July 20, 2006
Picket & Deliver a Letter to the US Mission of the United Nations
Join UFPJ and peace and justice activists: Friday, July 21, 4 -5:30 PM140 East 45th Street (between Third and Lexington Avenues)
We call for the Bush administration to:
(See text of letter below.)
While the world is crying out for global intervention to stop the bloodshed, we have been tremendously disappointed by the response from the Bush administration. And instead of rallying the international community to call for an immediatecease-fire to stop further bloodshed, it has blocked the UN efforts to do just that.We condemn all attacks on civilians, and call for the release of prisoners held onall sides in this conflict, including the Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah.But while Hezbollah violated international law by attacking Israel and then firingmissiles at Israeli cities, Israel’s clearly disproportionate response is an act ofcollective punishment against the Lebanese population — a serious violation ofinternational law.On Friday, we will go to the US mission to hold our government accountable for theirnegligent response to this conflict. Please join us.
Dear Ambassador Bolton,On behalf of United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), the largest antiwar coalition inthe United States, we want to express our concern over the escalating crisis betweenIsrael and Lebanon and urge you to support a Security Council resolution calling foran immediate and unconditional cease-fire.We are gravely concerned about the loss of lives on both sides. We condemn allattacks on civilians, and call for the release of prisoners held on all sides inthis conflict, including the Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah. But whileHezbollah violated international law by attacking Israel and then firing missiles atIsraeli cities, Israel’s clearly disproportionate response is an act of collectivepunishment against the Lebanese population — a serious violation of internationallaw.While the world is crying out for global intervention to stop the bloodshed, we havebeen tremendously disappointed by the response from the Bush administration. Insteadof using its influence on Israel to stop the devastating attacks on the Lebanesepopulation, it has supported such attacks. And instead of rallying the internationalcommunity to call for an immediate cease-fire to stop further bloodshed, it hasblocked UN efforts to call for an immediate cease-fire.We urgently call on the Bush administration to work with international partners tobroker an immediate and unconditional cease-fire and commence negotiations topeacefully resolve the crisis.We look forward to hearing your response.
From United For Peace & Justice:
Emergency Action Needed to Stop Israel’s War!
July 18th, 2006
Stop Killing Civilians in Lebanon, Gaza, and Israel!
Immediate Ceasefire! Start Negotiating!
George Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert are creating a humanitarian and political catastrophe in Lebanon and Gaza. Israeli military strikes have killed 210 Lebanese, almost all of them civilians; destroyed much of Lebanon’s infrastructure; put Israeli citizens at much greater risk (29 Israelis have been killed since June 27th); and made a full-scale regional war a possibility.
UFPJ opposes all violence against civilians. We condemn Hezbollah’s attacks on Israeli civilians, and we condemn the Israeli assault in Gaza and Lebanon. We also see the vast differences in the scope and scale of these actions. As the French Foreign Minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, described it, Hezbollah’s seizure of the soldiers and firing rockets into northern Israel were “irresponsible acts”; Israel’s bombing of the Beirut international airport was “a disproportionate act of war.”
Israel’s military offensive in Lebanon comes while Israel continues a separate siege of the Gaza Strip. Three weeks of Israeli air strikes and attacks have killed more than 60 Palestinians, stripped most of Gaza’s 1.4 million residents of access to electricity and water, and plunged them into further deplorable living conditions. Just last Wednesday, 23 Palestinians were killed, including a family of nine.
George Bush is giving a green light to Israel’s use of force, which is being conducted in part with U.S.-supplied weapons. The Bush administration’s trampling of international law and national sovereignty in its war on Iraq has also emboldened Israel to disregard international condemnation of its behavior.
These U.S.-backed Israeli actions — the disproportionate, collective punishment of civilian populations — are illegal and irresponsible responses to the capture of two Israeli soldiers and killing of eight others in southern Lebanon, and the capture of an Israeli soldier in Gaza. In fact, Israeli peace activists have been in the forefront of pointing out that these are being used as pretexts by an Israeli government determined to use force to impose its will on Palestinians, Lebanese and other neighboring peoples.
United for Peace and Justice urgently calls on the Bush administration and Congress to:
For a cease-fire and negotiations to have a chance, the Bush Administration’s unconditional, one-sided backing of Israel’s actions must end. Now, it is more important than ever for the U.S. antiwar movement to be speaking out for a peaceful and just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and an end to the U.S. role in sustaining it.
TAKE ACTION: Hold the Bush Administration to account for its backing of Israel’s killing of civilians and destruction of civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.
1. Get the facts and spread the word:
Click here for background information and resources from a wide range of UFPJ member groups and allies.
2. Pressure the Bush Administration and Congress:
Call the White House (202-456-1111), the U.S. State Department (202-647-4000), and the Congressional switchboard (202-224-3121), which will connect you to your Congressmembers’ offices, to demand that the U.S. take immediate action. Organize delegations of peace advocates to Congressional offices. We need to end Bush’s war policy in Iraq and in the Middle East.
3. Send a letter to the editor at your local newspaper:
People in your community need to hear from you. Your neighbors are probably as appalled by this as you are, and they need to see your words in print so they know they are not alone. Click here to send a letter to the editor at your local paper.
Suggested Talking Points:
“Israel has been demolishing the civilian infrastructure in Gaza and Lebanon, targeting power plants, commercial airports and bridges. While Hezbollah violated international law by attacking Israel and then firing missiles at Israeli cities, there are vast differences in the scope and scale of these actions. As the French Foreign Minister described it, Hezbollah’s seizure of the soldiers and firing rockets into northern Israel were ‘irresponsible acts’; Israel’s bombing of the Beirut international airport was ‘a disproportionate act of war.’ It is an act of collective punishment of the Lebanese population — a grave violation of international law. That is unacceptable and an even greater crime.”
4. Join or organize an emergency protest in your community:
Protests are planned in NYC and DC for Tuesday, July 18. To find a protest in your area, visit our online events calendar. If you are organizing a protest, please post the details on our events calendar and on http://www.endtheoccupation.org. To maximize media interest, seek out voices from constituencies not known to be as active on these issues.
Bush says repeatedly that “Israel has a right to defend herself,” both with respect to Gaza and to the new assault on Lebanon.
If, as it appears, last Wednesday’s attack was Hezbollah’s initiative in crossing Israel’s border, it constitutes a violation of international law, despite its claimed intention of aiding the Palestinians and helping achieve the release of Lebanese prisoners held by Israel. However, it was a border skirmish — something common on borders all over the world all the time and hardly new on the Israel-Lebanon border. A border skirmish is not the beginning of a war unless one side wants it to be. The Israeli government wanted it to be.
Israel could have responded by negotiating a prisoner swap with the Palestinians and Lebanese, as it has frequently done. Instead, it chose to attack Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure, along with Gaza’s, and it has killed more than 196 Lebanese civilians. These aren’t defensive acts; they are acts of aggression.
Every Lebanese airport has been attacked and rendered unfit for travel. Every seaport has been attacked. Several major gas stations and electrical stations have been destroyed. The major bridges in the country have been destroyed. The main arteries of the country have been destroyed — from the south to the north — making travel between main cities throughout Lebanon — and therefore escape from Israel’s bombs — physically impossible. The Israeli army has been calling upon villages in South Lebanon to evacuate, yet they have destroyed the roads on which people can travel and have bombed two vehicles full of civilians attempting to leave.
Israel’s reckless actions have endangered not only Palestinian and Lebanese citizens, but also their own people. By straining the delicate balance among Lebanon’s ethnic and religious groups, Israel also risks igniting a new civil war.
Worse, the possibility that Israel’s assault on Lebanon will trigger a full-scale regional war grows daily. Even before Israel’s assault Bush’s occupation of Iraq has destabilized the region and inflamed Arab and Muslim opinion. Now Israel has attacked near the Syrian border; Hezbollah is supported by Syria and Iran; Syria says it will defend itself if attacked; and Iran warns that if Israel attacks Syria, Tehran will retaliate against Israel. Then Bush would have a pretext for bombing Syria and Iran. (See Matthew Rothschild’s excellent piece on the Progressive’s website.)
But if Israel could not defeat Hezbollah during its 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon, neither can it do so now with air strikes, blockades, and buffer zones, nor even with another occupation. For four decades Israel has tried to deny Palestinians a meaningful state — using a military occupation to take their land, and responding with excessive force whenever it is attacked itself. But security for Israelis seems as far away as it was in 1967. Just as in Iraq, there is no military solution to the current crisis. The only real and lasting solution is to resolve the source of conflict by negotiating a resolution based on freedom from occupation and equal rights for all as enshrined in international law.
* Alternative Information Center
* American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
* American Friends Service Committee
* Coalition of Women for a Just Peace (Israeli organization)
* Electronic Intifada
* Gush Shalom (Israeli organization)
* Jewish Voice for Peace
* Middle East Children’s Alliance
* Stop the Wall Campaign
* US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation