Thursday, June 3, 2010

Statement by Prime Minister Netanyahu: "No Love Boat"

2 Jun 2010
Israel cannot permit Iran to establish a Mediterranean port a few dozen kilometers from Tel Aviv and from Jerusalem. These weren't peace activists. These were violent supporters of terrorism.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Photo: GPO

Once again, Israel faces hypocrisy and a biased rush to judgment. I'm afraid this isn't the first time.

Last year, Israel acted to stop Hamas from firing thousands of rockets into Israel's towns and cities. Hamas was firing on our civilians while hiding behind civilians. And Israel went to unprecedented lengths to avoid Palestinian civilian casualties. Yet it was Israel, and not Hamas, that was accused by the UN of war crimes.

Now regrettably, the same thing appears to be happening now.

But here are the facts. Hamas is smuggling thousands of Iranian rockets, missiles and other weaponry - smuggling it into Gaza in order to fire on Israel's cities. These missiles can reach Ashdod and Beer Sheva - these are major Israeli cities. And I regret to say that some of them can reach now Tel Aviv, and very soon, the outskirts of Jerusalem. From the information we have, the planned shipments include weapons that can reach farther, even farther and deeper into Israel.

Under international law, and under common sense and common decency, Israel has every right to interdict this weaponry and to inspect the ships that might be transporting them.

This is not a theoretical challenge or a theoretical threat. We have already interdicted vessels bound for Hizbullah, and for Hamas from Iran, containing hundreds of tons of weapons. In one ship, the Francop, we found hundreds of tons of war materiel and weapons destined for Hizbullah. In another celebrated case, the Karine A, dozens of tons of weapons were destined for Hamas by Iran via a shipment to Gaza. Israel simply cannot permit the free flow of weapons and war materials to Hamas from the sea.

I will go further than that. Israel cannot permit Iran to establish a Mediterranean port a few dozen kilometers from Tel Aviv and from Jerusalem. And I would go beyond that too. I say to the responsible leaders of all the nations: The international community cannot afford an Iranian port in the Mediterranean. Fifteen years ago I cautioned about an Iranian development that has come to pass - people now recognize that danger. Today I warn of this impending willingness to enable Iran to establish a naval port right next to Israel, right next to Europe. The same countries that are criticizing us today should know that they will be targeted tomorrow.

For this and for many other reasons, we have a right to inspect cargo heading into Gaza.

And here's our policy. It's very simple: Humanitarian and other goods can go in and weapons and war materiel cannot. And we do let civilian goods into Gaza. There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Each week, an average of ten thousand tons of goods enter Gaza. There's no shortage of food. There's no shortage of medicine. There's no shortage of other goods.

On this occasion too, we made several offers - offers to deliver the goods on board the flotilla to Gaza after a security inspection. Egypt made similar offers. And these offers were rejected time and again.

So our naval personnel had no choice but to board these vessels. Now, on five of the vessels, our seamen were not met by any serious violence and as a result, there were no serious injuries aboard those ships. But on the largest ship, something very different happened.

Our naval personnel, just as they landed on the ship - you can see this in the videos - the first soldier - they were met with a vicious mob. They were stabbed, they were clubbed, they were fired upon. I talked to some of these soldiers. One was shot in the stomach, one was shot in the knee. They were going to be killed and they had to act in self-defense.

While the Israeli naval commandos were approaching the Mavi Marmara, the ship's security camera recorded this video displaying the "peace activists" getting prepared to welcome IDF soldiers with clubs, pipes, glass and metal bottles.


Passengers on board the Mavi Marmara are seen throwing chains, metal pipes and a stun grenade at the soldiers attempting to intercept the ship and attacking them with water hoses.
The soldiers can be seen armed with paintball guns, to be used as a means of riot dispersal.

It is very clear to us that the attackers had prepared their violent action in advance. They were members of an extremist group that has supported international terrorist organizations and today support the terrorist organization called Hamas. They brought with them in advance knives, steel rods, other weapons. They chanted battle cries against the Jews. You can hear this on the tapes that have been released.

This was not a love boat. This was a hate boat. These weren't pacifists. These weren't peace activists. These were violent supporters of terrorism.

I think that the evidence that the lives of the Israeli seamen were in danger is crystal clear. If you're a fair-minded observer and you look at those videos, you know this simple truth. But I regret to say that for many in the international community, no evidence is needed. Israel is guilty until proven guilty.

Once again, Israel is told that it has a right to defend itself but is condemned every time it exercises that right. Now you know that a right that you cannot exercise is meaningless. And you know that the way we exercise it - under these conditions of duress, under the rocketing of our cities, under the impending killing of our soldiers - you know that we exercise it in a way that is commensurate with any international standard. I have spoken to leading leaders of the world, and I say the same thing today to the international community: What would you do?  How would you stop thousands of rockets that are destined to attack your cities, your civilians, your children? How would your soldiers behave under similar circumstances? I think in your hearts, you all know the truth.

Israel regrets the loss of life. But we will never apologize for defending ourselves. Israel has every right to prevent deadly weapons from entering into hostile territory. And Israeli soldiers have every right to defend their lives and their country.

This may sound like an impossible plea, or an impossible request, or an impossible demand, but I make it anyway: Israel should not be held to a double standard. The Jewish state has a right to defend itself just like any other state.

Thank you.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fair Witness Statement on the Gaza Flotilla Incident



June 2, 2010

Contact: Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East

(212) 870-2320


Fair Witness Statement on the Gaza Flotilla Incident


Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East is deeply concerned about the loss of life and renews its call for a negotiated peace in light of the tragic events that followed the attempt by the flotilla to break  Israel's blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.


According to Rev. Dr. Peter A. Pettit of Muhlenberg College "if there is anything to be learned from this tragedy it is that efforts to help  Israelis and Palestinians reach a negotiated peace must be heightened.  The parties' inability to resolve this sixty-year conflict and the deplorable reality that war always ends up harming civilians make this a mandate for us."


Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton, Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College, adds that "neither church leaders who rush to condemn Israel for a disproportionate response nor pro-Israel advocates who place all the blame on the side of the flotilla activists are particularly helpful here.  We must remember that this tragedy has taken place in the context of a conflict between equally legitimate yet competing claims for Jewish and Palestinian national expression."


"Surely this could have been avoided," says Rev. Dr. James R. Noland, Senior Pastor at Reveille United Methodist Church.  "The flotilla leadership refused Israel's offer to dock at Ashdod where Israel said it would inspect the cargo and send humanitarian supplies by truck to Gaza.  Whatever we may think of the Gaza blockade , both Israel and Egypt believe it  necessary to stem massive arms-building by Hamas.  Thus  an untenable situation was created.  Israel failed to think creatively and embarked upon a military confrontation that courted tragedy.  While five out of six of the flotilla ships were boarded peacefully, video footage reveals Israeli commandos being mobbed and attacked with clubs as they landed on the Mavi Marmara.  The result was the tragic death of nine people." 


"The question now is how do American church people respond?" asks  Rev. James Loughran, S.A. Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute.   "The usual running to take sides is not acceptable.  We must help find solutions to end the Israeli blockade of Gaza, keeping in mind that Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and continues to launch repeated rocket attacks.  Our role must be to restore hope and insist upon the mutual acceptance of  Palestinian  and  Jewish states living side by side in peace."

Monday, May 31, 2010


Bernard-Henri Levy: Israel secular miracle

At Tel Aviv conference, Jewish-French philosopher lauds IDF morals, calls Israel 'island of democracy where dictatorships rule'

Attila Somfalvi
Published: 05.31.10, 00:33 / Israel News

Referring to the IDF, Jewish-French writer and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy said, "Much can and should be learned from Israel."

Addressing the French-Israeli conference on democracy in Tel Aviv Sunday, Levy said, "I've covered many wars, and I've never seen an army that asks itself so many questions related to morals."

As for Israel's status in the international community, the French philosopher said, "There is a demonization campaign against Israel all over the world.

"In a region where dictatorships and truly fascist regimes rule, Israel represents an island of democracy. Zionism is the only movement that has not failed and turned into a caricature. It is the only movement that has preserved its spirit," he told the conference.

"Israel is a miracle because since its inception it has been in a constant state of war, yet it never gave up on the democratic values at its core," according to Levy.

He added, "Democracy was created (in Israel) out of nothing. People had no experience in democracy, but through willpower and a miracle, they invented a functioning democracy. Israel is proof that democracy does not require time. In France a newspaper was shut down every two weeks during the war in Algeria."

Levy also praised the Israeli government's treatment of the Arab minority during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, adding that Arab-Israel villages he had visited during the war "were on the brink of explosion."

"I am not certain that (governments in other countries) would have acted the same. I remember a terrible atmosphere and my admiration of the Israeli authorities' level-headed conduct. Israel represents a secular miracle," he said.

The renowned philosopher also said democracy was a Jewish idea. "The Talmud is democracy in practice. The Jewish nation invented the notion that the truth lies in the most heated argument," he said.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Who is behind the "Gaza Freedom Flotilla?"

The "peace and love" people are all for the flotilla of "humanitarian aid" ships to Gaza, but who is behind the "relief" effort?

Without minimizing the suffering and loss of the Gaza population, it is also necessary to point out a few facts that might dim the enthusiasm of supporters of the fleet of ships sailing to Gaza with "humanitarian supplies," at least among decent people.

In a typical week, 15,000 tons of Israeli humanitarian aid supplies enter Gaza. Truckloads of meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, milk powder, baby food, wheat and other staples arrive in Gaza daily. Building materials are also shipped in, when monitored by International organization so as not to be commandeered by Hamas for the fortification of bunkers. (source ) That is, in a week, Israel sendss more aid to Gaza than is contained in the 10,000 tons of the so-called humanitarian aid flotilla.

The ships sailing from Turkey to Gaza are sponsored by the Turkish organization for Human Rights, Liberties, and Humanitarian Relief (IHH). What does the nature of this group tell us about the "humanitarian" purpose of the voyage? In 2006, a Danish study by Evan F. Kohlmann reported:

Turkish authorities began their own domestic criminal investigation of IHH as early as December 1997, when sources revealed that leaders of IHH were purchasing automatic weapons from other regional Islamic militant groups.43 IHH's bureau in Istanbul was thoroughly searched, and its local officers were arrested. Security forces uncovered an array of disturbing items, including firearms, explosives, bomb-making instructions, and a "jihad flag." After analyzing seized IHH documents, Turkish authorities concluded that "detained members of IHH were going to fight in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya."44

More Who is behind the "Gaza Freedom Flotilla?"

A Lebanese Israeli Success Story?

I am not prepared to accuse the State of Israel for everything that has not been successful in my life, but it bothers me, as an Israeli-Lebanese youngster, to hear stories in the media that present only the painful angle and ignore the successes.
By Therese Abou-Mrad
My name is Therese Abou-Mrad. I am a student of Political Science and Public Policy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I live in Kiryat Shmona and my mother tongue is Arabic. I have been in the State of Israel now for ten years; on the day that marks the withdrawal from Lebanon, it is possible to congratulate me, or to note my bad luck, because my father was a member of the South Lebanon Army.
About two weeks ago, I saw a report on Channel Two about the withdrawal from Lebanon. Those 12 minutes were packed with emotion. There is no doubt that the members of the SLA have suffered a great deal since May 2000, but I admit that the repeated descriptions about the feelings of bitterness are getting on my nerves.
My father was the former spokesman of the SLA, the governor and commander of a sector in south Lebanon. I grew up in a home that imbued me with the values of loving my homeland and defending my home, those values according to which my father acted in the South Lebanon Army. At the age of 10, I was torn away from my home, from the family and way of life I had known. I had to go to a new country and build a new life in a new society.
I chose to be a regular Israeli citizen. I finished my studies at the Danziger high school in Kiryat Shmona in the year following the Second Lebanon War. In its wake, I decided to do national service in my town. After making a contribution to the country, I went on to study political science at the Hebrew University as part of the program for outstanding students "Atidim - cadets for the public service."
Today, when I am already 21 years old, I refuse to say to the State of Israel: "you owe me something," or "you owe my father something." I have a great deal of criticism about the way in which the withdrawal was carried out by the Israel Defense Forces and the attitude toward the SLA members; there was a betrayal. But at the end of the day, I believe with all my heart that a person is responsible for his future. I chose to overcome the crisis I experienced at such a young age and to continue to grow after that. I have not given up my Lebanese identity for even one moment; I believe fully in the justice of the way my father chose and the decisions he made; but at the same time, I am not prepared to accuse the State of Israel for everything that has not been successful in my life.
During my first years here, I suffered from racism, because children can be very cruel. But when I explained to my friends in junior high why I spoke Arabic, they understood. There is no doubt that the first generation suffered as a result of the withdrawal and its implications, and that they suffered because of the cultural change; and the second generation, those my age, suffered the difficulties of becoming acclimatized and from post trauma.
Nevertheless, it bothers me, as an Israeli-Lebanese youngster, to hear stories in the media that present only the painful angle and ignore the successes. It bothers me to see such melodramatic and one-sided reports that try to play on the viewers' emotions so as to win a little more rating.
There is no doubt that it is important to relate that even today the SLA members do not live happily and peacefully. I grew up without a family since, except for my parents and brothers, everyone remained in Marjayoun. But it is also important to present the success stories of those who adapted to their new life. Moreover, my father and his colleagues fought for their aims, in order to defend their homes; it annoys me to hear former SLA members, as well as Israelis, claim that the SLA was set up in order to defend Israel. The SLA is my father's past, my past, and what made me what I am today.
Rating is important, but when it replaces the presentation of all the aspects, it is like a sharp knife that cuts twice - first it hurts me and my past and then it cuts into the guilt feelings of the Israeli public. That is a shame.