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Obama Administration Threatens to Jail 87-year-old Holocaust Survivor, Others – Updated X 2

10:17 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

In an announcement many will find stunning, the Obama administration has upped its threat level to Americans participating in the 2011 Gaza relief flotilla:

The U.S. State Department said Friday that attempts to break the blockade are “irresponsible and provocative” and that Israel has well-established means of delivering assistance to the Palestinian residents of Gaza. It noted that the territory is run by the militant Hamas group, a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization, and that Americans providing support to it are subject to fines and jail.

The Americans “providing support” include:

Hedi Epstein, an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor

Alice Walker, beloved poet, writer and Pulitzer Prize winner

Ray McGovern, former CIA intelligence expert and staff member for seven presidents

Col. Ann Wright, 1997 recipient of the U.S. State Department’s Award for Heroism

Medea Benjamin, perhaps America’s most prominent peace activist

and over 30 other Americans.

Here’s a link to the U.S. State Department’s June 22nd warning in its entirety. Here is the pertinent part of the Wednesday announcement regarding flotilla participants:

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) strictly controls the crossing points between Israel and the Gaza Strip. The security environment within Gaza, including its border with Egypt and its seacoast, is dangerous and volatile. U.S. citizens are advised against traveling to Gaza by any means, including via sea. Previous attempts to enter Gaza by sea have been stopped by Israeli naval vessels and resulted in the injury, death, arrest, and deportation of U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens participating in any effort to reach Gaza by sea should understand that they may face arrest, prosecution, and deportation by the Government of Israel. The Government of Israel has announced its intention to seek ten-year travel bans to Israel for anyone participating in an attempt to enter Gaza by sea. On May 31, 2010, nine people were killed, including one U.S. citizen, in such an attempt. The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem are not able to provide consular assistance in Gaza or on the high seas or coastal waters.

From December 27, 2008, through January 17, 2009, Israel conducted a military operation in Gaza. Israel and Hamas, a State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization that violently seized power in Gaza in June 2007, declared separate truces to end the fighting. Small clashes continue to occur along the boundary of the Gaza Strip. Rockets and mortars are still fired into Israel from Gaza, and Israel continues to conduct military operations inside Gaza, including airstrikes. Israel has also declared an exclusion zone inside Gaza along its boundary with Israel and has taken lethal measures against individuals who enter it.

The State Department web site has no link to the Friday announcement yet.  I’ll post it when it appears.

Updated – Saturday early morning:

On facebook, Max Blumenthal has linked to an article by his colleague Joseph Dana.  Dana reports the Greeks are responding to safety complaints made against three of the 10 boats scheduled to leave Greek waters toward Gaza.  The MV Audacity of Hope is one of the three:

Early this morning, I discovered that a ‘private compliant’ had been filed against the US boat to Gaza. The compliant, it is still unclear who filed it, stated that the US boat to Gaza is not ’sea worthy’ and requires a detailed inspection.The harbor master where the boat is in port has declared that until the compliant is resolved the boat is not permitted to leave. Currently, lawyers representing the US boat are looking into the origins of the compliant and weather it was filed as a result of Israeli economic or diplomatic pressure on the Greek government. The boat is US flagged and registered in the United States.

10 ships are expected to sail as part of the Gaza aid flotilla. Currently three ships, including the US boat, have had complaints levied against them.  US boat organizers believe that Greece will attempt to delay the ships indefinitely by using a serious of bureaucratic measures such as endless safety checks and cargo inspections. Despite the setbacks, organizers are continuing with their nonviolence and safety training. They are hopeful that the Greek government will allow the ships to sail next week as initially planned.


Updated – Saturday Afternoon:

ATHENS  – A group suspected of being linked with the Israeli foreign intelligence agency the Mossad was reported to have tried to thwart the sailing of a Greek ship slated to join the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla II due to set sail sometime next week.

The elements tried to sabotage the ship’s engine, but a crew discovered the men while checking the equipment, Quds Press said, quoting sources from the flotilla’s organizing body, on Saturday. The sources added that the men fled the scene.

Since the incident, participants have been taking turns watching guard in anticipation of another shot at foiling the mission to deliver much needed humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

The flotilla, which will include some 15 ships and hundreds of notable passengers, has insisted on heading for the Strip despite Israel’s open threats to use military force to stop the ships short before landing at the said destination.

ElBaradei – If Israel Again Attacks Gaza, Egypt Might Declare a State of War

7:36 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

One Israeli government after another seems to never fail to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.  The latest examples:

1.  Prime Minister Netanyahu, when apprised that Judge Goldstone had written an op-ed for the U.S. media that gave the Israeli Armed Forces and government credit for some of their post-Gaza invasion investigatory work, decided to kick Goldstone in the nuts, demanding that the U.N. join him in the bullying:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the United Nations on Saturday to retract the Goldstone Report following the regret expressed by former jurist Richard Goldstone regarding the damning report on alleged Israeli war crimes during the Gaza war.

“Everything that we said proved to be true,” said Netanyahu. “Israel did not intentionally target civilians and it has proper investigatory bodies. In contrast, Hamas intentionally directed strikes toward innocent civilians and did not conduct any kind of probe.”

Meanwhile, the other participants in the U.N. report bearing the highly respected judge’s name, stand wholly by the report.  The Israeli (and American) commentators who mischaracterized Goldstone’s essay could have praised the esteemed jurist.  They piled on instead.

Missed opportunity number one.

2.  IDF Reserve General Amos Gilad, who is also chief of Israel’s diplomatic-security bureau, told an Israeli television audience, regarding the expected wave of full recognitions this late summer and fall, of a Palestinian state, based on the pre-June 1967 borders:

“Israel’s isolation in September, the beginning of the isolation, will be no less severe than war,” Gilad told participants in a private session.

The central issue facing Netanyahu come September was whether Israel should enter “a partnership for peace [with the Palestinians] and spare itself international pressure or go head to head with them,” said Gilad, hinting that the ongoing freeze in the peace process was likely to bring about a third Intifada.

“If you don’t enter negotiations, you gain stability, but also international isolation,” said Gilad. “The isolation will legitimize the clashes that could erupt from a coincidental event or incident that with Twitter and Facebook could spark an entire fire.”

Gilad’s remarks were similar to those made by Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently in an address to the National Security Institute in Tel Aviv. Barak warned then that a “diplomatic tsunami” would wash over Israel should the world recognize a Palestinian state according to 1967 borders in September.

Barak emphasized in that address that Israel must develop its own political initiative to end the conflict in order to prevent disaster. [emphasis added]

The political initiative will not happen.  Israeli coalition politics precludes it.

Missed opportunity number two.

3.  Campaigning for the Egyptian presidency, ex-head of the International Atomic Energy  Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, responding to questions about past Egyptian intransigence in the face of Israeli military actions along its border with Egypt, stated ““if Israel attacked Gaza we would declare war against the Zionist regime.”

And ElBaradei is the moderate in the race.  Here’s more:

“In case of any future Israeli attack on Gaza – as the next president of Egypt – I will open the Rafah border crossing and will consider different ways to implement the joint Arab defense agreement.”

He also stated that “Israel controls Palestinian soil” adding that that “there has been no tangible breakthrough in reconciliation process because of the imbalance of power in the region – a situation that creates a kind of one way peace.”

Will Israel fail to deal intelligently with the emerging dynamics of the 2011 race for the Egyptian presidency?  Conciliation and earnest efforts toward peace with a true Palestinian state seem beyond the ken of anyone who has obtained power at the national level in Israel.

This will be missed opportunity number three.

4.  The combination of another flotilla headed to Gaza next month, along with a completely new dynamic at play along the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, seems to point toward the Israelis having to deal rationally with the blockade runners, rather than criminally, as they did in 2010, particularly with the MV Mavi Marmara.

All the Israelis had to do to stop the medium-sized cruise ship was to channel the vessel toward the gap between two oceangoing tug boats of at least 10,000 HP, with a cable or cables slung underwater between them.  The cables could have had a lot of chicken wire wrapped around them.  The cables and wire would have snagged the running gear of the Mavi Marmara, causing it to halt in position until the gear was unfouled, which probably would have required a return to a friendly port.  It would have broken the back of the flotilla, and shown the world a more sensible Israeli military, instead of the buffonish murderers we actually were able to see.

The methods of attack upon the flotilla were stupid, a missed opportunity.  Will the Israelis once again miss an opportunity to find international goodwill in their response to the 2011 flotillas?

What do you think?