Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel
Articles Archives - September 2010
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Gaza Flotilla – Rough Passage
Noam Sheizaf, Haaretz, Israeli Occupation Archive 9/24/2010
On May 31, former U.S. Marine Kenneth O’Keefe was aboard the Mavi Marmara in the Free Gaza flotilla. He witnessed the passengers’ preparations for a clash and the confused takeover by Israel troops that resulted in nine dead.
BELFAST – “I don’t remember exactly how long we were at sea. Maybe three-four days. There were all kinds of delays, but the atmosphere was good and our spirits were high. I was certain we would succeed in entering Gaza. I brought my expensive possessions – a computer, cameras. People came to me two-three hours before [the takeover of the ship] and told me, ‘There will be an attack.’ I replied, ‘No, that can’t be.’ I really didn’t believe it. In the 2008 flotilla I was the captain of one of the ships and there, too, Israel said they would stop us by force, but in the end let us through. I was convinced that it would be the same this time.”
Kenneth O’Keefe is sitting at the bar of the Europa Hotel in the center of town. Guests are seating themselves all around on comfortable couches for afternoon tea. Nina Simone and Louis Armstrong play softly in the background while O’Keefe describes his one-on-one combat with an Israeli commando unit.
Kenneth O’Keefe has no hesitations about saying that he failed completely to foresee the Israeli naval operation against the Gaza flotilla, even though he had a convenient observation point aboard the Mavi Marmara.
On the night of May 31, the former U.S. marine who became a devoted activist for Gaza found himself at the center of one of the major fiascos of the Israel Defense Forces in recent years. The confused takeover by naval commandos of the flagship in the flotilla that aimed to breach the blockade of the Gaza Strip ended in a pitched battle, the killing of nine of the passengers, the temporary capture of three soldiers, 10 soldiers and dozens of passengers wounded, a revision of Israel’s blockade policy and a rash of investigative commissions, Israeli and international alike. -- See also: Source more.. e-mail
Israel’s choice: Freeze or isolation
Gush Shalom, Ma’an News Agency 9/25/2010
The decision whether or not to continue the freeze on settlement construction is not a momentary, tactical decision. It is a strategic decision with implications for the State of Israel's very future. Continued creation of "facts on the ground", the ongoing takeover of Palestinian lands simultaneously with supposedly negotiating the fate of the same lands, will rightly be regarded by the whole world as a clear and unequivocal statement of intent.
Settlement construction on the ground will be regarded as a clear indication that everything said at the table is an empty patter and lip service. After 17 years of peace processes and numerous conferences and summits, the occupation continues and settlements have enormously grown and expanded. Anyone wanting a serious, genuine peace process would not continue the unliteral creation of facts.
Continuation of settlements and occupation is not only a closing the gate to any chance of peace with the Palestinians and the Arab World, a perpetuation of the conflict, the hatred and the bloodshed. It is also a conscious decision by Israel to embark on a head-on collision with the entire world.
It happened that President Obama's call at the UN to continue the settlement freeze was voiced on the same day that the report on the Gaza Flotilla killings was published - a report that the government of Israel was quick to condemn, reject and ask the US for help in preventing its adoption. Also at exactly the same time, The International Nuclear Energy Commission voted down the Arab demand for Israel's nuclear disarmament - a vote that might have gone completely differently had the US not used all its power and influence. more.. e-mail
Canada, Israel & Palestine
Yves Engler, ZNet 9/20/2010
Current peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian officials are unlikely to end, let alone reverse, Palestinian dispossession. The power imbalance between the sides is simply too great. While Canada could be part of the solution, so far it has been part of the problem.
The largest Palestinian political force, Hamas, has been excluded from these U.S.-sponsored talks, while the electoral mandate of the Palestinian representative, Mahmoud Abbas, expired 20 months ago. Abbas, who arbitrarily extended his term as Palestinian Authority President, is heavily dependent on countries such as the U.S. and Canada, and this has undermined his negotiating position.
After Hamas won Canadian-monitored and facilitated legislative elections in early 2006, Stephen Harper made Canada the first country to cut its assistance to the Palestinian Authority. The goal was to sow division among Palestinians, and it worked. Immediately after the Palestinian unity government collapsed in mid 2007, the Canadian International Development Agency contributed $8 million “in direct support to the new [Abbas-led] government.”
Ottawa pumped millions of dollars into training a Palestinian security force “to ensure that the PA [Palestinian Authority] maintains control of the West Bank against Hamas,” as Canadian ambassador to Israel Jon Allen was quoted as saying by the Canadian Jewish News. U.S. Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, in charge of organizing the 10,000-member Palestinian force supported by Canada, never admitted that he was strengthening Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah against Hamas, but to justify his program Dayton argued that Iran and Syria funded and armed Hamas. Bolstering Fatah to counteract the growing strength of Hamas was the impetus for Dayton’s mission, yet the broader aim was, and is, to build a force to patrol Israel’s occupation. more.. e-mail
Articles Archives - September 2010
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