seems irrational, this does not mean that the policies themselves are irrational from the standpoint of the class interests of those who pursue such policies. This is true of domestic myths and policies as well as those pertaining to foreign policy.


Once we grasp this, we can see how notions and arrangements that are harmful, wasteful, indeed, destructive of human and social values-and irrational from a human and social viewpoint-are not irrational for global finance capital because the latter has no dedication to human and social values. Capitalism has no loyalty to anything but itself, to the accumulation of wealth. Once we understand that, we can see the cruel rationality of the seemingly irrational myths that Washington policy makers peddle. Some times what we see as irrational is really the discrepancy between what the myth wants us to believe and what is true.


But again this does not mean the interests served are stupid or irrational, as the liberals like to complain. There is a difference between confusion and deception, a difference between stupidity and subterfuge. Once we understand the underlying class interests of the ruling circles, we will be less mystified by their myths.


A myth is not an idle tale or a fanciful story but a powerful cultural force used to legitimate existing social relations. The interventionist mythology does just that, by emphasizing a community of interests between interventionists in Washington and the American people when in fact there is none, and by blurring over the question of who pays and who profits from U.S. global interventionism.


The mythology has been with us for so long and much of it sufficiently internalized by the public as to be considered part of the political culture. The interventionist mythology, like all other cultural beliefs, does not just float about in space. It must be mediated through a social structure. The national media play a crucial role in making sure that no fundamentally critical views of the rationales underlying and justifying U.S. policy gain national exposure. A similar role is played by the various institutes and policy centers linked to academia and, of course, by political lead ers themselves.


Saving Democracy with Tyranny


Our leaders would have us believe we intervened in Nicaragua, for instance, because the Sandinista government was opposed to democracy. The U.S.-supported invasion by right-wing Nicaraguan mercenaries was an “effort to bring them to elections.” Putting aside the fact that the Sandinistas had already conducted fair and open elections in 1984, we might wonder why U.S. leaders voiced no such urgent demand for free elections and Western-style parliamentarism during the fifty years that the Somoza dictatorship-installed and supported by the United States-plundered and brutalized the Nicaraguan nation.


Nor today does Washington show any great concern for democracy in any of the U.S.-backed dictatorships around the world (unless one believes that the electoral charade in a country like El Salvador qualifies as “democracy”).


If anything, successive U.S. administrations have worked hard to subvert constitutional and popularly accepted governments that pursued policies of social reform favorable to the downtrodden and working poor. Thus the U.S. national security state was instrumental in the overthrow of popular reformist leaders such as Arbenz in Guatemala, Jagan in Guyana, Mossadegh in Iran, Bosch in the Dominican Republic, Sukarno in Indonesia, Goulart in Brazil, and Allende in Chile.


And let us not forget how the United States assisted the militarists in overthrowing democratic governments in Greece, Uruguay, Bolivia, Pakistan, Thailand, and Turkey. Given this record, it is hard to believe that the CIA trained, armed, and financed an expeditionary force of Somocista thugs and mercenaries out of a newly acquired concern for Western-style electoral politics in Nicaragua.


In defense of the undemocratic way U.S. leaders go about “saving democracy,” our policy makers offer this kind of sophistry: “We cannot always pick and choose our allies. Sometimes we must support unsavory right-wing authoritarian regimes in order to prevent the spread of far more repressive totalitarian communist ones.”


But surely, the degree of repression cannot be the criterion guiding White House policy, for the United States has supported some of the worst butchers in the world: Batista in Cuba, Somoza in Nicaragua, the Shah in Iran, Salazar in Portugal, Marcos in the Philippines, Pinochet in Chile, Zia in Pakistan, Evren in Turkey, and even Pol Pot in Cambodia.


In the 1965 Indonesian coup, the military slaughtered 500,000 people, according to the Indonesian chief of security (New York Times, 12/21/77; some estimates run twice as high), but this did not deter U.S. leaders from assisting in that takeover or from maintaining cozy relations with the same Jakarta regime that subsequently perpetuated a campaign of repression and mass extermination in East Timor.


U.S. leaders and the business-owned mainstream press describe “Marxist rebels” in countries like El Salvador as motivated by a lust for conquest. Our leaders would have us believe that revolutionaries do not seek power in order to eliminate hunger; they simply hunger for power. But even if this were true, why would that be cause for opposing them?


Washington policy makers have never been bothered by the power appetites of the “moderate” right-wing authoritarian executionists, torturers, and militarists.


In any case, it is not true that leftist governments are more repressive than fascist ones. The political repression under the Sandinistas in Nicaragua was far less than what went on under Somoza. The political repression in Castro’s Cuba is mild compared to the butchery perpetrated by the free-market Batista regime. And the revolutionary government in Angola treats its people much more gently than did the Portuguese colonizers.


Furthermore, in a number of countries successful social revolutionary movements have brought a net increase in individual freedom and well-being by advancing the conditions for health and human life, by providing jobs and education for the unemployed and illiterate, by using economic resources for social development rather than for corporate profit, and by overthrowing brutal reactionary regimes, ending foreign exploitation, and involving large sectors of the populace in the task of rebuilding their countries. Revolutions can extend a number of real freedoms without destroying those freedoms that never existed under prior reactionary regimes.


Who Threatens Whom?


Our policy makers also argue that right-wing governments, for all their deficiencies, are friendly toward the United States, while communist ones are belligerent and therefore a threat to U.S. security. But, in truth, every Marxist or left-leaning country, from a great power like the Soviet Union to a small power like Vietnam or Nicaragua to a minipower like Grenada under the New Jewel Movement, sought friendly diplomatic and economic relations with the United States.


These governments did so not necessarily out of love and affection for the United States, but because of something firmer-their own self-interest. As they themselves admitted, their economic development and political security would have been much better served if they could have enjoyed good relations with Washington.


If U.S. Ieaders justify their hostility toward leftist governments on the grounds that such nations are hostile toward us, what becomes the justification when these countries try to be friendly? When a newly established revolutionary or otherwise dissident regime threatens U.S. hegemonic globalists with friendly relations, this does pose a problem.


The solution is to (1) launch a well-orchestrated campaign of disinformation that heaps criticism on the new government for imprisoning the butchers, assassins, and torturers of the old regime and for failing to institute Western electoral party politics; (2) denounce the new government as a threat to our peace and security; (3) harass and destabilize it and impose economic sanctions; and (4) attack it with counterrevolutionary surrogate forces or, if necessary, U.S. troops. Long before the invasion, the targeted country responds with angry denunciations of U.S. policy.


It moves closer to other “outlawed” nations and attempts to build up its military defenses in anticipation of a U.S.-sponsored attack. These moves are eagerly seized upon by U.S. officials and media as evidence of the other country’s antagonism toward the United States, and as justification for the policies that evoked such responses.


Yet it is difficult to demonstrate that small countries like Grenada and Nicaragua are a threat to U.S. security. We remember the cry of the hawk during the Vietnam war: “If we don’t fight the Vietcong in the jungles of Indochina, we will have to fight them on the beaches of California.”


The image of the Vietnamese getting into their PT boats and crossing the Pacific to invade California was, as Walter Lippmann noted at the time, a grievous insult to the U.S. Navy. The image of a tiny ill-equipped Nicaraguan army driving up through Mexico and across the Rio Grande in order to lay waste to our land is equally ludicrous.


The truth is, the Vietnamese, Cubans, Grenadians, and Nicaraguans have never invaded the United States; it is the United States that has invaded Vietnam, Cuba, Grenada, and Nicaragua, and it is our government that continues to try to isolate, destabilize, and in other ways threaten any country that tries to drop out of the global capitalist system or even assert an economic nationalism within it.


Remember the Red Menace


For many decades of cold war, when all other arguments failed, there was always the Russian bear. According to our cold warriors, small leftist countries and insurgencies threatened our security because they were extensions of Soviet power. Behind the little Reds there supposedly stood the Giant Red Menace.


Evidence to support this global menace thesis was sometimes farfetched. President Carter and National Security Advisor Brezinski suddenly discovered a “Soviet combat brigade” in Cuba in 1979- which turned out to be a noncombat unit that had been there since 1962. This did not stop President Reagan from announcing to a joint session of Congress several years later: “Cuba is host to a Soviet combat brigade….”


In 1983, in a nationally televised speech, Reagan pointed to satellite photos that revealed the menace of three Soviet helicopters in Nicaragua. Sandinista officials subsequently noted that the helicopters could be seen by anyone arriving at Managua airport and, in any case, posed no military threat to the United States. Equally ingenious was the way Reagan transformed a Grenadian airport, built to accommodate direct tourist flights, into a killer-attack Soviet forward base, and a twenty-foot-deep Grenadian inlet into a potential Soviet submarine base.


In 1967 Secretary of State Dean Rusk argued that U.S. national security was at stake in Vietnam because the Vietnamese were puppets of “Red China” and if China won in Vietnam, it would overrun all of Asia and this supposedly would be the beginning of the end for all of us. Later we were told that the Salvadoran rebels were puppets of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua who were puppets of the Cubans who were puppets of the Russians.


In truth, there was no evidence that Third World peoples took up arms and embarked upon costly revolutionary struggles because some sinister ringmaster in Moscow or Peking cracked the whip. Revolutions are not push-button affairs; rather, they evolve only if there exits a reservoir of hope and grievance that can be galvanized into popular action. Revolutions are made when large segments of the population take courage from each other and stand up to an insufferable social order.


People are inclined to endure great abuses before risking their lives in confrontations with vastly superior armed forces. There is no such thing as a frivolous revolution, or a revolution initiated and orchestrated by a manipulative cabal residing in a foreign capital.


Nor is there evidence that once the revolution succeeded, the new leaders placed the interests of their country at the disposal of Peking or Moscow. Instead of becoming the willing puppets of “Red China,” as our policy makers predicted, Vietnam found itself locked in combat with its neighbor to the north. And, as noted earlier, almost every Third World revolutionary country has tried to keep its options open and has sought friendly diplomatic and economic relations with the United States.


Why then do U.S. Ieaders intervene in every region and almost every nation in the world, either overtly with U.S. military force or covertly with surrogate mercenary forces, death squads, aid, bribes, manipulated media, and rigged elections? Is all this intervention just an outgrowth of a deeply conditioned anticommunist ideology? Are U.S. Ieaders responding to the public’s longstanding phobia about the Red Menace?


Certainly many Americans are anticommunist, but this sentiment does not translate into a demand for overseas interventionism. Quite the contrary. Opinion polls over the last half-century have shown repeatedly that the U.S. public is not usually supportive of com mitting U.S. forces in overseas engagements and prefers friendly relations with other nations, including communist ones. Far from galvanizing our leaders into interventionist actions, popular opinion has been one of the few restraining influences.


There is no denying, however, that opinion can sometimes be successfully manipulated by jingoist ventures. The invasion of Grenada and the slaughter perpetrated against Iraq are cases in point. The quick, easy, low-cost wins reaffirmed for some Americans the feeling that we were not weak and indecisive, not sitting ducks to some foreign prey.


But even in these cases, it took an intensive and sustained propaganda barrage of half-truths and lies by the national security state and its faithful lackeys in the national media to muster some public support for military actions against Grenada and Iraq.


In sum, various leftist states do not pose a military threat to U.S. security; instead, they want to trade and live in peace with us, and are much less abusive and more helpful toward their people than the reactionary regimes they replaced.


In addition, U.S. Ieaders have shown little concern for freedom in the Third World and have helped subvert democracy in a number of nations. And popular opinion generally opposes interventionism by lopsided majorities. What then motivates U.S. policy and how can we think it is not confused and contradictory?


The answer is that Marxist and other leftist or revolutionary states do pose a real threat, not to the United States as a national entity and not to the American people as such, but to the corporate and financial interests of our country, to Exxon and Mobil, Chase Manhattan and First National, Ford and General Motors, Anaconda and U.S. Steel, and to capitalism as a world system.


The problem is not that revolutionaries accumulate power but that they use power to pursue substantive policies that are unacceptable to U.S. ruling circles. What bothers our political leaders (and generals, investment bankers, and corporate heads) is not the supposed lack of political democracy in these countries but their attempts to construct economic democracy, to depart from the impoverishing rigors of the international free market, to use capital and labor in a way that is inimical to the interests of multinational corporatism.


A New York Times editorial (3/30183) referred to “the undesirable and offensive Managua regime” and the danger of seeing “Marxist power ensconced in Managua.” But what specifically is so dangerous about “Marxist power ?”


What was undesirable and offensive about the Sandinista government in Managua? What did it do to us? What did it do to its own people? Was it the literacy campaign?


The health care and housing programs? The land reform and development of farm cooperatives? The attempt at rebuilding Managua, at increasing production or achieving a more equitable distribution of taxes, services, and food?


In large part, yes. Such reforms, even if not openly denounced by our government, do make a country suspect because they are symptomatic of an effort to erect a new and competing economic order in which the prerogatives of wealth and corporate investment are no longer secure, and the land, labor, and resources are no longer used primarily for the accumulation of corporate profits.


U.S. Ieaders and the corporate-owned press would have us believe they opposed revolutionary governments because the latter do not have an opposition press or have not thrown their country open to Western style (and Western-financed) elections. U.S. Ieaders come closer to their true complaint when they condemn such governments for interfering with the prerogatives of the “free market.”


Similarly, Henry Kissinger came close to the truth when he defended the fascist overthrow of the democratic government in Chile by noting that when obliged to choose between saving the economy or saving democracy, we must save the economy. Had Kissinger said, we must save the capitalist economy, it would have been the whole truth. For under Allende, the danger was not that the economy was collapsing (although the U.S. was doing its utmost to destabilize it); the real threat was that the economy was moving away from free-market capitalism and toward a more equitable social democracy, albeit in limited ways.


U.S. officials say they are for change just as long as it is peaceful and not violently imposed. Indeed, economic elites may some times tolerate very limited reforms, learning to give a little in order to keep a lot. But judging from Chile, Guatemala, Indonesia, and a number of other places, they have a low tolerance for changes, even peaceful ones, that tamper with the existing class structure and threaten the prerogatives of corporate and landed wealth.


To the rich and powerful it makes little difference if their interests are undone by a peaceful transformation rather than a violent upheaval. The means concern them much less than the end results. It is not the “violent” in violent revolution they hate; it is the “revolution.” (Third World elites seldom perish in revolutions. The worst of them usually manage to make it to Miami, Madrid, Paris, or New York.)


They dread socialism the way the rest of us might dread poverty and hunger. So, when push comes to shove, the wealthy classes of Third World countries, with a great deal of help from the corporate-military-political elites in our country, will use fascism to preserve capitalism while claiming they are saving democracy from communism.


A socialist Cuba or a socialist North Korea, as such, are not a threat to the survival of world capitalism. The danger is not socialism in any one country but a socialism that might spread to many countries. Multinational corporations, as their name implies, need the entire world, or a very large part of it, to exploit and to invest and expand in. There can be no such thing as “capitalism in one country.”


The domino theory-the view that if one country falls to the revolutionaries, others will follow in quick succession-may not work as automatically as its more fearful proponents claim, but there usually is a contagion, a power of example and inspiration, and sometimes even direct encouragement and assistance from one revolution to another.


Support the Good Guys?


If revolutions arise from the sincere aspirations of the populace, then it is time the United States identify itself with these aspi rations, so liberal critics keep urging. They ask: “Why do we always find ourselves on the wrong side in the Third World? Why are we always on the side of the oppressor?”


Too bad the question is treated as a rhetorical one, for it is deserving of a response. The answer is that right-wing oppressors, however heinous they be, do not tamper with, and give full support to, private investment and profit, while the leftists pose a challenge to that system.


There are those who used to say that we had to learn from the communists, copy their techniques, and thus win the battle for the hearts and minds of the people. Can we imagine the ruling interests of the United States abiding by this? The goal is not to copy communist reforms but to prevent them.


How would U.S. interventionists try to learn from and outdo the revolutionaries? Drive out the latifundio owners and sweatshop bosses? Kick out the plundering corporations and nationalize their holdings? Imprison the militarists and torturers? Redistribute the land, use capital investment for home consumption or hard currency exchange instead of cash crop exports that profit a rich few?


Install a national health insurance program and construct hospitals and clinics at public expense? Mobilize the population for literacy campaigns and for work in publicly owned enterprises? If U.S. rulers did all this, they would have done more than defeat the communists and other revolutionaries, they would have carried out the communists’ programs. They would have prevented revolution only by bringing about its effects-thereby defeating their own goals.


U.S. policy makers say they cannot afford to pick and choose the governments they support, but that is exactly what they do. And the pattern of choice is consistent through each successive administration regardless of the party or personality in office. U.S. Ieaders support those governments, be they autocratic or democratic in form, that are friendly toward capitalism and oppose those governments, be they autocratic or democratic, that seek to develop a noncapitalist social order.


Occasionally friendly relations are cultivated with noncapitalist nations like China if these countries show themselves in useful opposition to other socialist nations and are sufficiently open to private capital exploitation. In the case of China, the economic opportunity is so huge as to be hard to resist, the labor supply is plentiful and cheap, and the profit opportunities are great.


In any one instance, interventionist policies may be less concerned with specific investments than with protecting the global investment system. The United States had relatively little direct investment in Cuba, Vietnam, and Grenada-to mention three countries that Washington has invaded in recent years.


What was at stake in Grenada, as Reagan said, was something more than nutmeg. It was whether we would let a country develop a competing economic order, a different way of utilizing its land, labor, capital, and natural resources. A social revolution in any part of the world may or may not hurt specific U.S. corporations, but it nevertheless becomes part of a cumulative threat to private finance capital in general.


The United States will support governments that seek to suppress guerrilla movements, as in El Salvador, and will support guerrilla movements that seek to overthrow governments, as in Nicaragua. But there is no confusion or stupidity about it. It is incorrect to say, “We have no foreign policy” or “We have a stupid and confused foreign policy.”


Again, it is necessary not to confuse subterfuge with stupidity. The policy is remarkably rational. Its central organizing principle is to make the world safe for the multinational corporations and the free-market capital-accumulation system. However, our rulers cannot ask the U.S. public to sacrifice their tax dollars and the lives of their sons for Exxon and Chase Manhattan, for the profit system as such, so they tell us that the interventions are for freedom and national security and the protection of unspecified “U.S. interests.”


Whether policy makers believe their own arguments is not the key question. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Bill Clinton were doing their hypocritical best when their voices quavered with staged compassion for this or that oppressed people who had to be rescued from the communists or terrorists with U.S. missiles and troops, and sometimes they were sincere, as when they spoke of their fear and loathing of communism and revolution and their desire to protect U.S. investments abroad.


We need not ponder the question of whether our leaders are motivated by their class interests or by a commitment to anti-communist ideology, as if these two things were in competition with each other instead of mutually reinforcing. The arguments our leaders proffer may be self-serving and fabricated, yet also sincerely embraced. It is a creed’s congruity with one’s material self-interest that often makes it so compelling.


In any case, so much of politics is the rational use of irrational symbols. The arguments in support of interventionism may sound and may actually be irrational and nonsensical, but they serve a rational purpose.


Once we grasp the central consistency of U.S. foreign policy, we can move from a liberal complaint to a radical analysis, from criticizing the “foolishness” of our government’s behavior to understanding why the “foolishness” is not random but persists over time against all contrary arguments and evidence, always moving in the same elitist, repressive direction.


With the collapse of the Soviet Union and other Eastern European communist governments, U.S. Ieaders now have a freer hand in their interventions. A number of left reformist governments that had relied on the Soviets for economic assistance and political protection against U.S. interference now have nowhere to turn. The willingness of U.S. Ieaders to tolerate economic deviations does not grow with their sense of their growing power.


Quite the contrary. Now even the palest economic nationalism, as displayed in Iraq by Saddam Hussein over oil prices, invites the destructive might of the U.S. military. The goal now, as always, is to obliterate every trace of an alternative system, to make it clear that there is no road to take except that of the free market, in a world in which the many at home and abroad will work still harder for less so that the favored few will accumulate more and more wealth.


That is the vision of the future to which most U.S. Ieaders are implicitly dedicated. It is a vision taken from the past and never forgotten by them, a matter of putting the masses of people at home and abroad back in their place, divested of any aspirations for a better world because they are struggling too hard to survive in this one.
From the book Dirty Truths

Posted in Politics1 Comment

Libya: Gaddafi Forces Occupy Hospital, Terrify Patients and Staff


Medical Workers in Western Town Detained, Abused


Yafran General Hospital in Yafran in western Libya. Government forces occupied the hospital for nearly six weeks, and detained and mistreated medical staff and patients.

© 2011 Sidney Kwiram/Human Rights Watch

Occupying a hospital and terrorizing the patients and staff is illegal and inhumane. To minimize the horrors of war, hospitals need to be kept free of fighters, and doctors and nurses need to be assured of their safety.

Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch

(Tunis) – Libyan government forces mistreated medical staff and patients during an unlawful six-week occupation of a hospital in Yafran, a town in Libya’s western mountains, Human Rights Watch said today.

Government forces placed about 30 staff and three patients at grave risk by preventing them from leaving and deploying military weapons in the hospital compound, Human Rights Watch said. The failure to respect and protect the hospital violated international humanitarian law.

“Occupying a hospital and terrorizing the patients and staff is illegal and inhumane,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “To minimize the horrors of war, hospitals need to be kept free of fighters, and doctors and nurses need to be assured of their safety.”

Government forces occupied Yafran General Hospital from April 19, 2011, until the beginning of June. By then most Yafran residents had fled the town, following at least two weeks of government shelling. The approximately 30 doctors and nurses at the hospital, most of them Bangladeshi or Ukrainian, remained largely because they did not feel safe enough to leave. Three patients were also unable to leave due to their medical conditions.

Hospital staff told Human Rights Watch that the hospital was initially occupied by a paramilitary group known as Haras al-Shabi (the Civil Guard), which had engaged in looting after it captured Yafran on April 18. A doctor told Human Rights Watch that the Civil Guard aggressively entered the hospital and broke down locked doors in a fruitless search for rebel fighters. He said he saw the soldiers beat a wounded Egyptian worker they had found in the intensive care unit. “We were astonished how they dealt with him,” the doctor said.

The Civil Guard refused to let the hospital staff leave, the hospital workers said. Over the course of six weeks, the hospital staff primarily treated injured Libyan government forces. Hospital workersdescribed a climate of fear from abuses and threats by the Civil Guard.

One of the patients who was getting medical care at the hospital when the Civil Guard arrived said the fighters entered his room and threatened to torture him and shoot him if he left the hospital. “They did that all the time,” he said. “I was scared that one of them would come back at nighttime and shoot me, so sometimes I would change which bed I slept in.”

In May, the Civil Guard arrested a nurse, who was then detained for more than three weeks, including time in Tripoli’s Abu Salim prison, and on occasion was tortured. “They told me they captured me because I had treated rebel fighters at the hospital,” the nurse told Human Rights Watch.

Witnesses said the Civil Guard moved military weapons into the hospital compound, including automatic weapons, machine guns, and anti-aircraft weapons. One doctor said that three large-caliber weapons were positioned in the compound: one at the front gate, one next to the kitchen, and one near the main entrance. Human Rights Watch viewed a video filmed by a medical worker on his cell phone in late April that showed a high-caliber machine gun mounted on a jeep in the hospital compound.

In late April or early May, at least 14 soldiers from the army’s Reda Brigade assumed control of the hospital from the Civil Guard. The treatment of medical workers and patients improved with the arrival of the regular armed forces, hospital staff said, but food and water remained in short supply. The soldiers gave the staff and patients two cups of water a day, as well as rice in the morning and pasta in the evening. The army allowed the nurses and doctors to leave the compound with permission, they said, but they could not go far because of the government forces in town. The Reda Brigade soldiers mainly had small arms, but a doctor said that one day in mid May they twice fired high-caliber machine guns from the hospital gate at an unknown target.

Human Rights Watch found about two dozen 7.62 mm bullet casings, which are used in AK-47 assault rifles, in various parts of the hospital grounds, including one in a position overlooking the hospital entrance. Medical staff said they had already removed other bullet casings from the grounds. The glass doors at the hospital’s entrance and the exterior gate had bullet holes, apparently from fighting between government and anti-government forces in the beginning of June.

Government forces fled Yafran when rebels took the town on June 2. As of June 24 rebel fighters kept three to five armed guards outside the hospital, though they occasionally went inside the building with their weapons. The hospital staff, interviewed in private, said they had not experienced any threats or violence from the rebel fighters.

International humanitarian law – the laws of war – applicable in the armed conflict in Libya, provides special protection for hospitals and medical workers. The occupation of the hospital and mistreatment of the medical workers by the government forces violated the duty to respect and protect medical facilities and personnel in all circumstances. It was also unlawful to deploy military weapons in the hospital. Preventing medical workers, who are civilians, from leaving the hospital violated the prohibition against placing civilians at unnecessary risk and may have amounted to “human shielding,” which is a war crime. Specific acts of abuse against medical workers and patients, including arbitrary arrest and physical abuse, are laws-of-war violations that may also amount to war crimes.

“Government forces committed a long list of international law violations in their abusive occupation of Yafran hospital, putting a lot of lives at unnecessary risk,” Stork said. “All parties to Libya’s conflict need to protect, hospitals, medical workers, and patients under all circumstances.”

Witness Accounts from the Hospital

Human Rights Watch visited Yafran General Hospital from June 19 to 24, and interviewed four doctors, six nurses, and a patient present during the hospital’s occupation by government forces. All but one asked that their names not be used because they feared that government forces might return. Human Rights Watch also interviewed in private a captured government soldier who had taken part in the hospital occupation.

A hospital patient in his 40s from the nearby town of Zintan said:

No one could leave the hospital, especially me, since I was locked up inside my room for seven days because I am from Zintan. They threatened that if I went outside my room, they would shoot me. They came to my room with guns. They would shoot from inside the grounds, just outside my window, with a Kalashnikov [AK-47 assault rifle]. They never actually hurt me but they would insult me, threaten me, say they would cut off my ears or my fingers. They did that all the time. I was scared that one of them would come back at nighttime and shoot me, so sometimes I would change which bed I slept in.

A foreign doctor who had brought his family to the hospital for safety after the Civil Guard looted the town told Human Rights Watch:

When the Haras al-Shabi came [to the town], they robbed and destroyed all the homes. We were terrorized. They stole my television, fridge, washing machine, everything. We couldn’t move, leave or sleep. They were in the hospital, and I was afraid they would be violent to our wives and daughters.

A nurse told Human Rights Watch that, on May 1, Civil Guard forces returned to the hospital and took him away. They detained him for 24 days in several places, including in Abu Salim prison in Tripoli, he said, and tortured him during interrogation:

On May 1 three guys from Haras al-Shabi in forest camouflage came to the hospital in a car at 2 p.m. They entered the hospital and asked the military commander for permission to take me out of the hospital for investigation. They said they would then bring me back. They took me to [the nearby town of] al-Milayeb. The second day, they started beating me with iron rods and giving me electric shocks. At night, there were about six people who came and beat me up, punching me, kicking me, hitting me with a stick on my head.

The third day in the morning, they took me and 20 other people in the back of a truck and transferred us to Camp 77 [apparently a training camp for government security forces] in Tripoli. The driver told one of the Haras al-Shabi guys that he had a nurse, so the guy kicked me in my testicles. I was in my green hospital uniform, and one of the Haras al-Shabi guys came to me and started kicking me in the face and in the eyes. My left eye was swollen for seven days. The first two days I couldn’t see, then I started recovering. At 11 p.m. the same day, they transferred us to Abu Salim prison [in Tripoli]. Eventually they told me they captured me because I had treated rebel fighters at the hospital.

A nurse who stayed in the hospital during the military’s occupation explained the atmosphere of intimidation for female hospital staff:

It was Friday [in mid-May] around 3:30 a.m. My friend and I were sleeping in my room. Some person knocked on my door. When I said, “Who is there,” no one answered. We thought maybe it was Bangladeshi nurses, but two men in uniform entered the room, and one of them sat on my bed. We were afraid of these army people because sometimes they did bad things. The way they looked at us around the hospital was not good. Sometimes they said something we didn’t understand, but we knew it was not good. [Afterward] we talked to the director about what happened, and he said that the army commander said sorry and that it would not happen again. He said he had punished the men. We didn’t see those guys after.

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Hamas: Human Beings are not Bargaining Chips




End Inhumane and Illegal Treatment of Gilad Shalit


An Israeli hangs up a banner depicting captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, outside the Erez Crossing between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip.
© 2009 Reuters

Hamas authorities in Gaza must immediately end the cruel and inhuman treatment of Gilad Shalit. Until he is released, they must enable him to communicate with his family and should grant him access to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Marking five years since the capture of Gilad Shalit, Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights organizations state:

Hamas must immediately end inhumane and illegal treatment of Gilad Shalit.

Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit has been in captivity for five years. Those holding him have refused to allow him to communicate with his family, nor have they provided information on his well-being and the conditions in which he is being held. The organizations stress that this conduct is inhumane and a violation of international humanitarian law.

Hamas authorities in Gaza must immediately end the cruel and inhuman treatment of Gilad Shalit. Until he is released, they must enable him to communicate with his family and should grant him access to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Amnesty International

B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories

Bimkom: Planners for Planning Rights

Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement

Human Rights Watch

International Federation for Human Rights

Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Gaza

Physicians for Human Rights – Israel

Public Committee Against Torture in Israel

Rabbis for Human Rights

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel

Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights

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US: Press Allies to End Use of Child Soldiers


Report Lists Repeat Offenders, but Military Aid Continues


Thousands of children, both boys and girls, in Chad have been recruited as child soldiers by all parties to the conflict.

© 2007 Human Rights Watch

The US strategy of just telling countries to stop using child soldiers is not working. So long as they keep getting US military assistance, these countries have little incentive to stop recruiting children.

Jo Becker, children’s rights advocate at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – The United States should suspend military assistance to countries using child soldiers, Human Rights Watch said today.

On June 27, 2011, the US State Department released a list of six governments that use child soldiers in violation of US legislation adopted in 2008: Burma, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Five of the countries – excluding Burma – receive US military assistance.

“The US strategy of just telling countries to stop using child soldiers is not working,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocate at Human Rights Watch. “So long as they keep getting US military assistance, these countries have little incentive to stop recruiting children.”

The Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 prohibits governments using child soldiers from receiving US foreign military financing, military training, and several other categories of US military assistance. The six countries identified in the new 2011 Trafficking in Persons report for using child soldiers were all included in the first State Department list in June 2010. In October, President Barack Obama issued national interest waivers to allow Chad, Congo, Sudan, and Yemen to continue to receive military aid despite their use of child soldiers.

Human Rights Watch called on the Obama administration not to issue blanket waivers to countries violating the Child Soldiers Prevention Act unless the governments sign agreements with the United Nations to end their use of child soldiers and take concrete steps to implement these agreements.

The administration contends that the military assistance it provides to Somalia is peacekeeping assistance that is not covered by the law. On June 22, Senators Richard Durbin of Illinois and John Boozman of Arkansas introduced legislation that would amend the Child Soldiers Prevention Act to prohibit peacekeeping operations assistance to governments of countries that recruit and use child soldiers.

In Congo, government forces actively recruit children and have hundreds of children in their ranks. The government has promoted military officers who have been charged – or even convicted – with using child soldiers and has failed to cooperate with the United Nations in finalizing a plan to end its recruitment and use of child soldiers.

In Southern Sudan, which will gain independence from Sudan in July, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army has continued to recruit children, according to credible reports received by Human Rights Watch. It has also failed to carry out fully a 2009 agreement to demobilize all children from its ranks.

Yemeni government forces have recruited children as young as 14 and government-affiliated militia have also used children as soldiers.

In Chad, a February 2011 report issued by the UN secretary-general documented ongoing recruitment of children by the Chadian army, including the recruitment of Sudanese refugee children. The government signed an agreement with the UN on June 14 committing itself to end all child recruitment, to release all children from its military and security forces, and to allow UN monitoring of its military installations.

The Chad agreement is a positive step, but progress in other countries has been too slow, Human Rights Watch said.

“Congress was clear in its intent that the US should not be militarily assisting governments that use child soldiers in their forces,” Becker said. “Last year the administration gave these governments a pass. It shouldn’t do so again.”

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