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


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