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August 28, 2014 3

Ferguson = Gaza: Manufacturing A False Comparison

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Pro­test­ers on the Man­hat­tan Bridge

As events in Gaza and high pro­file police bru­tal­ity cases have con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate recent head­lines, a num­ber of groups and indi­vid­u­als have tried to find a con­nec­tion between these unre­lated events in an attempt to bring atten­tion to their activism.

Sev­eral anti-Israel groups have couched their hos­til­ity towards Israel in social jus­tice terms by link­ing the con­flict in Gaza to the events in Fer­gu­son in an attempt to appeal to a broader base of sup­port. For example:

  • Brook­lyn Col­lege Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine adver­tised a Sep­tem­ber 2 event on Face­book: “From Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine, racism, injus­tice and human rights vio­la­tions are being com­mit­ted against peo­ple of color.”
  • The Ohio Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Group spon­sored an August 25 demon­stra­tion at Ohio State University’s African Amer­i­can and African Stud­ies Com­mu­nity Exten­sion Cen­ter, “to show our love and sup­port for mem­bers of our Colum­bus com­mu­nity who have lost inno­cent loved ones in Gaza in recent Israeli attacks, to stand in sol­i­dar­ity with Michael Brown, John Craw­ford, and vic­tims of racism and police bru­tal­ity all over the US…”
  • At protests in Oak­land on August 23, anti-Israel pro­test­ers report­edly shouted, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” co-opting the chant used at Fer­gu­son protests
  • An adver­tise­ment for an August 22 Indi­ana Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity event on Face­book read: “The dis­re­gard and dis­re­spect for black bod­ies and black life is endemic to the white suprema­cist sys­tem that rules the land. Your strug­gles through the ages have been an inspi­ra­tion to us as we fight daily for the most basic human dig­ni­ties in our own home­land against the racist Zion­ist regime that con­sid­ers us less human.”
  • On August 20, the Pales­tin­ian BDS National Com­mit­tee issued a state­ment say­ing, “We rec­og­nize those tac­tics being used in Fer­gu­son and the men­tal­ity behind them…the meth­ods of unbri dled vio­lence and con­trol being used by secu­rity forces are all too famil­iar to Pales­tini­ans liv­ing under Israel’s decade-old occupation.”
  • On August 20, pro­test­ers on the Man­hat­tan Bridge chanted, “From Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine, occu­pa­tion has got to go.” At least one pro­tester held a sign that read “We are FERGUSON We are GAZA, because We are Human.”
  • In an August 20 press release, Jew­ish Voice for Peace stated, “We rec­og­nize that the devalu­ing of African-American lives built into the fab­ric of US gov­ern­ment and soci­ety is mir­rored in Israel’s unequal treat­ment of Palestinians…It’s also not sur­pris­ing to see the sim­i­lar­ity in the tac­tics and tech­nolo­gies of repres­sion against those who are ris­ing up non­vi­o­lently in both places.”
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Protest in Staten Island

While some are sim­ply try­ing to rouse sup­port for an anti-Israel agenda by attract­ing like-minded activists, oth­ers have gone so far as to imply that Israel is to blame for the vio­lence in Ferguson.

This alle­ga­tion sur­faced in a tweet by Trita Parsi, head of the National Iran­ian Amer­i­can Coun­cil (NIAC). On August 14, Parsi tweeted, “Won­der­ing why the exces­sive police vio­lence? Here’s a guess: #Fer­gu­son police chief got train­ing in Israel…#Gaza.” An August 15 arti­cle from San Fran­cisco Bay View titled “Israel-trained police ‘occupy’ Mis­souri after killing of Black youth” echoed this sentiment.

Sim­i­lar com­par­isons have appeared at protests regard­ing other high pro­file police bru­tal­ity cases, such as at an August 23 rally call­ing for jus­tice in the death of Eric Gar­ner, who was unarmed when killed by an NYPD offi­cer ear­lier this sum­mer. Among the posters seen at the protest were “Google It!!! Israel trains the NYPD.”

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August 21, 2014 0

Anti-Zionist Group Targets Jewish Institutions

Over the past two weeks, demon­stra­tors from Jew­ish Voice for Peace (JVP), the largest Jew­ish anti-Zionist group in the United States, have entered Jew­ish insti­tu­tion build­ings to directly con­front the lead­ers of major Amer­i­can Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tions over their sup­port for Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge.

On four sep­a­rate occa­sions, mem­bers of JVP made their way into build­ings belong­ing to Jew­ish insti­tu­tions and began to protest inside. Their goal in get­ting inside the build­ings was to hand deliver an open let­ter call­ing the insti­tu­tional Jew­ish community’s sup­port for Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge “painful” and “a betrayal of our [Jew­ish] his­tory and values.”

1. New York City (August 20) – Mem­bers of JVP’s New York City chap­ter entered the UJA-Federation offices in Man­hat­tan. One of the pro­test­ers, who live-tweeted from the demon­stra­tion, wrote “Occu­py­ing UJA fed­er­a­tion office in NYC now.” The pro­test­ers even­tu­ally moved their demon­stra­tion to the side­walk out­side of the building.

2. Den­ver (August 19) – The Front Range JVP chap­ter led a group of pro­test­ers into the JEW­ISH­col­orado build­ing in Den­ver. Inside the build­ing, pro­test­ers attempted to deliver their peti­tion to JEWISHcolorado’s Pres­i­dent and CEO Doug Seser­man. After their request was denied, they moved the demon­stra­tion to the building’s lobby and then even­tu­ally out­side of the build­ing after 911 was report­edly called.

3. Durham (August 12) – A small group of pro­test­ers from JVP’s North Car­olina chap­ter inter­rupted the “Com­mu­nity Gath­er­ing in Sup­port of Israel and Peace,” which was spon­sored by the Jew­ish Fed­er­a­tions of Raleigh-Cary and Durham-Chapel Hill. While a speaker was deliv­er­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion, mem­bers of the group inter­rupted his speech, unfolded a large ban­ner and began to make demands from insti­tu­tional Jew­ish lead­er­ship about their stance on Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge.

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JVP mem­bers at the Philadel­phia Jew­ish Fed­er­a­tion building

4. Philadel­phia (August 8) – Pro­test­ers from JVP’s Philadel­phia chap­ter made their way into the Jew­ish Fed­er­a­tion offices in Philadel­phia. After gain­ing entrance, they demanded to meet with the Federation’s CEO Naomi Adler. After being told that they would not receive an appoint­ment, a small por­tion of the group refused to leave the build­ing and con­tin­ued to protest inside, report­edly lead­ing to their arrest.

Six other protests have also taken place out­side of Jew­ish insti­tu­tions over the past month, although var­i­ous groups such as Al-Awda and the newly-founded If Not Now, When?, have orga­nized those. No attempts were made to enter the Jew­ish insti­tu­tions in those cases, but like JVP, the pro­test­ers called on the Jew­ish com­mu­nity to con­demn Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge.

At least 25 other protests have taken place out­side of build­ings affil­i­ated with Israel or Israeli com­pa­nies. At one of those demon­stra­tions, mem­bers of JVP and Jews Say No! made their way into the offices of Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF). Once inside, the demon­stra­tors began to protest and con­ducted a “die-in.” Nine pro­tes­tors were report­edly arrested.

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August 21, 2014 0

Iran Weekly: Selected News & Developments

The fol­low­ing is a selec­tion of news reports and com­men­tary from Iran­ian media and main­stream pub­li­ca­tions on devel­op­ments per­tain­ing to Iran. This weekly update includes a sam­pling of pub­lished reports from Iran’s Farsi-language media*as well as rel­e­vant arti­cles from the inter­na­tional press.

Iran­ian Media

Zion­ists’ Ira­nopho­bia cam­paign foiled: Zarif
(Press TV – August 21, 2014)

Iran­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Moham­mad Javad Zarif said on state tele­vi­sion that his coun­try has suc­cess­fully thwarted an anti-Iran cam­paign led by Israel. “It has always been on the agenda of the Zion­ist regime and its sup­port­ers as well as cer­tain parts of the US gov­ern­ment and some West­ern coun­tries to por­tray Iran as a secu­rity threat to the world,” Zarif said dur­ing the tele­vised broad­cast on Wednesday.

Iran wor­ried over race dis­crim­i­na­tion in US
(Mehr News Agency – August 20, 2014)

Iran’s for­eign min­istry crit­i­cized the U.S. for blast­ing Iran’s human rights offenses as protests con­tin­ued in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri. The for­eign min­istry said: “Race dis­crim­i­na­tion against African Amer­i­cans by the US police and court sys­tem is an indi­ca­tor of human rights vio­la­tions in that coun­try despite their claims for sup­port­ing human rights and their annual reports of human rights vio­la­tions in other countries.”

IRGC com­man­der warns Israel of deadly response
(Fars News Agency – August 20, 2014)

Gen­eral Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the com­man­der of the IRGC’s Air Force, threated Israel with retal­i­a­tion in the event of an Israeli strike against Iran. “The Zion­ist regime might have a deci­sion to make an aggres­sion against Iran, but it will cer­tainly come to the con­clu­sion that it has taken an imma­ture deci­sion after study­ing the out­comes and con­se­quences and the Islamic Repub­lic of Iran’s much pow­er­ful reaction.”

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Ebrahim Raeisi

Huj­jat al-Islam Ebrahim Raeisi: “Amer­i­cans have com­mit­ted some of the worst crimes in the name of free­dom”
(Rasa News Agency – August 19, 2014)

Ebrahim Raeisi, the first deputy of the Iran­ian judi­ciary, gave a speech in the city of Qom, stat­ing, “The igno­rant Amer­i­cans have com­mit­ted some of the worst crimes upon human­ity in the name of free­dom.” The cleric also claimed that the West is pro­mot­ing the accep­tance of homo­sex­u­al­ity as a human right and as “a sign of free­dom and a char­ac­ter­is­tic of a civ­i­lized, lib­eral and mod­ern society.”

Iran’s civil, air defense bod­ies sign agree­ment to coop­er­ate in defend­ing N. sites
(Fars News Agency – August 19, 2014)

Gho­lam Reza Jalali, the head of Iran’s Civil Defense Orga­ni­za­tion, announced this week that his orga­ni­za­tion has signed an agree­ment with other air defense bases to estab­lish a defense sys­tem to pro­tect the country’s nuclear sites. “Our enemy uses intel­li­gent power and we should make use of an intel­li­gent air defense sys­tem as well,” Jalali said dur­ing the sign­ing ceremony.

IRGC top advi­sor hails Iran’s mis­sile power
(Fars News Agency – August 19, 2014)

Gen­eral Komeil Kohansal, a top advi­sor to the IRGC, said dur­ing a visit to the north­ern city of Sari on Tues­day, that, “Today, Iran’s mis­sile sys­tems are ready to respond to any enemy threats.”

Com­mit­ting crimes now habit for Israel: Top cleric
(Press TV – August 19, 2014)

Senior Iran­ian leader and for­mer Pres­i­dent Aya­tol­lah Raf­san­jani said dur­ing an anti-Israel protest in Tehran on Tues­day that, “Com­mit­ting crimes has grown into a habit for Israel, and silence and sup­port­ing crim­i­nals has become rou­tine in inter­na­tional communities.”

Iran’s inte­grated air defense sys­tem impen­e­tra­ble
(Fars News Agency – August 18, 2014)

Gen­eral Ali Reza Sabahi­fard, the lieu­tenant com­man­der of the Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base, boasted to reporters about Iran’s mil­i­tary prowess, stat­ing, “At present, every part of the Islamic Repub­lic of Iran’s air­space is con­nected to the inte­grated air defense net­work and the small­est move­ments can­not go unno­ticed by the eagle eyes of the air defense base.”

Israelis con­trol major world banks: Ana­lyst
(Press TV – August 18, 2014)

Dur­ing an inter­view with Iran’s English-language pro­pa­ganda net­work this week, Ken­neth O’Keefe, a London-based vir­u­lently anti-Israel activist, spewed anti-Semitic com­ments when he said: “It is beyond absur­dity that trea­so­nous gov­ern­ments have been allowed to actu­ally sign off the power of the peo­ple to print their own money through their rep­re­sen­ta­tive gov­ern­ment and instead give it to pri­vate bankers. The fact that they hap­pen to be Jew­ish is not an opin­ion, it is a fact. And it is that use of that money, that power that has been given to them that they use to be able to dom­i­nate the world as I have said buy­ing the media, the police, the mil­i­tary, the courts, the cor­po­ra­tion, all of it.”

Inter­na­tional Media

Under­stand­ing Iran’s inter­nal divi­sions
(The Wall Street Jour­nal, Op-Ed – August 20, 2014)

Haleh Esfan­di­ari, the direc­tor of the Mid­dle East pro­gram at the Woodrow Wil­son Inter­na­tional Cen­ter for Schol­ars, wrote that the recent impris­on­ment of sev­eral West­ern jour­nal­ists by the Iran­ian author­i­ties sig­ni­fies the greater power strug­gle between Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani and con­ser­v­a­tive ele­ments in the regime.

Iran cleric: West­ern­ized Ira­ni­ans no dif­fer­ent than IS
(Al-Monitor – August 20, 2014)

Alireza Panahian, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Supreme Leader Aya­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, said dur­ing a cer­e­mony for an Iran­ian doc­u­men­tary this week, “The West­ox­i­fied among us are no dif­fer­ent from tak­firis and ISIS,” and that West­ox­i­fied Ira­ni­ans are “Zion­ist fifth columnists.”

Remem­ber­ing poet Simin Behba­hani, the ‘Lioness of Iran’
(The Wash­ing­ton Post – August 20, 2014)

Ear­lier this week Iran lost one of its most cel­e­brated poets, Simin Behba­hani, who was known for her fem­i­nist views and poetry that expressed her love for Iran.

One result of the Gaza con­flict: Iran and Hamas are back together
(Time – August 19, 2014)

After a falling out nearly three years ago over Hamas’s sup­port for Syr­ian rebels, the Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ist group and its fore­most patron Iran appear to be on the path toward rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. The new thaw is pur­port­edly due to Hamas’s ongo­ing con­flict with Israel, and Iran­ian lead­ers have begun voic­ing their sup­port of “the Pales­tin­ian resis­tance in dif­fer­ent ways.”

Bil­lion­aire named in suit against anti-Iran group
(The New York Times – August 18, 2014)

United Against Nuclear Iran, a lead­ing orga­ni­za­tion fight­ing to enforce sanc­tions against the Islamic Repub­lic by pub­li­ciz­ing com­pa­nies that do busi­ness with Tehran, is fac­ing a defama­tion law­suit by a Greek busi­ness­man. Last year the anti-Iran group had pub­li­cized Vic­tor Restis’s alleged busi­ness deal­ings with Iran.

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