USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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

Archive for March, 2009

Israel’s South Africa Moment and other Recent News

Posted by uscsjp on March 23, 2009

EUs approach: Israel suffers no consequences for its actions and the Palestinians are generously granted the right to barely survive. (Pepijn van Houwelingen, link to EI)

EU's approach: Israel suffers no consequences for its actions and the Palestinians are generously granted the right to barely survive. (Pepijn van Houwelingen, link to EI)

Our South Africa Moment has Arrived

As Israel shifts steadily to the fanatic, racist right, as the latest parliamentary election results have shown, Palestinians under its control are increasingly being brutalized by its escalating colonial and apartheid policies, designed to push them out of their homeland to make a self-fulfilling prophecy out of the old Zionist canard of ‘a land without a people.’ In parallel, international civil society, according to numerous indicators, is reaching a turning point in its view of Israel as a pariah state acting above the law of nations and in its effective action, accordingly, to penalize and ostracize it as it did to apartheid South Africa…”

–Omar Barghouti, The Electronic Intifada, 19 March, 2009

Euros do not buy the Palestinians political rights

The carnage of Israel’s recent invasion of Gaza spurred great numbers of dismayed Europeans to participate in demonstrations against the war. In major cities such as Madrid, Brussels, Rome, Berlin and London, tens of thousands took part in demonstrations to make clear to their governments that what was happening was unacceptable. Yet, their objections to Israel’s massive use of deadly force were not reflected in the declarations and actions of their countries, as represented by Europe’s most significant political body, the European Union, which did not alter its policy of status quo relations with Israel.

It is true that the EU did condemn Israel’s conduct (always mentioned in conjunction with Palestinian rocket fire) and called for an immediate ceasefire, something which the United States unsurprisingly fell short of. In addition, various members of the European Parliament expressed their outrage over the destruction of Gaza. British liberal-democrat Chris Davies, for example, said during a 14 January parliamentary debate that the war was ‘evil’ and that Israel had ‘turned Gaza into hell’ with its ’21st-century killing machines.’

Despite these and other remarks, however, the EU undertook no action that could have been perceived as even vaguely critical of Israel and much effort was put into not ‘singling out’ the country…”
Pepijn van Houwelingen, The Electronic Intifada, 23 March, 2009

Democracy Now!: Israel Promises Internal Probe After Soldiers Describe Civilian Killings, Lax Rules of Engagement in Gaza Attack

“JUAN GONZALEZ: The Israeli Military Advocate General has for the first time called for criminal inquiries into the conduct of Israeli troops in Gaza. The request came in response to soldiers’ testimonies that described loose rules of engagement, troops firing on unarmed civilians, and troops intentionally vandalizing property during the three-week assault on Gaza. The soldiers’ accounts are published in the Israeli daily Haaretz and based on statements made a month ago by graduates of the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military preparatory course.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel Radio that the incidents would be examined and added, quote, ‘We have the most moral army in the world.’

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now on the line from Gaza by Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass.

Amira, welcome to Democracy Now! The Haaretz newspaper describing this as a several day exposé, Israeli soldiers in their own words, talk about its significance.

AMIRA HASS: Its significance, of course, is that the soldiers actually confirm what Palestinians have been telling for the past three months, and journalists who listen to Palestinians and believe Palestinians and know their work of taking affidavits and testimonies from Palestinians have done so during the last three months. This is the main importance, because it’s—we don’t know the exact locations of this.

And it’s not the only—it’s not the only incident. Some Israelis might get the impression that the soldiers who spoke spoke about the only incident of killing civilians and of very lenient—lenient rules of engagement, and this is not true. The whole attack—the three weeks of attack were characterized by these attacks on—almost indiscriminate attacks on civilians, attacks on people who carried white flags, attacks on rescue teams, not to mention the attacks from the air at whole civilian neighborhoods.

So I would say that—of course, it was not my report. Haaretz did a great job at putting a lot of emphasis to this testimonies of soldiers. It drew attention to what many Israelis managed to ignore during the last three months…”

Democracy Now!, 20 March, 2009

See Also:

Palestinian Doctor, Peace Advocate Recounts Israeli Attack on Home that Killed 3 Daughters, Niece

Democracy Now!, 20 March, 2009

Corrie: Rachel, Tristan & Palestine

By Cindy Corrie and Craig Corrie

“We thank all who continue to remember Rachel and who, on this sixth anniversary of her stand in Gaza, renew their own commitments to human rights, justice and peace in the Middle East. The tributes and actions in her memory are a source of inspiration to us and to others.

Friday, 13 March, we learned of the tragic injury to American activist Tristan Anderson. Tristan was shot in the head with a tear gas canister in Nilin village in the West Bank when Israeli forces attacked a demonstration opposing the construction of the annexation wall through the village’s land. On the same day, a Nilin resident was shot in the leg with live ammunition. Four residents of Nilin have been killed in the past eight months as villagers and their supporters have courageously demonstrated against the Apartheid Wall deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice — a wall that will ultimately absorb one-quarter of the village’s remaining land.

Those who have died are 10-year-old child Ahmed Mousa, shot in the forehead with live ammunition on 29 July 2008; Yousef Amira (17), shot with rubber-coated steel bullets on 30 July 2008; Arafat Rateb Khawaje (22) and Mohammed Khawaje (20), both shot and killed with live ammunition on 8 December 2008. On this anniversary, Rachel would want us all to hold Tristan Anderson and his family and these Palestinians and their families in our thoughts and prayers, and we ask everyone to do so.

We are writing this message from Cairo where we returned after a visit to Gaza with the Code Pink delegation from the United States. Fifty-eight women and men successfully passed through Rafah crossing on Saturday, 7 March to challenge the border closures and siege and to celebrate International Women’s Day with the strong and courageous women of Gaza…”

–The Electronic Intifada, 17 March 2009


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Obama Conditions Palestinian Aid on Recognizing Israel’s “Right to Exist”

Posted by uscsjp on March 23, 2009

Recently On Democracy Now!

US Complains to Israel on Gaza Blockade

“The US has again complained to Israel over the blockade of aid supplies to the Gaza Strip. The State Department agency USAID says Israel has prevented goods including jam, toothpaste and toilet paper. On Thursday, Israel rejected a shipment of tuna, canned meat, diapers, wet wipes, sterile gauze, blankets, candles and flashlights.

Hamas Criticizes Rocket Attacks

In other news from Gaza, the Hamas government has criticized recent rocket attacks at nearby Israeli towns. In a statement, Hamas said the rockets have not been fired by its resistance fighters and vowed to find those responsible. The Israeli government cited Palestinian rocket fire as the reason for its assault on Gaza, even though it was Israel that broke the ceasefire with a deadly November 4th attack. The news comes as a leading Palestinian human rights group has officially increased its count of the Palestinian death toll from the Gaza assault. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights says 1,434 Palestinians were killed, up from the previous toll of 1,300. The center says 960 of the dead were civilians…”

–Democracy Now!, 13 March, 2009

Obama Conditions Palestinian Aid on Recognizing Israel’s “Right to Exist”

“In Israel and the Occupied Territories, the Obama administration has announced it will withdraw its entire $900 million aid pledge if the pending Palestinian unity government doesn’t recognize Israel’s ‘right to exist.’ The warning was reportedly delivered by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last week. Clinton told Abbas the US Congress won’t approve Palestinian aid unless the Palestinian government also renounces violence. No such conditions have been imposed on Israel. The Israeli government refuses to renounce violence and has never recognized the right of Palestine to exist. Palestinians have also criticized the demand they recognize Israel’s ‘right to exist’ because it forces them to go beyond recognizing Israel within secure borders, but in fact affirm the legitimacy of their dispossession and ongoing occupation…

–Democracy Now!,

What the Chas Freeman Fight Was Really About


“The possibility that Chas Freeman was brought down by an ad hoc operation run on a shoestring by a rogue ex-AIPAC official, Steven Rosen, awaiting trial on espionage charges, working the political and media pipe organ like the neo-conservatives did in the run-up to the Iraq war, is an indication that the guns are in place, the mines are laid, and—more disturbingly—that the Obama administration wandered into the battlefield bereft of a plan, arms, or allies close at hand and got its hat handed to it.

There’s understandable handwringing on thoughtful foreign policy blogs that hoped Freeman taking over something called the National Intelligence Council would lead to a more sensible, less reflexively pro-Israel stance on Middle East issues.

Of course, AIPAC has not endeared itself or its patron to the Obama administration by spearheading a nasty, humiliating, and successful battle to bar a high-level and qualified nominee from a significant post. Take for example the blog post by the Israel Policy Forum’s M.J Rosenberg:

The campaign to defeat Chas Freeman… may come at a cost. The perception, almost universally held, that he was brought down because he is a strong and vocal opponent of Israel’s West Bank and settlement policies is, not good for the Jewish community and the pro-Israel community in particular. … What does it all mean? …[An] insider I spoke to last night said: ‘This was a real pyrrhic victory. One, the administration is pissed off. And, two, Obama is going to be more determined than ever to take a strong stand on settlements, Gaza relief, and negotiations. They shot their wad on Freeman. They will not think that was so smart a few months from now.’

Let me tell you what it all means, MJ. As far as Israel’s lobbying position in Washington, zip.

Israel’s access to buckets of U.S. money and shiploads of arms is secure as long as the grass grows and the rivers run, no matter what it does with settlements on the West Bank or to the people of Gaza.

The real significance of the fight against Freeman takes us away from the traditional need to affirm the right of Israel to exist, enjoy America’s commitment to its continued survival, and consume its yearly entitlement from the U.S. budget. It has everything to do with trying to disrupt Obama’s initiative to engage with Iran — an initiative that has the active encouragement of Russia, probably tacit support from China, and the active interest of Iran itself…”

–CounterPunch, 13 March, 2009

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Obama Administration Continues to Isolate Hamas and Send Aid to Israel

Posted by uscsjp on March 8, 2009

U.S. Military Aid to Israel


“In these days of economic crisis, budget overruns, earmarks, and multi-billion dollar bailouts, when Americans are being forced to tighten their own belts, one of the most automatic earmarks—a bailout by any measure—goes to a foreign government but is little understood by most Americans.  U.S. military aid to Israel is doled out in annual increments of billions of dollars but remains virtually unchallenged while other fiscal outlays are drastically cut.

The United States and Israel signed a Memorandum of Understanding in August 2007 committing the U.S. to give Israel $30 billion in military aid over the next decade.  This is grant aid, given in cash at the start of each fiscal year.  The only stipulation imposed on Israel’s use of this cash gift is that it spend 74 per cent to purchase U.S. military goods and services.

The first grant under this agreement was made in October 2008, for FY2009, in the amount of $2.55 billion.  To bring the total 10-year amount to $30 billion, amounts in future years will gradually increase until an annual level of $3.1 billion is reached in FY2013.  This will continue through FY2018.

Israel is by far the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid.  Since 1949, the United States has provided Israel with $101 billion in total aid, of which $53 billion has been military aid.  For the last 20-plus years, Israel has received an average of $3 billion annually in grant aid;, until now the grant has been a mix of economic and military aid…”

CounterPunch, 5  March 2009

EI: Did Clinton sabotage a Palestinian reconciliation?

“Still reeling from the Israeli massacres in the occupied Gaza Strip, Palestinians have lately had little to celebrate. So the strong start to intra-Palestinian reconciliation talks in Cairo last week provided a glimmer of hope.

An end to the schism between the resistance and the elected but internationally-boycotted Hamas government on the one hand, and the Western-backed Fatah faction on the other, seemed within reach. But the good feeling came to a sudden end after what looked like a coordinated assault by United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, European Union High Representative Javier Solana, and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas whose term as president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) expired on 9 January.

On Friday 27 February, the leaders of 13 Palestinian factions, principal among them Hamas and Fatah, announced they had set out a framework for reconciliation. In talks chaired by Egypt’s powerful intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, the Palestinians established committees to discuss forming a ‘national unity government,’ reforming the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to include all factions, legislative and presidential elections, reorganizing security forces on a nonpolitical basis, and a steering group comprised of all faction leaders. Amid a jubilant mood, the talks were adjourned until 10 March.

Then the blows began to strike the fragile Palestinian body politic. The first came from Clinton just before she boarded her plane to attend a summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh ostensibly about pledging billions in aid to rebuild Gaza…”

Hasan Abu Nimah and Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 4 March 2009

Palestinian Astrophysicist in US Reunited with Wife & Three Remaining Children After Story of His 11-Year-Old Son’s Death in Israeli Air Strike Broadcast on Democracy Now!

“Suleiman Baraka is a Palestinian astrophysicist working at Virginia Tech with NASA. His eleven-year-old son Ibrahim was killed in an air strike during Israel’s three-week assault on Gaza. After he first told his story on Democracy Now!, the US consulate in Jerusalem contacted him and got his surviving family members out of Gaza. This weekend, at Washington, D.C.’s Dulles Airport, he was reunited with his wife and three remaining children. We take you to the bittersweet reunion…”

Democracy Now!, 3 March 2009

See also:

Focus on Gaza

“Al Jazeera’s recent coverage of Israel’s war on Gaza was unparalleled. The network was the only international broadcaster with reporters on both sides of the border, in Israel and Gaza.

The war may now be over but the human suffering continues. Focus on Gaza is a new weekly show that will examine all facets of life in the Gaza Strip.

Presented by Imran Garda, the programme will bring all the latest news and devolopments in Gaza and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Al Jazeera will also showcase family life in the densely populated area that some describe as the world’s largest open prison.

Focus on Gaza features Al Jazeera’s team in the territory, including correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin, as we continue to lead the way in covering one of the world’s most intractable conflicts….”

–Al Jazeera English, 28 February, 2009

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