Stephen Zunes : Israel and Palestine
The California State Assembly has just passed a bipartisan resolution (HR 35) by voice vote which constitutes a serious attack on academic freedom and the rights of students and faculty to raise awareness about human rights abuses by U.S.-backed governments. While purporting to put the legislature on record in opposition of anti-Semitism on state university campuses, it defines anti-Semitism so widely as to include legitimate political activities in opposition to Israeli government policies.
On August 28, an Israeli court rejected a civil lawsuit against Israeli occupation forces for the 2003 murder of Rachel Corrie, a 23-year old American peace activist killed in the Gaza Strip, upholding a severely flawed internal Israeli military investigation.
Amnesty International strongly condemned the decision, noting how “the verdict continues the pattern of impunity for Israeli military violations against civilians and human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). The verdict shields Israeli military personnel from accountability and ignores deep flaws in the Israeli military’s internal investigation of Corrie’s death.”
In response to ongoing violations of international law and basic human rights by the rightist Israeli government of Benyamin Netanyahu in the occupied West Bank and elsewhere, there has been a growing call for divestment of stocks in corporations supporting the occupation. Modeled after the largely successful divestment campaign in the 1980s against corporations doing […]
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed a dangerous piece of legislation (H.R. 4133) which would undermine the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, weaken Israeli moderates and peace advocates, undercut international law, further militarize the Middle East, and make Israel ever more dependent on the United States. The margin was an overwhelming 411-2, with eight abstentions. […]
From the Vietnam War to the Central American revolutions to apartheid South Africa to the East Timor occupation to the invasion of Iraq, university campuses have been an important venue for concerned scholars and activists to raise issues regarding human rights, international law and US foreign policy.
However, in an effort to stifle this tradition, University of California President Mark Yudof has launched a campaign targeting human rights activists and others challenging the Israeli occupation and colonization of the West Bank and other policies of the right-wing US-backed Israeli government.
Ten years ago this month, following a particularly deadly series of Palestinian terrorist attacks, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched an assault on several Palestinian cities and refugee camps in the West Bank. The Bush administration largely supported the Israeli offensive, even as hundreds of civilians were killed and thousands of young men were detained without charge amid widespread reports of torture.
For those of us who hoped that President Barack Obama would usher in a new era supporting international law, the United Nations, and Israeli-Palestinian peace, 2011 proved to be a profoundly disappointing year.
An ad on my Facebook page from barackobama.com reads, “Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Newt Gingrich say they would start foreign aid to Israel at zero. Reject their extreme plan now!”
This struck me as odd for two reasons:
First, it is disingenuous and misleading. The actual position taken by these Republican presidential candidates is that all foreign aid should initially start at zero as means of reducing the deficit, to be immediately followed by the resumption of aid on a case-by-case basis. As they themselves have acknowledged, they would immediately resume aid to Israel and perhaps even increase it. Ironically, U.S. “aid for Israel” goes almost exclusively to U.S. arms manufacturers, with which the Republican candidates have a close relationship.
The Palestinians declared an independent state back in 1988, which has been recognized by more than 130 of the world’s nations. The Obama administration, however, insists that it is still too early for Palestine to be admitted into the United Nations.
During the Bush administration, I wrote more than a dozen annotated critiques of presidential speeches. I have refrained from doing so under President Barack Obama, however, because – despite a number of disappointments with his administration’s policies — I found his speeches to be relatively reasonable. Although his September 21 address before the UN General Assembly contained a number of positive elements, in many ways it also contained many of the same kind of duplicitous and misleading statements one would have expected from his predecessor.