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Who is sailing with the Estelle to Gaza to end the blockade?

Passenger I: Elik Elhanan, Israel

Elik Elhanan, Tel Aviv, Israel, is one of the passengers on board the Estelle on its last lap toward Gaza. He belongs to a well-known Israeli family whose forefathers emigrated to Palestine in the 1920s. His great-grandfather was the first Israeli ambassador to Sweden . His grandfather, Matti Peled, a general, was the first military person of high standing to oppose the 1972 occupation, and he formed peace groups with the Palestinians. He later retired from the army and devoted his time to writing a PhD in Arabic literature.

Erik is 35 years old now. When he was young he was a punk rocker. In 1995 he joined the Israeli army and became a paratrooper, over time advancing to become a member of an elite formation.

On 4th September 1997, his 16-year-old sister Smadar Elhanan was on her way back from school on the Ben Yehuda Avenue in Jerusalem. It was the first week of the school term and many people were out on the streets. That afternoon, three suicide bombers blew themselves up on Ben Yehuda. Five people died and twenty were wounded.

When Elik heard about the atrocity in his regiment, he called home, as did everyone in Jerusalem. There nobody had heard any news. When he called again, a neighbour answered. His parents had gone to identify their daughter. She and her best friend were among the dead.

Following the death of Smadar, Elik’s mother Noret Pelled Elhanan declared that she held the Israeli government and its politics of occupation responsible for the death of her daughter.

When Elik had completed his military service, he left the army and travelled around the world for almost two years before settling in Paris, where he sought contact with activists from countries around the world, working against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. His parents were involved in “We lost a child”, an organisation for Palestinian and Israeli parents who had lost their children. Two years ago, his father Rami participated in an entirely Jewish Ship to Gaza to end the blockade. On board were several survivors from the holocaust. They were stopped.

In 2002, Elik joined the soldiers who refused to take part in the war against Gaza, a group calling itself “The courage to refuse”. In 2004 he returned to Israel and, together with Palestinians who had been set free from Israeli prisons formed an organisation called “Combatants for peace”.

As I write these notes, we pass the Messina strait with Elik on board the Estelle. He sees the Israeli blockade of Gaza as criminal. Europe could easily apply pressure on Israel in the matter, as 40% of Israel’s trade goes to Europe. But, according to Elik, Europe and Israel appear to have reached an agreement as follows: Europe is absolved of the holocaust, and in turn does not protest against the Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinians.

Maria-Pia Boëthius, writer and member of the crew on board Estelle

UAV Incident Over Israel

 

UAV Incident Over Israel

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

On October 6, Haaretz headlined "IDF shoots down drone that penetrated Israeli airspace," saying:

 

An "unidentified aerial vehicle" entered Israeli airspace Saturday. Israel shot it down over the Negev, south of Mount Hebron.

No More Israel in 10 Years

 

No More Israel in 10 Years

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

On September 17, the New York Post quoted Henry Kissinger saying:

 

"In 10 years, there will be no more Israel. I repeat: In 10 years, there will be no more Israel."

 

East Jerusalem Schools: Failing Grade

 

East Jerusalem Schools: Failing Grade

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

In August, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) released a report titled "Failed Grade: East Jerusalem's Failing Educational System." It's grim reading. It shows how Palestinian children are  marginalized and deprived.

 

Living with the Enemy

 

Living with the Enemy

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

How do Palestinians manage every day? How do they deal with state-sponsored denial of their rights? How do they survive under suffocating conditions?

 

Where will they live once Israel steals all parts of Judea and Samaria it wants? It's grabbing it durum by dunum. What Palestinians lived on peacefully for centuries is fast disappearing.

Israel is not Calling the Shots in this US Election

 

By Dave Lindorff


Netanyahu blinked.


That’s the takeaway from the goofy address by the right-wing, Cheltenham,PA-raised, MIT-educated Israeli prime minister to the United Nations General Assembly Thursday.

Warmonger Netanyahu at UN

 

Warmonger Netanyahu at UN

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Some Israeli officials around him think he's deranged for good reason. His satanic eyes alone give him away. He's a world class thug, a menace. He heads Israel's most extremist ever government.

 

Netanyahu's Science-Project Poster Disguises Backdown on Iran

 

Netanyahu Backs Off on Iran

September 28, 2012

Editor Note: While Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was belligerent in tone at the UN, he signaled a retreat on substance, postponing his threatened attack on Iran’s nuclear sites. That suggests he is reading the U.S. polls and thinks he may have to deal with President Obama in a second term, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

The main takeaway from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s U.N. speech was the inference that he has been forced to relent on the possibility of military action against Iran, with his threats deferred past the U.S. election on Nov. 6 and off into next spring and beyond.

Iran, Israel, and Existential Threats

I had dinner with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday night in New York, along with dozens of other peace activists.  This is an annual event, and I've taken part in it more than once. 

There's some divergence of opinion on Ahmadinejad.  The New York Daily News on Tuesday called Ahmadinejad "a pure evil crackpot Holocaust denier who wants to see Israel obliterated from planet Earth." 

In contrast, a Jewish lawyer addressing the dinner gathering said that a friend had told him not to come on Yom Kippur when he should be home atoning for his sins.  "I'm going to go," he said he told his friend, "and atone for the sins of Israel."

The media tells us that Ahmadinejad is "an existential threat to Israel."  Let's consider that.

I start from the assumption that an existential threat to a human being is a greater concern than an existential threat to a government.  Denying a past existential threat to millions of human beings is offensive and dangerous.  Creating a new existential threat to millions of human beings is worse -- is, in fact, the danger we try to avoid by properly remembering the past.

President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that no speech, not even a video attacking Islam, should be censored, and no speech can justify violence.  But the absence of speech, in Obama's view, can justify war.  The Democratic Party Platform calls for war on Iran if Iran does not cease violating the nonproliferation treaty.  Obama declared on Tuesday that if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons it would destroy the nonproliferation treaty.  It would start a nuclear arms race.  Iran would be, or rather it already is, a threat to Israel's existence.

But how exactly can Iran stop violating a treaty that it is not violating?  What can it say to prove it does not have what even the U.S. National Intelligence Estimates say it does not have and is not working to produce?  How can Iran prove a negative?  Many of us still recall that impossible task being assigned to Iraq in 2003.

As Ramsey Clark, the U.S. attorney general at the time the nonproliferation treaty was created, argued at the meeting with Ahmadinejad, the United States is itself violating the treaty -- a treaty that would be better called the nonproliferation and elimination treaty, as it requires the elimination of nuclear weapons.  Iran is a party to the treaty and in compliance with it.  Israel has refused to sign the treaty or to allow inspections.  Iran received its nuclear power technology from the United States, which also gave it the plans to build a bomb -- this through a CIA project that might fairly be characterized as pure evil crackpotism.  The United States has also spread that technology to India and Pakistan.  The nukes in Western Asia are in Israel and on U.S. ships off the coast of Iran. 

U.S. and Israeli forces have Iran surrounded, and are threatening war in violation of the U.N. Charter.  Israel and the United States have attacked Iranian computers, assassinated Iranian scientists, flown drones over Iran, imposed sanctions on the Iranian people (including cutting off oil supplies and clean energy technologies).  The United States has organized a massive military exercise off the coast of Iran, and has just taken the terrorist label off an Iranian terrorist group, opening the door to funding its operations.  The very real threat of war on Iran is an existential threat to millions of human beings, a threat -- in other words -- of mass murder.

What kind of threat is Iran to Israel?  According to Ahmadinejad, his religious and political leaders have made the possession or use of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons a terrible sin.  When attacked by Iraq with chemical weapons -- some of them supplied by the United States -- Iran refused to use such weapons in response.  Iran, which remembers chemical weapons as an argument for peace in the way that Japan remembers nuclear weapons, makes a distinction between defensive weapons and weapons that indiscriminately kill the innocent.  The latter are forbidden.  Iran this month persuaded 120 nations of the world to back a plan to do exactly what the nonproliferation and elimination treaty requires: eliminating nuclear weapons. 

Talking about the nuclear question, Ahmadinejad told us, has grown tiresome and repetitive.  Iran is in compliance with the law and has put the IAEA in charge of inspections.  The root cause of U.S. aggression toward Iran, he said, has nothing to do with nuclear weapons.  Why did the United States back Saddam Hussein in a war against Iran?  Because the Iranian people had overthrown a U.S.-backed dictatorship.  Why has the U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran in the past, he asked, when nuclear enrichment was not an issue?  In the past year, he noted, the United States has sold over $70 billion in weapons to nations in the Persian Gulf, while Iran spends less one-fifth that amount.  How, he asked, is Iran the aggressor?

When U.S. headlines tell us that Ahmadinejad will destroy Israel, we picture Hiroshima, or Dresden, or Fallujah.  That's how we think of a nation ceasing to exist.  We think of its people destroyed from above.  But Ahmadinejad says he wants to end killing and injustice.  He speaks of peace and love, fairness and kindness.  How does this make sense?  Well, look at what he says on Israel:

"During a historical phase, they [the Israelis] represent minimal disturbances that come into the picture and are then eliminated."

The Wall Street Journal follows that paragraph with this: "Note that word -- 'eliminated.' When Iranians talk about Israel, this intention of a final solution keeps coming up. In October 2005, Mr. Ahmadinejad, quoting the Ayatollah Khomeini, said Israel 'must be wiped off the map.' Lest anyone miss the point, the Iranian President said in June 2008 that Israel 'has reached the end of its function and will soon disappear off the geographical domain.'"

But in fact, when pressed on this, what Ahmadinejad has said is: "Our proposal is for everyone to allow people to freely hold elections and choose their governors. It's been 6 ½ to 7 decades during which the people of Palestine have been dislodged from their homes. And their territories are under occupation, and an occupying regime has been bullying them and forcing them into the current conditions. If such a fate would have come into the lives of ordinary Americans, what proposal would you have had for them? I am sure you would propose for their elimination of international bullying and occupation. Imagine in your mind that the occupation of Palestine has come to an end. What would there remain? So this is the essence of what we are saying."

In other words, were Palestine freed of apartheid and occupation, were all of its people permitted to freely determine their future, that future would not include a government that gives superior status to Jews.  Such a future could be horrible, or it could be more democratic and respectful of individual rights than Israel is, or than Iran is, or than the United States is.

"If there are other inhabitants there," Menachem Usshiskin said of Jewish plans for Palestine in 1930, "they must be transferred to some other place.  We must take over the land."  The occupation of Palestine is not so much an existential threat as an existential fait accompli.  The state of Israel was created through ethnic cleansing.  It was created as a state to privilege one religious group, something that states should not be. 

But two wrongs cannot make a right.  Evicting Israelis from their homes, inside or outside the Green Line, is not a solution.  Much less is killing them a solution or anything that Ahmadinejad is proposing.

Yehouda Shenhav's new book, "Beyond the Two State Solution: A Jewish Political Essay" tells the story of Israel's creation.  The language of the Green Line, Shenhav writes, is "a language through which Israel is described as a liberal democracy, while the Arabs (and Mizrahi and religious Jews to boot) are described as inferior and undemocratic.  This is the language of someone who came to the Middle East for a short while, not to integrate but to exist here as a guest.  The position it expresses is not only immoral with regard to the Palestinians, but also potentially disastrous for the Jews.  It commits them to life in a ghetto with a limited idea of democracy based on racial laws and a perpetual state of emergency."

This is an Israeli suggesting that the worldview of Israel agrees with Ahmadinejad's prediction for Israel.  Israel is not behaving as if it means to settle down and become part of the region it inhabits.  Shenhav wants to restore awareness of 1948, but not to try to reconstruct the world of 1948.  He does not propose eliminating Israel.  He does not propose uniting the people of Israel and Palestine into a single nation.  He does propose allowing Palestinians to return to their homes in a manner least disturbing to Israelis already living in those villages or buildings, including with compensation paid to residents evicted by an agreement with returning refugees.  He proposes a bilingual society, with a fragmented political federation.  He expects this to be very difficult, while preferable to any other approach.  And he rightly sees the first step as recovering honesty with regards to not-so-distant history.

Another book just released by Brant Rosen, a Rabbi in the United States, is called "Wrestling in Daylight: A Rabbi's Path to Palestinian Solidarity."  Here we have a brand new genre: the transformation of a website, including blog posts and the comments under them, into a work of literature on the printed page.  Here we have an example of civil discourse, of diplomacy, of people with the views of the New York Daily News and the views of the Iranian government ceasing to speak past each other, coming to understand each other, realizing that neither wants to destroy the other.  I highly recommend reading it and emulating it.

A Mennonite speaking at Tuesday's meeting with Ahmadinejad said he wished others could travel to Iran, and that more Iranians could visit the United States.  He said that after decades of visiting Iran frequently, he not only viewed Iranians as friends but understood the source of tension to be the Iranian government's insistence on remaining independent of U.S. control.  As if to prove the value of his recommendation for personal interaction, the next person to speak, an evangelical pastor from Texas named Bob Roberts said that he used to be afraid of Muslims.  Then he met some in Afghanistan, and they became his friends.

Exiled critic of the Iranian government Shirin Ebadi released a message on Tuesday worth reading and signing on in support of.

I discussed these matters on New York's WBAI on Tuesday.  Here's that audio.

Fatah Israeli Collaborators

 

Fatah Israeli Collaborators 

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Call it an open secret. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, unelected Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and like-minded Fatah officials collaborate with Israel's occupation harshness.

 

Stealing Palestinian Resources

 

Stealing Palestinian Resources

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Israel wants it all. For decades, it's been systematically stealing Palestinian land and resources. 

 

Privatizing Israel's Legal System

 

Privatizing Israel's Legal System

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Israel's Mandatory Arbitration Bill (MA) is troubling. Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman proposed it. It mandates compulsory arbitration for civil suits filed in Magistrate Courts.

 

LINK TV to Show Ray McGovern Talk on Israel-Iran Starting Sept. 21

Israel and Iran: Facts ≠ Fear — Ray McGovern Talk Starts Playing Tomorrow on LINK TV

Ray’s Sept. 2 speech (and the Q&A following) on Israel & Iran: Facts ≠ Fear starts showing on LINK TV Friday, Sept. 21, at 3:00 Eastern.  Ray gave the talk at a benefit for a Justice-oriented non-profit he admires very much – the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) in Berkeley, CA.  In the following URL, LINK TV lists the schedule for its running (six more times in the coming days).

http://www.linktv.org/programs/ray-mcgovern-israel-and-iran

Stop Last Minute Senate Vote to Adopt Netanyahu's War Red Line

By: NIAC Action Alert

NetanyahuThe Senate is poised to commit the U.S. to a red line for war demanded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposed by the Obama Administration.  The resolution by Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Bob Casey (D-PA) expresses support for Netanyahu’s red line for military action against Iran and may come up for a vote TODAY.
 
Please call your Senators to tell them you oppose the Iran red line resolution.  Call 1-855-68 NO WAR to be directed to your Senators offices and tell them to oppose S.J. Res 41.

Learn More & Take Action>>
READ: New Senate Push for Iran War Red Lines as Netanyahu Ups Pressure>> 

A Sea Change in US-Israeli Relations?

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

The situation in the Middle East has reached a dangerous point, to be sure, but there are also signs that a sea change may be taking place here in the US which could herald a whole new relationship between the US, Israel and the rest of the Arab and Islamic world.


Netanyahu at It Again

 

Netanyahu at It Again

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

He's undisciplined, unchecked, and unambiguous. He never knows when to leave well enough alone. He makes more enemies than friends. He's a consummate loudmouth bully. He hurls unrestrained verbal assaults. More on that below.

 

He presides over Israel's worst government. It's belligerent, hardline, and neoliberal. It's offensive to both Jews and Arabs. He menaces the entire region and beyond. 

Harvey Pekar, Graphic Art and Israeli State Policy

 

By John Grant


A review of:
NOT THE ISRAEL MY PARENTS PROMISED ME
By Harvey Pekar and J.T. Waldman
With an epilogue by Joyce Brabner
Hill and Wang, 2012
$24.95. 
$14.67 on Amazon
 

Obama v. Netanyahu

 

Obama v. Netanyahu

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Much has been made about an Obama/Netanyahu rift. At times, it's hard separating rhetoric from reality. Nonetheless, neither leader, it appears, particularly likes the other. Disagreement between them is palpable. It's over Iranian red lines and deadlines.

 

Former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said he doesn't believe in "red line policies." He responded to Netanyahu saying:

Talk Nation Radio: The Risks and Benefits of Political Theater in the West Bank

The Freedom Theater in the Jenin Refugee Camp in the West Bank produces politically engaged theater and is under assault by both the Israeli military and the Palestinian Authority.  We speak about theater as therapy and theater as an alternative to violence with Gary English and Laura Wilson. 

Gary English is a Stage Director and Designer with credits that include over 100 productions at many of America’s major repertory theaters.  He is a Distinguished Professor of Drama at the University of Connecticut and a member of the Human Rights Institute Faculty at Connecticut.  He has been to the Middle East five times in the last two years and will spend the next year on leave from Connecticut when he will serve as Artistic Manager of The Freedom Theatre in the Jenin Refugee Camp in the West Bank. 

Laura Wilson is a professional Stage and Event Manager based in New York City with credits on Broadway and regional theatres who has been involved with active research and development for Freedom Theatre activities in the United States for the past year and a half.  She is working with Gary English as Editor on a book project entitled Theatre and Human Rights: The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict.

Read: "The Freedom Theatre Under Assault; Building a Cultural Institution Under Military Occupation" by Gary M. English and Laura L. Wilson -- PDF.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Embed on your own site with this code:

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Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

It's the Occupation, Stupid

 

It's the Occupation, Stupid

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Haaretz contributor Amira Hass is right saying so. Current headlines highlight thousands of West Bank protesters. 

 

State Terror: Official Israeli Policy

 

State Terror: Official Israeli Policy

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Israeli state terror targets Palestinians ruthlessly. Incidents include crimes of war, against humanity and genocide, land theft, institutionalized racism, oppression, intimidation, militarized occupation, and contempt for all rule of law principles and democratic values.

 

Living Under Israeli State Terror

 

Living Under Israeli State Terror

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

On November 6, Americans vote for president, Congress, and regional candidates. On matters concerning Israel, virtually every officeholder and aspirant expresses wholehearted support.

 

Netanyahu: The Mouth that Roars

 

Netanyahu: The Mouth that Roars

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

His bluster long ago wore thin. Iranian/Israeli/Middle East analyst Meir Javedanfar said he put himself up a tree and wants Obama to bring him down. "It's come down to threats, threats, threats, but we are at a saturation point."

 

Sucking Up Shamelessly to Israel

 

Sucking Up Shamelessly to Israel

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

America's special relationship with Israel too often reflects the tail wagging the dog. Increasingly, the Jewish state is more strategic liability than asset.

 

Israel Uses Palestinians for Target Practice

 

Israel Uses Palestinians for Target Practice

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Israelis do that and much more. Gazans are locked down in isolation. They live in a virtual war zone. Incursions, bombings, and border killings happen regularly. 

 

Netanyahu in New York

 

Netanyahu in New York

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

He's not there yet, but he's coming. Three days of torment and venomous anti-Iranian propaganda are planned. Big Apple residents will need decompression time when he leaves. 

 

His kind isn't welcome. He's toxic, deadly and destructive. Expect resentment to be expressed while he's there. It'll remain when he's gone.

Is There a Way Beyond Israeli Madness?

 

By John Grant

 

The patient, by the name of Israel, walks into the room and instantly bursts into a tirade of arguments conclusively proving his credentials, and says that he is better than everyone else.

 

-Ofer Grosbard

Israel On The Couch: The Psychology of the Peace Process

 

Americans have an Israel problem.

 

Israeli Soldiers Break Silence

 

Israeli Soldiers Break Silence

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Breaking the Silence (BTS) is an organization comprised of Israeli combat veterans. They served since the start of the second Intifada. They refuse any longer to stay silent.

 

Israeli Court Legitimizes Murder

 

Israeli Court Legitimizes Murder

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Cindy and Craig Corrie hoped for better. So did sister Sarah. The world knows Israel murdered their daughter, Rachel, in cold blood. On August 28, Israeli justice ruled otherwise. 

 

It's unsurprising in a nation contemptuous of rule of law principles, democratic values, and life itself. More on the court ruling below.

Getting Away with Torture in Israel

 

Getting Away with Torture in Israel

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Torture is illegal at all times under all circumstances with no allowed exceptions. Israel's Supreme Court ruled both ways. 

 

On the one hand, it banned torture. On the other, it permitted physical force in "ticking bomb" cases. At the time, Court President Aharon Barak claimed it saves lives. He authorized use of the "necessity defense" to get away with lawless practices.

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