Monday, January 31, 2011

Rachel Corrie Foundation announces 2011 annual "Peace Works" conference

The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, based in Olympia, Washington, is a member group in our national coalition.

Peace Works 2011: Solidarity in Action

FEATURING KEYNOTE SPEAKER ALICE WALKER

The Rachel Corrie Foundation will host its annual Peace Works Conference, April 8-9th, 2011. This years conference, Solidarity in Action, features acclaimed author and activist, Alice Walker as our keynote speaker. Please join us for two exciting days of networking, panels, and workshops focused on organizing around the ever-growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in support of Palestinian human rights.

Peace Works will take place at the Evergreen State College whose student body in June 2010 overwhelmingly voted for campus divestment from Israeli corporations and the creation of a Caterpillar Inc. equipment free campus. Panelists will address a variety of issues including strategies for justice, BDS campaigns, and cross movement building. Local and national organizers will facilitate workshops to educate, motivate, and inspire you to take action in your community. Workshop themes will include corporate, consumer, campus, interfaith, and cultural/academic BDS campaigns providing the opportunity for the BDS movement to celebrate its national successes and strengthen our regional efforts.

ARTICLE CONTINUES...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Good riddance, 'peace process'

Last night the Los Angeles Times ran this op-ed by our National Advocacy Director, Josh Ruebner.

Good riddance, 'peace process'
Don't lament the end of negotiations that put Israeli demands, backed almost unconditionally by the U.S. and at the expense of basic Palestinian rights, first and foremost.

By Josh Ruebner
January 28, 2011

Aaron David Miller, a former Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" point person in the George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, is correct to assert in his Jan. 26 Times Op-Ed article that the recent cache of formerly secret documents on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations leaked to Al Jazeera "are bound to have a chilling effect on a process already in the deep freeze."

He errs, however, in lamenting the potential demise of a U.S.-sponsored "peace process" that is premised on Israel's demands, not Palestinian rights.

"As harmful as these leaks are to Palestinians, the Israelis don't look very good either," Miller notes. The Palestine Papers, as the leaks are known, portray Palestinian negotiators bending over backward to concede their rights, with Israel pocketing the concessions while demanding even more.

ARTICLE CONTINUES...

CNN report mentions Jan. 11 New York protest of tear gas manufacturer

In the following article on U.S.-made tear gas weapons used illegally by multiple Middle Eastern governments, CNN cites the same New York City protest that we blogged on January 12, organized by our member organization, Adalah-NY, and others, to call on the manufacturer to stop providing tear gas to the Israeli military.  (One correction for CNN, however, is that the unarmed Palestinian demonstrator, Jawaher Abu Rahamah, died in Ramallah, which is not Israel.)

Controversial tear gas canisters made in the USA
By Emily Smith, CNN
January 28, 2011

[excerpts follow]

A thick pall of chemical smoke hung over a crowd in Cairo on Friday afternoon. People ran, covering their noses and mouths to escape yet another volley of tear gas.

The same scene was being played out elsewhere in Cairo, in Alexandria and Suez. And several weeks back, Tunisian police used tear gas to try to quell protests there. It is one of the most common ways to used to disperse protests -- but not everyone runs.

In both Tunisia and Egypt, some protesters stopped to pick up canisters, and posted photographs online. A few inches long, blue and silver, they include warning labels and then a set of initials: CSI, followed by "Made in the U.S.A."

The photograph posted in Tunisia was of a 40 mm riot CS smoke projectile, made by a company called Combined Systems Inc., which describes itself as a "tactical weapons company" and is based in Jamestown, Pennsylvania.

...

Whether CSI is operating within the law hasn't stopped protestors from voicing their dissatisfaction with the company.

After [Jawaher Abu] Rahmah died in Israel, demonstrators gathered outside Point Lookout Capital Partners' Manhattan offices. Point Lookout owns a majority interest in CSI. The protesting group -- the New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel -- demanded that CSI stop providing tear gas that could be used on Palestinians by Israeli forces.



Friday, January 28, 2011

Battle of the Billboards Continues

By Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director

As we’ve reported previously on our blog, we’ve been working with our member groups across the country to place billboards opposing U.S. military aid to Israel. Check out a selection of the ads on our new and improved aidtoisrael website. A recent billboard campaign in the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system—sponsored by US Campaign member groups Northern California Friends of Sabeel, American Muslims for Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace—occasioned a racist counter-ad campaign by Stand With Us. When we advertised in the Washington Metro Area Transit Agency (WMATA), Stand With Us did a similar racist counter-ad campaign. We were really heartened to learn today that BART will no longer tolerate the racist ads sponsored by Stand With Us. Yesterday, the San Francisco Bay Guardian reported that BART has removed the Stand With Us ads!

Let’s celebrate this victory against racism by seeing more pro-active billboard campaigns across the country. It’s working!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

During Obama's address, US Campaign's Phyllis Bennis weighs in on administration's misappropriation of $30bn for more Israeli war crimes instead of 600,000 new green jobs

During President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night, our steering committee member Phyllis Bennis was invited onto a PBS panel of commentators, whose full transcript is viewable here. Here's a summary of what Bennis made of Obama's foreign policy comments during the speech. 

SOTU: Really, Mr. President? 
[excerpt]

President Barack Obama
We have also taken the fight to al-Qaeda and their allies abroad. In Afghanistan, our troops have taken Taliban strongholds and trained Afghan Security Forces. Our purpose is clear – by preventing the Taliban from reestablishing a stranglehold over the Afghan people, we will deny al-Qaeda the safe-haven that served as a launching pad for 9/11.

Phyllis Bennis
Is President Obama going to say anything about the latest failure in U.S.-brokered peace talks in the Middle East? Or is he just hoping we’re not paying attention, and that we’re fine with paying $30 billion over these ten years directly to the Israeli military, money that could be used for 600,000 new green jobs here at home?

FULL COMMENTS AT IPS-DC.ORG...

Less Lethal? Ask the Abu Rahmah Family

By Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation 
Posted: January 25 

Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank village of Bil'in had no cause to ring in the New Year as tragedy struck the Abu Rahmah family for the fourth time in three years.

After inhaling tear gas fired by the Israeli military at a December 31 demonstration, 36-year-old villager Jawaher Abu Rahmah died the next day from cardiac arrest. Rather than admit wrongdoing, the Israeli military briefed behind closed doors friendly bloggers who then shamefully blamed her death on cancer, or failing that, on an "honor killing."

Previously, Jawaher's 29-year-old brother Bassem was killed by the Israeli military in April 2009 when he was hit in the chest with a high-velocity tear gas canister.

The tear gas that killed both siblings was manufactured by Jamestown, PA company, Combined Systems, Inc. (CSI), which ironically markets its products under the website: www.less-lethal.com. Cold comfort for the grieving Abu Rahmah family.

ARTICLE CONTINUES...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Leaks show Palestinian Authority is selling out its people

Nadia Hijab is a member of our Advisory Board, and co-director of Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network, and wrote the following CNN exclusive op-ed.

January 26, 2011

In time-honored style, the Palestinian Authority took aim at the Qatar-based news network Al-Jazeera for its release of over 1,600 documents detailing Palestinian-Israeli negotiations from 1999 to 2010.

There is little love lost between the Fatah-dominated authority and Al-Jazeera. They have previously clashed bitterly over news coverage, and Qatar is known to have a soft spot for Hamas.

By seeking to focus attention on Al-Jazeera and its host country, the Palestinian Authority is following the lead of its main donor and security guarantor, the United States, in its response to WikiLeaks, arguing that the problem lies not in the news but its purveyor. Of course, the reverse is true. The leaks bring to light the horrors governments commit in their people's names.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Obama Is Looking for New Ideas in All the Old Places

By Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director Politico’s Laura Rozen reported earlier this month that the White House has convened two different task forces to provide the Obama Administration with new ideas for moving forward its efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace. At first glance, this would appear to be good news given the rut in which President Obama has got himself mired. An anonymous adviser to the White House stated the obvious: the Administration is “utterly stuck” on how to move forward with there being “no pretense of progress.” It’s no wonder they’re stuck. We’ve been arguing for nearly two years now that the Obama Administration has had no coherent strategy either to truly freeze Israeli settlement building or manage direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on a basis that could have even a remote chance of success. Recent leaks from the Palestine Papers and Cable Gate cast doubt over whether these even have been actual policy goals. New ideas are desperately needed, but the President won’t find any by looking in all the old places. Rozen notes that the efforts are being headed up by Sandy Berger, Stephen Hadley, Martin Indyk, and Dennis Ross. In other words, many of the primary architects of failed U.S. “peace process” efforts under Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama himself. Can’t you just see it now—the four of them sitting around a circle, engaging in intense, Viet Cong-style self-criticism sessions, realizing the errors of their ways, and coming up with some brilliant new ideas? Doubtful. If the President were truly serious about getting some new ideas for advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace, then he would look outside the small coterie of failed policy-makers who time and again have fit to a tee Aaron David Miller’s candid observation that: “many American officials involved in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, myself included, have acted as Israel's attorney, catering and coordinating with the Israelis at the expense of successful peace negotiations. If the United States wants to be an honest and effective broker on the Arab-Israeli issue, than surely it can have only one client: the pursuit of a solution that meets the needs and requirements of both sides.” Yet, Dennis Ross, now eclipsing George Mitchell as the main policy-maker on President Obama's approach to the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process," is the last person in the world to look to for new ideas, especially ones that are not biased in Israel's favor. Consider this stunning admission from his massive 2004 tome, "The Missing Peace," (p. 55) on how he managed the "peace process": "'Selling' became part of our modus operandi--beginning a pattern that would characterize our approach throughout the Bush and Clinton years. We would take Israeli ideas or ideas that the Israelis could live with and work them over--trying to increase their attractiveness to the Arabs while trying to get the Arabs to scale back their expectations. Why did this pattern emerge? The realities dictated it." Ah, yes. Those amorphous "realities" caused him to deliberately construct a policy designed to produce maximum results for Israel and minimum results for the undifferentiated "Arabs." It would be difficult to fabricate a statement more revelatory of his bias than this. To counter this atrocious bias in past policy-making, ever since Barack Obama was elected president in November 2008, we have tried repeatedly to meet with his foreign policy team to provide them with exactly the kinds of policy ideas needed to establish Israeli-Palestinian peace on the basis of human rights, international law, and equality. We tried the transition team, the White House, the National Security Council, the State Department. Nothing—no meetings agreed to, no phone calls returned. I guess we could still try to schedule a meeting with Bo. Since President Obama is looking for new ideas, we take this opportunity to reiterate publicly our offer to meet with any Administration official, at any level, at any time to share our ideas. Our phone number is 202-332-0994. Give us a call when you’re ready to hear something new. Here’s one policy idea that the President has not contemplated: compel Israel to behave in accordance with human rights and international law by ending U.S. military aid until it does so. Tomorrow, we launch our campaign to challenge military aid to Israel in the FY2012 budget cycle. Next month, President Obama is expected to request a record-breaking appropriation of $3.075 billion of military aid for Israel. That’s $21.59 for the average individual taxpayer. We’ll be launching an open letter—“We Cannot Afford Military Aid to Israel”—to the President and Congress initiated by us, ADC, Code Pink, Global Exchange, JVP, Peace Action, and PDA. You can get a sneak peek at the letter here. This month we marked the 50th anniversary of President Eisenhower’s prophetic “military-industrial complex” farewell address. Earlier in his presidency, Ike sanctioned Israel after it invaded Egypt with British and French collusion and won the admiration of the entire developing world for his principled stand. He cut off all forms of U.S. aid until Israel complied with a U.S.-sponsored UN Security Council Resolution to return to its border with Egypt. As President Obama collects ideas, here’s a simple one: be like Ike. Learn more about our campaign to challenge U.S. military aid to Israel, and how you can get involved.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Censorship Prevents ‘Deranged Individuals’ from Seeing Ads on Israeli War Crimes

by Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director

Bravo to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington State for suing King County after it censored bus ads, sponsored by US Campaign member group Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, spotlighting how U.S. military aid to Israel enables its war crimes against Palestinians. We’ve been working with member groups of our coalition throughout the country to initiate advertising campaigns to educate people about our complicity in Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians through U.S. military and diplomatic support. Check out some previous ad campaigns, download how-to guides for running these kind of ads, and find out how much your community provides in military aid to Israel at our interactive website: aidtoisrael.org Unfortunately, we’re no strangers to acts of censorship ourselves. CBS, which has a monopoly on advertising in the DC Metro system, tried to prevent us from advertising our 2007 protest marking 40 years of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, until the ACLU went to bat for us as well. And, in the aftermath of Israel’s murderous “Operation Cast Lead,” DIRECTV reneged on a deal with us and refused to air this commercial that we produced: Why so much censorship when trying to present the facts about our complicity in Israeli occupation and apartheid? In the case of the “bus ad battle in Seattle,” the Seattle Times cites Metropolitan King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer, who played a pivotal role to ensure the censorship, provides this novel explanation: censorship was necessary to serve passengers “without inadvertently making them become the targets of deranged individuals incited by messages.” Wow. Is von Reichbauer saying that supporters of Israeli occupation and apartheid would be so upset by these ads as to become “deranged” and pose a danger to bus riders? Who else would be so “incited” by these ads?

