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By the light of Rachel's flame

March 25, 2011

On Wednesday, March 16, we marked the eighth anniversary of Rachel Corrie's stand in Rafah, Gaza, to nonviolently protect the home of a Palestinian family and the right of all Palestinians to be free from occupation.

Above: Palestinian children hold a memorial ceremony for Rachael Corrie in 2007. Photo: MaanImages / Hatem Omar
In Rachel's hometown of Olympia, Washington, and in Palestine and elsewhere around the world, people of conscience rededicated their focus on the pursuit of justice for the 1.7 million Gazans who continue to suffer severe restriction on imports, exports and freedom of movement (OCHA report here)...

...as well as further death and injury this week under heavy Israeli airstrikes (read this statement by our member group JVP).

The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice (a US Campaign member group) issued a statement saying:

"We remember and salute the courageous activists whose lives have been claimed this past year in nonviolent actions against Israeli policies or who have found themselves in prison because of their nonviolent resistance. ... In keeping with our memory of Rachel, we continue to listen to the voices of young people as they struggle worldwide to assert their visions for a democratic, free, and peaceful future; and we call on U.S. officials to listen, too, to be consistent in their demands that foreign governments and militaries be accountable for their actions and respect the right of people to assemble and protest."

The foundation is preparing to hold its annual "Peace Works" conference April 8-9 in Olympia, open to all, with a keynote presentation by veteran activist and author Alice Walker.

The Corrie Family also announced that its civil lawsuit in Israel over Rachel's death will resume on April 3 and 6, including the testimony of commanders who were in charge when Rachel was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer. Click here to get updates as the trial develops.

Be sure to send us your feedback here, see our recent issues here, and read on!

Take Action on March 30th:
Join the 3rd Global BDS Day of Action!

By Anna Baltzer, National Organizer

As popular uprisings continue across the Middle East, boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) organizing is heating up in the United States!

For Palestinian Land Day on March 30, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is calling on supporters around the world to unite in a March 30th Day of Action by organizing BDS activities supporting: divestment; consumer, cultural and academic boycott; legal action and media activism. Click here to read the full call.

Not sure what to do? There's something for everyone!

"Be on our side" billboards hit Albuquerque

Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel, a US Campaign member group

On March 8, 2011, the New Mexico-based Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel erected three billboards in Albuquerque, the third U.S. region reached by the "Be On Our Side" campaign, after Chicago and San Francisco.

The Albuquerque group also garnered attention for its 2009 billboards featuring images of an Israeli tank and a Palestinian girl.

"They inspired us and are now joining us in promoting a unified message and campaign that is spreading across the U.S.," CJPIP steering committee member Caren Levy-Van Slyke said.

This time the group opted to re-use the design of the Committee for a Just Peace in Israel & Palestine (CJPIP), a US Campaign member group in Chicago.

"We recognized immediately how their design could reach so many members of our community who are fed a media diet of myths and stereotypes about Palestinians and Israelis," Albuquerque coalition spokesperson Susan Schuurman said. "This powerful ad stresses the humanity and equality of both Palestinian and Israeli families who are both working for a justice-based peace. We urge other communities nationwide, small or large, to launch this same design in your city or town. If we can do it, so can you."

Similar ads have been dogged by conflict in San Francisco and Seattle, where authorities removed them after opposition groups placed counter-ads, or threatened to. The Seattle campaign ended up in a federal court case.

Learn More...

Miral hits theaters today

Director Julian Schnabel's Miral may be the first film with a Palestinian narrative to see major release across the United States. Miral opens today in New York and Los Angeles.

Starring Hiam Abbass and Freida Pinto, Miral is based on the autobiographical novel of Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal, and tells the story of three generations of Palestinian women from the perspective of a teenage girl who came of age during the First Intifada.

The film's U.S. debut was a controversial March 14 screening at the U.N. headquarters in New York, which was met with protest by Israel's delegation to the U.N., as well as prominent U.S.-based Jewish groups.

On April 1 Miral will open in more U.S. cities, including Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Oakland, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington, DC. It comes to Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth and Houston on April 15.

Electronic Intifada has an interview with Jebreal by Ali Abunimah, and scrupulous, critical reviews are offered by Omar El-Khairy and Adam Horowitz

Official Site...

Congress, don't cut UNRWA funding

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

In the coming weeks, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to debate, and very possibly cut or even eliminate, vital funding for the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA).

UNRWA provides critical programs and services, such as education, health care, vocational training, and emergency relief, to nearly 5 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The U.S. has been UNRWA's largest donor since UNRWA's founding more than 60 years ago.

As Ambassador Philip C. Wilcox recently stated:

"At a tumultuous turning point in the Middle East... America needs to reinforce its investment in human development and more dignified lives for Middle Easterners. Keeping faith with America's historic commitment to UNRWA is an essential way to confirm our nation's commitment to these ideals."

Please urge your member of Congress to maintain full U.S. funding for UNRWA and its vital programs.

Act Now...

On March 30, join the campaign to stop the JNF

Stop the JNF Campaign

The Global Day of Action on Palestinian Land Day, March 30, will include the launch of internationally coordinated campaigns to challenge the Jewish National Fund (JNF) as part of the global movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli occupation and apartheid.

The JNF, also known as Keren Kayemet LeIsrael (KKL), has been a primary vehicle for the theft of Palestine land since 1948. It enjoys charity status in more than 50 countries, despite its role in the ongoing displacement of indigenous Palestinians from their land, the theft of their property, the funding of settlements and the destruction of the natural environment.

To join the campaign to stop the JNF, sign the international call, include the JNF in your BDS and Palestine solidarity work, and bring the campaign to your city or region. Campaigns are already underway in the UK, other European countries, the US and Canada, while Palestinian and Israeli activists continue working to challenge the JNF on the ground.

Posters, multimedia presentations, fact sheets, petitions, pamphlets and other literature are available for anyone to use, especially on March 30.

Learn More, Take Action...

IFPB Summer 2011 delegations filling up quickly

Interfaith Peace-Builders, a US Campaign member group

As revolutions continue throughout the Middle East, now is the time to visit Israel/Palestine and discover the changes occurring on the ground and important work that continues to be done toward peace and justice in the region. Our summer delegations are filling up quickly and with spaces going fast, now is the time to apply!

Even if you're not ready to apply today, let us know if you're interested in one of our delegations by emailing office@ifpb.org or calling our office at 202-244-0821.

Learn More...

Birthright Unplugged announces 2011 trip

Birthright Unplugged, a US Campaign member group

Above: Birthright Unplugged participants on a Jerusalem tour.

Birthright Unplugged has announced details of its Summer 2011 trip to Palestine-Israel, running from July 10 through 16 and optionally including post-delegation, short-term volunteer placements.

The program is designed to support Palestinian civil society's call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli occupation and apartheid, and will take participants to Palestinian cities, villages, and refugee camps in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as internally displaced Palestinians inside present-day Israel. It will include a video conference call with people living and working in Gaza.

The journey will help participants develop an understanding of daily life under occupation and apartheid, as well as the history of the region told by people who are profoundly affected by these realities, yet under-represented in Western discourse. Participants can also share and discuss skills and strategies from their own organizing work, with a view to invigorating campaigns already active in their own communities.

Learn More...

"To Gaza With Love"

U.S. To Gaza, a US Campaign member group

The U.S. Boat to Gaza, the "Audacity of Hope," is committed to breaking the siege of Gaza by sailing a U.S. flagged ship in the International Freedom Flotilla this May. Around the country thousands of people have been contributing, organizing, fundraising and preparing to support the Audacity of Hope. Not everyone can sail on the boat, but many more are just as much a part of the campaign as the passengers and the crew.

We are happy to announce the launch of an exciting new effort, "To Gaza with Love," to collect letters from people in the U.S. to the people of Gaza. Your letters will be precious cargo on the ship.

The Audacity of Hope will challenge the complicity of the U.S. government in the isolation and imprisonment of Palestinians in Gaza. We are committed to breaking our government's support of Israeli military brutality and policies of "delegitimizing" Palestine and destroying Palestinian life. This campaign will add to those voices actively breaking the silence and confronting the lies and distortions.

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Sacramento co-op board rejects vote on proposed Israeli products boycott

By Maggie Coulter, the Daily Censored
March 23, 2011

What started out as a question of whether the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op should stop carrying certain products based on human rights considerations has now become a matter affecting the co-op's very democracy.

In an effort prevent co-op members from voting on product boycotts, the co-op board has eliminated its long-standing boycott policy, done away with open comments at board meetings, and is seeking to eviscerate member's ability to put initiatives before a vote of the full membership as provided in the co-opís bylaws.

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L A S T   W O R D S

Make Spring Cleaning softer, more natural, while uplifting Palestinian farmers.

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.