Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bibi, Where's the Red Line on Apartheid?

An alternative take on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the U.N. General Assembly. Enjoy.

Appeals court to hear SeaMAC lawsuit over King County’s refusal to run Metro bus ads

So let's see if we have this straight...notorious Islamophobe Pamela Geller can go to court to force the New York subway system to run her vile and racist ads, yet when one of member groups--Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign--wants to run an ad like this on Seattle's buses, their First Amendment claims are dismissed in court.

Hopefully the ACLU will prevail in this appeal so that everyone can exercise their right to freedom of expression and not only Islamophobes.


On October 3, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SeaMAC) lawsuit over King County’s cancellation of a contract with SeaMAC to run ads on Metro buses. The hearing will take place at Gonzaga University School of Law, Barbieri Courtroom, 721 North Cincinnati Street, in Spokane beginning at 1:00 pm.  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington is representing SeaMAC in the suit.
The bus ads, reading “Israeli War Crimes: Your Tax Dollars At Work,” were examined, approved, and accepted by King County and Metro officials.  SeaMAC signed a contract and paid the full cost in advance, and the ads were printed and scheduled to run for four weeks starting on December 27, 2010.  The date was chosen because it was the second anniversary of Israel’s three-week military offensive against the captive population of Gaza in 2008-09, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,400 Palestinians -- most of them non-combatants and more than 300 of them children. 
The language of the ad was chosen to reflect the fact that investigations by Amnesty International, the United Nations and others found evidence of war crimes committed by Israel during the assault on Gaza.  Other war crimes have been documented during Israel’s long occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
At the last minute, on December 23, 2010, King County reversed course, cancelled the contract, and refused to run the ads.  Filed in U.S. District Court in January 2011, the lawsuit (SeaMAC v. King County) asserts that King County’s action violated SeaMAC’s First Amendment right of free expression and seeks to have the court order the ads to run on Metro buses, as originally approved. A trial in the case had been scheduled to begin on October 31, 2011, but a District Court judge granted King County’s motion for summary judgment and on October 10, 2011 dismissed the case.
The plaintiffs will ask the Court to reverse this decision. If the Court of Appeals overturns the lower court’s decision, the Court will either direct a verdict for plaintiff (or defendants) or the lawsuit will go back to the trial court to be heard before a jury. After the hearing, there is no deadline for a Court of Appeals ruling, and it typically takes 90 days or longer to reach a decision.
Photo of original SeaMAC bus ad available on request.

Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign is an all-volunteer organization incorporated in Washington State.  

For more information:

Minnesota Court of Appeals to Hear Israel Bonds Divestment Appeal

Minnesota Break the Bonds, a member group of the US Campaign, is arguing before the Minnesota Court of Appeals today in their ongoing lawsuit against the Minnesota State Board of Investments' holding of Israel Bonds.

Read their press release below about the appeal and stay tuned for more info on the case.
On September 27, 2012, the Minnesota Court of Appeals will hear arguments in an appeal brought by the Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign (MN BBC) against the Minnesota State Board of Investment (SBI). The hearing is currently scheduled to begin at 11:15 a.m. in Courtroom 300 of the Minnesota Judicial Center at 25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., in St. Paul.
MN BBC and others, including the besieged Palestinian village of Bil’in in the West Bank, sued the SBI for violating Minnesota law by investing in Israel Bonds. The appellants contend that Minnesota Statute 11A.24 restricts the SBI’s investment in foreign government bonds to Canadian Bonds, which excludes Israel Bonds. They also contend that the purchase of Israel Bonds materially supports Israel’s human rights violations and its continuing construction of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, an internationally recognized violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, a ratified treaty binding on Minnesota courts pursuant to Article VI of the U.S. Constitution. The appeal followed the dismissal of the lawsuit by Ramsey County District Court Judge Margaret Marrinan earlier this year.  
Israel Bonds, an arm of the Government of Israel, has hired Minneapolis attorney Charles Nauen to advise them about the issues surrounding the case. Israel Bonds is concerned that the lawsuit could set a precedent for lawsuits in other states, according to a recent statement by the executive director of Israel Bonds Midwest Region. Nauen is a local pro-Israel activist and a recognized political figure in Minnesota politics, having served as Governor Dayton’s chief co-counsel during the election recount. Nauen has boasted that he has received training from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in tactics employed to resist the worldwide Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Patterned after the South African anti-apartheid movement, the worldwide BDS movement is a response to the Palestinian call for non-violent resistance to Israel’s violations of international law and human rights in its treatment of the indigenous Palestinian population. MN BBC is an active participant in the BDS movement. Because of Governor Dayton’s position as the chairperson of the SBI and his close ties to Nauen, Israel’s retention of Nauen to represent its interests with respect to MN BBC’s Israel Bond divestment efforts raises serious questions about the extent of Israeli governmental influence in the affairs of Minnesota state government. Governor Dayton has been particularly resistant to MN BBC’s divestment demands, even after receiving information that the SBI’s investment in Israel Bonds materially supports human rights violations and illegal settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Media are invited to attend the hearing on September 27 but must register with the court prior to bringing recording devices.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Register Today for Sabeel Albuquerque Conference, Fri.-Sat., Sep. 28-29 and Come to UNM Event, Mon. Oct. 1

I'm so excited to come to Albuquerque for the Friends of Sabeel--North America conference this Friday and Saturday, September 28-29 at Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 114 Carlisle Blvd., SE, Albuquerque, New Mexico.


Friends of Sabeel--North America, a member group of the US Campaign, has put together an amazing lineup of speakers, including US Campaign Advisory Board member Nadia Hijab, and US Campaign Steering Committee member Sydney Levy, for this conference. This conference is not to be missed! Check out the exciting conference agenda and register today!

Also, you're invited to join me on Monday, October 1, 6:00pm at the University of New Mexico Student Union Building, Ballroom A for a presentation on "U.S. Aid to Israel: Can We Afford It?" We'll look at the moral, legal and financial implications of U.S. aid to Israel and how to get involved in our campaign to end it.

I hope to see you at Sabeel's Albuquerque conference this Friday and Saturday, and at the University of New Mexico next Monday.

Josh Ruebner
National Advocacy Director

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Take Action: Verdict in Corrie Case Requires U.S. Investigation

Urge the U.S. Government to Investigate Israel’s Attacks on Rachel and Others

Rachel Corrie
Rachel Corrie was a U.S. citizen and a human rights defender committed to ending Israel’s illegal demolition of Palestinian homes. According to the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions,Israel has demolished an estimated 27,000 Palestinian structures in Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967.

Rachel was killed by the Israeli military with a U.S.-taxpayer funded Caterpillar D9 bulldozer on March 16, 2003, in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, while seeking to protect the home of a Palestinian family from demolition.

In August 2012, a civil case in Israeli court against the Israeli military filed by the Corrie family concluded with the presiding judge not only absolving the State of Israel of any liability, but also blaming Rachel for her own death.  This is unacceptable.  

Take action today by signing this petition launched by us and our friends at the Center for Constitutional Rights urging the U.S. government to conduct investigations into all cases of Israel severely injuring or killing U.S. human rights defenders.
The U.S. government has long maintained that the Israeli military’s investigation into Rachel’s death was not thorough, credible, and transparent. The Israeli court’s verdict has only reinforced the fact that Israel is incapable of investigating and holding itself accountable for killing Rachel and severely injuring and killing other U.S. human rights defenders. 

Click to watch a video of a member group action for Rachel
Recently, member groups around the country took action during the Rachel Corrie Week of Action surrounding the verdict, focused on building the We Divest Campaign, which calls on financial giant TIAA-CREF to divest from companies involved in the Israeli occupation, including Caterpillar.On Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, activists from member group Hilton Head for Peace held a vigil to honor Rachel’s life and work for justice.

In Oak Creek, Wisconsin, member group Friends of Palestine demonstrated and performed street theatre at Caterpillar’s Mining Operations Headquarter.
Member groups around the country took action for Rachel.

Other activists and member groups in Honolulu, HI; Boca Raton, FL; Houston, TX; Phoenix, AZ; Philadelphia, PA; St. Louis, MO; Eureka, Palo Alto, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, CA; and Chicago, IL held other actions around the country outside of Caterpillar dealerships, an Israeli ConsulateTIAA-CREF offices. US Campaign members joinred others in Washington, D.C. in a demonstration outside the State Department. You can see photos of many of the actions here.

Other U.S. activists focused on social media. On the day of the verdict and the day after, #RachelCorrie and #divest4justice trended among the top ten most popular hashtags. And more than one hundred individuals worldwide posted photos in solidarity with Rachel and her family on this Tumblr blog
Whether or not you were able to take action during the Week of Action, please take action today by signing this petition calling for a U.S. investigation now.
Click here for a terrific round-up of the international Week of Action by Rochelle Gause of the Rachel Corrie Foundation, which ends with these poignant words:
“I don't think that Rachel should have moved. I think we should all have been standing there with her,” said Cindy Corrie in response to Judge Gershon's comment that Rachel should have moved out of the way of the Caterpillar bulldozer.  Rachel wrote from Gaza, “The international media and our government are not going to tell us that we are effective, important, justified in our work, courageous, intelligent, valuable. We have to do that for each other, and one way we can do that is by continuing our work, visibly.” May we continue to take Rachel’s words to heart, find ways to successfully mobilize ourselves, strengthen our networks, utilize new forms of communicating to affirm the just cause of the Palestinian people and stand with the movement for universal human rights in Palestine and Israel.
Please honor Rachel’s life and legacy by signing this petition today. 
Together we’ll deliver the petition to the State Department next month. Help us reach our goal of 10,000 signatures by signing right now and spreading the word!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Apartheid, L.A. Don't Roll that way! -- Reportback & Call to Action

DumpVeolia.LA activists rally outside City Hall
On September 12, 2012, Los Angeles Residents Confronted Veolia Corporation on Human Rights Violations at L.A. City Council Transportation Committee. Below you'll find a Report-Back and Call to Action from DumpVeolia.LA. ***PLEASE TAKE ACTION TODAY!*** There's something everyone can do among the items in red below.

On Wednesday, September 12, 2012, more than 40 people gathered to support the LA DumpVeolia Campaign at 2pm in the middle of a workday at the City of Los Angeles Transportation Committee during the first public hearing regarding the renewal of two contracts with Veolia to operate several lines of the city-run DASH buses that provide short run bus service to city residents. Over 30 people directly addressed the committee explaining their personal reasons for opposing the city doing business with a corporation actively involved in maintaining, and profiting from an apartheid transportation system in Palestine.  Over 500 postcards, petition signatures and letters from groups and individuals opposed to the awarding of this contract were submitted to the committee.

Community members testify before the transportation
committee of the L.A. City Council in opposition to Veolia.
Those making statements included representatives of Jewish Voice for Peace and the Los Angeles County Green Party.  Speakers included Christian clergy members, Anti-war organizers, Immigration-Rights organizers, Human Rights lawyers, and Labor Organizers.  Speaking against Veolia were members of the African-American, Chicano/Mexican, Jewish and Muslim communities in Los Angeles, as well as both Christian and Muslim Palestinians.

One representative of Veolia Corporation and four representatives of the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles spoke on the other side arguing that Veolia’s record of violating basic Human Rights around the world should not be considered when deciding on the awarding of this contract.

Despite Los Angeles’ history of being one of the first major cities in the U.S. to boycott and divest from the South African apartheid regime in the 80’s, divestment from corporations doing business with the military dictatorship in Burma in the 90’s, the severing of ties with the Boy Scouts of America in recent years because of that organizations open discrimination against members of the Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Trans/Queer community and Atheists, and the Boycott of Arizona beginning in 2010 after that state passed its racist anti-immigrant law SB1070 and despite the overwhelming support in the room to not award this contract to Veolia the three members of the committee present: Paul Koretz, Tom La Bonge and José Huizar voted unanimously to support Veolia’s bid.

A diverse group of more than 40 community members
showed up on a work day on short notice to show
support for the DumpVeolia.LA Campaign.
The LA DumpVeolia Campaign now has reason to believe that these contracts will now come before the full Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday, September 19th for a final decision. We strongly urge all who can to attend and be prepared the make a brief statement. There will be no comment time for this specific issue; however, there will be a period for general comments and we need you there!

Please RSVP now to attend the hearing this Wednesday, September 19th!

Stay tuned as the time approaches, as plans are not final.

If you are in the L.A. area but cannot attend on Wednesday, please click here to send letters to the L.A. city council.

And even if you are not in the L.A. area, everyone can sign this petition to the council members asking them to Dump Veolia! Sign today!

Finally, please join the DumpVeolia.LA Facebook page to follow developments...

The LA DumpVeolia Campaign would like to express their deepest thanks to all those who were able to attend this important meeting that put issues of Palestinian human rights and Israeli Apartheid directly in front of Council members and the City of L.A. in a way that hasn’t happened for at least many years, if ever.  We believe we made a very strong statement that we will be able to build on next week at the full City Council meeting and beyond, whatever happens there.  We also want to thank everyone nationally and internationally who have provided such invaluable support and solidarity.

The Los Angeles Dump Veolia Campaign is a local autonomous group that is part of the international Palestinian-led Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions (BDS) movement working for justice and respect for human rights in Palestine.  Please watch for important action alerts in the next few days for ways you can support the Campaign as we get closer to the final City Council vote.

Click here to view the Los Angeles Times article about the action.

Contact DumpVeolia.LA at to receive action alerts and to get more involved in this critical stage of the campaign.

For more information about the international BDS movement and Veolia corporation please visit

Monday, September 10, 2012

Register for the Russell Tribunal on Palestine

Join the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) on October 6—7.  The Tribunal will take place in Manhattan, venue TBA. The US Campaign has endorsed this historic initiative, which is organized to advance international law, raise public consciousness, and expose U.S. and U.N. complicity in Israeli impunity and responsibility in the denial of the Palestinian right to self-determination. 

US Campaign members will receive a discount on their ticket purchase by using this discount code [rtpjustice] at checkout.  We encourage all of our members to purchase their tickets as soon as possible to take advantage of the early bird rates before September 15th! If you register now, your ticket will be $10 for a one-day pass and $15 for a two-day pass! For more information on the speakers, jury and agenda, please visit our website.

Register today at:

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) is an international people’s tribunal that was created to expose human rights abuses and stir people to action in opposition to Israel’s recognized violations of international law. Join Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, Russell Means, Alice Walker and so many others in New York City on October 6-7, 2012:

RToP was launched in 2009 following the massacre of more than 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza perpetrated by Israel during "Operation Cast Lead." Since then, it has worked to bring together legal experts, scholars, activists, and other people of note, to help shed light on the reality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. RToP also shines a light on the active role that third parties—foreign governments and corporations—play in perpetuating human rights violations in Israel-Palestine.

Previous sessions of the tribunal have been held in Barcelona, London, and Cape Town. These hearings have addressed, respectively, European Union support for Israel, the complicity of corporations in the occupation of Palestine, and the question of whether Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid. The fourth and final session will be held in New York City this October 6-7 (press conference at the U.N. on Oct. 8th), and will examine the role of the United Nations and the United States in perpetuating Israel’s impunity in depriving the Palestinian people of their self-determination.

Register today at:

Like us on
Facebook. Follow us on Twitter: @RussellTribunal

Friday, September 7, 2012

AFSC and ADC Join Lawsuit Challenging Restrictions on Right to Advocate

Our member groups the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) have joined a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s restrictions on their First Amendment rights to engage in “coordinated advocacy” with Muhammad A. Salah. 

Muhammad Salah
(Tannen Maury / EPA/Newscom)
Salah is a Palestinian American and is the only U.S. citizen residing in the United States who is currently labeled a “Specially Designated Terrorist” by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control. This designation means people and organizations are prohibited from engaging in coordinated speech with him, even if only to express concerns about the government’s conduct. 

The lawsuit, filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), challenges the constitutionality of the “terrorist” designation of Salah and the unprecedented restrictions that come with it. From the CCR press release
"Under the restrictions, which bar virtually all economic transactions, even those necessary for survival, Muhammad Salah is not permitted to get a job, pay rent or a mortgage, pay for his children’s education, obtain medical care or even buy a loaf of bread without first obtaining approval from the Treasury Department."
Salah was classified by the Treasury Department as a “specially designated terrorist,” under Executive Order 12947, signed by then President Bill Clinton in 1995. He received no notice of charges against him and there was no trial or hearing. In fact, at the time, Salah was incarcerated in an Israeli military prison, charged by an Israeli military court with providing support to Hamas in the early 1990s. As CCR points out: 
"At the time, no law barred Americans from supporting Hamas. Following 55 days of intense interrogation, including sleep deprivation and physical brutality, Mr. Salah pled guilty to the charge and entered into a plea agreement. He was released in 1997 and returned to his home in the United States."
Eight years later, in 2005, the U.S. government charged Salah in a criminal trial with supporting Hamas. A jury acquitted him, yet his designation as a “specially designated terrorist” remains. 

In their press release, AFSC and ADC explained that they are "challenging the government’s power to impose arbitrary restrictions on our First Amendment rights to follow our conscience and raise public awareness about government actions we believe to be unjust." Both groups are unable to coordinate their activities with Salah and advocate on his behalf due to the government's restrictions.  

You can read more about Salah's case here: "US sued over 'terrorist' designation that has robbed Palestinian American of basic rights for 17 years."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

There is No Occupation So Why Are We Holding Our Conference?

There are only two weeks left to register online for our 11th Annual National Organizers' Conference at St. Louis University, September 21-23. We keep adding great speakers and workshops to our program, so check out what we have planned and register today!

We have many achievements to celebrate since last year. This increasing success of BDS campaigns and of efforts to educate the public about the moral and economic costs of U.S. military aid has Israel's supporters fighting hard to stifle any discussion around U.S. complicity in Israel's occupation and apartheid policies toward Palestinians. 

The Louis D. Brandeis Center, which supposedly works to "promote justice for all," issued a press release recently calling our conference "controversial" because of a "likelihood that anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate will be expressed." The president of St. Louis University, who went on a propaganda trip to Israel this summer sponsored by the "educational institute" of the American Jewish Committee, is being asked to speak out against our conference and make it clear that the "hateful, anti-Israel message of the boycott movement" is not consistent with the Jesuit mission of St. Louis University. 

Another group, Scholars for Middle East Peace, which purports to promote honest and fact-based discourse on Middle East issues, claimed that the Israeli occupation is a "relic of the past" as a recent Israeli government-appointed commission of jurists likewise concluded. They argued that it is time for Palestinians and their allies, including the US Campaign, to stop spreading "lies" about the existence of Israeli occupation. 

Why are these pro-Israel groups making ridiculous claims about the US Campaign and our work, and pressuring the university president to speak out against our conference? Because they know we’re succeeding and our conference is an important venue to move our work forward even more. Join us!

Initiatives to curtail efforts to expose Israel's crimes against Palestinians are also being taken up by state governments. The California State Assembly last week passed a resolution calling upon public universities to condemn “student- and faculty-sponsored boycott, divestment, and sanction campaigns against Israel that are a means of demonizing Israel and seek to harm the Jewish state.”

Several of our member groups, including American Muslims for Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, signed a letter to lawmakers organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations- California. The letter condemned the resolution, which "encourages university administrators to infringe upon students’ free speech rights. By equating legitimate political debates about geopolitics with anti-Semitism, the resolution emboldens administrators to take action to chill and prevent such speech."

Join us and our member groups at our conference to stand up to these attempts to censor efforts to end U.S. support for Israel's brutal policies toward Palestinians. Register today and help us change U.S. policy to support human rights, international law, and equality.

Take Action: Tell the Chapel Hill Town Council to Keep Our Ads Running!

If you live in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro, NC area, then please sign the petition to the Chapel Hill Town Council to keep the bus ads running that call for ending U.S. military aid to Israel.

Town Councilwoman Penny Rich is really banging the drums to kill these ads. She told Indyweek that the ads are a "manipulative way to essentially call for the destruction of Israel." Check them out below and judge for yourself.

Please read on for an appeal by Rev. Mark Davidson, of the Church of Reconciliation, to help mobilize political support for next week's key Town Council meeting, whose outcome might determine whether the ads are allowed to continue running, or if they will be censored.


By now, you’ve probably heard about the controversy that was generated by our Chapel Hill bus ad campaign to end U.S. military aid to Israel. In case you missed it, here’s a sampling of local media coverage.

The congregation I serve, the Church of Reconciliation, with endorsements from the Coalition for Peace with Justice, Jews for a Just Peace NC, and North Carolina Veterans for Peace, put these ads in the entire 98-bus fleet in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. They read: “Build Peace with Justice and Equality. End U.S. Aid to Israel.”

After a few weeks, the ads were temporarily taken down by the transit authority because its officials wanted us to add more contact information to the ads.  We did so and we’re happy to report that the ads are back on the buses as of last weekend.

However, we’re concerned that the Chapel Hill Town Council might take action next Wednesday, September 12, 7PM at its next meeting to change the advertising guidelines to prohibit non-commercial ads. If this happens, then our ads might get taken down again!

We can't let that happen. I need you to sign this petition to the Town Council calling on it to maintain non-commercial ads on Chapel Hill's buses and to continue running our ads for the one-year duration of the contraction we signed.

After you sign the petition, you’ll be given the chancto forward it via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Please share this petition far and wide so that we can show the Town Council how much community support exists for these ads.

We’ll deliver your petition signature at next week’s Town Council meeting. At the meeting, we’ll also be speaking about U.S. policy toward Israel and the Palestinians and the importance of keeping these ads running.

These ads to end U.S. aid to Israel have sparked an important community conversation around this issue. It’s an important conversation that we need to have. Please keep this conversation going by signing the petition to the Town Council to keep the ads running.

I hope to see you at next Wednesday’s Town Council meeting.


Rev. Mark Davidson
Church of Reconciliation, Chapel Hill

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What Goes Down, Must Go Up!

Defying the laws of gravity, ads in Chapel Hill, North Carolina calling for the United States to end military aid to Israel are now back up after having been temporarily taken down.

These ads, sponsored by the Church of Reconciliation and cosponsored by several local organizations, were placed on the inside of all 98 Chapel Hill-Carrboro buses last month.

Activists pose with copies of the ads appearing in Chapel Hill buses.
After the city received a few complaints about the ads, they were removed because the transit agency determined that the church needed to put some additional contact info on the ads.

The church gladly complied with this directive and the ads went back up on the buses last weekend!

These ads have generated a huge amount of community conversation about U.S. policy toward Israel and the Palestinians.  That conversation needs to be replicated in communities all over the country. Check out all of the media attention these ads have sparked.

We couldn't help but notice that the Anti-Defamation League, which has been opposing our ad campaign, rejoiced a bit too early that the ads were temporarily pulled.

Also, goofball Islamophobe Pamela Geller was predictably apoplectic that the US Campaign and so many of its member groups are raising awareness through these ads. Check out her screed against us.

With these ads, Chapel Hill became the ninth U.S. city in which our ad campaign--"Be On Our Side"--has appeared. Contact us if you're interested in bringing this ad campaign to your city!