Thursday, June 30, 2011

Who's behind the Gaza Flotilla?

According to Greta Berlin, one of the organizers of the flotilla du jour, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on this venture. Its clear this is not a grass roots effort. Who is spearheading this initiative and why?

From the Website Gaza Flotilla 101:
The three main organizing groups are the Turkish IHH, the European Campaign to End the Seige on Gaza (ECESG) and the Free Gaza Movement.

The Turkish IHH, which organized last year’s Gaza flotilla and is involved in organized this year’s, is affiliated with an officially designated terrorist organization, the Union of Good. Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, who has ruled that suicide attacks against Israeli citizens are religiously sanctioned, chairs the Union.

Hamas created the Union, according to the U.S. Treasury Department, which in 2008, stated: “The Union of Good acts as a broker for Hamas by facilitating financial transfers between a web of charitable organizations—including several organizations previously designated… for providing support to Hamas—and Hamas-controlled organizations in the West Bank and Gaza. The primary purpose of this activity is to strengthen Hamas’ political and military position in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Founded in 2007, the ECESG is an umbrella organization that links more than 30 pro- Palestinian and pro-Hamas groups in Europe. These groups organize land and sea convoys that bring equipment and money for Hamas in the Gaza Strip, lead boycotts of Israeli products and call for the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

The Free Gaza Movement is a broad coalition of human rights activists and pro- Palestinian groups that has been trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza since 2008. … Israeli intelligence agencies say it has grown to include dangerous Islamic organizations with terrorist links.

Also from the Gaza flotilla 101 website:

The second flotilla is coordinated by Muhammad Sawalha, a senior UK-based Muslim Brotherhood figure connected to Hamas. Many of the participating organizations can be directly linked with the Union of Good (UoG), a coalition of European charities affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which in 2008 was designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. Treasury for transferring funds to Hamas. The UoG was initiated by Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood on a global scale, shortly after the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000.

… Other main organizers include the anti-Israel International Solidarity Movement (ISM), as well as far-left socialists from Europe and the United States. Many of the flotilla’s main organizers have stated that its prime aim is to create provocations and harm Israel’s image. … the flotilla is far from being a peaceful, humanitarian effort to support the Palestinians in Gaza. It should instead be seen as a major, pro-Hamas effort to delegitimize Israel by a “red-green alliance” of leftists and Islamists.

The participation of Alice Walker and others is simply another case of the naive being led by the malevolent.

Gaza Flotilla 2011 Update: Jordanians buy $800,000 boat for Gaza flotilla

In an effort to boost participation in the flailing flotila, Arab contributors have bought a 560,000-euro ($805,000) boat in Greece that can take up to 200 passengers on their blockade busting Mediterranean cruise.

From the Egyptian gazette:

Wael Saqqa, former head of the Jordan engineers' union, told AFP, "The boat has been registered under the name of Nur company, established for the purpose of purchasing the boat," said Saqqa, adding 35 Jordanian activists would join the flotilla.

The vessel was expected to set sail for Gaza on Thursday, along with other ships."

Gaza Flotilla 2011: For more information

For more information about the 2011 Gaza "Ship of Fools" flotilla, visit our friends at Proisrael: everything you need to know about the Flotilla
Find them on facebook as well

And check out their image library

Another great site for Flotilla Information is Gaza Flotilla 101

The haters are already planning demonstrations and protest rallys: Lets hope the supporters of peace, freedom, democracy and Israel are planning equal and opposite responses:


Los Angeles:
On the day following an attack (or boarding) of any ship in the Freedom Flotilla 2- Stay Human, we invite all people of conscience to gather outside the Israeli Consulate at 6380 Wilshire Blvd # 1700
Los Angeles, CA 90048-5071 at 5:00 pm UNLESS the news comes in before 7am PST and then we will gather that evening at 5pm.
Called in LA by BDS LA for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace and CODEPINK LA

San Francisco:
On the day following an attack (or boarding) of any ship in the Freedom Flotilla 2- Stay Human, we invite all people of conscience to gather outside the Israeli Consulate at 456 Montgomery St.,. San Francisco, Ca 94104 at 5:00 pm.
We also ask that Palestine solidarity groups and peace and justice groups spread this message across their membership through listservs, phone calls, and other forms of social media.

San Jose:
On the day following an attack (or boarding) of any ship in the flotilla we invite all people of conscience to gather outside the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library (San Jose Public Library) in San Jose at 150 East San Fernando Street, San Jose, CA 95112 at 5:00 pm. We also ask that Palestine solidarity groups, and peace and justice groups spread this message across their membership through listservs, phone calls, and other forms of social media. It is of the utmost importance that this event has a large attendance; international pressure–especially from the United States–is a critical factor in preventing Israel from acting with impunity towards humanitarian activists. We all need to be prepared to act on shortnotice.


“Freedom Flotilla II – Stay Human: Chicago Emergency Response Network”
On the day following an attack (or boarding) of any ship in the flotilla we invite all people of conscience to gather outside the Israeli Consulate at 111 East Wacker Drive, Chicago at 5:00 pm. We also ask that peace and justice groups spread this message across their membership through listservs, phone calls, and other forms of social media. It is of the utmost importance that this event has a large attendance; international pressure—especially from the United States—is a critical factor in preventing Israel from acting with impunity towards humanitarian activists. We all need to be prepared to act on short notice.


Fort Wayne:
On the day of any attack (or boarding) of any boat in the flotilla to Gaza, we invite all people of conscience to gather outside the City county court house green in Fort Wayne at 700 N. Clinton Street. We also ask that Palestine solidarity groups, Peace and Justice groups spread the message. It is of the utmost importance that we get a presence so that media will cover it. We need to be prepared to act on short notice. Meet ups are taking place at Firefly coffee house as we speak to get the word out. If you want information on times for meet ups at coffee shop contact the person below.
ON THE DAY OF EMERGENCY..Meet in front of court house with signs/or use ours. Be ready to move on short notice. Meet within the hour after report of boarding or attack. Our government will need pressure to stop them from harming these precious, peaceful people.

New York:

Albany (Capital District):

Come to a demonstration to protest any violent attack on the flotilla – watch your e-mail for an announcement that our plan has been activated:
– When: From 5-6 PM on the day immediately following the report of an Israeli attack on any of the flotilla’s boats (before midnight our time).
– Where: The corner of Wolf Rd. and Central Ave.
Please bring a large print sign and if possible, your organization’s banner.
Sponsored by: Women Against War, the Palestinian Rights Committee, the Saratoga Peace Alliance, the Muslim Solidarity Committee, Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace, Project SALAM, Upper Hudson Peace Action, Vets for Peace, Guilderland Neighbors for Peace and Chatham Neighbors for Peace

New York City:

If there is an emergency with the U.S. Boat to Gaza and/or the Freedom Flotilla, we call on people of conscience to gather at 47th Street in Times Square. Depending on the time we hear about the emergency, we have developed the following schedule for everyone to turn out:
– At 5:00 pm if word goes out before 12 noon.
– At 5:00 pm the next day if word goes out after 12 noon.
– At 1:00 pm on Saturday if word goes out after noon on Friday or in the morning of Saturday.
– At 1:00 pm on Sunday if word goes out after noon on Saturday or in the morning of Sunday.
From Times Square, we will march to the Israeli Consulate at 42nd Street and Second Avenue. Depending on particular events, we may make stops at consulates or UN missions of other countries involved in the flotilla,as well as the offices of our congressional representatives and theU.S. State Department.


On the day following an attack (or boarding) of any ship in the Gaza II flotilla we invite all people of conscience to gather outside of the Athens County Courthouse at 6 p.m. Again the day after such an attack or boarding. We also ask that Palestine solidarity groups, and peace and justice groups spread this message across their membership through listservs, phone calls, and other forms of social media. It is of the utmost importance that this event has a large attendance; international pressure–especially from the United States–is a critical factor in preventing Israel from acting with impunity towards humanitarian activists. We all need to be prepared to act on short notice.


Meet at 7th & Hamilton Streets in Allentown, PA the day of an attack or boarding if it occurs prior to 5PM and if anything occurs in the night, meet the following day at 5PM. Click here for more info.


On the day following an attack, boarding, or prevention of any ship in the flotilla from reaching Gaza, we invite all people of conscience to gather at Dealey Plaza (Houston & Main) at 5:00 pm for a peaceful, nonviolent demonstration to protest the illegal blockade. Should the flotilla arrive safely in Gaza, we will also gather (same time, same place) to celebrate their success. Please spread this message via Facebook, listservs, phone calls, and other forms of social media. Public awareness and action are key in pressuring Israel to treat humanitarian activists justly.

On the day following an attack or boarding of any ship in the flotilla, we invite the people of Spokane to gather at the corner of 3rd and Monroe at 5:30 p.m. for a peaceful, nonviolent demonstration to protest Israel’s attack on this unarmed humanitarian flotilla attempting to break the illegal blockade of Gaza, Palestine. Please spread this message via Facebook, listservs, phone calls, and other forms of social media. Bring signs. Bring your friends. Bring your support.

If the US boat due to join the flotilla gets out of Greece this week and comes under Israeli attack, please come that day to the US Courthouse at 1717 Pacific Ave. in downtown Tacoma at 5:00 – 6:15 PM for a vigil.

Washington DC:

CODEPINK Action Alert!
What: Ongoing 24-hour vigil until Greece lets the boats sail to Gaza
Who: Supporters of the Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza
Where: The Greek Embassy, 2217 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington D.C. (near the DUPONT CIRCLE metro stop on the red line)
When: Tonight, June 28th at 5pm, 24 hours/day until the boats sail
Bring: Signs, or nothing, we will have props and signs for you to hold!

If Attacked:
If the flotilla experiences an Israeli attack, supporters will gather at the Israeli Embassy (3514 International Drive, NW Washington, D.C. 20008) at 5 pm the next day.

Gaza Flotilla 2011 Update: Dutch reporters Abandon ship

Like rats from a burning building:

Every single Dutch journalist embeded on the flotilla of fools has walked out, claiming they were misled by the activists who refused to cooperate oranswer their questions.

The walkout began earlier this week. Radio Netherlands Worldwide reporter Eric Beauchemin published an article "Gaza Activists Blinded by Faith", claiming "I have worked as a journalist for the past 25 years, and never have I experienced such a closed organisation."

He continued:

"I expressed an interest in joining the mission earlier this year when I heard that the Dutch were going to send their own vessel to Gaza for the first time. There would be over 30 participants, including prominent members of Dutch society. An Italian delegation with 20 people would also take part.

I then attended meeting after meeting in various cities in Holland. I had to be screened because - I was told - there were so many people wanting to travel to Gaza. When the organisers called to say I had passed the screening and been chosen as one of the select group of people who would set sail, I felt obliged to express my joy.

Now, back in the Netherlands, over three months later, I feel deceived. There never was a "select group". There were no prominent Dutch figures interested in joining Freedom Flotilla 2. Instead of 32 people from the Netherlands, the organisation managed to assemble just eight activists and four journalists. Yesterday [Monday], two more journalists decided to jump ship before the boat even left the port of Corfu.

Since day one, journalists, including myself, asked questions about the Dutch organisation and the boat, for example about the funding. Even simple questions about the ship's power supply for me to hook up my satellite transmitter. The answer was consistently: "I'll get back to you about that" or "we don't know". I'm still waiting for answers."

By today, the rest of the Dutch journalists had jumped ship, many upset by the involvement of Hamas operative Amin Abou Rashed in the flotilla.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Gaza Flotilla 2011 Update. The Irish boat to Gaza is Grounded

The Irish boat to Gaza, the 'Saoirse'(Gaelic for freedom) docking in Turkey has been reported sabotaged.  Oh, what a shame.

"The Irish boat has a problem with its propeller, we don't know yet how serious it is, but we believe it may have been sabotaged," said flotilla coordinator Claude Leostic.

And once again, they are blaming Israel.

This is one of a series of setbacks that has plagued the flotlla in recent weeks. On Monday reports emerged  that the propeller on the "Juliano", belonging to Swedish activists, had been cut.  
Fewer than 300 "activists" will be taking part in the running of the Gaza blockade – much less than  the 1,500 that had been widely publicized.

The Irish Boat to Gaza and crew, during happier times

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kiss my BDS! Israeli innovators build new 'Silicon Valley'

Read it all here

With a concentration of start-ups just behind that of Silicon Valley and an impressive pool of engineers, Israel is becoming the new standard for high-tech, with a unique business model.

Internet-related activities contributed 9 billion euros (12.6 billion dollars) to the Israeli economy in 2009, representing 6.5 percent of GDP, according to a report from management consultancy McKinsey.

The sector is worth more than the construction industry (5.4 percent of GDP) and almost as much as health (6.8 percent).

The web economy has also created a total of 120,000 jobs, accounting for 4 percent of the country's workforce, McKinsey says.

From Microsoft to Intel through Google, IBM and Philips, almost all the giants of the Internet and technology have set up important research and development centres in Israel, spawning products and systems used worldwide.

"Israel is the country with the most engineers in its population, and it ranks second behind the United States in the number of companies listed on Nasdaq," said David Kadouch, product manager at Google Israel, which opened its R&D operation in 2007 and currently has 200 employees.

"It's really a second Silicon Valley. Besides the multinationals, all the major American investment funds are present," he said.

"The scientific community is very active, there is plenty of manpower and especially an entrepreneurial culture. There is a huge ecosystem around high tech, and what is fundamental is that here we think global."

Some 500 start-ups are created every year in the country of 7.7 million people, which grew by 4.7 percent last year according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development against an average of 2.8 for its member countries.

The OECD forecast for Israel in 2011 is 5.4 percent.

Israel's higher education institutions, particularly the Technion, the prestigious technological university in the northern city of Haifa, must take a large share of the credit for this creativity.

Oh, yes oh yes oh yes. BDS is on a roll! Check out that momentum. Its unstoppable. And, btw, who are the Pixies anyway?

Code Pink's Vigil in front of the Greek consulate: A trip down memory lane

The airplants of Code pink have several of their own on the flotilla- Medea Benjamin, Ridgely Fuller, Kit Kittredge, Ann Wright, and Paki Weiland. They've invested a lot of time and energy in this prank, and they are anxious for results. As a result, Code pinkos are camping out in front of the Greek embassy in Washington DC, in "Operation Annoy the Greek Government", attempting to annoy the greek government into capitulating to their demands.

This brings back fond memories of our local members of Code pink and their vigil in front of the Egyptian Consulate in San Francisco. They had planned a - sit down for this one- a two hour hunger strike.

It was hardly an effective use of their time.

Then horror of horrors- the Zionists came.
And they brought LUNCH.

Guess what ladies? They're making fun of you!

Delegitimizing the American Flotilla

From the blog "Act for Israel"

"There are many reasons why the “American Flotilla” is not a humanitarian effort, even though many of its participants believe it is.

Primarily this is due in large measure to the fact that participating in the flotilla only serves the whims of Hamas, a terror organization. This is not only immoral, but is potentially illegal under US law.

Other reasons include the fact that there are far more constructive and rapid ways to deliver aid than through a flotilla, and the fact that Israel has the right to – and will – defend its borders.

The blockade of Gaza is legal under international law, and efforts to break it are bound to result in a confrontation with Israel’s defense forces. Resisting Israel’s defense forces will likely result in injury or death to those who physically resist Israel’s enforcement of the blockade.

We have gathered important facts about the organizations behind the Audacity of Hope. Since this information is relevant to US national security interests, it is vital for all American citizens to be informed.

The Audacity of Hope will NOT deliver a single Humanitarian Aid item to Gazans

The “Audacity of Hope” will not carry a single humanitarian aid item on board. The only “Humanitarian aid” items generated by the American flotilla are letters of support to the people of Gaza. Interestingly, these letters were already sent to Gaza. The only purpose for the boat is to create an international confrontation with a strong US ally. Since the Audacity of Hope will not deliver a single humanitarian aid item, it is only logical to examine who is behind the Audacity of Hope, and to understand the organizer’s goals

Organizers of the “Audacity of Hope”

The “Audacity of Hope” is organized and sponsored by USTOGAZA, a coalition of organizations who together joined to break Israel’s counter-terror naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. USTOGAZA states that its mission is to:

“challenge U.S foreign policy and affirm the universal obligation to uphold international law and human rights”

Included in the coalition of organizations that make up the USTOGAZA is the notorious Free Gaza Movement. The Free Gaza Movement is an umbrella organization responsible for coordinating past flotillas as a part of a sustained campaign to break the blockade of Gaza.

Additional partners and the web of terror-ties

The Free Gaza Movement partnered with the IHH, an organization that according to the US Treasury Department is part of a Saudi-based, Hamas-created umbrella group of Muslim charities called Union of Goods. The Union of Goods was created to transfer funds to Hamas through a web of charitable organizations. According to the State Department, some of the funds transferred by the Union of Good have compensated families of suicide bombers. The Union of Goods was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 2008 by the US Treasury Department.

A list of contributions on IHH’s website reveals that IHH gave millions in cash to Hamas officials at the Gaza Health Ministry.

The Free Gaza Movement has had more than incidental interactions with Hamas. The key members of the organizers are well-known for their ties with global Jihad, al-Qaeda and Hamas. During a Free Gaza Movement visit to Gaza in August 2008, the activists met with Hamas leaders, including Prime Minister Haniyeh who presented the Free Gaza Movement activists with medals.

The organizer’s ultimate goal is to weaken the U.S “war on terror”

USTOGAZA is employing the Audacity of Hope as a part of a campaign that aims to change U.S policy in the fight against terrorist organizations. The Gaza blockade is in place to weaken Hamas, a designated Foreign Terror Organization by the United State government. Consequently, the blockade and blockade-breaking attempts are part of a dispute relating to the United States and its fight against terrorist organization. USTOGAZA is clearly trying to defeat measures taken by the United States regarding Hamas, Gaza and the Middle East Peace Process. Successive US administrations have stated that the disruption of the Middle East Peace Process constitutes “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

Read the whole entry here

And remember: There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza

For the most accurate information on the Flotilla, please visit Gaza Flotilla 101

Lawfare: Does the Audacity Of Dopes Violate 18 USC§ 962?

From 18 USC§ 962

§ 962. Arming vessel against friendly nation

Whoever, within the United States, furnishes, fits out, arms, or attempts to furnish, fit out or arm, any vessel, with intent that such vessel shall be employed in the service of any foreign prince, or state, or of any colony, district, or people, to cruise, or commit hostilities against the subjects, citizens, or property of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people with whom the United States is at peace; or
Whoever issues or delivers a commission within the United States for any vessel, to the intent that she may be so employed—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
Every such vessel, her tackle, apparel, and furniture, together with all materials, arms, ammunition, and stores which may have been procured for the building and equipment thereof, shall be forfeited, one half to the use of the informer and the other half to the use of the United States.

Does the Audacity of Dopes and other Flotilla participants violate this clause? Time to look into this, doncha think?

Phony humanitarians seek to instigate violence with Israel: The Floating Gaza Strip Show

From the Washington Times

Anti-Israel activists are launching a fresh high-seas publicity stunt. The ships of Freedom Flotilla II will set sail sometime this week to commemorate the May 2010 Gaza blockade run, which ended in violence. Nine passengers on the Turkish-flagged ship Mavi Marmara were killed resisting a boarding by Israeli naval commandos. Israeli officials don’t expect violence this year, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed his Cabinet that no ships will be permitted to breach the Gaza security perimeter. This type of confrontation is exactly what flotilla organizers want.

The Freedom Flotilla is a public-relations exploit in the guise of a humanitarian relief effort. Conditions in Gaza are far from the crisis activists would have the world believe. There are no refugee flows out of the area, people aren’t starving, and they don’t want for basic medical care. Two luxury hotels reportedly will open soon in Gaza, along with a new multilevel shopping mall. Last week, the United Nations and Israeli officials agreed to a $100 million project to build new homes and schools in the strip.

Socioeconomic data also fail to paint a portrait of misery. Life expectancy in Gaza is 74, seven years above the world average and higher than in Egypt, India or Russia. Infant mortality, a reliable indicator of problem-state status, is less than half the world average. The inflation rate in 2010 was 3.5 percent, compared to an annualized U.S. rate of 3.6 percent in May this year. Unemployment, though high at 25 percent, has dropped in recent months. If Hamas weren’t using Gaza as a launching pad for rockets and mortars against Israel, there wouldn’t be much of a problem.

Among the ships in the 2011 flotilla is an American-flagged vessel, the perhaps ironically named Audacity of Hope. The Obama administration is taking a dim view of this tribute. Last week, the State Department issued a travel advisory for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza that described the Gaza coast as “dangerous and volatile.” It warned that three dozen Americans participating in the flotilla could face arrest, prosecution and deportation. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stated flatly that the United States does “not believe that the flotilla is a necessary or useful effort to try to assist the people of Gaza” and reaffirmed Israelis’ “right to defend themselves.”

The flotilla is facing even rougher seas. A suit has been filed in Manhattan federal court seeking to seize 14 of the vessels because they were outfitted with funds unlawfully raised in the United States by the Free Gaza Movement (FGM), among other groups. Plaintiff Alan Bauer, who was wounded in a Palestinian suicide bombing in Jerusalem in March 2002, is exercising his rights under 18 USC 962, which provides that anyone in America who “furnishes, fits out, [or] arms” a vessel to “to cruise, or commit hostilities” against any state or people “with whom the United States is at peace” shall face fines and imprisonment, and every such vessel “shall be forfeited, one half to the use of the informer [who brought the case] and the other half to the use of the United States.”

Maybe losing their ships will teach these high-seas hippies that supporting terrorism is not a game.

Gaza Flotilla 2011 Upate: Key organizer is alleged Hamas operative

A key flotilla organizer is alleged to be a Hamas operative wanted for financially supporting militant networks in the West Bank and Gaza.

From JustJournalism:

"Mohammed Sawalha, a key organiser of the second flotilla which is set to attempt to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza later this week, is alleged to be a Hamas operative with long-standing connections to the militant organisation. Last year’s flotilla resulted in widespread media coverage and international condemnation when nine individuals aboard the Mavi Marmara were killed by Israeli soldiers. Israel maintained that its soldiers had acted in self-defence after being attacked by activists from the controversial Turkish Islamist charity IHH.

Sawalha’s open involvement in the organisation of the flotilla is noteworthy given the repeated allegations that he has strong ties to Hamas. In 2005, The Sunday Times reported on his appointment at Finsbury Park mosque:

‘Sawalha’s link with Hamas emerged after he was named as a co-conspirator in an American court case involving racketeering and conspiracy. Last week the cleric, who arrived in Britain 15 years ago and has been given indefinite leave to remain, said that he still supported Hamas, notorious for its suicide attacks in Israel.

‘According to US court documents, Sawalha was a leading militant in the early 1990s “in charge of Hamas terrorist operations within the West Bank”. The documents, from the federal court in Chicago, claim he met two of the three “conspirators” accused of laundering millions of dollars to finance Hamas activities, including the purchase of weapons.’

A 2006 BBC Panorama investigation into the activities of Islamic charities in Gaza and the West Bank also repeated these allegations. ‘Faith, Hate and Charity’ included further information on Sawalha’s role in fundraising for Hamas. According to the presenter, John Ware:

‘From London, Sawalha is said to have master minded much of Hamas’ political and military strategy. Wanted by Israel, he fled to London in 1990… In London, Sawalha is alleged to have directed funds, both for Hamas’ armed wing, and for spreading its missionary dawah. Then, in January 1993, an operation Sawalha was involved in went badly wrong. Hamas would be forced to reorganise its funding arrangements. A senior Hamas man from America flew into London for instructions from Sawalha. Sawalha’s visitor was en route to the Palestinian territories. The two men travelled to Sawalha’s home. His visitor’s name was Mohammed Salah. Salah’s mission was to distribute funds. Sawalha told him who to meet in the Palestinian territories…. With Sawalha’s agreement Salah began distributing about a quarter of a million dollars to local Hamas operatives. Some was ear marked for military activities. Some for missionary dawah. More money was in the pipe line from his bank in Chicago. But the Israeli’s had been tracking him. Stopped at a check point as he left Gaza, Salah was arrested.’

Alongside reports of his ties to Hamas, Sawalha is also a signatory of the infamous 2009 Istanbul Declaration, which explicitly calls for all crossings to Gaza to be opened so that Palestinians can gain access to weapons for use against ‘the Zionist enemy’:

‘The obligation of the Islamic Nation to open the crossings — all crossings — in and out of Palestine permanently, in order to allow access to all the needs of the Palestinians — money, clothing, food, medicine, weapons and other essentials, so that they are able to live and perform the jihad in the way of Allah Almighty. The closure of the crossings or the prevention of the entry of weapons through them should be regarded as high treason in the Islamic Nation, and clear support for the Zionist enemy.’"

Monday, June 27, 2011

Free Gaza from Hamas

"There have been thousands of words written about this next flotilla, thousands of people who are joining us as supporters, hundreds of thousands of dollars raised to buy and outfit the boats... "

Greta Berlin, Co-Founder, the Free Gaza movement

If Gaza were starving: if there were truly a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, would the Free Gaza Movement have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a publicity stunt?

Gaza Flotilla 2011 Update: Flotilla participants preparing Chemical Weapons to Use against Israelis

From the JPost:

"IDF sources claimed Monday night that new intelligence information obtained by Israel in recent days shows that participants of the flotilla planning to break Israel’s sea blockade over the Gaza Strip later this week plan to kill IDF soldiers who board their ships.

According to the information obtained by the IDF, some of the participants have prepared a number of sacks with sulfur, which they plan to pour on the soldiers as they board the vessels.
“This is a chemical weapon and if poured on a soldier it can paralyze him,” an IDF source told The Jerusalem Post Monday night. “If the sulfur is then lit on fire, the soldier will light up like a torch.”

The information was obtained from closed meetings held by participants on the ships during which some voiced their intention to “murder Israeli soldiers,” according to the IDF. Also, despite earlier predictions that members of the Turkish organization IHH would not participate in the flotilla, it now appears that some members will sail with the ships alongside additional radical Islamic activists.

The IDF sources also claimed that the military had also succeeded in linking activists involved in the flotilla to Hamas and that charities run by the Palestinian terrorist organization were providing financial and logistical support for the flotilla.

The current assessment in the IDF is that some 8 to 10 ships will set sail for the Gaza Strip later this week. The Navy has begun its final preparations to stop the vessels and the IDF sources said that commandos who board the ships will be prepared for a wide-range of scenarios from no violence at all to extreme and violent resistance from the passengers."

From Haaretz

"...Despite earlier reports, it seems that activists from the Turkish organization IHH, which was involved in the deadly IDF raid on the Mavi Marmara in last year’s Gaza flotilla, will be joining several of the ships sailing for Gaza as part of the flotilla.

Israeli officials claim that two activists participating in the flotilla have connections to Hamas. They named the first one as Amin Abu Rashad, who they claim is one of the head Dutch organizers for the Gaza flotilla and had served in the past as the head of the Hamas’ Charitable Foundation in Holland. The foundation closed down following Dutch authorities’ probe into its involvement in funding terror activities.

The second activist is Mohammed Ahmed Hanon, which Israel claims is a Hamas activist who stands at the head of the ABSPP, which is involved in transferring funds to terrorists. "

We all remember those "peace activists", don't we?

Gaza Flotilla 2011 Update: Meet the Flotidiots: Kit Kittredge Siemion

One of the flotilla activists, dubbed "Flotidiots" by our friend at Elder of Ziyon is Kit Kittredge Siemion, aka Kit Siemion-Kittredge, aka Kit Kittredge

She works with CodePink, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolence, Veterans for Peace, the Palestine Solidarity Committee and most recently has been involved with the failed Port Townsend co-op boycott attempt.

Just curious, Kit- if Gaza is an open air prison, how can a little old 'activist' from Oregon can go in and out at will - after all, you've visited Gaza 5 times in two years?

Gaza Flotilla 2011 Update: The Wheels on the Boat Go round and round

The Wheels on the Boat Go round and round.

No, actually they don’t, Huwaida.

From a Twitter sent out by Huwaida Arraf

RT @huwaidaarraf: #Flotilla Alert!! Greek/Swedish/Norwegian passenger boat found sabotaged - propeller axle cut!

Note to Huwaida.
Axle : central shaft for a rotating wheel
Boats generally don’t have wheels. (Though we know your boat is special)
Could you possibly mean the propeller shaft?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Will the "Audacity of Dopes" be grounded by an administrative complaint?

Rumors abound that the US Boat to Gaza, the "Audacity of Dopes, er, Hope" is temporarily grounded by an administrative complaint claiming that the vessel is not seaworthy. The harbor master where the boat is docked has declared that until the compliant is resolved the boat is not permitted to leave. Currently, lawyers representing the US boat are looking into the origins of the complaint.

Medea Benjamin in her blog described the The Audacity of Hope as a "rusty, old thing" and claimed it has been transformed into a lovely vessel fit for 50 passengers. Were there structural issues? Was a coat of paint merely slapped on? These are truly issues that should be resolved before the boat sets sail.

And in other flotilla news, the French vessels are on the move.

Today the first of the Freedom Flotilla 2 fleet has set sail to the rendezvous point in the Mediterranean where it will meet up with the other blockade runners.
Mazen Kahil of the "European Campaign to End the Siege" announced “The first ship of the Freedom Flotilla 2 which bears the name of “Dignity “, was launched from the port of Corsica, in France. The” Dignity” is on her way to the starting point for the rest of the fleet.” The French ship will join the other boat named “Michael Lewis”, where it is now moored in a port in Greece.

There is a press conference planned for Monday, and the boats are expected to be on their way shortly after.

Pro Israel Bay Bloggers: Your All Flotilla All the time News Source

Six- thats right- six of our Congressional representatives signed onto this letter addressed to Sec. of State Hillary Clinton:

June 24, 2011

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
United States Department of State
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Clinton,

We write to express our concern for the safety of American passengers on the U.S. ship The Audacity of Hope, which will set sail for Gaza in the next few days. We request that you do everything in your power to work with the Israeli government to ensure the safety of the U.S. citizens on board.

A year ago, Israel took military action against the "Gaza flotilla" in international waters, which resulted in the deaths of nine civilians, including one American citizen. In addition, ten Israeli commandos and more than 20 passengers were injured in this tragic incident. In order to avoid another confrontation this year, we urge all parties to practice maximum restraint and avoid violence.

We wholeheartedly support Israel's right, and indeed its duty, to protect its citizens from security threats. The measures it uses to do so, as in the case with any other nation, must conform to international humanitarian and human rights law. We are encouraged that The Audacity of Hope organizers have stated that their cargo "is open to international inspection" and that they "are fully committed to nonviolence and the the tenets of international law".

We look forward to working with you in any way we can and encourage you to ensure the safety of all American citizens on board The Audacity of Hope.

Representative Dennis Kucinich (OH-10)
Representative William Lacy Clay (MO-1)
Representative Sam Farr (CA-17)
Representative Bob Filner (CA-51)
Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC)
Representative Barbara Lee (CA-9)

Clinton has already made her feelings known about thie flotilla

"We think that it's not helpful for there to be flotillas that try to provoke action by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves," she told reporters at a news conference with the visiting foreign minister of the Philippines.

"We have certainly encouraged that American citizens not participate in the flotilla," she said, "and we are urging that all precautions be taken to avoid any kind of confrontation."

Clinton's comments followed an even harsher statement by State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, in which she criticized what she called "irresponsible and provocative actions that risk the safety of their passengers."

The Audacity of Dopes: US Boat to Gaza training in Greece

The US Boat to Gaza "The Audacity of Dopes" has been publishing photos of their indoctrination, er "training" in Greece as they prepare to set out on their Mediterranean cruise. Is someone really planning on bringing an infant on this?
To use a child as a human shield or even to simply exploit an infant in an action like this is unconscionable, yet, strangely familiar.

It is interesting that what the US Boat to Gaza considers "non-violence training" involves hand to hand combat techniques:

Gaza Flotilla 2011 . Preparations are finalized on all sides

In order to protect Israeli civilians from attacks by the terrorist organization Hamas, the IDF maintains a naval blockade on the Gaza Coast. Given previous attempts by the terrorist organization in smuggling weapons via land and sea and the inherent difficulties in conducting inspections at sea, it is critical that Israeli forces inspect all goods and material marked for Gaza prior to their transfer into the Strip

This week in Athens, Greece, the blockade runners conducted trainings on how to thwart Israeli efforts to enforce the blockade. And the Israel Navy conducted an simulation of all possible scenarios for when the Gaza flotilla attempts to run the naval blockage.

The US State Department warned activists planning to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza that they risked criminal prosecution if they carried through with their attempt.

“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 US civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement issues as a flotilla prepares to set out from Europe to Gaza, which Hamas runs.

The American Blockade Runners are well aware of this and as a result are simply carrying a cargo of "letters" to be delivered to Gaza. When they aren't trying to provoke an international incident however, our homegrown jihadis and their allies don't even try and conceal their support for Hamas.

Paul Larudee and friends feted by Hamas leaders in 2009

Scott Kennedy and Hamas Leader Haniyeh 2006

Wallach-bot with "Hand Off Hamas" hat. San Francisco Jihadi showing off Hamas Sweatshirt : collage courtesy of David

The Americans will be sailing on a Greek owned ship that will be flying an American flag to create a special you-tube moment "Look! The Israelis are attacking an Americans on an American vessel"- don't think for a moment that this entire scenario has not already been planned and orchestrated for maximum impact by the blockade runners.

