Thursday, December 27, 2012

U.S. Complicity in Israel's Deadly Actions in Gaza

Our National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner published this piece in The Huffington Post. 

On November 18, an Israeli air force pilot flying a
U.S.-made F-16 fighter jet fired a missile at the four-story home of the al-Dalu family in Gaza City, killing ten members of the family and two from the al-Muzannar family next door. 

An on-site investigation conducted by
Human Rights Watch concluded that the attack was a "clear violation of the laws of war" and demanded that those "responsible for deliberately or recklessly committing a serious violation of the laws of war should be prosecuted for war crimes."


Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Israel's bombing of the al-Dalu home was the single deadliest attack in an eight-day offensive last month against the blockaded and occupied Palestinian Gaza Strip that killed at least 160 Palestinians, of whom 105 were civilians and 34 children, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

Two weeks ago, on International Human Rights Day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the United States works to advance "the universal freedoms enshrined" in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes the "right to life, liberty and security of person." "When governments seek to deny these liberties through repressive laws and blunt force," she intoned, "we stand against this oppression and with people around the world as they defend their rights."

Yet, when it comes to U.S. policy toward Palestinians, this rhetoric rings hollow. The United States arms Israel to the teeth, fails to uphold U.S. human rights laws when Israel uses U.S. weapons to commit abuses of Palestinians and, up to this point, has thrown around its diplomatic heft in international forums to shield Israel from the war crimes prosecutions advocated for by Human Rights Watch and others. 

Israel's recent killing of members of the al-Dalu and al-Muzannar families is a tragic reminder of why 15 leading church figures sent Congress a
letter in October arguing that "unconditional U.S. military assistance to Israel" plays a role in "sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians." These church leaders urged Congress to hold hearings into Israel's violations of the Arms Export Control Act, which limits the use of U.S. weapons to "internal security" and "legitimate self-defense," and to examine Israel's eligibility for any form of U.S. assistance, given that the Foreign Assistance Act prohibits U.S. aid to countries that engage in a consistent pattern of human rights violations. 

Such a reevaluation of U.S. military aid to Israel, which is
scheduled to amount to $30 billion from 2009 to 2018, is desperately needed. Israel is by far and away the largest recipient of U.S. taxpayer-funded military aid and it is patently obvious that these U.S. weapons are being used by Israel to commit systematic human rights abuses against Palestinians. For example, the fighter jet whose missile devastated the al-Dalu and al-Muzannar families very well may have been one of the 93 F-16D fighter jets, valued at $2.5 billion, which U.S. taxpayers financed and transferred to Israel in the previous decade. 

However, far from examining Israel's misuse of U.S. weapons in its most recent attack on Gaza, much less holding it accountable, the Obama administration is moving forward with a proposed weapons deal that would replenish Israel's arsenal. While Clinton offered platitudes about standing against aggression on International Human Rights Day, the
Pentagon was busy that same day notifying Congress that it hopes to ship to Israel 6,900 Joint Direct Attack Munitions tail kits, which "convert free-fall bombs into satellite-guided ordnance," and more than 10,000 bombs to accompany them. 

On previous occasions when the international community attempted to hold Israel accountable for its war crimes -- most notably with the "Goldstone Report" issued after Israel's "Operation Cast Lead" killed more than 1,400 Palestinians in 2008 and 2009, and after Israel killed nine humanitarian activists in international waters who were attempting to deliver goods to Gaza in 2010 -- heavy-handed U.S. diplomatic pressure and its threatened Security Council veto prevented effective action being taken. 

But now that the United Nations General Assembly has voted to make Palestine a "non-member observer state," potentially clearing the way for it to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), Israel may no longer be able to rely on U.S. protection. And as long as the United States refuses to hold Israel accountable for committing human rights abuses of Palestinians with U.S. weapons and keeps the spigot of weapons open, Palestinians should seek redress at the ICC for Israel's war crimes. Due to ongoing U.S. funding for Israel's oppression of Palestinians, it is the only route for families such as the al-Dalu and al-Muzanner to take to receive a modicum of justice.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Israel's War on Christmas

Foreign Policy published a piece earlier this week about "The World War on Christmas" describing "five places where Santa really does have to watch his back." The countries highlighted were Uzbekistan, North Korea, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Cuba for their hostility towards various symbols of Christmas. 

One very obvious country missing from this list is Israel. In his Christmas message, PM Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed: "Today Christian communities around the Middle East are shrinking and in danger. This is of course not true in Israel. Here there’s a strong, growing Christian community that participates fully in the life of our country." 

Palestinian Christians living under under Israeli occupation and apartheid would choose to describe their plight differently. In his piece "Israel's colonial strangling of Bethlehem," Ben White highlights the many challenges this Palestinian city faces developing its tourist dependent economy due to the occupation, including more 30 physical barriers to Palestinian freedom of movement imposed by the Israeli military. In their 2012 Christmas message, members of Kairos Palestine wrote: 
Palestinian Christians are concentrated in an area referred to as the Christian triangle: Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour. This area is being strangled – in terms of access to land, water, health services, education, general mobility, and all related rights –by the unabated wave of settlement construction. Moreover, the forcible isolation of the triangle with its center, Jerusalem, is damaging both to people in Jerusalem and in the Bethlehem area.
Palestinian Christians living within Israel are also victims. Students at Safad Academic College in the Galilee had their Christmas tree taken down because it may spark riots among Jewish students. The ban on Christmas trees from all public buildings in Upper Nazareth continues, and rabbis have issued reminders to hotels and halls: "It is a seriously forbidden to hold any event at the end of the calendar year that is connected with or displays anything from the non-Jewish festivals.”

Sorry Netanyahu, but Israel's "record of religious tolerance and pluralism" makes it more like the five countries waging war on Santa Claus than one that truly respects freedom of religion for all.   

Thursday, December 20, 2012

St. Louis City Board Votes to Investigate Veolia Following Public Outcry

From our member group St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee


St. Louis, Missouri — At 2:30pm on Wednesday, December 19, 2012, at a standing-room only meeting in the mayor’s office for the St. Louis City Board of Estimate & Apportionment (E & A), the Board declined to approve a city contract with Veolia Water, putting off the vote until there can be a full investigation into the company’s history. The decision came in light of new information on the company’s involvement with ethnic discrimination in Palestine, as well as a flurry of phone calls, emails, and meetings voicing “concerns about the company’s human rights practices and financial condition,” as reported by St. Louis National Public Radio.

In the six hours prior to the vote, board members had received more than 200 emails apiece asking them not to rush the contract through. Their phones rang off the hook as local activists also addressed the officials on Twitter. Members of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee and St. Louis Jewish Voice for Peace attended the meeting to show their opposition to Veolia.

The board, which is comprised of the St. Louis City Mayor Francis Slay, Comptroller Darlene Green, and President of the Board of Aldermen Lewis Reed, agreed that they could not in good conscience vote to approve a contract with so many outstanding questions. Earlier, the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee had delivered a statement and facts sheet documenting Veolia’s history of profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation and apartheid policies in Palestine, and the company’s notorious environmentally disastrous activities, anti-labor practices, mismanagement, corruption, bribery, embezzlement, fraud, and failure to make good on promised improvements.

When Mayor Slay presented the contract with a motion to approve, President Reed put forward a motion to postpone the vote in order to allow time for investigation into the company’s practices. While the city’s Water Commissioner and the mayor continued to argue that Veolia was the right company for the job, Green spoke eloquently in agreement with Reed:

“We have several complaints from our citizenry. And I want to honor their complaints [and] their time and desire to ‘Investigate Veolia.’… It’s not our money; it’s their money. Period… You [the citizens] do matter. So let’s get more information.”

Reed expressed concerns that the contract had been added to the agenda at the last-minute, following outcry from environmentalists, workers, the Palestine solidarity community, and other constituencies outraged by the corporation’s abysmal track record.

In spite of the late notice, local organizers mobilized hundreds to spring into action. This victory has shown the power of everyday people standing up to multinational corporations and demanding transparency in public contracts.

Having won the first victory, St. Louisans will now redouble efforts to stop the contract once and for all. It’s time for St. Louis to dump Veolia.

Press contact: Colleen Kelly, info@stl-psc.org.

To keep appraised of developments, join the PSC FB page and/or follow @stlpsc.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

SodaStream Holiday Songs!

Check out these holiday songs put together by our member group American Friends Service Committee that you can use for your SodaStream actions! 


SodaStream the Settlement Product
(to the tune of “Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer”)

SodaStream’s a settlement product,
Made in Mishor Adumim
It’s built on stolen land,
And this really makes us scream

All of the other nations,
Boycott occupation.
So we’re outside of Macy’s
To say no to exploitation!

Sodastream hides their crimes,
So we’re here to say,
Macy’s with your store so bright,
Don’t you care about human rights?

If you deshelve SodaStream,
Then we will all shout with glee,
“Macy’s, thank you for helping,
make occupation history!”


SodaStream is Spoiling our Town
(to the tune of “Santa Claus is coming to Town”)

Oh, you’d better not shop
You’d better not buy
Each dollar spent here helps
Fund apartheid
SodaStream is spoiling, our town

We’re making them shvitz
We’ll make them think twice
We’re gonna boycott until they
Act nice
SodaStream is spoiling, our town

They’re stealing land and water
From towns in the West Bank
Although they make your drink taste good
Rots your soul for goodness sake!

Oh, you’d better not shop
You’d better not buy
Each dollar spent here helps
Fund apartheid
SodaStream is spoiling, our town!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chicago Palestine Events

Iyad Burnat Presentation and Discussion
When: Wednesday, December 12, 7:00pm
Where: School of the Art Institute, 280 S. Columbus, 2nd floor
Suggested Donation $5
Iyad Burnat is head of the Bil’in Popular Committee and a leader in the village’s non-violent popular resistance movement.  Since 2005, citizens of Bil’in have held weekly demonstrations against the building of the Israeli separation wall through the community’s agricultural lands and the encroachment of illegal settlements.  The demonstrators are joined by Israeli and international peace activists, and have maintained a commitment to non-violent methods of resistance in spite of armed, military opposition that has resulted in many injuries and some deaths.
Iyad was born in Bil’in in September of 1973.  He is married and has four children.  He became involved in popular resistance as a teenager, and was arrested by the Israeli military for the first time at age 17.  He was accused of throwing stones, and imprisoned for two years.  Since then he has been arrested and imprisoned by the Israeli military several more times.

During his 2012-2013 American tour, Iyad will tell the stories of Bil’in and life in the occupied West Bank, and talk about strategies for non-violent popular resistance with a goal of peace and prosperity for all people.  His presentation will be accompanied by photos and videos.
-----------
Reception Honoring Iyad Burnat
When: Thursday, December 13, 5:00pm
Where: Grace Place, 637 S. Dearborn
$10 admission. Please RSVP to lynnpollack@gmail.com
Iyad Burnat is a leader of a Palestinian village's popular non-violent protest movement (the Bil'in Popular Committee) against Israeli occupation and illegal land claims and settlement.

He is in the midst of a 2-month speaking tour around the U.S., his first trip here.  Many of us have met Iyad while visiting the West Bank and experienced his family's gracious hospitality.  Iyad is traveling with hand-embroidered goods from his village, and we will have an opportunity to purchase items (just in time for the holidays!) to support Bil'in.
---------- 
Premiere Chicago Screening of the Award-Winning Film5 Broken Cameras by Emad Burnat
When: Thursday, December 13, 7:00pm
Where: School of the Art Institute, 280 S. Columbus, 2nd floor
A Film on Non-Violent Resistance Against the Israeli Occupation. Winner of the Sundance 2012 World Documentary Directing Award and a NY Times Critics Pick.
Followed by a discussion with Iyad Burnat, one of the leaders of the struggle against Israeli Occupation & the building of the apartheid wall in Bil'in, Palestine.
Suggested Donation: $5
Since 2005, residents of Bil’in have held weekly demonstrations against the building of the Israeli separation wall through the community’s agricultural lands, and the steady encroachment of illegal settlements.
These demonstrations are the subject of the recent award-winning documentary film 5 Broken Cameras, which was made by Iyad’s brother, Emad Burnat. When his fourth son, Gibreel, is born, Emad gets his first camera. For more than five years, Emad films the struggle, which is lead by two of his best friends, alongside filming how Gibreel grows. Very soon it affects his family and his own life. Daily arrests and night raids scare his family; his friends, brothers and him as well are either shot or arrested. One camera after another is shot at or smashed, each camera tells a part of his story.
All events are Open to the Public.  Limited Seating.
Co-Sponsored by: Arab-Jewish Partnership for Peace and Justice in the Middle East, American Friends Service Committee, Chicago Faith Coalition for Middle East Policy and Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

DC SodaStream Boycott Campaign Action


From our member group Jewish Voice for Peace-DC Metro.


When: Sunday, December 9th, 2:00-4:00pm

Where: In front of Columbia Heights Mall -- at the Columbia Heights Metro Station on 14th St.-- just north of the intersection with Irving St.

What:  Join DC’s SodaStream Boycott action during the holiday season to educate DC holiday shoppers about the injustice of the Israeli occupation, ask them to refuse to buy SodaStream products, and call on local store managers to tell their corporate headquarters to stop stocking the products. SodaSteam manufactures its beverage carbonating devices in an illegal West Bank settlement. This DC protest action will feature live music, with special SodaStream lyrics, signs and slogans, as well as an informational flyer in English and Spanish, and a card for shoppers to hand in to store owners of the four stores in the mall that carry SodaStream: Bed, Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Staples, and Target.

For more information, contact: jvpdcmetro@gmail.com or call 301-380-9224.

For more information about SodaStream see: http://www.whoprofits.org/company/sodastream-soda-club-group

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Friends Don't Let Friends Buy SodaStream!

Actions from our member groups American Friends Service Committee- West Region and Sacramento Area Peace Action.

SodaStream, a gadget for making carbonated water at home, is made in an illegal Israeli settlement on stolen Palestinian land in violation of international law! Folks who care about human rights and are out shopping for the holidays, could end up inadvertently buying SodaStream because they don’t know the facts. To learn more yourself about why you should not support SodaStream, see here

♥ Please help prevent this from happening by signing this petition asking stores to stop selling SodaStream, and by asking your friends, family, colleagues, etc. to do the same!  Email them, post on Facebook, etc!

:( If you know of anyone who has unfortunately made this purchase, ask them to return SodaStream to the store, along with a letter explaining why they cannot ethically purchase this product. And refer them to one of the many SodaStream alternatives!

♦ If you see SodaStream on sale, please speak to the manager and fill out a comment card asking the store to stop selling it.  You can also contact store CEOs directly; contact information is posted at: http://sacbds.org/store-contacts/.

Stores selling SodaStream include:  Bed, Bath and Beyond, Best Buy, COSTCO, Crate & Barrel, JC Penney, Kohls, Macy’s, Sears, Staples, Sur La Table, Target, Walmart, and Williams-Sonoma.

And if you are in the mood….♫ A SodaStream musical interlude ♫ 

Thank you!!

More info:
www.StopSodaStream.org
www.globalexchange.org/sodastream 
www.HolidaySodaStreamBoycott.wordpress.com

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Congress, Obama Administration Standing on Wrong Side of History

Josh Ruebner is National Advocacy Director at the US Campaign. This piece was published in The Hill





Penalizing Palestinians will not help peace process

By Josh Ruebner, author, Obama and the Quest for Israeli-Palestinian Peace12/03/12 11:00 AM ET


When it comes to shielding Israeli human rights violations and squelching Palestinian freedom and self-determination, Congress never misses an opportunity to reward Israeli intransigence and punish peaceful Palestinian initiatives. 

The Senate defines a “non-germane amendment” as one “that would add new and different subject matter to, or may be irrelevant to, the bill or other measure it seeks to amend.” Senators are now piling on these “non-germane amendments” to the National Defense Authorization Act in a vindictive move designed to penalize Palestinians, the United Nations and even any country that supports Palestinian statehood following last Thursday's 138-9 vote in the General Assembly to upgrade Palestine’s status to that of a “non-member observer state.”

These amendments, described as “ham-fisted” by Americans for Peace Now, could cut off U.S. funding of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) if Palestinians join the International Criminal Court, close the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington, slash U.S. funding of the General Assembly, and even reduce U.S. foreign assistance to any country which voted for Palestine’s upgraded U.N. status.

 These initiatives are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg of Congressional efforts to demonize and reprimand the Palestinians for daring to buck the demands of the United States and Israel that they remain perpetually constrained within a sham “peace process” that has failed miserably to deliver even a modicum of individual and national rights to the Palestinians, who continue to languish under Israel’s oppressive apartheid policies.

However, this genie cannot be put back inside its bottle no matter how significant Congressional sanctions are. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice criticized Thursday’s actions as “grand pronouncements” that “will soon fade.” While the speeches may be forgotten, Palestine’s admittance to the U.N. as a “non-member state” signals the international community’s resounding vote of no confidence in U.S. domination of the “peace process.” It is U.S. diplomacy and leadership, not the international community’s growing solidarity with the Palestinian quest for freedom and self-determination, which is waning.

Sixty five years ago last Thursday the UN voted to partition Palestine into two states, assigning its Jewish minority a majority of the land against the wishes of Palestine’s indigenous inhabitants. This undemocratic move recalled British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour’s infamous, yet honest, confession that “in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country.”

Ironically enough in light of the strenuous efforts by the Obama Administration and Congress to deny Palestine its rightful place among the community of nations, the United States implicitly backed UN membership and recognition of an independent Palestinian state when it supported and arm-twisted other nations into voting for Palestine’s partition in 1947.


Yet 65 years later, thanks in large measure to unconditional U.S. military and diplomatic support for Israel, its discriminatory policies toward Palestinians remain as firmly entrenched as ever. The partition of Palestine led not only to the establishment of Israel in 1948, but also to Israel’s campaign of dispossession and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians (referred to as the Nakba, or “catastrophe” by Palestinians) and the resultant Palestinian refugee crisis. To this day, Israel denies five million Palestinian refugees their international-recognized right of return. Those Palestinians not forced out by Israel at its creation remain second-class citizens, subjected to discriminatory laws and widespread societal racism. And, for the past 45 years, Israel’s brutal military occupation and illegal colonization of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip have rendered a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a remote pipe dream.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cast his initiative to gain “non-member observer state” status for Palestine at the U.N. as a way to salvage the diminishing prospects of a two-state resolution. However, Israel’s response to the vote may have put the final nail in the coffin of attempts to establish an independent Palestinian state. Only hours afterward, a senior Israeli official told The New York Times that Israel had approved preliminary plans to build in the E1 region, “which would connect the large settlement of Maale Adumim to Jerusalem and therefore make it impossible to connect the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem to Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.”

Regardless of whether Palestine’s upgraded status at the U.N. somehow miraculously reverses Israel’s colonization of Palestinian land to enable the establishment of an independent Palestinian state or whether history is coming full circle to a one-state resolution and the “un-partitioning” of Palestine, by backing Israeli apartheid and denying Palestinian freedom and self-determination, Congress and the Obama administration are standing on the wrong side of history.    

Monday, December 3, 2012

Submit Your Song for Gaza's Ark!

From our member group 14 Friends of Palestine- Marin. You can follow the initiative @GazaArk





Gaza’s Ark is having a song contest! Submit your songs by February 1, 2013! 

We are seeking original songs to use to promote Gaza's Ark, which seeks to sail from Palestine to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza. Whereas previous attempts to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza have been made by trying to sail boats from international waters into Gaza, Gaza’s Ark will try to break the blockade from the inside out, carrying goods to export. A boat will be refurbished by Palestinian shipbuilders in Gaza and stocked with Palestinian goods and products, then sail through international waters with both Palestinians and internationals on board. 

The goal is to challenge the ongoing, illegal Israeli blockade and focus worldwide attention on the situation in Gaza and the complicity of the governments that support it or look the other way. You can find more information at http://www.gazaark.org/


Feel free to let your creative genes go wild! 
The winning song will be used as the Gaza’s Ark theme song, and be promoted widely by the project.

Submitting the song to this address
14friendsofpalestine@gmail.com will also verify that you have reviewed and agree with the “need to know” items below.

Need to know:


-All entries submitted must be original songs and shall not infringe any copyrights or any other rights of any third parties.


-Entries will be screened by the Gaza’s Ark steering committee who will select the winner and announce on Valentine’s Day,  February 14, 2013.


-The winners will be notified by email. Winners may be required to sign a form confirming that winner's song is original.


-By submitting the song, the entrant retains all ownership rights of the song and agrees that if selected the winner, Gaza’s Ark shall have the right to use the song to promote Gaza’s Ark.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Join Us to Deliver 30,000 Signatures of Support to Church Leaders

Tomorrow is the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. We and our friends at Kairos USA will be delivering more than 30,000 signatures of support to the 15 courageous church leaders who called on Congress to investigate Israel's misuse of U.S. weapons. 

If you're in DC, please join us for a press conference tomorrow, Thursday, November 29 at 10:00am at the United Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Ave. NE. If you can't make it in person, watch the live-stream of the event from anywhere in the world. 

Calls for ending military aid to Israel are increasing, especially after this latest assault on Gaza that killed 130 Palestinians, including 30 children. Today 52 leading international figures released a statement "Now is the time for a military embargo on Israel!" 
Military ties with Israel have fueled relentless acts of aggression. Israel continues to entrench its subjugation of Palestinians while provoking or initiating armed conflict with its neighbors in the region.
Israel’s attempt to justify this kind of illegal use of belligerent and disproportionate military force as “self-defense” does not stand up to legal — or moral — scrutiny, as states cannot invoke self-defense for acts that serve to defend an unlawful situation which they have created in the first place[2].
We therefore support the call from Palestinian civil society for an urgent and comprehensive military embargo on Israel as an effective, non-violent measure to stop Israel’s wars and repression and to bring about Israel’s compliance with its obligations under international law. This is now a moral and legal imperative to achieve a just and comprehensive peace.
Signatories include Nobel Peace laureates Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Perez Esquível, former Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters, Directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker, international best-seller Naomi Klein and co-drafter of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Holocaust survivor Stéphane Hessel. Read the full letter with complete list of signatories

You can organize to end U.S. military aid to Israel by signing up on our website. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Petition: No to Technion in NYC!

Our member group New Yorkers Against the Cornell-Technion Partnership has started a petition asking the city of New York and Cornell University end their collaboration with The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, especially in light of Israel's most recent military assault on Gaza. The text of the petition is below. Sign then share it with your friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter using #StopTechnion.  

Dear Elected Officials: Carolyn Maloney, Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, Micah Kellner, and Jose Serrano:


We, residents of your District and concerned individuals, are deeply troubled by the proposed plan for Cornell University to partner with The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology to build a campus on Roosevelt Island. 

We are particularly concerned in light of the recent Israeli assault on Gaza, which began on November 14 and lasted 8 days, killing and maiming hundreds, perhaps thousands of civilians including children, and destroying homes and infrastructure.

On November 18, four days into the Israeli assault on Gaza, as civilians were being massacred, Cornell University President David Skorton visited The Technion in Haifa, Israel as “a true friend of the State Israel.” This visit at the height of Israel’s assault shows institutional support by Cornell for Israel’s aggressive attack, and a shameful disregard for Palestinian lives. Skorton’s visit in turn undermines the sincerity of claims he has made that academics should “connect with colleagues in Israel and the Palestinian Territories."

In a clear violation of the First Amendment, a recent peaceful demonstration at Cornell University’s main campus in Ithaca in support of the people of Gaza was aggressively repressed after pro-Israel students contacted the police claiming the gathering violated Cornell’s campus code because it was held without a permit. However, Cornell University’s Campus Code of Conduct clearly states that there is “no need for a mandatory permit” for such outdoor demonstrations.

We understand that New York City needs to invest in education and training opportunities; however, this should not come at the expense of others who are not given that chance and who suffer human rights abuses. The Technion is deeply involved in the development of weaponized and surveillance drones and has joint programs with two of Israel’s largest weapons manufacturers: Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, with which Technion graduates developed the Iron Dome missile defense system used in the recent assault on Gaza; and Elbit Systems, which manufactures Hermes drones used to terrorize and kill civilians in Gaza.

Technologies developed at The Technion and by Technion graduates at companies like these are used to destroy Palestinian houses, farms, business and government buildings, expropriate their water sources, drive them off their land, suppress demonstrations for their rights, and carry out attacks against people in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, and elsewhere in the region. The Technion is thus directly implicated in war crimes. Detailed information and sources can be found on the NYACT website.

You may not know that The Technion practices institutional discrimination against Palestinian students by severely restricting their freedom of speech and assembly and rewarding Jewish students who, unlike the majority of Palestinians, perform compulsory military service in Israel. Not only do these facts contradict New York City and New York State non-discrimination and equal opportunity laws and Cornell University’s own bylaws, they directly contrast the ideals embodied by the recently opened Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island. The park was built to commemorate President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s stated goals of achieving and preserving freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. When President Roosevelt made that speech in 1941, he said that people “everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy those four freedoms, a sentiment which surely must apply to the Palestinian people, as well as all others. 

Now that Cornell NYC Tech has entered into the seven-month Uniform Land Use Review Process, there is an urgent need to take a stand. This review process enables an opportunity to express opposition to Cornell’s partnership with The Technion and to stand up for your District community’s interests.


Petition:
We ask that you, our Elected Officials, voice our concerns and demand:

1. That the City of New York ends this collaboration, for which $100 million of New Yorker tax-payer money has been promised

2. That Cornell University end its partnership with The Technion, in line with the call by the Palestinian Council for Higher Education’s request for “non-cooperation in the scientific and technical fields between Palestinian and Israeli universities.”

We are confident that you will take seriously the important issues raised in this letter.

Sign the petition.

Friday, November 16, 2012

As Children Killed, Israel Supporters Celebrate

Last night a march from the State Department to the White House organized by Palestinian activists to demand Obama pressure Israel to implement an immediate ceasefire and end US military aid was greeted by a group of Israel supporters singing and dancing. Watch what our National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner had to say to this celebration of death. 


View more videos at: http://nbcwashington.com.

Want to do something for Gaza? Join a protest in your city and then organize a boycott SodaStream action on Black Friday! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

UC-Irvine Students Pass Divestment Resolution

On Tuesday, November 13, the Associated Students of University of California-Irvine voted 16-0 to divest from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine, including from companies that contribute to illegal settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories. The effort was led by the Students for Justice in Palestine at UC-Irvine and targets several companies, including Caterpillar, Cemex, and SodaStream. 

This historic victory is even more impressive considering the case of the Irvine 11 involving students who were arrested back in February 2010 for speaking out in opposition to Israeli policies during a speech delivered by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren on campus. 

The press release and video of the vote are below. Interestingly, the Israeli website Ynet published an article just 9 days ago touting how pro-Israel activity is flourishing on California campuses. "Irvine University in California has become a hotbed of pro-Israel activity, only two years after an anti-Israeli attack on former envoy Michael Oren during a speech on campus," claimed the reporter. (h/t @grinhoyz)


UC Irvine students pass historic legislation urging divestment from human rights abuses in Palestine




(IRVINE, CALIF., 11/13/2012)– In an historic move that could initiate a domino effect across America’s campuses, the Associated Students of UC Irvine voted unanimously to divest from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine, including from companies that contribute to illegal settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories. 

With 16 votes in favor, 0 abstentions, and 0 opposed, the elected undergraduate student representatives of the University of California Irvine unanimously passed a resolution urging the University to withdraw its investment funds from Caterpillar, General Electric Company, Hewlett Packard, Raytheon, and other companies profiting from human rights violations in the occupied territories. The students also pledged to further examine UC assets for investments in companies that profit from human rights abuses anywhere in the world. 

The resolution was drafted in response to the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel as a means to force it to comply with international law and end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza; allow Palestinian refugees their internationally guaranteed right to return to their homes and villages; and grant equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel. Other divestment successes have occurred at Hampshire College and Evergreen State College, as well as the WeDivest campaign which focuses on pension fund giant TIAA CREF and has resulted in, among other things, the removal of Caterpillar from its Social Choice Funds. 

Sabreen Shalabi, the student representative on the legislative council for the school of social science and co-author of the legislation said, “I am very proud of my fellow council members and of the students at our University. Our work today stands tall in the noble tradition of students advocating for justice, joining the ranks of those brave and visionary students who demanded that our Universities divest from the terrible crimes of South African apartheid.” 

Traci Ishigo, President of the Associated Student of UCI and a member of the UC Irvine Foundation, said “The decision made by ASUCI’s legislative Council tonight clearly shows the strength and integrity of students utilizing their collective power to protect human rights on a global scale and I stand firmly by the students who believe it is their responsibility to have a voice on matters that urge the UC to be an institution that treasures human dignity.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

PA Seeking to Become Non-Member State

The Palestinian Authority is planning on going ahead with its plan to get the United Nations to recognize Palestine as a "non-member state" on November 29, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, despite opposition from both Israel and the United States.

This vote at the General Assembly could have profound implications for the ability of Palestinians to hold Israel accountable in international courts for its violations of human rights and international law and for the imposition of additional US sanctions against both Palestinians and the United Nations.

We have several resources to help you understand these issues.

1. Listen to a recording of our conference call with Omar Dajani and Phyllis Bennis discussing the implications of Palestine becoming a "non-member state" and what this means for our organizing to change U.S. policy to support human rights, international law, and equality.

2. Read our recently updated FAQ's about Palestine UN Membership and Statehood Recognition.

3. Share the recording with your friends on Facebook and tweet to your followers on Twitter. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Israel to Adorn Wall with Art for PR

Israel's Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein has decided that the international media attention on the apartheid wall, from a public relations standpoint, has been a burden on Israel and it is time for the Israeli government to deal with this problem.  

So what does he suggest to deal with this issue in order to help Israel's public diplomacy efforts? Not to dismantle the wall and actually end Israel's occupation and apartheid policies toward Palestinians. No, what Israel needs to do is "paint pictures on the wall displaying information on terrorist attacks that originated in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas and on attacks that were prevented due to the existence of the barrier." The ministry will be working with Israeli artists and schoolchildren to make this happen. 

This is just the latest example of Israeli propaganda efforts and highlights the use of art to whitewash Israel's crimes. Check out how you can get involved with cultural boycott efforts through our member group the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

Monday, November 5, 2012

Palestinian Home Demolished for the Sixth Time

From our member group the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions-USA


Israeli authorities demolished Beit Arabiya (“Arabiya’s House”) on the moring of November 1, 2012 for the sixth consecutive time since 1998. It was reconstructed in July of this year in the aftermath of its fifth demolition in January 2012. 


Beit Arabiya, located in the West Bank town of Anata (Area C) just to the northeast of Jerusalem, is a living symbol of resistance to Occupation and the desire for justice and peace. Beit Arabiya is a home belonging to Arabiya Shawamreh, her husband Salim, and their seven children, a Palestinian family whose home has been demolished five times by the Israeli authorities and rebuilt each time by ICAHD’s Palestinian, Israeli, and international peace activists.

Arabiya and Salim have dedicated their home as a center for peace in the memories of Rachel Corrie and Nuha Sweidan, two women (an American and a Palestinian) who died resisting home demolitions in Gaza. In the past decade ICAHD has hosted numerous visitors at Beit Arabiya, and based its annual rebuilding camp at the house, rebuilding 186 demolished Palestinian homes.

Beit Arabiya was recently rebuilt during ICAHD’s tenth annual rebuilding camp that attracted more than thirty internationals, that stood side by side with Israelis and Palestinians who refuse to be enemies, demonstrating that there are partners for peace. Within two weeks, the pile of rubble left after the demolition of the house in the middle of night on 23 January earlier this year, was transformed into a fully functioning house with extensive terrace, made possible by nearly one hundred additional volunteers, including international youth, part of summer delegations to Palestine.

Every year hundreds of Palestinians are forced from their homes, homes built on land they own. Since 1967 Israel has demolished more than 26,000 Palestinian homes in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. ICAHD has rebuilt a total of 186 Palestinian homes illegally demolished by Israel and is determined to see this illegal policy stop. 

In June 2012 the United Nations Human Rights Council received the annual report of Prof. Richard Falk, Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the OPT. Falk highlighted the disturbing case of Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh, and stated it was “illustrative of a common Palestinian complaint that their property rights are indirectly usurped through the denial of formal permits and the subsequent issuance and execution of demolition orders.” The UN expert further highlighted that “
while it will be rebuilt once again next month, the family will live under the threat of having its home demolished at any moment. The ever-present threat of Israeli bulldozers perverts the sense of normalcy so essential for raising children.” 

Continue Reading 

Organize to end US military aid to Israel. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Take Action: Palestinian Activist Not Allowed To Travel Through Jordan

Iyad Burnat, a Palestinian activist from Bil'in, was on his way to the United States to give presentations in more than 15 states describing his work for peace and justice. 

On Thursday November 1, Iyad was allowed by the Israelis to cross the border on his way to Amman, Jordan for his flight to the United States, but he was detained by the Jordanian border officials, who refused him entry into Jordan.  He is currently back in Bil’in awaiting the resolution of this matter so that he can continue on his journey.

Help Iyad get to the United States by contacting the Jordanian Embassy in Washington, DC

Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan


3504 International Drive NW, Washington, DC 20008



Telephone: (202) 966-2664

Fax: (202) 966–3110

Email: hkjembassydc@jordanembassyus.org

You can say:

"I am writing/calling to request that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan please allow Mr. Iyad Burnat of Bil’in, Palestine to travel to Amman for his flight to the United States.  Mr. Iyad is scheduled for a series of speaking engagements in the US from November 2012 to February 2013.  The invitation to the U.S. was extended by Jewish Voice for Peace and Interfaith Peace Builders. Mr. Iyad is coming to the United States to give presentations describing his work for peace and justice, work that he carries out in conjunction with Israeli and international peace activists who are dedicated to non-violence and human rights for all people. I am appealing to the Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to please allow Mr. Iyad to cross the border so that he may fly from the airport in Amman."

If you can add that you are affiliated with an organization, that would be helpful. Emphasize that lots of Americans are waiting to hear these presentations and that he was released to travel by Israeli authorities.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Our Greatest Strength is When We Come Together

The African Heritage Delegation to Palestine/Israel, organized by our member group Interfaith Peace-Builders, arrived in Jerusalem last week. Below are some early impressions from participants. 

Initial Welcome, Lasting Impressions
By Dr. Gilo Kwesi Cornell Logan

My initial welcome to Israel was being detained and interrogated for nearly 3 hours at the airport; the psychological and spiritual harassment was interspersed with questioning and waiting, waiting and questioning; condescending tones non-rhythmically thrown at me that I was expected to dance to, private questions piercing the peace of my heart, as intimidation attempted to suppress something from deep within.  But it is from this very same place within that this experience thus far has validated an essential part of my being as an African American; it has since shown me that it does not define the totality of the experience participating on this African Heritage Delegation to Israel.

I have come to see that my experience as an African American living in America has prepared me to – not only cope with the interrogation in a way that has turned what may be perceived as a negative experience into a strong positive – but to learn of things once unimagined... like meeting Black Ethiopians of the ancient Christian tradition, speaking with Black Sudanese and experiencing their plight, meeting Black Eritreans refugees who have recreated dignity in a foreign land, sitting with Arab Palestinians whose struggle for human rights, autonomy, and liberation mirrors, in many ways, our own as African Americans; and walking with Jews from North Africa who migrated to Israel decades ago and have modeled essential elements of their struggle for equality and dignity after the Black Panther movement in America – all in Israel!

To learn about this is powerful.  To experience this reality is transformative.  To live at one with these people – even if only for this moment – is liberating.  It puts into perspective the reality that oppressed people the world over hold African Americans in a higher esteem and a brighter light than many of us hold for ourselves.  It is only through this type of travel and experience on the other side of the world, and the knowledge gained from it, that we as an African heritage delegation have come to better know and understand ourselves, our situation, and our authentic beauty and boundless power as African Americans in living in America.

Excerpt from “The Way of the Black Panthers”
By Reverend Joi Orr

Today we visited a neighborhood in western Jerusalem made up of Jews of North African descent, living in the homes of Palestinians who were kicked out by Israeli forces in 1948. In 1971 this community formed a branch of the Black Panther party to gain equal rights and political representation in Israel which considered them second class citizens because of their African heritage.  The parallels between their struggle and the American black struggle of the 60 and 70’s are obvious; discrimination, segregation, second class citizenry, etc. 

However, knowing and discussing the parallels isn’t what brought me to tears.  What made me feel like I had golf balls in throat was the commemorative street sign erected by the “Muslala” activist-artist community collective.  The street sign read “The Way of the Black Panthers” and was the bookend to a series of alleyways that coursed throughout the North African community.

The Struggle Continues for the Sacred Homelands of Palestine
by Aaron Dixon

Visiting the holy site of Gethsemane Church helped me to understand the importance of Palestine in the eyes of the world, and how connected Palestinians and Jews are throughout history. I also recognized how the Palestine-Israeli conflict is at the center of world politics.

Meeting the founders of the Israeli Black Panthers underscored the inter-conflict of the darker Jews and the European Jews, and Israel as a racist security state.  The meeting also brought forward the complex issue of land rights and the true owners of East Jerusalem communities, since the Israeli Black Panthers were progressive movement builders who were and still occupy Palestine to this day.

Our delegation had an opportunity to meet with a Palestinian family and observe firsthand the struggle between them and racist Zionist Jewish settlers.  Most striking was the Palestinian family’s determination and strength, which was embodied in their 90-year-old grandmother who had been beaten and hospitalized on five different occasions by Jewish settlers who currently occupy a section of their home and the violent Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Click here to watch a video of the meeting.

The family’s desire, courage, and commitment is an inspiration to all oppressed people throughout the world, who are fighting to hold on to their sacred lands.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Protesters in NY Highlight Whitewashing of Israeli Apartheid

Press release from our member group Adalah-NY. Check out photos from the action here

New Yorkers, cultural workers speak out against Israel Philharmonic for whitewashing apartheid 

October 25, 2012 – Over 60 New Yorkers
protested the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s (IPO) performance at Carnegie Hall Thursday evening, using chants, songs and street theater to highlight the IPO’s role in whitewashing Israel’s apartheid policies against the Palestinian people.


Accompanied by the marching band Rude Mechanical Orchestra, protesters chanted, “Oboe, trumpet, or bassoon / Apartheid is out of tune!” and “IPO gets no ovation / Ambassador for occupation!” In a twice-repeated skit, New York actor and playwright Una Osato – sporting a tie that read, “Drown out the Truth” – conducted the “Israel Whitewashing Orchestra.” Passers-by stopped to watch the “musicians” as they fiddled over the sounds of Palestinian cultural workers’ testimonies about the effects of Israeli occupation on their lives. 


Concert-goers lingered at the Carnegie Hall entrance across the street, listening to the band lead protesters in a version of “Which Side Are You On?” Daniel Strum from Adalah-NY explained, “Tonight we are telling the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, and the Israeli government that its ‘Brand Israel’ campaign cannot cover up the injustice that Palestinians face.” The IPO will also be met with protests on its tour dates in Las Vegas and Los Angeles later this month. 

Earlier this week, Adalah-NY made public a letter asking Carnegie Hall not to host the IPO, signed by over 50 artists, including author Alice Walker and musician Roger Waters of Pink Floyd. At the beginning of October, Adalah-NY sent a similar letter to Carnegie Hall administrators and trustees urging them to reconsider the IPO’s appearance, with no response from Executive and Artistic Director Clive Gillinson or any other recipient. 


By serving as cultural ambassadors for Israel, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is supporting the Israeli government's “Brand Israel” initiative, a campaign by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to divert public attention from Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people and “
show Israel’s prettier face, so we [Israel] are not thought of purely in the context of war.” The IPO has done nothing to distance itself from the Brand Israel campaign, nor has it ever made a public statement against the oppression of the Palestinian people. On the contrary, the orchestra proudly touts its special concerts for Israeli soldiers, and American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra calls it "Israel’s finest cultural emissary.” 

One
corporate sponsor of the IPO is Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, whose companies continue to build illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and have been involved in human rights abuses in the diamond industry in Southern Africa. Leviev's companies have been shunned by UNICEF, CARE, Oxfam, the British and Norwegian government, Hollywood stars, and international investment firms because of these activities. 

The protests by US activists and international cultural figures respond to
the call from Palestinian civil society to boycott institutions that work to normalize Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and the oppression of Palestinians in Israel, in the occupied territories, and in exile. The growing global movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel has gained momentum in recent years, with performers such as Carlos Santana, Cassandra Wilson, The Pixies, and Pete Seeger supporting the Palestinian call for cultural boycott. The Palestinian BDS movement is a nonviolent campaign for Palestinian rights inspired in part by the international boycott campaign that helped abolish apartheid in South Africa.