Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Media Release: National Orgs. Call on Obama Admin. Not to Veto Palestine UN Membership

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Media Release: National Orgs. Call on Obama Admin. Not to Veto Palestine UN Membership

July 19, 2011

Washington, DC -- The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation launched today an open letter with 10 additional national organizations calling on the Obama Administration not to veto Palestine's United Nations membership application in the Security Council.

The letter cites a 1949 pledge made by the U.S. Representative to the General Assembly "
that the United States would not use its right of veto in the Security Council on any membership application."  The signatories reminded the Obama Administration that "Palestinians have waited more than 63 years for their human rights. We urge you--do not set a timetable for Palestinian freedom by vetoing Palestinian membership in the United Nations."

The US Campaign is seeking 100 organizational endorsements and 10,000 individual petition signatures on the letter before delivering it to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice. (Click here to view the letter.) Palestine's UN membership application could come up for debate in the Security Council as early as July 25.

Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign, stated:
"Rather than arm twist Palestinians to return to the biased and fundamentally flawed U.S. negotiating table in exchange for giving up their UN membership application, the Obama Administration should stop obstructing and undermining Palestinian efforts to attain their rights. Palestinians are determined to seek UN membership as a way toward achieving freedom and self-determination and it is wrong for the United States to stand in their way."
Joining the US Campaign as original signatories of this open letter are: the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; American Jews for a Just Peace; American Muslims for Palestine; CODEPINK Women for Peace; Fellowship of Reconciliation; Friends of Sabeel—North America; Interfaith Peace-Builders; Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)—USA; Jewish Voice for Peace; and Peace Action.

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is a national coalition of more than 350 organizations working to end U.S. support for Israeli military occupation and apartheid and change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights, international law, and equality.

For additional information see www.endtheoccupation.org.

Sri Lanken women allegedly abused at Jordanian factory which supplies Target, Wal-Mart, Macy's Kohls and Landsend

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July 19, 2011
Contact: Amanda Kloer, Editor, Change.org amanda@change.org
Barbara Briggs, Assistant Director, Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights bbriggs@glhr.org
Shoppers demand justice for victimized Sri Lankan women at factory in Jordan sewing for major brands, including Target and Hanes

WASHINGTON, DC – More than two thousand shoppers have signed an online petition on Change.org asking Walmart, Hanes, Target, Macy's, Kohl's, Jones Group and Lands' End to intervene in the ongoing sexual abuse, rape, torture, and beatings of the young women guest workers at the Classic Factory in Jordan, which supplies the companies.

Scores of young women have reported being violently raped by the factory’s manager in the past few years, as reveled in a recent report by the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights.

“Classic is in a prison-like lockdown,” said Charles Kernaghan, Director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights. “The young women rape victims are terrified that they will be tracked down and punished. We have never met women workers more frightened, alone and with nowhere to turn, as Wal-Mart and Hanes sit back to watch the repression unfold.”

Classic workers have reported being tortured and bitten during sexual assaults and beaten or deported if they fight off the managers’ sexual advances. Some women have reported that on the weekly Muslim holiday, one manager sends a van to bring four or five young women to his hotel, where he abuses them. In a video interview, another victim alleges that upper factory management knows of the ongoing abuse.

In response to these claims, the petition on Change.org, the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change, asks the companies making clothes at Classic Factory to pay compensation to the women raped on the job, ensure compliance with Jordanian law and the labor rights provisions of the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement, and protect the workers by permanently removing the abusive factory managers.

“Thousands of consumers are letting Macy’s, Walmart, and the other companies making clothes at Classic Factory know it is absolutely unacceptable for widespread rape allegations to go unaddressed,” said Change.org Editor Amanda Kloer. “This campaign is an example of consumers’ power to protect women’s rights.”

The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, formerly National Labor Committee, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1981. The Institute is headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, the United States with offices in El Salvador and Bangladesh.

Live signature totals from The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights' Change.org campaign:


Video interview with Kamala, alleged rape victim and former Classic Factory employee:


Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights report on Classic Factory

For comments from Classic Factory brands:

For comments from Walmart: Press hotline at 1-800-331-0085
For comments from Macy’s: Holly Thomas, Vice President, 646-429-5250 or Holly.Thomas@macys.com,
For comments from Target: Press hotline at 612- 696-3400 or Press@target.com.
For comments from Hanes: Matt Hall, 336-519-3386 or Matt.Hall@Hanesbrands.com

Change.org is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by more than 400,000 new members a month, and empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country.
Amanda Kloer
Editor, Change.org

Change.org is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change. We send announcements about innovative, compelling or successful social change campaigns we think may be of interest to the media no more than twice a week. We try our best to inform you about campaigns that fit your beat and/or geographic region. If we got it wrong, please click reply to let us know and we'll set you up to receive announcements that match your beat. If you simply wish to unsubscribe, please email mideast+unsubscribe@change.org.

Monday, July 18, 2011

CPJ calls on Jordan to prevent attacks on journalists covering protests

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Committee to Protect Journalists
330 Seventh Avenue, 11th Fl., New York, NY 10001 Phone: +1 (212) 465-1004 Fax: +1 (212) 465-9568
Contact: Mohamed Abdel Dayem, program coordinator. Phone: (212) 465-1004; E-mail: m.abdel.dayem@cpj.org   
CPJ calls on Jordan to prevent attacks on journalists covering protests

New York, July 18, 2011-The Committee to Protect Journalists called on the government of Jordan to do more to prevent attacks on journalists who cover demonstrations and other forms of civil unrest. On Friday, security forces beat 16 journalists in identifying orange vests during a demonstration and planned sit-in that rapidly devolved into clashes between security personnel and government supporters with demonstrators.

The injured journalists, numbering 16 according to the Jordanian Journalists' Syndicate, included two who suffered broken bones, one of whom had to undergo surgery, according to news reports. The assaulted journalists work for a variety of local and international news organizations, including Al-Jazeera and The New York Times.  

An unnamed Agence France-Presse photographer reported that journalists "were beaten by police, although we were wearing special press vests." The bright orange vests were meant to distinguish media from demonstrators. The vests were provided by the Public Security Directorate (PSD) in coordination with the journalists' syndicate as one of multiple measures taken to ensure journalists' safety and to facilitate coverage.  

On Saturday, Lt. General Hussein al-Majali, PSD director, launched an investigation into the incident to be led by his deputy for legal affairs, Al-Jazeera reported. The PSD also announced on Saturday that four policemen had been suspended, noting that the investigation's conclusions would be announced within 72 hours (Tuesday). Jordan's royal court announced that it would cover the cost of medical treatment for the injured journalists, according to the same news report. On Sunday, the journalists' syndicate announced that it plans to pursue legal action against the PSD, news reports said.  

"While the measures undertaken by Jordanian authorities are commendable, they are by no means sufficient to reverse an entrenched pattern of systematic targeting of journalists," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. "The latest assault on journalists, as unfortunate as it is, provides authorities with an opportunity to unambiguously demonstrate that they will no longer tolerate attacks on members of the media who report on politically sensitive topics. Those who ordered and executed this assault must be held to account."

CPJ has documented several assaults on the press in Jordan since March, including attacks against news bureaus, threats against media staffers, assaults on journalists covering demonstrations, and thehacking of news websites. In April, CPJ said that government failure to take decisive legal measures against those who physically assault journalists in Jordan amounts to a tacit endorsement of such attacks.
CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.

Monday, July 11, 2011


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EDITORS NOTE: Creators Syndicate is one of the only column syndications that distributes the columns of American Arabs.



            LOS ANGELES -- Creators Syndicate announces that Jack Newcombe has been named president and chief operating officer of the company, effective July 6, 2011. He takes over as president for Rick Newcombe, who will maintain his position as CEO and chairman of the board of Creators Syndicate.

            "Jack is a phenomenal executive and strategic thinker," Rick Newcombe says. "He is a natural leader with brains, charm and charisma, and he is leading the best staff in the business into a new world of content distribution and syndication. I am proud that Creators Syndicate is a family business and that my son is taking over."

            For the past two years, Jack has served as executive vice president/general manager of the third-largest syndicate in the country, during which time he has overseen the company¹s transition from a print-oriented business to an organization focused on new media and online enterprises, in addition to its traditional sources of revenue.

            In the past year, Creators Syndicate has fully automated and consolidated its content delivery service and greatly expanded its Web presence while continuing to keep the personal touch in sales and customer relations that is the company's hallmark. Jack implemented a new corporate culture and reorganized the company in order to improve communication and foster a better sense of ³team,² giving autonomy to the editorial and accounting departments while taking a hands-on approach to the business development, operations and marketing departments. In the coming years, Creators Syndicate will continue to expand while maintaining the flexibility and creativity that have allowed it to thrive in today's media marketplace.

            Following the announcement of his promotion, Jack named David Yontz to the position of managing editor. David, a graduate of Syracuse University's Newhouse School, has worked for Creators Syndicate for four years, starting as an editorial assistant.

            Prior to joining the company full time in June 2009, Jack received his Master of Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Before business school, he worked for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley in Washington, D.C. Jack received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University, where he was a four-year varsity athlete on the rowing (crew) team and was elected captain his senior year. Jack currently lives in Redondo Beach with his wife, Allison, who is in law school at UCLA.

# # #

Friday, July 08, 2011

‘Welcome to Palestine’ campaign responds to Israel’s denial of entrance to international visitors who support human rights

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‘Welcome to Palestine’ campaign responds to Israel’s denial of entrance to international visitors who support human rights

Bethlehem and Jerusalem, July 7, 2011 - The Israeli authorities are escalating attacks on anyone they suspect of participating in the peaceful events of the ‘Welcome to Palestine’ campaign. Israeli authorities sent hundreds of names to airline companies telling them to deny travel to individuals on the list. Several people on the list who had booked flights were sent letters from airline companies cancelling their reservations ‘based on a request from the Israeli authorities.’ We call on all airline companies not to accept such provocative, blackmailing, and illegal actions by the Israeli government. Ominously, Israeli Prime minister has directed the interior security minister that the Israeli authorities must ‘act with determination’ towards those who do make it to Ben Gurion Airport.

The visitors coming from the US and Europe on Friday are committed to the principles of international and humanitarian law and believe strictly in nonviolence. They were invited by dozens of Palestinian civil society organizations and groups.  They have stated that the only way to visit and work with Palestinians is by passing through Israeli border controls. They have declared their commitment to pass these border controls in an orderly, peaceful and fully transparent way.

Before stepping onto the airplanes, the visitors will have passed through meticulous security procedures at the various airports of origin and will pose no threat in any way. The propaganda efforts to paint human rights advocates as ‘hooligans’ and even ‘violent’ (an attempt to demonize and dehumanize them in order to justify violence against them) is simply not credible and indeed ridiculous. We are pleased that this episode further exposes Israeli policies towards anything or anyone relating to ‘Palestinians’ as dictatorial, racist, and criminal and not complying with basic elements of democracy or human rights.

Visitors traveling between countries have rights under international law and bilateral travel agreements. Our foreign visitors insist that they must be treated with respect in the same manner Israeli citizens receive when traveling to their countries.  Those who had reservations cancelled will exercise their right of protest including bringing legal cases in their own countries. We will also bring legal cases in Israeli courts under our continued attempt to expose the racist policies of the Israeli government.

Several peaceful protests will be held at airports throughout Europe on the 8th of July and we urge all civilized people throughout the world to protest these undemocratic moves to silence free speech and legal travel. We ask the media to insist on access and fair reporting on Israeli tactics that are against basic human rights of international solidarity activists before, during and after they arrive at the Israeli airport. We demand Israel publishes all instructions given to their ‘border control officials’ regarding visitors who intend to visit Palestinians.

The "Welcome to Palestine" campaign has been successful in exposing Israeli attempts to isolate and imprison Palestinians and prevent international visitors from coming to find out what is really happening on the ground.

Friday 8 July 2011 at 10 AM in Bethlehem Peace Center, located in Nativity Square, we will have a Press Conference to announce further steps we will take and to answer any questions. 

Twitter: #PalSpring
Facebook: Welcome to Palestine

Contact information:
Bethlehem: Fadi Kattan, press.welcometopalestine2@gmail.com   +970 (0) 595 754 100 or Skype welcome.palestine

Jerusalem: Nikki or Laura, sergioyahni@gmail.com , +972 2 624 1159 or +972 2 624 1424

Berlin: Sophia Deeg, sophia_deeg@yahoo.de, +49(0) 30 88 007761, +49 (0) 1799878414.  13:00  Press briefing; beginning 13:30 news center, including (if possible) direct contact with the travelers as they land at Ben Gurion airport.  Filmb├╝hne am Steinplatz, Hardenbergstr. 12, Berlin Charlottenburg. 

Paris:  Nicolas Shahshahani, bienvenuepalestine@orange.fr +33 (0)1 42 94 39 94 and +33 (0) 6 73 38 24 84. The press office will answer questions from the media around the clock. 

UK: Sofiah Macleod, july8@scottishpsc.org.uk+44 (0)131 620 0052 or + 44 (0) 7401631658, Skype: scottishpsc.

USA/Germany: Elsa Rassbach, elsarassbach@gmail.com+49 (0) 30 326 01540+49 (0) 170 738 1450, Skype: elsarassbach


AlJazeera English Story:

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Congressman Schiff Statement on the Future of the Arab Spring and Syria

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Thursday, July 7, 2011
Contact: Maureen Shanahan (202) 225-4176

Schiff Statement on the Future of the Arab Spring and Syria
Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) spoke on the House Floor about the future of the Arab Spring and the situation in Syria.  See below for a transcript of his remarks and a link to the video.

Mr. Schiff: Mr. Speaker, there are moments in the lives of nations when existing order is suddenly revealed as bereft of legitimacy and no longer viable. The wave of unrest spreading across the Arab world, touched off by the self-immolation of a Tunisian fruit vendor tired of petty humiliation by a corrupt government, has exposed the rot of decades of caprice, corruption and incompetence. That this one man's desperate act could lead to the downfall of the governments of Tunisia, Egypt and, perhaps Yemen, is testament to the pent up frustration of millions of people who are denied the basic rights and economic opportunity that we take for granted here in the West.

But it is in Syria, where the future of the Arab Spring seemingly hangs in the balance and where the security services have acted with the least restraint and maximum violence. Like marauding armies of old, select units of military and security services, troops have been moving from city to city in a quest to quash the ever-spreading demonstrations that have become a feature of life in Syria.

Derra, a town of some 75,000 lying near the border with Jordan, has emerged as one of the centers of the Syrian uprising against the 40 years of rule by the Assad family. Army and security forces have repeatedly assaulted the town and surrounding villages, killing hundreds of civilians and arresting anyone suspected of taking part in demonstrations against the regime.

On April 29 in the village of Jiza, the Syrian secret police rounded up anybody it thought was involved with the protests, including Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, who had gone to watch the demonstration with other members of his family. For a month, Hamza family waited for him to return, worried but hopeful he would be released unharmed.

It was not to be.

On May 30, his mutilated body was returned to them. He had been tortured, subjected to repeated electric shocks, and whipped with cables. His eyes were swollen and black, and there were identical bullet wounds where he had been apparently shot through both arms, the bullets lodging in his belly. On his chest was a deep, dark burn mark. His neck was broken and parts of his body were cut off.
Hamza Ali al-Khateeb was 13 years old.

Video of the boy's shattered body has been seen by millions on television and the internet, and Hamza, like the Tunisian fruit vendor who set himself alight, has become a symbol to his countrymen and the world of the depravity and illegitimacy of a regime that would torture its own children to death.

Our ability to bring additional economic pressure on Syria is limited. Its economy is already under immense strain. It is small, weak and isolated. Political pressure in the form of a U.N. Security Resolution condemning the violence and crackdown has been blocked by Russia and China, and there's dread over what will happen when Assad falls.

Given the internal divisions between Sunni and Shi`ia Muslims, Christians and Druse, the confessional and sectarian splits are as pronounced as in Lebanon, the potential for large scale violence as great as Iraq. The dangers are real, but the promise of what began in Tunisia and is now materializing in Egypt and elsewhere is also real. People of courage can determine their own destiny and it need not be one of hereditary dictatorship, kleptocracy or lack of opportunity and stagnation.

In the Arab world as elsewhere, people should be free to choose their own government to represent them and to chart a path of peace with their neighbors. To conclude otherwise means that we relegate tens of millions of people to suffer of capricious ruthlessness of their despots for generation after generation or we're willing to trade the illusion of stability for the harsh reality of their suffering. That’s not the choice we made for ourselves 235 years ago and it is not one that we should presume to make for others.

Bashar al-Assad is a ruthless tyrant whose time has passed and who clings to power by only by virtue of brutal force. Our role and that of the international community should be to work with Syrian opposition figures and others to advance a negotiated transition to a new Syrian government that will represent all Syrians and prevent the trading in of one set of thugs for another.

The Arab Spring cannot be allowed to fail because of brutal repression, the specter of religious fanaticism, a fear of the unknown or the cynicism born of unmet expectations.

The region's many millions must have the freedom to write a new chapter for themselves and their posterity.
I thank the Speaker and yield back the balance of my time.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

U.S. Comedian Ronnie Khalil Tests Egypt's Free Speech Boundaries With First Stand-Up Show Since Revolution

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U.S. Comedian Ronnie Khalil Tests Egypt's Free Speech Boundaries With First Stand-Up Show Since Revolution

CAIRO -- July 5, 2011 -- Ronnie Khalil remembers sitting in his California apartment watching the Egyptian revolution on television. He remembers the horrific images of a van barreling down a crowded street, while men on donkeys and camels wielded sticks and swords at peaceful protesters. He wondered if his family was safe and if his friends were alive. The last thing Ronnie was thinking about was how to make this all funny.
Ronnie Khalil is a well-known Egyptian-American comedian and co-founder of the Middle Eastern Comedy Festival in Los Angeles. But six months after the revolution, with Egypt's future still in doubt, Ronnie knows one thing for certain: the country is in desperate need for a laugh.
On July 6th, Ronnie will be headlining the "Freedom of Funny" Tour, the first stand-up comedy show in Cairo since the revolution at the El Sawy Culturewheel.  Not surprisingly, Ronnie was also the last comedian to perform before the revolution, holding an underground comedy show just weeks before, where he addressed topics such as sexual harassment and women's rights.
During the Cairo event, Ronnie will announce his candidacy for "Bresident of Egypt," a humorous reference to Middle Easterners sometimes confusing English letters. He will also unveil his plan for a "New Egypt."
Ronnie and his fellow comedians, all local Egyptians, will have the difficult task of making light of the revolution, while testing out the new limits of freedom of speech, mostly with regards to politics. 
"It'll be interesting to perform in a country where I was always forbidden to talk about Egyptian politics and let loose a bit," says Khalil. "I've saved more than 30 years of Mubarak jokes, though my 1991 joke about him wearing MC Hammer pants might be a little outdated."

Ronnie Khalil is an Egyptian-American comedian who has headlined across four continents, taped comedy specials in the Middle East and Australia. He is co-Founder of the Middle Eastern Comedy Festival in Los Angeles and has been seen on ABC News, NPR, Air America, CNN, FOX news, the European News Channel, Al Jazeera, and more.
NOTE TO MEDIA: Interviews and high resolution photos are available upon request. Media can also attend the event with prior permission.  Please contact producers@mideastcomedyfest.com.