Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and leading progressives back the grassroots demand to defund Israeli apartheid



WASHINGTON, DC, July 1st, 2020—

In the face of Israeli threats to steal more Palestinian land and further cement apartheid policies through formal annexation, the grassroots movement for justice for the Palestinian people is gaining steam. Just yesterday–though years in the making–we saw a historic advancement for the struggle to transform U.S. policy from oppression towards justice for the Palestinian people.

Progressive members of Congress, led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez alongside leading progressives Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Pramila Jayapal, Betty McCollum, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, joined by 8 other members of Congress, released a Dear Colleague letter that commits to defund ‘annexation’ policies that deepen Israel’s separate-and-unequal apartheid system and to reduce military funding to Israel.

In a welcome and necesssary corrective to the policy discourse, the Dear Colleague letter acknowledges that de facto annexation – settlements, occupation and violence against the Palestinian people at the hands of the Israeli government – does not begin today, and has been ongoing, while moving towards genuine accountability for Israel’s continued violations of Palestinian rights and international law.

Today’s planned annexation–formal or informal–is a continuation of the lived realities on the ground. Israel was founded on the annexation of Palestinian land. Officially annexed or not, millions of Palestinians will continue to suffer under racist, undemocratic Israeli apartheid rule that steals their land and destroys their homes to make way for illegal Jewish settlements, imprisons them in a web of military checkpoints, preventing them from freely accessing education, medical treatment, or visiting family and friends.

It is time to move past the so-called two state solution. Continuing to push for a two-state solution while Israel continues to steal more Palestinian land on U.S. taxpayers’ dime only perpetuates the unjust status quo. No one can reasonably pretend that Israel is interested in anything but an apartheid regime over all of land it currently controls. U.S. policy on Palestine/Israel—and any proposal for a just peace—must center the values of justice and freedom for all.

It’s long past time for the Democratic party establishment to follow the lead of these Members of Congress, which include Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Pramila Jayapal, Betty McCollum, Jesús “Chuy” García, Senator Bernie Sanders and others who understand that you can’t be a progressive if you don’t support justice for the Palestinian people. They should reject S. 3176 and H.R. 1837 which deepen the United State’s financial and military support for Israel–sending the message that the Israeli government can continue to act with impunity.

Now is the moment to go further and introduce legislation to end the $3.8 billion annual U.S. military funding to Israel.

Last week USCPR, along with national partners, Adalah Justice Project, MPower Change, Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), Jewish Voice for Peace Action, Democratic Socialists of America Palestine Working Group, and others, brought together 68 progressive organizations and thousands of people to demand that the U.S. divest from violence – including defunding policing here and militarism abroad – and Invest in justice. In line with the coalition letter call to specifically end U.S. military funding to Israel, this Dear Colleague begins the road to writing grassroots visions of justice into U.S. policy.

Instead of U.S. military funding to Israel, we can advance the vision of safety advanced by the Movement for Black Lives: to divest from policing and militarism and instead invest in Black communities and others by reallocating resources to education, housing, and healthcare for all.

The power of movements makes political change possible. USCPR will continue to organize with partners to push elected officials to move beyond statements and introduce concrete legislation to end the use of taxpayer dollars towards US military funding to Israel.


About the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) is a national network of activists and organizations who are committed to freedom, justice, and equality for the Palestinian people and who work to end U.S. complicity in their oppression. USCPR is a political home for all who believe that freedom for the Palestinian people is an integral part of achieving our collective liberation. USCPR provides resources and strategic support to the U.S.-based Palestine solidarity movement, channeling grassroots power into positive change in U.S. policy and public opinion. USCPR works with local organizers and activists, policymakers, movement leaders, media, and advocacy organizations to advance a rights-based, accountability and justice-oriented framework from the U.S. to Palestine.