Yes, I have returned home, and to my computer, after a hiatus of two weeks. In fact, I have just returned from a visit to the States that was exceedingly important for personal family reasons, but included participation in a short briefing in a Senate conference room on issues of UNRWA and the PA — with more to share about these subjects in due course.
While I am extremely glad that I made the trip — I am ever so glad to be home.
I had hoped to do quite an extensive posting today — sort of a catch-up. But I deluded myself. I’m still in the process of reorienting myself. This, I think, will be (relatively) brief, with a great deal more to follow in the days ahead.
A thank you goes to those readers who refrained from writing to me during this time period.
During my visit I had occasion to read the Washington Post and the Boston Globe, and, once, the NY Times. And I was pleasantly surprised at how little press Israel seemed to be getting. Focus is on the oil spill in the Gulf and other matters, such as how willing Obama is to lead the Democratic party to a November Congressional victory.
Things being what they are, no press is usually the best we can hope for. There was a requisite piece or two regarding, for example, how Netanyahu’s policies create “problems” for Obama — as if making things easier for the American president should be our first priority.
Worthy of note, within the past two weeks, is the fact that apparently twice Reuters cropped pictures of the Flotilla incident, so the knives of “peace activists” were removed. See:
As the Flotilla incident is still newsworthy — with cries for international investigations — I share this video, which has been released by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If you don’t open any of the other links I am providing here, please do take the time to see this, and share it. Note in particular the response of persons on the Flotilla, who cried such obscenities as “Go back to Auschwitz”:
(With thanks to Judith N.)
What is clear is that the Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara was staffed at least in part by Turkish mercenaries intent on doing damage. According to the JPost: “The IDF identified a group of about 50 men – of the 700 on board – who were well-trained and were stationed throughout the ship, where they laid an ambush for the IDF soldiers.
“The men wore bulletproof vests and gas masks, and had communication devices.
“The members of this violent group were not carrying identity cards or passports. Instead, each had an envelope with about $10,000 in cash.
“Israeli defense sources suspect the funding for the mercenaries may have come from elements within the Turkish government.
“…Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai told a Knesset hearing that all nine men killed on the Marmara were ‘involved in the fighting…There were no innocents among the dead.'”
A video has been made available that comes from the ship’s security cameras. It clearly shows the brandishing of weapons and the advance preparations for hitting the IDF:
That there were present on the Marmara persons associated with Al Qaida has also become clear. I mention here, for example, Turkish citizen Hussein Aurosh, assistant to the IHH organization, who was supposed to arrive in the Gaza Strip to assist the transfer of members of Al Qaeda via Turkey.
While from the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center there is testimony regarding the members of the IHH who boarded the Marmara in Turkey and essentially controlled the ship:
You might want to see a briefing from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs — “The Myth of the Siege of Gaza” — by Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi:
All in all, JINSA, in its report #994 of June 4, said it well:
“Israel was victimized twice this week, first by terrorists hiding yet again among the civilian population (one Turkish-sponsored jihadi boat traveling with five more-or-less civilian boats) and second by a world all too ready to blame Israel for the violence engendered by those who sought a bloody death for themselves and any Jews they could take along.”
Other points to be made here briefly:
— As I understand matters, the “humanitarian goods” unloaded from the Flotilla, which Israeli pledged to send via ground crossings into Gaza, were rejected by Hamas.
— The ship the Rachel Corrie, sailing from Ireland, attempted to break the blockade of Gaza, but offered no resistance when it was intercepted by the Israeli navy and brought to Ashdod on June 5.
— There has been some attempt to further ease the restrictions on what is allowed via the crossings from Israel into Gaza to improve the quality of life for residents. I understand that now potato chips are permitted in (originally more basic supplies such as meat, dairy products, grains and vegetables were all that were permitted in). This will undoubtedly make a difference.
— There is talk of an Iranian ship coming to similarly break the blockade but I have no further details on this.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has resisted calls for an international investigation of the Flotilla incident, but, in a bow to international pressure, has agreed to an Israeli investigation. The evidence is so clear already that I rather regret this.
This, from MEMRI, demonstrates just how clear it is:
“In a June 7, 2010, article in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Watan, columnist Nabil al-Fadl wrote: “The photos of the Israeli soldiers bleeding after being attacked by the passengers of the Mavi Marmara, published yesterday in the [Kuwaiti] daily Al-Anba, prove that the Israeli soldiers were justified in shooting [their attackers]. Clearly, the assault on the soldiers…occurred before they opened fire, and proves that the passengers on board the Marmara were not civilians [trying to] help their brothers in Gaza, as has been claimed.”
If a Kuwait columnist recognizes this?
Most particularly do I regret the inclusion of two “international observers,” as if we cannot handle this adequately and fairly ourselves.
From the Israeli side, there is only one matter of concern, internally: why was there an intelligence failure, so that the navy was unaware of who was on the Marmara, and with what intentions. Netanyahu would like to see the investigating commission also look at what happened from the other side: What was the involvement of the Turkish government, what links were there to terrorists organizations, etc.
The investigating commission is to be headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel, with participation by Professor of international law and Israel Prize laureate Shabtai Rosen, and Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Horev, former president of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. The two foreign observers to be present during the commission’s deliberations are Nobel Peace Prize laureate William David Trimble of Ireland, and Ken Watkin, former military judge advocate general from Canada. Originally there was supposed to be US observer, but it was considered inadvisable.
Note, please, that when there are incidents in other parts of the world, rarely if ever are there strident calls for investigating teams, particularly of an international nature.
On June 8th, Khaled Abu Toameh, writing in Hudson NY, asked “What About Hamas’s Siege of Gaza?” Take a look at this article which exposes Hamas hostility to NGOs in Gaza:
“As Israeli naval commandos raided the flotilla ship convoy that was on its way to the Gaza Strip, Hamas security officers stormed the offices of five non-governmental organizations, confiscated equipment and documents, and ordered them closed indefinitely…Hamas has brought nothing to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip other than death and disaster.”
If there is going to be talk about suffering in Gaza, it’s time to point the finger in the right direction. This is a story that was poorly covered by the general media. Kudos to Abu Toameh for this piece.
According to Haaretz, when PA president Mahmoud Abbas visited Obama last week, he told the president that he’s opposed to lifting the blockade of Gaza, as this would bolster Hamas. How about that?
Understand, however, that this is the same Abbas who never misses an opportunity to lambaste Israel for causing the people of Gaza great suffering.
It is news about Abbas and the PA that I am most likely to address when next I post.