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Challenging the Jewish National Fund

By Pete Jones | June 9, 2010

JNF eBook (Volume II, May 2010): Preparing for Legal Action – Focus: Canada Park. Editor: Uri Davis. Forward: Salman Abu Sitta. (To view the book, click here)

The project to de-mask the sinister origins and workings of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), an organisation that, perversely, enjoys worldwide charitable status, has continued with the release of a second volume that, like the first, is to be published online as an e-book.

The first volume provided a broad overview of the birth of the JNF and its functional role as the colonialising arm of the World Zionist Organisation (WZO). The second volume does not skimp on explanatory background but, simultaneously, takes up a more direct challenge to the JNF’s legitimacy, analysing its work through the prism of the organisation’s status in Canada. This is largely undertaken in the context of the construction of the controversial Canada Park in the occupied West Bank atop the ruins of three Palestinian villages; a park that depended on contributions from JNF Canada (JNFC) for its construction.

Around this more specific discussion, the reader is consistently reminded of the broad illegitimacy of the JNF’s operations and charitable status and how, in fact, its work makes it directly complicit in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine from 1948 and the construction of an insidious apartheid legal structure in Israel. A brief and grossly reductive summary might proceed as follows: the JNF was established to protect lands in Israel for eternity and was to lease these lands only to Jews. Following the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948 the nascent Israeli state, fearing UN reprisals should this Palestinian land come under the aegis of a state organ, used the JNF to secure these territories while, eventually, giving the fund an integral and decisive role in the state administration of land in Israel. On the surface the JNF thus appears to control just 13% of the land in Israel, but in actuality its powerful influence in the Israeli Land Authority (ILA) means that it has a deciding say in the distribution and utilisation of over 90% of the state’s land.

The impact of the JNF’s private charter on Israeli state policy, thanks to the fund’s control over the ILA, means that, effectively, Arabs cannot lease land from this organisation because of the stipulation that the JNF lease to Jews only. Despite various challenges to this discriminatory policy (challenges that have even come from the Israeli High Court) the JNF has been allowed to continue its work and an accumulation and distribution of land that reinforces the apartheid legal system in Israel and makes a resolution of the question of Palestinian refugees increasingly complex and distant.

So it is with the JNF’s illegitimacy and culpability in mind that that the second volume of the e-book seeks to shift opposition to the JNF from the more traditional political and educational realms towards an effective legal challenge to its past and its present behaviour. The objection, in Canada, is that the JNF’s charity status means it was able to use tax-deductible Canadian dollars and Canada’s name in conjunction with the building of Canada Park on the ruins of three Palestinian villages – Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba – which were destroyed and whose 12,000 inhabitants were displaced in the course of the war crimes committed by the Zionist forces in 1948. The use of these tax-deductible dollars, collected from Canadian tax-payers, is being challenged by activists in Canada in the hope that this will lead, as editor and contributor Professor Uri Davis says, ‘to the removal of the JNF from the Canadian Registrar of Charities; to the nullification of the JNF tax exempt status in Canada; and to the classification of the JNF, together with all such bodies that are formally affiliated to the WZO and JA [the Jewish Agency for the Land of Israel] as illegal organizations in Canada.’

Professor Davis explains that the first hand eye witness reports in this volume are all admissible as evidence in a court of law as part of a legal challenge to the JNF. His own contribution, a powerful human rights-based defence of the opposition to the JNF, features an extraordinary eye witness account from a reserve soldier in the IDF at the time of the destruction of the three villages, and displacement of the resident population, that would pave the way for Canada Park. A re-wording cannot do justice to the soldier’s powerful, deeply human portrayal of the suffering of the villagers at the hands of the Zionist forces. It becomes clear that the young Israeli soldiers were unprepared for such a shocking and inhuman duty, and perhaps one can see the birth of today’s slick Israeli propaganda machine in the way in which the growing state was compelled to justify its actions to its own soldiers in the wake of the devastation wrought in 1967.

The twists and turns and shockingly cynical moves (striking even to those readers well acquainted with Israel’s capacity for contemptuously Machiavellian behaviour) in the history and growth of the JNF are drawn out in each contribution in different ways. One anecdote that is worth mentioning comes in Dr Ismail Zayid’s chapter where he explains that, following his public campaigning against the JNF Canada and Canada Park, he was sent a certificate from the JNFC explaining that they had planted a tree in the park in tribute to his name. That Dr Zayid’s campaign, on a platform of opposition to war crimes and abuse of human rights, should be responded to in such a derisory and insulting manner says much for the inhumanity of those at the head of the JNF.

It is to be hoped, then, that this book can help in the on-going struggle against not only the JNF, but all organs of the Israeli state that serve to perpetuate the racist apartheid state and maintain the suffering of Palestinians at the hands of their occupiers. Professor Davis’ hope that a substantial challenge can be made through the courts is to be admired and supported. He finishes his preface with the words:

“Justices, relative to politicians, are less prone to intimidation. Their primary reference is the constitution and the law – not campaign funding and the ballot box. Since political-Zionist apartheid values patently run counter to the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that inform liberal democratic constitutions, in the courtroom, and definitely in the constitutional courtroom, the JNF is almost sure to lose.”

If he is proved right, it will be a great day not only for opponents of the JNF and supporters of Palestine, but for advocates of justice and human rights worldwide.

– Pete Jones is a former journalist. He is involved with projects to raise awareness of the human rights abuses taking place under the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza, and works closely within the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign here in London.

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on Challenging the Jewish National Fund

Birobidzan experiencing a small revival, thanks to Jews arriving from Israel

Christian Science Monitor: Russians returning


Jewish Autonomous Region

Area
36,000 sq km

Capital
Birobidzhan

Key Industries
Construction materials, energy, machine engineering and metals, timber, pulp and paper, light, and food and beverages.

Transport infrastructure

The Jewish Autonomous Region has a well-developed transport infrastructure. The Amur River links the Region to the Pacific ocean. The Trans-Siberian railroad also crosses the Region.

Roads. The Jewish Autonomous Region has 1,640 kilometers of public highway. The Region’s main artery is the Khabarovsk – Birobidjan – Obluchie – Amur Region highway, with a ferry over the Amur river. The Region has international road links over the Amur River to the Chinese towns of Tongjiang, Mingshang and Jiayin.

Railroads. The Jewish Autonomous Region has 310 kilometers of railroad. The Trans-Siberian railroad links the Region to the rest of Russia.

Airports. The Region’s airport at Zhiolty Yar links Birobidjan with Khabarovsk and remote urban centers. The Region also plans to start international flights between Birobidjan and Jiamusi (China).

River transport. The total length of the Region’s waterways (Amur and Tunguska rivers) is 600 kilometers. Navigation is open on the Amur River for 180 days on average.

birobidzhan-jewish-autonomous-region_4

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Aletho News, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments

Afghanistan: The Mounting Casualties

Truth Seeker News Brief – June 9, 2010

Once again the Taliban are stepping up their efforts for the annual summer offensive and casualties among western forces in Afghanistan are mounting.

Early on Wednesday a U.S. Blackhawk helicopter was brought down by a rocket propelled grenade in Helmand province. Four U.S. servicemen were reported killed when the helicopter was shot down while trying to evacuate a wounded British soldier from a forward operating base. An explosion in the same province also reportedly killed a British soldier in separate incident earlier Wednesday.

These latest U.S. casualties bring the total of Americans killed this month to 18, while Nato forces have lost a total of 29 men in the first nine days of June.

On Monday June 7, NATO lost a total of 10 men in Afghanistan, seven of them Americans

Although the Taliban lack sophisticated missiles, they have nonetheless managed to bring down three helicopters in Helmand province in recent weeks.

With the deteriorating security situation NATO increasingly relies on helicopters for re-supply, even over relatively short distances, presenting the Taliban with more airborne targets for their rocket propelled grenades.

On Wednesday the Taliban were also reported to have torched up to 50 NATO supply trucks on the outskirts of Pakistan’s capitol, Islamabad. The trucks were part of a supply convoy on its way to Afghanistan

Over 75% of military supplies for western forces in Afghanistan and 40% of fuel needs pass through Pakistan. Supplies of food and vehicles are usually transported by road while ammunition and weapons are ferried in by air.

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | Comments Off on Afghanistan: The Mounting Casualties

A growing part of the Obama legacy

By Glenn Greenwald | June 9, 2010

Physicians for Human Rights yesterday released a report documenting (while relying on heavily redacted material) that “medical professionals who were involved in the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogations of terrorism suspects engaged in forms of human research and experimentation in violation of medical ethics and domestic and international law.”  To those paying close attention, the evidence suggesting that this occurred has long been clear.  Today, The New York Times Editorial Page said this:

The report from the physicians’ group does not prove its case beyond doubt — how could it when so much is still hidden? — but it rightly calls on the White House and Congress to investigate the potentially illegal human experimentation and whether those who authorized or conducted it should be punished. Those are just two of the many unresolved issues from the Bush administration that President Obama and Congressional leaders have swept under the carpet.

When the history of the Bush era is written, the obvious question will be:  what was done about the systematic war crimes, torture regime, chronic lawbreaking, and even human experimentation which that administration perpetrated on the world?  And the answer is now just as obvious:  nothing, because the subsequent President — Barack Obama — decreed that We Must Look Forward, Not Backward, and then engaged in extreme measures to carry out that imperial, Orwellian dictate by shielding those crimes from investigation, review, adjudication and accountability.

All of that would be bad enough if his generous immunity were being applied across the board.  But it isn’t.  Numerous incidents now demonstrate that as high-level Bush lawbreakers are vested with presidential immunity, low-level whistle blowers who exposed serious wrongdoing and allowed citizens some minimal glimpse into what our government does are being persecuted by the Obama administration with a vengeance.  Yesterday it was revealed by Wired that the Army intelligence officer analyst who reportedly leaked the Apache helicopter attack video to Wikileaks — and thus enabled Americans to see what we are really doing in Iraq and other countries which we occupy and attack — has been arrested (Wikileaks denies the part of that report claiming that the whistle blower also leaked to it “hundreds of thousands of classified State Department records”).  This latest episode led Der Spiegel today to decry Obama’s “war on whistle blowers” as more severe than the one waged by the Bush administration (English translation here).

At least in these areas, that’s the Obama administration in a nutshell:  protecting Bush extremism and war crimes from any form of accountability while significantly escalating the punishment for those who tried to bring about some minimal degree of transparency (thereby also escalating the intimidation toward those who might want to do so in the future).  As the very pro-Obama NYT Editorial Page puts it today:  the human experimentation accusation and the question of whether crimes were committed are just “two of the many unresolved issues from the Bush administration that President Obama and Congressional leaders have swept under the carpet.”  If you really think about it, that’s a rather damning statement.

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | Comments Off on A growing part of the Obama legacy

Israeli request for more arms from US raises fears of regional violence

By Catrina Stewart in Jerusalem | The Independent | 9 June 2010

Israel has approached the United States for more bombs and asked Washington to increase an emergency arms cache stowed on Israeli soil by 50 per cent, according to the leading newspaper Ha’aretz.

The approach, made by Defence Minister Ehud Barak during a recent visit to Washington, reflects the heightened tensions in recent months between the Jewish state and its neighbours that have given rise to widespread fears within Israel of an imminent regional conflict.

News of the request emerged as members of the international community stepped up the pressure yesterday for a thorough and impartial probe of last week’s Israeli raid of a Turkish vessel bound for Gaza with humanitarian aid that ended in a bloodbath.

The Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, who was attending a regional security summit in Turkey, added to the criticism of Israel and said he would raise the question of who would conduct an inquiry with the United Nations.

Israel has agreed to carry out an investigation, which could be overseen by two international observers, but would be limited to a theoretical debate of the merits of the raid and the blockade. The commandos who led the raid would not be questioned.

Israel has defended its land and sea blockade of Gaza, arguing that it prevents the flow of weapons to Hamas, the Islamist group that governs the strip. Critics say it constitutes collective punishment that has led to a humanitarian crisis.

Fearing that its enemies are rearming along its borders, Jerusalem has asked Washington to increase the emergency stores by $400m (£278m) to $1.2bn and is also seeking to buy more Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bombs from the US, the liberal newspaper Ha’aretz reported, citing unnamed sources.

The JDAM is a sophisticated satellite-guided bomb used extensively by Israel in the Lebanon War in 2006 and in its Gaza offensive at the end of 2008.

The Israeli Ministry of Defence refused to comment on the report and the US State Department did not respond to requests for comment.

Washington agreed in December to double stores to $800m worth of arms, including rockets, bombs and armoured vehicles, allowing the Israeli forces to use the equipment with US approval in the case of an emergency.

