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September 22, 2014

Ferguson = Gaza: The Continued Invocation Of A False Comparison

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Vigil for Gaza at the College of Staten Island

While Gaza and Ferguson no longer dominate the headlines, these unrelated events continue to be connected by a num­ber of groups and indi­vid­u­als in an attempt to bring atten­tion to their activism.

In addition to previously reported examples, more recent anti-Israel events continue to link the conflict in Gaza to the Ferguson, Missouri shooting and its aftermath, couching hostility towards Israel in social justice terms in an attempt to appeal to a broader base of support.

Recent examples of anti-Israel events that draw parallels between Ferguson and Gaza include:

  • Existence is Resistance and the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home are advertising an event scheduled for October 11 at the Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz Center in northern Manhattan to address “the global systems that oppress us, from Ferguson to Gaza.” The event will feature speakers such as Remi Kanazi, an organizing committee member of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI).
  • A panel discussion titled “From Ferguson to Palestine: Connecting Struggles” is scheduled to take place at the University of Texas-Austin on September 24 according to the event’s Facebook page. The event, sponsored by the Palestine Solidarity Committee, will feature at least two UT-Austin professors.
  • The City University of New York (CUNY) Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter is hosting a panel discussion at the CUNY Graduate Center titled “CUNY Stands for Justice: From Ferguson to Palestine” on September 22 featuring “an evening of poetry, speakers, and discussion around repression and resistance from Ferguson, Missouri to Gaza, Palestine,” according to event flyers.

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    SJP “die-in” at Brooklyn College

  • The College of Staten Island SJP chapter hosted a vigil for Gaza on September 17 at which the group advertised on Facebook that it would “read the names of the lives lost, give speeches, and stand in solidarity from Ferguson to Palestine…” The group also stated that it shares the anger of those in Ferguson because “Palestinians know what it means to be shot while unarmed because of your ethnicity.”
  • According to a post on an anti-Israel Facebook page, members of the Direct Action Front for Palestine attended protests in Ferguson and spoke to people there about Gaza. On September 8, it held a meeting in Brooklyn, New York to share what they “learned in Ferguson…to become more effective in our resistance…”
  • Members of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) protested outside ADL’s San Francisco office on September 3 with a banner that read “From Oakland to Ferguson to Palestine, The US and Israel, A Deadly combination” and “Stop police brutality…Stop the ADL.” IJAN is a coalition formed in 2008 that seeks to facilitate global anti-Israel activity on the part of anti-Zionist Jews.
  • On Facebook, Brooklyn College SJP advertised a September 2 “die-in” on the Brooklyn College campus to “raise awareness about israel’s [sic] latest massacre” and to remember “all the victims of white supremacy and institutionalized racism in the U.S., the latest being #MikeBrown and #EricGarner.”

Events linking Ferguson and Gaza have also been organized by some university departments. At UCLA, the Law School’s Critical Race Studies Department sponsored a September 18 event called “From Gaza to Ferguson,” which according to publicity materials, explored “the relationship between race, the rise of militarized policing and the response to dissent in the United States and consider its implications in a global context.” The panel included Hedy Epstein, a Holocaust survivor who has compared the Israeli treatment of Palestinians to the Nazi treatment of Jews.

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March 8, 2013

Anti-Israel Activity Reached Fever Pitch This Week

Anti-Israel activists took a multi-faceted approach to attacking Israel in the public sphere this week. In the span of 7 days, divestment resolutions were considered at three college campuses, ten anti-Israel billboards were put up in Atlanta, over 30 college campuses hosted Israeli Apartheid Week programs and two daylong BDS conferences were scheduled.

These initiatives are formally or informally part of a global effort to advance the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. They demonstrate the anti-Israel movement’s commitment to employing multiple tactics and campaigns to attract support for its positions.

A flyer advertising the first public discussion on the divestment resolution at UCSD

Here’s a closer look at what’s taken place this week:

  • Campus Divestment Resolutions: Student governments at Stanford University, the University of California (UC), Riverside, and UC San Diego considered divestment resolutions targeting multinational companies that work with Israel like Caterpillar, General Electric and Northrup Grumman. The results were mixed: the resolution at Stanford was voted down; UC San Diego did not vote on its resolution (after a discussion that lasted until 2am) and will resume discussing it next week, while UC Riverside passed its resolution in a stealth manner reminiscent of the recent resolution at UC Irvine. The divestment resolution at Riverside was introduced without advance notice and seems to be part of an effort to ensure that pro-Israel students are left in the dark and are therefore not present at the public discussion to voice their perspective and advocate against the bill.
  • Israeli Apartheid Week: At least 35 college campuses in the U.S. are participating in IAW this year, the ninth consecutive year that the program has been held in cities around the world. Most of the events in the U.S. were formally scheduled to take place March 4-8 but some are stretching into next week as well (due to various university-related scheduling conflicts). IAW events this year have primarily included anti-Israel speakers, mock “apartheid walls” and checkpoint displays on campus, and screenings of two critical of Israel films,  the Oscar award-nominated “5 Broken Cameras” and a more extreme film called “Roadmap to Apartheid.” “Roadmap to Apartheid” is narrated by The Color Purple author Alice Walker and analogizes Palestinian refugees to Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto and partially condones terrorism as a “symptom” of the conflict.
  • BDS Conferences: This past Saturday the University of Texas, Austin, hosted a daylong “BDS Conference” that featured extreme speeches by Nada Elia, a faculty member at Antioch University in Seattle, and Sherry Wolf, a Jewish socialist and activist. Elia avowed that she would not reject Palestinian extremism because Palestinians “have a right to resist” and compared Israelis to American slave-owners. Wolf used the platform to claim that the notion that Israel is the Jewish people’s homeland is “bulls–t” and accused Israel of “terrorism” and institutionalized racism against the Palestinians. She further described Zionist Jews as “white supremacist racist[s].” On Saturday, March 9, a similar conference will take place on the Auraria campus in Denver. Participants will “learn about the history of both Palestine and the global BDS movement, hear what coalition groups are working on, and participate in BDS and coalition-building training,” according to the event flier.
  • Anti-Israel Billboards: The Council for the National Interest, an anti-U.S. aid to Israel group based in DC, recently started a campaign called “Stop the Blank Check to Israel” which hopes to place billboards in cities across the country. Ten such ads, which read, “$8 Million a day to Israel just doesn’t make sense! STOP The Blank Check.org,” have recently been erected in Atlanta. Ads with similar messages have appeared in the past year in Den­ver, Detroit, Los Ange­les, Chapel Hill and New York.

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November 19, 2012

“Israel should be Ended Once and For All,” “Crucify Him, Crucify Them…Israel’s Policy:” A Round-Up of Anti-Israel Protests in the U.S., November 17-18

Over the weekend, more than two dozen anti-Israel protests were held in cities across the United States. Below is a round-up of the extreme messages and signs that were on display at just a small sampling of these demonstrations.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17

New Haven, CT

Approximately two dozen protesters gathered outside the New Haven courthouse and then proceeded to march in downtown New Haven. An activist with the ANSWER Coalition addressed the crowd first and said, “We’re here to say to people that Israel should be ended once and for all.” She also advocated for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and encouraged the crowd to fight “U.S. imperialism.” Protesters engaged in chants of “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!,” “Long live Intifada!,” and “Viva, Viva Palestina.” They held signs that read, “Resist Zionism and Imperialism” and “Israel – Guilty of war crimes.”

Fort Lauderdale, FL

About 150 people gathered outside the United States Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale holding signs that read “This isn’t war, this is genocide,” “Stop the new Holocaust,” and “Apartheid+occupation=Israel.” Other signs read “Stop the Palestinian Holocaust by Israel,” “If 9/11 deserves a moment of silence… Then Palestine deserves to never speak again,” and “The genocide goes on. Gaza needs your voice NOW.”

Activists at the rally chanted a variety of slogans including “Hey hey, ho ho, this occupation has gotta go!” “From the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, Palestine will be free!” and “Gaza will never die! Free, free Gaza!” A participant at the protest wore a t-shirt that said “Stop the Palestinian Holocaust by Israel.”

Austin, TX

Activists demonstrated outside the Texas Capitol building for a rally called “Austin stands with Gaza.” Signs at the rally included “Israel is killing children in Gaza, stop U.S. complicity,” “Zionism is racism,” “Zionism is theft and anti-Semitic terror,” and “Stop Israeli terrorism!” In addition, a young child at the rally held a sign that said “Children like me are being killed with your tax dollars.”

Chants at the rally included “Netanyahu go to Hell, USA of Israel,” “Self-defense is a lie, what they do is genocide!” “The Palestinians are oppressed, boycott, sanctions, divest!” and “From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls of have got to go.” The latest chant refers to an increased effort by anti-Israel activists to link the Palestinian struggle with immigrant issues in the U.S. and the U.S.-Mexico border fence.

San Francisco, CA

Approximately 100 protesters gathered outside the Israeli Consulate for the third straight day. Signs were held that said “Stop U.S.-Israeli genocide,” “Free Palestine, support the right of return,” and “Stop Israel’s slaughter in Gaza. Cut off all U.S. Aid.”

Following the demonstration outside of the Consulate, activists marched to Union Square chanting various slogans including “Long live the intifada, intifada, intifada,” “No peace, no state,” “While you’re shopping bombs are dropping,” and “not another nickel, not another dime, no more money for Israel’s crimes!”

 SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18

Washington, D.C.

Protesters gathered at the Israeli Embassy holding signs that read, “Obama Grow a Spine End the Genocide in Palestine! Quit Being Israel’s Puppet,” “G-d’s ‘Chosen People’ Guilty of War Crimes,” “Is Washington Under Israeli Occupation?” and “Crucify Him, Crucify Them…Israel’s Policy,” which seemed to suggest that Israel was responsible for Jesus’s death. Other signs that were printed by some of the anti-Israel organizations that coordinated the rally read, “Stop Israel’s Slaughter in Gaza” and “End the Siege on Gaza.”

Press TV, an English-language Iranian news station, interviewed some of the protesters who used extreme and inaccurate language to condemn Israel, including describing Gaza as a “land prison” and claiming that Israel “massacred thousands of civilians” in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.  

New York

Approximately 500 people demonstrators gathered in Times Square holding signs that read “Israel is a terrorist state” and “Judaism Yes! Zionism No! State of Israel Must Go.” The latter sign was held by a member of Neturei Karta, an ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist organization that is a fixture at anti-Israel rallies in New York and Washington, D.C. A separate protester who was interviewed by FarsNews, an official Iranian agency, said that Israel is able to “get away with it” because of the U.S.: “America is the real terrorist state and as long as America unconditionally supports Israel, the blood of Palestinians will continue to be shed.”

San Diego

An anti-Israel protest to counter a pro-Israel event was organized by the Al-Awda chapter in San Diego. After the event ended, the leader of the group posted a message on Facebook thanking people for attending the protest. The  activist, Zahi Damuni, wrote that participants in the pro-Israel rally were a “lot of obnoxious racist people” and that the counter-protest “dampened the celebration of the carnage that their Zionist racist state is committing.” He also called for all of Palestine to be free “from the River to the Sea,” which is a call for the destruction of the state of Israel.

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