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Three Samidoun activists participated on Tuesday, 19 April, in the second Palestine Advocacy Day in Washington, DC. Joe Catron and John Becker, from New York, and Ayman Nijim, originally from Deir al-Balah and currently in New Jersey, joined over 40 participants in the day of Congressional and State Department advocacy meetings, organized by American Muslims for Palestine.

Participants met with Congressional offices and State Department officials to urge changes in U.S. policy on Palestine; the recent letter by eleven members of Congress, including Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative Henry C. Johnson urging investigation of human rights violations by the Israeli and Egyptian militaries, was raised frequently by participants.

In particular, Samidoun participants raised the issue of torture of imprisoned Palestinians, including the cases of Wasim Marouf and Ahmad Manasra referenced in the Leahy letter. Participants also discussed the treatement of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention, a topic highlighted in a 2015 letter by Representative Betty McCollum and 19 other members of Congress that has received renewed attention with reports from Defence for Children International Palestine and Human Rights Watch. There are currently over 400 Palestinian children in Israeli prisons.

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The recent regulatory challenge to the Jewish National Fund’s tax-exempt status filed by the National Lawyers Guild International Committee was a frequent topic raised by participants. The challenge calls on the IRS to review and remove the JNF’s tax-exempt status because of its direct involvement in racism and racial discrimination, settlement building, and the violation of Palestinian rights. Extrajudicial killings by Israeli occupation forces – including those mentioned in the Leahy letter – were also frequently discussed by participants, indicating a need for meaningful change in U.S. policy on Palestine.

The United States provides over $3 billion in military aid to the Israeli state annually, in addition to political and diplomatic support, including vetoes of UN resolutions condemning or criticizing Israeli violations of Palestinian rights. Repressive legislation threatening organizations and individuals working to build the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel is being pushed in multiple U.S. states in an attempt to silence the growing popular revulsion at U.S. support for Israeli racism, occupation and apartheid.

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Photos: American Muslims for Palestine