Archive | July 5th, 2011

French boat ‘departs Greece for Gaza’

NOVANEWS

Maan News Agency

Activists show Palestinian flags onboard “Dignité – Al Karama” off Corsica on
June 25. A small French pleasure craft with eight protesters on board left Greek
waters overnight and set off for Gaza in an attempt to break an Israeli naval
blockade, organizers said Tuesday. [AFP/Murielle Kasprzak, File]

PARIS (AFP) — A small French pleasure craft with eight protesters on board left Greek waters overnight and set off for Gaza in an attempt to break an Israeli naval blockade, organizers said Tuesday.

The “Dignite al Karama” is so far the only boat in a planned flotilla organized by pro-Palestinian activists to set sail from Greece, after the authorities there blocked other vessels from taking part in the protest.

The 19-meter motor cruiser is carrying, among others, the French far-left former presidential candidate Olivier Besancenot, Green Party Euro-MP Nicole Kiil-Nielsen and trade unionist Annick Coupe.

They expect to be off Gaza within an day or two, the group told AFP.

“The boat was able to take on board fuel and food. It’s heading towards Gaza,” said Jean-Claude Lefort, spokesman for “A French Boat for Gaza”, the French wing of the international maritime demonstration.

“We are going to send a delegation to the French foreign ministry to ask for protection. Depending on how that goes, we will advise on our progress,” he added. Israel has warned it will halt any vessels approaching Gaza.

Asked how the Dignite had managed to slip past the Greek authorities, which have prevented the rest of the flotilla from leaving the Athens port of Piraeus, Lefort said: “It wasn’t spotted. It wasn’t in Piraeus, it was somewhere else.”

On Monday, Greek forces intercepted a Canadian boat carrying more than 30 Gaza-bound activists from Canada, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Turkey and forced it to moor in Crete.

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US combatting of Anti-Semitism

NOVANEWS

The US State Department is sponsoring a delegation of the International Jewish anti-Zionist Network to tour the Arab world to undermine the Zionist conflation of Jews and Zionism. And then there’s reality:

AMMAN – The Department of State’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Hannah Rosenthal arrived in Jordan today on a four-day visit to meet with government officials, youth groups, women’s groups, and religious and nongovernmental organizations. During the visit she will discuss tolerance and education.

Rosenthal will also promote with Special Representative to Muslim Communities Farah Pandith the 2011 Hours Against Hate campaign, which encourages young people around the world to build stronger communities that value pluralism and diversity and reject hate and bigotry.

Hanna Rosenthal was sworn in as Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism on November 23, 2009.

Lest the little devil Arabs think that Jews and Zionists are the same, Hanna will be promoting “tolerance and education.” Which will include silence next time the Jewish state carpet bombs Gaza.

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Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

 

US flotilla passengers begin fast at US Embassy in Athens

Jul 03, 2011

Philip Weiss

A release from the US Boat to Gaza:

Members of the U.S. Boat to Gaza have begun an open-ended fast calling
on the U.S. government to defend our right to sail out of Greece. The
fast has begun in front of the U.S. Embassy at 91 Vasilisis Sophias
Avenue in Athens. Fasters delivered an urgent letter to the Embassy
and plan to sleep overnight outside the Embassy gates.
Passengers and U.S. boat organizers participating in the fast are:
Medea Benjamin, Ken Mayers, Paki Wieland, Kathy Kelly, Ray McGovern,
Helaine Meisler, Nic Abramson, and Carol Murry.
Passenger Kathy Kelly said, “We call on officials at the U.S. Embassy
in Athens to publicly acknowledge our right to sail and to call on the
Greek government to free our ship and its captain immediately.”

There will also be a march in support of the flotilla beginning at 7
pm organized by Greek activists who have been protesting the
government’s austerity measures in Syntagma Square. The march will
include a demand on the Greek government to let all of the boats in
the Freedom Flotilla 2 sail to Gaza and to free the captain of the
U.S. ship, who has been held in jail.
The departure of the U.S. Boat to Gaza – The Audacity of Hope – was
first delayed by a complaint filed by the Israel Law Center and shown
to be frivolous. Greek authorities then inspected the boat but, until
the boat set sail five days later, the results of that inspection has
not been shared with the captain and his crew.
The Greek Coast Guard stopped The Audacity of Hope some 20 minutes
after it had left the dock on Friday, July 1. The Coast Guard ordered
the captain to stop the ship, which he did. Commandos with drawn
rifles ordered the ship to return.  It is now impounded at a military
dock in Athens and the captain has ben arrested.
Over the past two weeks, two boats of the international flotilla to
Gaza have been sabotaged while docked at Greek ports.  The potential
danger to the U.S. boat was obvious to the captain, the crew and the
passengers: there was a clear possibility that the U.S. boat would be
sabotaged next.

Greek consular officials in the United States, when besieged with
calls by angry Americans,  told callers that they should direct their
protest to U.S. officials because they were ultimately responsible.
“We know that the U.S. government has been supporting Israel’s
underhanded efforts to thwart the flotilla, and has been pressuring
the Greek government to stop us. This is a disgrace,” said
passenger/faster Medea Benjamin. “On July 4, it’s time for our
government to declare independence from Israel and start supporting
its own citizens.”

We note that on June 24, passengers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza visited
the Consul General in Athens, Deputy Consul General Kate Brandeis
agreed that the U.S. Boat “had a right to sail to Gaza.”

Ms. Brandeis assured the passengers that the consulate was there to
assist U.S. citizens that run into difficulty while in Greece.  To
date, we have received no assistance from the U.S. Embassy and the
captain of our boat, a U.S. citizen, remains in jail and has yet to be
visited by anyone from the U.S. Embassy.

Why every flotilla succeeds and the siege of Gaza will end

Jul 03, 2011

Paul Woodward

Is it possible to break the siege of Gaza if no one notices?

As an exercise in directing global attention to the plight of a population subject to collective punishment, the first flotilla in August 2008 was a bit of a flop — even though it reached Gaza.

In the Jerusalem Post, Herb Keinon cynically wrote at the time:

Ever since the Free Gaza Movement made known its intent a few weeks ago to set sail for the Gaza Strip to “break” the Israeli blockade, it was clear that the two boatfuls of professional left-wing demonstrators and tag-along journalists were after one thing: a huge media event.

Nothing, therefore, would have given them a greater media buzz than if a couple of Israel Navy boats stopped them on the high seas, arrested the protesters (hopefully, from the point of view of the organizers of the protest, with some gratuitous brutality), and dragged the Greek-registered vessels into the Ashdod port.

Imagine the footage, imagine the images, and imagine the public relations bonanza for those few “brave souls” on the sea-weary vessels. Israel would, undoubtedly, have faced a public relations drubbing. So by deciding to let the boats through, the government deprived the protesters of the huge media event they so obviously wanted.

Indeed, instead of footage of heavyhanded Israelis stopping boats carrying an 81-year-old American nun and the sister-in-law of former British prime minister Tony Blair leading the nightly news broadcasts in the West on Saturday night, the story of the boats’ arrival in Gaza barely made a blip on the CNN, Fox, or Sky news broadcasts. With the world’s eyes still glued to the Olympics in Beijing, and the media focusing on US presidential candidate Barack Obama’s choice of Joe Biden as his vice presidential nominee, the Gaza blockade-running story didn’t register in the electronic media.

And in the written press, the protesters didn’t fare that much better. The New York Times ran a small piece on page 16 on Sunday; The Washington Poston page 12; and The St. Louis Post-Dispatchrelegated it to a three-paragraph brief. As media events go, this one was not particularly successful.

But — as Keinon also noted — the story was not over. Indeed.

What the flotilla organizers understood was that whatever the outcome, each challenge to the siege could in fact never fail. Ships could succeed by reaching Gaza, or succeed without reaching Gaza by exposing Israel to the eyes of the world as a bone-headed bully.

The only solution to Israel’s problem was and remains the one that it refuses to entertain: backing itself out of a dead-end policy that by any metric one wants to use, has been a demonstrable failure — a policy which hasn’t weakened Hamas; hasn’t turned Gaza’s population against its rulers; hasn’t made Israel safer; and above all has brought Israel’s global image to an all-time low while callously inflicting yet more suffering on the Palestinian people.

The Israeli columnist, Asaf Gefen, suggested this week:

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.

But now that the flotilla appears stuck in Greece, can’t Netanyahu claim victory? Some Israeli reporters seem to think so:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sometimes seems almost too arrogant and self assured for his own good. However, unlike in most instances, this weekend he actually has justification for his haughtiness.

Really? Watch the video of The Audacity of Hope as it chugged out of a Greek harbor yesterday and ask yourself: what kind of prime minister and what kind of nation could feel threatened by this kind of challenge?

The need to subjugate others; the obsession with existential threats; the insatiable hunger for loving affirmations; and the fear of equality between Jews and non-Jews — all of this exposes Israel’s intrinsic weakness, a weakness that cannot be overcome by belligerence, isolation or warfare.

In truth, nothing threatens Israel more than its own fear of the world.

It’s time not just for Israel to end the siege of Gaza but for Zionists to break out of their own self-made prison.

This post also appears at Woodward’s site, War in Context

“Deplorable!” – The ‘Quartet’ Comments on Gaza

Jul 03, 2011

Nima Shirazi

bostonteaparty

Provided always, That if any goods, wares or merchandise, shall be laden or put off from, or discharged or landed upon, any other place than the quays, wharfs, or places, so to be appointed, the same, together with the ships, boats, and other vessels employed therein, and the horses, or other cattle and carriages used to convey the same, and the person or persons concerned or assisting therein, or to whose hands the same shall knowingly come, shall suffer all the forfeitures and penalties imposed by this or any other Act on the illegal shipping or landing of goods.

– Boston Port Act of 1774 (14 Geo. III. c. 19)

On March 30, 1774, in response to the Boston Tea Party, the British Parliament enacted the Boston Port Act, effectively shutting down all commerce and travel in and out of Massachusetts colony. The law, known as one of the Intolerable Acts, was enforced by a British naval blockade of Boston harbor. These punitive acts, which collectively punished an entire colony for the acts of resistance and frustration of a few, served to unite the disparate colonies in their fight for self-determination, sovereignty, and natural and constitutional rights. Colonies as far away as South Carolina sent relief supplies to their compatriots in Massachusetts. As a result of British imperial overreach, the First Continental Congress was convened on September 5, 1774. The Congress, in turn, established the Continental Association, a solidarity pact between the colonies to boycott all British goods and, in the event of continued British aggression, to stand as one in their fight for independence.

237 years later…

boat us gaza

The so-called “Middle East Quartet” – that is, the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia – has issued a “Statement on the Situation in Gaza” today.

It is a brief and unsurprising document.  No mention of a “siege” or “blockade,” of course.  While it states that the “conditions facing the civilian population in Gaza” are “unsustainable,” it provides absolutely no indication of the extent of the humanitarian crisis (i.e. 80% aid dependency, 95% of water is undrinkable, a mere 20% is food secure, 36% unemployment – 47% among Gaza’s youth – and 38% living below the poverty line).

The statement ignores all of this.  Instead, it “notes that efforts have improved conditions over the last year, including a marked increase in the range and scope of goods and materials moving into Gaza, an increase in international project activity, and the facilitation of some exports.”

Yet, these “improved conditions” are illusory.  For instance, a recent report found that while, since June 2010, there has been “improved access to formerly restricted goods, including some raw materials, the increased imports of construction materials (cement, gravel and steel bar) through the tunnels from Egypt, and the improved volume of imports of construction materials for PA-approved projects implemented by international and UN organizations helped reactivate the local economy in Gaza,” this “[e]conomic growth has not translated into poverty reduction.”

More importantly, “Israeli restrictions on access to markets (imports on a range of raw materials and exports) and access to natural resources (land and water), as well as the increasing transport costs due the closure of Karni crossing” make it virtually impossible for real economic sustainability – through private sector growth – to occur.  Furthermore,

The recent decrease in unemployment in the Gaza Strip is mainly linked to the construction and agricultural sectors which have some of the lowest wages and employ mainly unskilled/casual laborers. The new access regime allowed for an increasing number of construction projects under the UN or international umbrella, but failed to trickle down the benefits to the private sector. The latter is still relying on tunnels for the supply of construction materials. The agricultural sector is  seasonal and more than half of the labor force is composed of unpaid family members.

[…]

Ongoing restrictions on the movement of goods and artificially-inflated food prices and transport costs continue to impact the economy even after the new access regime, and thereby the June 2010 decision failed to impact the viability of the tunnel economy.

[…]

The new access regime did not translate into a tangible relaxation of exports despite the 8 December 2010 cabinet decision by the GoI, and the consecutive agreement with the Quartet Representative in February 2011. The blockade is still in place. Apart from a very low rate of cash crops exported, no other goods have been exported out of the Gaza Strip under the new access regime. The unpredictability of the crossing, frequent power cuts, as well as increased transportation costs do not ensure sustained exports of agricultural goods. Moreover, the exports are cut from their market of origin.

Nevertheless, the Quartet Statement commends Israel for the recent approval of $100 million in construction material to be allowed into Gaza and used to build 18 schools and 1,200 houses.  Distraction accomplished.

But then things get even more ridiculous.

The statement reads:

The Quartet recognizes that Israel has legitimate security concerns that must continue to be safeguarded. Members of the Quartet are committed to working with Israel, Egypt and the international community to prevent the illicit trafficking of arms and ammunition into Gaza and believe efforts to maintain security while enabling movement and access for Palestinian people and goods are critical.

Naturally, Palestinians in Gaza – y’know, the ones that keep getting murdered by Israeli bullets, tank shells, mortars, missiles, cluster bombs and flechettes – are not entitled to the same kind of security guarantees.  While the U.S. continues to supply the occupying power with the latest killing machines and heavy-duty artillery, the occupied are denied their own right to resist brutality and slaughter.  One wonders, if “illicit trafficking of arms and ammunition into Gaza” is to be avoided, what channels are available for the legal transfer of weaponry and mechanisms for self-defense?  Oh right, there are none.  Something about barrels, fish, and white phosphorous comes to mind.

The Quartet Statement then goes on to voice its opposition to the 2011 Flotilla – without mentioning its stance on international law and whether or not the blockade is legal (hint: it’s not) and blah blah blah “established channels” blah blah “established land crossings.”

The disconnect is staggering.  While the Quartet condemns the Flotilla, it has already acknowledged the slight benefits of Israel’s “new access regime” implemented in June 2010 as a direct consequence of the 2010 Flotilla.  So, while calling for an end to that tactic, they already understand full well that it is the only thing that has worked so far to bring attention to the blockade and to force Israel to act (even meagerly) on its obligations.

And then the kicker:

The Quartet regrets the injury and deaths caused by the 2010 flotilla, urges restraint and calls on all Governments concerned to use their influence to discourage additional flotillas, which risk the safety of their participants and carry the potential for escalation.

Read that again.  “Injury and death caused by the 2010 flotilla.”  Not by the heavily-armed and armored Israeli commandos who illegally stormed the ships in international waters and shot nine innocent people to death.  No no, the “flotilla” is to blame.  Just for the record, here’s what the United Nations – a member of the Quartet! – had to say about last year’s Mavi Marmara massacre:

The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel towards the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence. It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality. Such conduct cannot be justified or condoned on security or any other grounds. It constituted grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law.

It also found “clear evidence to support prosecutions of the following crimes within the terms of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention: willful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health,” and stated that Israel had seriously violated its obligations under the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including the “right to life…torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment…right to liberty and security of the person and freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention…right of detainees to be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person…[and] freedom of expression.”

Based upon “forensic and firearm evidence,” the UN fact-finding panel concluded that the killing of Turkish-American citizen Furkan Dogan and that of five Turkish citizens by the Israeli troops on the Mavi Marmara “can be characterized as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions.”

Also, from whom is the Quartet “urg[ing] restraint”?  They never say.  Clearly not Israel!  That would be anti-Semitic.  Maybe they’re wishing 86-year-old Hedy Epstein should calm the hell down.  Maybe Alice Walker should chill out.  But Israeli soldiers executing civilians on the high seas?  Whatever.

The statement concludes with a single sentence: “The Quartet also calls for an end to the deplorable five-year detention of Gilad Shalit.”  Deplorable. The capture and detention of a single Israeli Occupation soldier receives the deepest condemnation of the entire document.  But, what were the “conditions facing the civilian population in Gaza” – 1.6 million people – again? Oh right, “unsustainable.”  Obviously, were the siege simply more sustainable and less of a burden, it wouldn’t be an issue.  But since it’s “unsustainable,” it should probably be addressed somehow since the Quartet is “concerned.”

But does the Quartet call for an end to the four-year naval blockade or the five-year siege or the 44-year occupation or the airstrikes or kidnappings or buffer zone sniper shootings or drone attacks or collective punishment?  Nope.  But they sure do “call for an end to the deplorable five-year detention of Gilad Shalit.”

Because, after all, it’s clear that the life of one Israeli soldier is more important than a million and a half Palestinians any day of the week…and especially over July 4th weekend?

*****

Open letter to Gov. Rick Perry on the flotilla from a survivor of the USS Liberty attack

Jul 03, 2011

Joe Meadors

Governor Perry,

I am one of the Americans waiting in Athens for the Freedom Flotilla
to get underway in our effort to deliver humanitarian supplies to the
people of Gaza. I was also on the Flotilla last year and was aboard
the USS Liberty when the ship was attacked by Israel on June 8, 1967.

A few years ago at my request you issued a proclamation honoring the
crew of the USS Liberty
.

When I submitted the request I ensured you were aware of the
atrocities that were committed against us. I made sure you were
aware that we were attacked by unmarked aircraft; that our radios were
jammed on both US Navy tactical and international maritime distress
frequencies; that our life rafts were deliberately machine gunned in
the water by the attacking Israeli torpedo boats; that when they
ceased their attack the Israeli torpedo boats departed the scene for
over an hour leaving the crew of a torpedoed and sinking ship with no
chance of survival had our ship gone down.

I also ensured you were aware that two flights of rescue aircraft that
had been launched from nearby Sixth Fleet aircraft carriers were
recalled while we were still under attack and calling for help which
allowed the Israelis to continue their attack unhampered by the threat
of Sixth Fleet intervention.

I understand that you have urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to
take legal steps to stop the Americans from taking part in the Freedom
Flotilla
or to prosecute us if we make the attempt.

When you issued the USS Liberty proclamation you expressed absolutely
no concern that we were attacked by unmarked aircraft; that our radios
were jammed on both US Navy tactical and international maritime
distress frequencies; that our life rafts were deliberately machine
gunned in the water; and, that we were ordered to be abandoned by the
US Sixth Fleet while we were still under attack and calling for help.

When you issued the USS Liberty proclamation you didn’t follow it with
any press release condemning the barbaric acts that were committed
against us.

Governor Perry, why are you recommending prosecution of the Americans
trying to deliver humanitarian supplies but not of those who machine
gunned our life rafts in the water or ordered us to be abandoned while
we were under fire?

Governor Perry, why does the attempted delivery of humanitarian
supplies to Gaza elicit your condemnation but the deliberate machine
gunning of American life rafts in the water doesn’t elicit even a
modicum of concern?

Joe Meadors is a veteran and survivor of the USS Liberty attack in 1967.  He plans to participate in Free Palestine Movement’s delegation of US citizens as part of the Freedom Flotilla II, set to depart to Gaza in coming days.

West Bank is a ghetto, too– now Israel is freaking out over int’l airport action this week

Jul 03, 2011

Philip Weiss

I am in a good mood, are you? Because I believe the flotilla succeeded. We had a huge wave of publicity over the fact that a bunch of peaceable activists were simply trying to get into Gaza by boat and the Israeli gov’t flipped out and pulled international strings to stop them. Last year they had to kill 9 people, this year they had to muscle the American and Greek governments. Yesterday, I am told, the New York Times ran a big piece about the flotilla with two photographs. So all this hysteria is undermining the image of democracy, openness, and in the end the focus must be on What is Israel trying to hide behind the ghetto walls? Here is Noam Sheizaf on the next campaign, for people to fly into Ben Gurion this week, and Israel is already flipping out.  Excerpt:

Israel is not yet done with the second flotilla, and a new effort to challenge its control over the travel to and from Palestinian Territories might take place this week – in no other place than the Tel Aviv International Airport

A coalition of organizations has made public [French, PDF] its intention to have hundreds of international activists land at Ben-Gurion airport this Friday, July 8th, and openly declare their wish to visit the West Bank.

Until now, visitors coming in solidarity with the Palestinians had to conceal their destination when questioned at the airport, or risk immediate deportation. A couple of years ago, American scholar Noam Chomsky was denied entry to Israelat the Jordanian border, after declaring his intention to give a lecture at Ramallah’s Bir Zeit University.

The closure over the West Bank works in the opposite direction as well: Many don’t know it, but Israel controls all air and land entries to the West Bank, not only to Gaza.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

Flotilla activists reject Greek offer to ship aid to Gaza

NOVANEWS

Participants of the Gaza-bound flotilla claimed Sunday that Greece’s offer to ferry their humanitarian aid cargo to the Strip through the Ashdod or El Arish ports, in coordination with the United Nations, was a fraud.

The activists rejected the offer, calling it “a fraud that aims to preserve Israel’s blockade on Gaza.”

Palestinians urge hundreds of pro-Gaza activists to gridlock Ben Gurion International Airport

Earlier Sunday, Athens – whose authorities have so far prevented any vessel associated with the flotilla from leaving its ports to Gaza – stated that “Greece reiterates its willingness and proposes to undertake the task of transporting the humanitarian aid, with Greek vessels or other appropriate means, through the existing channels…

“To this avail, Greece will come into immediate and direct contact with the UN and all the concerned parties, in order to render the mission feasible on behalf of our country.”

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has reportedly called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the latest developments in the Palestinian arena and the efforts to restart the peace talks with Israel, as well as convey Athens’ offer.

Members of the “flotilla coalition” said the offer was the result of the two’s conversation, and slammed Abbas for “stabbing us in the back.”

The activists further quoted a 2008 statement by the Palestinian president suggesting that any attempt to breach the blockade was “a foolish game.” They claimed that Abbas said at the time that since all vessels entering Gaza undergo security checks, they can hardly be seen as “breaching the siege.”

Meanwhile, the American passengers of the “Audacity of Hope,” which was prevented from sailing to the Gaza Strip on Saturday, have declared a hunger strike and staged a protest outside the US Embassy in Athens.

Some activists also marched on the Israeli Embassy in the Greek capital and together with local pro-Palestinian Greek activists staged a protest rally.

Protesters were reportedly shouting “Free Palestine,” “Stop the occupation,” and “Lift the Gaza siege.” One of the American protesters described the atmosphere as “very supportive.”

Members of the various organizations taking part in the flotilla said that would try to set sail again on Monday.

Former Israeli Dror Feiller, who is among the flotilla’s organizers, said that “there are still surprises to come. We intend to set sail soon. If the Greek want to stop us – let them stop up. We won’t stop trying.”

Posted in GazaComments Off on Flotilla activists reject Greek offer to ship aid to Gaza

A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Zionism exports death globally (and the occupation comes on top)

03 Jul 2011

Is there any nation on earth the Jewish state won’t sell weapons to? Unlikely:

Israel’s defense industry racked an unprecedented $7.2 billion in exports in 2010, up on the $6.9 billion achieved in 2009.

That put the Jewish state among the world’s top four arms exporters but declining military budgets around the world are likely to reduce sales over the coming years.

“We recognize the challenges but we’re working hard to maintain the level we’re currently at and even to increase it,” said Reserve Brig. Gen. Shmaya Avieli, head of the Defense Ministry’s Foreign Defense Assistance and Defense Export Department.

The Israelis are hoping to secure big-ticket deals at the Paris Air Show, a major international defense industry showcase next week at the Le Bourget exhibition center.

Government figures indicate Israeli defense companies sold military hardware worth $9.6 billion in 2010, $2.4 billion of it to Israel’s military.

But meantime, China, once a promising market for Israeli weapons and electronic systems, remains off-limits, largely because of Israel’s ally, the United States.

Serco begins PR push to win even more privatised business

03 Jul 2011

Not that most governments seemingly need more convincing to make services more “efficient” (which is code for a lack of accountability):

Serco, the multinational company that makes hundreds of millions of dollars a year running outsourced government services, will today launch an advertising campaign aimed at boosting its public image in WA as it prepares to take on lucrative new local contracts.

The company has received negative publicity from its role managing Australia’s immigration detention centres and has been targeted by the WA branch of United Voice, formerly the Miscellaneous Workers Union, which is campaigning against privatisation of backroom services at Fiona Stanley Hospital, due to open in 2014.

Serco is the Barnett Government’s preferred tenderer for the huge Fiona Stanley contract and last month it won the $210 million prisoner transport and custodial services security job from rival contracting group G4S.

The company is understood to be setting up a Perth office and the advertising campaign is being rolled out in part to lay the groundwork for a big recruiting drive to fill hundreds of jobs at Fiona Stanley.

The campaign tries to humanise Serco by focusing on employees who deliver frontline services with the tagline: “Living, thinking and acting locally.”

It features a YouTube video with a Serco employee, Catherine, who tells how she helped a female Transperth customer who telephoned the Serco-run call centre after she missed a late-night bus.

Serco Australia chief executive David Campbell said the campaign was “an opportunity for the WA community to get to know the real Serco”.

“We have a proud 16-year history of successfully delivering essential services to West Australians,” he said. “We are already providing services in transport, justice, defence and immigration in WA and soon hope to sign a contract with the Government for the provision of non-clinical services at Fiona Stanley Hospital.”

Serco was last month praised by the inspector of custodial services for its management of WA’s only private prison Acacia. The firm also runs the Indian Pacific train.

However, it has attracted a lot of criticism over its management of detention centres after riots at Christmas Island and Villawood.

It also ran a British detention juvenile centre that was the scene of the suicide death of a 14-year-old inmate and was recently cited for breaches of cleanliness at a Scottish hospital.

Assange, Goodman and Žižek speak in UK about Wikileaks

03 Jul 2011

 

Watch live streaming video from democracynow at livestream.com

Australians talk from Europe about Gaza Flotilla 2

03 Jul 2011

How our good friends Saudi Arabia back terrorism

02 Jul 2011

The elephant in the room for decades. We sell them weapons, indulge their fundamentalism and allow gender apartheid without comment. The moral bankruptcy of Western foreign policy could almost be summarised through its relationship with Saudi Arabia alone.

Here’s a fascinating new feature in Vanity Fair about the regime’s ties to the 9/11 hijackers:

In spite of the fact that it had almost immediately become known that 15 of those implicated in the attacks had been Saudis, President George W. Bush did not hold Saudi Arabia’s official representative in Washington at arm’s length. As early as the evening of September 13, he kept a scheduled appointment to receive Prince Bandar at the White House. The two men had known each other for years. They reportedly greeted each other with a friendly embrace, smoked cigars on the Truman Balcony, and conversed with Vice President Dick Cheney and National-Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

There is a photograph of the meeting, which has been published in the past. This year, however, when the authors asked the George W. Bush presidential library for a copy, the library responded in an e-mail that the former president’s office was “not inclined to release the image from the balcony at this time.”

It would soon become evident that, far from confronting the Saudis, the Bush administration wanted rapprochement. The president would invite Crown Prince Abdullah to visit the United States, press him to come when he hesitated, and—when he accepted—welcome him to his Texas ranch in early 2002. Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice were there, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell and First Lady Laura Bush.

It seems that 9/11 barely came up during the discussions. Speaking with the press afterward, the president cut off one reporter when he began to raise the subject.

Israel bans use of words that start with “b”, “o” and “z”

02 Jul 2011

Richard Silverstein has the exclusive:

Israel, which recently threatened to ban for ten years any foreign journalist joining the Gaza flotilla, has announced that it also plans to ban the following words and phrases for ten years: Audacity, Hope, liberation, Tahrir, Nakba, Naksa, Al Quds, Occupation, BDS, boycott, divestment, sanctions, targeted assassination. It is also considering a ten year ban on any living organisms found on the Flotilla ships including various bacteria, rodents, barnacles, etc.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter

A July Fourth Shame on the Founders

by Ray McGovern

Yes, that was I standing before the U.S. Embassy in Athens on the eve of the July Fourth weekend holding the American flag in the distress mode — upside down.

Indignities experienced by me and my co-guests on The Audacity of Hope, the American boat to Gaza, over the past 10 days in Athens leave no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama’s administration has forfeited the right to claim any lineage to the brave Americans who declared independence from the king of England 235 years ago.

In the Declaration of Independence, they pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to a new enterprise of freedom, democracy, and the human spirit. The outcome was far from assured; likely as not, the hangman’s noose awaited them. They knew that all too well.

But they had a genuine audacity to hope that the majority of their countrymen and women, persuaded by Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and the elegant words of Thomas Jefferson, would conclude that the goal of liberty and freedom was worth the risk, that it was worth whatever the cost.

These days we have been seduced into thinking that such principles have become “quaint” or “obsolete” — words used by President George W. Bush’s White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to make light of important international agreements like the Geneva Conventions.

As every American should know, and remember, the principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence were based on the firm belief that ALL men are created equal, that they have UNALIENABLE rights — among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Not just “all Americans,” mind you, but all people. The Declaration of Independence was meant to be a statement expressing the “self-evident” rights of all mankind. Those principles had a universality that was a beacon to the world.

True, American democracy and, indeed, the Founders themselves were far from perfect. In the early decades of the Republic, basic rights were denied to women, to black slaves, to Native Americans, and to many of the poor. But Americans worked on building that “more perfect union” and are still working on it.

Justice was always at the heart of the American ideal. That we still have a long way to go in securing that justice must not be allowed to obscure the fact that ours is a noble and courageous experiment. Or at least it was.

That President Barack Obama would have popularized the phrase “audacity of hope,” after which we named our boat, now seems a cruel hoax, particularly as many of us recalled the high hopes we had once harbored for Obama the candidate. Instead of an “audacity of hope,” Obama the president has often displayed a “paucity of courage.”

But it’s not just Obama. Sadly, all too many of Americans now think of the sacred principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence as applying to Americans, but not to many others — like the 1.6 million people locked in the narrow confines of Gaza.

The tendency is to think of ourselves as “exceptional” — so special that we need not care about suffering elsewhere in the world, including the suffering enabled by our own tax dollars.

It is also sad that many U.S. politicians — from the chief executive to members of Congress — have been seduced by money and political expediency into disregarding our first president’s farewell address, George Washington’s warning to avoid what he called “entangling alliances” and a “passionate attachment” to goals of another country.

At the time, it was France that Washington had in mind. Today, the “entangling alliance” and “passionate attachment” relate to Israel. Common values are adduced to try to justify conflating U.S. objectives and actions with the goals and behavior of our “ally,” Israel.

Why the quotation marks around “ally”? Because decades ago, when the U.S. government broached the possibility of a mutual-defense treaty with the government of Israel, it refused to go along. Mutual-defense treaties, you see, require internationally recognized borders and normally a mutual commitment to avoid attacking other countries at will and without forewarning.

The difficulties that we on The Audacity of Hope have encountered at the hands of the Greek government are clearly a result of Israeli pressure with a likely assist from Obama’s diplomats.

In my own writings, I have highlighted what I have learned about the extraordinary power of joint U.S.-Israeli influence. But it is something quite different to watch that influence be brought to bear on the government of Greece, a seafaring nation normally devoted to unfettered navigation.

And for what purpose? To prevent our “ally” Israel from being exposed for its brutish behavior vis-à-vis the people of Gaza.

I thought I’d seen everything. But the Israeli accusation that our Gaza flotilla is carrying sulfur to pour on Israeli commandos attempting to board our boats… well, that one takes the cake. Plus, the accusation by an Israeli official that we had vowed to shed the blood of Israeli Defense Forces. Amazing.

On the U.S. side, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears as unconcerned about what might happen to us at the hands of Israeli (or Greek) commandos as she was on Feb. 15 as she watched me brutalized just 12 yards in front of her during a speech she was giving at George Washington University.

My offense then? Standing quietly — motionless, actually — with my back turned toward her, as a way of showing that not everyone in that audience was oblivious to the killing, maiming, and other suffering inflicted on millions of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen… and the list goes on.

Last week, Clinton charged the international flotilla, of which The Audacity of Hope is a part, with planning to enter “Israeli waters” and warned of the consequences — in effect, giving Israel carte blanche to have its way with us.

Meanwhile, descriptions of last year’s violence, in which Israeli commandos staged a nighttime boarding raid on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea and killed nine passengers, including one American, get expressed in the passive voice. Violence by whom, a Martian might ask.

In any event, we have long since made it abundantly clear that we had no intention to enter “Israeli waters.” Is it conceivable that Madame Secretary still doesn’t know that, or is she simply spreading a falsehood meant to discredit our mission? Gazan waters are not Israeli waters. Neither, we thought, is the Aegean Sea.

Adding transparent insult to injury, eight days ago the State Department spokeswoman obfuscated when asked directly, twice, whether the U.S. government considered the Israeli blockade of Gaza legal. This determination to fudge on this key issue (the blockade is, on the face of it, against international law) has not stopped U.S. government functionaries from speaking as if the Israelis are well within their rights.

Worse still, we have learned that some U.S. officials wouldn’t shed a tear if we got our comeuppance at the hands of the Israelis.

Before leaving the United States, I was cautioned by a source with access to very senior staffers at the National Security Council that not only does the White House plan to do absolutely nothing to protect our boat from Israeli attack or illegal boarding, but that White House officials “would be happy if something happened to us.”

They are, I am reliably told, “perfectly willing to have the cold corpses of activists shown on American TV.”

So here we are, passengers and crew of The Audacity of Hope, awaiting further instructions from the local Greek authorities, some of whom have been quite candid in expressing their embarrassment and resentment at being manipulated by Washington/Tel Aviv in this new Great Game.

The instructions, of course, come from a weak Greek government unable to stand on principle because of the economic damage that can be done to Greece by the U.S.-dominated IMF, the European Union, and Israel, a major trading partner.

We await a deus ex machina to extract us from this seemingly intractable situation. We remain determined to sail to Gaza at the earliest opportunity. And so do the passengers on the other boats in our international flotilla, at least on those boats that have not been physically sabotaged.

(No one has claimed credit for the damage to propeller shafts to two of the boats, but Israeli officials have been cagey about whether they have had a hand in any underwater operations.)

Delays seem to be built into the scenery in this part of the world. After all, it took Odysseus 20 years to get back to Ithaca.

In this day of instant communication, in which audacity can trump cowardice, we continue to hope. Whatever our circumstances, they are light-years better than the everyday experience in Gaza. We are holding that before our eyes. We do not intend to let the suffering Gazans down.

On Friday, The Audacity of Hope did make a move to set sail before being turned back by the Greek coast guard. On Saturday, we were on a coast guard wharf with the boat impounded, the crew restricted, and the captain facing some significant charges.

The authorities said the guests were free to leave the boat, but it wasn’t clear that we’d be allowed back on. So we decided not to leave the captain. We remain determined to go to Gaza.

It would be a fitting way to celebrate the Fourth of July.

 

Posted in USAComments Off on A July Fourth Shame on the Founders

Zio-Nazi regime to Allow Greece to Deliver Gaza Aid

NOVANEWS

NOVANEWS_In a move seemingly aimed at curbing growing international criticism at their involvement, the Zionist puppets Greek government announced an initiative to deliver the aid to the Gaza Strip themselves, and won approval from both the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority.

The announcement comes just days after Zionist puppet Greece decided to bar aid ships from traveling to the strip, and even captured an American vessel, the “Audacity of Hope,” which was attempting to make the trip.

Zio-Nazi’s acceptance comes as something of a surprise, as it undercuts Zio-Nazi Foreign Ministry claims that the delivery of the aid to the tiny enclave posed a grave threat to the Nazi regime of IsraHell’s survival. Now the aid will be allowed, but just delivered on different ships.

The move seems to be satisfying more or less everyone, though it has irked some of the aid workers, who were hoping the delivery of civilian aid would set a precedent. With the aid being delivered by the Greek Navy after being captured by its Coast Guard, there does not appear to be a precedent.

Posted in GazaComments Off on Zio-Nazi regime to Allow Greece to Deliver Gaza Aid

Dorothy Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

 

Dear Friends,

I have not found any news today about developments regarding the flotilla—not on the electronic editions of newspapers, not on the Israeli radio news,  not on updates from the flotilla itself.  This is not to say that the flotilla is not receiving attention.  The final item of the 9 offers you more commentary on the flotilla than I print among the 8 items below.  The flotilla is extraordinarily important in that it keeps attention on Gaza, though not so much about what is happening in Gaza itself.  But we shouldn’t neglect other events and what is happening in the rest of Occupied Palestine.  Additionally, there are several useful articles worth reading from the local newspapers.

I am eternally grateful to Ruth H. for having called my attention to an item that I was sure that I had sent yesterday, and indeed had intended to, but didn’t.  Well not to these lists, at least.  I did add it to the Occupation Magazine (http://www.kibush.co.il/), as Sunday is my day to contribute to the compilation.  Thanks to Ruth, you now have it here, too, in item 1.

This is very important news from Mazin Qumsiyeh that informs us that from Friday, July 8 through Saturday, July 16 “hundreds of internationals and hundreds of Palestinians” are anticipated to participate in popular resistance.  This will begin by hundreds arriving at Ben Gurion airport on the 8th.  Israel is quite concerned about the event. Imagine what will happen to other passengers if everyone who arrives will be subjected to several hours of interrogation!  Won’t help tourism to Israel.  Actually, I have not heard about Israel’s plans for dealing with it, but Israeli news has reported that Israel knows about the intentions and does plan to deal with it.  Hopefully, whatever Israel plans, it will be without violence.  Usually Israel does use violence, but perhaps this time due to the situation it will desist. Will make news, for sure, if Israeli soldiers or border police start tear-gassing all passengers entering Israel!  One way or another, this is a lose—lose situation for Israel.  If it either ignores events (unlikely) or if it reacts, the publicity will do little to improve Israel’s image.

Item 2 is an open letter by members of the flotilla to Greek Prime Minister Georgios A.  Papandreou.

In item 3 today’s Haaretz editorial states that “The Blockade is the Problem.”  Indeed!  And so is the Occupation, and the Colonization, and the Ethnic Cleansing, and other minor issues as these.

In item 4 Zvi Har’el discusses the possibility of the US talking with Hamas.  As I said the other day, I have seen no indications of this happening yet, but am glad that others raise the possibility.

In item 5 Akiva Eldar writes that “The Oslo Accords are all but Dead.”  I would omit the “all but.”  They died along time ago, when Ehud Barak became Israel’s PM.  They are brought out of the grave by Israel’s leaders and politicians when convenient, as when Israel’s Foreign Minister a week or so ago pronounced that if the Palestinians appeal to the UN for a state, that would be the end of the Oslo Accords.  My! My!  No great loss.  They have brought the Palestinians zero.

Item 6 includes two commentaries from today’s Mondoweiss collection: “Why every flotilla succeeds and the siege of Gaza will end” by

Paul Woodward, and ““Deplorable!” – The ‘Quartet’ Comments on Gaza”

by Nima Shirazi.  I did not bother to send the Quartet comment on Gaza, precisely because I found it disgusting, as does this commentary.

Item 7 reports that there is not much love among Knesset members for Ahmed Tibi’s bill “to revoke state funding for public NGOs and organizations who deny the “Nakba.”  Will it pass?  Not likely, but at least it will demonstrate the discrimination prevalent here in Israel, where it’s ok to revoke state funding for NGOs and organizations that commemorate the Nakba but not for those who deny it.

Item 8 is the link to Today in Palestine, where you will read about events,  as, for instance, demolitions, and new construction for Jews in East Jerusalem, the government’s intention to Judaize all names in Jerusalem, that Israeli forces killed over 20 Palestinians in June, and all sorts of other unpleasant news, but things that you should know.

Item 9, as I said, consists of a few additional links to reports on the flotilla.

All the best,

Dorothy

=========================================

1.  Mazin Qumsiyeh mazin@qumsiyeh.org

July 3, 2011

[see also http://qumsiyeh.org/rightsblog2011/]

Press Release بيان صحفي
(English, Arabic Below العربية تحت)
الرجاء تعميم.  Please forward this version

Hundreds of Internationals and Hundreds of Palestinians Gear-up for July
8-16 activities

Some 40 Palestinian civil society organizations, popular resistance
committees, and political factions announce the launching of the “Welcome  to Palestine” initiative July 8-16 where hundreds of Internationals will work with hundreds of Palestinians for Peace.  The hundreds of men, women, and children will arrive July 8 at the Lod Airport. The international community must recognize the basic human right to receive visitors from abroad and support the right of their own citizens to travel to Palestine without harassment. Where Israel works to isolate us, we invite all to join with us openly and proudly. We do not accept the attempts to keep us apart or to force us to speak less than with full honesty.

This July initiative comes in a planned series of events and follows similar
events carried out in December under the slogan of “ending apartheid and
ethnic cleansing.” The week of activities starts on July 9 because that is
the anniversary of the International Court of Justice ruling about the
illegality of the Settlements and the apartheid wall in the occupied
Palestinian Territories and the anniversary of the Palestinian Civil Society
Call to Action: July 9 Ramallah area, July 10 Bethlehem area, July 11 North, July 12 Hebron and Jordan Valley, July 13 Neqab, July 14-15 Jerusalem.

The July “Welcome to Palestine” initiative will take participants
(Palestinians and Internationals) to different parts of Palestine from the
north to the Negev and highlight the power of nonviolence and peace building efforts. Visitors will be accommodated locally and will enjoy Palestinian hospitality and a program of networking, fellowship, and volunteer peace work in Palestinian towns and villages together with hundreds of local activists.

The full program of activities is available for credentialed media outlets.
Volunteers and participants are needed and welcome.  Some news stories that already appeared on this are linked below,

Contact:  <mailto:info@palestineJN.org> info@palestineJN.org
———————-
بيان صحفي
تحت شعار “أهلا وسهلاً في فلسطين”: مئات المتضامنين الأجانب يصلون فلسطين في
يوم واحد  ومئات الفلسطينيون يعدون لنشاطات مهمة في شتى أرجاء الوطن

أكثر من أربعين مؤسسة فلسطينية ولجان المقاومة الشعبية والقوى والفصائل الوطنية
المختلفة دعت المتضامنين الدوليين للقيام بزيارة إلى فلسطين للمشاركة بنشاطات
لمدة أسبوع. المتضامنون المشاركون في البرنامج والذين يصل عددهم إلى 650
متضامنا من مختلف الدول الأوروبية وأمريكا اتفقوا على الوصول إلى مطار اللد في
يوم واحد هو الثامن من تموز. حيث قرروا أن يخبروا سلطات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي
بشكل واضح وعلني بأنهم قدموا للتضامن مع الشعب الفلسطيني وبذا يسلطوا الضوء على
الإجراءات التعسفية التي تنفذها إسرائيل عادة من سياسات لترحيلهم ومنعهم من
الدخول إلى فلسطين في محاولة لثنيهم عن القيام بما يؤمنون به من تضامن مع الشعب
الفلسطيني وحقوقه المشروعة.

تحت شعار “أهلا وسهلاً في فلسطين” يهدف المنظمون من هذا البرنامج مناهضة
التفرقة العنصرية والتطهير العرقي. سيكون التاسع من تموز هو اليوم الأول
لبرنامجنا وتم اختيار هذا التاريخ لأنه اليوم الذي قررت فيه محكمة لاهاي
الدولية في 2004 بأن الجدار والاستيطان غير قانونيين، ولأنه نفس التاريخ الذي
صدرت فيه دعوة المؤسسات الأهلية الفلسطينية للمجتمع الدولي أن يتحمل مسؤولياته
والتعامل مع إسرائيل كما تم التعامل مع نظام التفرقة العنصرية في جنوب إفريقيا.
كل الذين سيتمكنون من المرور سيشتركون لمدة أسبوع حتى السادس عشر من تموز في
برامج فلسطينية تشمل استصلاح أراضي ومسيرات شعبية ضد الجدار والاستيطان وبرامج
أخرى تهدف إلى بناء سلام شامل وعادل للجميع: 9/7 محافظة رام الله , 10/7 محافظة
بيت لحم, 11/7 الشمال, 12/7 الخليل والغور, 13/7 النقب, 14-15/7 القدس.

جرت استعدادات كبيرة وتجهيز الطواقم للعمل. تحت بعض الأخبار التي صدرت عن
الحدث. ندعو الجميع للتطوع والمشاركة.
للتواصل  <mailto:info@palestineJN.org> info@palestineJN.org
—————–
English articles and stories on the event

<http://dissidentvoice.org/2011/06/challenging-racism-by-israelis-on-every-front/>

http://dissidentvoice.org/2011/06/challenging-racism-by-israelis-on-every-front

<http://www.alternet.org/news/151491/activists_challenge_israel’s_other_blockade_by_air>
http://www.alternet.org/news/151491/activists_challenge_israel’s_other_blkade_by_air

بالعربيةArabic
<
http://www.maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=401703>
http://www.maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=401703
<http://www.palpress.co.uk/arabic/?action=detail&id=11945>
http://www.palpress.co.uk/arabic/?action=detail&id=11945
<http://www.iba.org.il/arabil/?entity=745786&type=1&topic=188>
http://www.iba.org.il/arabil/?entity=745786&type=1&topic=188

Other related websites/links
<http://www.righttoenter.ps> http://www.righttoenter.ps
<http://www.palestinejn.org> http://www.palestinejn.org
<http://bienvenuepalestine.com> http://bienvenuepalestine.com

————– next part ————–
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==========================

2.  OPEN LETTER TO

Georgios A. Papandreou

Prime Minister of Greece

July 4, 2011

Dear Mr. Papandreou,

We, members of the Gaza-Flotilla II who have come to the shores of

Greece from all parts of the world,leaving behind our work places and families, in order to put into practice our solidarity with the oppressed people of Gaza, are outraged by the decision of your government to close by force the ports of Greece to our humanitarian initiative.

This decision not only violates the consacrated principle of

international law of the freedom of the seas and the anciant tradition of the freedom of the Mediterranian, but also disregards the claims for democracy and self-determination of the people of Palestine as well as of the non

governmental organisations we represent.

It is totally incomprehensive for us and fills us with just wrath that

the Greek government closes the ports to our ships just in a moment when

you, Mr. Papandreou, have been constantly expressing the need of solidarity for the Greek people. By putting yourself and your government as an ally of Israel in the Palestinian question you also seem to have forgotten the struggle against the military dictatorship in your own country.

The members of this international peace mission therefore demand, on

behalf of the people of Gaza and for ourselves the same right to move that has been granted for centuries to the Greek people in our countries.

MR. PAPANDREOU, LET US GO!

Dr. Leo Gabriel

Delegation from AUSTRIA

Dr. Samir Kazkaz

Delegation from GERMANY

Max van Lingen

Delegation from the NETHERLANDS

Vauro Senesi

Delegation from ITALY

Giovanni Esposito

Delegation from SWITZERLAND

Ines Mizic

Delegation from BOSNIA

Nooravman Samsuddin

Delegation from Malaysia

==============================

3.  July 04, 2011


The blockade is the problem

The economic pressure of the blockade has not brought about moderation in Hamas’ positions, and stopping protesters en route to Gaza will not change the military balance.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/the-blockade-is-the-problem-1.371233

Haaretz Editorial

All signs indicate that the government of Israel has taken steps to receive the present Gaza flotilla in a manner much more systematic than last year’s actions. Instead of relying entirely on the use of force, diplomatic measures were taken this time, and friendly states, first and foremost Greece, mobilized to help Israel and hampered the flotilla’s departure. This diplomatic action proved that there are alternatives less violent than Israel’s predilection for discharging armed soldiers to suppress civilian protests.

Yet the industriousness and creativity which Benjamin Netanyahu and his government have displayed merely underscore the folly that serves as the foundation of their policy. Israel removed its settlements and soldiers from the Gaza Strip six years ago, and withdrew to the Green Line in order to end its occupation of a strip of land densely populated by Palestinians. The move was taken so that they could conduct their own lives. Since then, it appears as though Israel became addicted to occupation and is unable to liberate itself, even after it declared a “pull-out.” Hearing the cabinet’s statement about how Israel will act “with determination” to stop the flotilla, as well as the defense minister’s declaration yesterday about Israel’s intention to “defend its borders,” sufficed as evidence that the government still views the Gaza Strip as part of Israel, and insists on monitoring every entry and exit to and from Gaza.

The blockade, which was eased but not eliminated as a result of the fatal entanglement with the first flotilla, is unethical, and also mistaken on diplomatic grounds. Placing stiff restrictions on movement and commerce, in an embargo policy affecting one and a half million Palestinians, does not contribute anything. It only perpetuates the conflict and the hatred, and casts light on Israel as a cruel, occupying power.

The government justifies the blockade on Gaza by pointing to the hostility of Hamas, the organization which rules Gaza; Hamas, the government points out, refuses to recognize Israel and the Oslo Accords. In fact, the naval embargo is justifiable, in terms of the need to prevent the entry of heavy weaponry. Yet the economic pressure has not brought about moderation in Hamas’ positions, and stopping protesters en route to Gaza will not change the military balance. Dealing with Hamas necessitates the use of diplomatic methods which might bring about change in the organization’s approach; the military effort should concentrate on stopping the smuggling of arms.

Halting the second flotilla does not compensate for the total failure of Israel’s policy toward Gaza.

=================================

4.  Haaretz,

July 03, 2011


The U.S. may be heading toward talks with Hamas

Perhaps U.S. dialogue with Hamas is not as far-fetched as current American policy toward the group makes it seem.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/the-u-s-may-be-heading-toward-talks-with-hamas-1.370965

By Zvi Bar’el

How would Israel respond if a “senior American official” were to declare that the United States was prepared to speak with Hamas leadership?

Don’t be alarmed just yet. The United States still maintains its policy of not speaking with Hamas, yet last week America did lift its ban on speaking with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. From this point on, there’s no need for meetings in a dark alley. Official American representatives can talk with any member of the Brotherhood. Washington has not acted prematurely. The Egyptian army and the temporary Egyptian government, along with the majority of presidential candidates in Egypt, view the Brotherhood as an integral part of society and politics in Egypt. The announcement by one of its leaders, Abdel Moneim Abu al-Fotouh, that he intends to run for president, was not seen as an unusual step in Egypt.

“There will not be free, just elections in Egypt unless we agree to speak with persons who are part of the democracy,” said Edward “Ned” Walker, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Egypt and Israel. While Israel hides its smirks over pictures of the broken propeller on one of the flotilla ships, and while it threatens to wage war against a few hundred citizens of the world who want to challenge its “sovereignty” in Gaza, Washington has decided suddenly to pursue realistic diplomacy.

The decision should come as no surprise. An American administration that engages in a dialogue with the Taliban in Afghanistan, which had a political discussion with terror organizations in Iraq, and which cooperates with a Lebanese government that includes Hezbollah members, does not need to make excuses when it holds meetings with an Islamist movement that takes part in Egyptian politics, even if its ideology is radical.

Those alarmists who search for a “tsunami” can view this as the first wave. That is because the Muslim Brotherhood is the mother organization of Hamas, and the next question that will arise is why America shouldn’t speak with Hamas. After all, Hamas is an integral part of Palestinian politics and society, and has also won a decisive majority in election balloting; and now, after its reconciliation with Fatah, Hamas will vie in the next Palestinian parliamentary elections. The official excuse for a no-discussion policy is that Hamas has not denounced terror as a means of attaining political objectives, and that it also does not recognize the state of Israel – neither as a Jewish state nor as a state at all. At first glance, these are compelling justifications. Yet the Muslim Brotherhood does not exactly view Israel as the Jewish state either. The Muslim Brotherhood does not uphold terror, but it does not view the armed Palestinian struggle as terror. Rather, the Muslim Brotherhood sees it as a liberation struggle against occupation. And if terror is the yardstick, how can Washington justify its cooperation with the Lebanese government, which includes Hezbollah, a group listed by the United States as a terror organization?

The contradictions in U.S. foreign policy are not the key point. Instead, the crux of the matter is the way Washington is drawing its new map of enemies and friends. To be precise, the United States isn’t drawing the map – instead, developments in the Arab world are compelling America to revisit its policy in the region. What has been happening in Cairo, cities in Syria, and in Bahrain does not stem from planned American policy; these are venues where American policy is refashioning itself, and those who claim that policy will soon be compelled to reconsider their position on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Washington defines enemies and friends not just for itself; its foreign policy positions become a road map for other countries of the world. The “threat” posed to Israel has to do with this fact. Suddenly, it is becoming clear to the American government that Mahmoud Abbas is not cowering under pressure to not turn to the UN for statehood recognition. It is becoming clear that the internal Palestinian rapprochement agreement has been signed despite U.S. opposition, and that Hamas will be a cornerstone in any diplomatic process. What will Washington do when Palestinian elections are held? Should it boycott the Palestinian parliament or the new Palestinian government? Should it ostracize the new Palestinian president if that president belongs to Hamas? Hamas, after all, is “part of the democracy.” Perhaps America will try to preempt a diplomatic debacle, and will reach out to talk with Hamas before the elections so that it can conduct a dialogue with the organization after the polling? The Gaza flotilla is soon likely to appear a pleasure cruise compared to the American diplomatic flotilla, which has disembarked in Egypt. But why fret about this right now, when we can ponder the Gaza flotilla carnival?

=================================

5.  Haaretz,

July 04, 2011


The Olso Accords are all but dead

Settlement expansion persists as Israel’s right-wing government continues to ignore the terms agreed to in the accords close to two decades ago.

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/the-olso-accords-are-all-but-dead-1.371234

By Akiva Eldar

In October 1991 he came with U.S. President George H.W. Bush to the Madrid Conference, which squandered the fruits of the Gulf War victory. In September 1993 he celebrated, with U.S. President Bill Clinton, the birth of the battered Oslo Accords. In early 1997 he managed to get Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to sign the Hebron Accord, which left tens of thousands of Palestinians to the mercy of the students of Rabbi Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba. In late 1998 he was among those who gave birth to the Wye River Memorandum, which died in infancy. In 2000 he was a senior partner to the reverberating failure of American diplomacy in Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. And here he is again, this time as U.S. President Barack Obama’s special envoy responsible for prolonging the death throes of the terminally ill patient known as the peace process.

Before Dennis Ross’ comeback, our acquaintance managed to write a new book (together with David Makovsky ) called “Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East.”

It would be tough to find a bigger expert than Ross on the myths and illusions related to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. For years he has been nurturing the myth that if the United States would only meet his exact specifications, the Israeli right would offer the Arabs extensive concessions.

During the years he headed the American peace team, Israeli settlement construction ramped up. Now Ross, the former chairman of the Jewish People Policy Institute, is trying to convince the Palestinians to give up on bringing Palestinian independence for a vote in the United Nations in September and recognize the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people – in other words, as his country, though he was born in San Francisco, more than that of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who was born in Safed.

If they give up on the UN vote, Ross argues, then Netanyahu will be so kind as to negotiate a final-status agreement with them. Has anyone heard anything recently about a construction freeze in the settlements?

Ross is trying to peddle the illusion that the most right-wing government Israel has ever seen will abandon the strategy of eradicating the Oslo approach in favor of fulfilling the hated agreement. In an effort to save his latest boss from choosing between recognizing a Palestinian state at the risk of clashing with the Jewish community and voting against recognition at the risk of damaging U.S. standing in the Arab world, Ross is trying to drag the Palestinians back into the “peace process” trap.

If Obama really intended to justify his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize, he would not have left the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the hands of this whiz at the never-ending management of the conflict.

Let us hope that the Palestinians are not tempted to give up on the UN vote in favor of the appearance of negotiations, which will serve to further prolong settlement expansion under the cover of the Oslo Accords. All we need is to recall the statement by Netanyahu, in which he was recorded telling settlers in Ofra in 2001 that he had previously extorted from the Americans a commitment that he would be the one to determine what qualifies as the “defined military sites” in the territories that will remain under Israeli control.

Netanyahu said that from his perspective the entire Jordan Valley qualifies. “Why is this important?” he asked. “Because from that moment I put a halt to the Oslo Accords.”

As for Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the Palestinians need to trap him with his own words; he had previously threatened that if the United Nations recognizes a Palestinian state, Israel will annul the Oslo Accords.

If I were in Abbas’ place, I would tell Dennis Ross that he should tell his president to forget about negotiations without recognition in writing from Netanyahu stating that the permanent borders will be based on the 1967 lines with agreed-upon changes and committing to a total freeze of settlement construction during negotiations and a set timetable for withdrawal from the territories.

You don’t want Oslo? Fine, we don’t need it. No more “Palestinian Authority”; no more Area A, B or C (a division that has in effect created a Land of the Settlers on 60 percent of the territory ); no more “peace process.”

Restore military rule in the West Bank. At the same time, you can reoccupy Gaza and go back to Gush Katif.

According to the Oslo Accords, the final-status agreement was supposed to have been decided upon 13 years ago – meaning that we would be celebrating its bar mitzvah this year. On September 13, the accords themselves will be turning 18, the number signifying life in the Jewish mystical tradition. The time has come to put the Oslo Accords out of their misery.

=====================================

6.  July 3, 2011

http://mondoweiss.net/

Why every flotilla succeeds and the siege of Gaza will end

Jul 03, 2011 08:21 am | Paul Woodward

Is it possible to break the siege of Gaza if no one notices?

As an exercise in directing global attention to the plight of a population subject to collective punishment, the first flotilla in August 2008 was a bit of a flop — even though it reached Gaza.

In the Jerusalem Post, Herb Keinon cynically wrote at the time:

Ever since the Free Gaza Movement made known its intent a few weeks ago to set sail for the Gaza Strip to “break” the Israeli blockade, it was clear that the two boatfuls of professional left-wing demonstrators and tag-along journalists were after one thing: a huge media event.

Nothing, therefore, would have given them a greater media buzz than if a couple of Israel Navy boats stopped them on the high seas, arrested the protesters (hopefully, from the point of view of the organizers of the protest, with some gratuitous brutality), and dragged the Greek-registered vessels into the Ashdod port.

Imagine the footage, imagine the images, and imagine the public relations bonanza for those few “brave souls” on the sea-weary vessels. Israel would, undoubtedly, have faced a public relations drubbing. So by deciding to let the boats through, the government deprived the protesters of the huge media event they so obviously wanted.

Indeed, instead of footage of heavyhanded Israelis stopping boats carrying an 81-year-old American nun and the sister-in-law of former British prime minister Tony Blair leading the nightly news broadcasts in the West on Saturday night, the story of the boats’ arrival in Gaza barely made a blip on the CNN, Fox, or Sky news broadcasts. With the world’s eyes still glued to the Olympics in Beijing, and the media focusing on US presidential candidate Barack Obama’s choice of Joe Biden as his vice presidential nominee, the Gaza blockade-running story didn’t register in the electronic media.

And in the written press, the protesters didn’t fare that much better. The New York Times ran a small piece on page 16 on Sunday; The Washington Post on page 12; and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch relegated it to a three-paragraph brief. As media events go, this one was not particularly successful.

But — as Keinon also noted — the story was not over. Indeed.

What the flotilla organizers understood was that whatever the outcome, each challenge to the siege could in fact never fail. Ships could succeed by reaching Gaza, or succeed without reaching Gaza by exposing Israel to the eyes of the world as a bone-headed bully.

The only solution to Israel’s problem was and remains the one that it refuses to entertain: backing itself out of a dead-end policy that by any metric one wants to use, has been a demonstrable failure — a policy which hasn’t weakened Hamas; hasn’t turned Gaza’s population against its rulers; hasn’t made Israel safer; and above all has brought Israel’s global image to an all-time low while callously inflicting yet more suffering on the Palestinian people.

The Israeli columnist, Asaf Gefen, suggested this week:

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.

But now that the flotilla appears stuck in Greece, can’t Netanyahu claim victory? Some Israeli reporters seem to think so:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sometimes seems almost too arrogant and self assured for his own good. However, unlike in most instances, this weekend he actually has justification for his haughtiness.

Really? Watch the video of The Audacity of Hope as it chugged out of a Greek harbor yesterday and ask yourself: what kind of prime minister and what kind of nation could feel threatened by this kind of challenge?

The need to subjugate others; the obsession with existential threats; the insatiable hunger for loving affirmations; and the fear of equality between Jews and non-Jews — all of this exposes Israel’s intrinsic weakness, a weakness that cannot be overcome by belligerence, isolation or warfare.

In truth, nothing threatens Israel more than its own fear of the world.

It’s time not just for Israel to end the siege of Gaza but for Zionists to break out of their own self-made prison.

This post also appears at Woodward’s site, War in Context.

====================

“Deplorable!” – The ‘Quartet’ Comments on Gaza

Jul 03, 2011

Nima Shirazi

Provided always, That if any goods, wares or merchandise, shall be laden or put off from, or discharged or landed upon, any other place than the quays, wharfs, or places, so to be appointed, the same, together with the ships, boats, and other vessels employed therein, and the horses, or other cattle and carriages used to convey the same, and the person or persons concerned or assisting therein, or to whose hands the same shall knowingly come, shall suffer all the forfeitures and penalties imposed by this or any other Act on the illegal shipping or landing of goods.

– Boston Port Act of 1774 (14 Geo. III. c. 19)

On March 30, 1774, in response to the Boston Tea Party, the British Parliament enacted the Boston Port Act, effectively shutting down all commerce and travel in and out of Massachusetts colony. The law, known as one of the Intolerable Acts, was enforced by a British naval blockade of Boston harbor. These punitive acts, which collectively punished an entire colony for the acts of resistance and frustration of a few, served to unite the disparate colonies in their fight for self-determination, sovereignty, and natural and constitutional rights. Colonies as far away as South Carolina sent relief supplies to their compatriots in Massachusetts. As a result of British imperial overreach, the First Continental Congress was convened on September 5, 1774. The Congress, in turn, established the Continental Association, a solidarity pact between the colonies to boycott all British goods and, in the event of continued British aggression, to stand as one in their fight for independence.

237 years later…

The so-called “Middle East Quartet” – that is, the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia – has issued a “Statement on the Situation in Gaza” today.

It is a brief and unsurprising document.  No mention of a “siege” or “blockade,” of course.  While it states that the “conditions facing the civilian population in Gaza” are “unsustainable,” it provides absolutely no indication of the extent of the humanitarian crisis (i.e. 80% aid dependency, 95% of water is undrinkable, a mere 20% is food secure, 36% unemployment – 47% among Gaza’s youth – and 38% living below the poverty line).

The statement ignores all of this.  Instead, it “notes that efforts have improved conditions over the last year, including a marked increase in the range and scope of goods and materials moving into Gaza, an increase in international project activity, and the facilitation of some exports.”

Yet, these “improved conditions” are illusory.  For instance, a recent report found that while, since June 2010, there has been “improved access to formerly restricted goods, including some raw materials, the increased imports of construction materials (cement, gravel and steel bar) through the tunnels from Egypt, and the improved volume of imports of construction materials for PA-approved projects implemented by international and UN organizations helped reactivate the local economy in Gaza,” this “[e]conomic growth has not translated into poverty reduction.”

More importantly, “Israeli restrictions on access to markets (imports on a range of raw materials and exports) and access to natural resources (land and water), as well as the increasing transport costs due the closure of Karni crossing” make it virtually impossible for real economic sustainability – through private sector growth – to occur.  Furthermore,

The recent decrease in unemployment in the Gaza Strip is mainly linked to the construction and agricultural sectors which have some of the lowest wages and employ mainly unskilled/casual laborers. The new access regime allowed for an increasing number of construction projects under the UN or international umbrella, but failed to trickle down the benefits to the private sector. The latter is still relying on tunnels for the supply of construction materials. The agricultural sector is seasonal and more than half of the labor force is composed of unpaid family members.

[…]

Ongoing restrictions on the movement of goods and artificially-inflated food prices and transport costs continue to impact the economy even after the new access regime, and thereby the June 2010 decision failed to impact the viability of the tunnel economy.

[…]

The new access regime did not translate into a tangible relaxation of exports despite the 8 December 2010 cabinet decision by the GoI, and the consecutive agreement with the Quartet Representative in February 2011. The blockade is still in place. Apart from a very low rate of cash crops exported, no other goods have been exported out of the Gaza Strip under the new access regime. The unpredictability of the crossing, frequent power cuts, as well as increased transportation costs do not ensure sustained exports of agricultural goods. Moreover, the exports are cut from their market of origin.

Nevertheless, the Quartet Statement commends Israel for the recent approval of $100 million in construction material to be allowed into Gaza and used to build 18 schools and 1,200 houses.  Distraction accomplished.

But then things get even more ridiculous.

The statement reads:

The Quartet recognizes that Israel has legitimate security concerns that must continue to be safeguarded. Members of the Quartet are committed to working with Israel, Egypt and the international community to prevent the illicit trafficking of arms and ammunition into Gaza and believe efforts to maintain security while enabling movement and access for Palestinian people and goods are critical.

Naturally, Palestinians in Gaza – y’know, the ones that keep getting murdered by Israeli bullets, tank shells, mortars, missiles, cluster bombs and flechettes – are not entitled to the same kind of security guarantees.  While the U.S. continues to supply the occupying power with the latest killing machines and heavy-duty artillery, the occupied are denied their own right to resist brutality and slaughter.  One wonders, if “illicit trafficking of arms and ammunition into Gaza” is to be avoided, what channels are available for the legal transfer of weaponry and mechanisms for self-defense?  Oh right, there are none. Something about barrels, fish, and white phosphorous comes to mind.

The Quartet Statement then goes on to voice its opposition to the 2011 Flotilla – without mentioning its stance on international law and whether or not the blockade is legal (hint: it’s not) and blah blah blah “established channels” blah blah “established land crossings.”

The disconnect is staggering.  While the Quartet condemns the Flotilla, it has already acknowledged the slight benefits of Israel’s “new access regime” implemented in June 2010 as a direct consequence of the 2010 Flotilla.  So, while calling for an end to that tactic, they already understand full well that it is the only thing that has worked so far to bring attention to the blockade and to force Israel to act (even meagerly) on its obligations.

And then the kicker:

The Quartet regrets the injury and deaths caused by the 2010 flotilla, urges restraint and calls on all Governments concerned to use their influence to discourage additional flotillas, which risk the safety of their participants and carry the potential for escalation.

Read that again.  “Injury and death caused by the 2010 flotilla.”  Not by the heavily-armed and armored Israeli commandos who illegally stormed the ships in international waters and shot nine innocent people to death.  No no, the “flotilla” is to blame.  Just for the record, here’s what the United Nations – a member of the Quartet! – had to say about last year’s Mavi Marmara massacre:

The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel towards the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence. It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality. Such conduct cannot be justified or condoned on security or any other grounds. It constituted grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law.

It also found “clear evidence to support prosecutions of the following crimes within the terms of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention: willful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health,” and stated that Israel had seriously violated its obligations under the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including the “right to life…torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment…right to liberty and security of the person and freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention…right of detainees to be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person…[and] freedom of expression.”

Based upon “forensic and firearm evidence,” the UN fact-finding panel concluded that the killing of Turkish-American citizen Furkan Dogan and that of five Turkish citizens by the Israeli troops on the Mavi Marmara “can be characterized as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions.”

Also, from whom is the Quartet “urg[ing] restraint”?  They never say.  Clearly not Israel!  That would be anti-Semitic. Maybe they’re wishing 86-year-old Hedy Epstein should calm the hell down.  Maybe Alice Walker should chill out.  But Israeli soldiers executing civilians on the high seas?  Whatever.

The statement concludes with a single sentence: “The Quartet also calls for an end to the deplorable five-year detention of Gilad Shalit.”  Deplorable.  The capture and detention of a single Israeli Occupation soldier receives the deepest condemnation of the entire document.  But, what were the “conditions facing the civilian population in Gaza” – 1.6 million people – again? Oh right, “unsustainable.”  Obviously, were the siege simply more sustainable and less of a burden, it wouldn’t be an issue.  But since it’s “unsustainable,” it should probably be addressed somehow since the Quartet is “concerned.”

But does the Quartet call for an end to the four-year naval blockade or the five-year siege or the 44-year occupation or the airstrikes or kidnappings or buffer zone sniper shootings or drone attacks or collective punishment?  Nope.  But they sure do “call for an end to the deplorable five-year detention of Gilad Shalit.”

Because, after all, it’s clear that the life of one Israeli soldier is more important than a million and a half Palestinians any day of the week…and especially over July 4th weekend?

================================

7.  Jerusalem Post

July 4, 2011 12:10 IST

Photo by: Ariel Jerozolimski

MKs to ask Knesset: Disqualify Tibi bill on Nakba denial

http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=227807

By JPOST.COM STAFF

04/07/2011

Bill submitted to Knesset proposes to revoke state funding for NGOs that deny Nakba; Benny Begin: Bill tries to prove Israel born out of injustice.

Right-wing Knesset members on Monday were expected to ask the Knesset Speaker’s Office to reject a bill submitted by MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List) to revoke state funding for public NGOs and organizations who deny the “Nakba,” Israel Radio reported.

The Knesset Speaker is authorized to refuse the discussion of a bill in the Knesset if is racist or denies the existence of the Sate of Israel.

The Knesset’s legal adviser, Eyal Yinon, decided in an unusual move not to take a stand on the disqualification or approval of the proposal, and left the decision to the Knesset Presidency.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin expressed doubt over whether it was legal to disqualify Tibi’s bill, but said the bill is an act of provocation against the state.

Likud Minister without Portfolio Benny Begin said in response to Tibi’s bill that marking Nakba Day on May 15 is designed to try to prove that the Jewish state was born out of injustice, and that this should be corrected by changing the basic nature of the state.

Begin told Israel Radio that he trusts the Knesset Speaker and the legal adviser to accurately determine the legal status of the bill.

=============================

8. Today in Palestine

http://www.theheadlines.org/11/03-07-11.shtml

==========================

9.  Links to additional reading, all about the Flotilla, except for the first one from Al Jazeera,

  • ·        Ynet Monday, July 04, 2011

By Elior Levy _Flotilla activists reject Greek offer to ship aid to Gaza

Harbor-bound pro-Palestinian activists say Athens’ offer to deliver aid to Strip a scheme concocted in cahoots with Israel

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4090605,00.html

  • ·        Washington Post July 3, 2011

By Joel Greenberg  With Gaza flotilla stalled, both sides claim victory

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/with-gaza-flotilla-stalled-both-sides-claim-victory/2011/07/03/AGrc1ZwH_story.html

  • ·        The Independent Monday, 4 July 2011

By Catrina Stewart

Mystery deepens over the flotilla on the rocks

The many mishaps that have befallen 10 ships heading for Gaza have triggered accusations of Israeli dirty tricks

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/mystery-deepens-over-the-flotilla-on-the-rocks-2306298.html

  • ·        Irish Times Mon, Jul 04, 2011

MICHAEL JANSEN in Jerusalem

Greece prohibits Gaza flotilla boats from leaving its ports

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2011/0704/1224300032415.html

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Dorothy Online Newsletter

A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

How Greece and Israel became BFF

04 Jul 2011

The betrayal of whistle-blower hero Bradley Manning

04 Jul 2011

An interesting feature in New York magazine about the alleged leaker to Wikileaks of countless US documents. Manning is a hero because he saw American illegality in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond and wanted to act. Not remain silent. He was bullied in the US military as a gay man. A troubled soul who has changed the course of history, for the better.

This extract details his exchange with hacker Adrian Lamo, the man who eventually turned him into the authorities:

I wanted to talk to Lamo, and after I tracked him down online, he invited me to the Coliseum, a Long Island motor inn where he greeted me at the door of his small room. He wore a half-smile, quipped that he was staying until he exhausted his finances or died, and made a beeline for the bed—he was unsteady on his feet. And then he shut his eyes. And kept them shut for much of our three-hour conversation. He was articulate, even thoughtful, but didn’t seem entirely present. He often paused for 30-second intervals before speaking.

It was only when I asked about his life as a hacker that Lamo seemed to become fully engaged. “It is the one thing I get excited about,” he told me. Lamo is a high-school and college dropout, but as a hacker he thought of himself as a bold explorer of new worlds, a Columbus. His hacks were at once clever and incredibly dumb—and always sensational. “Why not go in and behave like a user and see what can be made to behave differently than expected?,” he explained. Lamo didn’t damage the systems he entered—“I didn’t want to be malicious”—but left behind a quirky signature, as if to say, “I could have hurt you.” At Yahoo News, he edited a couple of stories. Later, he hunkered down at a Kinko’s copy shop for 24 hours and, with nothing but his laptop, hacked so deep into MCI Worldcom’s computer system that he could have fired then-CEO Bernie Ebbers. “I was tempted,” Lamo told me—but he just took a screen shot.

Lamo’s hacks made him famous mostly because he ran to the press after each one. Unfortunately, the FBI turned out to be an avid reader of his press. In 2003, the govern­ment arrested him for busting into the New York Times’ computers—Lamo had added his name to the list of op-ed contributors and created several Nexis ­accounts, mainly to keep up with news of himself. At the time, Lamo was furious at the government. His arrest “strikes a blow against openness,” he said. Hackers rallied around him. As far as they were concerned, his only crime was “that of outsmarting you”—the government.

In the Coliseum Motor Inn, Lamo lit a cigarette, a Camel with a pellet of menthol in the filter, and sucked on it like a straw. Smoking seemed to make him wistful. “[WorldCom] is a long time ago now,” he told me.

Lamo’s life as a hacker had come to an end at 22, and with it, a part of him seemed to die. He’d been sentenced to house arrest rather than prison, but he told me, “I’ve been diagnosed with major depression that largely began after my clash with the FBI.” (Two weeks before Manning reached out, Lamo had been confined to a mental-health facility.)

If Lamo suffered, he didn’t let on to his public. Hacking was now out of the question, but arrest had enhanced his fame. Young admirers reached out to him, ­including, in 2007, a 17-year-old named Lauren Robinson. “I liked his ideals and such back then,” she told me. Within a year, they were married—Lamo was 26 at the time. At first the romance was exciting. Soon, though, reality set in, Robinson recalled. “We’d sit around on computers all day,” she complained. As she saw it, his main activity was tending “the Adrian Lamo persona,” which existed almost exclusively online. “Eighty-five percent of his time was on a computer,” she said. He refused to work for pay. “I won’t whore out my skills,” he told Robinson. His father paid their rent. In the real world, Lamo was barely hanging on. But as Robinson, now divorced, recalled, online his reputation was intact. “People kind of saw him as a hacker idol,” she said. Bradley Manning must have too.

It wasn’t even much of a hack, Manning told Lamo, according to the logs. The Army’s “infosec”—Manning used the military term for information security—was so sloppy that a lowly intel analyst could sift through the government’s most closely held secrets. “it was vulnerable as fuck,” he wrote to Lamo. Manning downloaded data onto a CD marked “Lady Gaga,” lip-syncing as he supposedly did his job: “pretty simple, and unglamorous,” he wrote. No one had ever taken note of him, and no one did now: “everyone just sat at their workstations … watching music ­videos / car chases / buildings exploding … and writing more stuff to CD/DVD.” Then, the government alleged, he fed it to WikiLeaks.

In their online conversations, Lamo wanted to know more and encouraged Manning any way he could. He flirted. The two exchanged photos, assuring one another of their “sexiness,” according to a person who read the unedited portions of the chat logs, sent each other emoticon hearts, and used endearments like “sweetie.”

But Lamo wasn’t Assange, offering Manning a part in a noble cause. Even as he flirted, Lamo contacted a friend connected with military counterintelligence. Lamo didn’t want to find himself on the wrong side of the FBI again. Also, as Lamo saw it, Manning posed a threat to the nation. Manning said he leaked hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic cables: “holy fracking crap, 260,000 documents, do you think you could go through those and say they’re not going to cause any lives to be lost.”

Lamo, who soon started working with the authorities, led Manning on.

bradass87: “i think im in more potential heat than you ever were.”

“Not mandatorily,” Lamo reassured him.

Manning isn’t a classic whistle-blower. Disturbing information didn’t cross his desk, prodding him to act. Manning snooped—according to the timetable he proposed to Lamo, he’d been at it since almost the moment he arrived in Iraq. “i had always questioned how things worked, and investigated to find the truth,” he said. One of Manning’s first discoveries was a troubling 2007 video of an Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad. In the video, the viewer watches through the crosshairs of a .30-caliber gun—almost complicit—as the gunner killed two ­Reuters journalists, mistaking a Tele­photo lens for a weapon, and wounded two children. For Assange, the meaning of the video was clear, and to make his point he edited the video into a version he called “Collateral Murder.” It caused a worldwide scandal and overnight gave WikiLeaks, a tiny group of activists, credibility.

“What is your endgame?” Lamo asked Manning.

Manning didn’t have one. He’d started leaking as a way to protest the conduct of the war. The Apache helicopter killings were “wrong,” he wrote to Lamo. But soon he embraced a broader principle: Open the drawers. “information should be free,” he told Lamo, reciting the hacker mantra. According to the chat logs, Manning said he leaked Iraq and Afghan war logs, reports on Guantánamo prisoners, and a cache of diplomatic secrets. “explaining how the first world exploits the third, in detail, from an internal perspective,” Manning thought of himself as honorable, even heroic—“I guess I’m too idealistic,” he said. “i want people to see the truth … regardless of who they are … ­because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.” He hoped to provoke “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms … if not … then we’re doomed as a species.” He added a personal coda: “i will officially give up on the society we have if nothing happens.”

Lamo played Manning, reassuring him while, in reality, he had nothing but disdain for him. When Lamo was arrested, he’d been offended by the government prosecution—“criminalizing curiosity,” he called it. Now he was offended by Manning. “He’s a traitor at best,” Lamo said. And, worse, a child. “He was almost eager to explain his leaks, current, past, and future. Like a kid showing off a new toy,” Lamo told me. He was disgusted by the way in which Manning conflated his own precious moral awakening with the future of U.S. diplomacy. The leaks could “compromise our ability to make the world a better place, which we do in a lot of ways,” Lamo later said.

Australian Zionist lobby wants no aid money for Palestinians

04 Jul 2011

Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA does wonderful work in many corners of the globe. But its focus in Palestine has caused the local Israel lobby to pressure the Australian government to sever ties to the group. This isn’t likely but once again highlights the toxic nature of the Zionist mainstream on decency and morality.

During a recent parliamentary committee in Canberra, Liberal Senator Eric Abetz – who sees to love Israel more than his own children – asked AusAID what exactly it is backing in the Middle East. There’s no problem with such questions in theory but the aim is to a) do the Zionist lobby’s bidding and attempt to demonise any kind of support for Palestinians and b) frame Israel as a benevolent power in Palestine. Here’s the lobby’s AIJAC report:

At the October 2010 Estimates hearings, Senator Eric Abetz (Tas. Lib) questioned AusAID on elements of its funding dispensed to APHEDA. Senator Abetz asked AusAID whether it funded organisations associated with BDS or the APHEDA ‘study tours’ to the Middle East. AusAID responded that “no AusAID or other Australian Development Assistance funds are provided to any groups for the BDS campaign” and that “AusAID does not provide any funding for the [APHEDA] study trips.” However, regarding Ma’an Development Centre AusAID conceded that while “AusAID does not directly fund Ma’an Development Centre… under the Australian Middle East NGO Cooperation Agreement (AMENCA) AusAID provides funding to Union Aid Abroad APHEDA.”

Senator Abetz returned to these issues at the 2 June 2011 Estimates hearings, eliciting yet more revelations. Abetz asked AusAID: “What are the safeguards in place that prevent AusAID funding being used by APHEDA or any of the other in a manner that contravenes Australian government policy on Israel? Let us just pluck an example out of the air like BDS?” AusAID replied simply: “We have no information that any of the NGOs we are supporting…are involved with that program.”

But Senator Abetz then pointed out to AusAID that “According to APHEDA’s annual reports all of APHEDA’s funds for Middle East projects originate from AusAID,” which would seem to imply that it must be AusAID’s tax dollars being given to the Ma’an Development Centre by APHEDA. In response, AusAID did not contest this claim, merely re-stating its position that no AusAID funds are contributed towards organisations that support BDS. The AusAID representative offered no concrete assurances that the Australian taxpayer money apparently being given to the Ma’an Development Centre via APHEDA is not being used for BDS activities.

As a result of Senator Abetz’s efforts, it now seems established as fact that AusAID is indirectly supporting the Ma’an Development Centre via APHEDA. Further, AusAID is apparently unable, to date, to provide concrete assurances that these monies are not going to fund the Ma’an Development Centre’s efforts to promote BDS.

When Senator Abetz asked: “if it established that APHEDA’s official position is to support the BDS campaign, would AusAID reconsider its funding of APHEDA?” AusAID replied “it would be the decision of the Minister to make if there were information that caused us to question the way in which Australian aid funds are being used.”

Given the information revealed in these hearings, there now seems ample reason to raise such questions about the AusAID funding to APHEDA. Given AusAID’s inability to provide adequate answers to Senator Abetz’s questions, the ball must now move to the court of Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, as AusAID implied. There is now a good basis for expecting a review of his department’s funding of APHEDA in light of these revelations and the fact that on 1 April 2011, Mr. Rudd assured Australians that his government “did not condone nor support any boycotts or sanctions against the Jewish state.”

Where to begin? It is interesting how the other three Australian NGOs (CARE, World Vision and Actionaid) did not get questioned and odd also how their Palestinian partner NGOs – like just about every Palestinian NGO – have equally signed up to the 2005 BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] call, yet it is the APHEDA partner that gets singled out.

I’ve been told for years by APHEDA staff that the Australian Workers Union’s Paul Howes and his Zionist lieutenants are upset that any major union would seriously challenge Israel and they work continuously to bully both APHEDA and its Labor Party-aligned backers to stop campaigning so strongly for Palestine. In this they have failed. But it won’t stop them trying. It is ironic in the extreme that a union that claims to care for workers and human rights spends time defending Israel, a nation that actively oppresses Palestinian workers under occupation. Principle has nothing to do with this position.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd is always quoting the fact that Australia has “greatly” increased aid to the Palestinians to $56m in 2011-12 and the important activities the aid is doing. However, he uses this “fact” to erroneously answer questions about Australia’s support of Palestinian aspirations (statehood, refugee right of return, end the occupation, human rights etc) for peace. In a political conflict such as this, providing aid is only half the answer; it must also be coupled with the insistence that Israel comply with relevant international, humanitarian law. The Australian government is silent on law enforcement against its great friend and ally.

Following the ripple effect of the Marrickville BDS campaign and the success of APHEDA study tours (which take unionists and others across the West Bank and Gaza and not just hear Zionist talking points), there is growing scrutiny in Parliament on AusAID’s Palestine program. It’s tragic that Palestine, with the least resources available to it and under siege, has to answer for the world’s ills and people’s petty prejudices.

APHEDA’s Middle East project officer Lisa Arnold tells me: “Gaza is a man-made disaster of more than five times the scale of the Indian Ocean tsunami; it’s just that the deaths and destruction occur over the course of decades, not minutes.”

The reality remains that APHEDA operates vitally important programs across Palestine – a few years ago I visited one of its programs at Gaza’s only rehabilitation hospital – and the Zionist lobby with its corporate and media mates should not be allowed to threaten this life-line to a people under occupation.

How legally unprepared was Australia for invading Afghanistan?

03 Jul 2011

According to new evidence, clearly deeply. Of course, we’ve seen countless examples in the US of senior government officials escaping any kind of punishment; it’s all about targeting individuals low down the food chain. When a so-called democracy refuses to take responsibility for illegal actions in war, little stops future leaders doing exactly the same thing. Besides, there are masses of evidence of occupation forces serially abusing prisoners in the “war on terror”:

Australia went to war in Afghanistan without a clear policy on how to deal with enemy detainees, secret papers reveal.

When a policy was adopted, the then chief of the Defence Force, Admiral Chris Barrie, expressed reservations about the legality of the agreed approach.

The documents also show another former Defence Force chief, General Peter Cosgrove, informed the Howard government of the death of an Iranian man captured by Australian troops in 2003, but the Australian public was never told.

The papers, obtained under freedom of information laws by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and made available to the ABC, reveal utter confusion at the highest levels of the Howard government and the Department of Defence over how to deal with enemy detainees.

On February 25, 2002, as Australian troops fought in Afghanistan, Admiral Barrie wrote to then defence minister Robert Hill complaining his commanders were being put at risk.

“There is currently no clear government policy on the handling of personnel who may be captured by the ADF … Defence and in particular ADF commanders are currently accepting the risk flowing from the lack of government policy,” he wrote.

Admiral Barrie proposed a set of interim arrangements, such as asking for American help to move captives from where the Australians were in Kandahar to a US detention facility, where an ADF team could supervise any prisoners captured by Australians.

Robert Hill gave permission for Admiral Barrie to negotiate with the United States and added a series of handwritten comments at the end of Admiral Barrie’s missive.

“I don’t understand why I didn’t get this brief before the Afghanistan operation,” he wrote. “We clearly should have sorted out this issue with the US as leader of the coalition months ago.”

What emerged from the negotiations became Australia’s detention policy in Afghanistan and Iraq: that if even a single American soldier was present when Australian forces captured enemy fighters, the US and not Australia would be recognised as the “detaining power”.

In a paragraph with words redacted, Admiral Barrie expressed reservations about the legality of this approach.

“Such an arrangement may not fully satisfy Australia’s legal obligations and in any event will not be viewed as promoting a respect for the rule of law,” he concluded.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter


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