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Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

This Palestinian Writer’s Diary From Gaza Should Be Required Reading (Alternet)

Posted by uscsjp on July 12, 2016

“Individuals aren’t the targets, but residences, family houses. They’re bombed until there’s nothing left.”

Posted in Analysis, Culture, History | 1 Comment »

Palestinian Kids Are A Miracle Too. Santana, Cancel Your Tel Aviv Concert!

Posted by uscsjp on June 29, 2016

by Ramah Kudaimi
June 29th, 2016

Musician Carlos Santana is scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv on July 30. Santana is committed to the welfare of children and founded the Milagro Foundation in 1998, whose name means miracle and was inspired by the image of children as divine miracles of light and hope. On June 28, staff at the foundation’s office refused to open the door when a delegation, including local Palestinian families with children, attempted to deliver a petition signed by 25,000 people urging him to cancel.

In 2010 Santana honored the call from Palestinian civil society for cultural boycott and cancelled a planned concert. Join the efforts to calling on him to respect the boycott call once again!

Watch and share this powerful video urging him to stand on the right side of history.


Post these memes on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, and other social networks. Use #BelieveInMiracles.

There are also sample tweets included, which you can automatically tweet by clicking on them. The messages can also be posted on his Facebook page.

More Sample Tweets:

– See more at:

Posted in Activism/Divestment, Culture | Leave a Comment »

The Gatekeepers: In New Film, Ex-Shin Bet Chiefs Denounce Occupation, Compare Israel to Nazi Germany

Posted by uscsjp on January 29, 2013

AARON MATÉ: For our first segment, we turn to Israel and the Occupied Territories, where Israeli forces have begun the year with a spate of killings of unarmed Palestinian civilians. So far this month, at least five unarmed Palestinians have been shot to death by Israeli troops. The latest we know about was a 21-year-old Palestinian woman named Lubna Hanash, who was killed when Israeli forces opened fire at a West Bank school. A witness said Hanash was standing with a group of companions when they came under fire.

AHMED ABU KHERAN: [translated] Two Israeli solders traveling in a white car pointed their weapons, shooting indiscriminately at a college, where the women were standing at the entrance, and there was another man inside. They shot three people, and then a large number of soldiers arrived.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, on Monday, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem put out a report saying Israeli forces have been “extensively and systematically” violating their own rules of engagement when suppressing protests in the West Bank, in many cases leading to Palestinian deaths. According to B’Tselem, since 2005 at least 48 Palestinians have been killed by live ammunition fired at people throwing stones. Six more were killed by rubber-coated bullets fired at dangerously close range, and two were killed by tear-gas canisters directly fired at protesters. This is B’Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli.

SARIT MICHAELI: This report exposes for the first time the full list of crowd-control weapons used by the Israeli security forces in the West Bank regarding Palestinian demonstrations, weapons like tear gas, rubber-coated bullets, the skunk stun grenades—different weapons that are meant to be non-lethal if used properly and according to regulations. We actually also provide the relevant military regulations that restrict the use of these different elements, and we show how these regulations are often very widely flouted by soldiers.

AARON MATÉ: That was Sarit Michaeli of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

Well, we turn now to an explosive new documentary film that features some unlikely and unprecedented criticism of the Israeli occupation of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. One subject of the film says, quote, “We are making the lives of millions unbearable, into prolonged human suffering, [and] it kills me.” A different subject of the film says, We’ve become, quote, “a brutal occupation force similar to the Germans in World War II.”

AMY GOODMAN: Now, these aren’t the words of Israeli peace activists or even of soldiers who have refused to serve in the Occupied Territories; they’re the words of the former heads of the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret service and the agency responsible for the country’s internal security. And in The Gatekeepers, by Israeli filmmaker Dror Moreh, these five—these six former Shin Bet chiefs are brought together to speak out for the first time ever.

In separate interviews, they they detail their methods against Palestinian militants and civilians in the Occupied Territories, including targeted killings, torture, recruiting informants, and the suppression of mass protests during the two intifadas. But in doing so, they also criticize the occupation they were assigned with defending and warn successive Israeli governments have endangered their country’s future by refusing to make peace.

In this clip, Yuval Diskin, who headed the Shin Bet from 2005 to 2011, shares the doubts he’s carried with him about the targeted killings of Palestinian militants.

YUVAL DISKIN: [translated] People expect a decision. And by “decision,” they usually mean “to act.” That’s a decision. “Don’t do it” seems easier, but it’s often harder. Sometimes it’s a super-clean operation: No one was hurt except the terrorists. Even then, later, life stops, at night, in the day, when you’re shaving—we all have our moments—on vacation. You say, “OK, I made a decision, and x number of people were killed. They were definitely about to launch a big attack.” No one near them was hurt. It was as sterile as possible. Yet you still say, “There’s something unnatural about it.” What’s unnatural is the power you have to take three people, terrorists, and take their lives in an instant.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Yuval Diskin, one of six former Shin Bet chiefs interviewed in the new documentary The Gatekeepers. It has just been nominated for the Academy Award for best documentary, joining a list of nominees that also includes another film about the Israeli occupation, Five Broken Cameras. The Gatekeepers opens in limited release in New York and Los Angeles Friday. Its director, Dror Moreh, joins us here in New York.

