USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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

Posted by uscsjp on April 7, 2014

From Democracy Now!

Ambassador: U.S. Will Continue to “Deter Palestinian Action” on Statehood

Israel is threatening “unilateral” action if Palestinians press ahead with statehood moves at the United Nations. The Palestinian Authority applied for membership in 15 international conventions and treaties last week after Israel reneged on a pledge to free Palestinian prisoners. On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Palestinian efforts to obtain international recognition “will be answered by unilateral moves [on] our end.” The Obama administration is backing Israel’s opposition to Palestinian statehood efforts. Testifying before a House panel last week, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said trying to “deter Palestinian action … is what we do all the time, and that is what we will continue to do.”

 

–Democracy Now, April 7th, 2014

 

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/4/7/headlines#478

 

From NPR:

Stay Or Go: How Israeli-Palestinian Peace Would Redefine Home

 

More than 1 million Arabs are citizens of Israel. And over the years, some 350,000 Jewish Israelis have moved to settlements in the West Bank. If the Israelis and Palestinians were to make peace and set a formal border, what would happen to all these people?

The vast majority of Arab Israelis are Palestinian. Most belong to families that either stayed in their homes during the war following Israel’s 1948 declaration of independence or fled to areas that wound up on the western, or Israeli side, of the cease-fire line. They hold Israeli passports and enjoy the rights of citizenship. But many experience discrimination and a challenging sense of dual identity.

The Jewish Israeli settlers in the West Bank live on land east of the 1948 cease-fire line that Israel’s military has occupied since the 1967 war. They have chosen these homes for a variety of reasons: religious, Zionist and economic. Palestinians — and most of the world — consider the 1948 cease-fire line, known as the Green Line, as the basis for a future border dividing Israel and a Palestinian state, and the Jewish settlements, guarded by Israeli soldiers, illegally built in occupied territory.

Like many settlers, Nachum Pechenick wants to continue living in the West Bank. But unlike most others, he is not lobbying for a peace deal that puts his home on the Israeli side of a future border.

Pechenick says he wants to be a Palestinian citizen. Eventually, the 41-year-old wants to serve in the Palestinian parliament.

“It’s a favor for us,” he says. “It’s also a favor for the Palestinians, because minorities are important to democracy.”

He calls it a “simple” concept but admits it would be very difficult to implement, given high emotions on both sides. In Pechenick’s vision, Israeli soldiers would leave. He says real peace would mean that Jews living among Palestinians would not need special protection.

An old-time settler, from the same settlement where Pechenick was born and raised, calls the idea noble, but naive.

Elyakim Haetzni, 87, left Hitler’s Germany as a child and was wounded fighting in Israel in 1948. He moved to Kiryat Arba, a settlement next to the West Bank city of Hebron, to help rebuild a Jewish presence in the area after Israel captured the city in 1967. He is determined to stay where he is, as an Israeli citizen under Israeli protection.

If the Israeli government signs a peace deal, he says, “they must stipulate how they protect us. If the stipulation is the Arab party undertakes to protect the life of the Jews, then we can already write our wills.”

He laughs — a robust guffaw — when he says this.

Palestinian officials say they would welcome any individual to apply for Palestinian citizenship, but they insist the Jewish settlements won’t stay.

They’re not sure how they would view an individual like Pechenick — a second-generation settler who has built his home in an “outpost” settlement, considered illegal even by the Israeli government, yet who works with Palestinians on joint projects for peace.

Pechenick’s motivation to stay put isn’t, in his words, “to control the land.”

“I want to stay here because I love my motherland,” he says. “I want to be here where it’s a good neighborhood with my Palestinian neighbor.”

On the other side of the fence-and-wall barrier Israel built in and around the West Bank, Arab Israelis are having a similar debate. If they had a chance to live in an independent Palestinian state, would they?

Yassar Shpeta would move as soon as the state was created. An Israeli citizen, he is tired of feeling a stranger in his own country, he says.

“The way authorities treat me, they give me the feeling I am not welcome here,” he says. “When I’m leaving through the airport, I get special treatment. When my house was robbed I got different treatment from the police. I feel that I need to fight for everything.”

Shpeta, 56, lives in a mixed Arab-Jewish community in Israel specifically designed to promote peace. He is married to a Jewish Israeli woman — and he’s not sure she’d move to a Palestinian state with him. Still, that wouldn’t stop him, he says.

“I hope there would be a relationship between the two states and we could visit each other, but after 56 years in Israel, I think I would feel at home in a Palestinian state,” he says.

Other Palestinian-Israelis say they would stay in Israel.

Zuhair Tibi, a family physician, is also Palestinian-Israeli. He calls discrimination in Israel “structural” and sees it in education, public infrastructure and planning, and job opportunities. But he wouldn’t move to a Palestinian state.

“We can’t do that,” he says. “To move means to leave our home. We can’t leave our home. Because we are deeply connected to this place.”

By “this place,” Tibi doesn’t only mean Taibe, the Arab town in Israel where he was born and still lives today, across the barrier from the West Bank city of Tulkarem. He means places throughout Israel: the old port city of Jaffa where his mother grew up, the beach town of Netanya where he manages a clinic, anywhere he has friends, family or memories. He expects if he chose to live in a new Palestinian state, he’d be cut off from these places, as Palestinians in the West Bank are now.

That’s the case for the extended family of 70-year-old Hussein Jbara. Standing on a dry hillside in Israel, Jbara points to a similar hill on the far side of the Israeli barrier that separates him from family members who live in the West Bank. He says he’s unlikely to move to a Palestinian state because he thinks it would be governed in a way he wouldn’t support.

“Like the Syrian government, like the Jordan kingdom, like Saudi Arabia. My vision is something different … democratic, liberated, industrialized,” Jbara says. “It takes many years to make a Palestinian state like what I want.”

Jbara has lived in Israel his entire life — but it’s possible his property could wind up on the Palestinian side.

Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, proposes drawing a border that would put land that’s home to tens of thousands of Arab-Israelis into Palestinian territory. Israeli legal experts say it would have to be done with Palestinian consent.

Diya Yahaya, a 26-year-old from Taibe, didn’t pay much attention to Lieberman’s proposal. He says talk of reducing Israel’s Arab population is nothing new. He knows he’s glad not to live in the West Bank now. It’s hard to find work there, he says, and under the military occupation, it can be dangerous.

“Sometimes it’s chaos,” he says. “Here, even though we are Arabs in a Jewish state, there’s more security and more opportunity.”

But what if there was no occupation, and Palestinians ran their own country? Yahaya thinks he might feel out of place, as he does when he visits the West Bank now.

“As an Arab-Israeli, I feel discrimination in the West Bank, too,” he says. “They treat me differently. I don’t really feel at home in either place.”

 

–Emily Harris, NPR Parallels Blog, April 3, 2014

http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/04/03/298716296/stay-or-go-how-israeli-palestinian-peace-would-redefine-home

 

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FIFA threatens to expel Israel over treatment of Palestinian footballers  

Posted by uscsjp on April 6, 2014

 FIFA has threatened to expel Israel over its treatment of Palestinian football players and officials in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.

The Inside World Football website said in a report on Monday that FIFA gave Israel until summer to improve playing conditions and travel for the Palestinian players and officials.

FIFA also warned that Israel would face a complete expulsion from the international federation if it fails to address the issue.

FIFA has launched a mediation task force over the matter.

Palestinian football official Jibril Rajoub has met with FIFA President Sepp Blatter in an effort to resolve the long-term difficulties Palestinian footballers face due to Israel’s policies.

FIFA wants Palestinian and Israeli football officials to sign a formal agreement over the issue at or around the June congress of FIFA. However, Palestinian officials say that the agreement could not be signed while Israelis continue to impose travel permit restrictions on everyone from footballers to consultants.

They also say that such restrictions often keep the Palestinian national team from competing with its complete squad. The bans also restrict hosting games in the occupied West Bank.

Israelis say FIFA has mixed politics and sport.

In January, Israeli forces shot and injured two Palestinian football players in the West Bank. Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, were shot while walking home from a training session in the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium in the town of al-Ram.

The two were told that they might not be able to play again.

 

–Press TV, April 1st, 2014

 

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/04/01/356762/fifa-threatens-to-expel-israel/

 

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Amnesty International Calls on International Community to Cut Off Arms to Israel

Posted by uscsjp on March 3, 2014

Amnesty International has released a report urging “the USA, the European Union and the rest of the international community to suspend all transfers of munitions, weapons and other equipment to Israel.”

“Without pressure from the international community the situation is unlikely to change any time soon,” said Philip Luther [Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International].
“Too much civilian blood has been spilled. This long-standing pattern of abuse must be broken. If the Israeli authorities wish to prove to the world they are committed to democratic principles and international human rights standards, unlawful killings and unnecessary use of force must stop now.”

“Out of nowhere many soldiers jumped out and ambushed Samir. They shot him first in the leg, yet he managed to run away towards the village. But how far can an injured child run? Twenty, maybe 30, metres? They could have easily arrested him, especially when he was injured, but instead they shot him in the back with live ammunition… To me this is premeditated murder.” Malek Murrar, 16, interviewed on 20 September 2013 at the site where he had witnessed his friend Samir Awad being shot earlier in the year. (From Amnesty International’s Report that can be downloaded here.)…

–Veterans News Now, 1 March, 2014

http://www.veteransnewsnow.com/2014/03/01/amnesty-international-calls-on-international-community-to-cut-off-arms-to-israel/

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Ali Abunimah: “Roger Waters blasts Scarlett Johansson over Israel”

Posted by uscsjp on February 5, 2014

Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters has fiercely criticized Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson over her decision to endorse SodaStream, an Israeli company that operates a factory in an illegal colony in the occupied West Bank.
Waters writes that in his previous encounters with Johansson, the actress struck him as a “young woman of strength and integrity who believed in truth, human rights, and the law and love.”
Now, the rock legend says that Johansson’s decision to quit her role with the charity Oxfam in order to represent occupation profiteer SodaStream “is such an act of intellectual, political, and civil about face, that we, all those of us who care about the downtrodden, the oppressed, the occupied, the second class, will find it hard to rationalize.”
He has also written privately to Johansson and to musician Neil Young urging them to respect the Palestinian call for the cultural and economic boycott of Israel.
The Canadian-born Young faces growing calls to cancel a scheduled performance in Tel Aviv this summer.
Waters – who has been an outspoken supporter of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) – made the statements in a note he posted on his Facebook page.
Here’s Waters’ note in full:
In the past days I have written privately to Neil Young (once) and to Scarlett Johanson (a couple of times). Those letters will remain private.
Sadly, I have received no reply from either.
And so I write this note on my Facebook page somewhat in bewilderment.
Neil? I shall ponder all of this long and hard. We don’t really know each other, but, you were always one of my heroes, I am confused.
Scarlett? Ah, Scarlett. I met Scarlett a year or so ago, I think it was at a Cream reunion concert at MSG. She was then, as I recall, fiercely anti Neocon, passionately disgusted by Blackwater (Dick Cheney’s private army in Iraq), you could have been forgiven for thinking that here was a young woman of strength and integrity who believed in truth, human rights, and the law and love. I confess I was somewhat smitten. There’s no fool like an old fool. A few years down the line, Scarlett’s choice of SodaStream over Oxfam is such an act of intellectual, political, and civil about face, that we, all those of us who care about the downtrodden, the oppressed, the occupied, the second class, will find it hard to rationalize.
I would like to ask that younger Scarlett a question or two. Scarlett, just for one example, are you aware that the Israeli government has razed to the ground a Bedouin village in the Negev desert in Southern Israel 63 times, the last time being on the 26th of December 2013. This village is the home to Bedouin. The Bedouin are, of course, Israeli citizens with full rights of citizenship. Well, not quite full rights, because in “Democratic” Israel there are fifty laws that discriminate against non Jewish citizens.
I am not going to attempt to list, either those laws (they are on the statute book in the Knesset for all to research) or all the other grave human rights abuses of Israeli domestic and foreign policy. I would run out of space. But, to return to my friend Scarlett Johansson.
Scarlett, I have read your reposts and excuses, in them you claim that the Palestinian workers in the factory have equal pay, benefits and “Equal rights.” Really? Equal Rights? Do they?
Do they have the right to vote?
Do they have access to the roads?
Can they travel to their work place without waiting for hours to pass through the occupying forces control barriers?
Do they have clean drinking water?
Do they have sanitation?
Do they have citizenship?
Do they have the right not to have the standard issue kicking in their door in the middle of the night and taking their children away?
Do they have the right to appeal against arbitrary and indefinite imprisonment?
Do they have the right to re-occupy the property and homes they owned before 1948?
Do they have the right to an ordinary, decent human family life?
Do they have the right to self determination?
Do they have the right to continue to develop a cultural life that is ancient and profound?
If these questions put you in a quandary I can answer them for you. The answer is, NO, they do not.
The workers in The SodaStream Factory do not have any of these rights.
So, what are the “equal rights” of which you speak?
Scarlett, you are undeniably cute, but if you think SodaStream is building bridges towards peace you are also undeniably not paying attention.
Love
R.
In August, Roger Waters published an open letter calling on fellow musicians to unite against Israel. “I write to you now, my brothers and sisters in the family of Rock and Roll, to ask you to join with me, and thousands of other artists around the world, to declare a cultural boycott on Israel,” Waters wrote.
He officially announced he was joining the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in 2011.

 

–Verterans News Now, February 3rd, 2014

 

http://www.veteransnewsnow.com/2014/02/03/roger-waters-takes-neil-young-and-scarlett-johansson-to-task-on-facebook/

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The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The Sound of Silencing in American Academe”

Posted by uscsjp on February 5, 2014

I’ve attended more than three dozen conventions of the Modern Language Association, but this year’s was different. And that’s not because I was MLA president, organized a forum, and delivered my presidential address. It was because I became the target of an intimidation campaign that took the form of hate-email blasts, public attacks, personal letters and phone calls, and insistent appeals to stop one of the convention’s 800 sessions before it was held. The session was called “Academic Boycotts: A Conversation About Israel and Palestine.”

Unlike the American Studies Association, which voted in December to “endorse … the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions,” the MLA was not considering a boycott resolution. Nonetheless, the emails I received were written as if a boycott resolution were not only under consideration but had already passed.

The specific resolution on the agenda of the MLA’s Delegate Assembly concerned restrictions on the freedom of travel for American students and faculty members of Palestinian descent to universities in the West Bank. Those restrictions are documented on the U.S. State Department website, and the resolution asked the MLA to urge the State Department to “contest” them.

The messages that poured in from individuals and groups like Hillel and the Israel on Campus Coalition persisted in mischaracterizing, exaggerating, and distorting both the session and the resolution. “Shame on MLA for the hate and anti-Semitism,” one email read. Many demanded “balance.” But academic conference sessions are not talk-show debates; speakers explore a topic, raise questions, and advance nuanced conclusions. Disagreement can be voiced during the discussion period. Critics have claimed that academic boycotts violate academic freedom and the open exchange of ideas. Yet the vehemence of the opposition, the hyperbolic fliers that were distributed condemning boycotts, and the portrayal of the session as a foregone conclusion, in fact blocked the open conversation that we in the U.S. academy need to nurture and protect.

At the same time, the MLA resolution to “urge” the State Department to “contest” Israeli travel restrictions was mischaracterized as “condemning” Israel. Eric Fingerhut, president of Hillel, and Jacob Baime, executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition, wrote a letter to university presidents asking them to take pre-emptive action against the MLA. “Rather than speaking after the fact, as we were forced to do with the ASA resolution,” their letter reads, “we urge you to make clear, in advance of the MLA resolution, your opposition to it and to any other effort to hold Israel to a different standard than any other nation.”

Some of the emails my colleagues and I received were accompanied by well-known photographs of Nazis with signs calling for boycotts of Jewish stores. One, in particular, was sent by many dozens of people from around the country and abroad:

“I am writing in protest of the Modern Language Association’s resolution to ‘condemn Israel’s denial of entries to academics invited to Palestinian universities.’ … Boycotts of the Jewish people were commonplace in Europe leading up to the Holocaust, and led to the extermination of 6 million of our people in the Shoah. Less than 80 years ago Jews suffered our biggest losses, but we also made our biggest gain: a homeland for the Jewish people. Finally, after 4,000 years of unwavering persecution, a land to call our own. We will never leave that land, and the MLA can do nothing about it.

“The Jewish people have faced many enemies over the years. We have defeated all of them, including Nazi Germany. Your resolution is simply another attempt to remove us from our historic claim to the land of Israel. In doing so, you only serve to discredit yourselves.”

Note what the email conflates: “contest” with “condemn” and the resolution with a full-fledged boycott and an attempt to remove Jews from Israel. Note, above all, how it distorts history.

As a daughter of Holocaust survivors and as someone who has been doing scholarly work on the cultural memory of the Holocaust for over two decades, I was viscerally upset to read these accusations and to see Nazi propaganda images on my computer screen. But I was more disheartened by how American Jewish organizations and their members insisted on violating the painful history of Jews, including that of my parents, to foreclose discussion of the policies of the state of Israel and their impact on Israeli and Palestinian education.

Hyperbole is not limited to one side where discussions of Israel/Palestine are concerned. For example, a recent article on the Electronic Intifada website pre-empts all opposition to academic boycotts, for whatever reason, stating that “Academic boycott — along with its partners, divestment and sanctions — serves the greater goal of Palestinian decolonization. No matter the specific nature of the argument, all negative responses to boycott illustrate a profound discomfort with that possibility.”

When it comes to the topic of Israel and Palestine, discussion is curtailed before it begins. In a debate that is structured to allow only two clear-cut sides, words lose their meaning. And logic is twisted to stifle expression. Russell Berman, a professor at Stanford, said at an alternative panel, held off-site during the convention: “Criticism of Israeli policies or Zionism is not necessarily anti-Semitic. But the mere fact that one has anti-Zionist views does not prove that one is not anti-Semitic.”

Some words have become so inflammatory that their mere mention unleashes the extreme reactions we’ve been witnessing. “Boycott” is such a word, and, if we could discuss the constellation of issues to which that term applies, we could also put into historical perspective the call to boycott by Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and non-Jews. We could sort out how limited the practical effects of a boycott of institutions rather than individuals by scholarly associations like the ASA would be. We could sort out the ethics and politics of boycott as symbolic action. And we could explore alternative means of expressing solidarity with Palestinian colleagues, means that might be less divisive.

Many people have questioned the MLA’s right to intervene in politics. But isn’t it precisely our linguistic expertise that could help sort out the irreconcilable meanings of words, their irresponsible deployment, and the practices of silencing that ensue?

To create the space for the difficult conversations we need to have now and in the future, we must get beyond the silences imposed in the name of academic freedom. We need our academic leaders, our university presidents, not to condemn our scholarly associations, but rather to protect our right to have and to sponsor those important conversations free from harassment campaigns and pre-emptive threats.

Marianne Hirsch is a professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University and at the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality there, as well as director of the university’s Center for the Study of Social Difference.

–The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 3, 2014

 

http://m.chronicle.com/article/The-Sound-of-Silencing-in/144339/

 

 

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US Campaign to End Israeli Occupation: “Scarlett Johansson Comes Out for Occupation!”

Posted by uscsjp on January 27, 2014

On January 10, 2014, occupation profiteer SodaStream announced that Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson had become their first-ever Global Brand Ambassador and will be starring in SodaStream’s Super Bowl ad on February 2.

Scarlett happens to be a Global Ambassador for Oxfam International, which considers settlements to be a major barrier to peace and contributor to poverty. Following international outcry, Oxfam stated that it was engaged in a dialogue with the actress. But on January 24, Scarlett released a statement whitewashing SodaStream’s complicity in Israel’s brutal military occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands and parroting SodaStream propaganda that the company is “building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine.”

More than 7,000 people have signed our petition to Scarlett: Don’t Be the Face of Occupation. Add your name now!

Unlike Scarlett’s claim that SodaStream is “supporting neighbors working alongside each other” SodaStream is actually complicit in Israel’s brutal military occupation of Palestinian land by locating its factory in an illegal West Bank settlement where it exploits Palestinian land, labor, and resources.

Take action now to send the message that shilling for occupation and human rights abuses is unacceptable!

Sign our petition urging Scarlett to take her responsibility as an Oxfam Global Ambassador seriously and end her relationship with SodaStream. Help us reach 10,000 signatures so we can deliver the petition to Scarlett’s agents in NY and LA this week! 

Call Oxfam America and let them know they must dump Scarlett as their ambassador if she continues to defend occupation and settlements. Call (800) 776-9326 then dial extension #2506 to be connected to President Raymond Offenheiser. Urge Oxfam to uphold its values and principled position against settlements and to follow their own precedentIn October 2012, Oxfam Italy cut its ties with Paola Maugeri over her role as a SodaStream PR Ambassador. In 2009, Oxfam International cut ties with Sex and the City star Kristin Davis over her role as spokesperson for cosmetics company Ahava, another Israeli settlement manufacturer.

On Twitter? Sign up for CODEPINK’s “Oxfam Say No to Occupation” Thunderclap! A joint tweet will automatically be sent out on Tuesday, January 18 at 12:00pm EST by all who sign up. This will help amplify the message to Oxfam that it is unacceptable to have an ambassador who defends settlements.

The Super Bowl is in less than one week so we need you to take action now!


Let’s make a touchdown for BDS! 

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BBC News: Chile bans Palestino football club ‘anti-Israel’ shirt

Posted by uscsjp on January 22, 2014

The Chilean football federation has banned a top division team from using a new shirt that has the number one shaped as the map of Palestine before the creation of Israel.
Palestino, a club founded by the large Palestinian community in Chile, has used the new kit in three matches.
Jewish organisations complained that the design implied that all the land was Palestinian.
The Chilean federation said it opposed any form of discrimination.
It also issued a fine of $1,300 (£800) to the Santiago-based club.
Palestino unveiled the new shirts in December, keeping the club’s traditional colours, matching those of the Palestine flag – red, green and black.
However, it replaced the number one by a map of Palestine before the UN voted on the partition of the region in 1947.
Jewish organisations in Chile complained, but it was the owner of first division club Nublense, Patrick Kiblisky, who put forward a formal complaint against Palestino.
“We cannot accept the involvement of football with politics and religion,” he said.
It took several weeks for the football authorities to act and in the meantime the new kit continued to be used.
The federation said it had decided to punish Palestino because it was opposed to “any form of political, religious, sexual, ethnic, social or racial discrimination”.
The club argued that it had used the same design in previous seasons.
On its Facebook page, the club makes clear its views on the Middle East: “For us, free Palestine will always be historical Palestine, nothing less.”
Chile is home to one of the largest Palestinian communities outside the Middle East, says the BBC’s Gideon Long in Santiago.
Palestino was founded in 1920 by immigrants in the south of Chile, according to the club’s website. It became a professional football team in 1952 and has won the league twice.

–BBC News, 20th January, 2014

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-25821058

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Noam Chomsky on the Legacy of Ariel Sharon: Not Speaking Ill of the Dead “Imposes a Vow of Silence” (Democracy Now!)

Posted by uscsjp on January 13, 2014

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died Saturday at the age of 85 after eight years in a coma. Sharon was one of the most dominant political figures in Israel’s history, involved in each of Israel’s major wars dating back to its founding in 1948. Among Palestinians, Sharon was one of the most reviled political figures in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is seen as father of the settlement movement and an architect of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon that killed a reported 20,000 Palestinian and Lebanese. We discuss Sharon’s legacy with three guests: Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and Institute Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University; and Avi Shlaim, Emeritus Professor of International Relations at Oxford University, widely regarded as one of the world’s leading scholars on the Israeli-Arab conflict. “There is a convention that you’re not supposed to speak ill of the recently dead, which unfortunately imposes a kind of vow of silence, because there is nothing good to say,” Chomsky says. “He was a brutal killer; he had one fixed idea in mind which drove him all his life: a greater Israel, as powerful as possible, as few Palestinians as possible. … He doubtless showed courage and commitment to pursuing this ideal, which is an ugly and horrific one.”

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin in Israel, where a state funeral was held today in front of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, for former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He died Saturday after eight years in a coma. He was 85 years old. He’ll be buried in a state funeral today at his home in southern Israel.

The U.S. was among eight countries—18 countries to send delegations to attend Sharon’s funeral, along with Middle East international envoy Tony Blair and the Russian and German foreign ministers. At a state memorial in Jerusalem, Vice President Joe Biden remembered Sharon as a controversial, but bold military leader and statesman.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: When he told 10,000 Israelis to leave their homes in Gaza in order, from his perspective, to strengthen Israel, I can’t think of a much more controversial—as a student of the Jewish state, I can’t think of a much more difficult and controversial decision been made. But he believed it, and he did it. The security of his people was always Arik’s unwavering mission, a non-breakable commitment to the future of Jews, whether 30 years or 300 years from now.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Vice President Joe Biden speaking during Ariel Sharon’s memorial. Thousands of Israelis came to pay their respects as his coffin lay in state outside the parliament building in Jerusalem. Ministers held a minute’s silence at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting to remember their former leader. This is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: [translated] In all of his latest roles as minister of defense, as minister of housing, minister of infrastructures, minister of foreign affairs, Arik has contributed to the state of Israel and, as much as he could, to the security of Israel, and that’s what he did as Israel’s prime minister. I believe he represents a generation of Jewish leaders who rose from our people with the resumption of our independence. He was tied to the land. He knew the need to protect the land, and he understood that, above all that, our independence is our ability to protect ourselves by ourselves. I believe he will be remembered as one of the prominent leaders and one of the bravest commanders in the heart of Israel forever.

AMY GOODMAN: Ariel Sharon has been one of the most dominant political figures in Israel’s history, involved in each of Israel’s major wars dating back to its founding in 1948. As prime minister, he oversaw Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip. The Gaza withdrawal caused a serious rift in Sharon’s Likud Party, which led to his departure. He formed a new party, Kadima, which maintained the Gaza disengagement while expanding Israeli control over the major settlement blocks in the occupied West Bank.

Among Palestinians, Sharon was one of the most reviled political figures in the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict. He’s seen as father of the settlement movement, an architect of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which killed a reported 20,000 Palestinians and Lebanese. An Israeli commission of inquiry found Sharon had indirect responsibility for the massacre of over a thousand Palestinian refugees at the Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon in 1982.

To talk about Ariel Sharon’s life and legacy, we’re joined now by three guests. In New York, we’re joined by Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, author of a number of books, including Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East and, just reissued, Under Siege:PLO Decisionmaking During the 1982 War.

Joining us from his home in Massachusetts by phone, Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author, Institute Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he’s taught for more than 50 years. His 1983 book, The Fateful Triangle, is known as one of the definitive works on the Israel-Palestine conflict and the 1982 invasion of Lebanon.

And we are also joined from Oxford by Avi Shlaim, an Emeritus Professor of International Studies at Oxford University, the author of Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations. He served in the Israeli army in the mid-’60s and is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading scholars on the Israeli-Arab conflict.

We welcome you all to Democracy Now! Let’s go first to the Israeli historian, Avi Shlaim. Your response to the death of Ariel Sharon, what you feel he should be remembered for?

AVI SHLAIM: Ariel Sharon is one of the most iconic and controversial figures in Israel’s history. He had deep—he was a deeply flawed character, renowned for his brutality, mendacity and corruption. Despite these character flaws, he is a major figure in shaping Israel’s modern history.

He was one of the five most influential figures who left a deep mark on modern Israel. The first was David Ben-Gurion, the founder of the state, who in 1949 concluded the armistice agreements with the neighboring Arab states, the only internationally recognized borders that Israel has ever had. Second was Levi Eshkol, who, in the aftermath of the June 1967 War, presided over the transformation of Israel from a plucky little democracy into a brutal colonial power. The third was the Likud leader, Menachem Begin, who signed the first peace treaty with an Arab country. He signed the peace treaty with Egypt in 1979. The fourth was Yitzhak Rabin, the only Israeli prime minister who went forward on the political front towards the Palestinians, and he did this by signing the Oslo Accord in 1939 and clinching the historic compromise between the two nations with the iconic handshake with Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn.

And finally, there is Ariel Sharon, who always rejected the Oslo peace process, who as prime minister tried to sweep away the remnants of Oslo and forge a new strategy of unilateralism, of giving up on the Palestinians and redrawing unilaterally the borders of greater Israel. So, his legacy can be summed up in one word—unilateralism—acting in defiance of U.N. resolutions, international law and international public opinion. The real question is: How was Ariel Sharon, and how is Israel today under his successors, able to defy the entire international community? And the answer to that is that Israel could not have done it on its own, but it has a little friend, and the friend is the United States of America. But that is a different story.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then get response from Professor Rashid Khalidi and Professor Noam Chomsky, as well as continue our discussion with Israeli historian Avi Shlaim. This is Democracy Now! We’re talking about the death of Ariel Sharon. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking about the death of the former prime minister, Ariel Sharon, who died Saturday after eight years in a coma. He was 85 years old. We are joined by Professor Noam Chomsky in Massachusetts, by Avi Shlaim, the Israeli historian at Oxford University in Britain, and we’re joined here in New York by Rashid Khalidi. Among his books are Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East. He’s the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University. You’re also Palestinian. Your response to the death of Ariel Sharon?

RASHID KHALIDI: Well, for me, the most important emotion is a sense of, finally, the man who carried out a war in which 20,000 people were killed, the Lebanon War of 1982, who besieged Beirut, who destroyed building after building, killing scores of civilians in a search to destroy the PLO leadership, has finally left the world. I was in Beirut that summer of 1982. And I—to me, it’s horrific to watch the hagiographies that are being produced by people like Vice President Biden, byThe New York Times, by much of the media, about a man who really should have ended his days at The Hague before the International Criminal Court. He was a man who, from the very beginning of his career, started out killing people. As the commander of Unit 101, he was the man who ordered the Qibya massacre.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain. What is Unit 101?

RASHID KHALIDI: Unit 101 was a military unit of the Israeli army formed at the orders of the Israeli leadership of the time to carry out savage reprisal raids. But we’re talking about dozens of victims. In retaliation for, in this case, two or three people being killed, 69 people had their homes blown up over their heads.

AMY GOODMAN: When was this?

RASHID KHALIDI: This was 1953 in a small village in the—what is today the West Bank. This was the first condemnation of Israel by a Security Council resolution. This was something that the United States at the time was willing to say was a horrible, horrible crime. And this is a man who, since then, really, has only acted on the basis of a belief that force is the only thing the Arabs understand. The idea that he is now considered by some to be a peacemaker is grotesque, frankly.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam Chomsky, you wrote The Fateful Triangle in response to what happened in Lebanon. It changed the discourse for many in this country. First, explain your reaction to the death of Ariel Sharon and what we should understand about him.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, you know, there is a convention that you’re not supposed to speak ill of the recently dead, which unfortunately imposes a kind of vow of silence because there’s nothing else to say—there’s nothing good to say. What both Rashid and Avi Shlaim have said is exactly accurate. He was a brutal killer. He had one fixed idea in mind, which drove him all his life: a greater Israel, as powerful as possible, as few Palestinians as possible—they should somehow disappear—and an Israel which could be powerful enough to dominate the region. The Lebanon War then, which was his worst crime, also had a goal of imposing a client state in Lebanon, a Maronite client state. And these were the driving forces of his life.

The idea that the Gaza evacuation was a controversial step for peace is almost farcical. By 2005, Gaza had been devastated, and he played a large role in that. The Israeli hawks could understand easily that it made no sense to keep a few thousand Israeli settlers in Gaza using a very large percentage of its land and scarce water with a huge IDF, Israeli army, contingent to protect them. What made more sense was to take them out and place them in the West Bank or the Golan Heights—illegal. It could have been done very simply. They could have—the Israeli army could have announced that on August 1st they’re leaving Gaza, in which case the settlers would have piled into the trucks that were provided to them, which would take them from their subsidized homes in Gaza to illegal subsidized homes in other territories that Israel intended to keep, and that would have been the end of it. But instead, a—what Israeli sociologists call, Baruch Kimmerling called an “absurd theater” was constructed to try to demonstrate to the world that there cannot be any further evacuations.

The farce was a successful public relations effort. Joseph Biden’s comments illustrate that. It was particularly farcical when you recognize that it was a virtual replay of what happened in 1982 when Israel was compelled to withdraw from the Egyptian Sinai and carried out an operation that the Israeli press ridiculed as Operation National Trauma 1982: We have to show the world how much we’re suffering by carrying out an action that will benefit our power and our security. And that was the peacemaking effort.

But his career is one of unremitting brutality, dedication to the fixed idea of his life. He doubtless showed courage and commitment to pursuing this ideal, which is an ugly and horrific one.

–Democracy Now!, 13 January, 2014

 

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/1/13/noam_chomsky_on_the_legacy_of

 

 See Also from Democracy Now:

Noam Chomsky: Sabra & Shatila Massacre That Forced Sharon’s Ouster Recalls Worst of Jewish Pogromshttp://www.democracynow.org/2014/1/13/noam_chomsky_sabra_shatila_massacre_that

Posted in Analysis, Opinion/Editorial | Leave a Comment »

Samuel Dowell: Take Israel to the ICC, Abbas, or GET OUT of the WAY

Posted by uscsjp on January 8, 2014

It is time for Palestine to Sign the Rome Statute and take Israel to the International Criminal Court.  If it is necessary to be a member state at the U.N. in order to sign the Rome Statute, the UNGA will approve that.  These bogus “Peace Talks” are only used by Israel for propaganda purposes and used to further the occupation. The people must demand that the “Peace Talks” end.  Abbas needs to stop standing in the way and allow Palestine to proceed:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/palestinianauthority/10539025/Palestinian-Authority-threatens-Israel-with-The-Hague-over-settlement-building.html

 

The Palestinian Authority MUST be informed that if they do not take Israel to the International Criminal Court that they will be removed.
Abbas does not speak for Palestine. He cannot sign or agree to any “agreement” for the Palestinians. If he agrees to a U.S. Framework Agreement that gives away Palestinian rights, he is a Traitor.

In May 2012, Abbas told a pro-Israel J-Street delegation that he was afraid that one of the prisoners on a hunger strike might die.

He said, “I am afraid, God forbid, that the security system here will collapse.”

He added: “I told the Israelis: ‘Please, please, please. They have some demands. If you do not respond to them and somebody today or tomorrow dies, it will be very, very disastrous for us.”

“If they help me to get weapons, I’m helping them because I’m promoting security,” Mr. Abbas said of the Israelis. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/world/middleeast/palestinians-and-israelis-in-talks-to-end-hunger-strike.html?_r=0

Mr. Abbas needs to know that if he signs any deal giving Palestinian rights away, his people will eventually put him in prison.
The world must put an end to the Criminal Zionist Occupation. Zionist-controlled Washington’s influence is over.

Posted in Analysis, Opinion/Editorial | Leave a Comment »

Israel’s New Annexation Plans

Posted by uscsjp on November 4, 2013

Democracy Now!: Israel Prepares New Annexation Plans Ahead of Kerry Visit

“Israel is preparing a new round of annexation projects in the occupied West Bank. On Sunday, the Israeli government issued tenders to build more than 1,800 homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It is also reportedly planning to build a new separation wall along its border with Jordan. The moves come ahead of a visit by Secretary of State John Kerry to encourage U.S.-brokered peace talks.”

--Democracy Now!, November 4th, 2013

http://www.democracynow.org/2013/11/4/headlines#1148

See Also: Israel and the dangers of ethnic nationalism

An interview with Jonathan Cook, by Joseph Cotto

Cotto: What sort of general impact would you say Zionism has had on the Middle East?

Cook: Zionism was a reaction to the extreme ethnic nationalisms that dominated – and nearly destroyed – Europe last century. It is therefore hardly surprising that it mirrors their faults. In exporting to the Middle East this kind of nationalism, Zionism was always bound to play a negative role in the region.

Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism, developing the concept of a Jewish state in response to the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe in the late nineteenth century. One notorious incident that appears to have shaped his views was France’s Dreyfus affair, when a very assimilated Jewish army officer was unjustly accused of treason and then his innocence covered up by French elites.

The lesson drawn by Herzl was that assimilation was futile. To survive, Jews needed to hold firmly on to their ethnic identity and create an exclusivist state based on ethnic principles.

There is a huge historical irony to this, because Europe’s ethnic nationalisms would soon end up tearing apart much of the world, culminating in the expansionary German war machine, the Second World War and the Nazi death camps. International institutions such as the United Nations and international humanitarian law were developed precisely to stop the repeat of such a cataclysmic event.

Once in the Middle East, Zionism shifted the locus of its struggle, from finding a solution to European anti-semitism to building an exclusive Jewish homeland on someone else’s land, that of the Palestinians. If one wants to understand the impact of Zionism in the Middle East, then one needs to see how destabilising such a European ideological implant was.

The idea of ethnic-religious supremacism, which history suggests is latent in many ethnic nationalisms, quickly came to the fore in Zionism. Today, the dominant features of Zionist ideology in Israel are:

  • a commitment to segregation at all levels – made concrete in the separation wall across the West Bank;
  • a belief in ethnic exclusivism – Palestinian citizens inside Israel are even denied an Israeli nationality;
  • a kind of national paranoia – walls are built to protect every border;
  • an aversion, paradoxically given the above, to defining its borders – and with it a craving for expansion and greater “living room”.

All of this was predictable if one looked at the trajectory of ethnic nationalisms in Europe. Instead, we in the West see all this as a reaction to Islamism. The reality is we have everything back to front: Zionism, an aggressive ethnic nationalism, fed reactionary forces in the region like political Islam.

Cotto: If Israel adopted its pre-1967 borders, would this, in your opinion, contribute to the peace process?

Cook: Of course, it would. If nothing else, it would show for the first time two things: one, that Israel is prepared to exhibit good faith towards the Palestinians and respect international law; and two, that it has finally decided to define and fix its borders. Those are also two good reasons why I don’t think we will see Israel adopt such a position.

There is a further, implicit question underlying this one. Can a Palestinian state on 22 per cent of historic Palestine, separated into two prison-cantons with limited access to the sea, be a viable state?

No, I don’t think it can – at least not without remaining economically dependent on Israel and militarily vulnerable to it too. That, we should remember, also appears to have been the view of the international community when it tried to solve this problem more than 60 years ago. The United Nations Partition Plan of 1947 gave the Jewish minority 55 per cent of historic Palestine to create a Jewish state, while the Palestinians, the majority of the population, received 45 per cent for an Arab state.

One doesn’t have to believe the partition plan was fair – as most Palestinians do not – to understand that even the Western-centric UN of that time did not imagine that a viable state could be created on 22 per cent of Palestine, or half of the “Arab state” it envisioned.

That is why I have long maintained that ultimately a solution to the conflict will only be found when the international community helps the two sides to find common ground and shared interests and to create joint institutions. That might be vaguely termed the one-state solution, but in practice it could take many forms.

Cotto: It is often noted that Palestinians live in far more impoverished socioeconomic conditions than Israelis do. From your standpoint, can this be attributed to Israeli aggression?

Cook: In essence, it is difficult to imagine it could be attributed to much else, unless one makes the racist assumption that Palestinians or Arabs are naturally lazy or incompetent.

In terms of Israel’s greater economic success, there are several factors to take into account. It receives massive subsidies from the US taxpayer – billions of dollars in military aid and other benefits. It has developed very lucrative hi-tech and homeland security industries, often using the occupied territories as laboratories for it to test and showcase its weapons and surveillance systems. It also benefits from the financial connections it enjoys with worldwide Jewry. Just think of the property market in Israel, which is artificially boosted by wealthy US and European Jews who inject money into the economy by buying an Israeli condo.

But equally importantly – as a just-published report from the World Bank concludes – it has prospered by plundering and exploiting Palestinian resources. The World Bank argues that Israel’s de facto annexation of 62 per cent of the West Bank, known as Area C in the Oslo Accords, has stripped any nascent Palestinian state of almost all its resources: land for development, water for agriculture, quarries for stone, the Dead Sea for minerals and tourism, etc. Instead these resources are being stolen by more than 200 settlements Israel has been sowing over the West Bank.

Israel also exploits a captive, and therefore cheap, Palestinian labour force. That both benefits the Israeli economy and crushes the Palestinian economy.

Cotto: Some say that Israel’s settlement policies directly encourage violence from Palestinian militants. Do you believe this to be the case?

Cook: Yes, of course. If you came armed with a gun to my house and took it from me, and then forced me and my family to live in the shed at the end of the garden, you could hardly be surprised if I started making trouble for you. If I called the police and they said they couldn’t help, you could hardly be surprised if I eventually decided to get a gun myself to threaten you back. If, when you saw I had a gun too, you then built a wall around the shed to imprison me, you could hardly be surprised if I used the tools I had to make primitive grenades and started lobbing them towards the house. None of this would prove how unreasonable I was, or how inherently violent.

Cotto: Many claim that, if Israel were to shed its Jewish ethnocentrism, Muslims and others nearby would adopt a more favorable opinion of it. Do you agree with this idea?

Cook: Ethnocentrism for Israel means that the protection of its Jewishness is synonymous with the protection of its national security. That entails all sorts of things that would be considered very problematic if they were better understood.

Israel needed to ethnically cleanse Palestinians in 1948 to create a Jewish state. It needs separate citizenship and nationality laws, which distinguish between Jews and non-Jews, to sustain a Jewish state. It needs its own version of the “endless war on terror” – an aggressive policy of oppression and divide and rule faced by Palestinians under its rule – to prevent any future internal challenge to the legitimacy of its Jewishness. It needs to keep Palestinian refugees festering in camps in neighbouring Arab states to stop a reversal of its Jewishness. And it has had to become an armed and fortified garrison state, largely paid for by the US, to intimidate and bully its neighbours in case they dare to threaten its Jewishness.

Ending that ethnocentrism would therefore alter relations with its neighbours dramatically.

It was possible to end similar historic enmities in Northern Ireland and in South Africa. There is no reason to believe the same cannot happen in the Middle East.

Cotto: If Israel were to cease being an ethnocentrically Jewish state, do you think it would be able to survive?

Cook: Yes. Israel’s actions have produced an ocean of anger towards it in the region – and a great deal of resentment towards the US too. And that would not evaporate overnight. At a minimum there would be lingering distrust, and for good reason. But for Israel to stop being an ethnocratic state, it would require a serious international solution to the conflict. The international community would have to put into place mechanisms and institutions to resolve historic grievances and build trust, as it did in South Africa. Over time, the wounds would heal.

Cotto: In the event that Israel were to end its ethnocentrically Jewish policies, do you believe that Islamist militants would hold less of a grudge against the Western world?

Cook: The question looks at the problem in the wrong way in at least two respects. First, Israel’s ethnocentrism – its exclusivity and its aggressiveness, for example – is one of the reasons it is useful to Western, meaning US, imperialism. Reforming Israel would indicate a change in Western priorities in the region, but that does not necessarily mean the West would stop interfering negatively in the region. Reforming Israel is a necessary but not a sufficient cause for a change in attitudes that dominate in the region.

Second, many Islamists, certainly of the fanatical variety, are not suddenly going to have a Damascene conversion about the West because Israel is reformed. But that should not be the goal. Good intentions towards the region will be repaid in a change in attitude among the wider society – and that is what is really important. When George Bush and his ilk talk about “draining the swamps”, they are speaking only in military terms. But actually what we should be doing is draining the ideological swamp in which Islamic extremism flourishes. If the Islamists have no real support, if they do not address real issues faced by Arab societies, then they will wither away.

Cotto: What do you think the future of Israel holds insofar as Middle Eastern geopolitics are concerned?

Cook: That is crystal ball stuff. There are too many variables. What can be said with some certainty is that we are in a time of transition: at the moment, chiefly economic for the West and chiefly political for the Middle East. That means the global power systems we have known for decades are starting to break down. Where that will ultimately lead is very difficult to decipher.

Joseph Cotto writes for the Washington Times.

CounterPunch, November 4th, 2013
http://www.jonathan-cook.net/2013-11-04/israel-and-the-dangers-of-ethnic-nationalism/

Posted in Analysis, News, Opinion/Editorial | Leave a Comment »

 
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