Congress to Shred the Road Map for Peace

Today, the House of Representatives will vote on HR 4681, the "Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006." This bill threatens to exacerbate the growing humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories and reverse decades of US-led efforts towards peace.  Isolating the Palestinian people and the NGOs working on the ground for peace will weaken Israel's security, damage our interests, and punish the wrong people.  

There is broad agreement in Congress that direct aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA), now under Hamas control, should be prohibited unless it renounces terror, recognizes Israel's right to exist, and embraces the Roadmap.  There is also a broad consensus  for encouraging the withholding of direct aid by US allies.  That is not what H.R. 4681 is about.

This bill will severely constrain efforts to preserve support for institutions and activities essential to the emergence of a future Palestinian state that rejects terrorism and the destruction of Israel, and accepts co-existence and democracy.  Inexplicably, H.R. 4681 targets non-governmental organizations (NGOs), essentially banning U.S. support for their work.  

In addition to appropriately blocking direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, the bill would prohibit all assistance to the Palestinian people, other than narrowly-defined categories of humanitarian aid (excluding, for example, education and economic development).  The Presidential waiver is narrowly restricted, limited to situations involving U.S. national security interests.  Even then, it would impose onerous certification requirements whereby the State Department would be required - on a case-by-case basis - to consult with and report to Congress on why assistance is needed 25 days in advance of obligating funding.  Forcing the Administration to jump through these hoops for each separate assistance project would inevitably curtail the amount and effectiveness of funding provided to NGOs working on the ground to promote peaceful reconciliation and build the capacity of Palestinian civil society.  

The bill would also restrict diplomacy with moderate Palestinians by prohibiting visas and travel for all members of the PA and the Palestinian Libertation Organization (PLO), including those with no connection to Hamas.  This overly strict provision would prevent the U.S. from fully engaging moderate leaders, like President Mahmoud Abbas, who support peace with Israel.

The State Department opposes the bill in its current form, arguing that the restrictions are onerous and unnecessary.  Several leading pro-Israel organizations have registered their opposition to the bill, including the Israel Policy Forum, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, and Americans for Peace Now.  The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposes the bill, as does Churches for Middle East Peace, a coalition representing 21 mainstream Christian denominations and organizations.  Also compelling is the lack of any endorsement from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert or his administration.  

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Muslim Witch-Hunting in Israel and the West

...Challenge state authority, in these cases in the U.S, even in the pursuit of bringing humanitarian aid to the desperately needy, speaking up publicly on their behalf, or aiding them in their pursuit of justice, and you risk being the victim of ruthless and relentless police state type persecution to put you in prison for a long time. Even if they fail to do it, they can break you financially and ruin your life. That's how the system works. Understand it and be prepared....

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Gays can't say 'Israeli apartheid' in Toronto

Let them in the parade and let people along the parade route judge for themselves. I've booed and shouted opinions at a few organizations in gay pride parades.

Do we have to act as if everyone with a sign in a gay pride parade has to follow a certain script?

Geena, June 9, 2010 12:29 PM

It's strange that the phrase 'Israeli apartheid' is now banned at a major political event in Toronto. This involves a pro-Palestinian group that has marched in Toronto's gay pride parade for many years, as have groups supporting Israeli government policies. That 'both sides' approach seems so civilized and democratic, but times are a-changing and not for the better.

Pride festival bans 'Israeli apartheid'

Toronto parade marshal resigns in protest
By Carmen Chai
Windsor Star
June 8, 2010  

This year's Toronto Gay Pride Parade Grand Marshal has resigned and 23 former Pride Toronto activists announced on Monday they have pulled out of Pride festivities after organizers banned the term "Israeli apartheid" from its 10-day event.

"Pride's recent decision to ban the term 'Israeli apartheid' and thus prohibit the participation of the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid in Pride celebrations this year is a slap in the face to our history of diverse voices," said Alan Li, a co-founder of Gay Asians Toronto who rejected his appointment as grand marshal.

"Pride's choice to take a pre-emptive step to censor our own communities' voices and concerns in response to political and corporate pressure shows a lack of backbone to stand up for principles of inclusiveness and anti-oppression." . . .

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