WHY ALL THE FUSS ABOUT BDS?

Boycotts are certainly not a new tool used to fight injustices or to show solidarity with a given Movement ….

My son was almost ten years old when he tasted his first grape …. here’s why;

We supported the strikers of Southern California, led by Cesar Chavez, when the grape workers called for a boycott …

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In September 1965, a collaboration of Filipino and Latino farm workers against the deleterious policies of Californian grape growers initiated one of the organization’s largest boycotts. Protest support reached unprecedented heights as laborers received aid across the country. Commercial establishments, including the Trans-World Airlines, withheld the sale of “California’s poison grapes,” raising worldwide attention to the urgency of farm labor rights. (FROM)

We boycotted grapes and other products imported from Chile during the years of the fascist coup in that country, a coup established and protected by the US Government.

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We boycotted all fruit imported from Israel because of the occupation, also supported by the US Government.

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And, last but not least, we boycotted all goods imported from the apartheid regime in South Africa.

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In most of the above, our International efforts helped Justice finally prevail. All except the boycott of Israeli goods. But finally this Movement is taking on great proportions. So great are they that the greatest supporter of Human Rights violations in Israel and Palestine, again the US Government, is doing everything in its power to crush BDS.

As much as they would like to, the US cannot stop the clocks of progress. BDS WILL WIN and the occupation will end! Nothing and no one can stop that!!

But why all the fuss about this particular boycott?

Israel, as well, has new legislation in an attempt to stop the growth of the Movement.

They as well cannot stop the clocks of progress.

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And in Israel itself …

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IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORK SOLIDARITY WITH YARMOUK REFUGEE CAMP

March from Bryant Park to United Nations Headquarters

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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See THIS recent post  (Click on link)

WORLD TURNS A BLIND EYE TO ISIS’ MASSACRE OF PALESTINIANS

IN PHOTOS ~~ PALESTINE IS A ‘SELL OUT’ IN BROOKLYN

We are happy to report that yesterday was a very positive day in front of the Park Slope Food Coop, as we spent a second day offering members a taste of Palestinian olive oil and za’atar on both matzoh and pita bread. By the end of the day the Coop sold out of the Palestinian olive oil and more will have to be ordered. We will continue to put Palestinian olive oil on the table and invite people to join us in an appreciation of Palestine and it’s right to liberation.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary From We Will Not Be Silent

In the days leading up to Passover, Park Slope Food Coop members  gather outside the coop to offer free samples of the Palestinian olive oil sold inside, on matzoh and pita bread. We have handed out
Four Questions” to add to the traditional Seder questions, and encouraged shoppers to liberate the Passover story of liberation and talk about the Occupation. 

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    Click here to view more photos from this action. 

Click on link below to see our Holiday Post

DON’T PASSOVER PALESTINE THIS HOLIDAY

IN PHOTOS ~~ 5K GAZA RUN

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On Saturday morning, March 28th, the sky over Prospect Park in Brooklyn was leaden, the temperature was more appropriate to January than March, and it seemed to get worse as the hours passed.  However, that did not stop a spirited group of about 600 participants which included every race, ethnicity, and age from gathering to run, or walk, a 5K loop in the park. The event was organized by UNRWA USA in order to raise money to provide mental health services for the traumatized children of Gaza.  Buoyed only by the comradery and love for the children of Gaza, the runners took off at about 9:30 AM with the swifter among them crossing the finish line fairly shortly thereafter.  The walkers returned much later. 

The original goal was for the Brooklyn runners to raise about $50,000 but the amount collected far exceeded that.  $103,000 was raised and money is still coming in showing great support for this cause.  Races like this one have been organized by UNRWA USA in cities throughout the country.  

There was much elation among the participants because the event was so successful and because everyone felt good about being able to do something to help.  But at the same time it is very disturbing to recognize that with all the wealth in the world a UN agency has to create the equivalent of a school ‘bake sale’ to raise money to attempt to heal some of the scars that Israel inflicted on the children of Gaza last summer, destroying their bodies and their homes and murdering their families.  Also, nothing is getting better.  According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in 2014 more civilians were murdered on the West Bank and in Gaza then at any time since 1967. 

So, while the UNRWA  USA events are very important and should continue because they raise money and help galvanize the many people in the Palestine justice community we all have to do more.  For now, Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) remains our most potent tool.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary by Chippy Dee

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Some of the 'older' folks called this event the 5K 'Schlep'

Some of the ‘older’ folks called this event the 5K ‘Shlep’ :)

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THE JEWISH VOICE FOR PEACE IS BEING HEARD LOUD AND CLEAR

Group Now Has More Facebook Followers Than AIPAC and J Street

JVP’s full embrace of BDS includes endorsing a right of return for Arabs and for descendants of Arabs who fled or who were expelled by Israel’s army in the 1948 war that established the state. That population, most of whom remain stateless refugees, now numbers more than 5.2 million. Israel and its supporters, including even dovish Zionist parties such as Meretz, argue that full implementation of the United Nations resolution calling for their return would render Jews a minority in their own state. It would mean, they say, the end of Zionism.

COURTESY OF REBECCA VILKOMERSON

COURTESY OF REBECCA VILKOMERSON

Embracing Israel Boycott, Jewish Voice For Peace Insists on Its Jewish Identity

By Evan Serpick

At the opening plenary of Jewish Voice for Peace’s recent national conference, Rabbi Alissa Wise, JVP’s co-director of organizing, asked the crowd of some 600 how many were attending their first such gathering; about three-quarters of the room shot up their hands.

For the group whose advocacy of boycotting, sanctioning and divesting from Israel makes it a pariah in most of the rest of the Jewish community, these have been boom times. And for many of its members, the reason appears to be a continuing desire to assert their opposition to Israel’s fundamental policies in a Jewish context rather than abandon their Jewish identity altogether.

One of those raising his hand was Noah Knowlton-Latkin of California’s Claremont Colleges. Like many of those in attendance, Knowlton-Latkin, a sophomore, was involved earlier in Students for Justice in Palestine, a campus group devoted to organizing students to oppose Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and siege of Gaza. The group also pushes college administrations to cut their economic and academic ties to Israel.

But last summer, Knowlton-Latkin reached out to JVP to express his concerns in a Jewish context. “It was great to find out that this existed,” said Knowlton-Latkin, who came to the conference with two other Jewish Claremont students, both members of SJP.

JVP’s recent conference, which took place in Baltimore from March 13 to 15, was notable for several new developments. Two weeks earlier, after a lengthy process that included study committees and membership surveys, JVP’s board of directors voted to fully support the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel, or BDS, as it is popularly known. JVP’s call for a full economic boycott of Israel comes after years of supporting a more limited boycott of only companies that operated in the occupied territories.

JVP’s full embrace of BDS includes endorsing a right of return for Arabs and for descendants of Arabs who fled or who were expelled by Israel’s army in the 1948 war that established the state. That population, most of whom remain stateless refugees, now numbers more than 5.2 million. Israel and its supporters, including even dovish Zionist parties such as Meretz, argue that full implementation of the United Nations resolution calling for their return would render Jews a minority in their own state. It would mean, they say, the end of Zionism.

But JVP’s president, Rebecca Vilkomerson, told the Forward: “For there to be a sustainable and just peace, that is one of the issues that we have to grapple with. We believe that there can be a homeland for Jewish people that is not based on the systematic denial of rights of Palestinians.”

JVP does not offer details on how that could be if such a return indeed took place.

Most striking at this conference was the way Israel’s hard-right turns, and particularly last year’s war in Gaza, have fueled JVP’s growth among a cohort of mostly young people who find the response of other Jewish groups, including the dovish group J Street, simply inadequate. JVP’s leaders anticipate that this trend will only quicken following the recent election victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They point to his election eve disavowal of a two-state solution and his election day warning about Arabs voting, plus the prospect that he will soon lead an even more right-wing government.

There are now 65 JVP chapters, up from 40 a year ago. Vilkomerson says JVP now has 9,000 dues-paying members, compared with 600 when the Forward last profiled the group in 2011. In the tax year that ended in June 2013, JVP had $1.1 million in donations. Vilkomerson said she expects this year’s total to top $2 million, almost all of it from individuals. The group has more than 204,000 Facebook followers, more than twice as many as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and about eight times as many as J Street.

For all their alienation from the mainstream community, JVP members seem to share an urgent need to voice their angst in a Jewish context, and to project it outward to the world, also citing their status as Jews. Critics condemn this as mere exploitation of their Jewishness in order to gain a hearing the group would otherwise be denied.

But many JVP members do come from backgrounds of serious Jewish engagement. The conference itself opened on a Friday night, with the group celebrating Kabbalat Shabbat, and included a memorial service for those killed in the war in Gaza, during which members chanted the Mourner’s Kaddish and the prayer for the dead, El Maleh Rachamim. JVP says the group offers the members a place to be their “whole selves.”

“21yrs in many jewish spaces & I’ve never felt so at home,” one participant, Talia Bauer, wrote on the group’s Facebook page after the conference.

Another participant wrote, “For three days, I was immersed in a Jewish community unlike I have ever been a part of, one rooted in justice that welcomed all of me.” She wrote anonymously, she said, to avoid her family learning of her involvement with JVP.

In Vilkomerson’s view, “the mainstream Jewish community should be thanking us. We are bringing many people back into a Jewish community. There’s so much angst in the Jewish community about the loss of community, and losing the young people, and what is going to happen, and the apathy. Nobody here is apathetic; nobody here is unconnected. To the contrary.”

Some in the mainstream grant them this point. “Any sort of Jewish engagement by young people is a positive thing,” said Steven M. Cohen, a professor at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion who studies the American Jewish community. He said that JVP, along with anti-democratic far-right groups and “any group that represents lots of Jews,” should be invited to be members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and similar mainstream organizations. “JVP doesn’t show concern for the security of the State of Israel and doesn’t care if there is a Jewish State of Israel or not,” he added. Nevertheless, he said, “We should not exclude JVP from conversations — we should engage them.”

That view is unthinkable to many Jewish community standard-bearers.

“The positions and actions taken by Jewish Voice for Peace are anathema to mainstream Jewish organizations,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, in a statement to the Forward. “The group’s activities, which include partnerships with anti-Israel organizations that deny Israel’s fundamental right to exist, put them at the farthest fringe of the Jewish community and would certainly preclude their participation among mainstream organizations.”

JVP, he said, “uses its Jewish identity to provide the anti-Israel movement with a veneer of legitimacy and to shield the movement’s most demagogic supporters from allegations of anti-Semitism.”

For many, the decision to join JVP was a painful, personal one, reflecting a lost faith in the State of Israel. Rabbi Brant Rosen, a co-chair of JVP’s rabbinical council, who served as a congregational rabbi in suburban Chicago for 17 years, joined in 2009, after Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, its military campaign into Gaza, with numerous reports — contested by Israel — of high civilian deaths rates.

Michael Davis, a congregational cantor in the Reform movement and a member of JVP’s rabbinical council, grew up Orthodox in Israel. He said that his own worldview changed after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin at a fateful Tel Aviv peace rally in November 1995. “That was the end of the dream for me,” he told the Forward.

For Vilkomerson, it was the second intifada, starting in 2000. “There are these moments of cracking open, where people sort of make the leap,” she said.

Rosen added, “Historically, that’s how JVP has grown, unfortunately, tragically.”

Speaking after the Israeli election, Vilkomerson says she now expects another wave of people to come into the JVP fold. “Given that the American Jewish community is generally interested in peace and democratic values, we expect a lot of self-reflection about how to support a true peace in the days to come,” she said.

IN PHOTOS ~~ JEWS IN SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINIAN RIGHT OF RETURN

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

THE POSTERS

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VIEW OF THE AUDIENCE

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IN PHOTOS ~~ ISRAELI ARMY IS NOT OUR FRIEND

'Rabbi' Shmuley Boteach also made an appearance, later tweeting a photo of himself smiling in front of ‘Boycott Israeli Apartheid’ signs.

‘Rabbi’ Shmuley Boteach also made an appearance, later tweeting a photo of himself smiling in front of ‘Boycott Israeli Apartheid’ signs.

From Twitter ~~ The smiling idiot

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New Yorkers Turn out in the Rain to Protest Fundraiser for the Israeli Army

Sixty New Yorkers weathered Tuesday evening’s downpour to protest the gala fundraiser organized and hosted by US nonprofit Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) at the Waldorf Astoria. Demonstrators demanded that FIDF be stripped of its current tax-exempt status, which allows it to raise funds used to subsidize the Israeli military at the American taxpayers’ expense. Last year, the FIDF’s tax-exempt fundraising was subsidized by taxpayers to the tune of at least $20 million. Signs and pamphlets at the demonstration reminded attendees and passersby that these tax-exempt millions are not supporting a humanitarian cause, but a military force with a known record of egregious human rights abuses.

Attendees in formal wear and evening gowns appeared disturbed by the chants, signs, and marching protesters, sometimes responding with taunts and curses.  As they marched, protesters read out loud the names and ages of Palestinians killed in Israel’s brutal military assault on Gaza this summer. One dinner attendee responded to the reading of the name of a Palestinian casualty with, “Thank God he’s dead!”

 Rabbi Shmuley Boteach also made an appearance, later tweeting a photo of himself smiling in front of ‘Boycott Israeli Apartheid’ signs. Boteach, who often has vitriolic commentary for anyone criticizing Israel’s human rights record, has recently come under fire for an ad in the New York Times where he accused United States National Security Adviser Susan Rice of turning a blind eye to genocide.

Riham Barghouti of Adalah-NY thanked demonstrators at the end for braving the rain to show that organizations like the Friends of the IDF “are not welcome in New York.”

The FIDF relieves the Israeli military of infrastructure, family support, and morale building expenses by raising funds that provide for soldiers’ medical care, financially support soldiers, and cover infrastructure costs such as housing for soldiers, training facilities, and recreational facilities. During  Israel’s most recent large-scale assault on Gaza during the summer of 2014, dubbed Operation Protective Edge by the Israeli army, Israel’s military managed to drop an atomic bomb’s equivalent in explosives on Gaza, killing 2,257 people and injuring thousands more. The operation also led to the destruction of countless homes, schools, mosques, and United Nations shelters. TheGolani and Givati Brigades, for which FIDF regularly raises funds and which stand to benefit from the FIDF gala, were both involved in the 2014 assault. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others have said the Israeli military committed war crimes in Gaza. FIDF’s direct support of those brigades exemplifies the organization’s complicity in the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people.

Organized by Adalah-NY and endorsed by a dozen NYC human rights groups, the action took place during Israeli Apartheid Week, an annual, international series of events designed to build awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies against Palestinians and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Other New York events include panels, speakers, cultural performances, discussions, and film screenings hosted by organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace and the Students for Justice in Palestine chapters at city universities.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary From Adalha NY

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More photos HERE

IN PHOTOS ~~ NEW YORKERS MARCH FOR PEACE WITH IRAN

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On March 3rd, the day of Netanyahu’s anti-Iran speech to the U.S. Congress, a group of activists gathered at Times Sq. to protest his war oriented speech. They stood in the Square with black and white signs which have become the icon of New York City protestors, and proclaimed loudly “No war on Iran: negotiate”.  From Times Sq. they  marched through Manhattan streets, through Grand Central Station, to the Israeli Consulate chanting  for a diplomatic solution.

When the marchers arrived at the Consulate the police tried to persuade them to demonstrate across the street.

The marchers refused to cross and proclaimed their legal- constitutional right to demonstrate peacefully at the Consulate. Meanwhile, across the street, another group, “Israelis  for a Sustainable Peace”, was also protesting Netanyahu’s polices.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary by Chippy Dee

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The other Demo

ISRAELIS FOR A SUSTAINABLE PEACE

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IN PHOTOS ~~ NETANYAHU’S WELCOME IN NEW YORK (NOT)

The Emporer's Nuke Clothes Image by Katie Miranda

The Emperor’s Nuke Clothes
Image by Katie Miranda

In a blinding snow fall, March 1st, scores of people gathered to protest the forthcoming speech on March 3rd of Benjamin Netanyahu to the U.S. Congress.

Speakers protested the occupation and settlement of Palestinian land and  the murderous deaths of thousands of Palestinians at the bloodied hands of the Zionists with the aid of American tax dollars. They noted the unity of the Congressnal extreme right  and  the Zionist policy of  pushing the U.S. into war with Iran. The speakers said that Netanyahu does not speak for all American Jews as he pretends.  The message to Netanyahu was ‘GET OUT OF THIS COUNTRY’

The snow might have been blinding but it did not stop us from seeing the truth!

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Commentary by Chippy Dee

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BANKSY IN GAZA GOING VIRAL ON THE NET

The video below has had nearly a million views since it was posted last night ….

Banksy goes to Gaza

News travels fast. Yesterday, Banksy published video and photos from a recent trip to Gaza on their Instagram account and set the internet ablaze. The New York Times published a statement from the artist: “I don’t want to take sides. But when you see entire suburban neighborhoods reduced to rubble with no hope of a future — what you’re really looking at is a vast outdoor recruitment center for terrorists. And we should probably address this for all our sakes.”

Image: Banksy

Image: Banksy

And look, a Banksy promotional travel video-documentary “Make this the year YOU discover a new destination” where he rappels threw the tunnel and burst out on the other side — in Gaza –“Well away from the tourist track”:

We love Banksy — who doesn’t?

Banksy writes, “A local man came up and said ‘Please – what does this mean?’ I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website – but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens”:

Banksy in Gaza

Banksy in Gaza

Banksy also explains, “Gaza is often described as ‘the world’s largest open air prison’ because no-one is allowed to enter or leave. But that seems a bit unfair to prisons – they don’t have their electricity and drinking water cut off randomly almost every day.”:

Banksy in Gaza

Banksy in Gaza

 

BANKSY ‘SNEAKS’ INTO GAZA TO MAKE A VIDEO

The anonymous but eminent British street artist known as Banksy has again taken aim at Israeli policies regarding the Palestinians, sneaking into the Gaza Strip and filming the devastation there in the wake of last summer’s IDF Operation Protective Edge, which ended six months ago.

 

Full report HERE

IN PHOTOS ~~ GRANNY PEACE BRIGADE Vs NYC COUNCIL

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On Abraham Lincoln’s birthday-2/12/15, a cold snow shower day,  the NYC Grannies Peace Brigade demonstrated in front of NYC Hall protesting 15 members of the City Council, going to Israel in February, on an all -expenses paid junket sponsored by Zionist groups. Banners were displayed and leaflets distributed  to passerby’s explaining the protest.

Photos and commentary © by Bud Korotzer

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#NoToVisitingApartheid ~~ IN PHOTOS

 

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A coalition of more than 40 New York City community groups held a press conference outside City Hall on Monday calling for the City Council to cancel a planned delegation to Israel. A diverse group of speakers addressed the city’s progressive politicians, asking how they could reconcile their opposition to racism and state violence at home with support for Israel’s policies against the Palestinians.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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And the Report FROM

Coalition of more than 40 NYC community groups calls on City Council to cancel delegation to Israel

Eamon Murphy

A coalition of more than 40 New York City community groups held a press conference outside City Hall on Monday calling for the City Council to cancel a planned delegation to Israel. A diverse group of speakers addressed the city’s progressive politicians, asking how they could reconcile their opposition to racism and state violence at home with support for Israel’s policies against the Palestinians.

Around 50 people gathered in the near-freezing rain for the event, which was introduced by Brandon Davis of Jewish Voice for Peace. Davis denounced the “flagrant disregard for justice” displayed by the delegation, “in our streets” as well as in Palestine. A recurring theme of the remarks that followed was the link between the current movement to end racist policing in U.S. cities and the struggle against Israel’s apartheid in Palestine. Connections were mentioned between the New York Police Department and the Israeli security establishment, including the opening of an NYPD branch in the Sharon District police headquarters at Kfar Saba.

Organizations that have joined the campaign include the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, the Direct Action Front for Palestine, and Jews Against Islamophobia. The Council’s nine-day trip, scheduled to begin on February 15, is sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of New York.

City Council members participating in the delegation to Israel are Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Mark Treyger, Brad Lander, Antonio Reynoso, David Greenfield, Rafael Espinal, Darlene Mealy, Mark Levine, Helen Rosenthal, Corey Johnson, Ritchie Torres, Andrew Cohen, Donovan Richards, Eric Ulrich, and James Van Bramer. The trip would be Mark-Viverito’s second such junket, the speaker having made a JCRC-funded visit to Israel in 2012. “New York City and Israel share many cultural, business, and educational ties and this trip with members of the Council will help strengthen them,” Mark-Viverito told The New York Daily News. “We’re looking forward to a productive and informative trip.”

Fatin Jarara of Al-Awda New York, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, speaks at the rally. (Photo: Eamon Murphy)

Speakers at the press conference wondered how informative such a visit could really be. Would the Council tour the West Bank separation barrier, asked criminal defense attorney Bina Ahmad, or Gaza’s ruined homes and schools? How could those who have taken a stance against domestic discrimination, she demanded to know, go on to contribute to normalizing systematic racism against an entire people — “gross hypocrisy,” in her words. Ahmad, who works with the Legal Aid Society in Staten Island and represented police chokehold victim Eric Garner, analogized Israel’s occupation of Palestine to the NYPD’s presence in communities of color.

Donna Nevel of Jews Against Islamophobia criticized Council members for publicly opposing anti-Muslim discrimination and then visiting Israel under the auspices of the JCRC, which fervently backed Police Comissioner Ray Kelly after the revelation of NYPD spying on Muslim communities. “It is clear that the JCRC has helped undermine the basic civil rights and liberties of our city’s Muslim residents,” according to a letter from the anti-Islamophobia coalition to the Council, “and we hope that you agree with us that it is a most inappropriate organization to lead such a trip.”

Other speakers emphasized the unprogressive nature of a trip that would entail crossing an international picket line. CUNY activist Conor Tomás Reed mentioned labor groups around the world that have heeded Palestinian civil society’s call for a boycott. An official visit to Israel, with its segregated workforce and wage discrimination along ethnoreligious lines, amounts to an anti-labor stand, he suggested.

Last to speak was David Galarza, a Puerto Rican activist who helped create the solidarity group Boricuas for Palestine during last summer’s assault on Gaza. Galarza warmed up the freezing crowd with a chant “to get the blood flowing” — Puerto Rico, Palestine, / occupation is a crime — before delivering a forceful challenge to Mark-Viverito, who before her speakership was a committed activist against the U.S. Navy’s bombing of Vieques: “What has changed?” Galarza likened the four boys killed on the beach in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge to the four girls who died in the bombing of a black church in Birmingham, Alabama; where, he wondered, was Charlie Hebdo-style solidarity in the case of the murdered Baker children? Photographs of the two bombings were held up as Galarza declared his identification with the eight victims, alternating Palestinian and African-American names.

The event concluded with Brandon Davis reading a statement from New York-based participants on a solidarity delegation in Palestine, organized by the national anti-racist organization Dream Defenders (full text at the end of this article). During the q-and-a, a man who identified himself as a freelance photojournalist asked Davis about Hamas’s killing of innocent Israelis, and Mahmoud Abbas’s declaration that no Jews will live in a future Palestinian state (not Abbas’s actual position). “Which is the real apartheid state?” the man demanded. After the event was over, he approached Galarza and declared that, as an experienced and well-sourced reporter who has worked in the Middle East, he knew the deaths of four boys on the beach in Gaza were staged.

The press conference began around noon and lasted until 12:30. As I left City Hall at 12:45, two dozen people were still standing and talking in the cold and the rain.

Statement from New York-based members of the Dream Defenders delegation:

For the last 10 days over a dozen artists, activists, educators, and organizers have been traveling across Palestine witnessing power, heartbreak, apartheid, occupation, state violence and grief. It is a binding grief, due to parallel experiences with state violence, that brought us to Palestine. It is also this binding grief that makes the New Yorkers on this historical delegation concerned about the nature, scope, and intent of some New York City Council member’s planned trip to Israel.

We stand in support of Palestine, in support of the international BDS movement, and against Zionist beliefs. We believe this City Council trip would be a dangerous symbolic gesture of normalizing Israeli’s apartheid state. We were able to witness this first hand at the check points in Ramallah, and in the settlements surrounding Bethlehem. It is not completely unfamiliar to us to live in a country where you can be profiled and denied humanity. We know Israeli training forces have a long mentoring relationship with NYPD, and if you stand with oppressed people and against police brutality here at home, you must stand with oppressed people and against state violence abroad.

Cherrell Brown
Carmen Perez
Aja Monet
Marc Lamont Hill

– See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/01/coalition-community-delegation#sthash.Rb7Anslv.dpuf

USA/PALESTINE ~~ STUDENT SOLIDARITY ON BOTH SIDES OF THE POND

If you're a victim of oppression, then you are Palestinian as well. 'Copyleft' by Carlos Latuff

If you’re a victim of oppression, then you are Palestinian as well.
‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

In America …. read THIS fantastic book review

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And in Palestine …

Birzeit students hold solidarity event with Black struggle in US

By Alex Shams

Nearly 100 students at Birzeit University in the central West Bank on Wednesday took part in a solidarity event with the African-American community in the United States in the wake of spiraling rates of deadly police violence there.

Entitled, “Similar Struggles: Racism in Palestine and Abroad,” the event was organized by the Right to Education Campaign at the university and featured lectures from professors as well as a number of students who recently returned from a tour of the United States where they visited Ferguson, Missouri — the site of months of protest against police violence — and met with community organizers across the nation.

Organizers said the activity was one of the “most successful” events organized by the campaign, highlighting how the topic spoke directly to the experiences of Palestinian students.

“Following the uprisings of Black communities across the US, a lot of us here in Palestine began to see the similarities between these communities’ oppression by the militarized state and our own oppression as Palestinians under Israeli colonialism,” organizer Deema al-Saafin told Ma’an in an emailed statement.

She said that the event was part of an effort to “create and sustain solidarity with other struggles,” adding: “We aimed to emphasize that change begins with liberating the mind first, and to build solidarity we need to actively resist derogatory terminology and stereotypes between each other and the way we address other people of color.”

She said the event featured three professors, Ahmad Abu Awad, Rana Barakat, and Hanada Kharama, who addressed racism as an ideology, the institutionalization of racism, and how racism becomes embedded in linguistics, respectively.

In addition, students who took part in the recent Right to Education tour shared their experiences meeting with activists from communities of color in the United States and “how deeply connected our struggles are against the same systems of oppression,” al-Saafin said.

Another organizer, Reema Asia, stressed that the event was important for educating students about struggles faced by their peers abroad: “Through the discussion that took place, the students at the university will have a better understanding of the situation of Black communities not just in America, but around the world. You simply cannot be an ally to a people without having an idea of what it is they are fighting against.”

Al-Saafin told Ma’an that the event was part of the larger effort of building solidarity through knowledge, and that the Right to Education campaign hoped it would help bolster their work to create linkages between the struggles faced by Palestinians and other marginalized communities around the world.

“We hope that this event and those in the future will emphasize the fact that as Palestinians and as students, we have to actively fight injustice everywhere … Our liberation is simply incomplete without the liberation of all oppressed peoples,” she said.

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It’s all ONE STRUGGLE!

Also by Latuff

Also by Latuff

RABBINICAL TAUNTING OF THE SEASON

Photo © by Bud Korotzer

Photo © by Bud Korotzer

The annual demonstration in front of Leviev’s Jewelry store quickly turned into a celebration when it was learned that the shop had locked it’s doors and emptied its showcases …. but this didn’t stop ‘Rabbi’ Shmuley Boteach from taunting the would be demonstrators … caught on video

Adalah NY issued the following statement about the video …

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach taunted a crowd of human rights protesters in front of the seemingly closed and emptied flagship Leviev diamond store on Madison Avenue. Leviev’s companies have built thousands of Israeli settlement homes and have been accused of abusing and torturing Angolan diamond miners.

Boteach stood in front of the empty Leviev store and began shouting. “Israel,” “Down with Hamas,” “Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East,” “Down with the Palestinians.” He suddenly stopped and complained that he was being videotaped. Police told Boteach to leave as he was drowned out by chants of, “How fancy, how pretty, Leviev out of New York City.” Boteach was accompanied by a young man wearing a scarf for the notoriously racist Beitar Jerusalem football team. Boteach has expressed his support for Hebron’s notoriously violent and racist settlers. 

Neighboring store owners told the protesters that the Leviev store had closed and the space had been sold, but it was impossible to confirm this. Human rights advocates have protested at Leviev’s store since 2007.

And here’s the ziolies he wrote on his Blog

The coming boycott of Jewish businesses

Shmuley Boteach

I saw a nasty thing walking with my children in New York City on the Sabbath. On Madison Ave in the mid-sixties, we saw a group of people, chanting, singing.

Was it Christmas carolers? As we got closer we saw it was a protest. An anti-Israel protest.

But this one was not outside an Israeli Consulate or Embassy. It was outside a commercial, retail store. A diamond store. Owned by Lev Leviev, the Israeli billionaire businessman and philanthropist.

“Glitz and glam. He steals Palestinian land.”

I was appalled. I got closer. The protesters were accusing Leviev, a private Jewish citizens, of stealing Palestinian land, persecuting Palestinians, and supporting an imperial Israel.

I asked the protesters who Leviev was and why they were protesting him. Was he Israel’s Prime Minister or Foreign Minister? At least the Ambassador. How else to explain why they would be protesting outside a business simply owned by a Jew.

They told me he was an Israeli who supported Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians. He was a known, high-profile Jewish businessman. They were there to make sure no one bought his products.

I had had enough. I raised my hands into the air, in the mist of the protest, and said loudly, “Long Live Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. The only country in that dark region that is a bastion of liberty and human rights. A place where Palestinian women need never fear honor killings. A place where Israeli Arabs have more guaranteed rights than any Arab nation. A place where gay Palestinians need not fear being shot in the head on false charges of collaboration. A place where Arabs can protest publicly, just like all of you, and not be shot. Long live righteous and majestic Israel.”

Instantly, all the protestors forgot about Leviev and turned their ire toward me. I was now the devil. They were shouting at me, abusing me. “F—ck off. Go F—ck yourself.”

I got louder.

“How revolting of all of you to protest a business because it’s owned by a Jew.” What is this? Nuremberg 1934? Absolutely reprehensible.

My kids were now engaged in the fight, singing “Am Yisrael Chai. The Jewish people are alive and well.” We were louder than the protestors.

I started saying “Down with Hamas which allows honor killings of innocent Palestinian women. Down with Hamas that slaughters innocent Palestinian gay men. Down with the Palestinian…. ” and I was about to say “… Authority for refusing to go to elections in 10 years and creating a dictatorship, robbing the Palestinian people of their freedom” when I saw that someone was filming me on the Sabbath.

The police came over, trying to quell the confrontation. They have a permit, he said. They have the right to protest.

God bless America. I respect their right for public demonstration. But I also respect my right to write this in a column.

Jews of the world. Wake up. There has never been an assault on us like this in our lifetimes. And we are allowing it. Through our timidity and through closing our eyes and pretending not to see, it’s growing. Our enemies are arraying against us. They have substituted anti-Semitism for Anti-Israelism. But it’s the same sentiment.

Jew-hatred, pure and simple.

This holiday season the world’s anti-Semites are giving thanks for the existence of the State of Israel. If not for Israel they would not have camouflage for their Jew-hatred. Israel has given them cover. It’s not the Jews we hate, but just the Jewish state. It’s not because we have an inherent dislike of Jews. We just hate occupation.

But then they call each other on their IPhones, even though they’re made in China which has been occupying Tibet since 1950.

But only a weak community would give these haters a fig leaf to cover over their clear bigotry, prejudice, and hatred.

My kids were flabbergasted that a private Jewish business could draw major accusations of Palestinian persecution. It suited the protesters well that it was a diamond dealer. Perfect stereotype.

But who would be next? Which Jewish business would they target next?

A few hours later we went to the Chabad public Menorah lighting outside the Plaza hotel on 5th Ave. There was a small protest against Israel there was well. Joining the protest was a 20-something man who told us all that the Jews owned all of 5th Avenue. He pointed across the street at the famous Apple 5th Avenue store. “Apple is owned by Jews.”

I looked at him.

“Um, erg, hmmm. Did you know that Steve Jobs was the son of an Arab-American? So how does that square with the Jews owning Apple?”

“Well the Jews bought it from Jobs with the endless money they have.”

Aha.

I thought to myself, Is there no respite from all this Jew-hatred? Can we not get away from them even at a Menorah lighting?

The other day Harvard University kicked out SodaStream from their cafeteria for the terrible sin of employing hundreds of Palestinians at a plant in Maale Adumim that treats Arabs as the absolute equals of their Israeli counterparts. Without SodaStream these Palestinian families would be destitute. But Palestinian activists at Harvard, animated by hatred of Israel over love for Palestinian lives, demanded a boycott and the caterer capitulated.

And so it goes. Jewish timidity in the United States is allowing more and more of these outrages to take place.

I wonder if we recognize the seriousness of what’s happening or will it engulf us before we take decisive action?

What is needed is an immediate move to organize Jewish students on campus to respond publicly to the anti-Israel onslaught at Universities. We need public demonstrations against Israel-hatred, anti-Semitism, and in favor of freedom and democracy in the Middle East. Jewish students should not just be fighting BDS but should be going on offense to push through resolutions in the City Councils sanctioning Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for not holding elections in a decade and transforming Palestinian society into dictatorships.

Organizations who dare hold ordinary Jews responsible for actions in the Middle East – which would be the equivalent of protesting an Arab-owned department store in Detroit for the butchery of Bashar Assad in Syria – should themselves be targeted for public demonstrations, calling them what they are: anti-Semites.

And let’s honor those brave individuals who have stood up to BDS.

Every June our organization hosts the International Champions of Jewish Values Gala Awards Dinner in New York. Last year the Hollywood celebrity we honored was Sean Penn for his unrivaled bravery in going to Bolivia and rescuing the life of a Jewish businessman who had been wrongly incarcerated.

The year before we honored my dear friend Dr. Mehmet Oz, a Muslim, for his tireless efforts to promote the value of human life by getting us all to live more healthy lives and for his continued friendship with the Jewish people. A few months after the award we hosted Mehmet and his family in Israel.

This year we intend to honor Scarlett Johannson for standing up to the pressure to abandon SodaStream, a company that is a model of Arab-Israeli brotherhood and fraternity.

Scarlett, if you’re out there, please come to New York and accept. The dinner is on 3 June, 2015.

As far as Leviev goes …. DesertPeace adds 

The bastard can run but he can’t hide! Wherever he is doing his dirty business we will find him!!

Photos from the protest © by Bud Korotzer

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IN PHOTOS ~~ SILENCING THE SONGS AND DANCE OF APARTHEID

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Anti-Apartheid Dance and Songs Meet Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company in Protest at Brooklyn Academy of Music

On busy Lafayette Avenue outside Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), 80 New Yorkers gathered last night to dance and sing in protest of Batsheva Dance Company’s performances in BAM’s 2014 Next Wave Festival (photos). Batsheva’s appearance is part of the “Brand Israel” initiativedesigned to distract from the facts of Israel’s ongoing occupation and colonization of Palestinian land, and its denial of rights to Palestinians the world over. The demonstration was organized by Adalah-NY and endorsed by 15 other local human rights organizations including the BDS Arts Coalition, Brooklyn For Peace, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and the Ya-Ya Network.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs touts Batsheva as “perhaps the best known global ambassador of Israeli culture.” Batsheva is funded in part by that government office as well as by the Ministry of Culture and Sports. While Batsheva artistic director Ohad Naharin has criticized Israeli abuses of Palestinians, Batsheva Dance Company continues in its role as a prominent cultural ambassador of the Israeli state.

The demonstration began with a dabke (traditional Palestinian dance) lesson led by Adalah-NY member Riham Barghouti, with musical accompaniment by the Rude Mechanical Orchestra followed by songs from Dave Lippman. Chants highlighted the disconnect between the Batsheva dancers’ virtuosity and their company’s political role, including, “Their range of motion cannot hide / Their support for apartheid” and “Batsheva gets no ovation / Ambassador for occupation!”

Protester Carlos Pareja, an independent media maker, said, “I support drawing attention to the abuses against the Palestinian people. We can’t have only the ‘nice’ face of Israel, which is what we often see here.” Barghouti echoed that point, telling the crowd, “Today, only a few months after the most brutal of all Israeli attacks against the Gaza Strip—which killed over 2100 Palestinians including 500 children and leveled whole neighborhoods, leading Amnesty International and others to accuse Israel of war crimes—yet again BAM has invited the Israeli dance company Batsheva to whitewash Israel’s crimes.”

Interactions with Brooklynites were mostly positive, as curious people tookflyers and asked questions about the activities. Passersby and BAM ticket holders alike stood and watched the high-energy Freedom Debka Group and the Columbia Palestinian Dabke Brigade, two Palestinian dance troupes. The protest ended with two moving dances by Cetiliztli Nauhcampa Quetzalcoatl, a Mexica danza group, who offered “dance and prayers for dignity and solidarity” with Palestinians during their performance. Dancer Karen Lopez explained afterward, “We are indigenous people who have been displaced and seen our traditions threatened with destruction. We are always there in solidarity and resistance with other displaced peoples, including Palestinians.”

Wednesday night’s protest is part of the global movement of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law. The Palestinian civil society call for BDS includes boycotting Israeli academic and cultural institutions complicit in Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights. Adalah-NY is also organizing a protest next Tuesday, November 18, at the concert of the Touré-Raichel Collective, which features another premiere Israeli “cultural ambassador,” musician Idan Raichel.

More photos from the protest can be found here.

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer, Commentary by Adalah-NY

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ZION CONDEMNS AS WE APPLAUD THOSE WHO BOYCOTT

In this music video Roger Waters covers the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome” in support of the Palestinian people

Roger Waters has been the ‘leader of the pack’ of those international Artists who refuse to support the occupation in any way by performing in Israel. The ‘pack’ is growing daily as the occupation intensifies its policies against the people of Palestine. zion wants this to go away ….. but it won’t until the occupation ends COMPLETELY!

Today zion condemns the latest addition to the group, Peter Gabriel. As they condemn him, we applaud him for his stance!

Here is what they had to say about him …. (Also see THIS report)

Musician Peter Gabriel: I’m Not Anti-Israel, I’m Anti-Occupation

Singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel contributes songs to Gaza aid album, says he against “injustice and occupation”.
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Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel Reuters

Singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel says he is not anti-Israel, but that he is “against occupation”.

Gabriel, who originally rose to fame with the band Genesis, contributed songs to a new compilation album titled “2 Unite All”, proceeds from which go to humanitarian organizations aiding Palestinian Arabs in Gaza, reportsi24news.

“I am certain that Israelis and Palestinians will both benefit from a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders,” Gabriel said in a statement quoted by i24news. “We have watched Palestinians suffer for too long, especially in Gaza.”

He added, “I am not, and never was, anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic, but I oppose the policy of the Israeli government, oppose injustice and oppose the occupation… I am proud to be one of the voices asking the Israeli government: ‘Where is the two-state solution that you wanted so much?’ and clearly say that enough is enough.”

i24news noted that other musicians featured on the album include politically outspoken alternative metal musician Serj Tankian, most famous for his work as frontman of System of a Down, who contributed a song titled “Spinning Mysteries at the Sacred Grove”, which features Police drummer Steward Copeland.

The album also features former The Cure guitarist Porl Thompson and Def Leppard drummer, Rick Allen, known for continuing to play drums despite losing one of his arms in an automobile accident.

Several musicians in recent years have expressed their support for Palestinian Arabs while expressing anti-Israel sentiments.

The most notable among these is perhaps Roger Waters, who has in the past compared Israel to Nazi Germany, saying in an interview, “The situation in Israel/Palestine, with the occupation, the ethnic cleansing and the systematic racist apartheid Israeli regime is unacceptable.”

He previously released a giant balloon pig bearing the Star of David during a concert in Belgium. Concert-goers said the Jewish star was among several symbols representing various corporations and fascist movements.

On the flip side, many musicians have ignored calls by pro-Palestinian groups to cancel concerts in Israel and have expressed their support of the Jewish state.

Last year, popular rhythm and blues artist Alicia Keys refused to cave in to pressure by anti-Israel activists and gave a sold out concert in Tel Aviv.

Keys announced that she had decided to go ahead with her concert in Tel Aviv despite calls from a number of anti-Israel activists to boycott the Jewish state.

The pop duo Pet Shop Boys also rejected calls from pro-Arab activists to cancel a Tel Aviv concert. The concert went ahead as scheduled on June 23 of last year.

BRAVO PETER!

And here is a poem written and performed by our very own Remi Kanazi …

THIS DIVESTMENT BILL HURTS MY FEELINGS

And here’s what YOU in New York can do to help …

There is no Art in Apartheid. Boycott Batsheva!
Wednesday, November 12, 6:30 – 8 pm
Brooklyn Academy of Music
Spread the word on Facebook!
Subway:
2, 3, 4, 5, B, Q, N, R, D to Atlantic Ave/Barclays Center
C to Lafayette Avenue
G to Fulton Street

Join us in front of the Brooklyn Academy of Music to protest the Batsheva Dance Company. There will be dance performances and a free dabke class. Help us show BAM, Batsheva and their audience that it’s time to dance against apartheid – not around it!

Why are we protesting? Batsheva is funded in part by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture and Sports. Let’s not let the ‘Brand Israel’ campaign use dance to whitewash Israel’s occupation, colonization, and apartheid system.

And save the date…

Protest Idan Raichel’s performance at Symphony Space
Tuesday, November 18, 6:30-8pm
Symphony Space (Broadway and West 95th St.)
Spread the word on Facebook!
Subway:
1, 2, or 3 trains to 96th Street.

Please join Adalah-NY for a demonstration against a performance by the Touré-Raichel Collective, featuring Israel’s premiere “cultural ambassador” Idan Raichel. We’ll show what art for a cause really looks like, with dance (performed by the Columbia Palestinian Dabke Brigade), poetry, and protest music. Applaud for art, not apartheid!

