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January 20th, 2015

Dear City Council Members, Don’t Accept an Expenses Paid Trip to Apartheid Israel

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Members Mark Treyger, Brad Lander, Antonio Reynoso, David Greenfield, Rafael Espinal, Darlene Mealy, Mark Levine, Helen Rosenthal, Corey Johnson, Ritchie Torres, Andrew Cohen, Donovan Richards, Eric Ulrich, and James Van Bramer:

Dear City Council Members on the all expenses paid trip to Israel,

I write to express my shock and deepest sadness on learning of your proposed February trip to Israel.  I urge you to reconsider and cancel it on very legitimate grounds.  New York is not just any U.S. city – and Israel is not just any country.  A visit by you to a nation that has betrayed its role as an occupier – treating Palestine like an 18th century colony to be abused, exploited and punished – is without merit.

As headquarters for the United Nations, New York City enjoys the international prestige and financial rewards that the U.N. brings.  With its presence, however, come distinct responsibilities.  Besides the shocking pretense by Israel that it doesn’t have nuclear weapons – when THE WHOLE WORLD KNOWS IT DOES – and its flaunting of repeated U.N. votes that have condemned its settlement policies, Israel has become a rogue nation.  What are you in the City Council doing in preparation for the thousands of overseas visitors coming to New York to attend the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty meetings?  Will you bring back word that Israel is coming out of its nuclear closet?

Israel practices Apartheid against Palestinians and any tour you undertake will be a tragic pretense. Will you be given an excuse for Israel’s use of white phosphorus weapons in their 2014 massacre in Gaza that killed over 2,300 people (over 500 children)?  What about the wholesale destruction of 1000s of olive trees on Palestinian lands – at a time when our planet is overheating and trees are the vital lungs for our earth?  Israel’s scorched earth policy to destroy Palestine’s people and infrastructure must cease.  Why pay court to their crimes?

As a New Yorker who has supported many of you in our struggle for justice against racism, I feel betrayed by your planned junket.  It does not bode well for the policies you will pursue in seeking racial harmony in this city.  The practice by the U.S. government of torture (rechristened “enhanced interrogation techniques”) in violation of Geneva Conventions does not authorize you to support Israel in violating the 4th Geneva Convention with settlements in occupied land.  I say SHAME   SHAME   SHAME !

On this, the day we observe the birthday of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr it is fitting to quote him for he was our nation’s Conscience : “When machines and computers, profit and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

Bow out of the trip – use your energies for the good citizens of this city that elected you to focus on healing.

Sincerely,
– Nydia Leaf
for the Granny Peace Brigade

P.S. To send a “Don’t Tour Apartheid Israel!”message to the 15 members of the NY City Council scheduled to take an all-expenses paid trip to Israel in February: click here.

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