Friday, November 25, 2011

What We're Thankful For

By Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director
Wednesday, 23 November, 2011

Tomorrow morning, my wife and I will board a plane in Washington, DC, fly to Chicago, drive to Indiana to visit her parents, and drive back to Illinois to visit my family before returning home.

We're thankful that we have the means and opportunity to spend time with our loved ones during this holiday weekend.  Barring any flight delays or road construction, they'll know when to expect us.

Above: US Campaign staff and Steering Committee at our recent national conference.

It's easy to take our rights for granted even as they come under assault here at home.  But we know that something like our Thanksgiving travel plan--our right to freedom of movement--is a near impossibility for Palestinians whose human rights are violated daily by Israel's military occupation and apartheid policies.

Unlike Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation, on our way to the airport, we won't have to evade dozens of roadblocks, checkpoints, walls, and other barriers to our movement.  After picking up our rental car, no soldier will tell us where we can or can't drive.  No occupying army will intrude into our families' towns and cut short our visit by announcing a curfew. 

My wife and I are of different ethnic and religious backgrounds: she's Arab-American and I'm Jewish-American. And we would never allow our government to treat us any differently based on those differences. Yet, our government's military and diplomatic support for Israel enables it to discriminate against Palestinians based on their nationality and religious affiliations.

Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip are typically banned from Israel's airport (Israel destroyed the Palestinian airport in Gaza).  Palestinians can't ride on Israeli settler buses or roads constructed on their land in the West Bank, as dramatized last week by the courageous Palestinian Freedom Riders.  A Palestinian man from Gaza who is married to a Palestinian woman who is a citizen of Israel can't live with her. And Palestinian refugees, who were forced from their homes more than 63 years ago, still are denied their right of return by Israel. 

The only reason people have rights in this country is because for hundreds of years we have built movements to struggle to achieve them--and it is an ongoing struggle. We cannot allow our government to back Israel in denying Palestinians human rights--the right to travel, the right to go to school or work, the right to live where we choose--which we have in this country and to which all human beings are entitled. 

That's why we're also thankful for the thousands of people like you who make it possible for the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation to empower tens of thousands of people and nearly 400 organizations in our coalition to change our government's policies toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights, international law, and equality.

As you gather with your loved ones for this Thanksgiving holiday, please give thanks by donating whatever you can to the US Campaign to help us advance our goal.

We thank you for believing in the necessity and ultimate success of our mission.

By the way, we''d also like to show our thanks to supporters like you.  As a token of our appreciation, the first twenty people (U.S. residents only) who donate $100 or more will receive from us a bottle of fair trade, organic Palestinian olive oil.  Your generosity will help not only us, but Palestinian farmers struggling to remain steadfast on their land.