Our working group focuses on legislative action, often in the form of action alerts sent to members, asking them to contact their representatives about an urgent issue. We think this is an important component of the Palestine solidarity movement, since, in our view, it will be difficult to improve the circumstances of Palestinians in the occupied territories, in the Palestinian diaspora, and within Israel, until there is a major shift in US policy. We are focusing on three campaigns: settlements, free trips to Israel for public officials, and anti-BDS legislation (in its various guises). The first two issues were chosen for emphasis at our November 2015 A NEW DAY Conference (AND) because some progress on them seemed relatively achievable; opposing anti-BDS legislation became a priority in 2016, when it began to be seriously considered in state legislatures, including ours, around the country. We believe that the legislative landscape is changing, largely due to the extremism of the Netanyahu Likud government. This has created an increasing “partisan divide” between Democrats and Republicans on this issue. With the advent of Trump, the divide is likely to increase, which should afford opportunities to press for, and perhaps achieve, improvements in US policy towards Israel and the Palestinians.
Long Range Policy Goals:
- To change for the better US policy on the Palestine/Israel question.
- Achievable Objectives for 2017:
- Defeating the Massachusetts Anti-BDS Bills (H.1685 and S.1689), directly or by amendment.
- Getting the Democratic State Committee to consider the issue of settlements, and to pass a resolution opposing them.
- Successfully lobbying the Ethics Commission to remove, or at least reduce, the “travel exemption”.
Activities planned in 2017 to further policy goals:
Continue working towards the three (achievable) objectives listed above. The first will involve lobbying work, research (e.g. into travel-related disclosures, and into over-hyped economic claims), and coalition work (see below). The second may involve participation in a forum about settlements (promised by the DSC). The third will likely be a continuation of our 2016 efforts (Susan Nicholson’s Complaint to the Ethics Comm.), possibly with help from Common Cause.
And we need to resume, and try to strengthen, our advocacy with Members of Congress, where the issues of settlements and lobbyist-sponsored travel are also relevant: e.g., getting our delegation to sign on to bills proposed by Barbara Lee, Betty McCollum, and others that aim to improve the lot of Palestinians to some degree.
We are working with JVP and the Alliance for Water Justice to defeat the anti-BDS bills, with some legal help from ACLUM. Common Cause may participate in our work relating to the travel exemption, and we will probably join with Alan Meyers et al. to plan a June event for the 50th anniversary of the 6-day War, which launched the West Bank occupation. There may also be a conference in Nov. to mark the centennial of the Balfour Declaration and the 70th anniversary of the 1947 partition of Palestine. This conference would very likely be a coalition effort.
Convener: Jeff Klein
Co-Conveners: Eva Moseley, Susan Nicholson, Noble Larson and (the late) David Zackon.
How to Contact the Working Group?
How is your group going to grow?
Through sign-up lists at events, and direct recruiting.