The Day In Israel: Wednesday June 9th, 2010

The US is demanding an international body be involved in the probe of the flotilla events

“International participation in investigating these matters will be important to the credibility that everybody wants to see,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley on Tuesday. “We are discussing with Israel and others the prospective nature of international participation in the investigation. And we’re sharing different ideas on how to best accomplish that.”

“We want to see an impartial, credible, prompt, thorough investigation. We recognize that international participation, which lends itself to countries and entities being able to vouch for the results of the investigation – will be an essential element to putting this tragedy behind us,” he went on to say.

On a related note, who’s heard the words “building freeze” in the past week?

Just saying.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)?

8:38PM: Beeb bias of the day: The BBC just can’t help themselves.

Reader James points out the following photo and caption appearing in this BBC report entitled: Barack Obama says situation in Gaza is ‘unsustainable’

gaza woman fenceThe thing is, if you look at the original photo here, this “caged woman” is at the Rafah Crossing, which is at the border between Gaza and Egypt.

A Palestinian woman waits for relatives to return from Egypt at the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip June 9, 2010. Egypt, which largely closed its Gaza border after the Hamas takeover in 2007, reopened the frontier indefinitely following the Israeli naval raid last week. (Reuters)

In other words, it is extremely dishonest of the BBC to use this photo for a story blaming Israel for the situation in Gaza.

But what’s new?

7:22PM: Today South Korea was the venue for a special event involving a robotic creature incapable of blinking.

And that’s just Shimon Peres. Look at who he met.

Peres robot

Reuters

Story:

Even though Vietnam shunned President Shimon Peres after the recent flotilla incident, on Wednesday the Israeli President received a warm welcome in South Korea, and even met a local robot.

During a visit to KAIST Science Park, Peres was received by a special robot called HUBO, who greeted the president with a handshake, and even handed him flowers.

The president did not miss out on the opportunity and invited the robot to make Aliyah to Israel, promising it would even get upgraded there. Later, the president was invited for a ride on the Korean electric bus.

I’m just glad Peres didn’t try to kiss the robot.

4:22PM: Supermarket chain Lidl has stopped selling Israeli potatoes in Ireland, but denies it is a boycott.

Lidl says it to stop selling two lines of baby potatoes sourced from Israel in its Irish stores, but the German discounter denies the move is politically motivated.

The two lines will switch to an alternative source “in line with seasonable changes”, a spokeswoman for the retailer said.

This was in line with the company’s aim of offering the best quality “in-season” produce all year around at the lowest possible prices, she said.

Irish activists who were deported from Israel at the weekend after their ship was taken over by Israeli defence forces have called for a boycott of Israeli goods until the blockade of Gaza is ended.

The Irish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign has also been running a long-standing campaign calling for a boycott of Israeli goods.

Last year the Republic of Ireland imported €82 million worth of goods from Israel, to which it exported goods with a value of €197 million.

4:12PM: Some refreshing honesty from Australian broadcaster Alan Jones.

12:06PM: Richard Landes looks at the role of the media in the flotilla incident, including  the bias shown by fellow Aussie Rosemary Church of CNN.

9:52AM: According to the Daily Telegraph, Israel is set to accept a British plan to ease its blockade of Gaza in exchange for international acceptance of a watered-down investigation into last week’s flotilla raid.

6:22AM: The Egyptian media has criticized one of the flotilla guerillas.

For not lying.

A storm has been kicked up in Egyptian media after experiences on the flotilla are recounted. The version of events on the Gaza-bound flotilla  as heard by an Egyptian member of parliament have evoked the ire of a number of state-run media outlets in the country because, they claim, the stories help Israeli PR efforts.

An Egyptian member of parliament from the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Beltagy, took part in the flotilla to the Gaza Strip that was commandeered by the Israeli Navy. After participating in the clashes on the deck of the Mavi Marmara, he was arrested by Israel and later released to Egypt.

On Tuesday of last week, he was interviewed on the “10 at Night” program on the Egyptian channel Dream. During the interview, he said that the flotilla participants overtook three Israeli commandos and snatched their weapons from them. This admission of employing force against IDF soldiers has evoked a media storm among Egyptian columnists, who claim this was a “public relations gift to Israel.”

Under the headline “The Muslim Brotherhood’s Gift to Israel,” columnist Abdullah Kamal criticized Beltagy’s admission. “He said that he and those with him on the ship overtook three Israeli commando soldiers who had broken onto the ship and took control of their weapons. He boasted of this without understanding that he is granting Israel a massive, recorded gift that it will gain benefit from in the commission of inquiry it will carry out following the massacre.”

In the column, published in the Egyptian newspaper Rosalyousef, Kamal continued, “Israel said that it was faced with armed men on the ship and that it was thus forced to clash with them. The parliament member said that he and those with him took over the commando’s weapon and denied that he and those with him were civilians who had not committed violent acts.

“Perhaps everyone will see the video clip of the action that was leaked to the media and includes images of an Israeli soldier jumping onto the boat and then being chased and beaten. This is precisely what Israel wants – to prove its excuses from a legal perspective.”

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The daily newspaper el-Gomhuriah also did not spare the parliament member. “This is dangerous talk that serves Israel.

6:14AM: Israel’s ambassador to the US Michael Oren talks to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about the US-Israel relationship.

6:00AM: And now for criticism of the flotilla from some unlikely sources.

First up, we have Imam Fethullah Gülen, a US resident who is considered Turkey’s most influential religious leader.

“What I saw was not pretty,” he said. “It was ugly.”

(Ok, enough about Helen Thomas)

Mr. Gülen said organizers’ failure to seek accord with Israel before attempting to deliver aid “is a sign of defying authority, and will not lead to fruitful matters.”

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Mr. Gülen said he had only recently heard of IHH, the Istanbul-based Islamic charity active in more than 100 countries that was a lead flotilla organizer. “It is not easy to say if they are politicized or not,” he said. He said that when a charity organization linked with his movement wanted to help Gazans, he insisted they get Israel’s permission. He added that assigning blame in the matter is best left to the United Nations.

Next up, we have Kuwaiti journalist ‘Abdallah Al-Hadlaq.

In a June 3, 2010 article in the daily Al-Watan, Kuwaiti journalist ‘Abdallah Al-Hadlaq supported Israel’s decision to stop the Gaza flotilla, saying that the outcome of the Israeli navy’s operation was “in direct proportion to the violence” of the flotilla activists, and that the flotilla organizers are known to have ties with global and regional terror organizations.

The following are excerpts:

“The Weapons had Clearly been Prepared in Advance… and the Soldiers had No Nhoice but to Respond”

“The Israeli navy gave repeated warnings to the ships [of the flotilla], which tried to break the blockade on the terroristic Hamas movement in Gaza, and also invited them to enter the Ashdod port and unload their cargo of ‘aid’ supplies, so it could be thoroughly examined by the security [forces] before being delivered by land to the Gaza Strip. When the flotilla failed to heed these warnings and requests, the Israeli navy had no choice but to take over the ships. [In doing so], the IDF troops encountered violent [opposition] that had been planned in advance: the flotilla participants assaulted them with firearms, metal pipes, knives and clubs, and grabbed the rifle of one of the soldiers. The weapons had clearly been prepared in advance… and the soldiers had no choice but to respond, including with live fire.

“The Israeli navy operation was conducted according to orders and instructions of the highest political echelons, [and aimed at] stopping the ships and keeping them from breaching the naval blockade and reaching Gaza. The warning message sent by the Israeli navy [to the Mavi Marmara] was as follows: ‘To the captain of the [Mavi] Marmara: You are approaching an area of hostilities, which is under a naval blockade. The Gaza coastal area and Gaza Harbor are closed to maritime traffic. We invite you to enter the Ashdod port, from whence the aid supplies will be delivered through the formal land crossing [to Gaza], after which you can return to your home ports.”[2] It should be noted that, according to the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel retains control of a 40-kilometer strip of water off the Gaza coast.”

“The [Flotilla] Organizers are Supporters of Movements and Organizations such as [Global] Jihad, Hamas, Hizbullah and Al-Qaeda”

“The flotilla, which was supported by the terroristic Hamas movement and tried to breach the blockade on this movement in Gaza, was a preplanned provocation against Israel. The grave outcome [of the takeover] was in direct proportion to the violence [employed by the flotilla activists] as they tried [to breach the blockade]. The [flotilla] organizers are supporters of movements and organizations such as [global] Jihad, Hamas, Hizbullah and Al-Qaeda, and have a black record in terms of smuggling arms and [perpetrating] terror operations. And indeed, the Israeli forces discovered on the ships weapons and ammunition that had been prepared in advance.

“The naval blockade on the Hamas movement in Gaza is legal in light of this movement’s actions in the Strip. Had Israel allowed the flotilla – which was not legal – to reach the Hamas movement, it would have opened a route for smuggling weapons and terrorists into the Gaza Strip. No sovereign country would allow its citizens or its sovereignty to be harmed. Moreover, the attempt to force a path to Gaza by sea does not [really] benefit the people of Gaza, since the land crossings are sufficient for [the purpose of] supplying their needs. International aid organizations provide Gaza with all the necessary food, clothing and medical [supplies]. Over 15,000 tons of basic aid supplies enter the Strip every week. Construction materials enter it under the supervision of international organizations, in order to prevent the terroristic Hamas movement from commandeering them and using them for building military fortifications. The land crossings are the most efficient way to deliver supplies to Gaza, and the flotilla organizers know this perfectly well. They also know that since December 2008, their ships are not allowed to approach [the Gaza coast].

“The protests and demonstrations that broke out in various capitals are without meaning or value, as are the emergency summits [convened by] the Arab League, the E.U. and the U.N. The wave of protests will not change a thing, but a full and immediate investigation of the events will reveal all the details of what really happened… and [then] everyone will know the truth about the Hamas movement…”

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David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media