Wednesday, February 29, 2012

SeaMAC launches new ad campaign on King County Metro buses

Check out the latest bus ad by US Campaign member group SeaMAC.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: press@SeaMAC.org

Peter Lippman (206) 432 1669
Edward Mast   (206) 633-1086
Carla Curio (206) 450-0706

SeaMAC launches new ad campaign on King County Metro buses

Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SeaMAC) has launched new ads on King County Metro buses as part of a continuing effort to expose the misuse of U.S. taxpayer money to support Israel’s ongoing discrimination against the Palestinian people.

With the slogan “I’M A PALESTINIAN – EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL”, the ads will run on twelve buses for the next four weeks.  Photo available on request.

SeaMAC’s new ad campaign is also part of Israeli Apartheid Week, February 27-March 2.   Local Israeli Apartheid Week events are being held at the University of Washington, Antioch University and Seattle University. Visit http://seattle.apartheidweek.org/ for information.

“Palestinians want equal rights,” says Carla Curio, volunteer with SeaMAC.  “Israel’s discrimination and apartheid are basic causes of the ongoing conflict.  Equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis will be the foundation of a just peace.”

Israel controls the lives of over five million Palestinians, most of whom have neither voting rights, political rights nor civil rights.  Israel has separate sets of laws, rights and opportunities for Israeli Jews and non-Jews.  Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are denied basic civil rights.  Palestinians citizens of Israel are subject to segregation and discrimination, with central provisions of Israel’s Basic Law explicitly denying equal status to non-Jews.

The US gives several billion dollars of military aid to Israel each year, plus political, diplomatic and military support, in spite of US laws forbidding such aid to any country that has a consistent record of gross violations of human rights.

SeaMAC designed the new ads to fit King County Metro’s revised and restricted advertising policy.  SeaMAC continues to pursue a lawsuit against King County for censoring SeaMAC’s Metro bus ad campaign launched last December, “ISRAELI WAR CRIMES: YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK,” which was approved, accepted, printed, then cancelled by King County.  With legal representation by the ACLU, SeaMAC has filed an appeal to overturn a recent dismissal of the lawsuit.

SeaMAC has also been running a series of print ads exposing Israel’s ongoing discrimination and war crimes against Palestinians.  The complete series of SeaMAC ads is available at www.SeaMAC.org.

Press packet available on request.

The Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign is incorporated as a non-profit corporation in Washington State and as a 501 (c)(3) organization under Federal tax code.

###

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lawsuit against Olympia Food Co-Op declared illegal lawsuit against public participation

VICTORY FOR OLYMPIA FOOD CO-OP, PALESTINE AND BDS MOVEMENT:


Judge: Lawsuit Violates Washington Free Speech Protections

February 27, 2012 – Olympia, WA – In a landmark ruling, Judge Thomas McPhee has declared a lawsuit against the Olympia Food Coop illegal under Washington State law and awarded legal fees and sanctions to the defendants. Lawyers for the Olympia Food Co-op argued in court that a lawsuit brought against the store for its participation in a boycott of Israeli goods should be dismissed as illegal under Washington’s anti-SLAPP legislation.

Washington law forbids SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation), which target the right of free speech by forcing defendants into costly legal battles. Despite ultimately being found meritless, these suits make the exercise of constitutionally protected speech costly and difficult. “This ruling has huge implications for justice,” says Rochelle Gause, a board member and defendant in the lawsuit, adding “with growing awareness around this issue, the bullying and intimidation employed by those who defend Israeli Human Rights abuses at all costs is becoming less and less viable. Hopefully this judgment will open up the door for more businesses and organizations t o heed the call and join this movement for human dignity.”

“We are pleased the Court found this case to be what it is – an attempt to chill free speech on a matter of public concern. This sends a message to those trying to silence support of Palestinian human rights to think twice before they bring a lawsuit,” said Maria LaHood, a senior staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, including several failed candidates for the board of directors, wrote that the coming suit was intended to hamper the Co-op’s ability to participate in the boycott of Israeli goods. The letter, dated May 31, 2011, states in part that “we will bring legal action against you,” and that the execution of the boycott would become “complicated, burdensome, and expensive.” In response, the board of directors reiterated that the proper process for overturning a boycott is a “member-initiated ballot”, and that the opponents of the boycott could put it to a vote of the membership, and Judge McPhee noted that the plaintiffs offered no evidence that they exhausted all manner of challenging boycott.

“The opponents of this boycott have had every opportunity to rescind the boycott using the fair and democratic process laid out in the Co-op bylaws,” says Johan Genberg, a longtime co-op member, adding “ wanted to punish the store for speaking out for social justice, but isn't that exactly what makes the Olympia Food Co-op unique? The store reflects the values of this community.”

Farihan Bushnaq, a Co-op member since 1983 adds “as a Palestinian refugee and a member of the Olympia Co-op I wholeheartedly support the boycott, as a way to save Israel from its own excesses, and to end the continued dehumanization of the Palestinian people under Israeli control.”

The Olympia Food Co-op, formed in 1976, is a nonprofit corporation with a mission to “contribute to the health and well-being of people by providing wholesome foods and other goods and services” and to “encourage economic and social justice”. The Co-op has participated in many national and local boycotts, including those against Norway for whaling practices and Colorado for anti-gay legislation. In 2010, the Board of Directors reached a consensus decision to remove Israeli products. The boycott urges Israel to comply with international law, end its occupation of Palestinians, and respect the rights of refugees. Members of the co-op suggested the boycott in response to the 2005 call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) by a broad coalition of over 180 Palestinian civil society organizations.

The Co-op’s decision to boycott Israeli products, the first of its kind in the nation, sparked several months of constructive discussion on the store’s relationship to social justice. The subsequent election for the Co-op Board demonstrated widespread support for the boycott among the membership when the five publicly pro-boycott candidates won by a large margin in a record turnout election.

Under anti-SLAPP legislation, defendants will be eligible to recoup attorney’s fees and penalties.

The case is Davis, et al., v. Cox, et al., Case No. 11-2-01925-7 in the Superior Court of the State of Washington in Thurston County.

Organizers are available to speak with the press.

» Read the press release from the Center for Constitutional Rights / Olympia Food Co-op...

» More information on the Center for Constitutional Rights’ case page...

» More information on the Olympia BDS website...

» Read more from the Olympia Food Co-op...

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Filed Over Boycott of Israeli Goods

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Jen Nessel, CCR, press@ccrjustice.org
Jayne Kaszynski, Olympia Food Co-op, publicrelations@olympiafood.coop

Court Finds Suit Is Effort to Chill Boycotters’ Public Statements
On Issue of Public Concern

February 27, 2012, Olympia, WA and New York, NY – Today, in a lawsuit brought against current and former members of the Olympia Food Co-op board of directors for their decision to boycottIsraeli goods, a Washington State court dismissed the case, calling it a SLAPP – Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation – and said that it would award the defendants attorneys’ fees, costs,and sanctions. The judge also upheld the constitutionality of Washington’s anti-SLAPP law, which the plaintiffs had challenged.

In a court hearing last Thursday, lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Davis Wright Tremaine LLP argued that the court should grant the defendants’ Special Motion toStrike and dismiss the case because it targeted the constitutional rights of free speech and petition in connection with an issue of public concern.

“We are pleased the Court found this case to be what it is – an attempt to chill free speech on a matter of public concern. This sends a message to those trying to silence support of Palestinian humanrights to think twice before they bring a lawsuit,” said Maria LaHood, a senior staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights.

On Thursday, the courtroom was filled with interested observers, and boycott supporters held a rally outside the courthouse. Today, the courtroom was filled to overflowing and many co-opsupporters spilled into the hallway.

"We're thrilled that the court saw fit to protect the board's right to free speech. This decision affirms the right to engage in peaceful boycotts without fear of being dragged through expensive litigation,” said Bruce E.H. Johnson of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, who drafted Washington State’s Anti-SLAPP law.

Also at the hearing on Thursday, the court denied plaintiffs’ motion for discovery, which sought to depose defendants and obtain documents. The defendants’ attorneys had argued that lengthydepositions and voluminous document production is precisely the type of burden the anti-SLAPP statute was intended to prevent. Before the case was filed, the plaintiffs sent the co-op boardmembers a letter indicating that plaintiffs would bring a “complicated, burdensome, and expensive” legal action if the co-op did not end the boycott.

“Today’s victory is not only for the Co-op, but one for free speech,” said Jayne Kaszynski, spokesperson for the Olympia Food Co-op, and one of the defendants in the case. “We look forward toreturning all of our energy to the Co-op’s mission.”

SLAPPs are lawsuits that target the constitutional rights of free speech and petition in connection with an issue of public concern Although many cases that qualify as SLAPPs are without legalmerit, they can nonetheless effectively achieve their primary purpose: to chill public debate on specific issues. Defending against a SLAPP requires substantial money, time, and legal resources, andcan divert attention away from the public issue and intimidate and silence other speakers. Washington State’s Anti-SLAPP statute was enacted in 2010 to deter such lawsuits.

The boycott is part of a global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel for what boycotters say are violations of international law and the denial of Palestinian human rights. The lawsuit seeks to prevent enforcement of the boycott policy and to collect monetary damages against the 16 past and current board members. The case was filed by five co-op members, purporting to bring the suit on behalf of the co-op itself, which has approximately 22,000 members.

The Olympia Food Co-op is a nonprofit corporation that was formed in Olympia, Washington in 1976. The co-op seeks to make good food accessible to more people while encouraging economic and social justice, and it has a long history of social justice work. In 2010, the board passed a resolution by consensus to boycott Israeli goods.

The case is Davis, et al., v. Cox, et al., Case No. 11-2-01925-7 in the Superior Court of the State of Washington in Thurston County. For more information and today’s argument, and to viewfilings in the case, visit the Center for Constitutional Rights case page.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is counsel on the case with CCR cooperating counsel Barbara Harvey from Detroit, Michigan, and Steven Goldberg from Portland, Oregon, along with Seattle attorneys Bruce E.H. Johnson and Devin Smith of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. For more information about Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, visit http://www.dwt.com/.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for socialchange. Visit www.ccrjustice.org; follow @theCCR.

The Olympia Food Co-op is a member-based, not-for-profit, natural foods grocery store with two locations in Olympia, WA. The Olympia Food Co-op has provided healthy, organic and local food to the Olympia area since 1977, with an emphasis on promoting social and environmental responsibility. The stores are collectively managed and largely volunteer-run. Visit www.olympiafood.coop.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rally Tomorrow to Support Olympia Food Co-op!


Responding to the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, the Olympia Food Co-op voted in July 2010 to boycott Israeli products until Israel ends the occupation, respects Palestinian human rights, and complies with international law. Pro-Israel forces responded by filing a lawsuit against the Co-op in September of last year. The lawsuit alleges the Co-op's board acted beyond the scope of its authority and committed procedural violations in enacting the boycott.


In November, working with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the Co-op fought back by filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that is a form of legal and financial intimidation designed explicitly to silence free speech and penalize political participation. In legal terms, this kind of lawsuit is referred to as a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) and Washington state has an anti-SLAPP statute to deter such lawsuits.


A hearing on the Co-op's motion to dismiss the SLAPP suit will take place this Thursday, February 23 at 9:00am at Thurston County Superior Court in Washington State. US Campaign member group the Rachel Corrie Foundation, along with Olympia Food Co-op members, Olympia BDS and others are rallying people to the hearing and will be gathering outside the courthouse before and after to demonstrate support. If you are in the area, please join them in defending for your constitutionally guaranteed right to political participation and fight against those who wish to silence and intimidate the voices of justice.

For those of you unable to join the rally tomorrow, you can sign the statement of solidarity to show your support for the Olympia Food Co-opCCR will be doing live updates and media coverage via its Twitter feed, @theCCR, and will be using the hashtag #RighttoBoycott. Follow them on Twitter and help spread the word!

For more information about the lawsuit, please visit the CCR case page. The CCR has also prepared a very informative fact sheet about the lawsuit and the right to boycott that can be downloaded here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Urgent Call to Action for Khader Adnan, in "Immediate Danger of Death"

Al Dameer Association for Human Right, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights Issued the following Urgent Call to Action several hours ago for Khader Adnan, who is now on his 65th day of hunger strike.

We call upon you to exert all possible influence and pressure on the Israeli Authorities to immediately release detainee Khader Adnan, whose life is in immediate danger as he has been on a hunger strike for the past 64 days.

The arbitrary detention of Adnan commenced on 17 December 2011, when he was kidnapped from his home in the northern West Bank village of Arrabe, during a nightly raid carried out by Israeli soldiers. His two young daughters and pregnant wife were witness to this.

Adnan initiated his current hunger strike on 18 December, protesting being detained without charges or being notified of the reason for his detention. He is being detained without charge or trial under a four-month administrative detention order, which could be indefinitely renewed for the duration of six months.

For the past decades Israel has applied the procedure of administrative detention on a large scale, systematically imprisoning thousands of Palestinians, as a tool of political oppression. This is a grave violation of the fourth Geneva Convention as well as the Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention Against Torture.

Khader Adnan has the law on his side. His life should be saved and the law should be respected. We urge you to make direct contact with the responsible Israeli officials and authorities, demanding the immediate release of Khader Adnan, in a critical attempt to save his life.

Finally, please adopt this call and spread the appeal from your respective capacity and/or organization.

It is time to act. Tomorrow might be too late.

Whom to contact:

Minister of Justice
Yaakov Neeman
29 Tsalch Adin Street
Jerusalem 91490
Telephone:  +972 2 646-6666
Fax:  +972 2 670-6357
Click here to email.

Military Judge Advocate General
Brigadier General Danny Efroni
6 David Elazar Street
Hakirya, Tel Aviv, Israel
Fax: +972 3 569 4526
Click here to email.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence
Ehud Barak
Ministry of Defence
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya
Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
Fax: +972 3 69 16940 / 62757

Commander of the IDF in the West Bank
Major-General Avi Mizrahi
GOC Central Command
Military Post 01149
Battalion 877, Israel Defense Forces, Israel
Fax: +972 2 530 5724

This call to action can be found online here.

Background information and the latest news can be found here. Below are some exerpts:

Ramallah, 19 February 2012—Israel’s High Court of Justice has today scheduled a petitions hearing regarding the case of Khader Adnan to take place Thursday, 23 February 2012 at 11:30am. The petition was filed by Khader Adnan’s lawyers on 15 February. The High Court of Justice was provided with a detailed medical report prepared on 14 February by an Israeli-accredited doctor on behalf of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel). Despite the elaborate medical report, which confirmed that Khader Adnan “is in immediate danger of death,” and that “a fast in excess of 70 days does not permit survival,” the Israeli High Court appointed the petition session for 23 February with no guarantees that a decision will be made on the same day. By then, Khader Adnan—if alive—will have reached the 69th day of his ongoing hunger strike.

...

Khader Adnan’s original appeal hearing took place on 9 February in a room at Zif Medical Center in Safad where Khader was hospitalized due to his medical condition as resulting from his ongoing hunger strike. In disregard to his medical condition the Court of Appeals delayed its decision until 13 February 2012, which marked Khader’s 58th day of his ongoing hunger strike. The decision statement rejecting the appeal issued by Judge Moshe Tirosh stated that Judge Tirosh found that the administrative order decision based on the “secret evidence” was balanced, and that Khader had only himself to blame for his medical condition owing to his choice to continue his hunger strike.

...

Addameer and PHR-Israel call on the local and international communities to: 
  • Apply pressure on the Military Commander, Yair Koles, to immediately cancel Khader Adnan’s administrative detention order;
  • Apply pressure on Israel’s High Court of Justice to reschedule the date of the petition to a closer date;
  • Apply pressure on the government of Israel to immediately release Khader Adnan;
  • Send representatives to attend the  Israeli High Court of Justice’s open petition hearing regarding Khader Adnan;
  • Apply pressure on the government of Israel to conform to international law and end its unlawful practices of arbitrary imprisonment, and release all Palestinians held in administrative detention.

Friday, February 17, 2012

David Wildman at PennBDS: Motorola and Caterpillar profited off apartheid South Africa before occupation

Wildman
David Wildman serves on the Steering Committee of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, which has supported the national boycott and divestment campaigns against Motorola and Caterpillar for much of the past decade. The following appeared on Mondoweiss.


by Alex Kane on February 6, 2012


Palestinian-American poet Remi Kanazi, who had a rocking performance at Penn's boycott, divestment and sanctions conference (BDS) Saturday night, explained the appeal of BDS in a tweet: "#BDS [is] so successful because it's a positive, ethical, rights based, anti-racist & inclusive movement to upend Apartheid. #pennbds." The conference showcased those qualities. But to add to Kanazi's list, one reason why BDS campaigns targeting Israeli apartheid is so appealing is because it has a successful precedent to look to, as David Wildman reminded conference-goers.
Wildman is a long-time faith-based activist who gave a talk on Saturday during a panel on the movement against South African apartheid. He told conference goers that, just as Motorola and Caterpillar profit from the Israeli occupation, these companies profited from South African apartheid. And as I learned after doing some reading, Motorola did eventually divest from South Africa in 1985. Today, Motorola and Caterpillar are the targets of divestment campaigns across the country--this time with the focus on Israel.
Adalah-NY has the history on Motorola:
Motorola today enables Israeli apartheid as Motorola South Africa once enabled South African apartheid. Forty percent owned by its American parent, Motorola South Africa supplied mobile radio transmitters to the South African police.These radio transmitters helped police suppress protest against white rule. Motorola’s dealings with the apartheid regime came to an end in 1985, when Motorola sold its South African operations to South African electronic company Allied Technologies Ltd. (Altech) on the condition that the latter cease equipment sales to South African agencies. The agreement was a win for US anti-apartheid activists, who had pressured Motorola to break its ties with the South African regime and had helped to pass municipal laws, in New York and elsewhere that prohibited city governments from doing business with companies supplying equipment used to enforce apartheid in South Africa. 
Caterpillar, on the other hand, resisted the pressure to divest from South Africa. The company's 1985 explanation for resisting calls for divestment is cited in this book on U.S.-South Africa relations:
Caterpillar is aware of demands that U.S. companies withdraw from South Africa as a protest against governmental policies in that country. We do not believe that such a withdrawal by Caterpillar from South Africa would serve any useful purpose. Withdrawal would be harmful to our employees of every race and would eliminate the  opportunity to work for peaceful change.
Today, Caterpillar and Motorola continue to profit from Israel's decades-long military occupation. Caterpillar's bulldozers are the machines that crush Palestinian homes, and Motorola, as Adalah-NY explains,
enables Israel’s apartheid policies and violations of international law through the development and sale of products specifically designed for and used by the Israeli Army
That's why they are the targets of boycotts and calls for divestment, like Jewish Voice for Peace's TIAA-CREF campaign.
Fittingly, a day after the end of the BDS conference, the news that South Africa was considering imposing sanctions on Israel broke:
The country's Minister of Arts and Culture announced at a conference in Pretoria last week that the government is seeking to increase support for the dispossessed Palestinian people.
"We want to step up our support of the Palestinians and are investigating a number of peaceful ways to upgrade this support. We have no problem with supporting the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel," Minister of Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile told a local newspaper. 
How the tables have turned.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

JVP and Ta'anit Tzedek Call for One Day Fast in Solidarity with Khader Adnan

Jewish Voice for Peace and Ta’anit Tzedek: Jewish Fast for Gaza are calling for a one day fast (from sunrise to sunset) on Friday, February 17, 2012 in solidarity with Khader Adnan, who today is in his 61st day of a hunger strike.

Khader began his hunger strike on December 18th, 2011  after he was arrested  in a nighttime Israeli military raid on his home in the West Bank village of Arraba. Since his arrest, Khader has been held in “administrative detention”--without trial or charges against him.  It has been reported that he is affiliated with Islamic Jihad, but no evidence of that affiliation has been presented.  Regardless of his political beliefs, administrative detention and the interrogations which sparked his hunger strike are entirely unacceptable according to international law.

His hunger strike is intended as a symbolic challenge to the Israeli government and military,
as we learn from a letter from his prison cell in Israel’s Ramleh military hospital: “I hereby assert that I am confronting the occupiers not for my own sake as an individual, but for the sake of thousands of prisoners who are being deprived of their simplest human rights while the world and international community look on.”

Khader, 33, is  a father of two from the village of Arraba in the Jenin district. His wife is pregnant with their third child. Prior to his arrest, Adnan worked as a baker while studying for a master's degree in economics at the Bir Zeit University.

Khader is chained to his hospital bed by Israeli authorities. An Israeli military judge denied his appeal challenging his administrative detention, essentially sentencing him to death.  Israel has ignored the pleas of numerous human rights agencies, including
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, to either “charge or release” Adnan.

K
hader Adnan is but one of thousands of Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli prisons.  According to a January 1, 2012 report by Addameer, a Palestinian prisoner support organization, there are currently 4417 Palestinians held as political prisoners in Israel jails, 310 of whom are being held in administrative detention without trial or formal charge.

This Friday, the people of Bil'in, together with their Israeli and international supporters, will participate in a demonstration marking seven years of resistance to the Wall, settlements and Occupation. The gathering will be dedicated to Khader Adnan.


Jewish Voice for Peace and Ta’anit Tzedek stand with the people of Bil’in and all those who work tirelessly for peace with justice in Israel/Palestine. We are calling on all our friends and colleagues in this movement to join us in a one day fast this Friday in solidarity with Khader Adnan.

May his sacrifice not be in vain. May we all live to see the day in which human rights, civil rights and equality are enjoyed by all inhabitants of Israel/Palestine. May we work to make it so.

The Quartet's Continued Path to Irrelevance

Shawan Jabarin, the General Director of the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq, writes a devastating critique of the absurdity and irrelevancy of the Quartet and the role the United States plays within it in today's  Foreign Policy.

The Obama Administration would do itself a huge favor if it listened to the advice of people like Shawan instead of abysmal failures like Israel-firster Dennis Ross who somehow still has the President's ear even after resigning his position after yet another stellar go at managing the "peace process."

(L-R) Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair,
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-Moon, Russian Foreign Minister
Sergei Lavrov, and EU representative Catherine
Ashton. Photo: Chris Hondros / Getty Images
Shawan observes: "The Quartet mission, as currently conceived, represents the latest embodiment of the existing political mechanism that has perpetuated the conflict and granted extended license to Israel's violations. While it did succeed in securing U.S. involvement in the peace process, this involvement developed to the point that theirs was the single most definitive voice, draining legitimacy from the other participants. At present, therefore, there is precious little to be gained from Palestinian engagement with the Quartet. Similarly, any argument for continued participation in the latest bout of negotiations is quickly fading given Israel's insistence on settlement expansion and the creation of more facts on the ground. As one commentator has noted, the Quartet, much like the peace process itself, is obsolete, aimless, and without any viable strategic purpose -- and it has been reduced to calling for gestures of goodwill."

You can read the entire article and comment on it here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Seek and Ye Shall Find

Yesterday, we let you know that President Obama's 2013 budget request increased U.S. military aid to Israel to $3.1 billion and we also provided you with actions you can take to end these weapons transfers to Israel.

The President's budget also proposed nearly $500 billion in cuts to military spending over ten years, including some small decreases in U.S. funding for joint Pentagon-Israeli research and development of anti-missile projects, which are appropriations above and beyond those allocated for bilateral military aid.

This slight decrease--more than made up for by increases in actual military aid--elicited howls of ridiculous indignation from the Republican Jewish Coalition, which breathlessly interpreted this to mean "that the Obama administration is asking Israel to risk its security and survival."  Seriously?

Not to worry though, Israel-firsters. Never mind the fact that the 2013 budget proposes drastic cuts to basic services that Americans have the right to expect and demand from their government. Never mind the fact that even with these proposed cuts, the budget request would still add nearly $1 trillion to the already-bloated $15 trillion debt.

See, all Israel and its lobbyists have to do is ask for more money and Congress will hand it over on a silver platter, according to a staffer for a Democratic Representative on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, who told the Jerusalem Post that "Funding for US-Israel missile defense will continue to rise despite the budget request."

So breathe a sigh of relief RJC and all other Israel lobby outfits. Since you have successfully "bought and paid for" Congress, according to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, you really have nothing to worry about. Israel will continue to get ever-expanding amounts of both military aid AND research and development aid from the Pentagon while Americans receive ever-less services from its increasingly debt-addled government.  


Might as well grab everything you can as the ship is sinking, right?  


We've got a lot of work to do to turn this political equation upside down.  Help us do so today by getting involved with our campaign to end U.S. military aid to Israel.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Take Action to Oppose Ever-Greater Amounts of Military Aid to Israel

President Obama released his 2013 budget request yesterday, which includes in his words "difficult cuts" and "tough choices."  However, even as the White House proposes to reduce services provided to Americans while the debt continues to climb, the President increased his request for military aid to Israel to $3.1 billion from $3.075 billion in this year's budget.

Here's how you can take action to help us oppose ever-greater amounts of military aid to Israel:


Write Congress NowJoin our conference call tomorrowRegister for Occupy AIPACHold a training in your cityApply for a matching funds grantGet everything you need to organize a local campaign
1. Write your Members of Congress opposing President Obama's request for $3.1 billion in weapons for Israel.

2. Join us for a conference call tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 9:00 pm (Eastern), featuring Lisa Savage and C.J. Minster, two activists who have done extraordinary work to pass local and national resolutions to end U.S. spending on wars and redirect the money to unmet community needs.

Lisa and C.J. will share their expertise and provide us with inspiration for our newly-launched campaign to get city councils to pass resolutions to end military aid to Israel and redirect the money to community needs.  Find out how to get involved by joining the call. Dial 209-647-1600 and enter the access code 489902.

3. Show us a little love on this Valentine's Day by a making a tax-deductible donation to "offset" the $21.59 in weapons that the average taxpayer will give to Israel this year.  Your support will enable us to challenge U.S. military aid to Israel more loudly and strongly. 

4. Join us, CODEPINK and more than 100 endorsing organizations in Washington, DC, March 2-6 for Occupy AIPAC, as we challenge the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for its lobbying for weapons to Israel.  There we'll be launching a major new policy paper laying out the case for ending U.S. aid to Israel. Stay tuned for details. 

5. Last Sunday, we did our first day-long training with activists in Milwaukee, WI, to strategize about launching campaigns to pass city council resolutions to end military aid to Israel and redirect the money to community needs. 

Activists wrote that the training was "very useful," "inspiring," "extremely helpful," and "awesome."  If your group is interested in having the US Campaign come to your city to do this training, click here to inquire.

6. Don't forget that the deadline--February 19--is fast approaching for our matching funds competition for groups that want to launch these city council campaigns.  To learn more about the competition and how to apply click here.

7. And, don't forget you can always sign up to get a FREE organizing packet in the mail to educate and organize people in your community to end U.S. military aid to Israel.  We've distributed more than 2,000 packets--with postcards, posters, stickers, flyers, petitions, and more--to people in more than 950 cities across the country.

Thank you for taking action this Valentine's Day to help us counter the ridiculous amount of love President Obama showed for the Israeli military in his 2013 budget request.

Palestine Center: When Settlers Attack

US Campaign member group The Palestine Center published an important study today, entitled "When Settlers Attack." Check out the press release and link to the report:


The Palestine Center Releases Report on Israeli Settler Violence

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 
 
The Palestine Center Releases Report on Israeli Settler Violence
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Yousef Munayyer 
ymunayyer@palestinecenter.org
            (202) 338-1958       

WASHINGTON, D.C. (14 February 2012) – Today the Palestine Center released a comprehensive report on Israeli settler violence against Palestinian civilians and their property in the West Bank. The report, "When Settlers Attack," is comprised of data gathered over a span of seven years, from 2004 to 2011, that includes over 3,700 separate incidents of settler violence. It provides analysis as to why, how and when Israeli settler violence occurs. 

The Palestine Center found that there has been a steady increase of Israeli settler attacks against Palestinian civilians over the past five years and that they are increasingly occurring in the northern West Bank targeting rural villages. Every year, the Palestinian olive harvest period sees the highest peak in attacks on Palestinian civilians. The report determines that the majority of Israeli settler violence is not ‘price tag’ or responsorial in nature, but is structural and a symptom of the occupation. Over 90 percent of Palestinian areas that experience multiple incidents of settler violence are under Israeli security jurisdiction. 

“The dramatic rise in settler violence in the last several years demands investigation and analysis into why this happens. We believe our report is the most comprehensive undertaking regarding settler violence and we hope it can move the general discussion about this important issue forward while also advancing policy formulation aimed at ending settler violence and protecting Palestinian civilians and their property” said Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of the Palestine Center. 

He continued, “With a 300 percent+ increase in settler violence of the past five years and nearly 2.7 incidents per day in 2011, settler violence presents a daily challenge to Palestinians. In this study, we test explanations for settler violence and ultimately put forward recommendations on how to address it.”
Find the report here: http://www.palestinecenter.org/whensettlersattack.

For more information on this report or Israeli settler violence, contact Yousef Munayyer at ymunnayer@palestinecenter.org, call             202-338-1290       or visitwww.palestinecenter.org.

### 

The Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., that maintains three programs. The Palestine Center hosts educational briefings and publishes analysis of the Palestinian experience and U.S. policy in the region. The Humanitarian Link provides short-term grants on a quarterly basis to humanitarian organizations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and surrounding refugee camps. The Jerusalem Fund Gallery hosts art exhibits, workshops, film screenings, concerts and more that showcase the rich artistic heritage of the region.