The AUPHR president quoted in this article is also our Steering Committee member at the US Campaign. His group has conducted other recently successful actions in the Portland area, such as handing our petition, signed by 7,600 hundred individuals, to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, demanding that the Obama Administration hold Israel to the same legal standards as all other nations, and stop expanding settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This week's Portland event took another approach toward the same objective, by promoting financial divestment from the Israeli state.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
About 20 protesters demanding rights for Palestinians picketed Tuesday outside the Portland launch of an organization formed to boost business between Oregon and Israel.
Former Gov. Ted Kulongoski spoke to more than twice that number at the Oregon-Israel Business Alliance kickoff inside the University of Oregon White Stag Building in Old Town. Kulongoski, who led a trade mission to Israel last year near the end of his term, favors increased dealings with Israel.
Outside, protester Steve Kerpen held a sign that said "Stop funding Israeli apartheid." Kerpen, of Portland, said he saw Israelis mistreating Palestinians during a visit to the West Bank in May. "I'm Jewish, but I've seen what's happening," Kerpen said. "It just seems a horrible thing to support a country that does this to its citizens."
Oregon trade with Israel is currently dominated by Intel Corp., which has an expanding semiconductor factory and a research group there.
But Portland-based Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights opposes business ties, saying Israel maintains apartheid policies that discriminate against Arabs. Peter Miller, president of the organization, said Kulongoski didn't address his group's concerns when members raised them last fall before the October trade trip.