Thursday, June 30, 2011

Obama should support the Audacity of Hope, condemn Israeli naval blockade

Ann Wright is a retired U.S. Army colonel and diplomat, and participated in the May 2010 flotilla to Gaza. She will be aboard the U.S. Boat to Gaza, which is organized by a US Campaign member organization, and is a US Campaign-endorsed initiative.

By Ann Wright
June 28, 2011

This week, some 40 American citizens, including myself, will peacefully attempt to break Israel's illegal naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. The flotilla that we will be a part of is expected to consist of 10 boats carrying human rights advocates from around the world and humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza.

The U.S. boat to Gaza, the Audacity of Hope, which I will be aboard, will be carrying letters of solidarity to Gazans, who live under siege in a virtual prison, cut off from the rest of the world and any semblance of a normal life.  Our goal is to bring attention to their plight, and to bring about an end to Israel's illegal siege, which amounts to collective punishment of 1.7 million people.

Ann Wright
Although we will be sailing unarmed and have no intention of entering Israel or Israeli waters, the U.S. State Department issued an unusually specific and blunt travel advisory last week, warning Americans against traveling to Gaza. Without giving any details, State Department officials also suggested that Americans taking part in the flotilla might be violating U.S. law.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The UN Already Voted for a Palestinian state -- in 1947

Our National Advocacy Director wrote an opinion article that was published in today's South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

By Josh Ruebner
June 29, 2011

For all intents and purposes, the two-decade-long U.S. "peace process" — premised on privileging Israeli occupation and apartheid at the expense of Palestinian human and national rights — is dead in the water. Is it any wonder that the United States, a country that provides Israel each year with the $3 billion in weapons to oppress Palestinians and that functions as "Israel's lawyer," according to former U.S. "peace process" insider Aaron David Miller, has repeatedly failed to broker a just peace?

The jig is up and it is unlikely that the Palestinian political leadership would agree to return to such a rigged U.S. negotiating table. Were Palestinian leaders inclined to do so, it is doubtful that the Palestinian public would stand for it.

Instead, Palestinians appear to be pursuing a diplomatic strategy of going around and not through the United States to achieve their long-denied rights. In February, Palestinians forced the Obama administration to use its first and only veto in the Security Council to prevent the United Nations from condemning Israel's illegal settlements. By doing so, Palestinians exposed the hypocrisy of the United States shielding Israel from accountability for a policy which even the Obama administration opposes and demonstrated how disconnected the United States is from the rest of the international community on this issue.


Thank Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for Slam-Dunking Israeli Apartheid!

Two months ago, YNet News reported that legendary basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was planning to visit Israel in coordination with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Israeli Consulate of New York. NBA Sporting News reported that Abdul-Jabbar would be competing for the "Spirit of Freedom Award" at the Jerusalem Film Festival.

In private correspondence, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has confirmed that the former Los Angeles Lakers star has decided not to visit Israel, due to concerns arising "after the Nakba Day violence." This year's commemoration of the Nakba left 12 unarmed Palestinians dead after Israeli forces opened fire on refugees attempting to exercise their internationally recognized right of return.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, thank you for calling Israel's foul! Israeli cultural institutions like the Jerusalem Film Festival are used cynically to brand Israel as a beacon of cultural and technological progress, diverting attention away from its occupation and apartheid policies. For this reason, cultural boycott of Israel is a key component of the growing Palestinian-led movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law. You can read the Palestinian guidelines for cultural boycott here.

101 organizations have signed a thank-you letter to Abdul-Jabbar, urging him to hold fast to his decision not to let his good name lend an air of legitimacy to Israeli human rights violations. In addition to the US Campaign, signatories include the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within (Israel), the Organization for Black Struggle, six Islamic-American organizations, four Jewish organizations, 14 campus groups, and dozens of other US Campaign member organizations.

The letter points out to Abdul-Jabbar:
Your film, "On the Shoulders of Giants," documents the policies of segregation and racism that characterized the world of basketball in the 1930s. Ironically, the majority of Muslim and Christian Palestinians could not even have attended such a screening because they are excluded from entering Jerusalem on the basis of their ethnicity and religion.

Join 101 organizations in showing support for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's decision and urging him to consider the Palestinian call for BDS!

Meg Ryan and Dustin Hoffman similarly declined an invitation to the Jerusalem Film Festival last year following the deadly attacks on the first Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The second Freedom Flotilla is set to sail to Gaza this month.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Jerusalem Post covers congressional letter to protect flotilla

The US Boat to Gaza -- The Audacity of Hope -- is a coalition member of the US Campaign, as well as a US Campaign-endorsed initiative.

Congressmen ask Clinton to protect Americans in flotilla

By Jordana Horn
June 28, 2011

6 Democrats send secretary of state letter asking her to work with Israeli gov't "to ensure safety of US citizens on board” 'Audacity of Hope'.

NEW YORK - Six Democratic members of the US House of Representatives wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week, asking her to “do everything in [her] power” to help “ensure the safety of all American citizens on board The Audacity of Hope.”

The Audacity of Hope is a US-flagged ship bearing 36 American passengers intending to participate in this week’s flotilla challenging Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. Its passengers include Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Alice Walker, former US ambassador to Ecuador Samuel Hart, and Jewish activist Hedy Epstein.

The flotilla is expected to consist of up to 15 vessels.

The six signatories are Dennis Kucinich of Ohio; William Lacy Clay of Missouri; Sam Farr, Bob Filner and Barbara Lee of California; and Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia.


Monday, June 27, 2011

BDS Earlham Rallies Alumni to Support Students Working for Ethical Investment

BDS Earlham is a Coalition Member of the US Campaign

Students, Friends and families of Earlham College, past and present, are being called upon to promote ethical investment by divesting from companies like Motorola, Caterpillar and Hewlett-Packard, which are complicit in Israel's human rights violations. BDS Earlham has launched a new initiative called "Earlham Alumni Against Apartheid" to get everyone associated with Earlham College involved.

Below is the a letter from BDS Earlham to all Earlham Alumni, calling on them to join the BDS movement

Dear Earlhamites,

On behalf of Earlham Alumni Against Apartheid, I’m writing today to ask you to participate in a campaign to pressure Earlham College to live up to our values of peace, justice, and ethical investment.   A new student group called BDS Earlham is currently asking our college to divest from three companies that are profiting off of the Israeli military occupation of Palestine.  BDS Earlham is asking Earlham Alumni, parents, and friends of the college to show our support for their campaign by signing their petition. I’d like to invite you to take just one moment to show your support by signing their petition and becoming involved in this important campaign.
BDS Earlham is calling on Earlham to divest from Motorola, Caterpillar, and Hewlett-Packard.  These companies violate the spirit of Earlham’s ethical investment guidelines through their complicity in Israeli human rights violations:
  • Motorola manufactures the Israeli military with encrypted mobile phone technology and manufactures “virtual fences” and surveillance systems for Israeli settlements.   These Jewish-only settlements are a potent symbol of Israeli apartheid and are illegal under several international laws, including the 4th Geneva Convention.  Motorola also has close ties with Aeronautics Defense Systems (ADS), which makes drone aircraft.  Last April Human Rights Watch reported finding debris from Motorola bomb components in the rubble of civilian buildings in the Gaza Strip.
  • Caterpillar manufactures weaponized bulldozers that the Israeli army uses to demolish Palestinian homes.   Since Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967, it has demolished more than 12,000 Palestinian homes, leaving over 70,000 people traumatized and without shelter.
  • Hewlett-Packard manufactures the Basel System, a body scanning technology used at Israeli checkpoints at the Gaza borders and inside the West Bank.   Israel’s system of checkpoints prevent Palestinians from moving freely, stopping farmers from accessing their land, students from going to school, and sick people from getting medical attention.

Read the rest of the letter and sign the petition here

Sunday, June 26, 2011

ADC Calls on U.S. Government to Stand for the Safety and Rights of U.S. Citizens Traveling to Gaza

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and The US Boat to Gaza are both coalition members of the US Campaign.

ADC expresses deep concern over recent statements issued by the U.S. Department of State, warning U.S. citizens against traveling to Gaza.

As a result of the ongoing Israeli siege, Palestinians in Gaza have been suffering physical and psychological trauma, economic strangulation, the destruction of infrastructure, injury and death. The United Nations has called the situation in Gaza a humanitarian crisis.

In an attempt to bring awareness and much needed relief to Gaza, peace activists on the “Audacity of Hope” flotilla will travel with humanitarian aid to Gaza by sea. In so doing, they will also mark the one-year anniversary of the tragedy that transpired upon other flotillas, most notably the Mavi Marmara flotilla, when Israeli naval forces boarded the vessel in international waters by force and killed nine peace activists, including one U.S. citizen.

An independent investigation by the United Nations Human Rights Council following the tragedy found that Israel had violated international humanitarian and human rights laws in its conduct. Specifically, it found evidence of “willful killing; torture or inhuman treatment, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health.”

In apparent anticipation of the “Audacity of Hope” setting sail for Gaza, the State Department published a travel warning on June 22, 2011, stating that “U.S. citizens are advised against traveling to Gaza by any means, including via sea.” The State Department then released a press statement on June 24, 2011, saying “[g]roups that seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that risk the safety of their passengers.”

With no comment about the moral deficiency or illegality of Israeli actions last year upon the Mavi Marmara, nor any warning to Israel about its responsibility to respect international humanitarian and human rights laws, these statements may be misconstrued as offering Israel the “green light” to act with impunity.

ADC calls on the U.S. government to clarify its position, which is undoubtedly first and foremost its commitment to the safety of U.S. citizens and the protection of their rights under all circumstances. ADC also calls on the U.S. government to clearly warn Israel that illegal actions against U.S. citizens, such as those conducted by Israeli forces last year, will not be tolerated by the United States.

Greek Officials Attempt to Block US Boat to Gaza

The U.S. Boat to Gaza--the Audacity of Hope--is planned to set sail in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla II in the next few days, and is a coalition member group of the US Campaign, and a US Campaign-endorsed initiative.

It looks as though the Israelis, with probable collusion from our government, are trying yet another tactic to prevent the US Boat to Gaza to sail, and keep the people of Gaza isolated and delegitimized, having no rights to travel, import and export goods, have clean drinking water, or have the basic freedoms that Israelis and Americans have.

Any kind of pressure we can place on the Greek Government, i.e,, calling the embassy, may be helpful here.  With all the effort and work people have put in to have this boat sail and make a statement for justice, in the face of the silence of the rest of the world, would be a really sad thing, and yet another blow for human rights for the Palestinian people.

Greek Officials Attempt to Block US Boat to Gaza from Leaving Greek Port

Passengers Suspect US/Israel Economic Pressure on Beleaguered Greek Government

By US Boat to Gaza
June 26, 2011

Athens - Passengers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope, are asking Greek government officials to clarify whether the boat they are leasing is being blocked from leaving Greece because of an anonymous request of a private citizen concerning the seaworthiness of the ship or whether a political decision has been made by the Greek government in response to U.S. and Israeli government pressure. They specifically want to know if the U.S. is using its leverage at the International Monetary Fund over the implementation of an ongoing bailout of European banks with massive Greek debts to compel the Greek government to block the U.S. Boat to Gaza from leaving Greece.

On the morning of June 23, the American passengers learned that a "private complaint" had been filed against the U.S. Boat to Gaza, which is part of an international flotilla scheduled to sail to Gaza in the next few days. This complaint, its origin still unknown to the Americans, claimed that the boat is "not seaworthy" and therefore requires a detailed inspection. On June 25 a police order declared that until the complaint is resolved the boat will not be permitted to leave.

The passengers are wondering if Israel, which has extensive economic trade and investments in Greece, is using its clout to pressure the Greek government. "Israel has said openly that it is pressuring governments to try to stop the flotilla, and clearly Greece is a key government since several of the boats plan to leave from Greece," says passenger Medea Benajmin. "It is unconscionable that Israel would take advantage of the economic hardship the Greek people are experiencing to try to stop our boat or the flotilla."

Given the very close relationship between Israel and the U.S., and the public efforts by Israel to denounce and try to stop the flotilla, the passengers on the U.S. boat want to know if the Obama Administration is using U.S. leverage at the IMF to compel the Greek authorities to stop the U.S. boat from leaving Greece. Greece's economic and political crisis is a result of extreme austerity measures imposed by the European Union and the largely U.S.-controlled International Monetary Fund. Past U.S. governments have used their influence at the IMF to impose political conditions on indebted countries that have nothing to do with restoring economic growth.

Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, said: "Greece is not going to be able to meet the targets that it is pledging to the IMF and the European authorities. In this situation the IMF and therefore the U.S. government will have enormous leverage because the Fund and EU authorities will decide what will be acceptable benchmarks for Greece to receive future tranches of IMF/EU funding."

"We are guests here," said Robert Naiman, a passenger on the U.S. boat. "But we ask the Greek authorities to be honest with us. What is the origin of this complaint? Is the decision to stop our boat from leaving truly due to legitimate technical issues that can be resolved, or is it a sign that our boat will be stopped from leaving no matter what we do? What is the role of the Israeli and U.S. governments in the Greek decision to stop our boat from leaving?"

"We have a right to protest the blockade of Gaza," said Ann Wright, an organizer and passenger on the U.S. boat. "To its credit, the Greek government, like the Red Cross, Amnesty International, and Oxfam, agrees with us that the blockade on Gaza must be lifted. But for years, the only effective international action to challenge the illegal blockade has been freedom flotillas. We call upon the Greek government, which agrees that our cause is just, not to stand in the way of our peaceful protest in pursuit of our shared goal of lifting the blockade. The boat we are leasing for this journey, after its refitting for the voyage to Gaza, was surveyed by a professional surveyor and successfully completed its sea trials. There is no reason for any further delays on this matter, we are ready to sail."


Letters Needed: Thank LA Times for op-ed by Hagit Borer

The US Boat to Gaza is a coalition member of the US Campaign, as well as a US Campaign-sponsored initiative.

The Los Angeles Times has run an important Sunday op-ed by Hagit Borer that touches on her particpation with the US Boat to Gaza.  Other op-eds about the effort to break the blockade have been receiving a ferocious response in letters to the editor and comments.  It is crucial that activists rally to support of this op-ed to show the strong support the flotilla has.

Please write your letter to the editor today, particularly if you are in the Los Angeles area.  Letters can be sent to and should be 150 words or shorter.  "Please include your full name, mailing address, daytime phone number, and e-mail address. This information is seen only by the letters editors and is not used for any commercial purpose."

Getting on board with peace in Israel

An Israeli American explains why she will be among many boat passengers trying to break through Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

By Hagit Borer 
June 26, 2011

Later this month an American ship, the Audacity of Hope, will leave Greece on a journey to the Gaza Strip to attempt to break Israel's blockade. It will join an expected nine other ships flying numerous flags and carrying hundreds of passengers from around the world. I will be one of those passengers.

I am an Israeli Jewish American. I was born in Israel, and I grew up in a very different Jerusalem from the one today. The Jerusalem of my childhood was a smallish city of white-stone neighborhoods nestled in the elbows of hills. Near the center, next to the central post office, the road swerved sharply to the left because straight ahead stood a big wall, and on the other side of it was "them."

And then, on June 9, 1967, the wall came down. Elsewhere, Israeli troops were still fighting what came to be known as the Six-Day War, but on June 9, as a small crowd stood and watched, demolition crews brought down the barrier wall, and after it, all other buildings that had stood between my Jerusalem and the walls of the Old City, their Jerusalem. A few weeks later a wide road would lead from my Jerusalem to theirs, bearing the victors' name: Paratroopers Way.

A soldier helped me sneak into the Old City. Snipers were still at large and the city was closed to Israeli civilians. By the Western Wall, a myth to me until then, the Israeli army was already evicting Palestinian residents in the dead of night and demolishing all houses within 1,000 feet. Eventually, the area would turn into the huge open paved space it is today, a place where only last month, on Jerusalem Day, masses of Israeli youths chanted "Muhammad is dead" and "May your villages burn."


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Letters Needed: CNN Op-Ed Attacks Alice Walker and Gaza Flotilla

WRITE! For Justice is a coalition member of the US Campaign.
June 25, 2011

Today, CNN has published an outrageous op-ed by Howard Jacobson 'Why Alice Walker Should Not Sail to Gaza' (6/24) which attacks author Alice Walker and her recent piece 'Why I'm Sailing to Gaza' (6/21).  The article characterizes Walker as a good person who could do 'great harm' -- it implies that she is simply naive in traveling on the flotilla and being used for propaganda purposes.  While lecturing Walker about morality, at no time does Jacobson acknowledge the devastating impact of the siege on Palestinians or respond specifically to Walker's concern about the plight of Palestinian children growing up under unacceptable conditions -- except to say that Walker "chooses the Palestinian child over the Israeli."

As for the flotilla, Jacobson maintains that it is "by its very essence a provocation" and "half inviting a violence which can then be presented as a slaughter of the innocents."  Even worse, the op-ed attempts to justify the blockade and collective punishment in Gaza by claiming "we must assume that Hamas's implacable hostility towards Israel fairly represents the implacable hostility felt by the people of Gaza."

Please WRITE! to CNN using the feedback form in support of Alice Walker, the Gaza Flotilla, and a free Gaza.  Letters should be kept under 150 words and be sure to include your name, address, and phone number for verification purposes.

Why Alice Walker shouldn't sail to Gaza

By Howard Jacobson
June 24, 2011

It should not need arguing, this late in the ethical history of mankind, that good people can do great harm. One of the finest and funniest novels ever written -- Don Quixote -- charts the damage left in the wake of a man who would make the world a better place.

Howard Jacobson
Human beings are seldom more dangerous than when they are sentimentally overcome by the goodness of their own intentions. That Alice Walker believes it is right to join the Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza I do not have the slightest doubt. But beyond associating her decision with Gandhi, Martin Luther King and very nearly, when she talks about the preciousness of children, Jesus Christ, she fails to give a single convincing reason for it.

"One child must never be set above another child," she says. A sentiment that will find an echo in every heart. But how does it justify the flotilla? Gaza is under siege, Israelis will tell you, because weapons are fired from it into Israel, threatening the lives of Israeli children. If the blockade is lifted there is a fear that more lethal and far-reaching weapons will be acquired, and the lives of more Israeli children endangered.


AFSC Joins Jewish Voice for Peace on Divestment Campaign

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) are two of our coalition members, along with six of AFSC's U.S. regional chapters. Spearheaded by JVP, the "We Divest" Campaign targeting TIAA-CREF is a US Campaign-sponsored initiative. AFSC has distributed the following press release.

In its meeting on June 12, 2011, the Board of Directors of the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker peace organization, united in support of joining the divestment campaign led by Jewish Voice for Peace.  The campaign calls on the financial services organization TIAA-CREF to divest from companies that:

  • Directly profit from or contribute to the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem;
  • Provide products or services that contribute to the construction and maintenance of Israeli settlements and/or the Separation Wall, both of which are illegal under international law; or
  • Provide products or services that contribute to or enable violent acts that target civilians.
The campaign also calls on TIAA-CREF to establish investment criteria to exclude any such companies in the future.  The TIAA-CREF campaign does not target the government of Israel or Israeli companies for divestment; it is directed at divesting from all corporations that profit from the Israeli occupation.

The AFSC Board affirmed that the decision to join this campaign is “rooted in our Quaker beliefs that we speak with love to ‘that of God’ in every person, that we ‘utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fighting with outward weapons for any end or under any pretense whatsoever’, and that we testify to this by removing the ‘seeds of conflict’ - including economic seeds - from our own lives.”

This decision is a response to ongoing Israeli violations of human rights and international law and is a rejection of any actions that might support these violations. Consistent with AFSC’s investment screen, this campaign seeks to change Israeli government actions and to end its continued occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

AFSC’s work is shaped by its recognition of Israelis’ and Palestinians’ shared humanity and the importance of working with both peoples to end the conflict based on the principles of equality, rights and justice. As the Board said, “In joining this campaign, Friends reaffirmed our commitment to approach it with a loving spirit and openness to hearing all sides in a conflict. In communicating with Jewish Voice for Peace and others we will hold up our broader concerns for the resolution of all conflict and violation of human rights in the region.”

For more information about AFSC’s joining the Jewish Voice for Peace campaign, see our frequently asked questions.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Amb. Michael Oren dishes out anti-flotilla “marching orders” in private Jewish Federation call

The U.S. Boat to Gaza--the Audacity of Hope--is planned to set sail in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla II in the next few days, and is a coalition member group of the US Campaign, and a US Campaign-endorsed initiative. This article also involves the issue of Palestinian UN membership and statehood, which the US Campaign has also been tracking closely.

By Max Blumenthal
June 22, 2011

On June 22, the Jewish Federation of America's new, multi-million dollar "Israel Action Network" hosted a conference call with Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. The call was an urgent response to the flotilla preparing to cruise towards Gaza in order to challenge Israel's maritime blockade of the destitute coastal strip. David Sherman, the vice chair of the Federation's board of trustees, introduced the new initiative and Oren's involvement in it as a key to combating Israel's "delegitimization."

Throughout the call, Oren seemed more concerned about the Arab Spring, Israel's relations with Turkey, and the Palestinian unity arrangement than the upcoming flotilla. He opened his remarks by launching into a fast paced survey of the myriad regional threats Israel supposedly faced, then explained how the state would tamp down on each one.


Amb. Michael Oren
The new flotilla — Oren attacked the organizers of the flotilla as "radical anti-Israel organizations…known also for anti-American activities." He cited statements by the US State Department and UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon criticizing or condemning their actions. Then Oren claimed that the flotilla could simply deliver its aid through a "responsible organization" like UNRWA, or bring their materials through El Arish and allow Israel to offload it. "It's not a fight between us and the people of Gaza," Oren claimed. "It's between us and the group Hamas which is determined to destroy the state of Israel." (Never mind this Israeli government document). He went on to claim that Israel's maritime blockade was "in full accord with international law," though he did not explain how besieging a civilian population that was not actively engaged in a full-scale war against Israel comported with the 4th Geneva Convention or the San Remo Accords.

Next, Oren proudly announced that Israel had tentatively authorized an aid shipment to Gaza containing construction materials for 1200 new buildings and 18 new schools (UNRWA officials were skeptical that the aid would actually arrive as Israel said). The timing of the shipment and Oren's promotion of it suggested that the flotilla had already made an impact. Would Israeli authorities have authorized the aid in without outside pressure? Whether or not they would have, Israel was seeking to extract as much propaganda value as it could from its agreement.

The Palestinian unilateral declaration of statehood — The ambassador seemed far more troubled about the Palestinian Authority's plan to introduce a statehood resolution at the United Nations General Assembly in September than about any other issue. Oren suggested that Israel would attempt to force the Palestinians back to the negotiating table in order to keep them away from the UN. In other words, the peace process would be Israel's tool for blocking Palestine from winning statehood on a unilateral basis. In this effort, Oren described Dennis Ross, the White House special advisor on Middle East affairs, as Israel's ally.

"We are working closely with the Obama Administration in trying to find a common framework that would enable the European Union to support negotiations in the framework to get them back to negotiations and keep them away from General Assembly," Oren commented. "Dennis Ross is in Israel today conducting negotiations so we have reasons for some optimism. But we have to prepare for the worst. [With the statehood resolution] we are preparing for various scenarios of unrest in the West Bank, further attempts by the P.A. to use their improved status to delegitimize israel a la Goldstone type initiatives. Netanyahu has been meeting with the Italian government about this, and they are working tirelessly. And he is working closely with the Canadians who are very supportive."

When Oren finished his remarks, the administrators of the call allowed time for a few questions. One caller asked Oren what Jews in the United States could do about the flotilla. "Stress that there's no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the border is open for all materials, there is no shortage of food or medicine, and that our maritime blockade is upheld by the United States as completely legal and necessary for Israel's defense," Oren said.

Before I could ask a question about the legality of Israel's siege of Gaza, Martin Raffel, the director of the Israel Action Network, came on the line to conclude the call. "I want to echo [what Oren said]," Raffel remarked. "Our role is not to be passive observers. We have to shake the public discourse so we're sending message points and program guidance to everyone involved. And we hope you have some marching orders for when you go back to your communities."


Tell the Doors to Join the Cultural Boycott of Israel

Will you tell The Doors to cancel their trip to Israel?

We are asking BDS supporters to get the word out and tell Ray Manzarek & Robby Krieger of The Doors to cancel their July 5th performance in Israel! See the letter below urging them to respect Palestinian rights and not cross the international picket line.

Tweet the BDS message or post it to their facebook page,


Use the sample tweets below or write your own.
Click "tweet now!" below the samples for automatic tweeting.

Don't play in the darkness of oppression while Palestinians are "Waiting for the Sun" #BDS @manzarekkrieger
tweet now!

Don't be "Riders On The Storm" of Occupation! Join the #BDS Movement! #Israel @manzarekkrieger
tweet now!

The Occupation has lasted longer than a few "Strange Days" Don't play Israel! #BDS @manzarekkrieger
tweet now!

"Break On Through" to the other side and join the #BDS movement for human rights! #Israel @manzarekkrieger
tweet now!

"People are strange" but Apartheid is stranger. Don't entertain Israeli oppression. #BDS @manzarekkrieger
tweet now!

Below is the letter from Israel Citizens calling on the Doors to honor their humane legacy and cancel their concert in Israel.

We are a group of Israeli citizens who support the human rights-based Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) [1].
We learned with dismay about your July 5th 2011 scheduled performance in Tel-Aviv, thus undermining a growing international movement to end Israel's impunity and promote a just solution that respects human rights and international law in Palestine\Israel.
As alumni of a rock band which has been subjected itself to police brutality and was against the Vietnam war, it seems particularly disappointing to us that you lend your voice and image to sustain and promote a “business as usual” attitude towards occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Your performance in Tel-Aviv is scheduled just days before the 6th anniversary of the Palestinian United Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights [2]. The BDS Call is inspired by a similar campaign of the indigenous people of South Africa against the apartheid regime there. Since the BDS campaign was launched in 2005 many international artists and public figures have acknowledged the parallels between these two colonial conflicts - including the importance of boycott initiatives to both struggles. Among those who have expressed support for the Palestinian BDS Call and campaign are prominent activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South-African Artists Against Apartheid [3], Creative Workers Union of South Africa, the international alliance Artists Against Apartheid [4], Dave Randall [5] and Maxi Jazz of Faithless, Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack [6], filmmakers Ken Loach and Mike Leigh [8], 500 Montreal artists [9] and over 200 Irish artists [10].
Surely you are aware of some of the violations of international law committed by Israel against the Palestinian people. In 2008-2009 Israel launched a vicious attack against the besieged 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip, killing over 1434 people [11] (including 434 children) and wounding thousands while targeting mostly civilians and destroying homes of thousands of people. Israel performed numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity in that attack, as investigated by the UN Fact Finding Mission headed by Justice Richard Goldstone. Among those crimes described by Justice Goldstone is the siege on Gaza itself, which remains intact to this day, preventing all air, sea and ground movement of people; restricting severely imports into the Strip and banning exports almost completely. Lately, former Israeli chief of staff Ashkenazi handed over to his successor the “Gaza book of targets”, as Israeli air strikes and incursions continue to kill and execute Gaza civilians without trial [12]. Nonetheless, Israel has not yet faced sanctions from world governments and official international bodies for its disregard of international law. It is only civil society, primarily through the framework of BDS, that is acting today to hold Israel accountable.

Read the rest of the letter and view the signatories here...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Coalition member organization works permanently in occupied Palestinian territory, steps in the way of violence

Christian Peacemaker Teams, a coalition member of the US Campaign, is a faith-based organization that supports Palestinian-led, nonviolent, grassroots resistance to the Israeli occupation and the unjust structures that uphold it. By “getting in the way” of violence and educating in our home communities, we help create a space for justice and peace.

We maintain two project sites in Palestine, one in the Palestinian city of Hebron (Al-Khalil) in the southern West Bank and the other is located 25 kilometers (15 miles) further south in the Palestinian village of At-Tuwani. Follow our work on Facebook and Twitter.

Christian Peacemaker Teams also sends short-term (7-14 day) peacemaker delegations into crisis settings around the world. These delegations link communities experiencing violence with concerned individuals and groups. Delegations offer participants a first-hand experience of CPT's on-the-ground experiment in active peacemaking while connecting delegates with dozens of local peacemakers. The next available delegation to Palestine/Israel takes place November 15-28, 2011. A further description and listing of delegations is available here.

Challenging Power - Official Trailer

"Challenging Power" is a short film which documents a successful boycott campaign in Olympia, WA. US Campaign member groups Rachel Corrie Foundation, Olympia-Rafah Sister Cities Project, Last Word Books and Olympia Friends Meeting, all took part in this momentous and successful campaign which is chronicled in the film.

Challenging Power - Official Trailer from TrickleUp Films on Vimeo.

On July 15, 2010, the Olympia Food Co-op became the first grocery store in the United States to boycott Israeli products. The board of directors made the consensus decision with encouragement from member activists. The Co-op has 15,000 members and operates two stores in Olympia, WA-the hometown of Rachel Corrie.
Challenging Power is a series of reflections on the decision to boycott, its significance, and the role it plays in the process of social change.
For more information and to order the DVD click here

New Coalition Member CU-Divest Delivers Petition to Regents

We are proud to announce CU-Divest as a new coalition member of the US Campaign!

Yesterday at the Board of Regents meeting at the University of Colorado Springs campus, a local “grassroots movement” called CU-Divest! stood at the public forum segment of the Regents meeting and appealed to the Regents to divest from Israeli apartheid.

Local activist, Michael Rabb spoke for about two minutes and delivered the group’s petition with 1500 signatures calling on the University to divest from companies that support Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid.

Rabb said, the premise for our request is Israel is doing is doing some absolutely awful and inhumane things to the people of Palestine.  For 44 years Israel has enforced a crushing military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel continues even now expanding their colonization (that would be jewish-only settlements) and systematically administers a system of apartheid against the indigenous people of Palestine.  Israel takes Palestinian land and water. Israel taxes Palestinians and builds houses and roads for Jews only on Palestinian land.  Israel separates Palestinian neighborhoods and walls them up as ghettos or Bantustans as the whites did to blacks in South Africa. 

CU community members advocate divestment from South Africa in the 1980s.
The Board of Regents has a choice have a choice to make.  Just like in the 1980s when they voted to divest from South African apartheid, and just like five years ago when the Regents voted to divest from Sudan’s genocide, once again the University of Colorado has a choice to make.  The University of Colorado must say no to apartheid.
Our campaign has really gained momentum in the last few months through the action of our petition drive.  A number of students and some faculty have signed on to our cause (Learn more about the campaign here).  CU students have started a student organization at the Boulder campus and are organizing some great events for the fall semester to bring the attention of the University community to this issue.

A Colorado Grassroots Movement
2002 18th Street, Boulder CO 80302


World Famous Dutch DJ Armin Van Buuren is scheduled to play in Eilat on June 30th.  

Israeli citizens have written a letter to Armin Van Buuren (below) to ask him to support peace and human rights by canceling his concert and joining the cultural boycott of Israel.

Join us in asking Armin not to entertain Israeli Apartheid by posting on his Facebook and Twitter  pages!

Below is the letter from Israeli citizens to Armin Van Buuren 

Dear Armin Van Buuren,
We are a group of Israeli citizens.
We recently learned that you have been invited to play in Eilat on 30/6
We realize that cancelling at this late stage may seem drastic, but this should be understood in the context of Israel's policy: Israel has been utilizing international cultural events to construct a facade of normalcy to a reality in which 1.6 million Palestinians (44% of which are children under the age of 14) are kept under siege in Gaza[i], 2.5 million are kept under martial-law in the West Bank with no civil rights, and millions more are subject to racially discriminating laws[ii] inside Israel.

If you play in Israel at this time, you will accept that a Palestinian fan of your work living under Israeli occupation will not be allowed by law - and denied by an illegal[iii] wall built on annexed private Palestinian land, fences and military checkpoints - the chance to attend it.

Mobility in the West Bank is just one of the examples which illustrate the environment in which international cultural events in Israel take place. But Israel's human-rights abuses against Palestinians go much further than this: violent nightly incursions[iv] into Palestinian villages, systematic arrests of children[v] as young as 11, the killing[vi] of non-violent demonstrators - these are not isolated  occurrences of atrocities, they are the infrastructure of a system of oppression, practically unaffected by any criticism or international rulings that demand changes.

Read the rest of the letter and view the signatories here...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Visit an Israeli University ... They are the Real Zionists"

In the wake of the University of Johannesburg's decision earlier this spring to sever ties with Ben Gurion University (BGU)--a landmark victory in the global campaign for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel--the president of BGU debunks the claim by BDS critics that Israeli universities are a haven for the most progressive discussion about Israeli apartheid and Zionism.  

BGU president Rivka Carmi brags:
Among the nearly 5,000 full-time senior academics currently working in this country - and who are responsible for one of the highest rates of scientific publication in the world - less than 10 (10 people, not 10%) openly support the BDS movement.
All the university presidents and senior administrators actively denounce any such support, in Israel and around the world. ... 
Don’t let headlines and advertisements lead you astray. Visit an Israeli university. Meet with the amazing students and faculty members who embody the pioneering spirit that created and built this wonderful country. They are the real Zionists" ...
Rivka's boasting affirms the noble decision of the University of Johannesburg and the ongoing campaign for the academic boycott of Israel.

Click here to read Carmi's full article in the Jerusalem Post.

Click here for FAQs on academic boycott, and other forms of BDS.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tell Shakira & Gerard Pique - Please Sing Freedom for Palestine!

According to YNet News, Shakira and Gerard Piqué are planning to visit Israel, attend a Presidential Conference, and hold a press conference with Shimon Peres!

Here are some sample Tweets to ask Shakira not to entertain Israeli apartheid! - TWEET NOW!
Israel uses the Shakira "Laundry Service" to whitewash their crimes. #BDS #Palestine #Israel @Shakira

"Whenever, Wherever" is right for love, wrong for settlements in occupied Palestine. #BDS #Israel @Shakira

“Hips don't lie” but Israel does. Don't help hide Apartheid, cancel your trip! #BDS #Israel @Shakira

Israel: "Underneath Your Clothes" is occupation and oppression. Stand up for Palestinian rights, Shakira! #BDS #Israel @Shakira

Love's La Tortura is less painful than Israel's. Stand against Israeli torture of Palestinian political prisoners. #BDS #Israel @Shakira

Below is a letter from Israeli citizens to Shakira and Gerard Piqué, calling on them to "Sing Freedom for Palestine Instead of Endorsing Shimon Peres and Israeli Apartheid."

June 17 , 2011

Dear Shakira and Gerard Piqué

We are a group of Israeli citizens and residents, Jews and Palestinians; many of us have been fans of your music.

We recently learned that you have been invited to the Israeli Presidential Conference. We hope that you will allow us to explain why you should refuse to participate in international cultural events facilitated by the Israeli establishment and its most senior leaders.

The Israeli State has initiated a rebrand' campaign in order to distract attention from Israel's ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights and legitimize its senior politicians, like Shimon Peres. Your participation in the Israeli Presidential Conference will endorse this campaign.

We realize that cancelling at this late stage may seem drastic, but this should be understood in the context of Israel's utilization of international cultural events to construct a facade of normalcy to a reality in which 1.6 million Palestinians (44% of which are children under the age of 14) are kept under siege in Gaza, 2.5 million are kept under martial-law in the West Bank with no civil rights, and millions more are subject to racially discriminating laws inside Israel.

If you attend the Presidential Conference, you will accept that that a Palestinian fan of your work living under Israeli occupation will not be allowed by law - and denied by an illegal wall built on annexed private Palestinian land, fences and military checkpoints - the chance to attend it.

Hundreds of artists, academics, filmmakers, and writers worldwide have expressed their support for the human rights based Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, and recognized its pivotal role in the process of bringing an end to Israel's systematic human-rights violations.

Read the rest of the letter and view signatories here...