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The Charge of the New York Times or - Baksheesh for the Doorkeeper

By       Message Uri Avnery     Permalink
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A Riddle: Which fleet did not reach its destination, but fulfilled its mission?

Well, it's this year's Gaza solidarity flotilla.

It could be said, of course, that last year's "little fleet" -- that's what the word means in Spanish, much as "guerrilla" means "little war" -- is also a reasonable candidate. It never reached Gaza, but the commander of the Israeli navy could well repeat the words of Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, whose victory over the Romans was so costly that he is said to have exclaimed: "Another such victory, and I am lost!"

Flotilla 1 did not reach Gaza. But the naval commando attack on it, which cost the lives of nine Turkish activists, aroused such an outcry that our government saw itself compelled to loosen its land blockade of the Gaza Strip significantly.

The repercussions of this action have not yet died down. The very important relations between the Israeli and Turkish militaries are still ruptured, with Turkey demanding an apology and indemnities. The victims' families are pursuing criminal and civil proceedings in several countries. An ongoing headache.

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Flotilla 2 reached its end this week, when a huge naval action led to the capture of 1 (one!) little French yacht and the detention of its sailors, journalists and activists --all 16 (sixteen) of them. Even our tame broadcasters could not help themselves from sneering: "Why didn't they send an aircraft carrier?"

The 14 boats that were prevented from sailing, and the one that did sail, not only kept our entire navy on alert for weeks, but also helped to keep the Gaza blockade in the news. And that, after all, was the whole point of the exercise.

WHAT HAPPENED to the 14 boats which did not sail?

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Incredible as it sounds, the Greek navy and Coast Guard forcibly prevented them from leaving Greek ports. There existed no lawful grounds for this, nor was there any pretense of legality.

It would be no exaggeration to say that the Greek navy was acting under orders from the Israeli Chief of Staff. A proud sea-faring nation with a nautical history of thousands of years ("nautical" even happens to be a Greek word) degraded itself to perform illegal actions to please Israel.

It also ignored acts of sabotage carried out by naval commandos -- guess whose - against the boats in Greek harbors.

At the same time, the Turkish government, the defiant sponsor of the Mavi Marmara, the ship on which the Turkish activists were killed last year, prevented the same ship from sailing this year.

Also at the same time, groups of pro-Palestinian activists who tried to reach the West Bank by air were stopped on their way. Since there is no direct access to the West Bank by land, sea or air except through Israeli territory or Israeli checkpoints, they had to travel via Ben-Gurion International Airport, Israel's gateway to the world. Most did not make it: under instructions from our government, all international airlines blocked these passengers at check-in, using "blacklists" provided by our government.

It seems that the long arm of our diligent security service reaches everywhere, and that its orders are obeyed by countries large and small.

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A HUNDRED years ago, the secret police of the Russian Czar, the dreaded "Okhrana," forged a document called "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

(In those times, the secret police everywhere was still called Secret Police, before being dignified as "Security Services.")

The document reported a secret meeting of rabbis in the old Jewish cemetery of Prague, to decide upon strategy to secure Jewish rule over the world. It was a crude falsification, which lifted entire passages verbatim from a novel written decades earlier.

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Uri Avnery is a longtime Israeli peace activist. Since 1948 has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In 1974, Uri Avnery was the first Israeli to establish contact with PLO leadership. In 1982 he was the first Israeli ever to meet Yassir Arafat, after crossing the lines in besieged Beirut. He served three terms in the (more...)
 

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