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As Mideast transforms, so many avenues for us to change U.S. role

January 28, 2011

Dear Supporter,

With growing uncertainty about what the Middle East will look like tomorrow and the next day, the window is wide open for people of conscience to reach through and grab onto promising grassroots efforts to end the U.S. government's obstruction of democracy, peace, and justice in the region.

As the Palestinian people, struggling for their freedom and self-determination under Israeli military occupation and apartheid, are subjected to barrages of U.S.-supplied weapons as they protest for their rights, so too are people throughout the Arab world who are struggling against despotic, undemocratic regimes.

In Tunisia and Egypt, protesters seeking to nonviolently overthrow their governments are pelted with the same tear gas and rubber bullets -- supplied by the same U.S. corporations -- that Israel misuses to crack down on Palestinian dissent.

Unfolding events demonstrate that U.S. support for reactionary regimes is paper thin.  A staunch ally of yesterday, Ben Ali, was quickly abandoned. U.S. support for Mubarak appears equivocal. No doubt, the quality of U.S. support for Israel is of another caliber, but its continuation is by no means assured.     

As undemocratic regimes in the Arab world, propped up by U.S. support, teeter and fall under the weight of authentic grassroots democracy movements, Israel's stranglehold over the Palestinians appears more tenuous than ever.

Read on to find out how you can hasten the day when Palestinians overcome Israel's rule. Note especially our two exciting opportunities for you to learn how to influence U.S. policy more effectively -- our joint projects with Interfaith Peace Builders and the American Friends Service Committee. Both will provide volunteers with the skills to organize powerful grassroots initiatives and make an impact in the new U.S. Congress.

With great hope,
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Grassroots Advocacy Training & Lobby Day 2011

Join Interfaith Peace-Builders, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and other national groups for the Third Annual Grassroots Advocacy Training and Lobby Day in Washington, DC. The event will provide seasoned organizers and new activists with the skills and experience needed to make a real impact.

As the US-led 'peace process' hits new snags, the importance of grassroots action has never been greater! The latest election provides a new opportunity for citizens to engage United States policy.

Learn More & Register...

AFSC Campus Organizing Conference for Peace and Justice in Israel and Palestine 

On Saturday, March 5, 2011, join campus organizers for educational panels and interactive workshops!

Share Success Stories from Campus Activism, Blogs and Advocacy Campaigns. Learn how to Overcome Organizing Disasters and "Stump the Chump" with Area Experts. Workshops on Media & Messaging, Getting Started on Your Campus, Creative Actions, Building Bridges and Alliances.   

Speakers include: Rae Abileah, Maimouna Ahmed, Anna Baltzer, Jennifer Bing, Max Blumenthal, Shirien Damra, Felicia Eaves, Noura Erakat, Adam Horowitz, Mark Lance, Michael Merryman-Lotze, Rob Mosri, Abdelnasser Rashid, Miryam Rashid, Josh Ruebner, Brian van Slyke, and more.

Learn More & Register...

M E M B E R   G R O U P S

Protesters tell New York business to stop providing Israel's lethal tear gas

Adalah-NY, US Campaign member group

January 11, 2011 -- 35 protesters gathered during lunch hour outside the midtown Manhattan offices of Point Lookout Capital Partners, a New York firm that facilitates investment in Combined Systems Inc. CSI, based in Pennsylvania, sells tear gas to the Israeli army that the Israeli army has then used to kill and seriously injure unarmed protesters in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including on January 1, 36-year-old Jawaher Abu Rahmah from the village of Bil'in.

The New York protesters held signs with photos of Palestinians and international activists killed and severely wounded by Israeli tear gas canisters at protests, including Abu Rahmah and her brother Bassem, who was killed when shot directly with a canister in April, 2009, in addition to Khamis Abu Rahmah and Americans Tristan Anderson and Emily Henochowicz, who were severely injured by Israeli tear gas canisters fired directly at them in 2009 and 2010. The photos also showed tear gas canisters manufactured by CSI and financed through Point Lookout Capital.

More than 630 people, via email, have called upon the US State Department to take action to stop U.S. provision of tear gas and military aid to Israel until Israel ends human rights abuses.

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Member group designs T-shirt to fundraise for Gaza trip

Members of Corvallis-Albany Friends of Middle East Peace, a US Campaign member group, have created a unique T-shirt design, which they are printing and selling online to raise funds for a monthlong trip to Gaza next July. The group plans a cultural exchange program with Palestinian students, including a delivery of art supplies and cameras. The shirt's message, "Not a Fashion Statement," highlights the political significance of the kuffiyyeh, or traditional Arab scarf.

Buy the shirt here...

ACLU sues King County, wants Israel 'war crimes' bus ads to run

Keith Ervine, The Seattle Times, January 19, 2011

The ACLU of Washington held a press conference to announce the filing of a lawsuit against King County over its cancellation of an ad placed by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign
Courtney Blethen Riffkin / Seattle Times

The ACLU of Washington, representing a group that purchased a bus ad alleging Israeli war crimes, sued King County Wednesday over its decision to cancel the ad before it appeared.

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court claims that King County violated the group's First Amendment rights and asks the court to order the county to run the ad for four weeks on the sides of 12 buses, as Metro and its ad agency originally agreed to do.

Metro's initial acceptance of the ad from the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign prompted an onslaught of complaints by e-mail and phone, and three other organizations said they planned to run counter-ads portraying Israel as a victim of Palestinian terrorism.

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Analysis at our blog...

Youtube + Warner Music Group + Motorola = internet censorship

Anna Baltzer, US Campaign National Organizer
Mondoweiss, January 8, 2011

In a shocking move of selective and possibly unlawful censorship, Motorola's partner Warner Music Group (WMG) compelled YouTube to remove the "St. Louis Boycott Motorola" Flash Mob video seven days after it was posted last month.

Shortly after the viewer count hit 35,000, YouTube shut down the video, citing a copyright infringement claim by WMG. However, parodies of songs are protected under a U.S. Supreme Court decision in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose, and STL-PSC's video clearly constituted “fair use.” There are more than 1,000 Lady Gaga flash mob videos on YouTube and hundreds more parodying Beyoncé songs. Many of them are using the same song, and none of them have been shut down by WMG. What doesn’t WMG want the world to know about Motorola, and why not?

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Prison term extended for nonviolent protest organizer

Harriet Sherwodd, The Guardian UK, January 11, 2011

West Bank protester Abdallah Abu Rahmah is facing a further three months in prison after the Israeli military court of appeal today extended his sentence.

Abu Rahmah, a leader of protests against Israel's separation barrier in the village of Bil'in, was convicted in August of incitement and organising illegal demonstrations. This was criticised by Cathy Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, who described him as a "human rights defender committed to nonviolent protest against the route of the Israeli separation barrier."

Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa also condemned the conviction.

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Amnesty USA demands justice now for Gaza

Amnesty International USA, January 25, 2011

December 27th marked the second anniversary of the Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip that killed and injured hundreds, including over 300 children. Our friends at Amnesty USA have launched a campaign for justice and accountability for the victims of  "Operation Cast Lead."

Learn more and get involved.

Online film contest announces winners

The "It Is Apartheid" Collective and Stop the Wall have announced the winners of their contest for the best short films exploring Israeli apartheid, which are viewable on YouTube by clicking the links below.

The top winners of the "It Is Apartheid" film contest include:

Road Map to Apartheid -- Expert Panel Prize ($300) and Overall Prize ($500)

Confronting the Wall -- Palestinian Popular Jury Prize ($300)

Ali Wall -- Global Jury Prize ($300)

The winning films have begun to spread worldwide, with scores of public screenings in the Mideast, Australia, Canada, the United States and five European countries.

State of the Union:
"Really, Mr. President?"

PBS NewsHour, January 25, 2011

On the night of President Obama's State of the Union address, US Campaign's Steering Committee member Phyllis Bennis was included on a PBS NewsHour panel.  She took aim at the President over the misuse of U.S. military aid to Israel, including this excerpt:

President Barack Obama:
"...Of course, some countries don't have this problem. If the central government wants a railroad, they get a railroad – no matter how many homes are bulldozed."

Phyllis Bennis:
"Sounds like President Obama got it right, here – I assume the President is referring to the Israeli decision to build a light rail system on stolen Palestinian land across Occupied East Jerusalem and into the West Bank to provide transportation for Israeli settlers.  Way too many houses are still being bulldozed – usually with US-built Caterpillar D-9 bulldozers, specially built to allow the Israeli army to cover them with armor plating to make them into weapons of war... The US knows the bulldozers are being used illegally, in violation of the US Arms Export Control Act – but so far our government has done nothing.
...Is President Obama going to say anything about the latest failure in U.S.-brokered peace talks in the Middle East? Or is he just hoping we’re not paying attention, and that we're fine with paying $30 billion over these ten years directly to the Israeli military, money that could be used for 600,000 new green jobs here at home?"

Full commentary here...

