White House Protest Corps

Erdoğan warns turning blind eye to raid will legalize future brutality

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has warned the international community about the potential harm of turning a blind eye to the illegality of the May 31 Israeli raid on an aid flotilla in the eastern Mediterranean that led to the deaths of nine peace activists, saying such an approach would inevitably lead to repetition of similar violent acts.



“Look, I want to say it because it is important to our agenda. On May 31, there was a very grave violation of international law,” Erdoğan said on Wednesday at a UN meeting held in İstanbul.

Nine Turkish nationals were killed last Monday during an Israeli commando raid of the Mavi Marmara, part of a six-vessel convoy that set out to challenge the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israel said its troops used lethal force in self-defense after they were attacked by pro-Palestinian activists wielding clubs and knives. Both Turkish leaders and the global public were infuriated by the killings.

“Israeli commandos attacked passengers of ship, which included civilian aid volunteers from 32 countries carrying humanitarian assistance to Gaza and slew exactly nine innocent people.

Twenty-four people were wounded. Remaining silent, again, about this attack, which took place in international waters and which is completely unlawful, and turning a blind eye [to this attack] like [has been done in] the earlier [examples] will open a new wound in the conscience of humanity,” Erdoğan went on to say.

The two-day regional conference on progress towards the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals will close today. The conference, which draws on the full strength of the UN system, is hosted by the Turkish government and co-organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). In line with the theme of the conference, Erdoğan reiterated Turkey’s call to international bodies, which it says should be more representative and should be proactive in dealing with regional and international disputes that erode mutual confidence among nations of the world.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned the international community that the May 31 Israeli raid may be repeated if the world turns a blind eye to it, while speaking at a UN meeting in İstanbul, on Wednesday.

“Violations of law committed by a state — in an irresponsible manner, thoughtlessly, fearlessly and without any hesitation — will harm humanity’s sensitivity to justice and will further diminish the trust among international organizations,” Erdoğan said.

“If we are talking about global peace and if we are sincerely aware that we have to find solutions to global problems together, then we have to display a humanitarian stance against these kinds of unlawful [incidents], — a just, determined and courageous stance. Those who remain silent, who remain indifferent, and who turn a blind eye will not only be partner to these massacres, but will also legitimize new attacks in the future and will be lending support to such attacks,” he said. Erdoğan’s speech in İstanbul came on the same day when certain powers notified the UN nuclear watchdog of their concerns regarding the proposal for Iran to send 1.2 tons of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for reactor fuel.

Russia, France and the United States handed a response to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano, said the IAEA and diplomats on Wednesday. It was then sent to Iran’s IAEA envoy before a pending UN Security Council vote on new sanctions against Tehran.

The United States has said Tehran’s decision to back the nuclear fuel swap deal, brokered by Turkey and Brazil, is a ploy to avoid new sanctions against Iran, the world’s fifth-largest crude exporter. Diplomats said Iran’s proposal lacked practical details needed to carry it out. In İstanbul, Erdoğan called the deal “a diplomatic victory.” He said, “A victory of diplomacy has been gained in the name of regional and global peace.”

As Israel kills and Maims, Outrage is Directed at Helen Thomas

Alison Weir for Salem-News.com


In Thomas’s lifetime Israel has ethnically cleansed over a million people, replaced them with colonists from around the world, committed dozens of massacres, tortured thousands, killed and maimed untold numbers of children…

The one and on Helen Thomas, has been covering White House Affairs for half a century; like Dan Rather’s report about George W Bush’s shoddy and shameful military past,

(PORTLAND, Ore.) – Whenever Israel commits yet another atrocity, its defenders are quick to redirect public attention away from the grisly crime scene.

Currently, there are headlines about allegedly anti-Semitic comments made by senior White House correspondent Helen Thomas. Pundits across the land evince outrage at her off-the-cuff 25-second statement made to a man who appears to be holding a camera right in her face.

Thomas issued a public apology for her words, but this was insufficient to assuage the wounded feelings of powerful antagonists, and she has now retired from a long and distinguished career.

Before we examine her comments and evaluate their possible validity, let’s look at other recent events having to do with Israel.

On May 31st Israeli commandos killed at least nine unarmed volunteers attempting to take humanitarian supplies to Gaza.

According to eyewitness reports and forensic evidence, many of these aid volunteers were shot at close range, including a 19-year-old American citizen killed by four bullets to the head and one to the chest fired from 18 inches away.

Israel immediately imprisoned eyewitnesses and hundreds of other aid participants, confiscated their cameras, laptops, and other possessions, and prevented them from speaking to the press for days. Among the incarcerated were decorated U.S. veterans and an 80-year-old former ambassador who had been deputy director of Reagan’s Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism.

When they finally emerged and were able to tell their stories, many described horrific scenes of Israeli commandos shooting people in the head, of those tending the injured being shot in the stomach, of people bleeding to death while flotilla participants waved white flags and pled for help.

They also described being beaten brutally by Israeli forces, again and again – including those on ships that, in the U.S. media’s judgment, experienced “no violence.” A 64-year-old piano tuner from California, Paul Larudee, described hundreds of Israeli commandos boarding his ship. When he refused to cooperate with them, soldiers then beat him numerous times both on board the ship and after he was imprisoned on land.

Eventually he was taken by ambulance to an Israeli hospital. He wasn’t treated, however, and Larudee believes he was taken there because Israel didn’t want media to see his black eye, pronated joints, bruised jaw and body contusions.

Marine veteran Ken O’Keefe described similar beatings while in Israeli custody. In his case, the public was able to see his bloodied, battered face in video clips and still images – but only on the Internet, since American mainstream media failed to report on his press conference or to publish the many still photos of his injuries.

Other gruesome photos available to the American public only on the Internet are of Emily Henochowicz, a 21-year-old American student whose eye and eye socket were recently shattered by Israeli forces. She has since had her eyeball removed, three metal plates inserted in her face, and her jaw wired shut.

Henochowicz was not on the flotilla; she was taking part in a nonviolent demonstration against the Israeli assault when an Israeli soldier shot a high-velocity teargas canister into her face.

A Swedish citizen standing with Henochowicz said, “They clearly saw us. They clearly saw that we were internationals and it really looked as though they were trying to hit us. They fired many canisters at us in rapid succession. One landed on either side of Emily, then the third one hit her in the face.”

Henochowicz is not the first to have been shot by such a canister.

Thirty-year-old Basem Ibrahim Abu Rahmeh died when an Israeli soldier shot one at him at close range while Abu Rahmeh participated in a demonstration against Israeli confiscation of Palestinian farmland. A video of this is also available on You Tube; U.S. networks have also chosen not to broadcast this.

Californian Tristan Anderson was shot in the head by a similar canister while he was taking photographs following another demonstration. Part of Anderson’s brain was removed and he was in a “minimally responsive state” for 6-7 months.

He is now in a wheelchair, has almost no movement in his left arm and leg, is blind in one eye, and his mental functioning is significantly reduced. Photos of the shooting are also available on the Internet.

Since at least 2006 Israeli forces have closed off Gaza to the outside world, essentially imprisoning 1.5 million men, women, and children, and denying them foodstuffs, medicines, and building materials, as documented by such agencies as Amnesty International, Oxfam, and Christian Aid, which said that Israel was using food and medicine as weapons.

One of the multitudinous victims of this illegal siege is five-year-old Taysir Al Burai, who suffers from an acute neurological disorder and requires round-the-clock care. According to the UK Guardian, he could be cured if Israel would allow him to leave Gaza, but to date his parents’ repeated requests have been denied.

Another victim is 7-month-old Mohammad Khader, whose swelling in the brain required specialized treatment unavailable in Gazan hospitals depleted by the Israeli siege. His distraught parents’ applications asking Israel to allow them to travel abroad were similarly denied. Their tiny son died a few days ago.

Such stories go on and on.

Thomas’s “outrageous” statement

Yet, the rage we see in the U.S. media is directed against none of this. People shot in the head, eyes and brain parts destroyed, the elderly beaten, small children and infants caused to suffer and die, parents to grieve – none of this has caused a hint of anger. In fact, most of it has been considered of too little importance even to report.

Instead, media reports are filled with outrage at “anti-Israel” words spoken by 89-year-old Helen Thomas.

In Thomas’s lifetime Israel has ethnically cleansed over a million people, replaced them with colonists from around the world, committed dozens of massacres, tortured thousands of people, killed and maimed untold numbers of children, mangled limbs, and committed outrages on women, old people, the weak and the infirm.

It has assassinated people throughout the world, invaded numerous countries, spied on the U.S., killed and injured 200 American servicemen (the anniversary is this week), and tortured and imprisoned Americans. All while receiving more American money than any other country on earth.

For years, long before her recent words, Thomas has been the target of Israel’s vicious American volunteers, the Zionist blogosphere abounding with nasty slurs on her looks and her Lebanese ancestry, this latter also consistently emphasized by the media, despite her Kentucky birth and upbringing.

One of the reasons for the ferocious animosity toward her is the fact that Thomas is one of the very few mainstream reporters to challenge the neocon engendered lies that led the U.S. into wars that have caused massive death, destruction and tragedy and to continue to expose ongoing policies of violence and cruelty.

As the same groups and individuals who pushed the US into attacking Iraq have in recent years been escalating their efforts to push the U.S. to now similarly decimate Iranians under the pretext that Iran might be developing nuclear weapons, Thomas’s questioning attempted to elicit from Obama the fact that Israel already posses nuclear weapons. While the rest of the press corps has conspired in the cover-up of this fact and others, Thomas worked to expose them.

Not surprisingly, the many people complicit in these manipulations, such as former Bush spokesperson Ari Fleischer, have led the charge against her.

It is useful to examine the video and context of Thomas’s allegedly “anti-Semitic” comment.

A man, apparently holding a camera right in her face, asks for her comments about Israel. She says, “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine. Remember, these people are occupied. And it’s their land…” He interrupts her and asks where they should go. She responds, “They should go home. To Germany, Poland, America, and everywhere else.”

While Thomas has since apologized for her hasty words and many Israelis have the right to continue living where they are, the reality is that Israeli settlers did, indeed, come from elsewhere; they are, in fact, illegally occupying Palestinian land (a fact acknowledged even by the U.S. State Department); and international law does require that they leave.

Many commentators evince particular anger at Thomas’s inclusion of Germany and Poland as places to which Israeli colonists should return, suggesting that Hitler is still in control and waiting to pounce.

The happy fact is, however, that World War II and the Nazi holocaust ended well over half a century ago. In Poland today there is a vibrant Jewish revival with a 10-foot tall Menorah being lit in the center of Warsaw during Hanukah, and Germany has become, according to the New York Times, “a country where Jews want to live.” In fact, in recent years more Jews have chosen to immigrate to Germany than to Israel.

Thomas’s call for colonists to return to America (this destination was left out of many articles) is far from outrageous given that a great many West Bank settlers are from the U.S.

Overall, reporting on the incident has largely departed from the standard journalistic practice of quoting people from both sides of an issue. Quotes from Thomas supporters are missing, even though the You Tube page featuring the infamous video contains a large number of comments supporting her. In contrast, quotes from Thomas’s detractors, almost all of them Zionists, are ubiquitous, but generally fail to divulge the speakers’ frequent conflicts of interest.

For example, the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz quotes Jeffrey Goldberg without mentioning that Goldberg is an Israeli citizen who served as a prison guard at an Israeli prison that held hundreds of Palestinians without charge, some killed in cold blood by the prison commander.

Mainstream media organizations do not seem to have investigated reports that the man who videotaped Thomas, Rabbi David Nesenoff, also made an offensive video featuring himself and another man impersonating a buffoonish Catholic priest and Mexican immigrant.

Similarly, news reports that a high school had disinvited Thomas as a graduation speaker almost never inform readers that many of the school’s parents and students wished Thomas to remain, even though this unreferenced group may represent a majority of the school. Members of this group have created a Facebook page, “Helen Thomas should have been our graduation speaker,” that states:

“The purpose of this group is to quietly but firmly protest the ability of a small minority to impose its will on the larger group through engaging or threatening to engage in disruptive discourse. This group affirms a belief in reasonable discussion and feel that in this scenario, a clear minority was able to override a larger majority by distorting the issues and discussion.”

Replacing Thomas at the upcoming graduation ceremony will be CBS’s Bob Schiefer, who has close family ties to George W. Bush and has rarely, if ever, challenged administration falsehoods that sent the nation to war and that keep it there still.

Regarding his reporting on Israel-Palestine, media watchdog Fairness and Accurate In Reporting (FAIR) issued an alert in 2006 objecting to Schiefer’s “shallow, dismissive coverage of complicated and tragic events.”

It is not known who will take over Thomas’s front-row seat at White House briefings. Given the record of the current press corps, it is likely that Israel partisans are breathing a sign of relief.

One more obstacle to the Zionist juggernaut has just been removed.

Tristan Anderson, an American nearly killed by Israeli Occupation Forces


Tristan was critically injured when he was shot in the head at close range with a metal high-velocity tear gas canister at the Israeli Separation Wall on March 13, 2009, while taking photos following a demonstration against the apartheid wall in the West Bank village of Ni’lin. The shooting caused severe traumatic brain injury and blindness in his right eye. Tristan, 39 years old, has not yet regained the use of the left side of his body and faces a long period of cognitive and physical rehabilitation and remains in a wheelchair. However, in the last several months he has made significant strides forward, including regaining his ability to speak.

Tristan Anderson, an American nearly killed by Israeli Occupation Forces

Tristan Anderson, an American nearly killed by Israeli Occupation Forces

from Solidarity with Tristan Anderson by friendsoftristan

(as of May 1, 2010, written by Gabby, his partner)

1- Can he talk?

Yes, Tristan started talking in early December (shortly after he ripped out his tracheotomy tube).

2- What does he say? Does he know who he is?

Tristan knows who he is and he remembers his pre-injury life. He’s maintained a lot of specialized knowledge, he tells stories, he recognizes people in pictures, he sings his favorite songs, etc. His long term memory for life before the injury is generally excellent.

3- What does his voice sound like? Is there heavy slurring? Does he have trouble formulating language?

Tristan speaks clearly but softly. We have very good communication from him, but it can be difficult to hear what he’s saying if there’s competing noise. While other cognitive functions have been impacted, Tristan’s language abilities are more or less intact. He’s maintained adult grammar and vocabulary and has not needed therapy to re-learn language.

4- How did Tristan communicate during the months before he was talking?

Before he was talking, Tristan communicated primarily with gestures and pantomime, and also by writing and spelling words out on a communication board. (Although it’s very difficult to read his handwriting, and it used to be much worse.)

In earlier days (and for a long time) Tristan had very limited and sometimes inconsistent communication, primarily with yes/no hand signals.  Besides hand signals, communication was also achieved by presenting objects or writing choices on a board and asking Tristan to point to the correct or desired one. In the bad old days, Tristan could really only handle two options at a time.

5- I hear he was in a coma.

Tristan was never in a coma, but he lingered in a   “minimally responsive” state for his first six to seven months post-injury. During this time, life was almost completely dominated by medical complications and Tristan could only maintain wakefulness for a few minutes at a time. It was a horrible period with a lot of uncertainty about whether or not life would ever get better, but he pulled through it and it has.

6- What changed?

In August Tristan had two surgeries, a Cranioplasty (a reconstructive surgery on his skull) followed by a VP Shunt (to regulate the flow of Cerebrospinal Fluid in his body). Tristan started noticeably “waking up” more following the shunt surgery, then experienced a very serious infection and went septic. He was put on high doses of intravenous anti-biotics for an extremely long time. Weeks later he emerged from the fevers and started making the slow climb out of the abyss.

7- Has his personality changed? How has Tristan been most affected cognitively by the injury?

Tristan has maintained a lot of his values and knowledge base as an activist and as the person we knew, but he has been profoundly affected by the injury to his brain. Among other things, he suffers from difficulties with impulse control and short term memory retrieval that impacts everything he does all the time.

I’m afraid in answering this question that I’ll give an overly optimistic or an overly pessimistic view to the people who are reading it. At various times talking to friends, I feel that I have done both.  The fact is, it’s complicated.

Brain injury can make a person a bit of an enigma.

For instance, Tristan can legitimately play adult trivia games at a higher level than I can, but he can’t play Connect Four or other simple children’s board games because he gets too caught up in putting all the pieces in and he can’t wait his turn.

Tristan oscillates constantly between being knowledgeable and insightful to being unreasonable and child-like. There is never a time that I am unaware of his injury.

8-  What parts of his body and brain were injured on March 13, 2009?

Tristan was shot in the forehead above his right eye and was primarily injured in the right frontal lobe of his brain. He also suffered injury due to hemorrhaging and swelling during his first week in the ICU which very nearly took his life and did more damage. These secondary injuries caused significant harm to the right temporal lobe and to other areas of his brain.

Tristan was also blinded in the right eye and the orbit (the bone surrounding this eye) was smashed to pieces. He is classified as having had a “severe” traumatic brain injury.

9- How has he been affected physically?

Tristan is hemiplegic. He is not completely paralyzed but has almost no movement at all in his left arm and left leg. This is particularly difficult for him because he was left handed.

Tristan is also still recovering from the extensive damage done to his body by the months of being mostly bed-ridden and immobilized.

10- Will he walk again?

Tristan is in a wheelchair. Recently we’ve been seeing some movement come back in his left hip, and his physical therapist feels optimistic that given proper therapy, he will be able to regain some ability to walk. However, she has warned that this may take years of work.

11- What is daily life like for you guys at the Rehabilitation Center?

On a good busy day, the mornings are a flurry of activity as Tristan moves between physical, speech and occupational therapy appointments.  We squeeze in two meals and hopefully have time leftover for exercises and practice on a Standing Frame (a supported structure in the physical therapy room that lets Tristan’s body get used to standing again.)  Sometimes we also use a recumbent style stationary exercise bike that Tristan can peddle actively using his right leg and passively with his left.

In the early afternoon Tristan goes back to bed and rests for about two hours.  He typically gets up about 4:00 or 4:30 and goes on a long walk with his father, then comes back and eats dinner. He eats a lot of variations on rice and beans and vegetables and a lot of different kinds of soups.

After dinner we figure out what to do with the rest of the evening.  Sometimes Tristan works with a computer.  Other times we play card games, board games, stuff like that.  We try to get him used to operating his wheel chair for himself. Sometimes we work him pretty hard, other times we just hang out.  We read to each other a lot, including some of Tristan’s old writings.

We try to keep him company here and do something in between “work” and “play” in the free time we have. Mike, Nancy, and I have no lives at all. We’re here at the hospital pretty much all the time.

12- Does he ever get out of the hospital?

Not very often, but sometimes. We try to get out on the weekends.

13- How is he handling this emotionally?

For better or worse, Tristan has never heavily grieved over his injury. He is very aware of ways that the injury has affected him physically, but less aware or accepting of the cognitive repercussions.

In the last several months we’ve seen him slowly start to get more in touch with his feelings, and I believe this will continue to develop with time.

14- Are you still seeing improvement in his abilities?


15- Is he still in critical condition?

No, at this point, Tristan is in the post-acute stage of his injury. He’s living in a hospital because he gets rehabilitation there.

16- Is he pretty much independent now or does he need a lot of help?

He needs a lot of help.

17- What’s happening with the court cases?

There are two court cases, a criminal case and a civil case.

As of now, the Israeli Police who investigated Tristan’s shooting have closed the case without bringing criminal charges against anyone involved. The investigation has been widely criticized as a sham, and we are appealing this decision.

(There was a misleading article published by Ha’aretz entitled “State to Re-investigate Wounding of U.S. Activist”, which was spread all over the internet and gave the false impression that the Israeli state was re-opening Tristan’s case. In fact all that happened is that our lawyers submitted an appeal and the other side is legally obliged to accept our paperwork, so they did. That’s it.)

Besides the criminal case, there is also a civil case which Tristan’s family is bringing against the Israeli military to help cover the lifetime of medical expenses, lost wages, and continuing care that Tristan will need. We have been warned that the civil case is likely to take years before coming to fruition. (Rachel Corries’ civil case, filed in 2005, first made it in to court here about a month and a half ago, which is appalling.)

18- What is the basis of your appeal to re-open the criminal case?

The investigation into Tristan’s shooting is a perfect illustration of why the police and the army can not be trusted to investigate themselves.

The investigators, for instance, never even bothered to go to the scene where the shooting took place. No physical evidence was ever collected.

Additionally, eye witnesses uniformly testified that the shots were fired from a nearby hill. Even though the military has confirmed that indeed there were Border Police armed with high velocity tear gas positioned on that hill, the entire investigation into Tristan’s shooting relates instead to the irrelevant conduct of an irrelevant squad of Border Police positioned on the other side of town.

To date, the Border Police on the hill where the shots were fired have never been questioned.

19- Is there anything we can do to help demand justice for Tristan?

We are demanding that the criminal case against the Border Police involved in Tristan’s shooting be re-opened immediately and a meaningful investigation begun.

Friends are urged to contact Barbara Lee, Tristan’s representative in Congress (202-225-2661) or to picket their local Israeli Consulate,

(http://www.israelemb.org/israeli-consulate-in-usa.htm) demanding that Israel take full responsibility for Tristan’s shooting.

We also recognize that during the time that we’ve been here in the hospital with Tristan, two other activists have died at demonstrations against the Wall. Their names were Basem Abu Rahme and Yousef ‘Akil’ Tsadik Srour. Basem was killed while screaming to soldiers that this was a non-violent demonstration and telling them to stop shooting at a woman protester who’d been injured. Akil died coming to the aid of a sixteen year old boy who’d been shot in the spine.

To date, Israel has killed 23 people to build their Wall, and seriously wounded many more, including Ehab Fadel Barghouthi (age 14), shot in the head at a demonstration several weeks ago.

Putting finishing touches on this document, I learn that Ahmad Sliman Salem Dib, age 19, was shot to death just days ago on the 28th of April, at a demonstration against land seizure in Gaza.

Demanding Justice for Tristan is also demanding justice for them, and recognizing the role of the United States government in war and occupation around the world.

20- Will Tristan make a full recovery?  Do the doctors have any kind of long term projection?

There is no long term projection.  As long as he’s still doing better, no one can tell how far he’ll go.  But the fact is, you can’t just shoot somebody in the head and then take it back.  Dead brain tissue stays dead, but the human mind can learn to compensate.

The most common metaphor I’ve heard to describe brain injury rehabilitation is this: You’re traveling down the road and the highway is blocked.  The question is: can you find a way to get to where you’re going using the back roads?  People who are successful at brain injury rehabilitation form new pathways and find them.

21- When do you think he will be ready to come home?

This is also the question that Tristan asks all the time. We expect to fly back in to California some time in the summer of 2010.

Tristan will move in with his parents and live with them in their small rural town. He will continue his rehabilitation on an out-patient basis from there. We plan to also set up a satellite home for him in the Bay Area and move back and forth.

My hope is that friends and family will accept Tristan for his abilities and disabilities, and find ways to welcome him back home.

For anyone inspired, there will be a lot of work to do.

We are accepting monetary donations through this website. Also, we’re starting a Welcome Tristan listserve for logistical coordination of accessibility projects and bright ideas.  To subscribe send a blank email to friendsoftristan+subscribe@googlegroups.com

The Right to Exist: Who Has It? Where Is It? Why?
June 8, 2010, 2:19 pm
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The Right to Exist: Who Has It? Where Is It? Why?

by Gary Corseri posted on Tuesday, 8 June 2010One Comment

shofarDoes Israel have a “right to exist”? Do we?

It’s a shibboleth of the Zionist entity: “Israel has the right to exist!”

But what is this “Israel”? What is this “right to exist”?

Where is it written? Is it in Holy Scripture? “The Song of Songs”? “The Book of Job”? “Proverbs”? “Ecclesiastes”?

Is it written in stone on two tablets by the finger of God?

What does it mean when a people declare that they have the “right to exist” as they please because they are a “democracy,” but other people have no such right? I solemnly declare my elections legitimate—the will of my people–, but … it is obvious that you people over there (in Gaza, in Turkey, in Iran, etc.) do not have the capacity to choose leaders who can represent your true interests!

What does that mean?

Israel refuses to negotiate with Hamas—will not recognize the political leadership that the Palestinians chose in internationally monitored elections—because, Israel declares, Hamas will not recognize Israel’s “right to exist.”

And why should Hamas recognize that “right”? What is always unspoken are the words, “the right to exist as we are now, as we have been, and as we shall become.” Recognize me, and suffer all my faults! Recognize my right to exist as I am, have been and will be—and forfeit your right to challenge me legally for illegal seizures of property, for expropriations and appropriations, for illegitimate detainments, incarcerations, torture, homicides.

In effect, Israeli commandos unilaterally declared that Aid Activists on a flotilla in international waters had no “right to exist.”

When Ahmadinijead of Iran quoted the Ayatollah Khomeini that the Zionist entity would wither away and disappear from the page of history, the entity and its media stooges in the U.S. and elsewhere accused Iran of threatening to “wipe Israel off the map of the earth.” Israel declared Iran an “existential threat” and threatened, in turn, to destroy the Iranians with the 200 nuclear weapons that they will neither confirm nor deny possessing (even though everyone knows they have them!).

Orthodox Jews, including the ultra-conservative Hasidim, are among those most loudly proclaiming that the state of Israel has “no right to exist.” Their viewpoint is hermeneutical: they believe that Israel will be established among the nations after the Mashiach (the Messiah) comes. They believe it is heretical for politicians to reverse the process. First the Mashiach, then the state. That’s the way they read the Hebrew.

Then, do Orthodox Jews have the “right to exist”? (At last report, Israel had not threatened them with its nuclear bombs).

“We the people” in the infant republic of the United States, did not think much about the existence of Native Americans, women or slaves. Some three score years after our founding, we did not think Mexico had a “right to exist” north of the Rio Grande. We did not think Hawaii had the right to exist as a sovereign nation. Nor, in spite of promises made at the time of the Spanish-American War, did we think the Philippines had the “right to exist” as anything other than a U.S. colony in Asia (we needed the coaling stations!).

Is it simply power that determines the “right to exist”?

During the Cold War, the US and its allies decided the Soviet Union had no right to exist. We were prepared to obliterate the world to prove our point—certain nutjobs among us were. One of our soldiers, a Lieutenant Calley, thought he was “just following orders” when he decided that hundreds of villagers in a hamlet called My Lai in Vietnam—unarmed men, women and children—had no “right to exist.” He “wasted” them.

Does the U.N. determine who has the “right to exist”? Does Tibet have that right? Does Palestine? Does Kurdistan?

Suppose the good people of Vermont decide that they are sick and tired of bank bail-outs, oligopolies, kakistocracies, phony American elections, our media of the absurd, oil-slick corporations with more legal rights than “persons,” and artery-clogging, greasy fast food? In a sterling, transparent, democratic election, the vast majority of the state elects leadership that claims its place among the nations of the world as “The Glorious, Independent, Technicolor, Outstanding Republic of Vermont” (which a media wag soon dubs the “GIT OUT of “R” Vermont republic). Does the Glorious, Independent, Technicolor, Outstanding Republic of Vermont have the right to exist?

The Zionist state demands the right to exist as a Zionist state—a non-signatory of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, bristling with nuclear weapons. Did Yahweh come out of the clouds and declare that this state alone can break all the rules of international decorum with impunity, without censure?

When did Yahweh make that announcement? Was it on the Rachel Maddow show? Was it on Larry King?

If there is a “right to exist,” is there not an equal right to resist–occupation, oppression, thievery, rape, duplicity?

Suppose we started from the other end? Suppose we assumed that no one had the “right to exist,” but that everyone—and every species—could enjoy the “privilege” of existence? How would we order the world then?

Gary Corseri The Right to Exist: Who Has It? Where Is It? Why?The Zionist zealots ask, Why don’t the Palestinians produce a Gandhi, a Martin Luther King to lead them? But where is the Zealots’ Martin Buber–a Jew who exhorted the Jews, and all humankind, to live in harmony with others—with different species, too—with God, too—in an “I and Thou” relationship?

The Zealots have raided the Kingdom of Heaven. Like Lucifer, the Angel of Light, they will be transmogrified by their pride and arrogance, and lust for power. And … they will fall, corrupted from within.

Gary Corseri

Gary Corseri has posted and published articles, fiction, poetry and dramas at Common Dreams, CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, The New York Times, Village Voice and hundreds of other venues internationally. His books include the novels, A FINE EXCESS and HOLY GRAIL, HOLY GRAIL.\

Israel’s shoot to kill policy uncovered
Despite claims of acting in self-defense, Israeli commandos have killed aid activists onboard Freedom Flotilla ships since they were carrying out a “shoot to kill policy”.

The Guardian has revealed that the results of the autopsies conducted on the bodies of Turkish activists killed last Monday by Israeli navy show they were peppered with 9mm bullets that were fired at close range.

At least 9 Turkish activists were shot to death when trying to deliver humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as part of an international aid convoy dubbed “Freedom Flotilla”.

The surfaced facts about the killings totally dismissed Israeli regime’s claims and its insistence that its troops just acted in self-defense when they opened fired on activists.

The report said the Turkish men onboard the Mavi Marmara have been shot 30 times in all and five of them were killed as the straight bullets hit them in their heads.

Vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine, Yalcin Buyuk, conducted the autopsies for the Turkish ministry of justice.

He told the paper that a 60-year-old man named Ibrahim Bilgen was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back, while a 19-year-old boy named as Fulkan Dogan was shot five times from less than 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back.

The Israeli regime has come under intense international pressure to allow an international probe into the killings of civilian activists.

The Gaza Blockade Is Illegal and the Flotilla Attack Was an Illegal Act of War
June 5, 2010, 7:27 pm
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Because the blockade of Gaza itself violates international law, Israel committed an illegal act of war attacking the convoy, regardless of who attacked whom first.

June 5, 2010 |http://www.alternet.org/story/147115/the_gaza_blockade_is_illegal_and_the_flotilla_attack_was_an_illegal_act_of_war

Israeli officials claimed that the IDF commandos who killed and wounded dozens of activists on a humanitarian aid convoy bound for Gaza this week faced a potentially lethal attack, and opened fire in self-defense. Eyewitnesses on board tell a different story, saying the special forces troops fired on the ships before boarding, weren’t in fact attacked and were unrestrained in their hostility. The question of who attacked whom is irrelevant, however, according to experts in international law. The blockade itself is illegal, and therefore Israel had no right to board those ships in the first place. It renders the argument over culpability moot. Israel committed an illegal act of war attacking the convoy, regardless of who tried to draw “first blood.”

Israeli officials claim that the Jewish state is at war with Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip. On that basis, officials say Israel has a right to intercept shipping in and out of Gaza under the law of war. In an opinion piece AIPAC has been pushing to reporters this week, Leslie Gelb, a former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote that “blockades are quite legal,” and compared the Gaza siege to the Anglo-U.S. blockades of Germany and Japan during World War Two. “Only knee-jerk left-wingers and the usual legion of poseurs around the world would dispute this,” wrote Gelb sneeringly. Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., echoed the World War Two comparison.

The parallel is entirely false. Gaza is not an independent state at war with Israel. Gaza is occupied by Israel, and, as such, an entirely different set of international laws apply. As UC Hastings legal scholar George Bisharat explained this week, the 2005 withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from the ground in Gaza is immaterial, as the area remains under Israel’s “effective control” — it’s a remote occupation but an occupation nonetheless.

Under customary international law that Israel accepts as binding … a territory is “occupied” when foreign forces exercise “effective control” over it, whether accomplished through the continuous presence of ground troops or not.

Israel patrols the territorial waters and airspace of the Gaza Strip, regulates Gaza’s land borders, restricts internal movements by excluding Gazans from a “buffer zone” that includes 46 percent of the strip’s agricultural land, and controls the Gaza Strip’s supplies of electricity, heating oil, and petrol. Together these factors amount to remote but “effective control.”

According to Bisharat, this is not a matter of dispute. “The Gaza Strip remains occupied,” he wrote, “as the United Nations, the U.S. government and the International Committee of the Red Cross have all recognized.” Hamas controls the ground within Gaza, but Israel controls Gaza.

There are two important ramifications to this. First, a blockade that restricts the local population’s access to vital goods violates the Fourth Geneva Convention, which specifies that an occupying force has a legally binding duty to protect an occupied population. Bisharat explained it like this:

Israel has authority to halt arms imports into the Gaza Strip. But it also owes a general duty of protection to civilians under its control, and has specific duties to allow them access to adequate food and medical supplies, and to maintain public health standards – duties it has deliberately violated in imposing the siege on Gaza. Currently 77.2 percent of Gaza Palestinians either face or are vulnerable to hunger …

Moreover, collective punishment is specifically barred under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israeli officials have repeatedly stated that the objective of the blockade is to weaken the Gaza economy and undermine support for Hamas. That is a political, not a military, objective, and it is impermissible under international law to target innocent civilians to achieve nonmilitary goals.

The second point pertains to the attack on the Freedom Flotilla. As Bisharat notes, “Actions taken to enforce an illegal siege cannot themselves be legal.” The Israel commandos were transported 70 miles offshore, into international waters. There, they attacked a civilian vessel flagged to an allied state — a NATO member — and killed and wounded some yet unclarified number of activists whose journey was motivated by their opposition to the blockade.

It was not an act of “piracy,” because the Israeli troops were operating under the flag of a nation-state. Because the blockade violates international law, and Israel had no military justification for boarding her with special forces troops, it rather constituted an “illegal act of war.” Craig Murray, a former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, called the legal situation “very plain”:

Because the incident took place on the high seas does not mean … that international law is the only applicable law. The Law of the Sea is quite plain that, when an incident takes place on a ship on the high seas (outside anybody’s territorial waters) the applicable law is that of the flag state of the ship on which the incident occurred. In legal terms, the Turkish ship was Turkish territory.

There are therefore two clear legal possibilities.

Possibility one is that the Israeli commandos were acting on behalf of the government of Israel in killing the activists on the ships. In that case Israel is in a position of war with Turkey, and the act falls under international jurisdiction as a war crime.

Possibility two is that, if the killings were not authorised Israeli military action, they were acts of murder under Turkish jurisdiction. If Israel does not consider itself in a position of war with Turkey, then it must hand over the commandos involved for trial in Turkey under Turkish law.

After perpetrating an act of war on Turkey, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, among the most extreme figures to serve in any Israeli government, said of the attack: “We didn’t start this provocation, we did not send bullies with knives and metal rods to Turkey… In this case, the entire blame, all of it, from beginning to end, is that of Turkey.”

They didn’t in fact  send “bullies” to Turkey armed with “knives and metal rods”; according to Craig Murray, they sent a heavily armed special forces team to Turkey — the deck of that ship represented Turkish “soil.”

A final point. Israeli leaders say they have no animosity towards the people of Gaza. Some of Israel’s defenders have suggested that it’s relatively easy to get goods in and out of the territory; that Israel simply wants to “inspect shipments for arms.” So it’s important to note just how deeply damaging the blockade has been for the people of Gaza.

Foreign Policy Magazine compiled a large volume of information from reports issued by the United Nations and various NGOs working in Gaza. Just a few highlights:

  • Electricity: In 2006, Israel carried out an attack on Gaza’s only power plant and never permitted the rebuilding to its pre-attack capacity…. The majority of houses have power cuts at least eight hours per day. Some have no electricity for long as 12 hours a day. The lack of electricity has led to reliance on generators, many of which have exploded from overwork, killing and maiming civilians.
  • Water: Israel has not permitted supplies into the Gaza Strip to rebuild the sewage system. Amnesty International reports that 90-95 percent of the drinking water in Gaza is contaminated and unfit for consumption.
  • Health: According to UN OCHA, infrastructure for 15 of 27 of Gaza’s hospitals, 43 of 110 of its primary care facilities, and 29 of its 148 ambulances were damaged or destroyed during the war. Without rebuilding materials like cement and glass due to Israeli restrictions, the vast majority of the destroyed health infrastructure has not been rebuilt.
  • Food: A 2010 World Health Organization report stated that “chronic malnutrition in the Gaza Strip has risen over the past few years and has now reached 10.2%. … According to UN OCHA: “Over 60 percent of households are now food insecure …
  • Industry:  A World Health Organization report from this year states: “In the Gaza Strip, private enterprise is practically at a standstill as a consequence of the blockade. Almost all (98%) industrial operations have been shut down.

Israeli officials are correct that the state has a right to defend itself. Every nation does. But it has no right to commit war crimes in mounting that defense. The European Union has condemned the blockade of Gaza as a form of  “collective punishment,”  a serious violation of international law. Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia’s summary of the Fourth Geneva Convention:

By collective punishment, the drafters of the Geneva Conventions had in mind the reprisal killings of World Wars I and World War II… In World War II, Nazis carried out a form of collective punishment to suppress resistance… The conventions, to counter this, reiterated the principle of individual responsibility.

Israeli officials often invoke the image of rockets reining down on Israel from Gaza as justification for their aggressive policies. While they represent a modest threat — fewer people died in rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza in all of 2008 than perished in a few hours during the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla — they are terrifying and constitute a war crime. Yet punishing the population rather than the militants who fired those rockets is a war crime as well. Approximately half of the population of Gaza are under 18 years of age.

Matt Yglesias noted that Israel’s defenders have described the blockade “as some kind of narrow effort to prevent arms smuggling,” but adds: “this simply isn’t what’s going on.” “The objective,” he wrote, “is to make life in Gaza miserable.”

Yglesias linked to Peter Beinart arguing that, as far as Israel’s government is concerned, “the embargo must be tight enough to keep the people of Gaza miserable, but not so tight that they starve.”

This explains why Israel prevents Gazans from importing, among other things, cilantro, sage, jam, chocolate, French fries, dried fruit, fabrics, notebooks, empty flowerpots and toys, none of which are particularly useful in building Kassam rockets. It’s why Israel bans virtually all exports from Gaza, a policy that has helped to destroy the Strip’s agriculture, contributed to the closing of some 95 percent of its factories, and left more 80 percent of its population dependent on food aid. It’s why Gaza’s fishermen are not allowed to travel more than three miles from the coast, which dramatically reduces their catch.

Beinart concluded that the deaths on the Freedom Flotilla were not the fault of the Israeli commandos who boarded those ships in the dead of night (a position I’m not necessarily endorsing), but of “the Israeli leaders who oversee the Gaza embargo, and with Israel’s American supporters, who have averted their eyes.”

For more on the status of the latest ship to head for Gaza, the Irish vessel MV Rachel Corrie, click here.

Israel ‘committing slow drip genocide’
June 4, 2010, 2:42 pm
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Palestinian woman holds photo of Rachel Corrie

Palestinian woman holds photo of Rachel Corrie

A Palestinian holds a poster of Rachel Corrie an American peace activist. Corrie, 23, of Washington DC, was crushed to death on March 16 by an Israeli army bulldozer in Rafah as she tried to prevent the destruction of Palestinian homes.

The Co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement Greta Berlin says that Israel is committing slow drip genocide, ‘drip by drip, Palestinian by Palestinian, child by child’.

Berlin says the Gaza Strip siege has ‘totally impoverished’ the territory and that Israel is committing slow motion genocide.

She said in an interview with Press TV on Thursday that if governments do not “stand up” and do the “right thing” to prevent Israel’s “slow motion genocide”, the people need to “take initiative.”

The Freedom Flotilla, carrying humanitarian aid to the “impoverished territory” was attacked by Israeli commandos in international waters early Monday morning taking at least 20 lives.

Rachel Corrie, another Gaza-bound aid ship carrying medical supplies, construction material, educational material, and toys is scheduled to reach Israeli coast early Saturday morning, despite Israel insisting it will not be allowed to dock, the Guardian reported.

Now, Rachel Corrie is on its way to the beleaguered territory even more determined to “carry on with this mission,” despite the risk of a repeat of the recent “attack”, Bernama reported.