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What a Difference a Decade Makes!

December 29th, 2012

When we created the US Campaign back in 2001, there were maybe 30 of us, representing perhaps a dozen organizations. We struggled to craft a strategy that would not only respond to the immediate crisis of the second Palestinian uprising, or intifada, but would also set the framework for a much longer-term campaign to transform the U.S. policies of massive aid to Israel and protection of Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies, that enabled Israel to continue to deny Palestinian human rights and continue its violations of international law.  

Above: Phyllis Bennis discusses the U.S. military budget, U.S. aid to Israel, and upheavals in the Middle East onstage with David Barsamian at the Lannan Foundation's In Pursuit of Cultural Freedom series in Santa Fe earlier this year. 

Year End Newsletter

It was exhilarating, but scary– the Campaign was created in the midst of the grief in the aftermath of 9/11, and the outrage at what our government was threatening to do in response.  It seemed pretty much exactly the wrong time to challenge U.S. policy in the Middle East. 

But we jumped in anyway, even though it was slow going at first. It took more than two years just to get up to fifty member groups. But look at us now!  Twelve years after those early preliminary discussions, eleven years after our first membership meeting, ten years after we hired our first staff person…we have almost 400 member groups, more than 60,000 on-line supporters, a staff of five, and a steering committee reflecting the breadth of a movement whose goals are closer than ever to mainstream acceptance. 

It’s been an amazing decade. We’ve been part of changing the national discourse in this country on U.S. policy in the Middle East – and we’re succeeding faster than we imagined. And we’ve done it all, as the staff noted last week, with less than 0.7% of the budget of AIPAC, the most powerful component of the Israel lobby.  (I don’t think any of us imagined, back then, that a decade later the New York Times would run an op-ed by a former columnist of The Jewish Week identifying part of the Israel lobby as “extremist”!). 

And your work is what has made all this possible. Writing letters to the editor in small-town newspapers, organizing BDS protests at Caterpillar shareholder meetings, mobilizing church members to support their denominations’ powerful decisions to boycott Israeli settlement goods, pressuring policymakers from Members of Congress to local city council members to stop enabling Israeli violations… it’s your work that has changed the U.S. discourse so powerfully. 

Our work continues – and we still need your help to see it through. Won’t you send just a bit more in these last days of 2012?  If you can donate $40 or more, the US Campaign will send you a signed copy of my book, 'Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer.'  I work for an activist non-profit too – and money is always tight – but I know that my monthly donation of support for the US Campaign is going straight into the urgent work we still have ahead of us.

We have a lot of work to do, and it is only possible with the support of people like you. 

Have a wonderful new year, keep up your amazing work, and please keep supporting the US Campaign!

Phyllis Bennis
Director, New Internationalism Project, Institute for Policy Studies
Co-Founder, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

--   If you would like to receive a signed copy of my book 'Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer,'
contribute $40 or more today.