Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Two Exciting (and Urgent) Things for Justice in Palestine

Dear friends,

There are some very exciting things happening these days in the growing movement in the US for justice in Palestine. I get dozens of action alerts a week, but I'm forwarding to you only two, which I believe are very important—and urgent!

[If any of the links below don't work, cut and paste into a new window and remove any spaces.]

(1) The first is a crucial resolution at UC Berkeley that will be voted on TOMORROW (April 14th), so letters of support are needed ASAP! Here's what's happening:

On March 18th, the Senate of the Associated Students of the University of California, Berkeley (ASUC) passed a bill in support of ASUC's divestment from two American companies, General Electric and United Technologies, for their material and military support for Israel's occupation in Palestine. The bill encouraged the University of California itself to make sure its $135 million in investments are no longer profiting off Israel's "war crimes." You can read the whole bill here: http://mondoweiss.net/2010/03/berkeley-student-senate-divestment-resolution.html

The bill passed 16-4, but the President of the Senate tried to stop it with a veto. Tomorrow, the senate will have the chance to overturn the president's veto. Please use this link from Jewish Voice for Peace (http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/301/p/dia/action/public/?action_ KEY=2747) to write to the senate (something short is fine) to encourage them to support the bill.

South African anti-Apartheid leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Naomi Klein are among many who have written in support. Tutu's letter is here at http://mondoweiss.net/2010/04/tutu-issue-is-the-same-in-palestine-as-it-was-in-south-africa-equality.html#more-17346 and Naomi Klein's letter to the senators is below.

Note: Even if you don't read Klein's letter, please don't miss the section following it…

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Dear members of the ASUC Senate,

I am writing to urge you to reaffirm Senate Bill 118A, despite the recent presidential veto.

It comes as no surprise that you are under intense pressure to reverse your historic and democratic decision to divest from two companies that profit from Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory. When a school with a deserved reputation for academic excellence and moral leadership takes such a bold position, it threatens to inspire others to take their own stands.

Indeed, Berkeley—the campus and the wider community—has provided this kind of leadership on many key issues in the past: not only Apartheid in South Africa but also sweatshops in Indonesia, dictatorship in Burma, political killings in Nigeria, and the list goes on. Time and again, when the call for international solidarity has come from people denied a political voice, Berkeley has been among the first to answer. And in virtually every case, what began as a small action in a progressive community quickly spread across the country and around the world.

Your recent divestment bill opposing Israeli war crimes stands to have this same kind of global impact, helping to build a grassroots, non-violent movement to end Israel's violations of international law. And this is precisely what your opponents—by spreading deliberate lies about your actions—are desperately trying to prevent. They are even going so far as to claim that, in the future, there should be no divestment campaigns that target a specific country, a move that would rob activists of one of the most effective tools in the non-violent arsenal. Please don't give into this pressure; too much is on the line.

As the world has just witnessed with the Netanyahu government's refusal to stop its illegal settlement expansion, political pressure is simply not enough to wrench Israel off its current disastrous path. And when our governments fail to apply sanctions for defiant illegality, other forms of pressure must come into play, including targeting those corporations that are profiting directly from human rights abuses.

Whenever we take a political action, we open ourselves up to accusations of hypocrisy and double standards, since the truth is that we can never do enough in the face of pervasive global injustice. Yet to argue that taking a clear stand against Israeli war crimes is somehow to "discriminate unfairly" against Israelis and Jews (as the veto seems to claim) is to grossly pervert the language of human rights. Far from "singling out Israel," with Senate Bill 118A, you are acting within Berkeley's commendable and inspiring tradition.

I understand that there is some debate about whether or not your divestment bill was adopted "in haste." Not having been there, I cannot comment on your process, though I am deeply impressed by the careful research that went into the decision. I also know that in 2005 an extraordinarily broad range of Palestinian civil society groups called on activists around the world to adopt precisely these kinds of peaceful pressure tactics. In the years since that call, we have all watched as Israeli abuses have escalated dramatically: the attack on Lebanon in the summer of 2006, a massive expansion of illegal settlements and walls, an ongoing siege on Gaza that violates all prohibitions on collective punishment, and, worst of all, the 2008/9 attack on Gaza that left approximately 1,400 dead.

I would humbly suggest that when it comes to acting to end Israeli war crimes, the international response has not suffered from too much haste but from far too little. This is a moment of great urgency, and the world is watching.

Be brave.

Yours sincerely,
Naomi Klein

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(2) The second exciting and timely thing I'm writing about is that there is a woman running for Congress who advocates not just an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank & Gaza, but justice and full equal rights for all peoples of historic Palestine.

Her name is Marcy Winograd. She and I have presented together on Palestine several times. She is solidly pro-justice (including on other issues, of course), and she has a strong chance at winning! She won almost 40% of the vote last time around with very little campaigning, and the climate for moving out incumbents has only grown. The campaign is making a major push and support is flowing in. This could really happen!... But she needs our help.

I've already donated to her campaign and if you have the means, I urge you to as well. See her platform (vs. that of her opponent) at: http://www.winogradforcongress.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Winogr_Harman_issuesHR101.pdf

If you would like to contribute, please make a check payable to:

Winograd for Congress 2010
Attn: Peter Froelich, Durkee & Associates
1212 S. Victory Blvd., Burbank, CA 91502

Or you may contribute online through the ActBlue secure site: http://www.actblue.com/entity/fundraisers/22298

If you need additional details or would like to host a Winograd for Congress event, please contact Sheri Myers, the Winograd for Congress Event & Fundraiser Coordinator: Sheri@WinogradforCongress.com or 310.801.1819

More info at http://winogradforcongress.com/ or on her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/WinogradForCongress#!/WinogradForCongress?v=info

Of course, supporting Marcy's campaign is NOT a substitute for organizing and supporting grassroots campaigns for boycott, divestment, and sanctions at UC Berkeley and around the country…



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