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Poetry for Palestine | Poetic Injustice with Remi Kanazi

breakingtheset · May 31, 2013

Abby Martin looks back at the third anniversary of the Gaza flotilla siege, and presents Remi Kanazi, Palestinian-American poet and activist, who uses his educational art to perform the poems ‘Normalize This’ and ‘Refuse’. Abby speaks to Remi about the Palestinian plight, grassroots activism, and his artistic inspirations.

June 7, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | Comments Off on Poetry for Palestine | Poetic Injustice with Remi Kanazi

An Israeli Apology Means Little

By ANN WRIGHT | CounterPunch | April 5, 2013

Representatives of IHH, the international humanitarian organization that organized the passengers on the Mavi Marmara in the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, have told the author that families of the nine murdered by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) commandos on May 31, 2010, consider the “apology” of the Israeli government to the Turkish government as meaning very little until the Israeli government lifts the blockade on Gaza.

Their family members were killed on a non-violent mission to challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza and the families do not consider either an Israeli government apology or the offer of compensation for the death of their loved one as any form of fulfillment of their mission—only the lifting of the blockade on Gaza will assuage their deaths.

The IHH representatives also said that a prosecutor’s indictment filed in the Istanbul High Criminal Court on May 29, 2012 against four senior Israeli government military and intelligence officials will continue.  Witnesses have provided sworn testimony in court hearings in November, 2012 and February, 2013.  A third hearing for testimony from remaining witnesses is scheduled for May, 2013.

The four defendants, the former Israeli Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, the Israeli Naval Forces Commander, the Israeli Air Force Intelligence Director, the head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate, are charged with willful killing, attempted willful killing, intentional causing serious injury to body or health, plundering, hijacking or seizing maritime vessels, intentionally causing damage to property and instigating violent crime.

A political apology by the Israeli government to the Turkish government cannot stop a legal process underway in the Turkish courts, the IHH representatives said.  The President of Turkey cannot order the Turkish courts to drop the case and to do so would be a violation of Turkish law, they said.

The first criminal complaint concerning the Israeli attack was filed on October 14, 2010 at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Eight Turkish citizens and one American citizen were murdered by Israeli commandos.  While President Obama recently cajoled Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to apologize to the Turkish government for the deaths of their citizens, he apparently did not ask for a public apology for the death of the American citizen, 19 year old Furkan Dogan.

Nor did President Obama authorize a U.S. government investigation into the death of Furkan; instead, the Obama administration in 2010 said that it had confidence in the investigation conducted by the Israeli government, an investigation that almost three years later has now been revealed by the Israeli Prime Minister himself to have discovered “operational mistakes” in the conduct of the raid on the six ships of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

President Obama apparently knew full well that American citizen Furkan Dogan had been executed at close range by Israeli commandos when Turkish President Erdogan, shortly after the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla, showed him photos taken in the Istanbul morgue of Furkan’s body with fatal wounds to his head.  Israeli commandos shot Furkan five times at close range.  Obama reportedly quickly turned away from Furkan’s photo that showed the bullet wound to his face.

In the months following the attack in 2010, President Erdogan apparently showed the photos of some of the murdered passengers to several heads of state, including Italian President Berlusconi, to leave no doubt that Israeli commandos executed the passengers at close range.

Now, almost three years later, we know from U.S. government documents obtained by the Center for Constitutional Rights through a Freedom of Information Action (FOIA) request, that the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv were in frequent contact with the Israeli government concerning the flotilla before, during and after the Israeli attack on the ships of the flotilla.

“Upon learning that American citizens (“Amcits”) would participate in the May 2010 flotilla, several State Department officials expressed concerns that the Americans may be harmed or at least detained by Israeli forces. However, no records have been released reflecting any high level discussions that may have occurred on the need to protect the lives of participants or encouraging opening the flow of aid and commerce into Gaza . To the contrary, despite having been informed by organizers of the non-violent humanitarian purpose of their mission, released records point to a pattern of U.S. officials blaming flotilla participants for “putting themselves in danger” rather than working to reduce the risk of such danger from an Israeli attack.”

IHH representatives also mentioned that the Israeli offer of compensation is to the families of those killed, not to those who were wounded by Israeli commandos.  One passenger has been in a coma for almost three years and many passengers who were also seriously wounded are still suffering from their bullet wounds.  Some of those wounded are from countries other than Turkey and no Israeli apology has been made to them or their governments.

To some, an Israeli “apology” is remarkable as Israel has virtually never “apologized” for any of its actions. And they would say that an “apology” and an acknowledgement of “operational mistakes” are better than silence from the Israeli government.

However, passengers on the Gaza flotilla did not go on the voyage to Gaza for their own self-gratification.  They went to bring attention to the plight of Palestinians.  When Palestinians are routinely killed in the West Bank and Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), when Palestinians are subjected to inhumane checkpoints and apartheid walls, when the blockade of Gaza continues and when Israel attacks Gaza with impunity as it did in 2009 killing 1400 Palestinians and in 2012 killing over 300 Palestinians, then allowing Israel to escape criminal liability with an “apology” for the nine murders on the Mavi Marmara is essentially giving the Israeli government a “green light” to continue its policies of oppression, occupation, imprisonment, and blockade of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the murder of Palestinians.

If it were any other country in the world that had committed any of these acts, the United States would have withdrawn military and economic aid, but instead, almost three years later, the Israeli government walks away with a mere “apology.”

That’s not right, and virtually everyone in the world, except the United States government, knows it.

Hand in hand with Palestinians, international citizen activists will continue to challenge the inhuman Israeli actions toward Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The next challenge of the naval blockade of Gaza will be Gaza’s Ark which will attempt to break the Israeli quarantine by carrying export products from Gaza out by boat (www.gazaark.org).

Ann Wright spent 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel.  She was a US diplomat for 16 years and resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war.  She travelled to Gaza three times in 2009, helped organize the 2009 Gaza Freedom March and was a passenger on the 2010 and 2011 Gaza Freedom Flotillas.  She was an organizer for the US Boat to Gaza, the Audacity of Hope and is an organizer for the US campaign for Gaza’s Ark. She was a witness in the November, 2012, Istanbul Criminal Court hearing, in which passengers provided sworn testimony describing the 2010 IDF attack on the Mavi Marmara and the Challenger 1.

April 6, 2013 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , , | Comments Off on An Israeli Apology Means Little

Obama Doesn’t Seek Israeli Apology for American Youth’s Killing

By Dave Lindorff – This Can’t Be Happening! –  03/23/2013

The American media are full of glowing reports and praise for President Obama for “brokering” a detente between Israel and Turkey, two former allies who have been at loggerheads since May 31, 2010 when heavily armed Israeli forces boarded the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-flagged vessel seeking to break Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza with non-military supplies, and killed nine unarmed peace flotilla activists.

In the deal arranged by the American president, Israel’s hot-head prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who had ordered the raid, apologized “to the Turkish people” for “any mistakes that might have led to the loss of life or injury.”

It was a lame excuse for murder, but it appears that Turkey’s government was ready to bury the hatchet and, as a client state of the US, was also under some pressure from this country too.

It is interesting and indicative of the continuing power of the pro-Israel lobby in the US, that President Obama did not, as part of this brokered deal, bother to demand that Netanyahu include an apology, weak or otherwise, to the American people for the killing of an American national. For one of the nine people slaughtered by Israel in that raid, a 19-year-old young man named Furkan Dogan, was an American citizen — a son of Turkish parents, but born and raised to adulthood in the U.S.

Dogan’s death has never been protested or even investigated or questioned by the US government — an astonishing abrogation of this government’s oft-repeated promise to protect American lives. Indeed, in his first debate in the series of three presidential campaign debates with Republican Mitt Romney last fall, President Obama said, in his first answer to a question from the moderator, that his number on responsibility was to protect Americans.

Furkan Dogan in Turkey before he was killed on a peace voyage to Gaza by Israeli Defense Force boarders

Furkan Dogan in Turkey before he was killed on a peace voyage to Gaza by Israeli Forces

Not young Furkan Dogan, though.

As we reported in ThisCantBeHappening!, the unarmed Dogan, who was filming the IDF boarding of the Mavi Marmara, was beaten and kicked viciously on the deck by two IDF thugs, who then fired at him with their shotguns at point blank range.

As we also reported, the Turkish Council of Forensic Medicine conducted an official autopsy which concluded that Dogan had been killed by two shots to the face fired at close range — this as he lay already gravely wounded on the deck of the ship, having been already shot in the back, leg and foot.

This report, which was conveyed directly to the US Embassy in Ankara in July, 2010, was sat on, covered up and ignored, and went unreported. Turkey later relayed the autopsy report directly to the White House, and finally, when that elicited no response, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan mentioned it specifically himself during a state visit to Obama. The Turkish leader later expressed his surprise to reporters following his meeting with the president that the US had not protested the killing of one of its citizens. As he told reporters, ‘I asked President Obama whether the reason he showed no interest in one of his nationals being killed was because [the victim] was [ethnically] Turkish. He didn’t reply.’”

What a freaking outrage!

The idea that this president cannot demand even a mild apology from an Israeli prime minister for the brutal slaughter of an unarmed US citizen, even as he is brokering such an apology for the killing of nine Turkish citizens, is beyond appalling.

Equally, or perhaps even more appalling, is the complete failure of the US corporate media to mention this failure, even as they note that one of the nine killed was a “Turkish-American.”

Actually, he was more than that. He was an American, pure and simple. An American born in America, and you don’t get more American than that.

I guess if you think you have the right to kill US citizens without a trial, as Obama does, you probably figure you don’t have to demand apologies from foreign leaders who order their deaths, too.

The victims are just US citizens after all. No big deal.

March 24, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Comments Off on Obama Doesn’t Seek Israeli Apology for American Youth’s Killing

UN Fact-Finding Mission Says Israelis “Executed” US Citizen Furkan Dogan

By Gareth Porter | t r u t h o u t | 27 September 2010

The report of the fact-finding mission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla released last week shows conclusively, for the first time, that US citizen Furkan Dogan and five Turkish citizens were murdered execution-style by Israeli commandos.

The report reveals that Dogan, the 19-year-old US citizen of Turkish descent, was filming with a small video camera on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara when he was shot twice in the head, once in the back and in the left leg and foot and that he was shot in the face at point blank range while lying on the ground.

The report says Dogan had apparently been “lying on the deck in a conscious or semi-conscious, state for some time” before being shot in his face.

The forensic evidence that establishes that fact is “tattooing around the wound in his face,” indicating that the shot was “delivered at point blank range.”  The report describes the forensic evidence as showing that “the trajectory of the wound, from bottom to top, together with a vital abrasion to the left shoulder that could be consistent with the bullet exit point, is compatible with the shot being received while he was lying on the ground on his back.”

Based on both “forensic and firearm evidence,” the fact-finding panel concluded that Dogan’s killing and that of five Turkish citizens by the Israeli troops on the Mavi Marmari May 31 “can be characterized as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions.” (See Report [.pdf] Page 38, Section 170)

The report confirmed what the Obama administration already knew from the autopsy report on Dogan, but the administration has remained silent about the killing of Dogan, which could be an extremely difficult political problem for the administration in its relations with Israel.

The Turkish government gave the autopsy report on Dogan to the US Embassy in July and it was then passed on to the Department of Justice, according to a US government source who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the administration’s policy of silence on the matter. The source said the purpose of obtaining the report was to determine whether an investigation of the killing by the Justice Department (DOJ) was appropriate.

Asked by this writer whether the DOJ had received the autopsy report on Dogan, DOJ spokesperson Laura Sweeney refused to comment.

The administration has not volunteered any comment on the fact-finding mission report and was not asked to do so by any news organization.  In response to a query from Truthout, a State Department official, who could not speak on the record, read a statement that did not explicitly acknowledge  the report’s conclusion about the Israeli executions.

The statement said the fact-finding mission’s report’s “tone and conclusions are unbalanced.” It went on to state, “We urge that this report not be used for actions that could disrupt direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine that are now underway or actions that would make it not possible for Israel and Turkey to move beyond the recent strains in their traditional strong relationship.”

Although the report’s revelations and conclusions about the killing of Dogan and the five other victims were widely reported in the Turkish media last week, not a single story on the report has appeared in US news media.

The administration has made it clear through its inaction and its explicit public posture that it has no intention of pressing the issue of the murder of a US citizen in cold blood by Israeli commandos.

On June 13, two weeks after the Mavi Marmara attack, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement saying that Israel “should be allowed to undertake an investigation into events that involve its national security” and that Israel’s military justice system “meets international standards and is capable of conducting a serious and credible investigation.”

Another passenger whom forensic evidence shows was killed execution-style, according to the OHCHR report, is Ibrahim Bilgen, a 60-year-old Turkish citizen. Bilgen is believed by forensics experts to have been shot initially from the helicopter above the Mavi Marmara and then shot in the side of the head while lying seriously wounded.

The fact-finding mission was given forensic evidence that, after the initial shot in chest from above, Bilgen was shot in the head with a “soft baton round at such close proximity that an entire bean bag and its wadding penetrated the skull and lodged in the chest from above,” the mission concluded.

“Soft baton rounds” are supposed to be fired for nonlethal purposes at a distance and aimed only at the stomach, but are lethal when fired at the head, especially from close range.

The forensic evidence cited by the fact-finding mission on the killing of Dogan and five other passengers came from both the autopsy reports and pathology reports done by forensic personnel in Turkey and from interviews with those who wrote the reports. Experts in forensic pathology and firearms assisted the mission in interpreting that forensic evidence.

The account, provided by the OHCHR of the events on board the Mavi Marmara on its way to help break the economic siege of Gaza May 31 of this year, refutes the version of events aggressively pushed by the Israeli military and supports the testimony of passengers on board.

The report suggests that, from the beginning, Israeli policy viewed the Gaza flotilla as an opportunity to use lethal force against pro-Hamas activists. It quotes testimony by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak before the Israeli government’s Turkel Committee that specific orders were given by the Israeli government “to continue intelligence tracking of the flotilla organizers with an emphasis on the possibility that amongst the passengers in the flotilla there were terror elements who would attempt to harm Israeli forces.”

The idea that the passenger list would be seeded with terrorists determined to attack Israeli defense forces appears to have been a ploy to justify treating the operation as likely to require the use of military force against the passengers.

When details of the Israeli plan to forcibly take over the ships in the flotilla were published in the Israeli press on May 30, the passengers on board the Mavi Marmara realized that the Israelis might use deadly force against them. Some leaders of the IHH (the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid), which had purchased the ships for the mission, were advocating defending the boat against the Israeli boarding attempt, whereas other passengers advocated nonviolence only.

That led to efforts to create improvised weapons from railings and other equipment on the Mavi Marmara. However, the commission concluded that there was no evidence of any firearms having being taken aboard the ship, as charged by Israel.

The report notes that the Israeli military never communicated a request by radio to inspect the cargo on board any of the ships, apparently contradicting the official justification given by the Israeli government for the military attack on the Mavi Marmara and other ships of preventing any military contraband from reaching Gaza.

According to the OHCHR report, Israeli Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi testified to the Turkel Committee August 11 that the initial rules of engagement for the operation prohibited live fire except in life-threatening situations, but that that they were later modified to target protesters “deemed to be violent” in response to the resistance by passengers.

That decision apparently followed the passengers’ successful repulsion of an Israeli effort to board the ship from Zodiac boats.

The report confirms that, from the beginning of the operation, passengers were fired on by helicopters flying above the Mavi Marmara to drop commandos on the deck.

Contrary to Israeli claims that one or more Israeli troops were wounded by firearms, the report says no medical evidence of a gunshot wound to an Israeli soldier was found.

The OHCHR report confirms accounts from passengers on the Mavi Marmara that defenders subdued roughly ten Israeli commandos, took their weapons from them and threw them in the sea, except for one weapon hidden as evidence. The Israeli soldiers were briefly sequestered below and some were treated for wounds before being released by the defenders.

The OHCHR fact-finding mission will certainly be the most objective, thorough and in-depth inquiry into the events on board the Mavi Marmara and other ships in the flotilla of the four that have been announced.

The fact-finding mission was chaired by Judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, Q.C., retired judge of the International Criminal Court and former attorney general of Trinidad and Tobago, and included Sir Desmond de Silva, Q.C. of the United Kingdom, former chief prosecutor of the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone and Ms. Mary Shanthi Dairiam of Malaysia, founding member of the board of directors of the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific.

The mission interviewed 112 eyewitnesses to the Israeli attack in London, Geneva, Istanbul and Amman, Jordan. The Israeli government refused to cooperate with the fact-finding mission by making personnel involved in both planning and carrying out the attack available to be interviewed.

The Turkish government announced its own investigation of the Israeli attack on August 10. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the formation of a “Panel of Inquiry” on August 2, but its mandate was much more narrowly defined. It was given the mission to “receive and review the reports of the national investigations with the view to recommending ways of avoiding similar incidents in the future.”

September 27, 2010 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 2 Comments