We’ve changed our name!

Posted in Organizing on July 22, 2009 by lamalucy

Formerly known as Idaho Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid, Voices for Palestine is working harder than ever to educate the Treasure Valley in an effort to end the occupation of Palestine.
Please go to our new site voicesforpalestine.wordpress.com
We will continue to meet weekly at Cup of Joe’s on Sundays at 6pm (Capitol and University). Join us!

“The peace process has been moving at the speed of a tortoise. Tonight, Netanyahu has flipped it over on its back.”

Posted in Organizing on June 14, 2009 by lamalucy

Israeli PM lays out peace terms

Israel’s settlement building has been a stumbling block to the peace process [AFP]

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has called for the creation of a demilitarised Palestinian state, saying that would be key to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

In his much-anticipated policy speech on Sunday, Netanyahu called for the immediate resumption of peace talks between the two sides.

“In my vision of peace, two people live in good neighbourly relations, each with their own flag … Neither threaten the other’s security,” he told his audience at Bar-Ilan University, outside Tel Aviv.

“In any peace agreement, the territory under Palestinian control must be disarmed, with solid security guarantees for Israel,” he said.

Netanyahu called for “immediate negotiations for peace without prior arrangements” from the Palestinians and said he was willing to meet Arab leaders anywhere to discuss the issue.

“I call the leaders of the Arab nations to co-operate with the Palestinians and with us on economic peace,” he said.

But the Palestinian authority reacted angrily to Netanyahu’s demands.

Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, dismissed the speech, saying: “Netanyahu’s remarks have sabotaged all initiatives, paralysed all efforts being made and challenges the Palestinian, Arab and American positions.”

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians senior negotiator, called on Obama to intervene to force Israel to abide by previous interim agreements that include freezing settlement activity in the West Bank.

“The peace process has been moving at the speed of a tortoise,” Erekat said. “Tonight, Netanyahu has flipped it over on its back.”
This is the first occasion that Netanyahu has endorsed the creation of a Palestinian state, but many see a disarmed Palestinian state as handing too much power to Israel.

“Netanyahu did not accept the principle of a two-state solution,” said Lamis Andoni, Al Jazeera’s Middle East analyst.

“He reduced the concept of a Palestinian state to that of a demilitarised entity that would remain under Israeli control.

“This is at best a formula to establish a Palestinian Bantustan that will not end the Israeli occupation but would legitimise Israeli control.”

‘Brothers and sisters’

Israel and the Palestinians relaunched peace negotiations at a US conference in November 2007, but the talks made little progress and were suspended during Israel’s war on Gaza in December and January.

The Palestinians have said that they will not restart negotiations unless Netanyahu publicly backs the two-state solution and stops the building of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land.

Netanyahu’s terms

A Palestinian state would be demilitarised

Palestinian refugees would be resettled outside of Israel

Jerusalem to remain undivided

Palestinians must recognise Israel as a Jewish state
In his speech, Netanyahu briefly defended Jewish settlers, a bloc from which he draws much support, calling them “our brothers and sisters”.

He also said there would be an end to new settlement building, but vowed that Jerusalem would remain undivided.

He called for Palestinians to recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

“Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people and so it shall remain,” he said.

Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem correspondent, said: “Significantly, it seems like the word ‘Palestinian state’ was something rather sour tasting that Netanyahu didn’t want to have in his mouth.

“It was only at a very late stage in the speech he actually said ‘we would be prepared to work towards a real peace agreement to establish an independent state living alongside Israel’, but only then if the Palestinians recognised Israel as a Jewish state and if the Palestinian state was to be completely demilitarised.

“So, heavy conditionality from an Israeli prime minister who didn’t seem to actually want to utter the word ‘state’ at all.”

‘Sad day’

Netanyahu’s speech had been heralded in Israel as a response to the address 10 days earlier by Barack Obama, the US president, to the Muslim world, in which he vowed to pursue a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Obama’s speech raised fears in Israel at the time that Washington might trim its support in a bid to improve its relations with the Muslim world.

“Ten days ago, when President Obama spoke, there was so much hope, there was so much vision. He spoke about Americas failings over the years … There was none of that in this speech,” he said.

“I think this is a sad day for the Jewish people, the Palestinian people, the Arab people, the Israeli people, because this speech does not bring us closer to peace.

“What it does is it lays down conditions. I guess it sets the tone that this is not the Israeli government that’s going to make peace … I think it’s a sad day for the peoples of the region.”

Hamas letter to Obama: “Visit our ground zero!”

Posted in Organizing on June 6, 2009 by lamalucy

[Introduction from Codepink, letter follows below..]

The Hamas government in Gaza reached out to President Obama on the occasion of his visit to the Middle East, announcing that Hamas was willing to talk to all parties “on the basis of mutual respect and without preconditions.” CODEPINK co founder Medea Benjamin, who carried the letter out from Gaza, said that the letter represented a significant development and an effort by Hamas to present a new face to the Western world. “While Osama bin Laden used the occasion of President Obama’s visit to deliver a scathing attack, Hamas reached out to a feminist U.S. peace group to deliver a letter to Obama urging dialogue, mutual respect and adherence to international law,” said Medea Benjamin.

In the letter, Hamas urged Obama to visit “our ground Zero” in Gaza and bring about a “paradigm shift” in the Israel-Palestine conflict based on enlightened world opinion and international law.

“This is a people who have just been subjected to a vicious attack that left over 1,300 dead and thousands wounded, and there is not a word here about armed resistance or Zionism. They are reaching out and actively seeking a resolution to the conflict based on the findings of the world’s leading international legal bodies and human rights organizations from the United Nations and the International Court of Justice to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. This is a major breakthrough and the U.S. government should take advantage to begin a dialogue with Hamas.”

The letter was signed by Ahmed Yusef, Deputy Foreign Minister and hand-delivered to Benjamin, who was in Gaza headed a 66-person delegation representing 10 nations. Benjamin and representatives of CODEPINK are delivering the letter to the U.S. Embassy in Cairo today, June 4, during Obama’s visit to Egypt.

The text of the letter is below.

Palestinian National Authority
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Deputy Office
Fax: +972 8 2868971
Tel: +972 8 2822937

His Excellency President Barack Obama,
President of the United States of America.

June 3rd 2009

Dear Mr. President,

We welcome your visit to the Arab world and your administration’s initiative to bridge differences with the Arab-Muslim world.

One long-standing source of tension between the United States and this part of the world has been the failure to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

It is therefore unfortunate that you will not visit Gaza during your trip to the Middle East and that neither your Secretary of State nor George Mitchell have come to hear our point of view.

We have received numerous visits recently from people of widely varied backgrounds: U.S. Congressional representatives, European parliamentarians, the U.N.-appointed Goldstone commission, and grassroots delegations such as those organized by the U.S. peace group CODEPINK.

It is essential for you to visit Gaza. We have recently passed through a brutal 22-day Israeli attack. Amnesty International observed that the death and destruction Gaza suffered during the invasion could not have happened without U.S.-supplied weapons and U.S.-taxpayers’ money.

Human Rights Watch has documented that the white phosphorus Israel dropped on a school, hospital, United Nations warehouse and civilian neighborhoods in Gaza was manufactured in the United States. Human Rights Watch concluded that Israel’s use of this white phosphorus was a war crime.

Shouldn’t you see first-hand how Israel used your arms and spent your money?

Before becoming president you were a distinguished professor of law. The U.S. government has also said that it wants to foster the rule of law in the Arab-Muslim world.

The International Court of Justice stated in July 2004 that the whole of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem are occupied Palestinian territories designated for Palestinian self-determination, and that the Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal.

Not one of the 15 judges sitting on the highest judicial body in the world dissented from these principles.

The main human rights organizations in the world, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have issued position papers supporting the right of the Palestinian refugees to return and compensation.

Each year in the United Nations General Assembly nearly every country in the world has supported these principles for resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict. Every year the Arab League puts forth a peace proposal based on these principles for resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Leading human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch have also stated that Israel’s siege of Gaza is a form of collective punishment and therefore illegal under international law.

We in the Hamas Government are committed to pursuing a just resolution to the conflict not in contradiction with the international community and enlightened opinion as expressed in the International Court of Justice, the United Nations General Assembly, and leading human rights organizations. We are prepared to engage all parties on the basis of mutual respect and without preconditions.

However, our constituency needs to see a comprehensive paradigm shift that not only commences with lifting the siege on Gaza and halts all settlement building and expansion but develops into a policy of evenhandedness based on the very international law and norms we are prodded into adhering to.

Again, we welcome you to Gaza which would allow you to see firsthand our ground zero. Furthermore, it would enhance the US position; enabling you to speak with new credibility and authority in dealing with all the parties.

Very Truly Yours,
Dr. Ahmed Yousef
Deputy of the Foreign Affairs Ministry

Street Theater

Posted in Events, Organizing on May 25, 2009 by lamalucy

Check out the pics from last week’s street theater performance!

Words from Palestine

Posted in Organizing on May 17, 2009 by lamalucy

An update from Bethlehem by Mazin Qumsiyeh

61 years ago today, the state of Israel unilaterally declared its independence after its ground forces have already been engaged in nearly 6 months of ethnic cleansing of the native population. The ethnic cleansing continued after the founding of the state (for a total of 530 villages and towns completely erased). We Palestinians refer to this as the Nakba (the Catastrophe of ethnic cleansing that preceded, accompanied and followed the founding of the Jewish state by force on Palestinian soil). After the last cease fire of 1949, Israel continued demolishing homes and destroying villages and towns. This received a spike after 1967 and the occupation of the remainder of Palestine. We are seeing today more of this process everywhere from the Galilee to Jerusalem to Bethlehem (where the foreign born “foreign minister of Israel” lives on Palestinian land) to the Negev where over 30 “unrecognized” villages are being targeted.

Nakba commemorations in Palestine this year were a bit more subdued because of the political schisms created in Palestinian society (thanks to Oslo accords). But they were traditionally filled with memories of refugees and with hopes and energy and aspiration of refugee children. Even the demonstrations against the wall today carried large keys symbolizing the right to return (e.g. in Bil’in).

And we must intensify the boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. They are growing. I was happy to see that even Israeli organizations have called for Norwegian divestment from Israeli companies and corporations. In an unprecedented way, a wide array of Israeli civil society and grassroots organizations has sent a letter to the Norwegian Pension Fund, addressed to its Council on Ethics, urging it to support their efforts for a just peace and equality in Israel/Palestine by divesting from all companies involved in the Israeli occupation. These Israeli organizations include feminist organizations and community centers, peace and human rights organizations, organizations concerned with civil rights and equality within the state of Israel and organizations dedicated to ending the occupation of Palestinian territories, to the benefit of all people living in Israel/ Palestine. More here:
http://coalitionofwomen.org/home/english/articles/norway-fund

http://pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=869

Commemorate Al Nakba: 61 years of Oppression

Posted in Organizing on May 6, 2009 by lamalucy


Upcoming events:

Thursday May 7th
Film showing: PARADISE NOW
Filmed in Palestine this drama explores the mind and emotions
of a suicide bomber- Q&A to follow. College of Idaho,
McCain Student Center, McCain Pub………. 6pm

Saturday May 9th
Street Theater at Camel’s Back Park
(near Hyde Park -North End)
Cardboard bulldozers and amateur actors depict
scenes of Israeli occupation……….. 2pm

Sunday May 10th
Palestinian Culture Fest
Join us for an afternoon of traditional food, drink, music and dance!
Maya’s House: 1409 E. Jefferson Boise, ID 83712 ……..4pm

Friday May 15th

Memorial Vigil in front of Boise City Hall
(Capitol and Main)
In memory of the 500 villages that were destroyed
on this day 61 years ago. Please wear black……… 5pm

Ethnic cleansing, one home at a time

Posted in Organizing on April 30, 2009 by lamalucy

Marcy Newman writing from occupied East Jerusalem, Live from Palestine, 21 April 2009

In the Sadiyya neighborhood inside the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City is the Jaber family home. There, three members of the Jaber family, as well as the Karaki family, have lived with their parents, and later spouses and children, since the 1930s. Like most homes inside the Old City, the residential space has an open center that is shared by those living inside.

Six years ago Israeli police came to the house and told Nasser Jaber that his house no longer belonged to his family, but rather to Israeli colonists from the right-wing Messianic settler organization Ateret Cohanim whose racist ideology is closely aligned with Kach, a political party that advocates the expulsion of Palestinians. But when the Israeli colonial court sent its police to investigate, the court decided that the home indeed belonged to the Jaber family. The scenario was repeated the following year, in 2004, when the judge came to investigate who the house belonged to. Once again after visiting the home and looking at the papers it was decided that the home belonged to the Jaber family. But the story did not end there.

On 2 April, while Nasser was visiting his mother in the nearby Wadi Joz neighborhood, 42 Israeli colonists from Ataret Cohanim, armed with M-16s, broke down the door of the house and confiscated the apartment inside belonging to Hazem Jaber. It was 2:30am and they were aided by Israeli special forces. The mosque in the neighborhood alerted families in the area and a fight ensued in the street. Twenty Palestinians, including women and children, were beaten up by special forces police and seven were arrested, including Nasser, his brothers, and his son. Sami al-Jundi, one of Nasser’s neighbors who was beaten up, observed, “They did not use live ammunition or tear gas bombs. Instead they beat us with batons and sprayed us with pepper spray. They know that if Palestinian blood spills in the streets of the Old City a third intifada will follow.”

Umm Alaa Jaber, who married into the family 55 years ago, whose wedding and the birth of her nine children took place in this very house, believes the struggle over her house and her neighborhood is about forcing them into submission. She remarked, “This is exactly like Gaza. Like Gaza happened here. Everyone who moves is beaten up. And the reason they beat the children is to make them afraid to fight against the occupation. Now they declare their hatred inside our house.” It has been especially difficult for the women of the Jaber and Karaki families, having to endure foreign men occupying their home and invading their privacy. Umm Alaa said their ordeal, “My eyes have become so tired from the tears. My heart, too.”

With two Israeli colonists already illegally occupying Palestinian homes a few doors down from the Jaber family, one house since the 1980s, Palestinians in the Sadiyya have been working together to ensure this will not be the fate of the Jaber family home. They were initially successful in kicking out the settlers from the house, but last week the court ruled that each family — the Jabers and the colonists — would be able to have guards in the house. Thus, Ateret Cohanim sent members of its private security company to guard Hazem Jaber’s apartment inside the house, armed with M-16s. Palestinians however are not legally allowed to own weapons nor are there any private Palestinian security companies that could protect the Jaber family. Although, according to the Jabers, the Israeli group Peace Now promised to send guards, the family says they have yet to follow through.

Nasser Jaber expected that his hearing in court last week would have reaffirmed that this house belongs to his family. Instead, the court date to render such a decision has been postponed to this week. This will be the third such court date that has postponed a decision since 2 April. For Nasser and his family, as well as people in the neighborhood, it is not just about his house. Nasser said, “When we talk about the situation in our house we are also talking about the situation in the whole country, in the village, in every house.”

Indeed, the Jaber family house is symbolic of the struggle to resist the ethnic cleansing practices of the Israeli colonial regime. Unlike the nearby Silwan or Sheikh Jarrah neighborhoods where hundreds of Palestinian families have received eviction notices — because their homes are slated for demolition so Israeli colonists may occupy their land — inside the Old City the pace of such creeping annexation is slower, but no less serious. In the Old City, as elsewhere, the court, the police and the colonists work as a team to further dispossess Palestinians. However, without a police force or a legal system to protect Palestinians in Jerusalem, and without the ability for most Palestinians to travel to their capital city, it is far more difficult for Palestinians to resist the takeover of their homes in the same coordinated fashion. Nevertheless, Palestinians in each of these neighborhoods under threat are determined to fight for their right to exist on their land.

What is significant about the Jaber family’s battle for their home is the way this fight is emblematic of the twin processes Israel has been using to Judaize the land: creeping annexation and delaying negotiations. Since Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip (as well as other Arab territories), the ethnic cleansing has been steady but slow, unlike the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in both 1948 and 1967. One house or neighborhood at a time, Palestinians are removed from their land. And just as the Jaber family finds the court continually delaying its decision about their home, for the last 16 years Palestinians have experienced the realities of the Oslo process as a delay process. Although to much of the world Oslo signifies a “peace process,” for Palestinians Oslo has meant an escalation of land confiscation among other things. Under Oslo Israel has continually delayed negotiating the core issues that would lead to a just solution, particularly regarding the right of return for Palestinian refugees and Jerusalem. Palestinians in the Sadiyya neighborhood know all too well that delay means that Israeli colonists use that process to establish further “facts on the ground.” But the residents of Sadiyya vow to continue their resistance to support their neighbors because they know this is not only a battle for the Jabers, but also for their city, and their country.

Dr. Marcy Newman is Associate Professor of English at An Najah National University in Nablus, Palestine. Her writing may be found at bodyontheline.wordpress.com.