USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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

Archive for October, 2006

Democracy Now Headlines on Israel, US, Iran

Posted by uscsjp on October 30, 2006

Report: Israel May Have Dropped Uranium-Based Bombs in Lebanon
British journalist Robert Fisk is reporting that Israel may have dropped uranium-based munitions on targets during its war against Lebanon. A leading British scientist has found that soil samples in Lebanon show elevated radiation and the concentration of uranium isotopes. According to the scientist, Dr. Chris Busby, there are two possible reasons for the contamination. Israel might have dropped a small experimental nuclear fission device or Israel used a bunker-busting conventional uranium bomb that employed enriched uranium. Robert Fisk reports that a photograph of one explosion shows large clouds of black smoke that might result from burning uranium. Israel has denied the report. However, last week the Israeli military admitted for the first time that it had dropped phosphorous bombs on Lebanon.

Israeli AG: President Katsav Should Step Aside
In other news from Israel, the country’s attorney general has said Israeli President Moshe Katsav should temporarily step aside while prosecutors decide whether to charge him with rape and other crimes.

U.S. Carries Out War Games In Persian Gulf
The United States has begun carrying out a naval exercise in the Persian Gulf near the coast of Iran. The U.S.-led war games are reportedly designed to test the ability of nations to intercept ships carrying weapons of mass destruction. The exercises are being conducted in the waters off of Bahrain. The ships will be within 120 miles of the Iranian coast. Iran called the naval exercise “adventurous.”

(continued)

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Counterpunch: How the FBI Spied on Edward Said

Posted by uscsjp on October 30, 2006

The FBI has a long, ignoble tradition of monitoring and harassing America’s top intellectuals. While people ranging from Albert Einstein, William Carlos Williams to Martin Luther King have been subjected to FBI surveillance, there remains an under-accounting of the ways in which this monitoring at times hampered the reception of their work.

In response to my request under the Freedom of Information Act, filed on behalf of CounterPunch, the FBI recently released 147 of Said’s 238-page FBI file. There are some unusual gaps in the released records, and it is possible that the FBI still holds far more files on Professor Said than they acknowledge. Some of these gaps may exist because new Patriot Act and National Security exemptions allow the FBI to deny the existence of records; however, the released file provides enough information to examine the FBI’s interest in Edward Said who mixed artistic appreciations, social theory, and political activism in powerful and unique ways.

Most of Said’s file documents FBI surveillance campaigns of his legal, public work with American-based Palestinian political or pro-Arab organizations, while other portions of the file document the FBI’s ongoing investigations of Said as it monitored his contacts with other Palestinian-Americans. That the FBI should monitor the legal political activities and intellectual forays of such a man elucidates not only the FBI’s role in suppressing democratic solutions to the Israeli and Palestinian problems, it also demonstrates a continuity with the FBI’s historical efforts to monitor and harass American peace activists.

Edward Said’s wife, Mariam, says she is not surprised to learn of the FBI’s surveillance of her husband, saying, “We always knew that any political activity concerning the Palestinian issue is monitored and when talking on the phone we would say ‘let the tappers hear this’. We believed that our phones were tapped for a long time, but it never bothered us because we knew we were hiding nothing.”…

Curiously, Said’s FBI file, as released to me, contains no information on the remaining dozen years of his life. Either the FBI stopped monitoring him, or they couldn’tlocate these files, or they won’t release this information or even the fact that the information exists in the files. The latter two possibilities seem far more likely than the first .

It did not matter how frequently or clearly Edward Said declared that he “totally repudiated terrorism in all its forms”. The FBI continued to focus its national security surveillance campaign on him. Had the FBI read the Palestine American Congress’s proposed constitution placed in Said’s file in 1979, they would have seen the group’s commitment to upholding the “basic fundamental human and national rights of all people and affirms its opposition to racism in all of its manifestations including Zionism and anti-Semitism”. Instead, they kept searching for connections to terrorism.

The FBI’s surveillance of Edward Said was similar to their surveillance of other Palestinian-American intellectuals. For example, Ibrahim Abu Lughod’s FBI file records similar monitoring ­ though Abu Lughod’s file finds the FBI attempting to capitalize on JDL death threats as a means of interviewing Lughod to collect information for his file.

Having read hundreds of FBI reports summarizing “subversive” threads in the work of other academics, I am surprised to find that Said’s FBI file contains no FBI analysis of his book Orientalism. This is especially surprising given the claims by scholars, like Hoover Institute anthropologist Stanley Kurtz in his 2003 testimony before the House Subcommittee on Select Education, that Said’s post-colonial critique had left American Middle East Studies scholars impotent to contribute to Bush’s “war on terror”. Given what is known of the FBI’s monitoring of radical academic developments it seems unlikely that such a work escaped their scrutiny, and it is reasonable to speculate that an FBI analysis of Orientalism remains in unreleased FBI documents.

But some known things are obviously missing from the released file. Chief among these are records of death threats against Said and records of the undercover police protection he received at some public events. But there are no reasons to withhold such records, and their absence gives further cause to not believe the FBI’s claim this is his entire releasable file. (continued. . . )

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Edward Said: Palestine and the Universality of Human Rights

Posted by uscsjp on October 30, 2006

One of Edward Said’s final talks before his death in 2003: “Palestine and the Universality of Human Rights”: (scroll down through the 5th talk on this page; click on “broadcast quality of mp3 version”, parts one and two; also consider making a donation to the producers for providing this free service)

Biography from Wikipedia:

Edward Wadie Said (November 1, 1935September 25, 2003; Arabic: إدوارد سعيد‎) was a well-known PalestinianAmerican literary theorist, critic, and outspoken Palestinian activist. He was a University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and is regarded as not only a founding figure in post-colonial theory, but also one of the most important public intellectuals of the late twentieth century. . .

As a pro-Palestinian activist, Said campaigned first for a creation of an independent Palestinian state and later for a single Jewish-Arab state. From 1977 until 1991, Said was an independent member of the Palestinian National Council who tended to stay out of factional struggles. He supported the two-state solution and voted for it in Algiers in 1988. He quit the PNC over the decision by Yasser Arafat and the PLO to support Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War, a decision he considered disastrous to the interests of Palestinian refugees living in Arab League member states who supported the American-led coalition. Thereafter, Said became critical of the role of Arafat in the process leading up to the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, feeling that the Oslo terms were unacceptable and had been rejected by the Madrid round negotiators. He felt that Oslo would not lead to a truly independent state and was inferior to a plan Arafat had rejected when Said himself presented it to Arafat on behalf of the US government in the late 70’s. In particular, he wrote that Arafat had sold short the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in pre-1967 Israel and ignored the growing presence of Israeli settlements. Said’s relationship with the Palestinian Authority was once so bad that PA leaders banned the sale of his books in August 1995, but improved when he hailed Arafat for rejecting Barak‘s offers at the Camp David 2000 Summit. Ultimately, Said came to prefer and to support the binational solution—the creation of one state in the entirety of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and pre-1967 Israel, in which Arabs and Jews would have equal rights, over a two state solution with a Palestinian state on the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

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Mike Whitney: The Charnel House of Baghdad

Posted by uscsjp on October 29, 2006

Foreign occupation is the reason why over 90% of Iraqis want the Americans to leave their country. It is the reason why nearly 50% of Iraqis believe that it is justifiable to shoot American troops and why nearly 70% of attacks are on occupation forces. Representative John Murtha was correct when he said, “We are inciting the problem;” our presence is a lightening rod for violence.

Bush’s promise to establish security in Baghdad is foolish and doomed to failure. Security cannot be achieved under occupation because the foreign troops are perceived as the enemy. This is not hard to grasp. We need only to imagine how we would react if Iraqi soldiers were maintaining checkpoints or arresting our people on the streets of America.

There’s no point in recriminations. There will be plenty of time to examine what went wrong after American forces are withdrawn from the theater. But certainly there have been events which galvanized Iraqis against the occupation; the destruction of Falluja and the abuses at Abu Ghraib are perhaps on top on the list.

More important, we must recognize where we are now in a conflict that is progressively intensifying and will not let up until the occupation ends.

The security plan for Baghdad is short-sighted and will not succeed. We already know that many of the Iraqis feel threatened by foreign troops on their streets and that a considerable number of the resistance fighters live in Baghdad. They are Baghdadis, this is their home. They are not leaving.

Will we destroy the city to liberate it? How many doors will be kicked in? How many buildings will be reduced to rubble? How many innocent people will be dragged off to interrogation-centers and filthy prisons? How many tens of thousands of people will be killed?

This is not liberation; it is “pacification”.

Liberation is not living in fear for one’s life every minute of the day. Martial law is not democracy.

There is no “government” under occupation, just foreign-military rule. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has no power and he governs nothing beyond the walls of America’s the Green Zone.

The Bush administration has begun to criticize al-Maliki for not stopping the sectarian violence, but no one is paying attention. Al Maliki follows in the long progression of American stooges; al-Allawi, al-Jaafari, al Maliki; none of them have any bearing on events, nor will they have any part to play in the final outcome. No one is fooled by the actions or pronouncements of Washington’s puppets. It is a public relations scam that has outlived its usefulness.

If we are serious about concluding the war in Iraq, we must deal directly with the leaders of the Iraqi resistance, many of whom were part of the former Ba’athist regime. There are rumors that talks are currently taking place in Amman, Jordan between representatives of the resistance and American officials, but there is no solid confirmation of this.

Negotiations between the warring parties will not succeed under the guidance of Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld has shown repeatedly that he is incapable of understanding strategic or political objectives. Even now, he insists that we should stay the course and persist on the same disastrous path. The administration’s newly-adopted language; “timetable for benchmarks” is meaningless. It offers no quantifiable difference from the present policy.  (continued)

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Gazan Mona El Farra on Palestinians’ hopes for peace

Posted by uscsjp on October 29, 2006

Peace Day: Gaza

I live in an area of conflict; so I am always thinking, working and hoping for peace. This hope for peace is a spontaneous, natural wish that lives inside me.

I hadn’t heard about this Peace Day before; and I don’t think many other Palestinians knew of it either.

However, what we do know about is what it’s like living under the Israeli occupation. Every day we suffer from this occupation which controls all aspects of our lives.

We are forced to live in a big jail called the Gaza Strip.

The occupation deprives us of the basic requirements of human life; we are not allowed to move freely inside our country; our children are starved; patients don’t get the right treatment at the right time – many of them die.

We are all at risk of being caught in a military attack – anytime, anywhere.

Working for peace

There is an increasing number of Palestinian kids suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome.

There is an increase in the level of poverty; there is a lack of proper water; we live much of the day without electricity.

I dream of the day that I won’t have to worry about the safety of my youngest daughter; whether she’s at home, at school or coming back from school.

Many Palestinian kids have either lost their lives or have been injured while on their way to school.

The Israeli army has attacked civilians indiscriminately over the years. In the latest episode of hostilities in the Gaza Strip, starting on 27 June, 226 Palestinians have been killed.

I think more and more of peace. It is peace that we lack, and peace that we need to lead a normal life free of fear.

Hope

I think of a free country having different developed progressive institutions, for all its citizens, enjoying a normal life and being an important part of the prosperity of the world.

The Palestinian people have, for many decades, suffered a lack of peace and political stability.

We are displaced outside our original country, historical Palestine, which was under British mandate until 1948.

Peace without a just solution of the refugees’ cause according to the UN resolutions, is an insufficient peace, and will collapse quickly.

Peace that is based on justice is a big goal for us in Palestine. It is for the benefit of all people in the area; a long-lasting comprehensive solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Peace is inseparable from justice; only free people can enjoy peace.

Until that minute comes, I shall always work hard, and encourage others to work hard for a free, secular and democratic Palestine.

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Not All Terrorists Are Muslim: The Latest Falsehood from the Advocates of Civilizational War

Posted by uscsjp on October 29, 2006

. . . Israel has led the way in charting this course. With massive propaganda, the Zionists succeeded in equating the Palestinian resistance with terrorism. In no Western country did this propaganda encounter greater success–including Israel itself–than in the United States. Most liberal Americans–and a few leftists–argued that Palestinian terrorists threatened Israel’s existence.

After the capitulation of Egypt at Camp David, Israel pursued more lofty ambitions. The original dream of a Pax Israelica, stretching from Morocco to Pakistan, now seemed within reach. Only the newly emerging Islamist forces in the region–notably, in Iran–now stood in its way.

The nascent Islamists offered both a challenge and an opportunity to Israel. If Israel could paint the Islamists as a civilizational threat to the very survival of the West, the American voters could be goaded into supporting Israel’s war against the Islamists: or better still, make this war their own.

This is not to discount the lure of Middle Eastern oil for America’s power elite. Although the US is the world’s only superpower, its relative economic position has been declining for some time. Although the US may not reverse its economic decline, it could solidify its power by gaining control over the world’s oil spigot in the Persian Gulf. Europe and China could be tamed if they knew that the US had its hand on the oil spigot.

This temptation was strong, but it also carried risks. In a democracy, moreover, there stands another obstacle. Public opinion in the United States would resist such a major and risky war. Americans, therefore, would have to be prepared for war by conjuring fears of new Islamic hordes gathering to attack and destroy the West, especially the United States.

Israel, the Zionists and their neoconservative allies in the United States began to work on these fears. It would not be too difficult to revive the West’s old obsession about fanatical Muslims, forcing their religion upon infidels at the point of their swords. But these atavistic fears would have to be decked anew. The Zionist and neoconservative thinkers would go to work painting Islam as anti-modernist, opposed to freedom, and inimical to the rights of women and minorities. In other words, Muslims were the last remaining obstacle to the final and irreversible triumph of Western values and power. . . (continued)

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The Horrors of Extraordinary Rendition: A Personal Account

Posted by uscsjp on October 29, 2006

Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, was a victim of the U.S. policy known as “extraordinary rendition.” He was detained by U.S. officials in 2002, accused of terrorist links, and handed over to Syrian authorities, who tortured him. Arar is working with the Center for Constitutional Rights to appeal a case against the U.S. government that was dismissed on national security grounds.

The Grave

The cell was about three feet wide, six feet deep and about seven feet high. It was dark. There was no source of light in it. It was filthy. There were only two thin covers on the floor. I was naïve; I thought they would keep me in this place for one, two, maybe three days to put pressure on me. But this same place, the same cell that I later called the grave was my home 10 months and 10 days. The only light that came into the cell was from the ceiling, from the opening in the ceiling. There was a small spotlight and that’s it.

Life in the cell was impossible. At the beginning–even though it was a filthy place, it was like a grave–I preferred to stay in that cell rather than being beaten. Whenever I heard the guards coming to open my door I would just think, you know, this is it for me that would be my last day.

The beating started the following day. Without no warning…(long pause as he fights tears) without no warning the interrogator came in with a cable. He asked me to open my right hand. I did open it. And he hit me strongly on my palm. It was so painful to the point that I forgot every moment I enjoyed in my life . . .  (full story)

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The Second Palestinian Intifada: History of a Struggle for Survival

Posted by uscsjp on October 23, 2006

All too often, historians and scholars write about war from a comfortable distance. Readers do not feel the pain of families driven from their homes by invading armies. We do not hear children scream in terror when their siblings and parents are murdered in front of them. Human suffering is just another episode in a war-torn world.In The Second Palestinian Intifada, Ramzy Baroud defies such polite conventions by taking readers on a journey into the heart of the Palestinian peoples’ struggle to survive war, massacres, assassinations, poverty, and exile.

A prominent writer, scholar, historian, and editor, (Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion), Mr. Baroud grew up in a poverty-stricken refugee camp. He lived among Palestinians who grew old holding the rusted keys to homes confiscated by the Israeli government. His own grandfather kept hope alive by listening to the radio, believing that one day he would hear the call to return to his beloved olive orchards and the only way of life he and his ancestors had ever known. Instead, the author’s grandfather died hearing the sounds of an army determined to destroy the will of the Palestinian people.

Ramzy Baroud was a high school student in Gaza when the first Palestinian Intifada broke out on December, 1987. At the time, he writes, grief stricken residents of my Gaza refugee camp were consumed with other more worldly matters; would they eat today, would they find clean water, would they seize their long-awaited freedom? In spite of these concerns, Palestinians rose together against an illegal and relentlessly brutal occupation. Writes Baroud:

It was an awesome awakening which forced all parties that had traditionally laid claim to the Palestinian struggle to relinquish their stake. Ordinary Palestinians took to the streets, defying the Israeli army and articulating a collective stance that echoed a seemingly eternal commitment across the generations.

Ramzy Baroud does not romanticize violence. He simply states, without rancor and with a quiet passion, what it is like to live, not year after year, but decade after decade, watching children go hungry and suffer brain damage from malnutrition, watching the Israeli army harass, insult, disappear, and murder friends and family; watching, perhaps most tragically, young men and women blow themselves to pieces in crowded Israeli cafes. Baroud wants readers to understand the reasons behind these attacks, but he argues that suicide bombers mimic the indiscriminate brutality of the occupation.

Palestinians who resist the occupation suffer terrible consequences, but they are not alone. An Israeli sniper in the Jenin refugee wounded Ian Hook, a United Nations coordinator. Mr. Hook bled to death when the IDF refused to permit an ambulance to take him to a hospital. On the same day Hook was murdered, Israeli soldiers shot and wounded a twenty-three year-old Irish activist, Caoimhe Butterly, who was standing in the line of fire between the IDF and Palestinian children. On March 16, American peace activist Rachel Corrie was attempting to keep an Israeli bulldozer driver from destroying a house in the Rafah refugee camp south of Gaza City. Rachel was wearing a florescent orange vest and calling through a megaphone, but the driver deliberately ran her over, then reversed his machine and ran back over her body again. Commentators in the United States called Rachel stupid, while the pro-Israeli crowd claimed that she was offering protection to a gang of terrorists.

The Second Palestinian Intifida chronicles the crimes that former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and many other Israeli politicians have committed against the Palestinian people. But these details are less important, really, than the questions the author poses time and again in this book: Why does the United States continue to fund the expropriation of Palestinian land? Why have a succession of U.S. administrations supported Israel’s illegal occupation of Gaza and the West Bank? How could it be that the lives of Palestinian children are so much less important than their counterparts in Israel?

Writing about the Camp David accords, the author points out that Israel did not place a legitimate offer on the table. On the contrary, according to Palestinian intellectual, Hanan Ashrawi, Israeli negotiators failed to present a written proposal to their counterparts in the Palestinian delegation. The offer, touted by the American media as a reasonable settlement, was for the occupied territories to be cut into three cantons, separated by Israeli military zones and Israeli-only bypass roads, of the continuous presence of illegal settlements, and of Israel’s domination over Occupied East Jerusalem

This is not a book for those who want surface, sanitized, accounts of the Palestinian Diaspora. Ramzy Baroud is committed to truth telling, and his new book will undoubtedly disturb, shock, and outrage his readers. One can only hope that those who claim to love and support the state of Israel will not only read, but study, this important book. Not to make anyone feel ashamed, but so that even Israel’s most ardent supporters will understand that no nation can brutalize, indeed terrorize, an innocent people forever. (full article)

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Zoltan Grossman: A Century of US Military Interventions

Posted by uscsjp on October 23, 2006

A list of U.S. interventions from Wounded Knee to Afghanistan

Killing civilians to show that killing civilians is wrong: a briefing on the history of U.S. military interventions

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Robert Jensen: The four fundamentalisms – the threats to sustainable democracy

Posted by uscsjp on October 23, 2006

The most important words anyone said to me in the weeks immediately after September 11, 2001, came from my friend James Koplin. While acknowledging the significance of that day, he said, simply: “I was in a profound state of grief about the world before 9/11, and nothing that happened on that day has significantly changed what the world looks like to me.”

Because Jim is a bit older and considerably smarter than I, it took me some time to catch up to him, but eventually I recognized his insight. He was warning me that even we lefties — trained to keep an eye on systems and structures of power rather than obsessing about individual politicians and single events — were missing the point if we accepted the conventional wisdom that 9/11 “changed everything,” as the saying went then. He was right, and today I want to talk about four fundamentalisms loose in the world and the long-term crisis to which they point.

Before we head there, a note on the short-term crisis: I have been involved in U.S. organizing against the so-called “war on terror,” which has provided cover for the attempts to expand and deepen U.S. control over the strategically crucial resources of Central Asia and the Middle East, part of a global strategy that the Bush administration openly acknowledges is aimed at unchallengeable U.S domination of the world. For U.S. planners, that “world” includes not only the land and seas — and, of course, the resources beneath them — but space above as well. It is our world to arrange and dispose of as they see fit, in support of our “blessed lifestyle.” Other nations can have a place in that world as long as they are willing to assume the role that the United States determines appropriate. The vision of U.S. policymakers is of a world very ordered, by them.

This description of U.S. policy is no caricature. Anyone who doubts my summary can simply read the National Security Strategy document released in 2002 and the 2006 update and review post-World War II U.S. history. Read and review, but only if you don’t mind waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat of fear. But as scary as these paranoid, power-mad policymakers’ delusions may be, Jim was talking about a feeling beyond that fear — a grief that is much broader and goes much deeper.

Opposing the war-of-the-moment — and going beyond that to challenge the whole imperial project — is important. But also important is the work of thinking through the nature of the larger forces that leave us in this grief-stricken position. We need to go beyond Bush. We should recognize the seriousness of the threat that this particular gang of thieves and thugs poses and resist their policies, but not mistake them for the core of the problem.

FUNDAMENTALISMS

One way to come to terms with these forces is to understand the United States as a society in the grip of four fundamentalisms. In ascending order of threat, I identify these fundamentalisms as religious, national, economic, and technological. All share some similar characteristics, while each poses a particular threat to sustainable democracy and sustainable life on the planet. Each needs separate analysis and strategies for resistance. (continued)

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