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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hedy Epstein - a disgrace (A Soldier's Mother)

A very well-written post from A Soldier's Mother:

My message to Hedy Epstein as she sails to Gaza:

Your participation, in the flotilla brings shame to you and worse is a betrayal of your family, those that died in Auschwitz. It is hard to comprehend how distorted your view of life, of Judaism, and of Israel must be to bring you to the point that you sail against your own people. Yes, you’ll say you sail for human rights, for humanity and some such nonsense but last year’s flotilla – and very likely this one, displayed the worst of humanity.

There is no humanitarian crisis – so says the Red Cross just two months ago. What arrogance you have to think you know better. You, who make your life in America, dare to tell us how we should live in this land, in this area.

Had there been an Israel when your family was taken to Auschwitz, Israel would have saved them – as we have saved Jews all over the world. No, we are not going to be victims ever again, nor are we interested in making the Palestinians victims.

Read the whole thing.

(h/t Israel Matzav)

Mark Regev on freeing Gaza - from Hamas (video)

Anti-semitic French "comedian" releases "Holocaust comedy"

From Philosemitism:


The film poster shows French comic actor Dieudonné, dressed in military uniform and hilarious, feeding a tiny portion of food [is it food?] to a hungry man dressed as a concentration camp prisoner begging for something to eat. The subtitle of the film refers to "the first popular comedy about the Holocaust". According to the poster, the film has been preemptively banned from cinemas and video outlets in France. It will be sold through Dieudonné's website.

Dieudonné ran for the presidential elections 2009 under the label of the "anti-Zionist party".
According to L'Express magazine, the comedian, who is still very popular in France, claimed in a press conference that the goal of the film is to highlight the role of Zionism in slavery in Europe.

STL hands down indictments of Hezbollah members - one a US citizen

From Gulf News:
The UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) probing the assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri on Thursday issued its long-awaited indictment and accused four Hezbollah members of the murder, Lebanese officials and media said on Thursday.

"I will now examine the indictment and the warrants to take the appropriate measures," Lebanese prosecutor Saeed Mirza was quoted as telling reporters following a meeting with a three-member delegation from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
The Daily Star lists them:

Following are profiles of Lebanese reportedly mentioned in the indictment by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. An STL delegation met with Lebanon's state prosecutor Thursday, reportedly handing him a copy of the Lebanon portion of the indictment which includes four names.

Mustafa Badreddine

Mustafa Badreddine, the brother in-law of assassinated Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh, is the prime suspect in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005. Badreddine replaced Mughniyeh as Hezbollah’s chief operations officer after he was killed in a mysterious explosion in Syria on Feb. 12, 2008. The 50-year old is a member of the Hezbollah Shura Council. He was arrested in Kuwait in 1990, broke out of prison and escaped to the Iranian Embassy in Kuwait, and Iran’s revolutionary guard escorted him to Lebanon.

Badreddine, also known as Elias Saab, who is a little older then Mughniyeh, was prior to the 1982 war with Israel in Lebanon an officer in the Palestinian Fatah elite “Force 17” in Beirut. He was the trainer of Mughniyeh in “Force 17” in sabotage and bombs construction. After Fatah was expelled from Beirut, in October of 1982, they joined together the newly formed Shiite militia - the “Oppressed on Earth” supported by Iran, which became soon the base for the Hezbollah.

Salim Ayyash

Salim Ayyash, 48, is accused of leading the cell which executed the assassination of Hariri. He holds a U.S. passport and is a volunteer with the Lebanon’s Civil Defense.

Asad Sabra

No information is available at this time

Hasan Ainessi

No information is available at this time
Ya Libnan adds:
Salim al-Ayyash , also known as “Abu Salim,” is one of the four suspects named by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in its indictment of Hezbollah members in the murder of Lebanon’s former PM Rafik hariri who was assassinated on feb 14, 2005 in Beirut

Ayyash 48, is reportedly a dual citizen . He was born in south Lebanon but also acquired a U.S. passport. Confirmed details of how he acquired US citizenship were not available .

Ayyash, is also a member of Hezbollah which the United States considers terrorist organization.

In addition to Ayyash 3 other Hezbollah members were indicted : Mustafa Badreddine, Hasan Aineysseh and Assad Sabra .

While Badreddine appears to be the prime suspect for masterminding the assassination of Hariri , Ayyash is reportedly accused of leading the cell which executed the assassination. Ayyash was reportedly helped by Hassan Aineysseh and Assad Sabra in Hariri’s murder.

Ayyash is considered a hero in Hezbollah party circles for his role in the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel, when he was among the leaders who helped repel the Israeli advance across southern Lebanon.

Will Ilan Grapel be released?

Arabic paper Palestine Times quotes Yediot Aharonot as saying that Egypt will release purported "spy" Ilan Grapel in the next two days.

Anonymous sources claimed that there has been fruitful communications between Israel and Egypt on the matter.

The US has also been involved in the negotiations.

Official sources would not confirm the story.

Reuters joins the "Gaza isn't so bad but it is really bad" party

Earlier this week the New York Times reported on Gaza:
Two luxury hotels are opening in Gaza this month. Thousands of new cars are plying the roads. A second shopping mall — with escalators imported from Israel — will open next month. Hundreds of homes and two dozen schools are about to go up. A Hamas-run farm where Jewish settlements once stood is producing enough fruit that Israeli imports are tapering off.

As pro-Palestinian activists prepare to set sail aboard a flotilla aimed at maintaining an international spotlight on Gaza and pressure on Israel, this isolated Palestinian coastal enclave is experiencing its first real period of economic growth since the siege they are protesting began in 2007.

“Things are better than a year ago,” said Jamal El-Khoudary, chairman of the board of the Islamic University, who has led Gaza’s Popular Committee Against the Siege. “The siege on goods is now 60 to 70 percent over.”

Ala al-Rafati, the economy minister for Hamas, the militant group that governs Gaza, said in an interview that nearly 1,000 factories are operating here, and he estimated unemployment at no more than 25 percent after a sharp drop in jobless levels in the first quarter of this year. “Yesterday alone, the Gaza municipality launched 12 projects for paving roads, digging wells and making gardens,” he said.

So is that the news from Gaza in mid-2011? Yes, but so is this: Thousands of homes that were destroyed in the Israeli antirocket invasion two and a half years ago have not been rebuilt. Hospitals have canceled elective surgery for lack of supplies. Electricity remains maddeningly irregular. The much-publicized opening of the Egyptian border has fizzled, so people remain trapped here. The number of residents living on less than $1.60 a day has tripled in four years. Three-quarters of the population rely on food aid.
This has been a meme in the media since last year when the Gaza Mall was publicized by bloggers and then reluctantly reported on. There is no humanitarian crisis - but there is despair, and there are problems, and (it is implied) those are just as bad, or even worse.

Well, no, they aren't.

When Gazans are living better lives than a great percentage of the Arab world, it means that all the attention that they are getting for their problems is hugely exaggerated. It means that the reporters and NGOs are trying to justify, ex post facto, the ridiculous amount of money and time spent there.

But now that the New York Times has resurrected this meme, like all good news agencies, Reuters is compelled to copy it:
If pro-Palestinian activists unexpectedly manage to slip past Israel's naval blockade on the Gaza Strip in the coming days, they might be surprised by what they see in the Hamas-controlled enclave when they disembark.

Roads are being paved, houses are being built, new cars have taken to the busy streets and shops are full of myriad products. Even the longtime scourge of unemployment is easing marginally, boosting living standards for a lucky few.

"I have been without work since 2007. Now I can pick and choose," said construction worker Karem Hassoun. "Life has finally smiled on me and my seven children."

But look beyond the building sites and the handfuls of luxury vehicles and the grim reality of everyday life in Gaza is evident, with over 70 percent of people still below the poverty line following years of isolation, conflict and deprivation.

...While [Gazans] agree that there are many more goods on the shelves, the one thing that remains in short supply is hope for the future in a place where two in three of its 1.5 million people are from families of refugees.

"Gaza is essentially a prison, and while the conditions have improved, it remains a prison," said Omar Shaban, a well-known Palestinian economist.

"Therefore, people's hopes for a better future are crushed by reality and will remain on hold until the prison walls fall."
I don't think that it is a coincidence that Reuters employs the word "hope" prominently as what Gazans are lacking, when the American boat that is trying to get there is called "The Audacity of Hope."

Israeli innovators build new "Silicon Valley" (AFP)

Great article in AFP:
 With a concentration of start-ups just behind that of Silicon Valley and an impressive pool of engineers, Israel is becoming the new standard for high-tech, with a unique business model.
Internet-related activities contributed 9 billion euros (12.6 billion dollars) to the Israeli economy in 2009, representing 6.5 percent of GDP, according to a report from management consultancy McKinsey.
The sector is worth more than the construction industry (5.4 percent of GDP) and almost as much as health (6.8 percent).
The web economy has also created a total of 120,000 jobs, accounting for 4 percent of the country's workforce, McKinsey says.
From Microsoft to Intel through Google, IBM and Philips, almost all the giants of the Internet and technology have set up important research and development centres in Israel, spawning products and systems used worldwide.
"Israel is the country with the most engineers in its population, and it ranks second behind the United States in the number of companies listed on Nasdaq," said David Kadouch, product manager at Google Israel, which opened its R&D operation in 2007 and currently has 200 employees.
"It's really a second Silicon Valley. Besides the multinationals, all the major American investment funds are present," he said.
"The scientific community is very active, there is plenty of manpower and especially an entrepreneurial culture. There is a huge ecosystem around high tech, and what is fundamental is that here we think global."
Some 500 start-ups are created every year in the country of 7.7 million people, which grew by 4.7 percent last year according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development against an average of 2.8 for its member countries.
The OECD forecast for Israel in 2011 is 5.4 percent.
Israel's higher education institutions, particularly the Technion, the prestigious technological university in the northern city of Haifa, must take a large share of the credit for this creativity.
"All the groups have set up subsidiaries here because of the proximity of the talents of the Technion university where there are (people with) excellent CVs," said Yoel Maarek, president of Yahoo Research Israel, which employs about 50 people.
"I myself have studied at the school of bridge engineering in France but when IBM hired me it was thanks to my degree from the Technion," he said.
The huge Technion campus comprising 19 schools for 12,000 students trained 70 percent of the country's current engineers and 80 percent of the executives of Israeli companies listed on Nasdaq.
"Many students... are already snapped up by large foreign companies," said Ilan Marek, professor of chemistry at the Technion.
"In the early 2000s, we broke down the barriers between the four classical branches of science, allowing the students to move between fields and have a more global vision," he said.
"The key to the development of a country is to train leaders in science."
Saul Singer, co-author with Dan Senor of the book "Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle," believes the often maverick nature of many Israelis also plays a role.
"The lack of respect for authority is typical in Israel, it's a cultural thing, in line with start-up creating. There is no authority, it is very informal. There are two big factors, drive and determination, and taking risks. We have a very exciting business model," he said.
"In Israel there is a constant struggle with all kinds of adversity," he added. "These adversities are a source of creation and energy. Israel is a country with a purpose, a mission."
Kudos to Ma'an for publishing it. Translating it to Arabic would be even better!

Abbas to delay "unity talks" until after....September

From AP:
Two Palestinian officials say President Mahmoud Abbas is inclined to put off talks on a unity government with rival Hamas until after a U.N. vote this fall on Palestinian statehood.

The officials say Abbas fears running into difficulties with the West over an alliance with the Islamic militant group. This suggests he may have underestimated international opposition when he reconciled with Hamas in May.

The Palestinian officials said Thursday that Abbas wants to focus for now on getting U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue.

Talks on a power-sharing government are already behind schedule. The main hurdle is naming a prime minister.
What a surprise! Not.

What is more confounding is that most states will happily recognize a "Palestine" that has been, and remains, two separate areas with separate governments and separate policies.

My brief Twitter exchange with a flotidiot reporter

While the Dutch reporters acted ethically in rejecting the flotilla attempts to hide facts about Hamss ties and funding, other "reporters" are happily drinking the flotilla Kool-Aid.

I mentioned yesterday that one of the cheerleaders who styles herself a reporter is Mya Guanieri, who comes out with daily rah-rah dispatches and whose Twitter feed makes no secret of her full support for the flotilla.

When she published the photo of the old ladies in the flotilla, with her sarcastic remark that these "people really look like they're baying for blood, don't they?" I responded back with my post putting context on why Israel wants to ban the "little old ladies."

She replied with two tweets:

@elderofziyon hey, quick question. if you're an elder of "zion" why do you live in the USA? ;) that's pretty funny.

@elderofziyon you see, i LIVE in israel. israeli policy actually effects me.
My response:
@myaguarnieri I respect that. Are you therefore against J-Street, Am/Peace Now, and other groups that try to influence policy from without?
For some reason, she never answered. Pity.

I actually do respect the fact that she lives in Israel, but for her to use that as a reason to quash criticism from outside Israel is a bit hypocritical. After all, she is supporting an action, meant to change Israeli policy, that is conceived and led by non-Israelis!

PA to ban Israeli watermelons - boycott or protectionism?

Starting tomorrow, the PA will prohibit the import of Israeli watermelons.

Existing agreements between Israel and the PA prohibit any boycott of Israeli goods. The PA is always careful to emphasize that they boycott goods made by Jews in Judea and Samaria but not from within the Green Line.

They are not positioning this as a boycott, but rather as a means to protect local farmers who they say have higher costs and cannot compete with the Israeli product. 

However, it is possible that this is a tentative step in the direction of actually boycotting Israel itself.

As usual, Palestinian Arabs (besides farmers) will be the losers, as they will have to fork over more money for their produce.

Right now, some 76% of PA imports are from Israel, and 91% of its exports are to Israel. If they want to start a boycott, they have a lot more to lose than Israel does.

Another natural gas field off Israel's coast - and possibly oil, too

From Globes:
The Myra and Sarah licensees today announced that the fields have potential reserves of 6.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to an analysis of the 3D survey by Netherland Sewell & Associates Ltd. (NSAI). The discovery is the third largest gas discovery offshore from Israel, after the 8.6 trillion cubic feet at Tamar and 16 trillion cubic feet at Leviathan. Myra and Sarah are located in deep water northwest of Netanya, and southeast of Leviathan, and are part of the Levant Basin, which the US Geological Survey estimates has 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

At today's press conference, Israel Land Development Company Energy Ltd. (TASE: IE) CEO Ohad Marani said, "Today is a celebration. We are going to be the next big thing in Israel."

NSAI estimates the gross mean resources at Myra at 4.5 trillion cubic feet with a 58% probability of geological success and 1.9 trillion cubic feet at Sarah with a 43% probability of geological success. The average probability of geological success for both licenses is 54%, compared with 35% for Tamar.

NSAI also estimates that Myra and Sarah could have 150.7 million barrels of oil, with an 18% probability of geological success. Myra has gross mean resources of 113.4 million barrels of oil with an 18% probability of geological success, and Sarah has 37.3 million barrels of oil with a 23% probability of geological success.
Bloomberg adds an important point:
“Its always exciting to find natural resources,” said David Kaplan, a Tel Aviv-based energy analyst at Barclays Plc. “The government has shown concern about having an effective monopoly on natural gas and none of the partners in Sara and Myra are partners in Tamar.”

