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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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May 2, 2012

Anti-Semite to Appear at MSU’s “Palestine Liberation Week”

Update: Amir Abdul Malik Ali used his platform at UC Irvine to rant about Zionism’s responsibility for the financial collapse, the alleged vilification of Islam and global corruption issues.

The Muslim Student Union at UC Irvine is at it again.

The group has invited Amir Abdul Malik Ali, a virulent anti-Semite, to speak at the university next week. His talk is titled “The Struggle Has No Borders.

Malik Ali’s scheduled appearance is part of a weeklong program being sponsored by MSU next week called “Palestine Liberation Week: Getting to the Root of the Occupation.” Other anti-Israel speakers scheduled to appear include Hatem Bazian and Hedy Epstein. In addition, members of the “Irvine 11, who were suspended for disrupting a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren in February 2010, will return to campus to take part in the event.

Malik Ali, who is affiliated with the anti-Semitic Sabiqun movement and is the imam of a mosque in Oakland, is regularly invited to speak on campuses in California. During his appearances at Irvine, Malik Ali has conspiratorially claimed that “Zionist Jews” were responsible for 9/11 and that they control the U.S. government, the economy and the media. He has referred to Jews and Zionists as “the new Nazis” and “the party of Satan.” And, during an address titled “Death to Apartheid” in May 2010, Malik Ali responded “yes” to questions about whether he supports Hamas and Hezbollah.

MSU at UC Irvine did not invite Malik Ali to its annual anti-Israel program in 2011, but he had spoken at the program every year before that going back until at least 2006.

News of Malik Ali’s appearance coincides with an article that was published yesterday in The Jewish Daily Forward that describes how Jewish students and Hillels have begun working with chapters of Muslim Student Association and other Muslim student groups on campus. A representative of the Hillel chapter responsible for UC Irvine was quoted in the article saying that Jewish students on campus are engaging with their Muslim student counterparts and described it as “a new era.” Unfortunately, MSU’s continued willingness to provide a platform to an anti-Semite suggests otherwise.

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April 26, 2012

Divestment Effort at the Methodist General Conference in Tampa

Should the United Methodist Church divest from its investments in “companies that sustain the Israeli occupation?”

The answer to that question will be decided in Tampa, Florida, at this year’s General Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC). The conference began on Tuesday and is scheduled to take place through May 5, 2012.

The UMC includes on its agenda a list of “major issues” that will be addressed at the conference, including the church’s stance and efforts regarding abortion, gay rights, bullying and immigration. Also included in the agenda is a resolution on divestment from three American companies – Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard – until they “end their involvement in the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.” The resolution further calls on “the United Methodist Church boards and agencies, annual conferences, local churches and individuals to prayerfully consider corporate involvement in Israel’s occupation when making investment decisions.”

The resolution is being presented to the General Conference by the United Methodist Kairos Response (UMKR), an anti-Israel contingent that was formed in 2010 following the release of the “Kairos Palestine Document.” That document, which calls for a global BDS campaign, denies Jewish connection to the Holy Land and justifies terrorism.

If the resolution is passed, UMC general boards will be required to present reports on their respective progress at the church’s 2016 conference.

UMKR has a document on its website listing individuals and groups that support the resolution and it takes care to specifically highlight the Jewish anti-Zionists who support BDS. This is likely an attempt to obviate allegations of anti-Semitism. The resolution has received support from Jewish Voice for Peace, a variety of Israeli anti-occupation activists and two anti-Zionist Holocaust survivors, Hedy Epstein and Hajo Meyer. In his statement, Meyer claims that, as a survivor of Auschwitz, he “[refuses] to belong to a group which is a perpetrator, and therefore I do not agree to allow the state of Israel to commit its crimes in the name of Judaism.”

In addition to the divestment resolution, participants at the conference may be asked to vote on other virulently anti-Israel resolutions, including one regarding endorsing the Kairos Palestine Document.

Efforts by Methodist anti-Israel activists to divest from Israel began in 2008. Then, the UMC voted to continue to allow its agency staff to make comparisons of Israel to the apartheid regime that existed in South Africa and participate in the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. The General Council did not, however, vote in favor of divesting from Israeli companies.

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