Three cheers for Julian Huppert MP

Three cheers (and a pint, if we happen to see down the pub) for Cambridge's Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert who intervened to prevent the repatriation of an immigrant to a nation where he was likely to be persecuted and tortured.

Cambridge's LibDem MP Julian Huppert - a good bloke, even if he is a politician.

It's about time a few politicians stood up for immigrants, who - by allowing the right wing press (especially the Daily Mail, which is virtually fascist) to ram a load of utter racist rot down the electorate's collective throat - they have used as a convenient scapegoat, allowing them to take the blame for problems that were in fact the government's fault all along.

Secondly, repatriating immigrants to nations where they will face persecution, torture and even murder is shameful and flies in the face of all the traditionally British qualities that make us a great country. Mr. Huppert should feel as proud of himself as we do to have him as our MP.


Dead Mouse Found In Bread

Mr. Forse, of Oxfordshire, thought at first the dough from which his bread had been made had not been mixed properly, leading to a slightly misshapen lump of discoloured dough. However, on closer inspection, the lump turned out to be a dead mouse.

He then contacted his local council, and environmental health officers visited his home and took the bread away, which in turn led to a court case in which the baker - the ironically-named Premier Foods - was fined £5,500 and just over £11,100 costs. Just before leaving, one of the officers informed Mr. Forse that the mouse's tail was missing.

Mouse sandwich, anyone?

Mr. Forse had already used a few slices to make sandwiches for his family. Had one of them unwittingly enjoyed a tasty mouse tail sarnie?

Who cares? Are we the only ones who are utterly dismayed that none of the news sources carrying the story make any mention of whether or not a post-portem was carried out on the rodent, just to set our minds at rest that poor Mousey fell dead into the bread tin and did not suffer a horrific fate being half-drowned in bread dough and then slowly baked to death?

That is the information that matters.

Mousey in happier times. His widow, Mrs. Mousey (pictured on the left), describes the incident as "a tragedy."


Anti-Israel protestors meet their match

The so-called pro-Palestine mob, still failing to see that since Israel donates vast amounts of humanitarian aid to Gaza and rehabilitates victims of Hamas' nasty little habit of throwing anyone who dares disagree with them off the roofs of high buildings means they and anyone else with any concerns for the wellbeing of the Palestinian people would be a lot wiser to support international trade with the Jewish state (after all, more trade=richer Israel. Richer Israel=even more aid to Gaza) have been keeping their silly heads busy of late by protesting outside the Covent Garden shop occupied by Israeli beauty product company Ahava and have been having a jolly old time waving their (usually lie-filled) placards and singing nasty songs.
However, on the 11th of September, they met their match in the singing stakes - a group of Israeli tourists entered the shop and then decided to join forces with the resident pro-Israeli crowd ( a crowd consisting of one - very brave, considering how outnumbered she was - woman with an Israeli flag.) They then began singing an assortment of Israeli songs, including Am Israel Chai. Unsurprisingly, the "pro-Palestinians" took issue with this. Their response, however, is slightly peculiar: they decided to yell "racist sum!" at the Israelis. Precisely how singing a song with a title meaning "the people of Israel live" makes one a racist is obscure - or quite possibly entirely nonsensical, many of the "pro-Palestinians" not being the brightest minds as already pointed out at the start of this post.
The "pro-Palestinian" lobby have had it all their own way for far too long, with too many people believing their biased version of events, selective retellings of reality and outright lies, so it's fantastic to see them drowned out for once.
More video and a considerably better write-up than this one at RichardMillet's Blog.


Israel and the PA to restart peace talks

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have been invited to talks in Washington this September after both parties agreed to restart the peace talks that broke down more than a year and a half ago.

That's good news, surely? Could it be that and end to suffering is finally in sight for the millions of people who live in the West Bank, in Gaza and in those Israeli areas that daily face the
Qassam rockets aimed indiscriminately at homes, shops, schools and hospitals? Let's all hope so.

Will the new round of peace negotiations be a success? Does Hillary even care? After all, just getting Israel and the PA to start talking again is seriously good PR for her and her boss as the Democrat's popularity continues on its downward spiral now that the USA has realised Obama isn't actually a god after all.

However, there would appear to be a slight problem. Take a look at the PA's human rights records. They're an organisation that regularly denies the freedom of speech of those they claim to speak for, thinks nothing of contravening the freedom of the press when news agencies see fit to publish stories they don't want people knowing about, promotes religious intolerance, tortures political dissidents and carries out extrajudicial executions, does nothing to prevent honour killings and may even have created infrastructure promoting them, takes little action to prevent or reduce violence towards women, leading Human Rights Watch to accuse them of "failing to act diligently to prevent, investigate, and punish violence against women, putting women's health and lives in jeopardy. Ultimately, the PA is denying victims their rights under international human rights law to non-discrimination and an effective judicial remedy for abuse", oppresses homosexuals and, according to journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, do everything within their power to prevent the international community from finding out about their "massive abuse of human rights and intimidation of journalists that its security forces are practicing almost on a daily basis in the West Bank."

Democratic nations, such as Israel and the USA, cannot conduct any sort of meaningful peace talks with an organisation like the PA because it is obvious that the PA are not working towards the best interests of the Palestinian people. They are nothing more than an oppressive and inhumane regime that utilises fear and violence to keep the will of the Palestinian people suppressed.

As Khaled Abu Toameh continues,
"The Palestinians do not need a dictatorship that harasses and terrorizes journalists, and that is responsible for the death of detainees in its prisons. In the Arab world we already have enough dictatorships.

The Palestinians do not need additional security forces, militias and armed gangs. In fact, there are too many of them, both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip."

One day, there will be peace in Israel and Palestine. The majority of the people, like people everywhere, simply want to live their lives without fear, violence and bloodshed and with enough food to feed themselves and their children. One day, the Palestinian people will realise that it's the PA who are preventing them from achieving these aims and when that happens, it'll only be a matter of time before they rise against the PA and destroy them. Perhaps they will then establish a democratic government with whom those nations that value human rights and freedoms can negotiate.


Le Tour de France 2010 pt 2

Having seen the riders' protest at the concrete Belgian roads in Stage 2 (riders in the peloton refused to sprint at the finish line and crossed en masse, forcing the Tour authorities to award everyone second place) and the grimaces of pain yesterday as they rode on cobbles (which, admittedly, resembled mountain bike singletrack more than a road suited to skinny-wheeled racing bikes and which will no doubt bring a new wave of complaints), you have to wonder if they've become spoiled.

Take, for example, Stage 5 of the 1919 Tour - it covered 492km between Les Sables d'Olonne and Bayonne. That's more than three times the distance they covered yesterday. The pictures below, from an album on le Tour's official Facebook page, show just what the riders of old endured...

Or how about if they had to schlep their own spare parts around, like this chap with his inner tubes round his neck, instead of relying on a support car stuffed full of spare wheels, bikes and anything else they might need? (Not to mention the chap on the right who, going by the goggles, is a rider himself. Cycling clothing has certainly moved on somewhat).

These days, the roads are cleared as le Tour passes through and all the riders need worry about is dodging the support cars and camera motorbikes (which do their utmost to keep out of the way). Horse-drawn farm vehicles are notable by their absence these days.

Tour riders are famous for their enormous appetites (they often have difficulty adjusting to normal human food intake following retirement, which is why Eddy Merckx looks a bit like Gordon Brown these days) but no matter how desperate for food, I suspect the majority would opt for mountains of freshly-cooked pasta in the team bus rather than traditional rustic French fare in a cafe like this one. (I wonder if he's eating the boiled frogs in Belleville Rendezvous?)

Night stages were dropped as the darkness provided an irresistible opportunity for riders to cheat. These days, with modern technology such as night vision goggles, they might well provide variety (though the logistics could be difficult - nobody would be able to race after a day in the saddle not the day after a night stage, so you'd have to sandwich it between two rest days).

Misjudge this turn in the darkness and you'd come to a sticky end - by the looks of it, that slope to the right of the road drops off sharply right behind the spectators.

That dog that got onto the road on Stage 1 caused chaos. How about a whole flock of sheep?

If the Belgian roads and Stage 3 cobbles were enough to spark protest, how would modern riders cope with this? No idea which Tour this is, but looking at the clothes and the bike I'd guess either pre-WW1 or shortly afterwards. Remember that back then bikes were based on farmyard gate designs and had a weight to match.

Back in the day, the entire race would periodically stop when the riders passed a cafe or bar that one of their number happened to know and recommend and not re-start until everyone had finished their drinks. It was also common to see riders sit up in the saddle and light a Gauloises or pipe - all things the modern, super-athletic rider avoids like the plague, of course, but one can't help suspect that despite their superhuman fitness they're a much softer and more domesticated breed than the riders of years gone by.


Le Tour De France 2010

...starts today, so don't expect many posts for the next three weeks as we'll be too busy watching sport that genuinely challenges participants both physically and mentally, unlike that pointless football thing that the world has been so excited about just recently, and are likely to hotfoot it over to France the moment Bradley Wiggins looks like winning.

Vive Bradley Wiggins!
Vive Team Sky!
Vive Lance!
Vive Didi Senft!
Vive le Tour!


Having had a difficult few months of doing basically sod all other than getting drunk, we've decided it's time we went on holiday. Back next weekend - unless anything interesting happens and inspires us to fire up the ol' Blackberry.


Israel boards another aid vessel

Have you ever been arrested? I have - in 1993 for possession of a controlled class B substance, namely about 1/32 of an ounce of cannabis resin, not too long after my eighteenth birthday which was a stroke of luck as it meant my mum never found out. I'd just left college and, having read Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London a few months previously which had affected me in the way that Orwell tends to affect left-wing teenagers, rather than doing the old "going to India to find myself" routine I decided I'd have a go at being a tramp (by which, I should point out for the benefit of our dear American readers, I mean a travelling itinerant or hobo, not a lady of questionable morals). As such I travelled the highways and byways of England for a while, mostly on foot with a rucksack full of army surplus clothing and an assortment of bits and pieces collected along the way but also by hitch-hiking when it rained or the pain from my blisters became sufficiently bad as to supercede my middle class teenage zealotry.

A far bigger bit of cannabis resin than I got caught with.

'Twas on such a day that I found myself in one of those Midlands towns (I'd read The Road to Wigan Pier too, and was heading thataway to take a look - also, like many upon hearing that Wigan has a pier, I had assumed it to be a seaside resort and seaside resorts are good places for those whose diet depends on the generosity of others, assuming one can get to discarded chips before the seagulls do) that has little left since the demise of local industry, having been dropped there the day previously by a travelling businessman of some description who had almost killed us both on a number of occasions whilst driving up the A1 through several attempts to interface his Peugeot 205 with thundering juggernauts. I'd pitched my tent in a coppice and it then proceeded to bucket it down all night, so I had a fairly miserable night sheltering under leaky canvas eating the packet of rapidly-hardening doughnuts I had pilfered from the bins round the back of a Kwik-Save shop, conceding that perhaps those college comrades who had opted for three months in Goa and a weekly allowance from Daddy had known what they were about after all.

Next morning, despite the rain having cleared up and the sun being in the sky, the town was nevertheless pervaded by greyness, the same greyness that comes from mass unemployment and despair and foretells galloping numbers of heroin addicts and race riots to come. So, I decided to get my self out of their as sharply as possible and head for the countryside, which is a far better place to be a tramp if one knows how to catch a rabbit (yes, I know - I didn't keep kosher in those days) and what hedge garlic looks like, and readied my rucksack and thumb for more hitch-hiking.

I stood on the roadside for around half an hour when a Mini Metro in police livery drew up. "Surely not," I thought, "is he going to give me a lift?" He was not.

The car contained two coppers and one, who seemed not much older than myself, stepped out of his car and we moved a short way up the grassy bank running along the side of the road. "There's nothing to worry about, mate," he said, "we're just having a look at who's out and about in the area. Do you have anything on you that you shouldn't have, at all?"

"Erm, not really," I replied, as you do, then thinking at least some degree of honesty might work in my favour. So I told him that there was a large sheath knife in the canvas bag that I used to carry stuff such as tobacco that I might need without the hassle of opening my rucksack.

"Let's have a look at it," he instructed. I opened my bag to retrieve the knife, but his hands were inside it the moment I unfastened the buckle. He ignored the knife completely and instead brought out the grey plastic box within which I kept tobacco, cigarette papers and - as he had correctly guessed - cannabis. He opened the box and rummaged through the contents before placing it on the ground. Next he took out the knife and had a good look at that - with a blade six inches long, it was most certainly enough to earn me a conviction for carrying an offensive weapon. Had he missed the cannabis, I wondered, or perhaps decided that since it was such a small amount arresting me for it wasn't worth his time? I then told him about the hatchet and the high-powered hunting catapult in my rucksack, so he brought those out too along with a small plastic jar containing a herbal substance - this, however, was merely dried tansy, a common flower which insects absolutely loathe and which I had been using to keep flies out of the tent by hanging it in the doorway. I told him this and he believed me.

"Right," he said, "I am arresting you for possession of a controlled substance..." If you've ever watched The Bill you already know the rest of the spiel. I expected to be handcuffed at this point, but I was not - why? The only reason I could think of was, other than my original reluctance to admit that I had some cannabis, I had been straight-forward, honest and co-operative. I then realised that he too had been perfectly polite towards me with none of the aggressiveness that police tend to show towards unwashed hippy teenagers in films. The arresting officer was sitting in the front passenger's seat holding my knife and hatchet, turning them over in his hands. "Did we ever recover the blade and axe used in the Harrison murders?" he asked his colleague. "Shit," I thought, really not wanting to be arrested on suspicion of murder too - but he turned round to look at me with an enormous grin on his face. We traded quips for the remainder of the journey to the police station and, by the time we got there, I realised that he was the sort of man with whom I'd very happily go for a pint.

At the station, I was asked to sit on a plastic bench right next to the open front doors - at no time was I put in a cell. The arresting officer spoke to the desk sergeant and I heard him report why I had been arrested, also mentioning that I'd given them no trouble and it ought to be a routine matter. He then returned to me and began fiddling with the catapult, calling over to the desk sergeant to come and have a look. "This'd be bloody handy when you're chasing a mugger, eh?" he said, grinning and pulling back the latex bands for a dry shot. Then - and I swear to you this is not a lie, the three of us went out into the station carpark for ten minutes with the catapult and ball bearing ammunition and I showed them how to aim it, firing at a splodge of white paint on a wall.

Following this, I was taken back into the station and led to an interview room where he asked me a few questions - name, address (which I gave as no fixed abode), where I'd been, where I was going and what I doing and I was entirely truthful. He then said, "I suppose you're not going to tell us who sold you the cannabis, right?"

"Nope," I told him, because although coppers were sometimes known to unarrest people and release them without charge in return for information of this kind I was brought up much better than that. Thus I got a caution, which is basically a telling-off and being made to promise you won't be naughty that will be mentioned and used against you should you be arrested for any other offences during the next three years. My belongings were returned to me and I was invited to check through them to make sure nothing was missing. I did so, and told them that something was indeed missing - 1/32 of an ounce of cannabis and could I have it back please? This also got a laugh.

I was then allowed to leave, having been in custody for no more than an hour, furnished by the desk sergeant with the valuable tip that if I returned to the place where I had been attempting to get a lift I'd probably be there for the next few days as it was notorious for speeding and an accident blackspot, so police cars patrolled it constantly and drivers would be unlikely to stop. He suggested instead that I try a smaller road which joined the A1 some miles out of town and was the preferred route for locals. I did so, getting a lift almost immediately as far as Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire, the location of three menhirs known as The Devil's Arrows which I had been wanting to have a look at and where I met a man who ate worm curry (but that's another story altogether). I never did get to Wigan, but from what I've since heard about the place I didn't miss much.

Anyway, I learned a valuable lesson that day. Not that smoking cannabis is wrong - I continued smoking it regularly until my early 30s and still remain unconvinced that its illegality is either necessary or wise, but that when one is forced to deal with the police, co-operation and honesty will go a long way to ensuring the process is as painless, quick and easy as possible. Like most cannabis users I was to have many, many more encounters with Her Maj's Constabulary over the years but I have never again been arrested - unlike my dope-smoking friends who, on the whole, have been arrested several times and in some cases have received financial and/or custodial punishment. There have been times when the car we were travelling in has been pulled over and although I have never admitted to being in possession of cannabis without being prompted to do so - that would be plain idiocy - when asked if I have anything I shouldn't have I have followed a policy of telling them what I have, how much of it and where it is. On one occasion, a friend named Chris and I were stopped and asked. I confessed immediately that I had a quarter of an ounce of resin in my pocket and handed it over. Chris, meanwhile, denied having anything naughty about his person and became verbally aggressive. A police van was called to the scene and in the back I was asked to turn out my pockets and asked if I had ever been in trouble with the police before - I replied that yes I had, and told them all about the caution resulting from the incident above despite it having taken place six or seven years previously and for this reason there being no requirement for me to mention it. Chris, meanwhile, was subjected to a full strip search. When they found approximately 1/16th of an ounce in his pocket, a quarter of the amount I had, he was arrested and remained in a cell overnight; whereas I was informed that I was free to go.

It's simple, really. If a copper asks you something, tell the truth. If he or she tells you do something, do it. Do not try to make life difficult for them, because they have pepper spray, superior numbers and the law on their side which, all in all, means that they can make life a very great deal more difficult for you.

"OK Acid Rabbi my old matey," you may be thinking, "You've been waffling on for 1,955 words now. Are you actually going anywhere with this?" Unless, that is, you've become bored; in which case you've probably wandered off to some other part of the Internet and are now laughing at photographs of cats with funny captions.

The Rachel Corrie in dock.

Well, yes I am - but what with all those spliffs I used to smoke it might take me a few minutes with this dodgy old hard drive I call a memory to remember precisely what my track was before I can get back on it. Oh yes - I know - same thing I've been banging on about all week: Israel, Gaza and the so-called aid flotilla. As we all know, the Rachel Corrie - a ship which had intended to set sail along with the Mavi Marmara which was boarded by the Israeli Defense Forces on Monday, causing those on board to violently attack the commandos and get shot at as a result, was unable to do so due to technical difficulties but it eventually set sail and, this morning, approached the exclusion zone established in the waters around Gaza by Israel to prevent the smuggling of arms and explosives as used in the construction of the 8,600 Qassam rockets that Hamas has fired into Israel, often targeting civilian areas. According to flotilla organisers the Free Gaza Movement, the ship has a non-working radio - as a result of Israeli sabotage, claim conspiracy theorists and the terminally, ridiculously paranoid - which rather forces one to wonder why it wasn't fitted with new one while those technical problems were being sorted out; meaning that it has been impossible for the Free Gaza Movement to contact those aboard and let them know that Israel remained resolute in its understandable unwillingness to allow it to dock in Gaza without first being checked for banned items. However, there can be no doubt that they will have been aware of this - the ship set out after Monday on the 2nd of June and, according to the organisers, has been tailed by three Israeli naval vessels. As was the case with the Mavi Marmara and the other five vessels making up the flotilla, Israel says it made three requests that the ship changed course for an Israeli port where it could dock and unload, allowing the cargo to be checked before being transported to Gaza for distribution through Israel's existing channels which are used to deliver 15,000 tons of aid weekly, stating that if it did not change course they would board it and steer it towards the port of Ashdod themselves.

A Qassam rocket fired by Hamas, displayed in Sderot town hall with photographs of people killed by similar devices.

"We have contacted the boat and we've asked them politely to change course to Ashdod port. If they choose to do so, we promise them we won't board the ship," Lieutenant-Colonel Avital Liebovich of the Israeli Navy said - no idle promise this, either, because she said it to the BBC. You don't say something like this to the world's largest broadcaster if you don't intend to keep your promise - especially if, as has for once happened with Israel in the wake of Monday's events, the world is slowly beginning to realise that they might have been a bit hasty in their original condemnation of your actions - because it's going to be transmitted all over the Earth and people will hold you to it.

As was the case with the Mavi Marmara, those requests were ignored and the Rachel Corrie continued sailing towards the exclusion zone - which can only be interpreted as deliberate provocation on the part of those aboard. And, as was also the case with the Mavi Marmara, the IDF were forced to board the vessel. However, unlike the Mavi Marmara, the peace protestors chose not to viciously attack the commandos, which meant that the soldiers were not forced to draw and use their sidearms in an effort to protect themselves. Because of their decision to remain peaceful and comply, the vessel is now on its way to Ashdod and the cargo will continue its journey to Gaza once it's been inspected.

Remember what I said about not trying to make life difficult for the police - or, in the case, the IDF? That way, they'll return the favour. Deliberate antagonise an officer and expect him or her not take any steps to make life any easier for you. Attack an officer and expect to be met with very forceful resistance. Likewise Israeli commandos: violently attack them with metal bars, knives and - according to some reports - guns and stun grenades and there's every chance they'll put down their paintball guns and use any means necessary to protect themselves. The delayed departure of the Rachel Corrie may well prove very fortunate for Israel, because this time the eyes of the world were watching very closely indeed and have seen that the IDF do not attack unarmed, non-violent civilians. When those aboard the Mavi Marmara picked up weapons and began using them they gave up their status as unarmed, non-violent civilians and the IDF were fully within their rights to protect themselves. Israel is not an aggressive, violent state but when attacked, she has the right to defend herself and her people.

Honestly though - attacking commandos. How stupid can people actually be?


Another "aid" ship en route to Gaza

Don't you sometimes wish that we were all issued with a life remote control at birth, allowing us to fast-forward, pause and - perhaps best of all - erase? It'd be great, wouldn't it?

Well, we're not and it doesn't look very likely to happen any time soon so we may as well stop thinking about how great it would be. However, just once in a while the Universe does give us an opportunity to rewind and see something again, only paying more attention this time.

Other than a few governmental departments, hardly anyone really paid that much attention to the so-called "aid flotilla" over the weekend and Monday as it made its way towards Gaza up until Israeli commandos boarded the ships and were violently attacked with an assortment of improvised weapons, eventually forcing them to resort to their sidearms which caused nine deaths (and we'll make no apologies for the bias - the evidence speaks for itself); but one of those rare moments has arisen - it seems we may get to watch a very similar event as it happens. This is because another ship named the Rachel Corrie which was unable to sail with the flotilla due to mechanical problems has now set out. Precisely where it is is currently unknown, as it seems to have malfunctioning radio equipment - as a result of Israeli sabotage, say organisers the Free Gaza Movement a little ridiculously; some reports claim it has turned back, others say it it on its way and will arrive on Saturday. This does rather force one to wonder at the wisdom of sending people to sea without such a device, one that might seem to have become somewhat of a necessity in this day and age.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says, "We intend to direct the Rachel Corrie to the Ashdod port and transfer its civilian goods to Gaza following a security check." Does this sound like a threat? Audrey Bomse of the Free Gaza Movement thinks so.

Another possibility is that the Rachel Corrie was either intentionally sent out without a working radio or is maintaining radio silence so that the organisers can conveniently claim to be unable to order it to turn back if the rest of the world decides Israel is within its rights to demand it docks somewhere other than Gaza. That way, it can sail merrily on to the exclusion zone and force Israel to take further action, risking more criticism if things once again go wrong.

Once again Israel has stated that it is not comfortable with the idea of a ship docking in Gaza before it has had a chance to inspect the cargo for weapons and other banned items such as metal piping which can be used by Hamas to construct the Qassam rockets it regularly fires into civilian areas. Once again it has made it clear that if the ship docks at Ashdod, in Israel, the cargo will be inspected and distributed using Israel's already-established network through which over on million tons of aid have passed in the last 18 months. Once again this invitation is not being taken up.

Organiser Audrey Bomse says, "As a result of these threats, we're going to pull Rachel Corrie into a port, add more high-profile people on board, and insist that journalists from around the world also come with us."

Let's hope they do - the videos showing what happened on Monday have opened many people's eyes and made them begin to suspect that Israel might not be the evil aggressor despite what they read in the newspapers. If the IDF are again forced to board the vessel and the "peace protestors" are willing to co-operate and remain non-violent then the world will see that Israel is not the devil it is so often portrayed as being. If, on the other hand, they are attacked as happened on the Mavi Marmara, the world will see that Israel is simply defending herself and her people and fights only when deliberately provoked.


DID Israel act unlawfully?

Alan Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard (I know - great title! That's him on the right), argues that in boarding the Mavi Marmara in international waters Israel did not contravene international law.

"If there is no doubt," he says, "that the offending ships have made a firm determination to break the blockade, then the blockade may be enforced before the offending ships cross the line into offending waters." He adds, "...the United States and other Western countries have frequently boarded ships at high sea to assess their security."

Whichever way you look at it, Israel failed in its mission - this is evident because at least nine people are dead. However, it's looking increasingly as though it is above blame. As Professor Dershowitz points out, at "the moment any person on board picked up a weapon and began to attack the Israeli soldiers, they lost their status as innocent civilians."

Read his article in full here.

Anti-Israel bias on BBC's Newsnight?

The BBC's flagship news and current affairs programme Newsnight demonstrated what appeared to be a blatant example of the anti-Israel bias of which the corporation is frequently accused last night (02.06.10) when presenter Jeremy Paxman repeatedly referred to the IDF's boarding of the "aid ship" Mavi Marmara as an "attack." The show in its entirety - including excellent features on life inside Gaza and North Korea - can be seen here. In doing so, the BBC may well have failed utterly in its duty to remain impartial at all times, so I've just fired off a quick complaint which can be read below:

"While I understand Jeremy Paxman is fully entitled to his own beliefs, I would like to make a complaint over his continual use of the term "attack" in reference to Israel's raid upon the Mavi Marmara on Monday the 31st of May during his interview with US Assistant Secretary of State Philip J Crowley. At one point, Crowley took issue with this, leading Paxman to crowingly ask which other term could be used. How about "interception?"

While I have sufficent respect for Paxman as a journalist to convince me that he is above anti-Israeli prejudice, the word "attack" suggests that Israel's actions were aggressive and reprehensible, whereas there is a great deal of evidence to support their claims that they made several invitations for the vessel to dock in Israel where the cargo could be inspected and delivered to Gaza - after all, Israel surely is within its rights to take steps aimed at protecting its people from violence and, as it distributes 15,000 tons of aid to the region each week has the infrastructure to do so - and that it was in fact the activists on board who instigated the violence. At present we do not know and will not until any inquiry is complete - however, I feel that the BBC completely failed its duty to remain impartial during this broadcast."

Was Jeremy Paxman's insistence on referring to Monday's events as an "attack" acceptable and/or justifiable?

Hopefully, I'm not the only one - if you saw the broadcast either on television or online and felt similarly angered, why not consider making a complaint of your own via the BBC's website?

I've requested a reply and will keep you posted.

Israel must agree to an inquiry for the good of its own people and the Palestinians

In the video above we see Hillel Neuer, a leading advocate of human rights and executive director of
UN Watch (an accredited NGO associated with the US Department of Public Information), questioning the motives and real purpose of the "humanitarian aid" flotilla. Meanwhile, US Vice-President Joe Biden has emphasised his government's position, stating that "Israel has an absolute right to deal with its security interest." He added, "They have said, here you go. You're in the Mediterranean. This ship - if you divert it slightly North you can unload it and we'll get the stuff into Gaza...Well, it's legitimate for Israel to say, 'I don't know what's on that ship. These guys are dropping eight...three thousand rockets on my people.'"

There is little doubt that the Israeli government offered a number of invitations to the flotilla to dock in Israel, promising that the aid would be delivered and that they simply wanted to check it for banned items first - but the flotilla's organisers, including the very dubious "charity" IHH which is wodely suspected of maintaining links to Hamas (considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union, Canada, Japan and the USA) and Al Qaeda, refused these invitations; which can be viewed as deliberate provocation. Despite the "peace activist's" insistence that Israeli commandos attacked the Mavi Marmara with machine guns before boarding it, there has as yet been no evidence to suggest that this was the case - while increasing evidence seems to show that they were armed only with non-lethal paintball guns as used in Israel and many other nations during riot dispersal situations, turning to their handgun sidearms only when it became apparent that the people on the ship were determined to violently attack them. Released video seems undeniably - unless you want to claim the videos are faked, as some of the more idiotic conspiracy theorists online have already claimed - to show that the IDF were indeed attacked with staves, metal bars, chains and possibly stun grenades and guns. Further reports say the humanitarian aid onboard included a large amount of expired medicine and equipment in such poor condition as to be useless. Israel very quickly began to release people apprehended during the exercise and thus far, none of them have tried to accuse Israel - a modern democracy - of mistreating them while they were detained (an Israeli prison being by far the most preferable type if one is to be imprisoned anywhere in the Middle East, as while conditions are not ideal due to overcrowding - a situation also found in several other nations including the UK - prisoners are not treated in grossly inhumane ways nor routinely tortured, as is the case in many other nations in the region). Once checked and offloaded, the aid was made available to Gaza, but Hamas have prevented it being dispersed among the people - the efficiency with which Israel carried out delivery has highlighted the established infrastructure it has in place to deliver the 15,000 tons of humanitarian aid that it makes available to Gaza every week. Israel, it turns out, has delivered over one million tons of aid in the last 18 months, including 94,500 tons between January and March this year alone - more than a ton of aid for each and every man, woman and child in Gaza.

Online, an army of bloggers, Twitterers, Facebookers and representatives of assorted other Internet fauna more numerous than the IDF could ever hope to be are fighting hard to highlight the humanitarian work that Israel carries out in Gaza - not just the aid they donate and distribute, but their rehabilitation of Palestinians who have suffered horrific violence at the hands of Hamas such as those found guilty of opposing the organisation and thrown from roofs or tortured as an example to others, their recent decision to allow 781 Palestinians to leave Gaza so that they could receive treatment in Israel's modern and well-equipped hospitals and a whole host of other actions. The anti-Israel and/or antisemitic bloggers counter with all manner of accusations, such as claiming that the videos of the IDF being attacked have been faked by the Israeli government - but these days, most people have woken up to the fact that Protocols of the Elders of Zion-type worldwide Jewish conspiracy theories are just a little too ridiculous to be worth paying any attention whatsoever.

IDF video evidence proves beyond reasonable doubt that IDF commandos were violently attacked as they boarded the Mavi Marmara. An inquiry might prove that that the flotilla had deliberate provocation, in order to try to demonise Israel and damage its already-tarnished reputation, as a prime motive.

In addition, Israel has found some powerful allies - it's not just the USA, but Italy and the Netherlands - the latter being a nation with an admirable record on human rights and justice - who have come out in support. With all of the evidence and an enormous amount of individual support from people around the world, it may well prove to be in Israel's best interests if it agrees to participate fully in an international inquiry, providing of course that such an inquiry is guaranteed to be entirely free of bias against Israel or in favour of Hamas, because it is looking increasingly as though the nation is without blame in this incident.

If the world is shown that the IDF had no choice but to halt the flotilla if it wishes to protect its civilians - Jewish, Muslim, Christian and secular - and those of Gaza too from Hamas and the violence they regularly use, Israel may find herself with many more friends. Similarly, many people around the world may start thinking for themselves and realise that they have been seduced by the romantic image of the freedom fighter struggling to release his people from the chains inflicted upon them by an aggressive state and see Hamas for the terrorists with no concern for the Palestinian people that they truly are.


Those funny-looking IDF guns again

The top picture is, of course, a still taken from the released film of the IDF boarding the Mavi Marmara.

The bottom picture is the same image, only we've edited out the "machine gun" in the original and replaced it with a common design of paintball gun as seen in the bottom righthand corner before adjusting the amount of blur and darkening it to match the original.

We'll make no apologies for our lack of Photoshopping skills, but the two look strangely similar don't you think?

More Israeli evil

Israel is being evil again - guess what horrific humanitarian outrage they're inflicting on the poor old Palestinians this time? Rehabilitating people left physically disabled after being attacked by Hamas (such as by being thrown off roofs for perceived crimes like opposing Hamas, for example). Damn them!

(Video from Jewlicious.com)

Mavi Marmara Guns

Have a look at the "weapon" seen above, in a still taken from the video of the IDF storming the IHH-owned Mavi Marmara (which can be seen in full here, fast-forward and pause at 0.51 if you've already seen it more times than you've seen Grease). Odd-looking sort of gun, isn't it? What on earth is that peculiar thing stuck on top of it?

The so-called peace activists who were onboard the ship claim that they were attacked with machine guns. The IDF, meanwhile, claim that they used paintball guns - non-lethal devices used in riot dispersal situations by them and many other military/law enforcement organisations - and only began to fire live ammunition from their handguns after it became obvious that the situation was going to be as violent as it turned out to be.

Now have a look at the paintball guns below. All of them - says Acid Rabbi friend and supplier of links to dubious websites Lenny, who would quite like to be a soldier only he hates the idea of killing anything and is too old (and fat) - the type of guns he sees often when he goes paintballing.

The peculiar things stuck on top of them, by the way, are magazine-like containers called hoppers that store unused paintballs, feeding them into the gun's breech prior to firing. Lenny says he's willing to bet £5 that the gun in the video is in fact a Brass Eagle T-Storm, which he assures us is the second of the guns in the photographs seen above and is popular as it can easily be used either with either one or both hands (the commando in the video is holding his gun in one hand too).

Our expertise is not great in these matters, but we think we'd put a fiver on it too. That's what two pints of beer cost in our local, and for that reason believe us when we say it's a sum we wouldn't risk unless we were extremely keen on the odds of winning the bet.