Tag Archive | "Israel"

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Peace of the Action Sizzlin Summer Protests in DC July 3-17

Posted on 01 July 2010 by admin

Cindy Sheehan is now in Washington DC with Peace of the Action: “We are here in the Belly of the Empire!”

Look at the schedule here:

If you can’t make it, please donate whatever you can to help us with expenses for the 13 day protest.

also NEW “End The Fed” protest on July 3rd

(Washington, DC – July 4th through July 17th, 2010)

JUST ADDED: July 3th (Saturday): END THE FED! DC Federal Reserve Building


No more wars for oil and natural resources! No more polluting our sea, air and landfills! BOYCOTT BP!!!

July 4th (Sunday):
– meet in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 1pm
– group to flyer, bullhorn in Lafayette Park and in front of the White House until dark
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet


For this week, Peace of the Action will primarily be targeting the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle display (educating the public about the horrific toll UAVs take) and drone manufacturers and lobbyists. (The Free Gaza/Free Palestine action has been inserted into this week because of the recent announcement of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the White House.)

July 5th (Monday):
– meet in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 9am
– group to protest at White House against coming pre-emptive American/Israeli attack on Iran
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet

July 6th (Tuesday):
– meet in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 9am
– group to move together to (TBA) location for FREE PALESTINE! protest until 3pm
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet

July 7th (Wednesday):
– meet in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 9am
– group to move together to Congress and protest until 3pm
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet

July 8th (Thursday):
– meet in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 9am
– group to move together to General Atomics and protest until 3pm
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet

July 9th (Friday):
– meet in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 9am
– group to move together to Smithsonian Air & Space Museum and protest until 3pm
– possible special action TBA
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet


July 10th (Saturday):
– ONE DC Block Party “ONE RIGHT TO LAND” (optional)

July 11th (Sunday):
– Day off! Rest and relaxation.


For this week, we will be targeting recruiting centers and defense contractors and lobbyists—and we will do some special “lobbying” of our own on Capitol Hill. (The POTA DC Trial has been inserted into this week because of the recent scheduling by the court.)

July 12th (Monday):
– Peace of the Action DC Trial
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet

July 13th (Tuesday):
– Peace of the Action DC Trial
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet

or (trial may be one day or two. so we have two options this day.)

– meet in Lafayette Park at 9am
– group to move together to Military Recruiting Station (TBA) and protest until 3pm
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet

July 14th (Wednesday):
– meet in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 9am
– group to move together to Military Recruiting Station (TBA) and protest until 3pm
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet

July 15th (Thursday):
– meet in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 9am
– group to move together to War Profiteer (TBA) and protest until 3pm
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet

July 16th (Friday):
– meet in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 9am
– group to flyer, bullhorn in LaFayette Park and in front of the White House
– evening to post protest pics, videos and articles to Internet


July 17th (Saturday):
– POTA Retreat (location TBA 2pm to 5pm)

This will be an intense think tank session on the future of Peace of the Action and the future of anti-war protests in the U.S. With small numbers, where should our limited resources be focused? We have to dream up an entire movement based on very low numbers and very limited funds—bring your creative solutions and a positive attitude that a better world is possible!

– POTA Dinner/Rally (possible picnic Lafayette Park)

July 18th (Sunday):
– depart DC











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Dennis Kucinich: Israel must answer for Flotilla attack

Posted on 04 June 2010 by admin

US Congressman Dennis Kucinich has called for Washington to impose diplomatic and financial consequences on Israel over its deadly attack on the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla.

Israel’s conduct “constitutes an act of belligerence against Turkey, which at one time Israel considered an important ally,” the Ohio Democrat wrote in a letter to US President Barack Obama on Friday.

“It also undermines United States troops’ efforts in Iraq, since your administration’s efforts to achieve stability in the region and to withdraw troops from Iraq have depended upon Turkey’s cooperation through use of its air bases,” the congressman added.

Kucinich also said that the attack on the Freedom Flotilla should have consequences for the aggressors and urged Obama to call Israel to “an accounting for planning and carrying out the attack.”

“If our nation fails to act in any substantive way, the United States licenses the violence and we are complicit in it and our own citizens will be forced to pay the consequences,” Kucinich wrote.

Kucinich also called for an independent investigation into the incident.

The Israeli military attacked the Freedom Flotilla in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea early on May 31, killing at least 19 people on board the six ships, including eight Turkish citizens, and injuring about 50 others.

Israel also arrested nearly 700 activists from 42 countries on board the Freedom Flotilla, which was attempting to break the siege of Gaza in order to deliver 10,000 tons of humanitarian assistance to the long-suffering people of the territory.

DK calls for independent probe of Israeli raid

WASHINGTON — A US lawmaker called Friday for an independent probe into Israel’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship and called for Washington to impose diplomatic and financial “consequences” on its ally.

“The US can begin by calling for an independent international inquiry of the Mavi Marmara incident. The integrity of such inquiry necessitates that it not be led by the nation whose conduct is under scrutiny,” Representative Dennis Kucinich said in a draft letter to President Barack Obama.

The message, which Kucinich was circulating to colleagues for their signature before sending it to the White House, urges Obama to “call Israel to an accounting for its conduct in planning and executing” the raid.

“The attack on the Mavi Marmara requires consequences” for Israel’s government, the Democrat said. “Those consequences must be dealt by the United States. They must be diplomatic and they must be financial.”

Israel has defended both its right to carry out the Monday raid and its punishing blockade of Gaza, which is ruled by the Islamist movement Hamas. The group is blacklisted in Washington as a terrorist group.

Kucinich, who earlier this year introduced legislation calling for a full withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, also called for Washington to “begin to redefining its relationship” with Israel.

“No one questions the right of Israel to defend its border, but that defense does not extend to shooting innocent civilians anywhere in the world, anytime it pleases,” said the lawmaker.

