Tag Archives: Gaza

Libyan humanitarian aid ship to Gaza undaunted by Israeli Navy death threat

While Israel releases redacted portions of its internal investigation of the Mavi Marmara Massacre, another aid ship steams toward the Gaza Blockade. The cargo ship Amalthea carries humanitarian aid from Libya and is due to cross into Gazan waters on Wednesday, barring interception by the Israeli navy in international waters.

Israel was able to exert international pressure on various fronts to try to prevent the departure of the humanitarian cargo ship. It’s flagged in Moldova, and had to port in Greece before making its run to relieve the Siege of Gaza.

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

Gaza Flotilla & Knessit member Haneen Zoabi faces Facebook mob death threat

Israel Knessit member Hanin ZoubiAfter her participation in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla aboard the Mavi Marmara, Palestinian-Israeli Knessit member Haneen Zoabi came home to a Facebook page which called for her death. “Execute MP Haneen Zoubi” it screamed with the graphic at right, and angry Israelis were friending the effort by the thousands. Making such a threat is of course illegal. An Israeli storekeeper has been reprimanded for offering free groceries for life to whoever would murder Ms. Zoabi. Shouldn’t Facebook members who add their personal endorsement to Kill U with a “join”, “friend” or “like”, be considered accomplices to attempted intimidation?

Was Gaza flotilla infiltrated by agent-provocateurs? Plausible, but whose?

It’s convenient to surmise that unexpected violence between activists and authorities must be the work of undercover provocateurs. With the fallout of the Mavi Marmara massacre reaching fever pitch, it’s hard to believe Israel would have engineered it thus; and far easier to imagine IDF infiltrators trying to steer flotilla organizers clear of headline-grabbing provocations.
I have a theory that terrorism-suspect and ultra-activist Ken O’Keefe is without doubt a provocateur. Working for whom? You and me.

By ours I don’t mean the us of A. I mean people of conscience.

Ken O’Keefe is the former US marine who renounced his citizenship after fighting in the Gulf War. Among many actions he’s participated in since then, O’Keefe led the bus caravan to Iraq during the lead up to that war, when it was hoped dotting Iraq with Westerners would be the human shield that deterred a US=British attack.

O’Keefe was among those on the Mavi Marmara, in particular fending off the commandos. He recounts how he helped disarm the soldiers and stash their sidearms for later use as evidence. The clips weren’t “emptied” into the Israelis at all, but stashed separately to prevent anyone from using or being accused of using the guns.

If anything O’Keefe served as provocateur to the activists’ courage, to step up a try to avert Israel’s interception of the humanitarian aid.

But on the theme of provocateurs, there are some schools of thought worth deliberating. (to be continued)

Mavi Marmara security camera footage released by Israel raises two questions

Following their murderous raid on the Gaza Flotilla, Israel seized everyone’s photographic footage and released only a fragment which pretended to support the IDF version of the engagement. This clip from a surveillance camera on the Mavi Marmara purports to show activists preparing to batter the Israeli commandos. But the time stamp at the top edge indicates 4:31 AM, which means the sequence is actually after the flotilla reported its first casualties, a full half-hour befre Israel began its violent overtures. I chose this frame also because it depicts a convoy cameraman. Where are the media inquiries for HIS video evidence?

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.

19-year-old American killed on flotilla did not hold Israeli dual citizenship

Among the nine martyrs shot by the IDF as they attacked the Mavi Marmara –in Israel’s nighttime preemptive enforcement of the enstranglement of Gaza– was 19-year-old American Furkan Dogan, shot in the back and four times in the face. Well the US media is diligent to describe the doctor’s son as “Turkish-American,” holding dual citizenship with Turkey, and not “American,” which might risk provoking nationalist indignation that IDF troops may have executed one of ours. Interesting distinction. The same pundits never disclaim the curious proportion of American government officials who hold dual citizenship with Israel. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Israeli-American, springs to mind, and…

The Neocon cabal of Israeli-Americans: Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Dov Zakheim, George Tenet, Michael Chertoff, Michael Mukasey, Marc Grossman, Philip Zelikow, Ari Fleischer, Elliot Abrams, “Scooter” Libby, William Kristol, Henry Kissinger, Keneth Adelman, Robert Satloff, Richard Haass, Robert Zoellick, James Schlesinger, David Frum, Joshua Bolten, John Bolton, David Wurmser, Eliot Cohen, Mel Sembler, Steve Goldsmith, Adam Goldman, Joseph Gildenhorn, Christopher Gersten, Mark Weinberger, Samuel Bodman, Bonnie Cohen, Ruth Davis…

And in the diplomatic corps: Daniel Kurtzer, Ambassador to Israel; Cliff Sobel, Ambassador to the Netherlands; Stuart Bernstein, Ambassador to Denmark; Nancy Brinker, Ambassador to Hungary; Frank Lavin, Ambassador to Singapore; Ron Weiser, Ambassador to Slovakia; Mel Sembler, Ambassador to Italy; Martin Silverstein, Ambassador to Uruguay…

And the previous administration’s Lincoln Bloomfield, Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs; Jay Lefkowitz, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council; Ken Melman, White House Political Director; Brad Blakeman, White House Director of Scheduling.

Flotilla massacre then Old Testament: Israel exacts girl’s eye for its black eye

Palestinian solidarity volunteer Emily Henochowicz was protesting Israel’s brutal raid on the Gaza relief convoy, to be more precise, she was acting as Western observer to protect the Palestinian right to protest, and she lost her eye when she was hit by an IDF teargas canister. You might have hoped Israel forces would temper their tactics after having shocked world opinion with the Mavi Marmara massacre, but no. Only the day after, IDF policemen aimed high velocity teargas rounds directly at the faces of the solidarity activists. Emily lost her eye and requires metal plates to reconstruct her face.

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.

Egypt lifts blockade from their end. temporarily.

While Bibi does a little dance of combined sabre rattling and appeasement. And of course part of that is to promise full investigation and prosecution of the Guilty Parties. Pig Code for “we’re going to destroy all evidence and make a fake investigation where the Pigs were cleared in advance”.
Just like the people aboard the Flotilla were convicted in advance of being Terrorists. The investigation will “prove” that of course.

Meanwhile there’s that little issue of Israel having the fourth largest military in the world and Nuclear Weapons. The David v Goliath routine won’t play out very convincingly with those.

Condemnation of Israeli state piracy

New Israeli flagCOLO. SPRINGS- Join IMPROMPTU PROTEST OF US-ISRAEL MILITARIZED REPRESSION. Protest Israel’s deadly raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Called by Coloradans For Peace, Colorado Springs, Acacia Park, NOON. Pro-Palestinian, Free-Gaza, and all anti-imperial voices welcome. This Memorial Day, remember the USS Liberty!

If you really don’t want to kill civilians, don’t point loaded guns at them.

I tell you what, if Bibi actually gets away with this shit, based on the defense he’s mounting, then Death Row inmates across America will be rejoicing. What’s the difference between Armed Robbery and Capital Murder? A twitch of the finger.
Israel and the U.S. have this habit of (AFTER killing usually large numbers of Civilians in “accidents”) insisting that they trained their Soldier/Cops to “minimize the risk” of blowing away civilians. That’s a God-Damn lie. If they were to do “everything we can” to not kill civilians, one of the first and the most important elements of such a policy would be Not Shooting In Their Direction. When IDF blew away KIDS in Gaza they accused the Palestinians of the murders that were committed through bullets coming from Israeli Galil Rifles (a reworked AK-47 that fires U.S. standard .30 caliber rounds) held by Israeli soldiers. In an action where the IDF were actively invading a country they themselves had formally recognized as being Not Israel.
Guess that when you declare a region to be SEMI autonomous it’s like what my cousin used to laugh about in advertising… a Semi-Boneless Steak. Does it have bones in it or not?
But a Semi-Autonomous country is one in which the Ruling Imperial Nation tells the peasants they won’t get any benefits of Citizenship but still have to obey King Benjamin Netanyahu.

And if the Peasants dare object to being declared not second, third or ANY class of citizen, but declared to be Subject to the governing whim of the IDF Master Race… then it’s Their Fault that the IDF Gestapo/slash/TotenKopfSchutzStaffl murder their Kids.

Bibi is calling the Murders aboard the relief ships a “Botched Raid”.
Oh, and King Bibi is having who, exactly, handle the evidence, as in the shot up boats, the bodies of the victims, the Murder Weapons?

Why, Good Righteous Courageous King Benjamin is having the Murderers Themselves do the investigation. This is like when American Pigs murder somebody, who gets to investigate the Police Claims of “suicide by cop”? The Internal Affairs Division, of course.

Let me remind our readers (and Our Readers should recognize that I’m not actually asking their permission to say anything) that having the Police in any form, including the IDF Commando Murder Teams, investigate murders committed by their Fellow Cops will GUARANTEE that the Murderous PIGS will be acquitted and the victims blamed for their own deaths.

Look for, in the next three weeks, an IDF “investigation” to Clear The Commando MURDER Team of any wrongdoing. It’s the way PIGS always do it, their Pigs and Our Pigs.

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.

Does Israel’s STAND WITH US stand against humanitarian aid to Gaza?

Hey! Let’s seize this opportunity to get around the usual US media blackout on sympathy-for- Palestine activism. American members of Stand With Us, the Israeli outreach group on American college campuses, do YOU stand against the relief convoy defying Israel’s naval blockade to bring humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinians of Gaza? StandWithUs is forming an IDF-booster fleet to protest the Gaza Freedom Flotilla as it seeks passage between the Israeli navy ships.

Stand With Us accuses the convoy organizers of trying to make Israel look bad. By holding Gaza under siege, who exactly is pretending not to look bad? If Israel’s navy indeed raids the convoy ships and arrests all on board, Israel’s image will be degraded further.

Now add yahoos in the water, egging on their soldiers, or more probably, protesting that they’re not beating the activists severely enough. Won’t that mirror the settler behavior in the West Bank, where they torment the Palestinians under the protection of the IDF? And when prevented by the soldiers, the settlers take their anger out on the Palestinians again.

It appears Israel’s Stand With Us club intends to make all their members look bad.

Why would anyone block humanitarian relief? If indeed the peace activists are trying to give Israel a black eye, let them pass.

What can you do? Contact a local chapter of Stand With Us and as them if they are lobbying for solidarity with such an activity as their counter-flotilla.

Here’s an excerpt from the Jerusalem Post in which StandWithUs leaders deny there’s a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Enjoy:

“What the other anti-Israel flotilla is doing is ignoring human rights abuses and focusing on a fake situation,” Michael Dickson, StandWithUs Israel Director, told The Jerusalem Post Thursday.

Dickson believes the European flotilla cares more about hurting Israel than helping the Palestinians in Gaza.

Lior Meyer, a StandWithUs Project Manager planning the counter flotilla, hopes their demonstration will show that Gaza is under Hamas siege, rather than Israeli occupation.

“I hope they’re not expecting anything. When someone’s surprised by the truth it’s only a good thing,” Meyer said, claiming that few people know the nature of Hamas’s control.

Dickson said that the European activists’ aid could have reached Gaza in one day instead of one week if they weren’t interested in making a publicity statement.

“I think that the key thing is that this is not some fare minded mission coming in that cares for peace. Their flotilla is driven by hate rather than peace. They don’t really care about the victims who live under Hamas in Gaza and the south of Israel,”

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

Israeli yacht club sends Anti-Freedom Flotilla to protest Gaza relief convoy


PICTURES! -Some very expensive yachts sailed from Herziliya Yacht Club in a feint of indignation that an international social justice effort was showing favoritism toward Palestinians. No Gaza yacht club could be reached for a response. Commodore Guy Bechor, an outspoken Zionist, led the ostentatious flotilla in protest of the humanitarian aid convoy attempting to break the siege of Gaza, which he belittled as “rusty tin cans.”

The banners for their private regatta? TURKEY=IRAN? and FREE GILAD, an interesting conceit. 1.5 million Gazans are being blockaded to coerce the release of one Israeli POW. That’s a ratio similar to the disproportionate casualties of the 2008 Gaza “War.”

While soldier Gilad Shalit is considered a hostage of Hamas, he was an IDF soldier captured by the resistance. Israel holds 8,000 Palestinians in detention, not counting all the residents of Gaza.

The Gaza Massacre, like the ongoing siege itself, is recognized as an illegal act of collective punishment. A fact apparently lost on the Yerziliya skippers. Likewise the disconnect they display in presuming to insult the Turkish leader by associating him with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Though the yacht flotilla raised fears of creating an embarrassing confrontation with the humanitarian fleet, in reality it was a single day affair. The Israeli counter protesters were informed that the entire coast of Gaza has been cordoned by the Israeli navy. The pretext it will use to try to arrest the Freedom Flotilla blockade runners.

Bechor’s website G-planet celebrates all the press they received, I don’t see the harm in giving them more. These pictures speak a thousand words, almost as many days as Gaza has been under illegal siege.

See more pictures at Bechor’s Facebook album. The irony of the singular concern for Gilad Shalit might have caused Bechor to think twice about the message. All photos of yachts featuring the banners about Shalit have been curiously scrubbed, but they remain on some Turkish news sites.

Bechor list dozens of Turkish media outlets which covered his anti-relief regatta, demonstrating a strategy of aiming to undercut Turkish public support for what it predominantly its humanitarian effort. While several of the outlets might be Hasbara properties echoing Israel PR, most of the articles about the Israeli counter-protest make as much fun of it as we.

For the record, here is the port at Gaza, absent of yachts. The relief convoy will even have to improvise docks for unloading their supplies.

Robert Fisk and the language of power, danger words: Competing Narratives

Celebrated reporter -and verb- Robert Fisk had harsh words, “danger words” he called them, for host Al-Jazeera where he gave an address about the language of power which has infected newsman and reader alike. Beware your unambiguous acceptance of empty terms into which state propagandists let you infer nuance: power players, activism, non-state actors, key players, geostrategic players, narratives, external players, meaningful solutions, –meaning what?
I’ll not divulge why these stung Al-J, but I’d like to detail the full list, and commit not to condone their false usage at NMT, without ridicule, “quotes” or disclaimer.

Fisk listed several expressions which he attributes to government craftsmen. Unfortunately journalists have been parroting these terms without questioning their dubious meaning. Fisk began with a favorite, the endless, disingenuous, “peace process.” What is that – victor-defined purgatory? Why would “peace” be a “process” Fisk asks.

How appropriate that some of the West’s strongest critics are linguists. Fisk lauded the current seagoing rescue of Gaza, the convoy determined to break the Israeli blockade. He compared it to the Berlin Airlift, when governments saw fit to help besieged peoples, even former enemies. This time however, the people have to act where their governments do not.

I read recently that the Gaza Freedom Flotilla might be preparing accommodations for Noam Chomsky to join the passage. Won’t that be an escalation? I imagine if Robert Fisk would climb aboard too, it would spell doom for any chance the relief supplies would reach the Gazans. A ship convoy with Chomsky and Fisk on board would present an opportunity that an Israeli torpedo could not resist.

Here is his list. If you can’t peruse the lecture, at least ponder these words with as much skepticism as you can. The parenthesis denote my shorthand.

peace process (detente under duress, while enduring repression)

“Peace of the Brave” (accept your subjugation, coined for Algeria, then France lost)

“Hearts and Minds” (Vietnam era psych-ops, then US lost)

spike (to avoid saying: increase)

surge (reinforcements, you send them in you’re losing)

key players (only puppets and their masters need apply)

back on track (the objective has been on rails?)

peace envoy (in mob-speak: the cleaner)

road map (winner’s bill of lading for the spoils)

experts (vetted opinions)

indirect talks (concurrent soliloquies, duets performed solo in proximity to common fiddler calling tune)

competing narratives (parallel universes in one? naturally the perpetrator is going to tell a different tale, disputing that of victim’s; ungoing result is no justice and no injustice) examples:
occupied vs. disputed;
wall vs. security barrier;
colonization vs settlements, outposts or Jewish neighborhoods.

foreign fighters (them, but always us)

Af-Pak (ignores third party India and thus dispute to Kashmir)

appeasers (sissies who don’t have bully’s back)

Weapons of Mass Destruction (not Iraq, now not Iran)

think tanks (ministry of propaganda privatized)

challenges (avoids they are problems)

intervention (asserted authority by military force)

change agents (by undisclosed means?)

Until asked otherwise, I’ll append Fisk’s talk here:

Robert Fisk, The Independent newspaper’s Middle East correspondent, gave the following address to the fifth Al Jazeera annual forum on May 23.

Power and the media are not just about cosy relationships between journalists and political leaders, between editors and presidents. They are not just about the parasitic-osmotic relationship between supposedly honourable reporters and the nexus of power that runs between White House and state department and Pentagon, between Downing Street and the foreign office and the ministry of defence. In the western context, power and the media is about words – and the use of words.

It is about semantics.

It is about the employment of phrases and clauses and their origins. And it is about the misuse of history; and about our ignorance of history.

More and more today, we journalists have become prisoners of the language of power.

Is this because we no longer care about linguistics? Is this because lap-tops ‘correct’ our spelling, ‘trim’ our grammar so that our sentences so often turn out to be identical to those of our rulers? Is this why newspaper editorials today often sound like political speeches?

Let me show you what I mean.

For two decades now, the US and British – and Israeli and Palestinian – leaderships have used the words ‘peace process’ to define the hopeless, inadequate, dishonourable agreement that allowed the US and Israel to dominate whatever slivers of land would be given to an occupied people.

I first queried this expression, and its provenance, at the time of Oslo – although how easily we forget that the secret surrenders at Oslo were themselves a conspiracy without any legal basis. Poor old Oslo, I always think! What did Oslo ever do to deserve this? It was the White House agreement that sealed this preposterous and dubious treaty – in which refugees, borders, Israeli colonies – even timetables – were to be delayed until they could no longer be negotiated.

And how easily we forget the White House lawn – though, yes, we remember the images – upon which it was Clinton who quoted from the Qur’an, and Arafat who chose to say: “Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. President.” And what did we call this nonsense afterwards? Yes, it was ‘a moment of history’! Was it? Was it so?

Do you remember what Arafat called it? “The peace of the brave.” But I don’t remember any of us pointing out that “the peace of the brave” was used originally by General de Gaulle about the end of the Algerian war. The French lost the war in Algeria. We did not spot this extraordinary irony.

Same again today. We western journalists – used yet again by our masters – have been reporting our jolly generals in Afghanistan as saying that their war can only be won with a “hearts and minds” campaign. No-one asked them the obvious question: Wasn’t this the very same phrase used about Vietnamese civilians in the Vietnam war? And didn’t we – didn’t the West – lose the war in Vietnam?

Yet now we western journalists are actually using – about Afghanistan – the phrase ‘hearts and minds’ in our reports as if it is a new dictionary definition rather than a symbol of defeat for the second time in four decades, in some cases used by the very same soldiers who peddled this nonsense – at a younger age – in Vietnam.

Just look at the individual words which we have recently co-opted from the US military.

When we westerners find that ‘our’ enemies – al-Qaeda, for example, or the Taliban -have set off more bombs and staged more attacks than usual, we call it ‘a spike in violence’. Ah yes, a ‘spike’!

A ‘spike’ in violence, ladies and gentlemen is a word first used, according to my files, by a brigadier general in the Baghdad Green Zone in 2004. Yet now we use that phrase, we extemporise on it, we relay it on the air as our phrase. We are using, quite literally, an expression created for us by the Pentagon. A spike, of course, goes sharply up, then sharply downwards. A ‘spike’ therefore avoids the ominous use of the words ‘increase in violence’ – for an increase, ladies and gentlemen, might not go down again afterwards.

Now again, when US generals refer to a sudden increase in their forces for an assault on Fallujah or central Baghdad or Kandahar – a mass movement of soldiers brought into Muslim countries by the tens of thousands – they call this a ‘surge’. And a surge, like a tsunami, or any other natural phenomena, can be devastating in its effects. What these ‘surges’ really are – to use the real words of serious journalism – are reinforcements. And reinforcements are sent to wars when armies are losing those wars. But our television and newspaper boys and girls are still talking about ‘surges’ without any attribution at all! The Pentagon wins again.

Meanwhile the ‘peace process’ collapsed. Therefore our leaders – or ‘key players’ as we like to call them – tried to make it work again. Therefore the process had to be put ‘back on track’. It was a railway train, you see. The carriages had come off the line. So the train had to be put ‘back on track’. The Clinton administration first used this phrase, then the Israelis, then the BBC.

But there was a problem when the ‘peace process’ had been put ‘back on track’ – and still came off the line. So we produced a ‘road map’ – run by a Quartet and led by our old Friend of God, Tony Blair, who – in an obscenity of history – we now refer to as a ‘peace envoy’.

But the ‘road map’ isn’t working. And now, I notice, the old ‘peace process’ is back in our newspapers and on our television screens. And two days ago, on CNN, one of those boring old fogies that the TV boys and girls call ‘experts’ – I’ll come back to them in a moment – told us again that the ‘peace process’ was being put ‘back on track’ because of the opening of ‘indirect talks’ between Israelis and Palestinians.

Ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t just about clichés – this is preposterous journalism. There is no battle between power and the media. Through language, we have become them.

Maybe one problem is that we no longer think for ourselves because we no longer read books. The Arabs still read books – I’m not talking here about Arab illiteracy rates – but I’m not sure that we in the West still read books. I often dictate messages over the phone and find I have to spend ten minutes to repeat to someone’s secretary a mere hundred words. They don’t know how to spell.

I was on a plane the other day, from Paris to Beirut – the flying time is about three hours and 45 minutes – and the woman next to me was reading a French book about the history of the Second World War. And she was turning the page every few seconds. She had finished the book before we reached Beirut! And I suddenly realised she wasn’t reading the book – she was surfing the pages! She had lost the ability to what I call ‘deep read’. Is this one of our problems as journalists, I wonder, that we no longer ‘deep read’? We merely use the first words that come to hand …

Let me show you another piece of media cowardice that makes my 63-year-old teeth grind together after 34 years of eating humus and tahina in the Middle East.

We are told, in so many analysis features, that what we have to deal with in the Middle East are ‘competing narratives’. How very cosy. There’s no justice, no injustice, just a couple of people who tell different history stories. ‘Competing narratives’ now regularly pop up in the British press. The phrase is a species – or sub-species – of the false language of anthropology. It deletes the possibility that one group of people – in the Middle East, for example – are occupied, while another group of people are doing the occupying. Again, no justice, no injustice, no oppression or oppressing, just some friendly ‘competing narratives’, a football match, if you like, a level playing field because the two sides are – are they not – ‘in competition’. It’s two sides in a football match. And two sides have to be given equal time in every story.

So an ‘occupation’ can become a ‘dispute’. Thus a ‘wall’ becomes a ‘fence’ or a ‘security barrier’. Thus Israeli colonisation of Arab land contrary to all international law becomes ‘settlements’ or ‘outposts’ or ‘Jewish neighbourhoods’.

You will not be surprised to know that it was Colin Powell, in his starring, powerless appearance as secretary of state to George W. Bush, who told US diplomats in the Middle East to refer to occupied Palestinian land as ‘disputed land’ – and that was good enough for most of the American media.

So watch out for ‘competing narratives’, ladies and gentlemen. There are no ‘competing narratives’, of course, between the US military and the Taliban. When there are, however, you’ll know the West has lost.

But I’ll give you a lovely, personal example of how ‘competing narratives’ come undone. Last month, I gave a lecture in Toronto to mark the 95th anniversary of the 1915 Armenian genocide, the deliberate mass murder of one and a half million Armenian Christians by the Ottoman Turkish army and militia. Before my talk, I was interviewed on Canadian Television, CTV, which also owns the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper. And from the start, I could see that the interviewer had a problem. Canada has a large Armenian community. But Toronto also has a large Turkish community. And the Turks, as the Globe and Mail always tell us, “hotly dispute” that this was a genocide. So the interviewer called the genocide “deadly massacres”.

Of course, I spotted her specific problem straight away. She could not call the massacres a ‘genocide’, because the Turkish community would be outraged. But equally, she sensed that ‘massacres’ on its own – especially with the gruesome studio background photographs of dead Armenians – was not quite up to defining a million and a half murdered human beings. Hence the ‘deadly massacres’. How odd!!! If there are ‘deadly’ massacres, are there some massacres which are not ‘deadly’, from which the victims walk away alive? It was a ludicrous tautology.

In the end, I told this little tale of journalistic cowardice to my Armenian audience, among whom were sitting CTV executives. Within an hour of my ending, my Armenian host received an SMS about me from a CTV reporter. “Shitting on CTV was way out of line,” the reporter complained. I doubted, personally, if the word ‘shitting’ would find its way onto CTV. But then, neither does ‘genocide’. I’m afraid ‘competing narratives’ had just exploded.

Yet the use of the language of power – of its beacon-words and its beacon-phrases -goes on among us still. How many times have I heard western reporters talking about ‘foreign fighters’ in Afghanistan? They are referring, of course, to the various Arab groups supposedly helping the Taliban. We heard the same story from Iraq. Saudis, Jordanians, Palestinian, Chechen fighters, of course. The generals called them ‘foreign fighters’. And then immediately we western reporters did the same. Calling them ‘foreign fighters’ meant they were an invading force. But not once – ever – have I heard a mainstream western television station refer to the fact that there are at least 150,000 ‘foreign fighters’ in Afghanistan. And that most of them, ladies and gentlemen, are in American or other Nato uniforms!

Similarly, the pernicious phrase ‘Af-Pak’ – as racist as it is politically dishonest – is now used by reporters when it originally was a creation of the US state department, on the day that Richard Holbrooke was appointed special US representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. But the phrase avoided the use of the word ‘India’ whose influence in Afghanistan and whose presence in Afghanistan, is a vital part of the story. Furthermore, ‘Af-Pak’ – by deleting India – effectively deleted the whole Kashmir crisis from the conflict in south-east Asia. It thus deprived Pakistan of any say in US local policy on Kashmir – after all, Holbrooke was made the ‘Af-Pak’ envoy, specifically forbidden from discussing Kashmir. Thus the phrase ‘Af-Pak’, which totally deletes the tragedy of Kashmir – too many ‘competing narratives’, perhaps? – means that when we journalists use the same phrase, ‘Af-Pak’, which was surely created for us journalists, we are doing the state department’s work.

Now let’s look at history. Our leaders love history. Most of all, they love the Second World War. In 2003, George W. Bush thought he was Churchill as well as George W. Bush. True, Bush had spent the Vietnam war protecting the skies of Texas from the Vietcong. But now, in 2003, he was standing up to the ‘appeasers’ who did not want a war with Saddam who was, of course, ‘the Hitler of the Tigris’. The appeasers were the British who did not want to fight Nazi Germany in 1938. Blair, of course, also tried on Churchill’s waistcoat and jacket for size. No ‘appeaser’ he. America was Britain’s oldest ally, he proclaimed – and both Bush and Blair reminded journalists that the US had stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Britain in her hour of need in 1940.

But none of this was true.

Britain’s old ally was not the United States. It was Portugal, a neutral fascist state during World War Two. Only my own newspaper, The Independent, picked this up.

Nor did America fight alongside Britain in her hour of need in 1940, when Hitler threatened invasion and the German air force blitzed London. No, in 1940 America was enjoying a very profitable period of neutrality – and did not join Britain in the war until Japan attacked the US naval base at Pearl Harbour in December of 1941.

Ouch!

Back in 1956, I read the other day, Eden called Nasser the ‘Mussolini of the Nile’. A bad mistake. Nasser was loved by the Arabs, not hated as Mussolini was by the majority of Africans, especially the Arab Libyans. The Mussolini parallel was not challenged or questioned by the British press. And we all know what happened at Suez in 1956.

Yes, when it comes to history, we journalists really do let the presidents and prime ministers take us for a ride.

Today, as foreigners try to take food and fuel by sea to the hungry Palestinians of Gaza, we journalists should be reminding our viewers and listeners of a long-ago day when America and Britain went to the aid of a surrounded people, bringing food and fuel – our own servicemen dying as they did so – to help a starving population. That population had been surrounded by a fence erected by a brutal army which wished to starve the people into submission. The army was Russian. The city was Berlin. The wall was to come later. The people had been our enemies only three years earlier. Yet we flew the Berlin airlift to save them. Now look at Gaza today. Which western journalist – and we love historical parallels – has even mentioned 1948 Berlin in the context of Gaza?

Look at more recent times. Saddam had ‘weapons of mass destruction’ – you can fit ‘WMD’ into a headline – but of course, he didn’t, and the American press went through embarrassing bouts of self-condemnation afterwards. How could it have been so misled, the New York Times asked itself? It had not, the paper concluded, challenged the Bush administration enough.

And now the very same paper is softly – very softly – banging the drums for war in Iran. Iran is working on WMD. And after the war, if there is a war, more self-condemnation, no doubt, if there are no nuclear weapons projects.

Yet the most dangerous side of our new semantic war, our use of the words of power – though it is not a war since we have largely surrendered – is that it isolates us from our viewers and readers. They are not stupid. They understand words, in many cases – I fear – better than we do. History, too. They know that we are drowning our vocabulary with the language of generals and presidents, from the so-called elites, from the arrogance of the Brookings Institute experts, or those of those of the Rand Corporation or what I call the ‘THINK TANKS’. Thus we have become part of this language.

Here, for example, are some of the danger words:

· POWER PLAYERS

· ACTIVISM

· NON-STATE ACTORS

· KEY PLAYERS

· GEOSTRATEGIC PLAYERS

· NARRATIVES

· EXTERNAL PLAYERS

· PEACE PROCESS

· MEANINGFUL SOLUTIONS

· AF-PAK

· CHANGE AGENTS (whatever these sinister creatures are).

I am not a regular critic of Al Jazeera. It gives me the freedom to speak on air. Only a few years ago, when Wadah Khanfar (now Director General of Al Jazeera) was Al Jazeera’s man in Baghdad, the US military began a slanderous campaign against Wadah’s bureau, claiming – untruthfully – that Al Jazeera was in league with al-Qaeda because they were receiving videotapes of attacks on US forces. I went to Fallujah to check this out. Wadah was 100 per cent correct. Al-Qaeda was handing in their ambush footage without any warning, pushing it through office letter-boxes. The Americans were lying.

Wadah is, of course, wondering what is coming next.

Well, I have to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that all those ‘danger words’ I have just read out to you – from KEY PLAYERS to NARRATIVES to PEACE PROCESS to AF-PAK – all occur in the nine-page Al Jazeera programme for this very forum.

I’m not condemning Al Jazeera for this, ladies and gentlemen. Because this vocabulary is not adopted through political connivance. It is an infection that we all suffer from – I’ve used ‘peace process’ a few times myself, though with quotation marks which you can’t use on television – but yes, it’s a contagion.

And when we use these words, we become one with the power and the elites which rule our world without fear of challenge from the media. Al Jazeera has done more than any television network I know to challenge authority, both in the Middle East and in the West. (And I am not using ‘challenge’ in the sense of ‘problem’, as in ‘”I face many challenges,” says General McCrystal.’)

How do we escape this disease? Watch out for the spell-checkers in our lap-tops, the sub-editor’s dreams of one-syllable words, stop using Wikipedia. And read books – real books, with paper pages, which means deep reading. History books, especially.

Al Jazeera is giving good coverage to the flotilla – the convoy of boats setting off for Gaza. I don’t think they are a bunch of anti-Israelis. I think the international convoy is on its way because people aboard these ships – from all over the world – are trying to do what our supposedly humanitarian leaders have failed to do. They are bringing food and fuel and hospital equipment to those who suffer. In any other context, the Obamas and the Sarkozys and the Camerons would be competing to land US Marines and the Royal Navy and French forces with humanitarian aid – as Clinton did in Somalia. Didn’t the God-like Blair believe in humanitarian ‘intervention’ in Kosovo and Sierra Leone?

In normal circumstances, Blair might even have put a foot over the border.

But no. We dare not offend the Israelis. And so ordinary people are trying to do what their leaders have culpably failed to do. Their leaders have failed them.

Have the media? Are we showing documentary footage of the Berlin airlift today? Or of Clinton’s attempt to rescue the starving people of Somalia, of Blair’s humanitarian ‘intervention’ in the Balkans, just to remind our viewers and readers – and the people on those boats – that this is about hypocrisy on a massive scale?

The hell we are! We prefer ‘competing narratives’. Few politicians want the Gaza voyage to reach its destination – be its end successful, farcical or tragic. We believe in the ‘peace process’, the ‘road map’. Keep the ‘fence’ around the Palestinians. Let the ‘key players’ sort it out.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am not your ‘key speaker’ this morning.

I am your guest, and I thank you for your patience in listening to me.

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.