With our collective sensitivity toward political violence heightened by the Tucson shooting, such a scenario cannot be discounted. But do Israel’s supporters seriously want to have to rely on public officials worrying about their “derangement” every time their beloved country is publicly criticized? It seems that public discourse towards Palestine/Israel is nearing a tipping point if elected officials are now expressing concerns about violent reactions from Israel’s supporters. In many respects, von Reichbauer is correct to worry about the potential public safety impact of these ads from “deranged individuals.” We’ve seen acts of violence—physical and verbal—up close and personal in previous ads campaigns that we’ve run. In 2008, we crashed Israel’s 60th birthday party on the National Mall and the AIPAC annual policy conference with a moving billboard mounted on a truck marking 60 years of the Nakba. Here’s the video:

While sitting in the passenger seat of the truck, I witnessed a knife-wielding individual attack it in an attempt to tear down the ad. Our African-American driver was repeatedly subjected to the most vile, racist slurs imaginable. He told us that after driving hundreds of moving billboards campaigns, he had never seen such a heated reaction. Yet potential violent reactions to free speech are not grounds for censorship. ACLU Washington Executive Director Kathleen Taylor got it exactly right. “The purpose of the First Amendment,” Taylor stated, “is to protect speech that is difficult to hear and that makes people uncomfortable. Mild speech doesn't need our protection.” We’ll continue doing our work to educate our fellow citizens about Israel’s war crimes and our complicity in them. We always do so factually and rationally. If Israel’s apologists need to rely on their potential “derangement” to suppress this conversation, then it seems that we are on the right track.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

If Israel Doesn’t Want Our Military Aid, Then Why Should We Provide It?

by Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director What do a free market Israeli think tank and Israel’s leading business newspaper have in common? Yes, both promote Israeli business interests, obviously. But, more interestingly, each has called for ending U.S. military aid to Israel in recent days. On January 12, Israeli economist Yarden Gazit published a paper for the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies (JIMS), arguing that U.S. military aid to the Middle East is fueling an unsustainable arms race. Gazit estimates, for example, that for every dollar in U.S. aid provided to Egypt, Israel must spend between $1.6-2.1 to maintain its qualitative military edge. Since approximately 75% of U.S. military aid to Israel must be spent on U.S. weapons (this is a special exemption for Israel written into U.S. law—all other countries receiving U.S. aid are required to spend 100% of their grant on U.S. weapons), Gazit figures that Israeli military industries lose up to $750 million per year on weapons orders that could be filled domestically. JIMS’s conclusion: "US aid is a net loss for Israel and Israel would be better off without it." On January 19, Israeli journalist Ran Dagoni wrote in Globes that: “The time has come to bid goodbye to the military aid that the US extends to Israel, that generous package (currently worth $3 billion) that enables the Israeli taxpayer to share the cost of procuring equipment for the IDF with the US taxpayer. Israel should itself initiate the process of detachment from the Washington breast. It should be done gradually, on terms that will enable Israel to wean itself off this intoxicating milk, before the Americans take action, on their terms. Israel won't collapse.” Dagoni analyzes Israel’s rising economic prospects and the United States’ declining fiscal realities, combined with the ascendance of the Tea Party and its small government philosophy, to conclude that Israel can and should negotiate an agreement with the United States to purchase weapons on the open market in the future. Unfortunately neither the think tank nor the newspaper considers the human costs to Palestinians of U.S. military aid to Israel. But then again, that’s our job. Since September 2000, Israel has killed more than 3,000 unarmed Palestinian civilians according to the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem, often with U.S. weapons in flagrant 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 military occupation of Palestinian land and its apartheid policies toward Palestinians are neither. As President Obama prepares his State of the Union address and puts the final touches on his FY2012 budget request to Congress, which is expected to include a record-breaking $3,075,000,000 in military aid to Israel, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is gearing up to challenge this year’s appropriation. According to our data at our interactive website www.aidtoisrael.org, this year’s military aid package to Israel could be much more wisely spent to provide 373,376 low-income families with affordable housing vouchers; or retrain 495,640 unemployed workers for green jobs; or educate 909,204 at-risk youth through early reading programs; or supply basic health care services to 24,902,818 people lacking insurance. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be re-launching an upgraded version of this website, sending updated and expanded packets to volunteers who want to organize in their communities to end military aid to Israel, and originating an open letter and ad campaign to challenge the President’s request for yet more money for Israel. Stay tuned! Who knows, this year with Israeli business interests in support of our campaign (although from very different perspectives), we may actually succeed in our drive to condition or end U.S. military aid to Israel.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Former US Campaign National Organizer Noura Erakat writes on ForeignPolicy.com...

Today's excellent post on ForeignPolicy.com is by Noura Erakat, former National Organizer here at the US Campaign, and now an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University and a human rights attorney.
Posted By Noura Erakat
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
This year may bring a close to American mediation of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. Expectations, usually low, have collapsed in the face of an unwilling, and increasingly self-impeding, U.S. peace broker. Indeed, freezing settlement expansion, as opposed to removing them altogether as mandated by international law, was long regarded as the lowest hanging fruit in peace negotiations. President Obama himself emphasized that the Jewish colonies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories hindered peace efforts and securing Palestinian statehood.
Yet, on the heels of a rekindled peace process, the Obama administration failed to successfully push Prime Minister Netanyahu to extend a ten-month partial moratorium on settlement expansion. More tellingly, the U.S.'s failure was marked by Israel's public rebuff of its military aid incentive. Suffering no consequences, Israel chose to continue its expansionist policies and to retain its existing U.S. aid package, thereby demonstrating the hollow nature of American pressure.
The crumbling negotiations and unwillingness of the United States to exact legally required Israeli obligations has finally compelled Palestinian negotiators to look beyond a U.S.-brokered peace and to a multilateral one overseen by the United Nations.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Deadly Experiment – Israel's Murderous Testing Ground for 'Non-Lethal' Weapons

This article provides additional background information about CSI's tear gas canisters (used to kill Jawaher Abu Rahmah on January 1), but also includes photographic evidence of another tear gas provider to Israel: Defense Technology Corp., a US company that is owned by BAE Systems in the UK. Telling the story of Israel's violent repression of nonviolent Palestinian demonstrators, and telling it to U.S. policy-makers, continues to be high on the agenda of the US Campaign.
The Deadly Experiment – Israel's Murderous Testing Ground for 'Non-Lethal' Weapons
From Corporate Watch
January 3, 2011
On New Year's Eve 2010, whilst much of the world was celebrating, over a thousand people demonstrated in the Palestinian village of Bil'in against Israel's encroachment on the village's land, Israeli tear gas and rubber bullets rained down on the protesters and Jawaher Abu Rahma, who had joined the march to the apartheid wall and retreated to the sidelines after the first Israeli volleys of gas, choked to death as gas enveloped the village.
A report from Bil'in residents said that "Israeli soldiers fired tear-gas from the moment protestors entered their sight. It is obvious that for the army, the mere presence of unarmed demonstrators is reason enough to use chemical weapons against them."[2].

Monday, January 17, 2011

King's words live in Palestinian city

Photo: Flickr / eremi
By Dorothy M. Zellner
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Friday, January 14, 2011
As a veteran of the 1960s civil rights movement, I hope this year's Martin Luther King Day will be more than the usual constant repetition of his "I have a dream" speech. This has flattened the very essence of the movement, which was the vastness and the vibrancy of hundreds of thousands of "ordinary" people who wouldn't and couldn't stand for any more indignities and any more insults.
I know because I was in Georgia, Virginia and Mississippi as a staffer of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; I spent two years in Atlanta.
This great movement of African-American civilians and their white allies lacked an army or air force, yet we imprinted our freedom demands on the national consciousness for the following decades and presumably, for decades to come.
There are other movements of civil society in every continent of the world. The one I have seen with my own eyes is the movement of Palestinians resisting Israel's occupation.
It may surprise people to know that Palestinians read Dr. King's words and call his name and study the American civil rights movement, among other histories of other peoples, for ways to bring to the attention of the world the fact that little by little, their land is disappearing along with their rights. The center of this effort now is in small West Bank villages like Ni'lin and Bil'in, where non-violent demonstrations have taken place weekly — for years. Yet these non-violent demonstrations of civilians are met with Israeli armed might.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A pro-boycott cartoon from Carlos Latuff


King laid the groundwork. Let us keep building!

The birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is one we truly enjoy commemorating. To reflect on King's life and work is to find hope in the future, and reverence for grueling campaigns past.
As we approach Dr. King's birthday, at a moment when Palestinians and many Israelis are mourning the Israeli military's killing of Jawaher Abu Rahmah with U.S.-made tear gas during a nonviolent West Bank protest conducted in the spirit of MLK...
...and also commemorating the 1,400 dead after the Israeli military's attrocities in Gaza two years ago...
...and while our own country is mourning the dead and injured in Tucson...
We remember the lessons of Dr. King.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Protesters Tell New York Business to Stop Providing Israel's Lethal Tear Gas

Adalah-NY is a member organization of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.
Tuesday, 11 January 2011 20:57
For Immediate Release
New York, NY, January 11 – Thirty-five protesters gathered during the lunch hour today outside the midtown Manhattan offices of Point Lookout Capital Partners, a New York firm that facilitates investment in Combined Systems Inc. (CSI). CSI, based in Pennsylvania, sells tear gas to the Israeli army that the Israeli army has then used to kill and seriously injure a number of unarmed protesters in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including on January 1, 36-year-old Jawaher Abu Rahmah from the village of Bil'in.
Dave Lippman from Adalah-NY explained, "The Israeli military is using tear gas manufactured by CSI and financed through Point Lookout Capital as a weapon to crush the growing unarmed protest movement against Israel's illegal confiscation of Palestinian land for Israeli settlements. We as US taxpayers are paying for some of the tear gas that Israel is shooting at Palestinian, Israeli and American protesters. The US government needs to stop providing this deadly aid, and CSI and Point Lookout need to end their complicity in Israel's violent repression of legitimate protest."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Israeli court re-sentences prisoner of conscience Abdallah Abu Rahmah

Editor's Note: The US Campaign, together with several of its member groups, has recently met with officials in the U.S. State Department, urging the administration to push Israel to release Abu Rahmah and stop jailing nonviolent protesters of Israel's illegal annexation wall.
West Bank protester has jail term extended
Leader of village demonstrations against barrier has sentence extended by three months after appeal by Israeli military prosecutors
Harriet Sherwood
Tuesday 11 January
West Bank protester Abdallah Abu Rahmah is facing a further three months in prison after the Israeli military court of appeal today extended his sentence.
Abu Rahmah, a leader of protests against Israel's separation barrier in the village of Bil'in, was convicted in August of incitement and organising illegal demonstrations. This was criticised by Cathy Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, who described him as a "human rights defender committed to non-violent protest against the route of the Israeli separation barrier".
Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa also condemned the conviction.
Abu Rahmah was due to be released in November, but military prosecutors argued for him to be detained until their appeal for a longer sentence could be heard. They wanted him to serve two years "as a deterrence not only to [Abu Rahmah] himself, but also to others who may follow in his footsteps".
Today the judge extended the sentence to 16 months, of which Abu Rahmah has served 13.

U.S. Needs to Match Words to Action on Palestinian Rights

Our National Advocacy Director has published the following excellent analysis on IViews.com:
by Josh Ruebner
1/11/11
Last month, the State Department held a town hall for Human Rights Day, which commemorates the anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. At the event, Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs P.J. Crowley, Legal Adviser Harold Koh, and Assistant Secretary of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner took questions from the audience and shared their thoughts on the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy.
Given that the United States provides Israel with nearly unconditional diplomatic support and military aid to sustain its illegal 43-year military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip and to commit systematic human rights abuses while doing so, I asked the panelists if the State Department holds Israel to a lower standard of account on human rights than other countries, and if Palestinians were entitled to equal human rights.
Posner responded unambiguously that there is a "single universal standard that applies to every country, including our own. We apply it to Israelis." He also affirmed that the State Department views "Palestinians as being human beings under the Universal Declaration [of Human Rights] and entitled to these rights."

Youtube + Warner Music Group + Motorola = internet censorship

Our National Organizer published this article on Mondoweiss about her group's "flash mob" video being deleted in a conspiracy between YouTube and Warner Music Group...
by Anna Baltzer
January 8, 2011
In a shocking move of selective and possibly unlawful censorship, Motorola’s partner Warner Music Group (WMG) compelled YouTube to remove the St Louis Boycott Motorola Flash Mob video seven days after it was posted last month. (The original video was reposted here.)
The video featured more than forty members and friends of the St Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee (STL-PSC) serenading holiday shoppers in Brentwood, MO with a parody of Lady Gaga and Beyoncé’s “Telephone.” The singers and dancers urged patrons to join the boycott of Motorola products because of the company’s involvement in Israel’s illegal occupation and war crimes. The video went viral, garnering coverage around the world. It acquired more than 35,000 hits in less than a week.
Shortly after the count hit 35,000, YouTube shut down the video, citing a copyright infringement claim by WMG. However, parodies of songs are protected under a U.S. Supreme Court decision in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose, and STL-PSC’s video clearly constituted “fair use.” There are more than 1,000 Lady Gaga flash mob videos on YouTube and hundreds more parodying Beyoncé songs. Many of them are using the same song, and none of them have been shut down by WMG. What doesn’t WMG want the world to know about Motorola, and why not?

U.S. firm wins contract to provide security in occupied West Bank

Onetime Blackwater affiliate scores U.S. contract
By Jeff Stein
Posted at 12:21 PM ET, 01/ 7/2011
A company closely associated with the security firm once known as Blackwater has won a new State Department contract worth more than $84 million over five years.
The contract was won by International Developments Solutions, a joint venture that includes U.S. Training Center, a company until recently owned by Xe Services, which changed its name from Blackwater following a cascade of legal problems over several years.
The consortium will provide protective security in the Israel-occupied West Bank, “services that are based from the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

Friday, January 7, 2011

YouTube retracts rejection of Palestine Christmas video

Date: January 7, 2011 8:58:47 AM EST
Subject: Re: Christmas-Palestine Video Attacked
Dear Activists and Bloggers,
We would like to inform you that Youtube has indeed lifted the restrictions from the Palestine Christmas Video. We are not sure what prompted the site administration to revisit its decision, but we are certain that the support we received from activists and surfers ‘facilitated’ it.
The commotion that we were all able to create, though not too loud, was enough to actually make a very small difference and win a very minor battle. But this is how the big and long struggles are won: one minor victory after another.
We believe that the tide is turning. We call upon all of you to preserve and increase the number of small battles won, no matter how insignificant they may seem. At the end of the day, it is those victories that set the pace, direction and define the outcome of this long struggle for justice.
We would like to thank everyone who supported us, by posting the video and/or the call for support, by writing something on the subject, by forwarding the message we sent out....
In solidarity,

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Boston says: Break the Siege of Gaza!

In this video, Bostonians creatively demonstrate against the siege of Gaza by acting it out as part of Boston's First Night celebrations, also on the two-year anniversary of Operation "Cast Lead." Note particularly the dialogue at time index 2:38, where passersby are asked for their views on US military aid to Israel.
Editor's Note: Please sign our GAZA PETITION if you haven't!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Motorola Israel splits from Motorola. Boycott implications unknown.

Below is a bit of predictable news about one of our main boycott targets -- Motorola (for more information, see our campaign site HangUpOnMotorola.org) whose Israel component is no longer a wholly owned subsidiary. Implications for the boycott movement are unclear at this point, but we'll keep pushing forward with no less pressure, to stop Moto from equipping the Israeli occupation in ways like these:
  1. Every Israeli border guard manning a checkpoint and every soldier committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip takes their orders through a Motorola device because Motorola has the exclusive contract to provide the Israeli military with encrypted mobile phone technology.
  2. Motorola "virtual fences" and surveillance systems are used at dozens of illegal Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land.
  3. Motorola also has close ties with Aeronautics Defense Systems (ADS), which makes drone aircraft used by Israel. Motorola sold their bomb fuse division to ADS, just after Human Rights Watch found debris from Motorola bomb components scattered through rubble in the Gaza Strip.
Spin-off is great news for Motorola Israel
Motorola Solutions Israel CEO Shimon Dick: The spin-off of Motorola Mobility restores our focus.
4 January 11 15:04, Gad Perez
"The spin-off is great news for Motorola Israel," Motorola Solutions Israel CEO Shimon Dick told "Globes", "because Motorola Solutions is expected to increase its investment in the technologies in which Israel has accumulated decades of world-class experience and expertise. This spin-off is therefore a lever for the growth of activity in Israel."
Work at Motorola Inc. began today as two separate companies: Motorola Solutions Inc. (NYSE: MOT) and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. (NYSE: MMI), which will continue to develop, manufacture, and market mobile devices. The spin-off of the mobile division came after over two years of preparations aimed at refocusing the two companies on their core businesses.

Join Huwaida Arraf & Adam Horowitz on an Interfaith Peace-Builders Delegation in May 2011!

May 21 - June 3, 2011
Leaders: Huwaida Arraf and Adam Horowitz
This delegation will explore Palestinian and Israeli efforts to achieve peace and a resolution to their conflict based on justice. The delegation will feature meetings with Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers – leaders of civil society groups, grassroots organizers, religious leaders and more. IFPB’s May-June delegation also traditionally focuses on the annual commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe) and the founding of the State of Israel.
To express interest, email office@ifpb.org and get more information!
About the Leaders:
Huwaida Arraf is a Palestinian with American and Israeli citizenship. She received her Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Michigan, and her Juris Doctor from the American University Washington College of Law, where she focused her studies on international human rights and humanitarian law. In 2001 Huwaida co- founded the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Huwaida is co- author of the book “Peace Under Fire: Israel, Palestine, and the International Solidarity Movement.” She previously taught in a human rights law clinic at Al- Quds University in Jerusalem, the first legal clinic in the Arab World, and is currently the Chairperson of the Free Gaza Movement. Since August 2008, she has led 5 successful sea voyages to the Gaza Strip.
Adam Horowitz is a writer and co-editor of the website Mondoweiss, a news website devoted to covering American foreign policy in the Middle East, chiefly from a progressive Jewish perspective. Prior to Mondoweiss, Horowitz was Director of the Israel/Palestine Program for the American Friends Service Committee. He is the co-editor (along with Philip Weiss and Lizzy Ratner) of The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict (Nation Books) and his work has appeared in The Nation, Alternet, The Huffington Post, and The Hill.com. Horowitz has a master's degree in Near Eastern Studies from New York University.

Asian aid convoy arrives in Gaza

3 January, 2011
Some 100 pro-Palestinian activists, part of an Asian aid convoy, have crossed into the Gaza Strip from Egypt.
The convoy's $1m (760,000 euros) worth of cargo was due to arrive separately by boat later, organisers said.
Egypt refused visas to some Iranians and Jordanians travelling with the convoy, which left India on 2 December.
Activists had planned to reach the Hamas-run Gaza Strip by 27 December, the second anniversary of Israel's 22-day Cast Lead offensive on Gaza.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Eyewitnesses Describe Death of Palestinian Woman in Israeli Tear Gas Attack

A Palestinian woman died Friday after Israeli forces shot her with tear gas during a peaceful protest against the West Bank separation wall in the village of Bil’in. Israeli and Palestinian eyewitnesses, as well as staff at a hospital in Ramallah, say that Jawaher Abu Rahma died after inhaling massive amounts of tear gas fired by the Israeli military at the demonstration. She was 36 years old. We speak with an Israeli activist and an Israeli doctor who were at the protest.

Monday, January 3, 2011

'Israel right or wrong' crowd advocates censorship in Seattle

By rallying pressure to prevent the placement or ads critical to Israel's treatment of Palestinians, writes guest writer Ed Mast, the "Israel right or wrong" supporters advocated censorship in Seattle.
By Edward Mast
Guest columnist
I WAS part of a group that raised money for a series of Metro Transit bus ads that read, "ISRAELI WAR CRIMES: Your Tax Dollars At Work." We abided by King County guidelines and our ads were approved by King County Metro Transit.
With a signed contract, ads were printed and ready for Dec. 27, which marked two years to the day Israel dropped a bomb on a schoolyard in Gaza just as children were leaving class. Many were killed. For the next three weeks, Israel killed 1,400 people in Gaza, mostly noncombatants. More than 300 of the killed were children. Investigations by the United Nations and Amnesty International concluded that Israel committed war crimes.
We didn't announce the ad campaign, but news leaked out and some local groups that defend Israel from all criticism took action to convince King County that any discussion of Israeli war crimes is inappropriate for public speech.

Labor Must Stand for Palestine

Sunday, 02 January, 2011
U.S. trade unionists are circulating an open letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka challenging his attack on the movement for boycott, sanctions and divestment (BDS) against Israel and explaining why the BDS movement is necessary, especially in the wake of Israel's brutal assault on Gaza a year ago.
"Sanctions alone cannot eradicate apartheid; that task is ultimately left to the people of South Africa themselves. But economic pressure and political isolation of the South African government can hasten the day when justice and freedom reign in that troubled land."
--Richard L. Trumka, June 23, 1987
"We call on other workers and unions to...do all that is necessary to ensure that they boycott all goods to and from Israel until Palestine is free."
--Congress of South African Trade Unions, February 3, 2009
"We urge all international trade unions to heed the call of Palestinian civil society, including the trade union movement, by endorsing BDS. We further urge all trade unions and trade union federations to sever their links with the Histadrut, a Zionist organization that has always played a key role in perpetuating Israel's occupation, colonization and system of racial discrimination, and that has justified and applauded Israel's war crimes in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009."
--Palestinian Trade Union Movement Unanimously Confirms Support for BDS, November 25, 2009

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Standing together against US government witch hunt

Editorial, The Electronic Intifada, 22 December 2010
As The Electronic Intifada reported in November, international solidarity and anti-war activists are facing a new wave of repression in the United States.
Since 24 September, two dozen activists in Minneapolis, Chicago and other cities across the country have been handed subpoenas by the FBI to appear before a grand jury.
Yesterday, Maureen Clare Murphy, an organizer with the Palestine Solidarity Group in Chicago, and managing editor of The Electronic Intifada, became one of the latest to be subpoenaed by the federal government.