Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Veteran White House correspondent talks to Real News Network about Obama, U.S. policy, and Israel's nukes
Thursday, March 25, 2010
At the US Campaign, we stand for equality for all. Racism and apartheid need to be opposed wherever they are found. Check out resources on our website for standing against apartheid, and take action in your community for justice and equality.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
"Finkelstein lost tenure at DePaul. He most recently got disinvited by the Greens in Germany. And this morning, word that the global shunning continues in Chicago, where event organizers report that since he’s not allowed to speak at DePaul (part of his severance agreement-amazingly), they found, and then just lost, an alternative venue: I’ve been very involved in organizing Norman Finkelstein’s April midwest tour, which will include Purdue, Beloit, Michigan State, and Chicago events (DePaul, Northwestern, UofC). Unfortunately, today I received this news from our friends and partners at DePaul: As you know, former professor and academic Norman G. Finkelstein is scheduled to speak in Chicago on Friday, April 16th. SJP DePaul and friends have been working diligently for this event, from securing a venue, booking his flight and hotel, and fundraising from scratch to make this event happen successfully. Everything was finally coming together, and we were all excited. Unfortunately, today we received horrible news. The event coordinator received the following email from the venue we had secured for the event: “Good morning Shirien, We had a Parish council meeting this past week, I notify everyone on the up coming events that are held at our church, and of course, your event was one of the topics A few of our board members are attorneys and they are the ones that look into almost everything from the individuals that rent the gym out and if they are covered insurance wise. they looked deeper into the Professor that will be speaking at our church and they insisted that we couldn’t be affiliated with the ideologies of Mr. Norman Finkelstein so I am sorry to say that the church is going to have to cancel and will not be able to rent the gym the night of April the 16th 2010 Please again I am very sorry for the inconvenience.” Write a nice note to St. George Greek Orthodox Church to let them know Finkelstein should speak: Deno Diamantakos DDiamantakos@tempel.com And if you have an alternative venue idea for April 16 in Chicago, contact organizer firstname.lastname@example.org"Read the full article here.
"Are you anti-Israel? If you fear that, deep down, you might be, I have important news. The recent tension between Israel and the United States led various commentators to identify hallmarks of anti-Israelism, and these may be of diagnostic value. As you’ll see, my own view is that they aren’t of much value, but I’ll leave it for you to judge."Wright goes on to point to such "hallmarks of anti-Israelism" as believing that Israel shouldn't build settlements in East Jerusalem and believing that unconditional support of Israeli policy endangers U.S. troops. His analysis of settlements in East Jerusalem is particularly refreshing in the U.S. media:
"Symptom no. 1: Believing that Israel shouldn’t build more settlements in East Jerusalem. President Obama holds this belief, and that seems to be the reason that Gary Bauer, who sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, deems Obama’s administration “the most anti-Israel administration in U.S. history.” Bauer notes that the East Jerusalem settlements are “entirely within the city of Jerusalem” and that Jerusalem is “the capital of Israel.” That’s artful wording, but it doesn’t change the fact that East Jerusalem, far from being part of “the capital of Israel,” isn’t even part of Israel. East Jerusalem lies beyond Israel’s internationally recognized, pre-1967 borders. And the common assertion that Israel “annexed” East Jerusalem has roughly the same legal significance as my announcing that I’ve annexed my neighbor’s backyard. In 1980 the United Nations explicitly rejected Israel’s claim to possess East Jerusalem. And the United States, which normally vetoes U.N. resolutions that Israel finds threatening, chose not to do so in this case.In short, accepting Gary Bauer’s idea of what it means to be anti-Israel seems to involve being anti-truth. So I don’t accept it."Wright argues that Israel's expansionist policy is creating "a condition that would be increasingly reminiscent of apartheid," a point made in stronger form by Ali Abunimah at CNN.com yesterday:
The discourse is shifting, and you can help. Check out the US Campaign's media action resources, and organize in your community to oppose military aid to Israel and promote boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel's violations of international law and human rights.
"Globally, Israel faces a growing campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions just like apartheid South Africa did in the 1980s. A leading Israeli think tank, the Reut Institute, warned the government recently that this campaign "possesses strategic significance, and may develop into a comprehensive existential threat within a few years."
It also stated that a "harbinger of such a threat would be the collapse of the two-state solution as an agreed framework for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the coalescence behind a 'one-state solution' as a new alternative framework." With its aggressive settlement expansion plans, Israel has in effect chosen a one-state instead of a two-state solution -- but it is indeed an apartheid state."
From a US Campaign Steering Committee member: Urgent Plea from UC Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
"On Jan. 16, two days after a killer earthquake hit Haiti, a team of senior military officers from the U.S. Central Command (responsible for overseeing American security interests in the Middle East), arrived at the Pentagon to brief Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The team had been dispatched by CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus to underline his growing worries at the lack of progress in resolving the issue. The 33-slide, 45-minute PowerPoint briefing stunned Mullen. The briefers reported that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CENTCOM's mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region, and that Mitchell himself was (as a senior Pentagon officer later bluntly described it) "too old, too slow ... and too late."Frankly, we don't think that the United States should be involved in ANY foreign military occupation, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, or the occupied Palestinian territory, but nevertheless it's worth noting that criticism of U.S. support of Israel war crimes is gaining ground even with the U.S. military establishment. -- In other major news, the UC Berkeley Student Senate has voted to "to divest from companies who have supplied the state of Israel with materials used in alleged war crimes." Check out an article in the UC Berkeley newspaper, a press release from UC Berkeley SJP, and a response from Omar Barghouti of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, who refers to the divestment resolution as "the watershed, the crossing of the threshold in the spread of BDS across the US that many of us have been waiting to see." The SJP press release states:
"For the first time in the University of California history, the UC Berkeley Student Senate has approved a bill to divest from two US companies in response to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and to Israel’s siege and bombardment of the Gaza Strip. The Senate bill directs both the UC Regents and the Student Government to divest from General Electric and United Technologies. General Electric manufactures Apache helicopter engines; United Technologies manufactures Sikorsky helicopters and F-16 aircraft engines. In addition, the bill creates a task force to look into furthering a socially responsible investment policy for the UC system."Congratulations to UC Berkeley, and to everyone who continues working to change the U.S. discourse and take real action for justice, peace, and human rights. Change--real change--is happening in front of our eyes!
Saturday, March 20, 2010
"This afternoon the Israeli military killed 16-year old Mohammad Qadus from Iraq Burin, a village south of Nablus, with a live round on his heart. A second youth, Asaud Qadus, 19 years old, was critically injured after being shot in the head. Mohammad was trying to carry Asaud to safety when he was hit."
Friday, March 12, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
"U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's condemnation of Israel's plan to construct 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem was welcomed on Wednesday by advocacy groups and analysts who called for Israel to be held accountable for actions that undermine peace talks with the Palestinians. The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (U.S. Campaign) lauded Biden's statement "condemning the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem" and his promise that the United States will hold Israel "accountable for any statements or actions that inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of talks." According to Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director of the U.S. Campaign, "It's about time that the Obama administration is threatening to hold Israel accountable for obstructing U.S. policy goals to end illegal settlement expansion in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem and lift the illegal blockade of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian Gaza Strip." "The Obama administration must move from warnings to concrete steps to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing defiance of U.S. policy goals and international law," Ruebner added. "The most appropriate way of holding Israel accountable would be to cut off the $3 billion in military aid to Israel proposed by President Obama in his FY2011 budget request." "Read the rest of the article here, and take action to oppose $3 billion in military aid to Israel by clicking here.
"The European Parliament on Wednesday urged its 27-member states to monitor the Israeli and Palestinian probes into alleged war crimes committed during last year's late-winter conflict in Gaza. The resolution backed the findings of a UN-appointed expert panel chaired by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, which concluded that both sides committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the war that began in December 2008 and ended in January 2009. The parliamentary move, which would give the EU an unprecedented role in evaluating the progress of Israel's war crimes probe, was sharply criticized by Israel."These advances come on the heels of a ruling by the EU high court that products produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank are not covered by trade agreements between the EU and Israel and are thus subject to import duties.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Your Tax Dollars at Work: Mazin Qumsiyeh, past US Campaign Steering Committee member and nonviolent activist, threatened with arrest
On March 1, shortly after I left my village near Bethlehem for a visit home to the United States, the Israeli army invaded the neighborhood and surrounded our house at 1:30 a.m. My mother, sister and wife, terrorized for no reason, told the military I was out of the country but would be “happy” to talk to them upon my return. The soldiers delivered a note demanding my appearance in a military compound five days later — a date I have missed because my ticket was scheduled for a few days later. I thus face the likelihood of arrest, administrative detention or worse when I go back. My story is just a minor manifestation of a disturbing pattern. As civil resistance against Israel’s West Bank apartheid wall and settlement activities have increased, there has been an escalation of Israeli repression of nonviolent protesters. Nonviolent resistance to colonization and occupation are consistent with international law and U.S. policies. President Barack Obama has stated that settlement activities in the occupied territories must stop as a prelude to ending the occupation that started in 1967. Yet, Israeli authorities continue settlement activities apace, while intensifying attacks against peaceful vigils and protests against this indefensible behavior. Obama also gave clear encouragement to nonviolent Palestinian demonstrators in his Cairo speech, yet has remained silent as nonviolent demonstrators have been seized in recent weeks by the Israeli military. Bethlehem has suffered significantly because of Israeli actions. The district is squeezed now by illegal Israeli settlements and military installations on three sides. Bethlehem’s 130,00 residents have access to only 20 percent of the original land of the district. The settlers, protected by the Israeli military, now want to build a settlement in the only remaining open side of Bethlehem — to the east in an area called Ush Ghrab. The people of my village, Beit Sahour, are known for a history of nonviolent resistance, including a tax revolt in 1988 against the Israeli military government. We are a town with limited resources, comprised of 70 percent Christians and 30 percent Muslims, but have a highly educated middle class with more than 300 holders of doctorates among the population of 12,000. Having lost so much land, and being well-informed and connected to the outside world, we decided to nonviolently resist the additional Israeli encroachment on our town. The Israeli response relied on brute force. Our first prayer vigil was attacked while a Lutheran priest was leading us in prayer. As a member of the committee that organized the vigil and another peaceful event a week later, I was targeted. An Israeli officer warned me not to participate and threatened me, noting he knew I was planning to come home to the U.S. for a lecture tour. Given that the Israeli government receives billions in U.S. military aid, my taxes and yours at work, our government should defend those of us who engage in nonviolent protests. I was encouraged last week, therefore, in meeting with the office of U.S. Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that his office will pursue my concerns with the State Department and the Israeli government. While I fear for myself, I am more worried for other activists who do not have the minimal protection of a U.S. passport. And, I am terribly worried for our future as we are squeezed into smaller and smaller apartheid-like Bantustans. We will not be deterred from nonviolent protest. Despite being let down by numerous governments, we look to the United States and elsewhere in the international community to help defend us from abusive and violent responses to nonviolence.Here's video of the Israeli army attack on the Ush Ghraib prayer vigil that Mazin mentions in his op-ed: In yet another example of our tax dollars hard at work in the West Bank, last week a 14-year old Palestinian boy named Ehab Fadel Barghouthi was shot in the head with a rubber coated steel bullet while protesting confiscation of the village land of Nabi Saleh by the Israeli settlement of Halamish. Ehab remains in critical condition in a Ramallah hosptial. The United States provides many of the "riot control" munitions that are used by the Israeli military—in one year (FY2007) alone, the United States gave Israel 121,991 pieces of teargas and riot control agents valued at $1,654,536. As Congress begins considering President Obama's FY2011 budget request, which includes $3 billion in military aid to Israel, and tax day approaches, now is the time to oppose aid to Israel and offset our tax contributions to Israeli military occupation. We have to step up the pressure so that Mazin and hundreds of other nonviolent Palestinian activists can do their work without fear of crushing reprisal and repression. We have to step up the pressure so that 14-year old boys don't have to be afraid of being shot by U.S.-made weapons. We have to step up the pressure--for human rights, for international law, and for a just peace. What can you do? 1) Contact the State Department at 202-647-6575 or email them by clicking here (and then select the Email a Question/Comment tab) and ask them to intervene with Israel to prevent the unjust arrest of U.S. citizen Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh and all other Palestinian nonviolent activists who are facing repression for heeding President Obama's call for Palestinians to win "full and equal rights" through "peaceful and determined insistence". 2) Oppose $3 billion in U.S. military aid to Israel in FY2011 by clicking here. 3) Offset your tax dollars to Israeli military occupation by clicking here. 4) Work to change U.S. policy by joining our Congressional District Coordinators network by clicking here. 5) Comment on Mazin's op-ed in the New Haven Register and/or write to the paper thanking them for giving space to leaders of nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation. You can find tips and tools for writing letters to the editor by clicking here.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
"A recent op-ed on Israel in the Financial Times employs the word apartheid several times. Some of the time it seems to be applied to the West Bank, but other times it is applied to Israel proper. Either way, this shoe doesn't fit. (Security concerns are not rooted in racism.) The author of the piece is Henry Siegman, a harsh critic of Israeli policies and a former executive director of the American Jewish Congress, so anti-Semitism is not the issue here -- just sound judgment. Sometimes impatience can lead to imprudence. But anti-Semitism is not so easily dismissed with others. This is "Israeli Apartheid Week" on campuses across the world, and it is clear that what furiously animates many of the protesters are not legitimate grievances but imaginary ones. Israel is not above criticism and the Palestinians have their case, but when that case is constructed out of lies about the Jewish state, it not only represents a wholly unoriginal cover of some old anti-Semitic ditties but also denigrates the Palestinian cause. It does not need lies."How original, Mr. Cohen. If you don't agree with critics of Israel, call them anti-Semitic liars--or, if they're Jewish, question their motives. (As Glenn Greenwald points out at Salon.com, if the person using the term "apartheid" is a hawkish Israeli official such as Ehud Olmert or Ehud Barak, simply ignore that they said what they said, even if it's much more recent news than Jimmy Carter's book.) Then pretend that you know what's best for the Palestinian cause--that you know better than hundreds of Palestinian, Israeli, and international civil society organizations calling for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israeli occupation and apartheid. But of course, they must all be liars, or anti-Semites, or both. Mr. Cohen is wrong about Israeli Apartheid Week, wrong about civil society responses to injustice and oppression, and wrong about apartheid. Here's just a smattering of examples of why Israel's policies toward Palestinians--residents of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, citizens of Israel, or refugees--are violations of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid:
- The Convention on Apartheid identifies the "expropriation of landed property" of a particular racial, ethnic, or identity group as one of the "inhuman acts" that constitute the crime of apartheid. The South African apartheid regime broke the country into 10 noncontiguous Bantustans made of 13% of the total land, which were to serve as “homelands” for the black population. Israel’s “separation wall/fence” and settlements have broken the Palestinian territories into 12 noncontiguous cantons representing only 12% of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
- The Convention condemns "Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including...the right to freedom of movement and residence." Palestinians rely on Israeli-issued “permits” to travel through a system of more than 600 checkpoints within the occupied territories. Israeli refusal to issue permits regularly prevents Palestinians from getting to schools, jobs, and even hospitals. In apartheid South Africa Blacks could be arrested to being outside of Bantustans and townships without government issued “passes.”
- Black people in South Africa could not be citizens, and Colored people were only granted limited citizenship rights. Palestinians in the occupied territories are not citizens of any state, and Palestinian citizens of Israel have different citizenship rights than Israeli Jews. Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are not citizens of Israel--instead, they have a partial "residency" status, one that can be taken away by the state if an individual is deemed to "no longer reside" in their city of birth.
- East Jerusalem and the West Bank are splintered by a network of roads leading to illegal Israeli settlements (where residence is open only for Jewish citizens of Israel); these roads can only be used by Israelis, while Palestinians must use older, often unpaved roads.
- Within Israel, Palestinian citizens are discriminated against by a series of laws, policies, and regulations, including restrictions on the right of Palestinians to own land, inequalities in funding of schools and municipalities, inequalities in the land open to development around Arab towns and cities versus Jewish towns and cities, inequalities in the granting of building permits, and citizenship laws that discriminate against Palestinians. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel recently issued a challenge to one of these discriminatory citizenship laws, which bans Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens from gaining Israeli citizenship. (For more information on the discrimination faced by Palestinian citizens of Israel, check out the Arab Association for Human Rights, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and Adalah Legal Center for Minority Rights in Israel).
- Citizenship laws also discriminate against Palestinian refugees, who are denied their right of return while Israel grants citizenship to any Jewish person from anywhere in the world.
- Even in language, Israel's policies toward Palestinians resemble apartheid. The Hebrew word "hafrada," which is used to refer to the Wall and to the policy of "disengagement," means separation (as in "separation barrier"). Apartheid is an Afrikaner word which also means separation.