Category Archives: Free Speech

Extremist targets two members at Brooklyn (The Clarion, PSC-CUNY)

Extremist targets two members at Brooklyn

Far right campaign seeks to limit speech

Samir Chopra talks about the defamatory posters that called some BC faculty and students “terrorist supporters.”

The message on a poster plastered to a recycling bin on the Brooklyn College campus was succinct and inflammatory: “Terrorist Supporters,” it declared in all caps. Underneath that label were names of current and former Brooklyn College students (all Muslim students of color) and chiseled illustrations of two Brooklyn College professors – Corey Robin and Samir Chopra – both known for their public scholarship and who have supported freedom of expression around Palestinian issues.

At the bottom of the poster, underneath the hashtag #StopUniversitySupportForTerrorists was the web address for the California-based David Horowitz Freedom Center, identified as an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Brooklyn College is not alone in being a target of a campaign to single out professors and students as “terrorist supporters.” This semester, posters appeared on several campuses across the country, including the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Chicago. The posters aren’t the first time that the CUNY college has been singled out. Citing increasing concerns about attempts to intimidate and harass faculty, the American Association of University Professors issued guidelines for universities to resist targeted online harassment earlier this year. Already the Trump administration has called on the University of Nevada at Las Vegas to investigate one academic who criticized Trump, and key architects of the campus culture wars have close ties to the Trump administration.

The PSC chapter at Brooklyn College was quick to condemn the poster that appeared in several spots on campus on September 27, and college staff quickly removed the posters.

“By naming and depicting professors, it seeks to curb dissent and suppress academic freedom, and it places the safety of these faculty members at risk,” wrote the college’s PSC chapter chair, James Davis, in a September 28 email to members. “Faculty members must not be subjected to orchestrated campaigns of harassment and intimidation. We urge the college administration to affirm the fundamental principle of academic freedom.”

INTIMIDATION CAMPAIGN

It’s easy to dismiss the poster as “frivolous and juvenile,” Davis told Clarion, but the effect of the poster and others like it may make faculty think “three times” before they say something controversial, because they may be on a poster next.

Chopra’s illustrated “mugshot” on a Horowitz Center poster isn’t stopping him from speaking his mind. “If you did back down, you would be doing what they would want you to do,” Chopra, a professor in the department of philosophy, told Clarion. “That feels like cooperating with them, which I don’t feel like doing.” Chopra admitted he is in a somewhat privileged position. He’s tenured, and he’s not looking to change jobs. But the posters and the concerted campaign against him and others who focus on Palestine, has its cost. In Chopra’s view, his days on the job market are “over.”

“Somebody in the dean or the provost’s office could sit down and do a Google search, and they could tell the department that wants to hire me, ‘That guy is this guy?’” Fearing retaliation from donors or the Board of Trustees, Chopra said, university administrators could decide to hire someone else – and he wouldn’t know.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TIES

All 11 names appearing on the latest Horowitz Center poster are listed on the Canary Mission website, an online “blacklist” including profiles – with names, social media handles and photos – of professors and students active on Palestinian rights, with a goal, according to a video posted on its home page, to “ensure that today’s radicals are not tomorrow’s employees.”

The fact that he’s named on the website, Chopra said, means that every few months, his name is tweeted out by the Mission and he’s harassed online. (Nearly a dozen CUNY professors are named on the website and many CUNY students.)

The website singles out individuals, but it ensures that its supporters are hidden. The website does not name staff members; its domain is registered so ownership is hidden. The David Horowitz Freedom Center, Daniel Pipes’s Middle East Forum and other right-wing pro-Israel groups that focus on campuses denied any relationship with the Canary Mission, according to a May 2015 article written by Josh Nathan-Kazis in the Forward. Charles Jacobs, who was instrumental in producing “Columbia Unbecoming,” a documentary that showed the university’s Middle East studies department as unfriendly to Jewish students, replied “no comment.” Later reporting by Nathan-Kazis revealed that the Mission’s home page temporarily directed readers to the personal Twitter profile of a director of an online Israeli advocacy group, Warren Betzalel Lapidus. Even mainstream groups, including the Israel on Campus Coalition, cited the Mission’s effectiveness in being a “strong deterrent against anti-Semitism and BDS activism” and limiting activism of some student because fear of the “repercussions of public exposure.”

While there may not be a direct link between the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Canary Mission, a September 28 article, “Brooklyn College: Advocating Genocide and a Third Intifada” in the Freedom Center’s FrontPage, names students on the poster and links to their “profile” pages on the Canary Mission website. That same article’s main image is a version of the Brooklyn College poster that appeared on campus this semester.

The article then goes on to name a litany of reasons for naming the CUNY college including the Students for Justice for Palestine (SJP) chapter’s use of certain phrases including, “the third intifada” and “Al-Nakba,” (Arabic for “disaster,” to describe the 1948 establishment of the Israeli state). The article also cited the use of “the slogan: ‘From the River to the Sea’” and activists affiliated with the SJP chapter were accused of calling one faculty member a “Zionist pig” during a faculty council meeting. However, a Brooklyn College investigation later found that no member of the Brooklyn College SJP made this comment.

The Horowitz Center is run by David Horowitz, a former 1960s left-wing radical from Forest Hills and a son of communist parents who later turned and has become what the Washington Post describes as “an intellectual godfather to the far right.” A June 3 investigation in the Post explored the “shadow” universe of right-wing charities and Horowitz’s connections to Trump officials.

In the 1990’s, Horowitz hosted a Wednesday Morning Club catered to conservatives in Los Angeles. A regular guest was former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been honored at a Horowitz-organized event. Stephen Miller, now Trump’s senior policy adviser, was a protégé of Hortowitz. Miller enlisted Horowitz’s help when he was dealing with teachers and classmates at his Santa Monica high school who were “insufficiently patriotic,” and he went on to have Horowitz speak at his high school and at Duke University, where he was an undergraduate. Once Miller graduated from college, Horowitz helped him land jobs with conservative lawmakers.

Last fall, the Horowitz Freedom Center issued a list of “the top 10 schools supporting terrorists,” which included Brooklyn College. The Center, according to a website affiliated with it, “conducted a guerrilla postering campaign on the campus.” During that campaign, it decided to target a Brooklyn College master’s student Raja Abdulhaq with an illustrated poster of him with the hashtag #JewHatred.

“The main purpose [of this campaign] is not to shame people. The main objective is to stop them from doing what they’re doing,” Abdulhaq, who is studying political science and international relations, told Clarion. “There’s no way that they’ll stop and intimidate me.”

While he’s undeterred, Abdulhaq said the intimidation has had its effects. A couple of students have approached him personally and said that they’re cutting down their activism with SJP, citing their concerns about their family and job prospects after college. One recent Brooklyn College graduate – who was active in SJP, wears a hijab and has her name and photo posted on the Canary Mission website – had a study abroad poster with her picture on it defaced (her eyes were blacked out and there was an upside-down cross drawn on her forehead).

The most recent posters prompted more than 80 Brooklyn College faculty and staff to sign a letter addressed to CUNY Chancellor James Milliken, calling on him to issue a public statement explaining and condemning the poster and the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

“These posters are an insidious and utterly unacceptable attempt to intimidate and defame members of this college and the larger academic community and have an intense and chilling impact on the young people targeted and the broader student community,” stated the October 4 letter.

WEAK CUNY RESPONSE

Milliken did not publicly issue a statement, but sent an October 13 email to Brooklyn College faculty and staff calling the poster “troubling.” “I share in your strong condemnation of crude attempts to restrict protected speech through intimidation,” he wrote. He also said he stood behind Brooklyn College Michelle Anderson’s statement, which was released less than a week after the posters appeared on campus.

“[The poster] seeks to defame and silence specific individuals for their political opinions by placing them at risk for further harassment and abuse,” wrote Anderson in an October 2 email to students, staff and faculty. “We reject these tactics, especially in the context of an academic community, where robust discourse on matters of great public import is central to our educational project.”

Neither Milliken nor Anderson named the Horowitz Freedom Center in their statements, nor, as of press time, were there steps taken to restore the reputations of students and faculty who were defamed by the posters.
For concerned Brooklyn College faculty, students and staff, the administration’s response is not enough.

“[Milliken] should name the Horowitz Freedom Center as a menace to the university’s values and the safety of students and faculty, even if it means giving the Horowitz people the publicity they crave,” PSC Brooklyn College Chapter Chair James Davis told Clarion. “Otherwise, it’s a squandered opportunity to demonstrate administrative leadership.”

Canadian teacher Nadia Shoufani defeats silencing campaign against her advocacy for Palestinian freedom (Samidoun)

Canadian teacher Nadia Shoufani has won a significant free-speech victory after a year-long battle and a prolonged campaign by pro-apartheid Zionist organizations attacking her and attempting to have her fired from her job for speaking about Palestinian prisoners at a public rally in 2016.

“A victory for myself, for the Palestine solidarity movement, for freedom of expression! A victory for the Palestinian cause and the struggle of Palestinians!” said Shoufani in a Facebook post on 8 September offering thanks to friends, colleagues and supporters for their consistent support throughout a year of struggle. Shoufani kept her job and defeated the allegations that targeted her as well as ongoing racist campaigns of harassment carried out by far-right groups and individuals. Organizations including B’nai Brith Canada, the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center Canada were actively involvedi in the campaign to silence Shoufani.

“Their goal was to destroy my reputation and livelihood and ultimately make me lose my job, but they were defeated! It’s true they targeted me but their ultimate goal was to send a silencing message to intimidate and scare anyone who speaks in support of Palestinians and to put a chill on people,” Shoufani wrote, but the attack in fact led to “more support and created more awareness of the Palestinian cause.”

“The attack that I was put through was not just an attack against me, it was ultimately against every voice that speaks and calls for the freedom and justice of Palestinians who are living under and suffering daily from a brutal occupation and apartheid, with the ultimate aim to silence them and silence any criticism of ‘Israel’, the occupying power,” Shoufani wrote in her social media post.

Shoufani was attacked for her remarks at the 2 July 2006 Al-Quds Day protest, particularly her comments about Ghassan Kanafani and her support for imprisoned Palestinians and strugglers for Palestine, specifically Bilal Kayed – then on hunger strike – and Georges Ibrahim Abdallah.

Shoufani quoted Ghassan Kanafani, the Palestinian writer, political leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and intellectual assassinated by Israel on 8 July 1972: “The Palestinian cause is not a cause for Palestinians only, but a cause for every revolutionary…a cause of the exploited and oppressed masses in our era.”

“On this day…we need to salute and acknowledge, stand in solidarity and demand the release of prisoners, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons,” said Shoufani in her speech. “We salute and demand the freedom of Bilal Kayed…who was scheduled to be released on June 13th after 14 and one-half years of imprisonment. Instead of being released, he was ordered to six extra months of adminsitratioe detention without charge or trial…Bilal Kayed has launched an open hunger strike demanding his freedom. This illegal Israeli order of administrative detention is seen as an attempt to set a precedent of the future indefinite detention of Palestinian prisoners after the completion of their sentence.”

She linked the attack on Kayed and fellow Palestinian prisoners to the imprisonment of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, Lebanese Arab struggler for Palestine, imprisoned in French jails for 33 years, demanding his immediate release.

“I urge you to speak up, to resist this occupation, and support the steadfastness of Palestinians, support their resistance, in any form that is possible. I urge you to support BDS – boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. This is the least we can do here in Canada,” said Shoufani, closing with a rousing chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

Shoufani was defended after being suspended with pay by her Toronto-area Catholic school board by her trade union, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association.  Union activists, Palestine solidarity organizers, professors and organizers collectively spoke out in support of Shoufani and against the attacks from right-wing organizations attempting to silence her and force her from her teaching position.

The attack on Shoufani has come in the context of ongoing attacks on freedom of speech about Palestine in Canada, including attempts to legislate against BDS and parliamentary resolutions denouncing boycott campaigns.  This comes amid an ongoing, relentlessly pro-Zionist policy pursued by the Liberal government under Justin Trudeau, continuing the notoriously anti-Palestinian policy of Conservative Stephen Harper. Canadian support for Israeli occupation didn’t begin with Harper, but dates back to the Balfour Declaration and Lester Pearson’s recommendation to the United Nations to create the Israeli state. This role has always been distinctly related to the Canadian state’s own settler colonial nature, based on the continuing dispossession and genocide of Indigenous peoples.

Recently, Niki Ashton, a leading candidate for the leadership of the New Democratic Party (NDP) in Canada, was attacked by B’nai Brith and other pro-apartheid organizations for participating in a rally commemorating the Nakba and in support of Palestinian political prisoners.

In particular, right-wing Zionist organizations attacked Ashton for speaking in front of a sign urging freedom for imprisoned Palestinian leader Ahmad Sa’adat, the General Secretaty of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Following the attacks, rather than backing down, Ashton reiterated her support for Palestinian rights and noted that it was “powerful to join many at a rally in solidarity with those on hunger strike in Palestine.” Ashton is one of the front-runners in the NDP leadership campaign and has won support from many youth and progressive voices.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes Nadia Shoufani and all of those involved in the campaign to defend her right to speak and right to teach. Her clear and principled voice in defense of Palestinian rights and freedom – and the struggle of Palestinian prisoners in particular – is one that cannot be silenced. As she noted, “Our fight for justice and a free Palestine will not be over and the path ahead will always have obstacles and difficulties, but as long as we believe in a cause so embedded in us, we will persevere! No such attacks will stop us, nor will they intimidate or silence us. On the contrary this will make us stronger believers in our fight for justice and freedom. We will never be silent until we win and justice prevails!”

Updated: 100 Groups Call on Congress to Oppose Israel Anti-Boycott Act

Updated: 100 Groups Call on Congress to Oppose Israel Anti-Boycott Act

IABA statement logos3.jpg

Updated August 31, 2017 

One hundred national and local civil and human rights organizations endorsed a joint statement to members of Congress expressing strong opposition to the Israel Anti-Boycott Act and calling on lawmakers to reject – rather than amend – the bill.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, introduced in the U.S. Congress in March 2017, amends anti-boycott provisions of the federal Export Administration Act (EAA), enacted in 1979. Those provisions prohibit specific actions taken to comply with or support a boycott of Israel “fostered or imposed” by a foreign country. The sponsors of the new Act propose to add new restrictions on boycotts “fostered or imposed” by an international governmental organization (IGO), such as the European Union or the United Nations. Violations are punishable by exorbitant fines and up to 20 years in prison.

Due to widespread outrage over the bill, its chief Senate sponsor, Maryland Senator Benjamin Cardin, has stated that he is open to amending the bill to remove criminal penalties. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand withdrew sponsorship from the bill in early August, saying that she could not support it “in its current form.” But amending the bill does not resolve its underlying problems, including the chilling effect it will have on constitutionally-protected speech.

The full statement is below. Click here for a PDF version.

Note: We will continue to update the statement with new endorsements. If your organization would like to endorse the statement, please fill out this form.


Oppose the Israel Anti-Boycott Act

We are a diverse group of civil and human rights organizations writing to express our strong opposition to the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720 and H.R. 1697) (Act). We call on you to publicly oppose this unconstitutional, draconian bill and to affirm the First Amendment right of all people in the United States to support political boycotts as a means to achieve justice and equality for Palestinians.

The Act amends anti-boycott provisions of the federal Export Administration Act (EAA), enacted in 1979.1 Those provisions prohibit specific actions taken to comply with or support a boycott of Israel “fostered or imposed” by a foreign country. The sponsors of the new Act propose to add new restrictions on boycotts “fostered or imposed” by an international governmental organization (IGO), such as the European Union or the United Nations. Violations are punishable by exorbitant fines and up to 20 years in prison.

This amendment would seriously threaten fundamental First Amendment freedoms and discourage U.S. individuals, businesses, nonprofits or others from supporting boycotts for Palestinian rights. Even if the bill were amended to remove penalties, its passage would still send a message that political boycotts for Palestinian rights are disfavored by the government, causing a severe chilling effect on constitutionally protected speech.

The Act would chill protected speech despite the fact that under its terms, it should not reach the vast majority of boycott activities related to Israeli government policies. Most boycotts for Palestinian rights are not conducted in response to a call for boycott from a foreign country or IGO, but are acts of conscience seeking justice and equality for Palestinians and Israel’s compliance with international law. Indeed, people across the United States are increasingly using strategies involving boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to pressure Israel to respect Palestinian rights.

The United States has a long and rich history of boycotts being used to take collective action to advance social justice and secure civil and human rights. Boycotts helped end racial segregation in the United States and apartheid in South Africa. More recently, boycotts helped end a regressive North Carolina law targeting transgender people, and boycott and divestment campaigns have been organized to end university investments in the private prison and fossil fuel industries.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that peaceful political boycotts are protected by the First Amendment.2 The government may not enact laws that would punish those who support political boycotts or compromise the right to support political boycotts.

The Act’s chief Senate sponsor, Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, has written that the Act does not target political boycotts.3 Instead, he claims, it merely expands preexisting law to prohibit U.S. businesses from complying with boycott requirements imposed by IGOs. In other words, he argues that the bill does not prohibit political speech but targets “commercial conduct,” which is afforded a lower level of constitutional protection.4

Senator Cardin’s interpretation fails to consider the following:

·         Political speech activities would be directly prohibited by the Act.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act would directly prohibit political speech activities, in violation of the First Amendment. Consider the situation of a human rights organization that distributes research on companies operating in illegal West Bank settlements. This organization could be in violation of the Act if the organization’s intent is to support a call by an IGO to boycott settlements.

·         The Act would empower overzealous presidential administrations to target supporters of political boycotts.

We have no doubt that the Act would be used as a pretext for overzealous presidential administrations, lobbied by Israel advocacy groups (including those that support this bill), to investigate and even punish supporters of Palestinian rights, whether or not they actually support a call for boycotts by an IGO, which they must do to trigger the Act. Arab and Muslim communities will likely face the brunt of this potential for overbroad enforcement.

From 2014 through 2016, Palestine Legal responded to 650 incidents of suppression nationwide targeting speech supportive of Palestinian rights, an additional 200 requests for legal assistance in anticipation of such incidents, and dozens of efforts to enact federal, state and local laws aimed at punishing BDS activism and chilling speech supportive of Palestinian rights.5 Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights documented this pattern of suppression of Palestinian rights advocacy in a 2015 report, The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the U.S.6

As such, our belief that the Act, if enacted, would be enforced in this way is based on a well-researched pattern of suppression of First Amendment-protected speech and actions in support of Palestinian rights involving heightened government surveillance, investigations and prosecutions of individuals due to their support for Palestinian freedom, as well as private harassment and targeting, including by organizations that support the Act.

·         The Act will have the effect of chilling First Amendment-protected political speech.

Despite Senator Cardin’s efforts to insist the Israel Anti-Boycott Act doesn’t target political conduct, the leading lobby group for U.S. support of Israel, America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), itself frames it as a measure to “Combat the BDS Movement.”7  In the past two years, 21 states have enacted laws aimed at punishing participation in political boycotts for Palestinian rights.8 Together with these state laws, the Act will create a severe chilling effect on people across the country who are otherwise inclined to support First Amendment-protected boycotts for Palestinian rights, or who are merely curious to learn more. The wave of anti-BDS legislation, promoted by Israel advocacy groups to undermine the movement for Palestinian rights in the United States aims to send a clear signal that support for Palestinian rights is disfavored by our government and is potentially punishable.

Statements by state officials and Israel advocates illustrate their intent to thwart grassroots boycott campaigns. For example, when a state senator in Washington introduced an anti-BDS bill, he said, “If students want to protest on campus and do what students do, that’s just fine. But we’ll settle the question for them, the adults in [the] legislature.”9 The leader of one Israel advocacy group boasted, “[w]hile you were doing your campus antics, the grown-ups were in the state legislature passing laws that make your cause improbable.”10

Amending the Act to reduce the associated penalties or otherwise will not solve the underlying problems listed above, which illustrate how it is unconstitutional. We call on members of Congress who currently support the Act to withdraw their sponsorship. And we call on all members of Congress to publicly oppose the Israel Anti-Boycott Act and to affirm the First Amendment right to support political boycotts – including those aimed at achieving justice and equality for Palestinians.

Signatories (listed alphabetically)

  • American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
  • American Friends Service Committee
  • American Muslims for Palestine
  • Al-Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
  • Center for Constitutional Rights
  • CODEPINK
  • Council on American-Islamic Relations
  • Defending Rights and Dissent
  • Friends of Sabeel – North America
  • Jewish Voice for Peace
  • Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
  • Labor for Palestine
  • National Lawyers Guild and the National Lawyers Guild Palestine Sub-Committee
  • Palestine Legal
  • Project South
  • Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East
  • United Church of Christ
  • United Methodists for Kairos Response
  • U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
  • U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights
  • U.S. Palestinian Community Network
  • War Resisters League

 

This statement has been endorsed by the following organizations, listed by state (updated August 31, 2017):

Alabama

  • Birmingham Peace Project

Arizona

  • Arizona Progressive Coalition – AZPC Inc.

California

  • 14 Friends of Palestine
  • Arab American Civic Council
  • Buena Vista United Methodist Church
  • Chico Palestine Action Group
  • Culture and Conflict Forum
  • Democrats for Palestinian Equal Rights
  • Friends of Sabeel, Sacramento Region
  • International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity
  • Israel Palestine Task Force of the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, Bay Area Chapter
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, Los Angeles Chapter
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, Sacramento Chapter
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, San Diego Chapter
  • Northern California International Solidarity Movement
  • QUIT: Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism
  • Sacramento Area Peace Action
  • Sacramento Regional Coalition for Palestinian Rights
  • Students for Justice in Palestine at California State University, Fullerton
  • United Methodists’ Holy Land Taskforce
  • Wellstone Progressive Democrats of Sacramento

Connecticut

  • Connecticut Peace and Solidarity Coalition
  • Greater New Haven Peace Council
  • Ironworkers Local 15
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, New Haven Chapter
  • Promoting Enduring Peace
  • Tree of Life Educational Fund
  • We Refuse to be Enemies

District of Columbia

  • U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations

Florida

  • Jewish Voice for Peace, South Florida Chapter
  • National Lawyers Guild, South Florida Chapter

Illinois

  • Arab Jewish Partnership for Peace and Justice in the Middle East
  • Chicago Faith Coalition on Middle East Policy
  • Committee for Just Peace in Israel-Palestine
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, Chicago Chapter
  • National Lawyers Guild, Chicago Chapter
  • Students for Justice in Palestine at UIUC

Kentucky

  • Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA)

Maryland

  • Baltimore Palestine Solidarity
  • Committee for Palestinian Rights
  • Freedom2Boycott Maryland
  • Friends of Sabeel DC Metro Area

Massachusetts

  • Adalah Justice Project
  • Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine
  • Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights
  • Common Ground for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land, Inc.
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, Boston Chapter
  • Massachusetts Peace Action
  • Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment

Missouri

  • Mid-Missourians for Justice in Palestine

New York

  • Adalah-NY: Campaign for the Boycott of Israel
  • Black Movement-Law Project
  • Brooklyn for Peace
  • Columbia/Barnard Jewish Voice for Peace
  • Columbia University Apartheid Divest
  • Columbia University Students for Justice in Palestine
  • Community of Living Traditions at Stony Point Center
  • Concerned Families of Westchester
  • Jewish Voice for Peace, Westchester Chapter
  • Jews Say No!
  • The Majlis Ash Shura (Islamic Leadership Council) of New York
  • Muslim Peace Fellowship
  • Palestine Solidarity Alliance of Hunter College
  • Peace Action New York State
  • Queers Against Israeli Apartheid
  • Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
  • Syracuse Peace Council
  • USA-Palestine Mental Health Network
  • WESPAC Foundation
  • Westchester Coalition against Islamophobia

Oregon

  • Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights
  • Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land

Pennsylvania

  • Bryn Mawr Peace Coalition

Vermont

  • Green Mountain Solidarity with Palestine

Virginia

  • Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace
  • Virginia Coalition for Human Rights

Washington

  • Vancouver for Peace

 


1 ↩ The EAA expired in 2001. 50 U.S.C. §4622 (1977). It has been purportedly continued by executive order.

2 ↩ NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co., 458 U.S. 886 (1982).

3 ↩ Ben Cardin, Setting the Record Straight: Nothing in the Israel Anti-Boycott Act restricts constitutionally-protected free speech, Medium, July 20, 2017, https://medium.com/@SenatorBenCardin/setting-the-record-straight-nothing-in-the-the-israel-anti-boycott-act-restricts-constitutionally-13bfa7428d8.

4 ↩ Although one provision of the EAA was upheld on commercial speech grounds, the law was never challenged for its restrictions on political speech. Briggs & Stratton Corp. v. Baldridge, 728 F. 2d 915 (7th Cir. 1984). As described in this document, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act would significantly increase the law’s infringement on political speech.

5 ↩ Palestine Legal, Year-in-Review: Palestine Legal Responded to 258 Incidents in 2016, available athttp://palestinelegal.org/2016-report.

6 ↩ Palestine Legal and Center for Constitutional Rights, The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the U.S. (2015), available athttps://www.palestinelegal.org/the-palestine-exception.

7 ↩ See AIPAC, Fight The Boycott of Israel, http://www.aipac.org/learn/legislative-agenda/agenda-display?agendaid=%7BB499D12C-C5ED-4CA6-93CF-61266D842328%7D.

8 ↩ www.RightToBoycott.org.

9 ↩ Dyer Oxley, Senator: Colleges are being used as ‘politically-correct batons,’ MyNorthwest.com, Jan. 2, 2017, http://mynorthwest.com/500618/senator-baumgartner-bds-bill.

10 ↩ Eitan Arom, As BDS opponents move from campuses to state capitols ,California is up next, JNS.org, April 13, 2016, http://www.jns.org/latest-articles/2016/4/13/as-bds-opponents-move-from-campuses-to-state-capitols-california-is-up-next-1#.VzyMuULfjww=.

Will Labor Stand for More Limits to Boycott Rights? | Stanley Heller

first published at  www.peacenews.org

Will Labor Stand for More Limits to Boycott Rights? | Stanley Heller

 

About The Author

Stanley Heller Administrator of and writer for Promoting Enduring Peace and hosts “The Struggle” TV News, at www.TheStruggle.org. He can be reached at stanley.heller@pepeace.org.

After the Wagner Act was passed in 1935 trade unions had tremendous freedom in organizing, striking and encouraging act of solidarity. A key tactic was the boycott, where union members asked the public not to buy products made by replacement “scab” labor during strikes, or when a union picket line would confront workers from suppliers and insist they not deliver supplies across a picket line. Sometimes a union would picket the supplier itself or call on the public to boycott the products of the supplier.

In 1947 Congress took up the Taft-Hartley Act. One part of it banned unions from calling for “secondary boycotts” from picketing companies supplying a company that was using scab workers or otherwise causing a worker. Trade unions called the bill the “slave labor” law. They spent a million dollars (roughly $11,000,000 in today’s money) in ads to try to defeat it. It didn’t work. President Truman did veto the bill, but Congress overrode the veto and it became the law.

For years getting rid of Taft-Hartley was a major goal of labor, but after a while trade union leadership just tried to get along with it. Over the decades there were many boycotts called like the grape boycott, Hormel, Farah pants, the boycott of Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, etc. Some helped to win strikes. Other solidarity actions were limited and weak because of Taft-Hartley.

Now a new bill going through Congress is a further threat to boycott rights. On the face of it, the bill doesn’t have anything to do with unions. It would ban people for calling for support of the U.N. or the European Union or any international governmental organization boycott of Israel. The penalties are incredible. The American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes the bill, says there is a possible penalty of a $250,000 civil fine, a criminal fine up to a million dollars and jail time of up to 20 years in prison!

Why should Congress have any power to limit our free speech right to call for a boycott, whether it’s a cruel government of a foreign country or a rotten company in the U.S. mistreating workers? This limit on boycott rights is outrageous and the penalties are grotesque. You could rob a bank and get less punishment.

Now while you won’t find the words “union” or “labor” in the bill there is a possible direct connection. The International Labour Organization is a U.N. and hence governmental organization. If it called for a boycott of Israel (and many unions around the world have done so), calling for support of the ILO boycott could get you in jail.

Even if there’s no immediate connection with labor, there’s the matter of “precedent,” an event or action that can be used as an example for further action. The right wing assault on unions is picking up. At the start of the year a major anti-worker rights law passed in Kentucky. It is all too believable that if this anti-boycott law concerning Israel passes, one day it will be used as a precedent for a law to ban calling for a boycott of some dear little billionaire whose workers have the gall to walk out for decent pay and working conditions.

So far the big trade unions are ignoring the issue. It’s up to us to educated them. You can contact the “Change to Win” federation at info@changetowin.org. The AFLCIO contact page is here: https://aflcio.org/contact-us. The Teamsters contact page is https://teamster.org/about/contact-teamsters. You can always tweet @aflcio @teamsters @change2win.

There is one trade union that should be sympathetic because it’s already boycotting Israel. The union is the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers. One of its activists spoke at a rally for Palestine in Hartford on July 25. Here’s their contact page: https://www.ueunion.org/ueform.html. Best email might be uewashington@ranknfile-ue.org. They’re having a convention in Pittsburgh in August. Maybe they can put forward a resolution against the bill in Congress at their convention.

Of course, if you’re a union member you can make your local union aware of the issue and call on it to bring it up with the folks who do legislation in DC.

(Full disclosure. I’ve been a member of three trade unions, Retail Clerks, Machinists and the American Federation of Teachers, the last one continuously since 1969)

Investigate groups with “Jewish-sounding” names, says Nevada lawmaker (Electronic Intifada)

Investigate groups with “Jewish-sounding” names, says Nevada lawmaker

Despite allegations of dirty tricks by lobbyists, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed an anti-BDS bill into law on 2 June. (via Facebook)

This month, Nevada became the 20th state to adopt legislation against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, after an Israel advocacy organization allegedly made threatening remarks to lawmakers if they opposed the bill.

Meanwhile, The Electronic Intifada has obtained a memo from a Nevada lawmaker to fellow Jewish lawmakers across the United States giving advice on how to fight back against the movement for Palestinian rights – including the Jewish activists who support it.

According to the Las Vegas Chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, state assembly member Edgar Flores said he was threatened by the Israeli-American Coalition for Action, which told him that his political career would be ended if he did not support the anti-BDS bill.

Flores was one of only three lawmakers to abstain in a vote on the bill.

Though no other legislators have revealed they were threatened, Seth Morrison, of Jewish Voice for Peace in Las Vegas, suspects Flores was not alone.

Morrison points out that assembly member Skip Daly voted against the bill during a committee meeting, but joined Flores in abstaining for the final vote.

Jewish Voice for Peace in Las Vegas believes that Dillon Hosier, the Israeli-American Coalition for Action lobbyist, secretly recorded private meetings with at least two assembly members.

Morrison outlined these allegations of dirty tactics and intimidation in a letter to the governor, urging him to veto the legislation. But on 2 June, Governor Brian Sandoval signed the bill into law.

Blacklist

The law prohibits the state from contracting with or investing in companies that boycott Israel. Nevada will now prepare a blacklist of companies that are said to boycott Israel.

Other states that have passed similar laws have included companies on their blacklists that withdrew from Israel for their own economic interests, such as G4S.

The world’s largest security firm, G4S announced it was dumping almost all of its business in Israel following a sustained campaign against its involvement in human rights abuses against Palestinians.

The Nevada bill was opposed by Jewish Voice for Peace, the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada and the Culinary Union, which all argued the bill infringes on constitutional rights to speech and association.

The Culinary Union is one of the largest in Nevada and represents workers in the Las Vegas hotel and casino industry. It also describes itself as the state’s largest immigrant organization.

The union argued that boycotts are a fundamental tool for organizing for justice.

Despite this broad opposition, the state assembly passed the bill 39-0 with 3 abstentions, and the senate voted 19-2 in favor.

The two dissenting senators were Yvanna Cancela and Tick Segerblom, both of whom have records of advocating for civil liberties.

“They are both very progressive and very brave,” JVP’s Morrison told The Electronic Intifada.

Spiegel memo

Less than two weeks after the bill became law, Nevada assembly member Ellen Spiegel sent an internal memo to the National Association of Jewish Legislators listing key lessons to the bill’s success. (The memo is attached below.)

The National Association of Jewish Legislators, of which Spiegel is an officer, has placed combatting BDS on the top of its agenda.

Spiegel writes that even though the bill passed by such wide margins, “it required a lot of work.”

Spiegel encourages direct collaboration with Israel lobby organizations, including the Israeli-American Coalition for Action, the Israel Action Network and The Israel Project.

The Israeli-American Coalition for Action has already spent $50,000 in 2017 to lobby for anti-BDS legislation in Congress – five times as much as it spent last year. It is the lobbying arm of the Israeli-American Coalition, which is backed by wealthy anti-Palestinian donors Adam Milstein and Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

Spiegel says these groups can “provide back up support throughout the process.”

She claims that the legislation passed in states across the country is “seeking to protect Israel from harm,” and urges advocates to “talk about Israel as a ‘safe haven’ for Jews” and as an “important trading partner.”

But she also encourages lawmakers to advance arguments that Israel should be entitled to keep “contested” land – the occupied West Bank – because it “won” it during the 1967 war.

Opposition research

Significantly, the memo indicates Spiegel’s discomfort with the fact that not all Jewish Americans support the anti-BDS agenda.

She recommends trying to discredit groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, urging lawmakers to “do some research on the people presenting the opposing testimony.”

“If they are members of an organization with a Jewish-sounding name, try to determine whether it really is a Jewish group,” she writes.

Spiegel also suggests that anti-BDS legislation should appear to represent a “bipartisan” consensus and that proponents should “invite the participation of the state’s Jewish and non-Jewish communities.”

Spiegel advises Israel advocates to prepare to answer why all Jews do not support anti-BDS legislation. She suggests invoking the words of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, who several years ago expressed opposition to a total boycott of Israel.

But she fails to mention that in the same statement – which was widely criticized by Palestinians – Abbas nonetheless expressed support for boycotting products from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

According to Spiegel, opponents of the anti-BDS bill “spoke with legislators about the importance of using boycotts as free speech and were privately telling African Americans and Latinos that they wouldn’t have equal rights if not for use of boycotts.”

Boycotts did indeed play a major role in the civil rights movement – leading to the landmark 1982 US Supreme Court decision ruling that boycotts intended to bring about social, political and economic change are constitutionally protected free speech.

Seth Morrison says that while he is disappointed the bill passed, he is also energized. He helped found the Las Vegas chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace last year, and says this was the first time that people mobilized to oppose a pro-Israel bill in Nevada.

“We’ve shown legislators that they can’t do things like this without being called out for it.”

UCU Congress rejects “confusing” definition of antisemitism (Free Speech on Israel and BRICUP)

UCU Congress rejects “confusing” definition of antisemitism

Press Release from Free Speech on Israel and BRICUP (British Committee for the Universities of Palestine)

for immediate release – 29th May 2017

UCU Congress rejects “confusing” definition of antisemitism

Support for Palestinian professor denied entry to Israel

Free Speech on Israel, a Jewish-led organisation which defends the right to criticise Israel, and the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, which campaigns for academic and cultural boycott of Israel, today welcomed the vote by the University and College Union (UCU) to reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

Motion 57, submitted by UCU branches at the University of Leeds, Goldsmiths, and the University of Brighton, along with two strengthening amendments from Queen’s University Belfast and London Retired Members Branch, was carried overwhelmingly in the closing minutes of UCU’s annual Congress in Brighton.  Only one delegate spoke against the motion.

UCU Congress delegates standing up to racism

UCU had previously, in 2011, rejected the “Working Definition of Antisemitism” of the EU Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC).  The IHRA definition strongly resembles the EUMC version.  Today’s vote strengthens UCU’s existing policy.

Both these definitions are considered highly problematic because they seek to conflate criticism of Israel with genuine anti-Jewish racism: examples cited in them make explicit reference to Israel.  The UK Government has adopted the IHRA definition, and in February this year Universities Minister Jo Johnson wrote to Universities UK insisting that university activities must respect the definition.  In particular, he alleged that “anti-Semitic incidents … might take place under the banner of ‘Israel (sic) Apartheid’ events.”  Some universities have banned or curtailed campus events during Israeli Apartheid week or subsequently, and campaigners for Palestinian human rights consider that the definition is being used to censor legitimate political activity and debate which criticises the Israeli occupation and human rights abuses.

In moving the motion, Mark Abel of Brighton UCU noted that an event organised by Friends of Palestine had been cancelled by the University of Central Lancashire, who cited the IHRA definition as making the event ‘unlawful’.

Reacting to this wave of censorship the new, Jewish-led organisation Free Speech on Israel, along with Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Independent Jewish Voices, and Jews for Justice for Palestinians, obtained a legal Opinion from the eminent human rights lawyer Hugh Tomlinson QC.

The Opinion is devastating: it characterises the IHRA definition as confusing, not legally binding, and putting public bodies that use it at risk of “unlawfully restricting legitimate expressions of political opinion”.  A public body that bans a meeting under the IHRA definition without any evidence of genuine antisemitism could be breaching the European Convention on Human Rights which guarantees freedom of expression (Article 10), and freedom of assembly (Article 11).

In concluding his speech, Mark Abel said: “This is a dangerous conflation of anti-Zionism and anti-semitism. … It is a definition intended to silence those who wish to puncture the Israeli state’s propaganda that it is a normal liberal democratic state.”

Mike Cushman, a UCU member and co-founder of FSOI, said: “Free speech on Israel welcomes UCU’s recognition that fighting antisemitism is a separate struggle from defending the rights of Palestinians, and that both these struggles are important. Putting these in opposition to each other assists both antisemites and war criminals.”

Les Levidow, a UCU member speaking for BRICUP, said: “Congratulations to UCU for defending free speech on Israel/Palestine by rejecting the government-IHRA agenda to weaponise antisemitism, conflated with anti-Zionism.”

UCU Congress also passed a motion in support of Professor Kamel Hawwash, a UCU member at the University of Birmingham, who was prevented from entering Israel on 7th April on a trip with his wife and young son to visit relatives in occupied East Jerusalem.  It seems likely that Prof. Hawwash was banned under the new Israeli boycott law, which prevents activists accused of supporting BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) from entering Israel.  Prof. Hawwash was until recently the vice-chair of PSC.  The General Secretary of UCU will now be writing to the Israeli Embassy and the FCO to urge that the ban on Prof. Hawwash and all non-violent human rights campaigners be lifted.

ENDS

Motion 57 As amended and agreed

Composite: International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-semitism

Congress notes:

  1. UCU’s exemplary anti-racist work, eg. Holocaust Memorial Day materials
  2. policy (2011) dissociating UCU from the ‘EUMC working definition’ of anti-semitism
  3. the close similarity between the IHRA and EUMC definitions, including their conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel
  4. that government has formally adopted the IHRA definition of anti-semitism
  5. that this definition conflates anti-semitism with criticism of the state of Israel and has been used to intimidate academics who are engaged in activities that are critical of the policies of the Israeli government but that are not anti-semitic
  6. government-inspired attempts to ban Palestine solidarity events, naming Israeli Apartheid Week
  7. The legal opinion from Hugh Tomlinson QC, obtained by PSC and other groups, characterising the IHRA definition as confusing, not legally binding, and putting public bodies that use it at risk of ‘unlawfully restricting legitimate expressions of political opinion’.

Congress re-affirms:

  1. UCU’s condemnation of all forms of racial or religious hatred or discrimination
  2. UCU’s commitment to free speech and academic freedom
  3. the importance of open campus debate on Israel/Palestine.

Congress resolves that UCU dissociates itself from the IHRA definition and will make no use of it (eg. in educating members or dealing with internal complaints).

Congress instructs:

  1. NEC to contact all members in a dedicated communication urging report to NEC of all repressive uses of the IHRA definition
  2. conduct research about the implications of the use of the IHRA definition
  3. general secretary to write to VCs/principals urging staff protection from malicious accusations, and freedom of political criticism
  4. president to issue, and circulate to members, a detailed press statement on UCU’s criticism of the IHRA definition
  5. lobby government to seek a review of its endorsement of the IHRA definition and to replace it with one that will both protect free speech and combat anti-semitism.

Recalling the experience of Fraser vs UCU, we call upon the NEC to take a position against any university management that reacts to spurious accusations of anti-semitism by banning speakers who are opposed to the policies of the state of Israel but who have not in any way expressed racism against Jewish people.

Are US labor unions finally speaking out on Palestine? (Electronic Intifada)

Electronic Intifada

Are US labor unions finally speaking out on Palestine?

Trade union involvement is seen as key to the success of the international movement in support of Palestinian rights. Ryan Rodrick BeilerActiveStills

The trade union leadership in the US has generally been reluctant to defend Palestinian rights. Sometimes, it has been openly hostile to the Palestine solidarity movement.

Soon after Richard Trumka was elected president of the AFL-CIO in 2009, he denounced the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

That call has been endorsed by organizations representing Palestinian workers with direct experience of occupation and apartheid. That does not seem to have convinced the AFL-CIO – the largest federation of trade unions in the US – that it should side with Palestinian workers.

The AFL-CIO has a long history of supporting the Histradut, an Israeli union that played a prominent role in the Zionist colonization of Palestine and the dispossession of Palestinians.

Moreover, the AFL-CIO has been a major buyer of Israel bonds: by some estimates, such investments are worth $5 billion.

A decision taken by the San Francisco chapter of the AFL-CIO earlier this month is among a series of small breakthroughs for Palestine solidarity in the US labor movement.

The San Francisco Labor Council, as the chapter is known, has taken a strong position against bullying by pro-Israel and Islamophobic groups.

Earlier this month, the council approved a resolution that declares full support for students and teachers at San Francisco State University (SFSU) who have suffered abuse over their campaigning on Palestine.

The resolution focuses on an incident from last year, when posters appeared on the university’s campus, alleging one professor was a “collaborator with terrorists.” The professor in question was Rabab Abdulhadi.

The posters – some of which also targeted students who had been vocal on Palestine – have been claimed by the David Horowitz Freedom Center and Canary Mission. Those groups promote anti-Muslim bigotry and slander critics of Israel.

Abdulhadi welcomed the resolution as a step towards building a stronger relationship between the Palestine solidarity movement and US trade unions.

“Glacial movement”

“The US labor movement has been one of the hardest nuts to crack in terms of Palestine,” she told The Electronic Intifada.

Her husband, Jaime Veve, is a veteran labor organizer, who has been active on Palestine for several decades.

Veve, who now represents the group Labor for Palestine, said that the AFL-CIO has “by and large tried to avoid the issue of Palestine and taken an official position against BDS.”

Yet he added there had been “glacial movement” by labor unions towards supporting the Palestinian struggle for justice and equality.

In 2014, UAW Local 2865 – which represents graduate student workers at the University of California – became the first labor union in the US to endorse the BDS movement.

In 2015, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America – known as UE – voted to back BDS, becoming the second. That same year, the Connecticut branch of the AFL-CIO voted to back key elements of BDS.

“Defend free speech”

Veve regards US labor unions as key to the success of BDS activism.

“If labor gets involved and begins to act, it has the potential to withdraw its investments in Israeli bonds,” he said.

The San Francisco Labor Council called for “full action” to be taken against the Horowitz Freedom Center and Canary Mission.

Ann Robertson, a philosophy lecturer at SFSU and delegate to the council, explained that the term “full action” was intended to leave all options open, including litigation.

Robertson argued that the response from Les Wong, the SFSU chancellor, to the posters had been “too vague.”

Wong had blamed an “an outside extremist group” for the posters and pledged not to tolerate “bullying behavior.”

Yet his statement did not defend any of the teachers or students targeted by name.

“He needs to clear the names of those smeared,” Robertson said, “and specifically defend the free speech rights of Palestinian students because they are the ones under attack.”

Irish Trade Union Open Letter to German Union in Support of Teacher Christoph Glanz

tufp

TRADE UNION FRIENDS OF PALESTINE
Campaigning in solidarity with the Palestinian people

Secretary: Eamon McMahon

9.11.16

To our trade union colleagues,

We the undersigned, members of the Irish trade union movement, write to express our solidarity with teacher, GEW (Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft) member and activist Mr. Christoph Glanz. We are dismayed by GEW’s decision not to disseminate the “PaedOl” magazine due to it containing an article on Palestine/Israel by Mr. Glanz titled: “Documenting Injustice and Claiming Justice – Impossible in Oldenburg?”

It appears that this censorship came as a result of pressure from the Israeli lobby. We are concerned that giving in to such pressure supports the undermining of basic trade union rights, and that if not challenged it could reinforce the belief of outside bodies and vested interest groups that they can bring about the suppression of our democratic rights. This includes the right to express solidarity with oppressed workers in any state or in any region of the world.

We are further concerned by the public statements made by the GEW suggesting that it may have been “anti-Semitic” or “a mistake” to present information about Israel’s oppressive policies against Palestinians and the BDS movement, and hence it was necessary to block the dissemination of the magazine. Such misrepresentations prevent an informed debate presenting the realities under which the Palestinian people live from taking place.

Individuals, trade unions and civil society groups have the right under international law to organise, the right to protest and the right to free speech. It is a matter of profound concern when any progressive organisation bows to pressure from the lobby groups of those perpetrating the very human rights abuses that people of conscience like Mr. Glanz and many others are campaigning against. In the process, unintentionally or otherwise, this undermines the fundamental rights and principles of the trade union movement and international solidarity.

This incident is one in a long line of anti democratic attacks in Germany and across the world on individuals and groups who speak out for Palestine and more specifically on those who support the legitimate, non violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign. The governments of Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands, as well as Federica Mogherini the EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, have already explicitly clarified that they consider advocacy for BDS to be part of the right of their citizens to freedom of expression.

We have learned that German unions, including the GEW, welcomed and actively promoted the boycott of apartheid in South Africa in the late 1970s and 1980s. It would seem an opportune moment therefore, acting in the spirit of international solidarity, for the leadership of the GEW in Oldenburg and elsewhere to lead an informed discussion with its members about the aims and merits of the BDS movement.

We ask the GEW to stand by the principles of the labour movement, in defence of freedom of speech and expression, and that it reconsiders the decision not to publish this article. We call upon it to publicly defend its own member, Mr. Glanz, against false allegations of anti-Semitism, This must be undertaken in the first instance to defend Mr Glanz, but also in order to prevent a very dangerous precedent being set and to protect the rights of all GEW members and others who wish to peacefully protest human rights abuses wherever those abuses occur.

We ask that the GEW, and also the school authorities (”Niedersächsische Landesschulbehörde”), their spokespersons, relevant politicians and other decision-makers take all steps necessary to defend these basic democratic rights.

Signed:

Eamon McMahon, Secretary TUFP

Kevin Daly, Ass. Secretary and Teachers’ Representative, TUFP; INTO Northern Committee (PC); Secretary to Newry Trades Council (PC)

Peter Collins, Treasurer TUFP; Academics for Palestine; UCU (PC)

Paddy Mackel, President Belfast Trades Council

Roger Clifford, President Craigavon Trades Council

Susan Neil, UNISON (PC)

Tommy McGlone, INTO Senior Official (PC)

Paul Boyd, Secretary INTO Down Branch (PC)

Jim McLaughlin, INTO (PC)

Mark McTaggart, INTO Assistant Northern Secretary, (PC)

Annmarie Conway, INTO Northern Committee (PC)

Aine-Maire Ui-Neill, Secretary Belfast Branch INTO (PC)

Jim Magee, INTO Newry Branch, Honorary Member (PC)

Donna Daly, INTO (PC)

Seamus Hanna, Chair INTO Northern Committee (PC)

David Nolan, Vice Chair Newry Branch INTO (PC)

Caoimhin MacColaim, INTO Northern Committee (PC)

Gregor Kerr, Dublin North City branch INTO (PC)

Caoimhin MacColaim, INTO (PC)

Christine McDonnell, Unite (PC)

John Douglas, General Secretary MANDATE

John Kelly, INTO Northern Committee (PC)

Noreen Kelly, Secretary Newry Branch INTO (PC)

Fionnualla Hughes, INTO Newry Branch Committee (PC)

Declan McReynolds, Vice-Chair Armagh Branch INTO (PC)

John O’Brien, INTO (PC); ICTU Global Solidarity Committee (PC)

Paul Woods, Chair of Belfast West branch, INTO (PC)

Caroline McCarthy, INTO Northern Committee (PC)

Fiona Maguire, Vice-Chairperson Newry Trades Council (PC); Vice-Chairperson, NIPSA Branch 733 (PC)

Oliver Short, Chair of Newry Branch INTO (PC)

Ruairí Creaney, Organiser Communications Workers’ Union Ireland

Siobhan Mc Laughlin, Secretary of Dungannon Branch INTO (PC)

Elaine Daly, SIPTU member (PC)

Derry City Trades Union Council (DTUC)

Daisy Mules INTO (PC); Treasurer DTUC

Natalie Fleming, Communication Workers’ Union; Secretary DTUC

Liam Gallagher, UNITE; Chair DTUC

Marguerite Faloona, UNISON (PC)

Catherine Hutton, UNISON (PC)

Zoe Lawlor, Unite (PC)

Niall Mc Carroll, UNISON (PC)

Shaun Harkin, UNISON (PC)

Becca Bor, UNISON (PC)

Damien Condren, UNISON (PC)

Gary Mc Clean, UNISON (PC)

Carly Johnston, UNISON (PC)

Ruaidhri Galligan, UNISON (PC)

Emma Devine, UNISON (PC)

Fearghal Duffy, UNISON (PC)

Sinead Millar, UNISON (PC)

Caroline Gillespie, UNISON (PC)

Barry Donaghy, UNISON (PC)

Viv Brady, UNISON (PC)

Sinead Hannigan, UNISON (PC)

Peter Robinson, UNISON (PC)

Kathleen Bradley, UNISON (PC)

Pauline Lagan, UNISON (PC)

Anna Roe, UNISON (PC)

Chelsea Duffy, UNISON (PC)

Bernadette Doherty, UNISON (PC)

Conall Ó Dufaigh, Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (PC)

Martin O’Quigley, IMPACT (PC)

Kevin Squires, Unite (PC); National Coordinator, Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign

This letter has also been endorsed formally by:

Academics for Palestine, Ireland

Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign
(Note: INTO is the Irish National Teachers’ Association; PC indicates in a private capacity)

Please sign: We Stand With Palestinian Rights Activist Christoph Glanz Against Zionist Witch-Hunt

Please click here to sign the statement below!

oldenburg_7_37687e38-7d2f-4095-876a-ebc8bd52e941-427x337

We Stand With Palestinian Rights Activist Christoph Glanz Against Zionist Witch-Hunt
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, October 13, 2016

On October 10, 2016, the Jerusalem Post published an article by anti-Palestinian propagandist Benjamin Weinthal under the screaming headline, “‘Antisemitic’ German teacher posed as a Jew to push   anti-Israel agenda.”

The designated target is Christoph Glanz, German activist, teacher, lifelong anti-fascist, and self-described former liberal Zionist. His supposed crime is having been listed as both a Jewish and non-Jewish endorser of Jews for Palestinian Right of Return (JPRR) in 2013.

This is at least the seventh time in 2016 that Weinthal has falsely accused Glanz of anti-Semitism, and reflects a pattern of such smears by Weinthal against numerous other Palestinian rights advocates.

In this case, as a simple inquiry would have revealed, Glanz’ double identification on JPRR’s statement was an inadvertent error on our part (now corrected), listing him among more than 700 other endorsers.

In any case, just what is anti-Semitic about JPRR’s observation that, “[f]or more than a century, Zionists have sought to construct a ‘Jewish state’ through forced removal of the indigenous Palestinian people”?

Or that “the Zionist regime officially denies the Nakba, the ethical equivalent of Holocaust denial”?

Or that Palestinian refugees have the inalienable right to return?

Readers are invited to read our full statement and decide for themselves.

Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitic; it’s anti-racist, anti-apartheid, and anti-colonialist. And Weinthal’s bogus accusations reflect an increasingly desperate witch-hunt to stifle the surging worldwide support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement — many of whose supporters are Jewish.

Christoph Glanz will not be silenced by such attacks, and neither will we.

NLRB Upholds Union’s Right To Endorse BDS Against Israel (In These Times)

In These Times
WEDNESDAY, JUL 27, 2016, 6:38 PM

NLRB Upholds Union’s Right To Endorse BDS Against Israel

BY ALEX KANE

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has upheld a decision to dismiss a complaint against the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE) for endorsing a boycott of Israel.

The move is a victory for advocates of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which targets Israel over alleged human rights abuses against Palestinians. Earlier this year, the NLRB ruled against Shurat HaDin, the Israeli legal center that brought the complaint seeking an injunction against UE’s decision to endorse boycotting Israel. The latest decision was in response to an appeal filed by Shurat HaDin.

UE endorsed the call for BDS at its August convention, making it the first national union in the United States to support the boycott. The resolution denounced Israeli racism and wars in the Gaza Strip and supported an end of U.S. military aid to Israel.

Palestinian trade unions have appealed for solidarity from unions around the world, urging them to endorse the BDS movement, which calls for an end to the Israeli occupation, equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel and the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Labor unions in South Africa, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Uruguay, and Canada have endorsed BDS. And in addition to UE, a handful of labor union chapters in the United States has joined the call for a boycott of Israel. These unions have joined a growing movement, modeled on the fight against South African apartheid, to isolate Israel.

In October, two months after UE endorsed BDS, Shurat HaDin filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB. The group alleged that the UE decision to endorse BDS violated U.S. labor law, claiming the union encouraged its members to engage in an illegal “secondary boycott.”

Under U.S. labor law, a union cannot encourage others who work at “neutral employers”—those outside of a direct dispute between a union and its employer—to strike or stop work. In a statement, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, head of Shurat HaDin, said it was a “violation of American labor law for the union to encourage its members to cease doing business with Israelis and Israeli companies.”

But the NLRB disagreed. The labor board first dismissed the complaint in January. After Shurat HaDin appealed, the NLRB ruled in May that the union’s endorsement of BDS was not a “signal or request” to employees “to engage in a work stoppage against their employers,” which would be illegal.

(The union only recently commented on the NLRB’s decision because it was waiting for the results of a Freedom of Information Act request on the case. It still has not received a response.)

“As a result of the NLRB decision, it really allows for any other unions to go through and endorse the BDS movement without having to deal with … attacks from organizations that are trying to curb political speech,” Andrew Dinkelaker, general secretary-treasurer of UE, said this month.

Dinkelaker added that the pro-BDS decision was in line with the union’s history of international solidarity, like its support for an end to U.S. aid to apartheid South Africa.

Shurat HaDin did not respond to repeated requests for comment on this story.

BDS activists hope that the boycott Israel movement grows inside labor unions. So far, advocates for BDS have found the most success within graduate student unions.

In December 2014, United Auto Workers-2865, which represents thousands of teaching assistants and other student workers at the University of California, overwhelmingly endorsed BDS. In November 2015, the Connecticut chapter of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations called on the national union to boycott and divest from companies complicit in the Israeli occupation. And this year, graduate student unions at New York University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Massachusetts endorsed the boycott. The union endorsements of the BDS movement came after actions like August 2014’s “Block the Boat,” in which dockworkers in Oakland, California, heeding the calls of Palestine solidarity activists, refused to unload Israeli goods for four days in protest of Israel’s assault on Gaza that summer.

But as boycott advocates establish a foothold within labor unions, opponents of BDS have gone on the attack against the movement. In addition to the Shurat HaDin charge against UE, a group of anti-BDS members of UAW-2865 appealed the chapter’s endorsement of the boycott. In December 2015, the parent UAW International nullified the chapter’s decision.

Liz Jackson, a staff attorney at Palestine Legal, a group that defends the right to advocate for Palestine in the United States, said that Shurat HaDin’s complaint against UE “never had legs to begin with” because it had no legal merit.

But Jackson said the legal complaint was just one part of a bigger strategy to combat the BDS movement.

“They clearly are bringing obviously frivolous lawsuits and legal complaints to scare supporters of BDS and drain resources,” Jackson added. “They use legal threats as part of the strategy to persuade people in the upper echelons of institutional power structures to crush [BDS].”

Alex Kane is a New York-based freelance journalist who writes on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties.