Showing posts with label US Campaign. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US Campaign. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

US Campaign Thanks Cassandra Wilson for Supporting Cultural Boycott

In late February, US jazz singer Cassandra Wilson canceled a schedule performance at the Holon International Women's Festival in Israel. Wilson, a world-renowned vocalist, canceled her performance after appeals from boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists encouraging her to respect the Palestinian call for BDS. According to an article at Electronic Intifada citing the Hebrew Israeli daily Ynet, the Grammy award winning Wilson announced, "as a human rights activist, I identify with the cultural boycott of Israel." The article also reports that concert promoters are considering legal action her. The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation released the following letter of thanks and appreciation to Wilson.

Dear Cassandra Wilson,

We are a diverse coalition of more than 380 organizations across the United States working to change U.S. policy and end U.S. support for Israeli occupation and apartheid. We are writing to applaud you for your courageous decision not to play for the Holon International Women's Festival. Thank you for your statement in support of the cultural boycott of Israel as called for by Palestinian civil society. 

Although the government-funded Holon festival claimed to empower women, since Palestinian women were excluded, this was selective empowerment. Your brave decision to refrain from performing in Israel showed respect and deep compassion for Palestinian women and your action is an inspiration for other women to stand up against injustice. We thank you for enduring the intense pressure to perform for the Holon festival. You showed great strength by seeking information about the BDS campaign and deciding to cancel so close to your scheduled performance. 

It is not uncommon for an artist who takes such a stand to be on the receiving end of false accusations, threats, and unfounded criticism by apologists for the Israeli crimes. In solidarity, we hope that you remain strong in the face of such pressure and recognise there is enormous support for you and respect for your decision among those who embrace justice, human rights and freedom. You have joined a growing list of artists of conscience who have refused to play in today’s Sun City and we all express our gratitude to you.


US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What a Year Stretches Before Us!

Dear Supporters,

Above: Co-chairs Felicia Eaves & Peter Miller.

New shifts in U.S. public discourse mean more pressure on candidates challenging conventional military and political support for Israel, growing B.D.S. campaigns on campuses and in communities across the country, mainstream churches challenging corporations that profit from occupation... and the US Campaign with our nearly 400 member organizations will be at the center of all the work that comes with it.

Thanks to all of you, the Campaign is beginning 2012 stronger and better resourced than ever before. More than 600 donors last year helped to replant 2,050 olive trees in Palestine, supporting fair-trade farmers. Just in the holiday period of last December alone, together we raised $43,500 in online contributions, helping the US Campaign begin the new year ready for action.

Thanks for everything you're doing. For your work in your campuses, communities, faith congregations, as well as in Congress and in the media, to end US military aid to Israel. For your creativity in building BDS campaigns. For bringing the cost of Israeli occupation to the Occupy Movement that has so empowered all of us. For linking economic injustice and the unmet needs in our communities these ten years to the $30 billion in military aid to Israel.

The US Campaign is made up of--and supported by--people like you, and member groups like yours. Together we are moving into a new year of action, mobilization, and education.  Huge challenges lie ahead. But because of all you’ve done, we start the year with the excitement, the energy, and the resources to challenge U.S. support for Israel's occupation and apartheid policy, and to demand a new U.S. policy based on human rights, international law and equality for all.

Thanks again.  And we look forward to working together in 2012!

Felicia Eaves & Peter Miller

Co-chairs, US Campaign Steering Committee

Click to watch our new 8-minute documentary!

P.S.: Witness how this nationwide grassroots coalition has struggled against U.S. support for Israel's occupation over the past decade! Our new mini-documentary combines an audiovisual sampling of major events with a narrative of our coalition's growth, voiced by members of our staff and Steering Committee. Take eight minutes to watch the quest progressing, and join us to help complete it!

Monday, December 26, 2011

10 Things We Did to Make this a Memorable Year

Ready for Our New Year's Countdown?

As 2011 draws to a close, we want to wish you and your loved ones a new year filled with peace and justice.

We also want to thank you for the generous support that enables us to wake up every morning and work on an issue we feel deeply passionate about, advancing a mission we believe in: to change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel to support freedom, justice, and equality.

In this economy, we're all glad just to have jobs.  That's why we're extra grateful to have jobs that contribute to a better world. 

Because we feel so privileged to work for the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, we work extra hard, day-in and day-out, to provide you with actions, resources, information and inspiration to advance our collective work to end U.S. support for Israeli occupation and apartheid and to change our country's policies toward Israel/Palestine to support human rights, international law, and equality.

Below is our New Year's Countdown -- 10 things we did in 2011 to move us ever closer to our goal, in random order. Please make your year-end tax-deductible donation now so that we can do even greater things in 2012.

We grew our coalition to more than 380 organizations in 46 states.

We published articles in the Los Angeles Times, The Hill, Huffington Post, Palm Beach Post, Richmond Times-Dispatch, and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, to name a few.

We produced a flash mob how-to guide to help strengthen boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) protests.

We partnered with member groups to advance BDS campaigns like Stolen Beauty, Stop Caterpillar, and We Divest, and called upon performers and other celebrities to cancel appearances in Israel. Some of them agreed!

We joined the Palestinian BDS National Committee's call for a global arms embargo of Israel and launched a campaign to get city councils to pass resolutions against military aid to Israel.

We expanded our organizing campaign to end military aid to Israel to more than 900 cities and joined with the Occupy movement to protest corporate greed and war profiteering.

We gave our website an extreme makeover--reorganizing and redesigning it--to make it more user-friendly and interactive.

3.We held our 10th Annual National Organizers' Conference, with more than 160 delegates representing 63 member groups, at the historic Thurgood Marshall Center in Washington, DC.

2.We kicked off our 10th anniversary with a fabulous benefit concert featuring world-renowned musician Simon Shaheen.

1.We launched an interactive Report Card for the 112th Congress.

Thank you for making this work possible. We look forward to returning in 2012 to unleash even more creativity, with your generous support.

Our best wishes for a new year of peace and justice,

Anna, Josh, Josh, Mike & Rana

P.S.: Consider making a personal divestment from Israeli occupation and apartheid, and "offset" your taxes today. This year the average U.S. taxpayer had $21.59 of their hard-earned income spent on more weapons for Israel. This is your last chance to "offset" your 2011 taxes to support a U.S. policy that upholds human rights and equality for all.

P.P.S.: Speaking of our 10th anniversary, stay tuned for our final email of 2011, which will bring you a music video of what we have accomplished together over the past decade.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Anna Baltzer: "Will You Help Me Cultivate Justice This Season?"

By Anna Baltzer
National Organizer, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Just over one year ago, I began working as National Organizer with the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. Having spent five years on my own educating everyday people about the occupation, Israeli apartheid, and the steadfastness of the Palestinian people, I realized I needed to do more than advise others to move from education into campaigning -- I needed to follow my own advice!

During my first 12 months at the US Campaign, my respect for the work and dedication of the organization has only grown. Whether it's providing trainings; creating new resources; setting up mass action alerts; coordinating and mobilizing for nationwide boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) campaigns and days of action; or promoting the work that you do in Campaign member groups, we spend every day working to support organizations and individuals around the country in challenging Israel's violations of Palestinian rights and the U.S. military, diplomatic and financial support that allows these violations to continue.

Believe me, we are a very small staff with an even smaller budget. The only way we can continue our work is through support from people like you. 

That is why I ask you to consider donating to the US Campaign this holiday season.

Above: We'll send you this personalized certificate when you donate to plant a tree.
Your gift not only supports the US Campaign, but also Palestinian farming families. For every $25 you donate, the US Campaign will plant one olive tree for a Palestinian farming family in the name or in memory of someone special to you. For every $100 you donate, we will plant five trees.

Hannukah has just begun. Christmas is this Sunday. Rather than rushing out for more shopping, why not give a deeply meaningful gift in the name of a loved one to help us cultivate justice here at home and in Palestine?

Of course, we know that planting olive trees will not end U.S. support for Israel's occupation and apartheid policies. We know that new trees cannot replace adult, fruiting olive trees that Israeli soldiers and settlers have uprooted from Palestinian groves.

But, in some ways, olive trees represent the past, present and future of Palestinian traditions and steadfastness.  Each tree planted sends a message to Israel that Palestinians will never give up their way of life and right to stay on their own land, and that people in the U.S. will not allow our government's support for Israel to go unchallenged.

Many of you purchase Christmas trees as a holiday tradition. Why not start another tradition with the olive tree? This year, with your help, we raised funds to plant 1,603 trees so far. Help us to reach our goal of 2,000 new olive trees by the year's end!

May 2012 be the year that brings desperately needed change in U.S. policy and an end to Israel's occupation and apartheid. Until that happens, help us continue to join and elevate voices and actions nationwide in support of Palestinian human rights.

Click here to donate to the US Campaign today.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

US Campaign Co-chair addresses U.N. General Assembly

This morning Peter Miller, Co-chair of the US Campaign's Steering Committee, gave the following address at the United Nations General Assembly, at the invitation of the U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

Solemn Commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity With the Palestinian People

United Nations 
New York
November 29, 2011

Remarks by Peter Miller 
President, Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights
Co-Chair, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. President, Excellencies:

I am honored to speak to you today on this solemn commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. I am but one voice among many from global civil society who are deeply concerned about the plight of Palestinians resulting from Israel's policies of occupation, settlement, siege and the denial of Palestinian rights. Many civil society activists around the world have dedicated their lives seeking a just resolution to the Palestine-Israel conflict. Some have paid a huge price for their efforts. And why must civil society pay such a high price? It is because of the failure, your excellencies, of the United Nations and governments to implement international law.

As an American, I am deeply disturbed, as are many Americans, by the role the my government plays in preventing Palestinians from achieving their aspirations and their human rights. The U.S. unconditionally gives Israel $3 billion every year in military aid and ignores Israel's many systematic and continuing human rights violations. Those include the illegal use of military weapons against civilian populations and the ever  expanding Israeli settlements, the expansion of its separation wall on Palestinian lands, the treatment of its Palestinian citizens as second class human beings and the denial of the rights of Palestinian refugees. One of the challenges to the UN and the international community, if you truly are committed to upholding the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, is to confront the deeply negative role of the U.S. in perpetuating injustice and enabling Israel to continue to violate international law and destroy the possibility of realizing Palestinian aspirations.

The admission of Palestine into the UN Organization UNESCO is a great victory for the UN and the voice of people around the world. 107 countries, representing over 75% of the world's population voted to include Palestine, truly “We the Peoples of the United Nations.” Unfortunately, the Obama administration was eager to enforce archaic U.S. laws, and cut off U.S. dues to UNESCO. Also unfortunate is the fact that the Obama, and earlier U.S. administrations, have failed to uphold other U.S. laws conditioning military aid to countries, such as Israel, which use U.S. supplied weapons against civilian populations. The UN is challenged to uphold its Charter in the face of all the various anti-democratic pressures the US brings to bear, whether it is spying on UN officials, pressuring independent countries economically and politically, or threatening the UN itself with economic sanctions. The UN must defend its founding principles despite these pressures and the global community must be ready to increase economic and diplomatic support for the UN and UNESCO.

One of the great advancements of civilization has been the development of the concept of the rule of law, that human beings have universal rights, and that there should be international institutions that work to safeguard these rights, especially in times of conflict and military occupation. The principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and other laws lay out this framework. The challenge for the UN is not to develop new laws or to express new sentiments, but to implement these existing universal principles and its existing resolutions to protect Palestinian human rights. The whole concept of universal rights and protection of civilians is endangered when powerful nations can pick and chose, in defiance of international bodies and global opinion, to whom these laws apply and for whom they are ignored. The law should be universal.

So far, the UN and other established institutions have failed to implement these universal principles, and have been unable to hold the powerful accountable for their oppression of the weak. So it has become necessary for global civil society to step into the void. This is what is happening around the world, including in the United States, on behalf of Palestinian human rights. This is why there is a growing movement of boycott, divestment, and sanctions to bring non-violent pressure on the State of Israel to end its systematic violations.

The Russell Tribunal is yet another expression of global civil society responding to the failure of the UN and governments to uphold the law. One of Bertrand Russell's last accomplishments was the establishment, with French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, of the Russell Tribunal to investigate the role of the United States in the war in Vietnam. The tribunal was established as a means for civil society to bring to the light the evidence of war crimes ignored by the United States government and by other nations and international institutions. Russell declared “May this Tribunal prevent the crime of silence.”

A new Russell Tribunal on Palestine has been reconvened with three sessions to date to examine Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. The most recent session was held November of this year in South Africa, with judges including Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, emeritus judge of Spain’s Supreme Court José Antonio Martin Pallin, African-American poet Alice Walker and South African writer and activist Ronald Kasrils.  They examined the question of whether Israel is engaged in the crime of Apartheid. Israeli human rights activist Jeff Halper, director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions said,

“States, along with the United Nations, are obligated to enforce international law and human rights conventions. When they don't, as in their failure to apply to Israel and its Occupation the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, the people themselves must rise up and demand that they do. Civil society forums such as the Russell Tribunal may not carry formal authority, but they represent millions of people the world over who believe that simply leaving governments free to pursue their narrow agendas driven by power, sectarian ideology, militarism and the profits of a few is to doom us all to continued war, bloodshed and injustice.”

The Tribunal concluded that Israel does indeed engage in the crime of Apartheid:

"Israel subjects the Palestinian people to an institutionalized regime of domination amounting to apartheid as defined under international law.... The Palestinians living under colonial military rule in the occupied Palestinian territory are subject to a particularly aggravated form of apartheid. Palestinian citizens of Israel, while entitled to vote, are not part of the Jewish nation as defined by Israeli law and are therefore excluded from the benefits of Jewish nationality and subject to systematic discrimination across the broad spectrum of recognized human rights. Irrespective of such differences, the Tribunal concludes that Israel's rule over the Palestinian people, wherever they reside, collectively amounts to a single integrated regime of apartheid."

The Russell Tribunal is not the first time Israeli apartheid has been identified. In 1961 Hendrik Verwoerd, then president of South Africa and considered the architect of the system of apartheid, stated, “Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.” Both Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela have expressed concerns that Israel's behavior was similar to what they experienced under South African apartheid. Mandela remarked that:

“The UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

In 2009, the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa issued a report concluding that Israel practices both Apartheid and colonialism. In 2010, Henry Siegman, former national director of the American Jewish Congress said, "Israel has crossed the threshold from 'the only democracy in the Middle East' to the only apartheid regime in the Western world."  Now in 2011, we can add the conclusions of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.

Palestinian rights must no longer be held hostage to the domestic politics of the United States. Israel should not escape UN censure simply because it refuses to cooperate with international institutions. International law demands condemnation of Israel's violations and crucially, Your Excellencies, decisive action to reverse them. Palestinian dignity is assaulted on a daily basis. Both the Palestinian and Israeli people are diminished each passing day as you allow these Israeli policies to continue. Every day, a tree is destroyed or a home is demolished. Every day, a Bedouin village inside Israel is ground down by bulldozers or Palestinians in the West Bank are attacked by settler pogroms that turn their lives into lives of fear.  Every day, critical medicines go lacking in Gaza, and Gazans are forced to drink brackish water unfit for human consumption.

The so-called “Quartet” has failed.  But while many question whether the UN should have ever agreed to participate in such sham diplomacy, you can still play a constructive role by moving quickly to implement the necessary pre-conditions for serious and honest negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians based on the enforcement of international law. Excellencies, you must separate Israel’s legitimate security concerns from its illegitimate political agenda. The International Court of Justice ruling on the illegality of Israel's wall made just this sort of distinction: determining that Israel may build its wall on Israeli land, but Israel cannot build its wall on Palestinian land, destroying Palestinian farms and homes, and separating Palestinian villages and towns from each other. It is illegal, not simply “unhelpful,” for Israel to build settlements on Palestinian lands. Israel violates international law when it imposes collective punishment on the people of Gaza. UN-based solutions must be found to mitigate all of these issues.  The international community must demand that Israel end its assaults on Gaza that kill and injure civilians, and destroy civilian infrastructure in an endless cycle of  international development assistance repeatedly destroyed by Israel's U.S. supplied bombs and missiles and Israel's U.S. supplied Caterpillar bulldozers. All that is lacking is your will to impose solutions rooted in international law.

One of the great privileges of working within civil society for Palestinian justice is witnessing the coming together of people from many origins working together for justice. In my own small group, we have Jewish Americans, Palestinian Americans, Christians, Muslims, and secular people who recognize in each other our common humanity. This is replicated around the world. We in global civil society seek to rise above narrow national and tribal self interest and truly believe that peace is possible when our common humanity is recognized and justice is implemented. We honor the efforts of those Israelis who recognize that peace for Israel comes through justice for Palestinians, we honor the efforts of activists and UN workers from around the world, many who have risked their comfort and sometimes their lives in the name of justice. Though there are wide ranges of opinion about what the various solutions might be, we are united in the recognition of our common humanity and our dreams of living together, as equals, on this small blue planet.

Thank you.

-- END --

Friday, November 25, 2011

What We're Thankful For

By Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director
Wednesday, 23 November, 2011

Tomorrow morning, my wife and I will board a plane in Washington, DC, fly to Chicago, drive to Indiana to visit her parents, and drive back to Illinois to visit my family before returning home.

We're thankful that we have the means and opportunity to spend time with our loved ones during this holiday weekend.  Barring any flight delays or road construction, they'll know when to expect us.

Above: US Campaign staff and Steering Committee at our recent national conference.

It's easy to take our rights for granted even as they come under assault here at home.  But we know that something like our Thanksgiving travel plan--our right to freedom of movement--is a near impossibility for Palestinians whose human rights are violated daily by Israel's military occupation and apartheid policies.

Unlike Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation, on our way to the airport, we won't have to evade dozens of roadblocks, checkpoints, walls, and other barriers to our movement.  After picking up our rental car, no soldier will tell us where we can or can't drive.  No occupying army will intrude into our families' towns and cut short our visit by announcing a curfew. 

My wife and I are of different ethnic and religious backgrounds: she's Arab-American and I'm Jewish-American. And we would never allow our government to treat us any differently based on those differences. Yet, our government's military and diplomatic support for Israel enables it to discriminate against Palestinians based on their nationality and religious affiliations.

Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip are typically banned from Israel's airport (Israel destroyed the Palestinian airport in Gaza).  Palestinians can't ride on Israeli settler buses or roads constructed on their land in the West Bank, as dramatized last week by the courageous Palestinian Freedom Riders.  A Palestinian man from Gaza who is married to a Palestinian woman who is a citizen of Israel can't live with her. And Palestinian refugees, who were forced from their homes more than 63 years ago, still are denied their right of return by Israel. 

The only reason people have rights in this country is because for hundreds of years we have built movements to struggle to achieve them--and it is an ongoing struggle. We cannot allow our government to back Israel in denying Palestinians human rights--the right to travel, the right to go to school or work, the right to live where we choose--which we have in this country and to which all human beings are entitled. 

That's why we're also thankful for the thousands of people like you who make it possible for the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation to empower tens of thousands of people and nearly 400 organizations in our coalition to change our government's policies toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights, international law, and equality.

As you gather with your loved ones for this Thanksgiving holiday, please give thanks by donating whatever you can to the US Campaign to help us advance our goal.

We thank you for believing in the necessity and ultimate success of our mission.

By the way, we''d also like to show our thanks to supporters like you.  As a token of our appreciation, the first twenty people (U.S. residents only) who donate $100 or more will receive from us a bottle of fair trade, organic Palestinian olive oil.  Your generosity will help not only us, but Palestinian farmers struggling to remain steadfast on their land.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Join Us on Sunday to Help Dedicate the MLK Memorial by Organizing to End Aid to Israel!

Greetings everyone! My name is Jody Scholz, and I am a graduate student in International Relations at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Ås, Norway. I am writing my master's thesis on the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign in the US, and I'm very excited to be in Washington D.C. this fall interning at the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. I do hope you will be able to join us this Sunday as we honor Dr. King's message by organizing to end military aid to Israel!

We are so excited for the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial on the National Mall this Sunday, October 16, from 9AM-11AM.
At this historic event, we will remind people that Dr. King stated: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
Click to download flyer in PDF
Join us at the dedication to distribute these special flyers and urge people to honor Dr. King’s anti-militarism message by calling on President Obama to end $30 billion in military aid to Israel.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend the event, which makes this an amazing opportunity to educate and organize many new people to join us in our quest to end U.S. support for Israeli military occupation and apartheid, and change U.S. policy toward Palestine/ Israel to support freedom, justice, and equality.
Join the US Campaign at 9AM on Sunday morning at the northeast corner of West Potomac Park, on the corner of Independence Ave. and West Basin Drive (marked with a red dot on the map below) to pick up literature and help us organize. If you’d like to join us, please contact US Campaign Steering Committee Co-Chair Felicia Eaves who will be in touch with you to coordinate logistics.
Thank you for helping to make the MLK memorial dedication a day of activism for a just peace!
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Friday, August 5, 2011

Media Release: 125+ Groups & 25,000+ Individuals: "Don't Veto Palestinian UN Membership"

August 5, 2011

Washington, DC -- The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation delivered today to the State Department an open letter signed by more than 125 groups, including 30 national organizations, and petitions signed by more than 25,000 people urging the Obama Administration not to veto Palestinian UN membership if the issue arises in the Security Council.

National organizations Code Pink, Grassroots International, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Just Foreign Policy contributed petition signatures to the overall count. 

The open letter reads in part:

"Palestinians have been prevented from exercising their rights to freedom and self-determination on even a portion of their historic homeland due to Israel's historic and ongoing policies of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, military occupation, and colonization... Palestinians have waited more than 63 years for their human rights. We urge you—do not set a timetable for Palestinian freedom by vetoing Palestinian membership in the United Nations."

Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign, stated that:

"The American people are ahead of the administration in recognizing that our policy towards the region has failed. Even though the State Department has been unwilling to meet with us yet, we have made clear to the Obama Administration that thousands of people across this country, and a diverse and growing coalition of organizations representing hundreds of thousands more will continue to organize until we end unconditional U.S. support for Israel's illegal military occupation and apartheid policies toward Palestinians. Through our efforts, the U.S. government will realize what so many people already know: that the way to achieve a just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace is to base our country's policies on human rights, international law, and equality, and not to deny Palestinians freedom and self-determination."

Other national organizations endorsing the open letter include: the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Educational Trust, American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine, American Jews for a Just Peace, American Muslims for Palestine, Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine-Israel Network, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Friends of Sabeel—North America ,Global Exchange, Interfaith Peace-Builders, Intersect Worldwide, Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A.), Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)—USA, Middle East Children's Alliance, Paulist Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, Peace Action, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship,  Progressive Democrats of America, Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice , Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East, United for Peace and Justice,  United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, U.S. Peace Council, and War Resisters League.

For the complete text of the open letter and the complete list of organizational endorsements, click here.

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is a national coalition of more than 350 organizations working to change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights, international law, and equality. For more information see


You’re invited to a special benefit concert with Simon Shaheen, world-renowned oud player!

Our 10th Annual National Organizers' Conference in Washington, DC, this September 16-19 is swiftly approaching.  Register and pay by August 19 to receive the "Early Bird" discount registration price of $100. Registration will increase to $125 after August 19.

We will be marking our coalition's 10th annual conference with a special benefit concert with world-renowned violinist and oud player, Simon Shaheen, Saturday, September 17, at 8:30pm at All Souls Church in Washington, DC!

A Palestinian born in the village of Tarshiha in the Galilee, Shaheen began playing the oud at the age of five, and a year later began studying violin at the Conservatory for Western Classical Music in Haifa. Shaheen has become one of the most significant Arab musicians of his generation. His soaring technique and melodic ingenuity fuse together traditional Arabic music, jazz, and Western classical styles.

All proceeds from this benefit concert directly support the work of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

Purchase your seat today for a unique opportunity to listen to the musical works of world renowned violinist and oudist, Simon Shaheen in Washington, DC on Saturday, September 17! 

Full conference registrants receive free admission to this very special benefit concert. Register for the full conference today!

Member groups in good standing are encouraged to host a workshop at the US Campaign conference. And if your member group is working on an initiative and would like the endorsement of the US Campaign coalition, please submit a proposal.  Workshops and proposals must be submitted by August 19.

Please check the 10th Annual National Organizers' Conference website regularly as we update our list of featured speakers, to learn more about local logistics in Washington, and to get information for our hotel room block at the Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel.

We look forward to seeing you in September!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Work With Us to Seek Justice

Above from left:
Shakeel Syed, Grace Said, Rabbi Brian Walt

We, leaders in the Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities, write to you at the start of the month of Ramadan, a time when practicing Muslims deepen their spiritual experience. Among other virtues, empathy toward the oppressed and the indigent is especially exercised.

At the end of August, Jews begin a 40-day period of repentance, when we examine our wrongdoing, concluding on the holiest day of the Jewish year, the fast of Yom Kippur. On that day Jews read the words of the prophet Isaiah: "This is the fast that God desires: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, to share your bread with the hungry, to take the wretched poor into your home."

Christians often turn to fasting and repentance as a spiritual discipline in the face of injustice that draws one closer to God and to one's neighbor suffering from injustice. Think of Cesar Chavez's fast for justice for farm workers and Witness Against Torture's fasts to protest detention and torture at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.  

This Ramadan we express our empathy with the Palestinians' decades-long quest for freedom, and work together to help end U.S. support for Israel's denial of Palestinian human rights.

As faith leaders active in interfaith alliances, we urge you to please include the US Campaign in your special giving this Ramadan and in the coming seasons of Jewish and Christian celebrations.

The US Campaign is the only national coalition that brings together a diverse membership of nearly 360 groups and 50,000 individuals to work for change in U.S. policy.

Breaking the fast with family and friends is a centuries-old tradition that Muslims around the world are able to celebrate. But many Palestinian Muslims cannot. Their families and friends are dispersed across the globe, prevented by Israel from returning to their homes and lands.

Many cannot even break their fast (Iftar) at sunset with loved ones from neighboring villages and towns bisected by Israel's Apartheid Wall and roads, and by hundreds of checkpoints. And the Palestinians of Gaza have had year-round "fasting" imposed on them by Israel's draconian siege, now in its sixth year.

Muslims traditionally give charity (zakat) to the poor in the blessed month of Ramadan. Palestinian Muslims give too, but most have been forced into dependency on foreign aid, either by Israel's blockade of Gaza or by the tight border controls around all occupied Palestinian territories. Still others are deprived by Israel's rejection of the refugees' right of return -- in violation of international law.

