9 Questions for the U.S. Government on the Middle East:

Saudi Arabia:  U.S. intelligence cooperation

Is the U.S. providing intelligence to the Government of Saudi Arabia that can be used by Saudi Arabian authorities to violate the human rights of peaceful reformers and critics?

Saudi Arabia:  Prisoners of Conscience

What steps is the U.S. government taking to secure the release of prisoners of conscience like Raif Badawi from Saudi Arabia’s prisons?

Israel:  

What steps is the U.S. taking to prevent the Government of Israel from using U.S. arms to commit human rights violations against Palestinian civilians living under Israeli occupation?

Syria: Refugee resettlement

There are now 4 million Syrian refugees.  Over the last four years, the U.S. has only resettled a few hundred Syrian refugees.  How many Syrian refugees does the U.S. expect to permanently resettle in the U.S. in 2015?

Syria/Iraq:  U.S. military assistance

How will the U.S. prevent U.S. military assistance in Iraq and Syria from facilitating more war crimes and human rights abuses?
What steps is the U.S. taking to protect Sunni communities from abuses by Shi’a militias affiliated with the Iraqi government?

Syria/Iraq:  U.S. air strikes

Is the U.S. investigate reports of civilian casualties from U.S. air strikes in Syria and Iraq?

Will the U.S. publish the results of these investigations, hold accountable those responsible for civilian casualties, and provide reparations to families and survivors?

Bahrain:  U.S. arms sales

In 2012, the U.S. State Department announced that it would not allow the sale of arms to Bahrain “typically used by police and other security forces for internal security” or “crowd control.”  Has the U.S. resumed the sale of arms to Bahrain in this category?

Is the U.S. currently providing arms to Bahraini security forces that can be used against peaceful protestors and critics of the government?

What Nicholas Kristof Didn’t Mention

Nicholas Kristof criticizes both leaders of Israel and Hamas in his latest column for The New York Times. If you decide to read it, keep in mind the following two oversights and errors.

First, there’s one word he doesn’t use: occupation. Since 1967, *every* Israeli government has taken Palestinian land and built settlements. This isn’t just an action by conservative or “right wing” Israeli governments. Israeli settlement construction — and the brutality towards Palestinians involved — has been supported by both Labor and Likud parties.

Second, Mr. Kristof ignores the history of nonviolent campaigns by Palestinians that Israeli security forces have brutally repressed in the occupied West Bank. Get this: Under Israeli Military Order 101, it is illegal for Palestinians to peacefully protest the Israeli military occupation without an Israeli military commander’s permission.

The many indiscriminate rockets fired by Hamas into Israel are war crimes. The same is likely to be true for many Israeli attacks in Gaza. Gaza civilians are now reeling under the latest Israeli invasion and the seven years of an ongoing Israeli blockade. But American readers of The New York Times need to know that over the decades of US-armed Israeli occupation, there are other details to this sad story that should have been mentioned in Kristof’s latest piece.

CCTV Interview: Israel, Hamas, and Gaza

I spoke with CCTV News Anchor Susan Roberts about Israel, Hamas, and Gaza yesterday evening.  CCTV is a global Chinese network.

You can watch the full interview here.

CCTV interview of Sunjeev Bery regarding Israel, Hamas, and Gaza Blockade.
CCTV interview of Sunjeev Bery, Amnesty International USA

 

Israeli Policies Face Jewish Critics

When Time, the Washington Post, and the New York Times all exhibit similar levels of skepticism towards Israeli policy, something is changing. The Netanyahu Administration may still receive blank check support from U.S. politicians, but U.S. media outlets, and increasingly the American public, are less and less likely to go along for the ride.

The HKS Citizen (Harvard Kennedy School)
October 13, 2010
By Sanjeev Bery

Acre by acre, successive Israeli governments have used settlement construction to colonize what is left of Palestinian land.  Meanwhile, a growing chorus of Jewish critics is forcing Israel to choose between its aggressive policies and the path of peace.

After a moratorium of ten months, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently resumed settlement construction in the Palestinian West Bank.  On October 6th, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israeli bulldozers had been working “furiously” on the construction of 350 new Jewish-only housing units in the Palestinian region.

Continue reading “Israeli Policies Face Jewish Critics”

Turkish Foreign Minister Slams Israeli Settlements in Harvard Speech

The Huffington Post
Posted: October 4, 2010
By Sanjeev Bery

Speaking at Harvard last week, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu criticized Israel’s decision to continue building settlements on Palestinian land:

Jewish settlements [themselves] are illegal. How can we talk on the extension of [the] moratorium or extension of Jewish settlements?

With peace negotiations on the verge of falling apart, the comments demonstrate increasing anger at Israel from a former ally. The Turkish Foreign Minister also declared Gaza an “open prison” and stated that Palestinians have “the full right to live in their own country with full sovereignty based on 1967 territory, including Eastern Jerusalem.”

Continue reading “Turkish Foreign Minister Slams Israeli Settlements in Harvard Speech”

An email from Senator Dianne Feinstein

The following email was sent by US Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office to constituents who emailed her on the topic of Israel and Palestine.  Her comments reflect a clear break from the positions of AIPAC and the pro-Israel lobby.

Key excerpt:

However, like you, I have grave concerns about the expansion of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and I believe that this issue is a major stumbling block to a peace agreement.  In my view, settlement activity should be halted until an agreement is reached.  Neither side should take any actions which would prejudice the outcome of negotiations on the final status issues.

Full email:

From:    senator@feinstein.senate.gov
To:  Sanjeev Bery
Date:  Thu, Apr 29, 2010 at 4:16 PM
Subject:  U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein responding to your message
Mailed-by:  feinstein.senate.gov

Dear Mr. Bery:

Thank you for writing to express your support for the Obama Administration’s position on the expansion of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.  I appreciate hearing from you on this topic, and welcome the opportunity to respond.

Continue reading “An email from Senator Dianne Feinstein”

Israel’s Ban on Crayons

The Huffington Post
Posted: June 18, 2009 11:09 AM
By Sanjeev Bery

Israel’s massive blockade of Gaza continues, but it is easy to lose sight of what this really means. As the BBC reports, the blockade is so extensive that the Israeli government even bars musical instruments from entering the territory.

Little is allowed to leave Gaza either. Israel also bans virtually all exports to the outside world, causing Palestinians who live in the territory to suffer unemployment rates of 40%.

On Tuesday, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter highlighted some of the most egregious examples of this policy. In a speech to parents and graduating students at a UN-run Gaza school, Carter stated:

I understand even paper and crayons are treated as “security hazards” and not permitted to enter Gaza. I sought an explanation for this policy in Israel, but did not receive a satisfactory answer – because there is none.

Continue reading “Israel’s Ban on Crayons”