This update was sent to letter signatories and US Campaign organizations on 26 September 2015 during the US Campaign conference.
Today, the movement for solidarity with Palestine remains deeply divided due to a series of unfortunate attacks on one of the most effective Palestine solidarity organizations in the movement.
Despite nearly two-thousand signatures, including Palestinian grassroots resistance leader Iyad Burnat; Palestinian grassroots resistance leader Bassem Tamimi; UN special rapporteur on Occupied Palestine Richard Falk; Al-Awda Steering Committee member Abbas Hamideh; professor and activist Mazin Qumsiyeh; Holocaust survivor and peace activist Hedy Epstein; Palestine-based activist leader George Rishmawi; peace activists Cindy Sheehan and Arun Gandhi; American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee founder James Abourezk; authors Joel Kovel and Sunaina Maira; former US government officials-turned-peace-activists Ray McGovern, Edward Peck, Philip Giraldi, and Ann Wright; nearly 200 members of Jewish Voice for Peace; and at least 15 Gaza Flotilla activists,
the US Campaign and Jewish Voice for Peace’s national leadership have ignored our beliefs that it is unacceptable to fabricate accusations of anti-Semitism — especially when failing to take principled stances on matters like Zionism.
This website details all of the information regarding our open letter to stop the attacks on If Americans Knew and Alison Weir, and provides in-depth analysis on some of the issues that this debacle has touched upon: the failure of the movement to put the Palestinian cause first, stigmatizing those who discuss and criticize Zionism, and engaging in witch-hunts for anti-Semitism.
Racist rhetoric at the Campaign? The US Campaign has sent around new “common principles,” up for a vote at the organization’s conference. The Campaign again refuses to consider Zionism a form of racism, while condemning “anti-Semitism” and “Islamophobia”. How an organization ostensibly dedicated to Palestinian rights can actively ignore that Zionism is a form of racism, while witch-hunting for anti-Semitism, is beyond many of us. The common principles also limit the Campaign’s opposition to Israel’s “apartheid policies” — not the Israeli government itself.
Likewise, as events have shown, the Campaign’s commitment to “reject the charge of anti-Semitism when used spuriously to silence legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies and practices” are false.
Ironically, while the US Campaign has sought to make in-roads among genuine mass movements like the Black Lives Matter movement, the Campaign’s claims of rejecting racism in all forms closely resemble the rhetoric of anti-black activists. While ostensibly claiming to reject racism generally, US Campaign singles out intolerance against the ethnic group Israel claims to represent, while refusing to condemn Zionism as a form of racism against Palestinians. This is the kind of problematic rhetoric that Black Lives Matter has repeatedly rejected.
The Campaign has also exhibited an appalling double standard to diverse Middle Eastern communities. When another member organization took a public stand that was widely condemned by many of its own members and hundreds of others as genocide denial – and was even openly rebuked by a Campaign leader – the Campaign did not expel the offending organization. Perhaps this was because the Campaign, appropriately, stayed focused on the issue of Palestine. In fact, the Campaign has given the organization, American Muslims for Palestine, a workshop slot at the upcoming conference.
Yet the US Campaign expelled If Americans Knew over tenuous accusations of anti-Semitism that outside observers consider unfounded and has barred the organization from even tabling at the conference. This despite that numerous activists consider IAK’s materials some of the most useful on Palestine and its workshops among the most valuable. Such hypocrisy is not acceptable.
You are not alone. Many of us no longer feel that the US Campaign is a safe space for us to put forward more principled resistance to Israel, Zionism, the pro-Israel Lobby, and racism more generally. More organizations have resigned from the US Campaign for the same reasons, including the Berkeley-based Free Palestine Movement and the Louisville Committee for Peace in the Middle East. Others have publicly condemned US Campaign’s behavior, including Al-Awda, the Chico Palestine Action Group, and the Ann Arbor Quakers in the Palestine-Israel Action Group. Others are in the process of reconsidering their membership.
We want to let those of you who have expressed feelings of disillusionment know that you are not alone. We believe that our Open Letter has spurred much needed internal discussion and hope that it urges those of us who are in the movement for justice in Palestine to behave as allies should.