Thursday, September 6, 2012

There is No Occupation So Why Are We Holding Our Conference?

There are only two weeks left to register online for our 11th Annual National Organizers' Conference at St. Louis University, September 21-23. We keep adding great speakers and workshops to our program, so check out what we have planned and register today!

We have many achievements to celebrate since last year. This increasing success of BDS campaigns and of efforts to educate the public about the moral and economic costs of U.S. military aid has Israel's supporters fighting hard to stifle any discussion around U.S. complicity in Israel's occupation and apartheid policies toward Palestinians. 

The Louis D. Brandeis Center, which supposedly works to "promote justice for all," issued a press release recently calling our conference "controversial" because of a "likelihood that anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate will be expressed." The president of St. Louis University, who went on a propaganda trip to Israel this summer sponsored by the "educational institute" of the American Jewish Committee, is being asked to speak out against our conference and make it clear that the "hateful, anti-Israel message of the boycott movement" is not consistent with the Jesuit mission of St. Louis University. 

Another group, Scholars for Middle East Peace, which purports to promote honest and fact-based discourse on Middle East issues, claimed that the Israeli occupation is a "relic of the past" as a recent Israeli government-appointed commission of jurists likewise concluded. They argued that it is time for Palestinians and their allies, including the US Campaign, to stop spreading "lies" about the existence of Israeli occupation. 

Why are these pro-Israel groups making ridiculous claims about the US Campaign and our work, and pressuring the university president to speak out against our conference? Because they know we’re succeeding and our conference is an important venue to move our work forward even more. Join us!

Initiatives to curtail efforts to expose Israel's crimes against Palestinians are also being taken up by state governments. The California State Assembly last week passed a resolution calling upon public universities to condemn “student- and faculty-sponsored boycott, divestment, and sanction campaigns against Israel that are a means of demonizing Israel and seek to harm the Jewish state.”

Several of our member groups, including American Muslims for Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, signed a letter to lawmakers organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations- California. The letter condemned the resolution, which "encourages university administrators to infringe upon students’ free speech rights. By equating legitimate political debates about geopolitics with anti-Semitism, the resolution emboldens administrators to take action to chill and prevent such speech."

Join us and our member groups at our conference to stand up to these attempts to censor efforts to end U.S. support for Israel's brutal policies toward Palestinians. Register today and help us change U.S. policy to support human rights, international law, and equality.