Monthly Archives: November 2014

Statement In Support of the Resolution Submitted by the UAW2865 BDS Caucus

uaw local 2865Statement In Support of the Resolution
Submitted by the UAW2865 BDS Caucus


When structures of oppression receive our unwilling financial support, we must take a stand. Palestinian university teachers, labor unions, and students under Israeli occupation have called for our solidarity. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions resolution will push back against our complicity as union members, UC employees, and students from apartheid in Palestine.

The BDS call, made by Palestinian grassroots organizations, aims to restore Palestinians’ human rights for: 1) Refugees forced to flee Palestine in 1948 and subsequently due to Israeli military violence and ethnic cleansing who are barred from returning to their lands; 2) Those facing the 47-year military occupation and ongoing land confiscation in the West Bank and blockade in Gaza; and 3) Palestinians inside Israel facing second-class citizenship due to over 50 ethnically discriminatory laws that heavily restrict access to property ownership, education, and other resources for Palestinians.

By voting YES, we defend steadfastly the universal value of human dignity and equality. We maintain that Palestinian lives are as valuable as Israeli lives. We demand an end to the occupation of Palestinian lands; we support full equality for Palestinians in Israel; and refugees’ right of return as stipulated by international law and U.N. Resolution 194.

By voting YES, we honor our union’s commitment to political action and community mobilization. We will continue educating our communities of racism against Arabs, Muslims, Jews and people of Middle Eastern background, and stand against all forms of discrimination. We continue Local 2865’s solidarities with other anti-racist, anti-colonial labor and student movements globally; thus our opponents’ claim that we’re singling out Israel is patently false. Rather than dictating the form of our solidarity to any aggrieved people, we must try to express it in whatever form those people deem necessary to better their conditions, whether boycotts, sympathy strikes, petitions, or organizing actions to support students and workers from Chile to South Africa to workers here. Yet Israel constantly requests that we excuse its apartheid practices when we would do so for no other country.

By voting YES, we affirm our solidarity with all those striving for peace with justice for all the land’s inhabitants. We join student governments of UCSD, UCI, UCR, UCB, UCSC, and UCLA in calling for divestment from Israeli apartheid. We stand by members of all national origins and religions who demand a situation where all people live with dignity regardless of religion, ethnicity, or other identity.

Some who stand to lose their privilege argue we must not meddle in “controversial affairs”. Some argued this during Jim Crow segregation: they were wrong! Some argued this to support South African apartheid: they were wrong! Some argue this to support raising tuition and entrenching education as an upper-class, racist privilege: they are wrong!

Years from now, when peace with justice is under way in Palestine, you will look back and think, “I made the right decision. I stood in solidarity during the most difficult times.”

Friends, it’s time to finally be counted on the right side of history! Vote YES on BDS!

Unions “are part of the struggle” for Palestine solidarity on US campuses (Electronic Intifada)

Electronic Intifada

Unions “are part of the struggle” for Palestine solidarity on US campuses

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“One of the biggest problems of Palestine solidarity activism in the US is that we just simply don’t have the money and resources, and therefore the level of institutional power that the people working against us have,” says University of California at Berkeley graduate student and organizer Kumars Salehi, in an interview with The Electronic Intifada on Monday.

“With the support of unions, though, I think we have a potential source of institutional support … Unions are part of that struggle,” he added.

On 4 December, teaching assistants, tutors and other student-workers at the University of California — represented by the UC Student Workers union UAW 2865 — will hold a vote to support the boycott movement in response to the call by Palestinian trade and labor unions.

Palestine solidarity campaigners and US-based labor unions are working closer together in support of the Palestinian-led campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to hold Israel accountable for its violations of human rights — and end complicity by corporations and universities which profit from such violations.


In October, for the first time, United Students Against Sweatshops — the nation’s largest student labor organization — participated in the annual National Students for Justice in Palestine conference in Boston. United Students Against Sweatshops formally announced their endorsement of the National SJP conference, “the BDS movement and the Palestinian struggle for equality and self-determination more broadly,” National SJP announced.

During the last few months of the Block the Boat campaign, which originated in the San Francisco Bay Area, Palestine solidarity activists and student organizers worked closely with labor unions and dockworkers at the ports to stop the unloading of the Israeli Zim line cargo ships. As The Electronic Intifada reported, their joint organizing resulted in the Zim line completely withdrawing future stops at West Coast ports in what activists have called a major victory for the BDS movement.

“What we’ve learned about how important unions are — and how important the struggles of workers is to the issue of Palestinian liberation — there’s no going back. I think the momentum is definitely with us,” Salehi said. He has organized with the months-long Block the Boat campaign in the Bay Area, and is a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

Listen to the entire interview via the media player, or read the transcript below.


In a statement, representatives and rank and file members of UAW 2865 say that “because of the urgency of the situation” in Palestine, the joint council of the UAW 2865 — which represents the thirteen thousand members of the union — is seeking “a full membership vote in support of BDS, and we will update our membership regarding educational forums about divesting our union pension investments and the University of California in general from companies that profit off of the Israeli occupation.”

The joint council adds that boycott campaigns have worked in the past at the University of California, especially in the historic campaign against apartheid South Africa. “Students, faculty and workers organized together to demand the UC to divest three billion dollars of investments to support the end of South African apartheid. In coming together, we made this happen,” they say.

Interview with Kumars Salehi

Nora Barrows-Friedman: Let’s talk about the UAW as a union, and how boycott activists have been organizing alongside labor unions and trade unions up to this point, and why that’s important. Can you describe UAW on the campuses of the University of California, and what it took to get to the point where this enormous union could vote in support of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel?

Kumars Salehi: As you mentioned, the UAW Local 2865 is the union that represents grad students in the University of California system, so that’s about thirteen thousand grad students. A lot of people. And the bill is a bill in support of BDS — the ballot item is divestment from companies that profit from Israeli occupation and human rights abuses. It should be noted that this particular union actually doesn’t have investments in those companies, but our umbrella organization, United Auto Workers International does. The University of California does, in companies like Hewlett-Packard, Lockheed Martin — and I’m sure I don’t need to tell your listeners what those companies are up to.

The bill calls on UAW International and the UC Regents to divest, as well as the US government to end all military aid to Israel. In addition to that ballot item, there’s a checkbox where you can make a non-binding pledge to support the academic boycott.

This means that all of the grad students on all of the UC campuses have the opportunity to make a really symbolic statement. This would be the — we’re not actually totally sure — but I think that it would be either the first or certainly one of the first member votes on BDS in a US union. So it’s really going to be huge.

NBF: Kumars, can you talk about the close relationship that is building between Palestine solidarity organizers and labor unions, especially in the last six months or so?

KS: Absolutely. For me, I think the really important lesson of the Oakland Block the Boat action has to do with the intersectionality of struggles. You mentioned that there was a diverse coalition that came together for the port blockades, and I think that you can see what intersectionality means. It’s a word that gets thrown out a lot but when you see all the people turn out to protest not just the Zim ships but also Urban Sheild, which is like Comic-Con for … hyper-militarized police, after two years in a row of community protests, it won’t be held in Oakland anymore next year.

With regard to Block the Boat, of course, also following the 2005 call from Palestinian civil society for BDS, every single Palestinian trade union has issued a statement specifically asking workers all over the world to refuse to facilitate business as usual for Israel. That includes the longshoremen, the dockworkers that unload the cargo of Zim, the largest Israeli shipping company.

There was a period of preparation during which, especially at the insistence of one of the organizations, the port blockade was put off until activists could really dialogue with the workers that we were asking to heed this call. We knew that we weren’t really barking up the wrong tree, because this was a union that had actually refused to unload a Zim ship before, in 2010, in response to the Israeli massacre aboard the Mavi Marmara, so there had been a call from Palestinian trade unions in response to that, asking people to boycott all Israeli cargo ships. And a similar call was issued again this summer in response to the Israeli assault on Gaza.

So activists had been planning all summer, trying to find a way to take direct action for Palestine, for BDS, to the next level, to up the ante and think creatively. And of course that was only possible because these dockworkers understood where we were coming from, understood that we knew that we were asking them to not work a ship and to not get paid. Nobody who is an activist, certainly on the left, should take that lightly.

And over time, we saw that while the union, due to contract negotiations, wasn’t able to take a position as a union officially — as leadership — the rank and file members were in solidarity with us. And all our sources told us that as long as we kept a strong community picket going, the Local 10 dockworkers said that they would honor it, and they kept their word.

This is of course a union that has a history of solidarity with social justice struggles, that trace their history of solidarity back to 1935, when they refused to load military equipment headed toward fascist Italy and Japan, all the way up to the historic refusal to unload in 1984 a South African cargo ship, when they — in response to community initiatives, the union blocked that boat in 1984 for ten whole days.

So this wasn’t the first time that this had happened in the Bay Area, and it seems like with all the Block the Boat protests that are happening elsewhere, and what we’ve learned about how important unions are — and how important the struggles of workers is to the issue of Palestinian liberation — there’s no going back. I think the momentum is definitely with us.

NBF: Students for Justice in Palestine has come out with a statement in support of the UAW vote for boycott. How important is it, from a student organizer’s perspective, to have the backing of major labor unions as the BDS movement presses forward and as you said, gains momentum?

KS: It’s really important, because BDS is all about institutions, as we often have to remind people. The whole way that Israel is able to sustain its occupation and its regime of apartheid is through the complicity of western multinationals, of the US government. And these are incredibly overwhelming forces to go up against.

One of the biggest problems of Palestine solidarity activism in the United States is that we just simply don’t have the money and resources, and therefore the level of institutional power that the people working against us have. With the support of unions, though, I think we have a potential source of institutional support, of institutions like churches, or academic organizations like the American Studies Association, when these groups come out and show support, it lends legitimacy. Not that the BDS struggle needs to be legitimized necessarily, but in the eyes of the American people, I think that we need all of the legitimacy we can get with all of these smear campaigns against us.

Unions are part of that struggle.

NBF: In the week or so before the vote, and in speaking with members of the UAW boycott organizing committee, how optimistic can you be about the way this vote will go, and why?

KS: It’s interesting that you used the word “optimism” — I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, in the days after UCLA’s successful divestment campaign and what happened, I was looking at their social media campaign. And what was really striking about their messaging was an embrace of this notion that BDS supporters are optimists. They have grounds for optimism.

I think in this case, it’s very difficult to see clearly which way these different campuses are going to vote. Before the UCLA vote, I would have told you that UCLA might be a more difficult campus for us to win than Berkeley, and that really we didn’t have a good sense of what sort of base the opposition to BDS has.

I personally, at this point, am very optimistic, and that’s just because that in the discourse that we’ve had with students on campus, with our peers, we see that the other side is increasingly running out of coherent arguments, especially in a setting where people are roughly familiar with the facts. Even in a pretty heated debate, no one can seriously defend Israel without taking pretty substantial heat for it. And that’s just because this critique of Israel has become so mainstream even in the past year. And it’s on us to remember that that critique is necessary and it’s an essential part of the other part of BDS, which is the mechanisms that it uses to actually change the situation.

I think I’m a generally pretty pessimistic person, but BDS isn’t a new or unproven strategy. I think that making the case, so I’ve seen anyway, that we should not — as university students, not as American citizens, not as members of UAW 2865 — be invested in war crimes and apartheid. I think that as long as there’s also a positive vision there that says, look, it’s worked before, it’s actually working now, and it’s going to work again — when you see all of the losses in exports that Israel is taking, some $30 million from the Jordan Valley, and then SodaStream closing its West Bank factory, people are, on campus at least, aware of this news.

People know what Block the Boat is, and I think that the more success we have, the more it will actually start to — this idea that Israel is either something that you boycott or you don’t is new, I think, now. And campaigns like ours are going to win because the answer is increasingly, yeah, you should boycott Israel. And it’s not a fringe opinion, if it ever was.

NBF: Kumars, people can learn more about the vote, which is scheduled for 4 December, at Where else can they go?

KS: They can also follow us on Twitter at @UAW2865bds, you can look for us on Facebook, but all of the information that you need if you want to get involved and help us get out the vote the week of, is on the website and on our Twitter.

Video: UAW2865: Vote Yes BDS

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Vote Yes BDS
Published on Nov 26, 2014

Graduate students across the University of California system are leading a BDS campaign through the graduate student worker union, UAW 2865 that represents 13000 teaching assistants, tutors, and readers. The union will be holding a membership vote on December 4th on pushing for UAW and UC divestment and individual support for the academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Winning this vote would mark the first time a union in the US would officially support BDS — a powerful message for the US and Israeli government.

For more information, please visit the link here:

This educational video includes the voices of Palestinian students and their experiences of oppression. We urge you to share this video with your friends, and especially grad students across the UC who should vote to support our initiative.

Jewish Community Support for UAW Resolution to Divest from Israel

uaw local 2865Jewish Community Support for UAW Resolution to Divest from Israel

We, the undersigned members of Jewish communities, are writing to express our support for the recent divestment resolution passed by UAW 2865’s Joint Council. (

As Jews, we understand from our own experiences with discrimination and our own history of resistance to oppression that standing on the right side of history necessitates standing in solidarity with Palestinians. For that reason, we are proud to be counted among the growing number of Jews around the world who refuse to turn a blind eye to this issue.

As Israel continues to commit grave human rights violations with impunity, we feel an urgent need at to disrupt Israel’s claim that it speaks for or acts on behalf of all Jews. We feel an obligation to express our solidarity with Palestinians living under a system of legal apartheid, Palestinian refugees and their descendants, as well as our solidarity with the growing majority of people around the world who stand in support of the Palestinian right of return and against Israeli apartheid.

We affirm our right and responsibility as Jews to oppose the State of Israel’s actions and policies that we believe to be unjust. Additionally, we affirm our belief that Israel’s current siege of Gaza in the name of “Jewish safety,” does not make Jews safer in Israel or anywhere in the world. Further, we reject the very idea that safety for some can come at the expense of safety for others.

We support the 2005 call from Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the apartheid state of Israel. Therefore, we support the members of UAW 2865 who are voting to divest from corporations that benefit from Israeli occupation and who to support the academic and cultural boycott.

Furthermore, we defend the right of students and graduate student faculty and staff to exercise their free speech and democratic rights to organize a resolution that reflects their commitment to human rights and justice.


International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN)
IJAN Labor
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return

Diana Block, California Coalition for Women Prisoners*
Judith Butler, University of Berkeley*
Selma James, Global Women’s Strike and IJAN
Alex Lubin, Professor and Chair American Studies Department University of New Mexico*
Hilton Obenzinger, American Studies, Stanford University Associate Director*
Sam Weinstein, Utility Workers Union of America*

*Affiliation listed for identification only

Guest opinion: Why Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) is an Environmental Issue (California Aggie)

The California Aggie

Guest opinion: Why Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) is an Environmental Issue

On Dec. 4, UC Davis graduate student instructors and undergraduate tutors will vote to join the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and call on the UC and UAW International to divest from companies complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. They will join approximately 13,000 other student workers represented by UAW 2865 across the University of California system.

On Saturday, Nov. 15, UC Davis’ Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) president Marcelle Obeid and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)[i] activist and worker Gabi Kirk hosted a workshop for undergraduate and graduate environmental activists as a part of the California Student Sustainability Coalition’s 2014 Convergence.[ii] Entitled “Occupation as Degradation: Environmental Issues in Palestine and BDS,” their workshop made explicit the links between environmental issues and the occupation of Palestine and gave reasons for why environmental activists ought to vote “yes” on BDS on Dec. 4.

The workshop started with an historical synopsis of the relationship between environmental degradation and the occupation of Palestine, detailing the ways in which many of the early justifications for Israel’s settler-colonial policies – claims that Israeli settlers would “make the desert bloom” – were in fact claims used to justify the expulsion of Palestinians from their land. Obeid and Kirk then explained that Israel’s victory in 1967 had the immediate effect of allowing Israel to occupy and begin to colonize the West Bank and Gaza, thereby allowing Israel to take overall possession of Palestine’s fresh water and agricultural land.

Facilitating this possession are a number of Israel’s policies that actively prevent Palestinians from building sustainable infrastructure,[iii] farming their land,[iv] accessing water[v] and protecting themselves and their land against attacks by Israeli settlers seeking to seize fertile land and fresh water.[vi] Nowhere are these policies more clear than along the route of Israel’s Apartheid Wall[vii] (or Separation Barrier).[viii] Though purportedly designed to follow the border between Israel and Palestine and to guarantee Israeli security, 86 percent of the wall is constructed inside the West Bank and, when complete, will isolate Palestinians from approximately 65 percent of their water resources[ix] and more than 9.4 percent of their total agricultural land.[x]

These policies of environmental degradation are particularly acute[xi] in Gaza,[xii] where Israel’s siege and repetitive bombardments of Gaza (the most recent of which killed more than 2,000 Palestinians)[xiii] have destroyed most of Gaza’s water and wastewater treatment facilities, made 95 percent of the water in Gaza’s severely stretched aquifer unsuitable for drinking, and produced huge amounts of waste and sewage, the majority of which still pollutes Gaza’s streets, farmlands and coastal areas.[xiv]

Kirk and Obeid concluded their workshop by drawing our attention to a number of companies (Caterpillar, Veolia, Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin) that the UC invests in and that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine. These companies do more than just facilitate violence and human rights abuses. They also destroy the environment. By building the bulldozers that destroy rain water-harvesting systems[xv] and uproot olive trees,[xvi] manufacturing the bombs[xvii] that damage waste and water facilities and destroy homes in Gaza,[xviii] transporting waste from illegal Israeli settlements[xix] and dumping it on Palestinian land[xx] and relentlessly burning fossil fuels,[xxi] these companies help to build the infrastructure[xxii] for a settler-colonial state that actively seeks to exploit and devastate the Palestinian environment in the hopes that the Palestinians that remain in the land will leave.[xxiii]

The UC is currently invested in these companies,[xxiv] making us – as tuition and fee-paying students – complicit in their actions. As environmental activists, and as students at the country’s most “sustainable” school,[xxv] it is our duty to end this complicity. We cannot say that we are an environmentally friendly campus while continuing to profit from the companies that build the checkpoints that make it impossible for Palestinians to bike[xxvi] and that illegally dump toxic waste on Palestinian farmland.[xxvii] The UC’s decisions to invest in these companies were made without our consent, and it is time for us to take these decisions back.

One initial step towards doing so will occur on Dec. 4 when UAW 2865 workers choose to vote “yes” for BDS. By voting “yes,” workers from across the UC will signal to the world that they demand an end to their complicity in violence and environmental degradation, and that they are committed to building a more sustainable and just peace in Israel/Palestine.

— Tory Brykalski (aka Tory Webster) is a graduate student in anthropology and a member of UAW 2865’s BDS caucus.

Call for Support of UAW Divestment Resolution (AROC)


The Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) stands in solidarity with all workers struggling for justice and supports the workers of UAW and their divestment resolution, and we call on our allies and community to do the same. 

On December 4th, the UC Student-Workers Union will vote on a resolution calling for UAW 2865 to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in support of the Palestinian people. This comes at a time when there is unprecedented support for the anti-apartheid Israel movement with academic and cultural institutions all over the world taking positions in support of BDS. It also comes at a time when the state of Israel has intensified its colonial violence against the indigenous Palestinian population, expanding its settlements, depopulating city by city, displacing people from Jerusalem to Gaza, and encouraging attacks against Palestinians by settlers and military alike. With the heightened targeting of Palestinian students and professors on university campuses, along with the imprisonment of Rasmea Odeh, an elderly Palestinian American community organizer, we are now witnessing the US government expanding its unwavering support of Israel, militarism, and repression. These acts can be seen as nothing less than an attempt to criminalize Palestinian activism, just as they have historically done to social justice movements in this country, and just as they are doing in the streets of Ferguson.

But this also comes at a time when the Palestinian people are amplifying their calls for resistance and urging the world to join them in their fight against militarism and colonialism. The workers in Palestine have called for the solidarity of workers all around the world. And people are responding. Most recently, we achieved victory with the Block the Boat campaign when rank and file workers with the International Longshoreman’s Union (ILWU) stood with us to successfully and indefinitely stop the Israeli Zim ship from docking in California or Florida. This is a testament to community-worker solidarity, and the power of workers to disrupt the system when fighting for justice. Today we have UAW 2865 joining this fight.  And we call on people to join them by supporting their efforts on UC campuses across the state.

It is critical that we support UAW’s resolution because:

  • It is a key effort in favor of the BDS movement.
  • It is a challenge to state repression against Palestinian activism.
  • Because the United States and Israel work hand-in-hand to oppress communities here and in Palestine, and the University institution is instrumental to this relationship.
  • Israel trains local police. Israel trained St. Louis police department, the same police department attacking the community in Ferguson.
  • Israel imports surveillance technology and weaponry to police and militarize local communities.
  • Universities are used as laboratories to produce surveillance technology and weaponry that are employed on poor, Black, Brown and indigenous communities in the US.
  • The University produces and reproduces structures of knowledge that reinforce and legitimize anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism, militarism, colonialism, incarceration and policing.

The fight against normalization of racism and Zionism is a fight that we are all a part of—workers, students, activists, academics and cultural workers.

Let there be no doubt about the fact that such a powerful resolution is surely a threat to the surveillance and military apparatus. It is a threat to the attempt to keep Universities as functionaries of state violence and to force University students and laborers to participate in that violence..  And it is ever more important that we join forces to build power and challenge all attempts to silence us and crush our movements.

When workers reclaim their power and take a position on the side of justice, they are honoring the legacy of worker-community solidarity, and reminding the world that workers are part and parcel of popular movements.

We support the workers of UAW 2865 and call on community organizations to support this historic effort as we chip away at apartheid, war and militarism from Palestine to the United States. Encourage graduate students in the UC system to turn out for the vote on December 4th to vote yes for divestment from the UAW international and UC Regents as well as ending US military aid to Israel. We encourage all graduate students to individually pledge to join the academic boycott as well. More information about the UAW 2865 ballot can be found here:

To endorse, contact

Israelis demand Palestinian workers be fired (Electronic Intifada)

Electronic Intifada

Israelis demand Palestinian workers be fired

The Israeli mayor of Ashkelon announced yesterday that Palestinian citizens of Israel are banned from working on construction projects in bomb shelters at local kindergartens during school hours. This comes amid a new wave of Israeli popular racism calling for Arabs to be fired.

In a video posted on Facebook on 18 November, a group of Israeli customers in a supermarket arrive to the checkout lane with full grocery carts. They ask the cashiers whether or not the establishment employs Palestinians — and storm out in synchronized protest when the cashiers answered yes (the video has been translated by The Electronic Intifada in the copy above — press the “CC” button to activate subtitles).

Mani Krois, the Facebook user who posted the video, encourages Israelis to join them in boycotting businesses that “employ the enemy.” At the time of writing, the video has received more than 4,400 “likes” and hundreds of supportive comments.

The Ashkelon mayor’s move came two days after an attack on a synagogue in the western part of occupied Jerusalem killed four Israelis and a police officer from the Druze religious minority in present-day Israel.


Israelis in Jerusalem hold signs reading “Death to terrorists” and “Do not hire enemies” — terms that have become interchangeable with “Arabs” — in Jerusalem following an attack on a synogogue on 18 November.

(Yotam Ronen / ActiveStills)

Writing on his Facebook account, Mayor Itamar Shimoni stated: “I have nothing against Arab Israelis, they work with us throughout the year and do construction for us.”

“Arab Israelis” is a politicized term employed by Israel and its supporters to refer to Palestinian citizens of Israel, who constitute an estimated 1.7 million Muslims, Christians and Druze in cities, towns and villages across present-day Israel.

According to Adalah, a Haifa-based legal center, they face more than fifty discriminatory laws that limit their access to state resources and, to varying degrees, stifle their political expression.

“I think that when the flames are high, it is wrong to let Jews go to the Temple Mount,” Shimoni said, referring to the al-Aqsa mosque compound in East Jerusalem. “To the same extent, I think it is wrong to bring Arab laborers into the preschool in this time.”

Shimoni also boasted that he placed armed security guards at elementary schools in the vicinity of construction sites that employ Palestinian laborers.

Yehiel Lasri, mayor of the nearby city of Ashdod, also imposed increased restrictions on Palestinian employees and “assign[ed] security details to kindergartens near construction sites,” the right-wing Times of Israel reported.

Support among Israelis

Israel’s Channel 10 reported on Thursday night that 58 percent of Israelis supported Shimoni’s ban. A screenshot of that survey was posted on the social media website Twitter by Israeli journalist Ami Kaufman.

As the mayor faced mounting criticism, Israel’s housing and construction ministerUri Ariel declared his support for Shimoni’s decision to bar Palestinian construction workers in Israeli schools.

“It’s not racist in my view, I think that in such times, special means are taken, and this is one of the means,” Ariel said, as reported by the Israeli website Galaz. “I suggest that everyone carefully review who is working with him.”

Effi Mor, security manager for Ashkelon’s municipality, also backed Shimoni. “In recent days our hotlines have been getting many calls about suspicious movements, fearful mothers, from a broad spectrum of citizens about them not checking if [they are Israeli citizens],” the Galaz article also notes.

Other Israeli politicians, many of them known for their stridently anti-Palestinian views, condemned Shimoni.

Israel’s economy minister Naftali Bennett — famous for bragging that he “killed lots of Arabs” — denounced Shimoni. “Ninety-nine percent of Israeli Arabs are loyal and want to integrate,” Bennett said.

“There is no place for discrimination against Arab Israelis,” said Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as reported by the Israeli daily Haaretz. “We cannot make generalizations about an entire population based on a small unruly minority. Most Arab citizens of Israel are law-abiding.”

The move was also denounced by several other Israeli politicians, such as Tzipi Livni, the justice minister, and Yair Lapid, the finance minister.

Hollow condemnation

Yet, any condemnation of racism from politicians such as Netanyahu and Bennett — known for their intense participation in anti-Palestinian incitement campaigns — is hollow.

In addition to his own incitement and racist threats, Bennett is leader of the Jewish Home (Habeyit Hayehudi) party. Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister, regularly calls for Palestinian citizens of Israel to be forcibly transferred.

Last week, Netanyahu lashed out at Palestinian citizens of Israel protesting against the police slaying of 22-year-old Palestinian youth Kheir Hamdan in the Galilee village of Kufr Kana.

“Whoever doesn’t respect Israeli law will be punished to the fullest extent,”Netanyahu declared. “I will direct the interior minister to consider stripping the citizenship of those who call for the destruction of the state of Israel.”

He also encouraged Palestinians in Israel to go to the occupied West Bank or the besieged Gaza Strip. “To all those who demonstrate against Israel and in favor of a Palestinian state, I say something simple: I invite you to move there; we won’t give you any problem,” he added, according to Haaretz.

The anti-Palestinian incitement that starts at the top of levels of the Israeli government has also contributed to the country’s downward spiral of racist frenzy.

Drivers out of work

On Thursday, just four days after bus driver Yousuf al-Ramouni was found hanged in his bus, it was reported across Israeli media outlets that 27 Palestinian bus drivers in Jerusalem are no longer working with the Israeli bus company Egged.

Israel claims that al-Ramouni, 32, committed suicide. His family, however, believes he was killed by Israeli settlers.

“We reject the suicide theory. We all know it was settlers who killed him,” Osama al-Ramouni, the victim’s brother, told AFP. “He had no problems that would make him [commit suicide].”

“My brother had children and was a happy man,” Osama also told AFP. “It is impossible that he killed himself.”

Muatasem Fakeh, one of al-Ramouni’s colleagues, said the bus driver’s body “was hanged over the steps at the back of the bus in a place where it would be impossible to hang yourself alone.”

“We saw signs of violence on his body,” he added.

The late al-Ramouni’s Palestinian colleagues went on strike in response to his death. It is still unclear whether the 27 bus drivers were fired, or whether they just refrained from going to work due the unsafe conditions in the current environment of intense anti-Palestinian incitement, particularly in Jerusalem.

Nothing new

Yossi Deitch, the deputy mayor of the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem municipality, demanded that “the Egged bus company management … fire the Arab bus drivers from East Jerusalem who did not show up to work after their colleague was found hanged in a bus,” the right-wing Israeli daily Jerusalem Post reported.

Kikar Hashabat, an Ultra-orthodox Israeli news site, reported that the drivers were fired by Egged. But the bus company’s spokesman, Ron Ratner, avoided commenting specifically and said only that “Egged has not fired any of its drivers who are Arab citizens of Israel.”

Speaking to Haaretz, Ratner pointed out that “very few” of the company’s 600 Palestinian drivers “from the east of [Jerusalem] have chosen to stop working for Egged for personal reasons,” insinuating that the drivers quit by their own volition.

“The drivers’ feelings following [al-Ramouni’s alleged] suicide are understandable,” Ratner went on, “but in practice, even during these tense days, they face no danger in coming back to work.”

But Israeli businesses have a long history of firing Palestinian employees — including those who carry Israeli citizenship — due to social pressure or because of their political views.

During Israel’s 51-day assault on the besieged Gaza Strip this past summer, dozens of Palestinians across Israel were fired from their jobs for posting content critical of the war on Gaza on social media outlets.

In most cases, dozens of employers fired Palestinian employees who posted political content after local Jewish Israeli communities threatened them with a boycott, according to a lawyer working with Kav LaOved, a Nazareth-based labor rights group.

Yet there have also been suggestions that Palestinians are being fired simply for making comments on social media websites. “Israeli Jews have read [Facebook] statuses of colleagues and then demanded their termination,” said the lawyer, Gadeer Nicola, speaking to the liberal Zionist grantmaking group the New Israel Fund.

With thanks to Dena Shunra for translation.

Editor’s note: A photo caption was corrected to say that anti-Arab signs carried by demonstrators display the words “Death to terrorists” and “Do not hire enemies,” and not “Death to Arabs.” The mistranslation originated in the caption supplied by the photo agency. 

UAW 2865 Joint Council: Statement of Endorsement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (Solidarity)


UAW 2865 Joint Council: Statement of Endorsement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions

At their July meeting, the Joint Council of UAW 2865, the UC Student-Workers’ Union, voted to endorse the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and to call for a full membership vote to be held on this issue. The statement below was passed by the Joint Council at their October meeting in order to clarify why they view BDS as a labor movement issue.

This September, a coalition of organizations in Gaza issued a renewed call for trade unions and other organizations throughout the world to divest from Israel as a non-violent means of putting pressure on the Israeli state to end its ongoing violations of the human rights of Palestinians. Of the twenty Palestinian organizations that signed on to the call, at least eight were trade unions, including the Palestinian University Teachers Union. A previous call was issued in July by most of the same organizations, amidst a series of particularly deadly attacks on Palestinian civilians by the Israeli government. The six-week long assault left over 2000 Palestinians murdered by Israeli forces, and the Gaza Strip devastated, its material infrastructure crippled and people’s lives and livelihoods destroyed. The Israeli assault on Gaza is the latest in decades of ongoing violence and oppression against Palestinians.

We believe that violations of human rights anywhere in the world should concern working people everywhere. In light of the Israeli state’s assault on Gaza this summer, the statewide Joint Council of our union, UAW 2865, the UC Student-Workers Union, endorsed the call for Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment (BDS) and made public its intention to call a full membership vote on this issue during the school year.

In the United States, efforts to support the Palestinian trade union movement’s call for divestment have been led by Labor for Palestine. In addition to our local union, North Carolina’s Public Service Workers Union (UE Local 150) has also endorsed the call for divestment. Several labor coalitions, including Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace and Justice, New York Labor against the War, and the Filipino Workers Association signed Labor for Palestine’s founding statement. Members of ILWU Local 10 have taken important leadership on this issue by respecting a community picket set up this summer outside the Port of Oakland to boycott Zim, an Israeli shipping line. The call for BDS is also supported by growing numbers of officers and rank-and-file members in numerous other union locals around the country.

Labor for Palestine activists demonstrate at the Israeli Consulate in NYC in solidarity with the dock actions on the West Coast.

Outside of the United States, the Palestinian call for BDS has seen wide and growing support in the labor movement, including by several unions in the UK and Ireland, UNITE New Zealand, CUPE in Canada, COSATU in South Africa and many dockworker unions around the world, among others. In addition to joining the call for BDS, trade unionists from many sectors have been active in Block the Boat activities in ports around the world, including this summer in Oakland.

BDS is not the first social justice effort that looks beyond the primary economic and representational activities of the union. For example, in recent years, campus units and our statewide local have issued statements and taken actions in support of divestment from fossil fuels, the Occupy movement, immigrant rights, justice for Trayvon Martin, the South African Marikana miners and the Chilean student movement, among others. Labor unions, including our own national union, the United Auto Workers, were active in the Civil Rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s.

It is our right and responsibility to engage in political expression on the critical issues of our time. Many American labor unions actively opposed the military dictatorship in Chile during the 1970’s and 1980’s and played a key role in supporting the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. In fact, our own national union, the UAW, played a particularly critical role in leading the labor movement’s divestment campaign to end apartheid in South Africa. Additionally, union members in the United States have been active in the global anti-sweatshop movement and numerous other targeted campaigns against labor rights abuses around the world.

Labor activists oppose Israeli state policy toward the Palestinian people on human rights grounds. We condemn unequivocally Israeli state violence against the civilian population in Gaza and the West Bank and the denial of basic citizenship rights to Palestinians living in Israel and the denial of Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homes and lands as stipulated in U.N. Resolution 194 and numerous other U.N. resolutions. As trade unionists, we additionally express our concern with the ways in which the Israeli occupation enables widespread violations of labor rights such as the right to organize and the hyper-exploitation of Palestinian workers by Israeli employers. As academics, we condemn the denial of academic freedom to Palestinian scholars and students under conditions of Israeli occupation. We are also acting in solidarity with Palestinian members of our own union who have been personally impacted by the Israeli occupation and assault on Gaza.

Finally, the union’s motivation in responding to Palestinian trade unionists’ call for boycott and divestment is to oppose all forms of racism, which include anti-Semitism and anti-Arab racism. We reiterate that while we condemn anti-Semitic and bigoted hate speech, criticism of Israeli state policy is not anti-Semitic; it is principled human rights activism and protected political expression. Many Jewish and Israeli individuals from around the world, including from among our own membership, have echoed the call for justice in Palestine, and we support their right to free speech and adoption of a political position divergent from the Israeli state’s.

Working people everywhere have a common interest in opposing oppression and exploitation wherever they are found. Working together as a global labor movement to oppose injustice around the world strengthens us all in our individual struggles against anti-labor employers and states and in our collective efforts to build the world that working people deserve. An Injury to One Is an Injury to All.

UAW 2865 is a statewide union representing 13,000 teaching assistants, tutors and readers. The union will be holding a full membership on BDS on December 4.



UAW 2865 BDS caucus requests support from faculty on BDS resolution (USACBI)


UAW 2865 BDS caucus requests support from faculty on BDS resolution (USACBI)

Please support an important campaign for a BDS resolution in UAW 2865, the union of teaching assistants, tutors and readers on UC campuses.

Dear USACBI endorsers:

We write to you to ask for support for the upcoming vote on a BDS resolution in UAW 2865, the union of teaching assistants, tutors and readers across the nine UC campuses. If this vote passes, UAW 2865 will become the first labor union in the U.S. to support BDS so this is truly a historic campaign.

As some of you may have heard, over the summer, the union’s Joint Council voted on a resolution to join the BDS movement. Supporters of the movement within UAW have emphasized that it is their duty as a labor union to extend solidarity to Palestinian counterparts in their struggle for liberation and equality.

The union will be holding a membership vote on the resolution on December 4, 2014, calling on members to vote on a ballot that asks a) the UAW international to divest from companies complicit in the occupation; b) The University of California to do the same; and c) the US government to end military aid to Israel until it complies with international law. Additionally, it asks members to join the academic boycott as individuals by refusing to take part in any research, conferences, and events that are funded or otherwise sponsored by Israeli universities.

We ask all faculty to endorse the union’s BDS resolution by signing the faculty letter of endorsement online:

Also, please consider reaching out to graduate students at UC campuses to ensure that they are aware of the vote date, information and are committing to vote!

Lastly, please like the campaign’s facebook  page:

Below are additional documents including the ballot draft and the original Joint Council Letter supporting Palestine and BDS.

We also invite you to consider sharing these documents with graduate student and faculty unions on your campuses, if you are not in the UC [not US], and discuss the possibility of organizing in support of similar resolutions across the U.S.

Letters of Support:

Students for Justice in Palestine- West Support for UAW:
Letter from Jewish Officers and Members:
Feminist and Queer UC Student Workers for Justice in Palestine:

Additional Documents:

Joint Council Statement Supporting Palestine and BDS: July, 29, 2014:
Ballot Language for December 4th Vote:

FAQ Sheets:

Academic Boycott:
Labor Movement:




Dear AROC Community,

We have stopped the largest Israeli shipping line from coming to California indefinitely.  

We blocked the boat.

We challenged state violence and stopped local and federal law enforcement from coming to Oakland to work with international security forces, including Israel, to further police and militarize our communities.

We kicked Urban Shield out of Oakland. 

We defended our community members against deportation, detention, and FBI harassment. After being imprisoned for ten years, faced with deportation to apartheid Israel where he was previously tortured and imprisoned, we got our client released from detention and back with his community in the Bay Area.

We empowered our community. 


AROC’s leadership in organizing the Bay Area Arab community is unique.  

We are the only Arabic speaking organization providing free-of-charge legal services(AALS: Arab American Legal Services) while fighting for immigrant rights, challenging war and militarism, Zionism, and racism. We are the only organization that has an Arab youth-led committee (AYO: Arab Youth Organizing), and an Arab queer immigrant-led committee (QueerOC). We organize our youth and adults to develop new leaders that can represent our cause, with our voice and our vision for the world alongside other impacted communities fighting for justice.

  • Continue the fight and empower our youth, our families, our communities to honor the struggles of our freedom fighters.
  • Help stop FBI harassment, surveillance and state repression.
  • Ensure that we free our beloved Rasmea Odeh.
  • Show the world that Zionism and Israeli apartheid aren’t welcome in our towns by making the Bay Area a model for the BDS movement.
  • Provide free legal services to community members facing deportation, FBI targeting and forced migration from their homelands.
  • We need your help to grow and sustain these kinds of wins and a liberated vision for our people.

Can you help AROC raise $50,000 to grow our staff and be able to meet the demands of our community?

We need to hire a full time community organizer to carry our campaign work forward, to build our membership base and develop our programs. And we need your support to make that happen. Your support will enable us to do the political work we all believe is necessary. We cannot depend so heavily on foundations for funding. Because our work is rooted in our community, we know that we cannot depend on anyone but the community we serve. Our work necessitates grassroots support so that we can truly realize the self-determination we fight for.

Please support AROC today by giving in any of the following ways:

  • Donate  $5,000, $500, or $100. Give so that we can have the capacity to do the work needed.
  • Become a monthly sustainer. Contribute $50, $20 or $10 a month to sustain AROC’s programming.
  • Organize a fundraiser, house party, or creative action to raise funds for Arab organizing.
  • Connect us with potential donors. Do you know of someone who can give, who supports our struggles for liberation and supports community organizing?  Help us broaden our base of support.
  • Spread the word. Encourage your friends and family to support AROC.
  • Get involved and be a part of our community.


Lara Kiswani, Executive Director