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Mubarak falls: What it means for our movement

February 11, 2011

As the week began, we launched a petition asking U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice to vote in favor of a UN Security Council resolution reaffirming the illegality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Thanks to your help, our petition has already collected 8,000 signatures. Please help us reach our goal of 10,000 by spreading the word here.

In this Occupation End Notes we highlight the ongoing crisis in Egypt with a special emphasis on what it means for our movement to change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights, international law, and equality.

Our government's regrettable support for rights-abusing governments around the Middle East demands to be confronted by greater numbers of skilled activists.

Preparations continue (with our member groups AFSC and IFPB) for three whole days packed with valuable training activities to empower you to change U.S. policy toward the Middle East to support human rights, international law, and equality! Consider attending March 5 and/or March 6-7.

We hope you enjoy this edition. Be sure to send us your feedback here, and read on!

In solidarity,
Joshua Hough, Communications Director

E G Y P T  I N  C R I S I S

Editor's Note: At the time of this publication, we've just learned of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's final decision to resign immediately, spelling change and spellbinding implications for the entire region, including Palestine/Israel.

To support democracy in Egypt, suspend U.S. military aid

By Hany Khalil, US Campaign Advisory Board member,
Guest Commentator, BlackCommentator.com, Feb. 10, 2011

As an Egyptian American, I welcome the Egyptian people's call for President Mubarak to go. So should all of us, for democracy will be good for Egyptians and Americans both.

For thirty years Mubarak's authoritarian government has held down the Egyptian people with an iron fist. Under emergency laws imposed in 1981, Egypt's hated security police routinely violate basic civil liberties guaranteed in our own Bill of Rights. Freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, the right to a speedy and fair trial - none are protected in Egypt. Dissent is rewarded with indefinite detention without charge, beatings, and torture.

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Action Alert: Contact U.S. State Dept. & tear gas manufacturer CSI

Adalah-NY, a US Campaign member group, Feb. 6, 2011

Above: The headquarters of Combined Systems, Inc., flies U.S. and Israeli flags behind the sign for Combined Tactical Systems, a division of CSI that makes tear gas weapons.

Egyptians, Americans and people worldwide have been outraged by the photos, Tweets and news articles showing that the tear gas canisters fired by Egyptian police toward peaceful, pro-democracy protesters in Egypt are "Made in USA."

While we are seeing these now from Egypt, we have seen similar canisters in recent months from Tunisia and Palestine. All three places have had in common repressive governments armed by U.S. companies. All three have used extreme violence against unarmed protesters demanding basic human rights.

In all three places, Combined Systems, Inc., based in Jamestown, Pennsylvania, is providing the tear gas used by these governments to crush protest, deny human rights and cling to power.

WRITE NOW to the U.S. State Department and tell them to stop using U.S. tax dollars to provide tear gas and other weapons. WRITE NOW to executives of CSI and their major investors, Point Lookout Capital Partners and the Carlyle Group, demanding that CSI stop providing tear gas to repressive governments like Egypt, Tunisia and Israel.

Learn more & take action...

Egypt on the Brink -
And the U.S. on the wrong side

By Phyllis Bennis, US Campaign Steering Committee member, Feb. 9, 2011

The people of Egypt have an enormous task challenging their own government. Our job is to challenge ours.

Now comes the hard part. On February 7, the popular mobilization in Cairo and elsewhere seemed to have crested. The "normalization" of daily life in Cairo loomed closer. But on February 9, the regime's claim that the revolt had been packaged, contained, and put on a shelf collapsed, as hundreds of thousands of Egyptians once again poured into their streets. Overflowing Tahrir Square, claiming the streets surrounding Parliament, and filling the streets of cities across the country, well over a million Egyptians reasserted and expanded their revolution's unity, breadth and power.

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IMEU Conversation: What Egypt means for human rights in the region

Institute for Middle East Understanding, Feb. 10, 2011

The geo-political dynamics of the Middle East have changed for good. The issues of human rights, Israeli-Palestinian peace, and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East have become urgent questions worthy of re-examination and re-contextualization. The IMEU offers an in-depth on-the-record conversation with the following experts to help make sense of the region's rapidly shifting landscape:

Ahdaf Soueif: Egyptian-British author and political and cultural commentator.

Sarah Leah Whitson: director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Ahmed Moor: Cairo-based Palestinian-American freelance journalist.

Hear conversation...

M E M B E R   G R O U P S

In wake of Israeli "whitewash" of flotilla assault, U.S. activists determined to sail in spring

US to Gaza, a US Campaign member group, Jan. 28, 2011

The Israeli government's newly-released "Turkel Commission Report," justifying last year's attack on a Turkish ship carrying human rights activists to Gaza, was "nothing less than a whitewash" in the eyes of an American group preparing for a similar voyage this spring. The Israeli military's assault on the 600-passenger Mavi Marmara killed nine of the passengers, including one U.S. citizen, and in some cases in a manner consistent with execution.

Hannah Schwarzschild, speaking for U.S. TO GAZA, the group organizing "The Audacity of Hope," a U.S. ship that will attempt to break the illegal Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territory in April, termed the Turkel Commission report "a public relations move as opposed to a serious inquiry into what amounted to an act of reckless state-sponsored piracy in international waters -- a military attack on unarmed civilians engaged in a peaceful human rights mission."

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Battle over Mideast transit ads heating up across U.S.

By Ben Harris, Feb. 8, 2011

The Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine is planning to expand these ads opposing military aid to Israel to other American cities.

NEW YORK (JTA) -- With public bickering over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict already having spilled over into university student senates, corporate pension boards and even local farmers markets, the latest battlefield in the debate over the conflict is municipal transit systems.

In several major U.S. cities, advertisements on public buses and municipal rail stations are designed to galvanize public opinion to end U.S. military aid to Israel or to pressure Palestinians to end anti-Jewish incitement. In some cases, the ads have been deemed so inflammatory that local authorities have tried to restrict or ban them outright, leading to frustration on both sides and, in one case, a federal lawsuit.

A group calling itself the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, with the help of the local American Civil Liberties Union chapter, filed a lawsuit in Seattle last month charging that the group's First Amendment rights were violated when the local transit system reneged on an agreement to carry its ad opposing aid to Israel.

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Take Action: Tell U.S. to support UN Resolution on settlements

US Campaign, Feb. 7th, 2011

On Jan. 27, an Israeli settler shot dead Odai Qadous, an 18-year-old shepherd tending his flock of sheep near his West Bank village of Iraq Bourin. The very next day, more than 100 Israeli settlers stormed the West Bank village of Safa; during the melee that ensued, a settler killed 15-year-old Yousef Ekhlil with a gunshot to his head.

Don't let settlers win at the UNAs the UN Security Council prepares to debate a resolution on Israel's settlements, the tragic deaths of Odai and Yousef serve as a stark reminder that not only are Israel's 150 settlements in the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal. Not only do they prevent Palestinian statehood, freedom and self-determination...

...Odai and Yousef's killings also remind us that the half million Israeli settlers, protected by the U.S.-equipped Israeli army, are responsible for some of the most egregious human rights abuses suffered by Palestinians day-in and day-out

Please add your name right now to our petition to the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, asking her to vote in favor of this resolution.

Learn more & take action...

Take Action: Orange County DA using prosecution to persecute students

MPAC, Feb. 9, 2011

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) calls on the Orange County (CA) District Attorney to drop charges against UC Irvine students who protested during a speech delivered by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren last year, calling the decision to press charges "an outrageous display of political grandstanding and selective prosecution."

The students were already disciplined by the university administration last fall, making the DA's action excessive. Even Prof. Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine Law School who opposed the students' actions last year, has come out publicly against the charges.

Today, 100 UCI professors joined in Chemerinsky by signing a letter asking the DA to drop charges against the students.

Call the DA's office today and urge him to drop all charges against the students. Ask for Ron Fraiser when calling (714) 834-3600. Remember to be polite and non-reactive.

Learn more...

President Obama, We know how to help cut the deficit -- End Aid to Israel

US Campaign, Jan. 26, 2011

Above: Our interactive map at www.aidtoisrael.org

President Obama drew bipartisan applause during his State of the Union address when he called for reducing our country’s growing deficit and staggering debt.

We agree with these goals and want to do our part to help. As the President prepares to send his FY2012 budget request to Congress next week, we recommend that he cut the deficit by eliminating his anticipated, record-breaking request for $3,075,000,000 in military aid to Israel.

We're excited to re-launch our campaign to challenge military aid to Israel in 2011.  Our interactive map at www.aidtoisrael.org shows how much money your city, county, Congressional district and state provide in military aid to Israel. It also shows you the quantity of health care, education, housing and jobs training this money could purchase instead.  

Learn more & take action...

Al-Quds University seeks help with cost of U.S. textbook shipment

Al-Quds University in Jerusalem is awaiting a shipment of 7,000 badly needed textbooks, mostly in the field of medicine, which sit in a warehouse in Cambridge, MA.  The university has received permission from Israeli authorities to receive the books, but $18,000 must be raised in the U.S. to cover the cost of the books and their shipping before the books can move.  The Israeli permit is valid for only one month, so contributions are needed quickly.  To help, send yours to the Sabre Foundation, 876 Massachusetts Ave., Suite 2-1, Cambridge, MA 02139.  Please specify that your donation is for the Research and Education Collaborative with Al-Quds University.

Professor re-hired by Brooklyn College after accusation of being pro-Palestinian

Huffington Post, Feb. 1, 2011

Brooklyn College officials announced Monday [Jan. 31] that they have re-hired adjunct professor Kristofer Petersen-Overton after dismissing him last week for an alleged lack of experience, a move that set off a fiery discussion on academic freedom.

On Jan. 27, Petersen-Overton was told that he lacked the requisite qualifications to teach a master's course entitled Politics of the Middle East. But Petersen-Overton and his supporters suspected that the discharge was linked to New York State Assemblyman and Brooklyn College graduate Dov Hikind's denouncement of his left-leaning politics, submitted to the school shortly before the adjunct was let go.

The incident prompted widespread censure of the college, with students and professors rallying behind Petersen-Overton and calling his dismissal an affront to academic freedom.

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Next Steps for Boycotters
= Dance Steps!

US Campaign, Feb. 3, 2011

All over the Middle East, people are taking creative action in support of freedom and self-determination, reminding the world that people united can make a difference.

Inspired by the people of Egypt, what creative actions can we take to support Palestinian freedom and self-determination through BDS? One that is gaining popularity is the flash mob, a sudden assembly of people in a public place to perform an unusual and brief act, and then quickly disperse.

Are you running a BDS campaign, but unsure how to take the next step? Are you looking to energize your group and draw new people? A flash mob might be just what you're looking for!

Learn more...

Palestinians call on all people of conscience: Come visit Palestine this summer

Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, former member, US Campaign Steering Committee, Feb. 1, 2011

Palestinian civil society organizations and peace and human rights defenders and activists on the ground call on civil society organizations and people of conscience around the world to come to Palestine on July 8 for a week of fellowship, peace-building and direct action. You will be accommodated locally and contribute to a program of networking, fellowship, and peace work in Palestinian towns and villages, including land reclamation.

We are working to bring together 1,000 Westerners and more than 1,000 Palestinians for this program, which includes time in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah, the Jordan Valley, and the Negev (including Erez Checkpoint). We look for volunteers to join our planning committees for: logistics, media, outreach, program, and international relations. In the meantime, please distribute this call to your networks!

Learn more...


U.S. Veto on Israeli Settlements Resolution Would Be Nadir for Obama

Josh Ruebner, US Campaign National Advocacy Director, Feb. 10, 2011

The United Nations Security Council is expected to vote, possibly this month, on a resolution reaffirming that Israel's 150 settlements in the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem "are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace."

One would reasonably expect the Obama Administration to support this resolution as the president himself "does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," as stated in his June 2009 address in Cairo to the Muslim world.

But instead, the Obama Administration is threatening to use its veto in the Security Council once again to protect Israel from abiding by international law. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that "New York is not the place to resolve the longstanding conflict and outstanding issues between the Israelis and the Palestinians."

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