Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Take Action to Support Historic Church Divestment Resolutions + More!

Dear friends,

I just returned from an exhilarating National BDS Conference at the University of Pennsylvania this past weekend. Kicking off with a video of support from the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, hundreds of activists and academics gathered for two days of workshops, analysis, and entertainment, undeterred by a barrage of attacks by BDS opponents who attempted to smear organizers and speakers alike. Here is a press briefing that I did with keynote speaker Ali Abunimah, refuting the bogus charges. I just kept thinking of the old saying by Mahatma Gandhi:

"First they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you.
Then they fight you.
Then you win."

So we've graduated! And we will win indeed!

Here is something I wrote about some historic church votes coming up. I'm really excited about it and wanted to share it with you. (If you'd like to get these kinds of updates from me in my capacity as National Organizer with the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, sign up at www.endtheoccupation.org -- in the right margin)…

Did you know that 2012 is poised to be a landmark year
for corporate accountability in the movement to end Israel's violations of Palestinian rights and international law?

After many years of hard work by activists in both denominations, the global United Methodist Church (UMC) and the Presbyterian Church (USA) are voting over the next six months on resolutions to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett Packard due to their complicity in the Israeli occupation [documented here]. US Campaign member groups United Methodist Kairos Response and Israel-Palestine Mission Network are leading the way in building support for the UMC resolution and Presbyterian Committee on Mission Responsibility through Investment (MRTI)'s divestment recommendation, respectively.

It is hard to overstate the significance of these campaigns. Passage of these resolutions would encourage other institutions and major churches to take action. It would also send Israel one of the strongest messages yet that its oppressive policies will no longer be tolerated.

These are ambitious, winnable campaigns, but we need your help!

No matter what Israel/Palestine campaigning you are focused on, we urge you to find a way to support these campaigns, since success will surely advance all other efforts in some way. Here is a list of things you can do.

Challenge yourself to do at least 2 of the following...

1. Endorse the United Methodist resolution!
* Click here to endorse as an individual.
* Click here to submit an organizational endorsement.
* Click here to sign a petition if you participate in services provided by the UMC General Board of Pension & Health Benefits.

2. Sign this letter supporting the divestment recommendation of the Presbyterian MRTI! You can sign as an individual or on behalf of an organization.

3. Volunteer to help pass these resolutions! United Methodists and Presbyterians would be especially helpful, but really anyone can help. Any amount of support is appreciated. Please email organizer [at] endtheoccupation.org if you are interested.

This could be our turning point. Please join the Methodists, Presbyterians, and other people of conscience from around the country in supporting these campaigns today!

With excitement and anticipation,


PS. Here are a few exciting events coming up…

1. I will be presenting at these two conferences:

Friends of Sabeel - North America presents...

"A Time for Justice: Supporting Human Rights in Palestine-Israel"
Sacramento, CA
March 16 & 17

Click here for more information and to register.

"Breaking the Barriers to a Just Peace in Israel/Palestine"
Sunnyvale, CA
March 23 & 24

Click here for more information and to register.

Presenters include...

Salem Ajluni Consultant, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
Huwaida Arraf Palestinian Activist, Lawyer, Founder, International Solidarity Movement
Marc H. Ellis Professor of Jewish Studies & History, Baylor University
Noura Erakat Adjunct Assistant Professor, Georgetown University
Gerald Lenoir Director, Black Alliance for Just Immigration
Rae Abileah Young Jewish and Proud; Code Pink
Dr. Hisham Ahmed Professor, St. Mary's College, Moraga, California
Rev. Naim Ateek author and founder of Sabeel, former canon pastor of the Episcopal Cathedral of Jerusalem
Dr. Dalit Baum Jewish-Israeli Activist; Co-founder of Who Profits
Dr. Hatem Bazian Founder of American Muslims for Palestine; Lecturer University of California, Berkeley
Laila El Haddad Author of Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything in Between
Josh Ruebner National Advocacy Director, U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
Kristin Szremski Director of Media and Communications, American Muslims for Palestine
Cecilie Surasky Deputy Director, Jewish Voice for Peace
Rabbi Alissa Wise Director of Campaigns, Jewish Voice for Peace

...and me and many more!

Hope to see you there. Click on the links above to register or for more info on topics, scheduling, and more!

2. OCCUPY AIPAC! (Here's a message from CODEPINK, the organizers…)

We are excited to announce that plans for OCCUPY AIPAC are underway and we hope you will join us March 2-6 in Washington, DC again!

With the Occupy movement that has swept the country demanding social and economic justice, many have concluded that AIPAC -- the powerful pro-Israeli government lobby that distorts U.S. policy in the Middle East -- is a mandatory "occupy target". Adbusters, the magazine that issued the initial visionary call for the takeover of Wall St. on September 17th, has declared: "The time has come for the Occupy Movement to demand an end to the Occupation of Palestine... We need a hashtag, #occupyAIPAC" (Kalle Lasn).

Timed to coincide with the annual AIPAC policy conference in March 2012, the Occupy AIPAC summit will be a long weekend of teach-ins, cultural performances, protests and creative direct actions, and a sneak preview of the forthcoming film Roadmap to Apartheid. Our Saturday conference will feature educational panels on Iran, Palestine, the Arab Uprisings and the Occupy Movement (click here to see the list of speakers). Sponsors and endorsers include the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, the Institute of Policy Studies, Just Foreign Policy, Interfaith Peace Builders (IFPB), the US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), Jewish Voice for Peace, several Students for Justice in Palestine chapters, and over 120 other groups.

Right now AIPAC is trying to drag us into a disastrous war with Iran, just as they pushed the Iraq war. We must show our opposition by exposing AIPAC and standing against a war with Iran. AIPAC's underhanded tactics and their manipulation of our political process destroys the possibility of a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis. Recent public criticisms of the Israel lobby make the call to Occupy AIPAC all the more relevant.

Now is the time to make a large, people-powered push to show our opposition to the stranglehold the Israel lobby continues to hold over our government. Your support made last year's Move Over AIPAC a success and we need you again in 2012.

Register for the conference or support this summit with a donation. Your outreach and presence is critical to help us ensure a strong turnout, because now is the time to Occupy AIPAC, not Palestine!

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