Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Israel, not Iranian nukes, is the big issue

American attitudes to Israel and the Middle East are changing radically. USA Today had the audacity to publish the following letter today. Where on earth will it all lead?
In the opposing view "Containment won't work," Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute casually dismisses "mutually assured destruction" as a method of control against use of atomic weapons by Iran. This is patently absurd (Foreign policy debate, Friday).
Containment won't work
Israel possesses hundreds of nuclear warheads. It could — and would — easily decimate Iran. Israel would be backed up by the atomic arsenal of the U.S. Iran understands this reality. Then what is Rubin's motivation? The Israel lobby continues to exert a disproportionately strong influence on U.S.-Mideast relations, and from all indications it wants America to be its proxy in attacking Iran. If we do not block this folly, we will be dragged into the abyss. The real danger in the region is not a few Iranian nukes; rather it is Israel's endgame to annex the occupied Palestinian territories.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Warsaw Ghetto and Gaza Blockade: Israeli and Polish Solidarity

Yesterday, Israeli and Polish activists met in the ruins of Warsaw’s old Jewish Ghetto.

The activists sprayed ‘Liberate All Ghettos’ in Hebrew, followed by ‘Free Gaza and Palestine’ in English on a wall of an original block in the ghetto. The block is across the street from the last fragment of the remaining perimeter wall of the Ghetto. They also hung Palestinian flags from the wall.

This was first time such an action took place in the ghetto.

Yonatan Shapira
former Israeli Air Force captain and now refusnik and BDS activist said:
‘Most of my family came from Poland and many of my relatives were killed in the death camps during the Holocaust. When I walk in what was left from the Warsaw Ghetto I can’t stop thinking about the people of Gaza who are not only locked in an open air prison but are also being bombarded by fighter jets, attack helicopters and drones, flown by people whom I used to serve with before my refusal in 2003.

I am also thinking about the delegations of young Israelis that are coming to see the history of our people but also are subjected to militaristic and nationalistic brainwashing on a daily basis. Maybe if they see what we wrote here today they will remember that oppression is oppression, occupation is occupation, and crimes against humanity are crimes against humanity, whether they have been committed here in Warsaw or in Gaza’.

Ewa Jasiewicz, activist with Kampania Palestyna and one of the co-ordinators of the Free Gaza Movement who just returned from participating in the Freedom Flotilla said:

`Yonatan could have been the pilot in the Blackhawk that dropped commandos onto the Mavi Marmara that killed nine activists from our flotilla. I could have been one of them. Poland is full of the ruins of ghettos and death camps and shrines to those who sacrificed their lives in the defence of not just their communities but in resistance to fascism.

People here need to wake up and realise that occupations and ghettos did not end with the end of the second world war. These tactics and strategies of domination and control of other people and lands are present in Palestine today and are being perpetrated by the state of Israel. We have a responsibility to free all ghettos and end all occupations’.

Read more here 

For photos and video see: and

Monday, 28 June 2010

BBC Hard Talk interviews Kenneth O'Keefe about breaking the Gaza Blockade

Kenneth O'Keefe talks about the attack on the MV Mavi Marmara that was trying to run the blockade on Gaza.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Leiberman wants Palestinians stripped of citizenship and relocated

Jonathan Cook reports on Avigdor Lieberman's latest attempt to deny Israeli born Arab Palestinians their citizenship and relocate them 'existentially' in a virtual Palestinian State.
Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s far-right foreign minister, set out this week what he called a “blueprint for a resolution to the conflict” with the Palestinians that demands most of the country’s large Palestinian minority be stripped of citizenship and relocated outside Israel’s future borders.

Mr Lieberman said that Israel faced growing diplomatic pressure for a full withdrawal to the Green Line, the pre-1967 border, and if such a partition were implemented, “the conflict will inevitably pass beyond those borders and into Israel”.

He accused many of Israel’s 1.3 million Palestinian citizens of acting against Israel while their leaders “actively assist those who want to destroy the Jewish state”.
Writing in the Jerusalem Post, Lieberman insisted,
“history is moving away from attempts to accommodate competing national aspirations in a single state,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday issued a highly specific demand for “an exchange of populated territories” that would place many Israeli Arabs inside a new Palestinian state.
In an op-ed that appears in Thursday’s Jerusalem Post, he stressed that this would not require “physical population transfer or the demolition of houses,” but rather “creating a border where none existed, according to demographics...”
Preempting anticipated criticism that it would be illegal to remove citizenship from Israeli Arabs who found the border had been moved, placing them in Palestine, Lieberman cited United Nations General Assembly Resolution 55/153, written in 2001, to the effect that: “When part of the territory of a State is transferred by that State to another State, the successor State shall attribute its nationality to the persons concerned who have their habitual residence in the transferred territory and the predecessor State shall withdraw its nationality from such persons.”

Read more of Lieberman's 'Blueprint' in the Jerusalem Post and The National

Zionism: The greatest existential threat to the survival of Israel

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reportedly said this week, "World leaders "believe absolutely" that Israel may decide to take military action against Iran to prevent the latter from acquiring nuclear weapons"

Yossi Melman, writing in Haaretz, reports that Berlusconi told reporters following talks with other Group of Eight leaders north of Toronto, that the G-8 'fully believes' Israel will attack Iran"

World leaders "believe absolutely" that Israel may decide to take military action against Iran to prevent the latter from acquiring nuclear weapons, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Saturday.

“Iran is not guaranteeing a peaceful production of nuclear power [so] the members of the G-8 are worried and believe absolutely that Israel will probably react preemptively,”

The leaders issued a statement on Saturday calling on Iran to "respect the rule of law" and to "hold a "transparent dialogue" over its nuclear ambitions.

Why did the G8 leaders not insist on the same from Israel?

The greatest existential threat to the survival of Israel does not come from Iran but Zionism. It is not external but internal.

Jonathan Cook reports that Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister and deputy Prime Minister, set out this week what he called a “blueprint for a resolution to the conflict” with the Palestinians that demands most of the country’s large Palestinian minority be stripped of citizenship and relocated outside Israel’s future borders. This is the naked agenda of Zionism, a racially pure state.

Read more in the National and Haaretz

Friday, 25 June 2010

Little Town of Bethlehem

Little Town of Bethlehem tells the story of the Arab-Israeli conflict and why non-violence is the only solution to the conflict. If you care about the security of Israel and/or justice for the Palestinians, you must see this film. If you want to be part of the solution instead of the problem, make this film a priority and spread the word.
The film follows the story of three separate men, each from a different religion, who grew up in the Holy Land amidst perpetual war and constant conflict and finding the courage to end violence through nonviolence. “Little Town of Bethlehem” shares the gripping story of three men, born into violence, willing to risk everything to bring an end to violence in their lifetime. All shaped by events of their Palestinian and Israeli upbringing—find inspiration in the words and actions of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

Immersed in an environment of turbulent political and religious forces – and a perpetuating cycle of violence – each of the three men struggle independently to use non-violent conflict to change the paradigm. As their separate stories converge, they begin to find the commonality that bands everyone, regardless of beliefs, in their quest for peace. They believe that violence can indeed be stopped but recognize their own struggles will remain. Yet they will struggle together to discover a common humanity through non-violent action.

In the city of Bethlehem where it is said God became man, these men stand alongside others whose central desire is to be accepted and treated as fully human.
Watch the trailer here. Join the fans on facebook here. See photos the film making on Flickr

I interviewed Ian Matthews of EthnoGraphic Media about the film.

Little Town of Bethlehem: Ian Matthews from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

Targeting Israel's Palestinians

Ben White has written a disturbing article about the growing tension between the Israeli authorities and its Palestinian citizens.
Israel's Palestinian minority has always been subject to discriminatory policies, but some now say that a more open conflict between the Israeli establishment and its Palestinian citizens appears to be brewing.
In May, Ameer Makhoul, the director of Ittijah, a network for Palestinian NGOs, was taken from his home in the middle of the night by the Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service.

Once the media gag was lifted, it emerged that Makhoul and another Palestinian citizen, Omar Said, a natural medicine expert and Balad party activist, were facing serious security-related charges.

Both men were denied access to lawyers for approximately a fortnight. Makhoul's wife, Janan Abdu, says she feels that her husband is being made an example of.

"He's in a key position in within the community here, has a high profile internationally and he has been speaking clearly about discrimination and encouraging [a] boycott [of Israel]."

"They have done what they threatened to do," she says, referring to a warning Shin Bet agents gave Ameer in January 2009 that the "next time" he would have to say goodbye to his family for a long time.
Read more here

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Ethnic Cleansing in Action: Demolish Palestinian Homes to Build an Israeli Park

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said the plan to demolish Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem to make way for a tourist park is "illegal and unhelpful."  Unhelpful is not the word I would have used. More 'racist' than 'unhelpful'.

On Monday Jerusalem City Council approved the plan to demolish 22 Palestinian homes in Silwan - to make way for a park for Israeli settlers.

According to the BBC the move has drawn criticism both at home and from the Obama administration. Mr Ban said the plan was "contrary to international law", but that impediment has never stopped Israel has it?

"The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the decision by the Jerusalem municipality to advance planning for house demolitions and further settlement activity in the area of Silwan," Mr Ban's office said in a statement. Sadly, knowing the UN Secretary General is 'deeply concerned' means absolutely zilch in the Middle East as long as the US Administration is paying the bills. 

Read more of the BBC report here

Norman Finkelstein sees this as evidence that, "the corpse of a deceased UN Secretary-General was resurrected" I remain sceptical... 

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Archbishop Edmund Akanya

Archbishop Edmund Akanya from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

Archbishop Edmund visited Virginia Water on Sunday. He serves in the Anglican Diocese of Kebbi in Nigeria. In this interview he speaks about some of the challenges the church faces in northern Nigeria today.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Hasbara Work is Lucrative

Philip Weiss has published an excellent piece by Kieron Monks of the Palestine Monitor in Ramallah who asks the question:
Who does Tony Blair work for?

In the conversations I've had with the Israeli Prime Minister there is now, in principle, agreement for Israel to allow goods in" Tony Blair told reporters on Monday. And like magic, an official Israeli statement today announced the 'easing' of the Gaza blockade. After three years of lucrative ambassadorial work, the man best known for invading Iraq on doctored evidence is back in the big time. As pressure mounts on Netanyahu's government to end the illegal blockade on Gaza following the flotilla massacre, the former PM has been asked to step up his Hasbara duties.

Today's announcement confirmed that Israel will "liberalise the system by which civilian goods enter Gaza and expand the inflow of materials for civilian projects that are under international supervision". Specific goods were not specified, but it is believed a severely limited quantity of foodstuffs and education materials will be taken off the banned list. The UK-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign derided the "so called easing of the blockade as a sham designed to divert the world's attention from the inhumane blockade"

Francis Beckett, author of the biography "The Survivor: Tony Blair in Peace and War" sees Blair's role as "translator for the Israeli government, serving for Israel's benefit. Netanyahu is in a hole. Politically he cant afford to give in to foreign pressure, but he has to take some action. Blair is his escape route."

Read more here

See also:

Israel's Gaza blockade is effectively a blockade of the United Nations
Do they think its all over? Freedom Flotillas sailing from Europe, Iran and Lebanon

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Israel's Gaza blockade is effectively a blockade of the United Nations

"Israel's Gaza blockade is effectively a blockade of the United Nations," says German Greens.

'Sometimes the Israeli government does not make it easy for its friends to explain why it behaves the way it does,' says aid minister Dirk Niebel.

Niebel said that Israel's latest announcement on easing the Gaza blockade was "not sufficient" and that Israel must "now deliver" on its pledge.

Beyond that, the government in Jerusalem should be "clear about how Israel, within an international context, wants to cooperate with
its friends in the future as well," the German minister said.

Earlier Saturday, the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that the German parliament is to issue a cross-party demand that Israel allow humanitarian aid to reach the Gaza Strip by sea.

According to the newspaper, a motion opposing Israel's blockade of Gaza had the support of Chancellor Angela Merkel's government coalition parties, as well as the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) and the Green Party.

"The living conditions for the civil population in Gaza must urgently be improved," the motion reportedly stated.

"Israel's Gaza blockade is effectively a blockade of the United Nations," the Greens' foreign spokeswoman Kerstin Mueller told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, adding: "This is unacceptable."

Something of an understatement.

Source: Haaretz

Aida Refugee Camp, Occupied Bethlehem

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Hebron, Occupied Palestine

I took these photos recently in Hebron. The camera is mightier than the occupation. For other photos of Occupied Palestine see here and on Flickr here

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Do they think its all over? Freedom Flotillas sailing from Europe, the US, Iran and Lebanon

Tony 'Neville' Blair's euphoria at having achieved 'peace in our time' with PM Netanyahu and lifted the siege of Gaza is touching.The carrot was agreement by the Quartet not to press for an international inquiry into the Turkish Flotilla executions. Despite appearances to the contrary however, the siege of Gaza and the Israeli military occupation of all the other Palestinian Bantustans (Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Jericho and East Jerusalem) is set to solidify as Israel seeks to create a land with no people by collective punishment, house demolitions, land confiscations and deportations.

The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG) is "an umbrella body" of 34 European human rights and humanitarian organizations supporting the right of Palestinians "to live in peace and dignity," to be free from occupation, and to have "their own independent and sovereign state, (and) encourages all peoples of conscience and human rights advocates to intensify their efforts to highlight this life-threatening issue and end the catastrophe." Under their auspices, plans for an even larger Freedom Flotilla Two are apparently well advanced, and will be launched in the coming weeks, saying their mission is humanitarian, and others will keep coming until the siege is lifted and aid can enter freely. The coalition includes the Free Gaza Movement (FG), Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), Ship to Gaza Greece, and Ship to Gaza Sweden. ECESG says that if governments won't help, activist groups like them and others will keep working until justice for Palestinians is achieved. 

