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It's a historic victory for peace, democracy and the rule of law that President Obama has agreed to seek Congressional authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) in Syria. As a Just Foreign Policy supporter, you can take some credit for this: we helped get the ball rolling when we put out an alert last Monday morning calling for President Obama to seek authorization and for Congress to demand that he seek authorization, at a time when many were saying that trying to get Congress involved was futile.
But despite the President's promise that he only intends to conduct "limited strikes" in Syria, the AUMF he sent to Congress Saturday is a blank check for war.
Here's what you can do to pressure Congress to vote NO on the Syria AUMF:
- Call your representatives NOW. Many in Congress are undecided as to how to vote on the Syria AUMF. Taking two minutes out of your day could help prevent another US war. All the information you need to call your reps can be found here:
You can get an idea about where your reps currently stand using this Washington Post graphic. Just scroll over the dots to find your rep.
- Sign and share our petition. You can sign at MoveOn using the following link or via the action box below.
As I mentioned in our last alert, I'm in Israel-Palestine right now on an Interfaith Peace Builders delegation, meeting with Israelis and Palestinians to better understand the situation on the ground.
Just days before our delegation departed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to build over 800 new housing units in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.  But settlement construction isn't the only way Israelis are extending their control of areas the Palestinians intend to comprise any negotiated state.
Families in Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian village in East Jerusalem, are being evicted from their homes and replaced by Jewish settlers. Earlier this week, our delegation met with the al Kurd family, whose 94 year-old matriarch was displaced from her Haifa home in the 1948 war and has resided in Sheikh Jarrah for nearly 60 years. The family lost half of its home to an Israeli settler family in 2008—and is currently under threat of being evicted from the rest.
When we asked Maysa al Kurd, the daughter of the matriarch whose family lives in the section of the home remaining in its possession, what she hoped we, as Americans, would do to help her family and other Palestinians facing eviction, she said she wanted us to tell their story to President Obama and Congress.
We just happen to have an easy way to do just that. There is a powerful, twenty-five minute documentary online detailing the al Kurd family's struggle to reclaim its home and prevent a complete eviction. Watch the documentary and tell your representatives to do so as well.
Here's the documentary:
And here's the action link:
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.
Seventy percent of Americans oppose sending U.S. weapons to Syrian rebels, including 74% of independents, 71% of Republicans and 66% of Democrats.  Key Members of Congress agree: the House and Senate intelligence committees have blocked an Administration plan to arm the Syrian rebels as a “covert action.” 
Now, Vermont Democrat Peter Welch and New York Republican Chris Gibson are introducing an amendment on the House defense appropriations bill that would block U.S. military involvement in Syria. Urge your representative to support the Gibson-Welch amendment.
Reps. Welch and Gibson have submitted the following amendment for consideration on the defense appropriations bill in the House: 
None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for the purpose of, or in a manner which would have the effect of, supporting, directly or indirectly, military or paramilitary operations in Syria by any nation, group, organization, movement, or individual or, for United States military operations in Syria without the express authorization of Congress.
We don’t need another U.S. war in the Middle East. Whatever influence the U.S. has in the situation should be used to promote a political settlement that ends the war, not to add more weapons to kill more people. We don’t need more U.S. “covert” military actions that aren’t explicitly approved by Congress after open debate. We don’t need to take sides in a sectarian civil war.
There’s still time to stop this military escalation. Urge your Representative to speak up.
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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Thank you to everyone who emailed their Representative in Congress concerning the Dent-Price letter supporting US-Iran diplomacy. The next step in pressuring your Representative to sign is to call their office. Could you call your Representative today and ask them to sign the Dent-Price letter supporting US-Iran engagement? Here's what you do:
- Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
- Ask to be connected to your Representative's office.
- Once you are connected to your Rep's office, tell them your name and address.
- Tell your Representative's office to please sign the Dent-Price letter promoting a reinvigorated US effort to engage Iran following Hassan Rouhani's election as president. If your Representative is Charlie Dent or David Price, thank them for initiating the letter.
- Here are some additional statements you can use to back up your ask:
- Rouhani ran on a platform of engaging with the world and has promised to “pursue a policy of reconciliation and peace.”
- Rouhani's diplomatic credentials include being Iran's lead nuclear negotiator in 2003-5 when the country made progress in talks with the EU-3, temporarily suspended uranium enrichment, and voluntarily implemented the Additional Protocol.
- It would be a mistake not to test Rouhani's offer of engagement. If we ignore it, we send a message that the US will respond the same way no matter what happens in Iran, undermining reformists who want an easing of tensions and emboldening those who want confrontation.
- The Dent-Price letter does not take a position on whether sanctions should be ramped up or relaxed, nor does it take a position on the military option.
- When you're done with your call, report it here: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/dent-price-call-report
Thank you for all you do to help bring about a more just foreign policy,
Report your call to your Representative concerning the Dent-Price letter here.
The recent Iranian presidential election marks an important opportunity to promote US-Iran talks. Hassan Rouhani was selected in a decisive first-round vote. Rouhani ran on a platform of engaging with the world and has promised to “pursue a policy of reconciliation and peace,” saying that both the US and Iran “need to think more about the future and try to sit down and find solutions to past issues and rectify things.”  
A bipartisan group of representatives led by Republican Charles Dent and Democrat David Price are seizing this opportunity by gathering signatures on a letter urging President Obama to reinvigorate US efforts to engage in diplomacy with Iran. Tell your Representative to sign on today.
Some in the media and Congress have been saying that Rouhani's election doesn't mean anything and that it shouldn't affect US engagement with Iran. While it remains to be seen whether Rouhani will be a boon to US-Iran relations, there are reasons to be optimistic. For one, President Ahmadinejad's rhetoric was often used as an excuse for US disengagement, so a change of guard deflates many anti-diplomacy arguments. And although the highest authority in Iran remains Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Rouhani's landslide victory over his "hardline" rivals-he garnered 51% of the electorate, compared to 17% for the runner-up, in one of the highest voter turnouts in an Iranian presidential election-is being seen by many as a mandate for a more moderate government perspective, both at home and abroad.  Ignoring the pro-diplomacy results of the election would undercut those in Iran who want a diplomatic solution and embolden those who want confrontation.
Last week, there was a military coup in Egypt that removed the democratically elected president from office. Yesterday, the Egyptian military killed more than 50 people who were protesting the coup. 
No matter what one thinks of President Morsi, a coup is a coup. By longstanding U.S. law, U.S. aid to Egypt—which happens to be mostly military aid—must be suspended until a democratically elected government takes office. If the law isn’t followed in this case, it will send a signal to U.S.-supported militaries around the world that they can overthrow elected governments without jeopardizing U.S. military aid.
Demand that President Obama follow the law, and urge your Representative and Senators to insist that he do so.
The law says: 
Sec. 7008. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to titles III through VI of this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d'etat or decree or, after the date of enactment of this Act, a coup d'etat or decree in which the military plays a decisive role: Provided, That assistance may be resumed to such government if the President determines and certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that subsequent to the termination of assistance a democratically elected government has taken office: Provided further, That the provisions of this section shall not apply to assistance to promote democratic elections or public participation in democratic processes: Provided further, That funds made available pursuant to the previous provisos shall be subject to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.