Dear All,

The big story of the day in Israel today is not the boat to Gaza but Israel’s Foreign Minister’s speech at the UN, in which he declared that peace would take decades, maybe 3.  This at a time when Israel’s PM is supposedly trying to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians.  Netanyahu distanced himself from Lieberman’s remarks, saying, apparently, that Lieberman had not notified him of what he was going to say when addressing the UN.  I have not included info on this below.

But while I was searching for reports about today’s boat to Gaza, I learned from Ynet that Mairead Maguire had been denied entry into Israel.  That news was only in 2 of the dozen or so newspapers that I read on line—the one below in Ynet and in the Independent. 

As for the boat, I enclose 3 reports (2-4), each slightly different from the other. 

None of the reports that I read noted one rather interesting point: the meaning of the name of the boat: Irene.  I would suspect that the name was selected intentionally by those on it, though I can’t affirm that.  Irene in Greek means peace.

And then there is item 5—a real whopper.  Turns out that Holland (and perhaps other European countries] give tax breaks to organizations supporting the IOF and colonies and colonists and evidentially the colonization of Palestine as a whole. 

Thank goodness for the boats.  At least they offer some positive information.



1.Ynet Tuesday, September 28, 2010

  Maguire. Persona non grata Photo: AP

     Nobel laureate detained at airport

Irish Peace Prize recipient Mairead Maguire deported after participating in May flotilla to Gaza, now arrives as member of women’s peace delegation,7340,L-3961531,00.html

Aviel Magnezi.

Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire was detained Tuesday at Ben-Gurion International Airport and once again faces deportation from Israel.

Maguire was one of the initiators of a flotilla to Gaza last May, sailing on the vessel Rachel Corrie, which was taken over by the Israeli navy without incident after the violence on another flotilla vessel, the Marmara, left nine activists dead. 

Maguire appealed the order to prevent her entry and was held at the airport until a decision was reached. She arrived Tuesday morning from Frankfurt as part of a women’s peace delegation which she was involved in organizing along with five other women Nobel Peace Prize laureates. 

The Interior Ministry emphasized that after she was deported following the last flotilla, an permanent order was issued to prevent her from reentering. She was also told, the Ministry said, that if she nonetheless insisted on entering, she must obtain a special permit in advance. 

The Ministry said Maguire had chosen to ignore the warning and came to Israel without a permit, so she was prevented from going through passport control and is now awaiting a flight that will take her back to her home country.  

Judy Williams, an American Nobel recipient who was expected to arrive to take part in the same delegation, said preventing entry to an activist like Maguire was very concerning. People who dedicate their lives to working for peace do not need to be considered a threat to security, she said. 

After she was taken off the Rachel Corrie, Maguire had supper with staff from the immigration department of the Interior Ministry who had questioned her earlier. She smiled and recalled a previous flotilla in which she had participated in December 2009.

Maguire was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her work in bridging between Catholic and Protestant communities in Northern Ireland. About two years ago she strongly criticized Israel and called for its exclusion from the UN, claiming its leadership had for many years ignored decisions by the international community about the conflict with the Palestinians.


2.  The Guardian Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Israel Israeli navy diverts Gaza-bound yacht Naval personnel board boat carrying 10 Jewish activists who were trying to break sea blockade

[also worth reading is the CNN report.

    Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem Tuesday 28 September 2010 11.52 BST 

The Israeli navy today boarded a yacht carrying 10 Jewish activists who were attempting to break the sea blockade around Gaza, forcibly diverting the vessel to the nearby port of Ashdod.

“There was no resistance, no violence,” an Israeli military spokeswoman said. “Before we boarded, we twice asked the captain not to cross the international line into Gaza waters but he refused.”

Contact with the passengers and crew via satellite phone was cut off.

The boat, the Irene, sailing under a British flag, was carrying 10 Jewish passengers and crew from Israel, Britain, the US and Germany.

It was also carrying cargo, including medical supplies, fishing equipment, textbooks and children’s toys, which the Israeli authorities said they would transfer to Gaza by land from Ashdod.

Shortly before the takeover, Miri Weingarten, media adviser to the Irene, spoke to the British captain, Glynn Secker. He reported that the boat was flanked by a small military boat bearing machine guns and a naval frigate, with which he was in contact.

The crew and passengers were warned that they were close to restricted waters and would not be allowed to proceed. They were told the Israeli passengers would be held legally liable.

Secker reported that the mood on board the Irene was high-spirited. All on board had pledged to resist the Israeli troops passively rather than physically.

Among the passengers are an Israeli Holocaust survivor, an Israeli whose daughter was killed in a suicide bombing in 1997, and a former Israeli air force pilot.

The boat’s sponsors include the UK organisation Jews for Justice for Palestinians, which is supported by Marion Kozak, the mother of the Labour leader, Ed Miliband.

The interception comes almost four months after Israeli naval commandos boarded a flotilla of ships to prevent it reaching the Gaza Strip, which has been under blockade by Israel for over three years. Nine Turkish activists were killed in the bloody assault, on 31 May.

The Irene is the first boat to get close to Gaza since the May flotilla despite a number of pledges to send aid by sea to the besieged territory. The Free Gaza Movement, which helped organise the flotilla, is planning a further attempt this autumn.

Since the assault on the flotilla, Israel has agreed, under international pressure, to ease the blockade of Gaza, allowing in a wide range of food and goods. However, badly needed construction materials are still limited, exports are still banned, and there is no free movement of people from Gaza into Israel.


3. Al Jazeera Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Israel seizes Gaza aid boat

Source: Al Jazeera and Agencies 

Voyage organised by European Jewish groups to condemn “collective punishment against 1.5 million Palestinians”.

Israeli soldier turned peace activist Itamar Shapira is among the eight Jewish activists on board the Irene [AFP]

An aid ship carrying eight Jewish activists from Europe, Israel, and the US was apprehended by the Israeli navy just miles off the coast of Gaza after being warned by a warship.

Navy commandos boarded the Irene, and then the passengers were led off the boat.

Rich Cooper, an organiser with Independent Jewish Voices, told Al Jazeera that his group is now demanding the immediate release of the activists.

The ship had left the port of Famagusta in Turkish-held northern Cyprus on Sunday afternoon.

The Israeli army had said it would offer to transfer the ship’s aid supplies to the port of Ashdod and then ask the crew to turn back.

Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, had repeatedly warned that Israel will intercept any ship nearing Gaza, which is governed by the Palestinian group Hamas.

“In the tradition of the civil rights movement … we assert our right to continue to Gaza under international law,” Glyn Secker, the Irene’s captain, told Al Jazeera on Monday.

Jewish gesture

The 10-metre catamaran was tiny in comparison with the six-ship May 31 aid convoy that contained 10,000 tonnes of aid and over 700 activists.

But the voyage was a gesture by left-leaning European Jewish groups to highlight what they see as a flawed Israeli policy of collective punishment against 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.

Yousef Rizka, a Hamas official, said: “The government has received Jewish activists heading to Gaza before. The government positively views all attempts to break the siege on Gaza”.

Israel eased its naval blockade following harsh international condemnation for storming the Mavi Marmara. The nine deaths aboard the Freedom Flotilla were a public-relations disaster for Israel.

Since then, groups from Iran, Ireland, Lebanon, and Libya, among others, have been trying to reach Gaza – with varying degrees of success.

Groups represented on board the Irene included the UK-based Jews for Justice for Palestinians and the German Jewish Voice organisation.

“The boat’s cargo includes symbolic aid in the form of children’s toys and musical instruments, textbooks, fishing nets for Gaza’s fishing communities and prosthetic limbs,” read a statement from European Jews for a Just Peace movement, the activist network that co-ordinated the voyage.

“We stand in the proud Jewish tradition of justice, of championing the rights of the downtrodden, of implacable opposition to prejudice and racism.”

Kate Katzenstein-Leiterer, a leader of the German Jewish Voice, was quoted in June as saying, “We want Israel to behave in a way that it can be recognised as a democratic state. Now it is recognised as a criminal state. That is not what we want.”

‘One future’

Reuven Moskovitz, an 82-year-old Holocaust survivor among the passengers on the British-flagged vessel, is a founding member of the Jewish-Arab village Neve Shalom (Oasis of Peace).

“We are two peoples, but we have one future,” Moskovitz said in a statement on the Jewish Boat to Gaza website.

Another passenger was Rami Elhanan, an Israeli whose daughter died in a 1997 suicide bombing at a Jerusalem shopping centre.

Eli Osherov, a reporter from Channel 10 in Israel, was also on board.

Andy David, Israel’s foreign ministry spokesman, described the voyage as “a provocative joke that isn’t funny”.

Secker, the Irene’s captain, told Al Jazeera Monday that the organisers had “a particular point to make, as the voice of Jews who have an alternative opinion to that of the Israeli establishment”.


4.  Haaretz Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Israel commandos ‘peacefully’ board Jewish Gaza-bound aid boat

IDF says commandos peacefully intercepted the ‘Irene’, the latest vessel to try to breach an on the Palestinian territory in the wake of Israel’s deadly flotilla raid in May.

By Amos Harel, Haaretz Service and News Agencies.

Israeli naval commandos have peacefully boarded a Jewish aid boat attempting to break a naval blockade on Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces said at 11:30 A.M. Tuesday.

“IDF naval forces recently boarded the yacht ‘Irene’, and it is currently being led to the Ashdod seaport along with its passengers,” the military said in statement that branded the boat a “provocation yacht”.

IDF chief spokesman Avi Benayahu deplored the fact that “naval forces and fighters are being diverted from our main mission” to “a surreal assignment” of intercepting a boatload of activists.

“Its entire intention was to generate media attention and (stage) a provocation. This matter is especially regrettable as we are talking about a group of Jews and of Israeli citizens, and even someone who has worn an IDF officer’s uniform.”

Before boarding, the navy transmitted two warnings to the boat, which refused to turn back and sailed further into the blockade area, the IDF said.

Shortly before, an Israeli warship had hailed the catamaran carrying Jewish activists toward the blockaded Gaza Strip, according to the group’s website.

An Israeli destroyer was cutting off the boat’s path and another small boat was also approaching, the ‘Jewish Boat to Gaza’ website posted minutes before reports of the interception.

At around 11:00 A.M., a navy boat shadowing the ‘Irene’ made radio contact with the activists, asking: “Where are you going? Where did you come from? What nationalities are on board?” according to the website

The crew replied:

“They came from Farmagusta, the nationalities on board are British, American, German and Israelis, we are going!” the website said.

The Irene is the latest vessel to try to breach the 3-year-old embargo on the Palestinian territory in the wake of the deadly Israeli raid on a Turkish-led flotilla in May, which drew international condemnation.

Earlier, Capt. Glynn Secker said he expected the navy to intercept the Irene, which is carrying nine Jewish activists from Israel and other countries.

“We will not obey them, we will not help them,” Secker said. “But we will not confront them physically. We will engage in no violence.”

Israel had asked the vessel, which Secker said was carrying medicines, therapeutic toys, water purifiers and outboard engines, to dock in an Israeli port. Cargo that receives security clearance would be transported to Gaza.

In the end, Secker predicted, the catamaran would be towed to the southern Israeli port of Ashdod, as has happened with other blockade-busting ships.

The Israeli foreign ministry has labeled the voyage a politically motivated provocation.

Nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed in May when Israeli commandos raided the lead ship in the Turkish-led flotilla. Both sides claimed they acted in self-defense.

The international condemnation triggered by the deaths forced Israel to relax its land blockade of Gaza but the naval blockade remains in force. Israel, with Egypt’s cooperation, imposed the blockade after Hamas militants seized control of Gaza in June 2007.

The measure was intended to keep out weapons, turn Gazans against their militant Hamas rulers and pressure the group to free a captive Israeli soldier. Those aims were not achieved but the embargo deepened the misery of Gaza’s 1.5 million people.

Activists behind the convoy involved in May’s deadly raid have said they will send a new flotilla of at least eight ships to try to break the blockade by the end of this year. The Freedom Flotilla Coalition, an umbrella group of pro-Palestinian activist behind the efforts, said no date has been set.


5.  [forwarded by Neta Golan]

Europe Offers Tax Benefits for Illegal Settlements

By David Cronin

BRUSSELS, Sep 28, 2010 (IPS) – Organisations raising funds to benefit the Israeli army and illegal settlements in the West Bank enjoy tax-exempt status in Europe, an IPS investigation has shown.

The Sar-El Foundation is one of several groups working in the Netherlands dedicated to supporting the Israel Defence Forces. It organises regular visits to Israel, where Dutch volunteers spend three-week periods training with the IDF.

Max Arpels Lezer, the foundation’s Amsterdam-based chairman, said that he tries to encourage volunteers to work in Israeli hospitals but if “that is not possible they can do civilian work on military bases.”

