October 6 – 9, 2007
New Madison Events with Jeff Halper of ICAHD

Saturday, October 6, 7:30 – 10:00 pm
Middleton
Houseparty Fundraiser with Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). Goal to raise $5000 to rebuild one Palestinian house. At a private home in Middleton — please contact rafahsistercity (at) yahoo.com for info and directions.

Sunday, October 7, 2:00 pm
Memorial United Church of Christ, 5705 Lacy Road, Fitchburg
Build Peace, Build Houses, Stop Home Demolitions: Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) will speak on where the Israeli “Matrix of Control” is taking the Israel/Palestine conflict. Find out how you can help ICAHD-USA “Construct Peace” by rebuilding all Palestinian homes demolished this year by the Israeli army. Co-sponsors: Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Jewish Voice for Peace/Madison, Memorial UCC, UW Middle East Studies Dept, Havens Center. More info at madisonrafah.org or 215-9157.

Sunday, Oct. 7, 7:00 pm
Jeff is scheduled to be interviewed live on Forward Forum, Madison 1670 The Pulse. Call in at 321-1670. You can listen live to streaming audio at WTDY.com, and outside the Madison area the toll free number is 877-867-1670. The program will be available starting Monday on podcast.

Monday, October 8, 12:00 pm
Jeff will appear live on WORT Radio’s A Public Affair with Allen Ruff from 12 noon to 1 pm (89.9 FM, call in at 256-2001).

Monday, October 8, 7:30 pm
UW-Madison Campus, 2120 Grainger Hall, 975 University Ave. (corner of Brooks and University)
Israel/Palestine: Countdown to Apartheid? Jeff Halper of ICAHD will discuss whether Bush’s planned November DC “summit” on Israel/Palestine offers hope for peace, or will further consolidate Israel’s occupation into a permanent political reality similar to apartheid South Africa. Co-sponsors: Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Jewish Voice for Peace/Madison, Memorial UCC, UW Middle East Studies Dept, Havens Center. See mideast.wisc.edu or call 265-6583 for location.

Tuesday, October 9, 12:00 pm
Foreign Policy Action Summit, Washburn Heritage Room, Regina Hall, Edgewood College
Jeff will join Tom Melville and George Mische to discuss the disastrous effects and connections between US foreign policy in Central America and the Middle East. Members of the Catonsville 9, who burned draft records in 1968, Melville and Mische have dedicated their lives to peace work in Central America and the U.S. Melville, a cultural anthropologist and ex-Maryknoll priest in Guatemala, is also the author of Through a Glass Darkly: US Holocaust in Central America. For more information, call 233-7004.

Tuesday, October 9, 7:00 pm
Wilmar Neighborhood Center, 953 Jenifer St., Madison
Jeff will be participating in a discussion at the regular meeting of the Madison Area Peace Coalition (MAPC). He will present material on Israel’s role in the global weapons trade and in U.S. power projection around the world. This will cover new material in a participatory session with all interested activists.

Civil Society and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Beneath the Hideous Veneer of ‘Security’

Jennifer Loewenstein, CounterPunch, 23 september, 2007

On January 26th 1976 the United Nations Security Council debated a resolution (S11940) introduced by Jordan, Syria and Egypt that included all the crucial wording of UNSC resolution 242. It accepted the right of all states in the region to exist within secure and recognized borders while re-emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force. This resolution added for the first time, however, what was missing from 242: recognition of Palestinian national rights. The phrase “all states” was taken to include a new Palestinian state in the occupied territories.

Israel was, of course, invited to attend the session but refused, preferring instead to have a national tantrum that included bombing Lebanon the same day, killing about 50 people ­in all likelihood a typical “in your face” message to the UN and the world. Unsurprisingly the US vetoed the resolution causing the PLO, which was present at the session, to speak of the “tyranny of the veto.” As with similar resolutions since this one, the overwhelming majority of the world’s nations supported it. The two nations that have consistently opposed this and comparable resolutions were the United States and Israel thereby establishing the well-known pattern of rejectionism that persists to this day. As a result, resolutions such as S11940 have vanished from the historical record despite its significance in marking the first time a UN resolution explicitly recognized the inalienable national rights of the people of Palestine.

In the debate leading up to the vote on this resolution, one of the participants remarked that the problem of Palestine is at the heart of the Middle East conflict and must be resolved….We are sorry that Israel stayed away from the debate and has instead been [wreaking] havoc all over and hurling defiance against the alleged bias of the United Nations. In truth it is Israel which is maintaining, by the use of force, and [which] wishes to be left alone to continue, its occupation of the territories of its Arab neighbors. Persistence in this policy of tone and diktat can only breed more violence, engender further bitterness, and make ever more remote the prospect of the peace and cooperation which the Israeli government professes to be seeking and which all the peoples of the Middle East desire and need. (M. Akhund; representative of Pakistan; in transcript of debate following introduction of resolution. S/PV.1879 of 26 January 1976. UNISPAL home; See also: UN DPI multimedia: United Nations. Thirty-first year; 1879th meeting.)

Reading these words, I was struck by a sense of déjà vu and had to double check the source to certify that they were in fact spoken 31 years ago. Unfortunately, however, although the similarities with present day circumstances are remarkable, the situation that we face vis a vis the Palestinian issue today is far more serious.

Noam Chomsky’s response to my upbeat description of last year’s UN’s Conference in Geneva on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was that if things did not soon improve on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territories, the next such conference “would be a wake.” It was a sobering reminder of just how dire the situation has become; how, in Chomsky’s words we are currently witnessing an event almost unprecedented in the modern era: the systematic, deliberate and long-term destruction of an entire nation.

As activists and representatives of civil society NGOs concerned with what is happening in Israel-Palestine, we know the importance of maintaining a realistic level of optimism; of dogged persistence even in the face of what seem to be insurmountable obstacles. I have not given up that hope, nor ­I suspect-have any of you, which is why we are here today.

Nonetheless as important as solidarity work is for us and for the continuation of efforts to effect change in the circumstances facing millions of Palestinians in the territories and beyond, none of us is deluded enough to believe that a Just Peace is at hand. With every killing, every maiming, every act of state-sponsored terror, every home demolition, every arrest, every confiscation of property, resources and identity, every closure, checkpoint, permit, roadblock, or concrete slab put into place along the serpentine Wall that is devouring Palestinian land in its path, Palestine is rendered increasingly invisible, buried behind euphemisms and peace scams ­ a non-entity for non-persons whose continuation as one of the many nations populating the globe today is seriously threatened.

(1) In trying to assess how we can put a stop to this devastating dynamic I came up with three pre-conditions that are necessary before we can even begin a process leading to a just settlement. First and foremost is to demand an end to Israeli crimes. These include, most significantly today, its bloody and sadistic torture of Gaza, but also its continued territorial expansion which it has no intention of ending, an end to atrocities against the people of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, recognition of the right of Palestinians to have free elections ­meaning, in this case, the recognition of Hamas and the establishment of dialogue with it and all other Palestinian political factions regardless of whether or not we like them; the release of Palestinian Parliamentarians taken hostage beginning in the summer of 2006; the release of thousands of prisoners and illegal detainees whose only “crime” was resistance to an illegal occupation.

I should add here that on December 7th, 1987 the United Nations General Assembly passed UN resolution 42/159 which, among other things, authorized peoples living under occupation regimes the right to resist. This is yet another piece of the historical documentary record conveniently forgotten lest it be used to support Palestinian and other just causes.

To reiterate: it is crucial that all of Israel’s ongoing crimes against the Palestinian nation cease; that we in civil society and in world organizations such as the United Nations and the European Union so allegedly concerned with the adherence to and principles of international law take it upon ourselves to enforce it or soon, with regard to Palestine, there will be nothing left to talk about.

(2) The second pre-condition is that the Quartet, which includes the United Nations and the European Union, publicly acknowledge the international consensus as it has existed since January 26th, 1976 and was broadened by the 2002 Arab League Summit in Beirut to include full normalization of relations, in return for Israel’s compliance with international law. As mentioned, however, this consensus has been systematically and often hysterically rejected by the US and Israel whereas virtually all other concerned parties, including Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas, have ­contrary to what the American media would have us believe-explicitly accepted it.

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Three projects in Palestine

This is a special appeal on behalf of three projects in Palestine:

    (1) Save Gaza's pilot project on Sustainable Gardens in Gaza, including Rafah;

    (2) The Rebuilding Alliance's West Bank "Abir's Garden" playground project (note September 16 deadline for fund raising contest; and

    (3) Fida Qishta's Rafah Life Maker's Children's Center.

Please send your donations directly to each group as noted, and not to MRSCP. One project is currently tax-deductible, two are not. As always, thanks for your support.

Brothers in Arms: The Triumph of U.S.-Israeli Policy in Palestine

Jennifer Loewenstein, The Progressive, June 26, 2007

Contrary to the many claims that the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip represents the failure of US and Israeli policies in Palestine, the violent civil infighting that has dominated the Gaza Strip over much of the last year and a half and that led directly to the Hamas coup of June 2007 marks yet another major foreign policy victory for the occupiers. Hamas will never be allowed to remain in power in Gaza so we must fear for the future of that tiny, desperately overcrowded strip of land and its 1.4 million inhabitants; additionally, Abbas – in order to maintain his role as “Good Guy”— will have to accede to the dictates of Israel and the United States or suffer the same fate as his predecessor, Yassir Arafat.

Western nations are standing by in silence as the deadly siege of Gaza and the dismemberment of the West Bank continue unabated. What we are witnessing in full view each day are unprecedented steps taken by the world’s only superpower and its favorite client state, Israel, to ensure the death of a nation. While friction between the two key political factions in the occupied Palestinian territories has long undermined the smooth functioning of internal affairs, it was the direct, cynical involvement of US and Israeli policy-makers in these affairs that guaranteed the breakdown of internal stability and paved the way for the Hamas “coup” in Gaza.

Media reports have been careful to leave out important facts leading up to the coup such as that Hamas was the legitimate, democratically elected ruling party in the Palestinian territories following the January 2006 Palestine Legislative Council elections; that it was the US-Israeli dismissal of those election results that fueled the civil infighting between Hamas and Fatah; that obvious US backing of Fatah against Hamas helped create popular mistrust of Fatah increasing Hamas’ popularity in Gaza and leading directly to Hamas’ takeover of the Fatah military apparatus in the Gaza Strip. In other words, there were real and understandable reasons for the coup. But in the end, Hamas’ seizure of the power that it should have had in the first place ends up serving the interests not only of Mahmoud Abbas and the warlord Muhammad Dahlan. It also provides the perfect opportunity for US-Israeli policy in the region to move forward with even fewer objections, if that is possible to imagine, than have heretofore been made. Who will stand up for a “terrorist organization that seeks the destruction of Israel”? The line has been beaten into our heads with every mention of the word “Hamas” for years. We should not expect a change in the behavior of the American public or of other western audiences until, when Israel is mentioned, we immediately say to ourselves, “a terrorist state that seeks the destruction of Palestine.” Seeks and is succeeding in it.

II

Watching the barbarous killing between brothers in Gaza, a power struggle between rival factions seething in frenzy like the great prison in which they thrive, Israeli and American political analysts can rest their cases with confidence. Across the spectrum of debate, these experts can expect vindication by the media juries which, in sanctimonious indignation at the brutality meted out by partisans of Fatah or Hamas, have assembled all the “evidence” they need to justify our righteous war against Muslim-Arab terrorists and their internecine blood feuds.

That the US has temporarily chosen a weak, compliant leader, Mahmoud Abbas, and the power thirsty warlord, Muhammad Dahlan, to back during the bitter strife between key Palestinian factions testifies not to a belief that one side is trustworthy and deserves our support, but rather to the ease with which the Americans and their clients pick and choose their pawns in their bitter regional cockfights. Today’s statesmen were yesterday terrorists, their titles dependent on the needs of the superpower and its clients: Yesterday Fatah was on the US State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations and its leader, Yassir Arafat, was a declared “terrorist,” “irrelevant,” and exiled in his presidential compound in Ramallah until his mysterious death. Fatah’s military wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades is still listed as a foreign terrorist organization. Neither of these factors apparently bothers the current leadership, which understands that power and prestige are most easily acquired and unchallenged when bequeathed from above.

Truth be told, the Abbas/Dahlan alliance elicits far greater contempt in the eyes of the masters than the more independent and genuine resistance faction headed by Hamas. The numerous meetings and photo-ops between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas, and US President George Bush and Abbas, are little more than tactical stunts to make it look as though genuine negotiations are taking place. In fact, Abbas has been repeatedly bypassed and shunned when Israeli and US negotiators make the real policy decisions—decisions that remain one-sided and dismissive of any demands (other than those that are entirely self-serving) that Abbas and his entourage have made. The arms and funding channeled through Abbas’ Fatah (for his clique represents only one of the many spin-off Fatahs that emerged during the secondIntifada) signify little more than the conduit through which US-Israeli policies can be secured. For all the claims about US backing of Fatah, neither Abbas nor Dahlan have yet to benefit on the ground from this “support.” Indeed, the ease with which Hamas was able to wrest control of Gaza indicates just how little US support for Fatah was worth there. Nevertheless, the same pipeline of support for “Fatah” has done a great deal to bolster perceived US and Israeli national security interests in the same region.

III

Once again the pictures on our television screens in our newspapers are intended to suffice for missing substance. The context of empire is invisible or deliberately obscured –in Palestine as in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere. If the takeover of Gaza by Hamas was unanticipated, its success was a gift of immeasurable value to the overlords, a welcome but unforeseen consequence of fueling divisions among a weakened and oppressed people, undermining any steps toward positive change. Abbas and his underlings have foolishly offered up Palestine cut in two to the occupation regime that worked so hard to end the charade of a single Palestine to begin with. This was a coup for Israel in its ongoing quest for regional hegemony, and a triumph for America’s “War on Terror.” For all the talk about a one-, two- or bi-national state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict, the reality is that no state solution for Palestine is on the near or distant horizon. Palestine is a series of disconnected pieces whose division into still smaller parts continues month after month.

Those fretting about a “Hamastan” in the Gaza Strip ought to be worried not about its viability or longevity or about whether or not Islamic law and social mores will be imposed. Hamas’ presence in Gaza will be but a short-lived, transitory phenomenon entirely at the mercy of the US-backed Israeli military, which has not left Gaza alone for a single day since Hamas’ coming to power despite a yearlong ceasefire called by its leaders and scrupulously observed. Those concerned about a Hamas-controlled Gaza ought instead to be wondering how they are going to justify Hamas’ destruction within the Strip and all the suffering, chaos and death that will ensue over the shameful silence of the international community.

IV

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Bush badly botches Mideast conflict [the progressive view]

John Nichols, Capital Times, June 20, 2007

The tragedy of Washington’s narrow “debate” about the Middle East is that few American political players are willing to comment in a serious manner about the fact that George Bush’s mishandling of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has done more than money or guns to advance the cause of the Islamic fundamentalists who now control the Gaza Strip.

Disengaged when engagement was called for, meddling when a hands-off approach would have been wiser, and always staggeringly ignorant — remember Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s shock when Hamas won the Palestinian elections early in 2006? — the Bush administration’s approach has been so disastrous that the International Crisis Group’s Robert Malley is being generous when he says “almost every decision the United States has made to interfere with Palestinian politics has boomeranged.”

Almost? Let’s be realistic. Hamas had expanded far beyond its fundamentalist base to draw significant support from Palestinians who simply wanted an end to the corruption of the rival and more secular Fatah group. Bush and Rice responded by throwing U.S. support fully behind Fatah.

The point of the U.S. maneuvering was to isolate and destroy Hamas. According to a recent report in London’s Guardian newspaper, the U.N. Mideast envoy, Alvaro de Soto, confirmed that the U.S. pressured Mahmoud Abbas to refuse Hamas’ initial invitation to form a “national unity government.”

The strategy was a miserable failure. The Bush administration only strengthened the hand of militant factions within Hamas.

This should not surprise anyone. In February 2006, former President Jimmy Carter, whose expertise on the Mideast is respected almost everywhere but in the U.S., warned, “My concern is that in order to try, on behalf of the United States and Israel, to punish Hamas, we’ll actually going to be punishing the Palestinian people who are already living in deprivation. And it’s going to turn the Palestinian people even more against the West and against Israel, against us and make Hamas seem to be, you know, their only friend.”

The fact that Carter’s warnings proved to be prescient will not earn him any forgiveness from his critics. Even the urgency of the moment is unlikely to bring much improvement in the quality of the debate about Bush’s failed Mideast policies. Carter tried, and he was ridiculed, smeared and dismissed for doing so.

It is this reality that has led most prominent political players in the U.S. — especially those seeking the presidency — to avoid saying much of consequence about the administration’s monumental Mideast blunders.

There are, of course, exceptions. One presidential candidate, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, is wading into the thick of the debate. “The chaos and factional violence in Gaza that ultimately led to the Hamas military takeover of the Presidential Compound and the National Security Guard building demonstrates a failure of President Bush’s strategy in matters relating to Hamas,” says Kucinich.

Picking up on Carter’s assessment, the congressman adds, “The humanitarian, economic and political boycott imposed on the elected Hamas government were meant to force Hamas to accept U.S. and Israeli conditions or alternatively to force it out of power. The boycott has accomplished neither goal and instead has created a severe humanitarian crisis that is now marred by political factionalism, violence, and unrest.”

Give Kucinich credit for recognizing the crisis on the ground. As the congressman notes, since the suspension of aid to the Palestinian Authority began in April 2006, the number of Palestinians living in abject poverty has risen to more than a million. And a Palestinian Authority budget that was once $1.5 billion annually has shrunk to $500 million, making it impossible to maintain basic services.

Kucinich is calling on Congress to pressure the Bush administration to:

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