Friday, January 29, 2010

NYT reports on Palestinian nonviolence, UA students target Caterkiller, video of Netherlands boycott action, Dr. Zinn, and more

A lot happening today, and not a whole lot of time to update, so I'm just going to post a few items that might be of interest: 1) Mondoweiss is carrying some good updates on President Obama being challenged over U.S. aid to Israel and Palestinian human rights in Tampa yesterday. Phil Weiss refers to Obama's response as a "meltdown," and US Campaign Steering Committee member Adam Horowitz quotes Laila Abdelaziz, the student who raised the question about aid to Israel, from an interview with a local news station:
"How are the Palestinian people supposed to do anything if they’re the ones being occupied? The occupiers have to allow for something to happen which they have not yet allowed to happen. I asked President Obama why he says America as a nation supports human rights, but at the same time, one of our greatest allies is Israel, a country that does not support human rights, and has many human rights violations. President Obama did not really answer my question or address it, so I’m really disappointed right now."
2) The New York Times has finally noticed the growing movement of Palestinian nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation and apartheid. The Times reports on the recent arrest of Bil'in leader Mohammad Khatib:
"“Bilin is no longer about the struggle for Bilin,” said Mr. Khatib, who was arrested in August and has been awaiting trial on an incitement charge. “This is part of a national struggle,” he said, adding that ending the Israeli occupation was the ultimate goal. Before dawn on Thursday soldiers came to Mr. Khatib’s home in Bilin and took him away again."
Mondoweiss has a good critique of the Times article. Click here for media action resources, and click here to demand the release of Mohammad Khatib, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, and other jailed leaders of grassroots Palestinian resistance. 3) Gabriel Schivone of the University of Arizona Community for Human Rights has a great article at the UA Daily Wildcat about the university's investments in Caterpillar. Here's a quick excerpt:
"Beginning in October 2009, the student-led University Community for Human Rights began to approach the College of Engineering to make known the campus investigation into the company, provide information on Caterpillar, discuss alternatives with the college and make recommendations. In an e-mail sent last Thursday, College of Engineering Dean Jeff Goldberg wrote, “Funny, but nobody here had any idea of what Caterpillar is accused of doing … Something tells me that we would not be where we are right now (if the college) had known.” But as the contract remains intact on campus — and the college’s knowledge of Caterpillar’s activities grows — the range of criticism is persists....It’s quite clear the administration now knows about Caterpillar’s “instruments of destruction” which the UA has sadly been endorsing for six long, destructive years."
Read the full article, find out more about the campaign against Caterkiller, and check out the US Campaign's resources for campus groups. You can also keep up with the latest media coverage of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) by clicking here. 4) Yesterday we shared a link to an article about Israel/Palestine by Howard Zinn. We continue to honor his memory today by posting this link a speech by Dr. Zinn on Mark Braverman's Politics of Hope blog, entitled "We must transfer our anger to the brutalities of our time," as well as this excerpt from his writing on CommonDreams. 5) The "Dear Colleague" letter signed by 54 Members of Congress which calls for an end to the Israeli blockade and collective punishment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip has been getting some media attention. The Jewish Telegraph Agency reported on the letter, as did the Minnesota Independent. It's not too late "cheer or jeer" your member of Congress for their response to the letter by clicking here. 6) And finally, check out this inspiring list of 2009 BDS victories from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), and this great video of a boycott action at a supermarket in the Netherlands:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

President Obama challenged on aid to Israel, violations of Palestinian human rights in Tampa

Ma'an News Agency reports:
"US President Barack Obama said on Thursday that the United States would always ensure Israel's security but that Washington must also pay attention to the plight of the Palestinians...."Last night in your State of the Union address, you spoke of America's support for human rights," said a university student, who added that she worked on Obama's campaign last year. "Then why have we not condemned Israel and Egypt's human rights violations against the occupied Palestinian people? We continue to support [Israel and Egypt] financially, with billions of dollars coming from our tax dollars."
We're not so impressed with Obama's answer--but we are impressed that a question about Palestinian human rights and U.S. aid to Israel was the first one asked, and that it was a student who'd worked on Obama's campaign that asked it. Slowly, slowly, the discourse is changing--when was the last time you heard a question about U.S. aid to Israel being aired on CNN? Join us in changing the discourse by using our media action resources and by attending the Grassroots Advocacy Training and Lobby Day that we're co-hosting with US Campaign member group Interfaith Peace-Builders in March.

Howard Zinn on Palestine: "[T]he advance of "civilization" involved what we would today call "ethnic cleansing."

Howard Zinn, historian, activist, author of A People's History of the United States, and advisory board member of US Campaign member group Jewish Voice for Peace, has died at the age of 87. His death is a great loss for all those involved in the struggle against U.S. militarism and violations of human rights. Here is Zinn, writing in Tikkun Magazine about his developing understanding of Palestine and Israel (Tikkun is a member group of the US Campaign):
"It did not occur to me--so little did I know about the Middle East--that the establishment of a Jewish state meant the dispossession of the Arab majority that lived on that land. I was as ignorant of that as, when in school, I was shown a classroom map of American "Western Expansion" and assumed the white settlers were moving into empty territory. In neither case did I grasp that the advance of "civilization" involved what we would today call "ethnic cleansing."....It was only after the "Six-Day War" of 1967 and Israel's occupation of territories seized in that war (the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, the Sinai peninsula) that I began to see Israel not simply as a beleaguered little nation surrounded by hostile Arab states, but as an expansionist power....I had long since understood that the phrases "national security" and "national defense" were used by the United States government to justify aggressive violence against other countries. Indeed, there was a clear bond between Israel and the United States in their respective foreign polices, illustrated by the military and economic support the United States was giving to Israel..."
Check out today's Democracy Now! special on Howard Zinn, and click here to find out how you can work against modern day ethnic cleansing made possible by the military and economic support the United States continues to give to Israel.

Mohammad Khatib, yet another leader of nonviolent struggle against Wall in Bil'in, arrested by Israeli military

Yet another high profile Palestinian leader of nonviolent resistance to the Apartheid Wall has been arrested by the Israeli military. Mohammad Khatib, a leader of the struggle against the Wall in the West Bank village of Bil'in and a coordinator of the Popular Struggle Coordinating Committee, was taken from his house in a pre-dawn raid. You can demand his release, as well as the release of Abdallah Abu Rahmah and other anti-apartheid prisoners, by clicking here. Additionally, Palestinian anti-Wall activists and grassroots leaders continue to call for solidarity in the form of campaigns of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS). Find out how you can get involved in BDS in your community by clicking here. Here's an update about Mohammad Khatib's arrest from the Popular Struggle website:

Mohammed Khatib during a speaking his speaking tour in Canada last year. Pictures Credit: Tadamon! Mohammed Khatib during a speaking his speaking tour in Canada last year. Pictures Credit: Tadamon!

At a quarter to two AM tonight, Mohammed Khatib, his wife Lamia and their four young children were woken up by Israeli soldiers storming their home, which was surrounded by a large military force. Once inside the house, the soldiers arrested Khatib, conducted a quick search and left the house.

Roughly half an hour after leaving the house, five military jeeps surrounded the house again, and six soldiers forced their way into the house again, where Khatib's children sat in terror, and conducted another, very thorough search of the premises, without showing a search warrant. During the search, Khatib's phone and many documents were seized, including papers from Bil'in's legal procedures in the Israel High Court.

Israeli Soldiers violently preventing an international solidarity worker from entering Khatib's home tonight. Pictures Credit: Hamde Abu Rahmah  Israeli Soldiers violently preventing an international solidarity worker from entering Khatib's home tonight. Picture Credit: Hamde Abu Rahmah

The soldiers exited an hour and a half later, leaving a note saying that documents suspected as "incitement materials" were seized. International activists who tried to enter the house to be with the family during the search were aggressively denied entry.

Mohammed Khatib was previously arrested during the ongoing wave of arrests and repression on Augst 3rd, 2009 with charges of incitement and stone throwing. After two weeks of detention, a military judge ruled that evidence against him was falsified and ordered his release, after it was proven that Khatib was abroad at the time the army alleged he was photographed throwing stones during a demonstration.

Khatib's arrest today is the most severe escalation in a recent wave of repression again the Palestinian popular struggle and its leadership. Khatib is the 35th resident of Bil'in to be arrested on suspicions related to anti-Wall protest since June 23rd, 2009.

The recent wave of arrests is largely an assault on the members of the Popular Committees - the leadership of the popular struggle - who are then charged with incitement when arrested. The charge of incitement, defined under Israeli military law as "an attempt, whether verbally or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order," is a cynical attempt to punish grassroots organizing with a hefty charge and lengthy imprisonments. Such indictments are part of the army's strategy of using legal persecution as a means to quash the popular movement.

Similar raids have also been conducted in the village of alMaasara, south of Bethlehem, and in the village of Ni'ilin - where 110 residents have been arrested over the last year and half, as well as in the cities of Nablus, Ramallah and East Jerusalem.

Among those arrested in the recent campaign are three members of the Ni'ilin Popular Committee, Sa'id Yakin of the Palestinian National Committee Against the Wall, and five members of the Bil'in Popular Committee - all suspected of incitement.

Prominent grassroots activists Jamal Jum'a (East Jerusalem) and Mohammed Othman (Jayyous) of the Stop the Wall NGO, involved in anti-Wall and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigning, have recently been released from detention after being incarcerated for long periods based on secret evidence and with no charges brought against them.

Background links: [1] LA Times: Palestinians who see nonviolence as their weapon [2] Ynet: 2010 will see us beat the occupation

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

54 Representatives demand end to Gaza siege, declare that Israel's blockade of Gaza is "de facto collective punishment"

Unfortunately, it's not too often that we get the opportunity to thank Members of Congress for doing the right thing. That's why it's so important to do so when they do something that we ask of them. On January 21, 2010, 54 Representatives sent President Obama a letter that termed Israel's blockade of the occupied Gaza Strip as "de facto collective punishment" and called on the United States to press Israel "for immediate relief for the citizens of Gaza." To read the entire text of this "Dear Colleague" letter, organized by Rep. Jim McDermott and Rep. Keith Ellison, and to see the full list of signatories, please click here. Please take a moment to "cheer" your Representative for signing this important "Dear Colleague" letter calling attention to the devastating humanitarian impact of Israel's illegal blockade of the occupied Gaza Strip, or "jeer" your Representative for not signing the letter by clicking here. To learn more about how you can help change U.S. policies that sustain Israeli occupation and apartheid and deny equal rights for all, click here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Another Danish fund divests from Elbit systems!

Yesterday we reported that Dankse Bank has decided to exclude Elbit Systems and Africa Israel from its investment portfolio due to the companies' involvement in the Israeli occupation. Now there's more good news--one of the largest Danish pension funds has divested from Elbit as well as two U.S. companies that are involved with Israel's Apartheid Wall. Note that Elbit also has half of the contract on the Wall being built by the United States government on the Mexico border. Here's an excerpt from a press release issued by our allies at Stop the Wall:
"Danish Bank (Danske Bank), the biggest financial group in Denmark, has excluded Elbit Systems and Africa Israel from its investment portfolio because of their involvement in providing equipment for the Wall and in settlement construction. The Danish Bank is normally not quick to divest as its list of excluded companies has now risen to only 24 companies around the globe. However, Thomas H. Kjaergaard, responsible for socially responsible investment in the Danish Bank Group commented: "We handle clients 'interests, and we do not want to put customers' money in companies that violate international standards." PKA Ltd. (in Danish: Pensionskassernes Administration A/S), one of the largest funds administrating workers’ pension funds in Denmark, announced it would no longer consider investments in Elbit Systems, and US companies Megal Security Systems and Detection Systems. All three are supplying equipment for the Wall. PKA has sold shares in Elbit worth almost one million dollars. "The ICJ stated that the barrier only serves military purposes and violates Palestinian human rights. We cannot rule out the inclusion of other companies in our blacklist for their role in this area,” said Michael Nellemann, investment director of PKA. These decisions come in the wake of media pressure in Berlingske Tidende exposing the investments in companies investing in the settlements and aiding and supplying the construction of the Wall. The Norwegian government initiated the recent surge in divestments from the illegal wall announcing last September their decision to cut ties with Elbit systems."
Boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns are really taking off in Europe--and the movement is gaining strength here in the United States, too. Click here to get involved!

Powerful campus divestment video from Students Against Israeli Apartheid--Carleton University

Check out this powerful video from Students Against Israeli Apartheid at Carleton University in Ottawa: Learn how to start a divestment campaign on your own campus by clicking here. Learn more about the boycott of Motorola here. Click here to learn about Israeli Apartheid Week 2010--and email if you want to get involved in Israeli Apartheid Week in the United States!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Another divestment victory in Denmark as energy builds for campus divestment across North America

A Danish bank has added two Israeli companies that profit from the Israeli occupation to their list of companies that fail to meet the bank's Socially Responsible Investment standards, according to the Copenhagen Post Online. Settlement-builder Africa Israel and Apartheid Wall-contractor Elbit Systems were added to the "no investment" list of Dankse Bank. This is not the first time that either company has come under fire for its violation of human rights and international law in the occupied Palestinian territories. Africa Israel is majority-owned by New York-based diamond merchant Lev Leviev, a fact that has been highlighted by US Campaign member group Adalah-NY in a sustained campaign against Leviev's settlement-building and blood-diamond dealing activities. Leviev invests in Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank, including on the land of the Palestinian village of Bil'in, home of still-imprisoned Palestinian activist Abdallah Abu Rahmah. In March 2009, the British Embassy in Tel Aviv refused to rent space to Africa Israel due to the companies illegal activity in the West Bank. Elbit Systems, which is one of the major contractors involved in the building of Israel's Apartheid Wall and also has half of the contract on the U.S./Mexico border wall, has already lost investors due to its involvement in the Israeli Occupation, most notably the decision of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund to divest from Elbit in September 2009. Recently-freed Palestinian activist Mohammad Othman was arrested by Israel while returning from Norway to testify about the involvement of Elbit in the construction of the Wall. The Copenhagen Post Online quotes a representative of Dankse Bank on the reason for the bank's "no investment" decision:
"Thomas H. Kjærgaard, head of Danske Bank’s SRI department, told the bank was looking out for the interests of its customers by not ‘placing their money in companies that violate international standards’. ‘It’s not in itself against national legislation to build a house, but our SRI policy goes further than that. It adheres to UN conventions and analyses them in a political context. It’s the Nordic, UN and EU position that the settlements are illegal and a hindrance to a peaceful resolution. On that basis we can state that this is a violation of our SRI policy,’ he said."
Investors in other corporate profiteers--companies such as Caterpillar and Motorola that continue to make money at the expense of Palestinian lives, lands, and liberty--would do well to heed Kjærgaard's words. -- In other divestment news, the energy of campus divestment campaigns continues to grow. Here's Gabriel Schivone writing in the University of Arizona Daily Wildcat:
"In a letter dated Dec. 31, 2009, addressed to the student-led monitoring group, the University of Arizona Community for Human Rights, and to the faculty-based University Committee for Monitoring Labor and Human Rights Issues, the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church relayed its leading research on each Motorola and Caterpillar with regard to the companies’ involvement in the illegal military occupation of Palestine: “For years churches and human rights groups have met with Caterpillar and submitted resolutions urging it to stop providing bulldozers that demolish Palestinian homes.”

“During this time,” the church states, “Caterpillar has deepened its involvement with the occupation.” "

And here's Aidan McDonald of Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, writing at
"[D]espite Carleton President Roseann Runte's characterization of the university as an institution that is "engaged in solving real-world problems," and her proclamation that it emphasizes human rights and social justice, Students Against Israeli Apartheid -- Carleton (SAIA) has discovered that the Carleton University Pension Fund has tens of millions of dollars invested in...companies which are willing contributors to the litany of social and political ailments that plague our global community....Motorola, BAE and Northrop Grumman are perhaps the most egregious of the bunch, as they all supplied Israel with military equipment that was used in the 2008-2009 bombardment of Gaza....Adopting SRI would go a long way towards making Carleton a more ethical institution, and would align it with its obligations under international law. Similarly, divesting from these companies would be a major step for the BDS movement, and for the pursuit of justice for the Palestinian people. The international precedents for both actions have been set. The pressure is now on for Carleton to do the right thing."
Read the rest of Gabriel and Aidan's articles, and then find out how you can start your own campus divestment initiative.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Reppin' the US Campaign in Baltimore

Check out video of US Campaign National Media & Coalition Coordinator David Hosey at a vigil for Gaza in Baltimore on New Year's Day, organized by the Baltimore chapter of Women in Black in solidarity with the Gaza Freedom March At the end of the video, Hosey talks to vigil participants about the national boycott campaign directed against Motorola for its complicity in the Israeli occupation. (Video courtesy of Rev. Heber Brown's Faith in Action blog). More video of Baltimore vigil:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Stolen Beauty" Victory: Costco feels the love

The US Campaign recently released organizing resources and campaign kits for the boycott of Ahava, an Israeli cosmetics company that operates on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank. Here's news of a recent victory for the "Stolen Beauty" campaign against Ahava, from the blog of US Campaign member group CODEPINK: " In mid-December Rula Borelli, prompted by a friend who brought her attention to the fact that AHAVA products were on sale at Costco, sent a letter to the company asking them to remove AHAVA from their shelves, explaining about AHAVA’s illegal practices and the Stolen Beauty boycott campaign against them. Borelli then started a Facebook group called “Ask Costco to remove AHAVA from their shelves,” thinking that she could mobilize more people to contact Costco via the social networking site.

Borelli, who lives in Seattle, used the group, which soon grew to over 200 members, to bombard Costco with messages about AHAVA. She also encouraged the group’s members to join Costco’s fan page on Facebook where they posted messages about AHAVA to be read by Costco fans.

Borelli and others received non-committal formal replies from Costco representatives for almost a month. They were undaunted and continued sending messages to the company, until finally, in the second week of January, Borelli received a reply from a company representative saying:

“These items are pending delete in our system and once they have sold they are no longer available. Your concerns have been forwarded to our corporate offices.”

A search of the Costco online store for AHAVA turns up no results. But Borelli and her team of online organizers have turned up great results for the Stolen Beauty boycott campaign with their group efforts. No more AHAVA at Costco!

Join Rula’s “Ask Costco to remove AHAVA from their shelves” group and join the “Stolen Beauty AHAVA Boycott” Facebook group. You can follow The Stolen Beauty campaign on Twitter. Or go to Stolen Beauty for more information on our work towards a just and sustainable peace for Israelis and Palestinians."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Palestinians in Gaza donate to Haiti relief effort as siege of Gaza continues

According to a report from Democray Now!, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are donating to the relief effort in devastated Haiti even as the Israeli siege continues to prevent humanitarian and rebuilding aid from entering Gaza:
"Jamal Al-Khudari of the Committee Against the Siege on Gaza: 'We are sending donations, because, as Palestinian people, we suffered a lot, and we, the Palestinian people, feel more than other people of the world with the suffering of the people in Haiti. We suffer a lot, and we feel their suffering. That is why we decided to donate from the center of suffering, from the besieged Gaza.'"
Sharif Abdel Kouddous of Democracy Now! described the destruction in Haiti as "like Gaza" in a report filed on the ground from Haiti, comparing the effects of the massive earthquake that struck the island nation last week to the devastation and continuing effects of Israel's 22-day assault on the Gaza Strip last winter. The siege of Gaza continues to prevent aid, rebuilding materials, and commerce from flowing freely into the Gaza Strip. Sign up for our March 7-8, 2010 Grassroots Advocacy Training and Lobby Day in Washington, DC, to let your Members of Congress know that it's long past time for the siege to be lifted--and for U.S. policy to stop supporting Israel's violations of Palestinian human rights and international law.

Washington Post covers Israeli repression of nonviolent protest, BDS

This morning's edition of the Washington Post includes coverage of Israel's crackdown on nonviolent protest against its occupation and apartheid policies in East Jerusalem and the West Bank:
"Israel is arresting a growing number of prominent opponents to its policies toward the Palestinians, say critics who are accusing the government of trying to crush legitimate dissent. In the most high-profile case yet, Jerusalem police detained the leader of a leading Israeli human rights group during a vigil against the eviction of Palestinian families whose homes were taken by Jewish settlers."
The "leader of a leading Israeli human rights group" mentioned is Hagai Elad, the head of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel who was arrested recently in a protest against house evictions and settlement expansion in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. The article also highlights the recent release of anti-Wall activists and boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) proponents Jamal Juma' and Mohammad Othman, and the continuing detention of Bil'in anti-Wall leader Abdallah Abu Rahmah:
"Schoolteacher Abdullah Abu Rahmeh, a leader of the Bilin protests, has been held since last month on charges of incitement and weapons possession - the latter stemming from spent Israeli tear gas canisters, stun grenades and other munitions he collected to show visitors. Two high-profile Palestinian activists were recently released without being charged. Jamal Juma, coordinator of the Stop The Wall campaign, was held for 17 days. Mohammed Othman, who encourages a boycott against Israel, was released after nearly four months."
Mohammad Othman reveals that the constant interrogation he was subjected to focused on his involvement in the international BDS movement:
"Othman, who was arrested upon his return from an advocacy trip to Norway, said he was interrogated almost daily. "The questions focused on the boycott movement, 'How do you work on this and who are your contacts?'" said Othman, 33."
The defenders of Israeli occupation and apartheid sure are getting worried about international pressure, especially in the form of BDS. Join the movement that's causing this much nail biting among pro-apartheid forces by clicking here, and find out more about the movement worldwide by clicking here. You can find the Washington Post's letters to the editor policy here, and get tips on writing letters to the editor from our media action resources.

Freedom of the press doesn't sit well with "only democracy in Middle East": Israel deports U.S. journalist Jared Malsin

Israel has deported journalist and American citizen Jared Malsin, the English editor for the Palestinian news agency Ma'an. His deportation was reported by the Washington Post:
"Israel has deported an American journalist who worked for a Palestinian news agency. Israel's Interior Ministry said Wednesday that a court rejected Jared Malsin's appeal and boarded him on a flight to New York."
(UPDATE: The Washington Post has changed the headline of its story from "Israel deports American journalist" to "Detained American journalist opts to leave Israel." As Ma'an reports, however, "It is inexplicable that Malsin would knowingly drop the legal challenge after his first major success." There continues to be suspicion and confusion regarding the circumstances surrounding Malsin's deportation. Democracy Now! also reports on the deportation. ) Ma'an covers the case in more detail:
"For the first time in a week, journalist Jared Malsin was allowed to use his mobile phone on Wednesday morning to inform Ma'an that he was being placed onto an El Al flight to New York. He sounded shaken and confused. He said he did not know why he was not being flown to Prague, where he was expected to be sent, saying only that flying there "would create problems." He said he was in an armored vehicle that was transporting him to the airport gate. On Tuesday, Tel Aviv District Judge Kobi Vardi ordered that a hearing be scheduled to consider the Israeli Ministry of the Interior's decision to deport the journalist. Following the call, lawyer Castro Daoud went to the airport detention facility where Malsin has been kept for the past week to deliver the news. At about 2:30 pm, Daoud left the detention center and filed a motion requesting that Jared be permitted to leave the country while the hearing and case proceed in his absence. As the Attorney General's Office insisted that Malsin not be permitted to attend his hearing, Daoud argued that it was no longer necessary to keep him confined to his cell in the detention center. At about 4:30pm, staff from the US Embassy in Tel Aviv notified Malsin’s parents in the US state of New Hampshire that he would be on the next flight to Prague, even though Justice Vardi had not ruled on Daoud’s motion to let Malsin travel and still pursue the case. At about 7:30pm, Daoud expressed shock after he received notification that a motion was signed by Malsin requesting his deportation challenge be annulled. Justice Vardi has closed the case on Malsin’s deportation order one week after it was filed. Ma’an is deeply concerned that there was no lawyer present when Malsin apparently filed this independent motion, which was sent from the Ministry of the Interior and not his legal representative, who had just left. It is inexplicable that Malsin would knowingly drop the legal challenge after his first major success. Without jumping to conclusions, Ma’an wants to be sure these events did not take place under duress, and is consequently concerned that Malsin’s lawyer and parents were prevented from reaching him during the 24 hours before the deportation to clarify what happened between 2:30 and 4:30pm on Tuesday afternoon."

Friday, January 15, 2010

Democracy Now! reports on release of Palestinian activists, detention of U.S. journalist

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! reports on the release of Palestinian activists and human rights defenders Jamal Juma' and Mohammad Othman, as well as the detention by Israel of Jared Melsin, a U.S. citizen who is the chief editor of the English desk at the Ma'an News Agency. Ma'an and the BBC both have further details on this latest targeting of U.S. citizens by the Israeli government because of their activity in occupied Palestinian territory. Melsin was traveling with another U.S. citizen, Faith Rowold,who was a volunteer with the Lutheran Church. Their detention and deportation appears to be yet another aspect of the campaign of repression directed against activists, journalists, and church and aid workers who are critical of Israeli policy. In addition to the many Palestinian anti-apartheid activists and Israeli activists who have been arrested in recent months, Israeli forces have arrested and deported Eva Nováková, a Czech activist who had recently taken on the role of media coordinator for the International Solidarity Movement, as well as Ryan Olander, a U.S. citizen who was arrested for his involvement in protests against settlement expansion and house evictions in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. For more on increased Israeli repression, and the international pressure required to end it, read yesterday's blog post: "Release of Jamal Juma' and Mohammad Othman demonstrates importance of international grassroots pressure."

Phyllis Bennis on Haiti, Gaza, and more

US Campaign Steering Committee member Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies wrote the following on Haiti, Yemen, Afghanistan, Gaza, and first year of the Obama Adminsitration: " Catastrophe in Haiti, escalation in Afghanistan, new threats against Yemen, Israeli siege of Gaza tightens...and Obama's been in office a year now. Yikes. Dear Friends, The grim news from Haiti gets worse by the day and by the hour. Everything we can do should and must be done - in the short term, fundraising and support for emergency mobilizations of doctors, rescue workers and emergency response teams should be supported. In the medium and long term, we need to stand ready to challenge those who would take advantage of the catastrophe to impose what Naomi Klein has so memorably identified as the "shock doctrine" in Haiti, setting the stage for the disaster to become permanent. In fact, the Heritage Foundation unapologetically called for such a plan, describing how "the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to reshape Haiti's long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region." When Heritage realized the impact of saying this as thousands or tens of thousands of Haitians lay dead and dying, they deleted those words from the website. It isn't easy to continue our "regular" work - so much of which is crisis-driven already - in the face of such catastrophic human suffering. But the escalating wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the threats against Yemen, the squeezing of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip…none of them stopped for the earthquake in Haiti. Nor can we. So we continue, even as we look for ways to help the beleaguered people of Haiti. Yemen It doesn't look good. The United States punished Yemen 20 years ago by cutting off aid. Today, the United States is punishing Yemen by sending aid. I wrote in a new article in The Huffington Post that Barack Obama isn't the first U.S. president to find Yemen a challenge. And the current $70 million package of military and security assistance isn't the first $70 million U.S. aid program to Yemen. Two decades ago, then-President George H.W. Bush was preparing for his looming invasion of Iraq - what would become Operation Desert Storm. Like his son in 2002, Bush was eager to force a unanimous vote in the United Nations Security Council endorsing his war. But unlike George Junior, who abandoned the UN when the Council stood defiant against his illegal war, the first Bush was willing to pay - in expensive bribes and political concessions - to win what the great Pakistani scholar Eqbal Ahmad called "a multilateral fig-leaf for a unilateral war." To read the rest of the article, click here. (I hope you'll also leave a comment - it helps make my pieces on Huffington Post more visible…) Afghanistan My new book, written with my longtime friend and colleague David Wildman, has just been released, and I hope all of you will get a copy. Interlink Publishing will also make it available in bulk - if you buy 10 copies or more, you can get 40 percent off, sell the books, and use the money saved to support your organization's peace and justice work. Opposition to the Afghanistan war, which had risen to almost 60 percent, diminished after Obama's West Point speech explaining his intention to send more than 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. As I mentioned in my assessment of his speech, there was one way in which Obama's escalation speech brought significant relief to the 59 percent of people in this country, as well as the overwhelming majorities of people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Middle East and elsewhere who oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan: It was a pretty lousy speech.But we still have a huge amount of educating to do, providing people with the basic information they need to convince others of why the war is wrong and must be ended. The key issues will be the costs - human and economic - of this terrible and rising war. And at this particular moment, even beyond the human costs in Afghanistan and here at home, the economic costs stand out. It should be pretty easy for us to convince people that the $30 BILLION or more it will cost just to send those additional 30,000 troops would be far better spent on creating hundreds of thousands of new green jobs. But we need the information to do it - and I hope David's and my book will help. In Gaza We're getting very close to the February 5th date for the UN General Assembly to consider whether Israel and the Palestinians have met the requirements outlined in the Goldstone Report, to investigate their own culpability for war crimes in Gaza during Israel's assault last year. It's not likely to lead, at least immediately, to a serious UN move to hold anyone accountable in the International Criminal Court or anywhere else. But the responsibilities of the Goldstone Report now include obligations for us - for civil society - as well as for governments. And with the return home of the extraordinary internationals who traveled to Egypt to break the siege of Gaza, we turn to what Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Territory, calls "the legitimacy war," in which civil society will play the role governments and the UN are unable or unwilling to play. Egyptian collaboration with Israel's siege, as well as its dependence on U.S. support, meant that Egypt kept the Free Gaza Marchers from entering Gaza. But they return energized and educated about the reality of the situation on the ground, and will be important assets for our work in the coming period. That means we need to continue delegitimizing Israel's occupation and apartheid policies, most urgently the crippling siege of Gaza, right now well into its third year. The global BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign of nonviolent economic pressure to force Israel to end its violations of international law is winning important victories. Corporations are changing their practices, trade unions are refusing to handle Israeli goods - lots of work is underway to demand an end to profiting from occupation. And here in the U.S., there is a growing challenge to the $30 billion in military aid Obama agreed to send to Israel over the next 10 years. Wouldn't most people in this country prefer to spend that money on health care, green jobs, and dealing with climate change, rather than enabling Israel to commit more war crimes with weapons marked "Made in the USA"? I urge you all to check out the amazing resources on the website of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation to join these efforts. Obama's First Year And finally, President Obama. His administration has been in office for almost a year now, and many of the sky-high hopes that swept him into office have been dashed. There are a few discrete accomplishments, some of which may turn out to be important, but Obama has failed to deliver on fundamental challenges where real change was promised - things like real health care reform, real green jobs, and real climate change action. As for the wars - while the Obama administration is so far fulfilling the letter, if not the spirit, of the Bush-negotiated withdrawal plan from Iraq, we are already hearing from Secretary of Defense Gates and others that there are talks already underway to insure that U.S. troops remain in Iraq even after the end of 2011, supposedly the date for the "final" withdrawal of "all" U.S. troops from that country. The Afghanistan war is escalating, and there are new drone strikes in Pakistan. And now, Yemen. The UN has just reported that civilian casualties in Afghanistan were higher in 2009 than any earlier year of the U.S. war. This seems to be the Obama-as-president version of the Obama-as-candidate promise to not only end the war in Iraq, but "end the mindset that leads to war." IPS just issued its one-year report card for Obama and his administration. We gave him a barely passing C-minus. And the lowest grades were those in war and peace. We have a lot of work to do. Phyllis Bennis is a Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and co-author with David Wildman of the forthcoming Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer. "

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Victory! Release of Jamal Juma' and Mohammad Othman demonstrates importance of international grassroots pressure

You have probably heard by now that Jamal Juma' and Mohammad Othman, leaders of the Palestinian grassroots struggle against Israeli occupation and apartheid and proponents of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), have been released from their imprisonment-without-charge in Israeli jail. Their freedom is a huge victory for the grassroots struggle for Palestinian self-determination and equality. It's also an incredible demonstration of the power of international civil society pressure to defend the human and political rights of those seeking to end Israel's policies of apartheid, occupation, and colonization directed toward the Palestinians. More than 1500 of our supporters sent emails to the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem demanding the release of Mohammad, Jamal, and Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a leader of the nonviolent struggle against the Wall in the West Bank village of Bil'in who has been slapped with a phony "arms possession" charge for collecting spent munitions fired at Bil'in protesters by the Israeli army. You can continue to send letters to the Consulate to demand Abdallah's release by clicking here. US Campaign member groups Jewish Voice for Peace and Adalah-NY, among others, responded as well, sending letters and emails to President Obama and the U.S. Consulate and flooding the State Department with phone calls. On his release from prison, Jamal Juma' credited grassroots international pressure:
"Like for the other Palestinian human rights defenders in Israeli jails, there was never a case in the courtroom. Not a single charge has been put forth. The reason for my arrest was purely political - an attempt to crush Stop the Wall and the popular committees against the Wall. Therefore, the reasons for my release are also outside the courtroom: The impressive support of international civil society has moved governments and used the media to an extent that made our imprisonment too uncomfortable. This international solidarity has given our popular struggle against the Wall further strength. We are deeply thankful for all the efforts. Yet, the latest arrests and continuous repression show that we have not yet defeated the Israeli policy as such, as Israel remains determined to silence Palestinian human rights defenders by all means. We therefore need to ensure that the campaign for the freedom of all anti-wall activists and Palestinian political prisoners continues to grow. We have to combine our energies to ensure that the root cause - the Wall - will be torn down and the occupation will be brought to an end."
In a sense, our work has been doubly affirmed by the Israeli political-military apparatus. Jamal, Mohammad, Abdallah, and others have been targeted not only for their role in spearheading Palestinian nonviolent resistance but also because of their leadership in promoting international campaigns of boycott, divestment, and sanctions. As the international campaign grows, so does Israeli repression...but so does the pressure on that repressive system, making repression much more difficult to sustain. Here's Jesse Rosenfeld at The Daily Nuisance, writing of Mohammad's release:
"Stop the Wall, a Palestinian movement based on grassroots popular resistance to Israel’s wall in the West Bank, has faced increased military pressure as it strengthens its connection to the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement....However, the same international attention and connection to a global movement that is landing activists in prisons, is one of the few factors providing some refuge from the relentless Israeli campaign to break them."
It's worth noting that Mohammad was arrested as he attempted to return from Norway, where he had spoken to the Norwegian government pension fund's ethics board about divestment from Israeli weapons contractor and Apartheid Wall-builder Elbit Systems. This is the kind of international solidarity that prison walls can't contain. In a brief interview with Rosenfeld, the Stop the Wall organizer notes that the Israeli authorities considered him a threat even while imprisoned:
"I’m still in shock about being free, but am so happy and relieved,” the youth coordinator from the Stop the Wall campaign told me on the phone while riding with his brother to see his family in the West Bank for the first time in months. “We were constantly under surveillance in the jail; the Israelis were always trying to get information to incriminate us with. I was in a cell with other people, but couldn’t trust talking politics with anyone."
And what of Abdallah Abu Rahmah, still stuck in Israeli jail? The Bil'in resistance leader speaks for himself, in a statement passed to his lawyers from his prison cell:

"I know that Israel’s military campaign to imprison the leadership of the Palestinian popular struggle shows that our non-violent struggle is effective....This year, the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee will expand on the achievements of 2009, a year in which you amplified our popular demonstrations in Palestine with international boycott campaigns and international legal actions under universal jurisdiction."

The message is loud and clear. International pressure secured Jamal and Mohammad's release. International pressure can secure Abdallah's release, and the release of all those imprisoned for nonviolently struggling against Israel's illegal Wall and illegal occupation. And international pressure in solidarity with Palestinian grassroots struggle can secure the end of Israeli occupation and apartheid, and a future of justice and equal rights for all. Get involved. Send an email demanding that Abdallah be set free. Join national boycott and divestment campaigns against Caterpillar, Motorola, and Ahava, companies that directly benefit from Israeli occupation and expropriation of Palestinian land. Start divestment campaigns on campus and boycott campaigns in your community. Organize in your Congressional district against U.S. military aid that sustains and abets Israeli occupation and war crimes. These aren't just "feel good" actions. The Israeli military's campaign of repression against grassroots activists is telling us--and our Palestinian grassroots allies are telling us--that these actions are exactly what threatens the maintenance of Israeli occupation and apartheid. They are exactly what works.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

CommonDreams article on Gaza Freedom March highlights Israeli apartheid

Joshua Brollier of Voices for Creative Nonviolence relates some "Lessons from the Gaza Freedom March" at Here's Brollier on Israeli apartheid:
"Throughout the Gaza Freedom March presence in Cairo, our sisters and brothers from the South African delegation dynamically articulated the connections between injuries that indigenous Africans suffered under the white supremacist regime in Pretoria and the inequalities that Palestinians now face at the hands of the Israeli government. The delegation informed us that just as blacks in South Africa were forced to live in Bantustans and provide cheap labor for industry controlled by whites, so the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are caged in smaller and smaller areas controlled by Israeli military checkpoints. The economic livelihood of the Palestinians is reliant upon free movement through these checkpoints and Israel often only grants access for Palestinians when it is financially useful for Israel. Similar to the situation in South Africa, Israel controls all the beneficial natural resources and siphons the productivity and profit of the resources away from the people of Palestine."
Brollier goes on to note that comparisons with South Africa or with the U.S. governments treatment of American Indians highlights the ongoing complicity of U.S. government and corporate actors:
"Many people who study and discuss issues related to Palestine are aware of the South African and North American analogies, but the general public in the United States doesn't seem to notice that we are subsidizing these bloody policies with 3.5 billion dollars of military aid per year....The Cairo declaration was formed and the South African group gave us insight to further focus the Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement (BDS) through "campaigns to encourage divestment of trade union and other pension funds from companies directly implicated in the Occupation and/or the Israeli military industries." They suggested very specifically targeting companies in our areas that both enable and profit from the occupation."
Like what Brollier is saying? Here's how you can get involved: 1) The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation carries out targeted campaigns against Motorola, Caterpillar, and Ahava, three companies that are directly complicit in Israeli occupation and apartheid. Find out more about these and other BDS campaigns by clicking here, and sign up as a local organizer here. 2) Find out more about Israeli apartheid by clicking here, and check out the international Israeli Apartheid Video Contest organized by US Campaign member group and our allies at Stop the Wall. 3) Oppose U.S. military aid to Israel by organizing in your Congressional District.

Update on Musab Musa Raba'i, Palestinian shepherd attacked by Israeli military

Last week we passed along a report of an attack on Palestinian shepherds and representatives of US Campaign member group Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in the West Bank village of At-Tuwani. Here is an update from CPT, and some ideas for action: "On 7 January 2009, soldiers detained Musab Musa Raba’i after attacking him and members of his family as they were complying with the soldiers' order to move their flocks off their family-owned land.(See 8 January 2010 release, AT-TUWANI: Israeli soldiers attack and injure Palestinian shepherds and CPTers; arrest Musa Raba’i) The same eight soldiers who arrested Raba’i and attacked his family took him to a military base at the nearby Suseya settlement. For four hours, soldiers struck him in the back, in the face, and slammed him into walls. The soldiers questioned him about his brothers. Raba’i refused to give any information and refused to speak Hebrew with the soldiers, which infuriated them. The soldiers told him that they would come to his house in the following days and beat or kill him and his brothers. They tried to force him to say that they were the best soldiers in the IDF and beat him when he would not. Raba’i told CPTers the soldiers tied his hands and feet, blindfolded him, and sat him on a chair. Raba’i put his head in his lap, in an attempt to protect his head and his genitals, and refused to lift it. He said that at one point, a soldier cocked his rifle and told him to lift his head or he would shoot him. Raba’i refused. When another soldier tried to bring him food and water, as the military is legally obligated to do in such situations, the soldiers who were torturing him swore at the soldier and told him to leave. The soldiers also refused to allow Raba’i to pray. After four hours of this interrogation and torture, they took Raba’i to Israeli police station in Kiryat Arba settlement. The Israeli police told him that they usually offer detainees food and water, but were giving him nothing because they wanted to punish him. They said that if they ever saw his face again, they would kill him. After thirty minutes, the police tied his hands and feet, blindfolded him, drove him to a location unknown to him and threw him out of the jeep. Fearing that soldiers, police or settlers might see him, he hid in a bush until he saw his family's car. Raba'i was able to call his family, who, accompanied by CPTers, found him and brought him home."
1) This attack on At-Tuwani appears to be part of a recent increase in repression of Palestinian grassroots nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation and apartheid. Click here to read more about some of the Palestinian grassroots leaders who have been targeted by this campaign. You can also click here to send an email to the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem demanding the release of Palestinians who are imprisoned for their dissent. You can edit the letter to include information about the attack on At-Tuwani and to ask Daniel Rubinstein, the U.S. Consul General in East Jerusalem, to demand that those involved in this crime be brought to justice. Click here to send an email.
2) U.S. tax dollars aid and abet the human rights abuses committed by the Israeli army, including this most recent attack on At-Tuwani. Organize to oppose U.S. military aid to Israel in your Congressional district by clicking here, and join us in Washington D.C. in March for a Grassroots Advocacy Training and Lobby Day.
3) Motorola produces communications and surveillance equipment for the Israeli military as well as for settlements like the ones that are encroaching on At-Tuwani's land. Sign a boycott pledge, send an email to Moto's management, and order a Motorola organizing kit.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Charlie Rose challenges George Mitchell on international law; Mitchell hints at cutting loan guarantees to Israel; Israeli officials freak out

Did you catch Charlie Rose's interview with George Mitchell, the U.S. "Special Envoy" to the Middle East?
The interview was mainly what one would expect--including Mitchell's use of the oft-repeated canards that this conflict has been going on for "longer than 800 years" and that Netanyahu's settlement "moratorium" is somehow unprecedented, a notion the US Campaign debunked at the time of the announcement of the moratorium--but there were a couple of particularly interesting moments.
Check out around 7:20 when Charlie Rose tries to challenge Mitchell on the role of international law in regulating Israeli settlement expansion in East Jerusalem:
"Charlie Rose: "How many people recognize the [Israeli] annexation [of East Jerusalem], how many countries?"
George Mitchell: "To the best of my knowledge, there aren't any..."
Rose: "So you're gonna let 'em go ahead even though noone recognized the annexation?"
Mitchell: "Well you say "let 'em go ahead," it's what they regard as their country. They don't say they're letting us go ahead when we build in Manhattan or in the Bronx..."
Rose: "But don't the international rules have something to do with what someone can do to define as their country."
Mitchell: "There are disputed legal issues, of that there can be no doubt. And we could spend the next 14 years arguing over disputed legal issues, or we can try to get a negotiation to resolve them..." "
It's fascinating to see Charlie Rose brining up international law and Mitchell sidestepping the challenge. Israel's perception of East Jerusalem gets the emphasis from Mitchell--one might ask why the Palestinian refugees' perception of the Galilee aren't considered--and international law becomes somehow the subject of negotiation.
But Mitchell gave some indication that the Obama Administration is getting tired of Israel's intransigence on settlements. Check out 44:30, where Rose asks Mitchell if the United States has "any sticks," and goes on to say at 45:20 "You sit there and you say to Israel, 'If you don't do this'...what?" Mitchell responds: "Under American law, the United States can withhold support on loan guarantees to Israel."
Israeli officials and several U.S. Senators were quick to notice this vague threat of real U.S. pressure on Israel. Here's Ha'aretz reporting:
"Two key U.S. senators on Sunday dismissed Mideast envoy George Mitchell's suggestion that Washington withhold loan guarantees to pressure Israel. "I don't think it's helpful and I don't agree with it," Republican John McCain said during a visit to Jerusalem. Independent Joe Lieberman, meanwhile, pledged a fight in Congress against any such move. Israeli officials were up in arms Sunday after Mitchell posed the suggestion, meant to press Jerusalem to make concessions in negotiations with the Palestinians....Mitchell, when asked in a television interview last week what sort of pressure could be applied to Israel, replied that "under American law, the United States can withhold support on loan guarantees to Israel." Mitchell told PBS interviewer Charlie Rose that George W. Bush's administration had done so in the past. But he quickly added that he preferred persuasion to sanctions."
Interestingly enough, Ha'aretz also quotes the indignant response of many Israeli officials to the effect that Israel does not need the United States' help:
"Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz saying that Israel was "doing just fine" without American loan guarantees. "We don't need to use these guarantees," Israeli media quoted Steinitz as saying. "We are doing just fine. But several months ago we agreed with the American treasury on guarantees for 2010 and 2011, and there were no conditions." "
Senator Mitchell, we've gotta ask: if Israel is violating international law, and, when vaguely challenged on it in an interview in which you refused to hold them fully to account for these violations, responds that they don't need our money....why do we keep sending it? Surely there's better things we could be doing with it?
Organize in your Congressional district to challenge U.S. aid to Israel, and join us in D.C. March 7-8 for a Grassroots Advocacy Training and Lobby Day co-sponsored by US Campaign member group Interfaith Peace-Builders. UPDATE: U.S. State Department stumbling over itself to assure Israel that Mitchell just meant the United States could withhold loans, not that they ever would, reports Ha'aretz:
"The U.S. State Department on Monday reiterated that special Mideast envoy George Mitchell's suggestion that Washington could withhold loan guarantees if Israel continues to delay the peace process was merely a fact of "historical context." "I know that Senator Mitchell's interview with Charlie Rose last week caused some angst in various quarters perhaps in Israel. Just to clarify this, he wasn't signaling any, you know, particular course of action," Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley said."

Friday, January 8, 2010

Former Director of American Jewish Congress: Israel is "the only apartheid regime in the Western world"

Henry Siegman, a former national director of the American Jewish Congress and of the Synagogue Council of America who is now director of the U.S./Middle East Project in New York, writes in The Nation that Israel's continued expansion of settlements constitutes apartheid:
"Israel's relentless drive to establish "facts on the ground" in the occupied West Bank, a drive that continues in violation of even the limited settlement freeze to which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu committed himself, seems finally to have succeeded in locking in the irreversibility of its colonial project. As a result of that "achievement," one that successive Israeli governments have long sought in order to preclude the possibility of a two-state solution, Israel has crossed the threshold from "the only democracy in the Middle East" to the only apartheid regime in the Western world."
Siegman goes on to propose that dismantling this system of Israeli apartheid, which he defines as "when a state denies national self-determination to a part of its population--even one that is in the minority--to which it has also denied the rights of citizenship"--will take international intervention:
It is now widely recognized in most Israeli circles--although denied by Israel's government--that the settlements have become so widespread and so deeply implanted in the West Bank as to rule out the possibility of their removal (except for a few isolated and sparsely populated ones) by this or any future Israeli government unless compelled to do so by international intervention, an eventuality until now considered entirely unlikely....Sooner or later the White House, Congress and the American public...will have to face the fact that America's "special relationship" with Israel is sustaining a colonial enterprise.
Let your Member of Congress know that you are not interested in maintaining a colonial enterprise. Sign up to organize against U.S. military aid to Israel in your Congressional district by clicking here, and click here to register for our upcoming Grassroots Advocacy Training and Lobby Days in Washington, DC.
Siegman calls apartheid when he sees it. You can do the same. To learn more about standing up to Israeli apartheid, click here. And click here to sign a pledge to boycott Motorola, a company that is deeply involved in maintaining the infrastructure of Israeli apartheid.

Amnesty International Calls for Release of Imprisoned Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Activists

In a media release issued today, Amnesty International, one of the world's leading human rights organizations, called for the release of three imprisoned Palestinian anti-apartheid activists and BDS advocates:
"The Israeli authorities must immediately release, or bring before a fair trial, three Palestinian human rights activists detained in Israel following their protests against the construction of the West Bank fence/wall, Amnesty International said on Friday. In a letter sent to Ehud Barak, Israeli Defence and Deputy Prime Minister on Thursday, Amnesty International expressed concern that Jamal Juma', Abdallah Abu Rahma and Mohammed Othman were prisoners of conscience, held for legitimately voicing their opposition to the fence/wall."
Read the full release here.
Learn more and demand the release of these prisoners of conscience by contacting the U.S. Consul General in East Jerusalem, Daniel Rubinstein by clicking here.

Our tax dollars hard at work: Israel bombs Gaza, kills three including 15 year-old boy

Our U.S. tax dollars are hard at work bombing Gaza. This is from Ha'aretz:
"The Israel Defense Forces launched a series of air strikes overnight Thursday against targets in the Gaza Strip, hours after a Qassam rocket fired from the Strip hit southern Israel. Three Palestinians were reportedly killed in the strike, including a 15 year-old boy, with two wounded and several others feared trapped inside the ruins, medics said. Explosions reportedly rocked Gaza City, Khan Younis and Rafah, sending flames shooting into the air."
Organize against U.S. military aid to Israel in your Congressional district by clicking here, and sign up for our Grassroots Advocacy Training and Lobby Days, March 7-8 in Washington, DC, by clicking here.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Israeli army attacks Palestinian shepherds and representatives of US Campaign member group

From US Campaign member group Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT):
"This morning, Thursday 7 January, 2010, Israeli soldiers attacked and injured Palestinian shepherds from the Musa Raba’i family, as they grazed their sheep in Humra valley, near the village of At-Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills. The soldiers also attacked the two CPTers accompanying the shepherds and broke a video camera. Before leaving the area the soldiers arrested one of the shepherds, Musab Musa Raba’i.
At around 10:30am Palestinian shepherds were grazing their sheep on privately owned Palestinian land when they saw Israeli settlers observing them from the outpost of Havat Ma’on. A short time later an Israeli army jeep came to the area. After stopping to speak with one of the settlers, three Israeli soldiers approached the shepherds and ordered them to leave the area. The shepherds explained that it was their land, but agreed to move further down into the valley. The soldiers followed them and grabbed at one of the shepherds, so they all tried to quickly leave the area with their sheep. A second army jeep came to the area and a further three soldiers joined in the attack escalating the violence. Soldiers hit the shepherds with their rifle butts, pushed them and while some soldiers forcibly held them to the ground others kicked them.
Other members of the family came to the area, and the women tried to intervene, hoping to deescalate the situation. However, the women were also forcefully pushed to the ground. CPTers trying to video tape the violent attack were roughly pushed and a soldier grabbed at and broke one of the video cameras.
Other villagers came to the area and tried to calm the situation by talking with the soldiers, but the soldiers ignored all pleas for calm and instead fired percussion grenades and tear gas into the small group of women and children gathered nearby on the hillside.
Israeli police reported to the scene after receiving numerous calls from internationals, but arrived as the soldiers were leaving the area. The police told CPTers that there would be a military investigation into the actions of the soldiers.
During the incident a spokeperson from an Israeli Human Right Organization called the local Israeli Army Brigade Operations Room and the Israeli Army Coordination Office to find out what was happening. She told CPT “I called several time and they had no information and no idea that something was going on in At Tuwani.”
Additional information: At the time of writing Musab Musa Raba’i is still detained at Kiryat Arba police station. One elderly woman, Umm Juma’ Raba’i, and a young woman, Umm Ribhi Raba’i, who is 2 months pregnant, had to be taken to hospital, suffering from the effects of tear gas inhalation. Three of the shepherds, Kamaal Raba’i, Majde Raba’i and Juma’ Raba’i were hospitalized for their injuries, and a young boy, Ramze Jamaal Raba’i, had his tooth broken."
UPDATE: Musab Musa Raba'i was released after being beaten badly and not charged with any crime. More details soon.
1) This attack on At-Tuwani appears to be part of a recent increase in repression of Palestinian grassroots nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation and apartheid. Click here to read more about some of the Palestinian grassroots leaders who have been targeted by this campaign. You can also click here to send an email to the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem demanding the release of Palestinians who are imprisoned for their dissent. You can edit the letter to include information about the attack on At-Tuwani and to ask Daniel Rubinstein, the U.S. Consul General in East Jerusalem, to demand that those involved in this crime be brought to justice. Click here to send an email.
2) U.S. tax dollars aid and abet the human rights abuses committed by the Israeli army, including this most recent attack on At-Tuwani. Organize to oppose U.S. military aid to Israel in your Congressional district by clicking here.
3) Motorola produces communications and surveillance equipment for the Israeli military as well as for settlements like the ones that are encroaching on At-Tuwani's land. Sign a boycott pledge and order a Motorola organizing kit.
4) Check out this video from CPT documenting yet another aspect of Israeli apartheid--electrical pylons for At-Tuwani being taken away by the Israeli military while nearby Israeli settlements enjoy electricity--and then learn more about standing up to Israeli apartheid by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Imprisoned leader of Palestinian nonviolent resistance Abdallah Abu Rahmah: "Arrests and persecution do not weaken us"

Take a look at this inspiring message from Abdallah Abu Rahmah, one of many Palestinian leaders of grassroots nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation and apartheid being held in Israeli jail. Abdallah refuses to be intimidated by this most recent campaign of repression:
"I know that Israel’s military campaign to imprison the leadership of the Palestinian popular struggle shows that our non-violent struggle is effective....Whether we are confined in the open-air prison that Gaza has been transformed into, in military prisons in the West Bank, or in our own villages surrounded by the Apartheid Wall, arrests and persecution do not weaken us. They only strengthen our commitment to turning 2010 into a year of liberation through unarmed grassroots resistance to the occupation....This year, the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee will expand on the achievements of 2009, a year in which you amplified our popular demonstrations in Palestine with international boycott campaigns and international legal actions under universal jurisdiction [emphasis added]."
Read his full statement, which Abdallah shared from his prison cell with his lawyers, here. Learn more and take action to demand the release of Abdallah Abu Rahmah, Mohammad Othman, Jamal Juma', and other imprisoned leaders of Palestinian nonviolent resistance by clicking here. Learn how to amplify popular demonstrations in Palestine by participating in boycott and divestment campaigns by clicking here.