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Magda Hassan
06-30-2009, 02:16 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
30 June 2009

For more information contact:
Greta Berlin (English)
tel: +357 99 081 767 / friends@freegaza.org

Caoimhe Butterly (Arabic/English/Spanish):
tel: +357 99 077 820 / sahara78@hotmail.co.uk
www.FreeGaza.org (http://www.freegaza.org/)

[23 miles off the coast of Gaza, 15:30pm] - Today Israeli Occupation
Forces attacked and boarded the Free Gaza Movement boat, the SPIRIT OF
HUMANITY, abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries,
including Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman
Cynthia McKinney (see below for a complete list of passengers). The
passengers and crew are being forcibly dragged toward Israel.

"This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our
boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission
to the Gaza Strip," said Cynthia McKinney, a former U.S. Congresswoman
and presidential candidate. "President Obama just told Israel to let
in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and that's exactly what
we tried to do. We're asking the international community to demand our
release so we can resume our journey."

According to an International Committee of the Red Cross report
released yesterday, the Palestinians living in Gaza are "trapped in
despair." Thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed earlier
during Israel's December/January massacre are still without shelter
despite pledges of almost $4.5 billion in aid, because Israel refuses
to allow cement and other building material into the Gaza Strip. The
report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of
their patients due to Israel's disruption of medical supplies.

"The aid we were carrying is a symbol of hope for the people of Gaza,
hope that the sea route would open for them, and they would be able to
transport their own materials to begin to reconstruct the schools,
hospitals and thousands of homes destroyed during the onslaught of
"Cast Lead". Our mission is a gesture to the people of Gaza that we
stand by them and that they are not alone" said fellow passenger
Mairead Maguire, winner of a Noble Peace Prize for her work in
Northern Ireland.

Just before being kidnapped by Israel, Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza
Movement chairperson and delegation co-coordinator on this voyage,
stated that: "No one could possibly believe that our small boat
constitutes any sort of threat to Israel. We carry medical and
reconstruction supplies, and children's toys. Our passengers include a
Nobel peace prize laureate and a former U.S. congressperson. Our boat
was searched and received a security clearance by Cypriot Port
Authorities before we departed, and at no time did we ever approach
Israeli waters."

Arraf continued, "Israel's deliberate and premeditated attack on our
unarmed boat is a clear violation of international law and we demand
our immediate and unconditional release."
###
WHAT YOU CAN DO!

CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Justice
tel: +972 2646 6666 or +972 2646 6340
fax: +972 2646 6357

CONTACT the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
tel: +972 2530 3111
fax: +972 2530 3367

CONTACT Mark Regev in the Prime Minister's office at:
tel: +972 5 0620 3264 or +972 2670 5354
mark.regev@it.pmo.gov.il This e-mail address is being protected from
spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

CONTACT the International Committee of the Red Cross to ask for their
assistance in establishing the wellbeing of the kidnapped human rights
workers and help in securing their immediate release!

Red Cross Israel
tel: +972 3524 5286
fax: +972 3527 0370
tel_aviv.tel@icrc.org
Red Cross Switzerland:
tel: +41 22 730 3443
fax: +41 22 734 8280

Red Cross USA:
tel: +1 212 599 6021
fax: +1 212 599 6009
###

Kidnapped Passengers from the Spirit of Humanity include:

Khalad Abdelkader, Bahrain
Khalad is an engineer representing the Islamic Charitable Association
of Bahrain.

Othman Abufalah, Jordan
Othman is a world-renowned journalist with al-Jazeera TV.

Khaled Al-Shenoo, Bahrain
Khaled is a lecturer with the University of Bahrain.

Mansour Al-Abi, Yemen
Mansour is a cameraman with Al-Jazeera TV.

Fatima Al-Attawi, Bahrain
Fatima is a relief worker and community activist from Bahrain.

Juhaina Alqaed, Bahrain
Juhaina is a journalist & human rights activist.

Huwaida Arraf, US
Huwaida is the Chair of the Free Gaza Movement and delegation co-
coordinator for this voyage.

Ishmahil Blagrove, UK
Ishmahil is a Jamaican-born journalist, documentary film maker and
founder of the Rice & Peas film production company. His documentaries
focus on international struggles for social justice.

Kaltham Ghloom, Bahrain
Kaltham is a community activist.

Derek Graham, Ireland
Derek Graham is an electrician, Free Gaza organizer, and first mate
aboard the Spirit of Humanity.

Alex Harrison, UK
Alex is a solidarity worker from Britain. She is traveling to Gaza to
do long-term human rights monitoring.

Denis Healey, UK
Denis is Captain of the Spirit of Humanity. This will be his fifth
voyage to Gaza.

Fathi Jaouadi, UK
Fathi is a British journalist, Free Gaza organizer, and delegation co-
coordinator for this voyage.

Mairead Maguire, Ireland
Mairead is a Nobel laureate and renowned peace activist.

Lubna Masarwa, Palestine/Israel
Lubna is a Palestinian human rights activist and Free Gaza organizer.

Theresa McDermott, Scotland
Theresa is a solidarity worker from Scotland. She is traveling to Gaza
to do long-term human rights monitoring.

Cynthia McKinney, US
Cynthia McKinney is an outspoken advocate for human rights and social
justice issues, as well as a former U.S. congressperson and
presidential candidate.

Adnan Mormesh, UK
Adnan is a solidarity worker from Britain. He is traveling to Gaza to
do long-term human rights monitoring.

Adam Qvist, Denmark
Adam is a solidarity worker from Denmark. He is traveling to Gaza to
do human rights monitoring.

Adam Shapiro, US
Adam is an American documentary film maker and human rights activist.

Kathy Sheetz, US
Kathy is a nurse and film maker, traveling to Gaza to do human rights
monitoring.

--~--~---------~--~----~------------~-------~--~----~
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led
non-violent resistance movement committed to ending Israel's illegal
occupation of Palestinian land. We call for full compliance with all
relevant UN resolutions and international law.

For specific media inquires such as interview requests, photo usage,
etc. please email the ISM Media Office at media@palsolidarity.org

David Guyatt
06-30-2009, 04:49 PM
Talk about piracy on the high seas.

I may be wrong, but I can't really see that Israel would've jumped upon McKinney without a nod and a wink from someone in the Obama Administration.

Peter Presland
06-30-2009, 06:07 PM
Talk about piracy on the high seas.

I may be wrong, but I can't really see that Israel would've jumped upon McKinney without a nod and a wink from someone in the Obama Administration.

Piracy it most certainly is. Not sure about the nod-wink from Obama though - Not that I am any apologist for him you'll understand. It's just that the Israelis have long since learned the boundaries of their behaviour - such as they are (ie for most practical purposes non-existent). They are very much akin to thug policemen who know they will be given the benefit of any doubt when injuries or deaths result from their behaviour. They therefore feel free to beat the shit out of people (or shoot them dead) then obfuscate and whine about how difficult their lot is.

McKinney was on the last boat (The Dignity) that attempted this a couple of months ago. That was rammed in the middle of the night by the Israelis. Taking on water and no longer sea-worthy, it put into Tyre for temporary repairs before returning to Cyprus where it sank. There's an account of it from the retired English surgeon David Halpin who was also on board here. (http://dhalpin.infoaction.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=70&Itemid=2)

So long as Israel suffers no consequences for this sort of thing, they will just keep right on doing it. Simple as that; and the prospect of consequences serious enough to give them pause right now appear slim to non-existent from where I'm sitting

Don't forget the USS Liberty incident either (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Liberty_incident). A long time ago but still a good illustration of what Israel is capable of when they feel that way inclined.

Peter Lemkin
06-30-2009, 06:38 PM
Talk about piracy on the high seas.

I may be wrong, but I can't really see that Israel would've jumped upon McKinney without a nod and a wink from someone in the Obama Administration.

I certainly hope Israel pays dearly for this action!...in condemnation worldwide!.....but they seem immune to what others think. If Obama won't call them on this one, I give up 100% [from the 98% I've already given-up] on his Administration and Presidency....:banghead:

Mark Stapleton
07-01-2009, 01:18 AM
Talk about piracy on the high seas.

I may be wrong, but I can't really see that Israel would've jumped upon McKinney without a nod and a wink from someone in the Obama Administration.

I don't think Israel even bothers about a nod or wink. They have proven they are a law unto themselves.

For decades Israel has been allowed to behave like a spoiled brat nation so it's going to be tough persuading them to behave responsibly now. They've never had to do this before. The US has provided unconditional funding, the media has ignored Israel's past indiscretions and the US has obligingly vetoed UN resolutions critical of Israel for years. Other suckhole nations like Britain and Australia have played their part in creating this monster by following the script and excusing Israel's many war crimes by blaming it all on acts of terror by Israel's enemies.

But Israel is mostly a result of US foreign policy. The US must take prime responsibility for the fucked up situation which now exists. Obama must do the right thing by the rest of humanity and pull them into line pronto, otherwise he's just another chicken shit coward.

David Guyatt
07-01-2009, 08:35 AM
To the extent that all nation states will do things which they consider to be in their national interest - but not necessarily in the interests of their allies - I agree with you both about Israel. But this only extends so far, I believe.

Israel is a client state of the US and depends entirely upon it financially and militarily. If the US were deadly serious about hindering a course of action Israel were taking, or planning to take, Israel would abandon that course of action or face the financial consequences and the likelihood of the weapons and intelligence tap being turned off. Of course, an independent sovereign state may still choose to proceed even with such threats hanging over them because it is felt that to do otherwise would be a greater jeopardy to their survival.

The point I am poorly labouring here, is the need always to focus on who is the true master and who is the servant. For me the US is the master. Whether this be with the presidents knowledge and blessing, or not, or with a nod and a wink at an intelligence level or with the Pentagon’s or State Departments blessing is arguable.

In regard to the USS Liberty incident, I was told years ago that there was more going on than met the eye. There was a US submersible (not submarine) in the area that recorded the attacks. US bombers carrying nuclear weapons were dispatched in a counter-strike - but were, thankfully, recalled at the last moment. A senior officer in the Pentagon stated “we were wearing brown underwear” for awhile.

http://www.deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1645&page=5

Post 47


Only weeks after the September 11, 2001, attacks, Charles Krauthammer, the Washington Post columnist and mouthpiece of the neoconservatives, revealed the target list of the Bush administration as it set out on its post-9/11 war footing. The list included six nations: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, and the Palestinian Authority. While the priority allotted to Afghanistan and subsequently Iraq was not in dispute, the remaining order was in flux.

Israel was given a free hand in dealing with the Palestinian Authority (PA). President George W. Bush completely shunned and isolated PA President Yasser Arafat, until he died under siege in November 2004. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was allowed to use brutal military tactics to crush the Al-Aqsa intifada, reoccupying much of the West Bank, and setting up hundreds of military checkpoints devastating Palestinian life and what remained of the PA.

From the foregoing it is apparent that it is the US who wields the power and Israel who tugs its forelock in obedience, even if that obedience is often grudging, sometimes petulant and in extraordinary cases withdrawn altogether.

Peter Presland
07-01-2009, 10:54 AM
I don't think there's anything substantive between us on this David.

I guess the point I was trying to make was that, with the distribution of Dual US/Israeli citizens among the top people and 'advisors' in the US Executive - not to mention hard-line Zionist support in congress, the MSM etc - the need for a 'nod and wink' from the President himself is somewhat diminished. As things stand, at most a brief exchange between Lieberman (The Israeli one that is :rolleyes:) and Rahm Emanuel would probably suffice for pretty much anything short of another invasion.

Mark Stapleton
07-02-2009, 01:42 AM
To the extent that all nation states will do things which they consider to be in their national interest - but not necessarily in the interests of their allies - I agree with you both about Israel. But this only extends so far, I believe.

Israel is a client state of the US and depends entirely upon it financially and militarily. If the US were deadly serious about hindering a course of action Israel were taking, or planning to take, Israel would abandon that course of action or face the financial consequences and the likelihood of the weapons and intelligence tap being turned off. Of course, an independent sovereign state may still choose to proceed even with such threats hanging over them because it is felt that to do otherwise would be a greater jeopardy to their survival.

The point I am poorly labouring here, is the need always to focus on who is the true master and who is the servant. For me the US is the master. Whether this be with the presidents knowledge and blessing, or not, or with a nod and a wink at an intelligence level or with the Pentagon’s or State Departments blessing is arguable.

In regard to the USS Liberty incident, I was told years ago that there was more going on than met the eye. There was a US submersible (not submarine) in the area that recorded the attacks. US bombers carrying nuclear weapons were dispatched in a counter-strike - but were, thankfully, recalled at the last moment. A senior officer in the Pentagon stated “we were wearing brown underwear” for awhile.

http://www.deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1645&page=5

Post 47


Only weeks after the September 11, 2001, attacks, Charles Krauthammer, the Washington Post columnist and mouthpiece of the neoconservatives, revealed the target list of the Bush administration as it set out on its post-9/11 war footing. The list included six nations: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, and the Palestinian Authority. While the priority allotted to Afghanistan and subsequently Iraq was not in dispute, the remaining order was in flux.

Israel was given a free hand in dealing with the Palestinian Authority (PA). President George W. Bush completely shunned and isolated PA President Yasser Arafat, until he died under siege in November 2004. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was allowed to use brutal military tactics to crush the Al-Aqsa intifada, reoccupying much of the West Bank, and setting up hundreds of military checkpoints devastating Palestinian life and what remained of the PA.

From the foregoing it is apparent that it is the US who wields the power and Israel who tugs its forelock in obedience, even if that obedience is often grudging, sometimes petulant and in extraordinary cases withdrawn altogether.


David, I agree with you that the US has the power, in fact is the only country with the power to curb Israel's bellicosity but I think you're forgetting how difficult it has now become to achieve this.

Meirsheimer and Walt's book on the Israel lobby argues that the lobby has control over US foreign policy. Many agree with the analysis. Former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert boasted that he forced the US to abstain from voting on UN Resolution 1860, which dealt with Israel's invasion of Gaza. The US Congress is stacked with Israel supporters. Politicians live in fear of offending the lobby and jeopardizing the all important funding from Jewish groups, who expect full value for their money. Worse still, they fear the wrath of the media, those unflinching accomplices to Israel's crimes, because they know the media can destroy their careers in short order.

In fact the Israel Lobby's influence extends far beyond the US, as the long line of subservient national leaders proves; Blair, Merkel, Harper, Howard et al. Watching John Howard's performances during the 2006 attack on Lebanon was quite amazing. When asked by repoters about the attack, Howard was almost hysterical in his defence of Israel, placing all the blame on "terrorists".

I'm afraid Israel tugs its forelock to no-one. They have a long history of assassinations to their credit, from UN envoys to Hamas leaders. They launch attacks on their neighbours with impunity, regularly killing civilians. Golda Mier once stated that the Palestinians don't exist. Gaza has become a concentration camp. Israel has no declared borders and leaders as far back as Ben-Gurion have expressed their desire for the realisation of Greater Israel --from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. War, killing, conquest and occupation have become part of their national identity.

It's probably a bit tough to expect Obama to clean up the mess from decades of neglect and poor leadership from his predecessors, but he's duty bound to start the process despite the grave political risks.

Mark Stapleton
07-03-2009, 10:36 PM
http://freegaza.org/en/home/56-news/984-a-message-from-cynthia-from-a-cell-block-in-israel

A message from Cynthia McKinney, who is still being held in detention by the IDF. I thought aspiring filmmaker John Geraghty might make a comment, since he worked with Ms. McKinney.

Silence isn't always golden.

Magda Hassan
07-03-2009, 11:32 PM
http://informationclearinghouse.info/article22970.htm

JUAN GONZALEZ: We begin today with the latest news of the ship that was seized by the Israeli military Tuesday as it tried to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. Israeli forces boarded the ship and towed it to the Israeli port of Ashdod. The twenty-one activists on board include former Congress member and presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney and the Irish peace activist and Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire. Huwaida Arraf and Lubna Masarwa were released, while the other nineteen remain in detention. AMY GOODMAN: Huwaida Arraf is the founder of the Free Gaza movement. She joins us now on the phone from Israel. Huwaida, welcome to Democracy Now! Explain why you took this boat trying to get to Gaza and then what happened to you on board. HUWAIDA ARRAF: [inaudible] Hello to you all. The purpose of our mission was to highlight to the international community that what Israel is doing to Gaza is blatantly illegal, and our government isn’t doing anything about it. Israel constantly claims that their policies are based on security, but what they’re doing—imposing collective punishment on an entire civilian population. We were carrying on our very, very small boat some medical aid, some rebuilding supplies, because after the January—December-January assault on Gaza, thousands of homes have been destroyed, tens of hospitals and schools all demolished. And, you know, the donor community supposedly pledged [inaudible] Gaza, but no one is saying anything. Not one country is saying anything about the fact [inaudible] the entire Gaza Strip, and not one bag of cement [inaudible]— AMY GOODMAN: Huwaida, we’re going to interrupt for a minute, because, Juan, it sounds like we have someone else from a jail cell in Israel. JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes, it sounds like we have Mairead Maguire, the Nobel Prize winner, on the phone from her jail cell. Welcome to Democracy Now! MAIREAD MAGUIRE: Thank you very much, indeed. Thank you. JUAN GONZALEZ: Could you tell us what is going on right now with you and the others who are being detained? MAIREAD MAGUIRE: Yes. We have just been locked into our cells now for a couple of hours. We are currently going through their process. We are being charged with entering illegally into Israeli—near Israeli shores. We are going, it looks like, to be deported from Israel. We did not choose to come to Israel. Our little boat was boarded by the navy combat soldiers, and they came in in full riot gear onto our boat when we were just twenty-five miles off the shore of Gaza. We were under gunpoint, forcibly taken to Ashdod, held in the detention center overnight. And then I was removed from Ashdod detention center, handcuffed in a military vehicle, and brought here to the prison, where we’re currently being held. All of us, all nineteen—there were twenty-one, but Huwaida and Lubna are out—but the rest of us are being held here in detention in this prison. AMY GOODMAN: What is your response, Mairead Maguire, to Mark Regev, the Israeli spokesperson, who said aid is free to pass into Gaza? MAIREAD MAGUIRE: No, that is wrong. I mean, we know it is not free. I mean, Gaza is like a huge prison, but—because its borders are closed. The sea pass into Gaza, which has been closed for over forty years by the Israeli government—we are only the seventh ship to get in to the port of Gaza that tried to break the siege. And as we do that, it’s very interesting, we pass the gas fields of Gaza. You know, Gaza has huge gas deposits, which Israel is now beginning to use. So it’s very important that there is the issue of who owns the gas in the Gazan Strip. And also farmers—fishermen, who try to go out without—in about twelve miles to fish for their families, are shot up and have been killed by the Israeli navy in that area. So, Gaza is a huge occupied territory of one-and-a-half million people who have been subjected to collective punishment by the Israeli government. That breaks the Geneva Convention, every international law in the book. And the tragedy is that the American government, the UN and Europe, they remain silent in the face of the abuse of Palestinian human rights, like the freedom, and it’s really tragic. And it is also tragic that out of ten million Palestinians of a population, almost seven million are currently refugees out in other countries or displaced within their own country, particularly after the horrific massacre by Israeli jet fighters after just earlier this year. Twenty-two days Israel bombarded Gaza, Gazan people, civilians. And we’re not sure what kind of weapons were dropped. We need the scientists. We need people to go in to see: is it depleted uranium in the very soil of the Gazan fields now? Unfortunately, Israel does not want human rights activists in there to see what they’ve done and what they’re doing. Even the representative of [inaudible]— JUAN GONZALEZ: Mairead Maguire— MAIREAD MAGUIRE: —is not allowed in. JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Mairead Maguire, I’d like to ask you, to your knowledge, has your government or the government of the United States, in the case of Cynthia McKinney or some of the others, attempted to visit with the detainees or to lodge protest with the Israeli government? MAIREAD MAGUIRE: Yes, we have had [inaudible] our consulates in the different governments come here to see us. And we are concerned about the five people who came from Bahrain, and—because they don’t have—their government doesn’t have the same links with Israel, and we are concerned for their safety. We have asked that all those who were—who were hijacked—we were hijacked on the seas of Gaza—that they be all given freedom and their goods returned, because we have got to look out for each other. AMY GOODMAN: Mairead Maguire, what will happen now? And we understand that some people were injured. MAIREAD MAGUIRE: Yes, indeed. I mean, when as were the combat troops in masks and fully armed came on board our small boat, some people were injured. And even during—that happened during the day. But our life was put at risk even more, because the previous night, during the night, when we were in international waters, we were—a couple of Israeli naval ships came up around us. Over the radio, they told us if we did not turn back into Cyprus, they would shoot at our boat. They cut off our communications, including our satellite communications. So we were in grave danger of actually being killed at that point. The second thing was, when actually the navy combat forces came on board our boat, they wouldn’t allow the captain to take the boat to Ashdod; instead, they took over. And, you know, I really thought that we were all going to drown, because when we got near, when we were sailing to Ashdod, there was heavy winds, there was water coming in, and it was—really we were in a very, very dangerous position. So we were literally hijacked, taken at gunpoint by the Israeli military. And now we are here in prison, and they are threatening to deport us. We were brought here against our will. We didn’t come here by choice, and we are not here by choice. AMY GOODMAN: Mairead Maguire, what jail cell are—what jail are you in now? MAIREAD MAGUIRE: We’re in Giv’on Prison, and we’re—the women here are on one side, and the men are on the other side. AMY GOODMAN: Mairead Maguire, I want to thank you for being with us, Irish peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, speaking to us from her jail cell, redefining the cell phone. Huwaida Arraf before her, founder of the Free Gaza movement. Mairead is one of nineteen people who remain in jail. Huwaida just got out.

Mark Stapleton
07-04-2009, 04:42 AM
The silence from the mainstream media about this story is deafening, especially since a former US Congresswoman is being detained in Israel.

What filthy scum the mainstream media are.

Magda Hassan
07-04-2009, 05:04 AM
What can I say Mark? I totally agree with you. Do we ever expect them to act in anyone's interest except those that own them on any issue? Look at the MSM media on Honduras. The Kerry Packer of Honduras says that there has been no coup for god sake?! They live on another planet.
This may make you feel a bit better. At least there is resistance and some progress.

DESPERATELY NEEDED: Jews Confront Zionism
BY TOM RIGBERT ? JUNE 28, 2009

BREAKTHROUGH ON A CRITICAL FRONT: JEWS CONFRONT ZIONISM

Prominent rich American Jews like NYC’s mayor Bloomberg, or the scions to the Seagram’s fortune (the Bronfmans), constitute a tiny percentage of Jewish opinion, but it’s the only one receiving constant and ubiquitous attention throughout the corporate media (which many of them own outright, too, as is the case with Murdoch’s News Corp; Suzlberger’s New York Times; or Sumner Redstone’s Viacom/CBS, previously owned by another Jewish media baron, Bill Paley.)

JEWISH DETERMINED, OFTEN HEROIC, OPPOSITION TO ZIONISM, HAS BEEN one of the casualties in the propaganda wars surrounding all reporting about Israel and the Middle East in general. A large number of rightwing sects, Nazis, and professional anti-semites have had a field day exploiting this truth vacuum, so it’s welcome news to see Jewish voices finally breaking through. Their value on the Palestinian issue cannot be overestimated.

Dateline: Monthly Review // June 2009 http://monthlyreview.org/090622lang.php (http://monthlyreview.org/090622lang.php)

Daniel Lange-Levitsky


One of the main accomplishments of the Israeli government’s bombing and invasion of the Gaza Strip last winter was to inspire new vitality within leftist and peace groups in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for justice and liberation. This wave of activity has continued after the supposed ceasefire, with demonstrations and direct actions from New York to Los Angeles, Paris, Jaffa, and Tel Aviv. Most noteworthy has been a coming out of sorts of an increasingly large and vocal segment of the Jewish world that is not only opposed to the Israeli government’s wars and military occupations, but critical of Zionism itself.

Blockades of the Israeli consulates in Los Angeles and San Francisco were undertaken in part by members of the recently launched International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. The occupation of the Toronto consulate was carried out by Jewish Women for Gaza, including members of the Canadian anti-Zionist Not In Our Name network. A seven-hundred-person demonstration in New York City was organized by Jews Say No, an ad hoc group of Jewish activists, many of them longstanding critics of Zionism. The London diasporist group Jewdas used a hoax e-mail to cancel a pro-war rally called by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and received a flood of support. And the Israeli antinationalist direct action group, Anarchists Against the Wall, blockaded an Israeli Air Force base in Tel Aviv. Almost all of the most visible public events showing Jewish opposition to the latest escalation in the war on Gaza were organized and carried out largely by non- and anti-Zionist Jews (as well as those who oppose Zionism but prefer not to define their politics in relation to it).

Where Jewish influence is significant — in the lobbying efforts of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, for instance — it is the influence of a small number of wealthy, right-wing individuals whose politics in no way reflect U.S. Jewish public opinion, even as it is reflected in data collected by conservative pollsters.
This is no coincidence. The eight years of the current intifada have also seen the growth of the global Palestine solidarity movement and its current boycott/divestment/sanctions strategy. At the same time Jewish criticism of Zionism has grown more widespread and vocal than at any time since Israel’s founding in 1948, despite the unqualified backing the U.S. government has offered Israel since 1967. That support has been explained by Israel’s advocates and defenders, as well as by Washington, as the result of the overwhelming support of U.S. Jewish communities for Israel. This is, of course, patently untrue. As many analysts have pointed out — most recently Mearsheimer and Walt in their much-attacked The Israel Lobby & U.S. Foreign Policy — U.S. Jewish communities play a rather marginal role in fostering U.S. government support for Israel. Far more significant are the arms industry, which U.S. aid to Israel subsidizes; the oil industry, which sees Israel as a balance to the regional power of oil-rich Arab states; the Christian right, which believes Jewish rule over all of biblical Israel is a prerequisite for the Second Coming; and anti-Arab/anti-Muslim racism and xenophobia, particularly after the September 11, 2001, attacks and the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Where Jewish influence is significant — in the lobbying efforts of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, for instance — it is the influence of a small number of wealthy, right-wing individuals whose politics in no way reflect U.S. Jewish public opinion, even as it is reflected in data collected by conservative pollsters.

The rhetoric of U.S. support for Israel as a response to U.S. Jewish interests and desires has, however, become less and less convincing over time. The recent rise to visibility of Jewish critiques of Zionism has taken place in a context of rising expression and acceptance of criticism of Israel within U.S. Jewish communities. It’s very hard to gauge this in a definitive way, but stories like the following, all of which I’ve heard since the beginning of the most recent Israeli attacks on Gaza, have not been common at any earlier time during the decade I’ve spent working intensively in the Jewish side of the Palestinian solidarity movement:

The child of an educator at a Jewish private school refuses to join their family and school at a pro-war rally.

A rabbi’s wife resigns from all congregational activity after an event on nonviolence — unrelated to Palestine or Israel — is canceled by the synagogue’s board.


A Hillel officer at Columbia University publishes an essay on the contradiction between her desire to appear legitimately progressive and her job “selling” “under duress” (her words) the Birthright Israel program.

One indication of the extent of these critiques is a poll commissioned by J Street, the allegedly liberal Zionist lobby group, which finds U.S. Jews — even with a disproportionately old, wealthy, and religiously affiliated sample — strongly opposed to collective punishment and settlements, hostile to the Israeli electoral right wing, and supportive of a Fatah-Hamas unity government as a “partner for peace.”


This context of comparative openness to criticism of Israel is in large part the result of years of organizing, agitation, and education by groups and networks like Jews Against the Occupation/NYC, Jewish Voices for Peace (nationwide), Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel (Washington, DC), Jews for a Free Palestine (Bay Area), and No Time to Celebrate (nationwide), all of which have broken with the orthodoxy of the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” position to focus on justice for Palestinians. The Zionist “pro-peace” groups, like Meretz USA, Americans for Peace Now, Tikkun, the Shalom Center, and Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, have been active primarily on paper since 2000 or as conveners of conferences with high registration fees. The “pro-justice” groups, by contrast, have been able to maintain a growing presence on the street and in the media over the nine years of the current intifada. Their structural critiques of Israeli government actions and the Zionist project have opened up space for these moderate criticisms to be spoken openly, as they were not five or ten years ago.


So why now? Why have these more “radical” voices come to the fore so strongly this winter? I believe it is because of shifts in the Palestine solidarity movement as well as in the larger political landscape of the left, and changes in Jewish thinking around identity and politics.

One source is a set of developments within the Palestine solidarity movement which have pushed the movement as a whole toward a structural analysis centered on Zionism. The outbreak of the 2000 intifada sparked a much wider awareness on the left (and beyond) of both the 1967 Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem and the realities of the Israeli government’s war on Palestinians. A closer examination of the Oslo Accords and their role as cover for further land theft and as a means of co-optation of parts of the Palestinian leadership soon led to a shift of emphasis within the movement away from a return to the status quo of 1999. Increasing familiarity with the day-to-day experience of Palestinians (under occupation, inside Israel’s 1948 boundaries, and in the diaspora) showed organizers how many elements of the present situation were directly connected, not to the war of 1967, but to that of 1948 (for example, a majority of Palestinians, including a majority of those in the Occupied Territories, are refugees from the Nakba, “catastrophe,” as the 1947-48 ethnic cleansing of Palestine is known in Arabic), or to the pre-state Zionist colonization effort (for example, the role of the Keren Kayemet L’Israel/Jewish National Fund as an agent of displacement and land theft).

As a result, by the end of 2008, a significant part of the solidarity movement began to focus its attention on Zionism as such, and shape its strategy accordingly. This has taken the form of support for Palestinian civil society’s call for a combined boycott/divestment/sanctions strategy, and in a reconsideration (and often rejection) of the partition (“two-state”) model for a long-term solution. These shifts have involved the Jewish participants in Palestine solidarity work no less than anyone else, and have in some cases been driven or supported by their analyses of Zionism as a colonial movement (for a recent example, see Nava EtShalom and Matthew N. Lyons’s 2008 essay “‘Bring on the bulldozers and let’s plant trees’: The Problems of Labor Zionism.”

Another key element in the newly visible surge in Jewish critiques of Zionism, though one that’s rarely remarked on in the liberal or progressive press, is the pivotal role that feminist and queer movements and their analyses have played in its development. This influence is most obvious in the prominence in Jewish (and non-Jewish) Palestine solidarity organizing of groups like Women in Black; Kvisa Shchora (an Israeli queer radical group, known for their eye-catching “No Pride in the Occupation” actions); New Profile (the feminist organization largely responsible for the visibility and growth of the high school conscription resistance movement in Israel); Aswat: Palestinian Gay Women; and the International Women’s Peace Service’s accompaniment project in the West Bank. All of these projects bring to the movement an orientation toward structural analysis, a core antinationalist and antimilitarist position, and an eye to the ways that racial, economic, national, gendered, and sexual structures of power intersect and often support each other. Their sophisticated examinations of Israeli nationalism and Zionism have had an influence beyond their direct contact with other organizations.

Perhaps even more pervasive, however, is the presence of Palestine solidarity organizers in the U.S. Jewish sphere with backgrounds in feminist and queer movements. Veterans of ACT UP, the Lesbian Avengers, riot grrrl, Gay Shame, Fed Up Queers, and a myriad of local reproductive rights campaigns (not to mention specifically Jewish feminist and lesbian projects like Di Vilde Chayes and the Jewish Women’s Committee to End the Occupation) and other specifically Jewish feminist and lesbian projects) play key roles setting the tone and political direction of Jewish Palestine solidarity groups including Jews Say No, Jews Against the Occupation/NYC, and Jewish Voices for Peace. The actions mentioned at the beginning of this article show that influence: office occupations, blockades, hoaxes — all part of the repertoire refined by ACT UP, the Women’s Action Coalition (WAC), Women’s Health Action & Mobilization (WHAM!), and the Lesbian Avengers during the Oslo years. This legacy is also a key source of the willingness of these groups to challenge Zionism directly rather than limiting their critiques of Israel to specific policies and actions. These same organizers are often also involved in Palestine solidarity work that’s not specifically Jewish (Adalah-NY being a particularly notable example because of its wholehearted adoption of ACT UP-descended visibility tactics), further extending the reach of these activist lineages.

This grounding in feminist and queer antinationalism, structural and intersectional analysis, and direct action tactics has been supported by the broad shift among U.S. radicals, especially younger radicals, toward what might be called a new transnationalism, or a transnationalism from below. Beginning to some extent with the campaigns in support of the 1994 Zapatista uprising in Chiapas (though certainly influenced by earlier work in solidarity with revolutionary movements in Spain, Central America, South Africa, and Palestine), radicals in the United States have experimented in many ways to find strategies for carrying on effective international solidarity campaigns. These have varied widely, from the anti-sweatshop efforts of the late 1990s and the summit-targeting mass mobilizations of 1999–2003, to work focusing on Plan Colombia, Plan Puebla-Panama, and other U.S. ventures elsewhere in the Americas. All have shared, I would argue, a general approach which is now clearly visible in the current Palestine solidarity movement, including its Jewish side.

What I’m labeling as a new transnationalism is resolutely anticolonialist and anti-imperialist, ambivalently antinationalist, firmly if often inchoately anticapitalist, generally anti-authoritarian, and in no way organizationally unified. It recognizes the importance of resistance “in the belly of the beast” while affirming self-determination in an array of communities of resistance and the right of liberation struggles to choose the tactics which they find most suitable to that end. If that sounds like a lot of “anti” and not much “pro,” it often is. The best journal to emerge from this part of the radical left so far is the Canadian “journal of theory and action,” Upping the Anti, which provides a much needed space for sustained discussion of revolutionary politics across generations and between movements. The journal chose its name precisely to highlight its mission of moving from these negative positions to a positive strategic vision.

Be that as it may, this shared approach, with all its internal tensions, is deeply inscribed on current Jewish critiques of Zionism as well as the current Palestine solidarity movement more generally. Thus we see a pervasive ambivalence about the value of a Palestinian state (made largely moot by the increasing implausibility of any viable partition plan); a principled refusal to condemn armed self-defense (alongside strong critiques of specific tactics); support for local resistance committees prioritized over attention to the major Palestinian political parties; a clear analysis of Zionism as a colonial project paired with a less coherent take on Arab nationalism; a loose alignment with the Palestinian left and a strong critique of the fiction of “left Zionism,” but no clear vision for a noncapitalist regional economy; and an increasing attention to the parallels between Israeli and U.S. strategies of “security,” “counter-terrorism,” and militarized policing.

Finally, to return to the specifically Jewish sphere, the rise of criticism of Zionism as such is part of a broad shift in Jewish culture and thinking around identity. After over a half-century of Zionist dominance of Jewish education and community institutions, alternative voices are breaking through, in ways that are often unconnected to Palestine but ultimately support Jewish Palestine solidarity efforts. For the past few decades, there has been a steady increase of interest in diasporic Jewish cultures and histories, especially among younger Jews dissatisfied with both the Herzl-and-Hitler view of Jewish life and history presented by “mainstream” Jewish institutions, and the religious fundamentalism that is its main competitor.

This has been most visible in the United States in its Ashkenazi forms: klezmer bands now fill major venues and “Jewish music” has become a profitable and over-marketed sub-genre; the periodic human-interest headline has switched from “Yiddish is Dying!” to “Yiddish Revives!” as interest and class enrollment swells; the flagship yiddishist arts retreat, Living Traditions’ annual KlezKamp, will turn twenty-five in 2009. Other Jewish communities — Sefardi, Arab-Jewish, Beta Yisrael (Ethiopian), African American, etc. — have seen similar assertions of cultural specificity as well, often in opposition to Ashkenazi dominance of putatively all-encompassing Jewish spaces, as, for instance, in the work of Loolwa Khazoom (The Flying Camel [ed.]), Ammiel Alcalay (After Jews and Arabs; Memories of Our Future), Walter Isaac (“Locating Afro-American Judaism”), and Ella Shohat (Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices; Flagging Patriotism).

Along with these cultural shifts, however, has come a new interest in the politics that emerged from these same diasporic communities. Among Ashkenazim, the revolutionary socialist Jewish Workers Union — better known as the Bund — has become a frequent point of reference. In particular, the Bund’s principle of doykayt (here-ness), combining Jewish cultural specificity and inter-ethnic solidarity based on shared class interests — has given definition to the locally focused efforts of Jewish social justice organizations across the country, from Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (in New York) to the Progressive Jewish Alliance (in Los Angeles). Despite the direct link between doykayt and the Bund’s ardent anti-Zionism, however, even the more politicized among the people and organizations involved in this renewed engagement with the diaspora have in general actively refused to engage with the question of Zionism, presented an indistinct “pro-peace” position, or asserted an “art not politics” stance. There have been notable exceptions — from Sefardi and Arab-Jewish viewpoints, Alcalay and Shohat (most strongly in “Sephardim in Israel: Zionism from the Standpoint of Its Jewish Victims”), and from Ashkenazi or Yiddishist perspectives, the poet, activist, and essayist Irena Klepfisz (Dreams of an Insomniac and A Few Words in the Mother Tongue), and the historian of religion and culture, Daniel Boyarin (Unheroic Conduct, Dying for God, and Border Lines).

Nonetheless, these increasingly articulate presentations of the value of diasporic Jewish culture soon come into conflict with many aspects of Zionism. And, in the end, they run directly counter to Zionism as a whole: the project of placing the state of Israel at the center of Jewish life depends on devaluing and erasing diasporic cultures and histories, reducing two millennia of Jewish life to a lacuna punctuated only by mass murder and redemptive nationalism. As central to the Zionist movement as Jewish control over the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is the imperative of shlilat hagalut (negation or liquidation of the diaspora), which holds that “degenerate” diasporic Jewish cultures should be eliminated in all but the most token bagels-and-Seinfeld forms and replaced by a new, militarized, and nationalist Hebrew culture. As a result, participants in what Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz has termed “radical diasporism” (in her 2007 The Colors of Jews: Racial Politics and Radical Diasporism) are increasingly seeing themselves in opposition to Zionism, standing in solidarity with Palestinians on the basis of a shared enemy as well as in the interest of justice.

“Radical diasporism,” articulated as such, is far from widespread, though its influence can be seen widely in the cultural sphere. Among musicians alone, it is front and center in much of the work of artists as varied as Montréal’s neo-klezmer Black Ox Orkestar, whose haunting “Ver Tanzt” deals directly with the Occupation in its Yiddish lyrics; Berlin-based Dan Kahn, whose “post-dialectic cabaret” tunes “Dumay” and “Nakam (6,000,000 Germans)” both confront the Zionist project from a historical perspective; Detroit hip-hop m.c. Invincible (“Emperor’s Clothes”); New York queer rockers the Shondes (“I Watched the Temple Fall”); Bay Area vocalist and composer Jewlia Eisenberg; and riot grrrl punk legend Nomy Lamm.

The cultural dynamic radical diasporism expresses, however, is pervasive. The ardently Zionist Bronfman Philanthropies’ 2007 report “Beyond Distancing” gives evidence of just how much so. The Bronfman survey looked past majorities that identified themselves as “pro-Israel” and denied the existence of the Occupation, to find young U.S. Jews, regardless of their political opinions, to be less attached to Israel than their elders (with barely 20 percent “highly attached”) and more likely to be actively “alienated” from the Jewish state (11 percent among “left-leaning” respondents under thirty-five, and a surprising 21 percent among the “right-leaning,” evening out somewhat at 19 to 26 percent among those under forty-nine). Perhaps most tellingly, they could not find a majority of respondents under thirty-five who would claim that the destruction of the Israeli state “would be a personal tragedy.” This “distancing,” it seems to me, is in part a result of diasporist cultural work, and certainly a significant element in the story of the current rise to visibility of Jewish opposition to Zionism.

Jewish critiques of Zionism — and Jewish participation in the Palestine solidarity movement more generally — are significant beyond the bounds of Jewish communities themselves chiefly in the United States, and mainly because of the privileges given to Jewish voices in the discussion of Palestine and Israel here. Still, as Esther Kaplan wrote in her essay “Globalize the Intifada” (in Alisa Solomon & Tony Kushner’s Wrestling with Zion), Jews in the United States and beyond have a role to play in the struggle for Palestinian liberation, and in some cases occupy a strategic position, but are in no way at its center. For Jews, as for everyone engaged in that struggle, the task is to work with our Palestinian, Arab, and other friends and comrades to move from our shared opposition to Zionism into strategies of resistance that can, in the end, free Palestine.

http://monthlyreview.org/090622lang.php (http://monthlyreview.org/090622lang.php)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Lang-Levitsky is a puppeteer based in New York City. Lang studied creolization and hybrid cultures at Yale, as well as co-founding a movement theater agit-prop troupe; received a puppetry education working with artists from the Bread & Puppet Theater, Great Small Works, Art & Revolution, Shoddy Puppet Company, CTW, &c. Recent puppetry work has appeared in Chapel Hill NC, Philadelphia PA, Glover VT, and in NYC at PS 122, HERE, CBGB´s 313 Gallery, Workmen´s Circle, and ABC No Rio, as well as in dozens of parades, picket lines and demonstrations. Also to be seen as part of the Rude Mechanical Orchestra´s flag & dance squad, and as a core member of the spectacle performance troupe known as the Aftselokhes Ladies´ Auxiliary Home for the Aged. CTW´s Administrator and occasional puppeteer since 2002, most notably in The Birth of Monkey King and Three Women, Many Plays.

Mark Stapleton
07-04-2009, 06:39 AM
It's reassuring to see Jews and disparate groups joining up to protest Zionist expansion, Magda.

But there won't be any real pressure on Tel-Aviv until the debate is allowed to run its course in the Western media. The debate wouldn't last very long because the Zionists have no leg to stand on, which is why the media barons like Murdoch and Redstone and their network of acolytes in the industry refuse to permit the debate to take place.

I hope they all go broke.

Peter Lemkin
07-04-2009, 06:11 PM
This letter was first broadcast on WBAIX on July 3rd.




Letter from an Israeli Jail

By Cynthia McKinney.




This is Cynthia McKinney and I’m speaking from an Israeli prison cellblock in Ramle. [I am one of] the Free Gaza 21, human rights activists currently imprisoned for trying to take medical supplies to Gaza, building supplies - and even crayons for children, I had a suitcase full of crayons for children. While we were on our way to Gaza the Israelis threatened to fire on our boat, but we did not turn around. The Israelis high-jacked and arrested us because we wanted to give crayons to the children in Gaza. We have been detained, and we want the people of the world to see how we have been treated just because we wanted to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.




At the outbreak of Israel’s Operation ‘Cast Lead’ [in December 2008], I boarded a Free Gaza boat with one day’s notice and tried, as the US representative in a multi-national delegation, to deliver 3 tons of medical supplies to an already besieged and ravaged Gaza.




During Operation Cast Lead, U.S.-supplied F-16’s rained hellfire on a trapped people. Ethnic cleansing became full scale outright genocide. U.S.-supplied white phosphorus, depleted uranium, robotic technology, DIME weapons, and cluster bombs - new weapons creating injuries never treated before by Jordanian and Norwegian doctors. I was later told by doctors who were there in Gaza during Israel’s onslaught that Gaza had become Israel’s veritable weapons testing laboratory, people used to test and improve the kill ratio of their weapons.




The world saw Israel’s despicable violence thanks to al-Jazeera Arabic and Press TV that broadcast in English. I saw those broadcasts live and around the clock, not from the USA but from Lebanon, where my first attempt to get into Gaza had ended because the Israeli military rammed the boat I was on in international water ... It’s a miracle that I’m even here to write about my second encounter with the Israeli military, again a humanitarian mission aborted by the Israeli military.




The Israeli authorities have tried to get us to confess that we committed a crime ... I am now known as Israeli prisoner number 88794. How can I be in prison for collecting crayons to kids?




Zionism has surely run out of its last legitimacy if this is what it does to people who believe so deeply in human rights for all that they put their own lives on the line for someone else’s children. Israel is the fullest expression of Zionism, but if Israel fears for its security because Gaza’s children have crayons then not only has Israel lost its last shred of legitimacy, but Israel must be declared a failed state.




I am facing deportation from the state that brought me here at gunpoint after commandeering our boat. I was brought to Israel against my will. I am being held in this prison because I had a dream that Gaza’s children could color & paint, that Gaza’s wounded could be healed, and that Gaza’s bombed-out houses could be rebuilt.




But I’ve learned an interesting thing by being inside this prison. First of all, it’s incredibly black: populated mostly by Ethiopians who also had a dream ... like my cellmates, one who is pregnant. They are all are in their twenties. They thought they were coming to the Holy Land. They had a dream that their lives would be better ... The once proud, never colonized Ethiopia [has been thrown into] the back pocket of the United States, and become a place of torture, rendition, and occupation. Ethiopians must free their country because superpower politics [have] become more important than human rights and self-determination.




My cellmates came to the Holy Land so they could be free from the exigencies of superpower politics. They committed no crime except to have a dream. They came to Israel because they thought that Israel held promise for them. Their journey to Israel through Sudan and Egypt was arduous. I can only imagine what it must have been like for them. And it wasn’t cheap. Many of them represent their family’s best collective efforts for self-fulfilment. They made their way to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. They got their yellow paper of identification. They got their certificate for police protection. They are refugees from tragedy, and they made it to Israel only after they arrived Israel told them “there is no UN in Israel.”


The police here have license to pick them up & suck them into the black hole of a farce for a justice system. These beautiful, industrious and proud women represent the hopes of entire families. The idea of Israel tricked them and the rest of us. In a widely propagandized slick marketing campaign, Israel represented itself as a place of refuge and safety for the world’s first Jews and Christian. I too believed that marketing and failed to look deeper.




The truth is that Israel lied to the world. Israel lied to the families of these young women. Israel lied to the women themselves who are now trapped in Ramle’s detention facility. And what are we to do? One of my cellmates cried today. She has been here for 6 months. As an American, crying with them is not enough. The policy of the United States must be better, and while we watch President Obama give 12.8 trillion dollars to the financial elite of the United States it ought now be clear that hope, change, and ‘yes we can’ were powerfully presented images of dignity and self-fulfilment, individually and nationally, that besieged people everywhere truly believed in.




It was a slick marketing campaign as slickly put to the world and to the voters of America as was Israel’s marketing to the world. It tricked all of us but, more tragically, these young women.




We must cast an informed vote about better candidates seeking to represent us. I have read and re-read Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s letter from a Birmingham jail. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that I too would one day have to do so. It is clear that taxpayers in Europe and the U.S. have a lot to atone for, for what they’ve done to others around the world.




What an irony! My son begins his law school program without me because I am in prison, in my own way trying to do my best, again, for other people’s children. Forgive me, my son. I guess I’m experiencing the harsh reality which is why people need dreams. [But] I’m lucky. I will leave this place. Has Israel become the place where dreams die?




Ask the people of Palestine. Ask the stream of black and Asian men whom I see being processed at Ramle. Ask the women on my cellblock. [Ask yourself:] what are you willing to do?




Let’s change the world together & reclaim what we all need as human beings: Dignity. I appeal to the United Nations to get these women of Ramle, who have done nothing wrong other than to believe in Israel as the guardian of the Holy Land, resettled in safe homes. I appeal to the United State’s Department of State to include the plight of detained UNHCR-certified refugees in the Israel country report in its annual human rights report. I appeal once again to President Obama to go to Gaza: send your special envoy, George Mitchell there, and to engage Hamas as the elected choice of the Palestinian people.




I dedicate this message to those who struggle to achieve a free Palestine, and to the women I’ve met at Ramle. This is Cynthia McKinney, July 2nd 2009, also known as Ramle prisoner number 88794.


---

Cynthia McKinney is a former U.S. Congresswoman, Green Party presidential candidate, and an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice. The first African-American woman to represent the state of Georgia, McKinney served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1993-2003, and from 2005-2007. She was arrested and forcibly abducted to Israel while attempting to take humanitarian are construction supplies to Gaza on June 30th.



For more information, please see go here. (http://www.freegaza.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=66:hope-fleet&layout=blog&Itemid=199)

Magda Hassan
07-05-2009, 07:47 AM
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=31351&Cr=gaza&Cr1=
Independent UN rights expert denounces seizure of aid boat by Israeli forces


2 July 2009 – An independent United Nations human rights expert today denounced (http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/9655C6710437BE8DC12575E7005339A2?opendocument) what he described as “the unlawful naval seizure” by an Israeli gunboat of a ship carrying medicine and reconstruction material for the people of Gaza.
Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, said the Israeli action “implements its cruel blockade of the entire Palestinian population of Gaza.”
It also violates Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits any form of collective punishment directed at an occupied people, he stated.
A news release issued from his office in Geneva says the boat had been inspected in response to Israeli demands before departure by the port authorities in Cyprus to determine whether there were weapons on board. None were found, and Israeli authorities were so informed.
“Nonetheless, the 21 peace activists on the boat were arrested, held in captivity, and have been charged with ‘illegal entry’ to Israel even though they had no intention of going to Israel,” the release states.
Last month a group of UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) called for an end to the two-year blockade on Gaza, which has left the population of 1.5 million almost totally dependent on international aid.
In addition, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly called on Israel to ease its blockade, most recently during a meeting in New York with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the entry of essential goods and services, including materials for reconstruction, spare parts for water and sanitation projects, as well as industrial and agricultural materials remain either restricted or banned outright.
Maxwell Gaylard, the top UN humanitarian official in the occupied Palestinian territory, reported in May that the Gaza conflict – which took place from December last year to this January – had destroyed some 4,000 homes and damaged another 40,000. While donors have pledged billions of dollars for Gaza’s reconstruction, work cannot begin because of the blockade.

Magda Hassan
07-05-2009, 10:01 AM
Israel Pisses on Britain (Again)

by Stuart Littlewood / July 4th, 2009
On Tuesday the Israeli navy, in a blatant act of piracy on the high seas, assaulted the vessel ‘Spirit of Humanity’ and abducted six British nationals who were taking part in a voyage of mercy. The tiny unarmed ship was bringing a humanitarian cargo of medicines, children’s toys and reconstruction materials to the devastated people of Gaza.
Israel’s murderous 22-day offensive last December/January left more than 50,000 homes, 800 industrial properties, 200 schools, 39 mosques and two churches damaged or destroyed. The International Committee of the Red Cross says the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza are “trapped in despair”, unable to rebuild their lives because Israel, having wantonly wrecked their civil society and infrastructure, is blocking efforts to bring in the necessary repair materials. Those on board the Spirit of Humanity were acting in accord with donors’ pledges of $4.5 billion for reconstruction and rehabilitation and US President Obama’s request to Israel to let those supplies pass.
The mercy ship sailed from Larnaca, Cyprus, with a crew of 21 human rights activists, humanitarian workers and journalists from 11 different countries, including Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. In the early hours of Tuesday morning Israeli warships surrounded it and threatened to open fire if the crew didn’t turn back. When they refused to be intimidated, the Israelis jammed their instrumentation and blocked their GPS, radar, and navigation systems, putting all lives at risk.
The ship had been searched and given security clearance by the Port Authorities in Cyprus before sailing, and posed no threat.
Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights, says the seizing of the Spirit of Humanity is unlawful and the continuing blockade of Gaza a crime against humanity. Yes, yes, Mr Falk. But the question as always is, what is your paralytic, useless organization doing about it? Or is hand-wringing all it’s good for?
Many here, including myself, immediately wrote to David Miliband, the British foreign secretary, about the outrage. Two days later I called the Palestine desk at the Foreign Office in London. The person I spoke to sounded uncomfortable having to trot out the same old gobbledigook about “working hard to resolve the problem” and “doing all we can”. He said the six Brits were in Israeli custody and nobody was sure where exactly the incident took place. However, the vessel was fitted with a SPOT GPS tracker, so the system should have a record of their position when attacked.
The real problem, as I suggested, is that Israel dares to kidnap Brits on the high seas and doesn’t fear the consequences – no doubt confident there won’t be any. I was reminded that Israel had issued warnings (and so had the Foreign Office) not to travel in that area. What area? Mustn’t one travel in international waters?
The spokesman assured me that progress was being made. There was “movement” on getting humanitarian supplies into Gaza, but I pointed out that nobody had seen any evidence of Israel conforming with international law and Geneva Conventions. He claimed there was also “movement” on halting settlements on occupied territory, although I observed that the Israelis had just OK’d more illegal building.
I also reminded him about the ramming of the MV Dignity on a similar mission by an Israeli gunboat on 30 December, 53 miles from shore, and how people here were still hopping mad that nothing had been done about it. The vessel, with 16 on board, was badly damaged and had to limp to a safe Lebanese port. As far as I know, there was never an offer of compensation and no demand from London. As usual, somebody else had to pick up the tab for Israel’s unbridled destruction.
The Dignity had a cargo of 3.5 tonnes of medical supplies, the majority donated by the Cyprus government, and a British skipper and a Greek mate. It carried fourteen passengers, one of whom was Cynthia McKinney. There were also two surgeons and a Palestinian physician. A friend of mine was among them and wrote this chilling account of the attack…

At 04.55 hrs EMT on 30 December, searchlights appeared astern. There were two Israeli gunboats. They came abreast, circled and stayed with us. These boats can do over 45 knots, carry ten tonnes of fuel and have sophisticated weapon systems including Hellfire missiles. Tracer bullets were fired skywards, forming ellipses, and flares put up. At 05.30 hrs approximately, one gunboat was playing its searchlight on the port side of ‘Dignity’. Suddenly there was a tremendous crash at the bow, and then another almost simultaneously, and another on the port beam… The bow dipped and it seemed the boat was breaking up. It was dark, the wind force was 4 to 5 and there was a 10ft sea. The master shouted ‘we have been rammed’. It was feared the boat would sink. He broadcast a Mayday distress signal; there was no response.
Cynthia McKinney and Caoimhe Butterly could not swim; the life jackets were rapidly deployed to all. The hull was taking water but bilge pumps were working. The first words from a commander of one of the gun boats came over the radio. First there was the accusation that the ship’s company was involved with terrorists and that it was subversive. Then there came the threat to shoot. The master was forbidden from making for Gaza or further south to El Arish in Egypt. He was ordered to return to Larnaca – about 160 miles, even though the boat was badly damaged and the Israeli did not know whether there was sufficient fuel, which there was not. He set a northerly course and the boat stayed buoyant in a moderating sea. A crew member arranged with the Lebanese authorities for a safe harbour in Sour (Tyre) where jubilant crowds thronged the quays. A UNIFIL ship came out to escort us and the Israeli gunboats, which were following, fell back.
Was there lethal intent? A gunboat came out of the black of night with no lights showing whilst a searchlight from the other gun boat displayed our port hull as its target. It would have approached at about 30 degrees to the Dignity’s port and at speed. The intention to sink the Dignity and thus to drown its company was clear. If the hull had been GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic) it would have shattered and the boat would have sunk like a stone 53 nautical miles off Haifa. Fortunately, the hull was constructed of marine ply with timber ribs and survived…. The ship’s company were repatriated except for a resolute Scot, Theresa McDermott. She was imprisoned in Ramleh gaol. When the British Consulate in Israel was contacted for assistance in finding Teresa, staff refused to help locate her saying they couldn’t provide assistance to a UK citizen unless she personally requested it. Teresa was released after six days, her ‘crime’ probably being a member of the International Solidarity Campaign like Rachel Corrie before her.
My written question to Mr Miliband was simply this: “Why isn’t Her Majesty’s Government providing the mercy ship ‘Spirit of Humanity’ with an escort to protect against the unlawful, piratical interference and threat to life by the Israeli navy? There have been repeated incidents of harassment, damage, theft and armed aggression on the high seas or in Palestinian waters by the Israeli regime against unarmed vessels”.
The British government has loudly pledged Royal Navy help to stop the “smuggling” of arms to the Gaza resistance but won’t protect Gaza’s fishermen from being fired on by Israeli marauders while trying to earn their living. And evidently the government can’t be bothered to protect our own people going about their lawful business.
But, sure enough, they kicked up an almighty fuss when Iran nabbed 15 British sailors two years ago for allegedly straying into Iranian waters.
For our sins we are saddled with a foreign secretary who calls for Israeli tank crewman Gilad Shalit’s release but not the release of 11,000 Palestinian civilians – some of them women and children – rotting in Israeli jails. He even allows the British ambassador to become a dogsbody of the Jewish community in this one-sided campaign. On 25 June Miliband said: ‘Today is the third anniversary of the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. Both British Ministers and the British Ambassador in Israel have had repeated contact with Gilad’s family and emphasized our support for Gilad’s immediate release. Last September, the Ambassador helped to deliver over 2,000 Jewish New Year cards for Gilad to the ICRC as part of a campaign organized by the UK Jewish community. I repeat the UK’s call to Hamas for his immediate, unconditional, and safe release. We share the Shalit family’s dismay at Hamas’s refusal to allow the ICRC access to Gilad.
It’s shameful that his dismay doesn’t extend to the 11,000 Palestinian families.
British people are waking up to the truth about Israel’s lawlessness. In the absence of firm action from the British government they are taking reprisals of their own, in the form of boycotts, which has driven Mr Miliband to complain that “the Government is dismayed that motions calling for boycotts of Israel are being discussed at trade union congresses and conferences this summer”. He insists that boycotts “obstruct opportunities for co-operation and dialogue and serve only to polarise debate further. Boycotts would only make it harder to achieve the peace that both Palestinians and Israelis deserve and desire”.
Mr Miliband hasn’t learned the lesson of the last 61 years. And our prime minister-in-waiting, David Cameron (a Zionist and, like Brown and Blair, a patron of the Jewish National Fund), is no different. He says: “I think there’s something else we need to do, which is to say to our academics in this country that boycotts of Israel are completely unacceptable, and I think we also need to say that to the trade unions.”
Nowadays you have to carefully to pick your way through a veritable obstacle-course of pro-Zionists, Chosen Ones and Israeli stooges that inhabit every nook and cranny in the corridors of power and dominate Britain’s key defence bodies. These Israeli flag-wavers seem only too happy for the Israelis to piss on us – and on the rest of the world – while rewarding them with more and more trade and scientific co-operation.

Magda Hassan
07-05-2009, 10:03 AM
The silence from the mainstream media about this story is deafening, especially since a former US Congresswoman is being detained in Israel.

What filthy scum the mainstream media are.
Now, if it had been a former congress person and they had been abducted in international waters off Iran and were presently held in and Iranian jail what do you think the MSM response would be?

Peter Lemkin
07-05-2009, 10:49 AM
The silence from the mainstream media about this story is deafening, especially since a former US Congresswoman is being detained in Israel.

What filthy scum the mainstream media are.
Now, if it had been a former congress person and they had been abducted in international waters off Iran and were presently held in and Iranian jail what do you think the MSM response would be?

Magda, SMcK is Black, Radical and not loved in the 'Beltway' or Langley.....most news reports do not say she is a former Congresswoman, but instead a former legislator...which could mean city councilperson.....I get your point...but with CMcK no one in the mainstream [media or criminal political class] give a flying **** about her. Sadly.


What filthy scum the mainstream media are. Now that is what I call an understatement....

Dawn Meredith
07-05-2009, 02:20 PM
The silence from the mainstream media about this story is deafening, especially since a former US Congresswoman is being detained in Israel.

What filthy scum the mainstream media are.
Now, if it had been a former congress person and they had been abducted in international waters off Iran and were presently held in and Iranian jail what do you think the MSM response would be?


Good point Madga. Also if it was a DIFFERENT former Congress person. Cynthia has been marginalized for a long time.

Peter Lemkin
07-06-2009, 11:29 AM
The silence from the mainstream media about this story is deafening, especially since a former US Congresswoman is being detained in Israel.

What filthy scum the mainstream media are.
Now, if it had been a former congress person and they had been abducted in international waters off Iran and were presently held in and Iranian jail what do you think the MSM response would be?


Good point Madga. Also if it was a DIFFERENT former Congress person. Cynthia has been marginalized for a long time.

McKenny was just released and is flying to NYC now. I'll be very interested to hear what she says and if the MSM even covers it..likely not. Dawn is correct, Cynthia is too progressive to even be heard, seen, mentioned, noted, 'exist'....as are most of us on this Forum....

Magda Hassan
07-06-2009, 12:55 PM
That is good news that she is released. Any word on the others? Have they been released also?

Magda Hassan
07-06-2009, 11:49 PM
The below would indicate that not everyone has been released.It arrived this morning in my in box. Mairead Maguire is being denied her medicine by the Israeli prison authorities.

From the Free Gaza Movement:

'On Tuesday, June 30 the Israeli Navy forcibly boarded our boat, SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, confiscating the ship and abducting 21 human rights workers and journalists, including Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.' Detailed report below.

This is piracy on the high seas. Not a word of protest from Obama on the kidnapping of a US citizen and former Congresswoman.

Now the Israeli prison guards are denying the right for Mairead to access her medicine. This could be life threatening.

Mairead is fasting, not just for her friends incarcerated along with her, but for the 11,000 Palestinians also thrown into jail, many without benefit of trial.

Hear her eloquent interview with Al Jazeera.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v558kjFaYGQ&feature=player_profilepage (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v558kjFaYGQ&feature=player_profilepage)

Please write not only to the Israeli authorities but also to your own governments--local and national. If you know people in the media, make sure that they receive this!

The FGM also needs funds urgently.