Monday, May 31, 2010
Press Release: Israeli Attack on Free Gaza Boats Violates International Law, Shows Need to End U.S. Aid to
Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories: "Those responsible must be held criminally accountable"
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
" The 2010 US social Forum comes at a time when there is great urgency to build on recent successes of the Palestine solidarity movement, as United States corporations and the government continue to commit grave injustices in Palestine- not to mention in our own communities. Organized anti-Zionist Jews in the United States can play a critical role in movements with anti-racism and anti-imperialism at the center, and building stronger international solidarity.Come together with other anti-Zionist Jewish activists committed to challenging racism, colonialism and imperialism- first and foremost by contributing to efforts to overcome Zionism and decolonize Palestine.
- Build a shared direction and shared strategies for anti-Zionist Jewish organizing in the US, and build a relationship across locations for our organizing efforts.
- Advance the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions including: campaigns against the Jewish National Fund; citywide to statewide divestment and boycott campaigns; labor divestment from Israeli bonds and the Histadrut, Israel's founding labor Zionist organization.
- Develop anti-Zionist Jewish political perspectives and analysis, art, culture, and spiritual practice against Zionism's attempt to erase or co-opt our multiple social, cultural and political histories. "
Friday, May 21, 2010
"One lives in hope that music is more than mere noise, filling up idle time, whether intending to elate or lament. Then there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent. I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts would have contained many people who question the policies of their government on settlement and deplore conditions that visit intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security. I am also keenly aware of the sensitivity of these themes in the wake of so many despicable acts of violence perpetrated in the name of liberation....Sometimes a silence in music is better than adding to the static and so an end to it."The announcement is making waves. The Christian Science Monitor published an article about Costello's decision, and linked it to Israel's denial of entry to U.S. academic Noam Chomsky and to a photo essay of other figures (and Ipads) that have been denied entry. The Forward also covered the news, and included these revealing words:
"In reaction, a music industry insider confirmed that the winds could be shifting. The music executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity in light of his ongoing business ties with artists, said that in recent months he had approached more than 15 performing artists with proposals to give concerts in Israel. None had agreed. The contracts offered high levels of compensation. He called them “extreme, big numbers that could match any other gig.” .... But in the battle over public opinion, many other names have also been thrown into the debate. These include artists who either scheduled concerts in Israel or indicated their wish to perform there, but who later withdrew without providing reasons for their decisions.Boycott efforts are getting as creative as the artists being put in the spotlight. Case in point--this video urging Elton John, who played at the infamous Sun City venue in apartheid South Africa, not to play Tel Aviv: Newsweek and the Washington Post. Here's Newsweek blogger Dan Ephron on why Israeli officials are reacting strongly to the Palestinian boycott of settlement goods despite its seemingly low economic impact:
Such is the case of guitar legend Carlos Santana, who had planned a stop in Israel as part of his tour of Europe and the Middle East. Thousands of tickets to the concert, which was scheduled to take place in a large soccer stadium in Jaffa, had already been sold before Santana and his group announced that the concert had been canceled due to “unforeseen scheduling conflicts.” "
"For one thing, Israelis fear that a successful boycott of settler goods would catch on elsewhere. While consumers in the Palestinian territories lack the economic muscle to inflict much pain on Israel, their counterparts in Europe—Israel's biggest market—have plenty of leverage....Then there's the comfort-zone issue. Thwarting bombings and shootings requires careful intelligence work and a first-rate military, things Israel has honed for decades. Countering nonviolent action has always seemed more challenging."Of course, in the words of Yousef Munayyer, ED of US Campaign member group the Palestine Center, "Palestinian nonviolence relies on global non-silence." That means we need to speak up and take action! Find out how you can end the silence by getting involved in the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement in your community by clicking here, and follow the latest news coverage of BDS here.
"After approving a resolution to give Israel an additional 205 million dollars in military aid on a voice vote Wednesday, the House officially passed the measure in a lopsided 410-4 roll call Thursday afternoon. The funds would allow Israel to build the Iron Dome missile defense system, designed to shoot down homemade projectiles fired by Palestinians from Gaza, and unguided Katyusha rockets fired from Lebanon. The appropriation is in addition to a record-breaking 3 billion dollars in military aid to Israel already requested by the Obama administration. The measure passed on a voice vote Wednesday, but Rep. Mike McMahon of Staten Island, New York, requested a count of yea and nay votes. Analysts said the vote count was likely requested to give pro-Israel lobbyists the ability to Fifteen representatives did not vote on the resolution. Voting against the measure were Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), and Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA). Other representatives who have criticized Israel in the past voted for the bill, such as Brian Baird (D-WA) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), who in January called on the Obama administration to pressure Israel to ease its blockade of Gaza. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak requested the funds from the US after Israel's armed forces excluded the project from their own proposed budget. Barak discussed the plan with top US officials during a visit to Washington earlier in May....Critics argue that the bill amounts to an unnecessary increase in aid to Israel and would further tilt a lopsided strategic equation in the MIddle East. Josh Ruebner, advocacy director for the Washington-based US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation told Palestine Note that the Iron Dome could "actually increase [Israel's] offensive capabilities" by "making it cost free for Israel to engage in aggression and wars." "Read the full article here. Find out how much tax money your city, county, and Congressional district "contributes" in military aid to Israel at AidtoIsrael.org. Stay tuned for our analysis of this vote.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
"Israel is portraying 'Iron Dome' as a means to shoot down rockets fired at its civilian population, but in reality these batteries will increase Israel's offensive capabilities," says US Campaign National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner. "Israel, like every other country in the world, is entitled to self-defense. However, there are scenarios when a nominally 'defensive' weapon such as an anti-missile battery dramatically changes the strategic balance and enhances offensive capabilities. With an effective missile defense shield in place, Israel will feel emboldened to launch additional wars of aggression, similar to or even larger in scale than those launched against Lebanon (July-August 2006) and the Gaza Strip (December 2008-January 2009). In past Israeli wars of aggression, thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians have been killed by U.S. missiles. It's Palestinian and Lebanese civilians who are in desperate need of missile defense from Israel."Read the full release here. Take action here.
|Last week, the Obama Administration notified Israel that it would support the authorization and appropriation of $205 million of U.S. tax-payer money to Israel to purchase ten batteries of the "Iron Dome" missile defense system.|
If authorized and appropriated by Congress, this money would be above and beyond the Obama Administration's record-breaking FY2011 budget request for $3 billion in military aid to Israel. To see how much military aid to Israel your community provides, and what else that money could fund in your community, please click here.
Yesterday, Rep. Glenn Nye (VA-2) introduced H.R.5327, the United States-Israel Missile Defense Cooperation and Support Act. This morning we learned that the House of Representatives will be voting today on this resolution, which if approved would constitute the first step in the process of getting this additional military aid to Israel. Please call your Representative right now and express your opposition to additional military aid to Israel. Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, ask to be transferred to your Representative, and tell him/her to vote NO today on H.R.5327. Here are a few talking points that you can use when making your call: * Israeli missile "defense" will increase its offensive capabilities. Israel is portraying "Iron Dome" as a means to shoot down rockets fired at its civilian population. Israel, like every other country in the world, is entitled to self-defense. However, there are scenarios when a nominally "defensive" weapon such as an anti-missile battery dramatically changes the strategic balance and enhances offensive capabilities. With an effective missile defense shield in place, Israel will feel emboldened to launch additional wars of aggression, similar to or even larger in scale than those launched against Lebanon (July-August 2006) and the Gaza Strip (December 2008-January 2009). In a future war, the cover of missile defense will allow Israel to kill thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians as it has done in past wars without risking any casualties on its side from cross-border rockets. In other words, war will become risk-free for an already aggressive Israel. It's Palestinian and Lebanese civilians who need a missile defense system from U.S. missiles Israel repeatedly fires at them. * If Israel wants missile defense, then it should pay for it. President Obama has proposed a record-breaking $3 billion in military aid to Israel in the FY2011 budget. Israel and Egypt have special exemptions written into the budget that allow them to spend a certain amount of their military aid on their own domestic arms industries rather than in the United States. In the FY2010 budget, this amounted to almost $584 million for the Israeli weapons industry-enough money for Israel to buy nearly 30 "Iron Dome" batteries with our money. The reason why Israel doesn't want to spend its own money-or the money the United States already gives it-on missile defense is to maximize its offensive capabilities. According to Ha'aretz, "Iron Dome" funding "was not allotted an adequate budget. The Israel Defense Forces ducked away from funding the project with its budget, explaining that offensive readiness was a higher priority, and the Defense Ministry has been looking for other budgetary avenues." * Israel is violating U.S. law by misusing U.S. weapons and shouldn't be eligible for additional aid. During the Bush Administration, Israel killed more than 3,000 innocent Palestinians, often with U.S. weapons, in violation of the Arms Export Control Act, which limits the use of U.S. weapons to "internal security" and "legitimate self-defense." Israel's illegal occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip is not "internal" and intentionally killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure is never "legitimate."In addition, Israel's systematic human rights abuses of Palestinians and its apartheid policies toward them place Israel in violation of the Foreign Assistance Act, which prohibits U.S. aid "to the government of any country which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights." Congress needs to follow the letter of the laws that it passed and hold Israel accountable for its violations of U.S. law, not reward it for doing so with even more military aid. * Taking care of unmet needs of U.S. citizens is more important than funding military aid to Israel. Even before tacking on a possible additional $205 million in weapons for Israel, military aid to Israel comes at a financial price that the United States can't afford. $3 billion in military aid to Israel could fund instead 364,000 low-income households with affordable housing vouchers, or retrain 498,000 unemployed workers for green jobs, or provide early reading programs to 887,000 at-risk students, or provide access to primary health care services for more than 24 million uninsured Americans. Find out how much your Congressional district pays in military aid to Israel and what it could fund instead by clicking here. Don't forget-please call the Capitol switchboard right now at (202) 224-3121, ask to be transferred to your Representative, and tell him/her to vote NO today on H.R.5327.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
"If money talks, then Congress just said that U.S. military aid to Israel is two times more important than American jobs. The recent $15 billion jobs bill pales in comparison to the $30 billion in military aid that we are slated to give Israel. The decision by Congress to put requests by the Israeli government before the needs of working Americans is not only insulting, it's a violation of U.S. laws. The logic for stopping U.S. military aid to Israel is simple. Israel should not be allowed to have our weapons for the same reason that a violent felon should not have a gun....Aid to Israel costs more than just American jobs, healthcare and our interests generally. It costs millions of people their basic human rights. As taxpayers and American citizens, we have the power to end this brutal occupation. It's time we use it."Read the full article here, and find out how much your community, county, or Congressional district is giving in military aid to Israel and what you can do to stop it at our Aid to Israel website.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Friday, May 7, 2010
New York, NY, May 5, 2010 – More than 50 organizations and artists from eight countries have written to legendary political singer and poet Gil Scott-Heron to thank him for his decision to drop Israel from his current tour. The letter, facilitated by Adalah-NY, highlighted the parallels between the South African Apartheid that Scott-Heron crusaded against decades ago and the Israeli system that currently subjugates Palestinians.
Palestinian civil society has called for grassroots pressure on Israel to end its oppressive behavior through a campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), including cultural events. “To salvage its deteriorating image abroad, Israel has launched a 'rebranding' campaign which uses arts and culture to whitewash its violations of international law and Palestinian human rights,” said Randa Wahbe of Adalah-NY. Gil Scott-Heron is the latest in a list of notable artists, including Sting, Bono, Snoop Dogg, and Carlos Santana, who have recently declined to play Israel. Distinguished artists, writers, and peace activists—among them John Berger, Arundhati Roy, Adrienne Rich, Ken Loach, Naomi Klein, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Alice Walker—have declared support for the BDS movement.
The signatories told Scott-Heron: “As you recognized in your iconic anti-Apartheid anthem “Johannesburg,” when “brothers over there are defyin’ the man…they need to know we’re on their side.” They added “...in refusing to do business as usual with Israel, you join ranks with the growing number of international artists, intellectuals, and cultural workers who have rejected Israel’s cynical use of the arts to whitewash its Apartheid and colonial policies.”
Haidar Eid, of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) praised the singer's action: “Gil Scott-Heron's decision to cancel his concert in Tel Aviv is warmly welcomed by all of us here in Gaza and Palestinian civil society at large. This does not come as a surprise to us due to his luminous heritage in support of the anti- apartheid struggle in South Africa. Once again, we wholeheartedly thank him for heeding our call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, until it complies with its obligations under international law and fully respects Palestinian rights.”
Since the 2009 Israeli invasion of Gaza, in which 1400 Palestinians were killed, there has been rapid growth in the BDS movement world-wide. Wahbe also noted that “The outpouring of anguish from Scott-Heron’s fans on his website when he was scheduled to perform in Israel, and the more than 50 artists and organizations that have joined together to communicate the importance of Scott-Heron’s decision, represent a new phase in this growing movement.”
The concert, first announced in Ha’aretz April 15, was to be held May 25. After a torrent of postings on the internet expressing shock and dismay, the singer announced his cancellation during his April 24 London concert, at which activists protested. Within days, the Tel Aviv show was removed from his website and tickets were no longer available.
In the wake of the cancellation, Facebook groups have sprung up calling on Elvis Costello, Joan Armatrading, and Bob Dylan to cancel their planned concerts in Israel. On May 5, PACBI issued its own call to Armatrading.
The BDS campaign has the backing hundreds of Palestinian civil society groups and is coordinated through the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Campaign National Committee (bdsmovement.net) and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (pacbi.org).
To view the thank you letter and list of signatories, see: