Site search Web search

powered by FreeFind

Indexed by the FreeFind Search Engine

Contact us at: red-jos_at_red-jos_net

7 JANUARY 2010

Cairo declaration: end Israeli apartheid

Published on 3 January 2010 in Israel

The Gaza Freedom March (GFM) is over but the following declaration, led by South African trade unionists, has been issued globally and is a clear plan for future actions.

Although drafted by delegates from the GFM, its aim is far more ambitious. I encourage readers to read it, sign it and get involved. One of the strengths of the GFM was the hugely international nature of the event, drawing in various groups who want action on Palestine. We didn’t all agree, of course, and nobody even talked about one-state or two-state as a possible outcome. It was more focused on removing Israeli impunity and highlighting the urgent need for bringing Israel to its senses. That won’t happen, in my view, by simply hoping for the best.

Here’s the statement:

End Israeli Apartheid

Cairo Declaration

January 1, 2010

We, international delegates meeting in Cairo during the Gaza Freedom March 2009 in collective response to an initiative from the South African delegation, state:

In view of:
o Israel’s ongoing collective punishment of Palestinians through the illegal occupation and siege of Gaza;
o the illegal occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the continued construction of the illegal Apartheid Wall and settlements;
o the new Wall under construction by Egypt and the US which will tighten even further the siege of Gaza;
o the contempt for Palestinian democracy shown by Israel, the US, Canada, the EU and others after the Palestinian elections of 2006;
o the war crimes committed by Israel during the invasion of Gaza one year ago;
o the continuing discrimination and repression faced by Palestinians within Israel;
o and the continuing exile of millions of Palestinian refugees;
o all of which oppressive acts are based ultimately on the Zionist ideology which underpins Israel;
o in the knowledge that our own governments have given Israel direct economic, financial, military and diplomatic support and allowed it to behave with impunity;
o and mindful of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (2007)
We reaffirm our commitment to:
Palestinian Self-Determination
Ending the Occupation
Equal Rights for All within historic Palestine
The full Right of Return for Palestinian refugees

We therefore reaffirm our commitment to the United Palestinian call of July 2005 for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to compel Israel to comply with international law.

To that end, we call for and wish to help initiate a global mass, democratic anti-apartheid movement to work in full consultation with Palestinian civil society to implement the Palestinian call for BDS.

Mindful of the many strong similarities between apartheid Israel and the former apartheid regime in South Africa, we propose:

1) An international speaking tour in the first 6 months of 2010 by Palestinian and South African trade unionists and civil society activists, to be joined by trade unionists and activists committed to this programme within the countries toured, to take mass education on BDS directly to the trade union membership and wider public internationally;
2) Participation in the Israeli Apartheid Week in March 2010;
3) A systematic unified approach to the boycott of Israeli products, involving consumers, workers and their unions in the retail, warehousing, and transportation sectors;
4) Developing the Academic, Cultural and Sports boycott;
5) Campaigns to encourage divestment of trade union and other pension funds from companies directly implicated in the Occupation and/or the Israeli military industries;
6) Legal actions targeting the external recruitment of soldiers to serve in the Israeli military, and the prosecution of Israeli government war criminals; coordination of Citizen’s Arrest Bureaux to identify, campaign and seek to prosecute Israeli war criminals; support for the Goldstone Report and the implementation of its recommendations;
7) Campaigns against charitable status of the Jewish National Fund (JNF).
We appeal to organisations and individuals committed to this declaration to sign it and work with us to make it a reality.

Please e-mail us at

Signed by:
(* Affiliation for identification purposes only.)
1. Hedy Epstein, Holocaust Survivor/ Women in Black*, USA
2. Nomthandazo Sikiti, Nehawu, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Affiliate International Officer*, South Africa
3. Zico Tamela, Satawu, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Affiliate International Officer*, South Africa
4. Hlokoza Motau, Numsa, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Affiliate International Officer*, South Africa
5. George Mahlangu, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Campaigns Coordinator*, South Africa
6. Crystal Dicks, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Education Secretary*, South Africa
7. Savera Kalideen, SA Palestinian Solidarity Committee*, South Africa
8. Suzanne Hotz, SA Palestinian Solidarity Group*, South Africa
9. Shehnaaz Wadee, SA Palestinian Solidarity Alliance*, South Africa
10. Haroon Wadee, SA Palestinian Solidarity Alliance*, South Africa
11. Sayeed Dhansey, South Africa
12. Faiza Desai, SA Palestinian Solidarity Alliance*, South Africa
13. Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada*, USA
14. Hilary Minch, Ireland Palestine Solidarity Committee*, Ireland
15. Anthony Loewenstein, Australia
16. Sam Perlo-Freeman, United Kingdom
17. Julie Moentk, Pax Christi*, USA
18. Ulf Fogelström, Sweden
19. Ann Polivka, Chico Peace and Justice Center*, USA
20. Mark Johnson, Fellowship of Reconciliation*, USA
21. Elfi Padovan, Munich Peace Committee*/Die Linke*, Germany
22. Elizabeth Barger, Peace Roots Alliance*/Plenty I*, USA
23. Sarah Roche-Mahdi, CodePink*, USA
24. Svetlana Gesheva-Anar, Bulgaria
25. Cristina Ruiz Cortina, Al Quds-Malaga*, Spain
26. Rachel Wyon, Boston Gaza Freedom March*, USA
27. Mary Hughes-Thompson, Women in Black*, USA
28. David Letwin, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN)*, USA
29. Jean Athey, Peace Action Montgomery*, USA
30. Gael Murphy, Gaza Freedom March*/CodePink*, USA
31. Thomas McAfee, Journalist/PC*, USA
32. Jean Louis Faure, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN)*, France
33. Timothy A King, Christians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East*, USA
34. Gail Chalbi, Palestine/Israel Justice Project of the Minnesota United Methodist Church*, USA
35. Ouahib Chalbi, Palestine/Israel Justice Project of the Minnesota United Methodist Church*, USA
36. Greg Dropkin, Liverpool Friends of Palestine*, England
37. Felice Gelman, Wespac Peace and Justice New York*/Gaza Freedom March*, USA
38. Ron Witton, Australian Academic Union*, Australia
39. Hayley Wallace, Palestine Solidarity Committee*, USA
40. Norma Turner, Manchester Palestine Solidarity Campaign*, England
41. Paula Abrams-Hourani, Women in Black (Vienna)*/ Jewish Voice for Just Peace in the Middle East*, Austria
42. Mateo Bernal, Industrial Workers of the World*, USA
43. Mary Mattieu, Collectif Urgence Palestine*, Switzerland
44. Agneta Zuppinger, Collectif Urgence Palestine*, Switzerland
45. Ashley Annis, People for Peace*, Canada
46. Peige Desgarlois, People for Peace*, Canada
47. Hannah Carter, Canadian Friends of Sabeel*, Canada
48. Laura Ashfield, Canadian Friends of Sabeel*, Canada
49. Iman Ghazal, People for Peace*, Canada
50. Filsam Farah, People for Peace*, Canada
51. Awa Allin, People for Peace*, Canada
52. Cleopatra McGovern, USA
53. Miranda Collet, Spain
54. Alison Phillips, Scotland
55. Nicholas Abramson, Middle East Crisis Response Network*/Jews Say No*, USA
56. Tarak Kauff, Middle East Crisis Response Network*/Veterans for Peace*, USA
57. Jesse Meisler-Abramson, USA
58. Hope Mariposa, USA
59. Ivesa Lübben. Bremer Netzwerk fur Gerechten Frieden in Nahost*, Germany
60. Sheila Finan, Mid-Hudson Council MERC*, USA
61. Joanne Lingle, Christians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East (CPJME)*, USA
62. Barbara Lubin, Middle East Children’s Alliance*, USA
63. Josie Shields-Stromsness, Middle East Children’s Alliance*, USA
64. Anna Keuchen, Germany
65. Judith Mahoney Pasternak, WRL* and Indypendent*, USA
66. Ellen Davidson, New York City Indymedia*, WRL*, Indypendent*, USA
67. Ina Kelleher, USA
68. Lee Gargagliano, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (Chicago)*, USA
69. Brad Taylor, OUT-FM*, USA
70. Helga Mankovitz, SPHR (Queen’s University)*, Canada
71. Mick Napier, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign*, Scotland
72. Agnes Kueng, Paso Basel*, Switzerland
73. Anne Paxton, Voices of Palestine*, USA
74. Leila El Abtah, The Netherlands
75. Richard, Van der Wouden, The Netherlands
76. Rafiq A. Firis, P.K.R.*/Isra*, The Netherlands
77. Sandra Tamari, USA
78. Alice Azzouzi, Way to Jerusalem*, USA
79. J’Ann Schoonmaker Allen, USA
80. Ruth F. Hooke, Episcopalian Peace Fellowship*, USA
81. Jean E. Lee, Holy Land Awareness Action Task Group of United Church of Canada*, Canada
82. Delphine de Boutray, Association Thèâtre Cine*, France
83. Sylvia Schwarz, USA
84. Alexandra Safi, Germany
85. Abdullah Anar, Green Party – Turkey*, Turkey
86. Ted Auerbach, USA
87. Martha Hennessy, Catholic Worker*, USA
88. Louis Ultale, Interfaile Pace e Bene*, USA
89. Leila Zand, Fellowship of Reconciliation*, USA
90. Emma Grigore, CodePink*, USA
91. Sammer Abdelela, New York Community of Muslim Progressives*, USA
92. Sharat G. Lin, San Jose Peace and Justice Center*, USA
93. Katherine E. Sheetz, Free Gaza*, USA
94. Steve Greaves, Free Gaza*, USA
95. Trevor Baumgartner, Free Gaza*, USA
96. Hanan Tabbara, USA
97. Marina Barakatt, CodePink*, USA
98. Keren Bariyov, USA
99. Ursula Sagmeister, Women in Black – Vienna*, Austria
100. Ann Cunningham, Australia
101. Bill Perry, Delaware Valley Veterans for Peace*, USA
102. Terry Perry, Delaware Valley Veterans for Peace*, USA
103. Athena Viscusi, USA
104. Marco Viscusi, USA
105. Paki Wieland, Northampton Committee*, USA
106. Manijeh Saba, New York / New Jersey, USA
107. Ellen Graves, USA
108. Zoë Lawlor, Ireland – Palestine Solidarity Campaign*, Ireland
109. Miguel García Grassot, Al Quds – Málaga*, Spain
110. Ana Mamora Romero, ASPA-Asociacion Andaluza Solidaridad y Paz*, Spain
111. Ehab Lotayef, CJPP Canada*, Canada
112. David Heap, London Anti-War*, Canada
113. Adie Mormech, Free Gaza* / Action Palestine*, England
114. Aimee Shalan, UK
115. Liliane Cordova, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN)*, Spain
116. Priscilla Lynch, USA
117. Jenna Bitar, USA
118. Deborah Mardon, USA
119. Becky Thompson, USA
120. Diane Hereford, USA
121. David Heap, People for Peace London*, Canada
122. Donah Abdulla, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights*, Canada
123. Wendy Goldsmith, People for Peace London*, Canada
124. Abdu Mihirig, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights-UBC*, Canada
125. Saldibastami, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights-UBC*, Canada
126. Abdenahmane Bouaffad, CMF*, France
127. Feroze Mithiborwala, Awami Bharat*, India
128. John Dear, Pax Christi*, USA

29 MAY 2010

From The Age newspaper:

Filmmaker raps ABC

THE distributor of an Australian documentary sympathetic to the Palestinian cause was told it would not screen on the ABC until a program taking an opposing position was available for broadcast.

The ruling has outraged the film's distributors and Friends of the ABC, which accused the national broadcaster of a distortion of its commitment to impartiality.

The ABC wrote to Ronin Films, distributor of Hope in a Slingshot, to tell it of the concern over screening the documentary, which tells the story of Palestinians living under what it terms ''military occupation''.

Ronin Films managing director Andrew Pike said: ''The call for balance defies logic and contradicts the ABC's own routine programming decisions.'' He speculated that the ABC feared political repercussions.

1 JUNE 2010

From the Huffington Post:

The Second Gaza War: Israel Lost at Sea

By Bradley Burston
Columnist for Haaretz and Senior Editor,
Posted: June 1, 2010

A war tells a people terrible truths about itself. That is why it is so difficult to listen.

We were determined to avoid an honest look at the first Gaza war. Now, in international waters and having opened fire on an international group of humanitarian aid workers and activists, we are fighting and losing the second. For Israel, in the end, this Second Gaza War could be far more costly and painful than the first.

In going to war in Gaza in late 2008, Israeli military and political leaders hoped to teach Hamas a lesson. They succeeded. Hamas learned that the best way to fight Israel is to let Israel do what it has begun to do naturally: bluster, blunder, stonewall, and fume.

Hamas, and no less, Iran and Hezbollah, learned early on that Israel's own embargo against Hamas-ruled Gaza was the most sophisticated and powerful weapon they could have deployed against the Jewish state.

Here in Israel, we have still yet to learn the lesson: We are no longer defending Israel. We are now defending the siege of Gaza. The siege itself is becoming Israel's Vietnam.

Of course, we knew this could happen. On Sunday, when the army spokesman began speaking of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in terms of an attack on Israel, MK Nahman Shai, the IDF chief spokesman during the 1991 Gulf war, spoke publicly of his worst nightmare, an operation in which Israeli troops, raiding the flotilla, might open fire on peace activists, aid workers and Nobel laureates.

Likud MK Miri Regev, who also once headed the IDF Spokesman's Office, said early Monday that the most important thing now was to deal with the negative media reports quickly, so they would go away.

But they are not going to go away. One of the ships is named for Rachel Corrie, killed while trying to bar the way of an IDF bulldozer in Gaza seven years ago. Her name, and her story, have since become a lightning rod for pro-Palestinian activism.

Perhaps most ominously, in a stepwise, lemming-like march of folly in our relations with Ankara, a regional power of crucial importance and one which, if heeded, could have helped head off the First Gaza War, we have come dangerously close to effectively declaring a state of war with Turkey.

"This is going to be a very large incident, certainly with the Turks," said Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, the cabinet minister with the keenest sense of Israel's ties with the Muslim world.

We explain, time and again, that we are not at war with the people of Gaza. We say it time and again because we ourselves need to believe it, and because, deep down, we do not.

There was a time, when it could be said that we knew ourselves only in wartime. No longer. Now we know nothing. Yet another problem with refraining from talks with Hamas and Iran: They know us so much better than we know ourselves.

They know, as the song about the Lebanon War suggested ("Lo Yachol La'atzor Et Zeh") that we, unable to see ourselves in any clarity, are no longer capable of stopping ourselves.

Hamas, as well as Iran, have come to know and benefit from the toxicity of Israeli domestic politics, which is all too ready to mortgage the future for the sake of a momentary apparent calm.

They know that in our desperation to protect our own image of ourselves, we will avoid modifying policies which have literally brought aid and comfort to our enemies, in particular Hamas, which the siege on Gaza has enriched through tunnel taxes and entrenched through anger toward Israel.

For many on the right, it must be said, there will be a quiet joy in all of what is about to hit the fan. "We told you so," the crowing will begin. "The world hates us, no matter what we do. So we may as well go on building [Read: 'Settling the West Bank and East Jerusalem'] and defending our borders [Read: 'Bolster Hamas and ultimately harm ourselves by refusing to lift the Gaza embargo']."

Hamas, Iran and the Israeli and Diaspora hard right know, as one, that this is a test of enormous importance for Benjamin Netanyahu. Anxious to have the world focus on Iran and the threat it poses to the people of Israel, Netanyahu must recognize that the world is now focused on Israel and the threat it poses to the people of Gaza.

Originally appeared on

2 JUNE 2010

Letters from The Age newspaper:

Bias is this way …

EQUALLY as shocking as the attack on the aid flotilla is the coverage of the event by the bulk of the Australian media (''Israel kills boat protesters'', The Age, 1/6). Israel's comments are front, centre and back of the vast majority of the mainstream coverage, colouring these events with its propaganda.

Mark Regev, the Israeli government spokesman, gets an open mike and the Australian airwaves and headlines are full of accusations to the organisers of the aid fleet, replaying Israeli Defence Force quotes about its commandos coming under attack.

Where are our independent reporters? It appears we'll have to wait for Paul McGeough to be released from an Israeli prison before we will get the true story of what's been happening. By then, most people will have formed their opinion and switched off - and Israel gets away with piracy and murder.

Jeroen van Veen, Wedderburn

… No, it's that way

IT'S amazing how, according to the media, Israel is always the perpetrator.

The Israeli sailors were told to exercise maximum restraint. It was only after the activists attacked the sailors with weapons and gunfire that the sailors were forced to defend themselves.

This episode has been orchestrated to achieve exactly this kind of outcome. Why else would these so-called activists have refused to allow their goods to be offloaded for inspection in Egypt or Israel? Was it because they really did have something to hide, namely weapons for use by Hamas against Israeli citizens?

They were on a win-win propaganda exercise. If they were allowed through, the weapons would have been smuggled to Hamas. If intercepted, any violence would be blamed on the Israelis.

How about more balanced reporting, instead of this anti-Jewish, anti-Israeli slant?

Selwyn Herberg, Melbourne

Aid did not come first

WHY didn't the ''Palestinian peace activists'' accept the offers from the Egyptian and Israeli governments to land at their ports, unload, then deliver their aid? Was deliberately breaking the blockade of Gaza more important than seeing their aid safely reaching the people they claim need it so desperately? Was confrontation with Israel more important than the safety of the people on their boats?

Or was confrontation the goal of the organisers of this flotilla? The Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation was outlawed by Israel in 2008 for allegedly serving as a major component in Hamas's global fund-raising machine. This stunt has certainly succeeded in damaging Israel's image and inflaming regional tensions.

This flotilla is just another chapter in an international campaign to erode Israel's legitimate right to defend itself. Whether it was worth the damage to the ''activists'' on the boats is another question.

Robbie Gore, McKinnon

Weasel words in use

THE current illegal blockade of Gaza, which is three years old, followed a month-long Israeli offensive that destroyed Gaza's water, health and electricity infrastructure. It has devastated the 1.5 million Palestinians living there, with more than 60 per cent unemployment and severe shortages in food and medical supplies.

Most leaders lack the courage and dignity to call it as it is, a barbaric act of aggression against civilians. Instead they refer to their special ''Israel-friendly dictionary'', which only has words such as deplore, condemn and calls for inquiries.

The Australian government and opposition dictionaries include the phrases ''deeply saddened'' and ''deeply disturbing''. This is sad and disturbing.

Kevin Khoury, Newport, SA

Remember the Exodus

IT'S interesting how the wheel turns. Back in 1947 the Exodus was turned back from the then Palestine when wanting to land European Holocaust victims and others.

Sixty-three years later, other ships wanting to bring urgently needed supplies to Gaza are repelled in international waters, with tragic loss of life. There was also some suggestion of terrorism at that time, if memory serves me correct.

Rob Park, Surrey Hills


THERE have been too many weasel diplomatic terms to endure while Israel drives relentlessly from ''friendly'' to ''rogue'' status. Are we there yet?

Roger Green, Ferntree Gully

AN IRONIC twist of history sees Israel the persecuted become the persecutor.

Murray Smith, Adelaide, SA

DISGRACEFUL piracy, a disaster for Israel and yet more evidence of a military that has lost its sense of proportion and its moral compass.

Peter Topping, North Melbourne

3 JUNE 2010

Leunig in The Age 3 JUNE 2010

Letters from The Age newspaper:

Some food not allowed in Gaza

ROBBIE Gore and Selwyn Herberg (Letters, 2/6) ask why activists do not channel aid through Israel or Egypt.

Because Israel will not allow in rebuilding materials or even food staples such as lentils, chickpeas, macaroni, and tomato paste. A personal appeal to Ehud Barak by John Kerry did result in macaroni being allowed in (The Age, 29/5).

Because years ago Israeli policy created near-famine (50,000 children suffering malnutrition), destroyed 100,000 jobs, closed 90 per cent of factories/workshops (according to figures from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency figures), decimated electricity, fuel and water supplies, and left 70 per cent of Gazans, of whom 56 per cent are children, living on less than $2 a day.

Because, according to the World Health Organisation, Israel has left Gazans with well water ''unfit for human consumption'' since 2000, by its diversion of underground water.

This is what Israel claims as legitimate ''self-defence''. In fact, these are all acts of war and, as collective punishments, crimes against humanity.

Why not through Egypt? Because Egypt has attacked previous convoys and has been building an underground steel wall to prevent all smuggling into Gaza, medicines and food included.

Peter Kenyon, Gisborne

An offensive term

IT IS mistaken to conflate anti-Semitism with ''anti-Israel'', Selwyn Herberg (Letters, 2/6). Anti-Semitism, like all other forms of racism, is abhorrent and should be opposed at all times.

Arguments opposing the policies of (or even the very idea of) the state of Israel are legitimate, and in no way differ from political discourse in relation to other domestic or international issues.

There are hundreds of thousands of Jews like myself in Israel, US, Europe and elsewhere who strongly oppose Israel's Gaza policy. I regard it as offensive to be identified as ''anti-Jewish'' because I share a point of view that Israel is very wrong.

Naham Warhaft, Armadale

Fighting for its existence

NOT surprisingly, global demonstrations show most participants are of Arabic origin or Muslim. They are accusing Israel of terrorism, which would quite reasonably lead one to assume they are anti-terrorism. Where are they when suicide bombers kill civilian Israelis? Any loss of life is highly regrettable, but it is an outrage that Israel has had to fight for its existence since its establishment.

Eva Gross, St Kilda East

Alliance ended long ago

TO PREVENT the emergence of another anti-Israel myth - that this latest incident ruptured Israel's alliance with Turkey - the date January 29, 2010, should be noted. That's when Turkey's Premier Erdogan, at the Davos meeting of economic leaders, accused Israel of killing children.

Turkey had changed sides and joined in Iran's religious coalition. The first task was to help Iran avoid UN sanctions by undertaking to store Iran's enriched uranium. The next was to allow preparation of a sizeable Turkish ship carrying Turkish extremists, initiating the confronting violence of this week's ''humanitarian'' flotilla.

For nine decades, Turkey had been a secular country. Until this year it was indeed a military ally of Israel and of the US. Those characteristics are no longer typical of Turkey.

Ivan Cher, Caulfield North

Maybe the tide is turning

THE Israeli government's dismissal of mounting criticism is not new. But what is new is a shift in world opinion: away from abject disregard for the sufferings of an oppressed people towards indignation and despair at their ongoing collective punishment. In 2001 the late Palestinian intellectual Edward Said lamented that ''the appallingly unbroken history of Israel's 34-year-old military occupation of illegally conquered Palestinian land has been obliterated from public memory nearly everywhere''. Nine years on (and 43 years into the occupation), maybe the tide is turning.

Patrick Seal, Kallista

Leunig in The Age 4 June 2010

5 JUNE 2010

And another thing-----

From The Age


Eva Gross (4/6) states that "Israel has had to fight for its existence since its establishment". For most of its existence, Israel has fought for its expansion, very successfully.

Don Hampshire, Sunbury

Of all people, the Israelis should know what it feels like to be oppressed and dispossessed. Its long overdue to offer the Palestinians justice and freedom.

Angelo Kapsalis, Doncaster East

6 JUNE 2010

Received by email on 6 June 2010:

In their wake

June 5, 2010
The Age

Paul McGeough gives a first-hand account of the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara

WHEN he recounts the siege, 33-year-old Londoner Mustafa Ahmet is quite irreverent. Having done his ablutions, he joined a big group engaged in morning prayers on the aft deck of the Mavi Marmara as it pushed south in the Mediterranean. But then a cry went up: ''They're here! They're here!''

''They'' were Israeli commandos coming alongside the lead protest vessel in their assault craft. But the imam leading the prayers was unmoved. Instead of cutting proceedings, he seemed to go on forever. As Ahmet observed the commandos' arrival, ''it was like a scary movie - their helmets were shiny, the sea was shiny and battle ships sat off on either side. But the imam just kept on, holding us in position - it was bonkers''.

But then Ahmet becomes perplexed. ''We were a convoy of peace. But the Israeli choppers overhead, the smoke grenades … all the screaming, all the noise. People were running all ways and there was blood everywhere. But before we could do anything it was all over.''

The protesters had been preparing for the raid. People were distributing lifejackets and taking up positions on the rails. Groups had been rostered through the night to sleep or be at the ready, and electric angle-grinders were brought in to cut steel bars from the lifeboat bays along the main decks. Once the attack began, others would be ready to throw Israeli sound-bombs and tear-gas canisters back to where they came from.

Despite thoughts of what might lie ahead, there was good humour. Matthias Gardell, a key figure in the Swedish delegation, was getting used to his lifejacket, unaware that even though it was 3am back home, his 12-year-old daughter was out of bed and watching a live video-feed from the ship on the Free Gaza Movement's website. Seeing him in the video, she shot him an email: ''Dad, take it off - you look ridiculous.'' To which he fired back: ''It's past your bedtime.''

In an interview aboard the Mavi Marmara two days before the Israeli assault, Bulent Yildirim, head of the Turkish NGO IHH, which effectively ran the flotilla, said he believed Israel could not afford to pay the price of what he predicted would be a disaster if it intercepted the convoy.

The Jewish state was still smarting from international backlash over the use of passports from allied nations in the Dubai assassination.

Now European diplomats in Tel Aviv have denied the Israeli government's claim that the flotilla organisers had ties to Al-Qaeda.

Both sides are documenting their case.

The flotilla organisers accuse the Netanyahu government of hijacking their vessels in international waters, killing nine and wounding about 30 people in the process; of then taking almost 700 humanitarians and peace activists prisoner and forcibly taking them to Israel - and then charging them with illegal entry to the country.

The organisers will face government allegations that steel bars were used to beat troops; that weapons confiscated from captured commandos may have been used against their comrades.

Israel argues that 60 to 100 ''hard-core'' activists had been embedded in the Mavi Marmara. They included Turks, Afghans, Yemenis and an Eritrean who were experienced in hand-to-hand fighting.

Yesterday, the Israeli Navy claimed three commandos had been dragged unconscious into one of the ship's halls ''for several minutes'', before regaining consciousness and escaping. It was not clear if any of the three were among three commandos who the activists on board the Mavi Marmara have said were beaten, then sheltered and given medical treatment.

However, the flotilla crisis is not just about Israel.

The virtual takeover of what was a coalition of groups from a dozen countries by Turkish NGOs plays into regional politics. Long an Israeli ally, Turkey is flexing its muscles regionally, bonding with Syria, Iran, Iraq, Qatar and Hamas - and at the same time, awkwardly exposing the Arab world's flip-flops on the Palestinian cause and by its demonstrable actions, almost shaming them to do more.

Tucked in under all that, is Washington's role in the region. The rest of the world was quick to criticise Israel in the aftermath of the flotilla fiasco, but the Obama White House called for an Israeli inquiry, the kind of response that placates Israel but erodes US credibility in the region.

SOME on the ship thought the Israelis did not put enough into their opening shots.

Espen Goffeng, a Norwegian, said: ''I looked over the rail and saw the zodiacs. It seemed hopeless for the Israelis - they tried to lock-on their grappling hooks, but they were hit by the fire hoses and their own projectiles going back to them.''

He wondered if the boats had been a decoy to draw passengers to the rails while helicopters were used to land Israeli commandos higher in the ship. But that proved difficult too, with the first two lots of chopper-borne commandos being captured by the activists.

''The first ammunition I heard striking the ship sounded like paint balls,'' Goffeng said. ''But some people said there had to be glass in them, because of the wounds they caused. There was a lot of blood in the stairwells and then the sound of the ammunition hitting metal changed again - I decided that was the live ammunition. People were yelling, 'Live ammo! Live ammo!'''

He said that people in the TV broadcast area on the aft deck were being targeted. ''I helped to carry one of the dead down to the second deck, and as I returned, a man who had been shot in the leg was being carried down. And when I moved to the press room, one of the men who worked there was dead, with a hole in his forehead and half his head missing. Then there was an announcement on the PA system telling us, 'Keep calm; it's over … they have taken the ship and we have lost'.''

Soon after, Israeli soldiers smashed the doors to the press room, The Age was told, and then called the media workers forward one at a time. ''They searched us,'' said a cameraman who had managed to unpick the waistband of his underpants sufficiently to create mini-pockets in which he successfully secreted most of his cameras discs - a strip-search revealed just one of them. ''They took cell phones and hard drives . . and anything else that was capable of capturing or storing images.''

On the open decks and in the salons lower in the ship, conditions were far less pleasant than the press room.

Matthias Gardell, the Swede with a fashion-conscious daughter, complained of people being forced to kneel for hours on the open deck where prayers were held. But with an Israeli helicopter hovering constantly near the deck, its downdraft sprayed the prisoners with wind and water, in the circumstances a freezing combination. ''Keeping the choppers there seemed to be deliberate, as though they wanted to enfeeble us by holding us in such unpleasant conditions,'' he said.

People were not allowed to go to the restrooms. But Gardell was especially horrified by seeing the experience of a badly wounded man in his late 50s, who the Israeli troops forced to remain on the open deck. ''Suddenly, his right eye exploded in a gush of blood - and a blob of something fell out of it.''

The Israeli troops did come prepared. Canadian activist Kevin Neish found a booklet he believed had been dropped by one of the Israelis - it contained images of the key leadership figures, including IHH leader Bulent Yildirim and the nerves-of-steel Palestinian lawyer who headed the Free Gaza Movement, 34-year-old Huwaida Arraf. On being offloaded at Ashdod, she was last seen by The Age being frogmarched away from the detainee processing centre where her activist confreres were being processed through a chaotic maze of bureaucratic and security checkpoints.

And by the time the ship reached Ashdod, the passengers complained that most of their cases and other baggage had been strewn on the inside decks.

But there was an infectious camaraderie among the protesters on the flotilla - bound by politics, prayer and song; it was a finishing school for almost 700 new and articulate ambassadors from dozens of countries for the Palestinian cause. And the Netanyahu government has given them a story to tell. Like the Mossad's January assassination of a Hamas operative in Dubai, halting the Free Gaza flotilla has been a tactical success but, in hindsight, appears to have been a strategic disaster. The cost to Israel's international credibility may be great.

And these new advocates for Palestine were going home prepared - many were observed recording detailed accounts of their experience - with timelines and explanatory graphics.

Back home they may be better received than they might have been last week because of the tone of the trenchant criticism of Israel around the world. The images broadcast around the world, despite Israel's best efforts, dovetailed with the forthright account of the likes of Anne Jones, a former American diplomat and US Army colonel.

''The Israel Defence Forces acted as pirates in shooting at us and stealing our ships in international waters,'' she told The Age. ''They kidnapped us and brought us to Israel; they arrested and imprisoned us; they paraded us before cameras in violation of the Geneva Conventions.''

Blonde-haired and just 21, Jerry Campbell awoke at 4am to attend dawn prayers, but she had hardly bowed her head before she was dragged off to a nursing station to help treat four gunshot victims. Worse was in store for this young woman from Queensland's Gold Coast. ''I looked up as I was caring for a wounded Indonesian and saw my husband being carried in.'' That was 20-year-old Ahmed Luqman Talib who had been shot in the leg. She cut his blood-soaked clothing from him but then followed his instructions to tend to others. ''I'm OK,'' he told her.

She lost count of the number and nationalities of those she tended to. ''I saw two men die out there … they floor was covered in blood and the IV units were tied to the ceiling with bandages.''

Campbell went to and from her husband who seemed to be deteriorating. ''One man's stomach was opened - his intestines were out and the doctor reached inside and pulled out some bullets, before pushing everything back in and wrapping him up,'' she said. ''I don't know if he survived.''

Late on the second day in detention, Israeli officials showed 45-year-old Gigdem Topcuoghe, a Turkish woman, a picture of her dead husband - she became catatonic. At the Ella prison in Beersheba, she recounted to her fellow inmate and Fairfax photographer Kate Geraghty how, during the dawn prayers that heralded the attack on the Mavi Marmara, she had found her husband on the floor. He had been shot in the forehead and was bleeding from his mouth and nose.

''I think of first aid - I need to help him. I checked his breathing … he was bleeding faster. I gave him some water and started praying for him - I held him in my arms. He wasn't conscious - I held him tight, but I realised he was gone when he didn't react in any way, but my husband is not dead - he will live with and among us.''

Several witnesses have recounted in awe how Topcuoghe accepted condolences briefly - before leaving her husband's body to throw herself into helping the injured.

Later in Israeli detention, the new widow addressed her tearful friends, turning to the state of Israel. Describing the assault on the Mavi Marmara as inhuman, she urged Allah to show the people of Israel the right path, but then added: ''May they face more cruelty that we have, and when this happens we'll be there to help them - and to take humanitarian aid to them, just like centuries back when the Ottoman sultan sent aid and ships to rescue the Jews from Spanish cruelty.''

Time, brief as it was, spent inside the Israeli apparatus was revealing.

Whenever the flotilla prisoners were processed, security and other workers gathered to gawp, frequently producing mobile phones to shoot happy snaps of themselves in front of the prisoners. As a big group of men - your correspondent included - waited in Block 5 at the Ella Prison at Beersheba to be bussed to Ben Gurion Airport for deportation on Wednesday, a big group of security cadets was wheeled in to stare in wonderment, licking ice-creams as they did.

Several Europeans were distressed by the distinction the Israelis made between prisoners. The Norwegian activist Randi Kjos was genuinely shocked by what she observed. ''They treated us with hatred - the old were made to kneel for long periods and women had to sit with their arms crossed. Some of the wounded were naked to the waist … many were in shock.

''Palestinians and Arabs were treated very differently to Europeans or Westerners. Palestinians who asked for anything were belted, pushed around or treated with contempt. People warned me of the hatred I would see - but still, I was shocked.''

The Norwegian observed that many of the women prisoners were denied a phone call on the grounds that a functioning telephone ''was broken''. Others were furious on behalf of many Turkish women who were denied a call home because they could not satisfy their guards demand that they converse in English.

AT ELLA prison it quickly became clear that the guards were under strict instructions not to inflict physical violence on the prisoners. The detainees taunted the guards. ''We're all Palestinians,'' one of the prisoners delighted in telling an officer, over and over; while another guard became visibly upset when one of the prisoners told him, when he already was upset about another matter: ''You're not really cut out for this job - you should have been a school teacher.''

Whenever an officer clenched his fist in such exchanges, a colleague would move in and take him away.

But amid much taunting by prisoners, the refusal to lash out could last only for so long and at the airport a brawl erupted between deportees and their keepers, with several of the activists getting on the planes bruised.

As they left a detention system in which some had been subjected to more than half-a-dozen body searches, many still were subject to a humiliating, painfully slow strip-search by smirking airport staff as they quit the country.

As the Israelis continued to hold Bulent Yildirim till late into Wednesday night, a group of 15 detainees still being processed through the airport staged a protest when they observed Yildirim being put in a cell. ''So the security guys just attacked us,'' said Mohammed Bounoua, an Algerian who complained that he had been beaten three times during his less-than-72 hours in Israeli custody.

The 10-hour wait on the Ben Gurion tarmac and the late-night flight to Istanbul was joyous.

Three Turkish aircraft were parked adjacent to terminal 1 and as the Israeli authorities processed passengers at snail's pace, each was welcomed onto the aircraft with clapping, cheering, crying. There was a festive mood as friends who had been separated were reunited and pensive tears for those waiting for husbands, siblings, friends who had not been seen for days.

