Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Settlements, the Free Gaza Movement, and International Law

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch added a much needed corrective to the discussion about settlements taking place in the U.S. media:
"The debate over Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories is often framed in terms of whether they should be "frozen" or allowed to grow "naturally." But that is akin to asking whether a thief should be allowed merely to keep his ill-gotten gains or steal some more. It misses the most fundamental point: Under international law, all settlements on occupied territory are unlawful."
Read the full article here. Alan Sabrosky makes a similar point about the Free Gaza Movement boat The Spirit of Humanity:
"Israel’s hijacking last week of The Spirit of Humanity on the international high seas was a simple act of piracy. We have seen different reactions elsewhere to piracy, most notably off the coast of Somalia, or even to the kidnapping of embassy staff and humanitarian aid personnel. In this case, as in previous instances of Israeli violations of international law, nothing has been done."
Sabrosky challenges readers to confront elected representatives about repeated violations of human rights by the Israeli military, financed by U.S. taxpayers:
"This is when to pin members of Congress to the political wall – not with chanted slogans or waving placards (those have their place, and it is not here), but with precise questions from well-dressed, polite but forceful people who do not let the target pass the question to a staff member, defer it for study, or side-step the issue. Pin them down, show them slides or pictures from Gaza, give them details, know how they voted on resolutions or measures put out by AIPAC (e.g., how did they vote on the Congressional resolution endorsing Israel’s attack on Gaza), and demand an explanation. And make sure the local media takes in every detail."
Read the full article here. Interested in taking up Sabrosky's challenge? Find out how your Members of Congress voted on relevant resolutions using our Congressional Report Card. Then, sign up on our website to meet with your Members of Congress during the August recess. Don't worry if you've never done this before, we'll provide you with the resources and tools you need, and connect you with other people in your Congressional district who will be able to work with you on this important task! Click here to schedule a meeting!