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June 19, 2010

Double Speak: Israel’s Gaza ‘Easing’ Announcement No Sure Thing

Jason Ditz
2010-06-18 08:02:00

English-Only Statement Announces Agreement Never Made

The Israeli government made an announcement today that they had agreed to a “significant” easing of the Gaza blockade, allowing items like food and toys into the region in larger amounts and even allowing some construction materials in. The announcement was met, predictably, with US State Department praise.

But is the announcement real, or was it done purely for PR purposes? While Israel released its announcement, in English, following the meeting, they also released a Hebrew version for local media consumption at the same time, and the two versions are starkly different.

While the English-only version, the version sent to all foreign diplomats, claims that the decision “was made,” the Hebrew version that the Israeli press got insisted that the meeting just included ministers voicing their opinions on a possible easing and that no vote ever took place on any particular draft.


The Jewish debate

Why is this happening in a church basement?

by Philip Weiss on June 18, 2010 · 69 comments

On Tuesday night in the basement of the Advent Lutheran Church on the Upper West Side in NY, an ad hoc group of Jews sponsored a forum about “Jewish perspectives” on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS), with a panel of four Jews, two for and two against, and about 200 people jammed into the sweaty basement.

The event soon morphed into a spirited discussion about Zionism, and is there such a thing as a Jewish democratic state; and the most obvious question came up halfway through, Why is this happening in a church? Gail Miller of Jews Say No answered, “A number of us approached every synagogue and every Jewish center in the city” and were turned down repeatedly– later Miller specified that they had gone to six synagogues and two Jewish centers.

So much for free debate inside the Jewish community.

read on

Vanunu in solitary

Amnesty International has accused the Israeli authorities of subjecting jailed nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by holding him in solitary confinement.

The 56-year-old, who spent 18 years in prison for revealing details of the country’s nuclear arsenal to The Sunday Times in 1986, was sent back to jail for three months on 23 May on charges of contact with a foreign national, and almost immediately placed in solitary confinement. Amnesty is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

Amnesty International Middle East Programme Director Malcolm Smart said:

“Mordechai Vanunu should not be in prison at all, let alone be held in solitary confinement in a unit intended for violent criminals.

“He suffered immensely when he was held in solitary confinement for 11 years after his imprisonment in 1986 and to return him to such conditions now is nothing less than cruel, inhuman or degrading.”

Vanunu is held in Ayalon Prison in central Israel. His lawyer revealed to Amnesty International that he has been placed in an isolated cell, ostensibly to protect him from other prisoners. For years, Vanunu has been portrayed by some Israeli media and politicians as a traitor and an enemy of the state for disclosing Israeli efforts to develop nuclear weapons, and he says he has received death threats.

Malcolm Smart said:

“Mordechai Vanunu is a prisoner of conscience. The prison authorities might claim that he has been put in isolation to protect him from the risk of attack by other inmates, but if the Israeli government is really concerned for his safety it should release him without delay.”

After Vanunu, a former technician at Israel’s nuclear plant near the southern town of Dimona, revealed details of the country’s nuclear arsenal to The Sunday Times in 1986, he was subsequently abducted by Mossad agents in Italy and secretly taken to Israel, where he was tried and sentenced to a prison term of 18 years, the first 11 years of which he spent in solitary confinement.

Since his release in 2004, the Israeli authorities have subjected Vanunu to police supervision under the terms of a draconian military order, which is renewed every six months.

According to the order, he is banned from communicating with foreigners, including journalists. He cannot leave the country and is forbidden from approaching foreign embassies. He must also inform the authorities if he wishes to change his address.

Malcolm Smart added:

“The restrictions on Mordechai Vanunu arbitrarily limit his rights to freedom of movement, expression and association and are therefore in breach of international law. They should be lifted and he should be allowed to start his life again as a free man.”

Mordechai Vanunu’s brother, Meir Vanunu, told Amnesty yesterday (17 June):

“It is very traumatic for Mordechai to be put again in solitary confinement and subjected to harassment. These are the same conditions he was kept under previously for 18 years and there is no justification for it after 24 years of suffering.

“We fear for the impact this will have on his health. Now is the time for Mordechai’s true freedom – he should be allowed to travel and leave Israel. He should never have been put in this situation in the first place.”

The harsh conditions of the dangerous criminals unit in Ayalon Prison mean Vanunu can only leave his cell for one hour every day to walk in the prison courtyard. He cannot currently make telephone calls from the prison unless he submits information about the person he wishes to call to the prison authorities – something he refuses to do on principle. As a result, he has had no contact with friends or fmily since the beginning of his current imprisonment.

His lawyer Michael Sfard was able to visit him and told Amnesty: “Mordechai Vanunu is suffering from isolation. He should not be made to pay a price because of the enmity of others towards him.”

A Voyage of Life and Death

AlJazeeraEnglish — June 14, 2010 — In the early hours of Monday, May 31, the Israeli navy intercepted a flotilla of boats carrying thousands of tonnes of aid to Gaza. Nine passengers on the Mavi Marmara – the flotilla’s largest boat – were killed. This much we know. In the aftermath of the event, accounts from both sides have diverged wildly. Israel claims that it acted in self-defence against a group of “violent extremists” linked to al-Qaeda and Hamas, intent on breaching the military blockade of Gaza. The activists say they were frightened for their lives after being shot at from helicopters in the dark of night, their raised white flag ignored. They say Israel’s attack on their ship in international waters was unexpected and disproportionate. Examining claim and counter claim, A Vourney of Life and Death includes an exclusive interview with the captain of the Mavi Marmara, those on board the ships and previously unseen footage.

Shooting and Sobbing

June 18, 2010 at 8:20AM AuthorGilad Atzmon

Hold your breath. This in not a joke, this is not a satire. It is real almost as much as it is pathetic. Israeli Ynet just reported that the images of captured Israeli commandos published in Turkish papers opened “…old wounds among those Israeli commandos involved in similar circumstances. Thus far, at least four combat soldiers have reported worsening of their (mental) condition”

read on

An Israeli bulldozer destroys a children’s playground near Bethlehem

thegoodwilljourney1 — 6 mai 2010 — Israeli bulldozers today destroyed a garden and childrens playground in Beit Jala, and 100 fruit and olive trees in Al Walaja and Beit Jala, both in the Bethlehem district, to make way for the continued construction of their illegal apartheid wall. Soldiers present used violent force to remove Palestinian, Israeli and international activists who attempted to prevent the destruction. Two Israelis were arrested immediately, and six internationals were later arrested.



End the Occupation, Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church

ST. CHARLES, ILL. June 15, 2010 – At its annual conference, the Northern Illinois Conference (NIC) of the United Methodist Church (UMC) voted to divest all holdings in three international corporations that profit from the occupation of Palestine. This action is in response to a plea by Palestinian Christians for action, not just words.

Divestment is a nonviolent form of economic protest long-used by churches and other shareholders to encourage companies to end unjust practices. By selling its investments in Caterpillar (CAT), General Electric (GE) and Terex (TEX), the NIC expresses its commitment to do no harm with its investments and affirms the call of the UMC Book of Discipline to “avoid investments that appear likely, directly or indirectly, to support violation of human rights” (Paragraph 716).

These three companies are among 20 targeted by many UMC conferences across the country because they (1) have a presence on occupied land, (2) are involved with the physical settlements, checkpoints and the separation wall, or (3) support activities of the Israeli military in the occupied territories.

Connie Baker from the End the Occupation Task Force of the Board of Church and Society which brought forth the resolution stated: “We are resolute in our support of peace for both Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land and the rights of each to co-exist according to the principles set forth in the Geneva Conventions. It is a small step, but an important one.”

The conference will also send a list of the 20 identified companies to the nearly 400 local churches in Northern Illinois and encourage them to consider divestment from any corporations on the list.

For the list of targeted corporations, which was compiled by the New England Conference (UMC) Divestment Task Force, please see:

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Bloggers UNITE for Gaza

July 09, 2010

On 9 July, we are urging bloggers to make a simple promise: “Gaza, We Will Not Forget You”.

Humanitarian aid cannot address the hardship faced by Gaza’s 1.5 million people. The only sustainable solution is to lift the closure. The blockade imposed on Gaza is about to enter its fourth year, thwarting any real chance of economic development. As Gazans endure unemployment, poverty and warfare, the quality of their health care has reached an all-time low.

Israel’s raid on the Gaza aid flotilla brought the issue to international attention. We must act now to put an end to the humanitarian crisis once and for all.

On 9 July 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion condemning Israel’s infringement of the Palestinian right to self-determination and violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The ICJ explicitly affirmed the international community that the burden also falls on them not to recognise or assist the illegal situation.

This year, on 9 July 2010, remind your own government of its own obligations not to recognise or assist Israel’s violations of international law. Urge that there must be an independent and international inquiry into the attacks on the Gaza aid flotilla. And make a simple promise: “Gaza, We Will Not Forget You.”

Hold Israel Accountable – Palestine Legal Aid Fund

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HRLAF — 14 juin 2010 — Urgent Appeal – Legal Action on Gaza Aid Flotilla – by Palestine Legal Aid Fund ( )

Mary Nazzal-Batayneh of the Palestine Legal Aid Fund urges you to support the appeal for legal action following Israel’s attack on the Freedom Flotilla.

As soon as Israeli commandos attacked, the need for an international effort to secure and preserve evidence from passengers was clear.

A single donation to the Palestine Legal Aid Fund was all that was necessary to give the go ahead to UK-based lawyers to start preparing advice for the detainees, and coordinating the international collection of evidence for use in any future legal case or UN fact-finding mission.

The legal cases will not only seek justice for those killed, injured and detained on the flotilla. They will hold Israeli authorities legally accountable, and provoke an examination of the illegal blockade and humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Your help is needed to support this vital work. Through making a donation, fundraising in your community, or showing your support in another way, you can ensure this work continues, and that the strongest possible case reaches court. Take action: sign up at

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