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Home arrow Blog arrow May 2010 arrow June 1, 2010: Obama's Timidity, Failed Policies and more

June 1, 2010: Obama's Timidity, Failed Policies and more
June 1, 2010: Obama's Timidity, Failed Policies and much more  

Flotilla Attack the Deadly Symptom of a Failed Policy

 

Brussels/Washington/Jerusalem  

 

The International Crisis Group condemns Israel’s assault on a flotilla of humanitarian aid bound for Gaza, which resulted in a tragic loss of life.

 

At the same time, the incident is an indictment of a much broader policy toward Gaza for which Israel does not bear sole responsibility.

 

For years, many in the international community have been complicit in a policy that aimed at isolating Gaza in the hope of weakening Hamas. This policy is morally appalling and politically self-defeating. It has harmed the people of Gaza without loosening Hamas's control. Yet it has persisted regardless of evident failure.

 

“The flotilla assault is but a symptom of an approach that has been implicitly endorsed by many”, says Robert Malley, Director of Crisis Group’s Middle East Program. “It is yet another stark illustration of the belated need for a comprehensive change in policy toward Gaza.”

 

International condemnation and calls for an inquiry will come easily, but many who will issue them must acknowledge their own role in the deplorable treatment of Gaza that formed the backdrop to today’s events. The policy of isolating Gaza, seeking to turn its population against Hamas, and endorsing a "West Bank first" approach was not an exclusively Israeli one.

 

To focus on this recent tragedy alone is to miss the much wider and more important political lessons.

 

The policy toward Gaza is in need of thorough re-examination.

 

The US, EU and Quartet as a whole have been calling for relaxing the siege on Gaza. That is welcome, but opening the humanitarian tap is not an appropriate answer to a policy whose fundamental premise is morally callous and politically counter-productive. Instead, Gaza should be open to normal commercial traffic with adequate international end-use monitoring.

 

“Today, we have witnessed the sad outgrowth of a failed and dangerous policy”, says Louise Arbour, Crisis Group President. “One hopes it can provide an opportunity for a long-overdue course correction.”

 

 


 





Amy Goodman’s Guests:


Adam Shapiro, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement and a board member of the Free Gaza Movement.


Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.


Richard Falk, United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories.


Amira Hass, columnist with Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper and the only Israeli journalist to have spent several years living in and reporting from Gaza and the West Bank.

 

 BOLD MINE:


AMY GOODMAN: We’ve been here in Louisiana going through southern Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta since last Friday, and our intention today was to bring you a special for the hour, but because of events in the Middle East, we are switching gears. And we’ll bring you many of the voices, we’ll introduce you to many of the people we met, in the coming days. Right now we turn, though, to the Middle East. Anjali?



ANJALI KAMAT: That’s right, Amy. We turn now to the Middle East. It was early Monday morning as Israeli soldiers stormed the Gaza-bound international aid convoy called the Freedom Flotilla in international waters about forty miles off the coast of Gaza. The six ships had nearly 700 international activists on board and 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid. They were aiming to break the three-year-long siege of the Gaza Strip.



Israeli commandos landed on the lead ship in the convoy, the Turkish Mavi Marmara, which had about 600 activists on board. These are excerpts from the raw video captured by an Al Jazeera producer on the ship minutes before the ship lost satellite contact with the world. It features two of the journalists on board.




HASSAN GHANI: This is the MV Marmara. This is Hassan Ghani reporting for Press TV. We have had several injuries here. One is critical. He has been injured in the head. We think he may die if he does not receive medical treatment immediately. Another person being taken past in front of me right now has been seriously injured. We are being hit by tear gas, stun grenades. We have navy ships on either side and helicopters overhead. We are being attacked from every single side. This is in international waters, not Israeli waters, not in the sixty-eight-mile exclusion zone. We are being attacked in international waters, completely illegally.



JAMAL ELSHAYYAL: To confirm and update you, the Israeli navy has now boarded the Mavi Marmara, where 600 civilians have been trying to deliver aid to Gaza. Live munition has been fired. There are reports that one person has been killed. Several, I have seen with my eyes, have been injured. We’ve seen them. Doctors trying to work to heal the injured. The organizers onboard the Mavi Marmara, after two people have been confirmed killed by the Israeli army, have now asked all the passengers to go inside. They’ve raised the white flag, this after Israeli commandos descended upon the ship in international water from a helicopter, as well as surrounded it by vessels from all sides. Tens of people, civilians, have been injured. There are still sounds of live fire, despite the white flag being raised. Tens of people have been injured, two people have been killed, onboard the ship which holds 600 activists, parliamentarians, women, children and the elderly, all of whom are civilians. Organizers have asked everyone to go inside, so this is where we shall head. Jamal Elshayyal, Al Jazeera, onboard the Mavi Marmara in the international waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

 

ANJALI KAMAT: That was the last bits of video from an Al Jazeera producer onboard the Mavi Marmara before losing satellite contact with the world early Monday morning. At least ten and as many, according to some reports, as nineteen civilians onboard the ship have been reported to have died in the attack. There has been a near-complete blackout of information.



Israeli troops proceeded to seize the Mavi Marmara and the five other ships and take them to the port of Ashdod. Hundreds of activists are being detained in an Israeli prison, and nearly fifty others have been deported. Israel has still not released the names of the dead, the injured, and the detained international civilians.



Three Turkish activists who were deported back to Istanbul late Monday night spoke to journalists. This is Mutlu Tiryaki described the ordeal onboard the Mavi Marmara.



MUTLU TIRYAKI: [translated] When we stepped on the board, they emerged from helicopters and military boats and attacked us. They approached our vessel with military ships after issuing a military warning. We told them we were unarmed. Our sole weapon was water.

 

ANJALI KAMAT: The United Nations Security Council has condemned the attack and called for the immediate release of the ships and the civilians held by Israel and also called for an impartial investigation. All of the permanent member of the Security Council except for the United States explicitly called for Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip to be lifted.



