USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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

Archive for September, 2008

Electronic Intifada: Paul McCartney Israel Tour and Other Recent News

Posted by uscsjp on September 24, 2008

Israeli soldiers patrol the Old City of Hebron in the southern West Bank, September 2008. (Mamoun Wazwaz/MaanImages)

Live and let die

Imagine John Lennon is still alive and touring, and is asked to play Tel Aviv as Israel celebrates turning 60. Picture him publicly telling the Israelis where to stick their offer. Instead, he chooses to play Bethlehem to mark 60 years of dispossession of the Palestinian people. While the world’s press cover the gig, a few hundred locals turn out, bemused to see the old bespectacled former Beatle on stage in a kuffiyeh performing ‘Power to the People,’ ‘Happy Xmas (War is over),’ and ‘Give Peace a Chance.’ Millions of people in the West get a rare dose of invective from a celebrity about the catalogue of crimes being perpetrated with impunity by one of our allies. ‘Instant Karma’s gonna get you, Israel,’ he wails!

Paul McCartney, on the other hand, will be giving the first performance by a Beatle in Tel Aviv on 25 September — receiving an alleged $4.3 million — despite efforts by various groups in Palestine and internationally calling on him to boycott Israel, including the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Barrie Marshall, from Marshall Arts, a company representing Sir Paul, has replied to such concerns by saying: ‘[P]lease rest assured that Paul’s ‘Friendship First’ concert is about his music and its inherent message of friendship…”

–William Parry, The Electronic Intifada, 22 September 2008

Also from The Electronic Intifada:

Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia on the rise in Europe, decline in US
Jim Lobe, The Electronic Intifada, 21 September 2008

Israel and Palestine can still achieve peace
Mahmoud Abbas, The Electronic Intifada, 21 September 2008

Film review: “Slingshot Hip Hop”

Maureen Clare Murphy, The Electronic Intifada, 10 September 2008


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

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation: “Making the Front Page, Getting Arrested, and More from the RNC”

Posted by uscsjp on September 8, 2008

Palestine contingent of the Labor Day anti-war march on the RNC.

“Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation not only had a strong presence at the Democratic National Convention in Denver but at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in St. Paul as well. National Organizer Katherine Fuchs filed this photo essay from St. Paul after the conclusion of the RNC.

The RNC protest activities kicked off with an Iraq Veterans against the War (IVAW) march from the Minnesota State Capitol to the Excel Energy Center, home of the 2008 Republican National Convention. Katherine worked as a legal observer during this march and continued to work with IVAW members throughout the week on strengthening the ‘Dual Occupations: Wrong in Palestine, Wrong in Iraq’ framework. Most of IVAW’s members and supporters see the important links between the U.S. occupation of Iraq and U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and want to act to end both…”

–US Campaign to to End the Israeli Occupation, September 8th, 2008

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

Gaza medical workers’ strike

Posted by uscsjp on September 8, 2008

Relatives Of Palestinian patients protested against the strike [GALLO/GETTY]

“Thousands of doctors in the Gaza Strip have gone on strike in protest at what they say was the politically motivated firing of at least 50 doctors and administrators by the Hamas-run health ministry.

Government employees, medical workers and teachers affiliated with Fatah are also participating in the strike, which began on Saturday.

‘Today we have begun a total strike in the government-run health sector in the Gaza Strip and there is good participation, with 70 per cent taking part,’ an official in the health workers’ union was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

A pro-Fatah workers union said the strike could continue until Tuesday.

Hamas downplayed the strike, saying the number participating was ‘very limited’ but has threatened strip doctors of their private practices if they did not show up at public hospitals.

Basim Naeem, Hamas’s health minister, said: ‘No one, no institution and no union will be allowed to sabotage the security of Gaza’s citizens. We will not let anyone mock the health security of our citizens.’

He threatened ‘the worst form of punishment’ for those who do.

‘Poisonous calls’

Hamas has also claimed the strikes are politically motivated and blamed the rival Fatah movement, which controls the Israeli-occupied West Bank…”
–Al Jazeera, Saturday, August 30, 2008

More coverage from Al Jazeera

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Al-Arian released after 5 years to await 2nd trial

Posted by uscsjp on September 2, 2008

“McLEAN, Va. (AP) — A former Florida professor once accused of being a leading Palestinian terrorist was released from custody Tuesday for the first time in more than five years.

Sami Al-Arian was being held by immigration officials as he awaited trial on charges of refusing to testify before a grand jury about a cluster of Muslim organizations in northern Virginia. A federal judge on several occasions has expressed skepticism about the government’s contempt charges, and last week ordered immigration authorities to explain by Tuesday afternoon why they were continuing to hold Al-Arian. He was released hours before the judge’s deadline.

Al-Arian will be on home detention at his daughter’s residence in Virginia while he awaits trial.

‘We are obviously relieved and delighted,’ said Al-Arian’s lawyer, Jonathan Turley, who wouldn’t not make Al-Arian available for comment. Turley did say the release would allow Al-Arian to see his son off to college and spend the Muslim holy month of Ramadan with his family.

Federal prosecutors strongly opposed Al-Arian’s release, but wouldn’t comment Tuesday.

Al-Arian, who once taught computer science at the University of South Florida, has been in federal custody since February 2003, when federal prosecutors charged him with being a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

A jury acquitted him on some charges in 2005 and were deadlocked on others. He eventually struck a plea bargain and admitted to lesser charges of conspiring to aid the PIJ by helping a family member with links to the group get immigration benefits and by lying to a reporter about another person’s links to the PIJ.

He was sentenced to nearly five years in prison.

While serving that sentence, federal prosecutors in Virginia sought his testimony for a grand jury investigation. Al-Arian refused to testify despite immunity, and prosecutors earlier this year filed criminal contempt charges.

Al-Arian finished the sentence, and Turley argued that immigration authorities had no basis to detain Al-Arian and should either deport him to Egypt or release him pending the trial.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema last month postponed the trial after saying the government had filed charges prematurely. She also questioned whether the contempt charges violate the terms of Al-Arian’s plea agreement, which bars the Justice Department from standing in the way of Al-Arian’s deportation after he served his sentence.”

–Matthew Barakat, The Associated Press, Sept 2, 2008.

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Al-Arian Files Habeas for Release

Posted by uscsjp on September 1, 2008

“A Palestinian Arab activist and former college professor who has been in federal custody since 2003, Sami Al-Arian, is pressing a new habeas corpus petition arguing that he is being illegally detained by immigration officials. Lawyers for Al-Arian filed the petition for a habeas writ in federal court in Alexandria, Va. on Monday, according to records reviewed by The New York Sun. The pleading represents the newest chapter in a Byzantine series of legal proceedings involving the Kuwaiti-born Al-Arian, who was a leading political organizer for the Palestinian community in America before he was indicted in 2003 on charges that he served as a top official of Palestinian Islamic Jihad…”

–Josh Gerstein, The New York Sun, August 28, 2008

Also, more background provided in this March 3, 2008 piece from JURIST Forum:

The Torture of Sami Al-Arian
“JURIST Guest Columnist Perter Erlinder of William Mitchell College of Law, attorney on appeal for Dr. Sami Al Arian, says that the treatment accorded the acquitted but still detained academic Palestinian activist from Tampa – now on hunger strike and in danger of irreversible renal failure at a federal prison hospital – is abuse of power amounting to torture taking place in the United States itself under the aegis of the Bush Administration and its ‘war on terror’…”

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Gaza Updates

Posted by uscsjp on September 1, 2008

Free Gaza: Israeli Naval Vessels Firing on Unarmed Fishing Boats and Human Rights Workers

“(OFF THE COAST OF GAZA) 1 September 2008 – Israeli Naval vessels are currently firing on unarmed Palestinian fishing boats and international human rights workers off the coast of the Gaza Strip. The fishing boats are several miles off the coast of Gaza City, in Palestinian territorial waters. As of 11am (4am EST) no one had been injured, but live ammunition is still being fired in the direction of the civilian boats.
The unarmed boats went to sea at dawn this morning, in an attempt to fish in their own water. Six international human rights workers from five different countries accompanied the fishermen in the hopes that their presence would deter the Israeli military from firing on the fishermen. In the past the Israeli military has shot and killed unarmed Palestinian fishermen for trying to fish in their own waters…”

–The Free Gaza Movement, Sept 1, 2008

Egypt Closes Gaza border after thousands cross

“EL-ARISH, Egypt (AFP) — Egypt on Monday closed the border crossing between Sinai and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip after a brief opening allowed thousands in and out of the besieged territory, a security official said.

‘The border crossing has been closed and there is no agreement between Hamas and Egypt over a new date to open the crossing,’ the official told AFP.

The crossing was opened for the first time in weeks on Saturday.

In that time, ‘Egypt has allowed 4,545 Palestinians and Egyptians to cross, including 3,437 who came into Egypt and 1,108 Palestinians who headed to Gaza,’ the official said.

The people allowed to cross included hundreds of Palestinians requiring treatment in Egyptian hospitals, as well as Egyptian nationals and Palestinians holding Egyptian passports, officials said.

The Rafah crossing in southern Gaza is the territory’s only one that is not under the control of Israel, which sealed off the Gaza Strip after Hamas seized power there in June 2007.

Egypt has also refused to open the Rafah crossing permanently.”

–AFP, Sept 1, 2008

Gaza Border Opened Ahead of Ramadan

(01 Sept 08 – RV) Today is the start of the Muslim month of Ramadan.As a good will gesture to mark this month of fasting hundreds of Gaza residents crossed into Egypt over the weekend when the sealed border was opened for two days. Egypt had closed the crossing after the militant Islamic group Hamas seized control of the territory last year, confining Gaza’s 1.5 million residents to the coastal territory. Father Manuel Musallam is the only Catholic priest working in the Gaza Strip. He told us that Egypt’s gesture was ‘not enough’ to help the grave humanitarian situation in the Strip.”

–Vatican Radio, Sept 1, 2008

Israel Turns Gaza Into Prison For UConn Fulbright Scholar

“As a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip, I could not have been more proud to learn last June that I had earned a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to study in the United States.

As a child, I would wonder how televisions, computers and washing machines actually worked. I took this fascination to the Islamic University of Gaza, the only Gazan university offering a degree in electrical engineering. There, I developed an ECG monitoring system that enables patients’ hearts to be monitored at home through a personal computer and an Internet link. I won the university prize for distinguished projects for my innovation. I long dreamed of the other advances I might make after an education at the University of Connecticut, where I was scheduled to study this fall for a master’s degree in electrical engineering.

Now, my dream has been stolen from me. I am devastated; my parents heartbroken…”

–Zohair M. Abu Shabanm, The Hartford Courant, August 30, 2008,0,1352352.story

Olympic Follies and Triumphs

“…When four Palestinian athletes marched with the Palestinian flag into the Olympic Games in Beijing it was a statement, a declaration of sorts, that Palestinians insist on their right to exist on equal footing with the rest of the world, to raise their flag without fear and wear their country’s name spelled out the way it should be, not as a Palestinian Authority but as Palestine. The 1.5 million Palestinians living in besieged Gaza must have savoured that moment more than anyone else. One from amongst them, Nader Al-Masri, had a big smile on his face as he marched, nervously but proudly. Gaza lived a moment of freedom that day, one that even Israel couldn’t take away…”

–Ramzy Baroud, Z Net, August 30, 2008

Gaza Palestinians Arrive to Cyprus

“LARNACA, Cyprus (AP) — International protesters who defied Israel’s blockade of Gaza to aid Palestinians sailed into Cyprus’ Larnaca port late Friday, pledging to make a return voyage…”

–The Associated Press, August 29, 2008

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