USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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

Archive for May, 2010

Emergency Protest TODAY at Israeli Consulate!!

Posted by uscsjp on May 31, 2010

From the International Action Center:

Protest Israeli Massacre and Piracy –

At least 16 killed in Israeli attack in international waters on unarmed Free Gaza Flotilla

Emergency Demonstrations Called in Major Cities Across Country

Los Angeles Protest Called by Al-Awda:

Monday, May 31st
4:30 pm
6380 Wilshire Blvd, (at La Jolla)
Los Angeles, CA 90048

The Free Gaza Flotilla, comprised of 6 ships bringing emergency supplies to the Palestinians held under Israeli siege in Gaza , was attacked in international waters by 14 Israeli ships, helicopters and masked Israeli commandos.

Sara Flounders, Co-Director of International Action Center, said “This attack and the brutal starvation siege of Gaza would not have been possible without the billions of dollars in international aid that Washington gives to Israel every year for more than 60 years. This latest massacre is an act of international piracy. We must reinforce the efforts to Boycott, Divest and Sanction this racist regime and demand an end to all U.S. aid to Israel .

AlAwda points out that live footage from one of the boats reveals the Israeli soldiers were heavily masked and carrying live ammunition which they used on the unarmed passengers. None of the passengers or activists were armed. Israel has continuously seized and refused to release emergency aid supplies to the besieged people of Gaza.


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

“Israel’s Attack on Us All”

Posted by uscsjp on May 31, 2010

“It is quite astounding that Israel has been able to create over the past 12 hours a news blackout, just as it did with its attack on Gaza 18 months ago, into which our main media organisations have willingly allowed Israeli spokespeople to step in unchallenged.

How many civilians were killed in Israel’s dawn attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla of aid? We still don’t know. How many wounded? Your guess is as good as mine. Were the aid activists armed with guns? Yes, says Israel. Were they in cahoots with al-Qaeda and Hamas? Certainly, says Israel. Did the soldiers act reasonably? Of course, they faced a lynch, says Israel.

If we needed any evidence of the degree to which Western TV journalists are simply stenographers to power, the BBC, CNN and others are amply proving it. Mark Regev, Israel’s propagandist-in-chief, has the airwaves largely to himself.

The passengers on the ships, meanwhile, have been kidnapped by Israel and are unable to provide an alternative version of events. We can guess they will remain in enforced silence until Israel is sure it has set the news agenda.

So before we get swamped by Israeli hasbara let’s reiterate a few simple facts:

* Israeli soldiers invaded these ships in international waters, breaking international law, and, in killing civilians, committed a war crime. The counter-claim by Israeli commanders that their soldiers responded to an imminent “lynch” by civilians should be dismissed with the loud contempt it deserves.

* The Israeli government approved the boarding of these aid ships by an elite unit of commandoes. They were armed with automatic weapons to pacify the civilians onboard, but not with crowd dispersal equipment in case of resistance. Whatever the circumstances of the confrontation, Israel must be held responsible for sending in soldiers and recklessly endangering the lives of all the civilians onboard, including a baby and a Holocaust survivor.

* Israel has no right to control Gaza’s sea as its own territorial waters and to stop aid convoys arriving that way. In doing so, it proves that it is still in belligerent occupation of the enclave and its 1.5 million inhabitants. And if it is occupying Gaza, then under international law Israel is responsible for the welfare of the Strip’s inhabitants. Given that the blockade has put Palestinians there on a starvation diet for the past four years, Israel should long ago have been in the dock for committing a crime against humanity.

Today Israel chose to direct its deadly assault not only at Palestinians under occupation but at the international community itself.

Will our leaders finally be moved to act?”

–Jonathan Cook, CounterPunch, 31 May, 2010

And From Ha’aretz: Gaza flotilla drives Israel into a sea of stupidity

“The Israeli propaganda machine has reached new highs its hopeless frenzy. It has distributed menus from Gaza restaurants, along with false information. It embarrassed itself by entering a futile public relations battle, which it might have been better off never starting. They want to maintain the ineffective, illegal and unethical siege on Gaza and not let the ‘peace flotilla’ dock off the Gaza coast? There is nothing to explain, certainly not to a world that will never buy the web of explanations, lies and tactics.

Only in Israel do people still accept these tainted goods. Reminiscent of a pre-battle ritual from ancient times, the chorus cheered without asking questions. White uniformed soldiers got ready in our name. Spokesmen delivered their deceptive explanations in our name. The grotesque scene is at our expense. And virtually none of us have disturbed the performance.

The chorus has been singing songs of falsehood and lies. We are all in the chorus saying there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. We are all part of the chorus claiming the occupation of Gaza has ended, and that the flotilla is a violent attack on Israeli sovereignty – the cement is for building bunkers and the convoy is being funded by the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood. The Israeli siege of Gaza will topple Hamas and free Gilad Shalit. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Levy, one of the most ridiculous of the propagandists, outdid himself when he unblinkingly proclaimed that the aid convoy headed toward Gaza was a violation of international law. Right. Exactly.

It’s not the siege that is illegal, but rather the flotilla. It wasn’t enough to distribute menus from Gaza restaurants through the Prime Minister’s Office, (including the highly recommended beef Stroganoff and cream of spinach soup ) and flaunt the quantities of fuel that the Israeli army spokesman says Israel is shipping in. The propaganda operation has tried to sell us and the world the idea that the occupation of Gaza is over, but in any case, Israel has legal authority to bar humanitarian aid. All one pack of lies.

Only one voice spoiled the illusory celebration a little: an Amnesty International report on the situation in Gaza. Four out of five Gaza residents need humanitarian assistance. Hundreds are waiting to the point of embarrassment to be allowed out for medical treatment, and 28 already have died. This is despite all the Israeli army spokesman’s briefings on the absence of a siege and the presence of assistance, but who cares?

And the preparations for the operation are also reminiscent of a particularly amusing farce: the feverish debate among the septet of ministers; the deployment of the Masada unit, the prison service’s commando unit that specializes in penetrating prison cells; naval commando fighters with backup from the special police anti-terror unit and the army’s Oketz canine unit; a special detention facility set up at the Ashdod port; and the electronic shield that was supposed to block broadcast of the ship’s capture and the detention of those on board.

And all of this in the face of what? A few hundred international activists, mostly people of conscience whose reputation Israeli propaganda has sought to besmirch. They are really mostly people who care, which is their right and obligation, even if the siege doesn’t concern us at all. Yes, this flotilla is indeed a political provocation, and what is protest action if not political provocation?

And facing them on the seas has been the Israeli ship of fools, floating but not knowing where or why. Why detain people? That’s how it is. Why a siege? That’s how it is. It’s like the Noam Chomsky affair all over again, but big time this time. Of course the peace flotilla will not bring peace, and it won’t even manage to reach the Gaza shore. The action plan has included dragging the ships to Ashdod port, but it has again dragged us to the shores of stupidity and wrongdoing. Again we will be portrayed not only as the ones that have blocked assistance, but also as fools who do everything to even further undermine our own standing. If that was one of the goals of the peace flotilla’s organizers, they won big yesterday.

Five years ago, the noted Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, who is a Jerusalem Prize laureate, after concluding his visit to Israel, said the Israeli occupation was approaching its grotesque phase. Over the weekend Vargas Llosa, who considers himself a friend of Israel, was present to see that that phase has since reached new heights of absurdity.”

–Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 30 May, 2010

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

BBC: Hezbollah entrenched in Lebanon years after Israel left

Posted by uscsjp on May 25, 2010

“Every day 70-year-old Abu Ali Shami looks at Israel from his olive grove. The barbed wire, which is only a metre away, reminds him of what life was like when Israeli soldiers were stationed on the Lebanese side of the barbed wire fence.

‘We were powerless,’ Abu Ali Shami says. ‘There was so much injustice, if felt like we lived in a big prison.’

Like all residents of Kfar Kila, a village on the Lebanese-Israeli border, Abu Ali Shami still remembers restrictions on travel and the climate of fear, enforced not only by the Israeli military but also their Lebanese collaborators.

‘We were so happy when they left,’ remembers Abu Ali, another villager in Kfar Kila. ‘They withdrew in the middle of the night and it felt as if we finally had our country back.’

Ten years on since the withdrawal, the UN together with the Lebanese army patrol the border area. But flapping in the breeze along the fence are yellow and green flags of Hezbollah. Waving next to them is the flag of the group’s biggest foreign backer – Iran.

It is Hezbollah that has real control over what happens in southern Lebanon and many villagers say they like the arrangement.

‘It’s the resistance, its weapons and [Hezbollah leader] Hassan Nasrallah who make us feel safe here,’ says Fawwaz Mohammed. ‘Without the resistance we could never be free’…”

–By Natalia Antelava, BBC News, south Lebanon, Tuesday, 25 May 2010

See Also the Latest from The Electronic Intifada:

Persecution of Palestinian citizens recalls S. Africa apartheid repression
Adri Nieuwhof and Bangani Ngeleza, The Electronic Intifada, 19 May 2010

Protest the extended detention of rights defender Ameer Makhoul
Press Release, Addameer, 24 May 2010

Challenging Canada’s myths about its role in Palestine

Sean F. McMahon, The Electronic Intifada, 18 May 2010

Posted in Blogroll, News | Leave a Comment »

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation: Vote Today on Even More Military Aid to Israel!

Posted by uscsjp on May 19, 2010

May 19, 2010

Last week, the Obama Administration notified Israel that it would support the authorization and appropriation of $205 million of U.S. tax-payer money to Israel to purchase ten batteries of the “Iron Dome” missile defense system.

If authorized and appropriated by Congress, this money would be above and beyond the Obama Administration’s record-breaking FY2011 budget request for $3 billion in military aid to Israel.  To see how much military aid to Israel your community provides, and what else that money could fund in your community, please click here.

Yesterday, Rep. Glenn Nye (VA-2) introduced H.R.5327, the United States-Israel Missile Defense Cooperation and Support Act.  This morning we learned that the House of Representatives will be voting today on this resolution, which if approved would constitute the first step in the process of getting this additional military aid to Israel.

Please call your Representative right now and express your opposition to additional military aid to Israel.  Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, ask to be transferred to your Representative, and tell him/her to vote NO today on H.R.5327.

Here are a few talking points that you can use when making your call:

* Israeli missile “defense” will increase its offensive capabilities. Israel is portraying “Iron Dome” as a means to shoot down rockets fired at its civilian population. Israel, like every other country in the world, is entitled to self-defense.  However, there are scenarios when a nominally “defensive” weapon such as an anti-missile battery dramatically changes the strategic balance and enhances offensive capabilities.

With an effective missile defense shield in place, Israel will feel emboldened to launch additional wars of aggression, similar to or even larger in scale than those launched against Lebanon (July-August 2006) and the Gaza Strip (December 2008-January 2009).  In a future war, the cover of missile defense will allow Israel to kill thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians as it has done in past wars without risking any casualties on its side from cross-border rockets.  In other words, war will become risk-free for an already aggressive Israel.  It’s Palestinian and Lebanese civilians who need a missile defense system from U.S. missiles Israel repeatedly fires at them.

* If Israel wants missile defense, then it should pay for it. President Obama has proposed a record-breaking $3 billion in military aid to Israel in the FY2011 budget.  Israel and Egypt have special exemptions written into the budget that allow them to spend a certain amount of their military aid on their own domestic arms industries rather than in the United States. In the FY2010 budget, this amounted to almost $584 million for the Israeli weapons industry-enough money for Israel to buy nearly 30 “Iron Dome” batteries with our money.

The reason why Israel doesn’t want to spend its own money-or the money the United States already gives it-on missile defense is to maximize its offensive capabilities.  According to Ha’aretz, “Iron Dome” funding “was not allotted an adequate budget. The Israel Defense Forces ducked away from funding the project with its budget, explaining that offensive readiness was a higher priority, and the Defense Ministry has been looking for other budgetary avenues.”

* Israel is violating U.S. law by misusing U.S. weapons and shouldn’t be eligible for additional aid. During the Bush Administration, Israel killed more than 3,000 innocent Palestinians, often with U.S. weapons, in violation of the Arms Export Control Act, which limits the use of U.S. weapons to “internal security” and “legitimate self-defense.”  Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip is not “internal” and intentionally killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure is never “legitimate.”

In addition, Israel’s systematic human rights abuses of Palestinians and its apartheid policies toward them place Israel in violation of the Foreign Assistance Act, which prohibits U.S. aid “to the government of any country which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”

Congress needs to follow the letter of the laws that it passed and hold Israel accountable for its violations of U.S. law, not reward it for doing so with even more military aid.

* Taking care of unmet needs of U.S. citizens is more important than funding military aid to Israel. Even before tacking on a possible additional $205 million in weapons for Israel, military aid to Israel comes at a financial price that the United States can’t afford.

$3 billion in military aid to Israel could fund instead 364,000 low-income households with affordable housing vouchers, or retrain 498,000 unemployed workers for green jobs, or provide early reading programs to 887,000 at-risk students, or provide access to primary health care services for more than 24 million uninsured Americans.  Find out how much your Congressional district pays in military aid to Israel and what it could fund instead by clicking here.

Don’t forget-please call the Capitol switchboard right now at (202) 224-3121, ask to be transferred to your Representative, and tell him/her to vote NO today on H.R.5327.

Posted in Activism/Divestment, News | Leave a Comment »

Democracy Now!: Israel Blocks Noam Chomsky from Entering West Bank to Deliver Speech

Posted by uscsjp on May 19, 2010

“On Sunday afternoon, Noam Chomsky was stopped by Israeli border guards at the Allenby Bridge border crossing from Jordan. After over three hours of questioning, Chomsky’s passport was stamped with ‘Denied Entry.’ He was scheduled to deliver a lecture at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah and was scheduled to meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. No reason was initially given for the decision, but the Interior Ministry later told Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz that officials were now trying to get clearance from the Israel Defense Forces. Noam Chomsky joins us now from Amman, Jordan…”

–Democracy Now!, 17 May, 2010

Posted in Blogroll, News | Leave a Comment »

Obama’s Simplistic Peace Plan and other news

Posted by uscsjp on May 10, 2010

New Israeli order allows for mass expulsion from West Bank

After finishing his prison sentence, Ahmed Sabah was deported to the Gaza Strip, away from his family in the West Bank. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)

RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) – Several Palestinians have set up a protest tent in no-man’s land in the northern Gaza Strip, near the Erez border crossing into Israel, as they protest their deportation from the Israeli occupied West Bank into Gaza where Hamas authorities have refused them entry.

Tens of thousands of other Palestinians face a possibly similar predicament in the near future. This follows a sweeping new Israeli military order which allows for the expulsion of Palestinians or foreigners whom Israel considers to be in the West Bank illegally as ‘infiltrators.’

Fadi Azameh, 19, from Hebron in the southern West Bank, was arrested at his place of employment by the Israeli military last week, held briefly at a military base before he was expelled to Gaza.

Azameh was born in Gaza but his family left the coastal territory and settled in the West Bank 12 years ago. He had not been back since.

Ahmed Sabah, a 40-year-old prisoner from the northern West Bank town of Tulkarem was also deported to Gaza after serving a lengthy prison sentence in an Israeli jail.

His wife and son, whom he had not seen since the boy was a baby, were informed that Sabah would not be attending a joyful reunion they had planned after he had already been released in Gaza.

The two Palestinians are refusing to leave the tent and have pleaded for international intervention in their case.

The Hamas authorities for their part have stated that they would not allow them into Gaza as this will encourage Israel to proceed with its policy…”

—Mel Frykberg, The Electronic Intifada, 7 May 2010

Also, from The Electronic Intifada

Will Obama adopt a dangerously simplistic peace plan?

“A new conventional wisdom is rapidly taking shape that the United States can resolve the 130-year-old conflict in Palestine by advancing its own peace plan. Former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and former US Congressman Stephen Solarz outlined such a plan in The Washington Post recently, and argued that President Obama could boost its prospects with a ‘bold gesture’ — a trip, to Jerusalem and Ramallah in the company of Arab and other leaders to unveil it (‘To achieve Mideast peace, Obama must make a bold Mideast trip,’ 11 April 2010)…”

–Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 3 May 2010

See also Noam Chomsky’s comments from a little less than one year ago…

“…Q: Do you see any difference between the policies of former US President George W. Bush and his successor Barack Obama regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

A: In substance, there is little difference. Obama has reiterated Bush’s positions, in virtually the same words. Like Bush, he has called for a ‘Palestinian state,’ and like Bush, he leaves what he means entirely vague. It can easily be interpreted to be the same as Netanyahu’s position in 1996, when he became the first Israeli prime minister to countenance the establishment of a Palestinian state, a fact that seems to be forgotten. Shimon Peres had just left office declaring forcefully that there would never be a Palestinian state. Netanyahu’s information minister, when asked whether he would adopt the same policy, answered that if Palestinians wanted to call the fragments left to them ‘a state,’ that was fine: Or they could call them ‘fried chicken.’ We do not know whether Obama means ‘fried chicken.’ We do know that he very carefully evaded the core of the Arab Peace Initiative that he praised…”

–Noam Chomsky interviewed by Richard Hall

The Daily Star, June 24, 2009

Also, Some Recent Headlines from Democracy Now!

2 Palestinian Civil Rights Activists Jailed

In Israel and the Occupied Territories, Israeli forces have jailed a leading Palestinian activist who campaigns for the equal treatment for Israel’s Arab citizens. Ameer Makhoul of the Popular Committee for the Defense of Political Freedom inside Israel was arrested at his home in Haifa this week. He has reportedly been jailed for at least six days and has been denied access to an attorney. His arrest follows the detention of another Palestinian activist, Dr. Omar Said, for 12 days…”

Democracy Now!, 7 May, 2010

“Israeli Settlers Accused of Burning West Bank Mosque

In Israel and the Occupied Territories, Palestinians are accusing Israeli settlers of responsibility for a fire that severely damaged a mosque near the West Bank town of Nablus. Worshippers say they arrived for morning prayers to find the mosque on fire. The mosque is located in the village of Libban al-Sharqua, which has been the site of previous settler attacks. The fire comes three weeks after another West Bank mosque was vandalized in a settler attack…”

Democracy Now!, 5 May, 2010

And A Reuters Article Posted by ‘The Angry Arab’:

Gaza tunnelers use torches to cut Egypt’s steel wall
10 May 2010 11:16:17 GMT

Source: Reuters
“By Nidal al-Mughrabi GAZA, May 10 (Reuters) – Palestinian tunnel-diggers are using welding torches to cut through a steel wall Egypt is building to block the smuggling of goods and weapons into the Gaza Strip, a tunnel operator said on Monday. ‘Even if the Egyptians installed 10 walls, we would find ways to cut through them,’ said tunnel builder Abu Nimer…”

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