Showing posts with label Israeli policy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Israeli policy. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Josh Ruebner's "Shattered Hopes" Book Tour Comes to Kansas and Missouri, Feb. 27- Mar. 2

Last fall, Josh Ruebner, our National Advocacy Director, shared the exciting news of the publication of his first book, Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace.

We are excited to announce that he will be visiting Kansas and Missouri from February 27-March 2. We hope that you can join him at one or more of the four events he'll be doing in Kansas and Missouri -- at University of Kansas, Watermark Books in Wichita, Keystone United Methodist Church in Kansas City, and an event in private home in Fairway, Kansas.

Below is a flyer for the events. Click here for the PDF version.


RSVP and invite your friends on Facebook to the events at University of Kansas here, Watermark Books here, and Keystone United Methodist Church here. To RSVP for the private home event, email whitmoreandy@hotmail.comAnd for additional information on Josh's spring book tour, see his website here. We look forward to seeing you there!

--Ntebo Mokuena, U.S. Campaign Intern


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Israel's War on Christmas

Foreign Policy published a piece earlier this week about "The World War on Christmas" describing "five places where Santa really does have to watch his back." The countries highlighted were Uzbekistan, North Korea, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Cuba for their hostility towards various symbols of Christmas. 

One very obvious country missing from this list is Israel. In his Christmas message, PM Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed: "Today Christian communities around the Middle East are shrinking and in danger. This is of course not true in Israel. Here there’s a strong, growing Christian community that participates fully in the life of our country." 

Palestinian Christians living under under Israeli occupation and apartheid would choose to describe their plight differently. In his piece "Israel's colonial strangling of Bethlehem," Ben White highlights the many challenges this Palestinian city faces developing its tourist dependent economy due to the occupation, including more 30 physical barriers to Palestinian freedom of movement imposed by the Israeli military. In their 2012 Christmas message, members of Kairos Palestine wrote: 
Palestinian Christians are concentrated in an area referred to as the Christian triangle: Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour. This area is being strangled - in terms of access to land, water, health services, education, general mobility, and all related rights -by the unabated wave of settlement construction. Moreover, the forcible isolation of the triangle with its center, Jerusalem, is damaging both to people in Jerusalem and in the Bethlehem area.
Palestinian Christians living within Israel are also victims. Students at Safad Academic College in the Galilee had their Christmas tree taken down because it may spark riots among Jewish students. The ban on Christmas trees from all public buildings in Upper Nazareth continues, and rabbis have issued reminders to hotels and halls: "It is a seriously forbidden to hold any event at the end of the calendar year that is connected with or displays anything from the non-Jewish festivals.”

Sorry Netanyahu, but Israel's "record of religious tolerance and pluralism" makes it more like the five countries waging war on Santa Claus than one that truly respects freedom of religion for all.   

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

So Apparently There is No Occupation...

We at the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation work to end U.S. support for Israel's 45-year occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. But according to a recent Israeli panel, we, and the international community, seem to have it all wrong.

"Dad, what's beyond that wall?" "I don't see any wall, dear son"
"Come on, it's right there" "Just shut up" (Amir Schiby)
An Israeli government-appointed commission of jurists said Monday that Israel’s presence in the West Bank was not occupation and recommended that the state approve scores of unauthorized Jewish settlement outposts there.
"The classical laws of 'occupation' as set out in the relevant international conventions cannot be considered applicable to the unique and sui generis historic and legal circumstances of Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria spanning over decades," the report stated, leading to the conclusion that "according to international law, Israelis have the legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria."
Perhaps to make it very clear how unconcerned the commission was with the reaction of the international community, the report was published on the anniversary of the July 9, 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, which determined that Israel’s construction of the wall deep into the West Bank violated international law. 

Of course who can blame the Israeli government for thinking it can flout international law without consequence? The commission's recommendation to legalize settlements goes against decades of
stated U.S. opposition to settlements. Since 1967 every U.S. administration has upheld the illegality of Israel's settlements, decried them as obstacles to peace, and urged Israel to not expand them. Yet for some reason the United States continues to send Israel billions of dollars in military aid as well as protect Israel from censure at the United Nations. 

When the issue was brought up at yesterday State Department
daily press briefing, the usual "concern" was shown. 
QUESTION: Just also on this topic, there’s an Israeli Government appointed committee which was looking into - was asked to look into the legality of the settlements and has come forth with a ruling saying that they believe that essentially these settlements should be authorized, which is the Prime Minister’s position. The Israeli Government hasn’t accepted this ruling yet, but that sort of stands ready to be accepted. Do you guys take any view on this sort of creeping legalization of the settlement process? And is this useful at this point ahead of Deputy Secretary Burns and the Secretary’s trip to Israel? Is this the kind of thing that you like to see happening? 
MR. VENTRELL: Well, I mean, Andy, you know where we are on - the U.S. position on settlements is clear. Obviously, we’ve seen the reports that an Israeli Government appointed panel has recommended legalizing dozens of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts.
QUESTION: So you would be - you would urge the Government of Israel not to accept this panel’s recommendation?
MR. VENTRELL: Well, again, my understanding is this is still - I’m not sure if this is in a draft form, but this is just a panel recommendation at this point.
QUESTION: And the Israeli Government can either accept it or not accept it. What do --
MR. VENTRELL: You know where the U.S. position is, which I just read out. So --
QUESTION: Is that going to be something that Deputy Burns brings up when he’s in Israel?
MR. VENTRELL: I’m not sure. I can’t read out his meetings in advance. But --
QUESTION: Understand. But you don’t think this rises to the level of a senior official discussing it with the Israeli --
MR. VENTRELL: Again, I don’t want to read out his meetings in advance. Let’s --
QUESTION: Well, is it something that you can say that you’re sufficiently concerned about that --
MR. VENTRELL: We’re concerned about it, obviously. The Deputy Secretary will be en route, and let’s see how his meetings go and see if we can report back to you when they’re over.
QUESTION: All right.
MR. VENTRELL: Said.
QUESTION: A quick follow-up on this. When you express your concern, is it just done from this podium, or is it done officially? Does someone pick up the phone and talk to someone in the Israeli Government and say we express displeasure?
MR. VENTRELL: I don’t know if we have raised this directly with the Israeli Government. I just read out our position here from the podium. I can check and see if our Embassy has raised it.
The Israeli government may claim that there is no occupation, but there are millions of Palestinians suffering daily under Israeli military rule and it is U.S. money that funds their oppression. 
You see? I told you there's no occupation!
You can help end harmful U.S. policies by joining us at our 11th Annual National Organizers' Conference September 21-23, signing up to organize opposition to military aid for Israel, or supporting our work. 

You can find more "nonexistent occupation" memes here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Are you Jewish?"

Sandra Tamari is active with US Campaign member group St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee

Deportation shows Israel's intolerance


"Are you Jewish?" is the first question the U.S. Embassy staffer asked me on the phone while I sat in Israeli detention at the airport in Tel Aviv. When I responded that I was a Palestinian born in the United States, he said he could do nothing for me. Consequently, I endured eight hours of interrogation by Israeli authorities. When I would not grant them access to my email account, I was accused of being a terrorist. The heavy-handed treatment resulted from my participation in an interfaith delegation to listen to Palestinians and Israelis working for peace.


Israel decided to deport me and deny my participation in this project, deeming me a "security risk." I spent the night in prison and then was put on a flight home the next day.


The interrogators were especially interested in my activism. They had "googled" me and knew that I was involved in urging the Methodist Church to vote to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation. I publicly advocated for divestment as a nonviolent measure to end the occupation. I attended the Methodist General Conference in Tampa and spoke to many about how my Christian Palestinian family is denied residency in the West Bank and how Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim, were suffering under occupation. Israel's discriminatory policies have affected my family before. In 1966, my father came to the United States for work. Soon after, Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. Israel conducted a census of residents of the Occupied Territories in 1967 to create a population registry. Human Rights Watch estimates that at least 270,000 Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories before the war were absent during the census for study, work or because they fled the conflict. Many Palestinians, including my father, were denied their right to regain residency status. When my father returns to visit his family, he must do so on a tourist visa granted at Israel's discretion.


The U.S. Congress has done nothing to tell Israel that this is an outrage. Instead, they go along with AIPAC in giving Israel over $3 billion in military aid per year to further dispossess Palestinians.


Continue Reading at Belleville News-Democrat
 

Help Sandra deliver
20,000 signatures to the State Department demanding that the United States put an end to systematic discrimination against U.S. citizens by it and Israel
.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Report Denounces Weapons to Israel as AIPAC Assembles

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 5, 2012

Contact:
Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director
congress@endtheooccuption.org

Washington, DC (Monday, March 5) -- As members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) prepare to lobby tomorrow on Capitol Hill for more U.S. weapons for Israel, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation will launch its first policy paper, which calls for the United States to end military aid to Israel. The report release comes after President Barack Obama stated yesterday at AIPAC's policy conference that "Despite a tough budget environment, our security assistance [to Israel] has increased every single year."

"U.S. Military Aid to Israel: Policy Implications & Options," establishes the legal, political, economic, strategic and human rights rationale for ending $30 billion of U.S. taxpayer-financed weapons transfers to Israel from 2009 to 2018. The 40-page paper can be downloaded at:

http://aidtoisrael.org/policypaper

The US Campaign will present the policy paper at a briefing on Tuesday, March 6, 12:30-2:00pm, at the Palestine Center, 2425 Virginia Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20037. For additional details and to RSVP, please click here. Printed copies of the policy paper will be distributed at the briefing.

The briefing culminates the five-day series of events, "Occupy AIPAC."

National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner, who authored the paper, stated:
"U.S. military aid to Israel is a policy that is running on autopilot and must be reconsidered. U.S. weapons provided to Israel at taxpayer expense make us complicit in Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians living under Israel’s 44-year military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip and defeat U.S. foreign policy objectives of halting Israeli settlement expansion, ending Israeli military occupation, and establishing a just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace."
The policy paper highlights the following facts, among others:
From 2000 to 2009, the United States appropriated $24.1 billion of military aid to Israel, transferring more than 670 million weapons, rounds of ammunition, and related equipment.

From 2000 to 2009, Israel killed at least 2,969 unarmed Palestinians, including 1,128 children, often with U.S. weapons in violation of the Foreign Assistance Act and Arms Export Control Act.

From 2009 to 2018, the United States is scheduled to give Israel $30 billion in military aid, a 25 percent annual average increase over previous levels of military aid, despite its negative political and strategic ramifications.

From the Eisenhower to Bush, Sr. Administrations, at least 10 times the United States conditioned aid to Israel, threatened to cut off aid to Israel, or sanctioned Israel for violating U.S. laws and/or working against foreign policy objectives.

Since 2000, Members of Congress and/or the State Department have investigated or requested investigations into Israel’s potential misuse of U.S. weapons at least five times; however, no public action has been taken to hold Israel accountable for its violations of U.S. laws.

With the same amount of money that the United States gives each year to fund weapons for Israel, the federal government could instead fund affordable housing vouchers for 350,000 low-income families, or green jobs training for 500,000 unemployed workers, or early reading programs for 900,000 at-risk students, or primary health care to 24 million people without insurance.
The policy paper concludes with specific policy recommendations for the President and Congress to ensure that any money appropriated in the future for additional weapons to Israel are not misused to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians, but to further U.S. foreign policy objectives.

###

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Weapons maker target of area protest


Below a newspaper in Meadville, PA, covers Monday's protest against Combined Systems, Inc., which manufactures the tear gas projectiles illegally used by the Israeli military to injure and kill Palestinian demonstrators. As we posted yesterday, US Campaign member group Adalah-NY discovered important details on shipments of U.S. tear gas to Israel linked to the injury and killing of both Palestinians and U.S. citizens in this article. To organize with us to end military aid to Israel, sign up here!

By Keith Gushard
January 16, 2012
Meadville Tribune

JAMESTOWN, PA — “Silence is betrayal,” “End chemical warfare,” “Democracy for all” and “Honor Dr. King and the right to protest oppression” were just some of the signs carried by protesters.

Why about two dozen people chose to march two miles on a cold Monday morning from downtown Jamestown into rural Mercer County was straight-forward, according to Werner Lange of the Coalition for Peace in the Middle East.

 “We’re here to try to put an end to one of the major weapons manufacturers whose products have killed countless people,” said Lange, who also is a professor of sociology at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. “It’s time to put a spotlight on it.”

The protesters picketed peacefully Monday in front of Combined Systems Inc. of Jamestown, a maker of tear gas, smoke munitions, other non-lethal and lethal munitions and crowd-control devices. The company’s production complex is located two miles west of the borough on Route 58.

The company’s security director said Monday that company officials were out of town and would have no comment on the protest. Messages left for company officials by the Tribune on Friday and Monday did not get a response.

ARTICLE CONTINUES...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Obama's Real Israel Problem

Bennis
US Campaign Steering Committee member Phyllis Bennis published a strong piece in the L.A. Times calling for equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis as the basis for a change in U.S. policy to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a just and equitable way.

Check out her op-ed below and comment on it here.


Obama's real Israel problem -- and it isn't Bibi
Phyllis Bennis
January 6, 2012

Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, responds to The Times' Jan. 2 Op-Ed article, "Bibi and Barack." Bennis is the coauthor of "Ending the U.S. War in Afghanistan: A Primer" and the author of "Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer." 
If you would like to write a full-length response to a recent Times article, editorial or Op-Ed, here are our FAQs and submission policy.
Photo credit: J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press
Aaron David Miller is right: President Obama does have an Israel problem. But Miller is wrong about the roots of the problem.

The problem isn't Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or his Likud Party, or even Israel's current extreme right-wing government. Israel's fundamental policy toward the Palestinians is the problem, and that policy has hardly changed, despite the seemingly diverse sequence of left, right and center parties that have been in power.

Just look at the occupation of the territories seized in 1967 -- the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Settlement building, along with all the land and water theft that goes with it, began just weeks after the Six-Day War. And a right-wing government wasn't in power; it was Mapai, the left-wing precursor to today's Labor Party. The right wing wouldn't come to power until almost three decades after Israel's founding, when Menachem Begin led the Likud coalition to victory in 1977.

Settlement construction and expansion started right after the war and continued under all the leftist (in the Israeli context) governments. By the time Likud came to power 10 years after the 1967 war, there were already more than 50,000 Israeli settlers living in Jews-only settlements in the occupied territories, most of them in occupied East Jerusalem, with smaller numbers in the West Bank and Gaza. Settlement expansion advanced under Labor, Likud and Kadima-led governments. Now there are more than 600,000 settlers living illegally in Palestinian territory, divided between the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

As Moshe Dayan, a former defense and foreign minister, explained, the settlements were necessary "not because they can ensure security better than the army but because without them we cannot keep the army in those territories. Without them the [Israel Defense Forces] would be a foreign army ruling a foreign population."

The different parties, prime ministers and officials sometimes used different language. Some repeated the words the international community wanted, a "land for peace" deal and "two states"; others insisted that only "peace for peace" or "Jordan is Palestine" was acceptable. Some spoke loudly in defense of settlements, while others only whispered.

But there was no diversity of substance. What happened in the real world, the "facts on the ground," continued regardless of which party was in power.

Other things continued too -- settler violence against Palestinians, expropriation of Palestinian land and water, illegal closures, collective punishments including massive armed assault, arrest without charge, extra-judicial assassinations and the siege of Gaza.

Of course, that's just in the occupied territories. Inside Israel, Arab Israelis -- those who survived the dispossession of 1947-48 -- live as second-class citizens. They have the right to vote, but they are subject to legalized discrimination in favor of the Jewish majority. The Israeli human rights organization Adalah reported to the United Nations more than 20 such discriminatory laws, the most important of which deny Palestinian citizens equal rights on issues of immigration and citizenship as well as land ownership. And outside, the Palestinian refugees, now numbering in the millions, have been denied their internationally guaranteed right of return by Israeli governments of every political stripe.

The whole range of Israeli political parties has continued to implement these same policies. They may talk a different talk, but they all walk the same walk.

What none of these governments is prepared to acknowledge is what it will take for a real solution, one that is lasting, comprehensive and just: human rights and equality for all based on international law. It shouldn't be more complicated than that. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifies everyone has the right to return to their home country, no exceptions; that everyone has the right to live in safety, no exceptions; that everyone has the right to an equal say in the government that rules their country, no exceptions.

Every law should treat all citizens the same, no exceptions. Every government has the obligation to live up to the treaties it has signed, including the U.N. conventions on human rights, against racism, the Geneva Conventions and more. Israel has signed them all. Yet not one Israeli government, of any party, has implemented them.

As long as the United States provides the Israeli government more than $3 billion in aid every year, regardless of those violations, and protects Israel from being held accountable in the U.N., regardless of those violations, no Israeli prime minister has much reason to change. That's Obama's Israel problem -- not Netanyahu. Changing U.S. policy should provide the solution.

ALSO:

Bibi and Barack

Middle East states of mind

Settlement outposts at root of Jewish violence in West Bank

-- Phyllis Bennis


SEE ORIGINAL ARTICLE...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Israel/Palestine as a 21st Century "Lawfare" Laboratory


Below, hear Lisa Hajjar, Professor of Sociology at UCSB, speak in Washington, DC, about her new paper that brings together the two concepts of "lawfare" -- Israel's litigation of warmaking practices -- and targeted killing, which Israel interprets as supported within its international legal rights and duties as occupier of Palestinian territory. Hajjar's presentation is followed by two other panelists named below.

In early December, the Institute for Palestine Studies was privileged to host the third Mansour Armaly panel on Palestine at the annual conference of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) held in Washington, DC. This year's panel was entitled "The "Humanitarian" Present in Israel/Palestine: Forensic Architecture, Estrangement, and Lawfare." It addressed the intersection of conflict, space and law in the politics of humanitarianism and war:

"Israel/Palestine as a 21st Century Lawfare Laboratory" 
Lisa Hajjar, professor, University of California, Santa Barbara.

"Forensic Architecture and the Politics of War Crime Investigation"
Eyal Weizman, professor, Goldsmiths College (UK)

"Spectres of Estrangement: the ‘ungovernable’ camp & the figure of the ‘irreconcilable’ refugee" 
Nasser Abourahme, graduate student, Columbia University.

The presentations can be viewed on this video player (if you cannot view the player, click on the links above to view on YouTube).




SEE ORIGINAL HERE...

The Institute for Palestine Studies (IPS) is the only institute in the world exclusively devoted to research, analysis, and publication on Palestinian affairs and the Arab-Israeli conflict. IPS was established in Beirut in 1963 and also has offices in Washington D.C., an affiliate in Ramallah, and a small office in Paris.

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.

###

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sen. Wyden should hold Israel to same standard as Bahrain


By Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
The Hill's Congress Blog
30 October, 2011

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is admirably legislating against U.S. arms sales to Bahrain, the autocratic Gulf kingdom which has killed at least 30 protesters during the Arab Spring. To suppress protests, Bahrain has arrested more than 1,600 protesters, has fired 2,500 from their jobs, and is handing down harsh jail terms to medical personnel who treated injured protesters. This brutal repression of Bahraini human rights led Wyden to introduce a resolution to prohibit U.S. weapons sales to Bahrain until it meets stringent human rights criteria, helping to generate enough political pressure so that the Obama Administration has delayed implementation of its shameful decision last month to sell $53 million of weapons to Bahrain.

Ruebner
“Selling weapons to a regime that is violently suppressing peaceful civil dissent and violating human rights is antithetical to our foreign policy goals and the principle of basic rights for all that the U.S. has worked hard to promote,” Wyden argued.

While this principle should apply to all U.S. weapons sales, it should be even more strictly adhered to when U.S. taxpayers are funding weapons sales through military aid. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. military aid, scheduled to receive $30 billion in taxpayer-financed weapons between 2009 and 2018, and also violently suppresses nonviolent Palestinian protest and commits grave human rights violations against Palestinians living under its illegal 44-year military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.

As an example of Israel’s repression of Palestinian nonviolence, in January, Jawaher Abu Rahmah died after inhaling U.S.-supplied tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers in her West Bank village of Bil’in during its weekly protest against Israel’s illegal wall encroaching upon village farmland.  In April 2009, her brother Bassem was also killed after being hit in the chest with a high-velocity tear gas canister fired by Israeli soldiers. These types of tear gas canisters from Combined Systems, Inc. of Jamestown, PA also have been linked to the killing of Bahraini protesters.



As an example of Israel’s repression of Palestinian nonviolence, in January, Jawaher Abu Rahmah died after inhaling U.S.-supplied tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers in her West Bank village of Bil’in during its weekly protest against Israel’s illegal wall encroaching upon village farmland.  In April 2009, her brother Bassem was also killed after being hit in the chest with a high-velocity tear gas canister fired by Israeli soldiers. These types of tear gas canisters from Combined Systems, Inc. of Jamestown, PA also have been linked to the killing of Bahraini protesters.



Jawaher and Bassem are two of the more than 3,000 Palestinians civilians who have been killed by Israel since 2000, according to the Israeli organization B’Tselem.  Often Israel kills these Palestinians with some of the more than 670 million weapons U.S. taxpayers have funded for Israel in the same period, according to the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

Given Wyden’s professed commitment to U.S. weapons not being misused to further human rights violations, the Senator should be outraged as well by U.S. military aid to Israel, for which his Oregon constituents are expected to pay more than $285 million between 2009 and 2018.  Yet, instead, Wyden praises Israel as “a stable democracy and a stalwart ally” and keynotes at fundraisers for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an outfit that lobbies for more U.S. aid to Israel to the detriment of unmet needs at home.

Wyden should not hold Israel to a different standard.  If U.S. weapons should not support Bahrain’s human rights abuses, then neither should they support Israel’s denial of Palestinian freedom and self-determination.  


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

SEE ORIGINAL ARTICLE ON THEHILL.COM >>

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New York Times' Ethan Bronner suddenly sounds like us!


The following excerpt is from an editorial on page A10 of today's edition of the New York Times. It comes under the headline "Israelis Happy at Home but Glum About Peace," and it sounds surprisingly agreeable -- given Ethan Bronner's usual point of view -- to what the US Campaign has been insisting for weeks in our efforts to mobilize grassroots opposition against the Obama Administration's obstruction of Palestinian UN membership...
Bronner
"...The sense over the past two years that President Obama was growing angry with Israel and steering American policy away from its interests subsided last week. The parts of Mr. Obama’s United Nations speech about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could have been written by any official here. It said nothing about Israeli settlements, the 1967 lines, occupation or Palestinian suffering, focusing instead on Israel’s defense needs.
Avigdor Lieberman, the hawkish foreign minister, said afterward that he would be happy to sign Mr. Obama’s speech “with both hands.”
SEE FULL ARTICLE... 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

We published in The Hill today: "Hold Israel accountable with Leahy law."

Our National Advocacy Director, Josh Ruebner, has a great op-ed today in The Hill, supporting Sen. Leahy's efforts to hold Israel accountable for its violations of U.S. weapons laws. Josh touched a raw nerve with his hard-hitting analysis. Lots of people are attacking him (but not his arguments). Check it out and leave YOUR comment!

Hold Israel accountable with Leahy law

By Josh Ruebner
August 17, 2011

Apologists for Israeli occupation and apartheid claim that advocates for holding Israel accountable for its human rights abuses of Palestinians are “singling Israel out for extra scrutiny” or “holding Israel to a higher standard than other countries.”

Ruebner
Yet, ironically, Israel’s supporters also claim that U.S. military aid to Israel is sacrosanct and, unlike every other governmental program on the chopping block these days, cannot be questioned due to the “special U.S.-Israeli relationship." Dan Carle, a spokesperson for Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), has noted correctly that you cannot have your cake and eat it too.

In response to an article in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz suggesting that the Vermont Senator will attempt to apply sanctions to certain units of the Israeli military for human rights violations, Carle explained that “the [Leahy] law applies to U.S. aid to foreign security forces around the globe and is intended to be applied consistently across the spectrum of U.S. military aid abroad. Under the law the State Department is responsible for evaluations and enforcement decisions and over the years Senator Leahy has pressed for faithful and consistent application of the law.”

The possibility of Senator Leahy consistently applying this eponymous legislation and holding Israel to the exact same standard as every other country has Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, whose office may have leaked the story in an effort to kill the initiative, in a tizzy.

The “Leahy Law,” as it is commonly known, prohibits the United States from providing any weapons or training to “any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible evidence that such unit has committed gross violations of human rights.” In the past, this law has been invoked to curtail military aid to countries as diverse as Indonesia, Colombia, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Along with other provisions in the Foreign Assistance Act, of which it is a part, and the Arms Export Control Act, it forms the basis of an across-the-board policy that is supposed to ensure that U.S. assistance does not contribute to human rights abuses.

ARTICLE CONTINUES ON THEHILL.COM...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Israeli Parliament Member Ahmed Tibi Speaks Out Against Israel's New Antiboycott Law

Ahmad Tibi, deputy speaker of the Israeli Parliament, condemns Israel's new antiboycott law, reiterating the importance of boycott campaigns such as the Boycott Ahava "Stolen Beauty" Campaign, endorsed by the US Campaign and led by coalition  member group CODEPINK...

A Strike Against Free Speech

The New York Times

By AHMAD TIBI
Published: July 28, 2011

Free speech in Israel was dealt a severe blow this month when the country's Parliament passed antiboycott legislation that targets individuals or organizations publicly calling for a boycott against Israel or any area under its control.

Because I believe in ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, equal rights for Palestinians and Jews, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees forced from their homes and lands in 1948, I support boycotting -- and calling on others to boycott -- all Israeli companies that help perpetuate these injustices.

But this new legal limit on free speech could bankrupt me.

...

Already, a member of the Knesset, our Parliament, Alex Miller, has threatened to sue me for my words -- specifically my call, which I continue to make today, to boycott the illegal Jewish settlement of Ariel. Such a call would be unremarkable in a proper democracy with untrammeled free speech. The right to criticize a population that has dispossessed Palestinians and discriminated against us for decades should be protected speech.

Perhaps my parliamentary immunity will protect me, but that can readily be stripped. Moreover, parliamentary immunity will not protect Israelis who urge fellow citizens not to buy Ahava beauty products created from natural resources illegally extracted from the occupied shores of the Dead Sea and manufactured in a factory in an illegal West Bank settlement, to avoid wines from the occupied Golan Heights, or to hire construction companies other than those that build exclusive and discriminatory housing units for settlers in occupied East Jerusalem.

...

The Israeli Parliament's antiboycott legislation is an unprecedented effort to undercut nonviolent resistance to Israeli oppression. Many people believe that making nonviolence more difficult will make violence inevitable. I do not. Approving such irresponsible and reactionary legislation highlights Israel's long decades of injustice to Palestinians and hands us something of a political victory. Through this legislation, Israel has drawn further attention to its violent occupation of Palestinian territory and routine violations of international law...

Click here to view the full article.

For more information on the implications of the new antiboycott law, click 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...

Omar Barghouti on the Moral Imperative to Boycott Israel

Omar Barghouti is a featured presenter at this year's 10th Annual National Organizers' Conference of the US Campaign, in Washington, DC, from September 16 to 19.

Omar Barghouti spoke at Socialism 2011 in Chicago on July 3, 2011, to explain why boycotting Israel is the right approach and a moral imperative for people who support justice and universal rights. Omar Barghouti is one of the founders of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), and author of BDS, The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights.

SEE ORIGINAL POST...