Friday, January 30, 2009

Activists Arrested Protesting AIPAC

Colin Dillon
973 214 0916

Blockade Protest of AIPAC Fundraiser at Times Square Marriott Hotel

At 6:30 PM on Thursday, January 29, ten young activists peacefully blocked the two main entrances to the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square to protest the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Fundraising Gala. The action, which lasted just under two hours, coincided with a 250-person protest rally in front of the hotel, separately organized by the Break the Siege On Gaza Coalition—Student Committee. All ten activists were arrested,
spurring the formation of a campaign for their defense and for the conscious escalation of pro-Gaza activism.

More than a month after Israel began its massive assault on Gaza and amidst international protests, AIPAC held a $1500-a-plate fundraising dinner, its largest event of the year. The event was attended by prominent business people, lobbyists and U.S. politicians, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The blockade disrupted what the participating activists considered a disgraceful gathering.

The Marriott blockade comes on the heels of several similar actions opposing Israel's recent conduct that have occurred in cities around the world such as Toronto and San Francisco and at over a dozen universities in England. In its scope, tactics, and goals, the movement to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine recalls the movement that arose in opposition to Apartheid in South Africa. Campaign participant Conor Tomás Reed said, "the blockade is a contribution to this international struggle and can serve as a catalyst for
future actions."

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ISO Kick Off-Meeting - Marx was Right

The International Socialist Organization at Columbia is showing new signs of life. For those interested, Brian Jones, featured at this introductory meeting, is one of the New York's most compelling socialist activists. 

Time and Place
Thursday, February 5, 2009
7:00pm - 9:00pm
La Pregunta Arts Cafe (1 train to 137th m11, m100, or m101 bus to 136th)
1528 Amsterdam Avenue between 135th and 136th streets
New York, NY
Contact Info

They said that Marx was dead—that capitalism had triumphed. Then came the realities of globalization. Then came endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then came the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Now, Marx's ideas seem to explain the world a lot better than what you see on Fox News. But Marx also predicted that the inequalities of capitalism would give rise to resistance. And we've only just begun to see the emergence of a new generation of struggles, from the protests for immigrant rights, to the factory occupations of workers in Chicago, to the massive outpouring of solidarity with the people of Gaza and Palestine. Socialists believe that these struggles can be joined to fight for a different type of society—one in which greed, inequality and war are replaced with solidarity and justice. Come to a discussion of Marx's ideas and how they apply to today and then get involved in helping us to build a socialist movement! As Marx himself said, "philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point is tochange it!"

Part of a city-wide tour sponsored by the International Socialist Organization

For more information go to 

Guest Speaker: 
Brian Jones 

Brian Jones is a teacher, actor and activist in New York City. His commentary and writing have been featured on GritTV, and the International Socialist Review.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Columbia University Community Stands with Gaza

While the international community has been remarkably vocal in condemning the most recent large scale attacks on Gaza's civilian population, the scale of Palestinian death, injury and displacement is largely absent in accounts of the war by US government spokespersons (both the Bush and now the Obama administrations), mainstream media, and even within our own Columbia community.

We are planning a series of events on campus for the coming week of January 26-30. We want to let you know about the first three events we are organizing to kick off the upcoming week (starting Monday, 26 January) and to invite you to join us in standing in solidarity with the people of Gaza during this devastating time.

We want your support to break the silence. These are the most immediate ways in which you can help -

1. Join the Columbia Community in Standing with Gaza - *12 - 1pm on MONDAY, 26 January: LOW PLAZA*

This will be our first, day-time effort to be a physical presence in the center of Columbia's campus. It will be a silent event to extend solidarity from the entire spectrum of communities within Columbia to Palestinians in Gaza. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has sparked the concern of an incredible range of groups who may identify with the kinds of oppression and violence that have been experienced by Palestinians there. We therefore see this as an opportunity to make visible the solidarity of that range of groups across our campus and New York City, and to hand out fact sheets and talk to our fellow students. As many of you may already know, a handful of groups here at Columbia are voicing support for Israel's attacks on the civilian population of Gaza as well as support for continuing US aid to Israel's military - by holding a rally at this same time on campus! For this reason we think it is all the more urgent for the rest of the Columbia Community to make it clear that these positions do not represent the majority of our views here.


* Make and bring a sign that expresses your thoughts and feelings about the attacks on Gaza. MAKE YOUR PRESENCE KNOWN.

