PSG & IJAN Request Chicago Sister Cities Board Meeting on Petach Tikva

PSG and its campaign partner, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), have sent letters to all members of the Chicago Sister City Program Board requesting a meeting to discuss the Chicago Sister Cities Program refusal to drop Petach Tikva, Israel from the program. A sample of the letter is reproduced below.

The first Jewish-only settlement in historic Palestine, and known in Israel as the “mother of all settlements,” Petach Tikva symbolizes the dispossession and colonization of the Palestinian homeland and is built on the remains of depopulated Palestinian villages whose descendants are denied the right to return home. Petach Tikva is also home to one of the largest interrogation and detention centers in Israel, where Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip are illegally transferred for interrogation and routinely subjected to ill treatment and torture.

Including a city in the program that practices discrimination and violates human rights on a daily basis undermines the goals of the Sister Cities Program, i.e. promotion of peace, respect, understanding and cooperation.

January 4, 2011

Mr./Ms. Board Member
Chicago Sister Cities International
78 E. Washington Street, 4th Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60602

Dear Board Member,

This letter is in response to the Board of Directors July 20, 2010 correspondence wherein the Board flatly denied the Palestine Solidarity Group – Chicago’s (“PSG”) request that Chicago Sister Cities International end its relationship with Petach Tikva.  We urge you to reconsider.

Since our last correspondence, the Chicago chapter of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) has joined the campaign, and PSG IJAN, are indeed calling for Chicago Sister Cities to drop ties with Petach Tikva. We are aware that this is not a decision undertaken lightly.  As such, we renew our request that the Board meet with PSG and IJAN to engage in a mutually respectful dialogue regarding our request.

Your letter evidences a fundamental misunderstanding of PSG’s point of view. In the fourth paragraph of your letter you state, “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.”  This request is not driven by historical maltreatment or wrongs; rather, our call to end ties is premised upon ongoing human rights violations in the Municipality of Petach Tikva, Israel.

The late President Eisenhower initiated the U.S. “People-to-People” program, forerunner of the U.S. sister-city movement, with the intention of fostering communication between people of the world.  To that end, he stated,  “If we are going to take advantage of the assumption that all people want peace, then the problem is for people to get together and to leap governments … to work out not one method but thousands of methods by which people can gradually learn a little bit more of each other.”

In 1967, when Sister Cities International (SCI) was founded, the intention was to “promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation — one individual, one community at a time.”  We commend the Chicago Sister Cities international program for fostering respect, understanding and cooperation in becoming the most active Sister Cities program in the world.  However, including a city in the program that practices discrimination and violates human rights on a daily basis undermines peace, respect, understanding and cooperation.

As members of the Chicago community we renew our request that you adhere to your founding principles and agree to meet with PSG and IJAN to further discuss this human rights issue in the spirit of mutual understanding and in furtherance of peace.

Very Truly Yours,

Drop Petach Tikva Campaign

Palestine Solidarity Group – Chicago
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network