People need to wake up!
Gaza and the West Bank are open air concentration camps, these are the new Warsaw Ghetto.
Auschwitz is still in operation it has been renamed Gaza, and the students have outdid the master.
Consumed By the Flames: The Myth of the Moral Army August 28, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Human Rights, Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
Tags: gaza, idf, israel, israeli justice, israeli occupation, Palestine, rachel corrie, roger hollander, west bank
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Roger’s note: A sad but not unexpected verdict by Israeli “Justice” on the murder of Rachel Corrie.
by Abby Zimet
The ruling by an Israeli court that the death of activist Rachel Corrie was an accident of her own making, and not part of a brutal Israeli mindset that sees anyone – child, peaceful protester, innocent bystander – as a legitimate target, makes it truly, as Corrie’s long-suffering mother said, a bad day for humanity, and the rule of law. It also raises the grievous question: If Israel insists on calling Hamas a terrorist organization, what to call the Israeli army?
thank you cindy and craig corrie for standing up in the name of your daughter. please send the corrie’s a message; let them know you appreciate their herculean efforts to seek justice in the face of murderers.
“If Israel insists on calling Hamas a terrorist organization, what to call the Israeli army?”
agents of a racist apartheid state.
We have had the “moral army” myth for thousands of years. Roman soldiers had “virtus” or manliness in killing. The Catholic Church has its “just war” doctrine to justify mass slaughter of innocents.
All soldiers in all armies in the entire history of the world are murderers and rapists, or their accomplices.
‘What Our Society Is Made of’: Former IDF Soldiers Confess Abuse of Palestinian Children August 27, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in Human Rights, Israel, Gaza & Middle East, War.
Tags: breaking the silence, gaza, idf, israel, israel occupation, israeli military, israeli soldiers, Palestine, palestinian children, roger hollander, west bank
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Published on Monday, August 27, 2012 by Common Dreams
Testimony by ex-Israeli Defense Force soldiers reveals a devastating portrayal of ill-treatment and abuse of Palestinian youth by members of Israel’s occupying army in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
An Israeli soldier restrains a Palestinian girl crying over the arrest of her mother during a protest over land confiscation in al-Nabi Saleh. (Photo: AFP)
The testimony by more than 30 soldiers, and fashioned into a booklet by Breaking the Silence, an organisation of former IDF soldiers dedicated to speaking out against Israeli policy in the occupied territories, contains descriptions of beatings, intimidation and humiliation of Palestinian children.
“It is crucial that people in Israel are confronted about what it means for Palestinian children to live under military occupation,” says Yehuda Shaul, one of the founders of Breaking the Silence.
“This is what [Israeli] society is made of, you cannot ignore it, you cannot just run away from it — this is who we are as people and I think this is something we should face.”
The group plans to hand out copies of the testimonies to Israel high school students in the coming weeks as the school year begins.
“Exposing our teens to this reality is not a trivial matter,” says Avner Gvaryahu, a former soldier who both contributed testimony for the report and works for the organization.
“The group hesitated to distribute the brochure among high school students,” he said, “but it was eventually decided to go through with it. I’m queasy about it even though I understand that it’s necessary… If you’re old enough to enlist and carry a weapon, you’re old enough to know what’s really happening in the territories.”
The Independent excerpts testimony from the booklet:
First Sergeant, Kfir Brigade
“We took over a school and had to arrest anyone in the village who was between the ages of 17 and 50. When these detainees asked to go to the bathroom, and the soldiers took them there, they beat them to a pulp and cursed them for no reason, and there was nothing that would legitimise hitting them. An Arab was taken to the bathroom to piss, and a soldier slapped him, took him down to the ground while he was shackled and blindfolded. The guy wasn’t rude and did nothing to provoke any hatred or nerves. Just like that, because he is an Arab. He was about 15, hadn’t done a thing.
“In general people at the school were sitting for hours in the sun. They could get water once in a while, but let’s say someone asked for water five times, a soldier could come to him and slap him just like that. I saw many soldiers using their knees to hit them, just out of boredom. Because you’re standing around for 10 hours doing nothing, you’re bored, so you hit them. I know that at the bathroom, there was this ‘demons’ dance’ as it was called. Anyone who brought a Palestinian there – it was catastrophic. Not bleeding beatings – they stayed dry – but still beatings.”
First Sergeant, Combat Engineering Corps
“There was this incident where a ‘straw widow’ was put up following a riot at Qalandiya on a Friday, in an abandoned house near the square. Soldiers got out with army clubs and beat people to a pulp. Finally the children who remained on the ground were arrested. The order was to run, make people fall to the ground. There was a 10- to 12-man team, four soldiers lighting up the area. People were made to fall to the ground, and then the soldiers with the clubs would go over to them and beat them. A slow runner was beaten – that was the rule.
“We were told not to use it on people’s heads. I don’t remember where we were told to hit, but as soon as a person on the ground is beaten with such a club, it’s difficult to be particular.”
First Sergeant, Kfir Brigade
“We’d often provoke riots there. We’d be on patrol, walking in the village, bored, so we’d trash shops, find a detonator, beat someone to a pulp, you know how it is. Search, mess it all up. Say we’d want a riot? We’d go up to the windows of a mosque, smash the panes, throw in a stun grenade, make a big boom, then we’d get a riot.
“Every time we’d catch Arab kids.You catch him, push the gun against his body. He can’t make a move – he’s totally petrified. He only goes: ‘No, no, army.’ You can tell he’s petrified. He sees you’re mad, that you couldn’t care less about him and you’re hitting him really hard the whole time. And all those stones flying around. You grab him like this, you see? We were mean, really. Only later did I begin to think about these things, that we’d lost all sense of mercy.”
Rank and unit unidentified in report
“One night, things were hopping in Idna village [a small town of 20,000 people, about 13km west of Hebron], so we were told there’s this wild riot, and we should get there fast. Suddenly we were showered with stones and didn’t know what was going on. Everyone stopped suddenly; the sergeant sees the company commander get out of the vehicle and joins him. We jump out without knowing what was going on – I was last. Suddenly I see a shackled and blindfolded boy. The stoning stopped as soon as the company commander gets out of the car. He fired rubber ammo at the stone-throwers and hit this boy.
“At some point they talked about hitting his face with their knees. At that point I argued with them and said: ‘I swear to you, if a drop of his blood or a hair falls off his head, you won’t sleep for three nights. I’ll make you miserable.’
Auschwitz is still in operation it has been renamed Gaza, and the students have outdid the master.
I have seen video footage of the violence against Palestinians by the Israeli forces…this was twenty years ago. The Israeli’s have become everything that we hated about Hitler’s regime. Maybe there’s no gas chambers, but does that make it OK? As an American, I am ashamed of what our troops have done in the middle east. I am ashamed that my government continues to give money to the Israeli’s. I am ashamed that my government has continued to perpetuate this brutality. Please forgive those of us who are trying to change that. Please forgive the Jewish people around the world for what the Israeli’s are doing. Hateful, abusive people are found in every “developed” society. They are the fringe in most cases, but those who do nothing to stop these atrocities are just as bad.
What a powerful video. Pity that it, or anything like it, will never be seen on mainstream media in the U.S.
The opportunity missed by Israel after the second world war can be measured by all the budgets all the world knows today that support war. Whatever the supposed, collective religious claims of that nation may be, they like so many others, are visibly set against peace. War is the proof.
Irrespective of our collective failures, the opportunity to end war today must now be measured by the social implications of shifting out of and away from what may be the greatest weight of failed, misguided financial foolishness humanity has ever known. You won’t stop spending what you spend on war. All human suffering today is the price humanity pays for your commitment to war. The budget is the proof.
Rectifying this insane imbalance stands as the greatest challenge human intelligence has ever been faced with. Honesty and commitment to the obvious alternative is the straight-line solution.
How many need to be strapped into a movie theater seat Clockwork Orange style to be compelled to come to understand the real implications of their own complicity. How do we take collective responsibility for the real Task of shifting away from our collective commitment to the priority of warring ways of competition.
War or Peace has risen to the place of a final, fortunately single, wide-scale, potentially world-wide policy choice. It is the measure of your investments that prevents the essential honesty necessary to the only agenda that matters in our world today. Everything else we speak about by any means in public is convenient avoidance resting either in denial or resignation all of which is the childish, irresponsible, myopic immaturity of fear.
Any adult among us who will not stand for the essential, single, polite demand for a worldwide agenda founding a final peace has reason to educate him- or herself about the real details of the financial reality currently committed to weaponry and ALL the skins it infects.
All of every other thing any of us pay any attention to whatsoever is entirely irrelevant. One nation, any nation, ready to stand for Peace could accomplish the necessary Task, and today none will.
One could substitute [any armed forces] abusing and terrorizing [any subject civilian population] during [any occupation in any part of the world during any time period].
I appreciate this apparently truthful news piece and just want to expand it to the bigger picture of what horrid things we humans historically and currently are, unfortunately, capable of. It’s not a pretty picture but is one we have to acknowledge before we can move forward to eventually become what we could and should be.
It may be as simple as teaching how to handle anger and frustration as well as the rewards of caring and helping others. Of course, the PTB do the opposite, guiding anger and frustration of whatever group against some other group, keeping the horrid injustice going on and on and on. If there is an ‘enemy’, it’s those who lie and encourage or condone inhumane behavior.
This violence and hatred toward Palestinians is no more an accident or “fringe behavior” than is any other racist actions we see around the globe or in our own cities. This is drummed into soldiers of the US as they are sent into the Middle East and Afghanistan. They call Iraqis and Afghani’s Haji’s and towel heads. This is what the army wants , so they can prosecute this war and commit the atrocities necessary to make way for their dominance of energy sources around the globe.for the benefiit of Exxon-Mobil and the finance bankers of Wall Street. the Israeli’s are no different in their racism and fascist control of occupied territories than other larger imperialists. They all represent the sickness of capitalism and the need for a global communist movement to lead our class to bring about revolutionary change and rule of the 99%, the working class. We nned revolutionary youth to be organized to go into the military and win the alliegiance of working class GI’s , so when we are strong enough we can turn the guns around and bring down the imperialist empires. Then and only then can we hope to establish an egalitarian world without racism, war, exploitatrion or money. Then we can produce and distribute to all based on neednot profit.
History will show that when Truman gave Palestinian land to the Jews from Germany, the Arab leaders told him that there would be no peace thereafter. There has been no peace. The Palestinians had nothing to do with the Holocaust. The Diaspora happened 2,000 years ago. Under what law did Truman have the right to give land in the Middle East to German Jews? Prior to that, German Jews were migrating peacefully to Palestine and buying land to farm. They were neighbors of the local Palestinians. That worked. The Wahrburg banking family in NYC donated money to plant trees and build schools. They told Truman not to expropriate land from the Palestinians, not to create a State of Israel. We now have a permanent state of war; we now have a permanent occupation of Palestinian land. And, to add to this awfulness, Israel is encouraging Russian Jews to come to Israel for “free” land. Settlers on the West Bank are expropriating more land from Palestinian pastoral farmers. When does it stop? When does the United States Congress stop supporting this land grab?
Top Discussions on Common Dreams
Let’s be clear, Assange is not a fugitive from justice. He has not been charged with any crime in any country. He has not raped any women. There are no indictments pending in any court, and as no charges have been brought against him, there is no validity to the Swedish extradition request. It is not normal for people to be extradited for questioning, especially when, as in Assange’s case, he expressed his complete cooperation with being questioned a second time by Swedish officials in London.
Monte Sonnenberg seems to be exempt from intelligence, so that facts don’t get in his way:
This is just another false flag operation by the US.
I am sure I have read a few planted articles like this on
this site before.
You don’t think the US uses all sides of the spectrum
when issuing propaganda?
Just look at the war mongering CIA hack Juan Cole, he loves
war and Obama.
Places like Freetown Christiana in Denmark
Provide the example for us all. Abandon capitalist society, construct our own schools, hospitals, housing and food chain.
Leave capitalist society as hollow and empty as its soul.
f-off nazi troll
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Which Dream Will We Carry? The One Where Scary Anti-Colonialist Black People Play Aggressive Monopoly, Or What?
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US: Israel’s Inquiry Into Rachel Corrie’s Death Not ‘Thorough, Credible and Transparent’ August 24, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
Tags: dan shapiro, gaza, idf, isreael, oded gershon, Palestine, rachel corrie, roger hollander
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Israel’s investigation into the death of Rachel Corrie has failed to be “thorough, credible and transparent,” U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told the Corrie family last week.
Shapiro made his comments to Rachel Corrie’s parents, Craig and Cindy, and her sister Sarah at the US embassy in Tel Aviv last week.
Amira Hass reports in Haaretz that “The U.S. government’s position is not new to the Corries, but their attorneys said that hearing it only a few days before the verdict was ‘important and encouraging,’ because it signals to the Corrie family that the U.S. government will continue to demand a full accounting from Israel about their daughter’s killing, regardless of how Judge Oded Gershon rules.”
23-year-old Rachel Corrie was killed in 2003 while in Rafah, Gaza while attempting to stop the destruction of a Palestinian home, when a Caterpillar bulldozer crushed her to death. The IDF has claimed that the driver of the bulldozer didn’t see Corrie, who was wearing a fluorescent orange jacket.
In 2005, the Corrie family filed a civil action lawsuit against the state of Israel.
The Guardian reports on the response from the Corrie family:
“The lawsuit is just a small step in our family’s nearly decade-long search for truth and justice,” said Craig Corrie, Rachel’s father. “The mounting evidence presented before the court underscores a broken system of accountability.
“We’re responsible as a family to do whatever we can to get at the truth of what happened to Rachel and to try to get some accountability. It’s been a very difficult process for us. The testimony by the defence witnesses has been erratic. Their stories never agreed with each other. We hope the judge will reach a reasonable conclusion.”
The verdict is expected Tuesday, Aug. 28.
President Obama Procrastinates As Israel Edges Ever Closer to Igniting a Middle East Firestorm February 21, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Foreign Policy, Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
Tags: gaza, hillary clinton, idf, Iran, iran nuclear, israel, israel iran, israel military, israel settlements, Joe Lieberman, michael payne, Middle East, netanyahu, npt, Obama, Palestine, Palestinians, roger hollander, war
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Michael Payne, www.opednews.com, February 20, 2012
The Middle East has been a boiling cauldron for decades with Israel at the center. And now this region is heating up again as not a day goes by when we do not hear the drums of war being beaten by Israel, with a threatening counter response coming from Iran. But as this situation grows more and more volatile, the U.S. and President Obama should be taking steps to prevent an eruption that could set the Middle East on fire; nothing of the sort is happening.
Talk about procrastination, talk about vacillation; the Middle East could explode at any given time but all we see coming from this White House is more delay, indecision, together with contradictory and confusing statements. During a critical time when we should hear this president issuing warnings about the great dangers of an approaching massive confrontation between Israel and Iran, he repeats that “all options remain on the table.”
It is absolutely amazing how Israel can completely dominate the world of news reporting to such an extent and for such an extended period of time. We hear a steady stream of reports indicating that Israel is getting closer and closer to an attack on Iran and its nuclear facilities. What we don’t hear from this pathetic national media is factual information from U.S. intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), both of which have indicated that there is no concrete evidence of the development of a nuclear bomb. This media blindly and passively supported the fabricated agenda that illegally initiated the Iraq War and now it is doing the same thing all over again. This is a disgrace to the profession of journalism.
Without a doubt, the situation in Iran needs to be closely monitored by both U.S. intelligence agencies and the UN and Iran cannot be allowed to develop a nuclear device. That is what these agencies are set up to do. The way that this is being grossly mishandled by Israel, the U.S. and Iran, with threats and counter threats and no real attempts at mutual dialogue to diffuse the situation is totally counter-productive; it does nothing but fuel the tensions and distrust.
How can such a very small nation be the most powerful nation in the Middle East? Well, simply because it also happens to possess a nuclear arsenal that is estimated to be the sixth largest in the world. Israel has repeatedly refused to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In fact, it consistently refuses to acknowledge that it has nuclear weapons when the whole world knows that it does.
Even while Israel sets its sights on Iran, it also continues to follow an aggressive, militant agenda on several other fronts. There has been more and more talk that Israel is planning yet another military attack on Gaza. An article by Yaakov Katz in the January 16 edition of the Jerusalem Post reported that “IDF preparing for major Gaza action within months.” Also that “The IDF General Staff has ordered the Southern Command to prepare for a possible large Gaza operation that could occur within the next few months.”
In addition to that report, here’s another example of the extent of Israel’s cruel agenda against their Palestinian “neighbors”: “Israel plans to demolish Palestinian solar panels and wind turbines.” There is an “Area C” in the West Bank where solar panels and wind turbines were installed in 16 Palestinian communities and are now providing about 1500 people with electricity. This was a part of a foreign aid program by European and other countries, a great humanitarian gesture.
Now Israel is preparing to demolish the solar panels and turbines, claiming that the structures were installed without proper authority from the appropriate Israeli administrative agency. Are there no limits to the venom that Israel directs against these people who must struggle to secure the necessities of life? Even when other nations try to help the Palestinians acquire electricity for their homes, Israel will have none of it.
The Israeli government apparently will not stop until the Palestinians are entirely flushed out of the country. It continues to infringe on the shrinking territories of the Palestinians by building new settlements. It suppresses their movement by penning them up in Gaza and surrounds them with walls in other areas. It is astounding how our government in Washington continues to accuse China and other nations of human rights violations but, when it comes to these continuous flagrant violations by Israel, it remains completely silent.
Though Israel continues to beat the drums of war many military analysts and Middle East experts believe that it knows that it cannot successfully attack and destroy the Iranian underground facilities without the direct involvement and support of the United States. Those close to this situation are quite certain that if Iran is attacked by Israel or a combination of Israel and the U.S., that massive retaliation from Tehran, aided by Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah and other allies will wreak havoc in the Middle East, severely damaging Israel’s cities as well as U.S. military installations.
This deadly confrontation has already gone too far; Israel must be reigned in before it goes off the deep end and launches an attack on Iran; the only country that is capable of doing it is, of course, the U.S. The only logical and rational way to accomplish this is for the U.S. to tell Israel in no uncertain terms that it will not take part in such an attack and Israel will be left alone if it chooses that course. In other words, the U.S. has to assume control of this situation and deal unilaterally with the issue of Iran’s nuclear program.
But in doing this Mr. Obama knows that there are many members of Congress, and some in his administration, who strongly support Israel and its potential attack on Iran. Hillary Clinton, the diplomatically challenged Secretary of State, and Senator Joe Lieberman, the premier war hawk in Congress, both back Israel to the hilt; it can do no wrong in their eyes no matter how egregious its military actions have been against the people of Palestine or against peaceful humanitarian flotillas that have tried to deliver essential medical and other supplies to the beleaguered city of Gaza.
Israel, as is the case with Mrs. Clinton, has shown it is totally incapable of any form of real diplomacy or negotiations; force is the only way that it knows to deal with others in the Middle East region. So it’s now time for President Obama to step into this highly dangerous situation and tell Israel and its militant Prime Minister Netanyahu that enough is enough and that this planned attack on Iran must not be pursued.
Mr. Obama must totally reject the many warmongers in Washington and act like the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize that he is, stop fiddling around, stop saying that “all options are on the table” and arrange for the beginning of mutual negotiations between the U.S. and Iran over this contentious issue. Israel would have to be entirely excluded from these negotiations for very obvious reasons. Negotiations should be designed to create some viable way to allow Iran to develop a nuclear energy program such as many other countries have and also to include a foolproof mechanism to prevent any diversion of enriched uranium into a program to develop a nuclear bomb. This could be done with any number of other countries taking part in the process.
The world keeps watching this same movie with the same actors and a plot that never changes — featuring Israel with its itchy finger on the trigger, ready to fire. How much longer will America let Israel set the agenda, dictate the policy, call the shots, and dominate our Middle East foreign policy? In recent times more and more articles are being written about America’s decline; could there be any better example of that decline than the total subservience of this nation and its government to the nation of Israel?
This scenario becomes even more tenuous when we consider that there are powerful countries who have said that they will stand by Iran if the situation reaches a massive military confrontation; these countries that could support Iran in various ways include Russia, China, India and Pakistan; Venezuela, Brazil and other South American countries do not side with the U.S. on this issue. A recent meeting between the leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran make it clear that these three nations are cementing an already close relationship and that’s not good news for the U.S.
The question that should be put to this president is this: is he willing to let this situation get entirely out of control, all because he is afraid of Israel’s great influence and control over this Congress and his fear that it will cost him reelection in 2012? Well, if that’s the case and he fails to act decisively at this most critical time, then he will be personally responsible if the Middle East is set ablaze by the reckless, irresponsible actions of Israel.
Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist who writes articles about social, economic and political matters as well as American foreign policy. He is a U.S. Army veteran. His major goal is to convince Americans that our perpetual wars must end before they bankrupt our nation. His articles have appeared on Online Journal, Information Clearing House, Peak Oil, Google News and websites around the world.
Tags: gaza, gaza blockade, gaza flotilla, glenn greenwald, hamas, hillary clinton, humanitarian aid, idf, irish government, israel, israel commandos, israeli government, joshua trevino, journalists, mavi marmara, Media, protest, roger hollander
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A co-founder of the right-wing blog RedState (and former Bush speechwriter) created a mini-controversy over the weekend when he issued a sociopathic endorsement of Israel’s possible shooting of his fellow unarmed citizens on a flotilla currently sailing to Gaza; that flotilla is trying to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gazans and protest the ongoing Israeli blockade:
When asked by Israeli-American journalist Joseph Dana — who is covering the flotilla for The Nation — whether that sentiment applies to the shooting of journalists on board the ships, this was the reply:
Condemnation of this outburst was pervasive but also easy: cheering for a foreign army to shoot unarmed protesters — one’s fellow citizens — is self-evidently warped; that this came from a right-wing war-cheerleader-from-a-safe-distance with endless pretenses to uber-patriotism just added a layer of irony (Dear Foreign Nation: go ahead and shoot and kill Americans).
But over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also gave her views on the flotilla, and while her rhetoric was somewhat more restrained than that quoted above, she also seemed to endorse possible violence by this foreign nation against her own country’s peacefully protesting citizens:
Well, we do not believe that the flotilla is a necessary or useful effort to try to assist the people of Gaza. Just this week, the Israeli Government approved a significant commitment to housing in Gaza. There will be construction materials entering Gaza and we think that it’s not helpful for there to be flotillas that try to provoke actions by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves.
Though Clinton’s language was draped with the subtleties of diplomatese, there is little doubt that she, too, is justifying a potential attack by a foreign government on unarmed American protesters (ironically, Clinton’s remarks came at the same Press Conference where she impugned the patriotism of others — namely, critics of the Libya War — by branding them as “on Gadaffi’s side”).
The perception that Clinton endorsed possible Israeli violence against Americans is bolstered by the conduct of the U.S. Government in the wake of Israel’s attack on the prior Gaza flotilla, when Israel killed 9 people, including the unarmed 19-year-old American citizen (and Turkish citizen) Furkan Dogan. While most governments instinctively condemn the killing of their own unarmed citizens by foreign armies — Turkey was furious at Israel for months and world leaders in virtual consensus harshly condemned the Israeli aggression — the Obama administration almost immediately took Israel’s side, culminating with Joe Biden’s disgusting rhetorical question, posed before the American teenager was even buried: “what’s the big deal here”?
Worse, the Clinton State Department is now explicitly threatening Americans who participate in the flotilla with criminal prosecution (h/t Jason Ditz):
The United States on Friday warned activists against plans to send a new aid flotilla to challenge Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, saying it would be irresponsible and dangerous. . . . “We underscore that delivering or attempting or conspiring to deliver material support or other resources to or for the benefit of a designated foreign terrorist organization, such as Hamas, could violate U.S. civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration,” [State Department Spokesperson Victoria] Nuland said.
In contrast to the Israel-must-always-be-defended mindset of U.S. political officials, compare how other governments view the possible shooting of their citizens by a foreign country:
As the second “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” gets ready to sail this week, Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore urged Israel to avoid any repeat of last year’s actions against the convoy, Irish media reported Sunday.
“Israel must exercise all possible restraint and avoid any use of military force if attempting to uphold their naval blockade,” Gilmore, who also holds the post of trade minister, said after meeting with Israeli Ambassador to Dublin Boaz Moda.
“In particular, I would expect that any interception of ships is conducted in a peaceful manner and does not endanger the safety of our citizens or other participants,” he added, reiterating the country’s position that the Gaza blockade was “unjust and counterproductive’” and that the violence that marked last year’s flotilla venture was “completely unacceptable and unjustified.”
That type of uncontroversial statement — you shouldn’t shoot our unarmed citizens — is inconceivable when it comes to the U.S. and Israel. So devoted is the U.S. Government to defending the actions of Israel’s that it will even preemptively justify violent attacks on its own citizens, threaten Americans protesting Israel’s policies with prosecution for aiding Terrorism, and isolate itself from the world to defend them.
Meanwhile, like the U.S., Israel is issuing its own menacing threats. Yesterday, Israel announced that any journalists who are on the flotilla merely to cover it will be subject to a 10-year-ban from the country and the confiscation of their equipment. As noted this morning by the New York Times — one of whose reporters intends (or at least intended) to be on the flotilla — this is but the latest Israeli attack on press freedoms as a means of suppressing reports and examination of their conduct:
Two and a half years ago, when Israel invaded Gaza to stop Hamas from shooting rockets at Israeli communities — about 8,000 had been fired — the Israeli military barred reporters from entering Gaza to report on the war.
There was no public outcry, but the Foreign Press Association took the case to the Israeli Supreme Court, which ruled that the army had acted improperly. It ordered the army to admit a small groups of reporters. Commanders kept saying that it was unsafe, and it was not until the last day of the war that the foreign journalists were allowed to enter.
Israel did the same thing in the wake of the last flotilla attack, confiscating all video and other evidence from passengers and detaining on-board journalists, all to prevent the world from learning what it really did, ensuring that the heavily edited propaganda video the IDF produced and released to the world could not be critically examined. It’s strange that a country which incessantly claims that it acted properly is so fixated on suppressing journalistic freedoms and reports about what it did. And one thing is certain: if Israel does make good on its threats to violently attack protesting passengers and/or punish journalists for covering the event, the U.S. — even as it lectures the world on the evils of identical behavior — will have nothing but praise to offer.
UPDATE: Israel now appears to be backing away from its threat to impose a 10-year ban on journalists, instead announcing it will “find a formula” to determine the proper sanction (h/t sysprog). What’s most remarkable about all of this is that this flotilla (like the last one) has no intention of entering Israeli waters, nor is it delivering anything other than basic humanitarian supplies. It is, manifestly, a theatrical, non-threatening form of peaceful protest against the blockade. Yet Israeli and U.S. officials continue to bloviate about “self-defense,” “entering into Israeli waters,” and criminally aiding Hamas; all of that is nothing more than a by-product of the notion that they own the world, and anyone who fails to honor that claim is either a Terrorist-sympathizer or even a Terrorist.
Tags: abby zimet, academic freedom, cuny, idf, israel, israel history, jeffrey weisenfeld, jewish history, jewish voice, john jay college, jvp, Middle East, Palestine, Palestinians, roger hollander, tony kushner
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The uproar continues over the “unconscionably stupid” move by the trustees of City University of New York to deny an honorary degree to longtime activist, progressive, mensch and Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner for his cogent criticisms of Israel. The Shalom Center blasted the “excommunicating” of Kushner and his angels as “Middle East McCarthyism” and Jewish peace groups launched a petition to be delivered to CUNY today, Israel’s Day of Independence. There’s a Facebook page and daily updates. Most powerfully, Kushner speaks in an open letter about “my outrage, my grief, my terror, my moments of despair” in light of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians
The Jewish Week, May 9, 2011
Tony Kushner Responds to CUNY Board Decision
To Chairperson Benno Schmidt and the Board of Trustees:
At the May 2 public meeting of the CUNY Board of Trustees, which was broadcast on CUNY television and radio, Trustee Jeffrey S. Weisenfeld delivered a grotesque caricature of my political beliefs regarding the state of Israel, concocted out of three carefully cropped, contextless quotes taken from interviews I’ve given, the mention of my name on the blog of someone with whom I have no connection whatsoever, and the fact that I serve on the advisory board of a political organization with which Mr. Weisenfeld strongly disagrees. As far as I’m able to conclude from the podcast of this meeting, Mr. Weisenfeld spoke for about four minutes, the first half of which was a devoted to a recounting of the politics of former President of Ireland and UN Human Rights High Commissioner Mary Robinson that was as false as his description of mine.
Ms. Robinson, however, was not on public trial; I was, apparently, and at the conclusion of Mr. Weisenfeld’s vicious attack on me, eight members voted to approve all the honorary degree candidates, including me, and four voted to oppose the slate if my name remained on it. Lacking the requisite nine votes to approve the entire slate, the Board, in what sounds on the podcast like a scramble to dispense with the whole business, tabled my nomination, approved the other candidates, and adjourned. Not a word was spoken in my defense.
I wasn’t told in advance that my willingness to accept an honorary doctorate from John Jay would require my presence at a meeting to defend myself. As far as I know, no one who might have spoken on my behalf was notified in advance. I’m not a difficult person to find, nor am I lacking in articulate colleagues and friends who would have responded. For all his posturing as a street-tough scrapper for causes he believes in, Mr. Weisenfeld, like most bullies, prefers an unfair fight.
But far more dismaying than Mr. Weisenfeld’s diatribe is the silence of the other eleven board members. Did any of you feel that your responsibilities as trustees of an august institution of higher learning included even briefly discussing the appropriateness of Mr. Weisenfeld’s using a public board meeting as a platform for deriding the political opinions of someone with whom he disagrees? Did none of you feel any responsibility towards me, whose name was before you, and hence available as a target for Mr. Weisenfeld’s slander, entirely because I’d been nominated for an honor by the faculty and administration of one of your colleges?
I can’t adequately describe my dismay at the fact that none of you felt stirred enough by ordinary fairness to demand of one of your members that, if he was going to mount a vicious attack, he ought to adhere to standards higher than those of internet gossip. Mr. Weisenfeld declared to you that, rather than turn to “pro-Israel” websites, he’d gleaned his insights into my politics from the website of Norman Finkelstein. I find it appalling that he failed to consider a third option: familiarizing himself with any of the work I’ve done, my plays, screenplays, essays and speeches, for which, I assume, the faculty and administration of John Jay nominated me for an honor.
It would have taken very little effort to learn that my politics regarding the state of Israel do not resemble Mr. Weisenfeld’s account. I don’t intend to mount a full defense of myself or my opinions in this letter, an effort on my part which an honorary degree ought not to require. But I can’t allow myself to be publicly defamed without responding:
* My questions and reservations regarding the founding of the state of Israel are connected to my conviction, drawn from my reading of American history, that democratic government must be free of ethnic or religious affiliation, and that the solution to the problems of oppressed minorities are to be found in pluralist democracy and in legal instruments like the 14th Amendment; these solutions are, like all solutions, imperfect, but they seem to me more rational, and have had a far better record of success in terms of minorities being protected from majoritarian tyranny, than have national or tribal solutions. I am very proud of being Jewish, and discussing this issue publicly has been hard; but I believe in the absolute good of public debate, and I feel that silence on the part of Jews who have questions is injurious to the life of the Jewish people. My opinion about the wisdom of the creation of a Jewish state has never been expressed in any form without a strong statement of support for Israel’s right to exist, and my ardent wish that it continue to do so, something Mr. Weisenfeld conveniently left out of his remarks.
* I believe that the historical record shows, incontrovertibly, that the forced removal of Palestinians from their homes as part of the creation of the state of Israel was ethnic cleansing, a conclusion I reached mainly by reading the work of Benny Morris, an acclaimed and conservative Israeli historian whose political opinions are much more in accord with Mr. Weisenfeld’s than with mine; Mr. Morris differs from Mr. Weisenfeld in bringing to his examination of history a scholar’s rigor, integrity, seriousness of purpose and commitment to telling the truth.
* I won’t enter into arguments about Israeli policy towards the Palestinian people since 1948, about the security fence or the conduct of the IDF, except to say that my feelings and opinions – my outrage, my grief, my terror, my moments of despair – regarding the ongoing horror in the middle east, the brunt of which has been born by the Palestinian people, but which has also cost Israelis dearly and which endangers their existence, are shared by many Jews, in Israel, in the US and around the world.
* My despair is kept in check by my ongoing belief in and commitment to a negotiated conclusion to the Palestinian-Israeli crisis.
* I have never supported a boycott of the state of Israel. I don’t believe it will accomplish anything positive in terms of resolving the crisis. I believe that the call for a boycott is predicated on an equation of this crisis with other situations, contemporary and historical, that is fundamentally false, the consequence of a failure of political understanding of a full and compassionate engagement with Jewish history and Jewish existence.
* I am on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace, and have remained there even though I disagree with the organization about a number of issues, including the boycott. I remain affiliated because the women and men of JVP are courageous, committed people who work very hard serving the interests of peace and justice and the Jewish people, and I’m honored by my association with them. I have a capacity Mr. Weisenfeld lacks, namely the ability to tolerate and even value disagreement. Furthermore, resigning from the advisory board of JVP, or any organization, to escape the noisy censure of likes of Mr. Weisenfeld is repellent to me.
* Mr. Weisenfeld attempts to cast me as a marginal extremist, a familiar tactic on this particular issue. It’s a matter of public record that this is not the case. I’m co-editor of a volume of essays on the crisis in the middle east, which includes among its 58 contributing authors many rabbis, two US Poet Laureates and two recipients of the Jerusalem Prize. I’ve had a long and happy affiliation with such organizations as the 92nd Street Y, The Jewish Museum and the Upper West Side JCC. My work has been recognized by such groups as The National Foundation for Jewish Culture, The Shofar Center, The Central Synagogue and Brandeis University (one of fifteen honorary degrees I’ve received). I state this not to present credentials, but because I refuse to allow Mr. Weisenfeld or any other self-appointed spokesman/guardian to diminish the depth or meaningfulness of my connection to the Jewish community.
I accepted the kind offer of a degree from John Jay College not because I need another award, but because I was impressed with the students and teachers there – as I have always been impressed with CUNY teachers and students – and I wanted to participate in celebrating their accomplishment. I did not expect to be publicly defamed as a result, and I believe I am owed an apology for the careless way in which my name and reputation were handled at your meeting.
I decided long ago that my job as a playwright is to try to speak and write honestly about what I believe to be true. I am interested in history and politics, and long ago I realized that people uninterested in a meaningful exchange of opinion and ideas would selectively appropriate my words to suit their purposes. It’s been my experience that truth eventually triumphs over soundbites, spin and defamation, and that reason, honest inquiry, and courage, which are more appealing and more persuasive than demagoguery, will carry the day.
Tags: gaza, idf, israel, israeli occupation, J Street, jvp, knesset, Middle East, nakba, nonviolence, Palestine, Palestinians, peace, pro-Israel, roger hollander, west bank
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Jewish Voice for Peace
Any act of violence, especially one against civilians, marks a profound failure of human imagination and causes a deep and abiding trauma for all involved. In mourning the nine lives lost in Gaza and the one life lost in Jerusalem this week, we reject the pattern of condemning the deaths of Israelis while ignoring the deaths of Palestinians. We do not discriminate. One life lost is one life too many–whether Palestinian or Israeli.
Within the context of 44 years of the Israeli occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, in the past two years (January 31, 2009 to January 31, 2011, starting just after Operation Cast Lead), over a thousand Palestinians have been made homeless by home demolitions, hundreds have been unlawfully detained, and over 150 men, women and children have been killed by the IDF and settlers, according to the Israeli human rights group B’tselem.(1) Many acres of Palestinian land have been taken and orchards uprooted by armed settlers. Countless hours have been lost at checkpoints, often fruitlessly, while Palestinians attempted to get medical care, jobs, and access to education. One and a half million Gazans have been living with a limited food supply, lack of electricity and dangerously toxic sewage.
This is occupation: daily, persistent acts of structural violence. All in the service of a government that constantly expands illegal Israeli settlements on land that rightfully belongs to Palestinians.
These acts don’t reach our headlines because they are so habitual, so we learn not to see them. But Palestinians live them and their profound consequences everyday, and we must keep that in mind, even as we ponder the terrible events of the past few weeks:(2)
- A person or persons, (we don’t know who), bombed a bus stop in Jerusalem, injuring 30 and killing 1 Israeli civilian;
- An Israeli bombing killed 3 children and an older man in Gaza;
- A person or persons, (we don’t know who), murdered 5 members of a family, including three children, in Itamar, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank;
The Israeli government suddenly tightened the siege of Gaza and escalated military attacks, killing a total of 11 Palestinians and injuring more than 40 since mid-March;(3)
- Palestinians fired over 50 shells and rockets from Gaza into civilian areas in southern Israel.
These terrible acts of violence remind us that to end the Israeli occupation our best hope is supporting the inspiring nonviolent Palestinian movement for change, in the form of unarmed protests every Friday in places like Bil’in, Ni’lin, Sheikh Jarrah, and the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. This is a movement that respects life, that is part and parcel of the nonviolent democratic people’s movements we have been inspired by throughout the Arab world, that welcomes the solidarity and support of Israeli and international believers in equality and universal human rights.And it is a movement that may well do what no other government to date has done– pressure Israel to be accountable to international law and therefore help create conditions for truly meaningful negotiations.
Because it is so powerful, it is no surprise that the right to engage in nonviolent resistance, a foundational component of any functioning democracy, is under attack in Israel. Human rights activists are being detained or imprisoned. Bills to criminalize the BDS movement, or harass human rights organizations, are working their way through the Knesset.
This is a movement that fundamentally subverts the logic of armies, revenge-fueled “price tags”, and armed struggle.
Just this week:
- The very act of publicly commemorating the Nakba, a crucial nonviolent act of Palestinian remembrance, was essentially criminalized in Israel by the Knesset.(4)The Knesset also passed a law allowing small communities in the Galilee and Negev to discriminate against anyone wanting to reside there who does not fit in with the community’s “socio-cultural” character.(5)
- The Knesset also held hearings to assess whether the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group J Street was sufficiently pro-Israel.(6)
- The IDF announced a new military intelligence-gathering unit solely dedicated to monitoring international left-wing peace and human rights groups that the army sees as a threat to Israel. The department will work closely with government ministries.(7)
- Dozens of Israeli soldiers raided the home of Bassem Tamimi, Head of the nonviolent Nabi Saleh Popular Committee , and beat his wife and daughter while arresting him presumably on charges of “incitement” and “organizing illegal demonstrations.”(8)
As the Israeli government increasingly deploys anti-democratic measures and military repression, we at Jewish Voice for Peace are redoubling our efforts to support the best hope- a nonviolent Palestinian-led resistance movement in which we all work together to nurture life, justice and equality. We invite you to join the movement.
(1) B’tselem: Fatalities after operation “Cast Lead”
(2) The Guardian, March 23: Israeli-Palestinian tensions: a timeline
(3) Alternative Information Center, March 23: Israel’s Military Escalation in Gaza
(4) Jerusalem Post, March 23: Nakba Bill passes Knesset in third reading
(5) +972 Magazine, March 22: Knesset passes segregation bill
(6) New York Times, March 24: U.S. Group Stirs Debate On Being “Pro-Israel”
(7) Ha’aretz, March 21: Military Intelligence monitoring foreign left-wing organizations
and +972 Magazine, March 22: Military Intelligence monitors “de-legitimization”
(8) Popular Struggle, March 24, 2011: Israeli Soldiers arrest Bassem Tamimi, Coordinator of Nabi Saleh Popular Committee
Obama Administration Silent on IDF Murder of 19-Year-Old American September 28, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in Uncategorized.
Tags: Criminal Justice, dave lindorff, doj, furkan dogan, gaza, human rights, idf, israel, israeli attack, israeli defense, mavi marmara, roger hollander, terrorism
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In 1985, when terrorists from the Palestine Liberation Front, in an act of piracy on the high seas in the Mediterranean, took control of the Achille Lauro, an Italian cruise ship, and executed the Jewish American Leon Klinghoffer, shooting him in the forehead and then pushing the wheelchair-bound 69-year-old overboard, the US responded with dramatic action. To rescue the passengers, Italian negotiators had worked out a deal granting safe passage to Tunisia to the pirates, in return for the freeing of the ship and its other passengers. But President Ronald Reagan dispatched a US fighter plane to intercept the plane carrying the PLF pirates to safety, and forced it to land at a US airbase in Italy, where they were turned over to Italian authorities for prosecution.
Compare this to another more recent act of piracy, the violent assault and high-seas boarding of the Turkish cruise ship Mavi Marmara and a flotilla of smaller ships bound from Turkey to Gaza by troops from the Israeli Defense Force, who commandeered the vessels, killing eight Turkish and one young Turkish-American passenger. The US failed to condemn this latter act of piracy, and as for the American who was slain, 19-year old Furkan Dogan, there was not a word of protest.
Worse yet, we now learn only now that in July, two months after the May 31 IDF attack, the Turkish government supplied the Obama Administration with the result of the Turkish Council of Forensic Medicine’s autopsy of young Dogan, which showed clearly that he had been murdered by two shots to the face fired by Israeli commandos at point blank range while he lay, gravely injured, on the deck of the ship.
Dogan’s other wounds, according to the autopsy, included a shot to the back, leg and foot. He was said to have been writhing in a conscious or semi-consciousness state on the deck “for some time” when he was executed.
Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States, says it sent the autopsy report to the US via the US Embassy in Turkey, as soon as it was completed, assuming the US would want to prosecute Israel for his death. Instead, the Obama administration and the US Justice Department sat on the information, saying nothing. A request for information from the Justice Department about the autopsy elicited only a brief “We have no comment for you,” from DOJ spokesman Dean Boyd.
Meanwhile, while Israel has been claiming that its boarding party on the Mavi Marmara only used their guns and killed people after they were attacked by passengers and crew on the ship, the truth appears to be that they came aboard guns blazing, and intent on causing harm. A fact-finding mission of the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says it has concluded that Dogan, for example, was not resisting the boarding, but rather, was filming it, using a small hand-held video camera from his position on the boat’s top deck.
He would not be the only videographer or photographer shot. IDF troops made a concerted effort to stop all photographers and videographers from recording their actions, not only shooting at those who were filming them, but also confiscating or destroying hundreds of cameras, memory cards and other recording equipment.
Turkish medical examiners concluded that five others of the nine killed, in addition to Dogan, were slain execution-style by IDF troops in the assault on the Mavi Marmara.
Although the conclusions of the Human Rights Commissioner’s report and of the Turkish medical examiners has been big news in Turkey for the past week, the US media has maintained a news blackout, even though one of the murdered victims was an American. It’s a sad commentary on the extent to which the US corporate media have become propagandists for the US and Israeli governments.
The UN fact-finding mission, which interviewed 112 witnesses to the attack, 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. Other members 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.
© 2010 ThisCan’tBeHappening.net
Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. He is author of Marketplace Medicine: The Rise of the For-Profit Hospital Chains (BantamBooks, 1992), and his latest book “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006). All his work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net
During War There Are No Civilians September 9, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East, War.
Tags: doron almog, gaza, gaza strip, idf, israel, israel military, israeli military, nora barrows-friedman, Palestinians, rachel corrie, roger hollander, war
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Sitting in on the Rachel Corrie trial alarmingly reveals an open Israeli policy of indiscrimination towards civilians.
by Nora Barrows-Friedman
“During War there are no civilians,” that’s what “Yossi,” an Israeli military (IDF) training unit leader simply stated during a round of questioning on day two of the Rachel Corrie trials, held in Haifa’s District Court earlier this week. “When you write a [protocol] manual, that manual is for war,” he added.
For the human rights activists and friends and family of Rachel Corrie sitting in the courtroom, this open admission of an Israeli policy of indiscrimination towards civilians — Palestinian or foreign — created an audible gasp. Yet, put into context, this policy comes as no surprise. The Israeli military’s track record of insouciance towards the killings of Palestinians, from the 1948 massacre of Deir Yassin in Jerusalem to the 2008-2009 attacks on Gaza that killed upwards of 1400 men, women and children, has illustrated that not only is this an entrenched operational framework but rarely has it been challenged until recently.
Rachel Corrie, the young American peace activist from Olympia, Washington, was crushed to death by a Caterpillar D9-R bulldozer, as she and other members of the nonviolent International Solidarity Movement attempted to protect a Palestinian home from imminent demolition on March 16, 2003 in Rafah, Gaza Strip. Corrie has since become a symbol of Palestinian solidarity as her family continues to fight for justice in her name.
Her parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie, filed a civil lawsuit against the State of Israel for Rachel’s unlawful killing — what they allege was an intentional act — and this round of testimonies called by the State’s defense team follows the Corries’ witness testimonies last March. The Corries’ lawsuit charges the State with recklessness and a failure to take appropriate measures to protect human life, actions that violate both Israeli and international laws.
Witnesses insisted that the bulldozer driver couldn’t see Rachel Corrie from his perch. The State attorneys called three witnesses to the stand on Sunday and Monday to prove that the killing was unintentional and took place in an area designated as a “closed military zone.” Falling under the definition of an Act of War, their argument sought to absolve the soldiers of liability under Israeli law. The Rachel Corrie trials focus on one incident, one moment, one death, one family’s grief. However it’s important to include the context within which the Israeli military operated on that day in March of 2003 in order to properly understand the gravity of the trial and the reverberations seven and a half years later.
Yossi, the military training leader, described the area where Corrie was killed as an “active war zone.” The State’s defense argues the same. Yet what was happening in Rafah that was so important to Corrie that she confronted a 4-meter high armored bulldozer in the first place?
According to statistics from Human Rights Watch, Israel had been expanding its so-called “buffer zone” at the southern Gaza border after the breakout of the second Palestinian intifada in late 2000. “By late 2002,” reports HRW, “after the destruction of several hundred houses in Rafah, the IDF began building an eight meter high metal wall along the border.”
The area that Israel designates as its buffer zone has since enveloped nearly 35% of agricultural land, according to an August 2010 report published by the United Nation’s Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). OCHA says that this policy has affected 113,000 Palestinians inside the Gaza strip over the last ten years as their farms, homes, and villages were intentionally erased from the map.
Rachel Corrie’s nonviolent action — standing in front of the bulldozer in direct confrontation to this project — cost her her life.
The home Rachel Corrie died trying to protect was razed, along with hundreds of others. The Gaza Strip remains a sealed ghetto. And countless Palestinian families have not seen justice waged in their favor after the deaths of their loved ones.
In 2005, an arrest warrant was issued against Major General Doron Almog — a senior soldier in charge of Israel’s Southern Command — by a British court related to the destruction of 59 homes in Rafah in 2002 under his authority. He was warned before boarding a flight to the UK that he could be arrested upon arrival, and canceled his trip.
Related to the Rachel Corrie case, Maj. Almog gave a direct order to the team of internal investigators to cut the investigations short, according to Israeli army documents obtained by Israeli daily Haaretz.
This indicates that the impunity of Israeli soldiers and policy-makers can — and will — be challenged in a court of law. And when the trials continue next month, the Corries will be back in the courtroom in anticipation of a long-sought justice for their daughter.
© 2010 aljazeera.net
Beatings, Abuse, Doctored Evidence Emerge June 8, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East, Media.
Tags: free gaza, gaza, gaza flotilla, idf, israel, israeli commandos, journalism, Media, mel frykberg, roger hollander
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By Mel Frykberg
RAMALLAH, Jun 7, 2010 (IPS) – Although Israel successfully controlled news of its deadly commando raid on the Free Gaza (FG) flotilla during the first crucial 48 hours of media coverage, emerging evidence from witnesses and survivors is challenging the Israeli government’s version of events.
These include claims of medical treatment being withheld; beatings and abuse of passengers who never resisted; the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) doctoring audio and selectively editing videos.
Furthermore, allegations of a possible shoot-to-kill policy, amidst autopsies revealing repeated gun shots to the heads of the victims, are also part of an emerging pattern.
One of the first targets of Israeli commandos raiding the FG flotilla was the international media. Photographers were attacked, and journalists had their video, audio and other communications equipment confiscated. The equipment has still not been returned.
“It was clear that Israel wanted to control the media coverage of the situation from the very beginning,” Huwaida Arraf, FG’s chairwoman, told IPS.
Approximately 60 journalists from around the globe were on board the FG flotilla. They were amongst the last to be released by the Israelis.
Israeli authorities denied other media access to the imprisoned journalists and activists during the entire period they were incarcerated. Reporters were also prevented from speaking to the FG activists when they were deported from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International airport.
The IDF imposed a media blackout on the wounded being interviewed in Israeli hospitals, with soldiers stationed in hospital wards to enforce the ban. Journalists trying to enter Gaza to cover the raid were turned back by the Israeli authorities at the Erez crossing.
Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has denounced Israel’s editing and distribution of footage it confiscated from foreign journalists aboard the FG flotilla.
CPJ refers to claims by the Foreign Press Association (FPA) in Israel that the military “is selectively using footage to bolster its claims that commandos opened fire only after being attacked.”
In another incident, the IDF had to clarify and correct another audio tape it released to the media after questions were raised as to its authenticity.
In the audio one of the ‘activists’ on board the FG allegedly tells the Israelis, amongst other things, to “go back to Auschwitz” in what appears to be a fake accent from the United States’ deep south. The “activist” is also heard telling the Israelis: ‘’We are helping Arabs go against the U.S. Don’t forget 9/11 guys.”
The IDF also claimed that the voice of Arraf was recorded on the ‘Mavi Marmara’, the boat where the activists were shot dead. However, she was on a different boat, the ‘Challenger 1’.
“There were no Americans from the south on the flotilla. Furthermore, the only people to communicate with the Israelis other than myself were the captains,” Arraf told IPS.
“One of them was British, two were Greek, two Turkish and one Algerian and they acted in a very professional manner. I was near the VHF radio during the entire period of communication with the IDF and none of those alleged slurs were made,” added Arraf.
However, despite the IDF’s retraction/correction, discrepancies remain even in the edited IDF audio which was released five days after the original one. The alleged slurs about Auschwitz and 9/11 remain.
Although it was inevitable that contradictory evidence would emerge following the arrival of hundreds of the released activists in Istanbul, Athens and other European capitals, the first dramatic events are no longer the main headlines of the major media outlets and network corporations.
And this was probably what the Israelis relied on as they went on the diplomatic offensive.
Nevertheless, the raid and its ramifications are not going away. Post-mortems carried out by the Turks reveal that a number of the dead had numerous shots to the head in addition to other parts of the body. Thirty shots were used to kill nine people.
The IDF has a “confirm kill” policy where even after a person (who is considered a danger to the life of a soldier or other Israelis) is neutralised by several bullets, a final shot is fired into the head at close range to “confirm the kill”.
Critics have questioned how individuals, who allegedly constituted threats to the life of the commandos, and would therefore be fighting and moving around, remained still long enough to receive so many shots to the head at close range.
Activists further accuse the Israelis of denying the dying and seriously wounded medical attention despite their desperate pleas for help. Other activists were forcibly prevented from going to the aid of the injured.
Survivors, reportedly, have also disputed Israeli claims that their soldiers used live ammunition only after they were attacked by some of the activists who fought back and managed to wound several of the soldiers. They claim the soldiers began shooting before they were attacked as well as after those who fought back had been neutralised.
Further, Israeli claims that the commandos only used violence against activists who attacked them have also been disputed. A number of activists have claimed they were beaten up in jail and at Ben Gurion when they were being deported.
This IPS correspondent was physically threatened and verbally abused by Israeli police when she witnessed, and took pictures of, several frightened and cuffed activists being frog-marched away from the airport’s departure lounge.
Paul Larudee, a 64-year-old activist from the U.S. and a diabetic, had to be hospitalised after he was beaten repeatedly on different occasions by the navy seals. Kenneth O’Keefe, an Irish-American and former marine, was hospitalised in Tel Aviv after he too was beaten by security officials at the airport.
O’Keefe wanted to fight his deportation but was advised by his lawyer to leave the country for his own safety.