Leaked Luntz Poll: Majority of Americans don’t support Israeli flotilla raid.

Think Progress

Via Didi Remez (whose Coteret blog has become an indispensable resource for progressives on Israel-Palestine issues), Israel’s Channel Ten TV News was leaked a memo on a Frank Luntz poll commissioned by the right-wing propaganda outfit The Israel Project analyzing the effectiveness of the Israeli government’s public diplomacy efforts around the Gaza flotilla raid.

A summary of the findings:

1. 56% of Americans agree with the claim that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza;
2. 43% of Americans agree with the claim that people in Gaza are starving;
3. 34% of Americans support the Israeli operation against the Flotilla;
4. 20% of Americans “felt support” for Israel following announcement of easing of Gaza closure.

Consider these numbers against the fact that 84 Senators and 298 Representatives — 71% of the U.S. Congress — signed an AIPAC-backed letter supporting the flotilla raid. The Israel Project has worked with Luntz before, and gotten in trouble for it. Last year, columnist Doug Bloomfield obtained a copy of the group’s “Global Language Dictionary,” developed in conjunction with Luntz, which advocated equating an end to illegal Israeli settlement building with “ethnic cleansing” against Jews. Last December, journalist Spencer Ackerman also discovered that The Israel Project was shopping around an anti-Iran petition loaded up with false signatures.

Iranian aid ships set sail for Gaza

This is a little disconcerting, to put it mildly.  Iran, of all countries should not be involved in the Gaza Flotilla Aid movement.  Iran’s history of adversarial political relations with Israel is a catalyst for an armed conflict on the high seas that could actually provoke a war between the two countries.  I am not sure how or why this has slipped under the radar of the United States media.  This is like some kid game of “dare” that could actually get out of hand. 

One can understand the “humanitarian effort” that Iran is putting forth…IF that is their legitimate motive.  The Gaza Blockade is inhumane, in my opinion.  But Iran could have sent a surrogate country to ship their aid packages.  At this point and time in our history, the two countries, Iran and Israel are perhaps the most volatile of adversaries in the world.

I have to question Iran’s motive to “pick a fight” with Israel at this time.  It appears that “provocation” might in fact be their true motive here.


Iran is sending aid ships to blockaded Gaza, state radio said on Monday – a move likely to be considered provocative by Israel which accuses Tehran of arming the Palestinian enclave’s Islamist rulers, Hamas.

One ship left port on Sunday and another will depart by Friday, loaded with food, construction material and toys, the report said. The boats would be part of international efforts to break Israel’s isolation of the Gaza Strip.

“Until the end of the Gaza blockade, Iran will continue to ship aid,” said an official at Iran’s Society for the Defense of the Palestinian Nation.

While Israel has long suspected Iran, which rejects the Israel’s right to exist, of supplying weapons to Hamas, Tehran says it only provides moral support to the group.

Israeli troops two weeks ago boarded a flotilla of Turkish aid ships heading to Gaza on May 31 and killed nine pro-Palestinian activists, most of them Turks.

Public opinion in Muslim countries was outraged by the killings. An official of the Iranian Red Crescent Society’s youth organization said some 100,000 Iranians had volunteered as potential crew for aid ships, Iran daily reported.

A senior Iranian official said earlier Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards were ready to provide a military escort to aid ships heading to Gaza if Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei so commands.

But the Guards’ deputy head, Hossein Salami, said there were no plans to do so. “Such a thing is not on our agenda,” he was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency on Monday.

Any such military mobilization would risk a major confrontation with Israel, which fears Iran’s nuclear enrichment program is aimed at developing atomic bombs.

Israel regards Iran’s nuclear ambitions as a mortal threat. Iran says its nuclear program is meant solely to yield electricity or isotopes for medicine and agriculture.

The Al Qaeda Connection

The Daily Dish – Andrew Sullivan

IHH denies this; Washington says it has no evidence; the IDF conceded that:

“We don’t have any evidence. The press release was based on information from the [Israeli] National Security Council.” (The Israeli National Security Council is Netanyahu’s kitchen cabinet of advisors).

The source for Stephens’ assertion, however, is this Danish Institute study (PDF) that does indeed persuasively show links between IHH and al Qaeda in the 1990s:

An examination of IHH’s phone records in Istanbul showed repeated telephone calls in 1996 to an Al-Qaida guesthouse in Milan and various Algerian terrorist operatives active elsewhere in Europe – including the notorious Abu el-Ma`ali, who has been subsequently termed by U.S. officials as a “junior Osama Bin Laden.”

During the later Seattle trial of would-be Al-Qaida Millenium bomber Ahmed Ressam, federal prosecutors called French magistrate Bruguiere to the stand as an expert witness. Bruguieretestified that IHH had played “[a]n important role” in the Al-Qaida Millenium bomb plot targeting LAX. Under repeated questioning, Bruguiere insisted that “[t]here’s a rather close relation”:

The IHH is an NGO, but it was kind of a type of cover-up… in order to obtain forged documents and also to obtain different forms of infiltration for Mujahi- deen in combat. And also to go and gather[recruit] these Mujahideens. And finally, one of the last responsibilities that they had was also to be implicated or involved in weapons trafficking.

It’s important to note the Islamist ties of IHH, and its past relationship with al Qaeda. What we cannot say is if any al Qaeda members were on board the ship, the Mavi Marmara. In fact, we simply have no evidence to back that up at all. One might have thought that taking the word of Cheney’s Netanyahu’s kitchen cabinet  about al Qaeda links might be a little radioactive after the Iraq war. But no. We’re back where we were.

Netanyahu: Activists On Board Ship Were ‘Thugs’ Who Came Prepared To Fight

Huffington Post

JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister claimed Sunday that the Turkish activists who battled Israeli naval commandos in a deadly clash last week prepared for the fight ahead of time, before boarding the ship in a different city from the rest of the passengers.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s charges highlight Israel’s frantic efforts to portray the activists as terrorists and counter a wave of harsh international condemnation that has left the Jewish state isolated and at odds with some of its closest allies.

Last Monday’s operation, in which nine activists were killed aboard a ship headed to the blockaded Gaza Strip, damaged Israel’s ties with Turkey – its main Muslim ally – and brought heavy pressure on Israel to lift the 3-year closure of Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Netanyahu told his Cabinet that “dozens of thugs” from “an extremist, terrorism-supporting” organization had readied themselves for the arrival of the naval commandos.

“This group boarded separately in a different city, organized separately, equipped itself separately and went on deck under different procedures,” he said. “The clear intent of this hostile group was to initiate a violent clash with (Israeli) soldiers.”

Late Sunday, Netanyahu’s office released a statement saying he discussed the international criticism with world leaders, including Vice President Joe Biden, the president of France and the premier of Canada. Netanyahu told them any country would act in self defense if it were targeted by thousands of rockets as Israel has been by Gaza militants.

Videos released by the military have shown a crowd of men attacking several naval commandos as they landed on a ship from a helicopter, beating the soldiers with clubs and other objects and hurling one soldier overboard.          Continue reading…