Thursday, October 1, 2015

Letters to the Editor to the NYT re Editorial on Abbas UNGA Speech

Letters to the Editor to the NYT re Editorial on Abbas UNGA Speech

On Thursday, The New York Times ran an editorial entitled “Mahmoud Abbas Gives Up on Peace” about Abbas’ speech to the UN General Assembly the day before, in which he said that he would no longer honor the Oslo Accords because Israel has been systematically violating them for years. Please consider responding to this unfair editorial by writing a letter to the editor to the Times using the instructions and suggested talking points below.

Also enclosed below is an excerpt from the Times’ website providing guidelines and advice for letter writing. Note that letters should be between 150-175 words and can be submitted by email at

Begin your LTE with something like:

To the Editor,

Regarding your recent editorial, Mahmoud Abbas Gives Up On Peace....

For information about the Oslo Accords and peace process, and Benjamin Netanyahu’s role in them, see these fact sheets:

Instructions for writing and submitting letters

·         Stick to the word count. If you go over the maximum word count editors will most likely either dismiss your letter out of hand, or edit it themselves without consulting you prior to publication.

·         If you have some personal connection to Palestine or Israel, such as family living there or you recently visited, it would be good to mention it at least in passing.

·         Try to change the wording/phrasing of the suggested talking points included below, so that letters are more in your own personal voice.

·         Make sure to include your name, address and phone number so that editors can contact you if necessary.

Suggested talking points / messages

·         Mahmoud Abbas has not "given up on peace." He has, it appears, given up on a failed US-sponsored negotiations process that was stacked in favor of Israel from the start.

·         No one wants peace more than the Palestinians do because no one suffers more from a lack of peace.

·         Palestinians just want to live in freedom and with dignity, and to provide a bright future for their children, just like everyone else.

·         Oslo has been an unmitigated catastrophe for Palestinians and will never lead to a permanent peace in the region because it was designed to deny, rather than realize, fundamental Palestinian rights and freedoms.

·         Oslo was intended to streamline Israel’s occupation, not end it.

·         Instead of leading to Palestinian freedom, Oslo entrenched a system of apartheid whereby Palestinians are subject to brutal Israeli military rule while Israeli settlers living nearby on stolen Palestinian land enjoy the full rights and privileges of Israeli citizenship.

·         In spite of nostalgic talk of noble pioneers like Yitzhak Rabin, no Israeli government - even Rabin's - ever stopped building Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land, which is the single greatest reason that Oslo failed.

·         Today, there are about 650,000 Israeli settlers living in occupied East Jerusalem and the West bank.

·         Most Palestinians realized a long time ago that Oslo is a disaster, Abbas is just now catching up with that reality. Evidently Times editorial writers have yet to grasp this self-evident truth, or perhaps are just not interested in Palestinians being free.

How to Submit a Letter to the Editor

Letters should be exclusive to The New York Times or The International New York Times. We do not publish open letters or third-party letters.

Letters should preferably be 150 to 175 words, should refer to an article that has appeared within the last seven days, and must include the writer's address and phone numbers. No attachments, please.

We regret that because of the volume of submissions, we cannot acknowledge unpublished letters other than by an automated e-mail reply. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified within a week. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
To send a letter to the editor:

                   (for readers of The New York Times)

About Letters

Thomas Feyer, the letters editor, gives tips for getting your letter published.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Groups Applaud Rep. McCollum’s Concern for Israel’s Killing of Palestinian Children


Washington, DC (August 24)—Several organizations, representing hundreds of thousands of supporters, applauded today Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) for raising concerns with the State Department about the cases of Nadeem Nawarah, 17, and Mohammad Abu Daher, 16, two Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces on May 15, 2014 during a protest in the occupied West Bank.

Closed circuit security cameras fixed on the building near where the boys were shot captured both shootings. The video, obtained and released by Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP), depicts both boys collapsing to the ground after being shot, and their lifeless bodies being carried away off camera by other protesters. Forensic analysis of the video footage showed that neither boy posed any lethal or imminent threat to Israeli forces at the time they were killed.

McCollum’s letter reads in part: “As these killings exemplify, Israel’s treatment of Palestinian youth in the Occupied West Bank is unacceptable and must not be tolerated by the U.S. or the international community.  Systemic human rights abuses are well documented, including the physical and psychological abuse of Palestinian children held in military detention. The murders of Nadeem Nawara and Mohammad Daher only highlight a brutal system of occupation that devalues and dehumanizes Palestinian children.  It is time for a strong and unequivocal statement of U.S. commitment to the human rights for Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation.”

McCollum also called on the State Department to investigate whether these killings constitute violations of the “Leahy Law.”  If so, the “38th Company of the Israeli Border Police should be ineligible to receive future U.S. military aid and training and all border police involved in this incident should be denied U.S. visas as stipulated by the law.”

Brad Parker, Defense for Children International Palestine, (518) 744-9071

Brad Parker, International Advocacy Officer & Attorney for Defense for Children International Palestine stated: “Without accountability, Palestinian children like Nadeem and Mohammad will continue to experience systematic and widespread human rights violations as a result of Israel's prolonged military occupation of Palestinians. The status quo of systemic impunity is not sustainable. Rep. McCollum's letter and leadership is a strong challenge to the impunity enjoyed by Israeli forces, and we hope it will lead to increased pressure from US lawmakers to ensure that Israeli authorities hold perpetrators accountable."

Josh Ruebner, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, (202)332-0994,

“Too often, Israel’s grave human rights abuses of Palestinians children living under military occupation go unnoticed or are dismissed by our elected officials, despite the fact that US taxpayers foot the bill for Israel’s military occupation to the tune of more than $3 billion each year. We trust that Rep. McCollum’s strong letter to the State Department will at least ensure that Israel is held accountable by the United States for the killings of Nadeem Nawarah and Mohammad Abu Daher,” stated Josh Ruebner, Policy Director for the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.  

Kate Gould, Friends Committee on National Legislation, (202)903-2516,

Kate Gould, the lead Middle East policy advocate at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, said: “Increasingly, lawmakers are hearing from Americans that they don’t want their taxes to fund police violence at home or abroad. This incriminating video is a harrowing reminder of the dangers for children and youth living under military occupation. We applaud Congresswoman McCollum’s leadership in prioritizing the human rights of all children.”

Rebecca Vilkomerson, Jewish Voice for Peace

Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, noted her hope that “Representative McCollum’s leadership in demanding justice for Nadeem Nawarah and Mohammad Abu Daher is a sign that US political leaders are becoming more willing to confront the endemic nature of Israeli impunity when it comes to treatment of Palestinians and focus on ending Israel’s brutal occupation with increased urgency.”

Sunjeev Bery, Amnesty International USA, (202)675-8755,

Sunjeev Bery, Amnesty International USA’s Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, stated:  “The Israeli forces’ unlawful killings of these two Palestinian boys demonstrates the brutality Palestinian civilians face under Israeli military occupation.  The Obama Administration should stop supplying arms to Israel and back a UN arms embargo on all parties to the conflict.  It is time for the U.S. government to end its opposition to a possible investigation of the situation by the International Criminal Court."

Kristin Szremski, American Muslims for Palestine, (202)796-8417,  

"As an occupier, Israel is obligated under international law to protect Palestinians. As a recipient of US foreign military assistance, Israel is obligated under American law to uphold human rights," said Osama Abuirshaid, American Muslims for Palestine policy director. "We thank Rep. McCollum for taking on this important issue and we ask the State Department to heed her call for an investigation into Leahy Law violations and to raise the protection of Palestinian children to priority status in our relationship with Israel."

An annual U.S. State Department human rights report released on June 25 included the killings of Nawarah and Abu Daher. The annual country reports on human rights practices include a specific section covering the situation of human rights in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). It raised a number of issues related to Israel’s ill-treatment of Palestinian child prisoners and denial of fair trial rights in Israeli military courts, and grave violations against Palestinian children, including the killing and maiming of Palestinian children and attacks on schools in Gaza by Israeli forces.

DCIP commissioned the UK-based multidisciplinary study group, Forensic Architecture, to conduct a detailed forensic video analysis of the video footage. The result was clear video, audio and spatial evidence, released on November 20, 2014, that identified Nadeem’s assailant.

MUST READ: Rep. McCollum's Letter on #Justice4Nadeem

Take Action: Tell Congress to Support Justice for Nadeem Nawarah, Mohammad Abu Daher

Me, Siam Nawarah, Brad Parker of Defense for Children International Palestine, lobbying for #Justice4Nadeem on Capitol Hill.
I began my career on Capitol Hill more than 15 years ago and I’ve been watching Congressional politics around Israel and the Palestinians closely ever since.

In all that time, I don’t remember a statement in support of Palestinian rights as forceful as this letter sent last week by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) to the State Department.

In it, McCollum expresses concern about Israel’s killing of two Palestinian children—Nadeem Nawarah and Mohammad Abu Daher—during Nakba Day protests last year.

“As these killings exemplify, Israel’s treatment of Palestinian youth in the Occupied West Bank is unacceptable and must not be tolerated by the U.S. or the international community,” McCollum wrote. “The murders of Nadeem Nawara and Mohammad Daher only highlight a brutal system of occupation that devalues and dehumanizes Palestinian children.  It is time for a strong and unequivocal statement of U.S. commitment to the human rights for Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation.”

McCollum also called on the State Department to investigate whether the38th Company of the Israeli Border Police—the unit which killed Nadeem and Mohammad—violated the “Leahy Law” and to sanction the unit and individuals involved if so.


Please take a few minutes today to take these actions:

Call and write your Members of Congress and ask them to send a similar letter to the State Department.

Thank Rep. McCollum by calling her office at 202-225-6631. You can also publicly thank her by commenting on her Facebook page and sending her a Tweet.

Tell all your friends about Rep. McCollum’s letter on Facebook and Twitter.

Learn more about Nadeem and Mohammad’s case through Defense for Children International Palestine, and “Like” Justice4Nadeem on Facebook and follow Justice4Nadeem on Twitter.

Earlier this month I had the honor and privilege of accompanying Siam Nawarah as he visited the Hill and State Department lobbying for justice for his murdered son. 

Abu Nadeem, as he prefers to be called, is truly an extraordinary person, as profiled in this Electronic Intifada story.  He single-handedly collected all the evidence, including evidence obtained through his excruciating decision to exhume his son’s body and have an autopsy performed, which resulted in the arrest of the Israeli border policeman who killed Nadeem, an extremely rare occurrence. 

Abu Nadeem has sold his car and his business to pursue justice for his son Nadeem, Mohammad Abu Daher, and all Palestinian children subjected to the brutality of Israeli occupation. The least we can do to help him is to take action today.


Josh Ruebner
Policy Director

PS: In June, Rep. McCollum also spearheaded a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry signed by 19 Members of Congress expressing concern about Israel’s policy of detaining Palestinian children and trying them in military courts. If you haven’t yet, please join the No Way to Treat a Child campaign in thanking these Members of Congress.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Do you know Sekou?

Learn from Resistance Leaders from Ferguson to Palestine! 

This month marks one year that the black youth of Ferguson have maintained what some are calling the second longest protest in U.S. history -- after the Montgomery Bus Boycott. For more than 365 days, the world has watched and learned from extraordinary black resistance leaders who, like the people of Palestine, will not be silent in the face of state violence and oppression. 
Rev. Sekou & Dr. Cornel West storm police barricades. Photo by Heather Wilson.

One of those leaders has been Reverend Osagyefo Sekou, a St. Louis native from member organization Fellowship of Reconciliation, who has mentored, challenged, entertained, and led the way for many of us in Ferguson and St. Louis since the beginning. Many of you may have seen him on the cover of The New York Times last week after he was arrested with more than 50 others in a creative, nonviolent, clergy-led direct action as part of the one-year commemoration of the killing of Mike Brown. The night before he was arrested, Sekou spoke to a cheering crowd of hundreds in Ferguson about the injustices of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, welcoming the father of a Palestinian martyr to take the stage with him. 

Today, I am thrilled to announce that Rev. Sekou will be a keynote speaker at our upcoming National Conference in Atlanta September 25-27 -- just 5 weeks away! 

Discounted registration ENDS THIS FRIDAY. Have you registered yet? 

One of the most dynamic speakers I have ever seen, Rev. Sekou will be joined by countless other extraordinary voices including Palestinian poet Remi Kanazi, Dream Defenders co-founder Ahmad Abuznaid,#BlackLivesMatter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, Palestinian Youth Movement organizer Loubna Qutami, Ruby Sales of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (1963-1966), Baltimore resistance leader and Palestinian rights advocate Rev. Dr. Heber Brown III, and many, many others

Last year’s conference was incredible -- epic. But I am not exaggerating when I say Atlanta could be our most ground-breaking conference yet. You do not want to miss it!... 

... Because 2015 marks 10 years since the BDS call and more than 100 U.S. victories, transforming us from a marginal movement to a force to be reckoned with by Congress and presidential candidates! 

... Because never before have the connections and solidarity between people of color here and in Palestine struggling for freedom manifested so visibly and powerfully as in the last year. 

... Because what better way to spend a weekend than meeting amazing activists and learning from each other?

Meet me in Atlanta. Register before Friday when rates go up!  Don’t keep putting it off. You won’t regret it! 

We will share our wisdom and learn from generations of leaders about how to build a mass movement supporting for justice for all and resistance to racism from Baltimore to Susiya, from Alabama to Palestine and beyond.

One more thing -- if you can’t make it but support the conference, please make a contribution so somebody else can. You can help us make sure that anybody who wants to be at this momentous event has the chance, regardless of their financial situation.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Gaza One Year Later: The Quest for Accountability

On July 29, 2015, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation hosted a Congressional briefing to examine Israel's misuse of U.S.-supplied weapons in Gaza and call on lawmakers to hold Israel accountable for its violations of U.S. and international law. A full description of the briefing can be found below the videos.

Click below to view a full video of the briefing: 

Below are the individual testimonies from the briefing:

Part 1 - Josh Ruebner, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Part 2 - Eman Mohammed, Gaza Photojournalist

Part 3 - Brad Parker, Defense for Children International Palestine

Part 4 - Nadia Ben-Youssef, Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

Part 5 - Josh Ruebner, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Part 6 - Raed Jarrar, American Friends Service Committee

Gaza One Year Later:
The Quest for Accountability

121 Cannon House Office Building,
27 Independence Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003

Wednesday, July 29 at 12:00 PM

One year has passed since “Operation Protective Edge”, Israel’s attack on the Palestinian Gaza Strip which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians and devastated its infrastructure. Today Gaza remains under Israeli blockade, unreconstructed, and teetering on the verge of humanitarian catastrophe.  Join us for this discussion on Israel’s failure to hold itself accountable through domestic judicial proceedings, and the options and need for the United States and the international community to do so.


Nadia Ben-Youssef, USA Representative, Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

Eman Mohammed, Gaza photojournalist; contributor, Gaza Unsilenced

Brad Parker, International Advocacy Officer, Defense for Children International Palestine

Moderated by: Josh Ruebner, Policy Director, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Sponsored by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. Cosponsored by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Friends Service Committee, American Muslims for Palestine, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Jewish Voice for Peace, Just World Books, Middle East Children's Alliance, United Methodist Kairos Response, US Palestinian Community Network.