USC Students for Justice in Palestine

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

Archive for the ‘History’ 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 »

“Remembering the Nakba: Israeli group puts 1948 Palestine back on the map”

Posted by uscsjp on May 6, 2014

In a run-down office in the busy centre of Tel Aviv, a group of Israelis are finalising preparations for this year’s independence day holiday. But their conversation – switching between Arabic and Hebrew – centres not on celebrating the historic realisation of the Zionist dream in May 1948, but on the other side of the coin: the flight, expulsion and dispossession that Palestinians call their catastrophe – the Nakba.

Maps, leaflets and posters explain the work of Zochrot – Hebrew for “Remembering”. The organisation’s mission is to educate Israeli Jews about a history that has been obscured by enmity, propaganda and denial for much of the last 66 years.

Next week, Zochrot, whose activists include Jews and Palestinians, will connect the bitterly contested past with the hi-tech present. Its I-Nakba phone app will allow users to locate any Arab village that was abandoned during the 1948 war on an interactive map, learn about its history (including, in many cases, the Jewish presence that replaced it), and add photos, comments and data.

It is all part of a highly political and inevitably controversial effort to undo the decades-long erasure of landscape and memory – and, so the hope goes, to build a better future for the two peoples who share a divided land.

“There is an app for everything these days, and this one will show all the places that have been wiped off the map,” explains Raneen Jeries, Zochrot’s media director. “It means that Palestinians in Ein Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon, say, can follow what happened to the village in Galilee that their family came from – and they will get a notification every time there’s an update. Its amazing.”

In a conflict famous for its irreconcilable national narratives, the basic facts are not disputed, though the figures are. Between November 1947, when the UN voted to partition British-ruled Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states, and mid-1949, when Israel emerged victorious against its enemies, 400-500 Arab villages and towns were depopulated and destroyed or occupied and renamed. Most of them were left in ruins.

Understanding has deepened since the late 1980s, when Israeli historians used newly opened state archives to revisit that fateful period. Key elements of this new history contradicted the old, official version and partially confirmed what Palestinians had always claimed – that many were expelled by Israeli forces rather than fled at the urging of Arab leaders.

Fierce debate still rages over whether this was done on an ad hoc basis by local military commanders or according to a masterplan for ethnic cleansing. The result either way was disastrous.

Zochrot’s focus on the hyper-sensitive question of the 750,000 Palestinians who became refugees has earned it the hostility of the vast majority of Israeli Jews who flatly reject any Palestinian right of return. Allowing these refugees – now, with their descendants, numbering seven million people – to return to Jaffa, Haifa or Acre, the argument goes, would destroy the Jewish majority, the raison d’etre of the Zionist project. (Israelis often also suggest an equivalence with the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees who lost homes and property after 1948 in Arab countries such as Iraq and Morocco – although their departure was encouraged and facilitated by the young state in the 1950s.)

“There are a lot of Israeli organisations that deal with the occupation of 1967, but Zochrot is the only one that is dealing with 1948,” said Liat Rosenberg, the NGO’s director. “It’s true that our influence is more or less negligible but nowadays there is no Israeli who does not at least know the word Nakba. It’s entered the Hebrew language, and that’s progress.”

Rosenberg and colleagues hold courses and prepare learning resources for teachers, skirting around attempts to outlaw any kind of Nakba commemoration. But the heart of Zochrot’s work is regular guided tours that are designed, like the gimmicky iPhone app, to put Palestine back on the map and to prepare the ground for the refugees’ return.

On a recent Saturday morning, a couple of dozen Jews and Arabs met at a petrol station on the southern outskirts of Jerusalem and followed a dirt track to al-Walaja, a village of 2,000 inhabitants that was attacked and depopulated in 1948. Zochrot’s Omar al-Ghubari pointed out the concrete foundations – all that remains – of a school and marked the spot with a metal sign in Arabic, Hebrew and English, before posing for photographs.

Among those following him was Shireen al-Araj, whose father was born in al-Walaja and fled to Beit Jallah across what until 1967 was the armistice line with Jordan. “I have never given up the idea of going back to al-Walaja,” she said. Araj is campaigning against the extension of the West Bank separation wall, part of what she and many Palestinians call a continuing Nakba.

Another participant was Tarik Ramahi, an American surgeon raised in Saudi Arabia by Palestinian refugee parents. Marina, a Jewish social worker, came with her boyfriend Tomer, an IT student. Wandering among the ruins, these unconventional daytrippers attracted some curious glances from Israelis picnicking on the terraces or bathing in the village spring – now named for a Jewish teenager murdered by Palestinians in the 1990s. Claire Oren, a teacher, had a heated argument with two off-duty soldiers who were unaware of al-Walaja’s past – or even of the extent of Israel’s continuing control of the West Bank.

Nearby Ein Karem – Zochrot’s most popular tour – is a different story. Abandoned by the Palestinians in July 1948 (it is near Deir Yassin, the scene of the period’s most notorious massacre), it boasts churches, a mosque and fine stone houses clustered around a valley that is choked with wild flowers in the spring. Its first post-war residents were poor Moroccan Jewish immigrants, but it was intensively gentrified in the 1970s and is now one of west Jerusalem’s most desirable neighbourhoods.

In 1967, Shlomo Abulafia, now a retired agronomist, moved into a two-room hovel that he and his wife, Meira, have transformed beyond recognition into a gracious Arab-style home set in a charming garden. Relatives of the original owners once visited from Jordan. Like other Israeli Jews who yearn for coexistence with the Palestinians, Abulafia believes it is vital to understand how the other side feels. He worries desperately about the future of his fractured homeland and about his children and grandchildren.

“The Nakba is history for us but a catastrophe for them,” he says. “What have we got to lose from recognising the Palestinians’ suffering? The two sides are moving further and further away from each other. People live in fear. There is a lot of denial here.”

Many other Arab villages disappeared without trace under kibbutz fields and orchards, city suburbs or forests planted by the Jewish National Fund. Arab Isdud became Israeli Ashdod. Saffuriya in Galilee is now Zippori, the town’s Hebrew name before the Arab conquest in the seventh century.

