Monday, August 31, 2009

Israeli journalist Gideon Levy on Israeli reactions to boycott

Gideon Levy has a fascinating piece in Ha'aretz contrasting reactions to Israeli professor Gideon Levy's call for boycotts to pressure Israel to end its 42-year old occupation of Palestine, and the enthusiasm of the international community for boycotts in general:
"The timing of the mini-maelstrom over an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times by Neve Gordon, who teaches politics and government at Be'er Sheva's Ben-Gurion University, calling for a boycott of Israel, was somewhat grotesque. Hardly have the throats dried of those calling for his dismissal, for his citizenship to be revoked, for his expulsion and, if all else fails, his stoning, when another petition has surfaced on the Internet, this one calling for a boycott of Ikea. A bad article on the back page of a Swedish tabloid is enough to produce a call here for a consumer boycott to which thousands sign their names. Turkey has barely recovered from the boycott that our package tourers imposed on it because its prime minister had the gall to attack our president, and already we are cruising toward our next boycott target. It's our right."
Levy also reflects on the historical development of boycott as an effective tool of civil resistance:
"Since the time of the ban imposed in the Jewish community by Rabbeinu Gershom at the turn of the first millennium, which applies to offenses of considerably less severity than mistreating 3.5 million people - namely, marrying more than one woman, divorcing a woman without her consent and reading private correspondence without the owner's consent - the boycott has been a just and appropriate civil weapon. And since the boycott of the apartheid regime in South Africa, the boycott has also been an effective weapon."
Click here to read the full article. Boycotts, divestment, and sanctions are appropriate and effective responses to human rights abuses and violations of international law. What's more, they are actions in which we can all participate. Click here to find out how.

Roger Waters knows a thing or two about walls

Check out "Walled Horizons," a new video documentary on the Apartheid Wall produced by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OCHA-oPt), featuring former Pink Floyd bass player and song writer Roger Waters--who's written one or two little ditties about walls in the past that you may be familiar with. Additionally, the film features Palestinians affected by the the Wall and three Israeli senior security officials, two of whom were directly responsible for planning its route and explain the Israeli position on constructing the Wall. Part I: Part II: Opposing the construction of the Apartheid Wall and calling for it to be dismantled has been one aspect of the US Campaign's work since our 2nd Annual National Organizers' Conference. U.S. political, economic, and corporate support of the Israeli occupation translates into support for the Wall and for other aspects of Israeli apartheid. Click here to view our Stop the Wall resources; click here to get involved with holding some of the corporations who profit from the Wall accountable for their actions; click here to learn how to work to cut off U.S. military aid for Israel's occupation. And, just in case you have no idea what Roger Waters has to do with walls: Walls block peace and impose apartheid. Working for human rights and justice means that we are in the business of bringing walls down.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

US Campaign National Conference Speaker Omar Barghouti: "Derailing Injustice"

Check out Omar Barghouti's article in the Jerusalem Quarterly, "Derailing Injustice:Palestinian Civil Resistance to the “Jerusalem LightRail.” Barghouti analyzes the startling success that an international movement of concerned advocates and individuals has had in challenging Israel's plan to build a light rail that would service settlements, in contravention of international law. Around the world, civil society actors have employed legal means as well as boycott and divestment to "derail" the Jerusalem Light Rail project. Read the article here. Like what you read? Want to hear more? Join the US Campaign for Speaking Out, a night of solidarity and entertainment featuring Barghouti, Prof. Rashid Khalidi, spoken word artists, and more! The event will take place in Chicago on September 12--it's open to the public and free to those who have registered for our 8th National Organizers' Conference! Click here to learn more.

Jim Wall: Churches should stop talking and start acting for justice

James Wall, contributing editor of The Christian Century, has had about enough of faith communities talking and talking about peace in the Middle East without taking any action. Wall has issued a call for U.S. churches to stop issuing resolutions and start putting pressure on Israel using the proven, effective tactics of boycott and divestment.
"This is not the time for U.S. denominations to keep debating inadequate, diluted, compromised resolutions on “peace in the Holy Land”. It is rather, kairos time, the moment to move against Israel’s apartheid dominance over four million Palestinians by embracing the non-violent strategy of BDS, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Christian denominations have spent far too many years trapped in dreary hotel conference rooms working to “get along” with one another by approving meaningless resolutions that fooled few and excited none. Resolution time has far outlived its expiration date. It is time to join a growing number of justice-oriented communities and take direct action against Israel’s oppressive actions against an oppressed people."
Wall's article is timely. With Israeli professor Neve Gordon's recent LA Times op-ed raising the profile of BDS in the United States, a British bank divesting from settlements, and a UK firefighters union calling for a boycott of Israel, the time is ripe for involvement in the BDS movement. (Keep up with the latest in boycott, divestment, and sanctions news by clicking here). Luckily, you don't have to wait for institutions to change for you to get involved with the BDS movement. You can join the US Campaign's ongoing BDS work against Caterpillar and Motorola, check out our BDS resources, and educate others about this effective and time-tested tactic for creating social change. As more of us join the movement, we'll be able to mobilize more pressure to get faith communities, universities and colleges, labor unions, and other institutions to use their economic power to push for justice and human rights in Israel/Palestine. James Wall thinks it's time to stop talking so much and start taking action for justice. And although those of us here at the US Campaign come from a wide variety of faith and secular backgrounds, we couldn't agree more.

Our tax dollars hard at work -- again

An update on what the Israeli military is doing with the approximately $3 billion in U.S. military aid that our taxes pay for each year (via the Electronic Intifada):
"The following press release was issued by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights on 25 August 2009: The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns attacks perpetrated by Israeli forces in the evening of 24 August, and the morning of 25 August 2009. Three Palestinians were killed while a fourth is missing consequent to Israeli gunfire in the northern Gaza Strip and aerial bombardment along the Egyptian border, south of Rafah."
Sometimes, it's the simple message that's the most powerful: it's got to end. Click here to find out what you can do.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

US Campaign National Organizer Katherine Fuchs interviewed in WireTap Magazine

Check out this interview with US Campaign National Organizer Katherine Fuchs in WireTap Magazine, "an independent news and culture web magazine that generates and amplifies daily content by young people from diverse backgrounds." Here's Fuchs discussing her motivations for working for justice and equality for Palestinians:
"The most impactful event happened just a few weeks ago, when I went on an Interfaith Peace-builders delegation to Israel/Palestine. Actually meeting Palestinians and Israelis struggling for civil existence in the midst of a human-induced humanitarian disaster renewed my dedication to this work and blew all of my intellectual understanding out of the water."
Read the full article by clicking here, and join us in our work by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Apartheid, Apartheid, Everywhere -- and not a sanction in sight

Critical analysis of Israeli apartheid has been making surprising media headway recently. With Israeli Professor Neve Gordon critiquing Israel's apartheid policies in The Los Angeles Times and YNet News, former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories John Dugard and American Jewish philanthropist Edgar Bronfman raising the specter of apartheid in in The Huffington Post, Israeli journalist Gideon Levy pointing out the apartheid implications of the Sheikh Jarrah evictions in Ha'aretz, and Alain Gresh of Le Monde Diplomatique exploring connections between apartheid-era South Africa and Israel, it's evident that more and more people around the world are becoming aware of the apartheid reality of Israel's policies toward Palestinians. One particular aspect of Israeli policy that has been receiving attention recently is a new set of restrictions on travel to and from the West Bank that Israel is imposing on international visitors. New Israeli visa stamps restrict travel by foreigners to "Palestinian Authority only" or to areas strictly under direct Israeli control. Here's Toufic Haddad at The Faster Times blog on the new "apartheid visa stamps":
"Previous Israeli-issued tourism visas do not restrict the freedom of movement of tourists who are allowed passage into the country, and who originate from countries which Israel has diplomatic relations and reciprocal arrangements regarding travel. That meaning, as long as someone was allowed into the country, they were able to travel freely whether they chose to visit the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, or the Palestinian city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank....“Palestinian Authority only” greatly restricts this freedom of movement, and thus undoes the former arrangement. It essentially precludes travel to areas of pre-1967 Israel, as well as to Israeli controlled areas in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem."
This arrangement solidifies the fragmentation of the West Bank in a manner that seems all too familiar to Haddad:
"The fragmentation of PA jurisdiction in the West Bank has invited comparisons to the Bantustans of Apartheid South Africa. Bantustans were false states set up by the white apartheid regime as a means to enforce the segregationist nature of apartheid, controlling the primarily black population, while disenfranchising them particularly with regards to expropriating their land and resources."
The new visa restrictions, which would affect U.S. citizens who work, live, or have family in the West Bank, have met with strong condemnation from the U.S. State Department, with Ha'aretz reporting that "The United States has harshly criticized new Israeli restrictions placed on foreign nationals entering the West Bank via the Allenby Bridge, calling the new regulations 'unacceptable'." The State Department made specific note that the new Israeli policy would "'unfairly impact Palestinian and Arab-American travelers.'" (Ha'aretz journalist Amira Hass also published an in-depth report on the new restrictions, which you can read by clicking here.) As with other statements from the Obama Administration, however, this one appears so far to be toothless, as US Campaign Advisory Board member Nadia Hijab notes in her most recent column for Agence Global, entitled "Israel Tests Obama-Again". Hijab recounts an exchange between State Department spokesperson Ian Kelley and a persistent journalist:
"Journalist: What does that mean, we cannot accept this kind of practice? You also can’t accept, you know, continued building of settlements, and they seem to be doing that. Kelly: Yeah. Journalist: So what exactly does that mean? Kelly: Well, it means that this kind of practice is something that the U.S. Government believes should not be done. This is not…something that we can accept. Journalist: What are you going to do if they don’t stop? Kelly: We will continue to protest. Journalist: But that won’t make any difference - Kelly: Yeah. Journalist: So? Kelly: It is what it is. We don’t like the practice."
Thank goodness the State Department is standing up for our rights!! Hijab goes on to point out the dangerous implications of this change in policy:
"Unchallenged, it allows Israel to reinforce its hold on East Jerusalem, which it has (illegally) annexed, as well as those pieces of the West Bank it would like to keep if and when there is a final settlement, such as Palestinian lands east of the separation wall and the fertile Jordan Valley. Those Americans whose passports are stamped “Palestinian Authority only” would be unable to visit any of these places, just as Palestinians cannot, even though they are part of occupied Palestinian territory."
The plain truth is that as long as we provide unconditional support for Israeli apartheid and occupation, the Israeli government can do what it wants--whether to U.S. citizens or to Palestinians. To change Israeli policy, we have to end U.S. military aid and U.S.-based corporate support for occupation. Otherwise, statements only pile on top of statements--and nothing changes. Join our movement for change today by clicking here!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Speaking Out: A night of solidarity and entertainment to benefit our work with Prof. Rashid Khalidi, Omar Barghouti & More!

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is excited to invite you to Speaking Out, a night of solidarity and entertainment to benefit the work of the US Campaign, Saturday, September 12! We are honored to welcome the Director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University, Professor Rashid Khalidi and Omar Barghouti, Palestinian political commentator and human rights activist, as our keynote speakers on issues of Policy and Boycott and Divestment. Between the keynote addresses, renowned DC spoken word artist, Tala Abu Rahmeh, will delight us with her thought-provoking poetry. Iftar dinner is included and will be traditional Middle Eastern fare. Update--Location TBA Saturday, September 12, 2009 7:00pm-10:00pm Dinner will be served at 7:00pm. Get your tickets today by clicking here!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

An Israeli activist endorses boycotts as BDS movement wins another important victory

Hello readers and Enders of Occupations, We've got a few posts in the works for your reading pleasure. In the meantime, Israeli activist Neve Gordon has a powerful op-ed in today's LA Times explaining why he has come to the conclusion that boycott, divestment, and sanction is the only way to end Israel's illegal and immoral occupation:
"It is indeed not a simple matter for me as an Israeli citizen to call on foreign governments, regional authorities, international social movements, faith-based organizations, unions and citizens to suspend cooperation with Israel. But today, as I watch my two boys playing in the yard, I am convinced that it is the only way that Israel can be saved from itself."
Gordon goes on to say that he is concerned that his children and Palestinian children are facing a situation of modern-day apartheid:
"The question that keeps me up at night, both as a parent and as a citizen, is how to ensure that my two children as well as the children of my Palestinian neighbors do not grow up in an apartheid regime." (Apartheid. Photo by ActiveStills.)
Gordon's op-ed is timely, as the global BDS movement can declare yet another victory today:
"The British bank BlackRock has divested from Lev Leviev settlement projects on West Bank. The divestment follows pressure by three Norwegian banks marketing BlackRock funds. BlackRock was second biggest shareholder in the controversial Israeli firm."
Click here to read more. Want to get involved in the global movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israeli occupation and apartheid but not sure where to start? Check out the US Campaign's BDS resources and join the movement today!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ramzi Kysia of the Free Gaza Movement: "Our primary work lies in our own communities"

Ramzi Kysia of the Free Gaza Movement has a great article over at Electronic Intifada on nonviolent direct action, solidarity, and struggle. Here's Kysia on the importance of activism in home communities and the role of civil society in holding goverments accountable to international law:
"As solidarity campaigners, it's our job to take our direction from comrades already struggling inside occupied Palestine. But as internationals we should also remind ourselves that our primary work lies in our own communities. In the end, our struggle is not about charity; the Palestinian people need justice and political action, not charity....The continuing failure of the international community to enforce its own laws and protect the Palestinian people demands that we as private citizens directly intervene to take action commensurate with the crisis. What is needed in our world today is not simply protest against the violence of occupation and oppression. What we need is a greater resolve -- a new militancy rooted in the profound respect for human life..."
As citizens of the United States, we have a lot of work to do in our own communities--educating, mobilizing, talking to and challenging elected officials, cutting off U.S. military aid, promoting boycott and divestment at the local, munincipal, state, organizational, and national levels. There's so much you can do. Become a local organizer. Join the US Campaign. Donate to sustain our work. Start a group. All of these individual acts of solidarity, advocacy, and support add to up to a powerful national and international movement. Kysia and many others, including Palestinian and Israeli partners, are committed to a sustained, nonviolent resistance to occupation and apartheid, but we have to do our part in our own communities to end the enormous political, economic, and military support that the United States gives to Israeli's violations of international law and human rights. Become a part of the movement by joining the US Campaign today.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Democracy Now: "Human Rights Watch Calls On Israel to Investigate ‘White Flag’ Shootings of Gaza Civilians"

Amy Goodman and Anjali Kamat of Democracy Now! interview Fred Abrahams of Human Rights Watch, which just released a report investigating the killing of Palestinian civilians by Israeli soldiers during the December-January assault on the Gaza Strip: Check out the Human Rights Watch report, "White Flag Deaths," by clicking here.

US Campaign at Veterans for Peace Convention

Check out this video of US Campaign National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner presenting at the Veterans for Peace Convention in College Park, MD, August 8, 2009, via Palestine Video: You can download the presentation that Josh is giving in this video by clicking here.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Geneva Conventions Turn 60--What Does that Mean for Us?

This week marked the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, written after World War II in order to establish concrete protections for civilians during armed conflict under international law. In a press release issued by Oxfam America, the humanitarian organization warns that "the fundamental principles that civilians should be protected from violence and have access to assistance are violated in every current conflict":
"“If something is not done to reverse this trend, international humanitarian law may soon be irrelevant to those who need it most. The United States must take concrete steps to increase global adherence and accountability to the Geneva Conventions,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America."
Oxfam has several recommendations for what these "concrete steps" should be, not the least of which is adherence to the Conventions by the United States itself. Somel of the suggestions are particularly pertinent to the relationship between the United States and Israel. For example, Oxfam urges the United States to "Publicly challenge violations of International Humanitarian Law, even if the violators are US allies" and to "work with the UN to impose and closely monitor the implementation of sanctions targeted on political and military leaders who commit war crimes." [You might have guessed, we added some emphasis] The vast majority of the international community--excepting, not surprisingly, the Israeli government itself--including respected human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and Israeli groups such as Breaking the Silence has condemned Israel for violations of international law during its December-January attack on the Gaza Strip. Additionally, the Israeli occupation fundamentally violates the Geneva Conventions in many ways, not the least of which is the continuing expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of Article 49 of the Conventions prohibiting the transfer of a country's civilian population into territory occupied by that country. Unfortunately, rather than challenging Israeli violations of international humanitarian law and considering sanctions on those responsible for these violations, the United States seems intent on rewarding them by continuing to send billions of dollars in military aid to Israel, allowing Israel to purchase U.S. weapons that are then used to attack Palestinian civilians--as in the recent incident when the Israeli Air Force, flying U.S.-made warplanes, bombed tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip that are currently the only lifeline for Palestinians living under siege. When governments fail to hold violators of human rights and international law accountable, civil society has to step up and step in. At the US Campaign, we encourage individuals and groups to challenge their elected officials, organize in their local communities, and join the global movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel's policies of occupation and apartheid. We're grateful to Oxfam for the support that they give civil society movements for justice and accountability--just recently Oxfam announced that Sex in the City actress Kristin Davis would no longer be serving as a humanitarian ambassador for the organization due to her role as a spokesperson for Ahava beauty products, which are illegally produced in a West Bank settlements. Ahava has been the target of a boycott campaign organized by US Campaign member group CODEPINK. Oxfam's honorary president, Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, was just awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama along with other prominent critics of Israeli apartheid policies including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. (You can see Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interview Tutu and Robinson by clicking here). We're confident that with dedicated organizations such as Oxfam calling on the U.S. to be critical even of its allies and to sanction violators of human rights and international law, with civil society movements taking up the call to boycott and divestment, and with President Obama honoring critics of Israeli apartheid, the discourse is changing in favor of justice and peace in Israel/Palestine. But we can't sit back and wait for that to happen. Join the movement today, and help us change not just discourse, not just policy, but the prospects for peace in our world today.

Nadia Hijab: "More than One S in Resistance"

US Campaign Advisory Board member Nadia Hijab comments on the efficacy of boycott and divestment in her latest syndicated column at Agence Global:
"Palestinian civil society and the international solidarity movement have shown that boycott and divestment are powerful non-violent, economic tools in the struggle for freedom and justice. How much more powerful such tools would be if a Palestinian leadership also called for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) so that the entire people spoke with one voice and reinforced each other’s efforts."
Read the full article here. To get involved in the movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions in the United States, click here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Final reflections from delegation

A final set of reports and reflections from the delegation co-sponsored by Interfaith Peace-Builders and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is available here, including poetic reflections from delegation co-leader Shakeel Syed. Check out the report here, and stay tuned for a reflection written by delegation co-leader and US Campaign National Organizer Katherine Fuchs. (Delegation participants walk through a Palestinian village destroyed in 1948. For more photos from the delegation click here.) Have you enjoyed all of the updates and reports from the delegation? Have you found our posts on evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, links between U.S. military aid and Israeli settlement construction, the changing discourse on Israeli apartheid, and the growing BDS movement useful in your activism? Maintaining a blog takes staff time, and that means it costs us! Click here to find out more about how you can sustain and support the work of the US Campaign.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sheikh Jarrah evictions and court rulings reveal apartheid policies

Last week we reported on the eviction of 53 Palestinians, members of the Al-Ghawi and Hanoun families, who were evicted from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Joseph Dana, an Israeli-American activist and independent journalist who works with the group Ta'ayush (Living Together), reports on a vigil organized in response to these evictions:
"Last night in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah there was a vigil, a memorial to the families’ homes from which they were evicted. First they were refugees and now they are homeless. After weeks of legal battles, sit-ins and press conferences, several hundreds gathered to acknowledge a critical defeat in the battle over the future of this land and the two peoples who want to live here in peace."
Take a look at Dana's video of the vigil below, and note in particular Rabbi Arik Ascherman discussing the "discriminatory behavior" that these evictions represent just before his arrest at the hands of Israeli military police: There is a specific term in international law for this type of discriminatory behavior when it comes from the official apparatus of the state. That word is apartheid--a fact not lost on Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, who writes in Ha'aretz:
"We should perhaps thank the court for its scandalous ruling, which not only sparked a justifiable international wave of protest against Israel, but also revealed its true face. "There are judges in Jerusalem," as Menachem Begin said, and they have made it official: apartheid. Ownership rights are for Jews alone."
The 1973 UN Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid defines apartheid as a crime against humanity, not specific to South Africa, consisting of "inhuman acts" designed to impose racial segregation and discrimination on a targeted group. Specific acts falling under the crime of apartheid include denying basic human rights of freedom of movement and residence and the expropriation of landed property in order to create separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups. Of course, calling apartheid by its name doesn't earn one many friends, as evidenced by the current controversy surrounding the United Church of Canada's resolutions on Israel/Palestine. There are signs that the discourse is changing, however, not the least of which is the decision by President Obama to honor key critics of Israeli apartheid with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Obama is scheduled to present these awards today. A change in the discourse isn't enough, though. Policies have to change, and we're the ones who have to organize to change them. Just as the international community spoke out and took action to end apartheid in South Africa, activists, human rights advocates, and civil society groups must speak out and take action to end apartheid policies directed against Palestinians. And just as apartheid in South Africa was brought down thanks in large part to the international solidarity of groups advocating for boycott, divestment, and sanctions directed against the apartheid regime, today there is a growing global BDS movement targeting Israeli apartheid. Join the movement today! "The Cellular Companies and the Occupation"

At the end of July, we wrote about an Israeli cell phone commercial portraying a "friendly" soccer game being played over the Apartheid Wall and how it relates to the wider fact of companies profiting from Israeli occupation and apartheid. Now,, a website run by the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace, has published a report on Israeli cell phone companies and their involvement in the occupation, including MIRS, a subsidiary of Motorola Israel. Here's an excerpt from the report:
"All four [cell phone companies], Cellcom, Partner, MIRS and Pelephone, operate service stores in West Bank settlements. Additionally, MIRS is the exclusive provider of cellular phone services to the Israeli army (since 2005 and at least until 2011). This company installs communication units in army vehicles and it builds communication facilities in army bases throughout the West Bank and Golan Heights. The company also offers special rates for service personnel and their family members."
Motorola's special relationship with the Israeli army and the Israeli settlement enterprise has long made it a target of boycott by groups and individuals concerned with violations of human rights and international law experienced by Palestinians living under occupation, including the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. In 2008, the US Campaign brought to the attention of Motorola its complicity in Israel's human rights violations and military occupation and call on the corporation to cease producing and selling equipment to the Israeli army to prevent its involvement in future abuses. The US Campaign launched and is coordinating a national consumer boycott of Motorola cell phones to raise awareness of its profiteering from human rights abuses and to tarnish its corporate image for doing so. Click here to learn more about the boycott, and click here to sign up as a local organizer for our Hang Up on Motorola campaign. Interested in advancing the work of the US Campaign this fall? Click here to find out more about internship opportunities with the US Campaign during Fall 2009.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

US Campaign/IFPB delegation participants share impressions of Jerusalem

Although the delegation to Israel/Palestine cosponsored by Interfaith Peace-Builders and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has returned home, we continue to post reflections and reports written by delegates in order to share their important experiences. You can click here to read the delegations report on their visits to Jerusalem. Here's US Campaign Steering Committee member David Matos on settlements in East Jerusalem and the Obama Administration:
"To make a peace where Israel and Palestine share Jerusalem will require the world community to confront these policies, specifically the settlements which seem to have become "facts on the ground" to divide and fragment an Arab East Jerusalem. The Obama administration has taken a strong stand against settlements, including those in East Jerusalem. Despite the US call to enforce a settlement freeze, the Netanyahu regime in Israel has thumbed its nose at Obama's challenge. They have declared several new settlement projects in East Jerusalem, most recently 20 units in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Increasingly, pro-Israeli media have become more shrill on the issue. Just last Monday a settler group held a protest at the Israeli Knesset and settler youth have taken the offensive creating some twenty new illegal outposts. Obama is right on this issue and it is critical that we support him and not buckle to pressure from the pro-Israeli right."
Help the U.S. stop Israeli settlements by signing up as a local organizer. Join the struggle against U.S. support of Israeli violations of international law today! (A photo of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem taken by a member of the delegation. Click here for more photos).

Phyllis Bennis addresses Veterans for Peace Convention

This past weekend representatives of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation attended, tabled, and gave workshops and presentations at the annual convention of Veterans for Peace, a group of veterans dedicated to opposing war and militarism and to establishing justice for veterans and victims of U.S. wars. US Campaign Steering Committee member Phyllis Bennis was one of the featured speakers at the convention's closing banquet on August 9, 2009 at the University of Maryland College Park. She addressed the convention on the importance of ending military aid to Israel, the change in the discourse surrounding Israeli apartheid, and the war in Afghanistan. Check out video of her speech below, courtesy of WHYNotNews:

The Real News Network asks "Who profits from Israeli occupation?"

Here's an in-depth report on the global BDS movement from Lia Tarachansky of The Real News Network. Tarachansky reports on recent BDS victories and covers the recently launched boycott of Ahava beauty products being led by US Campaign member group CODEPINK. CODEPINK's "Stolen Beauty" campaign against Ahava has attracted recent media attention after the international humanitarian organization Oxfam suspended actress Kristin Davis from serving as an Oxfam humanitarian ambassador due to her role as a spokesperson for Ahava. Want to get involved with boycott and divestment but aren't sure how? Click here to learn more.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Encountering Bil'in

We're happy to tell you that participants in the co-sponsored US Campaign/Interfaith Peace-builders delegation to Israel/Palestine have returned safely. We'll have more updates soon, but in the meantime, check out the delegation's report about their visit to the Palestinian village of Bil'in, which has been nonviolently resisting the Apartheid Wall every Friday for several years. The Wall cuts the villagers off from much of their farmland. Here's what one delegation participant had to say about their interactions with the farmers of Bili'n:
"As with the folks at the Deheisheh Refugee Camp, the villagers of Bil'in retain a tremendous joy even as they live under Israel's occupation. Israel may beat them, steal their land and treat them like animals - but the people of Bil'in continue to affirm life as they know that someday, when the U.S. closes its checkbook, they tyranny and oppression of the occupation will end."
Read the full report here, and help us close our U.S. checkbook by clicking here.

Israeli Interior Minister: Israel will build settlements with or without U.S. support. Let's make sure it's without.

What does it take for the United States to stop funding the Israeli occupation? The Israeli daily news source YNet is reporting that Interior Minister Eli Yishai and other Israeli government officials visited an area of planned Israeli settlement construction which, if completed, would cut the West Bank nearly in half. During their tour, officials reaffirmed the government's commitment to build settlements with or without U.S. approval:
"The tour took place near a police station, the only Israeli building in E1. "At some point, we will have to build, even if we don't manage to convince the Americans, at least in the settlement blocks," Yishai said."
YNet goes on to quote the mayor of one of the largest settlements in the West Bank:
"Maaleh Adumim Mayor Kashriel said, The Americans are good friend of Israel, but Israel's foreign policy also has its red lines."
American foreign policy should have its red lines, too. In fact, it does--U.S. law prohibits aid or military sales being used to violate human rights or take aggressive action. While the Obama Administration has had strong words against the expansion of Israel's settlements, our tax money keeps funding occupation and apartheid--and the settlements keep growing. It's time to establish a red line--and cut our funding of Israel's illegal occupation.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Latest report from US Campaign/Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation to Israel/Palestine

The third report from the delegation co-sponsored by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and Interfaith Peace-Builders is now available. Check out the full report here. US Campaign Steering Committee member David Matos is on the delegation. Here he recounts a conversation with their Israeli host at a kibbutz near the Gaza border:

"“We are responsible for what we do… Israelis don’t realize how strong we are… The stronger [party] in the conflict must take the first step.” Before taking a short tour of the kibbutz, our Israeli-American host closed by urging us emphatically, “If you want to do one thing for peace, support President Barack Obama holding both sides accountable.”"

In order to hold both sides accountable, our policy toward Israel/Palestine will have to change from one based on militarism to one based on international law and human rights. Get involved with the struggle for justice and accountability by clicking here. (The Erez border crossing into Gaza. Click here for more photos from the delegation.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Nadia Hijab: "Playing from Strength in the Middle East"

US Campaign Advisory Board Member Nadia Hijab has some suggestions for the Obama Administration on how to "play from strength" in its dealings with Israel:
"Here’s what Obama could say: “Let me be clear. I have already stated that my administration does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. There is no point having ‘natural growth’ in structures which must be evacuated, as required by international law. Peace with the Palestinians -- based on two sovereign states along the 1967 borders with minor, mutually agreed modifications -- is the best guarantee of Israel’s survival and security. We call on the world to act: Not against Israel, but against Israel’s occupation.”"
(View of Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, with the settlement of Efrat in the background. For more photos from the US Campaign/IFPB delegation, click here) Hijab adds that the Obama Administration needs to consider the leverage that it has:
"[J]ust as Israel is stalling on what America has described as one of its national security interests -- peace in the Middle East -- the administration should similarly stall on issues important to Israel. For instance, sharing military technology, providing military aid or loan guarantees, and conducting joint military exercises. Bureaucracies can find ways to slow things down without a policy shift, and the administration should use them all."
To read the full article, click here. To take action against U.S. military aid to Israel, click here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

United Nations: Sheikh Jarrah House Evictions are Violation of Geneva Convention

Sec. of State Clinton condemns evictions, but families want more than words

From Ha'aretz:
"U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday criticized Israel for the eviction two Palestinian families from an Arab neighborhood in east Jerusalem, calling the move "deeply regrettable". "The eviction of families and demolition of homes in east Jerusalem is not in keeping with Israeli obligations and I urge the government of Israel and municipal officials to refrain from such provocative actions," Clinton said."
These evictions are not "regrettable," as if they were an accident. They are illegal--violations of international law and of the basic human rights of the Palestinian families who are now living on the street. The evictions themselves, and the Israeli military's violent response to the families' efforts to return to their homes, are funded by U.S. taxpayers. They are part of a clear policy of ethnically cleansing Palestinians from East Jerusalem--not spontaneous actions that should be "refrained from," but components of a policy that must be stopped. CNN's report on the evictions displays the treatment that members of the al-Ghawi and Hanoun families are facing at the hands of the Israeli political-military establishment, and notes that the families are looking for "more than words from the international community": The families deserve more than words. They deserve action on behalf of justice. Click here to learn more about the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem and the ethnic cleansing being faced by Palestinians there. Click here to take action to end U.S. military aid to Israel that funds occupation, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid.

Monday, August 3, 2009

While U.S. reps condemn house evictions, U.S. aid makes them possible

A U.S. State Department spokesperson has condemned the eviction of Palestinian families from their East Jerusalem houses as part of the Israeli government's policy of supporting Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem. The two families--the Hanouns and the al-Ghawis--have lived in their East Jerusalem houses since 1956, when they were given houses as part of their refugee status after fleeing West Jerusalem during the 1948 war. East Jerusalem was occupied by Israel in 1967. In all, 53 people have been made homeless by the evictions, and Israeli settlers--guarded by Israeli police and military--have already moved into their homes. Here's an Al Jazeera report on the evictions: U.S. State Department spokesperson Megan Mattson has condemned the evictions, stating that they violate Israel's obligations under the U.S.-brokered "Road Map":
"Unilateral actions taken by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community."
The evictions, and the settlement plan that they are a part of, threaten Palestinian hopes for maintaing East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, and decrease the likelihood for a negotiated settlement on Jerusalem as part of a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians. Despite State Department condemnation, however, these evictions would not be possible without the support of billions of dollars of U.S. military aid, which enables these violations of human rights. The young soldiers who carried out the evictions and who now stand guard over the houses to prevent the Palestinian families from returning are armed with help from U.S. tax dollars--$2.775 billion for FY2010 and a project total of $30 billion between 2007-2017, to be exact. The guns they point, the bullets they fire, the communications equipment that coordinates their activities, the bulldozers they use to destroy houses and even tents--are all provided by the U.S. government and U.S. companies. In addition to official U.S. support for the Israeli occupation, private American donors and companies also play a role. (
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, a member group of the US Campaign, has filed a complaint with the Department of Treasury in regards to tax-exempt donations being used to fund settlements.) Here's Israeli-American activist Joseph Dana reporting on the contributions of U.S. citizens to the colonization of East Jerusalem:
"This is just one of several plans by various real estate groups such as Nahalat Shimon International and American businessmen such as Irving Moskowitz, to populate the areas surrounding the Old City with Jewish strongholds that sever Palestinian territorial contiguity in East Jerusalem. This prejudices any final resolution in which East Jerusalem would be the Palestinian capital. It is also in clear breach of Israel’s commitment under the Road Map. But these operations are backed by the Israel Lands Administration, the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israeli government, who are all working together to undermine any possibility for a two-state solution and are blatantly infringing on the basic human rights of the citizens of what they deem to be the “united Jerusalem.”"
Dana has also posted the following video of the aftermath of the evictions on his blog: The condemnation of the State Department rings hollow in the face of massive U.S. military aid and the involvement of American citizens in the spread of Israeli settlements. If we want to stop evictions, settlement growth, and other violations of international law and the human rights of the Palestinian people, we need to act to change U.S. policy. You can act to change U.S. policy by organizing in your local community against U.S. military aid, meeting with your elected representatives, and taking steps to challenge U.S. companies that profit from the Israeli occupation. Let's make sure that those U.S. policies that have left the
Hanouns, the Rawis and the al-Ghawis homeless are soon a thing of the past.

Latest updates from US Campaign/IFPB delegation in Israel/Palestine

Click here to read the latest updates from the US Campaign/Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation that is currently in Israel/Palestine. These reports and updates are written by delegation participants including US Campaign National Organizer Katherine Fuchs. (Delegation participants and Palestinian citizens of Israel. This was on a visit to one of the over 500 Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948. For more photos, click here) Check out what one participant, Kristin Loken, has to say about U.S. involvement:
"For me, this is a conflict with at least 3 sides - the Palestinians, the Israelis, and the Americans. It is my belief that the conflict would have ended years ago without US involvement. The role played by my country and my fellow Americans horrifies me. We need to take responsibility for our own role in this conflict - our government, our tax dollars, and supportive Americans and American organizations. A big part of the reason I am here is to better understand what I can do, as an American, to change how the US government and Americans support the continuation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict."
Click here to read more. To find out what you can do, as an American, to change how the U.S. government and Americans support the continuation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, click here. (A photo of houses in Sheikh Jarrah taken by delegation participants. For more photos, click here)