USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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Successful First Week of IAW at USC!

Posted by uscsjp on April 18, 2010

Fellow Students for Justice in Palestine,

I would like to express my sincerest thanks and appreciation for all the hard work that has been put in over the last week by members of SJP and our supporters in other organizations!

The Apartheid Wall on Trousdale was an unprecedented success- hundreds of students stopped by to read about Israel’s policies against the Palestinians and we passed out hundreds of flyers during the two days it was up. Here is the overwhelmingly positive Daily Trojan article:

On Thursday we attempted to protest the Israeli Independence Day Festival on campus by silently holding signs (reading: “Celebrate 62 Years of Ethnic Cleansing” and other similar slogans) and passing out flyers. The president of SCSI reacted by calling 3 DPS vans to come out and force us to leave the perimeter, but luckily this effort was rebuffed after we appealed to USC authorities.

At both of these events, it has become painfully obvious to us that Israel and its supporters are keenly aware of their lack of legitimacy and are becoming more desperate in their attempts to silence us. While we did not react in any way when they protested the Wall earlier in the week, at numerous times they confronted our students (once, for example, an SCSI student yelled at an LGBT-identified SJP student that “he would be hanged” if he went back to his country. Probably one of the first times any of us had ever heard a good LGBT record used to intimidate an LGBT individual…)

But these events remind us of the deep legitimacy and righteousness behind the cause of Palestinian Freedom, and the urgency with which we must pursue it on our campus.

In Solidarity,
alex shams

IAW @ USC Events page here:


Posted in Activism/Divestment, Articles in USC Newspaper, News | 1 Comment »

“Unprecedented Victory”

Posted by uscsjp on December 7, 2009

A message from Alex Shams:

“Fellow Students for Justice in Palestine, Last Thursday we witnessed an incredible and UNPRECEDENTED victory anti-racist and progressive students on campus, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. PUBLIC CONDEMNATION OF THE USC COLLEGE REPUBLICANS for fostering an environment of BIGOTRY in light of Horowitz’ comments at our school some weeks ago. In the Daily Trojan today, a full advertisement was placed by Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Jackson condemning the comments. This is a result of weeks of pressuring and campaigning by multiple individuals, in an attempt to have redress for the bigoted, hateful, and Islamophobic remarks the College Republicans invited Horowitz to say. Today, we see an Unprecedented step on the part of the Administration- the University has NEVER condemned a student group like this for its actions But this is only the beginning. We must work from here to ensure that our campus is not merely ‘tolerant”‘or ‘liberal’- but this campus strive to be anti-racist, inclusive, and progressive! We must lead the way for our nation and for the world, because if change does not come from the youth and from our centers of education, where will it come from? We are the instruments of social change, and we are powerful- now, we must wield this power on campus in a way that actively combats oppression and creates a more open and fair society and world. Join US! Next semester, on Wed January 13th at 5 PM we will have our first meeting- more details to be announced. We have already started planning a great number of events, speeches, and conferences for the 2010 Spring Semester- and we need all the help we can get! IN SOLIDARITY, alex shams

Transcript of Letter:

“December 3, 2009 An Open Letter to the USC Community The University of Southern California has taken many institutional steps to promote tolerance and mutual respect within our academic community. Committees have been created, policies have emerged, and acts of intolerance have been condemned by the USC administration. However, our community is not merely defined by administrative actions. We all must do our part to elevate tolerance and respect for others in our community. The university strives to provide an optimal learning community with an atmosphere of free inquiry and expression– an environment that fosters the examination of major issues of social, political, economic, ethical and aesthetic importance. Thriving in such an environment means we all encounter differences: different people, beliefs, cultures, religions, ethnicities and values. The manner in which we accept and work with these differences characterizes our individual principles. Recent events have led members of our community, our Muslim students, to feel threatened, unsafe, and betrayed. The students feel attacked in part by statements made by a speaker at a non-university sponsored event. These statements claim that the USC Muslim Student Union is a terrorist organization with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. The USC MSU is an outstanding student organization that contributes to a welcoming, safe environment for Muslim students to celebrate and share their culture. Further, this organization has never engaged in any campus activities that presented concerns for the university. The MSU is comprised exclusively of USC students and deserves to be treated with respect. Referring to Muslim students or any other group in derogatory terms will not be tolerated. We are a community of scholars and Trojans; bigoted name-calling has no place here. These past events underscore the importance of each person maintaining a basic respect for the rights of people to uphold their own beliefs and to work, learn, and prosper in harmony within our academic community. We each must pledge to encourage respect for human rights and dignity on our campus, in our society, and in the global community.


Michael L. Jackson Vice President for Student Affairs”

And finally, some upcoming events

On Saturday, Dec. 12 in Orange County and Sunday, Dec. 13 in San Diego, there will be special public forums and signings of the new book “Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire,” by Richard Becker, West Coast Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition. We urge you to attend one or both of these important meetings.

Orange County Event (Anaheim)
Saturday, December 12, 2pm
Unitarian Universalist Church of Anaheim
511 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim, CA 92805
Map & Driving Directions

The Forum will feature:
Richard Becker, author, “Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire”
Muna Coobtee, Palestinian American Women’s Association

There will be discussion, questions, and a book signing, sponsored by ANSWER, the Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East and the PSL. Click here to RSVP to the Orange County Event.

San Diego Event
Sunday, December 13, 2:00pm
Latte Mi Corazon (Coffee Shop)
129 25th St., San Diego, CA 92102
Map & Driving Directions

Speakers include:
Richard Becker, author Palestine, Israel and the U.S. Empire
Yousef Abudayyeh, Free Palestine Alliance
Abel Macias, Party for Socialism and Liberation

There will be discussion, questions and a book signing. Click here to RSVP to the San Diego Event.

Posted in Activism/Divestment, Articles in USC Daily, Articles in USC Newspaper | 1 Comment »

Educating Congress and other recent updates

Posted by uscsjp on November 28, 2009

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation:

Join Our Congressional District Coordinator (CDC) Network

You can help us move this debate forward and help create momentum for real policy change by joining our re-launched Congressional District Coordinator (CDC) network .

“Since re-launching this network last month, activists in about 50 Congressional districts have signed up to become CDC’s.  It’s a good start, but we’re only a little more than 10% of the way toward creating a coordinated nationwide network of activists who are committed to educating their Members of Congress about Palestine/Israel issues from the perspective of human rights, international law, and equality.  Learn more about what’s involved in becoming a CDC and sign up today…

And in recent news (thanks to Gary Yeritsian for drawing my attention to this):

Israeli forces racially profile, deny entry to former Black Panther leader from US

“Along with Washington DC based independent journalist Naji Mujahid, bin Wahad was detained at the Allenby bridge that crosses the River Jordan and marks the main border terminal between Jordan and the West Bank. Contrary to past signed agreements, however, Israeli forces control the border terminal, and arbitrarily detained the two men for over 11 hours before refusing them entry and forcing them to return to Jordan.

Mujahid told an IMEMC reporter, ‘As soon as we got off the bus, we were immediately singled out by the Israeli Defense Force soldiers that were there. There was a bus full of people, and this was before they even know who we were, our history, what we were there for, or anything. We believe they saw two black men and decided to single us out. They confiscated our cell phones, and took my media equipment and cameras.’

He then described a grueling 11-hour interrogation in which the two men were separated from each other and strip searched, all of their luggage examined piece by piece. Both were separately asked the same questions about their religious and political beliefs, including whether they were Muslim, what type of Muslim, if they had been on a pilgrimage to Mecca, how they felt about the government of Saudi Arabia, and many more questions about their lives and political beliefs.

The two Americans had never been to the Palestinian Territories before, and were on their way to attend a conference in Jericho convened by the Palestinian Authority on the status of political detainees in Israel.

Israel’s denial of entry to certain internationals based on their race, religion or political beliefs has become extremely commonplace since 2006. Although such racial and religious profiling is a direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, no foreign government has taken Israel to the International Criminal Court for its actions.”

— Saed Bannoura, IMEMC News, 27 November, 2009

And also, on recent campus organizing:

Horowitz event spurs walkouts and protests

“A private event hosted by the USC College Republicans featuring conservative speaker David Horowitz prompted protests and a walkout Wednesday night.

The event came a day after a number of students complained about being denied entrance to the speech. Earlier this week, USC College Republicans said they would bar some individuals affiliated with Students for Justice in Palestine to prevent any disruption…”

–By Christianna Kyriacou, Daily Trojan, 5 November, 2009

And the following response from Alex Shams of USC SJP:

“Fellow Students for Justice in Palestine,

Our campaign to not allow racist Horowitz to speak at our University unopposed has succeeded! The event, which was covered in the DT, the Socialist Worker, Horowitz’s blog and a few other right-wing sites, began with a number of vicious smears (among them, that SJP gives money to the Taliban), after which 10-15 SJP Members and supporters stood up and turned their backs on Horowitz! After this, DPS evicted them from the event and a rally was held outside with some 30 people.

Hate Speech spreads ignorance and racism, and with that discrimination and violence. In the last few years, hate crimes against Muslim-Americans have skyrocketed across the country, and there have been violent attacks against Muslim students on our own campus. This hatred is encouraged by the Islamophobia spewing from Horowitz’s mouth- and it is in the name of preventing the spread of violence that we stood up and refused to offer Horowitz a podium in one of the best academic institutions in the world. This is OUR University, not his, and we will defend our rights and safety.

The USC College Republicans, aware of our anger at their decision to bring a racist to campus to speak, blocked many from attending the event. But it was not just SJP students- only SJP students with Muslim-sounding names were blocked! This racial discrimination is unacceptable at a USC event, and we are currently filing complaints. If you RSVPed to the event, and were either allowed or refused entry, please send me a message with the date and time of your RSVP.

In addition, if you are a student please contact an RA and ask them to file an official complaint on your behalf to Heather Larabee regarding the Islamophobic nature of the event. No matter if you RSVPed or not, if she receives many complaints she will be more inclined to listen to us.

In Solidarity with anti-racism all over the world!

alex shams”

And an interesting perspective on media disinformation from Laurence Krauss writing  in Scientific American:

War Is Peace: Can Science Fight Media Disinformation?

“When I saw the statement repeated online that theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking of the University of Cambridge would be dead by now if he lived in the U.K. and had to depend on the National Health Service (he, of course, is alive and working in the U.K., where he always has), I reflected on something I had written a dozen years ago, in one of my first published commentaries:

‘The increasingly blatant nature of the nonsense uttered with impunity in public discourse is chilling. Our democratic society is imperiled as much by this as any other single threat, regardless of whether the origins of the nonsense are religious fanaticism, simple ignorance or personal gain’…”

–Laurence Krauss, Scientific American, December, 2009

For an even more radical critique of the media, see this excellent essay by Edward Herman:

The Propaganda Model: A Retrospective

“In Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, Noam Chomsky and I put forward a ‘propaganda model’ as a framework for analysing and understanding how the mainstream U.S. media work and why they perform as they do (Herman and Chomsky 1988). We had long been impressed with the regularity with which the media operate on the basis of a set of ideological premises, depend heavily and uncritically on elite information sources, and participate in propaganda campaigns helpful to elite interests. In trying to explain why they do this we looked to structural factors as the only possible root of the systematic patterns of behavior and performance. 

Because the propaganda model challenges basic premises and suggests that the media serve antidemocratic ends, it is commonly excluded from mainstream debates on media bias….”

–Edward S. Herman, Against All Reason, December 9, 2003

And finally, Thanks to Jeff  Warner for the following list of Upcoming LA Area Events

Saturday, Dec. 12

Israel-Palestine and American Empire

By Richard Becker (ANSWER)

Unitarian Universalist Church, 511 SOUTH HARBOR BLVD, ANAHEIM, CA

Sunday, Dec. 20, 10 AM

Report on Viva Palestina USA July Humanitarian Mission to Gaza

Speakers:  Jeff Warner (LA Jews for Peace) and Tony Litwinko (Friends of Sabeel)

All Saints Church, Pasadena

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Israel’s Elections Promise To Bring More Hatred and Aggression

Posted by uscsjp on February 9, 2009

Israel’s elections and U.S. policy

“Israel is holding its national elections tomorrow. Not only is it virtually certain that the right-wing militarist Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud Party will become the new Prime Minister, but it is highly likely that the ultra-right, anti-Arab nationalist and West Bank settler Avigdor Lieberman of the racist Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home) Party will perform scandalously well.  Polls show Lieberman’s party winning between 15 to 20 of the 120 seats in the Knesset, perhaps even surpassing Israel’s Labour Party for third place and even an outside change for second place.  Lieberman’s party will form a vital component of Netanyahu’s ruling coalition and will secure a key Cabinet post for Lieberman himself.

So extreme and repugnant is Lieberman that even Marty Peretz’s New Republic this week called his party ‘an extremist right-wing party’ and said that Lieberman ‘has focused much of his campaign inciting public anger against Israel’s Arab minority.’  In that article — headlined:  ‘The alarming rise of radical nationalism in Israel’ — former IDF soldier Arik Ben-Zvi described just some of the disgraceful lowlights:

Under the catchy slogan ‘No citizenship without loyalty’ (it rhymes in Hebrew), Yisrael Beiteinu is pushing for a new law requiring all citizens to swear an ‘oath of loyalty’ to the state. Israeli-Arab citizens or others who refuse could have their citizenship stripped from them…”

–Glenn Greenwald,, 9 February, 2009

Democracy Now! Latest Headlines:

UN Halts Gaza Aid Delivery in Hamas Dispute

“In Israel and the Occupied Territories, the UN says it’s stopped aid deliveries into Gaza after Hamas forces seized a shipment for the second time. United Nations Relief and Works Agency spokesperson Christopher Gunness said Hamas seized ten trucks on Friday.

UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness: ‘The people of Gaza have suffered enough. They have gone through twenty-two days of conflict, and now we have a situation where their aid is jeopardized because their aid is being confiscated. This is a situation which must end immediately. The aid must be given back by the Hamas government.’

Hamas called the incident a misunderstanding and said it won’t be repeated. Much of Gaza’s 1.5 million population depends on aid for survival. Meanwhile, Israel continues sporadic military attacks in Gaza. Earlier today, a Palestinian militant was killed near the town of Beit Hanoun when an Israeli tank fired from across the border…”

–Democracy Now!, 9 February, 2009

See Also the following video from the BBC:

Families destroyed by Gaza conflict

“Three weeks of conflict in Gaza inflicted devastating damage.

Jeremy Bowen met a brother and sister who have lost their family…”

–BBC News, 8 February, 2009

Daily Trojan Letter to the Editor

“I take offense at the publication of a previous letter that begins, ‘Israel justified in defending itself.’ A sentence later, this letter introduces two entirely false claims: that last Monday’s protest was ‘anti-Israel’ and that its participants ‘perpetrated untruthful information about the current situation in the Middle East concerning Israel and the Gaza territory.’

I must insist that vague, derogatory terms like ‘anti-Israel,’ are improperly directed at the three respectable student organizations involved in Monday’s ‘Let Gaza Live’ rally: the Muslim Student Union, Students for Justice in Palestine and Food Not Bombs. To suggest that the rally was ‘anti-Israel’ is a misleading libel. By description, our rally intended ‘to raise awareness of a new SJP campaign to ask for USC divestment from Israel, in hopes that by alienating the Israeli state and withdrawing our money we will be able to influence its actions and help lead to a peaceful and just resolution to the problem that allows both sides to live in peace.’ If the idea of a boycott seems unproductive to some, we kindly ask students across campus and within all campus organizations to help us come up with a more creative, effective alternative. What else could end the violence between the Israelis and Palestinians? What else will work to end the occupation? Until a legitimate alternative is raised, our effort to initiate divestment from Israel stands…”

–Marwa Katbi, Daily Trojan, 8 February, 2009

And Finally, from Ha’aretz:

Secret Israeli database reveals full extent of illegal settlement

“Just four years ago, the defense establishment decided to carry out a seemingly elementary task: establish a comprehensive database on the settlements. Brigadier General (res.) Baruch Spiegel, aide to then defense minister Shaul Mofaz, was put in charge of the project. For over two years, Spiegel and his staff, who all signed a special confidentiality agreement, went about systematically collecting data, primarily from the Civil Administration.

One of the main reasons for this effort was the need to have credible and accessible information at the ready to contend with legal actions brought by Palestinian residents, human rights organizations and leftist movements challenging the legality of construction in the settlements and the use of private lands to establish or expand them. The painstakingly amassed data was labeled political dynamite.

The defense establishment, led by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, steadfastly refused to publicize the figures, arguing, for one thing, that publication could endanger state security or harm Israel’s foreign relations. Someone who is liable to be particularly interested in the data collected by Spiegel is George Mitchell, President Barack Obama’s special envoy to the Middle East, who came to Israel this week for his first visit since his appointment. It was Mitchell who authored the 2001 report that led to the formulation of the road map, which established a parallel between halting terror and halting construction in the settlements.

The official database, the most comprehensive one of its kind ever compiled in Israel about the territories, was recently obtained by Haaretz. Here, for the first time, information the state has been hiding for years is revealed. An analysis of the data reveals that, in the vast majority of the settlements – about 75 percent – construction, sometimes on a large scale, has been carried out without the appropriate permits or contrary to the permits that were issued. The database also shows that, in more than 30 settlements, extensive construction of buildings and infrastructure (roads, schools, synagogues, yeshivas and even police
stations) has been carried out on private lands belonging to Palestinian West Bank residents…”

–Uri Blau, Ha’aretz, 1 February, 2009

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60 Minutes Confronts Israeli Apartheid; BBC Continues to Refuse Palestine Charity Ad

Posted by uscsjp on February 1, 2009

Latest from Al Jazeera: Israeli jets bomb Gaza targets

“The Israeli military has bombed several targets in the Gaza Strip hours after the prime minister threatened to use a ‘disproportionate response’ to fresh rocket fire from the Palestinian territory…”

–Al Jazeera English, 2 February, 2009

J Street: 60 Minutes under attack

“This past Sunday, 60 Minutes aired a powerful and thoughtful report on the danger that Israeli settlements pose to the chances for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Watch the segment here.

Since the airing of the segment, 60 Minutes’ Bob Simon has been under attack for supposed ‘anti-Israel bias.’ CAMERA (the Orwellian-named Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) alerted their activist network – flooding the 60 Minutes’ offices and their advertisers with angry phone calls charging media bias. Jewish community leader Abe Foxman fired off a letter calling the piece a ‘hatchet job on Israel.’ J Street members are writing letters of support to Bob Simon..”

–J Street, January, 2009

BBC halts inquiry into Gaza charity decision after legal challenge

“The BBC has been forced to halt an internal investigation into its decision not to broadcast an appeal for the aid effort in Gaza after being threatened with legal action.

The BBC Trust, the corporation’s internal regulator, has been examining 22,000 complaints against the decision by Mark Thompson, the Director-General, not to screen the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal on the grounds that it would compromise the broadcaster’s impartiality.

The Trust has been forced to halt its deliberations after being served with a 23-page letter by Hickman & Rose, a North London firm of solicitors, that threatens to take the corporation to judicial review if the BBC does not screen the DEC appeal.

The legal letter, sent on behalf of two residents of Gaza and one British citizen, is understood to allege that the BBC’s decision was ‘irrational or unlawful’, is ‘offensive to public feeling’ and breaches Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, regarding freedom of expression…”

–Patrick Foster, The Times Online, 30 January, 2009

(Socialist Worker)

The tale of two apartheids

“IN APRIL 1976, John Vorster, president of the then-racist apartheid regime of South Africa, paid an official state visit to Israel, where he was given the red-carpet treatment.

Israeli television showed him on his first day, visiting the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. At an official state banquet held for Vorster, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin toasted the ‘ideals shared by Israel and South Africa.’

Why was an outspoken member of a Nazi militia in South Africa during the Second World War and a leading member of the party that crafted official apartheid policies in South Africa being feted in Israel?

A statement in the South African government’s yearbook made two years after Vorster’s visit provides an answer: ‘Israel and South Africa have one thing above all else in common: they are both situated in a predominantly hostile world inhabited by dark peoples’…”

–Paul D’Amato, Socialist Worker, 29 January, 2009

USC professor helps boycott Israeli colleges

“As the conflict in Gaza rages on, professor David Lloyd has taken up his own fight here in the United States; along with 150 of his colleagues at other universities, Lloyd has joined the U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel in hopes of ending the violence in the area.

Lloyd, who teaches English, has been involved in several other divestment movements, including one to end apartheid in South Africa. His current campaign focuses on pressuring American colleges to refrain from establishing ties with Israeli universities until scholars in Israel speak out against their government’s policies in Gaza.

‘We are calling for the boycott because Israel has systematically denied the rights of Palestinians to get a full and proper access to education. It’s not just that they have bombed several educational institutions,’ he said. ‘They systematically interfere with access to education, whether it’s through the intricate network of checkpoints denying Gaza scholars the chance to take up their study in the U.S.’

The controversy surrounding this issue is not lost on Lloyd. He and his colleagues have received hate mail as a result of their involvement in the campaign, primarily because they have criticized the United States unwavering support of Israel and have accused Israel of failing to abide by international law, Lloyd said.

‘Up until this point, it has been virtually unspeakable in public to talk about boycotting Israel, and it produces a very hostile response. In the end, what we’re aiming at is a full boycott of Israel, both academic and economic,’ he said. ‘To circulate this idea as a possibility is of major importance. It’s part of a larger campaign to say Israel cannot be the exception. … All that we are asking is that the United States treat Israel the way it treats all other countries’…”

–Nicole Dailo, Daily Trojan, 30 January, 2009

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