WARNING : This site is not for you if you cannot see the otherness of other and sufferings of both sides of the party in the conflict. Security for Israel and Justice for the Palestinians are interdependent, one will not happen without the other. My view focuses on building cohesive societies where no one has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. I hope and pray a sense of justice to prevail. Amen. Website www.IsraelPalestineDialogue.com | Also Check Israel Palestine Confederation a pragmatic solution

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Re: Jews to Hold Memorial For Those Slain in Attack on Gaza Flotilla--across ...

This must be the goal of humanity, to work on healing. When we initiated the Holocaust commemoration and later Holocaust and Genocides, (www.HolocaustandGenocides.com) it is give hope to humanity that there are people willing to stand up for other's rights and as Muslims, we wanted to tell the Jews that they are not alone, we are with them in their suffering.
Now Rabbi Lerner is taking the mantle and telling the world, that "we Jews stand for peace and justice." It is time for the moderate Jews and Moderate others to join him in the prayers. Right wingers are always welcome to be good decent humans and join for peace. 
I wish I could join, but am joining in my spirit.
To be religious is to be peace makers, to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill.  That is what it is to be a Jew, Muslim, Christian or....any faith.
Mike Ghouse

Jews to Hold Memorial Service for Those Killed in Gaza Aid Flotilla

Sunday, June 13, 1 p.m. across from the White House in Lafayette Park.


We will also extend the memorial to cover all the thousands and thousands of Israelis and Palestinians killed or displaced from their homes since the beginning of this Israel/Palestine struggle. Plus healing prayers for those hurt or wounded in the Israeli assault on the boats plus prayers for release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit held by Hamas and for the release of thousands of Palestinians held by Israel in their jails and outdoor detention camps.


Rabbi Michael Lerner and Rabbi Arthur Waskow will conduct healing prayers in the Jewish tradition for those hurt or wounded, and a traditional Jewish memorial service for those killed when Israeli troops assaulted a flotilla of ships bringing aid to Gaza last Monday. The Muslim community will be represented by Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed , the National Director for the Office of Interfaith & Community Alliances for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and the Christian community by United Church of Christ pastor Rev. Ama Zenya and Rev. Graylan Hagler of the Plymouth Congregational Church of Christ in D.C. Other clergy are invited to join in offering prayers.


The services will take place on Sunday, June 13, at 1 p.m. opposite the White House in Lafayette Park, as part of a conference sponsored by the interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressives Friday, June 11-Sunday June 13 at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 212 E. Capitol St., NE.  The focus of the conference is: Strategies for Secular and Religious Progressives in the Obama Years. People not registered for the conference are welcome at the rally starting 11 a.m. at Lafayette Park facing the White House from 11 a.m. to 2 p..m. Sunday June 13.  But it's not too late to register for the conference (and if money is the problem we will reduce your registration fee to whatever you can afford if you register in advance before Wednesday afternoon: info and details at www.spiritualprogressives.org/conference . If you can't come--you can still help: by insisting that national media and your local media and the progressive media as well cover this event--it's a way of making clear that the entire Jewish people should not be blamed for this morally distorted action on the part of Israel--and you don't have to be Jewish to make that point to the media. If you want help in finding national media to contact, go to www.spiritualprogressives.org/article.php/media where we have phone numbers and snail mail addresses of many important media figures whom you contact. Snail mail (ground mail) makes the biggest impact, phone calls next, and finally emails or faxes which are the least effective because rearely read).


The conference is co-sponsored by Tikkun www.tikkun.org the Network of Spiritual Progressives (www.spiritualprogressives.org),  Common Cause, the Interfaith Alliance, The Nation magazine, Progressive Democrats of America, the Washington Peace Center, Tikkun magazine, The Shalom Center, and Peace Action. Among the conference speakers: Rev. Brian McLaren, Rev. James Forbes, Rev. James Winkler, Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister, Buddhist author Robert Thurman, John Dear, S.J., Congressman Keith Ellison, environmentalist activist and theorist Bill McKibben, Heather Booth, David Korten, Rabbi Arik Asherman, and more. More information on the conference:



"The overwhelming majority of American Jews," said Rabbi Lerner, chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives and editor of Tikkun Magazine, "are saddened at the killings and wounding that took place on the high seas on May 31st, and want to make clear that this kind of behavior is not a morally acceptable or politically effective way for Israel to achieve security. We are holding this service in part to express our condolences to the families of the slain and our prayers for those who have been hurt or wounded. We stand with Israel in support of its right to security, and with the Palestinian people in support of their right to justice and national self-determination in a secure Palestinian state that encompasses all of the West Bank and Gaza and sharing Jerusalem with Israel.


"The violence against the Gaza Aid flotilla is microcosm of the violence that those non-violent peace activists have consistently experienced when attempting to use tactics of non-violence in challenging the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. The daily structural violence of the Occupation and of the blockade of Gaza are usually ignored by the media, hence making overt acts of human rights abuses by Palestinians who revert to acts of terror or Hamas which allows shelling of Israeli towns to appear as though they are a product of hatred of Israel rather than as responses to Israel's on-going violence. Yet the continued refusal of Hamas to acknowledge the existence of Israel and to look to Iran, whose leadership has called for the destruction of Israel, gives plausibility to the Israeli claim that Hamas and the militants among Palestinians do not seek "justice for Palestinians" but rather "an end to the existence of Israel itself with uncalculated horro to the Israeli people." So while we memorialize those killed in Gaza, we condemn violence of Palestinian terrorists and of Hamas, even as we find hope in the commitment of leaders of the Palestinian Authority to embrace the path of non-violence and cooperation with Israel. The violence on all sides must cease, Gilad Shalit must be freed by Hamas,  the blockade of Gaza and the Occupation of the West Bank must be stopped, and all the thousands of Palestinians in Israeli prisons and outdoor detention camps must be freed.


"We also believe that the best path to peace is a new spirit of open-hearted contrition and atonement, leading to a strategy of generosity to replace the current strategy of military power and domination by Israel and acts of violence or terror by Palestinians. Both sides have co-created this larger struggle, and both sides need to turn to the other in a spirit of contrition and genuine recognition of the legitimacy of the other side's narrative, difficult as that may be for each side to do. It is not power of military prowess nor mobilization of outrage that will solve this struggle, but rather an attitude of love and generosity of spirit that will break the cycle of violence and make possible a rapid solution to the larger conflict. The only alternative to this is for the world to assemble a global conference of the countries which voted for the creation of Israel in 1949 and now take steps to impose a fair, just and lasting peace on th sides of the conflict."   Not all speakers or participants at this Memorial service agree with this statement (or at least we didn't have time to check), but they do agree that the needless deaths of those on the flotilla need to be mourned and the victims of violence deserve our prayers.


Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun Magazine, author of 11 books including The Politics of Meaning Healing Israel/Palestine,  The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right, and The Socialism of Fools: Anti-Semitism on the Left. He is Rabbi of Beyt Tikkun in Berkeley, California and chair of the interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressives.


Rabbi Lerner welcomes your responses (RabbiLerner@Tikkun.org) , and encourText Contentages you to send this message to friends in the East Coast who might come down to DC for this rally and then the Memorial Service, and urges you to contact local media and ask them to alert their readership or listenership about the conference and about the Memorial Service. The rally before the Memorial Service will also deal with issues concerning the US wars in the Middle East, the problems of environment, social justice, and healing of the wounds in American society and globally.


 For the full program of the conference, read www.spiritualprogressives.org/conference.

More info: James Lee, conference coordinator 410 262 8365 or Will Pasley 510 644 1200.

Re: Uri Avneri assaulted by Right Wing Zionists after speaking at peace reall...

Where are the moderate Jews?

The right wingers will jeopardize everything, they do not understand peace and co-existence, their capacity to comprehend is annihilation and existence,  it will never happen, resulting in chaos and fear for every one, including them.

The right wingers do not represent Jews or Judaism, they represent money and anarchy.

Mike Ghouse

Editor's Note: Shortly after writing the article below, Uri Avnery, leader of the Israeli peace movement Gush Shalom, was assaulted by Right-wingers in Israel. The full account appears after his analysis, which he'd prefer you to read first.  Avnery is a frequent contributor to Tikkun Magazine and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board.

       We also are sending a few more articles on the Gaza flotilla and a reminder that it's not too late to plan to urge media to cover the Tikkun/NSP (Network of Spiritual Progressives) conference in D.C. and our Memorial for those killed during that assault. In interest of exposing our constituency to the balance lacking in most presentations, we now have posted at www.tikkun.org several articles by right-wingers explaining why they think that Israel was justified in its attack. While we strongly disagree with these arguments, we think that it prudent and useful to explore the arguments of those with whom we disagree, to learn from them, and at times even alter our own understanding of any given issue by opening our minds to other perspectives, and when appropriate, changing our own ideas in light of that exposure to other ideas. And when, having exposed ourselves to other perspectives,  we don't feel called upon by the power of their arguments and new ways of thinking about a given reality  to change our minds, our  ability to defend our own positions is strengthened by knowing the logic and reasoning behind those with whom we continue to disagree. We normally don't do that, however, because the positions we are critiquing tend to get over-exposure in the mainstream media and don't need our help gettng known--most frequently it is our position that is barely heard in the media, so people don't need to be reminded of that perspective, because they can barely avoid hearing it being hammered into their heads by the media, the politicians, etc. In this case, and for the first time, the media is a bit more balanced, so we feel that we ought to present perspecives with which we disagree and to which you may no have been fully exposed--at www.tikkun.org in the "Current Thinking" categories on the home page. Now on to Avery and others


Uri Avnery

June 5, 2010
                                                Kill a Turk and Rest

ON THE high seas, outside territorial waters, the ship was stopped by the navy. The commandos stormed it. Hundreds of people on the deck resisted, the soldiers used force. Some of the passengers were killed, scores injured. The ship was brought into harbor, the passengers were taken off by force. The world saw them walking on the quay, men and women, young and old, all of them worn out, one after another, each being marched between two soldiers…

The ship was called "Exodus 1947". It left France in the hope of breaking the British blockade, which was imposed to prevent ships loaded with Holocaust survivors from reaching the shores of Palestine. If it had been allowed to reach the country, the illegal immigrants would have come ashore and the British would have sent them to detention camps in Cyprus, as they had done before. Nobody would have taken any notice of the episode for more than two days.

But the person in charge was Ernest Bevin, a Labour Party leader, an arrogant, rude and power-loving British minister. He was not about to let a bunch of Jews dictate to him. He decided to teach them a lesson the entire world would witness. "This is a provocation!" he exclaimed, and of course he was right. The main aim was indeed to create a provocation, in order to draw the eyes of the world to the British blockade.

What followed is well known: the episode dragged on and on, one stupidity led to another, the whole world sympathized with the passengers. But the British did not give in and paid the price. A heavy price.

Many believe that the "Exodus" incident was the turning point in the struggle for the creation of the State of Israel. Britain collapsed under the weight of international condemnation and decided to give up its mandate over Palestine. There were, of course, many more weighty reasons for this decision, but the "Exodus" proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back.  

I AM not the only one who was reminded of this episode this week. Actually, it was almost impossible not to be reminded of it, especially for those of us who lived in Palestine at the time and witnessed it.

There are, of course, important differences. Then the passengers were Holocaust survivors, this time they were peace activists from all over the world. But then and now the world saw heavily armed soldiers brutally attack unarmed passengers, who resist with everything that comes to hand, sticks and bare hands. Then and now it happened on the high seas - 40 km from the shore then, 65 km now.

