San Francisco Bay Area resident Paul Larudee, who is instrumental in Berkeley's Free Palestine Movement, was taken and detained when Israeli commando forces boarded ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza on Monday. The ships were in international waters. Official Israeli sources are stating that their peaceful boarding parties were met with violent resistance by passengers on the ships they were boarding and that the boarding parties only used force when necessary to protect themselves.
However, I have known Paul for many years and his whole credo is one of non-violent resistance. Working with the NorCal branch of the International Solidarity Movement since approximately 1996, Paul is very much a believer in and practitioner of Gandhi's principles of non-violence.
Given what I myself know about Paul, it seems rather odd that Paul would have been mercilessly beaten by Israeli forces. Yet I and other members of FPM just received the following e-mail stating that he was badly and, according to another e-mail I just received, "brutally" beaten:
"Hello, my name's Lindsey, I'm living with Betty Larudee while her husband Paul is overseas with the Gaza flotilla. We just got an email from the Israeli Consulate General Andrew Parker in Jerusalem.
"He said that Paul is alive and seriously beaten. Paul told him to call us so this is the closest contact we've had so far. He asked us to spread the word as much as possible. Betty was the one that talked to Parker but now she is upset and doesn't want to talk to anyone until she gets an email from the consulate tomorrow.
"Paul silently refused to follow Israeli orders so they beat him. Now he's being held in prison. He's in the same room with the captain of the boat. They have no windows, no telephone, nothing. He refused treatment by Israeli doctors, and only let the ship doctor give him aspirin."
Furthermore, I am currently receiving several other reports from various European, Greek and Turkish eyewitnesses that the Israeli boarding forces hit the ground running, armed with stun guns, tear gas, metal batons, rubber bullets, etc., and with clearly violent intent.