USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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

Archive for November, 2007

Aswat, a Palestinian LGBT group

Posted by uscsjp on November 27, 2007

The Women of Aswat

We are Women in a patriarchal society where women’s voices are not heard. A woman does not own anything, including herself. Everything is controlled by the male figures in her life – her father, her brother or even her uncle. She is under constant supervision by her community, in her neighbourhood, in the street, at school, at university. Wherever she is, there will be someone watching her and judging her.

According to our society’s traditional perception, a woman represents the family’s reputation and honour, a very heavy burden that we have to endure and carry until the day we will die. “A woman’s reputation is like a mirror, once it is cracked, it can never be repaired” is a very familiar saying to all women in our community, and it just symbolizes the kind of pressure that the society places on women. Many young women are forced out of schools when they are physically matured, out of fear that they might be easily influenced and bring shame to their families. The society lives under constant fear of  women bringing shame to themselves, their families and community. Women are are supposedly not able to take care of themselves, they should always depend on a male to protect them and provide for their needs, because they are vulnerable and weak: this is how they are traditionally seen. According to society, a woman’s role is limited to being a mother, or a daughter/sister who will become a mother herself once she is old enough.

We are Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. We have been under occupation since 1948. Being a Palestinian in this country means having limited control over our lives; everything is in the hand of the occupier. Our freedom of movement is limited by curfews, closures, checkpoints and the Wall. We are focusing all our energies on being able to provide for our families and, in most cases just being able to survive. The political situation is deteriorating as time passes by, and  women’s rights are pushed further back on the political and social agenda. Anytime a woman tries to speak up, she is faced with fierce reactions from her surroundings.

We are Gay in a society that has no mercy for sexual diversity. Coming out is not even an option because the consequences can be very severe. The options that are open to us are very few; we either live a double life in order to survive, and still maintain good relations with our family, or run away and be probably forced into a hard life.

We have decided that the time has come to defy the norms of our society, and make everybody hear our voices for change. (link to page)


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Electronic Intifada: Lebanon for beginners

Posted by uscsjp on November 22, 2007

Laurie King, Electronic Lebanon, July 2006

For many Americans, the names “Lebanon” and “Beirut” have long been synonymous with violence, chaos, terrorism, hostage-taking, and anti-US organizations, ideologies, and activities. These place names are often bywords for a total breakdown of social, political, and legal order. Indeed, the noun “Lebanization” has been applied to numerous situations of internecine ethnic conflicts played out in urban settings. Countering such conventional perceptions, this introduction to recent Lebanese history argues that even during the worst phases of Lebanon’s multidimensional wars (usually fought in and over Beirut) order and patterns were evident in the structures and levels of confrontation: local, national, regional, and international.

Multiple strategies, sometimes in concert, though more often in competition, shaped the dynamic sociopolitical context of Lebanon over a period of sixteen years. As the war progressed, fighting became protracted and a war system was institutionalized, giving rise to a new class of warlord/politicians and nouveaux riches decision makers. Beirut was dissected socially and devastated physically. The post-war era witnessed remarkable rebuilding and sustainable reconciliation, but insufficient institutional and legal reforms.

Lebanon’s war years were destructive and seemingly endless. By the late 1980s, a paralytic situation obtained: no one side could decisively win or lose on the military level. On the socioeconomic level, most Lebanese were unequivocally losers. On the political level, the Lebanese war, despite its monotonous logic of internecine violence, gave rise to dramatic developments in the form of new players, tactics, ideologies, and alliances. Even seasoned Middle East observers were taken by surprise at the latter developments, most clearly demonstrated by the emergence of the radical Shi’i militias, Islamic Jihaad and Hizbullah (Party of God), also known as the Islamic Resistance (al-muqaawamah al-islaamiyyah). These new political and military actors were born of local and regional events: the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. (continued here)

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US storm over book on Israel lobby

Posted by uscsjp on November 22, 2007

The power of America’s “Jewish lobby” is said to be legendary. Commentators the world over refer to it, as though it were a well-established fact that US Jews wield far more influence than their numbers (2% of the population) would suggest.

But this presumed influence is also a delicate issue in the US, and is rarely analysed.

How does the lobby work? Is its power truly legendary, or just a legend?

Two US academics, John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard, have set out to answer those questions, and triggered a firestorm of controversy as a result.

BBC News Thursday, Nov 22

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Nov. 12-17: USC Middle East Awareness Week!

Posted by uscsjp on November 8, 2007

USC Middle East Awareness Week


-presented by Students for Justice in Palestine and Political Student Assembly-

Monday, November 12: Palestine 101 with Laurie Brand

12:00 noon: Taper Hall of Humanities 116

Laurie Brand is the Director of the School of International Relations at USC.  Professor Brand specializes in the international relations of the Middle East, including the political economy of the region and inter-Arab relations.

Monday, November 12: Media and the Middle East with As’ad Abu Khalil

7:00 pm: Taper Hall of Humanities 201

As’ad Abu Khalil is a professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus and visiting professor at University of California, Berkeley.  He is the author of Historical Dictionary of Lebanon (1998) and Bin Laden, Islam, & America’s New “War on Terrorism” (2002).  He maintains the “Angry Arab News Service” blog.

Tuesday, November 13: Effects of U.S. Intervention on Women’s and

Human Rights in Afghanistan with Sonali Kohlatkar (co-sponsored with Women’s Student Assembly)

6:00 pm: Taper Hall of Humanities 301

Sonali Kolhatkar is vice president of the Afghan Women’s Mission, a group that works in solidarity with Afghans to help improve health and educational facilities for Afghan refugees in Pakistan.  She is also the host of “Uprising”, an hour of news and analysis on KPFK radio.


Thursday, November 15: It’s Not Either/Or: The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy in the Middle East with Norman Finkelstein

6:00 pm: Taper Hall of Humanities 101 

Norman Finkelstein is an American political scientist and author, specializing in the Israel-Palestine conflict.  His books include Beyond Chutzpah and Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict.


Saturday, November 17: Jerusalem to Los Angeles: The Poetry of Peace (Hip-Hop Concert)

7:00 pm: Bovard Auditorium

This event will feature DAM, the Palestinian hip hop stars from Jersulaem, and Omar Chakari & Ragtop.  A night of hip hop and performance poetry.  See for more information and tickets.


All Events Taking Place on USC Campus

Free Admission and Free Food for all events except Nov. 17 concert


KPFK 90.7 is the Media Sponsor For This Event

For more info: Contact Students for Justice in Palestine ; 323-733-2274

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EI’s Ali Abunimah: Engaging Hamas and Hizballah

Posted by uscsjp on November 2, 2007

Nothing could be easier in the present atmosphere than to accuse anyone who calls for recognition of and dialogue with Hamas, Hizballah and other Islamist movements of being closet supporters of reactionary “extremism” or naive fellow travelers of “terrorists.” This tactic is not surprising coming from neoconservatives and Zionists. What is novel is to see it expressed in supposedly progressive quarters.

Arun Kundnani has written about a “new breed of liberal” whose outlook “regards Muslims as uniquely problematic and in need of forceful integration into what it views as the inherently superior values of the West.” The target of these former leftists, Kundnani argues, “is not so much Islamism as the appeasing attitudes they detect among [other] liberals.” [1]

Such views are now creeping into the Palestinian solidarity movement. MADRE, an “international women’s human rights organization,” presents one example. In the wake of the Hamas election victory and takeover of Gaza from US- and Israeli-backed Fatah warlords, MADRE declared that the challenge for Palestine solidarity activists is “how do we support the people of Palestine without endorsing the Hamas leadership?” Calling for what it terms “strategic solidarity” as opposed to “reflexive solidarity,” MADRE defines Hamas as a “repressive” movement “driven by militarism and nationalism,” which “aims to institutionalize reactionary ideas about gender and sexuality,” while using “religion as a smokescreen to pursue its agenda.” [2] Similarly strident and dismissive claims have been made by a Washington-based pro-Palestinian advocacy group. [3]

Some of these attitudes may arise from confusion, but there may also be an effort to scare us off from attempting to understand Hamas in Palestine and Hizballah in Lebanon outside any paradigm except a “clash of civilizations” that pits allegedly universal and superior Western liberal values against what is represented as medieval oriental barbarity… (article continued here)

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