Friday, February 26, 2010

Josh Ruebner at Huffington Post: U.S. Can't Afford Military Aid to Israel

US Campaign National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner writes at Huffington Post:
"In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama pledged to "go through the budget line by line to eliminate programs that we can't afford and don't work." One week later, he sent his FY2011 budget request to Congress, which included a record-breaking $3 billion in military aid to Israel.

This requested increase in U.S. weapons to Israel -- part of a ten-year $30 billion agreement signed between the two countries in 2007 -- qualifies on both counts as a program that the United States can't afford and that doesn't work in establishing a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Data published recently by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation shows that U.S. military aid to Israel comes at a financial and moral price that this country cannot afford to pay. Its website reveals that this same $3 billion earmark for Israel could be used instead to provide more than 364,000 low-income households with affordable housing vouchers, or to retrain 498,000 workers for green jobs, or to provide early reading programs to 887,000 at-risk students, or to provide access to primary health care services for more than 24 million uninsured Americans."

Read the full article here, and check out How Much Aid to Israel? to find out how much tax money your state, county, city, and Congressional district are contributing in weapons to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians, and what that money could pay for in services instead.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Major BDS Victory in Europe: "EU court: West Bank goods not Israeli"

Ha'aretz and YNet are both carrying an Associated Press report on a major victory for BDS in Europe:
In a ruling touching on the status of the West Bank, the European Union high court said Thursday the disputed area is not part of Israel and Israeli goods made there are subject to EU import duties. The ruling has no immediate bearing on the Mideast peace process. But for trade purposes, it argues Israel has no standing in the area where it has built settlements and where its companies make such products as cookies, pretzels, wines, cosmetics and computer equipment. The ruling opens the door to EU import duties on Israeli goods from the West Bank rendering those products less competitive.
The Ha'aretz article also the connection between the settlement enterprise and exploitative labor practices toward Palestinian workers--practices, we might add, that echo those of apartheid South Africa--and highlighted the work of European civil society in targeting settlement goods based on international law:
Many of the settlements there use Palestinian workers, who earn less than their counterparts in Israel. But since Palestinians are largely barred from working in Israel and have few job opportunities in the Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank, jobs in settlement factories are sought after. Pro-Palestinian groups in Europe are likely to be pleased by Thursday's ruling because they regularly protest in European supermarkets to complain about Israeli labels on farm products from the West Bank. Israel continues to build settlements there that are widely seen as illegal under international law and a hindrance to the search for peace with the Palestinians.
Congratulations to our compatriots in the European BDS movement for this victory! Get involved with BDS in your community--click here to learn more.

Jewish Daily Forward and Chicago Public Radio cover BDS

Two pieces on BDS in the mainstream press this week caught our attention. Israeli academic and author Neve Gordon spoke to Chicago Public Radio about his support of BDS, making the argument that by opposing Israel's policy of expansionism and occupation, BDS is in fact a movement to "save Israel from itself" and identifying Israel as an "apartheid regime." Apparently the Jewish Council for Public Affairs doesn't agree, as reported by the Jewish Daily Forward:
"With anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions efforts gaining visibility, the Jewish community’s main public-policy coordinating body is for the first time confronting the BDS movement as a specific and stated priority.
At its recent annual plenum, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs passed a resolution stating that BDS should now “be regarded with the utmost seriousness and urgency.”
....
The resolution passed at the JCPA plenum lays out few concrete steps for beginning to combat the BDS movement. Along with the commitment to take the BDS threat more seriously, the resolution proposed responding “swiftly to false or distorted media statements about Israel,” educating Jewish professionals and students about the “nature, tactics and dangers of the BDS movement” and countering boycotts with campaigns to encourage the purchase of Israeli goods."
The Forward article notes the boycott of the Israel Ballet endorsed by the US Campaign and its member groups, including Adalah-NY, as well as pointing out a historical irony in the tactics of the Israel Ballet boycott:
Andrew Kadi, a leader of Adalah-New York, a pro-Palestinian group in the BDS coalition, helped organize the protest targeting the Israel Ballet in cities where it appeared on its American tour. Pickets were set up in front of performances in Burlington, Vt., Boston and Brooklyn. Activists dressed as ballerinas, held signs that read, “Pas de deux or arabesque/The occupation is grotesque” and passed out mock programs — tactics echoing those employed by Soviet Jewry activists in the 1970s who protested New York performances of Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet and distributed fake playbills.
The article also notes that "Ahava beauty products from the Dead Sea and Caterpillar earth-moving equipment have both been the targets of such campaigns." Get involved in BDS campaigns in your community, including the campaign against Ahava and Caterpillar, by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

US Campaign's Josh Ruebner on CNI Radio

Check out US Campaign National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner on "Jerusalem Calling," the online radio show of US Campaign member group Council for the National Interest by clicking on the icon in the sidebar to the right or by clicking here. "National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner joins CNI board member and host Dr. E. Faye Williams to discuss the cost and benefit of U.S. military aid to Israel, and how ignoring the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories hampers U.S. efforts at engagement in the Middle East."

Rachel Corrie's family brings suit in Israel; US Campaign calls for March 16 National Day of Action

The Guardian reports that the family of Rachel Corrie is planning to bring a civil suit in Israel over Rachel's death at the hands of the Israeli military. Rachel was killed by a Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer while attempting to nonviolently protect a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip. More from the Guardian (the story was also picked up by JTA):

"The family of the American activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza seven years ago, is to bring a civil suit over her death against the Israeli defence ministry.

The case, which begins on 10 March in Haifa, northern Israel, is seen by her parents as an opportunity to put on public record the events that led to their daughter's death in March 2003. Four key witnesses – three Britons and an American – who were at the scene in Rafah when Corrie was killed will give evidence, according the family lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein.

The four were all with the International Solidarity Movement, the activist group to which Corrie belonged. They have since been denied entry to Israel, and the group's offices in Ramallah have been raided several times in recent weeks by the Israeli military.

Now, under apparent US pressure, the Israeli government has agreed to allow them entry so they can testify. Corrie's parents, Cindy and Craig, will also fly to Israel for the hearing.

A Palestinian doctor from Gaza, Ahmed Abu Nakira, who treated Corrie after she was injured and later confirmed her death, has not been given permission by the Israeli authorities to leave Gaza to attend."

For more information, keep an eye on the website of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice (a member group of the US Campaign). The US Campaign is calling for a national day of action on March 16--7 years to the day that Rachel was killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer operated by the Israeli military. Find out how you can take action on Rachel Corrie Day by clicking here; and find out more about the national campaign to stop Caterpillar from killing more innocent civilians, destroying more Palestinian houses, and destroying more Palestinian agricultural land by clicking here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Human rights advocates won't let Israeli Ballet dance around apartheid

The U.S. tour of the Israel Ballet, the latest in the Israeli government's efforts to "rebrand Israel" by whitewashing human rights violations against Palestinians, has been met with protests and boycott calls organized by human rights advocates. The call to boycott the Israel Ballet, which is funded by the Israeli government and is part of an intentional effort to draw attention away from Israeli war crimes, occupation, and apartheid, has been endorsed by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and member groups Adalah-NY, American Jews for a Just Peace, and the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, as well the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within. The WAFA Palestine News Agency reported on the protests in New York:
"Forty-five human rights activists called upon fellow New Yorkers to boycott the Israel Ballet at its performance Sunday at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts. Accompanied by the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, protesters performed ballet, sang, chanted, and handed out mock programs to bring attention to the Israel Ballet's role in the Israeli state's use of the arts to whitewash its crimes against the Palestinian people. The demonstration was the third to take place along the Ballet company's U.S. tour in as many days. Hundreds of people entering the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts were handed mock programs that, when opened, described the connections between the Israel Ballet and Israeli apartheid. Outside of the venue, attendees could hear protesters chanting 'Pas de deux or arabesque / The occupation is grotesque' and 'A little tutu cannot hide / Your support for apartheid!' Dave Lippman of Adalah-NY commented, 'We are here to let the Israel Ballet know that it cannot tip-toe around apartheid.' Protesting ballerinas dressed in blue and white tutus (Israel's national colors) and wearing masks performed a waltz that transformed into a military drill march. As the orchestra switched to a two-beat march, the dancers lifted their masks to reveal camouflage on their faces. Dancer Ayesha Hoda commented, 'With this 'ResisDance,' we expose Israel's cynical use of the arts to mask facts about its occupation, racial discrimination and even war crimes against the Palestinian people, as revealed in the UN’s recently published Goldstone Report on Israel’s war of aggression on Gaza.” "
The Palestine Monitor carried a story about protests of the Israel Ballet in Burlington, VT, as well video of the Burlington demonstration and a Boston protest of the ballet:
"The Israel Ballet is currently touring the U.S. as part of "Brand Israel", a campaign launched in August 2009 by Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs as attempt to give the controversial state a new international image, in the wake of unanimous condemnation from the major human rights organizations and, most recently, the U.N. Goldstone Report....Former Israeli soldier and human rights activist Yonatan Shapira, who took part in the action said, “The Israel Ballet comes to the U.S. during a concerted effort by the Israeli government to use arts and culture to whitewash Israeli war crimes and to conceal facts about its occupation and racial discrimination against the Palestinian people. Rather than distancing itself from the Israeli government, the ballet has proudly embraced its ties with the state.” The Israel Ballet receives around $1 million annually from the Israeli government and is being advertised as a valued cultural representative of the state by the Israeli Consulate in New York. The dance group also boasts holding “special performances” for Israeli soldiers. Shapira is an army refuser who is active with Boycott!, the Israeli group that supports the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the Israel."
The Palestine Monitor article noted that video of the Burlington protest had been censored by YouTube, but made video of both actions available on its website:
Israel ballet interrupted in Burlington, Vt. - No tutu is big enough to cover Israel's War Crimes from samayfield on Vimeo.
Democracy Now! also reported on the protests and the censoring of the Burlington YouTube video:
"Human rights activists interrupted a performance by the Israeli Ballet in Burlington, Vermont on Friday. During the performance, demonstrators held up a sign reading “No tutu is begin enough to cover up war crimes.” A coalition of pro-Palestinian groups have called for a boycott of the Israeli ballet and other Israeli cultural and academic institutions. Protesters also rallied over the weekend outside performances of the Israeli Ballet in Worcester, Massachusetts and Brooklyn, New York. A video of the Burlington protest was posted on YouTube by the filmmaker Sam Mayfield, but YouTube removed the video, claiming it was in “violation of the YouTube Community Guidelines.” "
For more information and pictures, visit the Adalah-NY website, and click here to find out more ways to get involved in BDS in your community.

"Why Do I Boycott Israel"--New comic by Ethan Heitner

A new comic by Ethan Heitner illustrates the plethora or reasons for engaging in boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israeli occupation and apartheid: Find out more about how to get involved in BDS in your community or campus by clicking here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Our tax dollars hard at work, attacking shepherds in the South Hebron Hills

Last month we reported on the Israeli army attacking Palestinian shepherds and representatives of US Campaign member group Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in the South Hebron Hills of the occupied West Bank.
Here is video of the incident from CPT, which culminated in the kidnapping, torture, and release without charge and under death threat, of Musab Musa Raba'i--for the crime, one supposes, of trying to feed his sheep.
We make this possible. Our tax dollars and our involvements with corporations--such as Motorola, which creates the communication networks that make "operations" like this one possible and the surveillance systems that entrench Israeli settlements--encourage and facilitate this abuse.
Find out how much military aid to Israel your state, county, city, and Congressional district provide, and what you can do to change it, at http://aidtoisrael.org.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bill Fletcher, Jr. tells Bono what's what at CNN.com

Remember when U2 lead singer Bono ignored the existence of Palestinian nonviolent resistance in the New York Times even as Palestinian grassroots activists like Jamal Juma', Mohammad Othman, and Abdallah Abu Rahmah were thrown in jail for their nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation and apartheid? Here's US Campaign Steering Committee member Bill Fletcher, Jr., speaking truth at CNN.com:
"It has become almost a cliché, yet people, including Irish rocker Bono, continue to wield King's name when they bemoan the alleged absence of his like among the Palestinians. It seems no matter what Palestinian activists do, they are condemned as terrorists....The condemnation of Palestinian activists as terrorists, no matter their approach, shares a great deal in common with the manner in which King and African-American freedom fighters (and their allies) were demonized and repressed. It was the basic cause that needed to be destroyed by the oppressor and not just the individuals. The same is true today as Palestinian activists, including those who have consciously and openly repudiated armed struggle, are sidelined so that the Israeli government can claim, with a straight face, that it has no Palestinian partner with which it can discuss peace."
Read the full article here, and write to thank CNN for publishing Fletcher's piece here. Of course, as Fletcher himself testified to the UN General Assembly in November 2009, it's not just the style of resistance that ties the struggle against Jim Crow in the U.S. to the struggle against Israeli apartheid--it's the style of oppression, too:
"As an African American in and from the United States, I am keenly aware of the similarities between the systems of Israeli apartheid, South African apartheid, and the home-grown apartheid in the United States of America once known as “Jim Crow segregation.”.... Notwithstanding the efforts of heroic individuals such as William Patterson, Paul Robeson and Malcolm X to bring the case of African Americans before the United Nations, the international ramifications of the oppression suffered here were often and conveniently ignored by the great powers of the global North. The South African apartheid system was, to a great extent, modeled on the Jim Crow system in the United States, a fact noted by many people in South Africa and in the global South. The United Nations failed to take up the challenge to racism in my own country a generation ago; it must not fail to take up the struggle against Israeli apartheid today."
Take up the nonviolent struggle against Israeli apartheid by participating in the 6th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week, March 1-7, 2010

"First they ignore you...": Threats to "sabatoge" international efforts for justice and accountability show efficacy of BDS movement

Need more proof that the international movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) is shaking the defenders of Israeli occupation and apartheid to the core? Writing at Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah exposes the Orwellian details of a recent call for the use of Israel's government resources to go after leaders of the international movement for justice and accountability in Israel/Palestine:
"An extraordinary series of articles, reports and presentations by Israel's influential Reut Institute has identified the global movement for justice, equality and peace as an "existential threat" to Israel and called on the Israeli government to direct substantial resources to "attack" and possibly engage in criminal "sabotage" of this movement in what Reut believes are its various international "hubs" in London, Madrid, Toronto, the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond."
If the reports language sounds a bit...aggressive to you, you're not the only one:
"The use of the word "sabotage" is particularly striking and should draw the attention of governments, law enforcement agencies and university officials concerned about the safety and welfare of their students and citizens....At the very least, Reut seems to be calling for Israel's spy agencies to engage in covert activity to interfere with the exercise of legal free speech, association and advocacy rights in the United States, Canada and European Union countries, and possibly to cause harm to individuals and organizations. These warnings of Israel's possible intent -- especially in light of its long history of criminal activity on foreign soil -- should not be taken lightly."
And who are to be the targets of this "sabotage"?
"The "Delegitimization Network"... is made up of the broad, decentralized and informal movement of peace and justice, human rights, and BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) activists all over the world. Its manifestations include protests against Israeli officials visiting universities, Israeli Apartheid Week, faith-based and trade union-based activism, and "lawfare" -- the use of universal jurisdiction to bring legal accountability for alleged Israeli war criminals."
Hey, that's us! Apparently our work to end to U.S. and corporate complicity in Israeli occupation and apartheid is starting to worry those intent on maintaining inequality and injustice in Israel/Palestine. Abunimah agrees that the Reut Institute report reveals the efficacy of BDS campaigns:
"Reut is apparently unaware even of the irony of trying to reform "Brand Israel" as something cuddly, while at the same time publicly recommending that Israel's notorious spies "sabotage" peace groups on foreign soil. But there are two lessons we must heed: Reut's analysis vindicates the effectiveness of the BDS strategy, and as Israeli elites increasingly fear for the long-term prospects of the Zionist project they are likely to be more ruthless, unscrupulous and desperate than ever."
Read the full article here. The Reut Institute report sounds scary and Orwellian. But ironically it's a huge affirmation of our work. All of our efforts to ensure that international law, human rights, and equality for all will serve as the basis for a just peace are paying off, and it's freaking out those who would rather keep the ever-worsening status quo. If it's true that "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win," then we are getting awfully close to winning. Join the winning side today. Find out about upcoming BDS trainings and get involved in Israeli Apartheid Week. You can also learn about and register for our upcoming Grassroots Advocacy Training and Lobby Day, or get involved with a US Campaign member group near you. The Reut Institute wants to sabotage the movement for justice--let's let them, the Israeli government, and their backers in the U.S. government and multinational corporations, that we won't be threatened and we won't be stopped.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

US Campaign National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner on CNI Radio

On Thursday, February 18, you'll be able to listen to US Campaign National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner on "Jerusalem Calling," the weekly online radio program of US Campaign member group Council for the National Interest (CNI). Here's more info from CNI:
"On February 18th, Josh Ruebner will be our guest on the “CNI: Jerusalem Calling” internet-radio show. Ruebner will join CNI board member and host Dr. E. Faye Williams to discuss the cost and benefit of U.S. military aid to Israel, and how ignoring the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories hampers U.S. efforts at engagement in the Middle East.
Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a national coalition of more than 325 organizations, including the CNI Foundation, which works to change U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine to support human rights, international law, and equality. He is a former Analyst in Middle East Affairs at the Congressional Research Service (CRS), a federal government agency that provides policy analysis to Members of Congress. Ruebner holds a graduate degree in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.
End the Occupation has recently launched a new website (http://www.aidtoisrael.org) that enables Americans to see how much money their state, congressional district, county, and city provide in military aid to Israel. The website also provides alternative ways the money could be used in each community for things such as healthcare, affordable housing, and education. The website also provides information about the impact of U.S. weapons transfers to Israel on Palestinian civilians.
The show will air live online from Noon to 1 pm EST (5 pm to 6pm GMT). To listen, go to the show’s home-page, here, and click on the “Listen Live” button for Studio A, at the top left.
To call your questions in during the second half of the show, call toll-free: 877-474-3302. International users can ask questions by Skype, by calling Skypename: WSRADIOSTUDIO."

US Campaign member group speaks out in Kansas City Jewish Chronicle

Representatives of US Campaign member group Citizens for Justice in the Middle East have published a great piece in the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle in response to recent articles attacking their work. Check it out:

CJME, since 2003, has advocated for a just peace between Israel and Palestine as an obvious benefit to Israel, Palestine, the entire Middle East and, of course, to our own United States. To do that, we have criticized Israel for its 43-year occupation of Palestine and its ongoing confiscation of Palestinian homes, farms and businesses.... Alas, the Israeli government wants the whole, as demonstrated by the nearly half-million settlers, illegal by international law, who build in Palestine and who, often at gunpoint, drive Palestinians from their homes. The settlers are supported by Israeli government subsidies and U.S. taxes ($7 to $10 million per day)....Unfortunately, because so few in the U.S. government will speak freely, the settlers have painted Israel into a corner. Those who consider themselves friends of Israel have done it no favors by funding settlements and by permitting the Israeli government to continually defy the United States and international law.

Read the full article here, and get tips and media action resources for your own op-eds and letters to the editor by clicking here. To find a US Campaign member group near you, click here.

University of Arizona Community for Human Rights calls on university to sever Motorola ties

A University of Arizona student group, the Community for Human Rights, has called on UA to sever its connections with Motorola due to the company's complicity in human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Check out this article by Jennifer Koehmstedt in the University of Arizona Daily Wildcat entitled "Human rights violations: UA group calls for President Shelton to sever UAPD-Motorola contract":
"UA administrators are resisting a recommendation by UA students to terminate the university’s contract with the Motorola Corporation. Students say the company is complicit in human rights violations because of contracts they have with the Israeli government, which is militarily occupying Palestinian lands. In 1999, the University of Arizona Police Department entered into a $203,000 contract with the Motorola Corporation for radio and communication equipment. The contract is still active today. Students from the UA Community for Human Rights, a student-led group working on issues related to university contractors and human rights, are asking UAPD to end their contract with Motorola. Students say the contract violates the UA Code of Conduct because of Motorola’s alleged human rights violations."
The same issue of the Daily Wildcat is carrying an op-ed piece by UA student Gabriel Schivone, entitled "Dial D for Death." The piece highlights the connections between educational institutions, multinational corporations, and human rights abuses:
"Transnational companies such as Motorola, and Caterpillar, for that matter, have no business contributing to violence. They must not interfere in the important work of the numerous health, human rights and humanitarian groups whose brave work on the ground is meant to ensure the health and safety of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples. But as long as companies like Motorola remain knowingly complicit in savage human rights crimes, we have no business dealing with them. Yet, shamefully, at the moment we are and have been dealing with them for ten years. The difference is that we, as a university, and as individuals that comprise it, cannot control what Motorola does. We can, however, control our relationship with them."
A previous column in the school paper covered the history of BDS work at UA, including as part of anti-sweatshop campaigns and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Inspired by the work of these UA students and students at dozens of other universities working to sever ties with corporate human rights abusers? Check out opportunities to participate in upcoming boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) trainings by clicking here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

US Campaign member groups get creative on V-Day

On Valentine's Day and every other day, we sure do heart our member groups. Check out video and photos from US Campaign member group Adalah-NY protesting outside of Israeli settlement builder Lev Leviev's New York City diamond shop:
"Fifty human rights activists performed for Valentine's Day shoppers compelling them to boycott the Israeli diamond and settlement mogul Lev Leviev outside his store on Madison Avenue. The New York protest took place against the backdrop of an escalating arrest and harassment campaign by the Israeli military against Palestinian human rights organizations and protest and boycott activists from the West Bank villages where Leviev has built settlements."
The protest included some creative street theater, including a mock diamond commercial declaring "If you want to win her heart, don't buy her Leviev" and a BDS-themed version of the Beyonce hit "Single Ladies": Click here for more. Meanwhile, US Campaign member group CODEPINK Women for Peace marked Valentine's Day with an Ahava cosmetics boycott action:
"This Valentine’s Day, have a heart and join our Stolen Beauty campaign to boycott Ahava cosmetics by contacting Ricky’s NYC, a family-owned chain store here in New York City, to tell them, ‘Stop carrying AHAVA cosmetics! AHAVA means love in Hebrew, but there is nothing loving about the company’s practices.’ Even though you may not live in the New York area, your personal email to the Ricky's NYC president can help encourage a change of heart!"
Click here to send an email to Ricky's NYC. Find US Campaign member groups near you by clicking here, and check out events and actions in your community by taking a look at our online calendar.

Time.com asks: Would sanctions imposed on (apartheid) Israel help Palestinians?

Tony Karon has a piece at Time.com that highlights Israeli apartheid and asks the obvious question--if sanctions were necessary to end South African apartheid, won't they be required to end the modern day version? Karon notes a recent statement by Israeli 'Defense' Minister Ehud Barak ("If the Palestinians vote in elections it is a binational state, and if they don't vote it is an apartheid state.") and points out an interesting historical connection:
"Barak sounded his warning in the same week that South Africa marked the 20th anniversary of the decision by the then President F.W. De Klerk to free Nelson Mandela and begin negotiating an end to apartheid. It was certainly a courageous decision by De Klerk, but it's important to remember that it was not some epiphany about the immorality of apartheid that changed his mind. By 1989, with the Cold War essentially over, Pretoria had gotten the message that it could no longer count on U.S. support to head off sanctions and other international pressure in the name of anticommunist solidarity. Financial sanctions were beginning to bite and the price of maintaining the status quo was beginning to appear prohibitive....Political leaders typically change course not because they change their philosophy, but because the cost-benefit ratio in maintaining the status quo no longer makes sense.... [I]f his efforts are to bear any fruit, Obama and his international partners will have to change the cost-benefit analysis for the Israelis and Palestinians by raising both the inducements to act and the consequences of inaction. As long as the status quo remains more politically comfortable than the alternative, there's no reason to expect any progress."
Read the full article here. We've said it before and we'll say it again--the discourse in this country is changing. Words like "apartheid" and "sanctions" are becoming increasingly acceptable to relate to Israeli policy. Of course, we don't think that Israeli apartheid is a thing of the future--it's a thing of the present. That's why we're promoting Israeli Apartheid Week 2010 from March 1-7. Click here to find out more, to see what other groups are organizing, and to get resources for organizing your own Israeli Apartheid Week actions and events.

Michael Ratner on Israeli Apartheid

Paul Jay of The Real News Network interviews Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights on his experience with Israeli apartheid: Stand up against apartheid by organizing and participating in Israeli Apartheid Week 2010! (Thanks to Palestine Video for posting the vids)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Israeli Apartheid Week 2010 trailer and action resources

Check out the trailer for Israeli Apartheid Week 2010, and find out how you can get involved with this and other March Month of Action activities by clicking here.

From Democracy Now: "Palestinian Families Appeal to UN Over Israeli Construction of “Museum of Tolerance” on Jerusalem’s Historic Mamilla Cemetery"

Watch US Campaign Advisory Board member Rashid Khalidi and Center for Constitutional Rights President Michael Ratner discuss the the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s plans to build a “Museum of Tolerance” over the historic Mamilla cemetery in Jerusalem:

From Palestine Think Tank: "Gaza in Plain Language"

From Palestine Think Tank: "Gaza in Plain Language" Tired of your tax dollars going to support these grievous violations of international law and human rights? Check out our new website to find out how much aid to Israel your state and county provides, and click here to take action.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How much military aid to Israel do you provide?

How much military aid to Israel does your city or state provide, and what could it have bought instead? Find out using our new website and interactive map:

Aid to Israel in the State of the Union?

Learn more and take action here.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

From Hampshire College: "First Anniversary of Divestment 2009!"

From Hampshire College Students for Justice in Palestine: "February 7th marks the anniversary of Hampshire College's divestment from the Israeli Occupation of Palestine, the first institution of higher education to wash its hands of the systematic exploitation of the Palestinian people by the Israeli state. To remember the occasion, Students for Justice in Palestine urges you to talk, inform and celebrate this historic event.

....

In just the last year, our movement has grown exponentially, with two of the largest financial institutions in Denmark announcing their divestment from Elbit Systems and Africa-Israel, as well as divestment campaigns going on at many other schools and institutions, like the University of Arizona and Carleton. As Ali Abunimah has pointed out, the movement must be getting something right when Tel Schechter of J Street said that he feared that it is "spreading like wildfire across the country."

In November of last year, student organizers representing over 40 campuses nation-wide came together for a BDS Conference held on Hampshire's campus to continue to carry the momentum of divestment last January. More than ever, activists throughout the United States and around the world are talking to each other, exchanging ideas, and continuing to find new ways to respond to the the 2005 call from over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel.

We hope, in the spirit of "remembrance," that this day is not simply memorialized in and of itself--for itself--but serves as an inspiration for current and future struggles against injustice, both transnationally and locally--other movements which demand our solidarity just as much as we ask for theirs. "I cannot dissociate myself from the fate reserved for my brother," said Fanon. "Every one of my acts commits me as a man. Every instance of my reticence, every instance of my cowardice, manifests the man."

Like Fanon, any memory of injustice is also simultaneously a call to action in the present. Sunday, February 7th, should be a day to imagine how to carefully and skillfully respond to the demands of Palestinian civil society, and to consider the role we have in our own communities, our own relationships, as people concerned with justice.

Divestment is a statement. But it's only a start."

Inspired by the work of Hampshire SJP and looking to start your own divestment campaign on campus? Check out our campus divestment resources by clicking here.

Hampshire SJP also suggests some other actions you can take:

-Changing your status on Facebook to something like, "I remember Hampshire College's Divestment from the Occupation." -Trending this post (permalink: here) and the facebook event we've created on twitter, under #divestment2009 or something similar -Read & educate yourself about the situation as it stands today at sites like: Electronic Intifada Jewbonics US Campaign to End the Occupation B'tselem -Talk to friends and family members--spread the word


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Boycott and divestment gets mainstream attention in church, on campus

It's good news to see that boycott and divestment campaigns against companies profiting from Israeli occupation and apartheid are becoming increasingly mainstream. Here's a couple of recent examples. The National Catholic Reporter ran a great article about the Kairos Document produced by the Palestinian Christian community, calling for churches around the world to intervene for justice and peace in Israel/Palestine via boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns:
"The leaders of the thirteen Christian communities serving in the Palestinian territories -- including Latin and Orthodox patriarchs -- have declared the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories a “sin against God and humanity” and urged Christians everywhere to nonviolently intervene to end its injustices....Such a response, the authors wrote, includes civil disobedience, boycotts, and divestment campaigns. “Resistance is a right and duty for Christians. But it is resistance with love as its logic,” they said....The national committee for the Palestinian Boycott and Divestment and Sanctions campaign said it “saluted the moral clarity, courage, and principled position conveyed in this new document which emphasizes that resisting injustice should ‘concern the church.’ "
The article quotes US Campaign National Media Coordinator David Hosey in regards to U.S. church involvement with divestment campaigns:
"David Hosey, media coordinator for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and a missionary with the United Methodist Church, said members of the New England conference of that church are in correspondence with the targeted companies, the first step in “phased divestment.” The Methodists adopted a resolution in 2004 opposing the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories. Various regional conferences are now debating whether or not to express that opposition with divestment campaigns....
As for action from the Roman Catholic Church, Hosey said members of the Sisters of Loretto, a U.S. order of Catholic women religious, were pushing for shareholder resolutions urging Caterpillar to stop its sale of militarized bulldozers to Israel.
Christian calls for divestment have sparked criticism from various Jewish organizations and, at times, strained inter-religious dialogue. But Hosey thinks that could change as more Jewish and Israeli groups endorse using economic pressure to change Israeli action in the Occupied Territories."
Divestment is becoming part of the mainstream discourse on U.S. campuses as well. The University of Arizona Daily Wildcat now includes a weekly column on corporate involvement in the Israeli occupation. This week's column notes the connections between corporate accountability work against sweat shops, the BDS campaign against South African apartheid, and the BDS movement against Israeli occupation, as well as highlighting the University's investments in human rights abusers Caterpillar and Motorola:
"After an intensive anti-sweatshop campaign last spring led by students in the Sweatshop-Free Coalition and University Community for Human Rights, President Robert Shelton had the UA divest our financial holdings in the Russell Corporation due to the company’s singularly cruel labor abuses in its factories in Honduras. Now, while all eyes are on Shelton as he continues to sit on the UA’s illegal business contracts with Caterpillar and Motorola, it’s worth noting that divestment activism on campus stretches back far beyond Shelton’s tenure and probably beyond everything else on campus except for the oldest of UA’s buildings........Motorola and Caterpillar, two companies perpetuating grisly crimes upon mostly Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, are so unspeakable as to have prompted Jewish South African politician Ronnie Kasrils, who was quoted in the United Kingdom’s Guardian in a 2006 article, to denounce the U.S.-backed Israeli occupation as “much worse than apartheid” of the sort under which Kasrils and others survived for so many long, bloody years. A rich history has proven that UA students have risen to the occasion of doing everything they can to disassociate themselves and their universities from such atrocities. One doesn’t have to look far to see that such a time has come again."
Check out the US Campaign's website for resources on starting your own boycott and divestment campaign on campus and/or organizing against Caterpillar and Motorola in your community.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Israeli Apartheid Week--coming to a city near you!

Check out this video for Israeli Apartheid Week 2010 in Toronto, and then get resources for organizing Israeli Apartheid Week events in your area by clicking here.

Israel closes case of U.S. citizen shot with U.S. tax dollars by Israeli military

Still think the Israeli army--or any military--can investigate itself? Here's the latest on Tristan Anderson, the U.S. citizen who was shot in the face with a high velocity tear gas canister by the Israeli military while in the West Bank village of Ni'lin, from Ha'aretz:
"The Justice Ministry declared Sunday that no indictments will be filed against police in the case of an American activist who was hit by a tear gas canister and left comatose during a violent demonstration in the West Bank last year. Tristan Anderson, 38, of Oakland, California, was critically injured during a Palestinian protest in the West Bank village of Naalin last March. Amir Moran, spokesman for Israel's Tel Hashomer hospital, where Anderson is being treated, said his condition has not changed. Justice Ministry spokesman Ron Roman said the investigation determined there was no criminal intent in harming Anderson. The investigation was opened in May and closed several weeks ago, but results were made public only Sunday. Human rights groups charge Anderson's case highlights a culture of impunity toward Israeli forces, because incidents of harm against Palestinians and their supporters are rarely investigated and few reach prosecution."
In FY2007 alone, the US gave Israel 121,991 pieces of teargas and riot control agents valued at $1,654,536. These munitions are used by the Israeli military against unarmed, anti-apartheid activists. Find out how you can work to hold Israel accountable for the way it uses the $3 billion/year in military aid paid for by U.S. tax money by clicking here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

As Goldstone deadline approaches, Israeli impunity continues

Three months after the U.S. Congress voted in favor of Israeli impunity by condemning the Goldstone Report with H.Res. 867--and just a few days before the deadline set by Judge Goldstone for independent investigations of the accusations of the report by all parties involved--Israel continues to avoid real accountability for its violations of international law and Palestinian human rights during last year's assault on the Gaza Strip. On January 31, Israel issued a 46-page document refuting the claims of the Goldstone Report and "documenting the steps it has taken to investigate IDF actions during Operation Cast Lead," according to YNet News. They Ynet articles notes that the IDF document claims to disprove only 4 of the 36 accusations of war crime leveled against Israel by the Goldstone Report.
The Israeli "counter-report" has already come under fire for inaccuracy. Here's the Guardian reporting on evidence which directly contradicts the Israeli report (note that the MK82 is a U.S.-made bomb, and that until recently fuzes for this series of bombs were produced by Motorola):
"The Israeli report looked in detail at a handful of incidents, including the attack on the al-Badr flour mill in northern Gaza, which was severely damaged.
The UN mine action team, which handles ordnance disposal in Gaza, has told the Guardian that the remains of a 500-pound Mk82 aircraft-dropped bomb were found in the ruins of the mill last January. Photographs of the front half of the bomb have been obtained by the Guardian.
This evidence directly contradicts the finding of the Israeli report, which challenged allegations that the building was deliberately targeted and specifically stated there was no evidence of an air strike. Goldstone, however, used the account of the air strike as a sign that Israel's attack on the mill was not mere collateral damage, but precisely targeted and a possible war crime."
Click here to read the full article.
The Israeli report also indicated that token disciplinary steps had been taken in those cases that the Israeli military ruled "inappropriate," including the case of two officers who were lightly disciplined for their role in the shelling of a UN compound in the heavily populated civilian area of Tel al-Hawa.
Meanwhile, attacks on Goldstone continue, including the latest slanders from Harvard professor and apologist for Israeli war crimes, Alan Dershowitz. Here's human rights activist Omar Baddar writing in the Huffington Post:
"The list of UN resolutions, legal bodies, mainstream human rights organizations, and prominent human rights advocates who have recently condemned, with overwhelming evidence, Israel's atrocities against Palestinians has become too large to ignore. Indeed, it is so extensive that one can no longer defend Israel's human rights record without having to attack the international human rights community itself, along with authoritative institutions of international law, and accuse them of exacerbating the conflict. Such zealotry was on full display since the human rights community shed light on Israel's atrocious conduct in last year's assault on Gaza. However, it sank to a new low of desperation yesterday, when Israeli news outlets reported that Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz has accused the eminent South African judge Richard Goldstone of being an "evil man" and a "traitor to the Jewish people."
Click here to read the full article.
Tired of U.S.-backed impunity for war crimes? Join the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and Interfaith Peace-Builders for a Grassroots Advocacy Training and Lobby Day, March 7-8, 2010. And take action for accountability in your community by organizing in your Congressional district and strengthening the international movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israeli apartheid and occupation. Tired of impunity? Act for accountability!

From PinkTank: "A British MP makes the case against Ahava"

Dr. Phillis Starkey, a British MP, made a speech on January 27 regarding the fraudulent labeling of Israeli settlement products. One section of her speech focused on one of our old favorites, Ahava cosmetics.
Here's an excerpt from the speech, courtesy of PinkTank, the blog of US Campaign member group CODEPINK Women for Peace:
"I now turn to a specific case relating to cosmetics in which it seems to me that even more blatant fraud is occurring. Cosmetics, particularly from Dead sea products, are very significant imports into the UK; there were 417 consignments of beauty and skincare products in 2009. I want to focus on Ahava, a firm that is part-owned by two co-operatives based at Mizpe Shalem and Kibbutz Kalia. Both are in the occupied Jordan valley and both are on the EU list of settlements. The products that Ahava produces are based on Dead sea mud, which is extracted at both those sites and processed at Mizpe Shalem. There is no evidence of any other production facilities and certainly none within Green Line Israel, although the head office is near Tel Aviv.
The Ahava website and product labels clearly give the postcode at Mizpe Shalem and then say “Israel”, which is an incorrect description. Its chief executive was totally open in a BBC interview a year or so ago about the fact that it uses the head office address, not the site of production, to justify the “Made in Israel” claim. That could not be more blatant. There is no argument about this one, and when… the firm was challenged about where its site of production was, it made no attempt to rebut its site in the occupied territories, but just waffled about how “the Dead Sea treasures are international and do not belong to one nation”, which was an interesting response to an HMRC request."
Read more here, and click here for "Stolen Beauty" Ahava boycott resources.