IN PHOTOS ~~ ANTI BDS BILL MEETS RESISTANCE FROM NEW YORKERS

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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First read this related article from Mondoweiss (Click on link)

NYC city council anti-BDS bill meets resistance from protesters

Additional notes by Chippy Dee

When about 100 supporters of Palestinian human rights gathered in a hearing room at City Hall to voice their objections to an anti-1st amendment free speech resolution which opposes BDS, they didn’t expect a free inquiry into what BDS was or why this form of non-violent protest was a historically time honored form of protesting injustice going back, in American history, to the Boston Tea Party.  But neither did they expect abject rudeness, a total lack of professionalism, and blatant hostility from a body of lawmakers purporting to represent all  New Yorkers, not just Zionist supporters of current Israeli policy.

When they entered the chamber they saw that the 2 front rows were set aside for people testifying for the motion. None for those against it.  The committee chair, Helen Rosenthal, announced that 2 hours had been set aside for the hearing (that was later extended), that there would be a rotation of the speakers representing each side, and that nobody should make a sound, no applause, no laughter, no booing – only hand motions were acceptable.  The 1st speaker was Rep. Charles Barron, a member of the NYS legislature who had been  on the NYC Council in the past.  He was to make a statement of his own and also read a statement on behalf of his wife who currently serves on the NYC Council.  Barron is a long time supporter of Palestinian human rights having led one of the earliest attempts to break the Gaza blockade.  Before long he was interrupted by Rosenthal addressing him as “brother” and telling him to make his remarks more brief.  He responded asking her not to call him brother and that he would take the time he needed.  He also said that no person of color should support the motion. As he spoke 2 council members on the panel appeared to be paying no attention while doing something with their phones (texting?).

The next speaker supported the motion.  He essentially said the same thing all the other proponents said at great length – mostly an often repeated pack of lies.  That BDS supporters want to destroy the Jewish state because they are antisemites,  it is all just an effort to delegitimize Israel, and that BDS supporters intimidate students on campuses all over the country.  They gave no example of any student being threatened either verbally or physically by any BDS supporter.  This writer thinks that if Zionist students are feeling threatened it is because they are not comfortable with hearing about the outrages that Israelis are visiting upon Palestinians and prefer to bury their heads in the sand.

People against the measure tried to explain what BDS stood for, its’ place in history (the Montgomery bus boycott, Indian independence, the anti-apartheid struggle in So. Africa), its’ international support,  it’s  support among Jews and the constitutional free-speech issues.  Each time after a supporter of the motion spoke the panel questioned them, giving them more time to speak on their position.  This was not done when opponents spoke.  If anything, they were challenged and asked if they supported a one state or 2 state solution in Palestine/Israel.  They answered that BDS did not take a position on this issue.  Some council members pressed, insisting on hearing the speakers personal opinion on the issue.  In general the questioning was rude, insulting (calling people anti-semites) and saying that what they were saying was untrue (i.e., calling them liars)

Meanwhile, it was abundantly clear that this was a charade.  Members of the audience, all supporters of Palestinian human rights, began, one by one, to object to the hearing, to shout “Free Palestine”, some waved Palestinian flags.  One person stormed out saying that she felt like she was sitting at a council meeting in Israel. Rosenthal had them ejected by the security  guards and then demanded that the entire balcony be ejected although most of them were sitting quietly.  Many of those ejected were scheduled to speak against the motion but she would not allow them to return.  A member of the city council who was not involved in the hearing saw what was happening and he arranged for security to let the speakers back into the hearing room.  Among the last few opponents to speak were 2 citizens of Israel.  One spoke of his time in the IDF, where soldiers had contests on how many ‘Arabs’ they could kill (Israel never speaks of Palestinians, they refuse to recognize their existence) and the other described, in detail, the many acts of racism she witnessed in her years there.  When she concluded Rosenthal said that she knows she should thank her for her testimony “but I won’t”.

When it was over many discussed whether anything was accomplished.  Most thought it was important to be there because the group made it clear that opposition exists, that it will continue to fight for Palestinian human rights using BDS, and that the opposition will come from many communities, including Black, Muslim, and Jewish.

3 Comments

  1. September 11, 2016 at 13:13

    Reblogged this on nasreenebrahim.

  2. CAS said,

    September 12, 2016 at 02:45

    The poster of this article should include what BDS actually stands for. I had to look it up – Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions. Please don’t assume that everyone knows what it means. All you need to do is go and look at what Mark Dice (on youtube) does in California to see how uninformed/stupid people in America are. I live in Canada by the way. Very poor form to write stuff and only use an acronym without giving an explanation of what it means (if even in brackets). Maybe you should do what Mark sometimes does… go and survey people on what BDS means.

  3. September 13, 2016 at 02:31

    […] DESERTPEACE: IN PHOTOS ~~ ANTI BDS BILL MEETS RESISTANCE FROM NEW YORKERS […]


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