Showing posts with label obama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label obama. Show all posts

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Josh Ruebner's "Shattered Hopes" Book Tour Comes to Pennsylvania, Mar. 27- Apr. 1

Last fall, Josh Ruebner, our National Advocacy Director, shared the exciting news of the publication of his first book, Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace.

We are excited to announce that he will be visiting Pennsylvania Thursday, March 27 to Tuesday, April 1. We hope that you can join him at one or more of the events he'll be doing-- at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, Friends of Sabeel Conference in Philadelphia, PA, Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, PA, University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, and Pennsylvania State University in State College, PA.

Below is the flyer for the events. Click here for the PDF version.

If you plan on attending the Friends of Sabeel Conference, please register here. RSVP and invite your friends on Facebook to Temple University here, Lutheran Theological Seminary here and for more information, call 717-334-3871, University of Pittsburgh here, and Pennsylvania State University here

For additional information on Josh's spring book tour, see his website here. We look forward to seeing you there!

--Ntebo Mokuena, U.S. Campaign Intern

Josh Ruebner's "Shattered Hopes" Book Tour Comes to the Triangle Area, Mar. 25-26

Last fall, Josh Ruebner, our National Advocacy Director, shared the exciting news of the publication of his first book, Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace.

We are excited to announce that he will be visiting the Triangle Area Tuesday, March 25 and Wednesday, March 26. We hope that you can join him at one or more of the events he'll be doing-- at Church of Reconciliation (USA) in Chapel Hill, NC, Meredith College in Raleigh, NC, and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill, NC. 

Below is the flyer for the events. Click here for the PDF version.

RSVP and invite your friends on Facebook to Church of Reconciliation (USA) here, Meredith College here, and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill here.
For additional information on Josh's spring book tour, see his website here. We look forward to seeing you there!

--Ntebo Mokuena, U.S. Campaign Intern

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Josh Ruebner's "Shattered Hopes" Book Tour Comes to Iowa and Nebraska, Mar. 3-6

Last fall, Josh Ruebner, our National Advocacy Director, shared the exciting news of the publication of his first book, Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace.

We are excited to announce that he will be visiting Iowa and Nebraska from Monday, March 3 to Thursday, March 6. We hope that you can join him at one or more of the events he'll be doing-- at Coralville Public Library in Coralville, IA, Central College in Pella, IA, Drake University in Des Moines, IA, University of Nebraska at Omaha in Omaha, NE, Countryside Community Church in Omaha, NE, and University of Nebraska at Lincoln in Lincoln, NE.

Below is a flyer for the events. Click here for the PDF version.

RSVP and invite your friends on Facebook to the events at Coralville Public Library here, Central College (details TBA), Drake University here, University of Nebraska at Omaha here, Countryside Community Church here, and University of Nebraska at Lincoln here.

For additional information on Josh's spring book tour, see his website here. We look forward to seeing you there!

--Ntebo Mokuena, U.S. Campaign Intern

Friday, September 13, 2013

Josh Ruebner's Shattered Hopes Book Tour in DC Area, Sept. 15-20

Yesterday I shared the exciting news of the publication of my first book Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace.

For those of you in the Washington, D.C. area, I'll be kicking off my book tour in D.C., Columbia, MD and Arlington, VA beginning Sunday, September 15-Friday, September 20.

Below is a flyer (click on it or here for a larger version) with all the event details. Click here for a larger PDF version.
Hope to see you at an upcoming event!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Obama comes out as being "decidedly more attentive to Israel"

It's really hard to believe that the United States has been able to claim to be an "honest broker" between Palestinians and Israelis for so long. One quick look into the history of U.S. support for Israel exposes this claim: between 1968 and 2008, the United States gave Israel more than $67 billion of taxpayer-funded military aid grants and loans. In 2007 the Bush Administration signed an agreement with Israel to provide an additional $30 billion in weapons from 2009 to 2018.

Yet this claim has been made again and again, administration after administration. And that is why we should perhaps give Obama some credit for being honest when he told a delegation of U.S. Orthodox Jewish leaders visiting the White House yesterday that his administration is "
decidedly more attentive to Israel than it is to the Palestinians."

This admission is a reminder of how complicit the United States is in Israeli occupation and apartheid. Without unconditional U.S. military and diplomatic support, Israel could not continue its systematic human rights abuses against Palestinians. It is the responsibility of every U.S. taxpayer to work to put an end to this injustice. 

You can do your part by taking these actions: 

  • Donate $45 to help change U.S. policy to support human rights, international law and equality
  • Sign up to organize opposition in your community to U.S. military aid for Israel
  • Read our policy paper "U.S. Military Aid to Israel: Policy Implications and Options"
  • RSVP to our 11th Annual National Organizers' Conference September 21-23, 2012 at St. Louis University

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Obama Admin. Catalogues Effort to Protect Israeli Occupation/Apartheid at UN

It will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that the Obama Administration has repeatedly taken decisive measures in the United Nations to protect Israeli occupation and apartheid toward the Palestinians and to prevent the international community from holding Israel accountable for its numerous violations of human rights and international law.

We've seen this over and over again.  From undermining UN fact-finding missions on "Operation Cast Lead" and the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, to vetoing a mild condemnatory resolution in the Security Council about Israel's illegal settlements, to scotching Palestine's UN membership bid, the Obama Administration has doggedly worked to prevent the UN from protecting or advancing Palestinian human rights.

For anyone who doubts this to be the case or was perhaps unaware of this, the Obama Administration has now usefully encapsulated its myriad efforts to protect Israeli occupation and apartheid in the UN.

On April 24, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Esther Brimmer--a key player in the Obama Administration's effort to protect Israeli occupation and apartheid in the UN--delivered a speech to the American Jewish Community of Greater Miami and Broward in which she enumerated all of the ways in which the Obama Administration shields Israel from accountability in the UN.

According to Brimmer, "We have opposed unbalanced, one-sided resolutions, at the UN General Assembly, the Security Council, UNESCO, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN Human Rights Council and elsewhere."

Brimmer rightfully notes that "Over the past several months, we have engaged in a global diplomatic marathon to oppose the Palestinian membership bid in New York and elsewhere in the UN system."

Not for the first time does Brimmer equate Palestinian efforts to secure their long-denied human and national rights through the UN as undermining Israel.  In her zero-sum mentality, "we vehemently reject [these] attempts to de-legitimize the State of Israel."

For an Administration that came to office supposedly rejecting the us versus them foreign policy dichotomy of its predecessor, it is distressing to see the Obama Administration adopt this same type of rhetoric when it comes to its approach toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: any advance in Palestinian rights is a diminution of Israel's legitimacy. Is the Obama Administration also then willing to argue the converse?  Namely, that Israel's "legitimacy" can only be predicated on the continual denial of Palestinian rights.  That seems a bit illogical.

Well, even if Brimmer failed to clarify how advancing Palestinian rights "delegitimizes Israel," at least she put in one succinct place all of the Obama Administration's efforts to protect Israeli occupation and apartheid.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Obama Goes to AIPAC: A Scorecard

US Campaign Steering Committee member Phyllis Bennis analyzes President's Obama's speech to AIPAC in this Salon article.  Phyllis writes:

Aside from the rhetorical pandering on Iran, perhaps the biggest failure in Obama’s AIPAC speech was in its giving Israel a get-out-of-accountability-free card. Clearly Israel has no reason to worry about any possible U.S. pressure to end its occupation and apartheid policies. Any Obama administration commitment to working to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is over, at least till after the elections. 
Read the rest of this important article, comment on it, and share it via social media here:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Quartet's Continued Path to Irrelevance

Shawan Jabarin, the General Director of the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq, writes a devastating critique of the absurdity and irrelevancy of the Quartet and the role the United States plays within it in today's  Foreign Policy.

The Obama Administration would do itself a huge favor if it listened to the advice of people like Shawan instead of abysmal failures like Israel-firster Dennis Ross who somehow still has the President's ear even after resigning his position after yet another stellar go at managing the "peace process."

(L-R) Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair,
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-Moon, Russian Foreign Minister
Sergei Lavrov, and EU representative Catherine
Ashton. Photo: Chris Hondros / Getty Images
Shawan observes: "The Quartet mission, as currently conceived, represents the latest embodiment of the existing political mechanism that has perpetuated the conflict and granted extended license to Israel's violations. While it did succeed in securing U.S. involvement in the peace process, this involvement developed to the point that theirs was the single most definitive voice, draining legitimacy from the other participants. At present, therefore, there is precious little to be gained from Palestinian engagement with the Quartet. Similarly, any argument for continued participation in the latest bout of negotiations is quickly fading given Israel's insistence on settlement expansion and the creation of more facts on the ground. As one commentator has noted, the Quartet, much like the peace process itself, is obsolete, aimless, and without any viable strategic purpose -- and it has been reduced to calling for gestures of goodwill."

You can read the entire article and comment on it here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Seek and Ye Shall Find

Yesterday, we let you know that President Obama's 2013 budget request increased U.S. military aid to Israel to $3.1 billion and we also provided you with actions you can take to end these weapons transfers to Israel.

The President's budget also proposed nearly $500 billion in cuts to military spending over ten years, including some small decreases in U.S. funding for joint Pentagon-Israeli research and development of anti-missile projects, which are appropriations above and beyond those allocated for bilateral military aid.

This slight decrease--more than made up for by increases in actual military aid--elicited howls of ridiculous indignation from the Republican Jewish Coalition, which breathlessly interpreted this to mean "that the Obama administration is asking Israel to risk its security and survival."  Seriously?

Not to worry though, Israel-firsters. Never mind the fact that the 2013 budget proposes drastic cuts to basic services that Americans have the right to expect and demand from their government. Never mind the fact that even with these proposed cuts, the budget request would still add nearly $1 trillion to the already-bloated $15 trillion debt.

See, all Israel and its lobbyists have to do is ask for more money and Congress will hand it over on a silver platter, according to a staffer for a Democratic Representative on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, who told the Jerusalem Post that "Funding for US-Israel missile defense will continue to rise despite the budget request."

So breathe a sigh of relief RJC and all other Israel lobby outfits. Since you have successfully "bought and paid for" Congress, according to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, you really have nothing to worry about. Israel will continue to get ever-expanding amounts of both military aid AND research and development aid from the Pentagon while Americans receive ever-less services from its increasingly debt-addled government.  

Might as well grab everything you can as the ship is sinking, right?  

We've got a lot of work to do to turn this political equation upside down.  Help us do so today by getting involved with our campaign to end U.S. military aid to Israel.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

SOTU Silence

In a clear indication of just how far off the Obama Administration's radar screen Israeli-Palestinian peace has fallen, last night's State of the Union address contained just one perfunctory sentence designed yet again to convince the doubters that indeed Israel has never had it as good as it does under President Obama.

The President stated for the umpteenth time: "Our ironclad commitment -- and I mean ironclad -- to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history."

For anyone who's still unsure, let's repeat the mantra one more time: ironclad commitment.

Mr. President, when will you express your ironclad commitment to ensuring Palestinian human rights, systematically denied by Israeli apartheid?

What a good question to ask of Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting, who will be doing "office hours" at 11am Eastern on Friday.

Here's how to join the conversation on Twitter:

Let us know if he answers your Tweet.  If so, then you'll have better access to the Obama Administration than us.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Obama's Real Israel Problem

US Campaign Steering Committee member Phyllis Bennis published a strong piece in the L.A. Times calling for equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis as the basis for a change in U.S. policy to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a just and equitable way.

Check out her op-ed below and comment on it here.

Obama's real Israel problem -- and it isn't Bibi
Phyllis Bennis
January 6, 2012

Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, responds to The Times' Jan. 2 Op-Ed article, "Bibi and Barack." Bennis is the coauthor of "Ending the U.S. War in Afghanistan: A Primer" and the author of "Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer." 
If you would like to write a full-length response to a recent Times article, editorial or Op-Ed, here are our FAQs and submission policy.
Photo credit: J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press
Aaron David Miller is right: President Obama does have an Israel problem. But Miller is wrong about the roots of the problem.

The problem isn't Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or his Likud Party, or even Israel's current extreme right-wing government. Israel's fundamental policy toward the Palestinians is the problem, and that policy has hardly changed, despite the seemingly diverse sequence of left, right and center parties that have been in power.

Just look at the occupation of the territories seized in 1967 -- the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Settlement building, along with all the land and water theft that goes with it, began just weeks after the Six-Day War. And a right-wing government wasn't in power; it was Mapai, the left-wing precursor to today's Labor Party. The right wing wouldn't come to power until almost three decades after Israel's founding, when Menachem Begin led the Likud coalition to victory in 1977.

Settlement construction and expansion started right after the war and continued under all the leftist (in the Israeli context) governments. By the time Likud came to power 10 years after the 1967 war, there were already more than 50,000 Israeli settlers living in Jews-only settlements in the occupied territories, most of them in occupied East Jerusalem, with smaller numbers in the West Bank and Gaza. Settlement expansion advanced under Labor, Likud and Kadima-led governments. Now there are more than 600,000 settlers living illegally in Palestinian territory, divided between the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

As Moshe Dayan, a former defense and foreign minister, explained, the settlements were necessary "not because they can ensure security better than the army but because without them we cannot keep the army in those territories. Without them the [Israel Defense Forces] would be a foreign army ruling a foreign population."

The different parties, prime ministers and officials sometimes used different language. Some repeated the words the international community wanted, a "land for peace" deal and "two states"; others insisted that only "peace for peace" or "Jordan is Palestine" was acceptable. Some spoke loudly in defense of settlements, while others only whispered.

But there was no diversity of substance. What happened in the real world, the "facts on the ground," continued regardless of which party was in power.

Other things continued too -- settler violence against Palestinians, expropriation of Palestinian land and water, illegal closures, collective punishments including massive armed assault, arrest without charge, extra-judicial assassinations and the siege of Gaza.

Of course, that's just in the occupied territories. Inside Israel, Arab Israelis -- those who survived the dispossession of 1947-48 -- live as second-class citizens. They have the right to vote, but they are subject to legalized discrimination in favor of the Jewish majority. The Israeli human rights organization Adalah reported to the United Nations more than 20 such discriminatory laws, the most important of which deny Palestinian citizens equal rights on issues of immigration and citizenship as well as land ownership. And outside, the Palestinian refugees, now numbering in the millions, have been denied their internationally guaranteed right of return by Israeli governments of every political stripe.

The whole range of Israeli political parties has continued to implement these same policies. They may talk a different talk, but they all walk the same walk.

What none of these governments is prepared to acknowledge is what it will take for a real solution, one that is lasting, comprehensive and just: human rights and equality for all based on international law. It shouldn't be more complicated than that. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifies everyone has the right to return to their home country, no exceptions; that everyone has the right to live in safety, no exceptions; that everyone has the right to an equal say in the government that rules their country, no exceptions.

Every law should treat all citizens the same, no exceptions. Every government has the obligation to live up to the treaties it has signed, including the U.N. conventions on human rights, against racism, the Geneva Conventions and more. Israel has signed them all. Yet not one Israeli government, of any party, has implemented them.

As long as the United States provides the Israeli government more than $3 billion in aid every year, regardless of those violations, and protects Israel from being held accountable in the U.N., regardless of those violations, no Israeli prime minister has much reason to change. That's Obama's Israel problem -- not Netanyahu. Changing U.S. policy should provide the solution.


Bibi and Barack

Middle East states of mind

Settlement outposts at root of Jewish violence in West Bank

-- Phyllis Bennis


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Plans Crystallize for Largest-Ever U.S.-Israel Military Exercise

Last year we reported on emerging plans for "Operation Austere Challenge," the largest-ever joint U.S.-Israeli military exercise, planned for May 2012. As it turns out, the planning for the mission is now in its final stages, according to the Jerusalem Post.  Last month, Lt.-Gen. Frank Gorenc, commander of the U.S. 3rd Air Force, stationed in Germany, visited Israel last month to hammer out the remaining logistics of a training exercise that is expected to include thousands of U.S. troops.

According to the Jerusalem Post article, the exercises "will include the establishment of US command posts in Israel and IDF command posts at EUCOM headquarters in Germany - with the ultimate goal of establishing joint task forces in the event of a large-scale conflict in the Middle East."

"Austere Challenge" is another in a long series of events underscoring the extent to which the Obama Administration has jacked up U.S. military support to Israel.  Under President Obama, U.S. military aid to Israel has reached unprecedented heights ($3.075 billion in the recently completed 2012 budget).  Separate Pentagon funding for the research and development of ostensibly joint U.S.-Israeli anti-missile programs (though deployed by and exclusively benefiting Israel) now account for hundreds of millions of additional dollars each year. And Obama has shipped to Israel weapons systems that even his predecessor, George Bush, refused to export.

Clearly, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's charge of Obama "throwing Israel under the bus" is patently absurd, as U.S.-Israel military relations have soared to unprecedented levels of collaboration under his watch.

All the more reason why we need to redouble our efforts in 2012 to end U.S. military aid to Israel and other forms of U.S. military and diplomatic support of Israeli occupation and apartheid against the Palestinian people.

Check out some of our new resources and initiatives and help us accomplish this goal!

We've got new posters and stickers to add to the organizing packets we send out to volunteers to educate and mobilize people to end U.S. military aid to Israel.  Join our more than 2,000 organizers in more than 930 cities in getting all the resources you'll need to organize in your community by signing up here.

Also, check out our newly redesigned and interactive map at to find out how much money your state, Congressional district, city, and county are giving in weapons to Israel and what that money could fund instead for unmet community needs.  Our new map makes it easier for you to find all the data you're looking for on one page.

Finally, we'll be working with local groups across the country in 2012 to launch organizing campaigns to get city councils to pass resolutions to end U.S. military aid to Israel and redirect the money to unmet community needs.  Find out more about this initiative on our website

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New York Times' Ethan Bronner suddenly sounds like us!

The following excerpt is from an editorial on page A10 of today's edition of the New York Times. It comes under the headline "Israelis Happy at Home but Glum About Peace," and it sounds surprisingly agreeable -- given Ethan Bronner's usual point of view -- to what the US Campaign has been insisting for weeks in our efforts to mobilize grassroots opposition against the Obama Administration's obstruction of Palestinian UN membership...
"...The sense over the past two years that President Obama was growing angry with Israel and steering American policy away from its interests subsided last week. The parts of Mr. Obama’s United Nations speech about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could have been written by any official here. It said nothing about Israeli settlements, the 1967 lines, occupation or Palestinian suffering, focusing instead on Israel’s defense needs.
Avigdor Lieberman, the hawkish foreign minister, said afterward that he would be happy to sign Mr. Obama’s speech “with both hands.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Straining Every Nerve Against UN Membership for Palestine

Josh Ruebner is the US Campaign's National Advocacy Director. His article below appeared yesterday in Dissident Voice. Learn more about the US Campaign's actions and perspectives on Palestine UN membership here on our website.

The Roman philosopher and politician Cicero urged orators to “Strain every nerve to gain your point.”  The Obama Administration appears to have taken his advice to heart in its attempts to make the case that the United States should oppose Palestinian efforts to gain membership in the United Nations this fall.
However, its rhetoric has been so convoluted, its logic so flawed, and its reasoning so shoddy that its efforts have been desultory and unconvincing.  Take, for example, the following quotes:
No vote at the United Nations will ever create an independent Palestinian state.  And the United States will stand up against efforts to single Israel out at the United Nations or in any international forum. (Applause.)  Israel’s legitimacy is not a matter for debate.
— President Barack Obama, Remarks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference, May 22, 2011
There are so many historical inaccuracies, deliberate obfuscations of political realities, and hyperbolic assumptions that it is difficult to know where to begin to unpack these three crucial sentences.
To assert, boldly, that no action will ever achieve its goal, then at the very least the President should have the historical record on his side. Despite the President’s bluster, he is powerless to stop the UN from voting to create an independent Palestinian state because it already did so—in 1947. UN General Assembly Resolution 181, which ironically never would have passed were it not for the intensive diplomatic arm-twisting of the United States, recommended partitioning Palestine into two states: a Jewish State comprising 55 percent of historic Palestine, and an Arab State totaling 45 percent, with Jerusalem as acorpus separatum, an open, international city administered by the UN.  The UN voted to endorse this partition plan, which was never implemented, at a time when Palestinian Arabs owned approximately 93 percent of the land, and Jews owned 7 percent.
For these past 64 years, Israel’s actions to ethnically cleanse as much of historic Palestine of as many Palestinians as possible has been the primary obstacle to implementing the UN Partition Plan. Today, Israel relentlessly continues to colonize the 22 percent of historic Palestine (the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip) that has been envisioned as a Palestinian state in proposed two-state resolutions to the conflict since 1967, rendering even this bread crumb a remote likelihood.
Also, if the President is going to stake out such an unequivocal position on an issue, then at the very least he should state clearly the actual issue at hand. As the President knows, the UN may be asked to admit the State of Palestine as a member, not to vote on creating a Palestinian state. Since the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) declared independence in 1988, more than 120 countries have recognized and established some form of diplomatic relations with the State of Palestine.  As the international lawyers of the State Department must surely know, the UN does not recognize states.  Only states can recognize other states.  The UN can only determine if that state is admitted as a member.  By conflating these two issues, the President intentionally ups the ante of what is at stake as a pretext to justify his opposition to this Palestinian initiative.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Take Action: Tell U.S. Not to Veto Palestine's Membership in UN Security Council

Last Friday an estimated 2,000 Palestinians and Israelis marched together through the streets of Jerusalem in support of Palestinian efforts to gain UN membership and additional statehood recognition when the UN meets this fall.

Envisioning a future free of Israeli military occupation, apartheid and colonization, these protesters carried placards declaring "We March Together for Liberation," and "Solidarity with Palestine."

Take action now to echo their message to the Obama Administration.

Who stands in their way? Our government does. The United States is trying furiously to restart the morally bankrupt "peace process," which perpetually fails because our government acts as "Israel's lawyer," in the words of former negotiator Aaron David Miller.

By dangling before Palestinians the prospect of renewed, biased, and interminable negotiations in exchange for dropping their UN membership bid, the United States is hoping to avert the embarrassment of vetoing Palestine's application in the Security Council and thereby once again exposing itself as the guarantor of Israeli military occupation and apartheid. 

Above: These signs appeared among the 2,000 protesters last Friday in Jerusalem.

But, as Friday's demonstrators reminded us: "Only Free People Can Negotiate."  And Palestinians are not free people while living under Israeli occupation, as second-class citizens of Israel, or as refugees whom Israel exiled from their homes.

Palestinians are seeking membership in the United Nations as a way toward Palestinian freedom and self-determination, but President Obama mistakenly has equated this with "efforts to single Israel out" at the UN and has promised to "stand up against" this initiative.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote in his Letter from Birmingham Jail that the worst stumbling block to freedom's advance is the person who "believes he can set the timetable for another" person's freedom.

Join the US Campaign and other prominent national organizations--including: the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Jews for a Just Peace, American Muslims for Palestine, CODEPINK--Women for Peace, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Friends of Sabeel--North America, Interfaith Peace-Builders, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)--USA, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Peace Action--to urge the Obama Administration not to set a timetable on another's freedom by vetoing Palestine's UN membership application.

This could be debated in the Security Council as early as July 25, so join us today in signing this important petition.

Above: Click to watch our hand-delivery of 7,500 signatures to Ambassador Rice last February, demanding the U.S. support a UN resolution against Israeli settlements.

If we get 100 organizations and 10,000 individuals to endorse the petition, then we'll deliver it to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice before the vote.

Please take action today and then help us spread the word!

Want to learn more about Palestine UN membership and statehood recognition? Check out our FAQ to get our position and to explore the political, legal and historical issues. Plus, check out more in-depth analysis here.

Thank you for taking action to tell the Obama Administration not to veto Palestine's UN membership application.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Take Action: Support the Freedom Riders

As the Gaza Freedom Flotilla II, "Stay Human," is preparing to set sail this month, it's more important than ever to ensure its safe passage and prepare to take emergency action if Israel follows through with its threats of using attack dogs and other violent--potentially life-threatening--means to intercept the boats, as was done in the past.

Please join us for a conference call this Thursday, June 23, with Leslie Cagan, organizer for the U.S. Boat to Gaza, and Laila El-Haddad, author of Gaza Mom, to talk about actions we can take to support the Freedom Flotilla.

Laila will brief participants on the political and humanitarian developments in Gaza, including the changing situation with Egypt at the Rafah border. Leslie will update participants about the flotilla and lay out concrete ways for people to prepare and spring into action once it sets sail.

Please RSVP here to participate in the flotilla response organizing call this Thursday, June 23, at 6:00 pm Pacific / 9:00 pm Eastern.

Above: Peace activist and author Kathy Kelly explains her reasons for going on the U.S. Boat to Gaza (click to watch).

Above: Gail Miller explains her reasons for going on the U.S. Boat to Gaza (click to watch).

Last week the courageous passengers of the U.S. Boat to Gaza, "The Audacity of Hope," sent this letter to President Obama demanding that the U.S. government ensure safe passage for the unarmed passengers:

We need to keep the pressure on! Please sign this letter to President Obama to support the right of The Audacity of Hope to safe passage.

You can read the flotilla passengers' biographies here and hear their reasons for going on the U.S. Boat here.

The situation in Gaza remains dire. Just last week, Chris Gunness, spokesperson for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), reported here that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip live under an Israeli blockade that "deliberately impoverishes ... and condemns hundreds of thousands of potentially productive people to a life of destitution."

The U.S. Boat to Gaza organizing committee is urging people around the country to plan now for emergency response actions. The power of such actions will be determined by the number and geographic spread of participants. If you haven't already, it's time to start planning!

Let's keep the pressure on by signing this letter to President Obama and preparing to act together and quickly to support the courageous freedom riders in their journey to break the siege of Gaza.

Hoping to talk with you Thursday!

Rana Libdeh
Membership & Outreach

Anna Baltzer
National Organizer

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Obama Enables Israeli-Palestinian Status Quo He Claims Is Unsustainable

By Josh Ruebner, US Campaign National Advocacy Director
Huffington Post, May 23, 2011

For all of President Obama's repeated insistence that the status quo in Israeli-Palestinian relations is unsustainable, recent developments make clear that his administration has no new ideas or strategies to achieve a breakthrough toward peace.

His statements during three recent high-profile events -- last Thursday's address at the State Department on the Arab Spring, last Friday's bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sunday's speech at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) -- reveal the president committed to reinforcing, rather than altering, the current state of affairs.

The president made waves on Thursday when he stated, "The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps." Many analysts interpreted his remarks as a bold, new policy statement that the United States would pressure Israel to revert to its 1949 armistice lines.

Even had Obama put this forward as his initiative, it would have broken no new ground. In fact, ending Israel's illegal 44-year military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip and returning to its pre-1967 lines has been the underlying assumption of all negotiations for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After all, the United Nations adopted, with full U.S. backing, Security Council Resolution 242, which reiterates the "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war."


Obama, Israel, and the 1967 Borders

Phyllis Bennis is a member of the US Campaign Steering Committee, and director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. She comments here on last week's speech by President Obama urging for a peace process in the Middle East.

"There is nothing new," says New Internationalism Director Phyllis Bennis about Obama's plan for the Middle East. In fact, this speech kept in line with the Israel position that the Palestinean state will have to give up the land of the settlements, according to Bennis. President Obama went further and accepted the Jewish state, thereby accepting the legal apartheid that exists there, Bennis added.

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, January 25, 2011

Obama Is Looking for New Ideas in All the Old Places

By Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director Politico’s Laura Rozen reported earlier this month that the White House has convened two different task forces to provide the Obama Administration with new ideas for moving forward its efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace. At first glance, this would appear to be good news given the rut in which President Obama has got himself mired. An anonymous adviser to the White House stated the obvious: the Administration is “utterly stuck” on how to move forward with there being “no pretense of progress.” It’s no wonder they’re stuck. We’ve been arguing for nearly two years now that the Obama Administration has had no coherent strategy either to truly freeze Israeli settlement building or manage direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on a basis that could have even a remote chance of success. Recent leaks from the Palestine Papers and Cable Gate cast doubt over whether these even have been actual policy goals. New ideas are desperately needed, but the President won’t find any by looking in all the old places. Rozen notes that the efforts are being headed up by Sandy Berger, Stephen Hadley, Martin Indyk, and Dennis Ross. In other words, many of the primary architects of failed U.S. “peace process” efforts under Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama himself. Can’t you just see it now—the four of them sitting around a circle, engaging in intense, Viet Cong-style self-criticism sessions, realizing the errors of their ways, and coming up with some brilliant new ideas? Doubtful. If the President were truly serious about getting some new ideas for advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace, then he would look outside the small coterie of failed policy-makers who time and again have fit to a tee Aaron David Miller’s candid observation that: “many American officials involved in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, myself included, have acted as Israel's attorney, catering and coordinating with the Israelis at the expense of successful peace negotiations. If the United States wants to be an honest and effective broker on the Arab-Israeli issue, than surely it can have only one client: the pursuit of a solution that meets the needs and requirements of both sides.” Yet, Dennis Ross, now eclipsing George Mitchell as the main policy-maker on President Obama's approach to the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process," is the last person in the world to look to for new ideas, especially ones that are not biased in Israel's favor. Consider this stunning admission from his massive 2004 tome, "The Missing Peace," (p. 55) on how he managed the "peace process": "'Selling' became part of our modus operandi--beginning a pattern that would characterize our approach throughout the Bush and Clinton years. We would take Israeli ideas or ideas that the Israelis could live with and work them over--trying to increase their attractiveness to the Arabs while trying to get the Arabs to scale back their expectations. Why did this pattern emerge? The realities dictated it." Ah, yes. Those amorphous "realities" caused him to deliberately construct a policy designed to produce maximum results for Israel and minimum results for the undifferentiated "Arabs." It would be difficult to fabricate a statement more revelatory of his bias than this. To counter this atrocious bias in past policy-making, ever since Barack Obama was elected president in November 2008, we have tried repeatedly to meet with his foreign policy team to provide them with exactly the kinds of policy ideas needed to establish Israeli-Palestinian peace on the basis of human rights, international law, and equality. We tried the transition team, the White House, the National Security Council, the State Department. Nothing—no meetings agreed to, no phone calls returned. I guess we could still try to schedule a meeting with Bo. Since President Obama is looking for new ideas, we take this opportunity to reiterate publicly our offer to meet with any Administration official, at any level, at any time to share our ideas. Our phone number is 202-332-0994. Give us a call when you’re ready to hear something new. Here’s one policy idea that the President has not contemplated: compel Israel to behave in accordance with human rights and international law by ending U.S. military aid until it does so. Tomorrow, we launch our campaign to challenge military aid to Israel in the FY2012 budget cycle. Next month, President Obama is expected to request a record-breaking appropriation of $3.075 billion of military aid for Israel. That’s $21.59 for the average individual taxpayer. We’ll be launching an open letter—“We Cannot Afford Military Aid to Israel”—to the President and Congress initiated by us, ADC, Code Pink, Global Exchange, JVP, Peace Action, and PDA. You can get a sneak peek at the letter here. This month we marked the 50th anniversary of President Eisenhower’s prophetic “military-industrial complex” farewell address. Earlier in his presidency, Ike sanctioned Israel after it invaded Egypt with British and French collusion and won the admiration of the entire developing world for his principled stand. He cut off all forms of U.S. aid until Israel complied with a U.S.-sponsored UN Security Council Resolution to return to its border with Egypt. As President Obama collects ideas, here’s a simple one: be like Ike. Learn more about our campaign to challenge U.S. military aid to Israel, and how you can get involved.