USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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

Archive for September, 2006

Bad Faith and the Destruction of Palestine (by Jonathan Cook)

Posted by uscsjp on September 30, 2006

A mistake too often made by those examining Israel’s behaviour in the occupied territories — or when analysing its treatment of Arabs in general, or interpreting its view of Iran — is to assume that Israel is acting in good faith. Even its most trenchant critics can fall into this trap.Such a reluctance to attribute bad faith was demonstrated this week by Israel’s foremost human rights group, B’Tselem, when it published a report into the bombing by the Israeli air force of Gaza’s power plant in late June. The horrifying consequences of this act of collective punishment — a war crime, as B’Tselem rightly notes — are clearly laid out in the report.

The group warns that electricity is available to most of Gaza’s 1.4 million inhabitants for a few hours a day, and running water for a similar period. The sewerage system has all but collapsed, with the resulting risk of the spread of dangerous infectious disease.

In their daily lives, Gazans can no longer rely on the basic features of modern existence. Their fridges are as good as useless, threatening outbreaks of food poisoning. The elderly and infirm living in apartments can no longer leave their homes because elevators don’t work, or are unpredictable. Hospitals and doctors’ clinics struggle to offer essential medical services. Small businesses, most of which rely on the power and water supplies, from food shops and laundry services to factories and workshops, are being forced to close. (continued. . . )


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Debating the Lobby in Manhattan: Israel Sends in the Clowns

Posted by uscsjp on September 30, 2006

Does it seem implausible that one might actually feel sympathy for a professor at the University of Chicago? So I would have thought; but as John Mearsheimer got the waterboard treatment from Martin Indyk and Dennis Ross last night at New York’s Cooper Union, there was something undeniably poignant in his situation. Mearsheimer, an earnest, polite, owlish gent, had the bemused air of a man trying to reason with a pair of rabid Dobermans. The occasion was a “debate,” hosted by the London Review of Books, on the question, “The Israel Lobby: Does it have too much influence on US foreign policy?”

Noam Chomsky observes somewhere that “debates are one of the most irrational institutions that humans have devised,” because they “demand irrationality” on the part of the combatants. He neglected to add that they also often bring out the worst in the spectators. And when the subject is Israel, and the debate takes place in New York, where this topic usually evokes irrationality on a titanic scale — well, the ensuing spectacle is likely to delight a misanthrope’s heart. (continued. . .)

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Daily Trojan Article on the myth of a “new anti-Semitism”

Posted by uscsjp on September 28, 2006

Apologists for Israel have often tarred the state’s critics with the charge of “anti-Semitism.” A recent letter to the Daily Trojan, for example, accused Students for Justice in Palestine, an organization with which I am affiliated, of employing “anti-Semitic rhetoric” in our carefully documented analysis and condemnation of Israeli actions in Lebanon.

Related to these charges is the frequently recycled notion that there is a “new anti-Semitism” afoot in the Western world. In spite of the fact that such claims have largely been the product of distortions and outright fabrications, they have, in recent years, been repackaged and revived.

This revival, as dissident political scientist Norman Finkelstein observes in his landmark text “Beyond Chutzpah,” has in large part been an effort by Israel’s apologists to deflect mounting international pressure on the state to comply with international law and end its occupation of Palestine. (continued. . .)

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EU-Iran Talks Continue

Posted by uscsjp on September 28, 2006

Javier Solana (left) and Ali Larijani in Berlin

Talks could resume by phone in the middle of next week

Two days of talks between Iran and the European Union in Berlin have ended without agreement on how to resolve the dispute about Iran’s nuclear programme. But both sides reported progress and said they would talk again. The EU’s Javier Solana said talks would be held next week, possibly by phone.

Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani said positive conclusions had been reached at the talks in Berlin.

If Iran does not suspend uranium enrichment, the US and the so-called EU3 – France, Germany and the UK – have agreed to ask the UN Security Council to impose sanctions. . .

China and Russia, two permanent members of the Security Council, are opposed to sanctions. (full story)

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BBC: West Bank settler receives life sentences for murder

Posted by uscsjp on September 28, 2006

Asher Weisgan

The court said Weisgan should be punished for each killing

An Israeli court has handed a Jewish settler four life sentence for killing four Palestinians in the West Bank last year during Israel’s Gaza withdrawal.

Asher Weisgan snatched a gun and shot his victims – who worked at Shilo settlement – in cold blood.

He told investigators his intention had been to provoke Palestinian retaliation which would distract the Israeli army.

Having to quell Palestinian unrest in the West Bank would stop the army from evicting settlers in Gaza, he hoped. . .

Convictions for crimes by settlers in the West Bank are rare, according to Israeli human rights groups. . .

Two weeks before the killing, a Jewish extremist had shot dead four Israeli Arabs on a bus in Shfaram, before he was lynched by angry crowd. (full story)

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The (Anti-) Palestinian Authority

Posted by uscsjp on September 27, 2006

The real rift in Palestinian society is between those fighting to preserve the class privileges of Oslo and their opponents who uphold the essentials of the Palestinian cause, writes Joseph Massad


One of the most important measures that the Israeli and Palestinian architects of the Oslo agreement took in order to guarantee the structural survival of what came to be known as the Oslo “peace process” was the creation of structures, institutions, and classes, that would be directly connected to it, and that can survive the very collapse of the Oslo agreement itself while preserving the “process” that the agreement generated. This guarantee was enshrined in law and upheld by international funding predicated on the continuation of the “Oslo process”, as long as the latter continued to serve Israeli and US interests as well as the interests of the corrupt Palestinian elite that acquiesced in it.

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2003 Massad Article on Sartre, the European Left, and Zionism

Posted by uscsjp on September 27, 2006

The legacy of Jean-Paul Sartre
Full Article:

What is it about the nature of Zionism, its racism, and its colonial policies that continues to escape the understanding of many European intellectuals on the left? Why have the Palestinians received so little sympathy from prominent leftist intellectuals such as Jean- Paul Sartre and Michel Foucault or only contingent sympathy from others like Jacques Derrida, Pierre Bourdieu, Etienne Balibar, and Slavoj Zizek? Edward Said wrote once about his encounters with Sartre and Foucault (who were anti-Palestinian) and with Gilles Deleuze (who was anti-Zionist) in this regard. The intellectual and political commitments inaugurated by a pro-Zionist Sartre and observed by Said, however, remain emblematic of many of the attitudes of leftist and liberal European intellectuals today.

While most of these intellectuals have taken public stances against racism and white supremacy, have opposed Nazism and apartheid South Africa, seem to oppose colonialism, old and new, most of them partake of a Sartrian legacy which refuses to see a change in the status of European Jews, who are still represented only as holocaust survivors in Europe. The status of the European Jew as a coloniser who has used racist colonial violence for the last century against the Palestinian people is a status they refuse to recognise and continue to resist vehemently. Although some of these intellectuals have clearly recognised Israeli Jewish violence in, and occupation of, the West Bank and Gaza, they continue to hold on to a pristine image of a Jewish State founded by holocaust survivors rather than by armed colonial settlers. . .

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2 perspectives on the Israel lobby and US Mideast policy

Posted by uscsjp on September 27, 2006

Norman Finkelstein:
In the current “either-or” debate on whether the Lobby affects U.S. Middle East policy at the elite level, it’s been lost on many of the interlocutors that a crucial dimension of this debate should be the extent to which the Lobby stifles free and open public discussion on the subject. For in terms of trying to broaden public discussion here on the Israel-Palestine conflict the Lobby makes a huge and baneful difference. Especially since U.S. elites have no entrenched interest in the Israeli occupation, the mobilization of public opinion can have a real impact on policy-making, which is why the Lobby invests so much energy in suppressing discussion.

Joseph Massad:

The United States is opposed in the Arab world as elsewhere because it has pursued and continues to pursue policies that are inimical to the interests of most people in these countries and are only beneficial to its own interests and to the minority regimes in the region that serve those interests, including Israel. Absent these policies, and not the pro-Israel lobby which supports them, the United States should expect a change in its standing among Arabs. Short of that, the United States will have to continue its policies in the region that have wreaked, and continue to wreak, havoc on the majority of Arabs and not expect that the Arab people will like it in return.

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Haaretz’s Danny Rubinstein: Why Recognize Israel?

Posted by uscsjp on September 26, 2006

(Full article here) Israel’s stance against recognizing a Palestinian government composed primarily of Hamas members who do not recognize Israel seems completely understandable. Why should Israel recognize the Hamas movement, which has been declared a terror organization by the countries of the world and whose basic charter claims that “the Zionist entity” has no right to exist?

The Hamas charter was composed after the first intifada erupted in 1987 – that is, nearly 20 years ago, and it reflects a different Palestinian political reality than the one existing today. This does not make much difference to the State of Israel.

Several Hamas spokesmen recently said that the movement’s leadership was surprised by the scope of its election victory. . .

Most of the Palestinian public is not demanding that Hamas recognize Israel. This, at least, is what a reliable survey conducted in the territories indicates. The explanation for this is expressed by Hamas spokesmen in every corner, from Rafah to Jenin, and is very accepted in the territories: Look, Yasser Arafat and the PLO recognized the State of Israel in the Oslo agreement and what did they gain from that? Only suffering and misfortune. . .

[Israel’s settlement-building conveys] a clear message: There is no chance that the capital of the Palestinian state will be established anywhere in Jerusalem. If you add to this the growth of settlements in Samaria, Ariel, the suburbs of Ramallah, in an expanded Gush Etzion and Mount Hebron, the Israeli message becomes unequivocal: You Palestinians have no chance. You recognized Israel and what you received in return was the liquidation of your national hopes. So why should Hamas repeat the same recognition whose results we have already seen?

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Reuters: UN human rights envoy says Gaza a prison for Palestinians

Posted by uscsjp on September 26, 2006

(Full story)

Israel has turned the Gaza Strip into a prison for Palestinians where life is “intolerable, appalling, tragic” and appears to have thrown away the key, a UN human rights envoy said on Tuesday.

Special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territory John Dugard said that the suffering of the Palestinians was a test of the readiness of the international community to protect human rights.

“If … the international community cannot … take some action, [it] must not be surprised if the people of the planet disbelieve that they are seriously committed to the promotion of human rights,” he said in a statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council. . .

“Israel violates international law as expounded by the Security Council and the International Court of Justice and goes unpunished. But the Palestinian people are punished for having democratically elected a regime unacceptable to Israel, the U.S. and the EU,” Dugard said. . . 

Dugard said that three-quarters of Gaza’s 1.4 million people were dependent on food aid. Bombing raids by Israel since the June 25 capture of an army corporal by Palestinian militants had destroyed houses and the territory’s only power plant.

“Gaza is a prison and Israel seems to have thrown away the key,” he said.

The West Bank also faced a humanitarian crisis, albeit not as extreme as Gaza, in part due to the barrier, which Dugard alleged was no longer being justified by Israel on security grounds but was part of a move to annex more land. . . 

“In other countries this process might be described as ethnic cleansing but political correctness forbids such language where Israel is concerned,” Dugard said.

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