Friday, July 1, 2011

Radical Flotilla Roster Portends Another Violent Clash

by IPT News

A flotilla is determined to sail to the Gaza Strip this weekend in breach of Israel's naval blockade on the Hamas-controlled territory. This decision comes in spite of growing international pressure to stop the campaign, damaged ships and fewer passengers than expected.

The United Nations, United States, European Union, Britain, Canada, Greece, France, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and Israel have called on organizers of Freedom Flotilla II to abandon their plans in an effort to avoid a repeat of the violent confrontation between Israeli commandos and activists of the first Freedom Flotilla on May 31, 2010. That encounter claimed the lives of nine passengers and injured nine Israeli soldiers, causing international outcry and tensions between Turkey and Israel.

Last year's flotilla was comprised of six ships, organized by a coalition of international organizations, including the Islamist Turkish organization IHH. IHH has extensive ties to Hamas and is under consideration for designation by the U.S. State Department.

Leaders of the IHH-owned Mavi Marmara ship launched a premeditated attack on Israeli commandos last May when the Israeli Navy attempted to intercept the ship before it reached Gaza. Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara following repeated warnings, and were immediately attacked by activists wielding clubs, knives, axes, hammers and other weapons.

IHH was gearing up to participate in the second flotilla, but announced earlier this month that the Mavi Marmara would not sail. IHH leader Bulent Yildirim cited "technical problems" as the reason for withdrawing. Other sources say pressure on Turkey from the United States government led to IHH's decision. Although IHH is no longer officially involved, some of its members plan to sail on other ships.

The Israeli Navy is preparing for various scenarios, including the possibility of "extreme violence" from flotilla participants.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed Monday that some flotilla participants said their intentions are to "murder" and "spill the blood" of IDF soldiers. Others have prepared sacks of sulfur, which according to the IDF, is a chemical that can be used to paralyze and burn a victim to death.

Israeli officials said Tuesday that radical Islamist activists were intermingling with nonviolent passengers, which creates "special operational challenges for the IDF." Senior Israeli officials have also identified two activists with known ties to Hamas who will participate in the flotilla.

Intelligence received by Israel late Monday further suggests that extremists will be among passengers on the U.S.-flagged ship in the flotilla. The U.S. ship, The Audacity of Hope, plans to sail with close to 50 U.S. citizens, including media personnel, in defiance of repeated calls from the State Department to abort its plans.

Including the U.S. boat, Freedom Flotilla II will consist of up to 10 ships with close to 350 participants from at least fourteen countries, such as Canada, Britain, Spain, France, Germany, Sweden, Greece and Holland. The boats are leaving from various ports and plan to meet in the Libyan Gulf before proceeding to Gaza, according to a Greek organizer. Many of the boats, including the U.S. ship, are already docked in Greece, but have been blocked from sailing by Greek authorities.

Flotilla organizers are experiencing setbacks, as some ships may be declared unfit to sail. It is also possible that the Greek government will withhold a departure authorization, according to the Israeli news outlet Ynet. Organizers in Greece said Tuesday that their departure may be postponed until next week.

In the meantime, Israel is continuing talks with European leaders and American Senators to try to have the entire flotilla cancelled.

Organizers said in a statement Monday that their effort is not "simply about increasing humanitarian aid to Gaza. It is about freedom for Palestinians in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories."

But only two out of the ten boats in the upcoming flotilla are cargo ships carrying aid, raising questions about whether the flotilla has humanitarian motives at all. Last month, Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing with Gaza, increasing the flow of goods into the territory.

The opening of the Rafah crossing ended a four-year land blockade of Gaza jointly imposed by Egypt and Israel after Hamas' forceful takeover of the area in 2007. The blockade was intended to limit the access of rockets and other war materials into Gaza that could be used against Israeli civilians. Israel's naval blockade was not implemented until 2009 when Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in response to continued rocket fire from Gaza.

Israel has maintained corridors for the transfer of humanitarian aid and other goods into the region. In April, the deputy head of the Red Cross in Gaza, Mathilde Redmatn, confirmed the effectiveness of these routes when stating, "There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza."

Israeli Cabinet Ministers voted Monday in favor of an Israeli Navy plan to stop the flotilla from reaching Gaza. That same day, Israel and Egypt agreed flotilla ships could unload their cargo at the Egyptian El-Arish port. Cargo unloaded at either El-Arish or at the Israeli port of Ashdod will be inspected and transferred by land to Gaza. However, ships that attempt to reach Gaza will be stopped and participants arrested.

Flotilla Organizers' Radical Ties

The main organizers of this year's flotilla include the Free Gaza Movement (FGM), the European Campaign to end the Siege on Gaza (ECESG) and The International Committee to Break the Siege on Gaza (ICBSG). All these organizations also played leading roles in the first flotilla.

Founded in 2006 with the goal of breaking "the siege of Gaza," the Free Gaza Movement was created by senior members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), who continue to occupy leadership positions within FGM.

ISM is a radical world-wide network of anti-Israel activists "committed to resisting the Israeli apartheid in Palestine by using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles," and it "aims to support and strengthen the Palestinian popular resistance." According to a report from The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, ISM activists served as human shields for terrorist operatives and provided terrorists and their families with financial, logistical and moral support during the Second Intifada. Today, ISM volunteers are active in the Gaza Strip, hinder IDF counterterrorism operations and engage in anti-Israel protests worldwide in an effort to delegitimize Israel.

Huwaida Arraf, one of the founders of ISM and a leader of FGM, played an active role in organizing the upcoming flotilla and will sail on the U.S. boat. Arraf recently said that there would be no weapons aboard the ships, but activists are being trained to use "different tactics" in order "to keep the soldiers off our boat nonviolently."

In a 2002 article, Arraf and her husband, co-founder of ISM Adam Shaprio, wrote, "The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics – both nonviolent and violent." They also claimed that an act of non-violent resistance is "[n]o less of a jihad. This is no less noble than carrying out a suicide operation. And we are certain that if these men were killed during such an action, they would be considered shaheed Allah."

Other ISM and FGM activists are passengers on the U.S. boat, organized by a group called The U.S. Boat to Gaza. Greta Berlin, another founder of FGM and a passenger on the U.S.-flagged Audacity of Hope, helped FGM organize the first Freedom Flotilla. A long time anti-Israel activist, Berlin said in a July 2010 interview, "Israelis think everyone is a terrorist, because that's how they got their country originally." She added, "What right do they [Israel] have to collectively punish a population of 1.5 million Palestinians for resisting occupation and for voting in one of the fairest elections held in the Middle East?"

ECESG is a radical umbrella group of dozens of anti-Israel and pro-Hamas organizations in Europe. A founder and ECESG leader, Amin Abou Rashed, was previously a member of the Al-Aqsa Foundation in Holland, which was shut down by the Dutch government for financing terror. The Al Aqsa Foundation and all of its branches were designated as terrorist entities by the U.S. Treasury in 2003. Rashed, who was on the Mavi Marmara ship last May and plans to sail in the upcoming flotilla, has been called a top Hamas official in the Netherlands. A Dutch report called him the "brain" behind the flotilla, saying he allegedly organized the majority of the funding for the campaign.

Similarly, ICBSG is headed by former high ranking Hamas operative Mohammad Sawalha, who now resides in the UK. According to U.S. court documents, Sawalha instructed Hamas terrorists Muhammad Salah and Mohammed Abu Marzook on "Hamas-related activities" in the early 1990's. ICBSG has partnered with Viva Palestina, a UK group which has delivered millions of dollars to Hamas through land convoys to Gaza. Sawalha was instrumental in planning last year's Freedom Flotilla, and recently declared in an interview, "Now the Israelis have to understand that their policies and crimes will not make us turn away and go back. We will continue under any circumstances until we break the siege on Gaza."

Several reports indicate that a Jordanian ship with radical ties also plans to participate in the flotilla. The ship was purchased by the Jordanian Lifeline Committee (JLC), headed by Wael Sakka. Sakka is the former president of the Jordanian Engineers Association, a group connected to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Jordan. Sakka headed the Jordanian delegation on last year's Mavi Marmara ship, which included MB activists. JLC also participated in Viva Palestina convoys to Gaza. The Jordanian ship is expected to carry up to 200 people from Arab countries, including members of Islamic Movements.

Hamas leaders have repeatedly supported the efforts of the upcoming flotilla, calling for international protection of the ships. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh recently declared, "No doubt the occupation is preparing for a crime similar to the first, but this time it should not go without punishment." He added, "This time the flotilla must come to Gaza and we are ready to receive it."

Flotilla leaders' ties to Hamas and other radical groups indicate that the latest operation is not a humanitarian effort to support the Palestinians in Gaza. Rather, the flotilla aims to delegitimize the State of Israel, with some participants ready to confront the State violently.

IPT News The Investigative Project on Terrorism


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

How Islamic Absurdities Prove Islamic Violence

by Raymond Ibrahim

The other day I saw a video of a sheikh warning Muslims against disregarding Muhammad’s sunna, or the rules and customs the prophet prescribed for Muslims. To support his point, he read a hadith wherein Muhammad told Muslims: “When you wake up from sleep to pray, wash your hand before you put it in the ablution water, for you do not know where your hand has spent the night.”

Then the sheikh told about a man who, upon hearing Muhammad’s words, deridingly said, “What, am I not going to know where my own hand has been?!”

This man woke up to find his arm—from hand to elbow—shoved up his anus.

The moral of the story? It is dangerous to ignore Muhammad’s words. The sheikh stressed the authoritative source of this anecdote, Sharh Sahih Muslim, and read its closing warning: “Thus let the mortal fear Allah and not make light of the sunna—for see what happened to this man for rebelling and mocking the words of the prophet.”

There is a reason why Islam’s guardians—past and present—always threaten Muslims to take the sunna seriously: Muhammad has said any number of bizarre or perverse things that naturally provoke abhorrence, if not laughter.

Let us examine just one: the notion of adult breastfeeding, or rida’ al-kabir in Islam, which started when Muhammad commanded a woman to “breastfeed” a grown man. Because it is contained in a canonical hadith, today, nearly 1400 years later, top Muslim authorities still advocate this perverse practice. After all, to reject it or any other canonical hadith is to reject the sources and methodology of usul al-fiqh—in short, to reject Sharia.

Now, let us connect the dots to see how the bizarre in Islam demonstrates the violent.

Consider: If Muslims are still compelled to be true to things like “adult breastfeeding,” simply because 7th century Muhammad said so, is it not logical to accept that they embrace their prophet’s even better documented and unequivocal words concerning the infidel?

Look at it this way: the issue of adult breastfeeding is embarrassing for Muslims; far from providing them with any sort of advantage or benefits, it places them, especially their women, in a ludicrous position (indeed, it is ranked first in this list of “top ten bizarre or ridiculous fatwas“). So why is it still a relevant issue among Muslims? Because Muhammad once commanded it. Thus, like it or not, Muslims must somehow come to grips with it.

What, then, of Muhammad’s other commandments—commandments that, if upheld, far from embarrassing Muslims, provide them with power, wealth, and hedonistic joys—that is, commandments that jibe quite well with mankind’s most primitive impulses? I speak of Muhammad’s (and by extension Sharia’s) commandments for Muslims to wage war (“jihad”) upon the infidel, to plunder the infidel of his wealth, women, and children, and to keep him in perpetual subjugation—all things that define Islam’s history vis-à-vis the non-Muslim.

In other words, the Muslim mentality that feels the need to address adult breastfeeding, simply because Muhammad once advised it, must certainly be sold on the prophet’s constant incitements for war and conquest.

Living in an era where the Muslim world is significantly weaker than the infidel world, and so currently incapable of launching a full-on offensive, one may overlook this fact. But the intention is surely there. One need only look to how non-Muslim minorities, especially Christians, are treated in the Muslim world—where they are persecuted, kidnapped, raped and ransacked—to be sure of it.

Raymond Ibrahim


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Saudi Women Risk All for Small Rights

by Lisa Richards

After centuries of methodical Islamic gender apartheid that holds Saudi women in virtual enforced slavery as possessions of men, slight signs of rebellion are being seen, as many women are defying the fatwa against women drivers.

In order to understand why recent driving protests are an enormous step forward for Saudi women, one must comprehend the brutal world in which Saudi women are forced to live.

According to Freedom House, Saudi women lack all equality, are denied benefits of citizenship, their employment is limited, and laws are designed to discriminate against women. This is because a female is not considered a full person. Thus, a woman can be arrested for eating in public without a male family member, an act considered immoral and punishable in court. If a woman marries a non-Saudi, her children are considered foreigners. In order for Saudi women to receive identity cards, virtue, through state officials, must be proven in court.

According to the Center for Democracy and Human Rights, Saudi women are forbidden from studying biology and chemistry, and girls are banned from playing sports in school, something the CDHR reports is creating serious health problems in women. Saudi women are also forbidden from studying abroad.

Amnesty International reports that Saudi laws are purposely intended to discriminate against women for the purpose of subjugation. Conspicuously, for example, unmarried women are forbidden from establishing a business without a male benefactor. Also, women are prohibited from riding in the front of public buses, “even when the buses are empty.”

Women in this brutal regime are forced into arranged marriages—not by mothers, but male family members who have absolute authority over Saudi women’s lives. Women rarely initiate lawsuits, in part because of strict laws stipulating that two male family members must speak on behalf of women as witnesses. Even then, women are at the mercy of men, who provide help depending on whether or not the case brings shame to the family.

While Saudi women, like many women in Muslim countries, live under harsh laws constraining them as prisoners in their very homes, Saudi Arabia’s laws are more brutal than those of other Arab countries. Saudi laws forbid women to go out in public unaccompanied by male family escorts. Any woman caught in public without a male family member is automatically accused of prostitution under Saudi law and must be imprisoned. As punishment for such “crimes,” Saudi woman are made to endure physical as well as mental torture before being sentenced to severe lashings or death.

Furthermore, it is illegal for Saudi women to remove the veil in public, or even to appear in public without being accompanied by male relatives. Violations of such strictures can invite rape. When rape occurs, only the female victim bears the sin and shame of the act: rape is declared a crime of the woman. Under Saudi laws, women must have four witnesses to the rape or the court throws the case out. And women’s rights in court are only worth half that of a man. If the shame of rape is exacerbated, it is the victim who may incur the extreme penalty of execution.

Freedom House also reported on the 2002 tragedy involving the Saudi veiling laws and a deadly girls’ school fire. Rescue attempts were prevented because many girls fleeing the blaze were not wearing their head scarves. Thus, firefighters “intentionally obstructed the efforts to evacuate the girls. This resulted in the increased number of casualties.”

A Safe World For Women reports that economic abuse is virtually starving the poorest sector of divorced Saudi women. These impoverished women are denied inheritances, forbidden education, jobs, and money needed to feed children, of whom they are only allowed custody until the child reaches age seven. Making their lives worse, women cannot “legali[ze] a contract or undergo medical treatment without the assent of a close male relative—father, husband, grandfather, brother or son.”

Given the extent of this oppression, it is astonishing to learn that, in recent years, some Saudi women have decided to risk their lives in order to defy the tyrannical Saudi norm depriving woman of the elementary right to drive a car.

Acts of defiance against this Saudi norm first surfaced in the early 1990s when Saudi women protested a fatwa — a religious ruling that does not appear in the Saudi law books — that forbids women from driving, even though at the time an appreciable number of Saudi women had a driver’s license from having lived in Western countries. Long-enduring the disparity in conventions, some women suddenly rebelled, expressing their defiance by driving alone through the capital city of Riyadh.

Restrictive driving laws are an extension of misogynist constraints stipulating that women must never travel alone without male family escorts, a precaution instituted by authorities for the stated reason that women might become tempted to interact and converse with male strangers. In fact, under Muslim religious law codes— the Sharia — if a woman speaks to a male stranger in public, she sullies herself and her family. This also includes forbidding her from talking to male co-workers. Such behavior, judged disgraceful, is measured worse than criminal activity, and is punishable by death.

By the year 2007, women’s rights activists pushed against the driving fatwa, petitioning the king to remove the law. However, this was to no avail. But today, four years later, Saudi women are standing up again, fighting to change the brutal repression of their country.

In May 2011, 32-year-old Manal Al-Sharif reignited the 90s protest campaign against women driving. She videotaped herself driving alone while speaking against the regime’s laws. She posted the video on Youtube, declaring women in Saudi Arabia hold PhDs, are college professors, yet they don’t know how to drive, because it’s forbidden. She noted that the situation is so bad that when husbands are away for long periods, some women have gone so far as to ask their male children — in one instance, a ten-year-old male child— to drive them to buy food.

Al-Sharif declared that she is tired of the fatwa and refuses “to be humiliated” any more by “begging” for a male family driver, as well as “begging” them to accompany her when she must have the inspection renewed on a car that happens to be “in [her] name.” Al-Sharif declared, “We want to change the country.”

Al-Sharif, who had learned to drive in the United States, was quickly arrested after the video was posted on the web. She was detained in prison as a criminal for 10 days on charges of defaming Saudi Arabia’s reputation and rousing public judgment against Islamic laws. Only after she was forced to sign a document stating she will never operate a vehicle again was she released. The arrest incident, however, did not fade from public notice.

The arrest of Al-Sharif sparked outrage from human rights groups and inspired resistance in the hearts of women living inside the most oppressive dynastic monarchy in the Arab world. Saudi women declared they want “the right of transportation” without the humiliation of being forced to use the services of taxi drivers. One woman asserted, “[W]e [women] are capable of doing things on our own” and “wish to live our daily lives with dignity.” Another woman was inspired to drive for 45 minutes through the capital city of Riyadh, because, as she said, “I woke up today believing with every part of me that this is my right. I woke up believing this is my duty, and I was no longer afraid.”

The protest by women against driving restrictions is monumental. In the context of Saudi gender apartheid, such defiance by women can be expected to bring a harsh response from authorities. That some women are willing to stand against such penalties speaks to the fact that something new is in the wind, perhaps brought about by increased communication with the outside world, enabled by the Internet and other electronic media. Wajiha Huwaidar, the woman who video-taped Al-Sharif, observed,

“Saudi women have been fighting for the right to drive for the past 25 years. In the 1990s, a group of about 40 women drove their cars on the same day to denounce the ban. Manal was capable of reaching a much bigger number of people because of Facebook and Twitter. I remember in 2007 trying to rally my friends by email and over the phone: it was a much longer process.”

This rebellion, of course, has not been greeted by Saudi authorities without alarm. To Saudi religious leaders, women driving is unsettling and heralds frightening change. Saudi cleric Shaykh Abd-al-Rahman al-Barrak said women will “tempt God’s wrath” and “they will die, God willing, and will not enjoy this.”

Saudi women are now protesting their subjugation; they are standing up for their rights as human beings. They have a long fight ahead, but one hopes that by winning this small battle, it will be a portent of change in Middle Eastern and Islamic culture writ large.

Lisa Richards


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Flotilla II: The Merchant Ships of Hamas Propaganda

by Joseph Klein

The pro-Hamas flotilla of international ships planning to defy Israel’s lawful naval blockade of Gaza is getting underway, despite some delays caused by insurance and mechanical problems. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was spot on when he told Israel Radio that the so-called Freedom Flotilla II participants are nothing more than “terror activists, seeking to create provocation and looking for blood.”

The merchant ships of Hamas propaganda are supporting the terrorist organization that is the governing authority in Gaza and whose covenant calls for the killing of all Jews, the destruction of Israel, and the replacement of Israel with an Islamic state. The flotilla’s purpose is to rally international public opinion against the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state, striving to achieve on the propaganda front what Hamas is aiming to do with rockets and suicide bombers.

Flotilla activists seek to create an international incident by replicating last year’s flotilla confrontation, which led to the deaths of nine Hamas-sympathizers on board a Turkish ship. These extremists attacked Israeli soldiers who were attempting to enforce Israel’s lawful maritime blockade. Israeli’s soldiers acted in self-defense.

At least one of the vessels due to participate in this year’s flotilla is reportedly carrying “sacks of dangerous chemical materials” to be used against the Israeli troops, according to Israeli intelligence. The flotilla organizers are making sure that members of sympathetic press agencies, such as Al-Jazeera, CNN, and NBC, will be on hand to beam Israel’s “brutal” response to the world.

These merchant ships of Hamas propaganda are not “the Freedom Riders of this era,” nor a continuation of the fight against slavery, as one of the American flotilla leaders, Alice Walker, tried insanely to claim:

When black people were enslaved for 300 years, it took a lot of people from outside our community to help free us. This is a fine tradition–going to help people who need us anywhere on the planet. I look at you in the room; if we have salvation as humankind, it is in the room.

The abolitionists and Freedom Riders risked their lives to peacefully secure freedom and civil rights for our nation’s African-Americans. It is an insult to their memories to equate them with the flotilla agitators who have aligned themselves with terrorists trying to kill Jews simply because they are Jews.

The flotilla organizers deny they are on the side of Hamas. They claim they are just ordinary people moved by the human suffering of the Gazan people and who want to do what they can to bring the suffering to an end. Yet the truth gets in the way of their fairy tales. For example, the Free Gaza Movement is an affiliate of the International Solidarity Movement, which opposes the existence of the Jewish state. Adam Shapiro, an American co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement and leader of the Flotilla II brigade, had this to say about violence back in 2002:

Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics, both violent and nonviolent. But most importantly, it must develop a strategy involving both aspects.

Sounds like the model for Shapiro’s flotilla comrades to use in their upcoming manufactured confrontation with Israel’s defense forces.

Then there is Hamas activist and United Kingdom Muslim Brotherhood leader Muhammad Kazem Sawalha, who has been identified by Iranian media as the coordinator of the current Gaza flotilla. And there is the European Campaign To End The Siege On Gaza, which is playing a leading role in organizing the flotilla. It just happens to operate from the same address and has the same telephone number as the Palestinian Return Centre, which just happens to have strong ties to Hamas and the Global Muslim Brotherhood.

The flotilla is certainly not the humanitarian mission that some of its propagandists would have us believe. There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Recognizing that the humanitarian fiction is being exposed, the activist Palestinian lawyer Huwaida Arraf tried to change the subject. She admitted to a press conference that the flotilla is not about humanitarian aid after all. It is intended to support Palestinians’ demand for “liberation.”

Even Jamal El-Khoudary, chairman of the board of the Islamic University in Gaza who has led Gaza’s Popular Committee Against the Siege, conceded that the siege on goods is now mostly over. The flotilla participants and supporters know they can get whatever true humanitarian aid they wish to provide to the Gazan people delivered to them through internationally recognized channels.

As reported by The New York Times on June 25th:

For the past year, Israel has allowed most everything into Gaza but cement, steel and other construction material — other than for internationally supervised projects — because they are worried that such supplies can be used by Hamas for bunkers and bombs.

Humanitarian and consumer goods enter Gaza on a daily basis. The Israeli Defense Force itself transports to Gaza 5800 tons of goods a day, roughly double what the flotilla claims to be bringing.

Considering Hamas’s use of Gaza to launch more than 10,000 rockets into Israeli civilian populations, Hamas’s ongoing state of armed conflict against Israel (which it has vowed to destroy), and its blatant attempts to smuggle in arms by land and sea, Israel is fully entitled under international law to protect its citizens by inspecting goods entering Gaza to prevent weapons from reaching Hamas. This is the purpose of the naval blockade. Ships’ cargo is inspected and can be delivered to bona fide recipients in Gaza once it is determined that no arms and materials for military use are included. Regardless of the security risks, Israel has made sure that the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza continue to be met.

According to the Times, “health conditions remain better than across much of the developing world.” Unemployment is down and there has been a building boom in Gaza, as the Times goes on to describe:

Two luxury hotels are opening in Gaza this month. Thousands of new cars are plying the roads. A second shopping mall — with escalators imported from Israel — will open next month. Hundreds of homes and two dozen schools are about to go up. A Hamas-run farm where Jewish settlements once stood is producing enough fruit that Israeli imports are tapering off.

Serious problems persist in Gaza, to be sure. But they are largely of Hamas’s own making, as it focuses more on planning and launching attacks against Israel than taking care of its own people. The flotilla is nothing more than a propaganda diversion from that hard truth.

Joseph Klein is the author of a recent book entitled Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations and Radical Islam.


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Why Muslim Demands for Headscarves Are Exaggerated

by Raymond Ibrahim

Islamic attire for women—the burqa and hijab—are back in the news, though with a twist, as they cause problems and lawsuits in America, where they are legal. In France, however, they have been banned, and Muslim women are happily complying.

There is an instructive reason for this, but first, the stories from this week.

A Muslim-American woman, Kulsoom Abdullah, is trying to change the rules of competitive weightlifting to accommodate her. The rules require arms and legs to be bare so judges can see when elbows and knees are "locked," therefore being able to determine if a lift is successful. Most competitors wear a form-fitting body suit with short sleeves and short pants. Abdullah, however, says that "such exposure would violate her deeply held religious beliefs. But rather than giving up on her dreams of competitive weightlifting, she is pressing for a change in the sport's international rules," including "with the help of a lawyer, Muslim activists and the U.S. Olympic Committee."

And she won. The rules have been changed, in the words of the International Weightlifting Federation, to "promote and enable a more inclusive sport environment and break down barriers to participation."

It was also reported this week that Muslim-American Hani Khan is suing Abercrombie & Fitch, claiming the clothing retailer fired her for refusing to shed the hijab, an experience which in Khan's words "shook my confidence." She would be the third Muslim woman to sue Abercrombie for hijab reasons. But Khan is not trying to get her job back; rather, "her suit seeks to force Abercrombie to change its dress code to loosen restrictions on religious clothing… and is seeking back wages and unspecified damages."

In a statement, Abercrombie said, "We are committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all individuals regardless of religion, race or ethnicity. ... We comply with the law regarding reasonable religious accommodation."

Oddly, Khan's lawyer asserted that "Abercrombie prides itself on requiring what it calls 'a natural, classic American style.' But there is nothing American about discriminating against someone because of their religion." Apparently, work dress codes are now tantamount to "discriminating against someone because of their religion."

Meanwhile, in France, where Islamic dress is altogether banned, a new report suggests that Muslim women are happily complying—indeed, more Muslim women are traveling to France than before the ban:

Wealthy Gulf tourists are expected to continue to flock to France this summer in spite of a law that prohibits Muslim women from wearing the burqa, travel agencies said. Travel industry experts had initially feared a decline in Arab tourists after the April ban on full veils but now report no decline in peak-season bookings to France., the parent company of the online travel website, has seen a 219 percent increase in the number of searches for France from its Arabic Middle East site from April 1 to date. Searches for Belgium, which in 2010 passed a bill banning any clothing that would obscure the identity of the wearer, have increased 300 percent the website said.

Lest you think these Gulf women are any less pious than their American counterparts, there is a simple reason for why they are complying:

Islam's doctrine of taysir allows for hiyla, or the relaxation of Islamic law whenever Muslims find it inconvenient to uphold aspects of Sharia law, like when they are under infidel/Western authority. In fact, some of Islam's top leaders, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, for example, are great advocates of taysir, "especially for those Muslim minorities living in Europe and America."

Taysir is like a broader concept of taqiyya, which permits Muslims to lie when circumstances call for it, while taysir only permits Muslims to drop aspects of Sharia law when circumstances call for it.

But there is another distinction. The Gulf women traveling to France are tourists who are not nearly as acquainted with the West as their American counterparts. They naturally assume the West is like the Islamic world—actually tenacious about its customs and laws, hardly to be pushed around by minority groups. (This is precisely why Muslims in the West shamelessly push for the Ground Zero mosque -- Muslims in the Middle East can't believe it and think it's a Zionist conspiracy.)

Muslims living in the West, on the other hand, know how easily the West can be pushed into submission, so why settle for the Muslim option of taysir when they can score a victory for Islam—and make some money while at it?

Raymond Ibrahim


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Netherlands Cuts Funding from Anti-Israel NGOs

by Soeren Kern

The Dutch Foreign Ministry says it will implement "sweeping reforms" to prevent the transfer of millions of taxpayer euros from going to Dutch humanitarian aid organizations that fund anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activities and non-government organizations (NGOs) that deny Israel's right to exist.

The move comes after Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal discovered that previous governments had allocated at least €10 million ($15 million) to Dutch and Palestinian groups promoting BDS activities against Israel.

Debate over the issue heated up on June 15, when the heads of major Dutch NGOs were asked to testify at a special hearing convened by the Dutch Parliament "to discuss the activity of NGOs in Israel and Palestine."

According to a transcript of the event obtained by the Jerusalem Post, lawmakers heard the managers of leading Dutch NGOs defend BDS activities against Israel, as well as advocacy for a "one-state solution" for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

During questioning, the director of the Hague-based Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid (Cordaid), René Grotenhuis, defended BDS as "legitimate" because "it is important that people in Palestine look for ways to resist occupation, and it is a nonviolent way to do so."

The director of the Utrecht-based Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO), Marinus Verweij, said he believes that "the two-state solution is not the basic assumption for peace."

At the hearing, it also emerged that Oxfam Novib, the Dutch affiliate of Oxfam International, provided funds to the Dutch NGO "Stop de Bezeting" (Stop the Occupation). The group's founder, the anti-Israel activist Greta Duisenberg, is famous for her participation in demonstrations calling for Jews to be gassed. She has also accused the Israelis of blood libel and trafficking in human organs.

After the hearing ended, Johan Driesen of the Dutch Freedom Party said: "It was the first time I sat down to talk with the directors of the aid groups and I found what they said not only surprising, but disgusting. And I think the Dutch government should cut funding to organizations promoting this agenda."

The scale of the problem has been documented by the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor in a new report titled "Indirect Dutch Government Funding: ICCO and Cordaid Support for Radical NGOs." The study shows that the Dutch government grants hundreds of millions of euros each year to major Dutch aid organizations such as ICCO and Cordaid, and that these groups then transfer the funds to support some of the most radical NGOs active in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

As a result, Dutch taxpayers are unknowingly funding anti-Zionist groups that promote BDS activities against Israel, including: BADIL, Coalition of Women for Peace, Defence for Children International –Palestine Section (DCI-PS), Holy Land Trust, Sabeel, Stop the Wall, and the Ma'an Development Center.

Several of these groups are currently organizing a pro-Palestinian "consciousness-raising event" (here and here) to be held in Israel in early July. Part of a propaganda effort aimed at delegitimizing the state of Israel, activists from across Europe plan to arrive at the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv on July 8, and from there move on to Judea and Samaria for a week of solidarity with the Palestinians. They have chosen July 8 because the following day marks the anniversary of the day (July 9, 2004) that the International Court of Justice in The Hague declared the Israel security barrier to be illegal.

According to another NGO Monitor report, Dutch taxpayers are also funding Electronic Intifada (EI), a website that publishes articles that compare Israelis to Nazis and promotes campaigns for anti-Israel BDS activities. EI is being financed by ICCO, the Dutch NGO, which receives 90 percent of its budget from the Dutch government.

As documented by NGO Monitor, EI plays a central role in the Durban strategy of political warfare against Israel, with frequent accusations of "apartheid," "ethnic cleansing" and "slow genocide." Articles on the EI website justify violence against civilians, call Gaza a "concentration camp" and label Palestinian participation in peace talks as "collaboration." EI also has extensive sections (here and here) supporting the BDS movement against Israel.

The ICCO website devotes an entire page to Electronic Intifada, praising its work as "an internationally recognized daily news source" that provides a counterweight to "positive reporting" about Israel. ICCO's website notes its three-year funding pledge for EI. During his testimony to parliament, ICCO director Verweij called EI "an important source of information" and said "in no way is the EI anti-Israel or anti-Semitic."

According to NGO Monitor, groups such as "ICCO and Cordaid do not systematically provide information regarding funding to local NGOs. Full lists of partners and projects are not publically available. There does not appear to be government oversight or evaluation of the indirect Dutch funding for NGOs, or of ICCO's and Cordaid's decision making."

In response to the revelations, Foreign Minister Rosenthal promised to "look into the matter personally. If it appears that the government-subsidized NGO ICCO does fund Electronic Intifada, it will have a serious problem with me."

Rosenthal has also told the Hague-based Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI) that he will intervene to block funding to groups promoting the BDS campaign. "A meticulous reappraisal of subsidy applicants remains necessary. Intervention will occur in cases of organizations acting against Dutch policy," Rosenthal said.

Dutch aid groups are now feeling the heat. The Dutch government has reduced the amount of financial support it provides to Cordaid this year by a whopping 42 percent, forcing the organization to fire one-third if its 400 workers. Oxfam-Novib has seen its budget slashed by one quarter, prompting it to close down its operations in Latin America and Central Asia. ICCO has lost more than one-third of its government subsidies in 2011.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Maxime Verhagen set out the Dutch government's new plans to strengthen political and economic relations with Israel. In a June 14 speech at the Technion in Haifa, Verhagen also announced the inauguration of the Dutch-Israeli Cooperation Council by January 2012. Invest rather than divest will be the new mantra.

Other moves also signal a sea-change in Dutch-Israeli relations. In April, the Dutch government cracked down on the Dutch affiliate of the Turkish group IHH – the main organizer of a planned flotilla to the Gaza Strip – because of its involvement with Hamas. The Dutch Foreign Ministry "placed IHH Netherlands on the Dutch list of terrorist organizations and froze its assets, because IHH Netherlands regularly transferred funds to IHH Germany. This organization is banned in Germany because it has raised funds for Hamas. Hamas has been on the EU list of terrorist organizations since 2003."

In February, members of the Dutch parliament approved a parliamentary decision in support of Israel as a "democratic Jewish state." The pro-Israel vote resulted in 113 of the 150 parliament members affirming Israel's existence as a Jewish state and urging the European Union not to recognize a unilaterally declared Palestinian state.

Soeren Kern


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Muslim Brotherhood Shadow Candidate Surges in Egypt

by Ryan Mauro

According to an unscientific online poll, a new Islamist candidate is gaining steam in Egypt’s presidential race named Mohammed Selim al-Awa. He presents himself as a democratic “reformist” with no political affiliation, but he has made several concerning statements and is suspected by some experts of being the favored candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Facebook page of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, which has governed Egypt since the removal of President Hosni Mubarak, has a poll asking respondents who they will vote for in the presidential election. With over 100,000 votes, Mohammed el-Baradei came in first with 35 percent. Mohammed Selim al-Awa came in second. Amr Moussa, considered the strong front-runner, came in fourth. Only one-fifth of the Egyptian population has Internet access, so it is not representative of the population as a whole, but the survey indicates that al-Awa is a force to be reckoned with.

Al-Awa styles himself as a reformer who promotes a moderate, modern version of Islam. He argues that Western democracy is the best representation of the Islamic principle of “shura,” or consultation. He says he promotes critical thinking towards religion, as his father raised him to “question even the interpretation of a Qur’anic verse or a prophetic saying and not to take it for granted. I learned from him to steer away from the dogmatic understanding of religion.”

He opposes the Ground Zero Mosque, arguing “it is not necessary. They can have a center or a mosque anywhere else. It symbolizes nothing. Nobody should want to offend.” Al-Awa rejects the notion that the U.S. is at war with Islam, and has sided with the members of the Muslim Brotherhood who left the organization to form the Wasat Party. He opposes the Iranian-style of governance, and criticizes the Muslim Brotherhood and other political parties because they “indoctrinate blind obedience.”

This does not mean the West should celebrate al-Awa. His father was a follower of Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was inspired to become involved in politics because of his father’s discussion groups with Brotherhood members. One meeting, which al-Awa mentions as a defining moment for him, was with Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Nazi Muslim who worked closely with Adolf Hitler.

Al-Awa says that his father left the Muslim Brotherhood after it killed civilians, but he does not reject the group’s goals. When asked about the Brotherhood’s objective of establishing an Islamic state based on Sharia law, he said, “I think their project—as defined by Hassan el-Banna…is the project of Prophethood, not of Brotherhood. I mean, it was the project of Islam itself and no one can object to this vision but when it comes to translating it into actions…”

Al-Awa was arrested in 1965 for being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but he denies ever being a part of the organization. He wants to preserve Article 2 of the Egyptian constitution, which makes Sharia the principal source of legislation. He is also the former secretary-general of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, whose chairman is Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi. Many other Brotherhood members sit on the board of directors. These ties have made some experts believe that he is the Brotherhood’s shadow candidate, as the organization has promised not to field an official candidate.

He has made several other worrisome statements that contradict his credentials as a moderate. In 2006, he praised female suicide bombers targeting Israel. He criticized a fatwa that said women should not become terrorists because their duty is to give birth and raise children. “What if she never gets married?” al-Awa asked. “What is more important: The right of countries to be liberated from the colonialists, or the right of a woman to get married and give birth? If this can be called a right at all, because it may or may not happen…but, Allah be praised, eventually people ignored this fatwa,” he said.

He has also fomented anger and fear toward the Coptic Christian minority and Israel. He said that the Christians are “stocking arms and ammunition in their churches and monasteries,” and alleged that the armed Copts want a civil war in order to divide Egypt. Al-Awa also promotes the idea that Israel is trying to sabotage the Egyptian revolution. Al-Awa has since denied accusing the Copts of stockpiling weapons, and has condemned violence against them.

An al-Awa presidency would also be a major threat to Israel. In discussing the violence between Coptic Christians and Muslims, he said, “I believe very strongly that the ones behind this criminal act are Zionist intelligence agents, whether deceived or deceiving Egyptians, or non-Egyptians.” He proclaimed, “The decline and fall of Israel is closer than people expect since Israel is a cruel and racist entity…we must get ready for the post-demise period.”

It’s appealing for the West to find someone that promotes the idea of compatibility between Islam and Western democracy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the messenger is a friend. A “moderate” who promotes Sharia-based governance, supports suicide bombings and instigates against Israel and Coptic Christians is no “moderate” at all.

Ryan Mauro


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Don’t Worry, Be Muslim

by Daniel Greenfield

There’s good news on the horizon. According to Trevor Philips, the head of the UK’s ‘Equality and Human Rights Commission’, Muslims “are doing their damnedest” to develop an Islam compatible with liberal democracy. And if you don’t believe him, then just ask Tony Blair, who reads the Koran every day and marvels at how progressive it is.

Forget all the worrying and fussing over Muslim immigration and terrorism. The future looks bright for Britain. We’re probably only days away from the first female Imam and drive through abortion clinics in local mosques. Mecca is going to host its first swimsuit competition on its black rock and Ramadan will unite with Gay Pride Day for a parade that no one will ever be able to forget.

At The Guardian, where left is always right, Musleh Faradhi assures us that Sharia courts are not about to displace English law or flog Prince Charles as an adulterer in front of Buckingham Palace. “Women who come to this country with little or no English and are then discriminated against by their own husbands or relatives has nothing to do with sharia, but rather with traditions and culture,” says Faradhi. “This should not be used as a stick with which to beat sharia councils.”

That sounds fair enough except when you remember that Sharia councils are usually the ones who beat women with sticks, rather than the other way around. For reasons that have nothing to do with the Koran, but with traditions, culture and the equinox. It would be a shame if Sharia’s habit of beating women with sticks were to be used to beat Sharia councils with sticks. When it comes to Muslims, turnabout is never fair play. Even when the sticks are metaphorical ones. And the ones they use are all too real.

According to Tony Blair, the Koran is, “ahead of its time in attitudes to marriage, women and governance”. This claim would be true only if the Koran had been written in the age of the dinosaurs. And probably not even then. The educated Cro-Magnon would have taken one sniff at the Koran and opted for something more progressive. Like the Daily Mail or Benny Hill.

In the progressive words of the Koran, “Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the other.” (Koran 4:34). It’s hard to argue with that. At least if you’re a woman and under the authority of a Sharia council. Bring enough Muslim men with sticks together and then good luck arguing with Allah’s Theory of Gender Evolution without getting beheaded. Or at least beaten bloody with sticks.

“Good women are obedient,” says the Koran. “They guard their unseen parts.” Which in the Muslim world often includes their faces, their voices and themselves, until the whole woman becomes one unseen part. “As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them.”

The liberal Britain which long since disavowed, “A woman, a dog and a walnut tree; the harder they are beaten, the better they be”, has welcomed it back in as, “A woman, a dog and a palm tree.” It is easy to argue with the practices of beating a domestic walnut tree, but who are we to argue with the cultural tree harvesting methods of an ancient belief system which must be superior to ours on account of it being practiced by the people we once colonized.

And the verse finishes, that having beaten them “Then if they obey you, take no further action against them.” This must be the part that Tony Blair and Western liberal readers find so ahead of its time in its attitude toward women. That once having beaten a woman, if she complies, then you should stop beating her. The nobility and generosity of these words should touch the heart of even a Germaine Greer.

The Koran may tell you to beat women, but it doesn’t tell you to keep beating them once they’re cringing on the floor. This generosity extends not only to women, but to all sorts of beloved infidels. Once he surrenders, and pays Jizya, accepting his role as an inferior– the well-behaved Muslim is not supposed to keep beating him. Women, Dhimmis, slaves and other people whom Allah hath made inferior are not to be beaten so long as they obey you.

You can see why Tony Blair might consider this attitude toward governance ahead of its time. Anyone who has had contact with England’s bureaucracy can well appreciate a form of governance that stops beating you once you’re lying prone on the floor.

“The Koran strikes me as a reforming book, trying to return Judaism and Christianity to their origins” says the former Prime Minister. “Rather as reformers attempted with the Christian Church centuries later.”. The inability of the former Prime Minister to tell the difference between the Anglican Church and a wife-beating manual is a sad testament to many things. Not the least of which is his functional illiteracy.

If Islam was trying to return to the origins of Judaism and Christianity, it took the wrong road around. Mohammed’s GPS may have told him he was headed to Jerusalem, but instead he ended up in Mecca. Which is what happens when you attach a GPS to a flying horse and religious ideas to greedy bandits.

Jewish and Christian scriptures were not possessed with the “fear of disobedience” or the need to compel their wives to cover their faces to avoid being raped on the spot by their own cousins. Which originated the headbags of Muslim modesty. But then Jews and Christians tended to court their wives, rather than abduct them and rape them in front of their husbands.

When your wedding canopy is a knife at her throat, and your “meet-cute” was burning her village, there’s good reason to fear her disobedience. And when your relationship is based on being the first man to grab her as she made a run for it, there is good reason to keep her inside or cover her from head to toe. You may be her first rapist, but your cousins and friends will have no objection to being her second and third. When rape is legal, and every adult male around you is a potential rapist, then purdah and headbags are a natural way for fathers and husbands to protect their investment.

There is nothing spiritual about Muslim modesty. It is, as Blair said, “Practical”. In a society of rapists, women had better remain at home, cover up, or end up like Lara Logan. But you don’t have to be a blonde at a celebration of Egyptian democracy to be assaulted. It happens just as often in the UK now. Take Abul Malik of Trafalgar Road, who raped a female passenger when she couldn’t cover the full fare. And why not. Back in Pakistan, rape is a time honored means of restitution in disputes. And now so it is in the UK too.

We can of course go on pretending that all this ugly and sordid stuff has nothing to do with the high-minded ideals Islam and go on cheering the Sharia councils who “are doing their damnedest” to make Islam compatible with liberal democracy. Except it isn’t Islam that they are making compatible with liberal democracy, rather it is liberal democracy that they are making damnably compatible with Islam.

Lord Phillips, the Lord Chief Justice, has explained that equality before the law now means that some people will be governed under the law, and others under Sharia law. Of course there will be no beating of women with sticks. Yet. For now it will have to be the metaphorical sticks of a legal system which is under the impression that women are an inferior form of life.

How much justice can women expect from divorce proceedings that take place under the authority of the Koran which says that, men have authority over women because “they spend their wealth to maintain them.” Which denies that domestic abuse and marital rape are wrong.

Baroness Cox has introduced the “Arbitration and Mediation Services Equality Bill” which puts forward the controversial idea that no mediator can operate on the belief that a woman has fewer rights than a man. That such a bill had to be put forward in 2011, ninety-three years after the triumph of women’s suffrage, is outrageous. But what is even more outrageous is the opposition to it.

The Islamic Sharia Council’s Suhaib Hasan replied that, “It is indeed a crime that Lady Cox has made no attempt to understand the workings of the shariah councils.” Of course that isn’t an actual crime that she can be beaten with sticks for. Yet.

The media’s message is don’t worry. Every day Muslim immigrants are adapting to the new way of life. But who is really doing the adapting? The real message of don’t worry, is don’t worry and be Muslim. And if you can’t, then keep to the floor and hope that they don’t keep beating you once you’re down.

Daniel Greenfield


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Gaza Convoy – “Israel cannot and should not let humanitarian ships through”

by Jade-Yasmin Tänzler

The first attempt ended in bloodshed. Now another humanitarian convoy is headed for Gaza with the aim of breaking the Israeli sea blockade. Israel has no choice but to act, says maritime law expert Heintschel von Heinegg.

Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg is an international and maritime law expert who teaches at Europa-Universität Viadrina in Frankfurt. He has also served as an adviser to the Turkel Commission that Israel established in the summer of 2010. The commission has been tasked with determining how and why violence erupted on 31 May 2010 between passengers on the Gaza humanitarian convoy and Israeli soldiers.

ZEIT ONLINE: The deployment of Israeli forces in May of last year against a humanitarian convoy headed for Gaza unleashed cries of protest worldwide. Now a second and far larger international convoy is on its way to Gaza – a convoy that aims to break Israeli’s sea blockade of Gaza. Is this blockade even allowable from a legal standpoint?

Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg: Well that depends on how you characterize the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. When jurists come together, they often disagree on this matter. But there’s definitely a consensus on one thing – namely that what you have here is an armed conflict. Which means that the laws governing such conflicts apply; and under these laws, sea blockades are allowed.

ZEIT ONLINE: But doesn’t the conflict also have to involve two or more states?

Heintschel von Heinegg: Right. And the problem is that Palestine is not a state – at least not yet – which is why many feel that the conflict is not an international armed conflict. And if you take that view, then blockade laws don’t apply. But if you take an objective look at the relevant legal analyses, it’s readily apparent that the basic admissibility of the Israeli blockade has never been called into question.

ZEIT ONLINE: You yourself have characterized Israel’s action against the convoy in 2010 as being perfectly legitimate. Why is that?

Heintschel von Heinegg: If a blockade is allowable in this conflict, then it’s also allowable to take measures to set up such a blockade. There’s only one principle that characterizes a blockade: the principle of effectiveness. In other words, the blockade has to prevent ships from entering or leaving the blockade zone. If the blockade fails to do this even once, it is ineffective and thus immediately becomes legally ineffective as well.

ZEIT ONLINE: So this means that when it comes to this blockade, Israel is in a catch-22 situation, right?

Heintschel von Heinegg: Right. The Israelis simply can’t afford to let any ship through, if they want to prevent another ship from passing through the blockade zone a few hours later.

ZEIT ONLINE: The operators of the 2010 humanitarian convoy said right from the outset that the ships were headed for Gaza. Didn’t saying this make them subject to criminal prosecution?

Heintschel von Heinegg: The mere fact that they set sail for Gaza does not constitute a criminal act. But: if you come out and say, in a public forum, that you’re heading to Gaza for the express purpose of breaking the blockade, this is clear evidence of a blockade breaking attempt. And when that happens, the state that has imposed the blockade doesn’t need to wait until the ship in question reaches the 20 nautical mile boundary; instead, it’s got the right to intervene beforehand. Because the state that’s imposing the blockade is not only entitled but also duty bound to maintain its blockade.

ZEIT ONLINE: What do you think the people onboard the current humanitarian convoy are going to be facing?

Heintschel von Heinegg: Any ship that actually breaks the blockade simply has to reckon with the fact that that military force is going to be used against them. Plus the state that’s imposing the blockade is under no obligation to wait until someone actually crosses the blockade line. All that has to happen is for there to be clearly discernible intent – in which case measures can be taken long before the blockade line is crossed.

ZEIT ONLINE: What form could or should such measures take?

Heintschel von Heinegg: Normally such measures unfold without any major problems. The state imposing the blockade stops the vessel, orders it to proceed to a specific port, inspects the ship’s cargo, and then turns the matter over to the courts. But if there’s resistance to the measures taken by the state that’s imposing the blockade, then this state needs to quell this opposition. Which means that any attempt to evade the blockade or the forces enforcing it needs to be met with reasonable force.

“The motivation of the blockade breakers is irrelevant from a legal standpoint.”

ZEIT ONLINE: In your view, was Israel’s reaction to the humanitarian convoy in 2010 a smart move given the humaniarian situation in Gaza?

Heintschel von Heinegg: Well this is how it always is when it comes to such legal issues. In such situations, the actors don’t always act logically, or judiciously; nor are such actions necessarily the politically smart thing to do. A state that imposes a blockade is obligated to supply the civilian population in the blockaded zone with the goods they need in order to survive. But the Israelis have always done this. At the time of the humanitarian convoy in 2010, it was the same in that they said: Feel free to sail into the harbor; we guarantee that we’ll hand over your humanitarian cargo. But it was clear from the get-go that certain parties didn’t want that at all, because then they wouldn’t have achieved the same impact on public opinion.

ZEIT ONLINE: What would you advise the Israeli Prime Minister to do if the next humanitarian convoy approaches the boundary of the blockade zone?

Heintschel von Heinegg: If the Prime Minister wants to maintain the blockade, then he’s simply got to enforce it. If he doesn’t enforce it, it’ll be a dead letter; and then he’d have to resort to other measures; and then the legal situation wouldn’t be so simple. Because then he’d have to invoke the right of self -efense, which is often invoked in cases where it’s simply not appropriate to do so. Our [Germany’s] anti-terrorism operations are a prime example of this.

ZEIT ONLINE: Do you think the Israelis are going to react to this second convoy the same way they reacted to the first one?

Heintschel von Heinegg: I think Israel is better prepared this time around. Last time they tried to approach the convoy ships in rubber dinghies and then climb onboard from these dinghies, in order to take control of the ships. And then they used helicopters. I suspect that the Israeli forces were simply unprepared for the resistance they met from some of the passengers on board those ships and were taken completely by surprise.

ZEIT ONLINE: Is the legal situation now more touchy due to the fact that there’s already been a conflict with a convoy?

Heintschel von Heinegg: I think the reverse is the case. I hope that the relevant legal principles won’t be misused again, since the law of armed conflict applies here – not a cockeyed human rights perspective. Also, Israel didn’t act at all capriciously the first time around. It would have been quite difficult for the Israelis to sink those ships without concerning themselves with the fate of the passengers and cargo onboard. Israel only took measures that were prescribed by law – namely preventing the ships from reaching Gaza. This was the most moderate measure available to them.

ZEIT ONLINE: People are suffering in Gaza, even though they have access to the goods they need in order to survive. Isn’t it legitimate for people to want to help the citizens of Gaza?

Heintschel von Heinegg: The motivation of the blockade breakers – regardless of whether they’re acting for virtuous or reprehensible reasons – is completely irrelevant from a legal standpoint. I, of course, have great respect for human rights activists who give of their time to pursue their goals, but you can’t get around the fact that there are certain legal boundaries. Also, I presume that these humanitarian actions are also publicity stunts aimed at mobilizing public opinion. No one would argue the fact that the citizens of Gaza have it really tough, compared to our own standards. But I don’t really see any pressing humanitarian need here.

ZEIT ONLINE: In your view, is there an alternative to these humanitarian convoys?

Heintschel von Heinegg: Sure there is. There are a few humanitarian organizations out there that have impeccable credentials that no one in their right mind would call into question – the most important one being the International Committee of the German Red Cross. If you really want to help the citizens of Gaza, you go to the Red Cross – an organization that the Israelis accept without hesitation.

ZEIT ONLINE: The border crossing between Gaza and Egypt was recently reopened. Do you think this will have a counterproductive effect on the naval blockade?

Heintschel von Heinegg: Israel has traditionally been able to rely on Egypt, and the border between Gaza and Egypt hasn’t been particularly permeable in the past. But this has changed. The strategic importance of the blockade in terms of protecting Israeli security has definitely declined. But nonetheless, the reliability of Israel’s maritime measures will not be affected in any way by the change in the status of the Gaza-Egypt border.

Jade-Yasmin Tänzler


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