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August 7, 2010

Freedom Flotilla Coalition Meets in Stockholm Next Flotilla on its Way Back to Gaza

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Stockholm, August 4, 2010) It has been over two months since Israel’s 31 May 2010 deadly assault on the Freedom Flotilla and little to nothing has been done to hold Israel accountable for its savage attack that led to the killing of nine of our colleagues, or to end Israel’s continued violations against the Palestinian people, especially the 1.5 million residents of Gaza. Therefore, we are continuing our global, grassroots effort to stand up to Israel’s ongoing intransigence, including planning our next direct action, plans to enlarge our coalition to include groups from around the world who want to join us, as well as intensify our efforts to mobilize for the new Freedom Flotilla 2.

The world must continue to demand that Israel cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council’s investigation committee to ensure independence, thoroughness, credibility, and justice for the victims.

We have real concerns with the new UN panel tasked by Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to investigate Israel’s raid. as an apparent attempt to downgrade the UN Human Rights Council’s investigation, which Israel has yet to accept. The Secretary General’s new panel will have a very limited mandate of evaluating only current national investigations by Israel and Turkey, and therefore will hardly meet international standards for being impartial, and thorough.

Moreover, the appointment of ex-Colombian President Alvaro Uribe as its vice-chair further corrodes the legitimacy of this UN panel. Not only is the Uribe government on record stating a desire to strengthen Colombia’s military relationship with Israel, but President Uribe’s own human rights record in Columbia should be a matter for investigation as evidenced by the report from the Fellowship of Reconciliation. http://forusa.org/content/report-military-assistance-human-rights-colombia-us-accountability-global-implications.

The United Nations must not be involved in any attempt to whitewash atrocities or to preempt international legal action on behalf of the victims of the flotilla. Israel’s alleged easing of the closure on Gaza has been purely cosmetic, intended only to deflect criticism from its illegal policies. Expanding the list of items permitted into Gaza does not address the most fundamental concern of the people there – freedom of movement. Hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children are still denied the right to travel freely for medical care, educational opportunities, or even to reunite with family members in other parts of the occupied Palestinian territory. What we demand is an immediate and complete lifting of the closure including a lifting of the travel ban as well as the ban on exports from Gaza. We also demand that Israel release, unconditionally, our captured vessels and stolen equipment.

Israel and our respective governments must know that we represent a growing movement of international civilians unwilling to stand idly by while Israel continues to act with impunity — killing, maiming, jailing, stealing, and assaulting the very basics of our common humanity. Israel has not only deliberately created a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but it has created a crisis of human rights and human dignity in all of Palestine that the world must address.

This is why our flotilla aimed to challenge the very policies that have left Palestinians in need of humanitarian aid, and not just to deliver essential goods to Gaza. It is why, in the coming months, we will send larger and larger flotillas to Gaza.


Contact: Huwaida Arraf 970-598-336-215, 972 54 881 7046

Mattias Gardell: +46 703036666

Dror Feiler: +46 702855777

Greta Berlin, +33 607 374 512

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Interview with Norman Finkelstein

Will The NY Times Ever Retract Michael Oren’s Falsehoods?

Michael Oren makes stuff up. But the NY Times doesn't have to publish it.

On 06.26.10, By Max Blumenthal

Nearly a month after publishing Israeli Ambassador the US Michael Oren’s apologia for the flotilla massacre, the NY Times has yet to correct two of the most glaring lies Oren made. The first of Oren’s deceptions was his assertion that “religious extremists embedded among those on board were paid and equipped to attack Israelis.”

The notion that al-Qaeda affiliated mercenaries were on board the Mavi Marmara was discredited as soon as the IDF Spokesman’s Office changed a headline on a press release about terrorist “mercenaries” to read, “Attackers of the IDF Found Without Identification Papers.” The headline was quietly altered on June 3, the same day the Times published Oren’s op-ed. Shouldn’t their fact checkers and editors been better informed?

The second of Oren’s lies was at least as ludicrous as his first. He wrote:

Also found on the boat were propaganda clips showing passengers “injured” by Israeli forces; these videos, however, were filmed during daylight, hours before the nighttime operation occurred.

If this was true, then where were the clips? Why hasn’t the IDF released any footage to support Oren’s claim? Probably because such clips do not exist anywhere. As far as I can tell, they were never on the website of the IDF Spokesman’s Office or the Israeli Foreign Ministry. The footage is not even available on YouTube. So where are they? Certainly the IDF would have wanted to publish anything that supported its version of events. But they could not conjure anything to bolster Oren’s bizarre claim (which seemed to suggest that the killing and maiming of flotilla passengers by Israeli commandos was simply “propaganda” and therefore never happened).

Unless Oren or the Israeli military can produce the “propaganda clips” Oren mentioned, the New York Times should be compelled to retract the falsehoods it published. The Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt can be reached at public@nytimes.com or (212) 556-7652

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Do you still remember us ?

All Aboard the Mavi Marmara

David Rovics has written an evocative song called “All Aboard the Mavi Marmara.” The Free Gaza team has added images in tribute to the nine brave men on board who gave their lives in pursuit of justice for the Palestinians.

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