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November 21, 2013

Troubling Glorification Of Violence At Pro-Palestinian Event At San Francisco State University

Students attending a pro-Palestinian event organized by the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) at San Francisco State University two weeks ago were invited to create placards using a stencil that read “My heroes have always killed colonizers.”my-heroes-have-always-killed-colonizers

The message, which seems to glorify violence generally and against Israel in particular, likely originated at an event that had been organized by the Center for Political Education in San Francisco (a program “dedicated to building strong movements and the left through education, analysis, theory, dialogue, and activism) a month earlier.

That event, called “My HEROES Have Always Killed Colonizers: Stories of Global Indigenous REZistance,” was organized to commemorate “Indigenous Peoples Day” and featured musical and spoken word performances to celebrate “every global indigenous warrior who’s been labeled a terrorist, unpatriotic, and/or savage.” In addition to African, Hispanic and Native American performers, at least one of the scheduled performers was to recite Palestinian political poetry at the event.

It seems clear that the two events’ use of the phrase is not coincidental. A Facebook page for the October event advertised that it will have on-site silk screen printing with the phrase “My Heroes Have Always Killed Colonizers” for people who bring t-shirts or other clothing items to imprint.

The table on campus that offered the stencil was apparently being staffed by students affiliated with the on-campus group, “Student Kouncil for Intertribal Nations” or SKINS. The group’s objective is to expose students at SFSU to Native American culture.

After the issue was raised to the university by ADL and others, President Les Wong, the  president of SFSU, rightly issued a statement deploring the glorification of violence and stressing that there is “no place at SF State for celebrating violence or promoting intolerance, bigotry, anti-Semitism or any other form of hate-mongering.”

Thus far, however, GUPS has not displayed any remorse for its supervision of an event that featured pro-violence messaging. In fact, the group’s president wrote a letter to the president of SFSU claiming that issues raised about the stencil amount to a “belligerent smear campaign meant to slander the Palestinian movement on campus” and has created a “hostile environment” for pro-Palestinian students.

GUPS has been active on the San Francisco State campus since the 1970s and is a chapter of an international network of pro-Palestinian students. The group has organized a variety of anti-Israel programs on campus, including co-hosting the 4th Al-Awda convention in 2006, protests to oppose Israeli military action in Gaza, and Israeli Apartheid Week programs in the last few years.  In 2008, the group received an “Outstanding Social Justice” award from the university’s Office of Student Programs and Leadership Development and Vice President of Student Affairs/ Dean of Students.

ADL has numerous campus-related resources to help students and others counter anti-Israel activity and anti-Semitism on campus, including:

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May 2, 2013

Advocate For Palestinian Prisoners On U.S. Tour

sahar-francis-addameer

Sahar Francis

In an effort to garner American attention and support for Palestinian political prisoners, a representative of Addameer, a Palestinian NGO based in Ramallah, is scheduled to deliver presentations on the topic in several U.S. cities this month.

Sahar Francis, Addameer’s General Director, will likely address perceived issues in the Israeli prison system for Palestinian prisoners, but she also seems to be engaged in an effort to analogize the Palestinian prisoner cause to the way the criminal justice system in the U.S. addresses issues of crime in the inner-city.

Francis’s talks will take place in several cities that have faced troubling rises in crime, including Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco. The titles of the presentations, “From Pelican Bay and Guantanamo to Palestine: Prisons, Repression, Resistance;” “Ending Mass Incarceration: From Palestine to Pennsylvania;” and “Juvenile Injustice: Criminalization of Youth in Palestine and Chicago,” underscore Francis’s apparent goal of linking problems in the American prison system, such as discrimination, racial profiling and lack of rehabilitation options, to the issues faced by Palestinian prisoners.

Sponsors of the events vary widely and include many groups whose missions seem to be wholly unrelated to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such as the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, the Black Youth Project in Chicago and the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. The diverse number of groups supporting these events is likely to further credibility to Addameer’s intended comparison between the Palestinian prisoners’ cause  and problems in the inner-city.

Several of the other scheduled speakers work on social justice issues related to undocumented students and immigrant rights. At the Philadelphia event, for example, the other speaker is a member of DreamActivist PA, a youth organization that advocates for immigrants.

Francis has been outspoken about the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinian prisoners. In a 2010 interview with Electronic Intifada, she asserted that Israel tries to demonize Palestinian resisters by describing them as “terrorists” but that “citizens should be aware that Palestinian political prisoners are not terrorists.”

She also alleged that “torture, ill treatment and abuse” are norms of the Israeli prison system, and that Israel’s “policy of imprisonment” is aimed at suppressing nonviolent resistance like the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaigns against Israel. In her talks, Francis urges her audience to call for the unconditional release of all Palestinian political prisoners despite the fact that many of these prisoners have been convicted of violent crimes against Israeli civilians.

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November 20, 2012

“End the Nazi Occupation in Gaza”: A Round-Up Of U.S. Anti-Israel Protests On November 19

Close to two dozen anti-Israel rallies took place across the United States on Monday, from Greensboro to Gainesville, Seattle to Santa Cruz. Nearly half of Monday’s demonstrations occurred on university and college campuses, an indication of how student-driven the anti-Israel reaction is to the latest round of violence taking place in the Middle East.

Below is a sampling of yesterday’s anti-Israel protests:

New Brunswick, NJ

At Rutgers University, a state university with more than 50,000 students, a rally organized by Students for Justice in Palestine drew approximately 150 demonstrators to Brower Commons. One of the signs displayed by students read, “It would be my greatest sadness to see Zionists do to Palestinians much of what Nazis did to Jews.” Demonstrators also chanted “Intifada, Intifada” during the evening protest.

At least four representatives of Neturei Karta, an ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist organization, participated in and spoke at the rally. Jewish anti-Zionist groups often view their role as “protecting” the anti-Israel movement from allegations of anti-Semitism. It seemed to work here. Shortly after the protest ended, several students expressed how happy they were to have the Neturei Karta representatives, with one student noting, “I’m tired of being criticized as an anti-Semite for having critical views of Israel, when in fact I have no qualms with our Jewish brothers and sisters, but rather an apartheid nation.”

San Francisco, CA

A rally outside the Israeli Consulate drew activists from Jewish Voice for Peace who held banners and signs that read “The Siege of Gaza Betrays Jewish Values” and “Israelis Against War and Apartheid.”

Chicago, IL

More than 300 demonstrators rallied outside a Federal Building in Chicago and then proceeded to march to Daley Plaza, chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Speakers alleged that Israel is a “terrorist state,” a “brutal killing machine” and that Jerusalem is “occupied.” One young woman held a sign that read, “End the Nazi Occupation in Gaza!” The same sign also showed the Israeli flag with a large red swastika drawn over it and the words “real terrorists.” The rally attracted the support of American Muslims for Palestine, Chicago Movement for Palestinian Rights, Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, Palestine Solidarity Group, US Palestinian Community Network and Jewish Voice for Peace.

Ithaca, NY

Anti-Israel students at Cornell University squared off against pro-Israel students who were holding a rally to support Israel’s actions and then marched across campus chanting, “Hey Netanyahu, what do you say, how many kids did you kill today?” “Brick by brick, wall by wall, Israel’s apartheid’s got to fall” and “When people are occupied, resistance is justified.” The rally, called “Solidarity from Ithaca to Gaza,” was heavily attended by Jewish anti-Zionists, including representatives of Jewish Voice for Peace-Ithaca who held signs that read, “Jewish Voice for Peace Says Divest From the Occupation” and “I am another Jew opposed to Israeli attacks on civilians.”

Tallahassee, FL

The Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at Florida State University organized a protest that drew several dozen students. The students held signs that read, “Resist Zionism and Imperialism,” “Support Peace, Defend Gaza” and “Denouncing Israel’s War Crimes is not Anti-Semitic.” One of the leaders of SJP was interviewed by local media and said, “We’re out here because Palestinians are being brutalized, are being bombed, are being killed every single day with American tax dollars and we think that’s inherently wrong.” He also apologized for Palestinian terrorism, saying it is the result of how “miserable and hopeless” the Palestinians feel and predicted that the “extremism” will only end when the situation for Palestinians improves.

For information about other anti-Israel protests that have taken place since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense, please see these previous posts:

“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

Demonstrators at Anti-Israel Rallies: “Gaza is the Real Holocaust,” “Long live the Intifada!”

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