USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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

Archive for October, 2009

Omar Barghouti in Los Angeles

Posted by uscsjp on October 23, 2009

From the U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel

Omar Barghouti’s U.S. Tour

“November 1: ‘Palestine: Thirsting for Justice. Israel’s Control of Water as a Tool of Apartheid and a Means of Ethnic Cleansing’, 4 pm, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.

Further info: Robin Ellis, rkellis19[at]earthlink.net

November 2: ‘Justice, Freedom and the Ethical Role of Intellectuals: The Question of Palestine’, 7 pm, 101 Taper Hall of the Humanities, University of Southern California; introduced by Ruth W. Gilmore, respondent Arieh Saposnik, Gilbert Chair in Israel Studies, UCLA.

Further info: David Lloyd, colles2012[at]sbcglobal.net

–From The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

http://usacbi.wordpress.com/events/

Also, for recent news, see the Latest Headlines from Democracy Now!:

Goldstone Challenges Obama to Explain Gaza Inquiry Objections

As the US challenges Sri Lanka, the head of a UN inquiry into the US-backed assault on Gaza is challenging the Obama administration to explain why it’s worked to minimize the inquiry’s findings that Israel committed multiple war crimes. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Judge Richard Goldstone said the White House had raised ‘concerns’ about the report but hasn’t explained them.

Judge Richard Goldstone: ‘It seems to be still developing. It’s been ambivalent, I think. The Obama administration joined our recommendation calling for full, good-faith investigations, both in Israel and in Gaza, but said that the report was flawed. But I have yet to hear from the Obama administration what the flaws in the report that they’ve identified are. I mean, I’d be happy to respond to them, if and when I know what they are.’

Last week the US voted against a UN Human Rights Council resolution endorsing the report’s recommendations that both sides of the Gaza conflict probe war crimes allegations or face international prosecution. The resolution has been forwarded to the Security Council, where it’s expected to face a US veto.

US, Israel Stage Joint Air Drill

The US, meanwhile, has launched a joint air force drill with the Israeli military. The drill has been described in Israel as a preparation for an attack on Iran. US Navy Rear Admiral John Richardson said the exercises would aid the Obama administration’s revamped missile defense program.

US Navy Rear Admiral John Richardson: ‘This exercise is not directly related to recent announcements about ballistic missile defense in Europe, but the lessons and the insights that we gain from this exercise will certainly relate to developing that capability.’

–Democracy Now, 23 October, 2009

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/10/23/headlines

Also from Democracy Now!:

International Women’s Media Foundation Honors Israeli Journalist Amira Hass with 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award

“Amira Hass is a regular columnist with Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper and the only Israeli journalist to have spent several years living in and reporting from Gaza and the West Bank. On Tuesday, Hass was awarded the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation. CNN’s Christiane Amanpour described Hass as ‘one of the greatest truth-seekers of them all.’ Hass joins us to talk about covering the Israel-Palestine conflict, the Goldstone report on the Israeli assault on Gaza, and the need to understand the issue in the context of military occupation…”

–Democracy Now!, 21 October, 2009

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/10/21/israeli_journalist_amira_hass

And some important updates from Sydney Levy of Jewish Voice for Peace

“…The day before yesterday, a judge extended the detention of Mohammad Othman for yet another 11 days. He was detained on September 22 by Israeli authorities when returning to the West Bank after a trip to Norway, where he advocated for boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Since his detention, he has endured long interrogations and solitary confinement.

Over 8,000 people have written US President Obama, asking him to press Israel for his release.
Please keep fighting for his release, and get the latest on his case here: http://freemohammadothman.wordpress.com

Yesterday, Israeli activist Ezra Nawi was sentenced to one month in jail. Why? On July 22, 2007, he tried to stop a military bulldozer from destroying the homes of Palestinian Bedouins in the South Hebron region. The whole incident was documented on video, except for a few seconds when Ezra was inside the shack being demolished. Israeli Border Policemen claimed to have been hit by Ezra in these few seconds, and the judge, of course, took their word over Ezra’s.

This should come as no surprise. The very same day of Ezra’s sentencing, Israel’s State Prosecutor’s Office decided not to press charges against Border Guard policemen documented in a video hitting Palestinians, ‘as they did not cause real damage.’ (1)

While these Border Guards go free, Ezra Nawi goes to jail.

After over 20,000 of you wrote letters in Ezra’s defense, the judge had tried to avert more bad publicity by encouraging Ezra to admit his guilt and take community service instead of prison time. Ezra could not admit a crime he did not commit, so rather than avoiding jail as a guilty person, he is going to prison as an innocent man.

Ezra was further ordered to pay a fine of NIS 750 and NIS 500 to each of the officers he was wrongfully convicted of assaulting. In addition, Ezra was given a conditional sentence of six months in prison, should he ‘participate in similar activities’ during the next three years.

In reaction to the sentence, settlers complained about ‘the selectivity of law enforcement officials,’ implying that the judge went too light on Nawi, but ignoring the glaring irony that it is the settlers themselves who enjoy the privileges of the discriminatory system imposed by the Israeli occupation. (2)

For updates and next steps on Ezra’s case, please go here: http://www.supportezra.net/

Today, the first two young Israeli conscientious objectors of the class of 2010 faced the consequences of their refusal to serve in the Israeli army. Efi Brenner was sent to his first ten days of jail, and at press time was being held in solitary confinement. Or Ben-David is under arrest, awaiting her  sentence.

The 2010 Shministim letter of refusal states in part:

Out of sense of responsibility and concern for the two nations that live in this country, we cannot stand idle. We were born into a reality of occupation, and many of our generation see this as a “natural” state. In Israeli society it is a matter of fact that at 18, every young man and woman partakes in military service. However, we cannot ignore the truth – the occupation is an extreme situation, violent, racist, inhuman, illegal, non democratic, and immoral, that is life threatening for both nations. We that have been brought up on values of liberty, justice, righteousness and peace cannot accept it.” (3)

Please go here to get updates on the Shministim of 2010: http://www.shministim.com

These are just some of the faces of the people imprisoned because of their resistance to the Israeli occupation. There are, of course, countless more. Last summer, the prisoners’ support and human rights organization Addameer published a report documenting the arrests of demonstrators and human rights defenders. (4)

This has been a difficult week, but make no mistake — the struggle is not over. We take comfort on Nelson Mandela’s words, “In my country we go to prison first and then become President…”

–Sydney Levy, Jewish Voice for Peace email, 22 October, 2009

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

Abbas Faces Increasing Pressure Over Goldstone Controversy

Posted by uscsjp on October 12, 2009

First, from Democracy Now!:

Palestinian President Abbas Faces Uproar for Aiding US-Israeli Derailment of UN Report on Gaza Assault

“The Security Council has rejected Libya’s request to hold an emergency session on South African Judge Richard Goldstone’s recently released report on Israel’s three-week war on Gaza last winter. Instead, the Council has agreed to advance a regular meeting to address the issues it raises.

The 575-page report by the United Nations fact-finding mission accuses Israel of war crimes and deliberately targeting civilians in Gaza. It also accuses Hamas of indiscriminate rocket fire. The report urges that the UN Security Council refer allegations to the International Criminal Court if either side fails to investigate and prosecute suspects. Some 1,400 Palestinians and thirteen Israelis were killed during the war on Gaza.

Meanwhile, outrage among Palestinians continues to rise over Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to withdraw support for further action in regard to the Goldstone investigation. Last week, Abbas backed the postponement of a vote by the Human Rights Council to send the report to the Security Council for possible action. The decision reportedly came after heavy American and Israeli pressure…”

–Democracy Now!, 8 October, 2009

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/10/8/palestinian_authority_president_abbas_faces_growing

Also, from The Electronic Intifada:

After Goldstone, Hamas faces fateful choice

“The uproar over the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) collaboration with Israel to bury the Goldstone report, calling for trials of Israeli leaders for war crimes in Gaza, is a political earthquake. The whole political order in place since the 1993 Oslo accords were signed is crumbling. As the initial tremors begin to fade, the same old political structures may appear still to be in place, but they are hollowed out. This unprecedented crisis threatens to topple the US-backed PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, but it also leaves Hamas, the main Palestinian resistance faction, struggling with fateful choices…”

–Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 8 October, 2009

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10821.shtml

Other Recent Articles of Interest from The Electronic Intifada

Oct 12th, 2009: Is Canada more pro-Israel than the US?

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10824.shtml

Oct 9th, 2009: Israel’s export of occupation police tactics

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10823.shtml

Oct 8th, 2009: Following al-Aqsa clashes, Israel mulls banning Islamic movement

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10822.shtml


And, finally, a recent email I received regarding a Modern Language Association (MLA) Resolution on Palestinian literature.

“…For those of you who are MLA members, please consider commenting on Resolution 2008-1, which reads:

Whereas Palestinian literature and culture are legitimate subjects of study;
Whereas the conditions in the occupied territories have been critical in shaping modern Arabic literature generally;
Whereas those teaching and writing about the occupation and about Middle East culture have regularly come under fire from anti- Palestinian groups on extra- academic grounds;
Whereas education at all levels in the occupied territories is being stifled by the occupation;
Be it resolved that the MLA endorse teaching and scholarship about Palestinian culture, support members who come under attack for pursuing such work, and express solidarity with scholars of Palestinian culture.

The balloting period is from November 1 – December 10, but in the meantime, the MLA has set up a members-only space to comment on the resolution at http://www.mla.org/2008resolutioncomm. Not surprisingly, there have been plenty of comments–the majority objecting to the resolution with varying degrees of vehemence…”

Thanks to Maggie Galvan for passing the email along.

You can read more about the issue here:

MLA Contemplates Taking a Stand in Support of Scholars of Palestine

“The Modern Language Association’s executive council is considering whether the organization should vote on a resolution expressing solidarity with scholars of Palestinian literature and culture…”

–The Chronicle of Higher Education, 7  January, 2009

http://chronicle.com/article/MLA-Contemplates-Taking-a/42207

Posted in Activism/Divestment, Analysis, Blogroll, News, Opinion/Editorial | Leave a Comment »

“Abbas helps Israel bury its crimes in Gaza”

Posted by uscsjp on October 4, 2009

Mahmoud Abbas has abandoned a resolution to hold Israel accountable for its alleged war crimes in Gaza (Link to The Electronic Intifada)

Mahmoud Abbas has abandoned a resolution to hold Israel accountable for its alleged war crimes in Gaza (Link to The Electronic Intifada)

Just when it seemed that the Ramallah Palestinian Authority (PA) and its leader Mahmoud Abbas could not sink any lower in their complicity with Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the murderous blockade of Gaza, Ramallah has dealt a further stunning blow to the Palestinian people.

“The Abbas delegation to the United Nations in Geneva (officially representing the moribund Palestine Liberation Organization) abandoned a resolution requesting the Human Rights Council to forward Judge Richard Goldstone’s report on war crimes in Gaza to the UN Security Council for further action. Although the PA acted under US pressure, there are strong indications that the commercial interests of Palestinian and Gulf businessmen closely linked to Abbas also played a part.

The 575-page Goldstone report documents evidence of shocking Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity during last winter’s assault on the Gaza Strip which killed 1,400 Palestinians, the vast majority noncombatants and hundreds of them children. The report also accuses the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas of war crimes for firing rockets into Israel that killed three civilians.

Goldstone’s report was hailed by Palestinians and supporters of the rule of law worldwide as a watershed; it called for suspects to be held accountable before international courts if Israel failed to prosecute them. Israel has no history, ever, of holding its political and military leaders judicially accountable for war crimes against the Palestinians.

Israel was rightly terrified of the report, mobilizing all its diplomatic and political resources to discredit it. In recent days, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that if the report were acted on, it would ‘strike a severe blow to the war against terrorism,’ and ‘strike a fatal blow to the peace process, because Israel will no longer be able to take additional steps and take risks for peace if its right to self-defense is denied.’

Unsurprisingly, an early ally in the Israeli campaign for impunity was the Obama Administration, whose UN ambassador, Susan Rice, expressed ‘very serious concerns’ about the report and trashed Goldstone’s mandate as ‘unbalanced, one-sided and basically unacceptable.’ (Rice was acting true to her word; in April she told the newspaper Politico that one of the main reasons the Obama Administration decided to join the UN Human Rights Council was to fight what she called ‘the anti-Israel crap.’)

Goldstone, whose daughter has publicly described her father as a Zionist who loves Israel, is a former judge of the South African Supreme Court, and a highly respected international jurist. He was the chief prosecutor at UN war crimes tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia…
…What makes this even more galling, is the real possibility that the PA is helping Israel wash its hands of the blood it spilled in Gaza for something as base as the financial gain of businessmen closely linked to Abbas.

The Independent (UK) reported on 1 October:

‘Shalom Kital, an aide to defense minister Ehud Barak, said today that Israel will not release a share of the radio spectrum that has long been sought by the Palestinian Authority to enable the launch of a second mobile telecommunications company unless the PA drops its efforts to put Israeli soldiers and officers in the dock over the Israeli operation.’ (‘Palestinians cry “blackmail” over Israel phone service threat,’ The Independent, 1 October).

Kital added that it was a ‘condition’ that the PA specifically drop its efforts to advance the Goldstone report. The phone company, Wataniya, was described last April by Reuters as an ‘Abbas-backed company’ which is a joint venture between Qatari and Kuwaiti investors and the Palestinian Investment Fund with which one of Abbas’ sons is closely involved…”

–Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 2 October, 2009

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10807.shtml

Also from The Electronic Intifada

Obama must match rhetoric with principle

“US President Barack Obama has placed restoration of the stature of the United States among his primary foreign policy goals. He has already achieved substantial progress in Europe, where polls indicate that he is widely admired. The president’s June Cairo University speech also won praise in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Yet many across the globe still await the substantive policy changes implied by his inspiring words.

President Obama can solidify broader global respect by supporting the recommendations of the just-released Goldstone report in the United Nations Human Rights Council. Richard Goldstone, an eminent South African jurist, led a mission to investigate allegations of war crimes in Gaza last winter.
Indeed, the Goldstone mission concluded that Israel and Hamas committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity. The report recommends that both parties be given six months to mount independent, internal investigations — and if they fail, that the UN Security Council refer the matter to the International Criminal Court for investigation and possible prosecutions.

Much of the 575-page report documents Israeli violations of the laws of war and human rights surrounding the intense fighting of last winter. That is fair, as the scale of harm Israel caused to lives and property in Gaza vastly exceeded that inflicted by Hamas. Israel killed approximately 100 Palestinians for every Israeli who died, and destroyed vast swaths of private housing, industrial buildings, agricultural facilities and public infrastructure…”

–George Bisharat, The Electronic Intifada, 1 October 2009

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10806.shtml

See also the latest news from Al Jazeera

Clashes as Israel shuts off al-Aqsa

“Israeli security forces have closed off the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jersualem as more than 200 Palestinians stage a sit-in at the site. Sporadic clashes broke out on Sunday as military and police checkpoints were set up around the site, known as the Haram al-Sharif to Muslims and the Temple Mount to Jews. At least seven people were wounded and seven arrested as clashes broke out at the Lion’s Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem.Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros, reporting from Jerusalem, said that the mosque was being protected by worshippers who wanted to stop Jewish hardliners from entering the compound.

‘They are very keen that what happened in Hebron, where hardliners did in fact storm and take over a mosque there, doesn’t happen here in this very holy site,’ she said. She said that there was a lot of tension in the city because of the standoff. ‘It could, of course, boil over if we hear of clashes between the police and those at the sit-in at the al-Aqsa compound,’ she said.

Palestinian officials told Al Jazeera that Muslim worshippers entered the mosque late on Saturday to prevent a repeat of last Sunday’s clashes in the area. In that incident, at least 13 Palestinians were injured and seven detained when fighting broke when Israeli Jews apparently attempted to enter the mosque. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades at hundreds of Palestinians, while stones, chairs and other objects were reportedly thrown…”

–Al Jazeera English, 4 October, 2009

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/10/2009104838609929.html

And an unusual piece from The Independent:

Israeli supermodels in catwalk spat over draft-dodging

“She has already been criticised by the military for her decision to avoid the draft in her native Israel, but now a former girlfriend of Leonardo DiCaprio is under attack from a fellow supermodel.

Months after a retired general rebuked Bar Refaeli for side-stepping her compulsory national service, the ‘draft-dodger’ has been berated by Esti Ginzburg.

Unlike Refaeli, the model from Tel Aviv was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for her mandatory two-year period of duty in July…”

–Danny Brierly, The Independent, 4 October, 2009

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israeli-supermodels-in-catwalk-spat-over-draftdodging-1797311.html

And, from Jewish Voice for Peace, the latest on the Ezra Nawi case:

“Faced with over 20,000 of your signatures, Judge Eilata Ziskind decided to postpone the sentencing.

A few days before her ruling, the judge got another call to conscience. Boaz Okun, a prominent judge and legal authority in Israel, published an op-ed in an Israeli daily, stating that Ezra deserved ‘defense from justice’:

The penal code allows the canceling of a guilty verdict against a criminal if the crime committed shrinks vis-a-vis the arbitrary behavior of the state. This is called ‘defense from justice.’ (1)

Ezra Nawi’s sole crime was trying to stop a military bulldozer from destroying the homes of Palestinian Bedouins in the South Hebron region.

Mr. Okun quoted from the hearing proceedings, where Yehudit Karp, a former Israel Attorney General, stated in reference to Ezra Nawi:

Those people that break the law in order to save others and to defend human rights are the ones that get written on golden pages.

But Ezra’s troubles are not over yet.

The judge has offered him an impossible ‘deal.’ She is willing to reduce his expected sentence from jail time to community service, but only if Ezra waives any further appeals–in fact acknowledging that he is guilty without any way to exonerate himself.

As we celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, many of us wondered what the new year would hold for Ezra Nawi. A judge was expected to render her sentence on his case on Monday, the first day after the holiday.

This is far from a golden page, far from a defense from justice.

We will keep you updated of future developments in his case.

In the meanwhile, we have just learned that Kobi Snitz, a long-time activist with the Israeli group Anarchists Against the Wall, begins a 20-day prison term for an arrest in 2004 in which he tried to prevent a home demolition in the Palestinian village of Kharbatha, in the Ramallah District. He is the first Israeli activist to serve time for a demonstration in the Occupied Territories. In prison, he will now join countless Palestinians who are in administrative detention — without benefit of trial — simply for exerting their rights as well.

Only yesterday Mohammad Othman was arrested on the Allenby Bridge Crossing, the border from Jordan to Palestine. Mohammad, 33 years old, has dedicated the last ten years of his life to the defense of Palestinian human rights. His village, Jayyous, has lost most of its land to the Wall and the settlements. You can learn more about Mohammad and take action here…”


–from a Jewish Voice for Peace email, 24 September, 2009

And finally,

Upcoming LA Area Events

IN TWO WEEKS Sunday afternoon, October 18; 1 -3 PM
What:  Benefit for the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions & director Jeff Halper
Location:  Penthouse on Venice Beach at 8 Brooks Ave., Venice Beach, CA
Featuring:

  • Screening of Homes and Homeland, a 30-minute film by Ed Gaffney and Alicia Dwyer that features Jeff Halper and the ICAHD story.  Filmmaker Ed Gaffney will be present.
  • Refreshments
  • Premiums

Sponsored: LA Jews for Peace, Friends of Sabeel, and Jews for Peace between Israel & Palestine

Endorsed:  Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles

Also on Sunday, Oct. 18, 11-4 PM (attend before or after ICAHD Benefit)

7TH Annual OPEN MOSQUE DAY

Mosques open to all in many southland cities, refreshments.

Sponsored by Islamic Shura Council

Information   http://www.shuracouncil.org or call 714-239–6473.

Amira Hass at UCLA Nov. 2 & 3

Monday, Nov. 2, 3-5 PM

Bunche Hall 6275 – Use parking lot 3

Tuesday, Nov. 3,  1-3 PM

Faculty Center, Downstairs Lounge – Use parking lot 2

Information Amy Bruinooge, Center for Near Eastern Studies
cnes@international.ucla.edu Tel: (310) 825-1181

Thanks to Jeff Warner from LA Jews for Peace for passing along the above events information

http://www.lajewsforpeace.org/Stories/Warner-story.htm

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