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By Medea Benjamin
The 50 passengers and crew on the U.S. boat to Gaza have converged in Athens, Greece, ready to head out to sea to join an international fleet of ships that will challenge the Israeli-imposed naval blockade of Gaza. But on Thursday, June 23, when the boat was scheduled to leave its port outside Athens and move closer to an international meeting point, the boat’s owner was suddenly served with a complaint by an unknown individual that the boat was not seaworthy. The captain, convinced that the complaint was bogus, was nevertheless told by Greek authorities that he could not set sail until they did a thorough inspection.
We kind of take electricity for granted, until you have appendicitis or are having a baby and your doctor is working in the dark, because there is no electricity. Sure, there are generators, but what if there is no fuel for the generators? Not to mention basic medical supplies like disinfectant, clean bandages, and surgical instruments.
Violating Palestinian Rights - by Stephen Lendman
Besides its Knesset, security forces and intelligence services, Israel's High Court and Civil Administration ravage Palestinian civil society repressively. Two examples illustrate the problem.
On June 22, a B'Tselem press release headlined, "Sharp increase in West Bank home demolitions," saying:
Through late June, Israel's Civil Administration, its Judea/Samaria (West Bank) governing body, illegally "demolished more Palestinians homes....than in all of last year." Most often, soldiers and Border Police accompany them, forcefully evicting longtime residents.
Over the most recent seven day period, 33 residential buildings were demolished in Jordan Valley Fasayil, al-Hadidiyeh, and Yarza communities, as well as southern Hebron Hills Khirbet Bir al-'Id. As a result, 238 Palestinians, including 129 minors, lost homes.
Breaching Gaza's Siege - by Stephen Lendman
Suffocating besieged Gazans, Israel is committing slow-motion genocide. Global activists are determined to stop it and hold Israeli officials accountable for decades of crimes of war and against humanity - unspeakable atrocities financed by criminal co-conspirators in Washington.
In May 2010, Israeli commandos illegally interdicted six Freedom Flotilla ships in international waters, massacring nine activists aboard the Mavi Marmara mother ship.
Nonetheless, global activists are determined to break Gaza's siege, the first step to ending it altogether and freeing nearly 1.7 million people, isolated in the world's largest open-air prison.
By John Grant
Two veteran friends of mine will be on one of the ships planning to leave Athens next week to challenge the Israeli sea blockade of Gaza. The Israeli government, after attacking a previous flotilla in May 2010 and killing nine people, has said it will use violence if necessary to prevent the ships from entering what any reasonable person by now should agree are Palestinian waters.
This confrontation should not be necessary. The Israeli military occupation over Palestinian life should have been eased and sovereign rights established for Palestinians long ago. The crisis of Palestinian status has reached the level of a disaster, and like the creation of Israel itself it is more than a Jewish problem: It is a world problem.
Fifty years ago, freedom riders traveled by bus into the U.S. South. Now American freedom riders are joining their allies from around the world on a flotilla bound for Gaza. The U.S. ship is called The Audacity of Hope.
The heroes on this ship have pledged to sail unarmed and to refuse to use violence. The Israeli military, which continues to illegally blockade Gaza, causing endless suffering to the Gazan people, has pledged to use violent force to prevent the ships getting through.
Last May, the Israeli military, in international waters, illegally boarded another ship on a similar mission, the Mavi Marmara, killing nine people, including one American, and wounding dozens. Israel claimed, in its defense, that the Mavi Marmara carried no humanitarian aid, that all such supplies were on other ships in the flotilla.
The 36 American passengers (plus 4 crew and 10 members of the press) on board The Audacity of Hope have publicly stated that they will carry only letters: "thousands of letters of support and friendship from people throughout the U.S. to the women, children and men of Gaza."
This selfless courage will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with these freedom riders. Some of the ones I know best and am deeply concerned for the safety of are Ann Wright, Ray McGovern, Kathy Kelly, Medea Benjamin, Paki Wieland. These are people who habitually take risks for others. One comes to expect it of them, but also to expect them to always be there doing it. Robert Naiman will be on this ship, and Alice Walker, and Hedy Epstein. Below are videos of 17 of these heroes explaining why they are going.
The Freedom Riders of 1961 asked the U.S. government to protect them. Its efforts to do so were too little too late. The Freedom Riders of 2011 have also asked the U.S. government to protect them, and thus far received no such commitment. We can ask the U.S. State Department to ask Israel (recipient of billions of dollars in U.S. weaponry every year) not to assault this flotilla, and to allow those transporting aid and letters of good will to reach the suffering people of Gaza unharmed.
CONTACT THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,
You have urged our fellow citizens not to participate in an unarmed nonviolent humanitarian mission to Gaza by sea.
But have you urged Israel not to interfere with ships in international waters?
Have you urged Israel not to harm unarmed activists engaged in an actual humanitarian mission, the very thing your government pretends its wars are?
Have you urged Israel to lift the illegal and murderous blockade of Gaza?
We encourage you to take these steps to ensure the safety of Americans on board The Audacity of Hope sailing for Gaza in the Freedom Flotilla. And we encourage you to pressure Israel in the way that only a nation providing Israel with billions of dollars worth of weapons every year can, by threatening to cut them off.
We look forward to your response.
Videos and other resources at the same link.
Medical Care in Gaza (Part II) - by Stephen Lendman
On March 25, 2008, Time magazine writer Tim McGirk headlined "Israelis Blocking Medical Care in Gaza," saying:
"Since Gaza is denied (most everything under siege), many complicated surgeries are no longer done there." Those permitted abroad for them, like Bassam al-Wahedi, endure a gauntlet through Israel's "security maze."
Entering Egypt through Erez Crossing, "(h)e fumbled along tunnels, steel doors that opened and slammed as he passed along, entered a strange cylinder that fired a whoosh of air at him before he finally reached a large hall with an Israeli soldier sitting inside a bulletproof glass booth."
He showed his permit for scheduled surgery that afternoon. "(T)hree plainclothed Israelis with pistols and walkie-talkies led him past cages with growling dogs to a room where he was strip searched and interrogated by a man who identified himself as a" Shin Bet captain.
Gaza: Cradle of Killing — Americans Too
By Ray McGovern
June 18, 2011
Stuffing my backpack before setting out to board “The Audacity of Hope,” the U.S. boat to Gaza, I got a familiar-sounding call from yet another puzzled friend, who said as gently as the words allow, “You know you can get killed, don’t you?”
I recognize this caution as an expression of genuine concern from friends. From some others — who don’t much care about Gaza’s plight and/or who do not wish us well — the words are phrased somewhat differently: “Aren’t you just asking for it?”
That was the obligatory question/accusation at the end of a recent interview of me that was taped for a BBC-TV special scheduled to air this coming week as we try to break — or at least draw attention to — Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza and the suffering it inflicts on the people there.
On June 17, activists from the Stop Agrexco campaign, calling for the boycott of Israel?s leading produce exporter, took part in an action at the Italian headquarters in Milan.
Entering the Italian offices of the company, the activists delivered gift baskets of rotten fruit and vegetables to symbolize the Palestinian agricultural products rotting at Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank. While produce from the plantations of Israeli settlements built illegally in the Occupied Palestinian Territories makes its way to European markets via Agrexco - the company, 50% owned by the State of Israel, exports 70% of all agricultural products grown on confiscated land - the Palestinians find the road blocked by Israeli checkpoints.
Medical Care in Gaza Under Siege - by Stephen Lendman
Under siege, Israel continues to strangle Gaza. Poverty and unemployment are extremely high. Over 70% of the population requires humanitarian aid. Virtually everything is in short supply. Except for minimal amounts of some fruits, vegetables and flowers, exports are prohibited. Israel prevents access by sea and air. It's blockade is illegal but persists because Western powers and regional neighbors allow it.
Egypt's recent Rafah Crossing opening falls short of meeting Gaza's needs. On June 16, Gaza Gateway listed 10 reason why:
Crossings to Egypt remain limited, several hundred daily while 10,000 wish to travel. Moreover, it's for designated people only, not goods. Those allowed enter through Kerem Shalom Crossing.
The situation on both sides of the border is uncertain and unstable, including whether or not the opening will continue and under what conditions.
A Global Day of Action Set for November 26, 2011
by Stephanie Westbrook
This past weekend in the Montpellier, France, over 100 activists from 9 countries gathered for the first ever European Forum Against Agrexco. Delegates from Italy, UK, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Palestine joined the French organizers for two full days of workshops aimed at strengthening the boycott campaign against the Israeli agricultural export giant.
Agrexco is Israel's largest fresh produce exporter and European markets account for the vast majority of their sales under the brand Carmel. The Israeli government's 50% stake in the company as well as their marketing of 60-70% of the fruit and vegetables grown in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank have made Agrexco a prime strategic target for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Palestinian Divisions on Statehood - by Stephen Lendman
On June 9, Haaretz writer Barak Ravid headlined, "Palestinian leadership divided over plan to seek UN recognition," saying:
Senior Palestinian Authority (PA) officials are "sharply divided over the unilateral move to seek" UN General Assembly recognition in September. Abbas wants it. Others don't "because they believe (it) could do more harm than good to their cause," hurting Israel perhaps but not helping themselves.
Those opposed include Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (a former World Bank/IMF official closely tied to Israeli/Washington/Western interests), former Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, and former Palestinian UN envoy Nasser al-Qudwa.
Ravid said al-Qudwa's "opposition is particularly significant because he is considered the most experienced Palestinian official (in) dealing with the United Nations." He's also a possible presidential candidate.
On July 8th: "Welcome to Palestine"
By Elsa Rassbach
Mazin Qumsiyeh of Bethlehem believes this will be a "summer of change." One year after the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, during which the Israeli military killed nine Turkish passengers, Palestinian, Israeli, American and German activists met in Berlin: the focus for this coming summer is not only the Israeli blockade against Gaza, but also the one around the West Bank.
On July 8th hundreds of international activists plan to arrive at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv to accept the invitation of 30 Palestinian civil-society organizations to participate in the initiative "Welcome to Palestine."
Naksa Day Commemorates Decades of Israeli State Terror - by Stephen Lendman
Supported, funded and armed by Washington, Israelis terrorize Palestinians daily. From late May to early June alone, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), Palestine News Network, and others reported:
-- an Iraq Bourin village child wounded;
-- in Bil'in village, one resident wounded, another 15 arrested, including eight international human rights activists against Israel's illegal Separation Wall, stealing up to 12% of Palestinian land when completed;
-- on May 29 at 1AM, Israeli forces stormed Bil'in village, panicking residents with sound bombs while they slept;
-- on June 3, IDF troops attacked weekly Bil'in anti-Wall protesters with tear gas, sound bombs, rubber bullets, and sprayed sewage water, injuring six and many others from asphyxiating fumes;
Doctors on Israel's Forty-Four Year Occupation - by Stephen Lendman
Under international law, Israel's 44 year occupation is oppressive and illegal for having:
-- attacked a nonbelligerent state;
-- annexed it forcefully;
-- exploited its resources and people;
-- stolen their land and property;
-- violated their human rights by collective punishment, war and numerous crimes against humanity; and
-- failed to recognize Palestinian self-determination under provisions of the December 1960 UN General Assembly Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and all UN resolutions before and thereafter affirming Palestinian self-determination, including:
-- the UN Partition Plan (GA Resolution 181, 1947) granting Jews (with one-third of the population) 56% of historic Palestine, the rest to Palestinians with Jerusalem designated an international city under a UN Trusteeship Council;
By Ann Wright
In the latest Israeli diplomatic attempt to stop the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, Israel leaned on the Obama administration to put heavy pressure on the Government of Turkey to refuse to allow Turkish ships to join the international citizen activist initiative to end Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza. Israeli diplomats have been intimidating, threatening and cajoling countries in Europe, Canada and the United States in the past six weeks to dissuade their citizens from participating in the flotilla and to forbid ships to depart from their countries. (http://www.truthout.org/why-we-must-sail-gaza/1305382992?q=israelis-moun...)
U.S. says challenging Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is “irresponsible and provocative”
Forty-Four Years of Occupation - by Stephen Lendman
On March 7, Palestinian Prisoners Society head Qadura Fares presented a paper to the UN International Meeting on the Question of Palestine, addressing the plight of political prisoners in Israeli prisons and detention facilities, saying:
Palestine "has been under criminal occupation for 44 years. During that time, (Israel) committed the worst crimes against humanity, violating every international instrument. The occupier has killed tens of thousands of our struggling people, most of them defenseless civilians. There have been over 800,000 instances of imprisonment. Tens of thousands of people have been injured," 30% left with permanent disabilities.
Moreover, thousands of homes, crops, and other property have been destroyed. "All this has been done in full view of the world." Even Israeli rabbis "legitimized the slaughter of Palestinian babies (claiming they'll) grow up to become enemies."