US to engage with Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood

From Reuters:
The United States has decided to resume formal contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday, in a step that reflects the Islamist group's growing political weight but that is almost certain to upset Israel and its U.S. backers.

"The political landscape in Egypt has changed, and is changing," said the senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "It is in our interests to engage with all of the parties that are competing for parliament or the presidency."

The official sought to portray the shift as a subtle evolution rather than a dramatic change in Washington's stance toward the Brotherhood, a group founded in 1928 that seeks to promote its conservative vision of Islam in society.

Under the previous policy, U.S. diplomats were allowed to deal with Brotherhood members of parliament who had won seats as independents -- a diplomatic fiction that allowed them to keep lines of communication open.

Where U.S. diplomats previously dealt only with group members in their role as parliamentarians, a policy the official said had been in place since 2006, they will now deal directly with low-level Brotherhood party officials.

There is no U.S. legal prohibition against dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood itself, which long ago renounced violence as a means to achieve political change in Egypt and which is not regarded by Washington as a foreign terrorist organization.

But other sympathetic groups, such as Hamas, which identifies the Brotherhood as its spiritual guide, have not disavowed violence against the state of Israel.

The result has been a dilemma for the Obama administration. Former officials and analysts said it has little choice but to engage the Brotherhood directly, given its political prominence after the February 11 downfall of former President Hosni Mubarak.

...Elliott Abrams, a deputy national security adviser handling Middle East affairs under former President George W. Bush, said he favored dropping the ban on formal contacts -- but approaching any actual dealings with great caution.

Abrams said positions espoused by some Brotherhood members -- such as favoring religious tests for public office, questioning the rights of women and limiting freedom of religion or speech -- were "anathema" to the United States.

The group says it wants a civil state based on Islamic principles, but talk by some members of an "Islamic state" or "Islamic government" have raised concerns that their goal is a state where full Islamic sharia law is implemented. The group says such comments have been taken out of context.

"It's critical ... that we make it very, very clear to Egyptians, if we are going to do a meeting, that we are no less opposed to the ideas they represent," Abrams said, noting that there are splits among Brotherhood members.

"We have to think about whether we can use meetings to deepen those splits and to help, quietly, those who are trying to moderate the positions of the Brotherhood," he added, saying the United States should choose its interlocutors with care and that the talks need not be conducted by the U.S. ambassador.

The U.S. official who declined to be identified said U.S. diplomats "will continue to emphasize the importance of support for democratic principles and a commitment to nonviolence, and respect for minority and women's rights in conversations with all groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood."
This is far from a simple question, and Elliott Abrams' caveats are important.

From reading Wikileaks memos, I have much more respect for the State Department than I had before. They generate a lot of good analysis, and the only way for their analysis to be accurate is if they meet with relevant people. Meeting with MB leaders does not necessarily mean approving of their philosophy, and if it is done right, it can help matters in Egypt.

It all depends on having clear ground rules ahead of time and having diplomats who are experienced enough to know when they are being played. The current US ambassador to Syria has been shown to be an incompetent idiot that Assad's regime has fooled and manipulated to great advantage. But that does not have to be the case when you have diplomats who know what they are doing.

I can see how it can even benefit Israel to have back channels to talk to the MB, in matters such as Gilad Shalit or to get subtle messages to Hamas.

If the State Department is careful on how to engage with the MB, and checks the information being told to its diplomats with other sources, this can be valuable. A blanket "don't talk" policy is not always wise.

(h/t O, Joel)

Every Dutch reporter has now quit the [Hamas] flotilla

I quoted a Radio Netherlands reporter Eric Beauchemin describing why he could not go on the flotilla voyage, as the Dutch leaders of the voyage refused to answer questions.

Now every Dutch reporter on the flotilla has bailed out for the same reasons. And they are also upset over how the flotilla is hiding the involvement of at least one known Hamas leader.

From De Telegraaf:
Enraged at the paranoia, the dictatorial atmosphere, mutual distrust and outright opposition on board, all Dutch journalists to leave the ship which the Dutch activists seek confrontation with Israeli marines in the Gaza Strip.

According to the four reporters who left, they were censored by the activists, who did not respond to any critical questions, such as the financing of the ship. The money was scraped together by collections in Dutch mosques, as this newspaper revealed earlier.

Vara editor Hasna El Maroudi decided to leave because the organization does not want to say that there were other participants: "I was not surprised by the presence of figures or organizations that I want nothing to do with. Also it remained unclear how the financing of the boat was done. I have repeatedly asked, but the answer was hidden in a web of vague foundations and umbrella organizations." Hasna El Maroudi is a former columnist for NRC.

Now it appears that the infamous Dutch Hamas leader Amin Abou Rashed was also present in recent days in the training of the crew in Greece. El Maroudi: "Amin was present on the day the Dutch delegation, part of the non-violence training followed. Wilfred van de Poll, journalist for de Trouw, just spoke with Amin about his presence and his role within the organization. "The brain behind the fleet" had arranged the purchase of the boat. He also provided a lion's share of funding."

El Maroudi: "During the dinner Anne de Jong (one of the driving forces behind the fleet, ed) raved that it is all lies and that Amin was a terribly nice man, who with incredible love and commitment to the Palestinians. Perhaps in her blue eyes she believes this, but I can not, simply because his involvement in the fleet been kept secret until his arrival in Greece. Not only from the outside world, but also from the passengers. "


Trouw reporter Wilfred van de Poll also withdrew from sailing because he no longer trusted the organization. He said that the organization suffers from utter paranoia, especially about possible leaks to The Guardian. The de Trouw journalist speaks of "childish insinuations" and an "atmosphere of suspicion" that the journalists received.

[Radio Netherlands] Worldwide reporter Eric Beauchemin also noted: "After one week in Greece, I lost all confidence in the responsible Foundation Netherlands Gaza. At our first meeting on the island of Corfu it was all wrong. One of the organizers was furious because Dutch journalist information was leaked to The Guardian. I've worked 25 years as a journalist, but I've never seen such a closed organization. I wanted a video report of the mandatory two-day training, to show how the activists were being prepared. But the organization banned the access to many parts of this training. "

Prior to the trip, he attended mandatory meetings in the Netherlands and was screened. "When the organizers me I was 'chosen', I felt obliged to be happy. In retrospect it seems all deception: there was no select group, and no Dutch celebrities. Instead of 32 Dutch participants, the organization has barely ten. "

Bud Wichers, a freelance reporter, also dropped out, as he reported to EénVandaag: "The facts were always at odds with what we had promised. The breach of trust was at some point irreversible. "

Martijn Dekker, spokesman for the Gaza-Netherlands Foundation, is deeply embarrassed at the collective departure of the journalists. Dekker, a PhD in Political Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam, says the feud between activists and reporters was "shocking": "Four journalists who consistently tell the same story, you can not ignore. That closeness, that is the opposite of what we claim to be, namely open and transparent."

Dekker: "We can quite open about eg the origin of the money that paid for the boat. We can see the books of the donating foundation Israa. It shows that all donations come from Dutch individuals, not from a shadowy sheik from abroad." Foundation Netherlands Gaza says the list of passengers to leave until after release, as still being pushed by the ship crew. The Dutch action ship left yesterday and arrived today at an agreed rendezvous site, which has three other ships awaiting action.

