Monthly Archives: September 2007

BRICUP Condemns UCU Ban on Discussion of Israeli Academic Boycott

September 29, 2007

BRICUP Condemns UCU Ban on Discussion of Israeli Academic Boycott

BRICUP (British Committee for the Universities of Palestine) today condemned the decision of the University and College Union (UCU) to cancel the tour of UK campuses by Palestinian academics. UCU was specifically instructed to organise this tour by the UCU Congress last May. The tour was intended to raise debate within the union about an academic boycott of Israeli universities. The UCU leadership under General Secretary Sally Hunt is hiding behind ‘legal advice’ which they have not disclosed to their members in order to sabotage a decision with which they disagree.In May 2007 in Bournemouth, UCU Annual Congress voted by 158 to 99 in favour of a resolution which instructed the National Executive Committee to

circulate the full text of the Palestinian boycott call to all branches/LAs for information and discussion;
encourage members to consider the moral implications of existing and proposed links with Israeli academic institutions;
organise a UK-wide campus tour for Palestinian academic/educational trade unionists;
issue guidance to members on appropriate forms of action.
actively encourage and support branches to create direct links with Palestinian educational institutions and to help set up nationally sponsored programmes for teacher exchanges, sabbatical placements, and research

The UCU senior office holders led by General Secretary Sally Hunt argued fiercely against this motion. The motion’s effect was to initiate a year-long debate about boycotting Israeli universities. Having lost the argument they are now finding other means to subvert the democratic vote of the union’s highest decision-making body.

This use of the law to interfere with democratic freedoms is a deeply worrying tendency – witness the 2005 Serious and Organized Crimes Act preventing protests around Parliament and Downing Street, and the decision last week to ban the march in Central London planned by the Stop the War Coalition.

BRICUP has the deepest doubts about the validity of the ‘legal advice’ which UCU is claiming as the reason for its cancellation of the tour by Palestinians, and the effective banning of discussion of the boycott topic in union branches. BRICUP demands answers to the following questions:

who provided the legal advice?
what was the verbatim advice received? It needs to be published so that it can be open to critical scrutiny
was any previous advice sought from other sources, and if so what was its content?

According to BRICUP co-chair Professor Jonathan Rosenhead “It is all too common for governments and other bodies to go to a lawyer who will give them the advice they want to hear. This is how the then Attorney General Lord Goldsmith got the advice that the invasion of Iraq was ‘legal’”.

Further information: Mike Cushman 07736 705294



Posted on 30-09-2007

End the War & Bring All the Troops Home Now! (NYCLAW)

[For formatted version, download: 92907-flyer.doc]

March in DC — Saturday, September 29, 2007 to:
End the War & Bring All the Troops Home Now!


*Immediate withdrawal from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia: Not another penny for war funding, timetables, redeployment, advisors, air-war, or aid to U.S. puppets. Reparations for U.S. devastation of the region.

*No Support to the Israeli Apartheid State: End the $5 billion annual U.S. government aid to Israel, divest all private investments and union funds, boycott Israel, end the occupation and fully implement the Palestinian right of return.

*No Attacks on Iran and Syria — Or Anyone Else.


*Defend Civil Liberties and Workers’ Rights.

*End Attacks on the Arab/Muslim Community.

*Full Amnesty for Undocumented Immigrants: No detention or deportation.

*Stop Police Brutality & Criminalization of Our Youth

*Money for Human Need, Not for War: Rebuild the Gulf Coast for — and under the control of — Katrina survivors. Decent jobs, food, housing, healthcare, education and transportation for all poor and working people.

National March on Washington
Gather at reflecting pool on west side of Capitol at 11 a.m Rally begins 12 noon

Labor Contingent
Assemble 12:45-1:15pm @ Maryland Avenue & 3rd Streets SW

Buses From NYC 212-633-6646

Issued by: New York City Labor Against the War, 917-566-4272

Solidarity message for TUC Congress 2007 (PGFTU)

Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)
Solidarity message for TUC Congress 2007

Shaher Sae’d, General Secretary

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Dear Friends and colleagues,

First of all I would like to express our apologies for not being able to be with you in your distinguished event, in the UK.

Today is a historical day in the life of international union movement to enhance once again principles and values which we struggle to achieve and for them many workers and union leaders have lost their lives or tortured by forces acting against freedom and rights.

We are sending you our solidarity from here from Palestine, which is attacked by Israeli soldiers through killing, injuring, arresting thousands of Palestinian, as well as demolishing, destroying factories, houses, roads without any comment from the International Community.

It was not before along time that workers had been denied their rights to form their unions or to enjoy their fundamental rights to represent their workers, to perform collective bargaining and agreements and to seek for equity and equality.

In this prospect you were, and will be the body in which union movement has been strengthened and deepened and become much aware of their responsibilities in fields of fair globalization, international peace, social justice, democracy and freedom.

We together fight against all kinds of discrimination, the use of force to solve conflicts and the violation of human rights. These values are now adopted and enhanced by our new organisation which will coordinate, link and support union relations and activities in this part of the world.

We in the PGFTU always appreciate and highly respect all the efforts to support the Palestinian struggle to achieve our legitimate rights and to establish the independent Palestinian state and to achieve permanent peace in the area to create the suitable environment for a better future for our workers and their families.

The political and economical situation is very critical. Nowadays and according to the United Nations reports nearly 70% of the Palestinian people are living under poverty line and more than 45% are unemployed. Israeli occupation authority is still violating the international laws, Geneva conventions and human rights. Workers are banned from free movement. The illegal wall makes the life of nearly half million people miserable.

We do hope that our distinguished organisation will continue efforts to pressure Israel to comply with UN resolutions to respect the rights of the Palestinian people, to withdraw from the occupied territories and to enable them to enjoy life as any people in the world.

On the union concerns, there are still many problems and obstacles facing our goals. Some authorities are still violating the principle rights, globalization is considered the greatest challenge not only for our unions and the rights of our workers but also for the mankind.

We do believe that we have to continue our struggle for improving the conditions of the workers by regional and international solidarity.

It is the time now to begin our activities to pave the way for new horizon from the well-being of all workers men and women, adults and young in independent and democratic unions.


During two months ago the Israeli Army attacked Lebanon, it repeated the same measures and crimes that practiced in Palestine as killing, injuring, destroying the infrastructures. This continuous series terrorism of the Israeli State should be stopped.

The results of the Israeli practices with its American Administration alliance gives difficult consequences in different levels (political, social, economical).

Now we are in Palestine in front of critical conditions.

All the Palestinian territories are involving into a general strike in public sector since the 2nd of September 2006, it will be an open strike which means that about 84,000 employees in the public sector don’t take their wages since six months, there is an increasing of the percentage of poverty and unemployment to reach to 27% of the Palestinian national income.

Since September 2000 we were discussing with you the impacts of the huge percentage of poverty and unemployment, but the situation nowadays becomes more difficult. In Gaza the situation is a nightmare, where the percentage of unemployment reaches 65% and poverty 70%. And after the redeployment of the Israeli Army from Gaza, it becomes a big prison, people are suffering deeply because Israeli authorities not only closed the Israeli borders with Gaza, but it also closed the borders with Egypt.

In this way Israel controlled the movement of the Palestinian workers and prohibited them to work inside the Green Line and even in Egypt. All this led to economical crises.

In the West Bank, the situation will become miserable after accomplishing the illegal wall, which is built by Israelis in the Palestinian lands.

Military checkpoints (over 370 ones) are spread between the cities make it very difficult for workers and for citizen to move freely and swiftly.

The journey, which takes 40 minutes, will take nowadays 4 hours.

Brothers and sisters,

Now in the Palestinian lands there are over than 360 thousands unemployed workers out of 985 thousands.

The workers loss during the last six years because of the Israeli restrictions are over $1,800 million. It is expected that in the beginning of the New Year new unemployed workers will join the unemployed army (additional 180 thousand) after the accomplishing of the illegal wall.

After the Israeli Army had failed to achieve its goals in Lebanon, the Palestinian community returned to be the target. Within a month Israeli army killed 300 citizens and destroyed hundreds of homes. More than 1000 families are now homeless.

All these violations are occurred without any comment from the international community as usual.

In this prospect let me show what PGFTU had introduced to the workers:

A financial assistance for 265 thousands workers with 110 $ for one time.
Introducing 400 thousands food baskets.
Family solidarity
Free medical insurance
We find that the only way to end the Palestinians suffering is through the necessity to end the Israeli occupation to the Palestinian lands because this occupation proves to be the source of in stability in the area.

Palestinians must enjoy international protection and the need to implement the international resolutions and Geneva Conventions.

International community must continue the assistance to the Palestinian people and workers to create projects to employ workers and to reduce the impacts of unemployment.

We in the PGFTU appreciate your efforts for what you have presented and still presenting to support Palestine and Palestinian people.
Issued: 19 September, 2007

A Call to the Antiwar Movement: The Need for Unity and Clarity

A Call to the Antiwar Movement: The Need for Unity and Clarity

This is a call for unity and clarity in the US antiwar movement. As activists from a variety of movements, we have a responsibility to articulate a vision for the antiwar movement that moves us forward, at a time when the ravages of colonial occupation are most deeply felt in Palestine, Iraq, and elsewhere around the world, as US imperialism continues to threaten yet more war internationally, and as racism and repression within the United States threaten our lives and our communities.

We believe that it is critical, necessary and essential that the building of the antiwar movement in the United States take place in a manner that emphasizes political unity and political clarity – political unity that links communities and movements in common struggle against US imperialism and political clarity that defines that struggle and its component parts, placing the struggle of the Iraqi and Palestinian people for national liberation at the center of our demands, just as it is in the center of the crosshairs of imperialism and in the center of resistance; as well as the struggles of the people of the Philippines, Colombia, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Cuba, the Sudan, Haiti, Lebanon, Somalia and everywhere else in the world where imperialism is waging war and occupation and people are resisting, organizing and building. Similarly, the struggles of Black, Chicano, Latino, Asian, Arab, Native and other oppressed nations and communities within the US must be central to our work as an antiwar movement that has real meaning for those most directly affected here; for example, the struggle of Katrina victims to rebuild their communities in the face of racism and oppression, and the struggle of undocumented and other immigrants for full equality, legalization, and workers’ rights.

Therefore, we believe that in order to continue to build a broad, mass antiwar movement, and to create the unity of movements and communities necessary to do so, these issues and struggles must be brought forth in our central demands in a clear and consistent manner, emphasizing the unity of our common struggles against US imperialism, and explicitly focusing on the inextricable linkage between Iraq and Palestine; the Right to Return for Palestinian refugees; the national liberation movements throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America; the struggle for self determination for the Black and Chicano nations, and against racism, national oppression, and all other forms of oppression within the United States; and the centrality of indigenous struggle.

We believe that when these central issues are ignored, or not discussed, in public literature, main calls and key slogans for demonstrations and actions, rather than building unity, this has the political effect of sidelining core issues and strengthening the hand of those who would prefer to see an antiwar movement that challenges only the methods and tactics of US imperialism, while leaving its structures intact. We believe that it weakens the power and strength of the anti-imperialist forces in the movement, and that, instead of providing needed political clarity, forces our entire movement to take a step backward, at a time when forward steps are decisively necessary.

In this context, we are concerned to note that the national demonstration being organized for September 15, 2007, by the ANSWER Coalition and a number of other groups, features, in a break with the legacy, politics and advocacy of ANSWER, one slogan and one alone – “End the War Now!” While we certainly agree that this demand is key, we cannot help but to note with dismay the absence of other, and stronger, demands. We are deeply surprised to see that the occupation of Palestine and the denial of the Right to Return for six million Palestinian refugees – at the center of ANSWER’s principles in the past for antiwar demonstrations, and inextricably linked to the occupation of Iraq – is unmentioned in the literature, slogans and call for the demonstration. In fact, the term “occupation” is unmentioned in the primary slogan of the demonstration, even in regard to Iraq. In addition, the people’s struggles against US imperialism in Colombia, the Philippines, Cuba, the Sudan, Venezuela, Haiti, and around the world – as well as the potential threat of war on Iran – are also unmentioned.

We raise these concerns not because we doubt ANSWER’s commitment to an anti-imperialist, anti-racist vision of social justice. In fact, it is precisely because of the strong commitment of those organizers, expressed through years of work and activity that have consistently delineated a broad, anti-imperialist perspective as a leading force in the US antiwar movement, that we must raise these issues for broader discussion and consideration, so that we may work together, arm in arm, to continue to build an antiwar movement that is capable of providing the support needed to the national liberation movements of the people of Iraq, Palestine, and everywhere; and that is capable of being fully part of and fully linked with struggles against racism and oppression within the United States, from the ongoing criminalization and national oppression directed against communities of color within the US, to the raids and repression against the immigrant community, to the ongoing “War on Terror” that has translated into a war of terror on Arab, Muslim, and South Asian communities.

The organizers of September 15 have traditionally been at the forefront of raising these issues, not as extraneous, secondary or minor issues subject to a “laundry list” of concerns, but rather as inextricably connected, central matters that are vital to creating any real movement capable of substantially confronting and challenging US imperialism; and building the alliances that can continue to raise and mount such a challenge, within the US and at an international level. For years, forces within the antiwar movement, linked to United for Peace and Justice, often supportive of the Democratic party, have done everything possible to minimize, exclude and silence the voices of oppressed communities and national liberation movements, refusing to recognize the linkage of Iraq and Palestine, and the overall war on the Arab people; advocating for internationalized occupation of Iraq; denouncing the Iraqi national and people’s resistance; refusing to address the multifaceted, vibrant and powerful movements challenging US imperialism throughout Africa, Latin America and Asia; sidelining indigenous and Native issues; and refusing to focus on racism and national oppression within the United States. These forces have played this role for years; they have often justified their actions by labeling them “broad,” and stating that they are capable of reaching larger numbers of people without addressing these fundamental issues for any movement seeking social justice or to support the national liberation struggles of oppressed peoples.

Time after time, the work of community organizations and antiwar coalitions – including the ANSWER Coalition – has proven those arguments incorrect; that real, broad movements are built by linking communities and struggles against common enemies, through community and grassroots organizing, and that the vast majority of people in the United States have no more interest in supporting the oppression of people in Palestine, Afghanistan, Colombia, Venezuela or the Philippines than they do in supporting the occupation and devastation of the people of Iraq. Therefore, we are committed and determined that our organizing must continue along this path – a path of struggle, justice and liberation; a path of anti-imperialism; and a path of political clarity that informs, motivates, educates and organizes people into a mass movement truly capable of providing the much-needed challenge to US imperialism.

It is very difficult to imagine an acceptable tactical choice that results in the marginalization of central issues and the derogation of core struggles to the sidelines of the movement. On the contrary, rather than building unity, such a tactical choice hinders the kind of real unity that has been forged through years of struggle, while strengthening those who have disunited the movement by refusing to recognize these core issues and rejecting a clear anti-imperialist perspective. Thus, it is problematic at a tactical level as well as an overall political level.

Therefore, we believe that it is critical that antiwar organizing not regard these fundamental, key issues, and fundamental struggles, as anything other than inextricable and central to building the antiwar movement. At this time, when the people of Iraq and Palestine are paying daily with their lives against brutal colonial occupiers; when bombing raids, assassinations, mass military lockdowns, mass imprisonment and the attempted fomenting of civil wars and internal conflicts are a constant and vicious reminder of the ongoing colonial occupations; when we are nearing 60 years of occupation in which millions of Palestinian refugees are prohibited from returning to their original homes and land; when we are witnessing new onslaughts against people’s struggles internationally, including the imprisonment of Filipino people’s leader Jose Maria Sison and the killing of hundreds of activists in the Philippines; and when racism in the United States continues to devastate Black, Latino, Asian, Arab, Native and other communities of color within the United States, and the vicious assault of the “War on Terror” continues to terrorize our communities; there is no other place for the movement to go but forward – united as strongly as possible around a clear political program that emphasizes an anti-imperialist perspective solidly confronting these threats.

This is not only a time, however, of devastating assaults. It is also a time of resistance and of popular struggle for liberation. In Iraq and in Palestine, the national liberation movement and the people’s resistance are unbowed and unbending in the face of this brutality, at the very center of the struggle against US imperialism, leading that fight in the most dire of circumstances and with the highest level of courage. In the Philippines, in Colombia, in Haiti, people’s movements grow and continue despite violence, persecution and threats. In the Sudan, in Iran, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Somalia the people continue to resist US threats and war drives. In Venezuela, in Cuba, in Bolivia, in Oaxaca, in Vieques, throughout Mexico, throughout Latin America, popular resistance and people’s movements continue to thrive and grow, engaging in struggles and revolutionary processes that inspire the world. It is a time when oppressed nations and communities within the US are refusing to accept the continuing racist oppression and criminalization that has defined the history of the United States, from the genocide of indigenous people to the genocide of Africans and the horror of slavery to the continuing reality of racist oppression, the prison-industrial complex and police brutality; and it is a time when millions of immigrants have risen to demand their rights. It is a time when the working class of the United States is rejecting the use of their children as war fodder for the imperialist rulers. It is a time, in short, when nothing less is required of us as a movement than to raise the level of our resistance, in terms of our unity and in terms of our collective ability to prioritize the needs of the movement and the needs of the people, and when nothing less is required of us than political clarity that places all of these core struggles against US imperialism at the center of our work and that refuses to diminish, mitigate or ignore any of them.

