Killed, the composer of this anthem see article
RT mixes up the flytilla and the Free Gaza flotilla
[This campaign that we have been working very hard on for months is just
beginning. The week of activities will go on with all your help. We will
plan bigger and more dramatic events in the months to come. The collusion
of the governments and corporations in Israeli oxccupation and colonization
must be further exposed.]
‘Welcome to Palestine’ campaign responds to Israel’s denial of entrance to
international visitors who support human rights
Bethlehem and Jerusalem, July 7, 2011 – The Israeli authorities are
escalating attacks on anyone they suspect of participating in the peaceful
events of the ‘Welcome to Palestine’ campaign. Israeli authorities sent
hundreds of names to airline companies telling them to deny travel to
individuals on the list. Several people on the list who had booked flights
were sent letters from airline companies cancelling their reservations
‘based on a request from the Israeli authorities.’ We call on all airline
companies not to accept such provocative, blackmailing, and illegal actions
by the Israeli government. Ominously, Israeli Prime minister has directed
the interior security minister that the Israeli authorities must ‘act with
determination’ towards those who do make it to Ben Gurion Airport.
The visitors coming from the US and Europe on Friday are committed to the
principles of international and humanitarian law and believe strictly in
nonviolence. They were invited by dozens of Palestinian civil society
organizations and groups. They have stated that the only way to visit and
work with Palestinians is by passing through Israeli border controls. They
have declared their commitment to pass these border controls in an orderly,
peaceful and fully transparent way.
Before stepping onto the airplanes, the visitors will have passed through
meticulous security procedures at the various airports of origin and will
pose no threat in any way. The propaganda efforts to paint human rights
advocates as ‘hooligans’ and even ‘violent’ (an attempt to demonize and
dehumanize them in order to justify violence against them) is simply not
credible and indeed ridiculous. We are pleased that this episode further
exposes Israeli policies towards anything or anyone relating to
‘Palestinians’ as dictatorial, racist, and criminal and not complying with
basic elements of democracy or human rights.
Visitors traveling between countries have rights under international law and
bilateral travel agreements. Our foreign visitors insist that they must be
treated with respect in the same manner Israeli citizens receive when
traveling to their countries. Those who had reservations cancelled will
exercise their right of protest including bringing legal cases in their own
countries. We will also bring legal cases in Israeli courts under our
continued attempt to expose the racist policies of the Israeli government.
Several peaceful protests will be held at airports throughout Europe on the
8th of July and we urge all civilized people throughout the world to protest
these undemocratic moves to silence free speech and legal travel. We ask the
media to insist on access and fair reporting on Israeli tactics that are
against basic human rights of international solidarity activists before,
during and after they arrive at the Israeli airport. We demand Israel
publishes all instructions given to their ‘border control officials’
regarding visitors who intend to visit Palestinians.
The “Welcome to Palestine” campaign has been successful in exposing Israeli
attempts to isolate and imprison Palestinians and prevent international
visitors from coming to find out what is really happening on the ground.
Friday 8 July 2011 at 10 AM in Bethlehem Peace Center, located in Nativity
Square, we will have a Press Conference to announce further steps we will
take and to answer any questions.
Facebook: Welcome to Palestine
Bethlehem: Fadi Kattan, firstname.lastname@example.org +970 (0) 595
754 100 <file:///\\tel\%252B970%20%25280%2529%20595%20754%20100> or Skype
Jerusalem: Nikki or Laura, email@example.com , +972 2 624 1159 or +972 2
Berlin: Sophia Deeg, firstname.lastname@example.org, +49(0) 30 88 007761
<file:///\\tel\%252B49%25280%2529%2030%2088%20007761> , +49 (0) 1799878414
<file:///\\tel\%252B49%20%25280%2529%201799878414> . 13:00 Press briefing;
beginning 13:30 news center, including (if possible) direct contact with the
travelers as they land at Ben Gurion airport. Filmbühne am Steinplatz,
Hardenbergstr. 12, Berlin Charlottenburg.
Paris: Nicolas Shahshahani, email@example.com +33 (0)1 42 94 39
94 <file:///\\tel\%252B33%20%25280%25291%2042%2094%2039%2094> and +33 (0) 6
73 38 24 84 <file:///\\tel\%252B33%20%25280%2529%206%2073%2038%2024%2084> .
The press office will answer questions from the media around the clock.
UK: Sofiah Macleod, firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 (0)131 620 0052
<file:///\\tel\%252B44%20%25280%2529131%20620%200052> or + 44 (0)
7401631658 <file:///\\tel\%252B%2044%20%25280%2529%207401631658> , Skype:
USA/Germany: Elsa Rassbach, email@example.com, +49 (0) 30 326 01540
<file:///\\tel\%252B49%20%25280%2529%2030%20326%2001540> , +49 (0) 170 738
1450 <file:///\\tel\%252B49%20%25280%2529%20170%20738%201450> , Skype:
AlJazeera English Story:
Challenging Israeli Apartheid Staring at Ben Gurion airport
Mazin Qumsiyeh, Ph.D.
|A pro-Palestine activist at Charles De Gaulle Airport holds a sign that reads: “Hinderance to free movement. On what grounds?” [Reuters]|
Nearly 100 French activists en route to Israel have been stopped from boarding their flights by French authorities in Paris.
Stranded at Charles De Gaulle Airport, the activists have staged a protest denouncing the French authorities’ action.
“They have staged a noisy protests at the airport, shouting ‘Collaborators, collaborators!’ to condemn the French authorities for their action,” our correspondent said on Friday.
The Welcome to Palestine movement includes an estimated 600 people and around half of the activists destined for the West Bank town of Bethlehem are reportedly French nationals.
Al Jazeera’s Cal Perry, reporting from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion international airport, said: “Across airports in Europe, we understand that a blacklist of passengers has been released. The Israelis are asking airlines to stop people from boarding planes. But the Israelis are saying those people will be deported anyway.”
|View Al Jazeera’s in depth coverage|
Earlier Israel deployed 600 additional police officers at the already heavily guarded Ben Gurion airport and asked European airlines to bar “potential troublemakers” from Tel Aviv-bound flights in anticipation of the arrival of hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists.
Following the warnings, “the companies have already refused to take on board around 200 of these passengers”, Sabine Hadad, an Israeli immigration spokeswoman, told the AFP news agency.
Two US activists who had arrived overnight were sent back to the US, she said.
Eight activists were blocked from boarding a Malev Airlines flight in Paris on Thursday.
Philippe Arnaud, one of those turned away, has led calls to boycott Israeli products in France.
He said Malev, a Hungarian airline, showed him a list provided by Israeli authorities of some 329 people being barred from Israel, which holds complete control over who can enter and exit the West Bank.
Organisers of the “Welcome to Palestine” movement, which some describe as a “flytilla” in reference to a parallel maritime protest flotilla, say they hope to spend a week visiting Palestinian families.
Expected to arrive in Israel late on Thursday and on Friday, the activists say they are on a peaceful mission to draw attention to the plight of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.
Israel has been wary of entanglement with foreign activists since its naval commandos attacked passengers aboard an international Gaza-bound flotilla last year, killing nine people.
Micky Rosenfeld, the Israeli police spokesman, said officers deployed at Ben Gurion airport have been prepared to deal with scenarios such as airport officials being attacked or activists settings themselves on fire.
Our correspondent earlier reported from Jerusalem that Israel aimed to counter the activists with an equivalent number of additional airport police.
“Six hundred-nine hundred people is generally the number people think are going to come in. [Israeli authorities] say they have the names of half,” Perry said.
Israel is known for its strict airline security, beginning with check-ins on incoming flights and officials claim they have sophisticated intelligence procedures in place to identify potential threats.
It remains unclear how many activists would be denied entry after landing at the airport.
Israel says it will not stop people because of their political beliefs and that it will bar people who plan to carry out illegal or violent acts.
Rosenfeld said airport facilities could hold as many as 80 detainees, and that any overflow would be sent to a prison in southern Israel.
The airborne activists have denied any direct connection with the latest attempt to breach the Gaza blockade, which appears to have largely fizzled out this week after flotilla ships were held up by mysterious malfunctions and refusal by Greek authorities to let the vessels set sail from its ports.
Organisers of the flights to Tel Aviv say their people will tour the West Bank in solidarity with the Palestinians.
Some, the organisers said, would take part in routine Friday protests against Israel in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
In Europe, German federal police said as long as passengers had valid tickets and passports, they had no grounds to stop any activists at airports there.
But German authorities also said that German citizens of Palestinian descent would not be allowed into Israel.
The vast majority of Palestinians are barred from using Israel’s airport.
Two German airlines, flagship carrier Lufthansa and Air Berlin, said on Thursday they received lists of people from Israel who are not allowed into the country.
“[Lufthansa] is obliged not to transport any passengers who do not hold valid entry permits or whose entry into the respective state has been denied by local authorities beforehand as in this case,” Patrick Meschenmoser, a company spokesman, said on Thursday.
Yigal Palmor, spokesman for Israel’s foreign ministry, confirmed that the list had been made available to carriers, who are liable to repatriate at their own expense passengers refused entry at their destination.
“The organisers did not come with any intention of demonstrating at the airport or doing anything like that,” Mazin Qumsiyeh, a Palestinian-American professor, said.
“Israeli authorities made the mistake of mobilising security on people who are obviously not a security threat.”
A Palestinian demonstrator argues with an Israeli soldier, while other protesters run a bulldozer into a fence barrier close by, near the village of Bilin on the West Bank, June 24, 2011. The fence, a contested barrier, is to be repositioned by the Israeli Army in compliance with a court order. (Photo: Rina Castelnuovo / The New York Times)
In May, in a closed meeting of many of Israel’s business leaders, Idan Ofer, a holding-company magnate, warned, “We are quickly turning into South Africa. The economic blow of sanctions will be felt by every family in Israel.”
The business leaders’ particular concern was the U.N. General Assembly session this September, where the Palestinian Authority is planning to call for recognition of a Palestinian state.
Dan Gillerman, Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, warned participants that “the morning after the anticipated announcement of recognition of a Palestinian state, a painful and dramatic process of Southafricanization will begin” – meaning that Israel would become a pariah state, subject to international sanctions.
In this and subsequent meetings, the oligarchs urged the government to initiate efforts modeled on the Saudi (Arab League) proposals and the unofficial Geneva Accord of 2003, in which high-level Palestinian and Israeli negotiators detailed a two-state settlement that was welcomed by most of the world, dismissed by Israel and ignored by Washington.
In March, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned of the prospective U.N. action as a “tsunami.” The fear is that the world will condemn Israel not only for violating international law but also for carrying out its criminal acts in an occupied state recognized by the U.N.
The U.S. and Israel are waging intensive diplomatic campaigns to head off the tsunami. If they fail, recognition of a Palestinian state is likely.
More than 100 states already recognize Palestine. The United Kingdom, France and other European nations have upgraded the Palestine General Delegation to “diplomatic missions and embassies – a status normally reserved only for states,” Victor Kattan observes in the American Journal of International Law.
Palestine has also been admitted to U.N. organizations apart from UNESCO and the World Health Organization, which have avoided the issue for fear of U.S. defunding – no idle threat.
In June the U.S. Senate passed a resolution threatening to suspend aid for the Palestine Authority if it persists with its U.N. initiative. Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., warned that there was “no greater threat” to U.S. funding of the U.N. “than the prospect of Palestinian statehood being endorsed by member states,” The (London) Daily Telegraph reports. Israel’s new U.N. Ambassador, Ron Prosor, informed the Israeli press that U.N. recognition “would lead to violence and war.”
The U.N. would presumably recognize Palestine in the internationally accepted borders, including the Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza. The heights were annexed by Israel in December 1981, in violation of U.N. Security Council orders.
In the West Bank, the settlements and acts to support them are clearly in violation of international law, as affirmed by the World Court and the Security Council.
In February 2006, the U.S. and Israel imposed a siege in Gaza after the “wrong side” – Hamas – won elections in Palestine, recognized as free and fair. The siege became much harsher in June 2007 after the failure of a U.S.-backed military coup to overthrow the elected government.
In June 2010, the siege of Gaza was condemned by the International Committee of the Red Cross – which rarely issues such reports – as “collective punishment imposed in clear violation” of international humanitarian law. The BBC reported that the ICRC “paints a bleak picture of conditions in Gaza: hospitals short of equipment, power cuts lasting hours each day, drinking water unfit for consumption,” and the population of course imprisoned.
The criminal siege extends the U.S.-Israeli policy since 1991 of separating Gaza from the West Bank, thus ensuring that any eventual Palestinian state would be effectively contained within hostile powers – Israel and the Jordanian dictatorship. The Oslo Accords, signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1993, proscribe separating Gaza from the West Bank.
A more immediate threat facing U.S.-Israeli rejectionism is the Freedom Flotilla that seeks to challenge the blockade of Gaza by bringing letters and humanitarian aid. In May 2010, the last such attempt led to an attack by Israeli commandoes in international waters – a major crime in itself – in which nine passengers were killed, actions bitterly condemned outside the U.S.
In Israel, most people convinced themselves that the commandoes were the innocent victims, attacked by passengers, another sign of the self-destructive irrationality sweeping the society.
Today the U.S. and Israel are vigorously seeking to block the flotilla. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton virtually authorized violence, stating that “Israelis have the right to defend themselves” if flotillas “try to provoke action by entering into Israeli waters” – that is, the territorial waters of Gaza, as if Gaza belonged to Israel.
Greece agreed to prevent the boats from leaving (that is, those boats not already sabotaged) – though, unlike Clinton, Greece referred rightly to “the maritime area of Gaza.”
In January 2009, Greece had distinguished itself by refusing to permit U.S. arms to be shipped to Israel from Greek ports during the vicious U.S.-Israeli assault in Gaza. No longer an independent country in its current financial duress, Greece evidently cannot risk such unusual integrity.
Asked whether the flotilla is a “provocation,” Chris Gunness, the spokesperson for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, the major aid agency for Gaza, described the situation as desperate: “If there were no humanitarian crisis, if there weren’t a crisis in almost every aspect of life in Gaza there would be no need for the flotilla â(euro) [ 95 percent of all water in Gaza is undrinkable, 40 percent of all disease is water-borne … 45.2 percent of the labor force is unemployed, 80 percent aid dependency, a tripling of the abject poor since the start of the blockade. Let’s get rid of this blockade and there would be no need for a flotilla.”
Diplomatic initiatives such as the Palestinian state strategy, and nonviolent actions generally, threaten those who hold a virtual monopoly on violence. The U.S. and Israel are trying to sustain indefensible positions: the occupation and its subversion of the overwhelming, long-standing consensus on a diplomatic settlement.
Noam Chomsky’s most recent book, with co-author Ilan Pappe, is ”Gaza in Crisis.“ Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.
© 2011 Noam Chomsky