USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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

Archive for June, 2011

Alice Walker Joins Gaza Flotilla

Posted by uscsjp on June 28, 2011

It Takes People on the Outside: Prestigious Author Alice Walker to Confront Israeli Naval Blockade of Gaza on U.S. Aid Ship

“AMY GOODMAN: Israel continues to threaten a group of international activists planning to sail to Gaza this week with humanitarian aid. The Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said participants in the 10-boat flotilla are seeking, quote, ‘confrontation and blood.’ Last year Israeli forces killed nine people aboard the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara. One of them was a U.S. citizen.

Meanwhile, activists say one of the 10 boats scheduled to set sail to Gaza has been sabotaged in a Greek port. Saboteurs reportedly cut off the propeller shaft of a ship shared by Swedish, Norwegian and Greek activists. Organizers say the boat will be repaired in time to sail to Gaza.

One of the other ships that will try to reach Gaza from Greece is The Audacity of Hope. It’s set to carry up to 50 U.S. citizens carrying letters to Gaza residents. One of the ship’s passengers is the acclaimed author, the poet, the activist, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker. She’s written many books, among them, The Color Purple. On Monday, Alice Walker spoke at a Freedom Flotilla news conference in the Greek capital of Athens…”

–Democracy Now!, 28 June, 2011

See Also:

Obama Admin Warns of “Fines and Incarceration” if U.S. Citizens Set Sail with Gaza Aid Flotilla


And from The Electronic Intifada

“Now it’s all gone”: Women cope with siege in Jordan Valley

“Israeli military forces have demolished 27 houses in the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank over the last two weeks. More than 140 Palestinians have been rendered homeless by the demolitions, while Israeli settlement expansion continues to threaten more land and restrict water access — affecting the vitality of dozens of Palestinian villages in the area…”

–Nora Barrows-Friedman, The Electronic Intifada, 24 June 2011




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“On deaf ears: Obama’s message to Israel”

Posted by uscsjp on June 22, 2011

“Late May’s extraordinary sequence of speeches and meetings involving US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – and the commentary surrounding it from official circles in both countries – did not make for an edifying interlude. The week beginning May 19 will not be remembered for displays of farsighted statecraft, or high moral courage. What we saw instead was brash, unapologetic chauvinism from Netanyahu, an outright refusal of moral leadership from Obama, and acts of political cowardice and opportunism from the US Congress outrageous even by the low standards of that frequently ignominious body.

But that is not to say that the week’s display was not useful. On the contrary, much of importance was accomplished. Now, more clearly than ever, we can see the future. For if there were any questions remaining about the current nature and direction of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, May’s events have put an end to them. Zionism is far from dead, and will surely survive, at least in altered form. But a fundamental change in the nature of the Israeli state has become inevitable….

…Robert L Grenier is chairman of ERG Partners, a financial advisory and consulting firm. He retired from the CIA in 2006, following a 27-year career in the CIA’s Clandestine Service. Mr Grenier served as Director of the CIA Counter-Terrorism Center (CTC) from 2004 to 2006, coordinated CIA activities in Iraq from 2002 to 2004 as the Iraq Mission Manager, and was the CIA Chief of Station in Islamabad, Pakistan before and after the 9/11 attacks.

Previously, he was the deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia, and also served as the CIA’s chief of operational training. He is credited with founding the CIA’s Counter-proliferation Division. Grenier is now a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and speaks and writes frequently on foreign policy issues…”

–Al Jazeera English, 5 June, 2011 

For further background, check out the Finkelstein-Ben Ami Democracy Now Debate

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“I <3 Hamas" Show About Palestinian-American Identity in LA

Posted by uscsjp on June 16, 2011

JUNE 9-25th

After our successful 6 week run in LA earlier this year, I Heart Hamas: And Other Things I’m Afraid to Tell You is back this June as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. We have 4 shows -that’s ONLY FOUR- left and they’re selling quick so get your tickets now!

Tickets are $15 and available online BUY TIX


THERE ARE $5 student tickets available USE THE DISCOUNT CODE
 when buying your tickets 

Please Forward to a Friend & Support Palestinian Narratives Onstage!




Fri, 6/17@2:00pm
Mon, 6/20@7:00pm

Tues, 6/21@7:00pm
Sat, 6/25@12:30pm


All performances at:

Theatre Asylum

6320 Santa Monica Blvd.

Los Angeles, California 90038


I Heart Hamas: And Other Things I’m Afraid to Tell You
Actress and writer Jennifer Jajeh, with award winning director W. Kamau Bell, presents I Heart Hamas, a tragicomic solo theater show. Sick and tired of the unsolicited discussions, debate and disagreements about her identity and her opinions about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Jennifer tries to figure it out for herself. Join her on American and Palestinian soil on auditions, bad dates, and across military checkpoints as she navigates the thorny terrain around Palestinian identity.





Listen to our most recent radio interviews from the last 2 weeks archived here:


“Jennifer Jajeh has an interesting story to tell. Sometimes-humorous, sometimes-disturbing… her discoveries of what life in Ramallah is like for Palestinians may be revelatory for most Americans.”

“Incredibly funny! Jajeh’s talent for storytelling with a combustive blend of humor and pathos is on full display… (Jajeh) has created a fresh, irreverent, and heartfelt take on trans-national identity politics and representations of the 
Middle East

NBC (San Francisco)
“Best Events in the City” pick. “If you don’t go, the terrorists win: This witty Palestinian-American girl coolly shows us how her daily life is affected by today’s politics”

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Mother Jones: Why Google Earth Can’t Show You Israel

Posted by uscsjp on June 15, 2011

Why Google Earth Can’t Show You Israel

By Hamed Aleaziz | Fri Jun. 10, 2011 10:16 AM PDT

Since Google launched its Google Earth feature in 2005 [1], the company has become a worldwide leader in providing high-resolution satellite imagery. In 2010, Google Earth allowed the world to see the extent of the destruction in post-earthquake Haiti [2]. This year, Google released similar images after Japan’s deadly tsunami [3]and earthquake. With just one click, Google can bring the world—and a better understanding of far-away events—to your computer.

There is one entire country, however, that Google Earth won’t show you: Israel [4].

That’s because, in 1997, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act [5], one section of which is titled, “Prohibition on collection and release of detailed satellite imagery relating to Israel.” The amendment, known as the Kyl-Bingaman Amendment, calls for a federal agency, the NOAA’s Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs [6], to regulate the dissemination of zoomed-in images of Israel.

When asked about the regulation, a Google spokeswoman said to Mother Jones, “The images in Google Earth are sourced from a wide range of both commercial and public sources. We source our satellite imagery from US-based companies who are subject to US law, including the Kyl-Bingaman Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997, which limits the resolution of imagery of Israel that may be commercially distributed.”

And it’s not just Israel. The regulation also applies to the occupied territories. It’s why Human Rights Watch can’t provide detailed imagery of the Gaza Strip in its reports. Of course, this regulation cuts both ways; one also cannot see the destruction in Sderot resulting from rockets sent out of Gaza [7].

But, the impact of the regulation might be dwindling; after all, the US can only regulate the actions of American corporations. Turkey recently announced that its GokTurk satellite [8] will provide high-resolution imagery of Israel when it becomes operational in 2013. Israel is unhappy with this possibility: An Israeli official told Al-Arabiya, “We try to ensure that we are not photographed at high resolutions, and most (countries) accommodate us.” The official adds: “Should we request this of the Turks? We won’t ask for it. There is no one to talk to.”

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Democracy Now’s Sharif Abdel Kouddous in Rafah

Posted by uscsjp on June 7, 2011

Trapped in Gaza: Rafah Crossing Closed to Palestinians Soon After Egyptian Pledge to Reopen It

“In the Gaza Strip, the Hamas government has asked Egypt to drop restrictions on the Rafah border crossing, just days after the checkpoint opened last week. In a major policy shift, Egypt’s transition government had unsealed the Rafah border after years of closure under ousted Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak. But less than a week later, Egypt imposed a cap of 400 people per day, turning back busloads of people that had been cleared for passage. On Saturday, the border was sealed completely, causing angry Palestinians to storm the gates in protests. Democracy Now!’s Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar were one of the few teams of foreign journalists to witness the scene at the Rafah border, and they file this report from the Gaza Strip…”

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Rafah Crossing Woes

Posted by uscsjp on June 6, 2011

Latest Updates from Democracy Now!

Israeli Forces Kill Palestinian Demonstrations on Syria Border

The Israeli military has killed a number of unarmed protesters on Israel’s border with Syria for the second time in less than a month. Up to 23 people were killed and over 350 wounded when Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian demonstrators who stormed the border area from Syria. The protesters had gathered to mark the 44th anniversary of the 1967 Middle East war, when Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria along with the West Bank Gaza, and Sinai desert. There is no evidence any of the demonstrators carried weapons. They had entered the buffer zone on the border by cutting through wires and crawling on the ground. In a statement, the Obama administration refused to condemn the killings, suggesting the shootings fell within Israel’s “right to defend itself. Thirteen Palestinians were killed when Israeli troops opened fire on protesters at the Syrian border and other crossings last month on the day marking the anniversary ofIsrael’s founding, what Palestinians call the Nakba, or the catastrophe.

Egypt Closes Gaza Border After Brief Opening

Egypt has closed the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip just days after a widely publicized re-opening last week. Most of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents have been barred from going abroad since the imposition of the blockade in 2007. Despite opening the border,Egypt had maintained a number of restrictions limiting cross-border movement before ultimately imposing a complete halt on Saturday.

Thousands of Israelis Rally for Palestinian State

In Israel, thousands of people rallied in Tel Aviv to denounce Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opposition to a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. It was one of the largest pro-peace rallies Israel has seen in years.

Adam Keller: “Israelshould recognize the state of Palestine. Israel should make peace with the Palestinians. Israel should accept the 67’ borders as the basis of peace. We think that the government is leading us to disaster, that Netanyahu is leading us to disaster.”

Rafah crossing open, but restrictions remain

The Electronic Intifada


2 June 2011

RAFAH, occupied Gaza Strip (IRIN) – The opening of Rafah on 28 May, the only official border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, has created a lifeline for Palestinians living in Gaza. But some, mostly refugees, will still be restricted to their localities because they lack identification papers.

Palestinians were allowed to pass freely from Gaza into Egypt through Rafah for the first time in four years. The decision marked a huge shift in Egyptian foreign policy, introduced after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, and provides a critical valve for the 1.6 million people trapped within Gaza’s borders since June 2007.

The crossing was partially opened in May last year after the deaths of international activists on board a flotilla attempting to break the siege. It operated a five-day week, from noon until 4pm, but was open only to foreign passport-holders, Palestinians with foreign visas and medical patients.

The restrictions had made it incredibly difficult for Palestinians to enter Egypt, even on genuine medical grounds. From April 2011 to date, around 2,100 Palestinians have been denied entry into Egypt for unspecified reasons, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Under the new rules, all women, minors and any man under 18 and over 40 will be able to pass freely without a visa six days a week from 9am until 4pm.

Mohamed Matar, 39, a shopkeeper from Rafah, who was among the thousands of people lining up at the crossing on 28 May hoping to leave Gaza, said: “I won’t be 40 until October but I’m still going to try. My Mom is in Egypt and very sick with Alzheimer’s. She is 80 years old and none of her sons are with her. We are all here inGaza.

“When I speak to her on the phone she sounds very tired and weak. I’m afraid she will die. If I get through the border tomorrow, at least I can sit with her for a week so that she recognizes me again.”

Not everyone happy

Not all Palestinians are as optimistic. For men aged 18-40, the reopening makes little difference. Unless they can provide proof of having a place at university abroad or a foreign visa, they will remain stuck in the Gaza Strip.

There are also hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza, mostly refugees, without identification documents who cannot leave. While it officially withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Israel retains control of its maritime, air and most of its land borders. It also retains control of its population registry, including the issuance of Palestinian ID numbers without which it is impossible to travel.

Sana Easa, 39, has not seen her family in Cairo since she moved to Gaza to marry her husband Salah 12 years ago. Both need medical treatment unavailable inGaza’s hospitals, but even with the new policy at Rafah, they are stuck.

Sanais a Palestinian but was born inCairoand lived there most of her life. Her parents left Gazaas refugees in 1967. Her Egyptian passport expired in April 2004 but in order to renew it, she must go toCairoin person. She is still waiting for the Palestinian ID number she applied for 12 years ago.

“The last time I tried to cross Rafah with my husband was in May 2010,” she says. “We got to the Palestinian border at 4am and reached the Egyptian side at 11pm. The Egyptian officials told my husband he and my son could pass through but they told me that because I have expired Egyptian travel documents and I don’t have a Palestinian ID I had to turn back.

“At 1am we decided we would come home together. My husband refuses to go to Egypt for the operation alone. He will be a patient and will need help. It was a disaster. This new opening means nothing to me because I know my case.”

The border opened at 10am local time on 28 May and within ninety minutes 200 Palestinians had crossed into Egypt. Travelers coming in the opposite direction spoke of huge changes on the Egyptian side of the border.

“It’s incredible. Anyone who came to the terminal, they just stamped their passport and gave them entry just like that. I am from Gaza and have a black passport but there were many different passports coming through — yellow, blue, red. There was a huge difference,” Hamad Yusef told IRIN.

Israeli concerns dismissed

Israelobjects to the reopening, saying that Hamas militants will funnel weapons into Gaza through Rafah.

Dismissing Israeli concerns about increased security threats to their borders, Ghazi Hamad, director of crossings in Gaza, said that Hamas and Egypt had proved — over the past four years, during which they had run Rafah crossing without European Union or Israeli supervision — that they could operate according to international standards. Claims that weapons, drugs and criminals had been smuggled through the border were false, he said.

“This is a very important day for Gaza… For four years we have been living under a siege. Now not all our problems are solved, but it’s better.

“We are in talks with the Egyptians and hope that the restrictions applied to men aged 18-40 will be lifted soon.”

This item comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. All IRIN material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

CAIRO(IPS) – Throughout ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule, the 1979 Camp David agreement served to keep the peace between historical foes Egypt and Israel. But since Mubarak’s February departure, popular calls for the treaty’s abrogation have grown louder.

“Egypt’s march towards liberation that began with the Jan. 25 Revolution will not be complete until this dishonorable agreement is scrapped,” Mohamed Mahmoud, founding member of the Cairo-based Arab/Islamic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (A/IFLP) told IPS.

Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), in one of its first official announcements on , declared that Egypt remained committed “to all regional and international obligations and treaties.” Most observers saw the statement as a specific reference to the Camp David peace agreement.

The SCAF, which has vowed to hold free parliamentary and presidential elections within one year, has governed the country since Mubarak’s ouster on .

But despite the ruling council’s assurances, Egyptian opponents of the peace treaty with Israel have become increasingly active in recent months.

Since Mubarak’s removal, Egypt has seen a number of demonstrations in front of Israel’s embassy in Cairo and consulate in Alexandria. Protesters have demanded that the country’s new rulers cut diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv, reopen Egypt’s border with the besieged Gaza Strip, and — most contentiously — withdraw from Camp David.

On , thousands of demonstrators amassed outside the Israeli embassy, eventually clashing with police in scenes reminiscent of the 18-day Tahrir Uprising. Hundreds suffered excessive teargas inhalation (two of them reportedly died as a consequence), while more than 350 were arrested and hauled before military courts (most have since been conditionally released).

Only two days earlier, as part of a planned “Third Intifada,” hundreds of thousands of Egyptians had gathered in Cairo’s Tahir Square in a show of solidarity with their Palestinian brethren. Members of the A/IFLP — formed by a handful of activists after Egypt’s revolution — used the occasion to collect signatures for a petition calling for the abrogation of Camp David.

“We’ve collected more than 5,000 signatures today alone,” Mahmoud said at the time. “We’re aiming to gather one million signatures, which we will then present to the transitional government.”

He added “I don’t think this is unrealistic since most Egyptians oppose the agreement.”

Notably, a recent poll by the Pew polling agency found that 54 percent of the Egyptian public are in favor of the treaty’s annulment.

Signed in 1979, the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty called for the return of the Sinai Peninsula, occupied byIsraelin 1967, toEgypt. In exchange, Egypt established full diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv, making it the first Arab country to do so.

Jordan, which signed its own peace deal in 1994, remains the only other Arab country to officially recognize the self-proclaimed Jewish state.

But the return of Sinai to Egypt under Camp David came with strings attached. Most importantly, the treaty tightly restricts Egyptian military deployments on the peninsula, turning Sinai’s entire eastern frontier — including Egypt’s roughly 220-kilometer border with Israel— into a de facto demilitarized zone.

In the three decades since it was signed, the official “peace” that Camp David instituted has never been more than a cold one.

“For 30 years the agreement prevented tensions that might have otherwise led to war, but it never led to a genuine normalization of relations,” Abdel Menaam al-Mashaat, political science professor at Cairo University, told IPS. “Given Israel’s continued mistreatment of the Palestinians, the Egyptian public has consistently opposed normalization.”

Yet despite frequent domestic criticism of Camp David’s terms, Mubarak’s Egypt assiduously upheld its end of the bargain.

“Even before Mubarak’s departure, the idea of modifying the treaty in Egypt’s favor was often discussed,” Tarek Fahmi, director of the Israeli desk at the Cairo-based National Centre for Middle East Studies told IPS. “But these discussions never reached the implementation phase.”

According to Mahmoud, Camp David represented “a central pillar of the former regime,” which, despite Mubarak’s overthrow, “nevertheless still remains intact.”

“We’re calling for the treaty’s annulment because it restricts Egyptian military deployment on its own sovereign territory, thus limiting its ability to defend itself,” he said. “What’s more, Camp David forces Egypt to recognize Israel, thereby legitimizing the latter’s flagrant rape of Palestinian land.”

Not everyone, however, believes the treaty should be scrapped willy-nilly.

“A hasty withdrawal from the agreement could lead to unpredictable escalations, including permanent military mobilization or — in the most dangerous scenario — war,” said al-Mashaat.

Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood movement, which many believe could play a major role in Egypt’s post-election government, has formally stated its commitment to respect “all international treaties” to which Egyptis signatory — including Camp David.

Some Brotherhood officials, however, have also said the issue should ultimately be decided by the public.

“After elections, a national referendum should be held on whether or not to withdraw from the treaty,” leading Brotherhood member Saad al-Husseini told IPS. “In either case, we’ll support the will of the people.”

In light of recent, post-revolutionary Egyptian policy changes, Fahmi believes an official request for the treaty’s modification is on the cards.

“Egypt’s transitional government is gradually dealing with outstanding issues relating to Palestine: gas exports to Israel have been halted, the Gazaborder reopened, and a deal between Hamas and Fatah brokered,” he said. “Now the government will likely turn its attention to the Camp David file.”

According to Fahmi, Israeli officials have anticipated such a request and are “currently in the process of drawing up an alternative arrangement.”

Israeli officialdom, for its part, has been largely silent on the issue.

In a related development on Friday last week, thousands of Jordanians staged demonstrations in Amman to protest government corruption and demand the termination ofJordan’s 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

All rights reserved, IPS – Inter Press Service (2011). Total or partial publication, retransmission or sale forbidden.

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