Tag Archives: Free Gaza Movement

Press intimidation, frivolous lawfare, and sabotage, it’s hasbarapocalypse

Flotilla2 boat to GazaYou’re looking at an underwater photo of the starboard propeller of the passenger ship “Juliano” berthed in Piraeus, Greece, waiting to sail with the “Stay Human” Freedom Flotilla II departing soon to break the siege of Gaza. Reports of sabotage babelfished, even as some flotilla participants quickly issued a retraction. As diver video documented, someone assailed the propeller shaft casing, luckily repairable, but Greek authorities could seize on the incident to delay the activists with an investigation, or insist on further inspections, using anticipation of sabotage to delay or forbid the voyage.

Whodunnit? Sooner than point the finger at whoever took the intelligence contract, better to focus on the flotilla’s irrepressible forward momentum. Notice how the Hasbara themes want to presage the relief effort’s dwindling relevance? Sabotage would grant Israel too easy success. You can’t kill activism but in the shadows.

Fortunately the flotilla vessels are arrayed at various Mediterranean ports, and the identities are being kept secret, much as the internet chorus would like to track them by satellite. So far the flotilla organizer strategies have been impeccable.

Media reports of nonviolence classes counter Israeli anticipation of violence.

The American boat’s decision to bring only a cargo of letters appears to have been a savvy maneuver around the US DOJ’s predictable enforcement of its anti-terrorism statutes. Yes, Hamas was democratically elected, but on the books it’s a terrorist entity and supporting it materially will result in charges. It seems inconceivable, but surprise seems to be a recurring judicial theme. The US delegation comprises the antiwar movements most luminary, I have to credit them now for not being too reckless. Where would the rest of us be, if they are behind bars?

Next I expect we will see the wit behind naming their boat after President Obama’s bestseller Audacity of Hope. What’s that going to do for his Google-metrics? Obama won’t be able to mention it again, without drawing reference to the Gaza relief mission he didn’t support.

The flotilla2 organizers don’t hope to provoke Israel, nor shame the IDF to “Stay Human,” they want to sail the the people of Gaza.

Meanwhile, Israel asserts its right to besiege Gaza, to starve, harass and demoralize the Palestinians in hope that eventually they’ll just want to leave. And that’s why the flotilla must not pass.

Gaza we are coming

Gaza we are comingPlans are once again underway for another attempt to run the blockade of Gaza. Two ships are set to sail from Lebanon today or tomorrow, despite intimidation from Israel –which worked to prevent the aid ship INFANTS OF GAZA scheduled to leave from Iran. As a result, the Israeli navy is maneuvering to intercept, as it did for the recent Libyan AMALTHEA, and the Irish RACHEL CORRIE before that. Israel is even preparing “Flotilla 13,” the Shayetet commandos who killed nine activists on the Mavi Marmara in May. If it does leave, the Lebanese convoy will consist of a ship named MARYAM, carrying only women and nuns, and the JULIA (the Naji Al Ali) carrying journalist and Reporters Without Borders. It’s hard to imagine what reception the journalists are intent to document, Israel can hardly surpass itself with brutality, so will it be news?

Meanwhile another flotilla is in the works for September, which may include Spanish footballers. Canadian activists have announced efforts to contribute a Canadian ship, and US activists are raising funds for an American ship, to be named “The Audacity of Hope,” after President Obama’s autobiographical self-promotion. Personally I think the pay-it-forward Nobel Prize to Obama paid squat. Obama couldn’t even muster outrage over Israel’s murder of the Freedom Flotilla activists, nor would he sanction an international investigation. Why credit him with any part of the rescue of the Palestinians of Gaza?

Naji Al Ali docked in LebanonThe naming of “Maryam” or Mariam, after the Virgin Mary is already being resisted by the Israeli press, which is referring to the ship by its previous identity JUNIA. No doubt the all-woman ship will present a challenge to the brutality-prone IDF.

The confusion over the identity of Julia/Junia may be part of the subterfuge meant to evade Israel sabotage which succeeded in hampering the Freedom Flotilla’s CHALLENGER I and II.

GAZA WE ARE COMING is the title of a documentary made about the earlier attempts to break the siege of Gaza by sea. The project is more complicated than you might think, having to avoid the MOSSAD at every turn. Each successive wave has involved bigger ships, so far, taken as prizes by Israel. Will a sovereign government finally step forward to provide official escort to a convoy?

The United Nations has ruled the siege of Gaza to be illegal. Israel itself pretends that Gaza is autonomous, thus the naval blockade cannot be a pretext to protect Israeli waters. Debates in the media about who’s in the right are merely charades.

Accounting for IDF missing intelligence

The results of Israel’s self-investigation of the Mavi Marmara Massacre are in: surprise, the IDF commandos did no wrong, but were set back by a deficiency of intelligence. It’s what many of us were already thinking, but there’s another punchline which Israel invites by pairing the deadly raid with IDF “intelligence” assets gone missing.
Infiltrators aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, seen on thermal video purporting to depict Israeli commandos being beat by Turkish peace activists
Six passengers of the humanitarian convoy are still unaccounted for. Rumors spread they may have been tossed off the ship, or languish in Israeli detention, but the trouble is, the six are also lacking for anyone missing them. Without friends or families registering concern, the convoy organizers can now deduce that the six were agents of Israel, who elected obviously to stay behind in Israel. Might this be because they were the principal provocateurs brandishing the pipes to give the IDF boarders pretext to fire upon the activists?

That would be a “pretext” in hindsight of course, because the record is emerging that the Israeli commandos were firing on the ship well in advance of attempting a boarding party. One of the objectives Israel had in detaining the activists was to prevent their account of the raid from reaching public eyes before the IDF could inundate Youtube with clips of what it planned to pretend had happened.

From the video spread round by the IDF, one gets the impression the Israeli soldiers were pummeled to within an inch of their lives. But in reality the soldiers emerged nearly unscathed. Is it possible the pipe-wielders were striking against the deck and serving also to keep the genuine activists at bay?

In fact the video footage which the activists succeeded in spiriting past their IDF jailers show the same scene devoid of what Israel described as a “lynch.” What may have looked like beatings, from Israel’s thermal camera aimed from beside the Marmara, did not register at all from up close. Curiously stealthy choreography.

While we look for the incriminating names, here are the US senators and congressmen who’ve signed on to letters drafted by AIPAC to show their support for Israel’s raid on the humanitarian convoy, and to urge President Obama to use the Security Council veto power to block any effort to investigate the killings.

Signatories to the Reid-McConnell Letter
on the Gaza Flotilla Incident

Total Number of Signatories: 85

As of June 18, 2010

Senator State Party
Alexander, Lamar TN R
Barrasso, John WY R
Baucus, Max MT D
Bayh, Evan IN D
Begich, Mark AK D
Bennet, Michael CO D
Bennett, Robert UT R
Bond, Christopher MO R
Boxer, Barbara CA D
Brown, Scott MA R
Brown, Sherrod OH D
Brownback, Sam KS R
Burr, Richard NC R
Burris, Roland W. IL D
Cantwell, Maria WA D
Cardin, Ben MD D
Carper, Tom DE D
Casey Jr., Bob PA D
Chambliss, Saxby GA R
Coburn, Tom OK R
Cochran, Thad MS R
Collins, Susan ME R
Conrad, Kent ND D
Corker, Bob TN R
Cornyn, John TX R
Crapo, Mike ID R
DeMint, Jim SC R
Dorgan, Byron ND D
Durbin, Richard IL D
Ensign, John NV R
Enzi, Mike WY R
Feinstein, Dianne CA D
Franken, Al MN D
Gillibrand, Kirsten NY D
Graham, Lindsey SC R
Grassley, Charles IA R
Hagan, Kay NC D
Hatch, Orrin UT R
Hutchinson, Kay Bailey TX R
Inhofe, Jim OK R
Inouye, Daniel HI D
Isakson, Johnny GA R
Johanns, Mike NE R
Johnson, Tim SD D
Kaufman, Ted DE D
Klobuchar, Amy MN D
Kohl, Herbert WI D
Kyl, Jon AZ R
Landrieu, Mary LA D
Lautenberg, Frank NJ D
LeMieux, George FL R
Levin, Carl MI D
Lieberman, Joseph CT I
Lincoln, Blanche AR D
Lugar, Richard IN R
McCain, John AZ R
McCaskill, Claire MO D
McConnell, Mitch KY R
Menendez, Bob NJ D
Mikulski, Barbara MD D
Murkowski, Lisa AK R
Murray, Patty WA D
Nelson, Ben NE D
Nelson, Bill FL D
Pryor, Mark AR D
Reed, Jack RI D
Reid, Harry NV D
Risch, Jim ID R
Roberts, Pat KS R
Schumer, Charles NY D
Sessions, Jeff AL R
Shaheen, Jeanne NH D
Shelby, Richard AL R
Snowe, Olympia ME R
Specter, Arlen PA D
Stabenow, Debbie MI D
Tester, John MT D
Thune, John SD R
Udall, Mark CO D
Vitter, David LA R
Voinovich, George OH R
Warner, Mark VA D
Whitehouse, Sheldon RI D
Wicker, Roger MS R
Wyden, Ron OR D

Colorado’s on board!

Signatories to the Poe-Peters Letter
on the Gaza Flotilla Incident

Total Number of Signatories: 292

As of June 21, 2010

House Member Party State
Ackerman, Gary D NY
Aderholt, Robert R AL
Adler, John D NJ
Akin, Todd R MO
Alexander, Rodney R LA
Altmire, Jason D PA
Andrews, Rob D NJ
Arcuri, Mike D NY
Austria, Steve R OH
Baca, Joe D CA
Bachmann, Michele R MN
Bachus, Spencer R AL
Barrett, Gresham R SC
Barrow, John D GA
Bartlett, Roscoe R MD
Barton, Joe R TX
Berkley, Shelley D NV
Berman, Howard D CA
Biggert, Judy R IL
Bilbray, Brian R CA
Bilirakis, Gus R FL
Bishop, Rob R UT
Bishop, Sanford D GA
Bishop, Tim D NY
Blackburn, Marsha R TN
Blunt, Roy R MO
Boccieri, John D OH
Boehner, John R OH
Bonner, Jo R AL
Bono Mack, Mary R CA
Boozman, John R AR
Boren, Dan D OK
Boswell, Leonard D IA
Boyd, Allen D FL
Brady, Kevin R TX
Brady, Robert D PA
Bright, Bobby D AL
Broun, Paul R GA
Brown, Corrine D FL
Brown, Henry R SC
Brown-Waite, Ginny R FL
Buchanan, Vern R FL
Burgess, Michael R TX
Burton, Dan R IN
Buyer, Steve R IN
Calvert, Ken R CA
Camp, Dave R MI
Campbell, John R CA
Cantor, Eric R VA
Cao, Anh “Joseph” R LA
Capito, Shelley Moore R WV
Cardoza, Dennis D CA
Carnahan, Russ D MO
Carney, Chris D PA
Carter, John R TX
Cassidy, Bill R LA
Castle, Michael R DE
Castor, Kathy D FL
Chaffetz, Jason R UT
Chandler, Ben D KY
Childers, Travis D MS
Coble, Howard R NC
Coffman, Mike R CO
Cohen, Steve D TN
Cole, Tom R OK
Conaway, Michael R TX
Cooper, Jim D TN
Costa, Jim D CA
Crenshaw, Ander R FL
Critz, Mark D PA
Crowley, Joseph D NY
Cuellar, Henry D TX
Culberson, John R TX
Davis, Artur D AL
Davis, Geoff R KY
Davis, Lincoln D TN
Davis, Susan D CA
DeLauro, Rosa D CT
Dent, Charlie R PA
Deutch, Ted D FL
Diaz-Balart, Lincoln R FL
Diaz-Balart, Mario R FL
Djou, Charles R HI
Donnelly, Joe D IN
Dreier, David R CA
Driehaus, Steve D OH
Ehlers, Vern R MI
Ellsworth, Brad D IN
Emerson, JoAnn R MO
Engel, Eliot D NY
Fallin, Mary R OK
Flake, Jeff R AZ
Fleming, John R LA
Forbes, Randy R VA
Foster, Bill D IL
Foxx, Virginia R NC
Frank, Barney D MA
Franks, Trent R AZ
Frelinghuysen, Rodney R NJ
Gallegly, Elton R CA
Garrett, Scott R NJ
Gerlach, James R PA
Giffords, Gabrielle D AZ
Gingrey, Phil R GA
Gohmert, Louie R TX
Goodlatte, Robert R VA
Gordon, Bart D TN
Granger, Kay R TX
Graves, Sam R MO
Grayson, Alan D FL
Green, Gene D TX
Griffith, Parker R AL
Guthrie, Brett R KY
Hall, John D NY
Hall, Ralph R TX
Halvorson, Debbie D IL
Hare, Phil D IL
Harman, Jane D CA
Harper, Gregg R MS
Hastings, Alcee D FL
Hastings, Doc R WA
Heinrich, Martin D NM
Heller, Dean R NV
Hensarling, Jeb R TX
Herger, Wally R CA
Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie D SD
Higgins, Brian D NY
Himes, Jim D CT
Hodes, Paul D NH
Holden, Tim D PA
Holt, Rush D NJ
Hoyer, Steny D MD
Hunter, Duncan D. R CA
Israel, Steve D NY
Jackson, Jesse, Jr. D IL
Jenkins, Lynn R KS
Johnson, Sam R TX
Johnson, Tim R IL
Jordan, Jim R OH
Kagen, Steve D WI
Kildee, Dale D MI
King, Peter R NY
King, Steve R IA
Kingston, Jack R GA
Kirk, Mark R IL
Kirkpatrick, Ann D AZ
Kissell, Larry D NC
Klein, Ron D FL
Kline, John R MN
Kosmas, Suzanne D FL
Kratovil, Frank D MD
Lamborn, Doug R CO
Lance, Leonard R NJ
Langevin, Jim D RI
Larsen, Rick D WA
Larson, John D CT
Latham, Tom R IA
LaTourette, Steven R OH
Latta, Bob R OH
Lee, Christopher R NY
Levin, Sander D MI
Lewis, Jerry R CA
Linder, John R GA
Lipinski, Daniel D IL
LoBiondo, Frank R NJ
Lowey, Nita D NY
Lucas, Frank R OK
Luetkemeyer, Blaine R MO
Lummis, Cynthia R WY
Lungren, Dan R CA
Mack, Connie R FL
Maffei, Dan D NY
Maloney, Carolyn D NY
Manzullo, Donald R IL
Marchant, Kenny R TX
Marshall, Jim D GA
Matheson, Jim D UT
McCarthy, Carolyn D NY
McCarthy, Kevin R CA
McCaul, Michael R TX
McClintock, Tom R CA
McCotter, Thaddeus R MI
McHenry, Patrick R NC
McIntyre, Mike D NC
McKeon, Howard “Buck” R CA
McMahon, Michael D NY
McMorris Rodgers, Cathy R WA
McNerney, Jerry D CA
Meek, Kendrick D FL
Mica, John R FL
Miller, Candice R MI
Miller, Gary R CA
Miller, Jeff R FL
Minnick, Walt D ID
Mitchell, Harry D AZ
Moore, Dennis D KS
Moran, Jerry R KS
Murphy, Patrick D PA
Myrick, Sue R NC
Nadler, Jerrold D NY
Neal, Richard D MA
Neugebauer, Randy R TX
Nunes, Devin R CA
Nye, Glenn D VA
Olson, Pete R TX
Ortiz, Solomon D TX
Owens, Bill D NY
Pallone, Frank D NJ
Paulsen, Erik R MN
Pence, Mike R IN
Perlmutter, Ed D CO
Peters, Gary D MI
Peterson, Collin D MN
Pitts, Joseph R PA
Platts, Todd R PA
Poe, Ted R TX
Polis, Jared D CO
Posey, Bill R FL
Price, Tom R GA
Putnam, Adam R FL
Quigley, Mike D IL
Radanovich, George R CA
Rehberg, Dennis R MT
Reichert, Dave R WA
Reyes, Silvestre D TX
Roe, Phil R TN
Rogers, Harold R KY
Rogers, Mike R MI
Rogers, Mike R AL
Rohrabacher, Dana R CA
Rooney, Tom R FL
Roskam, Peter R IL
Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana R FL
Ross, Mike D AR
Rothman, Steve D NJ
Royce, Ed R CA
Ruppersberger, C.A. Dutch D MD
Ryan, Paul R WI
Salazar, John D CO
Sanchez, Linda D CA
Sarbanes, John D MD
Scalise, Steve R LA
Schakowsky, Jan D IL
Schauer, Mark D MI
Schiff, Adam D CA
Schmidt, Jean R OH
Schock, Aaron R IL
Schwartz, Allyson D PA
Sensenbrenner, James R WI
Sessions, Pete R TX
Sestak, Joe D PA
Shadegg, John R AZ
Sherman, Brad D CA
Shimkus, John R IL
Shuler, Heath D NC
Shuster, William R PA
Simpson, Mike R ID
Sires, Albio D NJ
Skelton, Ike D MO
Slaughter, Louise D NY
Smith, Adrian R NE
Smith, Christopher R NJ
Smith, Lamar R TX
Space, Zack D OH
Spratt, John D SC
Stearns, Cliff R FL
Sullivan, John R OK
Sutton, Betty D OH
Teague, Harry D NM
Terry, Lee R NE
Terry, Lee R TX
Thompson, Glenn R PA
Thornberry, William R TX
Tiahrt, Todd R KS
Tiberi, Pat R OH
Titus, Dina D NV
Tonko, Paul D NY
Turner, Mike R OH
Upton, Fred R MI
Walden, Greg R OR
Wamp, Zach R TN
Wasserman Schultz, Debbie D FL
Waxman, Henry D CA
Weiner, Anthony D NY
Westmoreland, Lynn R GA
Whitfield, Edward R KY
Wilson, Joe R SC
Wittman, Rob R VA
Wolf, Frank R VA
Yarmuth, John D KY
Young, C.W. Bill R FL
Young, Don R AK