Zochrot’s bilingual guide book identifies traces of Arab Palestine all over the country – fragments of stone wall, clumps of prickly pears that served as fences, or the neglected tombs of Muslim holy men. The faculty club of Tel Aviv University used to be the finest house in Sheikh Muwannis, once on the northern edge of the expanding Jewish city. Nothing else is left. Manshiyeh, a suburb of Jaffa, lies beneath the seaside Charles Clore promenade.

Palestinians have long mourned their lost land, eulogising it – and in recent years documenting it – with obsessive care. Politically, the right of return remains a totemic demand even if PLO leaders have often said privately that they do not expect it to be implemented – except for symbolic numbers – if an independent Palestinian state is created alongside Israel and Jewish settlers uprooted from its territory. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, provoked uproar in 2012 when he said he would not expect to be able to return to his home town of Safed.

Older Israeli Jews like Meron Benvenisti, raised in British-ruled Palestine during the 1930s, have written nostalgically about the forgotten landscapes of their childhood.

“I also identify with the images of the destroyed villages,” said Danny Rubinstein, a Jerusalem-born author and journalist. “I do understand the Palestinians’ longing and I empathise with it. But I think that Zochrot is a mistake. The Palestinians know, or their leadership knows, that they have to forget Ramle and Lod and Jaffa. Abbas says he can’t go back to Safed. They have to give up the return as a national goal. If I was a Palestinian politician I would say that you don’t have to remember. You have to forget.”

Hopes for a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians are fading after the collapse of the latest US-brokered effort, and mutual empathy and understanding are in short supply. But Claire Oren, resting in a shady grove in what was once the centre of al-Walaja, thinks more knowledge might help. “Even if only one Israeli becomes a bit more aware of the Nakba and the Palestinian refugees, it is important,” she reflected. “The more Israelis who understand, the more likely we are to be able to prevent another catastrophe in this land.”


–Ian Black in Tel Aviv, The Guardian, May 2, 2014

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

” We must never forget the massacre in Deir Yassin”

Posted by uscsjp on April 16, 2013

All the flags, banners and stars in the world, all the inconvenient truths, dehumanizing myths of exceptionalism and litany of crimes, will never succeed in drowning out the truth or erasing the memories.

Transcribing the vivid details of the account engraved into the fabric of her memory, I am transfixed by all that she’s held onto for 65 years. From paper to pulse, I write the story buried deep in her consciousness to affirm her truth. Without her, it never would be written at all.

I study the lines on my grandmother’s face knowing behind every one there is a timeless story of unmitigated pain, survival and hope. This story, where the continued dispossession, suffering and oppression of the Palestinian people began, is one that refuses to be silenced or forgotten. It is the story of Deir Yassin.

Remember the date: Friday, 9 April 1948, a day of infamy in Palestinian history. My grandmother was nine years old at the time of the Deir Yassin massacre and every day since she has lived with a steadfast commitment to never forget.


Thursday, 8 April, ended like any other in the small, quiet village. My grandmother and her younger sister returned home from school to complete their composition assignment entitled Asri’ (meaning “to hurry” in Arabic). She recounts that detail animatedly. Like other children their age, she wanted to complete the assignment in order to enjoy the next day off.

The excitement, however, was short-lived. I can’t help but think of the irony in the assignment’s title. Asri’ — it’s almost as though it were a premonition of sorts.

The following day, entire families ran hurriedly in sheer terror, fleeing the only homes they had ever known to escape a bloodbath. By dawn on that Friday morning, life as they had known it would never be the same again. Deir Yassin would never be the same again.

Fathers, grandfathers, brothers and sons were lined up against a wall and sprayed with bullets, execution style. Beloved teachers were savagely mutilated with knives. Mothers and sisters were taken hostage and those who survived returned to find pools of blood filling the streets of the village and children stripped of their childhoods overnight.

The walls of homes, which once stood witness to warmth, laughter and joy, were splattered with the blood and imprints of traumatic memories. My grandmother lost 37 members of her family that day. These are not stories you will read about in most history books.

Bitter symbol

The Deir Yassin massacre was not the largest-scale massacre, nor was it the most gruesome. The atrocities committed, the scale of violence and the complexity of the methods and insidious weaponry used by Israel against civilians in the recent decade have been far more sadistic and pernicious. But Deir Yassin marks one of the most critical turning points in Palestinian history.

A bitter symbol carved in the fiber of the Palestinian being and narrative, it resonates sharply as the event that catalyzed our ongoing Nakba (catastrophe), marked by the forced exile of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, creating the largest refugee population worldwide with more than half living in the diaspora.

Deir Yassin is a caustic reminder of the ongoing suffering, struggle and systematic genocide of the Palestinian people, 65 years and counting. When the village was terrorized into fleeing, tumultuous shockwaves of terror ran through Palestine, laying the blueprint for the architecture of today’s apartheid Israel.

Sacred ground

The authors great-uncle, Muhammad Radwan, outside of the family home in Deir Yassin.

I have been fortunate enough to see Deir Yassin and step foot on its sacred ground. Deir Yassin remains a permanently cemented and rigorous reminder of the spirit that has never permitted defeat. Despite the illegal settlements, pillaging, plundering and human suffering that took place, my grandmother’s home stands with resolve just as she does today.

The silence of her home and the original stones laid by my great-grandfather’s hands remain haunting reminders of life that once existed behind the cold facade. Standing outside her home I studied the horizon intently and found solace, irrespective of the large wooden Star of David hanging on the window. This scathing and unholy reminder of the ethnic cleansing that took place there could never conceal the insult, injury and history it attempts to erase.

In fact, it is a reminder of the inflicted wounds that remain open and the memory that remains very much alive. All the flags, banners and stars in the world, all the inconvenient truths, dehumanizing myths of exceptionalism and litany of crimes, will never succeed in drowning out the truth or erasing the memories.

My grandmother is an intrepid survivor and living proof that neither the old nor the young will forget. She and survivors like her endure with a steadfastness that will live long after they’re gone. Their narratives may not be recorded in our history books but they have left indelible impressions that will remain inscribed in our hearts and minds.

The narratives of these survivors will continue to run through the veins of every Palestinian child who carries them in their blood. And so long as our hearts beat, the eloquent symbols of Palestinian life — resistance, resilience and hope — will continue to run strong. No amount of fear-mongering, lip service or pontificating will ever keep these narratives of resistance from circulating, because becoming comfortable with our own silence and anesthetizing our minds to all that has passed will never be options.

After all, we are the children of generations of strength. Our grandparents and parents are refugees and survivors, and the blood of Deir Yassin courses through our veins. We are like the olive tree with its tenacious roots in the ground, remaining unshakable and determined to stand its ground with patience and a deeply-rooted desire to remain.

We will see a free and just Palestine because we will have a hand in making it so. Deir Yassin may have catalyzed our catastrophe but 65 years later it also continues to catalyze our devotion and enduring love for a people, a cause and a home that will never be relinquished or forgotten.

All images courtesy of Dina Elmuti.

Dina Elmuti is a social worker researching the impacts of chronic traumatic stress and violence on the physical, mental and pyschosocial health of children in Chicago and Palestine.

–The Electronic Intifada, 8 April, 2013

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

Massad: Arab “Awakening” A Fiction

Posted by uscsjp on November 19, 2011

New York, New York – The current popular challenges to the Western-sponsored Arab dictatorships are hardly a new occurrence in modern Arab history. We have seen such uprisings against European colonialism in the region since its advent in Algeria in 1830 and in Egypt in 1882. Revolts in Syria in the 1920s against French rule and especially in Palestine from 1936 to 1939 against British colonial rule and Zionist settler-colonialism were massive by global standards. Indeed the Palestinian Revolt would inspire others in the colonised world and would remain an inspiration to Arabs for the rest of the century and beyond. Anti-colonial resistance which also opposed the colonially-installed Arab regimes continued in Jordan, in Egypt, in Bahrain, Iraq, North and South Yemen, Oman, Morocco, and Sudan. The massive anti-colonial revolt in Algeria would finally bring about independence in 1962 from French settler colonialism. The liberation of Algeria meant that one of the two European settler-colonies in the Arab world was down, and only one remained: Palestine. On the territorial colonial front, much of the Arabian Gulf remained occupied by the British until the 1960s and early 1970s, and awaited liberation.

After the 1967 War

Amidst the dominant melancholia that struck the Arab world following the 1967 defeat by Israel’s simultaneous invasions of three Arab countries and the occupation of their territories and the entirety of Palestine, the Palestinian revolutionary guerrillas’ challenge to Israel’s colonial power at the Battle of Karamah in March 1968 brought renewed hope to tens of millions of Arabs and renewed concern for the Arab neo-colonial dictatorships (Arafat’s much exaggerated role of his exploits during the battle notwithstanding). The Palestinian revolution was inspirational to many but it also coincided with revolutionary efforts not only around the Third World generally but also in Arab countries as well, which in turn, had inspired the Palestinians.

The best revolutionary anti-colonial news in the Arab world after the June 1967 defeat would come from the Arabian Peninsula. It was in November 1967 that the South Yemeni revolutionaries delivered an ignominious defeat to the British and liberated their country from the yoke of colonial Britain, which had ruled Aden since 1838. The South Yemenis would soon found the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, which would last for 22 years before its ultimate dissolution by North Yemen and its Saudi allies.

In neighbouring Oman, the on-going struggle to liberate the country entered a new stage of guerrilla warfare under the leadership of the People’s Front for the Liberation of Oman and the Arabian Gulf (PFLOAG), which came together in September 1968 as a result of the unification of a number of Omani guerrilla groups fighting the British-supported Sultan Said bin Taymur. The PFLOAG had liberated territory in Dhofar from which it continued to launch its attacks to liberate the rest of the country. Indeed national liberation movements were active across the Gulf, and not least in Bahrain where an on-going national liberation struggle, a workers’ movement, students and women’s activism, all coalesced against British colonial rule and their local servants.


But the US-British-Saudi-Israeli alliance was determined to crush all the revolutionary groups that it could defeat and co-opt those that it could not crush. The effort started in the Gulf. Bahrain, which had been the hotbed of workers and anti-colonial unrest for decades, continued its struggle against British domination and the Bahraini ruling family allied with British colonialism. But as the British were forced out of South Yemen and the threat to their Omani client continued afoot, they transferred their military command to Bahrain, a step that was followed  by massive British capital investment in the country (as well as in Dubai). These developments expectedly brought more repression against the Bahraini people and their national liberation movement. Indeed, it was in this context that the Shah of Iran laid territorial claims to Bahrain and threatened to annex it to Iran as its “fourteenth province.” His territorial ambitions would only be tempered by his Western allies and the United Nations in 1970, after which the Shah would give up on his claims in return for massive Iranian capital investment in the emerging small Arab states of the Gulf, including the United Arab Emirates. The West thanked the Shah for his magnanimity and continued to reward him diplomatically and politically.

On the Jordanian front, King Hussein’s army would reverse the Palestinian guerrillas’ triumphs and defeat them in a massive onslaught in September 1970. The PLO guerrillas would finally be expelled from the country completely in July 1971. However, the PLO guerrillas continued to have a strong base in Lebanon from which they continued to operate against Israel and the Arab dictatorships.

In Sudan, the communist party continued to get stronger in the late 1960s, until the 1969 coup by Ja’far al-Numeiri, who initially could not fully marginalise the communists and waited until he strengthened his regime in 1971 to do so. An attempted coup against his authoritarian rule failed. In its wake, he rounded up thousands of communists and executed all the party’s major leaders, destroying the largest communist party in the Arab world. The Numeiri dictatorship would continue until 1985 and soon the democratic struggle against him would fail bringing in the Saudi-supported candidate Omar al-Bashir who seized power in 1989 continuing in Numeiri’s footsteps.

Only the PFLOAG kept advancing in the early seventies, which required a massive effort on the part of the US-British-Saudi-Israeli alliance to defeat it. The Shah of Iran and the Jordanian King were subcontracted for the effort. They dispatched military contingents to Oman, and, abetted by British advisors, were finally able to defeat the guerrillas and safeguard the throne for Sultan Qabus, the son of Sultan Said, who overthrew his father in a palace coup in 1970 organised by the British.  With the final defeat of the Omani revolutionaries in 1976, the PLO remained the only revolutionary group that survived the onslaught alongside a poor and weak South Yemen, which would finally be swallowed up by the Saudi-supported North Yemen in 1990.


Saudi and other Gulf money poured into the coffers of the PLO to make sure that Palestinian revolutionism, which was partially crushed in Jordan, would never turn its guns against another Arab regime again. Indeed, Gulf money would transform the PLO into a liberation group that was funded by the most reactionary regimes in the Third World. Arafat’s road to Oslo began after the 1973 war and the massive funding he would begin to receive from all oil-rich Arab dictatorships, from Gaddafi to Saddam Hussein and all the Gulf monarchies. It was this domestication of the PLO that impelled Arab regimes to recognise it in 1974 as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and the main reason why they supported its recognition by the UN that same year. Indeed, Arafat’s reactionary alliance with Arab dictators was such that some PLO intelligence apparatuses began to share intelligence on Arab dissidents with Arab dictators, including the PLO intelligence apparatus led by Abu Za’im who surrendered Saudi dissident Nasir Sa’id in December 1979 to Saudi intelligence based on the request of the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon. Said was never heard from again and is believed to have been killed by the Saudi authorities. On the diplomatic and solidarity front, while the Polisario front declared the independence of the Western Sahara in 1976, Arafat refused to recognise the state out of respect for his alliance with King Hassan II.

The New Uprisings

As the Palestinian revolutionary groups were the only ones not fully domesticated, as far as the US and other imperial powers were concerned, though they had become sufficiently domesticated from the perspective of the Arab regimes, the new challenge would come from the Palestinian people themselves who revolted in 1987 against their Israeli occupiers. It was this second Palestinian major revolt in half a century, which many now see as inspirational to the present uprisings across the Arab world, which had to be crushed. The Israelis tried their best to crush it but failed. The PLO took it over quickly lest a new Palestinian leadership supplant the PLO’s own authority to represent the Palestinians. As the PLO took over the intifada, efforts were made by the Israelis and the Americans to finally co-opt the PLO and neutralise its potential as a spoiler of US and Israeli policy in the region. It was in this context that Oslo was signed and the PLO was fully transformed from a threat to Arab dictatorships, their US imperial sponsor, and the Israeli occupation, into an agent of all three, under the guise of the Palestinian Authority, which would help enforce the Israeli occupation in an unholy alliance with Gulf dictators and the United States. From then on, PLO/PA guns will only target the Palestinian people.

The US-British-Saudi-Israeli alliance in the region today is following the same strategies they followed in late 1960s and early 1970s and continuing the strategy they followed with the PLO in the early 1990s. They are crushing those uprisings they can crush and are co-opting those they cannot. The efforts to fully co-opt the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings have made great strides over the last few months, though they have not been successful in silencing or demobilising the populations. On the other side, Bahrain’s uprising was the first to be crushed with the efforts to crush the Yemenis continuing afoot without respite. It was in Libya and in Syria where the axis fully hijacked the revolts and took them over completely. While Syrians, like Libyans before them, continue their valiant uprising against their brutal regime demanding democracy and social justice, their quest is already doomed unless they are able to dislodge the US-British-Saudi-Qatari axis that has fully taken over their struggle – which is very unlikely.

The Palestinians

This brings us to the Palestinian scene. The Palestinian uprising or intifada of 1987 was the first unarmed massive civilian revolt to take place in decades. It was in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union and the first US invasion of the Gulf that the United States decided to co-opt the Palestinian uprising by giving political and financial benefits to a PLO class of bureaucrats who would proceed to sell out the Palestinian struggle. Thus Arafat neutralised the uprising at Oslo in 1993 and went on to wine and dine with Israel’s and America’s leaders while his people remained under occupation.

But If the Palestinians were a source of concern to the Arab regimes after 1968 lest they help other Arabs revolt against their dictatorships, today, it is the Palestinian Authority (PA) that is worried that the Arab uprisings may influence West Bank Palestinians to revolt against the PA, which continues its intensive security collaboration with the Israeli occupation and its US sponsor. Indeed, while the Israelis failed in the late 1970s in their effort to create a political body of Palestinian collaborators through their infamous Village Leagues, the PA became, not the new “Urban Leagues” that many Palestinians dubbed it, but a veritable National League of collaborators serving the Israeli occupation. The PA’s recent bid for statehood and recognition at the UN and at UNESCO is an attempt to resolve the current stasis of its non-existent “peace process” and the dogged negotiations with the Israelis before the Palestinians revolt against it, especially given the dwindling dividends to the beneficiaries of the Oslo arrangement.

The PA indeed has two routes before it in the face of the collapse of the so-called “peace process”: dissolve itself and cease to play the role of enforcer of the occupation; or continue to collaborate by entrenching itself further through recognition by international institutions to preserve its power and the benefits to its members. It has chosen the second option under the guise of supporting Palestinian national independence. How successful it is going to be in its entrenchment bid remains to be seen, though its success or failure will be calamitous for the Palestinian people who will not get any independence from Israeli settler colonialism as long as the PA is at the helm.

As I have argued before, the Israeli-PA-US disagreement is about the terms and territorial size of the disconnected Bantustans that the PA will be given and the nature and amount of repressive power and weapons its police force would have to use against the Palestinian people, while ascertaining that such weapons would never have a chance of being used against Israel.  If Israel shows some flexibility on those, then the disconnected Bantustans will be quickly recognised as a “sovereign Palestinian state” and not a single illegal Jewish colonial settler will have to give up the stolen lands of the Palestinians and return to Brooklyn, to name a common place of origin for many Jewish colonial settlers. It is this arrangement that the PA is trying to sell to Israel and the US. Without it, the PA is threatening that West Bankers may very well revolt against it, which would be bad for Israel and the US. So far, neither the US nor Israel is buying it.

The Struggle Continues

As for the larger Arab context, those who call what has unfolded in the last year in the Arab World as an Arab “awakening” are not only ignorant of the history of the last century, but also deploy Orientalist arguments in their depiction of Arabs as a quiescent people who put up with dictatorship for decades and are finally waking up from their torpor. Across the Arab world, Arabs have revolted against colonial and local tyranny every decade since World War I. It has been the European colonial powers and their American heir who have stood in their way every step of the way and allied themselves with local dictators and their families (and in many cases handpicking such dictators and putting them on the throne).

The US-European sponsorship of the on-going counterrevolutions across the Arab world today is a continuation of a time-honoured imperial tradition, but so is continued Arab resistance to imperialism and domestic tyranny. The uprisings that started in Tunisia in December 2010 continue afoot despite major setbacks to all of them. This is not to say that things have not changed and are not changing significantly, it is to say, however, that many of the changes are reversible and that the counterrevolution has already reversed a significant amount and is working hard to reverse more. Vigilance is mandatory on the part of those struggling for democratic change and social justice, especially in these times of upheaval and massive imperial mobilisation. Some of the battles may have been lost but the Arab peoples’ war against imperialism and for democracy and social justice continues across the Arab world.

Joseph Massad is Associate Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University. He is author of several books including: The Persistence of the Palestinian Question (Routledge, 2006) andDesiring Arabs (Chicago University Press, 2007), and Colonial Effects (Colomibia University Press, 2011).


–Al Jazeera English, 18 November, 2011

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

Norman Finkelstein At USC, Thursday, March 11th

Posted by uscsjp on March 1, 2010

Also, details for March 4th:


March 4, 2010 @ 3:00pm Pershing Square
532 South Olive Street Los Angeles, CA 90013

Come rally with the International Socialist Organization of Los Angeles as we join educators, students, parents, and community members in denouncing the budget cuts, fee hikes, school closures, service cuts, and school takeovers by corporate charter privatizers!

Schedule — Los Angeles Regional Rally
• 3 pm Rally @ Pershing Square (5th & Hill) in downtown L.A.
• 4 pm March from Pershing Square to the Governor’s office
• 5 pm Rally @ Governor’s office (300 Spring St.)

Posted in Activism/Divestment, History | 1 Comment »

“Jews from Libya” and other Upcoming Events at UCLA

Posted by uscsjp on November 30, 2009

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Jews from Libya: Cross-currents and Concretizations of Identity in Israel Today

A lecture by Professor Harvey E. Goldberg, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


The Goldstone Report & Int’l Law – Part 2: David Kaye, UCLA Law School

David Kaye, UCLA Law School Professor and Executive Director of the International Human Rights Program, will speak on “International Justice & the Goldstone Report.” This is the 2nd event of a 3-part lecture series titled, “The Goldstone Report and International Law” Three Perspectives”
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM


See also:

Palestinians organize for the Gaza Freedom March

“‘From the besieged Gaza Strip, we call upon all peace lovers around the globe to come here to participate in our Gaza Freedom March that is aimed at breaking a repressive Israeli blockade on Gaza’s 1.5 million residents.’ So said Mustafa al-Kayali, coordinator of the steering committee for the Gaza Freedom March.

The march is scheduled to depart by 31 December from Izbet Abed Rabbo, an area devastated during last winter’s Israeli assault, and head towards Erez, the crossing point to Israel at the northern end of the Gaza Strip…”


Rami Almeghari, The Electronic Intifada, 30 November 2009


Also from The Electronic Intifada:

“We will have to kill them all”: Effie Eitam, thug messiah

“Colonel Efraim (Fein) Eitam was only following orders when he told his troops to beat Ayyad Aqel in 1988. They beat him to death…”


Jim Holstun and Irene Morrison, The Electronic Intifada, 25 November 2009


And finally, in general US Foreign Policy Activism:


On Tuesday, December 1st, President Obama will travel to the U.S. Military Academy to announce plans to expand the war against and occupation of Afghanistan through a 34,000 troop surge.  World Can’t Wait calls on people to unite against any troop escalation, to demand all troops home now, and to organize events protesting this escalation. The only resolution of this conflict that is in the interests of the people of Afghanistan and the world, including the people of the U.S., is for the U.S. to get out of Afghanistan, and to end the occupation of Iraq also.

The only resolution in the interests of the people of Afghanistan and the world, including the people of the U.S., is to get out of Afghanistan and end the occupation of Iraq.

In Los Angeles, on Wednesday December 2nd two opportunities to take message of US Out of Afghanistan and Iraq.

In Westwood: 5:00 p.m. join with other activists (including Answer LA and Code Pink) and take a bold and visible stand at the Westwood Federal Building, 11000 Wilshire Blvd @Veteran Blvd.

In MacArthur Park 6:00 p.m. corner of Wilshire and Alvarado Blvd (MacArthur Park) escort World Peace March team for one mile along Wilshire Blvd to Immanuel Presbyterian Church at Berendo Street. (Metro Red LIne exit at MacArthur Park)

7:00 p.m. World March Peace Concert – Immanuel Presbyterian Church at Wilshire & Berendo Streets. (Metro Red Line exit at Vermont )




Posted in Activism/Divestment, Analysis, History | Leave a Comment »

Al Jazeera: Gaza children shatter world record

Posted by uscsjp on July 31, 2009

The event is part of a UN-sponsored programme set up for students during their academic break (Al Jazeera)

The event is part of a UN-sponsored programme set up for students during their academic break (Al Jazeera)

“It was an unlikely place to shatter a world record, but the beaches of the Gaza Strip were the venue for thousands of Palestinian children who flew the largest number of kites simultaneously from the same place.

The record that once stood at 713 has been broken, thanks to the efforts of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and about 6,000 kite-flying children.

The event is part of the Summer Games programme run by UNRWA – an activities and curricular programme set up for students during their break from the academic school year.

More than half of Gaza’s 1.5 million people are under the age of 18 – so there is no shortage of potential record-breakers…”

–Ayman Mohyeldin, Al Jazeera English, 30 July, 2009

See also:

Did the PLO die in Lebanon?

Some feel the unity of the resistance faltered once Arafat left Lebanon in 1982 [GALLO/GETTY]Some feel the unity of the resistance faltered once Arafat left Lebanon in 1982 [GALLO/GETTY]

“‘We have to fight the Israelis any place we can,’ says Mahmoud Taha. In 1972 he left his job as an electronics repairman in Saudi Arabia to join the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) in Lebanon.

‘We brought the war to Lebanon,’ Taha, who today lives in the Bourj el Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp in southern Beirut, told Al Jazeera.

‘But I did not think for one day the war was against the Lebanese. We were obliged to fight the war inside Lebanon, but we didn’t want it.’

Others, however, might disagree.

The role the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) – of which the DFLP is a part – played in the Lebanese Civil War is highly politicised. The accounts and reports of the events that happened are always incomplete, and often contradictory, depending on the personal interests and political affiliations of those recounting them.

What remains indisputable, however, is that by the time the war ended in 1991, hundreds of thousands of people had been killed, the vast majority of them civilians.

The PLO was an essential party to this tragedy…”

–Spencer Osberg, Al Jazeera English, 28 July, 2009

And Also

Israel defends Gaza war

“The Israeli government has said that its war on the Gaza Strip earlier this year, that left up to 1,417 Palestinians dead, was ‘necessary and proportionate’.

The government also said on Thursday that it was investigating about 100 complaints of misconduct by its forces during the three week war that began on December 27.

‘Israel had both a right and an obligation to take military action against Hamas in Gaza to stop Hamas’s almost incessant rocket and mortar attacks,’ the report published by the foreign ministry said…”

Al Jazeera English, 31 July, 2009

And finally, from CounterPunch

The True Height of Insecurity

“The War is With the Arabs”


I saw this sign as I was entering Nablus last week, again on my way to Ramallah, and again near Bethlehem.  The phrase is printed in Hebrew, presumably by Israeli settlers, on huge signs throughout the West Bank.  Israeli racism rarely shocks me anymore, but its blatant display still makes me stop and catch my breath as I translate it into other contexts.  Imagine driving through the middle of a predominantly black neighborhood in a US city or town and seeing a enormous sign that says, ‘The war is with the Blacks’…”

–Hannah Mermelstein, CounterPunch, 24-26 July, 2009

The Broken Dreams of Wada Cortas

Memoirs of a Lost Arab World


‘It was a trying time for dreamers,’ Wadad Makdisi Cortas wrote of the year 1935. She was 26 and ‘yearned to speak my language, to read Arabic books, and to foster Arab independence and solidarity.’ But she had just become the headmistress of a girls’ school in Lebanon that was a particular thorn in the side of the French colonial rulers.

As in their other colonies, the French imposed their language, insisting that the students at the Ahliah National School for Girls not only be taught in French but also use it at recess. ‘Students who insisted on speaking Arabic were to be singled out, and those who persisted were to be given detention,’ Cortas recalled. (Of course, as history marched on, English won the battle to become the global lingua franca.)

Cortas’ memoirs span the 20th Century: She was born in 1909 and died in 1979. She writes beautifully, with dry humor and with sadness, of living and travelling in a Middle East without borders and of the agony inflicted as frontiers were carved into a soil alive with friendships and family ties — agonies that continue to this day…”

–Nadia Hijab, 22July, 2009

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

Iran and Palestine

Posted by uscsjp on June 24, 2009

CNN and other Western media outlets have aired unverified material obtained from websites like Facebook and YouTube in their non-stop coverage of demonstrations in Iran--courtesy EI

CNN and other Western media outlets have aired "unverified material" obtained from websites like Facebook and YouTube in their non-stop coverage of demonstrations in Iran (image courtesy EI)

The Western media and Iran

“Protestors, anywhere in the world, are extremely brave individuals whose reasons for demonstrating openly should be listened to and respected. Protest is democracy at work. However, too often, US and other Western-based media pick and choose which protests to cover and which to ignore completely.

The US media often celebrate themselves as the ‘freest and fairest’ in the world, completely independent of a state unlike, for example, the media in Iran. Yet, an astute observer will notice that the US media generally choose stories and cover them in a way that play directly into the US’s global agenda.

Who decides whether or not a particular issue is ‘newsworthy?’ One would think that this is the role of the media, to cover issues like conflict or rights abuses as they happen around the world. Although, it seems this isn’t the case. Most Western media appear to follow their government’s lead when focusing on different issues and then cover them in a way fitting with the government’s position, hence the complete domination of events in Iran in nearly every single Western media outlet and the overwhelmingly positive portrayal of the protestors and the opposition as just. The current case of Iran makes it clear that it is governments who are directing the media’s coverage, instead of the actual news organizations themselves.

There was also a noticeable shift in the US media’s coverage of foreign affairs after the attacks of 11 September 2001…”

Matthew Cassel, The Electronic Intifada, 23 June 2009

Check out the Latest News and Current Campaigns from Jewish Voice for Peace

In the last 24 hours, we’ve learned that a dangerous pattern has emerged at YouTube. They have censored not just one, but at least two controversial but important videos that reveal the kind of hardcore racism, Islamophobia and Arab-hatred that exists in our Jewish community both among Americans and Israelis, hatred which must be unearthed in order to be countered…”

–Jewish Voice for Peace

See Also The Following Op-Ed from The New York Times:

Fictions on the Ground

“I am old enough to remember when Israeli kibbutzim looked like settlements (‘a small village or collection of houses’ or ‘the act of peopling or colonizing a new country,’ Oxford English Dictionary).

In the early 1960s, I spent time on Kibbutz Hakuk, a small community founded by the Palmah unit of the Haganah, the pre-state Jewish militia. Begun in 1945, Hakuk was just 18 years old when I first saw it, and was still raw at the edges. The few dozen families living there had built themselves a dining hall, farm sheds, homes and a ‘baby house’ where the children were cared for during the workday. But where the residential buildings ended there were nothing but rock-covered hillsides and half-cleared fields.

The community’s members still dressed in blue work shirts, khaki shorts and triangular hats, consciously cultivating a pioneering image and ethos already at odds with the hectic urban atmosphere of Tel Aviv. Ours, they seemed to say to bright-eyed visitors and volunteers, is the real Israel; come and help us clear the boulders and grow bananas — and tell your friends in Europe and America to do likewise…”

–Tony Judt, The New York Times, 22 June, 2009

Finally, Don’t Miss this Upcoming Local Event:

Sunday, June 28, 2-4 PM
Peace Vigil to support President Obama’s efforts to freeze settlements and get a Palestinian state alongside Israel
Third Street Promenade at Santa Monica Blvd.
Sponsorede by Jews for Peace between Israelis and Palestinians (J-PIP)

Join Jews for Peace between Israelis and Palestinians (J- PIP) in a vigil to support President Obama’s goal of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As American Jews, we recognize that 42 years of occupation and ruling over 4 million Palestinians against their will, Has not given Israelis peace and security, and never will.
Israel and its people’s desire for peace and security can only be achieved, when the Palestinians also have peace and security in their own sovereign and viable state alongside Israel.
We call upon President Obama to do all in his power to ensure that this peace vision will be implemented as soon as possible.  First steps include:

  • Settlement expansion on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem halted.
  • Settlement outposts demolished.
  • Checkpoints and roadblocks that do not contribute to Israel’s security removed.
  • Gaza blockade lifted; and crossings open.
  • Harassment of Gaza fishermen ended
  • Rockets attack on Israeli civilians from Gaza stopped.

J PIP will supply pro-peace, nonviolent, non-defamatory signs
We welcome everyone who shares J-PIP’s vision of a sovereign and viable Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Support this important VIGIL.

Sponsored: Jews for Peace between Israelis and Palestinians (J-PIP)

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

Israel’s South Africa Moment and other Recent News

Posted by uscsjp on March 23, 2009

EUs approach: Israel suffers no consequences for its actions and the Palestinians are generously granted the right to barely survive. (Pepijn van Houwelingen, link to EI)

EU's approach: Israel suffers no consequences for its actions and the Palestinians are generously granted the right to barely survive. (Pepijn van Houwelingen, link to EI)

Our South Africa Moment has Arrived

As Israel shifts steadily to the fanatic, racist right, as the latest parliamentary election results have shown, Palestinians under its control are increasingly being brutalized by its escalating colonial and apartheid policies, designed to push them out of their homeland to make a self-fulfilling prophecy out of the old Zionist canard of ‘a land without a people.’ In parallel, international civil society, according to numerous indicators, is reaching a turning point in its view of Israel as a pariah state acting above the law of nations and in its effective action, accordingly, to penalize and ostracize it as it did to apartheid South Africa…”

–Omar Barghouti, The Electronic Intifada, 19 March, 2009

Euros do not buy the Palestinians political rights

The carnage of Israel’s recent invasion of Gaza spurred great numbers of dismayed Europeans to participate in demonstrations against the war. In major cities such as Madrid, Brussels, Rome, Berlin and London, tens of thousands took part in demonstrations to make clear to their governments that what was happening was unacceptable. Yet, their objections to Israel’s massive use of deadly force were not reflected in the declarations and actions of their countries, as represented by Europe’s most significant political body, the European Union, which did not alter its policy of status quo relations with Israel.

It is true that the EU did condemn Israel’s conduct (always mentioned in conjunction with Palestinian rocket fire) and called for an immediate ceasefire, something which the United States unsurprisingly fell short of. In addition, various members of the European Parliament expressed their outrage over the destruction of Gaza. British liberal-democrat Chris Davies, for example, said during a 14 January parliamentary debate that the war was ‘evil’ and that Israel had ‘turned Gaza into hell’ with its ’21st-century killing machines.’

Despite these and other remarks, however, the EU undertook no action that could have been perceived as even vaguely critical of Israel and much effort was put into not ‘singling out’ the country…”
Pepijn van Houwelingen, The Electronic Intifada, 23 March, 2009

Democracy Now!: Israel Promises Internal Probe After Soldiers Describe Civilian Killings, Lax Rules of Engagement in Gaza Attack

“JUAN GONZALEZ: The Israeli Military Advocate General has for the first time called for criminal inquiries into the conduct of Israeli troops in Gaza. The request came in response to soldiers’ testimonies that described loose rules of engagement, troops firing on unarmed civilians, and troops intentionally vandalizing property during the three-week assault on Gaza. The soldiers’ accounts are published in the Israeli daily Haaretz and based on statements made a month ago by graduates of the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military preparatory course.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel Radio that the incidents would be examined and added, quote, ‘We have the most moral army in the world.’

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now on the line from Gaza by Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass.

Amira, welcome to Democracy Now! The Haaretz newspaper describing this as a several day exposé, Israeli soldiers in their own words, talk about its significance.

AMIRA HASS: Its significance, of course, is that the soldiers actually confirm what Palestinians have been telling for the past three months, and journalists who listen to Palestinians and believe Palestinians and know their work of taking affidavits and testimonies from Palestinians have done so during the last three months. This is the main importance, because it’s—we don’t know the exact locations of this.

And it’s not the only—it’s not the only incident. Some Israelis might get the impression that the soldiers who spoke spoke about the only incident of killing civilians and of very lenient—lenient rules of engagement, and this is not true. The whole attack—the three weeks of attack were characterized by these attacks on—almost indiscriminate attacks on civilians, attacks on people who carried white flags, attacks on rescue teams, not to mention the attacks from the air at whole civilian neighborhoods.

So I would say that—of course, it was not my report. Haaretz did a great job at putting a lot of emphasis to this testimonies of soldiers. It drew attention to what many Israelis managed to ignore during the last three months…”

Democracy Now!, 20 March, 2009

See Also:

Palestinian Doctor, Peace Advocate Recounts Israeli Attack on Home that Killed 3 Daughters, Niece

Democracy Now!, 20 March, 2009

Corrie: Rachel, Tristan & Palestine

By Cindy Corrie and Craig Corrie

“We thank all who continue to remember Rachel and who, on this sixth anniversary of her stand in Gaza, renew their own commitments to human rights, justice and peace in the Middle East. The tributes and actions in her memory are a source of inspiration to us and to others.

Friday, 13 March, we learned of the tragic injury to American activist Tristan Anderson. Tristan was shot in the head with a tear gas canister in Nilin village in the West Bank when Israeli forces attacked a demonstration opposing the construction of the annexation wall through the village’s land. On the same day, a Nilin resident was shot in the leg with live ammunition. Four residents of Nilin have been killed in the past eight months as villagers and their supporters have courageously demonstrated against the Apartheid Wall deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice — a wall that will ultimately absorb one-quarter of the village’s remaining land.

Those who have died are 10-year-old child Ahmed Mousa, shot in the forehead with live ammunition on 29 July 2008; Yousef Amira (17), shot with rubber-coated steel bullets on 30 July 2008; Arafat Rateb Khawaje (22) and Mohammed Khawaje (20), both shot and killed with live ammunition on 8 December 2008. On this anniversary, Rachel would want us all to hold Tristan Anderson and his family and these Palestinians and their families in our thoughts and prayers, and we ask everyone to do so.

We are writing this message from Cairo where we returned after a visit to Gaza with the Code Pink delegation from the United States. Fifty-eight women and men successfully passed through Rafah crossing on Saturday, 7 March to challenge the border closures and siege and to celebrate International Women’s Day with the strong and courageous women of Gaza…”

–The Electronic Intifada, 17 March 2009

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

Gaza Death Toll Exceeds 850 While Propaganda “Bombardment” Continues

Posted by uscsjp on January 11, 2009

New York, US, 30 December 2008. (Anonymous; posted on the Electronic Intifada)

New York, US, 30 December 2008. (Anonymous; posted on The Electronic Intifada)

For more images of protest worldwide, see

Latest Update from Al Jazeera: “The Palestinian death toll in the Gaza Strip has risen to 854 and more than 3,650 injured as the Israeli offensive entered its third week…”

–Al Jazeera English, 11 January, 2009

Also from Al Jazeera: Global Protests Condemn Gaza War

The corpses of members of the al-Daya family are pulled from the rubble of their Gaza City home which was destroyed in an Israeli attack, 6 January 2009. (Mohamed al-Zanon/MaanImages, link by EI)

The corpses of members of the al-Daya family are pulled from the rubble of their Gaza City home which was destroyed in an Israeli attack, 6 January 2009. (Mohamed al-Zanon/MaanImages, posted on EI)

Is Israel Winning the ‘Media War’ over Gaza?

“…Israel never won the media war in the United States for, frankly, there was never one to begin with. Yet somehow, millions of people around the world managed to read through the filters, the propaganda, the perplexing logic, the Maxim cover pages, and took to the streets in a collective act of passion and dismay, without billion-dollar media crafters ‘tightly controlling’ their every move, scripting their chants or directing their hoarse voices: We are all Palestinians and ‘with our souls, with our blood, we will die for you Gaza’…”

–Ramzy Baroud, 9 January, 2009


See Also:

In U.S., war of words over Gaza

“As war rages between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and President-elect Barack Obama counts down the days until he has to deal directly with the conflict as the leader of the free world, a war to control the message is raging at home. And it’s unusually fierce.This week, some jarring events made headlines and illustrated the nature of that war:

— Hugely popular comedian Jon Stewart, who is Jewish – birth name, Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz – was lauded by the Muslim Public Affairs Council this week for a scathing ‘Daily Show’ segment entitled, ‘Israel Invades Gaza … Missile Tov!’…”

–Carla Marinucci, The San Francisco Chronicle, 10 January, 2009

Watch Jon Stewart’s take on the Gaza Bombardment here:

Democracy Now!: Former Amb. Martin Indyk vs. Author Norman Finkelstein: A Debate on Israel’s Assault on Gaza and the US Role in the Conflict

“The Israeli assault on Gaza is entering its thirteenth day. Some 700 Palestinians have been killed, with many thousands more wounded, and a humanitarian crisis is mounting. Ten Israelis have died, four by ‘friendly fire.’ A ceasefire has not been reached, and the offensive continues. We host a debate between Martin Indyk, the former US ambassador to Israel and Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs during the Clinton administration, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and author of, Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East, and Norman Finkelstein, author of several books, including The Holocaust Industry, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict and Beyond Chutzpah…”

–Democracy Now!, 8 January, 2009

Also check out the following highly informative articles from ZNet and The Electronic Intifada:

Criticism of Israel’s War Crimes Mounts

“…Yesterday, Amnesty International also accused Israeli soldiers of using Palestinian civilians as human shields – a charge Israel has repeatedly levelled against Hamas...”

–Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 9 January, 2009

Statement Of Special Raporteur For The Palestinian Territories Occupied Since 1967

“…Most accounts of the temporary ceasefire indicate that it was a major Israeli use of lethal force on November 4, 2008 that brought the ceasefire to a de facto end, leading directly to increased frequency of rocket fire from Gaza. It is also relevant that Hamas repeatedly offered to extend the ceasefire, even up to ten years, provided that Israel would lift the blockade. These diplomatic possibilities were, as far as can be assessed, not explored by Israel…”

–Richard Falk, ZNet, 11 January, 2009

And Finally:

What You Don’t Know About Gaza

“NEARLY everything you’ve been led to believe about Gaza is wrong. Below are a few essential points that seem to be missing from the conversation, much of which has taken place in the press, about Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip.

THE GAZANS Most of the people living in Gaza are not there by choice. The majority of the 1.5 million people crammed into the roughly 140 square miles of the Gaza Strip belong to families that came from towns and villages outside Gaza like Ashkelon and Beersheba. They were driven to Gaza by the Israeli Army in 1948.

THE OCCUPATION The Gazans have lived under Israeli occupation since the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel is still widely considered to be an occupying power, even though it removed its troops and settlers from the strip in 2005. Israel still controls access to the area, imports and exports, and the movement of people in and out. Israel has control over Gaza’s air space and sea coast, and its forces enter the area at will. As the occupying power, Israel has the responsibility under the Fourth Geneva Convention to see to the welfare of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.

THE BLOCKADE Israel’s blockade of the strip, with the support of the United States and the European Union, has grown increasingly stringent since Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January 2006. Fuel, electricity, imports, exports and the movement of people in and out of the Strip have been slowly choked off, leading to life-threatening problems of sanitation, health, water supply and transportation.

The blockade has subjected many to unemployment, penury and malnutrition. This amounts to the collective punishment — with the tacit support of the United States — of a civilian population for exercising its democratic rights.

THE CEASE-FIRE Lifting the blockade, along with a cessation of rocket fire, was one of the key terms of the June cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. This accord led to a reduction in rockets fired from Gaza from hundreds in May and June to a total of less than 20 in the subsequent four months (according to Israeli government figures). The cease-fire broke down when Israeli forces launched major air and ground attacks in early November; six Hamas operatives were reported killed.

WAR CRIMES The targeting of civilians, whether by Hamas or by Israel, is potentially a war crime. Every human life is precious. But the numbers speak for themselves: Nearly 700 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed since the conflict broke out at the end of last year. In contrast, there have been around a dozen Israelis killed, many of them soldiers. Negotiation is a much more effective way to deal with rockets and other forms of violence. This might have been able to happen had Israel fulfilled the terms of the June cease-fire and lifted its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

This war on the people of Gaza isn’t really about rockets. Nor is it about ‘restoring Israel’s deterrence,’ as the Israeli press might have you believe. Far more revealing are the words of Moshe Yaalon, then the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, in 2002: ‘The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.’

Rashid Khalidi, a professor of Arab studies at Columbia, is the author of the forthcoming ‘Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East.'”

–The New York Times, 7 January, 2009

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