Why are we protesting? Idan Raichel describes his role as an artist in terms of uncritical support for the Israeli military and government. Before, during, and after this summer’s horrific assault on Gaza, Raichel provided morale-building entertainment to the troops involved. His collaborations with diverse artists such as Vieux Farka Touré attempt to cover up Israel’s egregious abuses of human rights – whether Palestinians or African asylum-seekers – with a veneer of multicultural music.

If you have not already signed our letter to the World Music Institute asking them to drop Idan Raichel, we urge you to do so now!

AMERICAN LABOUR BLOCKS THE BOATS FOR PALESTINE

Block the Boat for Gaza on 16 August CREDIT: Henry Norr

Block the Boat for Gaza on 16 August CREDIT: Henry Norr

This August, during five days and four nights of demonstrations at the Port of Oakland, a diverse group of pro-Palestine and social justice activists under the banner of the Block the Boat coalition picketed several berths where the Israeli cargo ship Zim Piraeus attempted to dock. Activists returned to the port whenever workers were dispatched to unload it—in some cases in the middle of the night. Their numbers, which fluctuated between dozens and thousands, were not always sufficient to physically block all entrances to the vessel. Yet the action succeeded due to the support of Oakland’s longshoremen, members of the International Longshore Workers Union (ILWU) Local 10, who refused to cross the community picket lines. Even when police surrounded and split protestors on multiple occasions, workers refused to proceed and unload the ship. The ship eventually left port, unable to unload most of its cargo.

A BIG Thank You from Palestine

A BIG Thank You from Palestine

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Unionizing solidarity with Palestine: Support grows for BDS among grassroots labor movement

Alborz Gandanhari, David McCleary, Kumars Salehi and Tory Webster *

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“We, representatives of Palestinian civil society, call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel.” This call for solidarity was issued in July 2005 by hundreds of Palestinian organizations, including all major trade unions. Systematic land confiscation, mass incarceration, house demolition, and routine attacks that leave hundreds of civilians dead have become part and parcel of daily life in Israel-occupied Palestine. The US-sponsored “peace talks” merely readjusted Israel’s occupation strategy: instead of deploying its army inside Palestinian cities and towns, Israel now surrounds them with checkpoints and walls; hinders Palestinians’ ability to work, study, and travel; and ensures that Palestine remains economically dependent on Israel. Recognizing that Israel has used negotiations to normalize and sustain the occupation, Palestinian civil society adopted the non-violent strategy of Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) against its oppressor.

Compared to its international counterparts, the U.S. labor movement has been slow to embrace BDS. Michael Letwin, co-founder of the solidarity group Labor for Palestine, suggests this is the product of the American labor movement’s historical and continuing institutional support for Israel. The major US trade unions, Letwin says, have hundreds of millions of dollars in pension funds that are invested in Israel. Senior union leaders, in fear of alienating the Democratic Party and other political allies, frequently denounce BDS and criticize their counterparts around the world who support it.

On the grassroots level, however, things look different. This summer, hundreds of US labor leaders and organizers signed on to Labor for Palestine’s BDS statement. To add to these inspiring developments, on December 4th, UAW 2865, a union that represents 13,000 student workers across nine University of California campuses, will become the first U.S. union to hold a membership vote on joining the BDS movement. Similarly encouraging are recent solidarity actions in the San Francisco Bay Area, which show that, despite the ambivalence among some union leadership, rank-and-filers do not hesitate to stand in solidarity with the oppressed.

This August, during five days and four nights of demonstrations at the Port of Oakland, a diverse group of pro-Palestine and social justice activists under the banner of the Block the Boat coalition picketed several berths where the Israeli cargo ship Zim Piraeus attempted to dock. Activists returned to the port whenever workers were dispatched to unload it—in some cases in the middle of the night. Their numbers, which fluctuated between dozens and thousands, were not always sufficient to physically block all entrances to the vessel. Yet the action succeeded due to the support of Oakland’s longshoremen, members of the International Longshore Workers Union (ILWU) Local 10, who refused to cross the community picket lines. Even when police surrounded and split protestors on multiple occasions, workers refused to proceed and unload the ship. The ship eventually left port, unable to unload most of its cargo.

Israel’s massacre of more than 2,000 Palestinians this summer enraged Samantha Levens, an ILWU marine division rank-and-file member. Upon hearing that community members were organizing to block the Israeli liner, she prepared information fliers and distributed them to the longshoremen. “We weren’t saying ‘don’t handle the cargo,’” Levens says. “We were just giving information about the issue: what happened during the South African apartheid, the history of ILWU honoring community picket lines, and the position of international unions on the situation in Gaza.” The longshoremen’s reaction was positive. Even on the third and fourth days of picketing, she says, when members were eager to go back to work, “I mostly saw people becoming more supportive.”

Lifelong longshoreman, ILWU member, and activist Clarence Thomas explains: “I can’t be silent on these issues. I’m sure that there are longshoremen in Gaza who haven’t been doing work in decades. Isn’t it ironic that ships can go as they please into ports in Israel, but can’t come into Gaza?” Solidarity, Thomas says, is a key value in labor activism: “Politics is one thing, but the aspiration and the communality of the working class is something else,” he says, citing numerous solidarity actions ILWU has taken since the 1930s against oppressive regimes throughout the world. “As an African American man, I don’t have any difficulty relating to the plight of the Palestinian people,” he says. “I know what it means to be racially profiled and to be targeted by a militarized police. I’ve been pulled over many times. I had police guns pointed at me. I understand this phenomenon.”

The strong parallels between state and racial oppression in Palestine and the US, respectively, are at the foundation of ILWU Local 10’s policy of not crossing community picket lines. “We will not work under armed police escort—not with our experience with the police in this community,” said Local 10 president Melvin MacKay, referring to the police’s violent dispersal of anti-Iraq war pickets in 2003. “This action was always about building worker-community solidarity,” assesses Reem Assil, one of the organizers of the port actions. “We hope to use it as an impetus for us to deepen work in educating workers about the issue and connecting it to their personal conditions.”

Following the successful pickets in August, a second ship, the Zim Shanghai, again encountered community picket lines when it docked at the Port of Oakland on October 25. Once again, ILWU longshoremen stood down. As the first shifts to unload the Zim Shanghai were being met with pickets, all but one longshoremen refused to even take a job working the ship. The Shanghai left port without loading or unloading any cargo, thanks to the decision of ILWU rank-and-file members to once more respect a community picket line. When the Zim Beijing, a third ship scheduled to unload at the Port of Oakland, faced similar plans by the Block The Boat coalition in October, the ship diverted to avoid another humiliating defeat at the hands of a determined coalition of social justice activists and rank-and-file union members. With Block the Boat actions now spreading to other ports, it’s difficult to see how Israel will weather the growing storm of BDS.

Palestine solidarity is gaining traction among academic workers too. This July, UAW Local 2865, which represents over 13,000 University of California student workers, took an important step towards joining the international BDS movement. In a public letter posted on the union’s website, the UAW 2865 Joint Council (which includes 83 elected officers) declared its commitment “to support our Palestinian counterparts.” The joint council pledged to bring a comprehensive BDS proposal to a general membership vote this year, a proposal that would include a call for academic boycott of institutions profiting from Israeli occupation and human rights abuses. In addition to soliciting its members’ commitment to cut contact with such institutions, the union would also call on the UC system and UAW International to divest from companies complicit in the occupation.

This endorsement comes as no surprise: in the past few years, UAW 2865 has joined numerous struggles against oppression, including Occupy protests, UC student protests against fee-hikes, and last year’s strike by UC custodians. Recently, it negotiated unprecedented protections for its undocumented immigrant members, queer and trans members, parents, and others.

In the midst of Israel’s bombing of Gaza, the union’s social justice committee carefully worded the call for BDS, outlining in detail the different dimensions of the Israeli occupation. They cited Israel’s refusal to recognize Palestinian refugees’ rights as indigenous people (specifically, their right to return to their land), the system of apartheid that Israel enforces in the West Bank and Gaza, and the second-class status of Israel’s Palestinian citizens. The letter also mentions the connection between Israel’s military industry and ethnic cleansing, the suppression of popular movements, and the oppression and criminalization of people all over the world. Concluding by quoting Desmond Tutu’s “hope for a time when there are universal rights for all humans regardless of ethnicity, gender, or national, origin,” the letter emphasizes that BDS does not target the Jewish people but instead targets Israel as “a colonial-apartheid state.” The letter further highlights the unequivocal support BDS receives from Jewish organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. In fact, a few days after the letter’s publication, more than forty current and former Jewish UAW 2865 members publicly endorsed this BDS call.

The date for the general UAW 2865 membership vote has been set for December 4th. The official ballot language adopted by the Joint Council includes a single yes or no vote on whether the union should call on the US government to end military aid to Israel, and call on the University of California and UAW International to “divest…from Israeli state institutions and international companies complicit in severe and ongoing human rights violations as part of the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people”. The ballot also includes a checkbox where members can pledge to refuse to “take part in any research, conferences, events, exchange programs, or other activities that are sponsored by Israeli universities complicit in the occupation of Palestine and the settler-colonial policies of the state of Israel”. The Joint Council also adopted several documents to educate members about the issues and explain the rationale for the vote; these include a BDS FAQ page, an academic boycott fact sheet, and a labor movement statement.

As in other social justice struggles, mobilization for BDS concerns not just Palestinian rights, but also the right of workers to act and express themselves politically. Purporting to represent UC Jewish students, several Zionist organizations have petitioned UC President Janet Napolitano, alleging that the Joint Council’s solidarity with Palestine creates “a hostile anti-Semitic environment” for Jewish students. Many Jewish students, however, find such allegations to be spurious and see the claims as dishonest attempts to silence criticism.The BDS movement is a fundamentally anti-racist movement, one that opposes racism in all of its forms, including and especially anti-Semitism. The President’s office has yet to respond to the petition, and one can only hope that Napolitano’s tenure will not add to her abysmal human rights record both as Governor of Arizona and Homeland Security Secretary.

The success of Oakland’s Block the Boat makes clear the centrality of organized labor to the global movement for Palestinian freedom. This, and the upcoming UAW 2865 vote on BDS, signal a sea change in US labor’s willingness to be complicit in apartheid and ethnic cleansing. As the larger Palestine solidarity movement picks up steam, we can expect the grassroots labor mobilization for Palestine to bear greater and greater fruits, until Israeli apartheid is no more.
*About Alborz Gandanhari, David McCleary, Kumars Salehi and Tory Webster

Alborz Ghandehari is a graduate student at UC San Diego; Tory Webster is a graduate student at UC Davis; Kumars Salehi and David McCleary are graduate students at UC Berkeley. All are UAW 2865 rank-and-file members and members of the UAW 2865 BDS Caucus. Tory and Alborz are also elected officers of the UAW 2865 Joint Council. Kumars and David participated in the Block the Boat protests in Oakland.

 

This originally appeared at Mondoweiss

FINALLY A NOBEL PEACE PRIZE RECIPIENT WHO WORKS FOR PEACE!

Unlike the others, finally a recipient that knows the true meaning of Peace

Nobel Peace Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai has announced that she will be donating the money she received as a World’s Children’s Prize laureate to UNRWA schools in Gaza, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees announced on Wednesday. Continue 

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Image created by  Gianluca Costantini

Image created by
Gianluca Costantini

SPOOF ON SWEDEN’S RECOGNITION OF A PALESTINIAN STATE

Image created by our new Associate Artist, Gianluca Costantini. Other examples of his latest works can be seen if you click on THIS link.

We are proud to welcome Gianluca to our ranks.

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Related report FROM

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Sweden recognizes state of Palestine

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Foreign Minister Margot Wallström made the announcement in a debate article in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
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“It’s an important step. Some will say that the decision came too early. I’m afraid that it came too late,” she wrote, adding that she “hopes that this will show the way for others.”
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“The aim of Sweden’s recognition is to help reach the goal of Israel and Palestine co-existing side by side in peace.”
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Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas hailed the decision, his spokesman said.
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“President Abbas welcomes Sweden’s decision,” Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP, adding that the Palestinian leader described the move as “brave and historic”.
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Abu Rudeina claimed the move was linked to months of soaring tensions in occupied east Jerusalem, where Palestinians have clashed almost daily with Israeli police and where Israel has recently pushed ahead with plans to build another 3,600 settler homes, drawing international condemnation.
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“This decision comes as a response to Israeli measures in Jerusalem,” he said.
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Abbas called for other countries to follow Sweden’s lead.
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“All countries of the world that are still hesitant to recognize our right to an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, with east Jerusalem as its capital, (should) follow Sweden’s lead,” his spokesman quoted him as saying.
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The UN General Assembly approved the recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state in 2012, but the European Union and most western countries do not refer to Palestine as a separate state.
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Sweden’s decision, initially announced by new Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Löfven as he revealed his new centre-left cabinet in early October, has been met with strong criticism.
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Israel’s foreign minister said it was made “in a hurry” and the US warned that it was a “premature move“. Israel has long insisted that the Palestinians can only receive their promised state through direct negotiations and not through other diplomatic channels.
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Phil Carmel from the European Jewish Congress which represents Jews in 40 countries including Sweden told The Local:
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“This is a token move by Sweden’s new government and it is ironic that Sweden recognizes a Palestinian state at a time when even Palestinians can’t agree on what its borders will be.”
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He added: “A key principle of the European Union is to recognize future states based on negotiations and it is very sad that Sweden appears to have cast these negotiations aside and wants to label Palestine as a state before any formal agreement on its borders.”
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There has been intense fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip in recent months, with some of the deadliest violence in years. But there is currently a ceasefire between the two sides.
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Seven EU members have already recognized a Palestinian state — Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania. Non-EU member Iceland is the only other western European nation to have done so.
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In Thursday’s announcement, Sweden’s foreign minister said that “the government considers that international law criteria for the recognition of a Palestinian state have been fulfilled.”
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Palestinian groups in Sweden have welcomed the decision. Earlier this month, Nael Touqan, Chairman of Palestinian Association of Stockholm told The Local:
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“Sweden has great respect in Europe so we hope this means that other nations will follow its lead,” he added. “This is the only way to pressure Israel”.

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