By Ken Ferguson
Cupar, Scotland--This county town of Fife, is not exactly a news hot spot. Probably the last big story here was the landing of Italian
balloonist Vincenzo Lunardi nearby in 1785 at the end of a 43-mile flight from
However the small town’s sleepy Sheriff court is about to host a key
legal case involving a US student from New York and two anti Israeli
protestors who have been charged with racism.
For the information of US readers, in Scotland the Sheriff isn’t some John Wayne figure with the star on his chest, but is rather the bewigged judge presiding over the local court.
This case centers on an incident at nearby St. Andrews University, where
two students are facing racially aggravated conduct charges after
allegedly making comments and gestures critical of the State of Israel
and its flag.
Press reports are already in danger of prejudging the case, with
Netanyahu's War on Gaza - by Stephen Lendman
Governing lawlessly by any standard, Netanyahu waged war on Gaza since becoming Israel's prime minister for the second time on March 31, 2009.
Under his leadership, May 31 marked the anniversary of Israel's barbaric slaughter of nine Freedom Flotilla activists in international waters, injuring dozens more trying to deliver thousands of tons of vital aid to besieged Gazans, suffocating illegally since June 2007.
At the time, Defense Minister Ehud Barak blamed Flotilla organizers for inciting the attack, while his deputy, Danny Alalon, said they were connected to international terrorist organizations, trying to smuggle in arms. In fact, none were on board nor on other aid ships trying to breach Israel's lawless blockade.
Caught red-handed in a bald-faced lie, Haaretz writer Gideon Levy said:
On Anniversary of Mavi Marmara Killings, U.S. Boat to Gaza Announces Passenger List
New York, NY-May 31, 201l. Organizers of the U.S. Boat to Gaza announced today that they expect some 50 people will be aboard The Audacity of Hope when it joins the second "freedom flotilla" in late June to break the siege of Gaza.
The announcement came on the year's anniversary of the 2010 Israeli attack on unarmed passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara, killing nine, including an 18-year old U.S. citizen of Turkish descent.
Leslie Cagan, coordinator of the U.S. Boat to Gaza, said, "We are sailing-despite threats by the Israeli armed forces to use attack dogs and snipers against us-and despite frantic diplomatic pressure by the Israeli government to prevent other countries from allowing the flotilla to sail." She commented that while Egypt has just opened the Rafah border to Gaza, the maritime blockade and the Israeli siege of Gaza still exist.
Posted on May 30, 2011 by kathleenkirwin
On this Memorial Day, 2011, Joni Mitchell’s Fiddle and the Drum is sadly all too relevant. As a Canadian, Joni composed the song in 1969 to tell the United States how “we have all come to fear the beating of your drum.” I have been singing this song ever since. It is a piece of my soul. I share it today in memory of the untold numbers who Amercia has killed while beating the drums of war.
And so once again
My dear Johnny my dear friend
And so once again you are fightin’ us all
And when I ask you why
You raise your sticks and cry, and I fall
Oh, my friend
How did you come
To trade the fiddle for the drum
You say I have turned
Like the enemies you’ve earned
But I can remember
All the good things you are
And so I ask you please
Can I help you find the peace and the star
Oh, my friend
What time is this
To trade the handshake for the fist
We Call Upon the International Community to Restrain Israel
[Istanbul] One year ago today, six ships carrying nearly 700 human rights defenders, met at sea to commence the last leg of our voyage to Gaza to break Israel’s brutal stranglehold on 1.5 million Palestinians. A few hours later the Israeli military launched a full-scale assault on our civilian convoy, killing nine of our colleagues and injuring over 50 others.
Despite widespread condemnation and an UN-commissioned investigation that found Israel’s acts unlawful, possibly amounting to war crimes, Israel has yet to be held accountable. Families of the victims killed on the Mavi Marmara await justice and millions of Palestinians continue to demand their human rights respected.
Netanyahu Spurns Peace - by Stephen Lendman
Calling for Palestinian capitulation, not peace and liberation, Netanyahu delivered a litany of lies, fabrications, misstatements, and half-truths to AIPAC members on May 23, saying:
-- "Israel is unjustly accused of not wanting peace with the Palestinians. Nothing could be further from the truth." In fact, he once called the peace process "a waste of time," governing accordingly to avoid it.
-- Peace "can only come through....mutual trust," he said, adding that he envisions "peace in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state." In fact, they're preconditions solely for them, no other states with which Israel has diplomatic relations, including peace treaty terms with Egypt and Jordan.
by Michel Chossudovsky and Julie Lévesque
The Spirit of Rachel Corrie (officially known as FINCH) carrying a humanitarian cargo to Gaza was attacked by an Israeli naval patrol within the so-called Palestinian Security Zone on May 15, at 10.54pm EDT. The ship is carrying 7.5 kilometers of UPVC (plastic) sewage pipes to help restore the devastated sewerage system in Gaza.
Global Research is a partner with the Perdana Global Peace Foundation's mission. A member of Global Research is on board the ship.
After being attacked by Israel and stranded in Egyptian territorial waters for 7 days, The Spirit of Rachel Corrie has lifted anchor and is sailing back towards Gaza [8.33am EDT, 14.33pm local time] in defiance of both the Egyptian and Israeli navy patrols. SPREAD THE WORD
We call upon human rights organizations, Palestinian solidarity organizations Worldwide to take an active position regarding the Spirit of Rachel Corrie.
SPREAD THE WORD, REPORT THIS MESSAGE ON FACEBOOK
Support the Spirit of Rachel Corrie's resolve to break the blockade. What happens in the next few hours will be decisive. Egypt is complicit in supporting the blockade.
The objective is to break the Egypt-Israel agreement and open up the border crossing by land and by sea between Egypt and Gaza.
The Spirit of Rachel Corrie Mission will inevitably have a direct bearing on future humanitarian endeavors including the Freedom Flotilla which is scheduled to sail to Gaza in June.
Stealing Palestinian Land Dunam by Dunam - by Stephen Lendman
One dunam is 1,000 square meters, four dunams to an acre. Israel is stealing them incrementally to control all valued Palestinian land, dispossessing indigenous people illegally in the process.
B'Tselem is the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. In May, it published a comprehensive report titled, "Dispossession & Exploitation: Israel's policy in the Jordan Valley & northern Dead Sea," saying:
Both areas contain "the largest land reserves in the West Bank," covering 1.6 million dunams or 28.8% of the Territory. It's home to 65,000 Palestinians in 29 communities, as well as another 15,000 in dozens of small Bedouin ones. In addition, about 9,400 Israelis live in 37 settlements, including seven outposts.
Poet, Author, Civil Rights activist Alice Walker says “The Gaza Flotilla is the Freedom Ride of This Era”
“If we allowed the Freedom Ride to stop after so much violence had been inflicted, the message would have been sent that they can stop a nonviolent campaign by inflicting massive violence." 1961, Diane Nash, Freedom Ride organizer
By Ann Wright
Alice Walker, one of America’s premier writers, poets and civil rights activists said this month, “The Gaza Flotilla is the Freedom Ride of this era.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VB6qZs-VJLw0). Remembering growing up in Mississippi, Walker said “We prayed for people to come to break through the Klan, the racist police, the white citizens’ councils, to come and see what we suffered with every day.” Walker added, “We must oppose oppression with every ounce of our blood. We must go and see what is happening and join our stories to their stories. We do this especially for the youth. It may take the rest of our lives, but we will start now.”
1961 Freedom Rides
Killing Rachel Corrie Twice - by Stephen Lendman
On May 16, at 6:54AM Gaza time (3:54AM GMT), in international waters, an Israeli naval vessel attacked the Malaysian owned Spirit of Rachel Corrie ship (officially the MV Finch), carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza. More details below.
Lawless Monday followed Nakba Day's bloody Sunday, Israeli security forces assaulting unprecedented numbers of nonviolent demonstrators in Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and along the Lebanese/Syrian borders.
Egypt was complicit, blocking activists from reaching Rafah. So was Jordan, forcefully preventing Palestinian supporters from approaching the King Hussein Jordan River Crossing Point.
Nonetheless, the day was potentially historic. Activists hope it will inspire greater global support for Palestinian liberation and justice, what only hindsight will show.
From the Stay Human Convoy in Gaza:
The Buffer Zone: realities of this accursed siege
This morning as well, we woke up after only a few hours' sleep: various meetings with our Palestinian comrades here, and which we have been able to attend to everyday, keep us all busy late into the evenings. These are obviously followed by the Convoy's endless assemblies, which keep us all awake until the early hours.
Montreal, 12.30 AM EST,
Global Research has been in contact with the Spirit of Rachel Corrie, a Malaysian ship carrying a humanitarian aid cargo to Gaza, which has been attacked in international waters by Israel.