In retrospect, the British behavior throughout the affair seems incredibly stupid. But Bevin was no fool, and the British officers who commanded the action were not nincompoops. After all, they had just finished a World War on the winning side.

If they behaved with complete folly from beginning to end, it was the result of arrogance, insensitivity and boundless contempt for world public opinion.

Ehud Barak is the Israeli Bevin. He is not a fool, either, nor are our top brass. But they are responsible for a chain of acts of folly, the disastrous implications of which are hard to assess. Former minister and present commentator Yossi Sarid called the ministerial "committee of seven", which decides on security matters, "seven idiots" - and I must protest. It is an insult to idiots.

THE PREPARATIONS for the flotilla went on for more than a year. Hundreds of e-mail messages went back and forth. I myself received many dozens. There was no secret. Everything was out in the open.

There was a lot of time for all our political and military institutions to prepare for the approach of the ships. The politician consulted. The soldiers trained. The diplomats reported. The intelligence people did their job.

Nothing helped. All the decisions were wrong from the first moment to this moment. And it's not yet the end.

The idea of a flotilla as a means to break the blockade borders on genius. It placed the Israeli government on the horns of a dilemma - the choice between several alternatives, all of them bad. Every general hopes to get his opponent into such a situation.

The alternatives were:

(a) To let the flotilla reach Gaza without hindrance. The cabinet secretary supported this option. That would have led to the end of the blockade, because after this flotilla more and larger ones would have come.

(b) To stop the ships in territorial waters, inspect their cargo and make sure they were not carrying weapons or "terrorists", then let them continue on their way. That would have aroused some vague protests in the world but upheld the principle of a blockade.

(c)  To capture them on the high seas and bring them to Ashdod, risking a face-to-face battle with activists on board.

As our governments have always done, when faced with the choice between several bad alternatives, the Netanyahu government chose the worst.

Anyone who followed the preparations as reported in the media could have foreseen that they would lead to people being killed and injured. One does not storm a Turkish ship and expect cute little girls to present one with flowers. The Turks are not known as people who give in easily.

The orders given to the forces and made public included the three fateful words: "at any cost". Every soldier knows what these three terrible words mean. Moreover, on the list of objectives, the consideration for the passengers appeared only in third place, after safeguarding the safety of the soldiers and fulfilling the task.

If Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, the Chief of Staff and the commander of the navy did not understand that this would lead to killing and wounding people, then it must be concluded - even by those who were reluctant to consider this until now  - that they are grossly incompetent. They must be told, in the immortal words of Oliver Cromwell to Parliament: "You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately... Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"

THIS EVENT points again to one of the most serious aspects of the situation: we live in a bubble, in a kind of mental ghetto, which cuts us off and prevents us from seeing another reality, the one perceived by the rest of the world. A psychiatrist might judge this to be the symptom of a severe mental problem.

The propaganda of the government and the army tells a simple story: our heroic soldiers, determined and sensitive, the elite of the elite, descended on the ship in order "to talk" and were attacked by a wild and violent crowd. Official spokesmen repeated again and again the word "lynching".

On the first day, almost all the Israeli media accepted this. After all, it is clear that we, the Jews, are the victims. Always. That applies to Jewish soldiers, too. True, we storm a foreign ship at sea, but turn at once into victims who have no choice but to defend ourselves against violent and incited anti-Semites.

It is impossible not to be reminded of the classic Jewish joke about the Jewish mother in Russia taking leave of her son, who has been called up to serve the Czar in the war against Turkey. "Don't overexert yourself'" she implores him, "Kill a Turk and rest. Kill another Turk and rest again…"

"But mother," the son interrupts, "What if the Turk kills me?"
"You?" exclaims the mother, "But why? What have you done to him?"

To any normal person, this may sound crazy. Heavily armed soldiers of an elite commando unit board a ship on the high seas in the middle of the night, from the sea and from the air - and they are the victims?

But there is a grain of truth there: they are the victims of arrogant and incompetent commanders, irresponsible politicians and the media fed by them. And, actually, of the Israeli public, since most of the people voted for this government or for the opposition, which is no different.

The "Exodus" affair was repeated, but with a change of roles. Now we are the British.

Somewhere, a new Leon Uris is planning to write his next book, "Exodus 2010". A new Otto Preminger is planning a film that will become a blockbuster. A new Paul Newman will star in it - after all, there is no shortage of talented Turkish actors.

MORE THAN 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson declared that every nation must act with a "decent respect to the opinions of mankind". Israeli leaders have never accepted the wisdom of this maxim. They adhere to the dictum of David Ben-Gurion: "It is not important what the Gentiles say, it is important what the Jews do." Perhaps he assumed that the Jews would not act foolishly.

Making enemies of the Turks is more than foolish. For decades, Turkey has been our closest ally in the region, much more close than is generally known. Turkey could play, in the future, an important role as a mediator between Israel and the Arab-Muslim world, between Israel and Syria, and, yes, even between Israel and Iran. Perhaps we have succeeded now in uniting the Turkish people against us - and some say that this is the only matter on which the Turks are now united.

This is Chapter 2 of "Cast Lead". Then we aroused most countries in the world against us, shocked our few friends and gladdened our enemies. Now we have done it again, and perhaps with even greater success. World public opinion is turning against us.

This is a slow process. It resembles the accumulation of water behind a dam. The water rises slowly, quietly, and the change is hardly noticeable. But when it reaches a critical level, the dam bursts and the disaster is upon us. We are steadily approaching this point.

"Kill a Turk and rest," the mother says in the joke. Our government does not even rest. It seems that they will not stop until they have made enemies of the last of our friends.

(Parts of this article were published in Ma'ariv, Israel's second largest newspaper.)


"The Government Is Drowning Us All"

Uri Avnery attacked by rightist thugs

A disaster was averted yesterday (June 5)  at Tel-Aviv's Museum Square, when rightists threw a smoke grenade into the middle of the protest rally, obviously hoping for a panic to break out and cause the protesters to trample on each other. But the demonstrators remained calm, nobody started to run and just a small space in the middle of the crowd remained empty. The speaker did not stop talking even when the cloud of smoke reached the stage. The audience included many children.

Half an hour later, a dozen rightist thugs attacked Gush Shalom's 86 year old Uri Avnery, when he was on his way from the rally in the company of his wife, Rachel, Adam Keller and his wife Beate Siversmidt. Avnery had just entered a taxi, when a dozen rightist thugs attacked him and tried to drag him out of the car. At the critical moment, the police arrived and made it possible for the car to leave. Gush spokesman Adam Keller said: "These cowards did not dare to attack us when we were many, but they were heroes when they caught Avnery alone."

The incident took place when the more than 10 thousand demonstrators were dispersing, after marching through the streets of Tel Aviv in protest against the attack on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

Not only was this one of the largest peace demonstrations for a long time, but also the first time that all parts of the Israeli peace camp - from Gush Shalom and Hadash to Peace Now and Meretz - did unite for common action

The main slogan was "The Government Is Drowning All of Us" and "We must Row towards Peace!" - alluding to the attack on the flotilla. The protesters called in unison "Jews and Arabs Refuse to be Enemies!"

The demonstrators assembled at Rabin Square and marched to Museum Square, where the protest rally was held. Originally, this was planned as a demonstration against the occupation on its 43th anniversary, and for peace based on "Two States for Two Peoples" and "Jerusalem - Capital of the Two States", but recent events turned it mainly into a protest against the attack on the flotilla.

One of the new sights was the great number of national flags, which were flown alongside the red flags of Hadash, the green flags of Meretz and the two-flag emblems of Gush Shalom. Many peace activists have decided that the national flag should no longer be left to the rightists.

"The violence of the rightists is a direct result of the brainwashing, which has been going on throughout the last week," Avnery commented. "A huge propaganda machine has incited the public in order to cover up the terrible mistakes made by our political and military leadership, mistakes which are becoming worse from day to day."

Lying About The Gaza Flotilla Disaster

It's been one lie after another in the US media about the Israeli attack on the Gaza-bound relief flotilla.  No matter that the Israeli media views the whole incident as a debacle for Israel, in this country the Israel-can-do-no-wrong crowd is on overdrive defending the operation.  As usual, facts don't matter to them.
Except they do.
The first thing you need to know about the Gaza flotilla disaster is that the intention of the activists on board the ships was to break the Israeli blockade.  Delivering the embargoed goods was incidental.
In other words, the activists were like the civil rights demonstrators who sat down at segregated lunch counters throughout the South and refused to leave until they were served.  Their goal was not really to get breakfast.  It was to end segregation.
That fact is so obvious that it is hard to believe that the "pro-Israel" lobby is using it as an indictment.
Of course the goal of the flotilla was to break the blockade.  Of course Martin Luther King provoked the civil authorities of the South to break segregation.  Of course the Solidarity movement used workers' rights as a pretext to break Soviet-imposed Communism.
The bottom line is that the men and women of the flotilla had every right to attempt to destroy an illegal blockade that Israel had no legal standing to impose and which was designed to inflict collective punishment on the people of Gaza. (There is no truth to the story that Israel would have delivered the goods on the ships to Gaza if asked; the Israelis never made that offer and, judging by years of precedent, would have blocked any delivery).
As for the Israeli argument that its soldiers were attacked, that is ridiculous. Israeli commandos were ordered to board a civilian ship in international waters and the government that sent them claims that the resisting passengers attacked them without provocation.  This is like a carjacker complaining to the police that the driver bashed him with a crowbar that was under the seat.  Neither carjackers nor hijackers should expect their victims to acquiesce peacefully.
Here are the facts about life in Gaza today -- facts that only can be changed by breaking the blockade.  These data come from the American Near East Relief Association (ANERA), which provides relief to Gazans to the extent permitted by the Israeli (and American) authorities.  ANERA is neither "pro-Israel" nor "pro-Palestinian."  It has no political agenda at all.  It merely determines what human needs are and tries to respond to them.
8 out of 10 Gazans depend on foreign aid to survive.

The World Food Program says Gaza requires a minimum of 400 trucks a day to meet basic nutritional needs - yet an average of just 171 trucks worth of supplies enters Gaza every week,

Clothes that were held in the port of Ashdod for over a year were released into Gaza but arrived covered with mold and mildew, unusable.

95% of Gaza's water fails World Health Organization standards leaving thousands of newborns at risk of poisoning.

Anemia for children under the age of 5 is estimated at 48%.

75 million liters of untreated sewage are pumped into the Mediterranean Sea every day - because piping and spare parts are not permitted.

During the 2009 bombing:

More than 120,000 jobs were lost as Gaza's industrial zone was destroyed... 15,000 homes and apartments were damaged or destroyed... 1/3 of all schools were destroyed.

None of these can be rebuilt, because construction supplies are kept out by the Israeli authorities.

Also, check this out from The Economist.  It is a partial list of commodities allowed into Gaza and commodities banned.  

