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Israel must pay families of killed Freedom Flotilla activists – Malaysia

June 6, 2010 | RIA Novosti

JAKARTA, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Sunday Israel must not only apologize but pay compensation to families of killed Freedom Flotilla activists.

Israeli commandos on Monday stormed the six-ship Freedom Flotilla carrying some 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid and up to 700 human rights activists to the Islamist-run Gaza Strip, the Palestinian enclave blockaded by Israel, killing nine people and injuring dozens. Hundreds found themselves jailed and were then deported.

Razak was speaking at a reception in his residence in honor of 12 Malaysian activists who had been on the Freedom Flotilla vessels.

“What they lived through has not only touched our hearts but also opened the eyes of the Malaysian nation and the rest of the world,” he was quoted by Malaysian news agency Bernama as saying.

“It was an impudent act of aggression and terrorism. It was an act of cold-blooded murder committed by commandos on an order from the Tel Aviv regime,” Razak said.

Deputy Malaysian premier Muhyiddin Yassin said another six Malaysians from the Irish-owned Rachel Corrie aid vessel, seized by Israel on Saturday, are to return home in the next few days.

Yassin said Malaysia will keep helping humanitarian missions for Palestinians.

June 6, 2010 Posted by | War Crimes | 6 Comments

When Did Resistance Become a Dirty Word?

By Robin Yassin-Kassab | Pulse Media | June 6, 2010

What the Western political class and its media demand of the Arabs and Muslims is acceptance of the unacceptable status quo in Israel-Palestine. To resist the status quo is to be troublesome, destabilising and irrationally violent. Resistance arises from the inadequacies of a culture and religion given to antisemitism and hysteria. In order to develop, these backward folk must give resistance up.

For the Lebanese, this means that they must forget the brutal 22-year occupation of their country and the 1982 siege of Beirut as well as the 2006 assault on the country’s civilian infrastructure. They must forget the endless chain of massacres perpetrated by Zionists and their allies on Lebanese territory. They must smile when Israel violates their air space on a daily basis and threatens to send them “back to the stone age” on a weekly basis. They must disarm and label as terrorist Hizbullah, the principled defender of their country.

Syria must smile at the illegal occupation and annexation of the Golan Heights and the theft of its essential water supplies. It must repress the refugees from the Golan and the half million Palestinian refugees and their political organisations. It must not buy or build weaponry that might give it minimum protection from Zionist terrorism. It must grin stupidly when Israel chooses to bomb its territory.

The Palestinians must be modern and democratic. They must do this by fighting the winner of democratic elections and by supporting an unelected and corrupt bunch of collaborators.

As for Western sympathisers with the Palestinian cause, they must preface their criticisms of Israel with such statements as “Of course, Israel has a right to exist in security,” or “Of course we don’t support Hamas,” or, in the case of the passengers on the Rachel Corrie (whose courage and commitment I salute), “We will not resist.”

Learning Not to Resist

It’s time we stopped playing this game. To recognise Israel’s ‘right’ to exist in security is to deny Palestine’s right to exist in security. No state which occupies other states’ territories has a right to security. Did Hitler’s Germany have a right to security once it had invaded Czechoslovakia and Poland? And apartheid states don’t have a right to exist at all. There’s nothing anti-Semitic about this, just as there was nothing anti-white or anti-Afrikaaner in arguing that apartheid South Africa didn’t have a right to exist. A state established by massive ethnic cleansing and perpetuated by occupation and repeated massacres is not a normal state like any other. Israel will earn its right to exist when it allows the refugees to return home and when Jews, Muslims and Christians enjoy equal rights.

What are the arguments used to demonise (rather than critically engage with) Hamas?

Firstly, Hamas doesn’t recognise Israel. True, Hamas believes that Arafat made a major strategic blunder by officially recognising Israel before Israel allowed the Palestinians minimal rights. In this Hamas is only being logical. Hamas certainly knows that Israel exists, and even if Hamas drank enough whisky to forget Israel’s existence (which isn’t likely) Israel would still be there, with its Merkava tanks, its checkpoints and its nuclear bombs. Hamas has repeatedly said that it will stop fighting if Israel leaves the territories in 1967. It still won’t recognise Israel as a Jewish state on 78% of Palestine, because this would be to recognise the ‘justice’ of the theft of Palestine in order to build an ethno-state. In any case, Israel doesn’t recognise Palestine. Its failure to recognise Palestine has immediate and practical ramifications, like the occupation and the ethnic cleansing.

Secondly, Hamas doesn’t recognise the two-state solution. But again, neither does Israel, whatever its propagandists say. If Israel supported two states, it wouldn’t have spent the last decades, under Labour and Likud, building settlements on the West Bank and in Jerusalem. And Israel is the occupier.

Thirdly, Hamas has attacked civilians. This is surely the most hypocritical of reasons for isolating the movement. Since September 2000, Palestinians have killed 1072 Israelis. In the same period, Israelis have killed 6348 Palestinians (not including those who died as an indirect result of the occupation, for instance critically ill people who died in ambulances held up for hours at checkpoints). So Israel is far more guilty of killing civilians. And I would say that the violence of the occupied struggling to liberate themselves is more justifiable than the oppressive violence of the occupier. The people who cry over the fate of Sderot should consider not only the far, far worse fate of Gaza and the West Bank, but also the fact that the inhabitants of the bombed and starved refugee camps in Gaza come from the destroyed villages on which Sderot is built. If your home is stolen and neither the law nor the conscience of the thieves will give you restitution, you are entitled to fight the thieves. Hamas also holds one prisoner of war – not a civilian but a stormtrooper of the occupation. It is grotesque that the world knows the name of this captured terrorist but not the existence of at least 10,000 Palestinian prisoners in the Zionist gulag, many of them children.

Even if we could establish that the Palestinian side has been more violent than the Israeli side – which we can’t – Hamas, unlike Israel, has shown itself capable of sustaining ceasefires. And anyway, many of the Israeli victims have been killed by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which is linked to Fatah.

A Good Arab – Not Resisting

Fourthly, Hamas aims to establish an Islamic state. True, in theory. But it knows that it was elected for its resistance agenda and its freedom from corruption, not for Islamic reasons. There are signs that Hamas has recently tried to impose some of its moral code on the people of Gaza – and I oppose this – but given the circumstances, it’s been a gentle Islamism. It is in fact a bulwark against the more offensive Salafi nihilist groups which are now appearing among Palestinians in their desperation. And of course Israel is not a state for its citizens, still less for the people under its control, but a Jewish state. The fact that some of its people define Jewishness ethnically rather than religiously does not change this fact.

My main quibble with Hamas is its constitution’s reference to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an antisemitic Russian text discredited by anti-Zionists such as Abdelwahhab el-Messiri. (I’m not as outraged as I am by European anti-Semitism – if anyone can be excused for generalising about Jews, it’s the victims of the self-proclaimed Jewish state). Hamas leaders frequently say they do not oppose Jews for being Jews, but Zionists for being Zionists. If this is the case, I wish they’d remove the Protocols reference. So Hamas is not perfect, but neither was the Communist Party, which dominated resistance to Nazi occupation in Europe. Had I been around, I would have supported the anti-Nazi resistance as I support Hamas – critically but unconditionally.

As for the brave passengers on the MV Rachel Corrie, I wish they had not said, “we will not resist.” I wish they had said, “We are unarmed and we have no desire to come to blows with Israeli soldiers. However, if we are hijacked by armed men in international waters or near the shore of Gaza – over which we do not recognise Israeli jurisdiction – we will resist as best we are able.” Unwittingly, the activists handed Israel ammunition for its propaganda – ‘when civilised, peaceful activists arrive we deal with them peacefully. When mad Islamist Turks attack us with sticks when we board their ship, we have no choice but to shoot them many times at close range in the back of the head.’

The passengers on the Mavi Marmara should be congratulated for resisting piracy and the illegal,  barbaric siege. We should never be ashamed of resistance – in occupied Europe, in South Africa, in Iraq, in Vietnam, in Palestine, in Lebanon, or on the Mediterranean sea. Resistance is beautiful. Resistance proves the existence of the human spirit amid a vast sea of inhumanity.

June 6, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | 1 Comment

Israel Released Several Faked Photos – How Can They Be Trusted in ANY Investigation?

By EdwardTeller | Fire Dog Lake | June 2, 2010

Proof has surfaced today that many of the so-called “evidence” photographs being distributed by the Israeli government as examples of terror weapons on board the Gaza aid flotilla date back years:

The bulletproof vest photos on the Israeli flickr page are dated February 2006.

The axe photo was taken in 2003.

The pepper spray photos – 2003

The iconic pictures of knives and other weapons on the Saudi flag and other stuff:

Hi. Just to confirm that the EXIF metadata points to this photo being taken in 2006:
barney@benchwood:~$ identify -verbose bab2e_o_d.jpg | grep Date
exif:DateTime: 2010:06:02 10:38:47
exif:DateTimeDigitized: 2006:02:07 05:52:19
exif:DateTimeOriginal: 2006:02:07 05:52:19

And on and on…..

Absolutely, this is strong evidence that by allowing the Israeli government to be trusted in any aspect of the investigation of these high seas crimes will be foolhardy and negligent.

The most recent evidence we have of how the Israeli government deals with crime scenes where American lives have been put in jeopardy is in the ongoing civil suit brought by Rachel Corrie’s family against the Israeli government. Testimony will resume some time – or not. The Israeli government is trying to stop the trial. But so far, here’s some of what has come out that reflects on the ability of the Israeli government or military to conduct honest investigations:

March 24: Military investigator testifies that head of IDF Southern Command instructed bulldozer operator not to cooperate with investigation.

March 15: Eye Witness Testifies: Israeli Military Investigator Tried to Influence My Statement.

March 14: Autopsy doctor admits to violating court order in Rachel Corrie autopsy.

Essentially, aspects of IDF conduct involving their handling of the death of Corrie clearly violate Israeli law, and call for trial, possible conviction and imprisonment of all officers involved:

But now evidence has emerged in the civil suit that Israel’s then Gaza commander obstructed the military police investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death.

The apparent intervention of Major-General Doron Almog, then head of Israel’s southern command, is documented in testimony taken by Israeli military police from the commander of the bulldozer a day after Ms Corrie was killed.

The handwritten affidavit effectively puts the entire state of Israel on trial. Is it willing to tolerate Maj-Gen Almog’s gross interference in the investigation or will it hold him to the three years’ imprisonment the law accords for such an offence?

In the affidavit, the commander of the D-9 tells military police investigators that he did not see Ms Corrie before she was wounded.

However, Alice Coy, now a nurse in Glasgow, and an ISM volunteer activist who was near Ms Corrie during the incident, said in an affidavit to the court that “to the best of my knowledge the bulldozer driver could see Rachel while pushing earth over her body”.

The D-9 commander, a reservist named Edward Valermov, was in the middle of his testimony when a colonel dispatched by Maj-Gen Almog entered the room and ordered him to stop speaking, according to the document.

The military police investigator wrote: “At 18:12 reserve Colonel Baruch Kirhatu entered the room and informed the witness that he should not convey anything and should not write anything and this at the order of the general of southern command.”

In his testimony before he was stopped, Mr Valermov said that the bulldozers, manned by two people, were ordered by their company commander to continue their work despite the presence of the ISM protesters.

He said that troops in an armoured personnel carrier threw stun grenades, used tear gas and fired shots toward the ground in order to scare the protesters away.

“It didn’t help and therefore we decided to continue the work with all possible delicateness on the orders of the company commander,” he added.

Mr Valermov testified that the protesters nearly touched the bulldozers, making it impossible to advance, but that after the company commander’s order “we started moving with the D-9, we continued laying bare the area from all of the things that were there.

“It was only when we moved the D-9 backwards that I saw her. The woman was lying in a place where the instrument had not reached. As soon as we saw the harmed woman we returned to the central corridor, stood and waited for orders.”

Mr Valermov’s last statement before Maj-Gen Almog’s interdiction was, “my job was to guide. The driver cannot guide himself because his field of vision is not large.”

In a phone interview from Olympia, Washington, Rachel’s father Craig Corrie termed Maj-Gen Almog’s intervention in Mr Valermov’s testimony “outrageous”.

Maj-Gen Almog has angrily denied halting Mr Valermov’s testimony.

Moshe Negbi, legal commentator for the state-run Voice of Israel radio, said of Maj-Gen Almog’s interdiction: “If a commander prevents a witness from testifying than it is disruption of an investigation, a criminal offence whose penalty is three years’ imprisonment.”

By deciding Maj-Gen Almog’s fate, Israel will be deciding if it is a state of law or a state of the generals – past and present.

Anyone who thinks the officers involved in the Corrie coverup will be held accountable is a fool. Anyone who thinks that the Israeli government will conduct an impartial investigation of Sunday morning’s tragedy is even more foolish, especially in light of mounting evidence that the Israelis are already disseminating totally false images as examples of some sort of forensic evidence.

It is time to put pressure on our government to demand the truth, rather than accept criminally motivated bullshit and lies.

June 6, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Solidarity and Activism | 7 Comments

Israel thumbs nose at world anger

Press TV – June 6, 2010

Israel has triggered a new tide of global outrage after it started circulating a video that pokes fun at the Freedom Flotilla activists, recently attacked by armed Israeli commandos.

While world countries and international organizations are up in arms over a deadly Israeli attack on a ship carrying aid for Gazans, Tel Aviv continues to refuse to show any remorse for its violent actions.

In a move that further added insult to injury, the Israeli Press Office (GPO) distributed a link to a highly offensive musical video, dubbed “We Con the World”, which was put together by a former member of the Israeli military, Caroline Glick.

Set to the tune of the 1985 hit, “We are the World”, the video shows over a dozen Arab lookalikes sporting traditional clothes and singing satirical verses, such as “There’s no people dying, so the best that we can do is create the biggest bluff of all.”

The move raised a storm of protest across the globe, which was instantly shrugged off by Glick, who described the video as “an important Israeli contribution to the discussion of recent events.”

Glick, who now serves as a columnist for an Israeli daily, said she hoped the video would be distributed “far and wide.”

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev, unabashed by the tidal wave of world condemnation, also brushed aside criticism over the video link, saying he actually thought it was “funny.”

“I called my kids in to watch it because I thought it was funny,” he said, adding that he first noticed the video on the New York Times website.

“It is what Israelis feel … The GPO distributes non-government items, things that we think that show our side of the story,” Regev said.

The new move by Israel comes as twenty-eight children lost their fathers as a result of the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla aid convoy.

Nine people died on May 31 when Israeli soldiers opened fire on the Turkish vessel M.V. Mavi Marmara as it attempted to transport humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip.

June 6, 2010 Posted by | Deception | 3 Comments

The deadly closing of the Israeli mind

The decline in Israel’s reputation since the brutal attack on the Gaza flotilla is unlikely to influence the country’s leaders

By Ilan Pappé | The Independent | June 6, 2010

At the top of Israel’s political and military systems stand two men, Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu, who are behind the brutal attack on the Gaza flotilla that shocked the world but that seemed to be hailed as a pure act of self-defence by the Israeli public.

Although they come from the left (Defence minister Barak from the Labour Party) and the right (Prime Minister Netanyahu from Likkud) of Israeli politics, their thinking on Gaza in general and on the flotilla in particular is informed by the same history and identical worldview.

At one time, Ehud Barak was Benjamin Netanyahu’s commanding officer in the Israeli equivalent of the SAS. More precisely, they served in a similar unit to the one sent to assault the Turkish ship last week. Their perception of the reality in the Gaza Strip is shared by other leading members of the Israeli political and military elite, and is widely supported by the Jewish electorate at home.

And it is a simple take on reality. Hamas, although the only government in the Arab world elected democratically by the people, has to be eliminated as a political as well as a military force. This is not only because it continues the struggle against the 40-year Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by launching primitive missiles into Israel – more often than not in retaliation to an Israel killing of its activists in the West Bank. But it is mainly due to its political opposition for the kind of “peace” Israel wants to impose on the Palestinians.

The forced peace is not negotiable as far as the Israeli political elite is concerned, and it offers the Palestinians a limited control and sovereignty in the Gaza Strip and in parts of the West Bank. The Palestinians are asked to give up their struggle for self-determination and liberation in return for the establishment of three small Bantustans under tight Israeli control and supervision.

The official thinking in Israel, therefore, is that Hamas is a formidable obstacle for the imposition of such a peace. And thus the declared strategy is straightforward: starving and strangulating into submission the 1.5 million Palestinians living in the densest space in the world.

The blockade imposed in 2006 is supposed to lead the Gazans to replace the current Palestinian government with one which would accept Israel’s dictate – or at least would be part of the more dormant Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. In the meantime,Hamas captured an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, and so the blockade became tighter. It included a ban of the most elementary commodities without which human beings find it difficult to survive. For want of food and medicine, for want of cement and petrol, the people of Gaza live in conditions that international bodies and agencies described as catastrophic and criminal.

As in the case of the flotilla, there are alternative ways for releasing the captive soldier, such as swapping the thousands of political prisons Israel is holding with Shalit. Many of them are children, and quite a few are being held without trial. The Israelis have dragged their feet in negotiations over such a swap, which are not likely to bear fruit in the foreseeable future.

But Barak and Netanyahu, and those around them, know too well that the blockade on Gaza is not going to produce any change in the position of the Hamas and one should give credit to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, who remarked at Prime Minister’s Questions last week that the Israelis’ policy, in fact, strengthens, rather than weakens, the Hamas hold on Gaza. But this strategy, despite its declared aim, is not meant to succeed or at least no one is worried in Jerusalem if it continues to be fruitless and futile.

One would have thought that Israel’s drastic decline in international reputation would prompt new thinking by its leaders. But the responses to the attack on the flotilla in the past few days indicate clearly that there is no hope for any significant shift in the official position. A firm commitment to continue the blockade, and a heroes’ welcome to the soldiers who pirated the ship in the Mediterranean, show that the same politics would continue for a long time.

This is not surprising. The Barak-Netanyahu-Avigdor Lieberman government does not know any other way of responding to the reality in Palestine and Israel. The use of brutal force to impose your will and a hectic propaganda machine that describes it as self-defence, while demonising the half-starved people in Gaza and those who come to their aid as terrorists, is the only possible course for these politicians. The terrible consequences in human death and suffering of this determination do not concern them, nor does international condemnation.

The real, unlike the declared, strategy is to continue this state of affairs. As long as the international community is complacent, the Arab world impotent and Gaza contained, Israel can still have a thriving economy and an electorate that regards the dominance of the army in its life, the continued conflict and the oppression of the Palestinians as the exclusive past, the present and future reality of life in Israel. The US vice-president Joe Biden was humiliated by the Israelis recently when they announced the building of 1,600 new homes in the disputed Ramat Shlomo district of Jerusalem, on the day he arrived to try to freeze the settlement policy. But his unconditional support now for the latest Israeli action makes the leaders and their electorate feel vindicated.

It would be wrong, however, to assume that American support and a feeble European response to Israeli criminal policies such as one pursued in Gaza are the main reasons for the protracted blockade and strangulation of Gaza. What is probably most difficult to explain to readers around the world is how deeply these perceptions and attitudes are grounded in the Israeli psyche and mentality. And it is indeed difficult to comprehend how diametrically opposed are the common reactions in the UK, for instance, to such events to the emotions that it triggers inside the Israeli Jewish society.

The international response is based on the assumption that more forthcoming Palestinian concessions and a continued dialogue with the Israeli political elite will produce a new reality on the ground. The official discourse in the West is that a very reasonable and attainable solution is just around the corner if all sides would make one final effort: the two-state solution.

Nothing is further from the truth than this optimistic scenario. The only version of this solution that is acceptable to Israel is the one that both the tamed Palestine Authority in Ramallah and the more assertive Hamas in Gaza could never ever accept. It is an offer to imprison the Palestinians in stateless enclaves in return for ending their struggle.

Thus even before one discusses either an alternative solution – a single democratic state for all, which I support – or explores a more plausible, two-state settlement, one has to transform fundamentally the Israeli official and public mindset. This mentality is the principal barrier to a peaceful reconciliation in the torn land of Israel and Palestine.

Professor Ilan Pappé directs the European Centre for Palestine Studies at Exeter University and is the author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

June 6, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | Comments Off on The deadly closing of the Israeli mind