Turkey has compared Israel’s actions to state terrorism. At the emergency Security Council meeting Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu described the incident as murder and piracy.

AHMET DAVUTOGLU: This action was uncalled for. Israeli actions constitute a grave breach of international law. In simplest terms, this is tantamount to banditry and piracy. It is murder conducted by a state. It has no excuses, no justification whatsoever. A nation state that follows this path has lost its legitimacy as a respectful member of the international community.

 

AMY GOODMAN: But Israel insists that its troops had acted in self-defense after being attacked by those onboard. Israel’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, Daniel Carmon, said the civilians on the ship were not peace activists.



DANIEL CARMON: What kind of peace activists use knives, clubs, fire from weapons stolen from soldiers and other weapons to attack soldiers who boarded the ship in accordance with international law? What kind of humanitarian activists, some with known terrorist history, embrace Hamas, a terrorist organization that openly shuns a two-state solution and calls for Israel’s destruction, defying conditions set by the international community and the Quartet? The answer is clear: there are not peace activists.

 

AMY GOODMAN: Although governments across the world have strongly condemned Israel’s attack, the United States says it’s still gathering the facts and regrets the loss of life. This is the US deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, Alejandro Wolff.



ALEJANDRO WOLFF: We are working to ascertain the facts. We expect a credible and transparent investigation and strongly urge the Israeli government to investigate the incident fully. As I stated in the council chamber in December 2008, when we were confronted with a similar situation, mechanisms exist for the transfer of humanitarian assistance to Gaza by member states and groups that want to do so. These non-provocative and non-confrontational mechanisms should be the ones used for the benefit of all those in Gaza.

 

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, thousands of people in cities across the world, from Turkey to Europe to the United States to Pakistan, have come out on the streets to protest the bloody attack on the humanitarian aid convoy.



PROTESTER: [translated] This is totally inhumane. None can defend this inhumane violence.

PROTESTERS: Free, free Gaza! Free, free Gaza! Stop Israeli war crimes!

PROTESTER: I’m here today because I’m an American Jew and I totally am opposed to what Israel is doing. Killing those people on the boat who were trying to bring material aid to a starving, imprisoned people is an insane crime, and it doesn’t represent the values of Jews and all people around the world.

PROTESTER: [translated] The truth is that Israel is not the only one responsible. All the official Arab regimes are responsible for this crime. Obama is responsible. The international community is responsible. The International Criminal Court, they became responsible when they remained silent about the crimes being committed against the people of Gaza.

PROTESTER: Continuously breaking international law, and it has never lived up to any United Nation resolution. And we have seen a lot of times that both the European Union and the United States have told Israel that they went too far.

PROTESTER: [translated] It depends on people. We have to force our governments to react. We have to force Europe to react, because this is a humiliation to Europe. A cocky mobster who dares to do what Israel has done in the Mediterranean, in international waters—what kind of security do we have in the Mediterranean? That’s the question we should ask ourselves.

PROTESTER: I know the people onboard. They are people from all walks of life. There are teachers. There are professors. There are journalists. There are politicians. There are cleaners. These are people like you and me who believe in taking aid to poor people. And these are the people that are being gunned down in cold blood by Israel today.

 

AMY GOODMAN: Voices of shock and outrage from around the world over the Israeli commando attack on the Gaza peace flotilla. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, the War and Peace Report. When we come back, we’ll be joined by a number of guests. Stay with us.



AMY GOODMAN: We’re in New Orleans, Louisiana, here to cover BP and the geyser that continues to gush from the bottom of the sea. But because of events in the Middle East, we have switched gears today to cover what happened, the Israeli commando attack on the Free Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

We’re joined by a number of guests, but we’re going to begin in New York with Adam Shapiro. He’s the co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement and a board member of the Free Gaza Movement, one of the groups that coordinated the Freedom Flotilla. His wife Huwaida Arraf, the chair of the Free Gaza Movement, was on the flotilla.



Adam, can you explain to us what you understand happened on—well, it was early Sunday morning in the—what happened to the flotilla?



ADAM SHAPIRO: The boats were making their way, the six ships, in international waters, far in international waters. They were still at least fifty miles offshore, and so well off the coasts of Israel and Gaza. And as they were making their way, Israeli warships surrounded the flotilla, all the ships, and the first ship to come under attack by helicopter, with commandos coming down from helicopter, as we’ve seen on the media, on the footage, was this big Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara. And soldiers, as they came down, started opening fire immediately, as was reported by the Al Jazeera correspondence on live stream that we have. And the soldiers injured and eventually killed at least one person, before other passengers decided at that point to try to act in self-defense and to try to stop soldiers, more soldiers, from coming onto the ship.



What needs to be acknowledged here is that Israel acted violently by attacking our ships, to begin with. And under international law, under the law of the seas, our people, as the people on that ship coming under such an attack, an illegal attack on the high seas, do have a right to defend themselves. Now, we don’t necessarily encourage people to take up any kind of weapons against the Israelis, and certainly our activists train in nonviolence, but given the kind of scenario that was unfolding on that boat, I certainly do understand the desire of people to try to protect themselves and try to protect others who were already injured.



The other ships, including the one that my wife Huwaida was on, also came under attack. We don’t know, because we didn’t have satellite feeds on those ships, the kinds of attacks that they suffered. And we still don’t know, because all of the detainees are being kept from any kind of communication with media, with their families, even up until now with their lawyers and with their embassies.



ANJALI KAMAT: Adam Shapiro, do you know how many people died? And do you know how many people are being detained by Israel?



ADAM SHAPIRO: Until now, we still don’t know the exact number of dead. Israel refuses to release the names of the people that it killed, despite numerous requests from various embassies, some governments and, of course, the media. And the exact number of dead, the exact number of injured, and the exact number of who are in detention, we do not know, because, again, we are completely—this is becoming a major coverup by Israel to keep all information blocked, blanketed from getting out.



ANJALI KAMAT: Have you heard from your wife, Huwaida Arraf?



ADAM SHAPIRO: Literally just now, as I came on this program, I received confirmation that she has been released. She is without phones and without any money. They took all of her stuff from her. But she’s been released from prison and should be on her way to Jerusalem hopefully right now.



AMY GOODMAN: I’d like to go to Israel and the West Bank. I want to see right now if Amira Hass is on the line. She is the reporter for Ha’aretz.



Amira, we wanted to get the response to what has taken place in Israel and the Occupied Territories and what you understand, because this is the big issue right now, that the Israeli government has spoken out about what has happened, but very few people understand actually, outside of what the Israeli government has said, what took place on these ships. Certainly in the United States, the news media is quoting the Israeli government, the prime minister, various military spokespeople. But since hundreds of people have been detained, and we don’t know the names of the dead or the injured, we are not hearing any other part of the story.



AMIRA HASS: Exactly, Amy. The details cannot be told yet, because we don’t—other than the soldiers and the few people who returned to their homes, in Turkey mostly or in Greece, we don’t have details yet, because we depend only on the official versions of the Israel—of the Israeli army and the Israeli government. I’m here in Ramallah, and so I don’t know—I only follow on the news and what my friends tell me in Israel.



On the one hand, there have been quite a few demonstrations, as I understand, against the attack and against the decision to stop the flotilla. There is a strike in Palestinian communities in Israel proper. There is a strike in Gaza, I think. But also in the West Bank, the police cleared a strike and three days of mourning. In the West Bank, I’ve seen that the Palestinian police is trying very hard to prevent people from clashing with the Israeli army, feeling more—feeling deterioration. So what I’ve noticed is there is—there are many, many security vehicles of the Palestinian Authority near junctions, near areas where the Israeli army is located. They opened, as I read—I haven’t seen it—they opened wake houses in several municipalities all over the West Bank. But people—there were a few demonstrations yesterday in the West Bank, demanding actually the Palestinian Authority to stop all negotiations with Israel and to stop the military coordination with Israel, which is a very—it’s a sore wound in Palestinian life, this military security coordination. So far, as I understand, the PA of course has condemned, but has not—is not reacting to this demand, to the public demand. We don’t know what will happen next.



But I think that beyond those details, what’s becoming clearer and clearer—and I think that’s also to many Israelis—is that who is really under blockade is not Gaza and not the Palestinians, but Israel, under a self-imposed blockade, because they think they could continue to violate our—not only international law or concepts, but also common sense. It’s all reacting against the common sense of every normal person in this world, you know, like if you think about Noam Chomsky not allowed to enter the country. So this is the main thing we can see. From the very beginning, the decision to not allow this ship from entering Gaza, from reaching Gaza, then this attack on civilian ships and then expecting the people will accept this attack, as Adam said, in international water. So it’s a complete act of piracy. And then these soldiers expect to be received as if they were, I don’t know, guests. So this shows about a certain—and unfortunately, the Israeli society is behind the government in that sense, still behind the government. So it is under blockade. The Israeli society is under self-imposed siege.



ANJALI KAMAT: Amira Hass, you were supposed to be on one of the boats in the flotilla?


AMIRA HASS: Yes, I registered, as I—as you know, we are not—Israeli journalists are not allowed to enter Gaza through Erez, and I did enter—over the past year and a half, I did enter three times, so-called illegally. And the first time was with a boat. And I registered to enter, and I was supposed to be on the boat with Dror Feiler, the Israeli Swedish activist and musician. But unfortunately, because they kept postponing the date, I had something I could not cancel in Jerusalem at the end of last week, so, unfortunately, I did not join it. Or fortunately.


AMY GOODMAN: Amira Hass, you talked about the protests in the Palestinian territories. What about in the Israeli Jewish community? What has been the response? And what are you seeing on Israeli television? What kind of video? What is the story, the narrative, you’re getting?


AMIRA HASS: There were. Israeli activists has been—has had several demonstrations since yesterday, as I could tell by emails and by what friends told me, and Palestinians in Israel, as well, of course. There are all sorts of condemnations by Israeli organizations and organizations for human rights organizations. So there is an activity, as an—adding to the quite rejectivity of Israeli Jews against the occupation, which we see permanently. But it’s an activity of a minority. There are, of course, publicists and some public personalities who are alarmed by Israeli blindness, I think, as I can tell by the reports.


Now, the Israeli version, as is seen and is almost the only version that is shown to the Israeli public, is that once they went down the ropes, the soldiers, they were immediately attacked by some people, who had with them knives and sticks or whatever, and were beating them. The official—the video, the photos. And you can hear also on the voice—you can hear that the soldiers are surprised or shocked. And so are their officers, their commanders, which watch everything through the—whatever equipment they have. I tend to believe that they were indeed surprised. They did not expect resistance. They did not expect to be challenged. I cannot tell if it was after—by what we are shown, if it was after some shots were—that they shot and killed some people, or was it simultaneously when they slid down from the helicopters. But this is what is seen on the Israeli—on Israeli TV. And this is also what—I read some testimonies of soldiers, and this is also what soldiers tell, told from a military correspondent of ours who of course got the permission to speak to them. We don’t get any detailed account of anyone of those who were on the ship.


ANJALI KAMAT: I want to bring Ali Abuninah, the co-founder of the Electronic Intifada and author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse, into the discussion. He’s joining us from Chicago.


Ali, can you talk about the reaction from the United States from the Obama administration and also at the Security Council?


ALI ABUNIMAH: Yes. Good morning.


Among the more than 700 people on the ship from about thirty-two countries are thirteen United States citizens, including a former ambassador, Ed Peck, who has been released and is reported to be on his way back to the United States. But as in the previous Israeli acts of piracy and war against ships heading to Gaza—you remember when Cynthia McKinney was kidnapped and jailed in Israel for trying to reach Gaza—once again, the United States government is saying and doing nothing publicly that suggests any great concern for its citizens who have been kidnapped by Israel.


And the statements from the Obama administration, particularly that by the US representative at the United Nations, Alejandro Wolff, were really quite shocking and astonishing. You played a clip during the news, where he suggests really that the flotilla were themselves to blame, talking about using non-confrontational and non-provocational methods rather than going by ship—in other words, suggesting—agreeing with the outrageous Israeli claims that trying to reach Gaza with humanitarian aid is somehow a provocation or a confrontation. And Ambassador Wolff also reaffirmed Israel’s so-called right to self-defense in this context, which suggests that the United States, unless it makes clear otherwise, believes that attacking a civilian ship on the high seas and massacring an unknown number of its passengers is somehow self-defense.


I think we also have to keep our eye on the context here, Anjali. Just a week or so ago, the United States Congress voted by 410-to-four—I’ll repeat that, 410-to-four—to a request from the Obama administration for additional military aid, another $205 million. This was clearly a political move by the Obama administration to fund the rather useless Iron Dome rocket defense as a way to appease Israel politically. But the message Israel got from this, as it has gotten from US and international complicity and complacency, the failure to hold Israel accountable for the war crimes documented in the Goldstone report; the failure to hold Israel accountable for the act of international terrorism and murder in a hotel room in Dubai; the failure to hold Israel accountable for four years of murderous siege on Gaza that has killed, by itself, 400 Palestinians for lack of access to medical aid and other needed supplies. The failure to hold Israel accountable in all these ways has sent Israel the message: do what you like, get away with whatever you want to, until people hold Israel accountable.


And so, what the Freedom Flotilla was, was it was a peaceful, unarmed people’s navy, assembled to fill the void and the vacuum where the Obama administration should be, where the UN Security Council should be, where the Arab governments should be, where the European Union should be. And it is a shocking outrage and a crime that will live in infamy, along with the bombing of the King David Hotel, along with the attack on the USS Liberty, along with so many other appalling crimes, that international humanitarian workers bringing aid were attacked on the high seas.


I spoke to you a few months ago when I was in Cairo with the Gaza Freedom March. By now, people have tried to reach Gaza to break the siege by land. They have tried by sea. And they have lost their lives. They have given their lives in the cause of breaking this siege on Gaza. And we have to ask, we have to ask, for what crime are 1.5 million people in Gaza being held prisoner? There is a museum in Berlin, which I visited as a schoolboy, to those who were killed trying to cross, those who were machine-gunned trying to cross over the Berlin Wall. Well, an unknown number of people, because Israel won’t tell us, were machine-gunned for trying to break this blockade. When will there be accountability?


And when will the Obama administration stop this outrageous complicity, this enabling, this acting as an accomplice with these crimes against people in Palestine and now against Americans, Turks, Greeks, Jordanians, Palestinians, Lebanese, Swedes, French people, German people, members of Parliament, doctors, retired people, trying to bring medicine to people in Gaza?


That our government has not stood up and condemned this in the clearest possible terms is a sign that something is sick in the United States’ system when it comes to speaking about and dealing with Israel. There is a sickness that has to be addressed.



AMY GOODMAN: This issue of international law, of international waters, Richard Falk, talk about your reaction to what took place. I had originally said on Sunday morning; in fact, it was 4:00 Monday morning on the waters, on the high seas, when the Israeli commandos raided the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.



RICHARD FALK: Good morning, Amy. This was a shocking incident that involved, as your other guests have said, a complete disregard of international law, in several respects. It was an act of naked aggression. It was done on the high seas. It was done in defiance of elementary humanitarian standards. It was known that this flotilla had no weapons. It was not a security issue by the remotest stretch of the imagination. If there was a right of self-defense, it belonged to the people onboard these ships. Israel, as the aggressing state and political actor, had no claim whatsoever of self-defense. It’s an absurdity. And one can only imagine if another country that the United States didn’t like had engaged in this kind of behavior, we would have been denouncing them or, worse, using force. One can only imagine what would happen if Iran had done something of this comparably outrageous character and sought to provide some kind of legal cover for it, while silencing those that actually experienced the incident.



So I feel that we’ve almost never seen such a direct confrontation with the most elementary principles of international law. And it is a disgrace that our government has decided to stand apart from all other countries in the world, including our normal European friends, and withheld a denunciation and a call for lifting the blockade, because one needs to appreciate that underneath this criminal act, which amounts to a crime against humanity, underneath this has been the almost three years of criminal blockade of the people of Gaza. The blockade is a direct violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that prohibits collective punishment. And this is one of the first examples where a civilian population has been locked inside a zone that has been subjected to this kind of mental and physical threat to subsistence and survival.



ANJALI KAMAT: Richard Falk, given the international of outcry over this incident, do you think there will be enough pressure to implement the recommendations of the Goldstone report to finally lift the siege on Gaza?



RICHARD FALK: It is hard to tell at this point. What is clear is that the United States continues in its role as the protector of Israeli impunity in circumstances that are so extreme that it will build additional anti-US attitudes throughout the world, not only in the Islamic world. And it is probably a matter that will be determined in large part by how sustained the civil society reaction to these events are. I’ve said for some time that the best hope for the Palestinians is not at a governmental level or through reliance on the United Nations, but rather through the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, which has increasingly come to resemble the anti-apartheid campaign that was so successful in delegitimizing the racist regime in South Africa. I think this legitimacy war is being waged now as the primary arena of struggle. And it has shown the immoral failure of established governments to do what should have been done years ago and insisted that this blockade be lifted and used nonviolent coercion by way of sanctions in the event that Israel continued to refuse to end the blockade. It is a crime that has no borders at this point. And it’s only the peoples of the world, really, that represent the conscience of humanity in a circumstance of this kind.



AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territories and the Occupied Territories. The countries that have called in the Israeli ambassador for an explanation are Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Jordan, New Zealand, among others.



Ali Abunimah, can you talk about the videotape? And again, we have to stress, in the brief coverage that we see in US media right now, because we do not even know the names of the dead or the injured, not to mention hundreds of people who are now in jail in Israel, we’re only getting one side here. But the videotape that the Israeli government is showing of what happened on the lead ship, on the Turkish ship, Ali?



ALI ABUNIMAH: Yes. I mean, what we have to do is put all this in the context of Israel’s propaganda strategy. What they’ve done is imposed a total news block-out—blackout. Hundreds of people are detained. They’ve had no access to lawyers, certainly no access to media. It was reported there was one Al Jazeera cameraman, of the six Al Jazeera staff who were kidnapped with the ships, who was released. And what he said is that all the passengers were allowed to leave the ships only with their passports, with no other personal belongings. He was personally attacked by Israeli soldiers while he was filming, and his camera smashed.



In any case, no journalists were allowed to leave the ships with any film or any recordings whatsoever. We don’t know the names of the dead. The families of all those passengers are anxiously awaiting news of their loved ones. Why is this? So that the Israeli narrative can get a long head start. This is all about the Israeli propaganda strategy to give the Israeli propagandists, like Mark Regev, a free run. They’ve had more than twenty-four hours. And, Amy, it’s working in the mainstream media, because they’re only reporting, you know, the atrocious reporting on National Public Radio and on the BBC, which is taking mostly the Israeli version.




Even the videos the Israelis received, what they do confirm to us is that Israel attacked a civilian ship with attack helicopters, speedboats and commandos. Now, they show people fending off the soldiers. I mean, in this country, in the United States, people lionize the passengers on Flight 93 who tried to fight off the hijackers to no avail. So there was a natural reaction there. What we don’t know is when that happened. The Al Jazeera footage, which came out before the feed was cut by Israel, showed people—or there was evidence of people being shot at and killed as soon as the Israelis attacked.


Hanin Zoabi, the member of Parliament in the Knesset, the Palestinian who was released and gave a press conference today, talked about the sudden attack with sound bombs, tear gas, explosions. The same—the Al Jazeera journalist who was released said the same thing. Because the Israelis are obscuring or removing the time stamps from the videos they are releasing, we have no idea when those videos were taken, and they’re showing very short clips. But what is not in doubt and what nobody disputes, not even the Israelis, is that an Israeli military force carried out an unprovoked attack on the high seas against a civilian vessel, and people have been killed, people who were on a humanitarian mission. And there is no justification for that.



AMY GOODMAN: Adam Shapiro, we want to bring you in before the end.


ADAM SHAPIRO: Yes.


AMY GOODMAN: Adam, we want to bring you in before the end, because in addition to what happened on the high seas, you have the West Bank attack on a young Cooper Union art student, a student in New York who was in the West Bank. Can you explain who she is and what happened?



ADAM SHAPIRO: As you said, Emily [Henochowicz] is a twenty-one-year-old Cooper Union art student who was there in the West Bank joining the International Solidarity Movement as an activist protesting what’s going on in the West bank. I mean, obviously, Gaza is very bad, but there continues to be land confiscation, home demolitions, the building of the wall in the West Bank. Emily was attending a protest at Qalandia checkpoint, demonstrating against what happened to our flotilla. The Israelis opened a barrage of tear-gas canisters, fired at very close range, at her specifically. Eyewitness accounts talk about two tear-gas canisters being shot right at her feet and then a third being shot at her head, hitting her in the left eye, I believe. And we have received word from the doctors that she has lost her left eye.



This is yet another attack on an unarmed international civilian coming to join the Palestinians in protest, coming to stand up for human rights. There is a war. There is a war now. Israel has launched this war. It launched it earlier with attacks on Rachel Corrie, on Tom Hurndall and other internationals, but this is now an open war Israel has launched on foreigners. There is no citizen. There should be travel warnings issued now to all foreigners trying to enter Israel or the Occupied Territories. You are targeted by Israel.



AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you all for being with us. I want to thank Adam Shapiro in New York; also Amira Hass of Ha’aretz, speaking to us from Ramallah; Ali Abunimah in Chicago; Richard Falk, speaking to us, UN special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories. Two more boats are headed to Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid. Mairead Maguire is on one of them, among many. She is the Nobel Peace Prize winner.

 






Obama's Timidity and Deaths at Sea

 

Consortiumnews.com

By Ray McGovern
June 1, 2010

 

A chief lesson to learn from President Barack Obama’s recent unwillingness to stand up to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud Lobby is that such timidity can get people killed.

Casualty figures are still arriving in the wake of Israel’s Sunday night-Monday morning commando attack on an unarmed flotilla trying to bring relief supplies to the 1.5 million Palestinians crowded into Gaza. Already, at least nine civilian passengers aboard the ships are reported killed, and dozens wounded.



Yet, seldom has an act of aggression been so well advertised in advance. Israel had made clear that it would use force to prevent the ships from reaching Gaza and heard no stern protest from President Obama, who apparently could not overcome his fear of Israel’s legendary political clout.



Earlier this year, Obama did criticize Israel’s continued settlement of Palestinian areas and Netanyahu’s resistance to hold meaningful peace talks, but the President has failed to back up his words with firm action or resolve.



For that reason, Netanyahu was left convinced that Israel could do what it wished, including dropping commandos by helicopters onto crowded ships and after an apparent clash with civilians on one of the ships, ordering the use of lethal force.



Then, Netanyahu could expect that America’s Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) – with leading figures like Wolf Blitzer who built his journalistic career by working for the Jerusalem Post – would finesse the murderous assault into something reasonable and possibly even tilted sympathetically toward the Israeli troops.



Early on, CNN began repeating the Israeli “explanation” for its attack on the high seas, parroting the Jerusalem Post which reported that “militants were killed” after they set upon Israeli naval commandos who boarded one of the six ships Monday morning at two o’clock. 


Shimon Peres has no clothes and CNN is exposed 
Read more...



The commandos “were met with strong resistance from men armed with bladed weapons and the situation degenerated into a massacre when one of them grabbed the weapon of a soldier and opened fire,” said the Jerusalem Post, quoting Israeli military sources.



The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that the relief convoy organizers had a “radical Islamic anti-Western orientation,” and that Israeli “naval forces were attacked with metal clubs and knives, as well as live fire,” though there were no reports of Israeli deaths. The IDF statement continued:

“The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose,” adding that the Navy then used riot dispersal methods, which include live fire, according to JTA, the global news service of the Jewish people.



Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak blamed the organizers of the convoy for the violent outcome, and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told a news conference why that was so: “The organizers’ intent was violent, their method was violent, and unfortunately, the results were violent.”

So, you see, the Israeli military resorted to violence only in self-defense. Right.



Quiet Conversation



On Monday, President Obama spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone about the incident. Afterwards, the White House said Obama had expressed “deep regret” over the deaths, but declined further comment, citing “the importance of learning all the facts and circumstances” as quickly as possible.



However,  don’t count on the timid Obama or his Likud-leaning advisers — much less the FCM — to question the Israeli version.



We are likely to get an “explanation” worthy of the late Alexander Haig as to why the slaughter may well have been “justified.” Haig’s death in February brought to mind comments he made about a brutal incident on the night of Dec. 2, 1980, shortly after Ronald Reagan’s election victory. 



In rightist-ruled El Salvador, government security forces stopped four American churchwomen in their mini-van and were ordered to kill them. The soldiers first raped the women and then executed them with high-powered rifles.



Reagan’s foreign policy team decided to treat the rape-murder as a public relations problem, best handled by shifting blame onto the victims. And so, the women were deemed not nuns, but “political activists.”



After becoming Reagan’s first Secretary of State, Haig told Congress that “the nuns may have run through a roadblock or may have accidentally been perceived to have been doing so, and there may have been an exchange of fire.” 



In just a few weeks, the American women had gone from being innocent victims to “political activists” to armed insurgents – although knowledgeable U.S. government officials conceded there was no evidence to support Haig’s shoot-out speculation. As an intelligence analyst at the time, I knew of Haig’s inclination to make up stuff.



Watch for the same thing to happen to the international “activists” who were killed and wounded in the incident off Gaza. I don’t watch the FCM anymore (it’s just too much for my Irish temper), but I’m told that Israel-friendly pundits are already spinning faster than the famous centrifuges in Iran.


Uncle Remus’s Wisdom



“He Don’t Say Nothin’,” as Uncle Remus put it, with improper grammar but with an accurate understanding that by not saying anything you can often convey a powerful or dangerous message.

As a presidential candidate, Obama was careful to say nothing about the brutal Israeli blockade against the 1.5 million people in Gaza, about to enter its fourth year.  As president-elect he stayed mum as the Israelis attacked densely populated Gaza, killing some 1,400 Gazans.



As President, he has backed down at every significant moment when Netanyahu thumbed his nose at Obama or at Vice President Joe Biden.



Obama knew about the “Freedom Flotilla” and its plan to bring supplies to Gaza. And he had to be aware of Israel’s threats to attack the relief ships. But, like Uncle Remus’s B’rer Fox, Obama “don’t say nothin.’”



Quite the contrary, Obama’s pro-Zionist White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who recently vacationed in Israel and met with Netanyahu last Wednesday, extended an invitation for a working visit at the White House. Netanyahu was to visit Obama on Tuesday after a four-day visit to Canada.

On Monday morning, Netanyahu canceled out of a gala dinner to be held in his honor in Ottawa and nixed the visit to Washington. He said he hoped that both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Obama “understand that Israel has a great security problem.”



However, according to Craig Murray, a former British ambassador and Foreign Office specialist on maritime law, the commando raid in international waters was more than just a security problem; it was a violation of international law and the Law of the Sea.



"Possibility one," Murray wrote, "is that the Israeli commandoes were acting on behalf of the government of Israel in killing the activists in international waters. The applicable law is that of the flag state of the ship on which the incident occurred," in this case Turkey.


"In legal terms, the Turkish ship was Turkish territory. So ... Israel is in a position of war with Turkey, and the attack by Israeli commandos falls under international jurisdiction as a war crime," Murray continued.


"Possibility two is that, if the killings were not military actions authorized by Israel, they were then acts of murder and fall under Turkish jurisdiction. If Israel does not consider itself in a position of war with Turkey, it must hand over the commandos involved for trial in Turkey under Turkish law.


"It is for Turkey, not Israel, to carry out any inquiry or investigation and to initiate any prosecutions. Israel would be obliged by law to hand over indicted personnel for prosecution."


Getting Away With Murder


But the fatal incident off the Gaza coast was not the first time Israel had used lethal force against a nearly defenseless ship at sea. The attack on the “Freedom Flotilla” was reminiscent of the attack on the USS Liberty during Israel’s Six-Day War against three of its Arab neighbors.


The war started on June 5, 1967, when Israel carried out an unprovoked Blitzkrieg attack. What is my source for “unprovoked?” Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who 15 years later admitted publicly:


“In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that [Egyptian President] Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”


Three days into the war, Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats turned their firepower on the intelligence collection ship USS Liberty in international waters after the Israelis had identified it as a U.S. Navy ship.


The Israelis later insisted they had lost track of the ship and that the strafing was an accident in the fog of war. However, U.S. intelligence intercepted Israeli conversations at the time, indicating that the Israeli mission was to sink the ship and leave no survivors.


Israeli commandos clad in black were about to land from helicopters and finish off what remained of the Liberty crew when Seaman Terry Halbardier (later awarded the Silver Star) slid over the Liberty’s napalm-laden deck to jury-rig an antenna and get an SOS off to the Sixth Fleet. 


Israeli forces intercepted the SOS and quickly broke off the attack. But 34 of the Liberty crew were killed and over 170 wounded.


To avoid exacerbating bilateral tensions, the U.S. Navy was ordered to cover up the deliberate nature of the attack, and the surviving crew was threatened with imprisonment, if they so much as told their wives.  When some of the crew later called for an independent investigation, they were hit with charges of anti-Semitism.


