Monday, June 13, 2016

Write a Letter to the Editor at the Washington Post!

Can You Write a Letter to the Editor at the Washington Post?

Please consider sending a letter to the editor to the Washington Post in response to this op-ed by Governor Cuomo attacking BDS and defending his executive order creating a blacklist of entities that abide by it.

Included below are the Post’s guidelines for letter writing, including its 200 word count, and some suggested talking points to use as a reference. Letters can be submitted through an online form here.

Post guidelines for letters

We prefer letters that are fewer than 200 words and take as their starting point an article or other item appearing in The Post. They may not have been submitted to, posted to or published by any other media. They must include the writer's full name -- anonymous letters and letters written under pseudonyms will not be considered. For verification purposes, they must also include the writer's home address, e-mail address and telephone numbers. Writers should disclose any personal or financial interest in the subject matter of their letters.

Suggested talking points

  • In his op-ed, Governor Cuomo grossly misrepresented what the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights is about.

  • BDS is a diverse, inclusive grassroots Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality, inspired by the US Civil Rights and South African anti-Apartheid movements.

  • BDS is necessary because Israeli leaders have made it clear they will not end their occupation of Palestinian lands or grant Palestinians their freedom and rights without outside pressure.

  • In the absence of action on the part of our government, it is the responsibility of all people of conscience to support peaceful Palestinian efforts to achieve their freedom.

  • Governor Cuomo’s executive order and similar efforts in other states are a McCarthyite attack intended to suppress BDS campaigns, which have been growing in the US in recent years.

  • Cuomo’s order is part of a larger campaign being waged against BDS in the US by the Israeli government and its supporters. Anti-BDS bills similar to the executive order have been introduced and/or passed in Congress and about two-dozen states.

  • Wherever you stand on Israel and Palestine, you should oppose this executive order and similar efforts as a threat to all of our rights.

  • This executive order shows how out of touch Governor Cuomo and other politicians who support similar measures are with US public opinion. Growing numbers of Americans support BDS as a nonviolent tactic to achieve freedom and equality for Palestinians.

  • A poll released by the Brookings Institution in December 2015 showed that 49% of Democrats support imposing sanctions or stronger measures against Israel over settlement construction. A similar poll done a year earlier showed that 39% of all Americans agreed.

  • Mainstream Christian denominations like the United Methodists, Presbyterian Church (USA), and United Church of Christ have all taken boycott and/or divestment action in support of Palestinian rights, as have numerous labor, academic, and student groups and others.

  • These legislative efforts to suppress BDS are bound to fail. Governor Cuomo and other politicians would be wise to reconsider their positions if they want to be on the right side of history.  

Monday, June 6, 2016

Tell Gov. Cuomo: We Have a #RightToBoycott!

Can you write a letter to the editor to the New York Times today in response to this article about Governor Cuomo's executive order, which will put institutions and companies that engage in BDS on a blacklist? Letters should be 175 words or less and submitted to within the next 24 hours. 

Please consider sending letters to other newspapers covering this story as well. Guidelines for writing and submission can usually be found in the newspaper's opinion section on their website.
Talking points can include: 
  • This is a McCarthyite attack on a movement for justice and human rights. 
  • Boycotts have long been a tactic to achieve social change and the movement for Palestinian freedom should not be singled out.
  • This is an anti-democratic move by the Governor to circumvent the legislative process
  • This move seeks to silence the growing numbers of Americans who support BDS/economic tactics to put pressure on Israel to respect Palestinian human rights, and is part of a larger legal campaign being waged against BDS in the US.
  • Governor Cuomo should rescind this un-democratic order immediately.

You can also tweet at Gov. Cuomo using one of these sample tweets or make your own!:

Friday, October 30, 2015

Are You a Progressive for Palestine?

If so, click here to download a template to print out stickers to distribute.

Fits templates for Post-It Super Stick Labels #2800-N or Avery 5395.

Thanks to designer Tsela Barr of member group Madison-Rafah Sister City Project for designing this resource.

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.