Israel Still Holding Gaza-Bound Passengers, Including Parliamentarians; Some Tasered

Israel Still Holding Gaza-Bound Passengers, Including Parliamentarians; Some Tasered
Video Disproves Israeli Government Claims on Estelle Cargo;
3 Israelis, 18 Internationals Held

Swedish Foreign Affairs Ministry Backs Ship to Gaza's Opposition to Gaza Blockade

This is a translation of part of a Swedish press report. I am responsible for the translation, in consultation with the Swedish media team of the Estelle.

The Swedish Government and the EU insist that there is a severe humanitarian situation in Gaza and that the border crossings must be opened; this is a position that happens to coincide with the "Ship to Gaza" position. Given that we believe that the blockade should be broken, it would have been reasonable that the boat should have been allowed to proceed, says MFA's press officer Anders Jörle to

The Swedish original is here:

Israel attacks Gaza-bound boat in International Waters, Defying International Law (updated)

Israel attacks Gaza-bound boat in International Waters, Defying International Law

Kidnaps Parliamentarians and activists

For immediate release

contact: US Boat to Gaza, Robert Naiman, 217-979-2857;
Jane Hirschmann, 845 246 6494;

New York, October 20, 10AM EDT - 

Shortly after 4:00AM EDT, when the Gaza-bound Estelle was in international waters about 30 nautical miles from Gaza, Israeli warships surrounded the Estelle and forcibly boarded and took command of the ship and took its 30 passengers into custody.

PRESS RELEASE FROM BOAT TO GAZA: Imminent Israeli Threat to Seize Gaza-Bound Boat in International Waters

For immediate release

US Boat to Gaza:
Robert Naiman: 217-979-2857;
Jane Hirschmann: 845-246-6494;

Canadian Boat to Gaza:
Ehab Lotayef: 514-941-9792
David Heap (in Gaza, with Noam Chomsky) +972 59 289 3106

Imminent Israeli Threat to Seize Gaza-Bound Boat in International Waters;
Estelle 120 Nautical Miles Outside of Gaza

Combat Veteran Yonatan Shapira on Board, former Crew Member on U.S. Boat to Gaza,
Reachable by Phone on Boat

Photos: Passengers on board the Estelle, boat to Gaza under Israeli threat

At this writing, Friday 4pm ET, the Estelle is 120 nautical miles from Gaza. Israeli authorities have threatened to seize the boat in international waters and take it and its passengers to the Israeli port of Ashdod. Here are two pictures of the passengers on the boat, including Israeli combat veteran Yonatan Shapira. Shapira is a US national.

Prominent Americans Call for End to U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan

The following letter was delivered to the US embassy in Pakistan on October 3, 2012. Read the press release here.

You can speak out against US drone strikes by signing our petition.

To: U.S. and Pakistani officials who have influence over the U.S. policy of conducting drone strikes in Pakistan
From: Citizens of the United States

We urge you to do everything in your power to end U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan; to bring the drone strike policy into compliance with international and U.S. law; to permanently end all "signature strikes" against unknown persons; to permanently end "secondary strikes," particularly those that target and endanger civilian rescuers, in grave violation of international law; to address questions about civilian casualties from drone strikes publicly and in detail; and to compensate civilian drone strike victims and their families.

US drone strikes in Pakistan have killed and harmed too many civilians. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has reported 474 to 884 civilian deaths caused by US drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, including 176 children. [1] Moreover, as a recent study from researchers at NYU and Stanford law schools notes, "US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury," as civilians live in a state of constant fear, since drones could strike at any time. [2] Families are afraid to attend weddings or funerals, because US drone operators might strike them. [3]

Rights groups demand Leahy Law be applied to Bahrain security forces that abuse human rights

The following letter was sent on Sept. 10 to Secretary of State Clinton, urging application of the Leahy Law to immediately suspend further U.S. military assistance and arms transfers to units of the security forces of Bahrain which have engaged in human rights violations against non-violent, pro-democracy protesters, as required by U.S. law. The letter was signed by: Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, International Federation for Human Rights, Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights First, Freedom House, Physicians for Human Rights, Project on Middle East Democracy, Just Foreign Policy, Open Society Foundations, Human Rights Watch, and the United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society.


Monday, August 20, 2012
Contact: Robert Naiman,
(202) 448-2898


As of Monday noon, "crowdsourced" reward stands at $14,543

Washington - The U.S. foreign policy reform organization Just Foreign Policy has issued a "crowdsourced" reward for WikiLeaks to publish the negotiating text of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. On Friday, August 17, Just Foreign Policy issued an appeal online for pledges to make donations to WikiLeaks if it publishes the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiating text. As of noon Eastern Time on Monday, August 20, the reward stands at $14,543, based on 344 pledges, of which the median pledge was $25.

The appeal - and the running tally of pledges collected so far - can be seen at

On September 6, negotiators will go to Leesburg, Virginia, for the latest round of secretive talks on the "Trans-Pacific Partnership" agreement. This proposed agreement threatens access to essential medicines in developing countries, threatens environmental regulations, and threatens internet freedom. Even Members of Congress and their staffs have been blocked from seeing the draft text, while corporate representatives have been allowed to see it. [1]

"Americans have a right to know what's in this agreement before it is signed," said Robert Naiman, Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy. "After an agreement is signed we'll be told that it's too late to change it. It was precisely to publish leaked government documents of public interest that WikiLeaks was formed."

Former US officials call for Bachmann to be replaced on House Intelligence Committee

[This letter is being circulated among former U.S. officials concerned with U.S. foreign policy, NGO leaders concerned with U.S. foreign policy, and academics concerned with the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy. Please send signatures, together with identifying information similar to current signers, to by noon ET on Monday, August 6. Forwarding welcome where appropriate.]

[Everyone is encouraged to write their own Representative, urging that Bachmann be removed from the Intelligence Committee. Our alert is here:
House Must Sanction Bachmann for Anti-Muslim McCarthyism


To Protect U.S. Interests, Replace Anti-Muslim Conspiracy Theorists on the House Intelligence Committee

Dear Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi:

We write out of concern for the impact on U.S. interests in the Muslim world of the actions of some Members of Congress in promoting anti-Muslim conspiracy theories suggesting that top U.S. officials who are Muslim-American are part of a Muslim Brotherhood plot to infiltrate the U.S. government.

As you are aware, Reps. Michele Bachmann, Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Thomas Rooney and Lynn Westmoreland recently wrote to various government agencies and asked them to investigate the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood on U.S. officials who are Muslim-American, targeting top State Department official Huma Abedin and several advisers to the Department of Homeland Security.

As you are also no doubt aware, the promotion of these conspiracy theories by Members of Congress has been cited by conspiracy theorists in Egypt as evidence for the claim that the U.S. government has deliberately helped engineer the electoral success of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This has come at a time when the U.S. government has worked hard to avoid any public perception that it is backing one faction over another in Egypt's nascent democracy.


An Open Letter to Congress in Support of Reining in Runaway Spending by the Pentagon

[This letter in support of the Mulvaney-Frank amendment was organized by the Project On Government Oversight. The PDF is here:]

July 18, 2012
An Open Letter to Congress in Support of Reining in Runaway Spending by the Pentagon

Dear Members of the House of Representatives,

We, the undersigned organizations, strongly urge you to support the bipartisan amendment to freeze profligate Pentagon spending at Fiscal Year 2012 levels. Offered by Representatives Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) and Barney Frank (D-MA), this proposed amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2013 is a common-sense step towards reining in the runaway Pentagon budget.

Though our groups have advocated for deeper cuts, we welcome the Mulvaney-Frank amendment to keep base military spending at the FY 2012 level of $518 billion. It is a modest $1.1 billion reduction of the currently proposed spending in the House bill—which inexplicably provides for $3.1 billion more than requested by the military. Keeping spending at current levels will still be higher than the Pentagon’s requested amount, but will at least halt the unnecessary escalation currently proposed and is the same level that nearly 300 members recently supported in the “megabus.” The amendment excludes spending on military personnel, the Defense Health Program, and the overseas contingency operations from the freeze. It allows the commanding officers to make strategic spending decisions.

The Mulvaney-Frank amendment represents a compromise that both Republicans and Democrats can agree on.

In fact, the House has already agreed to greater reductions to the Pentagon budget. Just last year, Congress passed the Budget Control Act to enforce discretionary spending caps.