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How was 2015 for Palestinian children?

Posted by uscsjp on January 30, 2016

Four year-old Ahmed Dawabsha receives a visit from his maternal grandparents in hospital on December 5, 2015 where he is being treated for burns after his family house was firebombed by Jewish extremists on July 31, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank village of Duma. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI

Ramallah, January 20, 2016—Instability and violence continued to define much of life for Palestinian children in 2015. When tensions over the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem erupted into violence across the occupied West Bank in early October, Israeli forces responded predictably with excessive force, including the use of live ammunition against children. The rise in violence coincided with the 15 year anniversary of the onset of the second intifada, or uprising. During this five year period of conflict from September 2000 to February 2005, over 700 Palestinian children died at the hands of Israeli forces and setters. Since then, at least 1,277 Palestinian children have been killed.

Violations against Palestinian children were not limited to the last few months of 2015. Evidence collected by Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, showed a rise in the use of physical violence against children held in Israeli military detention, and the increased use of live ammunition against Palestinian children. In Gaza, reconstruction following the deadly 50-day military assault over the summer of 2014 has been extremely limited, leaving children displaced during the conflict in unstable living conditions.

Palestinian children throughout the OPT continued to face disproportionate physical violence, restricted access to education, and psychological trauma at the hands of Israeli forces and settlers.

Lethal force: ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy

At least 28 Palestinian children were fatally shot by Israeli forces in 2015. In several cases, DCIP found that children did not pose a direct, mortal threat  at the time they were killed.

The number of fatalities drastically increased in October, after tensions across East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied West Bank escalated into lethal attacks. In just 12 weeks, 25 Palestinian children were fatally shot by Israeli forces, all except six while carrying out alleged knife attacks. Israeli authorities have not opened investigations into any of these shootings and have refused family requests for autopsies, which could independently verify the circumstances of their deaths.

In response to escalating violence Israeli forces now appear to be implementing a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy, which in some incidents may amount to extrajudicial killings. International law requires that intentional lethal force be used only when absolutely unavoidable. This comes alongside the decision by Israeli authorities to relax open-fire rules, allowing Israeli forces to use live ammunition during protests in Jerusalem when there is a “threat to life.” Previously, live ammunition was permitted only when there is a direct, mortal threat to the life of a police officer or soldier.

Accountability for shootings by Israeli forces is extremely rare. Only one incident, the fatal shooting of Nadeem Nawara, 17, in May 2014, has resulted in both an investigation and indictment. The Israeli border policeman charged with Nadeem’s death is currently under house arrest as he awaits trial.

Military detention: increased violence and the return of administrative detention

Each year, hundreds of Palestinian children are arrested, detained, and prosecuted within the Israeli military system. Child detainees report physical and verbal abuse, are denied fair trial standards, and often suffer from long term psychological trauma.

Children in military detention in 2015 suffered increasing levels of physical violence at the hands of Israeli forces. DCIP collected affidavits from 110 West Bank children detained in 2015 that showed three-quarters of them endured some form of physical violence following arrest.

Amid heightened violence in the fall of 2015, the number of Palestinian children skyrocketed to the highest it has been since March 2009. At the end of November, 412 Palestinian children were in the Israeli prison system. In response to the rising number of child detainees, Israel Prison Services used a section at Givon prison  in October and November to house the overflow of Palestinian minors. Conditions at the prison were inadequate and failed to meet minimum standards. Children were crowded into cells, the building lacked proper heating and shower facilities, and children complained of poor quality and inadequate amounts of food.

DCIP is particularly disturbed that Israeli authorities have placed six Palestinian teenagers under administrative detention. This is the first time the measure has been used against Palestinian minors in nearly four years. Administrative detention is the imprisonment of individuals by the state for prolonged periods without charge or trial. The measure should never be used as a substitute for criminal prosecution.

Over the past few months, Israeli authorities pushed through a series of policies imposing harsher sentencing guidelines and fines for children in Jerusalem. These amendments include  a 10-year prison sentence for throwing stones or other objects at moving vehicles with the possibility of endangering passengers or causing damage, and 20 years for throwing stones with the purpose of harming others. The amendments reduced judicial discretion, instituting mandatory minimum sentence of no less than one-fifth of the potential maximum sentence and restricting suspended sentences to special circumstances only. One of the latest bills proposes custodial sentences for children, as young as 12, convicted of “nationalistic-motivated” violent offences. The actual serving of the sentences would be deferred until the children reach the age of 14.

Settler Violence

Israel’s establishment and expansion of Jewish-only settlements across the OPT since 1967 has created a dangerous environment for Palestinians. Approximately 515,000 Israelis now live illegally in the West Bank, and settler violence against neighboring Palestinian communities and children is common.

One of the most tragic incidents of settler violence took place last July, when a Palestinian toddler burned to death after Jewish settlers threw firebombs inside two homes in the northern West Bank village of Duma. The fire killed Ali Dawabsheh, 18 months, and left his parents, Saad and Riham, and brother, Ahmad, 4, in critical condition. Saad and Riham died later in the hospital from injuries sustained during the attack.

Statistics from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that more than224 settler attacks occurred in 2015. Impunity for settler attacks against Palestinians remained the norm. A May 2015  report from Israeli human rights group Yesh Din found that Israeli police closed over 85 percent of investigations and only 1.9 percent of complaints submitted by Palestinians against Israeli civilian attacks resulted in conviction.

Gaza one year later: justice remains elusive

The summer of 2015 marked the one year anniversary of Israel’s 50-day military assault on Gaza, which killed 547 Palestinian children and injured a further 3,000. DCIP’s investigation into all Palestinian child fatalities during Operation Protective Edge found overwhelming and repeated evidence that Israeli forces committed grave violations against children amounting to war crimes. Despite well-documented evidence, there has been no justice and accountability for grave violations against Palestinian children.

An independent United Nations commission presented a report to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that detailed international law violations committed by Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups during the conflict, noting “impunity prevails across the board for violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law allegedly committed by Israeli forces.” The UNHRC endorsed the report in July, almost unanimously passing a resolution that emphasized the dire need for accountability in order to end systemic impunity.

In June, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shielded Israel from accountability for atrocities against children when he removed Israel’s armed forces from a draft list of groups that commit grave violations of children’s rights during armed conflict.

Read more:

 

–Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP), Jan 20, 2016

http://www.dci-palestine.org/how_was_2015_for_palestinian_children

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How the Israel boycott movement struck major blows in 2015 — The Electronic Intifada

Posted by uscsjp on January 6, 2016


Despite Israel’s counteroffensive, boycott movement won some key victories in 2015.

 

Mark EsperPolaris

In September 2014, on the eve of the Jewish new year, Israel’s leading financial daily named Omar Barghoutiamong the 100 people most likely to influence the country’s economy in the following year.

Calcalist, the business supplement of the mass circulation newspaper Yediot Ahronot, said that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which Barghouti helped found, was “already worrying the government.”

It cited government studies warning that Israel would lose billions of dollars a year in exports and GDP and thousands of jobs if current boycott trends continued.

“The credit and honor go to the entire BDS movement, of which I am a modest part, to each and every BDS activist in Palestine and around the world who has contributed to making BDS one the most effective forms of resisting Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid,” Barghouti told The Electronic Intifada this week.

And 2015 has proven Calcalist right.

As the year closes, Palestine’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the broad coalition that backs the BDS movement, is pointing out some of the successes of the last 12 months:

  • The authors of a United Nations report revealed in June that BDS was a key factor behind the nearly 50 percent plunge in foreign direct investment in Israel in 2014.
  • The World Bank cited consumer boycotts as a key factor behind a 24 percent drop in Palestinian imports from Israel in the first quarter of 2015.
  • The international credit ratings agency Moody’s warned in October that “the Israeli economy could suffer should BDS gain greater traction.” Moody’s reports are used by corporations to assess the risk of doing business in a country.

A major European investor confirmed that BDS was already deterring companies from entering the Israeli market.

“During general meetings of the leading companies, even if they did examine investing in Israeli companies, it will be off the agenda immediately because of the impact of BDS,” Edouard Cukierman, founder of Catalyst Funds and chair of Cukierman & Co Investment House, told Israeli media.

Running for the exit

In 2015, activists celebrated a major victory as the French multinational Veolia sold off all its investments in Israel.

This followed a seven-year global campaign which cost Veolia billions of dollars in lost municipal and government contracts. By the end, Veolia reportedly could not find any international buyers for its Israeli businesses.

Perhaps alarmed by Veolia’s fate, the French multinational telecom company Orange announced in June that it intended to end its relationship with its Israeli affiliate.

Despite the Israeli government’s outraged reaction, Orange amended its contract with Israel’s Partner Communications so it could get out of the country as soon as 2017, instead of 2025.


Orange providing free service to Israeli soldiers deployed near Gaza during the assault in the summer of 2014 that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians. The Israeli affiliate of the French telecom company has “adopted” a military unit that was in action in locations where hundreds of civilians were killed. (via Frumline)

The campaign to end Orange’s complicity with Israeli human rights abuses – it operates extensively in Israel’s West Bank settlements – started in France several years ago and gathered pace in May when activists in Egypt called for a boycott of its subsidiary Mobinil.

The Electronic Intifada’s April report revealing the extent of Orange’s direct complicity in Israel’s summer 2014 attack on Gaza galvanized the campaign.

In November, the European Union finally took the step of requiring labels clearly marking goods that come from Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian and Syrian land in violation of international law.

This was a minimalist step taken only after years of dithering and delay, and has to be seen in the context of massive ongoing EU complicity with Israel’s war crimes and its deepening apartheid.

But at the time, Mahmoud Nawajaa, general coordinator for the BNC, said the move was a “sign that European governments are reacting to public opinion, civil society campaigning and Israeli intransigence and are becoming more willing to take some basic action against Israeli violations of international law.”

Israel’s furious reaction – many politicians compared EU officials to Nazis – belies its real fear: that this is only the first step of more action to come.

A sure sign of the mainstreaming of Palestinian rights came in September with Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide victory in the election for leader of the UK’s main opposition Labour Party.

Despite intense Israel lobby smears, Corbyn trounced the establishment candidates.

A month earlier, Corbyn, a lifelong champion of Palestinian rights, had told The Electronic Intifada he backed the boycott of Israeli universities involved in weapons research.

Faith and labor

In 2014, after a decade-long campaign, the Presbyterian Church USA voted by a narrow margin to divest from companies that profit from Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

This prompted Israel and its lobby groups to step up their efforts to co-opt or intimidate church activists.

But in June this year a resounding answer came from the United Church of Christ. The one million-strong US denomination’s assembly voted by a huge margin to divest as well.

Where churches are going, labor is following. Several major labor federations in North America joined the dozens of unions, especially in Europe, that already support the movement.

In August, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America – known as UE – voted to back BDS, becoming the second US national union to do so.

“We reached a breaking point when Israel launched the war on Gaza in 2014, killing over 2,000 people, including 500 children,” Carl Rosen, a member of UE’s national executive board, explained.

In November, the Connecticut branch of the AFL-CIO, representing 200,000 workers, voted to back key elements of the Palestinian call for BDS.

And Quebec’s confederation of trade unions, representing 325,000 workers in the Canadian province, also backed BDS, including the cultural boycott and a boycott of all Israeli goods.

It pledged to work with civil society groups to organize campaigns to turn this support into action in coming months.

This year Israel also suffered from a sustained and deepening decline in tourism, especially from Europe.

There is no direct evidence that the sharp decline, which began during the 2014 attack on Gaza, is due to boycotts.

But the fact that the BDS movement – especially the cultural boycott – has been so strong in Europe undoubtedly makes it harder for Israel to market itself as a carefree destination for sunseekers.

Going mainstream

This was the year when “Lauryn Hill and Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth said they won’t perform in Israel, and more than 1,000 artists across Ireland, the UK, the US and Belgium have said they support the cultural boycott of Israel,” the BNC notes, highlighting that the campaign is gaining ground everywhere.

“Israeli universities play a key role in planning and whitewashing Israel’s crimes but now academics across the world are taking effective action,” the BNC states.

Examples from 2015 include landslide votes to back the academic boycott of these complicit institutions by theAmerican Anthropological Association and the National Women’s Studies Association.

Counterattack

In 2015, Israel and its lobby groups intensified their counterattack against the growing global movement for Palestinian rights.

This included crackdowns and intimidation on campuses and efforts to legislate and litigate against BDS in North America and Europe.

They had plenty of help from complicit governments and lawmakers, including in France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada and the US.

But the BNC even sees this backlash as a sign of success, as an increasingly desperate Israel resorts to “exporting its mentality of repression and getting its allies in the west to run McCarthyite attacks on free speech.”

“Israel knows it is losing the argument and is throwing everything it has at sabotaging our movement, dedicating money, government staff and apparently even its security services to undermining BDS,” the BNC says.

There’s no doubt Israel’s efforts to obstruct and sabotage campaigns for justice will continue and, flush with new cash, intensify.

With dozens of student bodies on US campuses having voted to back divestment in recent years, we can expect campaigns to shift toward pressuring administrations to implement those demands. They will face determined opposition, but that will only help keep Palestine front and center.

There’s also every sign that BDS could become a big issue in the 2016 US presidential campaign – already Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and Republican hopeful Jeb Bush have launched attacks on the movement.

But that might only serve to educate more people that BDS exists and is an option for them too.

The passing year, which also marked the 10th anniversary of the Palestinian civil society call for BDS, shows clearly that this diverse and decentralized movement founded and led by Palestinians is a growing match for Israel.

Amid so much difficult news from Palestine and the region, that’s a bright ray of hope for 2016.

 

–Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 30 Dec., 2015

 

https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/how-israel-boycott-movement-struck-major-blows-2015

 

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Venezuelan Social Movements Protest Israeli “Genocide” Outside UN HQ in Caracas

Posted by uscsjp on October 19, 2015

Caracas, October 16, 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan social movements gathered outside the United Nations’ headquarters in Caracas on Wednesday to protest an ongoing Israeli crackdown against Palestinians in the occupied territories, which has claimed the lives of at least 35 Palestinians since October 1.

Unfurling a giant Palestinian flag at the entrance to the office building, the several dozen protesters held signs and chanted slogans calling on the international community to take action in defense of Palestinian rights.

“We are here at the United Nations office in Caracas simply because we cannot remain silent in the face of the genocide being committed against the Palestinian people,” Hindu Andari, spokesperson for the Itinerant Forum of Popular Participation, told venezuelanalysis.

The most recent Israeli crackdown has sought to quell a Palestinian uprising gaining momentum in the past two weeks, sparked by Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.

On Tuesday, 27-year-old Mutaz Ibrahim Zawahreh was shot and killed with live ammunition by Israeli occupation forces during clashes near the illegal Israeli separation barrier in Bethlehem, while 33 others were injured, nine with live fire.

Thirty-five Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of October, including at least seven children, as well as numerous bystanders and unarmed protesters shot dead in “extrajudicial killings”, according to Amnesty International. 1300 Palestinians have also been injured this month, including 550 by live fire and 600 by rubber-coated bullets, the Palestinian Ministry of Health confirms. Meanwhile, seven Israelis have been killed, mostly in stabbing attacks.

Coming on the heels of Venezuela’s commemoration of “indigenous resistance day” on October 12, several present at Wednesday’s protest drew parallels between Palestinian resistance to Israeli colonization and indigenous struggles in South America.

“The Venezuelan people survived a similar genocide when Columbus came to America. The Palestinian people are resisting as we resisted, as our indigenous peoples resisted in the face of that [Spanish] genocide. Venezuela cannot be indifferent to this cause,” explains Mercedes “Chelena” Rosa of the Movement of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Artists.

Last year, Venezuela shipped tonnes of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip in response to a 51-day Israeli assault that killed close to 2200 Palestinians, two-thirds of whom civilians, provoking international outrage and renewed calls for international sanctions.

Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions

The recurrent US-backed Israeli assaults on the Gaza Strip in recent years have fueled the rise of the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to replicate the nonviolent tactics successfully used against apartheid South Africa to force Israel’s compliance with international law.

The international movement has been so successful that Venezuelan social movements are in the process of organizing their own BDS campaign, says Andari.

“We must break relations with companies that finance the occupation of Palestine,” she stated, noting that the Caracas UN office is located in the HPTower, also home to the offices of US multinational IT firm Hewlett-Packard, which produces biometric ID technology used both in Israeli checkpoints and US prisons.

“We have to turn up the pressure so that no university in the country can have educational and athletic agreements with Israeli [universities]. We believe that the Bolivarian government shouldn’t send Venezuelan athletes to any international competitions in Israel,” Andari added, underscoring the importance of theacademic and cultural boycott….

–Lucas Koerner, http://venezuelanalysis.com/, 16 October, 2015

READ MORE: http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/11558

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Has the Israel lobby really lost its mojo? (The Electronic Intifada)

Posted by uscsjp on September 30, 2015

The Israeli government and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) have failed to marshal Congressional opposition to President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

But that failure has prompted widespread chatter about the irreparable damage done to US-Israel ties and the demise of AIPAC as a virtually omnipotent lobby.

Despite pouring millions of dollars into its campaign, inundating the airwaves and clogging social media feeds, AIPAC’s efforts to sway members of Congress paid only minimal dividends.

But does this mean that AIPAC has lost its mojo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can now be safely ignored by the Obama administration as a blowhard? Hardly.

This fiasco for Israel and its lobby was entirely predictable and even foreordained after Netanyahu opted toconspire with John Boehner, the House speaker, to deliver his controversial speech to Congress in Marchopposing talks with Iran.

Netanyahu’s disrespect in circumventing the president prompted around 60 Democratic members of Congress — one-quarter of the party’s caucus — to publicly boycott the address, opening up an unprecedented partisan breach.

After Netanyahu’s stunt in Congress, it was self-evident that no Democratic members of Congress, except for the party’s most hardcore Zionists such as senators Charles Schumer of New York and Ben Cardin of Maryland, would vote to kill what is arguably the signature foreign policy achievement of the Obama administration.

AIPAC could have pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into its campaign and probably wouldn’t have changed a single vote.

Payout

Netanyahu is no fool and neither is AIPAC. So then why did they expend so much political capital and money on a lost cause?

Simple: the louder Israel and its lobby bellowed that the nuclear deal with Iran endangered Israel’s security and presented it with an existential threat, the larger the payout from the United States to back its demands for military aid.

Israel is likely to get recompensed for the Iran nuclear deal in two ways.

The first is through Congressional authorization of the transfer to Israel of advanced weaponry such as bunker-buster bombs. For example, Cory Booker, the Democratic senator from New Jersey who broke with his former mentor Rabbi Shmuley Boteach by supporting the deal, stated that the “US should provide Israel with access to the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) to help deter Iranian cheating.”

And Obama appears amenable to upping the quality of weapons the US provides Israel. In a letter to Jerrold Nadler, a Democratic representative for New York, Obama pledged that “Our support for Israel is also an important element in deterring Iran from ever seeking a nuclear weapon.”

Thus Israel is likely to receive from the US the weapons it would need to threaten or actually carry out the attack on Iran the US just potentially avoided with the nuclear deal.

Second, Israel will likely reap an enormous windfall from the United States by negotiating a new 10-year deal for additional military aid. During the George W. Bush administration, the US signed an agreement to provide Israel with $30 billion in military aid from 2009 to 2018.

Ever since he visited Jerusalem in March 2013, Obama has repeatedly made clear that he wants to extend — and even increase — military aid to Israel.

Although the timing of the Iran nuclear deal and the impending expiration of the agreement with Israel is coincidental, Netanyahu is shrewdly choreographing his steps to maximize his leverage with the US and wring out the most concessions possible.

According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, twice since April, Obama personally contacted Netanyahu, practically pleading with him to start talks on how the US may bolster the Israeli military’s arsenal. But the Israeli prime minister steadfastly refused.

Unscathed

Now with Iran a done deal, these discussions are getting underway in earnest — and media reports suggest that Israel will try to get as much as $45 billion in military aid from the US through 2028. In other words, Obama may now wind up signing a deal to increase the Bush administration’s commitment to Israel by 50 percent.

While it is doubtful that Israel would use these weapons to unilaterally attack Iran, they unquestionably will be used to entrench and solidify Israel’s military occupation and colonization of Palestinian land, making the US even further complicit in Israel’s accompanying atrocities.

This new military aid deal, sadly, will be Obama’s enduring legacy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue as his presidency draws to a close.

The debacle for Netanyahu and AIPAC on Iran demonstrably shows that Israel and its allies do not dictate the terms and contours of broader US foreign policy goals. However, their power to preserve the status quo on US policy toward Israel and the Palestinians has emerged largely unscathed from this battle.

Netanyahu is coming to Washington to kiss and make up with Obama over Iran in November — and to collect his check. Without a massive uproar from civil society before then, US taxpayers will be on the hook for another decade of underwriting Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.

Vice President Joe Biden recently acknowledged that US taxpayers already fund 20 percent of Israel’s entire military budget.

Enough is enough. Fortunately growing numbers of Americans agree.

To make this message clear, tens of thousands have already endorsed the campaign calling on Obama not to give any more weapons to Israel.

Josh Ruebner is policy director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and author of Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace.

 

–The Electronic Intifada, 21 September, 2015

 

https://electronicintifada.net/content/has-israel-lobby-really-lost-its-mojo/14853

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EI: Palestinians salute Black solidarity, call for joint struggle

Posted by uscsjp on August 29, 2015

Palestinians have welcomed the declaration signed by more than 1,000 Black activists, artists and scholars in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

This comes as an Israel lobby group is expressing concern at the growing cooperation between Black activists and Palestinians.

The statement, whose endorsers include scholar-activists Angela Davis and Cornel West and Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, urges full support for the Palestinian-led campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel.

First appearing in Ebony earlier this month, the statement emphasizes “return to their homeland in present-day Israel” as “the most important aspect of justice for Palestinians.”

Mahmoud Nawajaa, general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) said that the Black activists’ “support for BDS against Israel’s regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid is particularly inspiring as it translates principled positions into morally consistent actions that are capable of righting injustices.”

The BNC is the broad Palestinian civil society coalition that leads the BDS movement.

“The US civil rights movement has always been a key inspiration for us in the BDS movement,” Nawajaa added in a statement from the BNC. “We are deeply moved by this powerful proclamation that evokes the spirit of that heroic civil rights struggle.”

Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement, called the statement “a poignant testament to the organic links that connect the Palestinian struggle for self-determination with the struggle of the oppressed around the world, including ongoing struggles for racial and economic justice by Black people in the US and across the world.”

“Despite the obvious differences, there are compelling similarities between the forms of oppression that both Palestinians and African Americans live under,” Barghouti added. “Dehumanization, dispossession, racial injustice and discrimination, state violence, criminalization of entire communities and impunity are all key characteristics of the oppression faced by Black Americans and Palestinians.”

