Benjamin Weinthal: Europe Will Never Forgive Israel For The Holocaust

Source: Jewish Press, 6-30-10

As an Israeli psychoanalyst once noted with bitter irony, the Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz. The corollary to this observation is that Europeans will never forgive the Israelis and the Jews for Auschwitz.   How can one explain the latest outbreak of European loathing for the Jewish state after it intercepted a flotilla heading for Gaza in open violation of a naval blockade? The widespread condemnation Europeans have expressed toward Israel after its commandos boarded the so-called peace flotilla on May 31 – and used force only when threatened with death – signals a desire to turn every Israeli action of self-defense into absolution for the crimes of the Holocaust.   While the European Union and the UN Human Rights Council somehow manage to contain their displeasure over brutal human rights violations in Libya, Iran, Turkey, China and Russia, both organizations reacted in their standard Pavlovian way to Israel’s justified measures of self-defense aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara.   The UN Human Rights Council – chaired by none other than Colonel Khaddafi’s government – issued a resolution condemning Israel. Meanwhile, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom blasted Israel’s “disproportionate” response, and their handmaidens in the European media turned Israel into a punching bag.   The Europeans’ vicious attacks on Israel are animated less by the Jewish state’s foreign policy than by Europe’s ongoing fixation on the Holocaust. What else could explain the presence of posters equating Israel with Nazi Germany at pro-Hamas demonstrations in Vienna? According to one recent German university study, 45.7 percent of the European respondents supported the contention that “Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians.” Advertisement

// In their eyes, apparently, maintaining a naval blockade against a government sworn to destroy you – while providing the unfortunate people living under that government with tens of thousands of tons of supplies and humanitarian aid – now equates to looting and butchering six million people….READ MORE

Israel Rules Out Palestinian State by 2012

Source: NYT, 6-29-10

In remarks that could further strain peace efforts, Israel’s foreign minister said on Tuesday there was no chance a Palestinian state would be established in the next two years.

“I’m an optimistic person, but there is absolutely no chance of reaching a Palestinian state by 2012,” the foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said. “One can dream and imagine, but we are far from reaching understandings and an agreement.”

Mr. Lieberman, known for his hawkish views, spoke at a joint news conference in Jerusalem with Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister.

Russia is part of the so-called Middle East quartet, which also includes the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, and which has called for a peace accord by 2012. George J. Mitchell, President Obama’s special representative to the region, was to arrive in Israel later on Tuesday….READ MORE

Shalit family, supporters begin cross-country march

Source: JTA, 6-27-10

The family of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and thousands of supporters began a protest march to mark the four years of his captivity.

Under the slogan “Gilad is still alive,” at least 2,000 supporters on Sunday joined Shalit’s family on a march from northern Israel to Jerusalem, a 120-mile walk that is expected to take about 12 days. The march, which left from the family’s home in Mitzpe Hila near the Lebanese border, will make stops in sites significant to the family.

On Sunday afternoon, the march stopped at the high school Shalit attended in Kibbutz Cabri.

In Jerusalem, the family will sit in a protest tent erected across from the Prime Minister’s Office.

“We have waited four years and Gilad is still waiting — those who sent him there must bring him home,” Noam Shalit, Gilad’s father, said as the march set off.

Shalit was captured in a cross-border raid on June 25, 2006 and is believed being held by Hamas in Gaza. Hamas has said it is waiting for hundreds of prisoners to be released to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, as well as other Arab countries, including prisoners directly responsible for the deaths of Israelis, before it will release Shalit.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Noam Shalit before the march began and invited him to meet when the march reaches Jerusalem.

“Friday marked the fourth anniversary of the abduction of Gilad Shalit,” Netanyahu said Sunday before the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “The government and the security services are continuing to make constant and varied – open and secret – efforts to bring Gilad Shalit back home safe and sound.”

He added “Our heart is with Gilad and with his family. Four years after his abduction, I call on the international community to line up alongside the State of Israel and our unequivocal and just demand that our abducted soldier be returned immediately.”

Michael Oren: Gilad Shalit: Hostage of Hamas

The struggle to bring the soldier home has become a national passion for Israelis.

Source: WSJ, 6-25-10

In a small Jerusalem café, I sat with Noam Shalit and tried to discuss his son, Gilad. I say tried because each time Noam, a soft-spoken, bespectacled man, began a sentence, the owner of the café rushed over with complimentary plates of humus, salads and desserts. Passersby, glimpsing Noam through the window, burst inside to embrace him. “We are with you,” they cried. “We will get our Gilad home.”

