Monday, October 31, 2011

Sen. Wyden should hold Israel to same standard as Bahrain


By Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
The Hill's Congress Blog
30 October, 2011

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is admirably legislating against U.S. arms sales to Bahrain, the autocratic Gulf kingdom which has killed at least 30 protesters during the Arab Spring. To suppress protests, Bahrain has arrested more than 1,600 protesters, has fired 2,500 from their jobs, and is handing down harsh jail terms to medical personnel who treated injured protesters. This brutal repression of Bahraini human rights led Wyden to introduce a resolution to prohibit U.S. weapons sales to Bahrain until it meets stringent human rights criteria, helping to generate enough political pressure so that the Obama Administration has delayed implementation of its shameful decision last month to sell $53 million of weapons to Bahrain.

Ruebner
“Selling weapons to a regime that is violently suppressing peaceful civil dissent and violating human rights is antithetical to our foreign policy goals and the principle of basic rights for all that the U.S. has worked hard to promote,” Wyden argued.

While this principle should apply to all U.S. weapons sales, it should be even more strictly adhered to when U.S. taxpayers are funding weapons sales through military aid. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. military aid, scheduled to receive $30 billion in taxpayer-financed weapons between 2009 and 2018, and also violently suppresses nonviolent Palestinian protest and commits grave human rights violations against Palestinians living under its illegal 44-year military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.

As an example of Israel’s repression of Palestinian nonviolence, in January, Jawaher Abu Rahmah died after inhaling U.S.-supplied tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers in her West Bank village of Bil’in during its weekly protest against Israel’s illegal wall encroaching upon village farmland.  In April 2009, her brother Bassem was also killed after being hit in the chest with a high-velocity tear gas canister fired by Israeli soldiers. These types of tear gas canisters from Combined Systems, Inc. of Jamestown, PA also have been linked to the killing of Bahraini protesters.



As an example of Israel’s repression of Palestinian nonviolence, in January, Jawaher Abu Rahmah died after inhaling U.S.-supplied tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers in her West Bank village of Bil’in during its weekly protest against Israel’s illegal wall encroaching upon village farmland.  In April 2009, her brother Bassem was also killed after being hit in the chest with a high-velocity tear gas canister fired by Israeli soldiers. These types of tear gas canisters from Combined Systems, Inc. of Jamestown, PA also have been linked to the killing of Bahraini protesters.



Jawaher and Bassem are two of the more than 3,000 Palestinians civilians who have been killed by Israel since 2000, according to the Israeli organization B’Tselem.  Often Israel kills these Palestinians with some of the more than 670 million weapons U.S. taxpayers have funded for Israel in the same period, according to the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

Given Wyden’s professed commitment to U.S. weapons not being misused to further human rights violations, the Senator should be outraged as well by U.S. military aid to Israel, for which his Oregon constituents are expected to pay more than $285 million between 2009 and 2018.  Yet, instead, Wyden praises Israel as “a stable democracy and a stalwart ally” and keynotes at fundraisers for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an outfit that lobbies for more U.S. aid to Israel to the detriment of unmet needs at home.

Wyden should not hold Israel to a different standard.  If U.S. weapons should not support Bahrain’s human rights abuses, then neither should they support Israel’s denial of Palestinian freedom and self-determination.  


Josh Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and a former Analyst in Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service.

SEE ORIGINAL ARTICLE ON THEHILL.COM >>

Thursday, October 27, 2011

BDS Victory: Alstom loses Saudi Haramain Railway contract worth $10B

The BDS National Committee (BNC) has declared a long sought-after victory as Alstom lost the bid for the second phase of the Saudi Haramain Railway project, worth $10 billion US dollars, after pressure from the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, including effective campaigning from the newly launched KARAMA, a European campaign to Keep Alstom Rail And Metro Away. 

In 2008 the BNC, the largest Palestinian civil society coalition, with partners in Europe and Israel, launched the Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign, due to the two companies’ involvement in Israel’s illegal Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR) project, which explicitly aims to “Judaize Jerusalem,” according to official Israeli statements, by cementing Israel’s hold on the illegal colonial settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in and around Jerusalem. Since then, Veolia has lost more than $12B worth of contracts following boycott activism in Sweden, the UK, Ireland and elsewhere. Alstom, too, suffered substantial blows when the Swedish national pension fund AP7 excluded it from its investment portfolio, after having been excluded from the Dutch ASN Bank due to the company’s involvement in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, and has recently announced its intention to withdraw from the project.

The decision is in line with a decision adopted by consensus at the Arab Summit held in Khartoum in 2006 which condemned in the JLR project and called on “the two French companies [Alstom and Veolia] to immediately withdraw from the project,” and demanding that punitive measures be taken against them “if they don’t comply.” The Arab Summit also urged the French government to take the necessary measure in this respect to honor its obligations under international law. In March 2010, the UN’s Human Rights Council denounced Israel’s JLR project for being “in clear violation of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cambridge Students Vote to Dump Veolia

A student referendum calling on Cambridge University to sever ties with Veolia due to its complicity in Israeli human rights abuses passes with 58% of the vote. Read blogger Ben White's article on the vote, the opposition's smear tactics, and what the vote means in the fight against Veolia at Cambridge.

Want to start a Dump Veolia campaign in your area? Check out the excellent resources at Global Exchange and join the growing movement to hold Veolia accountable for its complicity in violating international law!

From the Cambridge Bin Veolia campaign:

58% of students vote to break contract with company implicated in Israeli human rights abuses

Students at Cambridge have voted to call on the University to cut ties with a company implicated in Israeli human rights abuses.

The vote calls on CUSU (Cambridge University Students Union) to campaign to have the University cut ties with Veolia, a company involved in infrastructure projects in Israeli settlements, and employed by the University on a waste disposal contract. The referendum, which closed yesterday, passed with a majority of 58% to 41%: there were 898 votes yes, 637 votes no, and 21 ballots spoilt. While a strong majority was in support, the referendum was inquorate: 7.2% of the student body voted, short of the 10% required.

Students involved in the campaign pledged to continue the campaign to ensure that Veolia’s contract, which expires in September 2012, is not renewed.

As previously reported on the blog, student campaigners had been boosted in the lead up to the referendum with letters of support from Palestinian trade unionists and students, as well as a list of Cambridge academics.

While voter participation was too low to make the motion automatically become CUSU policy, the students behind the push to cut the University’s ties with Veolia are encouraged:

Daniel Benjamin, a student involved in the campaign, said: “With this vote, Cambridge students make a strong statement against Veolia’s criminal actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We won’t stop fighting until Veolia is off campus, but this vote itself is a fantastic show of support in the broader campaign for Palestinian human rights through boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israeli companies and institutions.”

Owen Holland, a student involved in the campaign, said: “The impressive turnout shows significant student support for the campaign. We are concerned with a number of irregularities in the vote, such as lies in the ‘no’ flysheet that went uncorrected, a lack of ballot boxes in colleges, and a number of students who found themselves unable to vote online. Though the referendum did not meet the threshold to become CUSU policy, we will be campaigning to have CUSU adopt it anyway and push the University to drop its contract with Veolia.

The “lies” of the ‘No’ campaign, referred to by Owen Holland, can be read here (and they are rebutted here). The ‘No’ flysheet prepared by members of the Cambridge University Jewish Society described “the wider BDS movement” as “antisemitic”, even if the motion in question “is not explicitly” so. Despite such smear tactics, the majority of Cambridge students who voted backed the call for the University to cancel its contract with Veolia, and the campaign continues.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Jesus, Justice, Palestine-Israel: Challenging the Politics of Empire"

Join US Campaing member group Sabeel for their exciting all day event, October 29, linking Jesus' message to search for a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis today. Registration closes today, October 25.

"Jesus, Justice, Palestine-Israel: Challenging the Politics of Empire"—an all-day peace-and-justice symposium organized by Sabeel DC Metro, the Friends of Sabeel group in the Washington DC region--is happening Saturday, October 29, 2011, 9:30am-4:30pm at Ravensworth Baptist Church, 5100 Ravensworth Rd. (corner of Braddock Rd. at I-495 exit 54 east) in suburban Annandale, Va. Registration required by Oct 25 (see below).

This timely symposium features noted Biblical scholar and author Prof. Richard A. Horsley, PhD, author of Jesus and the Powers: Conflict, Covenant and the Hope of the Poor (2011), Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder (2002), and a score of outstanding books concerning Jesus' message in an age of political and economic oppression not unlike the Palestine and Israel of today.

Also featured and coming directly from Jerusalem is the much-acclaimed founder of the international Sabeel Palestinian Christian peace-and-justice movement, the Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, author of the recent book, A Palestinian Christian Cry for Reconciliation, as well as the landmark work, Justice and Only Justice. Both widely read books champion non-violence as the means to achieve a just and lasting peace for Palestinians and Israelis.