Working together through our nationwide coalition, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, we can help change U.S. policy and break the long fast for Palestinian freedom.

Our three traditions -- Islam, Judaism and Christianity -- all uphold justice. No religion's faithful want to see injustice done in any part of the world, and especially not for so long in a land so dear to our three faiths. We salute the commitment by people of faith from all over the world to support freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people.  

Please donate now, and help us to work for U.S. policy that ends our country's support for Israel's denial of Palestinian freedom and human rights.

Shakeel Syed
Steering Committee
US Campaign
Grace Said
Board Member
Friends of Sabeel
North America
Rabbi Brian Walt
Jewish Fast for Gaza

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hundreds Have Just Faced Up To AIPAC, But Together We Can Do More.

By Felicia Eaves and Phyllis Bennis

Above: Steering Committee Members Felicia Eaves (L) and Phyllis Bennis (R).

On Saturday we both spoke at the fantastic events of Move Over AIPAC, the spectacular outpouring of creativity and commitment organized by CODEPINK and 100 endorsing organizations, including the US Campaign and many members of our coalition.

Hundreds of activists from across the United States challenged the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) by protesting outside its annual conference in Washington.

AIPAC's influence, along with that of U.S. arms manufacturers and the Pentagon, creates a stranglehold of pro-Israel policies that undermine democracy here at home and across the Middle East. 

Throughout the weekend activsts spoke about the kind of new U.S. policy needed toward Palestine/Israel -- a policy that upholds freedom, justice and equality -- not AIPAC's policy of securing U.S. support for Israel's  occupation of Palestinian land and violations of Palestinian rights.

With just 0.4% of AIPAC's budget, the US Campaign works tirelessly to challenge U.S. military aid to Israel, providing an umbrella and a channel for more than 350 member organizations.

Think how much we could do with just a few dollars more. Won't you click here to donate?

Here's just a taste of the work of the US Campaign:
We provide a strategic framework for local groups to run effective campaigns, and move their work from the local to the national level. Member groups throughout the country use the US Campaign as a platform to communicate and cooperate.

We create valuable resources for our member groups and 50,000+ supporters -- check out the Aid to Israel map that lets you organize with others to tell your elected representatives exactly how many of your community's tax dollars are going to military aid to Israel, and how you would rather spend them at home.

We organize grassroots training and advocacy days so that members and supporters can lobby their elected representatives for a different policy -- the US Campaign's National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner led yesterday's "Move Over AIPAC" workshop on ending military aid to Israel (see photo at right). And watch this space for the launch of our new city council campaign -- Fund Community Needs -- in June!

We challenge the discourse through well-placed op-eds, including by our staff, Steering Committee and Advisory Board members. Check out these three pieces in The Hill last week: by Josh Ruebner, Phyllis Bennis and Nadia Hijab.
Israel's intransigent prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will again be standing against history and in the face of peace and justice when he addresses Congress today. We know what he's going to say. As Israel expands its racist laws against its Palestinian citizens, escalates its apartheid treatment of Palestinians under occupation, ramps up its colonization of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, prevents Palestinian refugees from going home, and keeps Gaza under siege, we can -- and must -- do so much more.

Last weekend shows how far our movement has come and how much stronger we are. We already do so much with so little. Won't you help us to do more? Donate now!

Make our voice even stronger and our actions more powerful. Donate now!

With thanks and solidarity,

Felicia Eaves & Phyllis Bennis

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Diana Buttu says: "Join me in the Olive Branch Club."

Click image above to play video.

Dear Friends,

I've lived in the Occupied Palestinian Territories long enough to know what apartheid feels like for Palestinians.

That's why I said yes when the US Campaign asked me to go on the "Separate Is Never Equal" tour, together with Rev. Eddie Makue from South Africa. We crisscrossed the United States and spoke to thousands of people about apartheid, then and now. We held public events and meetings on campuses, with faith communities, and in congressional offices.

During the tour, I learned firsthand how well the US Campaign works for change in U.S. policy to uphold human rights, including freedom from Israel's brutal occupation, the right of return, and equality for all.

That's why I joined the Olive Branch Club to help sustain the work of the US Campaign. And that's why I'm asking you to join the Olive Branch Club too.

I have watched the US Campaign grow from a handful of member groups 10 years ago to more than 350 today, and I know how valuable this coalition is to the future of justice and peace in the Middle East.

