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Conference Report: US Campaign Adopts Cultural & Academic Boycott, Ahava BDS Campaign, & More!

September 18th, 2009


Earlier this week, we returned to the office from Chicago where we held our 8th Annual National Organizers’ Conference last weekend and we wanted to let you know about the exciting highlights of the conference and our plans for the next year.


Approximately 200 delegates from at least 27 states and 90 member organizations of the US Campaign attended the 

conference to strategize about strengthening our political and legislative work to challenge U.S. military aid to Israel and our existing boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Caterpillar and Motorola.

Delegates also voted to endorse the principle of extending our BDS work to cultural and academic boycott campaigns and to non-U.S. corporations as well by endorsing the Stolen Beauty campaign against the Israeli cosmetics company Ahava for its profiting from Israeli occupation and settlements. Delegates also voted to endorse the Gaza Freedom March and work with organizers to include a U.S. policy component of ending U.S. support for the blockade of Gaza. Finally, delegates also elected six new members to the US Campaign’s Steering Committee.

As you can see, we made a number of very important decisions at this year’s conference to advance our mission of changing U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine to support human rights, international law, and equality, and we need your support in order to implement them. Please make a generous tax-deductible contribution to the US Campaign today so that we can continue to do this important work by clicking here.

We also wanted to let you know that more than 300 people packed the First United Methodist Church Chicago Temple for dinner and a public event last Saturday night. US Campaign Advisory Board member Professor Rashid Khalidi, Director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University, and Palestinian political analyst Omar Barghouti delivered empowering and electrifying keynote addresses, and spoken-word artists Tala Abu Rahmeh and Gihad Ali performed powerful poetry. We hope to have video of this event up on our website soon.

During this event, we raised about $10,000 from the audience. It’s a great start, but we’re going to need a lot more support in order to undertake this ambitious agenda. Here’s our challenge: If 300 people could give $10,000 in one night, then the more than 30,000 people receiving this email should be able to match that.

You can help us reach this goal of raising $10,000 on-line by making your generous tax-deductible contribution to the US Campaign today by clicking here.

We also wanted to let you know about all the great media coverage this conference received. Check out Laura Flanders interview with US Campaign Steering Committee member Phyllis Bennis on GritTV. Read Nada Elia’s piece about the conference, “A Turning Point for the US Solidarity Movement,” in Electronic Intifada. And check out the Forward’s article “Palestinian-Led Movement to Boycott Israel Is Gaining Support,” which spotlights decisions made at the conference about strengthening our BDS campaigns.

Please help us strengthen our ability to get our collective voices into the media by making your generous tax-deductible contribution to the US Campaign today by clicking here.

Below are some additional details about the conference and decisions made during it.

* During the opening session of the conference, dozens of member groups reported back on their activities, successes, and challenges over the last year displaying the creativity, diversity, and enthusiasm of the member groups that make up our coalition. Please make your generous tax-deductible contribution so that we can continue to provide resources and support to empower our member groups to even greater things by clicking here.

* The US Campaign presented its annual report to the assembly outlining its programmatic achievements, membership growth, expansion of its coverage in the media, structure and management, and finances, and member groups provided constructive feedback on the US Campaign’s work. You can download the annual report as a PDF document by clicking here or as a Power Point Presentation by clicking here. (Note: The Power Point is a large file, so please give it some time to download. Once downloaded, you should view it as a slide show for best results. You can also advance the presentation at your own pace by clicking to advance it.) As you can see, we have accomplished a lot good work that we can be proud of over the past year. Please make your generous tax-deductible contribution so that we can continue on to even greater accomplishments by clicking here.

* After hearing presentations from groups Coalition to Stop $30 Billion, Palestinian Human Rights Action Network, and Jewish Voice for Peace, conference participants strategized about moving forward the coalition’s political/legislative work by enhancing grassroots lobbying efforts and challenging military aid to Israel through the budget process, engaging in non-partisan electoral work around the 2010 Congressional elections, and developing public educational campaigns such as billboards to highlight the need to change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel. Show your support for strengthening our political and legislative work by making your tax-deductible contribution by clicking here.

* After hearing presentations from member groups New York Campaign to Boycott Israel on Motorola, and Chicagoans Against Apartheid in Palestine on Caterpillar, conference participants strategized about moving forward the coalition’s existing boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns against these two corporations. Over the past year, we’ve had exciting victories against these corporations, with the CEO of Caterpillar publicly endorsing divestment and Motorola selling its unit which made bomb fuses. Help us continue to put pressure on these corporations to stop profiting from Israeli occupation and apartheid by making a tax-deductible contribution by clicking here.

* Delegates from member groups in good standing voted to endorse the Gaza Freedom March, scheduled for January 2010, and for the US Campaign to help anchor efforts to connect this march with ongoing policy initiatives to get the United States to force Israel to end its siege of the occupied Gaza Strip. Make a tax-deductible contribution today to help us continue our advocacy to end U.S. support for Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza by clicking here.

* Seven candidates ran for election for five open positions on the Steering Committee. After the Elections Committee announced that there was a tie for the fifth spot between two people, delegates from member groups in good standing voted to elect both candidates to the position for a one-year term. The US Campaign congratulates Phyllis Bennis, Felecia Eaves, Bill Fletcher, Jr., and David Wildman for being elected to three-year terms, and Jennifer Bing-Canar and Sophia Ritchie for being elected to one-year terms. The US Campaign would also like to thank Odile Hugenot-Haber for running for the Steering Committee, and Bruce Taub who initially put his name on the ballot but decided to withdraw from the election process before the vote.

* After hearing presentations from Palestinian political analyst Omar Barghouti, and Nada Elia, from the organization US Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, delegates from member groups in good standing discussed and then voted that the US Campaign endorse the principle of academic and cultural boycotts. In addition, after hearing a presentation from Code Pink, member groups in good standing voted to expand the US Campaign’s BDS targets to non-U.S. corporations by endorsing the BDS campaign against Israeli cosmetics producer Ahava. Make your tax-deductible contribution to the US Campaign to help us expand our BDS work to both academic and cultural boycotts and to Israeli corporations profiting from occupation and apartheid by clicking here.

* Conference attendees participated in two different sessions of the US Campaign’s Grassroots Training Institute. In all, eight different workshops were offered to conference attendees to build their skills on various topics.

* Finally, conference attendees provided feedback about the conference during a closing evaluation session. From written evaluation forms, conference participants gave the following scores on a scale from 1-5 (1 being the lowest, 5 being the highest) for the conference:

In response to the question, "Was the conference preparation, program, structure, location, and  logistics satisfactory," participants gave us an average score of 4 out of 5. 

In response to the question, "Did this conference provide you with concrete ideas, skills, and tools for action when you return home," participants gave us an average score of 4.36 out of 5.

Our conferences and regional meetings aren't possible without your help--your organizing, your participation, and your donations. If you are interested in organizing a regional meeting or conference in your area in 2010, email the National Coalition Coordinator, David Hosey at media@endtheoccupation.org

Make your tax-deductible 
contribution to the US Campaign to help us organize and expand our coalition by clicking here.