Kucinich called the raid “an act of belligerence against Turkey” and warned it “undermines” US efforts in Iraq, which rely on Turkey granting access to key air bases on its soil.

The Ohio lawmaker noted that said Washington views Israel as “our most important ally in the region, whose survival is a primary concern” but that the Jewish state had failed to uphold its end of the bargain.

“Israel owes the United States more than reckless, pre-meditated violence waged against innocent people,” he charged.

A spokesman for Kucinich said that, with the US Congress in recess this week, he would not be releasing how many lawmakers had signed on to the tough message, an unusually sharp criticism of Israel at a time when other lawmakers have pledged to stand by the US ally.

Turkey’s ambassador to Washington, Namik Tan, expressed disappointment Friday that the United States had thus far failed to condemn Israel outright over the raid, which left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.

“There is no word of condemnation at any level,” he said, insisting “the US should have been the first party to condemn.”

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Ron Paul: U.S. Shouldn’t Support Israel’s Gaza Blockade

Posted on 03 June 2010 by admin


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Obama’s Timidity and Deaths at Sea

Posted on 02 June 2010 by admin

A chief lesson to learn from President Barack Obama’s recent unwillingness to stand up to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud Lobby is that such timidity can get people killed.

Casualty figures are still arriving in the wake of Israel’s Sunday night-Monday morning commando attack on an unarmed flotilla trying to bring relief supplies to the 1.5 million Palestinians crowded into Gaza. Already, at least nine civilian passengers are reported killed, and dozens wounded.

Seldom has an act of aggression been so well advertised in advance. Israel had made clear that it would use force to prevent the ships from reaching Gaza and heard no stern protest from President Obama, who apparently could not overcome his fear of Israel’s legendary political clout.

Earlier this year, Obama did criticize Israel’s continued settlement of Palestinian areas and Netanyahu’s resistance to holding meaningful peace talks, but the president has failed to follow up his words with firm action or resolve. Netanyahu concluded that Israel could do what it wished, including dropping commandos from helicopters onto crowded ships and, after alleging a clash with civilians, ordering the use of lethal force.

Then, Netanyahu could expect that America’s Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) – with leading figures like Wolf Blitzer, who built his journalistic career by working for the Jerusalem Post – would finesse the murderous assault into something reasonable and possibly even tilted sympathetically toward the Israeli troops.

Early on, CNN began repeating the Israeli “explanation” for its attack on the high seas, parroting the Jerusalem Post, which reported that “militants were killed” after they set upon Israeli naval commandos who boarded one of the six ships Monday morning at two o’clock.

The commandos “were met with strong resistance from men armed with bladed weapons and the situation degenerated into a massacre when one of them grabbed the weapon of a soldier and opened fire,” said the Jerusalem Post, quoting Israeli military sources.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that the relief convoy organizers had a “radical Islamic anti-Western orientation,” and that Israeli “naval forces were attacked with metal clubs and knives, as well as live fire,” though there were no reports of Israeli deaths. The IDF statement continued, “The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose,” adding that the Navy then used riot dispersal methods, which include live fire, according to the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA).

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak blamed the organizers of the convoy for the violent outcome, and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told a news conference why that was so: “The organizers’ intent was violent, their method was violent, and unfortunately, the results were violent.”

So, you see, the Israeli military resorted to violence only in self-defense. Right.

Quiet Conversation

On Monday, President Obama spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone about the incident. Afterward, the White House said Obama had expressed “deep regret” over the deaths, but declined further comment, citing “the importance of learning all the facts and circumstances” as quickly as possible.

Don’t hold your breath, though, waiting for the timid Obama or his Likud-leaning advisers – much less the FCM – to question the Israeli version.

We are likely to get an “explanation” worthy of the late Alexander Haig as to why the slaughter may well have been “justified.” Haig’s death in February brought to mind comments he made about a brutal incident on the night of Dec. 2, 1980, shortly after Ronald Reagan’s election victory.

In rightist-ruled El Salvador, government security forces stopped four American churchwomen in their mini-van and were ordered to kill them. The soldiers first raped the women and then executed them with high-powered rifles. Reagan’s foreign policy team decided to treat the rape-murder as a public relations problem, best handled by shifting blame onto the victims. And so, the women were deemed not nuns, but “political activists.” (Today, “militants”–whatever that means–is often the label of choice.)

After becoming Reagan’s first secretary of state, Haig told Congress that “the nuns may have run through a roadblock or may have accidentally been perceived to have been doing so, and there may have been an exchange of fire.”

In just a few weeks, the American women had gone from being innocent victims to “political activists” to armed insurgents – although knowledgeable U.S. government officials conceded there was no evidence to support Haig’s shootout speculation. As an intelligence analyst at the time, I knew of Haig’s inclination to make up stuff.

Watch for something similar to happen with respect to the “militants” or “activists” who were killed or wounded in the incident off Gaza. I avoid tuning in to the FCM anymore (it’s just too much for my Irish temper), but I’m told that Israel-friendly pundits are already spinning faster than the famous centrifuges in Iran.

Uncle Remus’ Wisdom

“He Don’t Say Nothin’,” as Uncle Remus put it, with improper grammar but with an accurate understanding that by not saying anything you can often convey a powerful or dangerous message.

As a presidential candidate, Obama was careful to say nothing about the brutal Israeli blockade against the 1.5 million people in Gaza, about to enter its fourth year. As president-elect, he stayed mum as the Israelis attacked densely populated Gaza, killing some 1,400 Gazans.

As president, he has backed down at every significant moment when Netanyahu thumbed his nose at Obama or at Vice President Joe Biden.

Obama knew about the “Freedom Flotilla” and its plan to bring supplies to Gaza. And he had to be aware of Israel’s threats to attack the relief ships. But, like Uncle Remus’ Br’er Fox, Obama “don’t say nothin.’”

Quite the contrary, Obama’s pro-Zionist White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who recently vacationed in Israel and met with Netanyahu last Wednesday, extended an invitation for a working visit at the White House. Netanyahu was to visit Obama on Tuesday after a four-day visit to Canada.

On Monday morning, Netanyahu canceled out of a gala dinner to be held in his honor in Ottawa and nixed the visit to Washington. He said he hoped that both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Obama “understand that Israel has a great security problem.”

Getting Away With Murder

The fatal incident off the Gaza coast was not the first time Israel had used lethal force against a nearly defenseless ship at sea. The attack on the “Freedom Flotilla” was reminiscent of the attack on the USS Liberty during Israel’s Six-Day War against three of its Arab neighbors.

The war started on June 5, 1967, when Israel carried out an unprovoked blitzkrieg attack. What is my source for “unprovoked?” Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who 15 years later admitted publicly:

“In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that [Egyptian President] Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”

Three days into the war, Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats turned their firepower on the intelligence-collection ship USS Liberty in international waters after the Israelis had identified it as a U.S. Navy ship.

The Israelis later insisted that the strafing and torpedo attacks were accidents in the fog of war. However, U.S. intelligence intercepted Israeli conversations at the time showing the attacks were deliberate, and their nature and persistence showed clear intent to sink the Liberty and leave no survivors.

Israeli commandos clad in black were about to land from helicopters and finish off what remained of the Liberty crew when Seaman Terry Halbardier (later awarded the Silver Star) slid over the Liberty’s napalm-greased deck to jury-rig an antenna and get an SOS off to the Sixth Fleet.

Israeli forces intercepted the SOS and quickly broke off the attack. But 34 of theLiberty crew were killed and over 170 wounded.

To avoid exacerbating relations with Israel, the U.S. Navy was ordered to cover up the deliberate nature of the attack, and the surviving crew was threatened with imprisonment if they so much as told their wives. When some of the crew later called for an independent investigation, they were hit with charges of anti-Semitism.

One of the surviving crew of the USS Liberty, decorated Navy veteran Joe Meadors, was with the “Freedom Flotilla” when it was attacked on Sunday night. Meadors is past president of the USS Liberty Veterans Association. The State Department tells us that Joe Meadors survived this latest Israeli attack. At last word, he sits in an Israeli jail.

Rachel Corrie

Another American was murdered in cold blood on March 16, 2003. Twenty-three year-old Rachel Corrie, a volunteer serving in Gaza with the International Solidarity Movement was run over by an Israeli army bulldozer after a prolonged face-off in full view of several of her volunteer colleagues. Rachel had been trying to prevent the bulldozing of a Palestinian home where she had been staying.

The message the Israelis wanted to convey in killing Rachel Corrie was that international volunteers would no longer be exempt from the brutal treatment accorded young Israeli volunteers who tried to stand up, as Rachel did, for decent treatment of Palestinians in Gaza.

The FCM’s excitement over President George W. Bush’s eagerly anticipated “shock-and-awe” bombing of Iraq three days later pushed what limited coverage there was about Rachel’s murder to the back pages. The Israelis claimed the killing was an inadvertent mistake, like the shoot-up of the Liberty. The courageous Rachel was very much with the Freedom Flotilla in spirit. And a certain poetic justice is to be found in that one of the ships in the convoy bore the name “Rachel Corrie.”

Israel cannot hide behind “inadvertence” this time, although its spin-masters are already doing their best to smear the civilians on the ships with buzzwords, calling them “militants” and “terrorists” who “ambushed” and tried to “lynch” the Israeli commandos.

These P.R. tactics may work with the American FCM and neocons in Washington – and by extension the TV-watchers in the United States – but patience with Israel in the international community is wearing paper-thin.

Some Care About the Scandal of Gaza

Much of the world’s impatience has to do with Gaza, including the Israeli attack from Dec. 17, 2008, to Jan. 18, 2009, as well as the three-year blockade that began when Hamas won Palestinian elections and became the governing party in Gaza.

Israel and the U.S. government deem Hamas to be a terrorist organization, though some other countries regard it more as a resistance movement fighting against Israeli occupation.

Regardless of how one feels about Hamas, Israel’s harsh blockade of Gaza and last year’s military assault have inflicted a humanitarian disaster on the Palestinian people.

Has Netanyahu Gone Too Far?

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has reacted strongly to the Israeli attack on the relief ships, the largest of which sailed from Turkey. According to one report, Turkey has served warning that Turkish navy ships will escort future relief convoys to Gaza.

Erdogan has had it with Israeli mistreatment of Muslims in his eastern Mediterranean neighborhood. On Jan. 29, 2009, at the economic summit in Davos, he leveled harsh criticism to Israeli President Shimon Peres’  face, labeling Gaza “an open-air prison.”

Erdogan angrily cited “the sixth commandment – thou shalt not kill,” adding, “We are talking about killing” in Gaza. Erdogan’s one-and-a-half-minute tirade was capturedon camera by the BBC.

Five days before Erdogan’s outburst, the Brazilian government also condemned Israel’s bombing of Gaza and its effect on the civilian population as a “disproportionate response.”

It seems to have been the atrocity in Gaza – plus a common determination to prevent war from spreading to Iran – that galvanized the successful joint effort by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to defy Israel. They persuaded Iran to agree to transfer half of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey for further processing, rendering it unusable for a nuclear weapon.

“Defy Israel?” you ask. Confused? If the Israeli leaders truly believe that low-enriched uranium comprises an essential part of an “existential threat” to Israel from eventual nuclear weapons in Iran, would they not be delighted at Iran’s agreement to send half of that uranium out of the country? Good question.

Truth be told, Israel cares a lot less about Iran’s uranium that it does about forcing “regime change” in Tehran. Netanyahu does not want any agreement with Iran; he wants sanctions against Iran, and eventually a military conflict, with the U.S. jumping in to help finish Iran off.

And this twin wish is shared by American neocons who remain influential in the Obama administration and in the FCM.

The pro-Israeli hardliners are the ones running U.S. policy on the Middle East, not Obama, who seems only nominally in charge. Unusually clear proof of this came when the Brazilians released a letter revealing that Obama had personally encouraged the Brazilian and Turkish leaders to pursue the kind of deal they were able to work out with the Iranians.

Small wonder, then, that the leaders of Brazil and Turkey were taken aback when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other administration spokespeople trashed the tripartite Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal and pressed ahead with a new round of sanctions.

And the president? Did he step up and acknowledge that he had encouraged Brazil and Turkey to seek the uranium deal? Well, he don’t say nothin’.

Israeli Influence

While Americans continue to be starved of real information from the FCM, better informed people around the world have come to view with disdain the degree to which Washington dogs are wagged by Israeli tails.

When I suggested five years ago before a Capitol Hill hearing chaired by Rep. John Conyers that Israel was right up there, together with oil and military bases, as comprising the real rationale for war on Iraq, I, too, was called anti-Semitic. But the evidence has always been as clear as it is abundant.

An inadvertent remark by a major player on Iraq, former British Prime Minister Blair, has provided insight – straight from the horse’s ass, I mean, mouth.

In early February 2010, the British press revealed that Blair, testifying to the Iraq war commission in the U.K., offered the following account of his discussions with Bush in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002. (That’s when Bush said war was the only way to deal with Saddam Hussein, and Blair acquiesced.) But Blair’s remarks revealed that Israeli concerns were a major part of the equation and that Israeli officials were involved in the discussions. Thus, Blair:

“As I recall that discussion, it was less to do with specifics about what we were going to do on Iraq or, indeed, the Middle East, because the Israel issue was a big, big issue at the time. I think, in fact, I remember, actually, there may have been conversations that we had even with Israelis, the two of us, whilst we were there. So that was a major part of all this.”

It is a safe bet that Hillary Clinton’s Likud-friendly lieutenants and their new junior partners in London are busy conferring with Tel Aviv right now about how to handle the P.R. challenge caused by the upstart leaders of Turkey and Brazil with the temerity to work out a deal with Tehran. (Never mind that Obama personally asked them to do it.)

How does one make into a bad thing Iran’s agreement to ship half its uranium out of the country, even if additional steps might still be needed to assure the world that Iran is telling the truth when it says it isn’t building a nuclear bomb?

More and more people around the globe are seeing Obama as subservient to the Likud Lobby, perhaps not as enthusiastically as Bush was, but still unwilling to put action behind his occasional words of dissatisfaction. Important players in the Middle East, as well as increasingly assertive countries like Turkey and Brazil, conclude that the policies and behavior of Tel Aviv and Washington are virtually identical.

And then there is the $3 billion or so that the United States gives Israel each year that enables the Israelis to arm themselves to the teeth. It is understandable, then, that many will blame Washington for what happened in the dark of night, on the eve of Memorial Day, on the high seas.

Hard Lessons

The likely results are three-fold:

1. On Memorial Day next year, there may well be hundreds more “fallen heroes” to honor, killed by Muslim and other “militants” who make no distinction between what the U.S. has done in Iraq and Afghanistan and what Israel does in Gaza and the occupied West Bank – and add Lebanon and Syria, for good measure.

As Gen. David Petraeus pointed out earlier this year, the unresolved Arab-Israeli “conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel” and thus puts U.S. troops at greater risk.

“Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the [region] and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world,” Petraeus said. “Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support.”

2. The linking of U.S. support with Israeli actions increases the incentive of terrorists to ply their dark arts in the United States.

While it is difficult to find a measure of objectivity in official U.S. government documents on this topic, every so often there is a slip between cup and lip. There was such a slip on Sept. 23, 2004, for example, when the Pentagon-sponsored U.S. Defense Science Board issued a formal report concluding:

“Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights.”

You will not be surprised to find out that the board’s report was generally suppressed in the FCM, as were the following, more specific, examples:

“By his own account, KSM’s [9/11 “mastermind” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's] animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experience there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.” (9/11 Commission Report, July 22, 2004, page 147)

And what motivated Dr. Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, the 32-year-old Jordanian physician of Palestinian origin, who on Dec. 30, 2009, detonated a suicide bomb at a CIA site in eastern Afghanistan, killing seven American CIA operatives? According to his brother, al-Balawi “changed” during the three-week-long Israeli offensive in Gaza, which killed some 1,400 Gazans.

When al-Balawi volunteered to treat injured Palestinians in Gaza, he was arrested by Jordanian authorities, his brother said. It was after that arrest that al-Balawi allowed himself to be “recruited” to spy on al-Qaeda for the CIA. Quickly, it became payback time for Americans and Jordanians whom he associated with Israel.

Christmas underpants bomber Abdulmutallab, also is reported to have been particularly outraged by Israel’s slaughter of Gazans at the turn of 2008-09 and Washington’s defense of Israel’s action.

That Israeli actions in Gaza acted as catalysts to al-Balawi’s and Abdulmutallab’s determination to exact revenge on the U.S. is hardly surprising – the more so in view of Washington’s efforts to suppress the findings of the UN-commissioned Gaza investigation by Justice Richard Goldstone. His report concluded that:

“The blockade policies implemented by Israel against the Gaza Strip, in particular the closure of or restrictions imposed on border crossings in the immediate period before the military operations, subjected the local population to extreme hardship and deprivations that amounted to a violation of Israel’s obligations as an Occupying Power under the Fourth Geneva Convention. …

“Israel has essentially violated its obligation to allow free passage of all consignments of medical and hospital objects, food, and clothing that were needed to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the civilian population. …

“The Mission concludes that the conditions resulting from deliberate actions of the Israeli forces and the declared policies of the Government with regard to the Gaza Strip before, during, and after the military operation cumulatively indicate the intention to inflict collective punishment on the people of the Gaza Strip.

“The Mission, therefore, finds a violation of the provisions of Articles 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

3. Attacking Iran.

It is no secret that this goal enjoys high priority on Netanyahu’s agenda. It could be stopped in its tracks by a public warning from President Obama. But all signs point to his bending to neocon advice to shy away from a showdown and, rather, leave everything, including another war of aggression, “on the table.”

The fact that world leaders consider Netanyahu a clear and present danger to peace in the region is shown by the way the leaders of Turkey and Brazil moved at an accelerated pace to bend the Iranians to the kind of deal that Obama personally had advocated, before being overruled by Hillary Clinton and others in his misguided Team of Rivals.

The urgency of the Turkey-Brazil initiative came through in the words of Brazilian President Lula da Silva, who could hardly have been more explicit:

“We can’t allow to happen in Iran what happened in Iraq. Before any sanctions, we must undertake all possible efforts to try and build peace in the Middle East.”

Green Light?

Netanyahu listens only to Washington, when he listens at all. Following the bloody attack on the Freedom Flotilla, I imagine he will now get at most a mealy-mouthed “please-don’t-do-this-again” from the White House, together with acquiescence in an Al-Haig-type made-up excuse about an “exchange” of fire.

If that proves to be the case, Netanyahu is altogether likely to consider that Israel has a green light to provoke hostilities with Iran, with the full expectation that the United States will jump right in to help the non-ally ally finish the job.

Non-ally ally? Sorry, despite what you hear from Obama, Congress, and the whole Washington establishment, Israel is not an ally of the United States. Webster’s (and international law) define ally as “a state associated with another by treaty.”

There is no mutual defense treaty between the U.S. and Israel. (Washington has broached the idea to Israel from time to time, but Israel has said no thanks. Treaties, you see, require internationally recognized borders, and – for obvious reasons – Israeli leaders avoid that subject like the plague.)

NATO member Turkey, on the other hand, is a U.S. ally. This could make things very awkward if Turkey sends its warships to accompany the next convoy trying to lift the siege of Gaza. It is possible that Washington may have to choose between a real ally and a synthetic one, if shots are fired.

Israel’s Attack Illegal; What Now?

Craig Murray, a former British ambassador and Foreign Office specialist on maritime law (and VIPS member), has just weighed in with a helpful description of two clear legal possibilities, which take into account both international law and the Law of the Sea:

“Possibility one is that the Israeli commandos were acting on behalf of the government of Israel in killing the activists in international waters. The applicable law is that of the flag state of the ship on which the incident occurred.

“In legal terms, the Turkish ship was Turkish territory. So in this case Israel is in a position of war with Turkey, and the attack by Israeli commandos falls under international jurisdiction as a war crime.

“Possibility two is that, if the killings were not military actions authorized by Israel, they were then acts of murder and fall under Turkish jurisdiction. If Israel does not consider itself in a position of war with Turkey, it must hand over the commandos involved for trial in Turkey under Turkish law. It is for Turkey, not Israel, to carry out any inquiry or investigation and to initiate any prosecutions. Israel would be obliged by law to hand over indicted personnel for prosecution.”

Stay tuned.

Read more by Ray McGovern

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Israelis must speak up for Gaza activists

Posted on 01 June 2010 by admin

The savage attack on the Gaza flotilla is a wake-up call for every Israeli and further proof of the government’s growing paranoia

Binyamin NetanyahuThe defiant and paranoid spirit emanating from the likes of Binyamin Netanyahu is poisoning the internal public discourse. Photograph: Bernat Armangue/AP

A few months ago I was handed a leaflet from the group that organised the humanitarian aid flotilla to Gaza. I entertained the idea of joining it as a journalist because I believed the presence of journalists and of Israelis would make its journey safer. I gave up the idea because the pressing chores of life were more demanding and also – I wonder if I’ll ever be able to forgive myself for this sentiment – I was somewhat horrified by the idea of spending a lot of time on a ship with a bunch of Kumbaya-singing hippies.

I did not think the IDF would attack the ships. I thought Israel was too clever, too PR aware, to jeopardise the lives of foreign nationals for the whole world to see. I didn’t for a moment foresee anything resembling the murderous carnage the world witnessed on Monday morning. Little did I know.

I must have forgotten that even though Likud and Labour governments might be prone to identical behaviour when it comes to land grabbing, settlement building and Palestinian human rights oppression, there is still a great difference in their levels of stupidity, and their disregard of international public opinion. The one good thing about traditional Labour governments is that, on occasion, a raised cautioning finger from the US administration or an international outcry might make them stop and think for a minute.

What harm would have come to Israel if it had let the protesters embark in Gaza and deliver their goods? The world media generally yawns at such initiatives, and all the activists could have rationally hoped for would have been a photo op in an obscure back page of a number of broadsheets. Israel could have come out of it looking majestically generous.

But Israel has moved into a new stage in the last few months. The defiant and paranoid spirit emanating from Binyamin Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman and their opportunistic and violent Labour ally, Ehud Barak, is poisoning the internal public discourse. Ministers and members of parliament are openly inciting against Palestinian citizens of Israel and their political representatives in the most racist manner, and against leftwing activists – Jewish as well as Arab. The talk about “traitors”, “backstabbers”, “snitches” and “fifth column” are increasingly reminiscent of the Weimar republic.

It is not just Hamas and Hezbollah, or even the whole of the Palestinian people that seems to be the enemy, it is everybody: from “hypocritical and Muslim-infested” Europe to the soapy liberals among the Israelis, from the journalists to the lawyers. Journalist Anat Kam is facing trial on spying allegations for leaking military documents when serving as a soldier, and journalist Uri Blau has gone into exile in London under intimidating threats of facing similar charges for publishing them.

Ameer Makhoul and Dr Omar Saeed (human right activists and Israeli citizens) were arrested in the middle of the night at their homes some two weeks ago, and were unlawfully prevented from conferring with their lawyers for 12 days. Now they are facing trial on extremely controversial spying allegations. In this atmosphere, no wonder the government now starts killing European human rights activists and protesters in an act of terrorist piracy.

The international peace movement has shown that it consists of much more that “Kumbaya-singing hippies”. It showed immense courage and solidarity with Gaza’s people, and paid an incredibly heavy price in the lives of heroic activists. They have followed the footsteps of Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall, in sacrificing their lives while exposing the evils of the Israeli occupation forces.

Any decent Israeli citizen is faced with very clear choices today. The first is to support the government and the army, to pretend to buy into their stories about “gunfire coming from the ship”. The second is to align ourselves with the people who died on board the Gaza flotilla, and to back their struggle for a better future in Israel in Palestine.

The Israeli government proves day after day that when you start robbing human rights off someone, you end up robbing them off everyone. The savage attack in the Mediterranean should be a wake-up call for every Israeli. If we do not speak up now, nobody will be left when the Netanyahu-Lieberman-Barak thugs come for us.

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Irish aid vessel still sailing for Gaza, ‘most serious consequences’ promised if passengers harmed

Posted on 01 June 2010 by admin

Irish humanitarian aid ship the MV Rachel Corrie is still sailing for Gaza, in spite of Israel’s recent, devastating attack on other vessels in the Gaza aid flotilla, resulting in at least nine dead activists and hundreds of prisoners.

The ship, named after 23-year-old U.S. peace activist Rachel Corrie — who was crushed to death in 2003 by an American-built bulldozer operated by the Israeli army — has been pleading with the international community to pressure Israel into leaving them alone.

The Irish government, for its part, has threatened Israel with “the most serious consequences” if any Irish national, captured or currently aborad an aid vessel, is harmed.

“If any harm comes to any of our citizens, it will have the most serious consequences,” Taoiseach Brian Cowen said, according to The Irish Times.

“Taoiseach” is the position bestowed upon the individual who leads Ireland’s government.

The MV Rachel Corrie is reportedly due to arrive in Gaza tomorrow, according to the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Irish officials have demanded Israel let the boat pass unimpeded. Ireland has long opposed Israel’s military blockade of Palestine.

“The government has formally requested the Israeli government to allow the Irish-owned ship to be allowed to complete its journey unimpeded and discharge its humanitarian cargo in Gaza,” Cowen said.

“The Rachel Corrie is carrying medical equipment, wheelchairs, school supplies and cement, a material Israel has banned in Hamas-ruled Gaza, organizers said,” the Seattle Post-Globe reported.

Five Irish activists and five Malaysian activists were said to be aboard.

“In the names of our friends, we are more determined than ever to continue into Gaza with our humanitarian cargo and our support for the blockaded and suffering people of Gaza,” read a message sent on behalf of the activists, published by Global Research. “We expect Israel to respond to the international condemnation of its violence by not impeding by any means the safe passage of the Rachel Corrie. We appeal to the international community and United Nations to continue to demand Israel our safe passage into Gaza.”

Activist group Jewish Voice for Peace declared in an e-mail to supporters, “We still don’t know the names of those who were killed or injured, or where they are from. And we don’t know the whereabouts or well-being of more than 400 activists still being held by Israel.” The group demanded Israel release the activists without condition or charge.

The activists’ call echoed another from NATO, which demanded the prisoners’ freedom and pressed the need for a “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation” into the events.

In response to the activist killings, Egypt announced it would open a portion of border crossing into Palestine to allow in future shipments of humanitarian supplies. Turkey, reportedly the country of origin for some of the May 31st raid’s victims, pledged it would send a military escort with future Gaza aid boats.

Israel claims the killings were the result of a “provocation” by activists who attacked the soldiers as they landed. However, journalists who were on board the vessel during the raidreported civilian casualties first, before they confirmed soldiers had landed, indicating that Israeli forces began their bombardment before boarding the ship.

By Tuesday, the United States had not condemned Israel for taking action against a ship in international waters, instead calling for an investigation to learn the facts of what happened. Instead, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stuck to the language of a UN Security Council statement issued late Sunday on the Israeli assault on a convoy headed to Gaza.

The statement condemns “those acts which resulted in the loss of at least ten civilians and many wounded,” but did not specifically say whether the Israeli raid or actions of pro-Palestinians supporters caused the violence.

“Let me simply restate what the international community and the United States supported early this morning at the UN Security Council through a presidential statement,” Gibbs said.

“The Security Council statement that I read calls for an investigation that is prompt, impartial, credible and transparent, conforming to international standards, of exactly what happened,” Gibbs said. “And we’re obviously supportive of that.”

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Flotilla Massacre: Israel’s Outrageous Claims

Posted on 01 June 2010 by admin

At least nine people have been killed and more than 30 wounded when an Israeli commando stormed the biggest boat of a flotilla carrying 800 humanitarians, peace activists, and aid workers. The flotilla was trying to break through the three-year blockade put in place by Israel after Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 and seized control of Gaza. The ships were carrying some 10 tons of humanitarian aid. The commandos boarded the ship from helicopters at 4 a.m. Video from , who can be heard clearly shouting, “We are being attacked in international waters,” and audio from , a reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald, show that the ship was boarded while still in international waters. The last known coordinates of the flotilla was latitude: 32.64113, longitude: 33.56727–approximately 65 miles off the coast of Netanya. Israeli police have also imprisoned 16 passengers.

Israeli spokesman Mark Regev said he was confident that the aid workers opened fire first on the commandos. But the aid workers have noted that all the ships were searched at port by both the Turkish and the Cyprus governments and no weapons were found. Video of the siege shows some of the passengers armed with marbles and slingshots.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given his full support to the operation but has cut short a trip to Canada and canceled completely the meeting that was to take place on Tuesday with President Obama at the White House. Last June, Obama sent a note to the Israeli government officially protesting the blockade and demanding that the border crossings into Gaza be opened to facilitate reconstruction. The U.S. demanded that the Israelis allow more food and medicine into the territory, that cash transfers to banks in the Gaza Strip be permitted, and that construction materials such as cement and iron be allowed in.

. Read The Daily Beast’s complete coverage of the crisis in Israel.The names of the dead are not yet known, but passengers aboard the ships included retired U.S. diplomats Amb. Edward Peck and Col. Ann Wright, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, and former U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Denis Halliday, as well as humanitarian aid and human-rights workers, several MPs from Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Turkey, Malaysia, and Palestinian members of the Knesset.

This is not the first attempt by the group, known collectively as the , to break through Israel’s blockade. In the summer of 2008, the organization set sail from Cyprus on two small wooden fishing boats carrying 44 activists from 17 different countries. That mission successfully docked at Gaza–the first international ships to do so since 1957. Bolstered by their initial success, leaders of the Free Gaza Movement organized four more successful trips in 2008, transporting tons of aid and dozens of United Nations workers, international activists, and members of European parliaments to the Gaza Strip.

But circumstances changed after the devastating war in December of 2008 between Israel and Hamas (Operation Cast Lead, as the Israelis called it). When the Free Gaza Movement organized an emergency delegation to deliver three tons of medical supplies and a handful of doctors and surgeons to Gaza, they were intercepted by the Israeli Navy, which rammed their ship, almost sinking it. In January 2009, the group bought another ship and once again set sail to Gaza. Once again they were turned back by the Israeli navy. Last June, the organization tried a third time to break through the blockade, this time taking with them Nobel Peace Prize winner Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The Israeli navy boarded that ship, confiscated the materials on board, arrested the passengers, including Maguire and McKinney, and detained them in an Israeli prison for a week. Although the ship was never returned, the Israeli government claimed to have delivered the medical supplies on board to Gaza, though all the other material, including the food, toys, and reconstruction material were seized and, presumably, destroyed.

The Israeli government has instructed the Free Gaza Movement to try to deliver its supplies through official channels. But considering that those channels are strictly controlled by the government itself, it is difficult to take the suggestion seriously. If such “official channels” were actually effective in delivering aid to the Gazans, then there would not be the massive starvation and malnutrition that we are seeing today in Gaza.

Then again, according to the Israeli government, everything is just fine in Gaza. No need to worry. Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak has made the extraordinary claim that there is absolutely no shortage in humanitarian aid to the Gazans and that food and supplies are regularly and freely transferred to the area.

That will come as a surprise not only to the hundreds of thousands of starving Gazans living on piles of rubble that used to be their homes, but to just about every single human-rights and international aid organization in the world, including the United Nations, all of which have repeatedly reported that the blockade is causing extreme hardship, severe malnutrition in children, and increased poverty in Gaza. The World Health Organization recently passed a resolution demanding that Israel end the blockade, claiming that it has caused a devastating shortage of medicines in the Gaza Strip. (Predictably, the United States opposed the WHO resolution, saying that it “stirred up tensions.” Heaven forbid!)

Amnesty International has written numerous reports about how the blockade has destroyed the livelihoods of Gaza’s farmers and fishermen and limited access to medical care. The U.N.’s Association for International Development Agencies has documented the disastrous impact of the blockade on Gaza’s health services. According to one report, long delays for those seeking medical treatment in Israel caused the deaths of 28 people last year alone. The Vatican has called Gaza “one big concentration camp.” The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that the blockade has imposed “unacceptable hardships” on innocent civilians while “empowering extremists.” Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who has called the blockade a “crime and an atrocity,” echoed Ban’s statement. “I think politically speaking [the blockade] has worked even to strengthen the popularity of Hamas and to the detriment of the popularity of Fatah,” Carter said.

Confronted with these statements and statistics, the response of the Israeli government has been as predictable as it is absurd. After all, all of these international aid and human-rights organizations are against Israel, didn’t you know? Amnesty International is “borderline anti-Semitic,” as Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League has declared. Human Rights Watch has an “anti-Israel bias,” according to AIPAC. And please don’t get Israeli politicians started on the United Nations! Whatever criticisms these organizations have against Israel are obviously biased and need not be taken seriously.

As to why continue the blockade in Gaza? Well that’s an easy question for the Israeli government to answer. “Hamas, which rules Gaza, is a terror organization supported by Iran,” said Defense Minister Barak. “It smuggles weapons and rockets with the sole purpose of harming Israelis, as it has done many times in the past.”

OK, fine. Hamas is bad. We get it. But what about the rest of the 1.5 million men, women, and children living in what has become the most densely packed region on earth? How can the cutting off of food, medical supplies, gas, and electricity to the entire population of Gaza be understood in any other way except as an act of collective punishment?

Despite the unprecedented humanitarian crisis facing Gazans, Israel’s blockade has gotten very little international attention. Despite a promise by the international community to pledge over $4 billion of aid to help rebuild Gaza in 2009, almost none of that money has reached Gazans. Most Americans, it seems, could not care less about what is taking place in Gaza. Ask the average pundit on TV about it and the response will inevitably be, “Hamas.”

End of conversation.

And yet, do we not all have a moral obligation to put politics aside and stand up for the suffering of our fellow human beings no matter where they are? Are we not obligated to work toward overturning the profoundly immoral policies that have made the situation in Gaza intolerable for its inhabitants? And if the world’s governments are not willing to take action to address this unprecedented crisis, then does it not fall on the citizens of the world to do something about it?

“When the tsunami hit Indonesia, the world came together to provide aid for those affected,” said Ramzi Kysia, a volunteer who has been with the Free Gaza Movement since 2006. “When the earthquake hit Haiti, again, the world came together to help those who were suffering. And yet what we have in Gaza is a man-made disaster, a man-made humanitarian crisis. But it is every bit as bad as any natural disaster.”

