Monday, June 28, 2010

More Flotillas on the way! Update III

Supposedly more flotillas are getting ready. Hamas says they are expecting 8 ships, after the World Cup is over.

According to the Daily Star (Lebanon) Iranian lawmakers will be on the Lebanese ships that should be sailing to Gaza soon. Perhaps that is a prelude to the Iranian ships that are on also on their way.

Edit: According to BBC News, the Iranian ships are not on the way, because they will not be allowed to use the Suez Canal.

Bombing Iran? Again

I don't know how I missed this (h/t CrooksAndLiars). According to Haaretz (from June 19th), the newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported that US Navy warships and an Israeli ship went through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea, en route to Iran. Does this mean that the Israelis are ready to attack Iran? Apparently most of the G-8 believe so. They also think something needs to be done about the blockade at Gaza.

State Solutions

Some interesting comments on how to resolve the Israel-Palestine issue:

If the state of Palestine is created, allow Jewish settlers there to become Palestinian citizens. And reimburse Palestinians whose land was stolen.

Or, how about a Five-State Solution? Instead of just Israel and Palestine, you would also have a land for Hamas, Fatah, and the Haredi Jews. Who knows, maybe that would actually work.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Top Stories June 28, 2010

Al-Ahram (Egypt): Beleaguered still - discussion about the situation in Gaza and how the crossing into Egypt fits into it.

Haaretz (Israel): Jerusalem master plan: Expansion of Jewish enclaves across the city - according to the article, this new master plan doesn't account for the future needs of the Arabs living in the city, so it will probably be seen as provocative.

Turkish Daily News: Turkey's Kurdish leader hopeful for peace - Turkey has been having a lot of terrorism problems with the Kurdistan Workers' Party. This article is an interview with the head of the Peace and Democracy Party.

Jordan Times: Gov't counting on media to boost voter turnout - Rifai - Prime Minister Rifai said that the media needs to encourage people to vote.

Tehran Times (Iran): Annual Judiciary gathering held in Tehran - "On June 28, 1981, the terrorist group Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) planted a bomb in the Islamic Republic Party’s main office, killing Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mohammad Hosseini Beheshti and 72 high-ranking Iranian officials, including a number of MPs." So the judiciary holds their meeting on the anniversary of the deaths.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Women's News June 25, 2010

As in Yemen, there is an effort underway to educate women in Turkey as well. This isn't big city women, this is women who live very sheltered lives, in an Islamic area. But they (and their menfolk) are learning that a lot of the things they have believed are not Islamic, and in some cases unhealthy or simply barbaric.

In Saudi Arabia, women's rights are very behind the times too. But do they need rescuing, or are they doing fine on their own? Read the article to find out one woman's opinion.

News Woes

I get most of my Israel information from Haaretz, but the website appears to be down (at the very least, I can't access it). I'm trying to check out the Jerusalem Post and other sites instead.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Israeli arms to South Africa

This was in my Top Stories section for May 24, 2010:
Haaretz (Israel): Report: Israel offered to sell nuclear weapons to apartheid South Africa - well, I certainly was not expecting this headline on the front page. This article quotes an article from The Guardian (UK) about a new book from an American researcher who found documents on nuclear talks between Israel and South Africa in the 1970s. Apparently a nuclear deal didn't quite go through, but Israel did sell tritium to SA and there may have been a joint nuclear test in late 1979.
There have been a few updates. According to the Daily Beast, Shimon Peres has denied a lot of the scandal, and called it slander. And Haaretz has a refutation of that by the author of the book, Sasha Polakow-Suransky.

WTF: Israel subservient to US?

I read this title to an opinion piece in Haaretz and burst out laughing: Is Israel too subservient to the U.S.? The real title is Is Israel becoming a banana republic? (but I prefer the one on Haaretz's main page).

According to the author, Israel is basically kowtowing to the US, by letting the US nix a military deal with China, stop some settler construction, and want international watchers in the flotilla investigation. Let's forget how many times Israel has completely blown off its promises by starting new settlements and generally doing whatever the hell it wants without regard to international law. By all means, let's let Israel be independent. Tell the US Congress to stop financing it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Flotilla Starting

Juan Cole has a great post about all things flotilla-related. The first "flotilla" should be 2 ships by a Lebanese women's aid society. We'll see what happens to them.

Top Stories June 21, 2010 (Saudi Arabia): Unacceptable siege - One of the top stories is an editorial about Gaza.

The Daily Star (Lebanon): Sfeir becomes first patriarch to visit Bekaa in 72 years - Sfeir is the Maronite Patriarch. The last visit was before Lebanon became a country. According to the article, Bekaa has the largest Greek Catholic community in the Middle East.

Haaretz (Israel): 22 Palestinian homes to be razed in East Jerusalem - so the Israelis can build a tourist center. This is another disaster in the making. Supposedly the displaced families could build new homes in the area, but no one is sure how that would be financed. The Prime Minister even asked the Mayor of Jerusalem to slow down a bit, because this might upset the US. Here's a quote about the neighborhood:
The contested site is a section of a larger neighborhood called Silwan, which is home to some 50,000 Palestinians and 70 Jewish families.
Turkish Daily News: Turkish military determined to fight terror, top general says - there have been attacks recently by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Middle East Mess

Well, things continue to get interestinger and interestinger. Lots of news from Turkey:
  • It's becoming harder to defend human rights in Israel. (This reminds me of life under George W. Bush. "You don't like torture - you're un-American, you traitor.")

Friday, June 18, 2010

Blockade? Update I

Remember Israel said it will loosen the Gaza blockade? Well, apparently they only said that in English. The Hebrew version of the document makes no mention of easing the blockade. Is this a mistake or intentional? (I'd bet on intentional.) (H/t to Juan Cole who has more on the story.)

In good news though, Obama has gone further than other US presidents in regards to Israel. In the new National Security Strategy (as quoted by Haaretz) there should be 2 states and one of them is "a Jewish state of Israel, with true security, acceptance, and rights for all Israelis." So a state of Israeli for all Israelis, not just for Jews.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Torture, What Torture?

Apparently not only does the US not torture people, we don't even hear cases about torture. Does anyone remember that Canadian guy, who was kidnapped in the US, turned over to Syria, and tortured for 10 months? And then it turned out that he was completely innocent? His court case was rejected by the Supreme Court. And Obama's White House wanted it that way, because otherwise it might somehow impact national security.

This is completely ridiculous. It's an obvious screw-up that led to a man being tortured for almost a year, for absolutely no reason. The Canadians have already 'fessed up and made reparations to the guy. Now, they're investigating the US, because the US won't even hear the court case. Slate has a great article about the implications of the case (my first link, above).

I think the best definition of when torture should be allowable comes from an analyst on ABC News. I think he's a retired general, and I think this was just after the Abu Ghraib scandal started. He said (paraphrased): If a nuclear bomb is going to explode in Grand Central Station (NYC) in 5 minutes, and you've got the man with the codes to deactivate it, then it's okay to torture him.

Racism in Britain?

By now, everyone should know that England has a lot of CCTV cameras, especially in London. Birmingham also has cameras, but they're running into problems. They put up extra cameras, often covertly, in areas with larger Muslim populations. The police say it's in areas with more crime.

This is something that is still under discussion in America: when is something good police work and when is it racial profiling? There are a lot of good Muslims out there and they are really tired of being treated as criminals. But there are a few bad eggs here and there that ruin it for everyone. I don't know if this is the area where some of the British bombers have come from, but if it is, I could see why the police would want to watch it. But that doesn't change the fact that a lot of innocent Muslims would also be scrutinized. Where do you draw the line? And if you start taking away civil liberties for one group, then how can you save them for other groups? Should we all have cameras watching our every move - then the police would always catch the correct criminal!


Israel says it will loosen up the Gaza blockade.

Juan Cole has a huge roundup of what's going on between Turkey and Israel.

Racism is Everywhere Update I

Haaretz has an editorial on the issue, but they say it's Mizrahim that are not allowed to use the school. Since Spain was at one time ruled by Muslims from North Africa, it may be a moot point.

According to police reports, 100,000 demonstrators showed up. And in this article Sephardim are referred to as Middle Eastern. So I guess you could say it a matter of light-skinned people not wanting to study with brown-skinned people. This article has a nice selection of photos too.

edit: The BBC is also covering this. They have a quote from a settler saying it's not racism, it's because the Sephardi aren't religious enough. They're not modest enough and they have TVs.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

More Flotillas on the way! Update II

Remember the ship being sent by a German Jewish organization? Apparently they've had so many volunteers they are having to get a second ship.

The original Turkish flotilla was organized by a group called The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid (IHH). They're working on another flotilla for July. And Israel has added the IHH to their terrorist watch list.

I've previously posted about the Israeli-Arab Knesset member who may lose her privileges. The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which overseas parliaments, is looking into it now. They're concerned about death threats she

Racism is Everywhere

Some non-Jews are considered anti-Semitic, or racist, for not supporting Israel. Well, some Jews are racist too. There's a segregated girls school in a West Bank Jewish settlement, and the courts just ruled that they have to de-segregate. They are segregating the Ashkenazi and the Sephardi girls.

Ashkenazim = Jews from northern European

Sephardim = Jews from Spain/Portugal

Mizrahim = Jews from Middle East, North Africa, Caucasus

For some reason, these ultra-Orthodox settlers do not want their girls to learn in the same classroom as Sephardi girls. They are planning protests and Israel is putting 10,000 police officers out there to prepare for the protests. Here's a selection from the article:

MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism), who met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, told the Knesset: "We, the ultra-Orthodox community, will not respect rulings, not of lower courts and not of the High Court, that contradict the Torah."

Gafni went on to say that there is an opportunity to prevent the parents from being jailed. "These pictures [of the parents being jailed] will be published worldwide and there will be no escape from thinking about what happened in other countries at other times when ultra-Orthodox Jews with side locks and beards went to jail."

Well, if the Torah says that Ashkenazi and Sephardi should be separated, then I will step out on a limb and claim that the Torah is racist.

Turkey to stop treating children like terrorists?

A new bill is in the Turkish Parliament right now. It's being referred to as the "stone-throwing children" bill. Turkey has pro-Kurdish groups, some of which use terrorism. But sometimes children out there throw stones at the authorities. If this bill passes, they would stop arresting the children and treating them as terrorists. They might still be arrested, but they would go to a juvenile court instead of an adult court as terrorists.

That's a good start! Now Israel needs to learn from that. They have a history of shooting Palestinian stone-throwers.

Monday, June 14, 2010

More Flotillas on the way! Update I

Yes, even more are on the way. Juan Cole reported over the weekend that Turkey was sending another aid ship, possibly with the Turkish PM on board, and that a former Israeli military official was calling for the Israeli navy to sink the ship.

Bahrain is also sending aid, although it's using the land route through Egypt.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Top Stories June 14, 2010

Algeria Daily: Group C preview: England need Rooney to perform - well, it's definitely World Cup time if the top story in Algeria is about England. Of course, Algeria will be playing them this week, so I guess that does make sense.

Haaretz (Israel): PMO officially announces internal Gaza flotilla raid probe panel - the good news is that there will be 2 foreign observers on the panel (Iranian and Canadian).

Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey): European Union wakes up to Turkey's new role - Turkey is all over the place. In a lot of places, Turkey is considered part of Europe. Even they consider themselves part of Europe, hence their determination to join the EU. Now people are worried that Turkey is drifting to the East (i.e. Arabs, Iran, Russia, etc.)

Tehran Times (Iran): Iran, Pakistan put finishing touch on gas export deal - Iran and Pakistan are building a gas pipeline that will connect the two countries. India may or may not join in, depending upon how it feels about Pakistan.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What is an Israeli?

Is an Israeli a Jew? Or a citizen of the state of Israel? According to Netanyahu, Israel is a Jewish state. And he appears a bit perturbed that when Obama talks about a Jewish state he also mentions the rights of Israeli citizens. Because at the current time there are people living in Israel who are not Jewish - they are Muslim and Christian.

Haartez quotes Netanyahu as saying: "When we are talking about a solution of two states for two peoples, one of these peoples is the Jewish people. It is not some Israeli people, it is the Jewish people." Does that mean all non-Jews must leave? Because that smacks of ethnic-cleansing. Or will you simply be a second-class citizen if you're not Jewish?

Mavi Marmara Footage! has uploaded 1 hour of footage, taken by a US-Brazilian journalist. Here it is on YouTube. Or you can download it here.

Schumer Redux

I realize I'm not always the best analyst or writer, but I am still a young blogger. And I am always in awe when I read posts like this, from Juan Cole. He really gives it to Schumer.

Bombing Iran?

Haaretz is saying that according to the Times (London) Saudi Arabia will give Israel airspace so that Israel can bomb Iran. Isn't bombing someone an Act of War? Apparently not, because in 1981 Israel bombed Iraq - specifically their nuclear research facility. Most of the world did not like that, but it was basically deemed a defensive action by President Reagan. And of course, Israel could not have flown over there without help from US satellites showing the way. I won't go into the start of the Iran-Iraq war and how Israel was selling arms to Iran as part of the Iran-Contra fiasco (PBS coverage, Wikipedia).

Friday, June 11, 2010

Israel and the US?

Check out this article from The Jewish Week. It's called "Fresh Debate Emerging on U.S.-Israel Strategic Alliance." Even some conservative experts are starting to see Israel as a liability to US foreign policy. Even some Israelis feel that way.

It's the Economy, Stupid

Senator Chuck Schumer thinks it is okay "to strangle them [Gazans] economically until they see that’s not the way to go." He does make some allowances for humanitarian aid, but still... What the hell is wrong with people? The people in Gaza democratically elect Hamas, then everything hits the fan when the US and Israel don't like the outcome of the election. So Gaza ends up blockaded, and starving, for daring to oust the corrupt ruling party that was in charge?

The current blockade is not working. Instead of spending the last three years talking to Hamas, and trying to work with them, and moderate them, Israel has only succeeded in making them stronger and in turning the world against itself.

This was a completely wasted opportunity. If Israel had not stopped turning over tax money to the government of Gaza, once Hamas took over, they would have had the upper hand in saying "See, we're dealing fairly with you. Why won't you acknowledge our existence?"

Edit: In other news, President Obama has promised $400 million to the Palestinian Territories; hopefully that includes Gaza.

Where's the Flotilla?

Supposedly there is another flotilla on its way (several, in fact) but I can't find any mention of them at this time. I'll keep you posted as I find information.


Alright, this is really annoying me. I was reading an article in Haaretz about the rabbi who asked Helen Thomas about Israel, whereupon she said that the Israelis should go home. First of all, the rabbi has been receiving a lot of hate mail, and death threats, neither of which I condone. But he mentioned something that I've been reading about more often lately:
According to Nesenoff, he no longer sees a difference between anti-Semitic and anti-Israel behavior, saying that Israel was "a legitimate state and if there's any criticism it must be specific. But people keep returning to the question: Why are the Jews living there? They took over that country.' It is a re-writing of history while ignoring the centuries-long Jewish presence in Israel. Those are statements against Jews, with anti-Israel sentiment being only a part of it."
It is NOT a re-writing of history. Yes, there were Jews living in "Israel" for centuries. But only a handful, compared to the number of Muslims and Christians. Mass immigration of Jews to Israel did not start until the early part of the twentieth century. And it is NOT anti-Semitic to say that! It's simply the truth.

For anyone looking for more information, I would suggest that they read Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Charles Smith. I believe it is in the 7th edition now. Dr. Smith is considered one of the experts on the situation (by Middle East Studies professionals), and his book is considered fair and unbiased. By unbiased, I mean factual - of course, nowadays, factual may mean anti-Semitic.

Gaza & Flotilla updates

Haaretz is saying that the US has agreed to the composition of the Israeli committee that will investigate the flotilla attack.

An Italian journalist who was on the flotilla says that his rechargeable credit card was used, after the Israelis confiscated it.

Israel, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, and mediators are discussing ways to change or end the blockade of Gaza.

New Design

Yes, I'm trying out a new design. We'll see how it goes. I'm not sure if the double columns on the right will allow enough space for the posts.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Video on Flotilla Attack

Edit: Juan Cole has updated that this video is cut from a longer video. See the article here.

Found this at Juan Cole's site. As he says, it is unconfirmed, but appears to show the Israelis executing an activist.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

More Flotillas on the way!

Well, things are getting interesting again:

Juan Cole links to an article about a German Jewish group that is sending its own aid flotilla to Gaza. I wonder how they'll be treated.

According to Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey), Iran is sending 3 Red Crescent ships to Gaza as well. The Red Crescent is the Islamic version of the Red Cross, so that's fine. But the first 2 ships are orchestrating their moves with Turkey, and should arrive by the end of this week. This scares me. Iran and Israel have no love for each other, and are always verbally sniping. I simply cannot see Israel allowing 2 Iranian ships through their blockade. And I can't see these Iranian ships peaceably allowing Israel on board to search for contraband. This looks like a big disaster just waiting to happen. I know that in the past, an Iranian Red Crescent ship was turned away without repercussions. But the ante has been upped by the deaths of at least 9 peace activists on the Mavi Marmara. Iran isn't just randomly deciding that now is a good time to send some aid ships. They are sending a message, to Israel and to the world.

This could be the straw that starts a war between Iran and Israel. And throw Turkey into the mix too. Turkey has a huge military, and could probably march down to Israel. Iran has a large military and missiles. Israel has nukes. Syria is always hanging around the edges, too. Egypt depends upon US and Israeli good will, but a matter of honor could push it into the mix. Could this be the start of another war: Arab-Israeli War 2010? Is that what it will take before anything changes?

Helen Thomas II

Not everyone has abandoned her. Here's a great article by Paul Woodward.

I read a comment somewhere that "maybe now she'll blog." I hope that comes true.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Activist's Journal

Found a link on Hawgblawg about Henning Mankell sharing his journal of the Gaza flotilla with The Guardian.

Anti-Muslim Sentiment in America

This really ticks me off. According to Think Progress, there have been several anti-Muslims acts in Jacksonville, Florida recently. Including a phony anthrax mailing. Let me get this straight. You think that all Muslims are scary terrorists. So you respond by using terrorism? Because that makes everything better?

Flotilla Investigation

Apparently the US is now saying it should be an international investigation. So far Israel rejects this notion, because obviously any international probe would be against Israel (that's what the newspaper says). Am I the only person who finds that statement odd? "We can't have an international investigation because everyone hates us and will find against us, no matter what really happened."

So far, the investigation committee will be made up of Israeli jurists. Netanyahu (the PM of Israel) says that any investigation should use the facts already in evidence from the IDF internal investigation, and the military personnel involved in the attack should not be interviewed.

So let me get this straight. The IDF has already done their investigation, which we all know about. And the PM wants the new investigators to get all of their data from the IDF investigation. That does not sound like an investigation to me. That sounds more like a cover up. "Don't worry about investigating or talking to the people involved. We have all the data already. Just read it over and come to a conclusion."

Whatever happened to the truth? If Israel is innocent and its soldiers were attacked, why doesn't it release the entire unedited video footage of the event? Why did it confiscate all cameras and memory cards? If Israel has nothing to hide, then why is it hiding!

The Roots of Israel

Alright, this is really ticking me off. I was reading more about Helen Thomas, when I came across this gem in Haaretz:

Glick added that he felt "Thomas seems to have been schooled by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a belief that Jews appeared in Israel after the Holocaust," while ignoring "historical facts that Jews have called the Land of Israel home for more than 3,000 years, long before any other group made a home in the land."

This is a fallacy. Yes, originally there were Jews in a land called Israel. But most of them were kicked out by the Romans (I think it was the Romans, it's been a while since I looked at this). For hundreds of years, that area of the world was populated by Jews, Christians, and, yes, Muslims! For hundreds of years, it was part of the Ottoman Empire and was predominantly Muslim. It was not until the late 1800s and early 1900s that people started calling for a homeland for the Jews, in a state called Israel. And Israel did not come to exist until 1948, after the Holocaust.

The fact that there were some Jews (probably Arab Jews too) living in Palestine during this time period does not mean that it was always a Jewish state, or that you can come in, build an army, and start removing Muslims from their homes. They live there too.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Flotilla update II

I'm losing track of all my updates, but I felt this was worth mentioning:

A blog post by Elise Hendricks that goes through almost the entire incident and aftermath, pointing out the fallacies and lies: The Tacitus Principle: How Israel and its Apologists Defend the Indefensible.

Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas has done so much in her lifetime, and I find it sad that she has to retire. Instead of blogging about her, though, I'm simply going to link to a post on Crooks and Liars. They do a very good job of dissecting the situation. If you're so inclined, check out anti-Semitic remarks by Pat Buchanan. And ask yourself "who is allowed to criticize Israel, and who isn't?"

The Washington Post has a photo gallery of Thomas.

Flotilla News Roundup

Haaretz has a number of good articles on the situation. (Thank God for a free press in Israel.)

The IDF admits that it did doctor some of the audio footage. The IDF was talking on an open channel to the flotilla, and someone, somewhere, did say "go back to Auschwitz." But it's impossible to know who said it. The original IDF footage was compressed and implied that the Mavi Marmara said it. The part about 9/11 comes after almost a minute of silence.

Max Blumenthal has a good report of the audio incident. Including information that the new footage is also doctored. At one point you hear a woman say "We have permission from the Gaza Port Authority..." but this woman, Huwaida Arraf, claims she did not say that at this time. She has been on several Free Gaza trips, and this footage appears to be from one of those.

Some of the activists taken in the original flotilla last Monday appear to missing. Possibly 4-6 activists are missing and their situation is unknown. Also, the list of casualties is growing as more wounded activists finally reach home.

According to Haaretz, Syria wants to help Gaza, and the Turkish PM may sail to Gaza. And somewhere I read that Iran is sending ships to Gaza.

The Knesset House Committee voted to revoke the privileges of an Arab Knesset Member who was part of the recent Gaza flotilla. Another Arab Member received a death threat after comparing the Israeli commandos' actions to the Nazis.

The current head of the Arab League will make his first visit to Gaza.

The IDF is claiming that the flotilla had Hamas and al-Qa'eda agents on board, even though one of them is a well known peace activist.

Good article by a former Israeli politician on how Israel needs to change.

Israel fired warning shots before boarding the Mavi Marmara according to the Jerusalem Post and New York Times.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Top Stories June 7, 2010

Al-Ahram (Egypt): Marmara, and beyond - being a weekly magazine, they're a little behind, but the attack on the flotilla is their top news.

Haaretz (Israel): Israel still balking at external Gaza flotilla probe, despite growing world pressure - Israel has no problem with an investigation, as long as it is conducted by Israel. The rest of the world, however, would like someone a bit more impartial to investigate the situation.

Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey): Pressing for freedom: Two centuries of ceaseless struggle in Turkey - a banner at the top of the page links to new photos of the Marmara attack, but the top story is about censorship and the press.

In other news, an American art student (with Israeli citizenship) lost an eye during a protest following the Marmara attack. According to witnesses, the IDF fired tear gas containers at the protesters. According to the IDF, they did no such thing; the tear gas container rebounded off of a wall. The US has actually demanded an investigation, but it appears the IDF has already done that.

Read an interview with Uri Avnery, an Israeli peace activist, about the real reason for the Gaza blockade.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Women's News

Several interesting and sad tales of women in the Middle East:

An Australian woman who converted to Islam and moved to Yemen is being held in prison in Yemen. The article doesn't state what she is accused of, if anything, but she is in legal limbo right now.

The French hijab wars continue. A woman was stopped at a random alcohol roadblock. When police saw that she wore a niqab (face mask) they fined her for "driving with a reduced field of vision." According to the article, she was not the first, either.

Saudi Arabia will actually start asking for the age of new brides, when paper work is filled out. Hopefully this will help stop old men from marrying children.