MV Rachel Corrie outsmarts Israeli navy, Hasbara pundits, US media, itself


All eyes are on the MV Rachel Corrie, but where are the pictures?! There hasn’t been a photograph of the relief ship since she left Ireland, even then in darkness. Worrying everyone that her attempt to run the Gaza blockade would be cloaked like the USS Liberty, the Freedom Flotilla straggler has pulled a fast one and approached Gaza from the East, visible from the coast of Egypt, not really.

At 4AM GMT one of her support groups Tweeted that the MV Rachel Corrie had passed Alexandria. Curious geometry that. By latitude, I could be said to round Malta everyday. The Corrie passed nothing and no one.

Is it a testament to the Zionist influence over not just the US media but the international media, that there are no live correspondents awaiting the Rachel Corrie? Even paparazzi stringers could make a fortune if they hired a boat to accost what must surely be the most famous ship since the maritime misadventure of the Sea Shepherd Society’s Ady Gil.

Free Gaza Freedom Flotilla flagship leaves Ireland for GazaThe MV Rachel Corrie set off from Ireland in darkness, prohibiting a public sendoff and certainly any good pictures. Their strategy to confront the Israeli navy during daylight presumes they will be able to cache whatever footage they get of their interception. Without third party witnesses, whatever befalls the relief ship will never see the light of day, even in the light of day.

I’ll admit it, we held a local protest on Monday in response to Israel’s violent attack on the Freedom Flotilla. It was a decent turnout for having been spontaneous, but I didn’t take any pictures, and we got no press. The only evidence that it happened rests with the cars which drove by, the passersby who approached us to defend Israel being right no matter what, and our own memories of feeling like we did something. I hate that kind of activism.

If an activist pushes a tree over in the woods, but nobody is there to see it, that gesture hasn’t activated anyone.

Photos of the Rachel Corrie have been so sparse that media outlets are still using the image used on the Corrie’s unveiling, featuring a Photoshopped logo on her stern. Her previous name was still the Linda, but enthusiastic activists no doubt wanted to get the ball rolling.

UPDATE 6/5: And there she is finally, we can now see her being guided into port by Israeli pilots. If the IDF account is to be believed, the activists offered the boarding party a ladder. So there it was, broad daylight, not a reporter present, in international waters where observers would have had every right to be.

Was all the reaction to the violence visited upon the Mavi Marmara all bluster? Did the various Free Gaza enterprises receive additional donations or no? Italy ad Greece are teeming with multimillion dollar motor yachts with helipads which could have steamed to the scene.

Apparently online fans didn’t get the memo that the cruise of the Rachel Corrie was to come to naught. Neither Al-Jazeera, Russia Today or Press TV were preparing for breaking news. To say nothing about CNN or Sky. Not even in Gaza were authorities preparing for an auspicious arrival.

Did it happen? I was beginning to wonder if the MV Rachel Corrie existed at all. Imagine donors and well-wishers and even the seasick crew told this is about aid, not publicity. It’s about one shipload, not the hundred ships Gaza needs. It seemed a cruel joke to make Gazans hopeful based on an effort that was never tangable, and then ultimately would never reach them.

Did the Rachel Corrie really want to get through? Is it enough to travel the ocean to place your offering at the feet of the wall, as opposed to trying to pierce what you accuse to be an illegal blockade? What do you gain by submitting to your assailant, especially if no one’s watching? This humanitarian effort for the people of Gaza became like a Frisbee thrown vaguely in their direction. Except the Palestinians aren’t at liberty to run and catch it. From afar we can only shout, “Sorry!”

Flotilla video evidence escapes Israel, IDF has to conduct pantie raids now

Norman Finkelstein mentioned anticipated photographic footage that may have escaped confiscation by Israel which has been monopolizing the narrative with their selective accounts. A released Irish activist recounts how nonviolent resistance on the Challenger allowed time for an Australian journalist to secret what she had filmed. We await the unveiling of her evidence in Istanbul. In the meantime some video has escaped from the Mavi Marmara.

Which was more awesome: power of nonviolence, or right of self-defense?

IDF raid on Mavi Marmara, Freedom Flotilla
Give praise to Allah where praise is due
 
As the Freedom Flotilla made its slow approach last week, a popular Huffpo article pronounced the convoy a testament to the awesome power of nonviolence. That sentiment went about as viral as activist-geeks can get. But the blockade running denouement proved something of the opposite, didn’t it? I hope the sanctimonious pacifist will be brave enough to admit it. The Muslim Brotherhood bravely charging the Israeli navy was surely the definition of martyr, if anyone has ever earned it. Without pushing the IDF to bare its authoritarian fangs, there would have been no story, no outrage, the end. An entirely compliant convoy would have been led by the nose to Ashdod and diplomatic compromise. Neither Gandhi nor King nor Mandela gained without a massacre they didn’t provoke. It’s a slander to their legacy that nonviolent movements have been co-opted by religious purists who subordinate social justice to self-fulfilment, generally in the guise of your post-earthly reward. Labor organizers used to curse the industrialists’ first line of union busters, the churches which practiced appeasement and promised “pie in the sky when you die, by and by.”

We may view and review the IDF night vision tapes which recorded the hardly nonviolent reception given Israel’s would-be swashbuckling commandos. Those convoy defenders delivering the first blows may appear to be having way too much fun for our sense of propriety. But it’s hard to begrudge men who’ve suffered under the Israeli boot, perhaps even Israeli torture, who’ve never gotten closer to their oppressors than an Israeli sniper’s range would allow. Perhaps they have loved ones to avenge, or ideals higher than secular humanists can credit. Whatever hatred or anger, the bravery it took to lift metal pipes against modern firepower is undeniable. And just like the stone-throwers of their youth, this is the indomitable spirit that buoys their survival. Without this fight, their numbers would entropy to servitude and attrition, lifeless bodies suspended on their invader’s web, to feed the occupier’s young until they are gone.

From our church pews and academic perches we can supplicate they heed the road most honorably traveled. What do Westerners know of pragmatics? At best our reality is theoretical. Really, who are we, we are always wrong. We can neither elect presidents who matter, nor pass legislation that does not agree with our corporate landlords. And we presume to advise on struggles that mean life and death.

Am I saying that there is no efficacy to nonviolent action? Not at all. But I do say, give human nature and righteous anger its due. Nonviolent passivity is for sheep. It will lead us all to an unceremonious death. Wolves count on sheep that don’t bite back. If humans can be divided between wolves and sheep, be upfront with the sheep and perhaps you’ll rouse in some of them a wolf’s courage. That is what will lift your collective humanity.

At this moment a second wave of the Freedom Flotilla is poised to make a second go at Gaza. The MV Rachel Corrie waits in mid Mediterranean for reinforcements to join it, whereupon it too will push Israel’s buttons. Rumors are already circulating that a diplomatic compromise may already have been reached to divert the aid supplies through Egypt. Of course that rumor was spread about the recent flotilla. From the horses mouth however, the Rachel Corrie crew are expressing the desire to avoid a similar disaster, they vow to sit peaceably with arms raised lest IDF interlopers mistake resistance.

This may be the false pacifist bluster that led Israel to underestimate the fighting spirit of the Mavi Marmara’s above deck. Or it may be genuine. Which Israeli game theorists will be eager to plug and play. The MV Rachel Corrie wheelhouse will be handed to the IDF just as a harbor pilot boards to guide a ship into port, IDF gunboats serving as tugboats, aid supplies unloaded at Ashdod, then transferred through an approved border crossing with as much fanfare as collaboration with occupiers will garner. Humanitarian relief delivered but no blockade breached. A Pyrrhic victory that means private interests will forever subsidize the bill which Israel owes.

I have more faith than that in the Free Gaza Movement, they’ve played their cards superbly, if of course lacking the visual aids which it would seem would greatly enliven media coverage. But I’m second guessing there too. Perhaps an imagined picture is better than the reality mundane. The public knows enough about what happened on the Mavi Marmara with just a sliver of video coverage. Even with IDF fine-tuned selective snippets, the public imagination can run with the truth. And organizers are not at liberty to praise the Marmara martyrs. So I will.

I was dismayed when heard on the Marmara’s last video stream, someone pleading with the “brotherhood” to cease their resistance because the activists were facing live ammunition. The admonition was in English, meaning most of the brotherhood would not understand it anyway. If you watched the continuous broadcast, it was almost exclusively in Turkish, suited to its main audience in Turkey. When participants wanted to testify in another language, many onscreen slunk their shoulders until the Turkish was back. Bilingual announcers who asked the hosts which language they should speak were always advised against English. So when the final plea was made to the “brotherhood,” the language seemed deliberately aimed at the Western viewer, a telltale conceit that would bolster Israel’s version of events.

For the most part, what Israel says happened is what happened, to the most significant degree. A lot of damning gunfire may have been omitted from the IDF tapes volunteered to skew public perception, but what pretext more did the brotherhood need to defend the ship against the surprise nocturnal invaders? None.

Just as Israel insists on its right to defend itself, it can hardly deny the convoy the same right.

What is utterly clear is that the Muslim brotherhood didn’t raise its arms chanting Kumbaya, neither did they lock arms to be trampled afoot. As the Israeli special-ops came down from the helicopters, the brotherhood gave them their best wallops. They had no guns, nor swords nor explosives nor booby-traps. They showed amazing restraint for the anger they carried. Yet in the face of overwhelming firepower they ran straight forward, some of them armed only with a plastic chair. I had practically to sympathize with the soldiers coming one at a time down the ropes. That brave first one certainly caught the brunt of a violent ride. Only an inhumanly ardent partisan could not feel pain for that solitary first Israeli battered like a rag doll. We are certainly never treated to videos which have shown that IDF soldiers might feel the pangs in the face of what the violence they are committing.

Flotilla not a Love Boat, it was a lynch, says Netanyahu, describing beating of IDF soldiers, not deaths of aid workers

What’s a lynch? I find it intriguing that Israel’s spin machine can drop an American pop culture reference like Love Boat, and simultaneously flub basic usage with “a lynch.” According to Israel, that describes what befell their crack-troop Mavi Marmara party-crashers. What does “a lynch” mean? Apparently someone feels at liberty to shorten Lynch Mob, or Lynching, to coin a new threat to Israel. But doesn’t it stretch credulity to imagine the IDF has never claimed to have been baited into an “ambush?”

Every modern military with a propaganda office, when it suffers a setback, attributes it to an ambush. When the US and Israel do it, it’s an attack; when our dastardly adversaries do it, it’s an ambush. Let’s set aside that the night watch on the Mavi Marmara’s deck might have been defending themselves. For the moment the IDF version of events is the only one Israel is allowing.

Ambush, trap, beating, getting jumped, wouldn’t these be appropriate descriptions for what Israel is asserting its night-vision video depicts? To lynch someone -it’s a verb- implies a hanging, extrajudicial, usually perpetrated by a crowd against a lone victim, unarmed. So where does the IDF get “lynch?”

To my mind, the Israeli-accented tender of “lynch” is feigned bad English, stuttered -I hope in shame- as perpetrator blames victim, but stuttered conveniently, to make the accusation less preposterous. Isn’t a rape victim who is too well versed in the crime perpetrated against her, less convincing than a victim who fumbles to comprehend the outrage she suffered? Poor Israel, its soldiers stepped into a, a, a lynch.

Emitted from military spokespeople however, one projects a reflexive followup “-that’s the ticket.”

I’m guessing grasping a straws like “lynch” is played for sympathy. And while I deconstruct the false unfamiliarity of otherwise precisely crafted English: PM Netanyahu’s mention of “Love Boat” had a bumbling Bush “the internets” ring to it. Anyone old enough to know the television show about the enchanted cruise ship knows there’s not “a Love Boat” but The Love Boat.

