Sunday, August 08, 2010

ISM North Carolina Endorses the US Boat to Gaza

ISM North Carolina is proud to endorse the US Boat To Gaza effort. The next Freedom Flotilla is being planned now and you can help send a US boat.

Dear Friends,

This is an important moment in history. In the aftermath of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacre and increased world-wide scrutiny of Israel’s blockade of Gaza, the Israeli government has mounted a huge public relations campaign spreading the lie that by letting a few more items into Gaza the blockade has been lifted. This is not the reality. Gaza is still under siege, vital building materials and other supplies are banned, exports of goods from Gaza are denied and neither ships nor people can travel without permission from Israel, permission which Israel will not give. Gaza is essentially an open-air prison under a U.S.-backed Israeli blockade.

We are planning to launch a U.S. boat to Gaza, joining a flotilla of ships from Europe, Canada, India, South Africa and parts of the Middle East due to set sail in September/ October of this year. In order to succeed in this essential but costly human rights project, we need significant financial support.

Citizens around the world have responded to the plight of the Palestinian people and are taking action to help break the blockade which is suffocating the lives of the people of Gaza and denying them their liberty. The U.S. government is complicit through established policies that uncritically support Israel in its brutal attack on the Palestinian people and on those who attempt to intervene on their behalf. We in the United States must continue to step up and do our part. We must join with others from across the world to support an end to the collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.

We turn to you to help make the U.S. boat, The Audacity of Hope, a reality. We must raise at least $370,000 in the next month. These funds will be used to purchase a boat large enough for 40-60 people, secure a crew, and cover the licensing and registering of the boat. In addition, the funds will subsidize some other costs of sending a U.S. delegation. We can make this happen together. For example, with 370 people giving $1,000, or with 3,700 people giving $100, we will have raised our full amount.

We have already received donations ranging from $10 to $10,000. So, give what you can and give generously. From the deck of The Audacity of Hope, we will be in a powerful and unique position to challenge U.S. foreign policy and affirm the universal obligation to uphold human rights and international law. Let us act now because every moment counts and every dollar counts. Together we will contribute to the great effort to end the blockade of Gaza and the illegal occupation of Palestine.

Please spread this appeal letter far and wide, so that others will contribute as well.

Thank you for your generosity.

US Boat to Gaza

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 21, 2006

News14: Israel to army: Explain shooting of Chapel Hill activist

Brian Avery
JERUSALEM -- Israel's Supreme Court on Wednesday called on the army to respond to accusations that it did not properly investigate the case of a U.S. activist who accused Israeli troops of shooting and seriously wounding him in the West Bank three years ago without provocation.

Brian Avery, of Chapel Hill, N.C., was shot in the face in the West Bank town of Jenin on April 5, 2003, where he was working as part of a contingent from the International Solidarity Movement, a pro-Palestinian group whose activists often insert themselves between Palestinians and Israeli forces to disrupt military operations.

Avery said he and a colleague were wearing bright red doctor vests and were standing still with their hands over their heads when soldiers in approaching military vehicles opened fire with no warning shots. An internal army inquiry said his allegations were baseless.

Last year, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the army to reopen the investigation. On Wednesday, Avery's lawyer, Michael Sfard, asked the court to open a criminal investigation into the shooting.

The court agreed to allow the case to proceed and gave the army 45 days to respond to Avery's request.

"Today marks a major turning point in the case," said Sfard, adding that the decision should send a message to soldiers that "there are still people who are asking the army for accountability."

Yuval Roytman, the Justice Ministry lawyer representing the army, said that a criminal investigation would not add anything to the 2003 army investigation,

"The army field investigation that was conducted was very thorough and independent," he said at the hearing. "The army thinks it's the way to investigate events that occur in war time. One has to remember that the incident occurred in the middle of 2003 when there was a lot of fighting in Jenin and all over the West Bank."

Avery's disabilities from the shooting include impaired vision in his left eye and several missing teeth. Avery had bone grafts to reconstruct his upper left jaw bone, and his left eye also was damaged.

His shooting was one of three incidents in which ISM activists were seriously injured by members of the Israeli military in the spring 2003.

On March 16, Rachel Corrie, 23, of Olympia, Wash., was crushed to death trying to prevent a military bulldozer from tearing down a home in Gaza. Her parents lived in Charlotte, N.C., at the time.

Thomas Hurndall, 21, of Britain was shot in the head during fighting April 11 and rendered brain dead as he helped children to safety.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Protest Against Israeli Occupation and Attaks Against Civilians

Press Release

July 16, 2006

Stop Israeli Occupation and Aggression!

We, concerned North Carolinians, call on the state of Israel to immediately halt its military assault on Lebanon and Palestine. Israel has bombed Beirut's airport runways, the national highway to Syria, power facilities, bridges and other targets. It has blockaded Lebanon's ports. These are forms of collective punishment against vulnerable civilian populations, and we call on Israel to cease these actions immediately.

In Palestine, Israel's rockets have killed 90 Palestinians in the last two months. Israel currently holds about 9,000 Palestinians as political prisoners, including nearly 400 children and a quarter of the Palestinian Parliaments' members. The current military assault on Gaza only represents an escalation of a continuing war on Palestinians.

We also call on the US government, which funds Israel with billions of dollars every year, to cease its sponsorship of Israel's crimes.

On Tuesday, July 18th, from 4:30-6:00pm we will rally to oppose Israel's violence against Lebanon and Palestine on the corner of Eugene and Market St. in downtown Greensboro, NC. We will be joining a worldwide condemnation, including some 1,500 Israeli's who rallied against the war in Tel-Aviv on July 15.

Sponsoring organizations include:

Muslims for a Better North Carolina
International Socialist Organization (ISO)-Greensboro
North Carolinians for Truth and Justice in Palestine
International Solidarity Movement (ISM)-North Carolina

Olla Mustafa (336) 362-3056
Julie Southerland (336) 420-3987

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Gaza Action Alert

A bridge destroyed by Israeli warplanes on a main road in the northern Gaza Strip, near Gaza City, June 28th. Credit: AP Photo/Hatem Moussa.

28th June: Last night the Israeli Occupation Forces began the grotesquely named “Operation Summer Rain” on the Gaza Strip. Rafah, scene of the May 2004 Rafah massacre by Israel, was re-occupied by Israeli tanks.

Gaza City was bombed by Apache helicopters and F16 and V58 fighter planes. Gaza's only power plant was bombed as was the water reticulation plant. Almost 750 000 of Gaza’s residents have no water or electricity today. Three main bridges which connect different parts of the Strip have been destroyed, slicing the Strip into two parts, and separating its people from each other, their places of work, schools, colleges and universities.

In addition, the Israeli military used powerful sonic bombs throughout the night and during the day. These bombs damage eardrums, create extreme feelings of fear and anxiety and prevent the whole Gaza Strip population from sleeping at night. They also induce feelings of terror in children and babies, who are already exhibiting anxious and clinging behaviour.

These air-strikes and sonic bombs which damage essential infrastructure and terrify and kill the civilian population are a form of collective punishment against the Palestinian people and are war crimes which are forbidden under international humanitarian law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prescribes the manner in which armies must treat civilians during times of conflict.

We call on the international community to exert pressure on the Israeli military to conduct itself within the boundaries of international humanitarian law and ensure the protection of all Palestinian civilians.

We also demand the immediate halt of the Israeli Occupation Forces’ attacks on the Gaza Strip and an end to the closure and isolation of the Strip, both of which are exacerbating an already desperate humanitarian situation inside the Strip.

University Teachers’ Association

Gaza Strip


- MEDIA: Please contact your local media and request that they do not act as a mouthpiece for Israel by asserting that the aim of the Gaza invasion is to rescue the captured soldier. At the very least, they can say that this is what Israel claims is the reason, or they should use the word "allegedly". It should also be made clear that the primary victim of this assault is the Palestinian civilian population, and that this constitutes collective punishment of a captive population, which is a direct (and repeated) violation of the Geneva Convention.

- LOBBYING: Please contact your elected representatives and ask them whether they support Israel's barbaric crimes against innocent Palestinian civilians. If they oppose these atrocities, ask them what they're doing about it. Make your voice heard.

- PROTEST: Protests are needed at Israeli embassies and consulates throughout the world. Even a one-person protest with a simple sign such as "Stop Israeli Terrorism" can be good at bringing attention to the situation and letting Israel know that there is widespread opposition to its continued and escalating crimes against the Palestinian people. Believe it or not, Israel does care about its image, and if the government receives reports of a number of protests, they will feel pressured to limit the operation. Please take action on this TODAY - for the sake of the innocent civilians in Gaza.

Israeli Press: Army May Ban Tourists From Holy Sites


The Israeli army says it will forbid entry foreign visitors access to all of the the occupied territories in the West Bank, according to a June 22nd article in the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv. Although the apparent goal for this seemingly impossible task is to keep international visitors from entering the occupied territories in support of Palestinian non-violent resistance, if it is implimented it could also stop tourists and religious pilgrims from visiting Biblical sites.

"The [Israeli] army will issue a decree forbidding the entry of foreign citizens into Judea and Samaria" reads a Hebrew-only print article in Ma'ariv published on June 22nd 2006. "Judea and Samaria" is Biblical terminology for the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank. Tourists including Christian pilgrims may find themselves banned from many important holy, Biblical and tourist sites, such as the Christian communities in Bethlehem, Aboud and Jericho, and the Samaritan community near Nablus. In Aboud, the shrine of St. Barbara is threatened by Israel's wall.

According to the article, the purpose of the ban is to "prevent the 'Summer of Peace' [Freedom Summer] event which is planned by the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a pro-Palestinian organization which is active in the territories on behalf of the Palestinian population". Through Freedom Summer, Palestinians in communities throughout the occupied territories invite internationals and Israelis to participate in non-violent demonstrations and direct actions against the annexation of Palestinian land.

A similar ban has been in effect in the Gaza strip since April 2003. Very few foreign visitors have been allowed to visit Gaza. Certain journalists and workers for select international organisations have been granted time-limited permits by Israel, but even these are not easy to obtain. This ban has remained in effect after Israel's unilateral "disengagement" from the Gaza strip. Only Palestinians with Israeli-issued ID cards are permitted to access through the Rafah crossing, even though it was supposedly transferred to Palestinian control with European observers. All other entry and exit points to the Gaza strip remain under Israeli control.

The announcement of this ban comes at a time when foreign aid workers and foreign nationals of Palestinian origin and their families are experiencing increased Israeli restrictions on their right to reside in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. A number of individuals residing for long periods in the Occupied Territories for work or family reasons who had been renewing three month Israeli visas by periodically leaving the country and returning were recently denied entry by Israeli authorities or told they will not be allowed to return.

For more information call:
ISM media office: 02-297 1824

Updated 12:30pm, 1st of July

South Hebron Villages Persist to Resist

"We call on the international community to intervene and stop settler violence against us."

by Zadie

Today, June 30th, the people of Qawawis accompanied by people from Tuwanwi and other neighboring villages as well as Israeli and international activists demonstrated against the settlements and the wall. About 50 people gathered and marched to the wall. The Israeli group Rabbis for Human Rights also donated ten bales of hay that will be used to feed the sheep to replace what was burned by the settlers earlier this week.

The settlers have a history of aggression towards people in Qawawis and neighboring villages. They have damaged villagers' wells and harassed and attacked children and farmers.

One month ago an inner barrier was built along the road that passes Qawawis. This barrier separates farmers from their lands and makes it hard for tractors and sheep to pass.

There were very few army and Border Police present and no journalists representing any of the local or Arab media because of the attention on Gaza. Despite this fact, the people of Qawawis continued to demonstrate their resolve to resist the illegal settlements and the wall.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Israeli "Justice": Paul Larudee Denied Entry to Palestine by Israel

UPDATE, 2pm, 18th June: Since this article was posted, Judge Pilpel has ruled that Paul will be denied entry. Paul now has 24 hours to decide whether or not to file an appeal against this decison.

Israeli friends who came to attend the court hearing Thursday of Paul Larudee, Ph.D., a 60-year-old piano tuner from California, were shocked at how the so-called trial transpired. After opening statements from both the defence and prosecution lawyers, Judge Pilpel requested a private conference in the judge's chambers with secret service agents who presented her with "secret evidence" explaining why Paul should be denied entry to Israel.

Paul's denial of entrance to Israel means denying Paul access to the occupied Palestinian territories where he was planning to support Palestinian nonviolent resistance with the ISM (the International Solidarity Movement) and has twenty engagements scheduled for tuning pianos. Israel continues to control all the border crossings in and out of the West Bank plus the only border crossing for use of internationals in and out of Gaza. Israel has denied entry to thousands of peace activists in the past three years and completely denies foreign nationals the right to visit Gaza.

To the dismay of Paul's attorney, Gaby Lasky, Judge Pilpel came back from her session with the secret service saying that she thinks that there is no reason to discuss the other points brought up in the defence. The reason for Paul's detention was not questioned nor presented to the public. This kind of "trial" is common in Israel's military legal system, through which thousands of Palestinians have been sentenced to renewable periods of "administrative detention" based on secret charges that are, in turn, based on secret evidence.

It is inevitable that democratic values in the Israeli civil legal system, such as an individual's right to defend himself in court, have been eroded under such a system. Democratic values cannot co-exist in an apartheid system. The Israeli civil court system cannot respect human rights as long as there is a parallel military legal system in which the human rights of Palestinians are disregarded.

Paul has been held in detention since the 4th of June. Judge Pilpel will give her decision on Sun June 18th at 8:00 AM

From his holding cell, Dr. Larudee made this statement,

"Am I a security threat to Israel?"

"Numerous ISM volunteers have been denied entry, for no more than the infamous 'secret security' reasons that no one is allowed to see. Case closed.

"What could the mysterious security reasons for my detention be? Perhaps there are clues.
Let's assume that it has something to do with my participation in the International Solidarity Movement, which practices nonviolent resistance against Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights. First, let's acknowledge that Israeli authorities are no fans of the ISM. We support Palestinian nonviolent resistance to the occupation on a regular basis. This may be against Israeli regulations, but that is the nature of nonviolent civil disobedience, and our actions have spared lives, both Israeli and Palestinian.

"Let me acknowledge that my treatment here is not onerous. The cells are as comfortable as one could reasonably expect in what is, in effect, a prison. The guards are courteous and make every effort to accommodate special needs. There are, however differences between my treatment and that of other detainees. I have been isolated from the rest of the population and am usually the only person in a single cell. Second, I am not permitted use of any mobile phone, while all others have this privilege. More than once, I have been told "not to talk to journalists." Finally, I was not even permitted paper and pencil until a flood of calls and a visit from the US Consul managed to reverse that draconian condition. These restrictions point towards suppression of free speech and dissent as the real motivation, not security concerns."

For more information, contact:

Neta Golan at the ISM Media Office: 02-297-1824
Attorney Gaby Lasky: 05444 18 988

Saturday, June 10, 2006

ISM Volunteer Paul Larudee in Detention in Israel

Israel Needs to Promote Harmony in Pianos and Politics
Statement from Paul Larudee

For more than 40 years, I have visited the geographic region of the Middle East known as Palestine, part of which became Israel in 1948, and the remainder coming under Israeli military occupation in 1967.

I confess that I am in love with the place and have dear friends both Israeli and Palestinian, numbering possibly in the hundreds. During my last visit in 2004 I stayed with a friend who worked at the Ramallah Cultural Palace, an events center built with Japanese funding.

Being a piano technician by trade for the last 15 years, I was asked to help find a concert instrument for the center, an assignment that revealed the absence of any piano technician among the millions of Palestinians living in the West Bank.

My visit, however, was not about pianos. I am also a very active volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement a Palestinian led group dedicated to non-violent resistance against the Israeli occupation, the confiscation of Palestinian land, the replacement of indigenous Palestinian populations with Jewish immigrants, and other violations of Palestinian rights.

For its efforts the ISM has been vilified by its detractors as a protector and supporter of terrorism, and ISM volunteers have been denied entry, arrested, expelled, beaten, shot, and, (in the cases of American Rachel Corrie and Briton Tom Hurndell,) even killed by Israeli soldiers. What happens to us, however, pales by comparison with the thousands of mostly unarmed Palestinians killed and tens of thousands disabled and imprisoned.

Despite the accusations however, no charges have ever been brought against the ISM and we are not an outlawed group under Israeli law. Although we engage in civil disobedience, our violations of Israeli law do not go beyond that and we consider ourselves proud successors to the Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Cesar Chavez and other human rights champions who were also vilified in their own time, however much we revere them today. We have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the Nobel Prize multiple times in our five-year existence.

Several months ago I decided my next visit should combine my love of pianos, Palestinians and Israelis, as well as participation in the ISM. This would mean establishing a branch of my piano business in the west bank and spending up to three months there each year. After months of planning and long days of sorting tools and supplies I prepared to make this dream come true.

Sadly, the Israeli immigration authorities chose to turn me away this time for reasons that have not yet been revealed to me. As I write from a detention facility near the airport, my lawyer is appealing the decision in Israeli court. At best, I can possibly hope for a resolution that restricts my activities to piano work. At worst, I may join millions of Palestinians living in exile who may never again see the land they love. This would be a missed minor opportunity among many major ones for Israel to show compassion and promote constructive solutions and Israel needs to be generous and to take risks if it ever hopes to achieve peace and reconciliation.

In this small instance at least some Palestinian pianos will know harmony after a long period of discord. Israel should also welcome non-violent resistance groups even if it disagrees with them and suffers inconvenience as a result of their efforts. It is part of being a free and tolerant society and it promotes alternatives to armed struggle.

More important, Israel should try releasing Palestinian funds, restoring Palestinian land and property rights, welcoming Palestinian exiles to return, releasing Palestinian political prisoners, and correcting a host of other violations of Palestinian rights. Palestinians will view any of these as an act of good will, so that Palestinian and Israeli people, and not merely their pianos, may also know harmony after a long history of discord.

Dr. Paul Larudee is a former Fulbright-Hayes lecturer in Lebanon, and contracted as US advisor to Saudi Arabia who was among seven unarmed ISM volunteers wounded by Israeli military gunfire during a nonviolent protest in the West Bank on April 1, 2002. He lives in El Cerrito, California.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Israel Tunes Out: Denies entrance to piano tuner from California

ISM MEDIA GROUP —"This is something small I can do to make life under occupation just a little more bearable for people, so I do it."

Paul Larudee, Ph.D, a 60-year-old piano tuner from El Cerrito, California travels with the tools of his trade and had twenty piano-tuning engagements scheduled around the occupied West Bank.

However, when he got off the plane in Tel Aviv Sunday night, Israeli authorities pulled him from the line, interrogated him about his political beliefs, not about his ability to tune pianos, and took him to an immigration detention center at Ben Gurion Airport. They intend to put him back on a plane today.

Dr. Larudee has visited Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories four times and has lived in the region. He has a PhD in linguistics from Georgetown University. Although never arrested or detained in the past, Israeli authorities have now decided to deport him based on his outspoken support for the work of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and the Palestinians’ right to nonviolently resist occupation.

Israeli attorney Gabi Lasky stated: "The policy of blacklisting a nonviolent peace activist as persona-non-grata, then denying them access to the Occupied Territories because of their nonviolent activities raises questions regarding Israel's intentions to resolve the conflict through dialogue and nonviolent means".

While airport officials routinely forbid entry to anyone involved with ISM, such denials run counter to Israeli policy. The Ministry of the Interior openly states that it does not seek to stop those involved with ISM from entering the country.

Dr. Larudee will refuse to get on a plane to be deported against his will, while attorney Lasky is appealing the deportation order on his behalf. His family and friends are concerned for his health while he’s in detention, since he is diabetic and has specific dietary and medical needs.

The International Solidarity Movement calls on Israel's Department of the Interior to honor its stated policies and not discriminate against peaceful individuals such as Sr. Larudee on the basis of their beliefs.

For more information, please contact

Neta Golan at the ISM Media Office: 011-972-2-297-1824
Attorney Gabi Lasky: 011-972-5444 18 988
ISM Media representative, Greta Berlin, Los Angeles 310-422-7242