Update on A New Day: Organizing to Change US Policy on Israel and Palestine

A portion of the attendees at "A New Day" conference, November 14, 2015

Since the November NEW DAY conference on November 14, 2015, organizing meetings have been held in seven of the nine Massachusetts Congressional Districts – in all except CD 2 (McGovern) and CD 3 (Tsongas).

In some CDs, successful efforts have been made to add contacts to the NEW DAY CD “Googlegroups” emailing lists (especially CDs 5, 6, 7, 8, 9); in others the numbers have remained small.   All CDs are urged to reach out to add more members, through personal contacts or invitations via a general email to people who reside in the districts.  District leaders have the ability to add members directly to their CD Googlegroups – or you can send them to me and I will add them.  It is vital to grow the numbers of activists who are willing to respond by contacting their members of Congress when action steps or alerts are requested.

On the action priorities which came out of the conference:

1) ISRAEL TRIPS: Members have been in touch with the State Ethics Commission to get further information regarding the filings by the recent Israel junketeers and to compile historical data on these trips; an attorney among our activists has been exploring the legal aspects of these trips; we have met with Mass Common Cause to explore working together on a possible formal complaint, based on the ethics and conflict-of-interest statutes.  Boston Globe reporter Frank Phillips has made a terrific contribution in keeping this issue alive. In case you missed it: Floating in the Dead Sea — in the public interestAgain, please keep up the pressure on this issue, including contacting past junketeers and possible future ones to express opposition to this practice.  An op-ed in the Dorchester Reporter may help with some background and arguments.  Meanwhile, another group, the Boston Alliance for Water Justice, has organized face-to-face meetings with some State Senators who travelled recently; another meeting with Sen. Brian Downing has been scheduled this week by our Western Mass NEW DAY activists. If you have no local rep who participated, at least contact MASS SENATE PRESIDENT STAN ROSENBERG (617 722 1500,  Stan.Rosenberg@masenate.gov) to register your objection.

2) CONGRESSIONAL ACTION ON SETTLEMENTS: At least four – and possibly six – CDs have written to the House members to ask for a meeting to advocate a Congressional resolution of some sort reaffirming US policy on the “illegitimacy” of Israeli settlements (CD 5, 7, 9, 9; possibly CD 4 and 6 — please bring me up to date!).  I am not aware that any Member of Congress (MOC) has  responded, so the requests need to be repeated, with follow-up phone calls.  Be persistent! And also keep an eye out for informal District events, “coffees” etc. that MOCs frequently schedule so that activists can attend and raise our issues. Far from acting positively on the settlement issue, recent Congressional action – at the behest of the Israel Lobby – has attempted to blur the distinction between Israel proper and the West Bank settlements, in opposition to long-standing US policy.  See, for example: US lawmakers slam EU to defend Israeli settlements.

            SAMPLE LETTER

Dear Congressman ______________,

We are writing to ask for a meeting to discuss with you our concerns about US policy regarding the situation in Israel/Palestine.

We are disappointed that recent Congressional actions have been extremely one-sided and unhelpful in promoting a just and peaceful outcome for the peoples of that troubled land.

Of course, we abhor all violence that targets innocent civilians.  But to condemn the Palestinians alone for so-called “incitement,” while omitting any reference to the 50-year Israeli occupation and ongoing settlement building is to distort the tragic reality.

We are grateful that you did not add your signature to November 3 Congressional letter, initiated by Reps. Royce and Engel, which promoted that biased narrative.  

We urge that you and your colleagues take action to reaffirm long-standing bi-partisan US policy that Israeli settlements are “illegitimate” and “obstacles to peace.”

We would very much appreciate the chance to talk over these matters with you directly as soon as feasible.

Meanwhile, thank you for representing us. We wish you and your family a very happy, healthy and productive new year.

With respect,

Please bring me up to date regarding activities in your CD!


Jeff Klein