Israel has the myth – all is well in Gaza – and it has the military power to persuade European and US establishments that the floitila must not sail. As this stance does not accord with fact or popular sentiment, it may be self-defeating suggests Miri Weingarten in this extensive review
The Stay Human flotilla to Gaza has either set sail or is about to depending on when you read this. Here there is an article about the threats to its departure, a piece from flotilla veterans of the Free Gaza movement which cites a Palestinian civil society petition, and the petition itself with its many signatories at the end of this post
Just announced – Netanyahu has overturned the threat to the media made by his director of the government press office if they cover the flotilla. The Israeli goverment has secured a series of own goals in its varied efforts to stop media coverage (with the many issues about Gaza and international law which the flotilla raises): 1) A review of Israel’s diplomatic efforts secures a notably ambivalent coverage in the normally supportive Bloomberg Business Week; 2) Josef Federman reports from Jerusalem on the response to the threatening letter from Oren Helman; 3) an Israeli video of a gay man denouncing the flotilla is revealed by electronic intifada to be a government hoax; 4) the letter of protest written by ACRI to Oren Helman, credited as one of the voices prompting Netanyahu’s change of mind
Author Alice Walker talks with Ali Abunimah about her impending passage on the ‘Stay Human’ flotilla and the echoes of the US’s Freedom Riders – and presidential indifference. Below, we publish the letter of American passengers on the ship Audacity of Hope, named in reference to Obama’s own 2006 book
The US Boat to Gaza campaign gives an update following the recent Madrid meeting of the international flotilla with representatives from 22 countries at the meeting. Current plans are for the flotilla to sail in the second half of May…
Last week Turkey made public its inquiry into the attack on the Gaza flotilla that resulted in the deaths of eight Turks and one American of Turkish origin. Tiny extract from the executive summary of the report: “The bodies of the deceased were completely washed and repatriated to Turkey without any accompanying medical and autopsy reports. The Mavi Marmara itself, when returned after being held for 66 days in Ashdod, had been scrubbed down thoroughly, blood stains completely washed off, bullet holes painted over; ship records, Captain’s log, computer hardware, ship documents seized, CCTV cameras smashed, all photographic footage seized and presumably destroyed or withheld.”
Plus: Richard Silverstein comments.
In a hard-hitting statement, Amnesty International has condemned the findings of an Israeli inquiry into last year’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla as a “whitewash” which failed to account for the deaths of nine Turkish nationals. The Turkel Commission concluded that, of the 133 incidents of force used by the IDF during the raid on the Mavi Marmara that it examined, 127 were in conformity with international law, while it had “insufficient information” to make a determination on the other six… The report of the International Fact-Finding Mission – the Goldstone Report – came to diametrically opposite conclusions on every issue of substance and it has not been answered in any way.
Larry Derfner is shocked by the flotilla report to the UN Human Rights Council:
“Israeli soldiers,” it continues, “fired live ammunition both from the top deck at passengers on the bridge deck below and after they had moved down to the bridge deck. At least four passengers were killed, and at least nine injured (five with firearms injuries) during this phase. None of the four passengers who were killed, including a photographer who at the time of being shot was engaged in taking photographs and was shot by an Israeli soldier positioned on the top deck above, posed any threat to the Israeli forces. There was considerable live fire from Israeli soldiers on the top deck and a number of passengers were injured or killed whilst trying to take refuge inside the door or assisting others to do so.”
A devastatingly critical report on Israel’s handling of the flotilla at the end of May has been tabled at the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva. It concluldes:
“The Mission sincerely hopes that no impediment will be put in the way of those who suffered loss as a result of the unlawful actions of the Israeli military to be compensated adequately and promptly. It is hoped that there will be swift action by the Government of Israel. This will go a long way to reversing the regrettable reputation which that country has for impunity and intransigence in international affairs. It will also assist those who genuinely sympathise with their situation to support them without being stigmatised.”
Gisha comments on testimony to the Turkel Committee where Netanyahu readily acknowledged that Israel’s decisions on what to allow or prohibit into Gaza were based not on concern for the welfare of the population in Gaza but rather about Israel’s image in the international media. Haaretz says Netanyahu and Barak’s testimonies reveals “grave flaws about their judgment and discussions on the most sensitive diplomatic and security matters”…
Comedian Mark Steel writes: “One possible difficulty in proving the optically murderous gang’s intent could be that none of them had guns. But the IDF dealt with that by saying the ‘mercenaries’ preferred to use ‘bats, metal bars and knives, since opening fire would have made it blatantly clear they were terrorists and not peace activists’…”
Co-ordinated by JfJfP, European, UK and US Jewish groups are uniting in another effort to demonstrate that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is ineffectual in preserving Israeli security and a blunt instrument of collective punishment on the people of Gaza. We need to raise more funds to buy, outfit and stock the ship – please consider making a donation, however small (or large).
OR Books writes: “In these pages, a range of activists, journalists, and analysts piece together the events that occurred that May night, unpicking their meanings for Israel’s illegal, three-year-long blockade of Gaza and the decades-long Israel/Palestine conflict more generally. Mixing together first-hand testimony, documentary record, and illustration, with hard-headed analysis and historical overview, “Midnight on the Mavi Marmara” reveals why the attack on Gaza Freedom Flotilla may just turn out to be Israel’s Selma, Alabama: the beginning of the end for an apartheid Palestine…”
You are punishing me out of vengeance,” Hanan Zuabi told fellow parliamentarians. “When you threaten the Arab MKs and the Arabs’ protectors, you threaten democracy and co-existence between Jews and Arabs.”
“I have the right and the duty to fight for my rights and my values,” she continued, adding that “my positions are often different from those of the Likud, Kadima and most of the MKs. That’s why I don’t represent Kadima, the Labor Party or the Likud, but those who voted for me and in my case I represent the consensus of the Arab MKs.”
Thomas Keenan and Eyal Weizman write: “With very few exceptions, direct and intentional attacks on aid workers or human rights advocates (even those who have forsaken the strict neutrality of humanitarianism) have mostly been the work of undisciplined militias, ragged armies, criminal gangs and police states… Now, with the lethal raid on the Mavi Marmara, is Israel following them? [...]
On 29 June Gush Shalom announced that the Supreme Court was hearing an appeal from them the following day to dismantle the Turkel Committee of Inquiry into the Gaza flotilla disaster. At the last minute Netanyahu backed down and agreed to enlarge the powers of the commission, so that it will be able to summon witnesses. Not enough, but Uri Avnery argues that “a small victory is better than a defeat”…
A Gush Shalom appeal to the Supreme Court for the dismantling of the Tirkel Committee and its replacement with a Judicial Commission of Inquiry will be heard today…
There would seem to be a clear contradiction between Nick Clegg underlining the “need for a full, credible, impartial and independent investigation into the events of 31 May” and his statement that “Israel’s announcement of an inquiry headed by former Supreme Court judge Yaakov Tirkel is an important step forward. We welcome the appointment of Lord Trimble as an international observer. Clearly it is very important that this is a truly independent inquiry and a thorough investigation that the international community can respect.”
In the US both Congress and the Senate have shown strong, indeed uncritical, support for Israel in its actions against the Gaza flotilla. The Israel lobby clearly remains very powerful indeed in the United States…
Phyllis Bennis writes: “Turning points occur in every campaign for human rights and equality. There are moments when, before victory is certain and whether or not the effect is immediately felt on the ground, the discourse, the assumptions, the terms of reference – not so much for supporters and opponents, as for heretofore observers, all are shaken…The recent Flotilla crisis… may turn out to be one of those moments…”