1. A KEY MOMENT... Because this week Israel actually made the bizarre and unprecedented announcement that they would deny entry to Israel for two members of the United States Congress.
This should be a loud wake-up call for Congress and the American public! NBC News calls it a "watershed moment." And it has been a leading story all over the U.S. [See our roundup of News & Commentary on this story, at the bottom of this email.]
The Israeli government says the travel ban was due to Reps. Rashida Tlaib's and Ilhan Omar's criticism of Israel and strong advocacy for Palestinian rights, including support for boycott actions.
From left: U.S. Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Really? We know that Israel, a country that claims to share America's democratic values, has banned free speech and action for Palestinian rights in their own country. Now it wants to apply that ban to the U.S. Congress?
UPDATE: Israel later said that just Rep. Tlaib could enter the country, only to visit her Palestinian grandmother "on humanitarian grounds"...and only if she pledges NOT to speak freely about Israel while there. Unacceptable! as she has made clear, by cancelling her trip due to these "oppressive conditions." No such conditions have been placed on other U.S. lawmakers when visiting Israel.
Both members of Congress have the right to see for themselves what is happening throughoutIsrael/Palestine and to speak freely, whether they are traveling or at home.
Sen. Bernie Sanders responded to Israel's rejection of these Congresswomen by saying what many of us were thinking: “...if Israel doesn’t want members of the United States Congress to visit their country...maybe [they] can respectfully decline the billions of dollars that we give to Israel."
Many members of Congress have tweeted their "dismay" or "disappointment" or even outrage at this insult to our legislators and the American citizens who put them in office.
But that is not enough. All of Congress, regardless of their views on Israel, has a responsibility to take action for our values and our rights:
House Resolution 496: Besides supporting their two colleagues, Congress must defend U.S. CITIZENS' rights!
Ironically, it was Rep. Omar recently who recently introduced a resolution in Congress, H.Res. 496, which simply states: "All Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.” The U.S.Supreme Court has said supporting boycotts for social change is free speech protected by the U.S. constitution.
The timing of that resolution could not be more perfect. The right to support boycotts has been banned in Israel, and now it has applied that ban to U.S. Reps. Omar and Tlaib.
Hard to believe that we need the U.S. Congress to say they support the right to free speech. But the House and Senate have recently adopted resolutions attacking boycott actions for Palestinian rights. So, yes, it does need to be said by Congress, that they support all Americans' right to boycott!
JOIN THOUSANDS OF ADVOCATES IN TELLING CONGRESS: Support your colleagues' and all Americans' rights ⬇︎
First you need to find out WHO your three members of Congress are. The Quaker organization, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), makes that easy to do here. TIP: You probably should put your full street address. Then click on each person to find all the info you need about them.
TOWN HALLS: Many members of Congress hold Town Hall events during the August recess, one of the best ways to bring your issue to their attention and hear directly from them. You also will get the attention of other constituents. Go to the websites of your legislators (you got those with step one, FIND), to see if they have a Town Hall scheduled in your area. Or try this tool: https://townhallproject.com
There is one? Great! There are so many good resources to help you prepare and participate; each has some unique tips. Besides the big ones at the top of this column... • CONNECTING OUR WORLD: Advocacy Toolkit: Attend a Town Hall See it online • FAIR: Activism Guide: How to Attend a Town Hall Meeting See it online • FCNL: Asking Questions at a Town Hall See it online • Check out this TOWN HALL TO-DO LIST from US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR).
No Town Hall this month? That's okay! Make an appointment to visit the office of your legislator, and you will have time set aside to discuss your justice issue. Two aids from FCNL: • How to Meet with CongressSee it online • How to Schedule an In-District Lobby Visit See it online
Any time of year, you can make a quick phone call to your legislator's office - the easiest way to step up your game as a justice advocate. Just have something prepared to say and identify yourself as a constituent. A staffer will take note of your concerns and pass them on. • Check out "COORDINATED CALLS" (scroll down the page) in The Indivisible Guide See it online • FCNL: "Calling Congressional Offices" See it online
When you get a Letter to the Editor published in a newspaper, you are informing and influencing a lot of readers/voters, and that makes an impact in DC too. Most of all, if you mention a member of Congress by name! See best practices for writing your letter and getting it published: • FCNL: "Influence Local Media" See it online • FCNL: "Publish Letters to the Editor" See it online
News & Commentary UMKR provides these sources for the convenience of our readers; the views expressed may or may not reflect those of UMKR. Some stories are redundant; we provide a variety of sources in the hope all readers can access some articles, with or without subscriptions.
USCPR: Israel Denying Entry to Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar Would Be Appalling and Unsurprising
NY Times: Israel Denies Entry to Omar and Tlaib After Trump’s Call to Block Them
Washington Post: Israel denies entry to Reps. Omar and Tlaib amid Trump’s push for such a move
Politico: Israel bars Omar, Tlaib from entering country, as Trump lashes out
Mondoweiss: Israel’s decision to bar Tlaib/Omar anguishes US supporters, who blame Trump-Netanyahu political tactics
New Israel Fund: Backgrounder: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Refusal to Allow to Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib Entry to Israel
Haaretz: AIPAC, pro-Israel U.S. lawmakers rebuke Netanyahu over Omar-Tlaib ban
Mondoweiss: Here’s how the Democratic presidential candidates reacted to Israel barring Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
NY Times: Rashida Tlaib Says She Won’t Visit West Bank Under Israel’s Conditions
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