Thursday, August 27, 2009

Welcome Back - DAW's First Event 9/3 at 7:30

****Note - the room has been changed to 126 Friedl!****

Duke Against War invites everyone to our first event, an introduction to the group and brainstorming session about activism at Duke.

The event will be held NEXT THURSDAY at 7:30 p.m. in room 126 of the Friedl building on East campus.

In solidarity,

Duke Against War

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Story about Abuse of Female American soldiers

"They were not exceptions. According to several studies of the US military funded by the Department of Veteran Affairs, 30% of military women are raped while serving, 71% are sexually assaulted, and 90% are sexually harassed."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More Troops to Afghanistan

Obama announced yesterday that he'll send four thousand more troops to Afghanistan, bringing the grand total of troops he's committed to the region in his first two months in office to 21,000.

The local Herald Sun newspaper noted that "there is no timetable for withdrawal, and the White House said it had no estimate yet on how many billions of dollars its plan will cost."

In addition, ABC News has caught wind of the controversy raging in Israel over civilian casualties and the actions of the IDF in the recent siege on Gaza more generally, a significant development.

For a more in-depth report on the Israeli response, check out this article in the Times.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Right Wing in Israel, and the Arab Israeli Response


A couple of things are happening with regard to Israel right now.

First, internationally, people are getting more and more outraged as news of barbarities committing by Israeli soldiers during the recent siege on Gaza becomes known.

Second, within Israel, as the shift to the right continues, people are fighting back. The caption for the above picture on the Financial Times website reads, "Israeli Arab protesters clash with riot police on Tuesday in Umm el-Fahm after a right wing march in the country’s biggest Arab city." At least we know that while Labor joins Netanyahu and Lieberman, those that stand to lose the most if Lieberman's plans are implemented are taking a stand.

Check out coverage of the march in the Jerusalem Post and the Washington Post in particular, which links the Israeli Arab response to this right wing march directly to fears of Israeli Arabs' future under Netanyahu and the coalition he's formed.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Labor Agrees to Form Government with Netanyahu


The New York Times is reporting that Israel's Labor party has voted to join a Netanyahu-led coalition, causing controversy within its ranks.

We should ask ourselves what the implications of this will be for Israeli politics. People have been talking about the slow rightward drift of Israeli politics more frequently in recent days. Now Labor has officially joined a coalition where Avigdor Lieberman will serve as foreign minister. (Check out our previous posts for some of his positions on "foreign affairs.")

The picture above says it all: the day after labor agrees to join the government, "clashes broke out between police and demonstrators in the northern Arab Israeli town of Umm al Fahm after a march by Israeli far-rightists." As the far right is literally on the march in Israel, labor joined one of the most right-wing governments in Israel's history.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Dead Palestinian Babies and Bombed Mosques"



This picture is just one example of a phenomenon in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) that has been gaining in popularity for over a decade - the commission of "unique" shirts and slogans for various IDF units, according to a recent report entitled,"Dead Palestinian Babies and Bombed Mosques: IDF Fashion 2009," in Haaretz. Believe your eyes: it is a pregnant Palestinian woman in crosshairs with the slogan, "One shot, two kills." According to Haaretz, this particularly disgusting t-shirt is "
a sharpshooter's T-shirt from the Givati Brigade's Shaked battalion."

The article puts the shirts in the context of an increasing rightward shift we've mentioned before on this blog.

"Sociologist Dr. Orna Sasson-Levy, of Bar-Ilan University, author of "Identities in Uniform: Masculinities and Femininities in the Israeli Military," said that the phenomenon is "part of a radicalization process the entire country is undergoing, and the soldiers are at its forefront. I think that ever since the second intifada there has been a continual shift to the right. The pullout from Gaza and its outcome - the calm that never arrived - led to a further shift rightward."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Informational Websites

For those interested in learning more about the basics of the situation in Palestine, I recommend the following websites.

Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
B'Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
Palestinian Center for Human Rights

Check them out!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Zionism is the Problem

Hey folks,

it's been a minute since our last publication, and much has happened. To name only a few developments, Netanyahu is struggling to form a government with the far right and defectors from labor. The "most moral army in the world" is reeling, as accounts from Israeli soldiers indicate civilians were targeted during the recent siege on Gaza. Quote from an Israeli squad commander: “What’s great about Gaza — you see a person on a path, he doesn’t have to be armed, you can simply shoot him. In our case it was an old woman on whom I did not see any weapon when I looked. The order was to take down the person, this woman, the minute you see her. There are always warnings, there is always the saying, ‘Maybe he’s a terrorist.’ What I felt was, there was a lot of thirst for blood.”

And finally, a recent editorial in the LA Times had a title that said a thousand words, "Zionism is the Problem."

On March 31, Duke Against War is hosting Duke law professor John Dugard. He'll talk about a people-to-people foreign policy, and what boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns can achieve against Israeli apartheid. We hope to see everyone out there.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Israel is an Apartheid State

This week is Israeli Apartheid week. The blog Jews sans frontieres posted a number of links today about how appropriate the term "apartheid" is when applied to Israel. Since this also came up yesterday when we were fliering, it seemed like a good idea to provide the link.

An excerpt from the group "Stop the Wall" describing what Jews sans frontieres calls "the very core of the analogy" follows. Folks should check out the links provided by Jews sans frontieres for excellent information on this topic.

Apartheid was known as “colonialism of a special type” because of the fact that it was a colonial project in which the colonizer sought to permanently settle in the colonized land and replace the indigenous population, and where the “ruler” was not somewhere in Europe but occupying the same territory. The Zionist project is a European construct, born out of European nationalism expressed in nation-statehood during the era of colonialism. The Palestinian struggle for liberation is in essence an anti-colonial struggle. Inherent within any colonial project is a racist, Euro-centric worldview; but the racism is magnified in this “special” kind of colonialism, or Apartheid. Denying the very human existence of Palestinians with the Zionist adage of “a land without a people for a people without a land”, Zionist racial separation intends to use intolerant xenophobic policies and practice as a means to expel Palestinian Arabs from their homeland, defining them as a “demographic threat.” Racism under the Jewish State is both by law and by practice. Envisaged as a state for Jews, that is, a state of which every Jewish individual throughout the world would be a potential citizen, it became imperative for its legislative body, the Knesset to immediately define in law those persons who would qualify as actual or potential citizens, and those who would be excluded - that is, non-Jews in general, and Palestinian Arabs in particular. In 1950 the Israeli Knesset passed two laws: the Law of Return, defining the boundaries of inclusion ('every Jew has the right to immigrate into the country') and the Absentee Property Law, defining the boundaries of exclusion ('absentee'), i.e. Palestinians. Under these laws, every Jew throughout the world is legally entitled to become a citizen of the “state of Israel” upon immigration into the country. In 1952, the Knesset passed the World Zionist Organization-Jewish Agency (Status) Law, which gave exclusive rights to Israelis of "Jewish nationality," including the right to purchase land. Jewish institutions such as the Jewish National Fund were prohibited by law to sell the land they “owned” in “Israel”-some 97 percent-to non-Jews and were enjoined to hold all land "for the whole Jewish people." Today the Jewish National Fund, a member of the World Zionist Organisation, administers 93% of the “land of Israel” the vast majority of which was Palestinian-owned property that was gradually confiscated in the years since 1948. Such laws parallel to the Apartheid South Africa Natives Land Act, No 27 of 1913 and The Natives (Urban Areas) Act of 1923, making it illegal for blacks to purchase or lease land from whites except in reserves and restricting black occupancy to less than eight per cent of South Africa's land. The Jewish State issuance of identity cards based on race—their defining and indicating race in the ID and basing the ID policy on racial classification, is similar to the Apartheid South African Population Registration Act, Act No 30 of 1950 where a national register was created in which every person's race was recorded. A Race Classification Board took the final decision on what a person's race was in disputed cases. Natives (Abolition of Passes and Co-ordination of Documents) Act, Act No 67 of 1952, commonly known as the Pass Laws, forced black people to carry identification with them at all times. A pass included a photograph, details of place of origin, employment record, tax payments, and encounters with the police. It was a criminal offence to be unable to produce a pass when required to do so by the police. No black person could leave a rural area for an urban one without a permit from the local authorities. The idea of “two races” or “two people” is one of the basic components of the racist colonial project, as the establishment of a “Jewish People” is a construct and tool of the Zionist project to legitimize it and to define the very real target of its racism.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Liberal Profile of Avigdor Lieberman

Chris Hitchens recently wrote a profile of Avigdor Lieberman for the online magazine Slate. He is quick to point out the racist nature of Lieberman's party, Yisrael Beitenu, noting that Lieberman has called for the execution of Arab members of Parliament that meet with Hamas, has demanded that Palestinian prisoners be drowned in the Dead Sea, and whose supporters have chanted "Death to Arabs" at rallies.

In addition, Hitchens notes how Lieberman's position undermines the notion of an exclusive Jewish right to the land of Palestine. He says, "Avigdor Lieberman's essentially totalitarian and Inquisitionist style, though, may be even more manifest in his insistence that non-Zionist haredim, or pious Jews, also either take an oath of loyalty or forfeit their citizenship. This takes the ax to the root of the idea that Jews have a presence in Jerusalem from time immemorial and that their resulting rights are not derived from, or dependent on, any state or any ideology."

In other words, Lieberman's position distinguishes not between Jews and non-Jews, but between Zionists and non-Zionists. Jews that do not support the state and ruling class of Israel (a working definition of Zionism) should be denied citizenship. This implies that non-Jews that do support the state of Israel, like the notorious anti-Semite Jerry Falwell, have more of a claim to citizenship than Jews. Needless to say, such sentiments smash the notion of a Jewish-only state to pieces.

As we have said before, Lieberman's position is no aberration, though Hitchens might wish it was. Rather, it is a natural outgrowth of a slow rightward drift that has occurred in Israeli politics over the past 15 or more years. While Hitchens might wish to return to a "kinder, gentler" version of liberal Zionism, liberal Zionism began not with a position justice for the Palestinian people, but of the right to elect their own prison wardens (the Oslo process).

In conclusion, the choice between liberal Zionism and Avigdor Lieberman is a false one. We need not choose either. Rather, we may choose a people-to-people foreign policy, where local movements for justice, liberation, and democracy intersect with international movements for the same.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

ACTION ALERT: Hampshire Admin threatens Re-Investment!

Note from Hampshire SJP on the administration bowing to pressure from Zionists to re-invest in companies doing business with Israel. The struggle is far from over, and they need our support!

Dear supporters,

After the initial response from the Administration which attempted to downplay and de-politicize the divestment move to the press, things have gotten worse.

Due to pressure from Alan Dershowitz and Abraham Foxman from the Anti-Defamation League, President of the college Ralph Hexter is caving in.

Dershowitz has made demands of Hexter, including he publicly discredit SJP. So far, Hexter has complied, as he is being bribed with a "large donation" to the college from Dershowtiz. Now, the Administration is threatening to re-invest in two of the companies we divested from: Terex and Motorola, to appease Dershowitz and others.

Sign this letter to Ralph Hexter, keep Hampshire College free of investments in the Israeli occupation!

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/641/t/2439/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=26737

Thanks for your support, keep the pressure on and the movement strong!

Solidarity,

Hampshire SJP

Friday, February 27, 2009

What We're Up Against

A recent unsigned and hence "official" editorial in the Duke Chronicle exhorts us to "Take Back student activism." The article discusses the recent occupation of NYU by a group of students there.

While the article makes a couple of substantive critiques, noting that some groups in the Take Back NYU coalition weren't even informed of the takeover or included in the drafting of its demands, the editorial itself comes not from a position of sympathy, but one of hostility. In fact, it concludes that "this is not the model of student activism that we should look up to."

It also seems to bear the imprint of administrative anxiety about the potential for similar actions to catch on at Duke. It suggests that "In contrast to the 70s, there now exist many channels of communication between students and the administration." I'm sure the Duke administration couldn't agree more - less action, more dialogue.

But perhaps the most reactionary moment in the editorial comes when it denounces "several extreme demands [that] diluted the legitimacy and power of Take Back's general platform." The demands it finds extreme include "13 scholarships per year for students from Palestine, an acknowledgement of the right of graduate students to unionize and public access to the NYU library."

That's right, the editorial actually openly opposes solidarity with Palestinians following the recent devastation wrought by Israel in Gaza, the right to unionize, and public access to a university library!

Following shortly after the observation that "our generation is often [rightly] criticized for its complacency," one begins to wonder what the Chronicle staff thinks our generation's mission is, if not a broad-based movement for social justice for ALL oppressed people. Presumably they prefer the continued domination of the few by the many. They certainly oppose militant direct action to defend and extend our right as Duke students and members of the Duke community to directly control our community's affairs.

It's true that we need to "take back" student activism. But we need to take it back from both the conservative "go slow" approach of the Chronicle, as well as the flawed-yet-inspiring example of NYU students.

As the young organizers of SNCC used to say, we need to engage in "slow, patient work." Doing so will make our actions in the world more likely to succeed.

Monday, February 23, 2009

How to Support Divestment at Hampshire College

(What follows is a letter posted by Hampshire SJP about how folks can support their struggle.)

Dear Supporters,

Over the last 48 hours, there has been a huge response from students, parents, journalists, activists, public figures, political organizations, and individuals such as yourselves from across the country and the world congratulating us for our historic achievement this week. We are impressed and heartened by your passion in supporting us in this exciting campaign.

There have been many developments since SJP went public with the divestment, so it might be hard to keep track of the flurry of updates that have been published all over the internet. Please visit our website for the most recent statements (http://www.hsjp.org/). Also, Phillip Weiss's blog (http://www.philipweiss.org/) is a particularly good resource, as he's been following the events closely.

Your support so far has been so helpful, especially since we've been working non-stop since we broke the news. There's so much more to be done, so we've come up with a few specific ways to demonstrate your solidarity with SJP and the movement. Here they are:

1) E-mail the administration and the President to voice your concern over their refusal to own up to the divestment decision. Express your disappointment that President Hexter has done nothing to condemn Alan Dershowitz's threatening phone calls to SJP's spokespeople (see update on website). Forward your letters of congratulations that you sent to us to them too. Make sure they know that divestment is not just a college—it's a movement!

A script is attached to the end of this e-mail as a guide if you would like to use it.

Contact:

Ralph Hexter (President): rhexter@hampshire.edu

President's Office: 413-559-5521

2) Hampshire's endowment is very small which means that most of the college's year-to-year operating budget comes from tuition fees. For those who have donated, your contributions are greatly appreciated and important as the school is already in a troubled financial state. What we would like you to do for now is e-mail us every time you make a donation with the amount and your name so we can keep track of the funds and the support network. If you haven't donated already, here's the link:

https://alumni.hampshire.edu/giving/waysToGive/giveOnline.aspx

3) Contribute to our video series, "Voices of Divestment." We are trying to show the world that this isn't about a small group of activists, but a wide range of people from all different walks of life. We would like you to make short 30-second to 1-minute clips and send them to us by uploading the video to YouTube and emailing us the link.

Keep them informal, but stay passionate! Improvise. We want to hear why you support divestment in your own words.

Check out existing videos here: http://www.hsjp.org/voices-of-divestment/

Or alternatively: http://voicesofdivestment.wordpress.com/

4) Build momentum! This isn't just about us; we've been getting a lot of e-mails about help and advice for starting similar BDS campaigns at other schools, and this is one of the most important ways you can help. If the BDS movement spreads rapidly, it will become clear to the public and the media that this is not just a local administrative dispute, but that we have finally reached a critical threshold in the United States.

Many groups and individuals have contacted us asking about going on speaking tours and giving trainings for campus divestment movements. We are very excited about the prospects of helping to spread divestment to many campuses and are investigating the logistics of how to make this happen. For now if you are interested in hosting us for a speaking tour in some capacity, please email us at HampshireSJP@gmail.com with the subject "SPEAKING"

http://www.hsjp.org

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=55085942212

Script:
Hello, my name is _____. I am calling/e-mailing to express my congratulations to Hampshire College for your historic decision to divest from the Israeli Occupation. This move should be an example to all institutions of higher learning across the world.

However, I am disappointed that the administration has been trying to distance itself from the decision and de-politicize the powerful statement that divestment sends. In your response to the Student's public campaign, you have repeatedly insisted that the divestment decision had a "variety of reasons" for going through, and that it had no regional or political significance. However, the length & intensity of the campaign that the Students for Justice in Palestine have run makes it clear that it was their efforts that brought this divestment to the table. I sincerely hope that you will reconsider your position on divestment and express your support for the students’ efforts in an official statement soon.

Lastly, your failure to condemn the threats Alan Dershowitz has made towards SJP’s spokespeople is deplorable. Dershowitz has called for a boycott on the College and you have still maintained your "neutral" position, hurting the students, the college, and yourself. I urge you to protect your students and their right to speak out on this monumental occasion.

Thank you.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Update on NYU Occupation


Check out the NY Times coverage of the occupation here.

Also, here is the website of the group conducting the occupation. Folks might also want to check out the New School student website here. These are the same folks that conducted a successful sit in a month or so ago at the New School in NYC. Finally, check out the Washington Square News, NYU's paper, for up-to-the-minute updates.

If you're interested in supporting them, they have a facebook group. Check it out!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Next Meeting

Our next general meeting will be Tuesday (February 24th) 7:00 pm in 107 Friedl, Duke East Campus. We'll spend sometime discussing the following two readings before moving onto other matters:

"You and the Atomic Bomb," by George Orwell, October 1945:
http://www.telelib.com/words/authors/O/OrwellGeorge/essay/misc/atomicbomb.html

Introduction, "Beyond Resistance: Everything--An Interview with
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos," by El Kilombo (entire text available
online but just read the introduction)
http://www.elkilombo.org/documents/beyondresistance.pdf

NYU BUILDING TAKEOVER!!!

(Important development from NYU)

At approximately 10pm tonight (Feb. 18), students of Take Back NYU! took over the Kimmel Marketplace. They have blockaded the doors and declared an occupation! They presented their demands to the NYU administration. They read as follows:

DEMANDS

We, the students of NYU, declare an occupation of this space. This occupation is the culmination of a two-year campaign by the Take Back NYU! coalition, and of campaigns from years past, in whose footsteps we follow.

In order to create a more accountable, democratic and socially responsible university, we demand the following:

1. Full legal and disciplinary amnesty for all parties involved in the occupation.

2. Full compensation for all employees whose jobs were disrupted during the course of the occupation.

3. Public release of NYU's annual operating budget, including a full list of university expenditures, salaries for all employees compensated on a semester or annual basis, funds allocated for staff wages, contracts to non-university organizations for university construction and services, financial aid data for each college, and money allocated to each college, department, and administrative unit of the university. Furthermore, this should include a full disclosure of the amount and sources of the university's funding.

4. Disclosure of NYU's endowment holdings, investment strategy, projected endowment growth, and persons, corporations and firms involved in the investment of the university's endowment funds. Additionally, we demand an endowment oversight body of students, faculty and staff who exercise shareholder proxy voting power for the university's investments.

5. That the NYU Administration agrees to resume negotiations with GSOC/UAW Local 2110 – the union for NYU graduate assistants, teaching assistants, and research assistants. That NYU publically affirm its commitment to respect all its workers, including student employees, by recognizing their right to form unions and to bargain collectively. That NYU publically affirm that it will recognize workers' unions through majority card verification.

6. That NYU signs a contract guaranteeing fair labor practices for all NYU employees at home and abroad. This contract will extend to subcontracted workers, including bus drivers, food service employees and anyone involved in the construction, operation and maintenance at any of NYU's non-U.S. sites.

7. The establishment of a student elected Socially Responsible Finance Committee. This Committee will have full power to vote on proxies, draft shareholder resolutions, screen all university investments, establish new programs that encourage social and environmental responsibility and override all financial decisions the committee deems socially irresponsible, including investment decisions. The committee will be composed of two subcommittees: one to assess the operating budget and one to assess the endowment holdings. Each committee will be composed of ten students democratically elected from the graduate and under-graduate student bodies. All committee decisions will be made a strict majority vote, and will be upheld by the university. All members of the Socially Responsible Finance Committee will sit on the board of trustees, and will have equal voting rights. All Socially Responsible Finance Committee and Trustee meetings shall be open to the public, and their minutes made accessible electronically through NYU's website. Elections will be held the second Tuesday of every March beginning March 10th 2009, and meetings will be held biweekly beginning the week of March 30th 2009.

8. That the first two orders of business of the Socially Responsible Finance committee will be:
a) An in depth investigation of all investments in war and genocide profiteers, as well as companies profiting from the occupation of Palestinian territories.
b) A reassessment of the recently lifted of the ban on Coca Cola products.

9. That annual scholarships be provided for thirteen Palestinian students, starting with the 2009/2010 academic year. These scholarships will include funding for books, housing, meals and travel expenses.

10. That the university donate all excess supplies and materials in an effort to rebuild the University of Gaza.

11. Tuition stabilization for all students, beginning with the class of 2012. All students will pay their initial tuition rate throughout the course of their education at New York University. Tuition rates for each successive year will not exceed the rate of inflation, nor shall they exceed one percent. The university shall meet 100% of government-calculated student financial need.

12. That student groups have priority when reserving space in the buildings owned or leased by New York University, including, and especially, the Kimmel Center.

13. That the general public have access to Bobst Library.

Along with this, students have issued a

SOLIDARITY STATEMENT

We, the students of Take Back NYU! declare our solidarity with the student [sleepovers] in Greece,
Italy, and the United Kingdom, as well as those of the University of
Rochester, the New School for Social Research, and with future
[sleepovers] to come in the name of democracy and student power. We stand
in solidarity with the University of Gaza, and with the people of
Palestine.

Afghanistan and Terror - Old Patterns Emerge

Some important developments regarding war in Afghanistan and the broader war on terror.

First, Obama plans to send 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan. The top American commander in Afghanistan stressed, following the announcement of the troop increase, that this “is not a temporary force uplift.” These troops were part of a build-up that is there for the long term - as long as five years. As we have pointed out numerous times on this blog, this is a ratcheting up of "the good war" that antiwar activists must oppose on principle.

Regarding the war on terror, while Obama "thrilled civil liberties groups" with early moves to end some of the Bush administration's most egregious crimes against "suspected terrorists," more recently, and quietly, his position has changed. The NY Times notes that,

"In little-noticed confirmation testimony recently, Obama nominees endorsed continuing the C.I.A's program of transferring prisoners to other countries without legal rights, and indefinitely detaining terrorism suspects without trials even if they were arrested far from a war zone.

The administration has also embraced the Bush legal team’s arguments that a lawsuit by former C.I.A. detainees should be shut down based on the “state secrets” doctrine. It has also left the door open to resuming military commission trials.

And earlier this month, after a British court cited pressure by the United States in declining to release information about the alleged torture of a detainee in American custody, the Obama administration issued a statement thanking the British government “for its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security information.”

Perhaps most telling is the fact that outspoken defenders of Bush's policies on the war on terror are delighted by the continuities between Bush and Obama's prosecution of it. According to the Times, an editorial last Friday in the Wall Street Journal argued that " 'it seems that the Bush administration's antiterror architecture is gaining new legitimacy' as Mr. Obama's team embraces aspects of Mr. Bush's counterterrorism approach.

All this simply means that antiwar activists have our work cut out for us.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gaza Teach In Tonight

Gaza Teach-In his Wednesday, Feb. 18th at 7 pm, in Soc. Pysch classroom 130, Duke Campus.

- Laila El-Haddad is a freelance journalist from Gaza. Her blog, "Raising Yousuf and Noor: Diary of a Palestinian Mother,"
explores the complex relationships between the personal and the political as she raises her children while negotiating
displacement and occupation. http://a-mother-from-gaza.blogspot.com/

- Rann Bar-On is an Israeli activist and graduate student at Duke University. He has worked with the International Solidarity
Movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Rann advocates for an end to the Occupation and resistance to militaristic
Israeli government policies. He is especially interested in the Shministim - a group of Israeli high-school students who are
imprisoned for daring to refuse to serve in Israel's occupying army.

-Dr. miriam cooke is a Professor of Arabic in the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Department. She also co-teaches a class on
the Arab-Israeli conflict through literature and film in the fall. Dr. cooke is also the Education Director of Duke's Islamic
Studies Center.

- Abdullah Antepli is Duke's first Muslim Chaplain. Apart from being a Chaplain, he teaches courses on introductory Islam in
Duke's Divinity School. Antepli has also worked on a variety of faith based humanitarian and relief projects in Myanmar
(Burma) and Malaysia with the Association of Social and Economic Solidarity with Pacific Countries.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

TONIGHT!

Join us tonight, Tuesday February 17, 7pm in the Duke Coffeehouse! Duke Against War will be looking at the U.S. war in Afghanistan through a feminist lens. Has the U.S. saved Afghan women from the Taliban? What is the status of Afghan women's safety, education, and political freedom? What will Obama's plans for increased troops to Afghanistan mean for women? There will be a presentation on these issues, followed by discussion. Some brief readings, articles, and videos are available for those who wish to learn more beforehand:

Excerpt from Chapter 19 “Updating the Gendered Empire: Where are the Women in occupied Iraq and Afghanistan?” in The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire by Cynthia Enloe, 2004, University of California Press. Get pdf here.

Laura Bush Radio Address, November 17, 2001.

Video of Laura Bush speech, November 2006 (1 min).

Radio interview with Eman of RAWA on Uprising Radio, November 13, 2008.

"Lives on the Line." Ms. Magazine, Winter 2009. Get pdf here.

President Obama on Afghanistan, Press Conference, February 9, 2009.

Hampshire Divestment

Hampshire College Students and Official Argue Over Divestment Decision

A dispute has emerged between officials at Hampshire College and student organizers over the school’s recent decision to divest from a mutual fund run by State Street Global Advisors. Activists with the group Students for Justice in Palestine said the move came after it had pressured Hampshire’s Board of Trustees to divest from six companies that provide the Israeli military with equipment and services in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza. Hampshire College officials admit they reviewed the State Street fund after receiving a petition from the group, but the school said the divestment decision “did not pertain to a political movement or single out businesses active in a specific region or country.” The trustees said they divested from the fund after learning the fund held stocks in more than 200 companies engaged in business practices that violated the college’s policy on "socially responsible investments.” The six companies that formed the basis of the student group’s complaints were Caterpillar, United Technologies, General Electric, ITT Corporation, Motorola and Terex. Students for Justice in Palestine are hailing the divestment decision as a major victory. They say Hampshire has become the first college in the country to break financial ties with companies specifically because they do business with Israel. In 1977, Hampshire became the first college in the nation to divest its South African holdings.

from DemocracyNow.org



Monday, February 16, 2009

Gaza Teach In this Wednesday!

Gaza Teach-In his Wednesday, Feb. 18th at 7 pm, in Soc. Pysch classroom 130.

- Laila El-Haddad is a freelance journalist from Gaza. Her blog, "Raising Yousuf and Noor: Diary of a Palestinian Mother,"
explores the complex relationships between the personal and the political as she raises her children while negotiating
displacement and occupation. http://a-mother-from-gaza.blogspot.com/

- Rann Bar-On is an Israeli activist and graduate student at Duke University. He has worked with the International Solidarity
Movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Rann advocates for an end to the Occupation and resistance to militaristic
Israeli government policies. He is especially interested in the Shministim - a group of Israeli high-school students who are
imprisoned for daring to refuse to serve in Israel's occupying army.

-Dr. miriam cooke is a Professor of Arabic in the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Department. She also co-teaches a class on
the Arab-Israeli conflict through literature and film in the fall. Dr. cooke is also the Education Director of Duke's Islamic
Studies Center.

- Abdullah Antepli is Duke's first Muslim Chaplain. Apart from being a Chaplain, he teaches courses on introductory Islam in
Duke's Divinity School. Antepli has also worked on a variety of faith based humanitarian and relief projects in Myanmar
(Burma) and Malaysia with the Association of Social and Economic Solidarity with Pacific Countries.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Some news

So Hamas says it may be on the verge of an 18-month ceasefire. A prisoner exchange may be in the deal, something Israel has said is a precondition. We'll see if this goes anywhere.

Iraq's Minister of Women's Affairs has resigned, saying that lo and behold, the Shi'a fundamentalist government is not giving her Ministry adequate support. She is Sunni, which may also be a factor.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The "Good War" ? A Feminist Look at Afghanistan

Join us this Tuesday February 17, 7pm in the Duke Coffeehouse! Duke Against War will be looking at the U.S. war in Afghanistan through a feminist lens. Has the U.S. saved Afghan women from the Taliban? What is the status of Afghan women's safety, education, and political freedom? What will Obama's plans for increased troops to Afghanistan mean for women? There will be a presentation on these issues, followed by discussion. Some brief readings, articles, and videos are available for those who wish to learn more beforehand:

Excerpt from Chapter 19 “Updating the Gendered Empire: Where are the Women in occupied Iraq and Afghanistan?” in The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire by Cynthia Enloe, 2004, University of California Press. Get pdf here.

Laura Bush Radio Address, November 17, 2001.

Video of Laura Bush speech, November 2006 (1 min).

Radio interview with Eman of RAWA on Uprising Radio, November 13, 2008.

"Lives on the Line." Ms. Magazine, Winter 2009. Get pdf here.

President Obama on Afghanistan, Press Conference, February 9, 2009.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hampshire College Divests!

Hampshire College has become the first college in the U.S. to divest from Israeli apartheid.

Congratulations to Hampshire College SJP for all the work they've done to make this dream a reality!

Check out the group's website for more info or to congratulate them yourself!

Far Right Gains in Israeli Elections

The openly racist Yisrael Beitenu party won 15 seats in Israel elections Tuesday. With Likud grabbing 27, Kadima 28, and the ultra-orthodox Shas party 11, it is increasingly likely that Likud will form a government with Yisrael Beitenu and Shas. This bodes very, very ill for Palestinians within Israel as well as in the West Bank and Gaza. Yisrael Beitenu has suggested Palestinians in Israel take a loyalty oath, and promised "no citizenship without loyalty." Netanyahu, head of Likud, has supported expanding West Bank settlements, and said recently that the war in Gaza ended too soon and didn't go far enough.(Netanyahu was also part of a right-wing rebellion against Ariel Sharon when Sharon sought to disengage from Gaza in 2005.)

(Those interested in a very in-depth analysis of political parties in Israel should consult Jews sans frontieres' primer on Israeli elections.)

What is clear is that these elections represent a significant shift to the right among the Israeli people.

In addition, still more voices are joining the chorus proclaiming the possibilities of a two-state solution dead. Juan Cole recently declared as much, and none other than Stephen Walt, of "The Israel Lobby" fame and no wild-eyed radical by any means, wrote an editorial in Foreign Policy online magazine asking "what do we do if the two state solution collapses?"

As always, a picture is worth a thousand words. The one accompanying this article says it all: Univesity College London, bedecked with a Palestinian flag by militant students. In the US, students at the University of Rochester recently occupied a building in solidarity with Palestine, and won significant demands. Palestine solidarity activism is sweeping across the UK and Canada, and it looks like it is coming to the US as well. Militant young folks are providing the answers policy wonks like Cole and Walt fail to imagine - direct, people-to-people solidarity with Palestine, standing up to the powerful interests of the status quo.

Free Palestine!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Case Against the "Good War"

Here are a couple articles on Afghanistan that might be helpful for folks to check out as we prepare for our event coming up next Tuesday.

1. Jonathan Neale, "Afghanistan: The Case Against the 'Good War'"
2. Tariq Ali, "Afghanistan, Mirage of the Good War"

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

South African Dock Workers Boycott Israeli Ships

This from DemocracyNow.org:

As Israel blocks aid ships from reaching Gaza, dock workers in South Africa are refusing to unload Israeli goods at their ports. The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union says it will no longer unload Israeli ships in solidarity with Palestinians. Last year, South African dock workers refused to unload a Zimbabwe weapons shipment in protest of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Palestine Solidarity in Canada on the Rise

Check out an important article discussing the development of the Palestine solidarity movement in Canada over the past few years. It discusses the development of the apartheid analysis of Israel, along with the Zionist response, both right wing and liberal (the liberal response, the article notes, is "dialogue"), as well as the movement's growth beyond university campuses into communities and high schools.

This is definitely an encouraging sign and it is worth asking how this history compares to that of the Palestine solidarity movement in the US.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Netanyahu eases toward Lieberman's position

So, builiding on the last post.

Lieberman and Yisrael Beitanu are polling third before Tuesday's elections, according to the NY Times. But the frontrunner is not looking much different. Ha'aretz reports that Netanyahu has backed Lieberman's anti-Arab campaign as "legitimate." This is the man who will likely be the next Prime Minister.

Just to reiterate what Mike said: divest, boycott, sanction.

Transfer of Palestinians in Israel a Possibility

The Wall Street Journal is reporting troubling news. It looks like Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party are gaining in polls, currently running third to Likud and Kadima. The Journal notes that this puts Yisrael Beiteinu in the position of being "kingmaker of Israeli politics when it comes time to negotiate a coalition government after the vote."

This is very troubling, considering a couple of Yisrael Beiteinu's stated policies. Again, according to the WSJ, "a central tenet in Mr. Lieberman's campaign is a proposal to redraw Israel's borders to transfer most of the country's 1.2 million Arab citizens to Palestinian control, in exchange for land in the West Bank occupied by Jewish settlers. He also wants to make it mandatory for Israeli citizens to take an oath of loyalty in order to get citizenship, the right to vote, and social services."

The article also notes that such positions are not new. In the '80s, Meir Kahane was elected to the Knesset on a similar platform. The difference is that Israeli society has moved far to the right since then, so much so that Tzipi Livni, leader of Kadima, "said in December that if elected she would tell Israel's Arab citizens "your national aspirations lie elsewhere," comments widely interpreted as an endorsement of Mr. Lieberman's plan to transfer Israel's Arabs to Palestinian control."

In other words, transfer of the Palestinians in Israel is going to be a real possibility following the upcoming elections February 10.

Divestment from this racist state is needed now more than ever.

Friday, February 6, 2009

CBS Declares Two State Solution Dead

Over at the blog Mondoweiss, they posted the following video from "60 Minutes" arguing that Israel has 3 options before it - ethnic cleansing, apartheid or democracy.



Here's a key excerpt that the folks from Mondoweiss highlighted, as well as some of their analysis.

Demographers predict that within ten years Arabs will outnumber Jews in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Without a separate Palestinian state the Israelis would have three options, none of them good. They could try ethnic cleansing, drive the Palestinians out of the West Bank, or they could give the Palestinians the vote. That would be the democratic option but it would mean the end of the Jewish state. Or they could try apartheid - have the minority Israelis rule the majority Palestinians, but apartheid regimes don't have a very long life.

"Unfortunately, and I have to say to you that apartheid is already in place," Dr. Barghouti argued.

Apartheid? Israel is building what it calls a security wall between the West Bank and Israel. The Palestinians are furious because it appropriates eight percent of the West Bank. Not only that. It weaves its way through Palestinian farms, separating farmers from their land. They have to wait at gates for soldiers to let them in. Settlers get a lot more water than Palestinians, which is why settlements are green and Arab areas are not.

Moderate Israelis who deplore the occupation used to believe passionately in a two-state solution. That is no longer the case.

Meron Benvenisti used to be deputy mayor of Jerusalem. He told Simon the prospects of the two-state solution becoming a reality are "nil."

"The geopolitical condition that’s been created in '67 is irreversible. Cannot be changed. You cannot unscramble that egg," he explained.


Mondoweiss continued:

"What made the piece so good is that it did not equivocate. It did not excuse the Israeli occupation as an "unfortunate necessity guided by security concerns". It did not blame Hamas or Palestinian governance for a plan successive Israeli governments have been carrying out for over 40 years (if not longer). Instead, it showed a family in Nablus who can't leave their home while its taken over by Israeli soldiers. It showed a man fighting to protect his home from demolition in Jerusalem. It juxtaposed the verdant green lawns of a settler community with the parched starved landscape of the Palestinian West Bank. And while Tzipi Livni swoops in at the end to tell the world they have nothing to worry about, that the Israeli government has this under control, settler Daniella Weiss displays a supreme arrogance and confidence to end the story that tells you all you need to know - she doesn't plan on going anywhere.

As I watched it I was slightly frustrated that it didn't deal with Gaza, or Jerusalem (the settler population is over 500,000 with Jerusalem, not the 280,000 in the story), or the refugees. But then I realized that that is part of what made it so powerful. Those are the "difficult" issues that are supposedly always standing in the way of peace. Here was the "easy" issue of the illegal Israeli settlers, and Simon was saying that that alone has torpedoed the two-state possibility. Israel has made the two-state solution impossible.

When the two-state solution was first raised in the early 1970s it was a radical notion. Golda Meir wouldn't even acknowledge that Palestinians existed, let alone deserve a state. But the idea slowly built credibility, then gained official endorsements, and now represents political common sense. How many news stories include the passage "the basic parameters of an eventual peace deal have been known for some time . . ." and then goes on to describe a two-state solution? Two states have been assumed, it was just a matter of a little land here, some more walls there. Tonight, 60 Minutes put an end to all that. Everything is back on the table. Even better they laid out three options for the future: ethnic cleansing, apartheid or democracy. Which one do you think the world is going to support?"

Thursday, February 5, 2009

US Out of Central Asia

It looks like the Kyrgyz and Russian elites are collaborating to make the US's war plans in Afghanistan more difficult. A recent NY Times article reports that the Kyrgyz president ordered a US base at Manas, in Kyrgyzstan closed, and the Kyrgyz parliament is expected to second the decision.

This means that "the Obama administration" is going to have to "come up with an alternative to a crucial United States air base in Central Asia, used to supply the growing military operation in Afghanistan." The article underscored the importance of the base by noting that "about 15,000 personnel and 500 tons of cargo pass through Manas each month. The base is also the home of large tanker aircraft that are used for in-air refueling of fighter planes on combat missions over Afghanistan."

Russia is presumed to play a key role in the move. The article noted that it "was using an offer of more than $2 billion in loans and grants to Kyrgyzstan to force the United States out of the region" In short, a State Department official summarized the situation by saying that "fundamentally it comes to money, and the Russians are trying to buy us out."

This is the latest episode in an ongoing, subtle chess match between the US and Russia throughout Central Asia and Central and Eastern Europe, extending all the way back to the fall of the Soviet Union, and more recently including the "color" revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyztan, as well as the recent rumblings about independence for Kosovo and the semi-autonomous regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia within Georgia.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network Statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Important statement from the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network on Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2009

How does the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow!...

She weeps sore into the night, and her tears are on her cheeks:
among all who loved her she has none to comfort her.
(Book of Lamentations)

Last week, after murdering 1400 people – of whom 400 were children – after bombing hospitals and mosques, schools, universities and humanitarian supplies, and tens of thousand of homes, Israel declared a cease-fire. A shameful parade of European leaders immediately went to Jerusalem to embrace the mass murderers and to pledge their support for the continuing siege of Gaza.

The primary purpose of this massacre was to break the spirit of the Palestinian people until they surrender and accept their fate as lesser human beings. As former Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon said in 2002, "The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people." European leaders support this goal, as did previous U.S. administrations, as do the ruling elites of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi-Arabia, despite the fury of their peoples. We wait to see if the freshly inaugurated Obama Administration will break with sixty long years of attack on the Palestinian people armed and financed by the U.S. and Europe.

We grieve with the people of Gaza. We see the faces of the children, of the women and the men; we hear their voices. We also hear the silence of the leaders of Western countries, intermittently broken by evasive platitudes. And we are reminded of the time when the world turned a blind eye while our forebears, our families, were slaughtered.

100,000 Palestinians were made homeless in Gaza this month. Most of them became refugees in 1948 when they were expelled at gunpoint from their towns and villages. Now they are homeless again, even in their land of exile, and at risk of being driven out from Palestine altogether.

Yet on January 27, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the leaders of the U.S. and Europe will be joined in honoring the memory of our dead. Even as we seek to remember and to honor the immensity of that loss, we struggle to find words to convey the hypocrisy of these ceremonies, in which those who are silent today pay homage to the victims of yesterday's silence.

The radical Jewish writer Walter Benjamin, who died while fleeing the Nazis, wrote, "not even the dead will be safe from the enemy, if he is victorious. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious." The Third Reich was defeated, and yet, "the enemy has not ceased to be victorious." Racism, mass murder, and genocide continue to be accepted tools of statecraft. Even our dead are not safe. They have been called up, disturbed, dredged from their mass graves and forced to testify against their fellow human beings in pain, to confess a hatred that was alien to them and to offer themselves up as justification for a new cycle of suffering in Palestine. Their ghosts have been enlisted to help displace fellow Jews from Arab homelands, and to bequeath to them that same alien hatred, conscripting those of us descending from Arab lands to become enemies of our own memory and past.

The Jewish British MP Gerald Kaufman spoke in anguish while the massacres in Gaza were taking place: "My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza." We share and echo that refusal. Let not the memory of Jews murdered by the Nazi regime serve as cover for the attempted destruction of the Palestinian people!

Although the guns are relatively silent, this genocidal assault on the Palestinian people isn't over. The siege, the lack of food and fresh water, the disease-threatening broken sewage system, and economic collapse and humanitarian crisis persist in Gaza with the full support of the U.S., Europe and the Egyptian government. As the siege of Gaza continues, so does the slow ethnic cleansing of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the home demolitions, the building of the apartheid wall, the settlement build-up, the economic devastation of the towns and villages strangled by checkpoints, the assault on Palestinian neighborhoods in Jaffa, Akka, Lydda, the Galilee and the Negev, the mass imprisonment of Palestinians (over 11,000), and all the large and small ways by which Israel is seeking to crush the spirit and erase the presence of the Palestinian people in their homeland.

Faced with the threat of annihilation in Europe, Jews resisted. From ghettos to concentration camps and within countries under occupation, Jews led resistance to the Nazi regime. Today, from the ghetto of Gaza to the Bantustans of the West Bank and from the neighborhoods of Jaffa and Akka to cities across the globe, Palestinians resist Israel's attempt to destroy them as a people. On January 27th, honoring the memory of our dead is for us inseparable from honoring more than sixty years of Palestinian survival and resistance. Only when the Palestinian people regain their freedom will the dead rest safely. Then we will all celebrate another victory for life.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Democracy in Kenya?

The New York Times reports on allegations that the US government-funded International Republican Institute deliberately withheld poll results that the US disliked in Kenya in late 2007. The poll suggested that Raila Odinga, who was disfavored by the U.S., may have had more support than the announced victor, Mwai Kibaki. This alleged suppression of information would have obstructed the accountability of the electoral process to the Kenyan people. This, in turn, may have contributed to widespread post-election violence.

The US State Department immediately recongized Kibaki after the Electoral Commission announced this result, although there remained serious allegations of fraud, including some charges by the US envoy.

The article quotes the IRI East Africa Director, Kenneth Flottman, as saying:

“It was clear, in my opinion, that the ambassador was trying to influence the perceptions of the Kenyan electorate, and thus the campaign.”

Obviously needs further research, but this is an interesting and disturbing prospect.

Friday, January 30, 2009

BBC Refuses to Air Humanitarian Appeal for Palestine

A recent article discussed vociferous criticism of the BBC for "its decision not to broadcast a television appeal by aid agencies for victims of Israel's recent military actions in Gaza."

The article continued, "The decision has met with angry criticism from Church of England archbishops, editorial writers and senior British government ministers, as well as sit-ins at the BBC’s London headquarters and its broadcast center in Glasgow."

While, "the BBC was joined in its refusal to carry the appeal by Sky News, an independent broadcaster with a widely watched news channel. But three other broadcasters — the publicly owned Channel 4 and two private broadcasters, ITV and Channel 5 — accepted the appeal."

During this crisis, the BBC has sought to maintain an air of "objectivity." But how can the BBC maintain a stance of "objectivity" when it so plainly refuses to air even the most apolitical humanitarian appeals? Maybe we should take up the example of Mohamed El-Baradei, Nobel Peace Prize winner and current head of the UN's IAEA, and boycott the BBC. Check out the story about El-Baradei's boycott, as well as the actual humanitarian appeal, here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Opening a New Frontier in the "Good War"?

Thought it useful to mention a few quotes from a recent New York Times article on the U.S.'s ongoing involvement in airstrikes and raids into Pakistan.

Less than a week ago, on January 23, "two missile attacks launched from remotely piloted American aircraft killed at least 15 people in western Pakistan on Friday. The strikes suggested that the use of drones to kill militants within Pakistan’s borders would continue under President Obama."

"In the second attack, missiles struck a house near the village of Wana in South Waziristan, killing seven people, according to local accounts and Pakistani news reports. The reports said three of the dead were children."

"A senior Pakistani official estimated that the attacks might have killed as many as 100 civilians; it was not possible to verify the estimate."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Escalating the "Good War"

An article in today's New York Times indicates that, "President Obama intends to adopt a tougher line toward Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, as part of a new American approach to Afghanistan that will put more emphasis on waging war than on development, senior administration officials said Tuesday. "

Furthermore, the article noted that this approach was "a departure from that of President Bush, who held videoconferences with Mr. Karzai every two weeks and sought to emphasize the American role in rebuilding Afghanistan and its civil institutions."

Join Duke Against War at 7 p.m. February 17th at the Duke Coffeehouse to discuss what these policies mean and where antiwar activists can go from here.
Students for a Democratic Society at UNC are holding an event of interest tonight. I know at least one Duke Against War member is going to check it out ...

The War on Gaza and A Strategy for the Liberation of Palestine

Discussion at Internationalist Books
Wednesday, January 28, 6:00 - 7:30pm



Please join us for a study group & discussion of the war on Gaza and its significance in the context of the broader struggle for the liberation of Palestine. We will discuss the aims of the Palestinian war of liberation, some historical background, the role of U.S. imperialism in the oppression of Palestine, the latest murderous assault by Israel in Gaza, the current 'ceasefire', and what we can do as solidarity activists to support the people of Palestine.

The main readings are from "A Strategy for the Liberation of Palestine," an important work from 1969 by the revolutionary organization, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

The readings are available here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/10991932/

Folks are encouraged to read the excerpts in the attached study guide, however, please feel free to come to the discussion even if you have not read the documents and no matter what level of understanding you have of the struggle. We can all learn from and teach one another.

The discussion will take place Wednesday, January 28 at Internationalist Books (405 W. Franklin St, across the street from Med Deli) from 6:00 - 7:30 PM. Please emailkostajh@gmail.com with questions.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Academics & Activists are signing onto an Academic Boycott of Israel

International Writers and Scholars Endorse Academic Boycott of Israel

We stand in support of the indigenous Palestinian people in Gaza, who are fighting for their survival against one of the most brutal uses of state power in both this century and the last.

We condemn Israel's recent (December 2008/ January 2009) breaches of international law in the Gaza Strip, which include the bombing of densely-populated neighborhoods, illegal deployment of the chemical white phosphorous, and attacks on schools, ambulances, relief agencies, hospitals, universities, and places of worship. We condemn Israel's restriction of access to media and aid workers.

We reject as false Israel's characterization of its military attacks on Gaza as retaliation. Israel's latest assault on Gaza is part of its longtime racist jurisprudence against its indigenous Palestinian population, during which the Israeli state has systematically dispossessed, starved, tortured, and economically exploited the Palestinian people.

We reject as untrue the Israeli government's claims that the Palestinians use civilians as human shields, and that Hamas is an irredeemable terrorist organization. Without endorsing its platforms or philosophy, we recognize Hamas as a democratically elected ruling party. We do not endorse the regime of any existing Arab state, and call for the upholding of internationally mandated human rights and democratic elections in all Arab states.

We call upon our fellow writers and academics in the United States to question discourses that justify and rationalize injustice, and to address Israeli assaults on civilians in Gaza as one of the most important moral issues of our time.

We call upon institutions of higher education in the U.S. to cut ties with Israeli academic institutions, dissolve study abroad programs in Israel, and divest institutional funds from Israeli companies, using the 1980s boycott against apartheid South Africa as a model.

We call on all people of conscience to join us in boycotting Israeli products and institutions until a just, democratic state for all residents of Palestine/Israel comes into existence.

Mohammed Abed
Elmaz Abinader
Diana Abu-Jaber
Ali Abunimah
Opal Palmer Adisa
Deborah Al-Najjar
Evelyn Azeeza Alsultany
Amina Baraka
Amiri Baraka
George Bisharat
Sherwin Bitsui
Breyten Breytenbach
Van Brock
Hayan Charara
Alison Hedge Coke
Lara Deeb
Vicente Diaz
Marilyn Hacker
Mechthild Hart
Sam Hamill
Randa Jarrar
Fady Joudah
Mohja Kahf
Rima Najjar Kapitan
Persis Karim
J. Kehaulani Kaunanui
Haunani Kay-Trask
David Lloyd
Sunaina Maira
Nur Masalha
Khaled Mattawa
Daniel AbdalHayy Moore
Aileen Moreton-Robinson
Nadine Naber
Marcy Newman
Viet Nguyen
Simon J. Ortiz
Vijay Prashad
Steven Salaita
Therese Saliba
Sarita See
Deema Shehabi
Matthew Shenoda
Naomi Shihab Nye
Magid Shihade
Vandana Shiva
Noenoe Silva
Andrea Smith
Ahdaf Soueif
Ghada Talhami
Frank X. Walker
Robert Warrior

Monday, January 26, 2009

Upcoming Events

"Anthropology in an Era of Permanent War" with Catherine Lutz

Catherine Lutz, an anthropology professor, gave a talk with tons of relevant information and raised some issues of interest to anti-war activists and scholars. I thought I'd share some of my notes:

After 9/11, the U.S military has increasingly brought anthropologists, and their cultural expertise, onto the pay role. Anthropologists are being employed in weapons labs, the CIA, the pentagon, and in the Department of Defense. One high profile project is the Human Terrain System, which is supposed to help the military understand better the culture of its enemies and the populations of countries it invades and occupies.

Lutz was highly critical of anthropologists being funded by, and working for military institutions. First, she made clear that the cultural knowledge anthropologists bring to the military is not being used to eliminate racism or promote respect for cultural difference. Instead, it is incorporated into the military to more effectively do its job and hit its targets. An example she used was training soldiers to understand Iraqi hand signals or signs of disrespect, so that they can effectively enter homes and make arrests. Cultural knowledge is understood and valued as a weapon. Soldiers are taught that "cultural awareness" as a "combat multiplier makes you more lethal on the front lines" (quote is from a training manual Lutz shared).

She laid out how employing anthropologists is performing a crucial public relations function for the military. The Human Terrain System employs a full time PR campaign to present its work as creating a "smarter war," a "PhD level of warfare," and to assure the public that professionals are waging a quick, effective, and humane war.

Lutz was openly critical of scholars working for the military, and cited earlier examples of disciplines led astray by dubious interests: physics as a discipline fundamentally shaped by the military, and biology as one increasingly beholden to pharmaceutical companies. She felt it was an ethical imperative to chose to write anthropology of the military rather than anthropology for the military. While some scholars claim that their aim is to change the institution of the military from the inside out, Lutz has no interest in reforming the military. She takes an ethical stance that war is not a functional human institution, rather it is fundamentally destructive of human life.

Catherine Lutz is the author of Homefront: A Military City and the American Twentieth Century, which profiles Fayetteville, North Carolina, home of the giant army post Fort Bragg, to gain insights into the impact of militarization on American society.

She a co-author of Local Democracy Under Siege.
What is the state of democracy at the turn of the twenty-first century? To answer this question, seven scholars lived for a year in five North Carolina communities. They observed public meetings of all sorts, had informal and formal interviews with people, and listened as people conversed with each other at bus stops and barbershops, soccer games and workplaces. Their collaborative ethnography allows us to understand how diverse members of a community not just the elite think about and experience "politics" in ways that include much more than merely voting.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fighting Occupation with Occupation

The Guardian newspaper is reporting a wave of university occupations in solidarity with Gaza sweeping through the UK, as a sign of a "return to radicalism, fuelled by social networking and blogs." According to the article, the protests started "at the School of Oriental and African Studies, occupations in protest at events in Gaza spread to King's College London and the London School of Economics (LSE), then out of the capital to Sussex, Warwick, Newcastle, Oxford, Essex, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan, Bristol, Nottingham, Salford, and Kingston."

Below are links to some of the blogs students have started to inform people about their struggles. Check them out for info about demands the students have been raising, as well as victories they have achieved. And feel free to post comments in solidarity with their struggles!

School of Oriental and African Studies
Cambridge
Oxford
London School of Economics
Warwick
King's College
Manchester Metropolitan University
Sussex
Birmingham
Leeds

Friday, January 23, 2009

"Time for a new divestment campaign" talk at Duke

My name is Mike S. and I am a member of Duke Against War. I wanted to speak today about my experience as a Palestine solidarity activist. I’m going to talk about a few incidents in a campaign I was a part of from fall 2006 to spring 2008. But before that, I wanted to briefly address why we should consider launching a divestment campaign right now.

Just yesterday, an article appeared in the online journal Counterpunch by Kevin Alexander Gray, a civil rights organizer in South Carolina, contributing editor to Black News in South Carolina, former President of the SC ACLU, and Jesse Jackson's SC campaign manager in 1988. The article was called, “Time for a New Divestment Campaign,” and I couldn’t agree more. That is the decision we have before us – a new divestment campaign, like the one that helped bring down apartheid South Africa, this time aimed at one of the countries so instrumental in maintaining apartheid in South Africa for so long – Israel.

Why divest? Gray gives us a number of reasons. He says, “Zionism, the official ideology of Israel, is predicated on religious and ethnic separation or segregation. A self-described Jewish state -- that is, a state that operates of, by and on behalf of a single group of people -- cannot also be a secular, democratic state where persons of all religious and ethnic backgrounds are treated equally. A Jewish state that has never declared its borders, that has annexed and occupied territories, flouting international law and subjecting the indigenous population to poverty, indignity, theft, torture and death, is not only a colonialist outlaw state; it is also racist. ” The founding ideology of the state of Israel is racist, based on the rationale of colonialism extending back through the nineteenth century, underwriting the colonial domination of every Western European nation over every country in the so-called the third world.

But there are more reasons. “What’s happening in Palestine,” Gray continues, “is not fundamentally different from what occurred in apartheid South Africa. Kids are being killed. People have been herded into the (more deadly) equivalent of bantustans. Political leaders are targeted for assassination…The citizens of Gaza live in a virtual prison. They are surrounded by water, walls, fences and watch/gun towers.”

And furthermore, “even humanitarian aid is not allowed through,” and “citizens can get food, medicine and even goats, in addition to guns and weapons, only through tunnels. ”

In short, Israel is an apartheid state, and we should dedicate ourselves to fighting it, and demanding divestment.

But how do we go about fighting it? I’d like to discuss a few key moments in a divestment campaign I was a part of at Wayne State University from fall 2006 to spring 2008 as a way of beginning to answer that question.

A group of friends and I launched our Palestine solidarity campaign in the fall of 2006, shortly after Israel had invaded Lebanon. This was the direct impetus for our own struggle, and as many of you probably know, Israel’s invasion sparked a series of protests around the world against Israel, albeit nothing on the scale we’ve seen recently with Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

But that campaign, and that group of friends, didn’t just appear out of thin air. It had a pre-history that I think is relevant. It began with myself and a friend of mine doing talks on labor at Wayne State University in the fall of 2005. That winter, people began attacking mosques in our neighborhood. We were living in Hamtramck at the time. As the labor campaign wound down, we decided to put up some flyers calling people to a meeting to discuss what we might be able to do to counter these racist attacks happening in our community. A number of people showed up, and from there we found a handful of people, no more than four, willing to dedicate a serious amount of time to the campaign.

From there, we made some signs, talked to the imam at the mosque, and began picketing in front of the mosque around the time of the sunset prayer, which was when most of the attacks were taking place. Things went well for a while, but eventually the imam asked us to shut our picket down, because we were drawing attention to the mosque, and he wanted to ignore the attacks and hope they went away on their own. We disagreed, and told him so, but shut our picket line down. As an aside, I’ll note that one of the biggest disgraces of this campaign was that one of our comrades, a Somali Muslim woman named Asha, wasn’t allowed to pray in the mosque she was putting herself on the line defending, and had to pray in a dirty alleyway next to the building.

After this campaign, we began reading together. One of the books we read was Clayborne Carson’s In Struggle. I have read this book numerous times since then with people I’ve met who were thinking about becoming politically active. It is important because it shows how important young folks, from 15 and younger to 20, are in bringing about new forms of politics and social change. To this day, I have a special place in my heart for the young men and women of SNCC.

Soon, though, Israel invaded Lebanon, and we, a group of self-reflective young folks, began talking about what we could do to influence events that seemed so far away. Eventually, we decided we needed to launch a divestment campaign at the school that some of us attended and others had recently graduated from – Wayne State University, where Shemon and I had organized back in 2002-2003 against the run up to the war in Iraq.

That fall, we launched our divestment campaign which, over the course of 2 academic years us into sometimes very intimate contact with people like Daniel Pipes, Selma James, Irshad Manji, and Glenn Plummer, a Christian Zionist preacher in the Detroit area.

Our campaign was predicated on the idea that, since we were students and community members, we didn’t need to become a registered student group. The university was ours. We paid tuition and taxes that kept it afloat. Our first major confrontation with the university administration over this issue came in late September, 2006.

At that time, we hosted an event called “Why Christians should pray and struggle for the liberation of Palestine.” In this presentation, we sought to challenge a Christian Zionist perspective with a liberation theology perspective on the struggle for Palestine. But even more significant, we sought to challenge the administration over our right to use the public space of the university as a group of students and community members. We were taking a risk. We consisted of only a handful of people, and the university sent us an email before the event saying that we didn’t have permission to use the space and doing so was trespassing. Police cars were stationed at the exits to the building we were using. And then something remarkable happened – 40 people showed up. The administration was ready and willing to arrest the 6 of us by ourselves. They had prepared to do so. But they were unwilling to arrest 40 or more people who showed up to a talk about Christianity and its relationship to Palestine.

A second important moment in the campaign came only a couple of weeks later, on Thursday, October 12, 2006. That was the day we held our first rally on campus. We had submitted a divestment proposal to the university several weeks before, and declared October 12 as a reasonable deadline to expect a response by. If these administrators running the university were worth the salaries they got, surely they could respond to our demand in two weeks. Still, we didn’t hold our breath. Instead, we held our rally. At the rally, we got a taste of the importance of the militancy of young folks when, as our march began, young Arab and Muslim students spontaneously changed the route of the march. Rather than going out through the street open to us, they insisted that we march out THROUGH the Zionist counter protesters at the rally. We did, and the Zionists parted their ranks and let us through chanting, “Free, free Palestine!”

Eventually, our march arrived at the administration’s offices, and we found our way in barred by a cordon of police. We demanded a meeting with the head of the university, and refused to leave until we got a response. The administration sent out a lawyer, and promised to respond to our divestment proposal publicly. This was one of our finest achievements, because when he responded, saying, “Wayne State opposes divestiture and has no intention of divesting itself of stocks in companies doing business with Israel,” it caused an outrage in the Arab American community in metro Detroit, and one of the biggest Arab weeklies, the Arab American Forum and Link, published a front page article, with the president’s face and words superimposed over the apartheid wall snaking through Jerusalem and the words, “Divestment: It worked for South Africa, why not Israel?”

This rally, then, was a significant achievement for us and our divestment campaign, but it also had some important costs. One of them was that a good friend and comrade got a visit from Homeland Security at her home only a few days later. Luckily, she wasn’t there, but her roommate told her they were looking for her, and that they had a picture of her taken at the rally only days before. The dangers of this kind of work are very real, as people around the country and the world can attest.

The campaign continued throughout the fall and spring semesters, and at a certain point, tensions became very heated. The student newspaper became a site where both sites vented their animosity toward one another, causing the administration to disable comments on the website. The pro-Israel groups on campus even at one point threatened to campaign against me personally, and protest outside my work.

It took about a year for the local Zionist groups to wrap their heads around what was going on and get organized, and when they did, they brought none other than Daniel Pipes to Wayne State. When we heard he was coming, we immediately contacting the local chapters of SJP, MSA, and SDS, as well as community groups in Detroit and a Palestine solidarity group at the University of Michigan. Pipes was going to speak at WSU, and then U of M later the same day. We suggested a coalition that would make both campuses aware of who Pipes was and how important it was to combat his racist message. At Wayne State, we suggested a rally before his talk so that people would be made aware, would get information about Pipes, and could then confront him.

At this point, we experienced a number of disagreements with people over tactics. The folks at U of M simply refused to organize a confrontation. I think they opted for a silent walk-out instead. At Wayne State, we got help from SDS, but a number of other people stayed away. The community groups that seemed most interested in a collaboration flatly refused a confrontation and rally. Rather than hold an informative rally before Pipes’ speech, giving people the info they could then confront him with, they wanted to draw people away from a confrontation with Pipes, to a concert or other cultural event somewhere else at the same time as his talk. We suggested he hold the concert right outside where Pipes was speaking, to get as many people aware of who he was, what he was saying, and what they could do about it. They refused, and although many of them promised to speak at our rally, none of them showed up, and they left us to organize it on our own.

So we held our rally, and on that day, we went into the hall where Pipes was speaking. We listened to him say every racist thing under the sun about our people, and we denounced him mercilessly when the time came. Pipes was flabbergasted. He was genuinely upset that we didn’t bow down before all his PhDs and alleged knowledge and give him the respect he thought he deserved. The title of an initial write-up on the talk said it all, “Wayne State Univ. vs. Daniel Pipes.” I couldn’t have put it better myself. WSU opposed Pipes courageously, and made it known that we wouldn’t tolerate racism on our campus. Since then, that article has disappeared. Perhaps Pipes recognized that its title sounded too much like defeat. The only traces that now remain are an article called, “My disrupted talk at Wayne State.”

Those are some of the key events of our campaign. What I’d like to do now is briefly consider some of the lessons we can learn form each of these examples.

The mosque defense campaign taught us the importance of organization. It is because we began organizing ourselves in January 2006 as a mosque defense group, because we began seeking out sympathetic and like-minded folks, that we were able to make a significant intervention in the fall of 2006, following Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. Additionally, this campaign had unintended positive consequences. We later found out that while our campaign was shut down, a mosque in a different part of the city began its own campaign, completely independent of ours, but inspired by our example.

The event on Christianity and its relationship to Palestine was significant for different reasons. It taught us that with planning, discipline, courage, and numbers, we could win major concessions from authorities that we often seen as all-powerful. We are seeing similar things around the world today, with successful school occupations at the New School in New York City, and ongoing battles throughout the UK.

Our rally taught us a number of things. First, it concretely exposed the administration’s political allegiances. This was decisive, because it confirmed that the administration was not going to freely choose to do the right thing, it would have to be compelled through our actions and organizing. In addition, the rally showed us the real potential for student militancy that exists at certain times in the movement. We are seeing this today as well, with young folks around the world taking the lead. As a commentator on Counterpunch recently noted, invoking Fanon, “don’t be so rigid as to be outpaced by the masses in the street, and if you are, accept your obsolescence with grace.” That is an important lesson indeed. Finally, it taught us the real dangers of this work, with the threats of Homeland Security, and people targeting us in our personal lives.

Our rally against Daniel Pipes held still more lessons for us as we go about this work. First, we need to fight racist forces head on when they appear at our schools, in our workplaces, in our neighborhoods. When Pipes wrote up his experiences at the two universities, Wayne State and U of M, he stressed how “civilized” the Arab and Muslim folks at U of M were, in contrast to the barbarian hordes that faced him down at Wayne State. I consider this the highest possible compliment. Theodor Herzl, when he was trying to convince one imperial power after another to support the creation of a Jewish state, used the argument that the West could use “an outpost of civilization against barbarism.” If Herzl and Pipes posit opposition to their policies as a choice between civilization and barbarism, the last thing I want to be is civilized.

But today, in 2009, we might find ourselves in a slightly different place than we found ourselves in 2006. Last week, Duke Against War held an event called “Change Begins with Us,” where we tried to stress the important grassroots movements taking off throughout the world - working people and students, young queer folks and environmental activists, Palestine solidarity activists and even the grassroots nature of the Obama campaign. All point to “something new and serious” going on. At Wayne State, we were relatively isolated, but that may be different today.

And finally, I would like to stress the importance of seeing these campaigns as opportunities for us to grow and overcome obstacles we place on ourselves. I’ve talked a lot about the external enemies, but it is important to keep in mind that those external enemies are only confronted following a long process of liberation from the things we have learned should be obstacles to our growth and development, and to becoming politically active. I have known a number of people who have had to confront their families about their politics. I’ve known people who have ended relationships based on these campaigns. These things are not easy, but it’s also important to keep in mind the bonds we form during them, which are based on a shared vision of justice that often transcends the bonds of familiarity and routine.