A year after the first freedom flotilla set sail for the Gaza Strip, resulting in the deaths of nine activists at the hands of the Israeli IDF, the world awaits the departure of Freedom Flotilla II. The flotilla of ten boats includes two cargo ships transporting nearly three thousand tons of aid, and eight other passenger boats with citizens of dozens of different countries. It was supposed to set sail at the end of June.

Over the last week or so, it has been mired in sabotage and Israeli diplomatic efforts to halt it with Greek officials who have their hands full (and tied) with their own domestic problems. The result is that the flotilla has been delayed from setting sail and activist morale has been lowered, but that has not deterred those involved. They remain focused on the flotilla’s overall goal of breaking the Israeli blockade to bring in humanitarian aid, and cheered that Israeli actions have actually helped their goal of bringing the plight of Gaza back into the media spotlight.

The Juliano, owned jointly by the Ship to Gaza organizations in Sweden, Norway and Greece, had its propeller house destroyed and its propeller shaft cut by hostile divers. The consequent damage would have happened gradually as the ship was sailing and would have culminated in a breach in the hull. The Irish-owned ship, the “MV Saoirse” also had its propeller shaft weakened by saboteurs who cut or filed a piece off the shaft. This weakened the integrity of the shaft, causing it to bend badly when it was put into use.

Dr. Lane, who was part of last year’s flotilla, said, “The Freedom Flotilla is a non-violent act of practical and humanitarian solidarity with the people of Gaza, yet Israel continues to use threats and violence to delay its sailing. They attacked us in international waters last year, now they are attacking us in Turkish and Greek ports. There is no line that Israel won’t cross.” One can only speculate  about Israel’s involvement in the sabotage as there is not yet any proof, but given Israel’s unhesitating use of snipers and attack dogs against unarmed civilians, it’s not a stretch to imagine it is their doing.

The Tahrir & The Audacity of Hope

On Friday the U.S. boat named after Barack Obama’s famous book “The Audacity of Hope” attempted to sail from the port of Perama, near Athens, but was thwarted by Greek coast guard speedboats. The 60-year-old captain was arrested and faces charges of trying to leave port without permission and of endangering the lives of the boat’s passengers.

The Canadian ship to  Gaza,  the Tahrir, was boarded before it had a chance to leave (on Canada Day). The Greek authorities attempted to confiscate Tahrir’s transit logs needed for travel, the delegates refused to hand them over, offering photocopies instead, which were in turn refused. This exposed the efforts to stop all ships departing from Greek ports if the intended destination was Gaza. Soon enough all Gaza-bound ships were stranded in Greece because they were “concerned primarily with the protection and safety of human life.” A fact we have since learned is not true.

Israel’s extreme right wing Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman admitted on Sunday that Israel was behind the Greek government’s decision to forbid the flotilla from sailing to the Gaza Strip saying “Things do not just happen on their own. The Quartet, the governments of Greece and Cyprus, object to the flotilla, understands the needs of Israel, and is acting effectively.”

The flotilla, I understand, will try and set sail again on Monday July 4th regardless of Greek and Israeli efforts to stop them. The blockade, now in its fourth year, is illegal under international law. The same goes for last year’s raid in international waters of the first freedom flotilla and for Israel’s forty plus year occupation of Palestine. Any form of peaceful protest should be welcomed by so called freedom loving nations such as our own; we should not be bowing to the will of a single apartheid-like government.

“We’ve received many visits and inspections from Greek authorities; we’ve satisfied all the technical requirements, all the paperwork. Our ship is ready. The Greek government is having its hand forced by the powers of the international community. It’s a shame on the Greek government, a shame on the EU, a shame on the Canadian and American government for cowing to one power dictating where their citizens can travel. This is a citizen to citizen initiative. We’re not going to be stopped by an order coming from the Greek government, when it’s in fact being manipulated by the Israeli government.” – David Heap, associate professor at the University of Western Ontario aboard the Tahrir

Follow Quiet Mike on Facebook  [like url=http://www.facebook.com/quietmichael action=like]

Follow Quiet Mike on Twitter

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it abundantly clear last week in his speech to the American Congress that he has no desire to negotiate for peace. Although Bibi’s talk drew several standing ovations in front of American lawmakers, few were smiling back in Palestine or Israel.

In his speech Netanyahu quickly dismissed virtually all key Palestinian demands for peace. He first shunned Obama’s remarks days earlier when he called for the future Palestinian state to be based on the borders of 1967. He then ruled out dividing Jerusalem, saying “Jerusalem must never again be divided. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel.”

Netanyahu went on to say that Palestinian refugees did not have the right to return to Israel and that they had to remain in any Palestinian state. He also ruled out leaving the Jordan Valley and made no mention of halting settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. All this of course leaves the Palestinians with nothing. Bibi makes for a far better dictator than he does a negotiator.

Netanyahu then asked for President Abbas to tear up his pact with Hamas. Hamas of course was democratically elected back in 2006, but apparently democracy does not count when the victor is labeled a terrorist organization.

Hamas’s military wing has consistently used terrorist tactics and called for the destruction of the Jewish State, but you know what? That’s what enemies do, especially the governors of an occupied land. No one can deny that Israel has called for and even tried to bring about the destruction of Hamas. The only difference between the two militaries is that one side can afford uniforms. Whether a car bomb or a gunship missile, both bring terror and death.

A side note: Common definitions of terrorism refer to those violent acts which are intended to create fear and are perpetrated for religious, political or ideological goals, deliberately targeting or disregarding the safety of civilians. Going by this definition Israel has killed 5 times more civilians and ten times more civilians under the age of 18 than Palestinians in the last 25 years.

Hamas’s refusal to recognize the Jewish State should not hamper Israel’s decision to negotiate, but Netanyahu continually uses Hamas as a roadblock to peace. Imagine the world we might be living in if the US refused to talk to the Soviet Union after Khrushchev threatened to bury them.

Israel has the region’s strongest economy and military by far, complete with an arsenal of (not so secret) nuclear weapons, but we are constantly told by Netanyahu that his policies and positions are for Israel’s security, even though they have maintained a stable peace agreement with half their neighbors for decades.

Benjamin Netanyahu has been opposed to a Palestinian state for most of his life, right up until he was elected for a second term. Are we to believe that he has had a sudden change of heart or had some sort of Islamic epiphany? Nothing he has said or done recently would suggest so, and he’s not fooling as many people as he may think (aside from the American Congress).

Follow Quiet Mike on Twitter: @MWeishar

Last Thursday, US President Barack Obama gave a stirring speech on the “Arab Spring” and America’s policies toward it. Unfortunately the only part of it that made headlines was his comment calling for any peace deal between Israel and Palestine to be based on the 1967 borders. His annotations angered Zionists, Republicans, right wing Jews and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

What Obama said however was nothing new; negotiations based on the lines of 1967 have been going on since the 1970s, in fact Bill Clinton pushed for such a deal at Camp David eleven years ago. The idea of land swaps also mentioned in Obama’s speech is again nothing new, but it seemed to be lost on everyone.

Land swaps are the key to any deal of course; the West Bank has been dotted with so many Israeli settlements  over the years that Israel has made it virtually impossible for any deal to be made based solely on the 1967 borders.  No Palestinian would agree to exchange a big meaty steak for only the fat in return. That means any deal would not only include the same amount of land, but the same amount of fertile land.

I believe, as do many, that Obama’s comments regarding the Palestinian/Israeli issue had more than one objective. While Obama was trying to restart peace negotiations, he was also trying to dissuade Palestinian officials led by President Mahmoud Abbas from going to the United Nations in September to seek statehood. Statehood was promised to the Palestinians by the UN back in 1947 when the Palestine territory was partitioned to make way for the state of Israel alongside it.

1967 borders and the borders of today

The day after Obama’s Arab Spring speech, Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that “A peace based on illusions will crash upon the rocks of Middle Eastern reality… I think for peace the Palestinians will have to accept some basic realities.” He said that a return to those borders was impossible because the region had seen “demographic changes”. He argued the 1967 borders were “indefensible.”

Netanyahu’s statement completely destroyed Obama’s second intention. The following day, Nabil Shaath, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said “Of course we will go to the United Nations, especially after Netanyahu used the old pretext that he needs ‘defensible borders’ to keep stealing our land, control the Jordan Valley and create demographic facts on the ground.”

On Sunday, Speaking to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (America’s largest pro-Israel lobby) Obama said that while U.S. support for Israel remains ironclad, we cannot afford to wait decades to achieve peace. The President gave this speech only hours after Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak had approved the construction of 294 new homes in the occupied West Bank and construction began on two thousand others.

Obama was quick to mention Israel faced the threat of attack from Hamas rockets launched from Gaza and that a recent agreement between Hamas and Fatah “poses an enormous obstacle to peace.” Of course he failed to mention the main reason that peace talks are lifeless in the first place: the continued construction of settlements on occupied land.

I liked Obama’s speeches and was in fair agreement with them, but it remains my opinion that the United States will never be able to successfully broker a peace agreement so long as the President remains under the influence of the Pro-Israeli Lobby. A successful negotiator must be able to talk tough and act tough to both sides otherwise no one listens.

Follow Quiet Mike on Twitter: MWeishar

Sometimes I simply get caught up in the emotion of my ranting and say something stupid, or dangerous, or something I’ll regret later. I also might embellish it here and there for flavour. Rants are rants, and therefore don’t always have to be 100% fact-based when dealing with my own prejudiced opinions. I do, however, realize that the correct facts must be there, and that editing is often needed, especially when information needs to get updated. I also realize that my rants don’t always make sense, and can seem biased. Even I don’t always agree with what I write.

I can sometimes be that irascible punk who can’t be wrong but is constantly at odds with everyone else in the room. Sometimes I have to fight to get my point across. Sometimes I can be just as stubborn and annoyingly repetitive as the next guy. Sometimes, I know my attitudes and opinions will be viewed as just plain wrong. I do my best still to at least get the facts straight as I understand them.

For example, unlike some of my colleagues at Forget The Box – and being part Israeli – I am a proud, hardcore, dyed-in-the-wool Zionist. My definition of Zionism, however, differs completely from that of the vast majority of Anti-Zionists.

I know we’re nowhere near perfect, but then, I’ve never heard of a refugee from Israel, either.

I do very strongly believe that the state of Israel has the right to exist, and if she must defend herself in order to continue existing, then that’s what she must do. Peace is always preferable, but if peace is not a given option, because certain dictators don’t like your tiny democracy being in their proverbial backyards, they will not hesitate to attack and teach their peasants to hate and despise those who are in a democracy, partly because of jealousy. Many a despotic leader has taught his citizens lies, utilizing the school systems as well as propaganda campaigns. Many of these lies find their way back into North American and European university campuses, sometimes as slogans,   and are treated as gospel fact.

I find it very hard not to take it personally when somebody tells me that I should have never been born. When someone tells me that my family or ancestry should have been wiped out many generations ago, but someone screwed up. I find that extremely hurtful.

Maybe that isn’t the best example, but it’s something I feel very strongly about. I believe that terrorism in general and especially suicide terrorism is a truly deplorable practice, and I have been the victim of it.

Having said all of this, I believe that those who wish to exclude themselves have every right to. I believe that those who call themselves “Palestinians” should have their own land and country if they desire it. As Theodore Herzl wrote, “If you will it, it is no dream.” While he was talking about the formation of the state of Israel, it may   still be applied to other people who wish to build countries as well.

In conclusion, I still say, as always, “believe what you want to believe, and I’ll do the same and believe what I want to believe.” Beliefs such as these are not worth losing friendships over.

Since Israel’s rebirth in the 1940’s (more so starting in the late 60’s), the Jewish State has always been able to count on the unrelenting support of the United States for military aid and diplomatic aid through the United Nations. In the last four or five years however, that torch has somehow been passed to Stephen Harper’s Conservative Government in Canada.