One of the surviving crew of the USS Liberty, decorated Navy veteran Joe Meadors, was with the “Freedom Flotilla” when it was attacked. Meadors is past president of the USS Liberty Veterans Association.


The State Department tells us that Joe Meadors survived this latest Israeli attack. At last word, he sits in an Israeli jail.


LIBERTY means Freedom and "Never Give Up!"  
Read more...




Rachel Corrie


Another incident occurred on March 16, 2003, when 23-year-old Rachel Corrie, an American volunteer serving in Gaza with the International Solidarity Movement was run over by an Israeli Army bulldozer after a prolonged face-off in full view of several of her volunteer colleagues. 


Rachel was trying to prevent the bulldozing of a Palestinian home where she had been staying.

The apparent message the Israelis wanted to convey in killing Rachel Corrie was that international volunteers would no longer be exempt from the brutal treatment accorded young Israeli volunteers who tried to stand up, as Rachel did, for decent treatment of Palestinians in Gaza. 


Rachel Corrie, The New Fourth Estate and Israeli Justice Read more...


The FCM’s excitement over President George W. Bush’s eagerly anticipated “shock-and-awe” bombing of Iraq three days later pushed what limited coverage there was about Rachel’s murder to the back pages. The Israelis claimed the killing was an inadvertent mistake, like the shoot-up of the Liberty.

The courageous Rachel was very much with the Freedom Flotilla in spirit. One of the ships in the convoy bore the name “Rachel Corrie.”


Israel cannot hide behind “inadvertence” this time, although its spin-masters are already doing their best to smear the civilians on the ships with buzzwords, calling them “terrorists” who “ambushed” and tried to “lynch” the Israeli commandos.


These P.R. tactics may work with the American FCM and neocons in Washington – and by extension the TV-watchers in the United States – but patience with Israel in the international community is wearing paper-thin.


Much of this has to do with Gaza, including the Israeli attack from Dec. 17, 2008, to Jan. 18, 2009, as well as the three-year blockade that began when Hamas won Palestinian elections and became the governing party in Gaza.


Israel and the U.S. government deem Hamas to be a terrorist organization, though some other countries regard it more as a resistance movement fighting against Israeli occupation.


Yet, regardless of how one feels about Hamas, Israel’s harsh blockade of Gaza and last year’s military assault are widely seen as inflicting a humanitarian disaster on the Palestinian people.





Has Netanyahu Gone Too Far?


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reacted strongly to the Israeli attack on the relief ships, the largest of which sailed from Turkey. According to one report, Turkey has served warning that Turkish Navy ships will escort future relief convoys to Gaza.


Erdogan has had it with Israeli mistreatment of Muslims in his eastern Mediterranean neighborhood. On Jan. 29, 2009, at the economic summit in Davos, he leveled harsh criticism to Israeli President Shimon Peres’s face, labeling Gaza “an open-air prison.” 


Erdogan angrily cited “the sixth commandment — Thou Shalt Not Kill,” adding, “We are talking about killing” in Gaza. Erdogan’s one-and-a-half-minute tirade was captured on camera by the BBC.


Five days before Erdogan’s outburst, the Brazilian government also condemned Israel’s bombing of Gaza and its effect on the civilian population as a “disproportionate response.” 


It seems to have been the atrocity in Gaza that galvanized the successful joint effort by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to defy Israel by getting Iran to agree to transfer fully half of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey for further processing, rendering it unusable for a nuclear weapon.


Defy Israel? you ask. If Israel believes that low-enriched uranium is an essential part of an “existential threat” to Israel from eventual nuclear weapons in Iran, would the Israelis not be delighted at Iran’s agreement to send half to Turkey?


Good question. 


If the truth be told, Israel cares a lot less about Iran’s uranium that it does about forcing “regime change” in Tehran. Netanyahu does not want any agreement with Iran; he wants sanctions against Iran, and eventually a military conflict.


And this twin wish is shared by American neocons who remain influential in the Obama administration and in the FCM.


The pro-Israeli hardliners appear to be the ones running U.S. policy on the Middle East, not Obama, who seems only nominally in charge. Unusually clear proof of this came when the Brazilians released a letter revealing that Obama had personally encouraged the Brazilian and Turkish leaders to pursue the kind of deal they were able to work out with the Iranians.


Thus, the leaders of Brazil and Turkey were surprised when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other administration spokespeople trashed the tripartite Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal and pressed ahead with a new round of sanctions.


And the President?


Did he step up and acknowledge encouraging Brazil and Turkey to seek the uranium deal?


Well, he don’t say nothin’.


Israeli Influence


While Americans continue to be starved of real information from the FCM, people around the world are able to view with disdain the degree to which Washington dogs are wagged by Israeli tails.


When I suggested five years ago before a Capitol Hill hearing chaired by Rep. John Conyers that Israel was right up there, together with oil and military bases, as comprising the real rationale for war on Iraq, I, too, was called anti-Semitic. But the evidence has always been as clear as it is abundant. 


An inadvertent remark by former British Prime Minister Blair has provided insight — straight from the horse’s ass, I mean, mouth.


In early February 2010, the British press revealed that Blair, testifying to the Iraq war commission in the U.K., offered the following account of his discussions with Bush in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002. That’s when Bush said war was the only way to deal with Saddam Hussein, and Blair acquiesced.


But Blair’s remarks revealed that Israeli concerns were a major part of the equation and that Israeli officials were involved in the discussions.


Thus, Blair:


“As I recall that discussion, it was less to do with specifics about what we were going to do on Iraq or, indeed, the Middle East, because the Israel issue was a big, big issue at the time. I think, in fact, I remember, actually, there may have been conversations that we had even with Israelis, the two of us, whilst we were there. So that was a major part of all this."


It is a safe bet that Hillary Clinton’s Likud-friendly lieutenants and their new junior partners in London are busy conferring with Tel Aviv right now about how to handle the PR challenge caused by the upstart leaders of Turkey and Brazil with the temerity to work out a deal with Tehran. (Never mind that Obama personally asked them to do it.)


How does one make into a bad thing Iran’s agreement to ship half its uranium out of the country, even if additional steps might still be needed to assure the world that Iran is telling the truth when it says it isn’t building a nuclear bomb?


More and more people around the globe are seeing Obama as subservient to the Likud Lobby, perhaps not as enthusiastically as Bush was, but still unwilling to put action behind his occasional words of dissatisfaction.


Important players in the Middle East, as well as increasingly assertive countries like Turkey and Brazil, conclude that the policies and behavior of Tel Aviv and Washington are virtually identical.


And then there is the $3 billion or so that the United States gives Israel each year that enables the Israelis to arm themselves to the teeth.


It is understandable, then, that many will blame Washington for what happened in the dark of night, on the eve of Memorial Day, on the high seas.



Hard Lessons



The likely results are three-fold:


--On Memorial Day next year, there may well be hundreds more “fallen heroes” to honor, killed by Muslim and other “militants” who make no distinction between what the U.S. had done in Iraq and Afghanistan and what Israel does in Gaza and the occupied West Bank — and add Lebanon and Syria, for good measure.



As Gen. David Petraeus pointed out earlier this year, the unresolved Arab-Israeli “conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel” and thus puts U.S. troops at greater risk.



“Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the [region] and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world,” Petraeus said. “Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support."



--The linking of U.S. support with Israeli actions enhances the incentive of terrorists to ply their dark arts in the United States.



While it is difficult to find a measure of objectivity in official U.S. government documents on this topic, every so often there is a slip between cup and lip. There was such a slip on Sept. 23, 2004, for example, when the Pentagon-sponsored U.S. Defense Science Board issued a formal report concluding:



“Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights.”



You will not be surprised to find out that the board’s report was generally suppressed in the FCM, as were the following, more specific, examples:



“By his own account, KSM’s [9/11 “mastermind” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s] animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experience there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.” [9/11 Commission Report, July 22, 2004, page 147]



And what motivated Dr. Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, the 32-year-old Jordanian physician of Palestinian origin, who on Dec. 30, 2009, detonated a suicide bomb at a CIA site in eastern Afghanistan, killing seven American CIA operatives? According to his brother, al-Balawi “changed” during the three-week-long Israeli offensive in Gaza, which killed some 1,400 Gazans.



When al-Balawi volunteered to treat injured Palestinians in Gaza, he was arrested by Jordanian authorities, his brother said. It was after that arrest that al-Balawi allowed himself to be “recruited” to spy on al-Qaeda for the CIA.



Quickly, it became payback time for Americans and Jordanians whom he associated with Israel.

Christmas underpants bomber Abdulmuttallab also is reported to have been particularly outraged by Israel’s slaughter of the 1,400 Gazans at the turn of 2008-09 and Washington’s defense of Israel’s action.



That Israeli actions in Gaza acted as catalysts to al-Balawi’s and Abdulmuttallab’s determination to exact revenge on the U.S. is hardly surprising — the more so in view of Washington’s efforts to suppress the findings of the UN-commissioned Gaza investigation by Justice Richard Goldstone. His report concluded that:



“The blockade policies implemented by Israel against the Gaza Strip, in particular the closure of or restrictions imposed on border crossings in the immediate period before the military operations, subjected the local population to extreme hardship and deprivations that amounted to a violation of Israel’s obligations as an Occupying Power under the Fourth Geneva Convention...



“Israel has essentially violated its obligation to allow free passage of all consignments of medical and hospital objects, food, and clothing that were needed to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the civilian population...


“The Mission concludes that the conditions resulting from deliberate actions of the Israeli forces and the declared policies of the Government with regard to the Gaza Strip before, during, and after the military operation cumulatively indicate the intention to inflict collective punishment on the people of the Gaza Strip.


“The Mission, therefore, finds a violation of the provisions of Articles 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”


--Attacking Iran?


It is no secret that this goal enjoys high priority on Netanyahu’s agenda. It could be stopped in its tracks by a public warning from President Obama — but all signs point to his bending to neocon advice to shy away from a showdown.


The fact that world leaders consider Netanyahu a clear and present danger to peace in the region is showed by the way the leaders of Turkey and Brazil moved at an accelerated pace to draw the Iranians into the kind of deal that Obama personally had advocated, before being overruled by Clinton and Democratic neocons. 


The urgency of the Turkey-Brazil initiative came through in the words of Brazilian President Lula da Silva, who could hardly have been more explicit:


“We can't allow to happen in Iran what happened in Iraq. Before any sanctions, we must undertake all possible efforts to try and build peace in the Middle East."


A Green Light


Netanyahu listens only to Washington, when he listens at all. Following the bloody attack on the Freedom Flotilla, I imagine he will now get at most a mealy-mouthed “please-don’t-do-this-again” from the White House, together with an Al-Haig made-up excuse about an “exchange” of fire. 

If that proves to be the case, Netanyahu is altogether likely to consider that Israel has a green light to provoke hostilities with Iran, with the full expectation that the United States will jump right in to help the non-ally ally finish the job.


Non-ally ally?


Sorry, despite what you hear from Obama, Congress and the whole Washington Establishment, Israel is not an ally of the United States. Webster’s (and international law) define ally as “a state associated with another by treaty.” 



There is no mutual defense treaty between the U.S. and Israel. (Washington has broached the idea to Israel from time to time, but Israel has said no thanks. Treaties, you see, require internationally recognized borders, and Israeli leaders avoid that subject like the plague.)



NATO member Turkey, on the other hand, is a U.S. ally. This could make things very awkward if Turkey sends its warships to accompany the next convoy trying to lift the siege of Gaza. It is possible that Washington may have to choose between a real ally and a synthetic one, if shots are fired.



Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. As an Army infantry/intelligence officer and later a CIA analyst, he spent almost 30 years in intelligence work. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).




   
 
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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
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