The week in brief, 7th-13th June – a summary of recent postings

June 13, 2010
Richard Kuper

jfjfpAnother week devoted to reporting, once again, on the Gaza flotilla and its aftermath.

Evidence emerging from the kidnapped passengers calls the Israeli account ever more into question. The need for an independent and impartial inquiry is ever more urgent, as affirmed by Professor Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, on 11 June. (Though leading Democratic senator Chuck Schumer – and possible candidate for Senate Majority leader in November – doesn’t see it that way, and forcefully advocates the continuation of the blockade of Gaza.)

Uri Avnery poses 81 questions for any Inquiry about the Gaza Flotilla to be taken seriously: about the real aims of the Gaza blockade; about the decision to attack the flotilla; about the planning of the action, about the action itself; about the behaviour of the IDF spokesman; about the forthcoming inquiry; and, finally, about what the Israeli political and military leadership is trying to hide…

This follows on dozens of reports of Israeli brutality and violence culminating in Democracy Now’s screening of footage smuggled off the Mavi Marmara , showing what appears to be a cold blooded execution of one of its passengers. The Magnes Zionist comments on the Turkish doctor who treated the commandos on the Marmara and Richard Silverstein discusses the video evidence.

Many interesting and thoughtful analyses have appeared – see Simone Susskind’s selection, for example;  Henry Siegman, Israel’s Greatest Loss: Its Moral Imagination [Siegman is a former director of the American Jewish Congress!], Noam Chomsky,  The Real Threat Aboard the Freedom Flotilla and Alastair Crooke, After the Israeli flotilla incident, Turkey is the new Palestinian champion. And, in the context of vigorous calls for expanding BDS activity against Israel, human-rights attorney Noura Erakat reflects on ten years of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in the United States.

Gisha goes back to basics with answers to frequently asked questions about the Gaza blockade.

Meanwhile, in Israel a 10,000-strong demonstration against the government in Tel Aviv ended with an  attack on veteran peace activist Uri Avnery; and MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad), a participant in the floilla who earlier on suffered a near-lynching in the Knesset, is now likely to be stripped of parliamentary privileges after a Knesset sub-committee called overwhelmingly for just that.

A ghoulish ’satirical’ video called ‘We con the world’ and mocking the suffering of Gaza and the flotilla, was posted on You Tube. Nothing particular in that – except the Israeli government’s press office thought it was genuine and disseminated it abroad before having to withdraw it, saying ‘ the contents of the clip did not [any longer?! -ed] reflect the official position of the State of Israel’.… In Britain over 150 people signed a letter of protest to the BBC at its biased coverage of the whole flotilla incident.

On the plus side: there are signs that the EU, led by Spain, is seeking an independent and tougher line on Israel; Chris Patten, former European Commissioner for External Relations, has spoken out strongly and very progressively on the topic; and the Gaza-Eqyptian border remains open ‘indefinitely’.

And, of course, the Jewish boat to Gaza. European Jews for a Just Peace is sponsoring the boat and  JfJfP is right behind it. The JC made this its lead front-page story, reporting howls of outrage from the Jewish community representatives. They obviously speak for a very different Jewish community…

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