USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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

Archive for October, 2007

Ali Abunimah: The show goes on… and on

Posted by uscsjp on October 22, 2007

The “Middle East Peace Process” is like one of those big budget Broadway extravaganzas; they go on for years, but with each revival the cast changes. What may seem like a tired production to some nevertheless manages to remain fresh to the gullible throngs willing to hand over the price of admission.

Unlike a few hours of theatrical escapism, however, the producers of the Middle East Peace Process hope that the audience will actually believe that what they are viewing on stage, whether performed in Madrid, Oslo, London, Washington or Sharm al-Sheikh is real-life and even has the potential to end the conflict caused by a century of western-supported Zionist colonization in Palestine.

In the latest revival, Condoleezza Rice plays the US secretary of state determined to bring the long-running conflict to a close with skillful diplomacy designed to put in place a “process” eventually leading to a two-state solution. George Bush, tired of being typecast as a warmonger, tries on the role of lame-duck president who spent years enabling Israeli colonization, but who, with an eye on his legacy, is now committed to peacefully ending the conflict once and for all.

Other key actors include Mahmoud Abbas, a colorless quisling whose only power base is the American and Israeli guns that keep him installed in his Ramallah Green Zone — filling in for the late Yasser Arafat as leader of the Palestinians, and Ehud Olmert, understudy to Ariel Sharon who left the stage unexpectedly. (article continued here)


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The moderate blindfold: Ben White, Electronic Intifada

Posted by uscsjp on October 22, 2007

We’ve had Live 8 and Live Earth, and this week, albeit on a smaller scale, we almost had One Million Voices. Organized by the OneVoice group, the declared aim was to bring together Palestinians and Israelis in simultaneous events in Tel Aviv, Jericho, London, Washington and Ottawa to voice support for the “moderates” and call for a negotiated two-state solution.

The plans fell through, amid bitter claim and counter-claim, as artists lined up for the Jericho event canceled, and the Tel Aviv concert followed suit. This followed grassroots pressure by Palestinians who objected to what they see as yet another attempt to promote a false peace that fails to address the structural injustices driving the conflict.

Indeed, despite the peace rhetoric — and the claim that they represent a unique popular call — OneVoice’s approach suffers from the same flaws that have bedeviled official “peace” efforts from Oslo to the Quartet. Such errors were amply demonstrated in Seth Freedman’s column in the Guardian’s Comment is Free, which implied that the main obstacle to peace is the “extremism” that exists on both sides.

This interpretation of the situation in Palestine/Israel is only possible through a heavy airbrushing of history and a fundamental misreading of the present. Strikingly, the Tel Aviv concert was scheduled to take place in Hayarkon Park — the same location where, almost 60 years ago, the Palestinian village of Jarisha was wiped off the map by Jewish armed forces.

Its residents shared the same fate as almost 800,000 other Palestinians, expelled from what became Israel and prevented to this day from returning home, their land confiscated. Yet official OneVoice material gives the impression that the conflict only began 40 years ago, when Israel occupied the rest of Palestine (the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem).

Condemning the “extremist minority” of both sides sounds laudable. Of course, “both sides” use violence, and of course, there is hatred and religious extremism among both Palestinians and Israelis. The crucial point, however, is that Israel has all the power. Israel is occupying and colonizing Palestinian land, not the other way round. Palestinian cities are besieged by a modern, hi-tech Israeli army and subjected to closure, raids and bombardment — not the other way round… (article continued here)

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Ha’aretz’s Gideon Levy: Puppet Leader (Mahmoud Abbas)

Posted by uscsjp on October 11, 2007

Puppet leader (09/23/07)

By Gideon Levy
Mahmoud Abbas has to stay home. As things stand right now, he must not go to Washington. Even his meetings with Ehud Olmert are gradually turning into a disgrace and have become a humiliation for his people. Nothing good will come of them. It has become impossible to bear the spectacle of the Palestinian leader’s jolly visits in Jerusalem, bussing the cheek of the wife of the very prime minister who is meanwhile threatening to blockade a million and a half of his people, condemning them to darkness and hunger.

If Abu Mazen were a genuine national leader instead of a petty retailer, he would refuse to participate in the summit and any other meetings until the blockade of Gaza is lifted. If he were a man of truly historic stature he would add that no conference can be held without Ismail Haniyeh, another crucial Palestinian representative. And if Israel really wanted peace, not only an “agreement of principles” with a puppet-leader that will lead nowhere, it should respect Abbas’ demand. Israel should aspire for Abu Mazen to be considered a leader in the eyes of his people, not only a marionette whose strings are pulled by Israel and the United States, or affected by other short-term power plays. (article continued here)

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Jerusalem Post: Burger joint owner proudly hires ‘Jewish workers only’

Posted by uscsjp on October 10, 2007

A Jerusalem-based burger joint has come under heavy criticism for advertising in an English-language haredi newspaper that it employs “Jewish workers only.”

Burger Deli’s ad in The Shiur Times was first uncovered last month by the RamFM radio station, which broadcasts out of Jerusalem and Ramallah.

The restaurant’s owner, who requested to be identified as “Avraham,” told The Jerusalem Post that he had been praised for hiring only Jewish workers.

“This is my business… so I’ll do whatever I want,” he said, adding that he did not plan to pull the ad any time soon.

Selective hiring is illegal in Israel and is classified as racism under the Act of Equality in Employment. The law also forbids racially-based business promotion.

However, these practices are alive and well, explained Kav L’Oved director Hanna Zohar.

“[The Burger Deli case] is racism,” said Zohar, whose organization pressures the government to enforce basic workers’ rights. “It’s very difficult for Israeli Arabs to get jobs even when they are skilled. If they do get jobs, they usually receive lower pay,” she said.

The director of the Human Rights Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Yuval Elbashan, agreed. “In Jerusalem [discriminatory hiring] is quite common. It’s now become the fashion [and a] syndrome,” he said… (article continued here)

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Message from Howard Zinn on behalf of the Committee for an Open Discussion of Zionism

Posted by uscsjp on October 7, 2007

Howard Zinn:  “As you may have heard, in late August of this year, The University of Michigan Press, after receiving a series of complaining and threatening emails and letters from an ultra-Zionist group called StandWithUs, an offshoot of Campus Watch, withdrew from distribution Prof. Joel Kovel’s book Overcoming Zionism, published by Pluto Press in London, United Kingdom. Since then, following numerous protests by fellow academics and scholars, The U. of M. Press Executive Board has restored the book to its distribution listings. But, ominously, the Board has indicated its intention to reconsider its contract with Pluto Press in mid October.

Overcoming Zionism is a serious, well researched work espousing a humanistic resolution. It is a valuable addition to the growing debate, in and out of American academia, that is re-examining long held assumptions about the sources of conflict in the Middle East. It should be discussed – supported or refuted – but not suppressed.

But even more serious is the University’s threat to cancel its distribution contract with Pluto Press. Pluto is a valuable and unique intellectual resource, publishing progressive books of a consistently high quality. It provides an alternative viewpoint essential to discussion and debate of important social issues, such as those concerning Israel/Palestine and the Middle East. The cancellation of Pluto’s contract with the University would be a serious blow to the principles of pluralism, academic freedom and free speech.

We urge you to add your voice to those of the many professors and authors that have vigorously protested these actions. We ask that you send a letter or, better yet, an email to U. of M. Press Executive Board Chair Peggy McCracken with copies to University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, Dean Janet A Weiss; and Provost Teresa Sullivan, demanding that the University of Michigan Press continue its contract with Pluto Press. Further, we ask that you forward this request for support and suggested support letter to those on any list that you may maintain or have access to.

We have prepared a sample email or letter together with emails and postal addressees of University of Michigan Press committee members below but also feel free to compose your own. Time is of the essence so please act quickly.

Thank you for your kind support.

Howard Zinn
For the Committee for an Open Discussion of Zionism” (link to letter and action page)

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TAKE ACTION! Desmond Tutu barred from speaking at a Minnesota University

Posted by uscsjp on October 3, 2007

Jewish Voice for Peace

A peace and justice group at St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Minnesota has been forced by the university president to cancel an appearance by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The cancellation was accompanied by the removal of the chair of the Justice and Peace Studies program, Prof. Cris Toffolo from her position as chair. She has tenure, but no longer heads the

The university president, Father Dennis Dease, decided against Tutu’s appearance after consulting one representative from the local Jewish Community Relations Council and several rabbis affiliated with the university. This, apparently, amounted to a Jewish “consensus” in Father Dease’s mind.

The rumor of Tutu’s alleged “anti-Semitism” is based entirely on a propaganda campaign waged by the extremist group, the Zionist Organization of America. Though he is outspoken in his criticism of Israel’s occupation regime, sometimes even bellicose, Tutu has never displayed anything other than deep concern for all peoples and his sympathy for Palestinians suffering under the yoke of occupation.

Please write to Father Dease and urge that he reverse this tragic course. Tell him you want to see Prof. Toffolo reinstated as chair of the Justice and Peace Studies program and that the words and views of Bishop Tutu are important ones for the students at St. Thomas University to hear. (link to action page)

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Jonathan Cook: Why Did Israel Attack Syria?

Posted by uscsjp on October 1, 2007

Electronic Lebanon: September 28 

Israel’s air strike on northern Syria earlier this month should be understood in the context of events unfolding since its assault last summer on neighboring Lebanon. Although little more than rumors have been offered about what took place, one strategic forecasting group, Stratfor, still concluded: “Something important happened.”

From the leaks so far, it seems that more than half a dozen Israeli warplanes violated Syrian airspace to drop munitions on a site close to the border with Turkey. We also know from the US media that the “something” occurred in close coordination with the White House. But what was the purpose and significance of the attack?

It is worth recalling that, in the wake of Israel’s month-long war against Lebanon a year ago, a prominent American neoconservative, Meyrav Wurmser, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney’s recently departed Middle East adviser, explained that the war had dragged on because the White House delayed in imposing a ceasefire. The neocons, she said, wanted to give Israel the time and space to expand the attack to Damascus.

The reasoning was simple: before an attack on Iran could be countenanced, Hizballah in Lebanon had to be destroyed and Syria at the very least cowed. The plan was to isolate Tehran on these two other hostile fronts before going in for the kill. (article continued)

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Palestinian Center for Human Rights: Israel kills 11 Gazans in nine hours

Posted by uscsjp on October 1, 2007

Electronic Intifada-Sept. 27

Israeli Occupation Forces committed several crimes in the Gaza Strip over the past few hours, which left 11 Palestinians dead, including a child, and injured 33 others, five of them seriously. Some of the injured suffered amputation of limbs. Five of the victims were killed in an extra-judicial execution in Gaza City. The remaining six victims were killed in Beit Hanoun by aerial and land bombardment during an incursion into the town.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns these crimes, and is concerned that they are a prelude to additional crimes against the Gaza Strip.

PCHR is concerned over the continuation of IOF war crimes, and:

  • Renews its condemnation of these acts that are part of the ongoing Israeli war crimes in the OPT that reflect disregard for civilian lives. The Centre considers these actions to be acts of reprisal and collective punishment in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949).
  • Points out that the IOF does not respect the principles of necessity and proportionality when using its war machine against Palestinian resistance activists in populated areas, which causes additional victims among the civilian population.
  • Calls upon the international community to act immediately to stop these crimes; and renews the call to the High Contracting Party of the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their responsibility under Article 1 to ensure that the Convention is respected, and under Article 146 to pursue parties suspected of committing serious violations of the Convention, noting that these serious violations are considered war crimes in article 147 in the Convention and its First Protocol Additional. (read full article here)

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Editorial: Talking peace while strangling Gaza

Posted by uscsjp on October 1, 2007

Socialist Worker–September 28

ISRAEL HAS declared war on the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza Strip–and the U.S. government has given its blessing. That’s the reality behind the media’s dishonest talk of “negotiations” and “breakthroughs.”

The U.S. has already backed Israeli sanctions that have turned Gaza into the world’s biggest open-air prison, with an economy in collapse, hunger and malnutrition on the rise, and poverty engulfing 87.7 percent of the population.

The justification for Israel’s murderous policies was the democratic election of the Islamist Hamas party to lead the Palestinian Authority in January 2006–a few months after Israel unilaterally withdrew its settlements from the territory.

Now, the Israeli cabinet has declared Gaza a “hostile territory,” and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, in Israel to broker “peace” negotiations, said Hamas “is indeed a hostile entity. It is a hostile entity to the U.S. as well.”

In fact, Israel already treats every Palestinian as an enemy–whether they be fighters or civilians, men, women or children.

According to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, which uses statistics conservatively, Israeli security forces killed 668 Palestinians in Gaza between September 1, 2005 and July 25, 2007. Of these, more than half–359 people–“were not involved in any hostilities at the time they were killed,” the organization reported. Some 126 of those killed were children or teenagers. In the same period, just four Israeli civilians were killed as a result of rockets fired from Gaza. (article continued)

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