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  Tuesday   June 1   2010


Sunday Zoe and I went to my mother's 90th birthday. (More later.) My mother's favorite book is Exodus by Leon Uris. We bought her a new paperback, a signed card by Leon Uris and a first edition hardback signed by Leon Uris. She was thrilled. I didn't have the heart to tell her the book was pretty one-sided propaganda. At 90 she can read whatever she wants. But the heart of Exodus was a true incident that changed the tide for the future Israel. It was 1947 and a ship named Exodus tried to break the British blockade of Palestine to bring a boatload of Holocaust survivors to Palestine. In 1947 what is now Israel was the Mandate of Palestine run by the British and the Jewish terrorists were getting out of hand. Britain was trying to control the influx of Jews. They rammed and boarded the Exodus killing three and wounding many and ended up sending the Holocaust survivors back to Germany. This created a huge international incident and the Jews in Palestine played it to their benefit. It turned the tide for the Palestinian Jews and paved the way for the recognition of Israel in 1948.

History can be a spiral. The Palestinians now have their Exodus: the Mavi Marmara. A flotilla of vessels loaded with humanitarian aid for Gaza was boarded in international waters and somewhere between 10 and 20 were killed by attacking Israeli commandos. Of course only the United States is not condemning this war crime.

Historic UNSC Condemnation of Israel, and of Gaza Blockade;
World Body Demands release of Aid Activists, Ships

"In a rare public denunciation of Israel, the United Nations Security Council on Monday condemned the Israeli raid on the Gaza aid flotilla and deplored the loss of innocent life that attended it. The world body insisted that Israel immediately release the 480 humanitarians it had taken captive, and demanded that it also let their ships go. The UNSC also instructed Israel to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip, calling the siege “not sustainable.” Although the statement was weaker than the text urged by Turkey and the Arab world, it was brutal compared to the anodyne language usually insisted upon by Washington when it comes to Israel.

"This development is head-spinning in its implications. The United States almost never allows UNSC resolutions condemning Israel to go forward (though this text was admittedly a presidential statement rather than a full resolution). But here it is clear that President Barack Obama instructed his ambassador to the UN to join in the condemnation of the Israeli “acts.” Since Turkey is currently a non-permanent member of the UNSC and led the charge on the condemnation of Israel, it is possible that the US felt it had to trade horses with Ankara if it has any chance of still getting a UNSC resolution tightening sanctions on Iran (a step that Turkey opposes, as does Brazil, though neither has a veto). It is also possible that Israel’s rash attack has sabotaged the Obama administration’s push for increased UN sanctions on Iran, hardening opposition to an Israel-driven policy toward Tehran.

"The UN Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs, Argentina’s Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, gave us some idea of the UNSC’s thinking when he called on Israel on Monday to end its “counterproductive” and “unacceptable” blockade of the Gaza Strip. He pointed out that the fiasco around the Israeli commando attack on the civilian aid flotilla would not have occurred had there been no blockade in the first place. The demand that Israel give up the siege of Gaza was repeated by the United Kingdom and by Brazil. (Nick Clegg, the new LibDem deputy prime minister of the UK, has long been a vocal critic of Israeli policies toward the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza.)

"As long as Israel, therefore, continues its blockade of the general Gaza population, it is no less in contravention of the United Nations Security Council instructions than Saddam Hussein was with regard to his weapons programs in the early 1990s."


America's Complicity in Evil
Barbarism on the High Seas

"As I write at 5pm on Monday, May 31, all day has passed since the early morning reports of the Israeli commando attack on the unarmed ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, and there has been no response from President Obama except to say that he needed to learn “all the facts about this morning’s tragic events” and that Israeli prime minister Netanyahu had canceled his plans to meet with him at the White House. Thus has Obama made America complicit once again in Israel’s barbaric war crimes. Just as the US Congress voted to deep-six Judge Goldstone’s report on Israel’s war crimes committed in Israel’s January 2009 invasion of Gaza, Obama has deep-sixed Israel’s latest act of barbarism by pretending that he doesn’t know what has happened.

"No one in the world will believe that Israel attacked ships in international waters carrying Israeli citizens, a Nobel Laureate, elected politicians, and noted humanitarians bringing medicines and building materials to Palestinians in Gaza, who have been living in the rubble of their homes without repairs or medicines since January 2009, without first clearing the crime with its American protector. Without America’s protection, Israel, a totally artificial state, could not exist. No one in the world will believe that America’s spy apparatus did not detect the movement of the Israeli attack force toward the aid ships in international waters in an act of piracy, killing 20, wounding 50, and kidnapping the rest. Obama’s pretense at ignorance confirms his complicity.

"Once again the US government has permitted the Israeli state to murder good people known for their moral conscience. The Israeli state has declared that anyone with a moral conscience is an enemy of Israel, and every American president except Eisenhower and Carter has agreed.

"Obama’s 12-hour silence in the face of extreme barbarity is his signal to the controlled corporate media to remain on the sidelines until Israeli propaganda sets the story. "


Flotillas and the Wars of Public Opinion

"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 Legal Position on the Israeli Attack

"A word on the legal position, which is very plain. To attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal. It is not piracy, as the Israeli vessels carried a military commission. It is rather an act of illegal warfare.

"Because the incident took place on the high seas does not mean however that international law is the only applicable law. The Law of the Sea is quite plain that, when an incident takes place
on a ship on the high seas (outside anybody's territorial waters) the applicable law is that of the flag state of the ship on which the incident occurred. In legal terms, the Turkish ship was Turkish territory.

"There are therefore two clear legal possibilities.

"Possibility one is that the Israeli commandos were acting on behalf of the government of Israel in killing the activists on the ships. In that case Israel is in a position of war with Turkey, and the act falls under international jurisdiction as a war crime.

"Possibility two is that, if the killings were not authorised Israeli military action, they were acts of murder under Turkish jurisdiction. If Israel does not consider itself in a position of war with Turkey, then it must hand over the commandos involved for trial in Turkey under Turkish law.

"In brief, if Israel and Turkey are not at war, then it is Turkish law which is applicable to what happened on the ship. It is for Turkey, not Israel, to carry out any inquiry or investigation into events and to initiate any prosecutions. Israel is obliged to hand over indicted personnel for prosecution."


What does Israel fear from media coverage?

"Isn't it strange how Plucky, Democratic Israel goes to such extreme lengths to prevent any media coverage of what they do, any journalistic interference with their propaganda machine, in light of the fact that -- as always -- They Did Absolutely Nothing Wrong? Is physically blocking the media from covering what happens the act of a government that is in the right? Thomas Jefferson answered that question quite some time ago:

"Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues of truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is freedom of the press. It is therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions.

"Israel is now not only detaining the victims of its aggression, but also threatening to prosecute and imprison them. Israeli Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said yesterday: "All those who lifted a hand against a soldier will be punished to the full extent of the law." So when Israel seizes ships in international waters and kills anyone who resists (and others standing near them), that is an act of noble, plucky self-defense. But those who fail to submit completely to this lawless and barbarous act of aggression are the Real Criminals who will be prosecuted and imprisoned "to the fullest extent of the law." In other words, not only is Israel -- which seized ships in international waters and killed civilians -- the Real Victim, but the Real Criminals are those on the ship. But doesn't the victim of a crime usually want media coverage of what the criminal did? How odd for the victim in this case to take such extreme steps to ensure that the world cannot hear from the witnesses."


Activists on Gaza aid flotilla talk of beatings, stun guns during raid by Israeli forces

"Pro-Palestinian activists returning to Europe said Israeli commandos used stun guns on passengers and beat them during the deadly raid on an aid flotilla that was trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza. One woman said her aid ship "turned into a lake of blood."

"Five Germans, six Greeks and several others — among them a Turkish woman and her 1-year-old baby — were released Tuesday, but Israel barred access to hundreds of other activists seized during the raid Monday that killed at least nine people and wounded dozens.

"Israel sent commandos onto six ships carrying nearly 700 activists, and there have been conflicting accounts of what happened during the assault. Both sides claim to have been attacked by the other and so far it is not possible to reconcile those claims. Most of those killed were aboard the Turkish-flagged ship Mavi Marmara.

"Norman Paech, a former member of Germany's Left Party who was aboard the Marmara, said the ship was surrounded by small Israeli assault boats about 4:30 a.m. Monday morning.

" "Moments later, we heard detonations and then soldiers from helicopters above us dropped down on board," Paech said. "The soldiers were all masked, carrying big guns and were extremely brutal." "


Echoes of Raid on ‘Exodus’ Ship in 1947

"To some Israeli observers, it was impossible to miss the parallels between Monday’s killing of pro-Palestinian activists by Israel’s military in international waters, as commandos intercepted a flotilla of ships trying to break the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza, and a seminal event in the Jewish struggle for an independent homeland."


Turkey has said that they will provide a naval escort for the next humanitarian flotilla to Gaza.

 10:08 AM - link