Saturday, June 05, 2010

International Offensive of Hypocrisy

From: The Australian June 04, 2010, by Abraham Rabinovich, Jerusalem:

ISRAELI Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused his nation's critics yesterday of an "international offensive of hypocrisy", making the Jewish state's first major response to worldwide condemnation of its bloody takeover this week of a Turkish vessel said to be on a humanitarian mission to Gaza.
"This wasn't a love boat," Mr Netanyahu said of the Turkish cruise boat boarded by Israeli commandos, resulting in the deaths of nine activists. "This was a hate boat. These people weren't pacifists, they were violent supporters of terror. I ask the international community: what would you have done?"

Mr Netanyahu said the objective of the six-ship convoy that Israel forcibly diverted to its port of Ashdod was not to bring humanitarian assistance to residents of Gaza, but to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

The blockade, he said, was necessary to prevent the shipment of massive numbers of rockets and other armaments by Iran to the Hamas regime in Gaza. "Had the maritime siege been broken, hundreds more such flotillas would have arrived," Mr Netanyahu said. "If we don't inspect vessels coming to Gaza, there would be an Iranian port in Gaza."

An Iranian port on the Mediterranean would be a danger not only to Israel but to other countries in the region as well as in Europe, he said.

While Hamas has been able to manufacture its own short-range rockets and smuggle rockets into Gaza through tunnels from Egypt, a single ship could bring in armaments of a totally different magnitude, the Israeli leader said.

A vessel intercepted by the Israeli navy last year in the Mediterranean was found to be carrying 200 tonnes of Iranian armaments bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Preventing rockets from reaching Gaza, with which Israel is in a state of war, was not only the government's obligation to its people but also its right under international law, Mr Netanyahu said.

As for the deaths of nine activists aboard the vessel boarded this week by naval commandos, the Mavi Marmara, Mr Netanyahu expressed regret at the loss of life but said the men attacking the commandos boarding the vessel had staged a deliberate ambush with metal staves and knives and had fired guns with intent to kill, using weapons snatched from fallen commandos...

Friday, June 04, 2010

Terrorism from Gaza unabated: 4 Kassam rockets hit Israel

From JPost, 4 June 2010:

Four Kassam rockets were launched into Israel Thursday night. The rockets set off warning sirens in Sderot and Ashkelon, and exploded in open areas.

There were no reports of casualties or damage in the latest attacks from the Strip.

On Tuesday three [terrorists] were killed in an IAF airstrike in northern Gaza after firing two rockets into southern Israel. The rockets caused no injuries...

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Flotilla of Peaceful Human Rights Activists

"Peace Activists" Weapons Found on the Flotilla Ship

From idfnadesk — May 31, 2010:

During a search aboard the maritime vessel Mavi Marmara, IDF forces uncovered a cache of weapons including many knives, slingshots, rocks, smoke bombs, metal rods, improvised sharp metal objects, sticks and clubs, 5KG hammers, firebombs and gas masks in case IDF forces fired riot dispersal means at the activists as they violently attacked the soldiers.

These weapons were used against Israeli Navy personnel as they attempted to board the ship. 7 soldiers were injured during the incident, which included activists taking two pistols from the soldiers and firing at them.

Critical Security Needs for a Viable Peace

From The Jerusalem Center — May 25, 2010:

In any future agreement with the Palestinians, Israel has a critical need for defensible borders. This video outlines the threats to Israel from terrorist rockets, ballistic missiles, and conventional ground and air threats from the east.

Flotillas and Falsehoods

From National Review Online, June 1, 2010, by Mona Charen:

Don’t members of the press ever resent being so used?

The effort to destroy the Jewish state has many fronts. One front is in Iran, where the maniacal regime that has repeatedly promised to “wipe Israel off the map” marches inexorably toward a nuclear bomb. Another is in Gaza, from which Hamas has lobbed 10,000 missiles into Israeli cities. Yet another front, the most insidious, is comprised of the propaganda arm of the Palestinian movement. And this front thrives for only one reason — the complicity of the world press and the so-called “international community.”

It was the propaganda arm that staged the “Freedom Flotilla.” But there have been many previous productions: The propaganda arm was responsible for the photo-shopped images of damage to Lebanon during the 2006 war, the staged “death” of twelve-year-old Muhammad al-Durrah, the “massacre” at Jenin, and the “war crimes” in Gaza.

In each and every case, the “news” of Israeli atrocities was broadcast far and wide by organizations such as Reuters, AP, CNN, and AFP. The United Nations has offered its imprimatur to every libel. The truth seemed always to have a case of laryngitis.

Today, in the wake of the confrontation between Israeli soldiers and the provocateurs aboard the Gaza flotilla, the remarkably incurious world press is providing exactly the sort of headlines on which the organizers knew they could count. ...Every news outlet I checked docilely described the flotilla as “humanitarian.”

Don’t members of the press ever resent being so used?

Fact: Israel imposed a blockade of Gaza to prevent weapons from reaching the radical Islamic regime there that continues to make war on Israeli civilians. Egypt too has blockaded the strip, hoping to choke off weapons to Hamas, which it views as a threat.

Fact: Humanitarian relief is delivered to Gaza from Israel on a daily basis. During the first three months of this year, 94,500 tons of supplies were transferred to Gaza from Israel, including 48,000 tons of food products; 40,000 tons of wheat; 2,760 tons of rice; 1,987 tons of clothes and footwear; and 553 tons of milk powder and baby food for the strip’s 1.5 million inhabitants. Representatives of international aid groups and the United Nations move freely to and from the Gaza Strip.

Fact: Upon learning of the intentions of the Gaza flotilla, the Israeli government asked the organizers to deliver their humanitarian aid first to an Israeli port where it would be inspected (for weapons) before being forwarded to Gaza. The organizers refused. “There are two possible happy endings,” a Muslim activist on board explained, “either we will reach Gaza or we will achieve martyrdom.”

Fact: The flotilla ignored multiple instructions from Israeli navy ships to change course and follow them to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

Fact: On board one of the ships, according to al-Jazeera, the “humanitarian” Palestinians sang “Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad will return” — a reference to the 628 massacre of Jews in Arabia at the hands of Muhammad.

Hate Flotilla Stunt run by Islamic anti-Western IHH

From Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, May 26 2010:

IHH, which plays a central role in organizing the flotilla to the Gaza Strip, is a Turkish humanitarian relief fund with a radical Islamic anti-Western orientation. Besides its legitimate philanthropic activities, it supports radical Islamic networks, including Hamas, and at least in the past, even global jihad elements....

Follow the link for a detailed Portrait of IHH

Also go to the following 1 June 2010 postings on NGO Monitor, for more on IHH and other NGOs involved.

The Flotilla: how many Australian politicians, journalists and "thinkers" are on the wrong side of this front

From: The Daily Telegraph June 02, 2010, by Andrew Bolt:

...What a coup for those pledged to destroy that tiny Jewish country. How discredited and defenceless Israel seems. Someone couldn't have scripted this any better.

Well, almost no better, because even the journalists most sympathetic to the activists on the ships intercepted by Israel couldn't help but refer, albeit grudgingly, to a couple of untidy details too obvious to ignore.

ABC host Jon Faine, for instance, described these victims of Zionist aggression as "humanitarian activists with a few knives". Er, with knives? Humanitarians? And a strident report in The Age, Australia's most left-wing daily, conceded that video of the Israeli soldiers being lowered on to the ships from helicopters did shows some of the "hundreds of politicians and protesters" on board had offered "signs of resistance".

Here are some of those "signs of the resistance" that report failed to detail.

You see the Israelis, at first brandishing just paint-ball guns, being grabbed as they landed, dragged to the ground, and beaten brutally with pipes and clubs.

On another clip, apparently shot by protesters, a soldier is stabbed in the back, and then in the front. Another soldier is beaten and thrown over the side.

Photographs show two Israeli soldiers, one of them shot, being carried off with serious wounds. This isn't what you'd normally expect from "peace protesters" or "humanitarian activists", even those armed merely "with a few knives".

These clues suggest the media - and many foolish politicians - have fallen for a brilliant propaganda coup.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd also fell for it, saying he was "deeply concerned" and condemning "any use of violence under the sorts of circumstances we have seen".

His Foreign Affairs Minister, Steven Smith, likewise attacked Israel for a "terrible and shocking event" and demanded it hold an inquiry.

Not once did Rudd or Smith suggest an inquiry into who organised this trap in which Israel had fallen - or into those who now stand most to gain.

So who are we talking about? Here's another clue. The Israelis took over an "aid" flotilla trying to pierce the blockade which both Israel and Egypt have imposed on Gaza, controlled by the Islamist Hamas.

Only on one of six ships did the Israelis meet a resistance that clearly - and fatally - caught them by surprise. This was not on one of the ships manned by Western politicians, aid workers and other useful idiots brought along for camouflage.

It broke out instead on the Mavi Marmara, a ship supplied by a Turkish "humanitarian relief fund" known as IHH. IHH may boast about its good works, but intelligence agencies warn that it is in fact tied to Islamist terrorists.

In 2001, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, the prominent French counter-terrorism magistrate, testified in the trial of the "Millennium bomber" that IHH had played "an important role" in the plot to blow up Los Angeles airport. He said the charity was "a type of cover-up" to infiltrate mujahidin into combat, get forged documents and smuggle weapons.

In 2006, the Danish Institute for International Studies reported that Turkish security forces had raided the IHH's Istanbul bureau and found firearms, explosives and bomb-making instructions. The Turkish investigators concluded this "charity" was sending jihadists to Bosnia, Chechnya and Afghanistan.

IHH is a supporter of Hamas, listed in many countries as a terrorist group. This time it planned something more effective than an explosion. It decided to destroy Israel's moral standing among its more fickle friends.

Its Mavi Marmara would now head a flotilla to break through the Israeli blockade of Gaza - or, rather, to provoke Israel into stopping it by force. IHH head Bulent Yildirim gloated that this would be seen as "a declaration of war" against all the countries which supplied the flotilla's passengers, which is why so many foreigners, and particularly sympathetic journalists such as the Sydney Morning Herald's Paul McGeough, were on board, having been recruited from Australia, Britain, the US and many other countries that IHH and its allies hoped could be turned into enemies of Israel.

It was obvious Israel would act. It had to. To relax the blockade once would be to open a corridor to yet more ships, giving Gaza another conduit for the smuggling of jihadists and militarily useful supplies.

Oh, and ignore soothing claims now that Hamas, which runs Gaza, should actually be negotiated with, rather than blockaded. Hamas fires rockets at Israel and has a charter which calls for the destruction of Israel, declaring "there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad."

Indeed, jihad was also the spirit on the Mavi Marmara as it sailed for Gaza.

Those on board refused offers by Israel that they dock at an Israeli port so their aid could be checked and forwarded to Gaza. They rejected warnings to turn back. They prepared instead for confrontation. Arab television showed a woman exulting: "We await one of two good things - to achieve martyrdom or reach the shore of Gaza." She said: "These are people who wish to be martyred for the sake of Allah. As much as they want to reach Gaza, the other option is more desirable to them."

They got just what they wanted, then, as did Hamas and its chief backer, Iran. Iran, needing a distraction from its nuclear program, pumped out instant YouTube footage of this Israeli "atrocity".

Meanwhile Hamas spokesman Samil Abu Zuhri called for a global "intifada": "We call on all Arabs and Muslims to rise up in front of Zionist embassies across the world."

And in capital cities around Australia we yesterday saw the new front open as angry demonstrators took the streets. So what, you may scoff. A few of the usual hotheads. But see this time how many of our politicians, journalists and "thinkers" are on the wrong side of this front. See how willingly they've surrendered to a clever Islamist plot more effective than any Bali bomb.

International Law and the Hate Flotilla

From The San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994:

...Neutral merchant vessels

67. Merchant vessels flying the flag of neutral States may not be attacked unless they:

(a) are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture;
(b) engage in belligerent acts on behalf of the enemy;
(c) act as auxiliaries to the enemy s armed forces;
(d) are incorporated into or assist the enemy s intelligence system;
(e) sail under convoy of enemy warships or military aircraft; or
(f) otherwise make an effective contribution to the enemy s military action, e.g., by carrying military materials, and it is not feasible for the attacking forces to first place passengers and crew in a place of safety. Unless circumstances do not permit, they are to be given a warning, so that they can re-route, off-load, or take other precautions.


...98. Merchant vessels believed on reasonable grounds to be breaching a blockade may be captured. Merchant vessels which, after prior warning, clearly resist capture may be attacked....

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Hate Flotilla Planned Violence

From PMW, 1 June 2010, by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik:

The following are the words of Dr. Abd Al-Fatah Shayyeq Naaman, lecturer in Shari'ah law at a university in Yemen, now visiting Gaza:
"The [Gaza] flotilla commander said yesterday: 'We will not allow the Zionists to get near us and we will use resistance against them.' How will they wage resistance? They will resist with their fingernails. They are people who seek Martyrdom for Allah, as much as they want to reach Gaza, but the first [Martyrdom] is more desirable."
[Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas), May 30, 2010]

How the Hate Flotilla sailed into death at sea

From The Times (UK), June 1, 2010, by James Hider, Ashdod:

Before the [Hate] Flotilla steamed out of Cyprus laden with thousands of tons of aid for the blockaded Gaza Strip, some of the passengers on a Turkish-flagged cruise ship spoke to news crews filming their departure.

“We are now waiting for one of two good things — either to reach Gaza or achieve martyrdom,” said one woman in a headscarf. After a night of bloodshed on the high seas on Monday, at least nine of her fellow passengers, most of them believed to be Turks, had achieved the latter.

...Israel had denounced the Gaza flotilla as a publicity stunt to “humiliate” the Jewish state by publicly breaching its three-year siege of the Gaza Strip, where the Islamist movement Hamas holds sway. Determined to halt the six ships full of international activists  ...three Israeli missile boats slipped out of the northern port of Haifa at about 9pm to intercept the fleet in international waters.

...Over a loudspeaker, an Israeli naval officer warned the ships in English that they were in breach of the Israeli blockade of Gaza — deemed a “hostile entity” by the Knesset following the Hamas takeover. He ordered them to surrender their aid to the Israeli Navy, which would take it to the port of Ashdod and transfer it on lorries across the Israeli-controlled crossing with Gaza.

...At about 4am, Israeli Navy Seals from the elite Flotilla 13 unit were sent in three helicopters and in Zodiac assault craft to board the vessels. They had trained hard for the mission, but were expecting minor resistance. The plan was to land on the top deck of the Turkish ferry, rush the bridge and take control.

The Gaza fleet’s co-ordinators had said their colleagues on the five other ships had been schooled in non-violent resistance ...However, some of the hundreds of passengers on the Mavi Marmara had other ideas. As the Israeli Navy Seals rappelled, one by one, on to the upper deck of the ship, it was no longer clear exactly who was ambushing whom.

“They beat us with metal sticks and knives,” said one of the Israeli commandos, who hit the deck only to find a mob of furious demonstrators, rather than political protesters, armed with iron bars, baseball bats, knives, petrol bombs and stun grenades. An Israeli military night-vision video released after the chaotic storming showed the first soldier being overwhelmed as he landed, then pitched on to a lower deck by the crowd.

Still the Israeli soldiers kept coming, in a single vertical line, to be set upon. Video footage from the activists showed stunned soldiers being pummelled, one of them reeling for cover from the blows in a hatchway.

Meanwhile, other commandos were trying to scale the ship’s sides, but were having their hands beaten by activists determined to repel the boarders. According to the army, it was a “lynching,” with the passengers trying to break the soldiers’ arms and legs and beating them about the head.

Overwhelmed, some of the elite forces started losing their sidearms to the crowd. Others had their helmets and body armour pulled off them as they were hurled from deck to deck. Some of the Israeli soldiers had to dive into the sea to save themselves.

“They jumped me, hit me with clubs and bottles and stole my rifle,” one commando said. “I pulled out my pistol and had no choice but to shoot.”

An Israeli journalist on the missile boats said that the soldiers had been carrying anti-riot paintball guns to disperse the crowd, as well as pistols. These appeared to have little effect and the order was eventually given to resort to live rounds.

“There was live fire at some point against us,” a commando said. That was when the gunfire erupted at terrifyingly close quarters. When it was over, two hours into the operation, at least nine passengers were dead, dozens more were wounded and Israel stood in the glare of international condemnation as rioters tried to storm its consulate in Istanbul and its ambassadors across Europe were summoned to explain themselves.

Israel said that seven of its soldiers had been wounded, two of them seriously, in the pre-dawn mêlée. Critics said that they had used the wrong forces, pitching crack commandos who are used to storming weapons-smuggling ships into what was, essentially, a sea-borne riot.

Accused by European leaders of using disproportionate force — a charge reminiscent of the Gaza conflict and the subsequent UN inquiry — Israel rushed to defend its actions, saying that IHH, the Turkish Islamic charity that chartered the ferry, had links to Hamas and even al-Qaeda.

“There was extreme violence from the moment that our forces reached the ship. It was premeditated and included weapons, iron bars, knives and at a certain stage firearms, perhaps in some cases weapons that were snatched from soldiers,” said Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi, the Israeli Chief of Staff. But there was no explanation for the intelligence failure that led him to send his men armed primarily with paintball guns to face such a belligerent mob.

Last night the subdued flotilla was being towed into the sealed-off port of Ashdod, to await processing by the police. Those who agreed to deportation were to be escorted to the borders, while those who did not – including the Challenger 1’s two British passengers – were being taken to jail.

In hospital beds across Israel, wounded passengers spent the night under heavy guard by military police officers, still far from Gaza.

No Sympathy for the Foolish Flotilla

From Jewgle, 31 May 2010:

...Yet again, Israel is maligned and castigated as an aggressor, for defending itself against morally impaired enablers of terrorism. This is not about the border of Gaza. This is about the ability of Islamist supporters and their media enablers to garner sympathy for their unashamed and unconcealed objective to eliminate the Jewish state.

... Those lives would not have been lost had the instructions of the Israeli border control been respected and upheld. Do not blame Israel for responding to a vile threat of its territory, and an unjustified publicity stunt that is directed towards the existential security of its people.

Before you defend these low life protestors, consider that they were yelling anti-Semitic slogans. Before you scream civilians and children, ask just what civilians and children are doing being thrust into a stage managed provocation.

These people are anything but peace activists...

The role of Turkish Cyprus in the illegal Flotilla

The recent incident on MV Mavi Marmara is reminiscent of a similar attempt by supporters of the Tamil LTTE in May 2009 [to get "humanitarian aid" to a terrorist group] in Sri Lankan waters. A pro-LTTE organisation chartered a merchant vessel MV Captain Ali to make a daring attempt to land material and supplies directly to areas held by the LTTE prior to the final battle.

(See this article on the incident)

The ship was detained by the Sri Lanka Navy and turned back because it did not have the proper documentation. As a compromise the ship unloaded the cargo in India and was sent across to Sri Lanka by the Indian Red Cross.

A key factor in the Sri Lankan situation was that MV Captain Ali did not have the proper paperwork relating to the ETA details. Any ship leaving a port must indicate the destination under international maritime regulations. A ship cannot leave a port with an undisclosed destination.

In the case of the international flotilla bound to Gaza, the biggest breach of international law took place in Turkish Cyprus when the flotilla was permitted to leave without a designated destination port. The fact that Turkish Cyprus is permitted to exist as an unrecognised defacto state is one of the key problems in this case. They are not guided by international obligations and provide sanctuary and opportunity for illegal transport activity.

The Attempt of the "International" Flotilla to Break the Gaza Blockade

From an Op-ed, June 1, 2010, by Ely Karmon, Senior Research Scholar, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) and The Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS) at The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzlyia, Israel:

There are four strategic aspects involved in the botched attempt to break the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip and the tragic Israeli seaborne attack against the international flotilla on the night of May 31.

Hamas is interested to have free access to the Gaza harbor because it needs to provide the Palestinian population the necessary economic benefits it promised when it took control of the Strip in June 2007 by a bloody military coup. It also needs construction materials for rebuilding the houses and infrastructure destroyed during the Israeli Cast Lead operation triggered by the Hamas rocket attacks against Israel.

But above all Hamas wants to arm itself with long range missiles and other heavy weapons in order to be able to attack again Israel, on the example of Hezbollah.

Since the 2006 Second Lebanon War, not only Hezbollah has not been disarmed, as requested by the 1701 Security Council resolution, but it has rearmed itself with more than 40,000 missiles and rockets which cover all of Israel and practically kidnapped the Lebanese government and imposed on it, with Syrian, Iranian and Qatari support, the so called "Resistance" (Mukawma) strategy against Israel.

Not the UNIFIL forces in Southern Lebanon, nor the German Navy or EUROMARFOR - a force made up of ships from Portugal, Spain, Italy and France – did carry out their UN task of preventing the smuggling of illegal armament shipments to Hezbollah, as long as the Syrian border was uncontrolled and Iran and Syria were decided to support the Islamist organization.

Israel cannot permit itself to have a Hezbollah like entity in its southern border, 60 km. from its heavily populated central region.

The Israeli Navy and Army have succeeded to stop the attempt to give Hamas free hand to arm itself to the teeth.

The international organizers of the humanitarian aid flotilla are a hodgepodge of pro-Palestinian human rights groups of different political colors, naïve intellectuals and some anti-Zionist Israelis and Jews, which for years are struggling on all fronts to delegitimize Israel.

But the real force behind this operation were several Hamas front organizations and especially the Turkish IHH (Insani Yardim Vakfi, IHH - Humanitarian Relief Fund), a radical Islamic organization close to the Muslim Brotherhood. IHH supports Hamas materially and its strategy of armed struggle and has been outlawed by Israel in 2008.

From their point of view, the results of the flotilla operation were a huge media and political success, in spite or better said because of the "martyrdom" of their militants killed when trying to stop with cold weapons the Israeli commandos.

(see activists on board chant songs of martyrdom and scenes of violence against soldiers)

The Islamic Movement in Israel, with his own radical representatives in the flotilla, headed by Sheikh Raed Salah, makes a political breakthrough on the international arena. The false informations diffused about Raed Salah's serious injury or even death triggered violent manifestations of Arab Israeli citizens and the movement will try to capitalize on this event.

This is actually a faction of the Muslim Brotherhood, exactly like Hamas; the Islamic Movement was in great part responsible for the breaking up of the Second Intifada in October 2000 with the false informations it disseminated about the "imminent" destruction of the al-Aqsa mosque by the Jews. Although only some of its militants have been involved in terrorist activities in the past, one must remember that the Hamas was also a "pacific" movement from 1967 to 1987, during which period it prepared its religious, social and military infrastructure for the armed struggle during the first intifada.

Turkey, the AK (Justice and Development) Party and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan are the new important players in this drama.

In its second term in power the AKP, the Islamist self-styled "conservative," party, has retreated significantly from its "moderate image and democratic ideals," has turned into an increasingly semi-authoritarian force and has accelerated its internal anti-secularism agenda on all fronts.

One of the signs of this Islamization process has been the manifest anti-Israeli policy of the Erdogan government. It began with an official visit of the Hamas leadership in Turkey in February 2006, continued with Erdogan's unashamed attack on Israel's President Shimon Peres at the 2009 Davos Conference, the downgrading of the military cooperation between the two allied countries and a continuous diplomatic crisis.
The AKP and its leaders feel very close to the Hamas, a brotherly Muslim Brotherhood movement, at the expense of the Palestinian Authority. In January 2010, under strong Turkish diplomatic pressure, Egypt permitted pro-Palestinian activists, mainly Turks, to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border with a humanitarian aid convoy led by British parliamentarian George Galloway. The long stand-off culminated in clashes at the border, the death of an Egyptian soldier and the expulsion from Egypt of most of the activists.
In spite of Israel's attempts through diplomatic channels to convince the Turkish government to transport the present humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza through the Israeli border, the Turkish leaders preferred to support the provocative aid flotilla.

It seems the Turkish government was interested to achieve at all costs the end of the Gaza blockade and Hamas' international isolation in its bid for the leadership in the Palestinian issue, growing influence in the Arab world and strategic rapprochement with Syria and Iran.

The Palestinian issue is also an important card on the Turkish internal arena, a rallying populist flag for the Islamist masses, on the background of a continuing economic recession and serious progress in the public opinion of the secularist Republican People's Party (CHP), according to recent polls.

The cynical use by Erdogan and AKP of the Palestinian issue stands in contrast with the Turkish policy on the Kurdish problem. Erdogan failed to achieve any agreement with the PKK and its leader Abdullah Ocalan, who abandoned efforts to seek dialogue with Turkey. On May 20, Turkish warplanes bombed dozens of Kurdish rebel targets in their enclave in Northern Iraq and on May 31 the PKK retaliated with a rocket attack against a naval base in İskenderun which left seven soldiers dead.

The AKP's government concern with the "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza is difficult to understand when Erdogan claims that “A Muslim can never commit genocide” and at the same time is hosting and defending Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who faces worldwide condemnation for the genocide taking place in Darfur.

By the way, what was the reaction of the Turkish government to the attacks on May 28 on two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore, Pakistan, where at least 93 worshippers were killed in cold blood and more than a hundred wounded?

Never mind, no Muslim country protested the massacre and no country dared ask a Security Council urgent meeting.

However, it can be evaluated that the Turkish government will decide to expel the Israeli ambassador in Ankara and downgrade the diplomatic relations or even cut them off.

The Violence Perpetrated by the Terrorists on the Hate Flotilla

From Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 31/05/2010, by Reporter Leigh Sales:

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev says the conflict on aid ships destined for the Gaza Strip was started by terrorists.

To see the video in Windows Media follow one of these links:
LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: The Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev joins us now from Jerusalem.

Mr Regev, thank you for your time.


LEIGH SALES: Who initiated the gunfire?

MARK REGEV: It's very clear it came unfortunately from the activists inside the boats. Our sailors who went into the operation there were given specific instructions. This is a police operation, they were told. They were told that their objective is to tow these boats into our Port of Ashdod so the cargo could be checked. They were told "minimum amount of force to be used, maximum amount of restraint", and the violence was initiated by the people on the boats who attacked our soldiers with knives, with iron bars and of course with live fire as well.

LEIGH SALES: Mr Regev, I'm sorry, my earpiece dropped out in that so I couldn't hear what you said, so forgive me if the questions that I ask now go over some of the ground that you have just covered. What evidence is there that Israeli soldiers were fired upon? Do your boats bear bullet holes, does your equipment, do your soldiers, have bullet wounds?

MARK REGEV: We've obviously - we've got a whole series of injured soldiers. We're releasing video, have released and will continue to release as the boats come in. We'll be making evidence public. But I think everyone who was watching what we were doing prior saw that we made every effort possible to avoid confrontation, to avoid violence. First off we said that we're very happy to unload any humanitarian cargo for the Gaza Strip in the civilian Port of Ashdod and we'd push it through the crossings into Gaza.

If they didn't want to deal with us they could have done the same through the Egyptians who made a similar proposal to do it through the Egyptian Port of El-Arish. Unfortunately, they weren't really interested in delivering aid, they were interested in a confrontation, interested in, I s'pose, headlines for their cause. But they weren't - they did everything possible, unfortunately, to initiate violence here, which we had to respond to.

LEIGH SALES: You say that you'll be making the evidence public as the boats come in. Can you tell me what that evidence is?

MARK REGEV: Weapons, the injuries of our own soldiers, video footage. We actually embedded journalists with our troops and I'm sure they'll be reporting on what they saw. It's clear - Israel had no interest in violence, Israel had no interest in escalation. We wanted a police operation. We just wanted to tow these boats into our port in Ashdod.

LEIGH SALES: The Jerusalem Post reported earlier that live fire from the flotilla came from a weapon that those on board the boat took from one of the Israeli soldiers. Can you confirm if that's the case?

MARK REGEV: Yes, I can. I can confirm that was the case, where weapons were taken forcibly from our servicemen and used against them. Our servicemen were under instructions, once again - limited amount of force, limited amount of pressure whatsoever. They were supposed to act like police officers in an operation, and unfortunately the extremists on the boat I think exploited that situation and put some of our servicemen in very grave danger.

LEIGH SALES: But did those on the boats have their own weapons or did they only have access to weapons after the Israeli soldiers boarded?

MARK REGEV: That is being thoroughly investigated as we speak. It's not clear at this stage. What is clear is that they opened fire on our sailors.

LEIGH SALES: Was the force used by the Israeli soldiers in proportion to the threat that was encountered?

MARK REGEV: Once again, I think the viewers in Australia must understand: why do we have this naval blockade in the first place? And the reason is clear. You have countries like Iran, countries like Syria, organisations like Hezbollah that are trying to pump into Gaza advanced missiles, advanced rockets. And as you know, in Israel we've been on the receiving end of those rockets; they've come down on our civilians.

Just last year some 1,000 rockets were fired on Israeli civilians, and so that's the reason that a naval blockade is there and in place, and we have to have that blockade to protect our people. Why were the people on these boats so stuck that they refused to allow their cargo to go through a civilian port and to be examined? I just don't understand.

LEIGH SALES: That doesn't answer my question about whether in this specific case the force that was used in this incident was proportional to the threat.

MARK REGEV: Well, we'll obviously, and like every armed service in the democratic world, we will investigate thoroughly exactly what happened. It appears that unfortunately our team that went on the boats was attacked, they faced a very real and present danger by, once again, knives, iron bars and weapons themselves that were used against our sailors and as a result we had to respond. It was not our desire. The violence was not on our initiative.

LEIGH SALES: Is it not possible that Israel could have prevented this flotilla from entering its waters without boarding the boats?

MARK REGEV: Well, obviously we'll have to look into that possibility, but I don't think so. And you'll recall your own reporter - not your reporter; one of the activists on the boat said: "What was Israel using?" He said stun grenades and tear gas, and that was our goal to use non-violent means in order to do a police operation. Unfortunately, we were met with much, much more severe violence from the activists on the boat.

LEIGH SALES: Does Israel agree that this incident occurred in international waters?

MARK REGEV: Do you know, according to international law that question is irrelevant, because if you know your international humanitarian law, the San Remo memorandum states, specifically 67A, that if you have a boat that is charging a blockaded area you are allowed to intercept even prior to it reaching the blockaded area if you've warned them in advance, and that we did a number of times and they had a stated goal which they openly expressed, of breaking the blockade. That blockade is in place to protect our people.

LEIGH SALES: So Israel believes that it has fully complied with international law in this circumstance?

MARK REGEV: 100 per cent correct. If you look at international law, if someone is breaking your blockade, intends to do so, has been warned, you are allowed to intercept, and that's exactly what we were doing.

LEIGH SALES: Would the Israeli government be prepared to cooperate with an independent inquiry to piece together what happened here?

MARK REGEV: I don't know. I know the following, is that our own investigations are terribly independent. We've had investigations, our - the army has its own independent framework of military justice, and of course any investigations that are done by the military are open to independent judicial review by the courts. We really do have in place in Israel a system of checks and balances to make sure that investigations are both professional and independent.

LEIGH SALES: The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to meet with US president Barack Obama this week for talks on the Middle East peace process. What impact do you imagine this incident is going to have on those talks?

MARK REGEV: Hard to know at this stage. He's today meeting in Canada, tomorrow with prime minister Harper there and tomorrow due to move onto Washington for his meeting with president Obama. Obviously there are much larger issues on the table, whether it's the Iranian nuclear threat or trying to get the Middle East peace process back on track. It's clear however to all those people who want to move the peace process forward that Hamas is one of the major opponents of any progress in the peace process.

Hamas says no to peace, they say no to reconciliation. They support terrorism, they support violence. They're trying to overthrow the legitimate Palestinian government and they keep the people of Gaza under a brutal regime where they crack down on all independent political activity. They've locked up political opponents, they've closed all independent newspapers, they've even closed internet cafes.

You know, if you're a person living in Gaza under the Hamas regime and you're a Christian, or you're a gay, or you're a woman who wants to dress in a modern way, you will face immediately violent retribution from this regime. And I think a lot of those people who think that these activists are somehow human rights activists, well nothing could be further from the truth.

In the past when they've entered the Gaza Strip, the first thing they've done is gone and had their photographs taken with the Hamas leadership and received awards, medals from the Hamas leadership. These people are apologists for a brutal authoritarian regime.

LEIGH SALES: Mark Regev, thank you very much and I do apologise for our technical difficulties.

MARK REGEV: Not a problem. Thank you.

From Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 31/05/2010, by Reporter Kerry O'Brien:

To see the video in Windows Media follow one of these links:

Israel is facing a storm of international criticism after a deadly raid on a fleet of ships carrying aid to the Gaza strip. Israeli foreign affairs spokesman Yigal Palmor speaks with Kerry O’Brien live from Jerusalem.

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: Israel is facing a storm of international criticism after a deadly raid on a fleet of ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli Army says more than 10 people were killed after its commandoes were attacked with axes and knives and after they were fired on when they boarded the vessels. A Turkish charity says the death toll is at least 15.

The ships were carrying 10,000 tons of humanitarian supplies to Gaza as well as peace activists, challenging Israel's naval blockade which has been in force since 2007.

Israel is claiming it has the backing of international law, but that claim will be hotly disputed.

Joining me now from Jerusalem is Israeli Foreign Affairs spokesman Yigal Palmor.

Yigal Palmor, before we get to Israel's justification of this apparent slaughter, can you update on casualties, on what is happening with the survivors, including nationals, we're told, from 33 countries, and when will you allow independent media to hear the other side of this incident?

YIGAL PALMOR, ISRAELI FOREIGN AFFAIRS SPOKESMAN: I'll begin with the end. The independent media can hear the other side any time, any time they wish. We impose no restrictions. Anyone can report anything they want from anywhere in Israel and there were reports from the boats to certain international TV channels which showed live the boarding of the boats by the Israeli soldiers and how they were attacked by some of the militants. Now, what we know about the casualties at this moment is this: there are eight Israeli soldiers injured and more than 10 dead among the militants. I don't have a definitive number to give you at this point, but more than 10; and then, a few dozen injured. We don't have a definitive number there as well. All the injured and all the casualties were transported immediately by helicopter to hospitals in Israel. All the other foreign nationals, as soon as they reach the port of Ashdod, will be sent back home to their countries of origin, unless they choose to appeal to a local court and they decide to claim that they have a right to stay in Israel, in which case the law says that they can appeal with a lawyer of their choice, but meanwhile they will have to stay in detention. If they choose not to appeal, they will be sent to the airport and put on a plane back home as soon as possible.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Are you prepared to concede that totally innocent people from various countries whose only crime may have been that they wanted to protest against this blockade, or, in the case of some journalists, including two Australian journalists, simply wanted to cover the story, may have been killed or wounded. I'm not suggesting the Australian journalist was killed. But that innocent people may have been killed or wounded unless you consider everyone who climbed on one of these boats is in some way guilty in Israel's eyes?

YIGAL PALMOR: No, of course not, of course not. But anyone who has attacked with a knife or hatchet or a gun an armed soldiers is, of course, fair game. What can I tell you? If you are under attack, then yes, you are fair game, and unfortunately, these people who have chosen to attack the soldiers when there was no need for it, when there were other options to end all this pacifically, these people bear the responsibility for what has happened. They were warned time and again before they sailed to sea and while they were at sea that they would not be permitted to break into Gaza by force. They were offered other options even while they were at sea. They chose confrontation, this is what they were seeking, and they attacked armed soldiers who were boarding the ship with instructions not to use violence. So obviously they provoked a shootout, and unfortunately - and this is something we deeply regret - there are casualties now.

KERRY O'BRIEN: All of your language suggests that Israel was totally the innocent party on this, was not in any way the aggressor. You use terms like, "The people on these boats were going to break into Gaza." These were ships, we're told, loaded with supplies, with aid, with building supplies for Gaza which is depleted in all kinds of ways. How were they going to break in, these peace activists or the people wanting to unload these supplies?

YIGAL PALMOR: Let's make something very clear. You're talking about peace activists, but the major organiser of this sail of this armada, so to speak, is a well-known Turkish Islamic group, the IHH, which has been implicated in terrorist operations already in the '90s and then at the beginning of this decade and they have been in very, very close ties with Hamas, with controlling Gaza, funding them, sending them other types of assistance. Now, one violent Islamist group says they want to send regularly ships in assistance to another which controls with violence and illegally a territory, and you think that this should be go on as if nothing - as if that was business as usual? I don't think so. The IHH is a very dangerous Islamist group. I don't think their intentions were true or innocent. Unfortunately, they embarked with them some people who believed otherwise and people whom the Soviets would have been called "useful idiots". But the main organisers here were the IHH and no-one should make any mistake about the real aim of this group.

