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Global Rallies as Commemoration of Nakba Nears

May 13, 2011

Above: Poster announcing New York City's premiere Nakba commemoration event for 2011 (click image for details).

Sunday marks 63 years of Palestinian dispossession since "Al-Nakba" or "the catastrophe." Right now, in a movement organized with active participation of youth, Palestinians are seizing the occasion to organize homeward marches.

These will draw Palestinians living in refugee camps, in the occupied territories, within Israel, and in exile, as well as thousands of Palestinian solidarity activists worldwide.

In the months before and after May 15, 1948, more than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forced out by Zionist armed forces and the Israeli military, and became refugees throughout the world. Israel razed more than 400 Palestinian villages and barred the refugees from ever returning to their land -- even though this right is enshrined in international law and UN resolutions.

In the coming week, the marches and demonstrations will attest to the Palestinian determination to struggle for freedom from occupation, equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and justice through the refugees' right of return.

From here in Washington, DC, to Atlanta to the Bay Area to Boston to Detroit to New York City to Seattle to St. Louis (to name a few), dozens of U.S. communities, including many of our member groups, will hold events of commemoration, solidarity, outreach and education to transform U.S. support for Israeli occupation and apartheid into support for human rights, international law and equality.

Below we offer you a sampling of the latest, most compelling initiatives toward that end, by our member groups and others. Be sure to send us your feedback here, see our recent issues here, and read on!

Revisit "Expressions of Nakba" web site for audiovisual feast

Above: Winner of our visual arts award, by Anne Paq.

The US Campaign was founded with the mission to change U.S. policy toward this conflict so that it upholds the application of international law and human rights.

At the Nakba's 60th anniversary in 2008, we organized the first-ever international competition for the most creative artistic rendition of the Nakba and the right of return. Enjoy the extraordinary results at our web site...


Alice Walker:
"This Is the Freedom Ride of this Era."

By US To Gaza (a US Campaign member group), May 10, 2011

Above: Watch video featuring Alice Walker.

50 years ago, on May 4, 1961, the first bus of the Freedom Rides left Washington, DC, headed to New Orleans, with people committed to challenging segregation. The Freedom Rides were one of the sparks that contributed to a movement to dismantle a degrading system that violated human rights.

In an interview with organizers from The U.S. Boat to Gaza, Alice Walker, one of our nation's foremost contemporary writers and the first African-American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize, likened the planned Gaza "Freedom Flotilla II" to the Freedom Rides. In the U.S. the racist system of segregation was challenged; in South Africa the racist system of apartheid was challenged; in Palestine the racist system of occupation and apartheid, enforced by the Israeli government and supported by the U.S government, is being challenged and will come to an end.

Article Continues with Video...

Cornell students publish second annual journal, "Notes on Palestine/Israel"

By Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine (a US Campaign member group)

The occupation of Palestine will not end, but will only be managed differently, unless the regional system of military aid, client states, and despotism -- in a word, imperialism -- also ends.

The good thing about a task this large is that one may start nearly anywhere. To this end, we've assembled this second volume to contribute our voices, critiques, and experiences to the mix, in the hopes that you find them informative, engaging, provocative, and useful:

Max Ajl presents a view of the occupation from within Gaza, and Dan Sinykin relays his experience, on a Birthright trip, of the Israeli vision that blinds itself to Gaza. Howard Botwinick describes the burgeoning TIAA-CREF divestment campaign, and Beth Harris recounts her visit to the settler-targeted West Bank village of Iraq Burin. Kevin McGinnis traces the colonialist affiliations between the foundational myths of America and Israel, and Sayres Rudy concludes the collection with an extended meditation on the uses and abuses of the apartheid comparison.

Download Journal in PDF...

Power of BDS affirmed by its critics

By Anna Baltzer, National Organizer, May 12, 2011

Are boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) proving effective as a form of pressure to isolate Israel and end its violations of Palestinian rights? We at the US Campaign think so, but you don't have to take our word for it.

Two recent articles in the Jewish Daily Forward and the Israeli daily newspaper Ha'aretz have affirmed the power of the growing BDS movement in placing a cost on Israel's occupation and apartheid policies. The Forward's piece, "Survey of Campus BDS Finds Few Serious Cases," sets out to diminish concern over the recent surge in campus BDS campaigns, but ends up making the case as well as anyone could for how and why ongoing BDS campaigns -- on-campus and off- -- are succeeding!

Article Continues...

AHAVA promotional campaign on Twitter jammed with BDS messaging

By Maureen Clare Murphy on Electronic Intifada, May 11, 2011

The Stolen Beauty campaign focusing on a boycott of Ahava cosmetics, which are illegally manufactured in the occupied West Bank using Palestinian natural resources, has launched a culture jamming initiative currently underway on Twitter:

[Ahava is] calling on people to Tweet skincare questions with the hashtag #AHAVAreborn ... a chance to win $300 worth of Mineral Magical Skincare...
We are asking Ahava boycott supporters to use the hashtags #AHAVAreborn & #stolenbeauty...

So many people have responded to this call that I can't see any tweets that aren't about BDS and Israel's rights abuses when searching "#AHAVAreborn" on Twitter. AHAVA is having an increasingly hard time covering up its human rights blemishes. It is has been dropped from retail stores in Canada and the UK and taken to court in France. As The Electronic Intifada reported last June, "Bad publicity caused Sex & the City star Kristin Davis to be dropped as a spokesperson for Ahava and as a goodwill ambassador for the international organization Oxfam after activists called on her to end her paid promotional appearances for Ahava."

Learn More...

Ambassador Charles Freeman to speak at Move Over AIPAC

By CodePink (a US Campaign member group), May 6, 2011

We are pleased to announce that Ambassador Charles Freeman will be presenting his book America's Misadventures at the Move Over AIPAC Conference on Saturday, May 21, at 12:30 pm. Freeman has served as an American diplomat in China, Thailand and Africa, and as the United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1989 to 1992.

Freeman was nominated in 2009 as chair of the National Intelligence Council because of his diverse background in defense, diplomacy and intelligence. News of his nomination infuriated the pro-Israel lobby and AIPAC launched a libel campaign against him. Ultimately, Freeman withdrew his nomination, publicly stating that, "I do not believe the National Intelligence Council could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack by unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country."

Learn More...

Take Action: Boycott Bibi!

Members of Congress often declare that the United States is Israel's "best friend." As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu prepares to address a joint meeting of Congress later this month, it is time for us to wake up members of Congress and tell them that the United States must end its support for Israeli apartheid against Palestinians.

Sign our petition to members of Congress demanding they boycott Bibi's address. Help us reach our goal of 10,000 signatures and we'll personally deliver your signature to House Speaker John Boehner, who invited Netanyahu to address Congress.

Learn More & Take Action...

Students to Board: "We will push you until you divest."

Cooper Point Journal, May 12, 2011
"TESC Divest!" is a student group at The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA

Above: On-campus representation of a refugee camp by student group "TESC Divest!" Click to enlarge.

The Evergreen State College Board of Trustees' May 11 meeting was mobbed with students and community members full of opinions on the campus divestment movement.

Evergreen alum Anna-Marie Murano vehemently demanded that the Trustees obey the student election supporting divestment. "So far, the board of trustees has failed us. The president [of the college] has failed us," she said.

Article Continues...

Gaza Blockade Quiz draws attention to Palestinian plight

By Anna Balzter, National Organizer, May 10, 2011
Madison Area Peace Coalition is a US Campaign member group

Above: Madison Area Peace Coalition's Blockade Quiz

Cinnamon or cumin, chocolate or coffee, fishing line or toilet paper - which of these household items are allowed into Gaza under the Israeli blockade? Shoppers at the Madison, Wisconsin farmers' market were challenged to test their knowledge by taking the "Gaza Blockade Quiz." Each participant was asked to identify banned items from a table of everyday products.

"This is a real eye-opener," said one college student. Many contestants stayed after taking the quiz to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Others gathered around to watch the game being played. This provided an opening to ask shoppers how they would get by without fabric or vegetable seeds or toys for their children. Many were shocked by the capricious nature of the Israeli blockade. Not one respondent thought the prohibited items could be legitimately classified as military contraband.

Article Continues...

May is "Right to Health Care" Month

Lori Helene Rudolph, Professor of Counseling and Consultant for the Palestinian Union for Social Workers and Psychologists

Desperately ill men, women and children regularly suffer because they are needlessly delayed by Israeli-imposed curfews, blockades, and closures.

I know because, as a mental health consultant and teacher who has lived and worked in the Occupied Territories for years, I've seen the unnecessary delays and the suffering with my own eyes.

Jewish Voice for Peace is designating May as "Right to Health Care Month" as part of our "We Divest" campaign to get financial giant TIAA-CREF to divest from the Israeli occupation.

Throughout May, we will offer many ways for you to learn about the health care situation in Palestine and will share tools you can use to reach out to medical, mental and public health professionals in your life to let them know about the vital role they could play in this campaign.

Join the Campaign...

Nadia Hijab on "Gaza and the Arab Spring"

Shalom Rav blog, May 6, 2011
By Nadia Hijab, US Campaign Advisory Board Member

Ta'anit Tzedek, Jewish Fast for Gaza, will sponsor "Gaza and the Arab Spring," a conference call with prominent Palestinian writer and human rights advocate Nadia Hijab on Thursday, May 19 at 12:00 pm EST.

The Arab Spring -- a series of popular uprisings all over the Arab world -- has brought new hope for greater freedom, justice and democracy to millions of people throughout the Arab world and beyond. The uprisings have already brought about dramatic changes in several countries and the popular movement is growing in strength. How will these changes affect the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and more particularly the people of Gaza?

Article Continues...

Prof. Rashid Khalidi on Hamas-Fatah agreement

Rashid Khalidi is a member of the US Campaign's Advisory Board, and is the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University's Middle East Institute, and editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies.

On Palestine Studies TV, Will Youmans of the Institute for Palestine Studies spoke with Dr. Khalidi about the deal between Hamas and Fatah that is aimed at reconciliation after the state of division since 2007. This news set the theme for our previous edition of Occupation End Notes.

Watch Interview...

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...

As the movement grows, so do we

Rana Libdeh, Membership & Outreach Coordinator

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

Palestine Action Group, Corvallis, OR
Episcopal Bishop's Committee for Israel/Palestine, Seattle
Students for Justice in Palestine, Cornell
Students for Justice in Palestine, DePaul University
Students for Justice in Palestine, Florida International University

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

Has your group joined us yet?

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