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The Day In Israel: Tuesday Aug 17th, 2010

The White House has denied press reports that President Barack Obama warned Turkey it may be stuffed if it continues with it hostile stance towards Israel, threatening to scrap a huge arms deal if they didn’t tone things down.

Earlier Monday the Financial Times reported that U.S. President Barack Obama had warned the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that strained ties with Israel and increasing support of Iran could hinder Washington’s plan to ship arms, including sophisticated drones, to Turkey.

But the White House has rejected the claims.

“I really don’t know where they would have divined that from,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters.

“The President and Erdogan did speak about 10 days ago and they talked about Iran and the flotilla and other issues related to that. But we obviously have an ongoing dialogue with them. But no such ultimatum was issued. There’s no ultimatum,” he said.

Burton’s comments apparently contradict those of a senior Obama administration official quoted by the FT.

“The president has said to [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan that some of the actions that Turkey has taken have caused questions to be raised on the Hill [Congress] .?.?.?about whether we can have confidence in Turkey as an ally,” the Londion paper quoted the official as saying.

I’m not sure if I believe the denial. Judging by looks, I’d say Obama is not happy with Turkey. (I’ve seen that look before).

obama erdogan
obama netanyahu

Wow, the biggest controversy regarding the White House and Turkey since this.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

11:42PM: As expected, the Arabs are seething over the infamous Facebook photos.

Arab media outlets expressed outrage Tuesday over at the publication of controversial Facebook photos showing an IDF female soldier posing next to cuffed and blindfolded Palestinians.

Al-Jazeera said the soldier, Eden Abergil, “intentionally degraded the detainees on Facebook,” while the Syrian press condemned “the sadist culture of the occupation army.”

A Palestinian lawyer from east Jerusalem told Al-Arabiya network that he planned to appeal to human rights organizations abroad and demand an international investigation into the photos.

“I wonder how it is that the soldier’s Facebook page was open for a month on a social networking site boasting 500 million users, yet the Israeli army never knew about it,” he said, asking to remain anonymous.

The Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel also said it would demand a probe.

“The pictures are disgusting,” said one of the center’s attorneys, Hanin Noema. “These pictures are immoral, inhuman, and illegal. The Israeli army is a type of school for soldiers of this sort.”

Many Arab press agencies also quoted the Palestinian Authority’s response to the photos.

“These are degrading pictures highlight the mentality of the occupation, which boasts about belittling Palestinians,” President Mahmoud Abbas’ government was quoted as saying.

Syrian websites also carried the photos, under the heading: “An expression of the sadist culture of the occupation army: An Israeli soldier takes pleasure in the torture of Palestinians on Facebook.”

The Lebanese As-Safir reported, “The derision and oppression of Palestinians has become new show-off material by occupation soldiers social networking sites.”

That’s all well and good, but here are some photos I don’t recall eliciting condemnation from the Arabs.

ramallah lynch

palestinian mock Shalit

11:15PM: The standoff at the Turkish embassy ended hours ago, with the palestinian gunman being lightly wounded by embassy staff. It was discovered the gun he was in possession of was plastic.

Contradictory reports emerged regarding his identify and background.

One of the men’s associates told Israel Radio that the suspect feared he was being pursued Israeli and Palestinian intelligence services because, he believes, he has information that could “bring down several senior Palestinian Authority officials.”

Channel 2 first claimed Injaz was a former collaborator with Israel from Ramallah, who had been pressured by the Shin Bet into trying to kill Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti. Since he refused to do so, he claimed, the Shin Bet has been seeking his demise. Recently, it left him at a West Bank crossing point, but he refused to cross into PA-controlled territory, fearing he would be killed there.

But Channel 2 later said the suspect’s claims regarding Barghouti and the Shin Bet were baseless.

The media outlet played what it said was a recording of him telephoning its reporter earlier Thursday from inside the Turkish embassy, where he had gone to seek asylum. He said in the call that he had taken two people hostage and threatened to blow up the embassy, claiming he had explosives with him.

Sounding emotionally unstable, he denounced “the murderous Jews,” the “murderous Abu Mazen,” and other corrupt Palestinian leaders who he said were stealing money from the Palestinian people, and urged Turkey to save him.

Injaz, broke into the British embassy in a similar incident four years ago, saying he was a former Israeli informant who had been abandoned by the Israeli handlers, and threatened to shoot himself if he was not given asylum in a European country.

8:10PM: JPost reports:

Further details about the Palestinian man who barricaded himself in the Turkish embassy were made available by a lawyer he has contacted on Tuesday, Israel Radio reported.

According to the Palestinian man’ lawyer, who has kept in contact with the suspect by cellphone while he is in the embassy, the man is armed with a pistol and a knife. He claims that he is being pursued by the Israeli and Palestinian intelligence services because he has information that could “bring down several senior Palestinian Authority officials.”

The man has demanded safe passage to Ankara, Turkey and has not been injured, his lawyer said.

According to earlier reports, a Palestinian man was hit by gunfire after entering the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

Tel Aviv police and ambulance have not been allowed to enter the embassy building to treat the man or determine the what occurred during the shooting.

Police believed that the man is mentally ill and that he was shot in the legs and is not in critical condition, according to an Israel Radio report

7:38PM: More details come to light:

Shots were heard Tuesday night at the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv, with local media reporting that a Palestinian from the West Bank city of Ramallah had barricaded himself in an office inside the embassy, with two hostages, and was threatening to kill any Jews who entered.

Police and emergency medical personnel have arrived at the scene. Traffic along the Yarkon Street, where the embassy resides, has been blocked. However, embassy staff have barred police and medical personnel from entering the building.

7:25PM: According to JPost, a palestinian man removed all his clothes on Yarkon Street near the Turkish embassy when he was shot by an “unknown individual.”

No word yet on why he stripped, nor why he was shot.

7:22PM: BREAKING NEWS: At least one person has sustained gunshot wounds at the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv. As Ynet reports:

An official police statement said one person was shot at the site, while another incident may still be taking place inside the embassy walls. Large police forces were deployed at the scene and are waiting outside the embassy, as diplomatic protocol prevents them from going in.

According to initial reports from the shooting scene, a naked man arrived at the embassy and was shot.

According to earlier reports, police forces sealed off the area and were holding up traffic on HaYarkon Street, where the embassy is located.

7:18PM: Tim Marshall of Sky News hits the nail on the head with this piece about the Israeli woman who posted the tasteless photos on Facebook, and attempts to compare it to Abu Ghraib.

A thick Israeli girl publishes her photographs of herself making fun of Palestinians who have been arrested and fails to see what is wrong with so doing. What does this signify? That a thick Israeli girl has published her photographs and shown the world her cruelty. Anything else? Well, you could make a decent argument that the snaps are emblematic of a generation which has not been educated in empathy for ‘the other’. You could even go as far as to argue that they are part of a body of evidence of the routine humiliation of the Palestinian people. But to jump from there to Abu Ghraib?

Abu Ghraib: Systematic, long-term torture and humiliation encouraged at a high level, involving officers, hundreds of photographs, a dark place utterly out of bounds to the media, mostly hidden from the human rights groups, which, when uncovered, sparks a fierce debate in the USA with a significant minority of people arguing that ‘it ain’t that bad’.

Israel: One girl, Eden Abergil, on one occasion, gurning in front of detainees, which when uncovered, horrifies popular opinion in her country where she is now ridiculed as ‘one hell of an idiot’.

Of course she has her supporters, but overwhelmingly people are disgusted at her stupidity. Many feared the backlash, saying: ‘We’re about to be Abu Ghraibed’.

There are indeed other photos around of IDF soldiers behaving in an appalling manner, and the Israeli media is busy publishing them as fast as they can get hold of them, but there are photos and video of just about every army in the world, including the British, where soldiers behave in a way they shouldn’t – and they are not always taken as being symbolic of a corrupt nation.

This blog does not argue that there is no abuse of Palestinians, there is and over the next week there will be a flurry of photos emerging to prove just that. What happens inside some of the prisons where Palestinians are held without trial needs further investigation. All this is valid, but to compare Abergil to Abu Ghraib, and to elevate it to a global story is just plain sloppy thinking, or worse, selective outrage.

Where were the howls of anger and condemnation of a nation when the footage emerged last week of Indonesian soldiers taunting a Papuan man they had just bayoneted in the stomach? As Yawen Wyeni lies dying he says ‘Freedom! Papua…’ The response of the solders is not to offer him medical aid, but to call him a savage and say ‘What? Speak up… you are never going to get freedom’. I don’t know if this video is symbolic of the systematic persecution of the Papuan people, or the actions of a renegade unit. The 10,000 dead Papuans suggest the former, but the point is that this video was not held up to the world, nor viewed as evidence either way. It was ignored because people select on whose behalf they are morally outraged.

Another example is lack of coverage of the systematic persecution of Palestinians across the Arab world. This week the Lebanese parliament finally passed a law allowing Palestinians to apply for any job they want. Until now the 400,000 refugees could only work in menial positions. There has been little coverage of this apartheid system over the decades. The the list goes on and on. The Abergil story is legitimate to cover and to debate, but we need to distinguish between Abergil and Abu Ghraib. If you doubt it, click here.

5:25PM: An Egyptian scientist describes his summer in Israel.

To go or not to go

In 2008, I was invited to spend a summer conducting neuroscience research at both the Hebrew University (Jerusalem) and Al Quds Palestinian University (East Jerusalem /West Bank).

As an Egyptian, I had grown up very cautious about interacting with Israelis; it had never occurred to me to visit Israel. Many other Egyptians and probably many people in other Arab states feel the same way.

Some of my friends in Egypt advised me not to embark on such an “unethical” trip. For many in Egypt, setting foot in Israel is unthinkable, regardless of the purpose of the visit. But the Palestinian professors whom I consulted did not voice such criticism; they encouraged me to visit Israel. My friends in the United States did not make such criticisms either, and I realized that many Americans and Europeans who visit Israel hold different views on Israeli politics, yet they discuss their opinions openly with Israelis.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that regardless of the views my friends and I might have about Israeli politics, the opportunity to gain scientific experience at a good research institution was a separate issue, and nearly at the deadline for making the decision, I decided to accept the invitation to visit Israel.

Time in Israel

As I landed in Israel and went through Israeli customs and security, I had a few a worrisome moments. But my three months in Israel were scientifically enriching and socially rewarding. I spent most of my time at the Hebrew and Al Quds Universities, but I also occasionally visited Haifa University. Both the city and the university in Haifa have large Jewish and Arab populations, and the two groups mix more often than in Jerusalem.

In the very beginning, the Hebrew University kindly helped me obtain a visa for my visit. At the Hebrew University, I learned some scientific techniques on animal models of Parkinson’s disease with the generous help of Dr. Boris Rosin. Professors at the Hebrew University were very enthusiastic to have me as a colleague. I still consult with them on many open questions and research projects in the Parkinson’s disease field, in which the neuroscientists at the Hebrew University play a key international role.

My social life in Israel and the West Bank was also rewarding and educational. I visited many parts of Israel with my Arab neighbors in Jerusalem, many of whom were students at the Hebrew University. I was also repeatedly invited to professors’ homes for shabbat dinner and social gatherings, and I was always warmly welcomed. At many of these occasions, I felt more welcomed than people visiting from European countries, perhaps because of my Egyptian background. Among Israeli and Palestinian students, I often found myself discussing political issues, including the role of Anwar Sadat ?n the peace process, the Palestinian refugee problem, Jews from Arab lands, and others. I found that Israelis’ stands on political issues were not at all homogenous.


Israeli universities produce scientific research comparable to that seen in Western countries. Israeli science institutions are constantly expanding. For example, the Hebrew University is currently building a new multi-million-dollar brain science research center, and plan to recruit top-notch scientists from around the globe. World-class scientists from Italy, the United States, Germany, Canada, Japan, and many other countries are constantly visiting and lecturing at Israeli universities. Israel holds many annual science meetings that researchers from various countries attend. Students from many European countries conduct their graduate work in Israel. Many Israeli universities have shown advancement in fields ranging from biomedical research to agriculture to engineering.

It is sad that neighboring countries do not participate in these activities. There is no doubt that Israeli science institutions and Israeli researchers would welcome having Arab researchers visit and collaborate with them. It is an overall a win-win game for both sides, if not more beneficial for Arab researchers. Arab countries need more scientific interaction with the outside world, including Israel.

After gaining science and research experience at world-class Israeli universities, Arab researchers could definitely be great assets to their home countries.

It is also beneficial to invite Israeli scientists and researchers to attend conferences and to lecture in Arab countries. Israeli scientists are frequently invited to lecture at large universit?es ?n Europe and the United States; and even, in recognition of their scientific achievements, to give keynote lectures at annual conferences. Israeli scientists do, however, face difficulties attending conferences in Arab states. Should not we benefit from these minds as well? The Israeli experiment in science advancement is a good example for neighboring nations to follow, given the geographical and environmental similarities.

While in Israel, I repeatedly visited the West Bank and many Arab towns in northern Israel, and they were all equally welcoming and happy with my visit. Many students and professors at Al Quds University also welcomed me as a colleague, and with them, I visited Bethlehem, Ramallah, and other Palestinian towns. Almost every Palestinian I met instantly recognized my Egyptian background once I said a word in Arabic. This is because many Palestinians, and other Arabs, have grown up watching Egyptian movies, and are very familiar with the Egyptian Arabic dialect. These were pleasing moments.