KERRY O'BRIEN: I'm not sure that the highly experienced Middle East correspondent from the Sydney Morning Herald Paul McGeough could be described as a "useful idiot". I can't speak for the others, ...

YIGAL PALMOR: I'm referring to the journalists. I'm referring to the activists.

KERRY O'BRIEN: ... but I imagine that amongst - I imagine amongst the hundreds there would have been many that weren't useful idiots. But there's been an avalanche of international protest at Israel's action. There's - this one from the French Foreign Minister sums it up. He said, "Nothing can justify the use of such violence, which we condemn. We do not understand the human toll of such an operation against a humanitarian initiative that has been known for several days." Now presumably the French Foreign Minister is not naive in these matters, so there is an enormous cavalcade of international outrage expressed at Israel's actions. Once again, you find yourself condemned by - including people, some of whom you would count as your friends.

YIGAL PALMOR: Yes, that is a fact, that is a fact and it's very easy to condemn based on what you see on TV. But when rioters are coming your way and they are determined to break everything, to spread, to wreak havoc everywhere, what do you do? Do you let them do that or you send riot police? Now riot police don't look good on TV and they will always be condemned, right? They never look good on TV. But you have to stop the rioters, and these people ...

KERRY O'BRIEN: Well particularly if you have a death toll of 15 or more.

YIGAL PALMOR: Absolutely, absolutely, I agree, but there was no other choice. These people said they were carrying humanitarian aid. Why were they not co-ordinating this with the UN or with the Palestinian Government? They refused to co-ordinate this with anyone who was relevant. Not Israel, granted, not Egypt, not the UN, not the Palestinian Government. Was this really about humanitarian aid? Well, the head of the IHH said just before the sail went - was set off that the real purpose was not the humanitarian aid but to break the blockade, so to seek confrontation. So this is not about humanitarian aid. This was about a confrontation between an Islamist armed group in assistance of another group.

KERRY O'BRIEN: There is of course the whole other question about whether you really do have international law at your disposal, but that's a debate we're going to have to hear over the days to come. We're out of time now. Thankyou very much for joining us, Yigal Palmor. Thankyou.

YIGAL PALMOR: Thankyou. Thankyou.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Gaza flotilla participants invoked killing of Jews

From Al-Jazeera May 29, 2010 (1 min):

Translation, from PMW, May 31, 2010:

Flotilla participants chanted Islamic battle cry invoking killing of Jews
Reporter: "Despite the Israeli threats and several unexpected delays, the arrival of the ships at the meeting point before sailing to the Gaza Strip inflamed the emotions and the enthusiasm of the participants."
Visuals from Gaza flotilla ship of young Muslims shouting Islamic battle chant invoking the killing and defeat of Jews in battle:
"[Remember] Khaibar, Khaibar, oh Jews! The army of Muhammad will return!"
[Khaibar is the name of last Jewish village defeated by Muhammad’s army and it marked the end of Jewish presence in Arabia in 628.]

Reporter: "While singing songs reminiscent of the Palestinian Intifada (Palestinian terror war against Israel, 2000 - 2005), participants expressed their longing to reach Gaza."

A participant: "Right now we face one of two happy endings: either Martyrdom or reaching Gaza." [Based on Islamic call before battle: "Either victory or Martyrdom".]

Rioting, Deaths and Injuries on Gaza Flotilla

From JTA, May 31, 2010:

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Up to 14 activists onboard a flotilla of ships bound for Gaza were killed during rioting after Israeli Naval forces boarded the ships to redirect them to an Israeli port.

Israel's Navy intercepted six of the ships early Monday morning as they attempted to break the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israel had radioed to the ships numerous times, requesting that they head to the port in Ashdod, where they could unload their aid material to be transferred to Gaza after security inspections, the Israel Defense Forces Spokesman said in a statement.

When Naval Forces boarded the shops, they were attacked with metal clubs and knives, as well as live fire, according to the IDF. "The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose," the statement said, adding that the Navy then used riot dispersal methods, which include live fire.

"The forces operated in adherence with operational commands and took all necessary actions in order to avoid violence, but to no avail," according to the IDF.

In addition to the reported 14 dead protesters, tens of protesters were injured and evacuated to Israeli hospitals. Ten Israeli soldiers were also injured, two in serious condition.

Obama needs to recognize the warning signs before it's too late

From "The West, Islam and Sharia" by By Peter Wehner, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.:

...Obama is among the most thin-skinned presidents we have had ...The president is constantly complaining about what others are saying about him. He is upset at Fox News, and conservative talk radio, and Republicans, and people carrying unflattering posters of him. He gets upset when his avalanche of faulty facts are challenged...

He gets upset when he is called on his hypocrisy, on everything from breaking his promise not to hire lobbyists in the White House to broadcasting health care meetings on C-SPAN to not curtailing earmarks to failing in his promises of transparency and bipartisanship.

In Obama's eyes, he is always the aggrieved, always the violated, always the victim of some injustice. He is America's virtuous and valorous hero, a man of unusually pure motives and uncommon wisdom, under assault by the forces of darkness.

It is all so darn unfair.

...With Obama there is also the compulsive need to admonish others, to point fingers, to say that the problems he faces are not of his doing.

...The president's instincts are by now obvious to all: deflect blame, point fingers, and lash out at others, most especially his predecessor.'s clear he has adopted an image of himself as something rare and remarkable, a historic figure of almost super-human abilities.

"I am absolutely certain that generations from now," Obama said during the summer of his presidential run, "we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth ...We are the ones we have been waiting for..."

...Barack Obama -- a man who was as unprepared to be president as any man in our lifetime -- has over the last 16 months shown that he is overmatched by events. His poll numbers continue to drop, his health care proposal is becoming less rather than more popular, the oil spill in the Gulf is badly eroding his image for leadership and competence, and his party has been battered in election after election since November. We have now reached the point where Democrats are running against Obama and his agenda in order to survive...

...When arrogant men lose control of events it can easily lead to feelings of isolation, to striking out at critics, to bullying opponents, and to straying across lines that should not be crossed.

And so the president needs to surround himself with people who can tamp down on the uglier impulses within his administration, who are willing to tell Obama that the lore created by him, Axelrod, Plouffe, and Gibbs during the campaign has given way to reality, that cockiness is not the same as wisdom, and that spin is no substitute for substantive achievements. And Obama needs someone who has standing in his life to tell him that the presidency is a revered institution that should not be treated as if it were a ward in Chicago.

The ingredients are in place for some serious problems down the road. Those who care for the president need to recognize the warning signs now, sooner rather later, before it becomes too late, for him and for the nation.

anti-Israel flotilla a hateful fake

From JPost, 28 May 2010, by ZOE FOX:

...Israel advocacy group StandWithUs plans to greet the European convoy with its own demonstration at sea.  ...The counter-flotilla ships will be covered in “Free Gaza from Hamas” banners and boat owners will wear bloodstained T-shirts, representing Hamas’s terror record.

...“What the other anti-Israel flotilla is doing is ignoring human rights abuses and focusing on a fake situation,” Michael Dickson, StandWithUs’s Israel director, told The Jerusalem Post Thursday.

Dickson believes the European activists care more about hurting Israel than helping the Palestinians in Gaza. ...Dickson said that the European activists’ aid could have reached Gaza in a day instead of a week if they weren’t interested in making a publicity statement.

“I think that the key thing is that this is not some fair-minded mission coming in that cares for peace. Their flotilla is driven by hate, rather than peace. They don’t really care about the victims who live under Hamas in Gaza and the south of Israel,” he said.

...“If the activists had done their homework instead of believing Hamas propaganda, they would also have found out that their assistance isn’t needed. There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” Dickson said.

“The Hate Flotilla” Chants anti-Semitic Slogans That Threaten a Genocide of Jews

From Middle east Affairs Information Center, 30 May 2010, by Crethi Plethi:

According to a Foreign Ministry press release on Sunday [may 30], Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon criticized the effort [the aid flotilla], saying anti-Semitic chants voiced by the activists on board earlier in the day showed the “real motivation” for the campaign, which he termed an “armada of hate.”

Participants on the flotilla were recorded shouting “Khaybar Khaybar ya yahud, Jaish Muhammad saya’ud,” which means “Jews, remember Khyabar, the army of Mohammed is returning.”

This cry relates to an event in the seventh century when Muslims massacred and expelled Jews from the town of Khaybar, in modern-day Saudi Arabia.

“Israel condemns the anti-Semitic chants that were publicized this morning,” Ayalon said. “This amply demonstrates that many are not against a particular policy of the Israeli government, but have very real and dangerous hatred for Jews and the Jewish State.”

He further noted that “the main organizer of the flotilla is an extremist Islamic organization with ties to Hamas and global Jihad and it is unfortunate that there are those who are duped into thinking that this exercise has anything to do with humanitarianism or human rights.”

...Deputy FM Ayalon referred to the boycott of Israeli products by the Palestinian Authority, and stated that "After Israel declared its acceptance of the two-state solution, froze construction and removed roadblocks, the Palestinians are continuing their incitement against Israel. This is a rejection of mutual trust. It is impossible to talk peace on the one hand, while continuing with incitement on the other.

Obama administration engaging with Hamas

From JPost, 31/5/10, by KHALED ABU TOAMEH:

A number of Hamas leaders have hinted over the past few days that the US administration has begun talking to the Islamist movement through both official and non-official channels.

...Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum on Sunday called on President Barack Obama to reconsider the entire US policy vis-à-vis the Middle East and to “fulfill his promises to the Palestinians by distancing himself from pro-Zionist policies.” ...Barhoum said that Hamas sees Obama continuing the “destructive doctrine” of his predecessor, George W. Bush, by supporting Israel and its military capabilities. “Obama’s policy is in violation of the famous speech that he delivered in Cairo [in June 2009] and in which he promised the peoples of the Middle East peace, security, freedom and mutual respect,” he added.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal ...and other top Hamas officials recently met with a number of American delegations that visited Damascus and the Gaza Strip. ...Taher a-Nunu, spokesman for the Hamas government, said that [prime minister] Haniyeh sent a letter to Obama a few months ago calling for an end to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and Washington’s “double standards” toward the Middle East conflict.

Nunu said that the letter also included a request to Obama to change his policy toward the Palestinians and their rights. He said that Hamas’s decision to initiate contact with Obama came in response to his “positive” statements during his visits to Egypt and Turkey.

Israel "expendable" or Obama "confused"?


...Over the weekend, Israeli officials were angered and surprised by the Obama administration’s decision to support the vote at the UN by 189 member states of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to single out Israel for its alleged possession of nuclear weapons...

The vote Friday garnered an unusually harsh Israeli retort over the weekend, in which the Prime Minister’s Office said the resolution “ignores the realities of the Middle East” and focuses “on the only country in the world that is actually threatened with annihilation.” Toronto on Sunday, ...told some 7,000 people ...that “the establishment of the State of Israel has given the Jewish people the power to repel the attacks on the Jewish people. ...Israel will never give up the power to defend itself.

Referring to Iran as the number one threat to Israel, Netanyahu said, “We have to ensure that this regime, the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism, does not acquire the weapons of mass death.”

The American vote in support of the resolution on Israel’s nuclear facilities has cast a shadow over the Tuesday meeting in the White House between Netanyahu and Obama. That meeting, which was originally intended to deal with recent advances in the diplomatic process as US-mediated proximity talks with the Palestinian Authority began, will now deal also with the nuclear issue. “This vote left us feeling that the White House is saying that Israel’s needs are expendable in the search for international consensus,” a diplomatic source said on Sunday.

...Netanyahu is expected to use Tuesday’s meeting to ask why the US allowed the resolution to pass ...The answer may reflect a confused American policy...

Obama "confused"
(Photo by: Associated Press)

...Netanyahu used his speech in Toronto to reiterate his long-standing insistence on a demilitarized Palestinian state as a key Israeli demand in peace talks, saying that Israel couldn’t afford a third Iranian presence – in addition to Lebanon and Gaza – overlooking the hills of Tel Aviv.

“We must insure that any future Palestinian state is effectively demilitarized – not just a paper agreement. We’ve had a lot of paper agreements with the international community. We had one in Lebanon – it didn’t work. And we had one in Gaza that didn’t work. Here we must have effective arrangements on the ground, in which Israel and Israel alone can vouch for its security. We’re prepared to make compromises for peace, but I’m not willing to make any compromises on our security,” he said.

Netanyahu also insisted that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.... “Just we as we are asked to recognize a nation state for the Palestinian people, the Palestinians will have to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people,” he said.

*Oded Ben-Josef contributed to this report.

Expelling Israeli diplomat was a confected, self-serving exercise

[file photo]
Australian Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith announced the "confected, hypocritical, self-serving" expulsion on Monday, the first day of parliament's new sitting, the day it was likely to face its heaviest pasting over the resource super-profits tax; just as the earlier outburst of confected anger against Israel coincided with a spike in the pink batts controversy. It is "very low-grade behaviour to ruin a key relationship such as that with Israel for domestic political advantage."

 From: The Australian May 29, 2010 by Greg Sheridan, Foreign editor:

...this week... Kevin Rudd's government [expelled] an Israeli diplomat over the Dubai passports affair ...
"It was an over reaction," [Opposition leader Tony] Abbott says.

"Sure Britain has done this but other nations whose passports were misused have not.

"I think we need to understand that Israel lives in a far more dangerous world than the rest of us. Sincere friendship means an honest understanding of the dangers they face.

"I don't condone the misuse of Australian passports. The big difference between Israel and almost every other country is that Israel is under existential threat."

There is now a greater difference between the main parties over Israel than at any time since Gough Whitlam.

The Abbott-led Liberal Party is now much more deeply committed to the Israel relationship than the Rudd-led Labor Party.

Rudd's policy towards Israel mirrors his policy towards an Emissions Trading Scheme - an extravagant and emotional level of promise, followed by a complete failure of delivery, marred by short-term political expediency.

This is a tough judgment, but it is the only one that fits the facts.

The Hamas terrorist leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was assassinated in Dubai earlier this year, almost certainly by Mossad agents. They used Australian, British, French and Irish passports.

First to the morality of the operation. Mabhouh was a leader of Hamas, which is pledged to Israel's violent destruction. He had much innocent blood on his hands. His assassination is morally exactly the same as when an Australian SAS unit targets an al-Qa'ida leader for attack in Afghanistan, as the SAS has often done. It is an even closer parallel to US drones hitting a terrorist in a border area of Pakistan. US President Barack Obama has decided, with Australian support, that merely fleeing the conflict zone of Afghanistan to the haven of Pakistan will not prevent an al-Qa'ida or Taliban terrorist being killed by US forces. So any Canberra moral outrage at the Israeli operation, which Foreign Minister Stephen Smith describes without qualification, or sophistication, as murder, is hypocritical and confected. Objecting to the misuse of Australian passports is entirely reasonable. But the manner in which the Rudd government has effected the expulsion demonstrates cynicism and short-term political opportunism.

When the passport misuse was first revealed in February, the Rudd government made a great song and dance about it. Emotions ran high. The government in effect sooled the Australian media on to savage Israel. It made sure there were cameras outside the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade when the Israeli ambassador, Yuval Rotem, was summoned for a ritual dressing down.

For six weeks, the Israelis were cast into diplomatic outer darkness. There was no dialogue of substance between Canberra and Jerusalem. Then suddenly there was a thaw. As part of its initial response the government sent a delegation of Australian Federal Police to Israel. This was all show - and a pretty poor show given their well-publicised problems with Israeli traffic - as the AFP could tell the government nothing more than it already knew. The Israelis did the operation but there is no proof.

The long delay of three months with nothing happening, and the deliberate resumption of diplomatic dialogue, led the Israelis, and Israel's friends in Australia, to believe the government was going low key. Then, all of a sudden, some internal dynamic changed and a couple of weeks ago, the government sent ASIO director David Irvine to Israel. Irvine is an official of the highest possible quality. But his trip, and the fact that Smith this week publicised it, represents an overt politicisation of ASIO by the government. The Irvine trip, which could produce nothing more than the AFP trip, gave the government cover for the expulsion. The manner and timing of the expulsion reflect very poorly on Rudd.

The government decided to announce the expulsion on Monday, the first day of parliament's new sitting. This was the day it was likely to face its heaviest pasting over the resource super-profits tax, just as the earlier outburst of confected anger against Israel coincided with a spike in the pink batts controversy.

This is a government obsessed with the management of the daily media cycle. The Opposition's foreign affairs spokeswoman, Julie Bishop, instinctively supported Israel but did so incompetently and gave the government more opportunity for confected outrage. But it is very low-grade behaviour to ruin a key relationship such as that with Israel for domestic political advantage.

Smith claimed that he was taking the action to expel an Israeli more in sorrow than in anger.

But Smith made his statement in parliament to get the greatest possible media. Although the government had all the information it needed for any action for months, there was a sense of rush at the last minute. Bishop was rung at 11.30am and abruptly told senior officials were on their way to her office to brief her. The officials were in her office while Smith was making his noon statement. The Israeli embassy was not told of the impending expulsion until 11am.

This is a great contrast to the British behaviour. When the British expulsion was announced, the Israeli diplomat was already back home. If you are doing something to an old friend, more in sorrow than in anger, surely you tell the old friend first.

Similarly, it is a great breach of normal practice for a friendly country to publicise the visit of an agency head, such as Irvine. The fact the government publicised the visit is a politicisation of ASIO. It is the government using a national security smokescreen to cover what is entirely a political decision.

Smith also let it be known that the Israeli to be expelled was the Mossad chief in Canberra. In 2006, under the Howard government, Australia and Israel decided to station senior intelligence people in each others' countries. There was a Mossad officer among the Israeli diplomats in Canberra and an ASIO person in the Australian embassy in Tel Aviv. These are declared positions of friendly agencies. They don't spy on each other, but work together.

Australia and Israel for many years have had close intelligence exchanges. The chiefs of our other intelligence agencies also visit Israel, but quietly, and gain an enormous amount of information and insight from every visit. We also send senior national security personnel from across a number of agencies for short courses.

Smith said intelligence co-operation between Canberra and Jerusalem would now cool for an indefinite period. This will be entirely to our detriment. Despite the recent difficulties, not least its agents being filmed in Dubai, kilo for kilo, the Mossad is without question the best intelligence agency in the world.

Australia has significant interests in Iraq, is acutely concerned with Iran, and will, according to our own Counter-Terrorism White Paper, quite likely be a target of Hezbollah terrorism. On all these subjects no country is better informed than Israel. At this stage, Israel has not asked the ASIO representative to go home. Nor is it clear how long the ban on a Mossad agent coming to Canberra will be enforced. Equally, it is not clear Israel will bother sending a Mossad officer to Australia.

This whole sequence has the hallmarks not of an intelligence operation but a Hawker-Britton operation, the Rudd government using one of the most sensitive relationships Australia has to distract the media from the political agenda.

Julie Bishop's clumsiness helped the government. She was mistaken to stress it's not proven whether the Israelis did the operation and she was mistaken to answer yes to the idea that Australia also forges passports, even though I have reported this on two occasions in The Australian and Smith would not deny it at his press conference.

Some context is important. Australian intelligence agents, but also police and others associated with combating drug smuggling and the like, often travel on false Australian passports, that is, passports that do not carry their true identities. That is almost routine.

Much more rare, but not entirely unheard of, is using the passport of another nation. However, it's easy to construct a scenario where this might happen. Say, hypothetically, Canberra wanted to send an ASIS agent of Pakistani origin to Pakistan for an operation and didn't want any indication of an Australian presence. Such an agent might use a Pakistani passport. It's unlikely Australia would forge the passport itself as this is difficult and resource intensive. Instead it would probably borrow such a passport from the British, known to be master forgers, or the Americans.

The government's outrage against Bishop was entirely confected.

The government also suggested the Israelis had broken a specific agreement with Australia over passports. This is almost certainly untrue. The Israelis don't acknowledge their passport forgeries and to promise not to do it again can only be predicated on them having done it in the first place. No Howard government minister has any recollection of any such agreement.

The Israelis operate in a unique environment. They have to undertake operations in the Middle East. But use of an Israeli passport in most Middle East countries is impossible. So they are forced to use other passports.

Israel is incredibly beleaguered at the moment. It has never been under such sustained political attack. In many parts of the world, anti-Israel sentiment is morphing into traditional anti-Semitism. By making such a cynical and exuberant public relations bonanza out of this episode, the Rudd government is directly licensing the recrudescence of the worst sentiments imaginable. I can't conceive that this would have been Dietrich Bonhoeffer's way.

The government dismayed many of its own supporters, who took its previous rhetoric about friendship with Israel seriously. Michael Danby is the Labor member for the critical Melbourne seat of Melbourne Ports.

He is in no sense a marginal figure in Labor. He is a former secretary of Labor's national security committee, a former Labor whip, and the chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs sub-committee, that is the most senior parliamentarian, outside the ministry, on foreign affairs.

Yesterday, he said: "The expulsion was the wrong policy response. Even if there was some obscure previous incident, Berlin and Paris are as sophisticated as the mandarins of Canberra and their reaction (no expulsion) demonstrates why we did not have to ape the British Foreign Office. Stephen Smith should have made a recommendation to the NSC having the more worldly overview, that this harsh proscription would feed the international campaign of delegitimation of Israel.

This harsh reaction by Australia comes just at a time when we want the Israelis to be as flexible as possible in the new peace talks with the Arabs. This folly, this over reaction, has unwittingly encouraged bigots elsewhere, who have their secret passions sanctioned. I have suggested a series of steps to the Prime Minister to overcome this successful attempt to blot Labor's copybook just weeks before an election."

That's what the government's friends think of it.