At the June 19, 2018 Regular meeting of the Vancouver & District Labour Council, delegates present passed the following motion in support of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel in response to the country’s actions against the Palestinian people.
BECAUSE article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power from transferring parts of its own civilian population to territory it occupies; and
BECAUSE the International Court of Justice has ruled that Israel’s settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) violate international law; and
BECAUSE Israeli settlement expansions in the OPT are an undeniable obstacle to the Israel – Palestine peace process; and
BECAUSE Israel has continued, despite international pressure, to expand its settlements and to demolish Palestinian homes and other infrastructure in the OPT; and
BECAUSE UN Resolution 194 establishes the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their lands and properties; and
BECAUSE Canada and other nations have previously succeeded in ensuring respect for human rights through the use of economic and political sanctions, including in the case of South Africa; and
BECAUSE the world has watched in horror as dozens of unarmed Palestinian protestors have been killed, and hundreds wounded, by Israeli military forces in recent weeks,
THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL support the use of boycott, divestment and sanctions (“BDS”) that are targeted to those sectors of Israel’s economy and society which profit from the ongoing occupation of the OPT; and
THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL FURTHER support such a form of BDS until such time as Israel implements a permanent ban on further settlement construction in the OPT, and enters into good faith negotiations with representatives of the Palestinian people for the purpose of establishing a viable, contiguous and truly sovereign Palestinian state; and
THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL FURTHER support such a form of BDS until such time as Israel dismantles the apartheid wall, recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, ceases the use of excessive force against protestors, and respects the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194; and
THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL FINALLY oppose all efforts to prohibit, punish or otherwise deter expressions of support for BDS.
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How many people in the U.S. labor movement are aware that Palestinian workers held a general strike on May 15, Nakba Day, in protest of incrementally-genocidal Israeli settler colonization? How many U.S. labor leaders have declared solidarity with Palestinian workers? How many U.S. labor unions have followed in the great tradition of transnational anti-colonial labor solidarity by standing with Palestine against a genocidal process currently led by anti-labor extremists such as Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu? How many U.S. labor unions have followed the example of labor unions globally by declaring support for the non-violent BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement?
We are saddened and disappointed that our own AFT/IFT leadership have a history not only of silence on these matters, but complicity with the racist and genocidal regime that guns down unarmed Palestinians in the open air prison that is Gaza.
We are saddened and disappointed in the hostility that AFT leaders such as Randi Weingarten have expressed to the internationally-respected and non-violent tactic of BDS. Such leaders are out of touch and out of step with the rank and file of our union. We, the GEO, proudly endorsed a Divestment campaign led by Palestinian students on our campus this academic year (2017-2018), and we plan to do likewise next year. We call on AFT/IFT leadership to unequivocally, and in an unqualified manner, condemn Israel’s murderous aggression and blatant human rights abuses against Palestinians, and to act in substantive solidarity with the Palestinian people who are struggling against racism, apartheid, and colonization—struggling for freedom. A labor movement that does not fight for justice against the bullies of the world is no labor movement at all.
Palestine must be free!
The Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO), IFT/AFT local 6300, AFL-CIO, is a member-run labor union and represents Teaching and Graduate Assistants (TAs and GAs) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In November 2009, and more recently, earlier this year in February 2018, GEO members and allies participated in a strike to secure a fair contract and more accessible UIUC. With an active presence in the community, the GEO continues to work for high-quality and accessible public education in Illinois.
For more information, please contact us email@example.com. More information can also be found on our website atwww.uiucgeo.org.
Samir Chopra talks about the defamatory posters that called some BC faculty and students “terrorist supporters.”
The message on a poster plastered to a recycling bin on the Brooklyn College campus was succinct and inflammatory: “Terrorist Supporters,” it declared in all caps. Underneath that label were names of current and former Brooklyn College students (all Muslim students of color) and chiseled illustrations of two Brooklyn College professors – Corey Robin and Samir Chopra – both known for their public scholarship and who have supported freedom of expression around Palestinian issues.
At the bottom of the poster, underneath the hashtag #StopUniversitySupportForTerrorists was the web address for the California-based David Horowitz Freedom Center, identified as an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Brooklyn College is not alone in being a target of a campaign to single out professors and students as “terrorist supporters.” This semester, posters appeared on several campuses across the country, including the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Chicago. The posters aren’t the first time that the CUNY college has been singled out. Citing increasing concerns about attempts to intimidate and harass faculty, the American Association of University Professors issued guidelines for universities to resist targeted online harassment earlier this year. Already the Trump administration has called on the University of Nevada at Las Vegas to investigate one academic who criticized Trump, and key architects of the campus culture wars have close ties to the Trump administration.
The PSC chapter at Brooklyn College was quick to condemn the poster that appeared in several spots on campus on September 27, and college staff quickly removed the posters.
“By naming and depicting professors, it seeks to curb dissent and suppress academic freedom, and it places the safety of these faculty members at risk,” wrote the college’s PSC chapter chair, James Davis, in a September 28 email to members. “Faculty members must not be subjected to orchestrated campaigns of harassment and intimidation. We urge the college administration to affirm the fundamental principle of academic freedom.”
It’s easy to dismiss the poster as “frivolous and juvenile,” Davis told Clarion, but the effect of the poster and others like it may make faculty think “three times” before they say something controversial, because they may be on a poster next.
Chopra’s illustrated “mugshot” on a Horowitz Center poster isn’t stopping him from speaking his mind. “If you did back down, you would be doing what they would want you to do,” Chopra, a professor in the department of philosophy, told Clarion. “That feels like cooperating with them, which I don’t feel like doing.” Chopra admitted he is in a somewhat privileged position. He’s tenured, and he’s not looking to change jobs. But the posters and the concerted campaign against him and others who focus on Palestine, has its cost. In Chopra’s view, his days on the job market are “over.”
“Somebody in the dean or the provost’s office could sit down and do a Google search, and they could tell the department that wants to hire me, ‘That guy is this guy?’” Fearing retaliation from donors or the Board of Trustees, Chopra said, university administrators could decide to hire someone else – and he wouldn’t know.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TIES
All 11 names appearing on the latest Horowitz Center poster are listed on the Canary Mission website, an online “blacklist” including profiles – with names, social media handles and photos – of professors and students active on Palestinian rights, with a goal, according to a video posted on its home page, to “ensure that today’s radicals are not tomorrow’s employees.”
The fact that he’s named on the website, Chopra said, means that every few months, his name is tweeted out by the Mission and he’s harassed online. (Nearly a dozen CUNY professors are named on the website and many CUNY students.)
The website singles out individuals, but it ensures that its supporters are hidden. The website does not name staff members; its domain is registered so ownership is hidden. The David Horowitz Freedom Center, Daniel Pipes’s Middle East Forum and other right-wing pro-Israel groups that focus on campuses denied any relationship with the Canary Mission, according to a May 2015 article written by Josh Nathan-Kazis in the Forward. Charles Jacobs, who was instrumental in producing “Columbia Unbecoming,” a documentary that showed the university’s Middle East studies department as unfriendly to Jewish students, replied “no comment.” Later reporting by Nathan-Kazis revealed that the Mission’s home page temporarily directed readers to the personal Twitter profile of a director of an online Israeli advocacy group, Warren Betzalel Lapidus. Even mainstream groups, including the Israel on Campus Coalition, cited the Mission’s effectiveness in being a “strong deterrent against anti-Semitism and BDS activism” and limiting activism of some student because fear of the “repercussions of public exposure.”
While there may not be a direct link between the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Canary Mission, a September 28 article, “Brooklyn College: Advocating Genocide and a Third Intifada” in the Freedom Center’s FrontPage, names students on the poster and links to their “profile” pages on the Canary Mission website. That same article’s main image is a version of the Brooklyn College poster that appeared on campus this semester.
The article then goes on to name a litany of reasons for naming the CUNY college including the Students for Justice for Palestine (SJP) chapter’s use of certain phrases including, “the third intifada” and “Al-Nakba,” (Arabic for “disaster,” to describe the 1948 establishment of the Israeli state). The article also cited the use of “the slogan: ‘From the River to the Sea’” and activists affiliated with the SJP chapter were accused of calling one faculty member a “Zionist pig” during a faculty council meeting. However, a Brooklyn College investigation later found that no member of the Brooklyn College SJP made this comment.
The Horowitz Center is run by David Horowitz, a former 1960s left-wing radical from Forest Hills and a son of communist parents who later turned and has become what the Washington Post describes as “an intellectual godfather to the far right.” A June 3 investigation in the Post explored the “shadow” universe of right-wing charities and Horowitz’s connections to Trump officials.
In the 1990’s, Horowitz hosted a Wednesday Morning Club catered to conservatives in Los Angeles. A regular guest was former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been honored at a Horowitz-organized event. Stephen Miller, now Trump’s senior policy adviser, was a protégé of Hortowitz. Miller enlisted Horowitz’s help when he was dealing with teachers and classmates at his Santa Monica high school who were “insufficiently patriotic,” and he went on to have Horowitz speak at his high school and at Duke University, where he was an undergraduate. Once Miller graduated from college, Horowitz helped him land jobs with conservative lawmakers.
Last fall, the Horowitz Freedom Center issued a list of “the top 10 schools supporting terrorists,” which included Brooklyn College. The Center, according to a website affiliated with it, “conducted a guerrilla postering campaign on the campus.” During that campaign, it decided to target a Brooklyn College master’s student Raja Abdulhaq with an illustrated poster of him with the hashtag #JewHatred.
“The main purpose [of this campaign] is not to shame people. The main objective is to stop them from doing what they’re doing,” Abdulhaq, who is studying political science and international relations, told Clarion. “There’s no way that they’ll stop and intimidate me.”
While he’s undeterred, Abdulhaq said the intimidation has had its effects. A couple of students have approached him personally and said that they’re cutting down their activism with SJP, citing their concerns about their family and job prospects after college. One recent Brooklyn College graduate – who was active in SJP, wears a hijab and has her name and photo posted on the Canary Mission website – had a study abroad poster with her picture on it defaced (her eyes were blacked out and there was an upside-down cross drawn on her forehead).
The most recent posters prompted more than 80 Brooklyn College faculty and staff to sign a letter addressed to CUNY Chancellor James Milliken, calling on him to issue a public statement explaining and condemning the poster and the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
“These posters are an insidious and utterly unacceptable attempt to intimidate and defame members of this college and the larger academic community and have an intense and chilling impact on the young people targeted and the broader student community,” stated the October 4 letter.
WEAK CUNY RESPONSE
Milliken did not publicly issue a statement, but sent an October 13 email to Brooklyn College faculty and staff calling the poster “troubling.” “I share in your strong condemnation of crude attempts to restrict protected speech through intimidation,” he wrote. He also said he stood behind Brooklyn College Michelle Anderson’s statement, which was released less than a week after the posters appeared on campus.
“[The poster] seeks to defame and silence specific individuals for their political opinions by placing them at risk for further harassment and abuse,” wrote Anderson in an October 2 email to students, staff and faculty. “We reject these tactics, especially in the context of an academic community, where robust discourse on matters of great public import is central to our educational project.”
Neither Milliken nor Anderson named the Horowitz Freedom Center in their statements, nor, as of press time, were there steps taken to restore the reputations of students and faculty who were defamed by the posters.
For concerned Brooklyn College faculty, students and staff, the administration’s response is not enough.
“[Milliken] should name the Horowitz Freedom Center as a menace to the university’s values and the safety of students and faculty, even if it means giving the Horowitz people the publicity they crave,” PSC Brooklyn College Chapter Chair James Davis told Clarion. “Otherwise, it’s a squandered opportunity to demonstrate administrative leadership.”
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Montreal, October 5, 2017 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is thrilled to announce that the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) has officially endorsed its Peace in Palestine campaign. The campaign is a strategy to get Canada’s parliamentarians to pass a motion calling for an end to Israel’s illegal “settlements” (a.k.a. colonies.)
The CLC is the largest labour organization in Canada, representing 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC’s endorsement of “Peace in Palesine” follows on more than 50 years whereby the CLC has supported policies and programs that seek to promote positive social change. CJPME President Thomas Woodley responded enthusiastically, “We are excited to see Canada’s largest labour organization boldly stand up for human rights at home and abroad.” CJPME encourages other Canadian civil society organizations to stand up for social justice as the CLC has.
A core component of the Peace in Palestine campaign is a Parliamentary ePetition calling on the government to “demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.” The ePetition mirrors the wording of UN Security Council resolution 2334 (December 2016), and has the sponsorship of NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Helène Laverdière. CJPME has launched a four-month cross-Canada campaign promoting this Parliamentary petition and the follow-up Parliamentary motion CJPME hopes this campaign inspires.
Over 70 unions and organizations have already endorsed the Peace in Palestine campaign. Other organizations wishing to endorse the campaign may do so on-line. Canadian individuals are also encouraged to sign the Parliamentary ePetition, thus demonstrating support for the “Peace in Palestine” campaign, respect for Palestinian human rights, and promoting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
About CJPME – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.
For more information, please contact Miranda Gallo, 438-380-5410
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East www.cjpme.org
The whole or parts of this press release can be reproduced without permission.
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“A victory for myself, for the Palestine solidarity movement, for freedom of expression! A victory for the Palestinian cause and the struggle of Palestinians!” said Shoufani in a Facebook post on 8 September offering thanks to friends, colleagues and supporters for their consistent support throughout a year of struggle. Shoufani kept her job and defeated the allegations that targeted her as well as ongoing racist campaigns of harassment carried out by far-right groups and individuals. Organizations including B’nai Brith Canada, the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center Canada were actively involvedi in the campaign to silence Shoufani.
“Their goal was to destroy my reputation and livelihood and ultimately make me lose my job, but they were defeated! It’s true they targeted me but their ultimate goal was to send a silencing message to intimidate and scare anyone who speaks in support of Palestinians and to put a chill on people,” Shoufani wrote, but the attack in fact led to “more support and created more awareness of the Palestinian cause.”
“The attack that I was put through was not just an attack against me, it was ultimately against every voice that speaks and calls for the freedom and justice of Palestinians who are living under and suffering daily from a brutal occupation and apartheid, with the ultimate aim to silence them and silence any criticism of ‘Israel’, the occupying power,” Shoufani wrote in her social media post.
Shoufani quoted Ghassan Kanafani, the Palestinian writer, political leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and intellectual assassinated by Israel on 8 July 1972: “The Palestinian cause is not a cause for Palestinians only, but a cause for every revolutionary…a cause of the exploited and oppressed masses in our era.”
“On this day…we need to salute and acknowledge, stand in solidarity and demand the release of prisoners, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons,” said Shoufani in her speech. “We salute and demand the freedom of Bilal Kayed…who was scheduled to be released on June 13th after 14 and one-half years of imprisonment. Instead of being released, he was ordered to six extra months of adminsitratioe detention without charge or trial…Bilal Kayed has launched an open hunger strike demanding his freedom. This illegal Israeli order of administrative detention is seen as an attempt to set a precedent of the future indefinite detention of Palestinian prisoners after the completion of their sentence.”
She linked the attack on Kayed and fellow Palestinian prisoners to the imprisonment of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, Lebanese Arab struggler for Palestine, imprisoned in French jails for 33 years, demanding his immediate release.
“I urge you to speak up, to resist this occupation, and support the steadfastness of Palestinians, support their resistance, in any form that is possible. I urge you to support BDS – boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. This is the least we can do here in Canada,” said Shoufani, closing with a rousing chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”
Recently, Niki Ashton, a leading candidate for the leadership of the New Democratic Party (NDP) in Canada, was attacked by B’nai Brith and other pro-apartheid organizations for participating in a rally commemorating the Nakba and in support of Palestinian political prisoners.
In particular, right-wing Zionist organizations attacked Ashton for speaking in front of a sign urging freedom for imprisoned Palestinian leader Ahmad Sa’adat, the General Secretaty of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Following the attacks, rather than backing down, Ashton reiterated her support for Palestinian rights and noted that it was “powerful to join many at a rally in solidarity with those on hunger strike in Palestine.” Ashton is one of the front-runners in the NDP leadership campaign and has won support from many youth and progressive voices.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes Nadia Shoufani and all of those involved in the campaign to defend her right to speak and right to teach. Her clear and principled voice in defense of Palestinian rights and freedom – and the struggle of Palestinian prisoners in particular – is one that cannot be silenced. As she noted, “Our fight for justice and a free Palestine will not be over and the path ahead will always have obstacles and difficulties, but as long as we believe in a cause so embedded in us, we will persevere! No such attacks will stop us, nor will they intimidate or silence us. On the contrary this will make us stronger believers in our fight for justice and freedom. We will never be silent until we win and justice prevails!”
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The Rise of the Arab American Left: Activists, Allies, and Their Fight against Imperialism and Racism, 1960s-1980s by Pamela E. Pennock, The University of North Carolina Press (2017)
One of the earliest boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, victories in the United States came in 1973 when United Auto Workers Local 600 in Dearborn, Michigan, voted to divest its Israeli bonds after a campaign waged by the Arab Workers Caucus and the American Arab Coordinating Committee. The campaign drew comparisons with apartheid South Africa and won the support of many Black autoworkers in Michigan.
Was it just an oddity that decades before Palestinian civil society called for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel in 2005, industrial workers in the US heartland were already waging a BDS struggle? Or, far from being a rogue wave, was it an integral part of the oceanic upheavals among workers, students, immigrants and people of color during the heady maelstroms of the 1960s and ’70s?
The Rise of the Arab American Left makes it clear this was no oddity, although it did have certain characteristics unique to the Arab American experience. Given the relative paucity of scholarship on the history of the Arab American left, this book is a must-read for those who wish to learn more about that community’s activism during this period of radical upheaval.
Pennock, an associate professor of history at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, focuses on radical activists, who she defines as “secular, ideologically leftist and avidly pro-Palestinian.” She concedes that this group – with its support of armed struggle, a revolution for what was then called the “Third World,” and one democratic, secular state throughout all of Mandate Palestine – was a subset of the Arab American population at a time when a majority of Arab Americans held more moderate positions.
“Nevertheless,” she notes, “the issue that most united and galvanized Arab Americans – across differences of generation, social class, religion and national origin – was their shared outrage over the dispossession of Palestinian Arabs through the establishment of the state of Israel.”
The book’s narrative covers the impact Israel’s 1967 War had amongst Arab Americans, the intense period of repression and surveillance that followed the rise of activism in the 1970s and the gradual moderation of activism in the 1980s, when outlooks became less transnational and more focused on domestic civil rights issues.
In the 1960s, organizations such as the Association of Arab American University Graduates and the Organization of Arab Students arose, along with such figures as the academic Ibrahim Abu-Lughod and civil rights attorney Abdeen Jabara. The Rise of the Arab American Left offers a unique opportunity for readers to learn about these early trailblazers.
One of the book’s most enlightening chapters, aptly titled “Intersections,” documents how Arab Americans began to find “natural allies” in the movements of other oppressed groups with roots in the Third World.
In particular, the book looks at the alliance that developed between Arab American autoworkers in Michigan and activists with the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, also based in the auto plants.
The alliance extended to issues related to urban removal as the city of Dearborn attempted to turn the Southend neighborhood, where most Arab immigrants lived, into an industrial zone to act as a buffer between Dearborn and predominantly Black Detroit in the wake of that city’s 1967 rebellion.
Pennock’s singular focus on Dearborn is illuminating and detailed, but she also surveys the national scene, showing how central figures in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, such as James Forman and Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture), came to embrace the Palestinian cause, along with the Black Panther Party and other prominent Black activists such as Jack O’Dell of Operation PUSH and Francis Beal of the Third World Women’s Alliance.
In the early 1970s, Pennock observes, the largely white, student-based New Left also “developed a pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist position.” However, she concludes, that “on the whole, the American Left’s commitment to the Palestinian revolution was soft and somewhat perfunctory; in general, the activists’ understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict was superficial, and their position was rooted in an idealized image of Third World guerrillas.”
For many white activists, the New Left’s embrace of the Palestinian struggle opened a rift that lasted for decades, although it actually delineated an already existing faultline: namely that between the left-liberal wing of the movement and the more radical, Marxist-Leninist wing.
Pennock describes in detail how both black and white radicals embraced the Palestinian cause, while more centrist forces emerging out of the civil rights and student movements failed to break with Zionism.
In Pennock’s account, both the ADL and the Israel lobby group AIPAC colluded with the FBI and the CIA, leading to the creation of the Cabinet Committee to Combat Terrorism and a concerted political intimidation campaign known as Operation Boulder. The cabinet directed the FBI, the State Department and the Immigration and Naturalization Services to monitor Arab Americans, surveillance that included an illegal FBI burglary of the Dallas, Texas, office of the Arab Information Center.
Pennock says the triggering incident was the Black September attack at the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics but clarifies that the creation of the cabinet committee was seen as a way to placate AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League.
The author notes that “the investigations never detected a single case of terrorist or espionage activity among Arabs living in the United States.” But that, of course, was not the point. Operation Boulder was essentially “a program of political intimidation,” Pennock observes, that was meant to suppress Arab-American activism and to inject “divide and conquer” tactics within the movement.
The direct role of the Israeli government in this surveillance was also strongly suspected, but never proved. Both The Washington Post and The Chicago Tribunepublished articles describing collusion between Israeli intelligence agencies, the Anti-Defamation League and the FBI, with the ADL keeping files on Arab American activists for the FBI.
Eventually, the National Security Agency was also exposed for its electronic surveillance of Abdeen Jabara, wiretapping at least 40 of his telephone conversations even though the FBI admitted that Jabara was not the subject of a criminal investigation.
It’s hard to think of any of this as lost history, given that the same practices prevail today, with groups like Canary Mission and others compiling dossiers on Palestine student activists at US campuses.
In the wake of Charlottesville, the streets of Boston this weekend were a resounding showing of the mass outrage against fascist mobilizations. The more than 40,000 people in Boston today have outnumbered and made it impossible for the racists to congregate on Boston Common.
We need to continue to show our numbers and our refusal to allow Nazis to grow or mobilize. Next weekend, another “alt-right” call is convening in Berkeley – and they will be met with resistance. A large ad hoc coalition is organizing a broad, large call to counter the right. They have put out a call for a national weekend of solidarity actions. As one chant in at demonstration today highlights: “Wherever you go, whatever you do, we are many, you are few!” So next weekend, let’s make it a national day of action against hate that the fascists will remember.
***We want this to be as broad and large and representative as possible – email firstname.lastname@example.org to endorse. We will list endorsers and make them admins for this event as we receive them. There will be an organizing meeting on Wednesday 8/23 at 7pm at the Brooklyn Free School (372 Clinton Ave) – an event page for this is posted on the wall of this event***
We have seen, all too chillingly, the impact the Trump presidency has had on an emboldened and rebranded “alt-right”. Charlottesville has exposed the nature of these organized racists who aim to enact violence against people of color, activists, and anyone who stands in their way. While mourning the life of Heather Heyer, we must redouble our commitment to stopping these murderers in their tracks. We need to unite every organization and every individual in the shared goal of marginalizing their message, halting their efforts at organizing, and refusing to accept the normalization of Nazis in the streets.
Tens of thousands have rallied against the right since Charlottesville. We have another upcoming opportunity to stake our ground next weekend. Berkeley, which has been at the center of right wing mobilizations since the election, is calling for a day of solidarity actions as a broad, united front of trade unions and political and faith-based organizations seek to counter a far-right provocation. Now is the time to take up the call. There is a renewed opening in the aftermath of Charlottesville to unite tens of thousands across the country against racism, against fear, and against fascist mobilizations.
Let’s take this opportunity to build as large and broad a demonstration as we can here in NYC on August 27th. This is a crucial next step in better organizing our side, and to take on the fights against racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-semitism and all the forms of oppression and hatred stoked by the Trump regime. Showing in numbers that these forces are not welcome is the only way to demoralize and isolate them. This is an urgent task.
Sponsored by (list in formation): American Muslims for Palestine, Decolonize This Place, International Socialist Organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, Jews say No, NYC Solidarity With Palestine, Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Science for the People NYC
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A white power rally planned for Saturday in San Francisco was canceled Friday after its right-wing organizers said in a live Facebook feed that they were facing too many threats from anti-hate activists and city leaders.
The surprise announcement by “Patriot Prayer” organizer Joey Gibson came hours after San Francisco civic and cultural leaders launched a weekend of resistance to Saturday’s event on national parkland on the city’s edge and a followup rally planned for Berkeley on Sunday.
“The rhetoric from Mayor [Ed] Lee, [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi, the media—all these people are saying we are white supremacists and it’s bringing in tons of extremists,” Gibson said, on UnitedAmericaFirst.com’s Facebook page. “We’re going to take the opportunity to not fall into that trap.”
Gibson said the rally organizers would hold a news conference on Saturday and the Berkeley event would be held. However, other Facebook posts said Amber Cummings, organizer of the Berkeley event, had canceled her event, but would symbolically be at Martin Luther King Park.
“This rally will take place but it will be me alone attending,” said a photo of a letter from Cummings to “the press and to the people” with a 4:30pm date stamp. She added in all-caps, “I stress I do not want anyone coming,” saying she wanted to avoid violence.
The turn of events capped an emotional day in San Francisco, with city leaders pulling out the stops to organize events and counter-protests underscoring that their city’s values forcefully reject any political philosophy elevating one race or religion above another.
A City Says No to Hate
“Love overcomes hate,” said Rev. Cecil Williams, pastor emeritus of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, and a leader of the civil rights community in the Bay Area for a half-century. He opened a Friday rally on the steps of San Francisco City Hall by urging all to stand up for love, justice, inclusion and peace. “San Francisco is a city of peace and love is the answer… Live it every day.”
“We need this day to show the rest of the country and the entire world that we stand up against hate and for inclusion,” said the rally’s emcee, Renel Brooks-Moon, the public address announcer for the San Francisco Giants, as she introduced a dozen speakers to a crowd of several thousand. “Diversity is our strength. We are stronger together.”
“It is important that we are all here together the day before hate shows up on our shores,” San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said. “I want to say this, because we should say it for the rest of the country. When you have a city that leads with love and compassion, then we are, and will always be, a city of sanctuary.” To cheers, Lee continued, “We will resist the wall. We will resist the registry. We will support our Muslim brothers and sisters that are under attack. And we will always be a city of love and compassion.”
“Tomorrow, there’s going to be a handful of people on Crissy Field [at Golden Gate National Recreation Area] who are going to espouse hate, but there will be an army of lovers in this city and throughout the city making it very clear that we are united against hate,” said South Bay Congresswoman Jackie Speier, a San Francisco native. “We are often at the forefront of every new social movement. We are in the forefront of another social movement that says ‘not in our America.’ We are not going to allow hate to infect us and become a cancer in this country.”
The political leaders sounded similar notes, saying that San Francisco and surrounding Bay Area cities consider diversity, justice, inclusion and fairness to be core values and their moral compass. But while they spoke openly about embracing “love not hate,” as a shorthand for these values, some of the speakers said their community—as well as the country—was undergoing one of the most challenging cultural moments in decades.
“Our society is going through a profound shift. The current landscape challenges some of our fundamental values, our assumptions, and our democracy,” said John Powell, director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley. “We have to go back to a previous time to find a country so divided, all the way back to the Civil War. Yet we have clear internal choices. The core institutions, the core values of the people of this country, need to be defended. In times like this we need leadership.”
“It is necessary for us to actively resist hate, racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia and other forms that would exclude any person. Yet resistance is not enough,” Powell continued. “That’s why we are gathered here today, not just in opposition to hate but in celebration of love and celebration of each other. But that’s not enough either. We have to give our time, our money, our power, our organizing, to make this dream a reality. We need each other. The Bay Area needs us. The country needs us. The planet needs us.”
“So what do we do this time?” Powell said, raising the most pressing question. “We have different strategies. Some of us may march. Some of us may boycott. Some of us may organize our workplace. Some of us may run for office. Some of us may hold each other. But we all have to be engaged. We all have to do more than we have done in the past… The only way to make America great is to make America all of ours.”
A Spectrum of Anti-Hate Events in San Francisco
In recent days, various arms of city government have organized counter protests, rallies, peace festivals and “help-against-hate stations” across the city. The city’s Human Rights Commission has nine events mixing speakers and artists. A Peace, Love and Understanding rally and concert will be held at Civic Center plaza from noon to 5pm Saturday, hosted by the mayor’s office. A rally and march for equality from Harvey Milk Plaza will feed into that event. On Friday, neighborhood cultural centers are holding rallies and other interfaith gatherings.
And then there was the planned resistance to the white supremacist gathering at Crissy Field for their Saturday afternoon rally. The National Park Service issued a permit banning anyone from carrying two-dozen items including guns, ammunition, pepper spray and other potential weapons. The city is shutting down bus service to keep gawkers away, and the city’s entire police force will be mobilized.
Many ad hoc and longstanding groups have posted plans online for counter protests.
ResistSF was planning to meet at 11am and then march to Crissy Field. Brown Lives Matter was planning to meet at 9am on the nearby Marina Green and march to Crissy Field. More than 330 people have told the organizers’ Facebook page they are going. Another group, San Francisco Marchers Against Hate, was planning to converge on the white supremacists via hiking trails. ResistanceSF was calling on people to show up in clown costumes, while warning them the Park Service has banned balloons. Other groups were encouraging people who walk their dogs on Crissy Field not to pick up the feces before the right-wing rally.
“The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 10, who has a long history of fighting against racism, along with many other SF community groups and individuals who stand against white supremacy, misogyny and homophobia, will be marching from Marina Green to Crissy Field to protest the fascists, white supremacists and Nazis gathering there. Join us!” the ILWU’s Facebook page said. Its coalition includes ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition, Bay Resistance, Democratic Socialists of America-San Francisco, Democratic Socialists of America-Silicon Valley, International Socialist Organization, Indivisible San Francisco, John Brown Anti-Klan Committee, Labor for Palestine, Labor for Standing Rock, and Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)-SF.
All these groups have shown a small cadre of right-wingers espousing white supremacist views that they are not welcome in San Francisco. The Crissy Field event organizer, Joey Gibson, said he would hold a news conference Saturday at 2pm in another city park.
Congratulations to the Unifor’s Canadian Council on easily passing a pro-Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) motion at their recent convention in Winnipeg, between August 18-20.
Submitted by Unifor Local 222 (Oshawa), Unifor Resolution No. 5 is titled “Palestinian Self-Determination and the Movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions,” and reads in part:
“… BE IT RESOLVED that Unifor supports the use of divestment, boycott and sanctions (“BDS”) that are targeted to those sectors of Israel’s economy and society which profit from the ongoing occupation of the OPT; and […] BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Unifor will support such a form of BDS until such time as Israel implements a permanent ban on further settlement construction in the OPT, and enters into good faith negotiations with representatives of the Palestinian people for the purpose of establishing a viable, contiguous and truly sovereign Palestinian state ; and THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that Unifor opposes all efforts to prohibit, punish or otherwise deter expressions of support for BDS.”
During the summer 2014 bombing of civilians in Gaza, the Palestinian trade union movement, with support from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and its affiliates, unanimously called on international trade unions to take immediate action to stop the Israeli massacre in Gaza and hold Israel to account for its crimes against the Palestinian people.
They wrote: “… civil society solidarity is the only force that can help stop the ongoing slaughter of our people and send them a message that they are not alone, exactly as effective international solidarity had done in supporting the struggle for freedom in apartheid South Africa […] In the face of this international inaction, we, the Palestinian trade unions, call on trade unions around the world to take urgent measures, and in particular to intensify Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, until it complies with international law.”
The entire resolution as passed can be downloaded here:
One hundred national and local civil and human rights organizations endorsed a joint statement to members of Congress expressing strong opposition to the Israel Anti-Boycott Act and calling on lawmakers to reject – rather than amend – the bill.
The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, introduced in the U.S. Congress in March 2017, amends anti-boycott provisions of the federal Export Administration Act (EAA), enacted in 1979. Those provisions prohibit specific actions taken to comply with or support a boycott of Israel “fostered or imposed” by a foreign country. The sponsors of the new Act propose to add new restrictions on boycotts “fostered or imposed” by an international governmental organization (IGO), such as the European Union or the United Nations. Violations are punishable by exorbitant fines and up to 20 years in prison.
Due to widespread outrage over the bill, its chief Senate sponsor, Maryland Senator Benjamin Cardin, has stated that he is open to amending the bill to remove criminal penalties. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand withdrew sponsorship from the bill in early August, saying that she could not support it “in its current form.” But amending the bill does not resolve its underlying problems, including the chilling effect it will have on constitutionally-protected speech.
Note: We will continue to update the statement with new endorsements. If your organization would like to endorse the statement, please fill out this form.
Oppose the Israel Anti-Boycott Act
We are a diverse group of civil and human rights organizations writing to express our strong opposition to the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720 and H.R. 1697) (Act). We call on you to publicly oppose this unconstitutional, draconian bill and to affirm the First Amendment right of all people in the United States to support political boycotts as a means to achieve justice and equality for Palestinians.
The Act amends anti-boycott provisions of the federal Export Administration Act (EAA), enacted in 1979.1 Those provisions prohibit specific actions taken to comply with or support a boycott of Israel “fostered or imposed” by a foreign country. The sponsors of the new Act propose to add new restrictions on boycotts “fostered or imposed” by an international governmental organization (IGO), such as the European Union or the United Nations. Violations are punishable by exorbitant fines and up to 20 years in prison.
This amendment would seriously threaten fundamental First Amendment freedoms and discourage U.S. individuals, businesses, nonprofits or others from supporting boycotts for Palestinian rights. Even if the bill were amended to remove penalties, its passage would still send a message that political boycotts for Palestinian rights are disfavored by the government, causing a severe chilling effect on constitutionally protected speech.
The Act would chill protected speech despite the fact that under its terms, it should not reach the vast majority of boycott activities related to Israeli government policies. Most boycotts for Palestinian rights are not conducted in response to a call for boycott from a foreign country or IGO, but are acts of conscience seeking justice and equality for Palestinians and Israel’s compliance with international law. Indeed, people across the United States are increasingly using strategies involving boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to pressure Israel to respect Palestinian rights.
The United States has a long and rich history of boycotts being used to take collective action to advance social justice and secure civil and human rights. Boycotts helped end racial segregation in the United States and apartheid in South Africa. More recently, boycotts helped end a regressive North Carolina law targeting transgender people, and boycott and divestment campaigns have been organized to end university investments in the private prison and fossil fuel industries.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that peaceful political boycotts are protected by the First Amendment.2 The government may not enact laws that would punish those who support political boycotts or compromise the right to support political boycotts.
The Act’s chief Senate sponsor, Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, has written that the Act does not target political boycotts.3 Instead, he claims, it merely expands preexisting law to prohibit U.S. businesses from complying with boycott requirements imposed by IGOs. In other words, he argues that the bill does not prohibit political speech but targets “commercial conduct,” which is afforded a lower level of constitutional protection.4
Senator Cardin’s interpretation fails to consider the following:
· Political speech activities would be directly prohibited by the Act.
The Israel Anti-Boycott Act would directly prohibit political speech activities, in violation of the First Amendment. Consider the situation of a human rights organization that distributes research on companies operating in illegal West Bank settlements. This organization could be in violation of the Act if the organization’s intent is to support a call by an IGO to boycott settlements.
· The Act would empower overzealous presidential administrations to target supporters of political boycotts.
We have no doubt that the Act would be used as a pretext for overzealous presidential administrations, lobbied by Israel advocacy groups (including those that support this bill), to investigate and even punish supporters of Palestinian rights, whether or not they actually support a call for boycotts by an IGO, which they must do to trigger the Act. Arab and Muslim communities will likely face the brunt of this potential for overbroad enforcement.
From 2014 through 2016, Palestine Legal responded to 650 incidents of suppression nationwide targeting speech supportive of Palestinian rights, an additional 200 requests for legal assistance in anticipation of such incidents, and dozens of efforts to enact federal, state and local laws aimed at punishing BDS activism and chilling speech supportive of Palestinian rights.5 Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights documented this pattern of suppression of Palestinian rights advocacy in a 2015 report, The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the U.S.6
As such, our belief that the Act, if enacted, would be enforced in this way is based on a well-researched pattern of suppression of First Amendment-protected speech and actions in support of Palestinian rights involving heightened government surveillance, investigations and prosecutions of individuals due to their support for Palestinian freedom, as well as private harassment and targeting, including by organizations that support the Act.
· The Act will have the effect of chilling First Amendment-protected political speech.
Despite Senator Cardin’s efforts to insist the Israel Anti-Boycott Act doesn’t target political conduct, the leading lobby group for U.S. support of Israel, America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), itself frames it as a measure to “Combat the BDS Movement.”7 In the past two years, 21 states have enacted laws aimed at punishing participation in political boycotts for Palestinian rights.8 Together with these state laws, the Act will create a severe chilling effect on people across the country who are otherwise inclined to support First Amendment-protected boycotts for Palestinian rights, or who are merely curious to learn more. The wave of anti-BDS legislation, promoted by Israel advocacy groups to undermine the movement for Palestinian rights in the United States aims to send a clear signal that support for Palestinian rights is disfavored by our government and is potentially punishable.
Statements by state officials and Israel advocates illustrate their intent to thwart grassroots boycott campaigns. For example, when a state senator in Washington introduced an anti-BDS bill, he said, “If students want to protest on campus and do what students do, that’s just fine. But we’ll settle the question for them, the adults in [the] legislature.”9 The leader of one Israel advocacy group boasted, “[w]hile you were doing your campus antics, the grown-ups were in the state legislature passing laws that make your cause improbable.”10
Amending the Act to reduce the associated penalties or otherwise will not solve the underlying problems listed above, which illustrate how it is unconstitutional. We call on members of Congress who currently support the Act to withdraw their sponsorship. And we call on all members of Congress to publicly oppose the Israel Anti-Boycott Act and to affirm the First Amendment right to support political boycotts – including those aimed at achieving justice and equality for Palestinians.
Signatories (listed alphabetically)
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
American Friends Service Committee
American Muslims for Palestine
Al-Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
Center for Constitutional Rights
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Defending Rights and Dissent
Friends of Sabeel – North America
Jewish Voice for Peace
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
Labor for Palestine
National Lawyers Guild and the National Lawyers Guild Palestine Sub-Committee
Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East
United Church of Christ
United Methodists for Kairos Response
U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights
U.S. Palestinian Community Network
War Resisters League
This statement has been endorsed by the following organizations, listed by state (updated August 31, 2017):
Birmingham Peace Project
Arizona Progressive Coalition – AZPC Inc.
14 Friends of Palestine
Arab American Civic Council
Buena Vista United Methodist Church
Chico Palestine Action Group
Culture and Conflict Forum
Democrats for Palestinian Equal Rights
Friends of Sabeel, Sacramento Region
International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity
Israel Palestine Task Force of the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
Jewish Voice for Peace, Bay Area Chapter
Jewish Voice for Peace, Los Angeles Chapter
Jewish Voice for Peace, Sacramento Chapter
Jewish Voice for Peace, San Diego Chapter
Northern California International Solidarity Movement
QUIT: Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism
Sacramento Area Peace Action
Sacramento Regional Coalition for Palestinian Rights
Students for Justice in Palestine at California State University, Fullerton
United Methodists’ Holy Land Taskforce
Wellstone Progressive Democrats of Sacramento
Connecticut Peace and Solidarity Coalition
Greater New Haven Peace Council
Ironworkers Local 15
Jewish Voice for Peace, New Haven Chapter
Promoting Enduring Peace
Tree of Life Educational Fund
We Refuse to be Enemies
District of Columbia
U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations
Jewish Voice for Peace, South Florida Chapter
National Lawyers Guild, South Florida Chapter
Arab Jewish Partnership for Peace and Justice in the Middle East
Chicago Faith Coalition on Middle East Policy
Committee for Just Peace in Israel-Palestine
Jewish Voice for Peace, Chicago Chapter
National Lawyers Guild, Chicago Chapter
Students for Justice in Palestine at UIUC
Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
Baltimore Palestine Solidarity
Committee for Palestinian Rights
Friends of Sabeel DC Metro Area
Adalah Justice Project
Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine
Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights
Common Ground for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land, Inc.
Jewish Voice for Peace, Boston Chapter
Massachusetts Peace Action
Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment
Mid-Missourians for Justice in Palestine
Adalah-NY: Campaign for the Boycott of Israel
Black Movement-Law Project
Brooklyn for Peace
Columbia/Barnard Jewish Voice for Peace
Columbia University Apartheid Divest
Columbia University Students for Justice in Palestine
Community of Living Traditions at Stony Point Center
Concerned Families of Westchester
Jewish Voice for Peace, Westchester Chapter
Jews Say No!
The Majlis Ash Shura (Islamic Leadership Council) of New York
Muslim Peace Fellowship
Palestine Solidarity Alliance of Hunter College
Peace Action New York State
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
Syracuse Peace Council
USA-Palestine Mental Health Network
Westchester Coalition against Islamophobia
Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights
Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land
Bryn Mawr Peace Coalition
Green Mountain Solidarity with Palestine
Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace
Virginia Coalition for Human Rights
Vancouver for Peace
1 ↩ The EAA expired in 2001. 50 U.S.C. §4622 (1977). It has been purportedly continued by executive order.
2 ↩NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co., 458 U.S. 886 (1982).
4 ↩ Although one provision of the EAA was upheld on commercial speech grounds, the law was never challenged for its restrictions on political speech. Briggs & Stratton Corp. v. Baldridge, 728 F. 2d 915 (7th Cir. 1984). As described in this document, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act would significantly increase the law’s infringement on political speech.