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My Thanksgiving Letter to Pamela Geller’s BFF in the Alaska Legislature: Rename the Turkey the “Winged Marmot”

12:21 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

November 24, 2011

Dear Rep. Gatto

Happy Thanksgiving!

A matter of grave concern has been brought to the American people by that tirelessly vigilant, level-headed Patriot, Pamela Geller. As you have been shown to recognize, we are truly fortunate to have such a clear view of the imminent threats posed to Americans as those taken up by Geller. Her views have been adopted here in the USA, and abroad.

Last legislative session, you had her testify on behalf of your House Bill 88, designed to stop the insidiously well-hidden move afoot here in the Mat-Su Valley to adopt Sharia Law as the basis of our legal codes.  With so many less important issues like domestic violence, Alaska jobs, declining educational standards crowding your extremely vital bill out of the limelight it deserved, it hasn’t yet passed.

When do you plan on finishing up that bill in the 2012 legislative session?  We need it soon!  I think there’s a vacant building in Palmer and are several in Wasilla that could easily be converted into mosques overnight.

This week, Ms. Geller brought my attention to something that might even have a more profound effect on my daily life in Wasilla than Sharia Law. But in concentrating on only one aspect of the real problem here, she may have missed a far more important issue. First, here’s what Ms. Geller observed: Read the rest of this entry →

Is The Downward Spiral in Turkish-Israeli Relations Terminal?

12:35 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

"Downward Spiral" by attila acs on flickr

"Downward Spiral" by attila acs on flickr

Steven A. Cook, writing at CNN‘s global public square niche:

Last Friday, the Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, announced what had long been coming – the end of Turkey-Israel relations.  Although it is not a total breach, Israel’s ambassador in Ankara is no longer welcome there and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) mission in Turkey was terminated.  All official business will now be conducted at the level of second secretary, which in the military is equivalent to a major or Lieutenant Colonel.  The foreign minister also warned that the Turkish Navy would defend the freedom of navigation in the international waters in the Eastern Mediterranean, conjuring images of a naval confrontation between the Israelis and the Turks. [emphases added]

Akiva Eldar, writing at Haaretz, sees the coming together of several trends, in ways disadvantageous to the Israeli state:

With all due respect to Turkey (we haven’t shown any; remember the low-chair affair ), the Israeli people will survive even without an ambassador and deputy ambassador in Ankara. No disaster will happen if the United Nations we so disparage throws the Palestinians a bone and a few young men march toward the settlements. Our highly trained soldiers will charge, the settlers’ dogs will jump them and all will be well.

Right? Wrong. The crisis in relations with Turkey is a red alert of the attacks we’re in for on the diplomatic, security and economic fronts. It will affect the lives of 450,000 protesters and many more people who demanded social justice from their living room couches. Read the rest of this entry →

Obama on Tuesday – “We Stand With the People of Tunisia” — Obama Friday – “We Stand With the Dictator of Egypt”

10:31 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

What’s the difference between the two?

There are several, but paramount is that our most selfish, ungrateful ally – Israel – prefers to be surrounded by corrupt dictators who are more willing to make sleazy, behind-the-scenes deals with an apartheid, expansionist state, than help their own people. That has worked fairly well for the Israelis for decades. It is about to come to a screeching halt.

Along with the toppling of the corrupt Tunisian government last week, came the final election results in Lebanon, with Hezbollah choosing the final configuration of the government, and publication of what have become known as “The Palestine Papers,” which show both Israeli dishonesty in dealing with the Palestinian Authority since before the Oslo Accords, and the inadequacy of many central PA figures. Thousands are demonstrating against the U.S.-backed government in Yemen; hundreds are demonstrating in Jordan. Now, we are seeing gigantic demonstrations in the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and Suez.

In the U.S. the GOP leadership is openly backing the Egyptian dictator. So is Vice President Biden. So is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

GOP leadership:

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R- MI 11): “America must stand with her ally Egypt to preserve an imperfect government capable of reform; and prevent a tyrranical [sic] government capable of harm.”

Vice President Biden:

Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with – with Israel. … I would not refer to him as a dictator.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

[T]he U.S. Chamber of Commerce maintains a network of foreign affiliates known as Amchams, “which are foreign chambers of the Chamber composed of American and foreign companies.” In Egypt, this foreign affiliate is known as the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, known in short as AmCham Egypt.

AmCham Egypt’s relation to the Mubarak dictatorship stretches back decades. In fact, the Egyptian dictator even personally intervened to create the organization. In 1981, Mubarak issued an order to allow for the creation of the AmCham by giving it an exemption from Egypt’s strict NGO laws — which help limit the influence human rights and democracy promotion organizations. Since then, the chamber has grown to have hundreds of members. While roughly 75 percent of the organization’s members are Egyptian businesses, many of them are also large Western multinational corporations, like Coca Cola and BP. The Chamber’s member companies account for nearly 20 percent of Egypt’s GDP.

When a powerful corporate-backed entity like the AmCham Egypt gains favorable treatment, it is natural for it to try to protect its patron. So last year, when a group of U.S. Senators — lead by Russ Feingold (D-WI) — introduced legislation that called on the government of Egypt to end crackdowns on pro-democracy activists and hold free and fair elections, AmCham Egypt, at the behest of the Egyptian dictatorship, sprung into action.

As Al Masra Al Youm, a major Egyptian paper, reports, the Mubarak regime tapped AmCham Egypt President Shafik Gabr to do its bidding. Gabr was “dispatched expressly” for the purpose of scuttling the bill.

In Israel, the government itself has remained silent. Others, particularly past government officials, are more open:

Israeli officials say in private they cannot believe President Hosni Mubarak will be overthrown by the demonstrations. But if he should fall, there is no guarantee whoever might follow him will continue to tend to Israel ties.

Ordinary Egyptians have never warmed to Israel, despite more than three decades of peace, and regularly blame it for their woes.

“If Mubarak is toppled then Israel will be totally isolated in the region,” said Alon Liel, a former director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and a former ambassador to Turkey.

The Israelis had an awful year with their neighbors, particularly Turkey:

After successfully helping orchestrate the demands for an international panel to look into the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the Israelis, with their eager partners in the Obama administration, managed to stifle a similar international query into the murders of several Turks and an American, by Israeli “commandos” aboard the Turkish-flagged vessel in international waters, the MV Mavi Marmara.

The publication of The Palestine Papers
has effectively finished killing any rational possibility of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Here’s Steven M. Walt:

[T]hese releases can also be read as the final obituary for the Oslo peace process. Lord knows it had been on life support for years, and most analysts have already understood it was going nowhere. In that sense, these documents aren’t really revelatory: They merely confirm what most of us had suspected ever since Obama began walking back from the Cairo speech. But what I’ve argued before is now abundantly clear: The Palestinians aren’t going to accept anything less than a viable state (plus at least symbolic acknowledgement of a “right of return”), and Israel isn’t going to offer them anything remotely close to that. (See Jeremy Pressman here for further details on the difficulties.) It’s equally clear that the United States is incapable of acting like an honest broker on this issue, despite its importance to our broader security position. That means no “two states for two peoples,” which in turn means that some future U.S. president is going to face some really awkward choices.

Walt concludes:

[I]f we step back and take a larger and longer view, it begins to look like the U.S. position in the Middle East, which seemed so dominant after the fall of the USSR and the first Gulf War, is now crumbling. Hezbollah just formed a government in Lebanon, possibly after the United States convinced former PM Saad Hariri to go back on a compromise deal over the U.N. tribunal investigating the murder of his father. Iraq is now governed by a Shiite government with extensive links to Iran and is denying the U.S. any future military role there. A democratic government in Turkey, while not anti-American, is charting an independent course. The Mubarak government in Egypt, long a close U.S. client, has been shaken, and even if it survives the current turmoil, its long-term status is up for grabs.

The problem is this: The United States has no idea how to deal with a Middle East where the voice of the people might actually be heard, rather than being subject to the writ of various aging potentates.

And having followed policies for decades that are unpopular with most of those same people, we may be about to reap the whirlwind.

Is it too late for Israel and the U.S. to avoid having to reap this “whirlwind”? Perhaps not.

One thing that struck me about the events in Tunisia was the extent to which young, educated professional women there participated. Their interests in changing the government were almost exclusively non-religious. Although the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia was almost non-existent, it is playing a part in the events in Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and Gaza. What that involvement means is being spun by conservative apparatchiks here and abroad, as a sort of boogie man figure, to which it is very easy to attach the usual racist anti-Arab stereotypes and Islamaphobic labels. The young people involved in the ongoing demonstrations don’t seem comfortable with the hardliners from Islamist groups. The young populations of these countries tend to be suspicious of religious police, as they should be. The young women involved, especially those who have benefitted from higher education, generally despise conservative religious figures because of their anti-women views.

It is about time that Americans attempt to understand the role of millions of young people in these ongoing disturbances against corrupt paradigms we have so fully supported in the past.

British Prime Minister Calls Gaza a “Prison Camp”

4:00 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

In Turkey, earlier today, British Prime Minister David Cameron stated "The situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp."

This is unprecedented. For one thing, Tony Blair, who is now Middle East envoy for the "Quartet" (the United Nations, European Union, United States, and Russia) has never been so critical of the results of Israeli foreign policy. Cameron knows Blair is under a lot of heat right now, with the possibility of a renewed, more thorough, opposition-led inquiry into what was probably the murder of Dr. David Kelly by British intelligence on July 18, 2003. Chances are that Blair knew about it, and may be brought in to testify in any inquiry.

Read the rest of this entry →

Another Open Letter to Alaska Sen. Mark Begich

11:00 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

[Today, along with Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and 83 other U.S. Senators, Sen. Mark Begich signed a letter so rife with lies that it begs a very detailed and determined answer. Part of the reason I am posting this open letter here is that firedoglake, Blue America, Act Blue and the netroots community helped raise key money that brought Sen. Begich to office:]

Sen. Mark Begich
U.S. Senate

I wrote a letter to you on April 15th about your previous involvement in another letter, which had been crafted by people communicating with the same foreign government who ardently sought your signature on this one. You didn’t respond to that one.

This time, I will go down the elements of your letter, and describe what seem to be errors so blatant, they defy being categorized as the truth. Here is your letter (pdf), with my annotated comments:

President Barack Obama The White House Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

June XX, 2010

We write to affirm our support for our strategic partnership with Israel, and encourage you to continue to do so before international organizations such as the United Nations. The United States has traditionally stood with Israel because it is in our national security interest and must continue to do so.

Our history of relations with Israel does not support our and their so-called "security interests" as having been mutual since the downfall of the USSR. Rather, the growing perception in almost the entire world, is that our rather one-sided support of one right-wing government after another in Israel, which continue to illegally expand settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights (none of which the U.S. government views as legal) increasingly create problems for our national security.

1.) Our military involvement off the Lebanese Coast during the misguided 1982 Israeli invasion, led to the loss of many American servicemen, with no benefit to our security.

2.) The First Gulf War, in which Irael wasn’t an asset, nor much of a liability, was somewhat of a wash.

3.) Almost all attacks on American military installations abroad in the 1990s, up to Septamber 11th, were cited by the perpetrators as being fueled to a major degree by our unerring support of Israel.

4.) Our support of Israel was cited by Al Qaeda as a major reason for the attacks on American interests on September 11th, 2001.

5.) Many attacks on Americans since our unjustified Iraq Invasion and Occupation have been linked to people who sought justice for what they perceived to be the continuing erosion of Palestinian rights, which wouldn’t occur without our unflinching support.

6.) I can’t think of a military operation in the Middle East in which we might participate with this so-called "valuable ally" that would enhance American prestige in that part of the world.

Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East and a vibrant democracy.

Turkey is our strongest ally in the Middle East, unless one counts Israeli nuclear weapons as being something entered into the "strong ally" equation. Turkey is also a vibrant democracy, which like that of Israel’s, is in transition. The vibrancy of Turkish democracy is threatened by our blind support of one of these nations over the other.

Israel is also a partner to the United States on military and intelligence issues in this critical region.

And in our country. Would you consider requesting an investigation into Urban Moving Systems? Or into how the Israelis stole American plutonium and other important materials to create their nuclear arsenal?

That is why it is our national interest to support Israel at a moment when Israel faces multiple threats from Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the current regime in Iran.

Israel has invaded Lebanon multiple times, sometimes on almost no pretext, causing thousands of needless deaths, fracturing Lebanese society, destroying its economy and creating animosity that will last long past my life and yours. Israel helped create Hamas as a counter-poise to Al Fatah. They won what was generally considered to be a more transparent election in the occupied territories than most view our 2000 election to have been. They won because Palestinians want to be represented by a party that won’t accommodate further theft of their land and dignity, and isn’t as notoriously corrupt as is Al Fatah.

Hezbollah was an uprising against Israeli occupation of Lebanon. Once again, it wouldn’t even exist but for Israeli stupidity, intransigence and gratuitous military violence.

The current regime in Iran is, as with Hamas and Hezbollah, a product of reactions to violence and mayhem created by either Israeli or American military actions.

Israel’s opponents have developed clever diplomatic and tactical ploys to challenge its international standing, whether the effort to isolate Israel at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference or the recent effort to breach the naval blockade around Gaza.

First, the "clever diplomatic and tactical ploys" issue:

Israel’s international standing is based on its own clever diplomatic and tactical ploys. Right now, Mark, you are playing your part. You will be paid well for your dishonest efforts.

Second, the isolation of Israel regarding the NPT. Israel is isolated. They have chosen that. With a weapon program built on a mix of technologies that included multiple thefts through espionage and treachery, of items from our nuclear establishment, they continually act, as in the Baghdad reactor bombing, in ways that have since come to also increasingly define how the USA acts internationally.

You categorize countries concerned with Israel’s nuclear arsenal, stolen from America, as "opponents." Yet, as an elected member of our Senate, one might expect that recently declassified documents related to the level of espionage Israel committed to steal our nuclear materials for their first bombs suggests you would consider a hearing into this matter, instead of signing onto a letter crafted by the country that stole our fucking plutonium,and that criticizes our president.

We fully support Israel’s right to self-defense.

So do I.

In response to thousands of rocket attacks on Israel from Hamas terrorists in Gaza, Israel took steps to prevent items which could be used to support these attacks from reaching Gaza.

Israeli drunk drivers, over the past decade, have killed far more people than the Hamas rockets, which are dreadful. When you were mayor, did you bomb bars and liquor stores? Did you hold all of Spenard accountable for what somebody who lived in that historic community did?

A majority of Hamas rocket attacks since 2007 have been stupid responses to equally stupid Israeli actions that were in violation of agreements Israel had made with Hamas.

Israel’s naval blockade, which is legal under international law, allows Israel to keep dangerous goods from entering Gaza by sea.

The United States has issued no legal rulings regarding the legality of Israel’s blockade of Gaza, so you are deferring to a view held by virtually no government on this planet save the one which has let you know that if you don’t sign this letter, you will have fundraising problems in the future. Once again, "clever ploy" comes into play.

The United Nations and several international agencies all agree that the blockade is illegal, harshly punitive and should be immediately ended. The International Red Cross – how many fundraisers for the Red Cross have you been to over the years, Mark? – issued a report this week condemning the blockade as inhumane.

Mark, kids in Gaza are suffering brain damage right now because of the illegal blockade. The kids that suffer brain damage tomorrow will have your imprint on that brain damage.

The intent of the measures is to protect Israel, while allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza.

The intent of the blockade is that, and to put Gaza on a diet that leads to lower births, lower birth weights and to the unfortunate strengthening of Hamas. Had Gaza been given more freedom after the Hamas election, I think that things might have gotten better, rather than markedly worse. But Israel needs for Hamas to be powerful. Just not too powerful.

Late last month when Israel learned that groups operating in Turkey wanted to challenge its blockade of Gaza, Israel made every effort to ensure that all humanitarian aid reached Gaza without needlessly precipitating a confrontation.

They did as little as possible, given the growing international, especially European, attention to the gathering flotilla.

Israeli forces were able to safely divert five of the six ships challenging the blockade.

Those ships all watched the assault on the MV Mavi Marmara from distances varying between a half mile and two miles. They were also much smaller.

However, video footage shows that the Israeli commandos who arrived on the sixth ship, which was owned by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (the IHH), were brutally attacked with iron rods, knives, and broken glass. They were forced to respond to that attack and we regret the loss of life that resulted.

This might be the most vile of the part of your letter, Senator:

Mavi Marmara was the first vessel, not the last. Clever ploy to call it "last," though.

The video footage to which you refer is highly selective. I followed the meetup of the flotilla, its problems and route as well as anyone in the USA. I watched other "video footage," as the flotilla tried to maintain a live stream of accurate information out to the world, as the Israelis tried to jam more and more output channels from flotilla vessels, through the night of the atrocity.

I read twitters, emails, and photos sent to me from the flotilla, as they came in. I followed the route of the vessels with transponders on the web. You rely on a few snips, edited by the military of a country that stole a lot of plutonium from us, yet allow that same country to either destroy or seize thousands of hours of video and perhaps hundreds of thousands of images from the flotilla participants. Many of the people who had their possessions stolen were American, Mark.

Your letter labels several worldwide parliamentarians, Nobel Peace prize recipients, prominent non-Muslim clerics, former U.S. Army officers, former U.S. diplomats, longtime Democrats and liberals as being directly supportive of a relief organization you want to now see be labelled as a terrorist organization.

Many Israeli maritime law experts believe the attack on the MV Mavi Marmara was a criminal act. The numerous cites of the San Remo Treaty defenders of the piracy throw about have never been put to the test, but they weigh little in the overall context of the way the attack on the Turkish ship went.

For you to characterize the attack upon a NATO ally’s vessel, in an action that resulted in the death of a young American, by a rogue country that has built a nuclear arsenal around materials stolen from us through espionage, as the Israelis being the ones attacked:

were brutally attacked with iron rods, knives, and broken glass. They were forced to respond to that attack and we regret the loss of life that resulted.

is a brutal assault upon the plain truth.

We are deeply concerned about the IHH’s role in this incident and have additional questions about Turkey and any connections to Hamas.

What is Turkey to do? Not have any relations with the elected government of an area that drains on waters important to Turkey?

Maybe help the water quality and sewage treatment experts into Gaza, Mark, so people feel less like shooting rockets?

The IHH is a member of a group of Muslim charities, the Union of Good, which was designated by the US Treasury Department as a terrorist organization. The Union of Good was created by and strongly supports Hamas, which has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the US State Department. We recommend that your administration consider whether the IHH should be put on the list of foreign terrorist organizations, after an examination by the intelligence community, the State Department, and the Treasury Department.

Mark, please read Max Blumenthal’s book, Republican Gomorrah. It’s got a lot more scarier stuff in it than the AIPAC-crafted bullshit you signed on to.

We commend the action you took to prevent the adoption of an unfair United Nations Security Council resolution, which would have represented a rush to judgment by the international community.

As opposed to the Israeli report that the White House has accommodated? I’m sure you’d be just as willing to have the Turks investigate an international incident, had the Turks been attacked instead of the Israelis? Do you really believe it was the Turks who attacked the Israelis?

We also deplore the actions of the United Nations Human Rights Council which, once again, singled out Israel. Israel has announced its intention to promptly carry out a thorough investigation of this incident and has the right to determine how its investigation is conducted. In the meantime, we ask you to stand firm in the future at the United Nations Security Council and to use your veto power, if necessary, to prevent any similar biased or one-sided resolutions from passing.

Mark, I’m so glad you deplore "one-sided" acts. Don’t you realize that that is exactly what you are participating in, in this letter?

Finally, we believe that this incident should not derail the current proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. We hope that these talks will move quickly to direct negotiations and ultimately, to a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

I’m sure they will. And thanks for that letter, Mark. The Israelis just announced another 600 housing units in East Jerusalem within minutes of being told your letter was coming through.

Your checks are already in the mail.

You need to ask yourself whether or not your signing on to this boilerplate lie, and the way it enables this nuclear-powered spoiled brat to act next, will help lead to more American deaths in the future, rather than less, Senator.

Sincerely,

Philip Munger

Will the Late June Gaza Flotilla Result in Another Israeli Invasion of Lebanon?

1:18 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

A lot is happening in the eastern Mediterranean Sea this week and weekend. Boats, ships and fleets are coming and going. Friday, the biggest U.S. Naval task force in decades passed out of the Med through the Suez Canal, on its way to the Persian Gulf:

More than twelve United States Naval warships and at least one Israeli ship crossed the Suez Canal towards the Red Sea on Friday, British Arabic Language newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported Saturday.

According to the report, thousands of Egyptian soldiers were deployed along the Suez Canal guarding the ships’ passage, which included a U.S. aircraft carrier.

The Suez Canal is a strategic Egyptian waterway which connects between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.

According to eyewitnesses, the U.S. battleships [sic] were the largest to have crossed the Canal in many years, Al-Quds reported.

And in the Eastern Mediterranean itself, the Lebanese contingent of the next flotilla is leaving port today and tomorrow, headed first to Cyprus, and then on to Gaza, or to its likely confrontation with the Israeli Navy:

Some 50 Christian and Muslim Lebanese women as well as foreigners are preparing to leave Lebanon on Sunday on board of the Miriam.

The group of women, who announced that they do not belong to any political group, will sail from the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli to Cyprus and then to Gaza, between June 23 and 25.

The ship, which will be loaded with medical supplies for cancer patients, would be the latest bid to break Israel’s four-year blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory.

On Thursday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned the Lebanese government that it would be held responsible for ships sailing from Lebanon to the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reported.

Samar al-Hajj, who is organizing the Miriam voyage to Gaza, thanked Israel "for its threats which only strengthened these women’s willpower to make the trip. I tell the Israelis we are not afraid and we are going on with our plans."

When the IDF boarded the MV Mavi Marmara in late May, the Turkish government registered protests, but took no military action. Since then, although the Turks have voiced interest in issuing naval protection to any new forays by Turkish-flagged vessels, there doesn’t appear to be any gathering of warships from their navy.

The Mossad-connected news source, Debka File, reports today that it may be likely, should the IDF intercept and board the Lebanese flotilla, Hizbollah will react with rocket attacks upon Israel, from across the southern Lebanese border:

Officers of Hizballah’s Iranian-trained marine arm and surface rocket units were sighted Saturday, June 19, going in an out of the small Lebanese Navy’s bases in Beirut and Juniya. DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report the Lebanese army and Hizballah are pooling their military resources to be ready for any Israeli action against Lebanese ships heading for Gaza.

The tiny Lebanese Navy, no more than a handful of fast coastal guard boats, has been placed on alert, as have Hizballah’s coastal rocket positions. The Shiite terrorist group has also deployed marines in Beirut harbour against a possible Israeli naval commando raid.
Lebanese ship or ships bound for Gaza are potentially a more dangerous spark for a regional conflagration than even the convoys Ankara and Tehran – although all of them are pledged to the same mission of busting the Israeli blockade of Gaza and may mount a concerted assault.

All three are clearly coordinated: The two-ship Lebanese convoy planning to sail 70 women from different countries to Gaza is funded by Yasser Qaslaq, a Palestinian who in the guise of a Lebanese businessman acts as money courier between Tehran, Hizballah and extremist Palestinian organizations.

Israel’s UN ambassador Gabriela Shalev warned Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that Israel reserves the right to use "all necessary means" to stop the Lebanese boats. Attempts to sail from Lebanon, which maintains a state of war with Israel, she said, would raise regional tensions.

But instead of dealing with the mounting crisis, Ban again demanded that Israel accept an international investigation of its raid of a Turkish ship on May 31 and the nine deaths aboard.

Anxious to keep its head down, Hizballah claimed Saturday that it was not involved in the Lebanese flotilla, thereby trying to pass the buck to Beirut and Jerusalem. But its spokesmen pointedly avoided a guarantee to stay out of it if the Israel navy boarded Lebanese ships. The Iranian-backed terrorists, who in the name of "resistance" maintain a separate armed force armed with advanced weapons in violation of several UN Security Council resolutions, could not stand aside if Beirut accused Israel of an act of war.
The first Lebanese boat heading out for Gaza waters therefore holds the potential of scuppering the Lebanese-Israel truce under the UN Security Council Resolution which cut short the 2006 war, required the Hizballah militia to disarm, and posted UN-flagged German, Spanish and Italian naval units opposite Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast.

Their mission was – and is – to prevent Hizballah receiving weapons smuggled by sea or taking up an active presence in Lebanese ports and anchorages. However, the peacekeepers have never proved able to stop Hizballah building up one of the biggest rocket and missile arsenal in the Middle East – by sea and by land.

Today, the Lebanese army is reverting to its 2006 collaboration with Lebanon that permitted Hizballah missile teams to use its coastal radar stations to fire the Silkworm C-802 missiles which crippled the Israeli Hanit missile boat.

That’s the Debka File, which is often used by the Mossad or IDF to plant the seeds of paranoia. However, the situation, especially should the Iranians, Lebanese, Turks and Europeans unite before making a run to the Gaza coast, is fraught with potential danger. The reality in the eastern Mediterranean, come mid-week, might be rather different from that of the MV Mavi Marmara-MV Rachel Corrie episodes of late May and early June.

Although it is difficult to see other changes in the political climate concerning the international community’s regard for the Israeli government from the vantage point of reading or watching U.S. media these past three weeks, the climate in Europe has changed markedly. Yesterday, the Israelis refused to grant permission to a German cabinet member to visit Gaza to see what needs to be done to restore sewage treatment facilities to the besieged enclave:

German Development Aid Minister Dirk Niebel was denied entry into the Gaza Strip during his current visit to Israel, German officials said Saturday evening.

A ministry spokesman said talks had continued to the last moment with Israeli officials over Niebel’s aim to visit the Palestinian areas.

Niebel, who arrived in Israel earlier Saturday, had hoped to visit a sewage treatment plant being financed with German development aid.

Speaking on the second German TV network ZDF program"heute" (today) Saturday evening, Niebel expressed his anger about being denied entry.

"I would have wished for a clear political signal would be sent for an opening and for transparency," said Niebel, of Germany’s liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP).

"Sometimes the Israeli government does not make it easy for its friends to explain why it behaves the way it does," he added.

Niebel said that Israel’s latest announcement on easing the Gaza blockade was "not sufficient" and that Israel must "now deliver" on its pledge.

Beyond that, the government in Jerusalem should be "clear about how Israel, within an international context, wants to cooperate with
its friends in the future as well," the German minister said.

Earlier Saturday, the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that the German parliament is to issue a cross-party demand that Israel allow humanitarian aid to reach the Gaza Strip by sea.

As if to underline Niebel’s statements about Israeli "transparency," in another development between the Israeli and German governments, the Germans have refused to acquiesce to an Israeli demand that they not extradite Mossad operative Uri Brodsky from Poland to Germany, for Brodsky’s role in illegally acquiring German passports for use by the Mossad Dubai hit team last January. So much for the Israelis being able to keep their fingerprints off of that keystone cops episode, eh?

The German government has said it will not intervene to stop an investigation into a suspected Mossad spy linked to the assassination of a Hamas official in Dubai, despite pressure from Israel, a German newspaper reported on Saturday.

A German official told Der Spiegel his ministry was united in the belief that any investigation into Uri Brodsky should be "dealt with according to purely judicial considerations".

Brodsky, who was wanted by German authorities, was arrested on June 4 at an airport in the Polish capital Warsaw, provoking strong protests from Israeli diplomats. He is suspected of helping to procure a German passport for the killers of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, assassinated in a Dubai hotel room on January 19.

But despite Israel’s demands, Germany will not invoke a law citing "overwhelming public interest" to halt the investigation into Brodsky’s role in the killing.

The German government has asked Poland to extradite Brodsky for trial in Germany, something Israel had sought to prevent.

This is going to be a terrible summer for Israeli diplomacy, perhaps the worst since the Sinai invasion of 1956. Perhaps, even more than the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1956 Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of the Sinai and seizure of the Suez Canal from Egypt had the potential to end in an out-of-control scenario:

The operation, aimed at taking the Suez Canal, was highly successful from a military point of view but was a political disaster as a result of external forces. Along with the Suez crisis, the United States was also dealing with the near-simultaneous Hungarian revolution, and decided it could not criticise Hungary’s suppression of the revolutionaries and simultaneously avoid opposing its two principal European allies’ actions. The United States also feared a wider war after the Soviet Union threatened to intervene on the Egyptian side and make rocket attacks on Britain, France and Israel. Despite having no commercial or military interest in the area, many countries were concerned with what might be a growing rift between Western allied nations.

Nasser requested help from the USA on November 1, without requesting Russian assistance, and was at first skeptical of the efficacy of US diplomatic efforts at the UN, but later gave full credit to Eisenhower’s role in stopping the war.

With reports of more groups preparing for more future flotillas, one might ask, "How many of these will occur before something really bad happens, or the Israelis, somehow, do the right thing for a change – whatever that might be?"

The late Abba Eban is often misquoted as having said "The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." He actually used the term "Arabs," not "Palestinians." One can’t help wondering, though, as we watch Israel begin to come more and more unhinged and unglued, how many more opportunities the Israelis will have to miss to act humanely, before they truly do become a full-fledged pariah state.

The Lebanese should be very careful. They are Israel’s favorite target.

Uzi Dayan, Former Deputy Chief-of-Staff of the IDF, Threatens to Kill NATO Member Prime Minister

12:16 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The aptly named Uzi Dayan, the former Deputy Chief-of-Staff of the IDF stated yesterday, in response to the possibility of the Turkish Prime Minister accompanying a June Gaza relief flotilla :

"If the Turkish prime minister joins such a flotilla, we should make clear beforehand this would be an act of war, and we would not try to take over the ship he was on, but would sink it.”

So, our "greatest ally in the Middle East," the country that within the past two weeks has placed dozens of nuclear-armed cruise missiles in waters of the Persian Gulf within a few miles of some of the most valuable vessels in the U.S. Navy, is prepared to declare war against one of NATO’s longest standing members.

Jason Ditz, writing about Dayan’s statement, observed:

The explicit threat of war against Turkey is something new, however. While Israel starts wars with a casualness rarely seen in other nations, an attack on Turkey, a key NATO member with an enormous military, would be something quite different from a monthlong attack on the Gaza Strip or blowing up metro Beirut with air strikes.

The Israelis are acting more provocatively by the day. Investigative journalist Max Blumenthal, who is now in Israel, may be uncovering more lies right now. Max, perhaps more than any other individual, is tearing apart the IDF’s blatantly untrue narrative of the seizing of the Memorial Day relief convoy. Max is also urging American colleges and communities to more seriously consider seeking BDS moves against the apartheid state.

And another source tells me that more detail will emerge soon that validates what many people suspect to be the video of the murder of Furkan Dogan:

Sifting Through the Debris Left in the Wake of the First Gaza Flotilla

10:52 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The May 30, 2010 Battle of the First Gaza Flotilla, fought about 65 miles off the Israeli coast early Sunday, as the blockade runners were slowly edging away from the coast in night-time international waters, may be the most important maritime engagement in the eastern Mediterranean since World War II. There have been a number of operations and engagements there since 1942, but this one, while a tactical victory for the Israeli Navy, left them with a strategic dilemma for the foreseeable future that is insoluble.

There will be more flotillas. Many. The stance of the government of Israel and their sole supporter of substance, the USA, that the blockade needs to be sustained by any means, legal or not, will be assailed, as more young people and notable civil rights figures from more countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia seek to participate in the next flotillas.

Both sides will be better prepared next time. The MV Rachel Corrie may have been refitted so that it is un-jamable, so that when it is assaulted, everything that happens in real time, gets out in real time until it is intentionally shut down or destroyed. However, there is no visual evidence, similar to the real-time video link that emanated from the Mavi Marmara. Will the Israelis upgrade their ECM and EW suites to the point they can shut down live blog web sites and twitterers at will?

Read the rest of this entry →

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)

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

7:05 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

It will soon be dawn on the Eastern Mediterranean, and unless the Israeli Navy has ventured far out into international waters to intercept the boats and ships, the run to the coast should begin soon:

The live streaming isn’t at a host that I can download to The Seminal, but here’s the link.

Here is a link to freegaza.org’s twitter page.

The live video feed went blank about four hours ago. For a while, there was test pattern, then blank screen with the little round logo on it. The twitter feed has not been updated in over seven hours. Maybe everyone is just asleep. Hopefully, there are very active watches at the rails and on the radars.

It is 5:05 a.m. in Cairo and Tel Aviv right now. First light comes at just before 6:00 a.m. there.

I’ll bring more information to this post as comments, as the day there unfolds. I’ll try to remain here until the vessels either run the blockade or are intercepted and captured.

The best articles to have appeared on Saturday did not come from the American Press. BBC did a video scene that shows they have reporters in Gaza, on a ship in the flotilla, and near the detention facility the Israelis have set up in the port of Ashdod.

The most recent story, posted minutes ago in the Jerusalem Post, by Yaakov Katz, reports the following:

The Israel Navy was gearing up on Saturday night for what could become a dramatic showdown with five protest ships on their way to test the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Technical difficulties held up the fleet, which was initially scheduled to arrive off the Gaza coast on Saturday but is now expected on Sunday. While eight ships were initially scheduled to sail to Gaza, in the end a total of five ships were reported to be on their way after three suffered technical malfunctions.

One of the highest profile figures on the ships is Balad MK Haneen Zoabi, who said she was proud to do her part to end what she called a siege on Gaza. Right-wing MKs called for Zoabi’s arrest and ouster from the Knesset.

“Zoabi is working together with Israel’s enemies to encourage terrorism and harm Israel’s image internationally, and these acts constitute treason,” Likud MK Danny Danon wrote to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein in his request for him to order Zoabi’s arrest upon her arrival in Israel.

Part of the delay was caused by difficulties the organizers encountered in trying to have two dozen more would-be passengers, including 19 European legislators and a Holocaust survivor, join the ships anchored in international waters off Cyprus. The Cypriot government did not allow smaller boats to ferry the group to the flotilla.

Authorities in Cyprus said the decision was made to protect the island’s “vital interests,” including economic ties with Israel.

Organizers then appealed to the Turkish government to get the group out via a Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus port. Turkish Cypriot officials have said they want to help the group as much as they can.

In addition to encountering diplomatic obstacles and mechanical problems, the ships reportedly lost their satellite phone connections twice.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Friday that Israel would not allow the protest ships to violate its sovereignty, and that they would be stopped.

Let’s hope and pray nobody gets hurt.