More than 100 progressive, anti-war, anti-racist, faith-based organizations representing millions of Americans, urge presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Trump to adopt a just and principled foreign policy towards Israel and the Palestinian struggle. Signatories of the letters to Biden and Trump include American Friends Service Committee; CODEPINK; Council on American-Islamic Affairs (CAIR); If Not Now; Jewish Voice for Peace; Kairos USA; Presbyterian Church USA, Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN), and many more.
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Over 100 U.S. Organizations Urge Biden to Support Equality for Palestinians
June 22, 2020, WASHINGTON – Today, more than 100 organizations representing millions of Americans sent a letter calling on presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Trump to adopt a just and principled foreign policy towards the state of Israel and the Palestinian people, one that prioritizes freedom, dignity, and equality for all people. Signatories of the letters include American Muslims for Palestine, CODEPINK; Council on American-Islamic Affairs (CAIR); If Not Now; Jewish Voice for Peace; Kairos USA; Presbyterian Church USA and Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN).
The letter, organized by CODEPINK, states: “Current U.S. positions supporting, indeed enabling, Israeli government violations are out of touch with voters. U.S. foreign policy on Israel/Palestine should be rooted in the same values and principles that are supposed to guide U.S. policy throughout the rest of the world — respecting human rights and international law, promoting the peaceful resolution of conflicts, supporting diplomacy over military intervention, and utilizing multilateralism and multilateral institutions for dispute resolution.”
The letter comes on the heels of a recent Biden campaign statement conflating American Jewry with support for Israel and bragging about having increased military assistance to Israel at the end of Obama’s term. The statement also promised to continue, in violation on the First Amendment, attacks on individuals and organizations that boycott Israel for political reasons and referred to Palestinian “choices” to commit violence.
Within days of the release of the statement from the Biden campaign, so much backlash had accumulated that the degrading language of Palestinian “choices” was removed. This backlash reflects the growing American support for Palestinian rights, which provides an opportunity to influence policy regarding Palestinians and the state of Israel as America heads into the November 2020 election.
“Rather than reflecting the growth of support for Palestinian human rights within the Democratic party, Biden seems to be trying to show that he can be almost as hawkish and one-sided as Trump when it comes to the issue of Israel and Palestinian rights,” said CODEPINK co-director Ariel Gold. “Despite paying mild lip service to the dangers of Israel annexing parts of the West Bank, Biden’s positions are to the right of where the Obama administration was. Palestinians have been campaigning for over 70 years for their basic rights and freedoms. It is far past time for the U.S. to stop carrying water for the Israeli government and instead support justice and equality for all people.”
The shift in American opinion towards Israel and the Palestinian struggle was best captured in two key moments in the past year. One was at the March 2019 policy conference of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, when eight out of ten Democratic candidates refused to attend. The second was at the October 2019 J Street conference, when the audience burst into applause after then-candidate Bernie Sanders suggested leveraging the $3.8 billion the U.S. gives to Israel to push Israel towards respecting Palestinian human rights.
When Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign, Joe Biden indicated that he would integrate some of the politics of the progressive wing of the Democratic party in order to reflect the movement the Sanders campaign had built. Unfortunately, as far as Palestinian rights are concerned, Biden has done nothing of the sort.
"Public and media discourse, and crucially, voters' opinions on Israeli violations and Palestinian rights, have dramatically shifted in recent years but too many past and present officials are out of touch, and unaware of those changes,” said Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies and board member of Jewish Voice for Peace. “Large percentages of key voting blocs want major changes in US policy to match those changing public opinions - and any candidates hoping to win support from young, Black, Democratic, progressive, and increasingly Jewish voters, will ignore those changes at their peril."
The birth of a new phase of the civil rights movement in the United States should also be an impetus for rethinking the role of the United States in supporting repressive policies abroad. “As Americans, we cannot talk about ending the institutional and systemic racism in this country while we enable a system of apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territories,” said Dr. Osama Abuirshaid, National Executive Director of American Muslims for Palestine. “We cannot demand an end to police brutality in our streets without demanding that our government stop financing Israeli brutality with our tax dollars.”
The letter, and the full list of signers, can be accessed here, and is also included below.
Dear Vice President Biden,
We write to you as organizations and individuals deeply concerned about the continuing escalation of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people and the urgent need for a different U.S. policy -- one based on the principles of equality and justice for all.
Current U.S. positions supporting, indeed enabling, Israeli government violations are out of touch with voters. A February 2020 Gallup poll found increased support for Palestinians, especially among young people. The same is true for American Jews, who are becoming more and more critical of Israeli government policies and more and more supportive of Palestinian rights.
U.S. foreign policy on Israel/Palestine should be rooted in the same values and principles that are supposed to guide U.S. policy throughout the rest of the world -- respecting human rights and international law, promoting the peaceful resolution of conflicts, supporting diplomacy over military intervention, and utilizing multilateralism and multilateral institutions for dispute resolution. The United States should affirm the right of every human being to live with dignity, equality, freedom, and respect for human rights -- and that should include Palestinians and Israelis.
The United States has directly intervened in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict for nearly 30 years (since the 1991 Madrid Conference). It has promoted versions of a two-state solution to that conflict for even longer. It is time to acknowledge that those efforts have failed -- primarily because of U.S. failures to act as an honest broker. Longtime U.S. diplomat, Aaron David Miller, central to the process over several administrations of both parties, said the U.S. role was that of "Israel's lawyer." Providing Israel’s government with unlimited diplomatic protection and massive military financing has enabled the country to entrench its occupation, expand its illegal settlements, impose a 13-year-long siege and wage three wars against Gaza, pass laws that officially deny equal rights to Israeli citizens who are not Jewish, all under the veneer of peacemaking.
A new policy with any chance of success requires the United States to abandon its insistence on being the sole mediator of the conflict. The United Nations, as well as regional actors such as the European Union and the Arab League, should be involved as full and equal partners in a process aimed at ensuring full equality and rights for all people now living in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
What many American voters, including many Jewish voters, young voters, and voters of color are looking for in presidential candidates includes:
* explicit opposition to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and its unlawful blockade (abetted by Egypt) of the Gaza Strip;
* recognition of Israel’s obligations toward the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, a protected population, according to international law;
* support for conditioning U.S. military funding to Israel on an end to Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights and adherence to all relevant U.S. laws, including the Arms Export Control Act and the Leahy Law;
* support for H.R. 2407, the “Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act,” sponsored by Representative Betty McCollum, to ensure that no U.S. dollars contribute to Israel’s a military detention, interrogation, abuse and/or other ill-treatment of Palestinian children;
* calling on Israel’s government to repeal the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law and to ensure that Palestinian citizens of Israel and other non-Jewish citizens in the country enjoy equal rights with Jewish citizens by passing a basic law guaranteeing those rights;
* opposition to the use of U.S. security assistance against protected populations, including in Gaza, and calling on Israel’s government to protect civilians from settler violence;
* support for Palestinian refugee rights consistent with international law and relevant UN resolutions;
* promise to relocate the U.S. Embassy back to Tel Aviv until such time as the international status of East Jerusalem has changed from its current status as occupied territory;
* a promise to provide full U.S. cooperation with the International Criminal Court’s investigation into alleged war crimes committed by all sides in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip;
* rejection of U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over any territories now occupied, absent an internationally recognized final agreement with the Palestinians.
* a promise to reduce regional tensions and enhance regional stability by restoring U.S. support for and participation in the Iranian nuclear agreement (The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).
We ask that you take these issues to heart and revise your policy positions accordingly. We look forward to communicating with you and your campaigns.
CURRENT SIGNERS (6/18/2020):
- Action Corps
- Alliance for Global Justice
- Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine
- American Friends Service Committee
- American Muslims for Palestine
- Asian American Advocacy Fund
- Baltimore Nonviolence Center
- Bay Area Women in Black
- Cafe Palestina
- Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security
- Center for International Policy
- Central Pacific Conference Palestine Israel Network
- Chicago Area Peace Action (CAPA)
- Chicago Committee Against War and Racism
- Chicago Faith Coalition on Middle East Policy
- Christian Peacemaker Teams- Palestine
- Community of Living Traditions at Stony Point Center
- Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
- Cultures of Resistance
- Demand Progress
- Dorchester People for Peace (Boston)
- Episcopal Bishop's Committee for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land ( Diocese of Olympia)
- Episcopal Peace Fellowship - Palestine Israel Network
- Fellowship of Reconciliation - USA
- Feminist Foreign Policy Project
- Florida Peace Alliance
- Fox Valley Citizens for Peace & Justice
- Freedom Forward
- Friends of Palestine Wisconsin
- Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)
- Gaza Freedom Flotilla Coalition
- Global Exchange
- Green Mountain Solidarity With Palestine
- Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
- Historians for Peace and Democracy
- Holy Land Ministry at Spirit of Grace
- If Not Now
- Indiana Center for Middle East Peace
- Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project
- Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace
- International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
- Islamophobia Studies Center
- Jews Against Anti-Muslim Racism
- Jewish Voice for Peace Action
- Jewish Voice for Peace - Hudson Valley
- Jews Say No!
- Joining Hands for Justice, Palestine/Israel
- Justice For All
- Just Foreign Policy
- Just World Educational
- Kairos Puget Sound Coalition
- Kairos USA
- Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land
- Madison-Rafah Sister City Project
- Mass Peace Action
- Methodist Federation for Social Action
- Middle East Children's Alliance
- Middle East Peace & Justice Coalition of Western Massachusetts
- Muslim Peace Fellowship
- Middle East Peace & Justice Coalition of Western Massachusetts
- National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
- National Lawyers Guild - Palestine Subcommittee
- Nonviolence International
- Northwest Coast Presbytery Israel Palestine Mission
- Ollin Women International
- Pace e Bene and Campaign Nonviolence
- Palestine / Israel Network (PIN) of Edmonds / Lynnwood
- Palestinian American Coalition San Francisco
- Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace
- Palestinian Media Center In Europe
- PAX Christi USA
- Peace Action
- Peace Justice And sustainability NOW!
- Peacehome Campaigns
- Peregrine Forum of Wisconsin
- Popular Education Project
- Presbyterian Church, USA, Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN)
- Progressive Democrats of America PDA
- Quaker Palestine Israel Network
- Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice
- Rethinking Foreign Policy, Inc.
- Roots Action
- Students Against Hindutva Ideology (SAHI)
- Students for Justice in Palestine, UMass Amherst
- Texas Coalition for Human Rights
- The Resistance Center
- Traprock Center for Peace and Justice
- Tree of Life Educational Fund
- Tzedek Chicago
- Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East
- United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network
- United for Peace and Justice
- United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR)
- United Methodists' Holy Land Task Force
- United Voices
- University of the Poor
- U.S. Boat to Gaza
- Utahns for a Just Peace in the Holy Land
- Vermonters for Justice in Palestine
- Veterans for Peace
- Voices for Creative Nonviolence
- Voices For Peace in the Middle East - Whatcom County WA
- We Are Not Numbers
- WESPAC Foundation
- Western Mass CODEPINK
- Western New York Peace Center
- Whatcom Peace & Justice Center
- Win Without War
- Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) US
- World Beyond War
- World Beyond War - Central Florida
- Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation
Letter to Trump here.