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April 27, 2012 1

BDS Movement Gains Support of Activist Chicano Student Group

Lead­ers of the National Movimiento Estu­di­antil Chi­cano de Aztlán (MEChA), a Chi­cano stu­dent orga­ni­za­tion, recently voted to endorse the Pales­tin­ian call for Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions (BDS). The endorse­ment was approved at the group’s 18th annual con­fer­ence in Phoenix, Ari­zona, on March 30. A press release issued after the con­fer­ence noted that BDS is nec­es­sary in light of Israel’s “mil­i­tary occu­pa­tion and set­tle­ment of Palestine.”

The Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ters at Ari­zona State Uni­ver­sity and the Uni­ver­sity of Ari­zona helped MeChA arrive at its endorse­ment and, accord­ing to the state­ment, led sev­eral work­shops on the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict at the conference.

One of the ses­sions was called “Con­crete Con­nec­tions,” which com­pared the U.S.-Mexico bor­der fence to the Israeli secu­rity fence in the West Bank, and explored the poten­tial for “cross-movement build­ing” for Pales­tini­ans and Latin-Americans. The state­ment about the con­fer­ence con­cluded with, “Together, these civil soci­eties – from Ari­zona to Pales­tine – are work­ing towards one goal of fight­ing oppres­sion and resist­ing every­day injustice.”

Ear­lier this week, the Pacific North­west chap­ter of MeChA held a regional con­fer­ence at The Ever­green State Col­lege (TESC) in which it endorsed BDS as well. Dur­ing the con­fer­ence, MeChA-Evergreen invited other activists involved in the divest­ment cam­paign (known as TESC Divest!) to par­tic­i­pate in a teach-in con­nect­ing the BDS move­ment to the “indige­nous strug­gles in the Americas.”

A state­ment issued by the group read, “We rec­og­nize that our peo­ples’ his­tor­i­cal and present strug­gles — against depor­ta­tion, occu­pa­tion, exploita­tion, and dehu­man­iza­tion — in Ari­zona, in the bor­der, and in the United States — not only coin­cide, but are also con­nected to Pales­tini­ans’ strug­gle against Israeli mil­i­tary occu­pa­tion and set­tle­ment of Palestine.”

TESC Divest! has been spear­headed by SJP at Ever­green, as well as the newly formed Olympia, Wash­ing­ton, chap­ter of Jew­ish Voice for Peace (JVP).

In recent years, there has been grow­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion between MeChA, which has approx­i­mately 400 chap­ters around the United States, and Pales­tin­ian sol­i­dar­ity groups. Cam­pus chap­ters of MeChA and SJP (largely on West Coast cam­puses and espe­cially at Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia schools) have co-sponsored a vari­ety of events seek­ing to high­light con­nec­tions between Pales­tini­ans and the Latino-American community.

MeChA chap­ters have even co-sponsored anti-Israel events on cam­pus that have fea­tured extreme speak­ers and anti-Semites, includ­ing an appear­ance by Amir Abdul Malik Ali at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, River­side in May 2009. At the appear­ance, Malik Ali claimed that U.S. politi­cians are con­trolled by Israel, warned that although “many are afraid of Zionists…Muslims are not afraid” and described Israelis as “the new Nazis.”

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