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March 17, 2012: Harbinger of the American Spring?

11:38 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

NYC Cop Riot - March 17, 2012

I got back from a St. Patrick’s Day Party and started watching the live stream of the police riot in New York City, as they cracked down on the six-month anniversary celebration of Occupy Wall Street.  I was watching people walking, singing, dancing and generally being civil, if loud, when the cops started rioting.

I’ve been in NYC on St. Patrick’s Day.  I’ve watched the parade stream by from grassy knolls in southeast Central Park. I watched the parade proudly march by just a short time before September 11th, 2001.  Hundreds of the cops and firefighters in that parade died that September day.

I’ve also watched the partying crowds drift away from that parade.  Hundreds and hundreds of young drunks, yelling at people,  breaking windows and pissing into trash cans over-filled with liquor bottles.

When the cops intervened in those scenes, they didn’t fucking go breaking heads through bank windows.  They cajoled, elbowed or cuffed people, with an equal combination of firmness and professionalism.

That seems to largely be gone in the NYPD of 2012.  And the way they came down hard this evening indicates that they are preparing to try to stifle the re-emergence of OWS in the rapidly warming weather. Read the rest of this entry →

Why Join Firedoglake? Because It Is the Warmest, Most Courageous On-Line Community I Know Of

12:20 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

fire - dog - lake - labtop

fire – dog – lake – labtop

It was early 2005.  The Iraq War was approaching its worst stage.  I was spending more time on-line, reading the news articles one couldn’t (and still cannot) find in the traditional media.  Political blogs were blossoming up like mushrooms after a warm Autumn rain.

One day, reading an article at Majikthise, one of the few blogs where I would occasionally comment, I followed a link to a blog with a strange name – firedoglake.  The next day, some other blog linked to an article here.  I bookmarked the site and started reading it regularly.

Soon, I decided to comment here.  It was risky, as I didn’t feel very knowledgeable on the issue at hand – can’t remember what it was – but felt I might add a little.  Within a few minutes, my comment was greeted by Jane Hamsher, who welcomed me, Edward Teller.

The blog was new then, and like a lot of lefty or lefty-ish sites then, it was much smaller, a pure labor of love by Hamsher and Christy Hardin Smith.  firedoglake was the first blog outside of Alaska where I began to regularly write comments.  I began to make a fair number of friends here.

As the campaigns in 2006 began to warm up and get going, I was able to introduce Diane Benson, the very progressive Alaska civil rights leader, running against Rep. Don Young, to a wider national audience through comments here, and articles at Down With Tyranny! Feedback on my comments here encouraged me as a writer, and helped me improve the way I organized essays.  Other commenters at “the lake” encouraged me to start my own blog, which I did in the Fall of 2007. Read the rest of this entry →

Occupy Anchorage Is Hanging in There

1:59 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Occupy Anchorage tents - January 7th, 2012

After a talk with one of my friends at firedoglake this afternoon, I visited the Occupy Anchorage encampment this (Saturday) evening.  All I can say after visiting it is that two tents and some signs are there.  It was almost 11:00 pm, so I didn’t find any occupiers present.  The signs indicate upcoming events.

The setting for Occupy Anchorage is very central.  It is located right next to the Anchorage Center for the Performing Arts, in what is known as Town Square Park.  Right now, there is an ice skating rink and a series of ice sculptures in-the-making, within 20 feet of the Occupy Anchorage space.  Here’s one of the ice sculptures.  It is located right where Occupy Anchorage had tables with free food, educational material and warm items back in September and October. Read the rest of this entry →

No Credit to Wikileaks or Manning in TIME Magazine’s Person-of-the-Year Tribute to Protesters

3:17 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The Protester - Bradley Manning

No credit to Wikileaks.

No mention of or tribute to Julian Assange, who was kept out of the spotlight at TIME last year, even though he was readers’ choice for Person of the Year.

No mention of Bradley Manning, whose detainment for uncovering important aspects of why people are so outraged, begins a new stage tomorrow.

No mention of the thousands of peaceful Palestinian protesters, who have been protesting Occupation for generations now.

As good as TIME‘s long article on worldwide protest is – and the article is excellent in what it does cover – it skims over Bahreini protests, prefers to have a sidebar story on an Athenian “protest dog,” rather than show any of the mutilated or dead Palestinian protesters, and certainly does not show the hundreds of people outside of Quantico last spring, or the hundreds being arrested outside the White House in the protests.

How important Julian Assange, Wikileaks, and probable information provided to them through Bradley Manning is to this ongoing, perhaps rapidly growing, global protest and action network are is difficult to assess accurately.  But to deny its importance is to not tell the full story of this important year.

Glenn Greenwald, in an op-ed that will appear in tomorrow’s UK Guardian, assesses some of the important domestic fallout from Manning’s and Wikileaks’ uncovering of the truth:

When WikiLeaks was awarded Australia’s most prestigious journalism award last month, the awarding foundation described how these disclosures created “more scoops in a year than most journalists could imagine in a lifetime”.

By exposing some of the worst atrocities committed by US forces in Iraq, the documents prevented the Iraqi government from agreeing to ongoing legal immunity for US forces, and thus helped bring about the end of the war. Even Bill Keller, the former New York Times executive editor and a harsh WikiLeaks critic, credits the release of the cables with shedding light on the corruption of Tunisia’s ruling family and thus helping spark the Arab spring.

In sum, the documentsManning is alleged to have released revealed overwhelming deceit, corruption and illegality by the world’s most powerful political actors. And this is why he has been so harshly treated and punished.

Despite pledging to usher in “the most transparent administration in history”, President Obama has been obsessed with prosecuting whistleblowers; his justice department has prosecuted more of them for “espionage” than all prior administrations combined.

The oppressive treatment of Manning is designed to create a climate of fear, to send a signal to those who in the future discover serious wrongdoing committed in secret by the US: if you’re thinking about exposing what you’ve learned, look at what we did to Manning and think twice. The real crimes exposed by this episode are those committed by the prosecuting parties, not the accused. For what he is alleged to have given the world, Manning deserves gratitude and a medal, not a life in prison.


Like many in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Bahrein, Yemen, Palestine and Syria, he is paying a steep price in his genuine commitment to justice:

[T]he leaks Manning allegedly engineered have generated enormous benefits: precisely the benefits Manning, if the allegations against him are true, sought to achieve. According to chat logs purportedly between Manning and the informant who turned him in, the private decided to leak these documents after he became disillusioned with the Iraq war. He described how reading classified documents made him, for the first time, aware of the breadth of the corruption and violence committed by his country and allies.

He explained that he wanted the world to know what he had learned: “I want people to see the truth … regardless of who they are … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.” When asked by the informant why he did not sell the documents to a foreign government for profit, Manning replied that he wanted the information to be publicly known in order to trigger “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms”.

Unlike most at TIME Magazine, many of us here at firedoglake can be very proud of our open and meaningful support of Manning,  and of thousands of others here and around the world, who, as Bradley put it, “want people to see the truth … regardless of who they are … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”

image – The Protester Collage, by Philip Munger

Preparing to Live Blog the 2011 Gaza Flotilla

7:35 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller


I. Last year, on the night of May 29-30, as the Gaza bound flotilla headed by the Turkish cruise ship, MV Mavi Marmara, approached the coast of the eastern Mediterranean, firedoglake was able to provide the best real time coverage of the interception and boarding of the vessels.  I had started a live blog diary on the evening of the 29th, at MyFDL‘s predecessor, The Seminal.  Siun was able to take over, with a front-page diary.  Reading back through those diaries now sends a chill down my back:

Live Blogging the Gaza Flotilla’s Run to the Gaza Coast Or …

Israeli Warships Try To Block Wheelchairs and Schoolbooks for Gaza

In 2010 there wasn’t as much attention being drawn to the flotilla as there seems to be this year.  For sure, the mainstream media is avoiding it as best possible, but the depth and width of discussion of the issues surrounding the perceived need for the 2011 flotilla in alternative media is heartening.  There are many reasons for this.

A case in point is Glenn Greenwald’s interest in the flotilla today.  His essay, U.S., Israel escalate threats against flotilla, including U.S. citizens, concentrates partially on the subject matter of my Saturday MyDFL diary, Obama Administration Threatens to Jail 87-year-old Holocaust Survivor, Others – Updated X 2.  The U.S. State Department warnings to Americans on the Gaza flotilla on Wednesday and Friday last week were just the sort of idiocy Greenwald assails best:

The perception that Clinton endorsed possible Israeli violence against Americans is bolstered by the conduct of the U.S. Government in the wake of Israel’s attack on the prior Gaza flotilla, when Israel killed 9 people, including the unarmed 19-year-old American citizen (and Turkish citizen) Furkan Dogan.  While most governments instinctively condemn the killing of their own unarmed citizens by foreign armies — Turkey was furious at Israel for months and world leaders in virtual consensus harshly condemned the Israeli aggression — the Obama administration almost immediately took Israel’s side, culminating with Joe Biden’s disgusting rhetorical question, posed before the American teenager was even buried: “what’s the big deal here”?

Worse, the Clinton State Department is now explicitly threatening Americans who participate in the flotilla with criminal prosecution (h/t Jason Ditz):

The United States on Friday warned activists against plans to send a new aid flotilla to challenge Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, saying it would be irresponsible and dangerous. . . . “We underscore that delivering or attempting or conspiring to deliver material support or other resources to or for the benefit of a designated foreign terrorist organization, such as Hamas, could violate U.S. civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration,” [State Department Spokesperson Victoria] Nuland said.

Greenwald also is incensed (as am I) that a former Bush speech writer, Joshua Treviño, appears to be cheerleading for the IDF to kill Americans in the flotilla.  Though some blog commentators and commenters see this as something new, a measure of last ditch desperation, it is not.  There have always been some Americans whose blind support for Israel pushes them over edges.  For instance, last year, in response to the 2010 flotilla debacle, Jennifer Rubin wrote at Commentary:

if you are not with Israel, you are against her. And if you do not oppose with every fiber of your being and every instrument at your disposal that which intends the Jewish state harm, you are enabling her destroyers.

Creepy, huh?  Rubin is often like that.  Perhaps this is part of why she got a job five months after that article at Commentary, at the Washington Post.  Where she continues to be, uh, creepy.

II. Part of the reason for heightened interest in the 2011 flotilla is that the eastern Mediterranean of 2011 is different from that of a year ago.  To the south of Israel and Gaza, Egypt is in the midst of throwing off decades of misrule by Gen. Mubarak.  To the direct north of Israel, Hezbollah is a more powerful force in Lebanese politics than they were in 2010.  And to the north of Lebanon, Syria is in upheaval that may lead to the demise of a regime even more onerous than that of Mubarak.  The same tools we saw used by 2010 flotilla  participants – blogs, facebook, twitter and cell phones (with their cameras) – were used extensively in the events in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrein and Syria.

On the surface it may seem that the events in Tunisia and Egypt are far more important than any issue the Gaza flotillas may actually be able to determine.  However, both Egyptian and Israeli efforts to ease aspects of the siege of the world’s biggest open air prison camp can be partially credited to the heightened knowledge of what is happening in Gaza by the coverage of last year’s, and of this year’s flotillas.

The coverage Monday morning by Democracy Now, of flotilla preparations at the port of Piraeus, just south of Athens, which is in almost as much turmoil as Cairo was in February, showed that the kind of activism against the borg which the flotillas represent, is resonating in many settings:

So, in a sense, in 2010, the flotilla movement seemed somewhat isolated, representative mostly of continuing attempts to break the siege of Gaza.  This year, it is part of a tremendous mix of grassroots activities aimed at challenging egregious governmental practices, in the eastern Mediterranean, and globally.

III. What I hope to do this year is get a diary going at MyFDL when the flotilla appears to be getting close to where the Israeli military forces will feel they have to respond.  Siun here at fdl will be ready, as last year, to take the ongoing story to the front page. Max Blumenthal may help us directly.  I’m hoping that Mondoweiss will be able to reflect what is happening more rapidly in 2011 than was the case there in 2010.  They have mods, but no mods on the web are as awesome or as rapidly flexible as those of firedoglake.  I may set up a diary at Daily Kos that directs people to fdl‘s coverage.

Wednesday, I’ll post a diary here that gives a comprehensive blog, twitter and facebook list for organizations and individuals who will be covering this historic encounter.

If you have ideas or suggestions that you think might help, please comment.

[image - captured Israeli commando being led down to the infirmary of the MV Mavi Marmara, for medical treatment, at the same time IDF forces were summarily executing Turkish and American captives on the top decks. Image attributed to Reuters, but taken by Kevin Neash of Victoria, BC]

Mike Gravel on Bradley Manning – He Appeals to Sen. Mark Begich and Thanks Firedoglake

6:12 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Former U.S. Senator for Alaska, Mike Gravel, is here, appealing to Alaskans to join in his efforts to create citizens groups to revisit the 9/11 Commission’s errors and omissions from their report, and other matters pertaining to that set of tragedies.

Mike has been outspoken about PFC Bradley Manning, considering the young soldier to be a patriot, and comparing these times to those in which Gravel read the Pentagon Papers aloud on the Senate floor.

Here is Gravel, answering a question about Manning:

Mike Gravel:

“My admiration for Bradley Manning knows no bounds.  In fact the equivalent of being Bradley Manning would be being me, and [Daniel] Ellsberg being Assange.  That’s the comparison.

“And I was 41 years old when I released the Pentagon Papers [to the Senate].  You know, I’d been three days without sleep, and I was just afraid – scared to death – I didn’t know if I was going to go to jail or lose my senate seat, or what have you, and so I wound up, out of fatigue and fear and all of that, sobbing, when I’m putting the papers into the record.  I was sobbing.  I couldn’t get control of my emotions.  So, when Bradley Manning – and I was 41 years old – when Bradley Manning was arrested, they turned around and said, “Well, he’s unstable.”

“Unstable – Hell!I was unstable!

“He’s not unstable.  He has the clearest vision of what his responsibilities [are] – when you go into the military, you swear allegiance to the Constitution of the United States, not to the captain, not to the generals, not to the president or the White House.  You swear allegiance to the Constitution.

“Manning was sitting there, watching all these daily reports coming back, and seeing that what was being said there was different from what was being said by the White House.  And so, he had the guts and perspicuity to recognize “Do it, and do it right.”

“And – knows the risk, knows the risk.  If we don’t get him out some way…..”

After his talk, I showed Mike the first letter I wrote to current Alaska Senator Mark Begich, requesting Begich look into Manning’s treatment. Although Begich’s chief-of-staff, David Ramseur, promised those of us who signed my letter quick action from Begich, it has now been over a month since we asked for Mark’s help.

Here’s the appeal of a former Alaska Democratic Party Senator to our current one:

And here’s Mike’s shout out to the folks at Firedoglake who have been working so hard for justice in this matter.

Mike wants you to support fdl!

Mondoweiss Challenges firedoglake – “Sign the Petition – Cut off Netanyahu” – Updated

11:32 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

I. On Friday, firedoglake founder Jane Hamsher asked us to sign a petition, requesting that “Congress …  immediately vote to cut off any American aid to the Egyptian government.”  I signed it.  Then I republished Jane’s post at my blog, where more people read about this important issue, and signed the petition.

Jane’s post at firedoglake sported an image of a tear gas canister that had been fired at protesters in Egypt late last week.  The canister (as are the rubber bullets and many other anti-riot implements used in Egypt) was made in the USA.   Combined Technical Systems in Jamestown, PA makes the tear gas projectiles.  In my republication of Jane’s post, I added an image of the place in Pennsylvania where Combined Systems makes and packages some of this stuff.  There, outside the company’s HQ, are a pair of flag poles.  Atop one sits the American flag.  Atop the other one, just as tall, perhaps higher, sits an Israeli flag.

The same company that makes these canisters being used as I write against the Egyptian people, makes many, many more, that are used every week against courageous Palestinian and Israeli people, who fight against policies of the apartheid regime in Tel Aviv.  American college student Emily Henochowicz lost an eye to an American-made product on May 31st, as she demonstrated at Kalandi crossing near Ramallah, against the murders of eight young Turks and another American college student, Furkan Doğan, by Israeli “commandos” brandishing more American made products in their arsenal.  American Tristan Anderson was severely injured by a Combined Technical Systems product  near Ni’in in the West Bank, on March 13, 2009.

American-made white phosphorus products killed scores, perhaps hundreds of Palestinians, including many kids, during Operation Cast Lead.  If you haven’t seen the images of these ruined kids, you should.

On Friday, I commented at Jane’s petition post, asking:

Where’s the petition to cut off the similar aid package to Israel, Jane? Essentially, they’re part of the same overall package and mindset, even if the Israelis have a very different U.S. constituency than that of the Egyptians.

A few commenters agreed.  After one commenter engaged further in my question, Jane answered:

Petitions are a tool we use to identify people who are interested in a particular issue. Once we identify them we can ask them to take actions of increasing sophistication and complexity in consort such that maximum pressure is exerted on identifiable weak spots within a system.

Thank you for your concern. When it comes to the influence of money in a political system you might be surprised what we understand.

II. Today, the blog Mondoweiss, in an essay penned by their founder, Philip Weiss, all but challenges firedoglake to put up a similar petition regarding U.S. aid to Israel.  Here’s the relevant excerpt:

In his bumbling press briefing two days ago, Robert Gibbs put the U.S. “assistance posture” toward the Egyptians on the table, warning the gov’t not to crack down on the protesters or there goes our money. People are listening. Firedoglake has called for ending aid to Egypt, citing the teargas canisters we produce being used against demonstrators.

Let me remind you, the Israelis killed nearly 400 children in Gaza by dropping white phosphorus on them over 22 days of hellish attacks on a population of 1.5 million two years ago, and the U.S. said nothing. The siege of Gaza is collective punishment, a war crime. And pro-democracy demonstrations in the West Bank, where the people have no rights, are routinely suppressed by Israel. A worldwide movement has called for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Will Firedoglake and Robert Gibbs see the writing on the wall?

It is a worthy challenge.  I’ve been commenting at fdl since 2005, writing here since 2008.  I’ve been commenting at Mondoweiss since 2008, and Weiss has asked me to begin submitting articles there (I will, when the Rachel Corrie civil suit concludes in Haifa).

Weiss’ blog (he’s now working closely with Adam Horowitz and The Nation Institute, and featuring many dynamic writers) is dedicated to “The War of Ideas in the Middle East” and to Jewish identity. firedoglake is perhaps the most formidable progressive public forum in the United States on a wide array of issues, only one of which is Palestinian rights.  But with Weiss’ challenge, there appears to be a cognitive dissonance that, through resolution, might bring about some positive results.

Update – Three Issues:

1). My Header should have read “Mondoweiss Challenges firedoglake – Please Post “Sign the Petition – “Cut Off Netanyahu.” Mondoweiss has not posted a petition similar to that posted by fdl Friday.  Nor has fdl posted one requesting funding similar to that given to Egypt be withheld from Israel.  I shouldn’t change the title, as people have already responded to the one posted.

2). I don’t know how to post such petitions as the one posted here Friday, or proposed by Mondoweiss.  I leave that up to others for now.

3). Among comments to this diary, some warrant addressing in this update:

a). firedoglake is not a “neo-lib” blog.  Please.  I stand by my statement in the diary – fdl is quite progressive, the range of progressive issues brought up by front-pagers and Myfdl diarists is enormous.

b). Even though fdl does not often front-page diaries about Palestinian rights, it does.  And when important breaking news has happened – the assault and murders on the MV Mavi Marmara being a good, fairly recent example, fdl led the world in covering the crimes as they occurred.

c). CTuttle questioned whether this post might start “another” flame war between Mondoweiss and fdl.  There is no way it should.  A good start might be for somebody here – Siun comes to mind – to post a petition to congress, requesting military aid that goes to Israel, which funds the implementation of illegal repression of Palestinian rights in Gaza, the West Bank and in Israel itself, be terminated.  I believe that can be done here.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have written this diary.

On the Second Anniversary of Cast Lead, I Reach Out to a Young Gazan Writer

11:48 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Two years ago, On December 27th, 2008, the Israeli military began their campaign, Operation Cast Lead,  against the people and infrastructure of Gaza. About 1,500 Palestinian people, the vast majority of them civilians, were killed.  Many children were killed.  Far more were wounded, traumatized, orphaned, or lost a parent, sibling or siblings.

Americans have to look hard to see the horrific details of what actually occurred during the operation that inspired many Zionist Israelis to lament afterward, “This time we went too far.”   Not that this momentary pang of guilt will keep the next Gaza event from happening.  It is already in the planning stages, according to the Jerusalem Post.

One of my strongest beliefs and hopes is that young people – Palestinian, Israeli, Jordanian, Lebanese, Turkish, Egyptian and American – can help us find a way out of this awful endgame of war in which Gazans are trapped.  The young American, Rachel Corrie, in one of her last emails before she was killed by the Israeli army in Gaza in 2003, wrote:

I spent a lot of time writing about the disappointment of discovering, somewhat first-hand, the degree of evil of which we are still capable. I should at least mention that I am also discovering a degree of strength and of basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances – which I also haven’t seen before. I think the word is dignity.

I wish you could meet these people. Maybe, hopefully, someday you will.

Since then, I’ve met many Palestinians in the USA and in the UK.  Today I introduced myself to a young Palestinian woman at her blog, I Am.  She wrote back.  I can now write about that, in hopes that now, not someday, you will meet these people too:


I posted your story at my blog, Progressive Alaska. I’d also like to post it at the American blog, firedoglake, but they probably won’t let me print your entire story, unless you say that it is OK.

I’ll pray for your successful future as a writer, and as whatever you want to be.

It was night time in Gaza when I wrote.  In the morning she replied:

Mr Philip Munger, I can’t but thank you for your great effort publishing Palestine and letting others know the truth. of course I don’t mind posting it at the American blog it will be an honor for me to have told just a little about what Palestinians have been through in here. Thank you for being here. I, we all appreciate it deeply.

I initially read Rawan’s story this morning at the blog Mondoweiss, where her article had been entered in an ongoing contest, called Gaza Two Years Later.

Here is Rawan Yaghi’s story of what happened in her mother’s arms two years ago, when she was 15 years old:

A Little Girl

Sleep in here sleep little girl
I would keep you so warm
Sleep… darling I’ll hold you so firm
You’re here in my lap no need for fright
Keep on your happy sight
Sun will shine
Birds will wake the sleepy night
You’re my….

My Mom suddenly stopped singing and stopped calmly feeling my hair. Her hand also stopped shaking. She was keeping me on her lap, trying to keep me warm in that cold night. It was too dark that I could barely see her face. She was very warm, but she gradually lost that comforting heat. I tried to keep it, so I covered her with the small blanket she was covering me with and I stayed in her lap.

Some minutes passed; however, she didn’t continue singing, and her body kept going colder. There was so much going on outside. I could hear a man weakly weeping. I thought she was listening to the sounds outside trying to know what was happening.

sat beside her, for, then, she was so cold that I couldn’t stay in her lap.

“Mama, why is the man outside crying?”.

She didn’t answer. She kept listening.

I said no word afterwards. I may have slept for a short while after the noise was a little bit lower. When I woke up I saw my mother with her eyes closed covered with my blanket. I thought she must have been awake the whole time I was sleeping, that’s why I didn’t try to wake her up; she would get in a really bad mood if I do. I poured her some water and put it in front of her. She was still cold. I was cold too but I thought she was so much colder.

I sat right in the opposite of her and kept waiting her to wake up and drink my glass of water and then thank me for it. Thinking of my dad and two brothers who got out of the house carrying a white shirt and how much noise happened after they got out, while my mother followed them so fast and came back so slow, with that noise frequently coming back, I kept staring at her cold body.

Now, two years later I understand it all, the cold, the whimper, my dad’s white shirt, my brothers, everything, even the mess outside. I understand why the men who came that morning took only me and why they wouldn’t listen to me yelling at them saying that my mother is still there feeling very cold.

My Response to Sarah Palin’s Facebook Post on U.S. Media Coverage of the Seizure of the Gaza Flotilla

9:00 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Wasilla Alaska’s foremost quitter and cult compound developer, Sarah Palin, has issued a very predictable, ghost-written, facebook response to the illegal seizure on early Sunday, of a flotilla of vessels attempting to bring humanitarian supplies to the 1.6 million people being illegally besieged in the Gaza Strip. In it, she criticizes the U.S. media for "reporting one side of the story," something we’ve also been doing a lot of at firedoglake. Sarah’s take is different from ours, though. Allow me to walk us through hers:

Israeli Flotilla: Don’t Take Mainstream Media Coverage at Face Value

Today at 11:49am

The media, as usual, seems to be reporting only one side of the Israeli Flotilla incident. Don’t trust the mainstream media to give you both sides of a story fairly… you must seek out fair reporting to ensure you have all the information.

Palin seems to somehow feel that U.S. media has been relying on some source, here and there, other than the Israeli government sources.

As far too many in the media, and in various governments, rush to condemn Israel, we must put the recent events off Israel’s coast into the right perspective. This “relief” convoy was not about humanitarian aid, as the liberal mainstream media keeps reporting.

The media is reporting it variously, but as ‘"relief" convoys’ go, this one is getting U.S. headlines (as aggregated at memeorandum on 12:32 p.m. Monday, AKDT) like:

Official: US Will Stand with Israel (16 supportive articles in U.S. media)

The Terror Finance Flotilla (33 U.S. articles, 7 Israeli)

Israeli Officials and American Conservatives Claim "There is No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza" (five supportive articles)

Flotillas and Falsehoods – The Effort to Destroy the Jewish State Has Many Fronts (nine articles)

Next Time We’ll Use MORE Force (six articles)

Read the rest of this entry →

Firedoglake Live Blogs a Major Turning Point in Middle East Conflict

10:38 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Beginning May 16th, I wrote a series of diaries here that sought to heighten awareness of the renewed and refreshed strident militance being shown by the Israeli government toward critics, and sought to bring more attention to the flotilla of boats and ships determined to lift the illegal siege of Gaza.

Saturday evening, as the flotilla was leaving the vicinity of Cyprus, I began a live blog post here. Sunday afternoon, as the flotilla neared the Levantine coast, Siun took over. Her firedoglake post ended up collecting information almost in real time, as the most serious attack by a foreign power in history on a collection of boats flagged by NATO members unfolded.

The blogs mondoweiss and Daily Kos also contained posts which sought to live blog the crime as it played out.

On May 16th, I noted that the freighter, MV Rachel Corrie, was leaving Irish waters, to join vessels already in the Mediterranean.

On May 20th, in light of Elvis Costello’s cancellation of an Israel concert tour, I speculated that it might be time to consider gathering artists together to create a 2010 version of the pivotal protest album from 1985, Sun City. That album helped galvanize resistance to the South African government policy of Apartheid.

On May 22, I noted the absence of mainstream media, especially in the USA, toward the gathering of vessels for the flotilla, and wondered how the approach of the the small fleet to the Gaza coast might be covered.

On May 25, I wrote about the assembly of boats, their problems, and the mounting evidence that the IDF would forcefully attempt to commandeer the vessels. I was concerned.

On Saturday May 29, I began the live blog, which was passed on to Siun yesterday, during her regular Sunday afternoon slot.

Others have also contributed diaries at firedoglake on this.

I’ve learned a lot from the process of writing about this. Foremost, perhaps, is that in spite of the stated IDF intention of isolating the vessels from being able to emit real time information during the attack, they were unsuccessful. As in the demonstrations in Iran in the wake of their farcical election last year, people managed to bypass jamming and blackouts, through workarounds or through discovery that government jamming had holes in it.

Twitter, through hundreds of cell phones on board the vessels, described the attacks in terse tweets from bloodstained decks. These tweets were passed back and forth between twitter sites throughout last night, as they aggregated incoming news from many early sources.

The Turkish video feed from the large cruise ship, where most casualties occurred will become iconic, even as the IDF releases their night vision videos that seek to purport the IDF was responding to a "lynch mob" as it opened fire on dozens of unarmed civilians, attempting to defend themselves from a brazen, illegal act in international waters.

Norman Finkelstein’s 2009 book about the 2008-2009 Gaza invasion is titled This Time We Went Too Far. It is an apt title. Many of us have experienced how friends or relatives finally stopped straddling the fence over how Israel conducts itself, as we and they witnessed the barbarity of the IDF assault on schools, hospitals, clinics, fire departments, bakeries, dairies and houses in the besieged Gaza enclave.

This time, the IDF went too far in ways that may be pivotal. Juan Cole, writing this morning, observes:

It is worth noting on Memorial Day that the Israeli attack deeply complicates the task of the US military in the region. It is a propaganda boon for Sunni extremists and Shiite activists such as Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq, and for the Taliban in Afghanistan. It undermines the authority of the Egyptian and Jordanian governments, which have US-brokered peace treaties with Israel, treaties that are deeply unpopular with ordinary people in both countries. That some demonstrations are being held in front of US consulates and not just Israeli ones tells us who will get the blame for Netanyahu’s machismo.

Turkish-Israeli relations, already in an abysmal state, might never recover. Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Israel. The attack on several NATO-related vessels, in international waters, and without provocation, as noted above, is unprecedented. Turkey will be right to bring this before the NATO North Atlantic Council, which meets about once per week. The United Nations Security Council is meeting right now about the attack, with the Secretary General having already made a harsh statement.

As I noted in Siun’s live blog diary last night:

If the flotilla was actually moving away from the coast when boarded, after having responded to IDF enquiries regarding intent and course, this is a lost cause for the Israelis to defend. They have no claim that their response was appropriate.

Some, if not all, of the vessels were giving out position reports up to the boarding. The record of these is indelible. The Turks will surely bring this fact up to the North Atlantic Council this week, and it may have been brought up today at the UN Security Council.

A Daily Kos Diary, analyzing NATO responsibilities regarding Turkey in this matter, has hundreds of comments, Here is the key part of NATO doctrine that might pertain directly to actions after this attack:

Israel’s attack on the MV Blue Mamara, a Turkish vessel, means they just attacked a member of NATO. According to the NATO Charter, Article 5

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

If you think there is wiggle room in that definition, you would be mistaken. Article 6 is explicit about where attacks will trigger responses. Vessels in the Mediterranean Sea are mentioned explicitly.

The Israeli Prime Minister has cut short a North American trip that was to conclude with a White House meeting Tuesday. He’s had to return home to prepare for the Third Intifada, and to attempt to salvage diplomatic relations with a number of counties besides just Turkey.

Within the American progressive community Israel has always had and still has staunch supporters of every action by the IDF or Israeli government. But those numbers were severely diminished by this highly criminal attack. But, as a commenter at Mondoweiss observed this morning:

There are now 4 diaries on the rec list at Daily Kos condemning the Israeli piracy. Even during Cast Lead, this didn’t happen.

Other lefty blogs that generally avoid discussing Israel/Palestine issues at all will, should they continue to blind themselves in this matter, lose readers and influence.

A very important article recently appeared in the New York Review of Books. In The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment, by Peter Beinart, the author explains in detail how the large family size and emigration into Israel of ultra Orthodox inhabitants and their growing influence on internal Israeli politics will inevitably force young American Jews who are liberal to forsake support for the Zionist state and its brutal expansionist goals. The article has caused quite a stir, to say the least.

Israel has succeeded, in last night’s attack, in further isolating itself as an increasingly rogue nation. Some are even predicting an implosion there, similar to those of Apartheid South Africa, or of the Warsaw Pact communist governments.

Two things are certain though. Twitter, as a driver of non-MSM instant information has come of age.

And firedoglake, thanks to Siun and our commenting community, has once again led the way in live blogging a pivotal moment.