George Galloway, a former British MP that the Conservative Government tried to ban from entering the country was called a “major financier of the anti-Semitic death cult called Hamas” by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. Galloway for his part was guilty of leading an aid convoy into the Gaza Strip after the short, but deadly Israel/Gaza war. In the governments eyes that made him a supporter of terrorism.

When the Canadian courts found the grounds for his banishment were based solely on political motives, Galloway came to deliver a speech that best sums up Harper’s pro-Israel policy; “It cannot be in Canada’s interest to reduce itself from a country that was admired, respected and even loved in the world, to being no more than an embassy for Benjamin Netanyahu in world affairs”.

George Galloway with his Boxing Gloves

When Israeli forces attacked Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006, Canada was the only country aside from Israel that did not condemn the war. Canada was also the first country to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority after democratic elections in the Gaza Strip brought Hamas to power, (even though the two are separate government entities). After the deadly freedom flotilla attack by the IDF this year in international waters, Prime Minister Harper (who was meeting with Netanyahu at the time) said only that he regretted the loss of life not the attack itself.

In addition to the diplomatic aid being given to Israel, the Harper Government has cut funding to various Palestinian aid organizations as they consider these aid groups to be anti-Israel. The groups include Kairos Welfare Agency, the Canadian Arab Federation and the PHE, the latter two give language lessons to immigrants.

Harper’s Conservative Government has a nasty habit of seeing humanity in black and white, good and evil. Unfortunately for them the world and its inhabitants are much more colorful. Picking a side and sticking to it regardless of the circumstances can be both dangerous and damaging to themselves, their political careers and the people they govern. It may have already cost Canada a seat on the UN Security Council earlier this year.

In all of Mr. Harper’s speeches concerning Israel, he seems to confuse criticism of Israel with Anti-Semitism. I find it irritating when I hear someone cry Anti-Semitism to deflect disapproval of Israeli policies, as if being Jewish itself is infallible. I for one don’t judge a nation by its religion; I judge it by its actions. If I were to be critical of Iran would that make me Anti-Islamic? Perhaps in the eyes of the Ayatollah.

Lovers in a Dangerous Time

One would have to be blind not to see the Israeli atrocities in the last few years (some would say last forty). From the attack on Lebanon, the blockade of Gaza, the invasion of Gaza, the attack on the aid flotilla, the assassinations, the kidnappings, the ongoing construction projects in the occupied territories, the list goes on… all in the name of self-defence? I think not.

It’s appalling to me that my government chooses to run to the defence of a country that only knows offence. I’m not sure what drives Stephen Harper’s foreign policy, but I have a feeling it may be his own religious zeal, similar to that of his mentor George W. Bush. If that is the case we all know Harper won’t be changing his views any time soon which might just be his undoing. Canadians are becoming increasingly aware of Israeli policies and are starting to turn their support toward the Palestinian cause. If Harper isn’t careful they will turn on him as well.

In response to Quiet Mike’s column this past Thursday on Forget The Box, I’m posting two pieces I wrote earlier this year on the same general subject but was waiting to publish.

Aparthied Week

Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed in this column are mine alone and not necessarily shared by other members of Forget The Box or its affiliates. (P.S. I shouldn’t have to put a disclaimer, but then…)

I wasn’t going to post this, but I was recently invited to a protest rally in favour of terrorists and against Israelis. I am part Israeli and I am a victim of a suicide bombing, so, I don’t know, perhaps I’m biased on this matter. I expect it might generate hate mail and I risk my own safety by posting this, but if I don’t, the terrorists might win.

Now, I’m not really allowed to rant about “Aparthied Week.” First of all, the name is a misnomer and a lie. But what do I know. I’ve only lost a few relatives and an ex-girlfriend to these terrorists.

Please forgive me if I take the extreme view on the opposite front. I think giving back the Sinai was a mistake and I’ve known several Lebanese who fled Lebanon as soon as the “occupation” ended. In fact, Lebanon is still occupied by Syria.

As for the gay and lesbian contingent against Israel, at least homosexuals are treated as citizens in Israel, but for someone even accused of it in the rest of the Arab world, it means, well, death. But hey, since Israel is the only European democracy in the middle east, it has many, many detractors. It’s truly amazing what lies these terrorists will cook up these days.

Let me start with a history lesson. In ancient Roman times, Israel was conquered by the Roman empire. Many people were taken as slaves and the Roman soldiers named the land “Palestina” after the philistines who were defeated by the ancient Hebrews according to Scripture. They named the land “Palestina” as an insult.

Fast forward about a thousand years or so and we come to the crusades. Roman Catholic warriors coming to the Holy Land bent on destroying and murdering anything that wasn’t Catholic. At this time in history, Jews who had been exiled from Israel a thousand years earlier, along with followers of the then relatively new religion Islam, treated each other with the respect that brother tribes should, but under the duress of a common enemy bent on rooting them out.

Fast forward another eight hundred years or so and we come to time where Pogroms began and became a regular event, culminating around a hundred and fifty years later in the Holocaust. Yes. The Holocaust was very real and anyone who denies this is a liar, a cheat, or someone who has truly been mislead by liars and cheats.

We must never forget that. Hitler counted on people forgetting about the Ottoman Turkish genocide attempt against Armenia. More recently, the Hutu and the Tutsi tribes of Rwanda. What about the “Ethnic Cleansing” in the Balkans? And we should never forget all those tribes Native to North America that were decimated by white settlers and sociopaths. Did I forget to mention the Aboriginees of Australia, especially the island of Tazmania? No. I understand that nobody is innocent.

But to call it apartheid is a slap in the face of every black man, woman and child in South Africa and for that matter, North America. This seems another terrorist plot from various nations who despise personal freedoms and the right to live free of discrimination.

Of course, Aparthied week is an annual event on college campuses. Reminds me of another organization which started on college campuses in the deep south about a hundred and fifty years ago, they wore white robes and bedsheets to hide their identities. I strongly believe that Aparthied week is at least supported by the KKK and other hate groups.

Mostly, it’s an excuse for anti-semetics and blinded Jewish people alike to start bashing their homeland and usually someone gets badly hurt. Last year it was me who got badly hurt. So please, forgive me for my opinion on the subject. I know, you likely won’t. I will more than likely suffer further at the hands of my readers, if I have any left.

Why I will never boycott a country

I understand the point of boycotting and attacking a company you don’t like. If a company treats its employees in an unethical manner, then maybe I support your endeavour. But boycotting a country is making a statement that you do not like that country or anything associated with it. You want people in that country to starve, suffer, become impoverished and become violent. You want crime to rise out of desperation.

Perhaps you don’t like a country’s politics. That’s fine, but causing people to become unemployed only leads to further suffering and does absolutely nothing to change those politics. Rally all you want in another country, it more than likely will make no difference.

But if you feel that you must boycott a country; follow these simple rules:

Don’t annoy people from said country or who associate themselves with said country with protests, boycotts and threats unless you want to cause undue agitation. If so, be prepared to fight. Of course, you will come across as bigoted, but then, isn’t bigotry the sole true reason for boycotting said country?

Don’t lie about a country you don’t like. Don’t spread lies and rumors. This only makes other people bigoted. It also serves to irritate the people from said country into defending themselves against your onslaught.

Do not commit acts of vandalism or looting against products and the stores that carry those products imported from the country you so despise. This will result in backlashes against you and is a criminal offense against some of your own countrymen.

If you convince enough people to become bigoted against said particular country, you may wish to start a war for the purposes of conquering said country, murdering its population and possibly colonizing the land for the purposes of occupation.

Remember, if you take up arms against a country, said country will do what it must in order to defend itself and rightly so.

If your military is superior to their military, congratulations, you’ve just started a war and a military coup. You are now a dictator.

If your military is inferior to their military, you’ve just committed suicide.

You might wish to root out all members with ancestry in said country. Make sure to commit your genocide efficiently, quickly and in a way that the rest of the world will not stop you in doing so.

Perhaps you merely wish to oppress and repress the freedoms of the people in a certain country. Perhaps you believe there isn’t any freedom in said country. Depending on the current politics of said country, you could be right, or you could be wrong.

Chances are you simply wish to support your own local economy. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as you do it in a peaceful, ethical manner.


You are no better than the people you are hurting by boycotting that country.

Congratulations. You are no better than all those other “human” creatures. The world would truly be a far better place without them.

Many people in the western world look at the conflicts between Israel and Palestine as a religious war that has been raging for centuries and feel nothing but apathy, after all why should anyone care who slays who when they’ve been killing each other for so long.

Israel and occupied territories

The truth is, it’s not about religion anymore and hasn’t been for quite a while now   Since the 1967 six day war, Israel has controlled and occupied to one degree or another the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and East Jerusalem.   Mostly as they say for security purposes.

More than four decades have passed since that war and not much has changed.   A couple of peace treaties with two of its neighbors Egypt and Jordan have been positive.   On the other hand, forty years of occupation and limited Israeli offensives have given rise to armed resistance groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas who rely on terrorist tactics as they are unable to match the might of the Israeli military. Hezbollah and Hamas have since gained power through politics.

The vast majority of the masses around the world are ignorant to the fact that Israel has never wanted peace.   The façade has always been there, but the motivation has not.   Going as far back as the seventies, Israel has rejected time and time again peace terms with the current borders of the time and before the two intifadas.

Israel has more UN Resolutions against it than any other country; more than forty (see the list here).   This count would be twice as high if the United States did not continually use its veto power on the UN Security Council to protect its interests.   After going through these lists it’s hard to imagine this country ever wanting peace.   It has always been about expansion and keeping the Palestinians in line.

Throughout the past few decades, Israel has carried out countless raids, bombings, assassinations and cross-border kidnappings.   There have been over 750 000 Palestinians that have passed through Israeli prisons since 1967, about 1/5 of their total population.   Nine thousand remain including about three hundred children.   Many have never been charged with a crime.

Israel has also relentlessly been building Jewish settlements over the years in the occupied territories.   These settlements deemed illegal by the international community have continued off and on throughout the occupation and most peace negotiations, making it hard for any credible consensus to arrive between the two territories and Israel.   Building in East Jerusalem has been particularly constant.

The Great Wall… Of Israel

In 2006, Israel started construction of the West Bank barrier, an illegal wall boarding off the entire west bank to prevent “terrorists” from entering into Israeli territory.   It remains illegal largely due to the fact that the wall route substantially deviates into the occupied territories thereby annexing more land for Israel.

In that same year, Hamas came to power through democratic elections.   Although the elections were monitored and fair many countries, mostly allies of Israel, did not recognize the results and infighting soon started with rival faction Fatah.   Hamas soon overthrew Fatah in the Gaza Strip and Hamas members were dismissed from the PNA government in the West Bank in response.

With Hamas gaining de facto control of Gaza, Israel started its blockade of the whole strip in 2007, effectively turning the whole territory into a giant prison and remember it all started with a fair democratic election.   In 2008 a coalition of human rights groups stated that the blockade of the territory had caused the humanitarian conditions in Gaza to have reached its worst point since the 1967 Six-Day War… then came another war.

The end result of the 2009 Israeli military offensive

With Hamas firing rockets into Israel in retaliation for military excursions and the blockade, Israel launched a military offensive that wound up killing over a thousand people, destroying four thousand buildings and damaging twenty thousand more.   When the troops withdrew, the blockade stayed intact with few supplies getting in to rebuild and treat the sick.   In fact, most people had to use mud and wood to rebuild their home because concrete is banned as it can be used to make bunkers.

Now, after reading all this (and there is plenty more examples) is there anyone out there that isn’t a Zionist that is surprised that a rogue state like Israel with mandatory military service, a three billion dollar check each year from the United States and a history of censoring reporters and activists had the IDF raided the peace flotilla in international waters killing about ten people and injuring dozens?   Israel has always done what it pleases and with the help of the United States no less.

I might be Jewish, but I’ll never be an Israelite.

Activists on a ship in the Freedom Flotilla
Activists on a ship in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla

Sites of interest: