Tuesday, March 30, 2010

US Campaign, member groups protest AIPAC Convention

Check out US Campaign National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner and representatives from member groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, CODEPINK, and U.S. Citizens Against War at the AIPAC Convention in Washington, DC:
Want to oppose AIPAC's efforts to promote endless war and endless occupation? Donate to the US Campaign today by clicking here.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Veteran White House correspondent talks to Real News Network about Obama, U.S. policy, and Israel's nukes

Veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas, who was the the first female officer of the National Press Club and the first female member and president of the White House Correspondents Association, talks to Paul Jay of The Real News Network about President Obama, Israel's nuclear weapons, and U.S. policy:
The contrast between U.S. treatment of Israel's nuclear weapons and the mere possibility of a nuclear armed Iran is stark. In a recent example of our double standard toward nuclear arms in the region, Caterpillar has announced that it is prohibiting its international retailers from selling equipment to Iran. In the past, Caterpillar has repeatedly dodged efforts to get the company to stop selling militarized bulldozers to Israel--like the D9 bulldozer that killed U.S. activist Rachel Corrie and the bulldozers that were mentioned so prominently in the Goldstone Report because of their role in the destruction of civilian infrastructure during "Operation Cast Lead"--with the excuse that the company can't tell its retailers who to sell to.
So apparently when it comes to Iran, Cat can say no, but when it comes to selling house-demolishing behemoths to nuclear-armed, war crime-committing Israel, its hands are tied.
Help end this double standard by joining the Caterpillar campaign and working to end U.S. military aid to Israel.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Look away, there's no apartheid here

In the steadily growing media debate around Israeli apartheid, a common theme arises: apartheid might exist in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, but certainly not within democratic Israel. An increasing range of commentators--Henry Siegman, Robert Wright, and even Israeli officials such as former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak--have hinted that increasing settlement expansion and Israeli military control over the Occupied Palestinian Territories will "lead to" or "eventually result in" or "is increasingly reminiscent of" apartheid. Even Ali Abunimah, writing at CNN.com, tied apartheid to Israeli settlement expansion. On the other side of the debate are those, like Richard Cohen, who vehemently oppose the use of the term "apartheid" to describe Israel's violations of international law and Palestinian human rights. There's no doubt that--contrary to what Cohen might say--Israeli policy in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, from settlement expansion to extrajudicial assassination to the detention without charge of Palestinian activists, constitutes a violation of the UN Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. What is often ignored, however, is the structural discrimination and racism practiced against Palestinian Arabs within the state of Israel. Don't believe me? Here's a powerful video from Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. Entitled "Targeted Citizen," and featuring Palestinian hip hop trio DAM and comic duo Shammas-Nahas in addition to a group of experts on legal, political, social, and economic discrimination within Israel, the 15-minute film captures what it means to be an Arab citizen of "the only democracy in the Middle East"--to be "physically present, with rights absent" in a country that grants "constant legal presences" to those who are physically absent:

Targeted Citizen - English from Adalah on Vimeo.

At the US Campaign, we stand for equality for all. Racism and apartheid need to be opposed wherever they are found. Check out resources on our website for standing against apartheid, and take action in your community for justice and equality.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Real News Network: "Palestinian teens killed as tensions rise"

Want to see how your tax dollars are being spent? The Real News Network reports on the killing this weekend of 4 Palestinians teenagers by the Israeli military, as, in the words of blogger Phil Weiss, "AIPAC served wine to congressmen and told them about the great economic development in the West Bank": More at The Real News, and check out a related article at Electronic Intifada. News reports like this one are made possible by you, the U.S. taxpayer, and by the billions of dollars of U.S. military aid that we send to Israel each year. Find out more--and learn what you can do to end it--at AidtoIsrael.org

MuzzleWatch reports: "Norman Finkelstein booted, again"

Norman Finkelstein has been denied a speaking venue, again. Here's more from the MuzzleWatch blog of US Campaign member group Jewish Voice for Peace:
"Finkelstein lost tenure at DePaul. He most recently got disinvited by the Greens in Germany. And this morning, word that the global shunning continues in Chicago, where event organizers report that since he’s not allowed to speak at DePaul (part of his severance agreement-amazingly), they found, and then just lost, an alternative venue: I’ve been very involved in organizing Norman Finkelstein’s April midwest tour, which will include Purdue, Beloit, Michigan State, and Chicago events (DePaul, Northwestern, UofC). Unfortunately, today I received this news from our friends and partners at DePaul: As you know, former professor and academic Norman G. Finkelstein is scheduled to speak in Chicago on Friday, April 16th. SJP DePaul and friends have been working diligently for this event, from securing a venue, booking his flight and hotel, and fundraising from scratch to make this event happen successfully. Everything was finally coming together, and we were all excited. Unfortunately, today we received horrible news. The event coordinator received the following email from the venue we had secured for the event: “Good morning Shirien, We had a Parish council meeting this past week, I notify everyone on the up coming events that are held at our church, and of course, your event was one of the topics A few of our board members are attorneys and they are the ones that look into almost everything from the individuals that rent the gym out and if they are covered insurance wise. they looked deeper into the Professor that will be speaking at our church and they insisted that we couldn’t be affiliated with the ideologies of Mr. Norman Finkelstein so I am sorry to say that the church is going to have to cancel and will not be able to rent the gym the night of April the 16th 2010 Please again I am very sorry for the inconvenience.” Write a nice note to St. George Greek Orthodox Church to let them know Finkelstein should speak: Deno Diamantakos DDiamantakos@tempel.com And if you have an alternative venue idea for April 16 in Chicago, contact organizer shiriendamra@gmail.com"
Read the full article here.

Robert Wright at New York Times Opinionater blog: "Against 'Pro-Israel'"

Another sign of changing discourse: Robert Wright at the New York Times' Opinionater blog has this to say about the concept of being "anti-Israel":
"Are you anti-Israel? If you fear that, deep down, you might be, I have important news. The recent tension between Israel and the United States led various commentators to identify hallmarks of anti-Israelism, and these may be of diagnostic value. As you’ll see, my own view is that they aren’t of much value, but I’ll leave it for you to judge."
Wright goes on to point to such "hallmarks of anti-Israelism" as believing that Israel shouldn't build settlements in East Jerusalem and believing that unconditional support of Israeli policy endangers U.S. troops. His analysis of settlements in East Jerusalem is particularly refreshing in the U.S. media:
"Symptom no. 1: Believing that Israel shouldn’t build more settlements in East Jerusalem. President Obama holds this belief, and that seems to be the reason that Gary Bauer, who sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, deems Obama’s administration “the most anti-Israel administration in U.S. history.” Bauer notes that the East Jerusalem settlements are “entirely within the city of Jerusalem” and that Jerusalem is “the capital of Israel.” That’s artful wording, but it doesn’t change the fact that East Jerusalem, far from being part of “the capital of Israel,” isn’t even part of Israel. East Jerusalem lies beyond Israel’s internationally recognized, pre-1967 borders. And the common assertion that Israel “annexed” East Jerusalem has roughly the same legal significance as my announcing that I’ve annexed my neighbor’s backyard. In 1980 the United Nations explicitly rejected Israel’s claim to possess East Jerusalem. And the United States, which normally vetoes U.N. resolutions that Israel finds threatening, chose not to do so in this case.In short, accepting Gary Bauer’s idea of what it means to be anti-Israel seems to involve being anti-truth. So I don’t accept it."
Wright argues that Israel's expansionist policy is creating "a condition that would be increasingly reminiscent of apartheid," a point made in stronger form by Ali Abunimah at CNN.com yesterday:

"Globally, Israel faces a growing campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions just like apartheid South Africa did in the 1980s. A leading Israeli think tank, the Reut Institute, warned the government recently that this campaign "possesses strategic significance, and may develop into a comprehensive existential threat within a few years."

It also stated that a "harbinger of such a threat would be the collapse of the two-state solution as an agreed framework for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the coalescence behind a 'one-state solution' as a new alternative framework." With its aggressive settlement expansion plans, Israel has in effect chosen a one-state instead of a two-state solution -- but it is indeed an apartheid state."

The discourse is shifting, and you can help. Check out the US Campaign's media action resources, and organize in your community to oppose military aid to Israel and promote boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel's violations of international law and human rights.

From a US Campaign Steering Committee member: Urgent Plea from UC Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine

---------- URGENT PLEA FROM UC BERKELEY STUDENTS FOR JUSTICE IN PALESTINE Thank you so much to all of the people who joined us on Wednesday night to support the ASUC bill urging divestment from companies that directly fund Israel's illegal occupation and war crimes (General Electric and United Technologies) , and to all who sent letters in support of the bill to senators these last couple of weeks. We could not have accomplished the 16-4 win without the massive support we received from the UC community and beyond. Now, we need your help one last time to get this bill fully passed. Tomorrow is the last day ASUC President Will Smelko can VETO this bill and we have believe he is considering such action. We hope you can find one last surge of energy and put it toward emails to President Smelko. We know he is now receiving a large number of emails urging him to veto the bill. We NEED to counter this by showing him the great level of support behind the bill, which he could not have seen Wednesday as he was not present at the Senate meeting. Please send an email to President Smelko and let him know that you support this bill and ask him not to veto it. Even a one-liner would help! President Will Smelko's email: president@asuc. org -- UPDATE: US Campaign member group Jewish Voice for Peace now has a form email available on their website.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A week in the life of a changing discourse on Israel/Palestine

Well, I (US Campaign National Media Coordinator David Hosey) just returned from a speaking tour in the Chicagoland area, and apparently while I was gone it became mainstream to challenge U.S. military aid to Israel and divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation. In all seriousness, though, what a week it's been. The much-publicized Israeli settlement-announcement-smack-in-the-face of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has created a storm of responses, many of them calling for the United States to condition or cut military aid to Israel. It was enough to make us wonder whether Biden was reading from our talking points! Mondoweiss covers just one example of this wave of support for ending U.S. military aid--a flurry of responses to CNN's Jack Cafferty's question "Is it time for the U.S. to get tough on Israel?" Check it out: US Campaign National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner appeared on a number of radio shows to discuss holding Israel accountable for a real settlement freeze, including a 20-minute live interview w/KPFK 90.7FM Los Angeles' Uprising! on March 12, a 15-minute live interview w/ WZBC Boston's Sounds of Dissent on March 13, a 1-hour live interview with 1450 AM Chicago's Radio Islam on March 15, and a 10-minute live interview w/ WBAI 99.5FM New York City also on March 15. Additionally, an Indiana University professor has come out in support of ending U.S. military aid, Time Magazine's Joe Klein has questioned AIPAC's opposition to the Obama Administration, and Jim Wall comments on some of the media coverage of Netanyahu's defiance on his Wallwritings blog. Even New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, no friend of human rights, sounds a bit frustrated with Israel (although Jim Wall points out that his framework is still completely skewed). On today's Democracy Now! broadcast, past US Campaign conference speaker Norman Finkelstein responded to comments by Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at this weekend's AIPAC conference: To add to the growing momentum around ending U.S. military aid to Israel, U.S. General David Petraeus has claimed that ongoing U.S. support for the Israeli occupation endangers U.S. troops abroad:
"On Jan. 16, two days after a killer earthquake hit Haiti, a team of senior military officers from the U.S. Central Command (responsible for overseeing American security interests in the Middle East), arrived at the Pentagon to brief Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The team had been dispatched by CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus to underline his growing worries at the lack of progress in resolving the issue. The 33-slide, 45-minute PowerPoint briefing stunned Mullen. The briefers reported that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CENTCOM's mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region, and that Mitchell himself was (as a senior Pentagon officer later bluntly described it) "too old, too slow ... and too late."
Frankly, we don't think that the United States should be involved in ANY foreign military occupation, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, or the occupied Palestinian territory, but nevertheless it's worth noting that criticism of U.S. support of Israel war crimes is gaining ground even with the U.S. military establishment. -- In other major news, the UC Berkeley Student Senate has voted to "to divest from companies who have supplied the state of Israel with materials used in alleged war crimes." Check out an article in the UC Berkeley newspaper, a press release from UC Berkeley SJP, and a response from Omar Barghouti of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, who refers to the divestment resolution as "the watershed, the crossing of the threshold in the spread of BDS across the US that many of us have been waiting to see." The SJP press release states:
"For the first time in the University of California history, the UC Berkeley Student Senate has approved a bill to divest from two US companies in response to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and to Israel’s siege and bombardment of the Gaza Strip. The Senate bill directs both the UC Regents and the Student Government to divest from General Electric and United Technologies. General Electric manufactures Apache helicopter engines; United Technologies manufactures Sikorsky helicopters and F-16 aircraft engines. In addition, the bill creates a task force to look into furthering a socially responsible investment policy for the UC system."
Congratulations to UC Berkeley, and to everyone who continues working to change the U.S. discourse and take real action for justice, peace, and human rights. Change--real change--is happening in front of our eyes!

Corrie family trial updates

As the Corrie family's suit against the Israeli Defense Ministry continues, you can check out trial updates here. Rachel Corrie speaking two days before her she was killed by a D9 Caterpillar bulldozer driven by the Israeli military and provided by U.S. military aid: Rachel's 5th grade speech, from US Campaign member group Rachel Corrie Foundation:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Our tax dollars hard at work: U.S. bullet kills 16-year old, wounds 19-year old in the West Bank

From our allies at Stop the Wall:
"This afternoon the Israeli military killed 16-year old Mohammad Qadus from Iraq Burin, a village south of Nablus, with a live round on his heart. A second youth, Asaud Qadus, 19 years old, was critically injured after being shot in the head. Mohammad was trying to carry Asaud to safety when he was hit."
Find out more about U.S. arms transfers to Israel and how they are used to killed Palestinian civilians by clicking here. But don't just learn more--take action to end U.S. military aid to Israel.
Because this has to end.

Friday, March 12, 2010

CNN: Parents demand Israeli answers

(I'll be speaking in the Chicago area over the next week, so the blog might be a bit sporadic over the next few days. For updates on the Corrie family's lawsuit against the Israeli Defense Ministry, click here; and click here for resources and events for Rachel Corrie Remembrance Day on March 16. -- David Hosey, US Campaign National Media Coordinator)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

US Campaign in Ha'aretz on Biden's condemnation of Israeli settlement building

An article in today's Ha'aretz (Israeli daily newspaper) asks "How did U.S. groups react to Biden's condemnation of Israel?" And lo and behold, they look to the US Campaign for answers:
"U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's condemnation of Israel's plan to construct 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem was welcomed on Wednesday by advocacy groups and analysts who called for Israel to be held accountable for actions that undermine peace talks with the Palestinians. The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (U.S. Campaign) lauded Biden's statement "condemning the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem" and his promise that the United States will hold Israel "accountable for any statements or actions that inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of talks." According to Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director of the U.S. Campaign, "It's about time that the Obama administration is threatening to hold Israel accountable for obstructing U.S. policy goals to end illegal settlement expansion in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem and lift the illegal blockade of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian Gaza Strip." "The Obama administration must move from warnings to concrete steps to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing defiance of U.S. policy goals and international law," Ruebner added. "The most appropriate way of holding Israel accountable would be to cut off the $3 billion in military aid to Israel proposed by President Obama in his FY2011 budget request." "
Read the rest of the article here, and take action to oppose $3 billion in military aid to Israel by clicking here.

EU Parliament endorses Goldstone Report; Russell Tribunal calls for sanctions of Israel

Two major developments in Europe: The Russell Tribunal on Palestine, which met to examine the European Union's complicity in Israeli occupation, has concluded that the EU should sanction Israel for its violations of international law. The Tribunal is non-binding but includes many EU parliamentarians, policy makers, and jurors: Additionally, the European Parliament has voted to endorse the Goldstone Report on war crimes committed by the Israel and Hamas during Israel's 22-day assault on the Gaza Strip last year. Ha'aretz reports:
"The European Parliament on Wednesday urged its 27-member states to monitor the Israeli and Palestinian probes into alleged war crimes committed during last year's late-winter conflict in Gaza. The resolution backed the findings of a UN-appointed expert panel chaired by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, which concluded that both sides committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the war that began in December 2008 and ended in January 2009. The parliamentary move, which would give the EU an unprecedented role in evaluating the progress of Israel's war crimes probe, was sharply criticized by Israel."
These advances come on the heels of a ruling by the EU high court that products produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank are not covered by trade agreements between the EU and Israel and are thus subject to import duties.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Corrie family in Israel for lawsuit against Israeli government

7 years after U.S. peace activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by a Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer driven by the Israeli military, the Corrie family is in Israel pursuing a civil suit against the Israeli Defense Minister.
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviewed Rachel's parents, Cindy and Craig Corrie, and her sister, Sarah Corrie Simpson, before they left the United States: The story of the trial was also featured prominently on CNN.com, and Al Jazeera English carried an interview with the Corries:
The Rachel Corrie Foundation, a member group of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, have issued a call for action on March 16, which marks 7 years since Rachel's death. You can see the call to action below, and you can also find resources for action on the US Campaign website and learn more about the campaign to stop Caterpillar's complicity in the Israeli occupation, including the use of Caterpillar bulldozers during Operation Cast Lead.
This month, a civil lawsuit in Israel in the case of our daughter Rachel Corrie will converge with the seven-year anniversary of her killing in Gaza. A human rights observer and activist, Rachel, 23, was crushed to death by an Israel Defense Force (IDF) Caterpillar D9R bulldozer as she tried nonviolently to offer protection for a Palestinian family whose home was threatened with demolition. This lawsuit is one piece of our family’s seven-year effort to pursue accountabiliy for Rachel while, also, challenging the Occupation that claimed her life.
International Day of Conscience - Rachel Corrie Day of Action - Be Visible
In what some will mark as an “International Day of Conscience,” on March 16 (or in days before and after) please help us bring attention to the trial in Israel in Rachel's case and the larger, but connected, issues. Try to be visible - in events, vigils, and actions that call for truth, accountability and justice, in Rachel’s case and link to the following:
Lack of accountability for thousands of lives lost, or indelibly injured, by occupation—in a besieged and beleaguered Gaza and throughout Palestine/Israel.
The Israeli Government and Military assault on nonviolent human rights activists (Palestinian, Israeli, and international).
Lack of access for Palestinians to Israeli courts.
Help us make your effort visible.
Post your event/activity at the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation website: http://www.endtheoccupation.org/form.php?id=131 List it as a March 16-Rachel Corrie Day of Action event. Send word of your event to info@rachelcorriefoundation.org
Break the Gaza Blockade - Contact the White House
Comment line: 202-456-1111
 FAX: 202-456-2461 E-mail at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact
On March 16th please contact the White House and tell President Obama that if Israel will not break the siege of Gaza, then the United States must do so. Call for the United States to break the Gaza blockade, provide immediate humanitarian aid, and urge Special Envoy Mitchell to visit Gaza. See Congressman Brian Baird's call (after his recent visit to Gaza) for the U.S. to end the blockade. http://www.baird.house.gov/index.phpoption=com_content&task=view&id=1054&Itemid=99
For information about the trial in Rachel Corrie's case in Haifa District Court in Israel, beginning Wednesday, March 10, and to sign up for trial alerts, please visit the Rachel Corrie Foundation website at http://www.rachelcorriefoundation.org.
Please pass the word along to others!
We expect this to be a challenging time, but the friendship we have felt from so many of you over the years will help us navigate the weeks ahead. Though the course and outcome of
the trial are unknown, we welcome the opportunity to raise and highlight many of the critical issues to which Rachel's case is linked. Thank you for your continuing support.
In solidarity and with much appreciation,
Cindy & Craig Corrie

Amer Shurrab and Dorothy Zellner discuss "Friends of the IDF" Protest with GRITtv

Over 20 activist groups, including member groups of the US Campaign, protested a gala dinner aimed at raising support for the Israeli military and featuring IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. Groups organizing the protest included US Campaign member groups American Jews for a Just Peace, Adalah-NY, Women in Black Union Square, Jewish Voice for Peace, ICAHD-USA, Progressive Democrats of America, CODEPINK, and Brooklyn for Peace. Check out photos of the protest here. Amer Shurrab, a Middlebury College graduate from Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip who lost two of his brothers in last year's 22-day assault on Gaza by the Israeli military, and Dorothy Zellner, founder of Jews Say No, appeared on GRITtv with Laura Flanders to discuss the Friends of the protestL. You can watch the livestream here: Amer previously appeared with Rep. Dennis Kucinich and US Campaign National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner at a February 2, 2009 policy briefing on Capitol Hill, entitled "Armed and Dangerous: Weapons Transfers to Israel during the Bush Administration." Find out more about U.S. weapons transfers to Israel and how you can oppose them by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Your Tax Dollars at Work: Mazin Qumsiyeh, past US Campaign Steering Committee member and nonviolent activist, threatened with arrest

Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, a geneticist, author, leader of nonviolent resistance in the Palestinian town of Beit Sahour, and a past member of the US Campaign Steering Committee, is facing arrest when he returns to the occupied West Bank this week. Mazin writes in the New Haven Register (emphasis added):
On March 1, shortly after I left my village near Bethlehem for a visit home to the United States, the Israeli army invaded the neighborhood and surrounded our house at 1:30 a.m. My mother, sister and wife, terrorized for no reason, told the military I was out of the country but would be “happy” to talk to them upon my return. The soldiers delivered a note demanding my appearance in a military compound five days later — a date I have missed because my ticket was scheduled for a few days later. I thus face the likelihood of arrest, administrative detention or worse when I go back. My story is just a minor manifestation of a disturbing pattern. As civil resistance against Israel’s West Bank apartheid wall and settlement activities have increased, there has been an escalation of Israeli repression of nonviolent protesters. Nonviolent resistance to colonization and occupation are consistent with international law and U.S. policies. President Barack Obama has stated that settlement activities in the occupied territories must stop as a prelude to ending the occupation that started in 1967. Yet, Israeli authorities continue settlement activities apace, while intensifying attacks against peaceful vigils and protests against this indefensible behavior. Obama also gave clear encouragement to nonviolent Palestinian demonstrators in his Cairo speech, yet has remained silent as nonviolent demonstrators have been seized in recent weeks by the Israeli military. Bethlehem has suffered significantly because of Israeli actions. The district is squeezed now by illegal Israeli settlements and military installations on three sides. Bethlehem’s 130,00 residents have access to only 20 percent of the original land of the district. The settlers, protected by the Israeli military, now want to build a settlement in the only remaining open side of Bethlehem — to the east in an area called Ush Ghrab. The people of my village, Beit Sahour, are known for a history of nonviolent resistance, including a tax revolt in 1988 against the Israeli military government. We are a town with limited resources, comprised of 70 percent Christians and 30 percent Muslims, but have a highly educated middle class with more than 300 holders of doctorates among the population of 12,000. Having lost so much land, and being well-informed and connected to the outside world, we decided to nonviolently resist the additional Israeli encroachment on our town. The Israeli response relied on brute force. Our first prayer vigil was attacked while a Lutheran priest was leading us in prayer. As a member of the committee that organized the vigil and another peaceful event a week later, I was targeted. An Israeli officer warned me not to participate and threatened me, noting he knew I was planning to come home to the U.S. for a lecture tour. Given that the Israeli government receives billions in U.S. military aid, my taxes and yours at work, our government should defend those of us who engage in nonviolent protests. I was encouraged last week, therefore, in meeting with the office of U.S. Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that his office will pursue my concerns with the State Department and the Israeli government. While I fear for myself, I am more worried for other activists who do not have the minimal protection of a U.S. passport. And, I am terribly worried for our future as we are squeezed into smaller and smaller apartheid-like Bantustans. We will not be deterred from nonviolent protest. Despite being let down by numerous governments, we look to the United States and elsewhere in the international community to help defend us from abusive and violent responses to nonviolence.
Here's video of the Israeli army attack on the Ush Ghraib prayer vigil that Mazin mentions in his op-ed: In yet another example of our tax dollars hard at work in the West Bank, last week a 14-year old Palestinian boy named Ehab Fadel Barghouthi was shot in the head with a rubber coated steel bullet while protesting confiscation of the village land of Nabi Saleh by the Israeli settlement of Halamish. Ehab remains in critical condition in a Ramallah hosptial. The United States provides many of the "riot control" munitions that are used by the Israeli military—in one year (FY2007) alone, the United States gave Israel 121,991 pieces of teargas and riot control agents valued at $1,654,536. As Congress begins considering President Obama's FY2011 budget request, which includes $3 billion in military aid to Israel, and tax day approaches, now is the time to oppose aid to Israel and offset our tax contributions to Israeli military occupation. We have to step up the pressure so that Mazin and hundreds of other nonviolent Palestinian activists can do their work without fear of crushing reprisal and repression. We have to step up the pressure so that 14-year old boys don't have to be afraid of being shot by U.S.-made weapons. We have to step up the pressure--for human rights, for international law, and for a just peace. What can you do? 1) Contact the State Department at 202-647-6575 or email them by clicking here (and then select the Email a Question/Comment tab) and ask them to intervene with Israel to prevent the unjust arrest of U.S. citizen Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh and all other Palestinian nonviolent activists who are facing repression for heeding President Obama's call for Palestinians to win "full and equal rights" through "peaceful and determined insistence". 2) Oppose $3 billion in U.S. military aid to Israel in FY2011 by clicking here. 3) Offset your tax dollars to Israeli military occupation by clicking here. 4) Work to change U.S. policy by joining our Congressional District Coordinators network by clicking here. 5) Comment on Mazin's op-ed in the New Haven Register and/or write to the paper thanking them for giving space to leaders of nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation. You can find tips and tools for writing letters to the editor by clicking here.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Omar Barghouti debates BDS, Israeli Apartheid with Rabbi Arthur Waskow

After a day packed with events in Washington, DC (including a standing-room only event at Busboys & Poets featuring local artist Head-Roc), Palestinian human rights activist and BDS advocate Omar Barghouti headed to the West Coast, where Democracy Now! caught up with him for a debate on BDS and Israeli apartheid with Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center. Check it out: A couple of comments. First, it's obvious that, as in the South African case, support for Israeli apartheid comes both from governmental sources (half of the uses of the U.S. veto were to defend Israel from criticism; a third of the United States' veto votes were to defend apartheid regimes in southern Africa from criticism) and from economic and corporate sources. Secondly, we are proud to represent exactly the sort of widespread social movement--a movement that includes Jews, Christians, and Muslims, as well as thousands of concerned citizens--that gives lie to Rabbi Waskow's claim that "Those are the only Americans, aside, I guess, from the big oil, who care about the Middle East." Third, Omar Barghouti is right--opposing U.S. military aid and working to change U.S. policy is not at all in conflict with the BDS movement. In fact, the US Campaign is working to do just that, within the framework of international law, human rights, and equality for all that is also called for by Palestinian civil society. Even as I write this, hundres of participants in the US Campaign/Interfaith Peace-Builders' Grassroots Lobby Day are on Capitol Hill, meeting with their members of Congress to advocate for a more just and accountable U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine. Whether you're in Washington DC today or not, you can be part of this movement. Click here to take action against the $3 billion in U.S. military aid that the Obama administration has requested for FY2011. Click here to find out how to get involved in BDS in your community. And click here to learn more about Israeli apartheid and what you can do to oppose it. This movement is moving--and you can be a part of it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Critical Thinker: "I'm curious what term Cohen would deem appropriate"

We're happy to introduce guest blogger Critical Thinker, who has this to say about Richard Cohen's apartheid-denying column in the Washington Post. Find media action resources for your own response to Cohen and other defenders of Israeli apartheid by clicking here.
I'm curious then as to what term Cohen would deem appropriate to describe the systematic denial of building permits for Palestinians while Israel continues to build illegal settlements, the eviction of Palestinians from East Jerusalem while Jewish settlers take over their homes, the unequal distribution of Palestinian water to the disproportionate benefit of Israel and the settlements over Palestinians, and the approval of "Jews-only housing" in Jaffa. The simple truth is, while Israeli policies do not match up perfectly to those of the South African apartheid regime, there is no question that they are still discriminatory, a violation of Palestinians' most basic human rights, cannot be defended on security grounds, and must be resisted by people of conscience.

Richard Cohen says it's not apartheid. He's wrong. Here's why.

In an op-ed in this morning's Washington Post entitled "Israel has its faults, but apartheid isn't one of them", Richard Cohen attacks Israeli Apartheid Week and argues that Israel is not guilty of the crime of apartheid. Cohen's column--which also appears in the New York Daily News--uses many of the same tricks and distractions that critics of Israel's violations of international law have become used to, from dismissing the reality of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip (he refers to the West Bank as "more or less under military rule") to changing the topic (Saudi Arabia is brought up as if the human rights violations of the Saudi government somehow abrogate those of the Israeli government). But Cohen also launches a full frontal attack on civil society responses to Israeli apartheid, particularly Israeli Apartheid Week, which is being observed on campuses and in communities around the world this week:
"A recent op-ed on Israel in the Financial Times employs the word apartheid several times. Some of the time it seems to be applied to the West Bank, but other times it is applied to Israel proper. Either way, this shoe doesn't fit. (Security concerns are not rooted in racism.) The author of the piece is Henry Siegman, a harsh critic of Israeli policies and a former executive director of the American Jewish Congress, so anti-Semitism is not the issue here -- just sound judgment. Sometimes impatience can lead to imprudence. But anti-Semitism is not so easily dismissed with others. This is "Israeli Apartheid Week" on campuses across the world, and it is clear that what furiously animates many of the protesters are not legitimate grievances but imaginary ones. Israel is not above criticism and the Palestinians have their case, but when that case is constructed out of lies about the Jewish state, it not only represents a wholly unoriginal cover of some old anti-Semitic ditties but also denigrates the Palestinian cause. It does not need lies."
How original, Mr. Cohen. If you don't agree with critics of Israel, call them anti-Semitic liars--or, if they're Jewish, question their motives. (As Glenn Greenwald points out at Salon.com, if the person using the term "apartheid" is a hawkish Israeli official such as Ehud Olmert or Ehud Barak, simply ignore that they said what they said, even if it's much more recent news than Jimmy Carter's book.) Then pretend that you know what's best for the Palestinian cause--that you know better than hundreds of Palestinian, Israeli, and international civil society organizations calling for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israeli occupation and apartheid. But of course, they must all be liars, or anti-Semites, or both. Mr. Cohen is wrong about Israeli Apartheid Week, wrong about civil society responses to injustice and oppression, and wrong about apartheid. Here's just a smattering of examples of why Israel's policies toward Palestinians--residents of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, citizens of Israel, or refugees--are violations of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid:
  • The Convention on Apartheid identifies the "expropriation of landed property" of a particular racial, ethnic, or identity group as one of the "inhuman acts" that constitute the crime of apartheid. The South African apartheid regime broke the country into 10 noncontiguous Bantustans made of 13% of the total land, which were to serve as “homelands” for the black population. Israel’s “separation wall/fence” and settlements have broken the Palestinian territories into 12 noncontiguous cantons representing only 12% of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
  • The Convention condemns "Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including...the right to freedom of movement and residence." Palestinians rely on Israeli-issued “permits” to travel through a system of more than 600 checkpoints within the occupied territories. Israeli refusal to issue permits regularly prevents Palestinians from getting to schools, jobs, and even hospitals. In apartheid South Africa Blacks could be arrested to being outside of Bantustans and townships without government issued “passes.”
  • Black people in South Africa could not be citizens, and Colored people were only granted limited citizenship rights. Palestinians in the occupied territories are not citizens of any state, and Palestinian citizens of Israel have different citizenship rights than Israeli Jews. Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are not citizens of Israel--instead, they have a partial "residency" status, one that can be taken away by the state if an individual is deemed to "no longer reside" in their city of birth.
  • East Jerusalem and the West Bank are splintered by a network of roads leading to illegal Israeli settlements (where residence is open only for Jewish citizens of Israel); these roads can only be used by Israelis, while Palestinians must use older, often unpaved roads.
  • Within Israel, Palestinian citizens are discriminated against by a series of laws, policies, and regulations, including restrictions on the right of Palestinians to own land, inequalities in funding of schools and municipalities, inequalities in the land open to development around Arab towns and cities versus Jewish towns and cities, inequalities in the granting of building permits, and citizenship laws that discriminate against Palestinians. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel recently issued a challenge to one of these discriminatory citizenship laws, which bans Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens from gaining Israeli citizenship. (For more information on the discrimination faced by Palestinian citizens of Israel, check out the Arab Association for Human Rights, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and Adalah Legal Center for Minority Rights in Israel).
  • Citizenship laws also discriminate against Palestinian refugees, who are denied their right of return while Israel grants citizenship to any Jewish person from anywhere in the world.
  • Even in language, Israel's policies toward Palestinians resemble apartheid. The Hebrew word "hafrada," which is used to refer to the Wall and to the policy of "disengagement," means separation (as in "separation barrier"). Apartheid is an Afrikaner word which also means separation.
So no, Mr. Cohen. Civil society critics of Israeli policy are not anti-Semitic, nor are they liars. Their use of the term "apartheid" is based in international law and fact. Your vague accusations and dissembling, on the other hand, have no basis in reality. Don't let Richard Cohen--or the Washington Post or New York Daily News--off the hook. Use our talking points and media action resources to write letters to the editor explaining why Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid. Write blogs and op-eds, update Facebook statuses, and send Tweets about Israeli apartheid and the international BDS movement that is working to end it. And get involved in the BDS movement yourself--in your community, your congregation, or your campus. Mr. Cohen: It is apartheid. And I ain't lyin'. (US Campaign National Media Coordinator David Hosey at an anti-Wall protest in al-Ma'sara, Bethlehem district)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Israeli Apartheid Week is here--and the world is taking notice!

Today kicks off the 6th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week, an international effort to raise awareness of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and to strengthen the global movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israeli occupation and apartheid. US Campaign member groups and supporters are joining organizations and individuals around the world in events and actions to educate, mobilize, and empower their communities toward a just peace based on international law, human rights, and equality for all. And they are getting noticed. Ilana Giglioli of the University of Toronto writes in Electronic Intifada that despite harassment and institutional repression, "IAW is taking place in more than 40 cities in five continents, and is a key event in the yearly calendar of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement." The Israeli daily Ha'aretz chronicles the participation of Israeli activists and educators in IAW events, while the Jerusalem Post interviews Dax D'Orazio of Students Against Israeli Apartheid at Carleton University, who argues that the attacks on Israeli Apartheid Week are "part of an ongoing campaign to blur the line between the advocacy of Palestinian rights and anti-Semitism.” Attacks? Yes, as you might expect, there are plenty to go around. Alex Kane summarizes much of the media coverage--positive and negative--of Israeli Apartheid Week at Mondoweiss. And Rabble.ca is reporting on a resolution passed in the Canadian parliament condemning IAW (you thought the U.S. Congress was bad!). Rabble also has a more detailed response from the students of Carleton University to the official harassment and censorship faced by IAW organizers. But don't just read all this great coverage--take action during Israeli Apartheid Week! Click here for action resources, and here to learn how you can participate in our March 2 Media Day of Action.