May 28, 2010
Number 05/10 #07
This Update has some comment and information on the flotilla of activists reportedly heading for Gaza to “break the siege.” It also has a response by Palestinian-Israeli journalist and recent visitor to Australia Khaled Abu Toameh to being labelled a “traitor” by Ali Kazak, the former PLO representative in Australia, earlier this month.
First up commenting on the so-called “freedom flotilla” is Abraham Cooper, the long-standing associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who suggests ideas to counter the propagandistic efforts of the “Free Gaza” movement in organising the flotilla. Firstly, he suggests that Israel remind everyone the amount of aid that is entering Gaza legally – 14,000 tons, in 637 truckloads, in just one recent week. He also suggests that the flotilla be met by a counter flotilla of victims of terrorism and rocket attacks – and remind the world why militarily useful, but not humanitarian supplies, are currently being restricted in their entry into Gaza. For all the details, CLICK HERE. There are indeed reportedly plans to set up such a counter-flotilla, as Cooper suggests. Meanwhile, more details about the extent of recent aid flowing from Israel into Gaza is here.
Next up is specialist in international humanitarian law Justus Reid Wiener, together with researcher Itai Eres, commenting on the decision by the Free Gaza movement to name their “flagship” the “Rachel Corrie”. Wiener and Eres look at the actual history of how American student Corrie was exploited by a radical pro-Palestinian group ISM prior to her accidental death in Gaza in 2003. They argue that the activist group behind the “flotilla” is being both as unhelpful and exploitative as the ISM was prior to Corrie’s death. For their complete argument, CLICK HERE.
Finally, following his trip to Australia earlier this month, leading Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh has penned a response to the attempt by Ali Kazak, the former PLO representative in Australia, to label him a “traitor” to the Palestinians in a statement to the Australian. Abu Toameh says the attitude of Kazak, that he shouldn’t write about corruption and bad government on the Palestinian side because “Palestinians are the victims”, is exactly what forces himself and other Palestinian journalists to work for the free Israeli or international press. He recalls a long and sad history of repression of journalists in the Palestinian territories and concludes that the true traitors are those who facilitate corruption while attempting to silence those trying to create a better life for their people by exposing the truth and encouraging reform. For Abu Toameh’s brave and defiant declaration, CLICK HERE.
Readers may also be interested in:
- The flotilla organisers have reportedly refused to take an aid package and letter from his father for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit. They have also rejected an Israeli offer to send any aid they are carrying to Gaza if they will bring it to an Israeli port for inspection and delivery.
- Cyprus has reportedly banned the flotilla from docking. Meanwhile, Israeli security forces are reportedly making preparations to intercept the flotilla.
- A Qassem rocket from Gaza lands in the Israeli town of Ashkelon.
- Meanwhile, Gaza just opened a new Olympic-size swimming pool. More on this and other signs of relative normalcy in Gaza from Tom Gross.
- The Financial Times reports that Gaza is over-flowing with goods, to the extent that merchants are complaining about the falling prices. These pictures of busy, well-stocked Gaza markets seem to underscore this point.
- Some good deconstructions of the much-publicised Guardian claim that Israel offered South Africa nuclear weapons in 1975 are here, here, and here.
Israel should counter ‘anti-siege’ ships with flotilla of inconvenient truths
If all goes the way sponsoring NGOs planned it, a nine-ship armada of activists will steam into a small Mediterranean seaport to break the “siege” of Gaza. Timed for the slow news cycles of the US Memorial Day weekend, organizers, led by “peace crusaders” from Turkey, Ireland, Sweden and North America will unload 10,000 tons of construction material, school and medical supplies.
The organizers are not surprised that Israel has already notified the Irish, Turkish and Swedish ambassadors that the flotilla will not be allowed to disembark in Gaza. They are probably counting on it so they can YOUTUBE images to the world of the Israel Navy’s barbaric maneuvers to thwart the SS Rachel Corrie, named for the anti-Israel American activists dispatched by the Palestinian-led International Solidarity Movement to Gaza. She died needlessly and tragically “confronting” an Israeli bulldozer in 2003 -another useful martyred poster child for “peace and justice.”
So what can be done to thwart this cynical exercise from reinforcing the dominant narrative not only in the Arab and Muslim world, but in mainstream Western media, that Gaza is “under siege” by callous Israel?
For starters it can tell an indifferent world what actually entered Gaza legally from Israel just this last week of the “siege”: 637 truckloads, consisting of 14,069 tons of humanitarian aid.
Among the goods for Gaza civilians were 810,209 liters of heavy duty diesel fuel; 21 truckloads of milk powder and baby food; 897 tons of cooking gas; 66 truckloads of fruits and vegetables; 51 truckloads of wheat; 27 truckloads of meat, chicken and fish products; 40 truckloads of dairy products; 117 truckloads of animal feed; 36 truckloads of hygiene products; 38 trucks of clothing; 22 trucks of sugar and 4 trucks of medicine and medical equipment.
In addition to that, 781 medical patients and accompanying individuals from the Gaza Strip crossed into Israel to receive treatment in various hospitals and 191 staff members of international organizations crossed into the Gaza Strip, and 202 crossed back from Gaza.
But numbers alone cannot win the day against the imagery of an international humanitarian flotilla braving a naval blockade. No, to win the day at CNN or SKY News, Israeli NGOs should launch their own flotilla from Ashkelon. It should be led by survivors of suicide bombings and families of the innocents who perished in the tsunami of terror that led to the erecting of the anti-terror fence in the first place.
Here’s a partial list of carnage caused by over 70 attacks between just 2001 and 2004 that the anti-Israel peace crusaders should be confronted with:
- June 1, 2001 – 21 killed and 120 Israelis – mostly teenagers – wounded outside a Tel Aviv disco.
- August 9, 2001 – 15 people were killed, including 7 children, and 130 injured in a suicide bombing at Sbarro’s in downtown Jerusalem.
- December 1, 2001 – two genocide bombers detonated explosive devices on Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda’s pedestrian mall on a Saturday night. A car bomb exploded nearby 20 minutes later. Ten people were killed, including many children, and 188 were injured.
- February 16, 2002 – A suicide bomber deliberately targeted Jewish children sitting at a pizzeria in the town of Karnei Shomron. Three children died and over 30 were wounded.
- March 9, 2002 – A suicide bomber kills 11 people and injures 54 in a crowded Cafe in Jerusalem.
- March 27, 2002 – At a Passover Seder in a Netanya hotel, a genocide bomber belonging to Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs detonated an explosive device, killing 30 and injuring 132, including many children and elderly.
- January 5, 2003 – 23 people were killed, and more than 80 were wounded when two Palestinian murderers blew themselves up near the old Tel Aviv bus station.
- June 11, 2003 – Sixteen Israelis were killed and more than 100 were wounded when a homicide bomber, dressed as an ultra-Orthodox Jew, detonated his explosives belt on a bus in downtown Jerusalem. Palestinian terrorists have attempted 11 homicide bombings and murdered 23 Israelis in the last 4 days, since Palestinians “accepted” the international “roadmap for peace.”
- January 15, 2004 – Two Israeli soldiers, a border policeman, and a security guard for a private manpower company, were murdered by a female suicide bomber at the Erez Gaza crossing.
- September 1, 2004 – Two suicide bombers exploded almost simultaneously on two buses in central Beersheba, killing 16 innocents and wounding dozens.
And if their stories aren’t enough, maybe Sderot’s Amar family should join the flotilla. You remember the Amars. During the 2008 US presidential campaign, they were visited by candidate Barack Obama. He visited their family’s home, which sustained a direct hit by a Qassam rocket. They could hold up Mr. Obama’s quote, who said at the time, “if missiles were falling where my two daughters sleep, I would do everything in order to stop that.”
There is some talk that the international humanitarian aid may be off-loaded in Ashdod and transferred into Gaza. Fair enough, but Israelis should demand that a special care package to Gilad Shalit be added to be delivered by UNRWA.
It is Israel’s fear that her civilian population centers in the South will have to face another 7,000 terrorist missiles that had has led her to try to prevent the influx into Gaza of weapons but not food, fuel, or medical supplies. No other government, not Turkish, Swedish, Irish or American would act any differently.
Currently, Western public opinion is virtually drowning in a tidal wave of media lies about Israel’s self-defense measures against Gaza’s terrorist “Hamastan.” To rescue the Truth, let a people’s flotilla of inconvenient truths, serve as Israel’s first line of defense.
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Radical groups are hijacking her name for their purposes.
By JUSTUS REID WEINER AND ITAI ERES
Jerusalem Post, 05/27/2010 06:24
International “activists” are at it again. A nine-ship flotilla of “peace activists” is on its way from Turkey, Greece and other European countries toward the Gaza strip, laden with left-wingers and a variety of goods to supplement those available to Gaza residents. This represents the latest effort by a radical group known as the Free Gaza Movement (FGM). In an attempt to galvanize support and sympathy, and achieve a better result than the three earlier abortive attempts, the group has chosen to name the lead ship the Rachel Corrie.
For those who don’t recall, Rachel Corrie was a 23-year-old American student activist killed in a tragic accident in 2003 while attempting to block an IDF bulldozer.
Corrie arrived in Israel as part of an independent study program during her senior year at Evergreen State College. It was there that Corrie first heard of going to Gaza with the loosely affiliated assortment of left-wing radicals known as the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Evergreen’s faculty also displayed gross negligence in allowing her to spend a semester abroad, for course credit, in the West Bank and Gaza during the height of the second intifada. After a mere two days of ISM “training,” Corrie and her fellow activist trainees were sent to the Rafah crossing, described by IDF spokesman Capt. Jacob Dellal as “the most dangerous area in the West Bank and Gaza.”
Ironically however, Corrie is perhaps a more apt reference than the FGM organizers realize. The tragedy of her death is that it was completely avoidable. Moreover, her behavior, flouting local and international law, raises the question of what role, if any, small groups of extremist activists have in interfering in the counterterrorism measures of a democratic state.
Despite dishonest testimony by the ISM, subsequent developments revealed that the driver of the bulldozer likely couldn’t even see Corrie. The most startling discovery was the recklessness of the ISM in dealing with its volunteers. They were encouraged to prevent the demolition of buildings and smuggling tunnels by using their bodies as shields against trucks and bulldozers. Although the volunteers were provided with visibility vests and megaphones, it was only a matter of time before the folly of the ISM led to catastrophic results.
If playing chicken with cars is suicidal, doing so with an armored bulldozer, more difficult to control and with less visibility, borders on insanity. Yet that is exactly what the ISM advocated, while making sure to record all their encounters for use in the event of just such an accident. As one of Corrie’s colleagues stated, “Several times we had to dive away at the last moment in order to avoid being crushed. This continued for about two and a half hours.”
WHILE THIS may not have been exactly what Evergreen College envisioned as Corrie’s independent study, the ISM was complicit in these dangerous antics, having promoted activism that would “more directly challenge the Israeli military.”
The ISM views its volunteers as pawns in a political game, fully aware that some gambits require the loss of a pawn. Corrie’s death, a terrible accident for the IDF, became a propaganda weapon for the ISM.
ISM is an organization that recognizes a Palestinian “right” to resistance via “legitimate armed struggle.” Its “accolades” include preventing IDF demolition of bomb-making factories and weapons-smuggling tunnels as well as the aiding, abetting and protecting of terrorists. In addition, the ISM also encouraged confrontational, reckless resistance by its international volunteers.
In 2002, in the midst of a violent takeover of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem by Palestinian terrorists, 10 ISM members ran in to act as human shields. The same year as Corrie’s death, a popular bar in Tel Aviv, Mike’s Place, was attacked by two suicide bombers who had had tea with ISM members only five days earlier.
The ISM’s behavior is typical of such radical groups. Purporting to protect human rights, they are often callous toward human life in general. What legitimacy is warranted by NGOs that have no respect for the lives of their volunteers?
Additionally, these groups fail to recognize that Israel abides by both local and international law. It has a well-developed judicial system, with the authority and will to limit its executive and legislative branches, one that has already delineated Israel’s commitments, obligations and rights in Gaza. The potential harm to local interests and stability caused by the audacious interference of a handful of people from other continents is tremendous. Individuals in Europe or North America may read about the plight of Palestinians in Gaza and wish to help, but chartering boats to sail to foreign waters is a misguided effort.
To promote their personal delusions, the ISM and FGM neglect any legal, judicial, diplomatic or otherwise politically palatable routes. While their personal risks are less than those taken by activists illegally entering Iran, North Korea or China, they still choose to waste public and private resources while violating domestic and international law.
The Rachel Corrie ironically represents a seaborne version of the organizational callousness and disregard that led to Rachel Corrie’s death in 2003. With such dubious priorities, these activists continue to be a part of the problem, not a legitimate attempt at a peaceful solution. Instead of being embarrassed by their role in Corrie’s death, these radical groups are hijacking her name for their current efforts to help Hamas dominate Gaza.
Let Rachel Corrie rest in peace.
Justus Reid Weiner is an international human rights lawyer who graduated from Berkeley Law School. He is a member of the NY and Israel bar associations, a scholar in residence at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a lecturer at the Rothberg Overseas School at Hebrew Universary, and a Senior Research Fellow of the Global Law Forum. Ittai Eres researched and edited this article as an intern with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. The authors wish to thank Steven Aiello, Zach Lewis and Dimitri Teresh for their efforts in the preparation of this article.
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by Khaled Abu Toameh
Hudson Institute, May 25, 2010 5:00 AM
The former PLO “ambassador” to Australia, Ali Kazak, believes that an Arab journalist who writes about financial corruption and theft in the Palestinian Authority is a “traitor” who should be murdered the same way as collaborators were killed by the French Resistance.
Kazak told the newspaper, The Australian: “Khaled Abu Toameh is a traitor. Traitors were also murdered by the French Resistance, in Europe; this happens everywhere.”
Asked why he calls the journalist a traitor, the former PLO representative, who lives in Australia, explained: “Palestinians are the victims. He shouldn’t write about them, he should write about the crimes of the Israelis.”
Kazak’s threat does not come as a surprise to those who are familiar with the methods used by Arab dictatorships to silence anyone who dares to demand reforms and transparency.
The threat reminds journalists like me how lucky we are that we live in Israel and not under the jurisdiction of the PLO or Hamas.
We are also fortunate that Kazak and his radical supporters are sitting far away in Australia and not in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where they would be lining up journalists and critics against the wall and shooting them like the “traitors who were murdered by the French Resistance.”
The PLO, like most of the Arab dictatorships, has a long history of targeting journalists who refuse to “toe the line.” This clampdown is one of the main reasons why the Palestinian media is still far from being independent and free.
One of the first things the PLO did when it entered the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1994 was to wage a campaign of intimidation and terror against Palestinian reporters and editors.
Another photographer had his two arms broken by members of Fatah’s armed wing, the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, apparently after he had been heard bad-mouthing senior officials associated with Arafat.
A photographer who took a picture of a donkey strolling along the beach of Gaza City was arrested and beaten by Palestinian security agents on charges of “defaming the Palestinian cause” by distributing a picture of the animal instead of documenting the “suffering” of his people.
A newspaper editor who failed to publish a story about Yasser Arafat on the front page of his newspaper found himself thrown into a Jericho prison for a week.
The offices of a newspaper in east Jerusalem were torched after the editor published an editorial denouncing financial corruption in the Palestinian Authority.
The director-general of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation was gunned down in Gaza City, and it’s widely believed that Arafat had ordered the assassination.
Earlier this year, the Palestinian Authority leadership instructed all Palestinian journalists and editors to refrain from publishing allegations of rampant corruption made by Fahmi Shabaneh, the former head of the anti-corruption department in the Palestinian security forces.
The absence of a free and independent media in the Palestinian territories has driven many Palestinians to seek work in the Western media, including Israeli newspapers and radio and TV stations.
But Kazak thinks that it is not enough that these journalists have been forced out of their own media. Now he wants to see them being murdered for working for writing about one of the most significant problem facing the Palestinians: financial corruption and bad government.
Kazak needs to be reminded that the party he claims to represent lost the January 2006 parliamentary election largely due to its failure to combat corruption.
The real traitors are those who established another corrupt dictatorship in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and stole billions of dollars of international aid that was supposed to improve the living conditions of their people.
The real traitors are those who built a casino for the Palestinians instead of building them a hospital and a school.
The real traitors are those who are trying to silence journalists and reformists who want to see a better life for their people.