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by LouAnn Villani-Heller, Middle East Crisis Committee
A number of groups got together in February and called for an economic, cultural and entertainment boycott of Saudi Arabia. The groups are horrified by the Saudi regime war on Yemen, its murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and its imprisonment of feminists and others.
There are legislative efforts to force the Trump administration to stop its participation in the Saudi war on Yemen. A bill passed the House this year that invokes the War Powers Act to end U.S. involvement, but its future in the Senate is uncertain. The Senate Republican majority has increased after the election, and the new chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee appears to be a supporter of the Trump line. Even if it passes the Senate, Trump can veto the legislation so the whole effort may just “send a message” while the calamity in Yemen continues.
Popular efforts must be made. One possibility is to use the BDS tactics being used against Israeli apartheid. CODE-PINK has already campaigned to get Black Eyed Peas and Mariah Carey to cancel their appearances in Saudi Arabia. It’s appealing to VICE media to end its production of publicity videos for the monarchy. Campaigns to get MIT to break ties with Saudi Arabia and (our own) efforts to get the University of New Haven to end its work for the Saudi police college are other examples. More about this on SaudiUS.org.
On another issue, MECC is continuing to support the courageous stand of Texas teacher Bahia Amawi in refusing to sign a pledge that she would not boycott Israeli goods. Texas passed an outrageous unconstitutional law requiring that promise in 2017. Amawi was fired for her actions. At present, she is suing and is being supported by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. It appears that no trade unions are supporting her or even noticing what’s happening. MECC is gathering signers of a letter calling on unions to rally to support Amawi.
by Stanley Heller, Exec. Director, Middle East Crisis Committee
On the one hand it’s staggering. The U.S. Senate unani-mously voted to declare the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia the person responsible for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Just this spring the Crown Prince was on a victory tour of the U.S. being wined and dined from every-body from Bloomberg to Oprah to “The Rock.” On the other hand, we don’t know if anyone involved in the murder has been punished. The Saudi Arabian prosecutor claims to have arrested 20 people, but he has not released the names, nor has the prosecutor said a word about what happened to Khashoggi’s remains. You would think with 20 people in custody, with some supposedly pleading guilty, the Saudi police would know where the remains are located. But the prosecutor has said nothing. It may be part of Khashoggi’s punishment! Over 30 Saudi families who have lost a son to an execution or police killing have been told the body is being withheld. MECC has a petition on our site thestruggle.org calling for the bodies of all the executed to be returned to their families.
The Middle East Crisis Committee and Promoting Enduring Peace are also trying to get the West Haven City Council to speak out and call for the University of New Haven (housed in West Haven) to break its ties to the Saudi police/military college. As far as we can tell it’s the only college that directly helps the Saudi “security.” We’ve sent a model resolution to the Council and are working to get them to pass it. To help out with this contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (203) 934-2761.
We’re also working on the crisis in Al Rukban. It’s a remote part of Syria near Jordan and Iraq where tens of thousands of refugees are living in a desert. They’ve run from Assad and ISIS. Neither Jordan nor Iraq will let them in. So Al Rukban is under siege and the people are really in a bad way. The pathetic thing is they’re just a couple of miles away from a U.S. base in Syria and the U.S. won’t help them. #US-Help2Rukban, contact email@example.com to spread the word.
The Middle East Crisis Committee (MECC) is in its 35th year. MECC invites you to “Struggle, Resistance and Resili-ence in Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” a fund-raising party on Saturday, March 3 at 6 p.m. at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of New Haven, 608 Whitney Ave. Learn about Mazin Qumsiyeh’s efforts in building the Palestinian Natural History Museum in Bethlehem. There will be food, music, and video; auctions and door prizes are planned. $25 suggested donation.
For the past dozen years or so our biggest efforts have involved media. We have a weekly TV show on over 30 cable stations stretching from Maine to New York City. One focus of late on TheStruggle.org is Saudi Arabia (KSA) and its war against Yemen. Another focus is of efforts around the world to remember Syria. It’s called “2nd Day of Rage for Syria.” MECC stands for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and in support of Syrian civil society demands for ceasefire and honest elections.
The Middle East Crisis Committee (MECC) invites you to “Struggle, Resistance and Resilience in Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” a fund-raising party on Saturday, March 3 at 6 p.m. at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of New Haven, 608 Whitney Ave., New Haven.
Learn about Mazin Qumsiyeh’s efforts in building the Palestinian Natural History Museum in Bethlehem. There will be food, music, and video; auctions and door prizes are planned. $25 suggested donation.
MECC is in its 35th year. For the past dozen years or so our biggest efforts have involved media. We have a weekly TV show on over 30 cable stations stretching from Maine to New York City. One focus of late is Saudi Arabia (KSA) and its war against Yemen, which has been completely supported by the Obama and Trump administrations. This past year saw an attempt to use the War Powers Act to completely cut off U.S. participation in the war via House Concurrent Resolution 81. However, it was sidestepped by leaders in Congress including powerful Democratic Party Whip Steny Hoyer. We did an interview with Malachy Kilbride who with six others were arrested inside Hoyer’s office demanding in vain a meeting with Hoyer or his staff. You can see the interview by going to TheStruggle.org and clicking on the black button for our YouTube channel “struggle-videomedia.” (Incidentally, while CT Sen. Chris Murphy is admirable on the Yemen issue, Sen. Richard Blumenthal has never spoken out against the atrocious war.) “Atrocious” is no exaggeration. Reuters had a video clip of destitute people in a Yemen garbage dump, eating and drinking in the garbage amid swarming insects.
Another video of note on TheStruggle.org is of efforts around the world to remember Syria. It’s called “2nd Day of Rage for Syria.” People mistakenly think the war is over. Hundreds of thousands are under Assad siege in Idlib and Eastern Ghouta. After its brutal obliteration of Raqaa, the U.S. is using a Kurdish force to establish a permanent presence in the northeast and Turkey has a chunk of the country in the north. MECC stands for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and in support of Syrian civil society demands for a ceasefire and honest elections.
Despite near-freezing weather, 50 to 100 people rallied in McLevy Square in downtown Bridgeport Dec. 17, 2017, to stand with Palestinians who have denounced Trump’s public announcement that he’ll move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
The rally was organized by CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) and the Bridgeport Islamic Community Center. Jerusalem was seized by Israeli forces in 1967, but no country in the world has its embassy there. One reason is that almost 40 percent of the city’s inhabitants do not have Israeli citizenship since they are Palestinians who have only been given residency status. Israeli soldiers have killed a number of people in the protests including a legless man named Ibrahim Abu Thuraya who was in his wheelchair behind the wall between Gaza and the rest of Palestine.
Sign Petition: New York Times: Suspend Thomas Friedman
Yale may have had New York Times columnist impart his “wisdom” to students in December, but the Coalition to End the U.S.-Saudi Alliance wants the NYT to suspend him. Friedman wrote a long piece of flattery about the Crown Prince (and effective ruler) of Saudi Arabia, claiming he was bringing an “Arab Spring” to the country his family owns. Abandoning journalistic and moral criteria, Friedman ignored the Saudi war on Yemen that has been so horrific. To sign the petition go online at http://www.SaudiUS.org.
MECC to Hold Fundraising Party
In February, the Middle East Crisis Committee (35 years old in 2017) will hold a fundraising party to keep its projects going in the new year. MECC produces “The Struggle” which is shown weekly on over 30 TV stations in the northeast and in South Bend, IN.
There will be food and music and auctions of items like autographed books by Wendy Pearlman and Timothy Snyder, and the graphic novel Palestine by Joe Sacco. Date and location of the event has not been determined, probably in the afternoon in New Haven.
Ofra Yeshua-Lyth is a veteran journalist and author. She was a correspondent for Israel’s second largest news-paper Maariv in Germany and in the US. She’s a member of the Committee for One Secular Democratic State in Palestine-Israel. Her book The Case for a Secular New Jeruslaem is subtitled: “A Memoir.” Her grandmothers came to Palestine in the early days of Zionist settlement and her book is rich in personal stories.