Thursday, June 28, 2012

Join African Heritage Delegation to Palestine/Israel

Our member group Interfaith Peace-Builders is accepting applications for their second African Heritage Delegation to Palestine/Israel taking place October 21-November 3, 2012

Delegates will t
ravel with experienced delegation leaders and professional local guides and see how the continuing Israeli occupation and current cycle of violence affect Palestinian and Israeli communities. They will also have the opportunity to learn from Palestinians about their nonviolent resistance, meet Israeli peace activists working for an end to the occupation and share experiences with representatives of African-Palestinian communities and Israeli communities of color. 

The delegation leaders are: 


Darryl Jordan has been an organizer for more than 30 years, working on issues of hunger and food security, neighborhood security, voter education, peace, justice, apartheid, immigration, union/labor, health and political empowerment. He is immediate past director of the American Friends Service Committee’s Third World Coalition. During his organizing life, Darryl has had the benefit of learning from many activists, community leaders and organizers, and tries to incorporate all that he has learned in his work. He currently sits on the Interfaith Peace-Builders Board of Directors. Prior to joining the Board, Darryl co-led the people of color delegation IFPB co-sponsored with the Third World Coalition in 2008 and served on the ad-hoc organizing committee for the African Heritage Delegation in 2011. 


Huwaida Arraf is a Palestinian with American and Israeli citizenship. She holds a Bachelor Degree from the University of Michigan, and a Juris Doctor from the American University Washington College of Law, where she focused her studies on international human rights and humanitarian law. In 2001 Huwaida co-founded the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She previously taught at the Human Rights Law Clinic at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem (the first legal clinic in the Arab World) and was one of the organizers of a delegation of American lawyers to Gaza in February 2009. Huwaida has led 5 successful sea voyages to the Gaza Strip and was one of the primary organizers of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla which was lethally attacked by Israeli forces in May 2010. She was also a member of the Palestinian Freedom Riders, challenging segregated bus lines in the West Bank during a November 2011 action. 


Find more information and download an application from
IFPB's website. Applications due August 1.

BDS Represents Global Intifada

Phyllis Bennis is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and a US Campaign Steering Committee member. This letter to the editor is in response to Nathan Thrall's "The Third Intifada Is Inevitable."

To the Editor
:

Nathan Thrall raises crucial issues about the failures of the “peace process.” But he does not mention two critical points.


First, while the dwindling support for traditional Palestinian leaders is apparent, a diverse, empowered civil society movement has emerged that has appropriated for itself the job of figuring out how to end the 1967 occupation and achieve other Palestinian rights. Second, that movement’s most effective method yet for bringing nonviolent pressure to bear on Israel is the boycott, divestment and sanctions strategy known as B.D.S.


Originally endorsed by 170 Palestinian organizations, B.D.S. has emerged as a global campaign. Just last week we saw its power here in the United States, when the pension giant TIAA-CREF divested $72 million in Caterpillar stock from its socially responsible fund, following Morgan Stanley Capital International’s removal of Caterpillar from its index of socially responsible corporations. Israel’s military uses Caterpillar bulldozers to demolish Palestinian houses; a Caterpillar bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier killed the American peace activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza in 2003.


A third intifada reflecting the failure of the current “peace process” may in fact be under way already — this time a global intifada rooted in nonviolent economic pressure to end Israeli violations.


Washington, June 24, 2012


Interested in learning more about BDS? Check out our website for resources and join us in September for our annual National Organizers' Conference

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Anti-BDS Propaganda Fail

The anti-BDS crowd has been dealt a major blow to their propaganda attempts this week after MSCI made it clear that Israel was a major factor in its decision to remove Caterpillar from three of its popular indexes that track socially responsible investments.

Last week several pro-Israel groups claimed that, once again, the "BDS Movement Tells Lies and Creates Pretend 'Victories'" and that TIAA-CREF's decision to remove $72 million in Caterpillar shares from its Social Choice Fund had nothing to do with Israel.  

But from an MSCI statement issued June 25: 
“The key factors determining the rating include a January 2012 labor dispute and subsequent plant closing in Canada, an on-going controversy associated with use of the company’s equipment in the occupied Palestinian territories, management of environmental issues, and employee safety."
This doesn't mean that Caterpillar is willing to get the message just yet. Caterpillar spokesman Jim Dugan said in a statement: "We hope and wish for a peaceful resolution to the unrest in the Middle East, but that solution is a political matter to be worked out by the appropriate parties. Caterpillar does not and should not have a role in that political process." But apparently Caterpillar has no problem having a role in destroying Palestinian homes and being complicit in Israeli human rights abuses

The Israeli government is in even greater denial. "Mixing politics and the economy in such a desperate and biased manner makes for very poor economic results and even poorer politics," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.
"As long as they [Palestinians] spend their time on negative hate campaigns instead of building their own society and economy, they will be on the losing side at the end of the day."

The desperate attempts to spin this clear
BDS victory for human rights into something else is just another sign of the increasing success of BDS activism both in the United States and across the world. We have to use this win to push harder to end corporate complicity in Israeli occupation and apartheid. 

Sign our letter
to the Presbyterian Church-USA urging them to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solution and HP. Register for our National Organizers' Conference at St. Louis University September 21-23 to strengthen BDS efforts. And check out our website for more ideas on how you can get involved.

Join TIAA-CREF Vigil in Chicago!

Chicago Divests, a coalition that includes US Campaign member groups American Friends Service CommitteeThe Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine, and Jewish Voice for Peace, is holding a vigil this Friday, June 29 at 12pm in Chicago (200 N LaSalle Street) to recognize TIAA-CREF's recent divestment from Caterpillar and urge the financial firm to continue divesting from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. 


From Chicago Divests press release: 
TIAA-CREF, one of the nation's largest retirement fund providers, invests $2.3 billion in corporations profiting from human rights abuses in occupied Palestine. After years of grassroots campaigning and shareholder pressure, TIAA-CREF removed Caterpillar from its Social Choice Accounts last Thursday. Caterpillar provides bulldozers to Israel military and civil authorities for the systematic destruction of Palestinian homes, orchards, and businesses.  Caterpillar used to enjoy $73 million of financial support from TIAA-CREF's social choice accounts, which are designed to "favor companies with a 'best-in-class' record on environmental, social and corporate governance issues." Now, TIAA-CREF can no longer claim that Caterpillar's facilitation of ethnic cleansing is compatible with "financial services for the greater good." We applaud TIAA-CREF for recognizing Caterpillar as an ethically irresponsible investment and for giving its clients the option of a Caterpillar-free Social Choice fund. 
Find more information and RSVP on Facebook.

The Presbyterian Church-USA will be voting on divestment from Caterpillar, Motorola Solution and HP in the next week.
Almost 4,000 people have already signed a letter supporting the divestment recommendation and you should too

Make sure to join us for our
11th Annual National Organizers' Conference September 21-23 at St. Louis University to learn how you can get more involved in BDS and other efforts to change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Occupation and Apartheid E-Cards

Reposted from the blog Sixteen Minutes to Palestine

Parodies can be valuable when they force people to consider reality from a different perspective. But most of these e-cards aren’t parodies. It’s what millions of people have to live through every single day.


Families who come from both sides of Israel’s apartheid wall are not always permitted to be together. Husbands and wives are kept apart by concrete walls, checkpoints, soldiers, and residency laws aimed at subsiding a “demographic spillover”.
That’s what happened at the University of California, Irvine when the Orange County district attorney filed charges against eleven Muslim students for protesting and disrupting Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s speech. Oren was attempting to justify the murder of over 1,400 civilians in Israel’s 2008-2009 invasion of the Gaza Strip.
The last few times Israel and the Palestinian Authority met at the negotiations table, among Israel’s many preconditions (continuing settlement building, maintaining control over the West Bank, maintaining the Gaza blockade, etc.) was that the PA not have any preconditions of its own.
Since Israel’s establishment, Palestinians now have access to less than 13% of their land.
This past March, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman slammed the UN Human Rights Council and refused to cooperate in an investigation into the effects of illegal Israeli settlements on Arab populations. Lieberman is a staunch supporter of settlement building, openly rejecting the human rights and international laws condemning the transfer of populations into occupied territory.
Oren, a published author and politician capable of having his message heard and read by the masses, insists that disruptions are attempts at indiscriminate censorship and violate his right to speak. Later, when CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ aired a report on Palestinian Christians, Oren was discovered to have tried to block the story from airing. CBS called him out on it.
The Anti-Defamation League, which claims to be the strongest human and civil rights advocacy group in the United States, seems more concerned with domestic spying and censorship. Its strategy involves exploiting the definition of anti-Semitism to include anything remotely in favor of Palestinian rights. (Download a PDF version of an investigative report here.)
Israel has yet to offer a single acceptable peace or landswap proposal.
Having yet to define its borders, Israel annexes land freely, particularly in the West Bank where its barrier wall slices through significant chunks of the territory. As one Israeli author concludes, Israel’s borders are elastic.
Traveling through the West Bank is difficult, especially when most of the roads are restricted to Palestinians.
As this guest contributor says in his letter to Maine’s Morning Sentinel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in a state of denial over the apartheid policies his government promotes. Palestinians are restricted from using certain roads and must travel through checkpoints in the West Bank whereas Jewish settlers are free to travel along any route without delay. Palestinians are also subject to home demolitions if the structures are outside of “zones” much like the cantons set aside for black South Africans during South Africa’s apartheid days.
Part of the wider strategy to “Judaize” the land involves planting new trees in places where Palestinian olive groves, for example, once stood. “Desert blooming” has led to very grave social, economic, and environmental consequences.
Settlement building violates the Fourth Geneva Convention and is therefore illegal. Yet Israel insists that its national law trumps international law and, in many instances, retroactively legalizes settlements in the West Bank and continues to build more.
An Israeli minister recently called on the government to cut electricity to Gaza in an attempt to lower electricity prices in Israel. If electricity were to be cut, it would join a long list of things kept from entering the Gaza Strip at one point or another in the last few years, including chocolate, A4 paper, wood, and cinnamon.
Another wave of social protests—the J14 movement, which began as a ‘liberal’ housing protest—has taken over Tel Aviv. But the protests have yet to formally demand or even acknowledge an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
By the end of President Barack Obama’s first term, he will have given Israel upwards of $12 billion in military aid alone. (Organize to end military aid to Israel).
Newt Gingrich insists that Palestinians are invented people.
The Israeli government has repeatedly armed settlers with “non-lethal” weapons to use against Palestinians. And for those who do have guns and other dangerous weapons, the Israeli military has been known to stand idly by as the armed settlers fire at Palestinians and destroy their properties.

Monday, June 25, 2012

CBS Pulls Down L.A. Billboards

From US Campaign member group Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel. Please read and take action!

CBS Pulls Down L.A. Billboards
Opposing Weapons to Israel
Call CBS today and tell them to
PUT OUR BILLBOARDS BACK UP!

On June 11 the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel had 23 billboards erected in Los Angeles and surrounding cities with the message "Tell Congress: Spend our Money at Home, Not on the Israeli Military" over an American flag background.  The billboards were contracted to run for four weeks, and we were preparing to put more up in other spots around the city.  Read about our billboards here.

We were thrilled. L.A. had never seen a campaign of this size devoted to this issue.

That win fell apart just one week later when the billboard company--CBS Outdoor, a subsidiary of CBS Corporation-- took all our billboards down.

They sent a curt email telling us they were canceling our contract and refunding our money because "your organization has used the ‘CBS Outdoor’ name without permission" in email messages and in our petition thanking CBS for putting up the billboards in the first place.

Needless to say, this was a punch in the stomach.

If you support us trying to get our message of ending military aid to Israel back up on billboards in the nation's second largest city, won't you help flood CBS with phone calls demanding that our billboards be put back up and our contract be honored to the full term?

If there are people and organizations that disagree with our message, they have every right to buy their own billboards with a message they compose. We stand ready to debate American carte blanche support for Israel in the free marketplace of ideas. But that debate can only take place if companies like CBS Outdoor don't cave when pressured by people who claim any criticism of U.S. policy favoring Israel is anti-Semitic.

Call CBS Corporation, the New York-based parent company of CBS Outdoor, at (212) 975-4321 right now. Then tell us you made the call and what if any response you got from CBS. Email us at info@stop30billion.com.

Then be sure to share this Call to Action with your friends, family and colleagues via email, Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for working for justice!

Jeff, Armen and Sue
Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel-Los Angeles,
Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel

PS: As you may guess, these billboard projects are very expensive. We hope to continue our L.A. campaign, but regardless we will be looking at other cities to continue this important work in the future. We will not let up. Please help us succeed by sending a check to:

Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel
PO Box 10856
Albuquerque, NM 87184-0856

You may also donate via PayPal here.

The Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel is a 501c3 organization, so donations are fully tax deductible.




After Pressure, Jewish Federation Cancels Event Featuring anti-Muslim Speaker

Pamela Geller is probably one of the best known "experts" on Islam who gained tons of media attention for her anti-Muslim rhetoric after founding Stop the Islamization of America, an organization that has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Geller was supposed to speak this past Sunday at an event sponsored by the Zionist Organization of America and hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles on the topic ""Islamic Jew-Hatred: The Root Cause of the Failure to Achieve Peace." 

An interfaith coalition, including our member groups American Muslims for Palestine and LA Jews for Peace, released a statement of concern asking that the Jewish Federation stand up against bigotry and cancel the event.
"We are extremely shocked and alarmed to see a mainstream Jewish organization associating itself with one of the nation's leading Islamophobes who doesn't hesitate to share the podium with European  racists and whose admirers apparently include Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik. Religious leaders and institutions have an increased and urgent responsibility to promote tolerance and mutual understanding among all Americans, instead of giving aid and comfort  to fear-mongers like Geller. Imagine how hurt Jewish community  members would be, and rightly so, if they discovered American Muslims hosting an anti-Semitic speaker." 
The Jewish Federation canceled the event hours before it was set to take place and this decision was commended by the coalition. 
"We commend the Jewish Federation for taking action to dissociate from Pamela Geller's bigoted views. It is also encouraging to see that when interfaith communities work together, we can help promote tolerance and reject misinformation that only serves to confuse and promote hate. Americans must continue to stand up and ensure that voices of hate and bigotry stay on the margins of our society, where they belong. We further ask people to take a moment to send a note of thanks to the Federation's leadership."

Major Expose in FP Spotlights Human Rights Impact of Aid to Israel

Major props to Zach Toombs and R. Jeffrey Smith at the Center for Public Integrity for publishing a major expose in Foreign Policy last week entitled "Why Is the U.S. Selling Billions in Weapons to Autocrats?"

Unlike so many other mainstream DC organizations that take up the issue of arms control and the problematic nature of the United States arming human rights abusers around the world, Toombs and Smith do not shy away from criticizing the United States for arming Israel to commit human rights abuses of Palestinians.

This should make Israel's supporters happy because, after all, we wouldn't want to "single Israel out" or "hold it to a different standard," right?  No, indeed, we should be protesting against the United States arming all the thuggish and brutish regimes it does, Israel included.

Check out the neat info-graphic that Toombs and Smith put together for this project:



You can read the entire article here and then write your own comment.

This is another great example of how the issue of ending U.S. military aid to Israel is becoming mainstream, thanks in large part to the work that we are all doing together to shed a spotlight on the impact of U.S. aid to Israel on Palestinians.

You can learn more about this on our websites: http://www.aidtoisrael.org and http://www.weaponstoisrael.org and get involved in our campaign to educate and organize people to end U.S. weapons transfers to Israel by clicking here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Are you Jewish?"

Sandra Tamari is active with US Campaign member group St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee

Deportation shows Israel's intolerance


"Are you Jewish?" is the first question the U.S. Embassy staffer asked me on the phone while I sat in Israeli detention at the airport in Tel Aviv. When I responded that I was a Palestinian born in the United States, he said he could do nothing for me. Consequently, I endured eight hours of interrogation by Israeli authorities. When I would not grant them access to my email account, I was accused of being a terrorist. The heavy-handed treatment resulted from my participation in an interfaith delegation to listen to Palestinians and Israelis working for peace.


Israel decided to deport me and deny my participation in this project, deeming me a "security risk." I spent the night in prison and then was put on a flight home the next day.


The interrogators were especially interested in my activism. They had "googled" me and knew that I was involved in urging the Methodist Church to vote to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation. I publicly advocated for divestment as a nonviolent measure to end the occupation. I attended the Methodist General Conference in Tampa and spoke to many about how my Christian Palestinian family is denied residency in the West Bank and how Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim, were suffering under occupation. Israel's discriminatory policies have affected my family before. In 1966, my father came to the United States for work. Soon after, Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. Israel conducted a census of residents of the Occupied Territories in 1967 to create a population registry. Human Rights Watch estimates that at least 270,000 Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories before the war were absent during the census for study, work or because they fled the conflict. Many Palestinians, including my father, were denied their right to regain residency status. When my father returns to visit his family, he must do so on a tourist visa granted at Israel's discretion.


The U.S. Congress has done nothing to tell Israel that this is an outrage. Instead, they go along with AIPAC in giving Israel over $3 billion in military aid per year to further dispossess Palestinians.


Continue Reading at Belleville News-Democrat
 

Help Sandra deliver
20,000 signatures to the State Department demanding that the United States put an end to systematic discrimination against U.S. citizens by it and Israel
.

BDS WIN: TIAA-CREF Removes Caterpillar from Social Choice Funds


Press Release from We Divest Campaign 

Caterpillar Removed from TIAA-CREF’s Social Choice Funds

Victory for Pro-divestment Advocates

June 21, 2012- Pension fund giant TIAA-CREF has removed Caterpillar, Inc. from its Social Choice Funds portfolio. As of May 1, 2012, financial data posted on TIAA-CREF’s website valued Social Choice Funds shares in Caterpillar at $72,943,861. Today it is zero.


“We applaud this decision,” said Rabbi Alissa Wise, Director of Campaigns at Jewish Voice for Peace and National Coordinator of the We Divest Campaign (www.wedivest.org). “It’s long past time that TIAA-CREF began living up to its motto of ‘Financial Services for the Greater Good’ when it comes to the people of Israel and Palestine.” 


Since 2010, We Divest has been urging TIAA-CREF to drop Caterpillar and other companies profiting from and facilitating Israel’s 45-year-old military occupation and colonization of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.

“By selling weaponized bulldozers to Israel, Caterpillar is complicit in Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian human rights,” said Rabbi Wise. “We’re glad to see that the socially responsible investment community appears to be recognizing this and is starting to take appropriate action.”


Caterpillar has come under increasing criticism from human rights organizations in recent years for continuing to supply bulldozers to Israel, which uses them to demolish Palestinian civilian homes and destroy crops and agricultural land in the occupied territories, and to build illegal, Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land.


In the coming weeks, many will be watching the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly taking place in Pittsburgh, where church commissioners will vote on a motion to divest from Caterpillar and two other companies, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard, that remain in TIAA-CREF’s Social Choice Funds.


Last month, Friends Fiduciary, a Quaker institution, divested $900,000 worth of shares in Caterpillar stating: “We are uncomfortable defending our position on this stock.”


What Others are Saying


Omar Barghouti, Palestinian human rights activist and founding member of the BDS movement said, “CAT is out of the bag of TIAA-CREF’s socially responsible companies thanks to the inspiring campaign waged by JVP and its partners, with vision, persistence and tactical skillfulness. Palestinian civil society, represented by the BDS National Committee (BNC), deeply appreciates these efforts and believes that more pressure will ultimately convince TIAA-CREF to fulfill its basic moral obligation to finally divest from CAT and all other corporations that are complicit in Israel’s grave and escalating violations of international law and human rights.”


Cindy and Craig Corrie, Rachel Corrie’s parents said, “For nearly a decade, we have witnessed human rights abuses committed with Caterpillar equipment in the West Bank and Gaza and have joined thousands who have asked the company to stop supporting these actions.  We are hugely gratified that TIAA-CREF has taken this step.  When governments and corporations avoid responsibility, we must refuse to profit from their abuses. Our family salutes and thanks TIAA-CREF for this decision that moves all of us closer to accountability.”


Jennifer Bing, Middle East Program Director of the Chicago office of the American Friends Service Committee, a member organization of the We Divest Campaign Coordinating Committee, said, “As a TIAA-CREF client institution which has divested from Caterpillar ourselves, we are encouraged to see this first, great step toward creating a complete occupation-free portfolio that my colleagues and I are eager to have as an investment option.”


Samia Shafi of Adalah-NY, a member organization of the We Divest Campaign Coordinating Committee, said,  “This small, positive first step shows that TIAA-CREF is not immune to pressure for human rights for Palestinians. Our We Divest Campaign will continue pressuring TIAA-CREF until we win full divestment from all companies in TIAA-CREF’s portfolio that profit from violations of Palestinian human rights.”


Anna Baltzer, National Organizer with the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation — a coalition of more than 380 organizations around the country — and a member group of the We Divest Campaign Coordinating Committee, stated: “After years of Caterpillar refusing to change its practices, we are gratified that the U.S. corporation and others like it are seeing that support for Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies comes at a dear cost. There can be no more business as usual with such institutions. The tide is turning.”



Continue Reading

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ros-Lehtinen: "Long-standing occupation amounts to annexation."

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, seems to have had enough of a US ally in the Middle East ignoring UN Security Council resolutions, continuing its occupation and refusing to allow refugees to return to their homes. 

From her piece in
The Washington Times
By its occupation, Turkey is “guaranteeing” nothing but a creeping annexation. It is time for Turkey to withdraw its military troops, end all support for illegal immigration to Cyprus and let the true inhabitants of the island determine their own future. Only then will the long-suffering Cypriot people finally enjoy the peace and security they have been trying so desperately to achieve for decades.
As one commentator wrote noting the hypocrisy: Substitute "Israel" for "Turkey," "the West Bank" for "Cyprus" and "Palestinians" for "Greek Cypriots."

Anyone familiar with Ros-Lehtinen's record knows that she has not only failed to demand Israel end its occupation and apartheid policies towards Palestinians, but, with the help of her colleagues in Congress, has enabled this oppression by continuing to send military aid and weapons to Israel. Last year she 
introduced a bill to cut off US funding to any UN organization that recognizes Palestinian statehood. She blasted the Obama administration over reports the United States offered to support a UN Security Council statement in February 2011 critical of Israeli settlements: "Support for this anti-Israel statement is a major concession to enemies of the Jewish State and other free democracies. It telegraphs that the U.S. can be bullied into abandoning critical democratic allies and core U.S. principles."

Not sure which core principles Ros-Lehtinen wants to uphold when she pushes for U.S. support of occupation and apartheid, but if you think it's time to for a change in U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel, sign up to help organize opposition to military aid for Israel. And make sure to join us for our National Organizers' Conference September 21-23 at St. Louis University to get more involved.

Kittens Against Apartheid

Two cuddly kittens go searching for the right hummus and learn a valuable lesson about human rights! Join the kittens in supporting justice in Israel-Palestine! Boycott Sabra and Tribe hummus! From our member group Philly BDS.


You too can support justice in Israel-Palestine. Get involved in a BDS campaign, sign this letter supporting the divestment recommendation of the Presbyterian Committee on Mission Responsibility through Investment and join us for our National Organizers' Conference September 21-23 at St. Louis University. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mahmoud Sarsak to be Freed After Months of Hunger Strike and Global Solidarity

According to his attorney, Palestinian soccer star Mahmoud Sarsak will be released from Israeli detention on July 10th after a three month hunger strike. Mahmoud, 25, has been held by Israel without charge or trial since his abduction by Israeli forces in 2009. He began his hunger strike on March 19th in protest of his imprisonment, refusing any nourishment until last week when, near death, he accepted milk while Israeli authorities reconsidered his demands.

Despite a dearth of mainstream media attention, Sarsak's cause had begun to gain support around the globe. Frederic Kenoute, Eric Cantona, and two dozen other European sports figures expressed support for Sarsak. FIFA President Sepp Blatter and FIFpro, the international association of football players, also expressed solidarity. Meanwhile, soccer fans at the Scotland-Israel Euro 2013 women’s qualifier chanted "Free Mahmoud Sarsak" and "Free Palestine" while French activists protested at a supermarket selling Israeli goods in Bordeaux.  Recently, according to Haaretz, an Israeli reservist imprisoned for refusing to partake in the occupation of Palestine began his own hunger strike "in solidarity [with the Palestinians], and in order to raise awareness on the issue of administrative detention."

Scottish soccer fans stand in solidarity with Mahmoud Sarsak


Despite the news of Sarsak's release, Ali Abuminah of the Electronic Intifada urges caution in the face of this victory.  Israel has been slow to implement the terms which ended a similar hunger strike among Palestinian prisoners in May.  Further, there is no word on Akram Rikhawi, now 68 days into his own hunger strike in Israeli detention. 


Israel to free footballer Mahmoud Sarsak after epic 3-month hunger strike, lawyer says
Read more here

Make Up Your Mind, ADL!

It seems that the so-called Anti-Defamation League, which spends most of its time defaming anyone who speaks out in support of Palestinian rights, is having quite a difficult time figuring out if we're effective or not.

Two years ago, the ADL put us on their Top Ten list of most influential organizations advocating for Palestinian rights in the United States. We took that as a badge of honor.  (By the way, thanks, ADL, for including us on your list. We raised a ton of money off of it!) Unfortunately they alphabetized their list, so we weren't sure exactly where we stood in their rankings, but, hey, the top ten is the top ten, right?

Then on June 5, the ADL announced they unlocked the mysteries of the universe by managing to infiltrate one of our conference calls.  It was undoubtedly very difficult to do and their donors should be very proud of them (we had publicized the call-in number and code for the call and didn't require any RSVP). Yet, in the hour-long call, the ADL didn't manage to find one word of anti-Semitism.  If they did, surely they would have trumpeted that fact. We were very disheartened though to learn that the ADL thinks that we might be slipping off their top ten list when they opined that "none of these efforts [our campaigning to raise awareness about and organize to end U.S. military aid to Israel] seem to have much legs."

Bummer.  Maybe, ADL, we need to learn from you as to how to be effective? According to the Daily Beast's Michelle Goldberg, here's how your organization operates:
The ADL sent spies into the American anti-apartheid movement, as well as other movements critical of right-wing American foreign policy. Eventually, the organization was surveilling much of the American left. In 1993, a California police raid on the offices of the ADL and one of its investigators yielded files on Greenpeace, the NAACP, Act Up, New Jewish Agenda, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and several Democratic politicians, among hundreds of others. The ADL eventually settled a class-action lawsuit brought by several of its targets.
Then again, nah, we don't want to take any lessons from you.  We'll keep our organizing efforts principled and above board.

But, lo and behold, our spirits picked back up again last Friday, when we saw that the ADL had reversed track and is now very concerned about our "continued effort to marginalize Israel through advertisements," noting that we helped publicize a new billboard campaign in Los Angeles undertaken by the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel to raise awareness about ending U.S. military aid to Israel.

Oh yeah, thanks for ripping off our picture, ADL, and not even bothering to credit us. We noticed.

By the way, you can check out the ad campaign and sign a petition to the advertiser thanking them for running these ads here.

Upcoming Palestine Movie Screenings in Washington, DC

Join The Jerusalem Fund and the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University for their annual Summer Film Series featuring documentaries and feature films from and about Palestine!  Explore Palestinian life and identity at these free screenings, open to the public, beginning this Wednesday (June 20th) at 6:30pm.  Films are in English or feature English subtitles and are screened at the Jerusalem Fund (directions here).


The series kicks off on Wednesday with "The Invisible Policeman," a documentary detailing the life of Nidal aka Abu Sa'ed. A 41 year old father of nine, Abu Sa'ed lives a double life between his job as a policeman in the Palestinian controlled section of Hebron and as a downtrodden resident of the Israeli controlled Old City of Hebron.  The film explores the realities, pressure, and fear of life under occupation as well as Palestinian resilience in the face of such challenges.


The film series continues until July 18th with different movies each week. View the schedule of upcoming films here. For more information, call The Jerusalem Fund at (202) 338-1958, or email info@thejerusalemfund.org.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Peaceful Protest Against Segregation in Hebron Ends in Arrests

Too often, Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation is portrayed in the media as violent.  It is said that the Palestinian cause would be well served through nonviolence, if only some "Palestinian Gandhi" would emerge. Indeed, according to Joe Klein of Time Magazine, "Ever since Israel won control of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, the Palestinian national movement has been defined by terrorism, intransigence and, until recently in the West Bank, corruption. It has never been known for dramatic acts of nonviolence."  Meanwhile, the daily nonviolent resistance of Palestinians and their allies from around the globe is commonly all but ignored.



One recent and striking example of this non-violence occurred in the West Bank city of Hebron.  This traditional hub of Palestinian life and commerce, which currently plays host to a growing population of over 500 Jewish Israeli settlers, has experienced significant segregation in recent years.  One glaring example is Shuhada Street, from which Palestinian pedestrians have been banned since 2001.

In an effort to resist this racist prohibition, a group of Palestinian, Israeli, and international women on Wednesday organized a march on Shahuda street in direct challenge to occupation policy.  Dressed in traditional Palestinian garb, they were met with harsh resistance as they peacefully walked the street.  Assaulted by settlers who attempted to block their path, Israeli activists were cursed as "Traitors... worse than those Arabs."   Such attacks were soon followed by the arrival of heavily armed Israeli soldiers who "pushed a few of the women to the ground and started hitting them," then proceeded to arrest seven Israeli and international activists as punishment for their peaceful challenge to segregation.

Nonviolent protests such as these as well as the violence with which they are met should serve as a wake up call to the international community.  Where is the "Palestinian Gandhi"? There are in fact many of them, tirelessly resisting the Israeli occupation and standing up for justice. Their peaceful struggle can no longer be ignored.



Friday, June 15 2012|+972blog
Palestinian, Israeli and international women activists dressed in traditional Palestinian garb attempted to walk down Shuhada street, Hebron’s main commercial thoroughfare. After only a few minutes, they were stopped by soldiers, and seven people were arrested in total.

By Noa Shaindlinger

A group of Israeli and international female activists joined Palestinian women on Wednesday in a direct action in Hebron to protest the ongoing ban on Palestinian freedom of movement on Shuhada street. The street, which was once the lively commercial centre of Hebron, was closed off to Palestinian vehicular traffic after the 1994 massacre of 29 Muslims in the Ibrahimi Mosque by Baruch Goldstein. Since 2001, Palestinian pedestrians were barred from the street, turning it into a Jewish-only zone...

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