Category Archives: Palestine

Muslim Students Take the Lead at UC Irvine

written with Will

This past February students in the Muslim Student Union (MSU) at UC Irvine deliberately disrupted a talk by Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the US, as he attempted to justify the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008/2009.

The 11 students who disrupted Oren by shouting him down were arrested.  Afterwards, Muslim students and other Palestine solidarity activists attending the event walked out and held a protest outside.

Recently, Lisa Cornish, the Senior Executive Director of Student Housing, and other university officials at UC Irvine have recommended the 1-year suspension of the MSU.  In addition, MSU members must complete 50 hours of community, no MSU officers will be allowed to be an “authorized signer” for any other student groups, and if the MSU is allowed to re-register for official status in 2011, it will be placed under a one-year probation.

There is currently a debate over at Kabobfest where some in the Muslim community are arguing that the MSU should not have been involved in organizing the disruption.  They argue that MSAs and MSUs have no business taking leadership in this struggle.

One argument goes that it invites retaliation on the whole Muslim community threatening their religious freedom.  The problem with this argument is that it places the sins of white supremacy and empire squarely in the laps of Muslims and solidarity activists who choose to resist.  There is a faulty assumption here that the occupations of Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the racist attacks on Muslims in the US are a result of organized resistance on our part.  This is completely backwards.  Oppression doesn’t result from our resistance; we resist because we are oppressed.

Continue reading Muslim Students Take the Lead at UC Irvine

Palestine today, but what about tomorrow?

By Will and jubayr

Last week, we all watched as the Obama administration asked to get “all the facts” before releasing a comprehensive statement about the murder of 9 Palestine solidarity activists by the Israeli Defense Force aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.  If he just waits a little longer, he might be able to find a way to use international law to bury both the dead and the living.

Many of us have become depressed and catatonic, staring eyes wide and mouths dry;  we’ve lost sleep and shed tears;  there is a heavy weight in our chest as we’ve become both saddened and enraged at the continued barbarism of Israeli state violence, and the way the US ruling class justifies spilling the blood of Muslims, Arabs and Palestine solidarity organizers alike.

In response we’ve organized rallies, protests and candlelight vigils around the world.  In Turkey, dozens of our sisters and brothers declared an end to sanctuary for Zionism and white supremacy, by storming the Israeli consulate.


Continue reading Palestine today, but what about tomorrow?

Israel’s Attack on the Free Gaza Flotilla: New Escalation, New Desperation

As with the general crisis, it seems everything is magnified at a higher level.

What follows are a few brief notes on last week’s assault of the aid convoy to Gaza. It certainly isn’t the only death squad operation going on against aid convoys as events in southern Mexico shows.

The attack on the Free Gaza flotilla, with the killing of 9 solidarity organizers and wounding of 30 or more, is not an isolated incident. It instead reveals a number of interlocking tensions that need to be pulled apart.

This premeditated assault and murder is part of a general shift in the Israeli government’s policy toward international anti-apartheid organizing, where the regime itself is taking on an increasingly direct role in attacking solidarity efforts. The regime understands that a more pro-Palestinian viewpoint has steadily gained ground in the Left and progressive circles. Further, it understands that the tactic of BDS has gained significant ground in the last ten years. While Palestinians, and more broadly Arabs and Muslims, have been constant targets of U.S, European and Israeli agents and police, the net is now being cast wider to include international solidarity as a whole.

In less than 24 hours after the attack on the Free Gaza flotilla, the Israeli government, along with the vast majority of newspapers and news channels in the U.S. and Europe began their typical intensive propaganda campaign. This certainly creates a kind of firewall, with the vast majority of people suffering from lack of knowledge about Israeli apartheid and the role of U.S. imperialism.

However, even this propaganda and the immense interest U.S. and other Western elites have invested in the apartheid project is coming up against reality. They have not been able to solve the political impasse represented by the Palestinian struggle. As a result, Zionism, as a form of white supremacy, is perhaps more in crisis today than it ever has been in its history.
Continue reading Israel’s Attack on the Free Gaza Flotilla: New Escalation, New Desperation

Collapse of the Palestinian Authority?

Is the Palestinian Authority (PA) going to collapse?  If not the PA, then is Fatah imploding?

No one can say for sure, but the succession of events over the past several months brings these questions to mind; questions which could drastically reshape the struggle for Palestine as we know it.

The current change in the winds began as early as this past August over the shady organizing of Fatah’s first party congress in some twenty years.  Then, in October, Abbas and the PA withdrew their support for the Goldstone report, which documented Israeli war crimes during its assault on Gaza last winter.  This betrayal by Abbas & co enraged Palestinians, Arab folks and Palestine solidarity organizers alike.

More recently, Abbas has announced he will retire, and Israeli liberals and US negotiators are running around frantic because Abbas is their only hope of continuing the sordid peace process without having to deal with Hamas.  Shortly afterwards, Abbas began supporting a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state that would forgo the peace process and negotiations with Israel.  While many have applauded this declaration as the long-awaited arrival of Palestinian liberation, in reality it would, under the current conditions, enshrine Israeli apartheid and the shattered social and political lives of Palestinians.

These fractures and desperate measures by Abbas & co have come in response to the US and Israel’s refusal to compromise during negotiations, which would have provided legitimacy for Palestinian rulers.

Since the first Intifada, Fatah has consistently compromised with Israeli apartheid and US Empire, while popular movements in Palestine have repeatedly rejected that compromise.  Gains have only been made by popular self-activity on the part of everyday Palestinians.  This dynamic lies at the heart of the crisis.  The truth today is that Fatah no longer has any social base.  These latest maneuvers by Abbas and Fatah, which treat notions of independence merely as a bargaining chip or a bureaucratic maneuver, should be interpreted in this light.

These articles help contextualize these events:

“Where is Fatah Headed?”
Here’s an article by Toufic Haddad just before the party congress this past August, which traces the increasingly authoritarian character of Fatah both internally, and in relation to the struggle for Palestine.

“Bantustans and the unilateral declaration of statehood”
This is an excellent essay by Virginia Tilley on the pitfalls and consequences of the recent “threats” to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state.

“White House Pivots on Mideast Bid”
and “Short-Term Fixes Sought in Mideast”
And for what it’s worth, the NYTimes on how the lack of direction by US Empire contributed to these latest gambits by Abbas and the PA.

Crashing the Party: Protesting Apartheid Celebrations in Seattle

-gila

The following are two speeches, one by myself and the other by Wen, given at a rally protesting Israel’s Independence Day at the University of Washington in April, 2009.

Each year, the Zionist groups on campus take the opportunity to hold what they call “IsraelPalooza,” which they frame as a purely cultural Independence Day celebration.  As part of the Palestine solidarity campaign that Wen and i were involved in, we decided to crash their apartheid party.Crash IsraelPalooza Flyer

While the Zionists tried to emphasize their event as a celebration of Israeli culture, we decided to celebrate 61 years of Palestinian resistance to apartheid.  At their event, they offered live music, henna, hookah,  falafel, and a “dialogue” tent, ostensibly to prove that they were nice, reasonable people.  However, once we began our rally not far away, the white supremacist insults began.  First we heard, “There’s no such thing as a Palestinian, you idiot!”  Later, Zionists tried to verbally and physically provoke those on our side.  We held our cool, while the campus police, who had promised to keep the groups separated, stood back and did nothing to prevent the Zionist hostility.

After several speeches were made and some lively chants recited (including: “From Mexico to Palestine, tear down the wall!”), we began a loud march around the perimeter of the apartheid party.  Being that the event was outdoors and advertised as free and open to the public, we decided that we would enter their settlement-like party as a contingent.  However, when we tried to enter, the cops formed a human barricade and denied us entry.  While they were not willing to intervene when the Zionists were trying to provoke physical fights, the cops were all too happy to bar us from a free event.  In comparing the two opposing sides, as we stood face to face with each other, two things were clear: 1) They were overwhelmingly white and we were majority people of color; and 2) The cops were willing to use force to “protect” the whiteys and their “culture” from all the scary brown people.  For a brief moment that day, it was like we were living under legally enforced segregation.

Just in case their white supremacy wasn’t obvious enough, the Zionists helped make it crystal clear when one of them yelled at our brown group, “Swine Flu.”  When an anti-Zionist Jewish woman who was part of our rally tried to enter IsraelPalooza, the cops barred her, while a couple Zionists behind the cops screamed, “Don’t let her in.  She might be a suicide bomber.”

Anyway, after a lengthy showdown with the pigs, we marched through campus, still full of energy, right to a local Palestinian falafel restaurant.  The food there was good; much better, i imagine, than the appropriated, blood-soaked falafel that the Zionists were giving out.

I wish i could post video from the event, but it has been lost, so i am posting the flyer for the event along with the two speeches. Continue reading Crashing the Party: Protesting Apartheid Celebrations in Seattle

More victories against Israeli apartheid

As the Obama administration reversed its decision to force a freeze on West Bank settlements as a pre-condition for restarting the so-called “peace process,” more important developments were happening in Palestine solidarity.

The first is the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation officially endorsed the call for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

The second is the largest union federation in Britain, the Trades Union Congress, also endorsed the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Israeli government.

These votes indicate a shift towards BDS strategies among the progressive and trade unionist Left that is part of a nine year development since the 2nd Intifada began. It could be argued there was an acceleration of this shift since December with the attack on the Gaza ghetto.

What is needed now is a return to the wave of divestment activity that specifically targeted institutions–campus, union and city investments. Support for Israeli apartheid is at the center of U.S. imperialism. Seven million Palestinians live either in bantustans and ghettos, or are in exile, faced with legal and de facto discrimination and segregation. The “peace process” is a sham to legitimize this situation under the watchful eye of a “native administration” in the Palestinian Authority.

The elites are wedded to this regime as a demonstration of their “liberal” credentials. By striking at the link between these institutions of university, union and city, and the apartheid regime, organizers expose its racist and undemocratic character. Finally, this is a an important tactic for the tens of thousands of Arab and Muslim people who have demonstrated and organized during the 2nd Intifada, the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon, and the 2008 attack on the Gaza ghetto. It is on this basis that a new Arab and Muslim movement in this country can form and fight back against white supremacy.
Continue reading More victories against Israeli apartheid