MV Rachel Corrie Sets Sail

FreeGaza- 14 May 2010 – At 22:45 local time tonight, the MV Rachel Corrie, a 1200-ton cargo ship, part of the eight-vessel Freedom Flotilla, set sail from Ireland on its way to the Mediterranean Sea. There, ships from Turkey and Greece will join her, then sail to Gaza.

This past week reports from Israel have indicated that the Israeli authorities will not allow the Freedom Flotilla to reach Gaza with its cargo of much-needed reconstruction material, medical equipment, and school supplies. According to Israeli news sources, clear orders have been issued to prevent the ships from reaching Gaza, even if this necessitates military violence.

The Free Gaza Movement, which has launched eight other sea missions to Gaza, confirms that Israel has tried these kinds of threats and intimidation tactics before in order to try to stop the missions before they start. “They have not deterred us before and will not deter us now,” said one of the organizers.

Ship to Gaza — Sweden, a Freedom Flotilla coalition partner, together with parliamentarian Mehmet Kaplan (Green Party) yesterday asked for an audience with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Carl Bildt, to discuss what measures the Swedish government and the European Union will take to protect the Freedom Flotilla’s peaceful, humanitarian voyage. Earlier this week during a meeting with the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza – another coalition partner, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyib Erdogan expressed his support for “breaking the oppressive siege on the Gaza Strip…which is at the top of Turkey’s list of priorities.“

Coalition partners, Ship to Gaza – Greece and the Turkish relief organization IHH, stressed that the ships, passengers, and cargo will be checked at each port of departure, making it clear that we constitute no security threat to Israel.

Israel’s threats to attack unarmed civilians aboard vessels carrying reconstruction aid are outrageous and indicative of the cruel and violent nature of Israel’s policies towards Gaza. The Freedom Flotilla is acting in line with universal principals of human rights and justice in defying a blockade identified as illegal by the UN and other humanitarian organizations. Palestinians in Gaza have a right to the thousands of basic supplies that Israel bans from entering, including cement and schoolbooks, as well as a right to access the outside world. The Freedom Flotilla coalition calls on all signatories to the Fourth Geneva Conventions to pressure Israel to adhere to its obligations under international humanitarian law, to end the lethal blockade on Gaza, and to refrain from attacking this peaceful convoy.

Confederacy of Bigots

Max Blumenthal via Mondoweiss, excerpt-

In the days leading up to Israeli Apartheid Week’s opening event at Columbia University, leading anti-Muslim blogger Pam Geller posted an image of an SS officer with the name of one of the event’s speakers, Ben White, emblazoned on his uniform. (The image recalled placards held by far-right settlers depicting Yitzhak Rabin in an SS uniform just days before he was assassinated.) Geller was among the crowd at the Columbia event, making sure to catch White’s eye as he walked to the podium to speak. He told me that she mouthed to him, “You’re a Nazi.” The day after the event, Geller posted another characteristically juvenile screed describing White as “Nazi boy.”

On the same day Geller posted her smear of White, she promoted a rally in defense of the Dutch anti-Muslim extremist Geert Wilders by the English Defense League (EDL) (Wilders has called for a “head rag tax” on Muslim women who wear hijab).

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I’m not sure how Randroid Geller makes Ben White a Nazi while the EDL are her heroes being as he supports the human rights of all those in Palestine & Israel (as opposed to say an ethno-religious apartheid state that is ethnically cleansing Palestine) and the EDL are… erm your standard common or garden fascist thugs. Once again we see they have no actual arguments they just have violence and hysterical propaganda, or as it’s more commonly known The-War-On-Terror™.

Your Friday day of protest is a full one-

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Posted in Anti-Racism, Bigots. Tags: . Comments Off

Invaders, Colonists…Settlers

(IPS) – A little village nestled in a valley between several hills in the Bethlehem governorate is today fighting for survival. All around Wadi Fuqin village on the outskirts of Bethlehem in the southern West Bank is the expanding and illegal Israeli settlement Beitar Illit, home to 35,000 settlers. The settlement is situated on a hill overlooking the little Palestinian village of 2,500.

Next to the settlement several mushrooming settler outposts together with Beitar form a semi-circle around Wadi Fuqin, closing in on it. While settlement construction booms and the number of settlers in Beitar and its outposts continues to swell, Palestinians in Wadi Fuqin are forbidden by the Israeli authorities from building new homes, or enlarging current ones to accommodate new generations.

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Bear in mind Bibi just basically told Obama to Fuck Off over stopping the illegal colonisation program. Did Obama then rethink US taxpayers money being given to Israel? No sign of such as yet. So US taxpayers continue to subsidise the invasion and apartheid.

Tales of Piracy

Husband and wife Adam Shapiro & Huwaida Arraf write about the Israeli piracy the led to them being assaulted, kidnapped and held in jail, the total lack of support from their own government and ponder how different Iran is treated. The first is Arraf in The Nation, and Shapiro gets to publish on the Huffington Post, (maybe beginning to realise it can no longer censor the truth about the apartheid in Israel), excerpts-

Huwaida Arraf:- We were boarded by force. Before we were separated, I saw Navy forces grabbing my husband, Adam, a filmmaker who has made documentaries from Palestine to Darfur, about the neck. Later, I learned that outside of my view, these government-sanctioned pirates pummeled Adam in order to wrest his videocamera from his grasp. Though I know it could not have been easy for him, Adam did not fight back. He was a multi-sport athlete in high school, threw out Manny Ramirez stealing second and is one of those rare individuals who bring a football player’s intensity to peace work. But like the rest of us, Adam insists on using nonviolent means to resist Israel’s military occupation. And though in his widely hailed Cairo speech President Obama made an implicit call for nonviolence as the means to challenge the Israeli occupation, the Obama administration made no public statement on our behalf — nor did it do so three months ago, when my dear friend Bassem Abu Rahme was killed while nonviolently protesting Israeli expansionism in the West Bank that threatens to destroy his village of Bil’in.

Perhaps we were politically inept. Had we sailed toward Iran to offer assistance to civilian protesters there, we would have been a cause celebre if the Iranian government had arrested us. Iran, however, for all its troubles, is not now under foreign occupation as Palestine is. Yet as I watched the demonstrations in Iran, I could not miss the similarities to Palestine’s nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation. I cannot count the times I have marched peacefully, waving a flag and demanding freedom for my people — with only my voice and my presence as my weapons. And sadly, the number of friends I have lost — killed by Israeli forces as, like Neda Agha-Soltan in Iran, they nonviolently demonstrated for freedom — is becoming too great a pain in my heart.

Adam Shapiro:- In a flurry of activity, we were boarded. Those of us with video cameras bore the brunt of the over-zealous navy forces. We were beaten to break our grasp on the video cameras. I have documented events from Afghanistan to Darfur to various locations around the Middle East, but until then I had never been physically attacked on account of my work. Israel’s military censor continues to hold the evidence and I expect never to retrieve it. With the evidence gone, much of the media have treated the event as though it never occurred. Instead of sailing into Gaza’s bombed and broken port, we were kidnapped at gunpoint, taken to a foreign country, and imprisoned. Instead of delivering toys to children in Azbet Abed Rabbo, where in February I met families living in tents (again) because their homes were left in rubble by Israel’s December-January invasion, we stood at attention for a prison guard to check our cell.

Even President Obama, who seemed so sincere in his Cairo speech, is imprisoned by the status quo of American-Israeli relations that bend American values and interest to the will of a state that is increasingly being labeled internationally with the brand of apartheid. One set of laws for Jews and one set of laws for Palestinians is unacceptable in the 21st century. Washington can only ignore the facts for so long when Israel’s housing minister states, “We can all be bleeding hearts, but I think it is unsuitable [for Jews and Palestinians] to live together [in Israel].”

Posted in Human Rights. Tags: , , , , , . Comments Off

Viva Palestina Make It Through to Gaza

Adam Horowitz @ Mondoweiss-

Viva Palestina, a convoy of US human rights activists has entered Gaza with truckloads of humanitarian aid. The delegation has over 200 people, and is a follow up trip to one led by British MP George Galloway last March. This delegation includes Vietnam vet Ron Kovic, New York City Council member Charles Barron and Cynthia McKinney.

Details are still unclear on how much aid got in. Although Viva Palestina’s website reports that they had over “over one million dollars worth of aide” to bring in, Egypt may not have allowed all of it to enter. As has happened on other delegations to Gaza, Egypt created serious obstacles for the convoy as it attempted to enter Gaza, but they got through.

Viva Palestina US has pics.

Update: (thanks Erwicga) The bad news, Egypt holds up its end of the siege-

The Egyptian Authorities stopped trucks of the Viva Palestina aid convoy from entering the Gaza Strip and allowed the crew 24 hours access. The Palestinian Information Center reported that the crew will be allowed into the Gaza Strip for only 24 hours and the aid supplies will stay at the Egyptian side of the borders.

Storming The Gaza Ghetto

Defence Minister Ehud Barak asserted after the war that Israel had the most moral army in the world. These critics say Israelis should not be asked simply to accept that their army’s conduct was “faultless and public accountability uncalled for”.

  • “Better hit an innocent than hesitate to target an enemy,” is a typical description by one unidentified soldier of his understanding of instructions repeated at pre-invasion briefings and during the 22-day operation, from December 27 to January 18.
  • “In urban warfare, anyone is your enemy. No innocents.”
  • Whole streets in parts of the Gaza Strip were razed to minimise the risk of Israeli casualties from small-arms attacks and booby-trap bombs. The United Nations says Gaza six months later is just beginning to clear 600,000 tonnes of rubble.
  • Soldiers describe a “Neighbour Procedure” in which civilians were forced to enter suspect buildings ahead of troops. They cite cases of civilians advancing in front of a soldier resting his rifle on their shoulder.
  • The report repeats charges – denied by Israel – that white phosphorus was fired indiscriminately into Gaza streets. It cites “massive destruction was unrelated to any direct threat to Israeli forces” and “permissive” rules of engagement.
  • To strip away cover for Hamas fighters, aerial bombardment, artillery, demolition charges and armoured bulldozers razed whole areas including gardens, and olive and orange groves. “We didn’t see a single house that was intact . . . that was not hit. The entire infrastructure, tracks, fields, roads, was in total ruin. The D-9 (bulldozer) had gone over everything,” the report quoted a soldier as saying.
  • “There was a clear feeling, and this was repeated whenever others spoke to us, that no humanitarian consideration played any role in the army at present. The goal was to carry out an operation with the least possible casualties for the army.”

The testimonies challenge assertions by Israeli officials and pro-Israel groups in the United States that “Israel did all it could to avoid civilian casualties”, as Kenneth Jacobson of the Anti-Defamation League wrote last week to the New York Times. The League denounced Amnesty International for labelling Israel’s actions as “wanton” destruction and said it was “outrageously accusing the Israeli military of war crimes”.

Soldiers in Israel’s largely conscript army have standing orders not to talk to the media. The 112-page report by Breaking the Silence includes testimonies of 30 “who served in all sectors of the operation”. (ht2 Jews sans frontieres)

Breaking The Silence

Posted in Media, War Criminals. Tags: , , . Comments Off

Pirate Movie

FreeGaza shows what state piracy is like-

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