If the newly nouned “lynch” is intended to define a hate crime unique to anti-Semites, the motive fits with Israel’s insistence that first genocide, now holocaust, can only apply to Jews. Such an implication is aided by Netanyahu’s suggestion that the lynch was “plotted.” Because common understanding of mob misbehavior precludes a premeditated plot. This may reflect a naive dismissal of the responsibility of authorities who manipulated the lynch mobs and witch hunts, but dictionaries seldom chronicle the injustice of the victors who write the history. Conventional wisdom holds that lynchings were improvisational.

Perhaps the English speaking viewers are meant to associate the implicit racism of the term. Ambush after all doesn’t conjure the slightest whiff of antisemitism. But here’s where Israel’s liberal arts wordsmiths may have outsmarted themselves. While it’s true that thousands of African Americans were lynched through our nation’s history, to the average American who dwells not very often on shameful pasts, the definition of lynching encompasses simply an execution in lieu a trial. Even an unfair trial, or kangaroo court, can be called a lynching. A lynch mob is an enraged crowd meting vigilante justice, hanging high what to them is an indisputable wrongdoer. The overwhelming number of lynching victims in America’s lawless west were hunted criminals. While xenophobia may always have skewed the mob’s judgment against Indian, Chinese, Mexican, or Black, a lynching was not by definition about racial prejudice.

If the beating of the Israeli commandos illustrated a hatred, was it racist? One is meant to assume the motive was anti-Semitic, but I wonder if Arab-Israelies serving in the IDF, or foreign nationals or mercenaries, don’t garner antagonism as vociferous. The historic prejudice decried by ADL and holocaust remembrance stalwarts has been against Jews, but the world today reviles Israeli arrogance. The US has become universal despised, but American tourists are still assured the world hates America, not its people. It’s what we’re told, if even if it is untrue. I do not know of course if Israelis are proffered the same polite assurance.

Did Israel mean that the Freedom Flotilla was an attempted lynching of Israel’s international reputation? In that case, Israel’s predictable militant reaction made such a hanging a matter of assisted suicide. If the Israeli national character suffers irreparably, who’s going to be to bame?

Presuming to paint its soldiers into a lynching scene, which character does Israel assert they played? Were the IDF the horse thieves? Bandying about the connotations of lynchings makes for an interesting turning of the tables. Were the convoy defenders the ones pronouncing hasty judgment upon their dark-of-night assailants? Or were Israel’s commandos declaring themselves judge and jury on the alleged arms smugglers?

In cases of breaking and entering, the home field advantage is accorded the right to self-defense. A SWAT team might make the argument that identifying itself as law enforcement preempts a homeowner’s recourse to armed resistance, based on the principle that an arresting officer’s safety is inviolate. Israel may assert it was policing its border, but unfortunately last Monday it was operating beyond its border. What protection can a law enforcement function claim if outside its jurisdiction?

It might be well and good to say Israel reserves the right to protect itself from enemies anywhere in the world, but it can’t pretend its badge should command universal obeisance.

The Mavi Marmara had declared her intention to run Israel’s blockade, but hadn’t yet attempted the crossing. In fact the Freedom Flotilla was moving away from the contentious area at the time of Israel’s attack.

Who then was the victim of this “lynch?”

I’ll tell you why it’s lynch and not lynching. Because Israel’s soldiers weren’t killed, they were beaten. Not to diminish what might have been their adversaries’ worst intentions, but the gantlet the IDF commandoes received was not a hanging specifically, and not very effective in terms of proving fatal. On the other hand, the outcome was the killing of an as yet undisclosed multitude of civilians, unarmed to an extent that the killings can be defined as executions, the entire result already adjudged to have been a massacre.

Israel’s invention of “lynch” is an utterance which I believe betrays the sign of shame the world longs to see from Israel. Even as the public revels in watching the Israeli hubris on self-destruct, empathy has us hoping to see Israel grasp for its lost humanity. To describe the events on the Turkish passenger ship as a “lynch” is to fail to summon the chutzpah to bear false witness, to accuse the dead of capital murder. Neither does Israel dare to raise the specter that summary executions were committed that night at all.

There is a term to describe

a) Israel’s taking the law into its own hands by pirating a ship belonging to another nation while it sailed in international waters,

b) Israel’s soldiers not being a police force but an ideology-deputized posse,

c) opting in a confused fervor to punish outlaws thought to have been caught red handed,

d) issuing on the spot death sentences.

It’s called a mass lynching.

Israeli pirates commandeer Freedom Flotilla, kill, injure, unarmed activists

Although it had turned away from the coast, Israeli commandos boarded the Gaza Freedom Flotilla at 4am. Turkish TV is reporting two dead, thirty injured on the 600 passenger ship Mavi Marmara.
 
UPDATE: Israeli media reports 10 deaths, ships to be hauled to Israeli port instead of Egypt where reporters are waiting.

Hello London, Hello London. Warships hailing convoy in international waters


AT 23:00GMT, two Israeli ships are approaching IHH Mavi Marmara, drones heard overhead, satellite connection becoming interrupted. Passengers have donned life jackets, some prepare gas masks, maybe equipment Israel may prefer not reach Gaza. Descending on Freedom Flotilla: one large destroyer is visible, three total on radar. Challenger I reports being contacted as well. Blinking lights of something hovering above. Abbas Al Lawati writing from Marmara.
UPDATE: Inflatables approaching ship as communications cease.

Last tweets from ShiptoGaza-Greece aboard Eleftheri Mesogeios:

Live ammo fired against the ships from helicopters and zodiacs – both pass ships boarded by israeli forces

Eleftheri Mesogeios” is the only ship still not captured

All ships are boarded except Eleftheri Mesogeios

“Eleftheri Mesogeios” denies to clomply to orders from israeli navy and awaits instructions by the Greek government

As navy stalks Gaza Freedom Flotilla, Israeli measures already effective


First among the Israeli navy’s expressed strategies to confront the international relief convoy approaching Gaza was to “pick off the participants before they could join the convoy.” Today only five of intended nine ships have made it to the rendezvous. Sailing from Ireland, the MV Rachel Corrie has been impeded by propeller trouble, while both Challenger I and II suffered irregularities with their steering hydraulics. Suspicions of sabotage are not assuaged by fact that the healthier Turkish ships were not as easily accessible to agents. Less expected was the move, with the cooperation of Greek Cyprus, to prevent key passengers of the convoy to join the ships. Most predictable: media silence.

The Israeli navy has dubbed its anti-flotilla mission “Operation Sky Winds” and released this action plan:

The planned offensive includes four stages;

1. Warning stage; the navy will try to stop the ships from reaching a “line” dubbed
as a red line, should the ships reach the designated line, they will be warned and informed that they “violate the law”.

2. Boarding and controlling the ships; should the ships fail to adhere to the demands of the navy, the navy will attack and control the eight ships carrying nearly 800 activists. The ships will then be taken to Ashdod Port and the activists will be detained in a huge tent installed for this purpose.

3. Deportation by air; Israeli soldiers and policemen would order the detained activists to sign statements accepting to be deported to their countries, and will be deported by air via the Ben Gurion Airport.

4. Arrest before deportation; those who refuse to sign deportation statements, will be arrested, sent to medical examination, then transferred to the Nahshon Brigade which belongs to the Israeli Prison Administration before being sent to Be’er Sheva Prison and likely other prisons.

They will be prosecuted and deported at a later stage.

Unusual mechanical failures delay, but fail to scuttle, Gaza Freedom Flotilla

First the MV Rachel Corrie suffered a breakdown shortly after leaving port. Then the Challenger I lost its steering mechanism and another Greek ship has to return to port. Though derided by Israeli critics as “tin buckets,” the ships had been certified sea-worthy before the convoy set sail. Suspicions about system failures can wait until proper investigations. Cyprus denied the Challenger permission to harbor for repairs, so its passengers were transshipped to the Mavi Marmara, and the convoy delayed its rendezvous. The revised timing will deny the Israeli navy a chance to attack during the night. The relief ships will not be approaching the contested waters off Gaza until after daybreak.

As it did during earlier relief convoy efforts, Cyprus responded to pressure from Israel and refused to allow convoy ships to assemble at its ports. This time the Greek Authority of Cyprus enforced a ban against the Freedom Flotilla vessels from entering its waters. WitnessForGaza has a video of a Cypriot helicopter keeping the Challenger I at bay, even though it was becoming increasingly disabled and need to reach a safe harbor.

What can you do to protect the convoy?

Subject: Call For Action As The Flotilla Faces Serious Threats From Israel

“People are very aware that the Israeli authorities and indeed others are playing all sorts of mind games, with threats alternating with so called offers, which would include surrendering the aid into Israeli hands, something which the participants of the flotilla find entirely unacceptable”

Speaking from the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, Kevin Ovenden from Viva Palestina outlined some of the concerns and realities currently been faced by over 750 people on board the 9 ships sailing towards Gaza.

The last of the ships departed from Turkey at midnight last night, and they are all currently in International waters in the Mediterranean Sea. Their journey is faced with incredible danger, given the threats that have been issued by the Israeli Government. They have stated that they will stop this Flotilla at all costs, even by force if necessary. Their safety is in grave danger, and the time has come for the international community to stand up for their safety and well being.

Tomorrow, Saturday, the flotilla should be sailing into Gaza, however, given the threats issued, the likely hood of this happening is looking uncertain at this stage. We are calling on everyone to contact various political leaders to ask them to do everything in their power to ensure the safety of these brave people, and to stand up and add their voice in support of this humanitarian flotilla.

The Gazan People’s Front or People’s Front of Gaza less funny than Nazirene

A Gaza Flotilla PR mishap, as minor as a participant speaking out of place, was seized upon by one reporter to suggest rivalry between co-sponsors of the relief convoy due to convene Saturday at Gaza’s door. When an interviewee said “Free Palestine Movement” instead of “Free Gaza,” the reporter recalled scenes from Monty Python’s Life of Brian and the mortal rivalry between the “People’s Judean Front” and the “People’s Front of Judea,” often understood to lampoon the PLO and it splinter groups. Haha. But why didn’t the reporter mention Python’s other irreverent terrorist gang also fighting the Roman occupation: the uber-Zionist Nazirene? Because Otto and the Nazirene, that’s right, not Nazarene, were cut from the video when control was wrestled from Monty Python for the rights.

Why the offense? Because they wore swastika-like Stars-of-David and they goose-stepped? Because they followed a small-mustached leader named Otto who dreamed of a racially pure state for Jews only?

I’m surprised that more Monty Python fans aren’t livid at the suggestion the classic has been censored for all posterity. But only those who saw Life of Brian in the theater, or can pick up an out-of-print paperback of the screenplay, would know what lines successive viewers don’t hear to memorize.

Lines like these between Eric Idle and Graham Chapman:

OTTO: It’s time, you know … Time that we Jews racially purified ourselves … We need more living room. We must move into the traditionally Jewish areas of Samaria.

BRIAN: What about the Samaritans?

OTTO: Well, we can put them in little camps. And after Samaria we must move into Jordan and create a great Jewish state that will last a thousand years.

Imagine a Zionist depicted using Hitler’s expression “living space!” Lebensraum meant a homeland where the German people could live unmolested, with room for their population to grow.

Associating Zionists with Nazis has always meant courting trouble. Does it sound incredible that defenders of Israel would take a knife to Monty Python’s work? Know any other blockbuster movies of the late 70s which mysteriously shed memorable scenes when they reemerged on video?

Criterion recently released a DVD with extras that purport to include the deleted scenes, you can see them on Youtube, but they are actually outtakes with bits missing still, in particular the lines above.

I wrote about this at length in an earlier post, when I came upon the missing dialog just by chance. In that post I also transcribed the full text of the censored scenes.

Back to the joke made at the Free Gaza Movement‘s expense. Hopefully the organizers can laugh it off. Really Jerusalem-based reporter Jackie Rowland was making hay of an email shown to her by a participant being compelled to switch the word “Palestine” for “Gaza” because they were not authorized to speak officially for the “Free Gaza Movement.” With any improvised collection of activists, only those tasked should speak for the whole. Especially someone who may have been admonished beforehand not to present themselves as a spokesman.

I cannot presume to know what were the motives in this instance, but it’s been my experience that characters bent on disrupting the work of activists often put themselves before the cameras to sabotage the message. Leaders have to guard against that tactic.

The reporter should have know as much. Imagine interviewing Rush Limbaugh and taking him at his word that he represented the White House.

The activist should have made that fact more clear. It certainly was disingenuous of the reporter however, because it would be easy to confirm that there was no such group, instead of concluding that rival non-profits were vying for taking credit for the convoy. In that way Jackie Rowland’s article seemed like a mean-spirited laugh.

The groups which have brought the multi-million dollar enterprise together that is the Gaza Freedom Flotilla appear to me to be far from adversaries, otherwise how could this be the ninth unified attempt?

The same cannot be said for Fatah and Hamas of course, nor of the extremists in Israel.

monty-python-life-brian-ottoThe latest reports have the relief convoy meeting in the international waters off of Gaza on Saturday. The story has been playing well in the international press, and is beginning to see daylight in the US. Apart from those with a Zionist slant, two decent reports emerged today in the WSJ and Time.

Gaza Freedom Flotilla sea rendezvous


Two vessels from the Gaza-bound humanitarian aid convoy met up this morning between the Aegean Islands of Amorgos and Astypalaia. The Swedish/Greek cargo Ship To Gaza FREE MEDITERRANEAN (formerly the Sofia) is now cruising along side the SFENDONI, a passenger ship for the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza. More pictures at Xstefanou’s the Press Project and at Equal Society.
(Below are updated photos of the growing fleet.)


FREE MEDITERRANEAN (Formerly SOFIA)


SFENDONI


APION


CHALLENGER I


MAVI MARMARA


ISRAELI NAVY

Live webcam on Gaza Freedom Flotilla Turkish passenger ship Mavi Marmara


GAZA FREEDOM FLOTILLA- DAY TWO. You can follow events from a live webcam on the Turkish passenger ship MAVI MARMARA, with camera pointing over bow. The Swedish/Greek cargo ship SOFIA is still livestreaming her loading in Athens. We await details of Algerian cargo AL-JAZAIR, Turkish cargos GAZZE and DEFNE Y, German passenger yacht CHALLENGER I and the Irish MV RACHEL CORRIE.
(Details on each relief convoy ship at this post.)

We probably cannot expect the webcams to broadcast as the flotilla nears the Israeli Navy. This is explained in article on Media Line which interviewed FreeGazaOrg’s Greta Berlin:

In an attempt to curtail a public relations disaster of armed troops confronting the civilian ships, the Israel Navy is expected to jam the satellite transmission and otherwise use electronic warfare to quash all coverage and photos of the event.

“They have turned off our satellite phones. They have blocked our transmissions. We have live stream videos and we will continue to broadcast as long as we can. As long as it is on live and the signal suddenly goes out, then I think the world clearly knows what is happening and what Israel is doing.”


Aboard MAVI MARMARA


SOFIA in port.

Relief convoy to bring media Armada


What this Freedom Flotilla has over previous relief efforts like the Viva Palestina caravans is a momentum building in the international press. It’s the big ship effect that works for gunship diplomacy, brought to bear this time to enforce social justice, too big to ignore.
(Update 5/24: Australia’s Sidney Morning Herald has three articles: 1. the Turkish sendoff 2. Elvis Costello honoring the BDS cultural boycott, and 3. an in-depth story featuring the trademarked media logo BUSTING THE BLOCKADE!)

Admittedly America’s is a Zionist media. That’s where I suppose the social media campaign must wag the Zionist dog, to mix pun with metaphor. It’s going to help no doubt that the Israeli press is already awash with anticipation.

Where the last Viva Palestina humanitarian convoy crossed continents before the BBC begrudged it coverage, the 2010 Freedom Flotilla, including ShiptoGaza and the Free Gaza Movement have already hit BBC radar. The IHH efforts are being joined by a cargo ship which just left Algiers.

Here are the latest photos from Turkey, a Convoy to Gaza blog being updated by UK activist Lorbital, and Tox’s notes about DAY ONE of relief convoy, day 1075 of Gaza Siege.

With Israel vowing to stop them, and the Freedom Flotilla determined to push through, the showdown will have Western media outlets unable to maintain their news blackout. This will be no USS Liberty pummeled by sneak attack with no witnesses permitted to break the story. The Gaza relief convoy numbers nine ships, with more adventurers joining the escort no doubt, a measure of supporters’ anticipation of an inevitable catharsis for the siege.

The inertia looks good to me. Press releases are flying announcing who’s joining the convoy (now a USS Liberty survivor), and European diplomats are issuing statements that they expect Israel to give the convoy safe passage. Wait until the ships are making the final crossing from Cyprus for heavyweight supporters such as George Galloway or Hugo Chavez to weigh in.

Israeli welcome flotillaThe Israeli press is already running circles. A fleet of Israeli sailboats from the Herziliya Marina is preparing to greet the relief convoy with banners that say HAMAS SUCKS to counter whatever humanitarian message they worry the “peace activists” might score. There’s some speculation that Israel would fare better PR by letting the aid through.

A fortuitous coincidence places White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in Israel when the blockade-runners are due to arrive. By Israel, I actually mean the Occupied Territories. Emanuel was trying to book the Western Wall for his son’s barmitzvah. Plans were changed due either to threats from the ultra-right because of US criticisms of continuing settlement building, or because US officials are prohibited from conducting personal business outside of Israel’s Green Line.

Algerian relif convoy shipThe cargo ship which sailed from Algeria today is the al-Jazair. More info on this ship as we find it.

ShiptoGaza Sweden has uploaded more pictures of the loading of the charming Sofia in Athens.

Turkey’s third convoy vessel has been identified as the massive cargo ship Defne Y (IMO: 7725518), loading in Istanbul and due to join the Gazze and Mavi Marmara in Cyprus.

T -6 for humanitarian convoy to Gaza

Swedish-Greek ShipToGaza SOPHIAFREEDOM FLOTILLA UPDATE- As the MV Rachel Corrie steams past the Straits of Gibraltar, loading operations quicken in Istanbul and Athens and Gaza. Israel announces a counter-protest fleet to carry banners which finger Hamas and harangue Turkey for its Armenian genocide. The ships will not meet as Israel reasserts its intention to enforce a military zone to block the relief convoy. Flotilla plans a floating city until they are let through. Wouldn’t a Venezuelan warship or two be just the escort the relief supplies would warrant?

Freedom Flotilla video streaming so far

Freedom Flotilla organizers have released video of the Rachel Corrie’s setting sail from Ireland, presaging I hope, improved visual coverage of the Gaza blockade- running expedition. The Israel navy’s past successful repulsions have been executed in darkness, eluding damning visuals, so the Corrie’s nighttime sendoff wasn’t a favorable sign of improved media savvy on the part of 2010 Freedom Flotilla. (Did you see it?) ShipToGaza/Greece is livestreaming a fundraiser from Athens. Will a live camera follow the ships to sea?

Bridge of 2010 Freedom Flotilla flagship MV Rachel Corrie
Here’s the bridge of the MV Rachel Corrie where it’s hoped the world can follow the relief convoy as it sails past Israeli warships to reach Gaza. The Greek contingent have confirmed their intended departure, to be joined by US peace activist Ann Wright.

John Pilger: Gaza flotilla is one of most important direct actions of our lifetime

Free Gaza Freedom Flotilla flagship leaves Ireland for Gaza
Still waiting for aerial photos of MV Rachel Corrie leaving Ireland for the Mediterranean. Feel like you’re missing out? This quote from Journalist-superstar John Pilger won’t help: “The Freedom Flotilla is one of the most important direct actions of my lifetime. With its desperately-needed supplies and range of people from all over the world, representing sheer human decency, it sends a message of disgust to Gaza’s oppressor and, above all, reaches out unreservedly to the people of Gaza.” –John Pilger, 8 May 2010

Besides releasing the photo above, the latest update from the Rachel Corrie came at GMT 14:23 today, reported by @FreeGazaOrg:

Leaving the coast of Ireland on her way around the bottom of England. All is well, weather is excellent

The Israeli press is beating the war drum against the convoy’s arrival, lampooning the would-be Gaza rescuers as International Peace Schlamazels.

On the seas, the Ma’an News Agency echos reports of preparations Israel is undertaking to battle the relief convoy:

“About half of the Israeli naval forces will participate in an operation that was approved by the cabinet. [Israeli] Defense Minister Ehud Barak will supervise the operation,” an Israeli official told the Arabic-language satellite TV station Al-Hurra.

An Israeli security source told Ma’an that authorities will prevent the arrival of the boats “at any price.”

This lead Freedom Flotilla followers on Twitter to strategize that if the Free Gaza blockage runners could double their numbers, the Israeli navy would be forced to deploy ITS FULL FORCE to maintain the siege. A marginal increase in the convoy size would thus prove a bigger flotilla than Israel could repel!

Naval Siege of GazaMeanwhile Israeli border patrol gunships continue to strafe Palestinian fishing boats.

UPDATE: Noam Chomsky, just denied entry into the West Bank, sends best wishes to the Freedom Flotilla:

“I have been deeply impressed with the courageous and honorable efforts to break through the savage and criminal siege of Gaza, utterly lacking in credible pretext, designed to crush any hope of meaningful Palestinian independence. My best wishes for your success in this critically important undertaking, which I hope will also help to awaken the consciousness of the world.” — Noam Chomsky, 10 May 2010

Freedom Flotilla flagship off to Gaza

Free Gaza Freedom Flotilla crew member FaichreThe rechristened MV Rachel Corrie sails today from Dundalk, Ireland, to join the Freedom Flotilla intent on running the blockade of Gaza. Israel is already warning Cyprus against allowing the humanitarian convoy to shelter in its ports, rehearsing plans to intercept, and Turkish supporters are rebuffing Israeli threats to bomb relief ships which attempt to reach Palestine. In other news, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has accepted Israel’s membership, cementing First World culpability for Israeli growth from conquest. Critics had urged Israel’s disqualification because its capitalization has been owed to the occupation and illegal appropriation of Palestinian resources, but could the OECD ultimately disown the US-European joint colonial venture?

What a coincidence that today’s date in 1949 marked the end of the siege of Berlin, when an international effort was mounted by world governments to fly relief convoys of supplies to the besieged population of Berlin. Today western governments won’t abide the expressed will of their citizens and so the people themselves are having to save the Palestinians abandoned in Gaza.

The MV Rachel Corrie has been repainted with a giant Irish flag on its side, and the words “FREE GAZA” along its top. The cargo ship retains its original IMO 6715281 for communications and tracking. Bloggers and journalists will be charting the flotilla’s progress online.

Among the participants on the Free Gaza project are Ken Fleming, Nobel Peace Prize winner; Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize winner; Denis Halliday, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq; Matthias Chang, Perdana Global Peace Organizer; Aengus.O’Snodaigh, Sinn Fein; Chris Andrews; Free Gaza Movement co-founder Greta Berlin, Caoimhe Butterly, Ewa Jasiewicz, Fintan Lane, and Niamh Moloughney.

Gaza Freedom Flotilla building steam


The Free Gaza Movement’s FREEDOM FLOTILLA III is assembling itself ship by ship at European ports. Departure is set for later this month. You can already track the passenger ship MS Mavi Marmara and cargo ships Gazze, Sofia and MV Rachel Corrie on Google Earth. Will the humanitarian relief convoy succumb to Israel’s blockade?
UPDATED: photo-profiles of the IN v. FGM maritime contenders:

The blockade runners:

M/S Mavi Marmara, Turkey, IMO: 7083956, MMSI: 271002151
Currently in Sarayburnu, Istanbul, heading to Tuzla shipyard.


Gazze, Turkey, IMO: 7806192, MMSI: 271002042
Currently in Haydarpasa, Istanbul.


VM Rachel Corrie, Ireland, IMO: 6715281, MMSI: 515886000
(Formally: Linda) Currently at Brown’s Quay, Dundalk, Ireland.

Ship to Gaza sponsored by Sweden
Sofia, Sweden / Greece, IMO: 6713752, MMSI: 239219000
Currently docked in Piraeus Roads, Athens.
Itinerary: Tromsö – Göthenburg – Great Yarmouth – Bilbao – Lisbon – Barcelona – Marseilles – Genoa – Athens – Istanbul – Gaza City.

UPDATE 5/23

Defne Y, Kiribata, IMO: 7725518, MMSI: 529239000.
Currently loading in Istanbul.

VERSUS…

The Israeli blockade

Free Gaza has launched eight relief flotillas to Gaza since 2006, but according to Intifata Palestine:

The last three voyages were illegally stopped by the Israeli navy when, in December, 2008, they rammed the DIGNITY in international water, turned back the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY by threatening to shoot all on board, then hijacking the SPIRT on July 1, 2009, kidnapping the passengers and throwing them into prison for a week.


Israeli Super Dvora Mk III gunship intercepts Freedom Flotilla cargo ship The Brotherhood Ship in 2009, forcing it to return to Lebanon.


Israeli coastal patrol accosts Palestinian fishing vessels which stray beyond an Israel-imposed six mile fishing limit.


Israeli Dabur class Coastal Patrol Craft sets water hose on Palestinian fishing vessel before making arrests.

It was a Dabur in 2008 which rammed the Free Gaza relief ship Dignity.

MV Rachel Corrie to run Gaza blockade

Newly rechristened MV Rachel Corrie at Brown's Quay, Dundalk, IrelandFinal preparations are underway at Brown’s Quay in Dundalk, Ireland, to launch the Free Gaza Movement‘s next run against Israel’s blockade of Gaza. FGM were able to acquire the 1,800 ton MV Linda impounded by the ITF for failure to pay its Latvian crew. Anyone who wishes to embark on the freighter’s urgent relief mission to Palestine is enjoined to submit an application. Supporters with deeper pockets could consider adding tonnage to the flotilla. Riga’s bankrupt Forestry Shipping abandoned two similar ships in Holland, the MV Defender and MV Fairland, available for the cost of the back-wages due their sailors.

There are of course an already unending list of activists, journalists, victims and martyrs of the Palestinian struggle for whom additional ships could be named, but I like the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society model of christening ships after benefactors, Steve Irwin, Bob Barker and Ady Gil. But the best example to follow is the Whale Warriors’ TV contract. If any edge could tip the balance in the maritime face-off with the Israeli destroyers, it will be the prospect of an attack being televised. At least that’s what we used to think would deter the IDF.

This next attempt to break the siege follows eight previous efforts, five of which were successful. I am curious how so little footage reaches the independent media, even after the fact. Boats have been rammed, forced back, or impounded, even with luminaries like Cynthia McKinney aboard, with very little incriminating video, and certainly without raising real time internet alarm.

The warnings which FGM provides about conditions for participation are fairly direct as to the risks posed by Israel’s armed responses, here is the background information required to apply:

Background Information
 
Please list your experience working in Palestine, and with Palestinian organizations or campaigns in your local community
 
What is your profession?
 
What are your areas of expertise? (please be specific)
 
Please list all the languages you speak
 
Please list all your affiliations (political, professional, or activist-based)
 
Please provide us with a one paragraph biography of you that we can post on our website in the event you travel with us to Gaza
 
Do you have a preference for which dates you would like to travel to Gaza on?
 
Are you applying as part of a delegation? (preference will be given to delegations, such as doctors, lawyers, students, teachers, musicians, labor activists, et al, who are traveling to Gaza for a specific purpose, such as do an assessment, consult with colleagues in Gaza, or build on solidarity campaigns)
 
If yes, who is the primary contact person for your delegation?
 
Are you planning on staying in Gaza long-term?
 
If you are planning to remain in Gaza, then you MUST have already made contact with organizations working in Gaza and have a clear plan for what you will be doing there. Please describe the contacts and plans you have already made.
 
Do you have health insurance that will cover you during your trip to Gaza?
 
Please provide us with your insurance information, in case of a medical emergency (policy name, number, and insurance contact information)
 
Please list any physical disabilities you may have (artificial knee or hip, for example)
 
Please list all medications you are currently taking
 
Can you swim?
 
Please also provide us with two, written recommendations from people who have been involved in working with Palestinians and Palestinian organizations. We require their names, telephone numbers and email addresses.

Where is humanitarian airlift for Gaza?

 
 
The Berlin airlift siege C-47
When the Soviet Union laid siege to West Berlin in 1947, the Western powers mounted a famous airlift to supply the city’s inhabitants for ten months until the siege was broken. At its height, the Berlin Airlift hauled almost 9,000 tons per day. By contrast, the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip remain besieged for two and a half years now, where is the humanitarian effort to save them?

The West’s official abandonment of the Gazans is shameful.

Gaza today has a similar population in number and density, also living in post-war squalor. A chief difference is that instead of a conqueror trying to impose a common currency to force assimilation, Palestine’s occupier wants to purge the people of the lands it want to absorb. The siege of Gaza represents living conditions made so dire that its victims want only to leave.

The recent Viva Palestina aid convoy to Gaza was the third successful effort to supply the people of Gaza. Counting also the attempts to bring supplies by boat, how do these methods compare to the help mobilized for Berlin?

At the close of the latest effort, leader George Galloway was ceremoniously banned from returning to Egypt. Some of the convoy’s participants still await flights out of Cairo, all of them declared persona non grata. Although Venezuelan upstart Hugo Chavez will reportedly be supporting the next Viva Palestina convoy this summer, Egypt has now declared that no aid effort will be allowed through its border crossing to Gaza.

Why will no foreign government support an airlift to Gaza –even if it means parachuting supplies? Or why not a naval convoy to breach the barricade? Israel repeats that Gaza is not occupied. A challenge to Gaza’s maritime sovereignty could settle that matter.

Upon arrival in Gaza, a participant in the aid convoy summarized his motivation to bring relief supplies to the people of Gaza: “because they deserve it.”