C O M M E N T A R Y   &   P U B L I S H I N G

Obama is looking for new ideas in all the old places

Josh Ruebner, US Campaign National Advocacy Director

Politico's Laura Rozen reported  earlier this month that the White House has convened two different task forces to provide the Obama Administration with new ideas for moving forward its efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace.

At first glance, this would appear to be good news given the rut in which President Obama has got himself mired. An anonymous adviser to the White House stated the obvious: the Administration is "utterly stuck" on how to move forward with there being "no pretense of progress."

It's no wonder they're stuck. We've been arguing for nearly two years that the Obama Administration has had no coherent strategy either to truly freeze Israeli settlement building or manage direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on a basis that could have even a remote chance of success. Recent leaks from the Palestine Papers and Cable Gate cast doubt over whether these even have been actual policy goals.

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"I have been summoned to appear before a grand jury"

Maureen Murphy on CounterPunch.org, January 25, 2010

I have been summoned to appear before a federal grand jury in Chicago on January 25. But I will not testify, even at the risk of being put in jail for contempt of court, because I believe that our most fundamental rights as citizens are at stake.

I am one of 23 anti-war, labor and solidarity activists in Chicago and throughout the Midwest who are facing a grand jury as part of an investigation into "material support for foreign terrorist organizations." No crime has been identified. No arrests have been made. And when it raided several prominent organizers' homes and offices on Sept. 24, the FBI acknowledged that there is no immediate threat to the American public. So what is this investigation really about?

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Palestinians remove some eggs from the American basket

Noura Erakat, former National Organizer, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
ForeignPolicy.com, January 19, 2011

This year may bring a close to American mediation of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. Expectations, usually low, have collapsed in the face of an unwilling, and increasingly self-impeding, U.S. peace broker. Indeed, freezing settlement expansion, as opposed to removing them altogether as mandated by international law, was long regarded as the lowest hanging fruit in peace negotiations. President Obama himself emphasized that the Jewish colonies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories hindered peace efforts and securing Palestinian statehood.

Yet, on the heels of a rekindled peace process, the Obama administration failed to successfully push Prime Minister Netanyahu to extend a ten-month partial moratorium on settlement expansion. More tellingly, the U.S.'s failure was marked by Israel's public rebuff of its military aid incentive. Suffering no consequences, Israel chose to continue its expansionist policies and to retain its existing U.S. aid package, thereby demonstrating the hollow nature of American pressure.

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A Discussion of the leaked "Palestine Papers"

Rashid Khalidi, US Campaign Advisory Board member and Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, had this radio discussion with John J. Mearsheimer, Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, and Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of the Jerusalem Fund in Washington, DC.

With illegal Israeli settlement construction ongoing, American attempts to impose a settlement freeze and revive the long-faltering peace process have thus far proved unsuccessful. Will the Obama administration crack the code for achieving a lasting peace in the Mideast or will the impasse continue indefinitely?

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Against the Wall:
The Art of Resistance in Palestine

William Parry (author)
Book release: April, 2011

William Parry, a London-based photojournalist, is launching his book, Against the Wall: the art of resistance in Palestine, in North America this spring. This stunning book of photos captures the graffiti and art that has transformed Israel's wall into a living canvas of resistance and solidarity. Featuring the work of artists including Banksy, Ron English, Swoon, Faile, Blu and others, as well as Palestinian artists and activists, these photos express outrage, compassion and touching humor. They illustrate the wall's toll on lives and livelihoods, showing the hardship it has brought to tens of thousands of Palestinians, preventing their access to work, education and vital medical care.

American political cartoonist Joe Sacco describes the books as "a singular achievement – both a stunning photographic essay of how Israel's concrete wall has cut into Palestinian land and strangled whole communities and a powerful visual record of how local and international graffiti artists have battered it with their only weapons, paint and spray cans." Pink Floyd's Roger Waters says "This book is very beautiful and very ugly. The wall is very ugly, much of the art on it is very beautiful. This book helps to expose the ugly tyranny of oppression."

Having spoken throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe, Parry is organizing a speaking tour of North America starting in late March in Canada, and is available for dates in the US this spring, summer or autumn. The book is being published by Lawrence Hill in North America.

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L A S T   W O R D S

Browse our ever-expanding store shelves online

Our store features numerous apparel and office items, T-shirts, mugs, books, important books about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as well as Palestinian-made olive oil and soap products.

Shop Now...

Member Groups, Member Groups Everywhere!

To better aid our members' networking efforts, and to better gauge the coalition's regional diversity, we've mapped our 325-plus members, state-by-state! Don't see your group listed? Click here to join the US Campaign.