USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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

Archive for June, 2009

Free Gaza Aid Boat Attacked, Activists Kidnapped

Posted by uscsjp on June 30, 2009

From the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation:

“Today the Israeli navy attacked and kidnapped the passengers and crew of the Free Gaza boat, The Spirit of Humanity, including US Campaign Advisory Board member Huwaida Arraf.

The Free Gaza Movement, which has organized several humanitarian deliveries to the Port of Gaza via their fleet of Cypriot boats, had one ship, the Dignity, rammed by the Israeli navy in December.  Now, the Spirit of Humanity is being towed to Israel, where the crew and passengers expect to be handed over to the Israeli border patrol. Take action to have these humanitarian aid workers released.

The July 9th anniversaries are even more important in light of the capture of the Spirit of Humanity. The ICJ ruling makes clear that Palestinians do have rights to their land and to freedom from life in the sort of open-air prison that the Gaza strip has become.  While Free Gaza boats represent a form of direct engagement to support human rights in Palestinian territory, boycott and divestment act as the other side of the coin, nonviolently pressuring Israel to live up to its responsibilities under international law.

Take Action

Click here to send an email to the Israeli Prime Minister’s office, the Israeli Defense Ministry, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, and your Members of Congress demanding that The Spirit of Humanity’s passengers and crew are released!

You can also use our website to find out how to get involved in July 9th activities in your area.  Click here to take action for boycott and divestment online.  Click here to learn more about how you can get the global boycott and divestment movement into the media.  Click here to find out about July 9th events in your area or click here to find out how to join the US Campaign at our two Washington, D.C. anniversary events…”

–US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, 30 June, 2009

Ezra Nawi, a Jewish Israeli, helped Palestinians set up an outpost adorned with the Palestinian colors, above, to protest an illegal Israeli settlement (source: NY Times)

Ezra Nawi, a Jewish Israeli, helped Palestinians set up an outpost adorned with the Palestinian colors, above, to protest an illegal Israeli settlement (source: NY Times)

From The New York Times:

Unlikely Ally for Residents of West Bank

“SAFA, West Bank — Ezra Nawi was in his element. Behind the wheel of his well-worn jeep one recent Saturday morning, working two cellphones in Arabic as he bounded through the terraced hills and hardscrabble villages near Hebron, he was greeted warmly by Palestinians near and far.

Watching him call for an ambulance for a resident and check on the progress of a Palestinian school being built without an Israeli permit, you might have thought him a clan chief. Then noticing the two Israeli Army jeeps trailing him, you might have pegged him as an Israeli occupation official handling Palestinian matters.

But Mr. Nawi is neither. It is perhaps best to think of him as the Robin Hood of the South Hebron hills, an Israeli Jew helping poor locals who love him, and thwarting settlers and soldiers who view him with contempt. Those army jeeps were not watching over him. They were stalking him.

Since the Israeli left lost so much popular appeal after the violent Palestinian uprising of 2000 and the Hamas electoral victory three years ago, its activists tend to be a rarefied bunch — professors of Latin or Sanskrit, and translators of medieval poetry. Mr. Nawi, however, is a plumber. And unlike the intellectuals of European origin with whom he spends most Saturdays, he is from an Iraqi Jewish family…”

–Ethan Bronner, The New York Times, 28 June, 2009


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Iran and Palestine

Posted by uscsjp on June 24, 2009

CNN and other Western media outlets have aired unverified material obtained from websites like Facebook and YouTube in their non-stop coverage of demonstrations in Iran--courtesy EI

CNN and other Western media outlets have aired "unverified material" obtained from websites like Facebook and YouTube in their non-stop coverage of demonstrations in Iran (image courtesy EI)

The Western media and Iran

“Protestors, anywhere in the world, are extremely brave individuals whose reasons for demonstrating openly should be listened to and respected. Protest is democracy at work. However, too often, US and other Western-based media pick and choose which protests to cover and which to ignore completely.

The US media often celebrate themselves as the ‘freest and fairest’ in the world, completely independent of a state unlike, for example, the media in Iran. Yet, an astute observer will notice that the US media generally choose stories and cover them in a way that play directly into the US’s global agenda.

Who decides whether or not a particular issue is ‘newsworthy?’ One would think that this is the role of the media, to cover issues like conflict or rights abuses as they happen around the world. Although, it seems this isn’t the case. Most Western media appear to follow their government’s lead when focusing on different issues and then cover them in a way fitting with the government’s position, hence the complete domination of events in Iran in nearly every single Western media outlet and the overwhelmingly positive portrayal of the protestors and the opposition as just. The current case of Iran makes it clear that it is governments who are directing the media’s coverage, instead of the actual news organizations themselves.

There was also a noticeable shift in the US media’s coverage of foreign affairs after the attacks of 11 September 2001…”

Matthew Cassel, The Electronic Intifada, 23 June 2009

Check out the Latest News and Current Campaigns from Jewish Voice for Peace

In the last 24 hours, we’ve learned that a dangerous pattern has emerged at YouTube. They have censored not just one, but at least two controversial but important videos that reveal the kind of hardcore racism, Islamophobia and Arab-hatred that exists in our Jewish community both among Americans and Israelis, hatred which must be unearthed in order to be countered…”

–Jewish Voice for Peace

See Also The Following Op-Ed from The New York Times:

Fictions on the Ground

“I am old enough to remember when Israeli kibbutzim looked like settlements (‘a small village or collection of houses’ or ‘the act of peopling or colonizing a new country,’ Oxford English Dictionary).

In the early 1960s, I spent time on Kibbutz Hakuk, a small community founded by the Palmah unit of the Haganah, the pre-state Jewish militia. Begun in 1945, Hakuk was just 18 years old when I first saw it, and was still raw at the edges. The few dozen families living there had built themselves a dining hall, farm sheds, homes and a ‘baby house’ where the children were cared for during the workday. But where the residential buildings ended there were nothing but rock-covered hillsides and half-cleared fields.

The community’s members still dressed in blue work shirts, khaki shorts and triangular hats, consciously cultivating a pioneering image and ethos already at odds with the hectic urban atmosphere of Tel Aviv. Ours, they seemed to say to bright-eyed visitors and volunteers, is the real Israel; come and help us clear the boulders and grow bananas — and tell your friends in Europe and America to do likewise…”

–Tony Judt, The New York Times, 22 June, 2009

Finally, Don’t Miss this Upcoming Local Event:

Sunday, June 28, 2-4 PM
Peace Vigil to support President Obama’s efforts to freeze settlements and get a Palestinian state alongside Israel
Third Street Promenade at Santa Monica Blvd.
Sponsorede by Jews for Peace between Israelis and Palestinians (J-PIP)

Join Jews for Peace between Israelis and Palestinians (J- PIP) in a vigil to support President Obama’s goal of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As American Jews, we recognize that 42 years of occupation and ruling over 4 million Palestinians against their will, Has not given Israelis peace and security, and never will.
Israel and its people’s desire for peace and security can only be achieved, when the Palestinians also have peace and security in their own sovereign and viable state alongside Israel.
We call upon President Obama to do all in his power to ensure that this peace vision will be implemented as soon as possible.  First steps include:

  • Settlement expansion on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem halted.
  • Settlement outposts demolished.
  • Checkpoints and roadblocks that do not contribute to Israel’s security removed.
  • Gaza blockade lifted; and crossings open.
  • Harassment of Gaza fishermen ended
  • Rockets attack on Israeli civilians from Gaza stopped.

J PIP will supply pro-peace, nonviolent, non-defamatory signs
We welcome everyone who shares J-PIP’s vision of a sovereign and viable Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Support this important VIGIL.

Sponsored: Jews for Peace between Israelis and Palestinians (J-PIP)

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Obstructing Peace Netanyahu Style

Posted by uscsjp on June 16, 2009

Dave Brown, The Independent, The Daily Cartoon, Tuesday 16 June 2009

Dave Brown, The Independent, The Daily Cartoon, Tuesday 16 June 2009

Democracy Now!: Netanyahu Outlines Vision for a Demilitarized Palestinian State with Israel Controlling the Borders and Airspace of Palestine

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered what was billed as a major policy speech on Sunday, accepting the creation of a Palestinian state on the condition that it would be completely demilitarized and have no control over its airspace. He also said that Israel would refuse to engage with Hamas. Palestinian officials condemned Netanyahu’s speech, saying it closed the door to permanent status negotiations…”

Democracy Now!, 15 June, 2009

See Also: The Electronic Intifada

Obama in Cairo: A Bush in sheep’s clothing?

US President Barack Obama speaking at Cairo University, 4 June 2009. (Chuck Kennedy/White House Photo--courtesy of The Electronic Intifada)

US President Barack Obama speaking at Cairo University, 4 June 2009. (Chuck Kennedy/White House Photo--courtesy of The Electronic Intifada)

“Once you strip away the mujamalat — the courtesies exchanged between guest and host — the substance of President Obama’s speech in Cairo indicates there is likely to be little real change in US policy. It is not necessary to divine Obama’s intentions — he may be utterly sincere and I believe he is. It is his analysis and prescriptions that in most regards maintain flawed American policies intact.

Though he pledged to ‘speak the truth as best I can,’ there was much the president left out. He spoke of tension between ‘America and Islam’ — the former a concrete specific place, the latter a vague construct subsuming peoples, practices, histories and countries more varied than similar.

Labeling America’s ‘other’ as a nebulous and all-encompassing ‘Islam’ (even while professing rapprochement and respect) is a way to avoid acknowledging what does in fact unite and mobilize people across many Muslim-majority countries: overwhelming popular opposition to increasingly intrusive and violent American military, political and economic interventions in many of those countries…”

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 5 June 2009

And Finally, From CounterPunch:

The End of Free Speech?

Criminalizing Criticism of Israel


“On October 16, 2004, President George W. Bush signed the Israel Lobby’s bill, the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act.  This legislation requires the US Department of State to monitor anti-semitism world wide.

To monitor anti-semitism, it has to be defined.  What is the definition?  Basically, as defined by the Israel Lobby and Abe Foxman, it boils down to any criticism of Israel or Jews.

Rahm Israel Emanuel hasn’t been mopping floors at the White House.
As soon as he gets the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 passed, it will become a crime for any American to tell the truth about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and theft of their lands.

It will be a crime for Christians to acknowledge the New Testament’s account of Jews demanding the crucifixion of Jesus.

It will be a crime to report the extraordinary influence of the Israel Lobby on the White House and Congress, such as the AIPAC-written resolutions praising Israel for its war crimes against the Palestinians in Gaza that were endorsed by 100 per cent  of the US Senate and 99 per cent  of the House of Representatives, while the rest of the world condemned Israel for its barbarity.

It will be a crime to doubt the Holocaust.

It will become a crime to note the disproportionate representation of Jews in the media, finance, and foreign policy.

In other words, it means the end of free speech, free inquiry, and the First Amendment to the Constitution. Any facts or truths that cast aspersion upon Israel will simply be banned…”

CounterPunch, 7 May, 2009

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Democracy Now!: Despite No Links to Violence, Founders of Muslim Charity Sentenced to Lengthy Terms for Donations to Needy Palestinians in Occupied Territories

Posted by uscsjp on June 1, 2009

“Five founders of a Muslim charity have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms in a controversial case that began nearly ten years ago. The Holy Land Foundation, based in a Dallas suburb, was the biggest Muslim charity in the United States before the Bush administration shut it down in 2001. Its five founders were convicted last November on charges of funneling money to the Palestinian group Hamas. The US government declared Hamas a terrorist organization in 1995.

It was the second trial against the Holy Land Foundation’s five leaders after the first ended in a mistrial. The government’s case relied on Israeli intelligence as well as disputed documents and electronic surveillance gathered by the FBI over a span of fifteen years…”

–Democracy Now!, 29 May, 2009

UN war investigators arrive in Gaza

“A United Nations team has arrived in the Gaza Strip to investigate possible war crimes and other violations of international law during Israel’s assault on the territory earlier this year.

The 15-member team, headed by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing on Monday.

The team entered from Egypt after being denied visas to cross from Israel, despite multiple requests by the UN.

‘We have come here to see, to learn, to talk to people in all walks of life; ordinary people, governmental people, administrative people,’ Goldstone said.

The team plans to complete its fact-finding mission in a week, but Goldstone said they were likely to return within a month, before presenting a report in August…”

–Al Jazeera, 1 June, 2009

Mr. Abbas goes to Washington

If the Oval Office guest list is an indicator, US President Barack Obama is making good on his commitment to try to revive the long-dead Arab-Israeli peace process. On 18 May President Obama received Israel’s new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu; on 28 May he met with Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.

As this process gets under way, the United States — Israel’s main arms supplier, financier and international apologist — faces huge hurdles. It is deeply mistrusted by Palestinians and Arabs generally, and the new administration has not done much to rebuild trust. Obama has, like former US President George W. Bush, expressed support for Palestinian statehood, but he has made no criticisms of Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip — which killed more than 1,400 people last winter, mostly civilians — despite evidence from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and UN investigators of egregious Israeli war crimes. Nor has he pressured Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza, where 1.5 million Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are refugees, are effectively imprisoned and deprived of basic necessities.

Obama has told Netanyahu firmly that Israel must stop building settlements on expropriated Palestinian land in the West Bank, but such words have been uttered by the president’s predecessors. Unless these statements are followed by decisive action — perhaps to limit American subsidies to Israel — there’s no reason to believe the lip service that failed in the past will suddenly be more effective.

On the Palestinian side, Obama is talking to the wrong man: more than half of residents in the Occupied Palestinian Territories do not consider Abbas the ‘legitimate’ president of the Palestinians, according to a March survey by Fafo, a Norwegian research organization. Eighty-seven percent want the Fatah faction, which Abbas heads, to have new leaders.

Hamas, by contrast, emerged from Israel’s attack on Gaza with enhanced legitimacy and popularity. That attack was only the latest of numerous efforts to topple the movement following its decisive victory in the 2006 legislative elections. In addition to the Israeli siege, these efforts have included a failed insurgency by Contra-style anti-Hamas militias nominally loyal to Abbas and funded and trained by the United States under the supervision of Lieut. Gen. Keith Dayton. If Obama were serious about making real progress, one of the first things he would do is ditch the Bush-era policy of backing Palestinian puppets and lift the American veto on reconciliation efforts aimed at creating a unified, representative and credible Palestinian leadership.

None of these problems is entirely new, though the challenges, having festered for years, may be tougher to deal with now. Netanyahu did add one obstacle, however, when he came to Washington. In accord with his anticipated strategy of delay, he insisted that Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist as a ‘Jewish state’ as a condition of any peace agreement. Obama seemingly endorsed this demand when he said, ‘It is in US national security interests to assure that Israel’s security as an independent Jewish state is maintained’…”

–Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 29 May, 2009

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