Al Quds University in the West Bank has many collaborative scientific projects with Hebrew University, although in recent years, collaboration has not been as strong. I visited a few laboratories at Al Quds University. For example, Dr. Mukhles Sowwan, a Palestinian from Jerusalem, obtained his doctorate from the Hebrew University, under the supervision of an Israeli professor, and returned to the West Bank to start a top-notch nanotechnology laboratory at Al Quds University. Dr. Sowwan’s lab is enviable by many standards, and one cannot help but hope that other scientists in the Arab world follow Dr. Sowwan’s example. Why should not Arabs learn at Israeli universities? Like Dr. Sowwan, why should not Arabs get mentored by Israeli professors and go on to become independent investigators making their own contributions to the global scientific enterprise?

For many in the Arab world, the word Israel elicits political thoughts only. However, it is important to appreciate Israel’s advanced science infrastructure and to recognize that, whatever one’s political views, scientific collaboration with Israel is not only possible but also potentially beneficial for Egypt and other Arab countries.

4:55PM: Gaza flotilla guerilla Ken O’Keefe is incensed over the BBC Panorama program’s treatment of the Gaza flotilla raid (see 11:00AM update).

In his latest blog post (yes, he apparently blogs when he’s not beating up people), he goes on the attack (metaphorical, instead of physical this time), accusing the BBC of propaganda while bragging about beating up IDF commandos. He also claims he agreed to do the interview in a bid to expose the BBC’s bias in the first place, and suggests IDF commandos created their own gunshot wounds.

It’s one big bowl of crazy.

If you haven’t seen it, look for BBC Panorama’s “Death in the Med” program online, you will be treated to first class propaganda as only the BBC can deliver.

I am one of the passengers/witnesses interviewed for this program and I am very much aware of BBC’s role in justifying war and covering up Israeli crimes.  I am in no way naive about this; to the contrary my motivation for the interview lay largely in the all too likely opportunity to expose the BBC.  A relevant job considering the BBC’s role in the slaughter of over one million Iraqi’s, a direct role by virtue of the war they justified.  BBC from start to present, justifying Iraq, a massive war crime and crime against humanity based entirely on lies (propagated intensely by the BBC).  The British Broadcasting Corporation, synonymous with millions of orphans and refugees and countless lives destroyed in Iraq, beating the drums of war without pause, the ultimate prostitutes of propaganda.

With this understanding I solicited an agreement with the BBC producers, in return for my interview the program would include the fact that we disarmed, captured and ultimately released three Israeli commandos (after giving them medical attention no less).  That was the deal, a deal I made with an audio recorder in service.!/video/video.php?v=1440199638883

And yes the poor Israeli commandos were beaten, just as any invader in any capable persons home would be beaten.  I take no issue with that fact.

But truth be told, the commandos we captured should thank us for their lives.  I ask the Israeli’s, British and American people specifically, if your home was invaded, your family being murdered, would you be willing to disarm, completely control, and then set a murderer of your family free???

You can lie to yourself if you like, bury that head right down deep in the sand, but that ship was our home, and we were all brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles, united, a family, engaged in a most righteous cause, with the vast majority of the planet behind us.  The primary beneficiary of our mission, over 800,000 innocent children.

For those lost in a pit of ignorance and indoctrination, those currently stripped of all reason, absent of conscience, duped and hoodwinked, I know you very well because I was once you, a US Marine robot volunteering to kill or be killed.  I see my past self in the Zionist who has no capacity at this moment to think, for in that state it is all about regurgitation, independent thought is but a possibility.  For you I maintain no hate, for nobody actually, rather it is pity, pity for you that you sacrifice the greatest gift of all, the gift of humanity.

And so it is that the BBC, absent of integrity, contemptuous of humanity, attempts in this program to turn disarmed, helpless Israeli commandos into heroic self-rescuing commandos who managed to Superman their way out of a circle of well over 100 very motivated men whose brothers lay murdered with multiple gunshot wounds.  That is what we call a bald-faced lie.  Big time lie, in your face lie, you in the audience are a bunch of drooling idiots lie.

Returning from the Zionist alternate universe, we held in our power the fate of three boy commandos who may well have been murderers on that night.  Think about that, under these circumstances, we let them go.  That is what we call preserving life.

It is not that BBC does not know the truth, there are literally hundreds of witnesses and overflowing facts to reveal it; it is simply BBC’s slavish duty to produce a Zionist storyline of illusions and deceptions.  And the story goes that we are the aggressors, “terrorists”, “extremists” and killers.  Only in this context can the poor Israeli commandos be victims.  How is it possible to dominate and control commandos simply to let them go if we are killers?  Answer, it isn’t.  And that is precisely why Panorama blatantly lied.

Ah but the irony, the kind of irony that always provides me a smile from the inside out, the irony of these lies being big, beautiful gifts.  In all sincerity, thank you BBC.

The BBC says there is doubt as to who fired first.  There is no doubt at all who shot who and when to the hundreds of us on the Mavi Marmara and other ships.  The Israelis have said we shot at them, well where are their gunshot wounds?  And even if you have gunshot wounds, how do we know you did not shoot yourselves? Exactly like you did in “Operation Cast Lead”?

Returning once again from the Zionist alternate universe, the Israeli military attacked in international waters and murdered within the first five minutes of the attack.  The attack resulting in scores of gunshot wounds and death in rapid succession. Blood spilling all over the ship.  In that environment I took possession of a 9mm pistol that I removed from one of the commandos… and I emptied it of the (real) bullets.  Other weapons were seized by other brothers and thrown into the sea, one of which was an assault rifle.  Yet when others and myself had the power to end life, and believe me it was as simple as release the safety, point, shoot, over.  Instead we preserved life, by taking those weapons away from established killers, we prevented them from killing more.  We literally saved our lives and their lives.  That is what we call cold, hard facts.

We could have taken out at least three of them, but we did not.  Nope, we let them go.

The BBC mentions that we were in international waters at the very end of the story, as if this were an insignificant fact.  The fact that Israel stole all the footage that it could, footage that undoubtedly shows them firing 4 bullets to the head of the 19-year-old American passenger, Furkan Dogan.  No problem.  Executing people at close range, no worries.  The fact that the blockade itself is illegal, nah, don’t mention that.  800,000 plus children in Gaza, malnourished, anemic, traumatised… not important.

I would need to review this program many times over to identify every poisoned tactic that the BBC employed in order to do what they do so well, justify murder and war.

Nevertheless BBC’s perversion of the truth will elevate the cause of justice immensely, delegitimizing itself in such grand fashion was indeed a great big gift.

Hats off to ya BBC!

(Hat tip: Double Tapper)

1:10PM: Notice anything strange about this Al Jazeera report on Gaza airport scavengers?

Clue: Watch from 0:42-0:48, making sure to look at the background as Ms Johnston speaks.

12:58PM: Capt. Barak Raz of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit does not mince any words while responding to the Facebook photos.

11:00AM: Bring out the flying pig, because the BBC treatment of the Mavi Marmara raid is actually rather decent.

This is reflected by many of the seething comments seen here.

10:55AM: No doubt you have already read about the Israeli who posted pictures on her Facebook page of her posing with bound and blindfolded palestinians during her army service. After all, it has made the world news.

Irregardless of her claim that “we always treated the Palestinians well, we always provided them with food and drink and would laugh with them. We never cursed, spat on or touched them”, her posing in such photos, uploading them and making light of the situation in the comments is disgraceful.

Despite the IDF’s prompt condemnation of her behavior, she has done much harm to the IDF’s image, and the palestinians are exploiting it:

“This shows the mentality of the occupier, to be proud of humiliating Palestinians. There is nothing in the world that can justify [this] humiliation that is part of the Israeli occupation practices on [a] daily basis,” the PA’s Government Media Center said in a statement.

“Occupation is unjust, immoral and, as these pictures show, corrupting. It should end and Palestinian rights and dignity be respected. We call upon all human rights defenders to make all efforts to end the Israeli occupation and close this dark era for humanity,” the statement added.

Incidents like this are few and far between, and when they do occur, you hear condemnation from all spectrum of Israeli society, irregardless of level of religious observance and political affiliation. I posit that it is palestinian society that is unjust, immoral. They tolerate morally reprehensible behavior as the norm, whether it be the constant incitement and acts of violence, or the capture of Gilad Shalit. I don’t hear anyone from their side speaking out against these things.

Soccer Dad makes a good point:

So while the PA systematically influences its citizens to hate Israel, the New York Times doesn’t care one whit about the PA’s soul. But when a single Israeli misbehaves it becomes a reasons for the Times to break out its tag team to comment “more in sorrow than in anger” about the corruption of Israeli society.


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About the author

Picture of David Lange

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
Picture of David Lange

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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