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Occupation End Notes | February 16, 2005 Volume 2 Number 9

In this issue...

1. US Campaign Update: US Campaign at UfPJ National Assembly; Southern Tour Report-back; US Campaign Lauches Weapons Watch Program; US Campaign Grassroots Speaking Tour in Maine and New Hampshire; New Orleans Regional Conference; HR 418, the Real ID Act

2. New Members of the US Campaign

3. Member Organization of the Month: Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions – USA

4. Resources & Education: New Talking Points – Palestine and Israel at the Sham Sharm Talks; Abunimah and Finklestein Panel Discussion

5. Events: Conference: Wheels of Justice Tour; Stop the Wall Tour; Yonatan Shapira Speaking Tour; United for Peace and Justice National Assembly – St. Louis, MO; Rachel Corrie Memorial Concert – San Rafael, CA; National Day of Action- The World Says End the War!

6. Upcoming delegations to Israel and Palestine: Middle East Children’s Alliance; F.O.R. Interfaith Peacebuilders; South West United Church of Christ Association

1. US CAMPAIGN UPDATE

* From February 18-21 the US Campaign will attend United for Peace and Justice’s 2nd National Assembly in St. Louis, Missouri.  UfPJ is a coalition of nearly 1,000 groups around the country.  Assembly participants will be attending skills-building workshops, engaging in strategic discussions, and voting on the course of UfPJ for the next 18 months.  The US Campaign will be conducting two legislative advocacy workshops during the course of the weekend, and will also be running for re-election to the steering committee on which we have been represented since UfPJ’s first National Assembly in 2003.  The US Campaign will also be holding an open house at the assembly both for existing member groups and groups that are interested in joining our coalition.

* The US Campaign’s grassroots speaking tour through Alabama was a huge success.  Our grassroots advocacy coordinator, Josh Ruebner, made 7 public presentations, and received several hundred signatures on the new Weapons Watch petition.

For the first time in US Campaign history the Israeli Consulate in Atlanta attempted to shut down our event at the University of South Alabama.  An individual from Mobile, AL called the Israeli Consulate reporting that the US Campaign is anti-semitic and should not be allowed to make a public presentation at the University.  However, the event went on due to the integrity of the university’s Vice President of Student Affairs who did not succumb to pressure by the Israeli Consulate.  We applaud and thank the administration for recognizing the attempt to stop the event as a violation of free speech, and for ensuring that the University of South Alabama is an institution where open political debate may occur.

* The US Campaign launched a new program earlier in January called “Weapons Watch”.  The program consists of action alerts highlighting Israel’s violations of the US Arms Export Control Act and is coupled with a year long petition drive to Members of Congress and the President calling for a halt in arms transfers to Israel.  To download the first “Weapons Watch” action alert, sign the petition, and volunteer to gather signatures in your community, visit: http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?list=type&type=150

* Kymberlie Quong Charles, the US Campaign’s membership outreach coordinator, will be conducting a grassroots speaking tour in Maine and New Hampshire in mid-March.  During her tour Kymberlie will be available to make public presentations at churches, libraries, college and university campuses, and hopes to work with community peace and justice groups on local strategies for ending US support for Israel’s occupation.  If you would like to organize a public event for Kymberlie’s visit please email outreach@endtheoccupation.org or call 202-543-1778 to discuss dates and logistics.

* Join us from April 2-3 in New Orleans, Louisiana for the next US Campaign regional organizers conference.  We’ve teamed up with New Orleans Palestine Solidarity to bring you a weekend of grassroots education, skills-building workshops, and regional strategizing.  More details and registration materials will be forthcoming.  Save the date!

* Earlier this week the US Campaign sent out an action alert on the removal of anti-PLO language from HR 418, the Real ID Act.  While this was a victory for supporters of a just peace in the Middle East, the US Campaign is deeply troubled by the House's passage of the bill, which is anti-immigrant and anti-civil rights.  The US Campaign urges it supporters to contact their Senators to oppose this bill.  The US Campaign is committed to working within the broader progressive community to link struggles and will continue
to reach out to communities negatively affected by bills like the Real ID Act to uphold civil rights.

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2. NEW MEMBERS

* The US Campaign is growing! We now have almost 200 member organizations in our coalition. The following organizations recently became members of the US Campaign’s national network of organizations working to end US support for Israel’s occupation:

-    8th Day Center for Justice – Chicago, IL
-    AFSC Great Lakes Region Middle East Peacebuilding Program – Chicago, IL http://www.afsc.org/greatlakes/chicago.htm
-    Imagine Life – Washington, DC  http://www.imagine-life.org
-    Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, USA http://www.icahd.org/eng/
-    River Falls Peace and Justice – River Falls, WI

* To become a member of the US Campaign please visit
www.endtheoccupation.org/modinput4.php?modin=2 to sign our Call to Action and pay membership dues.  Join today!

* To view a complete list of organizational members of the US Campaign visit www.endtheoccupation.org/groups.php

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3. MEMBER ORGANIZATION OF THE MONTH:
Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD) – USA http://www.icahd.org/eng/

ICAHD USA is a new organization that was created to support the work of ICAHD and to provide education in the US regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  ICAHD is a nonviolent, direct action group comprised of members of Israeli peace and human rights organizations.  Since its founding, ICAHD's activities have extended to three interrelated spheres: resistance and protest actions in the Occupied Territories; efforts to bring the reality of the Occupation to Israeli society; and mobilizing the international community for a just peace.

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions recently released a statement calling on the international community to engage in selective divestment and boycott to pressure Israel to end its 37-year old occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.  To read their statement visit http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=1047

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4. RESOURCES & EDUCATION

*  New Talking Points!  “Palestine and Israel at the Sham Sharm Talks” by Phyllis Bennis.  The recent talks between Sharon and Abbas have been spun as a turning point for the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.  Bennis, a US Campaign Steering Committee member, takes a close look at what agreements they have come to, and the implications of these agreements, with specific attention to the US role in brokering the ceasefire.  Read the talking points on-line at http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=1045

* On January 31, 2005 Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah and Professor Norman Finklestein engaged in discussion and debate about the latest developments in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including the election of Mahmoud Abbas and Israel’s disengagement plan.  Their discussion is important education for all of us.  To listen to this discussion online visit http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article3581.shtml

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5.  EVENTS

*Ongoing: Wheels of Justice Tour
Members of Voices in the Wilderness, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, the Middle East Children's Alliance, and affiliates of the International Solidarity Movement take to the road in a colorfully decorated full-size school bus for nonviolent education and action against war and occupation in Iraq and Palestine for justice and universal human rights.  For more information and to view the Wheels of Justice itinerary visit http://www.justicewheels.org

*Ongoing: Stop the Wall Tour
The Stop the Wall Campaign and Tour traveled to 45 cities last summer and fall.  The Wall trailer and full scale models, together with films, Power Point presentations and lots of handouts and maps had a remarkable impact on those that saw them.  View the new spring tour schedule at http://www.localendar.com/public/stopthewall?style=M0

*February 20-March 11: Various locations
In February and March the Refuser Solidarity Network will be conducting a speaking tour with Yonatan Shapira, a signer of the 2003 “Pilots Letter” in which 27 high-ranking Israeli pilots refused to serve in the Occupied Territories.  For a complete tour itinerary visit http://www.refusersolidarity.net/

*February 19-21: St. Louis, MO
Join the US Campaign at United for Peace and Justice’s National Assembly.

*March 6: San Rafael, CA
Rachel Corrie Memorial Concert to aid the Rebuilding Alliance's Rachel Corrie Rebuilding Project.  2:30 pm, Unitarian Church, 240 Channing Way, San Rafael.  Suggestion donation is $15-$20 at the door.  For more information contact jewellcj@jewellfamily.com

*March 19: Fayetteville, NC
The World Says End the War!  To commemorate the second anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq the US Campaign in joining United for Peace and Justice’s call for a mass mobilization in Fayetteville, as well as decentralized mobilizations all over the country.  On March 19th the US Campaign will be educating about the linkages between the occupations of Iraq and Palestine.  Mark your calendars and begin organizing an event in your community today.  For more information about this national day of action visit http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=2688

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5. UPCOMING DELEGATIONS TO ISRAEL AND PALESTINE

*February 14-27: Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA).  Over the 14-day trip participants will meet with Palestinian and Israeli activists, academics, politicians, civil society leaders and healthcare workers. MECA’s trips to Ramallah, Haifa, Hebron, Nablus and Gaza among other areas help North Americans get familiar with the social and geo-political landscape as well as learn more about the history of the current situation.  Cost: $1600-includes hotel, three meals daily and transportation while there (excludes airfare).  For more information contact MECA Delegation Coordinator Uda Walker, 510-548-0542, uda@mecaforpeace.org, www.mecaforpeace.org

*March 15-19, 2004 & May 21-June 4, 2004: Fellowship of Reconciliation Interfaith Peace Builders.  Interfaith Peace-Builder sends delegations to Israel and Palestine so that U.S. citizens can see the conflict with their own eyes. Participants have the opportunity to learn directly from Israeli and Palestinian nonviolent peace/human-rights activists, to spend time in Palestinian and Israeli homes, and to experience the situation of Palestinians living under military occupation.  For more information visit http://www.forusa.org/programs  /ipb/default.html

*April 29-May 8: Southwest United Church of Christ Association
The Southwest Association of the United Church of Christ is developing a partnership with Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem and the International Center of Bethlehem.  As part of this partnership, two trips to Bethlehem are being planned for 2005.  The spring trip will focus on the work of the Health and Wellness Center/and Dar al Kalima School, two of the ministries of Christmas Lutheran Church.  Cost for each trip will be approximately $2000 depending on cost of airfare.  The group will be staying in the International Center Guest House in Bethlehem –except for optional side trips.  For further information or to register people for this gathering, please contact either the Bonnie Van Overbeke, pastor of Memorial UCC at pastorbonnie@sbcglobal.net or by phone at 608-273-1008, or Bob Mutton at swwaucc@globaldailog.com or by phone 608-244-3350.

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Occupation End Notes is the US Campaign bi-monthly newsletter designed as a tool for activists. For this newsletter to be successful, we need your participation. Use us to promote events, give feedback on recent actions, recommend resources, or just learn from other activists in the movement. If you or your organization are planning an event aimed at ending the occupation, or you have information for the Newsletter, please contact the US Campaign at outreach@endtheoccupation.org

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The US Campaign aims to change US policies that sustain Israel’s 37-year occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and deny equal rights for all.

Donate to the US Campaign. Visit http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=84