Saturday, 6 August 2011

Video: US hip-hop star Lupe Fiasco speaks out in solidarity with Gaza

From The Electronic Intifada
Gaza Strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say shit

That lyric in Lupe Fiasco’s track “Words I Never Said” brought the Hip hop artist a lot of attention and new fans in the Palestine solidarity community.

The song was featured on his album Lasers which shot to the top of the Billboard 200 charts when it was released last March.

The lyric is a reference to US President Barack Obama’s silence throughout Israel’s 22-day bombardment of Gaza, during the last weeks of his transition to the presidency in January 2008.

What motivated Lupe to tackle the question of Palestine when virtually no other US artist with a mass following will touch the issue?

In a recent video interview with Sama’an Ashrawi, Lupe Fiasco spoke about his early education on Palestine. As a child the artist attended mosque, and had many friends in Chicago’s Southwest Side, where much of the city’s large Palestinian population is concentrated.

Lupe Fiasco is known for his progressive politics and lyrics expressing solidarity with struggles for justice in the United States and around the world.

For Ashrawi, a student at the University of Texas at Austin (UT), the interview brought together two passions – Palestine (where his father was born) and Hip Hop. Ashrawi is Director of Entertainment Programming for UT’s Texas Student Television and he also produces the station’s Hip Hop TV show, Longhorn Hip Hop.
Electronic Intifada link

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in occupied Palestine (28 July – 03 Aug 2011)

(pic: Fire breaks out in olive trees as Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters at peaceful demonstration against the annexation wall in Bil’ein village near Ramallah - pchr)

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Continue Systematic Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)

Two Palestinian civilians were killed and a third one was wounded by IOF in Qalandya refugee camp, south of Ramallah.

A Palestinian civilian was wounded by IOF in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli warplanes bombarded a tunnel at the Egyptian border in the southern Gaza Strip and a training site in the north.

IOF continued to use force against peaceful protests in the West Bank.
3 Palestinian civilians, including two children, were wounded.
IOF arrested 3 international human rights defenders.

IOF conducted 44 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
IOF arrested 21 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children and a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Israel has continued to impose a total siege on the OPT and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.

IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property. more

Three injured including a child after overnight airstrikes across Gaza

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israel's air force carried out three new raids on the Gaza Strip overnight, wounding three people, Palestinian witnesses and medics said on Friday. Two adults and a child were hurt when a training camp of the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, the military branch of Hamas that controls the tiny Palestinian coastal enclave, was hit in the north, the sources said. The Israeli army confirmed it had carried out air raids, saying they had targeted three tunnels and an operations base in the central Gaza Strip and a fourth target in the south. more

Soldiers at Gaza's Kerem Shalom crossing open fire from watchtower on houses and farmers

Gaza Strip, (Pal Telegraph)-Israeli soldiers stationed on observation towers around Karem Abu Salem crossing, in the east of Rafah city, opened massive fire at civilians' houses and agricultural lands in the areas of Aldhenah and Asshoka.

Witnesses told local sources that Israeli military towers built on the Palestinian territories started shooting at Palestinian houses close to the borders and also at farmers who were working in their fields without injuries reported.

Witnesses added that many Palestinian farmers were forced to leave their fields in order not to be hurt by Israeli intensive fire.

Israeli forces used to cross its borders with the besieged Gaza Strip and conduct provocative actions that risk the lives of hundred of Palestinians who have lived in that areas. more

Op-ed: one secular state in historic Palestine is the only viable solution for justice and peace

Mondoweiss brings to our attention this blog by Sam Bahour in the Guardian arguing for the abandonment of the two-states non solution in favour of the only viable route to peace and just, namely one secular state in historic Palestine in which Jews and Muslims (israelis and Palestinians) live side by side in equality.
The new Palestinian leaders, those whom the Israeli negotiators have not yet met, see the larger picture and refuse to believe that Israel desires to live in peace when every indication for 64 years has shown the opposite. The emerging Palestinian leaders see Israel for what it is: a settler, colonial, apartheid movement clinging to a racialist, exclusivist ideology that neither wishes nor intends to allow another state to emerge between the Mediterranean sea and the Jordan river, let alone allowing Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and be compensated for their hardships, as was stipulated as a condition when the UN accepted Israel as a member state on 11 May 1949.