Amin Abou Rashed (left) with Yusuf Qaradawi
The foundation was forced to admit that Rashed was present in Greece, because of his involvement in the purchase of the ship. But the organization denies his involvement in training, selection and briefings.

Now emerges a unique picture, when the Dutch Hamas leader Sheikh Amin Abou Rashed supports Yusuf al Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. This Al Qaradawi is hoping to transform Egypt into a fundamentalist dictatorship. The Sheikh, a fierce anti-Semite and notorious for his inflammatory speeches, lived in exile in Qatar. After the revolt against Egyptian President Mubarak returned to Cairo. Al Qaradawi wants to stone gays and adulterers, would "dismantle" Israel, encourages suicide attacks inside Israel and believes that men should strike "rebellious" women.
Amin Rashed was on last year's flotilla and has been linked with Hamas and the Holy Land Foundation.

But the flotilla organizers are insisting that he is a wonderful, loving peace activist.

(h/t Gideon)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The laws of blockades (JPost)

The Jerusalem Post put together a nice summary of the laws of blockades. It destroys a lot of the nonsense that the flotidiots like to spout.
A maritime blockade is a tool countries can employ during an armed conflict to stop the passage of weapons and other goods to a country or entity. Israel has imposed one on Gaza since January 3, 2009, during Operation Cast Lead.

One of the main arguments raised against the boarding of the six ships associated with May 2010’s flotilla was that the action reportedly took place 70 nautical miles (130 kilometers) from the coast, inside international waters.

Immediately following the raid, in which nine activists on the Mavi Marmara were killed, Turkey drafted a resolution at the UN Security Council that described the boarding of the ship as a violation of international maritime law.

Under the San Remo Manual, a 1994 legally recognized but nonbinding document from the International Institute of Humanitarian Law dealing with blockades and armed conflicts – widely held to be the international standard for blockades – countries can intercept a vessel that is trying to breach the blockade as soon as it leaves its port of origin if the vessel is clear in its purpose to illegally enter waters, a legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry who is an expert in maritime law explained.

The official added that blockades are always imposed in international waters, and ships trying to breach the blockade are intercepted even further out, to give the military enough time to intercept it before it reaches land.

There are a number of conditions that a blockade must satisfy to be a “legal blockade” under the San Remo Manual. Countries imposing a blockade must give prior notice, and inform shipping companies and other countries where and when the blockade is being enacted, with ample time for vessels to alter their routes. Countries must also enforce the blockade in a nondiscriminatory manner, meaning that no ship, peaceful, commercial or otherwise, can enter the area of the blockade for any reason.

...[C]ountries cannot use a blockade to deny the civilian population items essential to their survival.

Flotilla organizers seized on this last point to explain their reasons for trying to breach the blockade.

Gaza has no territorial waters, as it is not a country. Israel has sovereignty over the area up to 12 nautical miles from its coast. The Gaza blockade extends 20 nautical miles from the coast, or approximately 37 km.
A set of NGOs, including Amnesty, declared the blockade "illegal" in a report issued last year, but at no point do they describe why. Given that Gazans somehow manage to build water parks, shopping malls, amusement parks, museums, luxury hotels and restaurants, it seems that the argument that the blockade is denying the population essential goods is baseless.

So why is Israel afraid of little old ladies?

"Journalist" Mya Guernieri, who has been cheerleading the flotilla in various publications, sent out a Twitpic showing ladies of the flotilla with the caption
yes, these #freedomflotilla2 people really look like they're baying for blood, don't they? #sarcasm



So since people think that this is a convincing argument, I created a little graphic:


The Free Gaza article I am referring to is here. The entire paragraph, in context, says:

Even immoral and self-defeating acts of violence against Israeli civilians (such as some suicide bombings are) cannot be equated with the daily humiliations, terror, and death that Israel inflicts on Palestinians by deliberate policy. Contrary to its presentation in the mainstream media, this conflict is neither a righteous war against evil Arab terrorists, nor a religious or ethnic dispute between two opposing and equally self-justified groups of people. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is the struggle of two irreconcilable and unequal causes: the struggle of an oppressed people for freedom, justice, and self-determination against their oppressors’ struggle to maintain (and even expand) their domination. Under these circumstances resistance is not only a right - it's a moral imperative.
The author is not talking about "non-violent resistance" in this segment.

The second photo is part of the cargo captured from the Francop ship which contained 320 tons of Iranian weapons.

(h/t Margie for the pic)

"Millions of naked tourists visiting mosques in Turkey"

Saudi Arabia's MBC channel quotes a Turkish sheikh as complaining about the fact that large Turkish mosques are now tourist attractions, and millions of half-naked women (the headline says "naked") are now descending to the holy places.

The sheikh of the mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent said that some mosques are starting to enforce dress codes, including veils, to stop this problem.

He also says that Turkish women are eager to wear the veil in the streets, even as they are banned from wearing it in parliament.

The sheikh, who is a member of Erdogan's political party, also said that Turkey under Erdogan has regained its prestige and standing in the Arab and Muslim world. He said that its leadership was behind the Mavi Marmara, and made martyrs for the Palestinian cause, and for Islamic Jerusalem.

Flotidiots already planning rally in New York for any "emergencies"

The people behind the "Audacity of Hope" boat have already set up a Facebook event page anticipating a violent confrontation at sea.
IMPORTANT, PLEASE READ: Time still TBD, dates above are *not* definite.

** Depending on the time we hear about the emergency, we have developed the following schedule for everyone to turn out **

If there is an emergency with the U.S. Boat to Gaza and/or the Freedom Flotilla, we call on people of conscience to gather at 47th Street in Times Square.

At 5:00 pm if word goes out before 12 noon.

At 5:00 pm the next day if word goes out after 12 noon.

At 1:00 pm on Saturday if word goes out after noon on Friday or in the morning of Saturday.

At 1:00 pm on Sunday if word goes out after noon on Saturday or in the morning of Sunday.

From Times Square, we will march to the Israeli Consulate at 42nd Street and Second Avenue. Depending on particular events, we may make stops at consulates or UN missions of other countries involved in the flotilla, as well as the offices of our congressional representatives and theU.S. State Department.
Anticipating violence - or planning to provoke it?

New "Day of Rage" in Egypt

From Al Ahram:

Clashes erupted in front of the Ministry of Interior last night, as well as the Balloon Theatre in Agouza, between the martyrs’ families and police forces. The clashes soon turned violent as police forces assaulted the protestors with tear gas in front of the ministry.

Police forces continued their tear gas salvo in a bid to break the demonstrations up until 7:30 in the morning, when they withdrew from Mohamed Mahmoud Street, where most of last night’s and today’s violence occurred.

Egypt’s ministry of interior had issued an official statement earlier yesterday denying any violence in their crackdown on the demonstration.

Though there are no confirmed reports of any fatalities at this stage, there are dozens injured, including Amr Osama, who was treated in one of the many ambulances made available in Tahrir Square and has now been released.

According to official medical sources, one hospital has 52 injured, 46 of which are police, and another hospital has 8 injured.

It all started Tuesday night, with clashes between families of martyrs and state security forces, some say at the Balloon Theatre. Hundreds of demonstrators also threw stones at the interior ministry of Egypt today in downtown Cairo and accused the police of “killing their sons.”

Security forces cordoned the area and according to eyewitnesses fired tear gas bombs and shots into the air to disperse protesters.

Police chased protesters towards Tahrir square and fired tear gas bombs at thousands of protesters.

A statement released by the interior ministry of Egypt denied that police attacked protesters and claimed they were thugs.

However, Egyptian TV channels Al Hayat and On TV aired live footage of the clashes. Tahrir Square and surrounding downtown streets looked like a battlefield covered with a smoky cloud of tear gas all night through.

Ambulances could be seen rushing into Tahrir Square, as well as volunteer doctors to support the injured in the square.

Thousands of demonstrators rushed in solidarity with protesters in Tahrir Square as violence escalated and chants could be heard "People want the regime to fall," "People want Field Marshal Tantawi out," and "Down with the interior ministry."

The famous, central square, which had witnessed Egypt’s 18-day historic revolution, is currently not open for traffic. Some 2,000 angry demonstrations shouting slogans against the regime, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and brigadier Tantawi himself are in the square. “People want the brigadier to step down,” is the most heard chant in Tahrir Square this morning.
Meanwhile, a prominent Egyptian cleric has declared that the people killed in the Egyptian protests earlier this year are not martyrs.

Sheikh Osman said the rebels were demanding democratic rule and that this is not a religious issue. They were against injustice and deprivation, but that has nothing to do with Islam. "We ask God to forgive them."

This may be the same Sheikh Osman who declared two years ago that Egypt can slaughter millions of pigs to head off a swine flu scare - because all pigs were just Jews cursed by Allah.

Bibi starts Arabic-subtitled YouTube channel to answer questions

From the Israeli Prime Minister YouTube channel:

I especially invite people from the Arab countries to send questions. I'd like to hear what you have to say, and I'd like to hear what you have to say in response.
I can't wait for Erdogan, Gaddafi, Nasrallah and Assad to follow suit.

" 'Right-wing EoZ' has co-opted 'Nothing' "

A site called Lavie Tidhar issued a "press release" because of my post about Nothing:

A WAR OVER NOTHING?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
28 June 2011
TEL AVIV –
An Android phone application continues to cause fierce debate in the Middle East.
“How many times have you paid nothing and got something back? Now we offer you a unique opportunity: pay something and get Nothing back! This application does absolutely Nothing. By purchasing it you will help us prove that Nothing is indeed worth Something!”
Nothing – which retails for $0.99 – was developed by Israeli programmer, musician and author Nir Yaniv. In the few days still its release it has already sold in the double figures and was featured on prominent Israeli news site Ynet. One customer described it as “the best App I ever got. It does exactly what it promised to do! Nothing!”
Nothing Pro, retailing for $9.00 and described as “lighter in size, easier on both the memory and the CPU, and it does Nothing way more smoothly and efficiently than the regular consumer version,” has since been released.
Now the tongue-in-cheek application – described by Ynet readers as, variously, “the stupidest thing I have ever seen” and “pure genius” – and resembling British artist Martin Creed’s controversial, Turner Prize-winning piece Work 227: The lights going on and off – has been co-opted in the Middle East’s always-bitter political conflict.
Right-wing blog The Elder of Ziyon has used the application to attack Palestinian politics, writing, in part, “I think that we can expand on this concept. for example, a deluxe edition of Nothing that shows: Every Palestinian Arab concession since 1988; Every example of Mahmoud Abbas’ “moderation”; Every Palestinian Arab “human rights group” that calls for an unconditional release of Gilad Shalit; Every benefit that a Palestinian Arab state would bring to the world,” and continuing further in that vein.
When reached for comment, a bemused Mr. Yaniv said, “I never dreamed that anyone would use the app for political purposes. In retrospect, given the nature of the internet, I should have known better.”
The developer himself wrote about my post:
Nothing serves, somehow, to deliver right-wing propaganda. This, was not of my doing!
LOL!

Report: Jordan opposed to unilateral declaration of "Palestine" (updated)

Palestine Today and many other Arab media are reporting that Jordan has announced that it is against the PLO going to the UN in September to be declared a state.

A government source confirmed that Jordan will oppose the Palestinian decision to go to the General Assembly of the United Nations to declare a Palestinian state unilaterally in September.

The source added that Jordan's national interest would be hurt if the Palestinian National Authority declared a state, particularly with regard to issues of refugees, water, Jerusalem and borders.

The source said that the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state is in the Israeli interest because Israel is interested in the establishment of a Palestinian state "within the boundaries of the separation wall" and this means there is a limit to the Palestinian state with Jordan, which was rejected by Jordan in the final.
I think that the last paragraph means that if Israel closes off the border with "Palestine" then it will become Jordan's problem to give them jobs, currency and so forth, a responsibility that Jordan does not want.

UPDATE: YNet has it in English with more details.

Egyptian security looking for Palestinian Arab terrorists

Palestine Press Agency quotes Egyptian newspaper "Seventh Day" as saying that Egyptian security forces are on the lookout for four Palestinian Arabs who sneaked into Egypt.

The four are members of the "Soldiers of Allah" group.

An Egyptian security official said "The Palestinians who entered Egypt photographed natural ga plants, the pyramids and tourist areas in the provinces of Giza, Luxor, Aswan and Hurghada They also threatened to execute a number of prominent politicians and businessmen who are perceived as being anti-Islam."

The Guardian's bias in covering Sheikh Raed Salah

From The Guardian:
Sheikh Raed Salah, a leading Palestinian activist, has been detained in London after he entered the UK while banned from the country.

Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, was detained on Tuesday night by police.

The home secretary, Theresa May, said officials from the UK Border Agency were taking steps to remove Salah from the country. She said an investigation had been launched into how he managed to get into the UK.

...Sarah Colborne, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), insisted that Salah was the leader of a legitimate political organisation. He rejected all forms of racism, including anti-semitism, she said.

"Sheikh Raed Salah is the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, the largest movement for Palestinians in Israel," Colborne said.

"This is a legitimate organisation which Israel has never moved to ban.

"Raed Saleh regularly speaks at venues across Israel where he has considerable support amongst the Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up a fifth of the population.

"Sheikh Raed has been elected as mayor of his home town, Um al-Fahm, three times. He has never been convicted of anti-semitism in Israel.


"Before coming to Britain, he faced horrific allegations of anti-semitism, which he completely refuted."
This article is a perfect example of media bias.

The entire article is 13 paragraphs long - and of those 13, fully 6 are given to someone defending Raed Salah.

There is nothing in the article that mentions any possible reason why Salah might be considered undesirable. It doesn't mention why he has been arrested and imprisoned in Israel, or his ties to Hamas, or his regular incitement against Jews (every week or so he confidently declares that Israel plans to demolish the Al Aqsa Mosque, trying as hard as he can to inflame Muslim passions and start a new intifada.) To the Guardian, he is simply a "Palestinian activist."

Even worse, the Guardian allows an apologist for Salah to assert that he is not anti-semitic.

Just one problem:


He is.

And it doesn't take too much effort to prove that.

From Ha'aretz, January 29, 2008:
The head of the Islamic Movement in Israel's Northern Branch, Ra'ad Salah, was charged Tuesday in Jerusalem Magistrate's Court with incitement to violence and racism, over a fiery speech he gave a year ago in which he invoked the blood libel.

During the speech at the February 16, 2007 protest in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz, Salah accused Jews of using children's blood to bake bread.

"We have never allowed ourselves to knead [the dough for] the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children's blood," he said. "Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the [Jewish] holy bread."

"Great God, is this a religion?" he asked. "Is this what God would want? God will deal with you yet for what you are doing."

The rally was called to protest the planned Mughrabi bridge construction in Jerusalem's Old City. Addressing the 1,000-strong crowd and assembled press, Salah accused Israel of attempting to rebuild the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount while drenched in Arab blood.

"Whoever wants to build a house of God should not do so while our blood is still on his clothes, on his doorposts, in his food, in his drink, being passed along from one terrorist general to the next terrorist general," he said.

Following the speech and Friday prayers, the crowd began rioting and throwing stones at police. According to the prosecution, Salah's speech constituted a "call to commit acts of violence and encouragement of acts of violence, which given the content and context, there was a real possibility that it could lead to acts of violence."

The prosecution said Salah made the remarks "with the objective of inciting racism."

In an interview with Ashams radio, Salah said in response that, "I am willing to repeat before the court all the things I said at the Friday sermon in Wadi Joz or any other meeting with journalists."

"Our statements are the products of conviction, and I will not recant," he continued.

Salah was released from prison in 2005 after serving some two years for having contact with a foreign agent, as well as financial crimes related to the Islamic Movement.
This is not only a problem with the Guardian. No other newspaper coverage of Salah regularly mentions his blood libel, which is a piece of information that should be attached to his name every single time it is mentioned in a news report.

But The Guardian deserves to be singled out here for an article that is completely void of context and that is nearly 50% apologetics for a terrorist supporter, regular inciter to violence and an unabashed anti-semite.

Flotilla Facts website

EoZ partner Stand With Us has put together a very good website, called Flotilla Facts, that explains all of the issues with the flotilla. It also includes videos and suggestions for what you can do.

Check it out!

By the way, StandWithUs turned my "This is Zionism" posters into a video:

Muslim Brotherhood militants flying to Greece to join flotilla?

Palestine Today quotes Israeli TV as saying that the flotilla participants in Greece have checked out of their hotels and are on their way to the ships to start their trip.

The last paragraph of the story says:
According to other sources, 70 activists affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Jordan are flying from Jordan to Greece to join the fleet of the ships of freedom.
I don't know the source of that story but somehow I don't think that any Muslim Brotherhood members of the delegation are engaging in the "non-violence" training that the Flotidiots like to brag about.

Unbiased reporters in flotilla?

YNet has an op-ed by Yosef Federman, the chairman of the Foreign Press Association in Israel:
The Foreign Press Association in Israel was happy to see the Israeli government rescinding its threat to expel and even boycott journalists who cover the Gaza flotilla. It’s important to understand that the decision was illogical to begin with. For some reason, the government attempted to apply the same attitude to journalists doing their job and to pro-Palestinian activists on board the ships. Yet that was never the case.

Journalists from different countries wish to cover the flotilla because it is a legitimate news story. Following the bloodshed in last year’s flotilla, people worldwide want to know what will happen this time around. An attempt to prevent journalists from joining the current flotilla would not have prevented coverage of this event.

Instead, it would have simply forced legitimate news organizations to violate the law and risk grave punishment, or rely on the activists on board the vessels for information.

It is fully in the public’s interest to allow professional and objective journalists – who are not a party to the affair and therefore are not biased – to present the story to the whole world. The coverage of a news event, legitimate or not, does not turn the journalist into an active side in the story.
I am glad that the government changed its mind about reporters covering the flotilla, but for him to characterize them as objective is a joke.

One of the prominent Israeli reporters covering the flotilla is Mya Guarnieri, who is churning out a series of fawning pieces on the flotilla participants. She also put together this "backgrounder" about how Israel has been oppressing Gazans since 1991. Here's part of her "reporting":
Sari Bashi is the founder and director of Gisha, an Israeli NGO that advocates for Palestinian freedom of movement. She says that the gradual closure of Gaza began in 1991, when Israel canceled the general exit permit that allowed most Palestinians to move freely through Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Non-Jewish residents of Gaza and the West Bank were required to obtain individual permits.

This was during the First Intifada. While the mere mention of the word invokes the image of suicide bombers in the Western imagination, it’s important to bear in mind that the First Intifada was, by and large, a non-violent uprising comprised of civil disobedience, strikes, and boycotts of Israeli goods.
During the first intifada some 100 Israeli civilians were murdered and 60 IDF soldiers were killed. Yet to Guarnieri, this is the definition of non-violence, and Israeli moves to protect itself is by definition illegitimate.

Of course, Gaza was not free under Egyptian rule at all - Gazans were heavily restricted in their movement and ability to get jobs in Egypt. Israel poured tens of millions of dollars into Gaza, successfully improving its infrastructure and the health and well-being of its citizens that were ignored and abused by Egypt. But why mention that in a backgrounder on Gaza? 1967 is irrelevant ancient history, but 1991 is current events.

Another "objective" reporter covering the flotilla is the execrable Amira Hass for Ha'aretz, who is also publishing her special brand of uncritical journalism when the subject is her pet anti-Israel activists.

Other reporters who are there are no better.

So, yes, reporters should be free to cover the flotilla - but they need to be at least as critical of the anti-Israel activists as they are of Israel. That's what reporters do. And it is possible, as we saw yesterday with the report from the clearly sympathetic Radio Netherlands reporter who nonetheless exposed the lies of the Dutch flotilla leaders.

Videos of Syrian atrocities

Syrians troops brutally beating protesters in Damascus:


Another video that shows a child who was tortured and killed is too horrific to show here.

Despite the massacres, there are still daily protests in dozens of Syrian towns, many quite large like this one in Hama yesterday rejecting dialogue with the government:


(h/t Israel Muse)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Arabs that the flotilla ignores: The tent city of Medinat al-Salam

From Al Masry al-Youm:
Naglaa Mahdy sleeps in a tent with ten other women and their children. She wakes up and dusts herself off, then she tries to figure out how to feed herself and her family on her tiny budget.

Mahdy is one of over 1000 people who, after being evicted from their rented apartments in February, have been living in tents in Medinat al-Salam.

After cooking on a stove she borrowed from another tent (all of her home appliances have been stolen), Mahdy spends the rest of the day waiting for representatives from the governorate, who visit periodically to assess the families and determine who deserves an apartment.

This is life in the Medinat al-Salam tent city [in Egypt.] Some residents have brought their protests to central Cairo and attracted attention to their cause, but many more continue their threadbare existence under canvas.

Mahdy is still mourning the loss of her baby, who was born prematurely a week ago. The baby died three days later because Mahdy couldn’t afford the necessary medical treatment. Despite her physical and emotional pain, Mahdy still congregates with the other residents of the tent city whenever a governorate representative arrives. She is desperately trying to secure an apartment for herself, her husband and her remaining two children.

During the security vacuum that began on 28 January, landlords in Medinat al-Salam worried that tenants would take over their apartments and refuse to leave when their contracts expired. In a preemptive move against having their apartments stolen, landlords terminated renters’ contracts and evicted them from their homes.

In February, the evicted families were promised apartments within a month and housed in tents in the Sbiko area in Medinat al-Salam under orders from Prime Minister Essam Sharaf.

Early this month, the governor of Cairo announced the allocation of 126 apartments for the evicted residents, and a renewed investigation into the cases of another 293 families. The rest of the tent city’s residents were deemed undeserving by the governor, who claimed that they had already received apartments.

They deny the governor’s claims and complain that the majority of the apartments were allocated to people from other areas. The tent dwellers assert that they have no other assets, despite the governorate officials’ claims that they do. The tent dwellers say this is simply a ruse on behalf of the authorities to justifiy denying compensation. The residents say that although there is a minority of “powerful people” among them who have assets, most families have next to nothing.

“If I had any assets, would I have exposed myself and my kids to this unbearable life?” said Marwa Zawam, one of the residents.

Residents say that those among them with connections and money are making trouble for the rest of them. They say that these people bribe governorate workers to allocate apartments for them, and keep other families from making contact with officials.

Every tent, the size of a small room, houses ten families. Women and children sleep in the tents at night while the men keep watch. Come daybreak, the women and children step outside and the men file in for their turn at sleeping.

Sleeping on a thin cover, the residents spend the night on the sandy floor, an arrangement that many say has given them breathing problems.

Warda Zeid has been in and out of hospitals for the past six months with two of her three children who have allergies.

“This child starts getting convulsions in the middle of the night; I take him and run to the hospital. I don’t know what to do,” says Zeid, holding her three-year-old child.

There is only one bathroom for the entire tent camp. It is made of cubicles with a hole in the floor and a light sheet for a cover. The women complain of the lack of privacy and say they’re scared to go to the bathroom at night.

With nothing but a rope to secure the entrance to each tent, residents say they are subjected to frequent attacks by criminals. Some local thieves use the camp as a hiding place after committing crimes in the neighborhood, while others have taken to stealing appliances belonging to the homeless families.

After repeated attacks on the tents and the rape of an 8-year-old boy, the men, whose work was already severely affected by the slumping economy, stop working completely. Instead, they stay with their families for protection, relying for financial support on friends and relatives.
Meanwhile Gazans living in the worst camps get free housing, free medical care and free education.

There are no flotillas for residents of the tent city of Medinat al-Salam, since their misery cannot be blamed on Jews.

Moonbat Dutch reporter can't stomach Flotidiots

An eye-opening report from a Radio Netherlands reporter who really, really wanted to cover the Dutch contingent of the flotilla, but was turned off by their refusal to share any information.

I had been planning for the past three months to sail with the activists and report on their journey. But over the past week that I spent in Greece, I lost all faith in the Dutch Gaza Foundation which is responsible for the Dutch boat.

Things started going wrong from the very beginning. During our first meeting on the Greek island of Corfu, we received the usual latest updates, and then one of the organisers informed us that one of the Dutch journalists had leaked secret information to the most popular Dutch daily about the mission. She was furious: No one is as open as the Free Gaza Foundation, she proclaimed indignantly.

But I have worked as a journalist for the past 25 years, and never have I experienced such a closed organisation.

After this welcoming message, she explained the ground rules to us. There were many, many non-negotiables. "If you don't accept this, you can't come along." I wanted to make a video report, filming the two days of obligatory training sessions to convey a sense of how the activists were preparing for the mission. But the organisation declared numerous sessions off-limits. I and the other Dutch journalists present explained that we needed this footage to do our work. But she wouldn't have it. "I have worked with CNN, Al Jazeera, BBC, and no one has been as demanding as you Dutch reporters."

Eventually there was a hand count and the activists voted us out of those sessions. We journalists all felt that a schism had been created for no reason. We also began to lose faith and trust in the organisation, both essential ingredients when undertaking such a risky trip.

I expressed an interest in joining the mission earlier this year when I heard that the Dutch were going to send their own vessel to Gaza for the first time. There would be over 30 participants, including prominent members of Dutch society. An Italian delegation with 20 people would also take part.

I then attended meeting after meeting in various cities in Holland. I had to be screened because - I was told - there were so many people wanting to travel to Gaza. When the organisers called to say I had passed the screening and been chosen as one of the select group of people who would set sail, I felt obliged to express my joy.

Now, back in the Netherlands, over three months later, I feel deceived. There never was a "select group". There were no prominent Dutch figures interested in joining Freedom Flotilla 2. Instead of 32 people from the Netherlands, the organisation managed to assemble just eight activists and four journalists. Yesterday [Monday], two more journalists decided to jump ship before the boat even left the port of Corfu.

Since day one, journalists, including myself, asked questions about the Dutch organisation and the boat, for example about the funding. Even simple questions about the ship's power supply for me to hook up my satellite transmitter. The answer was consistently: "I'll get back to you about that" or "we don't know". I'm still waiting for answers.

Yesterday morning I had a final meeting with the participants. I told the activists that given everything that had happened, they shouldn’t trust the organisation leading this mission. But all of them insisted the cause is too important to abandon. "We are going to break the siege and help the people of Gaza."

Good luck and bon voyage.
From the entire article it can be seen that the reporter was very sympathetic to Gazans and really wanted to help give his anti-Israel spin. But the Free Gaza members in the Netherlands were simply too hard to deal with.

The question is - did CNN, the BBC and other news organizations cave to flotidiot demands?

(h/t T34)

The tallest building in Lower Manhattan is now the Freedom Tower

I had the opportunity to be across the river from lower Manhattan today, and from there one can see the progress of the Freedom Tower now visible from behind the World Financial Center.


It is about 70 stories tall so far.

Arab researcher: "Israel trumps the Arab world"

From The Peninsula (Qatar): (via Daily Alert)

DOHA: There is no doubt that Israel is superior to all Arab countries in the sphere of Information Technology, a comparative study between Arab nations and Israel on ‘Scientific Research and Patent Rights Compared’ conducted by Dr Khalid Said Rubaia, a Palestinian researcher at American Arab University in Palestine, says.

Israel spends 4.7 percent of its total GDP on scientific research, which is the highest in the world. However, Arab states are spending 0.2 percent of their total incomes and Asian Arab countries around 0.5 percent of their incomes on research, said the report.

Regarding patent rights, Israel has registered 16,805 patents. However, Arab countries have only 836 patents which is 5 percent of what Israel has.

Israel spends 0.8-1 percent of the total expenditure of the world on research work and Arab states spend 0.4 percent. It means Israel spends more than double that spent by Arab countries in this field.

Israel spends 4.7 percent of its income on research. However, Arab countries spend 0.2 percent of their total income on the same. United States spends about 2.7 percent of its income, UK 1.8 and Germany 2.6 percent on research work.

Asian Arab countries spend less than 0.1 percent of their total income on research work which is five times less than African countries which are spending 0.5 percent of their total income, according to a Unesco report. Arab countries spend about half of Israel though their GDP soared 11 times that of Israel and the area is more than 649 times.

Regarding per capita expenditure on scientific research, Israel stands at the number one position by spending $1272.8 per capita. United States ranks second with $1205.9 and Japan third by spending $1153.3. However, the Arab countries ranked hundred times less than Israel by spending an average of $14.7 annually per capita.

And the oil rich Asian Arab countries spend $11.9 per capita which is equal to African poor countries whose per capita expenditure reached $9.4.
That's the entire article. Nothing about what should be done to improve Arab science programs, or education, or anything.

Textbook examples of "Asajews"

The term "Asajew" has been around for a couple of years. It refers to people who use their Judaism to slam Israel, often in letters to the Guardian, that start with "As a Jew, I condemn/deplore/abhor Israel's latest war crimes.."

As you could guess, the flotilla is filled with Asajews, and the self-penned biographies of the "Audacity of Hope" passengers are great examples.

Here's one:
Henry Norr, 65, is a retired journalist and human rights advocate. As a child going to Hebrew school at a Conservative Jewish temple in northern Massachusetts, Henry collected nickels and dimes for the Jewish National Fund – money he now realizes was used largely to cover up the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

This one is even better:
Richard Levy had his bar mitzvah in 1955 at the Genesis Hebrew Center in Yonkers, New York. Richard is the former president of the North East District of the B’nai Brith Youth Organization. A graduate of Cornell U. and the NYU School of Law, he has practiced labor and civil rights law for more than 40 years. Richard was one of the attorneys challenging the destruction–by the Weisenthal Center and the Israeli government–of the ancient landmark Mamilla (Muslim) Cemetery in West Jerusalem.
Who starts their biography with the date of their bar mitzvah?

Even better, in this video, Levy - a lawyer - admits that the flotilla is acting illegally!


1:22 "Although as a lawyer I'd prefer perhaps to do this by legal means, there really is no avenue, so I've chosen a more activist approach and I will be on the boat."

What do Greta Berlin's ex and Mahmoud Abbas have in common?

I just saw that Greta Berlin's first husband was born in Tzfat (Safed), just like Mahmoud Abbas.

And just like Abbas' family, his family fled way before any Jewish troops entered the town. Just like Abbas' family, they left because they were afraid Jews would act like Arabs and take revenge on the Arabs for their massacres of Jews in 1929.

Here's is the Palestine Post article about Arabs fleeing Safed while the Jewish army was still five kilometers away:



This Arab flight mentality was noted the day after, and it was in no small part due to the fact that Arab leaders would flee first, abandoning their people:




The Haganah did end up entering Tzfat a few days later where they encountered heavy resistance from Syrian and Iraqi troops before taking over the town on May 11th.

The Tailor (video)

It is not too often that a joke gets turned into a six minute video. But this one is done very, very well.

From the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival:


(h/t jzaik)

Iran unveils underground missile silos

From NYT:
Iran unveiled underground silos on Monday that would make its missiles less vulnerable to attack, marking the country’s latest show of force in the long standoff with the West over its nuclear program.

State television broadcast images of an unspecified number of silos deep underground, saying they held medium- and long-range missiles ready to hit distant targets. Subterranean silos are considered harder to destroy than surface installations, and Iran hailed them as a defensive asset meant to thwart attackers.

Col. Asghar Qelichkhani said the silos “function as a swift-reaction unit.” State TV quoted him as saying that the missiles were permanently in the vertical position and “ready to hit the predetermined targets.”

The silos were presented as Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards began 10 days of military exercises.

Western powers have long cited evidence that Iran was investigating the design of nuclear warheads for its missiles, a charge Tehran denies. It insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

The state TV report showed footage of an underground launching pad for what it called the Shahab-3 missile, which has a range of about 1,250 miles. The report also showed a large metal roof opening atop the silo to allow the firing of the missile.

Here's the video of the silos as well as test firings of missiles:


Iran explicitly announced that the missiles can reach Israel, as well as American interests in the region.

(h/t David G)

PA mulls switching from shekels to dollars

From Ma'an:
A leading Fatah figure has revealed some of the means that might be used in the event the UN declines to take a positive decision on Palestinian statehood and its membership in the Security Council.

"The Palestinian leadership will be pushed to take decisions with strategic dimension in dealing with this matter, including the use of the US dollar as the main currency in the Palestinian markets instead of the Israeli shekel," said Muhammad Shtayyeh on Monday, speaking at the Justice Ministry in Ramallah.
Hey, Hamas has a lot of experience using American currency.

UNESCO shows its anti-Israel bias

From YNet:

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee decided to accept a petition by Jordan and issued an official censure of Israel over the archeological excavations near the Mughrabi Gate in the Jerusalem's Old City.

UNESCO's censure calls for the immediate cessation of all renovation work done on the Mughrabi Gate bridge, which leads from the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem to the to the al-Aqsa Mosque and Temple Mount.

Israel and Jordan had previously agreed that the existing bridge must be razed for safety reasons.
Israel plans to build a new bridge on the site.

Jordan's petition was also signed by Egypt, Iraq and Bahrain. The decision was carried with a unanimous vote by UNESCO 21-member nations. Australia, Switzerland, Brazil and Mexico voiced their reservations over the strong anti-Israel language used in the resolution, but did not oppose it in the vote.

The four, along with Sweden and Estonia asked the committee to defer its debate on Jordan's petition, but were denied.

Israel's ambassador to UNESCO Nimrod Barkan, which has an observer's status, attempted to address the committee, but Egypt objected and he was denied the floor.

Jerusalem sources told the newspaper Israel was "shocked" and "furious" over Jordan's scheme. "The Jordanians lied to us and to the Americans in an unbelievable way… The most astonishing thing is they don't even mention the agreement between Israel and Jordan," Barkan said.
As far as I can tell, UNESCO has never said a word in relation to the Waqf's wanton destruction of huge amounts of priceless archaeological relics on the Temple Mount.

Germany confirms that Hamas rejected Shalit deal

From AP:

Germany says Israel accepted a proposal by a German mediator to free a soldier captured by Hamas-linked militants in Gaza five years ago, but Hamas did not sign off on it.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he had accepted the proposal, but Hamas rejected the deal. It is thought to include hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the soldier, Sgt. Gilad Schalit.

Hamas said Netanyahu was lying about the mediation effort.

On Monday, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert confirmed that Israel had accepted a German-mediated offer.

He said that “so far, Hamas regrettably has not yet accepted this proposal.” He gave no details of the proposed deal.
This fits in with yesterday's story about Hamas prisoners rejecting the deal after Hamas leaders accepted it.

Hamas/Fatah "unity" comatose

From YNet:
Senior Hamas member Mahmoud al-Zahar said Tuesday that the reconciliation efforts between his organization and Fatah have come to a dead end.

According to al-Zahar, the bone of contention revolves around the structure of the PLO, government and legislative council.

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Al-Zahar also denied reports stating that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal traveled to Turkey last week in order to resolve their differences.

In an interview with Jordanian newspaper al-Dustur, al-Zahar blamed Fatah for "taking actions opposite to what was agreed upon."

Fatah, he added, is trying to unilaterally impose facts on the ground and "If this continues, we will unable to form a unity government."

Despite statements to the contrary, Fatah and Hamas have been unable to bridge any political gap which would see a unity government come to fruition.
Khaled Abu Toameh adds:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has officially decided to go to the United Nations in September to ask for recognition of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines.

But how can Abbas go to the UN in New York when he cannot even go back to his home in the Gaza Strip, which has been seized by Hamas?

How can he go to the UN when he cannot visit the Gaza Strip, where more than 1.5 million Palestinians live?

How can Abbas go to the UN when he cannot even visit a refugee camp in the West Bank, Lebanon or Syria?

Even if the UN votes in favor of a Palestinian state in September, how does Abbas plan to implement the decision on the ground? Can he really convince Hamas and Palestinian refugees to accept the two-state solution and abandon the "right of return" to Israel proper?

Hamas, which represents many Palestinians, has made it clear that it would never recognize Israel's right to exist or accept the two-state solution. Hamas will, of course, reject any UN resolution calling for the establishment of a state "only" within the pre-1967 lines.

Hamas's goal is to replace Israel with an Islamic state that may allow some Jews to live under its jurisdiction as a minority. Hamas wants all the land, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. That is why any resolution adopted by the UN would not bring everlasting and comprehensive peace to the Middle East.

Most refugees, for their part, will also oppose any UN resolution that does not call for their return to their original homes and villages inside Israel. For them, recognition of a state along the pre-1967 lines would mean depriving them of their right to return to their original homes and villages. Already now, many refugees are expressing concern over the September statehood bid.

Abbas has failed to consult with all Palestinian factions and representatives of his people about his controversial statehood bid. It is highly likely that he doesn't want to do so because he is afraid that he would not enjoy the backing of a majority of his people for such a move.

True, Abbas has secured the support of Fatah and the PLO for his statehood initiative, but who said that these two bodies are representative and have a mandate to make such important decisions? The two groups are dominated by Abbas loyalists who receive funding from the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.

It is obvious by now that the September initiative would not advance the cause of peace in the Middle East. On the contrary, it would further complicate matters for both Israel and the Palestinians, plunging the region into another vicious cycle of bloodshed and violence.

Abbas has raised the expectations of many Palestinians to a dangerous level, as many are now expecting to wake up in September to see a new state where they live in peace and security. But when that does not happen, and the Palestinians realize they have been once again sold false promises, they could turn to violence not only against Israel, but also against their leaders in the West Bank.

(h/t Silke)