That our is the key to understanding the devotion that Israelis feel for Gilad Shalit. The Israel Defense Forces is a citizens’ army in which most young men serve for a minimum of three years, followed by several decades of reserve duty. Young women serve for at least two. Our soldiers are literally our parents, our siblings, our children. Israel is also a small country with few if any degrees of separation between families. Even those who have never met the Shalits know someone who has. And all of us have loved ones—a brother, a son—who could suffer the same ordeal that Gilad began four years ago today.

Early on the morning of June 25, 2006, Hamas terrorists—using a tunnel secretly excavated during a cease-fire with Israel—infiltrated across the Gaza border and attacked an IDF base. Firing rocket grenades and automatic weapons, they killed two soldiers—Lt. Hanan Barak and Sgt. Pavel Slutzker, both 20—and kidnapped the 19-year-old corporal, Gilad Shalit. The IDF promptly launched a massive manhunt in Gaza, suffering an additional five fatalities, but failed to find the abductors. Hamas, meanwhile, demanded that Israel release more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, most of them convicted terrorists, in exchange for Gilad’s freedom….READ MORE

Israelis demonstrate en masse to mark 4 years since Shalit capture

Human Rights Watch urges Hamas to give Red Cross access to abducted soldier; Shalit family: We’ll protest in Jerusalem until Gilad is free.

Source: Haaretz, 6-25-10

Thousands of Israelis demonstrated across the country on Friday to mark four years since Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit was captured by Palestinian militants in a cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip.

Some 600 people marched down the main thoroughfare in the Galilee city of Nahariyah, while another 250 staged a protest outside the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Gilad Shalit rally in Tel Aviv Rally urging the release of Gilad Shalit in Tel Aviv, June 25, 2010.
Photo by: Motti Milrod

A convoy of motorcyclists was also to spread out to the embassies of each of the United Nations permanent Security Council members, urging the international states to pressure Hamas for Shalit’s release.

The Haifa municipality has planned a mass vigil for the evening, when demonstrators will unleash 6,000 balloons to commemorate the soldier’s capture. Another demonstration was planned outside of the International Red Cross’s office in Israel.

Gilad Shalit activist during a rally urging the release of the IDF  soldier in Bucharest, Romania, June 23, 2010.
Gilad Shalit activist during a rally urging the release of the IDF soldier in Bucharest, Romania, June 23, 2010. Reuters

// The Shalit family will begin on Sunday a march to Jerusalem, where the plan to demonstrate outside of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence – embarking on a quest they say will end only with Gilad’s return.

“This time it’s different,” says Noam Shalit, Gilad’s father. “We’ve said we would not allow another year to pass without Gilad, and that is what we intend to do this time. We won’t go home without Gilad.”
It is not clear how long the Shalit family and the activists campaigning for his release will have to camp in protest opposite the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem until he decides to bring Gilad home. It is clear that the battle will be hard and long, and that public opinion will play a key role in the outcome.
An international human rights organization called Friday on the Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip to allow Shalit to communicate with his family and to receive visits from the International Red Cross.

In a statement issued to mark four years Shalit’s capture, Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Hamas of “violating the laws of war” and said the Islamist organization’s “prolonged incommunicado detention of Shalit is cruel and inhuman and may amount to torture.”

Shalit was snatched on June 25, 2006. Hamas, which is holding him, has released only three letters from him, an audio recording, and a video recording.

The Islamist movement has refused requests by the Red Cross and by HRW to visit the captive, saying that to do so could reveal to Israel where he was being held.

“The laws of war prohibit cruel and inhuman treatment of persons in custody. They also require a party to a conflict to permit persons deprived of their liberty to correspond with their families and not to refuse arbitrarily a request by the ICRC to visit detainees,” the HRW statement said.

Hamas is demanding the release of hundreds of Palestinians in return for Shalit. Attempts to organize a prisoner swap, conducted through Egyptian, and then German, mediation, have so far failed.

Senior Hamas official Mahmoud a-Zahar told Israel Radio on Friday morning that his organization cut ties six months ago with the German official mediating the swap, and have not renewed the contacts since.

He said the mediator would return to the region when there was a new exchange proposal on the table.

According to Zahar, Israel had backed down from previous agreements on the matter, and the impasse in the swap talks was due to Israel’s refusal to free several prisoners whose release Hamas demands, and on its insistence that freed Hamas prisoners from the West Bank be exiled to the Gaza Strip.

He added that he had no idea of Shalit’s current condition, and did not even know if the soldier was still being held in the enclave.

Hundreds take part in NY Shalit flotilla

Source: YNetNews, 6-24-10

Two ships carrying some 1,200 passengers set sail to Statue of Liberty, UN headquarters on ‘True Freedom Flotilla’ for captive soldier’s release

Israelis are preparing for a march for Gilad Shalit, starting next week, but New Yorkers have already set sail in a call for his release. The “True Freedom Flotilla” for the captive soldier set sail on Thursday from Pier 40 on the Hudson River, en route to the Statue of Liberty and then to the United Nations building. The sail includes two vessels, each carrying 600 people.

The passengers include Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev, New York Consul-General Asaf Shariv, France’s deputy consul and a representative of the International Red Cross, who is slated to receive from Shalev a package meant for Gilad Shalit, containing undergarments, a pair of glasses and food.

French Support
Paris rally: Free Gilad Shalit / Gilad Halpern
About 10,000 people attend protest marking fourth anniversary of Gilad Shalit’s abduction
Full Story

The event was organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella group of 51 organizations throughout the United States.

The conference’s Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein noted that the Red Cross was prevented from seeing Gilad Shalit just last week, while Israel allows some 15,000 to 18,000 tons of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip each week.

‘True Freedom Flotilla’ for Gilad Shalit on Thursday (Photo: Ilan Klein)

The flotilla’s goal is to secure Shalit’s release from Hamas captivity, or at least pressure the organization into allowing Red Cross representatives to visit the soldier…. READ MORE

Iranian Gaza aid ship won’t sail due to ‘Israeli threats’

Iran flotilla organizers note Israel sees vessels from Iran, Lebanon as ‘sign of war’. Iranian MP: Different boat to sail next weekSource: YNetNews, 6-24-10

An Iranian organization announced Thursday evening that the vessel carrying aid to the Gaza Strip, which was to have started its journey on Sunday from Iran, will not set sail. An Iranian member of parliament said a different boat, carrying four Iranian lawmakers and many other Iranians would set off from Turkey instead.

The secretary general of an Iranian organization supporting Palestinians, Hussein Sheikh el-Islam, said during a press conference that the main reason for the cancellation was “the violent and inhuman attitude of the Zionist regime to humanitarian aid.” The vessel’s intended voyage was originally announced by the Iranian Red Crescent.

Gearing Up
Preparing for flotillas like on eve of war / Ron Ben-Yishai
IDF examining ways of improving non-violent siege-enforcement methods ahead of next aid sails to Gaza while political rank holds frequent status evaluation meetings, which some say are unnecessary
Full Story

“The vessel was supposed to leave for Gaza on Thursday, but because of hurdles put up by the Zionist regime regarding the impossibility of getting some of the goods (into the Strip), it was decided to postpone the departure to Sunday, but now this too will not happen,” Sheikh el-Islam was quoted by the Iranian news agency IRNA.

Israel sent a letter to the UN announcing that the arrival of vessels from Lebanon and Iran to the Gaza area would be a sign of war and it would act against them,” he added….READ MORE

New York Jews sail ‘True Freedom Flotilla’ for Gilad Shalit

New York’s Jewish community marks four years since the abduction of the Israeli soldier by Gaza militants.

Source: Haaretz, 6-24-10

New York’s Jewish community was set to mark four years since the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Gaza militants with what they call the “True Freedom Flotilla.”

Poster of Gilad Shalit in Bucharest An Israeli living in Romania writing a message calling for the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit on a billboard in Bucharest on June 23, 2010
Photo by: Reuters

The name chosen for the event echoes the name of a recent 8-ship flotilla that sailed from Turkey toward Gaza to break the Israeli blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory, which was named the Freedom Flotilla.

The flotilla was to encircle the Statue of Liberty and then sail to United Nations building.

The two-hour event was to involve seven vessels: The Queen of Hearts which can hold up to 600 passengers, another smaller boat and five privately owned yachts.

The flotilla was organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella group of American Jewish organizations. Israel’s mission to the UN has also joined the initiative, as did Israel’s Consulate General in New York.

Boats were scheduled to move north on the East River at 12:00 noon New York time on Thursday, June 24th from Houston Street and West Side Highway. The flotilla can be viewed from the East River Esplanade. Entrance to the Esplanade is on the east side of First Avenue at 34th, 35th or 37th Streets.

“For four years, Hamas has denied Gilad Shalit the most basic rights, including visits by international organizations,” Israel’s ambassador to the UN said on Thursday, adding that this was both illegal and immoral.

Joel Lion, the Spokesperson and Consul for Media Affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York, has put together a package full of clothing and food which was to be handed to a Red Cross representative to be brought to Shalit though the organization’s international channels.

UN may put forward int’l flotilla probe

Source: Jerusalem Post, 6-17-10

UN  may put forward int'l flotilla probe
Photo by: Moshe Milner

Ban proposes investigation despite establishment of Terkel Committee.

Israel responded coolly Wednesday to indications that despite the establishment of the Terkel Committee to investigate the Gaza flotilla, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was still considering the establishment of an international panel to look into the May 31 IDF raid.

Ban’s office proposed the idea at a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday, and a spokesperson in his office said the office was currently involved in talks to determine the potential leadership of such a commission.

Editorial: Terkel’s imperative

Both Israel and Turkey would be encouraged to actively participate in the panel, representatives of Ban’s office said Wednesday.

“The secretary-general is in discussions with different parties to see whether an inquiry with credible international involvement can be accepted by all,” the spokesperson said.

A senior Israeli official noted that Ban did not make any recommendation, but that this was only a “proposal.”

“Israel believes that our investigations meet the highest international standards of impartiality, comprehensiveness, transparency and professionalism,” the official said…. READ MORE

Israelis Support Netanyahu Charging Hypocrisy on Gaza

Source: Bloomberg, 6-4-10

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unequivocal when he addressed the nation on the night of June 2 about the Gaza ship raid: “Israel faces hypocrisy and a biased rush to judgment.”

His message that Israel was exercising its right to self- defense when naval forces boarded an aid flotilla, an operation that left nine pro-Palestinian activists on one ship dead, resonated with Nechama Perelman, a 23-year-old tax adviser.

“There is no need to apologize,” Perelman said while nursing her baby in the Jerusalem Mall the next day. “The army didn’t set out to kill people. It’s easy to judge from far away, and I don’t believe that anything we do will help us be loved by the world.”

A poll of Israel’s Jewish population by the Maariv daily published on June 2 found 94.4 percent of respondents agreed it was necessary to stop the vessel, and 89.1 percent said Netanyahu shouldn’t resign over the matter. The opposition Kadima party has supported the government on the issue, and Netanyahu’s coalition has shown no signs of strain over the incident.

These Israeli views illustrate the gap between how the Gaza flotilla confrontation is perceived at home and abroad….READ MORE

Gaza Flotilla: Pressure Mounts on Israel as Activists Vow to Test Blockade Again

Source: NYT, 6-1-10

Jim Hollander/European Pressphoto Agency

Israeli Army officers in Ashdod stood near a container truck with materials seized from ships that Israeli raided early Monday as they approached Gaza. More Photos »

Israel faced rising international pressure on Tuesday to ease its blockade of Gaza, as the United Nations Security Council called its approach to isolating the coastal strip “not sustainable” and pro-Palestinian groups planned fresh attempts to test the closing of sea lanes around the Hamas-controlled territory.

Palestinians showed identification on Tuesday as they headed toward the newly opened border crossing to Egypt from Gaza. Egypt said it was opening the border for humanitarian reasons. More Photos »

A day after an Israel military raid on an international flotilla trying to breach the blockade left nine foreign activists dead, Egypt, an important partner for Israel in keeping tight control over the flow of goods into the territory, said it would open the land border with Gaza for humanitarian purposes.

Israel’s relations with Turkey, once relatively close, also came under heavy strain. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey called the raid on the Turkish ship, which killed at least four Turkish citizens, a “bloody massacre” and said Israel should immediately end “the inhumane embargo on Gaza.”

At the same time, the volatile Israel-Gaza border seemed to be heating up. Israeli soldiers killed two gunmen from the Islamic Jihad who had infiltrated Israel early Tuesday. Later in the day, the Israeli air force struck a group of militants in northern Gaza who were preparing to fire rockets at Israel, killing three….READ MORE

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