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IDF Commando Who Assaulted the Mavi Marmara Bails on NYU Talk

11:20 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Just off the phone with the office of David Rittberg, the Executive Director of the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at New York University.  David wasn’t in, but a staff member assured me he will be returning my call.  We’ll see.

I called David to find out what the “serious safety and security issues” are that have led the Bronfman Center to cancel what they had described on Tuesday as an “extremely unique opportunity to hear from an IDF Navy Seal who was one of the first Israelis to board the Mavi Maramara ship during the Turkish Flotilla incident last May.”

Max Blumenthal alerted many of us to this upcoming event late Tuesday on a facebook post:

Bringing an actual participant in the flotilla massacre to NYU? Now that’s rich!

That post linked to a post by Gilad Isaacs from NYU Students for Justice in Palestine:

In response to Students for Justice in Palestine’s increasingly successful “Israeli Apartheid Week,” zionists at NYU have put together “Israeli Peace Week.” And in a truly disgusting move, they have included – and advertised – a navy seal who was one of the first on board the Mavi Marmara. See below for part of the original email, which presents the war criminal as “an extremely unique opportunity.”

We need to send an unequivocal message that war criminals are not welcome on our campuses. Help Students for Justice in Palestine at NYU protest outside the building, and please forward this message, rsvp on facebook, and post/invite friends.

I’ve been looking for evidence that what Isaacs and NYU SJP were organizing might be considered a “serious safety and security issue,” and have found none yet.

Perhaps the cancellation had more to do with my comment at Mondoweiss, which led the comments at their article on this IDF Navy SEAL’s appearance:

Max Blumenthal put up a facebook post about this last night. I wonder if there’s a way to compare this IDF seal to images that were smuggled out by Iara Lee and others, to see if he was in the vicinity of Furkan Doğan at the time of the latter’s death. If so, could the IDF seal be detained and questioned under oath about what he knows? Are any Mavi Marmara passengers going to be there to see if they can ID him for possible crimes against any U.S. citizens aboard who survived?

The level of protest being planned for this event by NYU SJP appears from published reports to have been typical of the kinds of pushback both pro- and anti-Zionists groups engage in routinely at controversial events:

Mobilize against Mavi Marmara War Criminal @ NYU Thursday!

In response to Students for Justice in Palestine’s increasingly successful ”Israeli Apartheid Week,” Zionists at NYU have put together ”Israeli Peace Week.” And in a truly disgusting move, they have included – and advertised - a navy seal who was one of the first on board the Mavi Marmara. See below for part of the original email, which presents the war criminal as “an extremely unique opportunity.”

We need to send an unequivocal message that war criminals are not welcome on our campuses. Help Students for Justice in Palestine at NYU protest outside the building, and please forward this message, rsvp on facebook here, and post/invite friends.

Meet: 6pm, outside of Silver Center (100 Washington Sq E, 10003)

I’m going to continue looking into this.  If there were rational security concerns, we should certainly support the decision on the part of the presenters.  However, it appears at this time that the presenting organizations began to realize it was really a fucking stupid idea to put this possible poster boy for what has become so, so wrong with Israeli military actions up on the stage for all to see in the plain light of public view.

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.

Rachel Corrie Civil Suit – D-9 Driver Won’t Be Able to be Seen in Testimony

11:16 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The concluding phase of the wrongful death lawsuit by the Corrie family, over the death Rachel Corrie in March 2003 began in Haifa Thursday, with the Government of Israel being granted their request to have some testimony in this phase shielded from view from the audience, and from the plaintiffs:

The Haifa District Court on Thursday granted a government request to allow soldiers to testify behind a screen in the lawsuit filed by Rachel Corrie’s family against the State of Israel for her unlawful killing in Rafah, Gaza.

The order includes the driver of the bulldozer that killed Rachel, who is slated to testify later this month. However, Judge Oded Gershon ruled that both the commander of the unit and the second soldier in the bulldozer that hit Rachel would testify in plain view, because their faces were already publicly known.

In asking for the highly unusual protective measures, state attorneys argued that they were necessary to protect the soldiers’ safety and prevent their images from being circulated. They based the request on an overbroad security certificate issued by Defense Minister Ehud Barak in 2008, but did not provide concrete evidence to substantiate their concerns for the soldiers’ safety or security.

Corrie attorneys opposed the motion, arguing that allowing the soldiers to testify behind a screen infringes upon the right to an open, fair and transparent trial. They asked to dismiss the request, filed just 48 hours before the first soldier’s testimony. Alternatively, the lawyers asked the court to allow the family to see the witnesses even if the public could not, but their request was denied. Lawyers for the Corrie family plan to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Israel.

The irony of this situation was not missed by Rachel Corrie’s father, Craig:

"While Rachel stood in front of a wall to protect the two families huddled behind it, the state is now making the soldiers hide behind a wall that denies us the opportunity to see them," said Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother. "The State of Israel has been hiding for over seven years. Where is the justice?"

Where is the justice, indeed? I have to say, though, that I’m somewhat surprised the Israeli government hasn’t managed to quash this trial. I’m becoming more convinced every day that the Government of Israel has considered itself at war with the United States of America since July 14th, 1954, when Israeli agents firebombed the U.S. Information Agency libraries in Cairo and Alexandria.

I’m just finishing reading James Scott’s definitive book, The Attack on the Liberty. The number of U.S. officials who believed then and still believe the attack on that ship was intentional is overwhelming. Just one of many examples:

[Secretary of State Dean] Rusk channeled his hostility over the attack into a stinging three-page letter to the Ambassador [of Israel, Avraham Harman]. Aided by Katzenbach and Walt Rostow, Rusk left no doubt he didn’t believe Israel’s assertion that its forces had attacked in error.

Elsewhere (in his memoir), Rusk has been cited:

I was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation. Their sustained attack to disable and sink Liberty precluded an assault by accident or some trigger-happy local commander. Through diplomatic channels we refused to accept their explanations. I didn’t believe them then, and I don’t believe them to this day. The attack was outrageous.

Every surviving member of the U.S.S. Liberty’s crew believes that the attack was deliberate, and meant to kill everyone on the ship.

In 1983, the Israeli Government had pre-knowledge of the impending attack on the U.S. Marine barracks near Beirut airport, but intentionally failed to pass it on:

On October 23, 1983 – at 6:20 a.m. – A truck packed with explosives slammed into US Marine barracks at Beirut Internation Airport – killing 241 Marines, mostly aseleep. A few minutes later, a similar explosion blew up a French military barracks – killing 56 French soldiers. Israeli Mossad acknowledged that it had prior information on these terrorist activities – but its chief Nahum Admony – decided not to warn Israel’s ally in details: “No. We are not going to protect the Americans. They’re a big country. Send only the regular information.”

Consistent with this sort of M.O. – that of a nation at war with the U.S. and its citizens – in the matter of this ongoing trial, is the way the IDF handled the surveillance of the area where Corrie was killed, at the time she was killed:

Also testifying on Thursday was the head of the Military Police Special Investigative Unit, Shalom Michaeli, who oversaw the investigation into Rachel’s killing. He told the court that he stood by his 2003 investigation and saw no reason that anyone should have been prosecuted.

Michaeli was also in charge of the investigation into the killing of Iman al Hams, a 13-year-old Gaza school girl who was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier in Rafah as she lay injured on the ground in October 2004. A military police internal investigation subsequently found major failures in Michaeli’s investigation, saying it was conducted unprofessionally and with negligence. The solider who killed al Hams was court-martialed but subsequently acquitted – in part because of this flawed investigation.

Michaeli’s cross-examination revealed similar flaws in the Corrie investigation. These flaws support the family’s claim of government negligence, for allowing soldiers and their commanders to act recklessly using armored military bulldozers without due regard for the presence of civilians.

Michaeli said that he ordered only a partial transcript of radio transmissions because he did not think it important to transcribe the full audio.

He said he did not go to the site of Rachel’s killing because it was dangerous, the terrain had already been altered, and the vehicles removed by the Israeli military. He acknowledged that he could have gone to the scene in an armored vehicle, but chose not to.

Michaeli testified in his written affidavit that when he inspected the bulldozer he did not find any signs of blood or other evidence that the vehicle had injured anyone. However, in court testimony he said the bulldozer could have been washed “or even painted” before he inspected it.

Michaeli said he knew, prior to opening the investigation, there was a video camera recording the area around the clock. But he failed to obtain the tape until March 23, a week after the incident, because it had been previously taken by senior commanders.

When questioned about his failure to interrogate the camera operator, who panned away from the scene only minutes before Rachel was killed, he said he did not think it was relevant.

When asked whether he questioned the bulldozer crews about an Israeli military manual for low intensity conflict that states bulldozers should not be operated near people, Michaeli said the manuals were not relevant. He added that bulldozer operators could not be expected to follow such procedures in this zone. He went on to say that he believed the Israeli army was “at war” with everyone in the area, including the ISM peace activists.

Michaeli still heads the Military Police Special Investigative Unit, but has since been promoted from Sergeant Major to Warrant Officer.

“Today I was struck by the lead investigator’s failures – his failure to look for evidence, to secure evidence, to resolve conflicting evidence, and to turn evidence over to this court,” said Craig Corrie, Rachel’s father. “This is not what we and the U.S. government were promised by the government of Israel when Rachel was killed and it is not what we will accept now.” [emphases added]

The IDF clearly states here, that it considered itself to be at war with U.S. citizen Rachel Corrie. I suppose that is how the IDF considered itself to be with U.S. citizen Furkan Dogan, when he was murdered in cold blood for merely attempting to document IDF atrocities:

The report of the fact-finding mission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla released last week shows conclusively, for the first time, that US citizen Furkan Dogan and five Turkish citizens were murdered execution-style by Israeli commandos.

The report reveals that Dogan, the 19-year-old US citizen of Turkish descent, was filming with a small video camera on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara when he was shot twice in the head, once in the back and in the left leg and foot and that he was shot in the face at point blank range while lying on the ground.

The report says Dogan had apparently been "lying on the deck in a conscious or semi-conscious, state for some time" before being shot in his face.

The forensic evidence that establishes that fact is "tattooing around the wound in his face," indicating that the shot was "delivered at point blank range." The report describes the forensic evidence as showing that "the trajectory of the wound, from bottom to top, together with a vital abrasion to the left shoulder that could be consistent with the bullet exit point, is compatible with the shot being received while he was lying on the ground on his back."

Based on both "forensic and firearm evidence," the fact-finding panel concluded that Dogan’s killing and that of five Turkish citizens by the Israeli troops on the Mavi Marmari May 31 "can be characterized as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions." [emphases added]

Quite troubling in this context, is the information – covered at The Seminal yesterday by CTuttle, of apparent attempts by Israeli agents, fueled by a new report by the Reut Institute, that will probably target blogs like firedoglake and diarists here such as CTuttle, Markfromireland and me as "existential threats":

The evolution of the Delegitimization Network. This network aims to turn Israel into a pariah state so it will ultimately cease to exist. It is based in a number of metropolitan cities (US!), within which a relatively small number of individuals and organizations mobilize the assault on Israel’s legitimacy. The Delegitimization Network’s success lies in its ability to harness the Western liberal and progressive elite. It does so by employing a variety of means aimed at blurring its true intentions; [...]

11. These groups are leading a systemic and systematic attack against Israel’s political and economic model, which has already had strategic consequences and may become existential if ignored or inadequately addressed.

40. It takes a network to fight a network – The delegitimization campaign against Israel is carried out by a network of NGOs based in a number of international metropolitan cities. Disrupting this network should become the main anti-delegitimization focus.

60. The Reut Institute contends that combined, these forces represent a political-diplomatic strategic threat that may become existential. Resistance Network leaders repeatedly and publicly declare their goal of causing Israel’s implosion inspired by precedents set by the Soviet Union, South Africa, and other countries. This logic is ripening into a strategy that is yielding tangible gains. [emphases added]

While not clearly targeting pro-Palestinian rights bloggers, this document, along with others that have leaked out of Israel over the past year, indicate that efforts to delegitimize the delegitimizers is increasingly being linked to the Israeli model of total war.

As the delightful IDF Col. Yossi declared last month, "There are no civilians in wartime!"