USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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

Archive for September, 2014

AFP: US slams Abbas UN speech as ‘offensive’

Posted by uscsjp on September 27, 2014

The United States on Friday slammed Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas’ speech at the United Nations, saying it was “offensive” and undermined peace efforts.

“President Abbas’ speech today included offensive characterizations that were deeply disappointing and which we reject,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

“Such provocative statements are counterproductive and undermine efforts to create a positive atmosphere and restore trust between the parties,” she said.

In his address to the UN General Assembly, Abbas demanded an end to occupation, accused Israel of waging a “war of genocide” in Gaza and asserted that Palestinians faced a future in a “most abhorrent form of apartheid” under Israeli rule.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also blasted Abbas, accusing him of “diplomatic terrorism.”

–Agence-France Press, Sept 27, 2014

http://www.afp.com/en/node/2881681

Judge for Yourself: Full Text of Abbas Speech Here.

Advertisements

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Juan Cole: Must Muslim Americans Condemn IS? Must Turkish Jews Condemn Gaza War?

Posted by uscsjp on September 17, 2014

This post originally ran on Juan Cole’s Web page.

During the recent Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, a controversy broke out in Turkey about whether Turkish Jews were required to condemn Israel’s actions, as some pro-Palestinian Turks suggested.

  Turkish Jewish intellectuals wrote in an open letter to the newspaper Hurriyyet [“Liberty,” Istanbul]:

“”Israel’s latest attack on Gaza led, once again, to cries of ‘Why does the Jewish community remain silent?’ A campaign was even launched that claimed that the Jews of Turkey bear responsibility for what Israel does in Gaza.

“No citizen of this country is under any obligation to account for, interpret or comment on any event that takes place elsewhere in the world, and in which he/she has no involvement. There is no onus on the Jewish community of Turkey, therefore, to declare an opinion on any matter at all.

“It is anyway not possible for a community of 20,000 to declare a unified opinion. No human community can be monolithic and the Jewish community is not. Its members include people of all kinds, with a great variety of views.”

Many Jewish organizations stigmatized the demand as Antisemitism.

Asking people to take stances based on their ascribed identity (what they were born into most often) rather than on the basis of their individual choices in life goes against everything that modern human rights thinking stands for.  It is like forcing all Russian-Americans to say publicly what they think about Vladimir Putin.

So if all this is correct, and it certainly is, why do right wing Americans continue to demand that Muslim-Americans condemn Muslim extremists in the Middle East?  They have nothing to do with the latter and aren’t responsible for them.  Some of the inhabitants of the American Southwest in the early modern period were secret Muslims from southern Spain who had been forcibly converted to Catholicism by the Inquisition.  My birthplace, Albuquerque, is an Arabic word (al-Barquqi).  Some 10% of the some 4 million Africans kidnapped and trafficked to Southern landowners as slaves in the U.S. before the slave trade was abolished were Muslim.  Hundreds of thousands of people practiced Islam in North America long before there was a United States.  The White House was built with slave labor and likely some of that was Muslim labor.  Some of the founding Fathers likely owned Muslim slaves.  As late as the 1930s, elderly ex-slaves reported in interviews that they remembered their mothers bowing toward the east at dawn.  Some Arab-American Muslims can trace their family roots in the U.S. back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.  The religion is an American religion, deeply interwoven with American history and Muslim-Americans are not responsible for developments in the contemporary Middle East.

So they shouldn’t have to, but they do:

VOA: “U.S. Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State” 

 

Juan Cole, Truthdig, September 16, 2014,

 

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/must_muslim_americans_condemn_isil_turkish_jews_condemn_gaza_war_20140916

Posted in Analysis | Leave a Comment »

UNRWA: Why are Gaza’s kids so eager to get back to school?

Posted by uscsjp on September 9, 2014

Greetings!

 

The children of Gaza have suffered greatly during this war – for losing lives, parents and homes. They’ve lost enough. When you donate, you ensure that as the school year begins on September 14, they won’t miss out on continuing their education.
Izziddin doing a sprint in the school yard

Izziddin Hamada, 11 and Amal Al Omari, 13 are currently taking refuge in the Beach Elementary Boys School, which serves as a shelter for those displaced by this war. Izziddin’s wish to return to school is for a rather simple reason, “I want a long ceasefire to return to school. I want the blockade to end so that I can travel abroad. I want to study medicine in the future so that I can treat my sick mother.

As for Amal, her father died of cancer before the war. But before he departed, he built them a fabulous home. The home was completely flattened during the current war, leaving Amal, her mum and four siblings homeless. Amal’s wish for an education is like Izziddin’s – to make a better future for herself and others. She says, “I want to have our house rebuilt. I want peace. I want the borders to open so that my mother can travel abroad to undergo her eye surgery and I can continue education. After finishing high school, I would like to study Journalism.

Amal writing ‘Palestine’ on the blackboard of the school serving as her family’s shelter

When you give, you can educate a child like Izziddin or an entire classroom of kids like him. You can allow a Gaza student like Amal to undertake distance learning if she is experiencing difficulty accessing a school. And for the tens of thousands that require specialized psychosocial support, you can provide them with counseling sessions to help them deal with the horrors of a pitiless war.

You can make a difference in the present and future of a child of Gaza. The math is simple.

USD 30 provides a child with an hour of psychosocial support.
USD 44 will provide a student distance learning materials.
USD 135 will provide a school with arts and handicrafts materials.
USD 1,026 will provide school desks for an entire classroom.

Donate now. Your donation may be tax-deductible.

Watch Gaza’s children speak of dreams and wishes amongst the rubble

Remember, supporting education for a child of Gaza also brings her stability and gives her hope for a brighter future, for herself, her loved ones and for Palestinian society.

In solidarity,

Lionello Boscardi
Chief, Partnerships Division
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter View our videos on YouTube 

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

Naomi Shihab Nye: On growing up in Ferguson and Palestine

Posted by uscsjp on September 5, 2014

I grew up in Ferguson, Mo. No one ever heard of it, unless you lived elsewhere in St. Louis County.

Then my family moved to Palestine – my father’s first home. A friend says, “Your parents really picked the garden spots.”

In Ferguson, an invisible line separated white and black communities. In Jerusalem, a no-man’s land separated people, designated by barbed wire.

* * *

My father and his family became refugees in 1948, when the state of Israel was created. They lost everything but their lives and memories. Disenfranchised Palestinians ended up in refugee camps or scattered around the world. My dad found himself in Kansas, then moved to Missouri with his American bride. He seemed a little shell-shocked when I was a child.

Ferguson was a leafy green historic suburb with a gracious red brick elementary school called Central. I loved that school, attending kindergarten through sixth grade there. All my classmates were white, of various derivations – Italians, French-Canadians, etc. My father was the only Arab in Ferguson. But he ran for the school board and won.

At 12, I took a berry-picking job on “Missouri’s oldest organic farm” in Ferguson. I wanted the job because I had noticed that the other berry-pickers were all black boys. I’d always been curious about the kids living right down the road whom we hardly ever got to see.

We had contests to see who could pick the most in the searing humidity. I had obliterated Ferguson’s “line.” I felt a secret pride.

My mom often warned, “Be your best self.” This seemed odd.

It would be 1968 before the Supreme Court ordered U.S. states to dismantle segregated school systems and Ferguson began mixing it up. We were gone by then.

In 1966, my father took our family to the West Bank. I was the only non-Armenian attending the ancient Armenian school in Jerusalem’s Old City. It was fine to be “the other” for a change, but I wished we could have Jewish friends too. And I wished the Jewish Israelis we weren’t seeing across that line could know the families of Palestine as we did, sharing their humble parties under blossoming almond trees.

Our father said that, when he was a boy, Jews and Arabs had been mixed together, neighbors. Now there was power and domination at stake.

Dominate – to exercise control over. Black kids in streets. Thousands of Palestinian families.

In 1967, with the Six Day War brewing, my family left Jerusalem. We settled in San Antonio, a majority Latino city, which felt like a relief. White and black people were minorities. There weren’t any lines. Maybe in the air, and in history. But people kept crossing them.

My father, a newspaper journalist, eventually left San Antonio for another paper, I ended up attending college here and have remained until now. We have our first African American female mayor in history.

Back in Israel/Palestine, nothing improved for the Palestinians and they were always blamed for it. A gigantic ominous “Separation Wall” was built. Americans elected a half-and-half president twice, which gave many of us great hope.

Summer 2014, the news exploded.

Massacres in Gaza – not the first time – people who looked exactly like our Arab families. Regular people. Kids. Sleeping kids. No tanks, no army, no due process of any kind, but they were blasted out of their lives.

Was anyone civilized? A Jewish friend sent me a one-word message that he seemed to be sending out to everyone he knew: STOP!  

What could we do?

Of course, we wished Hamas would stop sending reckless rockets into Israel, provoking oversized responses. Why didn’t the news examine those back stories more? Oppression makes people do desperate things. I am frankly surprised the entire Palestinian population hasn’t gone crazy. If the U.S. can’t see that Palestinians have been mightily oppressed since 1948, they really are not interested in looking, are they? And we keep sending weapons and money to Israel, pretending we’d prefer peace. 

We send weapons to Ferguson, too.

After unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot, quiet old Ferguson took over the news. Citizens marching, chest placards, “I’M A MAN TOO” “DON’T SHOOT.” It’s easy to see how delusions of equality in Ferguson – where a white officer might raise a gun against an unarmed black kid – are simply wrong.

Why is that harder for people to see about Gaza? 

People in Gaza actually sent messages of solidarity to Ferguson – Internet petitions signed by Gazan citizens. I thought I was hallucinating. What if they could all march together? 1.8 million Gazans would really clog old Florissant Avenue. 

To my knowledge, Israelis have never yet been called militants by the American press, even when they blast whole families to oblivion.  It’s just “defense.” A newscaster described Ferguson as “a series of stings and hurts.” Try the open-air prison enclave of Gaza for stings and hurts.

On the news, a Kuwaiti running a Ferguson grocery says his store has been looted. I think, “He’s the Arab there now.”

Things will change again in Ferguson. Historic inequities in that community will be reexamined, no one will be able to pretend they don’t exist. But will we examine them in other communities too?

Will things change for Gaza? If they don’t, this nightmare of worst selves will keep happening and happening. Look, it already has. And what gets better? Will the United States ever speak out in solidarity with scores of exhausted people burying their dead, staring up with stunned eyes, mystified?

–Naomi Shihab Nye, The Washington Post, August 28, 2014

Posted in Opinion/Editorial | Leave a Comment »

Jonathan Cook: Partisan reporters criticise Gaza coverage

Posted by uscsjp on September 1, 2014

I have noted in several previous articles the unusual, possibly unique, problem relating to media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The reporting corps is awash with “partisan reporters” – that is, Jews who have an ideological, social or familial connection and sympathy with one side, the Israeli side.

I have no objection to reporters having views, even strong ones, about this conflict, or any other issue in the news. I do myself. In fact, I believe journalists cannot be “objective”, as I have explained at length elsewhere.  But in the case of Israel-Palestine, many reporters are being chosen precisely for their partisanship – and these reporters are being selected because they are partisan in one direction only. Just check how many Palestinian reporters (I don’t mean glorified fixers or undervalued stringers) report for the US media on the conflict.

Editors possibly justify their policy to themselves by assuming that Jewish reporters, especially ones with family in Israel, will improve their access to Israeli elites. Given the rampant chauvinism in Israel, this may be so. But it means only one side of the elite debate is being accessed – the Israeli one.

Illustrations of the partisan reporter’s mindset have been thrown up afresh in a debate about media responsibility during Israel’s attack on Gaza. A prime example is Matti Friedman, who worked for many years at the US news agency Associated Press. AP has a pretty terrible record in its coverage of the conflict, as well as documented examples of its local staff censoring stories that reflect badly on Israel.

Preposterously, Friedman asserts in his essay for the Tablet magazine that the media’s disproportionate interest in Israel-Palestine reflects an unhealthy and “hostile obsession with Jews”. In fact, it indicates something else entirely: the West’s long and unhealthy interest in supporting the Zionist movement’s dispossession of the Palestinian people in their homeland, and a deep sense by Western elites of their political and military investment in the Jewish state project.

The media’s obsession with Israel results both from Israel’s place at the heart of the West’s perceived strategic interests in the region and from a need to pander to influential domestic Jewish readerships. There is a reason, after all, why the New York Times is probably the most Israel-obsessed newspaper in the world outside Israel itself – and it has nothing to do with anti-Semitism.

Most of Friedman’s article is so patently one-sided, and detached from reality, it barely warrants addressing. One only needs to read his claim that the big story overlooked by the media is: “The fact that Israelis quite recently elected moderate governments that sought reconciliation with the Palestinians”. Yes, in your dreams, Matti.

Similarly, Friedman apparently also knows enough Palestinians to argue that the real story they want covering is corruption within their own society. Maybe the two Palestinians you befriended think like that, Matti, but I guess that may be a rather self-selecting group. Why do you think they befriended you?

As someone who has lived among Palestinians for more than a decade, I can assure you that, however much corruption there is in Palestinian society (and there certainly is), it is considered a far less pressing concern than the occupation of the West Bank, the siege of Gaza, the continuing dispossession of Jerusalem, and the abandonment of the refugees. You may think Palestinians have their priorities wrong, Matti, but there is no disputing that those are their priorities.

Friedman also wants the conflict recharacterised as a Jewish-Muslim one rather than Israeli-Palestinian. The media apparently collude in this mistaken framing. Thus, Friedman argues:

A knowledgeable observer of the Middle East cannot avoid the impression that the region is a volcano and that the lava is radical Islam, an ideology whose various incarnations are now shaping this part of the world. Israel is a tiny village on the slopes of the volcano. Hamas is the local representative of radical Islam and is openly dedicated to the eradication of the Jewish minority enclave in Israel.

Except the conflict existed well before anyone had heard of Hamas, al-Qaeda or Isis. Religion was never at the root of the conflict, though Israel – hoping to exploit Western prejudices about a clash of civilisations – has been working hard to make it so.

Friedman again:

Jerusalem is less than a day’s drive from Aleppo or Baghdad, and it should be clear to everyone that peace is pretty elusive in the Middle East even in places where Jews are absent. But reporters generally cannot see the Israel story in relation to anything else.

But Western interests, and the resulting Western interference, Western-backed puppets, and the West’s fair-weather, Islamic allies, are never far away from wherever one is in the Middle East. That is why peace is and remains elusive. Israel is one central prong in this Western policy of interference. The real story is that reporters like Friedman – in fact, all reporters in the mainstream – are either oblivious to the West’s indelible impact on the region, or career-minded enough to avoid mentioning it.

Today in a Haaretz commentary, a former partisan reporter for the BBC, Richard Miron, added his support to this heavily distorted picture of media malfeasance. Being a former BBC journalist, he tries to be a little more “balanced” in his views than Friedman, but finds nothing in Friedman’s screed to distance himself from.

As if confirming Friedman’s claims, Miron lambasts reporters for “emoting” on the Palestinians’ behalf, citing Jon Snow of Britain’s Channel 4.  Whatever one thinks of Snow – and I think he ultimately failed his viewers by chiefly packaging Palestinian suffering in Gaza in humanitarian terms – Miron, like Freidman, is grossly misrepresenting the true picture of Western media coverage of Gaza. That rare bout of soul-searching from one prominent presenter was but a drop in the ocean of wall-to-wall sympathy for Israel in the US media. The story there echoed the assumption of President Barack Obama that Israel has a right to defend itself from … Palestinian resistance to decades of Israel’s belligerent occupation and an eight-year siege of Gaza. That part of the story was hardly ever mentioned, even by Snow.

Miron does make one sensible observation:

Knowing Gaza’s physical geography, it’s safe to conclude that if Hamas operatives did come out from the territory’s packed urban confines, they would have been quickly struck by an Israeli drone or aircraft fire.

But blinded by his partisanship for Israel, he then wants to use this observation to support Israel’s story that Palestinians in Gaza were being used as “human shields”. In fact, he specifically criticises BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen for writing that “he saw no evidence … of Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields”. But contrary to Miron’s assumption, avoiding committing suicide (on a battlefield determined by Israel’s siege policy) is not the same as turning other Palestinians into human shields. At least Bowen understands that point, even if Miron, blinded by his partisanship, cannot.

–Jonathan Cook, The Blog from Nazareth, September 1, 2014

 

http://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2014-09-01/partisan-reporters-criticise-gaza-coverage/

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