When there is a just resolution to the Israel/Palestine conflict, I will claim that June 20, 2014 marked a turning point.
Just a short time ago, the Presbyterian General Assembly voted 310-303 to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard over these companies’ ties to the Israeli occupation! Commissioners took this step to put their investments in line with their values despite persistent attempts by opponents to conflate this selective divestment with a boycott of all Israelis or even of all Jews.
That’s in part thanks to everyone who showed support for Presbyterians considering divestment!
The Presbyterian Church is the largest Christian denomination to divest from companies involved in the Israeli occupation, making this vote a historic victory for justice and human rights.
Presbyterians have taken a bold step toward putting their values into action. Let’s spread the news!
The Presbyterian action is making headlines all over the news. Help spread the word by reading and sharing the New York Times article on Presbyterian divestment
Thanks for all you do to support Palestinian rights,
Megan Iorio and Robert Naiman
Just Foreign Policy
P.S. If you’re on Twitter, send the PCUSA a “Thank you!” Here’s a sample tweet:
Thank you #PCUSA for bringing your investments in line with your values by passing #ChurchDivest! #GA221
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Hashtag is #UnblockGazaMay31 but DO NOT START UNTIL 10AM ET! Sample tweets below. Countdown: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/gazaday-countdown
On April 29, 2014, Gaza's Ark—a refurbished boat that was set to sail in June from the port of Gaza out to sea carrying Palestinian export goods—was sabotaged when explosive devices caused substantial damage to its hull. Repairing the boat will cost about $30,000. The attack is still under investigation.
Gaza's Ark can be ready to sail this fall—but we need your support to make it happen.
Human rights activists have called for an International Freedom for Gaza Day on May 31 to mark the fourth anniversary of the attack on the Mavi Marmara, which killed nine Turkish and a Turkish-American human rights activist—the tenth died this week after four years in a coma —as they attempted to challenge the blockade of Gaza. Actions drawing attention to the siege will take place in Gaza, Turkey, and around the world.
If you participate in social media, you have a unique opportunity to help raise the profile of the International Freedom Day for Gaza and Gaza's Ark.
Find sample tweets in Pastebin below but DO NOT START UNTIL 10AM ET. Here's a countdown: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/gazaday-countdown
Next week, I'm traveling to Israel/Palestine with a delegation of US peace activists. One thing that we will be doing while there is meeting with Israelis and Palestinians resisting the Israeli government's seizure of Palestinian lands. Such land grabs have become a regular facet of life in the West Bank, but it's not only Palestinians in the West Bank who are subject to them.
The Israeli government has plans to remove upwards of 40,000 Bedouin in the Negev desert in southern Israel from their homes and their lands. As in the West Bank, attempts to protest these seizures have been met by force from the Israeli military and police.
The US has yet to publicly oppose either the Prawer Plan or Israeli suppression of peaceful protest. Join me in calling on President Obama and other US officials to publicly oppose the Prawer Plan and to press the Israeli government to respect the right to peaceful protest in Israel and the occupied territories.
You can also help support my trip to Israel/Palestine by making a tax-deductible donation:
If you've seen last year's Oscar-nominated documentary 5 Broken Cameras, you know something about the Palestinian struggle to resist Israel's seizure of Arab land and the Israeli military's response to such resistance.  The demonstrations in Bil'in, where 5 Broken Cameras was filmed, as well as Ni'lin, Nabi Saleh and other villages, have become regular features of Palestinian life.  Every Friday, Palestinian villagers, often accompanied by Israeli and international activists, march against the confiscation of their land for settlement expansion, barrier walls and military zones. Each week, they are met by tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades. They are arrested, detained, harassed. Under Israeli occupation, the right to peaceful protest has been effectively nullified.
On Tuesday, after overcoming months of smears, hysterical rhetoric, and procedural obstruction, Chuck Hagel was confirmed as our next Secretary of Defense. We hope Secretary Hagel will help speed the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan, help avoid war with Iran, and help cut the Pentagon budget, as groups who supported his nomination expect.
But one thing is in the bag: we showed that in Congress we could beat the Likud Lobby—the group of people in Washington that drove the opposition to Hagel's nomination.  This faction says that "unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you're anti-Israel," as Barack Obama characterized their claims in 2008. 
Now the Likud Lobby is pressing the Senate to endorse an Israeli military attack on Iran. If the U.S. were to support such an attack, it would likely draw us into war.
If we could beat the Likud Lobby on Hagel, we can beat them on this.
Urge your Senators to oppose the AIPAC "backdoor to war" bill and to take steps towards peace with Iran and Palestine.
AIPAC is holding its annual policy conference next week, during which hundreds of pro-Likud activists will descend on Congress to push your representatives to support war with Iran and a continuation of the status-quo between Israel and Palestine. Here are three things you can ask your reps to do to promote peace instead:
- Urge your Senators to oppose the Graham bill endorsing an Israeli attack on Iran. Senator Lindsey Graham is introducing a bill that says that if Israel attacks Iran, the U.S. should support Israel militarily and diplomatically.  JTA reports that winning Congressional support for this bill will be a focus of AIPAC's policy conference next week.  Urge your Senators to oppose this bill and to insist that the language endorsing an Israeli attack on Iran be removed.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse — Senate Republicans and their friends in the Greater Israel Lobby are using classic McCarthyite smear tactics to try to derail the confirmation of former Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham dug up an unsubstantiated report that Hagel once voiced concern over Israel “becoming an apartheid state”, and now the Lobby is making hay of the charge.
Unless we act now—we have until Tuesday when the Senate reconvenes—the Lobby could succeed in smearing a public servant for saying what many high-ranking Israelis, including former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, have been saying for years.  
Join us and our partners at Jewish Voice for Peace now.
Sign our petition to Senator Lindsey Graham telling him that he can't smear Chuck Hagel for having a mainstream Israeli view.
[More quotes from prominent Israelis using "the A word" can be found here.]
Graham and friends fail to understand that a responsible United States’ Middle East policy must include recognition of millions of Palestinians living under Israeli military rule without their basic rights, or inside of Israel as second-class citizens. Only then can we hope to reach a lasting peace for both peoples.
Israel’s many public officials who have talked about apartheid recognize this, but most Senate Republicans are acting as if full support of Israel’s settlement policies is required for the position of US Secretary of Defense.
Already, Christians United for Israel has called for President Obama to remove Hagel’s candidacy. And the American Jewish Committee has called for “further deliberation” on Hagel’s candidacy. Now 15 Senate Republicans have written to President Obama, demanding that he withdraw Hagel's nomination. 
Hamas and Israel have reportedly agreed to terms for a ceasefire, which should be taking effect right about now. This is a welcome development.
But just because a ceasefire has been agreed upon doesn't mean that we can or should forget the United States's hypocritical response to the violence, which was on display as late as this morning when President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued statements on a bus bombing in Tel Aviv said by some to be perpetrated by Hamas.
Didn't they learn anything last time?
In 2008, the Israeli military invaded Gaza, claiming they were going to destroy Hamas. They didn't destroy Hamas - politically, they made it stronger - but they did kill a thousand Palestinian civilians and destroy a lot of Palestinian civilian infrastructure, some of which was never fully rebuilt due to the Israel-Egypt-US blockade of Gaza.
Now Israel is attacking Gaza again. The stated reason is rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. Of course, that's not the complete story.  But more violence from Israel into Gaza isn't going to end rocket fire from Gaza. It hasn't in the past and won't in the future. The violence can only end with a political agreement to stop all violence across the Israel-Gaza border. The first step is an immediate cease-fire. This should lead to a political agreement that guarantees a permanent end to armed attacks across the border from both sides and permanently ends the siege of Gaza's economy and people.
Urge President Obama and Members of Congress to work towards an immediate ceasefire and a political agreement that permanently ends the violence and ends the blockade. You can use the following link:
Thank you for all you do to help bring about a more just foreign policy,
Robert Naiman, Chelsea Mozen, Sarah Burns and Megan Iorio
Just Foreign Policy
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1. See, e.g.,
“Who Started the Israel-Gaza Conflict?” Robert Wright, The Atlantic, November 16, 2012, http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/11/who-started-the-israel-gaza-conflict/265374/
US Should Condemn Israeli Assault On Gaza And Call For Immediate Cease-Fire (But Of Course, It Hasn't)
For the last few days, Gaza has been under assault by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). The US press is reporting the Israeli attack to be in response to rocket fire coming from the Gaza strip, although the sequence of events isn't quite that simple. So far, 15 Palestinians have been killed, eight of which have been reported to be civilians, including a pregnant woman, a 10-month old son of a BBC worker, and three infants. A rocket launched from Gaza after the Israeli assault began is said to have killed three Israeli civilians.
In the grand scheme of things, Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky is one of my favorite Members of Congress: progressive, smart, articulate, willing to stand up for what's right even when the pressure is on from the party leadership to go along with injustice, as when she worked to block the President's deficit commission from recommending cuts to Social Security.
But when it comes to U.S. policy towards Israel and the Palestinians, Rep. Schakowsky not only fails to be progressive; she seems to go out of her way to sign onto the most outrageously right-wing "pro-Israel" initiatives imaginable, when she could just say: "let's let this one pass us by," as the vast majority of Democratic Members of Congress do, when confronted with the most outrageously right-wing initiatives of the "pro-Israel lobby."
This past week, Rep. Schakowsky signed a letter signed a letter to the Turkish government "Urging Turkey to Stop Another Flotilla from Departing for the Gaza Strip." The letter slammed the upcoming Gaza freedom flotilla as a provocation.
Anyone who knows anything about the region knows that a letter from these Members of Congress urging Turkey to stop the flotilla is likely to have about as much influence in Turkey as a group of Turkish parliamentarians would have in Washington if they urged President Obama not to veto a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank.
The feedback that Turkey got from the region following last year's flotilla was: you rock. Arabs were coming to demonstrations carrying pictures of the Turkish Prime Minister.