Thursday, April 28, 2011

Seattle billboards on Israel canceled after controversy

The Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign is a member of our coalition. We previously blogged about the campaign here and here and here.


Article by Vanessa Ho, SeattlePI.com, April 28, 2011

Months after trying to place controversial ads about Israel on Metro buses, the Seattle group behind the ads said its latest effort to put a similar message on billboards has also been rejected.

The group, the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SeaMAC), said billboard company Clear Channel Outdoor had placed three of the group's signs last week and this week.

The signs say, "Equal rights for Palestinians - Stop funding the Israeli military."

But on Wednesday, Clear Channel announced it was canceling the contract, saying it re-evaluated its decision after people complained, according to SeaMAC.

"We don't under what is objectionable about equal rights..." SeaMAC volunteer Ed Mast said Thursday, standing near billboard on Elliott Avenue West that once had his message. It now said, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."

"This leaves us censored now twice in Seattle."

Olivia Lippens, president of Clear Channel Outdoor Seattle, said the company is committed to ensuring that "all messages we post, and any websites they promote, adhere to community standards and are not offensive towards any business."

"Upon further review, it became evident that a campaign sponsored by Stop 30 Billion.org promoted a website that is not in keeping with those standards," Lippens said in a statement.

"As a result of that review, we removed this advertising from our displays."

The website Lippens refers to is for an umbrella group called the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel. The $30 billion refers to the amount the United States has committed to giving Israel in military aid over the next decade, says the group.

(The actual website on the billboards is for SeaMAC, whose site is stop30billion-seattle.org).

Mast said the billboards were placed on Aurora Avenue, Elliott Avenue West and Lake City Way. Lippens said Clear Channel was working to remove them in the next few days.

Last year, King County had authorized SeaMAC to put ads on Metro buses that said, "Israeli war crimes: Your tax dollars at work."

But news of the ads prompted a torrent of complaints and threats of violence, and county officials worried about civil disobedience and terrorist acts.

Executive Dow Constantine reversed the decision in December, before the ads ever went up. SeaMAC and the ACLU then sued the county, saying the decision violated the Constitution.

The controversy also prompted King County Metro to announce new transit advertising policy earlier this month, saying it will take ads for non-profits, but that certain political and public issue ads will be banned.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE...

Israel is an Apartheid State: A Note to the Vanguard Leadership Group

Posted on April 27, 2011 by US Palestinian Community Network

On April 7th, 2011, an African American student group known as the “Vanguard Leadership Group” (VLG) sparked a flurry of activity and discussion with its circulation of a statement criticizing the use of the term “apartheid” by Palestine solidarity activists. In particular, in an article published in the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA), they alleged that “Students for Justice in Palestine has chosen to manipulate rather than inform with this illegitimate analogy.”

We, the signatories of this statement, do not believe that “apartheid” is an inaccurate term to describe the conditions in Palestine. Apartheid is defined by the United Nations as, “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” The strategy of arguing over the term “apartheid” is intended to deflect the actual conditions that Palestinians face as a result of the institutionalized racism of the State of Israel.

Apartheid is not a term exclusive to South Africa. In fact, the United Nations itself, in a 1973 resolution, explicitly states that its usage is not confined to the South African case [1]. In addition, well-known individuals like former President Jimmy Carter in his book Palestine: Peace, not Apartheid, have given depth to the apartheid ‘analogy’ by demonstrating the concrete realities of racial separation as it has unfolded in the Occupied Territories.

Others, such as South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have long been outspoken in comparing the conditions that existed in apartheid South Africa with those faced by Palestinians today. In his own words: “What I saw in the Holy Land reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about.”

Do the students of VLG presume to know better than Tutu what apartheid is?

ARTICLE CONTINUES HERE...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Our new online resource, WeaponsToIsrael.org, discussed in KPFK interview

Hear our National Advocacy Director interviewed for five minutes last Tuesday about Israeli military misuse of U.S.-provided weapons, plus the resulting financial strain on U.S. communities, plus our Tax Day 2011 launch of our awesome new online resource, weaponstoisrael.org, on KPFK Radio's Sojourner Truth program.



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring gives rebirth to Seattle ad campaign against Israel military aid

The Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign is a member of our coalition. We previously blogged about the campaign here and here.


Proposed 'Israeli war crimes' Metro bus ads move to billboards

By Janet I. Tu, Seattle Times staff reporter

The group whose plan to place bus ads alleging "Israeli war crimes" unleashed a furor last winter is now turning to billboards.

The Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign has purchased space on four billboards for ads that say: "Equal rights for Palestinians — Stop funding the Israeli military."

The first two billboards went up this week on Elliott Avenue West north of West Lee Street, and on Lake City Way Northeast south of Northeast 104th Street.

The other two billboards go up next week on Aurora Avenue North — one near Republican Street and the other near North 104th Street.

Each will stay up four weeks.

Last winter, the group purchased bus ads to run on the sides of Metro buses. The King County-owned Metro Transit first accepted the ads and then canceled them after county leaders said they were advised by law-enforcement authorities that the ads could prompt attacks on buses or passengers.

The bus ads never ran.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, saying that King County violated the group's First Amendment rights. That lawsuit, in U.S. District Court, is currently in the discovery phase.

STORY CONTINUES...

SEE OUR APRIL 28th FOLLOW-UP ON THIS STORY...

State Again Reschedules Testimony of Col. Pinky Zuaretz

The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice is a member of our coalition. The Corries are presently in Israel for the latest phase of their court case for Israeli military accountability for the death of Rachel in 2003.

Court Canceled April 27 - Witness Now Slated to Testify on Original May 22 Date

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


(Haifa, Israel) - In another round of last minute maneuvering, attorneys for the State in Corrie vs. State of Israel requested that testimony from their highest-ranking witness be postponed. Former Brigade Commander Colonel Pinhas (Pinky) Zuaretz, who was scheduled to testify on April 27, will not testify until May 22.
The witness was originally scheduled to testify on May 22, but on April 17, just before the court recessed for Israel's Passover holiday, the State filed an emergency request to move Zuaretz's testimony forward by nearly a month. Haifa District Court Judge Oded Gershon granted the government motion, without hearing from the Corrie family's lawyers, citing availability of the witness as the main factor in his ruling.
Only after the court granted this request did the State provide Corrie family lawyers with Zuaretz's five-page witness affidavit, though the document was signed nearly three weeks earlier.
Attorney Hussein Abu Hussein, who represents the Corrie family, opposed the State's April 17 request and filed motion for reconsideration, citing due process violations. He indicated there was inadequate time to prepare for the witness given the expanded scope of the newly acquired affidavit and the delay in receiving it. The court denied his motion and granted the State's request for the hearing to occur Wednesday, April 27.
However, the day before he was to appear, the State again requested a change from the court, citing the witness' lack of availability due to a new scheduling conflict; an appointment with hired home movers. Judge Gershon rescheduled Zuaretz's appearance for the original May 22 date. Such last-minute maneuvering is not unusual in the case.
In 2003, Colonel Zuaretz was the commanding officer of the Gaza Division's Southern Brigade. Troops under his command were responsible for military actions on March 16, 2003, that resulted in the killing of American peace activist Rachel Corrie in Rafah. Zuaretz is the highest ranking officer called as a government witness and is, possibly, the highest ranking Israeli military officer to face cross examination in a civil suit regarding Israeli military actions against civilians in Gaza during the second intifada. His testimony is expected to shed light on the Israeli military's failures as an occupying power to protect civilian life and property in the region.
Please visit the Trial Update page of the Rachel Corrie Foundation website for updates, changes to the court schedule, and related information.

Campus BDS Heating Up This Spring!

By Anna Baltzer, National Organizer

This spring, the weather is not all that's heating up! April has brought a burst of U.S. campus boycott and divestment (BDS) initiatives following inspiring actions around the country on the BDS Day of Action, held on the annual Palestinian Land Day. Active campaigns in California, Arizona, Indiana and beyond are becoming a force to be reckoned with.

We are thrilled to welcome and support many of these campus groups as new members of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation!

Here are some of the exciting ongoing initiatives:

 At the University of California at San Diego, the UCSD Associated Students are voting tomorrow night on a resolution to divest fromNorthrop-Grumman and General Electric because they profit from violent conflict, including in Israel/Palestine. Click here to read the resolution and send endorsements to rzuabi@gmail.com.


UA campus demonstration
Above: Students' wall on the UA campus. Click to enlarge.

 No Mas Muertes at theUniversity of Arizona (UA) recently issued this call for campus boycott and divestment from national targets Caterpillar andMotorola, due to their involvement in racist policies against Latina/o migrant communities and indigenous peoples in Arizona, Palestine and around the world.

 The statement coincided with the launch of a national "Mock Wall" Movement protesting U.S. support for Israeli occupation and discriminatory U.S. immigration policies, with students at six universities around the country constructing walls on their campuses to raise awareness about the destruction wrought by the walls in Palestine and on the U.S. border.

 At Earlham College in Indiana, students launched this BDS resolution to divest their campus from CaterpillarMotorola and Hewlett-Packard, which profit from Israeli occupation and violations of Palestinian rights. The students put together this terrific video


Northrop-Grumman, Caterpillar and Motorola are also three of the five companies targeted in a national campaign initiated by Jewish Voice for Peace (a member of the US Campaign) to compel financial giant TIAA-CREF to divest from Israeli occupation.

Campuses are fertile ground for this growing campaign. Check out the comprehensive new campaign 
web site and resources here!

Don’t forget to check our 
"BDS on Campus" resources here, including ahandbook by veteran activists to guide students through campus divestment campaigns.

Whether your group is on a campus or not, we invite you to 
join our coalition too, by clicking here. We are more excited than ever to support diverse groups working around the country for corporate accountability and an end to U.S. supportfor Israeli occupation and apartheid.

Calling Artists, Filmmakers to Create Short Promotional Videos

The U.S. Boat to Gaza is one of our 350+ coalition members.

The U.S. Boat to Gaza -- THE AUDACITY OF HOPE -- is calling on artists, animators and filmmakers to develop and submit a 1-5 minute video about THE AUDACITY OF HOPE for mass-distribution on YouTube and through our networks. Help us raise the profile of the U.S. Boat to Gaza in the coming months before we sail in June 2011 with the Freedom Flotilla II.

THE AUDACITY OF HOPE  is committed to carrying powerful voices from this country to the people of Gaza -- those voices who are supporting this grassroots, human-rights mission which is working to help end the illegal U.S.-supported Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. We need your creativity to increase our visibility throughout this country.

Video project guidelines:

1. The video should be no more than 5 minutes. (If you are inspired to make a longer film please go ahead, but it would have to be considered for another type of distribution and use.)

2. The piece should raise the profile of the U.S. Boat to Gaza -- THE AUDACITY OF HOPE  -- and promote the name in order to build public awareness of this effort.

3. The piece cannot promote any affiliation with political parties, institutions or associations in the U.S. or in Gaza and the Occupied Territories.

4. The piece cannot promote or support the use of violence or anything that would undermine our commitment to nonviolence.

Please send your videos to us at "videostogaza [at] gmail.com".

Monday, April 25, 2011

U.S. Weapons to Israel Are Disincentives to Peace

Several alternative news outlets today have published our National Advocacy Director's latest article on U.S. military aid to Israel, including these:


By Josh Ruebner

Israel may be forgiven for failing to realize the current fiscal woes of the United States. After all, U.S. military aid to Israel not only sailed unscathed through last week's passage of the 2011 budget, but reached the record level of $3 billion.

The United States additionally provided Israel $415 million for procurement, research and development of joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense projects, including $205 million to fund Israel's newly-deployed Iron Dome system.

This anti-missile battery already has altered significantly the strategic balance in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when Israel successfully shot down incoming rockets fired from the Gaza Strip earlier this month. With the assured diplomatic backing of the United States to prevent Israel from being held accountable by the international community for its illegal blockade, Iron Dome will embolden Israel to tighten its siege and escalate its attacks on the occupied Gaza Strip by providing its citizens with additional protection against retaliatory fire.

CONTINUE READING AT IMEU...
Or:
Antiwar.com
CounterPunch
Ma'an News Agency
Redress Information & Analysis

Friday, April 22, 2011

Take Action: House Resolution Provides Israel Impunity for Gaza Crimes


members of the UN fact finding mission
Above: Justice Richard Goldstone and three team members who have decried Goldstone's recent op-ed.

The UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict found that Israel committed violations of human rights and international law, war crimes and possible crimes against humanity before, during, and after "Operation Cast Lead," Israel's Dec. 2008 to Jan. 2009 onslaught against the Gaza Strip, which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians.

Even before the fact-finding mission was established, and ever since, the Obama Administration and Congress have worked hard to discredit the UN mission and prevent the international community from acting upon its findings.

Now, the House of Representatives is upping the ante by considering a resolution to withhold payment of U.S. dues to the UN until it retracts the final report of the fact-finding mission.

Please take action right now to prevent this from happening.

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Make no mistake about it: this is part of a deliberate, concerted strategy by the U.S. to throw around its diplomatic weight, shielding Israel from accountability for any outrage it inflicts on Palestinians, no matter how grave.

This campaign against the fact-finding mission reached its fever pitch after its chair, Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote an unfortunate op-ed in which he reconsidered just one of the 36 incidents documented in the 575-page report

The three other members of the mission -- Hina Jilani, Christine Chinkin and Desmond Travers -- set the record straight in their own op-ed decrying Goldstone's backtracking, and writing that:

"There is no justification for any demand or expectation for reconsideration of the report as nothing of substance has appeared that would in any way change the context, findings or conclusions of that report ... Indeed, there is no UN procedure or precedent to that effect."

That's exactly right, and that's why it is so disturbing that the Senate has already passed a resolution by unanimous consent -- with literally not one word of debate -- calling on the UN to rescind this trailblazing report. 

We still have time, though, to take action to make sure that the House doesn't pass an even worse resolution, and we need your help, to make that happen.  Here's how you can...

Take Action:

1. Send a letter to your representative asking him/her not to support this resolution.

2.
Meet with your representative at home during next week's spring recess.

3.
Join our Congressional District Coordinator (CDC) network to help us educate your representative over the long term.

Thanks for your help.

P.S. -- The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is lobbying strongly to pass these
resolutions, and we are the only organization challenging this one. However, our budget is only 0.4% of AIPAC's! Help strengthen the US Campaign and our movement to change U.S. policy, by making a generous, tax-deductible, one-time contribution, or join our Olive Branch Club for recurring donations. Thanks for your support!

Friday, April 15, 2011

This Tax Day, Learn Exactly How Israel Misuses U.S. Weapons

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Yesterday I had the privilege of participating in a press briefing, organized by our friends at the Institute for Middle East Understanding, with two courageous and inspiring young adults who have been deeply affected by U.S. weapons transfers to Israel.

Amer Shurrab
’s two brothers—Ibrahim and Kassab—were shot in Gaza by Israeli soldiers during “Operation Cast Lead,” denied medical care and left to bleed to death. Emily Henochowicz, a U.S. citizen, lost an eye after an Israeli soldier fired a high-velocity tear gas canister at her during a protest against Israel’s deadly assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

Amer and Emily’s heartrending stories remind us why it is so important to redouble our efforts to end U.S. military aid to Israel. After all, it is our weapons, paid for with our tax dollars, which are responsible for these tragedies and thousands more.

With Tax Day at hand, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation launches today a major, new resource to educate people about the weapons we provide Israel and the deadly impact they have on Palestinian civilians forced to live under Israel’s brutal, 43-year military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.

Our new website www.weaponstoisrael.org documents in detail more than 670 million weapons, valued at nearly $19 billion, given to Israel by the United States in the last decade. We also document the weapons Israel misused during that period to kill at least 2,969 unarmed Palestinians who took no part in hostilities.

When we compiled this data, which we’ve posted in a variety of slideshows and spreadsheets, we were shocked by the sheer magnitude of these weapons transfers and the degree of our complicity in Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians.
For example, our research reveals that the United States gave Israel more than 47 million pieces of ammunition in just the last three years. That’s more than enough bullets to kill every Palestinian in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip ten times over! What a chilling statistic.

With more than 500 different types of weapons given to Israel over the past decade, our website shows that the United States is deeply, intricately, and comprehensively implicated in almost everything Israel does to maintain its illegal occupation of Palestinian lands.

Check out today: www.weaponstoisrael.org. I am sure you'll be as outraged as I am about how are taxes are being spent..

Sincerely,

Josh Ruebner
National Advocacy Director
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

PS: If you’re as upset as I am that our tax dollars are funding Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians, then join me in “offsetting” the estimated $21.59 that you will provide in weapons to Israel this Tax Day, by making a tax-deductible contribution to support our work.

Earlham College Students Launch Divestment Resolution



Yesterday, BDS Earlham, a student group at Earlham College, released its proposed resolution to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett Packard for their involvement in the Israeli Occupation.

Earlham College is a Quaker, private, undergraduate college in Richmond, Indiana. BDS Earlham is composed of Earlham students of many nationalities, cultures, and faith traditions, and members of a number of student organizations. Watch the excellent video above featuring those who are part of the divestment process.

Click here to read the divestment resolution, contact the group, and show your support!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April is Right to Education Month

Jewish Voice for Peace has designated this month for focusing on the Right to Education.

The Right to Education speaking tour is in full swing, featuring Palestinian voices focused on Palestinian youth and the barriers that the Israeli occupation imposes on their access to education. Mira, Amer, and Hanna have been speaking at many universities, connecting the Palestinian student experience to the American one. Click here to find out some of what people are saying about the tour. Here are the remaining tour dates/locations:

4/13-14
Hanna and Mira at UC-Berkeley and City College of San Francisco

4/17
Hanna and Mira at UT-Austin

4/20-21
Hanna and Mira at Albuquerque

4/21-22
Hanna and Mira at Arizona State University and University of Arizona

4/25
Hanna and Mira at UC-San Diego

4/27
Hanna and Mira at UCLA

May is Right to Healthcare Month. Stay tuned at wedivest.org.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Black student group slams ‘apartheid’ abuse



Israeli Apartheid Week is an international annual series of events endorsed by the US Campaign. Click here for more information about the definition of Israel as an Apartheid state, and how to work against apartheid.
Note that on its web site, the Vanguard Leadership Group lists members who attended AIPAC functions, including a Campus Allies Israel Trip. It also lists Jerusalem and the Israeli Knesset as educational missions done by VLG members, and cites its earning of the AIPAC Ally of the Year Award.


April 8, 2011

(JTA) -- An African-American student group took out ads in college newspapers blasting Israel Apartheid Week organizers for abusing the term.

In a full page ad titled "Words matter" and appearing in newspapers on April 7, the Vanguard Leadership Group accused Students for Justice in Palestine of a "false and deeply offensive" characterization of Israel.

"SJP has chosen to manipulate rather than inform with this illegitimate analogy," Vanguard says in the ad, which is signed by members who attend several historically black colleges. "We request that you immediately stop referring to Israel as an apartheid society and to acknowledge that the Arab minority in Israel enjoys full citizenship with voting rights and representation in the government."

The ad appeared in newspapers on campuses that saw Israel Apartheid Week activity in February, including Brown University, UCLA, Columbia University and the University of Maryland.

Vanguard, a leadership development group for students from historically black universities, in recent years has forged ties with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and its members have visited Israel.

SEE ORIGINAL ARTICLE...

SEE OUR APRIL 27th FOLLOW-UP ON THIS STORY...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Washington University Hip-Hop Program Revokes Invitation to Israeli Cultural Ambassador

St. Louis PSC, one of our member groups, has achieved a remarkable success in the struggle to expose "cultural ambassadors" to the U.S., funded and commissioned by the Israeli government and/or Zionist establishment institutions.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 8, 2011

The St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee (STL-PSC) welcomes the decision by program organizers to disinvite Israeli hip-hop artist Marvin Casey from Universal Beatz, a week of performances at Washington University in St. Louis by Middle Eastern rappers and dancers, due to begin on Monday, April 11, 2011. Casey’s dance troupe, Tribe 13, is sponsored by the Jewish Agency for Israel, a Zionist organization that facilitates the immigration of Jews from around the world to Israel while denying the right of Palestinian refugees exiled from their homes and lands from returning. Today, the Jewish Agency for Israel continues to deny Palestinians the use of land in Israel and is connected to the initiative, “Brand Israel,” which seeks to divert worldwide focus away from Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies and towards its scientific and cultural institutions.

ARTICLE CONTINUES...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Students Nationwide Launch "Mock Wall" Movement

Groups at Several U.S. Universities Coordinate Efforts of Mock Walls Targeting U.S. Policies of Support for Israel and of Immigration and Border Enforcement

Students at the UA made history last month when they erected the largest (1200-ft) mock apartheid wall in the U.S. to divide their more than 50,000-person campus in protest of American policies of support for Israel’s 44-year military occupation and settlement of Palestinian ancestral lands and of U.S. Immigration and border enforcement. Students also released their statement advocating divestment from UA-partnered corporations enabling such policies. The Associated Press first picked up the story of their mock wall on Mar. 19. Archbishop Tutu heard about the students’ wall and divestment initiative and offered his support, at the invitation of the students.

The student statement was dated Mar. 28 by the student group, No Más Muertes (UA NMM), and marks the first public U.S.-university based call for divestment or boycott from corporations supporting racist policies and practices against Latina/o migrant communities and indigenous peoples in AZ and nationwide. Their divestment call is modeled from the current global movement of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Tutu’s letter intentionally dated on Land Day (Mar. 30), also known as international BDS day, commemorating the day in 1976 when Israeli forces shot and killed six young Palestinian citizens of Israel protesting continuing illegal military occupation and settlement of Palestine.

In his letter Tutu expressed admiration for the students who erected the mock wall at the UA, and remarked the effort reminded him of student activists who erected mock shanty towns throughout American campuses in the 1980s to protest the brutal conditions of the South African apartheid regime while using the tactic to demonstrate student support of divestment from companies profiting from Apartheid. “It is my hope,” Tutu wrote, “that the creative action by the students will inspire a new movement of mock walls dividing campuses across the U.S….”

Students, however, are already way ahead of him. Following the UA’s “Concrete Connections” wall last month, similar mock walls are being erected across the country at institutions as diverse as Brown University, the University of New Mexico (UNM), The Evergreen State College (TESC), UMass Amherst, and others. Many of the organizers have been coordinating cross-country over the past year to launch their walls.

READ MORE...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

An “Austere Challenge” for Sure

By Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director
Don’t you just love these names the Pentagon invents for its military operations? From the makers of Operation Odyssey Dawn, coming in May 2012, it’s Austere Challenge!
If you thought U.S.-Israeli military cooperation was already tight, it’s about to get a whole lot closer. According to an April 4 article in Defense News, U.S. and Israeli military planners are busy at work on an exercise that would entail an “unprecedented expansion of security cooperation” between the countries. The article makes clear that this is no ordinary military exercise, but one aimed at “enabling the two countries to func­tion in wartime as a joint task force (JTF).” Yikes. Exactly what contingency planning for a joint U.S.-Israeli war is in the offing? Israeli military planners appear giddy at the prospect. “We’re talking about a huge step up in substance, size and proce­dures,” an Israeli officer told Defense News. “It’s an historic upgrading of strategic cooperation that extends beyond interoperability into how to jointly plan and execute contingency op­erations.” No wonder the Obama Administration can lay a legitimate claim to being the best friend that Israel has ever had in the White House, notwithstanding its much-ado-about-nothing feigned brouhaha over Israel’s ongoing expansion of its illegal settlements on Palestinian land. Between record-breaking appropriations of military aid to Israel and unprecedented levels of military cooperation, President Obama has made clear that Israel will be rewarded, rather than sanctioned, for its intransigence in maintaining its illegal military occupation of Palestinian land. So much for change we can believe in. No doubt that it will be an “austere challenge” for us to confront effectively this increased military coordination, but keep your eyes peeled and be ready to take action when we launch an advocacy campaign about this in the future. Meanwhile, we’re continuing to move ahead with our work to end U.S. military aid to Israel. Here are ways you can plug in, along with some teasers for upcoming stages of the campaign we’ll be rolling out over the next few months: * Check out our website How Much Aid to Israel? to learn how much money your community provides in weapons to Israel and what that money could purchase instead for unmet needs in your hometown. While you’re there, be sure to take action and sign up to help us organize our campaign to end military aid to Israel. * The Tax Man Cometh this year on April 18. To mark Tax Day and to let you know exactly what your taxes are going toward, we will be launching next week a comprehensive database of U.S. weapons transfers to Israel over the past ten years and the impact these weapons have on Palestinian civilians. Check out a sneak-peek of the prototype website: How Many Weapons to Israel? and be sure to let us know what you think. * In May, we’ll unveil ways that you can get involved in bringing an ad campaign to your city that raises awareness about the moral and financial costs of U.S. military aid to Israel. And in June, we’ll be rolling out a campaign to organize city council resolutions opposing U.S. military aid to Israel. Stay tuned for ways to get involved!
Finally, before you give Uncle Sam his due this year, make sure you lower your future tax burden by making a tax-deductible contribution to support the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and our educational campaign to challenge military aid to Israel.
We estimate that the average individual taxpayer will be providing Israel with $21.59 in weapons this year. “Offset” your contribution to weapons to Israel by making a tax-deductible donation to us today.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Goldstone's retraction turns laws of war into Israel's "surmountable nuisance," says Noura Erekat

Below, our former National Organizer, Noura Erekat, responds with insight on Justice Richard Goldstone's frustrating steps to distance himself from some of his own most crucial findings 24 months ago in his U.N. investigation of Israel's largest-ever attack on the Gaza Strip. Goldstone wrote a critical op-ed in last Friday's Washington Post. Erekat is currently an adjunct professor at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies in Georgetown University.

Goldstone: An act of negligence

Downplay of Israeli aggression towards civilians during the Gaza War, causes scholars to question Richard Goldstone.

Noura Erekat
April 4, 2011

In the wake of a monumental victory in the human rights community to move the Goldstone Report out of the Human Rights Council (HRC) to the General Assembly where it can be underpinned by actionable follow up, Justice Richard Goldstone’s recent editorial makes some human rights practitioners wish it had been left to languish in the HRC.

Goldstone sought to do two things in his op-ed: to amend the record by stating that Israel’s attacks may not have been deliberate and second, to emphasise Hamas’s culpability under the laws of war. In the best case scenario, Goldstone’s intervention is a problematic attempt to cajole Israel to participate in the international process for accountability.

However, even in that case, the editorial is counterproductive, short-sighted, and casts Goldstone's attempts as no less than curious. 

Just last week, I had the chance to speak to Goldstone at Stanford Law School where I participated in a debate on the report featuring him as a discussant.

U.S. Boat to Gaza Leaders Challenge Netanyahu Threat to Impending Flotilla

US To Gaza is one of 339 member organizations in our U.S. nationwide coalition. Hope for the boat's success depends partly upon your support.

By US To Gaza

April 3, 2011

Human rights activists who are preparing to sail a U.S. ship in a 22-nation flotilla to Gaza at the end of May sharply criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's request to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to stop the boats from sailing.

Israel media reported on Friday that Netanyahu argued to the UN Secretary-General that the flotilla is a conglomerate of "extreme Islamists that are interested only in provocation" whose aim is to destroy Israel.

"Nothing could be further from the truth," said Jane Hirschmann and Richard Levy in a joint statement, both of New York, who are building support for the U.S. boat, named "The Audacity of Hope."

"We are appalled by this flagrant misrepresentation. The organizers and passengers of the U.S. boat--a committed, nonviolent, human rights mission sailing as part of the International Flotilla--are people from all walks of life, among them lawyers, social workers, artists, firefighters, midwives, writers, doctors, filmmakers, retired U.S. army personnel, veterans, women's rights organizers, teachers and nurses."

The Netanyahu approach to the UN came 11 months after Israeli naval forces boarded the Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, destined for Gaza on May 31 last year in an attempt to prevent it and several other ships from breaching the blockade. During that assault, 9 people were killed by Israeli forces.

The flotilla is not the problem, said Hirschmann and Levy in their statement. "Israel's conduct in Palestine is the problem. Israel's occupation of the West Bank, siege of Gaza, expansion of settlements, destruction of homes, usurpation of water and air rights, walls of confinement, brutal military presence, and daily sniper attacks on innocent civilians constitute the paramount violence and terrorism in the Mideast--conduct that we all abhor."

The U.S.-flagged "The Audacity of Hope" will be among many boats in the second International Freedom Flotilla, which its organizers said "will sail in peace and with a single nonviolent message, i.e., that the people of Gaza are entitled to the same life, liberty and pursuit of happiness that are the rights of every human being."

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Chicago activists mark Palestinian Land Day with BDS flash-mob


Flash Mob Video: youtube.com/watch?v=z4tXe2HKqqs
“BDS” song available for download

On March 30th at 5 pm, a group of social justice activists held a “flash-mob” in downtown Chicago. The demonstration was organized as one of hundreds of demonstrations held around the world to mark the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Global Day of Action, an annual event designed to call attention to the movement to boycott the apartheid policies of Israel. Demonstrators performed a choreographed dance to an original song called “BDS,” a parody of “ABC” by the Jackson Five.

“In the lyrics to our song, we sing ‘apartheid and ethnic cleansing go on in Palestine every day, but without the help of you and your money, the occupation will go away.’ While the struggle to end Israel’s apartheid policies is not an easy one, it’s true that we in the United States can support justice and peace by refusing to support companies and institutions that support Israel and its occupation of Palestine,” said Joy Ellison, an activist with Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago (PSG-Chicago). “We hope that this flash mob empowers our community to stand up against apartheid and challenges Chicago businesses and institutions that are actively supporting the oppression of the Palestinian people.”

Before this performance at “The Bean,” the flash mob was held outside of Chicago Cultural Center, home of the Chicago Sister Cities International office. For the last two years, activists with PSG-Chicago have pressured the city of Chicago to end its relationship with its Israeli sister city, Petach Tikva. Petach Tikva, an officially segregated city, is the first Jewish-only settlement in historic Palestine and the site of the primary detention center where Israeli forces abuse and torture Palestinian political prisoners. Human Rights group Amnesty International dubbed Petach Tikva “Israel’s Guantanamo.”

For more information, go the website of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) at www.bdsmovement.net

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