USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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

Archive for November, 2008

Little to Give Thanks for in Gaza

Posted by uscsjp on November 28, 2008

Palestinians wait to fix their old portable “primus” stoves which burn diesel fuel at a shop in the Beach refugee camp in Gaza City, 25 November 2008. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages; provided courtesy of The Electronic Intifada)

“What kind of government in the 21st century can deny another people basic human rights — that is, the right to food, water, shelter, security and dignity?

What kind of government imposes draconian sanctions on another people for democratically electing a government not to its liking?

What kind of government seals a heavily populated territory of 1.5 million people so that no person can enter or leave without permission, fishermen cannot fish in their own waters, and world food aid cannot be delivered to the starving population?

What kind of government shuts off fuel, water and electricity and then rains down on the people, bombs and artillery fire?

The answer is: no government of integrity.

And yet, government after government in Israel continues to demand recognition and accolades as a first world democracy superior to all others, despite Israel’s flouting of international law, its human rights abuses and the criminality and corruption of Israeli leaders. Worse still, the world has acquiesced and has welcomed every Israeli administration into its fold as a favored guest…

–The Electronic Intifada, November 27, 2008


Also from The Electonic Intifada: UN aid chief says Gaza people “stripped of their dignity”

“The Electronic Intifada’s correspondent in Gaza, Rami Almeghari, sat down with UNRWA Chief of Operations in the Gaza Strip, John Ging, to discuss how the siege, and the latest closures are affecting UNRWA and the civilian population in Gaza. UNRWA is the UN agency responsible for providing aid to millions of Palestinian refugees. On 4 November, Israel sent tanks into the Gaza Strip and carried out attacks which killed six Palestinians, breaking a ceasefire that had generally held since June. Palestinian militias retaliated by firing rockets at Israel. Since then Israel has tightened its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The Electronic Intifada: Mr. Ging, How do you describe the situation in the Gaza Strip under strict Israeli closure for more than two weeks now?

John Ging: The situation is very desperate at the humanitarian level, I mean people have been stripped of their dignity here, it is a struggle to survive for every body…”

–The Electronic Intifada, November 25, 2008


Also, see the latest from the Free Gaza Movement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  Date : 11-27-2008

Thursday 27th November, 2008 – Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Palestine
Three Palestinian trawling vessels confiscated by Israeli naval forces whilst fishing in Gazan territorial waters on 18th November were returned today. Fifteen Palestinian fishermen were also abducted during the operation but have since been released.
The fishing boats, held in Ashdod, were transferred into Palestinian waters six nautical miles offshore at approximately 16:00 Gaza time and reached the port of Gaza City shortly before 18:00.
This action follows an appeal filed yesterday in the Israeli Supreme Court on behalf of the vessels’ owners for the return of their property. Lawyers intended to challenge the arbitrary limits imposed on Gazan fishermen by the Israeli navy which contravene prior agreements and international regulations.
The boats’ captains reported damage to their vessels – indeed one trawler had to be towed in by a second due to engine damage. Equipment such as GPS devices were also missing. The fishermen’s loss of earnings over the last ten days is still being estimated.
The three human rights observers from the International Solidarity Movement who were accompanying the fishermen at the time of the Israeli assault were held at Maasiyahu detention centre in Ramle, despite charges never having been brought against them. All have now been illegally deported by the Israeli authorities. Vittorio Arrigoni was deported to Italy on Sunday 23rd November, Andrew Muncie to the UK on Tuesday 25th and Darlene Wallach to the US early on Thursday.

The Free Gaza Movement, November 27, 2008

Related Stories from Democracy Now:

US Activist Detained in Israeli Jail Condemns Blockade of Gaza

“Israel’s tightened blockade of a million and a half Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is now entering its third week. On Monday, the Israeli navy seized fifteen Palestinian fishermen and three international activists off the coast of Gaza. The fishermen were released, but the activists remain in an Israeli jail. We speak to Darlene Wallach from inside the Masiyahu Prison near Tel Aviv…”

–Democracy Now, November 21, 2008


South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the Election of Barack Obama, the Israeli Blockade of Gaza, US Foreign Policy under President Bush and More

“South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu is one of the leading voices for peace, justice and human rights around the world. He was a central figure in the South African struggle against apartheid and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. Today he will receive the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding for his work for peace in South Africa and elsewhere…”

–Democracy Now, November 21, 2008

Finally a new Dahr Jamail piece

  “…On November 16 it was reported that Obama is pursuing an ambitious peace plan in the Middle East that involves the recognition of Israel by the Arab world in exchange for its withdrawal to pre-1967 borders.

     Yet, the first appointment he made was of Rahm Israel Emanuel as his White House Chief of Staff, easily the most powerful office in the executive branch. In the 1940s Rahm’s father, Benjamin, helped smuggle weapons to the Irgun, the Zionist militia of former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The Irgun carried out numerous terrorist attacks on Palestinian civilians, including the bombing of Jerusalem’s King David Hotel in 1946…”

–Dahr Jamail, Truthout, November 26, 2008


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Renewed Punishment of Gaza

Posted by uscsjp on November 18, 2008

Relatives mourn for Hamas militants killed last week in the southern Gaza Strip (LA Times).

Relatives mourn for Hamas members killed last week in the southern Gaza Strip (LA Times).

Israel sends tanks into Gaza

“Jerusalem Israeli tanks entered the southern Gaza Strip yesterday, drawing mortar fire from Palestinian militants and undermining a tenuous truce. The tanks, backed by a bulldozer, drove 500 metres into the strip and levelled earth near Rafah, Gaza’s southeastern border crossing with Egypt. Israel said that the operation was mounted to uncover explosives, while the Palestinians accused Israel of trying to increase violence. The latest fighting began two weeks ago and there is now a near-daily cycle of mortar attacks on southern Israeli towns and Israeli airstrikes in Gaza. At least 17 Palestinians have died, and several Israelis have been wounded..”

November 19, 2008

Foreign Reporters’ Group Fights Israeli Prohibition on Entering Gaza

“An association representing international news organizations is campaigning for an end to an unusual Israeli policy barring foreign reporters from entering Gaza that has lasted for almost two weeks… Mr. Dror added that he was not ‘shedding tears’ over the journalists’ frustration. He said that Israel, in any case, considered much of their previous coverage from Gaza unfair…”

–New York Times, November 18, 2008

UN condemns Israel for Gaza closure

“The United Nations has criticised Israel’s closure of the Gaza crossings as a ‘direct contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law’.

The charge by Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, came as Israel moved to re-seal the crossings into the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, a day after allowing trucks carrying aid into the besieged coastal territory.

‘It must end now,’ Pillay said in a statement released in Geneva on Tuesday.

‘Only a full lifting of the blockade followed by a strong humanitarian response will be adequate to relieve the massive humanitarian suffering evident in Gaza today’…”

–Al Jazeera English, November 18, 2008

See also:

Gaza flare-up threatens truce

“…Clashes began on November 4 when Israeli forces killed six Hamas fighters in a raid to destroy a secret supply tunnel.

Israeli troops shot dead four Hamas gunmen in a further incursion on Wednesday, and Hamas responded with more rocket and mortar attacks, ratcheting up tensions in what Ayman Taha, a Hamas spokesman, called a ‘dangerous escalation’.

Short of fuel, Palestinian officials shut down Gaza’s sole power plant on Thursday, causing partial blackouts in Gaza City…”

–Al Jazeera English, November 15, 2008

Israel executes four in Gaza; siege affects access to drinking water

“The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continued to seal off the Gaza Strip for the eleventh day in a row, in an escalation of the collective punishment of Gaza’s population imposed since 2000. The IOF resumed its military attacks and killed four Palestinians this morning in an air strike in east Gaza.

The humanitarian conditions have quickly deteriorated in the Gaza Strip as Israel’s tight siege has affected all aspects of Palestinians’ lives and violated their human rights, which are protected by international human rights and international humanitarian law.

Gaza’s power plant has suspended its work for the third day in a row due to lack of fuel necessary to run it. Hospitals and clinics are greatly affected. Not only do they suffer from suspension of surgery sections and intensive care unis, but also from the damage to vaccines and serums that are preserved in refrigerators. Moreover, tens of thousands of Palestinians suffer from a severe shortage of drinking water, especially those who live in tall buildings and have no access to water even when municipalities manage to pump water to their area…”

Press release, Al Mezan, 16 November 2008

Israel-Gaza border clash kills 4 Palestinians

“Reporting from Gaza City and Jerusalem — A 5-month-old truce along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip came under new strain Wednesday after an armed clash there, the second in just over a week, left four Palestinian gunmen dead.

The fighting raised the possibility that the truce will break down or will not be renewed when it expires next month, bringing a new round of heavy fighting in the region as the United States and Israel change administrations…”

–LA Times, November 13, 2008,0,5211937.story?track=rss

Posted in Analysis, News, Opinion/Editorial | 3 Comments »

Peres: Obama ‘very impressed’ by Arab League peace plan; Sabra and Shatila ‘animated documentary’

Posted by uscsjp on November 18, 2008

“LONDON – U.S. President-elect Barack Obama proclaimed himself ‘very impressed’ with the Arab League’s peace plan when he discussed it with President Shimon Peres during a brief visit to Israel four months ago, Peres said Tuesday.

Peres, who had just arrived in London for an official visit, made the comment in interviews to be published in the British media. He was responding to questions about whether he thought Obama would advance the Middle East peace process in general and the Arab League’s plan in particular.

But he denied a Sunday Times report earlier this week which claimed that Obama had said Israel would be ‘crazy’ to reject the Arab initiative…”

Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz, November 19 2008

War, death and animation: Cartoon film stirs Israel’s conscience

“Until a matter of months ago, very few Israelis realised that their army fired flares to light up Beirut’s Sabra and Shatila refugee camps while Lebanese Christian militiamen committed the notorious massacre of Palestinian civilians there in 1982.

But Ari Folman, who as a 19-year-old soldier fired some of the flares, makes their descent through the sky over Beirut’s beachfront one of the recurring images of Waltz With Bashir, his ‘animated documentary’ that premiers in Britain this week.

In Israel, the film has rekindled discussion about the divisive invasion of Lebanon that was initially billed by Ariel Sharon, who was defence minister at the time, as a limited push to halt PLO rocket attacks, and the extent of Israeli responsibility for the Sabra and Shatila massacre where the estimated number of victims ranged from 700 to more than 3,000. Folman has said he had no idea the massacre was being committed when he shot the flares.

The killings by Phalangist militiamen dispatched into the camps by Israel came after their leader, Bashir Gemayel, president-elect of Lebanon, was assassinated in a bombing wrongly blamed on Palestinians. An Israeli state commission of inquiry set up as a result of a tide of public protest in the massacre’s wake found that Mr Sharon, today comatose from a stroke nearly three years ago, bore ‘personal responsibility’ for not having foreseen the danger that the Phalangists would commit the slaughter. He was forced to give up the defence portfolio, something that did not prevent him from being elected as premier in 2001 and re-elected in 2003. Lebanon, for its part, has never seriously investigated the massacre…”

–Ben Lynfield, The Independent, November 17, 2008

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Israel Opens Gaza Border; Rahm Emanuel Apologizes for Father’s Remarks

Posted by uscsjp on November 15, 2008

Israel Briefly Opens Gaza Border Crossing

“Israel temporarily opened a border crossing with Gaza today to allow a limited supply of humanitarian aid to reach the territory. Thirty trucks, including eleven from the United Nations, were allowed to travel into Gaza. On Friday, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency announced it had run out of food and was unable to replenish storage facilities because of the Israeli blockade. The UN provides food aid to 750,000 Palestinians. Israel says the blockade is needed because Palestinian militants continue to fire rockets at nearby Israeli towns.”

–Democracy Now, Nov 17, 2008

Obama aide apologises to US-Arabs

“Benjamin Emanuel told an Israeli newspaper that his son, who is Jewish, would ‘obviously influence the president to be pro-Israel’. He also referred to Arabs in a way which a leading Arab-American group called an ‘unacceptable smear’. A spokesman for Rahm Emanuel said he had called the group to apologise.

Mr Emanuel also offered to meet members of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. In the interview last week with the Israeli daily newspaper Ma’ariv, Israeli-born Benjamin Emanuel talked about his son’s new job.

Anger at remarks

He said: ‘Obviously he’ll influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn’t he? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to be mopping floors at the White House’…”

–BBC, Nov 14, 2008

See also:

Rahm Emanuel Apologizes for Paternal Insult of Arabs

“Exactly 48 years ago in Atlantic City (on Nov. 16, 1960), Rabbi Bernard Bergman, president of the Religious Zionists of America, made a plea to President-elect John F. Kennedy: Time to get the Israelis and the Arabs together for some peace negotiating. Not a bad idea after two wars in 12 years. Specifically, the rabbi said, Kennedy, once president, should do everything in his power to get then-Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser to the same table. Bergman was addressing the annual National Convention of the Religious Zionists of America at the Chelsea Hotel in Atlantic City.

Wonderful sentiments and worthy aims, you might tell yourself. Especially in light of what we know happened in the intervening 48 years. Imagine if Kennedy had taken just such initiative. He didn’t. He wasn’t interested in the Middle East.

But wait. There was something more about those wonderful sentiments by the rabbi, once he got done with the obvious. According to an account in The New York Times, ‘Rabbi Bergman said the Arab countries would benefit from Israel’s great store of trained personnel if they abandoned their “foolhardy and nonsensical program of bestiality, venom and rancor toward Israel.” ‘

Was the rabbi kidding us? Bestiality? It gets worse…”

–Pierre Tristam, Guide to Middle East Issues, Nov 16, 2008

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

Democracy Now: Gaza Again Plunged into Darkness, Hunger as Israel Blocks Fuel, Food to Suffering Population

Posted by uscsjp on November 12, 2008

“Gaza’s humanitarian crisis has worsened in the aftermath of Israel’s latest blockade of fuel and food. We speak to Diana Buttu, a former lawyer for the Palestinian Authority, and Reverend Edwin “Eddie” Makue of the South African Council of Churches, a veteran of South Africa’s apartheid struggle. They are on an “anti-apartheid” speaking tour across the US for the next two weeks…”

–Democracy Now, Nov 12, 2008

Also from Democracy Now:

“UN: Food Aid to Gaza Dwindles Amidst Israeli Blockade

In Israel and the Occupied Territories, the UN humanitarian agency is warning it’s running out of food because of the latest Israeli fuel blockade of the Gaza Strip. The UN is responsible for feeding 750,000 Palestinians in Gaza. Israel says it’s imposed the latest blockade in response to Palestinian rocket fire, which came after an Israeli missile attack that killed six people last week. The UN says Israel has blocked several humanitarian shipments, including one to a school for blind children. UN spokesperson Christopher Gunness told Al Jazeera, ‘These blind children, as far as I am aware, are not firing rockets…Hundreds of thousands of ordinary people, including blind children who would have been assisted, are effectively being punished.’ Meanwhile, outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said a full-scale Israeli attack on Gaza is only a matter of time. Olmert made the comments Tuesday at an Israeli army base near Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: ‘We’re in no hurry, but we know very well that the moment of confrontation will eventually come. The question is not whether there will be a confrontation, but when it will take place, under what circumstances, and who will control these circumstances, who will dictate them, and who will know to exploit the time from the beginning of the ceasefire until the moment of confrontation in the best possible way.’

–Democracy Now, Nov 12, 2008

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Gazans and Israelis “Vote” Obama: Editorials from Free Gaza and The Jerusalem Post

Posted by uscsjp on November 3, 2008

Gaza Votes Obama

“As the U.S. Presidential campaign enters its final days, Palestinians in Gaza are closely following the polls. Televisions in many homes and shops are tuned to 24 hour news stations, focusing almost entirely on the campaign.

Most people in Gaza are rooting for Democratic candidate Barack Obama. Sameh, a local political organizer, explained his interest in the election by saying, ‘I totally support Obama. He’s the lesser of the two evils because, from the 1990s, his stances and actions are in support of the Palestinians. So I believe that his real positions are different from what he has to do and say for the Presidency. The suffering of black people is embodied in him, so we hope he will care about the suffering of other people.’

Hatem, a relief worker in Gaza City, agrees. ‘I support Obama simply because McCain is very bad, a bad person,’ said Hatem. ‘In the last years [the Republicans] have made all these terrible things, and they have almost destroyed the world. Obama comes from Africa, where people have witnessed a lot of difficult times, so a person coming from such a background is expected to do good things for America and the world. I know that generally U.s. policy is pro-Israel, but sometimes you can get people who try to do better. Obama will support Israel, but it may be that he will also support Palestinians a little as well’…”

–Ramzi Kysia, The Free Gaza Movement,  November 2, 2008

A conservative, pro-Israel view: Martin Indyk in the Jerusalem Post

“On Tuesday, American Jews have an opportunity to make history by helping to elect Barack Obama president of the United States. As a wholehearted supporter of Hillary Clinton in the primaries, this is not the history I had originally hoped to make, but it is now an opportunity I enthusiastically embrace.

My journey began with Hillary’s injunction to ‘support Barack Obama.’ First, I attended the AIPAC policy conference to listen to his speech on the morning after he clinched the nomination. All the usual pro-Israel rhetoric was there, but something else distinguished the speech and the candidate.

First, Obama clearly articulated his understanding that Iran’s nuclear program represented a grave threat, and that if he became president he would do everything in his power to prevent Teheran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He explained that he would first try tougher economic sanctions, combined with direct diplomatic engagement with Iran’s government. If that failed, it would at least make the other options, including the possible use of force, more acceptable at home and abroad…”

–Martin Indyk, The Jerusalem Post, November 1, 2008.

Also, from Democracy Now:

Israel to Cut Off Funding to Unsanctioned Settlements

“Israel has decided to cut off funding for unsanctioned settlement outposts in the West Bank after a series of clashes between Jewish settlers and Israeli security forces. The decision applies to more than 100 so-called ‘wildcat’ colonies that have been built on Palestinian land in the West Bank. Tension between the settlers and the Israeli government has deteriorated in recent weeks. One rabbi at at a settlement in the West Bank compared the Israeli security forces to ‘the Nazis in Poland’ during World War II. Meanwhile, the head of Israel’s domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet told the cabinet he is ‘extremely worried’ that right-wing extremists may attempt to carry out assassinations ahead of general elections in February. One Israeli cabinet minister said, ‘The settlers don’t think like us. Their thought is messianic, mystic, satanic and irrational.’ November 10th marks the thirteenth anniversary of the death of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated at a Tel Aviv peace rally by a Jewish extremist.”

–Democracy Now, Nov 3, 2008.

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Bombarded by bombs: Free Gaza Movement Updates

Posted by uscsjp on November 1, 2008

The Free Gaza Movement)

The Dignity Arrives in Gaza (Image: The Free Gaza Movement)

“We were overjoyed when our boat, SS DIGNITY, landed safely at the port of Gaza this week.  Yesterday some of our passengers accompanied five Gazan fishing boats as they ventured out within their own territorial water in Gaza hopes of making a good catch to provide food and income for their families.

While the Oslo agreement gave Gaza a 20 mile limit, the people of Gaza have never asked for more than the 12 miles which are standard under international law. After the elections in Palestine,  Israel arbitrarily announced, as part of its blockade to punish Palestinians for democratically electing the wrong party, that it was cutting the limit to 6 miles.

Since our first Free Gaza boat landed in late August, internationals have often accompanied fishermen within their own territorial waters,  Every day Israeli gunboats with nothing better to do, menace and attack at will, using live ammunition and high-powered cannons to damage or destroy these humble boats.  One of our human rights observers and several Palestinians have been injured.

Yesterday we in Cyprus received repeated distress signals saying ‘help, help, help, help’  from one of the boats which was under attack.  When one of our colleagues in Israel called the Israeli military to protest, the response was ‘They have plenty of food; why do they need to go fishing?’

Thankfully the damaged fishing  boat made it safely back to shore, and we have good audio and video coverage of the hours-long attack.

We are hoping to send the SS DIGNITY back to Gaza within the next two weeks.”

–Mary Hughes-Thompson,  The Free Gaza Movement, November 01, 2008

Follow media coverage of the Free Gaza Movement at their website:

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