He has previously stated that while the volunteers do not become soldiers, “they help in the battle against the Palestinians.” But he would not comment when asked why he wishes to assist the Israeli army, given that a United Nations inquiry led by retired South African judge Richard Goldstone found that its troops committed war crimes during a three-week offensive against Gaza in 2008-2009.

“I don’t wish to answer the question,” he said. “We don’t talk about politics. Our organisation is a non-political organisation.”

Under Dutch law, foundations such as Sar-El are exempt from tax, and individuals giving money to them can deduct the donations from their income tax.

A similar group Collectieve Israël Action (Collective Action Israel) collects about eight million euros (11 million dollars) per year, according to its website. Among the projects it assists are training for Israeli soldiers, particularly on the applications of advanced technology. The CIA’s board of advisers includes Doron Livnat, director of Riwal, a supplier of cranes used in the construction of the massive wall that Israel has built in the West Bank. That wall was found to be illegal in a 2004 opinion issued by the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The Nachamoe Foundation, meanwhile, raises money for the upkeep of Israeli families. The foundation has admitted that some of the families live on Israeli settlements between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.These settlements violate international law; the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention forbids an occupying power from transferring part of its own civilian population into the land it is occupying.

Some groups in the Netherlands have categorised support for the IDF as “humanitarian aid”. Visie voor Israël (Vision for Israel) encourages its sympathisers to give donations that will be used to buy gifts such as backpacks for Israeli soldiers. A newsletter from the organisation says that the quantity of gifts provided has increased substantially since the Israeli army’s offensive against Gaza over the past two years.

Shuva is one of several Christian Zionist organisations working in the Netherlands viewing the foundation of Israel and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as the fulfilment of a Biblical prophecy. According to one of its 2009 newsletters, it has financed a school in Nofei Nechemia, an extension (frequently termed an “illegal outpost” by Israeli newspapers) of the Israeli settlement of Ariel the West Bank. Shuva has stated too that it helps hundreds of settlers establish themselves in four Israeli communities in the West Bank every year.

A spokesman for the Dutch inland revenue service said that the country’s tax rules do not contain any clauses relating to breaches of international law. He said that Dutch legislation allows non-profit organisations to apply for tax exemptions based on their stated goals. “At any given moment, the Dutch tax authorities may decide to revoke this favoured status” after examining the activities of those benefiting from it, he added. But the spokesman said he was unable to speak about the status enjoyed by any particular organisation.

Ghada Zeidan from United Civilians for Peace, a Palestinian solidarity group in the Netherlands, said it is “very difficult” to convince the authorities that they should take action against fundraising by pro-Israel organisations. “The problem is that there is a kind of culture of acceptance of it,” she added.

Earlier this year a campaign was launched in Britain to have the Jewish National Fund (JNF) stripped of its status as a charity. While the JNF presents itself as an ecologically minded body that plants trees in Israel, it has actively supported violence against Palestinians for many decades. One of its leading figures Yosef Weitz explicitly advocated in 1940 — eight years before the state of Israel was founded — that Palestinians should be forced out of Palestine. More recently, the JNF has concentrated much of its energies on settling Jews in the Negev, a process that has involved the uprooting of indigenous Bedouins, often by the destruction of their homes.

The latest accounts made public by the JNF in London say that its total income for 2008 amounted to 7.7 million pounds (12.2 million dollars). Another priority for the fund has been to help the Benji Hillman Foundation; set up in memory of a soldier killed when Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006, it offers accommodation to young people who travel from abroad to join the Israeli army.

A spokesman for the British revenue authority said he could not say if any investigations have been undertaken into the JNF’s activities.

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) — one of the organisations monitoring the JNF’s work — is seeking a probe into whether fundraisers for foreign armies can be considered charities under British law. Matthew Richardson, an ISM activist, noted that the JNF has powerful allies — David Cameron, the British Prime Minister — has agreed to be one of its patrons; so too did his predecessors Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. Richardson added: “The JNF is very embedded within the (pro-Israel) lobby and the political elite as a whole.” (END)

The state said that Marti and Chappell belong to the International Solidarity Movement, an organization “that supports an ideology that is anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian and universally revolutionary.” Haaretz 24/03/10 

Equality or nothing. — Edward Said

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