So what is the blockade about?
It is not about stopping terrorism.  Hamas has repeatedly offered Israel an indefinite cease-fire in exchange for lifting the blockade.  And, on a half dozen occasions, Israel accepted the deal but did not live up to its side of it.  In fact, the 2009 war began after Israel ignored its commitments under the Gaza cease-fire agreement, continued the blockade, and then provoked the resumption of attacks on Sderot through a series of targeted assassinations of Palestinians (Israel claims that no cease-fire agreement curtails its right to kill any Palestinian it deems to be a terrorist).
Israel asserts that it will not accept any long-term cease-fire agreement with Hamas because Hamas does not recognize its right to exist.
But Israel does not need the permission of anyone -- let alone Hamas -- to exist.  All it needs from Hamas is an end to violence and that is precisely what Hamas is offering, in exchange for lifting the blockade.
This is not to say that Hamas need never recognize Israel.  It should.  But it is ridiculous to insist on recognition as a precondition for anything.  Recognition would be the end result of negotiations, not a precondition for it.
But that is not what Israel wants.  It wants to destroy Hamas because it is a terrorist organization.  And that makes sense until one realizes that the African National Congress, Sinn Fein, the Israeli Irgun, the Algerian FLN and a host of other resistance movements were called terrorist organizations before negotiations brought them to power.  Former Israeli Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir were both unabashed terrorists prior to their entrance into respectable politics.  And so what?  If dealing with terrorists -- as Israel has repeatedly done with Hezbollah -- will help achieve a worthy goal, why not do it?  After all, if negotiations fail, one can always walk away.
But Israel will not change its self-defeating policies until we change ours.  And there is no evidence that is happening (at least, not until after the November elections, for obvious reasons).
For now, our policies are joined at the hip with Israel's.  We support the blockade of Gaza.  We oppose any efforts at reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.  We even back Israel's opposition to the Arab Peace Initiative, which offers Israel full peace and normalization of relations with every Arab country in exchange for the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.
Enough is enough.  The Obama administration needs to join the rest of the world in demanding an end to the Gaza blockade as a first big step toward the resumption of negotiations.
The attack on the flotilla was one of the most disastrous blunders in Israel's history.  At last, the whole world sees Israel's policy of collective punishment for what it is -- a means to perpetuate the occupation forever. Only the United States government has chosed to close its eyes.
The occupation is killing Israel.  And we are on the sidelines letting it happen.  Some ally

Friday, June 4, 2010

Israel's defenders mobilize, threaten

The biggest threat to Israel is the Neocons, who are itching to have wars, bomb and threaten others. No nation will be secure if they keep threatening others and expect them to be silent, they will counter threat...and they will coutner it.. there is no end to the itching ideology and policies of Neocons. It is time for moderates to speak up and ask the neocons to shut up for a while, their policies have kept Israel on the edge, and not safe.

Mike Ghouse

Israel's defenders mobilize, threaten
By Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON - Faced with what the Wall Street Journal calls "one of Israel's worst international relations disasters in years", the right-wing leadership of the so-called "Israel Lobby" has been pulling out all the stops to defend the Jewish state against global outrage over its deadly seizure of a Gaza-bound vessel in international waters carrying humanitarian supplies early on Monday morning.

Its biggest concern for now is to prevent the administration of US President Barack Obama from distancing itself in any way - let alone joining in the almost universal condemnation - from the military operation in which at least nine civilian passengers of the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara were killed by Israeli commandos.

"As the international community is engaged in a biased rush to judgment against Israel and a diplomatic lynching, now is the time

for the United States to firmly stand with the Jewish state and its people," said Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, on Wednesday.

"The US must show the world that it not only supports Israel's right to defend its borders and citizens against terrorism, but that it supports Israel's right to protect itself from people who pretend to be 'peace activists', and parade under the guise of humanitarians while supporting Hamas and violently attacking Israeli military personnel," he added.

Indeed, even after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman publicly thanked Washington for its efforts to "water down" a statement by the president of the United Nations Security Council issued early on Tuesday morning, hard-line neo-conservatives complained bitterly that Obama had betrayed its closest ally by not vetoing it.

"So why did we agree to the presidential statement?" asked Elliott Abrams, former president George W Bush's top Middle Eastern aide, in an article entitled "Joining the Jackals".

"The White House did not wish to stand with Israel against this mob [of Security Council members who condemned the Israeli attack] because it does not have a policy of solidarity with Israel," Abrams, who is now based at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote for the neo-conservative Weeklystandard.com. "It would have been simple to stop the mob had the White House wanted to." (Emphasis in the original.)

Some neo-conservatives, whose worldview is closely aligned to that of Netanyahu's Likud Party, even suggested that Obama's failure to unconditionally defend Israel in its hour of need could well make the Jewish state take even more aggressive action in the future.

"If Obama decides it is in America's interest to make an example of Israel after the Gaza flotilla incident in order to win goodwill in Cairo, Beirut, Tehran and Ankara," warned Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute, "then he must also recognize that the leadership in Jerusalem is going to conclude that it cannot trust the United States to safeguard its security, and that therefore it must take matters into its own hands on any number of issues, not the least of which is Iran's nuclear program."

In effect, if the White House decides to come down hard on Israel now," he added in National Review Online, "it is the same as giving a green light for Israel to strike Iran."

That threat was echoed in a remarkable column published by the neo-conservative Wall Street Journal on Tuesday in which the author, Ronen Bergman of Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, argued that the operation itself was "irresponsible" and evidence that a "siege mentality" - based on the belief that world opinion is irreversibly hostile to the Jewish state - had taken hold of the country and its governing elite.

Citing Iran's nuclear program, Bergman argued that such an "unhealthy mindset" was "profoundly disturbing when the fatigued and isolated country itself has the means to strike pre-emptively and punishingly at its enemies, including in ways from which, realistically, there may be no return."

While neo-conservatives were warning darkly about the geopolitical consequences for the administration of any distancing from Israel's position, the Lobby's leaders and their friends in US Congress focused more on defending Israel's version of the pre-dawn incident that took place on Monday some 100 kilometers off Gaza's coast.

They insisted, among other things, that the Israeli commandos who carried out the operation, armed only with paintball rifles and handguns, acted in self-defense after coming under attack from passengers brandishing iron bars, knives and other crude weapons.

"Israeli soldiers had every right to defend their lives against a lynch mob attacking them with knives and clubs," said Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Based primarily on a short video distributed by the Israel Defense Forces, this version of events, including the weapons involved on both sides, has been called into question by the testimony of many of the 600 some passengers. After being towed to Israel and held incommunicado for some 24 hours, they were deported on Wednesday.

It also failed to take into account the right of self-defense of those aboard a vessel that came under attack in international waters. "This is like a carjacker complaining to the police that the driver bashed him with a crowbar that was under the seat," noted M J Rosenberg, a Middle East analyst at Media Matters.

Israel's defenders have also tried to focus media and public attention on what they have called the "terrorist-linked, radical Islamic" group that reportedly bought the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish-based Insani Yardim Vakfi, or IHH, and helped sponsor the flotilla of eight vessels that set out to breach Israel's three-year-old blockade of Gaza.

According to a release put out on Monday by the powerful American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a declassified report by the Central Intelligence Agency after 9/11 named the IHH "as part of 15 organizations that employed members or otherwise facilitate the activities of terrorist groups - INCLUDING al-Qaeda".

Another AIPAC release cited testimony by a "famed French counter-terrorism investigator" that the IHH had played "an important role" in the al-Qaeda Millenium [sic] bomb plot" that targeted Los Angeles International Airport.

But, while the IHH appears to have played a role in recruiting fighters in the Bosnia and Chechnya conflicts in the mid-1990s when the US Central Intelligence Agency report was written, it currently carries out relief operations in more than 100 countries, including Haiti and a number of African countries, as well as in Gaza, the New York Times reported Tuesday. And, aside from an assortment of sticks and kitchen knives, no weapons were found aboard any of the ships seized by Israel.

Similar talking points, however, were deployed by The Israel Project (TIP), another right-wing Zionist group that mobilized its members to write e-mails to lawmakers and media outlets in their area calling on them to stand by Israel. In the space of two hours on Tuesday afternoon, the Washington bureau of Inter Press Service received nearly 20 emails from TIP members in support of Israel's version of the incident.

Jim Lobe's blog on US foreign policy can be read at http://www.ips.org/blog/jimlobe/ .

(Inter Press Service)