* One suggestion is for as many of us as possible to make signs that will say "________ Stand(s) with Gaza." For example:
o "Columbia Students Stand with Gaza"
o "Jewish Students Stand with Gaza"
o "People of Color Stand with Gaza"
o "Queers Stand with Gaza

2. Candlelight Vigil in Solidarity with the People of Gaza - *5:30pm - 6:30pm on MONDAY, 26 January: SUNDIAL*

This will be the first of a series of vigils that we will hold for 4 nights during the week of January 26th. We are compiling the names of the estimated 1,300 Palestinian dead in Gaza from the most recent weeks of Israeli attacks. We want the Columbia community to participate in reading the names, and to light a candle, as homage to the dead, the thousands of wounded and to the tens of thousands displaced -- many for the second or third time in their lives -- and who are now facing a bitter winter without homes or shelter.

3. Speak Out and Learn About GAZA - Join Students & Faculty Speaking Out - *12 - 2pm on TUESDAY, 27 January: SUNDIAL.

Voice your opinion and learn more about the context, implications and ramifications of the Israeli military attacks on Gaza. This will be an opportunity for all members of the Columbia Community to voice their concerns and perspectives about the crisis in Gaza, its regional and historical context, the role of the United States as well as Columbia University's direct and indirect involvement in the continuing Israeli/Palestinian conflict. There will be faculty, student as well as guest speakers.


* Forward this announcement widely, tell your friends, classmates and any relevant groups.

* Send an email to Kaet at if you or your group would like to *speak* on Tues, 27 Jan.

* Send an email to Kaet at if you or your group would like to SPONSOR the Speak-Out or vigils.

4. Tell as many people as you can

* about Monday's 12 - 1pm Stand with Gaza event,

* about the Candlelight Vigils that will be going on EVERY NIGHT from Monday to Thursday (26 - 29 January),

* about the name readings and about the SPEAK OUT out from 12 - 2pm on Tuesday, 27 January.

* Talk to fellow professors and fellow students. If you're an Instructor/TA, talk to students in section/class. Mail this to any list-servs you belong to. Above all, join us on the this week of action in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

Above all, do not be silent. We have been silent long enough.

Join us.

Join the facebook group here.

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Israel PM Will Protect Military from War Crimes Tribunals

With mounting complaints from human rights organizations of indiscriminate firing and the use of white phosphorous shells in civilian areas by the the Israeli military, the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered assurance that Israeli military personnel would be protected from any prosecution for war crimes by an international tribunal. The assertion was shocking in that it seemed to both acknowledge the possibility that war crimes had been committed, and to assert that Israel could commit these atrocities in defiance of international law with little fear of retribution. This international landscape, in which force and use of practices forbidden by international law are freely resorted to, whether it be Georgia and Russia or Israel, are the fruits of the United States' policies in invading and occupying Iraq. The BBC has the full story on PM Olmert and Israeli war crimes.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Israeli "Democracy"

Israel has long defended its aggressive policies by claiming to be the only democracy in a region dominated by dictatorships and defunct democracies. The overwhelmingly disproportionate share of foriegn aid that Israel receives from the United States is also defended on the grounds of "democracy." To those who love to wax poetic about Israeli democracy, the fundamentally exclusionary and racist policies on which Zionist democracy has been constructed became strikingly clear when the election commission banned all of Israeli's Arab political parties from running in the upcoming elections. The AP has the whole story here.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Police Execute Man at Train Station in Oakland

It seems impossible to explain why an officer for the Bay Area Rapid Transit Police shot and killed Oscar Grant execution style in the early morning of New Years Day. The Oakland community has begun to react with outrage, and clashes with police have escalated.

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Police Ignored Pattern of Violence Against Latinos in Long Island

The attack by a group of teenage boys that led tothe death of Marcelo Lucero, an immigrant from Ecuador, was not simply an isolated incident, but part of a long pattern of violence against Latinos by the young men in the neighborhood.  The Times provides an important look into why many believe that the Police failed to notice a clear pattern of racially motivated violence.

From the Times article: 

The attacks were such an established pastime that the youths, who have pleaded not guilty, had a casual and derogatory term for it, “beaner hopping.” One of the youths told the authorities, “I don’t go out doing this very often, maybe once a week.”

That was not news to Latinos in Patchogue, who say that regular harassment, muggings and assaults have had them living in fear — 11 men told The New York Times of 13 attacks, nine of them in the past two years.

But the Suffolk County police said it was news to them.

“We hadn’t noticed this,” Richard Dormer, the Suffolk County police commissioner, said in an interview last month when asked about the attacks by groups of young men. “And that’s a concern to us.”

Mr. Orellana is one of many Latino residents who believe that Mr. Lucero would be alive today if the police had taken crimes against them more seriously and recognized them as symptoms of a larger problem. While some Latino immigrants say they are reluctant to report crimes because they are in the country illegally or fear the police will assume they are, they and their advocates believe the police did not see a pattern because they did not want to see one.

“I told people, here the authorities are waiting for a white to kill a Hispanic or a Hispanic to kill a white,” Mr. Orellana said. “They keep attacking and robbing, and nothing changes. There had to be a death, and the death was Lucero.”

Prosecutors say the teenagers charged in the attack on Mr. Lucero chased another Latino man and shot a BB gun at a third that day. But the problems began long before Mr. Lucero’s death. And by the men’s accounts, the series of attacks involved far more teenagers.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Reports of Massive Civilian Casualties in Gaza

The Telegraph provides a chilling report from a paramedic who witnessed the aftermath of an Israeli attack that left some 70 civilians dead, all from a single family in Gaza.  So many seem to believe that this war is complicated, that the issues are intractable. Hamas is a complicated organization, and its tactics and attacks on civilians are certainly deplorable, but the root of this problem is the continued occupation of Palestinian lands and the Zionist refusal of the right of return. The issues are not complicated. This is a politically calculated use of brute force to inflict collective punishment on the Palestinian people. It will not work, even from a realist Israeli perspective. It only leaves Israeli more isolated and more of a pariah. 

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Other Side of the Story

Here's an interesting juxtaposition of images telling the story of Gaza and Israel. Check it out.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

National March on Washington
Saturday, January 10

Assemble at the White House (north side) at 1:00 PM

New Sponsors   ~   Endorse   ~   Organize Transportation

Gaza wounded child 1.4 cropped
A man carries his wounded child
into a hospital in Gaza City.

A doctor in Gaza's main hospital reported that children make up 30 percent of the casualties, among the dead and wounded, in the second day of the ground invasion. The time to act is now! Local marches have taken place all over the country. Now is the time to bring the outrage of the people right to the steps of the White House.

We are sending a message to both Bush and the incoming Obama administration: This war of aggression must end immediately! People all over the world will be marching in their country's capital cities on Saturday, January 10. The people of this country will come together in Washington, D.C., to say NO to the government that speaks in their name and uses their tax dollars to fund Israel to the tune of over $15 million per day.

Please see below for important updates on the Saturday, January 10 LET GAZA LIVE National March on Washington.

Gaza Chicago 1.2.09

Tens of thousands have marched across the country.
Above: Chicago, January 2

New Sponsors

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), American Muslim Task Force (AMT), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), American Muslim Alliance (AMA), Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA), Voters for Peace (VFP) and many others have become sponsoring organizations of the January 10 Let Gaza Live National March on Washington, along with the ANSWER Coalition, Muslim American Society Freedom (MASF), Free Palestine Alliance (FPA), National Council of Arab Americans (NCA), Al-Awda - International Palestine Right to Return Coalition, and hundreds of others.

Become an Endorser

Click here to add your individual or organizational endorsement.

Organize Transportation to DC

Buses are being organized to bring people to Washington, D.C., from across the East Coast, Midwest and South. Now is the time to stand together in DC in solidarity with the people of Gaza!

If you are organizing transportation, fill click here to fill out the Transportation Form. This will allow others to find out about transportation options, and it will ensure that you receive important logistical information regarding the plans for Saturday.

Plan for Saturday, January 10

The Saturday, January 10 LET GAZA LIVE National March in Washington, D.C., will gather at the White House (north side, Lafayette Park) at 1:00 PM. The protest will be located between the Bush White House and the Hay Adams Hotel, where President-Elect Obama is now residing, which is located on the north side of Lafayette Park.

There will be coinciding West Coast demonstrations in San Francisco (11 am at Civic Center) , Los Angeles (12 noon at Westwood Federal Building), San Diego (details TBA) and elsewhere.

Help Spread the Word

Click here to view a flyer for the demonstration. It is a 8.5x11 inch PDF that you can view, print and reproduce. If you are in the Washington, D.C., area, you can pick up flyers from the ANSWER Coalition office at 1247 E St. SE.

Please spread the word online through Facebook, Myspace, email, listserves, blogs and bulletin boards; and talk to your family, friends, co-workers, classmates and people you meet on the street!

Calendar of Emergency Demonstrations Taking Place This Week

Statements from the Free Palestine Alliance

The Free Palestine Alliance, a member group of the ANSWER Coalition National Steering Committee, has been writing daily statements about the Gaza Strip Massacre. These are important statements of political orientation from the Palestinian-American community. Click here to read the statements issued by the Free Palestine Alliance.

Send a letter to the State Department and Congress

Join with people around the country and around the world who are demanding an end to U.S. aid to Israel. This is an urgent situation and we must all act now. You can send a letter with our easy click and send system demanding an end to U.S. aid to Israel. Without U.S. aid, the Israeli military attacks, siege and blockade of Gaza could not be continued. Click this link now to send a letter to the State Department and elected officials in Congress.

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"Get him! Get that nigger!"

In the December 17, 2008 issue of The Nation there appeared an article detailing how whites moved with impunity in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Check it out...

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bombing of Islamic University in Gaza

Neve Gord and Jeff Halper have written an excellent article focusing on the lack of response among the academic community to the recent bombing of the Islamic University in Gaza. While many American University Presidents, led by Lee Bollinger of Columbia University, were active in denouncing the British boycott of Israeli universities, none have had any thing to say about the Israeli Air forces collective punishment of the people of Gaza and the bold assault on Gaza's only major institution of higher learning. Counterpunch has many interesting contributors and is worth keeping an eye on.

Targeting Islamic University

Where's the Academic Outrage Over the Bombing of a University in Gaza?


Not one of the nearly 450 presidents of American colleges and universities who prominently denounced an effort by British academics to boycott Israeli universities in September 2007 have raised their voice in opposition to Israel’s bombardment of the Islamic University of Gaza earlier this week. Lee C. Bollinger, president of Columbia University, who organized the petition, has been silent, as have his co-signatories from Princeton, Northwestern, and Cornell Universities, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Most others who signed similar petitions, like the 11,000 professors from nearly 1,000 universities around the world, have also refrained from expressing their outrage at Israel’s attack on the leading university in Gaza. The artfully named Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, which organized the latter appeal, has said nothing about the assault.

While the extent of the damage to the Islamic University, which was hit in six separate airstrikes, is still unknown, recent reports indicate that at least two major buildings were targeted, a science laboratory and the Ladies’ Building, where female students attended classes. There were no casualties, as the university was evacuated when the Israeli assault began on Saturday.

Virtually all the commentators agree that the Islamic University wasattacked, in part, because it is a cultural symbol of Hamas, the ruling party in the elected Palestinian government, which Israel has targeted in its continuing attacks in Gaza. Mysteriously, hardly any of the news coverage has emphasized the educational significance of the university, which far exceeds its cultural or political symbolism.

Established in 1978 by the founder of Hamas — with the approval of Israeli authorities — the Islamic University is the first and most important institution of higher education in Gaza, serving more than 20,000 students, 60 percent of whom are women. It comprises 10 faculties — education, religion, art, commerce, Shariah law, science, engineering, information technology, medicine, and nursing — andawards a variety of bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Taking into account that Palestinian universities have been regionalized because Palestinian students from Gaza are barred by Israel from studying either in the West Bank or abroad, the educational significance of the Islamic University becomes even more apparent.

Those restrictions became international news last summer when Israel refused to grant exit permits to seven carefully vetted students from Gaza who had been awarded Fulbright fellowships by the State Department to study in the United States. After top State Department officials intervened, the students’ scholarships were restored — though Israel allowed only four of the seven to leave, even after appeals by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “It is a welcome victory — for the students,” opined The New York Times, and “for Israel, which should want to see more of Gaza’s young people follow a path of hope and education rather than hopelessness and martyrdom; and for the United States, whose image in the Middle East badly needs burnishing.”

Notwithstanding the importance of the Islamic University, Israel has tried to justify the bombing. An army spokeswoman told The Chronicle that the targeted buildings were used as “a research and development center for Hamas weapons, including Qassam rockets. … One of the structures struck housed explosives laboratories that were an inseparable part of Hamas’s research-and-development program, as well as places that served as storage facilities for the organization. The development of these weapons took place under the auspices of senior lecturers who are activists in Hamas.”

Islamic University officials deny the Israeli allegations. Yet even if there is some merit in them, it is common knowledge that practically all major American and Israeli universities are engaged in research and development of military applications and receive money from the Pentagon and defense corporations. Weapon development and even manufacturing have, unfortunately, become major projects at universities worldwide — a fact that does not justify bombing them.

By launching an attack on Gaza, the Israeli government has once again chosen to adopt strategies of violence that are tragically akin to the ones deployed by Hamas — only the Israeli tactics are much more lethal. How should academics respond to this assault on an institution of higher education? Regardless of one’s stand on the proposed boycott of Israeli universities, anyone so concerned about academic freedom as to put one’s name on a petition should be no less outraged when Israel bombs a Palestinian university. The question, then, is whether the university presidents and professors who signed the various petitions denouncing efforts to boycott Israel will speak out against the destruction of the Islamic University.

Neve Gordon is chair of the department of politics and government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and author of Israel’s Occupation(University of California Press, 2008).

Jeff Halper Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and author of An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel (Pluto Press, 2008).
 He can be reached at

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