palestine

US Equates Palestinian Nonviolent Protest With Israeli Settlement Activity

Time to make yet another entry to the list of US hypocrisies!

Over the weekend, Israeli army and police units forcibly evicted a group of Palestinian activists from Bab al-Shams, a tent village that had been erected on what is reportedly a Palestinian-owned parcel of land in the area of the West Bank known as E1. The village—which included a library, kitchen, media room, and a medical center staffed by two doctors, two nurses, and six other health professionals—was established by the activists as a nonviolent protest against Israeli intentions to build thousands of new settlements in E1, an action which would effectively cut-off Palestinians from Jerusalem, threaten the viability of any future Palestinian state in a two-state solution, and, of course, trounce upon the Palestinians' rights to their own land.

In a statement, UN chief Ban Ki-Moon called Israel out on their impending settlement plans and on disrespecting the Palestinians' right to peaceful protest. But, of course, we can't expect so much from the US.

Obama, Clinton: Injuring Israeli Civilians Worse Than Killing Palestinian Civilians

Hamas and Israel have reportedly agreed to terms for a ceasefire, which should be taking effect right about now. This is a welcome development.

But just because a ceasefire has been agreed upon doesn't mean that we can or should forget the United States's hypocritical response to the violence, which was on display as late as this morning when President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued statements on a bus bombing in Tel Aviv said by some to be perpetrated by Hamas.

Demand Obama Press for Immediate Ceasefire Between Israel and Hamas

Didn't they learn anything last time?

In 2008, the Israeli military invaded Gaza, claiming they were going to destroy Hamas. They didn't destroy Hamas - politically, they made it stronger - but they did kill a thousand Palestinian civilians and destroy a lot of Palestinian civilian infrastructure, some of which was never fully rebuilt due to the Israel-Egypt-US blockade of Gaza.

Now Israel is attacking Gaza again. The stated reason is rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. Of course, that's not the complete story. [1] But more violence from Israel into Gaza isn't going to end rocket fire from Gaza. It hasn't in the past and won't in the future. The violence can only end with a political agreement to stop all violence across the Israel-Gaza border. The first step is an immediate cease-fire. This should lead to a political agreement that guarantees a permanent end to armed attacks across the border from both sides and permanently ends the siege of Gaza's economy and people.

Urge President Obama and Members of Congress to work towards an immediate ceasefire and a political agreement that permanently ends the violence and ends the blockade. You can use the following link:

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/gaza-ceasefire

Thank you for all you do to help bring about a more just foreign policy,

Robert Naiman, Chelsea Mozen, Sarah Burns and Megan Iorio
Just Foreign Policy

Please support our work. Donate for a Just Foreign Policy.
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References:

1. See, e.g.,

“Who Started the Israel-Gaza Conflict?” Robert Wright, The Atlantic, November 16, 2012, http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/11/who-started-the-israel-gaza-conflict/265374/

US Should Condemn Israeli Assault On Gaza And Call For Immediate Cease-Fire (But Of Course, It Hasn't)

For the last few days, Gaza has been under assault by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). The US press is reporting the Israeli attack to be in response to rocket fire coming from the Gaza strip, although the sequence of events isn't quite that simple. So far, 15 Palestinians have been killed, eight of which have been reported to be civilians, including a pregnant woman, a 10-month old son of a BBC worker, and three infants. A rocket launched from Gaza after the Israeli assault began is said to have killed three Israeli civilians.

PRESS RELEASE FROM BOAT TO GAZA: Imminent Israeli Threat to Seize Gaza-Bound Boat in International Waters

For immediate release

Contact:
US Boat to Gaza:
Robert Naiman: 217-979-2857; naiman@justforeignpolicy.org
Jane Hirschmann: 845-246-6494; kaneri46@gmail.com

Canadian Boat to Gaza:
Ehab Lotayef: 514-941-9792
David Heap (in Gaza, with Noam Chomsky) +972 59 289 3106

Imminent Israeli Threat to Seize Gaza-Bound Boat in International Waters;
Estelle 120 Nautical Miles Outside of Gaza

Combat Veteran Yonatan Shapira on Board, former Crew Member on U.S. Boat to Gaza,
Reachable by Phone on Boat

Close Presbyterian Vote on Selective Divestment Shows Likudniks Losing Middle America

Thursday night, by what the Christian Science Monitor called the "thinnest of margins" the General Assembly of the 1.9 million member Presbyterian Church USA failed to approve a resolution requiring the church to divest its $20 million investments in Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett-Packard over the ties of these companies to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.

The vote at the PCUSA's General Assembly in Pittsburgh was 333-to-331. In percentage terms, 49.85% were in favor of selective divestment from the Israeli occupation and 50.15% were opposed.

No doubt many among what Peter Beinart calls "the American Jewish establishment" celebrated the result. They had pulled out the stops to block the Presbyterians' selective divestment move. 1300 rabbis and 22,000 other Jews wrote to the Presbyterians, falsely seeking to characterize the proposed move as "the use of economic leverages against the Jewish state."

Welcome to Palestine: "Even Prisoners Are Allowed Visits"

What difference will it make to the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank when the world meets their demands for freedom and self-determination?

One difference it will make: like other peoples of the world, the Palestinians will get to decide who they can invite to visit them.

Right now, if you, as a citizen of the United States, Canada, or Europe, decide that you want to visit Bethlehem, a Palestinian city in the West Bank - the same Bethlehem that Christians believe to be the birthplace of Jesus - you have two ways to begin your journey. You can fly to Israel, and cross the 1967 border to the West Bank. Or you can fly to Jordan, and cross to the West Bank over one of the bridges. But whichever way you go, you cannot pass to Bethlehem without the permission of the Netanyahu government, which controls all the paths you can take to Bethlehem.

If you are a Likud supporter, flying into the Israeli airport should present no problem. But if you are a supporter of Palestinian rights, the Netanyahu government could stop you from going to Bethlehem on purely political grounds, even if you have never committed any crime and have no intention of ever committing one, even if you have never attended a Palestinian protest in the West Bank and have no intention of attending one. You could be barred by the Netanyahu government from going to Bethlehem simply for the thought crime of supporting Palestinian human rights.

Indeed, even American Jews can be barred by the Netanyahu government from traveling to Bethlehem for the thought crime of supporting Palestinian rights.

Given the economic, political, and diplomatic support given to the Netanyahu government by North America and Europe, this is a spectacular state of affairs. You might think that governments and media in North American and Europe would express forceful concern if their citizens' right to travel were obstructed by a government they were doing so much to support.

In Defiance of Threats from US, Palestine Admitted as Full Member to UNESCO

Earlier today, in defiance of the United States and Israel, Palestine was admitted as a full member of the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by a vote of 107 to 14, with 52 abstentions. Those who voted in favor of admission included France and Belgium, along with China, Russia, Brazil, India, and most African and Arab states.

This overwhelming support for the Palestinians was manifested despite the fact that US law mandates a complete cutoff of US funding to any UN agency that admits Palestine as a full member. The US provides about $70 million in funding to UNESCO annually, accounting for roughly 22% of its yearly budget. Israel also plans to cut off its contribution, which is 3% of the agency's budget. That means that, with Palestinian admission to UNESCO, the agency will lose a quarter of its funding.

The UNESCO vote makes clear yet again that the United States is on the wrong side of world opinion on the issue of Israel and Palestine. And while it may be but a symbolic victory, it is a mighty one: it is a signal that threats and strong arming cannot forever stand in the way of justice.

Palestine, Farming, U.S. Aid, and the Arab Spring: A Conversation with Rami Zurayk

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then "#occupy" protesters around the world this weekend just gave the Arab Spring an Academy Award. Of course the chain of inspiration of freedom and justice seekers is unending in history, but there's no question that the Arab Spring opened a new chapter which is inspiring people to protest for justice worldwide.

No doubt at this historical moment many people in the U.S. will be preoccupied, as they should be, more with how #occupywallstreet is going than with how the Arab Spring is going. But we still have reason to pay some attention to the Arab Spring.

Drawing inspiration from outside our immediate environment sometimes allows us to leapfrog over the crusty preconceptions of our historical surroundings. One thing #occupywallstreet, like the Wisconsin uprising, has had in common with Cairo has been an explicit appeal for solidarity to the "security forces." In Cairo, they chanted: "The army and the people are one hand!" In Madison, the conduct of the mobilization for public employee rights defeated efforts of the Walker administration to split the police politically from other public employees. Today #occupy protesters are telling police, "You are the 99%!" You could look at the police as armed employees of the state who have to follow orders to "maintain public order," or you could look at them as public employees who are largely unionized members of the working class and who often have a lot of discretion in how they interpret their mandate to "maintain public order." Not arresting protesters is a perfectly legitimate tool for keeping the peace, and most police officers and officials know that well. As mom told us when we were little, honey usually beats vinegar.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Jackie Robinson of Palestine

On Friday, Mahmoud Abbas - backed by more than 80% of Palestinian public opinion in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem - formally requested full United Nations membership for Palestine.

The logic of turning to the UN is straightforward: the U.S.-sponsored "peace process" - bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians under U.S. auspices - has failed, because a key premise of that process was that the U.S. government could bring the Israeli government to the table for a serious negotiation that would produce real Israeli compromise necessary for a solution. That premise has turned out to be spectacularly false.

The U.S. hasn't been able to bring the Israeli government to the table for a serious negotiation, not because it would be theoretically impossible to do so, but because "domestic political constraints" - the "Israel lobby" - have prevented the U.S. from exerting effective pressure on the Israeli government to move. Therefore, if the world wants to see resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict anytime soon, it has to wrest control of the issue from Washington. And that's why moving the arena to the United Nations makes perfect sense.

Former Israeli peace negotiator Daniel Levy summed it up in the New York Times: "The U.S. cannot lead on an issue that it is so boxed in on by its domestic politics," Levy said. "And therefore, with the region in such rapid upheaval and the two-state solution dying, as long as the U.S. is paralyzed, others are going to have to step up."