Activists Target Chicago’s Support for Torture with Satirical PSA “Chicago and Petach Tikva: Never Better Sisters!”

On February 22nd, activists with the Palestine Solidarity Group – Chicago released a fake public service announcement exposing Chicago’s continuing support for torture through its sister city relationship with Petach Tikva, Israel.  The video was produced after a police board ruled that former police Chief Burge will still receive his monthly $3000 pension, despite currently serving a four and a half year sentence for lying about the torture of over one hundred Chicagoans.  The video draws a connection between the Chicago Police Department’s support for Burge and the recent imprisonment of Palestinian activist Ameer Makhoul.  On January 30th, Makhoul was sentenced to nine years based on a confession obtained while Makhoul was imprisoned in Chicago’s sister city Petach Tikva.  Makhoul has insisted that his confession was false and the result of the torture he endured in Petach Tikva.  This video is a part of the Palestine Solidarity Group’s ongoing Drop Petach Tikva campaign which aims to pressure the Chicago Sister Cities program to end it’s relationship with Petach Tikva.

“It’s clear why Chicago and Petach Tikva are sister cities.  Both feature great views, beautiful weather, and unbelievable human rights records,” says an announcer on the video. “Here in the Windy City, former police Chief Jon Burge was convicted for lying about using torture to elicit false confessions from over 100 Chicagoans.  But don’t worry, Chicago, even from his jail cell, Burge will still receive his pension!  Meanwhile, Petach Tikva is the proud home of one of Israel’s largest prisons.  In this jail, prisoners are routinely tortured, like Palestinian activist Ameer Makhoul.”

The Drop Petach Tikva campaign is a project of the Palestine Solidarity Group Chicago (PSG) and the Chicago International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN).  On July 20, 2010, the Board of the Sister Cities Program wrote the campaign saying, “Ending a partnership with a city in the Chicago Sister Cities International family because of its history is contrary to the spirit both of Sister Cities International and our own program.”  In letters sent to all of the Board members on January 4, 2011, PSG and IJAN responded saying, “… our request is not driven by historical maltreatment or wrongs; rather, our call to end ties is premised upon ongoing human rights violations in Petach Tikva, Israel.”  To date, the Chicago Sister Cities Program Board has refused to even meet with PSG and IJAN to discuss the evidence that a relationship with Petach Tikva violates the principles of the Sister Cities International Program.