Showing posts with label military aid. Show all posts
Showing posts with label military aid. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Local Human Rights Group in Albany, NY Posts Billboard to Stop Military Aid

For Immediate Release:

May 6, 2013

Local Human Rights Group Posts Billboard to Stop Military Aid

New Billboard and Web Site say unconditional aid to Israel deterrent to peace, harmful to both U.S. and Israel. Endorsements arrive.

Contact: Mary Folsom mfolsom@aol.com 

What: Billboard

Who: Sponsored by the NYS Coalition to Stop 30 Billion, a grassroots collection of peace and human rights activists http://stop30billionnys.org/



Where: Billboard is located on Fuller Road, between Cherry Street and Dorlyn Road, visible when travelling on Fuller from Central Avenue toward Washington Avenue.

How: Billboard is funded by donations.

Why: Because unconditional aid to Israel siphons funds from domestic use, and supports hard-line Israeli factions, thwarting a just peace.

Endorsements: The coalition has received the following statements endorsing the Board and its message:

“The billboard and web site communicate that huge grants of aid to Israel, unique in international affairs, are harmful to prospects for peace in a region in turmoil and encourage elements in Israel that are most dangerous - to its own future as well. They are also an outlandish drain the US budget, depleting funds need for constructive purposes, at home and abroad. They are a scandal that should be ended.”

Professor Noam Chomsky - Nationally known author, speaker, and political expert

"By placing a billboard in Albany calling on the United States to end $30 billion of taxpayer-financed weapons to Israel, Stop $30 Billion--New York State is providing a valuable resource to people in New York, educating them about how our tax dollars could be better spent on unmet community needs rather than on enabling Israel's oppression of Palestinians."

Josh Ruebner - National Advocacy Director, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

“I support the billboard calling for no military aid to Israel. Israel has not only continually violated the rights of the Palestinian people but has attacked it’s neighboring states, maintains nuclear weapons yet has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and today pushes for war with Iran and Syria.”

Joe Lombardo - Co-coordinator of the United National Antiwar Coalition http://unacpeace.org/

“Sending $30,000,000,000 of our money as military aid to a country with the 10th most powerful military in the world may seem like a good idea to politicians looking for campaign contributions from members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. But to Americans who are struggling to feed their families here at home or who care about health crises in less developed countries, it sends a message of indifference towards people who are in genuine need of help.

Paul Rehm, Christian Peacemaker Teams reservist

Friday, April 12, 2013

Join Our Tax Day #DemandARefund Twitter Action!


This Tax Day, April 15, join us and our partners ADC, AMP, CODEPINK, and JVP to Demand a Refund for the Weapons We Give to Israel! Below are sample tweets to send out throughout the day- just click on Tweet Now. And follow @US_Campaign for updates throughout the day!  

  • This #TaxDay, I #DemandARefund for weapons we give to Israel because... www.demandarefund.org (Tweet Now)
  • Schools shut down across country but #Obama wants to give #Israel $40 billion in weapons! #DemandARefund www.demandarefund.org (Tweet Now)
  • Bush gave #Israel $30 billion in weapons. Obama wants to give $40 billion. This #TaxDay, #DemandARefund www.demandarefund.org (Tweet Now)
  • Join @US_Campaign @adctweets @AMPalestine @codepink @jvplive to #DemandARefund for US Weapons to #Israel www.demandarefund.org (Tweet Now)
  • It's #TaxDay. Do u know @BarackObama wants to use ur taxes to send $40 billion in weapons to #Israel? #DemandARefund www.demandarefund.org (Tweet Now)
  • Instead of funding education, Obama wants to send weapons to #Israel to oppress Palestinians #DemandARefund #BDS www.demandarefund.org (Tweet Now)
  • Why are our taxes being used to help #Israel violate Palestinian #humanrights? #DemandARefund www.demandarefund.org (Tweet Now)
  • #Congress and #POTUS Say Need To Cut. Then why is US sending billions in weapons to Israel? #DemandARefund www.demandarefund.org (Tweet Now)
  • Tell @BarackObama not to negotiate for more tax-payer funded weapons for Israel #TaxDay #DemandARefund #BDS www.demandarefund.org (Tweet Now)
  • If we're dealing with #sequestration, why is Obama negotiating to send more weapons to Israel? #TaxDay #DemandARefund www.demandarefund.org (Tweet Now)
  • #Israel uses US weapons in violation of US and international laws. This #TaxDay, #DemandARefund www.demandarefund.org (Tweet Now)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Do You Want to Continue This AIPAC Friendship?

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

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

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

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

Check out the entire schedule
 and register today

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Thursday, December 27, 2012

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Congress, Obama Administration Standing on Wrong Side of History

Josh Ruebner is National Advocacy Director at the US Campaign. This piece was published in The Hill





Penalizing Palestinians will not help peace process

By Josh Ruebner, author, Obama and the Quest for Israeli-Palestinian Peace12/03/12 11:00 AM ET


When it comes to shielding Israeli human rights violations and squelching Palestinian freedom and self-determination, Congress never misses an opportunity to reward Israeli intransigence and punish peaceful Palestinian initiatives. 

The Senate defines a “non-germane amendment” as one “that would add new and different subject matter to, or may be irrelevant to, the bill or other measure it seeks to amend.” Senators are now piling on these “non-germane amendments” to the National Defense Authorization Act in a vindictive move designed to penalize Palestinians, the United Nations and even any country that supports Palestinian statehood following last Thursday's 138-9 vote in the General Assembly to upgrade Palestine’s status to that of a “non-member observer state.”

These amendments, described as “ham-fisted” by Americans for Peace Now, could cut off U.S. funding of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) if Palestinians join the International Criminal Court, close the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington, slash U.S. funding of the General Assembly, and even reduce U.S. foreign assistance to any country which voted for Palestine’s upgraded U.N. status.

 These initiatives are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg of Congressional efforts to demonize and reprimand the Palestinians for daring to buck the demands of the United States and Israel that they remain perpetually constrained within a sham “peace process” that has failed miserably to deliver even a modicum of individual and national rights to the Palestinians, who continue to languish under Israel’s oppressive apartheid policies.

However, this genie cannot be put back inside its bottle no matter how significant Congressional sanctions are. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice criticized Thursday’s actions as “grand pronouncements” that “will soon fade.” While the speeches may be forgotten, Palestine’s admittance to the U.N. as a “non-member state” signals the international community’s resounding vote of no confidence in U.S. domination of the “peace process.” It is U.S. diplomacy and leadership, not the international community’s growing solidarity with the Palestinian quest for freedom and self-determination, which is waning.

Sixty five years ago last Thursday the UN voted to partition Palestine into two states, assigning its Jewish minority a majority of the land against the wishes of Palestine’s indigenous inhabitants. This undemocratic move recalled British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour’s infamous, yet honest, confession that “in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country.”

Ironically enough in light of the strenuous efforts by the Obama Administration and Congress to deny Palestine its rightful place among the community of nations, the United States implicitly backed UN membership and recognition of an independent Palestinian state when it supported and arm-twisted other nations into voting for Palestine’s partition in 1947.


Yet 65 years later, thanks in large measure to unconditional U.S. military and diplomatic support for Israel, its discriminatory policies toward Palestinians remain as firmly entrenched as ever. The partition of Palestine led not only to the establishment of Israel in 1948, but also to Israel’s campaign of dispossession and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians (referred to as the Nakba, or “catastrophe” by Palestinians) and the resultant Palestinian refugee crisis. To this day, Israel denies five million Palestinian refugees their international-recognized right of return. Those Palestinians not forced out by Israel at its creation remain second-class citizens, subjected to discriminatory laws and widespread societal racism. And, for the past 45 years, Israel’s brutal military occupation and illegal colonization of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip have rendered a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a remote pipe dream.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cast his initiative to gain “non-member observer state” status for Palestine at the U.N. as a way to salvage the diminishing prospects of a two-state resolution. However, Israel’s response to the vote may have put the final nail in the coffin of attempts to establish an independent Palestinian state. Only hours afterward, a senior Israeli official told The New York Times that Israel had approved preliminary plans to build in the E1 region, “which would connect the large settlement of Maale Adumim to Jerusalem and therefore make it impossible to connect the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem to Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.”

Regardless of whether Palestine’s upgraded status at the U.N. somehow miraculously reverses Israel’s colonization of Palestinian land to enable the establishment of an independent Palestinian state or whether history is coming full circle to a one-state resolution and the “un-partitioning” of Palestine, by backing Israeli apartheid and denying Palestinian freedom and self-determination, Congress and the Obama administration are standing on the wrong side of history.    

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Join Us to Deliver 30,000 Signatures of Support to Church Leaders

Tomorrow is the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. We and our friends at Kairos USA will be delivering more than 30,000 signatures of support to the 15 courageous church leaders who called on Congress to investigate Israel's misuse of U.S. weapons. 

If you're in DC, please join us for a press conference tomorrow, Thursday, November 29 at 10:00am at the United Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Ave. NE. If you can't make it in person, watch the live-stream of the event from anywhere in the world. 

Calls for ending military aid to Israel are increasing, especially after this latest assault on Gaza that killed 130 Palestinians, including 30 children. Today 52 leading international figures released a statement "Now is the time for a military embargo on Israel!" 
Military ties with Israel have fueled relentless acts of aggression. Israel continues to entrench its subjugation of Palestinians while provoking or initiating armed conflict with its neighbors in the region.
Israel’s attempt to justify this kind of illegal use of belligerent and disproportionate military force as “self-defense” does not stand up to legal — or moral — scrutiny, as states cannot invoke self-defense for acts that serve to defend an unlawful situation which they have created in the first place[2].
We therefore support the call from Palestinian civil society for an urgent and comprehensive military embargo on Israel as an effective, non-violent measure to stop Israel’s wars and repression and to bring about Israel’s compliance with its obligations under international law. This is now a moral and legal imperative to achieve a just and comprehensive peace.
Signatories include Nobel Peace laureates Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Perez Esquível, former Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters, Directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker, international best-seller Naomi Klein and co-drafter of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Holocaust survivor Stéphane Hessel. Read the full letter with complete list of signatories

You can organize to end U.S. military aid to Israel by signing up on our website

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pro-Israel Groups React to Church Letter Challenging US Military Aid

Our National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner was interviewed about the recent letter sent by 15 prominent church leaders to Members of Congress regarding U.S. military aid to Israel. The letter decried “widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinians" and called for “an immediate investigation into possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act” and for the “withholding of military aid for non-compliance” with these laws. Thank the church leaders for their important letter.

Jewish, Christian Groups Clash Over U.S. Aid to Israel
by Mitchell Plitnick
October 23, 2012

Jewish groups have reacted furiously to a letter to Congress by 15 leaders of Christian denominations asking for a review of whether some of the three billion dollars in annual United States aid to Israel is being used in violation of U.S. law and policies.

After pulling out of an interfaith dialogue conference, several Jewish groups stepped up their attacks on the Christian leaders, accusing them of bias against Israel and even of anti-Semitism.

The Christians’ letter stated that they believed that the unconditional U.S. aid given to Israel contributes to the “deteriorating conditions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories which threaten to lead the region further away from the realization of a just peace… sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

The letter was sent to Congress by leaders of such prominent Protestant denominations as the Presbyterians, Methodists, United Church of Christ and the National Council of Churches (USA), among others. 

It called for “an immediate investigation into possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act which respectively prohibit assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations and limit the use of U.S. weapons to ‘internal security’ or ‘legitimate self-defense.’” 


The church leaders state that their concerns are based on witnessing the questionable use of U.S. weapons firsthand as well as the annual report of the U.S. State Department, which, they say, “details widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinian civilians, many of which involve the misuse of U.S.-supplied weapons.” 


Jewish groups, led by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), responded angrily. The JCPA stated, “(The churches’) stony silence to the use of anti-Judaism and relentless attacks on the Jewish state, often from within their own ranks, speaks loudly to their failure to stand up and speak the whole truth about what is occurring in the Middle East.” 


The criticism spanned a wide spectrum of U.S.-Jewish politics. Prominent neoconservative Elliott Abrams, a former U.S. official who also headed the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he frequently clashed with church peace groups, called it “the latest chapter in the unending hostility to Israel that has marked several of the mainline Protestant denominations.” 


Abrams, like the more mainstream Jewish groups, sees the letter as motivated by hostility toward Israel. Like them, he does not engage directly with the substance of the letter, nor does he answer the charges of systematic human rights abuses by Israel, but instead raises questions not directly related to the letter’s content to support his contention that the letter is motivated by anti-Israel malice. 


And, while Abrams is surely correct in asserting that “It is unlikely that the churches’ letter will affect the level of aid to Israel,” he does not explain why, if that is the case, such a wide spectrum of the Jewish community has reacted so strongly to it. 


The centrist J Street was just as critical as Abrams, though with a far more conciliatory tone. In an op-ed on Newsweek’s Daily Beast web site, the vice president of their education fund, Rachel Lerner wrote: “J Street opposes proposals to condition or cut security assistance to Israel…As with so many efforts to address this complex situation, the letter fails to weigh criticism of Israel’s behavior with appropriate criticism of, for instance, rocket fire from Gaza into Israeli civilian areas. 


“We also question the timing of the letter - coming as it does a few short weeks before Election Day, when this sensitive issue has already become too much of a political football.” 


These specifics were cited by Abrams, the JCPA and the ADL as well. But the letter asks not for a cut or conditioning of aid, but a review of whether that aid is being given in compliance with U.S. law, something that has been done frequently with U.S. foreign aid. 


The letter also makes several mentions of Israeli hardships, specifically rockets fired from Gaza, and consistently equates Israeli and Palestinian suffering. 


“Over the years, a number of members of Congress have asked the State Department to report on whether specific incidents constituted violations of the Arms Export Control Act, Foreign Assistance Act or other U.S. laws by Israel,” Joshua Ruebner, the National Advocacy Director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, told IPS. 


“Even though the State Department’s annual report on human rights in the Occupied Territories regularly documents abuses, the reports come back clean every time. Even though the Christian leaders’ letter asks for a comprehensive review, which has never been done before, the Jewish groups’ response seems like an overreaction.” 


Continue Reading at IPS



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

URGENT: Chapel Hill Town Council Meets Thu. to Review Our Ads on Aid to Israel

For those of you who live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina:

Join Us at the Town Council Meeting Thursday to Support Our Ads & Free Speech



By now, you’re probably aware of the controversy generated when the Church of Reconciliation, along with other Chapel Hill-based groups, posted ads this summer in 98 Chapel Hill buses to “End U.S. military aid to Israel.”

This Thursday, October 11, at 7:00 pm, the Chapel Hill Town Council will hold a public forum on the town’s bus advertising policy at Town Hall, 2nd Floor, 405 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd

The town council will receive a petition, organized by Triangle Voice for Israel, to prohibit all political ads on Chapel Hill buses, including ours. Rather than engage us on the issues, the local pro-Israel advocacy organization is trying to censor our message and chill free speech

But we’re organizing our own petition in support of our ads and the right to freedom of speech. Please take a moment to sign this petition so that we can show the Chapel Hill Town Council that there is broad-based community support for our ads.

Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina strongly defended our right to advertise in Chapel Hill’s buses. “The freedom of citizens to express political beliefs without being censored by their government is one of the most basic and cherished rights protected by our Constitution,” said the ACLU’s Legal Director Chris Brook. “We urge Chapel Hill officials to stand up for the free speech rights of their citizens by keeping the town’s bus ads open as a forum for public dialogue free of government censorship.”


We agree and we hope that you will come to Thursday evening’s town council public forum to stand in solidarity with us as we continue our struggle to keep these ads in Chapel Hill buses, but, even more importantly, as we continue to successfully spread our message that we must change our country’s policies toward Israel and the Palestinians to support human rights, international law and equality rather than the status quo of Israeli military occupation and domination of Palestinians.

If you would like to speak at the public forum in support of our ads and/or the right to freedom of speech, then please contact Rev. Mark Davidson so that we can coordinate.

Thank you for signing our petition to the Chapel Hill Town Council and we hope to see you on Thursday evening. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

ACLU-NC Defends Our Right to Post Ads Opposing U.S. Aid to Israel


In advance of a controversial October 11 hearing that could result in Chapel Hill amending its advertising guidelines to prohibit political ads, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina has issued a vigorous defense of our First Amendment right to place ads in city buses calling on the United States to end military aid to Israel.

As the ACLU eloquently put it:
removing the ad solely because of disagreement with its content, as some officials have proposed, would constitute subject matter and viewpoint discrimination in violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
According to the ACLU's October 1 press release:
“The freedom of citizens to express political beliefs without being censored by their government is one of the most basic and cherished rights protected by our Constitution,” said ACLU-NCLF Legal Director Chris Brook, who authored the letter. “In fact, speech that may be unpopular, controversial, or incite strong emotions is exactly what the First Amendment was designed to protect. We urge Chapel Hill officials to stand up for the free speech rights of their citizens by keeping the town’s bus ads open as a forum for public dialogue free of government censorship.”
Read the ACLU's press release and the letter it sent to Chapel Hill officials here.

The ads are being paid for by the Chapel Hill-based Church of Reconciliation and feature Salim Shawamreh and Jeff Halper calling on us to "Build peace with justice and equality. End U.S. military aid to Israel."

Israel has demolished Salim's home in Israeli-occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem five times! Yet each time Israel illegally destroys Salim's home, he rebuilds it to defy Israel's attempts to drive him off of his land. Jeff's organization, the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, acts in solidarity with Salim and his family to help rebuild his home.

Salim and Jeff's ads are a powerful call to Americans to change our governmental policies that underwrite and enable Israel's oppression of Palestinians.

These ads are currently running in all 98 of Chapel Hill's buses and, with the backing of the ACLU, we are confident that they'll remain up for the duration of the contract.

Chapel Hill is the ninth U.S. city in which this ad campaign has appeared. Read more about the Chapel Hill ad campaign here.

Do you want to bring this ad campaign to your city?  If so, let us know and we can help out.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

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


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

 

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

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

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

Sincerely,
Josh Ruebner
National Advocacy Director

Thursday, September 6, 2012

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

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

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

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

-----  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Rev. Mark Davidson
Church of Reconciliation, Chapel Hill

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What Goes Down, Must Go Up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IDF troops operating in Gaza via Getty (Archive)

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





Thursday, July 12, 2012

Stifling free speech as a way of helping Israel

Shakeel Syed is on the board of American Muslims for Palestine and a US Campaign Steering Committee member. Jeff Warner works with our member group Los Angeles Jews for Peace.

Our message was simple: "Tell Congress: Spend Our Money at Home, Not on the Israeli Military."

We wanted people to understand how their tax dollars are spent. We contracted with CBS Outdoor for a 28-day campaign of 23 billboards. They erected them in Los Angeles and surrounding cities in June, and we thanked them publicly for allowing free speech. 

However, a week later, CBS Outdoor took down all our billboards, telling us laughably that our applauding them for allowing free speech was tantamount to their endorsement of our message. They wanted us to take our money and go away quietly. But we decided otherwise.

CBS Outdoor likely buckled to pressure from pro-Israeli groups and their paid shills in Congress. Rep. Howard Berman wrote a memo (available on his website) to the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel, the sponsor of the billboard campaign, condemning the billboards  and referring to alleged complaints from his San Fernando Valley constituents.  

In response, Berman received praise from pro-Israel groups such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League, organizations who called the billboards "provocative." 

So what if the billboards contained a message that Berman and these pro-Israel groups found provocative? Who are they to judge what political messages people in Los Angeles should be allowed to see? We believe that provocative discussions make democracy flourish and stifling discussion will kill democracy.
 

As taxpayers, we care how Congress spends our money. As citizens, we want our country to be generous but not reckless. Berman and vast majority of his Congressional colleagues continually demonstrate recklessness in wasting our treasure serving Israeli interests rather than fulfilling the needs of the American people.


Continue Reading at Daily News Los Angeles

Sign up to help organize opposition to military aid for Israel and make sure to register for our 11th Annual National Organizers' Conference September 21-23 at St. Louis University. 


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Why Were these Billboards to End Aid to Israel Torn Down in L.A.?

As we marked our country’s independence yesterday, we recall the ringing, aspirational words of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” that all people “are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The long struggle for equality in the United States isn’t over.  As we continue to struggle today for equality here, our country’s $30 billion in military assistance and our invaluable diplomatic support for Israeli occupation and apartheid denies Palestinians that same equality, the very principle on which our country was founded.
A few weeks ago, the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel, a member group of the US Campaign, drew attention to how our taxes bankroll Israel’s inequality toward Palestinians. They erected 23 billboards in the Los Angeles area to tell Congress to end aid to Israel. 
Guess what? Almost as soon as the billboards went up, the billboard company—CBS Outdoor—took them down.
Why? Could it have been for the laughable reason that CBS Outdoor provided for breaking the contract, which was that we, along with the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel, set up a petition to thank them for running these ads? Doubtful.
Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that the Anti-Defamation League didn’t take a shine to the ads? Or, maybe, it was because Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) complained about them in a press release? 
Berman, who seems to have had no more important matter to take care of, such as helping to solve the national economic crisis or ending the war in Afghanistan, was agitated because he “must drive past” the billboards “every morning.” And, as Berman noted, he believes that he was elected to Congress by his constituents “in large part to fight for a stronger U.S.-Israel relationship. This has been, and will continue to be one [of] my top legislative priorities in Congress.”
Really, Rep. Berman? According to our website www.aidtoisrael.org, your constituents are paying nearly $57 million of their hard-earned tax dollars from 2009 to 2018 to bankroll Israel’s illegal military occupation. We’re betting that you didn’t ask the 20 percent of families with children living below the poverty line in your district whether they sent you to Congress to fund the Israeli military?
Whether Rep. Berman is your Member of Congress or not, we need you to take action this July 4th and stand up for the principle of free speech by signing this petition supporting the message in these censored billboards.
From now until July 9, which is the seventh anniversary of the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and corporations that profit from its oppression of Palestinians, help us collect 10,000 signatures to deliver to Rep. Berman letting him know that you support sanctions against Israel, including ending U.S. military aid. 
This is not just another lame internet petition that won’t go anywhere. We deliver our petitions to their intended targets and put effective political pressure on them. Just last week, we organized a delegation to the State Department headed by Sandra Tamari, a Palestinian-American, who was discriminated against both by Israel and the United States when she was recently denied entry at Ben-Gurion airport. 
Together with member groups Jewish Voice for Peace, St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, American Muslims for Palestine, and our friends at the Arab American Institute, we delivered more than 17,000 signaturesto the State Department protesting U.S. and Israeli discriminatory policies.  Check out the video from Palestine Studies TV as Sandra discusses our meeting with the State Department.
We’ve got a creative delivery planned for these petitions to Rep. Berman on July 9, but only if we have enough signatures to really show our strength. Help us reach our goal of 10,000 signatures by signing today, and then forwarding it to all your friends, and sharing it on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks for standing up for free speech, and working to end U.S. aid to Israel!