The Palestinian trade union movement, as a key constituent member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), calls on dockworkers’ unions worldwide to block Israeli maritime trade in response to Israel’s massacre of humanitarian relief workers and activists aboard the Freedom Flotilla, until Israel complies with international law and ends its illegal blockade of Gaza. Drunk with power and impunity, Israel has ignored recent appeals by the UN Secretary General as well as a near consensus among world governments to end its siege, putting the onus on international civil society to shoulder the moral responsibility of holding Israel accountable to international law and ending its criminal impunity. Dockworkers around the world have historically contributed to the struggle against injustice, most notably against the apartheid regime in South Africa, when port workers unions refused to load/offload cargo on/from South African ships as a most effective way of protesting the apartheid regime.
Today, we ask you to join the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), who resolved not to offload Israeli ships in Durban in February 2009 in protest of Israel’s war of aggression on Gaza, and the Swedish Dockworkers Union who resolved to blockade all Israeli ships and cargo to and from Israel in protest of Israel’s attack against the Freedom Flotilla and the ongoing deadly Israeli siege of the occupied Gaza Strip.
Israel’s ongoing blockade of essential food, health, educational and construction supplies is not only immoral, it is a severe form of collective punishment, a war crime that is strictly prohibited under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, that is inducing mass poverty, water contamination, environmental collapse, chronic diseases, economic devastation and hundreds of deaths. This three-year-old medieval siege against 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza has been squarely condemned by leading legal experts, including UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Prof. Richard Falk, who described it as constituting “slow genocide.”
Israel’s deplorable attacks on the unarmed ships are a violation of both international maritime law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which states that “the high seas should be reserved for peaceful purposes.” Under article 3 of the Rome Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation of 1988, it is an international crime for any person to seize or exercise control over a ship by force, and also a crime to injure or kill any person in the process. As prominent international law scholars have recently confirmed, there is absolutely no legal justification for Israel’s act of aggression against international civilian ships carrying humanitarian and developmental aid to civilians suffering under occupation and a patently illegal blockade, which has created a man-made and deliberately sustained humanitarian catastrophe. Our response must be commensurate with this crisis.
Gaza today has become the test of our universal morality and our common humanity. During the South African anti-apartheid struggle, the world was inspired by the brave and principled actions of dockworkers unions who refused to handle South African cargo, contributing significantly to the ultimate fall of apartheid. Today, we call on you, dockworkers unions of the world, to do the same against Israel’s occupation and apartheid. This is the most effective form of solidarity to end injustice and uphold universal human rights.
Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)
General Union of Palestinian Workers (GUPW)
Federation of Independent Trade Unions (IFU)
Palestinian Professionals Association (includes the national syndicates of engineers, agricultural engineers, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, lawyers and veterinarians)
Youth Workers Movement (Fatah)
Central Office for the Workers Movement (Fatah)
Progressive Workers Block
Workers Unity Block
Workers Struggle Block
Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE)-part of IFU
Workers Liberation Front
Labor Front Block
Workers Solidarity Organization
Workers Struggle Organization
Southfield –A Muslim advocacy group released a report today claiming an imam was mauled by an FBI dog during a raid and may have fired at it to stop the attack.
The finding comes from an independent autopsy retained by the Council of American-Islamic Relations, whose leaders discussed the report during a news conference this afternoon at their Southfield offices.
The autopsy from forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht, who is based in Pennsylvania, follows months of controversy over the shooting death of Luqman Abdullah. He was shot by FBI agents in October during a raid in a Dearborn warehouse over a stolen-goods operation.
The agents say they returned fire from Abdullah after he opened fire. A federal indictment labeled him a violent extremist but others have questioned the characterization and called for an independent investigation.
Wecht’s report — which was based on an earlier autopsy and didn’t involve exhuming the body — concluded an FBI dog killed in the raid was responsible for wounds on the imam’s face, hands and arms. The report also concluded that the imam’s jaw was broken as a result of the attack and not from an impact of falling to the ground as previously believed.
Also, Wecht’s report claimed Abdullah, who was shot 21 times, was shot twice in the back and not once as concluded by the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The county report also indicates the imam was shot twice in the chest, four times in the abdomen, twice in the groin, four times in the left hip and side, seven times in the left thigh and once in the scrotum.
CAIR executive director Dawud Walid said the dog bites on Abullah’s body may indicate the imam was trying to protect himself against the attack by the animal.
Walid renewed his call for the FBI, Dearborn Police and the Michigan State police to [provide] videotapes and other information on the case. He also called again for an independent investigation by the Justice Department into Abdullah’s shooting.
“They are the only ones who can do a thorough and robust investigation,” Walid said.
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Letter to the Honorable and Noble Helen Thomas: You are not alone in facing smears by Ari Fleicher et al. We’re with you.
“Right and wrong are the same in Palestine as anywhere else. What is peculiar about the Palestine conflict is that the world has listened to the party that has committed the offence and has turned a deaf ear to the victims.”
—British Historian Arnold Toynbee, Foreword to The Transformation 1971
“Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and in-human to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that of the last war. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home.
The nobler course would be to insist on a just treatment of the Jews wherever they are born and bred. The Jews born in France are French in precisely the same sense that Christians born in France are French. If the Jews have no home but Palestine, will they relish the idea of being forced to leave the other parts of the world in which they are settled? Or do they want a double home where they can remain at will? This cry for the national home affords a colourable justification for the German expulsion of the Jews.”
Indeed there is free speech in America except if the Eleventh Commandment is violated which states: Thou shall not speak ill of Jews and Israel lest you be cursed.
Your comments that Jews came from Europe to settle a foreign nation, Palestine, is absolutely true and undeniable. Many courageous Israeli politicians, diplomats, academicians and journalists such as Avi Shlaim, Ilan Pappe, Benny Morris, Tom Segev, and Simha Flapan who used declassified Israeli documents to prove the creation of Israel by European Jews through ethnic cleansing (called then by Israeli politicians “transfer”)
Here are two quotes from David Ben Gurion, Israel’s founder and First Prime Minister:
“With compulsory transfer we [would] have a vast area [for settlement] …. I support compulsory transfer. I don’t see anything immoral in it.” (Righteous Victims, p. 144)
“If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country … We come from Israel, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?”
Your mistake was not historical but addressed a taboo subject–Jews and Israel–that immediately garners the ire, demands, and intimidation of organized Jewry who have easy access to a large portion of the American media to spread such attacks like wildfire until the person who made such remarks is smeared, humiliated, fired, or never to be hired again.
How inexplicably ironic that the Neocon Pro Iraq War White House press secretary Ari Fleicher should demand your firing because you spoke a truthful statement, yet he and his mainly Jewish Neocons took this country to an illegal immoral war based on total LIES that led to the invasion of a nation innocent of 9/11 or Al Qaeda times, Iraq, thus devastating the country and murdering over one million Iraqis. Iraqis are dying till this day due to that invasion. Fleischer’s staunch Pro Israel support is not just due to him being a Jew but according to SourceWatch he holds a dual citizenship, American and Israeli.
According to Ari Fleischer Helen Thomas advocated for a “religious cleansing”. The fact is she never mentioned religion but simply stated historical facts.
Here’s Ari Fleischer, the White House Spin Doctor on WMD’s in Iraq: March 21, 2003
“Well, there is NO question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of Mass Destruction, Biological and Chemical particularly”
He still defends Bush and the mass destruction of Iraq till this day. Not one single person in the Bush Administration has ever been held accountable for the war crimes committed against Iraq.
Is this a man who has a shred of credibility to attack you, Helen, the most honored, longest serving journalist in the White House? You’ve been the only courageous journalist in the White House to doggedly seek truthful answers to questions the American people, in fact the world, want answered. It’s been only since the Bush Administration with Ari Fleischer as press secretary that you’ve been slowly marginalized due to your insistence on the truth of why we invaded an innocent nation that has cost this country close to 5,000 deaths, tens of thousands of injured soldiers, and at a cost of $1 Trillion…
Hearst must remain true to its principle that free speech is a bulwark of our democracy. You did not speak as a reporter for Hearst or in any official capacity but gave your honest (and truthful) opinion that Israel was founded and inhabited by European Jews. Although most Americans and world citizens would agree with your historical statement they don’t have your honorable courage to state such truth.
The fear of a large scale media driven backlash with the powerful label of the modern Scarlett Letter, “A” for Anti-Semite, is enough to bring our government, institutions, and private citizens to withhold their tongue, or else.
It would be an unjust and total capitulation to a minority group (Most Jewish Americans are not members of organized Jewry and in fact most oppose Israel’s policies) if Hearst would accede to a most politically motivated attack against you because you’re a thorn, a gadfly, in the side of those who thrive on propaganda for their livelihood or on idealogic grounds.
Neither Fleischer, nor organized Jewry, nor Conservatives, nor the media demanded that Dick Armey be removed from his leadership post in Congress or that Mike Huckabee be fired by MSNBC for their public remarks that Israel ethnically cleanse the Palestinians for a third time, this time the entire population out of their occupied homeland.
“Most of the people who now populate Israel were transported from all over the world to that land and they made it their home. The Palestinians can do the same, and we’re per–perfectly content to work with the Palestinians in doing that. We are not willing to sacrifice Israel for the notion of a Palestinian homeland.”
“There is only one place on earth where the Jewish people could have a homeland that is consistent with their roots, whereas the Palestinians can create their homeland in many other places in the Middle East, outside Israel,”
Many known and unknown personalities around the world who dared to criticize Israel’s founding, its policies, or the powerful stronghold the Israel Lobby has on our government have been summarily attacked and smeared to ensure their silence and deter others from practicing their Constitutional right enshrined in the Bill of Rights, the Right to Free Speech and Free Press.
Helen, you join such laudable company as President Jimmy Carter, Former Archbishop Desmund Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Nobel Prize Winners Mary Robinson and Malread Corrigan Maguire, among many European, African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American politicians, diplomats, academicians, and journalists.
Many persons have paid the price for daring to raise Israel’s founding based on the theft of a nation, Palestine or its brutal occupation of the West Bank, inhumane siege of Gaza or its multiple wars and invasions of Arab nations. I personally lived through and survived Israel’s three month siege and bombardment of Beirut from air, land, and sea that killed close to 20,000 civilians.
I urge Hearst not to acquiesce to the politically motivated attacks on Helen Thomas, a journalist in the mold of Edward Murrow and Walter Cronkite. There will never be another Helen Thomas and Hearst must honor her long service to this nation, her pursuit for truth and holding our politicians accountable to the Constitution and the American people, and preserve her reputation so that she may retire with dignity and nobility that she richly deserves.
America will be the worst off when Helen ever decides to retire.
God bless you Helen, and may He keep you in good health, good spirits, and continue to give you the strength to fight for truth for all our sake.
With utmost respect and gratitude
Mohamed Khodr M.D., M.P.H.
10 April, 2001
Rabbi calls for annihilation of Arabs
“It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable,”…..”The Lord shall return the Arabs’ deeds on their own heads, waste their seed and exterminate them, devastate them and vanish them from this world,
“Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Foreign Minister, supports a form of ethnic cleansing, advocating the transfer of Israeli Arab citizens out of Israel. (Population transfer is known under international law as a form of “ethnic cleansing.”) He’s argued, “The idea of land for peace is false… the guiding principle has to be exchange of populations and territories…. We will never agree to a definition of ‘two states for two peoples’.” J-Street
“The Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, has said that Israeli Arabs must leave Israel as soon as a Palestinian state is established.
“Once a Palestinian state is established, I can come to the Palestinian citizens, whom we call Israeli Arabs, and say to them ‘you are citizens with equal rights, but the national solution for you is elsewhere,’” Livni said during a meeting with high school students in Tel Aviv.
“Polls show that more than half of the Jewish population does not wish Arabs to live in their neighborhoods and that many Israelis would like to see the government encourage Arab citizens to leave the country.”
MUST READ: Albert Einstein and Other Prominent U.S. Jews Letter to the New York Times December 4, 1984 on Menachem Begin and Founding of Israel
TO THE EDITORS OF THE NEW YORK TIMES:
“Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.”
There is something way too literal about Israel shooting out the eye of a witness to its crimes.
This photograph of Emily Henochowicz’s bandaged face needs to be seen by the world.
Like many of us around the world, Henochowicz, a 21-year-old Cooper Union art student, joined protests on Monday against Israel’s outrageous attack on the humanitarian flotilla. But unfortunately, the protest Emily attended was in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and like so many protests in the West Bank, it was violently attacked by the IDF. According to a report from the International Solidarity Movement, Emily was “hit in the face with a tear gas projectile fired directly at her by an Israeli soldier during the demonstration at Qalandiya checkpoint today.” Sören Johanssen, a Swedish activist standing beside Henochowicz, reported that, “They fired many canisters at us in rapid succession. One landed on either side of Emily, then the third one hit her in the face.”
This courageous young woman is now the wrenching embodiment of a policy that systematically targets witnesses and human rights advocates — from Stop the Wall’s Mohammad Othman, arrested on his way back from a European speaking tour, to the vicious smear campaign waged against Justice Richard Goldstone.
Cluster bomb shells dropped on Vietnam by the US military
Amnesty International says the United States used cluster bombs on a cruise missile in Yemen, killing 55 people, most of whom were civilians.
The attack, according to the rights group, targeted Al-Maajala in the Abyan province at a time when Washington was pushing hard to project militants in the country.
“Amnesty International is gravely concerned by evidence that cluster munitions appear to have been used in Yemen,” said Mike Lewis, the group’s arms control researcher, AFP reported.
The group cited a Yemeni parliamentary committee as reporting in February that the attack had killed 41 local residents, including 14 women and 21 children, in addition to 14 alleged militants.
Deputy Director of AI’s Middle East and North Africa Program, Philip Luther warned that “a military strike of this kind against alleged militants without an attempt to detain them is at the very least unlawful.”
“The fact that so many of the victims were actually women and children indicates that the attack was in fact grossly irresponsible, particularly given the likely use of cluster munitions,” he also said.
Lewis said, “Cluster munitions have indiscriminate effects and unexploded bomblets threaten lives and livelihoods for years afterwards.”
AI had obtained photographs which showed remains of the BGM-109D Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile. “This type of missile, launched from a warship or submarine, is designed to carry a payload of 166 cluster sub-munitions (bomblets) which each explode into over 200 sharp steel fragments that can cause injuries up to 150 meters (about 500 feet) away,” an AI statement said.
“An incendiary material inside the bomblet also spreads fragments of burning zirconium designed to set fire to nearby flammable objects,” it added.
You want to know why we need independent journalism, and why those of you who are reading this article need to support the publication in which it is appearing and the article in which it originally appeared? Because if you rely for your news on the US corporate media, whether ad-supported or underwriter-supported, you won’t learn that Furkan Dogan, the 19-year-old American citizen slain by Israeli commandos in the raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla May 31, was shot in the back and in the back of the head, as well as multiple times in the face.
This is the conclusion of the autopsy conducted by the Turkish Council of Forensic Medicine, which also did autopsies on the eight other Turkish citizens killed in the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara ferry and five other smaller boats in the so-called Freedom Flotilla. Of the other eight dead, the medical examiners found that five had been shot in the back, or in the back of the head.
This critically important information has not appeared in US news reports. Some American news organizations have left out the autopsy information entirely from their reports as of Saturday. CNN, in its report on Friday, did note that five of the nine were shot in the head, and at close range, but the all-important fact that most of the victims were shot from behind was left out. ABC had the same information on Thursday, again without mentioning the shots from behind. In its article on Friday, the NY Times had yet to even name Dogan, the American victim, much less mention the bullets that hit him or how he was shot.
And yet, if you’re trying to establish what happened on that ship, the direction of the firing, not just the number of bullets, or the distance from which they were fired, is crucial.
I had some experience with this as a reporter in Los Angeles, back in the 1970s. There was a story that ran in all the local papers, including the LA Times, and my paper, the LA Daily News, about a 14-year-old kid killed by police while he was burglarizing an empty house in the San Fernando Valley. All the papers reported the police story that he had been shot and killed when police entered the house on a call of a burglary, and he “turned and appeared to be carrying a gun” (it turned out to be some camera equipment he was trying to cart off).
On a hunch, I decided to look more into the story, and as my beat was county government, I went to visit the coroner’s office. There I was shown, at my request, the drawings and report on the boy’s autopsy. What I discovered was that all the police bullets entered the boy’s back. He was shot while fleeing the police, not while turning to face them.
If you’re a real reporter, not a stenographer to power, you’ve got to ask. A reporter from the Guardian did ask. US reporters did not ask. Or if they did ask, they didn’t put the answer in their reports. Or if they did put the answer in their reports, editors removed the answer. And so far, no reporter has come forward to protest this news blackout, even anonymously.
In this current case of the Israeli commando assault on the Gaza aid flotilla, if victims were shot in the back or in the back of the head, then one is left really with only two possible conclusions: either the shooters, who were the Israeli commandos (according to Israel, no Israeli soldiers were themselves shot, plus all the recovered bullets were 9 mm, the type of shells in the Israeli weapons, making it clear who had the guns), fired at people who were fleeing from them, or alternatively they shot people from the front, and later executed them with shots to the back of the head, which is maybe even worse (certainly a war crime).
There aren’t many other possible explanations, and either way we’re talking about criminal behavior on the high seas in what many are calling an act of piracy, or else an act of war against a NATO nation.
I suppose if only one of the nine victims had exhibited a rear head wound, one might at least theorize a scenario in which he might have spun around upon being shot in the face, and the commando, firing rapidly, might have gotten off one unneeded extra round that caught the victim from the rear. But for that to happen five times requires a tremendous suspension of disbelief.
So much for the Israeli government propaganda about its poor and unprepared commandos being surprised and set upon by vicious “terrorists” on the boat, armed with kitchen knives, sticks and metal rods, when they were anticipating nothing but peaceful resistance. (This absurd story line was contradicted by Israel’s other story line, that it considered the organizer of the flotilla, the Turkish IHH charity, to be linked to Hamas and Hezbollah, and that it “knew” that Palestinian terrorists had insinuated themselves among the boat’s activists–a claim which, if true, means the commandos would have been, and surely were, well-armed and prepared for a truly violent reception.)
In any event, what the autopsies reveal is a massacre, with commandos deliberately murdering activists on the boats–either directly, or after initially wounding them.
What they also reveal is the shameless pro-Israel bias of the US media, which has simply decided that facts uncomfortable to Israel and its US government backer are not news that’s “fit to print.”
You can read about the autopsies in the U.K. Guardian newspaper, or in Switzerland (SwissInfo) or in Australia (the Melbourne Age), and you can even read it in a Reuters report (which is a news service that most American news organizations subscribe to, but which they actually show their readers only selectively), but you cannot read it or hear about it in the mainstream US media, where most Americans unfortunately still turn for their information.
That is unacceptable.
In 2002 I initiated the TJP Human Shield Action to Iraq because I knew that the invasion of Iraq had been planned well in advance, that it was part of a ‘Global Spectrum Dominance’ agenda as laid out by the Project For A New American Century. I knew that protests had no chance of stopping the invasion, and that largely these protests were just a way of making us feel better about the coming mass murder; by being able to say “I protested against it.” With that understanding I argued that the only viable way to stop the invasion was to conduct a mass migration to Iraq. A migration in which people from around the world, especially western citizens, would position themselves at sites in Iraq that are supposed to be protected by international law, but which are routinely bombed when it is only Iraqi, Palestinian, generally non-white, western lives who will be killed. I felt 10,000 such people could stop the invasion, or at the very least, expose the invasion for what it was from the start, an act of international aggression, a war crime and a crime against humanity.
I have for many years understood that we, people of conscience, are the true holders of power in this world. Frustratingly however we have largely relinquished that power and failed to reach our full potential. Our potential to create a better world, a just world. Nonetheless I have conspired with others of like mind to reveal and exercise our true power.
When our two double decker busses travelled from London to Baghdad through Turkey, it was ever clear that the people of Turkey also could sense the power of this act, and they were the biggest participants in it. In the end we did not get the numbers required to stop the war, with at least one million Iraqi’s dead as a result, but I remain convinced that it was within our power to prevent the invasion. A massive opportunity lost as far as I am concerned.
In 2007 I joined the Free Gaza Movement with its plan to challenge the blockade of Gaza by travelling to Gaza by sea. From the moment I heard of the plan I knew it could succeed and ultimately I served as a captain on the first attempt. The Israeli government said throughout our preparation that we were no better than pirates and they would treat us as such. They made clear we would not reach Gaza. And still I knew we could succeed. And we did. Two boats with 46 passengers from various countries managed to sail into Gaza; this was the first time this had been done in 41 years.
The truth is the blockade of Gaza is far more than three years old, and yet we, a small group of conscientious people defied the Israeli machine and celebrated with tens of thousands of Gazans when we arrived that day. We proved that it could be done. We proved that an intelligent plan, with skilled manipulation of the media, could render the full might of the Israeli Navy useless. And I knew then that this was only the tip of the iceberg.
So participating in the Freedom Flotilla is like a family reunion to me. It is my long lost family whose conscience is their guide, who have shed the fear, who act with humanity. But I was especially proud to join IHH and the Turkish elements of the flotilla. I deeply admire the strength and character of the Turkish people, despite your history having stains of injustice, like every nation, you are today from citizen to Prime Minister among the leaders in the cause of humanity and justice.
I remember being asked during the TJP Human Shield Action to Iraq if I was a pacifist, I responded with a quote from Gandhi by saying I am not a passive anything. To the contrary I believe in action, and I also believe in self-defence, 100 per cent, without reservation. I would be incapable of standing by while a tyrant murders my family, and the attack on the Mavi Marmara was like an attack on my Palestinian family. I am proud to have stood shoulder to shoulder with those who refused to let a rogue Israeli military exert their will without a fight.
And yes, we fought.
When I was asked, in the event of an Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara, would I use the camera, or would I defend the ship? I enthusiastically committed to defence of the ship. Although I am also a huge supporter of non-violence, in fact I believe non-violence must always be the first option. Nonetheless I joined the defence of the Mavi Mamara understanding that violence could be used against us and that we may very well be compelled to use violence in self defence.
I said this straight to Israeli agents, probably of Mossad or Shin Bet, and I say it again now, on the morning of the attack I was directly involved in the disarming of two Israeli Commandos. This was a forcible, non-negotiable, separation of weapons from commandos who had already murdered two brothers that I had seen that day. One brother with a bullet entering dead center in his forehead, in what appeared to be an execution.
I knew the commandos were murdering when I removed a 9mm pistol from one of them. I had that gun in my hands and as an ex-US Marine with training in the use of guns it was completely within my power to use that gun on the commando who may have been the murderer of one of my brothers. But that is not what I, nor any other defender of the ship did. I took that weapon away, removed the bullets, proper lead bullets, separated them from the weapon and hid the gun. I did this in the hopes that we would repel the attack and submit this weapon as evidence in a criminal trial against Israeli authorities for mass murder. I also helped to physically separate one commando from his assault rifle, which another brother apparently threw into the sea.
I and hundreds of others know the truth that makes a mockery of the brave and moral Israeli military. We had in our full possession, three completely disarmed and helpless commandos. These boys were at our mercy, they were out of reach of their fellow murderers, inside the ship and surrounded by 100 or more men. I looked into the eyes of all three of these boys and I can tell you they had the fear of God in them. They looked at us as if we were them, and I have no doubt they did not believe there was any way they would survive that day. They looked like frightened children in the face of an abusive father.
But they did not face an enemy as ruthless as they. Instead the woman provided basic first aid, and ultimately they were released, battered and bruised for sure, but alive. Able to live another day. Able to feel the sun over head and the embrace of loved ones. Unlike those they murdered. Despite mourning the loss of our brothers, feeling rage towards these boys, we let them go.
The Israeli prostitutes of propaganda can spew all of their disgusting bile all they wish, the commandos are the murderers, we are the defenders, and yet we fought. We fought not just for our lives, not just for our cargo, not just for the people of Palestine, we fought in the name of justice and humanity. We were right to do so, in every way.
While in Israeli custody I, along with everyone else was subjected to endless abuse and flagrant acts of disrespect. Women and elderly were physically and mentally assaulted. Access to food and water and toilets was denied. Dogs were used against us, we ourselves were treated like dogs. We were exposed to direct sun in stress positions while hand cuffed to the point of losing circulation of blood in our hands. We were lied to incessantly, in fact I am awed at the routineness and comfort in their ability to lie, it is remarkable really. We were abused in just about every way imaginable and I myself was beaten and choked to the point of blacking out… and I was beaten again while in my cell. In all this what I saw more than anything else were cowards… and yet I also see my brothers. Because no matter how vile and wrong the Israeli agents and government are, they are still my brothers and sisters and for now I only have pity for them. Because they are relinquishing the most precious thing a human being has, their humanity.
In conclusion; I would like to challenge every endorser of Gandhi, every person who thinks they understand him, who acknowledges him as one of the great souls of our time (which is just about every western leader), I challenge you in the form of a question.
Please explain how we, the defenders of the Mavi Mamara, are not the modern example of Gandhi’s essence? But first read the words of Gandhi himself. I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence…. I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour. – Gandhi And lastly I have one more challenge. I challenge any critic of merit, publicly, to debate me on a large stage over our actions that day. I would especially love to debate with any Israeli leader who accuses us of wrongdoing, it would be my tremendous pleasure to face off with you. All I saw in Israel was cowards with guns, so I am ripe to see you in a new context. I want to debate with you on the largest stage possible. Take that as an open challenge and let us see just how brave Israeli leaders are.
Ken O’Keefe is a former US Marine and Gulf War veteran.
Senior Hamas official Salah al-Bardawil
Hamas has welcomed a proposal by the European Union (EU) to monitor Gaza crossings in a bid to help lift the Israeli-imposed siege on the Palestinian territory.
Hamas “welcomes this proposal in all its aspects,” of EU or international presence at Rafah, Ma’an news agency quoted the Palestinian movement’s senior official Salah al-Bardawil as saying on Sunday.
Bardawil, however, strongly rejected the idea of Israel policing in the south, stressing that “Israel should not obstruct any convoys or ships coming to the Gaza port.”
Spanish Foreign Minster Miguel Angel Moratinos, whose country currently heads the rotating EU presidency, floated the idea of an international monitoring force on Saturday.
The proposed plan reportedly includes the activation of the EU monitoring committee at Rafah and developing similar initiatives at at least three other crossings. The force would also assist in sea patrols so that the Gaza port could open.
The proposal comes on the heels of a May 31 commando attack by the Israeli navy against a convoy carrying some 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.
The offensive killed nine people onboard the six-ship Freedom Flotilla which — accompanied by 700 international activists — indented to break Tel Aviv’s blockade on the impoverished residents of Gaza.
The proposal is to be brought forth and discussed in the European bloc, “so that situations like the ones that happened this week will not be repeated,” Moratinos said.
Bardawil said the Palestinian government will study the plan “so a consensus can be reached” on what is acceptable in terms of having international patrols in Gaza waters.
The Israeli Knesset house committee decided to revoke three key parliamentarian privileges of MK Zo’by for being part of the Freedom Flotilla that was carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza.
The decision was passed by a majority of seven to one, with MK Ilan Gilon of Meretz opposing.
One is the privilege to exit the country, second is bearing diplomatic passport, while the third privilege is the right to have the Knesset cover litigation fees of an MK if she is put on trial.
Likud member of Knesset Yariv Levin, slammed the National Democratic Assembly and its member Mk Hanin Zo’by, and stated that she refuses to pledge allegiance to Israel.
Levin quoted Zo’by as stating that she spoke of Israel’s nuclear power and that she said there should be a country that has a parallel power to Israel in the Middle East.
Levin also stated that Zo’by told reporters in Turkey that she refuses to be Israeli, and that she is a Palestinian despite being a member of the Knesset.
He added that she told the Qatar-based Al Jazeera that fundamentalist Israeli parties refuse to recognize the Arabs in the country as the indigenous people, and that she criticized Israel for politically prosecuting Arab intellectuals and officials such as Dr. Azmi Bishara, who challenges Zionism and presents the difference between democracy and Zionism.
Leven also said that Zo’by and several other Arab officials visited Libya and met its president Moammar Qaddafi despite the fact that Israel regards Libya as an enemy state.
While the Knesset session is being held, and the debate is heating up, dozens of fundamentalists started their protest in front of the Knesset demanding Israel to expel Zo’by to Gaza or ant Arab country.
In an interview with Israeli Army Radio before the session, Levin said that Zo’by “betrayed Israel” and must be prosecuted as a traitor.
He said that Zo’by crossed all red lines, adding that “those who sail to Hamas, support terrorism”.
But Attorney Eyal Yinon, the legal advisor of the Knesset, objected to revoking privileges of Zo’by, and that legitimacy to be a Knesset member cannot be revoked due to participation in the Freedom Flotilla.
Yinon added that this debate is about “misuse of rights”, Israeli Ynet News reported, “and not on the status of Knesset members”.
Furthermore, Attorney Ran Nizri, the senior assistant of Israel’s Attorney General, stated that visiting Libya is not prohibited as the country is not on Israel’s list of countries that Israelis are not allowed to visit.
MK Zo’by told the Ynet that Levin is trying to delegitimize her participation in the Freedom Flotilla, and is also trying to delegitimize to Balad Political Party she represents.
She added that the session started with an atmosphere of hostility and hatred, and that this hostility and the committee in charge if the session is not only threatening her, but also attacking Arab members of the Knesset.
The foreign ministers of France and Britain have urged an international investigation into a recent Israeli attack on a Gaza-bound aid convoy, which left nine people dead.
Speaking at a joint press conference with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner late on Sunday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague stressed the need for “a credible and transparent investigation.”
“There should be an international presence at minimum,” AFP quoted Hague as saying.
Meanwhile, Kouchner noted that an international investigation was needed as several countries were involved in the fatal incident.
The French minister also offered to defuse the crisis by monitoring cargo on board the aid ships heading to Gaza.
“We (the European Union) could very well check the cargo of ships heading to Gaza…We would be very willing to do it,” Kouchner proposed.
Earlier on Sunday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept a request made by the UN for “a credible and impartial inquiry” into the deadly Israeli commando assault on the Gaza-bound aid convoy.
Nine people died on May 31 when Israeli soldiers opened fire on the Turkish vessel M.V. Mavi Marmara as it attempted to transport humanitarian assistance to the besieged Gaza Strip.
Twenty-eight children lost their fathers as a result of the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla aid convoy.
While many countries have called for an international inquiry into the attack, Israel’s ambassador to the United States rejected their demand, arguing that “Israel is a democracy. Israel has the ability and the right to investigate itself, not to be investigated by any international board.”