Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. Feels the Heat for AIPAC Trip

In today's Chicago Tribune, US Campaign Advisory Board member Professor Rashid Khalidi pens a devastating critique of Representative Jesse Jackson's Jr.'s decision to go on an AIPAC-sponsored trip to Israel earlier this month, and rebuts his subsequent op-ed in the Jerusalem Post, in which a paternalistic Jackson urged Palestinians to adopt non-violence.

Khalidi schools Jackson that "hundreds of unarmed activists acting in the spirit of the U.S. civil rights movement, and who proudly claim to be inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, have been arrested without charge. Hundreds more have been injured or killed by rubber bullets and high-velocity tear gas canisters."

This op-ed follows an article written by National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner similarly taking Jackson to task.

Help us keep up the pressure on Jackson and other Members of Congress who went on AIPAC trips by taking action.

Read Prof. Khalidi's full article here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

New Ads on San Francisco Cable Cars, Buses, and Bay Area BART!

Friends of Sabeel-North America, American Muslims for Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, Bay Area Women in Black, and the Middle East Children's Alliance -- five member groups of the US Campaign coalition -- are some of those involved in bringing back Bay Area ads calling for end to U.S. military aid to Israel, this time on BART, Muni, and San Francisco cable cars!

Commuters in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco stations will see Israeli and Palestinian grandfathers urging aid cut-off for the sake of peace and justice.

Part of a year-old national campaign, the ads depict Israeli and Palestinian grandfathers, each holding a grandchild, calling for an end to the military assistance in the interest of building "peace with equality and justice." They went up today in three of the busiest stations on the Bay Area Rapid Transit system - 12th St. Oakland, Downtown Berkeley, and Civic Center San Francisco - as well as on the Muni level of the Embarcadero station in San Francisco and on a Powell Street cable car. Next week the same ad will be posted in the 16th St./ Mission station in San Francisco...

The ads are part of an initiative launched in October 2010, by a Chicago-area community group called the Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine. NorCal Sabeel followed with ads in several BART stations last December. Since then similar ads have appeared in transit stations, on buses, or on billboards in Washington, DC; Boston, MA; Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ; and Albuquerque, NM. More cities are planning their own campaigns soon.

Jeff Halper and Salim Shawamreh
The previous round of ads in BART stations not only garnered considerable coverage in the local media, but also provoked a series of counter-ads sponsored by an Israel Lobby organization called Stand With Us. In response to complaints about those ads, BART removed them on the grounds that they appeared “disparaging or demeaning to Palestinians as a whole” and violated the district’s advertising standards; they were then replaced with new ads accusing the Palestinian leadership of "teaching hate and violence.”

The new ads now appearing in the Bay Area feature photos of Jeff Halper, a Minnesota-born Israeli professor, and Salim Shawamreh, a Palestinian construction supervisor born in Jerusalem, and a grandchild of each. Halper is co-founder and coordinator of the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD); Shawamreh's Jerusalem home has been destroyed by Israeli wrecking crews, then rebuilt by volunteers organized by ICAHD, four times since 1998... 

For more information about the overall campaign, visit www.TwoPeoplesOneFuture.org
For more on the Bay Area campaign, see www.BuildPeace.org


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Seattle's New Print Ad Campaign

The Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, a US Campaign coalition member, recently launched an exciting print ad campaign about Israel’s segregated roads, schools and towns...

“I’M NOT ALLOWED ON ISRAEL’S SEGREGATED ROADS” says a West Bank Palestinian in one of a series of newspaper ads launched this week by Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SeaMAC).  The ads are part of SeaMAC’s continuing effort to expose the misuse of U.S. taxpayer money to support Israel’s system of segregation and discrimination against the Palestinian people.  Palestinians are prohibited from driving on segregated Israeli-only settlement roads; Palestinian students inside Israel are channeled into a segregated school system with separate and unequal resources; and Palestinians are not allowed to live in illegal Jewish-only Israeli settlements.

The three ads will run over the next three weeks in The Seattle Weekly and The Stranger...


The print ads continue the campaign begun by SeaMAC’s bus ad and billboard campaigns.  Last December, SeaMAC’s Metro bus ads, “ISRAELI WAR CRIMES: Your Tax Dollars At Work,” were first approved, accepted and printed, then suddenly cancelled by King County. A subsequent billboard campaign with the slogan “EQUAL RIGHTS FOR PALESTINIANS – Stop Funding the Israeli Military” was approved and accepted by Clear Channel Outdoor, and three of the four contracted billboards were put up for the first week, but then were taken down by Clear Channel.

The ACLU is representing SeaMAC in a lawsuit against King County for violating SeaMAC’s constitutional rights by refusing to honor the contract to run the bus ads.  The lawsuit will come to trial starting on October 31 of this year.

“Segregation was the system of apartheid we rejected in this country, and people of conscience here should refuse to support similar segregation and apartheid in Israel”, says SeaMAC volunteer Carla Curio. “Israel’s refusal to treat Palestinians as equals is an ongoing obstacle to justice and peace.”

For the full-sized ads and press release, click here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tell Interpol Not to Entertain Israeli Apartheid!

American post-punk band Interpol plans to perform in Israel later this month. Join the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) -- a US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation member group -- in calling on Interpol to not entertain Israeli Apartheid!

Below is a sample email appeal, followed by sample tweets...

Email addresses: contact info@interpolnyc.com, nils@matadorrecords.com, frazer@murraychalmers.com
Sample Subject Line: Interpol - Stand up for human rights!

Dear members and management of Interpol,

During the past month, tent cities have sprung up all over the State of Israel. Israeli citizens are protesting against their government's unfair policies: tax benefits to the rich, lack of public housing, underinvestment in infrastructure, privatization of social services and more.

However, although there may seem to be a revolutionary uprising in the Israeli public, modeled after the Arab Spring revolutions, one subject is taboo in the tents. Under the call for “unification” in Israeli society, social justice ends with Palestinians. The Palestinian people are denied some of the most elementary freedoms: the freedom of movement, the freedom to access their stolen agricultural land and the freedom to protest without facing life threatening violence: When they demonstrate against the Israeli government, they face brutal treatment. Their relatives in the Gaza strip are by no means luckier, living under constant siege. In the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, kids are abducted from their houses, in violation of international law, and taken to violent police interrogations.

Israeli propaganda will gladly announce that you are coming to perform in "the only Democracy in the Middle East", but your Palestinian fans in the Occupied Territories will not even be allowed to come to Tel Aviv and enjoy your performance. Furthermore, the Pic.Nic festival is produced by Shuki Weiss, who has a special relationship with the Israeli establishment. Mr. Weiss attended Knesset meetings which have led to draconian anti-democratic legislation to outlaw boycotts, and he sends Israeli politicians VIP tickets to concerts which he produces. This is not just corruption within the system, but corruption that serves to whitewash Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people, using international artists such as you.

You have an opportunity to stand with the oppressed. Please don’t play in apartheid Israel, until it complies with international law and ends the occupation over the occupied territories, recognizes full equality for its Palestinian citizens and respects and protects the Palestinian refugee’s right of return to their homes and properties.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

Tweet your BDS message and post it to their Facebook page here.
Use the sample tweets below or write your own. Click "Tweet Now!" for automatic tweeting.

Ethnic Cleansing is the real "Evil" @Interpol, Take a stand for rights & join us in #BDS until #Israel complies with Int'l Law
Tweet Now!

"Turn on the bright lights" & see #Israel apartheid @Interpol Stand up for Palestinian rights #BDS
Tweet Now!

@Interpol the real "Barricade" is the illegal #Israel Wall which steals #Palestine land for settlements Time to join #BDS
Tweet Now!

@Interpol should be arresting #Israel War Criminals, not entertaining apartheid #BDS
Tweet Now!

@Interpol, #Israel "Wrecking Ball" demolishes Palestinian homes daily dont help them conceal crimes with your performance #BDS
Tweet Now!

Click here to see the full action alert.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A letter to Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., about congressional trips to Israel

This letter to Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., was submitted by Jack Dresser, Co-Director of Al-Nakba Awareness Project, a coalition member of the US Campaign located in Eugene, Oregon. On August 9 the US Campaign asked all member groups and supporters to write and call their U.S. Representatives and "name and shame" the ones who are going on AIPAC-led trips to Israel during the August congressional recess.


August 16, 2010
The Honorable Jesse L. Jackson, Jr.
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. Jackson:

I am not your constituent, but in your position on the appropriations subcommittee that approves aid to Israel, you represent me as a U.S. citizen and taxpayer.  It is commendable that you wish to learn more about the situation in the Holy Land in order to responsibly discharge your duties.

However, an AIPAC sponsored pro-Israel indoctrination trip that predictably presents Jews and Israelis interchangeably as victims while minimizing or ignoring the widespread, methodical, well documented and often brutal violations of the most basic human rights of Palestinians will hardly provide you the comprehensive understanding appropriate and necessary for your Congressional responsibilities. I believe that your position requires full awareness of the serious violations of international law inflicted by Israeli policies of occupation and U.S. support for these.

On your trip I doubt you were invited to visit Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (www.adalah.org) to learn about the apartheid legal and institutional systems within Israel that deny a wide range of basic rights to non-Jews including arcane marriage laws, property ownership restrictions, employment limitations, reduced access to public services, separate citizenship status, and the world’s only segregated school system like those of the pre-1954 American South.  Both Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu have identified Israeli policies as “apartheid,” and UCLA professor Saree Makdisi has shown how Israeli apartheid is far worse than was its South African counterpart.

You were no doubt introduced to a Fatah/Palestinian Authority official who represents less than half the Palestinians under Israel’s occupation and blockade, none of the 20% Palestinian Arab minority population of Israel, none of the Palestinians in refugee camps outside the West Bank, and none of the 4+ million Palestinian diaspora members with UN-registered land claims against Israel who hold the right of return under international law.

But I doubt you were introduced to American-Israeli anthropologist Jeff Halper who directs the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (www.icahd.org) and could have taught you about the 25,000 Palestinian homes illegally bulldozed by Israel as well as Israel’s systematic “matrix of control” through which it dominates the entire West Bank and its aquifers in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Of course Israel’s armored D9 Caterpillar bulldozers used to illegally destroy Palestinian properties are part of the military equipment supplied by the U.S.

We also provided the F-16s, Apache and Cobra attack helicopters, hellfire missiles, corvette naval vessels, bunker buster bombs, depleted uranium and white phosphorous munitions, and numerous other weapons used to commit war crimes in Operation Cast Lead and the Mavi Marmara massacre. The latter attack killed an American citizen while abducting, robbing and imprisoning many others with neither condemnation nor sanctions by the U.S. Congress or Administration.

And we provide the M16s used by Israeli snipers to murder Palestinian children. The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem - which I doubt you were invited to visit - has kept records of these children’s deaths since September 2000 which can be reviewed at www.rememberthesechildren.com.

After reviewing these records, please consider this irony. Palestinians are killed by Israelis in numbers far greater than Israelis killed by Palestinians (e.g., in Operation Cast Lead 1,400 Palestinians vs. eight Israelis were killed). In a Congress free of racism and aware of these facts there would predictably be far greater concern about Palestinian than Israeli victims. Yet not only is the opposite true, but there seems to be no Congressional concern at all for the maiming and killing of thousands of Palestinians non-violently resisting occupation including many hundreds of Palestinian children.

You may have been shown the bright new Ramallah mall, an attempt by Israel to substitute economic upgrades for political rights - in effect, a fresh coat of paint on the prison walls. I’m sure you remember that a well-developed Black middle class with Black universities and Black professionals lived in the Jim Crow South, but this was not acceptable as a substitute for civil rights.  Leaders of the civil rights movement including Dr. King were members of this well-educated Black professional class who demanded freedom, justice and equality, not better shopping centers.

But I doubt you were invited to visit Addameer, the Palestinian Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association in the West Bank (www.addameer.info), to learn about Israel’s policy of arresting and torturing non-violent opposition leaders, with a population of 8,000-10,000 Palestinian political prisoners. This resembles the Jim Crow practice of arresting Blacks on gratuitous charges when free labor was needed for such civic projects as levee repair. Some 40% of all Palestinian males have been imprisoned at some time by Israel, not unlike the incarceration rates of Black males in our inner cities imprisoned largely for participating in the only local economy available to them.

I doubt you were invited to attend a weekly demonstration against the Wall (declared illegal by the International Court of Justice) at Bil’in or to meet protest organizer Abdullah Abu Rahma, steadfast over several years, who was imprisoned by Israel for possessing Israeli weapons after he arranged a display of spent Israeli tear gas canisters and shell casings that had been fired at demonstrating Palestinians.

I doubt you were invited to meet the Christian Peacemaker teams of at-Tuwani who escort Palestinian children to school to protect them from Israeli settler attacks.

These human rights violations, committed by misuse of our military aid, disqualify Israel for receipt of U.S. weapons and financial aid under the Arms Export Control Act and Foreign Assistance Act.

The long, sad, misrepresented history has been exposed by Israeli historians Ilan Pappe, Avi Shlaim, Tom Segev, Shlomo Sand, and even militantly pro-Israel Benny Morris. Please read their accounts based on declassified Israeli archives and other original sources, reports by independent professional journalists such as Robert Fisk and Alan Hart, legal viewpoints of international attorneys Richard Falk and Francis Boyle, over 100 United Nations resolutions censuring Israel, and reports from Amnesty International, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (www.pchrgaza.org).

These resources will inform you far more honestly, reliably, comprehensively and less expensively than the AIPAC-sponsored junket which - in addition to advancing a deliberately deceptive viewpoint - probably violated the travel provisions of the gift rule issued by the House Committee on Ethics.

One last thought. As many of your constituents lose their homes through foreclosure or eviction, how do you imagine they feel about use of their tax dollars for expulsion of Palestinians from their homes by the U.S.-supported Israeli military occupation force using U.S.-supplied weapons?

Sincerely,
Jack Dresser, Ph.D.



Mr. Dresser is a behavioral research scientist and National Vice Chair of the Palestine Working Group of Veterans for Peace, and he co-directs Al-Nakba Awareness Project in Eugene, Oregon.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Help Us Shut Down AIPAC Trips to Israel

Last week we asked you to "name and shame" the 81 Representatives who are on AIPAC junkets to Israel during this August Congressional recess -- instead of staying home to address the economic concerns of their constituents.

Your response has been extraordinary! With your phone calls, the US Campaign, together with our member group CODEPINK, figured out nearly half of these Representatives' identities. Your phone calls, letters-to-the-editor, and appearances at town hall meetings, have forced these Representatives onto the defensive, so much that even the New York Times noted the criticism of these trips
.


Let's keep the pressure up!
Learn how you can take action here.


Plus, we're exposing potential ethics violations in the funding of these junkets. The US Campaign's National Advocacy Director, Josh Ruebner, in a widely cited article published in Foreign Policy in Focus, reveals what appears to be a clear violation of guidelines prohibiting lobbying organizations from paying for these trips. Read the article and then spread the word via social media.

CODEPINK used the information Josh uncovered to file a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics.

By taking action today, you can help challenge AIPAC's Congressional junkets, which play such an important role in ensuring U.S. military aid to Israel and U.S. support for Israeli occupation and apartheid. 

Call the Office of Congressional Ethics at 202-225-9739 and tell them that you support the complaint filed against the AIPAC trips, and that you want an investigation to be carried out. You can also email the office here.

Your voice matters and your actions are successfully challenging U.S policy toward Palestine/Israel.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Robbing Peter to Pay Israel

The US Campaign's National Advocacy Director, Josh Ruebner, published this analysis in Foreign Policy in Focus, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies.


By Josh Ruebner
August 12, 2011

Nearly 20 percent of the constituents of Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) live under the poverty line, and nearly 15 percent are unemployed. Jackson’s congressional district, covering parts of the south side of Chicago and its southern suburbs, has been hit harder than many others by the crises plaguing the economy. Many of his constituents are looking at even more cutbacks in social services, higher prices for food and fuel, and ever scarcer jobs.

Ruebner
During this August congressional recess, Rep. Jackson, Jr. should be at home, meeting with constituents and proposing to them how he will help them cope with their difficult circumstances. Instead, the politician is proudly gallivanting around Israel, in one of three separate congressional delegations heading there this month on all-expense-paid junkets organized by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), a so-called charitable affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most influential of the myriad pro-Israel lobbying outfits.

In total, 81 representatives, nearly one-fifth of the entire House, will participate in these jaunts, which, according to The Washington Post, include “a round-trip flight in business class for lawmakers and their spouses (that alone is worth about $8,000), fine hotels and meals, side trips, and transportation and guides.”

Of course, these congressional delegations are not all fun and games. Members of Congress will be expected to sing for their lavish dinners by honoring President Bush’s 2007 pledge to provide the Israeli military with $30 billion of tax-payer-funded weapons between 2009 and 2018. So far, proposed increases in military aid to Israel have been spared from the budgetary chopping block by President Obama and a compliant Congress that treats Israeli militarism as more sacrosanct than medical care for seniors. This despite the fact that Israel misuses the funds, in violation of the Arms Export Control Act, to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians living under its illegal 44-year military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.

We published in The Hill today: "Hold Israel accountable with Leahy law."

Our National Advocacy Director, Josh Ruebner, has a great op-ed today in The Hill, supporting Sen. Leahy's efforts to hold Israel accountable for its violations of U.S. weapons laws. Josh touched a raw nerve with his hard-hitting analysis. Lots of people are attacking him (but not his arguments). Check it out and leave YOUR comment!

Hold Israel accountable with Leahy law

By Josh Ruebner
August 17, 2011

Apologists for Israeli occupation and apartheid claim that advocates for holding Israel accountable for its human rights abuses of Palestinians are “singling Israel out for extra scrutiny” or “holding Israel to a higher standard than other countries.”

Ruebner
Yet, ironically, Israel’s supporters also claim that U.S. military aid to Israel is sacrosanct and, unlike every other governmental program on the chopping block these days, cannot be questioned due to the “special U.S.-Israeli relationship." Dan Carle, a spokesperson for Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), has noted correctly that you cannot have your cake and eat it too.

In response to an article in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz suggesting that the Vermont Senator will attempt to apply sanctions to certain units of the Israeli military for human rights violations, Carle explained that “the [Leahy] law applies to U.S. aid to foreign security forces around the globe and is intended to be applied consistently across the spectrum of U.S. military aid abroad. Under the law the State Department is responsible for evaluations and enforcement decisions and over the years Senator Leahy has pressed for faithful and consistent application of the law.”

The possibility of Senator Leahy consistently applying this eponymous legislation and holding Israel to the exact same standard as every other country has Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, whose office may have leaked the story in an effort to kill the initiative, in a tizzy.

The “Leahy Law,” as it is commonly known, prohibits the United States from providing any weapons or training to “any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible evidence that such unit has committed gross violations of human rights.” In the past, this law has been invoked to curtail military aid to countries as diverse as Indonesia, Colombia, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Along with other provisions in the Foreign Assistance Act, of which it is a part, and the Arms Export Control Act, it forms the basis of an across-the-board policy that is supposed to ensure that U.S. assistance does not contribute to human rights abuses.

ARTICLE CONTINUES ON THEHILL.COM...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

FLASH MOB: Mock Wedding Promotes Ahava & Soda Stream Boycott at Bed, Bath, & Beyond!

Activists from CODEPINK (US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation coalition member group) recently staged a mock wedding at Bed, Bath, & Beyond in Los Angeles.

Four CODEPINK women dressed in brides dresses strolled through the store and mall answered the reverend's big question:

"Do you promise to tell your fellow brides to not register with Bed, Bath & Beyond until it stops stocking illegal Israeli settlement products Ahava and SodaStream?"...

"Do you promise to honor and obey international law?"...

"Do you promise to cherish the right of Palestinians to use their own natural resources?"

etc... to which the brides answered a resounding,

"WE DO!"

Watch the wonderful video below. CODEPINK invites others to "Become a BDS Bride!"

Find the video, script, fliers, and more by clicking here.



Friday, August 12, 2011

Israeli Parliament Member Ahmed Tibi Speaks Out Against Israel's New Antiboycott Law

Ahmad Tibi, deputy speaker of the Israeli Parliament, condemns Israel's new antiboycott law, reiterating the importance of boycott campaigns such as the Boycott Ahava "Stolen Beauty" Campaign, endorsed by the US Campaign and led by coalition  member group CODEPINK...

A Strike Against Free Speech

The New York Times

By AHMAD TIBI
Published: July 28, 2011

Free speech in Israel was dealt a severe blow this month when the country's Parliament passed antiboycott legislation that targets individuals or organizations publicly calling for a boycott against Israel or any area under its control.

Because I believe in ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, equal rights for Palestinians and Jews, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees forced from their homes and lands in 1948, I support boycotting -- and calling on others to boycott -- all Israeli companies that help perpetuate these injustices.

But this new legal limit on free speech could bankrupt me.

...

Already, a member of the Knesset, our Parliament, Alex Miller, has threatened to sue me for my words -- specifically my call, which I continue to make today, to boycott the illegal Jewish settlement of Ariel. Such a call would be unremarkable in a proper democracy with untrammeled free speech. The right to criticize a population that has dispossessed Palestinians and discriminated against us for decades should be protected speech.

Perhaps my parliamentary immunity will protect me, but that can readily be stripped. Moreover, parliamentary immunity will not protect Israelis who urge fellow citizens not to buy Ahava beauty products created from natural resources illegally extracted from the occupied shores of the Dead Sea and manufactured in a factory in an illegal West Bank settlement, to avoid wines from the occupied Golan Heights, or to hire construction companies other than those that build exclusive and discriminatory housing units for settlers in occupied East Jerusalem.

...

The Israeli Parliament's antiboycott legislation is an unprecedented effort to undercut nonviolent resistance to Israeli oppression. Many people believe that making nonviolence more difficult will make violence inevitable. I do not. Approving such irresponsible and reactionary legislation highlights Israel's long decades of injustice to Palestinians and hands us something of a political victory. Through this legislation, Israel has drawn further attention to its violent occupation of Palestinian territory and routine violations of international law...

Click here to view the full article.

For more information on the implications of the new antiboycott law, click here.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Announcing Fall Olive Harvest Delegation with IFPB!

The US Campaign's National Organizer, Anna Baltzer, contributed the announcement below.  In Spring 2010 and 2011, Anna co-led international delegations to Israel/Palestine with the Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB), which is a coalition member of the US Campaign.

Having co-led two delegations with Interfaith Peace-Builders, I cannot recommend highly enough these powerful, transformative delegations. And there's no better way to experience both the beauty and tragedy of Palestine than picking olives with farmers and families defying unjust military rules and threats of settler attacks. The olive harvest is Palestinian popular resistance in action.
                          - Anna Baltzer


Apply Now for the Fall Olive Harvest Delegation!

October 29 - November 11, 2011


This delegation will provide an opportunity to participate in the Palestinian olive harvest season -- generally a time of great community activism, where people of all ages from Palestine, Israeli peace and justice groups, and international groups join farmers as they reap their harvest. It is international support that makes the harvest possible in many cases. You will hear from Palestinian farmers and learn of the importance of agriculture to the Palestinian economy and culture. As with other delegations, you will also meet additional Israelis and Palestinians working for peace and justice.

To learn more about the standard components of all delegations, click here.

DEADLINE TO APPLY: Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until early September, 2011 or until the delegation fills. Our last several delegations have filled up several months before departure, so please apply as soon as possible to reserve your space.

Logistics:

The cost of the Olive Harvest delegation will be around $2200.  This includes 13 days of the delegation, hotel and home stay accommodations, breakfasts and dinners, local transportation, guides, speaker/event fees, basic tips and gratuities. Partial scholarships may be available for those with demonstrable need (click here for more information).

... The cost does not include domestic and international airfare. Interfaith Peace-Builders works with a local travel agent in Jerusalem to secure the best group rates for the delegation to travel together on the same flight from Washington, DC to Israel/Palestine. Therefore, delegates do not need to book their own international airfare.

Click here to:
  • Learn much more about delegation specifics (including who we meet, cost, application information)
  • View photos from past delegations
  • Join the delegation email list
Apply today!

Indian Artists Boycott Tel Aviv Museum Show

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, a campaign endorsed by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, recently issued the following press statement...

July 31, 2011

Indian Artists Boycott Tel Aviv Museum Show

The first major show of Indian art "Deconstructing India" is planned for Spring 2012 in the new wing of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Israel.

We, the undersigned artists, who have been invited by the curators to participate in this show, have declined to exhibit our work, in solidarity with the International Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel called by Palestinian intellectuals and artists, and the India Campaign. The Boycott, inspired by the earlier successful international boycott against Apartheid South Africa, is a peaceful, non-violent Gandhian campaign, which is directed at mainstream institutions and not at individuals, to pressurize Israel to recognize the rights of the Palestine people.

The newly built Amir Wing of the Tel Aviv Museum designed by American architect Preston Scott Cohen is planned to be a showpiece for the discredited Israeli Government to increase its status and prestige internationally at a time when the country's image is at its lowest ebb.

By declining to participate in this show, we refuse to legitimize the illegal racist and apartheid policies of the Israeli Government against the people of Palestine and to become a part of "Brand Israel".

Click here for the full statement and list of signatories and supportive artists and art scholars...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Straining Every Nerve Against UN Membership for Palestine

Josh Ruebner is the US Campaign's National Advocacy Director. His article below appeared yesterday in Dissident Voice. Learn more about the US Campaign's actions and perspectives on Palestine UN membership here on our website.


The Roman philosopher and politician Cicero urged orators to “Strain every nerve to gain your point.”  The Obama Administration appears to have taken his advice to heart in its attempts to make the case that the United States should oppose Palestinian efforts to gain membership in the United Nations this fall.
However, its rhetoric has been so convoluted, its logic so flawed, and its reasoning so shoddy that its efforts have been desultory and unconvincing.  Take, for example, the following quotes:
No vote at the United Nations will ever create an independent Palestinian state.  And the United States will stand up against efforts to single Israel out at the United Nations or in any international forum. (Applause.)  Israel’s legitimacy is not a matter for debate.
— President Barack Obama, Remarks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference, May 22, 2011
There are so many historical inaccuracies, deliberate obfuscations of political realities, and hyperbolic assumptions that it is difficult to know where to begin to unpack these three crucial sentences.
To assert, boldly, that no action will ever achieve its goal, then at the very least the President should have the historical record on his side. Despite the President’s bluster, he is powerless to stop the UN from voting to create an independent Palestinian state because it already did so—in 1947. UN General Assembly Resolution 181, which ironically never would have passed were it not for the intensive diplomatic arm-twisting of the United States, recommended partitioning Palestine into two states: a Jewish State comprising 55 percent of historic Palestine, and an Arab State totaling 45 percent, with Jerusalem as acorpus separatum, an open, international city administered by the UN.  The UN voted to endorse this partition plan, which was never implemented, at a time when Palestinian Arabs owned approximately 93 percent of the land, and Jews owned 7 percent.
For these past 64 years, Israel’s actions to ethnically cleanse as much of historic Palestine of as many Palestinians as possible has been the primary obstacle to implementing the UN Partition Plan. Today, Israel relentlessly continues to colonize the 22 percent of historic Palestine (the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip) that has been envisioned as a Palestinian state in proposed two-state resolutions to the conflict since 1967, rendering even this bread crumb a remote likelihood.
Also, if the President is going to stake out such an unequivocal position on an issue, then at the very least he should state clearly the actual issue at hand. As the President knows, the UN may be asked to admit the State of Palestine as a member, not to vote on creating a Palestinian state. Since the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) declared independence in 1988, more than 120 countries have recognized and established some form of diplomatic relations with the State of Palestine.  As the international lawyers of the State Department must surely know, the UN does not recognize states.  Only states can recognize other states.  The UN can only determine if that state is admitted as a member.  By conflating these two issues, the President intentionally ups the ante of what is at stake as a pretext to justify his opposition to this Palestinian initiative.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Where in the World is YOUR Representative?!

Last week, the President and Congress narrowly avoided an unprecedented default on the U.S. debt by agreeing at the 11th hour to raise the debt-ceiling. But S&P still downgraded the U.S. credit rating, pushing U.S. and global financial markets into a downfall.

Washington's deal does nothing to help Americans who are still suffering from massive cutbacks in social services, an unemployment rate stuck above 9% (over 16% among African-Americans), and an estimated 10 million families facing foreclosure on their homes by next year.

This August break is for Members of Congress to be at home, meeting with constituents to hear about our concerns. They should be listening to our anxiety about the economy and thinking through ways to dig us out of the financial mess they've created with their corporate giveaways, tax breaks for the wealthy and lax regulation of unscrupulous banks that are forcing people out of their homes with fraudulent mortgage documents.

They should hear our outrage about what the more than $1.2 trillion of our tax dollars are doing to the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan and to our troops they're sending over to fight wars without purpose.

Instead, 81 Representatives--nearly 20% of the House--are hightailing off to Israel on an all-expense-paid junket organized by an affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).  Israel's goal there is to lobby the Representatives to continue sending the Israeli military $30 billion of our tax money -- the amount pledged for these 10 years (2009-2018). That means sending money we won't have for jobs and healthcare to buy weapons for Israel to perpetuate its illegal military occupation and apartheid policies toward Palestinians. 

It's time to "name and shame" these Members of Congress who put more weapons for Israel ahead of their own constituents' economic rights. We need you to take action today:

1. Call your Representative and ask if s/he is going (or has gone) to Israel this month on a trip paid by the AIPAC-affiliate American Israel Educational Foundation (AIEF).  If not, thank your Representative for not going. If so, politely express your outrage and urge your Representative to cancel the trip if s/he hasn't left yet. Look up contact information for your Representative here, or call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be transferred. Let us know the result of your call so that we can keep a running list of who is going (only a few of the 81 names are public at this point).

2. Write a letter-to-the-editor of your local paper and call into a local radio talk show to express your outrage about how much money your Congressional district is scheduled to give in weapons to Israel and what that money could be used for instead to fund unmet needs in your community (find out just how much here). Use the data along with our sample letter-to-the-editor to raise awareness in your community about the misplaced priorities of Congress. Mentioning your Representative in the local media gets the immediate attention of Congressional staff.

3. Organize a meeting with your Members of Congress during this August recess to urge that they end military aid to Israel and redirect that money to needs here at home. Sign up to schedule a meeting, get a template constituent meeting request, and download a memo to give to your Representative. Attend "town hall" meetings and put your Representative on the spot in public. 

4. Organize a campaign to get your city council to pass a resolution opposing U.S. military aid to Israel and calling on the President and Congress to redirect that money to unmet needs in your city. Download an organizing how-to guide, template resources, and more on our new website: Fund community needs, not Israel's misdeeds!

We are in an economic crisis. We've got to send a stringent warning to our elected officials that we will no longer accept business as usual. Take action today to demand that Members of Congress do their job to respond to this crisis by working in their districts and listening to us, not by taking lobbyist-paid junkets to guarantee their support for even more money and weapons to Israel.

Thank you for acting constructively upon the outrage we all feel right now.

Like Visiting Apartheid South Africa with an Anglo-Boer Travel Company

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of US Campaign member groups Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, has an excellent op-ed in Alternet today about the ridiculousness of 81 Members of Congress traveling to Israel this August recess on an AIPAC-affiliated junket, instead of dealing with economic hardships of their constituents.

She argues that "Going on an AIPAC-sponsored trip to Israel is the moral equivalent of using an Anglo-Boer travel company to visit apartheid-era South Africa."

Check out the article here and stay tuned for an action alert from us today about this same subject.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Victory: LGBTQ Student conference withdraws conference from Israel!

Following successful campaigning by Palestinian queer groups such as alQaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, Aswat -- Palestinian Gay Women, and Palestinian Queers for BDS, the international lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth and student umbrella organization IGLYO has withdrawn their annual conference from Israel, in line with the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS).

Palestinian queer groups welcome the decision by the board of IGLYO to withdraw their annual General Assembly conference from Tel Aviv, Israel. Since June 1st, a campaign to get 'IGLYO Out of Israel' was launched by Palestinian Queer Groups to protest the organization's decision to hold its General Assembly in Tel Aviv, and accept funding from the Israeli government, followed by a call to boycott the conference after IGLYO declined to change its location. We take this opportunity to salute IGLYO Member and Associate Organizations who took a principled and moral stance in support of our rights and headed our calls, including NUS-LGBTQ, Kaos-GL and Pembe Hayat from Turkey; BelonG To, the Ireland LGBT youth organization; and Helem -- Lebanese Protection for LQBTIQ, and IGLCN -- The International Gay and Lesbian Cultural Network. This can only be seen as a continuation of the beautiful spirit of global solidarity, dominant during the South African anti-apartheid struggle and ongoing in solidarity with the rights of the Palestinian people, and oppressed people everywhere. We also call on other member organizations, and IGLYO to fully respect the Palestinian civil society call for BDS until Israel ends its oppression of the Palestinian people.

Palestinian Queer groups have launched this campaign in protest of the location's conference, and acceptance of funding from the Israeli government, which directly implicates IGLYO in Israel's occupation, colonization and apartheid, and Israeli efforts to 're-brand' Israel. Israeli policies and occupation do not distinguish between queer and straight. All Palestinians -- queer and straight --  must deal with the effects of Israel's apartheid system, illegal wall and colonial settlements, and military occupation. Furthermore, Palestinians in Gaza live under medieval and illegal siege, and the largest open-air prison in the world. Like all Palestinian citizens of Israel, queers are subject to institutionalized discrimination in all walks of life, and Palestinian refugees are denied their basic, UN-sanctioned right of return.

Read more...

Benefit Concert with Simon Shaheen

Saturday, September 17 at 8:30pm
at
All Souls Church
1500 Harvard St., NW
Washington, DC 20009

$25/seat for Balcony seating
$50/seat for Main Floor seating

CLICK HERE to purchase your seat!

10th Annual National Organizers' Conference registrants receive FREE admission to the Simon Shaheen Benefit Concert.

All proceeds from this benefit concert directly support the work of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

We will be marking our coalition’s 10th Annual National Organizers' Conference with a special benefit concert with world renowned violinist and oud player, Simon Shaheen! Purchase your seat today!

Simon Shaheen dazzles his listeners as he deftly leaps from traditional Arabic sounds to jazz and Western classical styles. His soaring technique, melodic ingenuity, and unparalleled grace have earned him international acclaim as a virtuoso on the ‘oud and violin.

Shaheen is one of the most significant Arab musicians, performers, and composers of his generation. His work incorporates and reflects a legacy of Arabic music, while it forges ahead to new frontiers, embracing many different styles in the process. This unique contribution to the world of arts was recognized in 1994 when Shaheen was honored with the prestigious National Heritage Award at the White House.

In the 1990s he released four albums of his own: Saltanah (Water Lily Acoustics), Turath (CMP), Taqasim (Lyrichord), and Simon Shaheen: The Music of Mohamed Abdel Wahab (Axiom), while also contributing cuts to producer Bill Laswell’s fusion collective, Hallucination Engine (Island). He has contributed selections to soundtracks for The Sheltering Sky and Malcolm X, among others, and has composed the entire soundtrack for the United Nations–sponsored documentary, For Everyone Everywhere. Broadcast globally in December 1998, this film celebrated the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Human Rights Charter.

But perhaps his greatest success has come with Blue Flame (ARK21, 2001), where he leads his group, Qantara, on a labyrinthian journey through the world of fusion music to discover the heart of the Middle East. The album has been nominated for eleven Grammy Awards, and the band’s performances have been called “glorious.”

A Palestinian, born in the village of Tarshiha in the Galilee, Shaheen’s childhood was steeped in music. His father, Hikmat Shaheen, was a professor of music and a master ‘oud player. “Learning to play on the ‘oud from my father was the most powerful influence in my musical life,” Shaheen recalls. He began playing on the ‘oud at the age of five, and a year later studying violin at the Conservatory for Western Classical Music in Haifa. “When I held and played these instruments, they felt like an extension of my arms.”

During the Clinton administration, Shaheen served on the Presidential Committee at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Recently, he was honored by Governor Corzine with the New Jersey Heritage Award and by Berklee College of Music in Boston for his many contributions to the advancement of international understanding, goodwill and education.

Early in 2009, Shaheen toured with his project, “Aswat,” in the USA performing in twelve top concert halls. The tour included four leading traditional singers from the Arab World as well as an ensemble of twenty musicians. “Aswat” reflected on film music from the first half of the 20th century particularly in Egypt and Lebanon. He also has been touring and performing his oud concerto, which was commissioned by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and premiered in Detroit in October of 2008.

Shaheen founded the Annual Arabic Music Retreat in 1997. Held each summer at Mount Holyoke College, this weeklong intensive program of Arabic music studies draws participants from the U.S. and abroad. In Palestine, Shaheen conducts an annual weeklong music workshop designed for gifted children.

For the past six years, though, Shaheen has focused on Qantara. The band, whose name means arch in Arabic, brings to life Shaheen’s vision for the unbridled fusion of Arab, jazz, Western classical, and Latin American music, a perfect alchemy for music to transcend the boundaries of genre and geography.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Jewish Voice for Peace and UN Recognition of Palestinian Statehood

Jewish Voice for Peace is a coalition member of the US Campaign. Learn more here about our coalition's actions and positions on Palestinian UN membership and statehood.


From Jesse Bacon's blog at jewishvoiceforpeace.org

Joel Beinin
For a more in-depth statement by Joel Benin, a long-time JVP member who is the Donald J. Maclachlan Professor of Middle Eastern History at Stanford University, click here.

Jewish Voice for Peace supports the Palestinian people’s struggle to fulfill their aspirations and secure their internationally recognized rights to freedom, national self-determination, justice, and equality. We regard any non-violent tactic as a legitimate tool in this struggle. Palestinians have the right to freedom from Israeli occupation, justice for Palestinian refugees, and equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has affirmed that this September, at the United Nations General Assembly, it will seek a vote on international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and admission as a full member of the United Nations.

While 100 countries already recognize Palestine as a state, the question of pressing for UN membership remains controversial among Palestinians. Some support the move as historic and others believe such a vote is either purely symbolic or may sacrifice important Palestinian claims.

Jewish Voice for Peace believes that such a vote, even if it were to pass, would not change facts on the ground or suddenly create a Palestinian state. Regardless of what happens at the UN, the lives of ordinary Palestinian people and the ongoing massive violations of their human rights will remain at the forefront of our concerns.

That said, we do believe the campaign for Palestinian statehood has and can catalyze an important global conversation about the fundamental Palestinian right to self-determination, and the United States’ and Israel’s ongoing role in thwarting that right.

The PA’s decision to bring the case for statehood to the United Nations after years of frustration with so-called peace talks has highlighted the fact that the US-brokered “peace process” has actually helped entrench the occupation. It has equally underscored the reality that Israel’s current Prime Minister has absolutely no intention of stopping settlement expansion.

Further, Israeli and US efforts to weaken or stop a UN vote that in no way is anti-Israel, including US Congress’ threat to withhold millions in aid should the PA push for the vote, and the US affirmation that it will veto it if it goes to the UN Security Council, reveal the obstructive role the United States continues to play in the region— contributing to further injustice and bloodshed that threatens both Palestinians and Israelis.

Finally, we believe that the vote, and the conversation it is engendering among those who believe it’s time for Palestinians to finally achieve their freedom, should be understood in the context of a series of milestones that all point towards an acceleration of the decades old movement for justice.
These milestones include the unexpected rise of the Arab Spring, the rapid growth of the Palestinian nonviolent resistant movement inside of the West Bank, and the growing successes of the global nonviolent solidarity actions in the form of the Gaza flotilla and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). These, coupled with Israel’s increasingly controversial and anti-democratic measures, which are all adding to its sense of isolation and pressure, all mark a hopeful shift in the decades old movement for justice for Palestinians.

ARTICLE CONTINUES...

CODEPINK Tells Rep Berman it's time to Free Palestine!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Media Release: 125+ Groups & 25,000+ Individuals: "Don't Veto Palestinian UN Membership"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 5, 2011

Washington, DC -- The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation delivered today to the State Department an open letter signed by more than 125 groups, including 30 national organizations, and petitions signed by more than 25,000 people urging the Obama Administration not to veto Palestinian UN membership if the issue arises in the Security Council.

National organizations Code Pink, Grassroots International, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Just Foreign Policy contributed petition signatures to the overall count. 

The open letter reads in part:

"Palestinians have been prevented from exercising their rights to freedom and self-determination on even a portion of their historic homeland due to Israel's historic and ongoing policies of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, military occupation, and colonization... Palestinians have waited more than 63 years for their human rights. We urge you—do not set a timetable for Palestinian freedom by vetoing Palestinian membership in the United Nations."

Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign, stated that:

"The American people are ahead of the administration in recognizing that our policy towards the region has failed. Even though the State Department has been unwilling to meet with us yet, we have made clear to the Obama Administration that thousands of people across this country, and a diverse and growing coalition of organizations representing hundreds of thousands more will continue to organize until we end unconditional U.S. support for Israel's illegal military occupation and apartheid policies toward Palestinians. Through our efforts, the U.S. government will realize what so many people already know: that the way to achieve a just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace is to base our country's policies on human rights, international law, and equality, and not to deny Palestinians freedom and self-determination."

Other national organizations endorsing the open letter include: the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Educational Trust, American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine, American Jews for a Just Peace, American Muslims for Palestine, Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine-Israel Network, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Friends of Sabeel—North America ,Global Exchange, Interfaith Peace-Builders, Intersect Worldwide, Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A.), Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)—USA, Middle East Children's Alliance, Paulist Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, Peace Action, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship,  Progressive Democrats of America, Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice , Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East, United for Peace and Justice,  United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, U.S. Peace Council, and War Resisters League.

For the complete text of the open letter and the complete list of organizational endorsements, click here.

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is a national coalition of more than 350 organizations working to change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights, international law, and equality. For more information see www.endtheoccupation.org.

###

Rally and March to the UN, Thursday, September 15th


Palestinians Tell the World:
Sovereignty Means Securing ALL Our Rights!

Palestinians everywhere are mobilizing to remind the world of their right to self-determination. In New York we are marching to the UN because the world’s attention is focused on the vote on Palestine scheduled to take place there.

For over six decades, the UN has approved numerous resolutions promising Palestinians their basic rights, none of which have been implemented. We come to the UN to demand: Sovereignty, Equality, and the Right of Return for Palestinians NOW!

Rally and March to the UN, Thursday, September 15th!
End All US Aid to Israel!
End the Occupation!
Support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions!

4:30 pm: Gather at Times Square
5:30 pm: March to Grand Central and then over to the UN, as we say:
For more information, email palestineun@gmail.com

Sponsored by the Palestine UN Solidarity Coalition

Endorsed by: WESPAC, American Muslims for Palestine, Al-Awda NY, United National Antiwar Coalition, Adalah-NY, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, International Socialist Organization, Middle East Crisis Response, Women in Black Union Square, Women Against Military Madness: Mideast Committee, Minneapolis, Coalition for Palestinian Rights, Minneapolis, Labor for Palestine, New York City Labor Against the War

Interfaith Peace-Builders: Statement of the African Heritage Delegation

Interfaith Peace-Builders is a coalition member of the US Campaign.

Click here to download the statement as a PDF

Click here for video of delegation participants presenting statement and observations at Washington DC Press Briefing

August 2, 2011

We, the members of the Interfaith Peace Builders’ first African Heritage Delegation, participated in a study tour to Palestine/Israel, July 16-29, 2011.

The delegation consisted of seven men and seven women from 25 to 73 years of age who came from different parts of the U.S. — the West Coast, the East Coast, New England, the Midwest and the South.  The group included teachers, professors, college administrators, human rights activists, and ministers and lay leaders from both Christian and Islamic faith traditions.  Our primary mission was to listen and to learn about the impact of the Israeli Occupation upon the lives and livelihood of Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel as well as those who have been dispersed throughout the world.

Many of us have worked in support of civil and human rights in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, the anti-apartheid movement, the Haiti solidarity movement, and anti-war movements against U.S. wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. For 11 of us, the tour was our first trip to Palestine/Israel.

Because of our experience of fighting racism and exploitation in the United States, we are united in our support for civil and human rights of all peoples of the world.  Before going on the delegation, we had an intellectual understanding of the impact of the Israeli Occupation on Palestinian people but we wanted to get a first-hand account from members of Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations, faith-based groups, civil society and grassroots organizations.

Based on our observations and discussions with Palestinians and Israelis, we have come to the following conclusions:
  1. The Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of the Gaza Strip are in direct violation of international laws and several United Nations Resolutions;
  2. The Occupation has led to the physical, psychological and spiritual oppression of Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel, as well as the forced expulsion of millions of Palestinians from their homes, farms, businesses and their homeland;
  3. In addition to the illegal occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government, many Israeli businesses and wide swaths of Israeli society discriminate against Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and against Mizrahi Jews (Jews of Arab descent) who are citizens of Israel;
  4. The Israeli Occupation and the suppression of Palestinian rights conform to the United Nations definition of Apartheid.
As a result of our findings and conclusions, we adopted the following resolutions:
  1. We call on African Americans and all people of good will to support an end to the Occupation, including the removal of all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the dismantling of the apartheid wall; the end to the military and economic blockade of the Gaza Strip; the granting of full equality to all Palestinian citizens and Mizrahi Jewish citizens of Israel; and the recognition and realization of the right of return for Palestinian refugees and internally displaced Palestinians.
  2. We call for the humane treatment of Palestinian children and adults in the custody of the Israeli Defense Forces and Israeli Police; the release of all political prisoners; and an end to indefinite detentions without trial.
  3. We call for the United States government to cease its military aid of $3 billion of our tax dollars annually to Israel, which, in the name of security, is used to further oppress, harass, maim and kill Palestinians.
  4. We endorse the international campaign calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel in support of Palestinian freedom, justice and equality.
  5. We call on U.S. citizens to join an Interfaith Peace Builders delegation and travel to Palestine/Israel to learn about the impact of the Occupation firsthand.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. told us, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  We believe in the indivisibility of our human rights and those of Palestinians and all oppressed peoples.  We will not rest until all of humanity is free.

African Heritage Delegation Members:
Queen Adams - Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia
Avery Blakeney - Washington, DC
Carolyn L. Boyd - Alexandria, Virginia
Gloria Brown - Streetsboro, Ohio
Jesse Hagopian - Seattle, Washington
Oscar Harrell - Sudbury, Massachusetts
Keith Harvey - Wareham, Massachusetts
Trina Jackson - Decatur, Georgia
Gerald Lenoir - Berkeley, California
Michael Nettles - College Park, Maryland
Sterling Pack - Marriottsville, Maryland
Mark Pollard - Atlanta, Georgia
Raheemah Raheem - Tulsa, Oklahoma
Paula Watts - Fort Washington, Maryland

Media Contact:
Jacob Pace, Interfaith Peace-Builders staff
415-240-4607
media [a] ifpb [dot] org

You’re invited to a special benefit concert with Simon Shaheen, world-renowned oud player!

Our 10th Annual National Organizers' Conference in Washington, DC, this September 16-19 is swiftly approaching.  Register and pay by August 19 to receive the "Early Bird" discount registration price of $100. Registration will increase to $125 after August 19.

Simon ShaheenWe will be marking our coalition's 10th annual conference with a special benefit concert with world-renowned violinist and oud player, Simon Shaheen, Saturday, September 17, at 8:30pm at All Souls Church in Washington, DC!

A Palestinian born in the village of Tarshiha in the Galilee, Shaheen began playing the oud at the age of five, and a year later began studying violin at the Conservatory for Western Classical Music in Haifa. Shaheen has become one of the most significant Arab musicians of his generation. His soaring technique and melodic ingenuity fuse together traditional Arabic music, jazz, and Western classical styles.

All proceeds from this benefit concert directly support the work of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

Purchase your seat today for a unique opportunity to listen to the musical works of world renowned violinist and oudist, Simon Shaheen in Washington, DC on Saturday, September 17! 

Full conference registrants receive free admission to this very special benefit concert. Register for the full conference today!

Member groups in good standing are encouraged to host a workshop at the US Campaign conference. And if your member group is working on an initiative and would like the endorsement of the US Campaign coalition, please submit a proposal.  Workshops and proposals must be submitted by August 19.

Please check the 10th Annual National Organizers' Conference website regularly as we update our list of featured speakers, to learn more about local logistics in Washington, and to get information for our hotel room block at the Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel.

We look forward to seeing you in September!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Work With Us to Seek Justice


Shakeel Syed, Grace Said, and Rabbi Brian Walt
Above from left:
Shakeel Syed, Grace Said, Rabbi Brian Walt


We, leaders in the Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities, write to you at the start of the month of Ramadan, a time when practicing Muslims deepen their spiritual experience. Among other virtues, empathy toward the oppressed and the indigent is especially exercised.

At the end of August, Jews begin a 40-day period of repentance, when we examine our wrongdoing, concluding on the holiest day of the Jewish year, the fast of Yom Kippur. On that day Jews read the words of the prophet Isaiah: "This is the fast that God desires: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, to share your bread with the hungry, to take the wretched poor into your home."

Christians often turn to fasting and repentance as a spiritual discipline in the face of injustice that draws one closer to God and to one's neighbor suffering from injustice. Think of Cesar Chavez's fast for justice for farm workers and Witness Against Torture's fasts to protest detention and torture at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.  

This Ramadan we express our empathy with the Palestinians' decades-long quest for freedom, and work together to help end U.S. support for Israel's denial of Palestinian human rights.


As faith leaders active in interfaith alliances, we urge you to please include the US Campaign in your special giving this Ramadan and in the coming seasons of Jewish and Christian celebrations.

The US Campaign is the only national coalition that brings together a diverse membership of nearly 360 groups and 50,000 individuals to work for change in U.S. policy.

Breaking the fast with family and friends is a centuries-old tradition that Muslims around the world are able to celebrate. But many Palestinian Muslims cannot. Their families and friends are dispersed across the globe, prevented by Israel from returning to their homes and lands.

Many cannot even break their fast (Iftar) at sunset with loved ones from neighboring villages and towns bisected by Israel's Apartheid Wall and roads, and by hundreds of checkpoints. And the Palestinians of Gaza have had year-round "fasting" imposed on them by Israel's draconian siege, now in its sixth year.

Muslims traditionally give charity (zakat) to the poor in the blessed month of Ramadan. Palestinian Muslims give too, but most have been forced into dependency on foreign aid, either by Israel's blockade of Gaza or by the tight border controls around all occupied Palestinian territories. Still others are deprived by Israel's rejection of the refugees' right of return -- in violation of international law.

Working together through our nationwide coalition, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, we can help change U.S. policy and break the long fast for Palestinian freedom.

Our three traditions -- Islam, Judaism and Christianity -- all uphold justice. No religion's faithful want to see injustice done in any part of the world, and especially not for so long in a land so dear to our three faiths. We salute the commitment by people of faith from all over the world to support freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people.  

Please donate now, and help us to work for U.S. policy that ends our country's support for Israel's denial of Palestinian freedom and human rights.


Shakeel Syed
Steering Committee
Member
US Campaign
Grace Said
Board Member
Friends of Sabeel
North America
Rabbi Brian Walt
Co-coordinator
Jewish Fast for Gaza