USC Students for Justice in Palestine

history, analysis, news, and event updates on the struggle for justice in palestine

Update from the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Posted by uscsjp on December 10, 2014

Demand Stores Boycott SodaStream for Human Rights Day

by Ramah Kudaimi, Membership & Outreach Coordinator December 10th, 2014

Take Part in National Call-In Day!  

The “Apartheid Made Exciting? SodaStream Month of Action” is underway! Protests have already taken place in Seattle, Portland, Omaha, NE, Duluth, MN, and Washington, DC and others are planned for Chicago, NYC, Philadelphia, and beyond! Now it’s your turn to take action! Today is Human Rights Day, and we are asking for people to make a quick call to the corporate headquarters of two stores, Sur La Table and Target, to ask them to stop selling SodaStream. 

 

Sample script: “Hello. My name is ______, and I am calling on Human Rights Day to ask that your store stop selling SodaStream. The company has a factory in an illegal Israeli settlement built on stolen Palestinian land and exploits Palestinian labor and resources. I urge your store to follow the example of Macy’s and deshelve all SodaStream products for the sake of Palestinian human rights.” Sur La Table: Call 206-613-6000. If no one picks up, dial extension 6070 and leave a message for CEO Jack Schwefel. Open 8am-5pm PST.  Target: Call 612-304-6073 and then dial 6. Open 8am-5pm CST.  While SodaStream has announced that it will be shutting down its settlement factory, until it actually does, the company continues to profit from Israel’s military occupation. Once you make the calls, please click here to let us know how it went. If you are on Twitter, click here to tweet a message to Sur La Table and here to tweet one to Target.

 

Last year activists delivered an interfaith petition to Target headquarters in Minneapolis with almost 10,000 signatures asking them to boycott SodaStream. You can learn more about the campaign in Seattle targeting Sur La Table on this great Burst the Bubble website. Make your phone calls today to strengthen all the local campaigns happening nationwide demanding an end to SodaStream’s complicity in Israel’s denial of Palestinian human rights! PS- The Ferguson Action Team is calling on people to unite against state violence and racism today. Post up a picture or graphic to show the world what is happening in your country or city with the hashtag #WorldisWatching and #Ferguson2[your country/city].

 

–Rameh Kudaimi, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, December 10th, 2014

http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=4240

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This #givingtuesday, help Palestinians in Gaza!

Posted by uscsjp on December 2, 2014

Heavy rain battered Gaza last week and we were forced to declared an emergency in Gaza City. As you may expect, the whole of Gaza is still reeling from the widespread destruction of the summer’s hostilities. The blockade persists and is making life incredibly difficult for the almost 90,000 who remain homeless.

 

Among the 90,000 is 26-year-old Felesteen Isdudi, whose home was severely damaged. She’s still living in an UNRWA school serving as a shelter with her seven children, aged 2 months to 9 years old, and her husband Bassan.

 

Felesteen and her seven children at  the UNRWA’s Collective Centre at Zaitoun Elementary Boys School B.

While Felesteen and Bassan are grateful for adequate shelter, life is difficult, particularly for the children. “Each day, the children have to walk for over 80 minutes on the way to and from school, as we are unable to pay for transportation for them… and in winter this becomes harder – for them and also for me as I am unable to help them,” Bassan said.

 

UNRWA will provide the Isdudis with a temporary shelter cash allowance so they can rent an apartment until their home is rebuilt. But we need your help. For now, along with nearly 3,000 other displaced persons in the shelter, the family is making the best of a very hard situation. Felesteen explains the winter hardships, “When the children go to sleep, I put them all beside each other to feel some warmth.”

 

This winter, our goal is to ensure the nearly 90,000 people in Gaza made homeless by the recent conflict can secure alternative shelter. Second, that they, and other  Palestine refugees in need in the West Bank and Syria, receive the help they need to weather the winter storms.

Donate today to give Felesteen’s family warmth and an alternative home. Give:

 

US$ 24 to reinforce a makeshift home with tarpaulin to protect a family like the Isdudi’s from the wind, rain and snow

US$ 50 to supply the family with a heater

US$ 350 to equip five families, just like Felesteen’s, with blankets

US$ 1350 to provide the a family with alternative shelter for the next six months

Last year’s winter storm Alexa brought torrential rains and widespread flooding that displaced thousands, exacerbating an already precarious humanitarian situation.

 

Last week’s rains are a hint of what can we expect this winter. Following the destruction in Gaza this summer, and predictions for a harsh winter, we expect this winter to be much harder than the last.

 

Help Palestine refugees in Gaza #weatherthestorm. Celebrate the spirit of charity this#givingtuesday and give today.

 

 

Wishing you a safe and warm winter,

Lionello Boscardi
Chief, Partnerships Division
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)

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This #GivingTuesday Donate to Help Syrian Refugees Facing a Food Crisis

Posted by uscsjp on December 2, 2014

UN World Food Program (WFP) Forced To Suspend Syrian Refugee Food Assistance, Warns Of Terrible Impact As Winter Nears

Click here to help with donations:

The Guardian: 1.7m Syrian refugees face food crisis as UN funds dry up

“More than 1.7 million Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt are facing a disastrous and hungry winter after a funding crisis forced the UN’s World Food Programme to suspend food vouchers to hundreds of thousands forced into exile by the conflict.

Since the war began in March 2011, the WFP has brought food to millions of Syrians inside the country, and has used the voucher programme – which allows refugees to buy food in local shops – to inject about $800m (£500m) into the economies of those countries hosting them.

But after finding itself unable to secure the $64m it needs to support Syrian refugees in December, the WFP announced on Monday that it was halting the scheme. Severe funding shortfalls have already led the UN body to reduce rations within Syria, where it is trying to help 4.25 million people.

Its executive director, Ertharin Cousin, issued a blunt and urgent appeal to donors, asking them to honour their commitments and warning that the suspension would have a devastating effect on the lives of more than 1.7 million people.

She said: “[It] will endanger the health and safety of these refugees and will potentially cause further tensions, instability and insecurity in the neighbouring host countries. The suspension of WFP food assistance will be disastrous for many already suffering families.”

She added that Syrian refugees in camps and informal settlements throughout the region were ill-prepared for another difficult winter, especially in Lebanon and Jordan where tents are drenched in mud, hygiene conditions are poor and many children lack shoes and warm clothes…”

 

–The Guardian, 1 December, 2014

 

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/01/syrian-refugees-food-crisis-un-world-programme

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RT: ‘2nd class citizen’: Israeli Arabs stamp Facebook pics to protest ‘Jewish state law’

Posted by uscsjp on November 30, 2014

Images from Facebook.com

Hundreds of Arab Israelis this week have chosen to stamp their Facebook profile pictures with a “second-class citizen” sign. The online campaign mocks and protests the controversial Jewish nation state law the Israeli parliament is set to vote on.

The official-looking stamp has “second class citizen” written in Hebrew and “State of Israel” in English. It was designed by two artists, Haitham Charles and Sana Jamaileh, who wanted to make a statement about the plans to anchor in law the status of Israel as “the national homeland of the Jewish people.”

READ MORE: Netanyahu govt approves disputed bill making Israel nation-state of Jewish people

“A friend suggested we design a sticker in response to the terrible situation,” Charles told Arab Israeli news website Al-Hayat, The Times of Israel reports. “We laughed and said: ‘All we need right now is for the new state seal to be stamped on our foreheads.’ That’s when we decided to invent this stamp.”

Image from Facebook.com

Image from Facebook.com

After they fixed the stamp to their Facebook photos, the authors received an avalanche of requests from other Israeli Arabs wanting to add the sticker to their pictures too. Jamalieh told The Haaretz that in just one day, she “sent pictures to over 200 people.”

Many [people] asked me if we expect some response from the state, but we are really just laughing about it,” she said. “What’s new here? We were never first–class citizens.”

Among those who joined the campaign is Hanin Majadli, a 25-year-old Arabic literature student at Tel Aviv University, who created a Facebook page that teaches Israeli Jews colloquial Arabic.

It’s a brilliant campaign,” she said, according to The Times of Israel. “It’s dramatic, it’s in your face, it’s provocative in a good sense. I also agree with the statement carried in it.”

Image from Facebook.com

Image from Facebook.com

A draft version of the controversial law, which would define Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, was approved by the Israeli government on November 23.

A ‘tougher’ version of the bill could strip Arabic of official second language status. If it’s passed, the language native to 20 percent of the country’s population could be downgraded to a “special status”.

A lot of Israelis have spoken out again the legislation, labeling it as racist. The critics say the bill will discriminate against Israeli Arabs and put religion and ethnicity above democracy.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin criticized the bill earlier this week. “The formulators of the (Israeli) Declaration of Independence, with much wisdom, insisted the Arab communities in Israel, as well as other groups, should not feel as the Jews had felt in exile,” Rivlin stressed.

Image from Facebook.com

Image from Facebook.com

—RT News, November 30th, 2014

http://rt.com/news/209631-israeli-arabs-facebook-stamps/

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Rasmea Defense Committee statement: “Without a full and fair trial, Rasmea found guilty”

Posted by uscsjp on November 10, 2014

The following was sent out at 8:34 am this morning to the Committee to Stop FBI Repression listserve:

 

Rasmea Defense Committee statement

Without a full and fair trial,
Rasmea found guilty

In a travesty of justice, Rasmea Odeh today was found guilty of one count of Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization. For over a year, Rasmea, her supporters, and her legal team have been battling this unjust government prosecution, saying from the start that the immigration charge was nothing but a pretext to attack this icon of the Palestine liberation movement. And although there is real anger and disappointment in the jury’s verdict, it was known as early as October 27th that she would not get a full and fair trial.

On that day, Judge Gershwin Drain made a number of rulings that made her defense virtually impossible. The government’s indictment stated that she had unlawfully gained U.S. citizenship because she had allegedly answered a number of questions falsely on her visa application in 1995 and her naturalization application in 2004. She had been in this country as a lawful permanent resident for almost 20 years, and a citizen for over nine, when she was arrested on October 22nd, 2013.

The main basis for the arrest a year ago was that she had allegedly falsely answered “No” to a question asking whether she had ever been arrested or imprisoned. The government claimed that she failed to disclose that she had been convicted by the Israelis of participating in bombings in 1969. This conviction in a military court was the result of a false confession made after she was viciously tortured and raped by Israeli military authorities for weeks. There is no due process in Israeli military courts, which “convict” over 99% of Palestinians who come before them, and “evidence” from these should not be accepted in a court in the U.S.

But Judge Drain did allow the conviction in Israel to be entered into evidence; and even though he suggested that Rasmea’s assertion that she faced torture and sexual abuse at the hands of her Israeli captors was “credible,” he still ruled that it could not be brought up in the course of her trial. So her attorneys had to scrap plans to call to the stand an expert witness, clinical psychologist Dr. Mary Fabri, who has decades of experience working with torture survivors, to testify that the allegedly false answers on the immigration forms were the result of Rasmea’s chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The judge also rejected Rasmea’s selective prosecution motion, even though it was clear that the case against her grew out of the investigation of 23 anti-war and Palestinian community organizers in Chicago and Minneapolis, who were subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in 2010. Make no mistake. Rasmea came under attack by the U.S. government because she is Palestinian, and because for decades, she has organized for Palestinian liberation and self-determination, the Right of Return, and an end to U.S. funding of Israeli occupation. Palestine support work, especially the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement, has made a number of recent gains, and the long arm of federal law enforcement has attempted to crack down on it, like it has on all effective and impactful movements for social justice in the history of this country. The crackdown reached Rasmea.

More than 200 people from across the Midwest, especially from Chicago, traveled to stand with her throughout the trial. They bore silent witness to her incredible testimony, for despite the judge’s rulings, she and her defense team did put the crimes of Israel on record. Her story of being exiled from the village of her birth, Lifta, in 1948; of being exiled again during the 1967 war; of experiencing the death of her sister after the raid on her home in 1969; and of being a political prisoner, one of the most famous in the history of the Palestine liberation movement—all these are stories of the crimes of apartheid Israel, crimes that continue today in the racist settler and military assaults we have seen in the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem, 1948 Palestine, and the West Bank. Israel’s terrorism, and the U.S. government’s complicity, were exposed for all the world to see.

Rasmea’s honesty in the face of cross-examination from Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel was thoroughly convincing as well. She said clearly that she thought the questions on the immigration forms were being asked about her time in the U.S., because she said she had nothing to hide and did not need to lie. She had testified about her torture at the United Nations when she was released in 1979, and as her lead attorney, Michael Deutsch, said, “It was well known that she was convicted, and traded [in a prisoner exchange]. The U.S. Embassy knew it, the State Department knew it, and Immigration should have known it.” So although the government had to prove that she “knowingly lied,” it never met that burden, regardless of what the verdict says.

For over a year, the Rasmea Defense Committee has been organizing educational events, rallies, protests, and call-in days to demand that U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade and Tukel drop the charges against her. We now have more work ahead of us. Rasmea’s brilliant legal team—Deutsch, Jim Fennerty, Bill Goodman, and Dennis Cunningham—will undoubtedly file an appeal, and have strong grounds to do so, based on Judge Drain’s unjust decisions. And we will continue to support their work with our political organizing and mobilizations.

Just like our people in Palestine and across the world will never rest until every inch of historical Palestine is free, we will never rest in our defense and support of Rasmea as she moves forward to challenge this conviction. As Deutsch said in his closing statement to the jury, “It has been one of the great privileges of my long legal career to represent this extraordinary woman of great passion and dignity.” Rasmea’s story is the story of millions of Palestinians, and of millions of freedom-loving defenders of justice everywhere. Her eventual victory will be a victory for Palestine and for all the people’s movements across the world.

Today, we thank everyone who stood with Rasmea this past year, and ask you to continue fighting with us until we achieve that victory.

www.uspcn.org and www.stopfbi.net

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EI: “‘A political prosecution': inside the trial of Rasmea Odeh”

Posted by uscsjp on November 10, 2014

“The Rasmea [Odeh] Defense Committee has asserted that the US attorney’s prosecution of Rasmea is a political prosecution — it’s because Rasmea is this iconic and legendary Palestinian figure,” reporter and contributor to The Electronic Intifada Charlotte Silver said on Friday from Detroit after the week-long trial of Palestinian American human rights activist Rasmea Odeh concluded. Jurors have begun deliberation.

Odeh was indicted last year “for allegedly giving false answers on her application for citizenship, which she was granted in 2004. The four questions she is alleged to have answered falsely inquired about her criminal record,” Silver reports.

“You have to really think about the fact that the Detroit US attorney’s office [has] been working for four years with the Department of Homeland Security to build this case against Rasmea Odeh,” she told The Electronic Intifada on Friday.

Silver has been reporting each day from the week-long trial in Detroit for The Electronic Intifada and other media outlets.

Verdict expected on Monday

In her latest report, published on Saturday, Silver writes that “After a week in court, the last day brought some relief to Odeh and her lawyers, who have been preparing for this trial for a year.”

Silver added in her report that “Before the jury entered Judge Gershwin A. Drain’s Detroit courtroom on Friday morning, Odeh’s lead attorney Michael Deutsch asked the court to have a directed verdict of not guilty; this was was denied by Drain. A directed verdict is when a presiding judge decides that no reasonable jury could arrive at a guilty verdict.

“For the last week, her defense team has stoutly contested the allegation that Odeh ‘knowingly’ answered falsely, arguing instead that her brother first filled out her application for a visa in 1995 and that she misinterpreted the questions on her application for citizenship in 2004.”

The jurors are expected to return a verdict on Monday.

Listen to the interview via the media player above, or read the following transcript.

“Peoples’ hopes are high”

Charlotte Silver: What the trial has been focused on is Rasmea’s immigration applications — her visa application that she filed in 1995 and her application for naturalization that she filed for nine years later, in 2004. The judge has made the parameters of the case extremely narrow, so really the jury is just supposed to look at her application, look at the four questions she’s alleged to have answered falsely, and determine if she knowingly answered them falsely.

So whereas before, the defense had a very extensive argument to make in Rasmea’s defense as for why those four questions were answered the way they were, they’ve had to really focus on proving that Rasmea Odeh’s interpretations of those questions — or the questions as they’re written — are ambiguously written. So it’s been very focused on that.

The prosecutor, the US government, has brought into court nearly 100 Israeli documents that were used to convict Rasmea Odeh in 1969 of participating in two bombings, a series of bombings in Jerusalem — one which resulted in the death of two people.

Rasmea Odeh was convicted of this charge after enduring 25 days of torture by Israeli security, and this has been documented several times over the course of the last 45 years. She gave a testimony in Geneva about this torture, she has spoken to various media outlets, to various human rights organizations about the torture she endured, and again she told a clinical psychologist, Mary Fabri, who’s based in Chicago, has worked with torture victims for over thirty years, told how she was tortured in 1969 to Mary Fabri, and none of that is being allowed into the trial.

Yet, the jurors are hearing over and over again that Rasmea Odeh was convicted of bombings that killed two people. What I think is significant is that in the gallery, there are dozens of supporters of Rasmea. There is also the brother of one of the victims of the bombing in 1969, and he’s sitting on the bench of the US attorneys, not at the table, but at the bench in the gallery that’s been reserved for US attorneys. And he has been following this case very closely, and he’s obviously in close contact with the US prosecuting attorneys — so even though the judge has strictly instructed the court to minimally refer to the 1969 conviction that Rasmea Odeh is now being brought up against, it’s very clear that the prosecutor is being motivated by this charge that was brought about by 25 days of torture.

And on the part of the defense, Rasmea Odeh has worked in the Chicago community of Arab and Muslim immigrant women since 2004, in this sort of spectacular way. And yesterday, testifying for the defense was Nadine Naber, who’s a professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago, who testified to Rasmea Odeh’s incredible work helping immigrant women from Arab and Muslim communities integrate among themselves and mount this challenge of isolation. Rasmea Odeh has been working with the Arab American Action Network for nine years with women, but also more generally with the youth, trying to reduce violence in the community, and this is why she has dozens of people driving out from Chicago, staying in Detroit to watch this trial, to support her throughout this. Because she has become such a prominent leader in the Chicago Palestinian and Arab community.

And it’s why the Rasmea Defense Committee has asserted that the US attorney’s prosecution of Rasmea is a political prosecution — it’s because Rasmea is this iconic and legendary Palestinian figure. You have to really think about the fact that the Detroit US attorney’s office has spent four years, they’ve been working for four years with the Department of Homeland Security to build this case against Rasmea Odeh.

They filed this indictment nine years after she filed her immigration forms, after she became a citizen. The defense wrote that this was an example of selective prosecution, specifically for Rasmea exercising her First Amendment rights, which was being an active participant in the Palestinian American community. And none of that is being allowed in.

So the jurors don’t know that the FBI had conducted this mass investigation into Palestinian and Palestine solidarity activists in Chicago, and that’s how they discovered this very small false answer on her application. All of that’s being excluded from the trial — but it’s important background for people outside of the trial to understand.

Nora Barrows-Friedman Finally, Charlotte Silver, today, Friday was the last day of the trial — there was a cross-examination and now the jury has gone into deliberation. In speaking with her supporters and Rasmea Odeh’s lawyers, what do people expect? I know it’s always hard to speculate in terms of what a jury decides, but based on your experience inside the courtroom this week, what are her supporters and her lawyers expecting?

CS: Well, peoples’ hopes are high. I think that the defense has done a really fantastic job developing a defense strategy given the constraints that they were under, and I think they’ve done a very good job at presenting Rasmea Odeh as who she really is in the community, as not a criminal. They have been able to touch on the background to her conviction in 1969, and they have been able to put forth an argument that she could reasonably have misinterpreted the questions as she answered them, so that she did not knowingly give false answers, she misunderstood the questions that were provided and answered them according to how she interpreted them. And they’ve been able to show inconsistencies within the application and the language of the application itself, and also over the different versions of the applications.

They’ve developed what I think is a strong argument to be made. Of course, there are no Muslim or Arab jurors — it’s eight women and four men, mostly white, and so those are the demographics of it. But it’s hard to know how they are going to rule.

The jurors will return to deliberate on Monday.

–Nora Barrows-Friedman, The Electronic Intifada, Sun, Nov 9, 2014

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Israeli Right-Wing Activist Killed and other updates from Democracy Now!

Posted by uscsjp on October 30, 2014

Israel Closes Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound After Shooting of Far-Right Activist

Israel has shut down the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem for the first time in 14 years following the shooting of an Israeli far-right activist. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the closure as a “declaration of war on the Palestinian people.” The site, known by Jews as the Temple Mount, houses both the mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Jamal Tawfiq, a resident of Jerusalem, said he was turned away after arriving for his morning prayers.

Jamal Tawfiq: “This is a collective punishment [for something] we had nothing to do with. This is injustice. There’s no fair government here. Justice should be the basis for governance. But there is no justice here. A problem happens with a person over there, they close the mosque here. Why is it OK to allow Jews to go pray at the Wailing Wall without any harassment, while a Palestinian is killed every day? Every day, a Palestinian is killed. Every day, holy olive trees are burned and pulled out because they belong to Arab Palestinians. Why are we the ones being punished?”

On Wednesday night, U.S.-born activist Yehuda Glick was shot and wounded outside a conference on promoting Jewish access to the Al-Aqsa site, where he and others want to build a Jewish temple. Hours later, Israeli police shot and killed a Palestinian suspect in the shooting, who they said resisted arrest.

U.N. Holds Emergency Meeting on Illegal Israeli Settlements

The latest tensions came as the United Nations held an emergency meeting on Israel’s plans to build 1,000 new settlements in occupied East Jerusalem. The settlements in an area which Palestinians seek as part of any future state are considered illegal under international law. Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to press ahead with construction.

Sweden Recognizes State of Palestine in First for EU

Sweden has officially recognized the state of Palestine, becoming the first member of the European Union to do so. In a newspaper op-ed, Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Margot Wallstrom called the move “an important step that confirms the Palestinians’ right to self-determination,” adding, “Some will say today’s decision comes too soon. I’m afraid, rather, that it is too late.”

Malala Yousafzai to Donate $50,000 for Gaza Schools

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has promised to donate $50,000 to rebuild schools inGaza that were damaged by this summer’s Israeli offensive. After receiving the World Children’s Prize in Sweden, Yousafzai said she would donate all the prize money to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees.

Malala Yousafzai: “This money will totally go to the rebuilding of schools for children in Gaza. So I think it will definitely help those children to continue their education, to get quality education, and it will help them to continue their life and to know that people are supporting them and they’re not alone. And I’m really happy that this funding will help in the rebuilding of 65 schools in Gaza.”

SodaStream to Move West Bank Settlement Factory After Boycott

The company SodaStream has announced plans to move its factory out of an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank following an international boycott. SodaStream said its move was “purely commercial.” But supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement have claimed the move as a victory, saying their efforts caused SodaStream’s share prices to drop as retailers were pressured to abandon their products.

U.N. Votes 188 to 2 Against Embargo of Cuba; U.S., Israel Only Dissenters

The United Nations General Assembly has voted nearly unanimously to condemn the U.S. embargo on Cuba for the 23rd year in a row. Just like last year, the vote was 188 to 2 with only Israel joining the United States. Three countries abstained: Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.

 

–Democracy Now!, 30 October, 2014

 

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/10/30/headlines#10306

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Amy Goodman Interviews Chomsky after his Address to the UN General Assembly

Posted by uscsjp on October 24, 2014

…AMY GOODMAN: What do you think is the most—the single most important action the United States can take? And what about its role over the years? What is its interest here?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, one important action that the United States could take is to live up to its own laws. Of course, it would be nice if it lived up to international law, but maybe that’s too much to ask, but live up to its own laws. And there are several. And here, incidentally, I have in mind advice to activists also, who I think ought to be organizing and educating in this direction. There are two crucial cases.

One of them is what’s called the Leahy Law. Patrick Leahy, Senator Leahy, introduced legislation called the Leahy Law, which bars sending weapons to any military units which are involved in consistent human rights violations. There isn’t the slightest doubt that the Israeli army is involved in massive human rights violations, which means that all dispatch of U.S. arms to Israel is in violation of U.S. law. I think that’s significant. The U.S. should be called upon by its own citizens to—and by others, to adhere to U.S. law, which also happens to conform to international law in this case, as Amnesty International, for example, for years has been calling for an arms embargo against Israel for this reason. These are all steps that can be taken…

–Democracy Now!, October 22, 2014

 

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/10/22/noam_chomsky_at_united_nations_it

 

 

 

 

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AFP: “Gaza donor states urge peace talks as millions pledged”

Posted by uscsjp on October 13, 2014

International donors pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to rebuild the battered Gaza Strip on Sunday, as they urged Israel and the Palestinians to renew peace efforts.

Gas-rich Qatar led the way at a donors conference in Cairo with a promise of $1 billion in aid for the coastal enclave, devastated by its 50-day summer conflict with Israel.

Washington pledged $212 million and European Union member states 450 million euros, but there was clear concern at financing the reconstruction of Gaza yet again without a peace deal in sight.

The crowded coastal enclave, ruled by the Islamist militant Hamas movement since 2007, remained a “tinderbox,” UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned, announcing plans to visit Gaza on Tuesday.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Gaza was facing an “enormous” challenge.

A truck loaded with goods enters the Gaza Strip from Israel through the Kerem Shalom crossing in Rafah in southern Gaza on October 12, 2014
A truck loaded with goods enters the Gaza Strip from Israel through the Kerem Shalom crossing in Rafah in southern Gaza on October 12, 2014
“The people of Gaza do need our help, desperately, not tomorrow, not next week, they need it now,” Kerry told the gathering of some 30 global envoys.

Kerry, who failed to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians earlier this year, urged renewed talks and said the two sides needed to make “tough choices”. The call was echoed by Arab and European envoys.

The Palestinians asked for up to $4 billion in international aid after Gaza suffered heavy damage in its conflict with Israel in July and August.

The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait also pledged $200 million each on Sunday.

There is widespread concern that — after three destructive conflicts in the past six years — any help to Gaza will eventually be lost in more violence.

(L-R) Norway’s Foreign Minister Borge Brende, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shokri, Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas pictured at the opening session of the Gaza Donor Conference in Cairo on October 12, 2014
(L-R) Norway’s Foreign Minister Borge Brende, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shokri, Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas pictured at the opening session of the Gaza Donor Conference in Cairo on October 12, 2014
Ban expressed the fears of many when he told the conference the situation in Gaza remained potentially explosive.

“Gaza remains a tinderbox, the people desperately need to see results in their daily lives,” Ban said.

“This must be the last time. There is clearly some fatigue,” he later told reporters.

- ‘Neighbourhoods destroyed’ -

The Palestinian government unveiled a 76-page reconstruction plan ahead of the conference, with the lion’s share of assistance to build housing.

“Gaza has suffered three wars in six years. Entire neighbourhoods have been destroyed,” Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas told the conference.

Kerry said the new aid brought Washington’s contribution to helping Gaza to more than $400 million over the last year alone.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon (R) greets Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah Al-Khalid al-Sabah during the Gaza Donor Conference in Cairo on October 12, 2014
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon (R) greets Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah Al-Khalid al-Sabah during the Gaza Donor Conference in Cairo on October 12, 2014
Kerry was due later to meet Abbas to press for further peace efforts.

“Make no mistake. What was compelling about a two-state solution a year ago is even more compelling today,” Kerry said.

Kerry’s dogged pursuit of an agreement to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel collapsed in acrimony in April after a difficult nine-month process, and there is little prospect of fresh talks any time soon.

Israel and Hamas militants have yet to even translate their open-ended August ceasefire into a long-term truce.

In his meeting with Abbas, Kerry is expected to try to dissuade him from seeking further recognition of the Palestinians at the United Nations, a move vehemently opposed by Israel.

This summer’s conflict killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, while attacks by Gaza militants killed 73 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi (R) speaks with Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair during the Gaza Donor Conference in Cairo on October 12, 2014
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi (R) speaks with Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair during the Gaza Donor Conference in Cairo on October 12, 2014
It also left the densely populated enclave in ruins, displacing more than a quarter of Gaza’s population of 1.7 million and leaving 100,000 people homeless.

- Israel consent needed -

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA has described Gaza’s financial needs as “unprecedented”.

The United Nations already has plans for $2.1 billion of the funds, with $1.6 billion going to UNRWA and the rest to other agencies including children’s organisation UNICEF and development arm UNDP.

One crucial question will be how the aid is delivered, especially given Israel’s strict blockade of the territory since 2006.

Palestinian children sit in the window of a partially destroyed building in al-Tufah, east of Gaza City on October 11, 2014
Palestinian children sit on the window of a partially destroyed building in al-Tufah, east of Gaza City on October 11, 2014, ahead of a donors conference in Cairo
Israel was not invited to the conference but Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said any effort would need his government’s consent.

“Gaza cannot be rebuilt without the cooperation and participation of Israel,” Lieberman said in an interview with news website Ynet, though he added that Israel would be “receptive” to plans for “the reconstruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza”.

Internal divisions among the Palestinians are also a matter of widespread concern and they strived to present a united front in advance of the conference.

On Thursday, a new unity government held its first cabinet meeting in Gaza, months after a reconciliation deal between rivals Fatah, which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, which is in de facto control of Gaza.

–Jo Biddle and Jay Deshmukh, Agence France-Presse, October 12, 2014

Posted on Alternet:

http://www.alternet.org/progressive-wire/gaza-donor-states-urge-peace-talks-millions-pledged

 

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AFP: US slams Abbas UN speech as ‘offensive’

Posted by uscsjp on September 27, 2014

The United States on Friday slammed Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas’ speech at the United Nations, saying it was “offensive” and undermined peace efforts.

“President Abbas’ speech today included offensive characterizations that were deeply disappointing and which we reject,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

“Such provocative statements are counterproductive and undermine efforts to create a positive atmosphere and restore trust between the parties,” she said.

In his address to the UN General Assembly, Abbas demanded an end to occupation, accused Israel of waging a “war of genocide” in Gaza and asserted that Palestinians faced a future in a “most abhorrent form of apartheid” under Israeli rule.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also blasted Abbas, accusing him of “diplomatic terrorism.”

–Agence-France Press, Sept 27, 2014

http://www.afp.com/en/node/2881681

Judge for Yourself: Full Text of Abbas Speech Here.

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