Archive | June 13th, 2010



“It’s such an absolute disgrace to American media, when Americans have to turn to a Russian news channel to see stories about real American history or relevant issues and events… while American news shows nothing but BS and pop culture hype.” – Viewer comment

Russian TV Honors USS Liberty Survivors of Zio=Nazi Attack on 43rd Year Anniversary

Before Zionist commandos shot 9 peace activists to death aboard the Mavi Marmara, 34 American military men were killed by Zionist jet fighter planes and torpedo boats.

It happened in 1967 during the 6 day war and it became an event these men and women would live with for the rest of their lives. For years survivors of the USS Liberty — sworn under oath — were forbidden to tell their stories. But today, the surviving crewmen talk candidly about the dreadful day they nearly lost their lives. They gathered at the Arlington National Cemetery for the somber memorial service.

Thankyou to RTAmerica-

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Is the Aussie Zionist lobby in trouble?

Posted: 12 Jun 2010

One of Australia’s foremost academics, Scott Burchill, senses a change in Australian public opinion over Israel. The Zionist lobby will have noticed. As will the lobby’s closest backers (such support is always helped by regular free trips to Israel and a constant stream of press releases). Over to Burchill in an online exclusive:

Sometimes government spin doctors don’t need to work very hard to earn the allegiance and pro-active support of “opinion makers” in the media. News Limited’s Andrew Bolt and Greg Sheridan, for example, will offer uncritical support for Israel’s crimes without being prompted. However, a little positive reinforcement never hurts.

Andrew Bolt’s Israel junket in June last year (led by Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard) has paid off handsomely, especially given the recent need to defend Mossad’s identity theft of Australian passports and Israel’s crimes off the coast of Gaza. A case of money well spent, even if it was unnecessary.

Bolt is arguably Israel’s most vocal apologist in the Australian media even if his knowledge of the subject is limited to Israeli media releases. A quick glance of the comments left on his blog after each apologia, however, suggests even he is struggling to mobilise the right behind his extreme Zionism.

Things have now reached the point where Bolt is complaining about his own readers. Still he is repaying his sponsors in spades. Those of us who have been subject to Zionist hate mail for years can only smile at the irony of this.

Greg Sheridan also joined the 2009 guided tour. In 2007 The Australian’s Foreign Editor received the Jerusalem Prize. Sponsored jointly by the Israeli Government and the local Jewish community (Zionist Federation of Australia), Sheridan boasts that the prize is awarded to “people who have supported Israel conspicuously,” a charge he proudly accepts.
Of course no self-respecting journalist with even the barest understanding of the word “independence” would ever accept an award from a state or its domestic lobbyists, but Sheridan clearly cannot understand the concept ‘conflict of interest’, let alone avoid it.

Interestingly, he is facing a similar reader revolt to his stablemate. Below his exculpation of Israel’s passport fraud and identity theft against innocent Australians, over 95% of commentators opposed his apologetics. There was similar level of opposition following his support for Israeli state terror off the coast of Gaza.

Are there any lessons to be drawn from these developments? I think there are two. The first is that Israel’s attack on Gaza in December 2008 fundamentally changed world opinion about the Israel-Palestine conflict – probably the worst diplomatic “own goal” in Israel’s short history. The second is that, thanks largely to alternative, accessible media sources, and the increasingly arrogant recklessness of the dysfunctional Netanyahu Government, the Israel lobby in Australia (and the US) is finding life much more difficult than they have been accustomed to. If readers of The Australian and the Herald-Sun are no longer buying the message, the tide has indeed turned.


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Listening to whispers in Tehran and beyond

Posted: 11 Jun 2010

Dissent exists in the Islamic Republic, away from the Western media.

Branding the enemy as outcasts

Posted: 11 Jun 2010

Henry Siegman, former national director of the American Jewish Congress, returns with a powerful piece that questions the direction of the Jewish state:

Who would have believed that an Israeli government and its Jewish citizens would seek to demonize and shut down Israeli human rights organizations for their lack of “patriotism,” and dismiss fellow Jews who criticized the assault on the Gaza Flotilla as “Arabs,” pregnant with all the hateful connotations that word has acquired in Israel, not unlike Germans who branded fellow citizens who spoke up for Jews as “Juden”?

The German White Rose activists, mostly students from the University of Munich, who dared to condemn the German persecution of the Jews (well before the concentration camp exterminations began) were also considered “traitors” by their fellow Germans, who did not mourn the beheading of these activists by the Gestapo.

So, yes, there is reason for Israelis, and for Jews generally, to think long and hard about the dark Hitler era at this particular time. For the significance of the Gaza Flotilla incident lies not in the questions raised about violations of international law on the high seas, or even about “who assaulted who” first on the Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, but in the larger questions raised about our common human condition by Israel’s occupation policies and its devastation of Gaza’s civilian population.

If a people who so recently experienced on its own flesh such unspeakable inhumanities cannot muster the moral imagination to understand the injustice and suffering its territorial ambitions—and even its legitimate security concerns—are inflicting on another people, what hope is there for the rest of us?

The reasons most Israelis have no real interest in giving up the West Bank

Posted: 11 Jun 2010

While America’s neo-conservatives begin a full-fledged campaign of hatred directed at Turkey, this is how one of the United States’ major (war-supporting) Jewish writers, The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, frames the debate; Israeli fear, paranoia and belligerence:

Last night Mrs. Goldblog and I went to a dinner at which The Situation was the main topic of discussion. At one point, someone asked an Arab ambassador at the table how central the question of Jerusalem was to the peace process. Very central, he said, and then threw the question to me. I answered that it wasn’t an entirely relevant question. Seventeen years after the inception of the Oslo peace process, the Israelis and the Palestinians — or at least the half of the Palestinian polity theoretically committed to peaceful compromise — are no longer speaking directly to each other.

 In other words, asking about the final disposition of Jerusalem right now is akin to asking how best to distribute the AIDS vaccine to the interior of the Congo. It’s a good and necessary question, but we should probably develop an AIDS vaccine first, and then worry about its delivery.

One main reason it is so premature to talk about the disposition of Jerusalem is that the cynicism among Israelis about the ultimate aims of the Palestinians is deep and wide. It is true that many Israelis believe — as many American Jews believe — that the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, are very different sorts of leaders than Yasser Arafat. They are practical men who are trying to create reality-based policies that actually serve the best political and economic interests of their people.

But Israelis tend to see them as semi-powerless; they see Hamas as the rising power (especially after Hamas’s victory in the Turkish flotilla war), and they understand, in ways that many Americans don’t seem to understand, that Hamas poses an existential threat — you should pardon the expression — to the Palestinian Authority led by Abbas and Fayyad. Seizing the Palestinian Authority, and taking over the Palestine Liberation Organization, is Hamas’s penultimate goal (well, maybe not penultimate, because Hamas’s ultimate goal is not merely the eradication of Israel but also the creation of a pan-Muslim entity led by the Muslim Brotherhood.)

But about those Israeli doubts: For the typical Israeli (and again, I’m not talking about settlers, but about people who have, in the past, agreed in principle that the Palestinians should have an independent state) two events in particular have soured them on the chance for compromise.

 In 2000, the Israeli army pulled out of Lebanon. It was hoped that this pull-out would lead to peace on the northern border, but instead it led to rocket attacks by the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah. In 2005, Israel unilaterally pulled its soldiers and settlers out of Gaza. Again, rockets followed. The saving grace of these rockets attacks — both the Lebanon attacks and the Gaza attacks — was that the rockets did not reach the center of the country — Tel Aviv, as well as Israel’s only international airport, Ben-Gurion.

Now, of course, the peace process, such as it is, hinges in part on an Israeli willingness to withdraw from the West Bank, including the hills of the West Bank that overlook Tel Aviv, the airport, and the entire thickly-populated central region of the country. This withdrawal will not be happening anytime soon, because there is a high degree of certainty among Israelis that a withdrawal from the West Bank hills would be followed not by peaceful reconciliation, but, again, by rockets. 

 No Israeli wants to be a freier, a sucker, and right now the Israelis feel like suckers. Twice in ten years they’ve withdrawn from territory, and twice they’ve been hit by rockets. They are not doing this again, not until the politics of the Palestinians — and the politics of Iran — change dramatically.

So this is Prime Minister Netanyahu’s dilemma. He has said he agrees to the creation of a Palestinian state, but he knows his populace will not soon countenance the birth of a Palestinian state of the type and size the Palestinians demand. He also knows that Israel’s protector and benefactor, the United States, believes that the creation of this Palestinian state will help ameliorate other problems in the Middle East, especially the problem of Iran, while he believes the opposite, that only the neutralization of Iran (preferably by the Americans) and its proxies will lead to conditions in which it is possible for Israel to once again take risks for peace.

So he has five main tasks over the next year: Stopping Israel from committing grievous, unforced errors of the sort we saw with the Turkish flotilla, despite the rising number of provocations emanating from the Hamas-friendly movement that seeks to delegitimize the idea of a Jewish state; continuing to pressure the world to confront Iran and its existential threat to Israel, so that he doesn’t have to do it by himself; creating a better life for Palestinians on the West Bank, all the while knowing that he will not be able to give them what they say they want; figuring a way out of the Gaza blockade morass that does not wind up rewarding Hamas; and all the while maintaining good relations with an American administration that wants Israel to do things right now that it can’t do.

This next period, in other words, is going to be among the most challenging in Israeli history.

Welcome to what Gazans were saying four years ago

Posted: 11 Jun 2010

While a new French reality program pits Israelis and Palestinians under constant watch to learn more about the other (and hopefully not worsen stereotypes), the New York Times decides to finally report on the inevitable: the siege on Gaza has failed and perhaps a different strategy should be employed. But note the tone. Israel was simply trying to protect itself and now, with a heavy heart, must turn to different methods to manage the situation:

Three years after Israel and Egypt imposed an embargo on this tormented Palestinian strip, shutting down its economy, a consensus has emerged that the attempt to weaken the governing party, Hamas, and drive it from power has failed.

In the days since an Israeli naval takeover of a flotilla trying to break the siege turned deadly, that consensus has taken on added urgency, with world powers, anti-Hamas Palestinians in Gaza and some senior Israeli officials advocating a shift.

In its three years in power, Hamas has taken control of not only security, education and the justice system but also the economy, by regulating and taxing an extensive smuggling tunnel system from Egypt. In the process, the traditional and largely pro-Western business community has been sidelined.

This may be about to change.

“We need to build a legitimate private sector in Gaza as a strong counterweight to extremism,” Tony Blair, who serves as the international community’s liaison to the Palestinians, said in an interview. The views of Mr. Blair, a former prime minister of Britain, reflected those of the Obama administration as well. “To end up with a Gaza that is dependent on tunnels and foreign aid is not a good idea,” he said.

Businesspeople in Gaza say that by closing down legitimate commerce, Israel has helped Hamas tighten its domination. And by allowing in food for shops but not goods needed for industry, Israel is helping keep Gaza a welfare society, the sort of place where extremism can flourish.

How to shame Washington with one easy online dump

Posted: 11 Jun 2010

The power of Wikileaks has become legendary (this recent New Yorker profile is fascinating). A website unafraid to publish sensitive information and to hell with the consequences. Transparency with few limits:

Pentagon investigators are trying to determine the whereabouts of the Australian-born founder of the secretive website Wikileaks for fear that he may be about to publish a huge cache of classified State Department cables that, if made public, could do serious damage to national security, government officials tell The Daily Beast.

The officials acknowledge that even if they found the website founder, Julian Assange, it is not clear what they could do to block publication of the cables on Wikileaks, which is nominally based on a server in Sweden and bills itself as a champion of whistleblowers.

How to please your Zionist masters without even trying

Posted: 11 Jun 2010

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas goes to Washington and attends a private dinner with the Zionist lobby. Notice anything wrong with this? The exact group who spend every waking hour extinguishing the prospects of Palestinian self-determination now want to dine with the puppet leader.

The report speaks for itself:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas can’t seem to unify the political factions within his own community, but there is one disparate group that he does have the ability to bring together: the American Jewish community.

Representatives from all sides of the pro-Israel NGO world all came together to meet with Abbas at a private dinner at the Newseum last night. The groups put aside their differences over Israeli tactics, U.S. pressure, treatment of Gazans, and treatment of the Israeli human rights community to show a united front to the Palestinian leader and get him to answer the questions on their mind.

Leaders of more hawkish groups like AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League, the Conference of Presidents, Mort Zuckerman, Elliott Abrams, and Dov Zakheim broke bread with the more dovish likes of J Street, Americans for Peace Now, and Hillel.

The Cable spoke got the readout from multiple participants. Here’s how it went:

Host Robert Wexler, president of the S. Danial Abraham Center for Middle East Peace and rumored next ambassador to Israel, opened with some short remarks. Abbas made a quick speech, and the rest of the two-and-a-half-hour session was all questions and answers.

Three topics dominated the questioning: how and when to move to direct talks, Palestinian “incitement” and how far Abbas would be willing to show both sides he was serious about peace, and to a lesser degree, what to do about Hamas.

The Gaza flotilla incident was not discussed. Nobody, including Abbas, brought it up.

Most participants we spoke with said Abbas gave mostly constructive answers, went further on explanations that he ever has before, and sometime gave as good as he got.

“I’ve never seen him as impressive,” said one conservative participant. “You have to give the guy credit. He handled himself well in a den of lions.”


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Report: Obama to call for independent inquiry of flotilla raid

Posted: 11 Jun 2010

Of course, be mindful of the source, wanting to hurt Obama  and paint him as the AntiChrist, but, just letting youall know:

The Weekly Standard  has learned that senior Obama administration officials have been telling foreign governments that the administration intends to support an effort next week at the United Nations to set up an independent commission, under UN auspices, to investigate Israel’s behavior in the Gaza flotilla incident.

Pillow talk: ‘NYT’ correspondent’s husband says Israel is in a war against critical information

Posted: 11 Jun 2010

And you’re worried about New York Times correspondent Ethan Bronner’s son joining the IDF? Well the other New York Times correspondent, Isabel Kershner, is an Israeli married to an Israeli, Hirsh Goodman, and below is Goodman’s take on the Mavi Marmara bloodbath.