Responsibility Is With Hamas For Attack On Gaza Flotilla! Yochanan Plesener

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Flotilla Massacre: Cynthia McKinney interviewed on CBC’s Connect with Mark Kelley

Posted on 01 June 2010 by admin

FROM CYNTHIA MCKINNEY ON MAY 31, 2010: “I am outraged at Israel’s latest criminal act. I mourn with my fellow Free Gaza travelers, the lives that have been lost by Israel’s needless, senseless act against unarmed humanitarian activiests. But I’m even more outraged that once again, Israel has been aided and abetted by the silence of the world’s onlookers whose hearts have grown cold with indifference.”

“First, absent any intention by the flotilla to attack Israel, or any suspicion of piracy, it was unlawful for Israel to forcibly board foreign merchant vessels in international waters.

Secondly, such action amounted to an unlawful interference in the enforcement jurisdiction of the “flag-States” (countries of registration) of those vessels, such as Turkey.

Thirdly, it violated the fundamental principle of freedom of navigation on the high seas, codified in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982.

Fourthly, under international human rights law, the apprehension and detention of those on board the vessels likely amounts to arbitrary, unlawful detention, contrary to article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, since there is lawful basis for detention.

Fifthly, if Israeli forces killed people, they may not only have infringed the human right to life, but they may also have committed serious international crimes. Under article 3 of the Rome Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation of 1988, it is an international crime for any person to seize or exercise control over a ship by force, and also a crime to injure or kill any person in the process.

Ironically, that treaty was adopted after Palestinian terrorists hijacked the Italian cruise ship, the Achille Lauro, in 1985, in which a Jewish American was killed.

In such cases, any claim of self-defence by Israeli forces is irrelevant. The treaty necessarily adopts a strict approach. One cannot attack a ship and then claim self-defence if the people on board resist the unlawful use of violence.

Legally speaking, government military forces rappelling onto a ship to illegally capture it are treated no differently than other criminals. The right of self-defence in such situations rests with the passengers on board: a person is legally entitled to resist one’s own unlawful capture, abduction and detention.”

Associate Professor Ben Saul is Co-Director of the Sydney Centre for International Law at The University of Sydney, a barrister, and a leading international authority on terrorism in international law. Dr Saul teaches the law of armed conflict and has been involved in such cases in The Hague, the Israeli Supreme Court, and in the Balibo coronial inquest.

YouTube – Flotilla Massacre: Cynthia McKinney interviewed on CBC’s Connect with Mark Kelley.

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International Backlash Against Israel Grows After Violent Attack On Humanitarian Flotilla

Posted on 31 May 2010 by admin

International Backlash Against Israel Grows After Violent Attack On Humanitarian Flotilla

Arabs & Muslims Called On To Rise Up In Front Of Israeli Embassies

Thousands In The Street In Istanbul Turkey After Israel Attacks Gaza Flotilla

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The Legal Position on the Israeli Attack

Posted on 31 May 2010 by admin

I think that anybody with any fairness is bound to admit that the statement William Hague came out with is much better than anything on Israel which New Labour ever came out with, especially this bit:

“This news underlines the need to lift the restrictions on access to Gaza, in line with UNSCR 1860. The closure is unacceptable and counter-productive. There can be no better response from the international community to this tragedy than to achieve urgently a durable resolution to the Gaza crisis.I call on the Government of Israel to open the crossings to allow unfettered access for aid to Gaza, and address the serious concerns about the deterioration in the humanitarian and economic situation and about the effect on a generation of young Palestinians.”


But as I told this afternoon’s tremendous spontaneous demonstration on Whitehall, fine words are not enough and we must now see the kind of sanctions regime we saw against apartheid South Africa.

A word on the legal position, which is very plain. To attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal. It is not piracy, as the Israeli vessels carried a military commission. It is rather an act of illegal warfare.

Because the incident took place on the high seas does not mean however that international law is the only applicable law. The Law of the Sea is quite plain that, when an incident takes place
on a ship on the high seas (outside anybody’s territorial waters) the applicable law is that of the flag state of the ship on which the incident occurred. In legal terms, the Turkish ship was Turkish territory.

There are therefore two clear legal possibilities.

Possibility one is that the Israeli commandos were acting on behalf of the government of Israel in killing the activists on the ships. In that case Israel is in a position of war with Turkey, and the act falls under international jurisdiction as a war crime.

Possibility two is that, if the killings were not authorised Israeli military action, they were acts of murder under Turkish jurisdiction. If Israel does not consider itself in a position of war with Turkey, then it must hand over the commandos involved for trial in Turkey under Turkish law.

In brief, if Israel and Turkey are not at war, then it is Turkish law which is applicable to what happened on the ship. It is for Turkey, not Israel, to carry out any inquiry or investigation into events and to initiate any prosecutions. Israel is obliged to hand over indicted personnel for prosecution.

Craig Murray is a former British Ambassador. He is also a former Head of the Maritime Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He negotiated the UK’s current maritime boundaries with Ireland, Denmark (Faeroes), Belgium and France, and boundaries of the Channel Islands, Turks and Caicos and British Virgin Islands. He was alternate Head of the UK Delegation to the UN Preparatory Commission on the Law of the Sea. He was Head of the FCO Section of the Embargo Surveillance Centre, enforcing sanctions on Iraq, and directly responsible for clearance of Royal Navy boarding operations in the Persian Gulf.

Reviews of Craig Murray’s War on Terror Memoir, “Murder in Samarkand” – published in the US as “Dirty Diplomacy”:

“It really is a magnificent achievement” – Noam Chomsky
“A fearless book by a fearless man. Craig Murray tells the truth whether the “authorities” like it or not. I salute a man of integrity” – Harold Pinter

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