Israel has already done so in the past, falling back on the US munitions during the Lebanon War in which at least 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis were killed… Full article

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Wars for Israel | Comments Off on Israeli request for more arms from US raises fears of regional violence

The Outrage at Helen Thomas

While Israel Kills and Maims …

By ALISON WEIR | June 9, 2010

Whenever Israel commits yet another atrocity, its defenders are quick to redirect public attention away from the grisly crime scene.

Currently, there are headlines about allegedly anti-Semitic comments made by senior White House correspondent Helen Thomas. Pundits across the land evince outrage at her off-the-cuff 25-second statement made to a man who appears to be holding a camera right in her face.

Thomas issued a public apology for her words, but this was insufficient to assuage the wounded feelings of powerful antagonists, and she has now retired from a long and distinguished career.

Before we examine her comments and evaluate their possible validity, let’s look at other recent events having to do with Israel.

On May 31st Israeli commandos killed at least nine unarmed volunteers attempting to take humanitarian supplies to Gaza.

According to eyewitness reports and forensic evidence, many of these aid volunteers were shot at close range, including a 19-year-old American citizen killed by four bullets to the head and one to the chest fired from 18 inches away.

Israel immediately imprisoned eyewitnesses and hundreds of other aid participants, confiscated their cameras, laptops, and other possessions, and prevented them from speaking to the press for days. Among the incarcerated were decorated U.S. veterans and an 80-year-old former ambassador who had been deputy director of Reagan’s Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism.

When they finally emerged and were able to tell their stories, many described horrific scenes of Israeli commandos shooting people in the head, of those tending the injured being shot in the stomach, of people bleeding to death while flotilla participants waved white flags and pled for help.

They also described being beaten brutally by Israeli forces, again and again – including those on ships that, in the U.S. media’s judgment, experienced “no violence.” A 64-year-old piano tuner from California, Paul Larudee, described hundreds of Israeli commandos boarding his ship. When he refused to cooperate with them, soldiers then beat him numerous times both on board the ship and after he was imprisoned on land.

Eventually he was taken by ambulance to an Israeli hospital. He wasn’t treated, however, and Larudee believes he was taken there because Israel didn’t want media to see his black eye, pronated joints, bruised jaw and body contusions.

Marine veteran Ken O’Keefe described similar beatings while in Israeli custody. In his case, the public was able to see his bloodied, battered face in video clips and still images – but only on the Internet, since American mainstream media failed to report on his press conference or to publish the many still photos of his injuries.

Other gruesome photos available to the American public only on the Internet are of Emily Henochowicz, a 21-year-old American student whose eye and eye socket were recently shattered by Israeli forces. She has since had her eyeball removed, three metal plates inserted in her face, and her jaw wired shut.

Henochowicz was not on the flotilla; she was taking part in a nonviolent demonstration against the Israeli assault when an Israeli soldier shot a high-velocity teargas canister into her face.

A Swedish citizen standing with Henochowicz said, “They clearly saw us. They clearly saw that we were internationals and it really looked as though they were trying to hit us. They fired many canisters at us in rapid succession. One landed on either side of Emily, then the third one hit her in the face.”

Henochowicz is not the first to have been shot by such a canister.

Thirty-year-old Basem Ibrahim Abu Rahmeh died when an Israeli soldier shot one at him at close range while Abu Rahmeh participated in a demonstration against Israeli confiscation of Palestinian farmland. A video of this is also available on You Tube; U.S. networks have also chosen not to broadcast this.

Californian Tristan Anderson was shot in the head by a similar canister while he was taking photographs following another demonstration. Part of Anderson’s brain was removed and he was in a “minimally responsive state” for 6-7 months.

He is now in a wheelchair, has almost no movement in his left arm and leg, is blind in one eye, and his mental functioning is significantly reduced. Photos of the shooting are also available on the Internet.

Since at least 2006 Israeli forces have closed off Gaza to the outside world, essentially imprisoning 1.5 million men, women, and children, and denying them foodstuffs, medicines, and building materials, as documented by such agencies as Amnesty International, Oxfam, and Christian Aid, which said that Israel was using food and medicine as weapons.

One of the multitudinous victims of this illegal siege is five-year-old Taysir Al Burai, who suffers from an acute neurological disorder and requires round-the-clock care. According to the UK Guardian, he could be cured if Israel would allow him to leave Gaza, but to date his parents’ repeated requests have been denied.

Another victim is 7-month-old Mohammad Khader, whose swelling in the brain required specialized treatment unavailable in Gazan hospitals depleted by the Israeli siege. His distraught parents’ applications asking Israel to allow them to travel abroad were similarly denied. Their tiny son died a few days ago.

Such stories go on and on.

Thomas’ “outrageous” statement

Yet, the rage we see in the U.S. media is directed against none of this. People shot in the head, eyes and brain parts destroyed, the elderly beaten, small children and infants caused to suffer and die, parents to grieve – none of this has caused a hint of anger. In fact, most of it has been considered of too little importance even to report.

Instead, media reports are filled with outrage at “anti-Israel” words spoken by 89-year-old Helen Thomas.

In Thomas’s lifetime Israel has ethnically cleansed over a million people, replaced them with colonists from around the world, committed dozens of massacres, tortured thousands of people, killed and maimed untold numbers of children, mangled limbs, and committed outrages on women, old people, the weak and the infirm.

It has assassinated people throughout the world, invaded numerous countries, spied on the U.S., killed and injured 200 American servicemen (the anniversary is this week), and tortured and imprisoned Americans. All while receiving more American money than any other country on earth.

For years, long before her recent words, Thomas has been the target of Israel’s vicious American volunteers, the Zionist blogosphere abounding with nasty slurs on her looks and her Lebanese ancestry, this latter also consistently emphasized by the media, despite her Kentucky birth and upbringing.

One of the reasons for the ferocious animosity toward her is the fact that Thomas is one of the very few mainstream reporters to challenge the neocon engendered lies that led the U.S. into wars that have caused massive death, destruction and tragedy and to continue to expose ongoing policies of violence and cruelty.

As the same groups and individuals who pushed the US into attacking Iraq have in recent years been escalating their efforts to push the U.S. to now similarly decimate Iranians under the pretext that Iran might be developing nuclear weapons, Thomas’s questioning attempted to elicit from Obama the fact that Israel already possesses nuclear weapons. While the rest of the press corps has conspired in the cover-up of this fact and others, Thomas worked to expose them.

Not surprisingly, the many people complicit in these manipulations, such as former Bush spokesperson Ari Fleischer, have led the charge against her.

It is useful to examine the video and context of Thomas’s allegedly “anti-Semitic” comment.

A man, apparently holding a camera right in her face, asks for her comments about Israel. She says, “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine. Remember, these people are occupied. And it’s their land…” He interrupts her and asks where they should go. She responds, “They should go home. To Germany, Poland, America, and everywhere else.”

While Thomas has since apologized for her hasty words and many Israelis have the right to continue living where they are, the reality is that Israeli settlers did, indeed, come from elsewhere; they are, in fact, illegally occupying Palestinian land (a fact acknowledged even by the U.S. State Department); and international law does require that they leave.

Many commentators evince particular anger at Thomas’s inclusion of Germany and Poland as places to which Israeli colonists should return, suggesting that Hitler is still in control and waiting to pounce.

The happy fact is, however, that World War II and the Nazi holocaust ended well over half a century ago. In Poland today there is a vibrant Jewish revival with a 10-foot tall Menorah being lit in the center of Warsaw during Hanukah, and Germany has become, according to the New York Times, “a country where Jews want to live.” In fact, in recent years more Jews have chosen to immigrate to Germany than to Israel.

Thomas’s call for colonists to return to America (this destination was left out of many articles) is far from outrageous given that a great many West Bank settlers are from the U.S.

Overall, reporting on the incident has largely departed from the standard journalistic practice of quoting people from both sides of an issue. Quotes from Thomas supporters are missing, even though the You Tube page featuring the infamous video contains a large number of comments supporting her. In contrast, quotes from Thomas’s detractors, almost all of them Zionists, are ubiquitous, but generally fail to divulge the speakers’ frequent conflicts of interest.

For example, the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz quotes Jeffrey Goldberg without mentioning that Goldberg is an Israeli citizen who served as a prison guard at an Israeli prison that held hundreds of Palestinians without charge, some killed in cold blood by the prison commander.

Mainstream media organizations do not seem to have investigated reports that the man who videotaped Thomas, Rabbi David Nesenoff, also made an offensive video featuring himself and another man impersonating a buffoonish Catholic priest and Mexican immigrant.

Similarly, news reports that a high school had disinvited Thomas as a graduation speaker almost never inform readers that many of the school’s parents and students wished Thomas to remain, even though this unreferenced group may represent a majority of the school. Members of this group have created a Facebook page, “Helen Thomas should have been our graduation speaker,” that states:

“The purpose of this group is to quietly but firmly protest the ability of a small minority to impose its will on the larger group through engaging or threatening to engage in disruptive discourse. This group affirms a belief in reasonable discussion and feel that in this scenario, a clear minority was able to override a larger majority by distorting the issues and discussion.”

It is not known who will take over Thomas’s front-row seat at White House briefings. Given the record of the current press corps, it is likely that Israel partisans are breathing a sign of relief.

Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew. Photos and videos referenced in the article can be viewed on the website (http://ifamericansknew.org) She can be reached at contact@ifamericansknew.org

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 14 Comments

BBC sabotaging Press TV broadcasts

Press TV – 09 June 2010

The British Broadcasting Corporation is showering Afghan cable networks with lucrative deals to cut their broadcast of Iran’s English-language news channel, Press TV.

The Press TV bureau in Kabul was informed on Wednesday that “a number of BBC employees have recently contacted the cable networks’ union in Herat to persuade them into breaking contract with Press TV and blocking all satellite transmission of its programs.”

“The BBC reportedly offered to triple the union’s pay once it agrees to strip Press TV of its broadcasting rights in Herat,” the bureau added.

The move has drawn sharp criticism from media figures in Iran, who believe it is in line with US efforts to limit Press TV activities in Afghanistan, which is grappling with an all-out humanitarian crisis since the US-led invasion in 2001.

Last year, US military forces confiscated technical equipment of Press TV’s Afghanistan bureau, only days before Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a visit to the country.

Local reports revealed that Press TV has started to emerge as a popular news source among the people and even journalists in Afghanistan.

According to the reports, Afghan officials and ordinary citizens have welcomed Press TV as an alternative, more credible news source, ever since it became available on cable in Kabul and various provinces.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, meanwhile, recently told a private gathering that he tunes into Press TV’s news reports as he finds them to be more reliable and enlightening than other English language news sources.

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | Comments Off on BBC sabotaging Press TV broadcasts

You’re talking bollox, Mr Regev

A short primer on Israeli propaganda for media dummies

By Stuart Littlewood | Redress | 9 June 2010

What were Israel’s excuses for hijacking the Free Gaza ships in international waters and imprisoning their passengers after gunning down nine of them and wounding several more?

  • There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and
  • Israel already allows sufficient humanitarian aid into Gaza so the flotilla was “an armada of hate and violence”, said Israel’s deputy foreign minister.

But according to John Ging, United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) director of operations in Gaza, “It’s a struggle to survive [with] the infrastructure and water and sanitation in a state of collapse and all that goes with that… People are at their wits’ end to understand when all of this will come to an end.”

  • If the Free Gaza ships delivered the humanitarian cargo to the Israeli port of Ashdod, Israel would ensure it was delivered to Gaza after checking it for arms.

That’s very unlikely. The report “Failing Gaza: No rebuilding, no recovery, no more excuses” by a group of 16 European non-governmental organizations, published in December 2009, showed that the Israelis allow only a feeble trickle and what is permitted changes from day to day.

  • Israel could not allow the ships into Gaza without searching them for arms that might be of use to Hamas.

There are peaceful alternatives for checking cargoes. Besides, it’s time Israel implemented The Agreement on Movement and Access it signed in November 2005, under which it promised to allow its crossings into Gaza to “operate continuously” so that people and goods could move freely.

The agreement also provides for

  • the reduction of obstacles to movement within the West Bank
  • bus and truck convoys between the West Bank and Gaza
  • the building of a new seaport in Gaza
  • reopening of the airport in Gaza

There would then be no need for ships bringing humanitarian aid.

The European Council on 8 December 2009 stated: “The EU again reiterates its calls for an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza. In this context, the council calls for the full implementation of The Agreement on Movement and Access.”

Israel has ignored countless verbal appeals. The EU is in position to twist its arm because it has granted Israel privileged access to European markets under the EU-Israel Association Agreement and the plug can be pulled. These trading advantages are conditional on Israel showing respect for human rights and democratic principles. Compliance is an essential element, not an option.

  • Israel’s interference with the mercy ships was an act of self-defence against the threat posed by Hamas firing rockets and mortars out of Gaza.

This isn’t about rockets. A ceasefire, brokered by Egypt, was negotiated with Hamas in June 2008. Hamas honoured the agreement, firing no rockets and restraining other resistance groups. Israel broke the ceasefire on 4 November by suddenly making a military incursion into Gaza and killing seven members of Hamas. Operation Cast Lead followed, supposedly to stop the rockets. The deaths of over 1,400 people and the maiming of thousands more were unnecessary. All Israel needed to do was observe the ceasefire. It chose not to.

And whatever Israel may say, the blockade inflicts “collective punishment” on the people of Gaza, which is a violation of international law and Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

  • Hamas wants to destroy Israel.

Not true. Hamas has said it will accept Israel within its internationally-recognized 1967 borders, which is the same position the United Nations has adopted.

  • Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu now says “dozens of thugs” from what he called “an extremist, terrorism-supporting” organization were on-board the flotilla.

No evidence has been produced so far.

  • Israel is a vibrant democracy.

Actually, Israel is a racist ethnocracy, which discriminates in countless vile ways against its Arab minority.

As usual, Israel’s chief propagandist, Mark Regev, was on hand to give the tragedy the benefit of his spin.

  • “We did everything we could to avoid violence… They [the aid workers] chose the path of confrontation… Our boarding party was attacked with live fire…”

No such weapons were found.

  • “Violence was initiated by these activists…”

No, violence was initiated by armed troops storming the peace ships in the dead of night.

  • “We didn’t attack them, they attacked us… We tried to do, in accordance with international law, a peaceful intervention as they were entering a blockaded area…”

International law does not permit armed intervention in international waters, and the blockaded area has no legal basis.

  • “There are no shortages in Gaza…”

That is not what the UN and countless NGOs and charities say.

Meanwhile, in London, Israel’s ambassador, Ron Prosor, was saying:

  • “The people on board the ships behaved appallingly… they really did everything in order to provoke and confront…”

What is confrontational about sailing lawfully and peacefully on a humanitarian mission?

  • “We disengaged completely out of Gaza…”

No, Israel remains in occupation of Gaza’s airspace and coastal waters and in control of all entrances and exits except on the Egyptian border. It has Gaza bottled up.

As always, newspaper and television editors, reporters and presenters were happy to retell the Israeli version of events, the distortion and the plain lies, along with the exaggerated language such as “extremists” and “militants” to describe aid workers, without bothering to examine or question the material in any way.

More pearls of wisdom from Regev

Mark Regev, the Israeli prime minister’s spokesman, is a rich source of propaganda nonsense, for example…

  • “It’s not just Israel who refuses to speak to Hamas. It’s the whole international community… Most of the democratic world refuses to have a relationship with Hamas because Hamas has refused to meet the most minimal benchmarks of international behaviour.”

Isn’t that a little cheeky, Mr Regev, coming from a regime widely condemned for war crimes, piracy and mega-lawlessness?

  • “It was the former UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, that put four benchmarks on the table. And he said, speaking for the international community…That if Hamas reforms itself… If Hamas recognizes my country’s right to live in freedom… If Hamas renounces terrorism against innocent civilians… If Hamas supports international agreements that are being signed and agreed to concerning the peace process… then the door is open. But unfortunately – tragically – Hamas has failed to meet even one of those four benchmarks. And that’s why today Hamas is isolated internationally. Even the United Nations refuses to speak to Hamas.

Which of those benchmarks has Israel met, Mr Regev?

If you’re getting the impression that Israel is going all-out to demonize Hamas you’d be right, as we’ll see later.

  • “Iran’s President openly talks about wiping Israel off the map. The Iranian nuclear programme is a threat, not just to my country, but to the entire region. And it’s incumbent upon us all to do what needs to be done to keep from proliferating.”

Why is Israel the only state in the region not to have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Mr Regev? Are we all supposed to believe that Israel’s 200 (or is it 400?) nuclear warheads pose no threat to the region? Would you also tell us why Israel hasn’t signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and hasn’t ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty or the Chemical Weapons Convention? What proof do you have of Iran’s nuclear weapons plans?

And why do you deliberately misquote Mr Ahmadinejad? For the record, the Iranian president said, quoting the late Ayatollah Khomeini: “The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.”

Israel’s Crapaganda Handbook

The Israeli administration’s scriptwriters use a propaganda training manual that teaches the art of lying and how to sugar-coat their poison so that gullible audiences will easily swallow it. Everything Israel dislikes, and everything that thwarts their lust for domination, is now labeled “Iranian-backed”… They would have us believe that everyone in the West – and that includes you and me and the dog – is in mortal danger from Iran and must therefore huddle together in a collective act of aggression orchestrated by Tel Aviv and Washington.

Situations are defined in language that suits only Israel’s case and ensures that Israel’s narrative, which has little or nothing to do with truth, is the one that is carried by the media.

Take, for example, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to the UN in 2009. Referring to the critical Goldstone report on Israel’s blitzkrieg against Gaza, he said:

Israel justly defended itself against terror. This biased and unjust report is a clear-cut test for all governments. Will you stand with Israel or will you stand with the terrorists?

The false choice is a propaganda favourite. Why would anyone wish to stand alongside either? The fact is, Israel reneged on a ceasefire agreement just before it launched its murderous onslaught, which it had been planning for months.

In 2005, hoping to advance peace, Israel unilaterally withdrew from every inch of Gaza… We didn’t get peace. Instead we got an Iranian backed terror base 50 miles from Tel Aviv. Life in Israeli towns and cities next to Gaza became a nightmare. You see, the Hamas rocket attacks not only continued, they increased tenfold. Again, the UN was silent.

Israel, camped on the Gazans’ doorstep and still occupying Gaza’s airspace and coastal waters, lobs high explosives into the tiny enclave’s 1.5 million starving and defenceless civilians, and there’s no escape because all exits are sealed.

…If Israel is again asked to take more risks for peace, we must know today that you will stand with us tomorrow. Only if we have the confidence that we can defend ourselves can we take further risks for peace.

What exactly are these “risks for peace” Israel has so bravely taken? In 62 years what peace dividends has Israel delivered?

The 116-page manual is designed to help the worldwide Zionist movement win the propaganda war, keep their ill-gotten territorial gains and persuade international audiences to accept that their crimes are necessary and in line with “shared values” between Israel and the West.

It was written by The Israel Project, which describes itself as “devoted to educating the press and the public about Israel while promoting security, freedom and peace”. The organization claims to provide journalists, leaders and opinion-formers with “accurate information about Israel”.

What it really does is undermine with clever words and discredited techniques the inalienable rights pledged by the UN to all peoples, including the Palestinians.

The manual teaches the sort of propaganda bollox that Israel’s scribblers and drivellers use to try to justify the slaughter, the ethnic cleansing, the land-grabbing, the cruelty and their blatant disregard for international law and UN resolutions, and make it all smell sweet with a liberal sprinkling of persuasive words. It is designed to hoodwink hard-bitten media types into believing that we actually share values with the racist regime in Israel and that its abominable behaviour is therefore deserving of support.

Priority: isolate Hamas

How does it do that?The manual’s strategy from the start is to demonize the democratically-elected Hamas and rob the resistance movement and the Palestinian population of their human rights. It is packed with advice such as this:

  • “Clearly differentiate between the Palestinian people and Hamas… Hamas is a terrorist organization – Americans get that already. But if it sounds like you are attacking the Palestinian people (even though they elected Hamas) rather than their leadership, you will lose public support.”
  • “The big picture approach is this: You must isolate Hamas as:

– A critical cause of the delay in achieving a two-state solution
– The biggest source of harm to the Palestinian people, and
– The reason why Israel must defend its people from living in terror.
– Read from the Hamas Charter. Now, here’s how to attack Hamas: indict them with their own indoctrination materials. Yes, people know Hamas is a terrorist organization – but they don’t know just how terrifying Hamas can be. The absolute best way to heighten their awareness is to read from the Hamas Charter itself. Don’t just “quote” from it. Read it. Out loud. Again and again. Hand it out to everyone.”

That’s a very good point. Hamas is mad not to have rewritten its charter. Israel’s barbarous behaviour makes Hamas look good, but all that will count for nothing if the charter remains unchanged.

  • “Israel’s right to defensible borders: The big picture is that they [specifically the Americans, but equally the British and other Europeans] believe that Hamas’s leadership of Gaza has made Israel and the region less safe… they are willing to grant Israel more leeway in resisting calls to give more land for more peace.”

Here we see the motive for demonizing Hamas: Israel wants more leeway to continue its land-grabs and colonization. The idea that they are “giving land for peace” is utterly absurd – they are required to return land they have seized at gunpoint.

  • “If… If… If…Then. Put the burden on Hamas to make the first move for peace by using If’s. If Hamas reforms… If Hamas recognize our right to exist… If Hamas renounces terrorism… If Hamas supports international peace agreements… then we are willing to make peace today.”

Just substitute Israel for Hamas. It reads much better.

  • “Peace can only be made with adversaries who want to make peace with you. Terrorist organizations like Iran-backed Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are, by definition, opposed to peaceful coexistence, and determined to prevent reconciliation. I ask you, how do you negotiate with those who want you dead?”

Hamas and Hezbollah are only regarded as terrorists by the White House and Tel Aviv, and by US-Israeli stooges elsewhere.

The definition Bush used to blacklist those it suited him to accuse of committing, threatening to commit or supporting terrorism goes as follows…

“The term “terrorism” means an activity that –

(i) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure; and
(ii) appears to be intended –

(a) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(b) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(c) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping, or hostage-taking.

This of course fits the US and Israel perfectly.

  • “There is never, ever, any justification for the deliberate slaughter of innocent women and children. Never …  civilized people do not target innocent women and children for death.”

So where does that leave Israel, which recently killed 320 children in Gaza and 773 civilians including 109 women? From 2000 up to the start of Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 Israel had slaughtered 4,790 Palestinians in their homeland, including 952 children, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. In the same period Palestinians killed 490 Israelis in Israel including 84 children. So Israel’s kill-rate is nearly 10 to 1, and rising since the blitzkrieg on Gaza.

Israelis are also expert at making families homeless. Since 1967, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), Israel has demolished in total 24,145 homes in the occupied territories, including 4,247 (a UN figure) destroyed during Operation Cast Lead.

Israel talks a lot about its right to defend itself. Here is the rationale:

  • “Americans fundamentally believe that a democracy has a right to protect its people and its borders… There is one and only one argument that will work for Israel:

(1) As a democracy, Israel has the right and the responsibility to defend its borders and protect its people.
(2) Terrorist groups, including Iran-backed Hezbollah and Hamas, continue to pose a direct threat to Israeli security and have repeatedly taken innocent Israeli lives.
(3) Israel is America’s one and only true ally in the region. In these particularly unstable and dangerous times, Israel should not be forced to go it alone.
(4) With America’s financial assistance, Israel can defend its borders, protect its people, and provide invaluable assistance to the American effort against the war against terrorism.”

But it seems that Americans don’t believe in democracy enough to allow Palestinian democracy to flourish.

  • “When the terror ends, Israel will no longer need to have challenging checkpoints to inspect goods and people. When the terror ends we will no longer need a security fence.”

No rockets are coming out of the West Bank, so why is the wall still there – and still being built? Why are the occupation troops still there? Why are hundreds of checkpoints still there? Why is Israel still stealing land, demolishing Palestinian homes and building settlements there?

  • “Remind people – again and again – that Israel wants peace.  Reason One: If Americans see no hope for peace… they will not want their government to spend tax dollars or their president’s clout on helping Israel. Reason Two: The speaker that is perceived as being most for peace will win the debate… peace should be at the core of whatever message you wish to convey.”

Israelis do NOT want peace and never have. They failed to honour previous peace accords. Every action is directed at provoking security crises and keeping the conflict boiling until they have stolen enough land and established enough ‘”acts on the ground” – Jews-only settlements, highways, disconnected Palestinian bantustans – to enable them to re-draw the map to suit their expansionist agenda and make the occupation permanent.

  • “Draw direct parallels between Israel and America – including the need to defend against terrorism… The more you focus on the similarities between Israel and America, the more likely you are to win the support of those who are neutral. Indeed, Israel … faces many of the same challenges as America in protecting their citizens.”

Israel’s strategy is dependent on the false idea that they are victims of terror and Western nations need to rally round Israel for mutual protection.

  • “The language of Israel is the language of America: ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, ‘security’ and ‘peace’. These four words are at the core of the American political, economic, social and cultural systems, and they should be repeated as often as possible because they resonate with virtually every American… Remind your audience that Israel wants peace and then repeat the messages of democracy, freedom and peace over and over again…. we need to repeat the message, on average, ten times to be effective… But don’t confuse messages with facts…. “

Right, never let facts get in the way of a good message! The only word that matters to Israel is security (at everyone else’s expense, of course). How can democracy be a shared value when Israel is a nasty ethnocracy? How can freedom be a shared value when the world is still waiting for Israel to end the occupation and allow the Palestinians their freedom.

  • “How can the current Palestinian leadership honestly say it will pursue peace when previous leaders rejected an offer to create a Palestinian state just a few short years ago and now refuse to live up to their responsibilities as outlined in the Road Map?”

This refers to Ehud Barak’s so-called “generous offer”, a favourite myth. It wasn’t enough that the Palestinians, at the time of the Oslo Agreements in 1993, were willing to concede 78 per cent of the land that was originally theirs, accept the remaining 22 per cent and recognize Israel within “Green Line” borders (i.e. the 1949 Armistice Line), Barak wanted to include 69 Israeli settlements within the Palestinians’ 22 per cent. He also demanded that the Palestinian territories be placed under “temporary Israeli control”, meaning Israeli military and administrative control indefinitely. The “generous offer also gave Israel control over all the border crossings of the new Palestinian state. What nation in the world would accept that?

  • “Why is the world so silent about the written, vocal, stated aims of Hamas?”

Why is the world silent about the written, stated aims of the racist regime and its political parties? Read their manifestos.

  • “The situation in the Middle East may be complicated, but all parties should adopt a simple approach: peace first, political boundaries second.”

Why should Palestinians renounce resistance while Israel’s jackboot is still on their throat? The international community should first insist on Israel’s compliance with international law and the many UN resolutions it has defied. The boundaries are already defined by these. Whatever issues then remain to be decided, Palestinians should not have to negotiate with a gun to their heads.

  • “Bottom line: What will happen if we fail to get the world to care about the fact that Israeli parents in southern Israel need to literally dodge rockets when they drive their children to kindergarten in the morning?”

Only one in 500 makeshift Qassam rockets causes a fatality. The devastation and carnage resulting from the barrage of Israel’s state-of-the-art rocketry targeted on Gaza is a very different story.

  • “Humanize Rockets: Paint a vivid picture of what life is like in Israeli communities that are vulnerable to attack. Yes, cite the number of rocket attacks that have occurred. But immediately follow that up with what it is like to make the nightly trek to the bomb shelter.”

Israel claims 12,000 rockets were fired from Gaza in the eight years up to the start of Operation Cast Lead. Would they care to tell the world how many bombs, rockets and shells (including the illegal and prohibited variety) Israel’s F-16s, tanks, armed drones and navy gunboats poured into the densely-packed humanity that is Gaza in the same period? Probably not.

And Israelis are careful not to mention that the township of Sderot, targeted by Gaza’s rockets and a major propaganda asset for Regev and company, is built on the ruins of an ethnically cleansed Palestinian village whose inhabitants were forced to flee by Jewish terrorists.

  • “Living together, side by side. This is the best way to describe the ultimate vision of a two-state solution without using the phrase.”

Sounds cute and fluffy, but who would want to live alongside bigots and extremists who have made your life hell for 62 years?

  • “When talking about a Palestinian partner, it is essential to distinguish between Hamas and everyone else. Only the most anti-Israel, pro- Palestinian American expects Israel to negotiate with Hamas, so you have to be clear that you are seeking a ‘moderate Palestinian partner’.”

What gives anyone, American or Israeli, the right to ignore a nation’s democratically elected representatives? And where are the moderate Israeli partners?

  • “The fight is over ideology, not land; terror, not territory. Thus, you must avoid using Israel’s religious claims to land as a reason why Israel should not give up land. Such claims only make Israel look extremist to people who are not religious Christians or Jews.”

If the fight isn’t about land, why has Israel been stealing it? And why won’t they give it back when told to by the UN?

  • “Think pro-Palestinian…I particularly want to reach out to Palestinian mothers who have lost their children. No parent should have to bury their child.”

Reach for the sick-bag. Israel won’t even allow cement into Gaza to build the graves.

  • “And so I say to my Palestinian colleagues … you can stop the bloodshed. You can stop the suicide bombings and rocket attacks. If you really want to, you can put an end to this cycle of violence. If you won’t do it for our children, do it for your children.”

This is recommended as “an effective sound bite” for pro-Israel activists.

  • “I want to see a future where the Palestinians govern themselves. Israel does not want to govern a single Palestinian. Not one. We want them to govern themselves. We want them to have complete self-determination.”

Pure tosh! That’s not what Israel’s political parties are pledging. For decades Israel has dismissed the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. It is desperate to snuff out Palestine’s fledgling democracy and destroy its chosen government.

What’s to become of the Holy City?

  • “The toughest issue to communicate will be the final resolution of Jerusalem. Americans overwhelmingly want Israel to be in charge of the religious holy sites and are frankly afraid of the consequences should Israel turn over control to the Palestinians.”

Israel is in control right now and prevents Muslims and Christians from outside the city from visiting the holy places. Israel has proved it can’t be trusted. In any case, the UN’s partition plan decreed that Jerusalem should become a “corpus separatum” – an international city – under international management…

In addition to their expertise in disinformation the Israelis are adept at concealing or destroying the evidence of their crimes. We saw it again with the confiscation of the flotilla passengers’ cameras, phones, laptops and other personal effects. If they ever get them back they’ll be corrupted. Israel also makes it difficult for even VIPs to enter Gaza – they don’t want outsiders inspecting their major crime scene. Anything to obstruct justice and make it difficult to bring their thugs to book.

Israel’s dirty tricks will be to no avail in the end. They are beginning to lose the propaganda war. That was inevitable. In the long run you cannot succeed with a communications programme based on lies and deception. Even the best public relations is only as good as the “product” or brand, and “Brand Israel’s” reputation was never great. It has now fallen off a cliff. The truth is spreading despite big efforts by mainstream media to block or disguise it.

The thing we must cling to is the obligation that binds all decent people to respect and promote human rights. The following words, written nearly 62 years ago, explain why good will eventually triumph over the selfish and evil outpourings of the Israeli crapaganda machine.

Now, Therefore the General Assembly proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk.

Thanks to Dr David Morrison for sending me the Sadaka Briefing Papers that inspired this article. See:
http://www.sadaka.ie/Files/Israels_bogus_excuses_for_piracy.pdf and
http://www.sadaka.ie/Files/The_blockade_of_Gaza_must_be_lifted_completely.pdf

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Deception | Comments Off on You’re talking bollox, Mr Regev

Former US Professor Arrested in Al-Walaja

Palestine Monitor | 9 June 2010

Former Yale Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh was among three demonstrators arrested this morning, as Israeli soldiers brutally stopped a demonstration in Al-Walaja. Aaron Dearborn reports from the field.All images by Kara Newhouse.

Dr Qumsiyeh was allegedly arrested and taken for interrogation as soldiers believed he was a “security threat”, however they did not provide specific details.

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Also arrested under similar circumstances was an Israeli activist, Shay Chalatzi of Tel Aviv, allegedly for insulting the military unit as he protested the arrest of Dr Qumsiyeh.

Both arrests occurred after the demonstration was over and activists were attempting to leave the area. Soldiers followed the demonstrators as they walked away from the construction site to make the arrests.

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At around 7am this morning, approximately 25-30 demonstrators marched on the scene of the wall construction, with two activists chaining themselves to bulldozers.

Yotam Wolfe of Jerusalem was arrested immediately as the military arrived; forcibly removed from a bulldozer to which he was chained by the neck.

At one point, the Israeli contractor in charge of the site attempted to attack the demonstrators and had to be forcibly restrained by the military.

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Soldiers than began shoving the crowd and threatening arrests, as demonstrators were forced out of the construction site and onto the village roads.

The crowd then staged a peaceful sit down demonstration with soldiers not permitting demonstrators to move.

All three are believed to be held at the 300 check point in Bethlehem and are currently under interrogation.

The demonstrations came in response to the uprooting of trees and the overturning of land in preparation for the construction of the separation wall which threatens to cut the villagers from their agricultural lands.

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | Comments Off on Former US Professor Arrested in Al-Walaja

Jewish rabbis storm the Aqsa with security protection

Palestine Information Center | June 9, 2010

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – Senior Jewish rabbis stormed the holy Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem on Tuesday passing through the Maghareba gate under protection of Israeli occupation police.

Palestinian sources said that the rabbis climbed over the roof of the holy site and toured the area.

Dr. Taleb Abu Shaar, the Awkaf and religious affairs minister in Gaza Strip, lashed out at the Israeli occupation authority for allowing the “sacrilegious visit”.

He described the step as “unethical” and in violation of heavenly religions, pointing out that the rabbis stepped with their shoes on the holy site.

The minister warned of the continued targeting of the holy site, which falls in line with attempts to judaize occupied Jerusalem and the holy Aqsa compound.

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | 6 Comments

The crimes I saw on the Mavi Marmara

Lubna Masarwa writing from Kfor Qara, Live from Palestine, 8 June 2010

During the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara, deep in international waters, I was inside the body of the ship. We were unarmed civilians ranging in age from a one-year-old child to an 88-year-old priest. We were going to Gaza to break the siege that Israel has imposed on a million-and-a-half people for the last four years. We were carrying a cargo of humanitarian and construction aid as well as letters from Turkish children to the children of Gaza. We were full of hope. When the attack began at 4am on 31 May 2010, our ship was transformed into a military target. On the deck, at first there was heavy firing, and then the Israeli occupation’s commandos took control of the ship.

Minutes after the attack began, wounded and corpses were being brought inside from the deck. We were then held for several hours with four bodies and dozens of wounded, some in critical condition. Blood was pouring from the bodies of the dead and the injured. We wanted to help them, but we had no medical equipment to treat them. There was nothing we could do. One Turkish woman was crying and saying goodbye to the body of her dead husband, petting his face and reading the Quran over him. Another man had a bullet wound in his head and was dying.

From 5am on, we were begging the Israeli navy to provide medical assistance to the wounded and dying but received no response. We made the request in English and Hebrew through the loudspeaker and also wrote a sign in Hebrew reading, “SOS … people dying in need of immediate medical attention” and put it on the window in front of them. They ordered the people with the sign to get lost.

At around 7am they ordered us to come to the exit door one by one. I requested in Hebrew that medics be allowed to stay with the wounded; a solider told me to shut my mouth. Later he called me, “You, tell the wounded that if they want to stay alive, they should come out one by one.” We tried to bring the injured out individually, but they could not walk and were falling down.

We were transferred to the upper deck. We were searched; our hands were tied, and we were forced to sit or kneel on the deck as a military helicopter hovered within meters above our heads. Heavily-armed soldiers with guns and knives strapped to their arms and legs stood guard over us with dogs. They were standing around us with the blood of their victims on their boots, joking and making lewd sexual suggestions to each other about the female prisoners. Then Israeli personell came and strutted around the ship. We were held this way for hours. I was held here until 1:40am on 1 June 2010.

As soon as the Israeli occupation forces learned that I was a Palestinian Israeli citizen, I was treated more harshly and isolated from the rest of the other imprisoned passengers. I was taken to a prison in Ashkelon where I was held in isolation and subjected to humiliations such as strip searches four times a day. The next day we were brought to court, and I was held in a small metal box inside the police car for eight hours with my hands and legs shackled. We were subjected to various accusations, from attacking soldiers to carrying weapons. The judge gave the police permission to extend our detention for another eight days. After international pressure forced the Israeli authorities to release all the foreign prisoners, all the Palestinian citizens of Israel were taken to court again. This time, the judge ruled that we would be subject house arrest and would be forbidden to leave the country for 45 days.

As an occupier and a colonizer, Israel depends on the principle of “divide and conquer” in order to maintain its control. It is especially threatened by people like the Palestinian delegation from 1948 (what is now referred to as Israel) who sailed to Gaza on the Mavi Marmara, because we defy Israel’s attempt to divide us as Palestinians. By struggling with our sisters and brothers under the siege, we also send the message that we are one people and our struggle is one struggle. Israel is threatened by solidarity.

That Israel should murder civilians in international waters is not strange. It is a direct continuation of its policy of targeting civilians with lethal force and deadly policies such as the siege of Gaza, and Israeli policies of occupation and apartheid.

Israel feels entitled to besiege, to kill and to attack civilians in international water. This results from the silence of the world that makes Israel believe it has the right to do so.

This is the time to break the silence and to take action. To say “enough is enough” for Israel. Israel’s impunity must end. Israeli war criminals, such as the ones who committed piracy and murder on the Mavi Marmara and their superiors, must be held accountable for their crimes in international courts.

Lubna Masarwa was a Free Gaza Movement representative aboard the Mavi Marmara and wrote this essay from her house arrest in Kfor Qara, Palestine. She can be reached at Lubnna A T gmail D O T com.

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | 3 Comments