As we write this Campaign Update for September, reports from the Occupied
Palestinian Territories are grim and the region is full of foreboding
and fears of impending war. The need to change US policy to prevent
death and destruction in Palestine and Israel--and war in the region--impels
us to redouble our efforts.
Some good news: the Campaign is rapidly growing. We now have over
500 members-- individual and institutional-- and new members are signing
on each day.
Word of the Campaign has spread, through outreach and action alerts.
We have been contacted by the United Nations to participate in the
upcoming conference of civil society on Palestine.
New resources are available on the web to support our work. And our
congressional task force is actively looking for district coordinators--if
you want to take on this task, please see below for more information.
Members have finalized the National Pledge for just peace in the Middle
East--an organizing tool for Campaign groups nationwide to educate
constituencies and demand that their elected officials change US policy.
The Pledge has been piloted by Global Exchange at various events around
the anniversary of September 11th. It will be posted on the web soon.
The Congressional Task Force is calling for volunteers to become Congressional
District Coordinators for the Campaign. The CDC is the primary link
between community activists in local Congressional districts and the
Campaign's nation-wide advocacy initiatives. If you are interested,
information is available here.
Several groups met with their Congressional Rep in their districts
during August. Activists argued against plans to attack Iraq and called
for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. To support these
efforts, we circulated--on August 21--Action Points on the urgent
need for humanitarian assistance and an international protection force
to protect civilians until the occupation was ended.
Members are discussing with SUSTAIN ways in which we can help to facilitate
a nationwide campaign to stop Caterpillar sales and technical support
to Israel of the bulldozers being used to demolish Palestinian homes,
build bypass roads, and other illegal acts. The CAT Campaign is an
entry point to education Americans about the need to change the role
of our Government and US Corporations.
SUSTAIN (Stop US Tax-Funded Aid to Israel Now) has organized some
creative direct action against Caterpillar, most recently a citizen’s
arrest of Caterpillar CEOs--check it out on http://www.sustaincampaign.org.
The following new materials has recently been added to the Campaign
New materials include a Congressional Report Card (compiled by Task
Force co-chair Josh Ruebner ) which shows how your Rep has been voting,
tips on how to engage your Rep, and a report from a member on their
experiences in contact their Reps and candidates.
New material includes information
to use in local campaigns to stop Caterpillar sales to Israel, based
on the excellent brochure Martha Reese distributed at the Chicago
conference in June, plus links to other resources and information
The United Nations is organizing an International Conference of Civil
Society in Support of the Palestinian People on 23 and 24 September.
It’s theme: Ending the Occupation! The conference is being organized
by the Division for Palestinian Rights of the UN Secretariat. Such
conferences were organized during the 1980s and early 1990s. This
is the first one for several years. The organizers expect some 200
participants from Europe, the Middle East and North America. Panels
include: “the daily face of occupation”, “civil
society and occupation,” “challenging the occupation,”
and “ending the occupation.”
The US Campaign has been asked to speak in the final session “ending
the occupation” on “national and international campaigns
to mobilize public opinion,” and to join the follow-up steering
committee. We will circulate a summary after the meeting.
Nancy Murray has joined the Steering Committee to serve as liaison
with member organizations. Working with Geoff, Nancy is building a
page on the web with information and links to Campaign member groups.
This will help groups network with each other across the US, as well
as providing information to people who want to get involved in different
states. Nancy is also working on a “How To” guideline
for people who want to set up their own groups to promote just peace.
The US Campaign focuses on changing US policy, but many of our members
are in touch with many groups supporting human rights on the ground.
1) Right to Education
We have just received an appeal from Birzeit University to support
the Palestinians’ right to education. The appeal can be found
at the end of this message. If you want to sign the appeal, send an
email to email@example.com
with “Birzeit” as the subject. The Palestine Center (formerly
the Center for Policy Analysis in Palestine) has agreed to serve as
the US base of the Birzeit Campaign.
2) Right to Shelter
The Israeli Committee
Against House Demolitions and the Jerusalem
Center for Economic and Social Rights are working to rebuild demolished
Palestinian homes. Donna Baranski of Just
Peace Technologies is coordinating a Global Campaign to Rebuild
Palestinian homes, calling on supporters of just peace to organize
“house parties” in their homes to raise funds to rebuild
The Steering Committee of the US Campaign
to End the Israeli Occupation
Since its occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967,
the Israeli army has deliberately targeted Palestinian universities,
the student body, and faculty.
These sanctuaries of higher education were seen as a potential threat
to the Israeli occupation.
As the first institution of higher education in Palestine, Birzeit
University has been in the forefront in developing a treasured national
resource--the human resource. With every part of Palestine under Israeli
control, the human mind remained the only territory that Palestinians
could use to launch their struggle for freedom. An educated Palestine
is a thinking, productive, independent, and innovative population
not willing to be subservient.
Birzeit University offers a number of undergraduate and post-graduate
degrees. It also offers two High Diplomas in Primary Healthcare and
Gender, Law, and Development. During the 2001/2002 academic year,
the student body numbered 5318 students with half the students being
female. There are 276 faculty and 405 non-academic employees.
As academics, students, educators, intellectuals, and individuals
who value education and freedom, your support is needed to keep the
doors of Birzeit University open to its students.
Since March 2001, the academic life at Birzeit University has been
severely disrupted and at times crippled by a hostile Israeli military
checkpoint on the Ramallah-Birzeit road. This checkpoint serves no
“security” purpose for Israel.
Its function is to disrupt daily life, prevent students from reaching
their classrooms, and is a trap for university students and faculty
who in their pursuit of education are arrested, detained, physically
assaulted, and sometimes killed.
With the Israeli re-occupation of the Palestinian areas in June 2002,
blanket curfews and increased checkpoints brought Palestinian academic
life to a screeching halt. Birzeit University students and faculty
along with the entire Palestinian civilian population are confined
to their homes as the academic year passes by.
Since its establishment as Birzeit College in 1942, Birzeit University
has strived to promote excellence by providing quality academics,
training, research, and community programs. The programs emphasize
social awareness, democratic civic values, and sustainable development
and are a major aspect of student life.
This long-standing institution of higher education and excellence
is on the verge of collapse. In its campaign to destroy Palestinian
civil life and infrastructure, Israel has violated international humanitarian
law with its collective punishment measures and the denial of a “protected
civilian population under military occupation” from education.
While some world leaders have allowed these violations to continue,
the students and faculty of Birzeit University are confident that
you will not. We must challenge this campaign to destroy Palestinian
civil life and educational havens.
We demand that Israel:
1. Lift the siege on the
Palestinian areas and remove military checkpoints so that students
and faculty have safe and unhindered access to Birzeit University
and other institutions of education.
2. Abide by international humanitarian law and conventions which protect
civilians under military occupation and guarantee their right to education,
work, and medical care.
The Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development (JFECD)
is proud to have supported Birzeit University over the past decade
in educating Palestine’s future. Through numerous scholarships,
grants, and other contributions from generous, conscientious donors
such as yourself, we have been an active part in building the foundation
for a free and democratic Palestine.
At this time we find ourselves writing to you again with an urgent
request. We need your signature to keep the doors of Birzeit University
open. By signing this appeal, you are endorsing your support in holding
Israel accountable to the international laws and conventions mentioned
above, as well as fostering an equitable future for Palestine and
the continued work the country’s finest university.
To sign on to the appeal, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
with “Birzeit” as the subject; include with your full
name and location (i.e., John Smith, Deerfield, IL). Signatures will
be collected and complied to a list which will be sent to government
officials in the United States and Israel.
Your support is appreciated. Please feel free to forward this appeal
to all interested parties.