Three outstanding ecumenical volunteers returning from peace-building assignments in the Palestinian West Bank this year will be on hand to provide real-world feedback on the featured speakers’ presentations: Christian Peacemaker Team representatives Tarek Abuata and Jennifer Svetlik, and the WCC Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme's Amy Kienzle. A new film documenting Daoud Nassar’s peace-building work will also be shown.

To Register: Hurry! By Oct. 25 send $30 check (students $10) payable to "Ravensworth Church" (please write "Sabeel Symposium" on memo line) with name/address/e-mail address/phone of each person registering and mail to: Susan Bell/Sabeel, 1324 Kingston Ave., Alexandria, VA 22302. Lunch is included in registration fee (please indicate any dietary restrictions).

Scholarships and limited transportation assistance available on special request.

For more info visit www.sabeeldc.org, or contact:
Susan Bell, avocets@bell.nu (703-751-5646), or
Paul Verduin, phverduin@gmail.com (301-518-5551)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kids have the right to read about Palestine

Add your organization's name to the "Kids have the right to read about Palestine" campaign, which calls on two of the largest publishers of children's books- Marshall Cavendish and Scholastic- to add PALESTINE to their social studies series aimed at celebrating diversity. Join the US Campaign in endorsing this exciting campaign! Email info@theworldincludespalestine.org to add your group's name as an endorser.

Did you know there are no nonfiction publications in print for children recognizing the contributions, the history, the geography, the government, trade, lifestyle, language, arts, leisure and food of the people of Palestine?

The "Kids have the right to read about Palestine" campaign is calling on editors of social studies series found in juvenile collections in libraries both public and private to add the title PALESTINE to their series aimed at celebrating diversity, allowing young readers a chance to see how people live in faraway lands.

Send a message – with just one click – to two of the largest publishers of children's books, Marshall Cavendish and Scholastic, urging them to add PALESTINE to their series!

Visit www.theworldincludespalestine.org for more ways you can take action to encourage publishers to include Palestine titles in their social studies series.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Is TIAA-CREF backing away from its claim to provide financial services "for the greater good"?

Member group Adalah-NY recently brought to light changes to the TIAA-CREF website, which no longer features the slogan, "For the Greater Good" as prominently as it once did.  For more information about TIAA-CREF click here.

Sometime between March 19 and April 4 2011, the giant financial services organization TIAA-CREFredesigned its website, www.tiaa-cref.org. The new design no longer features the slogan "For the Greater Good" next to its corporate logo in the headline banner.  Now relegated to plain text near the bottom of the page, the slogan had been a prominent component of the site since 2005.


Does this change reflect a reprioritization of the goals of TIAA-CREF, which was started as a philanthropic project? Is it a defensive reaction to the growing We Divest campaign initiated by Jewish Voice for Peace in June 2010, which calls on TIAA-CREF to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and other human rights–based campaigns such as those initiated by Mining Zone Peoples' Solidarity Group and Healthcare-Now?

Adalah-NY hopes that soon TIAA-CREF will recognize that socially responsible investment cannot exclude the rights of Palestinians and other oppressed peoples. Then, it can restore the slogan "For the Greater Good" to a prominent place on its website as a true reflection of its commitment to this principle.

Statement originally posted here.

Occupy Wall Street not Palestine!


"So as you break your own chains and build your own effective resistance against corporate tyranny, we ask you to demand a just peace for all the peoples in the Middle East, based on international law and equal human rights. Palestinians too are part of the 99% around the world that suffer at the hands of the 1% whose greed and ruthless quest for hegemony have led to unspeakable suffering and endless war."

The Palestinian BDS National Committee is urging all social movements across the globe to think about how to address the continuing denia
l of Palestinian human rights by Israeli occupation and apartheid. This system of oppression is maintained and perpetuated by corporate power such as military companies which seek profits at the expense of Palestinian lives. 


As the BNC rightly points out, this is especially an issue for the movement in the United States considering the unconditional U.S. political and military 
support for Israel. We 
are organizing extra hard to bring the cost of Israeli occupation to the #Occupy Movement and you can help us demand that the $30 billion in military aid we are sending to Israel is redirected back to our communities at home.

Sign up to receive an organizing packet which will provide you with everything you need to help change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel. 
And make sure to share!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Our Efforts Are Affecting the Policy Discourse!

Just one day after we put out a call to bring the cost of Israeli occupation to the #Occupy movement and got an extraordinary response from people wanting to organize to end military aid to Israel, Washington Post columnist Walter Pincus published today a bombshell article entitled "United States needs to reevaluate its assistance to Israel."

Just a coincidence? Hardly. The grassroots work that we are all doing to educate and organize people to end U.S. aid to Israel is now bubbling up to the rarefied policy circles. We are having an impact!

Be sure to write a letter to the editor in support of this article and send it to letters@washpost.com. Letters should be less than 200 words and include your full contact info. For more guidelines, click here.

And be sure to get involved with our efforts to organize to end military aid to Israel!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Jeff Halper from ICAHD-USA Kicks Off Speaking Tour

Jeff Halper from US Campaign member group ICAHD-USA will be kicking off his speaking tour today in Berkeley, CA. Check below for additional dates and locations throughout the country!

Jeff Halper will be in the Bay area this weekend for the first of a series of public speaking events in six U.S. states. We hope to see you there. Please let your friends know too! Click here for venue details and contact information.

Friday October 14th, 4pm Israel/Palestine: Where Are We Headed? Berkeley, CA

Saturday October 15, 2pm Israel/Palestine: Where Are We Now - Where Are We Headed? San Rafael, CA

Saturday October 15th, 7pm The Right to a Home: Ending Israeli Government Policy of Palestinian Home Demolitions Sacramento, CA

Tuesday, October 18th, 7pm Israel-Palestine Post-September: Towards Two States, One State, Apartheid or Warehousing? Phoenix, AZ

Wednesday, October 19th, 7pm Post-September in Israel/Palestine: Where Are We Headed? Albuquerque, NM

Monday, October 24th, 9am Tree of Life Conference on Israel and Palestine Hyannis, MA

Tuesday, October 25th, 7pm An Evening with Jeff Halper Teaneck, NJ

Thursday, October 27th, 8pm Jeff Halper with Columbia University Students for Justice in Palestine New York, NY

Saturday, October 29th, 9am Tree of Life Conference on Israel and Palestine New York, NY

For complete details, locations, sponsors, and contact information, visit the tour schedule on the ICAHD-USA website.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fund Community Needs or Israel's Misdeeds?

Hey everyone! My name is Ramah Kudaimi and I am pursuing my MA in Conflict Resolution at Georgetown University. I am spending this semester interning at the US Campaign to better understand how grassroots organizing can lead to high-level policy change. Last week we decided to head down to Freedom Plaza here in DC to ask people who were occupying the square in protest of our government’s policies what they thought about U.S. aid to Israel. While talking to people, I was encouraged that almost everyone understood how the United States helps sustain the Israeli occupation and that it was time we supported human rights and justice. Check out the video below as well as our website http://aidtoisrael.org/ to see how much of your tax dollars go to Israel and what that money can instead provide for us at home. And make sure to share!


Bringing the Cost of Israeli Occupation to the Occupy Movement


In this exclusive article for the US Campaign’s blog, Steering Committee member Peter Miller shares his thoughts on organizing to end military aid to Israel at Occupy Portland.

Download the template flyer that Peter mentions in his article for the Occupy events in your city.

Sign up to get an organizing packet to end military aid to Israel from the US Campaign.



By Peter Miller, Steering Committee


The Occupy Wall Street movement is one of those moments of spontaneous flourishing of new grassroots energies, powered by new media and young people. At root, it asks for economic justice and accountability of financial institutions that so obviously have failed. By doing so, it also holds government responsible alongside corporations for making accountability and the rule of law stand for something in order to have a government truly by and for the people.


Those of us working for Palestinian rights know the tremendous harm U.S. policies have done for the prospect of justice for Palestinians and for peace in Israel and Palestine. We know that the $3 billion in military aid we send to Israel every year feeds our military industrial machine and allows Israel to use military force with impunity to deny Palestinians their basic human rights and make them deeply insecure physically and economically. This money destroys even our good works as Israel uses the weapons we provide to destroy Palestinian infrastructure like homes, schools, hospitals, and public works that frequently we have also paid for, making the Palestinians highly dependent on aid and unable to have a normal economy to provide living jobs and a future.


Occupy Wall Street and the various occupy actions around the country are an opportunity to make our fellow citizens aware of the deeply counter productive and unjust use of our tax dollars, money that could and should be spent here at home instead of feeding injustice abroad. People are eager for information about the issues and problems that helped get us into this economic and socially unjust mess, as well as solutions to questions which certainly should include: how can we fund a democracy that cares for its citizens? And what should we spend our treasure on now?


The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has an excellent web site that can help you address this critical economic issue, aidtoisrael.org With this tool, you can determine how much of your federal tax dollars goes from your state, county, and congressional district to feed Israel’s military habit. Here in Portland, we took our numbers for Oregon and Multnomah County to show people at Occupy Portland the grotesque use of our tax dollars. You could also replace the county numbers for those of a congressional district. We handed out 400 flyers with the aidtoisrael.org data and got a very receptive response. We also had a number of signs in red and black which said “Stop Funding Israeli Apartheid” on one side and “BDS” on the other. These two sides managed to get on the front page of our paper, The Oregonian, when it covered the Occupy Portland event. We are proud to say that the Occupy Portland protest that day included many as 10,000 people. A number of folks asked what BDS meant, which gave us an excellent opportunity to education people about Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions and what it means applied to Israel.




Join Us at the AFSC-Iowa Conference this Weekend!

Join us in Ankeny, Iowa this Friday and Saturday, October 14 & 15, to learn how to help reshape U.S. policy at the American Friends Service Committee-Iowa conference!


Featuring US Campaign Staff and Steering Committee: 
  • Phyllis Bennis, Steering Committee Member, who will deliver the keynote address.
  • Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director, who will hold a workshop on Ending U.S. Military Aid to Israel.
  • David Wildman, Steering Committee Co-Chair, who will hold a workshop on organizing in churches.
Join us for this exciting and informative event. More details below.



Friday, October 14, 12:30-8pm
Saturday, October 15, 8:30am-8pm
Our Lady's Immaculate Heart Church
501 E. First St., Ankeny, IA

You are invited to be a part of this important statewide organizing conference. Engaging the Faith Communities in Pursuit of a Just Peace will highlight the voices of people working to bring peace with justice to Palestine and Israel. 

Keynote speakers include Laila El Haddad, a Palestinian freelance journalist, and Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies. Workshop leaders include Rev. David Wildman of the General Board of Global Ministries- UMC, Lynne Pollack of Jewish Voices for Peace, Miryam Rashid of American Friends Service Committee, and Josh Ruebner of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. Drawing from sources within Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities, we guarantee stimulating and goal-directed workshops.

Find more information and register here or contact Kathleen McQuillen at kmcquillen@afsc.org or (515) 274-4851 ext. 22.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Josh Ruebner Challenges Washington Post Editorial on Palestine's UN Statehood Bid

In last week's episode of The Listening Post, on Al-Jazeera English, Josh Ruebner appeared in the segment "Global Village Voices," which showcases quick clips from a handful of English-language new-media commentators around the world.



The full 25-minute program can be seen here.

Join Us on Sunday to Help Dedicate the MLK Memorial by Organizing to End Aid to Israel!

Greetings everyone! My name is Jody Scholz, and I am a graduate student in International Relations at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in ├ůs, Norway. I am writing my master's thesis on the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign in the US, and I'm very excited to be in Washington D.C. this fall interning at the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. I do hope you will be able to join us this Sunday as we honor Dr. King's message by organizing to end military aid to Israel!

We are so excited for the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial on the National Mall this Sunday, October 16, from 9AM-11AM.
At this historic event, we will remind people that Dr. King stated: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
Click to download flyer in PDF
Join us at the dedication to distribute these special flyers and urge people to honor Dr. King’s anti-militarism message by calling on President Obama to end $30 billion in military aid to Israel.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend the event, which makes this an amazing opportunity to educate and organize many new people to join us in our quest to end U.S. support for Israeli military occupation and apartheid, and change U.S. policy toward Palestine/ Israel to support freedom, justice, and equality.
Join the US Campaign at 9AM on Sunday morning at the northeast corner of West Potomac Park, on the corner of Independence Ave. and West Basin Drive (marked with a red dot on the map below) to pick up literature and help us organize. If you’d like to join us, please contact US Campaign Steering Committee Co-Chair Felicia Eaves who will be in touch with you to coordinate logistics.
MEET US AT THE RED DOT ON THE MAP. CLICK ON THE MAP FOR A LARGER VERSION.
Thank you for helping to make the MLK memorial dedication a day of activism for a just peace!
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation