On MSNBC today, I debated former New York Mayor Ed Koch about the deadly Israeli attack on the humanitarian Flotilla attempting to deliver much needed goods to the people of Gaza, who are forced to live under a constant state of siege and blockade imposed by Israel. Among the dead is reportedly a 19-year old US citizen, Furkan Dogan, who was shot four times in the head and once in the chest.
Israel and its apologists like Mayor Koch attempt to portray the humanitarian Flotilla as terrorist-affiliated, a "hate boat" in the words of Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu, "capable of smuggling large amounts of weapons" that "was trying to break the naval blockade of Gaza, not bring humanitarian aid." But Koch and the Israeli spokespeople conveniently leave out the fact that there were no weapons being smuggled on the Flotilla and that members of the Flotilla included former US diplomat Ann Wright, who helped reopen the US embassy in Kabul after 9-11 and former US ambassador to Iraq Ed Peck, as well as a member of the Israeli parliament and other international politicians and diplomats.
On the show today, I read from a list of the items Israel has banned from entering Gaza. Among these are such dangerous spices as sage, cardamom, cumin, coriander, as well as children’s toys, fruit preserves, ginger, fishing rods, chocolate, fresh meat and well-known terrorist sympathizers such as horses, donkeys, goats, cattle and chicks. See a list of the banned and permitted items for yourself here [PDF].
As Dov Weisglass, an adviser to the Israeli Prime Minister, said earlier this year. ‘The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet."
When I asked Koch how a goat or a horse or a children’s toy could be used as rocket to hit Israel, Koch responded by saying only, “that’s nonsense.” When I pointed out that there were respected international diplomats on the Flotilla, contrary to his characterization of it as a terrorist vessel, Koch would only say, "I don’t want to argue with you."
On that front, my colleague Max Blumenthal today reports on how Israel initially claimed that "al Qaeda mercenaries" were on the Flotilla and was then forced to scrub the press release after Blumenthal and a colleague exposed it. The headline of an Israeli Defense Force press release sent out June 2 to reporters and bloggers had the shocking headline: “Attackers of the IDF soldiers found to be Al Qaeda mercenaries.” They have since changed it to: "Attackers of the IDF Soldiers Found Without Identification Papers”
During the commercial break during my debate with Koch, the former mayor called me a "terrorist supporter." I told him, "Say it on the air." He didn’t. Watch the full (on-air) debate: