American Government Is Loyal To Israel Before Its Own Citizens

FreeGaza.org

U.S. Department of State Middle East Digest 01 Jul 2009 briefing on the kidnapped passengers (with the U.S. State Department). The sheer stupidity of the answer boggles your mind.

QUESTION: Erin Connors from Press TV. Former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and members of the Free Gaza Movement were intercepted by the Israeli army when they were on a humanitarian mission over there. What’s being done about that? Are they on their way home? Will they be deported? What’s the next step there, and will their supplies ever get to where they’re going?
IAN KELLY: On that last question, I don’t know the answer, actually. I think I have to refer you to the Government of Israel. We can confirm that the Israeli navy did arrest those on board this – the ship which is known as Spirit. We can’t comment on any of the individuals or the number of individual American citizens on board because of Privacy Act concern.

Can you *imagine* what would happen if Iran intercepted a vessel and/or incarcerated a former congressperson and Nobel Prize winner?

PLEASE GIVE GENEROUSLY AND HELP US BREAK THE SIEGE OF GAZA
http://www.freegaza.org/en/donate

“The landing of two wooden boats carrying human rights activists in Gaza is an important symbolic victory … Above all, what is being tested is whether the imaginative engagement of dedicated private citizens can influence the struggle of a beleaguered people for basic human rights, and whether their courage and commitment can awaken the conscience of humanity to an unfolding tragedy.”
– Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the OPT (August 2008)

Dear Friends,

On Tuesday, July 30 the Israeli Navy forcibly boarded our boat, SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, confiscating the ship and abducting 21 human rights workers and journalists, including Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Israel’s violent actions temporarily prevented us from delivering much needed humanitarian and reconstruction supplies to besieged Gaza.

All of us in the Free Gaza Movement have been overwhelmed with the support and well-wishes we have received in these past days. All of us are deeply grateful for the thousands of phone calls and emails that you have sent, the demonstrations that have been organized around the world, and the pressure you have brought to bear on Israel and your own governments to free the ‘Free Gaza 21.’ Thank you.

Read the rest of this entry »

Viva Palestina US

As the US is the guarantor for Israel’s siege on Gaza, the shield that gives it impunity, this US convoy is an important step forward in awareness. Obama chose not to speak out to defend the Free Gaza boat instead allowing Israeli piracy (apparently only Somalis get whacked by ‘heroic’ snipers for committing piracy, which must leave the survivors of the USS Liberty unimpressed). Also worth noting the resource question in relation to Gaza raises its head, the Captain of the Spirit of Humanity says in an email- “It appears as though the Israeli government is drilling for natural gas in the buffer zone. That gas belongs to the people of Gaza. It seems to be one of their reasons for stopping us, perhaps they’re worried that we may go back and tell the world what we have seen.” British Gas is working with Israel on this project, as usual ideological reasons for warfare are also allied with the motives of capital.

Viva Palestina US:- Fresh from the success of the Viva Palestina: Lifeline from Britain to Gaza aid convoy – which took over 100 vehicles to Gaza from the UK, Member of Parliament, George Galloway has linked up on his US tour with the Vietnam veteran and peace campaigner, Ron Kovic, to launch a similar, but even larger venture from the States.

Galloway announced the initiative at a 1000-strong meeting in Anaheim, California, rounding off a packed-out, coast to coast speaking tour highlighting the Palestinian cause.

“There’s a new atmosphere in the US over Palestine,” says Galloway, “the phenomenal response to this tour demonstrates that.”

Ron Kovic, whose story was immortalized in Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July, will be the co-leader of the convoy, which will travel from New York City to Egypt before making its way across the Rafah border into Gaza.

Viva Palestina USA is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, but individuals and groups from across the nation are organizing locally to generate support for the convoy, which aims to raise $10 million for humanitarian aid and 500 vehicles with which to deliver the aid into Gaza.

“And what better day to head off,” says Galloway, “Than July 4 – Independence Day!”

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Entitled To Kill

In the Israeli army reaction to Amnesty’s report on their assault on Gaza they show again the absolute sense of entitlement that views others suffering as subordinate to their own desires. A very dangerous chauvinism that is the logical result of Zionist ideology, a militarist garrison colonial state practising apartheid. Reminding me of what Naomi Klein said recently

“There is a debate among Jews. I used to say the Jewish community then I got excommunicated. There is a debate among Jews–I’m a Jew by the way” that boils down to: “Never again to everyone, or never again to us?… [Some Jews] even think we get one Get away with genocide free card… There is another strain in the Jewish tradition that says, ‘Never again to anyone.'”

Help Israeli Human Rights Activist Ezra Nawi

Ezra Nawi has been active for years in the area known as South Mt. Hebron.

Nawi is not a typical rights activist. A member of Ta’ayush Arab-Jewish Partnership he is a Jewish Israeli of Iraqi descent who speaks fluent Arabic. He is a gay man in his fifties and a plumber by trade. Perhaps because he himself comes from the margins, he empathises with others who have been marginalised – often violently.

The Palestinians in this small desolate area in the very south of the West Bank have been under Israeli occupation for almost 42 years; they still live without electricity, running water and other basic services, and are continuously harassed by the Jewish settlers who constantly violate both Israeli and International law, and are backed by a variety of Israeli military occupation forces, all of which operate in an effort to cleanse the area from its Palestinian inhabitants and create a new demographic reality in it.

Nawi’s persistent NON VIOLENT activity in the area is aimed both at aiding the local population in its plight to stay on their lands, but also at exposing the situation in the area to both the Israeli and international public eye. The latter is very much not in the interest of the Israeli settlers who complain that Nawi is disturbing the “status quo” in the area. Nawi has received threats on his life from the settlers in the past. The chief of the investigations in the Hebron Israeli Police once admitted that what Nawi is doing in the area is “exposing the dirt laying under the rug…”

Ezra Nawi’s efforts have been fruitful in the sense that the attempt to cleanse the South Mt. Hebron from its Palestinian inhabitants has become a visible, internationally acknowledged issue.

The settlers, military occupation forces and Israeli police have a strong interest to restrict his movement and ban him from the area. Therefore they constantly falsely accuse him of violating the law. Lately he has been pronounced guilty of assaulting a police officer who was demolishing a Palestinian house on July 22, 2007. He will be sentenced this coming July.

As chance would have it, the demolition and the resistance to it were captured on film and broadcasted on Israeli news. As depicted on the film (a must see), Nawi, the man dressed in a green jacket, not only courageously protests the demolition, but after the bulldozer destroys the buildings he also tells the border policemen what he thinks of their actions. Sitting handcuffed in a military vehicle following his arrest, he exclaims: “Yes, I was also a soldier, but I did not demolish houses… The only thing that will be left here is hatred…”

Nawi’s case is not only about Nawi. It is also about Israel and Israeli society, if only because one can learn a great deal about a country from the way it treats its human rights and pro-democracy activists.

To support Ezra, please write a letter or email to the Israeli embassy in your country, and send us a copy to support.ezra@gmail.com

Also please consider donating to help defray the legal costs and to support his human rights activities. HERE

PS. The video I find disturbing because the Israeli forces are laughing, they are enjoying immensely what they are doing and the power they have. Nowhere in it are any of them injured and their good spirits rather contradict the claims of an assault. Not to mention they have assault rifles against unarmed people and we know they are not shy about using them so the assault charge looks to be entirely spurious and intended to criminalise dissent.

Crackdown On Draft Resistors in Israel

Throughout this Ynet piece they call if draft dodging, ho hum-

Six suspects, one of them a 70-year old woman, were detained for questioning and released Sunday on suspicion that they preached in favor of dodging the IDF’s draft. Police say more suspects have been located and will be detained. 

Police have been following the activities of two websites called Target 21 and New Profile, which encourage youths to dodge the mandatory draft. Officers used IP addresses to locate computers outputting information to the sites and arrived at the owners’ homes Sunday morning to search the premises.

New Profile, on its part, stated that it was a public and fully legal establishment and that the interrogation violated freedom of speech. “The militarization of Israeli society harms the sacred principles of democracy, freedom of speech, and political freedom. For people who thought that only Israeli-Arabs were being framed for criminal political activity, this morning was proof that none of us can be sure of the permission to express ourselves freely regarding the failings of Israel’s society and regime,” the statement said.

Below is the video of Bassem Aburahma being killed by the IDF. Those who resist the draft are moral people, no surprise the government wants to attack them, just as the US and Neocon Canadian governments attack their resistors.

FreeGaza.org– Bassem Aburahma (nick-named ElFeel, the elephant, for he was always thought of as a giant among his peers) is seen pleading with Israeli soldiers to wait…wait… (saying Raiga in Hebrew) as Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals protested the land confiscation and building of the apartheid fence on vilage land. The soldiers then shoot Bassem point blank with a high velocity gas grenade which kills him within five minutes.  The white-haired man protesting to the Israeli military thugs is also Israeli, outraged at what his own country is doing to the Palestinians. Although the dialogue is in Arabic and Hebrew, you don’t need much translation to be appalled.

It is also the reason why those concern rolls doing the ‘Whither the Palestinian Gandhi?’ nonsense can have a nice steaming cup of STFU, their wilful ignorance is grating. There is a great deal of non violent resistance, so why are you unaware of it, and the US support of the IDF? Philip Weiss says it nicer here.

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Manchester Uni, Still Occupied!

Hats off to the demonstrators who are doing Manchester proud, occupied since Wednesday!

Check manunioccupation.wordpress.com

Snippets-

  • Manchester students called an Emergency General Meeting of their Student Union to take place on February 4th. Students submitted a motion that called for the development of links between students in Manchester and Palestine; a condemnation of Israel’s recent attacks and the facilitation of fundraising to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis Israel has caused in Gaza. This democratic meeting was sabotaged and ultimately destroyed by pro-Israeli Zionist students who were desperate to shield Israel from criticism and couldn’t stomach the thought of their university helping to stop the suffering in Palestine. These students employed both bureaucratic and thuggish tactics to stop the meeting from taking place. There are countless reports from students who wanted to get in but were physically prevented and the chair of the meeting refused to hear students’ complaints at the blockade and dissolved the meeting. Around 300 pro-Palestinian students then held a demonstration that went to the main administrative corridor at the university. Deprived of the means of using the normal channels of speaking to management they decided to occupy the corridor (which holds the Vice Chancellor, Alan Gilbert’s office) until the university management dealt with their demands.
  • The movement is growing and the universities are recovering their role as place of critical thinking and action. Today the largest trade union and professional association for academics, lecturers, trainers, researchers and academic-related staff has come out in support of the people of Gaza and the occupying students throughout the country.
  • The people of Manchester have been a key part of that support and instrumental in keeping us comfortable and well fed. Yesterday we received fresh fruit, bedding and kitchen equipment amongst a whole host of other supplies kindly donated by individuals and campaigns across Manchester.
  • message of solidarity sent from the Student Council of An-Najah university in Palestine:- The Student Council of An-Najah National University extends its sincerest thanks and appreciation for the courageous and principled action you have taken in solidarity with our people in Gaza. This non-violent action to pressure the administration of your university to take a more proactive stance to condemn Israeli aggression on Gaza reminds us, as an oppressed people, that we are not alone in our fight for freedom and justice.
  • Article in The Independent!
  • Even Wes Streeting, NUS careerist, has woken up- “What we’ve seen over the Gaza issue is a resurgence of a particular type of protest: the occupation. It’s a long time since we’ve seen student occupations on such a scale. It’s about time we got the student movement going again and had an impact.”
  • The Manchester Uni occupation applauds Wes for this sentiment. We would be very happy if he came over to address our occupation on the importance of building a fighting student movement for Palestine as well as using his position to push the NUS to put pressure on our Vice-Chancellor Alan Gilbert to concede to our demands, send a letter to our union’s Gen Sec Rob Pinfold congratulating us for our actions as well as Labour Students in Manchester who have been hostile to us. We would also be very happy if the NUS pledged to campaign to defend occupying students against any reprisals from management.
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Israel Commits More Piracy

Via FreeGaza who helped with this aid shipment-

The Israeli navy has captured and diverted a ship from Lebanon carrying more than 60 tonnes of aid to the Gaza Strip.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent aboard the Al-Ikhwa (The Brotherhood) ship said the navy first opened fire, then five Israeli soldiers boarded the ship, beating and threatening the passengers.

“They are pointing guns against us – they are kicking us and beating us. They are threatening our lives,” Al Jazeera’s Salam Khoder said.

Communications with the ship broke off shortly thereafter.

According to the owner of the vessel, the Israelis destroyed its communication equipment and confiscated the phones of those on board.

The Israeli military told Al Jazeera it had captured the Lebanese vessel and taken it to Ashdod, where authorities were examining its cargo. The passengers and crew, meanwhile, were being questioned by police.

In a statement, the Israeli military said it had warned the ship on Wednesday night against entering Gaza’s coastal waters.

“During today’s morning hours, the cargo ship changed its bearing, and began heading towards the Gaza Strip …. disregarding all warnings made,” it said.

Maan Bashour, an aid co-ordinator for the group End the Blockade of Gaza, said the ship was carrying medical equipment, food supplies and books, toys and milk for small children.

“This ship was searched in Cyprus and in Lebanon,” Bashour told Al Jazeera in Beirut, Lebanon. “And we were very eager to let it be searched by Lebanese and Cypriot authorities in order that there be no reason for the Israelis to prevent it from going to Gaza.”

Foud Siniora, Lebanon’s president, condemned the attack on Al-Ikhwa, emphasising that it was on a humanitarian mission to Gaza.

“It is no surprise for Israel to perpetrate such an action as it has been accustomed to ignoring all international resolutions and values,” he said during a speech in Beirut.

“I made a number of necessary phone calls with international parties in order to exert pressures on Israel which is violating laws. I hold Israel responsible for the safety of the ship and passengers. “

Also note Israel is effectively banning Al Jazeera-

Danny Schechter: Everyone in the media world praised AlJazeera’s coverage of Gaza as fair and multi-sided with frequent appearances by Israeli officials. This is Israel’s response, a clear sign that they want to dominate the media with their perspective or else. This is consistent with a refusal to allow journalists from other media into Gaza. It shows contempt for a free media even as Israel mobilizes campaigns against media “bias.”

IMEMC: The Israeli Foreign Ministry decided to place restrictions on the Qatari based Al Jazeera Channel office staff in areas controlled by Israel, Israeli media reported on Tuesday.

The decision by Israeli is part of a government response to closing the Israeli trade office by the Qatari government in Doha last month.

Qatar closed the office to protest the Israeli offensive on Gaza which started on December 27th, and lasted for 22 days. 1,340 Palestinian were killed by the Israeli air, sea, and ground bombardment.

According to the sources, the restriction will be implemented in three steps and will be carried out in Israeli areas and Palestinian Authority controlled areas. First, Israel will not renew the visas of Al Jazeera staff that do not hold Israeli documents.

Second, the reporters of Al Jazeera will not be allowed to speak to Israeli MP’s, and will only be given access to three government spokespeople that will include the Israeli PM’s office, the Israeli Army and the Foreign Ministry.

Third, Al Jazeera reporters will have reduced accessibility to government and military bodies, and will not be allowed into briefings or press conferences.

Al Jazeera is the largest Arab satellite News Channel, and the only Arab channel that has an English TV and web service.  The Jerusalem office of Al Jazeera told IMEMC that their office has not received an official notice by the Israeli government regarding the new restrictions.

Not something the BBC will have to worry about, is it?