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Look Who's Talking

April 29, 2011

Above: Leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza, March 18, 2007. Photo: Reuters / Suhaib Salem

On Wednesday, Palestinian political parties Fatah and Hamas pledged to heal their 2007 split, announcing that they'll form a unified Palestinian government with elections within a year.

The news suggests that the parties are ready to abandon their divisions stemming from the fruitless, defunct, U.S.-led "peace process," and to approach the UN this fall with a new strategy to finally achieve Palestinian self-determination, freedom, and equal protection of their basic human rights as guaranteed under international law.

Irrespective of cynical dismissals from Washington and Israel--where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev yesterday declared "all the peace talks are over"--the Palestinian leaders appear determined to press for full UN membership of a State of Palestine this September.

Here at home, our movement to end U.S. support for Israeli occupation and apartheid is given renewed purpose by this news, but also renewed responsibility:  If Palestinians can bypass an unjust and seemingly immovable military and economic system upheld by the United States, then we must now redouble our efforts to ensure our government does not stand in the way.

Below, check out more of the bright ideas coming to fruition that help expose, delegitimize and challenge Israel's intolerable, U.S.-equipped apartheid rule over Palestinians. Also be sure to send us your feedback here, see our recent issues here, and read on!

Move Over AIPAC: Building a New U.S. Middle East Policy

CodePink (a US Campaign member group)

CODEPINK: Women for Peace, together with more than 100 peace and justice groups, is organizing a gathering in Washington, DC, May 21-24, 2011, and we hope you'll join us for this important national happening! Timed to coincide with the annual policy meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), we will bring activists and concerned citizens from around the country to learn about the extraordinary influence AIPAC has on U.S. policy and how to strengthen an alternative that respects the rights of all people in the region.

Join The Israel Lobby authors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, writer Alice Walker, Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, past American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee President Abdeen Jabara, Jewish Voice for Peace Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Israeli activist and researcher Dalit Baum, blogger/writer Laila El-Haddad, clown doctor Patch Adams, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, union organizer Bill Fletcher, analyst Phyllis Bennis, author Nadia Hijab, human rights advocate Anna Baltzer, and many more at Move Over AIPAC!

Learn More...

US Campaign welcomes eight new members to our nationwide coalition

Rana Libdeh, Membership & Outreach Coordinator

Following are the latest newcomers to our 350-strong coalition. It's great to have you!

BDS Earlham
United Methodist General Board of Church & Society
Students for Justice in Palestine: Earlham College
Students for Justice in Palestine: University of Vermont
South Florida Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions
Palestine Israel Working Group (PIWG)
Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine
University of New Mexico Coalition for Peace & Justice in the Middle East

Learn More...

Take Action: House Resolution Provides Israel Impunity for Gaza Crimes

The UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict found that Israel committed violations of human rights and international law, war crimes and possible crimes against humanity in Israel's 22-day onslaught against the Gaza Strip in 2008-09.

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering a bill to withhold payment of U.S. dues to the UN until it retracts the mission's findings, known as the Goldstone Report. Help us make sure the House doesn't do this. Our web site shows whether or not your representative supports the bill, and lets you send them a message.

Take Action Now...

Palestinians betrayed by Judge Goldstone:
Retraction of report condemning Israeli actions in Gaza flies in face of eyewitness accounts

By Laila El-Haddad, "Gaza Mom" blogger who will speak at Move Over AIPAC event announced above
The Baltimore Sun, April 18, 2011

On April 3, Judge Richard Goldstone, chairman of the fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict of 2009, published an op-ed in The Washington Post reconsidering one of the allegations in the report: that Israel intentionally targeted Palestinian civilians during the assault.

Judge Goldstone's co-authors, Hina Jilani, Christine Chinkin and Desmond Travers, sharply disagreed with him in a statement issued in the Guardian on April 14. In it, they stood by the report in its entirety, saying "there is no justification for any demand or expectation for reconsideration of the report as nothing of substance has appeared that would in any way change the context, findings or conclusions..."

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International Solidarity Movement Committed to Staying in Gaza

International Solidarity Movement, April 18, 2011

Above: The late Vittorio Arrigoni with Palestinian child in Gaza

Following the murder of our comrade and friend Viktor, activists of the International Solidarity Movement, would like to reiterate our commitment to remaining in Gaza. We will continue to work with and live among the Palestinian population as we continue the work which Vik was so committed too.

In these days of mourning, Palestinians have organized numerous memorials for Vik; they constantly remind us how sorry they are to have lost him, of how they loved him, his closeness, his affection, and his indignation at what is happening here in Gaza. We know that the group that perpetrated this horrible crime does not in any way represent the Palestinian society. The Palestinians of Gaza are our friends, our colleagues, and our reason for being here; we will continue to stand by their side.

Message Continues...

Calling Artists, Filmmakers to Create Short Promotional Videos

U.S. Boat to Gaza (a US Campaign member group), April 26, 2011

The U.S. Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope, is calling on artists, animators and filmmakers to develop and submit a 1-5 minute video about THE AUDACITY OF HOPE for mass-distribution on YouTube and through our networks. Help us raise the profile of the U.S. Boat to Gaza in the coming months before we sail in June 2011 with the Freedom Flotilla II.

The Audacity of Hope is committed to carrying powerful voices from this country to the people of Gaza -- those voices who are supporting this grassroots, human-rights mission which is working to help end the illegal U.S.-supported Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. We need your creativity to increase our visibility throughout this country.

Learn More...

Police training programs expose twin U.S.-Israel racism

Movement to End Israeli Apartheid - Georgia (a US Campaign member group)
Article by Hira Mahmood and Wafa Azari,
Electronic Intifada, 7 April 2011

Above: Atlanta Activists protest in 2006 after police killed 92-year-old Johnston. Photo: W.A. Bridges Jr. / AJC

The racism of the American "war on drugs," especially in the south, is notorious. So is the racism faced daily by Palestinians. In Atlanta, a university program allows these two manifestations of racism to feed off each other and community activists are organizing to shut the program down.
On the evening of 21 November 2006, the Atlanta Police Department's recently disbanded Red Dog Unit killed Kathryn Johnston, a 92-year-old Black resident of the northwest Atlanta neighborhood of English Avenue.

Organizers with the Movement to End Israeli Apartheid-Georgia (MEIA-G) read a newspaper article about the court proceedings following Johnston's brutal murder, stumbled upon a brief note about the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) and wondered what it was and how was it connected to Johnston's death.

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Israeli Government Again Reschedules Testimony of Col. Pinky Zuaretz

Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice, a US Campaign member group
April 26, 2011

(Haifa, Israel) -- In another round of last minute maneuvering, attorneys for the State in Corrie vs. State of Israel requested that testimony from their highest-ranking witness be postponed. Former Brigade Commander Colonel Pinhas (Pinky) Zuaretz, who was scheduled to testify on April 27, will not testify until May 22.

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Seattle billboards on Israel canceled after controversy

Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (a US Campaign member group)
Article by Vanessa Ho,
SeattlePI.com, April 28, 2011

Months after trying to place controversial ads about Israel on Metro buses, the Seattle group behind the ads said its latest effort to put a similar message on billboards has also been rejected.

The group, the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SeaMAC), said billboard company Clear Channel Outdoor had placed three of the group's signs last week and this week.

The signs say, "Equal rights for Palestinians - Stop funding the Israeli military."

But on Wednesday, Clear Channel announced it was canceling the contract, saying it re-evaluated its decision after people complained, according to SeaMAC.

"We don't understand what is objectionable about equal rights..." SeaMAC volunteer Ed Mast said Thursday, standing near billboard on Elliott Avenue West that once had his message.

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Say NO to U.S. Tax Breaks on Illegal Settlements

Free Palestine Movement (a US Campaign member group)

Please sign our petition demanding an end to 501(c)(3) nonprofit status for U.S. organizations that provide funding to promote the construction of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. The petition will be delivered to your senators and representatives, along with the complete list of petition signatures.

Sign Here...

Washington University Hip-Hop Program Revokes Invitation to Israeli Cultural Ambassador

St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee (a US Campaign member group)
April 8, 2011

The St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee (STL-PSC) welcomes the decision by program organizers to disinvite Israeli hip-hop artist Marvin Casey from Universal Beatz, a week of performances at Washington University in St. Louis by Middle Eastern rappers and dancers, due to begin on Monday, April 11, 2011. Casey's dance troupe, Tribe 13, is sponsored by the Jewish Agency for Israel, a Zionist organization that facilitates the immigration of Jews from around the world to Israel while denying the right of Palestinian refugees exiled from their homes and lands from returning. Today, the Jewish Agency for Israel continues to deny Palestinians the use of land in Israel and is connected to the initiative, "Brand Israel," which seeks to divert worldwide focus away from Israel's occupation and apartheid policies and towards its scientific and cultural institutions.

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Earlham College students launch divestment resolution

BDS Earlham (a US Campaign member group)

On April 14 a student group at Earlham College released its proposed resolution to divest their school from Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett Packard for the companies' involvement in the Israeli occupation.

Earlham is a private Quaker undergraduate college in Richmond, Indiana. BDS Earlham is composed of students of many nationalities, cultures and faith traditions, and members of a number of student organizations. Watch their video featuring students who are driving the divestment process.

Learn More...

Carleton divestment campaign pushes forward despite administration stonewalling

Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), Carleton Univ. (Canada)
Article by Dax D'Oorazio on
April 13, 2011

In January of 2010, SAIA-Carleton launched Canada's first university campaign aimed at divesting from the Israeli occupation. As ambitious as the project was, our group kept attracting new passionate and dedicated members, making it one of the largest, diverse and active student groups on campus. From there we began to build support among other campus elements including other student groups, unions, student associations, faculty, alumni and other community members. In about a year's time the campaign was no longer exclusively SAIA's - it now truly belongs to all of its supporters.

Although we had already faced multiple frustrating incidents with the Carleton administration over the past few years, the most recent responses from them have been a bit surprising. In fact, the ordeal is somewhat shocking considering the institution that shunned a considerable student movement on campus is supposedly predicated upon ideals of due process, accountability, student representation and fairness.

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Campus BDS Heating Up This Spring!

By Anna Baltzer, National Organizer, April 26, 2011

Above: Students' wall on the UA campus.

This spring, the weather is not all that's heating up! April has brought a burst of U.S. campus boycott and divestment initiatives following inspiring actions around the country on the BDS Day of Action, held on the annual Palestinian Land Day. Active campaigns in California, Arizona, Indiana and beyond are becoming a force to be reckoned with.

We are thrilled to welcome and support many of these campus groups as new members of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation!

See Some Exciting Initiatives...

U.S. Weapons to Israel Are Disincentives to Peace

By Josh Ruebner, National Advoacy Director, April 21, 2011

Israel may be forgiven for failing to realize the current fiscal woes of the United States. After all, U.S. military aid to Israel not only sailed unscathed through last week's passage of the 2011 budget, but reached the record level of $3 billion.

The United States additionally provided Israel $415 million for procurement, research and development of joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense projects, including $205 million to fund Israel's newly-deployed Iron Dome system.

This anti-missile battery already has altered significantly the strategic balance in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when Israel successfully shot down incoming rockets fired from the Gaza Strip earlier this month. With the assured diplomatic backing of the United States to prevent Israel from being held accountable by the international community for its illegal blockade, Iron Dome will embolden Israel to tighten its siege and escalate its attacks on the occupied Gaza Strip by providing its citizens with additional protection against retaliatory fire.

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Israel is an Apartheid State: A Note to the Vanguard Leadership Group

US Palestinian Community Network, April 27, 2011

On April 7th, 2011, an African American student group known as the "Vanguard Leadership Group" (VLG) sparked a flurry of activity and discussion with its circulation of a statement criticizing the use of the term "apartheid" by Palestine solidarity activists. In particular, in an article published in the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA), they alleged that "Students for Justice in Palestine has chosen to manipulate rather than inform with this illegitimate analogy."

We, the signatories of this statement, do not believe that "apartheid" is an inaccurate term to describe the conditions in Palestine. Apartheid is defined by the United Nations as, "inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them." The strategy of arguing over the term "apartheid" is intended to deflect the actual conditions that Palestinians face as a result of the institutionalized racism of the State of Israel.

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L A S T   W O R D S

The Flavor of Palestine

We've teamed up with our friends at Canaan Fair Trade to offer you Palestinian fair trade products delivered directly to your door. Buying CFT products is a great way to support Palestinian farmers and the US Campaign.

CFT olive oils make especially great gifts. Buy this Rumi Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a case of six 1-liter tins for $170. The Rumi Tree, cultivated in Palestine since the Roman Era, produces a robust and pungent olive oil with a buttery finish. It's USDA-certified organic, cold-pressed, extra virgin. Every tin sold sends $1 to Palestine Trees for Life, and an additional $1 for Canaan Scholarships.

Shop Now...

Member Groups, Member Groups Everywhere!

To aid our members' networking efforts and to better gauge the coalition's regional diversity, we've mapped our nearly 350 member organizations, state-by-state!  Click here to view the full list of groups.

Has your group joined us yet?

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