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Tuesday, June 01, 2010


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Crap Mariner

After the Turks realized it was past their bedtime and started to hang up their flags to drop off, Second Life Left Unity started to show up and begin their flag-waving circus.

The protestors who are harassing Jews based on their feelings about Israel's political/defense policies are engaging in behavior that is a violation of the Second Life Terms of Service and Community Standards:

- Tolerance
- Harassment
- Disturbing The Peace

When banned from the parcel, several fire up alternative accounts to go back to those locations to continue the harassment. This is also strictly prohibited under the Community Standards.

If you're looking for a parallel situation, this is the equivalent of people protesting a Hindu temple in Chicago for the policies of the country of India or burning down a Sunni mosque because of the human rights violations policies of Iran.

For those interested in some solid argument on the subject of anti-Semitism (or as I call it, "Jew-hate") under the cover of anti-Zionism and rebuttals to longtime Israel citics-haters Carter/Mearsheimer/Walt/Chomsky/Finkelstein, please read Alan Dershowitz's books.

And if you're looking for video evidence of the flotilla's weapons and ill-intentions, please read http://idfspokesperson.com/ (Newest news is that the medicine was all expired and useless, the so-called medical equipment was broken before shipping. The "relief supplies" were decoys, folks.)


Viggo Recreant

I was right with you Crap, until you became a spokesman for the Israeli military and repeating their propaganda.

Labeling every criticism of Israel's actions "jew-hate" and trying to justify despicable massacre is just disgusting.

Nine Warrhol

I don't know when trying to send aid to people who need it, and being attacked for it became anti-Semitism.

The world is waking up to Israel's actions. It's about time. No more free pass. Criticizing a country for its human rights violations is not anti-Semitism.

Shava Suntzu/Shava Nerad

It was pleasant, in the article, to see Crap separate support of Israel from support of Jewish religious/cultural institutions. My grandfather didn't buy into Zionism 100 years ago -- he said, "Next year in Jerusalem refers to a state of mind, a state of the spirit, not a state of Israel."

It is not only anti-semites who muddle the distinction between being Jewish and being pro-Israel. Zionists have been trying to erase this distinction for over 60 years, and stifling and punishing dissent in the Jewish community, up to and including labelling non-Zionists as "self-hating Jews." So long as Zionists insist that supporting Israel is a requirement for being a "good Jew," outsiders will make the same mistakes -- just as radical Islam, screaming at comparable volume, dominates the world's image of Islam.

Beth is one of the sweetest, most peaceful artists I know -- it's a pity that a few haters in her community should draw this kind if negative attention to her loving work bringing a Jewish community together in world.

Crap Mariner

"Labeling every criticism of Israel's actions "jew-hate" and trying to justify despicable massacre is just disgusting."

Let's review the facts:

- Only one boat had violence or casualties: the Mavi Marmara
- The IHH, a Turkish group that has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel, was in control of that boat
- IIH and Hamas representatives said that the passengers would offer themselves up as martyrs and resist, but only the Mavi Marmara used violence when boarded
- There were weapons stockpiled on that boat
- The IDF boarding party came on board that boat one-by-one with only paintguns for riot dispersal tactics, expecting to violence
- The first shots fired were by the IHH Turks, who had grabbed IDF handguns and fired
- The clips in the guns were empty when recovered, meaning the Turkish IHH fired all the rounds with intent to kill
- They did not toss weapons overboard, so it wasn't an intent to disarm the IDF. The Turkish IHH were intending to kill
- The medical supplies? All expired medicines. Decoy material.

This was not a humanitarian mission. The IHH was conducting a terrorist mission and were using their Free Gaza partners as humans shields/cover for their mission.

Sorry, Viggo/Nine. You just don't hold water, and way to go Godwin so early.



Nine Warrhol

Not invoking Godwin, sorry. You can close your eyes to it and candy coat it and justify it all you want.

Why? Because the truth hurts maybe. Wake up dude.

Crap Mariner


Also, you skip over the basic fact that harassing Jews in an apolitical social space that has nothing to do with Israel for the actions of the government of Israel is harassment, intolerance, and anti-Semitism.

The Synagogue and TMA in Nessus are Jewish in nature, not Israeli.

You are attempting to gloss over and, ultimately, justify harassment of Jews in that social space, and that's just vile.


Molly Montale

This is getting lost in the debate... "Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev said: "We made repeated offers that they should bring the boats to the port of Ashdod and from there we guaranteed that all humanitarian cargo would be transferred to the people of Gaza." As previous shipments have done during the three year blockade.

Viggo Recreant


All the "facts" about stockpiles you mention are right from the Israeli propaganda machine. They made sure nobody else had a chance to look at anything. You repeating them here blindly just shows that you are but an extension of that propaganda machine.

The fact that nobody can dispute:
* Israeli military raided civilian ships in international waters
* A ship in international waters is sovereignty of the country under which flag it sails. In effect Israel committed act of aggression on sovereign Turkish territory and no wonder it got them especially upset.

Trying to put the blame on the murder victims is what is most upsetting and despicable in all of this. Might work on brainwashed masses in Israel proper (doesn't seem to work too well there either, as they were big demonstrations against the massacre in Tel Aviv), and on the people who swallow their propaganda raw without any 3rd party verification, but this time I'm afraid it's not going to work.

Nine Warrhol

I don't see where I justified anything of the sort.
You are grasping for straws. Stop. Really.

I think you mentioned Israel first, did you not with your last paragraph? You opened the can of worms, not I.

I do not condone the harassment of anyone. Don't even go there. What is vile is you trying to make this something it isn't.

Viggo Recreant

Nine, yes, it was Crap who became the mouthpiece of the IDF, posting links to idfspokesperson.com. When he gets called on it, he equates the criticism of the Israeli military crimes with "justification of harassment of Jews". And yet, he's the only one that is making that connection in this thread. Just shows to what length he's willing go when his attempts at blaming the victims don't get swallowed raw.

Hamlet Au

Keep it civil, please. Here's NWN's comment guidelines:


Hint: Nazi comparisons are not civil. In fact, since there's abundant places to discuss Israel/Palestine elsewhere on the web, I'd prefer keeping this discussion on the SL ramifications: Will important real world political speech (such as this issue, and there are many more) inevitably violate Second Life's Community Standards?

Simon LeHandy

One note, crap: "Expired" medication isn't an indication of anything. Medicine's "expire" well before they lose any significant efficacy, in general. That donated supplies would be expired is not at all surprising. One frequently finds hospitals and health care providers donating expired meds. Indeed, there area number of orgs dedicated to collecting and distributing expired medication.

Nine Warrhol

Understood Hamlet. my apologies to Crap and you as well.

David Cartier

If the nation of Israel maintained a site in Second Life, then protests at that sites might be appropriate. But to protest at churches and temples is wrong. In this case, where the owners of the site are not all or even mostly residents or citizens of Israel, but rather US and Canadian citizens it is racism and a violation of their civil rights which Linden Lab should not tolerate. Moslem groups and individuals continually attack the Egyptian Coptic group in Second Life as well, and they have had to establish elaborate security measures to prevent continual Moslem griefing.

Delinda Dyrssen

I think its pretty simple. Keep the political protests out of non-political locations in Second Life or First Life for that matter.

Ari Blackthorne™

@Nine Warrhol who said "I don't know when trying to send aid to people who need it, and being attacked for it became anti-Semitism."

When there is actual video of the "peace protestors" so-called "leader" proclaiming just before the shite hit the fan that they either will make it into Gaza or become martyrs for trying (I paraphrase).

Since when the feck does a "peaceful" anything go in with a plan to become a martyr and actually getting their way be "icing on the cake"?

Frankly, in the case, it seems clear to me the so-called peaceful intruders were the agitators here. As for the "protest" in-world: griefers and nothing more. The hypocrisy all around is stifling.

/me shrugs, chuckles and walks off to get more popcorn.

Loraan Fierrens

I have this vivid image in my head:

Scene: Wagner walking along the road looks up and see a wasps' nest.

Wagner: Hmmm... a wasps' nest. I wonder what happens if I poke it with this stick.

Wasps: !!!

(exeunt omnes)


I will just answer to give my advice following the line Hamlet indicate "Will important real world political speech (such as this issue, and there are many more) inevitably violate Second Life's Community Standards?"

Important real world issue will have consequences in SL. We have seen in it with the Front National (french right wing nationalist acivists) in Second Life.

For the question of the community standards, they depend both for interpretation AND application of the Linden, who have shown us more than once that they have no real policy (or mean to apply it) so no one knows how they will choose to apply it, what they "gonna do", if they do anything.

The real problem is, we live in a world were they USA are so powerful that they can cover the oppression of the palestinian by Israël, up to the point to have the United Nations ignore an act of piracy commited by Israël. With such an injustice, lot of people, having no mean of obtaining justice, just seek means to protest, or worse, to right the injustice by themself.

So injustice lead to more injustice... and I don't see how SL could escape that (especially with Linden Lab not having the manpower or will to hunt griefers)

brinda allen

David Cartier has repeated the clearest statement on the question this post asked.

" If the nation of Israel maintained a site in Second Life, then protests at that sites might be appropriate. But to protest at churches and temples is wrong. In this case, where the owners of the site are not all or even mostly residents or citizens of Israel, but rather US and Canadian citizens it is racism and a violation of their civil rights which Linden Lab should not tolerate."


Of all human failings, hatred is the most senseless. It solves no problems and only perpetuates itself.


Definitely Gibbs

Funny how the same person (Crap Mariner) complaining about avatars protesting in the wrong place (a religious place in SL, not an official Israeli embassy in SL), can at the same time justify an intentional manslaughter led by Israel in international waters(definitely the wrong place to start killing people at random). Simply ironic. If there is jew-hate around the world it's because of people like you, Mr Crap.
and if only both jews and palestinians would stop claiming their rights to be a 'nation', we would live in a better world for sure.

Ari Blackthorne™

I never will cease to be amazed at how the most misinformed will be the loudest and most active in any "cause", based on hearsay, agendas and just plain ignorance by throwing trust into what others will say and tell them, rather than doing their own research to learn truth for themselves.

Gullibility of the masses is what steers history, for good or bad.

But it explains a lot of why the world (virtual and real) are the way they are.

/me shrugs.


The Flotilla to Gaza: Fragments and Talking Points

Key Excerpts:

- Since the cease-fire (January 2009) entered Gaza from Israel, 133 million liters which is more than enough fuel to fill the gas tank of every car and truck in Israel!
- Since the ceasefire, entered Gaza from Israel, over a million tonnes of humanitarian supplies.That's nearly one ton of aid per man, woman and child in Gaza.
- Israel transfers food, medicine, clothing and textbooks for all the inhabitants of Gaza, but Hamas demands for their bunkers reinforced concrete.
- Israel transferred 15,000 tons of actual aid to Gaza each week so that a fleet, which calls for loading 10,000 tons of concrete, is clearly in a different agenda.
- International aid groups sending aid to Gaza through the Israeli humanitarian through distribution while those looking for publicity, exploiting the humanitarian agenda to promote their own media maneuvers.
- Humanitarian aid flowing to Gaza every day, except where crossings are attacked with rockets from the Hamas regime.

1. Background on the Flotilla to Gaza:

- A fleet of nine aircraft is scheduled for his departure from European ports to the Gaza Strip, the end of May.
- It is expected that there are three cargo vessels and six vessels, carrying over 600 passengers and crew and about 10,000 tons of building materials and medical supplies.
- The flotilla is the fourth operation organized by the Free Gaza Movement (FGM). While, the first two, they have been allowed to enter Gaza since December 2008 refused permission to land. Offers from Israel to transfer goods through Gaza crossings land used for all other international organizations were ignored by the FGM.
- This time, the FGM joined forces with other organizations, including the Turkish HHI (Insania Yardim Vakfi), the Perdana Global Peace Malaysia and the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza (ECESG).
- This is the first time that FGM is organizing such a large scale operation. The journalists will be among the passengers to help manipulate the media coverage.

2. Legal

- There is a state of armed conflict between Israel and the Hamas regime that took control of the Gaza Strip.
- There are, in fact, a naval blockade on the Gaza coast. That blockade was published, according to the requirements under international law.
- In line with this to all ships, including civilians, forbidden to enter the blocked area. If any ship violate or threaten to violate the blockade, would be subject to an action to enforce the naval blockade, according to the dictates of international law.

3. Transferring aid to Gaza through existing channels

- Israel monitors the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and worked to ensure that they fulfilled all the basic needs of the residents of the Gaza Strip. To that end, Israel keeps land crossings into Gaza, through which they are provided food, fuel and other materials. These operate at transfer points despite numerous Palestinian terrorist attacks on the crossings, which cost lives of Israelis.
- There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, despite Hamas's attempts to portray the situation as such. Huge quantities of supplies and humanitarian aid into the Gaza crossing daily. Each day, dozens of trucks and supplies are transported from Israel to the Gaza Strip.
- The land crossing points remain the most efficient means for the transfer of property. The international reputation as the Red Cross used - regularly, these crossings to deliver supplies and personnel transfer. Israel is very eager to help the organizers of the fleet to use the land crossings in the same way it does for other international organizations.
- Because there is enough open land crossings and Israel invited the organizers to use them, the fleet is clearly useless as provocative. If the organizers were interested in providing humanitarian aid, as opposed to committing to publicity stunts, they could use appropriate channels to ensure delivery.
- The earlier, led by FGM, served to demonstrate the confrontational nature of their activities.The vessels, dispatched by FGM in the past years, including not only insignificant amounts of humanitarian aid (the first trip of FGM, August 23, 2008, 5000 brought balloons as "vital humanitarian supplies" and were accompanied by political figures, activists and journalists, but few professional aid workers).
- Although the organizers are trying to portray the operation as a humanitarian, is, in fact, a political action. The mission statement's main organizer, FGM, makes clear the objectives of the fleet: "We want to raise awareness at the international level on the closure-similar to a prison in the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation (added emphatically). " Apparently, the organization is more concerned about the turmoil in the real help.

4. Background of the Aid in Gaza

Israel Humanitarian Aid maintains despite Hamas attacks

- Continuously international food aid flows amounting to millions of dollars through the Israeli humanitarian apparatus, ensuring that no food shortages in Gaza. Food and supplies are shipped from Israel to Gaza on a daily basis.
- Despite the attacks by Hamas, Israel maintains a continuing humanitarian corridor for the transfer of perishable food into Gaza. This canal is used by internationally recognized organizations including UN and Red Cross.
- Large quantities of essential foods (infant formulas, meat, wheat, dairy and other perishables) are transferred into Gaza daily and weekly.
- In a typical week the IDF coordinated the transfer of hundreds of trucks, which contain about 15,000 tons of supplies: during the week of May 18, 2010, there were 65 fruit and vegetable trucks, 22 trucks of sugar, about 27 trucks beef, chicken and fish, and 40 trucks of dairy products and over 100 trucks of food of animal origin.
- During the first quarter of 2010, some 553 tonnes or 40 truckloads of powdered milk and baby food were shipped to Gaza. One hundred and eight truckloads of rice, 164 truckloads of clothing and footwear, 1115 and 1753 trucks with wheat varied food products including vegetables and cheese are inside. These items were delivered by aid agencies or through the private sector.
- In 2009, more than 738 000 tons of food and supplies into Gaza. The photographs in local newspapers, show the market full of fruit, vegetables, cheeses, spices, bread and meat.
- During the holiday, Israel increased its transfers. During the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, Israel embarked some 11,000 head of cattle within the Strip.
- Fertilizers, which can not be used to make explosives, are shipped within the Gaza regularly, as well as seed potatoes, eggs for reproduction, bees and equipment for the flower industry.


Keeping Medical Aid for All in Need

- Not a single Palestinian is denied medical care in Israel. However, if the regime does not grant permits Hamas, the Israeli government can do nothing to help the patient. Israel will provide all medical treatment cases from Gaza, unless the patient is a known terrorist.
- Israel maintains a corridor for the transfer of medical patients out of Gaza and, almost, a medical team of 200 people, cross intersections, each month.
- Israel helps coordinate the transfer of Jordanian doctors into Gaza.
- Only in 2009, 10 544 patients and their companions left the Gaza Strip for medical treatment in Israel.
- The Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem donates $ 3 million in aid annually for treatment of Palestinians in Israel.
- Since 2005, the Palestinians exploited the care arrangements for more than 20 times to perpetrate attacks.
- In the first quarter of 2010, Israel shipped 152 truckloads of medical supplies and equipment into Gaza.
- A new CAT Scan machine was recently shipped to Gaza.
- In a typical week (May 2010), about 37 truckloads of hygiene products were sent to Gaza.
- In 2009, 21 200 members of the international organizing team entered the Gaza Strip, and about 4883 tons of medical equipment and medicines were brought.

Hope and Confidence-Building for Sustainable Development Help

- While the import of cement and iron was restricted to Gaza because they were used by Hamas to melt missiles and bunker, monitored the import of trucks of cement, iron and supplies of construction (wood and glass) is regularly coordinated with the parties intervening international.
- Less than two weeks ago (May 13), Israel allowed nearly 39 tons of construction materials into Gaza to help rebuild a damaged hospital. The construction material for al-Quds hospital was transferred after the safeguards in place and French insurers ensure that such material is not diverted elsewhere.
- Israel transferred educational facilities provided by UNRWA, which includes notebooks, backpacks, writing implements and books.
- Israel is coordinating the transfer of 200,000 laptops for schoolchildren in Gaza.
- Israel is coordinating the ship 74 containers to turn them into classrooms in Gaza.
- According to United Nations, e1 power supply 120 of the Gaza Megawati comes from the Israeli grid, while the 17 MW from Egypt and the power station of Gaza City produces 30 MW.From January 2010, there was deterioration in the supply of electricity in the Gaza Strip since the Hamas regime has no intention of getting fuel to run the power station in Gaza City.
- Israel facilitates the transfer of fuel across the border, arguing that their diversion from home power generators to other uses is a decision by Hamas. Since the cease-fire last January, entered Gaza from Israel 133 million liters of fuel.
- From the first quarter of 2010, UN coordinated with Israel the transfer of equipment to UNRWA to improve the pumping station for sewage and for a hospital project.
- Each month, Israel transferred NIS 50 million into the Gaza Strip for Palestinian Authority employees, and up to $ 13.5 million for the salaries of UNRWA workers (mostly Palestinians).


Intention of the organizers of the fleet: EXERCISE VIOLENCE

Organizers said the fleet from the start, its intention to exercise violence against Israeli Army forces if they tried to prevent the arrival in Gaza. This intention was expressed in the interviews given by the head of HHI, Bulnet Yildirim, to a Turkish TV channel, last night as the flotilla approached the shore.
Then part of these statements.
The interviews are documented at the site of the fleet of HHI http://tinyurl.com/IHHViolence

1 - Interview with the editor of NTV channel, the night of 05/10/1930

Interviewer: Welcome, we also have a small guest.

Yildirim: (Holding a baby for one year). We entered the most critical hours. In fact, it is a relief and this child will remember, in future travel. The photo of the child surely be of interest to the Israeli public.

Interviewer: What is it that this navigational becomes critical?

Yildirim: The reason is apparent from the aggression by Israel, which inflated the issue unnecessarily. Inspect the area declared as a field of fire and Israeli ships sailing in the wild, bitter at the people and the whole world. This is the first time a state maneuvers without notice states the exact date. I am convinced that Israel would expect many problems to put in activity, their fleet against women, children and adults. Here are representatives of human rights organizations and the whole world will see what is happening.
I really will oppose and will not allow Israelis to enter here.

(First moments of the video)

2 - Interview with the journalist of Channel 1 TRT Turkish officer on the night of 30/05/1910.

Yildirim: The Israelis believe that if they, landed the largest number of troops there will be much less injured among activists. On this boat there are women and children and everyone knows.We will show what is breaking on the boat. If Israel wants to attack this fleet will face strong opposition. And say that we exceeded. What will happen then?
(See the video 96.00 minutes)

Source: Department of Information and Internet


The takeover of the flotilla to Gaza

1. There, between Israel and the Hamas regime that controls Gaza, a state of armed conflict. Hamas launched against the Israeli population, 10,000 rockets and, currently, traffics - by sea and land - weapons and military equipment to Gaza in order to fortify their positions and attacks continue.

2. Under international law, Israel has the right to protect the lives of its citizens from attacks by Hamas and therefore took steps to defend itself, including the imposition of a naval blockade to hinder the rearmament of Hamas. According to the International Maritime Law, when a sea blockade is in force, no ship can enter the locked zone.

3. In line with Israel's obligations under international law, ships participating in the protest were told, again and again that the sea blockade was in force in the Gaza coast giving further exact coordinates of the area.

4. Israel repeatedly, offered to the organizers of the flotilla to dock at the port of Ashdod and transfer, aid to Gaza through existing land crossings, according to established procedures.Flotilla organizers rejected the offer saying, clearly, that "this mission is not humanitarian shipment of equipment, but to break the Israeli siege." (Greta Berlin, AFP, 27 May)

5. While the organizers, claimed to be concerned about the humanitarian conditions of the inhabitants of Gaza did not feel the same about the fate of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and, when asked about it, refused to even make a public appeal to allow it International Red Cross visit.

6. When it became clear that the intention of the protest vessel was violating the blockade, despite repeated warnings, the Israeli navy personnel boarded the ships of the flotilla, deflecting them to Ashdod.

7. Given the large number of participating vessels of the flotilla, had operational need to take action to enforce the blockade at a distance from the site area.

8. The intention of the participants of the fleet to resist the Israeli Navy personnel was, clearly, in numerous television reports (May 30) given by the HHI leader Bulent Yildirim on board Mavi Mara (while holding on arms, one small). The Israeli Navy met with violent opposition. Two weapons were found in the hands of the protesters and about a dozen of its staff were hospitalized, some in critical condition.

9. In Ashdod, the crew of the fleet will be lowered and humanitarian equipment shipped by land to Gaza with standard operating procedures. Participants of the fleet will undergo immigration procedures applicable in case of attempted illegal entry.


The Dutchman Amin Abou Rashed (43), arrested by Israeli commandos aboard the "Liberty Fleet" off the coast of Gaza, according to intelligence is a leader of Hamas terror organization.

Late last night, Israel announced that all six hundred foreign activists arrested within two days will be released. Among them are two Dutch: Rashed and Anne de Jong (29).
The original Palestinian Rashed has a Dutch passport and operates from Rotterdam.

In its fight against Israel lost an arm before the Dutch activist. The Dutchman is designated as one of the organizers behind the "peace fleet" through the official website of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic movement that struggles for dominance.

"Rashed is the leader of Hamas in the Netherlands," said one intelligence source. "He is under an alias, because Amin Abou Ibrahim, in several intelligence reports. He worked for the notorious Dutch Foundation al-Aqsa, who was suspected of fundraising for the terrorist organization Hamas. He is also very active in the Foundation Palestinian Platform for Human Rights and Solidarity (PPMS), "the inlichtingenman."

Hamas has the funding worldwide Islamic "charities". The Dutchman Amin Abou Rashed mentioned in relation to the Holy Land Foundation, a charitable organization notorious in America was rolled to fund Hamas.

http://www.telegraaf.nl/binnenland/6841211/__Hollandse_Hamasleider_was_erbij__.html?p=31, 1


There are places in SL to discuss world event and politics or you can create your own. Disrupting someone else's enjoyment of SL to protest is not acceptable. It's just another form of griefing.

Israel has a long established blockade of Gaza. For the blockade to remain legal it has to be effective which means they can't pick and choose ships to allow through. An it is legal to stop ships in international waters during a blockade.

Mecha Innis

On Sunday, Israeli naval forces intercepted the ships of a Turkish nongovernmental organization (NGO) delivering humanitarian supplies to Gaza. Israel had demanded that the vessels not go directly to Gaza but instead dock in Israeli ports, where the supplies would be offloaded and delivered to Gaza. The Turkish NGO refused, insisting on going directly to Gaza. Gunfire ensued when Israeli naval personnel boarded one of the vessels, and a significant number of the passengers and crew on the ship were killed or wounded.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon charged that the mission was simply an attempt to provoke the Israelis. That was certainly the case. The mission was designed to demonstrate that the Israelis were unreasonable and brutal. The hope was that Israel would be provoked to extreme action, further alienating Israel from the global community and possibly driving a wedge between Israel and the United States. The operation’s planners also hoped this would trigger a political crisis in Israel.

A logical Israeli response would have been avoiding falling into the provocation trap and suffering the political repercussions the Turkish NGO was trying to trigger. Instead, the Israelis decided to make a show of force. The Israelis appear to have reasoned that backing down would demonstrate weakness and encourage further flotillas to Gaza, unraveling the Israeli position vis-à-vis Hamas. In this thinking, a violent interception was a superior strategy to accommodation regardless of political consequences. Thus, the Israelis accepted the bait and were provoked.

The ‘Exodus’ Scenario
In the 1950s, an author named Leon Uris published a book called “Exodus.” Later made into a major motion picture, Exodus told the story of a Zionist provocation against the British. In the wake of World War II, the British — who controlled Palestine, as it was then known — maintained limits on Jewish immigration there. Would-be immigrants captured trying to run the blockade were detained in camps in Cyprus. In the book and movie, Zionists planned a propaganda exercise involving a breakout of Jews — mostly children — from the camp, who would then board a ship renamed the Exodus. When the Royal Navy intercepted the ship, the passengers would mount a hunger strike. The goal was to portray the British as brutes finishing the work of the Nazis. The image of children potentially dying of hunger would force the British to permit the ship to go to Palestine, to reconsider British policy on immigration, and ultimately to decide to abandon Palestine and turn the matter over to the United Nations.

There was in fact a ship called Exodus, but the affair did not play out precisely as portrayed by Uris, who used an amalgam of incidents to display the propaganda war waged by the Jews. Those carrying out this war had two goals. The first was to create sympathy in Britain and throughout the world for Jews who, just a couple of years after German concentration camps, were now being held in British camps. Second, they sought to portray their struggle as being against the British. The British were portrayed as continuing Nazi policies toward the Jews in order to maintain their empire. The Jews were portrayed as anti-imperialists, fighting the British much as the Americans had.

It was a brilliant strategy. By focusing on Jewish victimhood and on the British, the Zionists defined the battle as being against the British, with the Arabs playing the role of people trying to create the second phase of the Holocaust. The British were portrayed as pro-Arab for economic and imperial reasons, indifferent at best to the survivors of the Holocaust. Rather than restraining the Arabs, the British were arming them. The goal was not to vilify the Arabs but to villify the British, and to position the Jews with other nationalist groups whether in India or Egypt rising against the British.

The precise truth or falsehood of this portrayal didn’t particularly matter. For most of the world, the Palestine issue was poorly understood and not a matter of immediate concern. The Zionists intended to shape the perceptions of a global public with limited interest in or understanding of the issues, filling in the blanks with their own narrative. And they succeeded.

The success was rooted in a political reality. Where knowledge is limited, and the desire to learn the complex reality doesn’t exist, public opinion can be shaped by whoever generates the most powerful symbols. And on a matter of only tangential interest, governments tend to follow their publics’ wishes, however they originate. There is little to be gained for governments in resisting public opinion and much to be gained by giving in. By shaping the battlefield of public perception, it is thus possible to get governments to change positions.

In this way, the Zionists’ ability to shape global public perceptions of what was happening in Palestine — to demonize the British and turn the question of Palestine into a Jewish-British issue — shaped the political decisions of a range of governments. It was not the truth or falsehood of the narrative that mattered. What mattered was the ability to identify the victim and victimizer such that global opinion caused both London and governments not directly involved in the issue to adopt political stances advantageous to the Zionists. It is in this context that we need to view the Turkish flotilla.

The Turkish Flotilla to Gaza
The Palestinians have long argued that they are the victims of Israel, an invention of British and American imperialism. Since 1967, they have focused not so much on the existence of the state of Israel (at least in messages geared toward the West) as on the oppression of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Since the split between Hamas and Fatah and the Gaza War, the focus has been on the plight of the citizens of Gaza, who have been portrayed as the dispossessed victims of Israeli violence.

The bid to shape global perceptions by portraying the Palestinians as victims of Israel was the first prong of a longtime two-part campaign. The second part of this campaign involved armed resistance against the Israelis. The way this resistance was carried out, from airplane hijackings to stone-throwing children to suicide bombers, interfered with the first part of the campaign, however. The Israelis could point to suicide bombings or the use of children against soldiers as symbols of Palestinian inhumanity. This in turn was used to justify conditions in Gaza. While the Palestinians had made significant inroads in placing Israel on the defensive in global public opinion, they thus consistently gave the Israelis the opportunity to turn the tables. And this is where the flotilla comes in.

The Turkish flotilla aimed to replicate the Exodus story or, more precisely, to define the global image of Israel in the same way the Zionists defined the image that they wanted to project. As with the Zionist portrayal of the situation in 1947, the Gaza situation is far more complicated than as portrayed by the Palestinians. The moral question is also far more ambiguous. But as in 1947, when the Zionist portrayal was not intended to be a scholarly analysis of the situation but a political weapon designed to define perceptions, the Turkish flotilla was not designed to carry out a moral inquest.

Instead, the flotilla was designed to achieve two ends. The first is to divide Israel and Western governments by shifting public opinion against Israel. The second is to create a political crisis inside Israel between those who feel that Israel’s increasing isolation over the Gaza issue is dangerous versus those who think any weakening of resolve is dangerous.

The Geopolitical Fallout for Israel
It is vital that the Israelis succeed in portraying the flotilla as an extremist plot. Whether extremist or not, the plot has generated an image of Israel quite damaging to Israeli political interests. Israel is increasingly isolated internationally, with heavy pressure on its relationship with Europe and the United States.

In all of these countries, politicians are extremely sensitive to public opinion. It is difficult to imagine circumstances under which public opinion will see Israel as the victim. The general response in the Western public is likely to be that the Israelis probably should have allowed the ships to go to Gaza and offload rather than to precipitate bloodshed. Israel’s enemies will fan these flames by arguing that the Israelis prefer bloodshed to reasonable accommodation. And as Western public opinion shifts against Israel, Western political leaders will track with this shift.

The incident also wrecks Israeli relations with Turkey, historically an Israeli ally in the Muslim world with longstanding military cooperation with Israel. The Turkish government undoubtedly has wanted to move away from this relationship, but it faced resistance within the Turkish military and among secularists. The new Israeli action makes a break with Israel easy, and indeed almost necessary for Ankara.

With roughly the population of Houston, Texas, Israel is just not large enough to withstand extended isolation, meaning this event has profound geopolitical implications.

Public opinion matters where issues are not of fundamental interest to a nation. Israel is not a fundamental interest to other nations. The ability to generate public antipathy to Israel can therefore reshape Israeli relations with countries critical to Israel. For example, a redefinition of U.S.-Israeli relations will have much less effect on the United States than on Israel. The Obama administration, already irritated by the Israelis, might now see a shift in U.S. public opinion that will open the way to a new U.S.-Israeli relationship disadvantageous to Israel.

The Israelis will argue that this is all unfair, as they were provoked. Like the British, they seem to think that the issue is whose logic is correct. But the issue actually is, whose logic will be heard? As with a tank battle or an airstrike, this sort of warfare has nothing to do with fairness. It has to do with controlling public perception and using that public perception to shape foreign policy around the world. In this case, the issue will be whether the deaths were necessary. The Israeli argument of provocation will have limited traction.

Internationally, there is little doubt that the incident will generate a firestorm. Certainly, Turkey will break cooperation with Israel. Opinion in Europe will likely harden. And public opinion in the United States — by far the most important in the equation — might shift to a “plague-on-both-your-houses” position.

While the international reaction is predictable, the interesting question is whether this evolution will cause a political crisis in Israel. Those in Israel who feel that international isolation is preferable to accommodation with the Palestinians are in control now. Many in the opposition see Israel’s isolation as a strategic threat. Economically and militarily, they argue, Israel cannot survive in isolation. The current regime will respond that there will be no isolation. The flotilla aimed to generate what the government has said would not happen.

The tougher Israel is, the more the flotilla’s narrative takes hold. As the Zionists knew in 1947 and the Palestinians are learning, controlling public opinion requires subtlety, a selective narrative and cynicism. As they also knew, losing the battle can be catastrophic. It cost Britain the Mandate and allowed Israel to survive. Israel’s enemies are now turning the tables. This maneuver was far more effective than suicide bombings or the Intifada in challenging Israel’s public perception and therefore its geopolitical position (though if the Palestinians return to some of their more distasteful tactics like suicide bombing, the Turkish strategy of portraying Israel as the instigator of violence will be undermined).

Israel is now in uncharted waters. It does not know how to respond. It is not clear that the Palestinians know how to take full advantage of the situation, either. But even so, this places the battle on a new field, far more fluid and uncontrollable than what went before. The next steps will involve calls for sanctions against Israel. The Israeli threats against Iran will be seen in a different context, and Israeli portrayal of Iran will hold less sway over the world.

And this will cause a political crisis in Israel. If this government survives, then Israel is locked into a course that gives it freedom of action but international isolation. If the government falls, then Israel enters a period of domestic uncertainty. In either case, the flotilla achieved its strategic mission. It got Israel to take violent action against it. In doing so, Israel ran into its own fist.



Israel has attempted to deliver humanitarian aid from an international flotilla to Gaza, but Hamas -- which controls the territory -- has refused to accept the cargo, the Israel Defense Forces said Wednesday.
Palestinian sources confirmed that trucks that arrived from Israel at the Rafah terminal at the Israel-Gaza border were barred from delivering the aid.
Ra'ed Fatooh, in charge of the crossings, and Jamal Khudari, head of a committee against the Gaza blockade, said Israel must release all flotilla detainees and that it will be accepted in the territory only by the Free Gaza Movement people who organized the flotilla.
Israel said it had 20 trucks of aid found on the ships, such as expired medications, clothing, blankets, some medical equipment and toys.
Israel has released all foreign flotilla detainees by Wednesday, but four Israeli Arabs remain in custody.
Nine people died Monday when Israel intercepted an aid vessel bound for Gaza.
Under Israeli policy, humanitarian aid must come through Israel and be checked by Israeli authorities who are looking to intercept smuggled weapons bound for militants aiming to attack Israel.
As part of this policy Israel forbids ships from dropping off goods at Gaza ports and works to thwart smuggling via tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.

Mecha Innis

The nature of the Israeli state

What is unfolding in Israel is the product of deep-rooted contradictions, both political and ideological, within the Zionist state. More than a half century has elapsed since Israel's establishment. Its foundation was rooted in the catastrophe that overtook European Jewry in the 1930s and 1940s, culminating in the extermination of six million European Jews in the Nazi holocaust.

This was itself the horrendous consequence of the defeat of the European working class by fascism. The Stalinist degeneration of the Soviet Union and the Communist International, and the Soviet bureaucracy's betrayal of the struggle for world socialism, were politically responsible for fascism's victory. Moreover, the Kremlin's repressive methods and the anti-Semitic overtones of its policies played a profound role in discrediting the belief in a socialist alternative amongst Jewish intellectuals and workers.

In the 1920s, Jews and Arabs in Palestine, inspired by the Russian Revolution, had come together to form the Palestinian Communist Party (PCP) and advocate a unified struggle for socialism against both the nascent Jewish bourgeoisie and Arab feudalists. Throughout the Second World War, Jewish and Arab workers fought together against their common foreign oppressor, leading to the creation of several joint labour organisations. The PCP could have mounted a successful challenge to the Zionists, but the divisive policies of the Stalinist bureaucracy and its manoeuvring with the imperialist powers prevented its healthy development. The PCP finally broke in two along ethnic lines before the end of the Second World War.

Zionism worked to channel the discouragement and despair produced by the near destruction of European Jewry into its campaign to secure a separate Jewish state, which was accomplished in 1948 through the partition of the British protectorate of Palestine.

The establishment of Israel was viewed with sympathy by millions around the world who were repelled by Nazism's crimes against the Jewish people. It was hailed as a new and progressive entity dedicated to building a democratic and even egalitarian home for the most terribly oppressed people of Europe and the world.

But the Zionist state could never fulfil such promises. Israel was established through a military struggle to wrest control of the land from its Arab inhabitants, beginning with a systematic campaign of terror and intimidation that drove more than three quarters of a million Palestinian Arabs from their homes. The founding principle of the Israeli state was the assertion of the ethnic and religious interests of Jews over those of Arab Muslims. Any criticism of this inherently anti-democratic and repressive standpoint was denounced by Israel's Zionist rulers and their apologists as an expression of anti-Semitism.

In order to justify Israel's creation, Zionist leaders for 40 years denied the very existence of a Palestinian people. Their central slogan was: “A land without people for a people without land.” In official proclamations, the land that became Israel was portrayed as largely uninhabited prior to the arrival of Jewish settlers.

From the very day of its inception, therefore, Israel was at war with its Arab neighbours and was organically incapable of developing a genuinely democratic society. There existed no separation between the state and the Jewish religion, and therefore no concept of citizenship that extended equal rights to all. Israel quickly grew into a garrison state, a vehicle through which the US could exert its interests in the Middle East in return for massive financial subsidies, used primarily to build up Israel's military apparatus.

The 1967 Arab-Israeli war

Inevitably, the contradictions that existed between official propaganda and social and political reality had to emerge. The Arab-Israeli war of 1967 was a turning point in Israel's evolution, and its ramifications are still being felt in the events that are unfolding today. Israel's claim that it was the underdog, forced to defend its borders against more powerful neighbours, was decisively exposed by its occupation of lands belonging to Jordan, Syria and Egypt—the West Bank of the Jordan River, the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip. Jewish settlements were established in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. The official pretext was that the settlements were a temporary defensive barrier, but the right-wing opposition Likud party demanded their incorporation into Israel—a position they maintain to this day. The Zionist state was thus openly recast as an aggressively expansionist entity.

The need to cultivate an extreme right-wing Zionist settler population within the Occupied Territories has had a lasting impact on Israeli society and politics. Together with the ultra-orthodox groups encouraged by the propagation of pseudo-biblical justifications for Israeli expansion, they have become the social and political bedrock for the emergence of semi-fascist tendencies within the political and military establishment.

The settlers constitute a militant and vocal faction whose social interests are intimately bound up with Israeli rule of the captured territories and the perpetuation of the country's military machine. These layers have been reinforced by a wave of immigrants first from the US and later Russia, who were attracted to Israel on the basis of the explicitly anti-socialist and chauvinist perspective which it has projected ever more openly since 1967.

Over the past two decades social and political tensions within Israel have grown due to a widening gap between rich and poor, fuelled by rising unemployment and falling wages. To the extent that the majority of people became alienated from official politics, the state increased its reliance on right-wing settlers and extreme nationalist religious zealots. No party can today form a government without their support. For over a decade they have thwarted every attempt to reach a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians, even though the Israeli bourgeoisie and Washington came to see such an agreement as essential to the continued survival of Israel.

The Palestinian masses never reconciled themselves to their permanent refugee status. The emergence of the Palestine Liberation Organisation after the 1967 war expressed their strivings for a just solution to their predicament and the demand for their own homeland. The Zionists responded by denouncing the PLO as terrorists and agents of foreign powers, and intransigently refused to recognise the existence of a Palestinian people.

Israel's oft-repeated claim that its military actions were dictated by the necessity to defend its borders against hostile Arab powers was irredeemably exposed by its decisive victory against Egypt, Syria and other Arab powers in October 1973. The outcome of that war left Israel the undisputed military power in the region. Ever since, all of Israel's wars have been targeted directly against the Palestinians.

The central plank of Zionist strategy was blown apart by the intifada that erupted in 1987, an embryonic revolutionary movement Israel could not suppress without seeking the aid of the PLO, while promising concessions and ultimately some form of Palestinian homeland.

The revolutionary threat posed by the intifada coincided with global economic changes that rendered inviable any notion of preserving by force of arms an economically and politically isolated Israeli state. The Israeli ruling class had long faced punishing economic and social costs associated with the occupation, both in terms of military expenditures and the pariah status Israel had acquired throughout the Arab world and elsewhere. The impasse over the occupied territories had frozen the growth of Arab-Israeli economic ties, considered essential for the development of Israel's economy in an era when corporations had of necessity to carry out the production of commodities across national boundaries and sell their products on the world market.

In the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US set about establishing a new set of relations with formerly pro-Soviet Arab regimes in order to ensure its own hegemony and preserve stability within the oil-rich region. The initial fruits of this policy were realised in the tacit support of most of the Arab regimes for America's war against Iraq in 1991.

The US left Israel in no doubt that unless they realigned themselves with the post-Cold War realities in the Middle East and reached an accommodation with their neighbours, Washington would not continue indefinitely underwriting their budget. Israel's rulers were thus faced with the necessity of participating in the US-brokered talks to seek a rapprochement with their Arab counterparts, and granting some limited form of recognition of the Palestinians.

Seven years of failure

However, from Oslo in 1993 to Camp David this year no Israeli government has been either prepared or capable of arriving at a genuine democratic settlement of the Palestinian question. To the extent that any concessions, however limited, have been offered to the Palestinians, such proposals have opened up deep political chasms within the Israeli state and society.

Seven years of negotiations have been repeatedly frustrated by the eruption of right-wing opposition within Israel. Every diplomatic effort has stumbled on the need to reconcile the Palestinian masses with the exigencies and demands of the Zionist regime, and force them to acquiesce in the denial of their own basic democratic rights. The depth of opposition to any significant concessions explains why Israel's negotiating position has largely consisted of confronting Arafat with demands that he assume direct responsibility for the repression of the Palestinian people. In the end, these demands have only served to discredit Arafat amongst broad sections of the Palestinian masses.

The politically dominant right-wing sections of the Zionist elite have consistently demonstrated that they regard any concession to the Palestinians to be tantamount to treason. Their first blow to the Oslo Accord came with the assassination of its signatory, Labour Party Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in November 1995 by a religious extremist. In the elections that followed, the Likud Party under Benjamin Netanyahu came to power by whipping up anti-Arab sentiment and fears amongst Israeli Jews. Netanyahu spent the next three years trying to sabotage any final settlement with the PLO.

The landslide election victory of Ehud Barak in May last year gave expression to a growing sentiment for peace amongst ordinary Israelis. But his government, relying as it did on religious parties and desperate to avoid accusations of a sell-out, was crippled from the day it came to power.

No democratic settlement with the Palestinians is possible without making Jerusalem an open city, allowing all Palestinians to return to their ancestral homes and establishing joint Arab-Jewish sovereignty over the entire holy land. Such a proposal is anathema to Israel. The actual proposals made by Barak evaded all of these critical issues. Hamstrung from the start by his fear of unleashing right wing opposition, he could not even risk bringing the Arab-Israeli parties that command the support of 20 percent of the population into his government as this would have lost him the support of his Orthodox coalition partners. Under the whip of Likud, and with US backing, he demanded that Arafat agree to proposals that would have constituted a death warrant for the PLO.

Leading up to the negotiations at Camp David, Israel's reluctance to make any significant concessions to the Palestinians became hostage to a deliberate wrecking operation by the right-wing extremist elements fostered by Israel's entire history, especially the post-1967 period. Under pressure from these layers, Barak's government fell apart through defections from his own party and as well as defections by right-wing coalition partners. Disillusionment grew amongst those Israelis who had hoped Barak would bring peace.

With the US establishment preoccupied with the presidential election campaign, Likud decided that the time was ripe to scupper any chance of a settlement. Likud leader Ariel Sharon made his provocative visit to Temple Mount under heavy armed guard, and the killing of Palestinians by Israeli forces began.

Barak refused to denounce Sharon's provocation and instead foisted the blame for the spiralling violence on Arafat. Both the Barak government and Likud appear to have calculated that rioting would ensue from Sharon's action, which they could then use as a weapon against Arafat. They collectively miscalculated the strength of the anger and opposition that ensued, but Barak's response has been to throw in his lot fully with Likud.

A new perspective

The overnight transformation of Barak's public posture from that of peacemaker to warmonger demonstrates that no section of the Israeli political establishment is capable of putting aside the methods of police repression and military violence that have characterised the Zionist state since its inception. Neither does diplomacy brokered by the Western powers offer a means of ending Zionist atrocities. It is not possible to reconcile the existence of states based on ethnic, racial or religious exclusivism with the existence of genuine democracy. Imperialism's efforts to maintain such a state in Israel while appealing for it to grant limited democratic rights to the Palestinians has proved futile.

The fundamentally reactionary character of the nationalist perspective of Zionism has instead found its most finished expression. After almost a decade of the so-called “peace process”, Israel is closer to all-out war with the Palestinians than at any time in recent history, and could yet spark a conflagration encompassing the entire Middle East. Israeli society itself is threatened with disintegration and a possible civil war. There are growing signs that Israeli Arabs, who make up one fifth of the population, may be drawn into conflict alongside the Palestinians for the first time.

In Israel, the responsibility for opposing a descent into further bloodshed rests with the workers movement, democratic rights activists and socialist intellectuals. All those who are committed to peace with their Arab neighbours must recognise that this cause is incompatible with support for either the Zionist state apparatus or the nationalist ideology that give birth to it. Whatever illusions these layers may have harboured in the past, the Israeli state has proven that it differs in no fundamental respect from the old Apartheid regime in South Africa.

The choice is a stark one: either hand the political initiative fully to Sharon and his ilk and prepare for a military catastrophe and bloody civil war, or seek to unite Jews and Arabs on a democratic, secular and socialist basis—for a United Socialist States of the Middle East in which all of the region's people can live together in harmony.


Justice Ministry statement on High Court of Justice petitions regarding the Gaza flotilla
1 Jun 2010
The State Attorney's Office submitted to the High Court of Justice the State's response to two petitions regarding the Gaza flotilla, concluding that the action was legal.
(Communicated by the Justice Ministry Spokesman)

The State Attorney's Office earlier today (Tuesday), 1 June 2010, submitted, to the High Court of Justice, the State's response to two petitions regarding the Gaza flotilla. The response was submitted by State Attorney Moshe Lador and other senior officials. The main points of the reply are as follows:

1. The Gaza Strip is controlled by the Hamas terrorist organization, which has set as its goal, and has consistently and systematically worked towards its realization, to attack the citizens and residents of the State of Israel - mainly those residing in the cities and communities in the south of the country, in proximity to the Gaza Strip. Deliberate attacks on a country's civilian population are perpetrated mainly via rockets, and the Hamas terrorist organization's ability (as well as that of its parallel organizations), is based mainly on the infiltration of war materiel into the Gaza Strip by any means possible and by any channel at the organization's disposal.

2. One of the main routes by which weapons and ordnance have been infiltrated into the Gaza Strip up to now is tunnels dug under the border with Egypt into the area of the Strip. Against these, as it is known, the State of Israel has done its utmost to thwart their being used to transfer war materiel. In addition, as part of the struggle to block the smuggling of weapons, the State of Israel has imposed a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. The blockade is not intended to harm residents of the Strip. It is designed to prevent direct and free access to the Gaza Strip, not via Israel, in order to thwart, minimize, block and hinder the Gaza Strip from becoming a giant arsenal for the terrorist organizations to use in deliberately targeting Israelis in the framework of murderous terrorist actions that have been perpetrated over the years. Free access to Gaza - were it to be allowed (and were it to become possible in the future) - would obviate any possibility whatsoever of preventing the realization of this unbearable scenario.

3. No state that wishes to survive could agree to put itself before such a reality. No rational state would knowingly close its eyes to such an outstanding strategic threat. Therefore, Israel decided not to remain indifferent to such a crude attempt to violate the naval blockade which was imposed in the framework of the security measures taken following Operation Cast Lead, and acted to interdict the flotilla, the true goal of which was "to break the blockade on the Gaza Strip" and to create a new and accessible route for the delivery of war materiel for terrorist purposes.

4. There is no doubt that if Israel had taken a naïve approach regarding "clearing the sea route" towards the Gaza coast by the aforesaid flotilla, and if it had conceded on its determined enforcement of the naval blockade in this case, merely because the ships flew the "flag of peace", the State would have thereby allowed the creation of a new reality (which would have been impossible to halt), according to which any vessel, whatever its cargo (such as that of the Karine A, for example), would find its way - without oversight - to the coast of the Gaza terrorist authority, as long as it flew the "flag of peace" and on its decks were found the "spokespeople" of a "peace lobby" from somewhere in the world.

5. While the Gaza flotilla was publicly "marketed" as being for humanitarian purposes, the reality indicates a different goal. The organizers of the flotilla scorned Israel's efforts to prevent the vessels from reaching Gaza, via diplomatic dialogue, announcements in advance and declarations over the radio. The organizers of the flotilla similarly rejected Israel's offer to transfer the aid on board directly to Gaza via Israel, thereby attesting that their goal was to "break the blockade."

6. As is known, the violent "welcome" which the "peace activists" gave the IDF soldiers, who had been ordered to prevent the flotilla participants from violating the blockade in order to guard the State of Israel's most vital security interests, created a tangible danger to the soldiers who were compelled to defend themselves and take the necessary action to protect life and limb. The flotilla participants engaged in this severe violence despite their arrogance in calling themselves "peace activists." The lynching that they sought to perpetrate on IDF soldiers, which included - inter alia - attacks with knives, clubs iron bars, Molotov cocktails, the throwing of heavy objects and the throwing of a soldier from one of the decks, compelled the IDF soldiers to defend themselves and take the necessary action to protect life and limb. As a result, regrettably, nine flotilla participants were killed and people were injured, both flotilla participants and soldiers.

7. Thus may be seen the true, violent and provocative, nature of the flotilla, which bears no resemblance whatsoever to "humanitarian aid" to the Gaza Strip. Thus the claimants' veil of hypocrisy is lifted.

8. The IDF is a moral army and IDF soldiers are trained in the purity of arms and scrupulous upholding of human rights. However, the State of Israel and the security establishment will not neglect their duty to maintain the safety of citizens who have been under attack for many years by the terrorist organizations. These act continuously, diligently and deviously to build up vast stocks of war materiel - the hindering of which is sanctioned by international customary law - in order to deliberately shoot at Israeli communities.

The action was, therefore, legal:

The petition is without any factual or legal basis. Factually, the petition is riddled with crude and harsh distortions, baseless accusations and the tendentious defamation of the State, while using inflammatory language that ill befits this honorable Court. The foregoing alone justifies its outright dismissal.

Legally, the petition ignores central provisions of international law that permit the imposition of a naval blockade and the capture of vessels that are in violation, or are about to violate said blockade, and claims - without any basis in law - that these actions were carried out in the absence of authority. The State's actions were carried out according to law, both customary international law and the Entry into Israel Law. As for the petition's being directed at the detention of flotilla passengers who are not required for investigation regarding the events at issue, or for perpetrating severe violent offenses against IDF soldiers, there is full readiness to facilitate their immediate departure from the State of Israel. In any event, regarding the claim on the issue of detention under the Entry into Israel Law, there is an alternative remedy, in the form of judicial review of the orders under the Entry into Israel Law.

mecha innis

Israel’s massacre at sea

The Israeli military’s killing of nine civilians and wounding of scores more on a ship carrying humanitarian supplies in international waters was an act of cold-blooded murder and a war crime.

For millions of people around the world, this military assault on an aid convoy carrying wheelchairs, cement, water purification systems, children’s toys and notebook paper to Gaza—all items barred by Israel’s blockade of the occupied territory—epitomizes the role played by Israel, as well as that of its US sponsor, in global affairs.

As always in the aftermath of such atrocities, the Israeli government has blamed its victims. In a televised speech Wednesday, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu described the aid convoy as a “flotilla of terror supporters” and praised the slaughter on the high seas as an act of self-defense by besieged Israeli commandos.

Those who engaged in self-defense were the passengers on the ship, and they had every right to do so. The fact that nine of them were killed, while the Israel Defense Force (IDF) commandos suffered not a single fatality, is evidence as to who was the aggressor.

This is a regular pattern. The massacre in the Mediterranean comes just a year and a half after Operation Cast Lead, the far greater slaughter that the Israeli regime unleashed against the suffering people of Gaza. Claiming then as now to act in “self defense,” in December 2008 and January 2009 Israel rained bombs, missiles and tank and automatic weapons fire upon Gaza, killing over 1,400 Palestinians, the overwhelming majority of them unarmed men, women and children. This one-sided war by one of the world’s most powerful military machines against a relatively defenseless civilian population claimed just 13 Israeli lives, all but three of them soldiers.

The aid convoy was a response to the barbaric blockade that has subjected an entire population of 1.5 million people in Gaza to hunger, disease and misery.

Since the tightening of the blockade in 2007, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the number of Gazan refugees living in abject poverty has tripled.

The UN reported at the end of 2009 that "insufficient food and medicine is reaching Gazans, producing a further deterioration of the mental and physical health of the entire civilian population since Israel launched Operation Cast Lead against the territory." Among the starkest expressions of Israel’s deliberate starvation of an entire population was a finding by the Food and Agriculture Organization last year that 65 percent of babies between the ages of nine and 12 months suffer from anemia.

Israel is able to carry out this kind of medieval siege as well as piracy and murder not merely because of its own military might, but thanks to the unwavering patronage and funding of Washington. This latest mass killing has only underscored that—as with so much else—the advent of the Obama administration has effected no significant change in US policy.

While issuing a hypocritical expression of “deep regret at the loss of life,” the Obama administration is doing everything it can to assure that Israel bears neither blame nor consequences for these killings. It quashed any criticism of Israel’s action at the UN Security Council and has implicitly adopted the Zionist state’s justification for the massacre.

Israel’s criminality and Washington’s role as its unconditional enabler both have a long history. It is worth recalling another Israeli attack on a vessel in international waters that took place 43 years ago. In that attack, 34 sailors aboard the USS Liberty were killed by Israeli napalm, missiles and machine-gun fire, while another 171 while wounded—the worst casualties suffered by the US Navy in a hostile action since World War II.

An intelligence ship, the Liberty was attacked off the Sinai Peninsula on June 8, 1967 in the midst of the Six-Day War. While Israel called it a tragic “mistake,” ample evidence emerged that the Zionist state attacked the ship because it wanted to stop Washington from listening in to its communications. Intercepts flatly contradicted Tel Aviv’s claim that it was acting in self-defense and revealed that Israel wanted to conceal evidence of its aggressive intentions as it moved to seize Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, all of which remain under illegal occupation to this day.

Much of the criticism of this week’s attack on the aid convoy, including within Israel itself, has treated it as a “botched” operation, an excessive use of force and a public relations fiasco. But this is not a matter of a government losing its head. The Netanyahu regime’s policies are directed to a definite socio-political base, composed of religious extremists, right-wing settlers and the most politically reactionary layers within Israeli society. Its orientation is personified by the fascistic background and ideology of its foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

Deeply reactionary and in deep political crisis, the Israeli government is driven more and more to act as a global pyromaniac, threatening renewed wars against Syria and Lebanon and, according to a report in the London Times this week, sending submarines armed with nuclear missiles to the waters off Iran.

The unconditional support and approximately $3 billion in annual aid to Israel bestowed by Washington—and continued under Obama—pose a mortal danger to people across the globe.

This is not a matter merely of a single outlaw regime, but of a general descent of world affairs into a state of criminality and the disintegration of any semblance of international law, with Israel’s main patron setting the pattern.

The Obama administration continues two wars of aggression initiated under Bush and has maintained intact a police state apparatus of unlawful detentions, rendition and torture. It has now earned the ignominious designation as the number one practitioner of “targeted killings”—assassinations—through CIA drone attacks that have killed “many hundreds of people” in Pakistan, according to a United Nations report released Wednesday. The report condemned Washington for claiming a “license to kill without accountability.”

The behavior of the US and other governments as if they were the state incarnation of Murder Inc., acts of state terrorism and piracy like that committed by Israel this week, and the constant threats of new aggression have created a global climate that bears ever closer resemblance to the conditions that prevailed on the eve the Second World War.

These developments are driven by the mortal crisis of world capitalism and will not be reversed by either protests or pacifism. Only by uniting the working class, including both Jewish and Arab workers in the Middle East, in a common struggle to put an end to the profit system can a new global conflagration be prevented.

Crap Mariner

Thank you to those who have not only acknowledged my main point that it is inappropriate to protest a government's actions by harassing a social/religious site, but also have done it openly in the face of such vehement and irrational criticism.

As for those folks who continue under the delusion that this was a peaceful mission by nonviolent angels of mercy attacked brutally by soldiers with guns blazing:


Or you can be welcome to listen to the Turkish government, which is now ranting that the detainees were all poisoned by Zionist spies. (Check Palestinian Media Watch for the newspaper clippings... classic blood libel going on, eh.)

And that's a wrap.


Mecha Innis

Israel used chemical weapons in Lebanon and Gaza

Israel has admitted using phosphorous bombs during the war against Lebanon last summer, just days after being accused by an Italian television documentary programme of using dense inert metal missiles, which are highly carcinogenic, against the Palestinians in Gaza in July and August.

After previously claiming that phosphorous bombs were only used to mark targets, Israeli cabinet minister, Jacob Edery, has now confirmed that “the Israeli army made use of phosphorous shells during the war against Hezbollah in attacks against military targets in open ground.”

Phosphorus weapons cause chemical burns and the Red Cross and human rights groups argue they should be treated as chemical weapons. The use of chemical weapons against civilians or against military targets in civilian areas is outlawed by the Geneva Conventions. The US has insisted that Saddam Hussein be tried for using chemical weapons against civilians.

The Lebanese government had accused Israel of using banned weapons, including phosphorus incendiary bombs and vacuum bombs during the recent war. Doctors in hospitals in southern Lebanon had said they suspected some of the burns they were seeing were caused by phosphorous bombs.

Israel dropped more than a million cluster bombs on south Lebanon in the last few days before the ceasefire that have resulted in at least three deaths a day, mainly of women and children, and which have rendered the area almost uninhabitable.

Israel’s reversal of its previous claim that its weapons used in Lebanon did not contravene international conventions can only strengthen the claims by Palestinian doctors that Israel has used experimental heavy metal weapons against the people of Gaza.

The Italian state television’s satellite channel, RAI News 24, which last year documented the US military’s use of white phosphorus against civilians during attacks on Fallujah, followed up reports from Gaza of inexplicably serious injuries.

Doctors had appealed for help in identifying the cause of these strange injuries that were small, often invisible to X-rays, and cuts provoked by intense heat in the lower limbs. They observed an unusually large number of wounded that had had to have one or both of their legs amputated just below the genitals due to burns. Dr. Habas al-Wahid, head of the emergency centre at the Shuhada al-Aqsa hospital, told the journalists that the legs of the injured were sliced from their bodies “as if a saw was used to cut through the bone.”

Dozens of victims had completely burned bodies and shrapnel type injuries that X-ray machines had been unable to detect. Doctors said they had removed microscopic particles of carbounium and tungsten, a highly carcinogenic substance, from wounds. Dr. Juma Saka, of Shifa hospital in Gaza City, said that doctors had found small entry wounds on the bodies of the dead and wounded, and a powder on the victims’ bodies and in their internal organs. “The powder was like microscopic shrapnel, and this is likely what caused the injuries,” Saka said.

In many cases, doctors found that their patients, after initially appearing to recover, suddenly died after one or two days. “We don’t know what it means, new weapons or something added to a previous weapon,” said Saied Joudda, the deputy director at the Kamal Odwan hospital in Beit Lahiya.

These injuries were first seen in July after Israel launched a massive military offensive against Gaza at the end of June, ostensibly to find Corporal Gilad Shalit, who had been seized by Palestinian militants, and to put an end to the firing of Qassem rockets into Israel. The six-week-long war against a largely defenceless people destroyed roads, bridges, homes, water treatment and electricity plants, killed at least 286 Palestinians and injured 4,200, according to Gaza’s emergency services’ estimate. Overshadowed by Israel’s barbaric war against Lebanon, it received little publicity in the world’s press.

Most of the deaths and injuries were caused by Israeli drones, unmanned light planes that dropped weapons using precise remote-controlled devices against pre-established targets.

The programme reported that the doctors in Gaza had compiled extensive documentary evidence of the injuries. Dr. Mouawia, a cardio-vascular surgeon and director general of emergency services in Gaza, explained, “In the main hospitals of Gaza, such as the Shifa Hospital, our medical colleagues have treated wounds that present small holes, especially at the legs; in some other cases, within the body itself metallic fragments of various dimensions have been found, which are actually larger than the small wounds.”

“Personally I have collected in a CD the documentation relative to 86 cases that I am ready to show in Italy or anywhere else so that people can know what has happened here in the past months, when the public opinion was directed especially at the war in Lebanon,” he continued.

“In our opinion, Israel has also used chemical weapons, such as numerous cases demonstrate, documented cases, with persons having extremely serious burns to their internal organs in the absence of external wounds.

“In the Gazan hospitals,” Dr. Mouawia added, “the doctors are facing a situation that is truly difficult, worsened by the state of siege that we in the Gaza Strip are forced to live under. It is like an open-air prison: many of those wounded have died due to the seriousness of the wounds provoked by these weapons that are ‘different’ from the traditional ones up to this moment used by the Israeli aviation.” He said that no new cases had been recorded since August.

After lengthy research and analysis of the samples of metals found in the victims’ bodies and examining the unusual wounds, the programme’s reporters believed that the most likely cause of these injuries were missiles very similar to the US made Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME).

According to the military magazine Defence Tech, DIME is a carbon-encased missile that shatters on impact into minuscule splinters, at the same time setting off an explosive that shoots blades of energy-charged, heavy metal tungsten alloy (HMTA) powder, such as cobalt and nickel or iron, with a carbon fibre casing. It turns to dust on impact, as it loses inertia very quickly due to air resistance, burning and destroying through a very precise angulation everything within a four-meter range, as opposed to the shrapnel which results from the fragmentation of a metal casing.

The designation of the metal as “inert” is due to the metal’s non-involvement in the blast, rather than the metal being chemically or biologically inert.

This technology is one of a new range of “low collateral damage” or LCD weapons designed to minimise the damage to nearby property, by confining its increased lethal effects to a restricted space. So it is “ideal for densely populated areas” and “helping the warfighter to prevent the loss of public support,” according to its enthusiastic proponents.

The television programme did not address the question as to whether the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) developed this weapon themselves or had been supplied by the US to test the weapons, using the Palestinians as guinea pigs.

When questioned by the journalists, a spokesman for the IDF stated, “Israel uses no weapons that are not legal under international law.” But since DIME is new, international law has not passed judgment on its legality.

The IDF evidently refused to talk to the Italian reporters officially since they only cited Yitzhak Ben-Israel, major-general in the Israel air force, a former head of the army’s weapons-development program. He did not deny it was a DIME-type weapon, stating instead that “One of the ideas is to allow those targeted to be hit without causing damage to bystanders or other persons.”

He told the reporters “this is a technology that allows the striking of very small targets.”

In other words, DIME would be the perfect weapon for Israel’s programme of targeted assassinations of Palestinian opponents of the ongoing suppression and humiliation of the Palestinian people.

But the huge ratio of dead to injured in Gaza’s densely populated cities suggests that supposedly “low lethality” weapons—that provide increased lethality within a narrow zone—may have precisely the opposite effect.

Tungsten, the main material that would stray outside of the target zone, is also said to be highly carcinogenic and harmful to the environment. According to New Scientist magazine, John Kalinich’s team at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Maryland said that in a study designed to simulate shrapnel injuries, pellets of weapons-grade tungsten alloy were implanted in 92 rats. Within five months all the animals developed a rare cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma.

The carcinogenic effects of HMTA have been studied by the US Armed Forces since at least 2000 (along with depleted uranium). These alloys were found to cause neoplastic transformations of human osteoblast cells.

Dr. Mark Witten, a cancer researcher from the University of Arizona, said he was concerned about the possible links between tungsten and leukaemia. “My opinion is that there needs to be much more research on the health effects of tungsten before the military increases its usage,” he said.

Carmela Vaccaio, a doctor at University of Parma, examined samples sent by the Italian reporters from the Gaza Strip and found a very high concentration of carbon, as well as copper, aluminium and tungsten, which she considered to be unusual materials. In her report she concluded, “These findings could be in line with the hypothesis that the weapon in question is DIME.”

To add to their suffering, the Palestinian survivors of this new weaponry can expect to fall victim to cancer.

Later, in a statement issued after the programme, the IDF denied the use of DIME weapons, adding that “Due to operational reasons, the IDF cannot specify the types and use of weapons in its possession.”

Arcadia Codesmith

Protesting Israel's occupation and brutal supression of the Palestinian territories by picketing a synagogue makes about as much sense as protesting America's military adventurism by picketing a Christian church, which is to say, no sense at all.


Israel discriminates against its Arab citizens.

Israel is one of the most open societies in the world. Out of a population of 6.7 million, about 1.3 million — 20 percent of the population — are non-Jews (approximately 1.1 million Muslims, 130,000 Christians and 100,000 Druze).

Arabs in Israel have equal voting rights; in fact, it is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote. Arabs currently hold 8 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Israeli Arabs have also held various government posts, including one who served as Israel's ambassador to Finland and the current deputy mayor of Tel Aviv. Oscar Abu Razaq was appointed Director General of the Ministry of Interior, the first Arab citizen to become chief executive of a key government ministry. Ariel Sharon's original cabinet included the first Arab minister, Salah Tarif, a Druze who served as a minister without portfolio. An Arab is also a Supreme Court justice.

Arabic, like Hebrew, is an official language in Israel. More than 300,000 Arab children attend Israeli schools. At the time of Israel's founding, there was one Arab high school in the country. Today, there are hundreds of Arab schools.

In 2002, the Israeli Supreme Court also ruled that the government cannot allocate land based on religion or ethnicity, and may not prevent Arab citizens from living wherever they choose.

The sole legal distinction between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel is that the latter are not required to serve in the Israeli army. This is to spare Arab citizens the need to take up arms against their brethren. Nevertheless, Bedouins have served in paratroop units and other Arabs have volunteered for military duty. Compulsory military service is applied to the Druze and Circassian communities at their own request.

Some economic and social gaps between Israeli Jews and Arabs result from the latter not serving in the military. Veterans qualify for many benefits not available to non-veterans. Moreover, the army aids in the socialization process.

On the other hand, Arabs do have an advantage in obtaining some jobs during the years Israelis are in the military. In addition, industries like construction and trucking have come to be dominated by Israeli Arabs.

Although Israeli Arabs have occasionally been involved in terrorist activities, they have generally behaved as loyal citizens. During the 1967, 1973 and 1982 wars, none engaged in any acts of sabotage or disloyalty. Sometimes, in fact, Arabs volunteered to take over civilian functions for reservists. During the outbreak of violence in the territories that began in September 2000, Israeli Arabs for the first time engaged in widespread protests with some violence.

The United States has been independent for almost 230 years and still has not integrated all of its diverse communities. Even today, 60 years after civil rights legislation was adopted, discrimination has not been eradicated. It should not be surprising that Israel has not solved all of its social problems in only 62 years.


Israel discriminates against Israeli Arabs by barring them from buying land.

In the early part of the century, the Jewish National Fund was established by the World Zionist Congress to purchase land in Palestine for Jewish settlement. This land, and that acquired after Israel's War of Independence, was taken over by the government. Of the total area of Israel, 92 percent belongs to the State and is managed by the Land Management Authority. It is not for sale to anyone, Jew or Arab. The remaining 8 percent of the territory is privately owned. The Arab Waqf (the Muslim charitable endowment), for example, owns land that is for the express use and benefit of Muslim Arabs. Government land can be leased by anyone, regardless of race, religion or sex. All Arab citizens of Israel are eligible to lease government land.


Arabs held in Israeli jails are tortured, beaten and killed.

Prison is not a pleasant place for anyone and complaints about the treatment of prisoners in American institutions abound. Israel's prisons are probably among the most closely scrutinized in the world. One reason is the government has allowed representatives of the Red Cross and other groups to inspect them regularly.

Israeli law prohibits arbitrary arrest of citizens, defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty and have the right to writs of habeas corpus and other procedural safeguards. Israel holds no political prisoners and maintains an independent judiciary.

Some prisoners, particularly Arabs suspected of involvement in terrorism, were interrogated using severe methods that have been criticized as excessive. Israel's Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in 1999 prohibiting the use of a variety of abusive practices.

The death penalty has been applied just once, in the case of Adolf Eichmann, the man largely responsible for the "Final Solution." No Arab has ever been given the death penalty, even after the most heinous acts of terrorism.

Arcadia Codesmith

The cut-and-paste propaganda is eerily reminiscent of the disinformation generated by the real Mossad (the Israeli version of the CIA if you snuff out what little is left of the CIA's conscience). Please attribute source. Lohamah Psichlogit?

Mecha Innis

Malnutrition widespread amongst Palestinian children

A study revealed a drastic deterioration in the health of thousands of Palestinian children since the beginning of the Israeli military crackdown.

The report, by the US Agency for International Development, showed more than one-fifth of young Palestinian children are malnourished. This is more than a threefold increase since the last study two years ago. The plight of children under 5 years of age was particularly alarming. Twenty-two percent of Palestinian children under age 5 were malnourished, up from seven percent in an agency survey two years ago. Of that number, nine percent suffered from acute malnutrition—resulting from poor nutrition over the short term—and 13 percent suffered from chronic malnutrition—longer-term deficiencies that can result in stunted growth. About 20 percent of children under 5 had some form of anaemia.

The study, carried out by Johns Hopkins University and the humanitarian group CARE, found that the Gaza Strip was particularly hard hit, with 13 percent of children suffering from acute malnutrition, putting it on the same level as Nigeria, Somalia and Bangladesh.

A market survey also showed shortages of protein-rich foods, such as fish and chicken, among retailers. About half of retailers and wholesalers surveyed said they had shortages of infant formula.

About half of the 1,000 households surveyed in June said they had to borrow money to buy food. Some 70 percent of Palestinians are now living on $2 a day.

An all too typical case is that of Fatima Abu Awili, 35, an unemployed seamstress living in Gaza’s Beach Refugee Camp, who depends on aid from a United Nations agency to feed her five children. She said, “We sold all that we can sell of our furniture to provide food to the children and we fear that in the future we will have nothing to sell and no one to borrow money from.”

Awili manages to scrape by with donated lentils, rice, potatoes, milk and sometimes chicken, but she can’t afford the healthy food a doctor recommended for her and her newborn.

Following the release of the report, the Palestinian Health Minister, Riad Zanoun, declared a state of emergency. “I call on the international community to work to end the real reason behind the health deterioration, which is the occupation, the curfew and the Israeli army. Without the real intervention of the world, all our efforts will only be temporary ones,” said Zanoun. Palestinian officials have called on the US to provide health experts, vitamins and medical equipment.

As damning as the USAID study is of the affects of the recent Israeli offensive against the Palestinians, another earlier report paints an even bleaker picture.

The study, released just four days before the USAID report, was conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics for UNICEF and was taken between March 23 and June 30. No data was collected in April due to a six-week-long Israeli raid on Palestinian cities in the West Bank that effectively shut down government offices.

The study surveyed 5,228 households (as opposed to the USAID’s 1,000 sample), including 3,684 children, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points. It found that 45.5 percent of Palestinian children aged 6 months to 5 years are suffering from chronic malnutrition (a four-fold increase since September 2000), their growth having been stunted as a result of poor diet. Another 32.5 percent have acute malnutrition, where they were found to weigh less than they should for their age or height group.

Compared to statistics from 2000, the survey found a 22.6 percent increase in the number of children suffering from moderate stunting due to malnutrition and a 36 percent increase in the number of children who are underweight for their age. There was an increase of 50 percent in the number of children suffering from low weight for their height.

Around 65 percent of households surveyed said they had faced difficulties getting food for their families during the 22-month-long Palestinian uprising due to Israeli curfews and loss of income as a result of Israel travel restrictions and blockages. A total of 85 percent surveyed specifically blamed Israeli blockades.

Fresh produce has become scarcer and more expensive. Israeli forces continue to raze groves of fruit trees to widen buffer zones around Jewish settlements on the pretext of stripping possible cover for possible attackers, say Palestinian officials.

The full scale of the health crisis facing Palestinian infants can be seen at Gaza’s only humanitarian agency that specialises in nutrition—Ard el Insan Palestine. Mothers cradling thin, listless children waiting for treatment inundate the agency.

I’tedal el-Khateeb, executive director of Ard el Insan Palestine, said thousands of needy Palestinian mothers may be beyond its reach in outlying desert districts which are isolated by their proximity to heavily guarded Jewish settlements. Khateeb said, “The number of cases it [the agency] deals with has tripled since the start of the uprising ... the most dangerous sign for malnutrition is the increasing use of tea and bread at all ages. Mothers attribute this to poverty.”

The children who come to Ard el Insan have rickets, anaemia, skin ailments and parasites. Once a week, the Gaza clinic’s staff visits isolated areas in the Mediterranean coastal strip, dispensing treatment as well as fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, brown rice, beans, and iron-rich plum jam. But Khateeb said such trips are often thwarted by Israeli closures that may last days without explanation. West Bank suppliers of medicines have been cut off by Israeli blockades, while donations of vehicles were being held up at Gaza’s borders by Israel’s 100 percent tax regime on imports.

The increase of cases has drained Ard el Insan’s $650,000 annual budget—70 percent was gone by July 1.

Aid agencies linked to both studies have pointed to recent Israeli government policy as being responsible for the devastation of the Palestinian economy, rising unemployment, food shortages and poverty.

All available data points to the unavoidable conclusion that Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza over the past months has amounted to a form of collective punishment, ruining the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians uninvolved in any violence, and driving their children into destitution.

The findings embarrassed Israeli officials, who promised they would ease curfews and blockades on Palestinian towns and cities, including dismantling some roadblocks and issuing fresh permits for Palestinians to work in Israel. Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres briefed the White House on the government’s efforts to return Palestinians to work in Israel, such as reissuing 7,000 to 20,000 work permits, opening industrial parks on the border and easing restrictions on Gaza fishermen. On July 16, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon telephoned United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to ask for an international effort for the West Bank. The following week, Daniel Kurtzer, the US ambassador to Israel, calling the situation in the territories “a humanitarian disaster,” urged Israel to lift travel restrictions on Palestinians.

The orchestrated display of humanitarian posturing by the Israeli and US governments is largely for public consumption, but it is motivated by real political concerns—above all the fear that the appalling decline in living conditions will provoke a social explosion in the West Bank and Gaza that will be beyond the ability of the Palestinian Authority to police. As the Baltimore Sun put it, “The Israeli government must not waste any time in implementing relief measures. And the Bush administration should hold Israel to its pledge. It is in Israel’s interest to improve the welfare of Palestinian families: If growers are watching crops rot in fields, if farmers are killing off livestock to eat, if parents can’t properly feed their children, who can say how they will respond?”

Mecha Innis

Failure of the Zionist project

Many people, including those entirely sympathetic to the historical founding of Israel, are appalled at the sight of Jewish forces oppressing another peoples. To be appalled is not enough, however. One must understand why this situation has come about and elaborate a viable political perspective on which to oppose a descent into barbarism. In short a political reckoning must be made with Zionism.

It is not possible here to do justice to a presentation of the origins of Zionism, or its subsequent evolution. One can find such articles on the World Socialist Web Site. But a few essential points must be made. The founders of the state of Israel, such as David Ben Gurion, professed as their aim the creation of a liberal, democratic and even socialist state. They made a distorted appeal to the enlightened and progressive traditions of Jewish intellectual thought.

Sharon and his party, Likud, come from the dissenting tradition within official Zionism, known as the revisionists, whose ideological mentor was Vladimir Jabotinsky. He had argued that it was not possible to maintain the pretence that a Jewish state could be built on land occupied by another people—the Palestinians—other than through force.

He called for a ruthless struggle to forcibly assert Jewish control and declared a “voluntary reconciliation with the Arabs is out of the question.” Heavily influenced by Italian fascism, in 1935 he told a journalist quite baldly, “We want a Jewish empire.”

For the first two decades of Israel’s history the orthodox Zionists of the Labour Party and its forerunners were the dominant force within Israeli society. Their professions to democracy never stopped them from working with their rightists opponents to expel the Palestinians and suppress their democratic rights, but there was still an attempt to paint Zionism in the colours of democracy.

It is now possible to say without fear of contradiction that the so-called revisionist position has proved to be the correct historical estimation of the character and the necessary methodology for the realisation of the Zionist project.

Ever since the 1967 war, Israel has existed both as a regime built on the brutal subjugation of oppressed peoples and as one that is openly expansionist and militaristic. The social layers that dominate Israeli politics are the fanatically right-wing settlers and religious zealots. In contrast the more progressive minded and secular Jewish workers have found their preferred parties—Labour and Meretz for example—to be incapable of offering any alternative to the far right.

The promise of peace held out by Labour has ended in abject failure. The life of Nobel Peace Prize winner Yitzhak Rabin, one of the main architects of the Oslo Accord, was brought to an end by a fascistic student assassin’s bullet. His co-prize winner, Shimon Peres, now sits on Sharon’s right hand as the apologist-in-chief for a government whose aim is to destroy any chance of a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians. The man elected on a popular mandate to bring Oslo to fruition—Ehud Barak—today fully supports Sharon.

This is no accident. Barak and Sharon—and by extension Labour and Likud—always had more in common than they had differences. Or rather they shared a common strategy but differed on tactics. Noam Chomsky makes a correct observation in an article in Saturday’s Guardian on the real character of the Oslo Accords.

He writes, “The Oslo ‘peace process’, begun in 1993, changed the modality’s of the occupation, but not the basic concept. Shortly before joining the Ehud Barak government, historian Shlomo Ben-Ami wrote that, ‘the Oslo Agreements were founded on a neo-colonialist basis, on a life of dependence of one on the other for ever’. He soon became an architect of the US-Israel proposals at Camp David in 2000, which kept to this condition. At the time, West Bank Palestinians were confined to 200 scattered areas. Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Barak did propose an improvement: consolidation into three cantons, under Israeli control, virtually separated from one another and from the fourth enclave, a small area of East Jerusalem, the centre of Palestinian communications. The fifth canton was Gaza.”

Later Chomsky quotes Labour’s Moshe Dayan, whom three decades ago told Israel’s cabinet they should make it clear to Palestinian refugees that “we have no solution, you shall continue to live like dogs, and who ever wishes may leave”. Chomsky notes “when challenged, he responded by citing Ben-Gurion, who said that ‘who ever approaches the Zionist problem from a moral aspect is not a Zionist’”.

One could add far more on what Oslo gave to the Palestinians—which was more poverty, more brutality, a doubling of Zionist settlements. Barak’s supposed offer of 90 percent of the Occupied Territories is a myth. Greater Jerusalem was extended to include new Jewish suburbs in what was almost exclusively Arab East Jerusalem, and constitutes fully 30 percent of the West Bank and its most important part. This was excluded from Barak’s calculations.

Jewish settlements make up a further 15 percent of the West Bank. Then there are the military roads that criss-cross the Palestinian territories making no part of the proposed state—if one can use such a term—contiguous and therefore rendering the entire thing unviable. Ninety percent, then, of not very much.

There are lessons to be learnt regarding the specific character of Zionism.

It is not possible to build a democratic state based on an ideology of religious exclusivism and through the forcible suppression of the democratic rights of another people. Those who try to reconcile Zionism with democracy or seek to oppose the military campaign in the Occupied Territories whilst professing their loyalty to the state of Israel are on a hiding to nothing. This circle cannot be squared. A choice must be made between a commitment to democracy and a belief in nationalism.

Hamlet Au

My first thought was to just delete all this off-topic political Spam, but I think it's a fascinating response to a virtual protest, so decided to let it stand.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Wagner James Au
Wagner James "Hamlet" Au
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