USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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

Lawrence Weschler: “Israel Has Been Bitten by a Bat”

Posted by uscsjp on July 21, 2014

The news out of Israel and Palestine: relentless, remorseless, repetitively compulsive, rabid.

And I am put in mind of a passage from Norman Mailer, in 1972, in which he attempted to plumb the psychopathology behind America’s relentless bombing of Cambodia and Laos and Vietnam during the Nixon years:

… bombing [which] had become an activity as rational as the act of a man who walks across his own home town to defecate each night on the lawn of a stranger—it is the same stranger each night—such a man would not last long even if he had the most powerful body in town. “Stop,” he would scream as they dragged him away. “I need to shit on that lawn. It’s the only way to keep my body in shape, you fools. I’ve been bitten by a bat!

A species of human rabies, as Mailer had explained earlier in the same book (“St. George and the Godfather,” his account of the McGovern campaign), “and the word was just, for rabies was the disease of every virulence which was excessive to the need for self-protection.”

I know, I know, and I am bone tired of being told it, when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is plenty of blame to go around, but by this point after coming on almost 50 years of Israeli stemwinding and procrastinatory obfuscation, I’d put the proportionate distribution of blame at about the same level as the mortality figures—which is, where are we today (what with Wednesday morning’s four children killed while out playing on a Gaza beach)? What, 280 to 2?

For the single overriding fact defining the Israeli-Palestinian impasse at this point is that if the Palestinians are quiescent and not engaged in any overt rebellion, the Israelis (and here I am speaking of the vast majority of the population who somehow go along with the antics of their leaders, year after year) manage to tell themselves that things are fine and there’s no urgent need to address the situation; and if, as a result, the endlessly put-upon Palestinians do finally rise up in any sort of armed resistance (rocks to rockets), the same Israelis exasperate, “How are we supposed to negotiate with monsters like this?” A wonderfully convenient formula, since it allows the Israelis to go blithely on, systematically stealing Palestinian land in the West Bank, and continuing to confine 1.8 million Gazans within what might well be described as a concentration camp.

Note, incidentally, I say “concentration camp” and not “death camp.” I am not comparing Gaza to Auschwitz-Birkenau, but one cannot help but liken the conditions today in Gaza to the sorts of conditions once faced by Japanese-Americans during World War II, or the Boers in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War, or the black South Africans years later in such besieged townships as Soweto, or for that matter Jews and gays and gypsies at Dachau and Theresienstadt in the years before the Nazis themselves settled on their Final Solution.

And it is quite simply massively self-serving delusion that Israelis (and their enablers and abettors here in America, among whom incidentally I count a steadily declining number of American Jews) refuse to recognize that fact. The backbone of Zionist AIPAC-like electoral strength in the U.S. today is rooted among Protestant evangelicals and other instrumentalist neocons, and I suspect that Israel will one day come to rue that fact.

I’m tired, for example, of hearing about how vital and cosmopolitan and democratic are the streets and cafes and nightclubs of Tel Aviv. For the fact is that one simply can’t sustain such cosmopolitan vitality 40 miles from a prison camp containing close to 2 million people: It’s a contradiction in terms. One that in the end (and we may fast be coming to the end of this game) will have completely twisted and disfigured the lives of those who go on trying to sustain it.

I know the Israelis need to protect themselves in a dangerous neighborhood, blah, blah, blah, but (leaving aside the fact that you don’t get to call it “self-defense” when you are occupying or besieging someone else’s land), can there be any doubt that in the end the Israelis’ own security will depend on how they treat their Palestinian brothers?

And I’m tired, finally, of hearing people marveling at the insane sectarian rifts between Shiites and Sunnis, or Serbs and Bosnians, or Tutsis and Hutus, as if they themselves could never fall into such primordial, atavistic blood feuds. For what else is the Palestinian/Israeli divide at this point, these two Semitic Peoples of the Book, than just one more inchoate, incomprehensible, sectarian vendetta?

In short: rabies.


–Lawrence Weschler, Truthdig, July 18th, 2014

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Nafeez Ahmed: “IDF’s Gaza assault is to control Palestinian gas, avert Israeli energy crisis”

Posted by uscsjp on July 15, 2014

Yesterday, Israeli defence minister and former Israeli Defence Force (IDF) chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon announced that Operation Protective Edge marks the beginning of a protracted assault on Hamas. The operation “won’t end in just a few days,” he said, adding that “we are preparing to expand the operation by all means standing at our disposal so as to continue striking Hamas.”

This morning, he said:

“We continue with strikes that draw a very heavy price from Hamas. We are destroying weapons, terror infrastructures, command and control systems, Hamas institutions, regime buildings, the houses of terrorists, and killing terrorists of various ranks of command… The campaign against Hamas will expand in the coming days, and the price the organization will pay will be very heavy.”

But in 2007, a year before Operation Cast Lead, Ya’alon’s concernsfocused on the 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas discovered in 2000 off the Gaza coast, valued at $4 billion. Ya’alon dismissed the notion that “Gaza gas can be a key driver of an economically more viable Palestinian state” as “misguided.” The problem, he said, is that:

“Proceeds of a Palestinian gas sale to Israel would likely not trickle down to help an impoverished Palestinian public. Rather, based on Israel’s past experience, the proceeds will likely serve to fund further terror attacks against Israel…

A gas transaction with the Palestinian Authority [PA] will, by definition, involve Hamas. Hamas will either benefit from the royalties or it will sabotage the project and launch attacks against Fatah, the gas installations, Israel – or all three… It is clear that without an overall military operation to uproot Hamas control of Gaza, no drilling work can take place without the consent of the radical Islamic movement.”

Operation Cast Lead did not succeed in uprooting Hamas, but the conflict did take the lives of 1,387 Palestinians (773 of whom were civilians) and 9 Israelis (3 of whom were civilians).

Since the discovery of oil and gas in the Occupied Territories, resource competition has increasingly been at the heart of the conflict, motivated largely by Israel’s increasing domestic energy woes.

Mark Turner, founder of the Research Journalism Initiative, reported that the siege of Gaza and ensuing military pressure was designed to “eliminate” Hamas as “a viable political entity in Gaza” to generate a “political climate” conducive to a gas deal. This involved rehabilitating the defeated Fatah as the dominant political player in the West Bank, and “leveraging political tensions between the two parties, arming forces loyal to Abbas and the selective resumption of financial aid.”

Ya’alon’s comments in 2007 illustrate that the Israeli cabinet is not just concerned about Hamas – but concerned that if Palestinians develop their own gas resources, the resulting economic transformation could in turn fundamentally increase Palestinian clout.

Meanwhile, Israel has made successive major discoveries in recent years – such as the Leviathan field estimated to hold 18 trillion cubic feet of natural gas – which could transform the country from energy importer into aspiring energy exporter with ambitions to supply Europe, Jordan and Egypt. A potential obstacle is that much of the 122 trillion cubic feet of gas and 1.6 billion barrels of oil in the Levant Basin Province lies in territorial waters where borders are hotly disputed between Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Cyprus.

Amidst this regional jockeying for gas, though, Israel faces its own little-understood energy challenges. It could, for instance, take until 2020 for much of these domestic resources to be properly mobilised.

But this is the tip of the iceberg. A 2012 letter by two Israeli government chief scientists – which the Israeli government chose not to disclose – warned the government that Israel still had insufficient gas resources to sustain exports despite all the stupendous discoveries. The letter, according to Ha’aretz, stated that Israel’s domestic resources were 50% less than needed to support meaningful exports, and could be depleted in decades:

“We believe Israel should increase its [domestic] use of natural gas by 2020 and should not export gas. The Natural Gas Authority’s estimates are lacking. There’s a gap of 100 to 150 billion cubic meters between the demand projections that were presented to the committee and the most recent projections. The gas reserves are likely to last even less than 40 years!”

As Dr Gary Luft – an advisor to the US Energy Security Council – wrote in the Journal of Energy Security, “with the depletion of Israel’s domestic gas supplies accelerating, and without an imminent rise in Egyptian gas imports, Israel could face a power crisis in the next few years… If Israel is to continue to pursue its natural gas plans it must diversify its supply sources.”

Israel’s new domestic discoveries do not, as yet, offer an immediate solution as electricity prices reach record levels, heightening the imperative to diversify supply. This appears to be behind Prime Minister Netanyahu’s announcement in February 2011 that it was now time to seal the Gaza gas deal. But even after a new round of negotiations was kick-started between the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority and Israel in September 2012, Hamas was excluded from these talks, and thus rejected the legitimacy of any deal.

Earlier this year, Hamas condemned a PA deal to purchase $1.2 billion worth of gas from Israel Leviathan field over a 20 year period once the field starts producing. Simultaneously, the PA has held several meetings with the British Gas Group to develop the Gaza gas field, albeit with a view to exclude Hamas – and thus Gazans – from access to the proceeds. That plan had been the brainchild of Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair.

But the PA was also courting Russia’s Gazprom to develop the Gaza marine gas field, and talks have been going on between Russia, Israel and Cyprus, though so far it is unclear what the outcome of these have been. Also missing was any clarification on how the PA would exert control over Gaza, which is governed by Hamas.

According to Anais Antreasyan in the University of California’s Journal of Palestine Studies, the most respected English language journal devoted to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel’s stranglehold over Gaza has been designed to make “Palestinian access to the Marine-1 and Marine-2 gas wells impossible.” Israel’s long-term goal “besides preventing the Palestinians from exploiting their own resources, is to integrate the gas fields off Gaza into the adjacent Israeli offshore installations.” This is part of a wider strategy of:

“…. separating the Palestinians from their land and natural resources in order to exploit them, and, as a consequence, blocking Palestinian economic development. Despite all formal agreements to the contrary, Israel continues to manage all the natural resources nominally under the jurisdiction of the PA, from land and water to maritime and hydrocarbon resources.”

For the Israeli government, Hamas continues to be the main obstacle to the finalisation of the gas deal. In the incumbent defence minister’swords: “Israel’s experience during the Oslo years indicates Palestinian gas profits would likely end up funding terrorism against Israel. The threat is not limited to Hamas… It is impossible to prevent at least some of the gas proceeds from reaching Palestinian terror groups.”

The only option, therefore, is yet another “military operation to uproot Hamas.”

Unfortunately, for the IDF uprooting Hamas means destroying the group’s perceived civilian support base – which is why Palestinian civilian casualties massively outweigh that of Israelis. Both are obviously reprehensible, but Israel’s capacity to inflict destruction is simply far greater.

In the wake of Operation Cast Lead, the Jerusalem-based Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (Pcati) found that the IDF had adopted a more aggressive combat doctrine based on two principles – “zero casualties” for IDF soldiers at the cost of deploying increasingly indiscriminate firepower in densely populated areas, and the “dahiya doctrine” promoting targeting of civilian infrastructure to create widespread suffering amongst the population with a view to foment opposition to Israel’s opponents.

This was confirmed in practice by the UN fact-finding mission in Gaza which concluded that the IDF had pursued a “deliberate policy of disproportionate force,” aimed at the “supporting infrastructure” of the enemy – “this appears to have meant the civilian population,” said the UN report.

The Israel-Palestine conflict is clearly not all about resources. But in an age of expensive energy, competition to dominate regional fossil fuelsare increasingly influencing the critical decisions that can inflame war.

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is an international security journalist and academic. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, and the forthcoming science fiction thriller, ZERO POINT. ZERO POINT is set in a near future following a Fourth Iraq War. Follow Ahmed on Facebook and Twitter.


–Nafeez Ahmed, Earth Insight, hosted by The Guardian, July 9th, 2014

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ANSWER Community Forum on Palestine and ME: Fri, July 18th, 7pm

Posted by uscsjp on July 10, 2014

ANSWER Los Angeles

Hundreds in LA Rally for Palestine!
Special Community Forum on Understanding and
Building Resistance to U.S. Aims in the Middle East 

Over 300 people rally outside the Israeli Consulate in LA on July 8, 2014

Community Forum on the War Crisis in the Middle East
135 E. 3rd St., Downtown LA 90013
On 3rd St between Main & Los Angeles - 
Just blocks from Pershing Square Red Line and Little Tokyo Gold Line 

On Tuesday, July 8, over 300 people rallied outside the Israeli Consulate against the collective punishment of the Palestinian people, and the latest massacre currently being inflicted on the people of Gaza. It was the largest showing of solidarity with Palestine to happen in LA in several years.

As Israel continues its murderous assault on civilians in Gaza, we will remain prepared for more actions soon.

But in addition to being in the streets, ANSWER will be holding a special community forum on understanding the aims of the U.S. government and Israel in Palestine and the entire region–and how to build successful resistance to those aims.

The event will feature Richard Becker, author of Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire, as well as several others with eyewitness accounts of U.S./Israeli policy in Palestine, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. 

Hear from activists who have recently traveled to these regions for an eyewitness account and analysis of what’s really going on, and be part of the discussion on how we can organize against imperialism and Zionism.

Keynote speaker:Richard Becker – Richard is well-known writer and political commentator on Middle East affairs. He is author of Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire, appears frequently on Press TV and Russia Today, and is the West Coast coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition. Becker recently returned from a major conference in Lebanon and toured Palestinian refugee camps. He will give a political analysis on the crisis in the Middle East.
Also featuring:Enas Khaleq—Enas is a Palestinian refugee, recent graduate of CSU-Long Beach and member of the ANSWER Coalition. She spent the past month in Jerusalem and areas of the West Bank, and will give an eyewitness account of the severe repression and collective punishment by the Israeli Defense Forces in response to the murder of three Israeli teens.
Johnny Achi—Johnny is a Syrian American and coordinator of Arab Americans for Syria, which has organized significant actions in Los Angeles against the U.S.-funded war in Syria. He recently led a delegation to Damascus, Syria for the elections. He will give an eyewitness account of the elections in Syria and what is happening in the years-long war. 
Mike Prysner—Mike is a former corporal in the U.S. Army and Iraq war veteran, who also traveled to Gaza City in 2009, in the wake of ‘Operation: Cast Lead.’ He is an organizer with the ANSWER Coalition and member of the Board of Directors of Veterans For Peace. He will share an eyewitness account of how the U.S. occupation created and exploited the sectarian divides that now plague Iraqi society. 
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
135 E. 3rd St.
Downtown Los Angeles, CA 90013
Get involved in ANSWER’s work today!

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Updates on Gaza Siege from Democracy Now!

Posted by uscsjp on July 10, 2014

Palestinian Toll from Gaza Attack Tops 80, Including 18 Children

The death toll from Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip has more than doubled in 24 hours as the besieged territory comes under relentless bombing. At least 44 Gaza residents have been killed in the past day, bringing the total this week to around 80. The Palestinian news agency Maan reports the dead include 18 children and 10 women. The Palestinian Ministry of Health says more than 600 people have been wounded. In the deadliest single attack since the offensive began, at least seven Palestinian civilians, including five children, were killed when Israeli warplanes bombed several homes in a densely populated area where the victims were sleeping. Bodies were pulled from the rubble of at least three homes and neighboring buildings.


Gaza Hospitals Overrun with Victims; Bombing Exceeds 2012 Israeli Assault

Gaza Militants Continue Rocket Attacks on Israel

Israel Rejects Hamas Ceasefire Terms; Minister Floats “Temporary” Gaza Takeover

Israelis Stage Peace Rally in Tel Aviv

Hilleli, Women of Peace: “We believe that this cycle of violence must be ended, and it’s definitely not going to be ended by more violence and by more bombs on Gaza, and it’s not going to help the people in the south and neither the people in Tel Aviv that have been subject to missiles in the past few days.”



PA Pleads for U.S. Aid to Stop “War Against Palestinian People”

Maen Rashid Areikat, chief PLO envoy to Israel: “I would like to say to President Obama that there is no — you cannot equate between an occupied people and an occupier. And the rising death toll on the Palestinian side tells clearly who is the party that is suffering the most from this violence. … I think the United States should rein in Israel. They are the only country that can rein in Israel, because they are the country that provides the political, military, economic and financial support for Israel, and without that support, Israel cannot escape being accountable for their actions.”



Obama Admin Continues Backing for Israeli Airstrikes

Jen Psaki: “As you know, we’re encouraging all sides to de-escalate the situation on the ground. But again, Israel has every right to defend themselves and take steps to defend themselves. And as we know, the aggression is currently coming from Hamas in Gaza.”

During the news conference, Psaki repeatedly refused to answer a question on “whether Palestinians have the right to defend themselves.” The Obama administration appears to have decided on a position of backing the Israeli strikes, but cautioning against a ground invasion. In a phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly said the United States hopes to see Israel stop the rocket fire without sending troops into Gaza.


Thousands in New York City Protest Israeli Attack on Gaza

Palestinian solidarity rallies have been held around the world in recent days. In New York City, thousands of people protested in front of the Israeli Mission to the United Nations before marching through the streets.

Protester: “We hope to change public opinion so that they understand that Palestinians are not terrorists, that they are defending themselves. It’s an unfair situation that they’re going through. They’re living under occupation. They have no human rights. They have no rights to anything that we enjoy here as Americans.”


Muhammed Chaudhry: “At least we’ve got to take the first step, though, a ceasefire, no more violence, no more killing of the innocent, from both parties.”


–Democracy Now!, 10 July, 2014

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TUES., JULY 8: Protest Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians at the Israeli Consulate

Posted by uscsjp on July 3, 2014

Tuesday, July 8, 4-7PM
Stop Israel’s Collective Punishment of Palestinians! 
Israeli Consulate, 11766 Wilshire Blvd 

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For over three weeks, the Israeli government has been engaged in collective punishment of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza over the death of three Israeli teenagers.

No one has taken responsibility for what happened to the three Israeli teens. Yet the Netanyahu government is cynically using the tragedy for their own political purposes and as a pretext to advance their already-existing goals: increasing military attacks on the Palestinians, mass arresting of political opponents, removing Palestinians from their land and attempting to break-up the recent unity agreement among Palestinian organizations.

Over this time the Israeli Defense Forces have carried out countless raids and attacks, carried out mass arrests and torture of detainees, and carried out scores of bombings in Gaza—all forms of collective punishment. Israeli troops have been massing on the border of Gaza. At least nine Palestinians have been killed and hundreds injured.

Emboldened by the Israeli military offensives are “revenge” demonstrations and attacks carried out by Israeli settlers. At least two Palestinian children have been killed in these “revenge killings,” and many more children wounded.

The U.S. government has given the green light to the crimes of the Israeli government, and with billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars finances of Israeli war crimes—from bombing cities as a form of collective punishment, to indefinitely jailing over 200 Palestinian children in Israeli jails.

Stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and against Israeli aggression! Join us for a rally at the Israeli Consulate to say:

  • Stop collective punishment of the Palestinian people!
  • Free all children and political prisoners in Israeli jails!
  • End all U.S. aid to Israel!
  • End the occupation of Palestine!

Sponsored by: ANSWER Coalition; Al-Awda; Palestinian American Women’s Association (PAWA); Activists For Palestine; Palestinian American Congress (PAC) Sothern California; American Muslims for Palestine (AMP); Students for Justice in Palestine – UC Riverside; Jewish Voice for Peace; Jews for Palestinian Right of Return; Israel Divestment Campaign; March Forward!; Veterans For Peace; KmB Pro-People Youth; Alliance-Philippines; and more…

For more information or to endorse this action email or call 323-394-3611

Please make a donation to help make this event possible!

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US Campaign to End Occupation: Help Multiply Victories Like Presbyterian Divestment!

Posted by uscsjp on July 3, 2014

With ever more tragic events unfolding in Israel/Palestine, it has never been more urgent to work to end U.S. complicity in Israel’s collective punishment of the Palestinian people.

US Campaign staff, steering committee, and coalition members hard at work take a selfie just hours before the vote.

Less than two weeks ago, I sat side-by-side with US Campaign National Organizer Anna Baltzer as my church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), took decisive actions toward a just peace in Israel/Palestine: voting to divest from the Israeli occupation, directing a study to reconsider the Church’s official endorsement of only a two-state solution, and affirming the need for equal rights among all Palestinians and Israelis.

We know that these decisions alone will not bring an immediate end to the bloodshed. But we still celebrate these groundbreaking victories knowing that, joined with similar milestone actions nationwide and worldwide, they are part of a greater struggle that will someday bring the inevitable end to Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies.

Essential to the PC(USA)’s victories was a strong coalition of partners, including, especially, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. As a member of the advocacy team for PC(USA)’s Israel/Palestine Mission Network’s (IPMN) — a proud US Campaign member — I worked for months alongside the US Campaign’s tireless staff before, during, and after the General Assembly. I experienced first-hand the tremendous strategic and organizational support offered by the US Campaign to member groups, knowing that IPMN is only one of hundreds that benefit.

Will you help secure the US Campaign’s ongoing support for member groups and campaigns like ours by making a contribution today?

The New York Times captured our collective excitement when divestment passed.

The US Campaign worked to center Palestinian voices in the campaign with key resources and partnerships. They highlighted and built on intersectionality with legislation against drones and for divestment from fossil fuels and for-profit prisons. More than anything else, the US Campaign staff empowered and foregrounded the people and organizations they worked with, listening and showing deep respect for the needs and wishes of not just IPMN but also the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, the Michigan Coalition for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel, American Muslims for Palestine, the U.S. Palestinian Community Network, and many others who took part.

Without a doubt, the US Campaign’s coalition work was essential to the victories. But the manner in which the US Campaign worked throughout the campaign served to not only positively influence the outcome but also to enhance each of our organizations and the individuals within. On the ground, National Organizer Anna Baltzer’s unobtrusive, supportive style allowed us to strengthen our own strategy, messaging, and organizing. Personally, I know that the US Campaign brought strengths out in me that I did not know I had.

But this type of intensive support is only possible when people like you help make it happen. Will you give $20, $50, or more today to help sustain and multiply the work of the US Campaign?

The US Campaign did not just help secure victories for the PC(USA); it strengthened and expanded the larger movement to end the occupation and ensure freedom, justice, and equality for all.

With the ongoing, worsening atrocities in Palestine day after day, we desperately need the voices and actions of a strong coalition to work to end U.S. complicity in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.

It took us ten years to secure divestment. Please join me in taking a moment to give $10, $20, $50, or more to build the movement and ensure many future victories to come.

Anna BaltzerRobert Ross
Chair of Advocacy, Steering Committee,
Israel-Palestine Mission Network

P.S. Right now, the US Campaign is organizing grassroots, national support for us amidst the tremendous backlash we are facing. Will you add your voice too

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“B’Tselem strongly condemns the abduction and killing of the three Yeshiva students”

Posted by uscsjp on July 1, 2014

B’Tselem strongly condemns the abduction and killing of the three Yeshiva students, Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrah, and offers its condolences to the families. Deliberate targeting of civilians undermines all moral, legal and human principles. The deliberate killing of civilians is defined as a grave breach of international humanitarian law, and cannot be justified, regardless of the circumstances.

–B’Tselem, June 30th, 2014


See Also:

The Guardian: “Israeli jets pound Gaza as Netanyahu blames Hamas for teenagers’ deaths

Bodies of three abducted students found in a shallow grave near Hebron, but Hamas denies involvement in murders”

–The Guardian, July 1st, 2014

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Israeli Assaults on Palestinian Youth: Putting the Abduction of Israeli Teens in Context

Posted by uscsjp on June 18, 2014

International media ignore Israel’s abduction of Palestinian teens

In the first ten days of June, seventeen teenage boys were abducted in the occupied West Bank. The youngest was thirteen, the oldest seventeen.

Some were dragged at gunpoint from their homes and family in the middle of the night; others were seized from the streets in broad daylight.

All of the abductions were documented by the Palestinian Monitoring Group. None were reported by the international media. No Western politicians called for the release of the boys.

On 12 June, three more teenage boys went missing in the West Bank. Their disappearance sparked worldwide media coverage, cries of terrorism and demands for their release by the US Secretary of State and the UK Foreign Secretary.

Those three are Israeli. The seventeen others are Palestinian.

And, if the case of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, taken by Palestinian forces in Gaza in 2006 and released in 2011, is any indication, Western interest in the case of these three Israelis will not wane until they are found…

–The Electronic Intifada, June 17th, 2014



Israeli Forces Round Up 150 Palestinians, Kill 1 in Search for Teens

Israeli forces have killed a Palestinian and rounded up 150 others, including the speaker of the Palestinian Parliament, as part of a massive hunt for three Israeli teens who went missing in the West Bank last week. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused the Palestinian group Hamas of kidnapping the teenagers. Israeli forces have flooded residential areas, searching homes and effectively sealing off the city of Hebron. Earlier today an Israeli soldier shot and killed a 20-year-old Palestinian near Ramallah, accusing him of throwing rocks. At a rally in Gaza City this morning, protesters, including Hamas legislator Mushir al-Masri, condemned Israel’s actions and voiced support for Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli jails.

Mushir al-Masri: “The main reason behind the tension is the Israeli occupation, which did not respond to the demands of the hunger-striking prisoners who have been fasting for over 50 days. There are 5,000 prisoners facing slow death, who have spent long decades in the Zionist enemy’s jails. So the life of Zionists is not more sacred than the life of the over 5,000 prisoners in the enemy’s jails. We warn Israel against the consequences of any stupidities, including the violation of international law.”The search for the Israeli teens comes a month after Israeli forces killed two Palestinian teenagers in the West Bank. An autopsy on one of the teens has confirmed he was killed by live bullets. Human Rights Watch has called the killings an “apparent war crime.”

–Democracy Now, June 16th, 2014



Human Rights Watch: Killing of Children Apparent War Crime

(Jerusalem) – Video footage, photographs, witness statements, and medical records indicate that two 17-year-old boys whom Israeli forces shot and killed on May 15, 2014 posed no imminent threat to the forces at the time. The boys, who had been participating in a demonstration in the West Bank, were apparently shot with live ammunition, Human Rights Watch said.

Video footage clearly shows Israeli soldiers firing in the direction of the boys, Nadim Nawareh and Mohammed Salameh, and the boys falling to the ground. Medical records indicate that the two boys, as well as 15-year-old, Mohammed Azza, whom Israeli forces also shot and seriously wounded, suffered wounds to the chest caused by live ammunition. Nawareh and Salameh were shot right through the chest. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch they heard the sound of live ammunition being fired, quite distinct from the sound of rubber bullet fire, at the time the three boys were shot…

…Israeli forces have repeatedly used live ammunition against Palestinians during demonstrations, including recently in Beitunia, and shot Palestinians who posed no threat to them. On April 4, Israeli forces shot Mohammed Yassin, a volunteer cameraman with B’Tselem, with live ammunition while he was filming a protest in Beitunia. Video filmed by a second cameraman, which Human Rights Watch viewed, shows that Yassin was filming the demonstrations from the side of the street, was not participating, and posed no threat to Israeli forces. Yassin, who was wearing a fluorescent yellow vest, was shot in front of the same building and about 10 meters from where Nawareh and Salameh were killed. B’Tselem reported that Israeli forces shot five other people with 0.22 caliber bullets in Beitunia on April 4, and that the victims were taken to the Ramallah hospital.

Human Rights Watch documented fatal shootings by Israeli forces in the West Bank of two Palestinian boys who posed no threat to them, in January and December 2013 respectively. The military has not prosecuted anyone in either case. An autopsy recovered the bullet that killed Wajih al-Ramahi, 15, whom Israeli forces shot in the back from a distance of about 200 meters near the Jalazon refugee camp in December 2013. Al-Haq, a Palestinian rights group, said that the Palestinian authorities have not been able to transfer the bullet to Jordan for ballistic analysis because the Israeli military has not given the approval required to take it across the Israeli-controlled border crossing.



–Human Rights Watch, June 9th, 2014



 Israeli Forces Kill 6 in Occupied Territories

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BDS South Africa: “Israel’s War on the Youth of Palestine”

Posted by uscsjp on June 18, 2014

As we commemorate Youth Day and Youth Month in South Africa, we recall the countless young people who fought (and died) in our struggle for liberation. The young people who took to our streets, slung stones, sometimes even took up arms and protested against Apartheid South African. Our freedom was, indeed, not free. We are also painfully reminded of the hundreds of thousands of other children in Swaziland, Western Sahara and elsewhere who are deprived of a childhood. In particular we are reminded of the Palestinian youth and young children who are systematically and routinely targeted, detained and abused by the Israeli army and regime (including the over 200 Palestinian children, several under the age of 16, currently imprisoned by the State of Israel).
Click here to watch a recent ABC Television Networks (Australia) documentary by reporter John Lyons produced for Australia’s current affairs TV program, Four Corners. The documentary was produced following a joint investigation by Four Corners and an Australian newspaper into how the Israeli army routinely and systematically targets Palestinian boys and youth for arrest and detention. Click here for a short 5 minute version or click here for the longer and complete 45 minute version.
In 1948 (the same year that apartheid became official policy in South Africa) the Modern State of Israel (different but sometimes –deliberately– confused with the Biblical Land of Israel) was established in Palestine at the expense of the indigenous Palestinians. Since 1948, the Modern State of Israel has increased its occupation of Palestine by colonizing more and more Palestinian land – isolating the indigenous Palestinian population (Christians, Muslims and others) into small cantons or bantustans (click here for images of relevant maps).
Under Apartheid in South Africa some tried to justify Apartheid South Africa as a promise from God. However, the South African liberation struggle insisted that God cannot be reduced to a real estate agent and that God, in all situations, takes the side of the oppressed. Similarly today, some Israelis claim that the Modern State of Israel is a promise from God. Similar to some white South Africans at the time of apartheid, some Israelis today claim that they have a covenant with God who has decided to give them the land of Palestine regardless of its indigenous Palestinian inhabitants. Perhaps one of the only viable solutions for Palestine-Israel is for the indigenous Palestinians and the Israelis to share a common future. Similar to the shared common future that we South Africans (indigenous Africans, Whites and all others) now share in South Africa – a democratic country for all inhabitants.
In 2005, with Israel‘s occupation, colonization, discrimination, human rights abuses, violations of International Law and illegal Israelisettlement activity increasing, Palestinians (inspired by the successful boycott and isolation of Apartheid South Africa) called on the international community to support a non-violent campaign ofboycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until Israelcomplies with international law and respects human rights.
The BDS campaign is not a malicious, blunt or punitive campaign to punish Israelis but rather, it is a practical, non-violent, goal-orientated and strategic campaign to hold the Modern State of Israelaccountable to international law. The BDS campaign is also increasingly supported by (progressive) Israelis. The international isolation of Israel it is hoped will lead to the necessary conditions for a just peace to be negotiated – similar to what occurred in South Africa and brought about a democratic country for all our people.
Israel and its supporters have invested millions of rands and dollars into countering the growing BDS campaign. Earlier this year, for example, Israel‘s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a meeting with several Israeli cabinet ministers to discuss the growing boycott and isolation of Israel. The meeting, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reports, discussed (amongst other items) dedicating a budget of 100 million shekels (over 310 million rands or 28 million dollars) for the implementation (by Israel‘s Ministry of Strategic Affairs) of a large scale anti-BDS plan, which would include an aggressive legal and media campaign against the BDS movement. In their own acknowledgements, however, the Israeli government and lobby have several times admitted to being outplayed by the Palestinian solidarity and BDS movement (click here for a relevant anecdotal article).
We need your support. BDS South Africa (a registered South African NPO and PBO) is the local South African office (together with other Palestine solidarity groups, trade unions, political formations and human rights organizations) advancing the international BDS campaign against Israel. BDS South Africa relies solely on donations from the general public and it is only through the continued support of many individuals, like yourself, that we are able to carry out our work for equality and freedom in Palestine-IsraelPlease consider making a contribution to the organization, and thus enable us to continue our work and campaigns. BDS South Africa is a registered Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) with Section 18A tax-deductible status.This means that any donations made to us can be used to apply for tax exemptions.
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BDS South Africa is a registered Non-Profit Organization. NPO NUMBER: 084 306 NPO
BDS South Africa is a registered Public Benefit Organisation with Section 18A status. PBO NUMBER: 930 037 446

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Jonathan Cook: Difficult Tests Await the New Palestinian Unity Government

Posted by uscsjp on June 10, 2014

In last week’s celebratory atmosphere as the Palestinian unity government was sworn in, ending a seven-year feud between Fatah and Hamas, it was easy to overlook who was absent.

Hamas had agreed to remain in the shadows to placate Washington, which is legally obliged to refuse aid to a government that includes a designated terrorist group. The new Palestinian cabinet looked little different from its predecessor. Hamas’s input was limited to three independents, all in low-level ministerial positions.

And because this transitional government is still operating within the confines of Israeli occupation, the three ministers from Gaza were refused permits to travel to the West Bank for the swearing-in ceremony.

The appointment of a temporary government of technocrats is likely to be the easiest phase of the reconciliation agreed in late April. The deal has endured so far because Hamas, in even more desperate straits than its rival, Fatah, has capitulated.

For that reason, the US and most of the world hurried to offer their blessing. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, made dire warnings about the “strengthening of terror” and approved 3,300 settler homes to punish the Palestinians.

A far trickier stage is still to come: the Palestinian cabinet under President Mahmoud Abbas needs to oversee a bitterly contested national election between Fatah and Hamas.

The elections, expected next year, are vital. Palestinians have had no say in who rules them since 2006, when Hamas was victorious. A year later, Hamas and Fatah created separate fiefdoms in Gaza and the West Bank. Both need to prove their legitimacy at the ballot box. Should voting take place, and Hamas win again, the US and others can be expected to boycott the new government as they did back in 2006.

Other aspects of the earlier election’s conduct are instructive. In the months prior to voting eight years ago, Israel initiated a wave of arrests of Hamas leaders in an attempt to disrupt the democratic process. Israel also hoped to block voting in occupied East Jerusalem, which it considers part of its “eternal, indivisible” capital. But the White House – realising a ballot without Jerusalem would lack credibility – pressured Israel into grudging acquiescence.

Less well remembered is that Fatah quietly conspired with Israel to try to postpone the national vote. Fearing that Hamas would sweep the board, Fatah hoped to use Israeli intransigence in Jerusalem as the necessary pretext to delay the wider elections to a time more favourable to its candidates.

Mr Netanyahu has already announced that he will not allow an election in East Jerusalem, as well as indicating that Hamas will be barred from running elsewhere. That is hardly surprising: Israel has spent the past eight years eradicating Hamas from Jerusalem by jailing its leaders or expelling them.

But Fatah’s behaviour in 2006 hints at an even bigger obstacle to consummating the reconciliation. The reality is that Hamas and Fatah have entered the process only out of mutual despair.

Hamas’s political and geographical isolation in Gaza has plumbed new depths since the Egyptian regime turned hostile. Blockaded on all sides, Hamas has seen its support erode as the enclave’s economic crisis has deepened. A deal with Fatah seems the only way to open the borders.

The credibility of Fatah and Mr Abbas, meanwhile, has been steadily undermined by years of cooperation with Israel – all while the settlements have expanded – in the hope of extracting a concession on statehood.

Mr Abbas’s new strategy – creating a momentum towards statehood at the United Nations – requires that his government-in-waiting establish its democratic credentials, territorial integrity and a national consensus behind the diplomatic option.

The priority for Mr Netanyahu is not only to void the elections but to weaken the two sides’ commitment to unity by punishing them for their insolence. He can do so given Israel’s control over all aspects of Palestinian life.

Israel has begun not only with another fierce round of settlement building, but by declaring war on the Palestinian economy, refusing to accept shekel deposits from Palestinian banks, and by imposing collective daily blackouts on Palestinians for unpaid bills to Israel’s electricity company.

Mr Abbas, now responsible for paying the salaries of tens of thousands of public employees in Gaza each month, will be even more vulnerable to Israeli threats to refuse to transfer tax and customs revenues. It emerged yesterday that Israel is also lobbying foreign capitals to hold the Palestinian president directly responsible for any rockets fired from Gaza.

Hamas faces a no less difficult period ahead. If it strays too far from Fatah’s dictates, it will be blamed for destroying the unity pact, but if it adheres too close to Fatah, it will lose its identity and risk being outflanked by more militant groups like Islamic Jihad.

Samah Sabawi, a political analyst, observed of the unity government: “What we need more than ministries and authorities is resistance and liberation.” The unity government – whether of technocrats or elected officials – will still operate within the limitations imposed by Israel’s occupation.

In fact, the unity government simply breathes new life into the illusion – created by the Oslo accords of two decades ago – that good governance by the Palestinian Authority can change the Palestinians’ situation for the better.

In practice, such governance has entailed submitting to Israel’s security demands, a Palestinian obligation Mr Abbas termed “sacred” last week.

As Ms Sabawi suggests, an occupied people needs not better rubbish collection or street lighting but an effective strategy for resistance.

Palestinians will not benefit from a PA that polices the occupation simply because it becomes more “unified”. Rather, their struggle to attain real freedom will grow that bit more daunting.


–The National, 9 June, 2014

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