Give whatever you can afford every month, whether it's $20, $40, $60 or more. Plus, the US Campaign will plant an olive tree for a Palestinian farmer for every $120 we give each year. That way, we help sustain this great grassroots movement for change in the United States while we plant the seeds of hope on Palestinian land.

Join me and join the Olive Branch Club. It's not too much to ask to help build a better world.


Diana Buttu, Fellow,
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs,
Kennedy School of Government,
Harvard University

Thursday, June 10, 2010

US Campaign offers condolences at Turkish Embassy

Last week, US Campaign National Media Coordinator David Hosey joined representatives of many other civil society organizations including CODEPINK, Friends of Sabeel North America, Viva Palestina, and Veterans for Peace in offering our condolences for the nine Turkish citizens (one of whom was also a U.S. citizen) killed by the Israeli military aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. We met with the Sulemein Gokce, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Turkish Embassy, who expressed his gratitude as we offered support, condolences, and cards for the families of those killed. He informed us that the Turkish government has asked the Israeli government not only for an investigation, apologies, and reparations for the family of those killed, but for an end to the siege on Gaza. You can echo these demands by emailing Congress and the White House. Mr. Gokce went on to tell us that the search for truth and justice in regards to the flotilla massacre would be an "arduous process," but that "we must not give in to pressure." "We can't fail," he said, "because a failure here would be a failure for humanity." These are powerful words, and a powerful motivating message for our movement. Don't let humanity down: take action today. Check out photos from the day: US Campaign National Media Coordinator David Hosey and Farrah Hassen stand with a CODEPINK banner outside of the Turkish Embassy. Representatives of CODEPINK and other human rights and peace organizations gather outside of the Turkish Embassy Medea Benjamin of US Campaign member group CODEPINK offers condolences to the Turkish Deputy Chief of Mission -- Here are photos and information nine people who were killed by the Israeli military on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla are, h/t to Lawrence of Cyberia:
1. Ibrahim Bilgen, 61, an electrical engineer from Siirt. Member of the Chamber of Electrical Engineers of Turkey. Ran as a Saadet (Felicity) Party candidate in the Turkish general election of 2007 and the Siirt mayoral election of 2009. Married with 6 children. (link - link - link - link)
2. Ali Haydar Bengi, 39, ran a telephone repair shop in Diyarbakir. Graduate of Al-Azhar University, Cairo (Department of Arabic Literature). Married to Saniye Bengi; four children - Mehunur (15), Semanur (10) and twins Mohammed and Senanur (5, pictured below). (link - link - link - link)
Ali haydar bengi Bengi twins
3. Cevdet Kiliçlar, 38, from Kayseri. A graduate of Marmara University's Faculty of Communications; formerly a newspaper journalist for the National Gazette and the Anatolia Times. For the past year he was a reporter and webmaster for the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH). Married to Derya Kiliçlar; one daughter, Gülhan, and one son, Erdem.
See him participating in an IHH African relief project here. See his Flickr photos here. (link - link - link - link)
Cevdet Kiliçlar_2
4. Çetin Topçuoglu, 54, from Adana. Former amateur soccer player and taekwondo champion, who coached Turkey's national taekwondo team. Married to with one son, Aytek.
See Çetin Topçuoglu's Facebook page here. (link - link - link - link)
Çetin Topçuoğlu
His wife, Çigdem Topçuoglu (below, right), was also aboard the Mavi Marmara, but survived. (link - link - link - link)
Çetin and Cigdem Topçuoğlu
5. Necdet Yildirim, 32, an IHH aid worker from Malatya. Married to Refika Yıldırım; one daughter, Melek, aged three. (link - link)
Necdet yildirim
6. Fahri Yaldiz, 43, a firefighter who worked for the Municipality of Adiyaman. Married with four sons. (link - link - link)
Fahri Yaldiz Fahri Yaldiz family2
7. Cengiz Songür, 47, from Izmir. Married to Nurcan Songür; six daughters and one son. (link - link - link - link - link)
Cengiz Songür_2
8. Cengiz Akyüz, 41, from Iskenderun. Married to Nimet Akyüz ; three children - Furkan (14), Beyza (12) and Erva Kardelen (nine). (link - link)
Cengiz Akyüz_2
9. Furkan Dogan, 19, in his senior year at Kayseri High School where he was awaiting the results of his university entrance exams; hoped to become a doctor. Loved chess. Son of Dr. Ahmet Dogan, Assoc Prof at Erciyes University. A Turkish-American dual national, with two siblings. (link - link - link - link - link - link - slideshow)
Furkan Dogan