Tag Archives: Rachel Corrie

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!”

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.

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.

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.

Uzi Landau doesn’t steal Palestinian homes because there is no such thing

Dr. Uzi Landau speaks to University of Colorado Denver, October 28
DENVER- Israeli PR envoy Uzi Landau addressed CU Denver students today, the majority of whom were antagonistic to his message. Denver policemen lined the walls, altar and choir loft, as Landau went on about the mortal threat which “extremist” Islam poses to Judeo-Christian civilization. Landau likened Iran to Nazi Germany and Ahmadinejad to Hitler, but had no comparison for the nefarious and subversive terror plots which Iran has been foisting on the free world. I’m thinking perhaps, like the CIA or Mossad?

Landau entered the room strangely like a Mafia don, flanked by an entourage of black coats and security. A well dressed man and a woman who an hour earlier had been loitering behind me as I protested outside, and whom I took to be Russian when I heard them speak to each other, now appeared as part of Landau’s party.

CU Denver Auraria Campus in front of church

Due to the sudden snowfall, the campus closed for the afternoon. As a result, the turnout for Landau’s speech was sparse. The security detail of Denver and campus police officers which subjected attendees to metal detectors and bag searches, and kept vigil from the sidelines, would have been disproportionate even if all the seats had been filled. One got the impression that law enforcement were there to assure the audience stayed awake and respectful. Policemen could be seen conspicuously conferring about the seating area occupied by activist Glenn Spagnuolo and his colleagues. When Glenn rose and walked forward to queue for the microphone, a handful of the officers adjusted their positions accordingly.

Glenn was responsible for pulling together voices to oppose Uzi Landau’s appearance. Glenn had a personal connection to Landau, having worked in the occupied territories like Rachel Corrie, and knew the activist who was ultimately killed by a bulldozer working under orders of Uzi Landau. Subsequent to that event, Glenn was deported to Jordan.

When Glenn announced the protest against Landau’s visit, the CU organizers were faced with additional security costs, for which they had no budget. Attempts were made to negotiate calling off the protest. Ultimately the Israeli embassy fronted the funds for the added police.

You might ask, against whom were the officers protecting Uzi Landau? Considering audience members had already been search for weapons, were the police trying to prevent a citizen’s arrest?

The good news, Israeli PR envoy Uzi Landau is not a very good speaker. His heavy accent and habit of letting his voice trail off confident the audience is hanging on his words, makes Landau a fortuitous emissary for those cheering against a military attack upon Iran. The bad news is that landau is as far right as they come, and if he’s reaching sympathetic ears, there are too many racist Americans without any understanding of international law.

I was surprised to discover that this Israeli minister’s talking points were no more nuanced than the flack we receive at this website from IDF Internet Megaphone trolls. Landau reflected the same disrespect for the people from whom lands were taken, and are still being taken. He argued that soldiers must be permitted to target insurgents regardless the civilian casualties.

Landau spoke confidently without batting an eye about the plight of Palestinians. He justified increased Israeli settlements based on Israel’s better record of land stewardship, and of course, he argued that anti-Semitism nugget: why should there be any lands forbidden to Jews? Specifically, to paraphrase: “If Israel can be 20% Palestinian, why cannot the Occupied Territories be 20% Jewish?”

Because Israel then builds walls around settlements and claims more land.

To his credit, Uzi Landau was entertainingly pugilistic in his response to audience questions. Instead of ignoring comments being made out of turn, he took them on, so confident and self-righteous he was about Israel’s actions. Even in Gaza, even in the context of over 60 years of occupation. But to Landau, the Palestinian Problem is dismissed easily. Palestinians don’t exist. They didn’t exist, they didn’t accept the offers of statehood when given the chance, their opportunity past, they never were.

Landau accused his detractors of offering no facts. He, on the other hand, came equipped with facts. One fact of his, from history: Even before it was declared a Jewish nation by the UN, the land of Israel had been in continuous possession of the Jews. So called “Palestinians” only came to the area for the jobs the Israelis offered them.

One of the best questions posed had to do with borders. If G-d promised the holy land to the Jews, which land was that precisely, as defined by what borders? For example, the UN granted land to inaugurate the nation of Israel. It didn’t include Jerusalem, nor much of to what Israel is laying claim. Does the “promised land” encompass more than Israel has even now? What can be the expected boundaries of Israel’s assumed birthright?

Dr. Landau didn’t dwell long on this polemic, except to say with a smile: “that will depend on our neighbors.”