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Monthly Archives: January 2011


Valley of the Anti-Semites?

The Turkish film “Kurtlar Vadisi: Filistin”—“Valley of the Wolves—Palestine”— opened yesterday in Turkey. Based on the immensely popular television series “Valley of the Wolves”, the film is a response to the May 2010 Israeli attack on the Turkish-led humanitarian aid flotilla en route to Gaza, which resulted in the murder of nine Turkish activists.

The New York Times points out that the TV series “has portrayed Israelis as baby-killers and human organ thieves. Israel has criticized the series as viciously anti-Semitic fiction”. Perhaps Israel should direct similar criticism at the Times for publishing articles with titles like “Gazan Mother and 4 Children Killed” and “Israeli Shells Kill 40 at Gaza U.N. School”, and for describing Israel as a “nexus” of global organ trafficking.

I watched “Valley of the Wolves—Palestine” at a crowded cinema in a town in southwest Turkey last night. It is an action film and the plot is straightforward: three Turkish agents, led by Polat Alemdar, travel to Israel to pursue the demise of Moshe Ben Eliezer, the fictional Israeli commander who masterminded the flotilla raid.



Learning from Israel

Israeli sunbathers felt so threatened by the impending arrival of aid to Gaza in May 2010 that they organized a 16-boat protest against the flotilla, complete with banner depicting the Turkish prime minister (Photo: Reuters)

With the release of the first part of the report from its investigation into the May 2010 attack on the humanitarian aid flotilla en route to Gaza—in which nine Turkish activists were murdered by IDF commandos—the Israeli Turkel Commission has underscored Israel’s capacity for democratic introspection.

The commission’s findings include that the commandos in question acted in self-defense and that the Israeli blockade of Gaza is not in contravention of international law. According to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the report proves that Israel is “a law-abiding country”.

I’ve made a short list of ideas for possible commissions in other countries interested in attaining a similar status:

1. The United States.

Commission to investigate inordinate number of civilian casualties of U.S. drone attacks on Pakistan.

Possible conclusion: Drones were acting in self-defense.


Iraqi Donkey Awaits Better Life in America

Photo courtesy of US Marine Corps/File

Last week, USA Today ran what was intended to be a heartwarming story about a former U.S. marine colonel’s struggle to “bring home a little four-legged piece of Iraq”:

John Folsom, who was [Iraqi] Camp Taqaddum’s commandant in 2008, hopes to bring Smoke the donkey home to Nebraska to brighten the lives of children whose parents are serving overseas.

Folsom and Smoke first met when a Marine under Folsom’s command decided to catch one of the many donkeys wandering the base outside Fallujah.”

We learn that the Marines “immediately took a liking to the animal” and assigned him his name based on “his gray color and tendency to snatch up cigarettes, lit or not.” In order to get around the prohibition on pets in the war zone, “a Navy lieutenant helped designate Smoke a therapy animal” and the donkey thus “started receiving care packages of treats and blankets along with the troops.”

As for two-legged pieces of Iraq, these enter the story in the form of an Iraqi sheikh to whom Smoke was ceded after the Marines evacuated Taqaddum. The article continues:


Erdoğan’s Report Card

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited the town of Fethiye on the southwestern coast of Turkey this afternoon for the mass inauguration ceremony of 34 new regional institutions, ranging from elementary schools to health facilities. The ceremony took place at Republic Square in the center of Fethiye, home to the town’s primary Atatürk statue. An estimated 20,000 people were in attendance, including myself.

Attendees were relieved of pens, loose change, fruit, and other dual-use items by police on the way into the square. I am including a photograph below of one of the piles of spoils in case the Israeli Foreign Ministry would like to add the image to its Flickr photo series “Weapons found on Mavi Marmara”—published following the 31 May 2010 attack by IDF commandos on the humanitarian aid flotilla en route to Gaza. (The attack resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists, who obviously deserved to die given that they were hoarding weapons such as kitchen knives, a bucket, and a Palestinian scarf; as Flickr specifies that the Foreign Ministry’s photos were taken between 7 February 2006 and 7 June 2010, I doubt the ministry would deem 15 January 2011 to be out of range.)


State Dept. issues vocabulary list for Lebanon

Stabilizing Lebanon, 2006 (Photo: Amelia Opalinska)

During the course of yesterday’s U.S. State Department daily press briefing, Assistant Secretary Philip J. Crowley used the word “stability” 14 times and the word “instability” 4 times in his discussion of the collapse of the Lebanese government following the resignation of 11 ministers. The ministers resigned in opposition to the politicization of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon tasked with investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, which Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has pointed out is more concerned with investigating some groups than others.

An excerpt from Crowley’s discourse:

We’re working with the Lebanese Government and other partners who share our interest in stability and justice for Lebanon, including France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Egypt, on next steps that will protect the work of the tribunal and help to achieve stability in the Lebanon. We encourage all Lebanese to work together to avoid threats and actions that could cause instability and to enable the governing coalition to serve the interest of the Lebanese people in justice, stability, and peace. Hezbollah is presenting a false choice for Lebanon of justice or stability. We think that Lebanon deserves both”.


The Other Side of the Wall

"Camouflage for the conscience" (Photo: William Parry)

PULSE recently published a series of photographs of photojournalist William Parry’s Christmastime project in London: projecting images of Israel’s apartheid wall in Bethlehem onto edifices in the British capital. (View the images in three separate sets here, here, and here).

Parry has now written a piece entitled “The writing on the other side of the wall” for New Left Project, which begins by mentioning that in November “it was reported that a US-based group called Artists 4 Israel (A4I), modestly calling themselves ‘New York’s finest urban artists’, had attempted to enter Bethlehem to paint over some of the ‘anti-Israeli’ graffiti that appears on Israel’s illegal separation wall”.

The article goes on to address other undertakings by the group—run by Craig Dershowitz, who according to The Jewish Week defines himself as “very distantly related to Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz”—such as painting bomb shelters in the Israeli town of Sderot and the illegal West Bank settlement of Ariel. Dershowitz was quoted last April in Ynetnews claiming that “teaching Israeli kids graffiti will help them to not just leave their mark on local walls, but write a better future for the region”, and that such art projects “transform the grim reminders of war… into soaring masterpieces of freedom and expression”.


Global Thinkers versus Non: A Chat with Gideon Levy

Gideon Levy

Two years have passed since Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s 22-day war on Gaza that began on 27 December 2008 and resulted in over 1400 Palestinian deaths. At the time, Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy noted the ironic application of the term “war”—defined by the Even-Shoshan dictionary as “an armed clash between armies, a conflict between state bodies (nations, states) in battle operations with the use of weapons and by force of arms”—to a situation in which only one of the sides possesses a state, an army, and a senior military officer who describes the conflict as “a superb call-up and training exercise”.

Reviewing the various advantages of invoking the lexicon of war, Levy wrote:

War makes it possible to mobilize, call to the flag and unite the ranks of the [Israeli] people, which most of the time are more interested in the seacoast of [the Turkish resort city of] Antalya than in any West Bank outpost. Only in war are we permitted to have media that sound more like the briefing room of the IDF Spokesman. In war, propaganda is all right. Using the word ‘war’ also validates war crimes, which might be prohibited in just a plain operation. If it’s war, then let’s go all the way: white phosphorus shells in the streets and artillery against population shelters; hundreds of women and children killed; strikes against rescue units and supply services. Hey, this is war, right?”