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Israeli forces killed hundreds of Palestinian civilians and destroyed thousands of Gaza Strip homes in attacks that amounted to war crimes, Amnesty International charged Thursday, in the first in-depth human rights group report on the recent war in Gaza.
Amnesty called on Israel to publicly pledge not to use artillery, white phosphorus and other imprecise weapons in densely populated areas. And it urged Gaza's militant Hamas rulers to stop rocket fire against Israeli civilians — attacks it also described as war crimes.
Israel and Hamas both denounced the report as unbalanced. Israel charged that Amnesty "succumbed to the manipulations of the Hamas terror organization" and Hamas accused the rights group of downplaying the scale of the destruction Israel left behind. Read more.
Dear President Obama,
My friend, Cynthia McKinney and Nobel laureate, Mairead Maguire and 20 other people were trying to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, which, as I understand, is something that you have encouraged Israel to allow.
The Honorable Cynthia McKinney served six terms in the US Congress and she was the Green Party candidate for the office that you eventually won. It is an outrage that the Israeli Navy would block the boat that she and 21 others were on in international waters and board the boat and kidnap the crew and humanitarian aid workers.
President Obama, when an American captain was kidnapped by Somali "pirates" US Navy SEALS were sent in to rescue him. He was the captain of a private, for profit, ship and the US military was used to rescue him.
The humanitarian situation in Gaza has grown beyond intolerable. If you have any doubts, just read this devastatingly important article by Sara Roy, senior research scholar at Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies:
Today, 96 percent of Gaza’s population of 1.4 million is dependent on humanitarian aid for basic needs. According to the World Food Programme, the Gaza Strip requires a minimum of 400 trucks of food every day just to meet the basic nutritional needs of the population. Yet, despite a 22 March decision by the Israeli cabinet to lift all restrictions on foodstuffs entering Gaza, only 653 trucks of food and other supplies were allowed entry during the week of May 10, at best meeting 23 percent of required need.
Israel now allows only 30 to 40 commercial items to enter Gaza compared to 4,000 approved products prior to June 2006. According to the Israeli journalist, Amira Hass, Gazans still are denied many commodities (a policy in effect long before the December assault): Building materials (including wood for windows and doors), electrical appliances (such as refrigerators and washing machines), spare parts for cars and machines, fabrics, threads, needles, candles, matches, mattresses, sheets, blankets, cutlery, crockery, cups, glasses, musical instruments, books, tea, coffee, sausages, semolina, chocolate, sesame seeds, nuts, milk products in large packages, most baking products, light bulbs, crayons, clothing, and shoes.
What possible benefit can be derived from an increasingly impoverished, unhealthy, densely crowded, and furious Gaza alongside Israel? Gaza’s terrible injustice not only threatens Israeli and regional security, but it undermines America’s credibility, alienating our claim to democratic practice and the rule of law. Read more.
George Galloway, British MP, spoke out strongly in support of the cause of a free Palestine. He ripped into Israel’s military siege of Gaza, along with its ongoing blockade, which continues to put 1.7 million of its residents at grave risk to their health and safety. Galloway said the people of Gaza “are locked up.” He also traced the history of Palestine, the evils of the British Empire and the massive crime of Colonialism. He referred to Israel as “an Apartheid State.” The event, entitled, “Viva Palestina: A Lifeline from the U.S. to Gaza,” was held on the campus of American U., in Washington, D.C., on Sunday evening, June 28, 2009. It was a fundraiser “for a special U.S. convoy, which will travel from New York City to Egypt before making its way across the Rafah border into Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid,” according to the organizer’s press release. Galloway, who is also an author, is in the finest tradition of another legendary British MP, and champion of justice, liberty and humanity--John Wilkes. Check out: GeorgeGalloway.com.
Mahdi Bray, Executive Director of the Muslim American Society, served as the moderator of the affair. For more info on this fundraiser, its sponsors and the critically important convoy to Gaza, see the links to the side of each video at YouTube.
NYC Protests Israeli Piracy & Kidnapping of Free Gaza Boat "Spirit of Humanity" Tomorrow, 7/1, 4-6 PM Israeli Consulate
Against Israeli Piracy & Kidnapping
Free Cynthia McKinney and all kidnapped human rights workers!
WEDNESDAY 4-6 PM
ISRAELI MISSION - Consulate General of Israel in New York Map
800 Second Avenue
(Second Avenue @ 43rd St.)
New York City, NY 10017
- Free Gaza Live - provided GPS updates.
- Twitter Updates: Free Gaza Twitter; IsraelConsulate Twitter
- Dublin Protest Tomorrow
- ABC News: Israeli Navy Commandeers Gaza Aid Boat
- al Jazerra Report: Israel stops aid ship to Gaza
- CBS News: Activist: Israeli Navy Turns Back Gaza Aid Boat
- China View: AL Chief condemns Israeli offensive on "Spirit of Humanity"
- CNN: Israel navy intercepts boat with ex-U.S. Rep. McKinney
- Fox News: Cynthia McKinney Demands Immediate Release After Her Gaza-Bound Boat is Seized by Israeli Navy
- Huff Po: Cynthia McKinney On Board Gaza Aid Boat Intercepted By Israeli Navy
- Int'l JPost: Free Gaza boat stopped by Navy
- Jordan Times: Peace activists set sail for besieged coastal enclave
- MSNBC: Israeli navy commandeers Gaza aid boat
- Palestine Telegraph: The Spirit of HUMANITY's 21 and the Spirit that Preceded it
- Reuters: Israeli navy takes control of activist ship to Gaza
- Flicker gallery containing pictures of the boats and the deplorable conditions being endured by the Palestinian people.
Last night, Israeli Occupation Forces attacked and boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The passengers and crew are being forcibly dragged toward Israel.
ISRAEL ATTACKS JUSTICE BOAT; KIDNAPS HUMAN RIGHTS WORKERS; CONFISCATES MEDICINE, TOYS AND OLIVE TREES
[23 miles off the coast of Gaza, 15:30pm] - Today Israeli Occupation Forces attacked and boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (see below for a complete list of passengers). The passengers and crew are being forcibly dragged toward Israel.
The postwar humanitarian crisis in Gaza takes a turn for the worse with the Israeli Navy intercepting a relief ship headed toward the coastal strip.
A group of 21 activists sailing to Gaza said Tuesday that Israeli forces had threatened to gun down their boat unless they changed direction.
"There is a patrol boat around us and we were told that if we did not turn back they would open fire," Reuters quoted Irish activist Derek Graham as saying.
"We are continuing our course to Gaza," he added.
The Free Gaza Movement activists had left the Cypriot port of Larnaca earlier on Monday to deliver three tons of medical supplies, some tool kits and copper wiring to Gaza.
The activists onboard included an Irish Nobel peace laureate and a former US congresswoman. Read more.
BILIN, West Bank - Bestselling author Naomi Klein on Friday took her call for a boycott of Israel to the occupied West Bank village of Bilin, where she witnessed Israeli forces clashing with protesters.
"It's a boycott of Israeli institutions, it's a boycott of the Israeli economy," the Canadian writer told journalists as she joined a weekly demonstration against Israel's controversial separation wall.
"Boycott is a tactic . . . we're trying to create a dynamic which was the dynamic that ultimately ended apartheid in South Africa," said Klein, the author of "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism."
"It's an extraordinarily important part of Israel's identity to be able to have the illusion of Western normalcy," the Canadian writer and activist said.
"When that is threatened, when the rock concerts don't come, when the symphonies don't come, when a film you really want to see doesn't play at the Jerusalem film festival . . . then it starts to threaten the very idea of what the Israeli state is." Read more.
Palestinian Violence Overstated, Jewish Violence Understated: Time to Change the Story
By Ira Chernus
The Israel Project hired pollster Stanley Greenberg to test American opinion on the Middle East conflict -- and got a big surprise. In September 2008, 69% of Americans called themselves pro-Israel. Now, it's only 49%. In September, the same 69% wanted the U.S. to side with Israel; now, only 44%.
How to explain this dramatic shift? Greenberg himself suggested the answer years ago when he pointed out that, in politics, "a narrative is the key to everything." Last year the old narrative about the Middle East conflict was still dominant: Israel is an innocent victim, doing only what it must do to defend itself against the Palestinians. Today, that narrative is beginning to lose its grip on Americans.
Well, to be more precise, the first part of the old narrative is eroding. Nearly half the American public seems unsure that Israel is still the good guy in the Middle East showdown. But the popular image of the Palestinians as the violent bad guy is apparently as potent as ever. The number of Americans who say they support Palestine remains unchanged from last September, a mere 7%. And only 5% want the U.S. government to take such a position.
Two militants' leaders who defected from notorious Taliban chief in Pakistan have revealed that their comrade was pursuing a US-Israeli agenda across the country.
A prominent militant leader, Turkistan Bittani, who broke away from Baitullah Mehsud, called him "an American agent".
Mehsud, a warlord in his late 30s, has claimed responsibility for dozens of devastating string attacks on both civilians and security forces throughout the feared region.
Moreover, Baetani emphasized that Mehsud was being funded by US and Israeli intelligence services for brainwashing innocent youths.
The insurgents' chief has recruited several teenagers who have carried out dozens of suicide attacks on Pakistani mosques and educational institutes over some past months. Read more.
By Ann Wright
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was making a major foreign policy speech at Tel Aviv university on June 14, 2009, Israeli police outside the university attacked international protesters of Israel’s invasion of Gaza, illegal settlements and the apartheid wall.
Heavy handed police treatment of the CODEPINK: Women for Peace delegation began immediately after members of the group unfurled several pink banners that read “Free Gaza” and “End the Occupation.” CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin and New York activist Zool Zulkowitz were physically dragged across the street from their original protest site next to the entrance gate to Bar Ilan University where audience members and press entered the university complex to attend the speech.
Roughly half of Israelis support bombing Iran's nuclear facilities if international efforts fail to stop the Islamic republic from developing nuclear weapons, according to a Hebrew University poll released Sunday.
Some 52 percent of Israelis say the country should bomb Iran's nuclear reactor, while 35 percent are against, the poll found. The margin of error in the poll of Israelis is 4.5 percentage points.
Palestinians are somewhat more evenly divided, with 43 percent saying a nuclear Iran would be good for the Arab world and 33 percent saying it would be bad, according to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, which conducted the poll along with Hebrew University. The margin of error for the Palestinian sample is 3 percentage points. Read more.
Israeli War Crimes Against Children During Operation Cast Lead
By Stephen Lendman
Following Israel's Operation Cast Lead, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) documented the toll on Gaza's children and published it in May. It did so "in response to the unprecedented number of children who were killed (and injured) by (the Israeli Defense Forces) during the offensive on Gaza." According to international standards, the Convention on the Rights of the Child's (CRC) definition was used to apply to anyone under age 18.
Every so often someone comes along who is so brave and so inspiring that you just can't sit by and remain silent when you learn they need your help.
We're writing to you today about one of these rare people.
His name is Ezra Nawi.
You've probably never heard of him, but because you may know our names, now you will know his name.
Ezra Nawi is one of Israel's most courageous human rights activists and without your help, he will likely go to jail in less than 30 days.
His crime? He tried to stop a military bulldozer from destroying the homes of Palestinian Bedouins in the South Hebron region. These homes and the families who live in them have been under Israeli occupation for 42 years. They still live without electricity, running water and other basic services. They are continuously harassed by Jewish settlers and the military.
Nawi's friends have launched a campaign to generate tens of thousands of letters to Israeli embassies all over the world before he is due to be sentenced in July. They've asked for your help.
Code Pinkers and other activists for peace in Gaza protests the AHAVA brand and at the Erez Crossing. See many more photos of protest actions and Israeli destruction of Palestine here.
The US envoy to the Middle East has reaffirmed Washington's "unshakable" support for Israel despite public differences over the continued building of Israeli settlements.
George Mitchell, who met Israeli leaders on Tuesday, sought to reassure them that "we are two allies, two friends, and our commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable".
"And I want you to know we come here to talk not as adversaries in disagreement but as friends in discussion," he told Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.
"We recognise that the issues are complex and many. But we hope that we're going to work our way through them to achieve the objective that we share with you, and that is peace security and prosperity throughout the region."Read more.
On Monday, June 8, 2009, exactly 42 years after the USS Liberty (GTR-5) was attacked, in international waters off the coast of Sinai by Israel, members of the USS Liberty Veterans Association were at the U.S. Navy Memorial, in downtown Washington, D.C. Their purpose was to present a model of the vessel to the institution for it to be maintained on permanent display. Accepting the USS Liberty model on behalf of the U.S. Navy Memorial was its CEO, Rear Admiral Edward K.
A deadly Israeli attack on a US ship -- an incident largely kept in the dark by Washington -- receives new attention with survivors reliving the painful memory.
USS Liberty survivors gathered in Washington on Monday to commemorate the 42nd anniversary of the incident and expound on how they were sprayed with bullets by America's "closest ally and beneficiary".
On June 8, 1967, the unarmed spy ship USS Liberty was on duty in international waters off the Sinai Peninsula when it was bombarded by Israeli fighter jets and torpedo boats.
The two-hour-long attacks killed at least 34 sailors, wounded 173 others and nearly sunk the ship.
The attack on the Liberty came at a time when Israel had engaged in a brief but intense war with Egypt and its Arab allies, which coincided with the US war on Vietnam.
Although the ship was clearly marked as an American vessel, Israelis declared the attack on Liberty as a simple case of "friendly fire" and "mistaken identity". Read more.
Israel's Defense Minister says the flames of the next Israeli war would engulf a 'broader' region while admitting that Israelis must be ready to pay a higher price in terms of losses.
"The IDF's future operations will be broader and more demanding in terms of their scope and pace, with more risks than Operation Cast Lead ( in the Gaza Strip). We in the political echelon will act so that the ordeal won't come to pass but, still, you must win every trial," The Jerusalem Post quoted Ehud Barak as saying on Tuesday.
He made the remarks days after the Israeli military held its most extensive nationwide drill dubbed "Turning Point 3", preparing itself for a possible regional war by attacking Iran's nuclear facilities.
During the 5-day military drill, Israeli forces and civilians prepared themselves for a simultaneous war against Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran and practiced counterinsurgency tactics against Israeli Arabs. Read more.
Two Israeli officers have testified that troops in the West Bank beat, bound and blindfolded Palestinian civilians as young as 14. The damaging disclosures by two sergeants of the Kfir Brigade include descriptions of abuses they say they witnessed during a search-and-detain operation involving hundreds of troops in Hares village on 26 March. The testimonies have been seen by The Independent and are expected to add fuel to the controversy over recent remarks by Colonel Itai Virob, commander of Kfir Brigade, in which he said violence against detained Palestinians was justified in order to accomplish missions.
Both the soldiers, from the Harub battalion, highlighted the tight tying of the plastic hand restraints placed on detainees. "There are people who think you need to tighten the restraints all the way, until no drop of blood will pass from here to there," one soldier said. "It doesn't take much time until the hands turn blue. There were a lot of people that you know weren't feeling anything."
He said about 150 Palestinians, some as young as 14, were bound, blindfolded and detained at the village school during the operation, which lasted from 3am to 3pm. He was told it was aimed at preventing village youths throwing stones against nearby settler roads. It was clear many of the people detained had done nothing wrong, but they were held to gather intelligence, he said. Read more.
By CODEPINK/Linda Milazzo
The women inspired peace group, CODEPINK, in alliance with Israeli feminist group, Coalition of Women For Peace, will host continued human rights protests from June 8th through June 14th at Erez Crossing checkpoint at the Gaza Border in Israel.
EREZ, ISRAEL -- More than three dozen Americans and Israelis rallied today at the border checkpoint here into Gaza, hoping to be let through into the war-torn area with playground building materials, food and other products to delivered to the Gazan people, after Israel authorities barred them from entering.
Obama's Outreach to Muslims: Empty Rhetoric, Same Old Policies
By Stephen Lendman
As well as anyone, Edward Said understood the West's long-standing antipathy to Islam - reflected in Samuel Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations" article in the summer 1993 issue of Foreign Affairs and later a 1996 book.
He wrote that future conflicts won't be "primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural....the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future" - demagogically suggesting a benevolent, superior West confronting a belligerent, hostile, inferior Muslim world. In other words, good v. evil.
A poll conducted by an anti-Corruption organization has revealed that the majority of Israeli's believe their government is not seriously fighting against Corruption.
The annual Global Corruption Barometer report released by Transparency International shows that 86 percent of Israelis --the highest level in the world--say the government's efforts to fight Corruption are ineffective.
Only 13 percent of Israelis believed that the government is taking the necessary measures to fight Corruption, Haaretz reported.
In 2006, 66 percent of those questioned did not believe in their government's anti-Corruption efforts.
The global public opinion survey represents the views of citizens from 69 countries around the world, including 500 in Israel. Read more.
Israel could soon be charged with hundreds of war crimes as Palestinian lawyers file 936 lawsuits against the Israeli military five months after its three week war on Gaza.
Head of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) Iyad al-Alami, says the cases will soon be heard in Spain's National Court under universal jurisdiction, the pro-Israeli magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday.
The legal department of the PCHR in Gaza City is gathering evidence for the cases which include a wide range of instances of unarmed civilians - including children - being shot from close range or burned by white phosphorus shells, ambulances being attacked and civilian houses being deliberately destroyed. Read more.
President Barack Obama has decided to delay the transfer of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (al-Quds) amid a heightening row between the US and Israel.
Sources in the White House revealed on Friday that the US policy towards Israeli-Palestinians issue had not been changed and that the US embassy would remain in Tel Aviv for at least six more months.
The US Congress ratified the Jerusalem Embassy Act in October 1995, which states that Jerusalem be recognized as the capital of Israel. The act also states that the United States had to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem no later than 31 May 1999.
However, the decision has been delayed every six months due to the Palestinian-Israeli row over the city.
The status of Jerusalem has been among the thorny issues in the stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, with the Israelis claiming the city as their "eternal, undivided capital" -- a position not recognized by the international community. Read more.
On June 6, 2009, a spirited solidarity rally in support of the people of Occupied Gaza was staged by human rights activists in front of the Israeli Embassy, in Washington, D.C. The protest action demanded: "End the Siege of Gaza!" June 6th marks the 42nd anniversary of the Israeli" seizure of Gaza." The demonstration was sponsored by the ANSWER Coalition, among other groups.
Click here for featured speakers and organizations.
President Barack Obama's much-anticipated Cairo speech reflected a significant shift away from the ideological framework of militarism and unilateralism that shaped the Bush administration's war-based policy towards the Arab and Muslim worlds. His "not Bush" focus was perhaps most sharply evident in his public denunciation of the Iraq War as a "war of choice." Obama's call for a "new beginning" based on "the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition" was followed by a move to shift the official U.S. discourse towards something closer to internationalism - particularly by pointing to parallels between historical (and some contemporary) grievances and treating them as equivalent. This included his reference to the U.S. "role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government" along with Iran's "role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians."
Certainly, the equivalences were limited. Equating Palestinians and Israelis as "two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history..." doesn't reflect the reality that Israel is an occupying power with specific obligations under the Geneva Convention, while Palestinians living under occupation are a protected population under international law. But in the context of decades of U.S. privileging of Israelis as the only ones who have suffered, equating the two was a major step forward.
As expected, Obama focused first on the historic contributions of Arabs and Muslims to global civilization and to U.S. culture and history. His articulation of U.S. policy - and particularly U.S. active obligations - on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were addressed only in broad strokes, although there was more detail regarding Iran.
The shift in discourse, away from justifying reckless imperial hubris, unilateralism and militarism and towards a more cooperative and potentially even internationalist approach was potent. The actual policy shifts were much smaller. It remains the work of mobilized people across the U.S. - starting with the millions who mobilized to build a movement capable of electing Barack Hussein Obama as President - to turn that new language into new policies - reversing the escalation and moving towards ending Obama's war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, ending the occupation of Iraq immediately rather than years from now, ending U.S. military aid to Israel and creating a policy based on an end to occupation and equality for all, launching new negotiations with Iran not based on military threats, implementing U.S. nuclear disarmament obligations, and more.
That's the next step.