Friday, September 30, 2011

The Young Jewish Declaration

Following is a great new video by Young Jewish and Proud, the youth wing of Jewish Voice for Peace.  The video also includes members of Earlham BDS and CODEPINK.


“How do we reach Jewish young people?” has long been one of the central mantras of the organized Jewish community – as those of us who work as Jewish professionals can surely attest. But while we wring our hands over the state of the Jewish future, a remarkable new generation of Jews has been knocking insistently at our door.
Case in point:
Almost one year ago, five young Jews disrupted the keynote speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Jewish Federation General Assembly in New Orleans. One by one, at five different points during the speech, the activists stood on their chairs, unfurled banners and shouted out in turn:
Young Jews say the settlements delegitimize Israel!
Young Jews say the Occupation delegitimizes Israel!
Young Jews say the siege of Gaza delegitimizes Israel
Young Jews say the loyalty oath delegitimizes Israel!
Young Jews say silencing dissent delegitimizes Israel!
With each successive interruption the shouts from the crowd grew louder and angrier. As security attempted to safely walk them out, one protester was put in a choke hold by a convention attendee and wrestled to the floor. Another conventioneer grabbed a banner and tore it in half with his teeth.
At the very same moment, “Young, Jewish, Proud” launched its website, featuring the “Young Jewish Declaration” – an astonishing statement of purpose that seemed to come directly from the collective heart, mind and gut of this newly-formed youth movement:



Learn more about Young Jewish and Proud here.

What is Next for Palestinian Reconciliation and the United Nations Bid?


Mouin Rabbani, an independent analyst of Palestine and Israel, shares his thoughts on the Palestinian bid for statehood in the United Nations and a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation.  View two recorded interviews he did this month below.





Mouin Rabbani  is a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies (IPS) in Washington DC.  He is an independent Middle East-based analyst specializing on Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict

He shared his initial thoughts on the UN initiative in this Palestine Studies TV video in mid-September.  He also penned short responses to the speeches by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in front of the United Natiosn General Assembly.
   
He will be in Washington, DC until October 9th and can speak at events or make media appearances. To book Rabbani, email us or call him directly at:


Invitation to Historic National Students for Justice in Palestine Conference

Below is an invitation to students around the country to attend the historic national Students for Justice in Palestine conference next month at Columbia University. Students attending and organizing the conference represent SJPs around the country, including several US Campaign member groups. 



National SJP Conference
14-16 Oct 2011
Columbia University
Dear Students,
It is with great pleasure that we invite you to the 2011 National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) Conference at Columbia University in the City of New York from 14-16 October 2011.
Over the past couple of months, a number of student activists from SJPs and other student groups focused on Palestine from around the country have been laying the foundations for a national SJP conference to be held in Fall 2011. This group emerged from a discussion which took place on the national SJP listserv and has met a number of times via teleconference.
The objective of this conference is to democratically shape and refine the existing network of SJP groups in the United States, building on the momentum these groups have generated in recent years and strengthening the historical movement of which we are all a part.
This conference is specifically geared towards current student Palestine solidarity activists, including current students actively involved in, or looking to establish, a SJP group or a similar Palestine solidarity student group, as well as alumni actively involved in assisting their former SJP group.
To succeed the planning of this conference needs to be a democratic process involving as many students as possible, and we hope you will become involved. We are confident that this conference will provide a momentous opportunity for students across the United States who are mobilizing for justice in Palestine to exchange ideas and to strengthen the national student movement.
Sincerely,
The Ad Hoc National SJP Conference Planning Committee

To register for the conference, click here.


QUARTET FIDDLES WHILE PALESTINE BURNS - BOYCOTT THE JERUSALEM STRING QUARTET!

US Campaign member group USACBI has issued a call to action this week as the Jerusalem String Quartet prepares for its North American Tour this October.

Join a local protest or organize your local action – contact us at: usacbi@usacbi.org!
The Jerusalem String Quartet is embarking on a North American tour from October 2-16, 2011 (visiting Vancouver, BC; Costa Mesa, CA; Tucson, AZ; Logan, UT; Downers Grove, a Chicago suburb, IL; Houston, TX; Toronto, ON; West Lafayette, IN; and Louisville, KY). The Quartet, a premier Israeli musical institution and a project of the Jerusalem Music Centre, has been protested by Palestine solidarity and Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) activists around the world during its tours over the years.
The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel is calling for boycotts and protests of the Jerusalem String Quartet at all of its performance locations during its North American tour, in accordance with the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and the call for the boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New York Times' Ethan Bronner suddenly sounds like us!


The following excerpt is from an editorial on page A10 of today's edition of the New York Times. It comes under the headline "Israelis Happy at Home but Glum About Peace," and it sounds surprisingly agreeable -- given Ethan Bronner's usual point of view -- to what the US Campaign has been insisting for weeks in our efforts to mobilize grassroots opposition against the Obama Administration's obstruction of Palestinian UN membership...
Bronner
"...The sense over the past two years that President Obama was growing angry with Israel and steering American policy away from its interests subsided last week. The parts of Mr. Obama’s United Nations speech about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could have been written by any official here. It said nothing about Israeli settlements, the 1967 lines, occupation or Palestinian suffering, focusing instead on Israel’s defense needs.
Avigdor Lieberman, the hawkish foreign minister, said afterward that he would be happy to sign Mr. Obama’s speech “with both hands.”
SEE FULL ARTICLE... 

"We Stand With the Irvine 11"


Following the convictions of the students known as the "Irvine 11" this past week, over thirty chapters nationwide of Students for Justice in Palestine have signed on to a message of support for the Irvine 11.  The students were arrested in February 2010 and charged with “conspiracy to disrupt a public meeting” and “disruption of a public meeting,” after interrupting a speech by Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren.

Sign on to the pledge here.

We Stand With the Irvine 11

"Ordinarily, a person leaving a courtroom with a conviction behind him
would wear a somber face.  But I left with a smile.  I knew that I was a
convicted criminal, but I was proud of my crime. It was the crime of joining
my people in a nonviolent protest against injustice."


-Martin Luther King, Jr. (Case No. 7399, convicted of violating the state
of Alabama's anti-boycott law, March 22, 1956, from "Stride Toward
Freedom: the Montgomery Story".)

We join our voices with the unjustly charged and convicted Irvine 11, who
dared to draw attention to Israel‚s war crimes. Orange County District
Attorney, Tony Rackauckus, has punished students who care about the world
enough to try to change it. The 11 students refused to remain silent when
Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren spoke at the University of California,
Irvine in February 2010. Their brief outbursts, at best representing
protected First Amendment speech and at worst harmless civil disobedience,
have led to McCarthyistic misdemeanor charges. On September 23, 2011, an
Orange Country jury found them guilty.





We unequivocally condemn these charges, which unfairly single out and
criminalize Muslim students who chose to exercise their First Amendment
right to speak out against Israel’s human rights abuses. Had the speaker not
been Israeli, had the issue not been Palestine, had the students not been
Muslim, these charges never would have been pursued. Rather, these charges
reflect a climate of Islamophobia and an irrational exceptionalism for
Israel when it comes to free speech. The charges chill the free exchange of
ideas and students‚ right to protest at universities nationwide.

CU-Divest! delivers 2000+ signature to CU Regents!


US Campaign member group CU-Divest! presented a petition with over two thousand signatures asking the university to divest.  Read more about the group's efforts here, or visit the group's website: CU-Divest!

by Michael Rabb

A week ago on September 12th, CU-Divest! at the Regents’ meeting at UC Denver, delivered our petition asking the University of Colorado to divest from Israeli Apartheid.  I count this action as one of our major successes.  Thanks to Beth Daud and her determined group of campus activists and the folks who drove down from Boulder, we had “good” showing with signs and flyers and this time I think we had the Regents’ attention.  We handed out our flyer requesting the Regents to support our campaign and sign our petition.  The flyer highlights a campaign that was successful in the 1980s in compelling CU to divest from South African apartheid. 

In public comment segment of the meeting we made our appeal to the Regents to divest from Israeli apartheid. In addition, we delivered our petition with over 2000 signatures, making the argument that CU should not remain complicit in Israel’s oppression by profiting from the illegal an immoral occupation and apartheid.

After we spoke, the opposition, from the ADL and CU’s Hillel student made a few comments:  mostly about how complicated the Israel-Palestine conflict is, and that human rights and social justice are not the purview of CU, and it’s none of CU’s business what Israel does to the Palestinian people.

Then a marvelous thing happened: Regent Jim Geddes turned to the Treasurer of the University of Colorado, Donald Eldhart, and asked the Treasurer to explain the process for divestment and to provide some history of other divestment actions.  This was significant because for the first time in the six months that CU-Divest! has been communicating with and petitioning the University, the Regents have indicated an interest in our campaign.

A short discussion with the Treasurer and other Regents including Regent Michael Carrigan ensued regarding divestment process and history, specifically when CU divested from Sudan’s genocide in 2006.  So I count this as a success and important milestone in our effort to engage the University on the issue of Palestinian rights and our campaign to ask the University to divest from Israeli apartheid.

Protest Video and Petitions Delivered! Thousands tell National Building Museum: No Award to Caterpillar Inc.!

US Campaign member group, the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, along with the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Jewish Voice for Peace, CODEPINK, and the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace, celebrated a victory earlier this month when the National Building Museum announced its cancellation of the ceremony to award Caterpillar, Inc. with an award for "innovation in building technology" and "exceptional leadership," following a campaign which gathered more than 7,000 signatures. However, the National Building Museum did not rescind the award itself, prompting protesters to demonstrate outside the museum when Cindy and Craig Corrie delivered the petition, as described below in an account from the Rachel Corrie Foundation... Make sure to check out the video!


Earlier this month we convinced the National Building Museum (NBM) in Washington DC to cancel its September 14th public ceremony to award its prestigious Henry C. Turner Prize to Caterpillar Inc. Then last week, acting on behalf of the Rachel Corrie Foundation, we and representatives of Jewish Voice for Peace, Code Pink, the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace, and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (a coalition of more than 350 organizations) held a protest outside the F Street museum entrance. We sang, chanted, flyered, and chatted with the public. We then entered the Museum's lofty Great Hall to deliver the call from 150 regional, national, and international organizations and more than 7000 individuals to rescind the prize to Caterpillar Inc. completely. 
Petition Delivery and Action at the National Building Museum
Petition Delivery and Action at the National Building Museum
Video courtesy of Bill Simonds, JVP - DC Metro Chapter  
We met with Museum Development Events Manager Jessie Cochran. She promised to deliver our petitions to the Museum's Executive Director, Chase Rynd, along with our requests to consider the human rights records of future award candidates and to use the museum's public forums to discuss the built environment during conflict and occupation.

...This small but public victory is just one indicator of how together we are bringing Palestinian human rights front and center and making a difference. Once again, we have exposed the complicity of Caterpillar Inc. in the ongoing violations of these rights by the Israeli military and government in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel. 



Continue reading here...

Click here to find out more about the BDS Campaign against Caterpillar.

Flash mob in El Cerrito, CA Bed Bath & Beyond protests Soda Stream

A flash mob in an El Cerrito, CA branch of Bed Bath & Beyond this month protested the store's sales of Soda Stream, a soft drink product made in an illegal settlement with exploited Palestinian labor.


The approximately two dozen protesters wore shirts emblazoned with ""Boycott Israel 'til Palestine is Free," and sang and chanted in the Bed Bath & Beyond before moving outside to march and hand out fliers.  The store called the police, who declined to interfere, saying the protesters would leave soon without causing harm.  The flash mob included several members of US Campaign ember groups such as NorCal Friends of Sabeel, Bay Area Jewish Voice for Peace and CODEPINK.

A video of the Bed Bath & Beyond flash mob can be seen here:


Read about other activities of our member groups here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

BDS campaigners force London Ahava shop to move


The BDS movement celebrates another victory this week as the Israeli cosmetics company Ahava is forced to move its London location.  Read more about the boycott of Ahava here.


The central London flagship store of Ahava, an Israeli cosmetics company whose products come from stolen Palestinian natural resources in the occupied West Bank, and are produced in the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, has been forced to move following a sustained campaign from BDS activists.
A spokeswoman for Shaftesbury PLC, which owns the property that the shop is currently located in, told the Jewish Chronicle: “When Ahava’s lease expires in September, we will not offer them a new one.”
Demonstrations have been taking place outside the shop every fortnight since March 13 2010, following a call to action from the Bil’in’s Popular Committee. The first action against Ahava took place in January 2009.
The news first came to light last week during a court case resulting from the fifth successful blockade of the shop in November.
Ahava has vowed to open a new shop elsewhere in London. Campaigners have vowed to continue the campaign.
Visit www.bdsmovement.net for more information. 

Print email Get breaking news text alerts Suit aimed at ending Olympia co-op's year-old ban on selling Israeli goods


Olympia Food Co-op, which has participated in a boycott of Israeli goods since mid-2010, is now facing a lawsuit from five co-op members.  Read more about the Olympia Food Co-op boycott here.
A PDF of the Charge Sheet can be seen here.
Five people have filed a civil lawsuit alleging that the Olympia Food Co-op’s boycott of Israeli products at its two stores in July 2010 was unfair and violated its own rules and bylaws.
The lawsuit names five plaintiffs who are or were co-op members at the time of the boycott: Kent and Linda Davis, Jeffrey and Susan Trinin, and Susan Mayer. Sixteen past and present board members are named as defendants.
The suit states that the co-op’s rules require the board to make decisions by consensus, and that not all members had agreed to the boycott. It also claims that the proposed boycott was not “nationally recognized.”
The co-op’s policy allows it to “honor nationally recognized boycotts which are called for reasons that are compatible with (OFC’s) goals and mission statement,” the suit states. No other U.S. food co-op has adopted a similar boycott, it states.
Israeli products removed from the Olympia stores include gluten-free crackers, ice cream cones and a moisturizing cream, according to a former board member. Board member T.J. Johnson, who is named as a defendant in the suit, said Wednesday that he could not comment on the lawsuit because he has not seen it. An employee said Wednesday that the co-op’s staff board representative was unavailable for comment.

CONTINUE READING HERE

Orchestra suspends four musicians who opposed Israeli musicians' concert


Following the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra's (IPO) performance in London this month, four musicians have been suspended from the London Philharmonic Orchestra for speaking out against the performance.  The IPO performance was interrupted by Beethovians for Boycotting Israel (BBI), and footage of the demonstrations outside the performance can be viewed here.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra has suspended four musicians for nine months for using its name when they called unsuccessfully for the cancellation of a concert by an Israeli orchestra at the Proms.
The move follows the indefinite suspension of an unnamed LPO violinist after she allegedly launched an anti-Israel "rant" when Israeli musicians appeared at the Royal College of Music before the concert at the Royal Albert Hall earlier this month.
Tim Walker of the London Philharmonic Orchestra
. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian
In a statement, Tim Walker, the LPO's chief executive, and Martin Hohmann, its chairman, said the suspensions sent "a strong and clear message that their actions will not be tolerated … the orchestra would never restrict the right of its players to express themselves freely, however such expression has to be independent of the LPO itself.
"The company has no wish to end the careers of four talented musicians but … for the LPO, music and politics do not mix."
They added that the orchestra had no political or religious affiliations and strongly believed in the power of music to bring peace and harmony to the world, not war, terror and discord.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Two Opportunities to Learn about Palestine UN Membership Bid

Join the US Campaign this week for two opportunities to learn more about Palestine's UN membership bid.

Tonight, Wednesday, September 21, 8-9pm join us at Georgetown University for a panel discussion with National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner, Noura Erakat, and Mouin Rabbani, sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine and the Lecture Fund.


Video streaming by Ustream
Streaming video by Ustream

Palestine’s Statehood Bid: Implications on the Peace Process
Wednesday, September 21st
8:00pm to 9:00pm
ICC 104

Join Students for Justice in Palestine and the Lecture Fund for a panel discussion of the Palestinian statehood bid and its consequences with an international human rights law expert, an advocacy director, and a journalist.

Speakers: Noura Erakat, Josh Ruebner, Mouin Rabbani

If you can't make it to Georgetown tonight, or live outside of the Washington, DC area, tune in for a livestream broadcast of the panel at: http://www.endtheoccupation.org

Then on Thursday, September 22, you're invited to a conference call with National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner, organized by US Campaign member group Jewish Fast for Gaza to discuss the Palestine UN membership bid. Details below:

Our September phone conference will be on Thursday, September 22 at 12 noon Eastern Time (Call in number: 800-920-7487 Code: 92247763# ) with Josh Ruebner and we hope you will join us. There is a lot of misinformation about the Palestinian U.N. initiative. The call will be an opportunity to discuss the meaning of the U.N. initiative, to explore its implications, and also to find out more about the U.S. Campaign's position on this and other related issues.

Ruebner is a former Analyst in Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service, a federal government agency providing Members of Congress with policy analysis. His analysis and commentary on U.S. policy toward the Middle East appear frequently in media such as NBC, ABC Nightline, CSPAN, Al Jazeera, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, The Hill, Detroit Free Press, Huffington Post, Middle East Report, and more. You can read articles by Ruebner and related articles on the U.N. initiative on our website.

We hope you will join us for this important conversation. There will be time for questions and answers.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NY Times Blogs about Ads to End Military Aid to Israel

In yesterday's New York Times blog City Room, Clyde Haberman notes that:
For the past two weeks, billboards in 18 subway stations have carried posters calling on the United States to end its military assistance to Israel, which comes to about $3 billion a year. The advertisements, sponsored by a group called Two Peoples One Future, show Israelis and Palestinians beneath these words: “Be on our side — we are on the side of peace and justice.”

Haberman notes that various political advertisements have been censored in the NYC subway before, but states:
At least with these subway posters, the transportation authority dug in its heels. “It’s a First Amendment issue, obviously,” said Kevin Ortiz, an authority spokesman. Obviously.

Add your comment to the blog entry. You can note that according to our website www.aidtoisrael.org, NYC residents are being asked to fork over $1.75 billion of federal taxes in weapons to Israel between 2009 and 2018.

Learn more about how to bring this ad to your city by visiting "Be On Our Side," a project of US Campaign member group the Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

MRTI reports on engagement with companies doing business in Israel-Palestine

The Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment of the Presbyterian Church has recommended that the Church add three companies to its divestment list including Caterpillar and Motorola.  Read more about Caterpillar hereand Motorola here.


At its meeting on September 9, the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) approved its report to the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on its engagement with corporations doing business in Israel-Palestine. As part of its regular process of corporate engagement, and based on directives given to it by each General Assembly since 2004, the committee recommended that three companies be added to the General Assembly divestment list: Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions.


“The General Assembly asked us to do everything we could to bring about change through dialogue, and we have done this, even asking the Assembly for more time over the years,” said committee chair the Rev. Brian Ellison, a pastor from Kansas City, Mo. “Today we are sadly reporting that these efforts have not produced any substantive change in company policies or practices, and that there is little reason for hope they will do so in the future. According to the Assembly’s prior directives and the church’s ordinary engagement process, we have little choice but to recommend divestment.”

Palestinian civil society welcomes Agrexco liquidation, calls for celebration of this BDS victory


The BDS movement celebrates a victory this week as Agrexo, a partially state-owIsraeli produce export company, is forced to liquidate.  Much of their produce is grown in illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

For Immediate Release – September 12, 2011


Campaigners for Palestinian rights are celebrating after the primary Israeli agricultural produce export company Agrexco, which has been a key target of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in support of Palestinian rights, has been ordered into liquidation after being unable to pay its creditors.
Agrexco is a partially state-owned Israeli exporter responsible for the export of a large proportion of fresh Israeli produce, including 60-70% of the agricultural produce grown in Israel’s illegal settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).  In a translation of the court documents on the liquidation process that the BNC obtained, it is clearly stated that Agrexco acted as an arm of the Israeli state, effectively providing state subsidies to the agricultural sector. The documents indicate criticism of the government for allowing the company to default on its debts and also warn that Agrexco is a primary Israeli symbol and that its downfall is likely to have great implications.


An Open Letter from Gaza to Julio Iglesias: Don’t Entertain Apartheid Again!


The following is an excerpt from an open letter composed by the One State Democratic Group urging performer Julio Iglesias to heed the call for a cultural boycott of Israel.
Besieged Gaza,
Occupied Palestine,
13.9.2011
Dear Julio Iglesias,
We, youth and students of the Gaza Ghetto, entrenched and surrounded by Israeli Gunships, Snipers, Jeeps, F16s and Merkava tanks at every turn, are saddened to see that once again, you will entertain an apartheid regime, and ignore the horrors Israel is inflicting on us.
This is not the first time an oppressed group has called on you to heed calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions of apartheid.
Those in the South African apartheid liberation struggle described you then as one to, “have chosen to make profit in a land of exploitation and misery instead of taking a stand on principle and foregoing blood money.”[1]

You performed twice in the infamous Sun City of South Africa in 1983 and 1984. Your claims to have had “a child with a colored woman" and to "sing duet with Diana Ross who is colored"[2] were unacceptable excuses and no similar excuses will see us Palestinians forget your turning your back on our call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of apartheid Israel. By performing in Israel you directly contravene the 2005 Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) [3], that has been heeded by international artists and writers such as Elvis Costello, the Pixies, Carlos Santana, Annie Lennox, Gorillaz, John Berger, Adrienne Rich, Massive Attack, Faithless, Gill Scot-Heron, Devendra Banart, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Meg Ryan, Arundati Roy and many others, who have put equality, anti-racism and the will of the oppressed against the appearance money and adulation. Adulation from, in this case, many young people who have served in the Israeli Occupation Forces that occupy and control us and our land, bomb our  villages and destroy or steal our houses, olive groves and—more importantly—our human dignity.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sacramento food co-op becomes battleground over Israeli products

Members of the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op are pushing for a boycott of Israeli goods within the store.  The Co-op's members will soon vote on the issue.  Read about similar boycott efforts at food co-ops here.


September 9, 2011


Democrats and Republicans may quarrel at the Capitol a few miles away, but here they break gluten-free bread, munch on kale chips and sip acai juice in blissful bipartisan harmony: "Peace, love and granola," said Republican strategist Donna Lucas, a proud co-op member.

But now politics has intruded on their sanctuary.

A small band of members pushed the co-op board to strip store shelves of Israeli-made items, arguing that Israelrepresses its Palestinian population and the co-op should take a stand. They collected signatures and demanded a referendum on the issue, but the board said no. So the activists launched a campaign to take over some board seats. Votes will be tallied Saturday.

Susan Bush, one of the rebel board candidates, says the battle is about more than Israel. The co-op is suppressing voices, acting corporate, she says. Soon it could be "selling Coca-Cola, for God's sake."

The co-op's political elite has responded in rare bipartisan form and with all the trappings of a full-on electoral fight: membership drives, a get-out-the-vote operation, a Facebookpage, even phone banks.

"We know how to do elections," said Barry Broad, a Democrat and blue-chip union lobbyist by day, socks-and-sandals co-op member by night.

The brick-walled cooperative, with more than 12,000 member-owners, traces its roots back nearly four decades. It twice outgrew its confines and then landed in a quiet east Sacramento neighborhood in 1989. But with only about 50 parking spaces and $26 million in annual sales, it's almost bursting at the seams again.

Inside are floor-to-ceiling collections of rice cakes and vegan fare. The poultry comes fattened onvegetarian feed. The stuff can be pricey, but people aren't here looking for bargains.

Standing in the wellness aisle, general manager Paul Cultrera couldn't remember which Dead Sea bath salts were which. Some are evaporated in Jordan, he explains. Those aren't troublesome. The ones dredged on the Israeli side are.

Cultrera said revenue from Israeli-produced goods is a relatively meager $15,000 annually. The products include ice cream cones (gluten-free, organic and vegan), two types of matzo and, during the Jewish holidays, some kosher wine.

Outside, the protesters and the political pros have been squaring off for months. On a warm summer day, protesters lined the sidewalk, tambourines in tow, making their case to the tune of "This Land Is Your Land."

"This is my co-op, this is your co-op, we are member ow-ners, our voices ma-tter," they sang. "This co-op belongs to you and me."

Maggie Coulter, a state retiree and organic gardener, spearheaded the call for a boycott. The financial stake may be small, Coulter said, but the symbolism is huge. It could even, she said, push Israel to change its policies, one American food cooperative at a time.


Divesting from Israel's Occupation: Petition at University of Colorado


A US Campaign coalition member, CU-Divest, is presenting a petition to the University of Colorado Board of Regents this month.  This is one of many nationwide divestment campaigns, including the campaign against TIAA-CREF, which is chronicled here.

By Ida Audeh – Boulder, Colorado
In September, the University of Colorado Board of Regents will be presented with a petition urging it to remove from the university's stock portfolio all companies that profit from Israel's occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. Launched by CU-Divest and signed by nearly 2,000 students and human rights activists, the petition states that the university's $1.7 billion investments "may violate the University's commitment to human rights and social justice."

Similar divestment campaigns are underway in dozens of campuses across the country, following the successful efforts of Hampshire College students in 2009. (The retirement plan giant TIAA-CREF is the focus of a separate national divestment campaign.)

In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call to the international community to apply boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it upholds international law and Palestinian rights. The appeal resonated with human rights activists who have been frustrated by their government's failure to pressure Israel to stop its human rights violations of Palestinians.

The U.S. divestment campaign has been modeled very deliberately on campaigns that targeted investment in South Africa apartheid during the 1980s. The two countries, Israel and the former South Africa, are remarkably similar in their treatment of populations they define as undesirable (Palestinians and black South Africans, respectively).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Oakland museum cancels Palestinian kids' war art

The Berkeley-based Middle East Children's Alliance (MECA) is a coalition member of the US Campaign. The following article appeared on page C1 of yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle.


Jill Tucker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, September 10, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO -- An Oakland children's museum, citing pressure from the community, canceled a planned exhibit of artwork by Palestinian youth that depicted the Israeli assault during the 2008-09 Gaza conflict.

The Museum of Children's Art was scheduled to display the art from Sept. 24 to Nov. 13. The exhibit had been in the works for several months, with an opening reception to feature poetry and special art activities for children.

The drawings in the exhibit were created by children ranging in age from about 9 to 11 and included bombs dropping, tanks and people getting shot.

"They are pictures of what these children experienced. It's their experience," said Barbara Lubin, executive director of the Middle East Children's Alliance, which was organizing the exhibition.

Museum officials notified Lubin on Thursday that they were pulling the plug on what had become a controversial exhibit that was pulling the children's museum into the long-standing conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.

Barbara Lubin, founder of Middle East Children's Alliance
(MECA) displays artwork by Palestinian youths on Friday,
Sept. 9, 2011, in Berkeley, Calif. The Museum of Children's
Art (MOCHA) in Oakland cancelled an exhibit that would
have featured the artwork. Photo: Noah Berger / Special
to The Chronicle
It had become a distraction to the main objective of bringing arts education to all children, said museum board member Randolph Bell.

"The pressure was ... well, we were getting calls from constituents that were concerned about the situation," Bell said. "We don't have any political stake in this thing. It just became apparent that we needed to rethink this."

The complaints came from Jewish groups as well as others in the community, board members said.


Book Review: The Statehood of Palestine: International Law in the Middle East Conflict


Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol 40, no. 4 (Summer 2011), p. 98

The Statehood of Palestine: International Law in the Middle East Conflict, by John Quigley. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. vii + 252 pages. Notes to p. 307. Bibliography to p. 319. Index to p. 326. $27.99 paper. 

Reviewed by Diana Buttu 

For years, the Palestinian Authority has clung to the idea of a “Palestinian state/dawla filastiniyya,” often repeating the slogan of a “Palestinian state on the 1967 borders,” or the “two-state solution,” as the proposed means of securing freedom for Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. On 16 May 2011, in an op-ed in the New York Times, PLO chairman Mahmud Abbas affirmed his intention to declare statehood in September 2011 and seek full admission to the UN as a member state, following the same plan as laid out by his predecessor, Yasir Arafat, in 2000.

Abbas’s announcement does not come as a surprise: for over two years, acting prime minister Salam Fayyad has been pushing his plan, titled “Ending the Occupation—Establishing the State,” while the PA has undertaken a diplomatic offensive to get states and international bodies to lend their support to the idea. The Fayyad/Abbas plan seems to be working, with over one hundred states now recognizing Palestine as a “state.” It is in this context that John Quigley’s latest book, The Statehood of Palestine: International Law in the Middle East Conflict, emerges.

The book is the most recent in a relatively new line of academic research on Palestine that aims to use the framework of law, and in particular international law, to highlight the injustices perpetrated against Palestinians by Zionist and other imperialist forces. Quigley is not a newcomer to this field, and his past titles include The Case for Palestine: An International Law Perspective (Duke, 2005) and Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice (Duke, 1990).

Divided into four parts and spanning twenty chapters, Quigley begins by tracing the Palestinian Arab quest for independence and the impact of the British Mandate system on Palestine. In the first two parts, the author methodically points out that like other Class A Mandates, “Palestine had relations with other states that required the conclusion of treaties. Palestine’s citizens had connections with other states and required for that purpose a nationality. Palestine’s status came up as an issue in a variety of ways during the time of Britain’s administration. In all of these interactions, the states of the international community dealt with Palestine as a state” (pp. 52–3). But unlike other Class A Mandates, Palestine did not gain its independence; rather, it soon fell subject to endless proposals and plans—including for trusteeship—to accommodate a Jewish minority and its nationalist aspirations at the expense of the rights of Palestinian Arab majority.

AIPAC Congressional Lobbying Junkets to Israel Illegal, Charges IRS & DOJ Filing

The US Campaign has been mobilizing grassroots support to end these congressional junkets for the past several weeks, through email alerts we distributed on August 9 and August 18, and analysis contributed by our National Advocacy Director, Josh Ruebner, in Foreign Policy in Focus (click here).

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- A complaint filed today with the IRS and Justice Department charges the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF) is a "sham" charitable organization of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The AIEF, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation which reported $26.3 million in 2009 revenue, is housed in the same facilities as AIPAC. AIPAC was incorporated as a domestic lobby in 1963 by a former Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs employee, six weeks after the Justice Department ordered its parent organization, the American Zionist Council, to begin registering as an Israeli foreign agent.

AIEF recently paid expenses for more than 80 members of Congress to travel to Israel during recess, but does not disclose planned activities or educational curriculum. Rabbi Bruce Warshal called AIEF "an amazing organization of which no one has ever heard...It's amazing that someone hasn't filed suit to stop this charade."

According to the 29 page IRmep Center for Policy and Law Enforcement filing, AIEF meets the IRS definition of an AIPAC "sham corporation" because:

AIEF is completely controlled by AIPAC, 66% of AIEF board members are AIPAC directors. 47% of AIPAC's board are also AIEF directors;

AIEF lacks sufficient staff. According to IRS and Congressional Research Service benchmarks, a bona fide educational organization would have at least 271 employees. AIEF has none;

AIEF's "educational" content and audiences are determined by AIPAC lobbying objectives. AIEF has no website. No AIEF funded material is made directly available to the public;

AIEF files deceptive IRS Form 990 reports. Although AIEF has multiple foundation donors such as the Saban Family Foundation ($1 million), The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc. ($150,000) and The Marcus Foundation, Inc. ($500,000), it does not properly and individually report such large donors and amounts on its publicly auditable Schedule B. This deceptive practice was pioneered by AIPAC to hide the narrowing funding base of both organizations.

AIEF makes improper transfers of tax-deductible funds to AIPAC. In 2009, AIEF transferred $13.5 million in tax deductible funding to AIPAC;

AIEF Near East Research merger. Founded in 1957, the Near East Report laundered overseas funding to AIPAC's founder to publish disinformation about Israeli nuclear weapons and US peace initiatives.

This IRmep Center for Policy and Law Enforcement filing, which urges revocation retroactive to 1990, is available at: http://irmep.org/09092011AIEF.pdf .

SOURCE Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy