USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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

Archive for June, 2008

Democracy Now and RTE News Updates on Gaza

Posted by uscsjp on June 25, 2008

Israel Closes Gaza Border, Launches Attacks

“In Israel and the Occupied Territories, the Israeli government has re-imposed border restrictions on the Gaza Strip that were slightly eased under a ceasefire with Hamas. Israel says it reinstated the closures following rocket fire from militants with the group Islamic Jihad. The rockets came in apparent response to the killing of two Palestinian militants in the West Bank where the ceasefire does not apply. Speaking at a donor’s conference in Berlin, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad called the Israeli attack a provocation.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad: “I am now departing from the written text to tell you that as early as the early morning hours of today, there was yet another incursion in the city of Nablus where two people actually were killed. This is an example, precise example, of the kind of activity that has to stop, and stop immediately and promptly, if in fact we are going to be able to succeed in the provision of security to our people.”

Palestinian medical officials say Israel has launched attacks in the Gaza Strip despite the ceasefire. An eighty-year-old Palestinian farmer was reportedly shot twice shortly after the border restrictions were re-imposed. In Gaza, Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri criticized Israeli actions but said Hamas would respect the truce.

Sami Abu Zuhri: “Hamas is keen to maintain the deal on calm and for that is interested in treating any problems that occur through dialogue. Hamas is following up what happened with the Islamic Jihad and other factions to ensure
maintaining the agreement over the calm.”

US Defends Palestinian Boycott

Meanwhile, back in Berlin, the US is facing criticism for its refusal to support lifting the international boycott on the Palestinian government. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended the US stance.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: “To my good friend Amr Moussa, I just want to make certain that we understand fully that no one would be happier to see a reconciliation of the Palestinian people than I would. I think it would be very good for the Palestinian people. But that reconciliation has to take place on a basis that at least observes the international agreements to which the Palestinians themselves have signed on, because you cannot have reconciliation for peace if there is not a partner that respects the right of the other partner to exist.”

The US has been accused of hypocrisy because it refuses to demand Israel also respect international agreements or recognize Palestine’s right to exist.

–Democracy Now, June 25, 2008

Israel closes Gaza borders indefinitely

“Israel has closed its border crossings with Gaza for an indefinite period, calling the move a response to a Palestinian rocket attack that breached an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.

The crossings were to have opened at 8am (0500 Irish time) to allow for imports, increased in scale under the truce, to reach the impoverished territory.

But Israeli military liaison official Peter Lerner said they would stay closed until further notice.


‘Any reopening will be in accordance with security considerations.’ he said.

Islamic Jihad militants fired several rockets into southern Israel yesterday, breaching a five-day-old Gaza truce in what they called retaliation for the Israeli army’s killing of one of their commanders in the occupied West Bank.

The ceasefire deal does not cover the West Bank.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers, accused Israel of bad faith in closing the crossings, where restrictions were tightened a year ago after the Islamist group took over the territory.

‘The closure by the occupation is a violation of the deal for calm in Gaza,’ Abu Zuhri said, referring to Israel.

Further stoking tension, Islamic Jihad threatened more attacks today for what it called a shooting by Israeli troops of a Palestinian farmer as he worked his field in the village of Khuza, near the Gaza border.

Palestinian medical officials said the man was wounded in the leg but there was no independent confirmation that he had been shot by Israeli forces. In Tel Aviv, an Israeli military spokeswoman said she had no knowledge of any such incident.

‘We will respond to every Zionist violation at the suitable time,’ Islamic Jihad spokesman Abu Hamza said.

After the rockets yesterday, Hamas urged smaller Palestinian factions to hold their fire and said it wanted the ceasefire preserved.”
–RTE News, June 25, 2008

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Los Angeles Social Forum, June 27-29 at USC

Posted by uscsjp on June 23, 2008

For anyone (especially political progressives) in the Los Angeles area, please join us for a weekend of building bridges between LA-based campaigns for social justice, environmental action, criminal reform, election fairness, gender equity, political power and cultural expression.

The Los Angeles Social Forum is a place where Southern California activists will meet and share power, plans, perspectives, and ideas while building a network for peace and social justice.

More than 50 workshops on topics from immigrant rights to informed enlistment will be offered. The Forum is being endorsed or sponsored by more than 50 organizations that work in the Los Angeles area.

Information on workshop topics, registration, and volunteering is available in the forwarded message below, and at



It Takes a Village to Rape a Woman | Teaching During a Time of War | Making Our Votes Count for a Voice in Government
Media and Social-Justice Movements | Ongoing Struggle for Lesbian Rights | Organizing for Immigrants’ Rights & Against ICE Raids | Palestine and the Right of Return: 60 years of Exile | Peak Oil | Prevent Unwanted Presidencies: Ways to protect the Nov. 2008 Election | Prison Abolition | Puerto Rico Self Determination/Liberation From Colonziation
Race, Gender and Electoral Politics | Release Women From Prison | Reforming Proposition 13 & Advancing Economic Justice | Revolutionary Journalism | Roots of the Global Food Crisis: How Capitalism Fails to Feed the Hungry
Sexual Politics | Working together for a Fair California Budget | Situational Awareness, Mindfulness, Communication, and Focus | Soul Rebel Radio | Spirituality and the Struggle for Social Justice



Friday, June 27:

-7 – 7:45 PM: Registration, Meet & Greet
-7:45 PM: First People Welcome
-8 PM: Opening Plenary & Cultural Performances – The opening plenary will feature local grassroots labor and community organizers/leaders.
-8:45 PM: Drum Circle – An evening of group participation.

Saturday, June 28:

-9 AM: Registration
-9:30 – 11:30 AM: Workshops Session 1
-11:45 AM – 1:30 PM: Lunch
-1:30 – 3:30 PM: Workshops Session 2
-4 – 6 PM: Workshops Session 3
-6 – 7:30 PM: Saturday Closing Words – Following this closing, members of the Figueroa Corridor Coalition for Economic Justice will provide tours of the area that will inform people about local residents’ concerns about the proposed development plan and other issues in the neighborhoods surrounding USC.
-7:30 – 10:30 PM: Party with live music at the William Grants Still Arts Center

Sunday, June 29:

-11 AM – 1 PM: Mini-Assemblies
-1 – 2 PM: Closing Ceremony – Calls to action and reports from the mini-assemblies.

Posted in Activism/Divestment, News | Leave a Comment »

Palestine In The American Imagination: Religion, Politics And Media

Posted by uscsjp on June 22, 2008

Photo: Senator John McCain is greeted by an Ultr-Orthodox Jewish man as he arrives at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, March 19, 2008. (Source: AP)

“Abstract: A study of the political, religious and cultural factors underlying the pro-Israeli bias apparent in the Western media today, as depicted in the mainstream news and television programmes.

As Palestinians hurriedly buried their loved ones in the Gaza Strip following a deadly Israeli onslaught, which further contributed to Gaza’s worst humanitarian crisis since 1967 [1], US and Israeli celebrities rallied at a Los Angeles benefit concert for the Israeli town of Sderot, located near the border of Gaza. [2] Hollywood movie stars Sylvester Stallone, Jon Voight, Valerie Harper and comedian Larry Miller mingled with Israeli celebrities such as singer Ninet Tayeb and others. Children from the Israeli town of Sderot, which received the lion’s share of homemade Palestinian rockets, were cheerful nonetheless. Song and dance, interrupted occasionally by solemn messages of support delivered via satellite by both Republican and Democratic Presidential candidates, replaced the cries of sirens the images of huddling families in the town’s shelters. It was a bittersweet moment, that of solidarity, a renewal of the vow made too often, that Israel’s plight is that of America, and Israel’s security is an American priority, and, indeed, ‘God loves those who love Israel’.

Welcome to America’s parallel reality on Israel and Palestine, barefaced in its defying of the notions of commonsense, equality and justice, ever-insistent on peeking at the Arab-Israeli conflict from a looking glass manufactured jointly in the church, in the Congress and in the news room, where the world is reduced to characters interacting in a Hollywood-like movie set: good guys, well groomed and often white-skinned vs. bad guys bearing opposite qualities…”

–Ramzy Baroud, The Palestine Chronicle, June 20, 2008.


Posted in Analysis, History, Opinion/Editorial | Leave a Comment »

On the Future of Israel and Palestine: An Interview with Ilan Pappé and Noam Chomsky

Posted by uscsjp on June 22, 2008


Barat: Thanks for accepting this interview. Firstly I would like to ask if you are working on something at the moment that you would like to let us know about?

Ilan Pappé: I am completing several books. The first is a concise history of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the other is on the Palestinian minority in Israel and one on the Arab Jews. I am completing an edited volume comparing the South Africa situation to that of Palestine

Noam Chomsky: The usual range of articles, talks, etc.  No time for major projects right now.

Barat: A British M.P recently said that he had felt a change in the last 5 years regarding Israel. British M.Ps nowadays sign E.D.M (Early Day Motions) condemning Israel in bigger number than ever before and he told us that it was now easier to express criticism towards Israel even when talking on U.S campuses.

Also, in the last few weeks, John Dugard, independent investigator on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the U.N Human Right Council said that ‘Palestinian terror “inevitable” result of occupation,’ the European parliament adopted a resolution saying that ‘policy of isolation of the Gaza strip has failed at both the political and humanitarian level’ and the U.N and the E.U have condemned Israel use of excessive and disproportionate force in the Gaza strip.

Could we interpret that as a general shift in attitude towards Israel?…”

–CounterPunch, June 6, 2008

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Israel and Hamas agree to a ceasefire in Gaza

Posted by uscsjp on June 18, 2008

“AFTER weeks of indirect negotiations using Egyptian mediation Israel confirmed on Wednesday June 18th that it and Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza strip, had reached a ceasefire agreement. Barring a last-minute escalation, hostilities between Israel and the militant groups in Gaza will cease on the morning of June 19th.

According to reports, the two sides agreed to start with three days of calm. If that holds, Israel will allow some construction materials and merchandise into Gaza, slightly easing an economic blockade that it has imposed since Hamas wrested control of the strip from its secularist political rival, Fatah, a year ago. The next phase will be to renew talks on an exchange of Palestinian prisoners for an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who will complete two years of captivity in Gaza next week.

For a long time a ceasefire seemed unattainable. Israel had wanted Mr Shalit’s release to be part of a deal from the outset, while Hamas insisted that the ceasefire extend to the West Bank too. That both sides have agreed to allow these stages to come later is a sign of their need for some respite.

Gazan militants have rained a steady stream of Qassam rockets on to Israeli towns neighbouring the strip and have fired the occasional longer-range Grad at the coastal city of Ashkelon. The inaccurate rockets kill rarely, but keep a large population terrorised. Israel’s attacks on Gaza have been more targeted, far bloodier—some 370 Gazans dead since the beginning of this year, of whom at least 70 were children—but quite ineffectual at reducing the rocket fire.

Just as ineffectual has been Israel’s economic stranglehold. Hamas’s popularity among Palestinians in opinion polls seems to rise when Gaza is under the most pressure. But what was left of the Gazan economy, after two years of sanctions that Israel imposed on the Palestinian Authority after Hamas won an election in 2006, has been laid waste by the past year’s blockade, in which Israel has allowed in only minimal levels of humanitarian goods and fuel.

However, there is still plenty that could go wrong. While other militant groups in Gaza have indicated that they will respect the ceasefire, there are quite a few who could try to spoil it. Among them are members of Fatah. Fatah is still smarting at Hamas’s takeover last year and does not want to see anything that could strengthen it.

Moreover, the ceasefire will fall apart unless the two sides keep moving towards each others’ demands, and both are reluctant to do so. Hamas will want Israel to keep gradually lifting its economic siege, but Israel’s ultimate goal is still to weaken Hamas in favour of Fatah, with whose leader, Mahmoud Abbas, it is holding peace talks. Israel, meanwhile, wants Hamas to reduce the smuggling of weapons through tunnels under Gaza’s border with Egypt, but Hamas considers that the arms are essential to beefing itself up against a possible Israeli military incursion. In short, the ceasefire is likely to last only as long as neither side feels it is benefiting the other one too much.

If it collapses or never gets off the ground, talk will return to the possibility of a massive incursion by Israel’s army to wipe out Hamas’s military supremacy. Politicians and security officials alike have been saying recently that it is only a matter of time, but in practice they will be cautious about launching one, since the cost in lives to the Israeli army, let alone the Palestinians, could be huge.

The ceasefire deal is something of a victory for the defence minister, Ehud Barak, who has challenged Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, to step down over a corruption scandal. Overseeing a military operation would be a risk for Mr Barak when he is running for election. But the timing may not end up being in his hands.”

–The Economist, June 18, 2008

Posted in Analysis, News, Opinion/Editorial | 1 Comment »

Don’t silence Al-Jazeera English

Posted by uscsjp on June 18, 2008

“BURLINGTON, Vt.–More than 125 people gathered at Champlain College for a public forum on June 11 to discuss the issue of Burlington Telecom’s recent decision to drop Al-Jazeera English after receiving several complaints.

Burlington Telecom is a municipally owned television provider that receives Al-Jazeera English at no cost. Opponents claim that this station is anti-Israel and the ‘mouthpiece for Saddam Hussein,’ however, members of the audience stated that it is the most viewed station in Israel today.

Over 50 people from the Burlington community spoke to the board of Burlington Telecom, who oversaw the meeting. An overwhelming majority was in favor of keeping Al-Jazeera English. Greg Jankins, a Burlington resident, remarked ‘Some people may find my bright orange shorts offensive, but you don’t have to look at them.’ The issue of free speech was a central argument and many noted that since 9/11 it is nearly impossible to receive any viewpoints from the Middle East.

The main opponents of Al-Jazeera English call themselves The Defenders Council of Vermont. Members of this small right-wing group claimed that Al-Jazeera is anti-American and those who subscribe to it are as well. One woman replied, ‘Is it anti-American to want to hear another view point? Is it anti-American to want to hear about what’s happening in the Middle East?’

Others drew the conclusion that this issue is not just about free speech but is directly connected to the war on terror and the U.S.’s efforts to censor dissenting views from the Middle East. ‘This isn’t just a free speech issue, this is a civil rights issue,’ said Tristan Brosnan. With the racist attacks on Arabs and Muslims since 9/11, activists need to defend free speech and stand up against racism.

Several members of the Burlington community, including Vermonters for Just Peace in Palestine/Israel and the International Socialist Organization, helped to draft a petition and form a coalition in defense of Al-Jazeera English. Please help us keep Al-Jazeera English by signing a petition.”

–Michelle Risley, Socialist Worker, June 18, 2008


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Normalizing occupation: Syria, Israel and “peace talks”

Posted by uscsjp on June 18, 2008

“…The question that is posed to us by these talks, after all, is not whether we believe in ‘peace,’ but whether we believe that colonization can be peaceable, or that liberation must be peaceful. A rejection of ‘peace talks’ is not a rejection of peace, peaceful processes, diplomacy, or resolutions, but the rejection of the normalization of the status quo, since that is what these talks will affirm. It is worth noting that in the Syrian context, that there has been no open warfare for 40 years, that the only aggression has been instigated by Israel, and thus that there is no obvious pressing military need for such talks…”

Yaman Salahi, The Electronic Intifada, 5 June 2008

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Democracy Now: “Israel Threatens Gaza, Iran Attacks”

Posted by uscsjp on June 9, 2008

“In Israel and the Occupied Territories, Israel is threatening a new full-scale military attack on the Gaza Strip. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told reporters last week an Israeli attack is more likely than a ceasefire after Palestinian rocket fire killed an Israeli civilian. It was the eighth Israeli to die from Gaza rocket fire since Israel abandoned its Gaza settlements years ago. Israel has killed hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza and intensified the humanitarian crisis with a crippling blockade. In Gaza, Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri called Olmert’s comments a US-backed threat.

Sami Abu Zuhri: “These threats are proof that there is a new American green light to launch a new round of Zionist war against Gaza. We take these threats seriously, but these threats will not frighten us or the Palestinian people, and we will confront it with all strength.”

Meanwhile, Israel is also escalating threats against Iran. Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz has drawn criticism for saying last week an Israeli attack would be inevitable. Mofaz said, “If Iran continues with its program for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective. Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable.” It was the most direct threat against Iran from an Israeli official to date. In a letter to the Security Council, Iran protested Mofaz’s remarks, calling his statement a violation of the UN Charter barring the threat of force. Iran lodged the same complaint over comments by Senator Hillary Clinton last month that Iran would be “destroyed” if it attacked Israel.”

–Democracy Now, June 9, 2008

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The stigmatization of anything Palestinian or Arab

Posted by uscsjp on June 9, 2008

“An article recently published on the BBC’s website told of a recent controversy regarding a Dunkin’ Donuts online commercial in which an American celebrity chef appeared wearing something that resembled the traditional kuffiyeh checkered scarf. The article stated that:

‘This fashion choice incensed at least one prominent conservative blogger, who said it evoked extremist videos.

The blogger, Michelle Malkin, called the garment “a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos.”‘

Admittedly, this is not a surprising reaction to come from a conservative American blogger, but it nevertheless sounds alarm bells in the minds of those who are aware of the increasing tendency to collapse everything Arab, especially Palestinian, into the category ‘terrorist.’ Moreover, the fact that the BBC offered no alternative analysis to Malkin’s comments indicates that it implicitly accepts them, another blow to representation of elements of Arab identity in the Western mainstream media. The visceral reaction of Malkin and her supporters, who succeeded in getting the Dunkin’ Donuts commercial removed from the web, should be shown for what it really is: another attempt at denying symbols of Palestinian resistance their history, and hence their legitimacy, and thereby relegating them to the category of irrational, violent incitements to terrorism…”

–Lilith Hope, The Electronic Intifada, 5 June 2008

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Gaza Fulbrights ReInstated–New York Times and AP Commentary

Posted by uscsjp on June 9, 2008

June 8, 2008

The Lesson of the Fulbright Seven

“Seven highly qualified and carefully vetted Palestinian students from the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip will come to the United States for advanced study after all.

After reporting in The Times by Ethan Bronner drew high-level American attention, top State Department officials intervened to restore the students’ Fulbright fellowships that lower-level functionaries had notified them would be withdrawn. Israel has agreed to facilitate special exit permits.

It is a welcome victory — for the students; for Israel, which should want to see more of Gaza’s young people follow a path of hope and education rather than hopelessness and martyrdom; and for the United States, whose image in the Middle East badly needs burnishing.

It should not be the end of the story. There are hundreds of other foreign fellowship winners still trapped in Gaza by the same Israeli policy that nearly blocked the Fulbright Seven. On Thursday, an Israeli official told The Times that the government would allow a very limited number of additional students to leave Gaza to study abroad. That is a clear step in the right direction, but not enough. Gaza is home to roughly 1.5 million Palestinians. Some 600 foreign scholarship winners have been barred from leaving.

The ban on student departures is part of the wider Israeli economic blockade imposed on the civilian population of Gaza in response to Hamas rule and a steady rain of rocket attacks. This also needs to be re-examined.

Israel has a right and a duty to defend itself and to fight back against Hamas terrorism. But punishing students, and any other forms of collective punishment, will only sow more anger and hate.”

–The New York Times

Hundreds of students still stranded in Gaza

“GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — They squander their days watching TV and surfing the Web instead of studying, but it’s not for lack of discipline: Gaza students accepted at foreign universities are stuck at home because Israel and Egypt won’t let them leave the blockaded territory.

The students’ plight made headlines last week when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice interceded with Israel on behalf of seven students with prestigious Fulbright scholarships awarded by the U.S. government. But hundreds without such powerful allies will likely lose their shot at a good education, given Gaza’s sparse offerings.

The blockade, imposed after Hamas’ violent takeover of Gaza a year ago, is meant to bring down the Islamic militants and inspire Gazans to opt for a more moderate leadership.

But critics say the closure, backed by the international community, is accomplishing the opposite.

Hamas has become more entrenched and Gazans are growing more angry at the West as isolation worsens the strip’s poverty, say the critics, who include both Israelis and Palestinians. They add that Gaza is also being robbed of future leaders — the trapped students — because they can’t get the necessary training.

‘I feel that I’m lost,’ said Ahmed Nasrallah, who studied computer programming in London, but has been stuck in Gaza since a summer visit home last year. ‘I am a victim of a battle that I am not part of’…”

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