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U.S. Protection of Israel Reaches New Heights of Absurdity

by Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director
November 10th, 2011

By now you're probably aware that last week the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) overwhelmingly voted to admit Palestine as a full member.  It was an exuberant moment as the 107-14 vote was tallied and Palestinians recorded a milestone on their long path to freedom and self-determination by joining a multilateral organization.

Above: Palestine joins UNESCO as a step toward realizing Palestinian freedom and self-determination.

Instead of celebrating this achievement, the United States voted "no" and then immediately defunded UNESCO by withholding its $60 million dues payment, thereby depriving the organization of 22 percent of its budget.  The Obama Administration invoked two obscure, antiquated sections of Foreign Relations Authorizations Acts written in the 1990s as its rationale for doing so.

Not only is UNESCO a critical organization that does extraordinary work to protect and promote the world's heritage sites; it also directly supports U.S. interests by providing literacy training to Afghan security personnel and early-warning detection systems for tsunamis. 

The negative ramifications of our unconditional support for Israeli occupation and apartheid have never been clearer, or more absurd.  To protect Israel's denial of human rights to Palestinians, the United States is now prepared to forsake membership in potentially every single multilateral institution, including the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and even the UN itself.     

This is outrageous.  Our engagement with the world cannot be held hostage to our support for Israeli occupation and apartheid. 

It is ironic how quickly the Obama Administration sprang into action to invoke U.S. law as a justification to protect Israel when it has never invoked any U.S. law, such as the Arms Export Control Act or the Foreign Assistance Act, to rightfully sanction Israel for misusing U.S. weapons to commit human rights abuses of Palestinians.

We need to send a clear message to our elected officials in our dysfunctional political system, that they have their priorities completely wrong.  Don't sanction Palestinians for seeking UN membership or withdraw from multilateral institutions when Palestine is admitted; sanction Israel for violating U.S. law to deny Palestinians freedom, justice, and equality.

Here's how you can help...

Join thousands of people in sending a letter to your Members of Congress urging them not to sanction Palestinians or to withdraw from multilateral institutions, but to sanction Israel.

Join thousands of volunteer organizers in 49 states and 896 cities to educate and organize people in your community to end military aid to Israel.  When you sign up, we'll send you a packet in the mail with flyers, postcards, petitions, and more!

Above: Click to see our interactive map of cities where people are organizing to end military aid to Israel -- and sign up!

If there is a silver lining in this otherwise bleak cloud, then it lies in the fact that U.S. defunding of UNESCO has exposed the absurdity of our unconditional support for Israel's denial of human rights to Palestinians.  Millions of people are asking why we are disengaging from the international community just to protect Israel's ultimately futile suppression of Palestinian freedom, justice, and equality

Let's take action right now to push back against our illogical policy, recruit newly awakened people to our cause, and change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights and international law.

One more thing: You can also take action by "offsetting" the taxes you pay that finance U.S. weapons for Israel.  This year the average taxpayer will give Israel $21.59 in weapons to oppress Palestinians.  You can reduce your future tax burden by making a tax-deductible contribution to support our efforts and "offset" your taxes to Israeli occupation.