The Day In Israel: Wednesday July 14th, 2010

The Libyan aid ship Amalthea bound for Gaza has apparently changed course for Egypt’s El Arish port, after seeking and receiving permission to do so.

At one point last night, a number of bloggers who were using the marine traffic site (the same one I posted yesterday) noted the ship’s GPS tracking had been turned off. This caused some concern, especially after the following video surfaced on the Mere Rhetoric blog.

Israel Matzav also quoted Israel radio earlier this morning to report the ship’s main engine had apparently been damaged and would take several hours to fix.

As it stands, I do not see the vessel on the maritime traffic site, nor have I heard reports it has arrived at el Arish.

Meanwhile, the ship is reportedly carrying 2000 tons of supplies, which represents roughly a day’s worth of goods.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

11:10PM: According to a report by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (MALAM), seven out of the nine passengers who were killed aboard the Mavi Marmara Turkish passenger ship on May 31 had expressed their desire to die before the flotilla set sail for Gaza.

Meanwhile, the new “aid” ship has finally entered the Egyptian port of El Arish.

8:25PM: Welcome Missy.

8:12PM: This photo of Shalom Menora and three of his children Yossi Menora, 13, left; Rikki Menora, 16, second from right; and Rachel Menora, 14, right, was taken a day before Rikki, Rachel, their grandfather and another granddaughter were killed in a plane crash in Michigan. Yossi remains hospitalized.

AP Photo/Museum of Science and Industry via courtesy the Menora family

5:54PM: Johnny’s not so Rotten after all.

Imagine throwing a notorious ex-punk rocker like John Lydon, better known perhaps as Johnny Rotten of 1970s punk shockers The Sex Pistols, into the volatile Israeli cultural mix.

Johnny Rotten in Mea She’arim, Johnny Rotten at the Kotel, or maybe Johnny Rotten shopping in the shuk. That deliciously juxtaposed scene may come to be next month, when Lydon, considerably older but still feisty, brings his revamped post-Pistols band Public Image Ltd. to Israel for the first time.

Lydon’s performance at the Heineken Music Conference 2010 Festival in Tel Aviv on August 31 is already causing waves, with the usual suspects calling on the rock provocateur to cancel, like earlier moves by Elvis Costello and the Pixies, among others.

But the protesters didn’t take into account Lydon’s contrary personality – after all he used to be a punk. Speaking this week to BBC’s Music 6 program, Lydon said that instead of boycotting Israel, he’s planning on creating his own brand of anarchy in the UK during his visit here.

“Of course, there are all sorts of terrible politics going on down there but there is just about all over the world,” Lydon said. “You cannot separate yourself from your audience because of the political powers-that-be. I mean, I’m anti-government—I have been all my life no matter where I go—and I shall be making that loud and clearly proud once I’m in Israel.”

Lydon dismissed calls for him to stay away, saying that his presence in Israel will be his own form of protest.

“We’ve received a lot of hate mail, as it happens, [That] going to Israel is some kind of political faux pas. I say, ‘Don’t be so ignorant – it’s John speaking here and I’m going there to cause trouble and I will do it musically.’”

4:45PM: Some people just won’t let a rape get in the way of demonizing Israel.

The story of the Palestinian popular protest against Israel in several West Bank villages has recently garnered worldwide praise. However, as with any other massive movement, the popular protest too has its darker sides. The Palestinian Authority, as well as the leaders of the Palestinian popular protests in villages such as Bil’in, Na’alim, Umm Salmuna, have been trying to keep the following story away from both public knowledge and the media’s eye: One of the more prominent Umm Salmuna activists – a village south of Bethlehem, long entrenched in a battle against the West Bank separation fence – is suspected of the attempted rape of an American peace activist who had been residing in the village as part of her support of the local protest.

Omar Aladdin, who had been arrested three months ago over suspicions he had attempted to rape the U.S. citizen, was subsequently released after agreeing to apologize to the young woman. However, Haaretz had learned that representatives of both the popular protest movement and the PA have since applied pressure on the American peace activist as to prevent her from making the story public.

The incident allegedly took place last April, as Aladdin, who had served a term in the Israeli jail in the past, arrived one evening at the guest house in which many of the foreign peace activists were staying. The European and American female activists reportedly agreed to let Aladdin stay with them after he had told them he feared the Israel Defense Forces were on his tail, adding that he had been severely beaten at an IDF checkpoint only a week before.

During his stay Aladdin allegedly attempted to rape a Muslim-American woman, nicknamed “Fegin” by fellow activists. The woman escaped, later accusing the popular protest man of the attempt. One villager who had encountered the American following the incident said she had been in a state of shock.

Aladdin then refused to apologize for the incident, when news of it reached the village’s popular committee, the popular protests’ governing body, allegedly saying that the incident had been marginal and normal. The American activist then asked the committee to notify authorities of the attempted rape, a request which resulted in the man being arrested by security forces in Bethlehem. After agreeing to apologize for the incident, Aladdin was released from custody by the PA police.

The U.S. citizen was then convinced to retract her complaint, as to avoid tainting the image of the popular protest, which had attracted praise from around the world in recent months.

However, the Umm Salmuna case is not the only one. Separation fence activists know of other incidents in which Palestinians molested and sexually assaulted foreign peace activists, a subject which was apparently raised in the discussions of the various popular committees.

