Saturday, 7 February 2009

Debate: Is the comparison of Gaza with the Warsaw Ghetto valid?

By Mark LeVine - a professor of Middle East history at the University of California, Irvine, and is the author of Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam and the soon to be published An Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989.From Al Jazeera
It was inevitable that the Gaza-Warsaw comparison would be made, especially once the war started. It is so difficult to get the mainstream media in the West, and particularly in the US, to pay attention to the suffering of Palestinians, that many seem to have concluded that only the most powerful comparisons will get peoples' attention....

...These comparisons reflect an intolerable situation that is not just a humanitarian disaster, but has included the systematic commission of war crimes, and through them, crimes against humanity. The fact that the situation in Gaza has existed for decades has deepened the suffering, and the level of culpability...

...But thank God, Gaza is not the Warsaw Ghetto. Even after the latest war, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank remain rooted to the soil, not buried beneath it...

...define genocide as involving the intention to bring about the "physical-biological destruction" of a large enough share of an "entire human group" (national, ethnic, racial or religious) as to put the group's continued physical existence in jeopardy...

...Ninety-eight per cent of Warsaw's Jews perished. More broadly, about 63 per cent of Europe's pre-war Jewish population were killed during the Holocaust.

The roughly 6,500 Gazans killed by Israel since it unilaterally withdrew its soldiers and settlers in 2005 equals 0.4 per cent of the population of the Strip...

...the use of highly charged historical comparisons that do not hold up to scrutiny unnecessarily weakens the Palestinian case against the occupation full article

Action alert: - London: Protest Against the Israeli Ambassador: 9 February

Iranian journalist and blogger Omid Reza MirSyafi jailed

A friend of tweetsfromgaza on Twitter (link down sidebar) has been jailed today.

From Global Voices
Several Iranian news sites such as Amir Kabir[fa], a student site, reported Omid Reza MirSyafi,Iranian blogger and journalist, was sentenced to 36 months prison. He was accused of insulting Iranian religious leaders and doing propaganda against Islamic Republic.

Email your protest

Telephone: 020 7225 3000


Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran
16 Prince´s Gate
London SW7 1PT


Consulate Section
50 Kensington Court
London W8 5DB

University of Rochester occupation in US wins commitments to divestment, scholarships and humanitarian aid for Gaza from Dean

From The Stitch blog
The occupation of the University of Rochester ended after 9 hours. The university agreed to a number of statements that we could hold them accountable for and build on to continue this movement of boycott and divestment. Most importantly, we got them to agree to help organize with their own resources a public forum to expose their investments. Below are the statements that Dean Burns signed last night.

1. Divestment. That Dean Burns help organize a public forum with the U of R investors, SDS and the community on U of R investment policy, and U of R investment in Israel.
2. Humanitarian Aid. That U of R commit resources and provide any needed information for a campus-wide funddrive for Palestine.
3. Academic Aid. That U of R assess needs in Gaza and donate surplus supplies to universities such as computers, books...etc.
4. Scholarships. That U of R commit to providing international student scholarships to Palestinians.

We are proud of what we did and the support from community activists we received. This was just the first step at the University of Rochester.

For details on the occupation, reported from the inside:

To the Members of the University of Rochester Administration - download the PDF of the occupiers letter

Also see report from Rochester Against the War

U of V Students for a Democratic Society (yes - the SDS of the 60s but composed of today's coalition of peace campaigners, anti-globalisation activists, socialists, and pro-Palestinian groups) were the initiators of the occupation - see their site

Glasgow University occupation latest - security 'not aware' of a sit-in

[update: 9 Feb 2009 21.54 GMT] Glasgow University is now occupied ..YES!
Gaza Solidarity contacted a member of security at Glasgow University this evening (7.30pm) and they claim to be unaware of an ongoing occupation and helpfully suggested we ring the press office on Monday morning. For those unaware of the provenance of the The original report of an occupation came from the Bradford Uni occupation blog but it sounds like the source was jumping the gun somewhat. Either that, or Glasgow University has a very decentralised security operation. Or then again Glasgow Uni security could have been giving us the run around...

