The emphasis of the PIWG’s work is on changing U.S. policy toward Israel and Palestine. We contest the long-held assumption of our elected and appointed officials that uncritically supporting Israel with massive military subsidies and political cover, and willfully disregarding the just grievances of the occupied Palestinians, serve U.S. interests well.
We rely on sustained citizen engagement mainly with members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, who generally provide Israel with unquestioning support, ignoring the human rights standards of US and international law. We also challenge state and local officials when they unwittingly promote foreign trade initiatives that perpetuate the subjugation of the Palestinians.
The aim of our efforts is to transform the “unanimous consent” culture in Washington that has Congress repeatedly enacting the program of the “pro-Israel” lobby.
We work with advocates of a “two state,” “one state,” or “no-state” solution, leaving the contours of an agreement in the hands of the Israeli and Palestinian people. We work in the hope of one day prompting genuine debate, and stopping the stream of enabling resolutions, expenditures and laws that increasingly isolate the US from world public opinion, deny the Palestinians self-determination, and in the long run spell danger for Israel itself.
We intend to recruit allies from faith communities, colleges and universities, labor and community organizations, et al. who will participate in or endorse our work.
To advance the above agenda, we will do the following during the rest of 2014 and in 2015:
I. CONGRESSIONAL WORK
- Organize delegations of “opinion leaders” and “ordinary” constituents to visit local offices of Massachusetts Senators and Representatives.
- Regularly correspond with Congressional offices and continue to develop a network of activists prepared to do this – by email, phone call, or letter.
- Cultivate positive relations with key staffers in each Massachusetts Congressional District and with both Senators’ staffs.
- Identify those few Members of Congress (not from Massachusetts) whose progressive positions on the P/I conflict deserve to be emulated, and encourage our own delegation to work with them. (A recent example was the “Iron Dome 8,” members of the House who voted No on additional funding for Israel’s missile defense system.)
- Stage public demonstrations when possible and appropriate to criticize (or praise) Members of Congress for statements or votes on P/I matters.
II. OTHER ONGOING WORK
- Periodically write and submit LTEs in response to local press coverage or editorials on the US role in the P/I conflict. Make drafts of such letters, by PIWG members or others, available as models to activists around Massachusetts.
- Support the agenda of the US Campaign to End the Occupation on those matters that involve Congressional action, and keep its key staff informed of our work.
- Stand in solidarity with peacemakers in P/I and the U.S., who are often vilified by AIPAC, the ADL, and other “mainstream” Jewish organizations, as well as by politicians of both parties and much of the “mainstream” press.
III. RELATED EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMING
- Sponsor or co-sponsor public events (lectures, colloquia, or other presentations) that help expose the role of the US Congress in undermining progress toward a just peace for P/I. A priority consideration will be reaching an audience new to the issue.
- Pursue opportunities to collaborate (via co-sponsorships, for instance) with groups already engaged in public education, in a way that promotes constituent communication with elected officials.
- Integrate, when practicable, a perspective that relates the policies, technologies and ideology that help to enforce the occupation of Palestine, with parallel mechanisms of control now taking root in the US (e.g. drone surveillance, militarized policing of neighborhoods, “counterterrorism” exchange programs with Israeli security agencies).
IV. NEW INITIATIVES
- Plan for one or more longer-term campaign(s), identifying resources, rationales, timelines and likely outcomes. The following are two examples proposed so far, both designed to demonstrate popular support for a less one-sided approach to P/I and thus to help stiffen the spines of Members of Congress.
a) A local ballot initiative to show the diversity of public opinion, now largely obscured by the uniformity of opinions expressed publicly by elected officials, and generally in the media as well. In gathering the needed signatures, we would already be alerting and educating the public, assuring voters that other views are legitimate, and perhaps finding new allies. One possible approach would be to frame a question that puts at least one Massachusetts locality on record as disapproving US or State governmental support for ongoing unconditional aid to Israel until such time as the occupation of Palestine is ended.
b) Developing a question on P/I for inclusion in a reputable public opinion survey, focusing on the amount of military aid provided to Israel by US taxpayers.
Each of these (perhaps especially “b”) would require some funds, amounts to be determined. In late 2014 and during 2015 we will form small subcommittees to research these possibilities.