US CAMPAIGN TO END THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION

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OCTOBER CAMPAIGN UPDATE
(11/06/02)

Dear friends,

This update covers national mobilization proposals (which needs your feedback), resources and new materials, and recent activities.
But first, a big welcome to the organizations that have recently joined the US Campaign: End the Occupation Coalition/DuPage; Jewish Voice for Peace, Inc.; and Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel. Welcome also to all the individuals who have signed on. You have joined a growing movement of US citizens who are pooling their efforts to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

NATIONAL MOBILIZATION PROPOSALS: WE NEED YOUR FEEDBACK!


US Campaign members have come up with ideas for immediate actions in November and December--more on that in a couple of days.
In addition, three ideas were put forward for a year-long nationwide campaign to hold the US accountable for just Palestinian-Israeli peace and to end US support to occupation. Which of the three ideas do you and your group think would be most effective as a nationwide campaign in terms of impact on US policy? Which would you and your group be prepared to support in addition to your own actions for just peace? The three proposals are:

1. CITY COUNCIL/STATE DIVESTMENT
The US Campaign would organize a divestment project for one year targeting city councils and State governments that have financial or social ties to Israel. US Campaign volunteers would help research the investments in Israel of different local and state governments. This proposal has one unique advantage: it ties in with the campus divestment movement, which is gaining steam. Students and alumni could be interested in this kind of campaign. The other advantages are not unique; they apply to any proposal that emphasizes a local grassroots organizing approach. The campaign can be done anywhere in the country, and it forces us to organize locally: neighborhood by neighborhood. If the city/state divestment campaign takes off, it will build a grassroots base--a prerequisite to any comprehensive social change coming from the progressive side.

2. SELECTIVE PRODUCT BOYCOTT
In the anti-apartheid divestment campaign one powerful educational tool was a campaign against Polaroid as makers of pass photos. In the same way, this campaign would select one or two consumer products (e.g. Burger King, Home Depot, Starbucks, or other US firms that do business illegally in the settlements) as a focal point for pressure to stop doing business in settlements. The boycott would involve leafleting and vigils outside local stores (several Israeli peace groups have settlement shopping guides that list products and companies that do business in settlements which we could distribute). It could also involve religious congregations, community organizations, even city councils passing resolutions that they would not purchase products from such companies until they withdraw all business from settlements and publicly declare this. Products that are used on campuses (e.g. Burger King, Starbucks) would be especially vulnerable ones to pressure if universities also joined in the boycott. The key would be to identify the best symbolic and consumer sensitive product. It could be coordinated with corporate advocacy work that focuses more on Caterpillar and military contractors, which are not so consumer responsive.

3. ACT OF SOLIDARITY
Today each person in the US contributes roughly $12 -$25/year to maintaining the Israeli occupation ($3-6 billion/year in US foreign aid to Israel divided by 280 million US population). An Act of Solidarity campaign would have two goals: 1) educational advocacy around the impact of occupation in daily Palestinian life; 2) raising material support for Palestine as means of pressuring Congress to change its policies on aid to Israel and aid to Palestine. The Act of Solidarity (which could be linked to civil disobedience, withholding taxes, etc.) would involve individuals, religious congregations, community organizations pledging to provide at least matching amount (i.e., $12-25/year per person) to Palestine and/or Palestine solidarity groups here in the US to offset US aid to Israel’s occupation. At the same time, those who pledge solidarity would send messages to Senators, representatives and US administration officials (White House, State Dept., USAID) that we demand the US to stop paying for occupation and we commit to support full human rights and self-determination for Palestine. This could be linked to other initiatives aimed at Congress, eg. the US Campaign's National Pledge for Peace. Please vote for 1 of the 3. Send in your vote and comments to us_campaign@endtheoccupation.org.

NEW RESOURCE MATERIALS


1. NEW PRIMER ON THE CONFLICT

The Trans-Arab Research Institute (TARI), which many of you may know from its work in organizing the right of return conference in Boston in April 2000, has just produced an excellent primer "Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict,” written by Phyllis Bennis. If your friends have ever asked "Why is there so much violence in the Middle East?" or "What caused the current crisis?" or "Why is the current level of violence so intense?"--this book is for them!

TARI, which is an endorsing organization of the US Campaign, is making free copies available to Campaign members. However, you will have to cover the cost of postage, by sending $2 per copy payable to TARI. Please send your orders to: M. Igram, 228 Central St., Lowell, MA 01852. Please make sure to identify yourself as a member of the US Campaign to get this offer.

2. NEW ON THE WEB
A. "Jews, Israel, and the United States: Talking Points for Jewish Activism" by Rachael Kamel
Available online at http://www.endtheoccupation.org/resources/news_articles/kamal.html. Rachael is a founding member of Jewish Mobilization for a Just Peace in Philadelphia and an activist with the US Campaign. Contact her at jmjp_philly@yahoo.com.

B. Fact Sheets

As we announced earlier this month, we've posted two US Campaign fact sheets as PDFs for easy downloading from the web: "Palestine and the Palestinians," and "Ending the Occupation: It's the Law."

C. Articles
We have posted several recent articles on our website which we think will be of use in organizing work.

1. "Do I Divest?" by Archbishop Desmond Tutu makes the case for divestment.

2. Five additional articles deal with the threat of the "transfer" of the Palestinians from the occupied territories under cover of a war against Iraq:

Between Armageddon and Peace: Iraq and the Israeli Occupation—Hanan Ashrawi
The '48 Nakba and the Zionist Quest for Its Completion—Ilan Pappe
Remapping the Middle East: Whose War Is It This Time—Naseer Aruri
Of War and Population Transfer—Terry Rempel
Israel May "Transfer" Palestinians During the War on Iraq—Will Youmans

3. A piece by Jonathan Steele in The Guardian on the Israeli army's refuseniks challenge to the legality of the occupation. This article has some very useful quotes for use by those who do public speaking on the issue. Not in Our Name is a good contact point here in the US for the refuseniks. You can email them at info@nimn.org.

CAMPAIGN RESOURCES

We have printed many “About the Campaign” flyers. While we do not have the resources to mail individual copies, you can download a PDF of the flyer from our website here. If you would like to place a bulk order (50 copies or more) for your organizing efforts and to encourage people and groups to join the Campaign, please email us at us_campaign@endtheoccupation.org and we will get them out to you as soon as possible.

To "knit" the nationwide movement against occupation, the Campaign is working on two resources:

1. A map of US organizations active against the occupation so that members can get a sense of who’s doing what and team up with like-minded organizations.

2. An email newsletter of actions planned and resources produced by organizations linked to the US Campaign (and other US-based groups). Several people responded to the Campaign Call for Volunteers earlier in October--thank you! They will be working on these two resources with Nancy Murray, who is handling Constituency Outreach on the Campaign Steering Committee and web coordinator Geoff Hartman. You’ll be hearing from both of them in the days ahead.

ACTIVITIES

Hundreds of people turned out during the speaking tour organized this month by the American Friends Service Committee, an endorsing organization of the US Campaign. Jean Zaru and Kathy Bergen spoke about “Hope in the Midst of Suffering: Responding to the Crisis.” The tour was designed to inform people about the daily life of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation, how US policy contributes to the continuing occupation, and what people in the US can do in response to the ongoing occupation. Jean and Kathy spoke in Portland, San Francisco, Pasadena, Phoenix, and Tucson. They addressed US policy and took the opportunity to distribute Campaign flyers and fact sheets.

Sincerely,
The Steering Committee US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation