Monday, May 31, 2010

Press Release: Israeli Attack on Free Gaza Boats Violates International Law, Shows Need to End U.S. Aid to

Washington, DC (May 31) - The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a national coalition of more than 325 organizations working to change U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine to support human rights, international law, and equality, today condemned the Israeli navy’s attack on civilians aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, a convoy of aid ships attempting to deliver rebuilding and medical supplies to the besieged Gaza Strip. The US Campaign calls on U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice to vote today to support a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s action and initiating an investigation. This act of piracy in international waters, which has reportedly resulted in the deaths of as many as 19 activists, the wounding of 50-80, and the abduction of the Freedom Flotilla ships, is aided and abetted by U.S. military aid to Israel. In July 2008, the United States signed a contract worth $1.9 billion to transfer the latest-generation of naval combat vessels to Israel at U.S. taxpayer expense. Currently, Congress is in the process of appropriating a record $3.2 billion in military aid to Israel this budget year. The US Campaign has experts available to discuss the role of U.S. military aid and international law in Israel’s latest attack on civilians: Josh Ruebner, US Campaign National Advocacy Director: “This act of piracy is only the latest Israeli violation of international law and human rights. These civilians were attempting to break Israel’s illegal and immoral siege of the Gaza Strip and its denial of reconstruction and medical supplies to the 1.5 million Palestinians who live there. It is unconscionable that the United States continues to supply the Israeli military with the military hardware necessary to carry out violations of this sort.” David Wildman, Executive Secretary for Human Rights and Racial Justice, Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church: “Today 700 people from many countries who had joined together on 6 ships in an international effort to deliver humanitarian supplies to the people of Gaza were met by another act of piracy on international waters by Israel. The brutal attacks today on civilians demonstrate the desperate measures the government of Israel will take to maintain their 3+year long harsh and illegal collective punishment on the whole 1.5 million people of Gaza. We call on the United States to end immediately all military aid to Israel and insist on a full and independent investigation into these gross violations of international law. U.S. military hardware and equipment was undoubtedly used in these acts of piracy and attacks on civilians on the high seas.” David Hosey, US Campaign National Media Coordinator: “The Israeli government is hoping for international silence in the face of its latest attack on civilians attempting to break the illegal and immoral siege of Gaza. In previous attempts to break the siege, the Israeli navy has rammed boats and illegally boarded and abducted members of the Free Gaza Movement. This latest attack reaches new levels, with the use of live ammunition on civilians. The United States has a duty to speak up against this violation of international law and human rights.” Emergency rallies and protests are being organized in response to the attacks. For a complete list of protests, click here: http://gazafreedommarch.org/cms/en/flotilla/protest.aspx The US Campaign is a national coalition of more than 325 organizations working to change U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine to support human rights, international law, and equality. For more information, click here: http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?list=type&type=34

EMERGENCY-Take Action: Israel Attacks Gaza Humanitarian Aid Flotilla

EMERGENCY-Take Action: Israel Attacks Gaza Humanitarian Aid Flotilla In an international act of piracy and murder in international waters, the Israeli navy intercepted, boarded, and opened fire on humanitarian activists on a flotilla of ships attempting to deliver humanitarian supplies to the Israeli-blockaded Palestinian Gaza Strip. According to news reports, Israeli commandos killed as many as 19 humanitarian activists on board one ship, and have abducted all 700 passengers on board the six boats composing the flotilla who are in the process of being sent against their will to Israel for arrest and/or deportation. The reaction of the Obama Administration to Israel's attack on the humanitarian aid flotilla, which included U.S. citizens, has been tepid. A White House spokesperson stated that he "deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained." Of course, this statement completely ignores U.S. complicity in arming Israel and enabling its human rights abuses. In July 2008, the United States signed a contract worth $1.9 billion to transfer the latest-generation of naval combat vessels to Israel at U.S. taxpayer expense. Currently, Congress is in the process of appropriating a record $3.2 billion in military aid to Israel this budget year. Events are moving quickly. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apparently canceled his meeting tomorrow at the White House to return to Israel. Later today, the UN Security Council is set to address Israel's attack on the humanitarian flotilla. For the latest news from the flotilla, please click here. TAKE ACTION 1. Organize an emergency protest against Israel's attack on the humanitarian flotilla. Find events near you and post your event details by clicking here. 2. Contact the U.S. Mission to the United Nations at 212-415-4062 right away and demand that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice vote to support a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel's action and initiating an investigation. 3. Learn more about the deadly impact of U.S. military aid to Israel and take action to end it by clicking here.

Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories: "Those responsible must be held criminally accountable"

News Release 31 May 2010 Gaza aid convoy killings: “Those responsible must be held criminally accountable” - UN expert GENEVA – The UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, urged Monday the international community to bring to justice those responsible for the killing of some 16 unarmed peace activist, when Israeli armed commandos stormed a convoy of ships carrying aid to Gaza. “Israel is guilty of shocking behavior by using deadly weapons against unarmed civilians on ships that were situated in the high seas where freedom of navigation exists, according to the law of the seas,” Mr. Falk said. “It is essential that those Israelis responsible for this lawless and murderous behavior, including political leaders who issued the orders, be held criminally accountable for their wrongful acts.” There are confirmed reports of lethal interference by Israeli military units on the high seas with the Freedom Flotilla of six ships carrying some 10,000 tons of medicine, food, and building materials to the civilian population of Gaza. Preliminary reports suggest as many as 16 unarmed activists were killed, and dozens more wounded. “This peaceful humanitarian initiative by citizens from 50 countries is an urgent response to the continuation of an unlawful blockade that has been maintained for almost three years causing great physical and mental harm to the whole of the 1.5 million people entrapped within Gaza,” the UN independent expert said. “Such a massive form of collective punishment is a crime against humanity, as well as a gross violation of the prohibition on collective punishment in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.” “As Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, familiar with the suffering of the people of Gaza, I find this latest instance of Israeli military lawlessness to create a situation of regional and global emergency. Unless prompt and decisive action is taken to challenge the Israeli approach to Gaza all of us will be complicit in criminal policies that are challenging the survival of an entire beleaguered community.” Mr. Falk urged the world community “to take urgent action in response to this flagrant flouting of international law. It is time to insist on the end of the blockade of Gaza. The worldwide campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel is now a moral and political imperative, and needs to be supported and strengthened everywhere.” ENDS Learn more about the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/countries/ps/mandate/index.htm OHCHR Country Page – Israel: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/ILIndex.aspx OHCHR Country Page – Occupied Palestinian Territories: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/PSIndex.aspx For more information and media requests, please contact Kevin Turner (Tel: +41 22 928 9603 / email: kturner@ohchr.org)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Theatrical Call to Action: There is a Field

"This October marks the ten-year anniversary of what Palestinians inside Israel refer to as "Black October." As the second Intifada erupted in the West Bank and Gaza, demonstrations also began in Arab villages inside Israel. In October 2000, twelve Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed in these demonstrations by Israeli security forces. One of those killed was a seventeen year old boy named Asel Asleh. He was shot point blank in the neck by Israeli police at a demonstration outside his village. Asel had been a participant in a peace program called Seeds of Peace. He was wearing a Seeds of Peace t-shirt at the time of his killing and was buried in it. There is a Field is about Asel's life and his death, through the perspective of his older sister, Nardin. The play is culled entirely from primary source material: interviews with Nardin and other family members over a seven year period; emails between Asel and Nardin; Asel's emails to his friends from Seeds of Peace; and transcripts from the commission of inquiry that the Israeli government held regarding the October killings. The play also addresses the larger issues facing Palestinians inside Israel, which are rarely addressed or acknowledged. The ten-year anniversary of Black October offers an important opportunity to inject these issues into the discourse. Therefore, throughout the month of October, theatre companies and activists world-wide are invited to take on this script. Be it fully mounted productions, staged readings, or a "living room reading," There is a Field will be launched throughout the world this October, serving as a platform for awareness and discussion. If you are willing to organize a performance/staged reading/living room reading in your community during October 2010, please contact Jen Marlowe, jenmarlowe@hotmail.com. The script is available upon request."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

2010 US Assembly of Jews: Confronting Racism and Israeli Apartheid

Check out the upcoming U.S. Assembly of Jews: Confronting Racism and Israeli Apartheid, organized by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and US Campaign member group Middle East Children's Alliance.
" 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. "
Click here to learn more.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Congress lives in the Twilight Zone

May, 19, 2010: Congress "debates" the authorization of yet more military aid to Israel. This time around, $205 million for so-called missile "defense." When it comes to U.S. policy on Israel/Palestine, watching Congress is truly like entering "The Twilight Zone." Watch our spoof and learn more about the effects of U.S. military aid to Israel.

Boycotts are bustin' out all over

Have you heard the boycott news? Singer/songwriter/rock-n-roller Elvis Costello has not only canceled two gigs in Israel, but he's come out with a powerful public statement of his support for boycott:
"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.

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.” "

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:

HEY ELTON from John Greyson on Vimeo.

Boycott--particularly the Palestinian Authority's decision to enforce a boycott of Israeli settlement products--has been getting mainstream coverage as well, including in 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:
"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.

Palestine Note: "House passes $205m Israel military aid boost"

Jared Malsin, writing at the Palestine Note:
"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

Press Release: National Coalition Urges Congress to Vote No Today on 'Iron Dome' Missile Defense

From a US Campaign press release, issued today:
"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.

URGENT: Vote Today on Even More Military Aid to Israel!

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

New Cultures of Resistance film casts spotlight on Gaza Freedom March

Have a look at this short clip from US Campaign ally Cultures of Resistance that highlights the work of the Gaza Freedom March: Remember that when the Gaza Freedom March ended, marchers signed the Cairo Declaration, which calls for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) to end Israeli apartheid. Find out how you can get involved in BDS in your community by clicking here.

Mike Coogan: "Money talks in US-Israel relations"

Check out US Campaign Office Manager Mike Coogan, writing on U.S. military aid to Israel in the University of Portland student paper The Beacon:
"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

US Campaign on RT: "If governments won't stand up for accountability, we as citizens will."

US Campaign National Media Coordinator David Hosey talks to Jihan Hafiz of RT about Tristan Anderson, H.Con.Res.270, and the importance of accountability:
Tell your Member of Congress to support H.Con.Res.270, which calls for an investigation into the Israeli military shooting of Tristan Anderson, by clicking here.
Find out more about how you can stand up for accountability with boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) by clicking here.

Friday, May 7, 2010

57 organizations and artists thank Gil Scott-Heron for heeding Palestinian call to boycott Israel

Press release from US Campaign member group Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel. The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is one of the 57 signatories of the letter to Gil Scott-Heron, as are many member groups of the US Campaign:

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: http://adalahny.org/index.php/letters-a-statements/17-letters/357-thank-you-gil-scott-heron-from-organizations

US Campaign members and allies won't let Boston Museum of Science greenwash apartheid

A press release from Boston-area BDS activists: Boston, MA, May 3, 2010 – Local activists protested the so-called “Israeli Innovation Weekend” (IIW) at the Museum of Science in Boston through multiple, disparate actions on Sunday. IIW’s sponsors, including the Consulate General of Israel to New England, were left flummoxed by the activists’ efforts and largely unable to prevent their successful, multi-pronged disruption of the event. Protesters targeted IIW because it was part of a state-sponsored campaign to “greenwash” Israel’s discriminatory, apartheid regime and atrocious human rights record. IIW was officially sponsored by the Israeli Consulate, which also played a major role in funding and planning the event; nearly half of IIW’s steering committee was composed of Consulate staff and the Consulate was one of the top donors. Throughout the day, protesters maintained a visible public presence outside the Museum. Protesters held signs drawing attention to Israeli “innovation” in technologies of death such as white phosphorus and cluster bombs, parodying the exhibit’s slogan, “Healing the World Through Technology.” Across the street from the Museum, demonstrators also prominently displayed a large Palestinian flag from the adjacent East Cambridge Lechmere Viaduct Bridge. The protesters’ message was seen by hundreds of Museum visitors and passing tour groups, many of whom called out or honked horns in expressions of solidarity. Meanwhile, inside the Museum, lone activists stealthily replaced the IIW program with a duplicate program, virtually identical in appearance but which highlighted themes of the Israeli science and technology sectors’ complicity in water theft and other abuses. The front of the program named Israel “The World’s Leader in Cutting-Edge Apartheid Technologies,” while inside the program, titles of IWW lectures were re-printed with altered titles. For example, “Sunshine and Sustainability: Israeli Leadership in Solar Technology” was renamed "Sustainable Darkness: Israeli Innovations in Torture Technology and Extra-Legal Maneuvering,” while “Sharing Water in the Middle East—Israel’s Cross-Border Water Resource Strategy” became “Strategic Water Appropriation in the Middle East: Might Makes Right.” IIW organizers were overheard multiple times expressing anger and frustration at their inability to determine who was “plastering” the exhibit with this literature. Download a copy of the brochure here. Activists surreptitiously distributed this material for more than two hours before finally being discovered and asked to leave the Museum. Yet Museum staff were observed reading the alternative program and several expressed sympathy with the activists’ cause as they were escorted out of the Museum. Finally, yet another group of activists infiltrated the last panel lecture of the day, entitled “Israeli Technology: An Investor's Perspective.” As the panel began, two participants unfurled a giant banner reading “Don’t Invest in Israeli Apartheid.” After the activists were shouted down by the audience and removed by Museum security, others continued to disrupt the session every five to ten minutes, individually standing up and interrupting the lecture by condemning investment in Israeli technology, calling for justice for Palestinians, or singing liberation songs. One disrupter referred the audience to the report about war crimes in Gaza by the UN inquiry commission led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone if they truly wanted to know more about Israeli technological innovation. Another declared that investing in Israel was investing in the dispossession and genocide of indigenous people. Yet another sang a re-written, Palestine-specific version of Sweet Honey in the Rock’s Chile Your Waters Run Red Through Soweto. In sum, the activists made it impossible for the event to proceed and visibly agitated the audience. In another positive sign of Israel’s increasing marginalization, there were so few people in actual attendance of the lecture that after all the activists had been removed, there was more security present in the auditorium than attendees. The BDS movement is an international response to the call from Palestinian society to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Israeli government until it ends its occupation and dismantles the Wall inside the West Bank, recognizes the equal rights of Palestinian citizens, and respects the right of return of Palestinian refugees. To learn more about the call for BDS, and to read about other organizations engaged in BDS work who also support the protest of the greenwashing of Israel, see: http://www.bdsmovement.net/ - site of the global BDS movement; you can read the call for BDS here http://www.pacbi.org/ - site of the Palestinian campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel http://www.endtheoccupation.org/ - site of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Josh Ruebner: "Impunity for criminal acts spurs criminal behavior"

This post is contributed by US Campaign National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner: More than seven years ago, the Israeli military crushed to death U.S. citizen Rachel Corrie who was nonviolently protecting a Palestinian home from being demolished in the occupied Gaza Strip when she was repeatedly run over by a Caterpillar bulldozer. Shortly thereafter, Rep. Brian Baird, whose constituents include the Corrie family, introduced H.Con.Res.111, calling for an independent U.S. investigation into her death. Although the resolution garnered an unexpectedly large number of cosponsors—77 in all—due primarily to the Corrie family’s tireless lobbying efforts, the resolution failed to make it out of the largely AIPAC-friendly House International Relations Committee. To date, the United States has not undertaken an investigation into Corrie’s killing, even though to do so is standard procedure when a foreign government kills a U.S. citizen. Impunity for criminal acts spurs criminal behavior. Therefore, Israel’s shooting of U.S. citizen Tristan Anderson almost six years to the day after Corrie’s killing was horrific, yet hardly unexpected, given previous U.S. failures to hold Israel accountable. On March 13, 2009, the Israeli military shot Anderson in the forehead with a high-velocity tear gas canister during an unarmed protest against Israel’s illegal Apartheid Wall in the Palestinian West Bank village of Ni’lin. Anderson was critically injured and suffered brain damage; he remains today in a Tel Aviv hospital. An extremely graphic and disturbing video of the Anderson’s shooting can be viewed by clicking here. After the Israeli Ministry of Justice announced in February that it would not file any indictments stemming from Anderson’s shooting, Rep. Barbara Lee, in whose Oakland-based district Anderson lives, introduced H.Con.Res.270 on April 28, calling “on the United States Government to undertake a full, fair, and expeditious investigation of the circumstances that led to the injury of Tristan Anderson.” In a press release, Rep. Lee noted that “It is with great urgency that we must seek accountability in this matter, and most importantly, ensure that such an unfortunate event does not occur again.” Her sense of alacrity unfortunately does not seem to be shared by many of her colleagues. As of this writing, the resolution has attracted only three cosponsors. Clearly voters disturbed by Anderson’s shooting will need to make their voices heard with their Members of Congress for this resolution to stand any chance of passing. Since May 4, more than 1,000 people have done so by asking their Representatives to sign on as cosponsors to this resolution through an action alert sponsored by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. People wishing to add their voices can do so by clicking here. During the great Netanyahu-Biden settlement expansion dust-up of March 2010, Vice President Biden pledged that the Obama Administration would hold Israel "accountable for any statements or actions that inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of talks." Israel’s gruesome shooting of U.S. citizen Tristan Anderson is an occasion for Congress and the Obama Administration to demonstrate that its talk of accountability for Israeli actions is more than empty rhetoric. Pass H.Con.Res.270. Tristan Anderson deserves justice, and this resolution is a first step towards it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"Think of them and be scared"

Check out this video, shared with us by US Campaign member group Christian Peacemaker Teams, which features Palestinian schoolchildren from the West Bank village of At-Tuwani speaking about their encounters with Israeli settlers: Companies such as Caterpillar, Motorola, and Ahava support Israeli settlements: Caterpillar bulldozers are used in the construction of settlements and the Apartheid Wall; Motorola provides surveillance technology and cell phone service to settlements; and Ahava is produced in an Israeli settlement on confiscated Palestinian land. Find out how you can hold these companies accountable for their violations of international law through boycotts and divestment (BDS). And check out this cool new online boycott platform: http://boy.co.tt/

More reports and clips from UC Berkeley

Check out a powerful speech by Ibrahim Shikaki, a Ramallah resident and visiting scholar at UC Berkeley, on The Only Democracy? blog; a great article by UC Berkeley student Matthew Taylor, "A surgical strike on Israel's wallet could end the occupation," at Ha'aretz; as well as these clips from divestment testimonies: Start this conversation on your campus using the US Campaign's campus divestment handbook.