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The Free Gaza Flotilla, the Beslan Massacres and the Progressive Librarians

I’m on the press list for the IHH and the Free Gaza Flotilla. I receive invitations to all of their events. Yesterday’s concluded with a few inspirational words from an unlikely heroine:

Many persons have the wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness…is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” –Helen Keller

Whether Helen Keller would have found this mission a worthy purpose, I cannot say; somehow I did not imagine Helen one to run around with ginned-up Islamists who compare Zionists to viruses, as IHH leader Bulent Yildirim recently did:

We are not afraid to be martyred. We will not step back. Until the embargo in Gaza ends and until the march to the Aqsa Mosque is completed, this sea intifada and land intifada will continue. Everbody should know that! Not only from the sea, but also land convoys are getting ready and God willing, a project to buy an airplane is close to realization. By airplane, we will be moving toward Gaza.”

I somehow don’t see Helen Keller associated with words like this, either:

I ask you this on behalf of the martyrs. Before these men apologize, pay compensation, remove the embargo and before their prime ministers and ministers who perpetrated this massacre go to prison, oppose their coming here for vacations. It won’t do to stay silent for money, they are stingy. They don’t spend a penny.

Now, the thing is, it really isn’t much of a secret what the IHH is after. It’s all on their website, and helpfully translated into English, too. Here, for example, is their symposium on the al-Aqsa mosque.

In the International Conference on Holocaust held in Tehran, an American rabbi Arnold Cohen stated that Israel is the sole responsible for all blood shed and murders committed in the Middle East. He added that Israel’s murders can not be justified on the basis of the Holocaust. Noticing the impropriety in using together the concepts “Holocaust” and “Zionist”, Cohen said that the Zionists are trying to legitimize their unrighteous ideology by adopting the discourse of Holocaust. Cohen reminded that in fact Jews had high moral standards but they suffered from exiles just because they made mistakes in history; and he emphasized that today Zionists tries to perpetuate a state in Palestine by disregarding Palestinians’ right to exist and live there. Apart from those, Cohen noted that it can undoubtedly not be asserted that the Holocaust was not experienced, but the Zionist philosophy is wrong and the Zionists are trying to impose their own preferences on Palestinian people and to establish a state on a racial basis.

Mind you, I could see Helen Keller requesting an orphan. That’s the nice side of what the IHH does; they’re not all bad.
But then again, they do get a little emotional from time to time. Like they did when the Russians killed Shamil Basayev. This is on their website, it’s not Zionist propaganda; it’s their own propaganda.

A protest was organized in front of the Russian consulate in Istanbul after Basayev’s murder. A number of NGOs, including the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) and Association for the Rights of Freedom of Thought and Education (Özgür-Der), laid black wreath in front of the consulate.
Large crowd paid farewell to the martyr at Fatih Mosque. Tens of thousands of Muslims performed funeral prayer for Basayev and other martyrs killed during their fight against oppressors after Friday prayer at Fatih Mosque.
Following the prayer, attendees recited prayers and shed tears for Basayev and other martyrs. IHH chairman Bülent Yıldırım addressed to the attendees saying: “Sinister Putin called Turkey after the death of Basayev and asked what they could do for Palestine. We know that his real intention is to suppress the reaction of Muslims against Russia over the death of Basayev. The whole world united and helped Russia to kill Basayev as they did to exterminate Dudayev in the past. Israel is advising Russia to build a fence in Chechnya to eliminate Chechen threat as it did in Palestine.

And they were vexed as well by the death of Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov. The demonstrators chanted, “Putin, murderer, out of Chechnya,” “Free the Caucasus, neither America nor Russia,” and “Martyrs won’t die, the resistance won’t stop.
The odd thing about Aslan Maskhadov and Shamil Basayev is that I just don’t reckon them Hellen Keller’s type, either. They were the architects of the Beslan School Massacre, in which at least 334 hostages were killed, including 186 children.

No, I don’t think Helen Keller would have approved.
From the press release:

We are putting Israel on notice…
We are coming
We are unarmed
We are civilians
You have no right to threaten us
We expect to reach Gaza without any Interference.

So who is “we” exactly? Well, the IHH. In the photo I see Dimitris Pilonis–I interviewed him after the last flotilla. Apparently, there will be delegates from more than 50 nations. (None from Russia, I note: I suspect they have long memories.) Among the “endorsers” are such groups as the Progressive Librarians Guild.

PLG reaffirmed, significantly, that the development of public libraries was initially spurred by popular sentiment which for one reason or another held that real democracy requires an enlightened citizenry, and that society should provide all people with the means for free intellectual development. Current trends in librarianship, however, assert that the library is merely a neutral institutional mediator in the information marketplace and a facilitator of a value-neutral information society of atomized information consumers.
A progressive librarianship demands the recognition of the idea that libraries for the people has been one of the principal anchors of an extended free public sphere which makes an independent democratic civil society possible, something which must be defended and extended. This is partisanship, not neutrality.

Progressive librarians: Are you quite sure you want to be mixed up with these fellows? I have a feeling that the world they seek to bring into being is not going to be one with an :extended free public sphere which makes an independent democratic civil society possible.” Just a hunch. You may want to think about that. I could be wrong, but it would be a real shame for you if I weren’t.
Have a close, close look at that video, progressive librarians. A lot of dead kids. A lot of mothers whose hearts will never be put together again. Roll the words “zionist virus” around in your mouth a bit, see how that sits. Not really peaceful language, is it? That’s because these are not really the friendly peace activists they’re telling you they are.
Oh, why am I even wasting my breath.

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