Friday, May 30, 2008
"I regret to inform you that the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State will not be able to finalise your Fulbright Student Scholarship for 2008."
With those words, in a brief letter from the United States Consulate in Jerusalem, the dreams of seven talented and ambitious young people from Gaza were dashed.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
"My message to the international community is that our silence and complicity, especially on the situation in Gaza, shames us all. It is almost like the behaviour of the military junta in Burma "
Before Tutu's visit to Beit Hanoun, residents of the town were summoned to the townsqaure by Israeli forces and 60 were arrested. These most likely included witnesses of the massacre and could be an attempt to conceal the truth of the Beit Hanoun massacre.
Members of the University and College Union in England (UCU) passed a motion at their annual conference on Wednesday to consider severing ties with Israeli universities.
Tom Hickey, who teaches philosophy at the University of Brighton, says the motion highlighting the "humanitarian catastrophe imposed on Gaza by Israel" is just shy of a full boycott, The Telegraph said.
The UCU, the largest trade union and professional organization for academics and lecturers working throughout the United Kingdom, called on its colleagues to consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned.
The motion noted "the continuation of illegal settlement, killing of civilians and the impossibility of civil life, including education" as a result of the occupation.
The Zionist response? Pretty predictable, when in doubt scream anti-semitism!
The Academic Friends of Israel condemned the UCU for passing a resolution "which is clearly discriminatory and anti-Semitic and, we believe, in clear violation of the U.K. Race Relations act."
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
As I stood at the Muslim Student Union table on Ring Mall last week, I noticed a young boy standing with his mother at the mock apartheid wall. David was 5 years old, and he carried a stuffed animal in his hand. As I approached them, his mother said, “I am usually at work at this time, but I just wanted my son to see this. I know it’s too much for a young child, but I want him to know that not everyone comes home at night without worrying that their house might have been destroyed or that their family may have been killed.” This year’s Palestine Awareness Week, “Never Again? The Palestinian Holocaust,” was an opportunity to educate both young and old people about the urgent humanitarian crisis and historical injustice in Palestine.
The mock apartheid wall, situated on Ring Mall from May 12 through May 15, was perhaps the main attraction of the event. Curious passersby stopped to read about Palestine, often realizing that they should investigate the issue before trusting the biased, limited and often plainly inaccurate image of the situation presented by the mainstream media. The change of heart came easily to many people because aside from the fact that Israel’s genocidal activities should be cause for concern, they discovered where $10 million of our tax dollars go every day.
Hundreds of people from many different backgrounds came to hear the eight speakers at the event. The speakers all agreed that Palestinian suffering and subjection to injustice had to end, but offered a slightly varied set of solutions. They demonstrated that people working for freedom for the Palestinians should unite, no matter how they think this freedom should be attained. The MSU stressed that the source of a problem must always be examined before a solution can be found. Therefore, while the MSU acknowledged the deaths on both sides, it reminded its audience not to ignore the historical and political context of the situation. The problem began with the theft of Palestinian land and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. This is why, as Rachel Corrie’s mother stated, there is no balance of power, and as Ilan Pappe stated, this is not merely a “conflict.”
Overall, the week succeeded in providing facts and historical background about the issue. However, it did not escape criticism. The most popular criticism of the MSU’s Palestine Awareness Week is that it is anti-Semitic, or more accurately, anti-Jewish. The MSU went the extra mile to clear up any misconceptions and to draw a distinction between the racist, genocidal Israeli apartheid and the Jewish faith. Four of the eight speakers were Jewish. In fact, a whole panel of the wall was dedicated to this distinction, acknowledging that the week’s events were not comprised of hate speech, but rather the truth about the injustices that Israel continues to perpetrate in the Holy Land.
In the very first lecture of the week, “What’s the Fuss? Is Criticism of Israel Anti-Semitic,” Norman Finklestein argued the same position to an audience of nearly 600 attendees. It is puzzling that people continue to insist that the Jewish faith would advocate Israel and its atrocities, but this insulting misrepresentation of Judaism is not supported by the MSU.
The two Muslim speakers also had unique criticism. It is interesting to note that while all eight speakers had a similar message, the Muslim speakers were accused of expressing “thinly-veiled hate speech” or being “radical.” However, the messages from the Jewish speakers were only labeled as “dramatizations.” The speakers were referred to as “misled” or “misinformed activists” with good intentions. Even more interesting is that Anna Baltzer had already predicted these criticisms. When Baltzer was asked how she handled criticism of her work, she said that she considered it “the light version of harassment.” She explained that people claimed she was just a naïve and misinformed young girl, whereas the hatred and criticisms that Muslims endure are much worse.
What about raising cultural awareness? The Palestinian people don’t have too much time to focus on that, as they’re too busy dying and being expelled from their homes. As David’s mother taught him, the world is not always a happy place. Besides, since Anteaters for Israel so thoughtfully took care of raising awareness about Arab culture by presenting the campus with Arabic food and Arabic music during this year’s iFest, MSU decided to focus on politics.
Why don’t we focus on what Muslims are doing around the world, instead? The MSU does not stand by the un-Islamic activities of self-proclaimed Muslim leaders, which is exactly what we ask of the Jewish people. Just as there is no Islamic country in the world today, Israel does not represent Jewish people. Although no oppressed people in the world today are as ignored or as directly affected by American foreign policy as the Palestinians, MSU also holds activities to help other oppressed people. For example, this year’s “Fashion Fighting Famine” event collected money to send to Darfur as humanitarian aid, and the “Fast-a-thon” was a fundraiser for all those hurt by the African Food Crisis.
Due to the awareness that the campus gained from this year’s Palestine Awareness Week, it is important to remember the wise words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” Using this as a guideline, people around the world can start to come together to work for true peace in the Middle East, finally ending what is often considered a never-ending conflict.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
To UCI Administration:
We, the undersigned, are appalled by the human rights abuses against Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli government, the continual military occupation and colonization of Palestinian territory by Israeli armed forces and settlers, the forcible eviction of Palestinians from their homes, and the demolition of Palestinian dwellings, neighborhoods and towns.
We categorically condemn the loss of any innocent life, Israeli or Palestinian. We therefore call on UC Irvine and the UC system (1) to use its influence--political and financial--to encourage the United States government to suspend its military aid and arms sales to Israel, and (2) to divest its $54 million in investments from Israel, from all companies that manufacture arms and other military hardware sold to Israel, and from companies that sell such arms and military hardware to Israel, until these conditions are met:
- Israel is in compliance with United Nations Resolution 242 which notes the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war, and which calls for withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from occupied territories.
- Israel is in compliance with the United Nations Committee Against Torture 2001 Report which recommends that Israel's use of legal torture be ended.
- In compliance with the Fourth Geneva Convention ("The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into territories it occupies"; Article 49, paragraph 6), Israel ceases building new settlements, and vacates existing settlements, in the Occupied Territories.
- Israel acknowledges in principle the applicability of United Nations Resolution 194 with respect to the rights of refugees, and accepts that refugees should either be allowed to return to their former lands or else be compensated for their losses, as agreed by the Palestinians and Israelis in bilateral negotiations.
As the MSU, our goal in organizing these events is to promote a better understanding of the conflict, and to open doors for discussion and critical thinking. Furthermore, we hope that by empowering students with a better understanding of the conflict, students will become actively involved in promoting a just solution in the region. As such we invite students, faculty and the community at large to attend our programs with an open mind ready to listen, understand and question. As a campus community, we feel this is the best way to create dialogue around issues which are sometimes considered taboo.
A university serves as the free marketplace of ideas; in this spirit, we invite you all to attend our week on Palestine. May 14, 2008 marks 60 years since the beginning of the Palestinian tragedy, commonly referred to by Palestinians as the Nakba (Catastrophe). 60 years of dispossession, statelessness, and ethnic cleansing have created the largest group of refugees in the world; has left thousands of innocent men, women and children dead; and has shattered the livelihood of millions of people facing the scourge of the longest, most brutal occupation in modern history. This week, we will tell their story, we will mourn their suffering, and we will honor their resistance. This week, we will stand with them.
Our title asks whether another holocaust is on the horizon for the natives of Palestine, as the Israeli deputy of defense threatens. Attend our events to hear our perspective, independent of media bias and negative stereotypes that you may have seen. Furthermore, we invite you to question what you hear, do your own research and formulate an opinion on the issue. The truth speaks for itself.
The real issue about the crisis of Palestine should not get lost in campus politics. We owe it to the people suffering in that region to educate ourselves; especially since our own government helps support many of the policies in place in Palestine. To that end, we have flown in world-renowned Israeli historian Ilan Pappe from the United Kingdom to speak about the history of the region on the anniversary of the Nakba. As an Israeli, he will provide a balanced perspective that sheds light on both sides of the issue.
Cindy and Craig Corrie lost a daughter to the conflict; as Americans who know all to well the costs of the occupation, they will discuss on Tuesday evening why it is important for us to understand the experience of Palestinians and advocate a just solution as their daughter did, before she was brutally murdered by an Israeli soldier. Rachael stood in front of a Palestinian home and tried to stop it from being illegally demolished through non-violent action. Her death stands as a witness to the brutal injustice practiced by Israeli Armed Forces.
Anna Baltzer is a Jewish American Columbia graduate, Fulbright scholar, and the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. She is a three-time volunteer with the International Women's Peace Service, where she documented human rights abuses in the West Bank and supported the nonviolent movement against the Occupation. Her acclaimed presentation, Life in Occupied Palestine: Eyewitness Stories & Photos, will be presented on Wednesday afternoon.
For more information on the entire week of events, please visit www.msu-uci.com. As a concluding thought, a clarification should be made: Judaism is a religion that is respected and upheld within the Muslim faith, as Moses is a distinguished prophet in the Holy Qur'an. For centuries, Muslims and Jews have lived together in peace and still do live together in peace, even at UC Irvine. Zionism, however, is a political movement that has twisted biblical and historical truths to justify the illegal occupation of Palestine. It is a philosophy that has bred violence over the past 60 years; it has also created inequality and prejudice against innocent Palestinians to make them live as strangers in their own homeland. We draw a clear distinction between the world faith that is Judaism, and the political ideology that is Zionism.
We hope to see you all this week!