Hurricanes in Oman again

Cyclone Phet hit Oman, on its way to Pakistan. Two people died, and of course, oil production was halted for a while. I'm not sure if that halt in oil production will have any big effects in the rest of the world.

MV Rachel Corrie & Gaza

The ship was stopped by the Israelis and taken to the port of Ashdod. The Israelis said that no one was injured, because this was a ship of peace activists not "a ship of hate organised by violent Turkish terror extremists."

Witness Gaza has footage of the Israelis boarding the ship, as well as interviews with activists, including an old interview with Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003.

This is a lot more anti-climactic than the Turkish flotilla, which may be a good thing. No else died, possibly because this time the entire world was watching the situation. According to Haaretz, left-wing Israeli protesters even showed up to protest the attacks against the flotillas.

Now that the world is watching, though, it would be nice if the world (especially the US) would look at what is going on in Gaza and do something about it. You cannot have peace when 1.5 million people are in what amounts to a prison camp. And if the Palestinians want peace, Hamas will have to come to terms with the existence of an Israeli state. Both sides need to taste the bitter pill of reality and try living together instead of killing each other. And the more powerful side (Israel) needs to take the first step.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Attack footage

Most of the video footage you see was filmed by the Israelis, who confiscated all of the film on board the ships. Here are a few alternatives though.

Here's the Al-Jazeera footage, just before their correspondent had to stop filming:

A longer video from Russia Today:

Ten minute radio broadcast from Ireland, including an interview with first mate Shane Dillon who was on Challenger 1:

I read in the Sydney Morning Herald that the Mavi Marmara was streaming video live, but I haven't been able to find it. The camerawoman on board another ship managed to hide some of her memory cards but I can't find where her photos are showing. Interviews with the activists show a bloody situation. Apparently several camera-people hid their cards; now if we can only see the photos. More first-hand accounts.

The Guardian has autopsy reports showing that the 9 men killed had 30 bullets in them.

Flotilla updates

According to Craig Murray, the MV Rachel Corrie will stop and get checked out, and add some more high profile passengers, before it finishes its trip to Gaza.

He also says that the Mavi Marmara was NOT flagged as Turkish. It was flagged as Comoros Islands about a week before the flotilla started. This brings up all sorts of questions as to why it was re-flagged. For one thing, it's no longer a NATO-flagged shipped. And who re-flagged it? The Turks or the Israelis? Check out Craig Murray's speculation.

Women's News

BBC News has an article called "Inside the radio station helping Egyptian divorcees." Apparently there are more divorces now in Egypt, since the law was changed to allow a woman to ask for a divorce without the husband agreeing. There's still a stigma attached to divorced women, but radio shows, magazines, and clubs are helping these women make the decision and learn to live with it.

Apparently there is a group called the "International Women’s Commission for a Just and Sustainable Israeli-Palestinian Peace." They are calling for an end to the Gaza blockade, and a 2-state solution.

Flotilla still approaching

The MV Rachel Corrie is still on its wait to Gaza. It should arrive Saturday morning.

Three more activists were returned to Turkey. Apparently they were more seriously injured, so it took longer for them to be able to return. And two others are still in Israel in serious condition, unable to return at this time.

US Representative Barney Franks (Jewish) initially had some harsh words about the attack on the aid ships, but then backed down. The first article also says that "A Maine filmmaker hired to document the blockade-running flotilla, Scott Hamann, 29, of South Portland, also was being detained."

On Wednesday, Glenn Greenwald was on MSNBC, trying to explain that the flotilla was not controlled by Hamas, and disputing the "Netanyahu aides." Worth a look.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Israel attacks aid ships? Update IV

One of the ships in the flotilla was the MV Rachel Corrie (named after the American college student killed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003) was apparently not attacked, because it had engine trouble and had fallen behind. Said engine trouble may have been caused by Israel. If I have read everything correctly, the MV Rachel Corrie is currently still on its way to Gaza, and the leader of Ireland has already warned Israel against hurting any of its passengers. The ship belongs to the Irish branch of the Free Gaza Movement, and one of the passengers is Nobel peace laureate Máiread Maguire.

edit: I am adding the tag "flotilla" to the previous posts.

What the hell is going on?

Alright, things may be getting scary. A friend sent me a link saying that Turkey will be sending another aid flotilla to Gaza, but this time the Turkish Navy will escort it! Following the links brought me to this article, out of India, which appears to be where the story originated. And Ian Walsh has some succinct comments on what might happen if Israel and Turkey went to war.

Turkey and Israel have military and economic ties. Some of the military ties are still there, but Turkey has called off some joint military drills and stopped energy projects.

United Nations: "UN Human Rights Council [yesterday] voted to dispatch an independent, international probe into violations of international law resulting from Israel’s actions."

My favorite post of the day is from Juan Cole. Here it is in it's entirety:

Hey, Tea Party. A foreign navy boarded an unarmed ship flying the flag of a NATO member in international waters and shot dead an American citizen with four bullets to the head and one in the chest on Memorial Day. It did this while the head of the belligerent state was on his way to a state visit to Washington, DC, to be awarded a further $200 million in aid on top of the $3 billion of American taxpayer money the US gives away to him every year.

If you are not upset by this, your tea is weak, man. Weak."

Non-Violent Protests

This article is from April, but it's about non-violent protests in the Palestinian areas. There appears to be a growing number of people there who are trying out non-violent protests. This is still in the beginning stages, but it is a start. It's harder to claim justification for shooting protesters, when they aren't throwing rocks at you.

Israel attacks aid ships? Update III

This is not going to go away, like other incidents have in the past. Turkey is not letting the situation die down. They are very upset - it's still front page news there. Turkey is demanding that the blockade be lifted, and that an impartial group look into the attack. The UN also wants the blockade lifted, and even the Obama administration may be changing its mind.

Eight of the nine killed were Turkish, and prayers were held for them today. The group that organized the flotilla says that 3 activists are still missing.

It's still front page news in Israel too, and some of the Haaretz columnists are really hammering Israel.

If you're looking for alternative voices in Israel, be sure to check out this blog in Haaretz: A Special Place in Hell.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Israel attacks aid ships? Update II

Slate has some very interesting articles on the incident:

Is Israel's blockade of Gaza against the law? - maybe. The law is not completely clear. But seizing a ship in International Waters is illegal.

That's No Way To Enforce a Blockade - this article asks a lot of relevant questions, like, how did a group of Israeli commandos get their asses kicked by civilians; and why did they stop the ships in International Waters. Definitely worth a read.

For a slightly different take on the situation, check out What's to investigate? We know what happened to the Gaza flotilla.

On a lighter note: Yazidi pics

Check out these photos of a Yazidi temple in Iraq. Beautiful!

Israel attacks aid ships? Update I

Well, Turkey is really pissed off. The attacked ship was Turkish, and there were many Turks on board. Here's some more information:

BBC News has a rundown on the Gaza blockade.

BBC News also has info on why Israel maintains the blockade.

This Yahoo! article has the Israeli footage of the attack.

The Turks want an international investigation, and they have demanded the release of their people, and Israel has said it is deporting everyone involved.

This whole thing is a giant mess, but at least it is highlighting the problem. Israel has blockaded Gaza for about three years now, as the humanitarian problems there have worsened. It's not clear if the blockade is even legal, aside from the fact that the attack took place outside of the blockade limit [Note: does that mean international waters?]. Perhaps this whole situation will come to a head and the US will look at what is actually happening, instead of just listening to what Israel says is happening.

Jesus vs. Muhammad

Remember all those cartoons about Muhammad? And most Westerners were screaming "freedom of speech" and thought they should be showed? Well, Comedy Central is now working on a program about Jesus. This has caused a number of religious leaders to form the Coalition Against Religious Bigotry (CARB). They're accusing Comedy Central of a double standard, since Comedy Central censored South Park's Muhammad episodes. [Note: I have to agree that is a double standard.] I'm just wondering how the rest of the Western World will view this situation. Will the Jesus show air? Or will people be outraged because it's a Christian parody and not a Muslim one?