On Wednesday Greek Foreign Ministry released a statement, saying that flotilla will not help the humanitarian situation. “Greek foreign policy is set by the Greek government, which has in mind the advancement of Greek interests,” “In these moments [the citizens] must show the corresponding responsibility or take full responsibility of their actions.”

That would be a "flying pigs" moment. For the Israel haters, jihad means never taking responsibility for their actions. After all, its all Israel's fault.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Hey Jews: A Gaza flotilla Song

Hey Jews we're setting sail
Bound for that big jail that's known as Gaza
"Flotilla" was once a word no one knew
Here comes number two, we're back to Gaza

Hey Jews, don't be afraid
You know your blockade can't last forever
The Egyptians tried too, but let down their guard
Deterrence is hard, surrender's better

And if we hide Iranian bombs, hey Jews come on!
We're all just humanitarian sailors
With ammo belts and bars of steel
Hey Jews, get real!
Code Pink buys the same at Lord and Taylor

Hey Jews, don't lose your cool
The revolution is all around you
From the Golan to Sinai's lines in the sand
We'll cross over land 'till we surround you

No matter what we smuggle in, hey Jews, give in
We're riding the wave of world opinion
'Cause don't you know when we attack and you fight back
It tightens the noose we hold your head in

Hey, Jews, can't you excuse 10,000 rockets on civilians
You've spent all that dough on reinforced rooms
The whole world presumes you want to use them.

Gaza convoy – “Israel cannot and should not let ships through”

Translated from the German:

By Jade-Yasmin Tänzler
16 June 2011

W. Heintschel v. Heinegg

Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg is an international and maritime law expert who teaches at Europa-Universität Viadrina in Frankfurt. He has also served as an adviser to the Turkel Commission that Israel established in the summer of 2010. The commission has been tasked with determining how and why violence erupted on 31 May 2010 between passengers on the Gaza humanitarian convoy and Israeli soldiers.

ZEIT ONLINE: The deployment of Israeli forces in May of last year against a humanitarian convoy headed for Gaza unleashed cries of protest worldwide. Now a second and far larger international convoy is on its way to Gaza – a convoy that aims to break Israeli’s sea blockade of Gaza. Is this blockade even allowable from a legal standpoint?

Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg: Well that depends on how you characterize the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. When jurists come together, they often disagree on this matter. But there’s definitely a consensus on one thing – namely that what you have here is an armed conflict. Which means that the laws governing such conflicts apply; and under these laws, sea blockades are allowed.

ZEIT ONLINE: But doesn’t the conflict also have to involve two or more states?

Heintschel von Heinegg: Right. And the problem is that Palestine is not a state – at least not yet – which is why many feel that the conflict is not an international armed conflict. And if you take that view, then blockade laws don’t apply. But if you take an objective look at the relevant legal analyses, it’s readily apparent that the basic admissibility of the Israeli blockade has never been called into question.

ZEIT ONLINE: You yourself have characterized Israel’s action against the convoy in 2010 as being perfectly legitimate. Why is that?

Heintschel von Heinegg: If a blockade is allowable in this conflict, then it’s also allowable to take measures to set up such a blockade. There’s only one principle that characterizes a blockade: the principle of effectiveness. In other words, the blockade has to prevent ships from entering or leaving the blockade zone. If the blockade fails to do this even once, it is ineffective and thus immediately becomes legally ineffective as well.

ZEIT ONLINE: So this means that when it comes to this blockade, Israel is in a catch-22 situation, right?

Heintschel von Heinegg: Right. The Israelis simply can’t afford to let any ship through, if they want to prevent another ship from passing through the blockade zone a few hours later.

ZEIT ONLINE: The operators of the 2010 humanitarian convoy said right from the outset that the ships were headed for Gaza. Didn’t saying this make them subject to criminal prosecution?

Heintschel von Heinegg: The mere fact that they set sail for Gaza does not constitute a criminal act. But: if you come out and say, in a public forum, that you’re heading to Gaza for the express purpose of breaking the blockade, this is clear evidence of a blockade breaking attempt. And when that happens, the state that has imposed the blockade doesn’t need to wait until the ship in question reaches the 20 nautical mile boundary; instead, it’s got the right to intervene beforehand. Because the state that’s imposing the blockade is not only entitled but also duty bound to maintain its blockade.

ZEIT ONLINE: What do you think the people onboard the current humanitarian convoy are going to be facing?

Heintschel von Heinegg: Any ship that actually breaks the blockade simply has to reckon with the fact that that military force is going to be used against them. Plus the state that’s imposing the blockade is under no obligation to wait until someone actually crosses the blockade line. All that has to happen is for there to be clearly discernible intent – in which case measures can be taken long before the blockade line is crossed.

ZEIT ONLINE: What form could or should such measures take?

Heintschel von Heinegg: Normally such measures unfold without any major problems. The state imposing the blockade stops the vessel, orders it to proceed to a specific port, inspects the ship’s cargo, and then turns the matter over to the courts. But if there’s resistance to the measures taken by the state that’s imposing the blockade, then this state needs to quell this opposition. Which means that any attempt to evade the blockade or the forces enforcing it needs to be met with reasonable force.

“The motivation of the blockade breakers is irrelevant from a legal standpoint.”

ZEIT ONLINE: In your view, was Israel’s reaction to the humanitarian convoy in 2010 a smart move given the humaniarian situation inGaza?

Heintschel von Heinegg: Well this is how it always is when it comes to such legal issues. In such situations, the actors don’t always act logically, or judiciously; nor are such actions necessarily the politically smart thing to do. A state that imposes a blockade is obligated to supply the civilian population in the blockaded zone with the goods they need in order to survive. But the Israelis have always done this. At the time of the humanitarian convoy in 2010, it was the same in that they said: Feel free to sail into the harbor; we guarantee that we’ll hand over your humanitarian cargo. But it was clear from the get-go that certain parties didn’t want that at all, because then they wouldn’t have achieved the same impact on public opinion.

ZEIT ONLINE: What would you advise the Israeli Prime Minister to do if the next humanitarian convoy approaches the boundary of the blockade zone?

Heintschel von Heinegg: If the Prime Minister wants to maintain the blockade, then he’s simply got to enforce it. If he doesn’t enforce it, it’ll be a dead letter; and then he’d have to resort to other measures; and then the legal situation wouldn’t be so simple. Because then he’d have to invoke the right of self -efense, which is often invoked in cases where it’s simply not appropriate to do so. Our [Germany’s] anti-terrorism operations are a prime example of this.

ZEIT ONLINE: Do you think the Israelis are going to react to this second convoy the same way they reacted to the first one?

Heintschel von Heinegg: I think Israel is better prepared this time around. Last time they tried to approach the convoy ships in rubber dinghies and then climb onboard from these dinghies, in order to take control of the ships. And then they used helicopters. I suspect that the Israeli forces were simply unprepared for the resistance they met from some of the passengers on board those ships and were taken completely by surprise.

ZEIT ONLINE: Is the legal situation now more touchy due to the fact that there’s already been a conflict with a convoy?

Heintschel von Heinegg: I think the reverse is the case. I hope that the relevant legal principles won’t be misused again, since the law of armed conflict applies here – not a cockeyed human rights perspective. Also, Israel didn’t act at all capriciously the first time around. It would have been quite difficult for the Israelis to sink those ships without concerning themselves with the fate of the passengers and cargo onboard. Israel only took measures that were prescribed by law – namely preventing the ships from reaching Gaza. This was the most moderate measure available to them.

ZEIT ONLINE: People are suffering in Gaza, even though they have access to the goods they need in order to survive. Isn’t it legitimate for people to want to help the citizens of Gaza?

Heintschel von Heinegg: The motivation of the blockade breakers – regardless of whether they’re acting for virtuous or reprehensible reasons – is completely irrelevant from a legal standpoint. I, of course, have great respect for human rights activists who give of their time to pursue their goals, but you can’t get around the fact that there are certain legal boundaries. Also, I presume that these humanitarian actions are also publicity stunts aimed at mobilizing public opinion. No one would argue the fact that the citizens of Gaza have it really tough, compared to our own standards. But I don’t really see any pressing humanitarian need here.

ZEIT ONLINE: In your view, is there an alternative to these humanitarian convoys?

Heintschel von Heinegg: Sure there is. There are a few humanitarian organizations out there that have impeccable credentials that no one in their right mind would call into question – the most important one being the International Committee of the German Red Cross. If you really want to help the citizens of Gaza, you go to the Red Cross – an organization that the Israelis accept without hesitation.

ZEIT ONLINE: The border crossing between Gaza and Egypt was recently reopened. Do you think this will have a counterproductive effect on the naval blockade?

Heintschel von Heinegg: Israel has traditionally been able to rely on Egypt, and the border between Gaza and Egypt hasn’t been particularly permeable in the past. But this has changed. The strategic importance of the blockade in terms of protecting Israeli securityhas definitely declined. But nonetheless, the reliability of Israel’s maritime measures will not be affected in any way by the change in the status of the Gaza-Egypt border.

On Thu, Jun 23, 2011 at 10:16 PM, Faith Meltzer wrote:

"In the afternoon we went out to see the boat, The Audacity of Hope. It was really thrilling. We heard about how it had been a rusty, old thing and it has been transformed into a lovely vessel fit for 50 passengers. We could see that a lot of sweat and love went into the transformation, trying to make it as comfortable as possible for us. It’s so sad to think that it might well end up in the hands of the Israelis if they intercept and confiscate it. What a shame! We took photos but are not allowed to send them out yet. We want to wait till we’re ready to sail before sending out the photos. We’re also trying to be discreet about where we’re sailing from, but I’m sure the infamous Israeli intelligence knows even before we do!"

"Then we broke into smaller groups according to what we might want to do on the boat—be on the upper or lower deck, try to protect the computers or the engine room, etc. I helped to form a group that wanted to be on the upper deck, linking arms and singing. We were just getting into our different groups, deciding if we wanted to be sitting or standing (some said if the Israelis brought attack dogs it was better to stand), when all of a sudden soldiers started rushing in to attack us. We quickly discovered that they were part of our own group dressed like commandos, but they scared the bejesus out of us. Their faces were covered in black masks and they were wearing the boxing paraphernalia that made then look twice their size. They were swearing and pushing and pointing fake guns at us, telling us to shut the fuck up, pulling us apart and tying our hands behind our backs. It was all so quick and so violent and so scary that we all of a sudden realized just how dangerous this mission was. All our ideas of what we might doing (including the singing!) vanished. We suddenly felt extremely vulnerable and overwhelmed."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Huwaida Arraf "We're Winning! We're Winning! But we're still the victims"

The co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) Huwaida Arraf's most recent press release keeps with the overall theme of the Palestinian "resistance" movement "Even when we lose we win." and its corollary "Even when we win, we're still the victims"

From Huwaida ( my comments follow)

Israel Proves that Flotillas Work

Israel’s announcement of authorization for construction materials for 1,200 homes and 18 schools in Gaza is the latest achievement by the Freedom Flotilla, scheduled to sail next week.

No its not Huwaida. Its part of an ongoing stream of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza that flows virtually non-stop. Material goods to the Gaza Strip have steadily increased - from a daily average of 120 trucks in April 2010 to 237 in March 2011. - for the week ending June 17, 1163 truckloads (29,666 tons) of goods, including 278 truckloads of construction materials, were delivered to the Gaza Strip.
-- 586 tons of cooking gas were delivered via Kerem Shalom crossing.
- 343 Gaza residents (patients and their companions) entered or passed through Israel for medical treatment via Erez Crossing.
A bit earlier, when there was no threat of a "flotilla" the figures were no different
In the week ending Mar 31 2011
- 1183 truckloads (33,939 tons) of goods, including 312 truckloads of construction materials, were delivered to the Gaza Strip.
- 3 truckloads of flowers were exported from the Gaza Strip.
- 1024 tons of cooking gas were delivered via Kerem Shalom crossing.
- 356 Gaza residents (patients and their companions) entered or passed through Israel for medical treatment via Erez Crossing.
In fact, Huwaida, since the ceasefire in January 2009, well over a million tons of humanitarian supplies entered Gaza from Israel - almost a ton of aid for each man, woman and child in Gaza.

In the weeks leading up to the flotilla, Israel has taken a number of steps to try to address the concerns raised in the public eye by the Freedom Flotilla 2 – Stay Human initiative. However organizers say that these steps are symbolic at best, fall far short of Israel’s obligations under international law, are insufficient to meet the needs of Palestinians in Gaza, and are fundamentally designed to maintain the occupation and system of control that Israel exerts over Palestinian lives. Ultimately, these measures fall short of the greatest test – that of freedom for Palestinians.

Freedom to do what, Huwaida? Freedom to import even more lethal weapons from Iran? Freedom to target more Israeli civilians? Freedom to target more school buses? Just a reminder, Huwaida, according to the International monetary Fund, the growth rate in the Gaza Strip in 2010 was 15%.

In addition to the authorization of a limited amount of construction materials, Israel has also recently permitted 19 trucks of medicine to be delivered by Palestinian sources from the West Bank to Gaza. This was in response to an emergency announcement from health authorities in Gaza that crucial medicines had run out due to Israel's illegal blockade. Prior to that, Israel increased the number of aid trucks entering Gaza to between 210 and 220 per day. However, this still falls 35% short of what is required by Gaza Strip residents.

The last week in May, 8 truckloads of Medicine and Medical Equipment entered Gaza from Israel. Israel does not limit the shipment of medicine and medical supplies at all. Have you read the reports that Hamas is stockpiling medicine, and diverting the medicines away from hospitals and towards Hamas-affiliated pharmacies, where hospital patients' families are forced to buy medicine not available in hospitals. Hamas is always willing to sacrifice the health and well being of the Gaza populace if it will ensure a propaganda victory against Israel.

The pattern developing shows that as the sailing date of the Flotilla nears, Israel is increasing efforts to allow humanitarian goods into Gaza, including previously banned reconstruction materials. This proves three important things: (1) the Flotilla is effective in generating changes, even if they are insufficient, on the ground; (2) the ‘normal channels’ for delivering aid exist, but are useless without pressure on Israel to allow them to function; and (3) Israel’s standard excuse for preventing reconstruction material into Gaza is rendered baseless, given the approval to allow 1,200 homes and 18 schools to be constructed.

No, Huwaida. Israel kept the humanitarian aid to Gaza flowing, in spite of nearly 10,000 missiles and rockets launched against her. Israel kept the humanitarian aid flowing, even during Operation Cast lead. In the last year, new malls, resorts and water parks have been built. A brand new mosque was just built near Gaza City.

Even as the Freedom Flotilla welcomes this latest achievement and proof of the necessity and effectiveness of the Flotilla tactic, we also reiterate that our effort is not simply about delivering humanitarian aid. The goal of the Flotilla is not aid; it is freedom for Palestinians in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories. As such, there are no ‘established channels’ for freedom – there is only one - an end to the Israeli occupation.

There is no occupation of Gaza, Huwaida. There is one Jew left in Gaza, and his name is Gilad Shalit. He is being held against his will, in direct violation of the Geneva convention. He has been deprived of his human and civil rights for nearly 5 years.

Hamas ignores Red Cross regarding Gilad Schalit

June 25 marks 5 years in captivity for Gilad Shalit. On Thursday, the International Committee of the Red Cross asked the Hmas Government for proof that Shalit was still alive.

The ICRC said Schalit's family had a right under international humanitarian law to be in contact with their 24-year-old son, held incommunicado since his capture on June 25, 2006, and repeated their long-standing request to visit Schalit in custody.

"Because there has been no sign of life from Mr. Schalit for almost two years, the ICRC is now demanding that Hamas prove that he is alive," the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

Hamas rejected the Red Cross's request

"Hamas has an obligation under international humanitarian law to protect Mr. Schalit's life, to treat him humanely and to let him have contact with his family," ICRC Director General YvesDaccord said.

Can't help but noticing that not a single "peace activist" on the Gaza Flotilla has asked to visit Shalit. Once again, its not "justice" they pursue- its "Just us".


To assure that Gilad is not forgotten, the Shalit family allowed unprecedented access to documentarian Tal Goren who has created the powerful film: “FAMILY IN CAPTIVITY”.

The film is an intimate story that follows the day to day efforts of the Shalit family to cope and bring Gilad home. Through their story, we exit the political realm and see the human angle of an ordeal that is relate-able to everyone, showing how these private and anonymous individuals rise to become national symbols.

On Wednesday, June 29th at 7:30 PM, the Oshman Family JCC will screen the film in their Schultz Cultural Arts Hall in support of Gilad and his family. Help us keep Gilad in our hearts and in the news! The Israeli Cultural Connection, Jewish National Fund, Kol Emeth Israel Action Committee, Jewish Community Relations Council( JCRC), Jewish Study Network and other community organizations are co-sponsoring this event. FREE. The OFJCC’s address is 3921 Fabian Way in Palo Alto. Contact Ronit Jacobs at.650-223-8692

Here's a quick action you can take to make sure the world knows that we have not forgotten about Gilad. Change your Facebook Profile Photo to the Gilad Shalit icon posted above :

1. Click on or cut and paste this link

2. Look under the picture for different options and you should see "download".

3. Click "download".

4. Now click "Profile" to go back to your own facebook profile.

5. If you put your mouse over your profile picture, you'll see "Change Picture" on the top right corner... Click that!

6. Now click on "choose file" and select the recently downloaded picture.


Palestinians pelt Gaza Red Cross office with eggs for daring to make demands of them regarding Gilad Shalit

From Ma'an

Palestinians threw eggs at the international Red Cross office in Gaza on Thursday to protest against a call for Hamas to show signs a captured Israeli soldier was still alive.

Dozens of angry protesters also chanted slogans against the International Committee of the Red Cross and ripped down and destroyed the Red Cross sign over the office.

They were protesting over a call earlier on Thursday by the ICRC, demanding that Gaza rulers show proof that Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, captured five years ago, is still alive.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

US warns Americans about travel to Gaza by sea

The United States updated a travel warning urging Americans not to attempt to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, emphasizing risks, including a possible 10-year travel ban to Israel.

From the JPOST:

The new State Department travel warning for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, said Americans could face arrest, prosecution, and deportation by Israel. "The Government of Israel has announced its intention to seek 10-year travel bans to Israel for anyone participating in an attempt to enter Gaza by sea," the notice said.

Pro-Palestinian groups are planning a flotilla to Gaza, which is controlled by the militant Islamist group Hamas, and are currently meeting in Greece. Israel plans to stop the flotilla from reaching Gaza.

As Free Palestine co-founder Greta Berlin has said, on her Facebook page

"We sail not to deliver supplies".

This has never been about delivering humanitarian aid. The flotilla organizers admit it, yet mass media continues to claim this provocation is "humanitarian" in nature.

The ISM's Paul Larudee practices his " Extreme Nonviolent Non-cooperation"

Paul Larudee of the Northern California International Solidarity Movement (ISM): photo from the Contra Costa times

Paul's "organization" recently sent out a "job description" for "Nonviolent Resistors" for the 2011 Gaza Freedom Flotilla. They stated "Those who are selected as passengers will be subject to the strategic guidelines of the entire Flotilla, as decided by the Steering Committee. However, additional strategies of this group (and other willing participants) may include greater nonviolent resistance after capture, such as refusing deportation until a set of conditions is met, extreme nonviolent noncooperation during captivity, etc. These strategies are subject to discussion and agreement by both the participants and the Flotilla Steering Committee."

Can we assume that this photo of Paul Larudee show the practice of "extreme nonviolent noncooperation" in action?

And another one gone and another one gone. Another one bites the dust. Flotilla Fail

Free Gaza Movement: "This project is more like a military campaign than a typical voyage"

The Free Palestine Movement may be down to zero boats, according to this baffling whine appearing on their website:

June 20, 2011

"Nothing is so sure as uncertainty.

In the last month or so, several attempts by our partners in the International Committee to Break the Siege of Gaza to purchase a ship have failed, and so we are still officially without one. However, the funding is still very much available, and so they are not giving up, and say that they will continue trying until the actual departure date.

Not the projected departure date, mind you. Past experience tells us that the actual date has a tendency to recede. And while we may have no way of knowing how far off it might be, the best counsel seems to be to try to remain flexible. Although we are nonviolent, this project is more like a military campaign than a typical voyage, and needs to always have contingency plans.

When we bought air tickets for our delegation, we failed in this regard, because those tickets commit us to a specific time. However, we did so on the basis of the best information we had at the time, and we believe it was necessary to demonstrate our good faith and serious intentions to our delegation.

We will continue our best efforts to get our delegation on the Flotilla, and will not abandon our effort until it actually sails. However, we will not unnecessarily send them to their embarkation point until there is good reason to do so.

The best thing we can do, therefore, is to try to remain as ready as we can, to make sure that our information and preparations are current, and to keep our options open. If we need to change the air tickets, we will probably wait until the last minute, because that is when we are most likely to have the best information about any revision in the sailing date.

We thank you for your patience, understanding and support."

The FPM Team

I suppose this is what happens when a team of anarchists, communists and aging stoners try and organize anything.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What If Jews Had Followed the Palestinian Path?

Great op ed from Warren Kozak in the Wall Street Journal

"It is doubtful that there has ever been a more miserable human refuse than Jewish survivors after World War II. Starving, emaciated, stateless—they were not welcomed back by countries where they had lived for generations as assimilated and educated citizens. Germany was no place to return to and in Kielce, Poland, 40 Jews who survived the Holocaust were killed in a pogrom one year after the war ended. The European Jew, circa 1945, quickly went from victim to international refugee disaster.

Yet within a very brief time, this epic calamity disappeared, so much so that few people today even remember the period. How did this happen in an era when Palestinian refugees have continued to be stateless for generations?

In 1945, there were hundreds of thousands of Jewish survivors living in DP Camps (displaced persons) across Europe. They were fed and clothed by Jewish and international relief organizations. Had the world's Jewish population played this situation as the Arabs and Palestinians have, everything would look very different today.

To begin with, the Jews would all still be living in these DP camps, only now the camps would have become squalid ghettos throughout Europe. The refugees would continue to be fed and clothed by a committee similar to UNRWA—the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (paid for mostly by the United States since 1948). Blessed with one of the world's highest birth rates, they would now number in the many millions. And 66 years later, new generations, fed on a mixture of hate and lies against the Europeans, would now seethe with anger."

He continues:
"Sometime in the early 1960s, the Jewish leadership of these refugee camps, having been trained in Moscow to wreak havoc on the West (as Yasser Arafat was) would have started to employ terrorism to shake down governments. Airplane hijackings in the 1970s would have been followed by passenger killings. There would have been attacks on high-profile targets as well—say, the German or Polish Olympic teams.

By the 1990s, the real mayhem would have begun. Raised on victimhood and used as cannon fodder by corrupt leaders, a generation of younger Jews would be blowing up buses, restaurants and themselves. The billions of dollars extorted from various governments would not have gone to the inhabitants of the camps. The money would be in the Swiss bank accounts of the refugees' famous and flamboyant leaders and their lackies.

So now it's the present, generations past the end of World War II, and the festering Jewish refugee problem throughout Europe has absolutely no end in sight. The worst part of this story would be the wasted lives of millions of human beings in the camps—inventions not invented, illnesses not cured, high-tech startups not started up, symphonies and books not written—a real cultural and spiritual desert.

None of this happened, of course. Instead, the Jewish refugees returned to their ancestral homeland. They left everything they had in Europe and turned their backs on the Continent—no "right of return" requested. They were welcomed by the 650,000 Jewish residents of Israel.

An additional 700,000 Jewish refugees flooded into the new state from Arab lands after they were summarily kicked out. Again losing everything after generations in one place; again welcomed in their new home.

In Israel, they did it all the hard way. They built a new country from scratch with roads, housing and schools. They created agricultural collectives to feed their people. They created a successful economy without domestic oil, and they built one of the world's most vibrant democracies in a region sadly devoid of free thought.

Yes, the Israelis did all this with the financial assistance of Jews around the world and others who helped get them on their feet so they could take care of themselves. These outsiders did not ignore them, or demean them, or use them as pawns in their own political schemes—as the Arab nations have done with the Palestinians.

I imagine the argument will be made that while the Jews may have achieved all this, they did not have their land stolen from them. This is, of course, a canard, another convenient lie. They did lose property all over Europe and the Mideast. And there was never an independent Palestine run by Palestinian Arabs. Ever. Jews and Arabs lived in this area controlled first by the Turks and then by the British. The U.N. offered the two-state solution that we hear so much about in 1947. The problem then, and now, is that it was accepted by only one party, Israel. No doubt, the situation of Arab residents of the Middle East back then may have been difficult, but it is incomprehensible that their lot was worse than that of the Jews at the end of World War II.

We don't hear about any of this because giving human beings hope and purpose doesn't make great copy. Squalor, victimhood and terror are always more exciting. Perhaps in the end, the greatest crime of the Jews was that they quietly created something from nothing. And in the process, they transformed themselves.

Golda Meir is credited with having said that if the Jews had not fought back against the Arab armies and had been destroyed in 1948, they would have received the most beautiful eulogies throughout the world. Instead, they chose to stand their ground and defend themselves. And in winning, they received the world's condemnation. Meir said she would take the condemnation over the eulogies."

How Palestinians became the baby seals of the Western human rights lobby

From Brendan O'Neill of "The Telegraph"

"This new interview with American author Alice Walker gives a brilliant insight into what motivates trendy pro-Palestinian sentiment in the West today. Notice how effortlessly she flits between talking about Palestinians in Gaza and chickens in factory farms. In one breath she talks about the “cruel and inhuman” treatment meted out to Palestinians, who are “frazzled and suffering everyday”. And in the next she talks about chickens that are “raised under horrible, torturous conditions”, and the fact that people who tuck into chicken dinners don’t realise that they are eating “something precious, beautiful, rare”.

Palestinians and chickens – these seem to be the two big moral concerns haunting Ms Walker’s head. She sees their predicament as comparable: just as Palestinians are caged in Gaza, so chickens are caged in factory farms. And just as we “must help those suffering in Gaza”, so we must “change the way chickens are thought about and raised”. Ms Walker is certainly doing her bit. Next week she will be on the latest Gaza-bound flotilla, named “The Audacity of Hope”, which will deliver letters from concerned American citizens to Palestinians, which is of course just what Palestinians need. And she spends the rest of her time meditating with animals, in particular chickens, as a way of rediscovering “the peace we once shared with the other animals on the planet”.

She might sound barking, but actually Ms Walker’s lumping together of Palestinians and chickens reveals much about the cocktail of pity and paternalism that drives influential Westerners’ pro-Palestinian lobbying today. They increasingly see Palestinians, not as a group of people capable of exercising the same democratic and political rights as the rest of us, but as wide-eyed and pathetic victims who must be saved from Evil Israel by the better-minded, better-educated activists of the West. Palestinians have been turned into the playthings of Western do-gooders, loveable victims deserving of pity and sad, tear-stained letters from Alice Walker and friends. In short, they’ve been reduced to the level of chickens: sad little creatures whom caring Westerners can coo over and stroke and maybe take home and put in the garden for their friends to marvel over. This is not solidarity – it is a public display of pity, designed primarily to advertise the superior moral sensitivities of anti-Israel Westerners than to do anything practical to assist Palestinians.

You know, if I were a Palestinian in Gaza, I wouldn’t only throw stones across the border at Israeli troops. I’d also hurl them at “The Audacity of Hope” flotilla when it turns up next week, with its cargo of insulting letters from achingly right-on Americans who have moved on from crying over baby seals to crying over poor Palestinians."


O'Neill's article underscores something many activists have noticed- that a form of soft racism- the racism of diminished expectations- characterizes many people's view of the Palestinians- that the Palestinians alone amongst the world's people do not have the ability, or the obligation to even try- to control their own passions.

US man seeks to seize flotilla ships using anti-piracy law

Dr. Alan (Avraham) Bauer, an American- Israeli victim of a Palestinian terrorist attack, on Thursday filed a first of its kind lawsuit in an effort to seize ships to be used by Islamic and anti-Israel organizations to try to breach the blockade of Gaza later this month. Dr. Bauer and his son, Yehonathon were seriously injured in a March 2002suicide bombing on King George St, in Jerusalem.

From the J post:
"The suit, Bauer v. The Mavi Marmara, was filed in Manhattan federal court, seeking to confiscate 14 ships, which are scheduled to participate in the upcoming flotilla and which were outfitted with funds Bauer says were unlawfully raised in the United States by anti-Israel groups, including The Free Gaza Movement.

The plaintiff, a biologist from the Chicago area, and his son Jonathan, then aged seven, were seriously wounded when Palestinian suicide bomber detonated a bomb, packed with metal spikes and nails, in the center of a crowd of shoppers on King George Street in Jerusalem on March 21, 2002.

Three people were killed and 85 other people were also wounded.

Bauer alleges that The Free Gaza Movement and other American-based anti-Israel organizations have raised funds in the United States to outfit the Gaza flotilla ships. The lawsuit contends that furnishing and outfitting the ships, which are being used for hostilities against a US ally, violates American law.

The plaintiff rests his claim upon the rarely used 18th-century “informant” statute (18 USC Section 962) that allows a plaintiff (called an “informer”) to privately seize ships outfitted in the United States for use against a US ally.

The stature states: “Whoever, within the United States, furnishes, fits out, arms, or attempts to furnish, fit out or arm, any vessel, with intent that such vessel shall be employed in the service of any foreign prince, or state, or of any colony, district, or people, to cruise, or commit hostilities against the subjects, citizens, or property of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people with whom the United States is at peace; or Whoever issues or delivers a commission within the United State for any vessel, to the intent that she may be so employed – Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

“Every such vessel, her tackle, apparel, and furniture, together with all materials, arms, ammunition, and stores which may have been procured for the building and equipment thereof, shall be forfeited, one half to the use of the informer and the other half to the use of the United States.”

The plaintiff is represented by attorneys Robert J. Tolchin of New York, and by Nitsana Darshan- Leitner of Israel, founder of Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center.

This is the first lawsuit brought to seize the Gaza Flotilla ships.

“We intend to seize the Gaza flotilla ships and turn them over to a victim of Palestinian terrorism.

The extremists organizing these hostile provocations against Israel must not be allowed to illegally raise funds for their operations in the US.

Escalating attacks on Israel from all directions require new and innovative responses. This unprecedented private action will help block their efforts to breach the coastal blockade and smuggle materials to Hamas in Gaza,” Darshan-Leitner said.

Tolchin added, “This lawsuit will bring judgment to people who have until now ignored the law. Each flotilla ship is an attack on Israel and thus a slap in the face to the United States and every other nation that is at peace with Israel. The flotilla organizers, and the owners of these boats, should be held accountable for the damages and deaths they cause.”

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Our Queer Family In Palestine

No, this is not a follow-up to 'Our Mutual Friend', written by some edgy experimental heir to Charles Dickens. It's a phrase taken from a flyer distributed by Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (yes, that's really their name), at a demonstration in front of the Castro Theater on Friday.

Why was QUIT protesting at the Castro Theater? I'll let them try to explain that themselves:

 In case you cannot read it, the cute little pink umbrella says "Israeli pinkwashing does not make me wet!". 'Pinkwashing', a term shamelessly stolen from breast cancer activists, is the new hip term in the BDS movement, for 'mentioning that Israel has a sterling human rights record on LGBT issues'. This is so true that they can't stand it, and must create little derogatory terms suggesting that allowing same-sex partners adoption rights, sending transgendered Israelis to represent the country at major music festivals, and acknowledging same-sex marriage from out of the country are all things Israelis have done simply to change the subject, and try to cover up their unspeakable evil.

Hey, we're not here to ruin anyone's good time, the flyer continues. We just want the same freedom to go out and have fun for all queers. But our queer family in Palestine doesn't have it. Many of them live under military occupation, and all of them live under a rigid system of discrimination and segregation very similar to apartheid South Africa.

This is the passage that makes me consider this otherwise fairly innocuous flyer perhaps the most chutzpahdik piece of writing that I've ever seen in a world full of terrible lies about Israel. Even coming from QUIT, this is a remarkable piece of chicanery. The deception comes in two layers. First is the expected one, which involves  throwing out words like 'military occupation', 'segregation' and 'apartheid', mischaracterizing and spinning the situation of Palestinians living under their own governments in disputed territories.

Second, however, is an almost breathtaking lie of omission. Apparently, you see, the reason our 'queer family in Palestine' is not getting to go out and have a fun day at the Palestinian Gay and Lesbian Film Festival*, is because of the Israelis.

Not because sex between men is a criminal act in Gaza. Not because there is no legislation either by the PA or Hamas to protect gay and lesbian Palestinians. Not because government-sanctioned and enacted violence against LGBT Palestinians is common in both the West Bank and Gaza. Not because gay Palestinians are routinely accused of being collaborators with Israel, a charge that carries the death penalty. Not because gay Palestinians have been pressured into becoming suicide bombers to expiate their shame. Not because in order to live as an out gay man and survive, many young men have made their way illegally into Israel, the luckier ones finding support and shelter within the gay community there.

No, it's not because of this nightmare of socially sanctioned hate and violence against queers of all stripes that 'our queer family in Palestine' isn't having a lovely time marching in the Ramallah Pride Parade*. It's because of Israel.

QUIT's website and print propaganda contains no mention whatsoever of any sort of oppression of LGBT Palestinians by anyone except the ever-convenient Israelis.

They clearly believe that mention the LGBT Palestinians dead at the hand of the PA police, murdered by their own families, or living on the street in Tel Aviv, trying to stay alive and find a place to belong, would be too morally complex and inconvenient to their narrative.

They are betraying those they pretend to claim as family.

*The Palestinian Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and the Ramallah Pride Parade do not exist, except in the blogger's overactive imagination. May they someday exist, in a region filled with peace.