Hair-curling demo in support of flotilla raid outside Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv

Posted: 01 Jun 2010

Wow. What has Israel become? Remember all those people who trashed Max Blumenthal a year ago for his “Feeling the Hate” video from Jerusalem? Maybe Blumenthal was on to something. But the messenger got trashed. Now this video at has a bunch of Israelis celebrating the raid the other night.
Something else about this demo that scares me. I think you have a complete political spectrum in Israel/Palestine, but only half the spectrum is empowered. So the liberal left wing begins inside Israeli society, marginally, and then is represented broadly inside Palestinian society (though yes they have their madmen). But the Palestinians have so few rights. The sane are  not allowed to mingle. So there’s no complete discourse, and you get this kind of madness, which is really about Jewish supremacy. 

OK you’re not brave enough to take to the seas; but can you go to 42d and 2nd?

Posted: 01 Jun 2010

Protest today outside the Israeli consulate. 5-8. Forgo your cocktails in the name of the hundreds Israel is holding, and however many it has killed/wounded, without identifying (Adam Shapiro: “I don’t really trust the figures. Frankly we don’t know… It’s as if they’re trying to make these people disappear.”). Here’s the facebook announcement. New York, 42d Street and 2nd Avenue.

Many flotilla activists still unaccounted for; access to lawyers being withheld

Posted: 01 Jun 2010

Although some initial reports are starting to appear as Israel releases participants of the Freedom Flotilla, many activists remain unaccounted for. The Free Gaza Movement just sent out this press release:

International Solidarity Movement volunteers today expressed grave concern over the fate of wounded, imprisoned and missing flotilla activists.
The group said, with an information blackout from Israel preventing news of their plight reaching the media, speculation is mounting about the Internationals’ safety.
Theresa MacDermott (Scotland) Ewa Jasiewicz (Britain/Poland) and Caoimhe Butterly (Ireland) along with hundreds of other civilian passengers have not been heard from since before the Israeli attack on Monday morning.
Israel has today refused Free Gaza lawyers permission to make contact with the human Rights defenders.

Turkish PM Erdogan calls on Israelis to challenge their ‘bandit’ gov’t

Posted: 01 Jun 2010

The Turkish PM speaks to his country’s parliament:

“Unfortunately, what happened yesterday was a dark stain on the history of humanity. Staging an armed attack on aid ships, killing innocent people and treating civilians as if they were terrorists are nothing but a degradation of humanity and vile recklessness. Even warfare has its rules.”  [….]
The prime minister said Turkey would continue to support the Palestinian people. “We will not turn our back on Palestine, the Palestinians and Gaza,” he said. “No one should test Turkey’s patience,” he added. “Turkey’s hostility is as strong as its friendship is valuable.” Erdoğan said Israel had turned into a nation that creates instability in its region and called on the international community to intervene.
“There is an administrative mentality here that has adopted violence as its policy and that deems displaying acts of cruelty as legitimate. The illegal acts of the Israeli administration can no longer be covered up or ignored. It is time for the international community to say ‘enough already’.” [….]
Erdoğan also said Turkey has always stood against anti-Semitism and offered protection to the Jewish people when they were victims of violence and persecution. He said it was now the Israelis’ turn to do the same. He said the Israeli government, in lying, using deception, engaging in bloodshed and massacring the innocent, was damaging the people of Israel most. He also thanked the Turkish-Jewish community for its stance regarding Israel’s attacks.
Erdoğan urged Israelis to question the actions of their government. “It is damaging your country’s image by conducting banditry and piracy,” he said. “It is damaging the interests of Israel and your peace and safety. It is the Israeli people who must stop the Israeli government in the first place,” he added.

Ynet: 75 percent of flotilla passengers had a ‘knife in hand’

Posted: 01 Jun 2010

This is the latest and “greatest” Israeli version of events. It has been on the Hebrew site at YNet for hours. Funny, the English version makes it more clear that the captain is referring to all of the hundreds on board when he says “each one with a knife in his hand.”
How does he know this?”

‘I cocked my weapon when I saw that one was coming towards me with a knife drawn and I fired once. Then another 20 people came at me from all directions and threw me down to the deck below’
In the first interview since he was wounded in Monday’s raid on the flotilla, Captain R, who commanded the troops who boarded the Marmara via helicopter, spoke of the battle that took place on vessel.
According to R, hundreds of people who were on the boat took part in attacking him and his soldiers and they were forced to use weapons because of danger to their lives.

It has to be complete BS, but Israel is good at selling BS. By the way, it’s playing well with the Hebrew Ynet readers (from the comments.)
The commander R praises the mission and even gives the old “purity of arms” gloss: “R said that some 75% of the people in [sic] the vessel resisted violently, ‘each one with a knife in his hand.'”
Update: Washington Post is saying the same stuff!!! Its editorial:

THE ISRAELI commandos who landed on the deck of the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara off the coast of the Gaza Strip early Monday were totally unprepared for what they encountered: dozens of militants who swarmed around them with knives and iron bars.

Mossad chief says, Israel is a burden to US

Posted: 01 Jun 2010

Smarter people than me say that the lobby has become institutionalized; and that good journalists like my old friend Fred Hiatt are caught up in it not out of ideological commitment but because in Washington it’s the water everyone who cares about his/her career swims in. I bet Bill Keller operates that way?
Barack Obama? Walter Russell Mead? And the sad thing about the institutional lobby is that its liberal exponents, having checked their values/judgment at the coatcheck some time back, will just roll along with it till they really are dern sure that the rules have changed. Whereas a guy like David Remnick or Peter Beinart, they are more genuine in their degree of pro-Israel feeling, I think they’re actually Zionists; they bought it long ago, and therefore they’re more supple when they see Zionism exposed as supremacism. 
Long preamble. Here is Meir Dagan, head of the Mossad, saying in Haaretz what David Petraeus gets eviscerated for saying before the Congress. Because the lobby is operating here, not in Israel. (And Ehud Olmert can say apartheid, but Jimmy Carter can’t)

“Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden,” said Dagan, speaking before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Oh even Abe Foxman at J Post gets the story:

“What is becoming a pattern is that when the administration looks at America’s broader interests, it too often chooses to see the Israeli position as undermining those interests. Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s not as if other administration.”

Seham’s ‘Today in Palestine’ news digest

Posted: 01 Jun 2010 08:17 AM PDT

Below is my “Today in Palestine” news list. Unrelated to my Flotilla list. Flotilla or not, Israelis are still killing Palestinian men, women and children. In fact another baby died from the siege today. Nobody will hear about that.
Land Theft/Destruction and Ethnic Cleansing
Sheikh Jarrah: Time to act
Today is a difficult day for all of us, for the thousands who have stood over the months in protest in Sheikh Jarrah and to the tens of thousands who support this grave struggle, a struggle for the future of the society in which we live.  Today, adding to the physical police barriers in Sheikh Jarrah [the Jerusalem Magistrate/”Shalom” Court] Judge Ziskind added, in her decision, an additional barrier.
Through its decision the Court is attempting to prevent core [Sheikh Jarrah] activists from taking part in any public event connected to Sheikh Jarrah for five months and even to issue a sweeping order preventing the activists from even appearing in the neighborhood during this period. With this the Court, in no uncertain terms, stands with the Jerusalem Police and has joined its efforts to repress and crush the struggle. We know now, like in the past, such repression will only strengthen us as we stand in resistance to injustice.

Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment
July 9 – Celebrating our Victories, Planning for More!
Occupied Palestine – The Palestinian Civil Society Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) calls on people of conscience all over the world to unite for a BDS Media Day on 9 July 2010, the 5th anniversary of launching the BDS movement and the 6th anniversary of the International Court of Justice’s Advisory Opinion stating that Israel is to dismantle its illegal Wall and associated colonial regime.

Violence and Aggression/Siege Related Deaths
2 dead following Israeli incursion into Gaza
Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli forces entered Gaza east of Khan Younis and exchanged fire with fighters near the border, with two reported dead according to Israeli media.  Witnesses said Israeli forces shelled the area, hitting agricultural lands in the area of the sealed Kissufim crossing.

IOF shoots Palestinian elderly woman
Rafah, June 1, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) – Israeli occupation soldiers shot today a Palestinian elderly woman in Rafah, in south of Gaza Strip.  The Director of Emergency Services at Al-Shefa Hospital , Dr. Muawiya Hassanein, said that the medical staff transferred Salma Shlouf, 65, to the hospital, saying that she was critically injured.  Eyewitnesses said that the woman was shepherding her sheep near the Gaza-Israel border.

Gaza’s siege kills victim number 374
Gaza, June 1, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) –The Director of Emergency Services at Al-Shefa Hospital, Dr. Muawiya Hassanein, said that a Gazan infant, 7 months, was dead today as his family was unable to travel to Israel to be treated there, SAFA news agency reportd.
Hassanein said that  the patient infant who was suffering from brain tumor.  He added that the death toll because of siege reached 374 patients, calling to end the siege.

Al Mezan: Israel escalating attacks against Gaza towns, fishermen
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Israel’s ramp up in airstrikes targeting the Gaza Strip continue to harm civilians, workers and fisherman, the Al-Mezan Center for Human rights said Sunday, warning of the consequences of “international silence on the human rights conditions in Gaza.”

Official says settlers verbally assault locals
Salfit – Ma’an – Israeli residents living on the illegal West Bank settlement of Ari’el reportedly verbally assaulted residents of the Eskaka village nearby, in the Salfit governorate, an official said Tuesday.  Head of the village council, Samir Haris, said residents were also threatened by the settlers.  Ari’el, established as an Israeli only community in 1978, is 17 kilometers east of the Green Line, inside Palestinian territory. In 2007, the Israeli rights group Peace Now said it had a population of 16,613. It is the fifth largest illegal settlement in the West Bank, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the “capital” of the West Bank, which Israel terms Judea and Samaria , in January 2010.

Officer to Arab student: Remove head cover
Israeli Arab on Breaking the Silence tour to Hebron says was asked to remove ‘Muslim indicators’ for own personal safety. ‘This event is a reminder of Hebron ‘s prevailing policy of institutionalized ethnic separation backed by Israel ‘s police, state’s authorities,’ say Association for Civil Right in Israel .,7340,L-3896463,00.html

Palestinian denied entry into Hebron over hijab
Hebron – Ma’an – Israeli forces reportedly denied a Palestinian peace activist with Israeli citizenship access to Tal Rumeida in Hebron ‘s city center on Sunday, for refusing to remove her head scarf, witnesses said.  The woman, who preferred to remain anonymous, was apparently given the choice of removing her hijab or being barred from entering Tal Rumeida, the witnesses said.

An order targeting Palestinians without papers in the West Bank threatens hardship for Jordan
AMMAN, Jordan — While Jordan and Israel often find themselves politically at odds, it’s rare to find an official group in the Kingdom publicly advocating direct support of armed resistance forces in the Palestinian territories. Jordan is, after all, one of two Arab nations that has a peace agreement with Israel .  Yet as concerns mount that a new Israel military order could potentially deport thousands of Palestinians to Jordan , a veterans’ organization here called to supply Palestinian militants with an “effective missile system.” In a recent statement, the National Committee of Retired Military also said the militia forces law should be reactivated to counter the new Israeli measure.

Humanitarian Issues/Human Rights/Restriction of Movement/Siege
Egypt opens Gaza border after Israel ship clash
* Egypt opens vital border lifeline for Hamas-run Gaza
* People rush to crossing that was mostly shut since 2007
* Follows bloody Israeli seizure of blockade-running ship

“No other options:” Gaza’s tunnel industry
GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) – Life can be hard working in these tunnels, and it is always at risk. But many have no choice but to work in them, particularly since mid-2007, when Israel and Egypt , with the help of the international community, imposed a siege of staggering severity on the 1.5 million humans in the Gaza Strip.

“End the siege on Gaza now” say MEPs visiting the territory
A delegation of nine Members of the European Parliament, from the Foreign Affairs, Budgets and Development committees, left the Gaza Strip on Friday after a fact-finding mission hosted by UNRWA. The delegation monitored and assessed the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the impact of EU financial assistance.  The visit was made possible thanks to the support of the Egyptian authorities whose invaluable help was highly appreciated by the delegation.

Siege on Gaza: 1.5 million imprisoned persons
Since June 2007, when Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip, Israel has imposed a tight blockade on the area. According to Israeli officials, the objective of the siege is to bring down the Hamas government and lead to the release of Gilad Shalit.

The siege on the Gaza Strip: 1.5 million people imprisoned
Since June 2007, when Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip, Israel has imposed a tight blockade on the area. According to Israeli officials, the objective of the siege is to bring down the Hamas government and lead to the release of Gilad Shalit. The siege thus constitutes collective punishment of the civilian population, and as such it is unlawful.  Even after the withdrawal, Israel controls the Gaza Strip

Single Gaza crossing to open
Gaza – Ma’an – The Kerem Shalom crossing was opened on Tuesday morning for the transport of 70-80 truckloads of goods, following a complete closure of all crossing points the day before.  Palestinian crossings official Raed Fattouh said Israeli officials informed him that the trucks to be permitted into the Strip for the day would be loaded with goods destined for the agricultural sector, as well as one truck of cement for INGO reconstruction projects.

Ahmed Moor: Breaking the Israeli-Egyptian Siege of Gaza
The medieval Israeli and Egyptian siege of the Gaza Strip has now entered its fifth year. It was on January 25, 2006 that the Palestinian people in Israeli-occupied Gaza and the West Bank collectively decided to democratically oust Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party from power. Like Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan and Ahmed Chalabi in Iraq, Mahmoud Abbas is America’s guy — which in many ways means he’s Israel’s guy, too. So when Hamas was democratically elected to root out the corruption that festered, burst and still oozes under Abbas, the Fatah militia trained and armed by General Keith Dayton attempted a coup. When that failed, the great powers decided to collectively punish 1.5 million Palestinians (half of them children) for enacting their moral and human right — their right to vote.

Political Developments
PA refrains from suspending Israel proximity talks, despite Israeli raid on Gaza flotilla
PA did however issue statement condemning Israel for the “massacre” and calling for the culprits to be put on trial for their “crime.”

Questions over US policy on Middle East conflict
Even before the Gaza aid flotilla crisis, both Barack Obama, the US president, and Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, had been trying to erase the perception of strained US-Israel relations. But among some quarters in Washington , questions over unqualified US support for Israel remain. The US military is starting to show concern over the cost of supporting Israel , at a time when it has thousands of troops in the Arab and Muslim world. Al Jazeera’s Clayton Swisher explains. (June 01, 2010)

Mossad chief: Israel gradually becoming burden on U.S.
Meir Dagan says Israel has turned from an asset to a burden; Senior IDF officer says the IDF didn’t sabotage a Gaza aid ship in bid to avoid humanitarian crisis.

Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest

Border Control / Did someone say Goldstone, Akiva Eldar
Will the blood spilled on the flotilla’s decks flush away the Goldstone report, or carry it to The Hague ?
As Palestinians unite in anger, pressure grows on Fatah and Hamas to reconcile

ANALYSIS: Israeli aggression has undermined prospects for peace talks and boosted extremists, writes Michael Jansen.  ISRAEL ’S USE of force against the flotilla of boats seeking to deliver aid to Gaza has reaffirmed popular Palestinian unity and strengthened pressure on Fatah and Hamas to reconcile.  The Saudi and Egyptian governments, which have been promoting reconciliation, are likely to revive their efforts to get the divided Palestinians to quickly resolve their differences and establish a solid front to counter Israeli policies and actions regarded as harmful to the entire Palestinian people.

The U.S.S. Liberty and the culture of impunity, Philip Weiss

The attack on the USS Liberty is one of the great enigmas of US-Israel relations. On June 8, 1967, in the middle of the Six-Day War, Israeli planes attacked an American spy ship, the Liberty , that was in international waters off the coast of Egypt , listening in on secret communications. The attacks appeared to be deliberate, involving numerous passes on a clearly-marked American boat, strafing and napalming. The attack killed 34 Americans and produced very little by way of investigation. It was deemed an accident from the start, although many American officials doubted this conclusion.

The WASP Penchant for Zionism, MICHAEL NEUMANN

First things first: Yves Engler’s Canada and Israel : Building Apartheid  ( Vancouver , British Columbia .  Red Publishing 2010.  167 pages.) is the only book that need be written on Canada ‘s policies towards Israel .   It is clear and pursues the subject at some depth.   It is the most carefully documented book relating to the Israel/Palestine conflict I have ever read.   Its analyses are perceptive and measured.

Iraqi civilian toll in May highest this year (AFP)

AFP – The number of Iraqi civilians killed in acts of violence in May was the highest monthly tally so far this year, figures released on Tuesday showed.*

Monday: 9 Iraqis Killed, 29 Wounded

At least nine Iraqis were killed and 29 more were wounded in the latest violence. Meanwhile, U.S. troops held Memorial Day observations at a former Saddam palace located at Camp Victory . Also, thousands of Iraqis, at the behest of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, protested the Israeli attack on a Gaza-aid flotilla and used the demonstration to chant against the United States as well.

Iraq arrests two over Baghdad hotel bombs (Reuters)

Reuters – Iraqi security forces said on Monday they had arrested two suspected al Qaeda militants for the January bombing of three Baghdad hotels in which 36 people died.*

Iraq court approves election result

Supreme court approval of March 7 results pave way for formation of new government.

Iraq’s Sunni insurgent groups gather to plot comeback amid political crisis

BAGHDAD — Seven years after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, dozens of Iraqis representing various insurgent groups checked into a five-star hotel in Istanbul this spring to plot a comeback.

Breaking the Siege against Iraq: My Mother’s Journey, Zarathustra

People tend to forget that the policy of breaking the will and determination of people through brutal sieges started with Iraq, when at the time the UN imposed an illegal inhumane embargo on Iraq that eventually crippled Iraq and caused the death over a million Iraqis including over 500,000 children. Israel Copied it’s master and is following the same exact tactics to break the will of People of Gaza and kill as many Palestinians as it can (indirectly and directly).

U.S. and Other World News

US hegemony in Middle East is ending | Chris Phillips

A recent arms deal between Russia and Syria has raised the prospect of a new cold war in the Middle East. Foreign Policy’s Josh Landis, for example, suggests that unconditional US support for Israel will draw Moscow back into its pre-1989 role as supporter and arms supplier for the enemies of Tel Aviv and Washington.

Study points to inequality in Arab healthcare

BEIRUT: Inequality in healthcare continues to grow in the Arab world, in spite of generally improving facilities, according to a leading regional health expert, according to a study made available by the American University of Beirut (AUB) on Monday.

Arabs are more nuanced in judging America’s behavior

For more than two decades, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been the core element that has shaped Arab public opinion of the United States . But the tenure of President George W. Bush and the Barack Obama phenomenon have taught us that new factors are now shaping how millions of Arabs view the US .

Hossam el-Hamalawy, “Egypt: Can the Muslim Brotherhood Say ‘Down with Mubarak’?” (w. Videos)

I can almost swear this is the first time I hear the Muslim Brothers chanting publicly, “Down with Mubarak!” . . . Nyahahaha . . . the cowards. During the evening Palestine protest in Ramses, whenever the Socialists chanted “Down with Mubarak,” followed by young MBs, you can see in the video MB organizers waving “No,” trying to suppress the chants and change them. Some of their members might have chanted in the morning “Down with Mubarak” (see above), but the group’s main leadership remains timid, cowardly, and compromising till the end vis-à-vis the regime. . . .

Israel’s flotilla actions vindicate Goldstone report

Posted: 01 Jun 2010

The flotilla is completely vindicating Goldstone. Note that the Israeli defense of its actions on the boat is exactly the same as its defense of its actions in Gaza: we had a right to inderdict their movements across international lines, we got severe provocation, we were being attacked by so-called civilians, no country could permit this to happen, we defended ourselves, just look at the video. And in Gaza the Israelis killed 1200-1400 with minimal loss of life on the Israeli side; and the numbers are similarly imbalanced for the Mavi Mamara.
And now the efforts to smear the activists on the boats as jihadists, which the Washington Post has taken up with zeal, reiterate the efforts to portray the Gazans as a crazed, extremist population.
The vindication for Goldstone is that anyone with eyes in her head knows that the flotilla action was wrong (as anyone with eyes knew that the Gaza action was wrong, though then the west was still in denial). And the Israeli-American dismissal of the Goldstone report is now exposed as defensiveness, covering up an atrocity. Who will question Goldstone’s conclusions now: that Israel targeted civilian infrastructure disproportionately, and without distinction between civilians and resisters? Israel has once again shown us the playbook. 
I said “resisters.” The flotilla outrage pushes the discourse further left. It opens the door on the argument to the left of mine, Michael Neumann’s argument, and that of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, that the people of Gaza have a right to resist occupation. For how many of us in a boat on the high seas, faced with commandoes descending from helicopters with guns, could resist not resisting them? I believe I would cower in a corner blithering about Partition and can’t we all get along, but as I saw in Egypt last year at the French Embassy sit-in, the Palestinian solidarity groups are not lily-livered, they include tough labor organizers and street-smart internationalists.
These folks don’t always take an attack lying down. Norman Finkelstein explained a while back that nonviolent resistance doesn’t mean complete passivity– that even Gandhi said that courage and valor were required on the part of those pursuing nonviolent resistance. I’m not defending those who took up steel bars during the attack; but I believe that many onlookers who are new to this issue will find that behavior understandable, and begin to question the lies they have been told about the Gazans. 
And who knows, in the end, people may end up talking about how the Gazans ended up there in the first place, the Nakba of 1948. The scales are falling.

‘Washington Post’ relies on Israel lobby group for statistical graphic about blockade

Posted: 01 Jun 2010

Our media are broken, corrupted. Look at these Washington Post graphics on the blockade of Gaza. For info, the Post credits the Israel Project, the Israel Defense Forces, and Gisha: Legal Center for freedom of Movement. That’s nuts. The IDF is a foreign army, and the Israel Project is an Israel lobby group that serves up propaganda over easy. You will say that Gisha is a Palestinian-solidarity group, but it is in the end an NGO, and an Israeli one, which, shockingly, seeks freedom of movement for an ethnic minority. Once again, we see the lobby’s influence in American discourse. Pervasive. Hard to say where it stops. I didn’t spot this: Matt Duss did.

Now US wants to be pariah state

Posted: 01 Jun 2010

Change you can believe in. Ben Smith at Politico says the U.S. is emulating Israel’s isolation:

For while much about the incident remains unclear, a day of carefully parsed statements from the White House and State Department left at least one irrefutable aftershock: With much of the world expressing fury over the raid, the contrast with Washington’s muted response could not have been more striking.
“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.”

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