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End Israel's Crimes Against Humanity & Aggression

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 20, 2006

NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD URGES ALL TO ACT NOW TO PROTEST AND END ISRAEL'S CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY & BRUTAL AGGRESSION AGAINST PALESTINE AND LEBANON

Israel's violence and aggression against the people of Palestine and Lebanon has already cost the lives of hundreds of people and may provoke a horrific regional or global war. The recent devastation in Palestine and Lebanon magnifies the ever-present reality of the brutal, violent, and racist occupation of Palestine and continued aggression against Lebanon. It is imperative for all people of conscience to stand in solidarity with our Palestinian and Lebanese brothers and sisters in their struggle against Israeli and U.S. occupation, aggression and imperialism. It is also imperative that we continue to fight for an end to the U.S. occupation in Iraq.

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) encourages local chapters to hold Press Conferences, Teach-Ins, Vigils and other activities in their cities and/or law schools to bring attention to the deadly Israeli military attacks on Palestine and Lebanon and to organize for the National Emergency March to Defend the People of Palestine and Lebanon on August 12th in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The August 12th March is organized by the A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) coalition, and the National Lawyers Guild has officially endorsed this action.

We suggest that you invite Palestinian and Lebanese members of your communities to speak and participate in your events so that their voices can be heard. We further suggest that in the events you promote the following actions items and immediately begin organizing support for the August 12th protest in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Chicago.

Let us collectively speak up, act up, and refuse to let international silence in the face of occupation and aggression contribute to the continued injustice of war and occupation!

TAKE ACTION NOW:

1. CONTACT ELECTED OFFICIALS: Call and write to your elected officials, and demand that they call upon the United States to immediately introduce a resolution before the U.N. Security Council demanding that Israel halt its illegal and brutal aggression against Palestine and Lebanon. Demand that your elected officials hold Israel accountable for its war crimes and crimes against humanity committed using weaponry and technology sold to Israel by the United States and funded by U.S. tax money. You can find out who your elected officials are at the following web link: http://www.congress.org/congressorg/home/ The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has also provided a direct link to sending a letter to elected officials:
http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=1215

2. TALKING POINTS: For ideas and talking points to help you in speaking out about Israel’s aggression, you may want to refer to (1) the NLG statement on Gaza, issued on July 6, 2006; (2) sample talking points from an on-line petition for Lebanon organized by various NLG members; and (3) other additional sources for talking points, all of which are included below.

3. ON-LINE PETITION: Sign on to the on-line petition, “Take Action to Stop the Crisis in Lebanon and Gaza (http://www.petitiononline.com/hurriyeh/petition.html) and forward widely for additional sign-ons.

4. JOIN WITH LOCAL SOLIDARITY GROUPS TO ORGANIZE ACTIONS: Join with Palestine, Lebanon, anti-war and anti-occupation solidarity groups in your area, and organize teach-ins, demonstrations, protests, and awareness-raising events. For actions and demonstrations in your area, please check out the following websites:

***National Council of Arab Americans (NCA) (www.arab-american.net)
***ANSWER Coalition (www.internationalanswer.org)
***Al-Awda – The Palestine Right to Return Coalition (www.al-awda.org)
***U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (www.endtheoccupation.org)

5. AUGUST 12 DEMONSTRATION FOR PALESTINE AND LEBANON: PLAN NOW to take part in the National Emergency March to Defend the People of Palestine and Lebanon on AUGUST 12, in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Organize contingents from your local area to attend the demonstration, and organize surrounding activities (teach-ins, flyering to publicize the protest, awareness-raising activities). For more information, check out the A.N.S.W.E.R. website at www.internationalanswer.org.

6. ARM YOURSELVES WITH INFORMATION: Don’t believe the hype! Mainstream media’s racist and one-sided portrayal of the occupation in Palestine and aggression in Lebanon reflects imperialist U.S. foreign policy and the politics of aggressors and occupiers. The situation is not as “complicated” as people make it out to be. It is, at its core, an issue of occupation and oppression. Read alternative informational sites about the history and current violence in Lebanon and Palestine. Challenge misinformation and disinformation where and when you see it. Write letters and editorials to media sources in support of good reporting and challenging erroneous or problematic reporting. Important web links include the following:

• ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism): http://www.internationalanswer.org
• Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights: http://www.mezan.org/site_en/resource_center/mezan_publications/detail.php?id=147
• Palestine Center for Human Rights: http://www.pchrgaza.org
• Al-Awda – The Palestine Right to Return Coalition:http://www.al-awda.org/
• Stop the Wall – Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Campaign: http://www.stopthewall.org/
• Addameer: Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association: http://www.addameer.org/index_eng.html
• Sumoud – Political Prisoner Solidarity Group: sumoud.tao.ca
• Defense for Children International – Palestine Section: http://www.dci-pal.org/
• The Electronic Intifada: http://electronicintifada.net/new.shtml
• Electronic Lebanon: http://www.electronicLebanon.net
• Palestine Remembered: http://www.palestineremembered.com/
• Palestine Land Society: http://www.plands.org/
• SHAML – Palestinian Diaspora and Refugee Centre: http://www.shaml.org/zshaml/site/
• BADIL – Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights: http://www.badil.org
• Labor for Palestine: http://www.laborforpalestine.org/
• National Lawyers Guild Middle-East Sub-Committee website: http://www.nlg.org/mideast/index.shtml (with information on NLG positions and links to NLG reports)

7. GET OTHERS INVOLVED: Forward this information widely and encourage your friends, colleagues, co-workers, family to GET INVOLVED.

In solidarity and towards the continued struggle,
The National Lawyers Guild

# # #

ATTACHMENTS FOLLOW

NLG STATEMENT ON GAZA (Issued July 6, 2006) (also available at www.nlg.org)

The National Lawyers Guild Strongly Condemns Israel's Crimes Against Humanity and Demands Israel Immediately Halt Its Siege on Gaza and End Its Efforts at Toppling the Democratically Elected Palestinian Legislative Council

The National Lawyers Guild calls upon the international community to join us in our strong condemnation and call for sanctions against Israel for its on-going occupation and crimes against humanity meted-out against the Palestinians. Israel has recently intensified its relentless saturation bombing against the Palestinian civilian population. On June 27, 2006, Israeli F-16's directly targeted Palestinian civilians by bombing and destroying three vital bridges, ministerial buildings, universities, scarce water supplies, and electricity stations. As a direct consequence, over two-thirds of the Palestinian population in Gaza have been and continue to be denied access to water and electricity.

Magnifying the deadly impact of Israel's actions is the fact that well before Israel's recent military incursion, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank were already facing a lethal humanitarian crisis stemming from extensive shortages of food, medicine, clean drinking water, and lack of access to public utilities— Israel's admitted "starvation diet" campaign.

A single snapshot of Israel's ruthless bombardment reveals Palestinians trapped in Gaza—the most densely populated region on Earth—suffered through one of the most ferocious days of bombing, on June 29, 2006, when Israel's Occupation Forces (IOF) launched over 400 artillery shells throughout the northern and southern Gaza Strip. Further intensifying Israel 's willful and ever-increasing violations of international law, Israel has drastically increased its kidnapping of Palestinian leaders, "arresting" more than 64 elected Palestinian Legislative Council members, city mayors, cabinet ministers, and lawmakers.

Currently, the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian disaster faced by Palestinians continues uninterrupted while Israeli tanks and armed forces have now returned to Gaza under the cover of sustained bombing raids by Israeli F-16 jets and relentless shelling by Israeli artillery.

Accordingly, the National Lawyers Guild:

1) Demands Israel immediately cease all military attacks and lift the economic embargo imposed on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

2) Demands Israel immediately and unconditionally releases the recently kidnapped Palestinian parliamentary officials as well as all Palestinian Arab political prisoners and detainees.

3) Urges the international community to pressure Israel, the United States, and Europe to lift the deadly economic embargo unjustly imposed against the Palestinian people following the democratic election of a new Palestinian Legislative Council.

4) Strongly condemns Israel's use of brutal psychological warfare on the over 1.4 million Palestinians living in the Israeli occupied Gaza Strip to weaken and destroy the democratically elected Palestinian Legislative Council.

5) Strongly condemns Israel's actions designed to achieve its threat that it "will not allow the Palestinian government to survive."

6) Calls upon the international community to join in our strong condemnation of Israel's belligerent crimes against humanity and gross violations of international law, including Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibiting collective punishment and Article 48 forbidding military actions against civilian populations and infrastructure.

7) Emphasizes the international community must continue to insist Israel immediately implement other international laws including U.N. Resolution 194.

8) Stresses while condemnation of Israel's most recent crimes against humanity is critical, the international community must weave together, and not isolate, the snapshots of Israel's gross violations of international law.

9) Further stresses the full-picture revealed by weaving together Israel's unbroken pattern of crimes against humanity plainly uncovers the following reality: for nearly six decades Israel has been engaged in well-planned, systematic, and continuous campaign intended to destroy the Palestinian people, culture, civil society and the infrastructure of life itself (see In the Name of Security: Israel and the Destruction of Palestinian Culture & Civil Society, Preliminary Report of The National Lawyers Guild's Emergency Delegation to the West Bank May 16-24, 2002)

10) Calls upon the international community to expose the myth that Israel has "disengaged" from Gaza despite Israel's continued control of Gaza's airspace, sea space, land borders, public services (including water, sewage, electricity, and telecommunication networks).

11) Calls upon the international community to send immediate aid to Palestinians, including food, water, and medicine.

12) Urges the international community to step-up its efforts to boycott, sanction, and divest from Israel.

SAMPLE LETTER/PETITION ON LEBANON:

This text is part of an online petition, available at: http://www.petitiononline.com/hurriyeh/petition.html

We strongly urge the U.S. Congress to call upon the United States to immediately introduce a resolution before the U.N. Security Council demanding that Israel halt its attacks on Palestine and Lebanon.

Israeli bombs and shells have killed more than 100 Lebanese civilians in the last few days and more than 89 Palestinians since June 25, 2006 while injuring hundreds more civilians in both countries;

Israel has bombed buses and cars carrying desperate civilians in Lebanon;

Israel has declared that “no place is safe” in Lebanon;

Israel has destroyed every road and bridge from the South to Beirut;

Israel has bombed the international highway between Damascus and Beirut as well as the airport and vital civilian infrastructure;

Israel has destroyed vital infrastructure including power plant, bridges and municipal
facilities in Gaza;

Israel has arrested and is detaining at least 65 elected Palestinian government officials;

Well before Israel's recent military incursion, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank were already facing a lethal humanitarian crisis stemming from extensive shortages of food, medicine, clean drinking water, and lack of access to public utilities—Israel's admitted "starvation diet" campaign;

These Israeli crimes constitute collective punishment against both the Lebanese and Palestinian
populations and are grave breaches of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention;

The U.S. veto of last week’s U.N. Security Council resolution to demand that Israel halt its attacks on Gaza encouraged and approved Israel’s continued assault on Gaza and paved the way for its deadly attacks on South Lebanon;

The U.S. and all High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention are obligated to respect and insure respect for the convention under all circumstances;

THUS, WE STRONGLY URGE THE U.S. CONGRESS TO CALL UPON THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES AS A HIGH CONTRACTING PARTY TO HONOR ITS OBLIGATION UNDER THE FOURTH GENEVA CONVENTION AND HUMANITARIAN LAW BY INTRODUCING A RESOLUTION BEFORE THE SECURITY COUNCIL DEMANDING THAT ISRAEL CEASE ITS ATTACKS ON LEBANON AND PALESTINE AND THAT ISRAEL BE SANCTIONED FOR ITS GRAVE BREACHES.

ADDITIONAL TALKING POINTS FROM OTHER SOURCES:
For examples of additional talking points, see the following links:
http://www.tni.org/archives/bennis/points43.htm
http://www.internationalanswer.org
http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=1215

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