Commentary

Protesters at “New York Stands With Israel” Press Conference Insist City Council Members "Do Not Speak for Us!"


Protesters confront Rep. Eliot Engel and others as they depart the "New York Stands With Israel" press conference at New York City Hall on Monday, July 14, 2014.

Around a hundred protesters surrounded New York City Hall during a “New York Stands With Israel” press conference Monday morning. The event, which was organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and the United Jewish Appeal Federation of New York, was intended to give New York City legislators the opportunity to justify Israel’s week-long bombing campaign of Gaza. But chants of “shame on you, City Council”, “New York stands with Palestine”, and “from Brooklyn to Palestine, genocide is a crime” penetrated the press conference—and media reports of it.

“Our elected officials are using their positions as representatives of the people of New York to lend support to Israel’s abuses and violations of international law,” Adalah-NY member Mindy Gershon stated. “These officials don’t speak for us!”

“We want to let the City Council know that most of New York does not support racist genocide and apartheid by [Israel],” said Bill Dores, a member of Al-Awada Right to Return Coalition.

Union Square March & Rally Against US Support for Israeli Impunity


Protesters chant "money for health and education—not for Israel's occupation!" while marching down Broadway in Greenwich Village, NYC on Friday, July 11, 2014.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at Union Square in New York City on Friday to call for Americans to end their support of Israeli impunity in Palestine. Demonstrators held a rally outside Max Brenner Chocolates—a target of boycotts for their financial support of the Israeli army's Golani Brigade, often cited for their involvement in war crimes in the occupied territories—then marched down and back up Broadway to rally again in the Square.

The US sends over $3 billion a year in taxpayer money to Israel. Many millions more in American money is invested in companies that are involved in the occupation.

Around the world, thousands continue to show their solidarity with the Palestinian people and demanding an end to Israeli aggression. Cities such as Paris, Oslo, Chicago, Jakarta, Rome and San Francisco have played host to demonstrations within the last week. In London alone, participation is said to have been around 10,000.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday that "no international pressure" would stop him from continuing to strike Gaza. He also said that "there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan," thus expressing the intent to occupy Palestinian territory indefinitely.

Netanyahu's War: What Is It Good For?

Originally published at Huffington Post.

The government of Benjamin Netanyahu has launched a new war on Palestinians in Gaza, a war whose purported justifications make George W. Bush's excuses for his illegal invasion of Iraq smell nice by comparison. So far, the United States, Netanyahu's chief enabler, has been unwilling to stop the carnage, as it could easily do, because Washington hasn't yet heard enough complaint from Americans not to use their tax dollars to kill children in Gaza.

Thousands Gather for NYC Protest for Palestine

Max Blumenthal addresses the crowd gathered outside the Israeli Consulate on 42nd St & 2nd Ave in NYC on July 9, 2014.

State Department Spokesperson flustered by question on Palestinians' right to defend themselves

When the deteriorating situation in Israel/Palestine came up during today's State Department press briefing, Spokesperson Jen Psaki fluently regurgitated the official Israeli line on their escalating air assaults on Gaza: Israel is responding to rocket fire from Gaza; Israel has the right to defense itself; yada yada.

But when confronted by the question of whether Palestinians also have the right to defend themselves, Psaki apparently lost the ability to form a cogent thought. So strange a notion it was to her that anyone would need to defend themselves from Israel, she asked whether there was "a specific event or a specific occurrence" the reporter was referring to. Ultimately, she evaded the question by throwing out the word "terrorist organization" and that "the threat ... to civilian populations is of great concern to us." But really, only if they are Israeli.

Meanwhile, eight children are reported to have been killed tonight in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. How many more will US officials allow to die before they call for a ceasefire?

Read the full exchange below.

QUESTION: But you feel that sort of the Israeli air raids, like maybe hundreds of them so far this day, are proportionate to the rockets?

MS. PSAKI: That’s not – I wouldn’t validate the accuracy of that number, but I would say, Said --

QUESTION: Okay. Well, the sorties – there are hundreds of sorties.

MS. PSAKI: I would say, Said, that I don’t think any country would be expected to allow rockets to come in and threaten the lives and health and well-being of the citizens in their country, and Israel has the right to defend themselves.

QUESTION: Okay. Do you believe that the Palestinians in Gaza have the right to defend themselves?

Iraq war powers: where do House members stand?

This post is so that I can refer to my spreadsheet in blogging. For now, the attached spreadsheet is not intended to be pretty, only to be accurate. My hope is especially to educate journalists to the fact that nearly half the House is on record opposing the invocation of the 2002 Iraq AUMF to justify the use of force in Iraq today.

The columns are as follows:

Lee-Rigell Iraq (80): the eighty signers of the Rigell-Lee Iraq war powers letter, which is here: http://lee.house.gov/sites/lee.house.gov/files/wysiwyg_uploaded/Scanned%20from%20a%20Xerox%20multifunction%20device001_0.pdf Lee's press release is here: http://lee.house.gov/newsroom/press-releases/bipartisan-letter-calls-for-congressional-authorization-before-any-military

nix Iraq AUMF (182): the 182 House Members who voted on June 19 to bar funding for using the 2002 Iraq AUMF. That roll call is here: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2014/roll326.xml

nix AUMF: this column has a 1 if the person voted to defund the Iraq AUMF.

either (192): this column has a 1 if the person signed the Rigell-Lee letter, voted to defund the AUMF, or both. 192 Members are in this category. That is, 192 Members of the House are on record as opposing the use of the 2002 Iraq AUMF in Iraq today.

R-L not AUMF (10): these are the ten Members of the House who signed the Rigell-Lee letter but did not vote yes on defunding the Iraq AUMF on June 19. They are: Julia Brownley (voted no) Michael Capuano (did not vote) Andre Carson (voted no) Eleanor Holmes Norton (not allowed to vote) Collin Peterson (voted no) Charles B. Rangel (did not vote) Bobby L. Rush (did not vote) Matt Salmon (voted no) Kyrsten Sinema (voted no) Bennie M. Thompson (did not vote).

Presbyterians Divest from the Israeli Occupation: the End of the Beginning?

When there is a just resolution to the Israel/Palestine conflict, I will claim that June 20, 2014 marked a turning point.

That was the day that the Presbyterian Church, USA voted to divest from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions as a result of these companies' continued involvement in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and these companies' continued refusal to change their policies.

Anti-Apartheid Archbishop Calls Presbyterians to Back Divestment from Israeli Occupation

 Detroit -- As Presbyterians meeting in Detroit consider divestment from three companies linked to the Israeli occupation of Palestine -- Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett Packard -- Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the leader who more than any other human being alive is associated with the successful use of divestment to help overturn apartheid in South Africa, is calling on Presb

Presbyterians Poised for Historic Vote Against Israel's Occupation of Palestine

Sometimes a situation that appears hopeless is actually poised for a new beginning - when the apparent hopelessness reflects acceptance that conventional wisdom has utterly failed to bring about solutions and that solutions require actions that conventional wisdom has blocked.

Next week, Presbyterians meeting in Detroit will have a historic opportunity to help change the fundamental dynamics of the Israel-Palestine conflict in a way that will bring a just resolution of the conflict closer. They'll be considering divestment from three companies - Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett Packard - that are significantly tied to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Amb. Ford: Give Syrian Insurgents Manpads to Shoot Down Iranian Planes

 Last September, Congress said no to plans to bomb Syria, by failing to approve an authorization for the use of military force.

Now there is a new push -- exemplified by this New York Times op-ed by former Ambassador Robert Ford -- for deeper U.S. military intervention in Syria. Advocates for U.S. military intervention are assuring us that there will be no direct U.S. bombing of Syria. Instead, so-called "moderate rebels" in Syria (whoever they are) will do the bombing on behalf of the U.S., with U.S.-supplied weapons.