Showing posts with label AIPAC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AIPAC. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I am AIPAC Culture Jamming!

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is set to hold its annual policy conference in DC starting on March 2. CODEPINK: Women for Peace is organizing Boycott AIPAC protests all day and you should come out to send the message that the U.S. should no longer support and fund Israel's occupation and apartheid policies towards Palestinians. RSVP here! 

You can also participate in some culture jamming in the lead up to the conference by taking the following two actions:
  • Watch and share this offensive video promoting the AIPAC policy conference. Click here to post on Facebook and here to tweet to your followers. 


  • Create and post an "I am AIPAC" sticker. AIPAC is asking its supporters to demonstrate how broad and diverse its membership is and to show their commitment to the pro-Israel movement. This is a great opportunity to expose what AIPAC actually supports: occupation, apartheid, colonization, and overall Israeli oppression of Palestinians.
    • Go to http://www.iamaipac.org/stickers/
    • Click "Choose a Photo" and upload an image that highlights Israel's brutal treatment of Palestinians. 
    • Choose your "I am..." from the list provided.
    • Submit the photo then save it and send it to membership@endtheoccupation.org so we can collect them and share on our Tumblr!
    • If you are on Twitter, tweet your sticker using #AIPACPride and #AIPAC14. 
    • Here is an example:  

Friday, February 21, 2014

Will You Boycott AIPAC?

Disgusted by AIPAC's (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) moves to bring us to war with Iran? Sick of seeing U.S. tax dollars fund Israel's occupation and apartheid policies towards Palestinians? Inspired by all the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) victories happening left and right? Then join us and CODEPINK: Women for Peace for a day of protests!  


Next month AIPAC will be holding its annual conference at the Washington DC Convention Center on Sunday, March 2. We will gather outside to protest the U.S. policies pushed by AIPAC including unconditional support for Israeli oppression of Palestinians. There will be actions happening all day from 8:30am-8:30pm. RSVP here!

There will also be a special event from 2:00-4:00pm. If you can make this action at 2:00pm, please email Sara sara.codepink@gmail.com to sign up!

We hope you will join us to Boycott AIPAC! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Do You Want to Continue This AIPAC Friendship?

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) will be holding its 2013 policy conference in Washington, DC next month under the banner of "Celebrating 65 Years of Friendship."  

Join the
 US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and our member groups CODEPINK, Fellowship of Reconciliation, and Interfaith Peace-Builders March 2-5 to Expose AIPAC and what this "friendship" truly means

The Expose AIPAC mobilization will kick off with a
 Grassroots Advocacy Training by IFPB and FOR on Saturday, March 2. The day-long conference will feature panels on AIPAC and its role in determining U.S. policy toward the Middle East; workshops on boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns; and trainings about lobbying Congress. Speakers include Laila Al Haddad, Rebecca Vilkomerson, Josh Ruebner, Phyllis Bennis and many more

CODEPINK will be coordinating direct actions outside of the AIPAC convention on Sunday, March 3 and Monday, March 4. And plan on joining the US Campaign Tuesday, March 5 for a constituent lobby day to bring our message to Congress

Check out the entire schedule
 and register today

The "friendship" between the United States and Israel that AIPAC pursues is one that
 endangers millions of lives across the Middle East. 

AIPAC has pushed for a U.S. military attack on Iran and has successfully lobbied the U.S. government to adopt
 crippling economic sanctions, which have hurt the Iranian people in many ways including fueling a medical crisis due to increasing prices of medical supplies. 

As seen in the U.S. elections just a few months ago, political action committees and individuals aligned with AIPAC's agenda provide millions of dollars in contributions to politicians
 cheerleading Israel's violations of international law and abuses of Palestinian human rights. This means that instead of sanctioning Israel for expanding illegal settlements and launching yet another military assault against Gaza, U.S. politicians compete in proving how much they stand with Israel

And AIPAC continues to demand 
unconditional U.S. support for Israeli occupation and apartheid policies toward Palestinians, support that comes in many forms including diplomatic protection at the United Nations and $30 billion in military aid from 2009-2018. 

This year will mark
 46 years of Israel's brutal military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. This year will mark 65 years of Palestinian dispossession. 

AIPAC lobbies for U.S. taxpayer money to help continue Israel's oppression of Palestinians instead of to fund unmet community needs here at home. 


Register today to help Expose AIPAC and change U.S. policy to support human rights, international law, and equality.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

No laughing matter: The cutting of UNESCO funding

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a member of the US Campaign Steering Committee, a senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies and the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum.

In classic fashion cable television's The Daily Show recently reminded those of us who have conveniently forgotten that, for the most cynical of reasons, the US government has cut funding to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The cut was carried out in October 2011 as a US response to UNESCO accepting Palestine as a participating member nation.  The US Congress, in its wisdom, has ruled that any such actions by an international body should come at great cost, in this case, the elimination of US funding - some 22 percent of UNESCO's budget.

The Daily Show rightly made the members of Congress out to be curmudgeons, hacks, and misanthropes who would rather score political points against the Palestinians than protect innocents being assisted by UNESCO. The program’s only shortcoming was its failure to assign blame to AIPAC for repeatedly pushing misguided policies toward the region.

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
America's Problem with UNESCO Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

The theory behind this ill-considered measure is that any recognition of Palestine as having an independent government and statehood aspirations should be discouraged in order that Palestinians and Israel may settle their nearly 64-year dispute via direct negotiations and with no outside assistance from the international community to balance the playing field between the state of Israel and the dispossessed Palestinian people. To some this may sound rational except that Israel holds all of the cards, even following the 1993 Oslo Accords that were supposed to lay the foundation for the establishment of an independent, legitimate Palestinian state living at peace with Israel.

It remains completely unclear to any independent observer how Palestine entering into UNESCO would influence negotiations that are not taking place.  What it does do is to display to all who wish to see that the Palestinians are viewed by most of the world as a legitimate nation of people who have the right to fully operate at the international level.

Continue Reading at The Hill

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rae Abileah and Josh Ruebner on Arab Voices



Arab Voices, broadcast on 90.1 FM Houston, featured Rae Ablieah, of Occupy AIPAC and Code Pink and National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner, on its March 7 show.  Click the link below to listen to the broadcast, which covered AIPAC, Occupy AIPAC, the campaign to end military aid to Israel, and more.

 
 
Date:

 
Guests:
Rae Abileah
Jewish-American activist of Israeli descent. She is organizer with Occupy AIPAC - a counter-conference that took place across the street from the AIPAC conference held in Washington, D.C. few days ago. Rae is also co-director of the peace group CODEPINK. Last year, an alleged member of AIPAC physically assaulted and injured Rae when she disrupted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech in the U.S. Congress.
 
Josh Ruebner
National advocacy director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (a national coalition of nearly 400 organizations working to change U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine to support human rights, international law, and equality). He is a former analyst in Middle East Affairs at theCongressional Research Service 
(a federal government agency providing Members of Congress with policy analysis). Josh is author of the newly-released policy paper entitled "U.S. Military Aid to Israel: Policy Implications & Options".
Topics:
A live discussion with Rae Abileah and Josh Ruebner about AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and its annual conference held March 4-6, 2012 in Washington, D.C.; the influence AIPAC has on the U.S. foreign policy towards Israel, occupied Palestine and Iran; the amount, impact and legality of the financial and military aid the U.S. provides to Israel every year; and much more.
   

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Obama Goes to AIPAC: A Scorecard

US Campaign Steering Committee member Phyllis Bennis analyzes President's Obama's speech to AIPAC in this Salon article.  Phyllis writes:

Aside from the rhetorical pandering on Iran, perhaps the biggest failure in Obama’s AIPAC speech was in its giving Israel a get-out-of-accountability-free card. Clearly Israel has no reason to worry about any possible U.S. pressure to end its occupation and apartheid policies. Any Obama administration commitment to working to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is over, at least till after the elections. 
Read the rest of this important article, comment on it, and share it via social media here: http://www.salon.com/2012/03/07/obama_goes_to_aipac_a_scorecard/

Friday, March 2, 2012

Occupy AIPAC Live-Streaming Summit Tomorrow






Occupy AIPAC starts tonight! 


If you're in DC this weekend we look forward to seeing you soon!  See the UPDATED schedule of actions here. 

We will be live-streaming the Occupy AIPAC Summit tomorrow, Saturday, March 3, 9:00am-5:30pmEST - watch it live at www.occupyaipac.org or directly on Ustream http://ustre.am/Ic3b.  

Even if you can't join us at Occupy AIPAC, we need your help in promoting this message far and wide. The 99% say NO to war on Iran and YES to diplomacy and respect for Palestinian rights.  Please take a moment to spread the word with social media and send a message to Obama and Congress.


TELL OBAMA
Tell Obama to get out of bed with AIPAC and say No to war on Iran! Take action here 

TWITTER
Follow us @OccupyAIPAC, the AIPAC policy conference is #AIPAC2012, join our efforts to culture jam their twitter feed

The 99% say NO to war on Iran and yes to respect for Palestinian rights #Occupy #AIPAC #AIPAC2012

AIPAC ensures that our tax $ pay for the occupation of #Palestine. We say enough! It is time to @OccupyAIPAC!www.OccupyAIPAC.org 

Say NO to war on #Iran! Join @OccupyAIPAC for a mass demo outside the #AIPAC conference in March http://bit.ly/NoWarOnIran 

Tell Obama to get out of bed with Bibi and AIPAC http://ow.ly/9obus @OccupyAIPAC #Iran #Israel #Palestine #AIPAC2012

Tell Obama we don’t want war with Iran http://ow.ly/9obus @OccupyAIPAC #AIPAC2012

Tell Obama to stop subsidizing Israel’s occupation http://ow.ly/9obus @OccupyAIPAC #Palestine #AIPAC2012
FACEBOOK

Protest war on Iran and let right-wing Israel Lobby AIPAC know that the US will not support war! Join Occupy AIPAC on March 4 in Washington DC! http://www.facebook.com/events/316616028390541/
Tell Obama to stop subsidizing Israel’s occupation http://ow.ly/9obus
Demand a just peace in the Middle East!  AIPAC was a driving force behind the war in Iraq and now it is pushing for war on Iran.  Protest Sunday, March 4th in DC with OCCUPY AIPAC.http://www.facebook.com/events/316616028390541/

Bring our war dollars home - the US can't afford a war with Iran! Show the US stands for peace this weekend, March 4, at OCCUPY AIPAC. http://www.facebook.com/events/316616028390541/

Do you oppose war on Iran?  Tell the right-wing Israel Lobby to stop pushing war and occupation!  Protest in DC this Sunday: http://www.facebook.com/events/316616028390541/ 

Do you support equality and freedom for Palestinians?  Attend the Occupy AIPAC Summit and protests in DC March 3-6!  Take a stand against the lawless policies promoted by the right-wing Israel Lobby!  Register and find out more here: www.occupyaipac.org 

It's time to end the stranglehold that K Street Lobbyists and Super PACs have on our government. Protest for a government by and for the people. Occupy AIPAC March 2-6 in DC - don't miss this chance to make history - www.occupyaipac.org

AIPAC is lobbying Congress to promote a military confrontation with Iran. Do you agree?  www.occupyaipac.org
Why Occupy AIPAC? Because we support justice, dignity, and equality for all in Israel & Palestine. Join us in DC!  www.occupyaipac.org 


In solidarity,
Occupy AIPAC 

Monday, January 23, 2012

No Comment Warranted on Commentary Blog

The neo-con rag Commentary had an especially tendentious post on its blog Contentions on Friday proving for themselves beyond a shadow of doubt that there exists a grand conspiracy between Marxism, anti-Semitism, the Occupy movement, and the US Campaign to "sabotage or at least overshadow the AIPAC event," by organizing Occupy AIPAC.

Let's leave aside for the moment the hypocrisy of a magazine formerly dominated by Communists (who then found the light in shucking for American imperialism) engaging in McCarthyite red baiting. Um, dudes, the 1950s was like so last century.

I can't figure out if this blog post is the result of sloppy journalism, or a hatchet job, or most likely a combination of the two. First off, they give us credit for organizing Occupy AIPAC. Thanks for the publicity, but we're actually just one of more than 100 organizations endorsing the event and promoting it. (As we mentioned in our email last week, we'll also be doing workshops and organizing a Congressional Hill briefing for it.)

Then they have the nerve to call us the "so-called" US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. According to Collins Thesaurus, so-called is most definitely a pejorative, meaning "alleged, supposed, professed, pretended, self-styled, ostensible," and so forth. Hey, Commentary, take a step outside of your Israel-is-the-best-thing-since-sliced-bread bubble and start getting used to the fact that growing numbers of people in the United States are simply sick and tired of the United States bending over backwards to protect Israeli occupation and apartheid against Palestinians. Yeah, Commentary, we're not "so-called"; we're part of the political landscape. Hide your head in the sand all you want.

Thanks, though, for your back-handed compliment of us having "neatly appropriated the slogans and the spirit" of the Occupy movement. We're not though "appropriating" the Occupy movement--we are part of it. We're a part of a growing national movement to get special interest money out of our corrupt political system, to stop gaming our economy to promote militarism and never-ending warfare, and to make government work for the people and not the elites like casino poobah Sheldon Adelson who dumped millions of dollars into Newt Gingrich's super PAC to get him to say outrageously dumb things like the Palestinians are an "invented people" and that he would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

Damn right, Commentary, we'll be Occupying AIPAC come March. AIPAC's number one lobbying item is always to advocate for more U.S. taxpayer-funded weapons transfers to Israel, weapons which will be misused in violation of U.S. law to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians like Mustafa Tamimi who died in December after he was shot in the face by an Israeli soldier with a high-velocity tear gas canister likely manufactured by Combined Systems, Inc. of Jamestown, PA and paid for with U.S. taxpayer money.

We've got so many better things to spend our money on than killing Palestinian protesters like Mustafa Tamimi who want nothing more, nothing less, than their inherent and fundamental human rights to a life of freedom, justice,and equality, rather than brutal military occupation and apartheid. So, yeah, Commentary, we'll be there protesting AIPAC's agenda and all of your silly accusations about who we are and what we stand for won't stop us.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Now Is the Time to #OccupyAIPAC


Join Us in Washington, D.C., March 2-6, to #OccupyAIPAC

by Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director

January 19th, 2012

Ever since the Occupy movement burst on to our political landscape last fall and reinjected energy into the movement to make government serve the 99 percent instead of the elites, we've enthusiastically joined forces by doing teach-ins at Occupy protests across the country and sending hundreds of organizing packets to empower local activists to end military aid to Israel.

Now we're ready to Occupy AIPAC. We'll be joining with member group Code Pink and more than 100 other endorsing organizations for five days of film screenings, teach-ins, performing arts, direct actions, trainings and grassroots advocacy during AIPAC's annual policy conference.

Join us from March 2-6 in Washington, D.C. Register today to hold your place.

In our struggle to change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights, international law and equality, perhaps no organization better epitomizes everything that is wrong with our political system and current policies of support for Israeli occupation and apartheid than AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The time has come to #OccupyAIPAC!

Here are just a few of the many reasons to #OccupyAIPAC:


An AIPAC front group skirts Congressional ethics guidelines to send Members of Congress on lavish trips to Israel where they are lobbied intensively to provide more taxpayer-funded weapons to Israel.

Political action committees and individuals aligned with AIPAC's agenda dump millions of dollars into elections to ensure that politicians applaud Israel's human rights abuses of Palestinians.

And, AIPAC lobbies for ever-expanding sanctions and never-ending wars against other peoples and countries, with Iran now the focus of their efforts.

Who benefits
from the policies that AIPAC is pushing?  Certainly not Palestinians, who bear the brunt of U.S. weapons transfers to Israel and unconditional diplomatic support for Israel and live under brutal Israeli military occupation and apartheid. Certainly not the millions of ordinary Iraqis, Syrians and Iranians who have suffered harm as a result of AIPAC-backed sanctions and wars. And certainly not us, whose taxpayer dollars are diverted from funding unmet community needs to giving Israel--a country with greater per capita wealth than New Zealand and Saudi Arabia--$30 billion in military aid from 2009 to 2018.

It seems that the people benefiting from AIPAC policies are those in Israel and their supporters in the United States who work to ensure that Israel continues to subjugate Palestinians, to deny their fundamental human rights, and to try unsuccessfully to strip them of their humanity.  And, of course, also benefiting are the U.S. weapons manufacturers, who literally make a killing by joining with AIPAC to lobby for more taxpayer-funded weapons to Israel to injure and kill Palestinians by the thousands.

For these reasons and more, we strongly encourage you to join us in Washington, D.C., March 2-6, to #OccupyAIPAC.


Above: Click to see our interactive map of cities where people are organizing to end military aid to Israel -- and sign up!


The US Campaign will conduct a workshop there to end military aid to Israel, and organize a Capitol Hill briefing to launch our new policy paper documenting the devastating impact on Palestinians of U.S. weapons transfers to Israel and build our case for sanctions against Israel.

Learn more about #OccupyAIPAC and register today!

We've got a lot of work ahead to counter AIPAC's agenda--both here in Washington, D.C. in March and throughout the country all the time.  Help us do so by signing up to organize in your community to end U.S. military aid to Israel.  When you do, we will send you posters, stickers, postcards, flyers and more, to help educate and organize people in your city.  More than 2,000 organizers from 950 cities have already joined this ongoing campaign.  Sign up today to help us reach our goal of 1,000 cities with people organizing to end military aid to Israel in time for #OccupyAIPAC.

And don't forget about our exciting matching funds competition for community groups that want to organize campaigns to get their city councils to pass resolutions to end military aid to Israel and redirect the money to unmet community needs.  That's right, we're offering your community group money, resources, training and inspiration to do it! 

Thank you for helping us to #OccupyAIPAC and for changing our country's policies to support freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians.


Make your tax-deductible contribution to the US Campaign to support our ongoing efforts to counter AIPAC's agenda and end U.S. military aid to Israel.

Latest Hasbara Meme: BLACKWASHING

By Richard Silverstein
RichardSilverstein.com
January 9, 2012

You’ve heard of pinkwashing, greenwashing-now “blackwashing” joins the cast of pro-Israel hasbara communities exploited in order to combat the major criticisms of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians.  Pinkwashing is the effort to promote Israel to the gay community in order to point out the homophobia of Arab culture and nations.  Greenwashing is the attempt by environmental groups like Jewish National Fund to point to Israel’s alleged sensitivity to environmental issues (excluding of course its heinous treatment of Negev Bedouins whose communities are being bulldozed by the Israeli government in collaboration with JNF).  Now blackwashing is the rage.

African American political leaders and
students on Aipac Israel junket
Israel lobby groups like Aipac have worked closely cultivating relationships on college campuses with African-American students.  They send these young leaders to Aipac conferences where they can be trotted out to the media as witnesses for the defense to combat the BDS campaign to label Israel as an apartheid state:
When Vincent Evans arrived as a bright-eyed first-year at Florida A&M, the country’s largest historically black university, he knew he wanted to get involved in politics. So when an older student leader approached him one afternoon after a student government meeting to ask if he wanted an all expenses paid trip to D.C., Evans jumped at the opportunity.
The trip, it turned out, was sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, the country’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying outfit. Israel is under growing attack from Palestinian and international activists who call the country a racist apartheid state. In response, its staunchest U.S. lobby is recruiting black students as moral shields to make the case for Israeli impunity. At historically black colleges and universities (known as HBCU’s) around the country, AIPAC is finding and developing a cadre of black allies to declare there’s no way Israel can be racist.
In his four years in college, Evans traveled to D.C. at least 10 times on AIPAC’s dime. He and a small group of other student leaders from his school joined hundreds of others from around the country, including other HBCU students, for AIPAC’s semi-annual Saban Leadership Seminar.
“Within the program,” says Evans, “they make a concerted effort to reach out to HBCU and majority Hispanic schools.”
Does the Israel lobby care about African-American students?  Does it care about the issues close to their heart?  Is it about to reach out to Blacks to create political coalitions to advance causes of mutual interest to each community?  Are you kiddin’?  These kids are fodder in the PR war.  They don’t mean anything other than having a black face to show the world that Israel isn’t an apartheid nation.  But how much do these kids really know about Israel?

ARTICLE CONTINUES...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The phony war over which US party loves Israel most

Issam Rimawi / APA images
By Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director
January 10, 2012
The Electronic Intifada

“No Aid to Israel?” wonders a recent Facebook ad sponsored by US President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. “Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Newt Gingrich say they would start foreign aid to Israel at zero. Reject their extreme plan now!” the ad implores, directing people to sign a petition to that effect on my.barackobama.com (“Stand against “zeroing out aid to Israel””).

After signing the petition, the caption underneath a beaming photo of the president declares that “Any plan to cut foreign aid to zero across the board is dangerous and ignorant. It’s up to us to get the word out about it. Donate now to help us spread the facts about the Romney-Perry-Gingrich plan to wipe out foreign aid to allies like Israel.”

Ruebner
As Salon writer Justin Elliott correctly notes, “the Obama ads are incredibly dishonest. First of all, the Republican candidates were talking about setting foreign aid at zero each year as a starting point in discussions about how much to give, not setting it at zero as a matter of policy” (“Obama’s dishonest Israel ads," Salon, 12 December 2011).

However, the Obama campaign is far from unique in employing a breathtakingly simplistic strategy of artifice and vituperation (both against opposing candidates and against Palestinians) to bolster their pro-Israel street cred in a transparent ploy to attract campaign donations and votes. US support for Israel, once a carefully nurtured bipartisan consensus, is fast degenerating in the context of the 2012 presidential election into a mud-slinging partisan contest as to which party, in the words of Mitt Romney, who leveled the accusation against Obama, is more guilty of having “thrown Israel under the bus” (“Mitt Romney accuses Obama of “throwing Israel under the bus”, CBS News, 19 May 2011).

Last month’s presidential forum organized by the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) managed to ratchet up the rhetoric another notch. Invoking the ghost of Neville Chamberlain, Michele Bachmann accused Obama of having “confused engagement with appeasement.” Romney blamed Obama for “immeasurably set[ting] back the prospect of peace in the Middle East.” Rick Perry asserted the administration has unleashed a “torrent of hostility towards Israel.”

Not to be outdone, Newt Gingrich took to the airwaves the next day to dub Palestinians an “invented people.” Unnoticed until recently, Rick Santorum topped all other comers when he stated in November that “all the people who live in the West Bank are Israelis, they’re not Palestinians” (“Pro-settler Santorum claims Mexico and the West Bank,”Salon, 6 January 2012).

This rhetoric occasioned Arab American Institute founder James Zogby to lament that “all of this goes beyond the normal platitudes offered up in an election year. It was dangerous, shameful and crass pandering, making it clear how far today’s GOP has moved from the reality-based foreign policy of the Bush-Baker era” (“GOP candidates discuss Israel-Palestine,” 12 December 2011).

Obama’s clear legacy of support for Israeli policy

Notwithstanding this political hot air, no political elite, whether in the Democratic or Republican Party, can legitimately be accused of “throwing Israel under the bus,” least of all Obama. On behalf of protecting Israeli occupation and apartheid, the president has employed the only US veto at the UN during his term to derail a mild condemnation of Israel’s illegal settlements and backtracked on his hope to see Palestine admitted as a member of the UN this year, while deploying the full arsenal ofUS diplomacy to block the initiative behind the scenes.

Also lost in the heat of this faux electoral debate is the fact that the Bush and Obama administrations, with a bipartisan rubber stamp in Congress, have tag-teamed to ramp up to unprecedented levels both military aid to Israel and the joint research, development and field testing of anti-missile projects financed separately by the Pentagon. According to the terms of a memorandum of understanding signed by the two countries in 2007, the US is scheduled to provide Israel with $30 billion in tax-payer funded weapons between 2009 and 2018, a 25 percent average annual increase over previous levels (Memorandum of understanding, 2007 [PDF]).

While presidential candidates make risible claims that the other party is abandoning support for Israel, this increasing partisan sniping is no laughing matter to those advocating for a strong US-Israel relationship. In September, the Center for Strategic and International Studies released a policy paper by Haim Malka, deputy director of its Middle East Program, warning that this “partisan wedge is likely to deepen, posing considerable challenges to Israel and the US-Israeli partnership.”

This burgeoning fear led two stalwarts of the Israel lobby — the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee — to issue a National Pledge for Unity on Israel, which beseeches “national organizations, elected officials, religious leaders, community groups and individuals to rally around bipartisan support for Israel while preventing the Jewish State from becoming a wedge issue in the upcoming campaign season” (“National pledge for unity on Israel”).

However, instead of calming the waters, the pledge initiative served only to roil them more. The ultra-alarmist Emergency Committee for Israel’s Bill Kristol responded in Washington Jewish Week with a dismissive “You must be kidding” statement, accusing the organizations of needing “a refresher course on the virtues of free speech and robust debate in a democracy” (“Should Israel be a partisan issue in American politics?,” 2 November 2011).

Matt Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, declared that “This effort to stifle debate on US policy toward Israel runs counter to this American tradition.”

Far from rethinking US policy on Israel

Yet Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of “liberal” Israel lobby group J Street, lamented in The Washington Post that this debate is redefining what it means to be “pro-Israel” and rendering it the “exclusive property of the political right. In doing so, they are breaking new ground. Their agenda is not to ensure bipartisan support for aid to Israel or nurturing US-Israeli ties based on shared interests and values” (“What pro-Israel should mean,” 16 December 2011).

Instead, he rather naively accused the candidates of “seek[ing] political advantage,” as if everything that politicians do were not based on their political calculus of what is expedient to them.

While fretting about Israel as an electoral issue has been confined largely so far to the self-described “pro-Israel” crowd, an open and honest debate about US policy toward Israel and the Palestinians desperately needs to take place in the broader body politic as well.

However, this debate must be one which is more substantive and critical than the cotton candy served up in this electoral circus. For far too long, the US political system has treated Israel as a sacred cow, leading to unconditional military and diplomatic support for its illegal 44-year military occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and its human rights abuses of Palestinians.

Now that Israel is becoming just another issue over which the parties squabble, even if it is to trip over each other in a modern day redux of “who lost China?” (a debate over communism that raged for much of the twentieth century), U.S. support for Israel is becoming in the process normalized as a political issue.

Proof of this normalization occurred after the bipartisan failure of the super-committee to produce a deficit reduction plan, triggering across-the-board budget cuts in 2013. Because of this deadlock, regular appropriations of US military aid to Israel are set to substantially decrease for the first time since President Gerald Ford’s 1975 “reassessment” of US policy toward Israel.

Obama was to have requested a record-breaking $3.1 billion in military aid to Israel in his Fiscal Year 2013 budget, the level at which weapons to Israel was expected to plateau until 2018.

However, according to Nathan Guttman, writing in the Jewish Daily Forward, Israel will lose an estimated $250 million yearly from its military aid package when across-the-board budget cuts take effect. Surprisingly, Guttman notes, AIPAC, the largest pro-Israel lobby in the US, has yet to publicly protest the upcoming cuts in military aid to Israel, because it “may fear a backlash if Israel is singled out for special treatment in the face of broad cuts favored by both Democrats and Republicans” (“Israel faces $250 million slash in aid,” 2 December 2011).

Even as these tangible cuts to military aid to Israel are in the offing, AIPAC and the rest of the Israel lobby also may have noted to its chagrin that inane electoral posturing over Israel has also seeped into the hallowed halls of Congress itself, thereby undermining the bipartisan consensus on Israel it has so laboriously constructed over the years.

According to the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation’s 112th Congressional Report Card, 35 of the 37 Members of Congress rating -5 or worse are Republicans — the only Democrats deserving of the dubious distinction are Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (New York) and Representative Steve Rothman (New Jersey’s ninth Congressional district). This demonstrates that the most significant Congressional initiatives on Israel and the Palestinians last year were largely partisan affairs designed to undermine, constrain and humiliate any White House attempts to pressure Israel, even if only in the slight, ineffectual way that Obama did during the early days of his term (“Report card for the 112th congress (2011-2012)”).

Although the elites of the Democratic and Republican parties are far from rethinking U.S. policy toward Israel, much less even considering abandoning it, the normalization of Israel as a political issue is already commonplace at civil society levels and in political discourse. Exasperated by political leaders seemingly incapable of policy change, dozens of university campuses and community organizations are deriving lessons learned from the global South African anti-apartheid movement to organize boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns against Israel and companies that profit from its human rights abuses of Palestinians. And even in the rarefied pages of The Washington Post, columnist Walter Pincus suggested in October that it is “time to examine the funding the United States provides to Israel” (“Unites States needs to reevaluate its assistance to Israel”).

By continuing to level sophomoric accusations against each other’s mythical abandonment of Israel, the presidential candidates are inadvertently and perhaps counter-intuitively helping to normalize the question of U.S. support for Israel and providing fodder to the strengthening currents in civil society truly questioning failed U.S. policy toward Israel and the Palestinians.

As is the case in all processes of social and political change, this grassroots ferment is a necessary prerequisite for a broad-scale policy change at the political level. Such a policy review, although a long way off as demonstrated by the 2012 election cycle, is nevertheless essential if the U.S. hopes to broker a just and lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of human rights, international law and UN resolutions, rather than continuing to obstruct its attainment.


Josh Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and a former analyst of Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service.


SEE ORIGINAL ARTICLE...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Activists Call on Fashion Icon to Sever Ties with Lev Leviev

In November, US Campaign coalition member groups Adalah-NY, CODEPINK, and Jewish Voice for Peace, along with human rights organizations in the UK, called on fashion icon Daphne Guinness and Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) to sever ties with Israeli settlement builder and conflict diamond purveyor Lev Leviev. Leviev is a principal sponsor of Ms. Guinness’s current fashion exhibition at FIT.

In an open letter to Guinness and FIT, the groups detailed Leviev’s sordid complicity in a multitude of human rights abuses that have led a number organizations and governments to distance themselves from Leviev’s companies. Citing Guinness’s own humanitarian work, the groups implored Guinness to sever all ties with Leviev:

We recognize your strong commitment to supporting women’s rights around the world, to countering AIDS in Africa and to helping the needy in places like Haiti. Therefore, like the organizations, governments and individuals who have sought distance from Leviev, we feel confident that you do not wish to tarnish your name and good works by associating yourself with Leviev’s companies’ human rights violations and questionable business practices. Leviev’s companies undermine the very rights and humanitarian causes that you support. Therefore, we call on you to act swiftly to sever all ties between the exhibit at FIT that bears your name, and Lev Leviev.
Representatives of Guinness and FIT have responded by saying they are taking the groups’ concerns into account, but have thus far failed to elaborate a further course of action. The petition calling on Guinness and FIT to sever ties with Leviev has generated a fair amount of negative publicity for all involved. Online stories detailing Leviev’s sponsorship of the exhibition have been featured on prominent sites like New York magazine, Vogue UK, and Jezebel, the influential feminist blog. The exhibition runs through January 17th, 2012.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Israel Faces $250 Million Slash in Aid


By Nathan Guttman
December 02, 2011
Jewish Daily Forward

WASHINGTON — The failure of the supercommittee appointed by Congress to reach a deficit-reduction deal on the federal budget could cost Israel a cool $250 million a year.

For the first time in decades, Israel could be facing a reduction in United States aid, due to automatic across-the-board budget cuts scheduled to take effect in January 2013 as a result of the supercommittee’s failure.

Despite this dire forecast, Israel’s strongest defender in Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has yet to publicly speak out against the cuts. Sources say that the Israel advocacy lobby may fear a backlash if Israel is singled out for special treatment in the face of broad cuts favored by both Democrats and Republicans.

The November 21 announcement by members of the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction that they had failed to reach agreement on a plan to cut the national debt by $1.5 trillion over the next decade set in motion an automatic process called sequestration.

It requires Congress to make cuts, divided equally between defense and nondefense spending, in order to reach the required debt reduction.

In practice, this means an estimated 8% to 9% cut in all government budget items, except some social safety net programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Cuts are scheduled to kick in during January 2013 and will be in place for nine years. Government agencies will not have discretion over where to impose the cuts, and all programs will be subject to an equal budget reduction.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by Israel and the United States, Israel is scheduled to receive $3.1 billion in Foreign Military Financing in fiscal 2013. The financing is used primarily for the purchase of American-made defense systems. The MOU is subject to congressional appropriation, meaning that it would be overruled by the across-the-board cuts.

Although the aid is used for military needs, it comes under the State Department budget and is therefore seen as a nondefense-spending program under the sequestration rules. According to current estimates, Israel faces a cut of roughly $250 million a year beginning in 2013 and continuing at the same level until 2021.

Supporting aid to Israel has been a cornerstone of the pro-Israel community in the United States for decades. Spearheading the effort is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which has cultivated throughout the years a close relationship with key lawmakers involved in the appropriation process.

The lobbying of AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups has ensured that aid to Israel is safe even in times of austerity and that Israel receives preferred terms, such as early disbursement of the annual aid and the right to spend nearly a quarter of the money on local defense products.

In advocating for aid to Israel, AIPAC has been stressing the importance of Israel as a regional ally and as a strategic asset for America. A memo issued in March by the lobby argued for the need to maintain foreign aid at current levels as a means of helping Israel address increasing threats. AIPAC also pointed to Israel’s need to increase its defense spending because of turmoil in the Middle East and the growth of neighboring countries’ military investments.

The lobby, however, has yet to issue any memo or talking points regarding the looming sequestration and its potential impact on American aid to Israel. In part, this reflects the problem facing supporters of Israel as they experience the challenge of across-the-board cuts.

Singling out Israel as being immune to any cuts at a time when all other government programs will face painful cuts may be useless at best, or even counterproductive.

History says it will be difficult if not impossible to prevent the cuts. The 1985 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget Act required all government agencies to cut spending in order to meet the goal of a balanced budget. As a result, aid to Israel took a hit, and Israel was forced to return part of the annual assistance.

This example makes clear that little can be done to fight sequestration and that if legislation is not changed, aid to Israel is facing its biggest financial setback ever.

ARTICLE CONTINUES...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

AIPAC Congressional Lobbying Junkets to Israel Illegal, Charges IRS & DOJ Filing

The US Campaign has been mobilizing grassroots support to end these congressional junkets for the past several weeks, through email alerts we distributed on August 9 and August 18, and analysis contributed by our National Advocacy Director, Josh Ruebner, in Foreign Policy in Focus (click here).

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- A complaint filed today with the IRS and Justice Department charges the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF) is a "sham" charitable organization of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The AIEF, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation which reported $26.3 million in 2009 revenue, is housed in the same facilities as AIPAC. AIPAC was incorporated as a domestic lobby in 1963 by a former Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs employee, six weeks after the Justice Department ordered its parent organization, the American Zionist Council, to begin registering as an Israeli foreign agent.

AIEF recently paid expenses for more than 80 members of Congress to travel to Israel during recess, but does not disclose planned activities or educational curriculum. Rabbi Bruce Warshal called AIEF "an amazing organization of which no one has ever heard...It's amazing that someone hasn't filed suit to stop this charade."

According to the 29 page IRmep Center for Policy and Law Enforcement filing, AIEF meets the IRS definition of an AIPAC "sham corporation" because:

AIEF is completely controlled by AIPAC, 66% of AIEF board members are AIPAC directors. 47% of AIPAC's board are also AIEF directors;

AIEF lacks sufficient staff. According to IRS and Congressional Research Service benchmarks, a bona fide educational organization would have at least 271 employees. AIEF has none;

AIEF's "educational" content and audiences are determined by AIPAC lobbying objectives. AIEF has no website. No AIEF funded material is made directly available to the public;

AIEF files deceptive IRS Form 990 reports. Although AIEF has multiple foundation donors such as the Saban Family Foundation ($1 million), The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc. ($150,000) and The Marcus Foundation, Inc. ($500,000), it does not properly and individually report such large donors and amounts on its publicly auditable Schedule B. This deceptive practice was pioneered by AIPAC to hide the narrowing funding base of both organizations.

AIEF makes improper transfers of tax-deductible funds to AIPAC. In 2009, AIEF transferred $13.5 million in tax deductible funding to AIPAC;

AIEF Near East Research merger. Founded in 1957, the Near East Report laundered overseas funding to AIPAC's founder to publish disinformation about Israeli nuclear weapons and US peace initiatives.

This IRmep Center for Policy and Law Enforcement filing, which urges revocation retroactive to 1990, is available at: http://irmep.org/09092011AIEF.pdf .

SOURCE Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Peaceful CODEPINK Demonstrator Files Suit Against Netanyahu's Supporters


Getty Photo / AP: CODEPINK activist Rae Abileah
protesting PM Netanyahu's speech at House Gallery


A peaceful demonstrator from CODEPINK - a member group of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation coalition -- files suit against Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's supporters who physically attached her in the House Gallery. 

Rae Abileah, a peaceful demonstrator who was physically attacked and injured on May 24, 2011, while protesting the occupation and oppression of Palestinians during the speech of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, filed a civil action in District of Columbia Superior Court today [ed. August 18, 2011] against the unknown individuals who attacked her in the House Gallery, and caused her serious physical injury.

Ms. Abileah is a 28-year-old American Jew of Israeli descent, who works as the Middle East Campaigns Coordinator for CODEPINK, a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice organization that seeks to end U.S. wars and the U.S. funded occupation of Palestine.  After a security check by the Capitol Police, she was given a seat in the House Gallery, as were other individuals who were given passes by members of Congress for the May 24, 2011 session.  About 10 minutes after Mr. Netanyahu began speaking, Ms. Abileah stood up from her seat in the Gallery and opened a banner that read "Occupying Land is Indefensible," and shouted, "No more occupation.  Stop Israeli war crimes!  Equal rights for Palestinians!  Occupying land is indefensible!"

Four to five other persons sitting in the House Gallery began to attack her, including one man who used his hand to attempt to gag and suffocate Ms. Abileah, and then violently yanked her head back, injuring her neck.  As a result of the attack, Ms. Abileah suffered severe emotional trauma and sustained a neck strain, swollen neck and muscle strain, and has since suffered from frequent headaches.

The Capitol Police, who witnessed the attack, have begun an investigation into her assault.  One of the police officers present during the attack told Ms. Abileah that it was clear that some of the people present had "roughed [her] up."

"I am hopeful that my filing suit will be a clear signal to those who attempt to silence us from protesting the Israeli occupation of Palestine, that they will be held accountable for their illegal actions," said Ms. Abileah.

"Ms. Abileah's actions were in a long line of peaceful actions intended to bring public attention to grave injustice.  The violence against Ms. Abileah mirrors the ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine against peaceful demonstrators," said Lynne Bernabei, one of Ms. Abileah's attorneys. 

Click here to view the full press release.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. Feels the Heat for AIPAC Trip

In today's Chicago Tribune, US Campaign Advisory Board member Professor Rashid Khalidi pens a devastating critique of Representative Jesse Jackson's Jr.'s decision to go on an AIPAC-sponsored trip to Israel earlier this month, and rebuts his subsequent op-ed in the Jerusalem Post, in which a paternalistic Jackson urged Palestinians to adopt non-violence.

Khalidi schools Jackson that "hundreds of unarmed activists acting in the spirit of the U.S. civil rights movement, and who proudly claim to be inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, have been arrested without charge. Hundreds more have been injured or killed by rubber bullets and high-velocity tear gas canisters."

This op-ed follows an article written by National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner similarly taking Jackson to task.

Help us keep up the pressure on Jackson and other Members of Congress who went on AIPAC trips by taking action.

Read Prof. Khalidi's full article here.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A letter to Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., about congressional trips to Israel

This letter to Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., was submitted by Jack Dresser, Co-Director of Al-Nakba Awareness Project, a coalition member of the US Campaign located in Eugene, Oregon. On August 9 the US Campaign asked all member groups and supporters to write and call their U.S. Representatives and "name and shame" the ones who are going on AIPAC-led trips to Israel during the August congressional recess.


August 16, 2010
The Honorable Jesse L. Jackson, Jr.
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. Jackson:

I am not your constituent, but in your position on the appropriations subcommittee that approves aid to Israel, you represent me as a U.S. citizen and taxpayer.  It is commendable that you wish to learn more about the situation in the Holy Land in order to responsibly discharge your duties.

However, an AIPAC sponsored pro-Israel indoctrination trip that predictably presents Jews and Israelis interchangeably as victims while minimizing or ignoring the widespread, methodical, well documented and often brutal violations of the most basic human rights of Palestinians will hardly provide you the comprehensive understanding appropriate and necessary for your Congressional responsibilities. I believe that your position requires full awareness of the serious violations of international law inflicted by Israeli policies of occupation and U.S. support for these.

On your trip I doubt you were invited to visit Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (www.adalah.org) to learn about the apartheid legal and institutional systems within Israel that deny a wide range of basic rights to non-Jews including arcane marriage laws, property ownership restrictions, employment limitations, reduced access to public services, separate citizenship status, and the world’s only segregated school system like those of the pre-1954 American South.  Both Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu have identified Israeli policies as “apartheid,” and UCLA professor Saree Makdisi has shown how Israeli apartheid is far worse than was its South African counterpart.

You were no doubt introduced to a Fatah/Palestinian Authority official who represents less than half the Palestinians under Israel’s occupation and blockade, none of the 20% Palestinian Arab minority population of Israel, none of the Palestinians in refugee camps outside the West Bank, and none of the 4+ million Palestinian diaspora members with UN-registered land claims against Israel who hold the right of return under international law.

But I doubt you were introduced to American-Israeli anthropologist Jeff Halper who directs the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (www.icahd.org) and could have taught you about the 25,000 Palestinian homes illegally bulldozed by Israel as well as Israel’s systematic “matrix of control” through which it dominates the entire West Bank and its aquifers in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Of course Israel’s armored D9 Caterpillar bulldozers used to illegally destroy Palestinian properties are part of the military equipment supplied by the U.S.

We also provided the F-16s, Apache and Cobra attack helicopters, hellfire missiles, corvette naval vessels, bunker buster bombs, depleted uranium and white phosphorous munitions, and numerous other weapons used to commit war crimes in Operation Cast Lead and the Mavi Marmara massacre. The latter attack killed an American citizen while abducting, robbing and imprisoning many others with neither condemnation nor sanctions by the U.S. Congress or Administration.

And we provide the M16s used by Israeli snipers to murder Palestinian children. The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem - which I doubt you were invited to visit - has kept records of these children’s deaths since September 2000 which can be reviewed at www.rememberthesechildren.com.

After reviewing these records, please consider this irony. Palestinians are killed by Israelis in numbers far greater than Israelis killed by Palestinians (e.g., in Operation Cast Lead 1,400 Palestinians vs. eight Israelis were killed). In a Congress free of racism and aware of these facts there would predictably be far greater concern about Palestinian than Israeli victims. Yet not only is the opposite true, but there seems to be no Congressional concern at all for the maiming and killing of thousands of Palestinians non-violently resisting occupation including many hundreds of Palestinian children.

You may have been shown the bright new Ramallah mall, an attempt by Israel to substitute economic upgrades for political rights - in effect, a fresh coat of paint on the prison walls. I’m sure you remember that a well-developed Black middle class with Black universities and Black professionals lived in the Jim Crow South, but this was not acceptable as a substitute for civil rights.  Leaders of the civil rights movement including Dr. King were members of this well-educated Black professional class who demanded freedom, justice and equality, not better shopping centers.

But I doubt you were invited to visit Addameer, the Palestinian Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association in the West Bank (www.addameer.info), to learn about Israel’s policy of arresting and torturing non-violent opposition leaders, with a population of 8,000-10,000 Palestinian political prisoners. This resembles the Jim Crow practice of arresting Blacks on gratuitous charges when free labor was needed for such civic projects as levee repair. Some 40% of all Palestinian males have been imprisoned at some time by Israel, not unlike the incarceration rates of Black males in our inner cities imprisoned largely for participating in the only local economy available to them.

I doubt you were invited to attend a weekly demonstration against the Wall (declared illegal by the International Court of Justice) at Bil’in or to meet protest organizer Abdullah Abu Rahma, steadfast over several years, who was imprisoned by Israel for possessing Israeli weapons after he arranged a display of spent Israeli tear gas canisters and shell casings that had been fired at demonstrating Palestinians.

I doubt you were invited to meet the Christian Peacemaker teams of at-Tuwani who escort Palestinian children to school to protect them from Israeli settler attacks.

These human rights violations, committed by misuse of our military aid, disqualify Israel for receipt of U.S. weapons and financial aid under the Arms Export Control Act and Foreign Assistance Act.

The long, sad, misrepresented history has been exposed by Israeli historians Ilan Pappe, Avi Shlaim, Tom Segev, Shlomo Sand, and even militantly pro-Israel Benny Morris. Please read their accounts based on declassified Israeli archives and other original sources, reports by independent professional journalists such as Robert Fisk and Alan Hart, legal viewpoints of international attorneys Richard Falk and Francis Boyle, over 100 United Nations resolutions censuring Israel, and reports from Amnesty International, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (www.pchrgaza.org).

These resources will inform you far more honestly, reliably, comprehensively and less expensively than the AIPAC-sponsored junket which - in addition to advancing a deliberately deceptive viewpoint - probably violated the travel provisions of the gift rule issued by the House Committee on Ethics.

One last thought. As many of your constituents lose their homes through foreclosure or eviction, how do you imagine they feel about use of their tax dollars for expulsion of Palestinians from their homes by the U.S.-supported Israeli military occupation force using U.S.-supplied weapons?

Sincerely,
Jack Dresser, Ph.D.



Mr. Dresser is a behavioral research scientist and National Vice Chair of the Palestine Working Group of Veterans for Peace, and he co-directs Al-Nakba Awareness Project in Eugene, Oregon.