IHH: Mavi Marmara ready for next flotilla

Turkish movement says 10,000 people want to board ship for June’s Gaza-bound flotilla. ‘Israeli attack could benefit Palestinians,’ IHH leader says. ‘Even if we sacrifice martyrs, we will be on justice’s side’ 

The Turkish IHH organization announced Wednesday that the Mavi Marmara ship, which was subjected to a deadly IDF raid while attempting to breach Israel‘s maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip last May, is ready for set sail once more.

“Even if we sacrifice shahids (martyrs) for this cause, we will be on the side of justice,” IHH President Bulent Yildirim said in a recent television interview.

According to the Islamic organization, which is recognized by Israel and other nations as a terrorist movement, the Mavi Marmara – upon which nine Turkish activists were killed in a clash with Navy commandos – has suffered severe damage during last May’s events. The IHH said the vessel’s engine was intentionally destroyed when the ship was towed by the Israeli authorities to the Ashdod Port, and its deck and command bridge were wrecked.

The ship was consequently repaired and renovated in Istanbul, Turkey; its deck and the passenger seating were completely redone. According to the IHH, the vessel is ready to cruise again.

Newly-repaired Mavi Marmara (Photo: IHH website)

A few weeks ago, the organizers of the upcoming flotilla postponed the departure of the Gaza-bound maritime convoy to the end of June, and Israeli elements speculated that the measure was taken because the event failed to attract participants. But the IHH said that the event was delayed because of the elections in Turkey, and that 10,000 people have already signed up to take part. The movement allows registration through its website, and has been distributing applications across Turkey and abroad.

‘Israel beware: Don’t harm Palestine’

In an interview with Turkey’s Kanal 5 television station, Yildirim said that the turn out for the flotilla is unprecedented, and denied Israel’s claim that people are afraid of participating.

“Our goal is to gather a million people who want to board the flotilla ship,” he said. “From these applicants we will choose a limited number of people, but each of the applicants will be considered as though he is on the flotilla. We are not afraid, and want to convey the message to Israel that we are coming.”

Yildirim added that an “Israeli attack” would actually serve the purpose of the flotilla. “This time, all of the world’s nations will stand against (Israel),” he said. “It could benefit the Palestinians.”

He said that Arab Israeli MKs and Israeli television channels expressed interest in boarding the flotilla. “There is great opposition to the government’s policies,” he said.

According to Yildirim, the IHH will hold protests in Turkey and around the world, and will send an aid ship to Gaza through the Egyptian El Arish port in the end of May.

“With the help of donors, we will send $100 million-worth of aid this time,” he said. “Israel beware, don’t you dare to harm Palestine, because when you harm it, the number of people on Palestine’s side grows and becomes stronger, and you become smaller.”

(www.ynetnews.com / 18.05.2011)

Obama gives up, AIPAC wins

On the surface it appears that president Obama has given up on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and, frankly, given the evidence, it is difficult imagining that there is something different beneath the surface. To wit:

Special Envoy George Mitchell resigned, clearly angry at the lack of support his peace efforts received from the White House – and his resignation letter was about as curt and cold as any in recent memory. The announcement of his resignation followed reports that the president’s Thursday speech on the Middle East will, amazingly, say virtually nothing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A day after Mitchell’s resignation came news that the president had decided that he will speak at this month’s AIPAC conference, the traditional setting for pandering to the Israeli government and, more significantly, to Israel-centred political donors.

The most significant sign that the president has abandoned any pretence of being an “honest broker” in favour of gung-ho support for the status quo came in February, when Obama instructed UN ambassador Susan Rice to veto a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement expansion.

The resolution incorporated Obama’s own policy on settlements, so the decision to veto it – the US cast the only no vote – sent a clear signal that, at least until after November 2012, the Obama administration intends to avoid deviation from the AIPAC/Netanyahu blueprint.

This seeming decision to go “all AIPAC, all the time” would be jarring even if 2011 were not the year of the Arab Spring. Just weeks ago, the administration was celebrating Arab democracy and even the fall of our long time ally, Hosni Mubarak. Now it is blatantly adopting a policy that deeply grieves the very Arab democrats it supposedly champions.

The lobby’s (and, apparently, the administration’s) response to that would be that the Arab Spring was not about Israel/Palestine, that not one demonstrator took to the streets to protest Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem as well as the de facto occupation (and blockade) of Gaza.

Palestine: The ultimate non-democracy

And that is true. All the Arab revolutions were local. But, as the administration surely knows, the one non-local issue that all Arab democrats care about is the continued occupation. And why not?

After all, the ultimate in non-democracy is having one’s life controlled, not by a domestic despot, but by a foreign government.

The president knows that hatred for the occupation is common to all Muslims – Iranian, Indonesian, Egyptian, Iraqi, whatever, and with good reason (add to that list Israeli moderates, who hate what the occupation is doing, not only to Palestinians, but to their country).

Beyond all that, any US president has to consider what the US military thinks about the occupation. It’s not just general Petraeus who believes that the occupation is a threat to US national security or that it endangers our personnel throughout the Muslim world and our energy supplies. That is a common view among the brass and the civilians alike.

In short, there is nothing good about perpetuating the occupation, and president Obama knows it. On the contrary, the occupation (and the illegal settlements that are its symbol) is a dangerous blight on Arabs, Israelis, and the United States.

So what accounts for president Obama’s seeming policy of indifference?

That is a question that doesn’t need any answer beyond the fact that at the very moment, the White House is abandoning peacemaking – the president is rushing to AIPAC to deliver the news in person. America’s Middle East policy is all about appeasing a few dozen AIPAC-connected donors (no, it is not about the “Jewish vote”, which is consistently Democratic – average 75 per cent – based around domestic issues, not the Middle East).

The president seems to be going out of his way to make sure everyone understands that. It is as if he were saying, “With AIPAC donors – and Democrats in Congress who get their marching orders from AIPAC – what choice do I have? I’m boxed in.”

But why would he do that?

“I can’t hear you”

Why would he want to send the message that he can’t implement the policies he wants to because he is trapped by special interests? Just maybe, he wants our help.

In 2007, the day after Obama declared his candidacy for president, I met with him in his office (I was then working for Israel Policy Forum). Obama listened carefully while I explained why it was critical that he be an “honest broker” on Israel-Palestinian issues. Nothing I said, including my opinions of AIPAC’s influence, would surprise anyone who reads my columns.

The bottom line was that the occupation was terrible for the United States, for Israel, and most of all for the Palestinians, and that he should understand that the status quo lobbyists who defend everything Israel does are not representative of the Jewish community or anyone else.

Obama listened, cupped his ear, and said, “I can’t hear you.”

I didn’t understand; I was sitting right next to him.

He then said: “No, not literally. I mean that I don’t hear from people like you. But I hear from AIPAC [he then named the local AIPAC leader in Chicago] every week. I’m going to be president and, when I am, it is your job – you and all the people who feel the way you do – to make sure I hear that message. You cannot simply rely on the belief that you are right. You need to raise your voice so that I hear you and not just them.”

So maybe, just maybe, the president wants us to shout and holler about what appears to be a sell-out to AIPAC. After all, he is making no attempt to cover up what he’s doing or why he’s doing it. He only hears one voice.

Maybe Obama’s latest actions are a cry for help.

Yes, it’s just a theory. But it is infinitely better than thinking Obama actually believes that AIPAC’s status quo is in America’s interest. It just is not possible that this president could believe that.

It’s time to raise our voices so Obama can hear us, whether he still wants us to or not.

(gazatvnews.com / 18.05.2011)

Palestinian Nakba protests: a taste of the future

Israel in strategic dead-end

By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

19 May 2011

Jonathan Cook argues that the scenes of Palestinian defiance on Nakba Day in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and on Israel’s borders with Syria “will fuel the imaginations of Palestinians everywhere to start thinking the impossible”, placing Israel “in a diplomatic and strategic dead-end”.

They are extraordinary scenes.  Film shot on mobile phones captured the moment on 15 May when at least 1,000 Palestinian refugees marched across no-man’s land to one of the most heavily protected borders in the world, the one separating Syria from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Waving Palestinian flags, the marchers braved a minefield, then tore down a series of fences, allowing more than 100 to run into Israeli-controlled territory. As they embraced Druze villagers on the other side, voices could be heard saying: “This is what liberation looks like.”

“The Palestinian ‘Arab Spring’ is arriving and Israel has no diplomatic or political strategy to deal with it. Instead on 15 May, Israel used the only weapon in its current arsenal – brute force – against unarmed demonstrators.”

Unlike previous years, this  Nakba Day was not simply a commemoration of the catastrophe that befell the Palestinians in 1948, when their homeland was forcibly reinvented as the Jewish state. It briefly reminded Palestinians that, despite their long-enforced dispersion, they still have the potential to forge a common struggle against Israel.

As Israel violently cracked down on the 15 May protests on many fronts – in the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem and on the borders with Syria and Lebanon – it looked less like a military superpower and more like the proverbial boy with his finger in the dam.

The Palestinian “Arab Spring” is arriving and Israel has no diplomatic or political strategy to deal with it. Instead on 15 May, Israel used the only weapon in its current arsenal – brute force – against unarmed demonstrators.

Along the northern borders, at least 14 protesters were killed and dozens wounded, both at Majdal Shams in the Golan and near Maroun al-Ras in Lebanon.

In Gaza, a teenager was shot dead and more than 100 other demonstrators wounded as they massed at crossing points. At Qalandiya, the main checkpoint Israel created to bar West Bank Palestinians from reaching Jerusalem, at least 40 protesters were badly injured. There were clashes in major West Bank towns too.

And inside Israel, the country’s Palestinian minority took their own Nakba march for the first time into the heart of Israel, waving Palestinian flags in Jaffa, the once-famous Palestinian city that has been transformed since 1948 into a minor suburb of Tel Aviv.

With characteristic obtuseness, Israel’s leaders identified Iranian “fingerprints” on the day’s events – as though Palestinians lacked enough grievances of their own to initiate protests.

But, in truth, Israeli intelligence has warned for months that mass demonstrations of this kind were inevitable, stoked by the intransigence of Israel’s right-wing government in the face of both Washington’s renewed interest in creating a Palestinian state and of the Arab Spring’s mood of “change is possible”.

“…ordinary Palestinians used the new social media to organize and coordinate their defiance – in their case challenging the walls, fences and checkpoints Israel has erected everywhere to separate them.”

Following in the footsteps of Egyptian and Tunisian demonstrators, ordinary Palestinians used the new social media to organize and coordinate their defiance – in their case challenging the walls, fences and checkpoints Israel has erected everywhere to separate them. Twitter, not Tehran, was the guiding hand behind these demonstrations.

Although the protests are not yet a third intifada, they hint at what may be coming. Or, as one senior Israeli commander warned, they looked ominously like a “warm-up” for September, when the newly unified Palestinian leadership is threatening to defy Israel and the United States and seek recognition at the United Nations of Palestinian statehood inside the 1967 borders.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, alluded to similar concerns when he cautioned: “We are just at the start of this matter and it could be that we’ll face far more complex challenges.”

There are several lessons, none of them comfortable, for Israel to draw from the weekend’s clashes.

The first is that the Arab Spring cannot be dealt with simply by battening down the hatches. The upheavals facing Israel’s Arab neighbours mean these regimes no longer have the legitimacy to decide their own Palestinian populations’ fates according to narrow self-interest.

Just as the post-Mubarak government in Egypt is now easing rather than enforcing the blockade on Gaza, the Syrian regime’s precarious position makes it far less able or willing to restrain, let alone shoot at, Palestinian demonstrators massing on Israel’s borders.

The second is that Palestinians have absorbed the meaning of the recent reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. In establishing a unity government, the two rival factions have belatedly realized that they cannot make headway against Israel as long as they are politically and geographically divided.

Ordinary Palestinians are drawing the same conclusion: in the face of tanks and fighter jets, Palestinian strength lies in a unified national liberation movement that refuses to be defined by Israel’s policies of fragmentation.

The third lesson is that Israel has relied on relative quiet on its borders to enforce the occupations of the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza. The peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, in particular, have allowed the Israeli army to divert its energies into controlling the Palestinians under its rule.

“…the question is whether Israel has the manpower to deal with coordinated and sustained Palestinian revolts on multiple fronts. Can it withstand such pressure without the resort to mass slaughter of unarmed Palestinian protesters?”

But the question is whether Israel has the manpower to deal with coordinated and sustained Palestinian revolts on multiple fronts. Can it withstand such pressure without the resort to mass slaughter of unarmed Palestinian protesters?

The fourth is that the Palestinian refugees are not likely to remain quiet if their interests are sidelined by Israel or by a Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations in September that fails to address their concerns.

The protesters in Syria and Lebanon showed that they will not be pushed to the margins of the Palestinian Arab Spring. That message will not be lost on either Hamas or Fatah as they begin negotiations to develop a shared strategy over the next few months.

And the fifth lesson is that the scenes of Palestinian defiance on Israel’s borders will fuel the imaginations of Palestinians everywhere to start thinking the impossible – just as the Tahrir Square protests galvanised Egyptians into believing they could remove their dictator.

Israel is in a diplomatic and strategic dead-end. Last weekend it may have got its first taste of the likely future.

(www.redress.cc / 18.05.2011)

Israeli Forces Break into Mosque in Jerusalem, Arrest Two Youth

Israeli forces Wednesday broke into Ebn-Qudamah mosque, in Wadi el Joz, a neighborhood in Jerusalem, tampered with its content and arrested two Palestinian youths present at the area, according to witnesses.

Witnesses told WAFA that “ an Israeli reinforced force, including intelligence, soldiers, and police broke into the mosque, smashed its front door, seized the loudspeakers, closed the mosque and hung on the door a closing order issued by the Israeli Minister of Internal Security, Isaac Aheronovic, under the pretext of ‘the mosque belongs to Hamas’ as well as they arrested two youths.

(english.wafa.ps / 18.05.2011)

Vrouw en dochter Kaddafi in Tunesië

Moamer Kaddafi tijdens een persconferentie
De vrouw en dochter van de Libische leider Muammar Kaddafi zouden hun land verlaten hebben en in Tunesië verblijven. Een bron binnen de Tunesische veiligheidsdienst heeft dat gezegd gezegd tegen persbureau Reuters.

Kaddafi’s vrouw Safia en zijn dochter Aisha zouden afgelopen vrijdag met een Libische delegatie naar het Zuid-Tunesische eiland Djerba zijn gereisd, en daar nu nog steeds verblijven. De Libische regering was niet bereikbaar voor commentaar.

(www.parool.nl / 18.05.2011)

Israeli minister calls for annexation of West Bank if Palestinians declare a state

A minister in the Israeli government has called for parts of the occupied West Bank to be annexed by the Zionist state if the Palestinians get UN recognition of an independent state. Gilad Erdan told Radio Israel that a unilateral declaration of independence by the Palestinians would “break the rules of the game”.

Fellow Knesset member Danny Danon added that more than half of Likud ministers and MKs agree with annexing “West Bank assets” to Israel if the Palestinians declare a Palestinian state unilaterally.

(australiansforpalestine.com / 18.05.2011)

Saudi Arabia’s Degenerate New Law: Don’t Criticize the Leaders

As the Arab world rises up in the name of democracy, Saudi Arabia just took another step backward. David Keyes on citizens who say leaders are tightening the noose on their own people.

On April 29, as Arabs throughout the Middle East were dying for greater freedom, the Saudi government passed new amendments to a media law banning all criticism of the country’s religious and political leaders.  The amendments to Royal Decree No. 32, originally published in 2000, are “binding on all responsible persons in publishing” and demand “objective and constructive criticism aimed at the public interest and based on real facts.”  
Anyone who harms the “good reputation and honor” of government officials, the grand mufti, and members of the senior religious council will be imprisoned or fined up to one million riyal. Violating the media law can get one banned from publishing ever again.

