Vermonters for Justice in Palestine (VTJP) – formerly Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel – was founded on the belief that Justice is a necessity before Peace can be achieved.
Mission Statement: Vermonters for Justice in Palestine works to support the survival of the Palestinian people and to end the illegal, immoral, and brutal Israeli occupation through education, advocacy, and action. We are committed to the principles of self-determination for the Palestinian people, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and full civil and political rights for all Palestinians in order to promote the equality and safety of both Palestinians and Israelis
About Us – The long Read
Vermonters for Justice in Palestine is committed to a peace that includes self-determination and national liberation of the Palestinian people through education, advocacy, and action. Our activism is devoted primarily to ending Israel’s illegal military occupation and settler-colonial project in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the horrific siege of Gaza.
VTJP also advocates for the right of return of Palestinian refugees consistent with International Law, as well as full civil and political rights for all Palestinians in Israel, the occupied territories and across the Palestinian diaspora.
As a principal tool to achieve these aims, VTJP is a strong supporter of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. It was launched in 2005 against Israel and its policies of occupation, colonialism and ethnic cleansing. In 2013, we initiated an international campaign calling on Vermont-based company Ben & Jerry’s to stop sales and catering of ice cream from its Israeli franchise in illegal, Jewish-only settlements in Occupied Palestine.
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Why we oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestine
Occupation means that troops from a hostile nation move into an area and take control, as Israel did in 1967 when it illegally occupied Palestinian lands in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. In Palestine these days it means that people may have to show their ID and explain their business to any Israeli soldier at any time. The soldier can decide to turn the Palestinian back on a whim, and open resistance can be fatal, so Palestinians must endure this humiliating and dangerous process routinely as they go about their daily business. Any protest, no matter how peaceful, is met with brutal violence.
Occupation means surveillance of all aspects of Palestinian life by every possible means, from secret police who interrogate prisoners with torture, to every kind of high tech surveillance. The secret police sow dissension wherever possible, and they systematically murder and imprison emerging Palestinian leaders. Sadly, they target peace activists who seem to be building support and making connections with Israeli peace activists.
Occupation means systematic destruction of roads, houses, orchards, workshops, and other things that people need to go on living normal lives. Israelis arbitrarily decide that a military post must go on a certain hill, that shots may have come from behind a repair shop, that a security road must be built across a Palestinian village or farm, or that someone’s house blocks the line of fire from an Israeli outpost. Out come the armored bulldozers and the troops. Houses are bulldozed, orchards are uprooted, terraces broken down, wells and water distribution systems are destroyed, possessions are trashed. People who resist are beaten, gassed, imprisoned, and killed.
Occupation means terroristic rocket attacks and bombing in Israeli attempts to assassinate Palestinian leaders. These attacks usually are so ferocious that they involve the killing and wounding of many ordinary people. The Israeli government defends this barbaric practice as necessary, but one can imagine their indignation if a Palestinian assassin were to do the same to one of their leaders. The unlikeness of this happening underscores the real inequality of the struggle. The Israeli government arrogantly claims the right to dominate and bully the Palestinian people, in other words, that their might makes them right. We disagree.
How can peace come about in Palestine/Israel?
Some Israeli politicians claim that for Israel to be secure, the Palestinians must be totally subdued and held down permanently in densely populated ghettos and reservations. Some Israeli politicians frankly admit that they want to make life so miserable for Palestinians that they will leave and become refugees somewhere else. (The present Minister of Transportation has advocated giving Palestinians free one-way tickets to the border.) The actions of the Israeli government have been consistent with both of these plans as they insist on their impossibly one-sided peace terms.
We believe that the only way peace can be reached is if Israel takes its troops out of Palestine, stops its campaign of terroristic assassinations and disruption of Palestinian life, and prepares to live with its Palestinian neighbors on terms of mutual respect.
A practical first step to achieving peace would be to have international observers in Palestine to witness the occupation. Israel vehemently opposes this, for the images of brutality, humiliation, and suffering on TV would be devastating to its image.
What can we Americans do to influence Israel’s behavior?
The United States sends billions of dollars to Israel, every year. It is the largest recipient of foreign aid. We also defend Israel against the outrage of the other countries of the world in the UN, vetoing any resolutions that annoy Israel. Israel’s supporters spend millions to influence public opinion, and many politicians get big contributions from Israel’s lobbyists.
We Americans must let our leaders know that we want America to stop supporting Israel’s failed policies.
Frequently heard questions and complaints
“This is just propaganda!”
Sometimes people briefly visit our site and leave with the impression that we’re pushing “anti-Israeli propaganda”. Vermonters for a Just Peace advocates the application of international law in the Middle East. Although that position puts us squarely at odds with Israel’s current policies, we are definitely not “anti-Israeli”. We are a diverse group of Vermonters with personal links in both Israel and occupied Palestine. We are firmly opposed to all acts of violence against civilians.
“What about the Israeli victims? You only show the Palestinian side.”
We report all the occupation-related conflict that occurs in Israel and Palestine every day, usually from Israeli, Palestinian, and international sources. If today’s pages don’t report violence against Israelis, it’s very likely there was none to report.
Our site strives to present a reasonably accurate “daily snapshot” of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. Because our media deliver such a blurry and selective picture of this conflict, we go directly to sources on the ground to get the close-up view the newspapers miss. When the details of an event are disputed or unclear, we try to post several versions from a range of sources.
“Your news is biased.”
Nearly half of our daily news stories come from the Israeli press, including Ha’aretz, Globes (Israel Business Arena), and YNet News (Yediot Ahronot), and sometimes the Jerusalem Post, JTA, the Forward and others. We cover the latest events and trends in Israeli government, economy, and society, especially as they relate to the occupation and human rights, our primary concerns as an organization.
An approximately equal fraction of our coverage comes from Palestinian and other Arab sources, including Electronic Intifada, MIFTAH, the Palestinian National Authority (WAFA, Palestine Monitor) and dozens of others. The remainder includes British, US, and the Middle Eastern sources.
The resulting picture may be unfamiliar and ugly, but it is a better approximation of the reality of the occupation than the picture presented by our present US media. If it doesn’t square with your picture of the occupation, why not compare your news sources with ours for awhile, and then see what you think?
We hope that this site will serve as a gateway to a better understanding of the region and the issues at hand. Thank you for visiting.
We are happy to receive questions and constructive comments via e-mail.
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