Elvis Costello and Gil Scott-Heron both recently joined the growing list of artists and performers supporting the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement by canceling shows in Israel. They join the likes of Snoop Dogg, Sting, Carlos Santana, Bono, and other performers who have recently declined to play or cancelled shows in Israel due to Israel's human rights violations. On top of the growing numbers of musical performers who have come out in support of cultural boycott, numerous artists, peace activists, and writers are showing their support as well, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Naomi Klein, and Alice Walker.
More importantly, however, is the message being sent by this growing cultural boycott. The purpose is not to deny Israelis the auditory pleasure of the likes of Elvis Costello, but to show them that occupation and human rights abuses will not be tolerated. It is to show that there are things more important than money. It is to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and the suffering. It is to demand a change for the better and for equal rights.
There are numerous ways you too can demand change and help end the Israeli occupation. Currently citizens and activists alike are asking singer Elton John to remove Tel Aviv from his tour schedule. You can join the Call to Action to demand that Israel allow the Freedom Flotilla to enter Gaza and deliver desperately needed food, clothes, and building and medical supplies. Also, request Lonely Planet to remove Ahava Cosmetics from agenda in the Israel & Palestinian Territories guide book.
If you have a resource or an update you'd like to see included in Occupation End Notes,click here to email us. To support the important work of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, the largest and most diverse coalition of organizations and organizers working to challenge U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine click here. Your support makes this important work possible!
Want more news and updates about the work of the US Campaign and its member groups? Read unique content on our blog, keep up with the latest media coverage and press releases, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and check out our YouTube andPodcast channels to get your occupation-ending fix between editions of Occupation End Notes.
US Campaign National Office Staff
In This Edition
9th National Organizers Conference At UMKC
US Campaign Staff in the News
Freedom Flotilla to Gaza Needs Your Help
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♦ Register for the 9th Annual National Organizers' Conference, "Bringing Home the Cost of Occupation"
The US Campaign is excited to announce that registration is now open for our 9th Annual National Organizers' Conference, which will take place at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, on July 23-25, 2010. Many thanks to US Campaign member group Citizens for Justice in the Middle East and to the Muslim Student Association at UMKC for securing this venue!
US Campaign conferences give representatives of member groups that have paid their dues to the US Campaign the opportunity to set overall political direction and priorities for the coming year, review and evaluate the work of the US Campaign, and elect representatives to the Steering Committee. They also provide a forum for local and national groups and individuals to network and exchange resources with one another. To learn more about US Campaign conferences and read reports from past conferences, click here.
Has your organization paid membership dues to the US Campaign this year? Find out by clicking here.
♦ The "Twilight Zone" on Capitol Hill
Last week, we asked you to take action to oppose Congress authorizing an additional $205 million in weapons for Israel (on top of the record-breaking $3 billion already requested by President Obama in FY2011 budget).
Unfortunately, the "debate" and vote (Roll Call Vote #284, 410-4, with 16 Representatives not voting) unfolded as we expected, with Reps. Conyers, Kucinich, Paul, and Stark the only ones to offer opposition. (NOTE: If one of these Members of Congress represents you, please join the US Campaign in thanking them for their courageous vote.)
For those who believe that human rights and international law should be the guiding principles of U.S. foreign policy, watching Congress discuss Israel/Palestine is like stepping into a parallel universe. So, we made a three-minute spoof video of last week's "debate" on more military aid to Israel, which we entitled, "The Twilight Zone on Capitol Hill." You can view it by clicking here.
After watching our new video, we're asking you to take action again. The Republican Whip, Rep. Eric Cantor (who, by the way, is one of Israel's loudest cheerleaders in Congress), has launched a new website-- YouCut-- designed, in his words, "to defeat the permissive culture of runaway spending in Congress."
The website allows citizens the opportunity to suggest government programs to cut. You guessed it--let's tell Congress that it's time to cut more than $3 billion in military aid for Israel's illegal military occupation of Palestinian territory. Let's force Congress to address this misuse of U.S. taxpayer dollars. Submit your idea to cut military aid to Israel by clicking here.
♦ US Campaign Staff in the News
Check out US Campaign Office Manager Mike Coogan, writing on U.S. military aid to Israel in the University of Portland student paper, The Beacon:
"If money talks, then Congress just said that U.S. military aid to Israel is two times more important than American jobs. The recent $15 billion jobs bill pales in comparison to the $30 billion in military aid that we are slated to give Israel. The decision by Congress to put requests by the Israeli government before the needs of working Americans is not only insulting, it's a violation of U.S. laws. The logic for stopping U.S. military aid to Israel is simple. Israel should not be allowed to have our weapons for the same reason that a violent felon should not have a gun... Aid to Israel costs more than just American jobs, healthcare and out interests generally. It costs millions of people their basic human rights. As taxpayers and American citizens, we have the power to end this brutal occupation. It's time we use it." Click here to read the full article.
US Campaign National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner recently wrote in Muftah, a new digital magazine dedicated to policy-making in the Middle East and North Africa, an article about Congress making military aid to Israel contingent upon it abiding by international and U.S. law.
"It remains to be seen whether President Obama will learn that words alone are not adequate to induce policy changes in Israel's actions. History has demonstrated that the Israeli government enjoys the carrots provided by the United States, but does not feel that these carrots obligate it to modify its policies to fit U.S. agendas. To do this, the proverbial stick also must be wielded at the right time. With declining public support for Israel's colonization of Palestinian land and growing Congressional weariness with Israeli intransigence, now is the opportune moment to reassess U.S. policy and wield the stick." Click here to read more.
Take action and find out how much your community, county, or Congressional district is giving in military aid to Israel and what you can do to stop it at AidToIsrael.org, become a military aid organizer in your community to oppose the $30 billion in military aid to Israel, or "offset" your taxes to Israeli occupation by making a tax-deductible contribution to the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.
♦ Freedom Flotilla to Gaza Needs Your Help
From US Campaign Member Group, ICAHD-USA:
"The Gaza Freedom Flotilla has been threatened with military resistance from Israeli authorities and private individuals. The coalition welcomes statements like ones released by the Irish and Swedish Governments. Helén Pettersson submitted a written inquiry to Foreign Minister Carl Bildt asking what measures the government intends to take in order to protect the flotilla's peaceful, lawful, humanitarian initiative.
The governments of the United States and Israel both have the opportunity to show new maturity in their relationship with the Palestinian citizens of Gaza by ensuring that all threats to attack the Freedom Flotilla are withdrawn and its safe passage is guaranteed.
You and I can help support the Freedom Flotilla by emailing or faxing Congress. Will you take a few moments to send this letter to your Congressional representatives?
The Israeli government is working overtime to discredit this nonviolent humanitarian relief effort. Join us in working overtime to support them."
Read more about the threat against the Freedom Flotilla here. Click here to track the Freedom Flotilla's trip.
♦Boycotts are Bustin' Out All Over
Singer/songwriter/rock-n-roller Elvis Costello has not only canceled two gigs in Israel, but he has also come out with apowerful public statement supporting boycott:
"One lives in hope than music is more than mere noise, filling up idle time, whether intending to elate or lament. There are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent. I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts would have contained many people who question the policies of their government on settlement and deplore conditions that visit intimidation, humiliation, or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security. I am also keenly aware of the sensitivity of these themes in the wake of so many despicable acts of violence perpetrated in the name of liberation... Sometimes a silence in music is better than adding to the static and so an end to it."
The announcement is making waves. The Christian Science Monitor published an article about Costello' decision, and linked it to Israel's denial of entry to U.S. academic Noam Chomsky and to a photo essay of other figures (and iPads) denied entry.
The Forward also covered the news, and included these revealing words:
"In reaction, a music industry insider confirmed that the winds could be shifting. The music executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity in light of his ongoing business ties with artists, said that in recent months he had approached more than 15 performing artists with proposals to give concerts in Israel. None had agreed. The contracts offered high levels of compensation. He called them 'extreme, big numbers that could match any other gig.' ...But in the battle over public opinion, many other names have also been thrown into the debate. These include artists who either scheduled concerts in Israel or indicated their wish to perform there, but who later withdrew without providing reasons for their decisions.
Such is the case of guitar legend Carlos Santana, who had planned a stop in Israel as part of his tour of Europe and the Middle East. Thousand of tickets to the concert, which was scheduled to take place in a large soccer stadium in Jaffa had already been sold before Santana and his group announced that the concert had been canceled due to 'unforeseen scheduling conflicts.'"
Boycott efforts are getting as creative as artists being put in the spotlight. Case in point-- this video urging Elton John, who played at the infamous Sun City venue in apartheid South Africa, not to play Tel Aviv:
Boycott-- particularly the Palestinian Authority's decision to enforce a boycott of Israeli settlement products-- has been getting mainstream coverage as well, including in Newsweek and the Washington Post. Here's Newsweek blogger Dan Ephronon why Israeli officials are reacting strongly to the Palestinian boycott of settlement goods despite its seemingly low economic impact:
"For one thing, Israelis fear that a successful boycott of settler goods would catch on elsewhere. While consumers in the Palestinian territories lack the economic muscle to inflict much pain on Israel, their counterparts in Europe-- Israel's biggest market-- have plenty of leverage... Then there's the comfort-zone issue. Thwarting bombings and shootings requires careful intelligence work and a first-rate military, things Israel has honed for decades. Countering nonviolent action has always seemed more challenging."
Of course, in the words of Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of US Campaign member group The Palestine Center, "Palestinian nonviolence relies on global non-silence." That means we need to speak up and take action! Find out how you can end the silence by getting involved in boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement in your community byclicking here, and follow the latest news coverage of BDS here.
♦ U.S. Student Denied Entry into Israel
Abeer Afana, a U.S. citizen, was denied entry into Israel when she attempted to enter with classmates from Wayne State University for a study abroad program. The reason? An expired Palestinian passport from Afana's childhood. Afana was detained and questioned for several hours, and held in the Ben Gurion Airport jail before being put back onto a return flight the same day. Below is a statement Afana made at a recent press conference:
"When I think about the whole ordeal, I begin to wonder that if I had the passport when I was a child, it's been expired for years, I've never lived in the country let alone visited since I was a child, I'm an American Citizen born and raised in the USA, I'm traveling with an American university and I've been registered for months as an approved student in Israeli and Palestinian universities, let alone approved to visit the Israeli Military Courts-- what exactly did I do wrong? No matter how hard they try, the Israeli government cannot occupy my life, my mind, my heart, and as much as it oppresses the people of Palestine, people who are living in worse conditions on a daily basis than anyone I know, the internal strength and passion of the Palestinian people can never be shattered.
Often times, people don't realize the impact discrimination and racism have on humanity until they become firsthand victims. We can acquire literal knowledge on these topics from what we learn in years of schooling or what we hear on the news, but once we become targets, we begin to see these issues in a whole new light. We begin to question if there is hope for things like coexistence and peace, but no matter how much people try to dehumanize us, deny us, and hurt us, we will always come out as the victors as long as we continue to stand by values like equality tolerance, and respect, and possess the willpower to make a difference."
To read more about Afana's experience, click here.
♦ Theatrical Call to Action: There is a Field
This October marks the ten-year anniversary of what Palestinians inside Israel refer to as "Black October." As the second Intifada erupted in the West Bank and Gaza, demonstrations also began in Palestinian villages inside Israel. In October 2000, twelve Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed in these demonstrations by Israeli security forces. One of those killed was a seventeen year-old boy named Asel Asleh. He was shot point blank in the neck by Israeli police at a demonstration outside his village. Asel had been a participant in a peace program called Seeds of Peace. He was wearing a Seeds of Peace t-shirt at the time of his killing and was buried in it.
"There is a Field" is a play about Asels' life and his death, through the perspective of his older sister, Nardin. The play is culled entirely from primary source material: interviews with Nardin and other family members over a seven year period; emails between Asel and Nardin; Asel's e-mails to his friends from Seeds of Peace; and transcripts from the commission of inquiry that the Israeli government held regarding the October killings.
The play also addresses the larger issues facing Palestinians inside Israel, which are rarely addressed or acknowledged. The ten-year anniversary of Black October offers an important opportunity to inject these issues into the discourse.
Therefore, throughout the month of October, theatre companies and activists world-wide are invited to take on this script. Be it fully mounted productions, staged readings, or a "living room reading," "There is a Field" will be launched throughout the world this October, serving as a platform for awareness and discussion.
If you are willing to organize a performance/staged reading/living room reading in your community during October 2010, please contact Jen Marlowe at firstname.lastname@example.org. The script is available upon request.
♦ Check Out New Products on our Online Store!
Support the US Campaign by purchasing books, posters, and informational DVDs. Our online store now includes a new book and DVD from award-winning activist Anna Baltzer. We've also drastically marked down our apartheid poster sets to just $15 for 6 great posters! All purchases from our online store help fund our programmatic activities.
♦ Events Around the Nation
Register your event on the US Campaign's online event calendar! Use the calendar to find out what's happening in your community and to promote human rights and international law in U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine.
May 30, 2010, San Rafael, CA: Sailing in Solidarity with the Freedom Flotilla
June 7, 2010, Columbia, MD: The "Other Gaza: The Gaza You Never Hear About, and Should
June 8, 2010, Eugene, OR: Palestine Today- Resistance and Everyday Life in the West Bank
June 9, 2010, Chicago, IL: Caterpillar Shareholder Meeting Protest
June 19, 2010, Detroit, MI: 2010 U.S. Assembly of Jews Confronting Racism and Israeli Apartheid
June 24, 2010, San Francisco, CA: "Mornings in Jenin" with Susan Abulhawa
♦ Israeli Apartheid Video Contest
US Campaign member group Itisapartheid.org, in partnership with Stop the Wall, announces the first international Israeli Apartheid Video Contest. Film submissions need to be less than 5 minutes and must depict the nature, realities, and/or consequences of Israel's apartheid policies. Films, which may be in any format, must be submitted by July 20, 2010.
For more information, visit the Israeli Apartheid Video Contest website by clicking here.
♦ Member Groups, Member Groups Everywhere!
In an effort to better help our coalition members network and for us to better gauge the coalition's regional diversity, we have put together a map with our more than 325 coalition members represented by state. Don't see your group listed? Click here to join the US Campaign. Member groups, now that we're well into 2010, it's time to renew membership dues!
Click here to check if your group is in good standing with the US Campaign and find out how to pay dues.
♦ How You Can Sustain the US Campaign--Donate Today!
Has this edition of Occupation End Notes been useful to you? Would you like to continue to benefit from action alerts, online event posting, national organizing tours, resources for local organizers, national days of action, and grassroots advocacy trainings? Providing all of these resources for organizers isn't free. It takes staff time, printing costs, phone bills, and more.
If you, like thousands of other committed activists, find these resources vital for your organizing, make a tax-deductible donation to our ongoing work by donating online, donating office supplies and services, or commit to monthly giving by joining the Olive Branch Club.Click here for more information, and join our Facebook Cause by clicking here.
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Occupation End Notes is the US Campaign bi-weekly newsletter, designed as a tool for activists. For this newsletter to be successful, we need your participation. Use us to promote events, give feedback on recent actions, recommend resources, or just learn from other activists in the movement. If you or your organization is planning an event or you have information for the Newsletter, please contact the US Campaign by emailing us here.
The US Campaign aims to change U.S. policies that sustain Israel's 42-year occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and that deny equal rights for all.
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