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Letter to the Biden (and Trump) Campaigns for a Fair and Just Foreign Policy Regarding Israel and Palestinian Right

Letter To The Biden (and Trump) Campaigns For A Fair And Just Foreign Policy Regarding Israel And Palestinian Right

This letter, signed by more than 100 progressive, anti-war, and faith-based U.S. organizations, urges presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden (and Donald Trump) to adopt a principled foreign policy towards Israel and the Palestinian people based on justice, freedom, equality, and human dignity. 

Endorsers of the letter include Voices for Creative Nonviolence, American Friends Service Committee, Justice For All, American Muslims for Palestine, CODEPINK, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Demand Progress, If Not Now, Jewish Voice for Peace, Just Foreign Policy, Kairos USA, PAX Christi USA, Peace Action, and Win Without War.

The letter comes in the context of the 2020 Democratic primaries having experienced a monumental shift in leadership positions towards the state of Israel and the Palestinian struggle for freedom. Despite this, on May 19, the Biden campaign released a revolting statement of support for Israel and Jewish Americans. The letter began by conflating American Jewry with support for Israel. It promised to continue attacking the nonviolent boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, bragged about having increased military assistance to Israel at the end Obama’s term, and referred to Palestinian “choices” to commit violence.

Within days of the May 19 Biden campaign statement being released, so much backlash had accumulated that the degrading language of Palestinian “choices” had been removed. This signals an opportunity for us as progressives to influence and shift policy positions regarding Palestinians and Israel. We hope that this letter representing millions of Americans helps do that.

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.
Sincerely,

ORGANIZATIONS:

  1. Action Corps
  2. Alliance for Global Justice
  3. Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine
  4. American Friends Service Committee
  5. American Muslims for Palestine
  6. Asian American Advocacy Fund
  7. Baltimore Nonviolence Center
  8. Bay Area Women in Black
  9. Cafe Palestina
  10. Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security
  11. Center for International Policy
  12. Central Pacific Conference Palestine Israel Network
  13. Chicago Area Peace Action (CAPA)
  14. Chicago Committee Against War and Racism
  15. Chicago Faith Coalition on Middle East Policy
  16. CODEPINK
  17. Christian Peacemaker Teams- Palestine
  18. College of Charleston Catholic Students Association
  19. Community of Living Traditions at Stony Point Center
  20. Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
  21. Cultures of Resistance
  22. Demand Progress
  23. Dorchester People for Peace (Boston)
  24. Episcopal Bishop’s Committee for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land ( Diocese of Olympia)
  25. Episcopal Peace Fellowship – Palestine Israel Network
  26. Fellowship of Reconciliation – USA
  27. FEMENA
  28. Feminist Foreign Policy Project
  29. Florida Peace Alliance
  30. Fox Valley Citizens for Peace & Justice
  31. Freedom Forward
  32. Friends of Palestine Wisconsin
  33. Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)
  34. Gaza Freedom Flotilla Coalition
  35. Global Exchange
  36. Green Mountain Solidarity With Palestine
  37. Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
  38. Historians for Peace and Democracy
  39. Holy Land Ministry at Spirit of Grace
  40. If Not Now
  41. Indiana Center for Middle East Peace
  42. Indianapolis Peace and Justice Center, Inc.
  43. Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project
  44. Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace
  45. International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
  46. Islamophobia Studies Center
  47. Jerusalem Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles
  48. Jews Against Anti-Muslim Racism
  49. Jewish Voice for Peace Action
  50. Jewish Voice for Peace – Hudson Valley
  51. Jews Say No!
  52. Joining Hands for Justice, Palestine/Israel
  53. Justice For All
  54. Just Foreign Policy
  55. Just World Educational
  56. Kairos Puget Sound Coalition
  57. Kairos USA
  58. KPSC
  59. Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land
  60. Madison-Rafah Sister City Project
  61. MADRE
  62. Mass Peace Action
  63. MennoPIN
  64. Methodist Federation for Social Action
  65. Middle East Children’s Alliance
  66. Middle East Justice and Peace Group of South Central PA
  67. Middle East Peace & Justice Coalition of Western Massachusetts
  68. Middle East Ministry of All Saints in Pasadena CA
  69. MidEast:JustPeace
  70. Muslim Peace Fellowship
  71. Middle East Peace & Justice Coalition of Western Massachusetts
  72. National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
  73. National Lawyers Guild – Palestine Subcommittee
  74. Nonviolence International
  75. Northwest Coast Presbytery Israel Palestine Mission
  76. Ollin Women International
  77. Pace e Bene and Campaign Nonviolence
  78. Palestine / Israel Network (PIN) of Edmonds / Lynnwood
  79. Palestinian American Coalition San Francisco
  80. Palestinian American Counsel – Chicago
  81. Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace
  82. Palestinian Media Center In Europe
  83. PAX Christi USA
  84. Peace Action
  85. Peace Justice And sustainability NOW!
  86. Peacehome Campaigns
  87. PEACEWORKERS
  88. Peregrine Forum of Wisconsin
  89. Popular Education Project
  90. Presbyterian Church, USA, Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN)
  91. Progressive Democrats of America PDA
  92. Quaker Palestine Israel Network
  93. Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice
  94. Rethinking Foreign Policy, Inc.
  95. Roots Action
  96. Sisters of St Francis
  97. Students Against Hindutva Ideology (SAHI)
  98. Students for Justice in Palestine, UMass Amherst
  99. Texas Coalition for Human Rights
  100. The Oakland Institute
  101. The Resistance Center
  102. Traprock Center for Peace and Justice
  103. Tree of Life Educational Fund
  104. Tzedek Chicago
  105. Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East
  106. United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network
  107. United for Peace and Justice
  108. United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR)
  109. United Methodists’ Holy Land Task Force
  110. United Voices
  111. University of the Poor
  112. U.S. Boat to Gaza
  113. Utahns for a Just Peace in the Holy Land
  114. Vermonters for Justice in Palestine
  115. Veterans for Peace
  116. Veterans For Peace Chapter 014
  117. Voices for Creative Nonviolence
  118. Voices For Peace in the Middle East – Whatcom County WA
  119. We Are Not Numbers
  120. WESPAC Foundation
  121. Western Mass CODEPINK
  122. Western New York Peace Center
  123. Whatcom Peace & Justice Center
  124. Win Without War
  125. Women Against Military Madness
  126. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) US
  127. World Beyond War
  128. World Beyond War – Central Florida
  129. Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation

Letter to Trump here

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