Monday, February 28, 2011

Report on Seattle protest of Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

This report is from the Palestine Solidarity Committee of Seattle, a US Campaign member group, about just one of multiple planned protests in U.S. cities where the Israel Philharmonic is performing.

Monday, February 28, 2011

About thirty protestors demonstrated outside Benaoya Hall last night during the IPO's appearance, holding a banner and signs that read, "Don't Harmonize with Occupation" and "Israel Fiddles while Palestine Burns." The protest was organized by Palestine Solidarity Committee - Seattle, and Voices of Palestine.

In 30-degree F. weather the demonstrators were accompanied by the Anti-Fascist Marching Band, a local street band that played "Caravan," Misirlou," Masters of War," Oseh Shalom/Khaveynu Sholem Aleichem," and other appropriate numbers. Demonstrators handed out a leaflet designed by PSC with one side detailing the ills of the occupation and noting the IPO's role in the "Brand Israel" campaign, and the other side explaining the goals and specifics of the academic and cultural boycott.

One creative protestor brought a professionally-made banner that read, "Don't you dare use my music to whitewash Israeli tyranny!" - Beethoven.

Meanwhile, eight human rights activists entered Benaroya Hall as concert-goers, having bought tickets.  Some of them played a cat-and-mouse game with plain-clothes security officers, who were present in abundance. Many of these sported ear wires and some were heard speaking Hebrew. The activists managed to distribute  more than 400 stylish postcards throughout the hall both before the concert and during intermission. The front of the 5" x 7" card displayed a white bust of Beethoven on a black background, with the heading, "Noble Music." The back of the card read, "Shameful Occupation" and outlined the nature of the occupation and the apartheid situation within Israel. At bottom it read, "Stop US Aid to Israel; End the Occupation."

Activists placed the cards on seats, handed them to audience members, and left some in the washrooms. The authorities managed to eject two people. Other activists waited until the last note of the concert had sounded and then raised a ten foot "END THE OCCUPATION" banner from seats in the center orchestra section. These people were ejected, but not charged.

While American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra had bragged that the concert had been sold out for five months, it was apparent that there were empty seats available in all sections of the house and that a significant number of the occupied seats had been reserved for Israeli security personnel.  Clearly, part of security force's objective was to eliminate our message countering the orchestra's "Brand Israel" "cultural diplomacy," as agents were seen gathering up the "Shameful Occupation" cards as fast as they could.  The orchestra's politicized role in whitewashing Israeli Apartheid was apparent from the first moment of the concert, when the orchestra members stood and played both the US and Israeli national anthems.

One blogger mentioned the banner incident and there was a local news report that ignored the protest.

Folk music legend Pete Seeger endorses boycott of Israel

This news comes today from Adalah-NY, a member group of the US Campaign, following a letter campaign that we started about six months ago, targeted at Pete Seeger.


Pete Seeger and Jeff Halper of ICAHD
Monday, 28 February, 2011

Folk music legend Pete Seeger has come out in support of the growing Palestinian movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel as a program for justice for Palestinians and a route to peace in the Middle East.

Seeger, 92, participated in last November's online virtual rally "With Earth and Each Other," sponsored by the Arava Institute, an Israeli environmental organization, and by the Friends of the Arava Institute. The Arava Institute counts among its close partners and major funders the Jewish National Fund, responsible since 1901 for securing land in Palestine for the use of Jews only while dispossessing Palestinians. Although groups in the worldwide BDS movement had requested that he quit the event, Seeger felt that he could make a strong statement for peace and justice during the event.

During a January meeting at his Beacon, NY, home with representatives from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and Adalah-NY, Pete Seeger explained, "I appeared on that virtual rally because for many years I've felt that people should talk with people they disagree with. But it ended up looking like I supported the Jewish National Fund. I misunderstood the leaders of the Arava Institute because I didn't realize to what degree the Jewish National Fund was supporting Arava. Now that I know more, I support the BDS movement as much as I can."


Organizers of "Israeli Apartheid Week" petition NYC LGBT Center over cancellation of fund-raiser

The New York City coordinating committee of Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) has launched a petition to New York's LGBT Center, in response to the center's sudden decision not to host IAW's March 5 event, "Party to End Apartheid."

The event was to be a benefit for two groups preparing to send another aid ship to Gaza: "Existence is Resistance," and the "Siege Busters Working Group," whose membership includes Emily Henochowicz, a Cooper Union art student who lost an eye while peacefully protesting in the occupied West Bank.

The LGBT Center, which hosts hundreds of diverse events per year, canceled the event after a prominent local right-wing gay activist, Michael Lucas, organized a boycott against it. Lucas is known for his "Men of Israel" films.

IAW's NYC coordinating committee has released a statement in response to the cancellation, and will attempt to collect as many petition signatures as possible.

Sign the petition...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Protesters picket Portland event launching an Oregon-Israel business alliance

The AUPHR president quoted in this article is also our Steering Committee member at the US Campaign. His group has conducted other recently successful actions in the Portland area, such as handing our petition, signed by 7,600 hundred individuals, to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, demanding that the Obama Administration hold Israel to the same legal standards as all other nations, and stop expanding settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This week's Portland event took another approach toward the same objective, by promoting financial divestment from the Israeli state.

By Richard Read, The Oregonian 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

About 20 protesters demanding rights for Palestinians picketed Tuesday outside the Portland launch of an organization formed to boost business between Oregon and Israel.

Former Gov. Ted Kulongoski spoke to more than twice that number at the Oregon-Israel Business Alliance kickoff inside the University of Oregon White Stag Building in Old Town. Kulongoski, who led a trade mission to Israel last year near the end of his term, favors increased dealings with Israel.

Outside, protester Steve Kerpen held a sign that said "Stop funding Israeli apartheid." Kerpen, of Portland, said he saw Israelis mistreating Palestinians during a visit to the West Bank in May. "I'm Jewish, but I've seen what's happening," Kerpen said. "It just seems a horrible thing to support a country that does this to its citizens."

Oregon trade with Israel is currently dominated by Intel Corp., which has an expanding semiconductor factory and a research group there.

But Portland-based Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights opposes business ties, saying Israel maintains apartheid policies that discriminate against Arabs. Peter Miller, president of the organization, said Kulongoski didn't address his group's concerns when members raised them last fall before the October trade trip.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Take Action on March 30th: Join the 3rd Global BDS Day of Action!

As popular uprisings continue across the Middle East, boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) organizing is heating up in the United States!

March promises to be a month full of creative events and actions, starting with Israeli Apartheid Week and wrapping up with a BDS Day of Action on March 30th, Palestinian Land Day. Please be a part of it!

Palestinian Land Day, "Yom al-Ard," commemorates the Israeli military's 1976 killing of six young Palestinians as they protested the Israeli government's seizure of Palestinian land. The day has since become a symbol of Palestinian resistance to land theft, colonization, occupation and apartheid.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is calling on supporters around the world to unite in a March 30th Day of Action by organizing BDS activities supporting: divestment; consumer, cultural and academic boycott; legal action and media activism. Click here to read the full call.

Not sure what to do? There's something for everyone! Here are just a few ideas:

Host a "Stolen Beauty" House Party. Still cold outside? Gather friends and laptop computers for some online activism to promote the campaign to Boycott Ahava. Enjoy tea, cookies, and good company while you publicize Ahava's occupation profiteering. Click here to write CODEPINK for details.

Gather signatures for the "TIAA-CREF: Divest from Occupation" Campaign. Pass around this petition at work, at school, in your faith community or any institution where TIAA-CREF retirement plans are offered. Last fall, one professor at the University of Massachusetts collected 80 signatures from colleagues and staff. Can you beat that?

Write an article about BDS for your local newspaper, campus publication or faith community newsletter. Click here for an example from the divestment campaign at the University of California at San Diego. Click here for a clear, compelling piece by Naomi Klein.

Take your BDS campaign to the next level, with a flash mob, using the US Campaign's new BDS Flash Mob Step-by-Step How-To Kit!

Host a speaker to talk about BDS. Get a speaker from the Speakers Bureau of the Palestine Freedom Project, a US Campaign member group.

Host a public film screening to garner support for a local BDS campaign. Palestine Online Store, our member group, has a comprehensive selection here.

Keep your eyes peeled for productions fit for cultural boycott. For example, Adalah-NY, our member group, and others are preparing to boycott productions by the Israeli Philharmonic.

Many more creative activities can connect you with a promising global movement to end Israeli apartheid. Street theatre! Poetry readings! Even just holding a sign that reads "Boycott Israeli Apartheid" on a crowded street corner will build awareness toward future BDS campaigns.

Write to to register your action on the global Day of Action calendar. Be sure to add your event to the US Campaign's online calendar, for publication in our biweekly email newsletter, Occupation End Notes.

As we promote BDS actions on Land Day, our government is preventing Palestinian leaders of nonviolent activism from advocating BDS in the United States. Last week the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem delayed a visa for Omar Barghouti, effectively canceling a spring tour to promote his book, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights. Barghouti was the keynote speaker at our National Annual Organizers' Conference two years ago in Chicago.

Click here for more information and ideas to take action in preparation for Land Day, and support Palestinians' human rights on their land!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Captain Israel" to Combat B.D.S., Win Support for Israel

Wednesday, 16 February 2011 
Tania Kepler for the Alternative Information Center (AIC) 

The new comic series "Captain Israel" is being distributed in Europe and the United States, on street corners and in newspapers, with the aim of winning fans for Israel.

Captain Israel is the creation of StandWithUs, a non-profit pro-Israel education and advocacy organization based in Los Angeles, that works at fighting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and sponsors its own Taglit-Birthright trip to Israel.

“For almost two thousand years, no other state or unique national group developed in Palestine; instead, different empires and peoples came, colonized, rules, and disappeared—but Jewish communities remained throughout the ages…” Captain Israel declares in the first edition of the comic.

StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said the character was introduced because “as Israel’s Jewish connection to Israel and the land is always being challenged, we wanted to reestablish our Jewish roots and make sure that everyone understood the history, stuff we know and take for granted and that others try to chip away at.”

The comic is devoted to “establishing a hero, establishing roots, [and] countering the venomous BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement. We’re in the business of branding the movement so that it’s clear that the players that promote boycotting Israel are not well-intentioned,” Rothstein told the Jerusalem Post.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Palestinian BDS proponent Omar Barghouti unable to enter US for book tour

Despite Obama Administration's Promise to Not Engage in "Ideological Exclusion" Prevalent in Bush Era… Omar Barghouti, Leading Spokesperson of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) Campaign Against Israel, Kept from Entering U.S. for Book Release Tour

Omar Barghouti
Inexplicable Visa Delays Effectively Canceling Series of Events on BDS Movement

Sponsors Call on Supporters to Contact the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem and Department of State to Fulfill Promise of "Promoting the Global Marketplace of Ideas" and Grant Barghouti's Visa

February 18, 2011

CHICAGO, IL--Effectively canceling a planned speaking tour, the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem has inexplicably delayed the granting of a visa for Omar Barghouti, founding member of the Palestinian Civil Society Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) campaign, due to tour the United States this April for the release of his new book, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights.

Nobel Peace Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu called the book "lucid and morally compelling… perfectly timed to make a major contribution to this urgently needed global campaign for justice, freedom and peace." Former President of the UN General Assembly, Father Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann called it "timely and responsibly written by a man who understands that creative nonviolence is the only way out of the dire situation in Palestine."

In recent years, numerous foreign scholars and experts have been subject to visa delays and denials that have prohibited them from speaking and teaching in the U.S.—a process the American Civil Liberties Union describes as "Ideological Exclusion," which they say violates Americans' First Amendment right to hear constitutionally protected speech by denying foreign scholars, artists, politicians and others entry to the United States.  Foreign nationals who have recently been denied visas include Fulbright scholar Marixa Lasso; Iraqi doctor Riyadh Lafta, who disputed the official Iraqi civilian death numbers in the respected British medical journal The Lancet; respected South African scholar and vocal Iraq War critic Dr. Adam Habib, and Oxford's Tariq Ramadan, who have both recently received visas to speak in the United States after many years of delays and denials.

For the release of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions, Barghouti has standing invitations for events in New York City, Harvard, Yale, Brown, Brandeis University, Washington DC, and Philadelphia. Barghouti studied, lived and worked in the United States for 11 years before permanently relocating to Jerusalem. He attended Columbia University, receiving both Bachelors and Masters degrees from the school. His U.S. born child, whom he needs a visa to visit, currently attends college in Indiana. Between 2005-2010, Barghouti visited the U.S. extensively without incident, on a 5 year visa, which only recently expired.

Barghouti's publisher, Anthony Arnove of Haymarket Books, stated that "It's essential authors be able to travel to promote their books and ideas, and as publishers we believe the free exchange of ideas is vital to a democratic culture. We find it frustrating that Omar's visa is being delayed and potentially denied for political reasons and hope the Consulate will grant his visa immediately."

Barghouti tour sponsors are calling on supporters to contact the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem and the Department of State to ask them to fulfill the promise from the Obama Administration of "promoting the global marketplace of ideas" and grant Barghouti's visa immediately.

U.S. Consulate:
Daniel Rubinstein
U.S. Consulate General, Jerusalem
18 Agron Road, Jerusalem 94190
Tel: +972.2.622.7230
Fax: +972.2.625.9270

Department of State:
Visa Services
Public Inquiries Division


Friday, February 18, 2011

Register NOW for Exciting March 5-7 Events in DC!

Spaces are filling up quickly, and registration closes on Tuesday, March 1!

As grassroots movements for democracy sweep the Middle East, now is the perfect time for you to come to Washington, DC, to build your activist skills and advocate to change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights, international law, and equality.

We are excited to co-sponsor -- with two of our member organizations: the American Friends Service Committee and Interfaith Peace-Builders -- three days of exciting events:

On Sunday, March 6 and Monday, March 7, everyone is invited to the IFPB/US Campaign Grassroots Advocacy Training & Lobby Day 2011.

Watch our two-minute promotional video here:

The event will provide seasoned organizers and new activists with the skills and experience needed to make a real impact.

As the US-led 'peace process' hits new snags, the importance of grassroots action has never been greater! The latest election provides a new opportunity for citizens to engage United States policy.  

Confirmed speakers include:

Anna Baltzer, Jennifer Bing-Canar, Mark Braverman, Mike Daly, Joe Groves, Nadia Hijab, Adam Horowitz, Andrew Kadi, Daoud Nassar, Loubna Qutami, and Josh Ruebner.

Click here to learn more and register at IFPB!

And our Saturday event...

AFSC event promotion graphicOn March 5, students and young adults are invited to AFSC's Campus Organizing Conference.

Join Campus Organizers for Educational Panels and Interactive Workshops!

    * Share Success Stories from Campus Activism, Blogs and Advocacy Campaigns
    * Learn how to Overcome Organizing Disasters & "Stump the Chump" with Area Experts
    * Workshops on Media & Messaging, Getting Started on Your Campus, Creative Actions, Building Bridges and Alliances  

Confirmed speakers include:

Rae Abileah, Maimouna Ahmed, Anna Baltzer, Jennifer Bing, Max Blumenthal, Shirien Damra, Felicia Eaves, Noura Erakat, Adam Horowitz, Mark Lance, Michael Merryman-Lotze, Abdelnasser Rashid, Miryam Rashid, Josh Ruebner, Brian van Slyke, and more.

Click here to learn more and register at AFSC!

We look forward to seeing you in Washington, DC in March for these important and exciting events.  Join us!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Adidas: Apartheid is not fair play, drop sponsorship of Jerusalem marathon

Posted by BNC Palestine on Thu, 02/17/2011

Occupied Palestine, 17 February 2011 - The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition of Palestinian civil society organizations and unions, calls on Adidas to withdraw its sponsorship of the first Jerusalem marathon to take place on March 25, 2011 to avoid becoming complicit in covering up Israel's war crimes and grave human rights abuses. Israel has been consistently, systematically, and quite blatantly working to “Judaize” Jerusalem through policies of ethnic cleansing directed at the indigenous Palestinian population to change the demographic reality of the occupied city, in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention and international human rights law.

A recent report by European Union Heads of Mission in Jerusalem stated that “the continued expansion of [colonial] settlements, restrictive zoning and planning, ongoing demolitions and evictions, an inequitable education policy, difficult access to health care, the inadequate provision of resources and investment and the precarious residency issue have not only serious humanitarian consequences, they undermine the Palestinian presence in East Jerusalem .” Adidas’s sponsorship of the marathon organized by the Jerusalem Municipality, the party responsible for the implementation of these policies, will be perceived as a stamp of approval of Israel’s violations of international law in Jerusalem and elsewhere.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Take Action: State Dept. Still Wrong on Israeli Settlements Resolution

Last Thursday, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Referring to a draft UN resolution condemning Israel's illegal settlements, he bragged:

"We have had some success, at least for the moment, in not having that [resolution] arise there. And we will continue to employ the tools that we have to make sure that continues to not happen."

Not if we can help it.

Last Friday in Portland, Oregon, a member of our Steering Committee, Peter Miller, delivered a petition signed by more than 7,500 people to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, asking the Obama Administration to support the UN resolution (watch our video of the hand-off).

Yet Rice went on to give a deeply disappointing speech in which she claimed that:

"UN members devote disproportionate attention to Israel and consistently adopt biased resolutions, which too often divert attention from the world's most egregious human rights abuses. I spend a good deal of time working to ensure that Israel's legitimacy is beyond dispute and its security is never in doubt."

Watch the video of Peter and other members of Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights (a US Campaign member group) challenging Rice on her claims.

What will it take to get the Obama Administration to stop its outrageous boasting about preventing the international community from holding Israel accountable for its systematic human rights abuses against Palestinians and its flagrant violations of international law?

At the very least it will take a lot more organizing on our part. So far, more than 10,000 people have signed our petition to Ambassador Rice.

If you have yet to sign, please take a minute right now to add your name to the petition and then tell your friends about it.

The United States unconditionally supports Israel diplomatically and militarily, despite the majority of Americans being opposed to this biased policy.

Help us show the Obama Administration the depth and diversity of this opposition by signing our petition right now.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rice: Israel’s legitimacy ‘beyond dispute'

The US Campaign has tried to fight this outcome through the petition drive we launched a week ago. You can still sign the petition here.

By Jordana Horn -- Jerusalem Post

Envoy to UN says US will continue "frontal opposition" to attempts to "chip away at Israel's legitimacy."

NEW YORK - In an address given at the World Affairs Council in Portland, Oregon, on Friday evening, US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice pledged American loyalty to Israel at the UN, saying that "efforts to chip away at Israel's legitimacy will continue to be met by the frontal opposition of the United States."

"Many others lament that the UN is too focused on singling out Israel," Rice said. "On that, they're right. UN members devote disproportionate attention to Israel and consistently adopt biased resolutions, which too often divert attention from the world's most egregious human rights abuses."

Rice works at her job, she said, to "ensure that Israel's legitimacy is beyond dispute and its security is never in doubt."

Rice said the United States has been "blunt about the deep flaws of the Goldstone Report and the Human Rights Council's inquiry into the tragic flotilla episode."

"We'll keep fighting to ensure that Israel has the same rights and responsibilities as all states - including membership in all appropriate regional groupings at the UN."


Sunday, February 13, 2011

11 Muslim Students Charged with Conspiring to Disrupt Israeli Ambassador's Speech

You may have been following the story of the "Irvine 11" as we've covered it here and in our biweekly email newsletter, Occupation End Notes.

11 Muslim Students Charged with Conspiring to Disrupt Israeli Ambassador's Speech 
Kristina Chew, February 12, 2011

Eleven California students have been charged with conspiring to disrupt a meeting and speech by the Israeli ambassador to the US at the University of California, Irvine, last February. The students all attend UC campuses and are all members of the Muslim Student Union. After the incident, the students were suspended for a quarter and many in the university thought this sufficient; the case has fueled debates about free speech on college campuses.

According to the February 5 Los Angeles Times, Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas has stated that the misdemeanor criminal charges were filed against the students because the students made an "organized attempt to squelch the speaker" and that that they "meant to stop this speech and stop anyone else from hearing his ideas, and they did so by disrupting a lawful meeting."

The New York Times describes the February 8, 2010, incident:
When the ambassador, Michael B. Oren, came to speak last February, several students stood up, one at a time, and interrupted him with shouted complaints about Israel. When the repeated outbursts continued deep into Mr. Oren’s speech, the ambassador huddled with his security aides to decide whether to continue speaking. He did, but by the time the speech was over, 11 Muslim students had been arrested.
The students have come to be known as the 'Irvine 11,' though three of the students attend the University of California, Riverside.  They have said that the protest was not an activity planned by the Muslim Student Union; nonetheless, an investigation by UC Irvine officials has found that 'the group had coordinated the protest in an effort to shut down the event.'  Prosecutors contend that students had held meetings and exchanged emails to plan the disruption of Oren's speech.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Join Us for the 2011 Grassroots Advocacy Training Conference!

Join Interfaith Peace-Builders, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and other national groups for the 3rd Annual Grassroots Advocacy Training and Lobby Day in Washington, DC. The event will provide seasoned organizers and new activists with the skills and experience needed to make a real impact.


Confirmed speakers include:
Anna Baltzer, Jennifer Bing-Canar, Mark Braverman, Mike Daly, Joe Groves, Nadia Hijab, Adam Horowitz, Andrew Kadi, Nassar, Loubna Qutami, and Josh Ruebner.

Presentations and workshops will provide expert analysis and essential skills on current topics for US-based activists, including

  • Policy Levers and Grassroots Fulcrums: Where Can We Push and Be Most Effective?
  • Ending Military Aid to Israel: Mobilizing for Policy Change in Your Community
  • Bringing Solidarity Home: Supporting Palestinian and Israeli Partners While Working for Change Locally
  • Mobilizing the Grassroots: Generating Leverage through Constructive Campaigns
  • Faith Based Organizing: Engaging Religious Communities and Creating Interfaith Space
The event will be preceded by a Campus Organizing Conference Saturday March 5th. Click here for details!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

U.S. Veto on Israeli Settlements Resolution Would Be Nadir for Obama

By Josh Ruebner
National Advocacy Director, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

The United Nations Security Council is expected to vote, possibly this month, on a resolution reaffirming that Israel's 150 settlements in the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem "are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace."

One would reasonably expect the Obama Administration to support this resolution as the president himself "does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," as stated in his June 2009 address in Cairo to the Muslim world.

But instead, the Obama Administration is threatening to use its veto in the Security Council once again to protect Israel from abiding by international law. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that "New York is not the place to resolve the longstanding conflict and outstanding issues between the Israelis and the Palestinians."


Battle over Mideast transit ads heating up across U.S.

When we last blogged about this issue (CLICK HERE), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington State was about to sue King County (Washington) after it censored bus ads, sponsored by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (a US Campaign member group), spotlighting how U.S. military aid to Israel enables its war crimes against Palestinians.

By Ben Harris, February 8, 2011

NEW YORK (JTA) -- With public bickering over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict already having spilled over into university student senates, corporate pension boards and even local farmers markets, the latest battlefield in the debate over the conflict is municipal transit systems.

In several major U.S. cities, advertisements on public buses and municipal rail stations are designed to galvanize public opinion to end U.S. military aid to Israel or to pressure Palestinians to end anti-Jewish incitement. In some cases, the ads have been deemed so inflammatory that local authorities have tried to restrict or ban them outright, leading to frustration on both sides and, in one case, a federal lawsuit.

A group calling itself the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, with the help of the local American Civil Liberties Union chapter, filed a lawsuit in Seattle last month charging that the group's First Amendment rights were violated when the local transit system reneged on an agreement to carry its ad opposing aid to Israel.


R&B; Singer Macy Gray to Perform for 4th Time in Israel, Despite BDS Calls

The US Campaign started an online letter-writing campaign on January 21, 2011, asking Macy Gray to cancel her performances in Israel. Since then, 5,622 individuals have emailed the popular singer through our web site, causing Gray to seriously reconsider her travel plans. Unfortunately she has still not been swayed by activists' exhortations. CLICK HERE and take just two minutes to toss your own weight into the campaign.

Sunday, 30 January, 2011
Tania Kepler for the Alternative Information Center (AIC)

American R&B and soul singer Macy Gray has announced that she will be performing in Israel, despite much talk of boycott and a Facebook forum with thousands urging her to stay away.

A few weeks ago Gray acknowledged that she had been contacted by people calling on her to boycott her two Tel Aviv concerts in February.

"I'm getting alot of letters from activists urging/begging me to boycott by NOT performing in protest of Apartheid against the Palestinians," Gray wrote on Facebook.


PACBI Asks Macy Gray Not To Come To Ramallah

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has released the following statement to Macy Gray: 

Open Letter to Macy Gray
Occupied Ramallah
February 9, 2011

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) views with great dismay your upcoming performance in Tel Aviv, despite your acknowledgment that “what the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinians is disgusting.” Furthermore, PACBI has learned that you intend to go one step further in your support of the Israeli state by meeting with members of the Israeli Knesset (parliament) on this trip. In doing so, you would be electing to serve directly the interests of the campaign to Brand Israel. This is a campaign that has been launched by the Israeli government and promoted by institutions throughout the country and abroad in order to whitewash Israel’s violations of international law and project a false image of normalcy. To be sure, you have served this near-ambassadorial position for Israel several times in the past: playing at the opening of the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles in 2008, and most recently visiting the consulate on request of its diplomats and releasing a statement declaring your support for Israel.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

March 5th Campus Organizing Conference!

For Peace and Justice in Israel/Palestine
AFSC Campus Organizing Conference
Join Campus Organizers for Educational Panels and Interactive Workshops!
  • Share Success Stories from Campus Activism, Blogs and Advocacy Campaigns
  • Learn how to Overcome Organizing Disasters & “Stump the Chump” with Area Experts
  • Workshops on Media & Messaging, Getting Started on Your Campus, Creative Actions, Building Bridges and Alliances
Speakers include: Rae Abileah, Maimuna Ahmed, Anna Baltzer, Jennifer Bing, Max Blumenthal, Shirien Damra, Felicia Eaves, Noura Erakat, Adam Horowitz, Mark Lance, Michael Merryman-Lotze, Abdelnasser Rashid, Miryam Rashid, Josh Ruebner, Brian Van Slyke, and more
When: Saturday, March 5, 2011 - 12:00pm - 6:30pm
Who: Young Adults (18 to early 30s) committed to securing a just and sustainable peace in Israel and Palestine
What: Participatory workshops, interactive presentations and panel discussion designed to increase your understanding of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and help you take on a leadership role within the Israel-Palestine peace and justice movement. Click here for the full conference agenda.
Where: Washington, D.C.
Click here for more details. Hope to see you there!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Take Action: Tell U.S. to Support UN Resolution on Settlements

On Jan. 27, an Israeli settler shot dead Odai Qadous, an 18-year-old shepherd tending his flock of sheep near his West Bank village of Iraq Bourin.  The very next day, more than 100 Israeli settlers stormed the West Bank village of Safa; during the melee that ensued, a settler killed 15-year-old Yousef Ekhlil with a gunshot to his head.

As the UN Security Council prepares to debate a resolution on Israel's settlements, the tragic deaths of Odai and Yousef serve as a stark reminder that not only are Israel's 150 settlements in the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal. Not only do they prevent Palestinian statehood, freedom and self-determination...

...Odai and Yousef's killings also remind us that the half million Israeli settlers, protected by the U.S.-equipped Israeli army, are responsible for some of the most egregious human rights abuses suffered by Palestinians day-in and day-out.

The draft Security Council resolution reaffirms that Israel's settlements "are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace."

We're sure that you agree and want to see the Obama Administration support this resolution.

Please add your name right now to our petition to the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, asking her to vote in favor of this resolution.

One would expect the Obama Administration to support this resolution as the President himself "does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," as stated in his June 2009 Cairo address.

But instead, the Obama Administration is threatening to use its veto in the Security Council once again to protect Israel from abiding by international law.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that "New York is not the place to resolve the longstanding conflict and outstanding issues between the Israelis and the Palestinians."

We disagree.

As we argued recently in the LA Times (Good Riddance, 'Peace Process'), the United States is not capable of being an honest broker.  A forum such as the UN, anchored in human rights and international law, is exactly the right place to achieve a just and lasting peace.

Let the Obama Administration know that you want our country to support the upcoming UN vote condemning Israel's illegal settlements.

If more than 10,000 people sign our petition before the vote, we will hand-deliver it to the U.S. Mission to the UN. Add your voice and help us spread the word now!

As the Obama Administration appears to be supporting human rights in Tunisia and Egypt, and their citizens' demands for freedom, the United States will lose credibility if it vetoes a UN resolution that supports those same rights for Palestinians. 

The State Department told us on Human Rights Day last December that "there is a single universal standard that applies to every country, including our own. We apply it to the Israelis, and we also view…Palestinians as being human beings under the Universal Declaration [of Human Rights] and entitled to those rights."

Sign our petition today and press the United States to live up its word.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

First International Israeli Apartheid Short Film Contest Announces Winners

First International Israeli Apartheid Short Film Contest Announces Winners

A year ago, Stop the Wall and began to collaborate on the first International Israeli Apartheid Short Film Contest. This contest encouraged the local Palestinian and larger international community to submit short films on the theme of Israeli Apartheid. From the videos submitted, the top ten short films were chosen to be showcased on the website. The organizers say “the media, especially in the United States, does not report the truth about Israeli Apartheid. The contest is an attempt to engage young activists all over the world to use the creative resources of video to get the issue of Israeli Apartheid into the mainstream.”

A process of viewing and voting on the films took place over the last months of 2010. Three panels of judges were formed to determine the winners of the four awards. The Expert Panel prize was determined by an international panel of experts in the fields of film and the Israeli Occupation. The Global Jury prize was determined by internet voting by anyone who visited the website and viewed the films during the fall of 2010. The scores submitted at two separate showings in Palestine determined the Palestinian Jury prize. And lastly, the Overall prize was awarded to the most outstanding film.

The winning films are as follows:

The Expert Panel prize and Overall prize was awarded to “Road Map to Apartheid”

The Global Jury prize was awarded to “Confronting the Wall”

The Palestine Jury prize was awarded to “Ali Wall”

For further information on the contest or to view more videos, visit:

These powerful films are starting to circulate on the internet all over the world. There have been showing of the films, in the US, Canada, Venezuela , Britain, Australia, France and the Netherlands.

Palestinian Fair Trade entrepreneur Nasser AbuFarha featured in Businessweek

US Campaign partner organization Canaan Fair Trade has been featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, the second largest financial publication in the US. For people in the U.S. wanting to purchase Canaan's products, our store contains a selection of its organic olive oils and soaps, and every purchase there supports our important work in the U.S.

Green Business: 
From the West Bank, Fair-Trade Olives

A Palestinian entrepreneur boosted the price paid for organic olives and has grown to become the West Bank s biggest exporter of olive oil

January 20, 2011
By David Wainer and Jonathan Ferziger

Nasser Abufarha was sipping coffee at a Madison (Wis.) café called Michelangelo's a few years back when it dawned on him how he might help struggling olive growers in his native Palestine. If the crowd could derive virtuous pleasure from mugs of "fair trade" organic coffee, they might be convinced of the superiority of organic oil pressed from West Bank olives.

Abufarha, a graduate student in anthropology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, wrapped up his dissertation on suicide bombers and headed home to the West Bank. The olive farming industry there was in a shambles. Yields were low due to poor soil treatment, and farmers were barely breaking even—leading many to abandon their fields and migrate to Palestinian cities, where unemployment hovered around 40 percent.

Tapping into savings from running a Middle Eastern restaurant in Madison, Abufarha in 2004 invested some $100,000 to start a company he called Canaan Fair Trade. The son of a watermelon farmer, he offered growers nearly twice the going rate during the olive harvest that year and soon started shipping oil to the U.S. and Europe. "It clicked to me—if we can take [the fair trade] concept to Palestine, we can bring wider market access to Palestinian farmers," Abufarha says in lightly accented English while piloting his mud-splattered Land Rover along the potholed road to his olive press in the village of Burqin.


Omar Barghouti: "Why Is BDS a Moral Duty Today?"

Why Is BDS a Moral Duty Today? 
A Response to Bernard-Henri Levy

by Omar Barghouti
The Huffington Post
February 1, 2011

In his angry attack on the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, Mr. Bernard-Henri Levy desperately attempts to smear the movement by presenting a number of patently false, regurgitated, and misleading premises and reaching, as a result, unwarranted, even illogical, conclusions. What Mr. Levy peculiarly tries to hide or obscure are the real objectives of the movement, who stands behind it, and the reasons behind its spectacular rate of growth lately, especially in France and other Western countries.

The fact is the BDS Call was launched by a great majority in Palestinian civil society on July 9, 2005, as a qualitatively new phase in the global struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice, and self-determination. More than 170 leading Palestinian political parties, trade union federations, women's unions, refugee rights groups, NGOs, and grassroots organizations called for a boycott against Israel until it fully complies with its obligations under international law. Rooted in a century-old history of civil, nonviolent resistance against settler colonialism, occupation and ethnic cleansing, the effort recalls how people of conscience in the international community have "historically shouldered the moral responsibility to fight injustice, as exemplified in the struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa," calling upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to "impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era."