Foreign female peace activists regularly participate in protests in the villages of Bil’in, Na’alin, and others, where the activists stay in separate houses. Some villagers do not agree with these housing arrangements, claiming that the villages’ youth, who frequently visit the activists, are corrupted by the young women.

One villager said the female activists bring a different “culture with them, western, too open. The young people, especially from the villages, aren’t used to stay near other girls, they do not know their culture, certainly when it’s a young woman staying with other women in a strange house. They misinterpret it.”

Mahmoud Zwahara, the popular committee’s coordinator for the Umm Salmuna and Ma’sara region, said in response that “the struggle against the separation fence is a joint fight, which does not target Israeli identity or Jews. We hope that our activity will show the Israeli soldiers that they must cease their actions against us as well as human rights violations.”

4:25PM: Goget Stuffedikos.

4:06PM: And now a report the ship is heading towards el-Arish.

2:52PM: The Gaza Strip Civilian Activities and Humanitarian Aid Report for June 2010 (via IDF Spox).

1:50PM: Tragedy in the US, with 4 Israelis killed in a light airplane crash.

Four Israelis were killed early Wednesday morning in Michigan following a light aircraft crash.  A fifth passenger survived and was taken to a local hospital suffering from burns.

According to early reports from the scene, the victims were 73 year-old Moshe Menora, a US citizen and three of his visiting granddaughters: Rachel and Rivka Menora aged 15 and 17, and Sarah Klein, also aged 17.

Thirteen year-old Nathaniel Joseph Menora survived the crash, and according to his brother Yehuda Menora who spoke to Army Radio Wednesday morning, is currently conscious.

The passengers were said to have boarded the small plane on Tuesday afternoon US time, and the plane reportedly crashed into a barrier and burst into flames during take-off, before reaching the end of the runway. Nathaniel Joseph Menora was able to jump out of the plane just prior to the explosion.

It was not yet known what caused the crash, which is currently under local investigation.

ZAKA volunteers were making their way to the scene of the accident to assist with the identification and transportation of the deceased

The Menora family live in the same city as me (actually, the same neighborhood). Please keep Netanel Yosef ben Simcha Sima, who has burns on 50% of his body, in your prayers.

11:08AM: Ma’an News reports that the Libyan ship is sailing towards Gaza.

A Libyan-sponsored aid boat reported as stalled in international waters is “slowly sailing toward Gaza,” independent Gaza MP Jamal Al-Khoudary said Wednesday.

A statement issued by the MP, who also heads the Popular Committee Against the Siege, said the Libyan boat, which was reported as static earlier, is continuing for Gaza “despite being besieged by the Israeli navy, jamming its communication.”

“The ship is only 50 kilometers from the Gaza shore but the Israeli Navy is demanding that it travel to any port other than Gaza,” and said the navy is solely responsible for the lives of those on board.

Earlier, a military source told Ma’an the aid boat, whose captain changed course for Egypt on Tuesday evening, was stopped in international waters.

“It is 88 km from Egypt and 128 km from Gaza in international waters. We are observing,” the Israeli spokeswoman told the Israeli daily Haaretz. “From what I understand, it is stationary.”

Reports surfaced earlier Wednesday that the ship was stalled as a result of “technical difficulties,” according to Reuters.

Al-Khoudary added that the charity sponsoring the ship, the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Association, aimed to convey two messages “the first is humanitarian and to do deliver aid. The second is political in order to break the siege. It does not want any confrontation because it is a peaceful and civil ship.”

An Israeli military spokesman told Ma’an that the navy was “prepared to stop [the boat] in the case that it insists on continuing to Gaza. The navy has communicated with the ship for questioning and identification purposes.”

Earlier Tuesday, Egypt said the Hope’s captain had requested permission to dock in its Al-Arish port, while mission organizers insisted the ship would hold course to Gaza.

However, according to Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, the Israeli army reported that the boat began moving toward Egypt.

10:56AM: Meet the Chinese Jew who came home.

9:42AM: Queen Rania of Jordan has turned down several offers to publish a Hebrew version of a children’s book she recently wrote.

During a promotional campaign for the book, the queen described it as the story of two girls who let the food they bring to school get in the way of their friendship. They disparage each other’s food based on their own cultural preconceptions. The two main characters, Lily and Salma, have a lot in common, but not when it comes to their sandwiches: Lily prefers the all-American peanut butter and jelly, while Salma sticks to pita and hummus.

The two learn how to maintain their friendship, despite their cultural differences, but not without a food fight at school in which their classmates take sides. The confrontation ends, however, with a party at which the children exchange sandwiches. The book’s message touches open such issues as getting to know others, openness and multiculturalism.

Glad to see the Queen walking the walk.

Peace!

8:24AM: Yet another conflicting report that early this morning, four Israeli Navy ships surrounded and stopped the Libyan ship and sent it to Egypt, since it was headed to Gaza after all.

If this is true, perhaps that is why the ship’s GPS tracking was turned off?

8:18AM: The captain of the Amalthea has confirmed the vessel is not going anywhere for the time being because it is undergoing repairs for a supposed broken engine.

6:20AM: According to this site (warning: of an anti-Israel nature), the Amalthea is still on it’s way to el Arish, sailing at the slow rate of 1.4 knots.

Tags:

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

Help Keep This Important Work Going