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For Immediate Release

Let's Celebrate a Fast Track Defeat National Day of Gloating

Let me be perfectly clear, as President Obama might say. I'm not claiming that fast track trade negotiating authority is defeated for now. Unlike some people, I do care what Mama Don't Allow.

But suppose it were true that fast track is defeated for now. Then I would propose that we celebrate a "National Day of Gloating" for the defeat of fast track.

Your Rep can do something for Palestinian children's rights

Last week, the American Friends Services Committee, in conjunction with a coalition of other groups, hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill on the situation for Palestinian children under the Israeli military occupation — particularly those detained by the military As UNICEF has reported, “the ill-treatment of Palestinian children who come in contact with the military detention system is widespread, systematic, and institutionalized from the moment of arrest until the child's prosecution and eventual conviction and sentencing.”

As a follow-up to this briefing, Rep. Betty McCollum has initiated a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry summarizing the issue and urging the State Department to take specific action:

Secretary Kerry, we urge the Department of State to elevate the human rights of Palestinian children to a priority status in our bilateral relationship with the Government of Israel. Furthermore, we fully expect the State Department to address the status of Israel’s military detention system’s treatment of Palestinian children in its annual human rights report.

Call your Representative NOW at (202) 224-3121 and say

I urge Rep. _____ to sign Rep. McCollum's letter to Secretary John Kerry urging the State Department to make the human rights of Palestinian children a priority in our relationship with Israel.

Here are a few talking points should you need them:

How Bernie Sanders Can Kill the 1%'s TPP Trade Deal

The DC press says it's getting down to the wire on a possible vote in the House on fast track to substantially pre-approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other pending trade deals, with a vote possible as early as Thursday.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who was a close second in a recent straw poll of Wisconsin Democrats, has called for a "political revolution" to revitalize democracy in the United States.

NYT: Taxing Wealthy & Cutting Pentagon Make Sanders "Unelectable"

On Sunday, in the course of an article about Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders attracting huge crowds in Iowa, the New York Times told us that

Thirteen Things I Learned in Iran

 [This piece originally appeared at Huffington Post.]

Istanbul, Turkey -- I just experienced the blessing of visiting Iran for the first time. Here are some things I learned.

1. If you are visiting someone's office and you appear very sleepy, you may be asked if you want to take a nap. If you say yes, a comfortable place to take a nap may be immediately prepared. I want to state categorically for the record that no country in which you can take a nap any time you want should ever be bombed by anyone.

Senate action TODAY on Fast Track, pro-settlements provision

Sometime this afternoon, the Senate is expected to hold a procedural vote on whether to move the Fast Track trade package a step closer to becoming law.

Among the many reasons to oppose Fast Track is a measure that aims to discourage foreign governments from boycotting, divesting from, or sanctioning companies that do business in "Israeli-controlled territories." This provision is aimed at pressuring the European Union to reverse course on the steps it's taken in recent years to oppose Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The provision also erodes the distinction between Israel and Israeli settlements, seemingly endorsing the Israeli annexation of the West Bank. For these reasons, groups such as J Street, Americans for Peace Now, and Jewish Voice for Peace oppose the measure.

Interestingly, Republicans are working closely with the White House to try to pass Fast Track — but they are having trouble gathering enough Democratic support. Just last night, Senator Dick Durbin said "it's very questionable" whether Republicans have the 60 votes necessary to pass the procedural hurdle to bring the bill to a vote on the floor.

Call your Senators NOW at (202) 224-3121 and say:

I urge Sen. __________ to oppose S. 995, the Trade Promotion Authority Bill, and to vote NO on today's procedural vote to move the bill forward. I particularly oppose the provision in the bill that endorses the Israeli annexation of the West Bank and seeks to block Europe from limiting commercial relations with Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

When you're done, report your call below.

Testify Online Against IL Anti-Boycott Bill!

On Wednesday morning, the Executive Committee of the Illinois House is scheduled to consider SB 1761, a bill that would force state pension fund administrators to blacklist companies that boycott businesses that operate in “territories under the control of Israel” — i.e., in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. This legislation not only infringes on the rights of those making an ethical decision to boycott human rights abuses, it also legitimizes the Israeli annexation of the West Bank, which official US policy opposes.

There is a lot of misinformation circulating about this bill in the State Capitol, which makes it even more important that your reps hear from you!

Here are two things you can do right now to stop this bill:

  1. Submit a witness slip in opposition to the bill. It’s easy and only takes a minute! When filling out the witness slip, indicate “opponent”, “record of appearance only”, and enter the organization you represent under “representation” or just enter “self”. Make sure to spell out your organization (don’t use abbreviations).
  2. Call Executive Committee Chair Dan Burke at (217) 782-1117 and say

    I am an Illinois resident and I oppose SB 1761, which would force state pension fund administrators to blacklist companies that boycott businesses that operate in "territories under the control of Israel." This bill infringes on the rights of those who choose to boycott human rights abuses and also legitimizes the Israeli annexation of the West Bank. I urge Rep. Burke to oppose this bill and stop it in committee.

Help me lobby Rep. Blumenauer tomorrow to oppose pro-settlement legislation

I’m on Capitol Hill this week, with two tasks: urging Democrats to sign the Schakowsky letter supporting diplomacy with Iran, and urging Democrats to oppose the language attacking European sanctions on Israeli settlements in the West Bank that’s been attached to the trade bills.

Your Representative, Earl Blumenauer, is key right now to getting the pro-settlement language out of the trade bills. He’s one of only two House Democrats who supported the trade bills in committee. He has been a champion of diplomacy, endorsed by J Street. If he says that the pro-settlement language has to removed from the trade bills, it’s much more likely to be removed.

I’m going to be visiting Blumenauer’s office tomorrow. Can you help me move Rep. Blumenauer to engage?

Please call Rep. Blumenauer’s office now at 202-225-4811. When you reach a staffer, you can say something like:

I urge Rep. Blumenauer to use his unique position of influence to push for removal of pro-settlement language from the trade bill.

When you’ve made your call, you can report it using the form below.

Call your Senate Finance Committee member against anti-BDS bill

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) is expected to introduce an amendment to a bill in the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday that would demand that the Obama Administration pressure Europe not to enforce policies against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. The amendment is expected to be similar to S. 619 which Cardin introduced March 2. Similar legislation (HR 825) was introduced in the House on February 10.

Both bills target actions to "limit commercial relations" with "territories controlled by Israel." By equating "Israeli settlements in the West Bank" with "Israel," these bills are endorsing the Israeli annexation of the West Bank.

These bills are trying to pressure the European Union (EU), which is currently negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States, to reverse course on the steps it has taken in recent years to oppose Israeli settlements in the West Bank. These include new guidelines preventing entities operating in Israeli-occupied territory from receiving EU funding and a recent push to label settlement products entering the EU.

One of your Senators is on the Senate Finance Committee and is expected to vote on Cardin's amendment TOMORROW. You can look up which Senator here: http://www.finance.senate.gov/about/membership/

Call your Senator on the Finance Committee NOW at (202) 224-3121 and say:

I urge Sen. __________ to oppose the amendment Sen. Cardin plans to introduce tomorrow in the Finance Committee that seeks to block Europe from limiting commercial relations with Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

When you're done, report your call here: