Monday, June 28, 2010
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.
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
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
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.
Wednesday, June 23, 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.
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
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
- The EU wants more than just the blockade lifted.
- Istanbul has decided to become the sister-city of Gaza.
- A coalition of groups is still planning a new flotilla.
- 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
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
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.
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!
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
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
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.
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
Bahrain is also sending aid, although it's using the land route through Egypt.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
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
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?
Friday, June 11, 2010
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.
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.
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.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
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?
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
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!
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
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.
The Washington Post has a photo gallery of Thomas.
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
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
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.
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
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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akMu5oZvf0o
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.
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.
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.
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
edit: I am adding the tag "flotilla" to the previous posts.
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."
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
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.
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.