We welcome you, Dror, to New York to the studios of Democracy Now! You have interviewed all six surviving former Shin Bet heads, equivalent to the heads of the FBI.

DROR MOREH: FBI—well, a combination of FBI, CIA. They do all the things together.

AMY GOODMAN: How did you pull this off? Why did they talk to you?

DROR MOREH: I think they were ready to do that. I think that when I came to speak to them—as you know, timing is the most important thing, and I think that when I came to them with the idea of doing the movie, they felt that it’s already long due, needed, and that they had to speak, because they were worried about the state of Israel. They were worried about where Israel is headed if it will continue to maintain this occupation. So it was, for them, a kind of non-issue to come and speak in the movie.

AMY GOODMAN: In this clip, former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter discusses an Israeli bombing of a home in Gaza in July 2002. The attack killed Salah Shehadeh, the head of Hamas’s military wing in Gaza, but also 14 innocent civilians, including Shehadeh’s wife and daughter and a family of seven living next door. Dozens were also wounded. The attack occurred just as Shehadeh was reportedly preparing to sign onto a ceasefire halting attacks on Israelis not in the Occupied Territories. Here, Dror Moreh, the director, confronts Dichter about the civilian deaths.

AVI DICHTER: [translated] The Air Force dropped a one-ton bomb on the house. Unfortunately, because of inaccurate intelligence, innocents were killed. No one knows the final number: nine to 14.

DROR MOREH: [translated] When you drop a one-ton bomb on a densely populated area, like in the Shehadeh incident, obviously bystanders will be hurt.

AVI DICHTER: [translated] No, it’s not obvious, no. You gather intelligence: Where do people live? How many? Who? What are the chances? Where do you shoot from?

AMY GOODMAN: Former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter. Talk about his response.

DROR MOREH: Well, look, I—I have to say that I a little bit feel uncomfortable in the way that you present the things here, because you portray the things as if Israel is the brutal, aggressive all the time, with the Palestinians, that they are like doves. There is reason why the Shin Bet is doing what it’s doing there. And the fact of the matter is that you cannot say—in a way, portray Israel as the aggressive and the Palestinians are the innocent bystander who are always being killed by those aggressive forces. It’s not the case at all, and I think that this is misleading the people that are watching that.

And I think that there is—if there is something that I failed while doing this film, it’s that the whole situation is different shades of gray. There is no really total aggressive person there or aggressive entity towards a very innocent and not violent entity on the other side. It’s both. Both are doing the worst that they can. I think that I can relate to what Abba Eban said once, our former foreign minister. He said that the Palestinians have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. I can say that on both sides. Both sides have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

And this is the whole goal of The Gatekeepers. The Gatekeepers portrays Israeli occupation in the last 45 years and basically says, “Enough of that. It’s not going anywhere. It’s only tactic without strategy. Where do you want to go with this conflict ahead?” and to show that in a way that will only benefits both sides. If you portray only one side as the brutal, aggressive force and the other one as the innocent naive, you are doing wrong to the truth or to the facts on the ground. And I have to say that this is something which my movie tried to do very, very strongly: to portray the situation as it is. The Palestinians are doing terrorist attack. They have right to do, in a way, something which they want to create their own country, their own homeland, and they oppose the aggressive occupation.

AARON MATÉ: Well, we certainly aren’t here to debate the history with you, but we are trying to portray your film, and your movie has some very powerful statements that should be highlighted. You know, you have Avraham Shalom saying something like—a line like: “[We’ve become] a brutal occupation force similar to the Germans in World War II.”


AARON MATÉ: “We have become cruel, to ourselves as well, but mainly to the occupied population, using the excuse of the war against terror.”


AARON MATÉ: That’s in your movie, and it’s very powerful.

DROR MOREH: Absolutely, I’m not—yeah, I’m not saying that it’s not in the movie. Well, I did that movie; believe me, I know every sentence that is inside that movie. What I felt is that when you portray that as the Palestinians are people that are sitting there, you know, and not doing anything, it’s not the reality on the ground. And by that, you have to show both sides, because I think that when you do that, you portray only one side. And I said that before. It’s—you have to be balanced. And this is something that I felt that is not so much here.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, could you respond to both of these points? One is this powerful statement that Avraham Shalom says, the former head of Shin Bet—

DROR MOREH: Yeah, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —comparing themselves to the Nazis.

DROR MOREH: He’s—well, look, I have to say that this sentence that Avraham Shalom said, I—when I was doing the interview, it felt like a physical blow to my stomach when he said that. And I have to say that Avraham Shalom—well, when you see the film, you’ll know what happened in the 300 line when he ordered the execution of two terrorists that were captured alive. I think—

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to talk about that after break. You’re talking about the execution of the—

DROR MOREH: Of the two terrorists who—

AMY GOODMAN: —of those who blew up the bus.

DROR MOREH: Yeah—no, didn’t blow up the bus; they were trying to kidnap the bus. They were captured alive after the storm on the bus. And he ordered them to be executed without a trial.

Look, I think that the occupation is bad for Israel, and I think that those people who came to speak in the movie, the six heads of the security defense establishment, the Shin Bet, came because they feel that the occupation of the Palestinians in the last 45 years is something that is not good for the state of Israel and should be stopped. And I think that when Avraham Shalom spoke about what you just mentioned, he spoke about the ramification of the occupation on the Israeli population, about what is becoming inside, internally, in the Israeli civilian people. And I totally agree with him.

And, by the way, Avraham Shalom was a young kid in Vienna in the 1930s. He didn’t know that he’s a Jew. He was forced to go to school after the Kristallnacht. He was almost beaten to death by his classmates. He felt firsthand what it means to be a Jew under a racist regime. And when he compares that, he compares the Israeli occupation to the Germans, that—like how the Germans treated the Poles, the Czechs, the Dutch, he knows what he speaks about. And I think that his worry is something that had resonance in me, as well, about what—where will it lead, the occupation—I mean, if it will continue like that.

AMY GOODMAN: And Avi Dichter’s point when he’s talking about the killing of the Hamas leader who was going for a ceasefire, killing his wife—

DROR MOREH: Look, this is something that happens in America, as well. Avi Dichter just mentioned after that, in that clip, he said that the Americans have drone attacks in Afghanistan. They killed 70 people in a wedding, which nobody knows if the suspect person was killed, as well. I think that now, in—the war of the 21st century is a war where you need intelligence to get to a needle in a haystack—that means in the form of a terrorist, that you are looking for him. And the intelligence people want to get into that specific person in a certain date at a certain time at a certain place. And this is a very difficult war to maintain. America is doing it now. You—just now you heard in your news that they are going to do drones surveillance over North Africa. I don’t—I think that you have to think strategically: Where do you want to lead with this conflict?

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to continue this discussion. Dror Moreh is our guest. He is the Iraeli filmmaker, director of the Oscar-nominated documentary, The Gatekeepers. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.


AARON MATÉ: Well, we were just talking about the hijacking of the 300 bus, so let’s go to a clip of that. This excerpt deals with the Shin Bet’s killing of two Palestinian hijackers of an Israeli bus in 1984. They were brutally beaten to death by Israeli forces after they were captured. Avraham Shalom, the former Shin Bet director, who’s ordered the killing—who ordered the pair’s killing in person, is among those interviewed. He was later forced to resign over the incident.

AMI AYALON: [translated] We killed a terrorist, whose hands were tied, who no longer threatened us. By what right? But in the Shin Bet back then, there was no such concept as an illegal order. Not only did the Shin Bet fail, the Cabinet and the prime minister failed. And to some degree, they oversee the Shin Bet.

YAAKOV PERI: [translated] It’s a tough question. Did the prime minister know about the premeditated murder, the plan to kill the terrorist caught on the 300 bus? Did the head of the Shin Bet have the authority to do that, to make those decisions?

DROR MOREH: [translated] Under what circumstances did Shamir give you permission to kill?

AVRAHAM SHALOM: [translated] There were one or two cases, when I couldn’t find him, and it had to be done.

DROR MOREH: [translated] What had to be done?

AVRAHAM SHALOM: [translated] We had to deal with Arabs who were about to launch an attack, or that launched an attack. He said, “If you can’t find me, decide on your own.”

AARON MATÉ: That’s Avraham Shalom, a former Shin Bet director, who actually was forced to resign over this incident of the 300 bus. And before him speaking were two other directors of the Shin Bet, interviewed in this film that we’re talking about, The Gatekeepers. So, Dror, if you could talk about this incident?

DROR MOREH: This incident basically shook the corridors of power in Israel. It was the first time that the Shin Bet has come to the light of the cameras or the light of the—because before that, Shin Bet was almost—no one knew about, that Shin Bet existed, only few people around Israel, and basically the Shin Bet could do whatever he wanted. And that resulted in that horrible incident where the head of Shin Bet ordered the killing of two captured terrorists, which is horrible morality, any way that you can look at that.

But the main issue here for me was the fact that the politicians who gave those permissions to Avraham Shalom as head of Shin Bet were not convicted. You know, they always—those people who are in the field pay the price, and the politicians—namely, Yitzhak Shamir, the prime minister, and Shimon Peres—the after-that prime minister—fought in every way that they could in order to prevent that incident to go into the court. And at the end of the day, Avraham Shalom got clemency from the president, before trial even. It was unprecedented that someone get clemency before he was even convicted or tried. And they knew why, because they knew that if it will get into trial, it will reach the highest level of the political people in Israel, the prime minister. And basically, Avraham Shalom said, “I would say in a court that he gave me the permission to do that,” which is horrible.

AMY GOODMAN: In this clip of The Gatekeepers, the Shin Bet security chiefs discuss how they also confronted Israeli militants—in this case, the extremist right-wing group the Jewish Underground, which planned to blow up the Islamic holy site, the Dome of the Rock, in Jerusalem.

YAAKOV PERI: [translated] Then we investigated and found out that since 1978 to 1979 they were planning an attack on the Temple Mount to blow up the Dome of the Rock.

CARMI GILLON: [translated] At first, the idea was based on the belief that as long as the “abomination” stood over the site of the Jewish temple, there will be no Redemption; and therefore, they have to get rid of that dome. They prepared the bombs. They used a very sensitive type of explosive, Semtex. It was planned by Menachem Livni, who was a demolitions genius. The charges would be placed so that the entire force of the explosion would be directed at the support structure. This would result in the collapse of the dome. The consequence of blowing up the Dome of the Rock, even today, is that it could lead to total war by all the Islamic states, not just the Arab states, not just Iran, Indonesia too, against the state of Israel.

AARON MATÉ: That clip, from The Gatekeepers. Dror Moreh, this plot to blow up the Dome of the Rock?

DROR MOREH: You want me to have to tell you what happened there?

AARON MATÉ: Please, yes.

DROR MOREH: Well, I think that people should go to the movie and see that. It’s important. But look, the far-right extremism in Israel is the biggest danger to anything that moves towards peace. Those religious fanatics are willing to sacrifice everything in the name of God, in the name of their beliefs. And this is one of the most horrible incident in Israel’s history, the fact that people were willing to blow up the Dome of the Rock in order to stop the—it was when the peace process with Egypt, by the way. This was the aim of that. They wanted to blow up the Dome of the Rock as a preemptive that Israel will not withdraw from Sinai and create the peace with Egypt.

By the way, the head of Shin Bet, Dichter—this is not in the movie—said to me that in 2005, prior to the disengagement plan, which uprooted the settlements in Gaza, the fanatics, the extreme right-wing fanatics in Israel, were willing to blow up again the Dome of the Rock, and the threat over the dome was much more extensive than during the time of the Jewish Underground. And another plan was to assassinate the prime minister, the Prime Minister Sharon. And they know that if something will move towards peace, if there is something that can prevent that from happening, there is two things: Either they assassinate the prime minister, or either they will blow up one of the holy places to the Islam.

AARON MATÉ: Well, on this issue of fanatics, I want to ask you about the recent elections. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now working on putting together a coalition.


AARON MATÉ: And he’s going to have to include some pretty far-right groups.

DROR MOREH: Well, I would say—

AARON MATÉ: What’s your reaction to the election and—

DROR MOREH: I think that the last elections have proven that the Israeli public is much more smarter than the leaders. I think that—the way that I look at it, Netanyahu wanted to do that. Netanyahu wanted, before the elections, to move towards the extreme right, but the Israeli public said to him very, very clearly, “You cannot do that. You have to go to the center.” And by voting 19 members of the Knesset to the new—there is a future group. They told him very clearly, “You are the only candidate now in Israel. There is nobody who—there’s nobody who opposes you. So—but you cannot do that with the far extreme right; you have to go to the center.”

And this is what seems to be the case now. He’s negotiating with this center parties, and I hope that this was what happen. I don’t have any trust in Netanyahu. Netanyahu, for me, is something that is the most dangerous person in terms of the peace and in terms of Israel. But I think that the Israeli public have sent him a very clear message in that election.

AMY GOODMAN: Speaking on Democracy Now! in 2006, former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami


AMY GOODMAN: —said that the former prime minister, the man who was assassinated, Yitzhak Rabin, never expected that Oslo would result in a creation of a Palestinian state.

SHLOMO BEN-AMI: Arafat in Oslo reached an agreement that didn’t even mention the right of self-determination for the Palestinians, doesn’t even mention the need of the Israelis to put an end to settlements. If the Israelis, after Oslo, continued expansion of settlements, they were violating the spirit of Oslo, not the letter of Oslo. There is nothing in the Oslo agreement that says that Israelis cannot build settlements. …

It was an exercise in make-believe. The Palestinians didn’t even mention self-determination so a leader like Rabin could have thought that, OK, we will have an agreement that will create something which is a state-minus. This was Rabin’s expression. He never thought this will end in a full-fledged Palestinian state.

AARON MATÉ: That was former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami speaking on Democracy Now! in 2006. Now, of course, Rabin was assassinated by Israeli extremists.


AARON MATÉ: And I want to ask about that in a second, but the reason that we played this clip is because there’s a concern amongst many people that even within—that within the confines of mainstream Israeli politics, that there’s not the will to meet the minimal demands of Palestinians.

DROR MOREH: Absolutely.

AARON MATÉ: So, in your film, like there’s some great reverence for Rabin, and I understand that, but here you have the former foreign minister of Israel saying that even Rabin, who was at the—who was known as this man of peace, even he, himself, was not prepared to allow for a Palestinian state through the peace process.

DROR MOREH: I don’t know. I cannot speak in the name of Shlomo Ben-Ami, and I cannot speak in the name of Rabin. What I know is that the settlements are the biggest obstacle to peace. If there is something that will prevent peace, it’s the settlement and the settlers. They are the biggest obstacle to the peace process, to maintain or to continue. And I think this is the most largest and most influential and most powerful group in Israeli politics. They’re basically dictating the policy of Israel in the last years. I think that definitely for the Palestinians, the settlements are the worst enemy in the way—in their way to the homeland. When they see everywhere, in Judea and Samaria now, the settlements that are built like mushroom after rain, they see how their country is shrinking.

And for me, I am much more bleaker than those—the heads of the Shin Bet: I think that we have reached the point of no return. I don’t see a leader in Israel, definitely not the current one, who can weigh on his back the weight that—of the thing that needs to be done in order to reach peace: basically, to dismantle those settlements. And it’s tragic.

AARON MATÉ: What if—so, what will make the difference? If there’s no one in Israeli—in the Israeli mainstream who can do it, would a change in U.S. policy influence things?

DROR MOREH: Absolutely. I think that at the end of the day, unless Barack Obama—and I hope that in his last term, for the last four years—you know, he doesn’t have to be re-elected now—if he doesn’t force it, if he doesn’t come to both sides, by the way—the Palestinian are as weak as the Israelis, the leadership, although in the Palestinian Authority, the people, Abu Mazen and Salam Fayyad, are really pro-peace—this is what I feel. They say that they are renouncing terror. In the last—two days ago, there was an article in Israel that the last year was the cleanest year in terms of terrorist attacks in Israel. No Israeli died from terror attack coming from the West Bank. So, unless Barack Obama will come up, I would say, with an iron fist of 20 megaton in one hand and with a carrot on the other hand, and would say to them, “This is the deal. Take it or leave it. If you will take it, you will get this carrot. If you will not take it, you will get this iron fist,” nothing will happen on the ground. On the contrary, the thing will continue to deteriorate, and violence will prevail again.

AARON MATÉ: Have you tried to show this film to President Obama?

DROR MOREH: I wish that he will see that. I think that he can learn—I don’t know, how can I try to do that? Maybe if you can help me, I will be more than happy. I think that it shows for him a description of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, from the people who were most responsible to maintain that conflict, from people—from the security chiefs of the Israeli defense establishment, something that has not been done up until now together.

AMY GOODMAN: Dror Moreh, you have all six surviving former heads of Shin Bet.

DROR MOREH: Absolutely, all of them.

AMY GOODMAN: All critical—

DROR MOREH: All of them, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —ultimately, of the occupation.

DROR MOREH: All of them. All of things—

AMY GOODMAN: One of them you interviewed in the office when he was head of Shin Bet.

DROR MOREH: Of Shin Bet, yeah, in the Shin Bet headquarter.

AMY GOODMAN: What most surprised you in these interviews?

DROR MOREH: Well, I was shocked, believe me, 17 times, each interview, from what they told me. But the main thing I—what I felt was most surprising is how sober they are, how pragmatic they are, and how they see the fact that the leadership is not able to sustain the conflict, is not able to create a way out of that. This is something that they felt very strongly that they have to come against that. The fact that they served 45 years, more than that, in the service of the security of Israel, and they feel today that their work was in vain, in a way, because it didn’t lead Israel towards a better political solution. And this is the—

AMY GOODMAN: What was the quote that most surprised you?

DROR MOREH: A lot of them, a lot of the quotes. But basically, I would turn to what Ami Ayalon said when he came—when he was a young boy, he thought that there is a house in Jerusalem, and in that house there is a smart man—namely, Ben-Gurion. And he fix. He take care of us, of the Israelis. And when he grew up, he came to that house, he walked that corridor, he went beyond the door, and he saw that beyond that door there is no one who is thinking for us. And this is something that, you know, as a person who lives in a state like that, you think that the prime minister knows everything and takes the right decisions. After that movie, I’m much more desperate from—because I heard what they think about the leaders of Israel.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s Ayalon who said—


AMY GOODMAN: —the former Shin Bet head who said he realized there’s no one there—

DROR MOREH: Absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: —talking about Netanyahu.


AMY GOODMAN: Now, there is a fascinating thing that is going on right now, which is of the five Oscar-nominated films, two are made by Israelis.


AMY GOODMAN: Joining The Gatekeepers in the nominees for best documentary at this year’s Academy Awards is another film also critical of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza; it’s called 5 Broken Cameras. It tells the story of Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who got a video camera to record his son’s childhood but ended up documenting the growth of a resistance movement to the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank village of Bil’in. The film shows the nonviolent tactics used by residents of Bil’in as they join with international and Israeli activists to protest the wall’s construction and confront Israeli soldiers. Here, the co-director of 5 Broken Cameras, Emad Burnat, is arrested at night by Israeli forces who declare his home to be a “Closed Military Zone.”

ISRAELI POLICE: [translated] Open up!

EMAD BURNAT: [translated] Now it’s my turn. I take the camera to protect myself.

ISRAELI POLICE: [translated] I ask you to stop filming.

EMAD BURNAT: [translated] I can film in my own house.

ISRAELI POLICE: [translated] Show me your ID.

EMAD BURNAT: [translated] Get my ID. What’s the matter?

ISRAELI POLICE: [translated] This is a Closed Military Zone. “The military has declared this area a Closed Military Zone. Anyone found in a Closed Military Zone must evacuate the area at once. No one can enter or remain on the premises.” You are now in violation of that order. I ask you to stop filming.

EMAD BURNAT: [translated] I am a journalist. I can film.

ISRAELI POLICE: [translated] This is a Closed Military Zone. Stop filming. Put down the camera.

EMAD BURNAT: [translated] I am a journalist, and I’m in my own home.

ISRAELI POLICE: [translated] Put down the camera. That is an order. Turn the lens to the wall. Give it to your son. He can put it down.

AMY GOODMAN: An excerpt of 5 Broken Cameras, another of the five Oscar-nominated films, both made by Israeli filmmakers. This 5 Broken Cameras named for the fact that Emad Burnat, the Palestinian who’s trying to—started by filming his kid’s childhood, all five cameras were broken by the Israeli military occupation of his town in Bil’in. This is fascinating, Dror, that both of you, coming with different perspectives, but ultimately critical of the occupation, are going to be in the Oscars. What has been the reception to yours, and both these films?

DROR MOREH: First of all, I think that it’s an amazing fact that a country which is small like Israel, only seven million people, have produced two documentaries that have been nominated for the—in the last five nomination for the Oscars. I think it shows that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is alive. I think, of course, it’s a big interest all around the world and that there’s really amazing Israeli filmmakers who are coming and portraying that, although in Israel the people are not—well, they don’t deal with that as much as I think they should in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We are a nation that become living in denial.

I think that it shows that—Emad’s film is an amazing film. It shows that the Israeli—the Israeli documentary scene is really, really vibrant. It thinks about the problems that deal—that the Israelis are dealing with and want to change that. And the best way to change that is by creating documentaries, by creating those films that are accessible to the public.

My film opened three weeks ago in Israel. You know, in Israel, there’s not a lot of audience for documentaries. We opened in two art houses in Israel, the Cinematheque in Tel Aviv, Cinematheque in Jerusalem. A week after that, we moved to seven cinemas. Now we are in 15 cinemas. Even the big multiplexes have acquired the rights to show the film. It is sold out. And a lot of Israelis are coming to see that film. And I’m very, very happy for that, because I think that this is the way to show the Israeli people how the mirror effect of their life looks like in the reality, not in what they have been told in the government television.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you very much, Dror Moreh—

DROR MOREH: Thank you very much.

AMY GOODMAN: —for joining us, Israeli filmmaker, director of the Oscar-nominated documentary, The Gatekeepers.

This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. When we come back, we go to Seattle, where a major protest is going on among teachers against standardized tests. Stay with us.


–Democracy Now!, 29 January, 2013

Posted in Culture, News, Opinion/Editorial | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted by uscsjp on June 16, 2011

JUNE 9-25th

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

Tickets are $15 and available online BUY TIX


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

Please Forward to a Friend & Support Palestinian Narratives Onstage!




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

Tues, 6/21@7:00pm
Sat, 6/25@12:30pm


All performances at:

Theatre Asylum

6320 Santa Monica Blvd.

Los Angeles, California 90038


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





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


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

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

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

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Hamas Battles Islamist Group

Posted by uscsjp on August 14, 2009

“Clashes that have left at least 16 people dead in the Gaza Strip have spread from a mosque in the town of Rafah to the nearby home of the leader of al-Jamaa al-Salafiya al-Jihadya in Palestine.

Hamas security forces sieged control of the Ibn Taymiya mosque late on Friday after several hours of heavy clashes, but several of the fighters holed up inside managed to escape.

‘Hamas security and the military wing of Hamas were able to take over the mosque, but in the fighting several fighters loyal to the sheikh and members of his armed group fled to his house,’ Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Rafah, said…

The group seeks a Palestinian legal system based purely on the sharia – Islamic law – and accuses Hamas of being too liberal. The group is said to have threatened to burn down internet cafes and to demand greater modesty on Gaza beaches.

‘We are today proclaiming the creation of an Islamist emirate in the Gaza Strip,’ Musa had told worshippers at a Rafah mosque earlier, according to witnesses.

Musa said that if Hamas were to implement sharia he would immediately instruct his followers to comply with the movement’s instructions…”

Al Jazeera English, 14 August, 2009

Other Recent News from Al Jazeera

Israel troops ‘shot Gaza civilians’

“Israeli soldiers unlawfully shot and killed 11 Palestinian civilians, including four children, who were in groups waving white flags during the Gaza war, a report prepared by the US-based Human Rights Watch says…”

Al Jazeera English, 14 August, 2009

See Also the Latest News from Democracy Now!

“HRW: Israel Killed 11 Palestinian Civilians Waving White Flags in Gaza Assault

In Israel and the Occupied Territories, the group Human Rights Watch says it’s uncovered evidence of Israeli troops shooting dead at least eleven Palestinian civilians waving white flags during the US-backed attack on the Gaza Strip last January. Joe Stork of Human Rights Watch said most of the victims were women and children.

Joe Stork: ‘These are incidents in which eleven Palestinian civilians, nine of them children and women, were killed, despite the fact that they were holding or waving white flags to signify that they were civilians, they were unarmed, they had no hostile intent. But still, Israeli soldiers, in many cases after calling them out of their homes, shot them.’

In a homemade video, Gaza resident Khalid Abed Rabbo described the shooting death of his two young daughters.

Khalid Abed Rabbo: ‘When the soldiers arrived outside our house, they yelled for us to come outside. My wife, mother, three daughters and I went outside. We were holding cloths, because we are a peaceful family. I thought that the soldiers would realize that they were looking at women and children.’

Abed Rabbo’s three-year-old daughter and the children’s grandmother were also wounded in the shooting. The girls’ mother also witnessed the attack.

Umm Soad Abed Rabbo: ‘Right in front of me, they shot my eldest daughter. Then they shot the little one, Amal, and then Samar, who was in front of her. When we ran inside, they shot their elderly grandmother who can hardly walk’…”

–Democracy Now!, 14 August, 2009

And from The Electronic Intifada:

Gaza play highlights difficulties for artists under siege

‘Don’t people in Gaza love to see films like people anywhere?’ aspiring filmmaker Hossam Abdel Latif asks. His wife, the more practical Souad, retorts, ‘Someone who can’t afford to eat is going to go to the cinema?’

The question of the arts in times of siege and occupation is one of the main themes in Gaza’s newest theatre production, Film Cinema, which opened on 4 August in Gaza City. A stage buried in film negatives, and adorned with a lone plump teddy bear, sets the scene of the three-person play.

‘I’m Hossam Abdel Latif, and I want to make a film,’ the would-be film director repeatedly begins, facing his running video camera, only to be repeatedly interrupted…”

Eva Bartlett, The Electronic Intifada, 12 August 2009

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

Upcoming USC and Los Angeles Area Events

Posted by uscsjp on April 12, 2009

USC Events, Week of April 12th

THIS WEDNESDAY, we will be having a meeting at 5:00 PM in Leavey Auditorium to discuss upcoming events- including our cultural event on Thursday.

ALSO ON WEDNESDAY, we will be continuing our Middle Eastern Film Festival with the screening of DIVINE INTERVENTION, which is a 2002 film that consists largely of a series of brief interconnected sketches, but for the most part records a day in the life of a Palestinian living in Nazareth, whose girlfriend lives several checkpoints away in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

ON THURSDAY, we will be having a mock checkpoint set up at Tommy Trojan from 10 am to 3 pm. Please come by to check it out and support us, we also need volunteers to participate in taking on roles as Palestinian civilians and Israeli military guards, please contact us at or lmadriga@usc. edu if you can be there Thursday.

ALSO ON THURSDAY we will be having our cultural event, featuring Middle Eastern music and selling Palestinian food. This will be at Tommy Trojan from about 12 am-3 pm, please stop by and enjoy the good food and the good music!

With Respect,
Alex Shams & Lorena Madrigal
Co-Presidents SJP

Also Check Out:


Posted in Activism/Divestment, Culture | Leave a Comment »

Peres: Obama ‘very impressed’ by Arab League peace plan; Sabra and Shatila ‘animated documentary’

Posted by uscsjp on November 18, 2008

“LONDON – U.S. President-elect Barack Obama proclaimed himself ‘very impressed’ with the Arab League’s peace plan when he discussed it with President Shimon Peres during a brief visit to Israel four months ago, Peres said Tuesday.

Peres, who had just arrived in London for an official visit, made the comment in interviews to be published in the British media. He was responding to questions about whether he thought Obama would advance the Middle East peace process in general and the Arab League’s plan in particular.

But he denied a Sunday Times report earlier this week which claimed that Obama had said Israel would be ‘crazy’ to reject the Arab initiative…”

Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz, November 19 2008

War, death and animation: Cartoon film stirs Israel’s conscience

“Until a matter of months ago, very few Israelis realised that their army fired flares to light up Beirut’s Sabra and Shatila refugee camps while Lebanese Christian militiamen committed the notorious massacre of Palestinian civilians there in 1982.

But Ari Folman, who as a 19-year-old soldier fired some of the flares, makes their descent through the sky over Beirut’s beachfront one of the recurring images of Waltz With Bashir, his ‘animated documentary’ that premiers in Britain this week.

In Israel, the film has rekindled discussion about the divisive invasion of Lebanon that was initially billed by Ariel Sharon, who was defence minister at the time, as a limited push to halt PLO rocket attacks, and the extent of Israeli responsibility for the Sabra and Shatila massacre where the estimated number of victims ranged from 700 to more than 3,000. Folman has said he had no idea the massacre was being committed when he shot the flares.

The killings by Phalangist militiamen dispatched into the camps by Israel came after their leader, Bashir Gemayel, president-elect of Lebanon, was assassinated in a bombing wrongly blamed on Palestinians. An Israeli state commission of inquiry set up as a result of a tide of public protest in the massacre’s wake found that Mr Sharon, today comatose from a stroke nearly three years ago, bore ‘personal responsibility’ for not having foreseen the danger that the Phalangists would commit the slaughter. He was forced to give up the defence portfolio, something that did not prevent him from being elected as premier in 2001 and re-elected in 2003. Lebanon, for its part, has never seriously investigated the massacre…”

–Ben Lynfield, The Independent, November 17, 2008

Posted in Analysis, Blogroll, Culture, History, News | Leave a Comment »

Israel Opens Gaza Border; Rahm Emanuel Apologizes for Father’s Remarks

Posted by uscsjp on November 15, 2008

Israel Briefly Opens Gaza Border Crossing

“Israel temporarily opened a border crossing with Gaza today to allow a limited supply of humanitarian aid to reach the territory. Thirty trucks, including eleven from the United Nations, were allowed to travel into Gaza. On Friday, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency announced it had run out of food and was unable to replenish storage facilities because of the Israeli blockade. The UN provides food aid to 750,000 Palestinians. Israel says the blockade is needed because Palestinian militants continue to fire rockets at nearby Israeli towns.”

–Democracy Now, Nov 17, 2008

Obama aide apologises to US-Arabs

“Benjamin Emanuel told an Israeli newspaper that his son, who is Jewish, would ‘obviously influence the president to be pro-Israel’. He also referred to Arabs in a way which a leading Arab-American group called an ‘unacceptable smear’. A spokesman for Rahm Emanuel said he had called the group to apologise.

Mr Emanuel also offered to meet members of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. In the interview last week with the Israeli daily newspaper Ma’ariv, Israeli-born Benjamin Emanuel talked about his son’s new job.

Anger at remarks

He said: ‘Obviously he’ll influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn’t he? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to be mopping floors at the White House’…”

–BBC, Nov 14, 2008

See also:

Rahm Emanuel Apologizes for Paternal Insult of Arabs

“Exactly 48 years ago in Atlantic City (on Nov. 16, 1960), Rabbi Bernard Bergman, president of the Religious Zionists of America, made a plea to President-elect John F. Kennedy: Time to get the Israelis and the Arabs together for some peace negotiating. Not a bad idea after two wars in 12 years. Specifically, the rabbi said, Kennedy, once president, should do everything in his power to get then-Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser to the same table. Bergman was addressing the annual National Convention of the Religious Zionists of America at the Chelsea Hotel in Atlantic City.

Wonderful sentiments and worthy aims, you might tell yourself. Especially in light of what we know happened in the intervening 48 years. Imagine if Kennedy had taken just such initiative. He didn’t. He wasn’t interested in the Middle East.

But wait. There was something more about those wonderful sentiments by the rabbi, once he got done with the obvious. According to an account in The New York Times, ‘Rabbi Bergman said the Arab countries would benefit from Israel’s great store of trained personnel if they abandoned their “foolhardy and nonsensical program of bestiality, venom and rancor toward Israel.” ‘

Was the rabbi kidding us? Bestiality? It gets worse…”

–Pierre Tristam, Guide to Middle East Issues, Nov 16, 2008

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

Mahmoud Darwish: The New Yorker and Other Tributes

Posted by uscsjp on August 25, 2008

A young Mahmoud Darwish in Cairo. (Al Akhbar)
“The Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish died Saturday from complications of major heart surgery, in Houston, Texas. Darwish, born in 1941, was also a newspaperman, an activist, and a drafter of the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence. Darwish spent much of his life in exile, but he remained stubbornly attached to his homeland. In his poetry, he used its landscape to describe the struggles of his people and his feelings on life, love, and death. Though a polyglot, he wrote in Arabic; his work quickly became popular, and has been translated into twenty languages. In 2000, the Israeli education minister proposed that Darwish be taught in schools, but Prime Minister Ehud Barak declared the country ‘not ready.’ If not then, perhaps now. In 2007, we published Darwish’s poem ‘Remainder of a Life,’ which begins: ‘If I were told: / By evening you will die, / so what will you do until then?” The poet lists a variety of tasks, some quotidian (bathing, shaving), some pleasurable (drinking wine, reading), all described with a rebellious glee. The poem ends:

Then I’d comb my hair and throw away the poem… this poem, in the trash, and put on the latest fashion in Italian shirts, parade myself in an entourage of Spanish violins, and walk to the grave!

That final exclamation point is a salute to an extraordinary life.”
–Jenna Krajeski, The New Yorker, August 11, 2008
See also:
Here the Birds’ Journey Ends
by Mahmoud Darwish English Translation Published in The New Yorker on August 25, 2008
More Darwish Tributes:
Mahmoud Darwish: Palestine’s prophet of humanism
Saifedean Ammous, The Electronic Intifada, 12 August 2008
A guest of eternity: Mahmoud Darwish in memoriam
Raymond Deane, The Electronic Intifada, 13 August 2008
The poetics of Palestinian resistance
As’ad AbuKhalil, The Electronic Intifada, 18 August 2008
Failing Darwish’s legacy Sumia Ibrahim, The Electronic Intifada, 19 August 2008
Farewell Mahmoud Darwish Sinan Antoon, Al-Ahram Weekly, 14 – 20 August 2008
…and finally, a piece from The Economist, which, in spite of some questionable statements, remains informative:
Obituary: Mahmoud Darwish Aug 21st 2008 From The Economist print edition

Posted in Culture, History, News, Opinion/Editorial | Leave a Comment »

Poets for Palestine Anthology Published

Posted by uscsjp on August 23, 2008

Poets For Palestine was published to unite a diverse range of poets, spoken word artists, and hip-hop artists who have used their words to elevate the consciousness of humanity. Sixty years after the dispossession of the Palestinian people, this anthology presents forty-eight poems alongside original works by Palestinian artists. All proceeds from the sale of this collection will go toward funding future cultural projects that highlight Arab artistry in the United States…”

Posted in Activism/Divestment, Culture | 1 Comment »