HP main - Keyes Saudi Law

“The new regulations are unbelievable,” prominent Saudi blogger Khaled Yeslam told me. “You can’t criticize anymore. That’s it. We don’t have any journalists anymore. We have advertising companies.” A reporter at one of Saudi Arabia’s leading newspapers said on condition of anonymity, “We have no rights. The media is regressing. Everything has been destroyed.  Saudis need a new 9/11 to have more freedom.”

What does that shocking statement mean?  “After 9/11 there was a strong pressure on Saudi Arabia to grant more rights for Saudis and reduce radicalism,” he said.  “Ten years later, the government is again putting power in the hands of religious fundamentalists. Don’t be surprised when you see hate speech spreading in Saudi Arabia.”

One anecdote that supports this view was an incident at a recent book fair in Riyadh. A group of men called rijal al hisba, or “those who look after you,” stormed the fair attacking women and intimidating book sellers. Three times a day this gang showed up to harass women. When the Saudi minister of Culture and Information, Dr. Abdulaziz Khojah, appeared at the fair they shouted him down.  “You’ll go to hell,” they chanted. “Don’t you fear Allah?”

Rather than stand their ground, the government caved.  The gang “achieved their goals,” Wajeha al Huweider, one of Saudi Arabia’s most respected women’s-rights activist, told me. “After this, women were not allowed to mix with men. They gave them a different time and some books were removed. Women who came with publishers to sell books were also removed.  Men were brought instead.”

Prominent Saudi blogger and journalist, Abdulwahab Saleh Al Oraid, sees a direct connection between growing religious influence and the new amendments. “It gives religious movements power over local media and liberal authors in Saudi Arabia. I expect many writers to stop working due to lack of freedom. Media outlets have been directed to be cautious with what they publish because they could be fined up to $125,000 if the religious authorities file a complaint.”

King Abdullah has recently allocated hundreds of millions of riyals to religious authorities and religious police. “The next 10 years will set us back 30,” a Saudi writer told me on condition of anonymity. “Everyone in Saudi Arabia is talking about how crazy and radicalized everything will be. The government is supporting the religious police and they are giving hundreds of millions to sheikhs and clerics.”

What will be the upshot of these policies? “You will see Bin Laden again,” he said ominously. “You will see 9/11.”

The media is regressing. Everything has been destroyed. Saudis need a new 9/11 to have more freedom.”

On Twitter, Saudi blogger Ahmad Al Omran contrasted the new press law, which “adds further restriction on media and freedom of expression,” to King Abdullah’s statement in 2008 that “responsible freedom is the right of every pure soul….As god is my witness, I have never hesitated to sharply and honestly criticize myself.”

Saudi liberals see through this rhetoric. Many are pleading with America to take a more active role in pressuring their government.  “America should help liberalize the Saudi media and increase pressure to remove radicalism from the educational system,” the aforementioned journalist said.  “It also must weaken the religious police.  If they remain so powerful, how will women ever drive?”

The recent amendment is yet one more indication that the Saudi government is an enemy of freedom and disconnected from the trends sweeping the Arab world. While the rest of the region inches forward, Saudi Arabia lurches backward into its comfort zone: theocratic tyranny and fundamentalist repression.

(www.thedailybeast.com / 18.05.2011)

Conferentie ” De verloren schatten”

Tijd
donderdag 2 juni · 13:30 – 16:30

Locatie
Antwerpen

Gemaakt door:

Sallamou’ alaikoem wr wb beste broeders en zusters,

Op donderdag 2 juni( Hemelvaart) presenteert Assakina een conferentie met als thema ” De verloren schatten”. Er zullen drie topsprekers aanwezig zijn.
Broeder alkhattab(nl) broeder yassine El forkani(nl) en broeder khalid benhaddou( BE).

Inloop: 13.30u
Aanvang:14.00u
Afsluiting:18.30u

vvk:5euro
Kassa:7euro

Adres: zaal ‘dansen roels’ boterlaarbaan 89 2100 deurne.

Broeders en zusters.

Meer info? assakkinah@hotmail.com

wasallaam
Assakina team.