Thousands of students in pro-Gaza protests - Ellesmere Port Standard

AFP: Hamas sees accord with Israel over Gaza border in 'days'

Hamas says UNRWA to resume operations in Gaza

Islamic University of Gaza thanks UK students and asks for support for reconstruction campaign initiated last week

From - the main national website on UK student occupations

The IUG sent this email earlier today. It would be great if all occupations could strengthen their links with the university.

Dear Colleagues,

We would like to express our thanks and support for your campaign of academic and cultural boycotting of Israeli academic institutions. On Sunday Dec. 28th, 2008, IUG, the largest higher education institution in Palestine, was bombarded and two-six-storey buildings housing all university laboratories belonging to the colleges of IT, engineering and science were totally devastated.

Against this Israeli attack, IUG is interested in organising video conference meetings to explore ways of supporting your campaign through:

1. Briefing about the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) and the Palestinian educational systems.

2. Exploring the ways to help IUG reconstruct its facilities.

3. Exploring the activities IUG and Palestinian people can initiate in this regard.

4. Other points

We would also like to ask you to encourage conducting seminars and exchange meeting among IUG staff and your colleagues in order to strengthen the sustainable relations with academic institutions.

With your contribution and support, we are sure that IUG will achieve greater success in the academic field as well as local community service.

Below is the link of Reconstruction campaign that IUG initiated last week:

Link for press release:

We would be glad to provide you with any assistance for your activities and campaigns.

I look forward to hearing from you and look for cooperating with you.


External Relations Affairs
The Islamic University of Gaza, IUG

Zionists on the defensive at University of Texas - remember, this is one of the most right-wing states in the union

From Socialist Worker (US)
AUSTIN, Texas--Supporters of Palestinian rights organized a counter-protest to stand up to a misnamed "peace rally" called by Texans for Israel (TFI)--and the success of the show of solidarity for Palestine is spurring more activism.

The pro-Israel demonstration was called for the University of Texas' West Mall in the aftermath of Israel's 22-day onslaught against Gaza, which killed at least 1,300 Palestinians, including 438 children. The Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) organized a counter-demonstration.

TFI turned out about 50 demonstrators, including a speaker from the Israeli consulate in Houston. By comparison, the ranks of the counter-demonstration swelled to around 250, dwarfing the pro-Israel crowd with its miniature Israeli flags and paving the way for an eventual takeover of the stage. more

Latest from University of Rochester

Apparently the demands have already been met by the University - more when we get it.

Rochester, NY - 02/06/09-- Students from the University of Rochester and members of the local Rochester community will be occupying an academic building on campus today for peace and in solidarity with the people Gaza and in opposition to U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the recent atrocities in Gaza. The action, organized by U of R Students for a Democratic Society (UR-SDS), will begin on the afternoon of Friday, February 6 and will last until the University of Rochester administration meets the demands put forward. Community members are asked to arrive no earlier than 3pm.

The demands are:

1. Divestment: We demand the University of Rochester to adopt the "UR-Peaceful Investing Initiative" which institutes a peaceful investment policy to the university's endowment which includes divestment from corporations that manufacturer weapons and profit from war. (For example, the U of R invests in General Dynamics which manufactures weapons to maintain a 41-year occupation of the Palestinian territories and wars which slaughter Palestinian civilians by the 100s)

2. Humanitarian aid: We demand that the University of Rochester commit to a day of fundraising for humanitarian aid in Gaza within the next two weeks, as part of an ongoing commitment to provide financial support for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

3. Academic aid: We demand that the University of Rochester twin with the devastated Gaza University and provide the necessary academic aid (e.g., recycled computers, books, etc. ).

4. Scholarships: We demand that the University of Rochester grant a minimum of five scholarships to Palestinian students every year. more here

Statement of support for student occupations over Gaza from members of the UCU (university lecturers) union NEC

As members of the University and College Union National Executive Committee, we would like to send solidarity greetings to the students in the 17 universities who have occupied their universities in protest over the Gaza crisis. This is the largest wave of occupations for over a quarter of a century. Too often, the media seek to portray this generation of students as ones who do not share the aspirations of the 1968 generation – and deride you as, “Generation Apathy”. Your actions have decisively dispelled this myth.

Your demands to secure disinvestment by universities from companies involved in selling arms to Israel and free scholarships for students from Gaza show your humanity. You speak for the millions of young people throughout the world who are sick and tired of war and injustice, who simply desire a world in which the young grow up not knowing what it is like to kill and maim.

You are an inspiration to us all and we wish you every success and call upon all those who want a more peaceful world to support your action.

Signatories (all in a personal capacity)
Amanda Sackur
Maira Daley
Alan Whitaker
Maeve Landman
Brian Ingham
Maureen Henry-Johnson
Christine Vie
Malcolm Povey
David Swanson
Sasha Callaghan
Gavin Reid
Sean Vernell
James Eaden
Terry Brotherstone
Jim Guild
Tom Hickey
Jane Hardy
John Murphy
Karen Evans
Lynne Chamberlain
Mark Campbell

Student Gaza occupation gathering strength at Manchester University - send open letter to VC - still no news from Glasgow Uni

The waves of student occupations in solidarity with Gaza show no sign of stopping as Manchester university and Strathclyde university went into occupation this week.

Sundara, a student at Manchester university, told Socialist Worker, "This is the most exciting thing I've ever been involved in. I've never done anything like this before.

“We're having to make decisions very quickly and democratically. This mood has a lot of potential"

On Wednesday of this week around 500 students at Manchester University turned up to an emergency student general meeting to debate and vote on a motion resolving to support the people of Palestine and to pressure the university to divest its shares in arms companies...

Over 200 students went on to occupy the corridor outside the vice-chancellor’s office, refusing to move and discussing demands to put to the university...

Today, Friday, a second occupation started in the postal room within the same building. more and from the Manchester Uni occupation blog

Open letter to Vice Chancellor Alan Gilbert from the University of Manchester occupation in response to intimidation and refusal to open negoatiations:
Dear Mr. Gilbert,

As requested by you, the students occupying the administration corridor and the postal room have moved. Therefore, to continue our act of solidarity with Gaza, we are now occupying the Simon building.

You already know our demands. We honestly hope that now you can reconsider your, until now, very obstinate position.

In order for negotiations to continue we demand immediate free access for all those wishing to join us in our occupied space. Denying us this right, as you have seen, will only increase our determination. We will not bow to intimidation and we will not become isolated.

Tomorrow our supporters, together with the press, will gather outside the building to show their solidarity with us, our cause, and the people of Gaza.

You are also reminded that we have moved once, and can move again. Consider this just the beginning.

Yours sincerely,

The Manchester Uni Occupation link here

BBC's refusal has given Gaza appeal publicity - London Informer

Shame on the BBC as aid pours in from around the world.

Generators sent to Gaza by Turkey

Second batch of Chilean aid to Gaza arrives in Jordan - People's Daily Online

Israel bombs Gaza Strip tunnels

Israel determined to continue it's collective punishment of the Gazan
population. And now the UN is offering a helping hand by suspending
aid distribution - the last estimate was that 900,000 residents are
wholly dependent on UN aid.

Hundreds of University of Nottingham students in 'books not bombs' march for Gaza

From the Evening Post
UP to 250 students marched to call for the University of Nottingham to help the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

They chanted "books not bombs" as they marched from the Portland Building to the Trent Building. A minute's silence was observed before a letter was submitted to the university.

They want books to be sent to Gaza after its university was destroyed.

Protester Hicham Yezza, 30, a former student, said: "The situation in Gaza is so catastrophic that any help is welcome. We believe that as a university the obvious thing is books and educational equipment."

A university spokeswoman said: "The university has a long track record of helping Palestinian students and helping education in Gaza. We also endeavour to donate equipment in response to identified needs. We have a strong relationship with organisations supporting Palestinian students to undertake postgraduate study in the UK."