Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Protect the Academic Freedom of Prof. Marc Ellis

Ruebner
By Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director

I met Professor Marc Ellis nearly ten years ago when he invited me to speak at a conference he organized at Baylor. As one of the foremost and inspiring contemporary Jewish theologians who is critical of Israel's actions toward the Palestinian people, it is unfortunately not surprising to see that Baylor is now taking steps to force him out.

Having learned of a secret investigation against him that resulted in the cancellation of his courses, Marc writes, "I believe this is a pretext to silence an independent voice at the place for which I have had deep appreciation."

Join Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Cornel West, Rosemary Radford Ruether, me, and thousands of others in signing this petition to Baylor University President Kenneth Starr asking him "to honor Dr. Ellis' academic freedom and stop all hostility toward him and any attempt of dismissal."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Take Action on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People



Activists in Sacramento show solidarity with the Palestinian Freedom Riders.
Above: Activists in Sacramento show solidarity with the Palestinian Freedom Riders.



Peter Miller address UN General Assembly (video)
Above: Click to watch Peter Miller, US Campaign Steering Committee Co-chair, address the U.N. General Assembly this morning (skip to 1 hour and 17 minutes after start).

By Anna Baltzer, National Organizer

In 1976, in commemoration of what is now 63 years of Palestinian dispossession and exile, the United Nations declared November 29 to be the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This year, Peter Miller, president of Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights and co-chair of the US Campaign's Steering Committee, addressed the U.N. General Assembly. Peter's speech, which took place this morning at the U.N, can be viewed and read here (the speech begins at one hour and 17 minutes into the recording).

Today the Palestinian people's resilience and struggle for freedom continue. Bedouin families of Al-Arakib in the Negev Desert have rebuilt their homes more than 20 times to maintain their presence there. Villagers of Nabi Saleh in the West Bank continue to nonviolently protest settler and army violence and land confiscation, remaining steadfast in the face of the army's intimidation tactics and extreme brutality. Children in Gaza whose schools have been bombed attend makeshift classrooms, persisting to get an education. Survivors of the Nakba, the catastrophe of Palestinian dispossession in the 1947-48 war, continue to preserve and pass down their testimonies and the keys to their homes, refusing to forget or to give up their internationally recognized right to return to the homes and lands from which they were expelled.

Minnesota Break the BondsAlso today, Minnesota citizens from the exciting Minnesota Break the Bonds campaign gathered at the State Attorney General's office to serve a lawsuit on the state's Board of Investment, demanding that it divest from Israel Bonds, based on moral, ethical and legal grounds. 

MN BBC is asking for your support! Sign this letter telling members of the Minnesota State Board of Investments to stop investing in Israeli apartheid!

These are only two of the many actions by US Campaign member groups over the past two weeks. On November 15, activists in 15 cities across the United States organized actions and educational events in solidarity with the Palestinian Freedom Riders, who challenged the Jim Crow-style segregation inherent in the Israeli occupation. You can find an exciting play-by-play chronology of the Freedom Riders' actions at The Struggle, and a summary of the day's events--in the West Bank and the U.S.--here at Jewish Voice for Peace, a US Campaign member organization.



Veolia action in Los Angeles (video)
Above: Click to watch LA activists educate passengers on a Veolia bus as part of a campaign to end the city's Veolia contracts.

Here is just a small sampling of U.S. actions supporting the Palestinian Freedom Riders as part of the growing worldwide campaign to challenge Veolia, a French multinational corporation that profits from the Israeli occupation by operating buses on Israeli-only roads, among other things:

In Los Angeles, activists demonstrated and boarded buses run by Veolia to educate passengers about Israel's apartheid policies as part of a campaign targeting Veolia contracts with the city.

Boston activists launched a campaign challenging the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail Company's contract with Veolia by distributing fliers to educate and mobilize Boston residents.

In Baltimore, activists demonstrated at Penn Station during rush hour, singing a freedom song and drawing connections between the Palestinian and American struggles for equality and human rights, linking Veolia's profiteering from racism and exploitation in Israel/Palestine to the City of Baltimore's unequal government contracts.

There were also more actions in Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Phoenix, Sacramento, Chico, Oakland, Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C.! Check out the photos on Mondoweiss and Flickr, and watch Jewish Voice for Peace's round-up video here.


Video by Palestinian filmmaker Sana Kassem
Above: Click to watch video by Sana Kassem.

Palestinian filmmaker Sana Kassem put together this excellent video drawing parallels between the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and the struggle of the Palestinian Freedom Riders.

Our National Advocacy Director, Josh Ruebner, published this article in Counterpunch supporting the Freedom Riders—just one of dozens of articles published recently worldwide.

Last Saturday, activists in 10 European countries staged more than 60 actions as part of a Day of Action calling on supermarkets and governments to "Take Apartheid off the Menu."

Poster design: 2011 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian PeopleToday, on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, let us celebrate Palestinian steadfastness and renew our commitment to ending U.S. complicity with Israeli occupation and apartheid as part of a growing, exciting, global movement for freedom, justice, and equality.

US Campaign Co-chair addresses U.N. General Assembly


This morning Peter Miller, Co-chair of the US Campaign's Steering Committee, gave the following address at the United Nations General Assembly, at the invitation of the U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

Solemn Commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity With the Palestinian People

United Nations 
New York
November 29, 2011


Remarks by Peter Miller 
President, Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights
Co-Chair, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. President, Excellencies:

I am honored to speak to you today on this solemn commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. I am but one voice among many from global civil society who are deeply concerned about the plight of Palestinians resulting from Israel's policies of occupation, settlement, siege and the denial of Palestinian rights. Many civil society activists around the world have dedicated their lives seeking a just resolution to the Palestine-Israel conflict. Some have paid a huge price for their efforts. And why must civil society pay such a high price? It is because of the failure, your excellencies, of the United Nations and governments to implement international law.

As an American, I am deeply disturbed, as are many Americans, by the role the my government plays in preventing Palestinians from achieving their aspirations and their human rights. The U.S. unconditionally gives Israel $3 billion every year in military aid and ignores Israel's many systematic and continuing human rights violations. Those include the illegal use of military weapons against civilian populations and the ever  expanding Israeli settlements, the expansion of its separation wall on Palestinian lands, the treatment of its Palestinian citizens as second class human beings and the denial of the rights of Palestinian refugees. One of the challenges to the UN and the international community, if you truly are committed to upholding the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, is to confront the deeply negative role of the U.S. in perpetuating injustice and enabling Israel to continue to violate international law and destroy the possibility of realizing Palestinian aspirations.

The admission of Palestine into the UN Organization UNESCO is a great victory for the UN and the voice of people around the world. 107 countries, representing over 75% of the world's population voted to include Palestine, truly “We the Peoples of the United Nations.” Unfortunately, the Obama administration was eager to enforce archaic U.S. laws, and cut off U.S. dues to UNESCO. Also unfortunate is the fact that the Obama, and earlier U.S. administrations, have failed to uphold other U.S. laws conditioning military aid to countries, such as Israel, which use U.S. supplied weapons against civilian populations. The UN is challenged to uphold its Charter in the face of all the various anti-democratic pressures the US brings to bear, whether it is spying on UN officials, pressuring independent countries economically and politically, or threatening the UN itself with economic sanctions. The UN must defend its founding principles despite these pressures and the global community must be ready to increase economic and diplomatic support for the UN and UNESCO.

One of the great advancements of civilization has been the development of the concept of the rule of law, that human beings have universal rights, and that there should be international institutions that work to safeguard these rights, especially in times of conflict and military occupation. The principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and other laws lay out this framework. The challenge for the UN is not to develop new laws or to express new sentiments, but to implement these existing universal principles and its existing resolutions to protect Palestinian human rights. The whole concept of universal rights and protection of civilians is endangered when powerful nations can pick and chose, in defiance of international bodies and global opinion, to whom these laws apply and for whom they are ignored. The law should be universal.

So far, the UN and other established institutions have failed to implement these universal principles, and have been unable to hold the powerful accountable for their oppression of the weak. So it has become necessary for global civil society to step into the void. This is what is happening around the world, including in the United States, on behalf of Palestinian human rights. This is why there is a growing movement of boycott, divestment, and sanctions to bring non-violent pressure on the State of Israel to end its systematic violations.

The Russell Tribunal is yet another expression of global civil society responding to the failure of the UN and governments to uphold the law. One of Bertrand Russell's last accomplishments was the establishment, with French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, of the Russell Tribunal to investigate the role of the United States in the war in Vietnam. The tribunal was established as a means for civil society to bring to the light the evidence of war crimes ignored by the United States government and by other nations and international institutions. Russell declared “May this Tribunal prevent the crime of silence.”

A new Russell Tribunal on Palestine has been reconvened with three sessions to date to examine Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. The most recent session was held November of this year in South Africa, with judges including Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, emeritus judge of Spain’s Supreme Court José Antonio Martin Pallin, African-American poet Alice Walker and South African writer and activist Ronald Kasrils.  They examined the question of whether Israel is engaged in the crime of Apartheid. Israeli human rights activist Jeff Halper, director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions said,

“States, along with the United Nations, are obligated to enforce international law and human rights conventions. When they don't, as in their failure to apply to Israel and its Occupation the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, the people themselves must rise up and demand that they do. Civil society forums such as the Russell Tribunal may not carry formal authority, but they represent millions of people the world over who believe that simply leaving governments free to pursue their narrow agendas driven by power, sectarian ideology, militarism and the profits of a few is to doom us all to continued war, bloodshed and injustice.”

The Tribunal concluded that Israel does indeed engage in the crime of Apartheid:

"Israel subjects the Palestinian people to an institutionalized regime of domination amounting to apartheid as defined under international law.... The Palestinians living under colonial military rule in the occupied Palestinian territory are subject to a particularly aggravated form of apartheid. Palestinian citizens of Israel, while entitled to vote, are not part of the Jewish nation as defined by Israeli law and are therefore excluded from the benefits of Jewish nationality and subject to systematic discrimination across the broad spectrum of recognized human rights. Irrespective of such differences, the Tribunal concludes that Israel's rule over the Palestinian people, wherever they reside, collectively amounts to a single integrated regime of apartheid."

The Russell Tribunal is not the first time Israeli apartheid has been identified. In 1961 Hendrik Verwoerd, then president of South Africa and considered the architect of the system of apartheid, stated, “Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.” Both Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela have expressed concerns that Israel's behavior was similar to what they experienced under South African apartheid. Mandela remarked that:

“The UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

In 2009, the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa issued a report concluding that Israel practices both Apartheid and colonialism. In 2010, Henry Siegman, former national director of the American Jewish Congress said, "Israel has crossed the threshold from 'the only democracy in the Middle East' to the only apartheid regime in the Western world."  Now in 2011, we can add the conclusions of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.

Palestinian rights must no longer be held hostage to the domestic politics of the United States. Israel should not escape UN censure simply because it refuses to cooperate with international institutions. International law demands condemnation of Israel's violations and crucially, Your Excellencies, decisive action to reverse them. Palestinian dignity is assaulted on a daily basis. Both the Palestinian and Israeli people are diminished each passing day as you allow these Israeli policies to continue. Every day, a tree is destroyed or a home is demolished. Every day, a Bedouin village inside Israel is ground down by bulldozers or Palestinians in the West Bank are attacked by settler pogroms that turn their lives into lives of fear.  Every day, critical medicines go lacking in Gaza, and Gazans are forced to drink brackish water unfit for human consumption.

The so-called “Quartet” has failed.  But while many question whether the UN should have ever agreed to participate in such sham diplomacy, you can still play a constructive role by moving quickly to implement the necessary pre-conditions for serious and honest negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians based on the enforcement of international law. Excellencies, you must separate Israel’s legitimate security concerns from its illegitimate political agenda. The International Court of Justice ruling on the illegality of Israel's wall made just this sort of distinction: determining that Israel may build its wall on Israeli land, but Israel cannot build its wall on Palestinian land, destroying Palestinian farms and homes, and separating Palestinian villages and towns from each other. It is illegal, not simply “unhelpful,” for Israel to build settlements on Palestinian lands. Israel violates international law when it imposes collective punishment on the people of Gaza. UN-based solutions must be found to mitigate all of these issues.  The international community must demand that Israel end its assaults on Gaza that kill and injure civilians, and destroy civilian infrastructure in an endless cycle of  international development assistance repeatedly destroyed by Israel's U.S. supplied bombs and missiles and Israel's U.S. supplied Caterpillar bulldozers. All that is lacking is your will to impose solutions rooted in international law.

One of the great privileges of working within civil society for Palestinian justice is witnessing the coming together of people from many origins working together for justice. In my own small group, we have Jewish Americans, Palestinian Americans, Christians, Muslims, and secular people who recognize in each other our common humanity. This is replicated around the world. We in global civil society seek to rise above narrow national and tribal self interest and truly believe that peace is possible when our common humanity is recognized and justice is implemented. We honor the efforts of those Israelis who recognize that peace for Israel comes through justice for Palestinians, we honor the efforts of activists and UN workers from around the world, many who have risked their comfort and sometimes their lives in the name of justice. Though there are wide ranges of opinion about what the various solutions might be, we are united in the recognition of our common humanity and our dreams of living together, as equals, on this small blue planet.

Thank you.

-- END --

Monday, November 28, 2011

Organize a Film Screening of New Documentary about Israeli Apartheid

In 2006, at the 5th Annual National Organizers’ Conference of the US Campaign, coalition member groups overwhelmingly resolved to adopt the language of apartheid and Jim Crow segregation in describing Israeli policies towards Palestinians. Applying the apartheid framework to analyses of Israeli practices offers a methodical and startling assessment of conditions on the ground in occupied Palestine. The apartheid framework also explicitly highlights Israel’s grave violations of Palestinian human rights and international law.

Palestinian solidarity activists Ana Nogueira and Eron Davidson have produced an important new documentary, “Roadmap to Apartheid,” comparing Israeli policies with those of apartheid-era South Africa. A film tour is being scheduled for 2012 (see below for more info) and we would like to encourage you to consider organizing a screening in conjunction with an anti-apartheid training seminar. For information on how to organize an anti-apartheid training in your community, please see our training curriculum.

Message from Producers of “Roadmap to Apartheid”

The documentary "Roadmap to Apartheid" will be released by New years of 2012. The producers will be touring extensively in 2012. If you are interested in helping build the tour by organizing a screening, or inviting us to speak along with the movie at an event, on campuses, in churches, unions and community centers, please contact us at info@roadmaptoapartheid.org.

Narrated by Alice Walker, Roadmap to Apartheid is promising to be the definitive documentary that compares and contrasts South African apartheid with Israeli policies and practices. We think its going to be an incredibly important and useful tool for Palestine solidarity organizing and education campaigns, helping to spark hot debates, sorely needed honest discussion, and most importantly, action.

In solidarity,
Ana Nogueira
Eron Davidson
Producers, Roadmap to Apartheid
www.roadmaptoapartheid.org

Media Release: Citizens' Campaign Sues Minnesota State Board of Investment for Illegal Investments in Israel Bonds


Minnesota Break the Bonds CampaignFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 28, 2011


Contact: 
mn@breakthebonds.org

[Minneapolis] MN Break the Bonds Campaign (MN BBC), a statewide campaign aimed at stopping Minnesota investment in Israel's human rights and international law violations, along with several individuals and organizations, is serving a lawsuit on the Minnesota State Board of Investment (SBI) with a demand that it divest from sovereign Israel Bonds.

The lawsuit contends that the SBI's investment in Israel Bonds is unlawful and imprudent.  The investment violates Minnesota statutes that control the types of foreign investments the SBI is permitted to make. Foreign government bonds, including Israel Bonds, are not included in the SBI's statutory list of authorized investments. Canadian Bonds are the only exception.

The lawsuit further claims that the SBI's investment in Israel Bonds is unlawful because the SBI is knowingly aiding and abetting Israel's internationally recognized violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention by financing Israel's illegal settlement activities, which involve the prohibited transfer of Israel's civilian population into the occupied Palestinian territories. International law affirms the culpability of those who financially aid and abet this type of international law violation.

Finally, the lawsuit argues that the SBI is in breach of its fiduciary obligations by exposing Minnesota taxpayers to liability to any victims of Israel's human rights abuses and international law violations due to its material support of Israel's unlawful activities.

MN BBC is a group of Palestinians, Jews, Christians, Muslims, students, professionals, parents, community members and allies working together to educate Minnesota communities about injustices suffered by Palestinians in order to promote justice and human rights.  MN BBC believes that the people of Minnesota have the moral obligation to make sound investments that will not aid the oppression of any one race, creed or people.

The lawsuit will be served on November 29, 2011 at the Attorney General's office, 1400 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul.  Members of MN BBC will begin gathering at the base of the escalators at 9:30 am, and then proceed to the AG's office to serve the complaint at 10:00. Reporters and media are welcome to interview members of MN BBC and some of the co-plaintiffs following service of the complaint. Copies of the lawsuit will be available to the press. For more information, see the article at Mondoweiss.net, http://bit.ly/veexzS.


###

Israelis Accuse BNP Paribas of Caving to BDS Pressure

In an article (below) in last Thurday's Haaretz, Israeli officials angrily accused French bank BNP Paribas of pulling out of Israel in response to civil society pressure in France. While BDS activists are currently directing robust campaigns against French companies like Veolia, BNP Paribas does not appear to have been targeted by BDS activists. The bank itself has said that it is pulling out in response to the ongoing financial crisis in Europe.

While it may be difficult to ascertain exactly why BNP Paribas is exiting Israel, it is not difficult to explain Israel's enraged response: it is terrified by the growing international momentum of BDS. The palpable fear and anxiety exhibited by Israeli officials in the Haaretz article is further evidence of the strength of BDS as a powerful nonviolent resistance strategy.

Rage in Israel as BNP Paribas pressured to pull out

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Banks Supervisor David Zaken and their top officials believe the bank’s board of directors caved to pressure groups, contrary to its claims.

By Moti Bassok

The powers that be are furious at BNP Paribas for shuttering its operations in Israel, and suspect it is acting due to Arab and anti-Israeli pressure in France, the bank’s home base.

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Banks Supervisor David Zaken and their top officials believe the bank’s board of directors caved to pressure groups, contrary to its claims.This is the first case in years of a foreign bank leaving Israel. BNP Paribas has had operations in Israel since 2003. Most of its business here involved financing large projects that involve French companies.

The bank recently decided to shut down its local offices and dismiss its 60 employees. The bank claims this is because it sustained serious damage from the Greek crisis. Yet the only foreign branch is closing is its Israeli one, even though BNP Paribas has branches all over the world, including in Israel’s neighbor countries.

The French bank is leaving a very limited representation in Israel. It does not need the Bank of Israel’s approval for this, even though its operations are still supervised by the central bank.

Fischer and Zaken held several harsh discussions with BNP Paribas executives, which brought no results, and also denounced the bank’s actions in internal meetings. Fischer reportedly said that one of his goals as Israel’s chief banker was to convince large foreign banks to do business in Israel. There is no reason for BNP Paribas to leave, he reportedly said.

The Bank of Israel said it could not comment on a specific bank.

Organize a Speaking Event with William Parry, London-Based Journalist & Author

William Parry, a London-based photojournalist who contributes regularly to the Washington Review of Middle East Affairs, is launching his book, Against the Wall: the art of resistance in Palestine, with a book tour in the USA. He will be available to give illustrated talks over a two-week speaking tour for student groups and advocacy groups around February 2012 to fit in with university semester schedules.

His stunning book of photos captures the graffiti and street art that has transformed Israel’s wall into a living canvas of resistance and solidarity. Featuring the work of artists including Banksy, Ron English, Swoon, Faile, Blu and others, as well as Palestinian artists and international grassroots activists, these photos express outrage, compassion, solidarity, peaceful resistance and touching humor. They mirror the wall’s toll on lives and livelihoods and are coupled with interviews that show the hardship it has brought to tens of thousands of Palestinians, preventing their access to work, education, families, vital medical care and places of worship.

William Parry has given over 50 illustrated talks throughout the England, Scotland, Ireland and Canada for advocacy, student and arts groups (the UK launch was held with a talk and exhibition at Amnesty International's UK headquarters). He has been interviewed on BBC's News 24 channel, Australia's national ABC Radio, Montreal's C-JAD radio and other media. Against the Wall has received excellent reviews and publicity in a range of media, including Electronic Intifada, al Jazeera English, Publishers Weekly, the New York Review of Books, street art websites and many others (see links below).

William Parry would like to hear from you if you would be interested in supporting the trip and/or organizing a speaking event. Please contact him directly as soon as possible as he will be looking to devise a two-week itinerary ideally before the Christmas break: williamparry@yahoo.co.uk.

The book is published by Lawrence Hill in North America. Review copies may be available -- please ask William Parry for a copy. Publisher details are available at www.ipgbook.com/showbook.cfm?bookid=1569767041.

Endorsements, review and links for Against the Wall:
American political cartoonist Joe Sacco describes Against the Wall as “a singular achievement – both a stunning photographic essay of how Israel’s concrete wall has cut into Palestinian land and strangled whole communities and a powerful visual record of how local and international graffiti artists have battered it with their only weapons, paint and spray cans”. Pink Floyd's Roger Waters says “This book is very beautiful and very ugly. The wall is very ugly, much of the art on it is very beautiful. This book helps to expose the ugly tyranny of oppression. There is beauty in the resistance of the Palestinian people. The annexation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank is ugly. That many Israelis are joining the resistance against their own government’s policies is brave and beautiful. The ugliness of the wall outweighs the beauty of the rest. This book seeks to redress the balance.”

DePaul University Students Declare Victory in Sabra Hummus Campaign

Just prior to Thanksgiving, US Campaign coalition member group DePaul University Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) announced an important victory in its campaign against the sale of Sabra hummus in university dining halls. Earlier this year, DePaul SJP launched a campaign to have Sabra hummus removed from campus dining halls because it is partially owned by the Strauss Group, which provides material and financial support to Israeli military units. After an inquiry into the activities of the Strauss Group, the university elected to continue selling Sabra hummus. However, the university has quietly introduced the sale of an alternative brand of hummus in the university's dining halls providing students with the opportunity to make ethical consumer purchases.

The battle over Sabra hummus at DePaul reminds us that grassroots efforts often lead to progressive change even when our primary goals have not been immediately achieved. DePaul SJP's Sabra hummus campaign raised awareness of how our consumer choices can render us complicit in supporting Israeli occupation and apartheid. The availability of an alternative brand of hummus is an important victory that takes on added significance as pro-Israel groups begin to counter BDS actions in the US with events like this week's "Buy Israel Week."

DePaul University students declare victory in Sabra hummus campaign

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 23, 2011

DePaul University students declare victory in Sabra hummus campaign

Following SJP’s campaign to remove Sabra hummus from campus due to students’ concerns about the product’s connection to human rights abuses, DePaul provides alternative hummus brand in its dining halls.

CHICAGO, IL (November 23, 2011)—DePaul University Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) declare a major victory in their campaign against the sale of Sabra hummus products after University dining services introduced an alternative brand of hummus to campus this fall quarter. The decision was made after SJP’s yearlong campaign to draw attention to the complicity of Sabra’s parent company, the Strauss Group, in Israel’s military occupation of Palestine.

Student activists identify the University’s decision to introduce an alternative brand of hummus as a revision of the University’s decision to continue selling Sabra hummus. SJP member Maryam Salem said, “We’re happy that student concerns over Sabra hummus have finally been heard. A lot of students were disappointed by the University’s decision to keep Sabra back in the spring. But now, by offering an alternative brand of hummus, students have an ethical product they can choose.”

Friday, November 25, 2011

What We're Thankful For

By Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director
Wednesday, 23 November, 2011

Tomorrow morning, my wife and I will board a plane in Washington, DC, fly to Chicago, drive to Indiana to visit her parents, and drive back to Illinois to visit my family before returning home.

We're thankful that we have the means and opportunity to spend time with our loved ones during this holiday weekend.  Barring any flight delays or road construction, they'll know when to expect us.



US Campaign Steering Committee and Staff
Above: US Campaign staff and Steering Committee at our recent national conference.

It's easy to take our rights for granted even as they come under assault here at home.  But we know that something like our Thanksgiving travel plan--our right to freedom of movement--is a near impossibility for Palestinians whose human rights are violated daily by Israel's military occupation and apartheid policies.

Unlike Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation, on our way to the airport, we won't have to evade dozens of roadblocks, checkpoints, walls, and other barriers to our movement.  After picking up our rental car, no soldier will tell us where we can or can't drive.  No occupying army will intrude into our families' towns and cut short our visit by announcing a curfew. 

My wife and I are of different ethnic and religious backgrounds: she's Arab-American and I'm Jewish-American. And we would never allow our government to treat us any differently based on those differences. Yet, our government's military and diplomatic support for Israel enables it to discriminate against Palestinians based on their nationality and religious affiliations.

Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip are typically banned from Israel's airport (Israel destroyed the Palestinian airport in Gaza).  Palestinians can't ride on Israeli settler buses or roads constructed on their land in the West Bank, as dramatized last week by the courageous Palestinian Freedom Riders.  A Palestinian man from Gaza who is married to a Palestinian woman who is a citizen of Israel can't live with her. And Palestinian refugees, who were forced from their homes more than 63 years ago, still are denied their right of return by Israel. 

The only reason people have rights in this country is because for hundreds of years we have built movements to struggle to achieve them--and it is an ongoing struggle. We cannot allow our government to back Israel in denying Palestinians human rights--the right to travel, the right to go to school or work, the right to live where we choose--which we have in this country and to which all human beings are entitled. 

That's why we're also thankful for the thousands of people like you who make it possible for the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation to empower tens of thousands of people and nearly 400 organizations in our coalition to change our government's policies toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights, international law, and equality.

As you gather with your loved ones for this Thanksgiving holiday, please give thanks by donating whatever you can to the US Campaign to help us advance our goal.

We thank you for believing in the necessity and ultimate success of our mission.


By the way, we''d also like to show our thanks to supporters like you.  As a token of our appreciation, the first twenty people (U.S. residents only) who donate $100 or more will receive from us a bottle of fair trade, organic Palestinian olive oil.  Your generosity will help not only us, but Palestinian farmers struggling to remain steadfast on their land.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Growing Impact of BDS Creating Anxiety amongst pro-Israel Groups

The growing success of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign internationally has Israel’s US supporters panicked. In response to the surging momentum of BDS, pro-Israel groups have launched "Buy Israel Week," which will run Nov. 28 to Dec. 4.

The initiative, with counts BDS target Ahava as one of its sponsors, is frantically being promoted as a way to counteract the BDS movement and those that “work to undermine Israel’s right to exist.”

Such foolish hyperbole, designed to demonize a nonviolent resistance movement and deflect attention away from Israel’s systematic human rights violations, reveals the growing desperation of Israel’s supporters, as the rogue nation is increasingly isolated due to its illegal occupation and apartheid regime.

In fact, the BDS movement continues to grow and gain momentum precisely because it is a powerful nonviolent resistance strategy. Our steadfast work organizing and educating at the grassroots level is working to ensure that US consumers don’t buy “the coolness” of Israeli consumer products.

It is clear the pressure we are bringing to bear on Israeli interests is having an impact. International BDS efforts are playing a key role in contributing to Israel’s isolation. Those efforts are also changing the lopsided discourse in the US that still overwhelmingly favors Israel. Through solidarity and a commitment to nonviolence, our movement will succeed in holding Israel accountable to its obligations under international law.

Our Discourse Goes Mainstream! New York Times Assails Israeli Pinkwashing!

Earlier this month we told you how Israel was “pinkwashing” its apartheid regime by branding itself as a progressive gay haven. Today, the New York Times has published a terrific op-ed by Sarah Schulman entitled “Israel and Pinkwashing.” In the article, Schulman strongly repudiates Israel’s use of gay rights as a public relations tool to deflect attention away from the brutality of its occupation.

International gay rights activists opposed to Israeli occupation and apartheid have termed Israel’s propaganda strategy “pinkwashing.” Schulman harshly criticizes the cynical and racist deceit of Israel’s pinkwashing as “a deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life.”

There can be no doubt that our efforts at the grassroots level to organize and educate are having an impact. Today, in the paper of record, an activist term, goes mainstream!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Activists to sue Minnnesota for investments that fund Israeli occupation


The following was published today on Mondoweiss.net by organizers with our coalition member group, Minnesota Break the Bonds, regarding their landmark suit against the State of Minnesota for illegally investing in Israel bonds. The US Campaign is very encouraged to see this emerging and brilliant form of grassroots divestment activism, and hopes that someday soon all 22 U.S. states currently invested in Israel bonds will have been shaken by similar campaigns.

by Sylvia Schwarz and Phil Benson on November 22, 2011

Minnesota is among twenty-two states and the District of Columbia which invest in State of Israel Bonds. Proceeds from the sale of Israel Bonds are disbursed by Israel’s Ministry of Finance to various Israeli government agencies and then used, in part, to fund illegal settlement activities in the West Bank, including the construction of the apartheid wall, the confiscation of Palestinian lands and the construction of Israeli-only bypass roads.

The State Board of Investment (SBI) is charged with managing Minnesota’s public employee pension fund investments, including the Israel Bond investments. The members of the SBI (Governor Mark Dayton, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Attorney General Lori Swanson and State Auditor Rebecca Otto) have a statutory responsibility to the taxpayers to invest prudently and lawfully, while the SBI claims that it has no obligation to take into account moral or ethical issues in making investment decisions.

Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign (MN BBC) was formed in response to the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel and chose as its specific target the millions of dollars in Israel Bonds that the SBI holds in its portfolio. One of the primary reasons for targeting these state investments was the opportunity it provides to educate a broad state-wide audience to remedy the extreme dearth of accurate public knowledge of the Palestine/Israel situation. To this end, members of MN BBC have been travelling the state and presenting programs and educational events, film series and discussion sessions. Our group has grown from its two founders in 2006 to several hundred active members today.

Along with its educational component, for more than a year members of MN BBC have been meeting with state senators and representatives to encourage them to sponsor a bill to divest from Israel bonds. This effort has been largely met with steely stares and forced smiles. Invariably, legislators tell us that they have no control over the investments and that we should be speaking to the SBI. This we did. At one notable SBI meeting, several MN BBC members addressed the board, and although Governor Dayton listened respectfully, he clearly had other things on his mind. The response from the SBI was that we should instead be speaking to the legislators, since they had the power to legislate bans on certain investments.

While our appeal to the legislators and to the SBI was based on moral and ethical grounds, we also informed the Board that its investments in Israel Bonds were already illegal under existing Minnesota law. The Minnesota statute that controls the SBI’s investment decisions only permits investment in a narrow category of government bonds, including Canadian and U.S. Government bonds. Israel Bonds are not included. Nor, for example, are the government bonds of Iran, North Korea and Sudan included. Interestingly, the Minnesota legislature passed divestment legislation targeting privately held companies doing business in Iran and Sudan. These Iran and Sudan divestment bills include no provisions requiring divestment from the government bonds of either of those two countries, since any such investments are already prohibited, just as investment in Israel Bonds. Yet, the only foreign country (outside of Canada) in which Minnesota has invested in government bonds is Israel. Minnesota law is being broken for Israel alone.

In addition to the Minnesota statutory violation, Minnesota has an obligation to comply with all international conventions and treaties of which the U.S. is a signatory. This includes the Fourth Geneva Convention. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits transferring the civilian population of the occupier into occupied territory. Israel, in contravention of this article, has been transferring Israeli civilians into the West Bank since 1967. The UN, the International Court of Justice and the United States Government all concur that this transfer is illegal. Knowingly providing financial material support for Israel’s illegal settlement activities and infrastructure equally violates the law.

The SBI has a duty to protect the taxpayers and the state pension plan from lawsuits. By financially aiding and abetting Israel’s violation of Article 49 and other international laws, the SBI could potentially be sued by victims of these violations. These lawsuits could come under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), an 18th century law allowing foreigners to bring lawsuits in U.S. courts against those who aid and abet international law violations committed against them. Minnesota’s investment in Israel Bonds exposes the SBI and its agents, officers and employees to these lawsuits. Minnesota’s taxpayers would be stuck with the bill for defending against any such lawsuits and paying for any adverse judgments.

Because the SBI has refused to divest from its Israel Bond investments, before the end of November, MN BBC will serve a lawsuit on the Minnesota SBI seeking an order from the court directing the SBI to immediately divest from Israel Bonds and to refrain from purchasing more on the grounds that 1) the SBI’s investments in foreign government bonds (with the exception of Canadian bonds) are illegal according to Minnesota statutes; 2) investments in Israel Bonds aid and abet Israel’s continuing violations of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention contrary to international, U.S. and Minnesota law; and 3) by investing in illegal settlement activity, the SBI exposes Minnesota taxpayers and the state pension plan to potential lawsuits.

We believe strongly that the law is on our side. The lawsuit will also help to educate Minnesotans and Americans about the ongoing international law violations occurring in Israel and Palestine which our government leaders and politicians have supported with impunity. This is a small part of the work involved in solidarity with Palestinians and the call for BDS. The struggle for human rights continues.

P.S. We have recently been informed that the Minnesota State Board of Investment has invested in sovereign German bonds. Although this is in violation of state statutes, it is no longer correct that Israel is the only country for which Minnesota has violated its own laws.
Phil Benson is an active member of Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign and Friends of Sabeel North America. As an activist Presbyterian, Phil's Christian values have been the force behind his work for justice in Palestine. Sylvia Schwarz is an engineer in St. Paul, a member of Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.

American Jews for a Just Peace Announces 2012 Delegation to Israel/Palestine

Start the New Year off in Israel/Palestine! US Campaign coalition member group American Jews for a Just Peace has been organizing delegations to Israel/Palestine since 2003. Their next delegation to Israel/Palestine is scheduled for January 1 - 15, 2012. Please see their announcement below.

The Health and Human Rights Project (HaHRP), a project of American Jews for a Just Peace (AJJP), announces its next delegation to Israel/Palestine, and we encourage all who are interested to apply ASAP!



Who:
 Approximately 15 people interested in traveling, meeting, and/or working in Palestine for two weeks and bringing their experiences home to work for justice in their own communities.



What:
 A 2-week program organized with Lubna Alzaroo and Ryvka Barnard (a colleague and friend of Hannah Mermelstein), during which we will meet with Palestinian community leaders, activists, doctors, lawyers, farmers, families and more. During the first week, we will be traveling in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and inside Israel, deepening our understanding of Israeli apartheid in all of these areas through meetings with Palestinian and Israeli people. While we are unable to travel in Gaza as a group, we will attempt to have contact with colleagues there through video conference. During the second week, participants will have the opportunity to work directly with community organizations according to their skills and the needs of the local population.



When: 
January 1-January 15 (includes travel time)

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Scott Kennedy, Presente!

It was with great sadness that the US Campaign family learned this weekend, during our semi-annual Steering Committee meeting, of the loss of our good friend Scott Kennedy.  Having seen Scott just recently at our 10th Annual National Organizers' Conference, it is such a shock and terrible loss to us all to suddenly realize that we will no longer benefit from his passion, wisdom, and commitment.

Scott was an amazing, tireless, and dedicated activist for a just peace in Palestine/Israel.  His loss is inestimable.  My fondest memory of Scott is of him driving me around his beloved and beautiful Santa Cruz during an organizing tour he arranged and listening to him describe how as mayor he commemorated the killing of Rachel Corrie by declaring an official Rachel Corrie Day in her memory.

Below, we reprint a beautiful note on Scott's passing from member group Interfaith Peace-Builders, whose Board of Directors was chaired by Scott.  In the note, please find information on how you can extend your condolences to Scott's family through IFPB.

With heartfelt condolences to Scott's family and boundless admiration for his life's work,

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




Scott Kennedy, Presente!

Dear Friends,

We write today with sad news.  Scott Kennedy, chair of the IFPB board of directors, trip leader for many, and friend to us all, has passed away.  Scott died Saturday in his sleep in Santa Cruz, CA, just one week after co-leading the latest Interfaith Peace-Builders Olive Harvest Delegation.

With the shock and hurt of the news still fresh, we all mourn and wish peace for his family.  To say that Scott had an enormous impact on Interfaith Peace-Builders would be an understatement.  Our work of sending delegations (39 since 2001) was rooted in delegation work that he pioneered, starting with a trip that Scott and Allan Solomonow led in 1975.  Since that time, Scott’s work with the Resource Center for Nonviolence, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and Middle East Witness all contributed significantly to the program that we know as Interfaith Peace-Builders today.  
Scott has been a tireless advocate, a dedicated trip leader, an active and engaged board member, and a joy to learn from and work with.

His work with IFPB was but one of his many projects which spread from Santa Cruz, the city he loved unconditionally, to Israel/Palestine, whose nonviolent leaders he supported at all costs.  He dedicated his life to helping others, to seeking justice, and to spreading the power of active nonviolence.

When Scott received the El-Hibri Peace Education Prize in 2008, IFPB Senior Fellow Joe Groves wrote a tribute to Scott.  We include it here:

I have worked with Scott Kennedy on Middle East peace education for twenty years in many varied venues. What fun! Even though we live on opposite coasts, our collaboration has been consistent, from forming Middle East Witness to take delegations to Israel/Palestine, to working together on FOR’s Middle East Task Force, to collaborating on FOR’s Interfaith Peace-Builders Program, to creating an independent Interfaith Peace-Builders organization. That’s one of Scott’s defining features—creating anew by building on strong and deep relationships.  Programs can come and go—it’s the people who are crucial. A second defining feature is that Scott makes the work fun, in a deep, complex way that far exceeds laughter (although there is plenty of that). It’s fun stemming from creativity, imagination, stimulating conversation, immense energy, and profound commitment to the work of Middle East peace. We need all of those qualities to sustain work on Israel/Palestine in the midst of consistently grim and discouraging realities. Someone who brings fun to Middle East work—what more can you ask! And what better way to lead in peace education.  

If you'd like, you may also watch this online video where Scott describes some of his work with IFPB.

We invite you to send any condolence letters (letters only, please) to IFPB  (1326 9th St., NW, Washington DC 20001) and we’ll bundle them together with other notes from others who he touched through his work with IFPB.

More information on Scott is provided in these online obituaries:

http://forusa.org/blogs/mark-johnson/scott-kennedy-tribute/9912
http://santacruz.patch.com/articles/scott-kennedy-former-mayor-and-nonviolence-center-founder-died-saturday

Scott will be very sorely missed.  And we feel the utmost gratitude to have known, worked, and laughed with him.

In Peace, 


Joe, Mike, Jake, and Emily, IFPB Staff


Ilise, Mark, Doug, Mary Ann, Mara, Gerald, Sandra, Richard, Rami, Allie, Shakeel, Barbara, Hanan, Darryl, and Cathy, 
IFPB Board

The Power of an Insurrectionary Imagination

By Jody Scholz
US Campaign intern

I recently had the good fortune of attending a conference in Atlanta sponsored by US Campaign coalition member group Friends of Sabeel-North America (FOSNA). The conference, From Birmingham to Bethlehem: The Power of Nonviolence in the US and Palestine-Israel, featured a variety of workshops and plenary speakers linking the nonviolent resistance of the US Civil Rights movement to the ongoing nonviolent Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation and apartheid. Legendary civil rights activist Dr. Bernard LaFayette implored conference attendees to join in solidarity actions with the Palestinian Freedom Riders, Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall spoke of her trip to the West Bank in June as part of a US delegation of women of color feminists, led by US Campaign Advisory Board member Barbara Ransby, which subsequently endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Kennesaw State University Professor Jesse Benjamin led a packed workshop on whiteness in the Jewish-Christian Zionist embrace, and US Campaign National Organizer Anna Baltzer gave a dynamic presentation chronicling expanding apartheid conditions on the ground in Palestine-Israel eloquently advocating for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) as a powerful form of nonviolent resistance.

FOSNA has organized 33 regional conferences across the US over the last nine years and they have several scheduled for next year. If you have the opportunity to attend one, I would highly encourage you to do so. It was a challenging and richly rewarding experience.

In keeping with FOSNA’s mission of engaging North American Christians on the issue of a just peace in the Holy Land, many of the workshops focused on the moral, legal and theological basis from which US churches can work to end US complicity in the occupation. One of the recurring points of discussion throughout the conference was how US churches should respond to calls for “balance” when discussing the Palestine-Israel conflict. This is a particularly tricky issue for progressive US churches, many of whom feel a need to atone for Christian anti-Semitism and complicity in the Holocaust, and have admirably dedicated themselves to building relations with the Jewish community via interfaith dialogue and reconciliation.

While invoking the need for balance in discussing the conflict seems reasonable enough, it is almost always employed as way of normalizing the relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed. Several conference speakers, notably author and activist Mark Braverman, noted that in practice this means interfaith dialogue far too often results in Christian theologians refusing to condemn or even discuss Israeli human rights abuses against the Palestinians. And where there is criticism of Israel, it is almost always accompanied by recognition of Israeli suffering as somehow on par with the suffering of Palestinians living under the scourge of apartheid and occupation. The apparent reasonableness of entreaties for balance and dialogue helps explain why normalization is such an insidiously powerful and effective discourse.

The issue of normalization was also the focus of a skills-building workshop led by Columbia University SJP member Tanya Keilani, cartoonist and solidarity activist Ethan Heitner, and US Campaign National Organizer Anna Baltzer at last month’s National Students for Justice in Palestine Conference. Columbia SJP and Adalah-NY, of which Heitner is a member, are both US Coalition member groups. Palestinian solidarity organizations on US campuses are often challenged by Zionist student groups to organize events together to present both perspectives of the conflict. In order to help student groups (and other solidarity activists) better understand and explain how normalization legitimizes Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people, Keilani and Heitner created a comic. The comic, titled “Nothing Normal About It,” does a great job of bringing to life how normalization misdirects attention away from Israeli crimes and frustrates our efforts to educate people in the US about the conflict.

As we continue to confront the discourse of normalization in the US, we must remember the importance of speaking differently. Our challenge is to articulate narratives that move beyond the entrenched vocabulary of the dominant discourse. This discourse serves not only to limit the scope of permissible discussion, but it also works to demoralize our spirits (so aptly depicted in the comic) and lock our imaginations. Cultural activism of the kind embodied by Keilani and Heitner’s comic enables us to question the dominant ways of seeing things and to present alternative views of the world because it opens up our imaginations, or what Jennifer Verson has referred to as our “insurrectionary imagination”:

An insurrectionary imagination is at the heart of cultural activism. It is a sense of possibility that is not limited by copying a pattern or following a design that somebody else created, or by what Augusto Boal (2002) calls the “cop in the head.” We all have that voice, the one that tells us our ideas are stupid, they won’t work out, they are too difficult or are bound to fail.

Cultural activism relies on killing the cop in your head and expressly tries to develop this insurrectionary imagination to create performances and actions. This living practice addresses complicated questions about how we build the world that we want to live in. Insurrectionary imaginations evoke a type of activism that is rooted in the blueprints and patterns of political movements of the past but is driven by its hunger for new processes of art and protest.

Rafeef Ziadah’s spoken word performance of her poem “We teach life, sir,” exploded across the internet this past week because she creates a narrative which simultaneously unmasks the violence of the Israeli occupation and the complicity of a noxious discourse that excuses Israeli brutality by invoking that great racist colonial trope of the Palestinians as uncivilized barbarians who can only be tamed through brute force. In a mere four minutes, Ziadah turns that discourse, so often repeated in the media, inside out and exposes its moral shallowness. This is the power of the insurrectionary imagination.

As we move forward as a movement, we must be consciously open to seeing, speaking, listening and thinking differently. We must believe in the power of our imaginations to help dissolve the boundary between dream and reality to create a world of unbounded freedom for all.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Op-Ed in The Tennessean Calls for Solidarity with Palestinian Activists

The story of Palestinian nonviolent resistance is one that is rarely told in mainstream US media. On Tuesday, Nashville's largest daily newspaper, The Tennessean, published an op-ed, "Two roads to justice meet in Palestine," by Nour Joudah. Joudah's op-ed brings attention to the Palestinian Freedom Riders and gives voice to the struggle of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. She highlights the similarities of Palestinian nonviolent resistance to Israeli apartheid with the stories she heard growing up in Tennessee about African-Americans' nonviolent protests throughout the Jim Crow South. For Joudah, the common theme tying these struggles together is the brave men and women who stand in defiance of gross discrimination and injustice. She ends her piece with a call to action, "To those who stood against injustice in the 1960s and who are proud of that moment in history, the time has come to raise your voices again, to demand justice for Palestinians. The ride to freedom is long and ever-evolving. But it is a ride that knows no geographical boundaries — whether in the Jim Crow South or Occupied Palestine."

Two roads to justice meet in Palestine

I grew up with two stories, two histories and, in many ways, twocountries. From the age of 5 until 21, I roamed, lived in and lovedTennessee’s hills. But, in those same formative years, I lived from newspiece to news piece, following with bated breath the events of my homeland,Occupied Palestine.

I was blessed with historians who raised me with stories of justice. Ourneighbor, Mr. Miller, would tell me stories of a South I never saw: the JimCrow South. He told me of African-Americans attacked by mobs, of segregatedschools and towns, of redlining and, most importantly, of the brave men andwomen who stood in defiance of the gross discrimination of Jim Crow.

I would go home and listen to my father’s lessons on the IsraeliOccupation of Palestine. Lessons filled with settler attacks on Palestinianvillagers, with checkpoints forbidding movement, with roads and land forJews only, and again, most importantly, lessons about the brave men andwomen who continue to stand in defiance of the gross injustice of anillegal and unjust system of discrimination.

It wasn’t long before it became difficult to tell the narratives apart.This week, my histories merged in a new way.

Tuesday, Palestinian Freedom Riders re-enacted the U.S. Civil RightsMovement’s Freedom Rides in the American South by boarding segregatedIsraeli public transportation in the West Bank to travel to Occupied EastJerusalem. By nonviolently challenging the system of segregation andapartheid that governs their lives, Palestinians took a page from thehistory of another rights movement that stood for justice and freedom.

Some in the Israeli Peace Camp or in Washington, advocates of theso-called peace process, will say this is not the way. They will echo thosewho stood on the wrong side of history.

President Barack Obama honored and thanked the Freedom Riders this pastweek for their courage and dedication 50 years ago. In a Cairo speech in2009, he appeared to encourage similar initiatives of Palestiniannonviolence. Obama has an opportunity now to send a powerful message to theworld by voicing strong support for the efforts of Palestinian FreedomRiders.

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Anna Baltzer Raises Awareness of that Other Occupation at Occupy Demonstrations Across the US

Earlier this week, New York City Mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg ordered the eviction of occupation activists at Zuccotti Park. The eviction at Zuccotti Park comes after similar evictions in Oakland and Portland. While the eviction of Zuccotti Park was underway, the Occupy Wall Street media team issued a statement declaring, "You can't evict an idea whose time has come."

Despite increasing police repression, the #Occupy Movement in the US continues to flourish and gain momentum. This inspiring movement creates opportunities to link the struggle against corporate tyranny and militarism in the US to the Palestinian fight for freedom, justice and equality. In a statement of unity with the Occupy movement, the Palestinian BDS National Committee wrote:

"Our aspirations overlap; our struggles converge. Our oppressors, whethergreedy corporations or military occupations, are united in profiting fromwars, pillage, environmental destruction, repression and impoverishment. Wemust unite in our common quest for freedoms, equal rights, social andeconomic justice, environmental sanity, and world peace."
The US Campaign is working hard to raise public awareness of the counterproductive and unjust use of our tax dollars to fund Israel's brutal occupation. National Organizer Anna Baltzer has participated in occupations in Oakland, Wall Street, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, and beyond, where she has marched, spoken, sung freedom songs,
danced in a flash mob to “I Will Survive,” and more.

Be a part of the movement to reprioritize government spending and help us bring the cost of the Israeli occupation to the Occupy movement!

And be sure to check out Anna's pictures from various Occupy locations around the US!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Urgent: Stop Home Demolitions in Al Hadidiye

Stop the Wall has issued an urgent call to action to stop nine fresh demolition orders issued by the Israeli authorities in the Palestinian Bedouin community of Al Hadidiye. The destruction of Palestinian homes and the ongoing colonization of Palestinian land is being carried out under the cover of US acquiescence and with the assistance of US companies like Caterpillar and Motorola. Stand in solidarity with the Palestinian families facing demolition and heed Stop the Wall's call to action!

Al Hadidiye to be demolished once again: Halt this new wave of ethnic cleansing!

Week against the Apartheid Wall (Nov. 9 – 16) – “Take Apartheid off the Menu” Action Day (Nov. 26)

Immediately contact your consulate and embassy through our email action!

While the international community discusses Palestinian statehood, on the ground Israel is continuing the ethnic cleansing and colonization of Palestine with a further displacement push in the Jordan Valley.

Al Hadidiye is a Bedouin community of some 112 permanent inhabitants and some 130 further inhabitants that during the two cold winter months return back to villages near Tobas as Israeli forces have destroyed their homes already and they have not found the necessary means to build shelters that can protect them from the winter cold. On Thursday November 10, the Israeli authorities served the community nine new demolition orders that target 17 structures and will affect 72 people , including women and children.

Since 1998, the Israeli occupation authorities have implemented a systematic and continuous drive to permanently expel the Palestinians residents of the Jordan Valley from their lands. Most of the people in al Hadidiye have had already their homes destroyed more than five times. Animal shelters and other property is regularly destroyed.

As the Palestinian residents are not allowed access the water from the pipes the Israeli water company Mekorot manages for the use of the settlements, and the digging of wells is prohibited, water has to be brought from a natural spring in the area. Especially in the summer months, Israeli authorities confiscate the water tanks in which the water is transported and stored.

The people in al Hadidiye are entirely dependent on rearing animals as they do not have sufficient water for agriculture. In the nearby Jewish-only settlements of Ro'i and Beqa'ot, agricultural produce is farmed using hi-tech methods and with an abundance of water. Much of this agricultural produce is exported to European supermarkets by Israeli agricultural export companies including Bickel, Mehadrin and Arava.

The Occupation authorities justify their demolition and expulsion order with the fact that the area has been designated a military zone since the 1970s. The 600 people of the communities of Mak’oul, Samra, Hadidiye and Humsa that have been living and grazing their cattle in the 300 000 dunums of the northern Jordan Valley for generations state that the area is not even used as a military zone.

In light of this renewed announcement of home demolitions and forced displacement we ask you to:

Immediately contact your consulate and embassy and urge them to pay the community a solidarity visit BEFORE November 18, the day the demolition order becomes executive, and to send a complaint to the Israeli authorities through the appropriate diplomatic channels.

Raise the issue in your actions during the Week against the Apartheid Wall and during November 26 “Take Apartheid off the Menu” European day of action against Israeli agricultural produce exporters