Bill de Blasio Wants to Ban Saudi Arabian Airlines From American Airports over Their No-Israeli Policies. I Call BS.

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Photo Credit: Drewski2112 via Compfight cc
Here's a little morsel of insanity for your Tuesday morning: New York City Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio is trying to yank Saudi Arabian Airlines' right to land at U.S. airports over its policy of not allowing Israeli citizens to board, starting with JFK. The director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines, Khalid Al-Melhem, shot back at de Blasio, insisting that it is merely the lack of diplomatic relations between the two countries that is behind the policy. Al-Melhem's claim that discrimination isn't behind the ban is bullshit, but so is de Blasio's outrage.

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Mayoral Hopeful Bill de Blasio Gets Involved in Foreign Policy, Targets Iran

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Sam Levin
Public Advocate and mayoral hopeful Bill de Blasio speaks on 43rd Street near the United Nations this morning.
Running for mayor of New York City? Well, you better stick your nose in some foreign policy issues -- and backing Israel certainly won't hurt your cause.

Enter Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who is expected to run for mayor in 2013, and who held a press conference this morning -- on a plaza on 43rd Street overlooking the United Nations -- to announce the launch of a consumer action campaign to pressure companies to stop doing business in Iran.

Backed by groups Iran180 and United Against Nuclear Iran, de Blasio unveiled an interactive website called IranWatchList.com designed to target companies that are doing business with Iran and in some cases allegedly selling directly to Iran's military. They are starting the campaign by focusing on twelve foreign car companies that continue to sell vehicles in Iran, despite economic sanctions.

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Dead Sea Actually Teeming With Life

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via
The Dead Sea is a lie. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute found that the body of water, once thought to be barren, is actually "a fantastic hot spot for life." They discovered this after a series of dive missions last year. National Geographic reports the dive teams discovered craters at the bottom of the sea that "were covered with films and sometimes surprisingly thick mats of new bacterial species." Like LaserJet printers, the Dead Sea is not what its name would portend.

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Egypt Recalls Ambassador to Israel; West Memphis Three Freed; Gadhafi Staying in Libya

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Egyptian protests from earlier this year.
The Egyptian government announced it plans to recall its ambassador from Israel. The move was sparked by an event when three Egyptian military officers were gunned down by an Israeli warplane after they were mistaken for suspected militants. The New York Times says this "marks a level of antagonism not seen since Egypt and Israel signed the historic Camp David accords three decades ago." [NYT]

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On Almost Running Into Marty Markowitz Glad-Handing Abroad

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Marty and Jamie with two grooms the day before the big fine was announced
On Same-Sex Sunday, we ran into Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and his now infamous wife, Jamie "First Lady of Brooklyn" Snow. He was congratulating couples, taking pictures with them with his wife, and cracking jokes about how joyous it had been to marry Jamie in the same location. (He didn't yet know that in about 24 hours, he was going to find out the decision to spend a little too much time with her was going to someday cost him $20,000.) Our favorite gem from the Post's story on Markowtiz's fine was this: "What they're saying is they don't recognize my role (in promoting the city and Brooklyn) beyond the borders of Brooklyn. They don't believe my wife has any role and they're wrong. You go to Europe, other countries, being borough president [of] Brooklyn is a big thing there."

After reading this and picking ourselves off the floor from laughing, we remembered an experience we had abroad almost running into the Brooklyn Beep.


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French Boat to Gaza Intercepted by Israel, Detained (VIDEO)

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Update after the jump: Video from the boat's Twitter.

The Dignite-Al Karame, a French yacht carrying just 16 passengers (and the final remnant of what was once envisioned as a large scale Flotilla 2.0 taking aid to Gaza) was intercepted this morning by the Israeli Navy, Haaretz is reporting. According to the mission's twitter, @BateauGazaFr (still being updated), the boat was redirected to Ashod and no one was harmed.

"The Israel Navy took over the vessel minutes after the IDF chief issued the order, and there was no resistance on the part of the passengers," Haaretz reports.

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Captain Arrested by Greek Authorities as U.S. Boat to Gaza Attempts to Leave Athens


The journey of The Audacity of Hope, the U.S. boat which was going to join an international flotilla attempting to break the blockade of Gaza this weekend, appears to have been very short lived. Not long after attempting to launch from Athens, the Hope's captain has been arrested by Greek authorities, according to the U.S. Boat to Gaza campaign. "Passengers remain on the ship in solidarity with the jailed captain and detained crew on boat," the campaign says, which also supplied the above dramatic video.


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Crashing the Garden Party? Activists, Donors on Collision Course at Gay Fundraiser Tonight

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As Gay Pride Week starts, the LGBT Center is hosting its annual Garden Party tonight, a fundraiser that many old-time LGBT activists have viewed with increasing skepticism — most of the people who use the center can't afford the $100 admission.

And this year, the Israel/Palestine situation, which has plagued the Center's officials in the past few months, may crash the party, merging the worlds of the Center's donors and some of its most marginalized political users.

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Gay Center Now Bans All Talk on Israel/Palestine

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Reversing field once again, the LGBT Center has now banned all discussion of the explosive issue of Israel and Palestine on its premises.

The most recent flip-flop (a reversal of its previous reversal) came a week after a new group called Queers Against Israeli Apartheid was allowed to meet at the Center to discuss plans to march in various Gay Pride parades this month. Predictably, gay pornographer and ardent Zionist Michael Lucas was not pleased, telling Gay City News that "this group has had their first and last meeting in the Center. If someone fucks with Israel, I fuck them back. And I usually win." He was right.

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Gay Center, in Reversal, to Allow Meeting Tonight on 'Israeli Apartheid' Protest Planning

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​It looks like free political debate at the LGBT Center has won the day — for now.

A new group, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, had applied to rent space for a planning meeting in the Center. The group is made up of many of the same people who were in Siege Busters Working Group, who were kicked out of the Center for planning a "Party to End [Israeli] Apartheid" and permanently banned from ever meeting there again when pro-Zionist porn impresario Michael Lucas complained.

The new group told the Voice earlier this week that they'd attempted to make a reservation at the Center, but did not believe it was going to be accepted, and they were planning to show up anyway to meet in the lobby if necessary. But as of yesterday, the Center granted the request, and they'll be meeting at 6:30 tonight. On the agenda will be the planning of marches against Israel's occupation of Palestine. The marches would be in the upcoming Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn Pride parades.

sthrasher@villagevoice.com / @steven_thrasher

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