Action Center: Protect Palestinian Children

A young Palestinian girl confronts Israeli soldiers in the central West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on April 21, 2018. (Photo: ActiveStills / Anne Paq)

Politics shouldn’t matter when it comes to children. All children should be protected from torture.

Yet only a tiny number of our Congress members have supported a bill to do just that for Palestinian children. (Go here to see how many children, both Palestinian and Israeli, have died since September 29th, 2000.)

If Americans Knew has created materials to help change this, but we need a team to use them! We need volunteers from every Congressional district to reach out to their legislators.

If you knew that people all over the US were taking action, wouldn’t it be exciting to join them? You can, right now. Click the button to add your name and we’ll be in touch soon!

Below are materials you can use right now – download them for free, or order them from us at a low cost. Use them to make a phone call, hand out at a town hall, visit your local congressional office, or create your own action.

There is strength in numbers. We need your help!



HR 2407 Information Card

Raise awareness of HR2407 in your community! Order cards from us or download for free and print them yourself. Click for details.


HR 2407 Flyer

Download the PDF and then print, pass, and post!

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IMPORTANT ISSUE FOR YOUR CONGRESS PERSON!


The State of Israel uses American aid money to detain and prosecute approximately 700 Palestinian children every year. This is no way to treat a child – and we are complicit in this practice.


Tell your Congress person to support H.R.2407.

H.R. 2407 seeks to promote justice, equality and human rights by ensuring that United States financial assistance provided to the Government of Israel is not used to support ill-treatment against Palestinian children by Israeli forces.

Palestinian children (and adults) have lived for over 50 years under Israeli military law; ill-treatment in the Israeli military detention system is “widespread, systematic, and institutionalized throughout the process,” according to UNICEF.

Children often give confessions after verbal abuse, threats, physical and psychological violence that in some cases amounts to torture.


EVERY CONGRESSPERSON SHOULD COSPONSOR H.R.2407 – TO PROTECT CHILDREN.


For more information, visit https://nwttac.dci-palestine.org/


HR 2407 Post Card

Notify Congress about this important issue.
Download the PDF for free and print one now. Or order some from us and hand them out!

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TO MY CONGRESSPERSON:


I write to ask you to cosponsor H.R.2407, the “Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act.” (Nicknamed #nowaytotreatachild)


H.R.2407 prohibits U.S. taxpayer funding from supporting the military detention and ill-treatment of children by any country, including Israel.


H.R.2407 aligns US policy toward Israel with existing US law and international law.


PLEASE COSPONSOR H.R.2407.


Sincerely,


Name __________________________________


Address _______________________________


City, State, Zip ______________________


HR 2407 Factsheet

After you meet with your representative, leave one of these behind so they have the facts.
Download the PDF here.

Read full text

H.R.2407 Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act (“No Way To Treat a Child”)


Introduced 4/30/2019 by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN-4)

Purpose: “To promote human rights for Palestinian children living under Israeli military occupation and require that United States funds do not support military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children.”


FACTS (from Defense For Children International – Palestine):

Israel is the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes 500-700 children in military courts each year. UNICEF says that Israeli military ill-treatment is “widespread, systematic, and institutionalized.” The children are traumatized – many are scarred for life.

Most Palestinian children are charged with throwing stones, which can result in a sentence up to 10-20 years. Many plead guilty because they are threatened or tortured.

The majority are taken from home in the middle of the night by heavily armed Israeli soldiers. 75% experience violence during the process, 97% are denied access to a lawyer.

These policies violate international law and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and are paid for by Americans’ tax dollars. The US gives Israel $3.8 billion a year.

H.R.2407 is about the safety of children. No matter what their nationality is, no child should experience what these Palestinian children are experiencing at the hands of Israeli soldiers.

H.R.2407 can not be dismissed as “anti-Semitic.” Americans are beginning to recognize the facts about Israel’s human rights abuses, and we believe criticism is absolutely in order, and it’s absolutely not anti-Semitic.

We want H.R.2407 passed because children deserve better than what Israel is giving them.

Please add your name as a cosponsor to H.R.2407 –
for the children.

For more information, visit https://nwttac.dci-palestine.org/
and https://iakn.us/children


HR 2407 Action Guides

Telling Congress that PALESTINE MATTERS: some tips

(If Americans Knew is a news and information organization, not a lobbying resource, but we’ve collected a few tips and suggestions to help you get started if you’re new to advocacy. If you have tips or experiences to share – things that worked or things that didn’t work – please send them to us at localvolunteers@ifamericansknew.org.)

It’s not enough anymore to vote once every two or four years. We can’t assume our representatives know what we want them to do, and we can’t expect them to do what’s right. Most likely, they are being pressured by lobbies, their party, and noisy special interest groups.

If you’ve spent any time around the Israel/Palestine issue, you know how true this is – AIPAC, the Israel lobby, is one of the most powerful advocacy orgs in Washington.

Israel lobbyists and partisans aren’t going to give Congress members the facts. We need to do that.

Email and Twitter are typical ways to make our voices heard – but they’re not the most effective way. Some of us need to take it to the next level!


Get to know the issue and the legislation

The issue:

Once you’ve decided to step up your support for Palestinian children, the first task is to get to know what the kids are facing. You can read reports here and here. A few facts you may want to memorize or keep in your pocket:

The legislation:

You don’t need a deep understanding of constitutional law – just the basics of this bill. You can read about H.R.2407 here and here.

Has your rep already cosponsored the bill? Find out here. (If yes, just drop a note to thank them!)

Is your rep a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs that is studying the bill? Find out here. (If yes, they have a say in whether the bill lives or dies.)


Decide what you want to say

It’s a great idea to prepare an “elevator speech” – what you’d say if you had the opportunity to talk for 1-2 minutes about Palestinian children. What are you fighting for, in a couple of sentences? What will be the result if this bill is not passed? Why is it important to all Americans? And what do you want listeners to do? (Yup, all that in under 2 minutes!)

Consider finding a personal connection that makes you care about H.R.2407. Do you have or know a child who was traumatized or bullied? Have you ever been treated unjustly by the system? Or does this issue just break your heart – as many hearts are broken over the situation at the US/Mexico border?

We have a fact sheet you can use if you’re short on time, as well as a phone script and other materials. It’s fine to have a script for a phone call – just try to speak as naturally as possible.


Make the call

According to Emily Ellsworth, a six-year veteran of Congressional assisting, phone calls give a lot more bang for the buck than social media and email.

Engage the staffer as you talk – make it more of a conversation than a lecture.

Any individual who makes a call (call the district offices, not DC offices) is doing well – but when possible, a coordinated effort can make a real impression. A large number of calls will get more attention.


Calling etiquette

When you call, inform the person on the other end that you have a message for them to convey to your rep. They’ll ask for your address, and then you can say your piece. Be sure to finish with The Ask: “please tell the Congressman/woman to cosponsor H.R.2407.” Always be polite and respectful.


The more, the merrier

Why keep this to yourself? Find some friends and acquaintances willing to take just a few minutes to call. Make sure everyone has a fact sheet and start dialing. Depending on how many volunteers you have, you might disrupt your Congress member’s district office for half an hour, or half a day. Coordinate with others (orgs and community groups that care about human rights), and take one hour each. Share the district office phone number on social media to make it easy for people to call.

When a district office gets a large quantity of phone calls on the same topic, you can bet they will notice. The staff will tell the legislator which direction the callers want him/her to go on the issue. The rep may release a position statement or move on a bill – or not, but we have to try! At a minimum, you get the issue on his/her radar. That’s a victory!


Teachable moment

If your call is answered by an intern, they may not be familiar with the issue. That’s a great opportunity to educate. Ask if they have a minute to hear some background, and then give your elevator speech. And/or offer to send them a link to a really good article.

Or you can ask to talk to a senior staffer who may be more well-versed about the legislator’s position on the issue.


Time your action

When Palestine is in the news, that’s a great time to do something. Especially when Israel is doing something blatantly unjust (and TBH that’s pretty much every day), it’s a natural opportunity to advocate for justice.

Knowing when committees meet and other actions are scheduled for your bill is a big help (you can track the progress of bills here).

But also, anytime is a good time to make your voice heard – and you can call as often as you like. Remember, you are paying your rep’s salary. He/she works for you!


Nothing beats face-to-face

For those willing to go beyond the phone, an in-person meeting with your legislator’s staffer (or if you’re lucky, the legislator him/herself) is worth the effort.

Going as a group instead of alone can send a message about the importance of the issue. Decide ahead of time who is going to talk about what, and make sure everyone is at least somewhat familiar with the issue. (We have a visit script that you can use, or create your own.)

It’s generally recommended to request a meeting 2-4 weeks in advance; you can usually expect to get a maximum of 15 minutes.

Start by asking your rep (or staffer), “Are you familiar with H.R.2407?” Find out what they know and what misunderstandings they might have (for example, they may think the bill is anti-Semitic or singles out Israel).

When it’s your turn to talk, use your elevator speech, and be sure to address these false impressions. (Even if they don’t mention antisemitism or singling out, they’re probably thinking it, so you should talk about it! Here’s a good discussion of the antisemitism myth, and one on singling out can be found in this article.)

You might want to bring a laptop and show one of the short films from the No Way To Treat a Child website as part of your presentation. Also bring a fact sheet on the topic to leave behind, and perhaps some more general info on the Palestinian issue (you might choose some of the many reports found here).

You may love your rep, or hate him/her, but now is not the time to talk politics. Stick to the topic, and focus on being persuasive and warm. Remember: your job is to educate and provide resources to empower your legislator to make the right choice (whether or not he/she uses it).

Be sure to get to The Ask: “will you cosponsor H.R.2407?”

Then listen. If your rep has genuine questions or concerns, keep the conversation going. If he/she shuts you down, you have a right to ask why.

Then listen some more – even if you get a flat No, you can gain valuable insight into how your rep thinks. It may come in handy in the future. Your objective isn’t necessarily to get to Yes, but to educate. Don’t argue – we have the moral high ground on this issue: the facts speak for themselves. After we state the facts clearly, it’s up to the rep to do the right thing.

At the end of the session, thank them, get their business card (that way you may get a more direct phone or email) and be sure to ask for a photo!

Then, a few days later, drop them a thank-you email – including answers to any questions they raised. Offer to be a resource if they ever need info on the issue.


Other opportunities

It’s a great idea to go to town hall meetings or other events where you’ll be able to see your rep in person. Again, there is power in numbers. (Check your rep’s website regularly and get on their mailing list so you can hear about these events.) If nothing is scheduled, you should remind the staffer that your rep ought to hold regular public meetings so he/she can connect with the constituents. Use good “bird dog” techniques.

If you are going to see your rep in person, have a very short statement/Ask ready (and someone to video tape) and do your best to get a minute of face-to-face time. (See how IfNotNow folks have been doing this recently.) You can also talk to staffers at these events.

If they’re willing to go on record at all with a comment – even a negative comment – that’s a victory. It gives us a roadmap for moving forward:

  • if they’re favorable, we pressure them in a positive way to become a cosponsor (and then keep the positive pressure going so they don’t chicken out!)
  • if they’re against the bill, we put them in the pressure cooker (we’ll be offering ideas for this soon)
  • if they’re undecided, we educate them

Here’s something else you can do: take a few minutes to turn your elevator speech into an op-ed or letter to the editor for your local newspaper. Your Ask in this case will be a request for your community to join you in contacting your rep. And you can bet your rep will see the article – they’re always scanning the local papers to see how constituents feel. (With a two-year term, there’s always an election right around the corner!)

If you want to write a snail-mail letter, here are some tips from the National Confectioners Association. You can find your rep’s individual address here, or just use the main address,

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

We will be sharing other ideas from groups that have experience advocating for Palestine. You might dream up something great too – try it and tell us how it goes!

Remember, it’s up to us to change the conversation. Your efforts are key to your district, and our collective efforts will make a difference.

(When you call your rep, it’s best to speak from your heart, but feel free to use this phone script if you tend to get tongue-tied or forgetful under pressure! The information below is from Defense For Children International – Palestine, and is available here and here. More detail about H.R.2407 is available here.)

Hi, I’d like to send a message to Congressman/woman _________.

(They will ask for your name and address.)

I’d like to talk about H.R.2407. The purpose of this bill is to prevent US aid money from being used to incarcerate Palestinian children. I hate to think that my country is enabling children anywhere in the world to be imprisoned or tortured.

Israel is the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes 500-700 children in military courts each year. Most are charged with throwing stones, and may get sentenced up to 10-20 years.

Many plead guilty because they are threatened or tortured.

These are violations of international law and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

And it’s being done with my tax dollars. We give Israel $3.8 billion a year.


I want Congressman/woman _______________ to cosponsor H.R.2407, so at least we stop subsidizing these policies.


I don’t care what their nationality is, no child should experience what these Palestinian children are experiencing at the hands of Israeli soldiers.


H.R.2407 can not be dismissed as “anti-Semitic.” Americans are beginning to recognize the facts about Israel’s human rights abuses, and we believe criticism is absolutely in order, and it’s absolutely not anti-Semitic.


Would you please pass this information along to the Congressman/woman for me?

(Here is a script that you might want to use when you talk to your Congress member’s staffer. It’s best to speak from your heart, but feel free to use this if you tend to get tongue-tied or forgetful under pressure! The information below is from Defense For Children International – Palestine, and is available here.)

(When you visit your rep, it’s best to speak from your heart, but feel free to use this script if you tend to get tongue-tied or forgetful under pressure! The information below is from Defense For Children International – Palestine, and is available here. More detail about H.R.2407 is available here. If you can, bring a laptop so you can show the staffer a short film while you’re there – they’re listed below. This presentation will take about 5 minutes.)

Be sure to bring along materials to hand to the staffer! We suggest this factsheet, and this and this – all downloadable and printable. (Write your name and phone number on each page!)

SCRIPT:

Thanks for taking the time to see me. I’d like to tell you about a foreign policy bill that I think Congressman/woman _______ should cosponsor, H.R.2407. The purpose of this bill is to prevent US aid money from being used to incarcerate Palestinian children.

I care about children. I’m a (mom, dad, grandparent, etc. – or whatever is meaningful to you). I hate that my country is enabling children anywhere in the world to be imprisoned or tortured.

Israel is the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes 500-700 children in military courts each year. Since 2000, at least 8,000 Palestinian children have been arrested and prosecuted by Israel. Most of them are charged with throwing stones, which can land them in jail for up to 10-20 years. Does that sound extreme to you?

According to UNICEF, ill-treatment in the Israeli military detention system is “widespread, systematic, and institutionalized.” About 75% of the children experience violence, and 97% are denied access to a lawyer.

The majority of Palestinian children are taken from their homes in the middle of the night by heavily armed Israeli soldiers. Many children plead guilty even though they’ve done nothing wrong – because they are threatened or tortured, or they are forced to sign a confession written in Hebrew which they don’t understand.

More than half of Palestinian child prisoners are transferred to facilities inside Israel, which violates the Fourth Geneva Convention. Many parents are unable to get permits to Israel, so the children have few or no family visits. Can you imagine how scary that would be?

This whole procedure traumatizing to these children. Many of them are never the same again. They have trouble sleeping and concentrating, are afraid to go outside, act out, or don’t want to talk to anyone. This is happening to 500-700 Palestinian children every year.


And it’s being done with my tax dollars. I’m aware that we give Israel $3.8 billion a year. Did you know that? What do you think this treatment does to kids in the long run? (Let them answer.)


(Here, say something about how all of this makes you feel – put yourself in the shoes of the parents or grandparents.)

Israel is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, so it has an obligation to abide by its statutes:

  • Detention must only be used as a last resort
  • Children must not be subjected to violence
  • They must have access to a lawyer and their parents
  • They must only be arrested during the day
  • They must never be coerced or threatened
  • They must never be blindfolded or painfully restrained
  • They must be informed of their right to silence
  • Interrogations must be video-taped

I want Congressman/woman _______________ to know about this situation, and I want him/her to cosponsor H.R.2407.

It would be shameful to not attach his/her name to this bill. This is about the safety of children. I don’t care what their nationality is, no child should experience what these Palestinian children are experiencing at the hands of Israeli soldiers.

What do you think? (Let them answer.) Don’t you think Congressman/woman ______________ should get on board with it? (Let them answer.)

H.R.2407 can not be dismissed as “anti-Semitic.” Americans are beginning to recognize the facts about Israel’s human rights abuses, and we believe criticism is absolutely in order, and it’s absolutely not anti-Semitic.

We want to see H.R.2407 passed because children deserve better than what Israel is giving.

Would you please pass all of this along to the Congressman/woman for me?

(The staffer might ask you some questions for clarification or for more detail. It’s ok if you don’t know some answers. Just tell them, “I don’t know all the details, but I know it’s wrong to wake a child up, drag him off to prison, and torture him. I’d be happy to find out that detail and get back in touch with you.”)

Then, time-permitting, view one of these short videos with them. (Choose the one that you think is most impactful.)

This film is 7 minutes long, this one is 3 minutes, this one is just 2 minutes. (You can even show clips from this IAK article.)

For more information, visit https://iakn.us/children and https://nwttac.dci-palestine.org/


Israel-Palestine Timeline

Israel-Palestine Timeline: The human cost of the conflict records photos and information for each person who has been killed in the ongoing violence.

History of the Israel Lobby


Alison Weir's book Against Our Better Judgement: How the U.S. was used to create Israel brings together meticulously sourced evidence to outline the largely unknown history of U.S.-Israel relations.


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IsraelPalestineNews.org


Information largely missing from U.S. news reports. Read the Blog


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