Monday, April 21, 2014
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Middle East Issues





Navigational Error at "Fareed Zakaria GPS"


Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International and host of the CNN show "Fareed Zakaria GPS," veered way off course on his CNN broadcast yesterday about the Gaza flotilla, saying:
 In fact, think of the original action at the heart of all of this, the annexation of the West Bank and Gaza itself.

But as this supposed expert in international law should know, Israel never annexed the Gaza Strip or the West Bank. (With the exception of the eastern parts of Jerusalem, which expanded into West Bank land.) This is a straightforward error which requires an on-air correction.

Zakaria further errs when he states:

Now, the convoy to Gaza was a problem, but one best solved with negotiations, not deadly military force. There was no imminent threat to Israeli lives that necessitated military action, but it does seem that Israel has gotten used to a self-defeating spiral in which it shoots first and deals with the fallout afterwards.

The implication that Israel did not engage in negotiations, and instead immediately opted for a military solution, is absurd. As CNN reported May 31:

If indeed it were a humanitarian mission, it would have accepted, weeks ago, during the planning stages, the  offer  by the  Israeli  authorities to transfer the  aid,  through to the port of  Ashdod, to Gaza through the existing overland crossing, in accordance with established procedures," said Daniel Carmon, Israel's deputy permanent U.N. representative.

Indeed, Israel repeatedly reiterated its offer to deliver the activists' aid to Gaza if they would dock peacefully in Ashdod. That offer, rejected outright by the Free Gaza activists with calls to "go back to Auschwitz" was repeated until shortly before the maritime confrontation.

Turkish Foreign Minister's Falsehoods

Also notable in the broadcast was the blatant misinformation so blandly uttered by Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs. For instance, falsifying international law, he charged:
 And a civilian ship was attacked by Israeli forces in international waters, high sea, 72 miles away from the Israeli coast. And, according to international law and custom, this is a crime.
Later, he reiterates — again without challenge from Zakaria — "No country has right to touch ships traveling in international waters. . . ."

Yet, as discussed here and here, the San Remo Manual on International Law explicitly does allow attacks on neutral ships travelling in international waters when they ignore warnings to avoid a blockade.

Regarding the Turkish group IHH, Davutoglu whitewashes and Zakaria fails to respond:

Zakaria: Mr. Foreign Minister, an Israeli official has described the Turkish NGO that sponsored this flotilla as an organization with ties to terror groups. Can you confirm or deny that?

Davutoglu: How can we call them a terrorist group if there is one Nobel winner in the group and there is a very high level representative of the Catholic Church and there are members of parliament of Europe? There are several leading intellectuals and journalists.

If anybody wants, I think they should look at the list of passengers. And I am challenging -- there's a very good question here. If somebody argues that there is a terrorist in the ship, they can give names to Turkey and we can follow the case.

Here, Davutoglu conflates all 600-plus members of the flotilla, a varied group of people belonging to different movements and organizations, and falsely suggests that they are all -- Nobel Peace prize winner included — part of the IHH. In addition, it would behoove the GPS (Global Public Square) host to know that it's not only an Israeli official who has accused the IHH of ties with terror groups. Former investigating French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere has also noted the group's affiliations with terrorist networks, including a 1999 plot to bomb Los Angeles' international airport. An investigation by the Danish Institute for International Studies has also drawn the identical conclusions.

Moreover, MEMRI has published a list of several of the passengers, a veritable who's-who of senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood, a former Hezbollah journalist, Kuwaiti Salafists who back violence in Iraq, and others, including Dr. Hani Suleiman, the pro bono attorney for Japanese terrorist Kozo Okamoto, responsible for the massacre of 25 people in Israel's international airport.
 
As for the "very high level representative of the Catholic Church, assuming that Davutoglu is referring to Bishop Hilarion Capucci, he's hardly the saint that the foreign minister would like us to believe. As MEMRI reports, "in the 1970s [he] was convicted and imprisoned in Israel for smuggling weapons from Lebanon to the PLO, but afterwards was freed at the request of the Vatican. According to Algerian flotilla participants, Hilarion said that he was 'waiting for the day when he could return to Palestine and hear the church bells and the muezzins' calls of 'Allah Akbar,' under the skies of a free Palestine.'" Church bells and muezzins, but not Jewish prayers.
 
The Israeli army spokesmen's unit, for its part, yesterday issued its own list of passengers linked to terrorism:

Fatimah Mahmadi (born 1979), is a United States resident of Iranian origin, and an active member of the organization "Viva Palestine", she attempted to smuggle forbidden electronic components into the Gaza Strip.
 
Ken O'Keefe (born 1969), an American and British citizen, is a radical anti-Israel activist and operative of the Hamas Terror organization. He attempted to enter the Gaza Strip in order to form and train a commando unit for the Palestinian terror organization.
 
Hassan Iynasi (born 1982), a Turkish citizen and activist  in a Turkish charity organization, is known for providing financial support to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Terror organization.
 
Hussein Urosh, a Turkish citizen and activist in the IHH organization, was on his way to the Gaza Strip in order to assist in smuggling Al-Qaeda operatives via Turkey into the Strip.
 
Ahmad Umimon (born 1959), is a French citizen of Moroccan origin, and an operative of the Hamas Terrorist organization.

Thus, Mr. Davutoglu's protestation —"We want to know the facts"— is just another falsehood.
 
And Fareed Zakaria, who's role is to elicit a true picture of events for viewers, gets his own facts wrong and does a further disservice to the public with his supine attitude toward a guest spewing misinformation. 

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