Once this foredoomed move toward Palestinian membership in the UN runs its course, a new paradigm will take root, one that Israel dreads because it implicitly views Palestinians and Israelis as equals, as co-citizens, as partners. This new shift will see Palestinians dropping their desire for independent statehood in a fraction of their historic homeland and instead will find them, within a genuinely representative political structure, articulating their desire for self-determination within their historic homeland, even if that homeland today is called Israel.

The Palestinians are about to come full circle. They were correct, painfully so, to call for a secular democratic state at the outset of this conflict. Sadly, they wasted precious time and lost too many lives trying to accept unjust modalities of a resolution.

Now, the sooner Palestinians and Israelis realise that our destiny is to live together as equals, the sooner we can begin to rehabilitate our communities and build a single society whose citizens are all equal under law and equal as human beings. more

Netanyahu gives green light for building of 7,000 illegal settlement units in Jerusalem

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authorities are planning on carrying out plans to build 7,000 new settlement units in Jerusalem, Israeli media outlets have reported.

Construction plans in the occupied city have accumulated since US Vice-President Joe Biden last visited a year and a half ago.

Now plans to build 1,328 units in Ramat Shlom will be put to the expedited building committee formed by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in 60 days. These were the same plans that caused a crisis between the US and Israel during the Biden visit.

A local planning and construction board also approved 900 homes to be built in the Gilo settlement, and another plan under discussion by the expedited building board for 625 units in Pisgat Ze’ev is slated to begin taking effect.

Separately, 930 units have been approved to be built in Har Homa (Jabal Abu Ghneim) between Jerusalem and Bethlehem earlier this week.

Meanwhile, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton has condemned the recent approval of the Har Homa project, saying that she was ‘’disappointed’’ by the decision.

‘’The European Union has repeatedly urged the government of Israel to immediately end all settlement activities in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem. All settlement activities are illegal under international law,’’ she added in a statement. PIC

South African students back boycott of Israel as BDS campaign spreads in Africa

From BDS South Africa
South African student bodies slam "Israeli Apartheid Agents" and endorse nationwide Israel boycott

This afternoon at a joint press conference held at the student center of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, national representatives of the South African Union of Students (SAUS), the South African Student Congress (SASCO) and the Young Communist League (YCL) slammed the pending trip of "Israeli Apartheid agents" to South Africa.

The Israeli mission to South African campuses is expected to arrive on the 11th of August 2011. Palestinian students have written to South African peers asking them to challenge and boycott the Israeli delegation.

Today's press conference was hosted by South Africa's oldest, largest and most representative student bodies - the South African Students Congress*, the South African Union of Students** and the Young Communist League***. Furthermore, members of the University of Johannesburg and University of the Witwatersrand's Student Representative Councils were also present.

The joint press statement is produced below:

"We, students and youth of a post Apartheid South Africa, who bear the scars of a racist history and who continue to fight for complete liberation, have a duty and responsibility to stand in solidarity with those facing oppression worldwide. Israeli apartheid is one such form of oppression.

"Israeli media boast that a mission of 150 Israeli propagandists will be sent to universities in 5 countries to fix Israel's "serious image problems". The Israeli mission will begin on South African campuses on the 11th of August, with a delegation that includes at least two aides from the Israeli parliament. A delegation member was clear about the intention of their trip: "We have to create some doubt in their [South African students’] minds."

"Don’t patronize us! We lived apartheid, we suffered apartheid, we know what apartheid is, we recognise apartheid when we see it. And when we see Israel, we see a regime that practices apartheid. Israel’s image needs no changing; its policies do! We urge Israeli students to instead join the growing and inspiring internal resistance to their regime, particularly the boycott from within movement, rather than waste time and money on these propaganda trips to deceive us Black students, South Africans have no need for these Muldergate-like trips.

"A "major focus” of the Israeli trip will be the University of Johannesburg (UJ). On 1st April 2011 UJ's Senate, with the full backing of UJ's Student Representative Council, terminated its institutional relationship with Israel's Ben-Gurion University. Indeed, UJ set an academic boycott of Israel precedent that all other South African and international universities can follow.

"Following UJ’s decision, and in response to a letter sent to us by Palestinian students, we urge all SRCs, student groups and other youth structures to strategize and implement a boycott of Israel and its campaigns. We declare that all SA campuses must be Apartheid-Israel free zones.

"As with the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, international solidarity is key in overcoming Israeli Apartheid. In Nelson Mandela’s words: 'It behoves all South Africans, erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice….we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.'

A. On Education
1. The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories has had disastrous effects on access to education for Palestinians. Palestinian students face poverty, harassment and humiliation as a result of Israeli policy and actions.
2. Israel mounted direct attacks on Palestinian education, including the complete closures of two Palestinian universities in 2003 and the targeting and bombing of more than 60 primary and secondary schools during the Israeli attacks on Gaza in 2009.
3. Israel’s assault on the education of Palestinians is illegal under international law. The right to education is a fundamental human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments.
4. The Israeli blockade of Gaza has had a detrimental impact on students. Gaza’s electricity supply is controlled by Israel and shut-down for several hours most days, making it difficult for students to study. Moreover, the blockade means insufficient quantities of educational equipment, such as paper, desks and books, reach students.

B. On Israeli Apartheid
5. Several of our senior leaders have compared Israel to Apartheid South Africa, including Comrades Kgalema Mothlantle, Blade Nzimande, Zwelinzima Vavi, Rob Davies, Jeremy Cronin, Ahmed Kathrada, Winnie Mandela, Ronnie Kasrils, Denis Goldberg, the late Kader Asmal and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
6. Both the former and current United Nations Special Rapporteurs for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories have requested that Israel be investigated for the crime of apartheid.
7. In an official report commissioned by the South African government in 2009, the Human Sciences Research Council confirmed that Israel, by its policies and practices, is guilty of the crime of apartheid.
8. In November 2010, South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation called upon the Israeli government “to cease their activities that are reminiscent of apartheid forced removals…”

C. On Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)
8. Palestinian civil society, including student groups, have called for a policy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel until it abides by international law.
9. This call has the endorsement of the largest and most representative coalition of civil and political society in Palestine. The call also has the support of a growing number of progressive Israeli groups.
10. In 2010, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Professor Richard Falk, said: “It is politically and morally appropriate, as well as legally correct, to accord maximum support to the BDS campaign.”
11. COSATU, South Africa’s largest trade union federation was one of the first unions to endorse the BDS call. Subsequently, numerous other international trade unions have also adopted a pro-BDS position.
12. Several international groups have began to advance the BDS call in the cultural, consumer, sports, economic and academic spheres. Earlier this year the largest student union in Europe, the ULU, passed a motion in support of BDS."

South African Union of Students, South African Student Congress, Young Communist League of South Africa

Themba Masondo +27 (0) 791993421 -
Mbuyiseni Ndlozi +27 (0) 11 7174450 -
Kate Joseph +27 (0) 722299613 -
Muhammed Desai +27 (0)842119988 -

* The South African Student Congress (SASCO) is South Africa's oldest and largest student organization.
** The SA Union of Students (SAUS) comprises all South African university Student Representative Councils and is the most representative student union in the country.
*** The Young Communist League of South Africa (YCL) has local branches at all South African universities

BDS South Africa

Explosive device detonated near Gaza police station, no casualties reported

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- An explosive device detonated Friday near a Palestinian police station, officials said.

Police in Gaza opened an investigation into the explosion next to a street vender's stand in Deir Al-Balah, authorities said.

Late last month, an explosive charge blew off the front of a mini market in central Jabaliya refugee camp, causing extensive damage to the store and nearby residences. Security forces said they were investigating. more