American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
|Founded||“in the crucible of World War I by Quakers who aimed to serve both humanity and country while being faithful to their commitment to nonviolence.”|
|In their own words||Claims to promote “lasting peace with justice” and “nurture the seeds of change and respect for human life that transform social relations and systems.”|
- Actively promotes boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel; accuses Israel of “apartheid against Palestinians”; and advocates for the “right of return,” meaning the end of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
- Accuses Israel of “obvious violence in Gaza…slow and systematic ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and East Jerusalem through continuing displacement from sprawling illegal settlements, land grabs, the separation barrier…crushing restrictions of Palestinian movement, and a network of racist laws.”
- AFSC supports efforts to encourage Israeli youth to dodge the draft.
- In 2015, AFSC and Defense for Children International- Palestine (DCI-P) initiated a campaign, entitled “No Way to Treat a Child,” to “challenge Isael’s prolonged military occupation of Palestinians by exposing widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system.” The groups call upon the United States government to pressure Israel to end “abuse of Palestinian children,” and encourage supporters to write members of congress on behalf of their cause. The campaign claims that a letter addressed to President Obama calling for the establishment of a Special Envoy for Palestinian Children, initiated by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) and signed by 20 US congressmen, was a “direct response” to demands made by its supporters.
- As part of their “No Way to Treat a Child” campaign, DCI-P and AFSC held a hearing in Congress on June 8, 2017 on “how persistent human rights violations, systematic impunity, discrimination and a hyper-militarized environment affect the lives of the Palestinian children growing up under a military occupation with no end in sight.” Speakers included Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch and Nadia Ben-Youssef of Adalah.
- On June 30, 2016, AFSC, alongside Chicago clergy letters, delivered a petition to US Senator Dick Durbin, urging him to end the blockade of Gaza, as “We, who have the advantage of seeing the reality of Gaza without this baggage of dehumanizing indoctrination can take a stand for the humanity of the Palestinian people in Gaza.”
- In April 2016, AFSC organized a speaking tour alongside Jewish Voice for Peace to “raise support for conscientious objectors in Israel.” The tour featured two speakers who had refused service in the Israeli military.
- In March 2016, AFSC was a sponsor for the Zochrot conference titled, “The Third International Conference on the Return of Palestinian Refugees.” The conference featured members of Badil, Israel Social TV, and Sadaka Reut.
- In 2014, AFSC held an event to discuss how “Israel’s bombs are slaughtering civilians held captive inside the besieged Gaza Strip. This horrific violence stems from decades of colonization, dispossession, and apartheid by an Israeli state that serves the interests of US domination in the oil-rich Middle East.”
- Published a 2013 resource paper, “Forced displacement in Palestine and Israel,” claiming that the “displacement and dispossession of Palestinians from their land and homes is at the core of the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis” and that upon the establishment of the state of Israel, “plans to ethnically cleanse the Palestinian population” were developed.
- Dalit Baum, director of AFSC’s Middle East program in San Francisco, is co-founder of Coalition of Women for Peace’s flagship BDS project “Who Profits?” (now an independent organization) and formerly served as the campaign’s project manager. According to Baum’s profile, “She has been active with various groups in the Israeli anti-occupation and democratization movement, including Black Laundry, Boycott from Within, Zochrot, Anarchists against the Wall and Women in Black.” Baum lobbies international audiences on how best to promote the global BDS campaign against Israel.
- AFSC works to increase Palestinian participation in BDS campaigns.
- AFSC launched an online investment screening tool to “help individuals and institutions identify companies on their investment portfolios that are directly complicit in ongoing severe violations of human rights and international law.”
- Among the BDS campaigns that AFSC has advanced are ones targeting Hewlett Packard and Sodastream.
- In March 2013, the Mennonite Central Committee adopted AFSC’s investment screening tool, which targets companies operating in the West Bank for divestment.
- AFSC is instrumental in promoting BDS resolutions in the Presbyterian Church USA.
- Sponsored a two-day conference (March 28-29, 2014) in Philadelphia, entitled, “The Role of the US in Israel-Palestine: Current Realities & Creative Responses.” The conference, sponsored by Friends of Sabeel-North America (FOSNA), sought to “galvanize advocacy for justice in Israel-Palestine” by featuring workshops promoting boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns, the Kairos Palestine document, an end to U.S. military aid to Israel, and “[r]eaffirming the Israel-Palestine conflict as a civil rights struggle, with parallels to South Africa and the American South.” The conference featured an AFSC poster exhibit titled, “Boycott! The Art of Economic Activism.”
- In 2014, AFSC tweeted “So many similarities between apartheid South Africa and Palestine #BDS.”
- Published a 2011 “Israel-Palestine No-buy List,” compiled “with assistance” from the Who Profits (Coalition of Women for Peace) online database, which identifies targets for anti-Israel divestment and boycotts.
- From August 10-14, 2014, AFSC and Jewish Voice for Peace launched the “BDS Summer Institute,” a five-day indoctrination session in California to train college students to stage divisive and discriminatory BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) events on campus as part of the political warfare strategy against Israel adopted at the 2001 Durban NGO Forum.
- Published a 2013 pamphlet on “Seven ways to support peace in Israel/Palestine on campus this semester,” which urges students to advance BDS, organize “flash mob[s],” target Israeli companies, start divestment campaigns, and create additional chapters of the Students for Justice in Palestine group.
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