Showing posts with label Gaza. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gaza. Show all posts

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Gaza One Year Later: The Quest for Accountability

On July 29, 2015, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation hosted a Congressional briefing to examine Israel's misuse of U.S.-supplied weapons in Gaza and call on lawmakers to hold Israel accountable for its violations of U.S. and international law. A full description of the briefing can be found below the videos.

Click below to view a full video of the briefing: 



Below are the individual testimonies from the briefing:


Part 1 - Josh Ruebner, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation



Part 2 - Eman Mohammed, Gaza Photojournalist




Part 3 - Brad Parker, Defense for Children International Palestine




Part 4 - Nadia Ben-Youssef, Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel




Part 5 - Josh Ruebner, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation



Part 6 - Raed Jarrar, American Friends Service Committee



Gaza One Year Later:
The Quest for Accountability


121 Cannon House Office Building,
27 Independence Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003

Wednesday, July 29 at 12:00 PM

One year has passed since “Operation Protective Edge”, Israel’s attack on the Palestinian Gaza Strip which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians and devastated its infrastructure. Today Gaza remains under Israeli blockade, unreconstructed, and teetering on the verge of humanitarian catastrophe.  Join us for this discussion on Israel’s failure to hold itself accountable through domestic judicial proceedings, and the options and need for the United States and the international community to do so.

Featuring:

Nadia Ben-Youssef, USA Representative, Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

Eman Mohammed, Gaza photojournalist; contributor, Gaza Unsilenced

Brad Parker, International Advocacy Officer, Defense for Children International Palestine

Moderated by: Josh Ruebner, Policy Director, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Sponsored by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. Cosponsored by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Friends Service Committee, American Muslims for Palestine, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Jewish Voice for Peace, Just World Books, Middle East Children's Alliance, United Methodist Kairos Response, US Palestinian Community Network.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

U.S. Complicity in Israel's Deadly Actions in Gaza

Our National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner published this piece in The Huffington Post. 

On November 18, an Israeli air force pilot flying a
U.S.-made F-16 fighter jet fired a missile at the four-story home of the al-Dalu family in Gaza City, killing ten members of the family and two from the al-Muzannar family next door. 

An on-site investigation conducted by
Human Rights Watch concluded that the attack was a "clear violation of the laws of war" and demanded that those "responsible for deliberately or recklessly committing a serious violation of the laws of war should be prosecuted for war crimes."


Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Israel's bombing of the al-Dalu home was the single deadliest attack in an eight-day offensive last month against the blockaded and occupied Palestinian Gaza Strip that killed at least 160 Palestinians, of whom 105 were civilians and 34 children, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

Two weeks ago, on International Human Rights Day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the United States works to advance "the universal freedoms enshrined" in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes the "right to life, liberty and security of person." "When governments seek to deny these liberties through repressive laws and blunt force," she intoned, "we stand against this oppression and with people around the world as they defend their rights."

Yet, when it comes to U.S. policy toward Palestinians, this rhetoric rings hollow. The United States arms Israel to the teeth, fails to uphold U.S. human rights laws when Israel uses U.S. weapons to commit abuses of Palestinians and, up to this point, has thrown around its diplomatic heft in international forums to shield Israel from the war crimes prosecutions advocated for by Human Rights Watch and others. 

Israel's recent killing of members of the al-Dalu and al-Muzannar families is a tragic reminder of why 15 leading church figures sent Congress a
letter in October arguing that "unconditional U.S. military assistance to Israel" plays a role in "sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians." These church leaders urged Congress to hold hearings into Israel's violations of the Arms Export Control Act, which limits the use of U.S. weapons to "internal security" and "legitimate self-defense," and to examine Israel's eligibility for any form of U.S. assistance, given that the Foreign Assistance Act prohibits U.S. aid to countries that engage in a consistent pattern of human rights violations. 

Such a reevaluation of U.S. military aid to Israel, which is
scheduled to amount to $30 billion from 2009 to 2018, is desperately needed. Israel is by far and away the largest recipient of U.S. taxpayer-funded military aid and it is patently obvious that these U.S. weapons are being used by Israel to commit systematic human rights abuses against Palestinians. For example, the fighter jet whose missile devastated the al-Dalu and al-Muzannar families very well may have been one of the 93 F-16D fighter jets, valued at $2.5 billion, which U.S. taxpayers financed and transferred to Israel in the previous decade. 

However, far from examining Israel's misuse of U.S. weapons in its most recent attack on Gaza, much less holding it accountable, the Obama administration is moving forward with a proposed weapons deal that would replenish Israel's arsenal. While Clinton offered platitudes about standing against aggression on International Human Rights Day, the
Pentagon was busy that same day notifying Congress that it hopes to ship to Israel 6,900 Joint Direct Attack Munitions tail kits, which "convert free-fall bombs into satellite-guided ordnance," and more than 10,000 bombs to accompany them. 

On previous occasions when the international community attempted to hold Israel accountable for its war crimes -- most notably with the "Goldstone Report" issued after Israel's "Operation Cast Lead" killed more than 1,400 Palestinians in 2008 and 2009, and after Israel killed nine humanitarian activists in international waters who were attempting to deliver goods to Gaza in 2010 -- heavy-handed U.S. diplomatic pressure and its threatened Security Council veto prevented effective action being taken. 

But now that the United Nations General Assembly has voted to make Palestine a "non-member observer state," potentially clearing the way for it to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), Israel may no longer be able to rely on U.S. protection. And as long as the United States refuses to hold Israel accountable for committing human rights abuses of Palestinians with U.S. weapons and keeps the spigot of weapons open, Palestinians should seek redress at the ICC for Israel's war crimes. Due to ongoing U.S. funding for Israel's oppression of Palestinians, it is the only route for families such as the al-Dalu and al-Muzanner to take to receive a modicum of justice.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Submit Your Song for Gaza's Ark!

From our member group 14 Friends of Palestine- Marin. You can follow the initiative @GazaArk





Gaza’s Ark is having a song contest! Submit your songs by February 1, 2013! 

We are seeking original songs to use to promote Gaza's Ark, which seeks to sail from Palestine to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza. Whereas previous attempts to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza have been made by trying to sail boats from international waters into Gaza, Gaza’s Ark will try to break the blockade from the inside out, carrying goods to export. A boat will be refurbished by Palestinian shipbuilders in Gaza and stocked with Palestinian goods and products, then sail through international waters with both Palestinians and internationals on board. 

The goal is to challenge the ongoing, illegal Israeli blockade and focus worldwide attention on the situation in Gaza and the complicity of the governments that support it or look the other way. You can find more information at http://www.gazaark.org/


Feel free to let your creative genes go wild! 
The winning song will be used as the Gaza’s Ark theme song, and be promoted widely by the project.

Submitting the song to this address
14friendsofpalestine@gmail.com will also verify that you have reviewed and agree with the “need to know” items below.

Need to know:


-All entries submitted must be original songs and shall not infringe any copyrights or any other rights of any third parties.


-Entries will be screened by the Gaza’s Ark steering committee who will select the winner and announce on Valentine’s Day,  February 14, 2013.


-The winners will be notified by email. Winners may be required to sign a form confirming that winner's song is original.


-By submitting the song, the entrant retains all ownership rights of the song and agrees that if selected the winner, Gaza’s Ark shall have the right to use the song to promote Gaza’s Ark.

Friday, November 16, 2012

As Children Killed, Israel Supporters Celebrate

Last night a march from the State Department to the White House organized by Palestinian activists to demand Obama pressure Israel to implement an immediate ceasefire and end US military aid was greeted by a group of Israel supporters singing and dancing. Watch what our National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner had to say to this celebration of death. 


View more videos at: http://nbcwashington.com.

Want to do something for Gaza? Join a protest in your city and then organize a boycott SodaStream action on Black Friday! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Israeli Soldier Receives 45 Day Sentence in Death of Mother, Daughter in Gaza

Haaretz reported earlier this week the case of Staff Sgt. S of the IDF who had been accused of killing Ria Abu Hajaj, 64, and her daughter Majda, 37, as they were waving a white flag in Gaza during the first day of Israel's Opration Cast Lead. The soldier's lawyers claimed that there was no proven connection between him and the killings and eventually reached a plea bargain with the military advocate general. Staff Sgt S will thus be convicted of the relatively light offense of the illegal use of a weapon and sentenced to a mere 45 days in prison. 

This verdict, in relieving an Israeli soldier of any true responsibility for a heinous war crime, flies in the face of Obama's assertion that Israeli military investigations into their own alleged crimes are sufficient to provide justice.  Indeed, even when an American citizen was killed by the IDF in last year's flotilla raid,
Obama left the investigation into any wrongdoing up to the Israel  and no indictments were brought against Israeli military personnel. 

Perhaps more troubling, Israel's military investigation into the war crimes brought to light by the Goldstone Report has resulted in
a mere three indictments, including that of Staff Sgt S. For example, no legal action has been taken regarding the killing of 21 members of the Samouni family during the invasion. It is clear that the Israeli military has failed to sufficiently investigate accusations of its own wrongdoing, and the global community, including the United States, must apply more pressure to hold Israel legally accountable.  

Further, as Israel has failed to thoroughly investigate and punish its own war crimes, the United States should reconsider its policy of unconditionally arming the Israeli military with over three billion dollars in military aid per year.  It is time that American-bought weapons stop being used to commit crimes against Palestinians and those who stand with them.  Want to find out how much your community sends to buy weapons for the Israeli military?  Check out our military aid database and get involved by telling your representatives to fund community needs instead of Israel's crimes!

IDF soldier sentenced to 45 days for death of mother, daughter in Gaza war

Military advocate general reaches plea bargain in the most significant event mentioned in UN Goldstone Report; Givati soldier was accused of shooting women who raised white flag.

IDF troops operating in Gaza via Getty (Archive)

"A soldier accused of killing two women who waved a white flag during the "Cast Lead" operation in Gaza reached a plea bargain with the military advocate general and will be jailed for 45 days. The agreement will be submitted today to the Jaffa military court, after negotiations between MAG and the soldier's attorneys. The soldier, Staff Sgt. S', from Givati Brigade will be convicted of a relatively light offense - illegal use of weapons..."
Read more here





Friday, April 6, 2012

Eyes in Gaza Tour with Dr. Mads Gilbert

Dr. Mads Gilbert, professor of medicine at the University of North Norway, specializes in anesthesiology and emergency medicine. He provided medical support in Gaza during Israel’s three-week assault in December 2008 and January 2009. Dr. Gilbert describes his experiences in his book, Eyes in Gaza, co-authored with colleague Dr. Erik Fosse. Mads Gilbert recently returned from trips to Beirut, Lebanon (March 2012) and the Gaza Strip (January 2012). 

Gilbert’s US lecture tour will focus on his experiences in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead and in his recent follow-up visit, while providing an up-to-date analysis of the Palestinian crisis in light of current US-Israeli foreign policy in the Middle East.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012: Washington, DC. 8:00-11:00am. National Press Club - the Murrow Room. 529 14th Street NW. Admission free. No tickets required. Contact Jennifer Loewenstein (608) 215-9157.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012: Washington, DC. 3:00-6:00pm. Georgetown University ICC Auditorium followed by reception in CCAS Boardroom (241 ICC). This event has been marked as open to the public. Contact Jennifer Loewenstein (608) 215-9157.

Thursday, April 12, 2012: Madison, Wisconsin. 12:00-1:00pm, WORT 89.9fm Radio: A Public Affair - Interview. Lecture and book sales at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 180 Science Hall 7:00pm. Contact: Max Love (724) 557-6269 or Barb Olson (608) 827-6433.

Friday, April 13 2012: Minneapolis, MN. Lecture at 7:00pm. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church; 2730 E. 31st Street.  Contact Women Against Military Madness (612) 827-5364.

Saturday, April 14, 2012: Minneapolis, MN. Coffee 9:30am & lecture at 10:00am; Hennepin United Methodist Church; 511 Groveland Ave. Contact: Dixie (952) 941-1341.      

Saturday, April 14, 2012: Northfield, MN. Lecture at 7:00pm; St. Olaf’s College; Contact: Jonathan Hill (507) 645-7329.

Monday, April 16, 2012: New Brunswick, NJ. Lecture at 7:00pm at Rutgers University. Busch Campus Center Room 120AB;  604 Bartholomew Road Piscataway, New Jersey 08854. Contact Maryam (917) 297-0478.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012: New York, NY. Lecture at 7:00pm at Hunter College. Contact Maryam (917) 297-0478.

Wednesday, April. 18 2012: Cambridge, MA. Lecture at 6:00pm at Harvard Law School, Austin West. Contact Ellen (781) 396-0684.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On the 9th Anniversary of Rachel's Stand in Gaza

The following is a letter written by Cindy and Craig Corrie. 

Dear Friends,

It has been nine years today since our daughter Rachel was crushed to death under an Israeli driven, U.S. funded and built, Caterpillar D9 bulldozer in Gaza. In March 2003, the news was full of talk of war with Iraq - a preemptive war to protect the west, particularly the U.S. and Israel, from the weapons of mass destruction then alleged to have been amassed by Saddam Hussein. When Rachel traveled to Gaza that year, the world was not watching. According to Human Rights Watch, from September 2000 until September 2004, 1,600 Palestinian homes in the city of Rafah were destroyed by the Israeli military as it occupied the Gaza Strip. One-tenth of the population lost their homes. Rachel chose to be in Gaza when the ground attack against Iraq broke out. She feared an escalation of the violence and a tightening of the isolation against people there, as the world looked to the northeast and watched the carnage in Iraq. It did not happen as immediately as some expected, but with the Israeli military attack on Gaza of November 2008 through January 2009, the violence became overwhelming, and the tightening of the seige initiated in 2006 by Israel to remove Hamas, made the isolation nearly complete.

In 2003, Rachel wrote: "I went to a rally a few days ago in Khan Younis in solidarity with the people of Iraq. Many analogies were made about the continuing suffering of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation and the upcoming occupation of Iraq by the United States - not the war itself - but the certain aftermath of the war. If people aren't already thinking about the consequences of this war for the people of the entire region then I hope they will start."



Now, in 2012, we listen to similar news - calls for bombing Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. The preemptive war has already begun with the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists. Our government tells us sanctions against Iran will pressure their government to abandon any program to develop these weapons, but experience tells us sanctions only increase the defensiveness of repressive regimes and tighten their control over their populations.

The news from our politicians is discouraging and even frightening, but in the meeting places and streets in our communities, we are making the kind of change that Rachel envisioned. It is happening in Olympia with continuing support for the Olympia Food Co-op's boycott of Israeli products until the rights of Palestinians are addressed. Throughout Puget Sound this week, we have successfully challenged efforts by the Israeli government to use members of the Israeli gay community to distract from the continuing oppression of Palestinian people. Churches in our region are conversing about divestment from corporations like Caterpillar Inc. for their refusal to address their continuing participation in human rights abuses and the illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

In 2002, Rachel wrote, "I think it's important for people who oppose war and repression to speak about who we are as a community in addition to speaking about war and racism and injustice. We are not outside. I think it's important that human rights and resistance to oppression be included in the way we define ourselves as a community..."  As the threat of war with Iran, the disintegration of the situation in Afghanistan, and the bombing of Gaza continue, the work we are all doing in our hometowns at the grassroots level is powerful and critical. Today, as we remember Rachel's stand nine years ago, we encourage our friends across the country and world to strengthen your own communities, educate, educate, educate, support each other in taking action, and walk with peace, love, and forgiveness in your hearts as you work for change.


Cindy and Craig Corrie
March 16, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Non-Violent Way to Justice

Cindy & Craig Corrie
Cindy Corrie is president of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, which is a member of the US Campaign's nationwide coalition of more than 380 groups.

Emel, a monthly print publication with 100,000 subscribers in more than 60 countries, describes itself as: "The Muslim lifestyle magazine. Emel is for the reader who wishes to combine an ethical outlook to life with evolving ideas and modern lifestyle."

The mother of a U.S. citizen crushed by an Israeli bulldozer recollects her daughter’s passion for justice. 

By Cindy Corrie
Emel Magazine, December 2011 issue

My daughter Rachel Corrie brought me to the Palestinian/Israeli issue. Ours was a family and community that generally thought about the world and its inhabitants in a loving, curious way. We connected, as comfortable Americans do, through following and discussing the news, attending events, and making donations to support those in third world countries—but there was never any intention of sacrifice. In 2003, Rachel travelled to Gaza to join the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a group of Palestinian and international activists who use non-violent, direct-action methods to confront the Israeli occupation. Why did she go? Rachel was motivated by her family and community experiences, by her questions about US foreign policy that arose after 9/11 shattering our nation’s sense of security and self-satisfaction, and simply by whom she was as a human being.

Once in Gaza, Rachel documented when the Israeli military destroyed Palestinian olive orchards, gardens, and greenhouses and harassed Palestinians at checkpoints. She worked with women and children and planned for a sister-city project to connect people in Rafah with those in Olympia, her hometown. Through phone calls and e-mails, she introduced family and friends to life in Occupied Palestine: “I don’t know if many of the children here have ever existed without tank shell holes in their walls, and the towers of an occupying army surveying them constantly from the near horizons. I think, although I’m not entirely sure, that even the smallest of these children understand that life is not like this everywhere. An eight-year-old was shot and killed by an Israeli tank two days before I got here, and many of the children murmur his name to me —Ali—or point at the posters of him on the walls.”

Rachel stayed with civilian Gazan families whose homes were threatened by widespread military clearing demolitions. On 16th March 2003, while working with seven international activists, she was crushed by a military Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer as she stood to protect a threatened Palestinian home.  The family who owned it watched from inside their garden wall, as the bulldozer approached.

The horror of learning what happened that day is etched in my memory—a searing pain like nothing I had experienced before, and hope never to experience again. The loss is encompassing and forever—and from a parent’s perspective, the price too dear. But there is another cost too much to bear—that of discouraging a child from being all they can be. We are sometimes asked why we did not stop Rachel from going to Gaza. Her father’s response is, “Why weren’t we all there?”

I have connected with families of others lost to the non-violent struggle in Palestine, and to those injured—Palestinians, Israelis and others. Despite the pain, I am struck by their continued conviction about the rightness of the cause, and the methods of resisting. In 2005, Gene Sharp, an expert on non-violent resistance, stated at a Bethlehem conference, “None of this is safe. None of this is easy. But these are the tools for those struggling for liberation and for those of us who work with them.”

With her writings from Gaza, Rachel charted our path: “This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don’t think it’s an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benetar, and have boyfriends and make comics for my co-workers. But I also want this to stop.” In the eight years since Rachel was killed, I have witnessed the injustice in the West Bank and Gaza but, also, the imagination and determination of Palestinian activists—and the resilience of all Palestinians who, despite occupation, act with dignity, and with determination not to be silenced. They continue to ask us to visit, and to stand in solidarity with them in Palestine and back home. Israeli Jewish and Palestinian activists challenge their country’s policies and actions, but tell me they cannot succeed alone. They need the rest of us.

International solidarity can take many forms. We can make the journey to Israel/Palestine in person, through the internet, or by connecting to efforts in our own communities. Whatever the path, we must follow the news, share the stories, be visible, and strategically challenge policies that allow the injustice to continue. Rachel was compelled to live meaningfully. She made the journey to Palestine because (as an American) she felt implicated in Israel’s actions and felt a responsibility to challenge them.

Books of Mahatma Gandhi were on Rachel’s shelves. She knew that suffering and sacrifice in some form is one element of non-violent resistance. She also knew from Gandhi that “a small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” Our actions are cumulative; our numbers are increasing; and our struggle is for our own universal human rights. To achieve and maintain those for everyone, we must continue to stand with the Palestinians.


Cindy Corrie, guest comment writer, is the President of the Rachel Corrie Foundation.

SEE ORIGINAL ARTICLE...

Friday, December 2, 2011

New film by Palestinians living in Gaza shows yearning for a normal life


US To Gaza is a coalition member of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

"Where Should the Birds Fly?" is the story of two women in Gaza - the filmmaker, Fida Qishta, and a young survivor of Operation Cast Lead, Mona al Samouni. Through their eyes, we learn how people live, survive, and dream of a normal life, while facing Israeli attacks.

We are more than halfway to the finish line in raising the money we need to complete "Where Should the Birds Fly?".  Please donate generously and email your friends and lists and urge them to support this project.  You can see a short trailer of the film and make a tax deductible contribution at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1767087449/where-should-the-birds-fly.

It is the first film about Gaza made by Palestinians living in Gaza. It is the story of two young women, survivors of Israel's Operation Cast Lead,  who represent the spirit and future of Palestinians. It is a visual documentation of the Goldstone report. Not all misery and rubble, it reveals strength and hope.

We held a small screening of the film in NYC last week and got a warm, positive reception to the film.  Those watching found it very powerful and moving, as well as a very timely statement in light of Israel's current threats to attack Gaza again.  We must get this film into distribution as soon as possible.

One comment, from an organizer of the US Boat to Gaza, seemed particularly appropriate.  "Our campaign focused a bright spotlight on Israel's illegal occupation of Gaza, but we weren't able to bring our passengers to port in Gaza City.  This film brings the people of Gaza to us and to the rest of the world."

How true.  The film itself breaks Israel's blockade of the hopes and dreams of Palestinians to lead a normal life.  

Supporting "Where Should the Birds Fly?" would be a great gift to a friend.  If you would like to receive one of the premiums offered to supporters in time to give it as a holiday gift, make that request by clicking Contact at the bottom of the kickstarter page and let us know that.  (Otherwise the premiums will be sent out sometime in January.)

Thanks for your support and please pass this on to your friends.

Fida Qishta
Brian Drolet
Felice Gelman

Friday, November 4, 2011

Video from Gaza Flotilla as Israeli Navy Prepares to Intercept Boats

U.S. To Gaza, which participated in the thwarted July 2011 flotilla and helped organize the current mission of the Canadian and Irish ships to Gaza, is a coalition member of the US Campaign.



Two Gaza-bound boats carrying pro-Palestinian activists are within 50 nautical miles of their destination, but reports are emerging that Israeli Navy ships have intercepted the "Freedom Waves to Gaza" flotilla. Communication with the boats has largely been cut off. Prior to losing contact, we received two exclusive video reports from aboard the "Tahrir," the Canadian ship. Speaking to Democracy Now! correspondent Jihan Hafiz last night, passenger Ehab Lotayef said, "We are approaching the 100-nautical-mile point away from Gaza, which is usually the point where Israel declares—starts the blockade ... Will they try to come and board us? All these questions are now at the moment of truth. The major preparation we did is to prepare that we don’t want anybody to act in any violent way or in any way that can even induce violence by the Israelis."

SEE ORIGINAL HERE...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

VIDEO: Aboard the "Freedom Waves to Gaza" flotilla


U.S. To Gaza, which participated in the thwarted July 2011 flotilla and helped organize the current mission of the Canadian and Irish ships to Gaza, is a coalition member of the US Campaign.




A Canadian boat and Irish boat quietly left a Turkish port Wednesday, bound for Gaza. Democracy Now! first broke the news on our live broadcast yesterday. This flotilla, named Freedom Waves to Gaza, marks the latest attempt by international activists to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. The ships are hoping to reach Gaza by Friday, but Israel has threatened to stop the ships. "I anticipate that the Israeli army, probably, the navy, is probably considering boarding us at some point on our way to Gaza and the siege," said passenger Kit Kittredge of the group Code Pink. "I’m not feeling fearful. I’m feeling actually pretty peaceful. And that’s what we are: we are a peaceful boat and a peaceful flotilla going to end the siege." Democracy Now! correspondent Jihan Hafiz filed this video report from the Tahrir boat from international waters and joined us live on the telephone from the ship in international waters.

SEE ORIGINAL POST HERE...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

VIDEO: Voices from the Secret International Flotilla Now Sailing to Gaza


U.S. To Gaza, which participated in the thwarted July 2011 flotilla and helped organize the current mission of the Canadian and Irish ships to Gaza, is a coalition member of the US Campaign.



The Canadian ship Tahrir and the Irish ship Saoirse quietly left a Turkish port earlier today bound for the Gaza Strip. The mission of the "Freedom Waves to Gaza" flotilla was kept secret until they reached international waters just after 11:00 a.m. EDT. Democracy Now! first broke the news on our live broadcast this morning. Embedded on the Tahrir is Democracy Now! correspondent Jihan Hafiz. Prior to the ship setting sail, Hafiz spoke with three of the flotilla participants on board the Tahrir ship: David Heap of the University of Western Ontario; Kit Kittredge of Code Pink; and Michael Coleman, an Australian activist.

More information on the flotilla has been posted on Tahrir.ca

KIT KITTREDGE: I’ve been to Gaza five times in the last three years. The first time was right directly after Operation Cast Lead, when 1,400 Palestinians were brutally murdered. And going there just a few weeks following that onslaught impressed me in a way, in such an atrocious way, and the Palestinian people got to my heart, because they were basically saying, "Tell the world what’s going on. The world doesn’t know. We want peace." And truly, in my five returns there, that is what I’ve seen them working for.

We have to keep this pressure up, because our government is so complicit. And as an American who pays tax dollars, I don’t want my tax dollars going in support of this Israeli policy, this apartheid policy.

MICHAEL COLEMAN: Michael Coleman. I’m the Australian representative on the freedom flotilla. And yeah, there is a sense that this could possibly be déjà vu. I went home from the last flotilla feeling quite frustrated, as the ministerial edict that stopped us sailing to Gaza had no basis in law, and almost felt cheated out of doing the most meaningful thing I had ever set my mind to. And I’m hopeful that that won’t happen again, but if it does, it doesn’t deter my determination.

The aims of the flotilla are twofold. While we do have a small amount of aid on board—and that’s one of the goals, is to take aid to the besieged Strip—but the other is public awareness. And we’re well aware that the small amount of aid we have is tokenistic. It’s not going to prevent the suffering of 1.5 million people. Only governments and international institutions can do that. But we, as private citizens, can pressure governments and international institutions to do what is right.

DAVID HEAP: Coming out of the second freedom flotilla, we’re calling what—the current departure "Freedom Waves to Gaza," because rather than thinking of it as separate, countable waves that you can call one, two and three, we’re really thinking of it more as continuous waves of human solidarity, continuous waves of people intent on challenging the blockade in different ways, coming from different countries, from different ports, different groups of boats, whenever they’re ready to go, to challenge the blockade in a way which is less predictable than an annual flotilla, but also more creative.

SEE ORIGINAL POST...

Today's Gaza Flotilla: Spread the Word!!!


U.S. To Gaza, which participated in the thwarted July 2011 flotilla and helped organize the current mission of the Canadian and Irish ships to Gaza, is a coalition member of the US Campaign.

Israel and the U.S. outsourced the siege of Gaza to Athens last summer by preventing eight boats in the Freedom Flotilla 2-Stay Human from sailing from Greek ports to Gaza. Despite this we were able to bring worldwide attention to the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Our efforts in Greece only fueled our determination to challenge the imprisonment of the people of Gaza. We said we would continue to sail and so we are!!!

At this moment, two boats are in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea heading to Gaza.  One boat, the Saoirse from Ireland, includes parliamentarians among its passengers.  The other, the Tahrir, carries representatives from Canada, the United States, Australia and Palestine.  The U.S. representative on the Tahrir, Kit Kittredge, was a passenger on the U.S. Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope, in Athens in July.  A journalist from Democracy Now is on the Tahrir also. Civil society organizations in Gaza await their arrival, and look forward to the delivery of letters collected from thousands of U.S. supporters in the To Gaza With Love campaign.

We need your help to make this mission a success. Please take these actions immediately.
  1. Check these websites for updates:  U.S. to Gaza, Irish Ship to Gaza and Canadian Boat to Gaza, watch or listen to Democracy Now for live coverage from the Tahrir. Look for twitter hashtag #Freedomwaves.
  2. Spread the word far and wide - send this alert to your contacts.
  3. Call the State Department  and the White House -- demand that they take immediate action to ensure the safe passage of these boats and to put an end to the siege of Gaza.
Call the State Department:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 202-647-5291
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro 011-972-3-519-7575
Office of Israel/Palestinian Affairs Paul Sutphin 202-647-3672
Office of Consular Affairs, Kim Richter 202-647-8308
and the White House: 202-456-1414
Email President Obama at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact
Here are some talking points or suggested messaging:
Gaza has been under siege since mid-2006, depriving 1.6 million people of their liberty and basic human rights.  Although the siege has been condemned by the United Nations, the Red Cross, and many national governments, nothing has been done to ease the plight of these civilians.  Civil society has had to act where governments would not.  Two ships with 27 passengers from five countries are sailing to Gaza to confront the Israeli naval blockade, and to bring medical supplies and letters of support.
As Americans we insist that our government (which sends Israel $3 billion in military aid every year), demands that Israel ensures the ships' safe passage and ends its illegal blockade of Gaza. There is absolutely no excuse to subject 1.6 million people to collective punishment. Ask your local media to cover this story.  Up-to-date information will be available at www.ustogaza.org, www.irishshiptogaza.org and www.tahrir.ca.

WHEN FORWARDING THIS ALERT TO YOUR CONTACTS, PLEASE INCLUDE THE PRESS RELEASE.

Thanks,
Felice Gelman, Jane Hirschmann and Ann Wright

Media Release: Two Boats With Passengers from Five Countries (Including U.S.) Are En Route to Gaza Strip


U.S. To Gaza, which participated in the thwarted July 2011 flotilla and helped organize the current mission of the Canadian and Irish ships to Gaza, is a coalition member of the US Campaign.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 2, 2011

Contact:

In New York: Felice Gelman, 917-912-2597 and 917-679-8343

At sea: phone numbers will be released when you call the above press contact.


Organizers say: "It is time to lift the siege of Gaza which deprives 1.6 million civilians of their rights to travel, work, study, develop their economy and be free."

The Canadian ship Tahrir and the Irish ship Saoirse have successfully reached international waters, initiating the "Freedom Wave to Gaza." The boats have embarked from Turkey and are on the Mediterranean Sea.  In all, the 2 boats carry 27 passengers from Canada, Ireland, United States, Palestine, and Australia.
                               
Kit Kittredge on board the Tahrir was previously a passenger on the U.S. boat, The Audacity of Hope, which attempted passage to Gaza last July, organized by U.S. to Gaza, a coalition member of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

Kittredge said:
"The only obstacles in our way are Israel's military and the complicity of the Obama administration but in our sails is the wind of worldwide public opinion which has turned against the illegal blockade."

Ann Wright, retired U.S. army colonel and former U.S. diplomat said:
"We carry inspiration from the Arab Spring and the worldwide 'Occupy' movements that are demanding freedom and justice. Where governments fail, civil society must act. As Americans we are fed up with our government's unquestioning support of Israel no matter how violent, illegal and  oppressive its actions.  We will not stand by and watch $30 billion of our tax money committed to buying Israel weaponry used to carry out this illegal occupation of Palestine including the blockade of Gaza."

Jane Hirschmann, U.S. Boat organizer, added:
"Our sailing coincides with UN agency UNESCO's recognition of Palestine as a member state, defying US threats to cut off $80 million of US funding in retaliation. This shows the growing strength of opposition by the international community to U.S. and Israeli policies in Palestine. We call on the international community to go further and take effective action to lift the siege of Gaza."

The U.S. Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope, has been held in a Greek port since last July.

###

Thursday, September 15, 2011

An Open Letter from Gaza to Julio Iglesias: Don’t Entertain Apartheid Again!


The following is an excerpt from an open letter composed by the One State Democratic Group urging performer Julio Iglesias to heed the call for a cultural boycott of Israel.
Besieged Gaza,
Occupied Palestine,
13.9.2011
Dear Julio Iglesias,
We, youth and students of the Gaza Ghetto, entrenched and surrounded by Israeli Gunships, Snipers, Jeeps, F16s and Merkava tanks at every turn, are saddened to see that once again, you will entertain an apartheid regime, and ignore the horrors Israel is inflicting on us.
This is not the first time an oppressed group has called on you to heed calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions of apartheid.
Those in the South African apartheid liberation struggle described you then as one to, “have chosen to make profit in a land of exploitation and misery instead of taking a stand on principle and foregoing blood money.”[1]

You performed twice in the infamous Sun City of South Africa in 1983 and 1984. Your claims to have had “a child with a colored woman" and to "sing duet with Diana Ross who is colored"[2] were unacceptable excuses and no similar excuses will see us Palestinians forget your turning your back on our call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of apartheid Israel. By performing in Israel you directly contravene the 2005 Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) [3], that has been heeded by international artists and writers such as Elvis Costello, the Pixies, Carlos Santana, Annie Lennox, Gorillaz, John Berger, Adrienne Rich, Massive Attack, Faithless, Gill Scot-Heron, Devendra Banart, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Meg Ryan, Arundati Roy and many others, who have put equality, anti-racism and the will of the oppressed against the appearance money and adulation. Adulation from, in this case, many young people who have served in the Israeli Occupation Forces that occupy and control us and our land, bomb our  villages and destroy or steal our houses, olive groves and—more importantly—our human dignity.

CONTINUE READING HERE

Monday, July 25, 2011

Video: Josh Ruebner on "Rafah: Crossing Physical and Diplomatic Barriers"

Our National Advocacy Director, Josh Ruebner, participated in the following panel discussion on July 19, 2011, at the Palestine Center (a coalition member of the US Campaign). Following is a 25-minute excerpt showing only Josh's presentation and answers to audience questions. The full-length version is viewable at the Palestine Center.



"Rafah: Crossing Physical and Diplomatic Barriers"
-- with --
Mr. Josh Ruebner
National Advocacy Director, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
-- and --
Mr. Matthew Reynolds
Head Representative, UNRWA, Washington, DC

SEE ORIGINAL POST...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Nadia Hijab on HuffingtonPost: Flotilla said "No to a kinder, gentler siege"

Nadia Hijab
A member of our Advisory Board published the following on the Huffington Post:

By Nadia Hijab
July 4, 2011

It was never about aid.

Freedom Flotilla II is, like its assaulted predecessor of a year ago, a political act. The passengers came together in shared determination to challenge Israel's five-year siege of Gaza and to exercise their right to travel through international waters to Palestinian shores and, by so doing, support the Palestinian right to freedom.

Many have misrepresented this political act as being about aid. If Palestinians had a dollar for every time the State Department bleated, "there are established channels for aid to Gaza," they would never need another donated dime. Instead, because of U.S. policy the highly educated and enterprising Palestinians have been stripped of their dignity and forced to live on international charity.

Israel has never made any secret of its intentions for Gaza. Dov Weisglass, key advisor to former Israeli prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, reportedly explained in the wake of Hamas' electoral victory in 2006, "the idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet but not to make them die of hunger." This was later revealed to be Israeli strategy according to official documents.

ARTICLE CONTINUES...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Col. Pinhas Zuaretz Will Testify on July 10 in Final Hearing in Corrie Trial


The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice is a coalition member of the US Campaign.

Corrie Family and Legal Team to Hold Press Conference Monday, July 11, at American Colony Hotel, Jerusalem

(Haifa, Israel - July 7, 2011) - Former Gaza Division's Southern Brigade Commander, Colonel Pinhas (Pinky) Zuaretz - the final witness in the case - is scheduled to testify Sunday, July 10, in the Corrie civil trial against the State of Israel.

Colonel Zuaretz was the commanding officer of the Israeli military's Gaza Division's Southern Brigade in 2003, when American peace activist Rachel Corrie was killed. Troops under his command were responsible for the actions resulting in her killing. Zuaretz is the highest ranking officer called as a government witness in the civil trial who had command responsibility in Gaza. He is possibly the highest such officer ever to face cross examination in a civil suit regarding the actions of the Israeli military against civilians in Gaza during the second intifada. His testimony is expected to shed light on the Israeli military's failures as an occupying power to protect civilian life and property in the region.

The lawsuit, filed in 2005 by Attorney Hussein abu Hussein, charges the State of Israel with responsibility for killing Rachel in Rafah, Gaza in 2003. Since the trial opened in March 2010, 14 hearings have been held, with over 2000 pages of court transcripts recorded from 22 testimonies - including that of 14 Israeli Military personnel, and four peace activist eye-witnesses with the International Solidarity Movement. Most government witnesses for the State of Israel were identified only by their initials, and many testified while hidden behind a screen. Each hearing was attended by officials from the American Embassy, numerous observers from legal and human rights organizations, and members of the Corrie family.

Craig and Cindy Corrie, Rachel's parents, will hold a press conference on Monday, July 11, at 11:00 AM at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem to discuss the conclusion of this phase of the case, as well as next steps in their efforts to seek accountability for their daughter's killing. They will be joined by their other daughter, Sarah Corrie Simpson and Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein. The press conference will be held in English, with attorneys available at the conclusion for brief interviews in both Arabic and Hebrew.

Court proceedings on Sunday, July 10, will begin at 12:00 noon in the courtroom of Judge Oded Gershon, 6th floor, Haifa District Court, 12 Palyam St., Haifa, Israel.

SEE ORIGINAL AND GET FUTURE UPDATES HERE...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Guardian publishes Cindy Corrie on U.S. complicity in collective punishment


The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice is a coalition member of the US Campaign. The US Boat to Gaza--The Audacity of Hope--is also.

US collusion in the Gaza blockade is an affront to human rights 


My daughter's death shows the cruelty of an America that won't protect its own and is complicit in harming Palestinian civilians

By Cindy Corrie, in The Guardian
July 8, 2011

When Greek authorities prevented the US ship the Audacity of Hope leaving its port in Athens this week, they dealt a blow to a group of brave and principled Americans who were trying to carry thousands of letters from US citizens to those who wait on Gaza's shores.

I know many of the people who were on this boat, and my family's letter was part of their cargo. In 2003 my daughter Rachel Corrie made her journey to Gaza and was run down and killed by a US-made Israeli military Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer. She was trying to protect a Gazan family and their home, one of thousands illegally destroyed in Israeli military clearing operations.
Now my family is on a parallel journey with those activists as we return this week to Israeli court to confront Colonel Pinhas Zuaretz, the commanding officer of the Gaza Division's Southern Brigade in 2003. His testimony should shed light not only on actions of troops responsible for Rachel's killing but also on the Israeli military's broad failures as an occupying power to protect civilian life and property.

ARTICLE CONTINUES...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Flotilla Embodies the Arab Spring Spirit

The Palestine Center and US Boat to Gaza are coalition members of the US Campaign

by Yousef Munayyer, Palestine Center
July 5, 2011

Earlier this year we watched with amazement as hundreds of thousands of Arabs charged into the streets of their cities demanding reform. The uprisings led to the departure of several leaders who had ruled for decades and also tested (and continue to test) several others.


But what led to this outpouring is much the same as the motivation behind the flotilla initiative which seeks to challenge the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.


When fundamentally unjust situations are left unaddressed by states, the people must step in. That is precisely what happened in Tahrir square when hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Egyptians lost all faith in the government's ability to reform.


That is also precisely what drives the flotilla and the activists aboard it. They have watched as the collective punishment of 1.5 million civilians lingers with no objections coming from states that can change the situation. In fact, the siege of Gaza has been supported by Israel, the United States and Mubarak's Egypt (though post-Mubarak Egypt promises to be different).

The blockade of Gaza is just one part of a multilayered siege on the Gaza Strip. The layers include control of land entry and exit points for commercial and humanitarian goods, control over the amount of electricity and water available to the people of Gaza, control of the air and sea lanes, and so on.

ARTICLE CONTINUES