Within Our Lifetime | United for Palestine

1 year ago we changed our name from NYC SJP to Within Our Lifetime. Since then we have formally expanded our organization, our struggle and our commitment to building grassroots power in Palestinian and Arab communities in NYC. As a Palestinian-led organization made up of youth, students, workers and community members we continue to learn day in and day out that the only path forward in the struggle for liberation and return is to ground ourselves in our history and culture of resistance and steadfastness. As the 1 year anniversary of the Great Return March fast approaches, we are called upon to escalate our efforts in support of the struggle on the ground in Palestine. We hope that you’ll join us as we march forward towards a liberated Falasteen, within our lifetime!

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#FreePalestine #RightToResist #RightToReturn #WithinOurLifetime

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Defend Activist Youth! No to Repression in the Philippines!

On January 30th, the Government of the Philippines filed charges against multiple youth organizers, including the national chairperson and secretary general of Anakbayan Vencer Crisostomo and Einstein Recedes. Also issued subpeonas over allegations of the violation of Public Assembly Act of 1985 were Representative Carlos Zarate and Teddy Casino of Bayan Muna, and Nato Reyes of BAYAN. Additionally, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines Peace Consultant Raffy Baylosis was arrested yesterday on trumped up charges, in direct violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law mutually agreed upon by the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

 

In 2016, Nerdeen K. and Dan C. of New York City Students for Justice in Palestine travelled to the Philippines with Anakbayan-NY to integrate in the struggle for National Democracy in the Philippines and bring back lessons from that struggle back home, where we can apply them to our work against Zionism in the belly of the beast. Shortly after returning from the Philippines in 2016, NYC Students for Justice in Palestine formally joined the international anti-imperialist alliance the International League of People’s Struggle. We have written in the past of the lessons learned from the trip, and we write this statement in everlasting solidarity and defense of the progressive organizations being repressed through this series of attacks by the Government of the Philippines.
While we were there, we built directly and received guidance about our work in New York and in the U.S. more broadly from both comrades Einstein and Nato in different points in time. Einstein taught us the value of assessing our work so that we might understand our failures in order to prepare for the next step, and gave guidance in how to investigate the concrete conditions of the people we are trying to organize. Nato sat with us to explain the conditions of the Philippines and the dimensions of the work that BAYAN participates in, and even helped walk us through plans of action for neighborhoods and universities that NYC SJP was in the process of organizing. For this support and guidance in the internationalist spirit, we are eternally grateful to Nato, Einstein, Anakbayan NY, and the whole of the National Democratic movement, both in the Philippines and here in the U.S..  

 

At the same time as these activists are being repressed by the U.S.-backed Duterte dictatorship in the Philippines, Ahed Tamimi and hundreds of other Palestinian youth continue to resist in the face of Israeli incarceration, despite lengthy prison sentences and trumped up charges brought against them. The torture, sexual violence, solidary confinement and harassment of incarcerated Palestinian youth by Israeli jailers is very well documented. Like Ahed and her comrades, no level of repression can stop the love for their people that the National Democratic activists have which serves as the motive force for their political work. The Israelis are fundamentally incapable of understanding that the reason for the rebellion of Ahed is love, love for Palestine and love for her people.  

 

We call on all SJP chapters and Palestine solidarity organizations to mobilize in defense of the targeted activists, and learn from and continue to build meaningful solidarity between the Palestinian and Filipino struggles.

 

As Mike, an Anakbayan leader in New York said at the rally to Free Ahed Tamimi in Penn Station two days ago said, “Ahed may be a little girl, but her footsteps are gigantic. There would be no greater honor for me, from the Philippines, to be arrested fighting for my brothers and sisters in Palestine. We need to remember, that they are united, from Palestine to here in the United States, from Netanyahu, to Donald Trump are united. So we, as the oppressed peoples of the world, must also be united. Whenever you hear Israel’s name, remember Ahed taught us it is right to rebel! It is right to rebel, Israel go to hell!”

U.S. Out of Syria: Rebuilding the Anti-War movement

NO TO U.S. WAR ON SYRIA!

On April 6 just after 8:30 p.m. the United States launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian Air Force base in Homs province. While the Trump administration sought to paint the offensive as a justified retaliation for the chemical attack in Idlib alleged to have been carried out by the Syrian government, we know all too well that the US empire has no moral qualms about the victims of the Idlib attack or the entirety of the Syrian people for that matter. Our position as anti-imperialists must be consistent and clear: US “humanitarian interventions” have only ever resulted in the death and decimation of entire nations, and in the case of Syria, further US intervention will only prolong the war, lead to the death of more innocent Syrians, and serve U.S. capitalist interests. The US has thrown its airpower into a campaign of terror in Syria and Iraq for 973 days and counting, ostensibly under the pretence of fighting the Islamic State and other rebel groups. During that time there have been 19,527 airstrikes across these countries, with an estimated 2,978 civilians killed and many more displaced. The most devastating of these airstrikes came in the Iraqi city of Mosul on March 17, in which over 300 Iraqi civilians were killed, making it the one of the worst US led civilian bombings in a quarter century.

In the past two months, the United States has deployed thousands of US soldiers in Syria and Iraq, top US generals have demanded more troops in Afghanistan, and Yemen has been hit with more US bombs and raids than ever before. As organizers in the United States, we must condemn in words and actions the recent expansion of the United States’ military presence in the region, specifically in Syria. We have discussed our view of this inter-imperialist conflict and our position remains unchanged. The shift in US military intervention, no longer limited to devastating airstrikes, now includes the addition of 500 US marines and Army Rangers in Syria, as well as the deployment of 2,500 Marines in Kuwait to be used in combat operations in Iraq and Syria. We also cannot forget that the US has engaged in a steady buildup of forces in Iraq, now numbering over 5,000.  The facts suggest the US is preparing for a larger ground presence, a move that would cause the continued carving up of Syria. This constitutes the possible threat of regime change imposed by imperialist forces and allies, such as the United States, Turkey, israel, the Gulf states, and others. We vehemently oppose the intervention of all imperialist forces in Syria and denounce American complicity in denying the Syrian and Kurdish peoples the right to self-determination free of outside coercion.

Since 2011, the world has witnessed a brutal conflict between the Syrian government, rebel factions, and their respective allies. Over 300,000 have been killed, and millions are displaced within and outside of the country. While both sides of this conflict have attempted to leverage international support, we understand that neither the Syrian Government nor the organized political and military opposition have served the Syrian people or their democratic aspirations. While employing rhetoric of revolution, the armed and political opposition has been consistently funded by the US and its allies, who have repeatedly attempted to co-opt the rage and pain of the Syrian people for the benefit of US strategic interests. It is clear that these forces have been co-opted by outside powers which seek to impose their own agenda in Syria and blunt the revolutionary potential of the Syrian and Kurdish people. Meanwhile, little doubt remains about the position of the Syrian government to the values of democracy or human dignity.

As an anti-imperialist youth organization, we can not stay silent about US intervention in Syria. The United States has played a central role in shaping the conditions that birthed ISIS beginning with its occupation of Iraq in 2003 and further fueled the current conflict by supporting reactionary and competing opposition groups in Syria. We understand the United States’ stated goal “to defeat ISIS” is nothing but an excuse to intensify airstrikes, raids, and escalating military occupation; ensuring its hegemony in the region. In the process, thousands have been killed, leaving generations with irreparable damage. We strongly condemn the US’ role in Syrian affairs, including the Trump regime’s rejection of refugees caused in part by this American imperialism. The Syrian & Kurdish people must decide their own fate, and all actors who seek to undermine Syrian freedom and self-determination should be held accountable. To this end, we recognize that our enemy abroad is our enemy at home. The enemy that leads the world in incarceration, the enemy that murders Black and Brown people with impunity and allows fascism to rise is the same empire that facilitates Zionism and rains bombs on the heads of people all around the globe.

 

While we respect the diversity of opinion concerning the Syrian conflict, we call for the unity of pro-Palestine and anti-imperialist organizations around the country to mobilize around halting the escalation of US intervention in Syria and in the region as a whole. Our primary duty is to prevent our own government, one which has invaded and destroyed dozens of nations since WWII, from continuing to exacerbate the conflict. We must be clear that regardless of the use of a “humanitarian” or “counter-terrorism” framework to justify intervention, the United States has no role in the Middle East but to leave it. Neither guise will cover the strategic chaos the US encourages and benefits from as it seeks to expand into new markets and ruthlessly exploit existing ones. The lack of a formal declaration of war does not sidestep the reality that the US is at war with Syria. This intentional informality is symbolic of the hidden face of modern imperialism, as seen in Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Pakistan among others. We will not allow the Middle East to be destroyed at the feet of the world’s deadliest war machine. As Palestinian & MENA diaspora and comrades in the United States, we have no option but to collectively resist by building an anti-war movement that can halt American intervention in Syria, Palestine, and around the world. Just as we support the right of the Palestinian people to resist Zionist settler-colonialism, we must unconditionally uphold the right of the Syrian & Kurdish people to resist American and all imperialist military occupation, using any method they deem necessary.

 

US OUT OF EVERYWHERE!

BUILD THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT!

U.S. IMPERIALISTS – NUMBER ONE TERRORIST!

All Out Against Zionism and Collaboration: Long Live Martyr Basil Al-Araj

Basil al-Araj, a beloved intellectual and activist who lived and died on the principle of resistance, was murdered by the Zionist security forces in an early morning raid last week. Basil was no stranger to the repressive nature of the PA, having been arrested and held in Palestinian Authority prisons for months before launching a hunger strike in protest. Upon his and his comrades release, the Israelis repeatedly raided his family’s home in Ramallah in search of Basil, but he was able to evade capture for months before being killed resisting the occupiers.

 

The shameless collaborators in the Palestinian Authority freely gloat about their betrayal of Palestine, referencing the arrest of Basil al-Araj and five other resistors, PA President Mahmoud Abbas was reported in Der Spiegel in April of last year saying, “Our security forces are working very efficiently to prevent terror. Just a couple of days ago, three young men were tracked down and arrested. They were planning an attack. In this context, our security cooperation with Israel is functioning well.” Adding salt to the wound, in the protests that followed in the past few days, the PA security force has beaten, tear gassed, and shot live ammunition at protestors struggling against the traitors in the PA.

 

It is clear as ever that the Palestinian Authority exists solely as an external security force for the colonizers, putting a Palestinian face on a settler bureaucracy. There hasn’t been national elections in Palestine in over ten years, even by the standard of international law the PA is an illegitimate governing body. The security coordination that Abbas is all-too-eager to facilitate is the legacy of the disastrous Oslo Accords. The logical conclusion to a “peace” agreement negotiated by imperialists between the settler and the indigenous can only end with the capitulation of the indigenous political force sitting at the negotiation table. We must interrogate why our imperialist government has a vested interest in the establishment and maintenance of the Palestinian Authority, and arrive at the conclusion that the Palestinians have already come to: that Oslo was never meant to provide a just peace, instead it is only a way to strengthen and entrench the colonization of Palestine. For ourselves in the diaspora and allies in the U.S. our job as students, intellectuals and workers must be to unmask that connection between U.S. imperialism and the continued rule of the Palestinian Authority. Basil reminds us that we cannot simply be students passively studying the Palestinian situation,

“If you want to be an intellectual, you have to be an engaged intellectual, and if you refuse to do so, it is no use to be intellectual.”

 

For Basil, for Omar Nayef Zayed, and for all those betrayed by the PA collaborators, rally with us and the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) today, at 5:30pm at 115 E 65th Street.

 

PA: END SECURITY COORDINATION WITH ISRAEL OR DISSOLVE!

LONG LIVE THE MARTYR BASIL AL-ARAJ!

Call to May Day 2016: Palestine Contingent

Join NYC Students for Justice in Palestine as we turn out to this year’s May Day contingent at Union Square. International Workers Day, or “May Day” originated to commemorate the death of the four workers protesting for the current 8-hour workdays during the Chicago Haymarket Riot in 1886. Although the U.S. does not recognize days like this as it continues to wipe away the history of the workers and migrants that built this country, May Day has since continued to celebrate the ongoing class struggle waged worldwide to overthrow oppression and exploitation.

 

The world imperialist system today is prone to instability and crisis, and the people are confronted with a deepening economic crisis that the 2016 presidential candidates promise to fix. On one hand, GOP-top runner candidate Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant and Islamophobic rhetoric creates sharp antagonisms in class struggle that gives rise to a fascist movement. Among the Democrats we see neoliberalism take the form of Social Democracy, often the friendliest form of capitalism. Yet around the country, black people  still continued to be killed with impunity, immigrant families are still raided and deported, and communities are still struggling for clean water, living wages and affordable housing.

 

This May Day, our thoughts are with oppressed people everywhere. While oppression manifests itself through class, it takes up many different forms, with imperialism being the most sophisticated and detrimental to oppressed nationalities worldwide, as imperialism and state sanctioned violence forces displaced people to come to countries like the U.S. for survival. The exploiting class in imperialist countries ally with the comprador class in their colonies and territories, often engulfing in proxy wars that result in the destruction we see in places like Aleppo, Syria today.  
As NYC SJP,  we  emphasize the global struggles for national liberation and self-determination, in particular that of the Palestinian struggle, for on this May Day, Palestine remains under the occupation of the white supremacist, settler-colonial Zionist entity that calls itself Israel. Discriminatory laws have been signed into practice in occupied Palestine by Israel since the Nakba in 1948, which killed, displaced, and forcibly removed three-quarters of a million Palestinians. The Palestinian people are subject to an ongoing genocide on a near-daily basis, and every few years, they are subjected to major Israeli operations that kill indiscriminately. The point of these operations is to crush the souls and morales of the Palestinians, to reaffirm Israel’s domination as the settler-colonial vanguard state in the Middle East. We last saw this on a major scale in the summer of 2014, when Israel killed over 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza. In the U.S. we see the conviction of Palestinian organizer Rasmea Odeh along with many political prisoners fighting for liberation. We see the rapid expansion of settlements in the West Bank as our communities continue to be gentrified and surveilled in America. We see the ever-expanding continuation of the Nakba in occupied Palestine as the U.S. expands as the largest military and prison system in the world. Then, when Palestinians rise up and resist, Israel and its global enablers label them terrorists.

Indeed, this May also marks 68 years of living under occupation, ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and genocide for the Palestinian people. Israel sustains itself and its crimes through the aid of global imperialist powers that also oppress working class peoples in their own countries, the most notable of these countries being the United States, the world’s only superpower and leading imperialist power.

This May Day, we denounce Israel, we denounce the United States, and we denounce global capitalism and its highest form, imperialism. We salute the workers, the resistors, and the oppressed everywhere. 

WE WILL BE VICTORIOUS!

FOR A LIBERATED PALESTINE, THE RETURN OF ALL ITS REFUGEES, AND A DEMOCRATIC STATE IN WHICH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE CHOOSE THEIR FUTURES!

FOR THE LIBERATION OF ALL OPPRESSED PEOPLE, INCLUDING THE EXPLOITED WORKERS WE ARE PROUDLY MARCHING WITH!


Political Prisoners Day Statement

Today, Sunday April 17, 2016, join us and our allies as we launch the second Prison Divestment National Week of Action and mark the 42nd Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. We will gather at 1:30pm at Cadman Plaza and come out in full force to rally against the massive public investment and private prison companies that profit off of human rights violations in New York, Palestine, the US/Mexico border and prison detention centers around the world.

It is no secret that the U.S. is built on the foundation of genocide and enslavement of indigenous, Black, and other oppressed nationalities, and seeks to punish and imprison those who build power in antagonism with said foundation. And like its imperialist benefactor the United States, Israel imprisons Palestinians who seek justice from the violent Zionist settler state.

As of February of this year, Israel has detained 7,000 Palestinian political detainees,including 406 children and 670 administrative detainees. Israel true to its apartheid-like nature, has separate legal systems for Palestinians in the West Bank and the illegal settlers occupying it. While settlers enjoy their full fledged rights under the Israeli civilian system, Palestinians are subjected to the Israeli military court system.

Case in point, is twelve year old Dima al-Wawi the youngest girl in the world to be detained. She has been arrested and tried under the military courts for allegedly holding a knife and attempting to stab an Israeli soldier. Dima was questioned without the presence of her lawyers or parents, subsequently, she was coerced to sign a confession in Hebrew (a language that Dima does not understand). Dima’s case is not unique. In fact, coercion, torture, and psychological abuses are a general practice by the IDF soldiers and the Israeli military system put in place for Palestinians.

It is the link to U.S. imperialism that help make it possible for the Israeli military to orchestrate these kind of travesties. The U.S. spends 3 billion dollars a year on the Zionist state, which includes its military fund. Companies likes G4S, one of the largest security and imprisonment facilities in the world, provides services and equipment for Israeli prisons.

Zionism is built on, and maintains itself on the erasure of Palestinians, their history and their culture to survive. Israel, frantically trying to destroy the Palestinian spirit, finds itself confronted with the resistance that came before its establishment, and will live on after it’s destruction. Zionists can attempt new ways to divide and conquer Palestinians, but the oppressed peoples of the world will find a thousand more ways to resist and crush Zionism.

We will not stay silent at Israel’s farce of a so-called democracy and the United States’ hand in the colonization of Palestine. We unapologetically call out Israel for what it is: a European settler colonial state created through ethnic cleansing, displacements, and crippling national oppression. Zionism and a liberated Palestine can not exist concurrently, one will necessarily overcome the other. As Palestinians in the diaspora and internationalists, we know that Zionism can not be simply tolerated and reformed, it must be ended by any means necessary, as well as every ideology that upholds the imperialist system today.

Furthermore, the United States, as an imperialist nation, depends on Israel to further its control and influence in the region. We cannot call for a liberated Palestine without the defeat of US imperialism. We, as solidarity organizers for the Palestinian cause in the United States, must connect the struggles of all oppressed peoples here in the States and around the world. We must call out the US’ mass incarceration for what it is: genocide. Like Zionism, national oppression in the United States against Black people, Chicanos, First Nations and others is not something that can be voted away or changed by shifting the political narrative in popular media. Only by revolutionary struggle can these systems of oppression not only be managed, but they can be ended. From the detention centers in Arizona to the dungeons in occupied Hebron, FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS NOW!

Women hold up half the sky: Palestinian women in the struggle against Zionism

“Palestine, our souls will not rust in exile”

Join us today on March 5th at 1 pm in front of the Harriet Tubman Statue – 122 St and St Nicholas Av/Frederick Douglass Blvd, in  Harlem New York to commemorate International Working Women’s Day as an inseparable aspect of the fight for Palestinian liberation. NYC SJP along with many other student and community organizations will be out in full force to affirm our commitment in the fight against patriarchy and zionism. The struggle against patriarchy is inextricably linked to the struggle against racism, colonialism, and capitalism: The very core of the settler colonial state of Israel. As we voiced in our articleabout Mordechai Kedar’s appearance at Hunter, Israel’s patriarchal roots go back to the mass rapes committed during the Nakba as a psychological weapon to colonize and wipe out Palestinians, as well as the daily assault and sexual harassment of Palestinian women to this day by the Zionist state. This is evident from sexual assault and harassment of Palestinian women, to IDF soldiers custom printing t-shirts with misogynistic messages such as “a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull’s-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, “1 shot, 2 kills.” And “a shirt featuring a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises, and the slogan, “Bet you got raped!” These shirts were made during the 2008 military attack on Gaza, and have gotten approval from IDF commanders as part of a military tradition. Zionism uses patriarchy, just as it uses racism, imperialism, and other systems of oppression, to ensure its continued survival. It is therefore our duty as advocates and supporters of the Palestinian people to unite with all those fighting gender oppression from Palestine, to the United States, and at our own college campuses.

Israel is a state that was built on the murder and rape of Palestinian women, a state that forces women to give birth at checkpoints, where more than half of the babies died as a result. It is a state that imprisons Palestinian students and folkloric dancers like Lina khattab, who had an Israeli judge point at her saying “she looks like a leader” as she was sentenced to prison just for protesting against Israel. Khattab was accused of “throwing stones” and sentenced to six months in Israeli prison in December 2014; her case won international attention and solidarity from student organizations and activists around the world. After her release in June of 2014, Khattab changed her major course of study at Bir Zeit from journalism to law, noting that she planned to become a lawyer to defend Palestinian political prisoners and advocate for their freedom after witnessing their conditions first hand. The U.S and Israel know the power of organized Palestinian women, with identical goals of targeting revolutionaries to suppress political organizing. Lina Khattab is among many Palestinian women imprisoned for being a leader in their community. Another being Khalida Jarrar who has defended political prisoners under the PFLP. Khalida has been arrested in her home and held in indefinite detention by Israeli occupation forces multiple times. Her first arrest was at a protest marking International Working Women’s Day in Ramallah, Palestine, 1989. She was detained in Israeli prison for one month and subsequently became involved in human rights organizing and advocacy as a student at Birzeit University. Khalida Jarrar was actively involved in community-based and university organizing, for self determination. As a Palestinian immigrant to the U.S, Rasmea Odeh has made it her life’s work struggling for an end to Israeli colonization. She was first targeted by the Israeli state, sexually abused by Zionist occupation forces until she signed a document confessing to a bombing in Jerusalem. In moving to the U.S, she did not mark her bogus confession when asked if she has been convicted of a crime on her immigration papers. 11 years after grassroots work in Chicago, the U.S says she committed immigration fraud. In reality, this was a concentrated state effort to suppress the support she has been extending the Arab population of Chicago. Her treatment in both the Israeli and U.S court system reveal the misogyny a part of these institutions. On the one hand, she was raped by Israeli interrogators. On the other, the reality and evidence of her rape was held from the jury when she went on trial.

The Zionist movement is contingent on upholding patriarchy as a justification of their colonization and occupation of Palestine, with officials like Ayelet Shaked the Israeli minister of Justice spewing violent rhetoric against Palestinian women by saying “if she sends her son to to hell she should know she’s going with him, along with the house, and everything inside it.” The struggle for Palestinian liberation is indivisible with the struggle for women’s liberation. We reject the idea that women should support each other solely based on “womanhood”. Women who facilitate Zionist aggression in Palestine do not have any common ground with women resisting it. We reject any ideology which delegitimizes or ignores oppressed peoples right to rebel against colonial conditions. Similarly, we recognize the domestic call for “women’s equality and opportunity” from U.S “feminist” politicians is empty rhetoric. From NYC to Honduras, their actions continue the U.S legacy of white supremacy and dominance. The 1994 “Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act”, with the support of First Lady Hillary Clinton, put more police on patrol in working class Black and Latino communities, also enacting a “mandatory minimum” for nonviolent drug related sentences. Prisons today are filled with people of all genders scooped up by this legislation. Under the policy of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the U.S. funneled funds and support to overthrow then Honduran president Manuel Zelaya in 2009. After the U.S backed coup, femicide accelerated among other drug cartels and state police violence. Honduran Indigenous leader Berta Caceres faced repeated death threats from state security forces because of her role organizing against the 2009 coup and her work with the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras. She cofounded COPINH in 1993 to address the growing threats posed to indigenous Lena communities by illegal logging, fight for their territorial rights and improve their livelihoods. Cáceres mounted campaigns and lead protests to demand the Lena people have autonomy over their lands. March 3rd, of 2016 she was killed in her home. The assailant is unknown but it is highly likely this is a state sanctioned assassination and almost certain there will be no adequate investigation. This is a clear example of the farce that is “global sisterhood” after all, what do women like Leila Khaled and Golda Meir have in common when they are at the opposite sides of a struggle, with Golda Meir an Israeli Prime minister colonizing Palestinian land through zionist Ideology, and Leila Khaled committing her life to be a freedom fighter in the struggle for Palestinian liberation.

To stand against imperialism, capitalism, and patriarchy is to stand with political prisoners, indigenous women, and those struggling against all systems of oppression around the world.

Smash the Patriarchy!

Smash the Settler Zionist State!

Free Palestine, and Free Women EVERYWHERE!

Long Live the Memory of Omar Nayef Zayed

Today only hours apart from the victory of Mohammed al-Qeeq after his 94-day hunger strike, the revolutionary Omar Nayef Zayed was assassinated within the Palestinian embassy in Bulgaria.

Omar, a former political prisoner and hunger striker, was threatened with extradition from Bulgaria in December of 2015 when the Israeli state demanded his arrest. Zayed was accused of carrying out a resistance operation against settlers in 1986, and had escaped from Zionist prisons in 1990 after a 40 day hunger strike. NYC SJP holds the Israeli state responsible for his assassination, and the Palestinian Authority for failing to adequately protect Omar within their diplomatic mission. The individuals and government who carried out this assassination must be held accountable through any channel possible.

All of the Palestinians resisting in the bowels of Israeli jails represent the firm resilience of the Palestinian people for self-determination, however no amount of happiness from al-Qeeq’s victory will make us forgive or forget about the enraging assassination of Omar Nayef Zayed. Even though we are Palestinians living in the diaspora and internationalists in solidarity with Palestine, the issues of the prisoners must always be on our minds. We salute Mohammed al-Qeeq, the martyr Omar Nayef Zayed, and all political prisoners.

The Real Story: The New McCarthyism and the Repression of Palestine Activism at CUNY

Today, Wednesday February 24, the New York Post released an article regarding a letter that the Zionist Organization of America wrote to Chancellor Milliken of the City University of New York and its Board of Trustees, accusing Students for Justice in Palestine of Anti-Semitism and demanding the suspension of SJP chapters across CUNY. The 14-page letter, in the name of creating a safe environment for Jewish students, claims to be “concerned” about a series of actions that supposedly were committed by members of Students for Justice in Palestine chapters around CUNY campuses.  This smear article comes as part of a larger offensive by the Zionist movement, both across campuses and worldwide, in the face of the victories of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and the further popularization of the Palestinian cause.    

To contextualize this attack, we must note that there is a long history of repression towards SJPs all around CUNY campuses.  This repression has taken the form of unwanted excessive security at our events, sudden cancellations, and public letters from the CUNY administration denouncing our actions.  Students organizing with SJP have received repeated threats and harassment both on and off campus.  After organizing the Million Student March (MSM), SJPs and allies around CUNY faced backlash. A statement was released by Hunter President Raab shortly after the MSM, in which she condemned acts of “Anti-semitism,” but said nothing of a Hunter student at the MSM who was carrying a laptop showing videos of Syrian refugees and shouting that Muslims are taking over and  “de-purifying Europe;” at the march, this student was guarded by CUNY security. Nor was there any mention in Raab’s statement of the members of Students for Israel who, in their counter-protest, called a member of SJP a “self-hating Jew,” in response to his support for SJP.  At Hunter College, these types of anti-SJP and Islamophobic incidents have become almost routine, as we can see in this viral video from March 2015, showing a confrontation between a racist student and SJP during “Israeli Apartheid Week.”  While these incidents may seem isolated, the reality is that many acts of repression have taken a specifically organized political character, involving the leadership of the pro-Israel lobby on campus, as well as members of the faculty and administration. Most recently, in the Fall of 2015, the vice-president of the Hunter Zionist Alliance, and more revealingly, a member of the Zionist Organization of America, posing as a student sympathetic to Palestine, came to Hunter SJP meetings and, in classic agent provocateur form, attempted to goad members into violent action against Jews via text messages which, of course, went unanswered to by our members.  

In a similar incident, at Hunter College in Spring 2013, a paid Hillel staffer offensively suggested that Hillel should sponsor a “mock suicide bombing” in response to SJP’s “mock checkpoint” demonstration in the Hunter West Lobby.  At John Jay College, in February 2016, the faculty advisor to a student club threatened SJP that he would go to the NYPD Hate Crimes Unit if SJP refused to collaborate with Hillel on an event.  At the College of Staten Island, a member of Hillel pressured the administration to remove Muslim articles of faith from the interfaith prayer room, and began a petition to ban SJP from CUNY.  At Brooklyn College in the Fall of 2014, a member of the Israel club spit on an SJP member during a demonstration in support of the uprising in Ferguson.  Also at Brooklyn College, Mordechai Levy, a former member of the Jewish Defense League, a terrorist organization which counts one of our primary detractors Assemblyman Dov Hikind among its former members, distributed flyers comparing SJP to “Hamas on campus,” and told SJP he “had a surprise for them,” an especially terrifying threat given Levy’s involvement in the JDL’s execution via letter bomb of Arab community organizer, Alex Odeh in 1985.

Additionally, this sort of repression has not been limited to SJP, but extended to Muslim groups at CUNY.  The Zionist Organization of America president, Morton Klein, claimed in his statement that “Such bigotry would never be tolerated by CUNY if it were being directed against another ethnic, racial or other targeted group…CUNY should not be tolerating it when the bigotry is directed against Jews”– ignoring the blatant truth that while CUNY issued statements against SJP, condemning claims of anti-Semitism, that same administration has actively supported and defended Islamophobes on and off campus, and, most egregiously, allowed the NYPD to bring informants on campus.  The informants were tasked with entrapping members of the Muslim Student Association at multiple CUNY campuses, specifically in Queens College and Brooklyn college, where an infiltrator posing as a muslim convert joined both SJP and MSA for five years, leading to the entrapment and arrest of two Queens College students.  Similar situations played out at Hunter College and John Jay, where police officers, informants, and secondary informants infiltrated Muslim student groups in order to gather information and entrap students who they viewed as easy targets for manipulation.  The hypocrisy of Zionist organizations know few boundaries. On one hand, Zionist organizations push the administration to denounce “anti-semitism and bigotry” at campus rallies organized to call for the divestment from companies that maintain the occupation of Palestine; on the other hand, these organizations honor and invite advocates of the use of rape as a tool of war like Mordechai Kedar to campus, as Hunter Students for Israel, Hunter Hillel, the Zionist Organization of America, and United Jewish Appeal attempted to do on February 16th. The people who would claim that SJP creates an unsafe environment on campus are the exact same people who create the atmosphere of trauma for survivors of sexual violence, all while Hunter remains one of many schools under Title IX investigations for the mishandling of reports of sexual violence.  In short, while the CUNY administration trips over itself to support baseless accusations of anti-Semitism, when similar issues are raised by Muslims or women and their allies, CUNY turns a blind eye.

Repression of pro-Palestinian activists has also taken place off campus.  State senator Michael Gianaris recently introduced a new piece of anti-BDS legislation that aims to put any individual and organization that supports BDS on a blacklist. BDS is “a global movement for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel until it complies with international law. BDS is a strategy that allows people of conscience to play an effective role in the Palestinian struggle for justice.” If passed, this bill would prohibit New York State from contracting with individuals and organizations that are engaged in the BDS movement. When confronted at John Jay College regarding this bill, Senator Gianaris evaded the questions by referring to Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations, an irrelevant fact, and said that organizations that seek to undermine the US’s “greatest ally” should not receive any taxpayer money.Yet the state of Israel, one of the greatest human rights violators, receives 3 billion dollars a year from the US. He then stated that he does not care about the rights of people in other countries. He claims that in the US, “people can say whatever they want,” yet introduced a bill that would effectively prevent people from doing so without state-sanctioned punishment. However, we recognize this as an effort to hinder the growing effectiveness of Palestine solidarity organizing in the US. This has been accompanied with the rise of the McCarthyite naming and attempted blacklisting of activists through the website Canary Mission, which was created to “document people and groups that are promoting hatred of the USA, Israel and the Jewish people, particularly on college campuses in North America.”  Ultimately, it exists to demonize and “expose” pro-Palestinian activists with the explicit goal of damaging their professional and educational reputations.

But why go to such lengths to suppress a supposedly marginal movement in favor of Palestinian liberation? The answer lies in the same logic which ties tuition hikes and sexual violence to the oppression of the Palestinian people.  We live in the center of imperialism, the headquarters of worldwide oppression, the United States.  It is the same force, US world imperialism, that reinforces the occupation of Palestinian land, murders Black people in cold police violence, commits sexual violence against women in the Philippines, and deports families all across the United States on a daily basis .  Therefore, the imperialists understand, just as we do, that the only solution to these issues is a broad movement of revolutionary anti-imperialist forces from these different groups, seeking their overthrow.  They must suppress our movement because they know that, if left unfettered, it will grow into a mass upheaval that will not only end Zionism, but tear the US imperialist project from its roots worldwide and at home, planting in its place a world based on justice, peace, and solidarity.  This type of repression is particularly important in the University, where the ideology of the ruling class is shaped and reinforced to create the next generation of administrators of imperialism.  We seek to liberate CUNY for the people, building a University which teaches the real history of the oppressed people of New York City and the world, in order to prepare students not to maintain the world as it is, but to overthrow it.  The Zionist Organization of America, the CUNY Administration, the New York State Assembly, and the ruling classes in general, therefore, will do anything in order to stop us and keep our university and our people in chains.

CUNY is not a neutral ground in the struggle against imperialism. Controlled by the Board of Trustees, CUNY is an Ideological State Apparatus (ISA) which serves to reproduce both ruling class ideologies and train students to enter each of the sectors of class society. Our struggle to liberate CUNY for the people is part and parcel of the broader anti-imperialist struggle, not just to improve the conditions of students but to rebuild CUNY to teach the real history of the oppressed people of New York City and the world, and to train students to organize their communities and serve the needs and interests of the people, in order to prepare students not to maintain the world as it is, but to overthrow it. 

In reference to the particular accusations made by this New York Post article and the mysterious 14 page letter sent to the CUNY Chancellor, we will not spend the effort to debunk each absurd individual claim, like the ridiculous idea that we, an anti-racist and anti-imperialist organization, would have anything to do with swastikas on campus.    We have already dealt with the claims of anti-Semitism at the Million Student March, and found them to be baseless propaganda on the part of pro-Israel forces.  Similarly, Brooklyn College faculty present at the Faculty Council meeting have already refuted the claims that anything anti-Semitic was shouted by protesters, a fact reaffirmed by Politico.  We realize that the examples cited by the New York Post are but a few of the many of the ZOA letter, and, if these absurd, vague, and unproven claims are among the strongest in the document, we eagerly  look forward to examining what other fantastical claims the ZOA was able to come up with in their full document.  In terms of the document itself, which is reported to call for the ban of SJP from CUNY campuses, we refer the CUNY Administration to Article XV, Section 15.2.a of the CUNY By-Laws which guarantees students the right to “form an organization, association, club or chapter by filing with the duly elected student government organization of the college or school at which they are enrolled or in attendance” as well as the explicit right to “free expression and association.”  We would like to make clear that any attempt on the part of the Administration to fulfill this ban on CUNY SJPs will be met with swift legal action.

We understand that the role of CUNY is to reproduce an oppressive ruling class ideology, and that is why it comes as no shock to us that CUNY would be so supportive in the defamation of SJP. CUNY administration, as well as CUNY public safety are not here to protect and serve the needs of anyone who tries to disseminate the white supremacist nature of our educational system. However, that should not intimidate us, instead it should make our forces stronger. New York City Students for Justice in Palestine encourages all students to join campus SJPs and be vocal and supportive about the repression SJPs,MSAs, and our allies face everywhere. For all those interested in joining our movement for the liberation of Palestine and all oppressed communities, visit NYC SJP’s Facebook page.

Philippines Solidarity Week Statement

On the occasion of Philippines Solidarity Week, New York City Students for Justice in Palestine extends our firmest solidarity to the Filipino people in their struggle for genuine democracy and national liberation. As youth and students in solidarity with Palestine, we are proud to call the revolutionary youth of Anakbayan USA our comrades in the struggle against U.S. imperialist domination and exploitation. The solidarity week is commemorated every February 4th, the anniversary of the Philippine-American War, the first U.S. imperialist war of aggression in Asia. This war marked the early stages of the period of global imperialism, which we have yet to shake off, and remains a crucial point of origin in the genealogy of anti-imperialist resistance in oppressed nations all over the world.

The anti-imperialist struggle for national democracy in the Philippines is a struggle that demands the unwavering support of revolutionary and progressive organizations in the U.S and abroad. The Filipino people have been waging an uninterrupted battle against U.S. imperialism and its puppets for well over a hundred years, and have ousted several U.S.-backed regimes since the artificial granting of “independence” from the U.S. in 1946. Today, the U.S. has 6,000 troops stationed in the Philippines, more than double the amount it has left in Iraq, despite the 1991 decision by the Philippine Senate to reject the renewal of a treaty allowing US military bases on Philippine soil. Facilitated by the ongoing presence of the U.S. military, American soldiers continue to commit violence against and exploit the Filipino people with impunity, evidenced by innumerable cases of murder and rape. It is clear that the U.S. will go to great lengths to protect and maintain its political and economic interests in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, and even clearer is the necessity of international solidarity with those struggling against it. The revolution in the Philippines represents one of the most advanced and developed revolutions against reaction and imperialism in the world today, and is one that demands our unwavering support.

In January of 2016, members of New York City Students for Justice in Palestine travelled to the Philippines with Anakbayan-NY, a revolutionary filipino youth and students organization. The trip provided SJP members with the opportunity to witness firsthand the concrete conditions of the National Democratic movement, and to highlight the importance of international solidarity, from New York to Palestine to the Philippines. NYC SJP received a warm welcome from revolutionary workers, students, professors, indigenous activists and people in general who reiterated their undying commitment to the liberation of Palestine and oppressed peoples within the United States. In addition to us learning from the experiences of the movement there, the Philippines-Palestine Friendship Association (PPFA), formed during the International League of Peoples Struggle conference in November 2015, extended their solidarity to us by meeting to coordinate campaigns and actions in support of the Palestinian struggle in the Philippines.

Often, surplus military equipment that the Israeli Defense Forces do not need is sold off to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to be turned on the Filipino, Moro, and indigenous people of the Philippine Islands. Although the geography changes, when these weapons are transferred, the basic nature remains the same: a U.S. funded weapon stays trained on an oppressed nation.Since these two nations are bound together by the yoke of U.S. imperialism, internationalism is not only our duty as revolutionaries, it is a necessity to strain and weaken the ability of the empire to exert its hegemony over the oppressed nations.

We salute the fellow revolutionary youth of Anakbayan-USA in their continued struggle for genuine democracy in the Philippines, and wish them unprecedented success in their current upsurge movement. On Philippines Solidarity Week and beyond we hope to build an ever growing relationship of concrete camaraderie in the struggle.

LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY!

IMPERYALISMO IBAGSAK!

The Role of Youth and Students in the International Solidarity Movement for Palestine

The question of the role of youth and students is of particular importance in the current state of the Palestine solidarity movement in the US. Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has over 120 chapters nationally and is widely recognized as one of the leading sections of the international solidarity movement as a whole. It is our responsibility as SJPs to not only be content with organizing on our campuses, but to integrate ourselves into the progressive struggles of communities here against US imperialism.

 

The role of youth and students in building mass movements

Youth and students tend to be open to new ideas and can be a vital revolutionary force. At the same time, the class basis of college students is generally middle class, and students are trained to be individualistic and career oriented. This contradiction manifests itself within the current student movement on the question of student power versus people power.


Upon graduating college most students will join the middle class or return to the working class, but a small section will either join the ruling class itself or become one of its puppets. In either case, students are not an autonomous social force, nor are their political interests independent of the interests of the masses of exploited people. The broad section of students who go off to join the middle and working classes cannot unite with students who side with the ruling class on the basis of being students; students are not a class.

The student movement can provide revolutionary leadership to a larger movement if it is integrated among broader progressive struggles to build power for oppressed people. But if instead the student movement is limited either solely to the specific struggles of students (tuition, student resources, etc.), or is isolating students from their communities instead of uniting them, the student movement becomes non-revolutionary or even counter-revolutionary.

Most importantly, student power obscures the privilege of college students and the importance of rooting political struggle in the broadest and most oppressed sections of the people. An autonomous student movement, which the student Palestine solidarity movement largely is today, is in danger of orienting more and more to middle class student interests and abandoning the struggles of the people. To avoid this danger, we must integrate ourselves and learn from the concrete struggles that the most exploited and oppressed sectors of society are already engaged in, provide our revolutionary optimism and ideology as youth and students to those struggles, and constantly be on guard against middle class interests isolating the student movement and leading it away from serving the needs and interests of the people as a whole.

Note on Internationalism

The tension between supporting the liberation struggle within Palestine and the liberation struggles against imperialism and settler-colonialism of people here in the US marks another critical dynamic within the Palestine solidarity movement.


All struggles against imperialism are connected. Advances of one anti-imperialist revolutionary struggle both objectively strain the resources of oppressor nation(s), and subjectively inspire anti-imperialist struggles around the world by proving these struggles are possible in practice. As SJPs organizing within the center of US imperialism, we are in a position to advance the anti-imperialist and anti-settler-colonial struggles here, and in particular the national liberation struggles of internal colonies within the borders of the US (the struggles for national self-determination of Black people/New Afrikans, Chicanos, First Nations, etc.). By doing so, we will actively advance Palestinian liberation by undermining the ability of the US imperialist state to so extensively support Israel.

SJPs have made significant advances in applying the BDS call, both in expanding the base of the Palestine solidarity movement and in consolidating anti-imperialist and pro-Palestine politics in many SJP chapters. However, if SJPs do not also participate in the progressive struggles of oppressed-nationality people within the US, we perpetuate the isolation of the student movement and will not be able to advance the Palestine solidarity movement beyond each of our campuses.

How can SJPs make advances given the current conditions?

Through both our direct experience in New York City and our experience working with SJPs nationally, we have observed that the primary practices of SJPs usually consist of (1) organizing pro-Palestine speakers or panel discussions on campus and (2) organizing boycott and divestment campaigns. These practices have advanced anti-imperialist and pro-Palestine politics on our campuses, but they also reflect and further the isolation of the student movement from oppressed communities. Panel discussions are well suited to students who are eager to learn new ideas, but they isolate people who do not need abstract political discussions, and instead desire involvement in political programs to advance the struggles of their communities. In oppressed communities there are few reasonable institutions to target for a divestment campaign, and boycott campaigns are just as impractical for addressing the concrete conditions oppressed people here are facing. No amount of consumer boycotting will pressure the state to cease its surveillance activities on Arab and Muslim communities, or convince real estate development plans to halt gentrification. 

The present isolation of the youth and student movement from oppressed communities cannot be rectified simply by using the same methods of organizing and physically bringing them to the community. SJPs need to revise our methods of organizing to combat the isolation of the student movement and enable us to orient toward the masses. Step by step through practice we can integrate the student movement with the struggles of the people.

At the same time, we can take those revised methods and re-apply them to strengthen the anti-imperialist and pro-Palestine bases on our campuses. For example, many SJP panel events have an overly academic character and do not provide ideas or tools to address concrete issues we face in our organizing. In addition to political and historical discussions of Palestine, campus events must actually spark and train people to do political work.

How we organize and the subsequent political program that is developed out of that must exist in relation to our general political goals as an organization. Without a clear vision of what we are organizing for, our organizing methodologies and strategy will quickly become muddled and lose focus. For SJP chapters in particular, and Palestine solidarity organizations in general, our primary political goal is to hinder the U.S. empire and play our part in organizing for its collapse, because without the lifeline of U.S. imperialism, the settler-colonial state of Israel is not able to exist. This will allow the revolutionary forces within Palestine and the camps as much breathing room as possible to build the national liberation movement there.

Students for Justice in Palestine chapters in New York City organize for this anti-imperialist struggle in one way by linking the Palestinian liberation movement to the Liberate CUNY Front. This campaign aims to open up admissions of the third-largest university system in the United States (City University of New York) to everyone who graduates from a New York City high school, or has a GED, as a form of reparations for oppressed nationalities who continue to be excluded from accessing education.


The First Step: Social Investigation and Class Analysis (SICA) and the Mass Line

We cannot build a base within Palestinian and Arab communities through abstract discussions or BDS campaigns on campus. While these tools, especially BDS, have enabled significant ideological advances in Palestine solidarity, they are insufficiently oriented to material struggle for organizing communities.

In any neighborhood we are organizing, we need to develop campaigns that address the concrete conditions that the most exploited sections of the people are facing, so first we must investigate those conditions. A preliminary step in investigation can include analyzing previously collected data or reading past reports, but we must primarily conduct our own investigation to get to know the community ourselves. Investigation can be informal, just by talking to people on the street about a political campaign, or it can be formal such as through fact-finding meetings.

Investigations must always be guided by an analysis of class society. Only with class analysis can we synthesize what we are learning from our investigation. Based on the results of investigation we can develop a political campaign. The primary issue the community is facing should be the focus of any political campaign. Secondary issues must always be kept in mind because they objectively impact organizing, and if they are not handled well, it will create unnecessary division and weaken the level of unity among the people with respect to the primary campaign. 

The political campaign can then be used to continue and deepen the social investigation and class analysis, which in turn may demonstrate that the balance of primary and secondary problems have changed, or that certain aspects of the campaign need to be modified to better suit the concrete conditions.

SICA is a tool of the mass line. To practice the mass line means to take the ideas, demands, and struggles of a community, while they may be scattered and disorganized, synthesize them into a political program and present it back in the form of an organized campaign. 

Experience of NYC SJP in Bay Ridge

NYC SJP has confirmed this experience directly in our practice when we engaged in a campaign to boycott Israeli dates during Ramadan in Arab grocery stores in Bay Ridge. The campaign was relatively minor. While several stores pledged to stop buying shipments of Israeli dates, materially it did little, if anything, to impact the flow of any Israeli capital. We engaged in this campaign knowing that even a completely successful campaign of boycotting Israeli dates would put little, if any economic pressure of the Zionist state. It was one campaign in one community in one city, but was valuable in the sense that it brought a concrete anti-Zionist political program to a community historically politically repressed by entrapments and surveillance. Equally important, however, it was part of the ever-continuing process of finding out the what issues the community cared about and was dealing with. It was clear that people we spoke to agreed that the Israeli dates had to go, and generally supported the boycott campaign, but did not see it as something that affected their lives, or were unwilling to engage politically because of the fear of police and FBI terrorism in the form of entrapment and surveillance. Naturally, this led to a deeper understanding of the problems plaguing Arab and Muslim communities in the post-9/11 U.S., one not based on subjectivity or academic scholarship, but on concrete investigation of the conditions that exist to neutralize political activity in the Palestinian diaspora. The knowledge we gained through this campaign will inform our strategy for organizing within this community with the goal of addressing people’s’ needs.

We draw inspiration from revolutionary Palestinian community leader Rasmea Odeh. In addition to organizing generally for the Palestinian struggle in the diaspora, she organizes for immigrants rights and women’s issues. Rasmea’s immigration status was exploited by federal agents when they raided several people’s homes who were engaged in the anti-war movement in 2010. Because of her anti-imperialist work as an associate director of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), the U.S. empire sees her as a political threat which must be repressed, which is shown in her unjust conviction last year for immigration fraud. Her work established that Palestine solidarity work cannot exist in abstract discussion, but must be rooted in concrete anti-imperialist programs, and as students we must take up the example of Rasmea Odeh and organize with the political goal of the collapse of U.S. imperialism, first and foremost.  

Having practices that isolate SJPs from the communities and confine us solely to our campuses renders us historically irrelevant. If we truly aim to provide political leadership, we must have a mass orientation, and we must combat the isolation of the youth and student movement from oppressed communities as well as the student-power liberalisms that maintain that isolation.

Post MSM: CUNY, Zionism, and Organized Repression

On November 12, 2015, New York City Students for Justice in Palestine (NYC SJP), along with students at around 100 universities across the United States, participated in the Million Students March to demand tuition-free public colleges, the cancellation of all student debt, and a $15 minimum wage for all campus workers. The NYC march was comprised of students from campuses across CUNY (including Baruch, BMCC, Brooklyn College, City College, CSI, Hunter, John Jay, and Queens College), and additionally demanded that CUNY divest from all private prison companies, Israeli companies, and companies that directly maintain the occupation of Palestine. These demands reflect a range of campaigns occurring across CUNY, including the CUNY Prison Divest (CPD) campaign which also aims to end all cooperation between CUNY and the New York Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

CUNY’s financial and ideological support for Zionism is inseparable from its cooperation with the NYPD and its investment in private prisons. Of the $275,200 that CUNY has invested into private prisons, $248,900 or over 90% is invested in G4S, a British multinational security company that provides security services for prisons in over one hundred countries worldwide, including both the United States and the settler-colonial state of Israel. G4S guards patrol Israeli military bases in Palestine and the company operates interrogation centers and provides equipment and services to the checkpoints surrounding the illegal Apartheid wall. The company clearly helps to facilitate the apartheid system and the siege on Gaza which has turned it into an open air prison. The NYPD and dozens of other police departments in the US have received “counter-terrorism” training from the Israeli Defense Forces. These Israeli-trained police, including the NYPD (who have an office in Jerusalem) are now found recruiting in CUNY campuses such as John Jay, Brooklyn College and Kingsborough Community College.  

Nonetheless, following the rally, a slew of articles from several different media outlets came out falsely accusing the Million Student March in NYC of anti-Semitism due to the demand that CUNY divest from Israeli companies and companies that profit from the occupation of Palestine, in accordance with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign. Though NYC SJP served a leading role in organizing the March, the New York Post accused us of “hijacking” it with “hate-mongering” rhetoric. From the beginning of the rally, several self-proclaimed Zionists, later identified as members of Zionist organizations such as StandWithUs and Hillel, attempted to divide the demand for divestment from Israel from the other demands of the campaign. Meanwhile the students who claimed to support all of the demands except divestment from Israel, such as a freeze on tuition hikes, were never involved in any organizing leading up to the demonstration, and their presence in the march was only to disrupt.

We categorically refute all claims of racism being thrown at the Million Student March and various chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine. NYC SJP opposes anti-semitism and all forms of racism. If there were any anti-Semitic comments made at the rally we firmly condemn them, as we condemn all forms of racism, and had we discovered any expressions of anti-Semitism among protesters, we would have ejected them from the rally. Yet, when the Zionist students were asked to point out who made the anti-Semitic comments, we were met with silence. Instead all that can be heard are chants of “Zionism out of CUNY” towards several students holding signs proclaiming themselves as Zionists. The media quickly painted chants against Zionism and solidarity with the intifada as anti-Semitism. However, this in itself is inherently anti-Semitic because it associates the crimes of the state of Israel with the entirety of the Jewish people. A racist political ideology and an ethnic/religious group are not one in the same, and unlike the media, we actually make that distinction. Furthermore, expressing solidarity with the uprising of the Palestinian people proclaiming their self-determination is not indicative of anti-Semitism, nor is it an attack on the Jewish people. It is the core of Palestine solidarity organizations to stand with the Palestinian people in their struggle against colonialism and national oppression, and that is exactly what we mean when we chant “Long Live the Intifada”.

What is disconcerting is the fact that the media presented the rally as holistically anti-semitic with complete disregard to the blatant islamophobia and white supremacist comments that were actually made at the rally with documented video evidence. Similarly the administration of CUNY released several statements claiming that the expressions of solidarity with Palestine reeked of “thinly veiled bigotry” and expressed a stance only against anti-Semitism, with willful ignorance to islamophobic and hateful speech made by several counter-protesters. One Hunter student carried a laptop with footage of Syrian refugees, screaming that “Muslims are taking over,” that we were “animals,” claimed that “immigrants are de-purifying Europe”, and said threatening statements against Muslims. At the same time as wrongfully accusing the rally of anti-Semitism, CUNY police defended the islamophobic and anti-immigrant student, bringing not one, but two Public Safety officers as well as the head of Public Safety at Hunter, Joseph Foelsch, to allow the student to stand in the middle of the protest and continue to antagonize students.

In the statement released on November 12th, the CUNY administration, President Jennifer Raab, and the Undergraduate Student Government chose not to condemn the very real islamophobia and racism shown by several counter-protesters, and instead only addressed unfounded accusations of anti-semitism at the march without actually investigating the incident. At the rally, students from Students For Israel and Hillel called a Jewish member of SJP a “self-hating Jew” for voicing opposition to Israeli policies, an anti-Semitic phrase in itself. In past semesters, Hunter SJP and the Muslim Student Association have faced islamophobia, including the viral video of Jake Lang in the Hunter West lobby mocking Muslim women who wear the niqab. This is indicative of CUNY’s long history of not only ignoring, but perpetuating systemic racism, including islamophobia and Zionism. They have proven this by being an institution that hires war criminals like David Petraeus, allows the NYPD to infiltrate student spaces, and is deeply invested in both mass incarceration and the occupation of Palestine. Where was the outraged administration and USG when Muslims were being victimized?  Where was the outraged administration when it came to light that there were undercover NYPD informants in Muslim Student Associations across CUNY? Instead of outrage there was deafening silence. We have no expectations that CUNY or President Raab will condemn islamophobia, or retract their statements condemning the rally on unfounded accusations.

CUNY has made it clear which side it is on.

All around the United States, Students for Justice in Palestine chapters have been facing repression and accusations of anti-Semitism for integrating the Palestinian cause into the general student movement against tuition hikes, in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, and fighting against the systematic locking out of oppressed nationalities and the working class from accessing education. For example, Loyola Black Voices held a protest in solidarity with the University of Missouri students and added the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the state of Israel to their list of demands. Organizers from the Palestine Solidarity Committee at University of Texas – Austin were physically threatened and held by the police for daring to criticize an event glorifying the Israeli Defense Forces. Students at Loyola, UT Austin, CUNY and more have been labeled anti-Semites for their participation in an internationalist student movement that takes up the fight against structural racism and privatization of education at the same time that it stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people. The coordinated repression directed towards Palestine solidarity organizations by university administrations serves to distract from the rest of the demands, which include implementing open admissions, abolishing tuition, reintroducing remedial classes, and stopping the militarization of our campuses.

We call on the Hunter College Undergraduate Student Government to retract their signature from the unfactual statement, based only on the accounts of the Zionist counter protestors, and to immediately draft and release a statement condemning the CUNY administration for its repression of student organizers, and its blatant facilitation of structural racism.

#Liber8CUNY

#MSM4Palestine

#BDS

Solidarity Statements:

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network

Signed by:

New York City Students for Justice in Palestine
BMCC Students Without Borders
Bronx United in Struggle Organization
Brooklyn College Students for Justice in Palestine
City College Students Without Borders
College of Staten Island Students for Justice in Palestine
Hunter College Students for Justice in Palestine
Hunter College Students Without Borders
John Jay College Students for Justice in Palestine
Pace University NYC Students for Justice in Palestine
St. Joseph’s College Students for Justice in Palestine
Pakistan Solidarity Network
Queens College Students Without Borders
Samidoun Palestinian Political Prisoner Network
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (solidarity statement here)
Bronx United in Struggle Organization
International Action Center
Workers World Party
UMass Amherst Students for Justice in Palestine
National Lawyers Guild
WorldPeace
Common Brotherhood
Fight Imperialism Stand Together
Labor for Palestine
SOAS Palestine Society
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
Al-Awda New York: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
NYU Students for Justice in Palestine
WI Bail Out The People Movement
California Teachers Association
Solidarity with Ukraine Antifascists Committee
People’s Power Assemblies
Palestine Solidarity Collective (Syracuse)
OEA Peace and Justice Caucus
NYC International Socialist Organization
Adalah NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel
Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine
Middle East Crisis Response
Santa Clara Students for Justice in Palestine
UC Riverside Students for Justice in Palestine

 

If you would like to sign the statement, please fill out this form!

Our Debate, Like Our Struggle, Knows No Borders

We would like to express our thanks to the youth and student groups from Gaza who have taken the time to engage with our position paper on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, especially in this moment where a possible Intifada may break out any minute. No movement in history has ever made forward strides without important debates, and we welcome criticism of our position from comrades fighting for the same goal of a liberated Palestine, and the downfall of Zionist oppression.

Context of Our Document

Our document, released last week, “The BDS Ceiling” was written in preparation for the National SJP conference as a critique of what we see as a trend within the Palestinian solidarity movement in the United States and specifically within Students for Justice in Palestine chapters around the country to focus exclusively on BDS without a critical eye towards other steps they can take to support Palestinian resistance.  Although this document seems to have been viewed as an attack by some, we note that groups who originally signed on to the response, such as the Progressive Student Labor Front, have already begun to remove their signatures, reiterating their “support to New York City Students for Justice in Palestine and their firm and committed struggle against Zionism and racism and for the liberation of Palestine” and their consideration of our article as “far from an attack on BDS”. 

This document was both a self-criticism of the steps we as members of NYC Students for Justice in Palestine have taken as members of campus SJPs and a general critique of the national solidarity movement as a whole, directed towards the limitations of our solidarity work, not to dictate the tactics of the movement in Palestine.  We believe that we must use all possible tools within our reach, from protest to boycotts, divestment resolutions to community mobilization, alliance-building to insurrection, in order to assist the cause of Palestinian liberation.  It was in that spirit that this document was written; to examine and carry out the tactics called for in the 2005 BDS call, and to supplement the call in every way possible, by every and any means possible. We regret that our message was interpreted by the writers of the article to be an “attack” on BDS or construed to mean that we believe that BDS has reached its ceiling. Our analysis on the political trends within the student movement for Palestine in part comes from the fact that NGO employees are in powerful positions within the American national student movement. We want to make it clear that this is absolutely unacceptable. Just as in Palestine, American NGOs have an important supporting role to play in the struggle, however, NGOs can not and will not lead the solidarity movement in the United States which must belong to the Palestinian people, their independent political organizations, and their comrades.

Our Role

We would like to clarify our position. We do not attack BDS, nor reject it. We uphold it as an important tactic in the struggle for Palestinian national liberation.  Our first action as NYC SJP was to go into the Arab community in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to inform community members to boycott Israeli dates during Ramadan (which will be discussed later).  Our role as Palestinians in the diaspora and comrades fighting in solidarity for the national liberation of Palestine is to build support for Palestinian liberation, as well as organize around the issues faced by our communities in the diaspora and other oppressed people. We understand that the  leadership and actual act of liberating Palestine is the historic responsibility of our Palestinian brothers and sisters living in occupied Palestine and the camps. There have been many important historic debates among Palestinians fighting for liberation on how to go about freeing the land, and as an international solidarity organization we study these debates in order to be able to better understand what our tasks are.

When we march for Palestine, we chant loud and proud “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”, because we believe in one democratic Palestinian state, in which the oppression and settler-colonization of Palestine by the supremacist ideology of Zionism has been abolished. We do believe that it is important to share experience and knowledge from many different struggles and movements; Israeli settler-colonialism is part of the chain link of US led imperialism which oppresses people in all corners of the world, which leads to resistance and liberation struggles in all corners of the world. Our struggle has no borders, we fight against the enemy of imperialism as one, and we struggle with each other to stay sharp in this fight for the future of billions of people. Of course, in the final instance the specifics of how to go about liberating Palestine from the river to the sea have to be figured out by the Palestinian masses in Palestine, in the camps, and in the diaspora. Our role is to do what we can from around the world to create the best conditions possible for Palestinians to win such a struggle.

BDS As a Tactic

We understand BDS to be an important tactic in our struggle for international solidarity.  In fact, we ourselves have used and celebrated this tactic to build consciousness within our campuses and communities. However, through our work we have come to the realization that it is not the only tactic we must use to support the liberation of the Palestinian people. Leila Khaled raised an important point in her interview with 972 Magazine:

“BDS, of course, on the international level it is very effective. But it doesn’t liberate, it doesn’t liberate land. If there’s BDS all over the world, and the people are not resisting, there will be no change. BDS helps us to continue the struggle and to isolate Israel, and then the balance of forces changes here. It’s very important for us in the international level to have more people having campaigns, because it means the narration of our story is now on that level, people will ask ‘why are they going for the BDS?’ Now, there’s an experience, and it’s not something theoretical we are speaking about – the BDS during the apartheid era in South Africa, it helped the people who were holding arms. But if they were not holding arms it may have affected them politically, but it would not have liberated, not on the ground.”

Leila Khaled engages in an important evaluation of the successes and limitations of BDS as a tactic. BDS has played an important part in the ideological struggle worldwide to garner mass sympathy and support for Palestinian liberation. However it is not the end, and this is the point where the movement must figure out how to take another step forward.

Our analysis is that the lifeblood of Israel is its link to US imperialism. The US is itself a settler colonial empire that formed on the basis of genocide, slavery and theft of land. The descendants of these victims of the settler-colonization of North America continue to be oppressed here, alongside people all over the world oppressed by US imperialism. Without this oppression, US imperialism could not continue. Without financing and protection from US imperialism, Israel could not successfully maintain its zionist project. The link between the two is obvious; the NYPD that kills and harasses oppressed people here collaborates with the IDF. An important task for the Palestine solidarity movement is to fight alongside oppressed people in the US to bring down US imperialism.

In the article responding to NYC SJP, the writers assert that our analysis of the SodaStream campaign was based on a flawed argument, that the BNC did in fact continue the boycott against SodaStream after the closing of the West Bank plant. Nowhere in our piece did we assert the opposite, in fact the article’s argument addresses solidarity organizations outside of Palestine, not the BNC. Our analysis was correct in that as a campaign, the closure of the West Bank factory was in fact hailed as a victory, evidenced by Omar Barghouti’s statement after the closure:

“This is a clear-cut BDS victory against an odiously complicit Israeli company.”

As New York City SJP, we acknowledge the fact that a more thorough investigation into the SodaStream campaign should have been done, and for that we self-criticize. However, the overall analysis remains correct, evidenced by the campaign against SodaStream dropping in activity dramatically after the closure. The BNC itself marked this as a critical victory, saying the closure “shows that the BDS movement is increasingly capable of holding corporate criminals to account for their participation in Israeli apartheid and colonialism.”

Our analysis was not meant to attack the BNC as having a short-sighted vision of Palestinian liberation. Our criticism was leveled at how BDS is practiced outside of Palestine; we were not disagreeing with the 2005 call when we stated “In theory, the 2005 BDS call to action demands the return of the over five million refugees to wherever their home is, in ‘48 Palestine or the West Bank and Gaza. Taken to the logical conclusion, this means the eventual establishment of a single Palestinian national state covering all of historic Palestine.”  We instead believe that BDS has multiple practical applications outside of Palestine, and that we should embrace all tactics up to and beyond BDS to support the Palestinian struggle.  As mentioned above, NYC SJP has embraced BDS as a call to initiate discussions with our own communities.

This Ramadan we built a campaign in the largely Arab and Palestinian neighborhood of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to boycott Israeli dates. In this action we can see the limits of BDS that we discussed in our previous document: We could encourage the simple economic boycott of Israeli dates which would deal bee stings to Zionism, or we could use the boycott of Israeli dates to initiate conversations which would serve to organize Palestinian and non-Palestinian oppressed communities into mass movements to support Palestinian liberation.  By doing this we believe we are realizing the full potential of all possible organizing tactics from BDS to community organizing.  This is the core of our critique of the mainstream BDS movement within the United States; instead of complementing the goal of building power for oppressed communities, BDS is often utilized only for the sake of a successful boycott, ignoring the potential BDS could have to help initiate a mass movement of communities and campuses for Palestinian liberation. BDS is not a separate movement from the general movement for Palestinian liberation, calling BDS activities the “BDS Movement” implies that it is somehow a different goal, as if BDS is the means to the end. BDS is part of our strategy outside of Palestine for Palestinian liberation, not the movement itself. This is what we mean by “the BDS Ceiling”: we will defend to the end the movement to Boycott Israel, but also we look critically at how we can go beyond an economistic BDS framework practiced in the United States.

How does NYC SJP/allies do this?

NYC SJP is attempting to engage in new forms of the practice of international solidarity, most notably by actively participating in the struggles of oppressed people here. Immigrants from Mexico and other parts of Latin America are massacred at the border, and in the US are denied citizenship so they can be used as super-exploited labor for capitalism; NYC SJP fights alongside groups such as DREAM Teams fighting for the DREAM Act, members were at protests by undocumented restaurant workers demanding an end to wage theft, help with the ICE FREE NYC Campaign to end collaboration between ICE and NYPD.  NYC SJP members were at the forefront of militant Black Lives Matter marches in NYC, and stuck through the struggle even when there was heavy repression by police, and are participating in prison divestment campaigns to fight against mass incarceration. NYC SJP members are helping to fight for gender resource centers throughout the public colleges of NYC, as well as anti-sexual harassment campaigns, as part of the fight against patriarchy and for women’s liberation.

This practice of active solidarity across movements has been strengthening all struggles in NYC, and gaining valuable allies and comrades for the Palestinian struggle. As part of this practice we have expanded the focus of our Palestine solidarity organizing from just being focused on building on campuses to also doing work in Palestinian communities. As NYC SJP grows and builds the Palestinian solidarity movement in NYC, we aim to do more community work. The solidarity we are forging across struggles, and between the campuses and the communities is building a force that Zionists in this city will have to reckon with. A force that we hope can successfully challenge the Zionists who are in power, so when our Zionist City Council wants to declare that NYC supports Israel, or threatens to defund schools where SJPs are active, we can fight back and win.

We want to learn from SJPs carrying out BDS, and share our experience in community work

We envision Students for Justice in Palestine to be the leading anti-imperialist student organization in the United States. In order to get there, we require space to debate ideas, criticize each other on a principled basis within the space of the organization. In the article on the BDS National Committee website, the Progressive Student Labor Front’s signature was added when they were “unfamiliar” of the original article, and they have since retracted their signature. In their subsequent statement, they remarked,

“We do not agree with everything NYC SJP included in this statement, or their political positions in all other statements they have written; however, we know that these are political struggles to be taken up and carried out together in our movement. This is a discussion within the movement, among forces who stand in one camp, confronting Zionism… We are proud to call them – and all of the students, youth, and progressive forces who raise up the banner of Palestine inside the imperialist United States – our comrades in the struggle for the liberation of Palestine.”

This is the spirit of criticism, debate, and strategy that we had hoped to initiate by releasing our article. Even though the PSLF disagrees with some of our political points, they expressed a willingness to struggle out the differences within the movement, in order to advance the politics and practice of our collective organizing. Considering the name of the Progressive Student Labor Front was “unfamiliar” with the article yet signed on, it begs the question, which of the endorsers actually read our article, and felt strongly enough to attach their name to the piece?

Our aim in raising the points that we have in the article was not to criticize or put down the tremendous amount of work that SJP organizers have done all across the country. We continue to reiterate that we celebrate this work, want to learn from it, put it into practice, and expand it. Exploring new practices and tactics of international solidarity because we believe BDS has limitations does not mean that we attack or reject BDS. It will be important for the movement here to build strong BDS campaigns, and we seek to learn from the experiences of other SJP’s from all over the US who have made great successes over the last year. We expect every solidarity organization to allow the space to discuss strategy, ideas, and criticisms in order to relate to the wider movement.

No movement makes forward strides without important debates and struggles over differences, and we look forward to principled debates, criticisms, and engagements that aim to sharpen the movement.

EDITED: We’d like to clarify that the PSLF’s statement said “we were unfamiliar with the original article.” Nevertheless, the retraction of their signature stands.

Statement of Solidarity with Palestinian Day of Rage

Since the beginning of the Nakba and the ensuing occupation, the Israeli state and its settler apparatus has demonstrated its desire not only to deny Palestinian statehood, but its intention to completely annihilate the Palestinian people. This is being achieved through expansion of settlements, mass expulsion, periodic massacres and complete compliance from the U.S. empire. In recent days, Zionists have continued its attacks on Palestinians throughout Palestine, particularly in Jerusalem, and murdered a number of Palestinian youth like 18 year-old Fadi Alloun and 13-year old Abdel Rahman Abiedallah.

Over 450 Palestinians have been injured by settlers and Zionist occupation forces in the past 48 hours. Settler violence is at a near-unprecedented level and the israeli state facilitates this by escorting settlers and directly attacking Palestinians. In response, Palestinian forces have called for a Day of Rage today, on October 6th, 2015.

A general strike was called for as part of the Day of Rage and is in effect throughout East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Popular committees have begun organizing self-defense networks throughout the West Bank, and have called for international solidarity with the situation in Palestine. The quickly escalating Zionist violence and the response by Palestinian resistance is reminiscent of the first and second intifadas that asserted the determination of the Palestinian liberation struggle.

New York City Students for Justice in Palestine stand in solidarity with the October 6th Day of Rage and the overall struggle for Palestinian liberation. We recognize that because Zionist settler-colonialism is facilitated by U.S. imperialism, our struggle organizing in the United States must principally be a struggle against U.S. imperialism. Solidarity with the intifada and let it pave the way to complete liberation for all nations oppressed by imperialism!