This is a call for the future of the antiwar movement in the United States. It is a call to all of us to examine and develop our political organizing and our grassroots work, and a call to all of us to ensure that our demonstrations shall indeed call to end the war, and shall, inextricably, centrally, address the occupation of Iraq and Palestine, support the Right to Return for Palestinian refugees, emphasize the struggle against racism at home and abroad, and provide support to the movements of people in the Philippines, Colombia, Haiti, Venezuela, Cuba, the Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon and everywhere else in the world where people are threatened by imperialism yet continue to resist. This is the way forward, rather than backward, and it is the path needed by the movement today.

It is time to march on September 15. It is time to march on September 29. These demonstrations must be massive and strong. And we call on the organizers of the September 15 demonstration, and all future demonstrations, to place these concerns at the center of their work, and to include these demands in their core demands and main call for the demonstration. Anything else is much less than what is needed now. It is time to move forward together, in struggle and in unity to challenge and confront US imperialism at the center of its power.

In struggle,
Organizational Endorsements:
Al-Awda Nebraska
Al-Awda New York
Al-Awda Vancouver
Arab American Union Members Council
Arab Muslim American Federation
American Iranian Friendship Committee
Harlem Tenants Council
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
New Jersey Solidarity – Activists for the Liberation of Palestine
New York Committee to Defend Palestine
Palestine Solidarity Group – Chicago
Students for a Democratic Society – University of North Carolina at Asheville
Students for Justice in Palestine – DePaul University
UMMA (United Muslims Moving Ahead) – DePaul University

Individual Endorsements:
Musa Al-Hindi, member, coordinating and executive committees, Al-Awda,
Palestine Right to Return Coalition*
Dr. Masad Arbid
Dr. Naseer Aruri
Nellie Hester Bailey, Harlem Tenants Council*
Lumumba Bandele, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement*
Amina Baraka
Amiri Baraka
Khaled Barakat, Al-Shorouq Newspaper*
Dr. Hisham Bustani, Writer and Activist, Secretary, Socialist Thought
Forum (Jordan)*, Founding Member, Resistant Arab People’s Alliance
Joe Carr
Bernadette Ellorin, Secretary-General of BAYAN USA*
Kamau Franklin, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement*
Lora Gordon, Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago*
Dr. Nidal Habash, Jordan
Samia Halaby, Palestinian artist and activist
Monadel Herzallah, Arab American Union Members Council*
Basem Khader, Palestinian Activist
Nada Khader, WESPAC Foundation*
Michael Letwin, New York City Labor Against the War*
Vanessa Lucas, co-chair, Philippines Subcommittee, National Lawyers Guild*
Khalil Maqdesi, Campaign to free Ahmad Sa’adat*
Ellie Ommani, activist with NoWar Westchester*
Ardeshir Ommani, American Iranian Friendship Committee*
Merrilyn Onisko, co-chair, Philippines Subcommittee, National Lawyers Guild*
Brenda Stokely, New York City Labor Against the War*
Zein Rimawi

*Organizations for identification purposes only.

Stop the Criminalisation of Sawt el-Amels Activists!

Sawt el-Amel/The Laborer’s Voice is an independent grassroots
organisation founded by Palestinian Arab workers in Nazareth in 2000,
in order to defend and promote the rights of Arab citizens of Israel
to decent work and social security.

September 6, 2007

Stop the Criminalisation of Sawt el-Amels Activists!
Call on Attorney General Menahem Mazuz to Drop the Charges

What you can do:

Forward this appeal to your friends and colleagues;

Express your support of Sawt el-Amel through solidarity messages
and/or donations;

Send a fax/letter to Attorney General Menahem Mazuz, asking him to
drop all charges (please find official address and suggested sample
letter for copy-paste below);

Attend the trials as an independent observer.

original document with pictures:

Currently, ten activists of Sawt el-Amel are facing criminal charges,
including illegal assembly, disturbance of the public order, and
assault of a police officer. The defendants plead not guilty on all
charges and in return accuse the authorities of bias against their
social activism and lawful struggle for social and economic rights of
workers and the poor.


1) State of Israel against Jamal Hassanen et al.

This case goes back eight years, to a time when Sawt el-Amel was still
not officially registered as an organisation. The incident happened in
the job office of Upper Nazareth, Nazareths Jewish neighbouring town,
and involved unemployed workers from Ein Mahel. Ein Mahel, an Arab
village trapped between Upper Nazareth and the Upper Nazareth bypass
road, has one of the highest unemployment rates in the area. Land
confiscation to develop Upper Nazareth has continued over the years,
leaving the former peasant community without a livelihood.

Then, in September 1999, Ein Mahels unemployed became pawns in a major
social-security scam. In a first step, Ein Mahels unemployed were
transferred from the employment bureau in Nazareth to the branch in
Upper Nazareth. There, the jobseekers were faced with systematic
discrimination, and according to an independent investigation by the
Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, 199 out of the 454 unemployed from
Ein Mahel lost their social benefits in September and October 1999 for
allegedly refusing to work. As a result, the Israeli government
claimed that between August and October 1999, the unemployment rate in
Ein Mahel had fallen from 18.8% to 10.5%. Yediot Ahronot reporter
Hagar Enosh said that one of the bureaus main strategies was to send
the Ein Mahel unemployed to workplaces that did not exist (Humphries,

On October 27, 1999, a group of workers and activists demanded a
meeting with the area supervisor of the employment service. When this
was refused, the unemployed present in the Upper Nazareth job office
spontaneously began demonstrating. The police were called and started
to provoke demonstrators. Three unemployed women were injured, and
nine people were arrested, including Sawt el-Amels director Wehbe

The prosecution refused a plea by Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab
Minority Rights in Israel, to drop the case, and the trial was opened
in November 2002. In the upcoming hearing on October 22, 2007, a final
decision is expected.

Read more:
Humphries, Isabelle, Nine Arab Israelis on Trial for Challenging Job
Office Racism, IslamOnline (November 18, 2002), at

Trial Information:
October 22, 2007, 2:00pm, Nazareth Court (Case No. PA 2185/99):

State of Israel v Jamal Hassanen, Samir Habiballah, Wahida Habiballah,
Khaldiya Hassanen, Mahmoud Habiballah, Wehbe Badarne, Arif Habiballah,
Khitam Habiballah

Charge list:*

Forbidden assembly & Disturbance of peace, a violation of articles
151+152 of the Penal Code of 1977;

Assault of a police officer while performing his duty, a violation of
article 273 of the Penal Code of 1977;

Theft, a violation of article 384 of the Penal Code of 1977;

Possession of weapon, a violation of article 144(a) of the Penal Code of 1977;

Assault, a violation of article 379 of the Penal Code of 1977.

*Only Charge No. 1 applies to all defendants.

Seven defendants are members of Sawt el-Amel; Wehbe Badarne is the
director of Sawt el-Amel. They plead not guilty on all charges.

If convicted, the defendants face either imprisonment, imprisonment on
probation, or a fine.

2) State of Israel against Issam Omar and Awni Shihadat

Since summer 2005, Nazareths unemployed have been faced with the
Wisconsin Plan, Israels neo-liberal welfare-to-work project
implemented by private companies. Ever since the programmes launch,
unemployed workers and Sawt el-Amel activists have challenged the
exploitative Wisconsin Plan through information campaigns, legal
advocacy and public activism. Oftentimes, their public dissent is met
with violence by police and private security guards. After an
escalation on January 16, 2006, which led to the current trial,
activists and potential demonstrators were further deterred by the
deployment of Israeli Border Police (i.e. army) to guard the Wisconsin

In its press release dated January 17, 2006, Sawt el-Amel wrote:
Yesterday, on January 16, 2006, hundreds of Nazareths Wisconsin
participants voiced their anger and frustration about the policies of
the Wisconsin Plan. In the morning, Sawt el-Amel/The Laborers Voice
had organised a small demonstration in front of the employment centre
in Nazareth Bir Abu-Jej to protest against Agam Mehalevs (the
implementing company) new policy which requires the participants to
attend the Wisconsin centres for 6-8 hours a day without offering
daycare solutions for the thousands of young children. [] The
situation escalated when three women were denied access to the
employment centres by private security guards and policemen. [] At
12:15pm a large police force about 20 police cars arrived at the scene
and used force against the approximately 100 Wisconsin participants
now involved the unrest. [] [T]wo active members of Sawt el-Amel [the
two defendants] were arrested after security personnel had pointed
them out, claiming they had incited the masses. Both of them were
later released without charges.

Later on, however, a new charge list was presented against Awni
Shihadat and Issam Omar, and on September 11, 2007, their case will be
tried in front of the Nazareth court.

Read more:
Sawt el-Amel, Whats New at Sawt el-Amel/The Laborers Voice? (No.
1/2006) (February 13, 2006).

Sawt el-Amel, Wisconsin Plan Causes Civil Unrest among Nazareths Poor
(January 17, 2006),

Trial Information:
September 11, 2007, 9:00am, Nazareth Court (Case No. PA 231/2006):

State of Israel v Issam Omar and Awni Shihadat

Charge list:

Assault of a police officer while performing his duty, a violation of
article 273 of the Penal Code of 1977;

Preventing a police officer from performing his duty, a violation of
article 275 of the Penal Code of 1977;

Assault, a violation of article 379 of the Penal Code of 1977;

Disturbing peace and order in a public place, a violation of article
216(a)(1) of the Penal Code of 1977.

Issam Omar is an activist and former board member of Sawt el-Amel;
Awni Shihadat is a current board member of Sawt el-Amel. They plead
not guilty on all charges.

The State wants to call nine witnesses, four of whom are policemen and
five are private security personnel of Agam Mehalev, the company
implementing the Wisconsin Plan.

If convicted, the defendants face either imprisonment, imprisonment on
probation, or a fine.

What you can do:

Forward this appeal to your friends and colleagues;

Express your support of Sawt el-Amel through solidarity messages
and/or donations;

Send a fax/letter to Attorney General Menahem Mazuz, asking him to
drop all charges (please find official address and suggested sample
letter for copy-paste below);

Attend the trials as an independent observer.

Sample letter to Attorney General Menahem Mazuz

(If you send this or your individual message to Mr. Mazuz, please fax
a copy to us: +972 (0)4 6080917)

Attorney General Menahem Mazuz
Ministry of Justice
Salah ad-Din Street 29
Jerusalem 91010; Israel
Fax: +972 (0)2 6467001; Tel: +972 (0)2 6466522

Dear Attorney General Menahem Mazuz,

I have been following the pending trials of 10 citizens of Nazareth
and Ein Mahel (Cases No. PA 231/2006 and PA 2185/99) who are charged,
inter alia, with illegal assembly, disturbance of the public order and
assault of a police officer. The upcoming trial sessions are scheduled
for September 11, 2007 and October 22, 2007 respectively. The second
case has already been pending for eight years, a disproportionately
long time for the charges involved.

All ten defendants are activists and members of the workers rights
organisation Sawt el-Amel and plead not guilty on all charges. They
further claim that the indictment is a result of biased police and
other public officials and that they are being persecuted as social
activists demanding their socio-economic rights as citizens.

If this is the case, all charges against them must be dropped.
Therefore, I call upon you to review the two cases and drop the
charges if there is indeed evidence of bias.


Dont hesitate to contact us for more information:
Wehbe Badarne, Director
Sawt el-Amel/The Laborers Voice; P.O.Box 2721; Nazareth 16126; Israel
Tel: +972 (0)4 6561996; Fax: +972 (0)4 6080917; Email:

Upholding Debate as a Necessary Component of Academic Freedom PACBI Appeal to North American Academics September 2, 2007

Upholding Debate as a Necessary Component of Academic Freedom PACBI Appeal to North American Academics September 2, 2007

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) welcomes the historic resolutions passed by the UK’s University and College Union (UCU) at its first Annual Congress in May 2007. In particular, PACBI applauds the Congress for passing resolutions deploring the denial of educational rights for Palestinians; condemning the complicity of Israeli academia in the occupation; noting that in these circumstances passivity or neutrality is unacceptable; recognizing that criticism of Israel cannot be construed as anti-semitic; calling for the circulation of the full text of the PACBI Call for Boycott for information and discussion; and encouraging members to consider the moral implications of existing and proposed links with Israeli academic institutions.

While British colleagues prepare to discuss the Palestinian boycott call and consider the implications of normal academic links with the Israeli academy during the coming academic year, a disturbing development has been noted in the United States and Canada. No sooner had the UCU motion been passed than dozens of American and Canadian university presidents and rectors rushed to condemn the Union, basing their attacks on mostly false or inaccurate data. Such enthusiasm in denouncing the British academic union’s resolutions, particularly during the summer holidays when university life slows down, is difficult to understand. What these university presidents have done in effect is to shut the door to debating any issues specifically pertaining to Israel, without consultation with their colleagues and without any public discussion whatsoever having taken place about the merit of the UCU resolutions. Furthermore, the fact that none of these — now exceeding 300 — university presidents has ever even criticized Israel’s persistent suppression of Palestinian academic freedom, not to mention its grave violation of Palestinian human rights, sheds serious doubts on their consistency and fairness.

We appeal to our American and Canadian colleagues to challenge what appears to be an organized effort to stifle debate in the academy, and to urge their presidents, faculty associations, professional bodies, and colleagues at large to follow the example of British academics and initiate a robust debate about Israel’s military occupation and other forms of oppression of the Palestinians and the most effective ways to counter them. The complicity of the U.S. government, in particular, in perpetuating Israel’s occupation and violation of basic human rights through unconditional and uniquely generous financial, political and diplomatic support makes Israeli policies clearly relevant to all American tax-payers, academics included. It is worth noting, in this context, the principled stand of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) when it went ahead last year with its plan to publish various pro and con position papers concerning the academic boycott of Israel in its journal Academe after its conference on academic boycotts was hastily cancelled due to political pressure. We also recall the decision of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) to hold a panel discussion on the boycott at its annual meeting last November. We also vividly remember the brave role that North American academics and institutions of higher learning played in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. It is in this spirit of encouraging free debate about controversial issues of concern to academics that we urge our colleagues to call for a careful consideration of the case for the academic boycott against Israel.

PACBI notes that university presidents and provosts in North America have been deploying the notion of academic freedom in order to justify their condemnation of the boycott. However, in their attempt to forestall debate on their campuses by issuing these statements, they can themselves be viewed as infringing upon the academic freedom of their constituencies — students, faculty, and staff — to decide for themselves where they stand on this important issue.

We feel that a principled, reflective, and representative debate on university campuses will bring into focus the dire situation in Palestine that prompted the UCU to issue their call to give serious consideration to supporting an academic and cultural boycott of Israeli academic institutions. There has been much misinformation about the boycott, and the statements by university presidents show them to be ill-informed about some of the basic issues pertaining to the rationale for the boycott and its implementation. It is particularly important to stress that the boycott targets institutions rather than individuals, thus creating the necessary space for the free exchange of ideas to continue amongst academics on an individual basis.


There is ample evidence showing that Israeli universities, research centers, and think tanks are an integral part of the structures of oppression in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. They have played a direct and indirect role in promoting, developing or supporting the state’s racist policies and persistent violations of human rights and international law. It is significant that no Israeli university has ever taken a public stand against the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, nor have academic institutions or representative bodies of Israeli academics ever criticized their government’s longstanding siege of Palestinian education and the denial of Palestinian academic freedom.

The achievements of Palestinian institutions of higher education under Israel’s military occupation have been realized despite the enormous obstacles the Israeli army and security establishment have placed in their path. Over the past few decades, tens of thousands of students and faculty have been imprisoned, exiled, tortured, or wounded by the occupation forces. University campuses have been routinely shut down — for several consecutive years, in some cases — by military order as punishment for student activism against the occupation. Under the current regime of closures, curfews and the vast network of military roadblocks and the Wall, normal life, including the pursuit of education, has become impossible for Palestinians.

The Palestinian call for boycott of Israeli academic institutions
(, like the Palestinian civil society’s widely endorsed call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), is based on the same moral principle embodied in the international civil society campaign against the apartheid regime in South Africa: that people of conscience must take a stand against oppression and use all the means of civil resistance available to bring it to an end.

We appeal to you, colleagues in the American and Canadian academy, to urge your institutions to open their doors to the open exchange of ideas about the situation in Palestine and to consider the ways you can respond to the human and moral challenge the Israeli system of oppression presents to all people of conscience. It may be particularly relevant to address your educational unions and professional organizations to hold panels and discussions on this issue.

We urge you not to allow powerful political forces to dictate to your presidents and provosts how the academy deals with controversial issues pertaining to Israel. As Roger Bowen, the General Secretary of the AAUP and one of the organizers of the ill-fated AAUP conference on academic boycotts (in which two PACBI members were to participate) said after the cancellation,

“The AAUP is honoring its nearly hundred-year legacy of defending academic freedom by not excluding our opponents from participation in debate. If only we could require that critics of the originally planned conference join the AAUP and embrace our principles of academic freedom. Alas, we do not manage the American academy, let alone global higher education. But maybe, just maybe, we, or the principles we espouse, should.”

We hope that the coming academic year will witness the launching of a serious and responsible public debate about the merits of academic boycott of Israel at American and Canadian universities. It is only through an open discussion and in the spirit of the free exchange of ideas that informed opinion can emerge.

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) Ramallah,