As he has done for 2 years, Tony Blair urges Israel to lift its Gaza blockade

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    3rd June 2010

    UPDATE, 4th June: Blair expands on his thoughts on the way out of the morass that is Israel/Gaza/Hamas

    Blair urges Israel to lift Gaza blockade

    Tony Blair: “I don’t think it’s simply as a result of this incident. I just think the policy in Gaza’s counter-productive, and what we should be doing is allowing material in that rebuilds homes and sanitation and power and water systems…”

    Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that the blockade was necessary to prevent rocket attacks – “The same countries that are criticising us today should know that they would be targetted tomorrow.”

    I notice that over at the Sky News comments on this story there is far more support for Israel’s position than is the general consensus at such as The Guardian. Hamas’s foot-shooting – we won’t let the ships disembark its load (evidently not as desperately needed as we have been led to believe) until the Israelis release ALL the Boat people, has not helped their cause. Good. All the Israelis now have to do is retain a few of them – those they suspect of being linked to IHH.

    Over at Rentoul’s he too has this story, in response to those who ask “where is Tony Blair?”

    Blair yesterday on CCN calling for an end to the blockade, as he has done before. Several times.

    John Rentoul thanks Iain Martin for his thoughts, who in turn points to the famous moaner Jon Snow, and his “Is Gaza our fault too?”

    What Snow actually meant was “Blair’s fault too?” (and by the way, he asks, where is he?)

    The first question of Snow’s was meant to be rhetorical. It invariably is, when he asks. Just as it’s often innuendo-laden hysteria when he tells. True, Blair did not leap knee-jerking to criticism of the action the Israelis took. Let’s be blunt, that’s what Mr Snow from his well-known viewpoint would have wanted. It is never going to happen in the diplomatic world. The Americans and even the present British government limited their responses too. As regards negotiating and the Middle East Mr Blair once said that you can get off your chest all you like, but you still have to work with people the next day.

    So, although Mr Blair had actually made a statement the day prior to Mr Snow’s searching for him – the next day, a day after Snow’s “where is the envoy” query, CNN reported this –

    (CNN) — June 2, 2010 2:38 p.m. EDT Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has expressed concern over Israel’s policy towards Gaza following Monday’s commando raid on an international flotilla carrying aid to the blockaded Palestinian territory.

    Blair, an envoy for the Middle East Quartet — the U.S., Russia, the European Union and the United Nations — working toward peace in the region, said Israel’s blockade of the region since 2007 wasn’t working.

    “At the moment the difficulty with the current policy, apart from the events from the last few days is that we’re not helping the people and isolating the extremists,” Blair told CNN. “We’re in danger of doing it the wrong way round.”

    Blair also backed the U.N. Security Council’s call for a “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent” investigation into the raid which led to the deaths of at least nine people.

    “I think the important thing is people want to know the facts,” he told CNN. “So there’s got to be a proper investigation. I think Hillary Clinton set out the criteria very well and very sensibly earlier and we’ve got to get that under way.”

    Blair, who has publicly stated that he opposes the economic blockade of Gaza, said that one of the main issues facing the Palestinian territory was a lack of proper access.

    “I’ve been saying that for the best part of two years that this (the blockade) is a policy that doesn’t work,” Blair said.

    “At the present time it’s very hard to get materials into Gaza. We need to get not just humanitarian materials but materials that can rebuild the infrastructure.”

    Blair said that while “illegitimate” business interests were using tunnels to get goods into the territory, “what we’re not doing is allowing the sector that is legitimate, the proper business sector, to conduct its business and of course this is what we’ve got to change.”

    Blair also praised U.S. President Barack Obama for his government’s involvement in the region.

    “Well, the most important thing for the Americans is that President Obama’s gripped this from the very beginning of his time as president; I mean, that’s the single most important thing,” Blair said.

    “The important thing for America is that they continue to be engaged in this.”

    I do sometimes wonder what journalists are paid for – apart from looking for “facts” that back up their own “troofs”.

    David Aaronovitch – Gaza’s waves will crash on Turkey’s shore:

    “If the flotilla incident turns Turks against Israel and towards the east, it should fill us with fear for the future”

    In this, yet again, the issue of Gaza shows its capacity to cause polarisation and violence well beyond the land itself. The wealthy Turkish backers of the first boats are now putting together the money for another flotilla. And what will our clever Israeli commander do then?

    The risking of the relationship with Turkey symbolises the impossibility of current Israeli policy towards the strip. This blockade must be lifted and some way of having a dialogue with those who run Gaza must somehow be established. Time to brandish the carrot and to hide the stick. The stick is broken in any case.


    1. Guardian ignores Muslim Brotherhood’s connection of flotilla members

    2. Israel right and long

    3. On 1st June a YouGov poll showed that Israel is losing the battle of public opinion. I wonder if that is about to alter? On this 1st June poll 53% think the blockade is unjustified compared to 22% who think it is justified.

    4. Meanwhile, on the BBC Radio4 news tonight it seems that Hamas has refused to unload the “essential” aid still loaded on the moored ships. It says it won’t do so until the Israelis release EVERYONE including all Arabs who were arrested on the Mavi Marmara.

    I’ve done a quick search – found nothing in the British press apart from this from, guess what – the ultra-left, communist Morning Star. Interesting omission from most of the mainstream printed press.

    Catch up! You might even get to the truth.

    5. But knowing it’s all about politics, and little to do with humanitarian aid, the captured Israelis soldier’s family did try to step into the fray 0n 27th May.  A pity Hamas refused. The Israeli government too wants Schalit’s release.  Personally I doubt if he’s still alive.  But Israelis have a tradition of re-possessing the bodies of their dead. Dead or alive, they want him back.

    Excerpt:  The Schalit family on Thursday asked for assistance from international left-wing activists due to arrive in the Gaza Strip later in the day. If the left-wing activists pressure Hamas to allow international organizations to bring letters and food packages to Gilad Schalit, the kidnapped soldier’s family has agreed to support the international expedition’s attempt to dock, Army Radio reported Thursday. Lawyer Nick Kaufman presented the offer to the organization “Free Gaza,” one of the organizers of the flotilla headed for Gaza, which promptly refused the offer.

    “We are disappointed that the organizers of the flotilla have refused to also provide basic humanitarian assistance to our son, who has been held in Gaza four years in contradiction of international law,” said the Schalit family.

    Another ship, the Irish-owned Rachel Corrie is still on its way to Gaza. Israel says it will not be allowed to pass. More to come.

    Give us a few more (video) messages like this“I want to be a shahid (martyr)” – and the dullards at CIF might finally see the light.

    In footage captured on the Gaza flotilla, a passenger describes how he has attempted in previous convoys to become a martyr and that “with god’s luck” he will succeed on this flotilla. While the Gaza flotilla passengers had presented themselves as peace activists who would not act violently towards Israeli forces, this provides further evidence to the contrary.

    In the early hours of the 31st of May 2010, IDF soldiers boarded the ships of the “Free Gaza” Flotilla, after the ships refused to redirect their course. Aboard the Mavi Marmara the soldiers encountered serious violence when, in a preplanned attack, the activists on board lynched the soldiers with knives, metal rods and stole two of their guns. As a result 7 soldiers were injured and 9 activists were killed.

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    39 Responses to “As he has done for 2 years, Tony Blair urges Israel to lift its Gaza blockade”

    1. Peter Reynolds Says:

      Why can’t Israel be the great nation that it can be?

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Now let me try a few guesses as to why not, Mr Reynolds.

        My suggestions:

        1. A largely, but not entirely Arab world afraid of a western state in its midst.
        2. People in the Middle East who suffer from the “victim mentality”, thus only THEY are the “victims”. They are never the oppressors, despite the obvious daily and ongoing truth that many in their number oppress and kill even their own in the name of their “religion”.
        3. The fact that many still argue that Israel has no right to be there geographically at all, despite its ancient history there which reaches further back than Christ and further back by far than the later-on-the-scene, Mohammed.
        4. Iran.
        5. Syria.
        6. Many of us in the west who can’t see the wood for the trees. (Co-incidentally, they often read The Guardian.)

        Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that the Gaza Strip was a holidaymakers’ paradise. And then Hamas got a hold of it.

    2. Global Protests In Support of the Freedom Flotilla Continue « Gheorghe47 Says:

      […]… […]

    3. Peter Reynolds Says:

      I wouldn’t be seen dead with The Guardian, not even from either an Israeli or a Palestinian bullet.

      Of course Hamas are the bad guys. We all know that but you do know how to provoke them don’t you?

      Israel and its supporters must wake up to reality. You must start seeing the way the rest of the world sees you. We need you to behave much, much better.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Well that’s us told, isn’t it?

        Hamas and its co-madmen in the fundamentalist part of the ‘religion’ (political entity, in reality) of Islam can go to hell, which is what they long for and the best they deserve. The reality is, and I’m not Jewish, that Jews have given us more geniuses, more philosophers, more Nobel peace prize winners (if that hasn’t been diminished by recent facile awards for “promise”) than ANY OTHER peoples, comparatively. There is a website where these facts are listed.

        Perhaps you can point me to the great number of the equivalents in the Middle East who are not Jewish. For instance, I believe there has been ONE such Nobel peace-prizewinner in recent decades. Perhaps two.

        We need you to learn and behave much better.

        Btw, here Blair expands on his thoughts on the way forward for Gaza and Israel:

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        You might enjoy this

        Flotilla Choir presents: We Con the World

        And when the truth does find its way, you look the other way.

    4. nizaminz Says:

      You could see videos of Rachel Corrie, 23 year old American that was killed by Israel here:

      At the age of 23, Rachel Corrie was full of life. At the age of 23, she was a senior in college ignited by a passion for justice. At the age of 23, she traveled to the Gaza strip as an activist for peace. And, it was at the age of 23 that Rachel Corrie knelt to the ground wearing an orange fluorescent jacket as a 9-ton Caterpillar bulldozer came toward her, knocked her down, crushed her with its blade, ran her over, backed up, and ran her over again. At the age of 23, Rachel Corrie was loved by family and friends who would never see her radiant life again.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        nizaminz – and have you also pointed others to this information? –

        The major points of dispute are whether the bulldozer driver saw Corrie, and whether her injuries were caused by being crushed under the blade or by the mound of debris the bulldozer was pushing. An IDF spokesman has acknowledged that Israeli army regulations normally require that the drivers of the armored personnel carriers (APCs) that accompany bulldozers are responsible for directing the drivers towards their targets, because the Caterpillar D9 bulldozers have a restricted field of vision with several blind spots.[22] However, the Israeli army commander of the Gaza Strip said in an interview broadcast on Israeli television that on the day of Corrie’s death, soldiers had to stay in their armored vehicles and were not able to direct the bulldozer or arrest the protesters, because of the threat of Palestinian sniper fire. He also said that Israeli soldiers may have been handling other ISM activists instead of watching over the bulldozer.[citation needed] In a statement issued the day after Corrie’s death, the ISM said that, “When the bulldozer refused to stop or turn aside she climbed up onto the mound of dirt and rubble being gathered in front of it… to look directly at the driver who kept on advancing.”[23]

        The IDF produced a video about Corrie’s death that includes footage taken from inside the cockpit of a D9. It makes a “credible case”, Joshua Hammer wrote of this video in Mother Jones, that “the operators, peering out through narrow, double-glazed, bulletproof windows, their view obscured behind pistons and the giant scooper, might not have seen Corrie kneeling in front of them.”[5]

        Bad as the end result of this was there is at least some doubt as to whether the soldiers INTENDED to run over Ms Corrie. With the two Israeli soldiers there is no doubt. The animalistic nature of their attackers intent was clear. Holding up one of their hearts (which they had ripped out of his dead body) while bellowing Allah Akbar or some such tripe! Did the Israeli soldiers do this kind of thing after Ms Corrie had been run over?

        No room for doubt.

        The bad, no, evil guys are on YOUR side of the fence.

        What do you have to say about the treatment of the soldiers?


        Thought not.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        You might also watch this on today’s media bias against Israel and its pro-Palestinian, ALL Palestinians stance, no matter how evil-minded and manipulative:

        Watch at around 3:56 – The sponsors of these 2004 activists, talking about Rachel Corrie who went to Gaza to protect the tunnels – “If some of these foreign volunteers get shot or even killed then the international media will sit up and take notice”. July 2004, San Francisco Chronichle.

        As the man says – “this week media outlets fell for it, hook, line and sinker.”

    5. Peter Reynolds Says:

      “The bad, no, evil guys are on YOUR side of the fence.

      What do you have to say about the treatment of the soldiers?”

      Whle I can have sympathy for them as individual human beings, I have none for them as the military instruments of an oppressive, occupying power.

      Like so many Israelis and their supporters you are totally out of touch with reality. You should see the way the world sees you now! Alright, there are still a few Zionist supporters in the US but in Europen and the UK you have lost all sympathy. The whole world is turning against Israel and while you may revel inmartyrdom, actually it’s all your own fault.

      Of course, there are many good, intelligent, well meaning individuals but as a nation you are stupid beyond belief. You are dunderheads who have lost all your friends because of your ridiculous behaviour. The world has had enough. You’ve gone too far.

      Much as I regret it the truth is that Israel is doomed and you’ve brought it all on yourselves.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Mr Reynolds,

        Good to see you have sympathy for the soldiers. I was actually referring to the soldiers butchered by Islamist fundamentalists, not the soldiers obeying orders a few days ago and landing on the Mavi Marmara with paint-spray guns!!!

        Perhaps you missed the video and the year 2000 murders of soldiers I was referring to. It’s here:

        More at this post:

        As for this rot –

        The whole world is turning against Israel and while you may revel inmartyrdom, actually it’s all your own fault.

        ME, revel in martyrdom? I am afraid you are confusing me with your very own fundamentalist religious/political extremists. I am neither Jewish nor inclined to martyrdom for any deity. I have more in common with you than you may realise.

        You really do need to re-read the tripe you write. Then re-write it.

        Sorry, but you do need to.

    6. Peter Reynolds Says:

      Well thanks for your advice if not the abuse. Why can’t you just have some manners?

      As for the “paint-spray guns”- rubbish!

      As for my “own fundamentalist religious/political extremists” – what are you talking about? I’m just an ordinary Brit, brought up CofE but now definitely an agnostic.

      Tripe? It’s very good for you I’m told but I’ve never fancied it.

      Please try and stay civil.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        You’re SO welcome, Mr Reynolds. Welcome to both my advice and my (occasional) abuse. Only doled out to counter same from commenters such as yourself. Most of the time I am far too civilised, or so I am told.

        When someone (such as yourself) seems to assume that I am a martyrdom-seeeking individual, when I spend half my time on this site showing my low-opinion of such martyrdom-seeking murderers, I have to conclude that you empathise with the real would-be “martyrs” of this world – Islamist fundamentalists. The shahid seekers. When someone (such as yourself) never questions the agenda or behaviour of these people but falls back constantly on criticising the only nation similar to our own in the Middle East in no uncertain terms I have to conclude that that that someone is a defender of radical Islam.

        If the shoe fits.

        You are SO sure that the paint-spray guns are “rubbish”. WHY are you so sure? Were you there?

        Are you also denying that these peace-loving idiotical, used and abused boat people, whose number attacked with heavy weapons the soldiers landing on their ship did anything of the sort? Denying the video evidence?

        If you want civility and can’t deal with argued debate, go to Iran, Gaza or Syria. They’ll welcome you there, I’m sure, since you look forward to Israel’s demise. Just don’t say anything political, religious or controversial or you’ll be looking down on us all even more than you already do, but this time from a great height.

    7. Peter Reynolds Says:

      Look at this and tell me that preposterous shoe fits!

      I have some professional experience in firearms. I have seen both sides’ videos.

      Of course the “boat people” attacked the soldiers. So would I or any reasonable person!

      “Argued debate” and “civility” are not incompatible. Neither are Israel’s right to exist, Israel’s security or Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

      I recognise the oppression that you speakof from Hamas, teh Iranian and Syrian governments. I condemn it equally with Israel’s oppressoin of the Palestinians.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        I thought we’d find, if we looked hard enough, that we had some things in common, Mr Reynolds. Our thoughts on (the dangers from) religion. But we’re stuck with it, it would seem. I’d rather have the religion(s) that the west’s democracies are built on than the one religion which has NO interest at all in man-made democracy. Where ‘Allah Rules, OK’ is a statement, not a question.

        If you think it is simply “of course” that the boat people attacked the soldiers, WHY only the people on this boat? Why not those on the other 5?

        There is clearly no “of course” about it. The soldiers did not fire as they descended from the helicopters. How could they? Why would they? Would they have expected to take out all those hundreds on board as they landed on the deck one at a time? FGS. Please get real. It doesn’t even stand up to the anti-west, anti-Israel logic that has infiltrated so many of our media outlets here in Britain.

        But you are a writer. Do you ever read anything that doesn’t back up your own opinions?

        The soldiers were met by a violent mob, armed to the teeth.

        And even those on the Rachel Corrie on its way to confront Israel, have said they will remain seated with their hands up if/when boarded by the Israelis. Violence would never have happened had the IHH members on the Mavi Marmara not been determined to use it in order that their own boat people were harmed by Israeli soldiers, resulting in such as you blaming Israel.

        Used and abused. Their deaths are the responsibility of the IHH and Hamas. No one else.

        Thre is no “of course” about violence at all. If there were, the Israleis would have “attacked” the boat people on the other five boats, just because they could.

        Do you think the videos are manufactured, btw, or just that the soldiers descending one at a time on ropes, with hands rather busy, somehow threatened the boat people just by their presence? Thus they deserved a hammering despite not having, presumably, been seen as threatening on the earlier 5 boats?

        I don’t see that any of the above are mutually incompatible. I do notice that Hamas say they will never accept Israel’s right to exist, though. What say you to that?

        Do you not at least notice that supporting that position, as you are doing by default if not intent, is to be not quite au-fait with ‘justice’. The two-state solution is clearly not one that Hamas supports, though the rest of the world does.

        When are such as you going to build a case around that uncomfortable fact?

    8. Peter Reynolds Says:

      “one religion which has NO interest at all in man-made democracy”

      You start from a place that completely deinies any value in Islam and describes it as unique in a reprehenisble belief which most Muslims would not agree with anyway. It’s just a cheap inflammatory slogan. It diminishes your argument.

      Your combative, argumentative, aggressive defence of what was clearly an attack by Israel is just an attempt to shout down the facts. Israel was clearly the aggressor. Trying to reverse the truth suggests some guilt about what happened. It makes your whole argument incredible!

      I read widely. Why are you now launching a personal attack on me? Must anyone you disagree with be badly informed or stupid?

      “The soldiers were met…” – yes, they initiated the contact. Did they expect those they were attacking simply to acquiesce?

      What? So now anyone who protests against Israel must do so with their “hands up” or they are guilty of violence?

      You must examine your conscience! Your position is presently outside any logical or moral framework that makes any sense.

      Hamas can deny Israel’s right to exist as many times as you deny its. You are both 100% wrong and the decent people of the world despise you both for your ridiculous conflict!

      There is, by definition, no solution except a two state solution. Anyone who is against it is irrational, a fool and no friend of mine.

    9. Stan Says:

      Well done, KTBFPM, for putting Mr Self-Righteous Reynolds in his place with facts and remorseless logic rather than with the emotional ranting that these guys usually resort to.

      As for the blockade, I have yet to hear of a workable alternative to stopping weapons and war materials getting into a country that is dedicated to the destruction of another country.

    10. Peter Reynolds Says:

      So you’re descending to abuse again? Can’t you and Sycophant Stan do better than that? Why call me “self righteous”? I don’t think I’m any more right than you think you are!

      You get all pompous and say my argument lacks “intellectual rigour” – no, you just disagree with me, as you’re perfectly entitled to do.

      Islam is full of crazy, religious nutters and Israel has its fair share of them too.It’s just as utterly absurd to see some ringlet-haired man crying and whinging as he steals the homes of others as it is to see some towel-headed man blow himself up in retaliation.

      Yes, Islam is a great force for evil in the world. We all know. You don’t have to post endless, interminable, boring, boring, boring links to convince me. I’m already there with you as is most of the free world.

      You can’t change that. You have more chance of changing the nutters and extremists on your own side who fall straight into the trap of the Islamists.

      “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.” Insult me all you want. Tell me in block capitals to “examine my head”. You diminish your own argument when you do so.

      Start with the sticks and stones though and see what you get in return! You will reap the whirlwind of your worst nightmares and that is what happens to bullies!

      You’re an intelligent man. Aren;’t you miore interested in peace and beauty amnd love than you are in conflict and persecution and war? Where is your heart for the oppressed people of Palestine?

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        “…who fall straight into the trap of the Islamists.”

        Good news! I agree with you that there is a lot of falling into that trap. But the big difference is that I believe that you and those that think like you are captive in that trap, not me or Stan.

        It all comes down to whether or not one believes in Israel’s right to exist. I do, you don’t, as you mentioned elsewhere in this thread. Your opinion is in line with Hamas’s and Iran’s, to name but two. Mine isn’t.

        There is no country in this world, democracy or not, which would allow suspected loads of cargo to approach its shores unhindered. These people might think they are peace bringers and that their boats full of “love” will somehow bring bread and thus peace to a land which somehow seems to wish to shun both. Utter nonsense.

        The bullies are those who in their naivety conclude that they in their wisdom can sort out this issue by donning a lifejacket and taking to the seas. They don’t mean to bully, but that’s the effect. Israel, for its own good and that of the “oppressed people of Palestine” as you describe them (would that be ALL of them, including historically the Jews?) has to be bullied into doing the “right thing”. Silly Israel, which lives in the midst of many crazies, can’t work out for its little self what is the “right thing”.

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