Saturday, June 12, 2010

Canadian MP Libby Davis is anti-Israel, but doesn't know why

As you will see in this video, Canadian MP Libby Davis, an outspoken critic of Israel, has no grasp of basic facts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and is not bothered in the least by her ignorance. Whatever the facts, Israel must be wrong. The interviewer commented:
Last weekend I interviewed NDP MP (a NDP=Leftist Party, MP=Canadian Member of Parliament) Libby Davies at an anti Israel rally that I was filming.  Libby Davies is one of the more prominent critics of Israel in Canada, so I thought I would hear an eloquent argument on why Israel is bad.  However, what I got instead was evasiveness and a misunderstanding of basic facts of history
I first asked he when she believes that the occupation started in 1948 or 1967.  I was hoping to gauge what part of the anti-Israel spectrum she was on.  When she answered 1948, and then started talking about the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, I was stunned.  It seemed to me that she believed that those territories fell under occupation after the war for independence, not the 67 war.  As the interview went on, it became more clear that she did not actually know much about the conflict.  How is it that a leader on a national stage can take such a stand against another country without understanding what she is taking a stand on?  While I may have disagreed with her ideas, I would have had little problem with her if she actually knew about the cause that she was trying to rally people to.  But she had no clue what she was talking about other then parroting a few lines at me.
If the lady actually knew what she was talking about, would it change her opinion? One doubts that that is the case.
Ami Isseroff

Gaza already pledged 7.5 TIMES more US aid per head [ $ 579.95 ] than Haiti [ $77.47 ]

Gaza to receive 7.5 TIMES more US aid per head [ $ 579.95 ] than Haiti [ $77.47 ]

This astounding Haiti-HGaza comparison does not get much media or political or NGO notice.

This story is even much worse than it seems - when you look at both the populations and deaths  involved.

CIA estimate is [ 2009 ] 1,551,859 people in Gaza, but 5,035,536 in Haiti.
 This means that PER HEAD, Gaza gets $579.95 but Haiti only $77.47.

Gaza was thus pledged 7.5 TIMES as much per head after the IDF operation as Haiti after the devastating earthquake.

If you also look at the death toll, Haiti lost an estimated 230,000 on Jan 12, 2010,  which equals US aid of $3,043.48 for every fatality.

 The highest allegation of the Gaza death toll is 1,417 which would equal US aid of $ 635,144.7 per fatality.

For US aid, every Gaza death is worth 209 TIMES as much as one in Haiti.

Gaza lost at most under  0.0913 %  of its population,  but Haiti lost   4.568 %, or  50  times more.

Gaza lost 1 in every  1,095,  but Haiti lost 1 in every  22 people.

But then Haiti is neither Arab nor Muslim.
And no oil-rich tyrants or suicide-bombers need to be appeased.

The UNDP Human Index Rankings also expose the myth of Palestinians as the *wretched of the earth*.  Of 182 areas surveyed, Palestine is 110, in that ranking which looks at not only  income but human well-being in many  fields such as literacy and life expectancy.

In its *Medium Human Development* group, Palestine ranks above countries like  Indonesia at number 111,
 Bolivia at 113,
Vietnam at 116,
Egypt at 123,
South Africa at 129,
Morocco at 130,
 India at 134,
Yemen at 140,
Pakistan at 141,
Haiti at 149,
Sudan at 150,
Tanzania at 151, and
Nigeria at 158.

Palestinian Life Expectancy at 73.3 years is same as EU member Hungary, while their Adult Literacy at 93.8% exceeds Philippines at 93.4%.  As regards Children Under-weight By Age, it is like Russia where 3% of those are under 5, while Palestinian Incoming Remitances are $149 per head, compared with $150 in Israel, $101 for Egypt, $125 for Arab states overall,  and $135 for Ireland.

Odd  priorities at work in  international  aid ?

Tom Carew

Gaza Enjoying More Aid than Quake-Ravaged Haiti -

Jacob Shrybman
Published:  03.18.10, 11:15 / Israel Opinion
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is set to arrive in Israel to visit the Gaza Strip amidst demands to end a so-called siege on the terrorist-controlled territory. Yet one has to ask what siege, or blockade, he is referring to, with 738,576 tons of humanitarian aid being transferred into the Gaza Strip in 2009.
Moreover, the UN has provided $200 million in Gaza Strip aid following a military operation that reportedly claimed 1,300 fatalities amongst a population of less than 1.5 million – meanwhile, notwithstanding plans to raise more funds, it has provided only $10 million to natural disaster victims in Haiti as of the end of January, an earthquake that claimed the lives of over 230,000 people and affected over 3 million. Of course, that is without mentioning that Haitians have not been attacking an innocent nearby civilian population for a near decade.
The international community has bought into a bold-faced lie about an Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip while ignoring the facts on the ground. International humanitarian aid has been flowing rapidly into the Gaza Strip for years and in no way stopped after Operation Cast Lead, as 30,576 aid trucks entered the territory in 2009. In 2009, 4,883 tons of medical equipment entered the Gaza Strip. Just last month, a new CAT scan machine was brought into the Strip.
The world's largest prison?
The Gaza Strip has also been referred to as "the world's largest prison", implying that residents are not being able to exit the territory. Yet in 2009, 10,544 patients and their companions left the Gaza Strip for medical treatment in Israel, and last week alone nearly 500 patients and companions from Gaza entered Israel for treatment.
Meanwhile, US government officials such as Congressmen Keith Ellison and Brian Baird, both of which visited Sderot with the Sderot Media Center, have promoted the idea of a "Gaza Siege." They must be ignoring the fact that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged $900 million in aid to be sent to the Gaza Strip following Operation Cast Lead. A USAID and DOD report calculating the aid sent to the quake-raved Haiti noted that, as of last month, all US government programs provided just over $700 million in aid, nearly $200 million less than to the terrorist-controlled Gaza Strip.
Over a year has passed since Operation Cast Lead and the international community is still buying into the lie about a "Gaza Siege." Meanwhile, the Sderot Media Center has reported that over 320 rockets and mortars have hit Israel in that same year. Indeed, Ban Ki-moon should be visiting Kibbutz Nirim to see where a rocket destroyed a building just last week, instead of helping promote a myth by visiting the Gaza Strip.

Proposal: Arabs should resist Israel by sexual molestation of Jewish women

Egypt lawyer Nagla al Imam has devised a novel way of fighting Israel: Arab men should sexually molest Jewish women to protest the occupaiton, according to her proposal. In the TV report, Al-Imam explains that since there are no laws against sexual harassment in Arab countries, this would not entail any legal consequences. She points out that if it is permitted to do it to Arab women, then it is certainly permitted to do it to Jewish women.
What do you think? Will it advance dialogue and understanding? Does it point out how the international sisterhood of women can advance peace?
Ami Isseroff

Friday, June 11, 2010

Is Iran moving toward regime change?

 Wishful thinking or astute analysis? Take your pick. Eventually, the Iranian regime will crumble. Of course, it might take 500 or a thousand years. Rome, the British empire, the USSR are all gone, and the Mullah regime will eventually be gone too. So in that sense, every day brings us closer to the demise of Iran. However, Bar'el's analysis is probably over-optimistic.
Hitler was a big danger to Germany, but before he was eliminated he managed to do a great deal of damage.
Ami Isseroff

    * Published 01:18 11.06.10
    * Latest update 01:18 11.06.10
As the Iranian regime's control over the country's streets and the universities crumbles, the likelihood of a revolution is steadily increasing.
By Zvi Bar'el
It has been a year since the reelection in Iran of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The international controversy surrounding the Iranian leader suddenly comes down to one question: What has Iran done to the United States, and what has the United States done to Iran over the past year? Has Ahmadinejad laughed in the world's face and has U.S. President Barack Obama saved the world from Iran?
Iran, a country of more than 70 million people, has not become a symbol of evil due to its support for terrorism or because it is run by a religious cleric, or for that matter because it has oppressed liberal political movements, closed newspapers and executed homosexuals. Neither Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, Egypt nor Israel are perfect democracies.
Human rights are not usually a basis for imposing sanctions, and dangerous terrorist movements exist in every Muslim country. Iran's evil image is related to its uranium enrichment program and its denial of the Holocaust.
While the past year has been a year of conflict over the uranium enrichment program, and much less so over Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust and Israel's right to exist, it has been a revolutionary year for the Iranians themselves. True, there has been no actual revolution, but it apparently took a huge election fraud last year to incite the largest protests in the country since the 1979 revolution and criticism of the president from conservative members of parliament. These events reflect a new chapter in Iran.
This is the story of a regime that, after 30 years in power, is facing uncertainty over its continued hold on power due to the Iranian people themselves. It is not some external enemy that has threatened the authorities. It is not the sanctions that the regime has become used to for about 30 years, and which it has managed to evade relatively successfully, or the Arab front suddenly arrayed against the country.
The regime is beginning to be consumed from within, and as a result, Ahmadinejad has become a danger to Iran itself, to such an extent that the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has on several occasions had to contravene the president's decisions and set down a policy that did not square with Ahmadinejad's pretentious aspirations.
This is because the Iranian economy has been wrecked not so much by sanctions as by Ahmadinejad's distorted economic policies. Many things have turned the people against the regime: the huge waste of Iran's monetary reserves, the investment in ostentatious projects that enriched many companies from countries that have signed onto sanctions against Iran, the failure to create jobs for the millions of Iran's unemployed, and the iron fist employed against the president's rivals. This has only strengthened the influence of the Revolutionary Guards in every possible location, especially in response to the events of the past year. This process can be seen from economic projects to military surveillance over the Persian Gulf, from the airport to uranium enrichment.
In the face of the disintegration of control over the streets and the universities, Iran has become a country over the past year where the army is afraid of the people. That is a new phenomenon in Iran in the period since the fall of the Shah, but in no way is it new to Iranian history. During the Shah's rule, a quiet civilian rebellion built up, and the security forces imposed a stranglehold on the civilian population until the people took to the streets and got rid of the regime. It was a matter of 25 years until the Islamic revolution actually occurred, and now the Islamic regime is discovering a similar threat to its existence on those same streets.
Now the question is how long can the regime convince the public of the need for unity in the face of an external enemy. Ahmadinejad will complete his term as president in another three years, and then has to wait four years before he can run again. These four years will be an important period during which the Iranian public must be taught that the disaster called Ahmadinejad cannot be repeated.

America's failrue in Iran: Iran and the 'Freedom Recession'

It is even worse, in a way, than Ajami tells it. After the Shah had left, the U.S. pressured the Iranian army not to crack down on demonstrators.

Iran and the 'Freedom Recession'

Facebook had no answer to the pro-regime vigilantes who ruled the streets. And the U.S. president, who might have helped, stood aside.


Three decades ago, before his final flight to exile, the Shah of Iran had drawn a line: He would not fire on his people. He was a king, he said, and not a dictator. The army had not yet cracked; there were loyalists keen to make a stand against the revolutionary upheaval. But the man at the center of the storm had boarded a plane, with his immediate family, in search of a country that would have him.

It's impossible to fathom such a principled retreat by today's "Supreme Leader," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his vast apparatus of repression and terror. If anything, a year after the fraudulent election last June 12, the theocracy is entrenched and the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij, the regime's murderous paramilitaries, man a political order bereft of mercy and restraint. Iran was not fated to have its "velvet revolution." The Green movement that challenged the ruling apparatus has not been able to carry the day.


Ryan Inzana

Those expecting a quick deliverance for the people of Iran never fully took in the power of the regime and its instruments of repression. This wasn't Leipzig and Budapest and Warsaw and Berlin in 1989 when the Communist despotisms gave way; this was China after Tiananmen Square.

In retrospect, it could be said that the first Islamic Republic (1979-2009) had fallen, and that a second republic, more cruel and unapologetic in its exercise of power, had risen. It wasn't pretty that first republic, but it had pretensions to a measure of pluralism and it gave some sustenance to those in Europe and in American liberal circles who believed that the Iranian revolution was making its way to an accommodation with the international order of states.

In his seminal book "The Anatomy of Revolution," historian Crane Brinton had sketched the progression of revolutions: their outbreak and early euphoria, the destruction of the moderates, and the triumph of the extremists as revolutions devour their own children. In the final phase, there is Thermidor—borrowed from the calendar of the French Revolution—where there is a slow return to less heroic times, and a period of convalescence. Iran was to defy that revolutionary calendar, and it now appears to have entered an apocalyptic phase; a darker night of despotism has settled upon the weary people of Iran.

A schism has opened in Iranian society: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's terrible children have turned on his garden-variety radical children. We can now see the hubris of cyber optimism, the naiveté of thinking that Twitter and Facebook and YouTube would topple a ruthless regime determined to maintain its grip on a restless nation. At the heart of it, this was and remains a brutal fight, a raw assertion of power. Facebook has no answer to the vigilantes of the Basij roaming the streets of Iran looking for prey. Twitter can't overcome the Revolutionary Guard with the wealth and resources granted them by a command economy they have managed to organize to their own preference.

The truth of this Iranian state is straightforward: It is a petrocracy. Oil income sustains it, enables it to defy the opinions of its own people, and of people beyond. In the past year, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his allies in the bureaucracy and parliament have been pushing for a "streamlining" of the country's extensive system of subsidies—in effect for a phasing out of price subsidies for bread, electricity, water and gasoline.

The system in place is inefficient and costly (it takes an estimated 40% of the budget to sustain the subsidies). But it isn't a true desire for reform or economic progress that motivates President Ahmadinejad. What he and his supporters seek is a targeted system of rebates and cash transfers that would give the rulers yet greater powers to reward and to punish. This is the sword of Damocles over the opposition—an administered economy in the hands of the regime and of the Revolutionary Guard.

In the best of worlds, the struggle of Iran's reformers would have still been a difficult undertaking. But Iran's oppositionists labored against the background of a bleak international landscape.

Democratic struggles never occur in isolation. Freedom House tells us that there is a "freedom recession" in today's order of nations. The world-wide economic crisis of 2008 has been a boon to authoritarianism, for pessimism and economic anxiety are the autocrats' allies. Two of the great powers, China and Russia, are openly contemptuous of democratic norms, and China holds before others the success of its model—political autocracy and a crony-run economy.

The autocrats in Beijing and Moscow favor Iran's rulers and partake of a worldview congenial to the regime in Tehran. Neither power cares about the conduct of Iran's rulers at home—so wedded are both Russia and China to the principle of unfettered national sovereignty. Neither power would countenance tough, punishing sanctions on the Iranian regime. The Russians and the Chinese may have gone through the motions of imposing a fourth round of sanctions on Iran, but they did so secure in the knowledge that the Iranians will find a way around these sanctions as they have in the past.

In Iran's larger neighborhood, the despotisms are in the saddle, and the masters of the Iranian regime can point to their alliance with Syria and Hezbollah and Hamas as evidence of their skill, of the drive that made Iran, for all practical purposes, a power of the Mediterranean.

There was once a time, not so long ago, that Turkey's example of a successful, decent democracy could be held up as a rebuke to Iran. But that is no longer the case, as Turkey courts Iran and turns its back on its old American alliance. A regime that can tell its people that it is on the verge of becoming a nuclear power is not one to apologize for the show trials of dissidents or for the reformers hauled off to prison.

Meanwhile, America's new standard-bearer, President Barack Obama, had come to a conviction that the pursuit of freedom in distant lands was not a legitimate American concern. From his first days in office, Mr. Obama signaled his resignation toward the despotisms of the Greater Middle East: He would take them as they come.

For the Iranian regime in particular, Mr. Obama held out the promise of "engagement." This was to be his diplomatic showcase, the purest embodiment of his break with his predecessor's legacy. Full of hubris about the appeal of his own biography to Muslims, Mr. Obama was certain that his diplomacy would work where George W. Bush's hard line toward the theocracy had failed.

Then came last June's election and an outpouring by the Iranian people for representative democracy. The Obama diplomacy was caught flatfooted by the tumult, to say the least. Mr. Obama had bet on Iran's rulers, but a democratic opposition—in our image, speaking the language of democracy and unfurling its banners—was in the streets contesting the rulers' will and the rulers' truth. It was a moment of supreme embarrassment for the United States—a case of both strategic and moral failure on the part of the president.

There is no guarantee that categorical American support would have altered the outcome of the struggle between autocracy and liberty in Iran. But it shall now be part of the narrative of liberty that when Persia rose in the summer of 2009 the steward of American power ducked for cover, and that a president who prided himself on his eloquence couldn't even find the words to tell the forces of liberty that he understood the wellsprings of their revolt.

Mr. Ajami, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, is the author of "The Foreigner's Gift" (Free Press, 2007).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hoax alert "Heavy Weapons on Mavi Marmara"

The item below is being passed around by e-mail. It is a hoax. The film is real, but it shows IDF unloading weapons from an Antigua flagged ship carrying weapons from Iran in November of 2009. Please do not circulate the hoax letter below if you get it. Please reply to the person who sent it to you with the above information. The Middle East situation is not improved by false rumors.
Why does this not appear on CNN or the world news ?

If you had any doubt about what was on the flotilla, here is the video.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Turkey blocks Google to enforce 2007 ban on YouTube

Turkey has blocked Google sites to enforce its ban on YouTube.

Turkey Blocks Google Sites -- Accidently?
Justin Vela
AOL News
ISTANBUL (June 9) -- In a move meant to enforce an ongoing ban on YouTube, Turkey has blocked access to more than 30 Google websites.

Since Friday many of the Internet giant's top sites, including Google Translate, Google Docs, Google Books and Google Analytics, have been blocked or slow to load inside the country, according to the country's Internet Technologies Association, which filed an official complaint to the government.


"We have received reports that some Google applications are unable to be accessed in Turkey," Google said in a statement. "The difficulty accessing some Google services in Turkey appears to be linked to the ongoing ban on YouTube. We are working to get our services back up as soon as possible."

YouTube was banned by a March 2007 court decision after videos accusing Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, of homosexuality were uploaded to the website from Greece. Turks and Greeks traded insults in the comments section beneath the videos until the site was banned, after which a statement appeared saying, "Access to this site has been denied by court order!"

Though YouTube agreed to take down the offending clips, courts have upheld the ban in subsequent years, accusing YouTube of "insulting Turkishness." The same accusation was directed against Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk after he told a Swiss interviewer in 2005 that "30,000 Kurds and a million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it." The criminal charges were later dropped amid international protests.

At the time it was banned, YouTube was the ninth most popular website in Turkey. Other countries that have banned YouTube are Armenia, Iran, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan and China.

Media censorship has a long history in Turkey. The main national publications are considered to be heavily biased toward either government or opposition forces. Journalists face regular attacks and harassment, and 18 Turkish journalists have been slain since 1992.

The Paris-based organization Reporters Without Borders spoke out against the Google block in a recent statement. "It is time the Turkish authorities demonstrated their commitment to free expression by putting an end to the censorship that affects thousands of websites in Turkey and by overhauling Law 5651 on the Internet, which allows this sort of mass blocking of sites."

According to the organization, 3,700 websites are blocked in Turkey.

"I do not want to see Turkey classified as a country that bans YouTube, that has no access to Google," President Abdullah Gul said last week, urging a change in existing laws. Yet the transport and communications minister called Google on Tuesday to demand the company register in the country as a taxpayer, claiming it owed $18.6 million. He said paying that bill would contribute to lifting the ban on Google websites.

Turkey's Press battles for freedom

Turkey's Press battles for freedom 

by Neville Teller

 10 June 2010

Something that is not, perhaps, generally known about Turkey is its vigorous, fearless and forceful news media.  Journalism flourishes in Turkey.  Almost incredibly, more than 30 newspaper titles appear daily in Istanbul.  They range from the xenophobic to the Marxist, the nationalist to the libertarian, not to mention the ethnic dailies that include the established Armenian, Greek and Jewish press as well as the emergent Kurdish-language media.

 Given what we know about the current régime, and the fundamentalist direction in which the country has been led by prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, it may not be too surprising to learn that large parts of the media are virtually constantly at daggers drawn with the government.  The history of Erdogan's AKP régime is besmirched with a constant succession of protests and complaints against the media, backed by efforts to boycott particular titles, by cancelled accreditations and by one draconian tax fine against Turkey's leading media group.

 In 2005, some three years after Erdogan came to power with a massive majority of 363 seats out of a total of 550, the government introduced a series of legislative reforms.   Included in the revised penal code was what has since become known as the "notorious" Article 301.  This provision categorised as crimes: "the denigration of Turkishness, the Republic, and the foundation and institutions of the State," and prescribed draconian penalties for activities so designated.

 Article 301 was perceived both internally and by international observers as a focused attack on freedom of speech in general, and freedom of the Press in particular.  It aroused world-wide condemnation and, following continual pressure, in 2008 the Turkish parliament approved a cosmetic reform of the controversial Article.   The changes did little to widen freedom of speech. 

 Last February a comprehensive report on violations of media freedom was submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg by British MP Andrew McIntosh.  In it he warned that Turkey was in violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights in respect of Article 301, on the grounds that it restricts freedom of expression for members of the media.   In view of this, the report concluded, the European Court of Human Rights was entitled to impose sanctions on Turkey.

 "The Assembly welcomes amendments made to Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code [TCK]," said the report, "but deplores the fact that Turkey has not abolished Article 301. Criminal charges have been brought against many journalists under the slightly revised Article 301, which still violates Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights."

 Between April and June 2009, according to the Turkish monitoring organization Bianet, 125 people, 57 of them journalists, were on trial for their opinions.  In September 2009 there were more than 70 current outstanding cases of journalists and writers facing criminal investigation or trial in Turkey for their opinions. Of those, 27 individuals faced possible criminal prosecution under Article 301.  Meanwhile, only yesterday Harriyet Daily News reported that journalist İrfan Aktan has been sentenced to a 15-month prison term for "making terrorist propaganda" based on his quoting of members of an outlawed organization in a news story about the country's Kurdish issue.

 Shortly after the PACE report appeared, Prime Minister Erdoğan launched an intemperate attack on newspaper columnists.  He accused them of focusing on the negative, even of driving down the Istanbul Stock Exchange.  He demanded that newspaper owners fire columnists straying outside the narrow band of his approval.

 Anthony Mills, press freedom manager for the Vienna-based International Press Institute, remarked after Erdoğan's outburst:

 "Although this is not the first time the prime minister has criticized the media, the comments he made are extremely worrying. Because what he seems to be suggesting, if I understand correctly, is that newspapers get rid of columnists who overstep boundaries that are defined by him."

 As a result of Erdogan's threat, an online petition was initiated by a group of Turkish newpaper columnists. The petition, which included names of columnists from a range of the best-known and most widely-read of the Turkish media, read:

 "We, the undersigned columnists, think that the statement by Prime Minister Erdoğan, saying newspaper bosses must control their columnists, is against the freedom of the press, to which we owe our existence, and generally against the ideal of a 'democratic Turkey,' and we protest this statement."

 But the red-blooded gentlemen of the Turkish press were not content to leave the matter there.  Turkey's leading newspaper group, which publishes the country's major English paper, the Hurriyet Daily News, decided to present a full, free and frank account of the nation's long struggle for press freedom and the problems the Turkish media are currently facing.  And that is exactly what has been appearing every day this week – so far without comment from government circles.  One trusts the fearless journal will be allowed to publish the articles in full.

 Editor Stefan Martens, along with reporters Özgür Öğret and Mustafa Akyol, have produced a diverse, complex and many-faceted portrait of the state of play between Turkish governments past and present, and the press.  As the newspaper itself puts it: "The leitmotif in this long-running media symphony is struggle.  It has never been easy.  It is not so today.  But Turkish journalists are undaunted and still 'pressing for freedom.'"

 The series started on Monday with an historical review: "Nearly two centuries of struggle."  The Tuesday effort was entitled: "Turkey's own 'McCarthyism'", to be followed yesterday by "Majority rule, unruly reporters."  Today the paper presents a piece subtitled: "Drawing up the media battle-lines," and the concluding article, promised for Friday, is to be called: "Democracy when?  Freedom for whom?"

 One cannot help feeling that as long as a press as feisty as this persists in the country, all hope is not lost of Turkey eventually reasserting its post-War of Independence character – basically non-fundamentalist, if not positively secular.

 Whether or not this hope is overly-optimistic, a paragraph that appeared in Hurriyet Daily News three days after the Gaza Freedom Flotilla incident is most unlikely to have been pleasing to Prime Minister Erdogan, or to members of his administration.  Quite remarkably, perhaps, given the atmosphere prevailing at the time, the paper wrote:

 "Our cartoon yesterday, a caricature of a Hassidic Jew holding a Torah dripping with blood, was precisely the kind of casual stereotyping we abhor.  Rushed deadlines are no excuse.  We apologize for the offense, as does our cartoonist Turgay Karadağ.  It is an offense we will not repeat."

Report "No humanitarian aid on "humanitarian" MAvi Marmara ship"

The European-Israeli Missing Peace organization claims that IDF Spokesman confirms that IDF has found only personal effects and no humanitarian aid of any kind on the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara, that was boarded by Shayetet 13. Below is the full text of their press release and accompanying documentation.

Press release

 Jerusalem June 9 2010

 Turkish Ship Mavi Marmara did not have any humanitarian cargo aboard



A member of our Missing Peace team who was yesterday at the Tzrifin IDF base where part of the cargo of the Free Gaza ships is stored, reported the following to our office,
She confirmed that the head of the logistics department of the Israeli Defense Ministry informed those present, that there was no humanitarian aid (cargo) on the Mavi Marmara.
The logistics department is in charge with unloading and repacking the humanitarian aid.  She said that only money and personal belongings were found on the ship.
Attached you will find a full report with a breakdown of the cargo found on the flotilla ships. The information in this report is confirmed by an Israeli official.
Confirmation details can be obtained at our office untill 12.00 PM and from tomorrow 7.30 AM Israeli time
Yochanan Visser
Director Missing Peace Office
tel: 00972546300116 or 0097229309182


Humanitarian aid on the Flotilla


On June 7 2010 the Israeli Defense Ministry gave a tour for the media at the Tzrifin army base. A member of Missing Peace joined the tour which was dealing with the humanitarian aid found on one of the flotilla ships. The Defense Ministry has unloaded and stored the cargo of the ships on this army base after Hamas refused to allow the goods into Gaza

In this report we like to focus on the humanitarian aid issue. This is something that seems to have gotten "lost" in the midst of the discussions about the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish Ship were nine people were killed in a fight between a terrorist militia of the Turkish IHH and the IDF.

The tour at Tzrifin

Participating in the tour were many local journalists, as well as foreign journalists such as FOX news Walla, and Swiss Radio.

After a security briefing the journalists got into their cars and drove in a convoy deep into the army base. Once they had parked and gotten out of the cars they faced a huge open area with lots of objects and equipment on the right side. On the left side was a huge closed storage area.                                                                                                                             The journalists were briefed by the head of the Logistical Department from the Defense Ministry, who is in charge of the flotilla cargo. As of June 7 all the equipment and things stored in Tzrifin were from only from one of the flotilla ships, named "Defne Y".  Meanwhile the unloading of the other ships has been almost completed.

The Defense Ministry spokesman told the reporters that the Ashdod port is under jurisdiction of the Defense Ministry. At the time they had unloaded 1 out of 3 flotilla ships, and loaded 45 trucks with humanitarian aid

Of these trucks, 8 were sent to the Kerem Shalom crossing, and the rest of the trucks were unloaded in Tzrifin. At the Kerem Shalom crossing they unloaded 300 electric wheel-chairs. Through this crossing 80-100 trucks transfer humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip on a daily basis. The cargo with the wheel-chairs is waiting to be picked up by whoever is taking responsibility for it. So far no one claims responsibility and it's still waiting in storage

The  normal modus operandi is that COGAT is in touch with the Palestinian Authority Civil Committee, which sits in Gaza, and with various international organizations (UN, Red Cross etc.).  Those organizations coordinate who will pick up the aid. If for example the aid is for special humanitarian aid projects of the UNRWA, then UNRWA representatives are responsible for going to the crossing and picking up the aid. If it's for private PA businesses, then the PA is responsible for the picking up of the goods. Israel, the PA and International organizations are in constant contact and cooperation.

The Aid

Among the aid are: electric wheel chairs, medical equipment (medicines, hospital equipment: beds and mattresses [60 tons]), clothing, carpets, toys, school bags, playground equipment, cement, iron, and other construction materials.

A breakdown of the cargo found on the ships shows that of the six ships of the flotilla only three had humanitarian aid aboard:

Gaza ship: building materials, cement, iron – The ship has not been fully unloaded.

Sofi ship:  building materials, iron

Defne Y ship: clothing, humanitarian aid (roughly 40 trucks worth), and games, building materials, wheelchairs.

The "Marmara": carried only passengers and their personal belongings. Many passengers carried large sums of money on their body. There was no Humanitarian aid on this ship.


The other two ships did not carry humanitarian aid as well


The humanitarian aid on all the ships was not packaged and not placed on the ship in an organized way, as one would expect from an organized humanitarian aid cargo. Everything was in individual units thrown on to a pile on the ships. This was not only unsafe, but it also caused a lot of damage to the objects, since the weight crushed a lot of things and since a lot of the things were just thrown on board. To deal with the cargo on the ships, here are the stages that it must undergo by Israel:

1.    Israel scans all the cargo and sifts out the humanitarian aid. The aid is then placed on trucks.

2.    The aid goes through x-ray machines to see that everything is indeed safe.

3.    Since nothing was packaged and organized, Israel did this.

This entire procedure costs a lot of time and a lot of money.

The handling of the aid

When asked how many tons of aid was on all the ships, the spokesman said they don't know yet, since the only way one can weigh something is, if it's packaged, compressed and sealed. He showed a stack of wood boxes with labels and said that this was done by Israel and if all the aid would have been like this then they could have easily weighed it all and said how many tons of aid there is.

In regards to the story about the electric wheel-chairs, Hamas claims that Israel took out all the wheel-chair batteries so that they can't be used by the people. The spokesman said that first of all, Hamas can't know what Israel is doing because they are not allowing the aid into the Strip. Secondly, one needs to take out the batteries from the wheel chairs because if they are stored for a long time in the heat with the batteries, the batteries get ruined. He then took the journalists to the inside storage space, which is kept cool. There all the batteries were neatly placed in boxes all lined up. He said that the minute they will get a green light from Gaza, Israel can transfer everything into the Strip. Then the batteries will be transferred together with the chairs.

The batteries for the electric wheel chairs are gel batteries. Hamas says that Israel does not allow the entry of batteries into the Gaza Strip. Asked what the problem is with batteries the spokesman said the problem is not with gel but with liquid batteries.  This is because 1 liter of this battery liquid can produce 50 kilos of nitroglycerin which is an active ingredient in the manufacture of explosives, specifically dynamite.


Expired and worn goods

Medicine: Out of the 400 tons of humanitarian aid on the ship only about 4 tons was medicine and medical equipment. A Japanese reporter who visits Gaza regularly, said that what is needed in Gaza is hospital/medical equipment and medicine. He said that if the flotilla would have been really concerned about what is needed in Gaza, they would have made sure to send more medical things. Furthermore, most of the medicine was expired. Medicines were shown whose expiration date was Sept. 2009. The medicines were stored in a separate cooled in-door storage space.

Clothing and shoes: most of the clothes and shoes were so worn that they cannot be used. Many of the shoes had holes and the shoe soles were half broken; many of the clothes were torn. They were private donations and were just thrown on to the ship.

Only 1/3 of the ship's cargo was new equipment.

Cement and other construction materials: all the construction materials on the ships are waiting for project approvals in the Gaza Strip. The minute a specific humanitarian project is approved the construction material is allowed into the Strip. For example 151 housing units of the UNRWA have been approved and construction material will be transferred for it.

Hamas rejects the Humanitarian Aid                                                                  Hamas has rejected the transfer of the humanitarian aid from the flotilla into the Gaza Strip. The first reason is that it does not want it to pass through Israel. The second reason is that it says it is waiting for Turkey to decide for who the aid was meant. The third reason is that they want to have everything found on the ships.

Politics and not humanitarian action                                                                           Israel is in contact with the PA and with International authorities and is waiting to hear from them how to proceed. Yesterday the Japanese reporter was in Gaza to find out exactly who these international authorities are.  He spoke with the PA civil-committee about this issue. They said that it is the responsibility of UNRWA. Then he called UNRWA and he was told that they are not in contact with Israel and that it is not in their power to decide, but that it is the responsibility of UNSCO.

UNRWA also said that they received a message from Hamas telling them that they should not allow any humanitarian aid from the flotilla to enter the Gaza Strip.  UNSCO also said that they are not in charge of the flotilla aid. They said that UNRWA deals with it, when confronted with the UNRWA reference to them, the man on the phone laughed and said this is not the case.

Next was COGAT, they first refused to give specific names and said "you can imagine who these international authorities are". When pressed they said they are in touch with UNRWA, the Red Cross and "other powerful players such as the USA", The COGAT official did not want to get more specific because he did not want to blame any particular organization until things are sorted out.  The International Red Cross in Gaza told that they have their own projects and bring in their own aid.

They said they have nothing to do with the flotilla. When asked if they have met with Hamas about the flotilla, IRC said that they have had discussions with Hamas who told them not to accept any of the aid. Hamas declared that they have conditions that they want to have met before allowing the humanitarian aid to enter the Strip.

The Japanese journalist, who is personally familiar with Gaza and with Hamas, said that this whole incident has turned from a humanitarian into a political issue. He said that if there is a real need for humanitarian aid in Gaza then everyone would work quickly to allow the entry of the aid into the Strip. Furthermore he said that if in Africa they need food, no one waits to deliver it.


Syrian Government Daily: U.S. Responsible for All Modern World's Problems

Special Dispatch|3013| June 9, 2010
Syria/U.S. and the Arab and Muslim World


June 9, 2010 Special Dispatch No.3013
MEMRI: Columnist in Syrian Government Daily 'Al-Thawra': U.S. Responsible for All Modern World's Problems; North Korea Has the Right to Maintain Any and All Means of Deterrence to Defend Itself Against U.S. Threats to Its Security

In an article published in the Syrian government daily Al-Thawra, columnist Dr. Ibrahim Zu'ayr upheld North Korea's right to possess any and all means of deterrence in order to defend itself against U.S. threats to its security, while blaming the U.S. for all the world's problems. It should be noted that Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Mu'allem met recently with North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Yong-Il to discuss strengthening relations between their two countries.[1]
Following are excerpts from Zu'ayr's article:

The North Korean People Have Suffered Greatly from the American and International Blockade
"The [situation in] the Korean Peninsula is dangerously tense once again, due to groundless accusations that Democratic [North] Korea is responsible for the sinking of the South Korean ship Cheonan. Until now, Seoul has not allowed a team from Democratic Korea to assess the situation, in order to uncover the truth and find out who was actually responsible for sinking the Cheonan. This refusal, which is unjustified [both] legally and morally, gives Pyongyang reason to doubt the results of the international team's investigation, which is inclined toward South Korea...
"America's financial and military support of South Korea has turned the southern part of Korea into a permanent American military base which Washington has always used against liberation movements in the Indo-Chinese region, against the former U.S.S.R., and against revolutionary movements opposed to imperialism. The U.S. never hesitated to exploit any incident, even if it were accidental, or to fabricate incidents in order to justify intensifying the pressure and blockade of Democratic Korea – and this with an aim to smother it financially and to starve its people, who are suffering greatly from the exploitative American and international blockade that has been imposed against [North Korea] for more than six months."
New U.S. Fabrications Are Likely a Response to North Korea's Resistance to the U.S. Will to Subdue and Subordinate It
"It is conceivable that the newly 'fabricated' accusations against Democratic Korea are the result of its opposition to the U.S. Despite all of the extreme measures the U.S. has taken and the fierce hostility [it has shown towards] Democratic Korea, it did not succeed in subduing and subordinating it to its will so that both parts of the Korean Peninsula, North and South, would fall under its rule, as part of its overall policy of world domination.
"The danger lies in the fact that President Obama was quick to instruct the American military – even before the fundamentally distorted investigation was complete – to work closely with the South Korean military in defending South Korea, which [in the first place] had started accusing, threatening, and punishing Democratic Korea."
The U.S. Is Sinking in a Quagmire of Incredibility and Lies
"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says one thing [while] her country does another, as it sinks in a quagmire of incredibility and lies vis-à-vis the international community. It did not ask itself how it could reconcile its efforts to avoid any escalation of the tense situation in the Korean Peninsula – as it claims [to be doing] – with the order given to the American military there to assist South Korea as well as the order given to the [U.S.] government to reassess its policy toward Democratic Korea and to support new sanctions against it... and threaten it with war. Moreover, [the fact that] the accusation against North Korea [for sinking the Cheonan] was turned over to the Security Council, in order to extort from it a resolution condemnatory of Democratic Korea, is likely to pave the way for new sanctions against the latter country – which is already under blockade – and may even serve as pretext for a military offense by combined U.S. and South Korean [forces] against Pyongyang."
The U.S. Fans the Flames of Tensions Worldwide, Just As It Has in the Korean Peninsula
"The false accusations and threats against Democratic Korea are no different from America's threats against Iran and Israel's threats against the resistance and Syria, or from the creation of a variety of fabricated accusations intended to enlist as great a number as possible of countries to oppose those countries which refuse to relinquish their legitimate rights, independence, and national sovereignty [i.e. Democratic Korea, Iran, Syria, and the resistance]  which is under constant threat, has the right to maintain any and all means of deterrence in order to defend itself. It has the right to threaten to respond to any military provocation on the part of South Korea, [coming] under orders from Washington, which is responsible for all of the modern world's problems – destruction, wars, and the occupation of pacifist countries. It is because of this policy, which is always in favor of the aggressive forces, that the U.S. fans the flames of tensions worldwide, just as in the case of the Korean Peninsula."[2]


[1] SANA (Syria), June 7, 2010.
[2] Al-Thawra (Syria), May 28, 2010.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Helen Thomas tells us what it is really all about

Let's face it. Helen Thomas spoke the truth, and she has suffered for her frankness. The entire debate regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the public interest, would be much better served if those who support the Hamas were all as frank as this intrepid old lady.

Veteran reporter Helen Thomas uttered only a few words. She said that Jews should ""get the hell out of Palestine" and go home to "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else."

It is an elegant, truthful, concise and accurate summary of the ideology and goals of the "humanitarians" who support the cause of the Hamas. It cut through the reams of self-righteous and evasive obfuscation about the real goals of the anti-Israel and anti-Zionist campaign. This is what it is really all about. Boycotts, blockades, apartheid slogans, negotiations, complaints based on bogus international "legitimacy" are all a smokescreen to cover up that simple goal.

Thomas's utterance was only a part of the truth perhaps, because the real whole truth is too unpalatable for decent people to swallow. The unknown voice on the Turkish "freedom flotilla" who told the Israel Navy, "Shut up! Go back to Auschwitz!" was probably closer to the actual spirit of these "humanitarians." The idea is about the same though.

Thomas illustrated, as no Jewish spokesperson could have done, the only really important issue in the anti-Israel campaign in general, and the campaign for Hamas specifically. Who and what is being supported in the name of peace and humanitarianism? The Hamas are as truthful as Helen Thomas. They write in their charter that their goal is the physical annihilation of the Jewish people, to fulfill the "words of the prophet." A flotilla of fanatics screaming "Khaibar Khaibar 0 Jews! The army of Muhammad is approaching" came to aid the Hamas. Demonstrators for the wonderful cause carry signs that say "I hate Juice" and scream "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas." All this is somehow prettified and swept under the rug, to spin the cause of Hamas into a humanitarian crusade.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Militant Islam: Questions for the West

by Tarek Heggy

Militant Islam: Questions for the West

The voices now raised in the West in general -- and in the United States in particular -- to warn against the menace of "militant Islam" would do well to ask themselves a number of questions:

  • Who shut their eyes for close to thirty years to a general climate which allowed the militant model of Islam to spread unchecked -- and forced the civilized, humanistic Turkish-Egyptian model to retreat in disarray as economic conditions and educational institutions declined, leaving the way open to an invasion by the militant model? Who are today bemoaning the way things have turned out?

  • Has the West only now realized that there is no room for freedom, democracy, human rights, women's rights or civil rights in the militant model of Islam? Did it really believe this model to be a shining example of these noble humanistic values in the nineteen sixties, seventies and eighties?

  • Who in the nineteen fifties and perhaps even earlier invented the dangerous game of using political Islam to create a strategic balance with socialism? (In the seventies, Egypt played the same game with disastrous consequences.)

  • Why is the dossier of the honeymoon between the United States and the Afghan mujahedeen not being opened? Or, for that matter, the chapter of the close links which political Islam in pre-revolutionary Iran enjoyed with the West, particularly France? And, before that, the cozy relations between political Islam in Egypt and Britain, the occupying power at the time, particularly during the two terms of the Mohamed Mahmoud government (1928 and 1938)?

Until the 1940s, what I call Egyptian Islam stood as a unique example of tolerance and flexibility. Noted for its acceptance of the Other, it was not pathologically obsessed with the fine print of scripture. While recognizing the divine character of the prophetically revealed laws, it also recognized that some of their provisions were formulated in the context of a different time, place and circumstances. Divinity was reserved for religion and did not extend to how mortals understood or chose to interpret its strictures. It was tacitly understood that there is a subjective dimension to the interpretation of any text, and that interpretation is necessarily colored by the interpreter's cultural formation, knowledge and intellectual abilities.

While teaching law and studying Islamic jurisprudence for over twenty years, I developed a strong aversion for those I call "worshippers of the word" and "prisoners of tradition," and a profound admiration for the proponents of reason, most notably, Ibn Rushd (Averroes), whose championship of the primacy of reason was adopted by Europe and rejected by the Muslim world.

Europe's gain was our loss: in turning our backs on Ibn Rushd, we lost a historic opportunity for development. A close reading of all Ibn Taymeya's works, as well as the works of his disciples, only deepened my aversion towards this trend and my admiration for liberal thinkers who chose the path of reason over that of dogma.

Why had the Muslims had chosen to follow the line advocated by Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, the proponent of orthodoxy and tradition for whom knowledge meant only knowledge of religion and who cancelled the role of the mind altogether by denying the possibility of acquiring knowledge through intuition, over the line advocated by Ibn Rushd, who upheld the primacy of reason and sowed the seeds of a renaissance we chose not to reap? Why were Al-Ghazali's ideas so readily accepted while Ibn Rushd's were rejected? The answer can probably be summed up in one word: despotism.

At a time when despotism in our part of the world was at its height, it is not surprising that Muslim rulers should have found Al-Ghazali's ideas more appealing than those of Ibn Rushd. The orthodox line was also more appealing to their subjects who, under the yoke of tyranny, found it safer and less demanding to go along with the views of those who required nothing more from them than a suspension of their critical faculties.

In Europe, where the forces of enlightenment were locked in a confrontation with the clericalism that stifled intellectual initiative and rational thought, despotism was in retreat.

This explains why, in the thirteenth century, a prestigious center of learning like the University of Paris supported the ideas of the Arab Muslim Ibn Rushd over those of the European Christian Thomas Aquinas, the scholastic philosopher famous for his two-swords doctrine in which defending the common weal against external enemies is incompatible with the duties of a cleric, and that the state should be the author and executor of human law.

Meanwhile, the Muslim world continued to be ruled by despots who brooked no challenge to their authority, and an equally despotic religious establishment which decried the use of reason and demanded blind adherence to the authority of tradition. Closely linked as to methods, motivations and goals, these two factors created an atmosphere that was inimical to the unhindered pursuit of knowledge.

Still, things were not only either black or white. True, the Muslims lost a historic opportunity to use Ibn Rushd's ideas as a springboard that could have placed them on a path similar to the one which took Europe from the obscurantist thinking of the thirteenth century to the vigorous intellectual climate which encourages debate, free thinking, general freedoms and creativity in literature, art and science. But it is also true that Muslims have known two "Islams," as it were -- one that can be described as the Turkish-Egyptian model, and one as the Bedouin model.

While the former cannot claim to have attained the level of enlightenment, progressive thinking and freedom that characterizes the ideas of Ibn Rushd, it was nevertheless a gentle and tolerant Islam that could, and did, coexist with others. Mon-Muslims living in the Ottoman Empire enjoyed more protection than any other minority living anywhere else in the world at the time. Under the Ottomans, Christians of the Levant and Jews in Arab countries lived in conditions very similar to the ones in which the Muslim subjects of the empire were living. Even when they were persecuted by certain rulers, like Al-Hakem bi Amr Allah, it was part of a general policy that made no distinction between non-Muslims and Muslims. Although this model of Islam can in no way be described as secular, it adopted an enlightened approach to religion, dealing with it as a system of spiritual beliefs rather than as a system that ruled all aspects of life and governed the affairs of society.

Meanwhile, an altogether different model of Islam was taking shape among geographically isolated communities living far from coastlines and hence from exposure to the outside world. Their insularity provided an ideal breeding ground for the ideas of Ibn Taymema, Ibn Qaym Al-Juzeya and, towards the end of the eighteenth century, those of Mohamed bin Abdul Wahab. A collision between the two models of Islam was inevitable, and, in the second decade of the nineteenth century, they confronted one another on the field of battle.

Under the command of Mohamed Ali's son, Tousson, then of his other son, Ibrahim, arguably the greatest of the Egyptian ruler's sons, the Egyptian army, and with it, the more enlightened Turkish-Egyptian model of Islam, emerged victorious.

But the years that followed were not kind to Turkey and Egypt. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I brought an end to Turkey's ascendancy, while Egypt's influence receded as its economy and educational system declined.

Meanwhile, the proponents of the model of Islam which demanded a strict adherence to the letter of scripture and slammed the door shut in the face of rationality, suddenly found themselves in control of vast wealth unprecedented in history. This gave them an enormous edge over their moderate rivals and allowed them to extend their influence into the traditional strongholds of the Turkish-Egyptian model of Islam, where they waged a systematic campaign to co-opt establishment personalities and institutions.

The success of this campaign found its most salient expression in the emergence of fanatical movements like the Taliban, who interpret the doctrines of religion on the basis of tradition alone and impose a scholastic, doctrinal brand of Islam that leaves no room for the exercise of reason.

This sorry state of affairs could have been avoided if the majority of Muslims had supported Ibn Rushd or if conditions had not forced the retreat of the Turkish-Egyptian model.

The critical mind, which is the pride of civilized humanity, imposes an obligation on all of us to answer those questions. It also requires all parties to assume a share of the responsibility for what happened and is continuing to happen. It requires us, further, to look closely into the two models of Islam referred to and ask ourselves which is more capable of joining the march of civilization and living in harmony with the requirements of the age, without abandoning the positive features of our cultural specificity.

Is it the model engendered by the school of traditionalists, victims of their geographical isolation behind high sand dunes to be preferred, or the moderate, tolerant, liberal Turkish-Egyptian model?

Better still, could we not still adopt the enlightened model of Ibn Rushd, which helped Western civilization move out of the Dark Ages into the Enlightenment, when at this time we have chosen to adopt the thinking of his opponents, thereby allowing ourselves to fall prey to a culture which favors superstition, myths, ignorance and a rabid militancy over education, work, development and brotherhood?