Thursday, February 9, 2012

Get Your City to Take a Stand against Weapons to Israel

city hall illustrationBy Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director

On Monday, President Obama is scheduled to submit his 2013 budget request to Congress, which could include as much as $3.1 billion in military aid to Israel! 

Weapons that we taxpayers give to Israel demand an unacceptable moral cost, enabling Israel to injure and kill Palestinian civilians, entrench its 44-year military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, expropriate Palestinian land for illegal Israeli settlements, and perpetuate its apartheid regime over Palestinians. 

Military aid to Israel also has an unacceptable financial cost.  A policy paper we'll be launching during Occupy AIPAC (register to participate, March 2-6) puts it this way:

"During this time of economic crisis, it is irresponsible for the United States to continue to expand military aid to Israel--or, indeed, continue it at present levels. The remainder of the $30 billion pledged to Israel in the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) but not yet appropriated, could be easily foregone, thereby reducing the U.S. national debt. A far better use of the taxpayer money the United States now gives to Israel--the 28th wealthiest country in the world in 2011 according to the International Monetary Fund--for weapons could be much better spent to help meet unmet community needs here at home."

That's exactly why we're investing resources to help grassroots activists like you to organize to get the your city council to pass a resolution to end military aid to Israel and to redirect that money to crucial needs in your community.

If you or your local activist group are interested in making this happen in your city, then take advantage of these great opportunities:

1.Join the US Campaign for an all-day training and strategy session this Sunday, February 12 in Milwaukee, WI. For those of you in the area, learn more and register here.

2.Join the US Campaign for a conference call on Wednesday, February 15 at 9:00 pm (Eastern). Join our conference callOur special guests will be two activists who have undertaken extraordinary work to pass local and national resolutions to end U.S. spending on wars and redirect the money to unmet community needs:

Lisa Savage is Local Coordinator for CODEPINK and a co-coordinator of Maine's Bring Our War $$ Home campaign, which aims to educate and influence public opinion by means of city council resolutions.

As the CODEPINK Bring Our War $$ Home campaign organizer, C.J. Minster led the successful national grassroots effort to submit and pass a resolution "Calling on Congress to Redirect Military Spending to Domestic Priorities at the US Conference of Mayors."

Lisa and C.J. will share their expertise and provide us with inspiration, while the US Campaign shares with you the resources we've developed to help you organize locally. 

To join the call, dial 209-647-1600 and enter the access code 489902.

3.Matching FundsAnd, don't forget about our matching funds competition. Your local group could be eligible to receive part of the $7,500 in matching funds that we are providing to member groups of the US Campaign that are organizing city council campaigns this year.  But, act quickly, because the deadline is February 19. Learn more about the competition and apply here.

We've assembled an all-star panel of judges to help us select winning applications:

Laila El-Haddad is a journalist, blogger, media activist based in Baltimore, and author of Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything in Between.

Nadia Hijab is director of Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network, and a writer, public speaker and media commentator. She is an Advisory Board member of the US Campaign.

Remi Kanazi is a poet, writer, and activist based in New York City. He is the author of Poetic Injustice: Writings on Resistance and Palestine.