Yevgenia Albats, editor of the independent New Times magazine, said talk of a conspiracy to poison bilateral relations was Russia's version of an official denial. "What else are they going to say? They caught these guys red-handed," she said. "You never acknowledge your own spies, because you don't want to support the foreign justice system in bringing charges."
Calling the case "very plausible," she asked why the authorities would organize such an elaborate operation to collect what seems to have been basic information. For example, she noted that two of the suspects appeared to have been targeting university professors who easily could have been invited to conferences in Russia.
"It's very strange. You pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to put these people through college, give them identities, to do what?" she said. "Why do governments spend this money on intelligence when journalists can do it better?"
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The BBC reports that
The IHT has more.
Ten people have been arrested in the United States for allegedly spying for the Russian government, the US Department of Justice has said.
An eleventh suspected spy has been arrested in Cyprus.
Friday, June 25, 2010
From Jerusalem, to Rome, to New York, supporters of captive soldier Gilad Schalit on Thursday cried out for his release as they marked the eve of the fourth anniversary of his kidnapping.
In Rome, the lights of the Colosseum were turned off. So too, the lights around the Old City walls in Jerusalem.
Lighting up the darkness at the walls was a sign showing the number of days, 1,460, that Schalit had been held by Hamas in Gaza, along with the line, “This is the time I have spent in captivity.”
In New York, a flotilla of ships, called “The True Freedom Flotilla,” sailed from Pier 40 around the Statue of Liberty and past the buildings of the United Nations.
Addressing a crowd in Rome, Gilad’s father, Noam, asked the international community not to forget his son.
“As I stand here tonight, in the capital of Italy, Rome, which is one of the central, ancient and important cities in Europe and the civilized world, I call on the international community and the European one in particular not to forget Gilad,” said Noam.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Prague Watchdog, the Prague-based North Caucasus human rights NGO and monitoring service, is closing down after 10 years of operation. In May this year, for reasons that are unknown to the site’s co-ordinator, the delivery of new Russian-language material stopped and has not been resumed. Andrei Babitsky, who was fulfilling the role of chief commissioning editor, appears no longer to be in charge of PW’s publishing, though he continues to be active as an editor and commentator at other Russian-language media outlets, including Radio Liberty’s Russian service.
According to PW’s present coordinating editor, the site will continue to be accessible even though it is not updated, and its considerable volume of North-Caucasus-related information and resources will continue to be available to the general public.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Julie Burchill, on the curious but predictable attitude of British media to the flotilla crisis:
Not once did I hear a British interviewer ask any of the so-called secular radicals participating in the flotilla why they are allied with Islamic supremacists who subjugate women, persecute gays, oppress non-Islamic minorities and seek to impose Islam globally.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Israel's UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev has said in a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council that the attempt by flotilla organizers to sail from Lebanon to Gaza could escalate tensions and affect peace and security in the region, the Lebanese portal Naharnet reports. The ambassador also said that Israel would exercise its right under international law to “use all necessary means” to prevent the ships from breaking the naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
In the Times, José María Aznar writes that Israel is the West’s best ally in the fight against those who seek to destroy the West’s values and security:
Israel is our first line of defence in a turbulent region that is constantly at risk of descending into chaos; a region vital to our energy security owing to our overdependence on Middle Eastern oil; a region that forms the front line in the fight against extremism. If Israel goes down, we all go down.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The next flotilla is due to sail in the second half of July, IHH said. The group invited the international media to inspect all goods on board before the convoy sails to "demonstrate their commitment to total transparency".
Israel says the IHH has links to Muslim militants, which the group denies.
Monday, June 14, 2010
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,
One ship left port on Sunday and another will depart by Friday, loaded with food, construction material and toys, the report said. "Until the end of (Israel's) Gaza blockade, Iran will continue to ship aid," said an official at Iran's Society for the Defense of the Palestinian Nation.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Via Jerusalem Post/AP:
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko told journalists that the UN resolution does not apply to air-defense systems, with the exception of mobile missiles.
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
On Sunday LGF published another cropped Reuters photo, comparing it with the original. As the blog noted:
One picture cropped to remove a knife might be explained as incompetence or a simple mistake. But now we have two pictures from the “peace activists” that were cropped by someone at Reuters to remove knives in the hands of the activists, as they attempted to take soldiers hostage.
The images in question were made available in Istanbul, and following normal editorial practice were prepared for dissemination which included cropping at the edges. When we realized that a dagger was inadvertently cropped from the images, Reuters immediately moved the original set, as well.
The United States needs Israel, says Caroline Glick, writing in the Jerusalem Post. In fact, the country remains the US’s most important strategic asset in the Middle East region:
[CSIS analyst Anthony H.] Cordesman claims that Israel only advances US strategic interests when it works toward the creation of a Palestinian state. But this is wrong. To the extent that the two-state solution assumes that Israel must contract itself to within the indefensible 1949 cease-fire lines and allow a hostile Palestinian state allied with terrorist organizations to take power in the areas it vacates, the two-state solution is predicated on making it weak and empowering radicals.
In light of this, the two-state solution as presently constituted is antithetical to America’s most vital strategic interests in the Middle East.
In our times, when Jew hatred has become acceptable and strategic blindness and madness are presented as nuanced sophistication, it is essential to maintain a firm grip on the truth. And that truth is that love the Jews or hate us, the US’s alliance with Israel has been and remains America’s most cost-effective national security investment since World War II.
Monday, June 07, 2010
Saturday, June 05, 2010
Just Journalism has a survey of conflicting impressions of eye-witness accounts of the Mavi Marmara incident.
Caroline Glick examines the way in which Iran’s nuclear weapons program serves as a carrot to supplement the stick with which Iran forces the Arab world to do its bidding. (JP)
The IDF says that some 50 of the passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara were mercenaries, probably funded by elements within the Turkish government. (JP)
Sarah Honig on “Otto Weininger Syndrome” . (JP)
Ynetnews reports that the ship’s crew have ignored a Navy request to stop. The Navy has now taken over the ship.
Friday, June 04, 2010
Israel’s UK ambassador cancelled his appearance at the Hay on Wye festival in Britain. The UK lawyer Michael Mansfield QC said he believed Prime Minister Cameron should send British naval vessels to protect ships delivering aid to Gaza.
Leading officials of France, UK, Ireland and Belgium were quick to condemn Israel’s campaign on Monday, before video footage showed that the demonstrators aboard the Mavi Marmara were armed and that they violently attacked Israeli military personnel. The White House, however, refrained from criticizing Israel, and senior US officials have since defended Israel’s actions.
Michael J. Totten has the video.
Flotilla passengers tell IDF: "Go back to Auschwitz".
Thursday, June 03, 2010
- The Irish-owned MV Rachel Corrie is still headed for Gaza.
- Turkish newspapers have reported that three of the four Turkish jihadis killed during the boarding of the Mavi Marmara by IDF troops had declared their readiness to become shaheeds, or martyrs.
- IDF footage of demonstrators aboard the Mavi Marmara preparing and initiating the armed confrontation.
- At Standpoint, Joshua Rozenberg has republished an IDF document which gives an assessment of the legality of Israel’s military operations off Gaza this week.
- US Vice President Joe Biden has said that Israel has the right to stop the ships bound for Gaza.
- The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report is publishing intelligence digests and articles about the flotilla, which it says is largely composed of organizations tied to the GMB.
- The former commander of British forces in Afghanistan has said that Israeli troops should not be blamed for the deaths of activists on the Mavi Marmara.
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
The IHH (Insani Yardim Vakfi - “humanitarian relief fund”)…has provided financial support to Iran-backed Hamas and has ties to global jihadi networks and the Muslim Brotherhood – a global umbrella Islamic organization of which Hamas is a branch – as well as mujahideen groups in Afghanistan.
In 2006, a study conducted by the Danish Institute for International Studies showed that the IHH was involved in planning an al-Qaeda attack against Los Angeles International Airport in 1999. IHH reportedly acquired forged documents, enlisted operatives and delivered weapons to al-Qaeda in preparation for the attack, which was ultimately foiled.
The Danish study also cites a French intelligence report which stated that in the mid-1990s the IHH sent a number of operatives into war zones in Muslim countries to get combat experience. The report said that IHH transferred money and “caches of firearms, knives and pre-fabricated explosives” to Muslim fighters in those countries.
Israeli officials have expressed concern that Islamist groups that endanger Israeli national security now have considerable influence within the Free Gaza movement, the group that organized the flotilla. According to the group’s own mission statement, “We agree to adhere to the principles of nonviolence and nonviolent resistance in word and deed at all times.”
6] “IHH, which plays a central role in organizing the flotilla to the Gaza Strip, is a Turkish humanitarian relief fund with a radical Islamic anti-Western orientation,” Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, May 26, 2010, http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/hamas_e105.htm
 “IHH, which plays a central role in organizing the flotilla to the Gaza Strip, is a Turkish humanitarian relief fund with a radical Islamic anti-Western orientation,” Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, May 26, 2010, http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/hamas_e105.htm
 “Our Mission,” Free Gaza Movement Web site, Jan. 30, 2009, http://www.freegaza.org/en/about-us/mission
 Wilson, Scott, “Israel says Free Gaza Movement poses threat to Jewish state,” The Washington Post, June 1, 2010, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/31/AR2010053103445.html
The release goes on to stress the links that are believed to exist between the IHH and Turkey’s ruling party, the AKP, observing that in recent years the Turkish government has moved away from cooperation with Israel and has adopted a less friendly stance on several issues, including a conciliatory approach to Iran on the question of sanctions and the Iranian nuclear program.
While in themselves the actions and statements of a self-styled humanitarian organization might not be thought to present a significant challenge to the security of other states, including Israel, the IHH group’s connections both with militant Islamists and with the Turkish government party do give considerable cause for concern. In particular, the news that the Turkish Navy is reported to be considering sending a naval escort for the next two boats carrying pro-Palestinian demonstrators presents the possibility that such an action could spark a major conflict between Turkey and Israel. That the Mavi Marmara incident was a deliberate provocation there seems little doubt – hopefully it did not mark the first stage in a planned series of escalations. Western peace activists who have joined the convoys need to be careful that their activities do not end in starting a regional war.
Update (4.25pm): Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutogu has said in Ankara that “it’s time calm replaces anger”.
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Standpoint magazine has published an authoritative analysis of Israel’s legal position under international law. The anonymous posting which forms the centre of Joshua Rozenberg’s piece:
1. A maritime blockade is in effect off the coast of Gaza. Such blockade has been imposed, as Israel is currently in a state of armed conflict with the Hamas regime that controls Gaza, which has repeatedly bombed civilian targets in Israel with weapons that have been smuggled into Gaza via the sea.
2. Maritime blockades are a legitimate and recognized measure under international law that may be implemented as part of an armed conflict at sea. (Examples: USA blockaded Cuba, UK blockaded The Falklands, the EU blockaded Yugoslavia)
3. A blockade may be imposed at sea, including in international waters, so long as it does not bar access to the ports and coasts of neutral States.
4. The naval manuals of several western countries, including the US and England recognize the maritime blockade as an effective naval measure and set forth the various criteria that make a blockade valid, including the requirement of give due notice of the existence of the blockade.
5. In this vein, it should be noted that Israel publicized the existence of the blockade and the precise coordinates of such by means of the accepted international professional maritime channels. Israel also provided appropriate notification to the affected governments and to the organizers of the Gaza protest flotilla. Moreover, in real time, the ships participating in the protest flotilla were warned repeatedly that a maritime blockade is in effect.
6. Here, it should be noted that under customary law, knowledge of the blockade may be presumed once a blockade has been declared and appropriate notification has been granted, as above.
7. Under international maritime law, when a maritime blockade is in effect, no boats can enter the blockaded area. That includes both civilian and enemy vessels.
8. A State may take action to enforce a blockade. Any vessel that violates or attempts to violate a maritime blockade may be captured or even attacked under international law. The US Commander's Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations sets forth that a vessel is considered to be in attempt to breach a blockade from the time the vessel leaves its port with the intention of evading the blockade.
9. Here we should note that the protesters indicated their clear intention to violate the blockade by means of written and oral statements. Moreover, the route of these vessels indicated their clear intention to violate the blockade in violation of international law.
10. Given the protesters explicit intention to violate the naval blockade, Israel exercised its right under international law to enforce the blockade. It should be noted that prior to undertaking enforcement measures, explicit warnings were relayed directly to the captains of the vessels, expressing Israel's intent to exercise its right to enforce the blockade.
11. Israel had attempted to take control of the vessels participating in the flotilla by peaceful means and in an orderly fashion in order to enforce the blockade. Given the large number of vessels participating in the flotilla, an operational decision was made to undertake measures to enforce the blockade a certain distance from the area of the blockade.
12. Israeli personnel attempting to enforce the blockade were met with violence by the protesters and acted in self defense to fend off such attacks.
Writing in the Jerusalem Post, Caroline Glick perceives a straight line that “runs between the anti-Israel resolution passed last Friday at the UN’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference and the Hamas flotilla”:
Israel is the target of a massive information war. For it to win this war, it needs to counter its enemies’ lies with the truth.
The NPT has been subverted by the very forces it was created to prevent from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Hamas is a genocidal terrorist organization ideologically indistinguishable from al-Qaida. International law requires all states and non-state actors to take active measures to defeat it.
Israel is the frontline of the free world. Its ability to defend itself and deter its foes is the single most important guarantee of international peace. A strong Israel is also the most potent and reliable guarantor of the US’s continued ability to project its power in the Middle East.
This is the unvarnished truth. It is also the beginning of a successful campaign to defang the massive coalition of nuclear proliferation- and terrorism-abettors aligned against Israel. But until our leaders finally recognize the nature of the war being waged against our country, these basic facts will remain ignored as we move from one stunning defeat to the next.