The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

President Biden: Stop Israeli Government’s Attacks on Palestinian Civil Society

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write because your administration’s consistently tepid and yielding response to the Israeli government’s escalating attacks against prominent Palestinian human rights and civil society groups over the past 10 months has put the safety and well-being of Palestinian human rights defenders at serious risk. We demand immediate action in response to the Israeli government’s latest escalation so as to curtail any further imminent repressive tactics by Israeli authorities and ensure Palestinian civil society is free to continue its critical work.

Last week, in a significant escalation, Israeli military forces raided the offices of seven Palestinian human rights and community organizations in the occupied West Bank on 18 August 2022, sealing shut their doors, ordering them closed, and seizing computers and other confidential materials. In the following days, directors of the organizations were summoned by the Israeli military and Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) for interrogation. All staff are currently under threat of imminent arrest and prosecution. While many in the international community were swift to condemn the Israeli governments shameful political maneuver in October 2021 designating leading Palestinian human rights organizations as “terrorist” under Israel’s draconian Counter-Terrorism Law, your administration has refused to act or reject this clear attack on Palestinian civil society, and even took affirmative steps including canceling the valid U.S. visa held by the head of one of the targeted organizations. The response so far has only enabled and empowered the Israeli government to sustain and escalate its repression.

The targeted organizations form part of the bedrock of Palestinian civil society that has been protecting and advancing Palestinian human rights for decades across the full spectrum of issues of global concern, including children’s rights, prisoners’ rights, women’s rights, socio-economic rights, the rights of farmworkers, and justice and accountability for international crimes. They include: Defense for Children International – Palestine, Al Haq, Addameer, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Union of Agricultural Work Committees, and Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees. They are trusted partners in our collective work to secure human rights for all.

Since the Israeli government officially outlawed these civil society groups, international human rights groups, the United Nations, and governments that did investigate Israel’s claims – found them to be baseless. This includes 10 European governments that dismissed the allegations in mid-July 2022. In a deeply troubling report released this week, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency reportedly assessed information passed on by the Israeli government earlier this year finding none of the so-called evidence supported the Israeli government claims. Additionally, members of Congress have called on your administration to condemn and reject the Israeli government’s clear attack on Palestinian civil society.

As groups committed to social justice, civil rights, and universal human rights, we have seen first hand the ways that the charge of “terrorist” and the so-called “war on terror” threatens not only international human rights defenders, but also social movements and marginalized communities here in the U.S.: Indigenous, Black, brown, Muslim, and Arab activists and communities have similarly faced silencing, intimidation, criminalization and surveillance under such baseless charges. A threat against the Palestinian human rights movement is a threat against movements for social justice everywhere, and in order to protect human rights and human rights defenders, all states must be held accountable for taking such manifestly unjust actions.

While our government has long offered unconditional support to the Israeli government, our movements and organizations will always stand first and foremost with the rights and safety of people.

Therefore, we the undersigned organizations, call on you, in your authority as President to immediately:

  1. Condemn the Israeli government’s repressive tactics and escalating campaign of criminalization and intimidation against Palestinian civil society organizations and their staff and board;
  2. Reject the Israeli government’s unsubstantiated accusations levied against Palestinian civil society organizations and demand Israeli authorities rescind the designations;
  3. Take diplomatic action, in concert with European counterparts, that serves to protect the targeted Palestinian organizations, their staff and board, premises, and other assets;
  4. Refrain from imposing any obstacles or policies that would prevent direct engagement between the U.S. government and Palestinian civil society, or otherwise preclude full, comprehensive public understanding of the severity and impacts of Israeli repression;
  5. End U.S. efforts to undermine the right of Palestinians and Palestinian civil society organizations to pursue justice and accountability, including at the International Criminal Court;
  6. Ensure no actions are taken at the federal level that in any way encumbers funding from U.S.-based organizations or individuals to the targeted Palestinian organizations; and
  7. Suspend U.S. military funding to the Israeli government and cease any diplomatic efforts that enable systemic impunity for Israel’s gross violations of internationally-recognized human rights.

Sincerely (signer list in progress):
Center for Constitutional Rights
Action Center on Race & the Economy
Adalah Justice Project
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
Al-Marsad – Arab Human Rights Centre in Golan Heights Heights
American Friends Service Committee
American Muslim Bar Association
American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Americans for Justice in Palestine Action
Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)
Asamblea Permanente de Derechos Humanos de Bolivia (APDHB)
Asociación pro derechos humanos de España
Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos-APRODEH
Association tunisienne des femmes démocrates
Black Lives Matter Grassroots
Butler University Students for Justice in Palestine
Catalyst Project
Comision de Derechos Humanos de El Salvador
Charity & Security Network
Civil Liberties Defense Center
Civil Society Institute – Armenia
Colectivo de Abogados JAR
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Culture and Conflict Forum
Delawareans for Palestinian Human Rights (DelPHR)
Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)
DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights
Don’t Shoot Portland
Ecumenical Peace Institute/Clergy and Laity Concerned
Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine Israel Network
Equality Labs
Eyewitness Palestine
Forum Tunisien pour les Droits Economiques et Sociaux
Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)
Fundación Regional de Asesoría en Derechos Humanos
Grassroots International
Highlander Research & Education Center
Housing and Land Rights Network – Habitat International Coalition
HRM “Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan”
ICNA Council for Social Justice
Indiana Center for Middle East Peace
Instituto Latinoamericano para una Sociedad y un Derecho Alternativos ILSA
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Internationale Liga für Menschenrechte
Islamophobia Studies CenterJahalin Solidarity
Jewish Voice for Peace Action (JVP Action)
Jewish Voice for Peace Central Ohio
Jewish Voice for Peace New Haven
Jewish Voice for Peace Los Angeles
Jewish Voice for Peace Tacoma chapter
Justiça Global, Brasil
LDH (Ligue des droits de l’Homme – France)
Liga Argentina por los derechos humanos
Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land
Madison-Rafah Sister City Project
Manushya Foundation
Movement for Black Lives
Movement Law Lab
Movimento Nacional de Direitos Humanos – MNDH Brasil
New Hampshire Palestine Education Network
Palestine Teaching Trunk
Peace Action
Programa Venezolano de Educación-Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea)
Project South
Queer Crescent
Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO)
Rethinking Foreign Policy
Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression SCM
Texas Arab American Democrats (TAAD)
The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church USA
The Jus Semper Global Alliance
The Palestinian Human Rights Organization “PHRO”
Union of Agricultural Work Communities
United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR)
Veterans For Peace Linus Pauling Chapter 132
Visualizing Palestine
Working Families Party
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the
  Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

Deadline for Signatures: Friday, August 26, 2022





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