Showing posts with label analysis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label analysis. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The phony war over which US party loves Israel most

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obama’s clear legacy of support for Israeli policy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Far from rethinking US policy on Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


SEE ORIGINAL ARTICLE...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Anti-BDS campaigner out of step with pro-BDS consensus of her Catholic order

As Mondoweiss' Alex Kane reports, in upcoming assemblies of the national United Methodist and Presbyterian church bodies, leading the fight against resolutions of divestment from companies profiting from Israel's occupation and settlements will be Sister Ruth Lautt, the national director of Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East (CFWME), and a member of the Dominican sisters order of nuns (Roman Catholic).

Kane's investigation of donation tax records to CFWME show that the organization's funders are also linked to illegal West Bank settlements. The settlement-funders who contribute to CFWME stand in stark contrast to the Dominican order's position on Israel/Palestine. The order's "call to justice" which Lautt's New York-based branch signed onto, calls for prayer and support for the Palestinian United Nations bid for statehood. It also expresses firm support for the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. The website Dominican Life USA provides access to US Campaign resources.


Wildman
Kane gathered some insight from David Wildman, who serves on the US Campaign's Steering Committee and as Executive Secretary for Human Rights and Racial Justice with the United Methodist Church's Board of Global Ministries:
“It gears itself, I think, towards otherwise liberal congregations” ... Wildman, a critic of CFWME, also described the organization as an “attack group” that seeks to “block other efforts at achieving a just peace.”

Christian group dedicated to derailing divestment bankrolled by settler-funding philanthropy

by Alex Kane on January 5, 2012

When United Methodists converge on Tampa, Florida this Spring, and the Presbyterian Church (USA) holds its general assembly in early July, the question of divestment from companies that profit off of the Israeli occupation will once again attract significant attention. Delegates at these church wide meetings will be confronted by an array of attacks on any resolution that promotes divestment as one route to pressure Israel and its control over the occupied Palestinian territories. And a familiar face to the delegates will be leading the fight against these resolutions: Sister Ruth Lautt, the national director of Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East (CFWME).

Lautt is a member of the Dominican sisters order of nuns (Roman Catholic) and a former lawyer. Her organization, which she runs on her own (though there is a board), says it “advocate[s]” for “fairness” in American church dealings related to Israel/Palestine. In practice, this has meant leading delegations to Israel, promoting “positive investment” in the region instead of divestment, and working “behind-the-scenes” at religious conventions, “helping opponents of divestment draft motions [and] applying persuasion at the subcommittee and committee levels,” as the New York Times has reported.

But an analysis of donations to the organization reveals a much more complicated picture that raises questions about CFWME’s professed mission and their role in church politics on Israel. My investigation of donation tax records to CFWME show that the organization's budget has more than doubled since its founding through the support of funders linked to illegal West Bank settlements and promoting Islamophobia in the U.S.

ARTICLE CONTINUES...

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, December 23, 2011

Gingrich’s Campaign Resurgence Funded by Secretive Coterie of Super PACs, Wealthy Israel Backers

The following is an excerpt of today's newscast from DemocracyNow.org. While you're here, check out one of our Steering Committee members' analyses about Newt Gingrich earlier this week, plus this post from one of our member groups about Gingrich's "invented Palestinians" claim.

As Newt Gingrich's poll numbers surge and plummet with the predictability of the Dow Jones, some are making the connection between the two figures as genuine reflections of investor confidence. Several recent exposes reveal how Gingrich has skirted campaign finance rules to raise millions of dollars in unlimited donations from billionaire backers and big industry, with his ability to attract capital showing signs of abiding. But just who are those donors and what do they stand to gain from Gingrich?

Greg Gordon, an investigative reporter for McClatchy Newspapers who has been following the Gingrich campaign's finances, discussed one of Gingrich's latest beacons of support: Sheldon Adelson. "Sheldon
Adelson is a rabidly pro-Israel donor and he operates two of the most elite casinos in Las Vegas: The Pallazzo and the Venetian. And he is also listed by Forbes as the 16th wealthiest person on the planet. Mr.
Adelson is a huge backer of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and he in fact publishes a free newspaper that circulates in Israel that basically is an extra voice to boost the Israeli Prime Minister.

... Perhaps it is no surprise, after all these donations from Adelson--totaling 7.65 million--that Gingrich has recently...talked about the Palestinian people as an 'invented people,' and he talked about moving the [US] embassy on his first day in office...from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would be an extremely provocative move to make in the Middle East," Gordon said. "According to Politico...[Adelson] is planning to put $20 million into these Super PACs that support Newt Gingrich."

Peter Stone, of the Center for Public Integrity, echoed Gordon's findings on Adelson and the Gingrich campaign. According to one of his reports, a close friend of Adelson's confirmed that he would "do whatever it costs to help Gingrich."



SEE ORIGINAL ON DEMOCRACYNOW.ORG...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Newt Gingrich puts Israel interests first" - Kristin Szremski

Szremski
Our Steering Committee member Kristin Szremski writes that Newt Gingrich is forwarding a Zionist agenda at the expense of Americans. In trying to "out-Romney" Romney, and align himself to the pro-Israel element, the potential GOP frontrunner is not only selling off the values and safety of the United States for his shot in the Oval Office -- and still failing to impress the pro-Israel Jewish voters he was trying to court -- he's also inflaming tensions in the Middle East, where U.S. neutrality and integrity are already is viewed with suspicion and hostility. He's proven he does not care about the people whom he'd be sworn to protect as President.

Szremski faults Gingrich with helping to inflame Islamophobia by using the pro-Israel entities behind it. Millions of dollars are being funneled into organizations bent on helping Israel maintain its occupation of Palestine, thanks to figures like Gingrich demonizing Islam in the United States by planting outrageous and false innuendos of a "stealth jihad" here, and insinuating a connection between American Muslims and overseas groups on the State Department's list of designated foreign terrorist organizations.


Newt Gingrich puts Israel interests first

Gingrich will abandon US values and safety for a chance at the White House.

By Kristin Szremski
December 19, 2011
AlJazeera.com

Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House who faded into obscurity after resigning in 1998 amid a sex scandal, is back and seemingly ready to say anything to become the next president of the United States - even if it means making sycophantic statements that pander to the pro-Israel lobby but that oppose US policy and the best interests of the American people.

Gingrich apparently revised history when he told Jewish reporter Steven Weiss recently that the Palestinians are an "invented" people. He willfully obfuscated the fact that Palestinians' roots in the Holy Land go back thousands of years. He ignored that Palestinians and Palestine are mentioned in the Torah and the Bible; that they are referred to in many historical documents, including the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which gave British support for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people".

Gingrich re-invented history when he said the
Palestinians are an "invented" people
[GALLO/GETTY]
The potential GOP frontrunner is far from alone in his pandering to the pro-Israel lobby. Mitt Romney, running a close second to Gingrich, Rick Perry and Michelle Bachman, also have made concerted efforts to undermine President Barack Obama's Middle East policy while emphasising their own loyalty to Israel in attempts to gain the votes of Tea Partiers and Christian evangelicals, who are strongly pro-Israel. During the GOP debate in Des Moines, it appeared as if it were an open season on Palestinians.

That Gingrich would intentionally contradict stated and long-standing US policy, which recognises the Palestinian people and their right for a state of their own, for his own self-interest is extremely troubling. But even more problematic is the fact that Gingrich told Weiss he would consider granting clemency to one of the most notorious spies ever to infiltrate our national security agencies: Johathon Pollard.

Pollard's release

Pollard was sentenced to life in prison in 1986 after he confessed to spying for the state of Israel. Pollard, who was a civilian research analyst with high security clearance for the US Navy, had agreed to spy for Israel for 10 years in exchange for more than $500,000.

According to a January 1999 article in the New Yorker by Seymour Hersh, Pollard "betrayed elements of four major American intelligence systems". He caused extensive damage to US intelligence and US national security because of the nature of the highly sensitive documents he sold to Israel. According to Hersh, Pollard gave up data dealing with specific American intelligence systems and how they worked, a "most sensitive area of intelligence". The espionage was so great that successive presidents have rejected Israel's pleas for Pollard's release.

Gingrich told Weiss he'd consider granting clemency if Pollard were no longer a security threat and also had served time within the range of people with "similar problems". To be sure, seasoned politicians often have to compromise goals - sometimes even ideals - to achieve their own. But when a potential presidential candidate so easily panders to the interests of a foreign country and its lobby here, in the United States, over the interests of his fellow countrymen, he is clearly not fit to hold public office.

And that is only one of the ways in which Gingrich is forwarding a Zionist agenda at the expense of Americans, which is readily seen in his "Clash of Civilisations" narrative that became prominent in 2010 during the controversy surrounding the Park 51 mosque project. During the controversy, the country's favourable attitude towards Muslims fell 10 points (from 40 per cent to 30 per cent), according to a study co-authored by the Centre for Race and Gender at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Islamophobic rhetoric

That same report says Gingrich was one of those at the forefront of fuelling mistrust and hatred of Muslims. In other words, a former Speaker of the House was working against American unity by bringing divisive Islamophobic rhetoric into mainstream discourse.

The Constitution founded the United States as a pluralistic society; the First Amendment grants the free expression of religion. Yet Gingrich behaves as if allowing Muslims that right would lead to the loss of American values and liberty.

Other credible reports - "The Great Isamophobic Crusade", by Max Blumenthal and "The Roots of the Islamophobic Network in America", by the Centre for American Progress - have exposed the link between Islamophobia and the pro-Israel entities behind it. Millions of dollars are funneled into organisations bent on helping Israel maintain its occupation of Palestine.

One way they accomplish this is by smearing anyone trying to raise awareness about Israel's continued violations of international law. Another way is to demonise Islam in the United States by planting outrageous and false innuendos of a "stealth jihad" here. Or they insinuate that there is a connection between American Muslims and overseas groups on the State Department's list of designated foreign terrorist organisations. These fallacies are then taken up and trumpeted about by unprincipled people like Gingrich.

Gingrich seems to have no qualms allying himself to pro-Israel element and selling the values and safety of the US for his shot in the Oval Office. But based upon published reports, he's failed to impress the pro-Israel Jewish voters he was  trying to court. Instead, he's inflamed tensions in the Middle East where the neutrality and integrity of the US already is viewed with suspicion and in some cases hostility, and he's proven he does not care about the people who, if he were elected president, he'd be sworn to protect.

In trying to "out-Romney" Romney, Gingrich may have passed Israel's litmus test, but he hopelessly failed to show his loyalty to the US or the American people.

Kristin Szremski is the director of media and communications for the American Muslims for Palestine, a national grassroots organisation. Follow her on Twitter: @kristin_scribe


READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Israel Faces $250 Million Slash in Aid


By Nathan Guttman
December 02, 2011
Jewish Daily Forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARTICLE CONTINUES...

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 >>

Friday, September 30, 2011

What is Next for Palestinian Reconciliation and the United Nations Bid?


Mouin Rabbani, an independent analyst of Palestine and Israel, shares his thoughts on the Palestinian bid for statehood in the United Nations and a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation.  View two recorded interviews he did this month below.





Mouin Rabbani  is a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies (IPS) in Washington DC.  He is an independent Middle East-based analyst specializing on Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict

He shared his initial thoughts on the UN initiative in this Palestine Studies TV video in mid-September.  He also penned short responses to the speeches by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in front of the United Natiosn General Assembly.
   
He will be in Washington, DC until October 9th and can speak at events or make media appearances. To book Rabbani, email us or call him directly at:


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... 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Book Review: The Statehood of Palestine: International Law in the Middle East Conflict


Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol 40, no. 4 (Summer 2011), p. 98

The Statehood of Palestine: International Law in the Middle East Conflict, by John Quigley. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. vii + 252 pages. Notes to p. 307. Bibliography to p. 319. Index to p. 326. $27.99 paper. 

Reviewed by Diana Buttu 

For years, the Palestinian Authority has clung to the idea of a “Palestinian state/dawla filastiniyya,” often repeating the slogan of a “Palestinian state on the 1967 borders,” or the “two-state solution,” as the proposed means of securing freedom for Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. On 16 May 2011, in an op-ed in the New York Times, PLO chairman Mahmud Abbas affirmed his intention to declare statehood in September 2011 and seek full admission to the UN as a member state, following the same plan as laid out by his predecessor, Yasir Arafat, in 2000.

Abbas’s announcement does not come as a surprise: for over two years, acting prime minister Salam Fayyad has been pushing his plan, titled “Ending the Occupation—Establishing the State,” while the PA has undertaken a diplomatic offensive to get states and international bodies to lend their support to the idea. The Fayyad/Abbas plan seems to be working, with over one hundred states now recognizing Palestine as a “state.” It is in this context that John Quigley’s latest book, The Statehood of Palestine: International Law in the Middle East Conflict, emerges.

The book is the most recent in a relatively new line of academic research on Palestine that aims to use the framework of law, and in particular international law, to highlight the injustices perpetrated against Palestinians by Zionist and other imperialist forces. Quigley is not a newcomer to this field, and his past titles include The Case for Palestine: An International Law Perspective (Duke, 2005) and Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice (Duke, 1990).

Divided into four parts and spanning twenty chapters, Quigley begins by tracing the Palestinian Arab quest for independence and the impact of the British Mandate system on Palestine. In the first two parts, the author methodically points out that like other Class A Mandates, “Palestine had relations with other states that required the conclusion of treaties. Palestine’s citizens had connections with other states and required for that purpose a nationality. Palestine’s status came up as an issue in a variety of ways during the time of Britain’s administration. In all of these interactions, the states of the international community dealt with Palestine as a state” (pp. 52-3). But unlike other Class A Mandates, Palestine did not gain its independence; rather, it soon fell subject to endless proposals and plans—including for trusteeship—to accommodate a Jewish minority and its nationalist aspirations at the expense of the rights of Palestinian Arab majority.

BOOK REVIEW CONTINUES HERE...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Robbing Peter to Pay Israel

The US Campaign's National Advocacy Director, Josh Ruebner, published this analysis in Foreign Policy in Focus, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies.


By Josh Ruebner
August 12, 2011

Nearly 20 percent of the constituents of Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) live under the poverty line, and nearly 15 percent are unemployed. Jackson’s congressional district, covering parts of the south side of Chicago and its southern suburbs, has been hit harder than many others by the crises plaguing the economy. Many of his constituents are looking at even more cutbacks in social services, higher prices for food and fuel, and ever scarcer jobs.

Ruebner
During this August congressional recess, Rep. Jackson, Jr. should be at home, meeting with constituents and proposing to them how he will help them cope with their difficult circumstances. Instead, the politician is proudly gallivanting around Israel, in one of three separate congressional delegations heading there this month on all-expense-paid junkets organized by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), a so-called charitable affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most influential of the myriad pro-Israel lobbying outfits.

In total, 81 representatives, nearly one-fifth of the entire House, will participate in these jaunts, which, according to The Washington Post, include “a round-trip flight in business class for lawmakers and their spouses (that alone is worth about $8,000), fine hotels and meals, side trips, and transportation and guides.”

Of course, these congressional delegations are not all fun and games. Members of Congress will be expected to sing for their lavish dinners by honoring President Bush’s 2007 pledge to provide the Israeli military with $30 billion of tax-payer-funded weapons between 2009 and 2018. So far, proposed increases in military aid to Israel have been spared from the budgetary chopping block by President Obama and a compliant Congress that treats Israeli militarism as more sacrosanct than medical care for seniors. This despite the fact that Israel misuses the funds, in violation of the Arms Export Control Act, to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians living under its illegal 44-year military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.

ARTICLE CONTINUES ON FPIF.ORG...

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...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Straining Every Nerve Against UN Membership for Palestine

Josh Ruebner is the US Campaign's National Advocacy Director. His article below appeared yesterday in Dissident Voice. Learn more about the US Campaign's actions and perspectives on Palestine UN membership here on our website.


The Roman philosopher and politician Cicero urged orators to “Strain every nerve to gain your point.”  The Obama Administration appears to have taken his advice to heart in its attempts to make the case that the United States should oppose Palestinian efforts to gain membership in the United Nations this fall.
However, its rhetoric has been so convoluted, its logic so flawed, and its reasoning so shoddy that its efforts have been desultory and unconvincing.  Take, for example, the following quotes:
No vote at the United Nations will ever create an independent Palestinian state.  And the United States will stand up against efforts to single Israel out at the United Nations or in any international forum. (Applause.)  Israel’s legitimacy is not a matter for debate.
— President Barack Obama, Remarks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference, May 22, 2011
There are so many historical inaccuracies, deliberate obfuscations of political realities, and hyperbolic assumptions that it is difficult to know where to begin to unpack these three crucial sentences.
To assert, boldly, that no action will ever achieve its goal, then at the very least the President should have the historical record on his side. Despite the President’s bluster, he is powerless to stop the UN from voting to create an independent Palestinian state because it already did so—in 1947. UN General Assembly Resolution 181, which ironically never would have passed were it not for the intensive diplomatic arm-twisting of the United States, recommended partitioning Palestine into two states: a Jewish State comprising 55 percent of historic Palestine, and an Arab State totaling 45 percent, with Jerusalem as acorpus separatum, an open, international city administered by the UN.  The UN voted to endorse this partition plan, which was never implemented, at a time when Palestinian Arabs owned approximately 93 percent of the land, and Jews owned 7 percent.
For these past 64 years, Israel’s actions to ethnically cleanse as much of historic Palestine of as many Palestinians as possible has been the primary obstacle to implementing the UN Partition Plan. Today, Israel relentlessly continues to colonize the 22 percent of historic Palestine (the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip) that has been envisioned as a Palestinian state in proposed two-state resolutions to the conflict since 1967, rendering even this bread crumb a remote likelihood.
Also, if the President is going to stake out such an unequivocal position on an issue, then at the very least he should state clearly the actual issue at hand. As the President knows, the UN may be asked to admit the State of Palestine as a member, not to vote on creating a Palestinian state. Since the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) declared independence in 1988, more than 120 countries have recognized and established some form of diplomatic relations with the State of Palestine.  As the international lawyers of the State Department must surely know, the UN does not recognize states.  Only states can recognize other states.  The UN can only determine if that state is admitted as a member.  By conflating these two issues, the President intentionally ups the ante of what is at stake as a pretext to justify his opposition to this Palestinian initiative.
ARTICLE CONTINUES...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Jewish Voice for Peace and UN Recognition of Palestinian Statehood

Jewish Voice for Peace is a coalition member of the US Campaign. Learn more here about our coalition's actions and positions on Palestinian UN membership and statehood.


From Jesse Bacon's blog at jewishvoiceforpeace.org

Joel Beinin
For a more in-depth statement by Joel Benin, a long-time JVP member who is the Donald J. Maclachlan Professor of Middle Eastern History at Stanford University, click here.

Jewish Voice for Peace supports the Palestinian people’s struggle to fulfill their aspirations and secure their internationally recognized rights to freedom, national self-determination, justice, and equality. We regard any non-violent tactic as a legitimate tool in this struggle. Palestinians have the right to freedom from Israeli occupation, justice for Palestinian refugees, and equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has affirmed that this September, at the United Nations General Assembly, it will seek a vote on international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and admission as a full member of the United Nations.

While 100 countries already recognize Palestine as a state, the question of pressing for UN membership remains controversial among Palestinians. Some support the move as historic and others believe such a vote is either purely symbolic or may sacrifice important Palestinian claims.

Jewish Voice for Peace believes that such a vote, even if it were to pass, would not change facts on the ground or suddenly create a Palestinian state. Regardless of what happens at the UN, the lives of ordinary Palestinian people and the ongoing massive violations of their human rights will remain at the forefront of our concerns.

That said, we do believe the campaign for Palestinian statehood has and can catalyze an important global conversation about the fundamental Palestinian right to self-determination, and the United States’ and Israel’s ongoing role in thwarting that right.

The PA’s decision to bring the case for statehood to the United Nations after years of frustration with so-called peace talks has highlighted the fact that the US-brokered “peace process” has actually helped entrench the occupation. It has equally underscored the reality that Israel’s current Prime Minister has absolutely no intention of stopping settlement expansion.

Further, Israeli and US efforts to weaken or stop a UN vote that in no way is anti-Israel, including US Congress’ threat to withhold millions in aid should the PA push for the vote, and the US affirmation that it will veto it if it goes to the UN Security Council, reveal the obstructive role the United States continues to play in the region— contributing to further injustice and bloodshed that threatens both Palestinians and Israelis.

Finally, we believe that the vote, and the conversation it is engendering among those who believe it’s time for Palestinians to finally achieve their freedom, should be understood in the context of a series of milestones that all point towards an acceleration of the decades old movement for justice.
These milestones include the unexpected rise of the Arab Spring, the rapid growth of the Palestinian nonviolent resistant movement inside of the West Bank, and the growing successes of the global nonviolent solidarity actions in the form of the Gaza flotilla and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). These, coupled with Israel’s increasingly controversial and anti-democratic measures, which are all adding to its sense of isolation and pressure, all mark a hopeful shift in the decades old movement for justice for Palestinians.

ARTICLE CONTINUES...

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...

Coalition member JVP receives nod in Jewish mainstream press

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is a coalition member of the US Campaign, and the leader of several US Campaign-sponsored initiatives. The following JTA.org article excerpt gives JVP some credit for offering many members of the Jewish Left in the United States an irresistible alternative to J Street and the Jewish political establishment. Read the full article on JTA.org.

J Street, the book—expect more controversy

By Ami Eden, JTA.org
July 19, 2011

If there’s one thing J Street is good at, it’s getting attention.

Supporters, critics and relatively neutral observers all have conspired -- with plenty of prodding from J Street’s own aggressive communications operation -- to shine an intense media spotlight on the self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization. The result has been waves of positive attention and tough scrutiny, often out of proportion with any actual accomplishment or misdeed.

...

It is true, as [J Street founder and president Jeremy] Ben-Ami asserts in his book, that some right-wing and centrist critics of his organization have launched vitriolic and distortion-filled attacks against J Street and its leaders, often working to blackball them from various forums.

And he’s also right in arguing that many of J Street’s main policy positions -- a Jewish state in Israel, a demilitarized Palestinian state, borders based on the 1967 lines with land swaps, no Palestinian right of return, a compromise on Jerusalem -- fall well within the Israeli and Jewish mainstream. To boot, J Street has criticized Palestinian incitement and worked with other Jewish organizations to head off anti-Israel boycott campaigns."

"...in the end the organization’s biggest challenge could well come from the left.

During the past year, one could make the argument that the upstart Jewish Voice for Peace has emerged as the main challenger for the hearts and minds of Jews on the left who feel alienated from Israel and the Jewish establishment. That’s bad news if you count yourself as a pro-Israel activist.
You don’t like J Street’s policies? Jewish Voice for Peace supports some boycotts and divestment measures targeting Israel and takes no position on whether it backs a two-state solution.
You don’t like J Street’s tactics? JVP activists heckled Israel’s prime minister at another Jewish organization’s conference.
By comparison, Ben-Ami’s talk about Zionism, support for U.S. aid to Israel and opposition to the BDS movement sound downright establishment. And if JVP's influence and popularity grow, it might not be long before establishment folks start telling themselves that maybe J Street wasn’t so bad after all.

SEE ORIGINAL ARTICLE...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Canada clamps down on criticism of Israel

No coincidence that this comes at the same time as U.S. Congressman Howard Berman introduces a bill to outlaw U.S. boycotts of Israeli occupation and apartheid.

In an affront to free speech, government committee declares that criticism of Israel should be considered anti-Semitic.


Jillian Kestler-DAmours
22 July, 2011

Nearly two years after the first hearings were held in Ottawa, the Canadian Parliamentary Committee to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA) released a detailed report on July 7 that found that anti-Semitism is on the rise in Canada, especially on university campuses.

While the CPCCA's final report does contain some cases of real anti-Semitism, the committee has provided little evidence that anti-Semitism has actually increased in Canada in recent years. Instead, it has focused a disproportionate amount of effort and resources on what it calls a so-called "new anti-Semitism": criticism of Israel.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, 
a staunch supporter of Israeli policy,
has described criticism of Israeli as
a form of "new anti-Semitism". [EPA]

Indeed, the real purpose of the CPCCA committee seems to be to stifle critiques of Israeli policy and disrupt pro-Palestinian solidarity organizing in Canada, including, most notably, Israeli Apartheid Week events. Many of the CPCCA's findings, therefore, must be rejected as both an attack on freedom of speech and freedom of protest, and as recklessly undermining the fight against real instances of anti-Semitism.

The CPCCA and its findings

The Canadian Parliamentary Committee to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA) was born out of a conference held in London in February 2009 by the Inter-Parliamentary Committee for Combating Anti-Semitism. Formed in March 2009 and not directly linked to the Canadian government, or to any NGO or advocacy group, the CPCCA included 22 Canadian Parliament members from across party lines. Former Liberal MP Mario Silva chaired the Inquiry Panel and Conservative MP Scott Reid led the Steering Committee.

Between November 2009 and January 2010, the CPCCA held ten separate hearings during which time representatives of various non-governmental organizations, religious institutions, police departments and Canadian and Israeli universities presented papers meant to assess the level of anti-Semitism in Canada. While groups critical of Israel were denied the chance to address the committee, major Zionist organizations like B'nai Brith Canada, Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, and the Canadian Jewish Congress were welcomed.

ARTICLE CONTINUES...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The UN Already Voted for a Palestinian state -- in 1947


Our National Advocacy Director wrote an opinion article that was published in today's South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

By Josh Ruebner
June 29, 2011

For all intents and purposes, the two-decade-long U.S. "peace process" — premised on privileging Israeli occupation and apartheid at the expense of Palestinian human and national rights — is dead in the water. Is it any wonder that the United States, a country that provides Israel each year with the $3 billion in weapons to oppress Palestinians and that functions as "Israel's lawyer," according to former U.S. "peace process" insider Aaron David Miller, has repeatedly failed to broker a just peace?

The jig is up and it is unlikely that the Palestinian political leadership would agree to return to such a rigged U.S. negotiating table. Were Palestinian leaders inclined to do so, it is doubtful that the Palestinian public would stand for it.

Instead, Palestinians appear to be pursuing a diplomatic strategy of going around and not through the United States to achieve their long-denied rights. In February, Palestinians forced the Obama administration to use its first and only veto in the Security Council to prevent the United Nations from condemning Israel's illegal settlements. By doing so, Palestinians exposed the hypocrisy of the United States shielding Israel from accountability for a policy which even the Obama administration opposes and demonstrated how disconnected the United States is from the rest of the international community on this issue.

ARTICLE CONTINUES...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Will Palestine Be the Newest UN Member? What Is Our Role?

This September, Palestinians are expected to push for the State of Palestine to become a full member of the United Nations and to get additional countries to recognize Palestinian statehood. 

Will this important diplomatic initiative succeed? It probably won't if the United States wields its veto in the Security Council to block Palestine's application for UN membership. Given the Obama Administration's track record of shielding Israel from accountability, there's every reason to believe that the United States will once again try to thwart Palestinian rights.

Just last month at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference, President Barack Obama declared:

"No vote at the United Nations will ever create an independent Palestinian state... the United States will stand up against efforts to single Israel out at the United Nations... Israel's legitimacy is not a matter for debate."

By equating Palestinian efforts to seek their long-denied rights at the UN with the "delegitimization" of Israel, President Obama is subjecting Palestinian freedom to Israel's timetable.

As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail: "For years now I have heard the word 'Wait!'... This 'Wait' has almost always meant 'Never.'" The worst stumbling block to freedom's advance, King argued, is the person who "believes he can set the timetable for another" person's freedom.

After two decades of waiting for statehood through negotiations with Israel in a U.S.-dominated "peace process" that always relegated Palestinian human rights to the back of the bus, Palestinians are now taking their case directly to the UN.

Although the US Campaign is not taking a position on this Palestinian initiative, we do affirm:

"Mr. President, you are wrong to stand in their way."

Our country's support for Israeli occupation and apartheid is the key stumbling block to Palestinian freedom and it is up to us to change that.

To help us do so, we're launching a Frequently Asked Questions document to tackle the tricky legal, political, and historical issues raised by this initiative, as well as the implications for our coalition's work to change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights, international law, and equality.

Here are some of the important questions addressed in our FAQ:

Will UN membership for Palestine change realities on the ground for Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation?

Will recognition of Palestinian statehood by additional countries advance or set back Palestinian human rights?


We don't claim to have all the answers or to know how this will work out at the UN this September and beyond.  But we do hope that the FAQ helps us all think about this important policy development. 

We've also assembled links to additional resources highlighting different perspectives on the subject.

Whatever happens between now and the fall, this is the time for us to redouble our efforts to change U.S. policy to support Palestinian freedom, justice, and equality and end Israeli occupation and apartheid.