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The Movements of Immigrants, Black Lives, Refugees and the Indigenous Talk About the Centrality of Palestine

The Movements of Immigrants, Black Lives, Refugees and the Indigenous Talk About the Centrality of Palestine

The Movements of Immigrants, Black Lives, Refugees and the Indigenous Talk About the Centrality of Palestine

25MAR

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To a standing-room-only crowd of about 75 people, a discussion: “From Palestine to Mexico, All the Walls Have Got to Go” was held on Wednesday, March 22, at 6101 Wilshire Blvd., formerly Johnie’s with the theme, “grassroots movements for human liberation increasingly recognize #Palestinian liberation as a central component of intersectionality (sic),” according the Facebook page of the event.

Also according to the same Facebook page, the event was sponsored by Al-Awda the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, American Indian Movement Southern California, California for Progress, HP Boycott Campaign-Los Angeles, Idle No More L.A., Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, Jewish Voice for Peace-L.A., Labor for Standing Rock, LA4Palestine, and March and Rally Los Angeles.

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Karen Pomer, who was the lead event organizer, also according the Facebook page, and who is also with Labor for Standing Rock, said, “If we are missing a few people tonight, it’s because we have hundreds of people that we helped organize along with many other groups outside the L.A. County Sheriff’s Office tonight fighting back against the raids and again protecting the state of California from ICE (U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

To read the Facebook page, which announced the discussion, click here.

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Pomer introduced Garik Ruiz.  Ruiz said he’s the North America liaison for the Palestinian BDS Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) National Committee (BNC).  Thus, he works with organizations fighting for human rights for Palestinians against the Israeli state.  Ruiz reported last week the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia released a report for the first time named Israel as “creating a system of apartheid” and asked governments to respond to the BDS campaigns.  Because of pressure from the U.S. and Israel, the U.N. removed the report.  In response, the director resigned rather than withdraw the report.  He also reported the Israeli state had detained prominent Palestinian human rights defender Omar Barghouti placed him under “intense interrogation” to intimidate him and the BDS movement.  Click here to read the the full statement on Barghouti by BNC.

Ruiz then introduced the panelists: Amani Al-Hindi Barakat, who was born in Kuwait and is the National Chairwoman of Al-Awda, the Palestine Right of Return Coalition; Alfredo Gama, who is a member of the Papalotl Brown Berets and an organizer of the recent immigration protests; Nana Gyamfi, who is a member and co-founder of Justice Warriors 4 Black Lives, a network of attorneys and non-attorneys providing legal support for the Movement for Black Lives, including BLMLA; Michael Letwin, who is a New York City public defender, former president of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (United Auto Workers Local 2325) and Labor for Standing Rock; Lydia Ponce, who is an organizer with the American Indian Movement and Idle No More of Southern California and an organizer of the No Dakota Access Pipeline protests in Los Angeles; and Ameena Mirza Qazi, who is the Executive Director of the L.A. chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, civil rights attorney who has worked on free speech, social and economic justice, discrimination and due process issues.

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Barakat characterized herself as a Palestinian-American immigrant and refugee.  She said, “Trump’s win … has been very difficult and exhausting for many of us…. Aside from him (President Trump) bringing us together today, we’re only two months into his administration and we’re already seeing a change in the American landscape….Tens of thousands of citizens across the country have stormed congressional offices and town hall meetings.…We can see today policy flourishing in the larger institutional structure that serve only select few in the American society.  Whether you’re Black, Latino, Native American, LGBQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Queer) or a Muslim, the system excludes you equally….As a Palestinian, I can say with certainty that injustices we face are the same ones our Black, Latino and Native American brothers and sisters have faced for far too long.”

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Next was Gama.  He said when he was first asked to speak he was reminded of the Facebook picture, which said, “From Ayotzinapa to Ferguson to Palestine.”  He then explained that Ayotzinapa is “where 43 students went missing, to Ferguson, where Michael Brown was murdered right to Palestine, where … indigenous Palestinians are also being murdered…. We have to understand we are still a colonized people…. The law is not about justice but power…. We are illegal because we are profitable…. We are saying we are here and we are here to stay.”

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Gyamfi followed Gama.  She almost immediately said, “It is clear that everyone that’s here is someone who understands that how this system is constructed is completely wrong, that it needs to be destroyed and that we need to build a new world.”  She pointed out the Platform for the Movement for Black Lives in 2016 included support for BDS and Palestinian autonomy because Pan-Africanism and the struggle of the Palestinians are a result of colonialism.  At the end, she said, “We are talking about the onslaught on the freedom, the liberation, the autonomy of indigenous populations and we will win together.”

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Letwin followed Gyamfi.  He said the struggle around Palestine is “a beating heart” of intersectionality, which puts Palestine in the center.  Letwin rhetorically asked what the Trump administration means for the movements?  He said while the Trump era is troubling and worrisome, the response, the resistance to it is hopeful.  He pointed out that the policies of the Trump administration that the grassroots movements are responding to are the policies that were part of the Obama administration and all the administrations before it.  Letwin’s last point was that different struggles must include those struggles that have been most marginalized, like the struggles of Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter, and Palestine.

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Ponce immediately reminded the audience they were on the land of the Tonga people.  She said when we come to these kinds of gatherings and meetings, “we recognize that we are all healing from our historical trauma and that the value of coming together like this is to do it more often.”  Ponce said activists “need to step out of their comfort zone and “just show up” even when it “may not be your thing.”  She added, “For solutions tonight, … is to accept the idea the economic elite has declared war on all of us and has signed a death certificate for earth mother.”

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Last to speak on the round was Qazi.  She wasted no words.  She described briefly that the question of Palestine was important to the Middle East South Asian Committee, which is part of the International Committee of the National Lawyers Guild.  She spoke of the Arabic concept of “ummah,” which means community, but also “transcends space and time” and the need to return to that concept that was used before 9/11.  She said, “The United States plays the most active role in oppression of foreign peoples with the suppression of Palestinian rights.”

Ruiz posed some questions to the panel.  First, besides just showing up, are there ways to develop what Ruiz called, “joint struggle.”  Barakat said it was important to learn about each other’s struggles and then participate.  Gama said it was important “to show up but to shut up.”  He said for himself, while he can learn about the Palestinian struggle and stand in solidarity with it, he understood the Palestinians must lead their own struggle.  Gyamfi said issues need to be identified that “we have the same opposing force” and that we understand that we are oppressed and harmed in different ways.  Letwin said one area for potential struggle is to look at “class” and when attempts are made to exclude folks, we need to figure out a way to participate without being silenced, including our own contingents.  Ponce echoed Gama and ended her thoughts with “honor the differences but find the similarities.”  Qazi said it was important to create safe spaces for all of us.  She used a recent example, where it was necessary for the NLG had to boycott a meeting because the Anti-Defamation League (According to the Electronic Intifada, the ADL had been advising universities how to isolate the BDS movement.  Click here to read the Electronic Intifada article.), was participating.  To educate those at the meeting, the NLG sent a letter explaining its decision.

Ruiz posed a second question: what does it mean for us to be supporting Palestinian indigenous resistance, when we are doing that work here on indigenous land and how can we better shape our campaigns and messaging?  Ponce said it was divestment and the need to support the United Nations’ Declaration of Rights for the Indigenous People.

Ruiz posed a third question: how can the Palestine Solidarity Movement in the U.S. do more to support the Movement for Black Lives?  Gyamfi said one way is “to address the anti-blackness within in the Palestinian population.”

ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION: “From Palestine to Mexico, All the Walls Have Got to Go!”

 

From #BlackLivesMatter to #StandingRock, from#NoBanNoWall to the #InternationalWomensStrike, grassroots movements for human liberation increasingly recognize #Palestinian liberation as a central component of intersectionality.

Join some of the leading representatives from these movements to discuss how we can deepen coalition building and a united front within mushrooming resistance in the Trump era.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 22nd
6:30 PM: Reception with refreshments
7:00 PMRound Table starts promptly

WHERE: Formerly Johnie’s Coffee Shop 
6101 Wilshire Blvd, (at Fairfax) Los Angeles, CA 90048

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MODERATOR: Garik Ruiz, the North America Liaison for the Palestinian#BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. He works with local and national partners throughout North America to support BDS campaigns and be a direct link for local organizers back to the BNC leadership in Palestine. Garik spent 6 months in Palestine at the height of the second Intifada in 2002 and 2003 working with Palestinians resisting the occupation non-violently through the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). LA-based Garik has been deeply involved in local struggles for racial and environmental justice over the years.

ROUND TABLE PANELISTS:

 
Amani Al-Hindi Barakat, Palestinian-American community organizer, refugee born in Kuwait, and originally from the village of Tantoura in the suburbs of Haifa. Currently the National Chair of Al-Awda the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, and a board member of the newly launched Palestine Foundation; organizer of many of So-Cal Palestinian Solidarity actions.

Alfredo Gama,
 member Papalotl Brown Berets; undocumented (illegal) youth organizer; organizer of many of the recent large immigration #NoWallNoRaid protests in the Los Angeles area.

Robert Gardnerstudent activist; member of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at UCLA, who has been targeted by ultra rightwing Zionists for his activities; a senior studying Political Science, African American Studies, and Urban Planning.

Nana Gyamfi, member and co-founder of Justice Warriors 4 Black Lives, a network of attorneys and non-attorneys dedicated to providing legal support for the Movement for Black Lives, which includes BLMLA; represented all the BLMLA members who were arrested/had court cases/went to trial from 2014 – 2016; will continue to represent BLMLA members who ask for representation. 

Michael Letwin, 
NYC public defender; former president, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW 2325; 1960s-1970s L.A. youth activist (Red Tide); co-founder of New York City Labor Against the War, Labor for Palestine, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, Labor for Standing Rock.

Lydia Ponce, organizer with American Indian Movement-SoCal; Idle No More LA; lead organizer of all the many #NoDAPL protests in LA.

Ameena Mirza Qazi, Executive Director of the LA chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. A civil rights attorney and activist; she has worked on free speech, social and economic justice, discrimination, First Amendment, equal protection, and procedural due process issues, including #NoWallNoBan.

SPONSORING ORGANIZATIONS: 
Al-Awda the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, American Indian Movement (AIM) So-Cal, California for Progress, Idle No More LA, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, Labor for Standing Rock and LA4Palestine, March and Rally Los Angeles.

 
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Labor and Women’s Rights Movement Plan Ambitious Mass Protests to Fight Trumpism (Alternet)

Labor for Standing Rock Pamphlet

View in PDF format: l4sr-first-pamphlet

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Solidarity Rising: Two More UAW Graduate Employee Units Endorse BDS!

Screenshot 2016-03-23 17.48.25Solidarity Rising: Two More UAW
Graduate Employee Units Endorse BDS!

 

Screenshot 2016-04-26 18.30.03Joint Statement GSOC-UAW 2110 and GEO-UAW 2322 are Latest Unions to Vote for Divestment
This past week the NYU Graduate Employee Union (GSOC-UAW 2110) and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Graduate Employee Union (GEO-UAW 2322), both representing 2,000 members each, endorsed by full membership vote the call from all major Palestinian trade unions and civil society groups to impose Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. . . . In December 2014, the 14,000 student-worker union at the University of California (UAW Local 2865) system passed a similar resolution supporting BDS with 65% in favor.

 

JWJContext: America’s Labor Unions Are Increasingly Standing with Palestine (Alternet)
Following a well-attended panel hosted by Western Mass Labor for Palestine at the April 16 Jobs With Justice Conference in Springfield, MA, author Vijay Prashad extensively reviews the rise of Labor for Palestine and U.S. trade union support for BDS. Panelists included Prashad, LFP Co-Conveners Suzanne Adely and Michael Letwin, Carol Lambiase (United Electrical Workers), Bill Shortell (International Association of Machinists), and was moderated by WMLFP members Jordy Rosenberg and Ruth Jennison. Prashad’s article concludes by quoting Adely: “Ultimately, building labor solidarity with Palestine and with all anti-racist struggles is part of the fight to build a stronger, democratic union movement.”

 

delegation-birzeitLabor to Palestine: We Stand with Palestine in the Spirit of “Sumud”: The U.S. Prisoner, Labor and Academic Solidarity Delegation to Palestine
On April 16, the nineteen-member March 2016 delegation to Palestine, which included LFP Co-convener Jaime Veve and several other trade unionists, issued a powerful report stating, in part: “We join hands with our comrades in the Palestinian labor movement and salute the struggle of striking teachers, labor organizers and workers demanding economic justice, independence and national self-determination from colonial structures. We further pledge to campaign in the ranks of U.S. labor to divest from Israeli bonds and sever ties between the AFL-CIO and the Histadrut.” To host a local event with delegation members, contact palestine.prison.delegation16@gmail.com

 

socialsecstrike-maanLabor in Palestine: Mass Rally Against Approval of New “Social Security” Law (IMEMC)
Thousands of Palestinians, on Tuesday, demonstrated outside of a government building, in the occupied West Bank hub of Ramallah, against the Palestinian Authority’s approval of a new law many believe fails to provide adequate protection for workers. . . . Weeks earlier, a teachers’ strike brought the largest public demonstrations against the PA in years.

Analysis: Eric Lee: The Online Labour Solidarity Whiz who’s ‘Proud to be a Zionist’
In a new article, British BDS activists Peter Waterman discusses the hypocrisy of Zionist anti-BDS spokesperson Eric Lee, owner of the widely-read website, LabourStart.

Download: New Labor for Palestine Pamphlet
Key background documents from Labor for Palestine, prepared for 2016 Labor Notes conference.

Donate

U.S. Unions Under Attack by the Israeli Government (The Sruggle)

The Struggle

U.S. Unions Under Attack by the Israeli Government

Defend US Unions

In 2015 official bodies of the U.S. trade union movement began to endorse BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) in support of Palestinian rights. In the summer at convention the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers Union passed a resolution calling for an end of U.S. military aid to Israel and endorsing the BDS movement. They got a thank you from 3,000 people, but a lawsuit from the Israeli government.

The Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center filed a charge under the hated Taft-Hartley provision of the National Labor Relations Act saying the resolution amounted to a secondary boycott. A secondary boycott is where you ask people to boycott a company to try to make it stop doing business with a company that you’re striking or taking some other labor action. The Shurat HadDin was claiming the unions was acting like a “discriminatory hate group”.

Then at the very end of October the Connecticut AFL-CIO federation (repesenting 200,000 workers) passed a resolution requesting the national AFL-CIO join in measures of BDS against Israel. The Israeli government-funded “Stand with Us” group issued a statement saying it was “deeply disappointed”. You can imagine what their “disappointment” will lead to, alliances with anti-union billionaires, lying charges of anti-Semitism and the like.

The rank and file group “Labor for Palestine” notes that in addition to the Israeli government, StandWithUs lists as its “sponsors and partners” dozens of the most extreme Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian organizations active today, including CAMERA, Christians United for Israel, the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Zionist Organization of America.

What You Can Do

Sign on to the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation petition in support of the CT AFL-CIO. (4,500 signers as of Thanksgiving) Get your union to pass a resolution in support of BDS

If you’re not in a union, join one

Contact one or more of these national AFL-CIO Executive Board members and urge them to speak out in favor of BDS and get the national AFL-CIO to support BDS.

If you’re in a union ask your local or international Treasurer in writing if it owns Israel Bonds and tell him/her to sell off the bonds and invest in something that would benefit U.S. workers. See one union’s answer to a letter in 2009.

Check out the rank-and-file group Labor for Palestine

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How Taft-Hartley weakened unions and working people

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Image digitized in the late 2000s and processed for the Oakland Museum of California Museum Technology Initiative for Educational Outreach, July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011.

Image digitized in the late 2000s and processed for the Oakland Museum of California Museum Technology Initiative for Educational Outreach, July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011.

solidarity forever
from a censored mural by Mike Alewitz

Barcelona Dockworkers Salute ILWU Local 10 and 34

Letter from Barcelona to ILWU

Carrer del Mar, 97 – 08003 – Barcelona -Tel. 93 221 58 23 – Fax 93 221 65 88\ zonacatalana@coordinadora.org

Barcelona, September 5, 2014

ILWU International Longshoremen Workers Union

Locals 1 0 and 34

Dear brothers and sisters,

On behalf of the dockworkers of Barcelona, Spain, we want to congratulate you on the actions of the past summer, in support of the Palestinian struggle for survival. With your solidarity you did your bit to stop the slaughter that the Israeli government was perpetrating on the civilian population of Gaza.

As workers we are aware that we must build the tools that allow us to make this world a better place to live, not only defending our rights, but also those denouncing unfair wars whose main victims are civilians. Such actions are those that give real meaning to our unions.

Comrades, receive our fraternal greetings. Oakland longshore solidarity action should be an inspiration for dockworkers around the world.

Yours in solidarity,

Jordi Aragunde Miguens Delegate from Barcelona and member of the International Area of La Coordinadora, Spain.

Thousands march on California port to prevent Israeli ship’s arrival (Electronic Intifada)

Electronic Intifada

Thousands march on California port to prevent Israeli ship’s arrival

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Crowd chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot” at the Oakland Port.

(Charlotte Silver)

“Let the world register that on 16 August 2014, we prevented the apartheid Zim liner for the second time from docking and unloading anywhere on the West Coast,” declared the official statement from the Arab Resource and Organizing Center when word arrived that the Israeli cargo ship had chosen to stay at sea, avoiding thousands of protesters marching toward the northern California port of Oakland on Saturday.

Bay Area activists see their success at delaying the Israeli cargo ship from offloading at Oakland as a significant victory for Palestine solidarity work, especially in light of Israel’s month-long assault on the civilian population of Gaza.

For more than two weeks, Palestine solidarity activists have been mobilizing their own network as well as reaching out to port workers in the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union to ensure that Oakland port would be shut down for the Zim vessel’s usual weekly arrival.

Zim Integrated Shipping Services is Israel’s international maritime cargo company.

On Friday night an online ship tracking service showed that the container vesselZim Piraeus remained at sea off Monterey, California, rather than docking at Oakland as would have been expected.

Delays in docking may add significant costs for Zim as well as holding up the delivery of cargo to final destinations.

Activists believe this was in direct response to the dockside mobilization. Organizers called off the original 5:00am Saturday meet-up time, and sent word to participants via social media and email to rally instead at 3:00pm, when another shift of port workers would be called in.

Reem Assil, an activist with the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, told The Electronic Intifada that protest organizers suspected the ship’s maneuver toward Monterey was an attempt to diffuse momentum for the action.

But on Saturday afternoon hundreds of people convened at the West Oakland BART public transit station to march to the port en masse to create a picket line.

Solidarity with Ferguson

While the solidarity action was in response to the Israeli bombardment of Gaza and to a call by the Palestinian General Federation Trade Union, marchers also called attention to the recent murder of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

As approximately two thousand people filed into the port with drum beats keeping their energy up, many chanted: “From Ferguson to Palestine, police brutality is a crime,” “Hands up, don’t shoot!” as well as “Block the boat! Block, block the boat!” and “Free Palestine, Long live the Intifada!”

Witnesses said that the unarmed Brown was shot to death by a police officer on 9 August as he tried to surrender, sparking ongoing protests in Ferguson and around the country at this latest act of unprovoked police brutality targeting a young African American man.

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Marching toward the port.

(Charlotte Silver)

Even before the demonstrators made it to the loading dock, however, organizers got word that the Zim ship would remain at sea and not dock at the Oakland Port.

AROC members read their victory statement as they continued to march toward Berth 57, where Zim Pireauswas scheduled to dock:

The Zim Pireaus arrived in Northern California by afternoon yesterday. It could have docked by early Saturday morning. We held the Zim off in place due to our readiness and mobilization at 5am. We showed up again at 3pm to stop the scheduled work crews from unloading the ship. Our actions today have sent a clear message that genocide and apartheid does not pay in Oakland, or anywhere on the West Coast.

Our action along with the hundreds of thousands of people who mobilized worldwide in solidarity with the resilient Palestinian people should send a clear and resounding message that the beginning of the end for the Zionist apartheid regime in Palestine is upon us.

Once at Berth 57, a line up of speakers from some of the seventy different organizations that had endorsed the action read statements in solidarity.

Eyad Kishawi, a local activist and frequent speaker, told the crowd: “As the people in Gaza under occupation have a right to defend themselves … so do the people in Ferguson from a racist system.”

According to local reports, the Zim Pireaus is now scheduled to dock tonight, 17 August, and the Marine Traffic website shows it steaming toward the San Francisco Bay.

Assil said that AROC is excited about building on the momentum of the event for future actions, as well as the strong Palestinian solidarity activist and worker coalition that this event helped to forge.

A16: NYC Solidarity With West Coast Blockade of the Israeli Zim Ship

A16: NYC Solidarity With West Coast Blockade of the Israeli Zim Ship

Block the Boat Blue

Please join, repost and forward widely!

To list your organization as an endorser of NYC Solidarity with West Coast Blockade of Israeli ZIM Ship, Saturday, August 16 (below), please reply by return email to laborforpalestine.us@gmail.com

Please also join Block the Boat actions in LA/Long Beach (August 13), Oakland (August 16) and Tacoma/Seattle (August 20).

NYC Solidarity with West Coast Blockade of Israeli ZIM Ship
Saturday, August 16
1:00 PM
Israeli Mission to UN (42nd St and 2nd Ave)

Come out on Saturday, August 16 at 1 PM (42nd & 2nd) in NYC to show your solidarity for this critically important action in Oakland: Join Labor for Palestine, New York City Labor Against the War, Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and many others to show support for:

Block the Boat Large

Stop Israel at the Port
Zionism isn’t welcome on our Coast!
West Coast Blockade of the Israeli Zim Ship

Port of Oakland
Saturday, August 16th
5am
Meet at West Oakland Bart and march to Berth 57
Those planning to participate: subscribe to text-alerts and receive live updates about the 8/16 Block the Boat, text “join” to (510) 346-5951.

STOP THE SIEGE ON GAZA!
END THE COLONIAL OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE!
RIGHT OF RETURN FOR ALL PALESTINIAN REFUGEES!
FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!
BOYCOTT, DIVEST, SANCTION!

What’s happening?
The world has watched in horror as Israel has continued to bombard and devastate Gaza. Millions around the globe have come out in support of the Palestinian people and against the Zionist regime, holding massive marches, demonstrations, and actions. Here in the Bay, San Francisco witnessed some of the biggest mobilizations in recent years, with a series of marches, each bringing out thousands of people. It’s time to step it up.

Call to Action
Palestine is calling us to action! Palestinians laborers, Palestinian General Federation Trade Union (PGFTU), have called on workers around the world to refuse to handle Israel goods. Palestinians throughout Gaza, the West Bank and 1948 Palestine have demonstrated their unity in the struggle against Apartheid Israel and have taken to the streets in the tens of thousands, bravely facing Israeli military armed with US made weapons to call on the international community to stand with them as they resist Zionism throughout all of historic Palestine. We will be answering this call by organizing community pickets at the Port of Oakland, asking the longshoreman to honor this request and to stand with the people of Palestine as they have done in the past.

Historical Background
During apartheid in South Africa, ILWU workers made history when they refused to unload South African cargo in San Francisco in 1984. This action was a major catalyst for international anti-apartheid solidarity and struggle worldwide. In 2010, after a Turkish flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, was attacked by Israel for attempting to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza, we built on ILWU’s history and successfully blocked the Israeli Zim ship from being unloaded at the Port of Oakland – the first time in US history an Israeli ship was blocked. We will be continuing this legacy by organizing to block the Israeli ship once again. And just as apartheid fell in South Africa, so too it will fall in Israel!

Sustained BDS in the Bay
If there is one thing that the latest Israeli attacks show, it’s the power of Palestinian resilience. The resistance in Gaza is still alive and thriving, despite Israel’s ongoing attempts to destroy it. But we should always remember that the Palestinian resistance did not begin with Israel’s latest bombardment, nor did it begin during the last bombardment. It has been going on since 1948, since Israel came into existence. And it will not cease until Israeli apartheid falls.

We refuse to allow Israel to conduct its business as usual, here in the Bay and everywhere!

Every Saturday, the Israeli owned Zim shipping line docks and unloads its cargo at the Port of Oakland. Let this action be the beginning of a sustained campaign to stop the Israeli ship from ever unloading in our town.

From Seattle to Oakland to Los Angeles – turn the Israeli ship around!

We encourage all of our allies on the West Coast to join us in ensuring that Zim ships are not welcome anywhere.

Not in Palestine
Not in the Bay
Not Anywhere
Stand Against Zionism Everywhere

Endorsed by:

American Friends Service Committee
American Muslims for Palestine
ANSWER Coalition
Arab Youth Organizing (AYO)
AROC: Arab Resource & Organizing Center
ASATA: Alliance of South Asians Taking Action
BAYAN-USA
Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition
Black Organizing Project (BOP)
Black Organizing Leadership and Dignity (BOLD)
Catalyst Project
CodePink Washington
Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism (CODZ)
Communist Party of San Francisco
Critical Resistance – LA
Critical Resistance – Oakland
Descoloniza a Oakland/Decolonize Oakland
Free Palestine Movement
Freedom Archives
Friends of Deir Ibzi’a
Fuerza Mundial/Pueblos en Movimiento
General Union of Palestine Students – SFSU
Global Women’s Strike
Gray Panthers of San Francisco
Haiti Action Committee
International Action Center
International Jewish Anti Zionist Network
International Socialist Organization
International Tribunal of Conscience for Camilo
ISM-Nor Cal
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
Justice for Palestinians
Labor for Palestine
Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
Marcha Patriotica (Colombia) – California chapter
Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA)
National Lawyers Guild SFBA Chapter
NorCal Friends of Sabeel
Occupy SF Action Council
ONYX Organizing Committee
The Palestine-Israel Action Committee
Palestinian Youth Movement
Queers Undermining Israeli Terror
San Francisco Green Party
Socialist Organizer
SOUL: School of Unity and Liberation
Stanford Students for Justice
Students for Justice in Palestine – Cal
Totally Radical Muslims
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
US Committee for the Academic and Cultural Boycott
US Palestinian Community Network
World Can’t Wait Bay Area
Workers World Party
Xicana Moratorium

For more info: info@araborganizing.org | 415-861-7444

USACBI Condemns UIUC Firing of Arab-American Scholar Steven Salaita

USACBI Condemns UIUC Firing of Arab-American Scholar Steven Salaita

 

salaitaThe Organizing Collective of the  US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel protests in the strongest possible terms the termination of the appointment of Professor Steven Salaita by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).  According to the report inInside Higher Education, UIUC  has rescinded its employment contract with Salaita based on his public stance on Israel-Palestine.  Having publicly announced the appointment of Salaita as Associate Professor (with tenure) of American Indian Studies after the customary full review, the university has withdrawn his appointment. In other words, Salaita has been fired. This negative action constitutes a blatant violation of Salaita’s academic freedom and an insidious assault upon him and on those who uphold the right to honest and ethical critique in the academy.  We are gravely concerned about this attack on a  leading scholar in Arab American studies and ethnic, indigenous, and American studies, whose brilliantly pathbreaking and highly prolific scholarship has put him at the forefront of these fields.

USACBI strenuously protests the targeting of Professor Salaita for his political viewpoints which should be protected under the First Amendment, , and demands that he be reinstated and allowed to continue with his academic pursuits and his teaching duties and that the university protect his rights to engage in political discourse on and off campus.

The university’s politically-motivated firing of Salaita, who is an Arab American of Palestinian background, over his expression of his political opinions in social media, is apparently an act of submission to  pressure from those who object to the language with which he chooses to express those opinions. In responding to the massacre of children, Salaita chooses precise descriptions and righteous outrage rather than dispassion or euphemism.  The extra burden placed on those voicing opposition to forms of violence or oppression for which there is popular as well state support—that is, one must be “civil” in one’s tone, especially if one is a scholar of color (or, for that matter, a woman)—is completely alien to any idea of academic freedom. In fact, if subject to such political adjudication, academic freedom becomes an arbitrary, racially motivated invention that can serve to build a case against a scholar who happens to be critical of Israel. In this case, Salaita is also a well-known proponent of the academic boycott of Israeli institutions, who was actively involved with the American Studies Association boycott resolution about which he has written extensively, a point that is very likely not irrelevant to this case.

There is strong evidence that UIUC is responding to public pressure from pro-Israel groups.  The decision to fire Salaita came after publication of attacks on him equating his support for Palestinians with antisemitism, a long-time strategy of silencing and one currently being used to discredit those marching to protest the more than 1,800 Palestinians killed so far by the Israeli military in Gaza. For example:

The Daily Caller on July 21 published this attack on Professor Salaita accusing him of anti-semitism:http://dailycaller.com/2014/07/21/university-of-illinois-professor-blames-jews-for-anti-semitism/

The Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote to University of Illinois administrators calling Professor Salaita’s support for Palestinian civil right “anti-semitic” http://jewishvoiceny.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8125:wiesenthal-center-calls-ui-profes

Cary Nelson of UIUC, who is deemed an authority on “academic freedom,” made clear in his comments to Ali Abunimah that in his months-long monitoring of Salaita’s social media use, that his concept of academic freedom does not extend to criticism of Israel.

http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/university-illinois-fires-professor-steven-salaita-after-gaza-massacre-tweets

UIUC has shown itself hostile to pro-Palestinian faculty by violating a faculty member’s protected rights. The University’s actions in this case are racist, violating  faculty members’ protected rights to freedom of expression and throwing their legally protected personal and academic freedoms under the bus when confronted with public pressure.  For  daring to vocally supporting Palestinian rights to freedom, Salaita currently has no job, no home of his own, and no health insurance.

Salaita’s expulsion from UIUC is part of a larger pattern of systematic squelching of free speech that, in effect, supports human rights violations against Palestinians. By labeling any and all critique of the Israeli state as “uncivil,” and miscasting and discrediting any such criticism as a form of impermissible or hate speech, any individual with the temerity to issue a position that challenges the status quo is subject to silencing or, in the case of Salaita, dismissal. That dissent from the status quo (even when in the realm of protected speech) can become grounds for job loss should trouble every one of us in academe or social justice movements. At stake is the preservation of the university’s integrity in which critical thought should flourish, not be  monitored and punished, especially when expressed in spaces (such as social media) that are and must remain outside the university’s purview when they are venues for faculty to express their political views.

Indeed, Salaita’s online speech and political activism are protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. His statements were political views, worthy of the highest constitutional protection.  They were not uttered in an academic context, nor made in the name of the university, and therefore they are not subject to professional censure such as may be invoked in tenure and appointment cases.  UIUC’s use of such criteria, based on the administration’s approval or disapproval of faculty’s statements on social media, would be an unconstitutional violation of First Amendment rights in any case, as it is in this case, which is why all of us should be outraged by UIUC’s actions.

Nonetheless, any claim that students, or colleagues, have the right to be free from what they consider uncomfortable criticism or from being subjected to views contrary to those they hold, is profoundly threatening to the fundamental tenets of university life and intellectual community, and the concept of free speech itself. Indeed, mental and moral discomfort are often essential conditions for serious learning and thoughtful consideration of views that challenge our preconceptions. While both federal and state law as well as university policy protect students from discrimination or antagonism based on their religious, ethnic, gender and other identities, no law could possibly protect students or faculty from hearing challenges to their political, religious or cultural beliefs simply on the grounds of their identification with them, so long as such discourse is conducted in a non-coercive and non-violent manner.

It seems that “academic freedom” has become a privilege, rather than a right, extended only to those who would preserve the status quo, and an alibi behind those who hold power protect their positions while dispensing with the rights and views of oppressed peoples and movements, and the colleagues who align with and support those struggles. This action by UIUC is a profound infringement of the freedom of intellectual inquiry on which the university is ostensibly based. Any organization, internal or external, that seeks to limit the free and full deliberation of any viewpoint, or the representation of perspectives inimical to it, trespasses on a principle of academic life so fundamental that the university would be unimaginable without it.

Professor Salaita has clearly been fired because his views and their public expression have caused discomfort to some in positions of power and influence.  His dismissal is an egregious infringement of faculty’s First Amendment rights, and institutional norms of academic freedom and offensive to those who support justice, freedom, and dignity for Palestinians. We demand that the University of Illinois honor its commitment to Salaita and to academic freedom and that his appointment to UIUC and free speech rights be restored.

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/08/06/u-illinois-apparently-revokes-job-offer-controversial-scholar#ixzz39cp8iHWz
Inside Higher Ed

http://www.usacbi.org/2014/08/usacbi-condemns-uiuc-firing-of-arab-american-scholar-steven-salaita/