Note that Goodman seems to think that the Gaza onslaught of 08-09 was just fine. This is a measure of the degradation of the lib-left in Israeli society.

The excerpt, in which Goodman laments the fact that “materials showing the brutal attack on the Israeli commandos were withheld” by the government for several hours:

It seems that a major reason for withholding the pictures may have been the concern in the military that their disclosure would lead to demoralization in the army, not to speak of public criticism. In consequence, the military, with appropriate government approval, withheld the videos, a correct decision perhaps from the army’s perspective, but a bad one for the country’s international relations….

Both in Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, which led to the Goldstone commission, and in this incident, the need for materials that will help Israel make its case are crucial. This is no longer a question of image, but in the context of post-Goldstone realities and the concerted campaign to besmirch Israel and de-legitimize the country, it is probably as important, if not more so, than the conventional battles Israel faces. As a result of this campaign, Israel faces economic, artistic, and academic embargoes, continuous attacks in the UN, and other world forums. It undermines our allies, especially in the Arab world, where anti-Israel sentiment it at a peak, and embarrasses our friends.

It is time for those in the intelligence and security communities to switch gear when it comes to information sharing. There is a growing awareness that this is needed, but concrete action in this regard still needs to be taken. Israel has in place the necessary public diplomacy structures to make Israel’s case effectively. But without ammunition they are powerless.

Egyptian artists, Abbas, many nations, and Gazan children too– decry the siege

Posted: 11 Jun 2010

And other news and headlines from Today in Palestine:

Land Theft/Destruction and Ethnic Cleansing
Israel orders razing of five Palestinian homes

RAMALLAH: The Israeli authorities on Thursday handed notification to five Palestinian families in the West Bank village of Al-Nabi Saleh that their homes were to be demolished since they were built without the needed permits.

Flotilla Activists/Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment
Nabi Saleh village Protest The Israeli Wall, One Israeli Activist

Ghassan Bannoura – PNN – Israeli and international activists joined the villagers of Nabi Saleh , central West Bank, on Friday to protest the wall Israel’s is building on villagers lands.  People marched after the midday prayers at the local mosque and headed towards homes the Israeli military have threatened to demolish this week.

Palestinians kick footballs over Israel’s wall

Bethlehem – Ma’an – As the World Cup opened Friday afternoon in Johannesburg, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank hosted an opening ceremony of their own highlighting their right to be an independent nation.  Facing off against Israeli border guards manning a barrier that cuts through half of the Palestinian village, demonstrators in Bili’in, near Ramallah, formed their own Palestine national football team. The players, together with dozens of other Palestinian, Israeli and international activists, marched to Israel’s wall at the edge of the village, where a goal was constructed and a game was begun.

New footage of flotilla attack contradicts Israeli account: Update: Iara Lee has posted her complete, unedited footage

Sail participants to sue Barak in France

French activists who took part in Gaza flotilla plan to file legal claim with local court, ICC against Israeli defense minister over deadly Navy raid. State official tells Ynet visit to Paris won’t be canceled, but security measures around Barak to be tightened during trip.,7340,L-3903695,00.html

Italian flotilla journalist: My credit card was used after IDF confiscated it

Journalist Manolo Luppichini has written Netanyahu, Peres, Barak, Lieberman and Israel’s ambassador in Italy over the matter.

Kidnapped by Israel, forsaken by Britain

Firstly I must apologize for taking so long to update my blog. The events of the past few days have been hectic to say the least, and I am still trying to come to grips with many of the things that have happened.  It was this time last week that I was on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara, and first spotted Israeli war ships in the distance, as they approached the humanitarian flotilla. Little did I know how deadly and bloody were the events that soon began to unfold.

Paul Larudee: The Price of Defying Israel

I was one of those who chose to defy Israeli forces when they attacked and took our Freedom Flotilla ships that were trying to deliver desperately needed humanitarian aid to civilian organizations in the Israeli blockaded Gaza Strip. Most of us resisted, to varying degrees, for which we paid a price — in my case multiple beatings in two days of captivity in Israel. At least nine paid with their lives. My multicolored skin and twisted joints are healing, even at age 64, but my colleagues are gone forever, and some of the dozens of wounded may never fully recover.

South America condemns deadly flotilla raid

Bethlehem – Ma’an – South America has condemned Israel’s assault on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that left nine passengers dead last week.  The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) issued a declaration in which it condemns Israel’s actions against the Freedom Flotilla. UNASUR represents Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Guyana, Suriname, Mexico and Panama.

Activists to demonstrate outside of European Commission Delegation in Barcelona

The European Union must put an end to the shameful and illegal siege that Israel imposes on Gaza. For 4 years, 1.5 million people have been living in inhumane conditions for having democratically elected a party Israel does not accept; for 43 years, Israel has been blocking all access to Gaza and controlling its territorial waters.

US Campaign offers condolences at Turkish Embassy

Last week, US Campaign National Media Coordinator David Hosey joined representatives of many other civil society organizations including CODEPINK, Friends of Sabeel North America, Viva Palestina, and Veterans for Peace in offering our condolences for the nine Turkish citizens (one of whom was also a U.S. citizen) killed by the Israeli military aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

Around the world, surge of BDS in response to Gaza Flotilla massacre (and how you can get involved)

Just a few weeks back, we reported on a renewed wave of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) activity against Israeli apartheid and occupation.  That was before the Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacre.  Now, as calls for governments around the globe to hold the Israeli military accountable for the killing of 8 Turkish citizens and one U.S.-Turkish citizen continue, and as Turkey, Nicaragua, and others have withdrawn ambassadors or suspended diplomatic ties, civil society groups are sending a clear message that accountability is the job of global citizens, not just states.

 German Jews prepare shipment for Gaza: group (AFP)

AFP – German Jews are preparing to send a ship loaded with humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip at the end of July despite an Israeli blockade, a representative for the initiative said on Thursday.*

Bahraini aid convoy preparing for trip to Gaza

Gaza – Ma’an – A 15-person strong aid convoy will depart from Bahrain in the coming days, loaded with almost a ton of aid for the Gaza Strip, spokesman for the Popular Committee Against the Siege Ali An-Nazli said Thursday.

They’re Coming: Freedom Flotilla Two and Others Planned, Stephen Lendman

The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG) is “an umbrella body” of 34 European human rights and humanitarian organizations supporting the right of Palestinians “to live in peace and dignity,” to be free from occupation, and to have “their own independent and sovereign state, (and) encourages all peoples of conscience and human rights advocates to intensify their efforts to highlight this life-theatening issue and end the catastrophe.”

Protest: TA fountain water painted red

Members of Committee to Lift the Siege on Gaza deface Tel Aviv landmarks in protest of deadly Navy raid.,7340,L-3903663,00.html

Ads promoting one democratic state pop up in Ramallah

These photos are ads in the West Bank promoting the idea of one democratic state. The big wide one says the two-state-solution is impossible and the one-state-solution inevitable. These ads have been popping up in Ramallah for weeks at different billboard locations. The group behind them is indicated as “al-Takamol: for the one state solution”. I have been trying to see who’s behind it; I asked people but they don’t know; a friend and I hypothesized that it’s the PA’s idea, a way of blackmailing Israel into negotiating the two state solution with a modicum of integrity and speed. Maybe someone can do the detective work?

Israel plans to send bill to Palestinians over boycotts

What do The Pixies, Elvis Costello, and Salam Fayyad, Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, have in common? A cursory glance might suggest not much yet all have deeply irked Israel.


Egyptian Artists Arrive In Gaza For Solidarity Tour

GAZA, June 11 (Bernama) — A “solidarity mission” comprising Egyptian Actors Association chief Ashraf Zaki and a delegation of 15 other Arab actors and artists arrived in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, entering from Egypt via the Rafah crossing, Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.

Violence and Aggression
Man shot dead in Wadi Joz; clashes

Jerusalem – Ma’an – A Palestinian man from Jerusalem was shot and killed by Israeli border guards on Friday, after he reportedly failed to stop at a checkpoint in the Wadi Joz neighborhood.  Witnesses said he was in serious condition as he was taken to hospital, with Israeli news sites reporting that the man died en route to hospital.

Soldiers Detain, Violently Attack A Youth In Hebron

Israeli soldiers detained and violently attacked a Palestinian Youth in Beit Ummar, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and released him later on.

Palestinian Detainee Dies In Israeli Prison

The Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies reported Thursday that detainee Mohammad Abdul-Salaam Abdeen, 37, from Al Toor Palestinian neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, died at the Al Ramla prison.

Hamas: PA arrested party members in WB

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Hamas officials accused Palestinian Authority police of detaining two party members from their West Bank homes in Bethlehem and Qalqiliya on Thursday night.

Siege/Human Rights/Humanitarian Issues
Spain seeks EU backing on plan to lift Israeli blockade of Gaza

EU scrambles for policy response after international outrage over Mavi Marmara.

New UN report highlights bleak economic situation for Palestinians

10 June 2010 – The economic situation in the occupied Palestinian territory has seen some improvement but remains precarious, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where the continued Israeli blockade undermines prospects for employment and growth, says a new United Nations report.

Ordinary Gazans hurt most by 3-year blockade (AP)

AP – Three out of four factories in Gaza have closed because they can’t import or export. Legitimate businesses have been replaced by a Hamas-controlled black market economy. Millions of gallons of sewage are pumped into the sea every day because a lack of spare parts holds up infrastructure repairs.*

Israeli document: Gaza blockade isn’t about security

JERUSALEM — As Israel ordered a slight easing of its blockade of the Gaza Strip Wednesday, McClatchy obtained an Israeli government document that describes the blockade not as a security measure but as “economic warfare” against the Islamist group Hamas, which rules the Palestinian territory.

INTERVIEW-Fayyad wants Gaza opened in line with 2005 deal

* Wants crossings opened in line with 2005 agreement

* Says opening Gaza crossings with help unify Palestinians

* Sees danger if sea blockade ends, but land borders sealed

Palestine/Gaza: The Siege

neverbeforecampaign — June 10, 2010 — The three year old siege on the Gaza Strip and its 1.5 million inhabitants is a testament to the Israeli regime’s disregard of law, decency and morality. This siege amounts to collective punishment, an action outlawed by various conventions and humanitarian laws. This is not to mention the suffering and humanitarian crisis caused by this law. This siege has been disgracefully condoned by the “international community” and justified by the “free world” as a measure that safegurads the security of the Israeli regime.  The same position was applied to the various humanitarian aid ships that were attacked and abuducted in international waters, and the aid carried by those ships confiscated. The killing of 9 Turkish activists on the the Freedom Flotilla on 1 June brought an abrupt end to international silence regarding the siege. It is unfortunate that the world needed to see the blood of those brave men to realize the brutality of the siege and of the besieger.  Nevertheless, it is our duty to finish what the brave men and women of the Freedom Flotilla and the campaigns that preceded it. It is time to brieak the siege.

Hamas rejects Israel-approved snack foods for Gaza

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip: The Hamas government said Thursday it will not let newly approved food items into the Gaza Strip as long as Israel maintains its blockade of the impoverished territory.Israel slightly eased the much-criticized blockade on Wednesday by permitting snacks, spices and some other previously banned food items into Gaza.

Gaza’s children appeal for normal decent lives

The children of Gaza have taken part in demonstrations seeking to break the siege on the tiny Strip. Bearing the flags of Arab States, the children made an appeal that they be allowed to live decent, happy, normal lives like other children across the globe.  The children also demanded that the world intervene in the dire situation in Gaza whereby even the most basic necessities of life such as sufficient food for them to eat, school stationary and various other goods are prohibited. They asked that the international community come together to bring an end to the continuous Israeli violations; to put pressure on them to open the border crossings and allow Gazans to travel abroad for the purposes of medical treatment, education and otherwise.

Hebron settlers: Don’t improve supply of electricity to Arabs

West Bank city’s Jews say installation of high-voltage line serving Palestinian section ‘absurd’ in light of PA boycott of Israeli products.,7340,L-3903479,00.html

Israel’s Arab Helpers
2 detained by Egypt en route to Sweden

Al-Arish – Ma’an – Egyptian authorities detained three Palestinians they said were attempting to sneak into Egypt via a smuggling tunnel on Wednesday night.  Security officials in Al-Arish said the boys were transferred to interrogations in Rafah, where two of the three told officials that they were en route to Sweeden for treatment, alongside the third, who was identified as a smuggling guide paid by the others to transfer them through.

Why is Egypt Killing Poor Africans for Israel?   African Immigrant Killed By Egyptian Border Police

Egyptian sources reported that an African immigrant was shot and killed on Friday morning by Egyptian Border Police fire as he was trying to infiltrate into Israel, another immigrant was detained at the border with Israel.

Political Developments
Quartet conditions on Hamas a thing of the past: Official

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Recognizing the international Quartet is no longer a requirement to break the siege on Gaza, Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Sha’ath told Ma’an on Wednesday.  The Palestinian leadership, “told the Americans frankly that the PLO is calling for” an end to the siege regardless of the Gaza government’s position on Israel or on resistance, Sha’ath said.

PA postpones local elections

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has indefinitely postponed local elections scheduled for July 17.  Sources in Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayad’s office confirmed the delay to Al Jazeera, but did not provide any explanation.  Fayad announced the elections in April. Hamas, the Islamic movement which controls Gaza, immediately vowed to boycott the preparations, saying the ballot would “lack credibility and integrity.”

Fatah divisions force delay of Palestinian vote

* Officials say divisions in Fatah behind postponement

* Agreeing nomination lists “too problematic” – official

Hamas: Elections delay not at our request

Gaza – Ma’an – The Palestinian Authority decision to delay municipal elections in the West Bank was “partisan and personal,” and aimed at circumventing what was a “national consensus,” a Hamas spokesman said Friday.  Speaking for the Gaza leadership, spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Ma’an that the decision to postpone the West Bank municipal vote was seen by Hamas as the result of “fierce internal disputes between the Fatah leaderships.”

Leftist PPP says postponing elections a mistake

Ramallah – Ma’an – Secretary-General of the Palestine People’s Party Bassam As-Salhi said he would refuse to recognize the cabinet decision to postpone indefinitely the local elections slated for July.  In a news conference at the Watan Media Center following the Thursday announcement, As-Salhi said he would demand that the elections be held, calling them a central part of the revitalization of democratic life in Palestine and a pillar in the maintenance of national heritage.

PFLP: Elections delay a blow to democracy

Ramallah – Ma’an – Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) candidate on the Ramallah leftist list Kahleda Jarar spoke on behalf of the party Friday, saying the front rejected the PA decision to postpone elections.

DFLP: Elections delay clear violation of law

Bethlehem/ Ramallah – Ma’an – Lining up with other leftist parties, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) called the decision to postpone West Bank municipal elections a clear violation of Palestinian law.


Fatah’s Amr calls vote postponement ‘grave failure’

Ramallah – Ma’an – The cabinet decision to postpone municipal elections represents “a grave failure,” Fatah official Nabil Amr told Ma’an on Friday, one day after the delay was announced.

Fida: PA call to delay vote unjustified

Ramallah – Ma’an – The Palestinian Democratic Union (Fida) called the delay of a municipal vote “unjustified,” in a statement released on Friday.  In what appeared to be a near-universal trend in the Palestinian political arena, Fida said there was no real justification for the PA decision to postpone “indefinitely” the municipal vote that had been scheduled for 17 July.

Abbas: We demand an end to Gaza siege; entire world stands with us

Palestinian President repeats acceptance of Jews’ claim to the land of Israel, citing the Koran.

Concept of two-state solution ‘beginning to erode’: Abbas (AFP)

AFP – Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said on Thursday he feared the concept of a two-state solution to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians “is beginning to erode.”*

Abbas impresses Jewish community leaders

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas can’t seem to unify the political factions within his own community, but there is one disparate group that he does have the ability to bring together: the American Jewish community.  Representatives from all sides of the pro-Israel NGO world all came together to meet with Abbas at a private dinner at the Newseum last night. The groups put aside their differences over Israeli tactics, U.S. pressure, treatment of Gazans, and treatment of the Israeli human rights community to show a united front to the Palestinian leader and get him to answer the questions on their mind.  Leaders of more hawkish groups like AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League, the Conference of Presidents, Mort Zuckerman, Elliott Abrams, and Dov Zakheim broke bread with the more dovish likes of J Street, Americans for Peace Now, and Hillel.

Other News
Israel, U.S. agree on nature of Gaza flotilla probe

Final decision held up for four days by the Americans, who were dissatisfied with the original proposal for the investigative committee’s composition.

Abbas says flotilla probe should not be left to Israel (AFP)

AFP – An investigation into a deadly May 31 Israeli raid on ships taking aid to the Gaza Strip should not be left to Israel, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Thursday.*

Israel cool to plan for EU checks at Gaza borders (AFP)

AFP – Israel is reluctant to grant European Union oversight of Gaza-bound ships in the wake of the Jewish state’s raid on an aid flotilla, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said.*

Report: Acting PM didn’t know of raid

Minister Moshe Ya’alon was unaware Navy raid of flotilla underway until after operation got out of hand. Earlier this week deputy minister criticizes incident, says ‘someone failed to prepare standard operating procedure’.,7340,L-3903486,00.html

Texas Senator Takes Action to Support Israel

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Tx) has proposed a resolution supporting Israel’s right to defend itself and condemning last week’s actions by the Turkish-sent six-ship flotilla that wanted to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza.

Anshel Pfeffer / Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu – an eloquent racist

In the early 1950s, the young Eliyahu was imprisoned for his membership in a group that collected arms and firebombs with the intention of imposing Torah law on the young state of Israel.

Muqata’s most wanted gets ‘closure’

Kamal Ghanem reads on Ynet he received full pardon after being targeted by Israel for years. Now, he is looking forward to future, hopes Israel ‘gives peace a real chance’.,7340,L-3903551,00.html

Palestine National Football Team In Bili’in

Bil’in – PNN – Israelis and international supporters joined on Friday the weekly nonviolent protest against the wall in the village of Bil’in, central West Bank.  Demonstrators in Bil’in today formed their own Palestine national football team, coinciding with the start of the World Cup, to highlight their right to be an independent nation.  Shortly after the midday prayers the players, together with dozens of other Palestinian, Israeli and international activists, marched to the gate of the wall at the edge of the village, where a goal was constructed and a game was begun. This gate separates the villages from their lands.

Advantage Hamas After Flotilla Fiasco, Mel Frykberg

RAMALLAH, Jun 10, 2010 (IPS) – Israel may allow soft drinks, juice, canned fruit, salads, biscuits and potato chips into the Gaza Strip from next week. What should be an unremarkable event is making news headlines and portends unseen consequences.

Silencing Gaza flotilla activists in the United States, Cecilie Surasky

The Israeli government, with the aid of its many proxies- especially in the

Jewish institutional world

, is working overtime after the Mavi Mavera massacre to paint the Gaza flotilla participants as terrorists.  Apparently–jamming satellite communications, absconding with tens of thousands of dollars of equipment, confiscating every photo and video they could find, and releasing pathetically

doctored “evidence”

(thank you Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal and others) is not enough. Now groups are working to keep flotilla human rights activists out of the country.

Israeli Gov. Promotes Glenn Beck’s Gaza Flotilla Screed, Max Blumenthal

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs — the diplomatic disaster area of Avigdor Lieberman — is promoting Glenn Beck’s

infamous episode

on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on its

“selected articles” page

. Apparently Israel’s department of hasbara does not realize that Beck is looked at by everyone but the most ardent members of the Tea Party movement as a conspiratorial, racist demagogue with no credibility.

Corrie and Dogan: Murdered, American Heroes, RANNIE AMIRI

In the past seven years, two Americans were unjustly, maliciously and violently killed by the Israel “Defense” Forces (IDF). Both had unwittingly given their lives for Gaza, and in the aftermath of their murders, their government forsook them.  Their names were oft-repeated—if not by follow citizens, then by citizens of the world—as Israel’s horrific assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla was discussed. These two young, brave individuals were Rachel Corrie and Furkan Dogan.

Israel’s Greatest Loss: Its Moral Imagination

If a people who so recently experienced such unspeakable inhumanities cannot understand the injustice and suffering its territorial ambitions are inflicting, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Joe Biden: In Israel’s Service, JEFFREY BLANKFORT

Israel appears to be in more serious trouble diplomatically than at any time in its history following the botched attack by an “elite” commando squad on the Mavi Marmara in the early morning hours of June 1 that left at least nine dead and scores wounded.  Thanks to Al-Jazeera and Iran’s PressTV, whose reporters were aboard the ship, much of the world was able to watch the attack unfold on its TV and computer screens and the result has been an avalanche of outrage and ongoing protests against the Jewish state.  Within Israel this has led to finger-pointing and calls for resignations while its hasbara machinery has gone rapidly into damage-control and disinformation mode.

Obama, the ADC and the Gaza Flotilla, JENNIFER LOEWENSTEIN

Imagine the media coverage that would have awaited us in our local and national newspapers, our radio, facebook, twitter and television news alerts and special bulletins had Iran or another ‘enemy’ nation killed –and in some cases executed – 9 or more Israeli or American Jewish peace activists aboard a Turkish vessel (and therefore a NATO partner). What if that vessel were leading a convoy of 700 unarmed activists aboard ships filled with humanitarian aid to a million and a half Jewish political prisoners held hostage by that nation on spurious and sinister claims of ‘national security’?

Rosie O’Donnell Defends Helen Thomas: “She Wasn’t Saying Go Back To The Ovens”

Rosie O’Donnell spent part of her radio broadcast yesterday defending the recent controversial comments made by Helen Thomas (which lead to her retirement.) The former talk show host (who has been called by some as “the next Oprah“) wondered how Thomas comments could be viewed as “hate speech,” then proceeded to interpret what Thomas really meant when she said that “Jews should go back to Germany.”

Uzi Dayan: Israel Must Announce Turkish Warships Casus Beli

Israel must send Turkey a clear message that if Turkish warships are sent to accompany the next flotilla trying to break the embargo on Gaza, these will be considered acts of war by Israel , Uzi Dayan, former deputy Chief of General Staff, told Army Radio Monday morning.

Israel dominates Turkey-Arab forum

Turkey’s prime minister has urged Arab nations to unite and step-up efforts to end Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip.  Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the appeal at a Turkey-Arab economic forum, currently being held in Istanbul.  He also repeated calls for an international investigation into the Israeli raid on Gaza-bound aid ships.

Turkey looks to create free trade zone with Arabs

ISTANBUL: Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Thursday that both Lebanon and Turkey are endeavoring to create an economic trade zone along with Syria and Jordan to allow people, goods and services to move freely and without charging tariffs and fees.

Arab nations applaud Turkey’s Erdogan for tough stand on Israel

ISTANBUL: Arab nations burst into applause Thursday as Turkey’s prime minister walked to the podium at a summit, reflecting Turkey’s meteoric rise on the world stage amid disputes over Israel’s blockade of Gaza and UN sanctions against Iran.

Israel, Turkey can rebuild ties: Mossad ex-chief (Reuters)

Reuters – It may take months of intense work but both Israel and Turkey have a vested interest in rebuilding ties after the Gaza flotilla assault, a former head of Israel’s foreign intelligence agency said on Thursday.*

Poll: 78 pct of Israelis view Turkey as enemy

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Some 78 percent of Jewish Israelis now view Turkey, once Israel’s only Muslim ally in the Middle East, as an enemy nation, according to a poll published on Thursday.The sharp switch in public attitude towards Turkey comes in the wake of a May 31 raid by Israeli commandos on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza.

Losing Turkey

In standing so firm alongside one ally the United States may risk another, writes Graham Usher in New York

Will Erdogan Blink?, FRANKLIN C. SPINNEY

A recent article by Patrick Cockburn, one of the ablest reporters covering the Middle East, provides an excellent character portrait of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan. It is certainly consistent with what little I have been able to learn about this fascinating politician. Regardless of what you may think of Erdogan, and he has many detractors (I am not one), he is certainly establishing himself as an influential world leader who must be reckoned with in an emerging multi-polar world.

Hypocrisy Reigns, WILLIAM BLUM

Things internationally are so dispiriting there’s nothing left to do but fantasize. I picture Turkey, as a member of NATO, demanding that the alliance come to its defense after being attacked by Israel. Under Article 5 of the NATO charter an armed attack on one member is deemed to constitute an armed attack on all members. That is the ostensible reason NATO is fighting in Afghanistan — the attack against the United States on September 11, 2001 is regarded as an attack on all NATO members (disregarding the awkward fact that Afghanistan as a country had nothing to do with the attack). The Israeli attack on a Turkish-flagged ship, operated by a Turkish humanitarian organization, killing nine Turkish nationals and wounding many more can certainly constitute an attack upon a NATO member.

Bombs kill 5, wound 24 in Iraq

BAGHDAD, June 11 (Xinhua) — Car bomb and roadside bomb explosions hit Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala and capital city of Baghdad Friday, killing 5 and wounding 24, a local police source said.   A suicide car bomber hit a Iraq and U.S. joint patrol team in Jalwlaa town, 90 km northeast of Baquba, the capital of Diyala province, killing 3 and wounding 15 others, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. Police and security forces quickly sealed off the blast site.

Thursday: 8 Iraqis Killed, 16 Wounded

At least eight Iraqis were killed and 16 more were wounded in the latest attacks. Meanwhile, 60 Iraqi asylum seekers were deported from Europe.

Car bomb in Baghdad kills 4 (Reuters)

Reuters – A car bomb exploded near an Iraqi army patrol Thursday in Baghdad, killing four people and wounding 10, an Interior Ministry source said.*

Maliki faces legal hurdle

About 20 of Iraq’s newly minted lawmakers including Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and key ministers may not be able to take their seats due to a legal hurdle.

Iraqi Shi’ite blocs announce merger (Reuters)

Reuters – Iraq’s two main Shi’ite electoral blocs said on Thursday they would unite under a new name, National Alliance, but they have yet to resolve their differences over their choice for prime minister.*

US military sees no sign of Iranian incursion in Iraqi north (AFP)

AFP – The US military said Thursday it had no evidence to substantiate a report that Iranian troops have been building a small fort on Iraqi territory since crossing the border in pursuit of Kurdish rebels.*

Inside Story: Iraqi refugees being sent home

Dozens of Iraqi refugees are being forced to go back home. The Netherlands, Britain, Norway and Sweden has rejected many asylum claims and what could be the first in a series of deportations took place on Wednesday. These countries argue that Iraq is now safe enough for those not facing specific threats to return. However, United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) disagrees. It says the situation in Iraq is still volatile.

Iraq: The Accidental Prisoner

An Iraqi’s tale of an odyssey through war zones, trying to reach the West but ending up in Guantanamo.

U.S. and Other World News
Iran criticises nuclear ‘monopoly’

Ahmadinejad’s remarks come on visit to Shanghai days after China backs UN sanctions.

Israeli Push for Sanctions Losing Legitimacy, Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler

JERUSALEM, Jun 10, 2010 (IPS) – Israel has given guarded approval to the new round of sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council in the international community’s bid to haul back Iran’s nuclear programme.

Afghan president ‘has lost faith in US ability to defeat Taliban’

Afghanistan’s former head of intelligence says President Hamid Karzai is increasingly looking to Pakistan to end insurgency.

Blast at Afghan wedding kills at least 40

An explosion at a wedding party just north of Kandahar, Afghanistan, killed at least 40 people and injured more than 70. Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, said the bombing was an attack against Islam and all of humanity. Karzai blamed the attack on the Taliban, who denied his claims. The victims, including 12 children, are the latest casualties of Afghanistan’s ongoing violence. Al Jazeera’s James Bays reports from Kabul.

US to close base near camp housing Iranian exiles (AP)

AP – The U.S. military says it will turn over a base near a compound housing an Iranian opposition group to Iraqi forces next month.*

Election breakthrough of far-right anti-Muslim party shocks Netherlands

THE HAGUE: The spectacular election breakthrough of the far-right anti-Muslim Party for Freedom shocked the Netherlands on Thursday as two mainstream parties braced for weeks of coalition haggling.  The pro-business Liberal VVD party had 31 seats and the Labor party (PvdA) 30, with 99.6 percent of the vote counted after Wednesday’s election.  However, far-right PVV leader Geert Wilders demanded a share of government after his party came third with 24 seats, more than doubling its current nine seats in the 150-member Parliament.

Corporate media’s message: Turkey is the new enemy

Posted: 11 Jun 2010

The Israeli raid on the Gaza flotilla that resulted in the deaths of eight Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American has led Israel and its supporters to argue that the Turkish government and a prominent Turkish humanitarian organization are “terrorist” sympathizers with ill intentions toward Israel and the United States. In a series of articles, the U.S. corporate press has joined in.

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that IHH, the Turkish aid group involved with the flotilla that attempted to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, has a “dual message of aid and confrontation.” Their evidence for the confrontational attitude of IHH? A banner on the side of their building that reads, “Israel, murderers, hands off our boats!” Don’t pay attention to the fact that IHH was attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, and that it was Israel that confronted and killed people on the ship.

The Post goes on to report claims that IHH has links to Al-Qaeda, citing a 2006 report by “U.S. terrorism investigator” Evan Kohlmann. But two paragraphs down, the Post quotes a “think tank with ties to Israel’s Defense Ministry, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center,” that states there is “no known evidence of current links between IHH and ‘global jihad elements.'”

What’s not mentioned in the Post article is that no government besides Israel considers IHH a terrorist organization. In fact, IHH delivered humanitarian aid to Haiti in the aftermath of the January earthquake at a time when the United States military took a leading role in directing relief efforts there. Would the U.S. have allowed a terrorist organization into Haiti? IHH has also helped out in New Orleans.

Marsha B. Cohen, an expert on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, has already debunked IHH’s “terror ties” here at Mondoweiss and cast doubt on the credentials of Evan Kohlmann, pointing to a article on Kohlmann that thoroughly details his lack of expertise. Andy Worthington, author of The Guantanamo Files, noted that Kohlmann assisted in the prosecution of Osama bin Laden’s former driver by producing a film that was “pure propaganda,” raking in $45,000 for the film and his testimony as an “expert witness” in the much criticized trial.

But be scared! According to the Post:

In the group’s two-story headquarters, IHH members — mostly men in their 30s and 40s dressed in jeans or casual business attire — oversee operations in dozens of countries. The group provides humanitarian aid such as freshwater wells and medical care, as well as Islamic services such as training for prayer leaders. A world map on one wall depicted Palestine, but not Israel.

This article originally appeared at the national media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting’s blog.

Gaza flotilla lesson: nonviolent discipline is the best moral and strategic choice

Posted: 11 Jun 2010

Prof. Michael N. Nagler, founder of UC Berkeley’s Peace and Conflict Studies program and the Metta Center for Nonviolence Education (also, one of my mentors), shares a compelling perspective on the need to maintain strict discipline in a nonviolent direct action such as the Gaza Freedom Flotilla:

…Under normal circumstances even the “smallest” acts of violence can ruin the character of nonviolent action…

It is still hard to say exactly what happened when passengers aboard the Turkish vessel, the MV Mavi Marmara, clashed with Israeli commandos as they rappelled onto the boat from helicopters. Had the soldiers been firing live ammunition? The point is that even if they were – while terribly difficult – the passengers could have resisted nonviolently by refusing to comply with the soldiers’ demands without making any attempt to injure them.

Up until the recent attack it looked as though the flotilla, with its 600 passengers and many tons of humanitarian supplies for the beleaguered citizens of Gaza, was a perfect example of nonviolent action. Organisers’ intentions were advertised well in advance and it put the Israelis in the difficult position of deciding between two unfavourable choices…

However, as Gandhi often said, nonviolence requires, if anything, more training than violence.

Time and again, history has shown that a campaign of nonviolence is much more likely to succeed in accomplishing its stated objectives if the activists maintain nonviolent discipline. Numerous historical examples include the Philippines People Power Movement, Serbia’s OTPOR! overthrow of Milošević, and dozens of others. On the other hand, the Seattle WTO protests demonstrate what happens when violence mixes with nonviolence. A small handful of Black Bloc anarchists smashed up windows and did the anti-corporate globalization movement no favors by distracting the press and confusing the issue.

On a deeper level, the true power of nonviolence to persuade the oppressor is unleashed with a commitment to pursue acts of courageous love (not just “not being violent”). For example, the Civil Rights Movement activists who sat in at the lunch counters, rode the buses, and registered voters never backed down, and nonviolently resisted the oppressors without demonization or rancor, but with a desire to win over those afflicted with racist views.

Remember George Wallace, the famous Alabama Governor who declared “Segregation now, segregation forever,” and subsequently apologized prior to his death? If we want the Zionists who currently enable the policy of occupation to some day see the light, I believe we will only win them over with true nonviolence.

Yes, it would have been hard to maintain nonviolent discipline in the face of an assault like the one on the Mavi Marmara. But were those activists truly prepared? Had they undergone nonviolent training? Was there a consensus and commitment to nonviolence? Apparently not.

Consider as historical precedent the 1930 Indian raid on the Dharasana salt works, the climactic moment in Gandhi’s movement to free India from British colonial rule:

On May 21, 1930, over 2,500 Indians “raided” the Dharasana salt works, a salt production facility controlled by the British regime. Column after column of Indians advanced toward the gates and were severely beaten by the native police under British direction. Not one of the Satyagrahis raised a hand to defend himself as the clubs rained down, fracturing skulls. Many lost consciousness, and several perished. In the Gandhi movie, the scene was famously encapsulated by a Western reporter: “Whatever moral ascendancy the West once held was lost here today.” The Indians accepted this suffering on behalf of the Truth they clung to of ending colonial rule.

While the Salt Satyagraha did not “succeed” in its short-term, situational objective – the salt laws were not repealed – it worked on a deeper level. British public opinion was deeply affected by the Dharasana nonviolent moment, which shockingly revealed the violence inherent in the British colonial system. Ultimately, this led to India’s independence in 1947.

In that incident, the strict nonviolent discipline of the raiders helped to move the hearts of the reference public and the British supporters of colonialism. No, I’m not claiming that discipline is easy, but I am claiming there are numerous historical examples that prove it is possible, and far more effective in advancing the goals of the campaign (as well as being the principled, moral path).

Before publication of this post, Phil Weiss asked me, “I wonder how much of this is because of Israeli violence; they want a violent outcome. And the conditions are far worse than what the Civil Rights Movement faced (and what if Turks didn’t subscribe to nonviolence?).”

Two problems with this argument. One, the resisters’ actions are not dictated by the oppressors’ actions – the resisters can choose to maintain nonviolent discipline if they are properly prepared for it and committed. Two, resisters have maintained effective nonviolent discipline against oppressors who were far more ruthless than the Israeli commandos – see Ralph Summy’s article, “Nonviolence and the case of the extremely ruthless oppressor.”

In a recent email, Paul Larudee, cofounder of the Free Gaza Movement, noted that while he and many other Freedom Flotilla passengers were committed to nonviolence, many of the Turkish passengers who fought (and were wounded, and killed) were not committed to nonviolence. My argument — recognizing that this is Monday-morning armchair Quarterbacking — is future Flotillas should require a consistent commitment to nonviolence among all passengers. Gandhi and King required this commitment, and it’s quite possible for international activist organizers to make this part of the pre-flight checklist before launching such an action.

My broader theme is we should have two main goals on the path toward Israeli/Palestinian equality: 1) shift the international political consensus, esp. the U.S. position, from enabling to obstructing Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians, and 2) shift hearts and minds of Israelis (as well as Palestinians, as necessary) to support genuine equality.

The Gaza Flotilla apparently did a fantastic job with goal #1, and apparently has utterly backfired with #2. We cannot and must not operate as if Israeli public opinion is irrelevant; to do so is both a strategic and moral blunder. There’s a reason that so many Israelis demonstrated in support of the IDF’s actions, and I think the violence of the resisters was a huge part of it. Notice how the violent resistance was looped in Caroline Glick’s video — however offensive the video may have been, it underscored the Israeli hasbara about “violent activists”. And while there’s no doubt Israeli propaganda distorts reality quite often, in this case, it appears there’s some truth. When you build propaganda around some kernel of truth, it’s a lot easier to get people to swallow the whole of it then when it’s entirely fabricated.

By the way, shifting views of American Jews is also key, and wouldn’t the case be even easier to make and more powerful right now without the confusion of what the flotilla passengers did or didn’t do when they were boarded?

During my travels in Israel, I found many of the Israeli Jews I interviewed to be intensely scared to their deepest core, behind all of the bluster and tough talk about not giving an inch to the Arabs. We must remember: understandable, justifiable fear of anti-Jewish oppression was the most powerful motivating factor for the project of political Zionism from its inception 130 years ago, and I argue that fear still is the primary motivating factor whether it’s justified fear or not. We must design our activism campaigns to both end the oppression of the Palestinians AND help Israelis to feel less scared and more recognized for their humanity. The most powerful path, and I’d argue the only path, to achieve this is true nonviolence in the tradition of Gandhi and King.

Finally, I hope no one (especially the Gaza Flotilla veterans) hears this as taking away from the very real gains coming in the wake of the action. Put another way: look at how much we accomplished with the mixed message of some nonviolence and some violence, how much more could we accomplish with a consistent and disciplined commitment to nonviolence? If history is any guide, the answer is clear… much more.

Siegman: Moral issue posed by flotilla resisters is same as Jews resisting Nazis

Posted: 11 Jun 2010

The great Henry Siegman, in Haaretz, not in the U.S., you can be sure, dares to say what crosses any intelligent person’s mind when he/she witnesses the treatment of the Palestinians, Israel is writing the history of Jews in Europe on the Palestinians’ bodies. And yes this means the outcry of the world at the treatment of the people of Gaza (who are experiencing their own kind of Warsaw ghetto):

Of course, even the most objectionable Israeli policies do not begin to compare with Hitler’s Germany. But the essential moral issues are the same. How would Jews have reacted to their tormentors had they been consigned to the kind of existence Israel has imposed on Gaza’s population? Would they not have seen human rights activists prepared to risk their lives to call their plight to the world’s attention as heroic, even if they had beaten up commandos trying to prevent their effort? Did Jews admire British commandos who boarded and diverted ships carrying illegal Jewish immigrants to Palestine in the aftermath of World War II, as most Israelis now admire Israel’s naval commandos?

Who would have believed that an Israeli government and its Jewish citizens would seek to demonize and shut down Israeli human rights organizations for their lack of “patriotism,” and dismiss fellow Jews who criticized the assault on the Gaza Flotilla as “Arabs,” pregnant with all the hateful connotations that word has acquired in Israel, not unlike Germans who branded fellow citizens who spoke up for Jews as “Juden”? The German White Rose activists, mostly students from the University of Munich, who dared to condemn the German persecution of the Jews (well before the concentration camp exterminations began) were also considered “traitors” by their fellow Germans, who did not mourn the beheading of these activists by the Gestapo.

So, yes, there is reason for Israelis, and for Jews generally, to think long and hard about the dark Hitler era at this particular time. For the significance of the Gaza Flotilla incident lies not in the questions raised about violations of international law on the high seas, or even about “who assaulted who” first on the Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, but in the larger questions raised about our common human condition by Israel’s occupation policies and its devastation of Gaza’s civilian population.

If a people who so recently experienced on its own flesh such unspeakable inhumanities cannot muster the moral imagination to understand the injustice and suffering its territorial ambitions—and even its legitimate security concerns—are inflicting on another people, what hope is there for the rest of us?

‘NYT’ quickly closes the blinds

Posted: 11 Jun 2010

7 letters to the Times on Tony Judt’s op-ed:  6 highly critical, and for balance, one pleading (a la Rodney King) that we all get along.

‘J Street’ rabbi in Madison suggests that flotilla members were terrorists

Posted: 11 Jun 2010

Bonnie Margulis, a rabbi in Wisconsin, is on J Street’s rabbinic “cabinet.” Well here she  attacks John Nichols for writing that the people on the flotilla were humanitarian activists.

[Dennis] Kucinich mischaracterizes the people on the flotilla as being humanitarian activists, when, in reality, their sponsoring organization in Turkey is supported by Hamas, which the United States recognizes as a terrorist organization.

The fact that five out of the six ships that Israel commandeered surrendered peacefully shows that Israel’s intentions were to interdict and direct the ships to safe Israeli ports. Using knives, pipes and sticks, the sixth boat’s passengers attacked the soldiers who were attempting peacefully to commandeer the boat. They were not the “innocent civilians” that Kucinich calls them.

Here is Nichols piece. The back-and-forth is in Cap Times, a progressive paper in Madison. This is what has happened to many progressive Zionists, they are being dragged by their identification with a militant state into insensitivity and nuttiness.

Look at Lawrence of Cyberia’s pictures of the men killed. Five of them are over 40 years old. The average age is 38. None is in his 20s– the bold age, the soldier’s age. I can imagine these men resisting angrily–but plotting terror, this is crazy. Steve Walt echoed Peter Beinart a week or so back and said, OK where is the line for you progressive Zionists? What won’t you defend? (Thanks to Steve Horn, young, progressive, Jewish…)

Israel brings peace to the Middle East

Posted: 11 Jun 2010

Turkey and two Arab states agree to bury the hatchet and talk about equitably sharing that most precious resource (water).

Video shows FBI visit to the home of a Palestine solidarity activist

Posted: 11 Jun 2010

This was sent to us by the woman in the video who wishes to remain anonymous. All she wanted to add is that she only attends protests dealing with Israel/Palestine, so there is no doubt that this was related to those protests, and that the FBI refused to tell her who had called in her name. She feels this is an attempt to intimidate or silence the growing Palestine solidarity movement in Austin, TX.


Posted in Uncategorized2 Comments



Nader: ‘Anti-semitism against Arabs is rife’ in U.S.

Posted: 12 Jun 2010 11:10 AM PDT

Washington Post poll says that 91 percent of people are opposed to Helen Thomas’s removal. Talk about the American street. And here is Ralph Nader on the Thomas resignation. Calls it a “professional execution.” More:

She’s a courageous journalist… blazed the way for women like no one did…. She set the standard for journalists, asking the tough questions… [to Bush] “Why did you invade Iraq?”

She also asked questions about the Israeli-Palestinian situation…

Do you know how many people [in Washington]… privately… say bad things about Arabs? Antisemitism against Arabs is rife in politics today… Ann Coulter… said horrific things about going over there and slaughtering Muslims….

More: the open-air prison that is Gaza, the USS Liberty too and the rubberstamping by the US of the Israeli investigation. Israeli nukes? Reporters are afraid to ask about them. 

I like Nader’s freshness about ethnic identification. “She’s of Arab origin for heaven’s sake,” says Nader, who is himself of Arab origin. Put the shoe on the other foot, he says: Imagine a a massive Arab power was pummeling the Jews. What do you think Jewish-American reporters would do, he asks: they’d say a lot more than Helen Thomas…

US position on flotilla is compromised by its love of drones

Posted: 12 Jun 2010

I wonder if this is an Aquino moment for Israel. In 1983, Filipino strongman Ferdinand Marcos ordered opposition leader Nino Aquino dragged from the plane and executed upon his return from exile. It was illustrative of how Marcos, forever coddled by his U.S. protectors, was so insulated from any meaningful rebuke that he thought he could eliminate a political foe in broad daylight with impunity. It was caught on film and was the end of his regime.

There is also the resemblance to the French intelligence bombing of the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior in 1985. Again, a ruthless attack by a mighty military upon a defenseless activist group, killing one. And like the Rainbow Warrior’s mission, last week’s flotilla was arguably provocative — for all the best reasons — but nevertheless provocative.

The deaths visited upon the flotilla deserve all the outrage pouring forth from the international community. Still, I became uneasy with the intense focus on Israel’s wrongdoing. Granted, this blog’s focus is on the complications and contradictions inherent in the Zionist endeavor, but I’ve watched with increasing horror how my own government — via an essentially autonomous CIA — uses drones to selectively kill perceived threats in lands far away.

How can the U.S. operate as a moral arbiter in the flotilla affair? Warfare by drone brings a detached cold-bloodedness that ups the ante of the term “war is hell” (even its name is evocative of an empty, unfeeling killing machine). Someone with skills developed on video games can annihilate a family in Afghanistan with a squeeze of a trigger. (And let’s be honest, when it came to 9-11, the Taliban were at best bit players.) Yet we kill people in their homes based upon suspicions and God knows what quality of intelligence.

A U.N. Human Rights report released last week cries out against the Pandora’s box opened up by extra-judicial execution by drone, especially once the technology inevitably proliferates to other countries.

For, as the report’s author said to the New York Times, “If invoked by other states, in pursuit of those they deem to be terrorists and to have attacked them, it would cause chaos.” 

But an unnamed U.S. “official,” not surprisingly, tells the Times we’ll do whatever the hell we want, thank you very much: “The United States has an inherent right to protect itself and will not refrain from doing so based on someone else’s exceptionally narrow — if not faulty — definition of self-defense.”

“Wired” reported that drones have killed hundreds of innocents in Pakistan and Afghanistan. But, as Peter Singer of the Brookings Institute points out, they have also killed 20 “high value” terrorist targets. The U.S. military has 7,000 such drones, and the Dept. of Homeland Security has some too. When asked on NPR whether he supported the use of drones, Singer said essentially it depended upon how they were used.

Well, you could say that about most any weapon.

The U.S. at one time denounced targeted assassinations carried out by Israel; now it’s clear the U.S. has adopted the policy.

Some argue that drones are preferable to the carnage of carpet-bombing. Perhaps so. During WWII Orwell wrote of the contradictions in a society that will go to great lengths to punish murder of an innocent individual, yet will condone and rationalize wholesale aerial bombings of civilian centers. He described feeling a kind of interplanetary existential disorientation — as if earthlings were not quite the intelligent, caring humans they make themselves out to be.

The late Nuremberg prosecutor Henry King told me it was worth heeding war criminal Albert Speer’s warning that mankind’s moral compass was not keeping pace with its technical ability to create ever more lethal, insidious weaponry. It could be argued that the farther away our technology separates us from the carnage we cause, we are that much more detached from our humanity. Still, a few old-fashioned kicks to the face before a coup de grace through the skull don’t seem all that humane either.

So, do we celebrate a cold-hearted brave new world of less collateral damage? Or does mankind’s eternal vigil, awaiting the elusive morality upgrade, go on as ever before? True, the numbers are smaller, which could count as progress. Unless one of those few belong to you.

The following was written in memory of a teenager killed by a “stray bullet” in Gaza, but can stand for any innocent senselessly cut down.

For Mohammed Zeid of Gaza, Age 15

By Naomi Shihab Nye

There is no stray bullet, sirs.

No bullet like a worried cat
crouching under a bush,
no half-hairless puppy bullet
dodging midnight streets.
The bullet could not be a pecan
plunking the tin roof,
not hardly, no fluff of pollen
on October’s breath,
no humble pebble at our feet.

So don’t gentle it, please.

We live among stray thoughts,
tasks abandoned midstream.
Our fickle hearts are fat
with stray devotions, we feel at home
among bits and pieces,
all the wandering ways of words.

But this bullet had no innocence, did not
wish anyone well, you can’t tell us otherwise
by naming it mildly, this bullet was never the friend
of life, should not be granted immunity
by soft saying—friendly fire, straying death-eye,
why have we given the wrong weight to what we do?

Mohammed, Mohammed, deserves the truth.
This bullet had no secret happy hopes,
it was not singing to itself with eyes closed
under the bridge.

Solidarity with Palestinians, yes– but why not solidarity with Jews?

Posted: 12 Jun 2010

I’m struck by the hysterical tone of Hirsh Goodman’s piece saying that Israel must go to war against critical information. You’d think Goodman has some worldliness. He grew up in South Africa, was a reporter for many years, and is married to the New York Times correspondent. Yet he defends the murderous flotilla raid and the slaughter of Gaza in 08-09 and is angry that Israel is not getting its message out to maintain its image in the world, and its lifeline of international support. 

The obvious response to Goodman is that this battle is lost. The world is tired of Israel shaping the news, the world is tired of miraculous battles with “terrorists” in which nine non-Jews are killed and all the Israelis survive, and the dispossession doesn’t stop. Even in the U.S. public opinion is now in play. Every day in the West Bank, Jewish colonists run over Palestinians on the Jews-only roads or Israeli soldiers shoot young Palestinians or evict them from their homes. That’s what the world is focused on.

Still: Goodman feels the walls closing in. Almost all Israelis seem to feel the same way. 

I spend a lot of my day doing Palestinian solidarity, trying to put myself in another people’s shoes. So what about solidarity with the Israelis? At a time when many people are clearly demonizing Israel (other states do bad stuff too; I was in Egypt last year, oppressive), why am I not on the side of the people I grew up calling my own, the Jews, and with them the Israelis, so many of them similar culturally to me? 

This is a genuine challenge, morally, spiritually, politically.

I first heard it a year ago in Gaza. A psychotherapist said to my group, Please, please put yourself in the minds of the Israelis, you who are their friends. We are imprisoned but they are not free. They are gripped by fear; how else can you explain their wanton destruction of our society. Something must be done for these people– and the therapist was calling on us to reach out to them and try and heal them.  

The therapist felt, as I feel, that only greater bloodshed is likely to result until the Israelis overcome a psychosis. As Matthew Taylor wrote,

During my travels in Israel, I found many of the Israeli Jews I interviewed to be intensely scared to their deepest core, behind all of the bluster and tough talk about not giving an inch to the Arabs. We must remember: understandable, justifiable fear of anti-Jewish oppression was the most powerful motivating factor for the project of political Zionism from its inception 130 years ago, and I argue that fear still is the primary motivating factor whether it’s justified fear or not

In a word, Hirsh Goodman.

The reason I do Palestinian solidarity is that there is no question about who is suffering and who isn’t in Israel and Palestine. It is a grotesquely unjust situation with respect to human and civil rights, reminiscent of American slavery in the unfairness and the benediction granted the unfairness in Washington. Back then, I would have been a writer for an abolitionist newspaper; I’m proud to be doing this work.

As a Jew, I believe the only way to save my fellows from the despair of what Israel has become is not to justify Israel’s actions, it is for American Jews to reclaim their tradition of liberalism and fight the Israel lobby in this country and convey their social/political understanding to the Israelis.

I use the word psychosis because Israeli society is conditioned by the Holocaust and the 6 million and the belief that Jews can trust no one else. As Norman Mailer said, Hitler’s bitterest achievement was reducing Jews to the concern, Is it good for the Jews?

But not Mailer. And this is the sad truth about Zionism: it distilled distrust. Its nationalistic appeal sorted out Jews who were fearful about antisemitism from those who were not. It sorted out those who believe that Jews must look out for Jews from those who favor integration in western societies. It sorted out the ethnocentric, Is-it-good-for-the-Jews types, from Jews who think it’s OK to marry non-Jews. And in that division, the fearful took power.

They moved to Israel or manned the barricades of the Israel lobby, and the integrators married non-Jews or wrote books about jazz and checked out. The fearful were granted power by the rest of the community. It is no coincidence that Leon Wieseltier, one of the stalwarts of the Israel lobby in this country, is someone who has at times embraced paranoia (I think he called it anxiety) and was a member of the Jewish Defense League when he was in high school.

Richard Perle and David Frum (“victory or Holocaust”, sending us to Iraq) are probably just as bad. Jeffrey Goldberg concluded as a young man studying the Holocaust and the American response that the diaspora was the “disease” and Israel was the cure, and so he moved to Israel and served in a prison that oppresses Palestinians. All these men think that Jews must rely on themselves. And with that understanding, they are isolating the Jews of Israel from the world.

So I accept the charge. I am part of the Jewish community, and feel solidarity with the Jews of Israel. And the best thing I can do for them now is to convey to them firmly but kindly, this is not the way to deal with other people, and many, many Jews have reached that understanding. You are isolating yourselves from the world, it is time to listen. Please.

We need Roger Cohen to stand up for his opposition to nationalist myth-formation

Posted: 12 Jun 2010

The other day the New York Times went out of its way to bash Shlomo Sand for his book, The Invention of the Jewish People. The Times reported on new genetic studies suggesting a close DNA relation among Jews of the world and hastened to add:

They refute the suggestion made last year by the historian Shlomo Sand in his book “The Invention of the Jewish People” that Jews have no common origin but are a miscellany of people in Europe and Central Asia who converted to Judaism at various times.

This potshot deserves a strong response.

First, Sand’s book is not chiefly about genetics; genetics make up about 7 pages. He’s not a geneticist, he’s a historian, and his purpose in the book was to trace the rise of Jewish nationalism, and of a Jewish story about a common origin going back 3000 years (in Netanyahu’s view) so as to justify Israel’s Zionist project. The brilliance of the book (and it truly is that) is its exploration of the rise of nationalist ideology in the 19th century and the ways that proto-Zionist historians shaped their view of the Bible to serve a nationalistic quest.

Sand relates genetic explorations to 1850s studies of race that served nationalism in Europe and observes:

Israel’s rule since 1967 over a growing non-Jewish population intensified the urge to find an enclosing ethnobiological boundary.

Wow. That’s Sand’s method– the rapier thrust.

Now Sand may be wrong about his debunking of the genetic studies, I don’t know and don’t really care. As I say, it’s 7 pages in the book. Genetics is not destiny in any case. And this is where I urgently call on Roger Cohen to get engaged in this conversation– a conversation about the historical/religious myths that are created to justify nationalistic and racist separation.

Why Roger Cohen? I met him a month back in Qatar. He’s truly a worldly person who treats other groups than his own as equals. I read that his heart was broken by the partition of the former Yugoslavia; and you can see that passion in his great Iranian reporting of a year ago, and in his book on Yugoslavia, Hearts Grown Brutal: Sagas of Sarajevo.

In that book, Cohen landed on the myths that nationalists produced to justify projects of ethnic cleansing and supremacy. Milosevic, he said, postulated something that “had never existed” in order to justify Serbian crimes against Muslims– a “Serbian state stretching from Belgrade to Knin [in Croatia]” and going back 600 years. And listen to his passion against nationalism:

The unscrambling of centuries of miscegenation in Europe in the name of relatively new ideas–that of the “nation-state” and its perversion, the “nation-as-tribe”–reached a paroxysm during the twentieth century. Hitler and Stalin moved or annihilated millions in the name of racist ideology or social engineering.

More than one million Greeks were “resettled” from Turkey during the 1920s; six million Jews were slaughtered by the Nazi’s; more than three million ethnic Germans from Central Europe and the Soviet Union were “resettled”in the aftermath of World War II.

Violence, the very heart of fascist ideologies in which differences of class and background were subsumed, grew in proportion to the often tenuous reality of the national idea. As Hans Magnus Enzensberger has observed, “The Aryan was never anything more than a risible construct,” a form of “compensation” for the mixed blood of the German and Austrian peoples.

Similarly, in the Balkans, the post-communist “construct” of the Serbian, Croatian, and finally Bosnian Muslim nations had to be imbued with a compensatory fervor that masked the reality of mingling expressed in the idea of Yugoslavia.

This fervor of the resurgent nation–built as much around legend as historical fact–in turn produced bloodshed not seen in Europe since 1945.

Wonderful, huh?

We are facing great bloodshed in the Middle East unless Jews begin to examine the legends and historical constructs that have justified the landgrab project that Israel licensed in the name of the Jews who were in Jerusalem 3000 years ago, per Netanyahu, and inventing hummus. Shlomo Sand has repeatedly been knocked in the Times, but he is offering a door to Jews and Israelis to examine our presence in the world in non-nationalistic terms, but as a religious civilization. Cohen should be engaged in this struggle.

Because he shares Sand’s universalistic beliefs and knows the danger of social ideologies that mask the “reality of mingling.” 

(Oh and by the way: yes, Yugoslavia underwent partition– and there was also a robust right of return for refugees, guaranteed.)

Recasting the Gaza blockade as a humanitarian project

Posted: 11 Jun 2010

Israel’s efforts to control the narrative of the flotilla raid that left at least nine dead and dozens wounded have come under increasing scrutiny, with more and more contradictory evidence coming to light. Less attention has been focused on Israel’s equally ambitious campaign to recast the nature of the blockade itself.

Anyone paying even slight attention over the past few years knows that Israel implemented the policy to deprive a million and a half civilians of adequate supplies of the necessities of life, such as food, water, medicine, cooking fuel, clothing, even children’s toys. The Israelis have been allowing in enough goods that they calculate are necessary to keep people from dying of starvation. The Israelis consider anything in excess to be “luxuries” that must be kept from the Gazans until they overthrow Hamas, recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State, free Gilad Shalit, or whatever is the cause du jour.

Since the object of the siege was to compel a change of leadership, it had to be rigorous enough to cause severe pain to a large majority of the civilian population; mere inconvenience or annoyance would not do. Gazans had to experience real hardship and struggle for the Israeli policy to have even a remote chance of success. (It recalls Ariel Sharon’s phrase “moderate physical pressure” used to describe garden-variety torture, as if “moderate” suffering could persuade unwilling victims to reveal secrets.)

For years, Israel made no secret of its motives. Dov Weissglas, top aide to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, famously said: “It’s like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won’t die.” In February, 2009, Senator John Kerry learned that many truckloads of pasta were denied entry because only rice, not pasta, fit the Israeli definition of humanitarian aid. Apparently, the Israelis were at least temporarily shamed into reversing this position.

As recently as March, 2010, it was announced that Israel would allow in the first shipment of clothes and shoes in more than two years.

All that has changed, however, in recent weeks, as Israel and its supporters began to recast the siege as designed to prevent the importation of weapons to be used against Israeli civilians. Of course, Israel always had a policy of interdicting such arms importations. Had it merely continued that policy, there would have been virtually no controversy and no attempts to break the siege. Inspect the pasta truck and let it through.

The true (and undisputed) nature of Israel’s cruelty toward Gaza presented a potential public relations nightmare for Israel.

With unprecedented world attention drawn to the flotilla even before the lethal attack on its passengers, Israel naturally preferred to defend its position by creating an alternative reality. Rather than continue to admit that it was defending its “right” to keep purely civilian goods out of Gaza, the blockade was misrepresented as the only means to prevent the bad guys from importing weapons to be used against Israeli citizens.

Look how prominent Israelis and their supporters have changed the discourse. From the chief himself: “Mr. Netanyahu argues that the naval blockade is essential to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza by Hamas, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction. But, he said Sunday: ‘We have no desire to make things difficult for the civilian population in Gaza. We would like for goods that are neither war matériel nor contraband to enter Gaza.’” This from the head of the government that has openly “desired to make things difficult for the civilian population in Gaza” by preventing the entry of “goods that are neither war matériel nor contraband.”

For sheer chutzpah, this is hard to beat. But that hasn’t stopped others from trying.

On June 3, the New York Times published two op-eds on the flotilla covering the gamut of opinion from A to B. Ambassador Michael Oren, who has expertly assumed the job requirement of designated liar, wrote: “There is little doubt as to the real purpose of the Mavi Marmara’s voyage — not to deliver humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, but to create a provocation that would put international pressure on Israel to drop the Gaza embargo, and thus allow the flow of seaborne military supplies to Hamas. Just as Hamas gunmen hide behind civilians in Gaza, so, too, do their sponsors cower behind shipments of seemingly innocent aid.” 

And Daniel Gordis of Israel’s Shalem Center, chimed in: “Life in Gaza is unquestionably oppressive; no one in his right mind would choose to live there. But there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza; if anyone goes without food, shelter or medicine, that is by the choice of the Hamas government, which puts garnering international sympathy above taking care of its citizens. Israel has readily agreed to send into Gaza all the food and humanitarian supplies on the boats after they had been inspected for weapons.”

Then there is the comment submitted by the comically named Anti-Defamation League in response to a Huffington Post article by Josh Ruebner that compared Leon Klinghoffer to Furkan Dogan, the 19-year old Turkish-American killed on the flotilla. The ADL defamed Dogan as a terrorist, and added the following: “Israel is blockading Gaza because Hamas seeks weapons to attack Israel to fulfill its stated goal to eliminate the Jewish state. Israel stops weapons from going into Gaza; it allows basic necessities to go through after inspection. There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

Of course, one can always rely on the creativity of Alan Dershowitz to present the most imaginatively dishonest version of the events: “Israel responded to the rockets by declaring a blockade, the purpose of which was to assure that no rockets, or other material that could be used for making war against Israeli civilians, was permitted into Gaza. Israel allowed humanitarian aid through its checkpoints. Egypt as well participated in the blockade. There was never a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, merely a shortage of certain goods that would end if the rocket attacks ended.”

Wait a minute, Alan. If the purpose of the blockade was to assure that no offensive military material entered Gaza, how did that result in a shortage of certain (civilian) goods?

Which brings us to the curious use of the word “humanitarian.” In Israeli parlance, the meager scraps allowed the Gazans, theoretically enough to sustain life, are described as “humanitarian aid,” thereby allowing the Israelis to impose collective punishment on a civilian population yet still perversely claim the mantle of being “humanitarian.” If Gazans are not actually dying of starvation, and show no signs of extended bellies, there is no “humanitarian crisis” because Israel has ensured that “humanitarian supplies” enter the area.

The Israeli siege of Gaza, which has at times prevented toys, clothing, and pasta from importation, has become a “humanitarian” effort to provide necessities to a people victimized by their own oppressive rulers, who would prefer that they starve to embarrass the Israelis as a means for acquiring weapons.

“Humanitarian” has become confused with “human experimentation,” which is precisely what the Israelis have been conducting in a grotesque effort to determine just how many calories are needed to keep a population alive.

Did this public relations effort really fool anyone?

Of course. Those who want to be fooled. Those who believed Israeli claims in December 2008 that an aid ship had deliberately rammed Israel’s naval vessel rather than the other way around. Those who believe that Israel has the right to sadistically deprive Gaza civilians of everyday goods, while screaming about Elvis Costello cancelling his Israel gig and other monstrous deprivations resulting from the BDS movement.

How does one make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? I have no idea, but if you are interested, I suggest you contact the Israeli public relations machine. Piece of cake for them.

Gaza activists in prison stripes try to give themselves up to Congressman Brad Sherman

Posted: 11 Jun 2010

A bunch of Gaza activists descended on California congressman Brad Sherman’s office to protest his statement that Americans who go to Gaza should be prosecuted for aiding terrorists. Medea Benjamin is there wearing prison stripes, Ann Wright of Code Pink too (there’s the blonde colonel, at center in the still above, holding a photograph of Furkan Dogan, the 19-year-old American killed by the Israeli commandos) and Tighe Barry, who built a jungle gym in Gaza a year ago. “Guilty of Aiding Gaza,” his placard reads. He’s in prison stripes, too.

These ‘Times’ demand Robert Mackey

Posted: 11 Jun 2010

The New York Times has become notorious for its thoroughly pro-Israel reporting on Israel/Palestine. So it was somewhat of a shock to read recent entries on the Times’ “Lede” blog, authored by Robert Mackey, and see actual reporting and blogging that doesn’t take Israeli claims at face-value in the aftermath of the Israeli raid on the flotilla.

Mackey’s most recent post highlighted filmmaker Iara Lee’s unedited video from aboard the flotilla. He posted the full one-hour clip on the blog.

In an earlier posting, Mackey’s headline read, “Turkish Doctor Describes Treating Israeli Commandos During Raid,” highlighting two photos that show just that, therefore undermining the Israeli claim that they were met by a “lynch” mob intent on killing the commandos. Mackey even links to Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah’s blog, giving credit where it’s due, for Abunimah has been doing great work on the flotilla aftermath and, specifically, on the “lynching” claims. Linking to someone like Abunimah is not par for the course for the Times (has the Times ever assigned this writer an Op-Ed or a book review?) and I applaud Mackey for doing so.

Mackey also devoted a separate post to the testimony of two activists aboard the flotilla who were listed on the Israeli Defense Forces’ website as “active terror operatives.” Mackey casts skepticism on the Israeli claim, noting that there were factual errors in the IDF’s bios, and gives space to Fatima Mohammadi, an American citizen born in Tehran, who strongly denied the claim that she was a “terrorist.”

All of which leaves an obvious question: Why are there such stark differences between the Times’ online work at the “Lede” blog and its pathetic reporting in print? Ethan Bronner and Isabel Kershner deny space to Palestinian voices, let alone Palestinian analysts and activists like Abunimah who buck the conventional wisdom on Israel/Palestine.

Bronner’s article today on the blockade of Gaza includes the usual distortions the Times propagates on Israel/Palestine and Gaza. Imagine that article if Mackey became the Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief? And imagine the effect that Mackey’s getting print space– with free rein to cast substantial doubt on Israeli propaganda and quote smart people like Abunimah– would have on the bankrupt discourse in our mainstream media generally on these issues.

Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt suggested Bronner should be put in a different position than his current one as Jerusalem bureau chief at least for the duration of his son’s service in the IDF. That’s what should happen, and I have a good idea who should replace him.


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Non-violence is not a principle, it is a tactic

Posted: 13 Jun 2010

Max Ajl, who blogs at Jewbonics, responds to Matthew Taylor’s post urging non-violence in the wake of the flotilla raid:

I thought the latest post by Matthew Taylor was out of touch. I have news for him: violence works. Violence pushed Israel out of southern Lebanon, and violence repelled the Israeli incursion into Lebanon in 2006. Violence let the Bielski partisans save our people during the Holocaust. Violence defined the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, one of the prouder moments of Jewish history. Non-violence can only be assessed conjuncturally, within a dense mesh of sociology, history, politics, and ideology. Each situation is different.

There are no formulas. But we can use a rough typology of tactics. Non-violence must be pitched to appeal to either the world’s conscience, or the humanity of the oppressor. It can also function as widespread civil disobedience—a general strike, for example, that can jam up the machinery of violence. These tactics are not exclusive of one another, but nonetheless it is clear that non-violence is not a principle, as Taylor raises it to. It itself is a tactic.

Taylor extracts his principle from a mis-reading of Gandhi, who supported violent resistance, and a mis-reading of Indian history. The British presence in colonial India was less than .05 percent of the population.

The colonial apparatus mostly relied on the native “sepoy” army. Gandhian non-violence intended to sway that army, not the British colonizers. And that didn’t work either. Japanese violence ended British colonialism, not Gandhi, and even Gandhi’s non-violence worked against the looming fist of violent resistance taking place around the rest of the subcontinent.

Consider the feasibility of those options on the Mavi Marmara. Could the passengers rely on appealing to the conscience of Israeli commandoes while they were firing bullets at the activists? Taylor thinks so: “the true power of nonviolence to persuade the oppressor is unleashed with a commitment to pursue acts of courageous love.” This seems wooly to me. Palestinian nationalism will be dead under a Merkava tank well before the oppressor is persuaded by local non-violent action (BDS globalizes non-violence in an ingenious way and creates a different correlation of forces, but plainly Taylor is not talking about this). Taylor instead is glossing his professor, Nagler.

To say, “The point is that even if they were – while terribly difficult – the passengers could have resisted nonviolently by refusing to comply with the soldiers’ demands without making any attempt to injure them,” is ridiculous. When someone is shooting at you and your friends, you must disarm them, and probably use violence to do so. If you can’t disarm them, you must use violence to stop them from shooting, one way or another. The demand a bullet entering your skull makes on you is for you to die, and if there is a way to “refuse to comply” with that demand, Taylor and Nagler should fess up quick.

In terms of the appeal of non-violence aboard the Mavi Marmara to the world’s conscience, what is there to say? Israeli commandoes were authorized to use deadly violence, according to Michael Oren. The nine martyrs and the dozens of injured made this a major news-story, far bigger than if there had been no resistance of any sort. Did it appeal to the humanity of the world? Manifestly. There have been explosions of unrest in previously quiescent populations.

The Egyptian opposition’s mobilizational capacity was quite low before the massacre. In its wake the opposition has organized many amazing actions. In Istanbul and in other Muslim countries, Palestine is at the forefront of every demonstration. The Spanish government is discussing how to end the blockade. Civil society will not stop sending ships until the blockade is broken. What sort of response is Taylor looking for? A sudden “moment” when Americans rise up and overthrow our thug government for its complicity in the ongoing Nakba?

Not going to happen, not yet—and those accustomed to accepting whatever hasbara Israel emits would not have changed their minds if the activists had stuck to non-violence. They wouldn’t have noticed, most likely. Nagler, Taylor’s mentor, acknowledges this, writing, “why was there virtually no coverage of the flotilla in the international media until the tragedy? Do we want ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ journalism to continue shaping our cultural narratives, constantly putting sales appeal ahead of political cogency?” (“We” don’t own the press agencies.

If “we” did, as Marcuse pointed out a long time ago, the revolution would have taken place a long, long time ago). Nagler wants impotent purism raised to an operational principle of the solidarity movement. Good luck with that.

Finally, in terms of jamming the machinery of occupation or violence: the passengers on the Mavi Marmara apparently did a great deal of this. They used water-hoses and repelling poles to keep commandoes off the deck. On other ships, some activists formed human chains, or jumped into the water to buy time, as Paul Larudee did. This can work, but, again, we run into the problem: the blurring of non-violence and violence.

Where does disarming gun-toting commandoes fall? Violent or non-violent? Repelling their boarding vessels? Forceful or non-forceful? The Palestinian women who pushed Israeli soldiers at Budrus? Violent or non-violent? Taylor later writes that breaking windows constitutes violence. By this logic, blowing up unoccupied tanks is also “violent,” and certainly, using a hammer to hit a soldier spraying bullets into civilians is also violence.

Can Taylor possibly be serious about this principle, or the trouble that results when one maps non-violence and violence onto the ethical and moral spheres, and creates precise alignments between “violence” and ethical and moral rectitude, “non-violence” and ethical and moral disarray?

Taylor probably thinks that resistance on the Rachel Corrie followed his proposed path (although he doesn’t mention the Rachel Corrie. Funny, that ship was barely in the news. Could that have had something to do with the presence or absence of forceful resistance?). Anyway, on the Rachel Corrie, the passengers were understandably scared and horrified, and resisted so little because they didn’t want to die.

This is no judgment on their bravery. But the sort of non-violence Taylor supports is the sort that castrates resistance, and takes resistance out of the realm of history and into the realm of religion. What would Taylor have recommended to the Vietnamese? There is nothing nefarious about defending oneself from armed attack. Making it nefarious writes the Palestinian right to resist out of history, reserving righteous violence and force for the Western powers that already almost monopolize it.

Taylor wants to turn the fact of an imbalance of forces into a principle: don’t resist. He wants to willfully “try to raise ourselves to such a cultural and moral level, both as individuals and as a community, that we would be able to control this reflex”—the resort to violence, as Chomsky wrote 40 years ago. But what Chomsky was talking about intra-communal oppression, and so intra-communal resistance.

Taylor is talking about something else entirely. He is talking about resistance to policies supported by an ideology that de-humanizes those whom it oppresses. Taylor thinks we should appeal to “Israeli public opinion,” and not act as if it is “irrelevant; to do so is both a strategic and moral blunder. There’s a reason that so many Israelis demonstrated in support of the IDF’s actions, and I think the violence of the resisters was a huge part of it.” Who is guilty of this blunder?

Of course Israeli public opinion is relevant. That’s precisely what BDS targets. But it targets it using a measure of coercion, because the Palestinians can’t afford to wait while a militarized Sparta comes to its senses. Israeli articulate opinion is mostly upset that the assault on the Mavi Marmara didn’t conform to its expectations. Does Taylor read the mainstream and right-wing Israeli press?

This is a thoroughly brainwashed, militarized population. Yes, scared, not eager to join the military to brutalize and be brutalized, except the hard-right Zionists who disproportionately occupy the officer corps and make operational decisions in combat situations, but with a bunker mentality, and often, deeply racist—last week MK Ahmad Tibi was nearly assaulted in the Knesset by racist thugs for trying to deliver concrete to people without homes.

Taylor writes that “We must design our activism campaigns to both end the oppression of the Palestinians AND help Israelis to feel less scared and more recognized for their humanity.” What could he mean? Israelis aren’t acting in a humane manner, for the most part. We can’t recognize something that isn’t there. And we are fantasists if we choose to believe otherwise. It is not the job of solidarity activists to heal Israeli culture. Israel is not fence-sitting.

It is actively carrying out horrible crimes with the passive or active complicity of the overwhelming majority of its population. The men who wield power in that society should be facing war crimes trials, not quibbles about whether the solidarity movement is hurting their feelings. 

There is far more to say: on how Western media frames resistance, on how it accepts the Israeli narrative or the imperial narrative, on how to acknowledge this as we plan tactics and strategy until such time as we can control the narratives, on the nature of institutional and non-institutional racism vis-à-vis Western solidarity activist-based resistance and Palestinian resistance, on the naturalization of state violence, Israeli and American aggression rights, and the relentless transformation, via dominant narratives, of just resistance into unjust terror, a narrative that unfortunately Taylor strengthens.

Summing up, here’s what I think. Those who resisted violently were brave. Those who resisted non-violently were brave. All were right. All were just. Solidarity organizations can agree in advance to resist or not to resist, as Taylor instructs us. But most oppression in human history has been thrown off by horrible violence. Frankly, if a man has a gun pointed at my head on my own territory and has shot the person standing next to me, and I can disarm that man, I will disarm him.

And there is something surreal, if not pitiful, to demand not only that I abjure that basic human response, but furthermore, abjure it when the gun is pointed not at my head but at the person standing next to me. Writing about it admittedly makes for good copy and good employment for those living and writing in Western countries where power is eager to dissolve an internationally-sanctioned right to resist. For those living under the gun, Taylor’s prescriptions may seem a little odder.

A father, 41, is killed at a Jerusalem checkpoint. Now whose story should you believe?

Posted: 13 Jun 2010

Haaretz reports in their article “Palestinian killed in suspected East Jerusalem terror attack“:

A Palestinian driver was shot and killed in Jerusalem Friday after running over two Israeli border patrolmen, with an apparent intent to kill.

The man reportedly hit two the two policemen in East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz, with reported light injuries sustained by both victims.

According to police officials, the driver drove on a short distance, and then proceeding to flee the scene on foot. Police officers called on the suspect to stop, and opened fire at him once it was clear he had ignored their instructions.

Open and shut case, right? Not so fast. One of the notable features of the media coverage of the flotilla attack (at least online) has been an unwillingness to take the Israeli account at their word. Will this positive trend continue with other examples of Israeli violence towards Palestinians? This story presents an interesting opportunity.

Ziad Jilani obituary pictureZiad Al-Julani

First off, the driver has a name, Ziad Al-Julani (pictured right). He was 41 years old and a father to three girls pictured here. A report on Ma’an says he was a “a tradesman living in East Jerusalem’s Shu’fat neighborhood.” Al-Julani was killed at a temporary Israeli checkpoint that was set up in East Jerusalem following friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

A friend of Al-Julani’s, who alerted us to the story, wrote us:

Ziad Jilani was a very family oriented man, a loving husband and a devoted father. No one who knew him believes that he intentionally tried to hit the border police at the checkpoint. I heard that a stone hit his car and caused him to swerve, starting the whole horrific chain of events. I don’t know the whole story, but his wife told me that before her husband left the house that morning, they had discussed taking the kids out someplace fun that afternoon. This was no premeditated attack.

The Palestinian press is working on uncovering the story, Ma’an talks with eyewitnesses:

Sa’d Hamed As-Silwadi, from Silwan and the father of a child injured during the shoot-out, told the center he parked his car beside a butchery and saw Al-Julani driving toward the Al-Hadmi neighborhood in Wadi Joz, where he was killed.

He said he saw Al-Julani get out of his vehicle when he was first shot by Israeli forces. A relative of Al-Julani tried to help him, As-Silwadi said, but was kicked by Israeli forces. As-Silwadi returned to his vehicle to find his five-year-old child with a rubber bullet wound to the neck and head, and rushed him the Maqased Hospital on the Mount of Olives.

Ahmad Qutteneh told the center he saw Al-Julani running from four members of Israel’s Special Forces, approaching him and opening fire at close range. “Then I saw one of them come near him and shoot him in the face and body,” Qutteneh told the center.

Palestine Monitor helps round out the story a bit, and presents a situation where Israeli soldiers could have overreacted while under pressure from Palestinian protests:

A shopkeeper on the main street said he saw Israeli soldiers chasing ten people were shouting about the recent flotilla massacre prior to the arrival of Al-Julani’s vehicle. “Look, it’s every Friday like that. It’s normal. The people and the army are like Tom and Jerry,” said the shopkeeper, who identified himself solely as Ahmed. “But when they shot, I didn’t know what’s going on.”

Ahmed speculated that the vehicle was malfunctioning, claiming out that the prevalence of Palestinian residents in the street would prevent the driver from attempting to harm Israeli forces there.

All reports confirm that Al-Julani was killed at point blank range. His friend who contacted us said, “From what I understand, Ziad fell to the ground and the police walked up to him and fired point blank into the side of his face and body. I was told the bullets left a mark in the cement under his body.” The Ma’an report adds, “Others told the center the shooter was seen ‘dancing beside the body singing and cheering ‘I killed an Arab, I killed an Arab’.'”

In the past, many would accept a story from the Israeli press about soldiers killing a Palestinian “terrorist” at face value. Is this still true after the flotilla?

Let’s be clear: We have taken the American left

Posted: 13 Jun 2010

Last week we picked up Jacob Berkman’s report that the Jewish leadership’s inflexible support of the flotilla raid risks alienating the Jewish street, which is “conflicted” about the raid. Yes, because the left now has profound misgivings. This is from a conservative site, Human Events, smart reporting by Michelle Oddis, saying that Jewish celebs are not showing up at the pro-Israel rallies:

Politically active Jewish celebrities have remained silent regarding Israel’s right to defend itself after the recent raid on a pro-Palestinian aid flotilla headed for the Gaza Strip.“Unfortunately,” said [screenwriter Andrew] Klavan, “I think there are a lot of Jews who don’t realize that the left has left the building.”

“I’m hearing from Jewish friends in show business ‘Gee I went to my theater group’ or ‘a movie set and I heard this horrible anti-Israel stuff, what’s going on?’ and they don’t quite get yet that the political left has left Israel behind.”

The real challenge here is again to MSNBC, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Your viewers/readers want criticism of Israel. Will you sound that demand in the community? (Or will you just let this site continue to grow..)

Reliable sources prove reliable on Helen Thomas

Posted: 13 Jun 2010

Well the battle is on inside the media, that’s what’s beginning to happen. I couldn’t watch the Bill Maher clip, in which Oliver Stone trashes the lobby and Rachel Maddow says nothing, (per Idrees Ahmad’s report). And I missed Howard Kurtz’s Reliable Sources, but Koozie didn’t. His report:

Howard Kurtz started the show with a segment on the Helen Thomas case. Wow. Panel included Dana Milbank and Jeffrey Goldberg. Take a wild guess how Helen came out of this? Clue: comparisons were made with Ahmadinejad.

Memo to the media: 91 percent in this Washington Post poll say Thomas shouldn’t have lost her job. Andrew Sullivan, the canary in the coal mine, has asked, Is there any columnist in an American paper who is against the existence of Israel? and gotten no answer.

What about a strong critic of Israel? Who on the left side is going to begin to echo the critical spirit that countless Americans are now feeling. Not Daniel Schorr, who once again blamed Hamas for the blockade yesterday. Apparently not Maddow. Certainly not Maher. Not Kurtz. The Talmud says [yes, sexist], In a place where there is not a man, then be the man. That means you, Chris Matthews.

Don’t blame the Jews for the Israel lobby

Posted: 13 Jun 2010

At Truthdig, Zachary Karabell rightly points out that Jerry Muller’s book Capitalism and the Jews completely fails to deal with the modern reality of empowered Jews in the U.S., dealing strictly with the historical backdrop. Then Karabell gets off this claim about American policy in the Middle East:

Jewish support of Israel evolved in the 1960s and 1970s into a core aspect of American grand strategy, with evangelical Christians in the United States just as adamant about that policy as any Jewish group and with the U.S. foreign policy establishment turning Israel into a key pillar of American strategy in the Middle East.

This is why Karabell, a friend of mine, called Walt and Mearsheimer’s book “a terrible book” at the LA Book Fair a year or so back. And the claim doesn’t bear scrutiny. Evangelical Christians had nothing to do with the pressure that caused Truman to urge Partition and then recognize Israel– political decisions. Let’s give Karabell the Cold War; but the war on terror? The braintrust of the Bush Administration included an evangelical Christian or two, but many many Jewish neocons.

And Sheldon Adelson was one of Bush’s biggest backers. Evangelical Christians don’t give to the Democratic Party, which is now a bulwark of the lobby, c.f., Schumer, Frank and Berman. About half of the money in the Dem party comes from Jews. Karabell reflects a resistance to even talking about Jewish Establishment power. Is it mere coincidence that 3/4 of the Supreme Court picks by Democratic presidents in the last 18 years have been Jewish? Of course not. Nor that the two offices closest to Obama’s are not manned by evangelical Christians, but by Jews.

Is Rahm Emanuel a Zionist? I believe so; he cavorted in the Golan recently in utter defiance of the two-state-solution, so as to cultivate Jews for the 2010 elections. Is David Axelrod, Emanuel’s good friend? I have no idea. But until journalists honestly scrutinize the role of Zionism in Jewish life and American political life, we will get this kind of blame game.

‘NYT’ laundry service

Posted: 13 Jun 2010

NYT has a piece called “Gaza, Through Fresh Eyes,” featuring the photography of Katie Orlinsky and an article by Ethan Bronner that then quotes Orlinsky. Watch Bronner work:


for nearly everyone who visits Gaza, often with worry of danger and hostility, what’s surprising is the fact that daily life, while troubled, often has the staggering quality of the very ordinary. 

Funny, Orlinsky doesn’t quite seem to see it that way:

“From the bullet hole in the wall above the child playing on his outdated computer in a middle-class home, to the couple having dinner sipping Coca-Cola smuggled in from Egypt, the situation in Gaza — the war, the blockade, Hamas — touches everyone,” she said. “I saw energetic, smart young women learning about the world in university, and I saw young girls who spent their days sorting through trash to find reusable materials to sell to factories for a few measly shekels.

I saw happy families taking a break from their daily struggle to have a picnic on the beach, and met a traumatized family who hasn’t been to the beach in two years even though it’s only a 15-minute drive from their home.”

Oh and check out Orlinsky’s photo of a Gazan widow, her husband killed by the Gaza onslaught. Magic.

The problem with soccer, redux

Posted: 13 Jun 2010

When I started this website more than four years ago, I got some traffic around the World Cup. I love the World Cup because it’s pitched athletic competition of the highest order, with all my kumbaya stuff thrown in; and I am proudly uninformed about soccer. So to resume an old theme: We’ve now had seven matches. Total of nine goals. At least one on a penalty kick, one a gift. I’ve seen maybe two inspired goals in about five hours of soccer-watching so far (the Gerrard English goal, the Argentinian). Nine goals in 10-1/2 hours of play. Sorry folks but this is a problem.


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Starhawk writes:
“Organic gardeners know that if you respond to an attack by trying to kill the pests involved, you simply breed resistance while poisoning your own crops and soil. Instead, we ask, ‘What conditions are allowing this pest to thrive?” “How do we change them, to favor the beneficial bugs and strengthen the health of the soil and the plants?”

A smart and moral policy, from Israel’s point of view, would be to say: “What are the conditions that would favor mutual cooperation and peace? What would give our allies a competitive edge, and undermine the hardliners?”

Racheli Gai.
Starhawk: A Moral Path Toward Gaza

Israel’s murderous attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla has served to focus international attention on its longstanding, immoral siege of Gaza. Since the election of Hamas in 2007, Israel has tightened its hold on Gaza’s borders, blocking essential goods from entering and Gazan products from leaving, effectively destroying Gaza’s economy. Eight out of ten Gazans depend on international food aid to survive, and ninety-five per cent of its drinking water fails to meet safety standards for consumption. Seventy per cent of the population suffers from food insecurity. Thirteen per cent of the children of Gaza suffer stunted growth from malnutrition.

The blockade prevents Gazan patients who need specialized medical care from leaving, and stops students who receive scholarships from travelling abroad to study. Such harsh measures are immoral and illegal under international law, and in no way further Israel’s security. They endanger Israel by generating resentment, frustration and anger, and create precisely the conditions which favor fanaticism and violence.

I’m a practicing Pagan, but there are values I deeply treasure from the Jewish religion I was born and raised in. The first is the stress on justice as the core of Jewish teaching. The second is the understanding that the oneness of God means that all people are cherished and equal in God’s sight, that the same rules apply to all of us and the same rights are given to every person. By that definition, a “Jewish” state that persecutes and denies rights to another people is a heresy and a travesty of true Jewish values. A moral approach to the Gaza strip would be one that serves justice and assures the human rights of Palestinians, Jews, and everyone else.

From a Pagan perspective, we understand the deep, ancestral bond to the land that many Jews–and Palestinians—feel. But that bond does not need to be expressed through control or ownership. Attempts at control generally become devastating to land and people. Sovereignty, from a Pagan point of view, is contingent on responsibility, and a leader’s job is not to issue orders and demand obedience, but to safeguard the health of the land, the fertility if its soil, the diversity of its wildlife and forests, and above all, to cherish the children, all of them–not just the children of one tribe.

A simple moral test might be this: “If children are suffering because of your political ends or the means you choose to achieve them, do something else.” From both the Pagan and the Jewish points of view, actions that condemn children to a stunted life cannot be considered moral by any standards. Israel must lift the siege of Gaza in order to step back onto the beginnings of a moral path.

The Israeli government itself admits that the true purpose of the blockade is not security but economic warfare with a political aim. On June 9, the McClatchy newspapers obtained an Israeli document from Gisha, an Israeli human rights group which sued the Israeli government for information on the blockade. “A country has the right to decide… that it wishes to operate using ‘economic warfare,'” the government said. Indeed, it is hard to imagine what security concerns would be imposed by chocolate or children’s toys. Now, in the wake of international outrage, Israel has decided to allow in jam and cookies. The question remains–what possible security justification could there ever have been for keeping them out?

Organic gardeners know that if you respond to an attack by trying to kill the pests involved, you simply breed resistance while poisoning your own crops and soil. Instead, we ask, ‘What conditions are allowing this pest to thrive?” “How do we change them, to favor the beneficial bugs and strengthen the health of the soil and the plants?”

Palestinians are a diverse people–as are Israelis. In my time in the West Bank and Gaza, I met true believers who were fanatically devout–and others who swore at “f-ing Hammas–they’ve closed the cinemas again!” I met some who believed in armed resistance and others who were deeply committed to nonviolence.

A smart and moral policy, from Israel’s point of view, would be to say: “What are the conditions that would favor mutual cooperation and peace? What would give our allies a competitive edge, and undermine the hardliners?” Such policies would open borders, encourage of cooperative enterprises in commerce, learning, art and culture, foster a commitment to caring for and sharing the land and to create a opportunities for Palestinians to flourish and thrive.

Instead, Israel consistently employs a policy of force, collective punishment and intimidation that only serves to harden resistance. To treat all Gazans, all Palestinians, as if “Palestinian” were synonymous with “terrorist” is not only immoral, it’s self-defeating. Prejudice always makes us stupid, for it prevents us from seeing diversity and complexity. Repression backfires.

Israel’s decision to attack the Gaza Peace Flotilla with deadly force has squandered the world’s good will and put Gaza front and center on the international agenda. As a bare minimum, Israel should release the film and video–and the thousands of dollars of equipment and cold, hard cash taken from the protestors and support an open, international, impartial investigation of the flotilla attack. Until she does, her account and her intentions will be suspect.

My own accounts of my experiences in the West Bank and Gaza:

Israeli Government’s admission of ‘economic warfare”:

Ha-artez, statistics on malnutrition:

Food insecurity–from English Al-Jazeera

Uncensored video on Democracy Now

Uri Avnery, the great Israeli Journalist, asks the key questions:

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Z. Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman 
Jewish Peace News archive and blog:

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Jonathan Cook:  Museum of Tolerance: Round Two

13 June, 2010

Jerusalem: Israeli authorities are pressing ahead with plans to build a courthouse complex on a large historic Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem that is already at the centre of protest over plans to locate a “Museum of Tolerance” there.

The proposed courthouse is expected to provoke stiff opposition, especially from Islamic groups, after it was revealed that an excavation last year for the museum, close by, unearthed as many as 1,500 Muslim graves.

Dorit Beinisch, the president of the Supreme Court, who last year expressed reservations about the location of the new courthouse, is reported to have lifted her objections recently. According to Meir Margalit, a Jerusalem city councillor, municipal officials said they had assured the judge that no graves had been discovered at the new site during excavations. 

However, a spokeswoman for the Israeli antiquities authority, which is responsible for carrying out such digs, said in an interview that ancient graves were found at the proposed courthouse site when a trial excavation was conducted two years ago, and that the discovery was reported to the government.

Archaeologists and Islamic groups point out that the courts were similarly misled when they approved the museum project in 2008, after they had been promised that only “a few dozen graves” would be found at the site, not many hundreds. 

“The municipality and government simply can’t be trusted on this issue as has been amply demonstrated over the Museum of Tolerance plans,” Mr Margalit said. “They have a history of not acting in good faith.”

The courthouse plan is certain to revive a long-running controversy over what Muslim organisations have called Israel’s “desecration” of the Mamilla cemetery, which lies just outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls. The graveyard dates back 1,000 years and, according to Islamic tradition, includes the resting places of the Prophet Mohammed’s companions and tens of thousands of Saladin’s warriors. 

Plans for a Museum of Tolerance, unveiled in 2004 by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a US Jewish group that has built a similar museum in Los Angeles, provoked a row that has yet to abate.

Palestinian families whose relatives are buried in Mamilla and the Islamic Movement, the main group representing religious Muslims in Israel, lost their legal battle against the museum in the Supreme Court in October 2008. 

But they are to revive their legal action after an investigation by the liberal Haaretz newspaper last month revealed major irregularities in a dig to prepare the site for the museum’s construction. The groups also believe the investigation provides them with ammunition against the courthouse plan.

According to Haaretz, the antiquities authority oversaw a five-month excavation last year at the museum site that was carried out in record time as three teams did shifts around the clock amid great secrecy to excavate graves and rebury the remains nearby. 

No Palestinians were employed, and all workers had to sign a confidentiality agreement. They were searched for any electronic devices, including phones, before entering the site, were not allowed to leave during their shift, and were watched at all times by security cameras.

The measures, the Haaretz report suggested, were designed to ensure that no word leaked out about the large number of graves found there or that promises to the courts about treating the graves with the utmost respect were being violated. 

Workers told the paper that, faced with a large number of graves exposed in five layers down to the bedrock, Israeli officials cut corners and hurriedly dug out ancient skulls and bones, some of which disintegrated in the process.

The paper published photographs appearing to show that remains had been stuffed into cardboard boxes rather than removed using advanced techniques the antiquities authority had proposed, including one that was supposed to freeze the earth around the bones before their removal.

Gideon Sulimani, a senior archaeologist with the antiquities authority who carried out initial excavations, told Haaretz: “They call this an archaeological excavation but it’s really a clearing-out, an erasure of the Muslim past. It is actually Jews against Arabs.”

Rafi Greenberg, an archaeologist at Tel Aviv University, was also critical. “In another country, they would devote years to such an excavation, and also build a special lab to analyse the results.” He accused the antiquities authority of betraying its role as the guardian of the country’s historical assets and instead promoting the “wellbeing of entrepreneurs”.

Haaretz’s investigation has worried observers that similar deceptions may be employed in the case of the courthouse.

Kais Nasser, a lawyer for seven Palestinian families and for an Islamic charity opposed to the museum project, said he would petition the courts to reverse the museum ruling and ask them to block the courthouse plans.

“The graves have already been removed, but we hope to persuade the courts to order that the remains be returned and this uniquely important site rehabilitated,” he said. 

“Be sure that, if the courthouse goes ahead, as many graves will need to be removed as the 1,500 that were unearthed for the museum.”

A new courthouse in Jerusalem has been under consideration for at least a decade, Mr Margalit said, but it had been difficult to find a large enough site in such a crowded city. A spokesman for the municipality termed the new court complex “a strategic project to strengthen the centre of the city”.

A school is currently on the site proposed for the courthouse, close to an area known as Independence Park. Mr Margalit said the authorities may have found graves when they dug the school’s foundations in the 1970s and kept the information secret.

Prof Greenberg said claims that there were no graves under or close to the school were “ridiculous”. 

He added that at both sites there was a wealth of other important antiquities that were being ignored or destroyed by the current excavations. He said they included an Iron Age house, an aqueduct and a dam built across what was once a valley.

The antiquities authority, he said, should have announced the important finds and fought to preserve them. Instead, he said, in what he called “a pattern of submitting to outside pressure”, the authority had spread “misinformation” about the site.

Despite the rushed excavations, work on the museum has yet to begin. It has been delayed by the departure of Frank Gehry, the project’s world-famous architect, and financial troubles caused by the global economic downturn.

The museum has attracted growing opposition from within the Jewish community in both Israel and the US. Last year American Reform rabbis, representing the largest stream of Judaism in the US, called for the museum to be relocated, comparing the plans to the historic “desecration” of Jewish cemeteries.

Leading Israeli intellectuals have voiced opposition too, including Shimon Shamir, a Tel Aviv University professor and a former ambassador to Jordan, and Yehoshua Ben-Arieh, considered one of Israel’s foremost experts on Jerusalem’s history.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, head of the Wiesenthal Centre, has defended the museum on the grounds that part of the site was used as a muncipal car park from the 1960s, following the site’s deconsecration by a Jerusalem qadi, or Islamic judge.

However, Islamic groups have pointed out that the judge was appointed by the Israeli authorities and was later jailed for corruption. They have also noted that there was no chance to oppose his decision at the time because Israel’s Muslim population was living under martial law.

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ومعاداتهم لأمريكا وإسرائيل ونبذهم لكل من يحاول إشعال الفتن بين الأخوة

صعدة أون لاين – خاص
الأحد, 13 يونيو 2010

نص الوثيقةبسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

الحمد لله رب العالمين وصلى الله وسلم على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله الطيبين الطاهرين وبعد :

امتثالا لقول الله تعالى }لاَّ خَيْرَ فِي كَثِيرٍ مِّن نَّجْوَاهُمْ إِلاَّ مَنْ أَمَرَ بِصَدَقَةٍ أَوْ مَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ إِصْلاَحٍ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ { وقوله تعالى } فَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ وَأَصْلِحُواْ ذَاتَ بِيْنِكُمْ {

لقد تم اجتماع لجنة ممثلة عن الطرفين الطرف الأول السيد العلامة / حسين بن يحي الحوثي ، والسيد العلامة / عبد الرحمن حسين شايم ، والسيد العلامة / حسين مجد الدين المؤيدي ، والفقيه العلامة / علي علي مسعود الرابضي ومن إليهم من العلماء والمعلمين والمرشدين والطلاب وأتباعهم من عامة الناس

والطرف الثاني السيد / عبد الملك بدر الدين الحوثي ومن إليه من العلماء والمتعلمين والمرشدين وعامة الناس وحرصا منهم على التفاهم والتعايش بسلام وعدم إثارة المشاكل والنزاعات بين الطرفين فقد اتفق المجتمعون عنهم وعمن يمثلونه على عدة أمور وعلى المحسوبين من أتباعهم الالتزام بها ومن ينطوي تحت إطار كل طرف من الطرفين العمل على حسبها تجاه الطرف الأخر وهي :ـ

1ـ التأكيد على وجوب التفاهم والتعايش بسلام ووقف المهاترات والنزاعات وما يؤدي إليها من سوء التعامل والقول .

2ـ التأكيد على حرمة الدم والمال والعرض لكلِ من الطرفين .

3ـ يشكل لجنة تتولى معالجة الإشكالات التي قد تحدث من البعض من الطرفين وإعطائها كافة الصلاحيات من الطرفين لتنفيذ ما تراه مناسبا في شتى المجالات .

4ـ عدم فتح المجال أمام أي شخص أو جماعة تسعى إلى إثارة المشاكل وإيجاد النزاعات والخصومات بين الطرفين .

5ـ أن العداء لأمريكا وإسرائيل وحرمة موالاتهم مما فرضه الله وهو مشروع وحق باعتبارهم يهوداً ونصارى يعادون الإسلام ويعتدون على المسلمين وينتهكون المقدسات ويخوضون حربا صريحا على الإسلام والمسلمين كما أن تعلم دين الله وتعليمه والدعوة إليه مشروع وحق فرضه الله ولا خلاف ولا تناقض بين الفرضين والقيام بأحدهما والدعوة إليه لا يكون بأسلوب الذم والإسقاط والتنقيص للفرض الآخر وإن كان لكل طرف رأيه في آلية وطريقة التطبيق في كلا الطرفين .

6ـ يؤكد الطرفان على مرجعية الثقلين في شتى المجالات الدينية منها وغيرها وما خلفها لا يكون حجة ولا ثقافة مقبولة .

7ـ لكل طرف أن يتعبد الله في جميع فرائضه وأموره الدينية بالطريقة التي يراها ترضي الله عز وجل ولا يجبر أي طرف آخر على أدائها بالطريقة التي يراها صحيحة
} قُلْ كُلٌّ يَعْمَلُ عَلَى شَاكِلَتِهِ فَرَبُّكُمْ أَعْلَمُ بِمَنْ هُوَ أَهْدَى سَبِيلاً {

8 ـ لكل خصوصيته في مساجده ومدارسه وأماكنه الخاصة وليس لأي طرف أن يجبر الطرف الآخر على تقبل ثقافته أو الدخول في مواقفه فيما يتعلق بالجانب الثقافي والفكري والسياسي .

9ـ على الطرفين منع أتباعهما من السباب والشتائم والتزام الاحترام المتبادل ومن تجاوز في هذا ولم يلتزم رفع به إلى اللجنة لاتخاذ الإجراءات اللازمة .

والله ولي الهداية والتوفيق
26/ جماد الثاني / 1431 … 00-39.html

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By Amir Terkel

That’s the banner this bus driver  decided to adorn his bus with.

Speaking of signs and the commandos, I’ve seen quite a few large banners along the highway that read: “Commando Soldiers, Israel is proud of you!”

Public rage against opposing views has reached a boiling point. Last week on my way to a demonstration protesting Israeli action against the flotilla I walked by a crowd of right wing protestors screaming “Kill the Lefties, Kills the  Lefties” at the top of their lungs. I was glad to see police near by.

That’s the quick Israel report for today.

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