The Black activists’ statement calls for joint campaigns against G4S, the multinational security firm that works in Israeli prisons in the occupied West Bank and runs detention centers that are part of the US system of mass incarceration that targets people of color.

Alarm

The Black activists’ statement – and the Palestinian response – represent the kind of solidarity that is ringing alarm bells in the offices of Israel lobby groups.

This week, the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) warned in a report that Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) “and its allies continue to deepen their involvement with social justice-oriented organizations on campus.”

“This year saw efforts by anti-Israel groups to build coalitions with progressive campus organizations that deal with issues such as LGBT rights, fossil fuel divestment, private prison reform, racial discrimination and immigration reform,” the ICC report states.

In particular, ICC – which evidently closely monitors the Palestine solidarity movement – says it “observed strong ties between SJP and many African American student groups during the 2014-2015 academic year.”

“As recently as May 2015, SJP student activists were actively involved in Black Lives Matter-linked demonstrations,” it states.

ICC also notes an “increasing number of SJP-backed slates and candidates winning legislative and executive positions within student governments.”

“These candidates are running on platforms that call for reform on a wide range of social issues; BDS is now mentioned alongside other issues such as private prison divestment, minority rights and fossil fuels,” it adds.

But ICC assures Israel supporters that anti-Palestinian activists are “fighting back” by “forming coalitions to educate the broader campus community, and working to build support for Israel on campus.”

The Israel lobby group says that media reports alleging that BDS is taking over college campuses are exaggerated.

It warns, however, that “if the current trends on campuses nationwide persist, the result could be dangerously close to that reality.”

 

–Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, August 27, 2015

https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/palestinians-salute-black-solidarity-call-joint-struggle

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DN: “Israeli Report Finds 2014 Gaza War ‘Lawful’ and ‘Legitimate’ Ahead of Critical U.N. Investigation

Posted by uscsjp on June 15, 2015

The Israeli government has released a report that concludes its military actions in the 2014 war in Gaza were “lawful” and “legitimate.” The findings come ahead of what is expected to be a critical United Nations investigation into the 50-day conflict that Israel has dismissed as biased and refused to cooperate with. More than 2,200 Palestinians died in what was called “Operation Protective Edge,” the vast majority civilians. On Israel’s side, 73 people were killed, all but six of them soldiers. In its report, Israel says it made “substantial efforts” to avoid civilian deaths, insisting Hamas was to blame for the high number of civilian casualties and accusing Hamas militants of disguising themselves as civilians and of converting civilian buildings into military centers. We are joined by Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and the former executive director of The Jerusalem Fund. We also go to Tel Aviv to speak with Gideon Levy, Haaretz columnist, whose latest piece is “Israel washed itself clean of Gaza’s dead beach children”…

 

–Democracy Now!, June 15th, 2015

 

http://www.democracynow.org/2015/6/15/israeli_report_finds_2014_gaza_war

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Medea Benjamin: “In Busting Peace Efforts, Israel Lobby Group May Be Sabotaging Itself”

Posted by uscsjp on March 13, 2015

Early in the morning of March 3, on AIPAC’s national lobby day and just hours before Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was set to address the joint session of Congress, AIPAC President Robert Cohen, along with the group’s Policy Director and two associates, briskly approached the Congressional office of Speaker of the House John Boehner. To their horror, they found the office locked and surrounded by crowd of CODEPINK activists staging a sit-in to protest the Netanyahu speech. After trying unsuccessfully to get in a side door, the AIPAC officials scurried away. But a CODEPINK swarm followed through the maze of Congressional halls, thrilled at the unique opportunity to confront the powerful AIPAC officials [3] about their efforts to quash a nuclear deal with Iran.

When finally cornered after seeking refuge in the office of Congressman Stivers, the policy director agreed to talk to the CODEPINK group. But he kept repeating the mantra that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism and as such, cannot be trusted in a nuclear deal.

This is the AIPAC line, and its strategy is to sabotage the negotiations. It pushes for greater sanctions on Iran through the Kirk-Menendez [4] bill knowing that—as Secretary of State John Kerry has said—additional sanctions would likely drive Iran from the table. It is also promoting the Corker bill, which would give Congress a chance to veto any deal the administration makes with Iran. And there is speculation [5] that AIPAC was behind the letter by 47 Republican senators to the Iran government insisting that any deal signed with President Obama could be overturned by the next president.

AIPAC’s underhanded efforts to scuttle talks with Iran threaten to move us down a dangerous path towards war. But it’s not just AIPAC’s position on Iran that poses a threat to peace. AIPAC tries to undermine any attempts by the Palestinians to take their grievances to the international community. AIPAC describes the United Nations as a body hostile to the State of Israel and has pressured the US government to oppose any resolution holding Israel accountable or granting Palestine statehood at the UN. Incensed by Palestine’s request for membership at the International Criminal Court (ICC), AIPAC pushed the Obama administration to pull funding from the Palestinian Authority.

AIPAC has consistently supports Israel’s military incursions in Gaza, claiming Israel is simply defending itself against Hamas. AIPAC supported the Israeli offensive during the summer of 2014 that resulted in thousands of Palestinian deaths (including over 500 children), six UN schools and hospitals flattened, 18,000 housing units destroyed and 108,000 people displaced from their homes. While the bombs were raining down mercilessly on civilians in Gaza, AIPAC President Robert Cohen [6] told Congress that Hamas was responsible for the death of its own citizens. AIPAC also supported the prior two invasions of Gaza and the siege that has so devastated the lives of the strip’s 1.8 million residents.

As part of its efforts to influence Congress, AIPAC takes US representatives on free, sugar-coated junkets to Israel, trips considered almost obligatory for every new member of Congress. The congresspeople see precisely what the Israeli government wants them to see. It is illegal for lobby groups to take elected officials on trips, but AIPAC skirts the law by creating a bogus educational group, AIEF (American Israel Education Foundation), to “organize” the trips for them. AIEF has the same office address as AIPAC and the same staff. These trips help cement the ties between AIPAC and Congress, furthering their undue influence.

To judge AIPAC’s grip on Congress, look no further than how itboasts [6] about its policy conference, i.e. that it is “attended by more members of Congress than almost any other event, except for a joint session of Congress or a State of the Union address.”

AIPAC keeps a careful record of how members of Congress vote and this record is used by donors to make contributions to the politicians who score well. Congresspeople who fail to support AIPAC legislation have been targeted for defeat, including Senators Adlai Stevenson III and Charles H. Percy, and Representatives Paul Findley, Pete McCloskey, Cynthia McKinney, and Earl F. Hilliard.

More recently, AIPAC supporters vowed to use their wealth and extensive resources to punish Democrats who skipped Prime Minister Netanyahu’s March 3 speech before Congress. A representative of billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson said [7]that “if these Democrats would rather put partisan politics ahead of principle and walk out on the prime minister of Israel, then we have an obligation to make that known.”

The bottom line is that AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government, has influence on US policy out of all proportion to the number of Americans it represents. When a small group like this has disproportionate power, it hurts everyone—from Palestinians and Iranians to Israelis and American Jews.

If we are to stop a catastrophic war with Iran or finally solve the Israel/Palestine conflict, an essential element is breaking AIPAC’s grip on U.S. policy. That may well be happening right now. In the past, AIPAC fiercely guarded its bipartisan reputation. But its ultra-hardline stance on Iran puts it squarely on the side of Obama’s most ferocious Republican detractors.  This is making many liberal Jewish AIPAC supporters jittery and diminishing AIPAC’s power among Democrats in Congress and the White House.

AIPAC, in its strong-arm attempts to blow up the talks with Iran, may well be losing its grip and careening towards its own demise. And that’s one implosion worth rooting for.

Medea Benjamin is the cofounder of www.codepink.org [8] and www.globalexchange.org [9]. She is the author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.

 

–Alternet, March 11th, 2015

 

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/busting-peace-efforts-israel-lobby-group-may-be-sabotaging-itself

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

“Noam Chomsky: Why Israel’s Netanyahu Is So Desperate to Prevent Peace with Iran” (Alternet)

Posted by uscsjp on March 2, 2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has arrived in the United States as part of his bid to stop a nuclear deal with Iran during a controversial speech before the U.S. Congress on Tuesday. Dozens of Democrats are threatening to boycott the address, which was arranged by House Speaker John Boehner without consulting the White House. Netanyahu’s visit comes just as Iran and six world powers, including the United States, are set to resume talks in a bid to meet a March 31 deadline. “For both Prime Minister Netanyahu and the hawks in Congress, mostly Republican, the primary goal is to undermine any potential negotiation that might settle whatever issue there is with Iran,” says Noam Chomsky, institute professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “They have a common interest in ensuring there is no regional force that can serve as any kind of deterrent to Israeli and U.S. violence, the major violence in the region.” Chomsky also responds to recent revelations that in 2012 the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, contradicted Netanyahu’s own dire warnings about Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear bomb, concluding that Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons”…

NOAM CHOMSKY: For both president—Prime Minister Netanyahu and the hawks in Congress, mostly Republican, the primary goal is to undermine any potential negotiation that might settle whatever issue there is with Iran. They have a common interest in ensuring that there is no regional force that can serve as any kind of deterrent to Israeli and U.S. violence, the major violence in the region. And it is—if we believe U.S. intelligence—don’t see any reason not to—their analysis is that if Iran is developing nuclear weapons, which they don’t know, it would be part of their deterrent strategy. Now, their general strategic posture is one of deterrence. They have low military expenditures. According to U.S. intelligence, their strategic doctrine is to try to prevent an attack, up to the point where diplomacy can set in. I don’t think anyone with a grey cell functioning thinks that they would ever conceivably use a nuclear weapon, or even try to. The country would be obliterated in 15 seconds. But they might provide a deterrent of sorts. And the U.S. and Israel certainly don’t want to tolerate that. They are the forces that carry out regular violence and aggression in the region and don’t want any impediment to that.

And for the Republicans in Congress, there’s another interest—namely, to undermine anything that Obama, you know, the Antichrist, might try to do. So that’s a separate issue there. The Republicans stopped being an ordinary parliamentary party some years ago. They were described, I think accurately, by Norman Ornstein, the very respected conservative political analyst, American Enterprise Institute; he said the party has become a radical insurgency which has abandoned any commitment to parliamentary democracy. And their goal for the last years has simply been to undermine anything that Obama might do, in an effort to regain power and serve their primary constituency, which is the very wealthy and the corporate sector. They try to conceal this with all sorts of other means. In doing so, they’ve had to—you can’t get votes that way, so they’ve had to mobilize sectors of the population which have always been there but were never mobilized into an organized political force: evangelical Christians, extreme nationalists, terrified people who have to carry guns into Starbucks because somebody might be after them, and so on and so forth. That’s a big force. And inspiring fear is not very difficult in the United States. It’s a long history, back to colonial times, of—as an extremely frightened society, which is an interesting story in itself. And mobilizing people in fear of them, whoever “them” happens to be, is an effective technique used over and over again. And right now, the Republicans have—their nonpolicy has succeeded in putting them back in a position of at least congressional power. So, the attack on—this is a personal attack on Obama, and intended that way, is simply part of that general effort. But there is a common strategic concern underlying it, I think, and that is pretty much what U.S. intelligence analyzes: preventing any deterrent in the region to U.S. and Israeli actions…

 

To read the rest of the interview, visit: http://www.alternet.org/world/noam-chomsky-why-israels-netanyahu-so-desperate-prevent-peace-iran

 

Interview orignally posted on Democracy Now!

March 2, 2015

 

http://www.democracynow.org/2015/3/2/noam_chomsky_opposing_iran_nuclear_deal

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

Alternet: Obama Is Right: Christian Violence Is Just as Bad as Muslim Violence—Or Worse

Posted by uscsjp on February 6, 2015

This week, President Obama met with Muslim leaders in a private political meeting for the first time in his six-year presidency. The meeting set off predictable angry reactions from the political right, with Fox News’s Sean Hannity even saying [3] that he wished Obama had demanded that the leaders assembled publicly denounce radical Islam. Obama further raised the hackles of the Christian right when he said at the National Prayer Breakfast that no religion has a monopoly on violence, saying [4]:

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

Robert Barsocchini: Facts All US Citizens Need to Know About Israel and Palestine

Posted by uscsjp on January 19, 2015

This blog post from several months ago during the height of the Israeli bombardment continues to resonate urgently in 2015. We re-print it in its entirety. –USC SJP Blog Editor

Facts All US Citizens Need to Know About Israel and Palestine

  • Gaza (along with the West Bank and East Jerusalem) is occupied Palestinian territory underinternational law, determined by the vast majority of the world, as well as the highest court in the world, the UN’s International Court of Justice. Gaza cannot commit aggression against Israel, since Israel is in constant and continual commission of illegal aggression against Palestine by occupying it (illegally and sadistically blockading it and frequently committing terrorism against its civilians, including by targeting them with chemical weapons provided by US taxpayers – see “Rain of Fire” by Human Rights Watch). As documented by Amnesty Int’l, Human Rights Watch, and many others,Israel intentionally targets and murders civilians, including children, en masse.
  • But, even ignoring international law and that Gaza is under illegal Israeli occupation, Gaza did not initiate this current round of violence; Israel did:
    • Western/US/Israeli propaganda says the violence started with the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli youths on June 12th. That is a lie:
    • On May 20th, the Israeli government murdered 2 unarmed Palestinian teens, one on video, and wounded a third.
    • The firing of pathetic scrap metal rockets from impoverished Gaza, which have killed no one, were in fact launched in response to earlier Israeli bombings, killings, assassinations, and arrests of Palestinians, including children.
  • Since the year 2000, Israel has killed 1,500 Palestinian children, while Palestinians have killed 132 Israeli children. That means Israel has killed over 1,000% percent more Palestinian children than vice versa.
  • According to a landmark, comprehensive study of all of Israel’s wars, by Zeev Maoz, Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Davis, former head of the Graduate School of Government and Policy and of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, and former academic director of the M.A. Program at the Israeli Defense Forces’ National Defense College:
    • “. most of the wars in which Israel was involved were the result of deliberate Israeli aggressive design . None of these wars – with the possible exception of the 1948 War of independence – was what Israel refers to as Milhemet Ein Berah (war of necessity). They were all wars of choice . ” – Defending the Holy Land, pg. 35, (bold added)
    • “I review a number of peace-related opportunities ranging from the Zionist-Hashemite collusion in 1947 through the collapse of the Oslo Process in 2000. In all those cases I find that Israeli decision makers – who had been willing to embark upon bold and daring military adventures – were extremely reluctant to make even the smallest concessions for peace . I also find in many cases Israel was engaged in systematic violations of agreements and tacit understandings between itself and its neighbors.” – Defending the Holy Land, pg. 40
  • Israel has violated more UN resolutions than any other country. That includes Iraq under Hussein.
  • Hamas is the government elected by Gaza in elections that Jimmy Carter (and many others) observed and said were completely fair and free. Israel constantly says Hamas uses human shields. But in Israel’s biggest massacre of Gaza, the one in 2009, all the human rights organizations, including Amnesty, HRW, and the jurist Richard Goldstone, found that Hamas DID NOT use human shields. On the contrary, Israel used human shields, which is a regular practice for Israel. Israel uses civilians as human shields.
    • Israel forced Palestinian civilians to dig and lay naked in trenches around Israeli tanks. See hereat 6:45.
      • XIV. THE USE OF PALESTINIAN CIVILIANS AS HUMAN SHIELDS
      • “The Mission received allegations that in two areas in north Gaza Israeli troops used Palestinian men as human shields… The Mission found the foregoing witnesses to be credible and reliable. It has no reason to doubt the veracity of their accounts and found that the different stories serve to support the allegation that Palestinians were used as human shields.”
  • Noam Chomsky: “Hamas is regularly described as ‘Iranian-backed Hamas, which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel.’ One will be hard put to find something like ‘democratically elected Hamas, which has long been calling for a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus’—blocked for over 30 years by the US and Israel. All true, but not a useful contribution to the Party Line, hence dispensable.”
  • In the history of all rocket and mortar fire into Israel, 26 people, total, have been killed. And remember, Palestine breaks ceasefires far less often than Israel, as documented above.
    • This number of 26 is in contrast to the minimum number of 1,400 people who were murdered by Israel in a single one of its terrorist atrocities, the 2009 Gaza Massacre.
    • Noting that in the current massacre, zero Israelis and over 100 Palestinians have thus far been killed, and noting that Gaza is a concentration camp – Israel allows no one to enter or leave – Dan Sanchez gives a perfect description of the disparity in arms between the US/Israeli war machine and Palestinian scrap metal projectiles: “They [the Gazans] are like fish in a barrel, being blasted by a shotgun from above. It’s like some of the fish in the barrel pathetically spitting water at the gunman, and [US media calls] that a “shooting battle.”
  • The rhetoric and tactics of Hamas and other groups resisting Israeli occupation and colonization can be brutal (though far less so than Israel). Propagandists try to attribute this to anti-Semitism, to distract from the fact that these groups are resisting having their country stolen and their people dispossessed and annihilated. Native American resistance to European colonizers was sometimes extremely brutal, as was their rhetoric, but everyone universally recognizes that this was not because of “anti-White-ism”, or “anti-European-ism”, but because they were having their land stolen and their people massacred, the same thing that Israel is doing to the Palestinians.
    • Palestinians have the right under international law to resist occupation, ethnic cleansing, colonization, aggression, and annexation. Miko Peled, son of an Israeli general, recently statedthat if Israel doesn’t Like rockets, they should decolonize Palestine. Dr. Norman Finkelstein notesthat “The Palestinians have the right to use arms to resist an occupation . However, the fact that morally and legally they have that right doesn’t mean that it’s the most prudent strategy. In my opinion, a national Palestinian leadership committed to mobilizing nonviolent resistance can defeat the Israeli occupation if those of us living abroad lend support to it.”
  • In 1948, the people who wanted to form a Jewish state carried out a massive terror and ethnic cleansing campaign against the occupants of Palestine, expelling about half of them (750,000) from their land and into concentrated areas (Gaza and West Bank). Israel has slowly continued colonizing even those areas, which were specifically reserved by the UN for Palestinians. Israel takes all the best land and resources, such as water. Here is a visualization of what has happened, and is currently happening with massive support from Obama:

  • Israeli settlement building in Palestine is a war crime under international law. Under Obama, Israeli settlement building is up over 130%.
  • For about 40 years, there has been an international consensus that Israel must stop colonizing territory outside its 1967 borders. The consensus has been blocked by the United States, in isolation from the international community (much like the USA’s isolated, strong support for South African Apartheid). Every year there is a UN vote on the issue, and every year it goes about 165 to 2, the world against the US and Israel. This continues under Obama. All human rights groups support the consensus, as does Hamas, the Arab League, Iran, the Organization of the Islamic Conference… Virtually everyone, except the US and Israel. (More details on this page.)
  • Palestinians are brutalized, repressed and impoverished by Israel. To get a quick visual understanding of the difference between Gaza and Israel, take a look at the images of people and cities being wantonly pummeled by Israeli terrorism when you search the word “Gaza“, and the images of opulence, wealth and luxury that come up when you search “Tel Aviv“.
  • Israel, whose government intentionally targets, tortures, and murders civilians, including children, including with chemical weapons, and whose government uses Palestinian civilians as human shields, and whose government is the last entity on Earth carrying out old-style ethnic cleansing and colonization of foreign countries, is the single biggest recipient of US aid, at over three billion dollars a year and huge amounts of lethal weaponry such as attack helicopters and white phosphorous chemical explosives.
  • To reiterate, Obama requested more military aid for Israel than any president ever. This is not because Obama and the USA love Jewish people. Obama was recently an accomplice in a literal neo-Nazi-led coup d’etat in Ukraine, and is currently fully supporting the junta-integrated Ukrainian government, which is staffed with several neo-Nazis in high ministries, and which uses neo-Nazi paramilitaries to carry out massacres (and possibly genocide) against people resistant to the junta. The actual reason the US supports Israel is discussed below.
  • As Amnesty International has noted, all aid to Israel is illegal under international (and US) law, because Israel is a consistent violator of human rights.

Amnesty International also noted that Israel’s 2009 massacre of Gaza would not have been possible without the illegal funding (money and weapons) and support Israel gets from the USA.

This is also true of the current massacre Israel is committing in Gaza.

However, in a way, that is good news.

That means US citizens can STOP the massacres.

If we stop our money and weapons-flow to Israel, which is illegal anyway, we stop Israeli terrorism! All we have to do is stop committing a crime, and we will stop more crimes! That’s great news.

Here is a previous example of how this has worked: When the USA cut its funding for Indonesia’s genocide against East Timor, which the USA was funding almost exclusively, Indonesia was forced to stop and withdraw. All it took was cutting off our illegal flow of money and weapons to the criminals.

The same thing would happen if we cut our illegal funding for Israel’s genocides and acts of terrorism, ethnic cleansing, colonization, and annexation against Palestine.

But since the USA is an anti-democratic country, the only way to stop US plutocrats from using our money to fund Israeli terrorism is to force it through massive, non-violent pressure.

One way it happens is when it becomes too politically costly for the plutocracy to keep funding genocide and terror, meaning the costs of their illegal support outweigh the benefits, as in Indonesia. In that case, massive publicity and indigenous resistance accomplished the goal.

But Israel is the USA’s main imperial – and nuclear – base for controlling the Middle East, which US planners, in 1945, called the greatest material prize in world history, due to the oil and gas. Thus, it might require more, as in non-violently making our country into a democracy so that people control their own institutions and money, and thus the way we operate as a society and interact with the world.

Last note: To be clear, Israel is a legal state, but only within the borders allotted to it by the United Nations – the Pre-1967 borders, which existed before Israel started eating away, through terror, ethnic cleansing, colonization, and annexation, at the areas reserved by the United Nations for Palestinians, as well as areas of other countries, such as Syria (the Golan Heights).

Per international law, US domestic law, and common sense, Israel doesn’t deserve any support until it abandons isolationism and accepts that it can’t steal other people’s countries, and stops blockading and withdraws its soldiers and settlers, all there illegally, from those countries.

Israel is, militarily, the most powerful country in the Middle East, by far. Removing our support for the Israeli government (which we are legally required to do) will not put Israelis in danger. It will pressure the Israeli government to stop doing what endangers Israelis, which is committing aggressive acts against Israel’s neighbors.

If Israel ends its status as a consistent violator of human rights, decolonizes Palestine, and respects its neighbors, it could be a pleasure – and legal – to work with and support Israel.

Germany, Japan, and South Africa went from being the most reviled countries on Earth to being some of the most admired. Maybe Israel could undergo the same transformation, but not unless we, US citizens, help by ceasing to enable Israeli terrorism and war crimes by illegally supporting them.

 

— Robert Barsocchini, July 12, 2014.

 

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/07/facts-us-citizens-need-know-israel-palestine.html

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

 
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