Monday, June 28, 2010

Letters to Editors re Gaza Flotilla

The New York Daily News
June 8, 2010
To the Editor:
Thanks for your editorial, "The nature of the beasts," regarding the Gaza flotilla.
I'm wondering if you will print a correction  since Israel has effectively admitted that the "Shut up and go back to Auschwitz," statement was created in an Israeli government laboratory where it doctored the tape [see the testimony below]  in an attempt to discredit those who were protesting the Gaza blockade. Israel is evidently shameless -- and much worse. I trust there is more integrity in the offices of one of NYC's great newspapers.
Ronald Bleier
From Democracy Now with Amy Goodman, 6.7.2010
AMY GOODMAN: You reported on this as soon as the IDF released its doctored audio. This is the initial clip the IDF released last week.
ISRAELI SHIP: [inaudible] This is the Israeli navy. You are approaching an area which is under a naval blockade.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Shut up. Go back to Auschwitz.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We have permission from the Gaza Port Authority to enter.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We’re helping Arabs going against the US. Don’t forget 9/11, guys.

AMY GOODMAN: Max Blumenthal, can you explain what you found fishy about this clip? Also, the IDF’s retraction and your thoughts on that? Also, you managed to get an earlier apology from the IDF last week regarding a press release they sent out two days after the assault claiming that approximately forty flotilla passengers, quote, "are mercenaries belonging to the Al Qaeda terror organization." When you questioned the Israeli military press office, you didn’t get the evidence you asked for, but press release was modified. The original headline was changed from "Attackers of the IDF Soldiers Found to be Al Qaeda Mercenaries" to read, quote, "Attackers of the IDF Soldiers Found Without Identification Papers." Explain what’s happened in these cases, the doctored audio and the press release.
MAX BLUMENTHAL: Well, as soon as I arrived here in Israel, it became pretty clear to me that the IDF’s press operation was being run by someone with the journalistic integrity of James O’Keefe. First I found this press release where the IDF claimed that forty people onboard the Mavi Marmara were al-Qaeda mercenaries, and their evidence was that they had night-vision goggles and possibly gas masks, which clearly proves they’re linked to bin Laden. So I called the IDF along with my journalistic colleague Lia Tarachansky, who called them in Hebrew. I called them in English. We both got the same response: there is no evidence. This claim came from Netanyahu’s inner circle. And they immediately changed the press release to say forty passengers "found without identification" onboard the Mavi Marmara, basically retracting the al-Qaeda claim.
The second lie we were able to basically prove was that the IDF had doctored the footage you played, which sounds sort of like a prank call by a mentally deficient pre-adolescent. And clearly what the IDF and what the Israeli government is trying to do is present the confrontation with the flotilla in the context of the Holocaust to further incite nationalistic sentiment among the Israeli public. And it succeeded. But they have admitted that they doctored the footage and have now released, after releasing a previous audio clip, which showed—which presented entirely different audio from the same exchange, a new audio clip presenting different audio, which they claim is the full exchange. But now they’ve claimed that a lot of this audio did not come from the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish ship. So their story isn’t holding up.
And what this demonstrates is that nothing that the IDF says can be trusted, not one single word.

Susan L. Rosenbluth

Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

The Jewish Voice and Opinion

Englewood, NJ 07631


June 18, 2010

Dear Susan L. Rosenbluth:

Thank you for your article “The ‘Armada of Hate’ Had Only One Goal: Force Israel to End Its Legal Blockade So Gaza Can Get Weapons,” June 2010, Vol 23 No 8. 

I found your article confusing because you seem to indicate that it’s appropriate for Israel to impose a blockade on Gaza because the territory is controlled by Hamas. But at the same time you cite statistics to seem to indicate that there is no humanitarian crisis raised by the blockade because a sufficient amount of trucks with supplies arrive in Gaza each day. 

However, according to Oxfam, the number of trucks of relief items allowed in to Gaza was just 22 percent of what it was before the blockade was tightened in 2007. 

According to a recent report of the Gisha organization for freedom, Israel today [before Israel’s 6.18.10 announcement] allows 97 items to be brought into Gaza, compared to 4,000 before the siege. The same report noted that a large Israeli supermarket holds 10,000-15,000 items. 

In addition, the Red Cross said more than 100 essential medicines and many basic medical supplies are no longer available in Gaza due to the blockade. A new report by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem says the blockade has led to economic collapse in Gaza: 95 percent of Gaza’s factories have closed, 98 percent of residents suffer from blackouts, and 93 percent of Gaza’s water is polluted. 

Also, I understand that there is extensive damage to Gaza’s sewage system. According to Oxfam, damage to the sewage system results in 28 Olympic swimming pools of raw sewage pumped into the sea of Gaza every day, leading to what experts fear is blanket nitrate poisoning of the population. 

It’s difficult to understand how the justice of Israeli control over Gaza is reflected in such conditions. 

As far as whether the blockade is legal according to international law, the International Committee of the Red Cross declared, "The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility. The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law."


Ronald Bleier


Friday, June 04, 2010


 Here's the first part of the Prison Planet report. Democracy Now also quoted eyewitnesses who said the IDF came in shooting.
Notice how effective are the Israelis even in the face of the clearest brutality and viciousness  in getting their spin across.
One of the still  mysterious points. The report below suggests that about 20 people, not 9,  were killed. And I think it was a BBC report (on NYC public radio, 6.3.10) which quoted Turkish sources as saying that not all the people on the Mavi Marmara are accounted for.
Israel Forces Fired On Sleeping Civillians Under Cover Of Darkness
Heavily armed soldiers "began to shoot the moment their feet hit the deck"
Steve Watson
May 31st, 2010
While the Israeli government is praising it's soldiers as heroes and saying they were acting in self defence by firing on unarmed civilians flying a white flag in international waters, one group involved with the Freedom Flotilla has a quite different story.
A spokeswoman for Israel Defence Forces (IDF), Avital Leibovich, claims that Israeli officers gave several warnings before boarding the the Turkish boat, the Mavi Marmara.
Somehow, according to Leibovich, when the soldiers did board the boat, they were then attacked by unarmed activists and relieved of their guns – a claim that is not backed up by video footage of the ambush.
Leibovich told reporters "We found ourselves in the middle of a lynching,"
"We didn't look for confrontation but it was a massive attack," she said. "What happened was a last resort."
This story is on its face ridiculous.
The following press release came from , one of the aid groups involved in the flotilla, in the wake of the attack:
Under darkness of night, Israeli commandoes dropped from a helicopter onto the Turkish passenger ship, Mavi Marmara, and began to shoot the moment their feet hit the deck.
They fired directly into the crowd of civilians asleep. According to the live video from the ship, two have been killed, and 31 injured. Al Jazeera has just confirmed the numbers.
Streaming video shows the Israeli soldiers shooting at civilians, and our last SPOT beacon said, "HELP, we are being contacted by the Israelis."
As things currently stand 20 people are thought to have been killed in the attack.
While the IDF and the Israeli government claim that their soldiers were attacked by violent political agitators wielding knives, several videos of those on board the boats and scenes from their voyage reveal that they are peaceful civilians that could not possibly constitute any threat to one of the most powerful armies on the planet.
In the following clip American born pro-Palestinian activist Huwaida Arraf, the Free Gaza Movement chairperson and delegation co-coordinator for the flotilla, explains the mission of the flotilla noting that "Israel is threatening to attack us, to use force if necessary when it is obvious that we are average civilians, we don't constitute any threat except for the fact that we want to stand up for the right of the Palestinian people to lead a life with dignity."

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Gilad Atzmon: Israeli Butchery at Sea

There's going to be a lot about this. Here's an early account from an Israeli activist Gilad Atzmon  (h/t Israel Shamir) who predicted a bloody outcome simply from the Israeli government's spin days and hours earlier that the victims were terrorists and carried weapons. Also interesting is that Atzmon tried to warn the activists, some of whom, he points out,  would be older people, that there would be violence. As Atzmon writes, the Israeli Cabinet, the military elites (and no doubt Netanyahu himself, not to mention Barak) planned the attack in advance.
In a Monday morning BBC report/interview carried on NY public radio, the BBC reporter couldn't understand why these Free Gaza ships carrying cement and supplies would continue.
If I had to guess, this story will last only two or three days. It would be nice to think that the victims will not have died in vain.
Israeli Butchery at Sea
by Gilad Atzmon  
Monday, May 31, 2010 
As I write this piece the scale of the Israeli lethal slaughter at sea is yet to be clear. However we already know that at around 4am Gaza time, hundreds of IDF commandos stormed the Free Gaza international humanitarian fleet. We learn from the Arab press that at least 16 peace activists have been murdered and more than 50 were injured.  Once again it is devastatingly obvious that Israel is not trying to hide its true nature: an inhuman murderous collective  fuelled by a psychosis and driven by paranoia.
For days the Israeli government  prepared the Israeli society for the massacre at sea. It said that the Flotilla carried weapons, it had ‘terrorists’ on board. Only yesterday evening it occurred to me that this Israeli malicious media spin was there to prepare the Israeli public for a full scale Israeli deadly military operation in international waters.  Make no mistake. If I knew exactly where Israel was heading and the possible
consequences, the Israeli cabinet and military elite were fully aware of it all the way along.  What happened yesterday wasn’t just a pirate terrorist  attack. It was actually murder in broad day light even though it happened in the dark. 
Yesterday at 10 pm I contacted Free Gaza and shared with them everything I knew. I obviously grasped that hundreds of peace activists most of them elders, had very little chance against the Israeli killing machine. I was praying all night for our brothers and sisters.  At 5am GMT the news broke to the world. In international waters Israel raided an innocent international convoy of boats carrying cement, paper and medical aid to the besieged Gazans. The Israelis were using live ammunition murdering and injuring everything around them.
Today we will see demonstrations around the world, we will see many events mourning our dead.  We may even see some of Israel’s friends ‘posturing’ against the slaughter. Clearly this is not enough.
The massacre that took place yesterday was a premeditated Israeli operation. Israel wanted blood because it believes that its ‘power of deterrence’  expands with the more dead it leaves behind. The Israeli decision to use hundreds of commando soldiers against civilians was taken by the Israeli cabinet together with the Israeli top military commanders. What we saw yesterday wasn’t just a failure on the ground. It was actually an institutional failure of a morbid society that a long time ago lost touch with humanity. 
It is no secret that Palestinians are living in a siege for years. But it is now down to the nations to move on and mount the ultimate pressure on Israel and its citizens. Since the massacre yesterday was committed by a popular army that followed instructions given by a ‘democratically elected' government, from now on, every Israeli  should be considered as a  suspicious war criminal unless proved different.
Considering the fact that Israel stormed naval vessels sailing under Irish, Turkish and Greek flags. Both NATO  members and EU countries must immediately cease their  relationships with  Israel  and close their airspace to Israeli airplanes.   
Considering yesterday’s news about Israeli nuclear submarines being stationed in the Gulf, the world must react quickly and severely.  Israel is now officially mad and deadly. The Jewish State is not just careless about human life,  as we have been following  the Israeli press campaign leading to the slaughter,  Israel actually  seeks pleasure in inflicting pain and devastation on others.