Monthly Archives: June 2016

Labor for Palestine: Against Apartheid, For International Solidarity (Western Mass Labor for Palestine brochure)

View in searchable PDF format: 2016 — WM LFP Brochure.OCR

Screenshot 2016-06-29 16.34.41

Emad Khalil’s story as a Gazan worker in Israel (Mondoweiss)

Mondoweiss

Emad Khalil’s story as a Gazan worker in Israel

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Skin tanned and hands calloused from working forty-two years under the sun, Emad Khalil, a sixty-one year old retired laborer, sits in front of me. For thirty of those years, he worked in Israel. His story documents a tremendous change in attitude and policy towards Palestinian freedom of movement, employment opportunities, healthcare, and relations between Palestinians and Israelis.

After Egypt lost control of Gaza following the 1967 war, work opportunities in the latter were limited by poor infrastructure and a collapsing economy. The closest opportunity for work was in Israel, as it was prior to the First Intifada; only then, unlike now, ports and crossings did not restrict movement. Emad describes:

“I started working at the age of sixteen as a builder’s assistant. Work was available for everybody back then. You just registered at the work office and either they called you or you checked every couple of days. You would most likely have a job in building or farming. You gave them your ID and they did the rest. They would contact your company for the legal work and get your health insurance in case any medical assistance was needed.”

Emad worked for an Israeli company under an Arab Jewish supervisor. Poverty, lack of education, and inadequate infrastructure strategically paved the way for Palestinian labour demand across the border. Most of the employees were Palestinians of similar socio-economic background. Like Emad, they were illiterate. Education was considered unimportant compared to more immediate financial concerns. Few went to university though workers were encouraged and even rewarded for learning Hebrew.

Emad describes a forgotten period where Palestinians and Israelis, in the wake of growing prosperity, recognized their similarities, and even socially engaged outside the workplace. His relationship with his first boss was such that he attended Emad’s brother’s wedding.

“For once I thought that we could live in peace and a better economy,” Emad reflected. “People coexisted somehow. The politicians, however, did not like that.”

Emad worked for his first boss for five years. In 1976, the business was sold and Emad picked up work where he could. For a short period of time, he worked as a fruit picker for a farm that had Arabic inscription at the entrance. When he told his father and uncle about this peculiarity, they informed him that the farm had originally belonged to his great grandfather. Such experiences were not uncommon.

Life after the Paris Protocol

During the First Intifada in 1987, a large-scale boycott campaign began in response to clashes between Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and Palestinian protesters in the West Bank. The impact of the Boycott was dampened by the collapsing economy in Gaza. Workers grew reluctant to leave Israel.

The changes imposed on the Palestinian economy by the Paris Protocol on Economic Relations, an agreement signed by Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) in 1994 and included in the Oslo II Accord in September 1995, led to irrevocable decline in Gaza. The protocol included Israeli regulation of customs, value-added taxes, purchase taxes, integration of the Palestinian and Israeli economies, and the besiegement of Gaza’s borders. Palestinian workers were no longer able to cross the borders without being subjected to manual checks by armed border patrol officers and long waits at checkpoints. A journey that had taken Emad thirty minutes became an unpredictable wait of up to eight hours. Exhausted and demoralised workers began to lose work as the relations between the workers and their Israeli employers deteriorated.

The changes imposed by the Paris Protocol led to an approximate36.1 % decline in economic output from Gaza between 1992 and 1996. Workers faced increasing levels of unemployment, returning to Gaza with few job prospects.

Robbed of sight

Despite the difficulties in obtaining a job and the barriers imposed by checkpoints, Emad continued to work in Israel until 2000 when his thirty-year career came to a devastating end.

“I was on a construction site in the late winter of 2000. We were building a wedding hall near Jerusalem. My job was to nail the wooden boards in order for the other workers to use them. The nail gun was malfunctioning , so I had to do it manually with a hammer. The rain from the night before had wet the boards, which weakened them. I picked up a nail, grabbed the hammer and hit it, but the nail was too thin and snapped. The fine tip of the nail flipped into my eye and suddenly everything turned dark. I started shouting to the others. One worker heard me shouting and saw blood coming from my eye. He called an ambulance and escorted me to the hospital.”

Upon arrival to the hospital, Emad was required to show his identification card to check he had adequate medical insurance prior to treatment. He was then taken for surgery to remove the nail from his eye. Sadly, the operation was unsuccessful and Emad lost the majority of his sight in that eye. He was told that he needed to schedule another operation but could go home in the interim. He called the work office to arrange the surgery through his employer, who was legally responsible for the provision of his health insurance.

“The employer avoided covering my surgery because the costs were too high, so I had to call a lawyer and file a case to get my rights. I could only attend the first court session as I was deemed a security risk and subsequently denied permission to travel to Israel. I worked in Israel for thirty years and suddenly my life was made insecure. Now I am in Gaza, jobless, blind and denied medical treatment.”

The lack of access to the medical care, to which he was entitled, has left Emad permanently disabled, unemployed and unable to afford university tuition fees for his four children. Denying him permission to attend court in Israel was in direct violation of the Universal Declaration of Human rights (article 13) which states the right of freedom of movement within states.

The human rights group B’Tselem also argues that the restrictions on ill, wounded and pregnant Palestinians seeking acute medical care is in contravention of international law which states that medical professionals and medical patients must be granted open passage.

A future towards permanent disengagement?

Since the imposition of the Israeli siege on Gaza in 2007, there have been three major assaults and numerous smaller indiscriminate attacks, with the last in 2014 claiming the lives of over 2,250 Palestinians and displacing over 500,000. According to a United Nations report in 2015, it is predicted that with the on-going economic crisis, Gaza may be uninhabitable by 2020. Israel’s long term strategy for permanent disengagement from Gaza seems entirely plausible given the growing trends of economic restrictions, cyclical warfare, and severe cuts on fuel provisions and infrastructure. Emad Khalil’s story is a sample of history in which, outside the domain of political maneuvering, there may have been an alternative road of shared social and economic prosperity for Palestinian and Israeli citizens.

About Mohammed Saleem

Mohammed Saleem is a Palestinian writer living in Gaza.

Other posts by .

– See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/06/khalils-worker-israel/?utm_source=Mondoweiss+List&utm_campaign=3e40a65923-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b86bace129-3e40a65923-398519677&mc_cid=3e40a65923&mc_eid=fe7405a730#sthash.uYrBs0rh.dpuf

Intersecting Picket Lines: Free Speech, Palestine, and the CUNY Contract (Viewpoint Magazine)

Viewpoint Magazine

Intersecting Picket Lines: Free Speech, Palestine, and the CUNY Contract

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“Die-In/Vigil for Ferguson and Gaza,” John Jay College/CUNY, October 8, 2014

On June 20, five days after the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) teachers and staff union reached a tentative contract agreement with the City University of New York administration, the Board of Trustees (BoT) convened a public hearing on a proposed policy for “Freedom of Expression and Expressive Conduct.” This Orwellian measure could criminalize any unsanctioned meetings, speak-outs, and marches on CUNY campuses, and by the CUNY lawyer’s own admission, was tailored to counter recent Black Lives Matter and Palestine solidarity actions. At the packed hearing, three dozen students, faculty, staff, and alumni railed against the BoT, demanding that the proposed policy be scrapped.

Even though the new contract was brokered only after the PSC threatened to strike, and establishes concrete gains for various constituencies, it’s by no means a radical agreement. Some members have already vowed to pursue a no-vote. The 10.41% salary increase (compounded for 2010-2017) doesn’t surpass inflation, the three-year adjunct appointment system (instead of reappointments each semester) won’t apply to most adjuncts who teach the majority of CUNY classes, and management will be able to hire a new coterie of star faculty with exorbitant salaries (call it the Paul Krugmanization of CUNY), thus wrenching the two-tier wage disparity gap even wider.

It’s no coincidence that the CUNY administration delayed negotiations so that the PSC membership vote to ratify the contract and the BoT June 27 vote to curtail free speech would both occur when most of the CUNY community is dispersed for the summer. However, because the PSC has fought for a contract along narrow demands, in the face of increasing political crises at CUNY – over labor austerity, free speech, U.S. militarism, and Palestine solidarity – the union leadership is now scrambling to mount a broad, multi-sectional opposition to a policy that would inhibit the right to amass a picket line.

This tenuous situation demands that we rethink the strategies that guide labor organizing on college campuses. In preparation since 9/11, the CUNY administration and New York government have now fully entwined the languages of anti-racism, law and order, and fiscal responsibility to enforce a shock doctrine of structural underfunding and repression. But if a defense of free speech and anti-imperialism is fused with the struggles of organized labor, a new opening for a broad and combined struggle can emerge. If CUNY’s movements are to reverse this assault, they’ll have to force the union to move past the economism of their contract campaign and embrace struggles that speak to the lives of their members, New York, and the wider world.

City University in the World

CUNY is the largest public urban university in the United States. It employs fifty thousand teachers and campus staff in several unions, and relies on unwaged intellectual work by over half a million students, mostly working poor immigrant youth from around the world. Both the wealthy elite and social movements have long recognized CUNY’s institutional role as a social bellwether. At various points in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the university has become a primary site of economic, social, and ideological restructuring – as well as resistance – in which struggles over CUNY became epicenters for national, and even global, conflicts.

We see this dynamic, for example, in the early 1940s, when the Rapp-Coudert Committee held closed-door disciplinary hearings to fire more than fifty CUNY educators (predominantly Jewish) in the College Teachers Union who were suspected of being Communists, a few years after several dozen CUNY students and teachers had returned from fighting fascism in the Spanish Civil War. Rapp-Coudert laid the groundwork for Senator Joseph McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) to wreak havoc over a generation of radical lives.

CUNY again became a fulcrum upon which the U.S. state and capital, reeling from the 1975 defeat in Vietnam and the resulting economic crisis, extorted concessions from the working class via the reduction of social programs like free college education. After Black, Puerto Rican, and Asian students-led campus strikes in the late sixties and early seventies transformed CUNY with ethnic and gender studies and Open Admissions, President Gerald Ford insisted that New York City impose tuition at CUNY and lay off contingent faculty en masse in order to escape from a manufactured fiscal crisis whichFord’s cabinet reframed as irresponsible self-indulgence: like “a wayward daughter hooked on heroin… You don’t give her $100 a day to support her habit. You make her go cold turkey to break her habit.”

Campus War Zone

More recently, the post-9/11 relationship between CUNY and U.S. imperialism has developed to the point that the university is now a prominent target for both military recruitment and counterinsurgency. Since the mid-2000s, as the United States became mired in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, recruiters’ presence intensified at CUNY colleges, especially after the 2008 economic crisis. In November 2011, days after the Occupy Wall Street eviction, the CUNY administration imposed a five-year annual tuition increase by approving a police assault on peaceful protestors, and then evacuating an entire campus building to hold the vote. During this same year, CUNY reviewed a policy paper calling for the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) to be re-embedded at CUNY in order to diversify its officers.

Then in fall 2013, former military general David Petraeus began teaching a CUNY class called “The Coming North American Decades,” and ROTC set up shop in three other CUNY campuses with little to no regard for campus governance procedures. Although Medgar Evers College successfully removed ROTC, it remains at City College and York College. Meanwhile, student activists were surveilled, arrested, and suspended as campus organizing spaces were seized. As journalist Peter Rugh put it, “America’s most diverse university was turned into a war zone.”

During this post-9/11 period I’ve briefly sketched out, the political situation at CUNY also dramatically shifted in terms of solidarity with Palestine and opposition to the surveillance of Muslim students, two issues which began to coalesce on CUNY campuses as the movement against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan waned.

In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a global call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complied with international law and universal principles of human rights. Critiques across CUNY and New York City of the Israeli military’s unchecked aggression on Gaza heightened during Israel’s winter 2008, November 2012, and summer 2014 carpet bombing campaigns. All funded by $8.5 million U.S. government dollars a day, these three conflicts altogether killed 3,900 Palestinians and 90 Israelis, left many more wounded, and demolished social infrastructure (such as hospitals, schools, electricity and water supplies) along similarly asymmetrical figures in an effort at total destruction of daily life in Gaza.

This carnage could have potentially felt distant, were it not for Zionist organizations, college administrators, and government officials’ more local attempts of repression on CUNY campuses. If student revolts once aspired to “bring the war home,” more recently this pro-Israel coalition has done so differently in its attempts to fire and suppress CUNY faculty and studentswho dared to critically teach, learn, write, and organize for Palestine. Instead of being silenced, Palestinians and their anti-imperialist accomplices at CUNY (in groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine and CUNY for Palestine) – many of them women, LGBTQ, and gender-nonconforming folk – began to more insistently share stories of what people in Gaza and the West Bank endured under the U.S.-backed Israeli military.

CUNY faculty and graduate students also helped lead a wave of several national academic associations and unions passing BDS resolutions against the Israeli government and academic institutions. The CUNY Graduate Center’s own student government passed an academic boycott in April 2016 after a two-year campaign. These boycott resolutions were implicit strikes against occupation, understood as clearly drawn picket lines for academic labor.

Surveillance and Selective Anti-racism

Links between wars against Arabs and Muslims abroad and at home also deepened when, in the fall of 2011, journalists exposed that the NYPD had conducted surveillance of Muslim student groups at eight CUNY schools from 2003 to 2006. Another NYPD spying operation would begin in March 2011 at Brooklyn College. An informant embedded herself in Muslim friendships circles, in Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and in a “Unity Coalition,” which organized SJP, the Black Student Union, Puerto Rican Alliance, Dominican Student Movement, and other left student groups. This resulted in fall 2015 revelations of the entrapment of two young women in a fabricated ISIS terrorist plot.

CUNY professor Jeanne Theoharis warned in the Intercept,

[T]hese tactics are not renegade actions. They are consistent with the NYPD’s and the FBI’s approach to Muslim communities after 9/11. They reveal how an “investigation” becomes a perch from which to spy on a community for years, how politically active and religiously conservative students become targets, and how efforts to form coalitions between students of color become suspect.

I draw this chronology to situate why, in the last year, CUNY has suddenly become an epicenter of struggle around educational austerity, “expressive conduct”-policing, and BDS. This history helps to explain why in fall 2015, as the PSC organized civil disobedience and rallies, and mobilized for a strike vote, Cuomo and NY legislators suddenly proposed a half-billion dollar state funding cut to CUNY’s budget, harkening back to our 1975 emergency status.

Based on a letter by the Zionist Organization of America that cited a skewed series of “anti-Semitic” events at CUNY (defined only with regard to Jewish students, not to Arab students who are also Semitic), the NY Senate announced in March 2016 that they would “deny additional funding for CUNY senior schools until it is satisfied that the administration has developed a plan to guarantee the safety of students of all faiths.” Even though state funding was ultimately restored to CUNY, the irony, of course, was that this massive gash in the budget would have also hurt Jewish students, faculty, and staff.

Nevertheless, a self-described CUNY task force on anti-Semitism called pro-BDS Professor Sarah Schulman and SJP student leaders into closed-door disciplinary meetings reminiscent of the Rapp-Coudert Committee and the rise of McCarthyism to underscore a “Palestine Exception to Free Speech.” In the last few weeks, Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced a bill to specifically attack individuals, student groups, and institutions that advocate BDS. The CUNY Board of Trustees also seized the momentum to introduce the policy on “Freedom of Expression and Expressive Conduct.”

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PSC civil disobedience outside CUNY Central administrators’ offices, November 4, 2015 (Photo credit: Erik McGregor)

Intersecting Picket Lines

The government and administration have fused these crises into a new political economy at CUNY – we can use this shift to meaningfully connect our struggles, not keep them isolated in retreat. The PSC repeatedly vocalizes its defense of CUNY’s mission to provide quality education to working-class people of all colors and backgrounds. However, the union has maintained a limited contract focus that is already hampered by enduring adjunct inequalities, while not taking a public stand on these anti-BDS bills, McCarthyist hearings, student surveillance, and the policy on “Freedom of Expression and Expressive Conduct.” In so doing, the union has one arm tied behind its back, right when it could further expand upon a recent landslide 92% strike authorization and subsequent contract offer.

This moment is haunted by the old racist song repurposed by Paul Gilroy to examine race and class under neoliberalism, that “There Ain’t no Black in the Union, Jack.” In other words, labor movements are always at risk of eliding concurrent struggles that affect its most marginalized workers and support bases. These issues are not being officially recognized by the PSC as part of our picket line, even if they have become a central means by which many of us organize as laborers, and have pivoted the directions of our university’s institutional life.

More widely, a class re-composition is taking place to gather various kinds of workers – athletes, artists, dockworkers, educators, healthcare workers, journalists, retail workers, scientists, students, and beyond – under the “one big union” of BDS to coordinating rank-and-file cross-industry actions that link apartheid and imperialism abroad with austerity and policing at home. Because CUNY students and workers have had to vigorously defend our right to speak on Palestine and on the surveillance of Muslims, we’ve radicalized the contours of a new free speech movement that is concerned with different “trigger warnings” of Israeli apartheid and Homeland Security on our campuses.

Our movements can learn to both “oppose and propose.” We can demand a fair CUNY contract while taking a stand against political repression. We can oppose ROTC military science programs, while expanding resources for valuable spaces like the CUNY Graduate Center’s Middle East and Middle Eastern American Center (MEMEAC) that are at risk of being underfunded to death. We can protest when rape-apologist IDF soldiers are invited to speak on campuses, as we host the annual Palestinian students’ Right 2 Educationtour nationwide. We can refuse to cooperate our academic labor with Israeli universities, and form new partnerships with Palestinian universities, asRabab Abdulhadi at San Francisco State University has initiated with An-Najah and Birzeit.

Like our unions (and universities), BDS is a means, not an end. Moreover, the protection of free speech is not to be decorously enshrined by any top-down policy, but directionally honed and pushed beyond what the bosses and lawmakers deem permissible. Only through these intersecting picket lines can we address all the aspects of a contract campaign within a larger struggle to transform CUNY. In the words of Tidal Magazine, an anti-colonial movement journal,

Boycott is a necessary yet limited tactic. Each “win” is but a small part of a coordinated exertion and intensification of pressure. The value of Boycott lies as much in the economic damage it could do to the target as it does in the conversations, bonds, and spaces that are formed in the process of organizing. These are the foundations of any future liberation, beyond Boycott and beyond BDS itself.

City University of New York students, faculty, and staff, like the U.S. labor movement, are stuck between two forms of class composition: one that is bound by parochial bread-and-butter demands, and one in which our actions can reverberate around the world as they transform our working and learning conditions here. Which side are we on? Improvements over wages, benefits, and job security are real advances against the university and state elite, but they cannot be divorced from these interrelated conflicts that have catapulted CUNY into a local/global battleground.

We must collectively ask why the PSC and many other campus unions – as their leadership and membership are currently configured – have not been adequate forces for making such political demands. But perhaps struggles at CUNY can experiment with strategies to escape this impasse, finding ways to link the union to other struggles, to wider communities, to build associational power. In these broader coalitions, and relying on deep community ties, PSC members can urge the union to refuse to ratify a contract until management desists from its efforts at austerity, curtailment of civil liberties, and endorsement of U.S. and Israeli occupations, which are all integral facets of our workplaces. During the past year, we mobilized for a strike which garnered wide support across the university and New York City. We can use this momentum to strike at the heart of empire, and in the process, help redirect the course of social movement unionism.

***

On June 23, half an hour after this article was published, Politico announced a statement by CUNY that “A proposed policy will be considered by the Board of Trustees at a later time, following additional consultation and discussion.” Meanwhile, The Nation reported that Governor Cuomo continues to pursue a BDS Blacklist, in a clear violation of the First Amendment. Later in the evening, the Professional Staff Congress Delegate Assembly voted 111-11 to approve the contract as it stands for ratification by the union membership.

is an archivist, doctoral student, educator, and organizer at the City University of New York, a collective member of Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative, and a co-founding participant in the Free University of New York City. Conor researches twentieth and twenty first-century literatures of social movements and urban freedom schools, and will be a 2016-2017 Scholar-in-Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Labor for Palestine Opposition to Gov. Cuomo’s Anti-BDS Blacklist, NY MTA Board Meeting

  • Marty Goodman (TWU Local 100) at 5:48 min.
  • Suzanne Adely (Labor for Palestine) at 8:10 min.
  • David Letwin (Jews for Palestinian Right of Return at 10:46 min.
  • John Mooney (TWU Local 100) at 13:22 min.(Written text of some statements, below video)

Marty Goodman (TWU 100)

My name is Marty Goodman. I am a retired Station Agent and a former TWU Local 100 Executive Board member.

I am here to oppose Governor Cuomo’s undemocratic gag act on State funding to supporters of the worldwide Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against apartheid Israel.

I, like many Jews, fervently support BDS. Israeli Occupation, terror and racism must go.

In 2003, I used vacation time to go to Nablus in the Israeli occupied Palestinian West Bank of Israel. I stayed with a Palestinian family. I protested occupation every day and roamed its’ bullet ridden streets, learning of outrage after outrage. When I left Nablus, the Palestinian father said, “Marty, you’re family now.”

I’ve learned that yet another illegal Israeli settlement is being built in Nablus, defying international law.

I’m angry as hell. I demand that the MTA reject and repudiate Cuomo’s gag order and the creation of a black list of BDS supporters!

Free speech is a first amendment right!

I also demand that this Board vote down purchases of IBM technology (p213) and Goldman Sachs services as underwriter for the Hudson Rail Yard’s “Trust Obligation” (p33).

Both IBM and Goldman are heavily involved in the Israeli garrison state.

MTA, DIVEST NOW!!!

Spend money on a decent contract for TWU Local 100. Transit workers need wage hikes above inflation to keep up with rising costs, extend maternity leave for women, improve medical care, and remove second class pay for new hires.

I say, Equality for all in Palestine!

End U.S. aid to apartheid Israel!

No to Cuomo’s McCarthyite gag act!

Long live BDS!

Suzanne Adely (Labor for Palestine)

Labor for Palestine, a national workers network, joins members of Transit Workers Union Local 100 who are here today calling on the MTA Board to reject compliance with Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order #157, an unconstitutional blacklist against those who support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

BDS is a global human rights movement which demands an end to the brutal Israeli military occupation of the 1967 territories; full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

It has gained growing momentum in recent years, particularly the wake of Israel’s massacre of 2200 Palestinians — including 500 children — in Gaza in 2014, and a 10-year high in Palestinian casualties in the West Bank in 2015.

These crimes reflect a system that veteran South African freedom fighters call “worse than apartheid.” That is why BDS is closely aligned to Black Lives Matter and other racial justice movements, and many of its supporters are Jews of conscience.

In the past two years alone, the BDS picket line has been embraced by West Coast longshore workers of the ILWU; thousands of academic workers in the United Auto Workers and American Federation of Teachers; the United Electrical Workers; and Connecticut AFL-CIO.

Such boycotts are protected First Amendment speech, and have been used to remedy injustice, from the segregated buses of Montgomery, Alabama, to the California grape fields, to apartheid South Africa. Today’s BDS movement is similarly unstoppable, for as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

In the judgment of history, the MTA Board will find no refuge in siding with apartheid Israel, or in the excuse that it was “just following orders.” The only legal and moral choice is to refuse complicity with Governor Cuomo’s new McCarthyism.

David Letwin (Jews for Palestinian Right of Return)

I’m speaking today on behalf of Jews for Palestinian Right of Return. We call on the MTA to refuse to cooperate with Governor Cuomo’s unconstitutional executive order 157 directing the state to blacklist any institution or organization that respects the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions picket line against apartheid Israel.

This illegal order is a disturbing assault on the right of free speech and expression. But it is also part of a broader campaign by authorities to intimidate into silence those who stand up for Palestinian human rights and who refuse to accept the legitimacy of a racist regime sustained though ethnic cleansing and dispossession.

The BDS call, which demands the end of the 1967 occupation, equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and right of return for Palestinian refugees, follows in the footsteps of earlier boycott campaigns against Jim Crow and apartheid South Africa. It marches hand in hand today with liberation movements like Black Lives Matter. In the spirit of those movements, we say to the members of the MTA Board of Directors: don’t do business with IBM and Goldman Sachs, both of which are deeply complicit with the apartheid Israeli regime, and don’t collude with Governor Cuomo’s witch-hunt against the growing worldwide BDS movement for justice and equality.

And the next time you see the governor, please tell him for us that his desperate attempt to muzzle BDS will only make it louder.

Thank you.

21 Palestinian journalists in Israeli prisons (Electronic Intifada)

Electronic Intifada

21 Palestinian journalists in Israeli prisons

Journalists

Palestinian journalists hold signs demanding freedom for detained colleague Samah Dweik, at a protest calling on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners, in Gaza City, on 5 June.

Mohammed AsadAPA images

The number of Palestinian journalists in Israeli prisons has risen to 21. This includes eight media workers arrested since the start of this year, prisoners rights group Addameer said on Monday.

Among them are Addameer’s own media coordinator Hassan Safadi and Omar Nazzal, a member of the general secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate.

Safadi was detained in May as he returned from an international conference in Tunisia, while Nazzal was detained in April as he was en route to a meeting of the European Federation of Journalists.

Both are among more than 700 persons in administrative detention, Israel’s British-colonial-era practice of imprisoning Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial.

Addameer says journalists “are being targeted due to their efforts to document Israeli violations, including its practices of land confiscation, house demolitions and movement restrictions on the Palestinian population.”

According to Addameer, the detained journalists are from a range of backgrounds and outlets. They also include Al-Quds University media studies students Amir Abu Hleil and Muhammad Atta, and Birzeit University lecturer Nasser Khaseb.

Among them too are Samah Dweik, who was one of the few journalists closely following the case of Palestinian schoolgirl Marah Bakir, imprisoned for allegedly stabbing an Israeli soldier.

Dweik, held in a prison where Israel has traditionally kept female political prisoners, is accused of “incitement,” a charge Israel frequently levels against Palestinian journalists and social media users.

In addition to Addameer’s own media coordinator, Israel has also jailed, since 2011, Salah Addin Awwad, the director of media for the Palestinian Prisoners Club.

Ongoing crackdown

In March, Israeli occupation forces launched a harsher crackdown on Palestinian journalists, after the government blamed media for inciting the upsurge in confrontations between Israeli occupation forces and Palestinians that began last October.

Israeli forces have physically assaulted and pepper sprayed journalists documenting their actions, abuses that have sometimes been captured on video.

An Israeli raid that shut down the Palestine Today TV station in Ramallah in March prompted sharp condemnation from the International Federation of Journalists.

“We cannot tolerate these continuous attacks from Israeli authorities to muzzle Palestinian press,” the group’s president Jim Boumelha said.

Earlier this month, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate appealed to the Newseum not to host Avital Leibovich, the Israeli military officer and spokesperson involved in the intentional killings of Palestinian journalists.

But the Washington, DC, institution that purports to uphold media freedoms rejected that call for solidarity, prompting protests and interruptions during Leibovich’s presentation.

About Labor for Palestine

cropped-cropped-Update-5.jpgLabor for Palestine was launched in April 2004 by New York City Labor Against the War and Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition to reclaim the legacy of working class solidarity with the Palestinian freedom struggle in the United States, as reflected in groundbreaking statements by the League of Revolutionary Black Workers in 1969, and wildcat strikes against the United Auto Workers (UAW) leadership’s support for Israel in 1973.

LFP endorses the 2005 Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) picket line, which demands an end to Israeli military occupation of the 1967 territories; full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

This includes support for calls from Palestinian trade unions, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), and other trade unionists around the world to refuse to handle Israeli cargo, and calling on labor bodies to divest from Israel Bonds and cut ties with the Histadrut, Israel’s racist labor federation.

Toward these ends, LFP has:


To get more information, invite a speaker, or start a chapter, please contact us here.

Donate to Labor for Palestine here.

Labor for Palestine Co-Conveners

Suzanne Adely, U.S.-MENA Global Labor Solidarity Network; Former Staff, Global Organizing Institute, UAW

Michael Letwin, former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325

Clarence Thomas, Co-Chair, Million Worker March; Executive Board, ILWU Local 10 (retired)

Jaime Veve, Transport Workers Union Local 100, NYC (retired)

UK academic union of over 100,000 members urges freedom for Imad Barghouthi, defense of Palestinians under attack (Samidoun)

Samidoun

UK academic union of over 100,000 members urges freedom for Imad Barghouthi, defense of Palestinians under attack

UCU

The UK’s University and College Union (UCU), representing over 100,000 members as the largest trade union and professional association for academics, lecturers, trainers, researchers and academic-related staff working in further and higher education throughout the UK, affirmed its support for the rights of Palestinian academics under attack in an emergency motion passed at itsCongress on 1-3 June.

The motion, which was passed with no opposition, notes the arrest, detention, and now charges against renowned Palestinian astrophysicist Imad Barghouthi, as well as the repression and threats against BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti; it instructs the union’s General Secretary to raise the matter with British officials and the Israeli embassy. The motion also commits UCU to distributing Samidoun’s call to action for Imad Barghouthi and fellow Palestinian prisoners, urging members to write to British and Israeli officials to call for his release.

The motion text:

Late motion for UCU Congress: Defend Palestinian academics

 Congress notes with dismay that:

  • Renowned Palestinian astrophysicist Professor Imad al-Barghouthi has been arrested and put in administrative detention for the second time; his release has been cancelled and he now faces trial.
  • Omar Barghouti, a founder of the BDS movement and graduate of Tel Aviv University, has had an effective travel ban placed on him, widely seen as a step towards revoking his residency rights, as Israeli ministers recently threatened.

Congress condemns these fundamental breaches of human rights, instructs the General Secretary to raise these matters urgently with the FCO and the Israeli Embassy, and agrees to circulate the call by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network* to all members, asking them to write to MPs and the Israeli embassy calling for Prof.Al-Barghouthi to be released immediately.

Congress further instructs the General Secretary to call on the Israeli authorities to end the use of administrative detention.

http://samidoun.net/2016/04/prominent-palestinian-astrophysicist-imad-barghouthi-detained-by-israeli-occupation-forces/

Barghouthi, 54, a professor at Al-Quds University and former employee of NASA in the United States, was arrested on 24 April at an Israeli military checkpoint as he traveled from Nabi Saleh to his home in Beit Rima. He was shortly ordered to three months’ administrative detention. Following an outcry by internationally prominent scientists, mathematicians and academics, his administrative detention without charge or trial was reduced to two months, and then his release ordered after one month. However, the Israeli military prosecution refused to release him and has now charged him in the military court system – where Palestinians are convicted at a rate greater than 99 percent – for posting on Facebook, labeling his posts “incitement.”

“My father isn’t the only scientist who has been persecuted by the Israeli occupation. There is a war on Palestinian education. I hope to see Israel held accountable for its cruel actions on an international level,” said Imad’s daughter, Duha Barghouthi, a new high school graduate whose graduation day came with her father imprisoned.

International organizations, scientists and academics have continued to call for Barghouthi’s immediate release, alongside other Palestinian prisoners.

Palestinian BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti has faced threats and attacks on his residency by high-ranking Israeli officials, both in public speeches and in practice, alongside attempts to criminalize BDS internationally being forwarded by the Israeli government.

The UCU has a long history of international solidarity and important motions in support of the rights of the Palestinian people and the BDS movement. It has supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. It has also expressed solidarity with imprisoned Palestinians, including writer and academic Ahmad Qatamesh. The UCU has come under attack by right-wing pro-occupation forces for its consistent positions, and was victorious in 2013 in a legal challenge brought by a pro-Zionist union member which was soundly rejected by a British employment tribunal.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network thanks the University and College Union for once again, and consistently, standing with the Palestinian people and their rights and struggle for justice and liberation. We welcome the UCU’s resolution on Palestinian academics under attack and look forward to working together to secure freedom and justice for Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian people.