Jewish Anti-Occupation Group Lobbies U.S.

World War 4 Report

Jews for Peace and in Palestine and Israel (JPPI), a 1,200 member-strong organization that opposes the Israeli occupation of Palestine, is trying to get the US to enforce the Arms Export Control Act. Josh Ruebner, one of the group’s co-founders, says, “We’re gearing up for a difficult session in Congress. The big issue is how Congress is going to respond to Israel’s request of $14 billion in economic and military aid.”

JPPI’s position is clear: “As long as Israel is getting military assistance from the US, it should abide by the US Arms Export Control Act, which prohibitsÉUS weapons being used against civilians. Nationally, and internationally, the targeting of innocent civilians is considered a war crime.” Ruebner admits JPPI is less radical than some anti-occupation groups who want to end all military aid. “We don’t think that’s realistic in the current political system. We believe it’s more realistic to hold Israel accountable to existing US laws.”

JPPI took a group of congressional staffers to the West Bank last summer to see conditions for themselves. “We found ourselves thrust into an international diplomatic controversy, when Israel refused to allow the delegation into the West Bank. I explained to the police and border officials, in Hebrew, that this was an official American government delegation, but when an Israeli policeman came over to us and threatened us, we decided to leave for our own safety.”

Ruebner said the staffers “were astounded,” as “nobody had ever heard of anything like this happening to a congressional delegation before.” He said what made it especially ironic was a week before Saddam Hussein had urged members of Congress to come to Iraq. “Israel was being less transparent and open than Iraq.”

“As a Jew, I take seriously our religious obligation to work for justice, and I cannot be silent about the oppression that my brothers and sisters in Israel are guilty of,” Ruebner says. But it has come at a price. Ruebner says former friends refuse to speak to him. “And there is the ridiculous hate mail and occasional death threats, but all that is just a signal to me that we are on the right track.” (Palestine Chronicle, Dec. 18) (David Bloom)

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