The Day In Israel: Thursday July 22nd, 2010

Israel yesterday launched a diplomatic effort to keep the latest planned flotilla from sailing from Lebanon to Gaza.

The Foreign Ministry instructed Israeli ambassadors to ask senior officials in the United States, United Nations, European Union and Egypt to pressure Syria and Lebanon to stop the flotilla, which Israel deems a “provocation” in light of its recent decision to end its civilian blockade of Gaza.

Syria has been included because senior Israeli officials say it is helping to organize the flotilla. Hezbollah is also involved, they charged.

“This is a clear and organized provocation,” one official said.

Officially, the flotilla is being organized by Palestinian businessman Yasser Kashlak, who last month tried and failed to organize another flotilla from Lebanon. The two ships are slated to sail from Tripoli by the end of this week.

Israel’s message to international diplomats is that it views this flotilla particularly gravely because it is sailing from the port of an enemy country.

Meanwhile, in other flotilla news:

Audacity of HopeA group of Americans opposed to Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is raising money online to pay for a ship from the United States to take part in a new protest flotilla scheduled to set sail for the Palestinian territory in September or October.

In an appeal for money posted on the Web site, the activists say they are “planning to launch a U.S. boat to Gaza, joining a flotilla of ships from Europe, Canada, India, South Africa and parts of the Middle East.”

They add that the American ship will be named after President Barack Obama’s second book:

We turn to you to help make the U.S. boat, The Audacity of Hope, a reality. We must raise at least $370,000 in the next month. These funds will be used to purchase a boat large enough for 40-60 people, secure a crew, and cover the licensing and registering of the boat. In addition, the funds will subsidize some other costs of sending a U.S. delegation. […]Meanwhile, American activists are trying to raise funds for their own ship to Gaza, which they plan to call “The Audacity of Hope,” after U.S. President Barack Obama’s best-selling memoir.

$370,000? That’s a lot of change for Hope (hat tip: juvanya).

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

9:45PM: And yet another installment in my Taste of a “Concentration Camp” Gaza series: Roots Club.

9:28PM: Looks like the soldier may have gone AWOL.

6:26PM: Worrying signs with an elite soldier failing to return from an elite solo training course this morning.

IDF and police forces sought a missing soldier after he failed to return from an elite solo training course in the Haruvit forest Thursday morning.

When one of the soldiers failed to return by the 5:00 a.m. deadline, the IDF immediately began a search with the aid of a helicopter.

Contact with the soldier was lost during the night, making it unlikely that he was dehydrated. The unit was training in the Haruvit Forest near Beit Shemesh, Kfar Menachem, and Gefen.

IDF representatives are keeping the soldier’s family informed, and the Israeli Police have asked for the public’s help in locating the missing soldier.

Two years ago a soldier from the elite unit Sayeret Matkal, Tamir Naboani, was killed during a solo navigation exercise after falling off a 15-meter cliff. Solo navigation is part of the training of elite infantry units.

The soldier has been described as being 1.75 centimeters tall, with a thin frame and a long face. He was last seen wearing a desert uniform and brown shoes. Anyone who has seen the soldier is asked to contact police at 100 or the Kiryat Malachi police station at 08-860-8444.

6:20PM: Pop star Seal gets Israelis.

3:42PM: Useful idiot of the day:

Saegan ISM

In this photo taken on June 20, 2010, Israeli soldiers scuffle with international peace activists, among them a 23-year-old American calling herself Saegan, center, from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), during a protest against Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank village of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem. The stream of ships heading to Gaza in defiance of Israel's blockade reflects the success of ISM, a radical pro-Palestinian group that's been creatively confronting Israel for years. High on victory, they are flush with new volunteers. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)

Incidentally, the same ISM terror enabler is mentioned in this story, along with an interesting fact.

One ISM veteran — a 23-year-old American calling herself Saegan — highlights an activist’s life. Like other volunteers, she would only identity herself with a pseudonym. During her 6 months with the group, she has been battered by tear gas alongside Palestinians, but also fended off a Palestinian man who tried to rape her while she slept in a West Bank village.

3:28PM: 1970s disco group Boney M were reportedly asked by palestinian concert organizersto skip their hit song “Rivers of Babylon,” since the song’s chorus quotes from the Book of Psalms, referring to the exiled Jewish people’s yearning to return to the land of Israel.

Williams said she did not know if it was “a political thing or what, but they asked us not to do it and we were a bit disappointed.”

She doesn’t know if it was a “political thing”?!

12:15PM: Five suspected spies for Israel, including a senior reserves officer in the Lebanese army and four technicians from the Alfa cellular company, have reportedly fled Lebanon.

Better out than in.

10:28AM: What do Rafael Nadal and Iker Casillas have in common?

If you said they are both Spanish sport stars, you are correct.

If you said they are both numbskulls, you might just have been awarded a bonus point.

The European campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, which organized the aid flotilla that turned into a lethal incident  with international repercussions, is trying to create hype around “Freedom Flotilla 2”, scheduled to set sail in September.

According to a report in the London-based al-Hayat newspaper on Thursday the organization is in talks with a number of world famous soccer players in hopes of having them take part in the sail.

According to Thursday’s report, the organization said it is in contact with French and Spanish soccer players, including captain of the 2010 FIFA World Cup winner Spanish goalie Iker Casillas.

While his name was mentioned, the statement said talks were being kept quiet for fear that the players or their clubs may come under Israeli pressure. It was unclear which players would agree to leave their teams in September, after the soccer season begins.

While Casillas led his teammates to the welcoming ceremony in the Spanish capital, the paper cites websites that reported the captain said he would not take part in the celebrations in Madrid’s central square as an expression of his “deep sorrow over what happened in Gaza”.

According to the reports, Casillas said, “It’s unthinkable that people take part (in the celebrations) and laugh after seeing what is going on in the Gaza Strip.”

He allegedly emphasized that the Spanish celebrations surrounding the World Cup victory are “partial, as long as the Gaza Strip remains besieged.”

Al-Hayat also named the world’s number 1 tennis player, Spain’s Rafael Nadal, as a potential flotilla passenger, saying he also condemned “Israel’s aggression against the Gaza Strip” during Operation Cast Lead.

I wonder if this will affect this man’s opinion.

8:55AM: The latest in my Taste of a “Concentration Camp” Gaza series: The Commodore Hotel.


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

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