Occupation End Notes | March 23, 2006
Volume 3 Number 10

In this issue...

1. US Campaign Update: US Campaign FAQ’s; Hamas FAQ’s; US Campaign Protests Biased House of Representative Hearing on Palestinian Policy

2. Membership Update: Michigan CAT Committee; Congress of Arab-American Organizations & Arab-American News Join the US Campaign

3. Resources & Education: Jericho Prison Raid; SF Labor Council Opposes HR 4861; “My Name is Rachel Corrie” Debate; New Study on Israel Lobby; Christians United for Israel; Temple University Palestine Awareness Week

4. Highlights from the Region: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

5. Opportunities to Visit Israel and Palestine: Birthright Unplugged; Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions; Christian Peacemaker Teams; Sabeel International Witness for Peace; Global Exchange; Congressional Accompaniment Project; Ancient Stones/Living Stones; MECA Delegation; "Meet Palestine" Voluntary Work Camp; Fellowship of Reconciliation Interfaith Peace Builders; Sabeel International Young Adults Conference; Cycle for Peace

1. US Campaign Update

* We have produced a series of “Frequently Asked Questions” about the US Campaign, its positions, strategy, and membership.  To view the FAQ’s click here

* In light of the recent victory of Hamas in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, the US Campaign Resources Taskforce has produced a series of “Frequently Asked Questions” about Hamas as a party and their election.  To view the FAQ’s click here or download a printable version here

* Thank you to everyone who responded to the US Campaign’s action alert to protest the biased March 8 hearing of the Middle East and Central Asia Sub-Committee of the House International Relations Committee.  The hearing, called by Sub-Committee Chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), dealt with US policy toward the Palestinians in the aftermath of the PA legislative election.  Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s office confirmed to the US Campaign that their office was deluged with protesting phone calls for two days.

 The US Campaign attended this hearing and confronted Members of Congress and committee staff about the biased nature of this hearing.  Afterwards, the US Campaign wrote a letter to the sub-committee’s staff director formally protesting the hearing.  To read the letter, click here

2. Membership Update: Michigan CAT Committee

The Michigan CAT Committee is a coalition of 16 groups including Amnesty International, USA, Detroit Chapter, Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Palestine Office - Michigan, Friends of Sabeel, ISM-Michigan, Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice  - Ann Arbor,  Swords Into Plowshares, Peace and Justice Office, Sister of St. Joseph – Nazareth, MI, Peace and National Priorities Center of Oakland County, Pax Christi Michigan, Michigan Peace Team, Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom, Peace Action of Michigan, and Veterans for Peace.  Since coming together the groups have been tremendously successful at organizing to end Caterpillar bulldozer sales to Israel. 

During the week of March 16, the anniversary of Rachel Corrie’s murder, the Michigan CAT Committee organized a delegation of eleven activists to meet with Jerrold Jung, President of Michigan CAT, his Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer.  During that meeting Jung committed to talking personally with CAT CEO James Owens about ceasing CAT sales to Israel.

On March 15th Michigan CAT bottom-lined a vigil at Michigan CAT corporate headquarters in Novi that drew approximately 70 demonstrators.  The vigil culminated with a MichCAT executive joining the demonstration. When the Novi Police tried to give the group a hard time for laying a picture of Rachel Corrie and 26 roses on the blade of a CAT machine, the MichCAT executive intervened on behalf of the protestors. At vigil’s end, he agreed to take the roses and the picture to Mr. Jung, the President.  

Thank you and congratulations to the Michigan CAT Committee for bringing the issue of Caterpillar’s complicity in Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians to the consciences of Caterpillar executives in Michigan.  Your work is an important contribution to the movement!

To read more about the CAT Committee’s work in Michigan, please see: http://www.arabamericannews.com/newsarticle.php?articleid=4729

*The Congress of Arab-American Organizations (CAAO), a coalition of nearly forty organizations in the Detroit metro area, has joined the US Campaign membership.  Welcome CAAO!

3. Resources & Education

*On March 14, 2006 US and British officials abandoned their posts at a Jericho prison making way for Israeli troops to raid the prison where senior PFLP leader Ahmed Saadat was being held.  These actions resulted in a series of protests in the West Bank and Gaza.  The raid represents a major violation of U.S. obligations under the 2002 Ramallah Agreement, which states that any changes in the status of the prisoners should be agreed to between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.  Click below to read news coverage of this event.

West Bank jail raid sparks chaos

Jericho events were sparked by Hamas victory
Jail siege ends as PFLP chief Sa'adat, 5 others surrender

Palestinians bitter over Jericho raid

* On March 15, 2006 the San Francisco Labor Council adopted a resolution opposing House Resolution 4681, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act.  In part the resolution states that, “[it] goes far beyond reiterating the current U.S. ban on direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority; it also calls for many troubling provisions that would punish and isolate the Palestinian people for exercising their right to vote,” and “as an organization of conscience dedicated to promoting justice, [the San Francisco Labor Council] joins other progressive forces in opposing HR Bill 4681, and will send a letter urging our congressional representatives to vote NO on this draconian and counter-productive measure.”

*On her daily show “Democracy Now” Amy Goodman hosted a debate between James Nicola and Lynn Moffet of the New York Theatre Workshop and Catherine Viner of the Royal Court Theatre in London on March 22, 2006.  The play “My Name is Rachel Corrie” was schedule to run at the New York Theater Workshop starting on March 22nd.  Click here to watch the debate online. 

According to our reports, the March 22nd "My Name is Rachel Corrie" event in NYC was extraordinarily moving.  With 800-1000 people in attendence, the event was a huge success.  Congratulations Rachel's Words!

*Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government has just published a new study entitled “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy” by John Mearsheimer (U. of Chicago) and Stephen Walt (Harvard U.).  Both prominent and well-known professors, Mearsheimer and Walt seek to debunk the notions of moral imperative and strategic cooperation that the U.S. government employs to defend its relationship with Israel.  Click here to view the study or here to read a synopsis. 

*A new group, Christians United for Israel, is organizing itself to serve as an umbrella for Christian congregations that support Israel and to be a forum for Christians to lobby for Israel.  The group estimates that it represents approximately 30 million people in the United States.  Read more in Ha’aretz article

* From March 27-30, 2006 Temple Students for Justice in Palestine will present Palestine Awareness Week.  The week will include forums on a variety of topics including the Wall, Palestinian resistance through art, and health, education and the environment under occupation.  For more information visit Temple SJP http://www.templesjp.i8.com/

4. Highlights From the Region:Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) 

PCHR, located in Gaza City, is committed to protecting human rights and promoting the rule of law in accordance with international standards; creating and developing democratic institutions and an active civil society, while promoting democratic culture within Palestinian society; supporting all the efforts aimed at enabling the Palestinian people to exercise its inalienable rights in regard to self-determination and independence in accordance with international law and UN resolutions.  In addition to conducting extensive investigation and documentation of human rights abuses against Palestinians, PCHR also provides legal aid and counseling to victims of abuse, as well as produces research documents for public dissemination and education.  Among PCHR’s extensive collection of resources you can find their fact sheets (in many languages), maps, and information compilations on many topics online. 

Raji Sourani, an award-winning Palestinian author and advocate is the director PCHR.  Sourani made plans to meet with high ranking US officials at the State Department, the National Security Council, an advisor to President Bush, the International Republican Institute, and the Heritage Foundation from March 24-30 in Washington, DC.  Although he has confirmed appointments with these officials, the State Department has not granted him a travel visa and he has therefore been stuck in Gaza.  For more information on Sourani’s case and his activities in the U.S. contact the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights

5. Opportunities to Visit Israel and Palestine

* Birthright Unplugged is a new project that exposes young Jewish people to the realities of Palestinian life through encounters with a variety of Palestinian people. In six days, they visit Palestinian cities, villages, and refugee camps, and help participants develop an understanding of daily life under occupation. The deadline for winter trips has already passed, but planning for a spring trip is underway! For more information visit http://www.birthrightunplugged.org/index.html or contact info@birthrightunplugged.org . (Please note: Birthright Unplugged is in no way affiliated with Birthright Israel).

* Spring 2006: The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) is working in conjunction with an English company to arrange a study tour to Israel and the Occupied Territories that will take place over ten days in spring 2006. Participants will be based in hotels in Jerusalem and Bethlehem and will have unique opportunities to hear analysis from key leaders on both sides of the divide while traveling in Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank. For information, e-mail studytours80@hotmail.com .

* Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Delegations to Israel/Palestine

March 30-April 11 (United Church of Canada), May 24-June 5, July 26-August 7, October 7-19 (Franciscans), and November 19-December 1, 2006.

During the first several days, delegates will meet with representatives of Israeli and Palestinian peace and human rights groups in Jerusalem and Bethlehem to gain perspective on the conflict. They will tour the "security wall" separating Israel from the West Bank and visit Palestinian families whose homes and livelihoods are threatened by expanding Israeli settlements. They will experience firsthand CPT's work of violence-deterrence and human rights documentation in the city of Hebron and surrounding areas, and challenge the structural violence of the Occupation through nonviolent public witness. Delegates raise $2000 U.S. to cover costs. For more information and to apply, visit CPT's website.

*March 24-31, 2006: Sabeel International Witness for Peace visit 

Sabeel is a justice and peace project of Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land. The spring tour will include visits to all major cities in the occupied West Bank, as well as visits to Jerusalem, the Golan, and Nazareth.  For more information and to register visit Friends of Sabeel North America.

