More bombing and killing, please
Posted: 02 Jun 2010

Here’s some solid advice from an American neo-con who worries that America just isn’t aggressive enough anymore in the Middle East:

We need to return to an old paradigm for understanding the region: Reward our friends, and punish our enemies.

Little room in Israel for anybody who doesn’t love the government
Posted: 02 Jun 2010

Here’s the Israeli Knesset, a rabble of bigots and haters. Charming:
Rightist lawmaker Moshe Mutz Matalon (Yisrael Beitenu) told Palestinian MK Haneen Zoabi, “Nice work. In one day you’ve managed to accomplish what the treacherous people around you have been trying to do for years. Unfortunately, the (commando) fighters (who raided the aid flotilla) acted with too much restraint. They left only nine floating voters.”

Obama administration and Israel sitting in a tree…
Posted: 02 Jun 2010


U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday defended Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and its decision to intercept the pro-Palestinian flotilla bringing humanitarian aid to the coastal territory, though he did not go so far as to defend the Israel Navy raid that killed nine people two days earlier.
In an interview with Charlie Rose, Biden pointed out that Israel had given pro-Palestinian activists the option of unloading their cargo at the Ashdod port, and offered to bring it to the Gaza Strip on their behalf.
“They’ve said, ‘Here you go. You’re in the Mediterranean. This ship — if you divert slightly north you can unload it and we’ll get the stuff into Gaza,’”, he said. “So what’s the big deal here? What’s the big deal of insisting it go straight to Gaza? Well, it’s legitimate for Israel to say, ‘I don’t know what’s on that ship. These guys are dropping… 3,000 rockets on my people.
“Look, you can argue whether Israel should have dropped people onto that ship or not  — but the truth of the matter is, Israel has a right to know — they’re at war with Hamas — has a right to know whether or not arms are being smuggled in.”
During the interview, Biden also blamed Hamas for the crisis that has wracked the coastal territory and for the ongoing state of conflict with Israel.
“As we put pressure, and the world put pressure on Israel to let material go into Gaza to help those people who are suffering, the ordinary Palestinians there, what happened? Hamas would confiscate it, put it in a warehouse [and] sell it.
“So the problem is this would end tomorrow if Hamas agreed to form a government with the Palestinian Authority on the conditions the international community has set up,” Biden told Rose.

It’s a position that oh-so-surprisingly is shared by Benjamin Netanyahu.

And now for something a little different
Posted: 02 Jun 2010

In dark times, we need some relief.
Here’s Jon Stewart on BP, oil leaks and Barack Obama:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The Spilling Fields

A few simple steps for Israel to win back friends (measured in decades)
Posted: 02 Jun 2010

Note yesterday’s editorial in Murdoch’s Australian broadsheet. Defensive, seemingly pained that the beloved Israel had acted so brazenly and less defiant as usual. Next step, backing a targeted boycott campaign (ok, I can dream):

The Jewish state must reassure the world it wants peace
In boarding vessels intent on breaking the Gaza blockade the Israeli military has done the Jewish state a great deal of harm. Hamas, the terrorist organisation that controls Gaza, cannot hope to destroy Israel by military means. But by isolating Israel diplomatically it can weaken its ability to defend its interests everywhere from the UN General Assembly to the Gaza border and there is no doubting this morning Israel has fewer friends than it did two days ago.
Israel’s motivation is easy to understand – the flotilla was testing Israeli resolve to ensure the seas did not become a supply route for rockets to be fired at them from Gaza. So is the reason why the Israelis opened fire when they boarded the biggest vessel, their advance party was attacked by friends of Hamas spoiling for a fight. But Israeli explanations are being drowned out by condemnation from Hamas and its allies, a chorus that will be joined by people all over the world who buy the lie Israel is always the aggressor.
There are at least nine reasons why – the number of people who died in the fracas. Like Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972, when British paratroopers fired on demonstrators, killing 13, these deaths will be what is remembered, not the way the Israelis offered to accept supplies for Gaza in one of its ports, or any errors of judgment or mitigating circumstances that may be revealed by the inevitable inquiry.
Understandably so. The fact Israel has been in a fight to survive throughout its entire history does not exonerate its officers in the deaths of people who would be alive but for poor planning. Certainly, the five smaller vessels in the flotilla were stormed without strife. But what did the Israelis expect would happen when they boarded a vessel carrying 600 people, including some keen on a confrontation? It appears senior officers involved did not anticipate resistance and deployed too few men, ill-equipped to contain a mob without using deadly force.
For a nation whose police and armed forces have decades of experience in containing riots with minimal casualties, this is a failing as unnecessary as it is unacceptable. All military establishments become complacent and make mistakes and the Israelis are no exception, demonstrated by the 2006 incursion into southern Lebanon which was slow to start and lacked clear objectives. And now the Israelis have again demonstrated an inability to manage the new ways of war where terrorists, not troops, are used. It is a long time since Israel’s classic battle victories of 1967 and 1973.
But while military failings are alarming, the real worry for its friends is the way Israel’s government either does not understand or, more alarmingly, no longer cares what the world thinks of it. This year Israel has committed three unforced errors that have made it look arrogant and uninterested in its image.
In January, assassins, all but universally agreed to be Israeli agents, killed senior Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. Nobody outside the terror organisation and its Iranian paymasters mourned Mabhouh. But countries were enraged that the hit squad used forged passports, including some in the names of Australians. In March, Israel announced a new housing development in Jerusalem, on land the Palestinian Authority claims, during a visit by US Vice-President Joe Biden. Mr Biden, who was trying to kick-start talks with the Palestinians, was furious. And now people are dead in a fight that could have been avoided.
Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorists is beyond doubt. But this does not exempt it from continually making its case to the world or mean it need not do everything it can to demonstrate it is the only state in the Middle East governed by democracy and the rule of law. There are all sorts of reasons why Israel seems uninterested in making the effort. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in coalition with nationalists who are hard to control. Many Israelis are tired of talks that go nowhere and prefer to put their faith in the military.
But Israel must remember that it had the sympathy of the Western world when it carried, and occasionally used, a very big stick but always talked of peace and made concessions to secure it. As recently as 2006, retired general and then prime minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally evacuated Gaza. But now Israel is looking like an aggressor.
After losing the shooting war, Hamas, which is committed to destroying the Jewish state, is incongruously winning the struggle for sympathy. And Israel is losing support even in social-democratic countries that traditionally supported it. Israel needs to win back their support – its security requires more than military might.

“We would never tolerate this from our enemies”
Posted: 02 Jun 2010

The letters in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. Hear the rising anger about the pass Australia and the West in general have given Israel for decades. Public opinion is shifting. Feel it:

