November 21, 2013
In 2001, as the second intifada broke out in Palestine/Israel, I realized I had to take a stand against dispossession, and oppression. The courage and determination of Palestinian nonviolent activists, in the face of a brutal backlash from Israeli soldiers and settlers, moved me to join them in resisting Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands.
This commitment led me to become a rabbi, to deepen my own skills as a nonviolent activist, and to support strategic campaigns that build a movement and have concrete victories. My path led me to Jewish Voice for Peace and the We Divest Campaign, which heeds Palestinian civil society’s call for divestment from companies that profit from the occupation.
Boycott and divestment campaigns are powerful tools of active nonviolence, and they can be extraordinarily effective, as we saw with the South African anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s.
At We Divest, thanks to the support of the Muste Institute, we are already seeing an impact: In July we staged a national day of action, with protests in a dozen U.S. cities, urging pension fund giant TIAA-CREF to divest from companies that profit from occupation and apartheid.
Just last week, we celebrated a major victory: TIAA-CREF dropped its $1.2 million worth of shares in the multinational corporation Veolia—a central target of our divestment campaign—from its Social Choice Funds.
The work of We Divest is just one example of the kind of radical nonviolence the Muste Institute has been supporting for nearly four decades—since 1974. Donate now to keep that support flowing.
For any who have visited the West Bank, you have been horrified, as I have been, to see just how ruthlessly the Israeli military attacks Palestinian nonviolent demonstrations. If you haven’t seen it first hand, you can get a sense of this repression by watching the Oscar-nominated film “Five Broken Cameras” about the Palestinian village of Bil’in, or by reading independent news reports posted by groups like the International Solidarity Movement, a Muste Institute sponsored project.
Such sources will also inspire you with the creativity of Palestinian nonviolent direct actions. One example, funded by the Muste Institute in 2006: three Palestinian families from Bil’in moved themselves and their belongings into the neighboring Israeli settlement of “Matityahu East” and declared it to be “Bil’in West,” to protest the settlement’s illegal appropriation of village lands.
Your contributions make it possible for the Muste Institute to sustain this nonviolent movement, as one of the rare U.S.-based funders willing to take a stand for Palestinian rights.
Reporting on the action, a member of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and the Settlements said: “In addition to the material support, your moral support lets us know that Palestine is not alone and decent people around the world understand our struggle.”
Nonviolent activists in Palestine and throughout the world need plenty of moral and financial support—especially when their actions are met with violence. They are asking for our help.
The Muste Institute raises all the money for its programs each year by asking people like you to chip in. Please join me in supporting this work now.
Onward to justice,
Rabbi Alissa Wise
P.S. Your tax-deductible contribution allows the Muste Institute to sustain a diversity of campaigns and activists working for justice: to stop war and militarism; abolish the death penalty; support labor organizing; defend immigrant rights; and expose the dangers of nuclear weapons and nuclear power. Give whatever you can now!
Donate online or mail your check to A.J. Muste Memorial Institute, 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012.