Take Action: Obama’s First 100 Days & What You Can Do for the Next 100

April 30th, 2009

Yesterday was President Obama’s 100th day in office. Below we recap some of the positives and negatives of the Obama Administration’s policies and statements on Palestine/Israel to date, followed by action steps that you can take over the course of the next 100 days and beyond to influence U.S. policy.
We’ve noticed some positive developments regarding the Obama Administration’s stated positions on Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip, and Israel’s house demolitions and settlement building in the West Bank. Perhaps most importantly, President Obama called for an end of Israel’s siege on Gaza, when he stated that “As part of a lasting cease-fire, Gaza's border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce.”

While the Administration has exerted some pressure on Israel to allow food deliveries into the Gaza Strip, it is clear that much more pressure will be needed for Israel to end its illegal siege of the Gaza Strip, and home demolitions and settlement building in the West Bank, not to mention the deliberate injuring and killing of unarmed protesters in the West Bank with high-velocity tear gas canisters.

We give mixed reviews to the Obama Administration’s initial handling of aid to the Palestinian people. On the positive side, the President has recognized the humanitarian catastrophe caused by Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip and has proposed more than $800 million in assistance, including for humanitarian aid. On the negative side, not one dollar of this proposed assistance is earmarked toward the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

While U.S. provision of urgent humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip is certainly welcome, much of the proposed aid is of dubious value and purpose for Palestinian civilians, such as training for Palestinian security services.

While several press reports have indicated that the Obama Administration is considering conditioning military aid and/or loan guarantees to Israel on a freeze in settlement building, the President’s record so far on military aid to Israel has been decidedly negative. The White House has reiterated its commitment to implement the Bush Administration’s $30 billion Memorandum of Understanding for military aid to Israel over the next decade.

Worst of all, in March, the Obama Administration allowed the delivery of more than 300 containers of munitions to Israel, even before the State Department completed its investigation into Israel’s violations of the Arms Export Control Act during its December-January war on the Gaza Strip. We’re still waiting to see whether there will be any conditions or deductions in military aid in the President’s upcoming FY2010 budget request.

While we’re on the topic of our disappointments with the Obama Administration, we have to give a big “thumbs down” to his Administration’s unwillingness to meet with us. We tried requesting a meeting with the Presidential Transition Team and then the National Security Council only to be turned down after months of fruitless efforts.

We took President Obama at his word when he stated that “I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.” Despite the fact that we organized an open letter, entitled “President Obama: We Need a Change in Israel/Palestine Policy,” endorsed by more than 500 organizations, and collected about 25,000 signatures on postcards, petitions, and emails opposing military aid to Israel, his Administration so far has been unwilling to meet with us to listen to our policy recommendations.

From the Obama Administration’s mixed record so far, it is clear both that public discourse on Israel/Palestine is changing and politicians are beginning to respond to this change, and that we need to continue to educate, organize, and advocate to accelerate this process.


In the spirit of the great abolition organizer Frederick Douglass, who stated that “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will,” here are some action steps that you can take to bring us closer to our goal.

TAKE ACTION

1. Protest the removal of billboards in Albuquerque calling for an end of military aid to Israel.

Previously, we let you know about the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel's campaign to place billboards around Albuquerque calling for an end of military aid to Israel.

Watch a video of anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan speaking at the dedication of the billboards and learn more about all the other inspiring activism that took place on Tax Day to protest military aid to Israel by checking out our interactive Google map by clicking on the map to the right.


View Tax Day Protests against Military Aid to Israel in a larger map
Well, sure enough, this week we heard from our friends in Albuquerque that the billboard company, Lamar, took down the billboards due to pro-Israel pressure. Learn more and take action to protest this act of censorship by clicking here.


2. Write to President Obama opposing his anticipated request for $2.775 billion in military aid for Israel in his upcoming FY2010 budget request.

Send your own personalized letter to the President asking for a complete investigation into Israel’s violations of the Arms Export Control Act during its December-January war on the Gaza Strip and convey your opposition to additional military aid going to Israel by clicking here.

3. Sign up to organize to challenge military aid to Israel in your community.

Receive an organizing packet in the mail from us with postcards, petitions, flyers, fact sheets, stickers, and an educational DVD—everything you need to educate and organize people in your community to challenge military aid to Israel. Since February
2007, we’ve sent out nearly 1,200 organizing packets to volunteers in more than 600 cities and 48 states (yep, still waiting on Nevada and North Dakota). Check out the amazing Google map of all of our organizers below and sign up to join them today by clicking here.


View Challenge Military Aid to Israel in a larger map

4. Offset your tax contribution to Israeli military occupation.

Although Tax Day has come and gone, it’s not too late for you to make a statement that you don’t want your tax dollars going to fund Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians. According to our research, Israel killed more than 3,000 innocent Palestinians, including more than 1,000 children, during the Bush Administration, often with U.S. weapons.

We’re estimating that in FY2010, each individual tax payer will on average be giving $17.75 in military aid to Israel. Offset your tax contribution to Israeli military occupation and human rights abuses by making a tax deductible contribution to us by clicking on the logo below.


For each contribution of $17.75, we will send you some of these “Yes, We Can…End U.S. Military Aid to Israel!” stickers.

Offset the tax contribution of just five people or more ($88.75 or more) and we’ll send you the stickers and a copy of the award-winning documentary Occupation 101.

Offset your tax contribution of military aid to Israel today by clicking on the icon to the left.