The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Joint Statement On Biden-Bennett Meeting

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), August 26, 2021

Ahead of President Joe Biden’s first in-person meeting today with newly-elected Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, ADC, along with the undersigned organizations, insists President Biden center core Palestinian calls for justice and demand that the Israeli government ends its ongoing and systemic violations of Palestinian rights, including ending the blockade of Gaza and immediately halting ongoing ethnic cleansing and forced expulsions of hundreds of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan, Jerusalem.

Palestinians have suffered under, and resisted, Israeli ethnic cleansing, military occupation, and crimes of apartheid since the creation of the state of Israel. The U.S. has enabled those policies by sending billions of dollars in unconditional military funding and by regularly shielding Israel from accountability in the international arena. If President Biden truly wants to center justice and human rights in U.S. foreign policy, he must finally condemn and take action to end U.S. diplomatic support and military funding for the Israeli government’s ongoing and systemic violations of Palestinian human rights. These include restrictions on freedom of movement; extrajudicial killings; demolitions of homes; ill-treatment and torture of children in military court systems; illegal annexation of land; theft of water and other natural resources; the suffocating blockade of Gaza and deadly and repeated military assaults on Palestinians there; the denial of the right of refugees to return to their homes; and more.

It is painfully clear that without pressure and demands for accountability from the U.S.—including cutting military funding to the Israeli government and sanctions—the Israeli government will continue to violate Palestinian rights. Our tax dollars should be invested in life affirming policies like housing and healthcare, not harm to communities around the globe.

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) Legislative and Policy Coordinator Chris Habiby said,“President Biden has an opportunity with this meeting to shift his administration’s complicity in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people by instead advocating in support of the human rights of Palestinians. He must rise to meet this moment and demonstrate that the US will not stand idly by while Israel routinely kills Palestinians, while they routinely throw Palestinians out of their homes, and while they routinely deny Palestinians access to clean water and medical care – an issue that is of particular importance during a global pandemic.”

Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC) Executive Director Lara Kiswani said, “Biden owes his presidency to the millions of people who rose up to resist racist authoritarianism. He now has an obligation to stand with mass movements demanding change by taking decisive action for the sovereignty of Palestinian people to raise his voice against apartheid, supporting a moratorium on military funding to Israel, demanding an end to the siege on Gaza, and calling for an immediate end to ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem.”

US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) Executive Director Ahmad Abuznaid said, “President Biden is complicit in fueling Israeli violence against the Palestinian people – including the Israeli massacre of Palestinians in Gaza this spring, after which his administration pushed to approve additional weapons sales to Israel. Every Israeli government has advanced Israel’s colonialism and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. The Biden administration has the chance to end our complicity in ongoing Israeli violence once and for all.”

Americans for Justice in Palestine Actions (AJP Action) Advocacy Director Ayah Ziyadeh said, “As Palestinians battle state-sanctioned violence, dispossession, suppression, blockades, torture and unlawful arrests, the administration refuses to condition aid to Israel. Despite the fact that Biden made a promise to center human rights in the administration’s foreign policy, the administration has done nothing to act on this promise. Meeting with Prime Minister Bennett, who has carried on Israel’s systemically oppressive and colonial policies, does not align with the United States moral obligations to uphold human rights. As long as Palestinian rights are violated, we will remain steadfast in our resistance.”

Adalah Justice Project Executive Director Sandra Tamari said, “Joe Biden is meeting Israeli PM Naftali Bennett today. Our demand of the meeting is simple: the US government should not be funding land theft and apartheid. Successive US administrations have supported Israel’s expansionist project with unconditional financial and diplomatic support. Thus far, Biden has gone out of his way to make it clear he is no different. The time is now to divest from our support of Israeli crimes and instead to invest in systems that support dignity and life.”

IfNotNow Movement Communications Director Yonah Lieberman said, “President Biden has repeatedly committed to putting human rights at the center of American foreign policy. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Bennett is not shy about his long-standing views supporting Israel’s apartheid system and opposing Palestinian human rights. We urge Biden to go into tomorrow’s meeting with Bennett ready to apply this commitment consistently, rather than holding Israel to a lower standard than the rest of the world.
American Jews want Biden to put human rights at the center of his meeting with Bennett. The time has come for Biden to take steps to hold the Israeli government accountable and finally listen to the majority of Democrats and American Jews who want the US to stop funding the atrocities of Israeli occupation, including settlements, home demolitions, and child detention.”

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) Executive Director Lakshmi Sridaran said, “Despite the brazen state violence that Israel continues to unleash on the Palestinian people, aided by U.S. weapons sales, it is shameful that this administration has already declared the first meeting between President Biden and newly elected Prime Minister Bennett an opportunity to ‘underscore the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.’ Instead, President Biden must focus this meeting on ending Israeli apartheid in Palestine by terminating all U.S. military funding to Israel and patent political support for its occupation. There can be no possibility for peace until Israel is held accountable for its ongoing violent displacement and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. As a South Asian American organization opposing the occupation of Kashmir, we share the concerns of progressive South Asians around the world who understand the growing connections between the Hindu right, Zionism, and white supremacy.”

Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ) Anti-Militarism National Organizer Ramon Mejía said, “The United States’ unwavering diplomatic support and military funding of Israel’s brutal occupation enables daily acts of abuse and violence against the Palestinian people and their land, in clear violation of human rights, with no accountability. Since 1985, the U.S. has provided nearly $149 billion to Israel, leading to state-sanctioned killings and massive displacement. It’s time to stop funding this occupation and support the self-determination of the Palestinian people!”

Jewish Voice for Peace Action (JVP Action) Senior Government Affairs Manager Beth Miller said, “If President Biden truly wants to center human rights in U.S. foreign policy, he should not be making-nice with Prime Minister Bennett, the head of a violent apartheid government. The overwhelming and growing majority of Democrats do not want our tax dollars funding Israel’s ongoing and systematic human rights abuses against Palestinians. It’s time for Biden to finally end U.S. complicity and support for Israeli apartheid.”

Supporting Organizations:
Adalah Justice Project
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
Americans for Justice in Palestine (AJP Action)
Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)
Eyewitness Palestine
IfNotNow Movement
Jewish Voice for Peace Action (JVP Action)
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR)
Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace (PCAP)
Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church, USA; John Anderson and Pauline Coffman, Co-Moderators
Michael Spath, Indiana Center for Middle East Peace
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ)
Coalition of Palestinian American Organizations (CAPO)