Blockade Protest of AIPAC at 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 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
Friday, January 30, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Date: Time: Location: Street: City/Town: Phone: Email:
Part of a city-wide tour sponsored by the International Socialist Organization
For more information go to www.socialistworker.org
Brian Jones is a teacher, actor and activist in New York City. His commentary and writing have been featured on GritTV, SleptOn.com and the International Socialist Review.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
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.
HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE:
* 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.
HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE:
* Forward this announcement widely, tell your friends, classmates and any relevant groups.
* Send an email to Kaet at firstname.lastname@example.org if you or your group would like to *speak* on Tues, 27 Jan.
* Send an email to Kaet at email@example.com 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 the facebook group here.
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.
Monday, January 12, 2009
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.Read more!
Friday, January 9, 2009
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.
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.
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.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Thursday, January 1, 2009
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.