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September 24, 2012 0

Anti-Israel Teach-in Held During Occupy Wall Street “Free University Week”

A work­ing group affil­i­ated with the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) move­ment held a teach-in over the week­end on advo­cat­ing for and sup­port­ing Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns against Israel. The group, known as the “Global Jus­tice Work­ing Group,” used the ses­sion to demo­nize Israel and to demon­strate how the pro-BDS agenda goes hand-in-hand with the goals of OWS.

A sign at the Occupy BDS teach-in New York

The event was held on Sat­ur­day, Sep­tem­ber 22, as part of an OWS-organized week­long pro­gram in New York called “Free Uni­ver­sity Week.”

Speak­ers dur­ing the event con­demned Israel as a “Euro­pean set­tler move­ment” and Israeli pol­icy as extremely oppres­sive. Riham Bargh­outi, a found­ing mem­ber of the Pales­tin­ian Cam­paign for the Aca­d­e­mic and Cul­tural Boy­cott of Israel (PACBI) and activist with Adalah-NY, a local pro-boycott group, described the sit­u­a­tion for Pales­tini­ans as a “strug­gle of indige­nous peo­ple against col­o­niz­ing set­tler tac­tics.” Another speaker accused Israel of hav­ing “vio­lated every arti­cle in the 4th Geneva Con­ven­tion.” The speak­ers rep­re­sented a vari­ety of domes­tic anti-Israel groups, includ­ing Adalah-NY, Punks against Apartheid, New York­ers against the Cornell-Technion Part­ner­ship and CODEPINK’s “Stolen Beauty” cam­paign, which calls for a boy­cott of AHAVA products.

The activists also repeat­edly sought to demon­strate that  the goals of OWS and the BDS move­ment are inter­con­nected. One OWS speaker, for exam­ple, warned the par­tic­i­pants that Israel trains Amer­i­can law enforce­ment and equips police with weaponry and riot con­trol tools. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Occupy Oak­land move­ment then delib­er­ately “con­nected the dots,” alleg­ing that the “same type of tear gas being used against them [Occupy Oak­land] is being used against the Palestinians.”

Saturday’s event rep­re­sents the lat­est effort by anti-Israel activists to inject their cause into the now year-old OWS social protest move­ment. Up until now, these efforts – which included wav­ing anti-Israel signs and chant­ing anti-Israel slo­gans at OWS demon­stra­tions – were not offi­cially sanc­tioned by OWS or any of its affil­i­ated groups. In what could be a pos­si­ble shift, the teach-in was spon­sored by a group for­mally tied to OWS and was pro­moted on the offi­cial New York Gen­eral Assem­bly web­site, which hosts con­tent from “dozens of groups work­ing together to orga­nize and set the vision for the #occu­py­wall­street move­ment.

While one might imag­ine that a group called “Global Jus­tice Work­ing Group” would focus on a vari­ety of issues of global injus­tice, the group seems to main­tain a sin­gu­lar focus on crit­i­ciz­ing Israel. Indeed, its Face­book page and web­site are reg­u­larly updated with anti-Israel con­tent, includ­ing claims that Israeli check­points are a “tool of sup­pres­sion” and calls for the Red Hot Chili Pep­pers to refuse to per­form in Israel. [The con­cert was held as planned on Sep­tem­ber 10.]

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March 7, 2012 1

Upcoming Conferences to Promote Anti-Israel Initiatives

Two upcom­ing left-wing anti­war con­fer­ences, one tak­ing place at Pace Uni­ver­sity in New York next week­end and the sec­ond tak­ing place in Stam­ford, Con­necti­cut the week­end after that, will have a sig­nif­i­cant Israel angle. These con­fer­ences are sched­uled to include ses­sions on a one-state solu­tion, Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns against Israel, oppo­si­tion to a U.S. or Israel attack against Iran, and more.

The anti­war and anti-Israel move­ments have long sought to cre­ate com­mon cause and unite their objec­tives. In recent years, many of the larger anti-Israel ral­lies and gath­er­ings have been co-organized by local and national anti­war orga­ni­za­tions like ANSWER. In turn, anti­war events are often marked by anti-Israel slo­gans and claims that Israel is respon­si­ble for pres­sur­ing the U.S. into wars in the Mid­dle East.

The fol­low­ing are some details about the planned anti-Israel ses­sions at the two upcom­ing conferences:

Left Forum:
Every year, left-wing activists par­tic­i­pate in a major gath­er­ing called “Left Forum.” The con­fer­ence, which in the past has attracted sev­eral thou­sand atten­dees, is titled “Occupy the Sys­tem: Con­fronting Global Cap­i­tal­ism.” It will take place at Pace from March 16–18, 2012. 

The con­fer­ence appears to have an anti-Israel agenda that goes beyond Israel’s alleged role in U.S. for­eign pol­icy. It will include ses­sions on Israeli “pinkwash­ing” (the claim that Israel show­cases its pro­gres­sive record on LGBT issues to cover up its poli­cies toward Pales­tini­ans); a one-state solu­tion to the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict; “resist­ing” a U.S.-Israel war against Iran; Israel as rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the global 1%; and BDS as a form of “cor­po­rate resistance.”

A descrip­tion for the 1% ses­sion, titled “Israel: Strate­gic Asset to the Global 1%,” reads:

“We will ana­lyze the impact of Zion­ist strate­gies in the US includ­ing the increased vio­la­tion and ero­sion of civil rights, attacks on our move­ments, and the esca­lated tar­get­ing of Arab, South East Asian, and Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties and com­mu­ni­ties of color.”

United National Anti­war Coali­tion (UNAC) Conference:
UNAC, a newly formed coali­tion com­prised of two dozen anti­war groups, will hold its first annual con­fer­ence in Stam­ford, Con­necti­cut from March 23–25.

Con­fer­ence atten­dees will vote on two major agenda items dur­ing the con­fer­ence, one of which is a pro­posal on end­ing U.S. aid to Israel. The con­fer­ence will also include a ses­sion on BDS as tool of “non­vi­o­lent resis­tance” fea­tur­ing Nancy Kri­co­rian, an activist with CODEPINK, and Ethan Heit­ner, an anti-Israel cartoonist.

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