Monday, 19 September 2011

'Irvine 11' trial shows US persecuting Muslim students for organising non-violent protest


An important trial is taking place today in the US. Eleven students face jailtime for organising a non-violent protest against an Israeli official. Electronic Intifada has the backstory here.
As The Electronic Intifada has reported, the students — all of them Muslim — interrupted a speech at UC Irvine given by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren in which he defended Israel’s attacks on Gaza in the winter of 2008-09. Approximately 1,400 Palestinians, including several hundred children, were killed in the 22-day assault on Gaza. During Oren’s speech, the students stood up one by one and directly confronted his defense of Israeli policies in Gaza and called him a war criminal.

Following their protest, the Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) office launched an unprecedented series of investigations against the students and is seeking criminal charges against them on two misdemeanor counts — each holding a maximum prison sentence of one year. more
Follow @intifadaLive on Twitter on the latest from the court room.

US Students for Justice in Palestine to hold first national conference this October


From Mondoweiss

Please support the first Students for Justice in Palestine national conference. This kind of campus organizing is vital, and these students need your financial support to make the conference a reality.

by TANYA KEILANI

As a daughter of Palestinian refugees waiting to return to their birthplaces for 63 years – and as a student activist – I have seen real changes in the landscape of campus debate and rhetoric when it comes to Palestinian rights.

Having spent the years of my undergraduate and graduate education as an organizer in student groups for Palestine, I can tell you that our membership has expanded to include people not traditionally involved in Palestine solidarity activism, that the number of Students for Justice in Palestine chapters nationwide has increased and that communication between these groups has grown accordingly.

The impact of these changes will be made all the more tangible this fall. After months of planning, members of SJP chapters from across the US will meet in New York City for an unprecedented event: the first ever National SJP Conference. We aim to emerge from this conference with a more fully developed student movement.

The time could not be more appropriate to build upon our new-found unity and strength. Our student movement continues to gain ground alongside the international BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement despite efforts by powerful institutions and organizations that work to stifle open debate and the free exchange of ideas both internationally and at the university.

In that spirit, this conference will provide a forum in which students can collaboratively develop the tools to defend their right to express their views on campus through workshops geared toward educational and political development, skill sharing, campaign building and strengthening our movement. Speakers will include high-profile academics and practitioners who will share their experience and their thoughts about how solidarity works and how students can best identify and address the injustices faced by the Palestinians.

Growing up, I recall my parents warning me not to tell people that I was Palestinian. If anyone asked, I was Jordanian. But everything told me I was from Palestine – my mother’s narratives of her family’s pre-1967 visit to her father’s farmland (also her birthplace) in what is now Israel (after ‘67 Israel made it impossible for us to visit this now-colonized land), old family photographs, my father’s expertise at making Nabulsi knafeh, and of course, that fact that half of my family still lives on the land.

Today, I’m no longer afraid of celebrating the identity of my family or defending their right to live with sovereignty on the lands in which they were born for fear of persecution. I am grateful for the work of generations of activists whose efforts have brought greater attention to the question of Palestine. Now in my adulthood, I know I’m not alone.

As a student in 2011, I can speak to the diversity of our movement. We are not all Palestinian, but we all are committed to justice. Multiple inspirations guide our commitment: those working for immigrant rights see the Palestinian refugee crisis reflected in their own struggles; ex-military know the horrors of war and occupation firsthand; young Jews and Israelis understand that Judaism and Zionism are not synonymous and are unwilling to have atrocities committed in their name; Americans refuse to contribute billions of their tax dollars to fund occupation; and those from previously colonized countries acknowledge that colonialism is alive and well and that it is their moral responsibility to oppose all forms of colonialism.

SJP members do their work fully aware that the opposition is funded, staffed and trained. We've seen fellow students receive paid fellowships to represent the Israeli state on our campuses and the Israeli government has funded groups and IDF soldiers to tour US schools in order to sway students their way. But even as SJP members scramble to make ends meet financially and lack externally-published handbooks telling us how to conduct campus activism (ADL, AIPAC, WUJS, etc.), Zionist groups are no match for us.

The national conference is a huge undertaking for all of us, and we hope you will all find the time to invest in those who are investing in our futures. Our student groups lack resources and funds; so, we need your help to bring students to the conference and to help cover the expenses that an event like this requires. We are reaching out to you, our allies, to help make this conference a reality. The more you help us raise, the more we are able to help students pay for their travel and to ensure that their conference experience is as accommodating and powerful as we envision.

Please click here to make a tax-deductible donation.

If you would like to attend the conference or read more about it, see our website.

Don't forget to visit our Facebook page and pass this information on to any and all in the Palestine solidarity community.

Tanya Keilani is a member of Columbia University Students for Justice in Palestine and the National SJP Conference Organizing Committee.
Thanks to Mondoweiss

Israel to build 10 new settlements in the Negev after displacing 10,000 Bedouin


The Israeli government is planning to approve a new project that aims at building 10 new Jewish-only settlements in the Negev, by displacing thousands of Bedouins from the area.

The project was described as the largest in recent years, and was formulated by the office of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Ministry of Housing.

The plan also calls for establishing suburban settlements in Arad area in the Negev, the Arabs48 news website reported.

Green parties and environmental groups in Israel protested the plan, and said that existing settlements in the Negev should be expanded instead of conducting new constructions.

The plan is said to include a project that aims at moving military bases from the center of the country to the Negev, and constructing houses for regular soldiers and their families.

The Arabs48 added that the project will be submitted for approval in the coming few weeks, and that the 10 new settlements would include nearly 1500 units, including units in Heran and Yateer settlements that were previously approved as part of the new “structural and development” plan in the Negev.

Last week, the Israeli government approved a plan to evacuate 30.000 Bedouins living in “unrecognized villages” in the Negev by relocating most them to other existing villages such as Rahat, Kaseefa and Houra.

Israel is also planning to evacuate the Arab village of Um Al Heran in the Negev, in order to construct the Heran Jewish settlements in its place.

There are 40 “unrecognized villages” in the Negev, inhibited by more than 75.000 persons, the Arabs48 said.

With the adoption of the Israeli "Planning and Construction Law" in 1965, Israel refused to recognize the existence 45 Arab-Bedouin villages in the Negev.

The majority of the villages existed at the time of the creation of Israel in 1948 and some were established in the early 1960’s when Israel evacuated Bedouins from northern Negev to the south of Beersheba.

On Sunday, September 11, Israeli cabinet ministers approved a plan based on the “Prawer Report”, involving the forced removal of 30.000 Arab Bedouin villages in the Negev. more

Three missing and two injured after second Gaza tunnel accident in two days


Gaza Strip, (Pal Telegraph)-Two Palestinians were injured and three remained missing on Monday when a cooking gas cylinder exploded inside a smuggling tunnel beneath Gaza-Egypt borders, according to local sources.

Medical sources confirmed that two Palestinians were moved to the hospital to receive medical treatment due to injuries and burns sustained their bodies.

Medical teams continued searching for the three missing Palestinians.

The ambulance and emergencies committee in Gaza Strip announced yesterday the death of One Palestinian identified as Jihad Irbati after a smuggling tunnel collapsed over him.

Hundreds of Palestinians were injured or killed in similar tunnel accidents since Israeli occupation has imposed a suffocated siege for more than five years. more