After several hours on the tarmac, the pilot announced that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had insisted that none of the aircraft would leave until all the Turkish activists and the bodies of the dead had been loaded.

There were bursts of song.

* * *

7 JUNE 2010

Petty in The Age 7 JUNE 2010

8 JUNE 2010

End U.S. support for Israeli terrorism against Gaza

The longstanding U.S. policy of arming the Israeli government to the teeth, and uncritically defending every anti-Palestinian policy it initiates, has resulted in an Israeli commando raid against a flotilla of boats bringing humanitarian aid to 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza. This "Freedom Flotilla" was attempting to break the Israeli blockade which has turned the people of Gaza into malnourished prisoners in their own land. Nine participants in this international effort were killed when Israeli soldiers boarded boats containing food, medicine, building supplies and other essentials for survival and began shooting.

The Obama administration supports the blockade, just as the Bush administration did before it, and continues to give $3 billion a year in aid to the Israelis. The president's response to the killings has been to call for a "transparent investigation." But an investigation for what purpose? To establish that Israeli commandos gunned down people armed with sticks and sling shots? The president expresses "strong frustration" with the Israelis in private, according to the New York Times. However, a White House statement issued after the attack on the flotilla said that Mr. Obama "understood the prime minister's (Netanyahu) decision to return immediately to Israel to deal with today's events." Too bad he doesn't understand why Turkey and human rights organizations organized this aid flotilla for Gaza in the first place! He should have had Netanyahu arrested for crimes against humanity.

The unprovoked attack on the flotilla has unleashed a torrent of protests, official and unofficial around the world. But just as with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration is showing its true colours by expressing "regret" over the loss of life and leaving the handling of the whole affair in the hands of those who are responsible for this disaster. Will the world wait for more than a month before the president has anything worthwhile to say on the subject of this terrorist attack on the flotilla, much less takes any action? Perhaps another press conference is in order so he can tell the world that he takes "full responsibility" for the actions of the Israeli military which his administration continues to keep well-supplied with armaments, favourable press releases and support in the United Nations.

Now is the time to press the administration and Congress to end all financial and military support for Israel and to demand that Israel and Egypt open Gaza's borders to the free transportation of goods and people. No more Palestinians should die waiting for medical attention because the borders are closed!

The nine flotilla members killed by Israeli forces gave their lives so that Palestinian women and men could live free of occupation and terror. We can honour these heroes and their sacrifice by continuing to build inter-national protests against the apartheid Israeli regime and by building an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movement in the U.S. to challenge the destructive power structure in this country.

With the passing of each day, it becomes clearer and clearer that there is no qualitative difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. After bank bailouts, healthcare "reform," the BP oil spill, the expansion of the war in Afghanistan and the continuing erosion of civil liberties, the scintilla of difference between the twin parties of U.S. capitalism is evaporating at the speed of light. We who stand with the oppressed of the world must seize this opening and build a socialist movement capable of challenging this dangerous and outlived system before it kills all life on our planet.

Issued by Freedom Socialist Party
U.S. Section Australian Section
4710 University Way NE, #100 PO Box 308
Seattle, WA 9810S Brunswick, VIC 3056
USA Australia
• Like to be on the Australian Section e- mail announcement list? Contact us at •

16 JUNE 2010

Australian “green” company linked to Israel’s occupation in Palestine

Published on 16 June 2010 My following article (Antony Loewenstein) appears today on ABC Unleashed/The Drum:

My investigation has found a leading Australian electric car company is linked to an Israeli firm that operates in the illegally occupied Palestinian territories.

Better Place, advertised as “dedicated to zero emissions driving”, is part of a global venture capital firm based in California that has raised over $400 million to build charging stations for electric cars across the globe. Here is the company’s promo from 2009.

Better Place Australia – led by Evan Thornley, former Labor politician and co-founder of internet search engine Looksmart – is planning a national rollout of its services across Australia by late 2012.

Thornley told BusinessDaily in early 2010 that, “there’s hardly a government, car maker or capital market in the northern hemisphere who isn’t very deeply engaged in the opportunity with electric vehicles”.

But the green credentials of the company are threatened by revelations of the Israeli figures behind the organisation and its behaviour in occupied Palestinian territory.

Better Place Israel (BPI) is led by former general Moshe Kaplinsky, deputy chief of staff of Israel’s army during the 2006 Lebanon invasion and commander of the IDF in the West Bank during the second Intifada. Both military adventures led to serious allegations of human rights abuses including the dropping of cluster bombs on civilian areas across southern Lebanon.

Israel has never been held to account over the allegations.

The Electronic Intifada (EI) website first alerted readers in early May to the issues now circling around BPI and discovered the presence of charging stations along Israel’s controversial Route 443, some of which illegally deviates directly into Palestinian territory in the West Bank.

Today, even with an Israeli High Court ruling that demands equal access to the road for both Palestinians and Israelis, the road remains partly inaccessible to indigenous Palestinians in the area.

An EI reporter was told by BPI that the company was willing to install charging stations “anywhere…you want to live”, including the West Bank.

Some of Better Place’s supporters have an Australian connection.

I contacted Macquarie Capital, which has reportedly pledged to fund the construction of plug-in stations, and asked if they knew about BPI’s behaviour in the Middle East. A spokeswoman refused to discuss the role of Better Place Australia or answer any questions about its Israeli connection but said Macquarie is only a financial advisor to the company and has no relationship with the Israeli arm.

“We only have a local management relationship and cannot discuss negotiations or advice given to Better Place”, she said.

Local Better Place management is directly connected to BPI.

A key backer is Wolfensohn and Co, the investment firm run by former World Bank President, Middle East Quartet envoy and Australian-born, Jewish, American citizen James Wolfensohn.

The firm didn’t respond to my request for comment.

When I contacted Better Place Australia with a list of questions related to the company’s actions in the occupied territories I was referred to headquarters in Palo Alto and the Vice President of Communications, Joe Paluska. He avoided answering any questions about BPI’s attempts to integrate Israel’s miliary and political establishment towards a greenwashing agenda and told me that, “Better Place is a privately-held global company…with operations around the world including in Israel, Denmark, Australia, US, Canada, Japan, China, France, Germany and The Netherlands.”

When pushed on particular details about BPI’s presence in the West Bank, Paluska responded: “Each operating unit is broadly responsible for local deployment and local relations and reports to our global team here in Palo Alto.”

Paluska refused to answer the following questions:

- Does Better Place Australia do any work in the occupied territories and what is the company’s views about it?
- There are serious charges allegations against BPI’s chief executive Moshe Kaplinsky’s role in Israel’s Lebanon invasion in 2006 and invasion of the West Bank during the second Intifada….What is the company’s response and is it appropriate for a man such as Kaplinsky to be heading a group that aims to promote a greener future for the world?
- Evidence exists that finds Better Place charging stations in settlements on the West Bank and along Highway 443, a road that includes roughly 30 km that runs through the West Bank. What is the company’s response to these allegations?
- Does Better Place in Australia have a relationship with the Rudd government and are they aware of the allegations against the company’s activities in the West Bank?
- After the recent Rudd government decision to expel a Mossad agent from Australia, how does Better Place see Australia’s relationship with Israel?

Better Place Australia is not directly involved in the company’s Israeli operations but the firm is just the latest attempt to “normalise” Israeli behaviour. Wired magazine published a feature in 2008 about the organisation that notably avoided any serious examination of the company’s connection to the Israeli military establishment – President Shimon Peres is a big fan of BPI’s attempt to move away from the Western reliance on oil and repressive Arab states – and simply praised founder Shai Agassi and his “vision” for the future.

In May a number of leading scholars, including Noam Chomsky, protested the Boston Museum of Science co-sponsoring and hosting “Israeli Innovation Weekend” (IIW) which featured the Better Place initiative.

The statement read: “IIW is far from an innocent educational endeavour. It is part of a propaganda campaign by the State of Israel to present itself as a beacon of progress in a desert of backwardness and deflect attention from its atrocious human rights record and fundamentally discriminatory policies”.

Leading Israeli journalist and blogger Noam Sheizaf told me that BPI is very high profile in Israel, has been adopted by many politicians and is “always promoted as an example of Israel’s contribution to the world”.

Sheizaf said that the BPI project in the West Bank may not be “criminal…but what it teaches us is that large portions of Israel’s economy – more than we can imagine, and even more than the Palestinian boycott or other publicised acts show – is tied to the occupation and to colonisation.

“There is something hopelessly naive – if not pure false – about an attempt to separate ‘good’ Israel from ‘occupying’ Israel. Not every Israeli is as bad as the extreme settlers of Hebron, but the occupation is the Israeli national project, so before we celebrate inventions such as this green car, we should also think who benefits from it, and on whose expense.”

28 JUNE 2010

Dear friends.

By seizing all cameras, phones and anything that could transmit an image or report, Israel had total control of tho news of their attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. This has meant that many good perceptive people have been semi-consciously influenced about the nature of the people on board the Mavi Marmara - Turkish Islamists of the IHH organisations, said to be 'linked' to AL Qaeda and definitely terrorist Indeed, it is clear that some fought back, which is not pure non-violence. That does not make them terrorists or supporters of terrorists.

Please read these testimonies to get a more truthful balanced picture. 'Links' with 'terrorism' are part of the new McCarthyist lexicon.

Note the central fact:

"The Israeli navy fired on the ships five minutes before commandos descended from ropes that dangled from helicopters." Hanan Zoabi, Palestinian member of Israeli Knesset.

We have a duty to inform ourselves.

In their own words: Survivor testimonies from Flotilla 31 May 2010

Written by Free Gaza Team | 07 June 2010
http://www.freeo.aza orq/en/boat-trips/survivor-testi monies ShareThis

For three days as they were held in captivity and unable to speak on their own behalf. Israel presented the massacre against civilian passengers on the Mavi Marmara as self defense against a "lynching." Now that the passengers are returning to their home nations, the global community is hearing a much different story, not just regarding the incident but also their treatment afterwards once in custody.

Aboard the Mavi Marmara

lara Lee
Brazilian Filmmaker (based in San Francisco)

"(The attack) was a surprise, because it happened in the middle of the night, in the darkness, in international waters, because we knew there would be a confrontation but not in international waters. Their first tactic was to cut all of our satellite communications and then they attacked. All I witnessed first hand was the shooting. They came on board and started shooting at people."

"We expected them to shoot people in the legs, to shoot in the air, just to scare people, but they were direct." "Some of them shot in the passengers' heads. Many people were murdered - it was unimaginable."

Norman Paech
Retired German Parliamentarian and Professor

"We had not prepared in any way to fight. We didn't even consider it because we knew very well that we would have absolutely no chance against soldiers like this." 'The Israeli government justifies the raid because they were attacked. This is absolutely not the case." Inge Hoeger German Parliamentarian


"We felt like we were in a war, like we were being kidnapped." "Nobody had a weapon."

Annetto Groth
German Parliamentarian

"The Israeli claim that its commandos acted in self-defence was "ridiculous"'. "It was like war." They had guns, Taser weapons, some type of teargas and other weaponry, compared to two-and-a-half wooden sticks we had between us. To talk of self-defence is ridiculous."

"The scandal is that we have to fight the Israeli images only with words.." The Israelis confiscated at) the activists' cameras, computers, and mobile phones.

Sarah Colborne
United Kingdom

"The Israeli forces handcuffed members of the activists' medical team who were sent to help treat the injured. It was ternfying.lf you talked they pointed a gun at you."

"We wrote a sign in Hebrew saying, "SOS! Need medical assistance. People are dying Urgent' Hanin Zoabi, who's a Knesset member, an Israeli Knesset member, took that sign to the front—to the back of the boat, where the soldiers were pointing at her. They ordered her to go back."

Haneen Zuaby
Minister, Israeli Knesset

"The Israeli navy fired on the ships five minutes before commandos descended from ropes that dangled from helicopters."

The Israeli-Arab legislator said Israeli forces ignored her when she said that they should treat two gravely injured people, who later bled to death.

Matthias Gardcl
Acclaimed Swedish Academic

"People were not allowed to go to the lavatories - they were made to soil their clothes." Gardel was especially horrified by witnessing the experience of a badly wounded man in his late 50s, who the Israeli troops forced to remain on the open deck. "Suddenly, his right eye exploded in a gush of blood - and a blob of something fell out of it."

Jamal El-Shayyal
Journalist from Al Jazeera

" this attack started I was on the top deck and within just a few minutes there were live shots being fired from above the ship from above from where the helicopters were."

"The first shots that were fired were some sort of sound grenades. There was some tear gas that was fired as well as rubber coated steel bullets. They were fired initially and the live bullets came roughly about five minutes after that, after those initial shots were fired."

There was definitely fire from the air because one of the people who was killed was clearly shot from above. He was...the bullet targeted him at the top of his head. There was also fire corning from the sea as well. Most of the fire initially from the sea was tear gas canisters and sound grenades. But then it became live fire."

"There is no doubt from what I saw that live ammunition was fired before any Israeli soldier was on deck."

(From the top deck,) "you could almost see the soldiers pointing their guns down through some sort of hole or compartment at the bottom side of the helicopter, firing almost indiscriminately without even looking where they were firing and those bullets were definitely live bullets."

"There was a Knesset member who approached the Israeli soldiers saying we have injured, she was saying they have injured people, please come and take them. Yet the Israelis refused. Three hours later all three of those people that were injured ended up dying on the spot because no one came to take them."

Aboard the Free Mediterranean

Michalis Grigoropoulos (Greek)

"Commandos were already using teargas and firing live ammunition as they hit the deck."We did not resist at all. we couldn't even if we had wanted to." 'They then used electroshock weapons on some activists."

While in custody in Israel, "two Greek activists were beaten up."

Aboard the Challenger I

Huwaida Arraf
Free Gaza Chair

"They started beating people. My head was smashed against the ground and they stepped on my head. They later cuffed me and put a bag over my head. They did that to everybody."

On custody "I asked them to at least give (my personal belongings) back to me, and they refused and forced me into a police van, literally, by pulling me up by my hair and my hands and feet and beating me in order to get me into the van. They drove me out of the port, stopped the car at some point—I'm not sure where because I was a little bit disoriented after being punched in the face and the jaw. and then they just opened the door and threw me out of the van." "I think I must have passed out for a little bit. because the next thing I knew there was a medic taking me into an ambulance. I was taken to a hospital and checked and released just a few hours later."

Alex Harrison
UK Activist

"We saw the helicopter come down and we heard the beginnings of the opening of live fire. I didn't fully take in that they were using live fire ..but it began to sink in that (that they were using) live fire.*


Referring to her boat Two women were hooded, they had their eyes taped." The Israelis used rubber bullets, sound bombs and tasers against them."We stood and tried to obstruct the armed, masked men and maintained no other defence and still they used violence."

Fiachra O Luain
Ulsterman (Ireland) Dual American citizenship

I was "brutalized" while in custody in Ben Gurion airport and had bruises all around his body as a result.

"As soon as one of them grabbed me. about 15 or 20 jumped me, kicked me, punched me as soon as I hit the ground," "They had my arm in stress positions, they tried to break my finger." He said he feared for his life during his time in custody and at one stage asked to see a Rabbi. "I asked to see a Rabbi and they told me I would only see a Rabbi when they killed me.

"I saw what they did. I was on the bow of the Challenger 1 and there was live gunfire straight away from below and from the helicopters. One of the men was shot in the head. Another man was shot with a bullet right between his eyes at point blank range."

Dr. Fintan Lane

"When they boarded our boat, we resisted entirely peacefully. I sat on the floor and tried to reason with them, but the Israeli commandos physically attacked us. Fiachra 0 Luain (see above) was dragged around the ground and I had a gun pointed in my face by a screaming commando. His mania was so intense that I genuinely feared for my life."

On treatment during custody: "l would not cooperate with my illegal detention (by handing over my passport) so I was then physically assaulted, my anus were painfully twisted behind my back for prolonged periods. Ken O'Keefe, the Irish-American passenger, suffered a severe beating at the hands of security officials at Tel Aviv airport before boarding, and his injuries were so bad that he had to be hospitalised in Tel Aviv."

Shano Dillon

dm \ I

"Israelis had used stun guns, tasers. assaulted people with the butt ends of rifles, pushed people to the ground and stood on them."

There was a screening system and electronic detectors onboard the largest boat in the flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, to check it passengers for weapons. "Any of the weapons I have seen demonstrated by the Israeli defence forces were typical equipment that you would have on a ship."

"There was a knife for a galley. They also showed a sledgehammer, which would be on a merchant vessel for anchor cables etc. (Kate) Geraghty. an award-winning photographer, was set upon despite explaining she was an accredited member of the press.'She was just doing her journalistic duties. She advised them she was a bona fide photographer. She was just attacked."

Kate Geraghty
Irish (living in Australia)

The Israeli attack was "pretty full on." "It (the Taser attack) hurt and it made me feel sick.'

Geraghty had been trying to send out photographs before the boat she was on was taken over

Once the commandos boarded the vessel, one of their first acts was to seize all communication equipment. cameras and memory cards.

Aboard the Sfendoni

Janet Kobren
Retired Math Teacher (American, Jewish)

Regarding custody: "It was a long ordeal, very uncomfortable." We "occasionally saw passengers beaten by the Israelis before they were put on the planes."

Gene St. Onge
American Structural Engineer

"This was not peacefully. I was kicked in the head.... As the commandos jumped on the ship we attempted to protect the wheelhouse and the captain. We were able to crowd the inside of the captain's quarters. I was unable to because I was trying to protect another part of the boat.

By the time I got there I noticed that the captain was being pulled and hit. He sustained rather serious injuries although I guess he's going to be alright. He had a punctured ear drum, a neck injury and a back injury. In the mean time, as I tried to get in I was thrown on the deck a couple times.

One of my new friends, who I made many on this trip. Mehdi, a Libyan Arab living in Europe was hit with the butt end of a rifle, in his right eye. He fell to the deck. He was writhing in pain, trying to get away, but he was continually being kicked.

When I saw that. I tried to get to him. I was screaming "Leaving him alone!" I kept getting pushed back. Finally I tried to get over to try to cover him. At that point I was hit with the rifle or something. I was bleeding. And I was restrained with handcuffs."

Aboard the Sophia

Honning Mankell
Best-Selling Swedish Novelist

"We saw these black rubber boats coming with masked commando soldiers ... they climbed aboard. They were very aggressive ... there was an older man in the crew, he was perhaps a little slow and they shot him in the arm with an electric gun which is very, very painful... they shot another man with rubber bullets."

The soldiers checked the boat and one soon returned saying they had found weapons. "I have 24 witnesses to this, he showed me my razor, a one-time use razor, and a box cutter he'd found in the kitchen," "All my possessions were taken. They stole my camera, my telephone ... even my socks."

"I think the Israeli military went out to commit murder." "If they had wanted to stop us they could have attacked our rudder and propeller, instead they preferred to send masked commando soldiers to attack us. This was Israel's choice to do this."

Dror Feiler
Israeli-born Sweden Artist

Feiler said that he had tried to talk with the Israeli soldiers on board the ship but was beaten up.

28 JUNE 2010

Letter from Ken Davis to Sydney's Queer Screen:

Dear Queer Screen board of directors,

as a member I'd like to formally draw your attention to the call by Palestinian queers around the cultural boycott of Israel.

I can provide more info from the Palestinian lesbian and gay organisations on this if you would like.

I'm mindful that in previous festivals, disproportionate numbers of films promoting a liberal image of Israel have been shown, and I'm mindful of the controversy in 2009 about the Melbourne Film Festival accepting funds from the Israeli government. I'm also mindful of the protests at the Toronto Film Festival celebrating Tel Aviv. I am not assuming that all films from Israel should be avoided, but I do expect that Queer Screen will consider a policy of supporting the boycott as defined by PACBI, and at least avoiding dealings with official Israeli bodies.

Thanking you for your consideration, and awaiting a response from the board

Ken Davis

28 AUGUST 2010

This article comes from a blog called "MIDDLE EAST REALITY CHECK". I have not yet found out how to contact the person whose blog this is, but in the mean time the article is of great interest - hope you agree!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

An Unorthodox Jew

Excerpts from one of the late historian Tony Judt's last essays, on the meaning of Jewishness:

"I reject the authority of the rabbis - all of them (and for this I have rabbinical authority on my side). I participate in no Jewish community life, nor do I practice Jewish rituals. I don't make a point of socialising with Jews in particular - and for the most part I haven't married them. I am not a lapsed Jew, having never conformed to requirements in the first place. I don't 'love Israel' (either in the modern sense or in the original generic meaning of loving the Jewish people), and I don't care if the sentiment is reciprocated. But whenever anyone asks me whether or not I am Jewish, I unhesitatingly respond in the affirmative and would be ashamed to do otherwise."

"Some years ago I attended a gala benefit dinner in Manhattan for prominent celebrities in the arts and journalism. Half-way through the ceremonies, a middle-aged man leaned across the table and glared at me: 'Are you Tony Judt? You really must stop writing these terrible things about Israel!' Primed for such interrogations, I asked him what was so terrible about what I had written. 'I don't know. You may be right - I've never been to Israel. But we Jews must stick together: we may need Israel one day'. The return of eliminationist anti-Semitism was just a matter of time: New York might become unlivable. I find it odd - and told him so - that American Jews should have taken out a territorial insurance policy in the Middle East lest we find ourselves back in Poland in 1942. But even more curious was the setting for this exchange: the overwhelming majority of the awardees that evening were Jewish. Jews in America are more successful, integrated, respected and influential than at any place or time in the history of the community. Why then is contemporary Jewish identity in the US so obsessively attached to the recollection - and anticipation - of its own disappearance?"

"[W]hat can it mean - following the decline of faith, the abatement of persecution and the fragmentation of community - to insist upon one's Jewishness? A 'Jewish' state where one has no intention of living and whose intolerant clerisy exclude ever more Jews from official recognition? An ethnic membership criterion that one would be embarrassed to invoke for any other purpose? There was a time when being Jewish was a lived condition, but today this is true only of an isolated minority of 'old believers'. Modern-day Jews live on preserved memory: being Jewish largely consists of remembering what it once meant to be Jewish... Memory is a notoriously unsteady basis for any collective enterprise. The authority of historical injunction, in the absence of contemporary reinforcement, recedes into ritualised liturgy and thence into obscurantism. In this sense American Jews are instinctively correct to indulge their Holocaust obsession: it provides reference, liturgy, example and moral instruction - as well as historical proximity. And yet they are making a terrible mistake: they have confused a means of remembering with a reason to do so. Are we really Jews for no better reason than that Hitler sought to exterminate our grandparents? If we fail to rise above this consideration, our grandchildren will have little cause to identify with us. In Israel today, the Holocaust is officially invoked as a reminder of how hateful non-Jews can be. Its commemoration in the diaspora is doubly exploited: to justify uncompromising Israelophilia and to service lachrymose self-regard. This seems to me a vicious abuse of memory. But what if the Holocaust served instead to bring us closer, so far as possible, to a truer understanding of the tradition we purport to evoke? Here, remembering becomes part of a broader social obligation by no means confined to Jews."

"Unlike my New York table companion, I don't expect Hitler to return. And I refuse to remember his crimes as an occasion to close off conversation: to repackage Jewishness as a defensive indifference to doubt or self-criticism and a retreat into self-pity. I choose to invoke a Jewish past that is impervious to orthodoxy: that opens conversations rather than closes them. Judaism for me is a sensibility of collective self-questioning and uncomfortable truth-telling: the dafka-like quality of awkwardness and dissent for which we were once known. It is not enough to stand at a tangent to other peoples' conventions; we should also be the most unforgiving critics of our own. I feel a debt of responsibility to this past. It is why I am Jewish." (History's lesson for tomorrow, New York Review of Books/The Australian Financial Review, 27/8/10)

Posted by MERC


This is an article in the current edition of Socialist Alternative - September 2010:

Fascists and Zionists find common ground

. By Jade Eckhaus 07 September 2010

Today in Britain if you decided to attend a fascist rally you might see something slightly unexpected in the crowd: the Israeli flag. Israeli flags are becoming more and more common as Zionists join forces with the fascists to mobilise against anti-fascist groups and pro-Palestine supporters throughout Europe.

In England the English Defence League (EDL), known for its vitriolic and violent anti-Muslim racism, has gone so far as to set up a “Jewish Division” and now it is not an uncommon sight to see Zionists and fascists together yelling “We hate Muslims” and “Muslim bombers off our streets” at pro-Palestinians forces.

But is it not just small groups of Israel supporters around the world who agree with the revolting anti-Muslim racism of Europe’s far right and fascist groups: the state of Israel welcomes fascists with open arms – as long as they hate the Muslims as much as Israel does.

This is why people like the Dutch politician Geert Wilders from the far-right Freedom Party – who argues that the Quran should be banned and calls for an immediate end to Muslim immigration to Holland – was invited by the Israeli government to speak at a conference in Israel. He argued that “The jihad against Israel is the jihad against the West.” Perhaps what he really meant to say is the genocide of the Palestinians that Israel is carrying out is one that fascist parties around the world would like to emulate.

It is hardly surprising that fascists and far-right lunatics of all colours and stripes have started looking to the state of Israel as a beacon of hope. Israel is a state built on the genocide and dispossession of the majority Palestinian population. Israel’s entire project demands the continued demonisation of Arab and Muslim people.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir best articulated that project when he said in 1988 that Palestinians resisting occupation should “be crushed like grasshoppers…heads smashed against the boulders and walls.” It is that project that today sees Israel planning to deport hundreds of children for the “crime” of being non-Jewish immigrants.

That project means that the Israeli government is yet to condemn former chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef for arguing that “God should strike [the Palestinians] with a plague.” And that project saw the Israeli soldier Eden Abergil send shockwaves across the globe when she posted photos of wounded, bound and gagged Palestinians on her Facebook page with other soldiers in the foreground displaying their weapons and laughing.

These actions are not just individual events but rather an illustration of the nature of the state of Israel, a state where Palestinians are legally second class citizens, where soldiers are surprised that the world might object to photos of Palestinians being brutalised being put on Facebook.

Fascists look to Israel because Israel is the leading light in the project of building a racially pure state. Israel’s racist Law of Return means that I, as a Jewish person, have the right to go to Israel at any time and receive Israeli citizenship, while the descendants of Palestinians driven off their land in 1948 have no right to return to their homes.

And let’s not forget the 30 laws that directly discriminate against non-Jewish Israeli citizens, the segregated education system which means that for schools in majority Palestinian communities the government spends $US190 per Palestinian student, compared to $US1,100 per Jewish student; or that because of the lack of funding for Palestinian communities in Israel the Palestinian death rate is 1.5 times higher than the Jewish death rate.

The revolting racism espoused by Jewish members of the EDL finds its roots in the racism of Israel’s leading statespeople. Take Roberta Moore, one of the leading members of the EDL’s “Jewish Division”, who maintained in an interview with Ha’aretz, one of Israel’s leading newspapers, that the EDL are not racist – they are just “anti-Islam, as everyone should be”. Moore went on to identify with Golda Meir, whom she considers one “of the best Prime Ministers Israel ever had”. Golda Meir famously brushed aside objections to her repulsive anti-Palestinian policies by saying “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people… They [don’t] exist.”

When pictures of a fascist holding an Israeli flag at a rally flooded the internet last year, an Israeli Embassy spokesperson said: “It is appalling to see the flag of Israel abused by thugs who stir up violence and tension between communities.” It is appalling that thugs stir up violence and tension between communities – but hardly surprising that they use the flag of the state that murders Muslims with impunity to do so.

While my family fought against and were murdered by the fascists in Nazi Germany, the state of Israel now welcomes them. This is yet another illustration of the fact that the state of Israel is in no way the beneficiary of the real Jewish tradition but rather the creators of a new tradition of racism and genocide.

At the bottom of the article in the online edition, readers are asked to make comment. However, apparently there is no one available from Socialist Alternative to process the feedback which they have asked people to make. This is yet another example of groups like Socialist Alternative not being able to get their acts together - what a waste of time when one has made a comment only to be told it won't be posted!


From the Mondoweiss blog, courtesy Philip Weiss:

Jewish passengers to Gaza said to be detained in Ashdod, shaken but OK

Sep 28, 2010
By Philip Weiss
Update: We just got word that Lillian Rosengarten and other passengers on the Jewish boat to Gaza are being held in Ashdod, Israel. "Shaken but OK."

Various sources are reporting that the "Irene," the catamaran carrying seven Jews to Gaza from Cyprus, was intercepted this morning by several boats in the Israeli navy, apparently in international waters, and forced to make course for Ashdod, in Israel. Reuters has an Israeli gov't spokesman complaining about the "surreal" mission to which Israeli forces were assigned today and noting the presence on the boat of a former uniformed Israeli officer, Yonatan Shapira.

The press release from the boat organizers:

Last contact with the boat's captain, Glyn Secker, was at 0937 GMT, when their path had been cut off by a Destroyer. Recent reports from other news sources indicated that the boat has been surrounded and boarded.

At this point they were less than 20 miles from Gaza's shore. Since then all phones went dead. The occupied Gaza Strip's territorial waters end 12 nautical miles from shore, but the Israeli blockade is enforced at 20 miles from shore. Israeli attorney Smadar Ben Natan who is representing the passengers has asked to see her clients immediately. Local group Physicians for Human Rights-Israel has asked for permission to send an independent doctor to visit the passengers immediately, after hearing from organizers that at least one passenger suffers from serious chronic health problems and is in need of medical care.

Speaking from London, a member of the organizing group, Richard Kuper of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, has condemned the Israeli army's apparent action and said that this boat and its fate are a symbol of the chances for peace in the region. The way it is being treated by Israeli authorities indicates that they have no real intentions of reaching peace, he said. He called for worldwide support for the boat and its message of protest against the siege of Gaza and the occupation.

This from the Jewish boat itself a few hours ago:


An Israeli destroyer is cutting off their path. Another small boat is also approaching.

Several small boats and a frigate are stationary aboat a mile away from Irene.

The army hailed them and said they can not go to Gaza, which is restricted and Irene’s passengers will be legally liable, especially the Israelis.

The frigate then moved closer while the small boat is now crossing their path too – it has machine guns front and back of it.



Web site:

21 DECEMBER 2010

Received by email:

SUPPORT GYBO - GAZA YOUTH BREAKS OUT:!/pages/Gaza-Youth-Breaks-Out-GYBO/118914244840679


Fuck Hamas. Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA!

We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community! We want to scream and break this wall of silence, injustice and indifference like the Israeli F16’s breaking the wall of sound; scream with all the power in our souls in order to release this immense frustration that consumes us because of this fucking situation we live in; we are like lice between two nails living a nightmare inside a nightmare, no room for hope, no space for freedom. We are sick of being caught in this political struggle; sick of coal dark nights with airplanes circling above our homes; sick of innocent farmers getting shot in the buffer zone because they are taking care of their lands; sick of bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in; sick of the wall of shame that separates us from the rest of our country and keeps us imprisoned in a stamp-sized piece of land; sick of being portrayed as terrorists, homemade fanatics with explosives in our pockets and evil in our eyes; sick of the indifference we meet from the international community, the so-called experts in expressing concerns and drafting resolutions but cowards in enforcing anything they agree on; we are sick and tired of living a shitty life, being kept in jail by Israel, beaten up by Hamas and completely ignored by the rest of the world.

There is a revolution growing inside of us, an immense dissatisfaction and frustration that will destroy us unless we find a way of canalizing this energy into something that can challenge the status quo and give us some kind of hope. The final drop that made our hearts tremble with frustration and hopelessness happened 30rd November, when Hamas’ officers came to Sharek Youth Forum, a leading youth organization ( with their guns, lies and aggressiveness, throwing everybody outside, incarcerating some and prohibiting Sharek from working. A few days later, demonstrators in front of Sharek were beaten and some incarcerated. We are really living a nightmare inside a nightmare. It is difficult to find words for the pressure we are under. We barely survived the Operation Cast Lead, where Israel very effectively bombed the shit out of us, destroying thousands of homes and even more lives and dreams. They did not get rid of Hamas, as they intended, but they sure scared us forever and distributed post traumatic stress syndrome to everybody, as there was nowhere to run.

We are youth with heavy hearts. We carry in ourselves a heaviness so immense that it makes it difficult to us to enjoy the sunset. How to enjoy it when dark clouds paint the horizon and bleak memories run past our eyes every time we close them? We smile in order to hide the pain. We laugh in order to forget the war. We hope in order not to commit suicide here and now. During the war we got the unmistakable feeling that Israel wanted to erase us from the face of the earth. During the last years Hamas has been doing all they can to control our thoughts, behaviour and aspirations. We are a generation of young people used to face missiles, carrying what seems to be a impossible mission of living a normal and healthy life, and only barely tolerated by a massive organization that has spread in our society as a malicious cancer disease, causing mayhem and effectively killing all living cells, thoughts and dreams on its way as well as paralyzing people with its terror regime. Not to mention the prison we live in, a prison sustained by a so-called democratic country.

History is repeating itself in its most cruel way and nobody seems to care. We are scared. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We are afraid of living, because every single step we take has to be considered and well-thought, there are limitations everywhere, we cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want, sometimes we even cant think what we want because the occupation has occupied our brains and hearts so terrible that it hurts and it makes us want to shed endless tears of frustration and rage!

We do not want to hate, we do not want to feel all of this feelings, we do not want to be victims anymore. ENOUGH! Enough pain, enough tears, enough suffering, enough control, limitations, unjust justifications, terror, torture, excuses, bombings, sleepless nights, dead civilians, black memories, bleak future, heart aching present, disturbed politics, fanatic politicians, religious bullshit, enough incarceration! WE SAY STOP! This is not the future we want!

We want three things. We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask? We are a peace movement consistent of young people in Gaza and supporters elsewhere that will not rest until the truth about Gaza is known by everybody in this whole world and in such a degree that no more silent consent or loud indifference will be accepted.

This is the Gazan youth’s manifesto for change!

We will start by destroying the occupation that surrounds ourselves, we will break free from this mental incarceration and regain our dignity and self respect. We will carry our heads high even though we will face resistance. We will work day and night in order to change these miserable conditions we are living under. We will build dreams where we meet walls.

We only hope that you – yes, you reading this statement right now! – can support us. In order to find out how, please write on our wall or contact us directly:

We want to be free, we want to live, we want peace.

-- Ayman Jamal Mghamis
Project Coordinator
Social Arts Centre (SAC)
PR.The Palestinian Rapperz
Forum for discussion of issues
arising prinicpally from the 'Jews Who Speak Out' announcement List.
A pluralist political culture on issues pertaining
to the occupation of the Palestinian territories
and the critique of Zionism.
In particular, being a Jewish identified Forum,
supporters of racism and anti-Semitism
are not acceptable.
Automated messages;

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 1

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 2

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 3

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 4

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 5

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 6

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 7

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 8

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 9a

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 9b

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 10

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 11

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 12

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 13

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 14

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 15

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 16

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 17

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 19

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 20

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 21

Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 22



Mannie's blogs may be accessed by clicking on to the following links:

MannieBlog (from 1 August 2003 to 31 December 2005)

Activist Kicks Backs - Blognow archive re-housed - 2005-2009

RED JOS BLOGSPOT (from January 2009 onwards)

This page was created on 15 JANUARY 2010 and updated on 26 OCTOBER 2016

Page 63