Showing posts with label netanyahu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label netanyahu. Show all posts

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Tale of Two Speeches

Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute of Policy Studies

Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ speech to the United Nations General Assembly was as much about trying to reclaim his dwindling support among Palestinians as it was designed to outline Palestine’s intention to move for a new status at the UN. The consequence of “non-member state” status, while not granting full UN membership, would provide a UN imprimatur to the identity of Palestine as a state, meaning it would have the right to sign treaties. Of particular significance would be Palestine joining the Rome Treaty as a signatory to the International Criminal Court. That would, at least potentially, enable an ICC investigation of potential Israeli war crimes on Palestinian territory.

Beyond his anticipated call for the new UN recognition as a “state,” much of Abbas’ speech focused on Israeli violations of international law, particularly the Geneva Conventions. While he issued his usual call for resuming peace talks with Israel, he called for the United Nations, specifically the Security Council, to pass a binding resolution setting out the terms of reference for any renewed diplomatic process, something that seems to contradict his longstanding willingness to allow unchallenged U.S. control of the negotiating process.

In other parts of his speech, the PLO Chairman reasserted the PLO’s role as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, while rejecting the occupation’s efforts to divide Gaza from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and reaffirmed the need for a “just solution” for Palestinian refugees under the terms of UN resolution 194. In language clearly designed to win support from Palestinians both in the OPT and in the diaspora, many of whom remain dissatisfied with the current Palestinian leadership and whom he identified as "an angry people," he spoke of Israeli “apartheid,” asserted Palestinian rights and the need to continue “peaceful popular resistance” against occupation. In a clear effort to win support from Palestinian civil society, whose call for a global campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions has fundamentally challenged longstanding PLO/PA strategy, he spoke in a language of rights, rejecting the notion of statehood being bestowed on Palestinians, and identified Israel’s “settler colonialism” as something that must be “condemned, punished, and boycotted.”

As anticipated, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech, reflecting the huge political gain that he has won from his year of escalating threats against Iran, barely touched the Palestinian question. He has taken advantage of the fact that as long as the claim (however specious) that Israel faces an “existential danger” from Iran is on the table, no one, certainly not the United States, has been willing to exert any real pressure on Israel regarding the occupation. His reference to Israel’s occupation was limited to a brief paragraph in which he claimed that “we seek peace with the Palestinians.” He then went on to lecture the Palestinians, saying “we won’t solve the conflict with libelous speeches at the UN, that’s not the way to solve them.” He said the conflict wouldn’t be solved with “unilateral declarations of statehood,” that the only goal can be a “mutual compromise in which a demilitarized Palestinian state [heavily emphasized in his delivery] recognizes the one and only Jewish state.”

Netanyahu’s speech focused almost solely on Iran, comparing it to Nazi Germany and calling for the world to join his crusade against it. He spoke derisively of those who claim that a nuclear-armed Iran might stabilize the Middle East, looking up from his prepared notes with a sarcastic “yeah, right.” Interestingly, he reminded the world — seemingly as a point of pride — that he had been speaking about “the need to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons for over 15 years.” It apparently didn’t appear to his speechwriting team that this admission, when all of those earlier warnings were shaped by the same “it’s almost too late” rhetoric that we heard today, might somehow discredit his unchanging claim.

Ignoring the fact that the United States, unfortunately, already has an “all options on the table” red line of its own (preventing Iran from obtaining a bomb), Netanyahu called on the United States to endorse his own specific red line for using force against Iran.  He set his red line as Iran’s ability to enrich uranium to bomb grade, and demanded that the U.S. join. While Iran has not enriched anywhere close to that level, Netanyahu’s language reflected his red line on Iran’s “capability,” a line that he argued is almost here. He spoke on the need to attack Iranian facilities while they are “still visible and still vulnerable.” Perhaps taking a lesson from then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s use of fake “anthrax” props when trying to persuade the Security Council of the need to go to war against Iraq in 2002, Netanyahu held up a primitive grade-school level poster prop and used insulting “this is a bomb, this is a fuse” language.

Netanyahu’s overall language, however, was significantly more conciliatory towards President Obama than much of his recent rhetoric. Perhaps it was the cohort of Jewish Democratic Party heavyweights who scolded the Israeli prime minister for interfering in U.S. politics, or perhaps it was his U.S. advisers, or perhaps his own political team at home — but whatever the reason, Netanyahu’s overt embrace of all things Romney, and his disdain for all things Obama, was kept well under wraps in New York.

Institute for Policy Studies

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bibi, Where's the Red Line on Apartheid?

An alternative take on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the U.N. General Assembly. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How exactly is Israel supposed to change its behavior?

Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of our member group The Palestine Center, writes this piece on why BDS is the way to bring about peace and justice in Palestine/Israel: 

Last week the Israeli prime minister, with the help of Washington, made one of the strongest cases for the need for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in the wake of an Israeli court decision regarding an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank. By demonstrating that twenty years of ‘peace process’ policies have yielded an Israeli government drunk on settlements, Netanyahu’s statement and the United States’ reaction should convince any remaining doubters that BDS is an urgently necessary alternative. 
Netanyahu laid bare to the world precisely why negotiations with his government are a colossal and counterproductive waste of time and anyone—namely the United States government—supporting such a path might well be delusional: "The State of Israel is a law-abiding democracy and as the Prime Minister of Israel I am committed to upholding the law and am I committed to uphold the settlement enterprise, and I tell you that there is no contradiction between the two." 
Continue Reading at The Daily Beast 
Munayyer concludes that it "defies logic to expect Israel’s colonialist behavior to change without pressure and it is more evident than ever that the Israeli government is perfectly comfortable with colonialism and that Washington doesn’t have a problem with it either. Nonetheless, the pressure must come from somewhere." 

We at the US Campaign fully agree that as long as the U.S. government continues funding Israel's occupation and apartheid policies against Palestinians, it is up to us to engage in grassroots efforts like BDS to pressure Israel to change its behavior. There are several ways you can help out:

1. Check out the various BDS campaigns you can join

2. Sign up to help organize opposition to military aid for Israel

3. Join us in St. Louis September 21-23, 2012 for our 11th Annual National 
    Organizers' Conference.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Peaceful CODEPINK Demonstrator Files Suit Against Netanyahu's Supporters

Getty Photo / AP: CODEPINK activist Rae Abileah
protesting PM Netanyahu's speech at House Gallery

A peaceful demonstrator from CODEPINK - a member group of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation coalition -- files suit against Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's supporters who physically attached her in the House Gallery. 

Rae Abileah, a peaceful demonstrator who was physically attacked and injured on May 24, 2011, while protesting the occupation and oppression of Palestinians during the speech of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, filed a civil action in District of Columbia Superior Court today [ed. August 18, 2011] against the unknown individuals who attacked her in the House Gallery, and caused her serious physical injury.

Ms. Abileah is a 28-year-old American Jew of Israeli descent, who works as the Middle East Campaigns Coordinator for CODEPINK, a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice organization that seeks to end U.S. wars and the U.S. funded occupation of Palestine.  After a security check by the Capitol Police, she was given a seat in the House Gallery, as were other individuals who were given passes by members of Congress for the May 24, 2011 session.  About 10 minutes after Mr. Netanyahu began speaking, Ms. Abileah stood up from her seat in the Gallery and opened a banner that read "Occupying Land is Indefensible," and shouted, "No more occupation.  Stop Israeli war crimes!  Equal rights for Palestinians!  Occupying land is indefensible!"

Four to five other persons sitting in the House Gallery began to attack her, including one man who used his hand to attempt to gag and suffocate Ms. Abileah, and then violently yanked her head back, injuring her neck.  As a result of the attack, Ms. Abileah suffered severe emotional trauma and sustained a neck strain, swollen neck and muscle strain, and has since suffered from frequent headaches.

The Capitol Police, who witnessed the attack, have begun an investigation into her assault.  One of the police officers present during the attack told Ms. Abileah that it was clear that some of the people present had "roughed [her] up."

"I am hopeful that my filing suit will be a clear signal to those who attempt to silence us from protesting the Israeli occupation of Palestine, that they will be held accountable for their illegal actions," said Ms. Abileah.

"Ms. Abileah's actions were in a long line of peaceful actions intended to bring public attention to grave injustice.  The violence against Ms. Abileah mirrors the ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine against peaceful demonstrators," said Lynne Bernabei, one of Ms. Abileah's attorneys. 

Click here to view the full press release.

Friday, May 27, 2011

No More Applause

By Cecilie Surasky, Deputy Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, a US Campaign member organization
May 26, 2011

I was stunned to see that our entire U.S. Congress gave Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu 29 standing ovations on Tuesday. Twenty-nine. Unbelievable, given what his speech contained.

The speech that Netanyahu gave that day will go down in history as an extraordinary embarrassment to Americans and Israelis alike. Read on to find out what he said and why we cannot let it go unanswered.

To put it simply, Netanyahu proved yet again that he prefers settlement expansion and Jewish domination of Palestinians to any kind of true peace agreement that would benefit both peoples. He claimed that Israel isn’t occupying anyone—ignoring nearly 44 years of increasingly brutal Israeli control over the lives of millions of Palestinians.

He stated that Israel had no need for American military assistance—ignoring the $3 billion in military equipment and aid the U.S. provides Israel each year. He said Israel supports the desire of Arab peoples to live free—saying nothing about the ongoing Israeli shootings and arrests of Palestinians who nonviolently protest for their right to be free. (1)

What makes this so outrageous is that Netanyahu’s speech found a shockingly sympathetic audience in the U.S. Congress while people like you and me could only watch in disbelief.

I’ve had it. I cannot stand by and watch my member of Congress applaud this man and his litany of distortions, myths and outright fabrications. Please, I urge you to join me in writing your US Representative to say, “How could you? Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has shown repeatedly that he is not interested in a viable future for either Palestinians or Israelis and you rewarded him with 29 standing ovations as the world watched."

Here’s a taste of what Netanyahu said, and Jewish Voice for Peace’s debunking of it:

“You don’t need to send American troops to Israel, we defend ourselves.“

Not true. Israel does not defend itself. Israel is historically the number one recipient of US foreign aid. The US gives Israel a whopping $3 billion a year in aid and military equipment, most of which is used to defend Israel’s illegal occupation.

“In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not occupiers.” (Raucous standing ovation.)

Not True. Israel’s nearly 44-year long occupation of Palestinian territories is illegal according to international law. The more than 500,000 Jewish Israelis who have been moved into the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967 are settlers who occupy Palestinian land - much of it privately owned by Palestinians and stolen by Jews the rest of it expropriated by the Israeli state - all taken for exclusive Jewish use. (2) This is occupation.

Moreover, “Judea and Samaria” are the biblical terms for that piece of land. Is Bibi suggesting a state based not on secular law but on the Bible? A Jewish theocracy? Is this the Israel that our Congress promotes?

“You don’t need to export democracy to Israel. We’ve already got it.”

Not true. Within Israel, the 20% of Israeli citizens who are Palestinian do have the right to vote and run for office. But they are victims of systematic housing, workplace and resource discrimination. For example, 93% of Israeli land is reserved for Jews.(3) In the West Bank, more than 2 million Palestinians live under Israeli occupation—that is, their lives are ruled by Israeli military law, while their Jewish settler neighbors are subject to Israeli civil law. Another 1.5 million Gazans live under siege by the Israeli military. Is this democracy?

“Jerusalem must never again be divided. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel.”

Not true. The original UN charter that created Israel, as still recognized by the international community, identified Jerusalem as an internationalized zone that must be shared by all parties.

I should say that I’m not really shocked by Netanyahu’s speech. But, I am shocked - shocked, stunned, discouraged, outraged - by the reaction of our elected officials. Clearly, they are not hearing from the growing number of people like you and me who are ready for a change. They won’t stop applauding until we speak up - and speak up loudly.

Rae Abileah is with the advocacy group Code Pink and a member of Young, Jewish, and Proud, the young adult arm of Jewish Voice for Peace. She was physically attacked by some members of the Israel lobby group AIPAC, hospitalized with neck injuries and then arrested after she bravely shouted out the truth during Netanyahu's speech to Congress.(4) The night before, 5 protesters interrupted Netanyahu's AIPAC speech and were similarly assaulted.

Not all of us can put our bodies on the line the way Rae and so many others have. But we can all take action today, by telling our elected officials they must represent us, not the interests of one of the most right-wing and intransigent governments in Israeli history.

If you live outside of the United States, please write to President Obama to tell him how you feel this has further damaged the United States' standing in the eyes of the world.

Thank you,

Cecilie Surasky, Deputy Director
Jewish Voice for Peace

P.S. Two of the many Jewish Voice for Peace members in Washington this week were interviewed about AIPAC counter-protests this week. Seventeen year-old Hanna King was on Al Jazeera and Jesse Bacon was on National Public Radio.

(1) Jewish Voice for Peace, "Clouds over freedom in the West Bank."
(2) Btselem, "Taking Control of the Land in the West Bank."
(3) Adalah, "Historical Background."
(4) CNN, In The Arena, "Why Rae Abileah says she disrupted Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday."


Why did I disrupt?

By Rae Abileah of CODEPINK, a US Campaign member organization
From, May 26, 2011
Do you know that our Congress gave 29 standing ovations to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he spoke in the Capital on Tuesday, May 24? I couldn't watch this hero's welcome for a man who supports the continued building of illegal settlements, won't lift the siege of Gaza, and refuses to negotiate with the new Palestinian unity government. During the talk, when Netanyahu was praising young people rising up for democracy in the Middle East, and I took my cue to stand up from my seat in the Capitol Gallery, unfurl a banner, and shout, "No More Occupation! Stop Israeli War Crimes! Equal Rights for Palestinians!"

Immediately, I was tackled, gagged and violently shoved to the floor by other members of the audience, many of whom were still wearing their badges from the AIPAC conference this past weekend. Police dragged me out of the Capitol gallery, and an ambulance whisked me to the hospital, where I was treated for neck and shoulder injuries and put under arrest for disrupting Congress. After I disrupted, Netanyahu said to his Congressional audience, "You can't have these protests in Tehran; this is real democracy."

Is it? What kind of a democracy do we live in when free speech is met with brutality and arrest? In a real democracy, our representatives would be looking out for our best interests, not the interests of a foreign government, ie, Israel. I want my government to take an even-handed approach that respects the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians. But in our so-called democracy, special interest lobby groups like AIPAC have enormous power because of their ability to direct campaign contributions.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Emperor’s clothes are still on, for now (while his heckler is roughed up, hospitalized)

Josh Ruebner is the US Campaign's National Advocacy Director. Here he cites the address by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a joint meeting of Congress, which for the past several weeks we have petitioned members of Congress to boycott, and not attend.

May 24, 2011

Gliding down the aisle of the House of Representatives like a popular president about to deliver the State of the Union address, escorted by a phalanx of dozens of ebullient Members of Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu entered a joint meeting of Congress today to a round of hearty handshakes and a thunderous standing ovation.

In a post-speech press conference, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gushed that Netanyahu delivered an “all-star” address, and Netanyahu proclaimed it a “great day” for Israel. And, in the self-contained world that is Capitol Hill, who could blame them for believing it to be so?

For in a world in which Israel finds itself as isolated as ever by a growing and successful Palestinian civil society-led international movement of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against its apartheid policies; in which Palestinians are taking matters into their own hands diplomatically and pushing to have the United Nations admit the State of Palestine as a full member of the organization this fall; and in which even the President of the United States appears disgruntled by Israel’s intransigent ongoing colonization of Palestinian land, at least on Capitol Hill, Netanyahu can still play the ace up his sleeve to aplomb and then chum around like the king of the castle.

There on Capitol Hill, Netanyahu still has friends like Senator Chuck Schumer, who told a Jewish radio program that “One of my roles, very important in the United States Senate, is to be a shomer [guard]—to be a or the shomer Yisrael [guard of Israel]. And I will continue to be that with every bone in my body." With friends like these wrapped around his little finger, no wonder Netanyahu’s forcible denunciations of international law were met with such rapturous approbation by Members of Congress who applauded his rejectionism dozens of times.

This bonhomie was punctuated only once during Netanyahu’s hour-long speech, when a lone and courageous activist—Rae Abileah—from CODEPINK, disrupted it. CODEPINK organized a series of events and protests—“Move Over AIPAC”—to coincide with the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last weekend. From the gallery, Abileah shouted “No more occupation, stop Israel[i] war crimes, equal rights for Palestinians, occupation is indefensible.”

Her protest was quickly shut down in a “hey rube” moment by AIPAC attendees in the gallery who assaulted and tackled her before she was hauled away by police, causing injuries to her neck and shoulders requiring hospitalization. At the same time, Members of Congress joined the AIPAC carnie thuggery by shouting down Abileah with boos before quickly resuming to feed out of Netanyahu’s hand.

Given both the intellectual mediocrity of the average Member of Congress and the Israel lobby’s deliberate strategy of electing and placing in key positions Members of Congress like Schumer, it is difficult to determine how much applause Netanyahu received due to ignorance of history and international law, and how much was due to their cheerleading for Israeli apartheid. Whatever the exact formulation, it amounts to a deadly combination that ensures Israel can continue to thumb its nose at the international community and oppress the Palestinian people while Congress keeps open the spigot of U.S. weapons to underwrite the job.

Only in an institution as self-delusional as Congress could Netanyahu pontificate with a straight face that the path of liberty “is not paved by elections alone. It is paved when governments permit protests in town squares, when limits are placed on the powers of rulers, when judges are beholden to laws and not men, and when human rights cannot be crushed by tribal loyalties or mob rule.”

Only before Congress would Netanyahu dare crow that there are now more than 650,000 Israeli settlers living in illegal colonies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, a full 30% more than the upper limits of previous estimates, making his offer to be “very generous on the size of a future Palestinian state,” and willing to make a “far reaching compromise” unadulterated hokum.

In the wake of 10,000 AIPAC lobbyists deluging Capitol Hill today, there is no doubt that Congress will overwhelmingly vote to pass AIPAC-written resolutions condemning the Fatah-Hamas unity agreement and Palestinian moves for UN membership, once again asserting that Israel is truly the best thing since sliced bread.

Netanyahu may well feel smug from his reception in the last bastion of such uncritical support for Israel’s apartheid policies toward Palestinians. While the rest of the world has long since discovered that the emperor has no clothes, his sycophants and enablers in Congress pretend that it is business as usual. They will then be surprised to wake up one day in the near future to see their beloved apartheid state sanctioned.

Josh Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a national coalition of more than 350 organizations working to change U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine to support human rights, international law, and equality. He is a former Analyst in Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service.


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 17, 2011

Nakba Day Killings: One More Reason to Boycott Bibi

Above: Protesters gather along the Lebanese-Israeli border in Maroun al-Ras, Lebanon, to mark the anniversary of the Nakba. Photo: Mahmoud Ramsey. (click image to enlarge).

On Sunday, May 15, Israel killed at least 12 unarmed Palestinian refugees and injured hundreds more. The refugees were commemorating the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba, or "catastrophe," as Palestinians call their dispossession and expulsion by Israel before, during, and ever since its founding in 1948.

These Palestinian refugees, inspired by the "Arab Spring" to act as their own agents for achieving their fundamental human rights, sought to exercise their internationally recognized -- but long-denied -- right of return to their homes.

Israel's lethal response with live ammunition provides a stark reminder of the extent to which it will go to maintain its apartheid policies against Palestinians.

While Israel allows Jewish people from anywhere in the world automatically to attain citizenship, it forcibly forbids the return of Palestinian refugees whom it exiled from their homes. Such a policy -- discrimination based on religious or ethnic differences -- is the very definition of apartheid.

Israel's latest atrocity adds one more reason for you to persuade your Members of Congress to boycott Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu's upcoming address to a joint meeting of Congress on May 24.

We've almost reached two thirds of our goal of 10,000 signatures, after which we'll deliver your signature to House Speaker John Boehner, who invited Netanyahu to speak.

Have you signed the petition yet?  If not, please take a minute to sign it, and then spread the word to your friends!

Our message is starting to be heard. There's evidence that if Bibi comes to Congress to deliver more of the same tired arguments -- about why Israel should continue its apartheid rule over Palestinians -- then perhaps his reception won't be so warm.

Last Friday, the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv cited U.S. sources stating that if Bibi's speech doesn't contain "real content," then "he would be better off canceling it altogether... a speech before Congress is not a ritualistic matter -- he must lay out his vision for peace."[1]

Help us increase the pressure on Israel by signing our petition today.

While in Washington, DC, Netanyahu also will be speaking to the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the largest and most influential lobby supporting Israeli occupation and apartheid against Palestinians.

To coincide with AIPAC's conference, the US Campaign Steering Committee, Advisory Board and staff are gearing up to participate in the discourse-challenging panels and workshops of "Move Over AIPAC," a US Campaign-endorsed event, May 21-24.

Learn more about this seminal event, organized by US Campaign member group CODEPINK, and how you can get involved in efforts to challenge U.S. support for Israeli occupation and apartheid. Join us as we continue our work to change U.S. policy to support freedom, justice and equality as we help to Move Over AIPAC.

[1] Thanks to Israeli human rights activist Didi Remez for the translation of this article.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Take Action: Boycott Bibi

When Congress overrode President Ronald Reagan's veto of a bill to impose sanctions against Apartheid South Africa, enacting the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 into law, the New York Times reported[1] that:

"Senator Richard G. Lugar, the Indiana Republican who heads the Foreign Relations Committee and was the chief sponsor of the measure, appealed in emotional terms to Pretoria to heed the action taken by Congress.

'As a friend of that Government we are saying wake up!' he said."
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 this week and we'll personally deliver your signature to House Speaker John Boehner, who invited Netanyahu to address Congress.

Although we haven't yet gained the strength to force the United States to adopt sanctions against Israel for its apartheid practices against Palestinians, we are part of a growing and formidable international movement, taking its lead from Palestinian civil society, that is running successful boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel and corporations that profit from its apartheid policies.

Be a part of this movement by demanding that Congress boycott Bibi's address

Congress never once invited a leader of Apartheid South Africa to address a joint meeting. Post-apartheid President Nelson Mandela was the first and only South African president to receive this honor.

Netanyahu's address this month to a joint meeting of Congress will be the seventh time an Israeli political leader does so.[2]

Tell your members of Congress that they should boycott Bibi's address.

Netanyahu's address to Congress coincides with the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Join us in Washington, DC, at the US Campaign-endorsed Move Over AIPAC gathering, May 21-24, as we continue to build our movement to end U.S. support for Israeli apartheid.



Monday, April 4, 2011

U.S. Boat to Gaza Leaders Challenge Netanyahu Threat to Impending Flotilla

US To Gaza is one of 339 member organizations in our U.S. nationwide coalition. Hope for the boat's success depends partly upon your support.

By US To Gaza

April 3, 2011

Human rights activists who are preparing to sail a U.S. ship in a 22-nation flotilla to Gaza at the end of May sharply criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's request to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to stop the boats from sailing.

Israel media reported on Friday that Netanyahu argued to the UN Secretary-General that the flotilla is a conglomerate of "extreme Islamists that are interested only in provocation" whose aim is to destroy Israel.

"Nothing could be further from the truth," said Jane Hirschmann and Richard Levy in a joint statement, both of New York, who are building support for the U.S. boat, named "The Audacity of Hope."

"We are appalled by this flagrant misrepresentation. The organizers and passengers of the U.S. boat--a committed, nonviolent, human rights mission sailing as part of the International Flotilla--are people from all walks of life, among them lawyers, social workers, artists, firefighters, midwives, writers, doctors, filmmakers, retired U.S. army personnel, veterans, women's rights organizers, teachers and nurses."

The Netanyahu approach to the UN came 11 months after Israeli naval forces boarded the Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, destined for Gaza on May 31 last year in an attempt to prevent it and several other ships from breaching the blockade. During that assault, 9 people were killed by Israeli forces.

The flotilla is not the problem, said Hirschmann and Levy in their statement. "Israel's conduct in Palestine is the problem. Israel's occupation of the West Bank, siege of Gaza, expansion of settlements, destruction of homes, usurpation of water and air rights, walls of confinement, brutal military presence, and daily sniper attacks on innocent civilians constitute the paramount violence and terrorism in the Mideast--conduct that we all abhor."

The U.S.-flagged "The Audacity of Hope" will be among many boats in the second International Freedom Flotilla, which its organizers said "will sail in peace and with a single nonviolent message, i.e., that the people of Gaza are entitled to the same life, liberty and pursuit of happiness that are the rights of every human being."


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A week in the life of a changing discourse on Israel/Palestine

Well, I (US Campaign National Media Coordinator David Hosey) just returned from a speaking tour in the Chicagoland area, and apparently while I was gone it became mainstream to challenge U.S. military aid to Israel and divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation. In all seriousness, though, what a week it's been. The much-publicized Israeli settlement-announcement-smack-in-the-face of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has created a storm of responses, many of them calling for the United States to condition or cut military aid to Israel. It was enough to make us wonder whether Biden was reading from our talking points! Mondoweiss covers just one example of this wave of support for ending U.S. military aid--a flurry of responses to CNN's Jack Cafferty's question "Is it time for the U.S. to get tough on Israel?" Check it out: US Campaign National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner appeared on a number of radio shows to discuss holding Israel accountable for a real settlement freeze, including a 20-minute live interview w/KPFK 90.7FM Los Angeles' Uprising! on March 12, a 15-minute live interview w/ WZBC Boston's Sounds of Dissent on March 13, a 1-hour live interview with 1450 AM Chicago's Radio Islam on March 15, and a 10-minute live interview w/ WBAI 99.5FM New York City also on March 15. Additionally, an Indiana University professor has come out in support of ending U.S. military aid, Time Magazine's Joe Klein has questioned AIPAC's opposition to the Obama Administration, and Jim Wall comments on some of the media coverage of Netanyahu's defiance on his Wallwritings blog. Even New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, no friend of human rights, sounds a bit frustrated with Israel (although Jim Wall points out that his framework is still completely skewed). On today's Democracy Now! broadcast, past US Campaign conference speaker Norman Finkelstein responded to comments by Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at this weekend's AIPAC conference: To add to the growing momentum around ending U.S. military aid to Israel, U.S. General David Petraeus has claimed that ongoing U.S. support for the Israeli occupation endangers U.S. troops abroad:
"On Jan. 16, two days after a killer earthquake hit Haiti, a team of senior military officers from the U.S. Central Command (responsible for overseeing American security interests in the Middle East), arrived at the Pentagon to brief Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The team had been dispatched by CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus to underline his growing worries at the lack of progress in resolving the issue. The 33-slide, 45-minute PowerPoint briefing stunned Mullen. The briefers reported that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CENTCOM's mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region, and that Mitchell himself was (as a senior Pentagon officer later bluntly described it) "too old, too slow ... and too late."
Frankly, we don't think that the United States should be involved in ANY foreign military occupation, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, or the occupied Palestinian territory, but nevertheless it's worth noting that criticism of U.S. support of Israel war crimes is gaining ground even with the U.S. military establishment. -- In other major news, the UC Berkeley Student Senate has voted to "to divest from companies who have supplied the state of Israel with materials used in alleged war crimes." Check out an article in the UC Berkeley newspaper, a press release from UC Berkeley SJP, and a response from Omar Barghouti of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, who refers to the divestment resolution as "the watershed, the crossing of the threshold in the spread of BDS across the US that many of us have been waiting to see." The SJP press release states:
"For the first time in the University of California history, the UC Berkeley Student Senate has approved a bill to divest from two US companies in response to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and to Israel’s siege and bombardment of the Gaza Strip. The Senate bill directs both the UC Regents and the Student Government to divest from General Electric and United Technologies. General Electric manufactures Apache helicopter engines; United Technologies manufactures Sikorsky helicopters and F-16 aircraft engines. In addition, the bill creates a task force to look into furthering a socially responsible investment policy for the UC system."
Congratulations to UC Berkeley, and to everyone who continues working to change the U.S. discourse and take real action for justice, peace, and human rights. Change--real change--is happening in front of our eyes!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

More Obama-Netanyahu follow up

Analysis of the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu keeps coming in. Here's US Campaign Steering Committee member Phyllis Bennis at the Institute for Policy Studies, arguing that there's not yet change we can believe in U.S. policy:

"This was a first meeting; at least in public, both politicians were playing primarily to their home audiences. The indicators so far were disappointing. But this was only round one. What happens next, privately and publicly, will be determined largely by the level of pressure that is brought to bear on Obama.

We know the capacity of Israel's U.S. supporters to raise that pressure. The question for us is how to challenge it, for diplomacy instead of threats towards Iran, and an end to U.S. support for Israeli occupation and apartheid and for a U.S. policy based on equality for all. We have to raise our own claims — regarding Iran and Palestine — based on holding Obama to his own promises — for a changed foreign policy, for an end to the mindset that leads to war.

There's a lot of work ahead."

Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti argues in the Los Angeles Times that if President Obama doesn't act for a two-state solution now, it will be never:
"It's now or almost certainly never. If Obama lacks the political will to stand up to Netanyahu now, he will lack the capacity later. And by the time Obama leaves office, it will be too late to salvage anything more than an archipelago of Palestinian Bantustans. We Palestinians seek freedom, not apartheid, and not the sort of Potemkin villages on the West Bank that Netanyahu is trying to package to the West as visionary economic boomtowns for desperate Palestinians."
US Campaign Steering Committee member Bill Fletcher, Jr., agrees:
"The recent Israeli elections have put into place an administration completely hostile to a peaceful settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Netanyahu's refusal to speak to a two-state solution and instead to discuss economic advancement of the Palestinians is reminiscent of those in the early 20th century who held that African Americans should not challenge Jim Crow segregation but should rather improve themselves economically, as if economic advancement can happen for an oppressed people in the absence of political freedom."
US Campaign Steering Committee member Adam Horowitz is wondering whether talk of the two-state solution will be replaced by the "side-by-side" solution. Meanwhile, US Campaign National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner writes in the Detroit Free Press that there is a gap between the Obama's rhetoric on budgetary responsibility and reality when it comes to U.S. military aid to Israel:
"As President Obama has stated, “We can't sustain a system that bleeds billions of taxpayer dollars, on programs that have outlived their usefulness or exist solely because of the power of politicians, lobbyists or interest groups. We simply can't afford it.” In regard to U.S. aid to Israel, this is true as much from a budgetary standpoint as it is from a moral one."
Don't just sit there! Get involved in the conversation. Let us know what you think about Obama and Netanyahu. And get involved in the work that is ahead to transform peace rhetoric into human rights reality.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Netanyahu and Obama

In a flurry of media attention and a blur of ambiguous promises, U.S. President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Monday in Washington, D.C. What are supporters of justice, international law, and human rights in Israel/Palestine to make of this meeting? Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, was featured on NBC News coverage of the meeting. He wonders what pressure the Obama Administration will be willing to apply to a Netanyahu administration hostile to Obama's preferred two-state solution: US Campaign Advisory Board member Nadia Hijab is wondering what sort of state Netanyahu and Obama are talking about for Palestinians, and worries that such a state will be "truncated." US Campaign Steering Committee member Phyllis Bennis echoes these fears. And US Campaign Steering Committee member Adam Horowitz is curious where Netanyahu's terminology is coming from. We don't have time to wait for a right-wing Israeli government to set the terms for peace. Join the conversation today! Act to end U.S. military aid to Israel by clicking here, and let us know what you think of the Obama-Netanyahu meeting by commenting to this post.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Phyllis Bennis on potential for change, dangers of Obama-Netanyahu meeting

What will come of Monday's meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu? US Campaign Steering Committee member Phyllis Bennis analyzes the prospects for change an the potential damages of this much heralded meeting. Read her analysis below, and click here to pressure the administration and Congress to end U.S. military aid to Israel. TALKING POINTS | By Phyllis Bennis NETANYAHU VISITS THE WHITE HOUSE: Change We Can Believe in for U.S.-Israeli Relations? May 15, 2009 Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is coming to Washington on May 18, for his first official visit with President Obama. If Obama is serious about achieving a two-state solution in his first term, and therefore serious about bringing real pressure to bear on Israel, there will be no better time to do so.* Obama, who has strongly supported the idea of a two-state solution since his campaign, has yet to articulate whether or not he is actually prepared to spend some of his massive political capital to exert serious pressure on Israel towards that end - for example, by conditioning (even some) of the currently committed $30 billion in U.S. military aid to a complete Israeli settlement freeze in the West Bank. If he means it, this could be the moment. Netanyahu's campaign rejection of the two-state solution, his rejection of continuing the current Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy and instead limiting negotiations to economic issues, and his extreme racist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman all serve to make a serious U.S. effort towards Israeli accountability not only timely, but less politically costly than ever. But there are serious dangers ahead. We still don't know for sure whether President Obama is indeed serious. There is little question he supports a two-state solution in the abstract, but that isn't enough. The question is: What he is willing to do to make it happen? Israel on its own, secure in its so-far unconditional U.S. military aid and uncritical protection in the UN and elsewhere, has no intention of making efforts to that end. What if Obama accepts a meaningless Netanyahu gesture as a significant concession? In recent days, as the Jewish Telegraphic Agency describes it, the White House is indicating that "Netanyahu has shown seriousness about accommodating Obama's push for renewed talks with the Palestinians." If the U.S. demand is simply that Israel renew talks, Obama will have failed the first test; "talks" have been the hallmark of at least 18 years of failed U.S.-backed Middle East diplomacy. "Talks," including the Madrid, Oslo "Road Map" and other agreements, have left the Palestinians with virtually nothing on the ground except for a virtually powerless "Palestinian Authority," expanding settlements, checkpoints, theft of land and water, the separation Wall in the West Bank, and the complete physical and human devastation of Gaza. Without an entirely different U.S. role - one based on explicit support for international law as the basis of any negotiations - a new round of talks will go nowhere. Another version of this scenario might be a sudden reversal of Netanyahu's current position, where he re-embraces the idea of a two-state solution. He could perhaps even promise some kind of action on settlements (most likely an agreement to dismantle settlement "outposts"). If Obama welcomes mere words, this will also mean repeating the failures of the past. A variety of Israeli governments have previously agreed to settlement freezes, explicitly including so-called "natural growth," and simply disregarded their obligation to implement them. They have agreed numerous times to dismantle their "outposts," which are the smaller symbolic settlements, only to allow or provide support for their immediate rebuilding. (In fact, all the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, not only the "outposts," are illegal under international law, including the huge city-settlements of Ma'ale Adumim, Ariel, and the vast East Jerusalem settlements disguised as "neighborhoods"). In any of these scenarios, Netanyahu might drop his ultra-nationalist rhetoric to endorse earlier Israeli "moderate" positions - none of which ever led towards ending the occupation. It's even possible that Netanyahu's extremist language was designed explicitly to be moderated as a "gift" to the U.S. president during just such a visit. But what if Obama falls for the trick, welcomes such inadequate promises with enthusiasm, calls them a great concession, thanks the Israeli leader profusely, and demands Palestinian concessions in return? If we go down this road, the Obama administration will have done nothing to hold Israel accountable to its promises, settlements will continue being built, and the Palestinians will once again be identified as the obstacle to peace. Then there's Iran. Netanyahu has continued to escalate his campaign rhetoric threatening military force against Iran, sometimes framing it as "what Israel will have to do if the U.S. does not prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon." Despite the agreement of all U.S. intelligence agencies (under the Bush administration, made public in the National Intelligence Estimate of December 2007) that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon, is not building a nuclear weapon, and may not even want a nuclear weapon, the claim that Iran somehow represents an "existential threat" to Israel continues. Netanyahu demands that the U.S. agree either to attack Iran if Obama's potential nuclear diplomacy doesn't work, or agree to support an Israeli attack on Iran. There are reports in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz that Obama sent an urgent message to Netanyahu just days before his visit, demanding that "Israel not surprise the U.S. with an Israeli military operation against Iran." If true, that would be a good sign. But it also gives credence to reports that Obama is considering creating a regional anti-Iran alliance - an extraordinarily dangerous proposal that will certainly escalate regional tensions - and wants to link that idea to an Israeli settlement freeze. That is, Obama may try to persuade Netanyahu to agree to a settlement freeze (implemented or not) as a necessary requirement to getting the Arab states on board a U.S.-Israeli anti-Iran alliance. U.S. backing for an Israeli military strike against Iran and creating a regional anti-Iran coalition would result in significant regional dangers, and won't lead to any possible progress in supporting regional stability or ending the Israeli occupation. So what do we look out for? At the recent AIPAC convention, Obama administration officials' and supporters' speeches put greater emphasis on Israeli actions than was ever true during the Bush years. Senator John Kerry called for a settlement freeze; Vice-President Biden called for Israel to "not build settlements, dismantle outposts and allow Palestinians access to freedom of movement." If Obama, meeting with Netanyahu, demands a real settlement freeze - meaning an end to construction, expansion and building in all settlements, not only outposts - it could signify a real change in U.S. policy towards Israel. But this demand will be effective only if it's backed up by specific enforcement mechanisms, like conditioning all (or even part) of the annual $3 billion in U.S. military aid to Israel until there is tangible, internationally confirmed action on the ground. That would certainly be a change we could believe in. Obama's acceptance of mere words from Netanyahu, on the other hand, whether he "accepts" a settlement freeze or "agrees" to a new round of talks about talks with the Palestinians, and not imposing any conditions to make sure it happens, will indicate that so far, at least, U.S. support for Israeli occupation and apartheid remain intact. And any "deal" that offers Israel any promise of U.S. support for or involvement in a military strike against Iran will undermine whatever small move towards justice might be possible from a settlement freeze or removal of roadblocks. Lots to watch for. Stay tuned. * My reference to a two-state solution in this context does not mean that I believe such an arrangement will ultimately be viable, sustainable, comprehensive or maybe even possible - let alone just. But active support for it is the basis for Obama's claim of a different U.S. policy towards Israel and the Palestinians - and it would certainly transform the political terrain. __________________________________________________________________ Phyllis Bennis is a Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies. Her most recent book is Ending the Iraq War: A Primer. If you want to receive her talking points and articles on a regular basis, click here and choose "New Internationalism."