Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi on the media's boot licking of the rich and powerful

Posted: June 28, 2010 4:45 P.M. EDT | By Matt Taibbi
Lara Logan, You Suck

Lara Logan, come on down! You're the next guest on Hysterical Backstabbing Jealous Hackfest 2010!

I thought I'd seen everything when I read David Brooks saying out loud in a New York Times column that reporters should sit on damaging comments to save their sources from their own idiocy. But now we get CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan slamming our own Michael Hastings on CNN's "Reliable Sources" program, agreeing that theRolling Stone reporter violated an "unspoken agreement" that journalists are not supposed to "embarrass [the troops] by reporting insults and banter."

Anyone who wants to know why network television news hasn't mattered since the seventies just needs to check out this appearance by Logan. Here's CBS's chief foreign correspondent saying out loud on TV that when the man running a war that's killing thousands of young men and women every year steps on his own dick in front of a journalist, that journalist is supposed to eat the story so as not to embarrass the flag. And the part that really gets me is Logan bitching about how Hastings was dishonest to use human warmth and charm to build up enough of a rapport with his sources that they felt comfortable running their mouths off in front of him. According to Logan, that's sneaky — and journalists aren't supposed to be sneaky:

"What I find is the most telling thing about what Michael Hastings said in your interview is that he talked about his manner as pretending to build an illusion of trust and, you know, he's laid out there what his game is… That is exactly the kind of damaging type of attitude that makes it difficult for reporters who are genuine about what they do, who don't — I don't go around in my personal life pretending to be one thing and then being something else. I mean, I find it egregious that anyone would do that in their professional life."

When I first heard her say that, I thought to myself, "That has to be a joke. It's sarcasm, right?" But then I went back and replayed the clip – no sarcasm! She meant it! If I'm hearing Logan correctly, what Hastings is supposed to have done in that situation is interrupt these drunken assholes and say, "Excuse me, fellas, I know we're all having fun and all, but you're saying things that may not be in your best interest! As a reporter, it is my duty to inform you that you may end up looking like insubordinate douche bags in front of two million Rolling Stone readers if you don't shut your mouths this very instant!" I mean, where did Logan go to journalism school – the Burson-Marsteller agency?

But Logan goes even further that that. See, according to Logan, not only are reporters not supposed to disclose their agendas to sources at all times, but in the case of covering the military, one isn't even supposed to have an agenda that might upset the brass! Why? Because there is an "element of trust" that you're supposed to have when you hang around the likes of a McChrystal. You cover a war commander, he's got to be able to trust that you're not going to embarrass him. Otherwise, how can he possibly feel confident that the right message will get out?

True, the Pentagon does have perhaps the single largest public relations apparatus on earth – spending $4.7 billion on P.R. in 2009 alone and employing 27,000 people, a staff nearly as large as the 30,000-person State Department – but is that really enough to ensure positive coverage in a society with armed with a constitutionally-guaranteed free press?

And true, most of the major TV outlets are completely in the bag for the Pentagon, with two of them (NBC/GE and Logan's own CBS, until recently owned by Westinghouse, one of the world's largest nuclear weapons manufacturers) having operated for years as leaders in both the broadcast media and weapons-making businesses.

But is that enough to guarantee a level playing field? Can a general really feel safe that Americans will get the right message when the only tools he has at his disposal are a $5 billion P.R. budget and the near-total acquiescence of all the major media companies, some of whom happen to be the Pentagon's biggest contractors?

Does the fact that the country is basically barred from seeing dead bodies on TV, or the fact that an embedded reporter in a war zone literally cannot take a shit without a military attaché at his side (I'm not joking: while embedded at Camp Liberty in Iraq, I had to be escorted from my bunk to the latrine) really provide the working general with the security and peace of mind he needs to do his job effectively?

Apparently not, according to Lara Logan. Apparently in addition to all of this, reporters must also help out these poor public relations underdogs in the Pentagon by adhering to an "unspoken agreement" not to embarrass the brass, should they tilt back a few and jam their feet into their own mouths in front of a reporter holding a microphone in front of their faces.

Then there's the part that made me really furious: Logan hinting that Hastings lied about the damaging material being on the record:
"Michael Hastings, if you believe him, says that there were no ground rules laid out. And, I mean, that just doesn't really make a lot of sense to me… I mean, I know these people. They never let their guard down like that. To me, something doesn't add up here. I just — I don't believe it."

I think the real meaning of that above quote is made clear in conjunction with this one: "There are very good beat reporters who have been covering these wars for years, year after year. Michael Hastings appeared in Baghdad fairly late on the scene, and he was there for a significant period of time. He has his credentials, but he's not the only one. There are a lot of very good reporters out there. And to be fair to the military, if they believe that a piece is balanced, they will let you back."

Let me just say one thing quickly: I don't know Michael Hastings. I've never met him and he's not a friend of mine. If he cut me off in a line in an airport, I'd probably claw his eyes out like I would with anyone else. And if you think I'm being loyal to him because he works for Rolling Stone, well – let's just say my co-workers at the Stone would laugh pretty hard at that idea.

But when I read this diatribe from Logan, I felt like I'd known Hastings my whole life. Because brother, I have been there, when some would-be "reputable" journalist who's just been severely ass-whipped by a relative no-name freelancer on an enormous story fights back by going on television and, without any evidence at all, accusing the guy who beat him of cheating. That's happened to me so often, I've come to expect it. If there's a lower form of life on the planet earth than a "reputable" journalist protecting his territory, I haven't seen it.

As to this whole "unspoken agreement" business: the reason Lara Logan thinks this is because she's like pretty much every other "reputable" journalist in this country, in that she suffers from a profound confusion about who she's supposed to be working for. I know this from my years covering presidential campaigns, where the same dynamic applies. Hey, assholes: you do not work for the people you're covering! Jesus, is this concept that fucking hard? On the campaign trail, I watch reporters nod solemnly as they hear about the hundreds of millions of dollars candidates X and Y and Z collect from the likes of Citigroup and Raytheon and Archer Daniels Midland, and it blows my mind that they never seem to connect the dots and grasp where all that money is going. The answer, you idiots, is that it's buying advertising! People like George Bush, John McCain, Barack Obama, and General McChrystal for that matter, they can afford to buy their own P.R. — and they do, in ways both honest and dishonest, visible and invisible.

They don't need your help, and you're giving it to them anyway, because you just want to be part of the club so so badly. Disgustingly, that's really what it comes down to. Most of these reporters just want to be inside the ropeline so badly, they want to be able to say they had that beer with Hillary Clinton in a bowling alley in Scranton or whatever, that it colors their whole worldview. God forbid some important person think you're not playing for the right team!

Meanwhile, the people who don't have the resources to find out the truth and get it out in front of the public's eyes, your readers/viewers, you're supposed to be working for them — and they're not getting your help. What the hell are we doing in Afghanistan? Is it worth all the bloodshed and the hatred? Who are the people running this thing, what is their agenda, and is that agenda the same thing we voted for? By the severely unlikely virtue of a drunken accident we get a tiny glimpse of an answer to some of these vital questions, but instead of cheering this as a great break for our profession, a waytago moment, one so-called reputable journalist after another lines up to protest the leak and attack the reporter for doing his job. God, do you all suck!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Jimmy Carter can now be indicted for "providing services to a terrorist organization"

The Supreme Court recently ruled to criminalize speech that it says will aid or provide advice in any way to a so called terrorist organization. Even if the a person or group is trying to convince a "terrorist" group to not engage in terrorism or violence and join peaceful negotiations as a way to reach its goals.

As described in the NYT citation below, the U.S. Justice Department should indict President Jimmy Carter. While Attorney General Holder is at it he could find out which U.S. diplomats have held "back channel" meetings with Hamas, or the Kurds, or the Talliban to see if they should be indicted for trying to get them to negotiate with someone (Israel, the US, Karzi, the Iraqi prime minister... anyone, whoever). Actually Holder could indict Obama and Hillary too if they had told a diplomat to have such a meeting or had guilty knowledge of one.
excerpt from the New York Times:

Jimmy Carter said on Tuesday that he urged Hamas leaders during a high-profile meeting here to take steps necessary to become accepted by the leading Western nations. Mr. Carter is the most prominent American figure to have met with the Hamas government that took over Gaza two years ago, after the Palestinian Authority forces were routed in a brief but bloody factional war. Hamas welcomed Mr. Carter’s visit as a significant step in its quest for international legitimacy.

Ismail Haniya, the leader of the Hamas government in Gaza, and Mr. Carter held a joint press conference where an American flag was displayed alongside a Palestinian national flag behind the speakers on the podium. There were no green Hamas flags in sight.

It was Mr. Haniya’s most public appearance since Israel ended its devastating three-week military campaign against Hamas in Gaza in January, which Israel said was intended to halt rocket fire by Gaza militants against southern Israel.

Striking a conciliatory tone, Mr. Haniya said Hamas would favor the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and with full sovereignty, adding, “We are pushing for the realization of this Palestinian national dream.”

Mr. Haniya also said that Mr. Carter’s visit to Gaza was particularly important coming after two years of economic “siege” and after the “Israeli aggression.” He noted that it followed the change in the American administration and President Barack Obama’s address in Cairo, in which Mr. Haniya said he heard a “different language.”

Both Israel and Hamas declared separate, informal cease-fires after last winter’s war, but Israel continues to impose a punishing economic blockade that allows in only basic provisions for the 1.5 million residents of the isolated coastal strip.

Israel, the United States and the European Union classify Hamas as a terrorist organization. They have set three conditions for dealing with Hamas, saying it must renounce all violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist and accept all previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements. Hamas has so far refused to comply.

Hamas leaders have said they will never recognize Israel, and will only offer a long-term truce, not a full fledged peace treaty, in return for a Palestinian state.

Mr. Carter emphasized that he was in Gaza as a private citizen, not as a representative of his government. But he said he would write a report on his visit to the region for the Obama administration on his return.

In a three-hour meeting with Hamas government officials and senior representatives of the group, Mr. Carter told the group to find a mechanism that would allow it to meet the conditions set by international players, according to Ahmed Yousef, the Hamas deputy foreign minister who attended the meeting.

In a brief interview before the meeting, Mr. Carter said that in order to break the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, “first of all Hamas has to be accepted by the international community as a legitimate player in the future, and that is what I am trying to do today.”....Yo Jimmy! Go directly to jail.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


The tea party, Christian nut-cases, anti-immigrant xenophobes, militias and Ayn Rand worshipers aren't worth worrying about. The “war on terror” is turning the USA into a centralized corporate run police state.
by R. Congress

Gore Vidal on The National Security State:
“...fifty years ago, Harry Truman replaced the old republic with a national-security state whose sole purpose is to wage perpetual wars, hot, cold, and tepid. Exact date of replacement? February 27, 1947. Place: The White House Cabinet Room. Cast: Truman, Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson, a handful of congressional leaders. Republican senator Arthur Vandenberg told Truman that he could have his militarized economy only IF he first "scared the hell out of the American people" that the Russians were coming. Truman obliged. The perpetual war began. Representative government of, by, and for the people is now a faded memory. Only corporate America enjoys representation by the Congress and presidents that it pays for in an arrangement where no one is entirely accountable because those who have bought the government also own the media. Now, with the revolt of the Praetorian Guard at the Pentagon, we are entering a new and dangerous phase. Although we regularly stigmatize other societies as rogue states, we ourselves have become the largest rogue state of all. We honor no treaties. We spurn international courts. We strike unilaterally wherever we choose. We give orders to the United Nations but do not pay our dues...we bomb, invade, subvert other states. Although We the People of the United States are the sole source of legitimate authority in this land, we are no longer represented in Congress Assembled. Our Congress has been hijacked by corporate America and its enforcer, the imperial military machine..."
Gore Vidal: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, 2002 (Thunder Mouth/Nation Books)

Is the threat of a fascist America coming from the Tea Party and it's ilk? Is rightist revolution from below on the agenda? Or is the impulse to end democracy in the U.S. Coming from a different direction? Actually “creeping fascism” has been happening for a while and it's not just the military/industrial types and the neo-cons pushing us toward dictatorship. Zionist schmucks like Charles Schumer and Jerry Nadler are in the vanguard of the stampede of Democratic Party “liberals” (Pelosi, Boxer, Feingold et al) to destroy democratic rights for the good of the empire (and Israel too).

There was a brief blip of pro-bill of rights legislation and an effort by some to shore up democratic rights in the immediate post-Watergate and post-Vietnam war period. But as a rule, both parties have supported the gradual chipping away at democracy that went along with the evolution of our National Security State.

The Obama administration has embraced the damage done to the Constitution by the Patriot Act and the out of control use of “state secrecy” and “terrorism” to spy on everyone. The abomination of the “enemy combatant” status, created by the Bush Justice Department, which allows the government to imprison anyone it wants for as long as it wants with no due process still stands. Guantanamo is still open. Secret CIA prisons are still operating. Rendition and torture still go on. Now, via predator drones, the CIA and military can routinely assassinate who ever they want, when and where ever they choose. The recent Supreme Court ruling that will criminalize even speaking about so called “terrorists” groups is another nail in the coffin.

The USA has always been a predatory imperialist power. Even in the days of the “old republic” that Gore Vidal is nostalgic about, the United States was ripping off land from the Indian Nations, filching half of Mexico and with the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 declaring South America to be its (not Europe's) sphere of influence. Now American imperialism is in decline and is desperately retooling it's organs of state control both internally and externally .

In an earlier post I described the uproar from the “grass roots” tea party people as the death agony of a dying demographic. These people are older, white, middle-income and deeply racist. They are losers, on the way out. They have no potential to sweep the nation like Hitler's brown shirts. Conditions here are also not the same as those that bred the “classical fascism” of the 1930s.

True, the German bankers and industrialists opted to support the Nazis once they were in power. But social conflict and economic disaster was more severe by a whole order of magnitude and the Nazis had already gained a lot of support in a more homogeneous country than ours. A bunch of obese suburbanites yammering about the evils of big government are not going to lead a seizure of state power. Real fascists like big government. They want to use it to mold all of society in their image.

Besides, our state has already been seized by corporate America. The repressive apparatus of social control is coming more to the fore as U.S. foreign adventures fall to pieces and other developed countries see that the USA is in economic, military and political decline and flex their muscles.

Too much internal dissent is also seen as a security threat by our corporate/military/security state. The questioning of Israel's treatment of Palestinians and dissent in general that is growing among the American population is putting Zionist apologists very ill at ease. AIPAC, J Street (a liberal leech on the ass of Abe Foxman) and the politicians they lead around by the nose are quite happy to equate criticism of Israel with overt, prosecutable support of an open-ended list of designated terrorist organizations. It's a short reach from that position to paint critics of the Afghan and Iraqi (and Pakistan, and Yemen etc.) wars as aiding terrorism. Is this over reacting? We'll see.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's Time to Call Out the "PEPs"

Too many supporters of Palestinian rights give a pass to the "Progressive Except for Palestine" liberal Dems. It's time to expose their racist hypocrisy.

U.S. Support for Israel Mirrors 80s Support for El Salvador Junta

It's like the 1980s all over again.

During that decade, the Reagan administration -- with the support of Congress -- sent billions of dollars worth of unconditional military and other support to the right-wing junta in El Salvador, just as the Obama administration is today with the right-wing government in Israel.

When Salvadoran forces massacred 700 civilians in El Mozote, congressional leaders defended the killings, saying that the U.S-backed operation was "fighting terrorists." Similarly, when Israel massacred over 700 civilians in the Gaza Strip early last year, congressional leaders defended the killings for the same reason.

When Amnesty International and other groups investigated the El Mozote killings and found that it was indeed a massacre targeted at civilians by the Salvadoran army, members of Congress denounced these reputable human rights organizations as "biased." There was a similar reaction when Amnesty and other groups documented similar Israeli war crimes, with Congressional leaders accusing them of "bias."

Even when the Salvadoran junta murdered international humanitarian aid workers, the right-wing government's supporters in Washington insisted that the victims were actually allied with terrorists and that they somehow provoked their own deaths. We're now hearing the same rationalization regarding the attack on the humanitarian aid flotilla in the eastern Mediterranean.

The difference is that, back in the 1980s, members of Congress and the administration who were responsible for such policies were targeted with frequent protests, including sit-ins at congressional offices and other kinds of nonviolent direct action. Unlike supporters of El Salvador's former right-wing government, however, today's congressional supporters of Israel's right-wing government seem to be getting a free ride.

Senators Barbara Boxer, Ron Wyden, Russ Feingold, Barbara Mikulski, and Carl Levin -- who led the attack against Justice Goldstone and others who documented Israeli war crimes -- are still supported by many so-called "progressives" who apparently believe that, despite these senators' attacks on basic human rights, they should still get their vote, campaign contributions, and other support. For example, here in California, Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans and singer/songwriter Bonnie Raitt, who were active in opposition to U.S. policy in Central America during the 1980s, are major contributors to Boxer's re-election campaign. The willingness to challenge such right-wing congressional militarists has substantially diminished.

The problem is less a matter of the power of AIPAC and the "pro-Israel lobby" as it is the failure of those on the left to demand a change in Obama administration policy. Progressives must recognize that the lives of Arab civilians are as important as the lives of Central American civilians; that it is just as inexcusable for the United States to support a government that kills passengers and crew on a humanitarian flotilla in international waters as it is to kill nuns, agronomists and other civilians working in the Salvadoran countryside; and that, when it comes to international humanitarian law, the differences between the policies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama are not as great as we would like to think.

It always comes back to "the rockets"

Israel and its apologists still see the rockets fired from Gaza as the trump argument for the blockade and anything else they do. "Poor innocent us, for no reason the rockets were launched against Israel."

The article below, from The Guardian in 2008 gives a clear picture of what was happening. Unlike the US mainstream media (and the supposed liberal media) The Guardian reporter gives the full story. Israel was bombing Gaza, killing civilians virtually at random and rockets were fired back in retaliation. This extended over many years before the December/January 2008/9 Israeli attack on Gaza.

Less than 50 Israelis were killed by Hamas or other Gaza group's rockets and more than 1000 Palestinians died. This is before Cast Lead where 1400 Gazans were killed (nearly all civillians).

WHY WERE THE ROCKETS FIRED FROM GAZA INTO ISRAEL? BECAUSE ISRAEL WAS REGULARLY BOMBING AND SHELLING GAZA. This suggests a policy that Israel could pursue: don't bomb Gaza and see the much for stumblebum hacks like Jerry Nadler or Chuck Schumer to figure out.

Gaza: Israel's previous attacks

Air strikes in Gaza follow series of operations dating back to 2006, when Hamas won Palestinian elections

* Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem
*, Tuesday 30 December 2008 12.56 GMT
* Article history

Israel's four-day bombing campaign in Gaza is the latest in a series of military operations dating back to 2006, when Hamas won the Palestinian elections.

All have had the publicly stated aim of stopping rocket fire into southern Israeli towns. They have claimed hundreds of Palestinian lives.

At the same time, Israel has imposed tighter and tighter economic restrictions, which now amount to a blockade of the Gaza Strip under which only limited humanitarian supplies are allowed in.

Yet these measures have so far failed to halt militant rockets.

As soon as the Hamas-dominated parliament was sworn in, Israel froze contacts with what it called the "terrorist" Palestinian Authority and blocked the transfer of tax and customs receipts, worth about $50m a month.

Israel said Hamas should renounce violence, recognise Israel's right to exist and accept previous peace agreements. It began regular closures of the Karni crossing, the main commercial goods terminal between Israel and Gaza.

Soon the EU – the largest single donor to the Palestinians – and later the rest of the international community suspended all direct aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Over several weeks, the Israeli military fired artillery rounds into Gaza and bombed buildings, killing several Palestinians. Israel said it was trying to stop militant rockets attacks. In late June 2006, after an Israeli soldier was captured by Palestinian militants and taken into Gaza, the military launched a major operation, sending in troops and bombing bridges, buildings, roads and Gaza's sole power plant.

After two months of bombing and ground raids, the Israeli operation – codenamed Summer Rain – had killed at least 240 Palestinians. At least half were civilians, including 48 children.

In November 2006 Israel mounted a six-day ground invasion of the town of Beit Hanoun, in an area of northern Gaza frequently used by militants launching rockets. The raid, codenamed Autumn Clouds, killed at least 50 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier.

The day after the Israeli military withdrew, another 18 Palestinians, all from the same family in Beit Hanoun, were killed when their house was hit by a volley of Israeli artillery shells.

Late the same month, a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza was finally established, running for nearly six months until Hamas started firing rockets again. Israel restarted its air strikes on Gaza and threatened to kill Hamas leaders.

After Hamas seized full control of Gaza in late June 2007, following a near civil war with its rival Fatah, Israel stepped up its air raids. On a single day in June, 12 Palestinians were killed in what an Israeli minister called "preventive measures" against rocket attacks from Gaza.

At the same time, Israel tightened its economic blockade, reducing the flow of goods into Gaza to a bare minimum, stopping all exports and placing severe limits on those Palestinians it allowed to leave Gaza through Israel. By September it had declared Gaza a "hostile territory" as militant rocket attacks and Israeli military raids continued.

A new round of US-sponsored peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians began at a summit in Annapolis, in the US, in November 2007 – but the conflict in Gaza continued. Militants fired rockets into southern Israel and the Israeli military staged small-scale incursions and air strikes, killing dozens of Palestinians, both civilians and militants.

The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said his military was fighting a "true war" against militant groups in Gaza and ruled out the possibility of another ceasefire.

In January this year, Israel launched an incursion into al-Zaitoun, east of Gaza City – in a single day killing at least 18 Palestinians, including the son of Gaza's most powerful Hamas leader.

On the same day, a volunteer farmer from Ecuador was killed by a Palestinian sniper while working at a communal farm across the boundary in Israel. It was the heaviest day of fighting in Gaza for more than a year.

Israel then tightened its restrictions on deliveries into Gaza, including fuel, forcing the power plant to shut down for several days. In late January, crowds of thousands of desperate Palestinians forced their way over the border wall out of Gaza and into Egypt.

Israeli air strikes continued after Hamas claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in which an Israeli woman and 11 others were injured in the Israeli city of Dimona. It marked the first return to suicide bombings in Israel by Hamas for more than three years.

In late February the Israeli military mounted another major operation in Gaza, this time sending troops into the eastern town of Jabaliya. In the space of five days around 120 Palestinians were killed, at least half of them civilians. Three Israelis died.

But the raid failed to halt the rocket fire, and in the weeks afterwards there were other clashes in Gaza and near the border, killing six Israelis, four of them soldiers, and dozens of Palestinians, among them a Reuters television cameraman and, in a separate incident, a mother and her four children.

Eventually, after much mediation by Egypt, a ceasefire between Israel and militants in Gaza was again established in June. It ran until November, when it began to break down with violations on both sides, and collapsed in mid-December to bring the latest Israeli bombing campaign of Gaza, codenamed Cast Lead, which has so far killed at least 360 Palestinians.

In the past eight years, the militant rockets and mortars fired from Gaza that have become such a powerful issue for the Israeli government have killed 20 people inside Israel. Three of those were killed on Monday, including a soldier, and one died on Saturday when the bombing first started.

Israeli attacks on Palestinian territories

January 2006: Israel fires artillery rounds into Gaza and bombs buildings after Hamas wins Palestinian elections

June 2006: Operation Summer Rain follows the capture of an Israeli soldier. A total of 240 Palestinians are killed in two months of bombing and ground raids

November 2006: Operation Autumn Clouds, a six-day ground invasion of Beit Hanoun, results in at least 50 Palestinian deaths. Another 18 from one family are killed in artillery shelling

June 2007: Israel steps up air raids after Hamas seizes control of Gaza

January 2008: A total of 18 Palestinians are killed in one day in an Israeli incursion into al-Zaytoun

February 2008: Israeli troops go into Jabaliya; around 120 Palestinians are killed in five days

December 2008: Operation Cast Lead is launched. At least 360 Palestinians are killed in the first four days

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

NY Democratic Party "progressives" demand free speech about Israel's piracy and murder be criminalized


Don't Let Enemies of Freedom Suppress the Truth About

Israel's Attack on a Humanitarian Aid Ship!
All Out to the House of the Lord Church 415 Atlantic Ave. Thursday June 17, 7 pm

Two weeks ago Israeli naval commandos stormed a Turkish ship loaded with humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza. They murdered 9 unarmed passengers. The oldest, Ibrahim Bilgen, was 61. the youngest, Furkan Dogan, a U.S. citizen born in Troy , N.Y., was just 19.

On Thursday, June 17, two eyewitnesses to this horror, U.S. filmmaker Iara Lee and British political organizer Kevin Ovenden, and Ahmet Unsal, a former Member of Turkey�s Parliament, have been invited to tell their views and stories at a public forum at Brooklyn's historic House of the Lord Church. The meeting is cosponsored by dozens of organizations.

They come with nothing but words. But words of truth strike fear into the hearts of certain hate-filled New York politicians who have voted time and again to turn U.S. taxpayers' dollars into missiles and bombs for Israel's war machine.

On June 14, City Council speaker Christine Quinn, Reps. Jerry Nadler, Anthony Weiner, Carolyn Mahoney, Charles Rangel and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer gathered in Times Square at the behest of the so-called "Jewish Community Relations Council." They demanded that the State Department investigate the invited speakers for "ties to terrorism." They want to prevent or delay their entry the United States. This is a clear attempt to not only deny the passengers' right to speak but to deny the people of the United States the right to hear their words.

The group of politicians who issued this call have supported every act of terror by the Israeli state against the native people of Palestine and its neighbors. They cheered the 2008-9 terror bombing and invasion of Gaza that slaughtered 1,400 people, including hundreds of children. They applauded Israel's 2006 mass murder of 900 Lebanese civilians. They hail the cruel blockade that denies food, medicine, electricity and sanitation to the people of Gaza and they dare to support the killing and kidnapping of Turkish, U.S., British and Irish citizens who tried to break that blockade.

These political hacks now attack our very right to learn and discuss the issues involved. They seek to pin the label of �terrorist� on any who oppose the vicious and immoral blockade of Gaza and the endless stream of U.S. guns and dollars to Israel's brutal war machine. And they want to hide the truth about what happened that bloody night on the Mavi Marmara.

We call upon all people who believe in justice and freedom to resist this attack on our rights. Let your elected representative know that you have the right to hear what the courageous survivors of the Mavi Marmara have to say. And let's pack the House of the Lord Church Thursday night. Let's answer this vile attempt at intimidation with a powerful mass meeting.

Sponsors include Muslim American Society, International Action Center, National Lawyers Guild-NYC, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, American Muslims For Palestine, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, NYC Labor Against the War, Arab Muslim American Federation, Labor For Palestine, FIST, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine, Action for a Progressive Pakistan, ANSWER Coalition, Anakbayan, Bayan USA, Creative Nonviolent Resistance against Injustice, Gabriela USA, International League of Peoples Struggle--NY/LOC, Middle East Crisis Response, El Beireh Society, The Indypendent, Socialist Action, International Socialist Organization, Westchester Peoples Action Coalition, American-Iranian Friendship Committee

LET THE TRUTH BE HEARD! Please Forward Widely

Monday, June 14, 2010

Questions to ask a genuine commission of Inquiry on the attack on the Mavi Marara

Uri Avnery

Who is Afraid of a real Inquiry?

If a real Commission of Inquiry had been set up (instead of the pathetic excuse for a commission), here are some of the questions it should have addressed:

1. What is the real aim of the Gaza Strip blockade?

2. If the aim is to prevent the flow of arms into the Strip, why are only 100 products allowed in (as compared to the more than 12 thousand products in an average Israeli supermarket)?

3. Why is it forbidden to bring in chocolate, toys, writing material, many kinds of fruits and vegetables (and why cinnamon but not coriander)?

4. What is the connection between the decision to forbid the import of construction materials for the replacement or repair of the thousands of buildings destroyed or damaged during the Cast Lead operation and the argument that they may serve Hamas for building bunkers - when more than enough materials for this purpose are brought into the Strip through the tunnels?

5. Is the real aim of the blockade to turn the lives of the 1.5 million human beings in the Strip into hell, in the hope of inducing them to overthrow the Hamas regime?

6. Since this has not happened, but - on the contrary - Hamas has become stronger during the three years of the blockade, did the government ever entertain second thoughts on this matter?

7. Has the blockade been imposed in the hope of freeing the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit?

8. If so, has the blockade contributed anything to the realization of this aim, or has it been counter-productive?

9. Why does the Israeli government refuse to exchange Shalit for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, when Hamas agrees to such a deal?

10. Is it true that the US government has imposed a veto on the exchange of prisoners, on the grounds that it would strengthen Hamas?

11. Has there been any discussion in our government about fulfilling its undertaking in the Oslo agreement - to enable and encourage the development of the Gaza port - in a way that would prevent the passage of arms?

12. Why does the Israeli government declare again and again that the territorial waters of the Gaza strip are part of Israel's own territorial waters, and that ships entering them "infringe on Israeli sovereignty", contrary to the fact that the Gaza Strip was never annexed to Israel and that Israel officially announced in 2006 that it had "separated" itself from it?

13. Why has the Attorney General's office declared that the peace activists captured on the high seas, who had no intention whatsoever of entering Israel, had "tried to enter Israel illegally", and brought them before a judge for the extension of their arrest under the law that concerns "illegal entry into Israel"?

14. Who is responsible for these contradictory legal claims, when the Israeli government argues one minute that Israel has "separated itself from the Gaza Strip" and that the "occupation there has come to an end" - and the next minute claims sovereignty over the coastal waters of the Strip? ?@

Question concerning the decision to attack the flotilla:

15. When did the preparation for this flotilla become known to the Israeli intelligence services? (Evidence on this may be heard in camera.)

16. When was this brought to the attention of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense, the Cabinet, the Committee of Seven (in charge of security matters) and the IDF Chief of Staff? (ditto)

17. What were the deliberations of these officials and institutions? (ditto)

18. What intelligence was submitted to each of them? (ditto)

19. When, by whom and how was the decision taken to stop the flotilla by force?

20. Is it true that the secretary of the cabinet, Tzvi Hauser, warned of the severe consequences of such action and advised letting the flotilla sail to Gaza?

21. Were there others who also advised doing so?

22. Was the Foreign Ministry a full partner in all the discussions?

23. If so, did the Foreign Ministry warn of the impact of such an action on our relations with Turkey and other countries?

24. In light of the fact that, prior to the incident, the Turkish government informed the Israeli Foreign Ministry that the flotilla was organized by a private organization which is not under the control of the government and does not violate any Turkish law - did the Foreign Ministry consider approaching the organization in order to try to reach an agreement to avoid violence?

25. Was due consideration given to the alternative of stopping the flotilla in territorial waters, inspecting the cargo for arms and letting it sail on?

26. Was the impact of the action on international public opinion considered?

27. Was the impact of the action on our relations with the US considered?

28. Was it taken into consideration that the action may actually strengthen Hamas?

29. Was it taken into consideration that the action may make the continuation of the blockade more difficult??@

Questions concerning the planning of the action:

30. What intelligence was at the disposal of the planners? (Evidence may be heard in camera.)

31. Was it considered that the composition of the group of activists in this flotilla was different from that in earlier protest ships, because of the addition of the Turkish component?

32. Was it taken into consideration that contrary to the European peace activists, who believe in passive resistance, the Turkish activists may adopt a policy of active resistance to soldiers invading a Turkish ship?

33. Were alternative courses of action considered, such as blocking the progress of the flotilla with navy boats?

34. If so, what were the alternatives considered, and why were they rejected?

35. Who was responsible for the actual planning of the operation - the IDF Chief of Staff or the Commander of the Navy?

36. If it was the Navy Commander who decided on the method employed, was the decision approved by the Chief of Staff, the Minister of Defense and the Prime Minister?

37. How were the responsibilities for planning divided between these?

38. Why was the action undertaken outside of the territorial waters of Israel and the Gaza Strip?

39. Why was it executed in darkness?

40. Did anyone in the navy object to the idea of soldiers descending from helicopters onto the deck of the ship "Mavi Marmara"?

41. During the deliberations, did anyone bring up the similarity between the planned operation and the British action against the ship "Exodus 1947", which ended in a political disaster for the British??@

Questions concerning the action itself:

42. Why was the flotilla cut off from any contact with the world throughout the operation, if there was nothing to hide?

43. Did anyone protest that the soldiers were actually being sent into a trap?

44. Was it taken into consideration that the plan adopted would place the soldiers for several critical minutes in a dangerously inferior position?

45. When exactly did the soldiers start to shoot live ammunition?

46. Which of the soldiers was the first to fire?

47. Was the shooting - all or part of it - justified?

48 Is it true that the soldiers started firing even before descending onto the deck, as asserted by the passengers?

49. Is it true that the fire continued even after the captain of the ship and the activists announced several times over loudspeakers that the ship had surrendered, and after they had actually hoisted white flags?

50. Is it true that five of the nine people killed were shot in the back, indicating that they were trying to get away from the soldiers and thus could not be endangering their lives?

51. Why was the killed man Ibrahim Bilgen, 61 years old and father of six and a candidate for mayor in his home town, described as a terrorist?

52. Why was the killed man Cetin Topcoglu, 54 years old, trainer of the Turkish national taekwondo (Korean martial arts) team, whose wife was also on the ship, described as a terrorist?

53. Why was the killed man Cevdet Kiliclar, a 38 year old journalist, described as a terrorist?

54. Why was the killed man Ali Haydar Bengi, father of four, graduate of the al-Azhar school for literature in Cairo, described as a terrorist?

55. Why were the killed men Necdet Yaldirim, 32 years old, father of a daughter; Fahri Yaldiz, 43 years old, father of four; Cengiz Songur, 47 years old, father of seven; and Cengiz Akyuz, 41 years old, father of three, described as terrorists?

56. Is it a lie that the activists took a pistol from a soldier and shot him with it, as described by the IDF, or is it true that the activists did in fact throw the pistol into the sea without using it?

57. Is it true, as stated by Jamal Elshayyal, a British subject, that the soldiers prevented treatment for the Turkish wounded for three hours, during which time several of them died?

58.. Is it true, as stated by this journalist, that he was handcuffed behind his back and forced to kneel for three hours in the blazing sun, that he was not allowed to go and urinate and told to "piss in his pants", that he remained handcuffed for 24 hours without water, that his British passport was taken from him and not returned; that his laptop computer, three cellular telephones and 1500 dollars in cash were taken from him and not returned?

59. Did the IDF cut off the passengers from the world for 48 hours and confiscate all the cameras, films and cell phones of the journalists on board in order to suppress any information that did not conform to the IDF story?

60. Is it a standing procedure to keep the Prime Minister (or his acting deputy, Moshe Yaalon in this case) in the picture during an operation, was this procedure implemented, and was it implemented in previous cases, such as the Entebbe operation or the boarding of the ship "Karin A"?

Questions concerning the behavior of the IDF Spokesman:

61. IS it true that the IDF Spokesman spread a series of fabrications during the first few hours, in order to justify the action in the eyes of both the Israeli and the international public?

62. Are the few minutes of film which have been shown hundreds of times on Israeli TV, from the first day on until now, a carefully edited clip, so that it is not seen what happened just before and just after?

63. What is the truth of the assertion that the soldiers who were taken by the activists into the interior of the ship were about to be "lynched", when the photos clearly show that they were surrounded for a considerable time by dozens of activists without being harmed, and that a doctor or medic from among the activists even treated them?

64. What evidence is there for the assertion that the Turkish NGO called IHH has connections with al-Qaeda?

65. On what grounds was it stated again and again that it was a "terrorist organization", though no evidence for this claim was offered?

66. Why was it asserted that the association was acting under the orders of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, when in fact it is close to an opposition party?

67. If it was in fact a terrorist organization known to the Israeli intelligence services, why was this not taken into account during the planning of the operation?

68. Why did the Israeli government not announce this before the attack on the flotilla?

69. Why were the words of one of the activists, who declared on his return that he wanted to be a "shahid", translated by official propaganda in a manifestly dishonest manner, as if he had said that he wanted "to kill and be killed" ("shahid" means a person who sacrifices his life in order to testify to his belief in God, much like a Christian martyr)?

70. What is the source of the lie that the Turks called out "Go back to Auschwitz"?

71. Why were the Israeli doctors not called to inform the public at once about the character of the wounds of the injured soldiers, after it was announced that at least one of them was shot?

72. Who invented the story that there were arms on the ship, and that they had been thrown into the sea?

73. Who invented the story that the activists had brought with them deadly weapons - when the exhibition organized by the IDF Spokesman himself showed nothing but tools found on any ship, including binoculars, a blood infusion instrument, knives and axes, as well as decorative Arab daggers and kitchen knives that are to be found on every ship, even one not equipped for 1000 passengers?

74. Do all these items - coupled with the endless repetition of the word "terrorists" and the blocking of any contrary information - not constitute brainwashing??@

Questions concerning the inquiry:

75. Why does the Israeli government refuse to take part in an international board of inquiry, composed of neutral personalities acceptable to them?

76. Why have the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense announced that they are ready to testify - but not to answer questions?

77. Where does the argument come from that soldiers must not be called to testify - when in all previous investigations senior officers, junior officers and enlisted men were indeed subjected to questioning?

78. Why does the government refuse to appoint a State Commission of Inquiry under the Israeli law that was enacted by the Knesset in 1966 for this very purpose, especially in view of the fact that such commissions were appointed after the Yom Kippur war, after the Sabra and Shatila massacre, after the podium of the al-Aqsa Mosque was set on fire by an insane Australian, as well as to investigate corruption in sport and the murder of the Zionist leader Chaim Arlosoroff (some fifty years after it occurred!)?

79. Does the government have something to fear from such a commission, whose members are appointed by the President of the Supreme Court, and which is empowered to summon witnesses and cross-examine them, demand the production of documents and determine the personal responsibility for mistakes and crimes?

80. Why was it decided in the end to appoint a pathetic committee, devoid of any legal powers, which will lack all credibility both in Israel and abroad??@

And, finally, the question of questions:

81. What is our political and military leadership trying to hide?


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Is it Dead Yet?

"There exists today widespread propaganda which asserts that socialism is dead. But if to be a socialist is to be a person convinced that the words 'the common good' and 'social justice' actually mean something; if to be a socialist is to be outraged at the contempt in which millions and millions of people are held by those in power, by 'market forces', by international financial institutions; if to be a socialist is to be a person determined to do everything in his or her power to alleviate these unforgivably degraded lives, then socialism can never be dead because these aspirations never die." - Harold Pinter

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


by PM&I correspondent Rick Congress

According to the Israeli government, its PR agency aka The New York Times, ardent Zionists, and holders of elective office standing in mortal fear of AIPAC, the trump argument is always "they don't recognize Israel's right to exist. You can't negotiate, have trade with, countenance, deal with...Them. Them, being the Palestinians, Hamas, Iran, all the Arabs, anti-Zionists, self-hating Jews...whoever is the target of the latest polemic.

Does "right to exist" have any standing under international law? Is a condition of enduring existedness the right of every state or government? The best answer to this question is another question.

"The right to exist? With what borders? To exist as a permanently expansionist state that also has to right to steal land from the Palestinians, who make up about half of the total population currently under the de facto jurisdiction of the ontologically needy state of Israel.

Don't the Palestinian people have a right to exist as a People? The national/Zionist ideology followed by Israel's government and also, it seems, by the majority of the Jews of Israel is based on negating the existence of the Palestinians. How about some existential reciprocity here?

In most states a citizen is a citizen, case closed. But in Israel citizenship doesn't have much standing. 20% of the citizens of Israel are Palestinians. They aren't Jews so they don't really count. Netanyahu el al harp on Israel as a Jewish state, for all the Jews of the world. When the Palestinians don't swear fealty to the state of all the Jews, who want to get rid of them, they are denying Israels "right to exist." they have to deny their right to exist because Israel's right to exist, according to the Zionist regime, depends on the Palestinians not existing.

Artists who refuse to perform in Israel until they stop stealing land from Palestinians and indiscriminately killing them, among other things, are "cultural terrorists" who pose an "existential threat" to Israel.

Did the Apartheid state of South Africa have a right to exist? Most of the world came around to the conclusion that it didn't. It was abolished and now there is a newly created state of South Africa.

Abraham Lincoln and the United States of America didn't concede a right to exist to the Confederate States of America. Was that wrong?

How about Czechoslovakia? Yugoslavia? both in a current state of not existing.

Then there's another aspect of this issue: REALITY.


Hamas has stated publicly and several times that it doesn't recognize Israel as a legitimate" state. But it does see the obvious, that it does exist whether Hamas likes it or not.

Hamas has also said publicly many times that they would sign a 30 year truce with Israel and would go along with a two-state solution if the majority of Palestinians voted for it.

The much ignored fact is that Hamas and Israel observed a ceasefire for six months June to November of 2008 (no rockets fired and no Israeli air or ground attacks--which had been constant in the years before the Gaza Invasion of December 2008). The truce ended when the IDF staged a ground attack in November 2008 and killed six Gazans. Then rockets were fired and the all out massacre of Gaza by Israel began in December.

If Israel wanted peace and two states it would take Hamas up on its truce and two state offers. but no, first Hamas has to declare that Israel and all of the land of Greater Israel is the Jewish only state. Not only do they have to declare it they have to have it tatooed on their face and cut off their big toe. And if they agree to this, then Israel will think of new demands.

Israel just isn't happy unless it has an existential threat to keep their adrenaline pumping.

Yet More Evidence of Israel's "vibrant" democracy at work

Arab MP is Israel’s public enemy No1

Jonathan Cook, Foreign Correspondent

* Last Updated: June 07. 2010 11:27PM UAE / June 7. 2010 7:27PM GMT

Haneen Zoubi has become a national hate figure in Israel.

Jonathan cook . The National

Nazareth, Israel // An Israeli parliamentary committee recommended stripping an Arab MP of her privileges yesterday in a move to prepare the ground for putting her on trial for participating last week in the Gaza-bound aid flotilla attacked by Israeli commandos.

Haneen Zoubi, who has become a national hate figure since challenging Israel’s account of the confrontation, said yesterday she was facing “a witch-hunt”.
The interior minister, Eli Yishai, has submitted a request for her citizenship to be revoked, and a bill – labelled the “Zoubi Law” – is being considered that would allow a serving MP to be expelled for “inciting” against the state.

Ms Zoubi has been provided with a bodyguard after receiving a spate of death threats. A popular Facebook page in Hebrew is calling for her execution and an online petition for her expulsion from the parliament has attracted tens of thousands of supporters.

Last week, in unprecedented scenes as she tried to address parliament, Ms Zoubi was heckled into silence by Jewish legislators shouting out “terrorist” and “traitor”. Guards only narrowly prevented a far-right parliamentarian from attacking her.

Yesterday’s hearing of the parliament’s house committee was originally intended to consider revoking the immunity of six Arab MPs, including Ms Zoubi, who travelled to Libya in April. All the Arab MPs boycotted the meeting.

However, the committee chairman, Yariv Levin, of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, switched the focus to Ms Zoubi’s involvement in the flotilla.

Legal advisers said the MP was still being investigated for attempting to enter a closed military area and violence against the commandos. After she disembarked from the Mavi Marmara in Ashdod last week, Ms Zoubi said she had been questioned by police about possessing a weapon.

The committee approved by a majority of 7-1 stripping her of parliamentary privileges that take away her diplomatic passport, reportedly to prevent her fleeing the country, and withdraw help with litigation fees. Parliament must approve the decision.

Mr Levin accused Ms Zoubi of betraying the country and said she must be put on trial. “What Zoubi did crossed the line and even in a democracy there must be red lines. Whoever sails to Hamas is a supporter of terror,” he said.
Ms Zoubi responded: “They conducted a kangaroo court against me. They have called on the public to harm me.”

An editorial in the liberal Haaretz newspaper warned yesterday that an atmosphere of “dangerous incitement” against Israel’s Palestinian minority was developing. Two other Arab members of parliament, Ahmed Tibi and Taleb al Sana, revealed that they too had received death threats.

In addition to the removal of Ms Zoubi’s privileges, she is also facing the revocation of her citizenship. The measure has been used only twice before in Israel’s history – both times against Palestinian citizens accused of terrorism.

Last week, Mr Yishai wrote to the attorney general asking for the go-ahead, saying Ms Zoubi had “headed a group of terrorists” and was “undoubtedly aware of the activists’ preparations for the attack against IDF troops.

Orna Kohn, a lawyer with Adalah, a legal centre for the country’s Palestinian minority, said Mr Yishai’s move was “uncharted legal territory” that could leave Ms Zoubi stateless, in violation of international law. “There is simply no precedent for revoking the citizenship of an MP,” she said.

After Ms Zoubi’s release last week, she said she had seen three passengers shot in the head by soldiers, and two more left to bleed to death. Ms Zoubi has called for an international investigation.

Monday, June 7, 2010



by Rick Congress

The remarks by Helen Thomas, who is Lebanese-American, while intemperate and tactless, ring true. They are not outrageous, but factually correct and morally correct. The Jewish Israelis (20% of Israeli citizens are Arab Palestinians, but they have, at best, a second class citizenship) ARE outside invaders from the Western world (USA, UK, Russia, Poland, etc). This colonialist population came with the mindset of arrogant Westerners to displace the "primitive" Arabs and create a European/American society in which they would be the bosses.

And they DID come from somewhere else. Over the last 2000 years the Jewish people and their culture has become rooted in European and American society. Israelis are IN the Mideast but are not and don't want to be OF the Mideast. The Zionist project began in Europe with Hertzl's idea of an exclusively Jewish state. The founders who went to Palestine 40 or 50 years before World War Two, like Ben Gurion and his colegues, came from Germany and Poland other parts of Europe.

What would happen to someone like Thomas who made a public statement deemed offensive to Arabs? or Palestinians? Yes, you are right. Nothing.

-------------------------------------------------(excerpted from Reuters)
Veteran White House journalist Helen Thomas, who has covered every U.S. president since John F. Kennedy, announced her retirement Monday.

The departure of Thomas, 89, as a Hearst Newspapers columnist was announced after she was captured on video saying Israelis should "get the hell out of Palestine" and suggesting they go "home" to Germany, Poland or the United States.
The comments drew widespread condemnation, including from the White House.
Thomas, long considered the dean of the White House press corps, apologized for her statements, recorded in an impromptu interview dated May 27 and posted on a website (excerpted from Reuters)

Ha'aretz Article on Israeli laws to "purify" Israel


Published 21:44 03.06.10

A scandalous web of laws
A series of bills is meant to 'cleanse' Israel's history and geography of non-Jewish and non-Zionist elements
By Nurit Gertz

Former Knesset member Arie "Lova" Eliav died on Sunday. On that same day, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a proposed law aimed at granting study privileges, employment and allocation of land to those who serve in the army or do national service - "so as to prevent the shirking of duties and to show the state's appreciation to those citizens who are faithful and serve it." The following day, nine people who were on the flotilla to the Gaza Strip were killed by Israeli naval commandos.

These three events incorporate an entire story: The Israel of Lova Eliav no longer exists; another Israel has taken its place and it is continuing to establish itself by means of a series of rational and calculated bills intended to reformulate the Israeli identity and build its geography and history anew.

The proposed legislation acts like the spectacular momentum seen in two swings of a pendulum - one reduces Israeli identity and ejects from it anything that does not belong to the Jewish core, while the second works to expand this same reduced Jewish identity vis-a-vis the entire world. It is possible to laugh at these bills, to be angry and accusative, or one can be impressed with the exemplary order in which these two movements, layer after layer, law after law, have been created.

First and foremost, an attempt is being made in these proposed laws to "cleanse" the geography - to the extent that this is possible - of what is not Jewish or not Zionist. A proposed law about acceptance committees for residential communities is aimed at precisely that: to empower such bodies in rural communities to disqualify prospective homeowners who do not meet a number of requirements. These would include the extent to which the candidate is suited to the way of life and social fabric of the community, as well as his or her compatibility with the basic viewpoints of the residents as defined in the community's regulations. The proposed law is intended "to uphold the ability to fulfill the Zionist vision and put it into practice" - as one of its initiators, MK Israel Hasson (Kadima ), defines it. In the most obvious manner, the proposal strives to prevent from joining these communities anyone who does not recognize the Zionist vision, or in other words, anyone who is Arab.

And while Jewish geography is being shut off to Arab citizens, the Arabic geography is being pushed aside as well. The rejection of a suggested law for an egalitarian allocation of state lands is testimony to this. That bill, which was sponsored by MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al), was aimed at correcting the situation in which, over the course of many years, the state has not approved master plans for Arab communities, has not allocated them lands nor created any new communities.

Together with the so-called cleansing of Israeli geography, these laws try to cleanse Israeli history. The framers of two other laws - the "Nakba law" and the law that seeks to inculcate the heritage of Rehavam Ze'evi - have this purpose in mind: They wish to leave the Israeli expanse free of the memory and history of the Arabs who live there.

The Nakba law is intended, on its face, to reduce the scope of support for bodies that are responsible for activity that negates the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state - for example, by marking Independence Day, the day of the state's revival, with ceremonies of mourning. In actual fact, its aim is to outlaw the Arab Palestinian historical memory altogether. Parallel to this, the proposed law for commemorating Rehavam Ze'evi's heritage is intended to strengthen that same history, from which the Arabs will already have been removed by the Nakba law, by means of perpetuating the very heritage of the murdered right-wing MK and minister: the heritage of transfer.

Other laws are aimed at strengthening Jewish existence at the expense of the Arab population by persistently denying the culture, language, education and welfare of the latter. This, for example, is the aim of the transportation minister's proposal to remove the Arabic names of places from road signs; the bill not to accept candidates who have not served in the army or done national service to universities that receive government support; the rejection of proposed laws that would set up universities in areas heavily populated by Arabs; and another bill would curtail study, work and land rights for citizens who have not done military service.

Thus it is that, after the Jewish existence in Israel has been established and cleansed, and the foreign elements have been removed, lawmakers can turn their attention to expanding and strengthening the former while imposing their rule over spaces outside the State of Israel. That is the reason, for example, for the proposed law to give Israeli citizens living outside the country the right to vote there. This in effect would lead to the creation of Israeli polling booths all over the world and enable Israeli emigres to vote in elections and, with Jews in the Diaspora, help determine the identity and fate of a Greater Israel that encompasses the entire globe - an Israel that permits itself to jeopardize itself by shooting civilians and ignoring the non-Jewish and non-Israeli world's reaction to this.

This web of proposed laws should have shocked and scandalized anyone who cares about injustices being done to others, anyone for whom the negation of the existence of his fellow man seems wrong, as a Jew and a human being, and anyone who believes that it is the nature of laws of this kind not to stop where they are now. Along these lines, perhaps it is now fitting to once again reiterate the well-known quotation attributed to the German pastor Martin Niemoller:

When they came for the communists,

I did not speak out because I am not a communist;

When they came for the socialists,

I did not speak out because I am not a socialist;

When they came for the Catholics, I did not speak out because I am not a Catholic;

And when they came for me,

there was no one left to speak out.

eyewitness recount of Israeli attack on Mavi Marmara

From Jamal Elshayyal's blog

Kidnapped by Israel, forsaken by Britain
By Jamal Elshayyal in

* Middle East

on June 6th, 2010

Firstly I must apologise for taking so long to update my blog. The events of the past few days have been hectic to say the least, and I am still trying to come to grips with many of the things that have happened.

It was this time last week that I was on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara, and first spotted Israeli war ships in the distance, as they approached the humanitarian flotilla. Little did I know how deadly and bloody were the events that soon began to unfold.

What I will write in this entry is fact, every letter of it, none of it is opinion, none of it is analysis, and I will leave that to you, the reader.

After spotting the warships at a distance, (at roughly 11pm) the organisers called for passengers to wear their life vests and remain indoors as they monitored the situation. The naval war ships together with helicopters remained in the distance for several hours.

At 2am local time the organisers informed me that they had re-routed the ship, as far away from Israel as possible, as deep into international waters as they could. They did not want a confrontation with the Israeli military, at least not by night.

Just after 4am local time, the Israeli military attacked the ship, in international waters, and totally unprovoked. Tear gas was used, sound grenades were launched, and rubber coated steel bullets were fired from almost every direction.

Dozens of speed boats carrying on average of 15-20 masked Israeli soldiers, armed to the teeth surrounded the Mavi Marmara which was carrying 600 or so unarmed civilians. Two helicopters at a time hovered above the vessel. Commandos on board the choppers joined the firing, using live ammunition, before any of the soldiers had descended onto the ship.

Two unarmed civilians were killed just meters away from me. Dozens of unarmed civilians were injured right before my eyes.

One Israeli soldier, armed with a large automatic gun and a side pistol, was overpowered by several passengers. They disarmed him. They did not use his weapons or fire them; instead they threw his weapons over board and into the sea.

After what seemed at the time as roughly 30 minutes, passengers on board the ship raised a white flag. The Israeli army continued to fire live ammunition. The ships organisers made a loud speaker announcement saying they have surrendered the ship. The Israeli army continued to fire live ammunition.

I was the last person to leave the top deck.

Below, inside the sleeping quarters, all the passengers had gathered. There was shock, anger, fear, hurt, chaos.

Doctors ran in all directions trying to treat the wounded, blood was on the floor, tears ran down people’s faces, cries of pain and mourning could be heard everywhere. Death was in the air.

Three critically injured civilians were being treated on the ground in the reception area of the ship. Their clothes soaked in blood. Passengers stood by watching in shock, some read out verses of the Qur’an to calm them, doctors worked in despair to save them.

Several announcements were made on the load speakers in Hebrew, Arabic and English - "This is a message to the Israeli army, we have surrendered. We are unarmed. We have critically injured people. Please come and take them. We will not attack."

There was no response.

One of the passengers, a member of the Israeli Parliament wrote a sign in Hebrew, reading the exact same thing; she held it together with a white flag and approached the windows where the Israeli soldiers were standing outside. The pointed their laser guided guns to her head, ushered her to go away.

A British citizen tried the same sign only this time holding a British Flag and taking the sign to a different set of windows and different set of soldiers. They responded in the same manner.

Three hours later, all three of the injured were pronounced dead. The Israeli soldiers who refused to allow them treatment succeeded where their colleagues had earlier failed when they targeted these three men with bullets.

At around 8am the Israeli army entered the sleeping quarters. They handcuffed the passengers. I was thrown onto the ground, my hands tied behind my back, I couldn’t move an inch.

I was taken to the top deck where the other passengers were, forced to sit on my knees under the burning sun.

One passenger had his hands tied so tight his wrists were all sorts of colours. When he requested that the cuffs be loosened, an Israeli soldier tightened them even more. He let out a scream that sent chills down my body.

I requested to go to the bathroom, I was prevented, instead the Israeli soldier told me to urinate where I was and in my own clothes. Three or four hours later I was allowed to go.

I was then marched, together with the other passengers, back to the sleeping quarters. The place was ransacked, its image like that of the aftermath of an earthquake.

I remained on the ship, seated, without any food or drink bar three sips of water for more than 24 hours. Throughout this time, Israeli soldiers had their guns pointed at us. Their hands on the trigger. For more than 24 hours.

I was then taken off the ship at Ashdod where I was asked to sign a deportation order, it claimed that I had entered Israel illegally and agreed to be deported. I told the officer that I, in fact, had not entered Israel but that the Israeli army had kidnapped me from international waters and brought me to Israel against my will; therefore I could not sign this document.

My passport was taken from me. I was told that I would go to jail.

Only then were my hands freed, I spent more than 24 hours with my hands cuffed behind my back, with nothing to eat, and barely anything to drink.

Upon arrival at the prison I was put in a cell with three other passengers. The cell was roughly 12ft by 9ft.

I spent more than 24 hours in jail. I was not allowed to make a single phone call.

The British consulate did not come and see me. I did not see a lawyer.

There was no hot water for a shower.

The only meal was frozen bread and some potatoes.

The only reason I believe I was released was because the Turkish prisoners refused to leave until and unless the other nationalities (those whose consulates had not come and released them) were set free.

I was taken to Ben Gurion airport. When I asked for my passport, the Israeli official presented me with a piece of paper and said "congratulations this is your new passport". I replied "you must be joking, you have my passport". The Israeli official's response: "sue me".

There I was asked again to sign a deportation order. Again I refused.

I was put on a plane headed to Istanbul.

Masked Israeli soldiers and commandos took me from international waters.

Uniformed Israeli officials locked me behind bars.

The British government did not lift a finger to help me, till this day I have not seen or heard from a British official.

The Israeli government stole my passport.

The Israeli government stole my lap top, two cameras, 3 phones, $1500 and all my possessions.

My government, the British government has not even acknowledged my existence.

I was kidnapped by Israel. I was forsaken by my country.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Article from The Independent questions Israel's version of the attack on the Mavi Marmara

The hijacking of the truth: Film evidence 'destroyed'

Protesters say Israel had an assassination list. Israel says soldiers fired only in self-defense.
From the UK newspaper, The Independent

So what really happened on 31 May? Catrina Stewart reports

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Jamal Elshayyal, a journalist with al-Jazeera, woke with a start to the opening salvos of an Israeli assault that would transform the decks of the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish vessel bound for Gaza, into a bloodbath.

From the ship's position deep in international waters, satellite images of Israeli speedboats and helicopters approaching the vessel were beamed across the globe before communications were abruptly cut off, leaving the events on the Marmara to unfold away from the eyes of the world.

Six days after the bloody assault that left nine foreign protesters, mainly Turks, dead, nobody can recount with any conviction precisely what happened that night. The convoy of ships, whose passengers included writers, politicians and journalists, had been expected for weeks, with organisers loudly broadcasting their plans to run Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip and draw international attention to the situation there.

From the beginning, it was clear that Israeli forces were concentrating in their largest numbers on the Marmara, a ship carrying some 550 peace activists. The remaining five boats were much smaller and easily commandeered. After the Marmara was subdued, the passengers silenced, and their recording equipment confiscated, Israel disseminated a carefully choreographed account of the events that night that would dominate the airwaves for the first 48 hours.

Only as eyewitnesses, traumatized by their experiences, started to return to their home countries, were serious questions raised about the veracity of the Israeli version of events. Israeli commandos initiated the attack on the Marmara with stun grenades, paintballs and rubber-cased steel bullets. They were met with water hoses as the ship's passengers tried to form a defensive cordon to prevent soldiers from reaching the wheelhouse. Next, the helicopters started their approach, hovering overhead as they tried to disgorge commandos.

From the other ships, passengers looked on helplessly: "The worst thing was seeing the helicopter come up because I knew they were going to invade," said Ewa Jasiewicz, a 32-year-old organizer. "You could hear the screams when they started shooting ... We wanted to stop and go back but there wouldn't have been anything we could have done."

From the moment the helicopters arrived, the sequence of events becomes confused. The dizzying number of claims and counter-claims serves only to present an incomplete account of a military operation that went badly, badly wrong. More than 1.7 million viewers have pored over the edited YouTube footage posted by the Israeli navy since Wednesday. In the dramatic clip, commandos rappel down on to the deck from a helicopter, where they are met by angry activists armed with iron bars and sticks.

This is a critical point, for Israel has rallied domestic opinion on the crucial claim that its soldiers dropped into a meticulously planned riot for which they were completely unprepared. Panicked, they acted in self-defence after they landed, shooting only those who threatened them.

The video is problematic, though. The images of angry protesters are striking, but they lack context. What happened before? What happened next? Had the soldiers started shooting when they descended to the deck? The only account offered by the Israelis of what happened next is left to Staff Sergeant S, a commando who claims he shot six of the protesters.

The last of 15 to arrive on the deck, he said he saw that two of his colleagues had gunshot wounds. Pushing others into a protective cordon around the injured soldiers, he shot at the protesters to force them to fall back. It's a neat account, but several eyewitness accounts tell a very different story.

Mr Elshayyal, a reporter for the Arab channel al-Jazeera, was standing to one side of the ship and had a view of the front and back of the vessel when the fighting started. By his account, soldiers fired down on the protesters from the helicopters before an Israeli soldier had even set foot on the ship. A man next to him was shot through the top of his head, dying instantly.

"What I saw were shots being fired from the helicopter above and moments later from below – from the ships," Mr Elshayyal said. "As far as I am concerned, it's a lie to say they only started shooting on deck."

At least two other eyewitnesses saw soldiers firing from above the ships before they landed on the Marmara's deck. It is possible that this is what prompted the fierce resistance to the soldiers when they dropped down. Several passengers recount how organisers urged their peers to stop hitting the soldiers, aware of how it would harm their claim to be peaceful protesters.

Others on the ship claim they raised a white flag, but say that it was ignored. They also used a loudspeaker to reiterate their message of surrender and requested that the injured be taken off the ship to get medical assistance. Again, they were ignored.

At some point early on, the activists dragged three, possibly four, injured soldiers to a lower deck, either to keep as hostages or for their own safety. It was then, several passengers say, that the situation quickly deteriorated. Israel has insisted that the protesters took two of the soldiers' pistols and used them, but others claim the pistols were taken away to prove that Israel planned to use live rounds.

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

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

When Israeli troops had subdued the ship, they rounded up the passengers, bound their wrists, in some cases forcing activists into stress positions, and prevented them from using toilets. Mr Elshayyal said he was given just three sips of water before he was taken off the ship more than 24 hours later.

Their ordeal, of course, was not yet over. Accused of entering Israel illegally, the captives were transferred to an Israeli prison, where many were held in cramped cells and denied phone calls. Furious, Turkey sent three planes to transport the activists out of Israel, threatening to sever all diplomatic ties if they were not all released.

Meanwhile, much of the video footage confiscated from Marmara passengers remains undisclosed, and Israel has sought to undermine some eyewitness accounts by alleging some of the passengers were terrorist sympathisers bent on martyrdom.

Questions remain unanswered on both sides. But without a full and transparent airing of all the evidence, the truth of that dreadful night on the Marmara may never come to light.

In the meantime, the organisers say they will seek again and again to breach Israel's defences. Scottish protester Ali El-Awaisi said: "We sent six ships this time. Next time it will be 30 ships."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Glen Greenwald skewers shameless Israeli apologist on MSNBC

a poem by Ghassan Hage

I don’t write poems but, in any case, poems are not poems
Ghassan Hage

Long ago, I was made to understand that Palestine was not Palestine ;
I was also informed that Palestinians were not Palestinians;
They also explained to me that ethnic cleansing was not ethnic cleansing.
And when naive old me saw freedom fighters
they patiently showed me that they were not freedom fighters,
and that resistance was not resistance.
And when, stupidly, I noticed arrogance, oppression and humiliation
they benevolently enlightened me so I can see that arrogance was not arrogance,
oppression was not oppression, and humiliation was not humiliation.
I saw misery, racism, inhumanity and a concentration camp.
But they told me that they were experts
in misery, racism, inhumanity and concentrations camps
and I have to take their word for it:
this was not misery, racism, inhumanity and a concentrations camp.
Over the years they’ve taught me so many things:
invasion was not invasion, occupation was not occupation,
colonialism was not colonialism and apartheid was not apartheid…
They opened my simple mind to even more complex truths
that my poor brain could not on its own compute like:
‘having nuclear weapons’ was not ‘having nuclear weapons’,
‘not having weapons of mass destruction’ was ‘having weapons of mass destruction’.
And, democracy (in the Gaza strip) was not democracy.
Having second class citizens (in Israel ) was democracy.
So you’ll excuse me if I am not surprised to learn today
that there were more things that I thought were evident that are not:
peace activists are not peace activists, piracy is not piracy,
the massacre of unarmed people is not the massacre of unarmed people.
I have such a limited brain and my ignorance is unlimited.
And they’re so fucking intelligent. Really.




When Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939 did the New York Times say "German troops were shocked that the Poles shot at them and reluctantly were forced to kill them all. These Poles are extremists!

If Netanyahu walked through East Jerusalem with a pistol and randomly shot ten Palestinian children,the U.S. news media would find a way to justify it. "These children provoked him! They constituted an existential threat to Israel because they didn't wear T-shirts saying: "Israel has a right to exist, and I don't."

When is an attack not an attack? Just ask the U.S. media and the Obama administration. When Israel attacks a civilian ship in international waters it's an act of love and peace. When those who are attacked fight back against piracy it's terrorism, violence. Enough already!
Civilized nations should shun Israel. Johnny Depp's got nothing on Obama. Obama and Netanyatu are the reigning champion Pirates of the Mediterranean.