*Global Exchange Palestine & Israel Reality Tours

2006 Tour Schedule: April 1-11; June 18-28; August 13-23; December 3-13

Global Exchange delegations to Palestine and Israel strive to further the U.S. public's understanding of the region's realities by giving people first hand experiences of what life under Occupation is like. By meeting with people from various sectors of Palestinian and Israeli society, you hear the most recent and direct accounts of current events and explore the historical and political perspectives that divide the two peoples. Join a delegation to become a more effective media spokesperson for a just U.S. foreign policy in the region, to become a better informed community or student advocate, or to more effectively speak to your members of Congress with first-hand testimonials.
For a detailed delegation itinerary and an application contact ceanna@globalexchange.org.

*April 8-17: Congressional Accompaniment Project, a hands-on educational experience for members of Congress, their Foreign Policy Aides and their local constituents

The Congressional Accompaniment Project is an program by which Americans, concerned for a just peace in Israel/Palestine, can assist their Congressional representatives and/or their foreign policy Aides to be more informed regarding the "facts on the ground" in Israel/Palestine.

The Congressional Accompaniment Tour includes meetings with both Israeli and Palestinian governmental officials, American Consulate staff, as well as non-governmental professionals, educators and people in all walks of life. It will include travel in Israel and within the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Occupied Territories to visit areas of conflict and dispute-refugee camps, the "Wall," housing demolitions, "settlements," security checkpoints, sacred sites, etc.

Contact East Iowa Presbytery Peacemaking at (319) 354-7877 or email sue-dy@avalon.net  for further information. The 2006 tour, open to all, is scheduled for the congressional spring break, April 8 - 17, 2006.

*April 29-20, 2006: Ancient Stones, Living Stones: A Cross-Cultural Encounter
in the Holy Land.

Join Tour Leader Gordon Matties, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies & Theology, on a journey through time to the land of Joshua and Jesus! Through the 21-day tour you will walk into the world of the biblical texts, visit the ancient stones, the important biblical/archaeological sites and pilgrimage locations, meet the living stones, the many and varied people-groups living in present-day Israel/Palestine (Jews, Christians, and Muslims), and discover the complexity of conflict and the prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. For more information and to register click here.

*June 19-July 3, 2006: Middle East Children's Alliance Delegation to Palestine/Israel

For 17 years, MECA has taken small groups of North Americans to Palestine/Israel. Long time friends and partners of MECA are our local guides and MECA staff, with a combined experience of over 20 years working and leading delegations to Palestine/Israel, accompany every delegation.

This June get a better  understanding of what the Hamas vote means from the Palestinian perspective, what a possible regime of economic sanctions would mean for the various social services agencies and communities they serve, and further understand the geo-political shift from military occupation to Apartheid that is occurring. You will also
be able to meet with various Palestinian and Jewish activists and NGO's who have called for an international campaign for boycotts of and divestment from Israel. You will also learn about the historical and political roots of the Israeli-Palestinian "Conflict."
For more information visit MECA online, call 510-548-0542, or email uda@mecaforpeace.org

*July 12-30, 2006: "Meet Palestine" International Voluntary Work Camp.

The international summer work camp will bring together 20 young people from around the globe who are interested in creating a better world. We are specifically targeting people who are working with organizations led by young people that address issues concerning humanity and social justice. We strongly encourage highly motivated and serious young men and women to apply. For more information contact Info@zajel.org or click here  .

*Fellowship of Reconciliation Interfaith Peace-Builders Delegations

July 15-29: Led by Maia Hallward & Don Christensen
November 4-18: Led by Scott Kennedy

Fellowship of Reconciliation's Interfaith Peace-Builders 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 click here .

*July 28-August 5: Sabeel International Young Adults Conference.

The goals of this conference are to provide an opportunity for Palestinian and International young adults, including Palestinians raised abroad, to meet, to share stories, and to learn about Palestinian culture; to provide an opportunity for International young adults to know about the lives of Palestinian young people and to become more aware of the political realities; to help Palestinian young adults from different communities meet each other; to encourage Christian young adults to become more active for justice in their communities when they return home. The target age for this conference is 18-26 year olds. For more information visit Friends of Sabeel North America.

*August-September, 2006: Cycle for Peace

In August 2006, cyclists from all over the world will leave central London and embark on an amazing journey across Europe to the Middle East, on the second historic Peace Cycle to Jerusalem! Cycling through 12 different countries they will meet with politicians and public to raise awareness of the 38 year occupation and call for justice and peace in Israel and Palestine. After touring parts of Israel and the West Bank, the cyclists will finally ride into Jerusalem in September 2006. Peace Cycle is calling for individuals, charities, peace groups & faith organizations to support this unique event! Start planning your contingent today! For more information visit http://www.thepeacecycle.org/

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.

The US Campaign aims to change U.S. policies that sustain Israel's 38-year occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and that deny equal rights for all.

To donate to the US Campaign click here.