Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Michael on Capitol Hill -- Palestine Asks

Rep. Jared Polis – Palestine Policy Asks”, March 8, 2011

Michael Rabb

2002 18th Street

Boulder CO 80302

720-837-9674, michael.rabb1@gmail.com

1. Amendments to the FY2012 Budget Request for Military Aid to Israel

We ask Members of Congress to offer amendments to the budget/appropriations bill to condition military aid to Israel to prevent U.S. weapons from being misued, as detailed in enclosed memo.

  • In February President Obama sent his FY2012 budget request to Congress, which included a record-breaking $3.075 billion in military aid to Israel. The Fy2011 budget, which has not yet been passed by Congress or signed by the President, includes $3 billion in military aid to Israel.

  • The United States cannot afford military aid to Israel. The website www.aidtoisrael.org documents how much military aid Colorado and the 2nd Congressional District will be providing under the terms of the 2007 agreement between the United States and Israel, and what that money could fund instead to promote affordable housing, green jobs training, education programs, and health care access. Please take a look at the numbers. The research shows that military aid to Israel comes at a price that we cannot afford.

  • Military aid to Israel does not work to promote a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis. In fact, it does just the opposite, by literally “fueling” the conflict (as documented in a 2009 Amnesty International report). Israel routinely misuses U.S. weapons in violation of the Arms Export Control Act to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians and to maintain its illegal military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. These weapons were misused by Israel to commit violations of human rights and international law, war crimes, and possible crimes against humanity before, during and after “Operation Cast Lead,” according to the UN-backed Goldstone Report. Since September 2000, Israel has killed more than 3,000 unarmed Palestinian civilians, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem, often with U.S. weapons.

  • Since the United States cannot afford military aid to Israel, and since Israel routinely misuses U.S. weapons in violation of U.S. law, U.S. military aid to Israel should be conditioned. Our proposed amendments to the budget/appropriations bill include: conditioning aid to Israel on its freezing settlements; ending the siege on Gaza; restricting the use of U.S. weapons to within Israel’s sovereign territory; and investigating prior misuses of weapons (please see enclosed memo for details).

2. Letter to Secretary of State Clinton Requesting AECA Investigation of U.S.-supplied Tear Gas

We ask Members of Congress to send Secretary of State Clinton a letter asking for the State Department to investigate Israel’s possible violations of the AECA through its misuse of high-velocity tear gas canisters and other “riot control equipment.”

  • Members of Congress have a responsibility to ensure that the laws they pass are followed. When a country misuses U.S. weapons in violation of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), the State Department is obligated by law to open an investigation and report its findings of violations to this law to Congress.

  • The AECA restricts the use of U.S. Weapons to “internal security” or “legitimate self-defense.” Israel misuses U.S.-supplied tear gas canisters and other “riot control equipment” to crack down on peaceful protests led by Palestinians, and often supported by Israelis and international citizens in solidarity with them. Several U.S. citizens have been killed after being hit with the canisters, and a number of Palestinians have been killed after being hit with the canisters or inhaling the gas. Each individual case detailed in the template letter enclosed.

3. Letter to the Internal Revenue Service Requesting Investigation of 501c3 Organizations

We as Members of Congress to send a letter to the Inspector General of the IRS asking it to investigate organizations that support illegal Israeli settlements.

  • Israel has established 150 settlements, populated by a hal-million Jewish Israelis, in the occupied Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem in contravention of the 4th Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of civilians to occupied territories. The State Department concluded in a 1978 legal memorandum that these settlements are “inconsistent with international law” and the Obama Administration has repeatedly called them “illegitimate.” The continued expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements cast doubts on the viability of a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  • Non-profit organizations registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as 501c3 organizations are supposed to be charitable and educational in nature. However, many 501c3 organizations exist to support Israel’s illegal settlements and operate in ways counter to IRS regulations to finance their distinctly non-charitable purposes. Individuals donating to 501c3 organizations are allowed by law to take a tax-deduction. Therefore, money going to these organizations deprives the U.S. Treasury of badly needed tax receipts.

  • Members of Congress have a responsibility to ensure that charitable organizations are not fraudulently taking advantage of the tax code to funnel money to non-charitable purposes that conflict with IRS regulations, U.S. law and policy, an international law.

4. Support for the Global BDS Movement for Palestine

I ask Representative Polis to support the Global Movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel’s apartheid of Palestinians.

  • The Palestinians in the Occupied Territories continue to suffer under Israel's illegal and immoral regime of military occupation, colonization and apartheid.

  • The University of Colorado invests millions $$$ in companies that support the Israeli apartheid. These companies profit from Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Some of the companies provide weapons and covert surveillance supplies that support occupation by force. Others take or exploit Palestinian resources, including scarce water and even the land itself. These companies are profiting from Israel’s violations of international law and international human rights standards.

  • There is serious concern among the University community that the University’s investments in these companies violate the University of Colorado’s commitment to human rights and social justice.

  • Please send a letter a letter to the Board of Regents, University of Colorado requesting they initiate a study to evaluate which of the University’s investments support Israeli apartheid and take steps to divest from such investments. (See template attached.)

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