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Friends don't let "friends" run an occupation. --Laila El-Haddad

March 11, 2011

This Occupation End Notes follows our full week of events in Washington attended by people of conscience far and wide.

In last Tuesday's public briefing on Capitol Hill (click here to watch), organized by the US Campaign and our partners AFSC and IFPB, a Palestinian from Gaza and an Israeli ex-soldier candidly explained the madness of U.S. support for militaristic Mideast regimes like Israel's, claiming it must be challenged now more than ever.

In the scene pictured above, our moderator Helena Cobban asked Palestinian journalist Laila El-Haddad what the people of Gaza would ask from the United States Congress:

"Freedom. We don't want food, we don't want humanitarian assistance. We want jobs, we want to be productive ... freedom to study in the West Bank or at other universities, freedom to farm without being killed ... freedom to fish more than three nautical miles into the sea ... But these are exactly [what] U.S. policy and unrestricted aid ... prevent ordinary Palestinians from doing."

Elik Elhanan, Israeli cofounder of Combatants for Peace, added:

"The impact of military aid to Israel is terrible ... Once you stop, maybe Israel will have to think rationally. But as long as you finance this addiction to violence, change will be almost impossible ... You also cannot think of [Palestinians] anymore as "them." And you have to ask them what they want. This is a leap that the militarist mind is unable to make."

Watch our video of the whole congressional briefing, and draw some action ideas for yourself in the articles below. Be sure to send us your feedback here, see our recent issues here, and read on!

O U R  M E M B E R  G R O U P S

AIPAC members get chilly reception at Portland dinner

Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights, a US Campaign member group

About 100 activists in Portland, Oregon, protested outside an annual regional AIPAC fundraiser for two hours last Sunday. With numerous signs and banners created for AIPAC fundraisers of years past, they chanted "No support for apartheid!" and peacefully stood their ground among police officers.

Held at a Jewish center and billed as the largest pro-Israel political event in Oregon, the dinner was also attended by Democratic Representative David Wu, who warned his audience about the 100 protesters waiting outside the building.

View Photos...

Sharif Abdel Kouddous Brings Egypt's People's Revolution to Peace Works

Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice, a US Campaign member group

Sharif Abdel Kouddous is a senior producer for the independent TV and radio show, Democracy Now!, where he has worked since 2003. He has covered news stories around the world, reporting from Baghdad during the Iraq war, New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and Haiti in the days after the January 2010 earthquake.

Sharif is now back from Egypt after several weeks reporting on the uprising against the regime of President Hosni Mubarak. He will open the Peace Works Conference Friday morning with The Egypt Revolution: Implications For A New Middle East.

Learn More...

Blowback: Weapons of Mideast oppression, 'Made in U.S.A.'

Los Angeles Times Opinion Page, 3 March 2011
By Patrick Connors of Adalah-NY, a US Campaign member group

The Times' Feb. 22 article, "Britain, Italy condemned for Libya ties," provides helpful insight into the uproar caused by British and Italian military aid to Libya. However, readers would be well served by further information on how, with our government's support, U.S. companies have provided military and crowd-control equipment that has propped up authoritarian governments throughout the Middle East.

Rather than seeing the U.S. as spreading freedom, Arabs who have taken to the streets have experienced "Made in U.S.A." tear gas used by repressive governments to kill and maim unarmed protesters and crush popular movements for justice.

Article Continues...

Minnesotans educate their State Board of Investments about Israeli apartheid

Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign, a US Campaign member group

On Thursday, March 3, more than 40 Break the Bonds Campaigners and supporters packed the quarterly Minnesota State Board of Investments meeting to declare that the people of Minnesota do not want their money funding Israel's actions.

Although they were not officially given a spot on the agenda, a group of BBCers were able to read legal and moral arguments for divestment of Minnesota money from Israel Bonds and thus Israeli atrocities.

MN BBC was represented at the meeting by students, teachers, lawyers, journalists, parents, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Palestinian refugees, professionals, lay people and more.

Article Continues...


Rock Star Roger Waters: "BDS Yes."

Al-Jazeera, March 3, 2011

Above: Click to watch Waters' conversation with Riz Khan on AlJazeera English.

Roger Waters, the legendary musician and founder-member of the iconic band Pink Floyd, talks to Al Jazeera about his passionate campaign for the rights of the Palestinian people.

More than 30 years after he wrote the globally-acclaimed album The Wall, Waters focuses on another wall - the Israeli separation barrier in the West Bank - which has encroached into Palestinian territory and has caused untold hardships for its people.

The rock star is urging the Israeli government to "tear down the wall."

Watch Interview...

CANCELED (thanks to student activists) - NYU speech by IDF commando who attacked the Mavi Marmara

Thursday, March 10
US Boat to Gaza, US Campaign member group

Students for Justice in Palestine at NYU and others had called for a protest at the scheduled speech by an Israeli commando on Thursday evening at NYU's Silver Center.

"Amir" was one of the first Israeli military personnel to illegally board the Mavi Marmara, a ship in the Freedom Flotilla that was headed to Gaza on May 31, 2010. During the assault by the Israelis, nine unarmed human rights activists were killed and more than 50 wounded.

The NYU protest was quickly gathering momentum in a very short time, and that sent a strong message: "We will not sit by quietly while war criminals are welcomed and hailed as heroes in our universities."

Learn More...

Annual Israeli Apartheid Week extended

By Israeli Apartheid Week

Israeli Apartheid Week organizers across the globe are gearing up for the seventh year of actions in support of Palestinian civil society's call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS). Last year's IAW was a success, with more than 55 cities worldwide joining the week to end Israelís apartheid.

Due to the popularity of Israeli Apartheid Week IAW has extended the "week" to allow campuses, organizations and regions on different schedules to participate:
March 7-20, Global
March 21-26 United Kingdom

To make getting involved even easier, they have made a list of regional representatives who will help you in this process. They will make sure you have the IAW organizing packet, answer any questions you may have, help you get your event posted on the IAW website and help you connect with other IAW organizers and events in your area.

Learn More...

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

Palestine Justice Network

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 between July 8-19 for fellowship and actions. Entering Palestine through Ben Gurion airport in hundreds of people over 26 hours will send a message that we want Israel to recognize the basic human right to enter Palestine by those who want to visit us.  See the Right to Enter Campaign here.

Palestinians throughout historic Palestine and in exile still believe in and work for peace based upon justice and trust that with the help of the international community we will achieve our peace and freedom and restore the values and principles that we share as human beings.

Learn More...


The "Only Democracy in the Middle East"? Hardly.

As pro-democracy and freedom movements sweep the region, Israel's policies look more retrograde.

By Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director
Huffington Post, March 3, 2011

Ever since Israel began to transition from a charity case to a strategic partner of the United States--an evolutionary process from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s--its supporters in the U.S. political arena have brandished a variety of arguments to justify the unusually close relationship.

From Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser's Czech arms deal and subsequent embrace of the Soviet Union in 1955 until the dissolution of the bipolar superpower system in 1991, Israel's supporters maintained that this Western bastion served U.S. interests by thwarting the advance of Communism in the Middle East.

The abrupt end of the Cold War necessitated a new argument, and the rising lethality of transnational terrorism in the 1990s and 2000s provided one: Israel and the United States shared a common enemy and struggle in the "war on terror." In a shell-shocked post-9/11 political environment, this talisman did the trick well for a time. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon encapsulated this meme just two days after September 11, declaring to Secretary of State Colin Powell that Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat "is our Bin Laden."

Article Continues...

Book Review:
Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa

By Nicola Barr, The Guardian
Abulhawa is a member of the US Campaign Advisory Board

Susan Abulhawa

In the 1948 Nakba, the "catastrophe" that was the invasion of Palestine leading to the founding of Israel, a baby boy is snatched from his Palestinian mother by an Israeli soldier and delivered to his wife, to be brought up hating Palestinians. Then he meets his twin brother. It's a simple and artful conceit to humanise the cruelty of the Palestinian plight. And interestingly, Abulhawa chooses not to make it the centre of her novel.

Rather, Mornings in Jenin is the story of Amal, the twin boys' sister. Orphaned and injured in the 1967 war, she leaves the Jenin refugee camp in which she has grown up for a Jerusalem orphanage, and then faces her early adult years alone in Pennsylvania. She becomes Amy ("Amal without the hope"), and on her return to Lebanon falls in love, only to meet with further tragedy and heartbreak. This is a brave, sad book that tells the story of a nation and a people through tales of ordinary lives lived in extraordinary circumstances. Unsensational, at times even artless, it has a documentary feel that allows events to speak for themselves, and is all the more moving for it.

Review Continues...

Book Review:
Atlas of the Conflict, by Malkit Shoshan

By Yousef Munayyer,
Executive Director of the Palestine Center, a US Campaign member group

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been characterized as being about several things. Some argue it's about ethnicity, some say religion, while still others say politics or ideology. Whatever your persuasion, there is one undeniable reality about this conflict: it's a people struggling to stay connected to their land. The territorial aspect lies at the heart of every facet of the Palestinian struggle, whether it's the location of depopulated villages, the border that denotes the boundaries of Jerusalem or the Armistice Line which separates territory recognized as occupied from that which is recognized as Israel.

Maps tell the story of the Palestinian cause better than any testimony from a refugee, than any human rights report, than any party or leader. The documentation, in black and white, of one people usurping the land of another, year after year, decade after decade, is a simple and straightforward explanation of exactly how the injustice facing the Palestinians was and continues to be carried out.

Review Continues...

L A S T   W O R D S

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Our unscented olive oil soap is hand-cut into 3 oz. rounds and wrapped in a new descriptive label. Order your case of 12 or 48 (save big with the large case). The soap is handmade in the traditional way by women's cooperatives around the West Bank, using certified organic and fair-trade Palestinian olive oil, plus fair-trade coconut oil from Sri Lanka. Find it in our store, and also check out our bumper stickers, buttons, coffee mugs, art by Carlos Latuff, and much more.

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.