David Silverman / Getty Images Israel army releases photographic proof of Flotilla “Threat to Israel”

In a move intended to convince skeptics to finally accept Israel’s claims that the Gaza Freedom Flotilla 2 poses a real danger, the Israeli military spokesperson’s office has issued photographic evidence in a blog post titled “Flotilla II Seeks Provocation, Poses Threat to Israel.”

Well, it turns out that the “threat” is none other than Pulitzer Prize-winning American author and poet Alice Walker whose fearsome and terrifying smile can be seen in the Israeli-issued image. But the danger to Israel does not end there. As the “IDF” Spokesperson explains:

Organizers of the 2011 Gaza flotilla have a provocation-seeking agenda: Deliberately provoke and humiliate Israeli soldiers. For example, organizers trained boat passengers on how to defiantly rebuff Israel Navy attempts to peacefully board the boats.

The “IDF” must be referring to the nonviolence training all passengers received, as well as the nonviolence pledge they all signed. Indeed, Israel does show every day that it finds nonviolence very humiliating.

Still, the military spokesperson’s blog made me finally see the light: those poor Israeli soldiers at risk of “humiliation” from Alice Walker and 87 year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein among others. Of course no one can forget how Israel “peacefully” boarded the Mavi Marmara, part of last year’s flotilla, in international waters with a force that involved large warships, a swarm of armed speed boats carrying dozens of heavily-armed commandos, and airborne troops dropped from helicopters.

Israel insists that it was the passengers who were “violent” because they failed to receive the Israeli hijackers with tea and traditional Turkish börek pastries. Now in case you doubt Israel’s version of what happened, you can just watch all the footage taken by the hundreds of passengers and journalists on board. Oh wait, no, you can’t do that because Israel, the “only democracy in the Middle East,” confiscated all the evidence and is still refusing to return it.

Other than selectively edited and doctored images released by Israel, the only independent footage which escaped Israeli censorship and manipulation was Iara Lee’s, and analysis of that showed anything but a “peaceful” boarding. It was a full-scale military assault that took nine innocent lives. And yet it is Israel’s military that has the chutzpah to whine about “provocations” to its soldiers.

(electronicintifada.net / 03.07.2011)

700 pro-Palestinian activists to land at Ben-Gurion Airport

Passengers will declare their intention to visit W. Bank, declare their destination as Palestine, expect to be deported.

New York activist Laura Durkay plans to name Palestine as her destination when she lands at Ben-Gurion Airport this Friday, even though such a response is likely to ensure her deportation.

As pro-Palestinian activists are struggling to set sail to Gaza from Greece, a separate informal group is targeting Ben-Gurion airport.

Durkay is one of 700 activists, mostly from Europe, who plan to land in Ben Gurion on the same day, in an event titled, “Welcome Palestine.” They hope to support Palestinian statehood and the struggle of the Palestinian people against Israel’s “occupation” of the West Bank.

They also want to make a statement about the importance of freedom of movement and access into the Palestinian territories.

The Foreign Ministry has already said that it plans to prevent the group’s entry into Israel. Israel has in the past denied entry to international activists it believes plan to create disturbances while they are here.

As a result many international activists tend to misrepresent the purpose of their visit when quizzed by border control officials at the airport.

“Instead of lying about their destination, they will say that they are coming for a week of solidarity with the Palestinian people,” Israeli activist Sergio Yahini said.

If they are allowed to enter, they will participate In a week of solidarity activities, he said. If they are denied entry, there will be a demonstration at the airport and Israel will have to deal with the deportation of 700 activists, he said.

On a video posted on Youtube, Palestinian activist Lubna Marsawa said, “What we are planning for the 8th of July, could be the beginning of the marches to Palestine.”

She added, “We are fed up with words and we need to take action.”

A press release put out by the group said that the activists had been invited by some 40 Palestinian organizations.

“The draconian and discriminating procedures at the borders of Israel have but one aim: to further isolate Palestinians and reinforce their inferior status,” the group said in its press release.

“We are flying to Ben-Gurion on July 8th to visit friends in Palestine, and we insist that our own governments support us in doing so. Supporting our visit to Palestine will be one small step towards bringing about the freedom of movement for all the peoples of Israel/Palestine that is essential for peace and justice in the Middle East,” the group added.

Durkay, 29, said she first became involved in the Palestinian struggle while she was a student at Columbia University in New York.

She traveled to Gaza in 2009 and visited the West Bank last summer. Although she did not initially encounter any problems entering Israel, she was detained for five hours at the Allenby Bridge after returning to Israel from a brief trip to Jordan.

“We are not trying to do anything threatening. Everyone should have the right to free movement and travel in the Palestinian territories. That is what this action is about,” she said. We are here in the spirit of peaceful solidarity.”

(www.jpost.com / 03.07.2011)

Demo tegen de medeplichtigheid van Griekenland en EU aan de blokkade!

maandag 4 juli · 17:00 – 20:00

Schumanplein aan de EU

Gemaakt door:

Voor Belgium to Gaza

Laat de Gazavloot vertrekken!
Oproep voor een manifestatie op maandag 4 juli om 17u op het Schumanplein aan de EU:

Vrijdag verklaarde de Griekse minister van Civiele Bescherming dat de Griekse kustwacht de opdracht had gekregen om “alle nodige maatregelen te nemen” om het vertrek van de “Freedom Flotilla” te verhinderen, die probeert Griekenland te verlaten om met humanitaire hulp naar Gaza te varen.

De organisatoren van de internationale ‘Freedom Flotilla 2 – Stay Human’ naar de Gazastrook beschuldigen Griekenland van medeplichtigheid, gezien het feit dat de Israëlische premier Benjamin Netanyahu de Griekse en andere politieke leiders bedankt heeft voor hun verzet tegen de “provocatievloot”.

Het is tegen deze medeplichtigheid van Griekenland en de Europese Unie dat het platform Belgium to Gaza een manifestatie organiseert, maandag 4 juli om 17u op Schuman.

Laten we gemobiliseerd blijven en eisen dat de vloot naar Gaza kan varen om er humanitaire hulp te leveren.

Neen aan de censuur van hen die niets anders willen doen dan misdaden tegen het internationaal recht aanklagen!
Neen aan de illegale blokkade die Israël in alle straffeloosheid oplegt aan Gaza!
Neen aan de medeplichtigheid van onze Europse leiders!

Laten we solidair zijn!

Rebellen Libië verwerpen vredesplan Afrikaanse Unie

De opstandelingen in Libië hebben een vredesplan van de Afrikaanse Unie voor hun land verworpen. Ze menen dat de Libische leider Muammar Kaddafi door het voorstel aan de macht blijft en dat is voor hen onaanvaardbaar. Dat heeft een functionaris van de rebellen laten weten.

De AU, een samenwerkingsverband van 53 Afrikaanse landen, probeert op te treden als bemiddelaar in het conflict in Libië en stuurt aan op democratische hervormingen. Maar over de toekomstige rol van Kaddafi heeft de AU, die vrijdag een top hield over de kwestie, weinig laten doorschemeren, waardoor de rebellen vrezen dat hij gewoon aan de macht mag blijven. Kaddafi zou niet mogen deelnemen aan vredesbesprekingen met de rebellen, maar hij wordt niet opgeroepen om af te treden.

(www.parool.nl / 03.07.2011)

Capsules of faith: Good manners in Islam

The Prophet (PBUH) said: “I was sent to complete the good manners.”

There are important points that we can draw from such a small Hadith. Good manners are essential in this world and the hereafter. We need to work hard to change ourselves and personify the good manners of Islam.

But why are good manners of such prominence in Islam?

The Prophet could have said that he was sent to teach us to worship Allah. He could have said he was sent to teach us to work for progress and humanity. He could have said he was sent to start a revival and enlightenment. He could have said that he was sent to teach us that our mission is to work for the development and the progress of this world.

He said that he was sent to complete good manners, because good manners are a prerequisite for success, revival, enlightenment, progress, social cohesion, tolerance, peace, justice, development, successful nation building etc. Good manners are even necessary for worship, as we will discuss later. This is because you cannot achieve progress, justice, enlightenment and all the aforementioned values without a foundation of good manners, ethics and morality.

Muslims should use the best of manners in their every day activities with Muslims and non Muslims, at work, at school, in public places, in fact everywhere.

If our morals are right, everything else will follow. If we want to reform the world we cannot start without ethics and morality. The first step in implementing reform is strengthening our own values of morality, solidarity and humanity.

Quran (3:159) “It is by Allah’s mercy that you are gentle to them, had you been harsh and hardhearted, surely they would have dispersed from around you. Therefore, excuse them; Plead for forgiveness for them and consult them in the affairs.”

The Quran confirms that the Prophet PBUH was gentle and considerate. His good manners, high standards of ethics and morality are what drew people towards him and Islam.

There were non Muslim armies that marched from Arabia to Indonesia, which is now the largest Muslim country in the world population wise, it was only the good manners of the Muslim merchants which impressed Indonesians and drove them to appreciating Islam. It was all because of the honesty, integrity and professionalism of these Muslim traders.

If you are unscrupulous, you really need to reconsider your position. You need to be a role model for others through your behaviour, your credibility, your excellence and your professionalism. It was the good manners of those Muslim merchants that opened the hearts and minds of Indonesians to Islam.

You can do dawah all day long, but people are not going to believe you unless your manners, attitude and morality are up to scratch. You have to be actively contributing to society in every possible way in order to gain the respect of Muslims and non Muslims.

The Prophet encouraged entrepreneurship, hard work and innovation. At home the Prophet used to do chores and help his family. Helping your mother or your wife at home, will make you more of rather than less of a man. These are the manners of Islam.

If Muslims fully embrace the values of Islam, e.g. excellence in science and knowledge, excellence in all fields of work, excellence in voluntary and charity work, excellence in personal and family relations, non Muslims will be able to appreciate Islam more and consequently Islamophobia will recede.

You cannot expect people to respect you unless you earn this respect. If you are willingly unemployed or mediocre in your work (or in any field of your life), you have to know that you are not a good Muslim. The Prophet said: A believer is like rain, wherever he goes he brings goodness and benefits (to Muslims and non Muslims).

On the authority of Anas, may God be pleased with him, who narrated that the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said: “None of you (truly) has faith until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”

Do you apply this hadith in your relationships with others? Do you care about your Muslim and non Muslim brothers and sisters in humanity who suffer from hunger and war in other parts of the world?

Do you apply this hadith when dealing with family members, friends and all those around you?

I think that ethics and good manners lead to justice. Justice is essential for progress, prosperity and the development of any society. Thus good manners are part of the infrastructure that leads to a strong economy and an advanced society. No progress can be made without justice, ethics and good manners.

There are Muslims who do their prayers, go to do Hajj and Umrah every year (as if there aren’t millions of people suffering from hunger around the world in dire need of food and medical supplies, who this money would be better spent on), but some of those Muslims mistreat others and defy Islamic ethics and good manners in every possible way.

Acts of worship are meaningless unless you apply good manners to every aspect of your behavior. Salah, fasting and hajj are invalid if good manners are not upheld. The acts of worship are like training for us to strengthen our good manners.

Quran Surah 29:45 says: ‘Recite what is sent of the Book by inspiration to thee, and establish regular Prayer: for Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds; and remembrance of Allah is the greatest (thing in life) without doubt. And Allah knows the (deeds) that ye do.’

From this verse it van be seen that if your prayers don’t prevent you from shameful, unjust deeds and bad morals, your prayers are invalid.

Narrated Aisha, Allah have mercy on her: The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: “Indeed, the believer will attain by his good character the rank of one who is steadfast in fasting and praying.”
[Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 41, Number 4780]

The Prophet said, “Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting.)”

Quran 2:197 says: ”For Hajj are the months well known. If any one undertakes that duty therein, Let there be no obscenity, nor wickedness, nor wrangling in the Hajj. And whatever good ye do, (be sure) Allah knoweth it. And take a provision (With you) for the journey, but the best of provisions is right conduct. So fear Me, o ye that are wise.”

Hajj should be like a boot camp, training Muslims to adhere to good manners, especially as Hajj is a stressful experience, where millions of people are cramped in Mecca.

There will be no justice, enlightenment and renaissance without morals. We need to spread good manners if we truly want an Islamic revival. We always like to choose the easy path, we use Islamic language and we fast, pray and go to hajj, but some of us fail miserably in understanding the essence and benefits of these acts of worship. Inner Jihad is our struggle to reach and spread the good manners of Islam. This is a core Islamic value and is essential for the acceptance of our acts of worship.

The Prophet coined it very well when he said: “There is no faith in him who is not trustworthy and there is no religion in him who does not respect his covenant”.

The Messenger of God, may blessings and peace be on him and his family, said, “God is gentle and loves gentleness in all things.” And, “Gentleness never enters into anything without embellishing it, and it is never taken out of anything without disgracing it.”

Please take the time to reflect, perhaps you need to change yourself. Maybe it is time that you decide to inspire and empower others to seek good manners, maybe you can start a project or even a Facebook group to promote good manners in Islam, to think, learn and spread the message.

(www.mpacuk.org / 03.07.2011)

Icelandic MP Visits Gaza-Bound US Boat Detained in Greek Military Compound, Pledges Full Support for Freedom Flotilla

Birgitta Jonsdottir is a member of the Icelandic Parliament and the Foreign Affairs Committee. She is also the coproducer of Collateral Murder, a documentary about the murder of civilians by US soldiers in Iraq–using footage that was released by WikiLeaks. Jonsdottir visited the US boat “Audacity of Hope” bound for Gaza early Saturday, July 2. The boat was stopped at gunpoint by the Greek coast guard Friday, July 1, and forced to move to a Military Compound in Athens. Below is her statement:

It was truly inspirational for me to speak to the people at the Boat who had just been faced with death if they would not turn back to port as ordered by the Greek Military. I managed to speak to many of the people on board who were shaken by the events the night before. Despite the setback, all of them felt determined to carry on with the mission of aid and solidarity with the people suffering in Gaza.

This project is the embodiment of hope and it is a powerful attempt to expose the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. At the boat I met people of all ages, backgrounds and colors. All of them had in common a beautiful and strong urge to take selfless action for the greater good of humanity.

To be the first Member of Parliament to visit “The Audacity of Hope” ship and to feel the gratitude from the crew and passengers made me deeply thankful. I urge fellow MP´s from Europe, especially from Greece, to pay a visit like I did. I also call upon the foreign affairs minister in Greece to show some courage, to stand up against foreign powers—in this case Israel–like his ancestors did. There is no threat within the Flotilla, only peaceful people who wish to deliver aid and friendship to Gaza.

Last year when the Israel military killed and wounded people on the first Flotilla, I was outraged. I warned that if the international community accepted attacks of this kind in international waters, then who would know where the Israelis would go next? It is hard to imagine that the Israel government has managed to let the Greek government do their dirty work for them in Greek waters. If this is allowed to continue, I shudder to think what they will do next.

None of the people I met at the boat on Saturday could be classified as a threat, except that they threaten to expose the illusion that war is peace.

I pledge full support to the Freedom Flotilla 2011 and call upon other elected officials to do the same. I feel it is of utmost importance that we never forget the attacks on Gaza a few years back, and that we keep in mind who suffers the most because of the siege: the children of Gaza.

(Facebook / 03.07.2011)

Dutch government rejects Palestinian initiative

Netherlands’ Prime Minister Mark Rutte, right, speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his residence in The Hague on Thursday.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands: The Dutch government rejected a Palestinian initiative Thursday to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal to seek support for the plan to seek statehood at the UN General Assembly in September, although membership of a new state must be endorsed by the Security Council, where it could be vetoed by the US and others.

But Rosenthal bluntly rejected the idea of the Palestinian initiative going to the General Assembly. “No, it will not be supported by the Netherlands,” Rosenthal told reporters.

Instead, Rosenthal called for a resumption of “direct negotiations, right now” between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Netherlands is a strong supporter of Israel, but also sends millions in development aid each year to the Palestinian Authority.

Abbas said he hoped the Netherlands could play a role within the European Union in supporting the peace process.

On Wednesday, Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski, whose country will hold the rotating EU presidency for the next six months, said the 27-nation bloc is working on a common position to take if the UN is asked to recognize a Palestinian state.

Any common European stance would depend on a possible resolution’s final wording, Sikorski said.

However, key member states already appear divided. France has said it will support Palestinian statehood if negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians do not restart by September. But countries like Germany or Italy — and now the Netherlands — are likely to oppose any such resolution.

(arabnews.com / 03.07.2011)

Was Israeli unit Shayetet 13 behind the sabotage of Gaza-bound flotilla ships?

Shayetet 13, the Israeli naval commando unit, contains an underwater sabotage divisionShayetet 13, the Israeli naval commando unit, contains an underwater sabotage division

Two boats among the fleet of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla have been sabotaged. Passengers scheduled to sail on the second boat, the Saoirse, which hails from Ireland, discovered that the propelled had been cut and “dangerously  bent.” “If this boat would’ve gone to sea, it’s almost certain we would’ve lost lives, this boat would’ve sank,” said Fintan Lane, an Irish coordinator of the flotilla.

While Israel has not taken credit for the sabotage, all signs point in its direction. The Israeli military boasts an elite underwater sabotage division, Yaltam, that operates out of Shayetet 13, the naval commando unit that raided the Mavi Marmara last year and killed 9 of its passengers. According to SpecWarNet, an online database of international special forces units, “For underwater sabotage missions, each [Shayetet 13] diver can carry a limpet mine to attach to the hull of enemy watercraft or docks.”

The Guardian reported on Shayetet 13’s history of sabotaging civilian ships in international harbors:

[Shayetet 13], the Israeli naval commando unit that intercepted the Gaza Freedom flotilla, is one of the country’s elite military formations, with rigorous selection and training procedures and a reputation for ruthless efficiency. It is known to have been involved in numerous clandestine seaborne operations, including many raids on neighbouring Lebanon. It works closely with the Mossad secret service.

It was also involved in a curious foreshadowing of the Gaza incident in February 1988, when Flotilla 13 is reported to have sabotaged an attempt by the PLO to highlight the issue of Palestinian refugees by sailing a ship to an Israeli port, forcing Israel either to sink it or board it or let it land the refugees. The night before the vessel, al-Awda (”The Return”) was due to sail, it was blown up and sunk in Limassol harbour, Cyprus — with no loss of life or political embarrassment.

(maxblumenthal.com / 03.07.2011)

Freedom Flotilla 2 to Sail to Gaza Monday

ATHENS, July 3, 2011 (WAFA) – Freedom Flotilla 2, the international humanitarian aid fleet, will try to sail toward the Gaza Strip on Monday despite the Greek decision to ban it, said a report issued by the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza on Sunday.

The campaign, one of the main founders of the Freedom Flotilla coalition, said that the Freedom Flotilla 2 fleet in Athens will make its best efforts to sail toward Gaza on Monday “despite the Greek ban, which lacks any legal or moral grounds, violates individuals’ right to freedom of movement and  represents a response to Israeli pressures.”

The campaign said the coalition has nine ships now after the sabotage of the Irish ship in Athens by an unknown party believed to be involved with Israeli intelligence (Mossad). It also noted that one of the Flotilla ships is French and is docked in a port outside of Athens.

It added that it is working on two different levels to ensure the success of Flotilla 2. The first is in communicating with Greek parties and activists to pressure their government to end this ban, which the campaign considered as a participation in the siege of almost two million Palestinians, particularly since the Greek people are known for their support of Palestinians.

At the second level, the campaign is moving to take judicial action, where the coalition is working with a group of well-known lawyers to revoke the Greek decision.

The campaign stressed that the prevention of Freedom Flotilla 2 from sailing to Gaza will not stop its efforts until the end of the siege and occupation.

The Greek coast guard had last Friday stormed a Canadian boat named “Tahrir” (liberation), one of the Flotilla 2 ships, to prevent it from sailing to Gaza after the Greek ban was issued. Greek officials also intercepted the Flotilla’s American ship to stop it from sailing to Gaza, stopping it twenty minutes after its setting sail from one of the Greek ports.

(english.wafa.ps /03.07.2011)

Flottila II 030711

US passengers on #Flotilla2 start open-ended fast at US Embassy in Athens demanding US defends our right to sail out of Greece

Greek activists organized a march in support of #flotilla2, beginning at 7pm in Syntagma Square.

Fasting members of @USBOATTOGAZA delivered an urgent letter to US Embassy in Athens, plan to sleep overnight outside its gates #flotilla2

Organizers Carol Murry & Helaine Meisler are fasting in Athens, calling US gov’t to defend their right to sail out of Greece #flotilla2

Passenger Nic Abramson http://t.co/1tDLsGm is fasting in Athens, calling US gov’t to defend his right to sail out of Greece #flotilla2

Passenger Paki Wieland http://t.co/OMatDNI is fasting in Athens, calling US gov’t to defend her right to sail out of Greece #flotilla2

Passenger Kathy Kelly http://t.co/DJMP8ib is fasting in Athens, calling US gov’t to defend her right to sail out of Greece #flotilla2

Passenger Ray Mcgovern http://t.co/vU09zPz is fasting in Athens, calling US gov’t to defend his right to sail out of Greece #flotilla2

Passenger .@medeabenjamin http://t.co/Zruj90k is fasting in Athens, calling US gov’t to defend her right to sail out of Greece #flotilla2

Members of @usboattogaza are fasting in front of the US Embassy in Athens, demanding US defends our right to sail out of Greece #flotilla2

Passengers of @USBOATTOGAZA have begun an open-ended fast calling US gov’t to pressure Greece to free our captain & let us sail #flotilla2