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Send letters: Tell Amnesty International, no Amnesty for Israeli Apartheid

August 6, 2009

ISSUED  BY:
*   _The  Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott
of Israel_ (http://www.pacbi.org/)  (PACBI)
*   _Adalah-NY: The Coalition for  Justice in the Middle East_
(http://adalahny.org/)
*   _Boycott! Supporting  the Palestinian BDS Call from Within _
(http://www.boycottisrael.info/) (Israel)
*   _British Committee for the  Universities of Palestine_
(http://www.bricup.org.uk/)  (BRICUP)
*   _International Jewish  Anti-Zionist Network_
(http://www.ijsn.net/home/)
*   _Jews Against the  Occupation-NYC_ (http://www.jatonyc.org/)
*   _Jews for Boycotting  Israeli Goods_ (http://www.bigcampaign.org/)
(UK)
*   _New York Campaign for  the Boycott of Israel_
(http://boycottisraelnyc.org/)  (NYCBI)
*   _New York City Labor  Against the War_
(http://nyclaw01.wordpress.com/)
*   _Palestine  Solidarity Campaign_
(http://www.palestinecampaign.org/index2b.asp)  (UK)
*   _US Campaign for the  Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel_
(http://usacbi.wordpress.com/)
August  5, 2009
The  Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of  Israel
(PACBI) and groups around the world have been calling  for months for
musician Leonard Cohen to cancel his planned  September concert in Israel. With
the international community  failing to take action to stop Israeli oppression
of the  Palestinian people, and inspired by the international boycott
movement that helped bring an end to apartheid in South  Africa, Palestinian
civil society has launched calls for _Boycott,  Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)_
(http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/52)  against Israel, including  an
academic and cultural boycott of Israel. Ninety-three  artists, writers and
other cultural workers have _signed  onto_
(http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=415&key=filmmakers)  the Palestinian cultural boycott call. Many
dignitaries signed the “_No  Reason to Celebrate_
(http://www.pngo.net/data/files/english_statements/08/PNGO-THT-HP5208(2).pdf) ” pledge and refused to
participate in  any artistic or literary event during Israel’s year-long 60th
anniversary celebrations.
Feeling  the heat of the protests, Cohen and his PR staff tried to
schedule a small concert in Ramallah to “balance” his concert  in Israel. However,
Palestinians rejected the Ramallah concert  and any claimed symmetry
between the occupying power and the  people under occupation.
Now  Cohen and his PR staff are trying to whitewash the concert in  Israel
by using Amnesty International USA’s good name.  According to _a  July 28th
article_
(http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?apage=1&cid=1248277906714&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull)  in the Jerusalem Post, Amnesty
International USA will serve as sponsor of a new fund. The  fund will launder the
money raised at Cohen’s concert in  Israel by using it to finance programs for “
peace.”
In  response, sixteen groups and coalitions issued a July 30th  Open Letter
to Amnesty International calling on Amnesty to be  true to its values and
immediately withdraw support for  Leonard Cohen’s ill-conceived concert in
Israel. The groups  noted that by supporting Cohen’s concert, Amnesty
International is undermining a successful effort by  Palestinian and international
civil society to end Israel’s  occupation and other violations of
international law and human  rights principles. Amnesty International also is
partnering in  the initiative with Israeli institutions that undermine peace,
including a bank directly involved in supporting Israeli  settlement
construction. The only alleged Palestinian partner  has announced it is not taking part.
TAKE  ACTION
Please  email Amnesty International, calling on Amnesty to withdraw  from
support for Cohen’s concert. Amnesty International is  recognized by many as
defending human rights worldwide, so  please be respectful and courteous in
your message.
You  can write and email your own letter, or use the sample letter  below
and email it, or send an editable form letter via the  website of the New
York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel:
_http://boycottisraelnyc.org/category/629/tell-amnesty-international-entertaining-apartheid-israel-deserves-no-amne
sty_
(http://boycottisraelnyc.org/category/629/tell-amnesty-international-entertaining-apartheid-israel-deserves-no-amnesty) .  Further below, for
reference, is the full Open Letter to  Amnesty International.
If  you send your own email, please email your letter  to:
_lcox@aiusa.org_ (mailto:lcox@aiusa.org) , _cgoering@aiusa.org_
(mailto:cgoering@aiusa.org) , _ZJanmohamed@aiusa.org_ (mailto:ZJanmohamed@aiusa.org) ,
_ikhan@amnesty.org_ (mailto:ikhan@amnesty.org) , _msmart@amnesty.org_
(mailto:msmart@amnesty.org) , _ccordone@amnesty.org_
(http://ccordone@amnesty.org/) ,  _drovera@amnesty.org_ (http://drovera@amnesty.org/)
-Larry  Cox, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA
-Curt  Goering, Senior Deputy Executive Director of Amnesty  International
USA
-Zahir Janmohamed, Advocacy Director for  the Middle East and North Africa
at Amnesty International  USA
-Irene Khan, Amnesty International Secretary  General
-Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International (UK) Senior  Director
-Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International (UK) Middle  East Director, Research
and Regional Programs
-Donatella  Rovera, Amnesty International (UK) Researcher on Israel and
the Occupied Palestinian Territories)
If  you email your own letter, please cc it to:
_noamnesty4israeliapartheid@gmail.com_ (mailto:noamnesty4israeliapartheid@gmail.com)   so that we can
keep track of the  responses.
____________________________________

SAMPLE  LETTER TO AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Dear  Amnesty International,
I  hold Amnesty International’s worldwide work for human rights  and
international law in high esteem. For this reason, I was  very troubled to learn
that Amnesty International has agreed  to manage a fund that will disburse
the proceeds from Leonard  Cohen’s planned concert in Israel in September. I
call on  Amnesty International to be true to your values, distance  yourself
from efforts to normalize Israel’s occupation and  apartheid, and
immediately withdraw support for Leonard  Cohen’s ill-conceived concert in Israel.
By  supporting Cohen’s concert, Amnesty International will be  subverting
the worldwide movement to boycott Israel, a  non-violent, effective effort by
Palestinian and international  civil society to end Israel’s violations of
international law  and human rights principles. Accepting funds from the
proceeds  of Cohen’s concert in Israel is the equivalent of Amnesty  accepting
tainted funds from a concert in Sun City in  apartheid South Africa.
Ninety-three  artists, writers and other cultural workers have _signed
onto_ (http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=415&key=filmmakers)  the
Palestinian cultural boycott call. Many  dignitaries signed the “_No  Reason to
Celebrate_
(http://www.pngo.net/data/files/english_statements/08/PNGO-THT-HP5208(2).pdf) ” pledge and refused to participate in  any artistic or literary
event during Israel’s year-long 60th  anniversary celebrations.
In  his protest resignation from Amnesty International over this  issue,
Irish author and composer, Raymond Deane, wrote:
“By  assisting Cohen in his ruse to bypass this boycott, Amnesty
International is in fact taking a political stance, in  violation of the premise of
political neutrality with which it  so regularly justifies its failure to
side unambiguously with  the oppressed. Amnesty is telling us: resistance is
futile,  the voice of the oppressed is irrelevant, international  humanitarian
law is a luxury.”
Furthermore,  the Israeli partners in the concert, the Peres Center for
Peace and Israel Discount Bank, actively hinder efforts to  achieve a just
peace. A columnist in Israel’s Ha’aretz Daily  called the Peres Center for
Peace patronizing and colonial  organization that is in the business of
training “the  Palestinian population to accept its inferiority and prepare  it to
survive under the arbitrary constraints imposed by  Israel.” According to
research by Who Profits, a project of  Israel’s Coalition of Women for Peace,
Israel Discount Bank is  deeply involved in supporting Israel’s settlement
enterprise.  Israeli settlements violate the very tenets of international
law that Amnesty International works to uphold.
Finally,  the only Palestinian organization falsely reported in the July
28th Jerusalem Post article as being a partner in this  project, the
Palestinian Happy Child Center, has confirmed  that it is not taking part. There is
no Palestinian  organization participating in this whitewash.
Thank  you for your attention to this vital human rights issue. I  look
forward to learning of Amnesty International’s withdrawal  of its support for
the Leonard Cohen concert in Israel.
Sincerely,
Your  name
Your city and country of residence
____________________________________

Entertaining  Apartheid Israel Deserves No Amnesty!
Open  Letter to Amnesty International
July  30, 2009
In  May, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural  Boycott of
Israel (PACBI) _called on singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen_
(http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1006&key=leonard%20cohen)  to  heed the _Palestinian
call_ (http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=315&key=filmmakers)  for a
cultural boycott of  Israel and avoid complicity with Israel’s violations of
international law by cancelling his planned September concert  in Israel,
particularly in view of Israel’s war crimes in Gaza  earlier this year. Sadly,
according to a _July 28 article_
(http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?apage=2&cid=1248277906714&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull)  in the Jerusalem
Post,  Amnesty International USA has agreed to cooperate with Cohen  in
dealing with Israel on the basis of business as usual.  Amnesty International USA
will serve as sponsor of a new fund  that will whitewash the money raised
at Cohen’s concert in  Israel by using it to finance programs for “peace.”
Being one  of the world’s strongest proponents of human rights and
international law, you shall thus be subverting a non-violent,  effective effort by
Palestinian and international civil  society to end Israel’s violations of
international law and  human rights principles. We call on you to be true to
your  values and immediately withdraw support for Leonard Cohen’s
ill-conceived concert in Israel.
The  Jerusalem Post report indicates that Cohen and his PR staff,  having
been criticized for trying to normalize Israel’s  occupation and apartheid,
are trying to whitewash the concert  in Israel by using Amnesty International
USA’s good name.  According to the article, “All of the net proceeds from
Leonard Cohen’s September 24 concert at Ramat Gan Stadium will  be
earmarked for a newly established fund to benefit Israeli  and Palestinian
organizations that are working toward  conciliation,” and the fund will be “
sponsored by Amnesty.”  Curt Goering, the senior deputy executive director of
Amnesty  International USA, told the Post, “We saw this as an exciting
opportunity with potential to recognize, support and pay  tribute to the Israelis and
Palestinians who have been working  for peace and human rights amid a
difficult environment and  insurmountable odds. I see our participation as
complementary  to what we do, even though this initiative is different from
Amnesty’s ongoing work.”
WHY  WE ARE CALLING ON AMNESTY TO WITHDRAW FROM THE  PROJECT
By  supporting Cohen’s concert in Israel, Amnesty International is
actively undermining a particularly successful effort by  Palestinian and
international civil society to end Israel’s  occupation and other violations of
international law and human  rights principles. We find this position by Amnesty
particularly frustrating and puzzling given your _call for an arms embargo
against Israel_
(http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/arms-embargo-vital-gaza-civilian-toll-mounts-20090115)   following its atrocities in
Gaza earlier this year, which your  organization described as constituting war
crimes.
Accepting  funds from the proceeds of Cohen’s concert in Israel is the
equivalent of Amnesty accepting funds from a concert in Sun  City in apartheid
South Africa. Profits earned through  violations of human rights and
international law are tainted  and should not be accepted by any morally consistent
human  rights organization, particularly when this money is intended  to be
used to whitewash the very violations behind those  profits.
Furthermore,  your Israeli partners in this venture actively hinder efforts
to achieve a just peace. The Peres Center for Peace, with its
multi-million dollar annual budget and _fifteen million dollar building_
(http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1032834.html) , is listed  incongruously by the
Jerusalem Post as both a beneficiary of  the fund and a member of the new fund’s
Board of Trustees. The  Peres Center _has been denounced_
(http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=45&key=peres%20peace%20center)  by leading Palestinian
civil society organizations for promoting joint  Palestinian-Israeli
projects that are “neither effective in  bringing about reconciliation, nor
desirable” and that enhance  “Israeli institutional reputation and legitimacy,
without  restoring justice to Palestinians, in the face of continued  Israeli
Government violations of international law and  fundamental Palestinian
human rights, including breaches of  the Geneva Conventions.” A columnist in
Israel’s Ha’aretz  Daily called the Peres Center _patronizing and colonial_
(http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1032834.html) , explaining that  “Efforts
are being made to train the Palestinian population to  accept its
inferiority and prepare it to survive under the  arbitrary constraints imposed by
Israel, to guarantee the  ethnic superiority of the Jews.”
Your  other indirect partner in this project, according to the  Jerusalem
Post, is Israel Discount Bank, a key sponsor of the  Cohen concert. Who
Profits, a project of Israel’s Coalition of  Women for Peace, _reports that_
(http://www.whoprofits.org/Company%20Info.php?id=558)  Israel Discount Bank has
branches in the settlements of Beitar Illit and Maale Adumim,  has financed
construction in the settlements of Har Homa,  Beitar llit and Maale Adumim,
and is a major shareholder in a  factory in a settlement. Amnesty hardly
needs any reminder  that Israel’s colonial settlements built on occupied
Palestinian territory are not only illegal under international  law but are
considered war crimes in the Fourth Geneva  Convention. Your intention to
indirectly partner with a bank  that profits from the occupation and to oversee a
fund that  uses some of that legally and morally stained money  contradicts
Amnesty’s founding principles and commitment to  human rights.
The  latest attempt by the Cohen team to find an alternative  Palestinian
fig leaf has also failed. The only Palestinian  organization falsely reported
in the Jerusalem Post article as  being a partner in this project, the
Palestinian Happy Child  Center, has confirmed that it is not taking part. There
is no  Palestinian organization participating in this whitewash.
BACKGROUND  ON THE BOYCOTT
With  the international community failing to take action to stop  Israeli
oppression of the Palestinian people, and inspired by  the international
boycott movement that helped bring an end to  apartheid in South Africa,
Palestinian civil society has  launched calls for _Boycott, Divestment and
Sanctions (BDS)_ (http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/52)   against Israel, including
an academic and cultural boycott of  Israel. Endorsed by _nearly sixty
Palestinian cultural and civil  society organizations_
(http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=868)  and inspired by the South African  anti-apartheid
boycotts, _PACBI calls_ (http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=869)  on “the
international community  to comprehensively and consistently boycott all Israeli
academic and cultural institutions as a contribution to the  struggle to
end Israel‘s occupation, colonization and system  of apartheid.” These
Palestinian calls have inspired a growing  international boycott movement which
gained added momentum  following Israel’s assault on Gaza last winter.
In  April, the _British Committee for the Universities of  Palestine
(BRICUP)_ (http://www.bricup.org.uk/documents/LeonardCohen.pdf)  and _over 100
Israelis_ (http://www.boycottisrael.info/content/open-letter-leonard-cohen)
called on Leonard Cohen to  cancel his planned September concert in Israel.
Protests  against Cohen’s plans to play in Israel were then held at  Cohen’s
concerts in _New York_
(http://adalahny.org/index.php/videos-of-our-events/310–leonard-cohen-dont-play-israel) , _Boston_
(http://boston.indymedia.org/feature/display/207645) , Ottawa and _Belfast_
(http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/news-gossip/leonard-cohen-faces-palestinian-picket-at-his-belfast
-show-1838840.html) , among other cities. Feeling the  rising heat of the
protests, Cohen tried to schedule a small  concert in Ramallah to “balance”
his concert in Israel.  However, Palestinians rejected the Ramallah concert.
The  Palestinian group that was supposed to host the Ramallah event
cancelled its invitation to Mr. Cohen after realizing the  adverse effects this
would have on the boycott movement, which  is widely supported by
Palestinians. Reflecting the general  mood in Palestinian society against any claimed
symmetry  between the occupying power and the people under occupation, a  July
12 _PACBI statement_ (http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1039&key=cohen)
explained, “Ramallah will  not receive Cohen as long as he is intent on
whitewashing  Israel‘s colonial apartheid regime by performing in Israel.
PACBI has always rejected any attempt to “balance” concerts or  other artistic
events in Israel–conscious acts of complicity  in Israel‘s violation of
international law and human  rights–with token events in the occupied
Palestinian  territory.”
For  all the above reasons, we strongly urge you to distance  Amnesty
International from this discredited project and its  tainted money.
Signed:
*   _The Palestinian  Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of
Israel  (PACBI)_ (http://www.pacbi.org/)
*   _Adalah-NY: The  Coalition for Justice in the Middle East_
(http://adalahny.org/)
*   _The  Alternative Information Center (AIC)_
(http://www.alternativenews.org/)
*   _American Jews for  a Just Peace (US)_ (http://www.ajjp.org/)
*   _Architects and Planners for Justice in  Palestine (UK)_
(http://apjp.org/)
*   _BOYCOTT!  Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within
(Israel)_ (http://www.boycottisrael.info/)
*   _British  Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP)_
(http://www.bricup.org.uk/)
*   _Independent Jewish Voices (Canada)_
(http://www.independentjewishvoices.ca/)
*   _International  Jewish Anti-Zionist Network_
(http://www.ijsn.net/home/)
*   _Ireland Palestine  Solidarity Campaign (IPSC)_
(http://www.ipsc.ie/)
*   _Jews Against  the Occupation-NYC_ (http://www.jatonyc.org/)
*   _Jews for  Boycotting Israeli Goods (UK)_
(http://www.bigcampaign.org/)
*   _New  York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel (NYCBI)_
(http://adalahny.org/)
*   _New York  City Labor Against the War_
(http://nyclaw01.wordpress.com/)
*   _Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK)_
(http://www.palestinecampaign.org/index2b.asp)
*   _US  Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of  Israel_
(http://usacbi.wordpress.com/)
Cc:
*   Larry  Cox, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA
*   Curt  Goering, Senior Deputy Executive Director of Amnesty
International USA
*   Zahir  Janmohamed, Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North
Africa at Amnesty International USA
*   Colm  Ó Cuanacháin, Amnesty International (UK) Senior Director,
Campaigns
*   Claudio  Cordone, Amnesty International (UK) Senior Director,
Research and Regional Programs
*   Donatella  Rovera, Amnesty International (UK) Researcher on Israel
and  the Occupied Palestinian Territories
Visit  us on line at _www.adalahny.org_ (http://www.adalahny.org/)
.
————-
For more information about the International Solidarity Movement, see: http://www.palsolidarity.org

————-
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We support activists from New York – and around the US – in travel to Palestine to engage in resistance to Israeli Apartheid.

For information on Israel’s Apartheid wall and its impact on the Palestinian people, please see http://www.stopthewall.org.

Other websites:

http://www.al-awda.org
http://www.electronicintifada.net
http://www.jewsagainsttheoccupation.org
http://www.mezan.org

News sites for first-hand news and updates from Palestine:
http://www.rafah.vze.com
http://www.palestinenet.org/english
http://www.imemc.org
http://www.between-lines.org
http://www.notesfrompalestine.net

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