USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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Archive for December, 2010

Top 10 “Wiki Leaks” On Palestine

Posted by uscsjp on December 26, 2010

“Wikileaks, the website set up to be a clearinghouse for classified information leaked through secure online channels, has once again published thousands of leaked documents, this time pertaining to American diplomacy around the world. The leaked reports are in the form of “cables” which are diplomatic communications or reports shared between embassies and U.S. diplomatic officials. The origins of the cables vary from different U.S. embassies around the globe to the Department of State in Washington, D.C. While the communications cover relations with many different countries, a significant portion deals with nations in the Middle East.

This post will focus on the most recent leaks as they relate to Palestine, and below are 10 of the more interesting passages relating to Palestine, the Palestinians and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Note that quotes in the text below are from the documents themselves, which may be paraphrased summaries of conversations and are not necessarily verbatim. There is very little here that should come as a surprise to those closely following the international relations of the Middle East and the politics around Palestine. These documents do, however, provide interesting context and color to these relations that were previously unavailable. Since this seems to be the first part of a large document dump by Wikileaks, I will update this post or create another one as the information becomes available.

#1. Qatar’s Prime Minister met with Senator John Kerry and discussed a variety of issues including Qatar’s views on the Palestinian issue. At the time, the Prime Minister suggested proximity talks which were ongoing between the Israelis and Palestinians would waste time – in his estimate 4-6 months. He also emphasized that negotiations without Hamas are unlikely to be fruitful since the “Palestinian Authority (PA) cannot sign off on an agreement on behalf of the Palestinians where open divisions exist.” To no one’s surprise, Qatar’s PM was not keen on the role Egypt has been playing in the region. Egypt, which has “no end game” in mind when it comes to brokering Hamas-Fatah reconciliation talks, is like a doctor relying on only one patient for business: “the physician is going to keep the patient alive but in the hospital for as long as possible.”

#2. Egypt’s head of General Intelligence Omar Suleiman would provide little evidence to suggest the Qatari leader’s criticism of their biased brokering was untrue. In a conversation with U.S. General Patreaus he stated that “Egypt’s three primary objectives with the Palestinians were to maintain calm in Gaza, undermine Hamas, and build popular support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. ” Suleiman also stated that Egypt would continue to be committed to Palestinian reconciliation. “It is hard,” he said, “but I am always optimistic. I consider myself a patient man, but I am loosing [sic] patience.”

#3. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) just before becoming prime minister again and forming the current Israeli coalition government. When describing “his approach to ‘economic peace’ with the Palestinians, Netanyahu suggested he would cut through bureaucratic obstacles to Palestinian economic development to build a ‘pyramid’ from the ‘bottom up’ that would strengthen the Palestinian Authority, and offer the Palestinians a viable alternative to radicalism.” He also indicated he wasn’t interested in a sovereign Palestinian state emerging in the West Bank, but rather “an agreement over territory,settlements and ‘refined’ Palestinian sovereignty without an army or control over air space and borders.” Further evidence of Netanyahu’s stance, which he states is not unlike Livni’s, is described in a cable about a meeting between Netanyahu and a Congressional Delegation (CODEL) in late April 2009. He states “A Palestinian state must be demilitarized, without control over its air space and electro-magnetic field, and without the power to enter into treaties or control its borders. Netanyahu concluded that he and opposition leader Tzipi Livni ‘only disagree about the name,’ i.e. the two-state solution.”

#4. An Israeli assessment of Palestinian leadership: “Of particular interest throughout the meetings was the subject of the Palestinian political situation. It was widely agreed that President Abbas is currently in a weakened political state, and Israeli officials generally cast a dour assessment of Abbas’s future. In one exchange, Amos Gilad stated his opinion that Abbas will not survive politically past the year 2011. Gilad further stated that Abbas is facing unprecedented criticism within the Palestinian Authority over his handling of the Goldstone report, and that this, coupled with a stubborn HAMAS, has weakened Abbas considerably. The Israelis said the perception in the Arab world was that the U.S. had encouraged Abbas to take difficult positions on Goldstone and settlements only to walk away from him. ASD Vershbow queried Gilad over measures that could be taken to bolster Abbas. Gilad responded by stating that Israeli-Palestinian peace discussions need to be resumed immediately, but without preconditions, and that both parties need to seek further cooperation on a range of issues — specifically on the security sector front. Gilad expressed optimism over the current atmosphere in the West Bank, citing improvements in the security and economic spheres, and further stated that the reduced Israeli Defense Force (IDF) footprint in the West Bank has made conditions ripe for advancing the relationship.”

#5. This cable, from a 2007 meeting between U.S. Congressmen and Netanyahu, sheds light on Netanayhu’s strategy vis-a-vis Hamas and Fatah: “Netanyahu said Abbas was a ‘nice man who means well,’ but he added that Israel and the U.S. should focus on ‘bringing down Hamas’ through an ‘economic squeeze’…Netanyahu predicted that Palestinians would vote for Abbas if they believe that he can deliver the money. He suggested putting in place an ‘economic squeeze with an address,’ so that Hamas would receive the popular blame.”

#6. Israel-PA consultations before Israeli assault on Gaza? According to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in this cable: ‘the GOI had consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead, asking if they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas. Not surprisingly, Barak said, the GOI received negative answers from both.’

#7. Europeans, particularly the French, are not pleased with their role in peace process: ‘A sense of frustration and ambition informs the French approach toward the Middle East peace process: they are frustrated that they must rely on the USG and on stubborn parties in the region to end a conflict whose persistence adversely affects their national interests, and they are ambitious to play a larger role in the peace process, in order to facilitate a successful outcome and to enjoy the prestige that such a role would earn them. As a case in point, last week Kouchner had to cancel a planned visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories in part because of the continuing tension there, and in part because of Israel’s refusal to allow him to visit a French hospital in Gaza.’

#8. Germans suggested using Goldstone Reports at UNSC as leverage over Israel’s policy of home demolition: ‘Heusgen said that Germany “perceives this differently” and thought Netanyahu needed “to do more” in order bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table. With Palestinians in East Jerusalem getting notices from Israeli authorities that their houses will be destroyed, it would be ‘suicide’ for President Abbas to move under the current circumstances. Heusgen said he could not fathom why Netanyahu did not understand this. He suggested pressuring Netanyahu by linking favorable UNSC treatment of the Goldstone Report to Israel committing to a complete stop in settlement activity. Gordon said that making a direct linkage between the two would almost certainly be counterproductive, but agreed that it was worth pointing out to the Israelis that their policy on settlements was making it difficult for their friends to hold the line in the UNSC. Heusgen said this certainly would be an issue when Netanyahu and ‘half of his cabinet’ visit Berlin on November 30 for bilateral government consultations.”

#9. UAE reaction to Hamas 06 election victory: The UAE ‘felt the Muslim Brotherhood rally behind Hamas’ after its electoral victory in the Palestinian territories, and that the Hamas victory should be a lesson to the West. UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid sounded a note of optimism when he told Secretary Rice February 23 that Hamas, ‘with some pressure,’ would understand the need to respect the will of the international community.”

#10. Israel loves cooperation with PA: Amos Gilad ‘noted that Israeli-PA security and economic cooperation in the West Bank continues to improve as Jenin and Nablus flourish, and described Palestinian security forces as the “good guys.”‘


Bonus #11. French President Sarkozy called Prime Minister Netanyahu directly on October 26, to urge him to establish an independent investigation into the actions of the Israeli Defense Forces in the Gaza conflict. Sarkozy told Netanyahu that such a step would decrease pressure on Israel and its allies stemming from the Goldstone Report, but Netanyahu responded briskly: ‘No way.’ This preceded an Israeli-French strategic dialogue which included significant discussion about the peace process. The French and the Israelis did not see eye to eye and this made an Israeli official to describe ‘Franco-Israeli discussions on the status of the peace process itself resembled a “conversation of the deaf”.’


Bonus #12 Ireland took issue with the US sending weapons to Israel in the past. This cable states that the Irish ‘Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)’ made a ‘oral but definitive decision during the Lebanon conflict to forbid U.S. military transits carrying munitions to Israel’ the cable goes on to cite the ‘Irish public’s overwhelming opposition to Israeli military actions in Lebanon’. I wonder what they think after Gaza…”

–Yousef, Permission to Narrate, 25 Dec, 2010

Gaza aid ship returns to Turkey

“Thousands of pro-Palestinian activists in the Turkish city of Istanbul welcomed the return of the Mavi Marmara, a ship part of an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip that was subject to a deadly Israeli raid in May.

Hundreds of balloons were released on Sunday as the Mavi Marmara sailed into Istanbul’s Sarayburnu port, following repairs at a port on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. The ship is owned by a Turkish charity, the Foundation for Human Rights, Freedom and Humanitarian Relief (IHH).

The activists waved Palestinian and Turkish flags and chanted ‘Down with Israel’ and ‘Allah is great’ as they greeted the vessel.

Protesters also boarded boats to welcome the approaching ship, which was draped with a banner of faces of the nine activists from Turkey who were killed during the raid.

The ship was part of an international flotilla carrying supplies to Gaza in a campaign to breach the blockade when Israeli troops intercepted the convoy.

According to IHH, the Mavi Marmara will be part of a new flotilla set to leave for Gaza on May 31, 2011, exactly one year after the deadly raid…”

–Al Jazeera, 26 Dec 2010


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Students Protest Israeli Army Campus Visits

Posted by uscsjp on December 10, 2010

Some Recent Headlines from Democracy Now!

U.S. Drops Incentives Deal for Partial Israeli Settlement Freeze

“The Obama administration says it’s withdrawing an offer of sweeping incentives to Israel in return for a limited settlement freeze in the occupied West Bank. Israel was reportedly promised 20 advanced F-35 warplanes worth around $3 billion and a U.S. pledge to veto U.N. resolutions deemed hostile to Israeli policies. Israel would have been free to continue building settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and then throughout the West Bank after just 90 days. Israel reportedly rejected a similar offer in September out of a blanket refusal to stop any settlement expansion but revived negotiations last month. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak says the latest talks were sidelined following the WikiLeaks release of diplomatic cables and the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. In Washington, State Department spokesperson P.J. Crowley gave few details on why the administration had dropped the plan.

P.J. Crowley: ‘We thought for a period of time that the moratorium, and then a resumption of the moratorium, might be the best mechanism to advance a meaningful and sustained dialogue between the parties. We’ve come to the conclusion that that is not the best basis to move forward. We will have further conversations on the substance with the parties and will continue to try to find ways to create the kind of confidence that will eventually, we hope, allow them to engage directly.’

Palestinians and critics of the Obama administration’s Mideast policy had widely denounced the incentives. This week, the linguist and political analyst Noam Chomsky wrote: ‘Washington’s pathetic capitulation to Israel while pleading for a meaningless three-month [settlement] freeze… should go down as one of the most humiliating moments in U.S. diplomatic history.'”


–Democracy Now!, 8 December, 2010


Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay Recognize Palestinian State in Occupied Territories

“The Palestinian effort for statehood has received a boost with recognition from three South American countries. Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have each declared their recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip based on the 1967 borders. Argentine Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman announced his government’s stance on Monday.

Héctor Timerman: ‘The president of the nation, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, sent a letter to the president of the National Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, saying that the Argentine government recognizes Palestine as a free and independent state in the borders as they were in 1967 and according to what the parties determined during the negotiation process.’

Israel has harshly condemned the moves as an affront to the so-called ‘peace process.’ With U.S. support, Israel has insisted on maintaining control of large Jewish-only settlement blocs that carve up the West Bank. Aid groups meanwhile continue to denounce the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip and ongoing restrictions in the West Bank. Kate Allen of Amnesty International said Palestinians are being ‘systematically’ deprived of water.

Kate Allen: ‘There is a systematic and deliberate means of stopping water getting to Palestinian families, and that is having a dramatic effect upon the way in which people are able to live their lives. Water is an absolute basic necessity. It’s a human right. It is shocking to see that the Israeli government is behaving in this way.’

–Democracy Now!, 7 December, 2010


And From The Electronic Intifada:

Why We Walked Out


“Students across the US are protesting a public relations campaign that brings soldiers from the Israeli army to speak on campuses. These tours are an attempt to justify recent war crimes committed by the army and are coordinated by various organizations, the most well-known being the Zionist organization StandWithUs.

Our protests have drawn attention to the massive Israeli human rights abuses in the occupied Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The protests started on 20 October 2010, when two Israeli army soldiers visited the University of Michigan campus. Students, staff and community members collectively engaged in a silent walk-out in memory of and in solidarity with the Palestinian children who were silenced by the Israeli military during Israel’s three-week bombardment of the Gaza Strip in winter 2008-09.

As students at the University of Michigan, we simply could not let these soldiers attempt to justify atrocities on our college campus. We decided that a silent protest would be a creative way to give voice to the victims of these human rights abuses, but we had no idea that our protest would spark such momentum, strengthening the growing sense of collaboration and unity across the nation and inspiring international solidarity across college campuses. Specifically, it was the protest footage that allowed our actions to resonate with many other universities and communities across the world (video available on YouTube).

Two weeks after the Israeli soldiers visited the University of Michigan, on 2 November 2010 Israeli army Sergeant Nadav Weinberg came to Arizona State University to speak about the purported ethics of the Israeli military. In response, a diverse group of Arizona State University students joined together to protest his lecture. At Arizona State University, we protested the sergeant in order to highlight the inherent contradiction between the Israeli army’s claims of ethical action and their numerous human rights violations, including attacks on densely-populated civilian areas, policies of disproportionate force and use of Palestinians as human shields.

Inspired by the protest at the University of Michigan, the Arizona State University protest was also silent. We believe that this use of silence was intrinsic to the success of both student-led protests. We knew that demonstrations that focus on the human rights situation in Palestine are often delegitimized for their methodology, and not for their message. Our silence, on the other hand, left no room for the soldiers, organizers, or attendees to attempt to impugn our action. We stood in silence to honor those who have been silenced by Israeli atrocities. Our shirts spoke for us, bearing the names of the dead to draw awareness to the human rights violations that have been committed by the very same forces that these soldiers represented.

StandWithUs described a soldier who spoke at the University of Michigan, Shai, as a member of the “elite Givati infantry brigade.” The Israeli Military Police investigated this same brigade for an air strike during the Gaza invasion that targeted a civilian home, killing 21 civilians, including women and children, and wounding 19 more.

For our protests, we decided to use methods of nonviolent resistance, acting in solidarity with the thousands of Palestinians who protest nonviolently against the illegal Israeli occupation, illegal Israeli settlements and illegal Israeli system of apartheid. In doing so, we follow in a long-established tradition of nonviolent protests that led to drastic social change: the civil rights movement in the United States, the Gandhian movement for Indian independence and the recent Freedom Flotilla to Gaza.

Our message is clear: as students, we will not tolerate Israeli human rights abuses. In organizing these protests, we hope to revive the spirit of movements that led to civil rights, equal rights for women and an end to South African apartheid. In this way, our nonviolent protests can serve as a model for global citizens to express their discontent with Israel’s policy towards Palestinians. As students in the US, it is our responsibility to critique our government and educational institutions for their unquestioning support for Israeli atrocities. Let it be known: whenever Israel and its supporters attempt to whitewash war crimes, they will be challenged with truth and justice.

Ahmad Hasan is a junior studying brain behavior and cognitive sciences and philosophy at the University of Michigan. He is the co-chair of Students Allied for Freedom & Equality (SAFE) and worked to coordinate the silent walk-out protest at Michigan.

Danielle Bäck is a junior premedical student at Arizona State University. She is the media coordinator for Students for Justice in Palestine at Arizona State University, as well as the co-president of the ASU Coalition for Human Rights.”


The Electronic Intifada, 3 December, 2010



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NGO Monitor Attacks Electronic Intifada while Wikileaks Rattles the Empire

Posted by uscsjp on December 2, 2010

Why NGO Monitor is attacking The Electronic Intifada


“NGO Monitor has launched a campaign targeting a Dutch foundation’s financial support to The Electronic Intifada, accusing the publication among other things of ‘anti-Semitism.’ NGO Monitor is an extreme right-wing group with close ties to the Israeli government, military, West Bank settlers, a man convicted of misleading the US Congress, and to notoriously Islamophobic individuals and organizations in the United States.

NGO Monitor’s campaign of public defamation against The Electronic Intifada has focused on a grant the publication receives from the Dutch foundation ICCO. NGO Monitor has pressured the Dutch government, which subsidizes ICCO, to end its support for The Electronic Intifada. Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal has apparently already lent public credence to NGO Monitor’s campaign against The Electronic Intifada, an independent publication established in February 2001 and read by thousands daily…”


–Report, The Electronic Intifada, 30 November 2010

Also From The Electronic Intifada:
WikiLeaks’ harsh lesson on imperial hubris

“The WikiLeaks disclosure this week of confidential cables from United States embassies has been debated chiefly in terms either of the damage to Washington’s reputation or of the questions it raises about national security and freedom of the press.

The headlines aside, most of the information so far revealed from the 250,000 documents is hardly earth-shattering, even if it often runs starkly counter to the official narrative of the US as the benevolent global policeman, trying to maintain order amid an often unruly rabble of underlings.

Is it really surprising that US officials appear to have been trying to spy on senior United Nations staff, and just about everyone else for that matter? Or that Israel has been lobbying strenuously for military action to be taken against Iran? Or even that Saudi Arabia feels threatened by an Iranian nuclear bomb? All of this was already largely understood; the leaks have simply provided official confirmation.

The new disclosures, however, do provide a useful insight, captured in the very ordinariness of the diplomatic correspondence, into Washington’s own sense of the limits on its global role — an insight that was far less apparent in the previous WikiLeaks revelations on the US army’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Underlying the gossip and analysis sent back to Washington is an awareness from many US officials stationed abroad of quite how ineffective — and often counter-productive — much US foreign policy is.

While the most powerful nation on earth is again shown to be more than capable of throwing its weight around in bullying fashion, a cynical resignation nonetheless shines through many of the cables, an implicit recognition that even the top dog has to recognize its limits…”

–Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 30 November 2010

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