Other Aid Missions Planned

The Iranian Red Crescent Society is part of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the world's largest humanitarian organization, comprised of 186 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. On June 7, it announced it will send three aid ships to Gaza "by the end of the week," two with humanitarian supplies, the other with volunteer Iranian relief workers, and a plane with 30 tons of medical equipment. Iranian Red Crescent director Abdolraoof Adibzadeh said it will deliver aid through Egypt's Rafah border crossing. President Ahmadinejad raised the spectre of a sea battle as he warned the ships would be carrying an escort of “volunteer marines” ready to “teach Israelis a lesson”.

Turkey has also promised to send aid, this time with a naval escort and perhaps more after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he's considering coming to break the siege and show solidarity with besieged Gazans.

A Lebanese ship with dozens of women activists is set to leave Beirut for Gaza on the 25th June if the Israeli military do not sabotage it. The Arab Boat Brigade has the support of the Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and the US Council for the National Interest.
"We are all independent women who believe in breaking the siege on Gaza and are committed to the enmity of the Zionist entity," said Samar Hajj, who is coordinating the trip.

She stressed the women were not affiliated with Hizbullah, or any other political organization.

"This has nothing to do with Hizbullah even though it is an honor for us to be supporters of the resistance," said Hajj, whose husband Ali Hajj was one of four generals detained for nearly four years in connection with the 2005 car bombing that killed then Premier Rafik Hariri and 22 others.

Ali Hajj, who was domestic security chief, was released from prison in April last year after the Special Tribunal for Lebanon said there was insufficient evidence against the generals.

Hajj's wife said so far 50 women -- Muslim, Christian and secular -- had signed up for the trip on board the cargo ship "Mariam." Among them are 30 Lebanese and 20 foreigners, including several European nationals.

She said all the logistics for the trip had been handled by the Free Palestine Movement, a non-governmental organization.

"We are going there because it is our duty," she said.

"The ship will be leaving very soon," she added, without giving an exact date.

Preparations are also underway by other pro-Palestinian activists to send an aid ship carrying educational supplies and journalists from Lebanon to Gaza.
See also Transatlantic Jewish coalition set to break the siege of Gaza

and Ambassador Edward Peck on the Gaza Flotilla mission.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Gaza Blockade Illegal says International Red Cross

The International Committee of the Red Cross has condemned Israel for creating a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, insisting the blockade of Gaza is a clear violation of international humanitarian law. 
The serious incidents that took place on 31 May between Israeli forces and activists on a flotilla heading for Gaza once again put the spotlight on the acute hardship faced by the population in the Gaza Strip.

As the ICRC has stressed repeatedly, the dire situation in Gaza cannot be resolved by providing humanitarian aid. The closure imposed on the Gaza Strip is about to enter its fourth year, choking off any real possibility of economic development. Gazans continue to suffer from unemployment, poverty and warfare, while the quality of Gaza's health care system has reached an all-time low.

The whole of Gaza's civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility. The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel's obligations under international humanitarian law.

"The closure is having a devastating impact on the 1.5 million people living in Gaza", said Béatrice Mégevand-Roggo, the ICRC's head of operations for the Middle East. "That is why we are urging Israel to put an end to this closure and call upon all those who have an influence on the situation, including Hamas, to do their utmost to help Gaza's civilian population. Israel's right to deal with its legitimate security concerns must be balanced against the Palestinians' right to live normal, dignified lives."

The international community has to do its part to ensure that repeated appeals by States and international organizations to lift the closure are finally heeded.

Under international humanitarian law, Israel must ensure that the basic needs of Gazans, including adequate health care, are met. The Palestinian authorities, for their part, must do everything within their power to provide proper health care, supply electricity and maintain infrastructure for Gaza's people.

Furthermore, all States have an obligation to allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of all relief consignments, equipment and personnel.
 If the ICRC has declared the Israeli government to be in violation of international law for using collective punishment against the civilian population of Gaza, when will war crimes charges be brought against them?


See also International Court of Justice declares the Separation Wall illegal, and Palestinians caught on wrong side of Separation Wall

Monday, 14 June 2010

A Threat to Homeland Security? Son of Hamas may be Deported

The Wall Street Journal carries a moving report about Mosab Hassan Yousef, the best-selling author who wrote "Son of Hamas". The book tells his story as the son of one of the founders of Hamas who became an informant for Israeli intelligence, then a follower of Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace. Yet, incredible as it may seem, US Homeland Security wants to deport him as a terror threat.

This is what the Wall Street Journal writes,
In 2007, Mr. Yousef came to the United States, where he converted to Christianity from Islam and applied for political asylum. The request was denied in February 2009, Mr. Yousef says, on grounds that he was potentially "a danger to the security of the United States" and had "engaged in terrorist activity." His case has automatically proceeded to the deportation stage, and on June 30 at 8 a.m. he will appear before Judge Rico Bartolomei in Homeland Security Immigration Court in San Diego.

Homeland Security is well aware of the author's history, and in fact is using it against him. According to Mr. Yousef, a letter from Homeland Security attorney Kerri Calcador cites passages in "Son of Hamas" as evidence of his connection to terrorist leaders and suggests that the work he did for Hamas while spying for Israel provided aid to terrorists. "At a bare minimum, evidence of the respondent's transport of Hamas members to safe houses . . . indicates that the respondent provided material support to a [Tier I] terrorist organization," the U.S. lawyer wrote.

But unless Ms. Calcador knows more than she's saying, this is bizarre. As a spy for Israel, Mr. Yousef had to make his colleagues believe he was a loyal member of Hamas. He used that trust to gain information that he provided to Israeli intelligence, which used it to prevent terror attacks and save lives. One of Mr. Yousef's handlers at Shin Bet confirmed his book's account to the Israeli daily Haaretz, and his father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, has disowned him from the Israeli prison he has occupied since 2005. (See our Weekend Interview with the younger Yousef, "They Need to Be Liberated From Their God," March 6, 2010.)
Read more of the WSJ article here

Check out my review of Son of Hamas here

Visit his own website here.

Iran to send Humanitarian Aid to Gaza

The International Union of NGOs Defending the People of Palestine, based in Tehran, is sending a ship containing humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The Secretariat of the Union has decided to dispatch a ship containing food and medicine for the people of Gaza as well as all other humanitarian aid. This ship will set sail in two weeks time.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

You know it makes sense: Strangle Gaza

Zaid Jilani writing for Think Progress has published a provocative report about Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who delivered a wide-ranging speech at an Orthodox Union event in Washington, D.C. The senator’s lecture touched on areas such as Iran’s nuclear program, the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and several domestic policy issues. Jilani records that at one point the good senator
 ...turned his attention to the situation in Gaza. He told the audience that the “Palestinian people still don’t believe in the Jewish state, in a two-state solution,” and also that “they don’t believe in the Torah, in David.” He went on to say “you have to force them to say Israel is here to stay.”
What did the good senator mean by 'force'?
And to me, since the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas, while certainly there should be humanitarian aid and people not starving to death, to strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go, makes sense.
Jilani observes,
Schumer is simply factually incorrect that the “majority” of Palestinians refuse to accept a two-state solution. Recent polling has found that 74 percent of the Palestinian population wants to see a two-state solution with an Israeli and Palestinian state side by side. It is also the position of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and there is evidence that Gaza’s Hamas rulers may be compelled to support such a solution as well.

As for the senator’s comments on economic strangulation making “sense” to produce better leadership in Gaza, they are as offensive as they are wrong. Schumer believes it is logical to economically harm the civilian population of Gaza — where 44 percent of the people under the age of 14 — for freely voting in an election the U.S. supported, then undermined, in order to change the territory’s government. The reality is that its leadership has only become further radicalized and entrenched as a result of the embargo. (HT: Mondoweiss)
Read the whole article here.

Israel's Greatest Loss

Henry Siegman is director of the U.S./Middle East Project, and a visiting research professor at the Sir Joseph Hotung Middle East Program, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is a former Senior Fellow on the Middle East at the Council on Foreign Relations and, before that, was national director of the American Jewish Congress from 1978 to 1994. It will be difficult therefore for Zionists to brand him a 'Jew hater' but don't count on it.

In a Haaretz article published this weekend he compares Israeli treatment of Palestinians with Hitler's treatment of Jews. The article title itself gives nothing away Israel’s Greatest Loss: Its Moral Imagination

Siegman begins with a rhetorical question: "If a people who so recently experienced such unspeakable inhumanities cannot understand the injustice and suffering its territorial ambitions are inflicting, what hope is there for the rest of us?"

Here's the substance of his answer:
When I managed to get over the shock of that exchange, it struck me that the invocation of the Hitler era was actually a frighteningly apt and searing analogy, although not the one my friend intended. A million and a half civilians have been forced to live in an open-air prison in inhuman conditions for over three years now, but unlike the Hitler years, they are not Jews but Palestinians. Their jailers, incredibly, are survivors of the Holocaust, or their descendants. Of course, the inmates of Gaza are not destined for gas chambers, as the Jews were, but they have been reduced to a debased and hopeless existence...

Particularly appalling is that this policy has been the source of amusement for some Israeli leaders, who according to Israeli press reports have jokingly described it as “putting Palestinians on a diet.” That, too, is reminiscent of the Hitler years, when Jewish suffering amused the Nazis...

Of course, even the most objectionable Israeli policies do not begin to compare with Hitler’s Germany. But the essential moral issues are the same...

Who would have believed that an Israeli government and its Jewish citizens would seek to demonize and shut down Israeli human rights organizations for their lack of “patriotism,” and dismiss fellow Jews who criticized the assault on the Gaza Flotilla as “Arabs,” pregnant with all the hateful connotations that word has acquired in Israel, not unlike Germans who branded fellow citizens who spoke up for Jews as “Juden”? The German White Rose activists, mostly students from the University of Munich, who dared to condemn the German persecution of the Jews (well before the concentration camp exterminations began) were also considered “traitors” by their fellow Germans, who did not mourn the beheading of these activists by the Gestapo.
He concludes by asking the question again,
If a people who so recently experienced on its own flesh such unspeakable inhumanities cannot muster the moral imagination to understand the injustice and suffering its territorial ambitions—and even its legitimate security concerns—are inflicting on another people, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Read the entire article here

Is Israel's Gaza blockade legal?

The long answer is exactly the same as the short answer 'no'. Writing from Paris for the Christian Science Monitor, Robert Marquand,argues,
Both sides immediately claimed the protection of international law, with Israel citing legal justification for effectively extending its naval blockade into international waters where the flotilla was heading for Gaza. Yet for most Western governments, with the exception of the United States, the question is not so much the legality or illegality of Israel’s action. Rather, European countries from Germany to Britain are focusing on the broader legal context of Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and the suffering of civilians there.
His conclusions?
... few legal experts agree that Israel can suspend the paramount UN Charter on the Law of the Sea to expand a blockade overnight or preemptively intercept ships. Under the UN charter, vessels on the high seas are subject to the jurisdiction of the flag state of that vessel. No one can board. Exceptions include: a vessel that doesn’t fly a flag, a vessel suspected of being pirated, or vessels suspected of violating international sanctions, such as North Korean ships thought to carry nuclear materials. Even carrying weapons at sea doesn’t violate international law.
That’s why most international jurists say Israel cannot legally justify the boarding of a sovereign ship protected under the charter. “In legal terms, the Turkish ship [the biggest in the aid flotilla] was Turkish territory,” argues former British Ambassador Craig Murray, a fellow at the University of Lancaster School of Law.
Marcelo Kohen, a law professor at Geneva’s Graduate Institute of International Studies, agrees that the requirements needed to claim a San Remo justification were not complete. “Hamas is not a state," he says. "There is also at present a cease-fire on Gaza," whereas San Remo is assumed to be relevant in a state of war, says Kohen.
"Under [Israel's] logic one could maintain a maritime blockade unendingly," he adds. "It only requires one party to consider itself as being in a ‘state of war.’ ”
Gaza specialist Sara Roy at Harvard University, an author and frequent critic of Israeli policy, argues that legal questions can distort more basic issues: “After its 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, Israel claims no longer to be an occupier. It claims no responsibility, but acts with total control. Meanwhile, the international community pays the bills and feeds the people.”
Read the whole article here

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Israel v Iran

If only we were talking about the World Cup. Based on Saudi military sources, Hugh Tomlinson, in the Times claims Saudi Arabia has given Israel 'clear skies to attack Iranian nuclear sites'
Saudi Arabia has conducted tests to stand down its air defences to enable Israeli jets to make a bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Times can reveal.

“The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way,” said a US defence source in the area. “They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren’t scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the [US] State Department.”
Sources in Saudi Arabia say it is common knowledge within defence circles in the kingdom that an arrangement is in place if Israel decides to launch the raid. Despite the tension between the two governments, they share a mutual loathing of the regime in Tehran and a common fear of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “We all know this. We will let them [the Israelis] through and see nothing,” said one.
Read more here

Haaretz carries the same report today Saudi Arabia gives Israel air corridor to bomb Iran
Passing over Iraq would require at least tacit consent to the raid from the United States, whose troops are occupying the country. So far, the Obama Administration has refused this.
On Wednesday the United Nations passed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran in an attempt to force it to stop enriching uranium. But immediately after the UN vote, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed the nuclear program would continue.
Israel hailed the vote – but said sanctions were not enough and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to rule out a raid.
Netanyahu's predecessor, Ehud Olmert, is believed to have held secret meetings with high-ranking Saudi officials over Iran.
A day later, in Haaretz, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf refuted the Times of London report.
Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, the Saudi envoy to the U.K. speaking to the London-based Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, denied that report, saying such a move "would be against the policy adopted and followed by the Kingdom."

According to Asharq al-Awsat report, bin Nawaf reiterated the Saudi Arabia's rejection of any violation of its territories or airspace, adding that it would be "illogical to allow the Israeli occupying force, with whom Saudi Arabia has no relations whatsoever, to use its land and airspace." 

Israel as a Strategic Liability?

When the Center for Strategic and International Studies publishes an article questioning the strategic value of Israel to the USA, it is time to wake up. When it adds the adjective 'liability' and then a question mark, it is time to sober up as well real fast.

Now is that 'strategic moment' to ask the question first raised in the Israel Lobby by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer.

Anthony H. Cordesman's article spells out in blunt terms, characteristic of the Dummies Guide series, the way forward for the Israeli government. If it wants to keep the 'special relationship', it is going to have to earn it in future, instead of taking the US veto and loan guarantees for granted. US-Israeli relations are changing.
It is time Israel realized that it has obligations to the United States, as well as the United States to Israel, and that it become far more careful about the extent to which it test the limits of U.S. patience and exploits the support of American Jews. This does not mean taking a single action that undercuts Israeli security, but it does mean realizing that Israel should show enough discretion to reflect the fact that it is a tertiary U.S. strategic interest in a complex and demanding world.

He concludes:
Israel’s prime minister and defense minister had full warning about the situation, and they knew the flotilla was deliberately designed as a political provocation to capture the attention of the world’s media in the most negative way possible. They personally are responsible for what happened, and they need to show far more care and pragmatism in the future.

They do indeed.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Israeli V Somali Pirates: The Real Threat Aboard the Freedom Flotilla

“If an armed group of Somali pirates had yesterday boarded six vessels on the high seas, killing at least 10 passengers and injuring many more, a NATO task force would today be heading for the Somali coast. What happened yesterday in international waters off the coast of Gaza was the work of Israeli commandos, not pirates, and no Nato warships will in fact be heading for Israel. Perhaps they should be.”

In this case, the NATO treaty obligates its members to come to the aid of a fellow NATO country—Turkey—attacked on the high seas.

That was the view expressed in a recent Guardian editorial "From blockade to bloodshed" under the heading, "Nothing has done more to establish Israel's status as a pariah state among its neighbours than the actions of its armed forces."

Noam Chomsky elaborates this theme in an article entitled, The Real Threat Aboard the Freedom Flotilla 
"The Freedom Flotilla defied Israel's policy of blocking solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict based on international decisions, and so it had to be crushed." says Chomsky.
Read more here

The Forbidden Subject: Does Israel own the USA?

Dr Paul Craig Roberts thinks so.

See the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs list of Pro-Israel Contributions to 2010 Congressional Candidates.

And ex Congresswoman Cynthia Mckinney also thinks Israel owns America.

And if you made it this far, here's another video, this time on Israeli manipulation of the media.

Does this video show Israeli commandos executing victims on the Mavi Marmara? You decide.

Richard Silversein writes,
In my earlier posts about the killings aboard the Mavi Marmara, I used terms like “kill shot” and “execution-style” to describe these events. I based my judgment on the narratives told by eyewitnesses and the Turkish autopsy reports. Some readers were taken aback and accused me of overstatement, exaggeration and worse. But this video vividly confirms my strong suspicions.

It shows IDF commandos executing a passenger on the Mavi Marmara with one and possibly two point blank shots from above into the victim who lies on the boat deck. In truth, one cannot distinguish the face of the victim since it is blocked by a boat railing. But from the muzzle flashes and weapon recoils and the downward direction in which the shooter looks at his victim, it is clear this is an execution just as I described earlier.

The video caption claims this is the murder of 19 year-old Turkish-American high school student Furkan Dogan. While it is possible there is earlier footage not shown in this video that displayed the victim’s face and enabled one to identify him, I won’t vouch for Dogan as being the specific victim. But what is incontrovertible is that this is A Mavi Marmara passenger being murdered.

This changes everything. Here for the first time is evidence that the IDF was not just engaged in a defensive operation, but that it had determined to murder passengers. Gone are the hasbara rationales which defended Israel and blamed the victims for their own deaths.

I am ashamed of Israel. I am ashamed of my president’s response to Israel.

Richard has updated his blog with another video taken a little later with a longer explanation.

This is a follow-up on last night’s post and video which appears to show (at least according to those who edited and captioned the video) the murder of a ship passenger by an IDF commando. Thanks to new video footage Paul Woodward has discovered, I’m going to backtrack somewhat on the claims I made last night. Above you’ll see an expanded version of the same video. In addition, I’ll relay new information I solicited from Prof. Scott MacEachern, a Bowdoin anthropologist and weapons expert, who attempted to piece together what weapon was used and what the commando was actually doing with it.
See the video here

See more video here

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

No Arabs Here: Tel Aviv is District 9

Ari Galahar, writing in YNet News reports on developments in Tel Aviv reminiscent of a scene out of District 9.

Bnei Brak signs: Don't employ Arabs

Notices against employing Palestinians in Israel without a permit have been posted around the religious Tel Aviv satellite town of Bnei Brak after a Palestinian was caught hiding in a haredi seminary last week, causing uproar.

The notices stated, "As is known, for a number of years we have suffered from the presence of alien workers (at one of the major intersections) throughout the day. These alien workers include dozens of members of the minority – Arabs who strike terror in the hearts of the public, wander aimlessly in stairwells and porches, provoking our children and even doing things which cannot be detailed here."

The notices are the result of events last Thursday when an Arab worker was discovered in a seminary, causing hysteria among staff and students. Only after the police got involved was the worker removed. During the uproar, a passerby was injured.

It was further written, "To our regret… the owners of businesses in the area have begun employing Arab workers, mainly women Arab workers, officially and openly, and about this we cannot be silent."

The organizers of the notices did not forget to add a halachic injunction, mentioning various rulings including the preference of our own nation over all others, noting that when they employ an Arab they cause the Arab to stay and keep hold of the Holy Land.

They also quote one of the most senior Lithuanian rabbis, who said, following the attack on the Merkaz Harav yeshiva, "According to the halacha, it is forbidden to employ Arabs from fear of danger. We are after all at war with them… When there is a large difference in the cost of employing, they allow it even when we're talking about Arabs, G-d forbid, and this is dangerous to life."

Hat tip Ben White

Monday, 7 June 2010

USS Liberty Survivor Seized on the Gaza Aid Flotilla

43 Years After Surviving Israeli Attack on USS Liberty, US Veteran Joe Meadors seized by Israeli Forces on Gaza Aid Flotilla
Joe Meadors was on one of the other Free Gaza boats that was seized early Monday morning. For Meadors, this marks the second time he has been aboard a ship attacked by Israeli forces in international waters. In 1967, Meadors was a signalman aboard the USS Liberty, a US Navy electronic intelligence-gathering ship that was attacked by Israeli planes and torpedo boats in 1967. Thirty-four Americans were killed and more than 170 were wounded in the attack. [includes rush transcript]
Democracy Now covers the story and the interview with Amy Goodman.

For more on the USS Liberty "The Assault on the USS Liberty Still Covered Up After 26 Years" by James Ennes in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and on Wikipedia

Iran to Break Gaza Blockade

Aljazeera are reporting that Iran's Red Crescent has announced it will send two aid ships to Gaza later this week in the latest effort to break Israel's blockade on the territory.

The plan was approved by Iran's foreign ministry on Sunday, and will see one boat filled with aid and the other carrying relief workers to the coastal strip, Abdolrouf Adibzadeh, the Red Crescent's director for international affairs said.
He said that the ships would be sent carrying food, medicine and Iranian volunteers.
"Volunteers who want to go to Gaza and help the oppressed people of occupied Palestine can refer to the Red Crescent website and register," Adibzadeh said.
Previous attempts by the Iranian Red Crescent to reach Gaza have been stopped by the Israeli navy, but the latest attempt comes amid reports that Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards have expressed its readiness to escort aid flotillas to Gaza.
"If the respected leader of the revolution (supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) gives an order in this regard, the Revolutionary Guards' naval forces will take a practical step using their capability and equipment to escort flotillas to Gaza,"  Khamenei's aide in the Guards' naval wing, Ali Shirazi, told the Mehr news agency on Sunday. more...
The BBC says the aid from Iran will enter Gaza via Egypt, perhaps to avoid a direct confrontation with Israel.

Queen Rania of Jordan attacks Israel over Gaza

Paul Peacey, in today's Independent writes:
Queen Rania of Jordan calls today for an end to the Israeli blockade that has turned Gaza into a "barely functioning, open-air prison." The human rights campaigner and wife of King Abdullah II says in an article for The Independent that "humanity remains under siege" for every day that the blockade continues.

Jordan is one of the few Arab countries that recognises the Jewish state and has peace treaties with it. However, Queen Rania is highly critical of Israeli policy from the "monstrous" military campaign against Gaza 18 months ago to the attacks on the flotilla last week. She criticises the Israeli operation against the flotilla for its "blatant and absurd disregard" for international law and human rights that "appalled our global community."

"Although, I was stunned at the glaring outrageousness of the attack, I am not surprised by it," she writes. "By its very nature, hard-line ideology is self-serving and self-perpetuating, its primary goal is to survive – and that precludes everything."
She also criticises Israel for defending its actions. She writes: "Assigning themselves authority and immunity, Israel's leaders feel licensed to do whatever they like and not expect an international outcry."
In her article she warns, "By attacking criticism as part of an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic propaganda war, they yet again fail to understand that the problem is policy, not PR." She asks rhetorically, 
What do chocolate, cookies, A4 paper, potato chips, cumin, toys, jelly, nuts, dried fruit, nutmeg, and goats have in common? It's a tricky one. If you're a moderate, they have nothing in common. But if you are a hard-line Israeli politician, they are all potentially dangerous goods that could threaten Israel's security. It seems that side of the political spectrum has won the argument, as all the above are items that the Israeli government has prohibited from entering Gaza.
It's understandable. I mean, you can inflict a lot of damage on your oppressors with a chocolate biscuit. And those paper cuts, boy, they can really hurt. But I don't want to over-dramatize the situation, because it's not all doom and gloom down in Gaza. Many items are allowed in: mops, sponges for washing, egg cartons, glass cleaner, hair combs, plastic chicken cages, and lentils, for example. So what exactly are the 1.5 million Gazan people complaining about? What could possibly have been on the Freedom Flotilla that Israeli commandos attacked early last Sunday morning in international waters, in yet another assault that has appalled our global community?
Read more here Queen Rania of Jordan: Hardliners are now the face of Israel

The Knesset School for Racists

We are told ad nauseum that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East (ignoring Lebanon of course). But what is it like in the Knesset? How does it compare say with the British House of Parliament or US Congress and Senate? Watch this recording of what fellow Israeli Parliamentarians said and did to the Israeli Palestinian MK Haneen Zoabi.

Richard Silverstein comments:
This YouTube video is the raw footage direct from the Knesset video feed and thus contains more immediacy than the edited footage on the TV news. Unlike the previous video, it is also English-captioned, conveying the emotion in the taunting with more immediacy than the uncaptioned video. You’ll note that the reason Zoabi is addressing the Knesset is on a point of personal privilege after other members had accused her of carrying knives on the floor of the Knesset and being a terrorist, traitor, and murderer (the latter a stretch considering if anything the IDF did the murdering and not Zoabi). She was given 5 minutes to address the personal charges against her. But not only did members heckle her address, the acting speaker, ostensibly to control the hecklers, interrupted her at will. He then had to audacity to tell her that her five minutes were up even though she’d barely gotten out a few sentences.

Even more disturbing at the end is an interaction with the male Knesset member who accused her of carrying knives, in which she courageously confronts him and he rages at her as if he would tear her limb from limb. It is portrait of raw Israeli male aggression and frightening to behold.

Knesset security then proceeds to forcibly remove Zoabi from the hall, only to be interrupted by the Knesset speaker who bellows to the assembled body: “Lifting a hand against an MK? Is that what we want the world to see? Don’t force her out. MK Zoabi, have a seat. Knesset security is collaborating with them [the rightists, in forcing her out of the hall].” A very telling interchange. In other words, the only reason Zoabi is not evicted is TV cameras and the fact that the Knesset speaker knows the whole world is watching.

Read more here

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Targeted Assassinations? The Hijacking of Truth

The hijacking of the truth: Film evidence 'destroyed'

Catrina Stewart writing in the Independent reports that protesters say Israeli commandos had an assassination list.This would explain the findings of the Turkish autopsies.

"Below, the protesters rummaged through captured soldiers' belongings and claimed to unearth a document that they allege is a list of people Israel intended to assassinate. The booklet, written in Hebrew and in English, contained some photographs of passengers on the Marmara, including the leader of IHH, the Turkish charity that provided two of the ships, an 88-year-old priest and Ra'ad Salah, head of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Mr Elshayyal said.

A military spokesman, Lt Col Avital Leibowitz, insisted soldiers acted in self-defence and that she "was not aware" of any list. But one thing is fast becoming clear – many of the dead were shot multiple times at point-blank range. One was a journalist taking photographs. "A man was shot ... between the eyebrows, which indicates that it was not an attack that took place from self-defence," Hassan Ghani, a passenger, said in an account posted on YouTube. "The soldier had time to set up the shot." Mattias Gardell, a Swedish activist, told the TT news bureau: "The Israelis committed premeditated murder ... Two people were killed by shots in the forehead, one was shot in the back of the head and one in the chest."
An autopsy report from the Turkish council of forensic medicine, obtained by the Guardian Friday, showed that the nine dead had been shot a total of 30 times, "many fired at close range."

What is Not Allowed (Israel's List of Banned Goods for Gaza)

Richard Tillinghast is an American poet who lives in Co Tipperary. He is the author of eight books of poetry, the latest of which is Selected Poems (Dedalus Press, 2010 ), as well as several works of non-fiction. This poem was published in the Irish Times

No tinned meat is allowed, no tomato paste,
no clothing, no shoes, no notebooks.
These will be stored in our warehouses at Kerem Shalom
until further notice.
Bananas, apples, and persimmons are allowed into Gaza,
peaches and dates, and now macaroni
(after the American Senator’s visit).
These are vital for daily sustenance.

But no apricots, no plums, no grapes, no avocados, no jam.
These are luxuries and are not allowed.
Paper for textbooks is not allowed.
The terrorists could use it to print seditious material.
And why do you need textbooks
now that your schools are rubble?
No steel is allowed, no building supplies, no plastic pipe.
These the terrorists could use to launch rockets
against us.
Pumpkins and carrots you may have, but no delicacies,
no cherries, no pomegranates, no watermelon, no onions,
no chocolate.

We have a list of three dozen items that are allowed,
but we are not obliged to disclose its contents.
This is the decision arrived at
by Colonel Levi, Colonel Rosenzweig, and Colonel Segal.

Our motto:
‘No prosperity, no development, no humanitarian crisis.’
You may fish in the Mediterranean,
but only as far as three km from shore.
Beyond that and we open fire.
It is a great pity the waters are polluted
twenty million gallons of raw sewage dumped into the sea every day
is the figure given.

Our rockets struck the sewage treatments plants,
and at this point spare parts to repair them are not allowed.
As long as Hamas threatens us,
no cement is allowed, no glass, no medical equipment.
We are watching you from our pilotless drones
as you cook your sparse meals over open fires
and bed down
in the ruins of houses destroyed by tank shells.

And if your children can’t sleep,
missing the ones who were killed in our incursion,
or cry out in the night, or wet their beds
in your makeshift refugee tents,
or scream, feeling pain in their amputated limbs –
that’s the price you pay for harbouring terrorists.

God gave us this land.
A land without a people for a people without a land.

View Richard's website here

 See Its about Civil Right Stupid

Exodus 1947 and the Gaza Blockade

Kill a Turk and Rest by Uri Avnery

On the high seas, outside territorial waters, the ship was stopped by the navy.

The commandos stormed it. Hundreds of people on the deck resisted, the soldiers used force. Some of the passengers were killed, scores injured. The ship was brought into harbor, the passengers were taken off by force.

The world saw them walking on the quay, men and women, young and old, all of them worn out, one after another, each being marched between two soldiers…

The ship was called “Exodus 1947”. It left France in the hope of breaking the British blockade, which was imposed to prevent ships loaded with Holocaust survivors from reaching the shores of Palestine. If it had been allowed to reach the country, the illegal immigrants would have come ashore and the British would have sent them to detention camps in Cyprus, as they had done before. Nobody would have taken any notice of the episode for more than two days.

But the person in charge was Ernest Bevin, a Labour Party leader, an arrogant, rude and power-loving British minister. He was not about to let a bunch of Jews dictate to him. He decided to teach them a lesson the entire world would witness. “This is a provocation!” he exclaimed, and of course he was right. The main aim was indeed to create a provocation, in order to draw the eyes of the world to the British blockade.

What followed is well known: the episode dragged on and on, one stupidity led to another, the whole world sympathized with the passengers. But the British did not give in and paid the price. A heavy price.

Many believe that the “Exodus” incident was the turning point in the struggle for the creation of the State of Israel. Britain collapsed under the weight of international condemnation and decided to give up its mandate over Palestine. There were, of course, many more weighty reasons for this decision, but the “Exodus” proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I AM not the only one who was reminded of this episode this week. Actually, it was almost impossible not to be reminded of it, especially for those of us who lived in Palestine at the time and witnessed it.

Read more here

Mark Regev murders the truth yet again.

Freda Hughes, spokesperson for the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign said:

"The significance of this flotilla of aid was two-fold; its intended purpose was to deliver much needed supplies to the people of Gaza and to break the ongoing illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip. This blockade, which has gone on for over three years amounts to collective punishment of 1.5 million people - condemned to face enforced and avoidable poverty, human rights abuses and appalling hardships - often just because of where they were born. It is the duty of every right thinking individual of conscience to ensure that such inhuman treatment is no longer allowed and is no longer ignored by the world."

Ms Hughes continued: "The Rachel Corrie remained committed to this purpose and rightly rejected that Israeli offer to reroute to Ashdod, to accept this offer would be to legitimse the seige of Gaza. We call for an immediate lifting of the blockade and the granting of an autonomous sea port in Gaza that would allow the people of Gaza open and unfettered communication and access to the international community.

Earlier this week the Irish parliament passed a unanimous motion stating that if the Rachel Corrie was not allowed safe passage to Gaza, the Irish governmnent would take "further diplomatic measures" against Israel.

We in the IPSC hope that the Irish goverment is as good as its word on this issue and immediatley takes diplomatic action against the rogue state of Israel. We are calling for an immediate lifting of the blockade.

I would like to refute the false and unsubstantiated claim by Mark Regev that other flotilla members were militants who attacked the IDF. This is untrue.

All passengers were subject to screening before boarding the flotilla.

All baggage was scanned just as in any airport of ferry port.

All cargo was inspected by the governments of their countries of departure before setting sail.

The items that have been described as weapons by Mr. Regev are standard items found on any ship such as gally knives and hammers. The fact remains that Israeli commandos attacked umarmed humanitarian aid workers in international waters and these people were within their rights to defend themselves and their ships.

His assertion that violence only broke out on one ship is also untrue. It is laughable that Israel - the 4th biggest military power in the world - is trying to suggest that it was attacked by a UN approved flotilla of humanitarian aid workers.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Message from Free Gaza: We are Returning

Cyprus, June 5, 2010) Today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the peaceful outcome to the operation when they seized our ship in international waters in direct violation of maritime law. Through his speech writer, he said:

"We saw today the difference between a ship of peace activists, with whom we don't agree but respect their right to a different opinion from ours, and between a ship of hate organised by violent Turkish terror extremists,"

So we’d like to remind Mr. Netanyahu that the only hate evidenced on board all six boats on Monday morning came from the Israeli attackers. Israeli soldiers violently boarded the entire flotilla, beating, shooting and hooding passengers as though they were in Abu Ghraib

"People had been shot in the arms, legs, in the head - everywhere. We had so many injured. It was a bloodbath," said Laura Stuart on board the Marmara, a British housewife and rescue worker.

She described frantic attempts to treat the injured in a makeshift sick room on the ship, and failed attempts to resuscitate some of the dead. 

Therefore, we are putting Mr. Netanyahu on notice that we are returning in the next couple of months with another flotilla, that his actions and the actions of his soldiers have energized thousands of people who have stepped forward with offers to help and participate on the next voyage. We’d also like to remind Mr. Netanyahu that siezing our ship, the Rachel Corrie, is yet another violent act from a long series of violent acts against civilians that Israel has committed this week

The Ultimate Mission to Israel

Its billed as The Ultimate Mission to Israel. Not exactly your typical Holy Land Tour, Shurat HaDin offer you a 'once in a life time experience'


Monday, June 21: Opening
Registration at the Sheraton Plaza Hotel in Jerusalem.
Opening Banquet at the Sheraton Plaza Hotel.

  • Introductory remarks by Shurat HaDin’s director, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Esq.

  • Briefing by Vice Prime Minister and former IDF Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon: "Strategic and tactical analysis of the threat to Israel from the Palestinians and Middle Eastern states".

Tuesday, June 22: The Terrorism Reality
Breakfast in the hotel.
Travel to the Israel Defense Force Center at Latrun.

  • Briefing by terrorism expert, former Shin Bet Commander for the Judea and Samaria region: "The use of informants, analysis and counter terrorism". Discussion with undercover Palestinian agents who work with the Israeli security services to infiltrate the Palestinian Authority.

  • Briefing by former head of the interrogation unit of the Shin Beit: "Israel’s case for pre-emptive self defense."
An authentic Middle Eastern lunch in Tel Aviv's historic HaTikva Quarter.
Walking tour of Jaffa.
Insiders’ tour of the IDF Headquarter in Tel Aviv, HaKiria.

  • Briefing by Defense Minister’s senior adviser, Amos Gilad: “Israel’s response and preparedness in a hostile Middle East”.

  • Briefing by Gen. Avigdor Kahalani, a hero of the Yom Kippur War who defeated the Syrians on the main Israeli-Syrian battlefield of the 1973 War
Dinner at Meatos, the finest restaurant in Tel Aviv.

Wednesday, June 23: The Judicial Reality
Pack for two nights stay in the North.
Breakfast in the hotel.

  • Briefing by Senior Official of the Mossad: "Tracking The Material Support and Resources of the Palestinian Terrorist Organizations".
Visit to Machane Ofer Military Base near Jerusalem.

  • Tour of the military court.

  • Observation of a security trial of Hamas terrorists.

  • Greeting by Chief Judge of Military Court, Col. Aharon Mishnayot.

  • Briefing by military court judge, Menachem Liberman.
Lunch at the military base.
Travel to the Arab town, Kalkilia.

  • Tour of an IDF checkpoint on the outskirts of Kalkilia in the West Bank, guarding one of the main terrorists infiltration routes into Israel. First hand visit and inspection of the controversial Security Fence.

  • Briefing by base commander : "The infiltration and detection of terrorists, explosives and smuggling, emergency medical vehicles, and the civil population".
Drive to the northern Tel Aviv Airport “Sdeh Dov”.

  • Pre-Flight Briefing.

  • Private airplanes for a low-flying flight from Tel Aviv to Rosh Pina in the Galilee.
Travel to the Sea of the Galilee, Kinneret.
Moonlight Boat Cruise on the Sea of the Galilee.
Dinner at Decks, the finest restaurant on the Sea of the Galilee.
Check-in at the Kinar Village Hotel on the Sea of the Galilee.

  • Overnight: Ramot Guest House, Tiberias.

Thursday, June 24: The Military Reality
Breakfast in the Ramot Guest House.
Travel to the Golan Heights.

  • Visit to Gamla, the ancient fortress from which Jews fought the Romans tooth and nail during the great Jewish revolt (67 C.E.).
Visit to IDF tank unit on the Syrian border.

  • Briefing escorted by Gen. Yair Nafshi, a former senior commander on the Syrian border.

  • Briefing by Aviv Shir-On, Deputy Director General for Media & Public Affairs, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Lunch in the base.
Tour of a military forward position on the Lebanese Border, escorted by a Senior Commander of the Northern Division, first hand look at the IDF surveillance units.

  • Briefing by Northern Front Commander: "The threat from Hezbullah terrorist organization in South Lebanon".
Visit to Misgav Am, a front line Kibutz on the Lebanese border.

  • Briefing on the Lebanese border.
Tour of Tzfat.
Return to Tiberias.
Dinner at Pagoda, a Chinese restaurant on the see of the Galilee.
Walking tour of the city of Tiberias.

  • Overnight: Ramot Guest House, Tiberias.
Friday, June 25: The Human Reality
Breakfast at the Ramot Guest House.

  • Briefing by Shurat HaDin’s director, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Esq.: "Taking the battle against Palestinian terrorist organizations, their leaders and financial patrons to court".
Walking tour of the old town of Beit Shean.

  • Lunch in town.
Return back to Jerusalem.
Bus ride to The Western Wall (The Kottel) in Jerusalem’s Old City.

  • Welcoming in the Sabbath, “Kabalat Shabbat”, at the Western Wall.

  • Traditional Dinner and Shabbat Celebration at the Old City Yeshiva “Aish HaTorah”.
Walk back to the Sheraton Plaza Hotel for overnight.

Saturday, June 26: The Historical & Religious Reality
Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning Services at The Great Synagogue or other local congregations.
Lunch at hotel.
Walking tour of The Old City with Guide.
Coffee and Cake at the hotel. Divrei Tora (torah words) by Prop. Israel Auman, Israel Nobel Prize winner for economic.
Evening: free.
 Sunday, June 27: The Political Reality
Breakfast at the hotel.
Visiting to an Air Force Base.

  • Briefing by Gen. Nechemia Dagan, a former Air Force Base Commander, on “the realities of Israel’s policy of targeted killings.”
Travel to Gaza.

  • Visit to Machsom Erez, Gaza Border. Lecture by the commander of the border crossing: "Gaza: The Security Threat After the Israeli Withdrawal”.
Visit to Sderot: Israeli City on the Edge of Gaza, Under Constant Mortar Attacks by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza.

  • lunch in Sderot.
Travel to Zeelim.

  • Visit to Mala, the IDF's state-of-the-art Center for Urban Training. Maco Palestinian city where soldiers receive extensive training in the realities of house to house fighting.
Travel back to Jerusalem.

Guided tour of the Israel's Supreme Court.

  • Briefing by Supreme Court Chief Justice, Aharon Barak: "The legal and moralistic tensions between Israeli civil rights and security".
Farewell Banquet at the Hotel.

  • Farewell greetings by Shurat HaDin’s staff.

Monday, June 28: Farewells
Farewell Breakfast in the Hotel.

The cost of the eight day Mission is US $2,835 based on double occupancy. Not including air fare. Participants are also required to make a minimum tax-deductible donation of $500 to Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center to assist in the funding of the terror victim litigation against the Palestinian terrorist organizations, their leaders and financial patrons.

Its for real, but somehow, without a name change, I don't think they will let me on the tour.For an alternative tour see the World Vision-Willow Creek-Holy Land Trust Tour - scheduled now for March 2010.