Divestment News,  Journalist Shireen Abu Aklleh, BDS Divestment Action in Minnesota, and more…

Palestine/Israel and the U.S.: Updates

by Lucia Wilkes Smith, WAMM Middle East Committee

Volume 40 Number 4   Women Against Military Madness  Summer II 2022

The Pillsbury Boycott Is Suspended

There is some good news!In June the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) announced that the No Dough for the Occupation campaign to boycott Pillsbury products has been successful. The campaign was launched two years ago and has been endorsed by members of the Pillsbury family and the Palestinian Boycott National Committee, Jewish Voice for Peace, American Muslims for Palestine, SumOfUs, Women Against Military Madness, and many other local groups.

This campaign focused on General Mills because it manufactured Pillsbury products in the Atarot Industrial Zone of East Jerusalem, an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank. In 2020, the United Nations included General Mills in its database of companies doing business in illegal Israeli settlements. WAMM activists organized rallies outside General Mills Headquarters in Golden Valley, to coincide with corporate shareholders’ meetings in 2020 and 2021.

Noam Perry of AFSC congratulated General Mills, saying, “General Mills’ divestment shows that public pressure works even on the largest of corporations. With this move, General Mills is joining many other American and European companies that have divested from Israel’s illegal occupation.”

Minnesotans Continue to Press the SBI

BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) is an international effort to use economic tactics to exert pressure on Israel. The State Board of Investment (SBI), holding pension funds for Minnesota’s public employees, continues investments in Israeli weapons manufacturers, corporations, and bonds. Encouraged by the MN BDS Community, individual and group representatives have addressed the quarterly open meetings, pressing the SBI to divest from any and all assets that connect Minnesota to the apartheid system perpetuated by Israel to dehumanize and disenfranchise Palestinian people within Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Because the SBI Board consists of elected state officials – Governor Tim Walz, Attorney General Keith Ellison, Auditor Julie Blaha, and Secretary of State Steve Simon – Minnesotans are encouraged to communicate with each of them to promote divestment.

ACTION:

Attend the next quarterly meeting of the SBI  in the Capitol Building.Open to the public but to speak, advanced registration is necessary. Contact the WAMM office for the next meeting.

 U.S. Supreme Court Could Hear the Appeal of Challenged Anti-BDS Law

Because the nonviolent tactic of boycott is understood to be a protected constitutional right, many individuals and organizations have brought suit against laws passed in 30 states, including Minnesota, that deny contracts to those boycotting Israel. The chilling documentary Boycott, (directed by Julia Bacha, 2021), which details the ongoing lawsuits, debuted during the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival this year. The lawsuit brought by an Arkansas newspaper won its state case, but the judgment was then overturned by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. This means the case could be brought to the Supreme Court!

How might the current SCOTUS decide when considering First Amendment Rights versus a state’s “anti-BDS” law? Representatives of several organizations are planning to meet with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to encourage his filing of an amicus brief in this case.

Meanwhile, even before viewing the entire video, anyone can learn a bit of background by watching the four-minute trailer of Boycott

at vimeo.com/618212678.

Related Good News
By WAMM Staff

Presbyterian Resolution

The Washington Post reported that”on July 8, the 1.1 million member Presbyterian Church’s general assembly voted 266-to-116 on a resolution that stated: ‘Israel’s laws, policies, and practices constitute apartheid against the Palestinian people.’” It also voted to add May 15 to the church calendar as a day of mourning the displacement of Palestinians in 1948 when Israel was created. The commemoration is often called the Nakba, or catastrophe, in Palestinian communities.



The Death by Sniper of Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a U.S. Citizen

by Sarah Martin, WAMM Middle East Committee

Volume 40 Number 4   Women Against Military Madness  Summer II 2022

On May 11, renowned journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a U.S. citizen of Palestinian heritage, was reporting for Al Jazeera when she was murdered.She died instantly with a precise hit to her head below the ear in the small, exposed space between her helmet and bright-blue flak jacket clearly marked PRESS. This was before Biden’s trip to the Middle East in mid-June. At the time, Shireen was covering an assault by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on the West Bank, in thecity of Jenin.Many independent investigations found that she had been deliberately targeted and assassinated by an IDF sniper.  Despite overwhelming evidence, Israel refused to accept responsibility. As Shireen was a U.S. citizen, she is entitled to accountability and justice for her murder.

JOURNALIST SHIREEN-ABU-AKLEH

For many years Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aklleh, an American citizen of Palestinian heritage, covered the brutality of life under Israeli military rule in Israel/Palestine until she was shot by an IDF sniper.

The Biden administration announced that the U.S. Security Coordinator (USSC) for Israel oversaw an independent forensic and ballistic analysis and couldn’t reach a conclusion because the bullet that had entered Shireen’s body was too badly damaged. The USSC was then granted access to the IDF and Palestinian Authority investigations.

Although the USSC conclusion was that the IDF likely shot Shireen, the U.S. State Department “found no reason to believe that this was intentional.”  To add further insult, it ultimately blamed Palestinians by giving the impression that the IDF presence was necessitated at the scene to put down an “Islamic Jihad”, without saying anything about the IDF assault on Jenin: The State Department press release proclaimed that Shireen’s death was “the result of tragic circumstances during an IDF-led military operation against factions of Palestinian Islamic Jihad on May 11, 2022, which followed a series of terrorist attacks on Israel.”  (“The Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh,” Ned Price, U.S. State Department press release, July 4, 202, tinyurl.com/55pzu37h)Furthermore, Biden did not raise the incident of Shireen’s death when he visited the Middle East, just as he reportedly did not raise,with his Saudi hosts, the grisly murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian citizen and columnist for the Washington Post,despite Biden having called Saudi Arabia a pariah state on the campaign trail.

The U.S. government touts the importance of human rights, but when it comes down to it, economic and political factors take priority.  The request for more oil is more important than justice and human rights. As Biden declared himself a “Zionist” when he stepped off the plane in Tel Aviv, he showed that U.S. unconditional support for Israel’s brutal occupation and treatment of Palestinians is more important than the life of a U.S. citizen or journalist.


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