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Saving Gaza

April 8, 2011

Israel is again inflicting death and destruction using U.S.-supplied weapons against Palestinians in the besieged and occupied Gaza Strip, demonstrating the dramatic imbalance of power in this conflict. According to press reports, in just 24 hours, Israel has killed 13 Palestinians in Gaza and injured dozens; in Israel two people have been injured.

Israel's Cast Lead assault on Gaza

Israel appears to be deliberately escalating this pattern of strikes and counter-strikes, which began on March 16, when an unprovoked air strike by Israel killed two Hamas militants and injured another – at the same time as Israel further tightened the siege on Gaza by closing the Karni crossing, the main entry point for goods into Gaza.  From March 16-30, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Israel killed 15 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including four children. See this timeline by the Alternative Information Center here.

Until Israel’s March 16 attack, an informal ceasefire had been in place since Israel's devastating Cast Lead assault ended in 2009. Even the Israeli daily Ha’aretz wrote on March 24: “Despite the escalation, Hamas does not seem to want large-scale clashes yet. The organization actually has good reasons to believe that Israel is the one heating up the southern front.”

So what can we do?

1. Stay informed. This escalation may or may not be a prelude to a massive Israeli attack on Gaza. We should all be monitoring the situation as it develops. The Institute for Middle East Understanding already posted an interview from Gaza recorded last night on its website (www.imeu.net) and will be providing timely news updates and other resources. Check out other resources like www.electronicintifada.net (see especially Ali Abunimah’s Another War on Gaza?) and The Palestine Center.

2. Challenge the Discourse. In the United States the clashes again are being framed in terms of Israel’s security, no matter what the cost in Palestinian lives and injuries.  But only a ceasefire, along with an end to Israel’s illegal siege and occupation of Gaza, can bring security for all – and a ceasefire was in place until Israel broke it.

Another point to make: It is no coincidence that Israel is escalating its actions against Gaza after Justice Richard Goldstone’s “rethink” of one aspect of the UN report. But let’s be clear: Goldstone did not retract the report's findings. Nor does he have the authority to do so: This is the report of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict that grouped four distinguished experts and is now the property of the UN.

Read the many excellent analyses on the status of the Goldstone Report, such as that by Nimer Sultany here, George Bisharat here, and New York Times' Roger Cohen here.

3. Demand the lifting of the siege on Gaza: The collective punishment imposed on Gaza violates international humanitarian law. The United States should end its military aid to Israel because of its many violations of Palestinian human rights and U.S. laws.  Get involved in our campaign to challenge military aid to Israel.

Together, we can end U.S. support of Israel's violations of human rights and uphold international law.

In solidarity,

Nadia Hijab, US Campaign Advisory Board               

Josh Ruebner, US Campaign National Advocacy Director

"I Wish You Egypt!"


Omar Barghouti is a Palestinian human rights activist, former resident of Egypt, and author of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS): The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights. He published the following letter on March 23, 2011.

I wish you Egypt!

I wish you empowerment to resist; to fight for social and economic justice; to win your real freedom and equal rights.

I wish you the will and skill to break out of your carefully concealed prison walls. See, in our part of the world, prison walls and thick inviolable doors are all too overt, obvious, over-bearing, choking; this is why we remain restive, rebellious, agitated, and always in preparation for our day of freedom, of light, when we gather a critical mass of people power enough to cross all the hitherto categorical red lines. We can then smash the thick, cold ugly, rusty chains that have incarcerated our minds and bodies for all our lives like the overpowering stench of a rotting corpse in our claustrophobic prison cell.

Your prison cells, however, are quite different. The walls are well hidden lest they evoke your will to resist. There is no door to your prison cell -- you may roam about "freely," never recognizing the much larger prison you are still confined to.

Letter Continues...

Video: "Right-Wing Israeli Polity: Implications for the Arab Minority"

The Jerusalem Fund, a US Campaign member group

In the past week alone, the Israeli government has taken several steps to further target the Palestinian minority in Israel. You can read more about discriminatory legislation that bans the commemoration of the Nakba, allows communities to forbid Arabs from living among them and targets political activists here. Also, new polling indicates that the Israeli polity is moving only further to the right, which means Palestinian citizens of Israel will be increasingly under pressure.

We were fortunate to have two members of the Palestinian community in Israel and experts on these issues speaking at a panel here at the Palestine Center:

Jafar Farah is director of the Mossawa Center, the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, and serves on the Public Council for the Governmental Equal Opportunities Commission.

Amal ElSana AlHjooj is Co-Executive Director of the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development (NISPED) and the founding director of AJEEC – NISPED's Arab Jewish Center for Equality.

Watch the Event...

An "Austere Challenge" for Sure

By Josh Ruebner, US Campaign National Advocacy Director
April 7, 2011

Don’t you just love these names the Pentagon invents for its military operations? From the makers of Operation Odyssey Dawn, coming in May 2012, it’s Austere Challenge!

If you thought U.S.-Israeli military cooperation was already tight, it’s about to get a whole lot closer. According to an April 4 article in Defense News, U.S. and Israeli military planners are busy at work on an exercise that would entail an “unprecedented expansion of security cooperation” between the countries.

The article makes clear that this is no ordinary military exercise, but one aimed at “enabling the two countries to func­tion in wartime as a joint task force (JTF).” Yikes. Exactly what contingency planning for a joint U.S.-Israeli war is in the offing?

Israeli military planners appear giddy at the prospect. “We’re talking about a huge step up in substance, size and proce­dures,” an Israeli officer told Defense News. “It’s an historic upgrading of strategic cooperation that extends beyond interoperability into how to jointly plan and execute contingency op­erations.”

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Register Now for ICAHD Summer Rebuilding Experience

ICAHD-USA, a US Campaign member group

Where: Anata, East Jerusalem
When: July 10 - July 25, 2011

Annually since 2003, ICAHD has made it possible for internationals and Israelis to join together with Palestinians in Anata, East Jerusalem, to resist the Occupation and rebuild the demolished home of a Palestinian family. In the summer of 2011, ICAHD will once again rebuild a Palestinian home during our two-week Summer Rebuilding Experience. We invite you to participate in the incredible opportunity to learn first-hand about life under Occupation. ICAHD’s 2011 Summer Rebuilding Experience will take place July 10-July 25, 2011. In addition to construction, there is a full program including field trips, cultural events, films and much more.

Learn More...

Volunteer in Gaza with the ISM

International Solidarity Movement

The International Solidarity Movement is appealing for activists to join our team in the besieged Gaza Strip. In recent months numerous people have managed to cross into Gaza through Egypt, so at present, there is a small window of opportunity to enter.

ISM Gaza was reinstated in August 2008, when volunteers traveled aboard the historic, siege-breaking voyage of the first Free Gaza Movement boat. ISM has maintained a constant presence in Gaza since that time, for over two years of Israel’s crippling siege.

ISM volunteers refused to leave when Israel began bombing Gaza in December 2009. During the devastating 23-day assault, activists accompanied ambulances and provided vital testimony to the international media.

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Israeli Settlement Expands to Olympia, WA

TESC Divest

Students and Alumni Protest Investment Policy at the Evergreen State College

On March 28th, 2011, students and alumni at The Evergreen State College began a 62 hour Vigil for Human Rights by erecting an Israeli settlement. This is meant to demonstrate support for divestment from companies profiting off of the illegal occupation of Palestine, such as Caterpillar Inc. Former Evergreen student Rachel Corrie was run over and killed by an Israeli Army Caterpillar bulldozer while protecting a Palestinian home in Rafah, Palestine in 2003. The Corrie family is suing the Israeli government for damages in a civil trial commencing on April 3rd in Haifa District Court.

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Letter to Editor: "Cantor should put his mouth where the money is."

By Mike Coogan, US Campaign Manager of Finance & Administration
Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 30, 2011

Recently a delegation of 12 Virginians and I had the opportunity to meet with Rep. Eric Cantor's office. A member of our group expressed our main concern.  Our "ask" was that Cantor use his position of leadership to ensure Israel respects the human rights of Palestinians and pursue a strategy that could end the Israeli occupation. The legislative director responded: "We don't refer to it as an 'occupation.'"

Above: Representative Eric Cantor

Not an occupation?  Is there Internet access in this office? The occupation has been going on for 43 years. It seems Cantor formulates policy like a child who hopes that putting his hands over his eyes will make the boogey monster disappear. Furthermore, if it's not an occupation, then there is probably no reason for the United States to give Israel $30 billion of military aid in the next 10 years.

The people of the 7th District of Virginia deserve an explanation as to why our district is paying an estimated $73 million to provide weapons to the Israeli military over the next nine years. As Cantor has said, "We believe this government must stop spending money that it doesn't have." We agree.

Perhaps he should start by cutting funding for an occupation that he doesn't think exists. Most people I have met would rather spend that $73 million on tax breaks for small business, investments in higher education or paying down the deficit. Instead, we're subsidizing Israel's illegal occupation and gross human rights violations.

Unit Commander Says Ordered to Continue Bulldozer Work Despite Danger to Civilians

Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice, a US Campaign member group
April 4, 2011

Trial Spotlights Israeli Accountability For Unlawful Killing of Nonviolent Protester

The commander of the unit that killed Rachel Corrie told a Haifa court on Sunday that he was ordered to continue bulldozer work even though it presented danger to civilians, including foreign activists, who were present in the area and could not be dispersed.

Known to the court as Captain S.R., the Bedouin officer said that he actually requested to halt bulldozer operations on the day Rachel was killed, because he thought civilians might be hurt, but was ordered to continue.

"Today's testimonies provide further strong evidence regarding the Israeli military failure to take necessary and reasonable measures to protect Rachel's life and prevent her avoidable tragic death. They also underscore the systemic inadequacy of the military investigation system which in this case, was nothing but a whitewash," said Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein, who represents the Corrie family. "More than eight years after Rachel's death, we are uncovering new pieces of the truth despite a wall of secrecy and lack of transparency."

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L A S T   W O R D S

Make Spring Cleaning softer, more natural, while uplifting Palestinian farmers.

Our unscented olive oil soap is hand-cut into 3 oz. rounds and wrapped in a new descriptive label. Order your case of 12 or 48 (save big with the large case). The soap is handmade in the traditional way by women's cooperatives around the West Bank, using certified organic and fair-trade Palestinian olive oil, plus fair-trade coconut oil from Sri Lanka. Find it in our store, and also check out our bumper stickers, buttons, coffee mugs, art by Carlos Latuff, and much more.

Shop Now...

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