Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Coverage is dominated by the Gaza flotilla attack. Hussein Ibish says Israel's narrative of attack is failing badly. The New York Times profiles the Turkish NGO, and says the blockade of Gaza should be lifted and an international investigation launched. Survivors' testimonies strongly contradict the Israeli narrative of the events. Israel sees no need to apologize. The LA Times says Israel has suffered a self-inflicted wound. David Grossman says it shows Israeli society is confused and panicked. Serious complications emerge for the PA. David Makovsky defends the blockade. Both Egypt and Israel takes steps to ease it. An Australian journalist was allegedly electroshocked in the attack. Margaret Atwood says Israel is haunted by its treatment of the Palestinians. The head of Mossad says Israel is becoming a liability for the United States. Pres. Abbas urges international protection for Palestinians. An Israeli Navy commander vows, “next time we will use more force.” Patrick Cockburn says this was a typical botched Israeli military action. The National says Israel fails to understand how it looks to others.

Why Israel's narrative of the flotilla attack is failing so badly
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ibishblog
by Hussein Ibish - (Blog) June 1, 2010 - 12:00am

To most of the world, this is a very simple story: elite Israeli counterterrorism commandos stormed an unarmed, civilian ship carrying aid supplies in international waters, in order to enforce a morally indefensible and politically counterproductive blockade, and as a consequence 10 civilians were killed and many others injured. The entire Israeli effort since these realities became known has been to try to complicate the picture and shift the responsibility for the bloodshed away from the military commandos who stormed the ship, or their commanders, and onto the passengers themselves.

Turkish Funds Helped Group Test Blockade of Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Michael Slackman, Sabrina Tavernise - June 2, 2010 - 12:00am

ISTANBUL — Since 2007, a small group of hard-core activists has repeatedly tried to sail cargo-laden ships into Gaza in an effort to thwart Israel’s blockade. But when the Free Gaza Movement teamed up with a much wealthier Turkish organization to assemble a flotilla, it became more than a nuisance, supercharged by the group’s money, manpower and symbolic resonance into what Israel sees as a serious and growing threat.

After Raid, Videos Carry On the Fight
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Brian Stelter - June 2, 2010 - 12:00am

When Israeli commandos attacked the so-called Freedom Flotilla, both sides were well armed — with video cameras — and both sides have released a blizzard of video clips as evidence that the other side was the aggressor in the conflict on Monday, which left nine activists dead. Once again, the political power of the moving picture is on display, as it was last year when a video showing the death of a young protester in Iran, Neda Agha-Soltan, became a symbol of resistance in that country.

Israel and the Blockade
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
(Editorial) June 2, 2010 - 12:00am

The supporters of the Gaza-bound aid flotilla had more than humanitarian intentions. The Gaza Freedom March made its motives clear in a statement before Monday’s deadly confrontation: “A violent response from Israel will breathe new life into the Palestine solidarity movement, drawing attention to the blockade.” There can be no excuse for the way that Israel completely mishandled the incident. A commando raid on the lead, Turkish-flagged ship left nine activists dead and has opened Israel to a torrent of criticism.

Accounts, videos of flotilla assault continue to conflict
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Mary Beth Sheridan, Scott Wilson - June 2, 2010 - 12:00am

Under a moonlit sky, Huwaida Arraf, a graduate of American University's law school, watched from a small ship early Monday as Israeli commando boats pulled up to the Mavi Marmara, a vessel filled with about 600 activists hoping to breach an Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Israel sees no need to apologize for raid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Edmund Sanders - June 2, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel struck a defiant tone Tuesday over its lethal takeover of a humanitarian flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip, saying it had nothing to apologize for even as much of the world called for an end to its three-year blockade of the coastal Palestinian enclave. Israel's hard-line response came as organizers of the flotilla said they were sending another ship to attempt to break the longstanding siege, which began after the militant group Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.

Israel's self-inflicted wound
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
(Opinion) June 2, 2010 - 12:00am

There's a lot still to be learned about what happened at 4 a.m. Monday in the waters off the Gaza Strip when Israeli commandos boarded a ship that was seeking to break the long-standing Israeli blockade. Did the commandos, who were lowered onto the boat from helicopters, immediately open fire, as claimed by organizers of the six-ship flotilla? Or did the passengers attack first with knives, clubs and, ultimately, guns, as claimed by Israeli officials?

Israel naval raid a folly foretold
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by David Grossman - (Opinion) June 2, 2010 - 12:00am

No explanation can justify or whitewash the crime that was committed off the coast here early Monday morning, and no excuse can explain away the stupid actions of the Israeli government and the army. Israel did not send its soldiers to kill civilians in cold blood; indeed, this is the last thing it wanted.

Why Israeli raid on Freedom Flotilla makes Abbas's job harder
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Joshua Mitnick - June 2, 2010 - 12:00am

The diplomatic uproar over a fatal Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound "Freedom Flotilla" is likely to complicate the US-mediated peace talks. But not because Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is pulling out. Rather, the flotilla incident has boosted international sympathy for Hamas, the chief rival of Mr. Abbas's Fatah party and a long-time critic of peace negotiations with Israel.

Gaza flotilla: Why the blockade makes sense for Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by David Makovsky - (Opinion) June 1, 2010 - 12:00am

The activists aboard the Gaza flotilla that was raided by Israeli security forces Monday may have believed that breaking the Gaza blockade was at its core forcing Israel to address an issue the activists see as moral blindness. Yet the situation is far more complex than they would like people to believe. The story of the flotilla crisis begins from the time Israel withdrew from Gaza in August 2005. Israelis were told that if they stopped occupying foreign land, they would be more secure.

Israel, Egypt ease Gaza blockade after deadly raid
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Statesman
by Josef Federman - June 1, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel and Egypt signaled a temporary easing of the Gaza Strip blockade Tuesday following harsh international condemnation of the deadly Israeli raid on an aid flotilla en route to the sealed-off Palestinian territory. Egypt said it was freely opening its border with Gaza for the first time in more than a year to allow in humanitarian aid, setting off a mad rush to the crossing by thousands of residents, while an Israeli official said there is an "ongoing dialogue" with the international community on how to expand the amount of goods entering the area.

Gaza boat passenger says Australian photographer electroshocked by Israeli soldiers
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Xinhua
June 2, 2010 - 12:00am

Australian photographer Kate Geraghty was electroshocked on the arm by Israeli soldiers who stormed a flotilla of boats heading to Gaza, a fellow passenger said on Wednesday. One of the first to be released from detention center on Wednesday (AEST) was organizer with the Free Gaza Flotilla, Huwaida Arraf, a dual U.S./Israeli citizen who claimed she was aboard the U.S.-flagged vessel Challenger 1 along with Australian Fairfax journalist Paul McGeough and Geraghty.

The Shadow over Israel
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Margaret Atwood - June 2, 2010 - 12:00am

The Moment The moment when, after many years of hard work and a long voyage, you stand in the centre of your room, house, half-acre, square mile, island, country, knowing at last how you got there, and say, I own this, is the same moment the trees unloose their soft arms from around you, the birds take back their language, the cliffs fissure and collapse, the air moves back from you like a wave and you can’t breathe. No, they whisper. You own nothing. You were a visitor, time after time Climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming. We never belonged to you.

Mossad chief: Israel gradually becoming burden on U.S.
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jonathan Lis - June 1, 2010 - 12:00am

Mossad Chief Meir Dagan said on Tuesday that Israel is progressively becoming a burden on the United States. "Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden," said Dagan, speaking before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Dagan said that the U.S. government has recently examined the possibility of coercing a settlement on Israel and the Palestinians, but retreated from the idea after realizing it would not lead to a peace agreement.

Abbas urges world to protect Palestinians
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Ali Waked - June 2, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday praised activists who took part in an aid sail to the Gaza Strip, which left nine people dead following an Israel Defense Forces raid of the ships. Abbas lauded the passengers killed in the raid and said that the act of solidarity with Gaza was "very respectable". Speaking at the Palestine Investment Conference in Bethlehem, the Palestinian president said that just like the sail, which was aimed at breaking the blockade imposed on the Strip, the conference was a sail aimed at breaking the economic siege on Palestine.

'Next time we'll use more force'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jerusalem Post
by Yaakov Katz - June 1, 2010 - 12:00am

Israel will use more aggressive force in the future to prevent ships from breaking the sea blockade on the Gaza Strip, a top Navy commander told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. "We boarded the ship and were attacked as if it was a war," the officer said. "That will mean that we will have to come prepared in the future as if it was a war." The anonymous comment came the day after the Israeli Navy raided a flotilla of international aid ships headed to the Strip. Nine activists were killed in the raid, and dozens were injured.

Flotilla attack: 'First the shots, then the ship was turned into a lake of blood'
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
by Ben Lynfield - June 2, 2010 - 12:00am

The first accounts of activists involved in Israel's devastating raid on a flotilla of aid for Gaza sharply contradicted Israel's official version of events, with one passenger insisting that commandos opened fire before they boarded. Nilufer Cetin, a Turkish woman who had been on the Mavi Marmara, which bore the brunt of the Israeli raid, said that the ship had "turned into a lake of blood" and she and her one-year-old child had to hide in a bathroom.

Patrick Cockburn: PR dangerously distorts the Israeli sense of reality
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Independent
(Opinion) June 2, 2010 - 12:00am

An old Israeli saying describing various less-than-esteemed military leaders says: "He was so stupid that even the other generals noticed." The same derisive remark could be applied almost without exception to the present generation of Israeli politicians.

Can Israel see itself through the eyes of others?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
June 2, 2010 - 12:00am

Once Israel is done with its internal debate about whether it applied the wrong tactics in boarding the Mavi Marmara and killing civilians, it might do some soul-searching. Here, a history lesson would be helpful. States that keep a large group of those among them separate, and deny them equal treatment, rarely end up on the right side of history.

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