Unilever: Stop doing business in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

And stop your betrayal of Ben & Jerry’s

SumOfUs, Sep 29, 2022

It’s a bloody time in Palestine right now. At least 85 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank by Israeli forces carrying out nightly raids making it the deadliest year in the occupied territory since 2016.

There is also bad news in the fight to get corporations to stop supporting Israel’s apartheid regime. A year after SumOfUs members like you help pushed Ben & Jerry’s to make a decision to stop selling ice cream in the Palestinian Occupied Territory, Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s parent company, has made a backroom deal to reverse this heroic decision. 

SumOfUs had been in contact with Ben & Jerry’s after tens of thousands SumOfUs members like you called on the corporation to take a stand against 70 years of ongoing apartheid, colonization, and daily violation of the human rights of Palestinian by Israeli forces. We know our community made a huge difference in getting Ben & Jerry’s historic announcement — multiple sources within the company said your voices had an impact on this announcement finally being made.

And now, we need you to finish the job and call on Unilever to support Ben & Jerry’s heroic decision and stand with Palestine. 

Call on Unilever to stop its betrayal of Ben & Jerry’s and stop profiting from illegal settlements.

When Ben & Jerry’s made its historic announcement, we knew right-wing Israeli nationalists would use everything in their power to stop the company from leaving Israel. And they did – the day after the announcement, the Prime Minister of Israel said Ben & Jerry’s decision will have “severe consequences”. His government then sent a classified cable to its missions and embassies calling on its envoys to ramp up pressure to make sure Ben & Jerry’s decision didn’t stick. 

And after a year of sustained pressure, Unilever has made a deal with another company that promises to continue selling products with Ben & Jerry’s name and breaking the contract signed with Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield when it bought the company from the founders in 2000. 

This Ben & Jerry’s fight with Unilever may seem like a corporate fight over ice cream – but it’s about more than just dessert. If more companies can join French telecom giant Orange in leaving the Occupied Palestinian Territory, it can kick start a corporate movement to exit apartheid Israel much like the corporate movement that forced a regime change in apartheid South Africa in the 1990s. 

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Israeli Apartheid: A Breakdown

Israel applies an oppressive, separate, and unequal regime on Palestinians. There is only one word for this: Apartheid.

Omar Baddar, Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU), Oct 14, 2020

Omar Baddar is Director of Communications for the Institute for Middle East Understanding, and past Deputy Director of the Arab American Institute.

Israel rejects U.S. call for review of IDF rules of engagement in West Bank

Secretary of State Tony Blinken asked Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz for the review after the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Israeli soldiers in Hebron on Aug. 19. Photo: Hazem Bader/AFP via Getty Images

Barak Ravid, Axios, Sep 7, 2022

Israel on Wednesday rejected the U.S. call for it to review the Israel Defense Forces' rules of engagement in the West Bank as part of accountability steps for the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Driving the news: State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said on Tuesday that the Biden administration will continue to press Israel “to closely review its policies and practices on rules of engagement” of the IDF in the occupied West Bank.

  • He said this is needed in order “to mitigate the risk of civilian harm, protect journalists and prevent similar tragedies."

Between the lines: U.S. pressure for Israel to review the guidelines, which define the circumstances under which Israeli soldiers can use live fire in the West Bank, is unusual. Patel's comments were the first time the Biden administration raised this issue in public after discussing it in private in recent weeks.

  • After meeting with Abu Akleh's family in late July, Secretary of State Tony Blinken called Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and asked for a review of the IDF rules of engagement in the West Bank, saying it would be a step toward accountability in the Abu Akleh case.
  • Blinken told Gantz he thinks that either the rules of engagement weren't followed or they need to be reviewed if an Israeli soldier shot Abu Akleh while she wore a bulletproof vest that was marked "press."

State of play: Patel's comments on Tuesday came a day after Israel published the final conclusions of its investigation into the death of Abu Akleh, who was killed while covering an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

  • The investigation determined Abu Akleh was most likely killed by "unintentional fire" from an Israeli soldier who did not realize she was a journalist, a senior IDF official told reporters.
  • The senior IDF official said that the investigation found there was no violation of the rules of engagement and no problem in the briefing the soldiers received before the Jenin raid.

What they're saying: Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid expressed "sorrow" over Abu Akleh's death on Wednesday but said "no one will dictate our rules of engagement to us, when we are the ones fighting for our lives."

  • Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that the "IDF’s chief of the general staff, and he alone, determines, and will continue to determine the rules of engagement in accordance with our operational needs and values of the IDF."

  • "These instructions are implemented in a strict manner by soldiers and their commanders. There has not been, and there will not be any political involvement in the matter," Gantz said.

Another senior Israeli official told Axios that "the rules of engagement were reviewed as part of the IDF investigation and it was found that there were no violations. Nobody is going to change the rules of engagement because of U.S. political pressure."

  • Israeli officials believe the U.S. call for reviewing the rules of engagement is an attempt to respond to pressure by U.S. progressives who have demanded an independent U.S. investigation — something the Biden administration can’t and doesn’t want to do, the Israeli official said. The State Department did not respond to a request for comment.
  • "The Biden administration is not really pressing us because they understand we are not going to change the rules of engagement," the official added. "We told them our position before and after their public statement on this issue."

Israeli army: ‘High probability’ soldier killed reporter

Yellow tape marks bullet holes on a tree and a portrait and flowers create a makeshift memorial at the site where Palestinian-American Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed in the West Bank city of Jenin, May 19, 2022. The Israeli military acknowledged for the first time today that one of its soldiers likely killed Shireen Abu Akleh, saying its own investigation shows she was shot by mistake and that no one will face punishment. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

JOSEF FEDERMAN, Associated Press, September 5, 2022

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military on Monday announced the long-awaited results of its investigation into the deadly shooting of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, saying there was a “high probability” an Israeli soldier had mistakenly killed her during a raid in the occupied West Bank last May.

It was the closest that Israel has come to accepting responsibility for the shooting. But in a report that seemed to raise as many questions as it sought to answer, the military revealed no new evidence to back its claim that the Palestinian-American journalist might have been killed by Palestinian gunmen during a battle with Israel troops and Palestinian gunmen. It also said that no one would be punished for the shooting.

The conclusions were unlikely to put to rest an issue that has worsened what already were badly strained relations between Israel and the Palestinians. Both Palestinian officials and Abu Akleh’s family accused the army of evading responsibility for her killing.

“Our family is not surprised by this outcome since it’s obvious to anyone that Israeli war criminals cannot investigate their own crimes. However, we remain deeply hurt, frustrated and disappointed,” her family said in a statement.

Abu Akleh, a 51-year-old Palestinian-American, was killed while covering an Israeli raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank on May 11. She had covered the West Bank for Al Jazeera for two decades and was a well-known face across the Arab world.

In a briefing with reporters, a senior Israeli military official said there was a “very high likelihood” that Abu Akleh was mistakenly shot by an Israeli soldier positioned inside an armored vehicle who thought he was aiming at a militant.

“He misidentified her,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity under military briefing guidelines. “His reports in real time… absolutely point to a misidentification.”

“We know that he fired, but it could very well be that this happened from other fire,” he added.

Jenin is known as a bastion of Palestinian militants, and Israel has carried out raids there almost nightly since a string of deadly attacks inside Israel earlier this year, some of which were carried out by assailants from the area.

Repeating previous Israeli claims, the military official said the soldiers had been under continuous fire for almost an hour from multiple directions before Abu Akleh was shot. The army released several videos showing Palestinian militants firing automatic weapons and soldiers coming under fire that day.

But the military provided no evidence to support its claim that a fierce gunbattle was under way at the time that Abu Akleh was shot. Amateur videos as well as witness accounts have shown no evidence of militants in the vicinity and the area appeared to be quiet for several minutes before she was shot.

It also was unclear how Abu Akleh, who was wearing a helmet and vest marked “press” at the time, could be mistaken for a militant. The official only said that the soldier’s vision from inside the vehicle was “very limited,” causing Abu Akleh to be misidentified in a split-second decision.

He said the findings of the investigation had been turned over to the chief military prosecutor, who was satisfied with them and decided against a criminal investigation. That means no one will be charged in her death.

Critics have long accused the military of doing a poor job of investigating wrongdoing by its troops. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem accused the army of carrying out a “whitewash,” while Abu Akleh’s family and the Palestinian Authority both called for the case to be turned over to the International Criminal Court in the Hague. The ICC has opened an investigation into possible war crimes by Israel in both Gaza and the West Bank.

Nabil Abu Rdeneh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, dismissed the announcement as “another Israeli attempt to evade responsibility for her killing.”

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Lina Abu Akleh at Rebuilding Alliance Benefit on Sep. 10th

Please join us — in person or online — for a special evening. I am honored to tell you that
Lina Abu Akleh, niece of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, will be the Keynote speaker at Palestine: Hope and Resilience.

  • Joining her in person are Cindy and Craig Corrie, the parents of Rachel Corrie, who will present the posthumous Parrhesia Award to the family of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh
  • Shireen’s cousins, who live in the San Francisco Bay Area, will also be attending

Please register now to hear Lina Abu Akleh share her memories of Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh as together, we hold on to hope and resilience for the long road ahead.

    Saturday, Sep. 10th, 2022
    Gala Dinner at 5 PM PT, LiveStream program at 6:45 PM PT / 9:45 PM ET

Lina Abu Akleh is Palestinian-Armenian, born and raised in Jerusalem. Inspired by her aunt and mentor, Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, Lina completed her BA in Political Studies from the American University of Beirut and recieved her Masters in International Studies from the University of San Francisco where she chose a concentration in human rights, governance, and global justice.

After Shireen Abu Akleh reported on the struggle to access water around the West Bank’s Jordan Valley, she said, “Lina, not a lot of people talk about this.”  Consequently, Lina chose as her Master’s thesis, The Slow Creep of Settler Colonialism: Exploring Water Control in Palestine, which focused on the northern West Bank Village of Bardala whose water pumping station was locked by the Israeli Army. Just meters away, settlers installed their own exclusive pumping station.

Little did I know that I will be using my degrees, my experience, and my expertise to advocate for justice and accountability for Shireen.”
— Lina Abu Akleh, as quoted in Time Magazine 7/15/22

Rebuilding Alliance asks your help to provide direct aid to Palestinian families in rural Area C of the West Bank, in Gaza, and in East Jerusalem — and for essential Contact Congress advocacy for Palestinian equal rights to restore safety to families and to keep schools, homes, and olive trees standing.  Please help us continue to make a difference for Palestinian families in need.

About the Palestine: Hope & Resilience benefit — so far, 92 people have registered and donated $20,316.

For the event dinner, we chose the Green Hills Country Club, a spacious and lovely venue nestled in the hills of Millbrae with great ventilation. If you would like to join us for dinner, please R.S.V.P. now.  The chefs need to know no later than Wednesday.

See you next week, Saturday!


Donna Baranski-Walker
Founder and Executive Director, Rebuilding Alliance

Here are way that you can make a tax-deductible donation:

  • Donate online with a gift of any amount by clicking ‘Register / Donate
  • If you wish to pledge and pay by check, click Register / Donate and select “Mail a Check” as your payment method. Make your check out to ‘Rebuilding Alliance’ and mail it to our office:
    Rebuilding Alliance, 50 Woodside Plaza Ste. 627, Redwood City CA 94061
  • Would you like to donate stock? Email us at Contact@RebuildingAlliance.org

Rebuilding Alliance

50 Woodside Plaza, Ste 627
Redwood City, CA 94061

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Watch now: United for Justice Across Palestine

United for Justice Across Palestine:
Defund Israel’s Bombs, Blockade, and Bulldozers

Featuring Walaa Sabah from We Are Not Numbers, Sahar Francis from Addameer, and Palestinian journalist Mariam Barghouti. Moderated by Palestinian scholar Nour Joudah.

“At a bare minimum, reclaim your tax dollars in the U.S. You
have a homelessness epidemic going on; invest in housing.”

—Mariam Barghouti, Palestinian journalist

Watch on Instagram

100 Days and Counting: Justice for Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

Rep. Carson Announces Justice For Shireen Act
Jul 28, 2022

Washington, D.C. – Congressman André Carson (IN-07), spoke today at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol announcing his Justice For Shireen Act, where he was joined by the family members of slain American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh. Congressman Carson made the following statement:

“I want to start by giving my condolences to the Abu Akleh family. I continue to mourn the loss of this great journalist and fellow American, who was killed while on assignment. I believe this was also an attack on the free press, which is vitally important to our society. We need answers to hold the perpetrators fully accountable.

From day one, Israel has denied responsibility for Shireen’s murder. Israel has shown a lack of reverence for her life, and disrespect towards her home country, the US, as well as journalists across the world who risk their lives to bring us the news. This makes it imperative for our government to conduct our own investigating

Shireen needs justice. Every American killed abroad is entitled to our protection. Every human killed, American or not, deserves justice. We all want answers. We need to ensure these answers are accurate, that they are transparent, and that they are timely.

It has been two months since Shireen’s death and we have yet to hold the perpetuators accountable. The State Department released statements of the summation of the Israeli and Palestinian Authority investigations, but this is not enough, nor is it what our request has been from the beginning.

To get justice and accountability, the first step is a US led investigation that is transparent, open and timely. Since Shireen’s death, I led a letter calling for this investigation alongside 57 other Members of Congress. This is also an urgent issue in the Senate, where 24 Senators also requested a US investigation. We still await a substantive response to these requests.

I recently introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which mirrored language that previously passed the House and Senate requiring a report investigating Jamal Khashoggi’s killing. Unfortunately, our amendment for Shireen wasn’t made in order by the House Rules Committee.

But we can’t stop there. That’s why I am introducing the Justice for Shireen Act. This stand-alone bill requires a report on Shireen’s death by the Department of State and FBI, in consultation with the Department of Defense and National Director of Intelligence. This is a bare minimum of what she deserves – the truth. We need an unbiased, open and transparent investigation, so we can hold those responsible accountable.

I urge my colleagues to see this as a free press issue. To put aside Israel and Palestine politics and see this for what it is: an attack on independent reporting and the killing of our citizen. I urge my colleagues to join me as original cosponsors of this important legislation as we work with the family and advocates around the country to build up strong support for the Justice for Shireen Act.

Because attacks on journalist are increasing, I am also working to introduce another bill this Congress, the Justice for Journalists Act, to require relevant agencies to report on the death of all American Journalists killed in the line of duty. This fight for answers is unacceptable. Everyone deserves Justice, including Shireen.

I want to close by reiterating my thanks and appreciation to the Abu Akleh family for being here with us today and making sure no other family has to experience the tragedy they’ve endured.”

No one from the Wisconsin Congressional delegation is listed yet as a supporter, although both Rep. Pocan and Rep. Moore signed the original letter to the State Department and FBI asking for an independent US investigation.

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Palestinian Rights Organizations Raided & Shut Down

American Friends Service Committee, August 18, 2022

Stand with Palestinian human rights defenders

Early this morning, Israeli soldiers raided the offices of Palestinian human rights and civil society groups in Ramallah — shutting them down. The targeted organizations are Defense for Children International – Palestine, Al-Haq, Addameer, Bisan, the Union of Agricultural Working Committees, and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.

AFSC stands with human rights defenders and Palestinian civil society in condemning these attacks. Contact Congress today and urge your representative to stand in solidarity with Palestinian rights organizations!

These six groups are among the most respected Palestinian human rights organizations in the world. They work closely with the United Nations, international nongovernmental organization partners, and activist communities. They also advocate to and work with European and U.S. government officials. And they provide services to Palestinians whose human rights have been violated. AFSC partners with Defense for Children International – Palestine on the No Way to Treat a Child campaign, which has led to the first congressional bill on Palestinian children’s human rights in the U.S.

Today’s events are an outrageous attempt to silence organizations that have exposed the Israeli government’s human rights abuses. They follow decades of repression of human rights activism, including detentions and raids on offices. And the U.S. must speak out now.

Take action: Urge Congress to demand the protection of Palestinian civil society and human rights defenders!

Thank you for speaking out and for supporting our ongoing advocacy for Palestinian rights.

In peace,

Jennifer Bing
Palestine Activism Program Director