I am sick of the PR spin. I am sick of the tired justifications, I am sick of the diplomatic niceties and double standards. I am sick of the excuses. I am sick of this having no end in sight. I am sick of the inhumanity.
Israeli commandos boarded vessels in international waters and killed several people. Period. The Israeli government has, for decades, oppressed, terrorised and reduced to near starvation close to a million people. Collective punishment is a war crime. There are no excuses.
We would never tolerate this from our enemies. Why on earth is it tolerated from our friends?
Adrian Bain St Leonards
When did the act of repelling invaders from your vessel in international waters become an act of aggression? Mr Netanyahu tells us that his soldiers were ”attacked with sticks and iron bars” and that ”the invaders started it”. The soldiers rappelling in the dark from helicopters were coming to help, were they?
When will the Australian government have the courage to tell Israel to stop the blockade and the occupation?
Edward Poole Annandale
Far be it from me to leap to Israel’s defence. Having signed the Independent Australian Jewish Voices letter in support of the Palestinians, I nonetheless feel condemnation of the Israel Defence Forces is becoming too automatic.
There may be many reasons to condemn the Israeli military, but its actions on board the flotilla are not among them. Ask yourselves what you would expect any other nation to do if ships were sent, in violation of its military blockade, and if its soldiers were attacked when they rappelled on board.
The blockade may be unjust (it is), and Israel may have a long record of terrible PR-disasters (it does), but the blame for this event rests with the individuals who behaved as peace-loving idealists, but who came armed with knives, clubs and cans of Mace.
You do not need more than 600 activists to get supplies into Gaza, you only need the supplies. And unless your intention is simply to create a scene, you send them via the appropriate channels.
Simon Holloway Newtown
At what point is Israel not the victim?
Ted Keating Tallai (Qld)
For a letter so scathing about melodrama and hysteria, Gabriel Sassoon’s (June 2) has a good deal of both. The Turkish ships were in international waters, not Israeli waters, and no one disputes that. They were not ‘’storming”, but carrying cargo such as building materials, prohibited by Israel and badly needed for humanitarian reasons to repair the damage that Israel itself unlawfully perpetrated.
Scott Poynting Manchester (UK)
There were no ”armed terrorists entering Israeli controlled waters”, as Gabriel Sassoon says. The attack took place in international waters. The only small arms used were – as reported by the Israelis – taken from the Israeli forces. The ”calculated melodrama, the confected hysteria, the feigned shock and anger” he decries may be caused by the fact that unarmed civilians died and were injured in the attack.
The Israeli line that those on board started the violence holds no water. No violence would have happened had the Israelis not boarded the boats. He and the other apologists do their cause no good by refusing to believe Israel can do no wrong.
Pip Denton Guildford
There you have the whole, complex problem in a nutshell. The world is divided into ”the anti-Israel propaganda machine” and ”the rest of us”.
William Cattell Sydney
The Israeli ambassador, Yuval Rotem, says the Gaza flotilla was a media stunt. Of course it was. The organisers wanted to show what thugs the Israelis are. They wanted to show the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and how little the Israelis allow in for the state to survive. They wanted to show how Israel deals with other views and how little it cares.
We now know.
Paul Stephen Yamba
Susan Jewell (Letters, June 2) and her fellow defenders of outrageous political stunts gone wrong should watch the video evidence, which shows ”unarmed” civilians beating Israeli commandos with iron bars and throwing them from an upper deck – hardly the actions of a group of unarmed peace activists. If Israel’s intent had been anything other than to resolve this with the minimum of force, that would not have happened.
Yammering about these vessels being in international waters is an attempt to fool a public ignorant of what a navy is allowed to do. A navy may board another vessel in international waters for a whole host of reasons. Even if Israel was in the wrong to board them, you are never legally right to attempt to repel naval personnel with violence (just as you are always in the wrong to resist arrest by a police officer).
This incident was a publicity stunt, not an aid convoy. There were other methods to get the aid delivered; this one was taken only because of the publicity generated by the inevitable Israeli attempts to stop it, or because the real intent was to deliver munitions to Hamas.
Anyone with even a passing interest in the Israel-Palestine conflict has seen numerous incidents like this manufactured to get airtime in the Western media. Sometimes I think Hamas could paint a red cross on a tank and the media would call it an ambulance and criticise Israel for blowing it up.
James Ramsay Bexhill
”We came for peace,”’ said the commando, one of the first Israeli soldiers to board the Mavi Marmara. ”They [the activists] came for war” (”There was madness in their eyes – they were trying to kill us”, June 2).
So let me get this straight. Israeli commandos land on the deck of a boat, in international waters, at night, with weapons, and this is in peace. The people on board, armed with nothing more than would ordinarily be found on such vessels (and humanitarian supplies), come in war. This really is a parallel universe, isn’t it?
Gina Hay Bayview
”The organisers’ intent was violent, their method was violent and, unfortunately, the results were violent.” – Danny Ayalon, Israel’s deputy foreign minister.
”The flotilla organisers’ intent was violent, the methods employed were violent and, regrettably, the result was violent.” – Yuval Rotem, Israeli ambassador to Australia.
At least one side has its story straight.
Cliff Jahnsen Bowral
The blockade of Gaza by Israel – and by Egypt – has the blessingof the United States. These nations would have us believe the blockade is not intended to hurt the Gazans, but to bring down Hamas.
One cannot help feeling that while the raid on the flotilla by Israel’s navy commandos may have deprived the Gazans of basic daily needs, it has served to strengthen the support for Hamas, not only within Gaza but throughout the region.
Sam Nona Burradoo

And now the blame game begins
Posted: 02 Jun 2010

An Israeli journalist reports that many in the local press there didn’t report (self-censorship? government censorship?) that many in the military establishment supposedly opposed the military action before it was launched near Gaza.

Leaked: BP’s note to Israeli Prime Minister about disaster management
Posted: 02 Jun 2010

The secret memo is here.

The Washington way is to embrace its Jewish friend and hold tight
Posted: 02 Jun 2010

Washington’s aim in life seems to be to protect its little mate, Israel. Sweet. Here’s a quote from a few days ago that can’t be forgotten:

“The situation is that they’re so isolated right now that it’s not only that we’re the only ones who will stick up for them,” said an American official. “We’re the only ones who believe them — and what they’re saying is true.”

Who cares about truth? The American way is to back Israel to the hilt. And this has nothing to do with Jewish donations, the Zionist lobby, the mid-term elections and a deluded view of American interests? No, not at all.
The Cable has the full picture:

As Monday’s deadly naval commando raid off the coast of Gaza escalated from a regional incident to an international crisis, U.S. and Israeli officials scrambled to contain the damage, working at the highest levels to forge a common diplomatic position and preserve indirect peace talks that took months of painful negotiations to bring about.
U.S President Barack Obama has been personally and deeply involved in the U.S. response, speaking with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu three times since the crisis began.
“There’s an intensive effort being made here to make sure this incident doesn’t have any effect on our common interests,” an Israeli official told The Cable on background basis.
In their first call, Netanyahu simply informed Obama that he wouldn’t be able to make his planned trip to Washington. In their second call, the Israeli prime minister gave a detailed explanation of what happened on the Miva Marmara, the Turkish vessel where Israeli troops say they were attacked with knives, wooden clubs, and long metal rods-and fought back with lethal force, killing at least 10 activists. The two leaders’ third call was to discuss and coordinate strategy on how to deal with Monday’s emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, which early Tuesday morning issued a statement on the incident that represented something less than what Turkey and Arab countries had demanded.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak over the phone, and there have been a flurry of other contacts as well, with Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren having conversations with top National Security Council staff and others.
The U.S. effort to pare down the language of the Security Council statement condemning “acts” related to the effort was also a success, according to the Israeli official.
“Definitely the Americans were making an effort, maybe they didn’t get as much as we hoped, but they got a lot,” the official said.
“We’d like to express our thanks to the United States that worked behind the scenes to water down the [statement] at the United Nations,” said Mark Regev, an Israeli government spokesman.
Those efforts were led by U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and her deputy, Alejandro Wolff.  A key point of contention in the Security Council was whether there would be an outside investigation of the Miva Marmara affair, or whether it would be sufficient that Israel conduct its own inquiry. The United State has “every confidence that Israel can conduct a credible and impartial, transparent, prompt investigation internally,” Wolff told reporters today.
Although Israel has not issued any official reaction, the officials saw three main changes between the first draft circulated by Turkey and the final draft adopted, which they credit to the work of the U.S. delegation. First, there was no mention of an independent investigation. Second, there was no time limit placed on the investigation. Third, there was no direct condemnation of Israel.
Overall, the Obama administration is “trying to contain things, trying to calm things down,” the official said, pointing to the fact that the president’s Middle East peace envoy, former Senator George Mitchell, is heading back to the region tomorrow.
The White House announced the visit as a presidential delegation to the Palestinian investment conference. The delegation will include Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin, top USAID official Alonzo Fulgham, Mitchell’s deputy Mara Rudman, and Ziad Asali, president of the American Task Force on Palestine.
The conference is scheduled for Thursday, and the proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are expected to resume, with Mitchell mediating on Friday in Jerusalem and then on Saturday and Sunday in the West Bank.
The main goal of the intensive U.S.-Israel communications on the Gaza incident is how to contain this incident to make sure it doesn’t have an effect on the proximity talks, the Israeli official said. For now, the Palestinian Authority hasn’t said it will pull out of the talks, and the Israeli position is full steam ahead. “From our point of view, there’s no reason to postpone.”
“I don’t think this has to interfere at all negatively on the peace process,” said Regev. “We want to see the talks succeed.”
“I think that containing Hamas can be an important element in moving forward with the peace process,” he added.
The Gaza flotilla incident has put the Obama administration in the difficult position — trying to support its chief regional ally, Israel, while being seen as an honest broker in Israel-Arab relations and foiling the efforts of another important Middle East ally, Turkey, to punish Jerusalem.
Accordingly, the State Department’s latest statement supports Israel’s drive to keep control over the investigation, while also trying to put the focus back on the proximity talks.
“The United States deeply regrets the tragic loss of life and injuries suffered among those involved in the incident today aboard the Gaza-bound ships.  We are working to ascertain the facts, and expect that the Israeli government will conduct a full and credible investigation,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a statement, “Ultimately, this incident underscores the need to move ahead quickly with negotiations that can lead to a comprehensive peace in the region.”

But how to read Hillary Clinton’s comment over Gaza when she said the situation was “unsustainable and unacceptable”?

Straight from the mouth of the IDF
Posted: 02 Jun 2010

IDF Global PR:

Sneak preview of our impartial investigation: “Israel’s response was proportionate and justified”

See: www.antonyloewenstein.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *