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UIUC Chancellor to forward Salaita appointment to Trustees for vote on 9/11

By Corey Robin | September 1, 2014

We are getting reports out of the University of Illinois that Chancellor Wise is going to forward the Salaita appointment to the Board of Trustees for a vote on September 11. A group of Gender and Women’s Studies students reports the following:

From GWS Undergraduate Stephanie Skora’s report back on meeting with Chancellor Wise on Monday, September 1, 2014:

The meeting with Chancellor Wise was a success, and we have gained some valuable information and commitments from the Chancellor!

We have discovered that the Chancellor HAS FORWARDED Professor Salaita’s appointment to the Board of Trustees, and they will be voting on his appointment during the Board of Trustees Meeting on September 11th, on the UIUC campus! Our immediate future organizational efforts will focus around speaking at, and appearing at, this Board of Trustees meeting. We will be attempting to appear during the public comment section of the Board of Trustees meeting, as well as secure a longer presentation to educate them on the issues about which Professor Salaita tweeted. Additionally, we are going to attempt to ensure that the Board of Trustees consults with a cultural expert on Palestine, who can explain and educate them about the issues and the context surrounding Professor Salaita’s tweets. It has been made clear to us that the politics of the Board of Trustees is being allowed to dictate the course of the University, and that the misinformation and personal views of the members of the Board are being allowed to tell the students who is allowed to teach us, regardless of who we say that we want as our educators. We will not let this go unchallenged.

Additionally, Chancellor Wise has agreed to several parts of our demands, and has agreed upon a timeline under which she will take steps to address them. The ball is currently in her court, but we take her agreements as a gesture of good faith and of an attempt to rebuild trust between the University administration and the student body. She has not agreed unilaterally to our demands, and but we have made an important first step in our commitment to reinstating Professor Salaita. In terms of his actual reinstatement, the power to make that decision is not hers. This is why we have shifted the target of our efforts to the Board of Trustees, because they alone have the power to reinstate and approve Professor Salaita’s appointment at the University. In regards to the rest of our demands, which we have updated to reflect the town hall meeting, we have made progress on all of those, but continue to emphasize that it is unacceptable to meet any of our demands without first reinstating Professor Salaita.

We have made progress, but we all have a LOT of work left to do. We must organize, write to the Board of Trustees, and make our voices and our presences known. We will not be silent on September 11th, and we will not stop in our efforts to reinstate Professor Salaita, regardless of what the Board of Trustees decides.

Please keep organizing, please keep making your voices heard, and please‪#‎supportSalaita‬!

Also, feel free to message or comment with any questions, comments, or concerns.

Assuming the report is accurate, I can think of two interpretations of what it means.

If the UIUC is thinking politically, it would be an absolute disaster for them to open this can of worms, to act as if Salaita’s appointment is now a real possibility, to raise expectations for two weeks or so, to encourage all the organizing this will encourage (I can imagine the phone calls and emails that will now start pouring into the Board of Trustees), only to have the Board vote Salaita down. From a political perspective, this would be a disaster for the university. The strongest weapon the UIUC has always had is the sense that this is a done deal, that they will not budge, that we can raise all the ruckus we want, but they simply don’t care. Opening the decision up again calls that into question. Where does this line of reasoning lead us? To the possibility that the UIUC Trustees will vote to appoint Salaita on September 11, throw Chancellor Wise under the bus (remember, the Executive Committee that upheld her decision is only comprised of three Trustees, not the full Board)*, and say it was all a misunderstanding wrought by an incompetent chancellor. Who’ll then be pushed out within a year. The advantage of this approach is that it will effectively bring this story to a close. There will be angry donors, but everything I’ve ever read and experienced about that crew suggests that their bark is often worse than their bite. The ongoing atmosphere of crisis and ungovernability on campus is not something any university leader can bear for too long, and this threatens to go on for a very long time.

The other possibility is that the UIUC is thinking legally. One of the many weak links in their legal case was that Wise never forwarded Salaita’s appointment to the Board of Trustees for a vote. She basically did a pocket veto. Salaita’s offer letter stated that his appointment was subject to approval by the Board of Trustees, but Wise effectively never allowed the Board to approve or disapprove. So the UIUC’s lawyers could have decided that the better thing to do would be simply to carry out the full deed.

Many questions remain. Stay tuned. Regardless of which interpretation is correct, we have to operate on the assumption that the first is a very real possibility and that we have a lot of work to do in the next ten days.

*John Wilson reminds me in this post that all the members of the Board did sign a letter supporting Wise’s position, which I had forgotten about.

Update (11:15 pm)

Just to clarify my blog post: Like all of us, I have no idea what Wise and the Board are thinking (though we can assume that they are making this decision together). But while I think we have to be as strategic and smart about this as possible (fyi: John Wilson thinks I’m wrong; he may have a point), and gather as much information as we can, there’s always a tendency in these situations to play armchair strategist, to try and read the tea leaves, to figure out the pattern of power, as if we didn’t have hand or a role in shaping that pattern of power. Particularly when questions of law get involved (in a country of lawyers, Louis Hartz reminded us, every philosophical question is turned into a legal claim.) We have to resist that tendency. We have to treat this announcement, assuming it’s true, as a golden opportunity. To use the next 10 days as a chance to shift the balance of power on the ground. Remember the Board will be meeting and voting on campus. There are students, faculty, and activists on and around that campus. That’s an opportunity. Remember these trustees are individuals who can be called and emailed round the clock. That’s an opportunity. Between now and 9/11 (they really chose that date), let’s be mindful of the constraints, but also be thinking, always, in terms of opportunities.

September 2, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment

Five point action plan for political advocacy in the UK on Palestine around reconstruction

Palestine: a journal of everyday occupation | August 31, 2014

Below are five points that campaigning organisations and individuals should be using in all discussions and correspondence with their political representatives. This is UK-specific as DFID wants to play the leading role in co-ordinating the reconstruction of Gaza. The five point action plan relies on international law and the UK’s responsibility as a signatory of the IV Geneva Convention.

Next month there is a donors’ conference in Cairo and it is vital that British voters start pressuring their MPs as soon as possible. An online petition issued by a coalition of civil society organisations (such as Oxfam, War on Want, PSC, JFJFP, etc) which individuals can sign is also a powerful tool to exert political pressure.

I would like to ask all civil society organisations and individuals in the UK to read this, share it and help implement it as a campaign. There is a general election in the UK next year, let’s work now to make Palestine a key issue for MPs, especially the issue of the Blockade.

  1. UK taxpayers should not subsidise Israel’s destruction of Gaza. Taxpayers financially support the work of DFID in assisting in the rebuilding efforts, but Israel should reimburse all of DFID’s costs. DFID should send an itemised assessment, or the UK government should send a similar bill, to the Israeli government. The bill should clearly state that the UK government is issuing it as part of third-state responsibility to ensure accountability and prevent impunity for international law violations. The UK is obligated as a third state party, party to IV Geneva Convention, to demand from the violator to make reparations, compensation.
  2. Taxpayers should demand that the UK government makes public the complete list of all UK-funded projects destroyed and/or damaged and/or setback and/or delayed by Israel’s war on Gaza. This should also apply to the West Bank and East Jerusalem demolitions. This includes DFID funding of INGO’s who partner with local NGO’s, not just direct DFID funding.
  3. Should Israel refuse to pay for the damages or for DFID’s reconstruction projects, then the UK and EU should impose a Gaza reconstruction tax on all Israeli imports. The fees collected will go towards a Gaza Reconstruction Fund.
  4. DFID projects must be aimed at empowering the local Palestinian economy (local means all of Palestine). Israel should not profit from its violations, ie, its markets should be excluded from or be of last resort for providing materials for reconstruction projects.
  5. Reconstruction should not be done by accommodating the Blockade or any other illegal action. (That means continuing to use Israeli controlled crossings at the restricted rates of the Blockade which simply perpetuates the Blockade.) Ending the blockade means ending Israeli control of all imports. The current paradigm needs to be changed through international political action: Gaza needs an autonomous crossing not controlled by Israel, for example, an international seaport. The EU proposal for a Cyprus corridor is a good first start and should be supported by the UK and EU.

August 31, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Jim Page: I’d Rather Be Dancing (Rachel Corrie’s Song)

The words of Jim Page’s song “I’d rather be dancing” are based on the letters Rachel Corrie wrote home to her parents before the Israeli army crushed her to death in Gaza on 16 March 2003. She was murdered, crushed by an Israeli army bulldozer, when attempting to prevent the demolition of a house in Rafah, Gaza, owned by a Palestinian doctor and his family. Rachel was 23-years-old. See rachelcorriefoundation.org

LYRICS:

you know I was always the one
I could never stand idly by
and watch while the bullies beat up on the weaker ones
I had to do something to try
and I never gave up on people
that we could be better somehow
morality’s compass, you gave it to me
I still follow it now

well, I couldn’t stop thinking about it
I couldn’t get it out of my mind
the pictures, the stories, the plight of the people
in occupied Palestine
how my government makes me complicit
with the political aid that they send
so I packed up my bags and I headed to Rafa
to work with the ISM

and I’d rather be dancing, dancing and falling in love
but if I just can just watch from a distance then what am I made of

mama these people are so good to me
they treat me like one of their own
they feed me and see to my needs
and let me sleep in their home
papa their lives are so hard
the gun shots night
the road blocks, the strip searches, the humiliations
papa it just isn’t right

I can feel my privilege around me
it’s there in my American face
I could wave my passport around like a flag
and I would be safe in this place
for these child soldiers of Israel
they look like the boys back home
and if it wasn’t for American money
they’d have to leave these people alone

and I’d rather be dancing, dancing to Pat Benatar
but somebody has to do somethin’ about it and here we are

the tractors are coming today
they’re like tanks with bulldozer blades
the name on the side says Caterpillar
that means they’re American made
well, I am American too
and I’ll be where everybody can see
so if they want to run over these houses today
they’re gonna have to run over me

it’s dangerous takin’ a stand
but it’s dangerous running away
sometimes you have to face up to the danger
there is just no other way
for there are such beautiful dreams
I have seen the eyes of a child
and if I can just make one little difference
then I think my life is worth while

and I’d rather be dancing, but instead I’m saying goodbye
but we’ll meet again when it’s over, don’t cry

and I’d rather be dancing, and surely we’d all rather be
and one day we’ll dance in a world that’s peaceful and free

SOURCE

August 31, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, Video, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Senators Urge Ecuador to Restore Relations with Israel

teleSUR | August 27, 2014

Ecuador will continue supporting Palestine despite U.S. pressure to restore diplomatic relations with Israel.

The successful campaign “Ecuador with Palestine” organized by civil society and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs resulted in 20 tons of medical supplies and other crucial donations that will be delivered to Gaza next week.

The end of the campaign on August 25 coincided with a letter sent by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio, Bob Menendez, Mark Kirk and James Risch, urging the governments of Ecuador, Brazil, El Salvador, Peru and Chile to restore diplomatic relations with Israel.

The letter read, “Your actions send a troubling message to the United States about your government’s commitment to long-lasting peace between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.”

In early August President Rafael Correa canceled a trip to Israel scheduled for the second half of this year. This decision was made in the midst of the “Operation Protective Edge,” which saw a ceasefire begin Tuesday after leaving more than 2,200 Palestinians dead.

The government of Ecuador recalled its ambassador in Tel Aviv and has opened an embassy in Ramallah.

Reacting to the letter sent by the senators, Foreign Minister Ricard Patiño said, “These men should give advice in their own house, they are not going to give the Ecuadorian government advice, worse is this type of advice of a political nature.”

“We are going to keep developing other agreements to enter in strong bilateral relations,” said Palestinian Ambassador in Ecuador Hani Remawi, “We have a lot to give Ecuador, and Ecuador also has more, much, much more to offer Palestine.” … Full article

August 30, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Protestors mobilise for week-long protest against NATO summit in Wales

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament | August 29, 2014

As world leaders prepare to attend the NATO Summit in Newport next week, campaigners are mobilising for a week of protest and debate to challenge this ‘interventionist, expansionist, military club.’

A mass demonstration against NATO will take place in Newport tomorrow (Saturday 30 August), while a Counter-Summit will be held on Sunday 31 August at Cardiff County Hall, and on Monday 1 September in Newport.

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said:

‘Far from promoting security, NATO is a destabilising global force. Its war of aggression in Afghanistan has killed tens of thousands and left that country fragmented: the ripples of which are being felt across the region.

‘Through its insatiable expansion into eastern Europe, capitalising on the vacuum left following the collapse of the USSR, NATO has contributed to heightening tensions around Russia and Ukraine, and risks provoking a new Cold War.

‘As a nuclear alliance which has repeatedly rejected a “No First Use” policy – as well as adopting an offensive posture for “out of area” operations, NATO has shown itself for what it is: an interventionist, expansionist, military club which favours threats over diplomacy.

‘We don’t want US/NATO nukes on European soil. We don’t want its wars of aggression. And we’re here to challenge this aggressive alliance which makes all of us less safe. Tens of millions around the world want peace, justice and an end to NATO.’

Events

Sat 30 Aug: Demonstration and rally in Newport

Sun 31 Aug: Counter-Summit in Cardiff

Mon 1 Sep: Counter-Summit in Newport

Wed 3 Sep – Fri 5 Sep: Various actions and protests

For full details of events see: www.cnduk.org/natosummit

August 29, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism | , , | Leave a comment

Boycott Israel – Immortal Technique

Don Martin ft Immortal Technique (US), Eltipo Este (Cuba), Tumi (South Africa), Tonto Noiza (France). Prod Tommy Tee. Video by Ulfdawg. English translation + free download below.

Visit http://www.bdsmovement.net for more information on boycott campaign. Download the track mp3 free at http://www.donmartin.no/boycott-israel/

Lyrics

Immortal Technique:
Bambaataa told us knowledge was the fifth element
Truth behind the lies is what the music represents
So how the fuck you gonna have a peace settlement?
When people want a piece of your land to build settlements
There’s all different kinda terrorism you can perpetrate
Every dead body causes karma to circulate
There’s suicide bombin’ buildings full of civilians
Or cutting off water to cities full of children
You can’t try to justify collective punishment
A country never finds peace with bodies buried under it
I guess some Americans just don’t remember
There’s a slave graveyard under the world trade center
Stop the criticism of Iranian nuclear fission
Until mutual nuclear disarmament’s the mission
This ain’t about religion, Muslim, Jew or Christian
It’s about people making money off of that division

Tumi:
I am recognizing that the voices in my head
Are urging me to be myself and never follow when I’m led
So with that said it’s insurgency as we confirm some things
I am anti Zionist and any form of fundamentalist
The devil’s in the specifics mixing with your favorite dish
You can beef with Israel and not be antisemitic
Don’t buy beef from Israel cause you paying to kill them kids
So if you’re rocking this shit, go ahead do the Gaza strip
My heart race when I hear apartheid from out their lips
We have lived it, missed Olympics, seen ‘free Mandela’ pickets
And his image beamed repeatedly to street favela children
Even freed from prison cause of global criticism
Of this horrible system boycotted by the citizens

Boycott, boycott Israel

Tonto Noiza:
There’s only one step from hypocrisy to diplomacy,
Staying there sitting down in front of the stale situation
It is not the picture I have of human rights
Cause the immunity Israel grants itself shocks me
Look at the poverty of a people
How to relativize
This is the power that must be broken
I´m coming aiming without stigmatizing
I haven´t come to enter pacts like the UN
Nor to stir up hatred
But the inequality that bad faith entails has tenfold my sadness
It is the governing bodies I address, because they attack
For the price of past errors it is a whole people they oppress
For all innocent on all sides dragged into this fight
The bill is saltier then the dead sea. We have to get out of it

Boycott, boycott, boycott

Don Martin:
It´s raining grenades over Gaza´s roofs
hitting hospitals, hitting kindergarten children, hitting dormitories
Off course we are calling it an apartheid state
They´re building a wall between themselves and those who shall not have citizenship
Because if you call something “pro-Palestinian”
then (international) rules do not count anymore. You best believe that
there is a more macabre sound to the word “blood orange”
when it is grown in stolen land and grows from a dead body.
Not in my name, not with my money
It´s not enough to just sit around complaining/crying anymore
We must hit the foundation, show Israel.
Cause they don´t give a shit about resolutions anyway
It´s a small part of a much bigger picture
Like when we boycotted Shell, when I was much younger
The responsibility lies with all of us ,so we want
anyone with a conscience – boycott Israel

 

Boycott Israel vocal sample from Arundhati Roy’s speech “Come September”

August 28, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Video | , | Leave a comment

Oakland activist: How we blockaded the Israeli ship

Green Left Weekly | August 23, 2014

In an action that has reverberated around the world and inspired pro-Palestinian activists, five days of pickets by activists prevented a ship from the Israeli shipping company Zim Integrated Shipping Services from unloading almost any of its cargo at the port of Oakland.

The blockade was organised as part of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign targetting Israel called for by dozens of Palestinian civil society groups. It was the longest blockade yet of an Israeli ship anywhere in the world.

Below is the account of a participant in the blockade, Oakland-based activist Peter Turner.

* * *

I am one of the “autonomous activists” referred to in the press releases of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC). I am not affiliated with any of the groups listed as endorsers on the AROC website. I am an experienced waterfront activist who took part in every picket while the Zim Piraeus was in port.

The original call for a blockage of a Zim ship went out from AROC in late July, but that was quickly retracted and the August 16 date was substituted. We then watched the ship on tracking websites and it became clear it was delayed while the protest situation unfolded.

During that time, tactical differences emerged within the movement. AROC changed its call and instead advocated a march to Pier 57, where the ship was due to dock, on August 16 for a protest against the war on Gaza.

The march also raised the situation in Ferguson, Missouri (where there are ongoing protests against the police killing of an unarmed teenager), at least partly because the march was met by a contingent of Oakland police.

The march was energetic but peaceful, but the ship was still at sea. About 2000 people took part.

When the Zim Piraeus finally docked on August 17, it was met by pickets at Pier 57. We ascertained which gates would be used by trucks and longshoremen to enter work and posted pickets there. Our intention was to discourage any cargo operations in order to force the ship to leave port.

Trucks entered the gates, but the longshoremen honoured our pickets. The Oakland Police and Alameda County Sheriff Department created openings at the gates.

The picketers could be generally described as Occupy Oakland activists, mostly young; experienced left militants who abound in the San Francisco Bay Area; and those specifically concerned with the war on Gaza, many of them Palestinians.

Others might describe us differently, but I think this is a good description of most of us. The assumption that it was AROC or any other group that led the picket effort is inaccurate.

For four days, we met at the pier and succeeded. A small number of activists were arrested for civil disobedience, but the situation was peaceful. The longshoremen honoured our pickets and no cargo moved.

The union released statements saying they took no position on the political issues at hand, but felt the police presence created a safety hazard. This is connected to a 2003 anti-war demonstration at the port at which the police attacked peaceful demonstrators and longshoremen reporting to work. Some were shot.

Resentment over that continues. During the picket we were aware that few dispatches from the union hall took place.

Several times small groups of longshoremen approached or assembled nearby. We engaged them in conversation and relations were friendly.

The ranks shared the official union position, but went beyond it to express sympathy for our cause and resentment of the stevedoring companies.

Coincidentally, the union and stevedoring companies are in contentious contract negotiations. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) contract expired July 1, so the longshoremen are working without a contract.

As a result, longshoremen who honoured our pickets lost pay, a fact known by the picketers.

This added to the solidarity created between the picketers and longshoremen, something pre-existing because of the militant history of the ILWU and its tradition of honouring community pickets.

After four days the ship announced its intention to sail. No cargo had been moved, in spite of a public declaration by Israeli sources that it had.

AROC Executive Director Lara Kiswani appeared on the morning of the fourth day to announce a victory, praising the solidarity of the longshoremen.

The ship sailed without unloading its cargo, but then the ship’s pilot pulled a U-turn at the pilot station off the Golden Gate. The ship returned to dock at pier 22-24 and was quickly met by picketers who had monitored its movements.

Since the longshoremen had made it obvious that they would honour our pickets, the ILWU Local 10 Business Agent took longshoremen from other ships and moved them to the Zim Piraeus.

This was a violation of the dispatch rules and the solidarity felt by the ranks, so it was met with a reaction. I would politely call it a “lack of enthusiasm” for the work on the part of the rank and file, but the result was little cargo was offloaded, reportedly some perishables.

On the morning of August 20, the fifth day of the action, at about 6.30am, the ship departed after an hour of picketing.

For some reason the media reported the cargo had been offloaded and the ship departed at 8.45am. That is inaccurate, as I drove home from the picket at pier 22-24 to view the ship from my house as it anchored off Hunter’s Point in San Francisco Bay about 8am. The ship was still fully loaded and had not backloaded any containers.

This entire action revealed several lessons. One is that concerted effort of dedicated militants together with the solidarity of the affected workers can bring serious economic and political pressure to bear.

Reciprocal solidarity will be forthcoming, a strong message to any employer seeking to weaken the ILWU. We all talked about it, with no dissent.

Also, we should never trust the word of the employer or the establishment press. They collude to undermine the majority and deceive the public in the interest of profit.

We also should be wary of the motives of entrenched union bureaucrats, too many of whom have instinctive sympathy with employers and will betray the interests of their members. The strength of the union is its rank and file, and democracy and consciousness are necessary for their interests to be furthered.

There are tactical differences within our movement, and we should tend to defer to the judgment of those who put in the commitment to take part and who make the connection with affected workers. Bureaucracy exists on the left as well as in unions, government, or any other institution.

We should show wisdom in our strategy and tactics, but not retreat in the face of adversity and have the courage to fight and win. Together, we can make a better world.

August 27, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Palestine Supporters Block Israeli Ships in Washington and Los Angeles

By Celine Hagbard | IMEMC News | August 24, 2014

Following a four-day long port blockade action in Oakland, California, in which activists delayed and blocked an Israeli ship from unloading its goods, Palestine supporters in Tacoma, Washington and Los Angeles, California have continued the action on Friday and Saturday by blocking two ships from the Israeli Zim line.

The activists are following a call from hundreds of Palestinian civil society groups to boycott Israeli goods, as part of a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions aimed at pressuring Israel through economic means to comply with its obligations under international law, and end its attacks and discrimination against the Palestinian people.

Protesters coordinated their actions with the start and stop times of the shifts of dockworkers, most of whom are unionized with the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse workers Union). They hoped that, by forming a picket line in front of the port entrances, they would be able to create a situation in which the unionized workers would be able to say that crossing the picket could endanger their safety. If that condition exists, the union workers are permitted to go home without carrying out the work of unloading the ship.

This happened on a number of the shifts during the four-day long blockade in Oakland and, apparently, occurred for several of the shifts at the port of Los Angeles and the Port of Tacoma as well. The ships only have a few days in which they can remain in port in order to keep their schedule, so, there is a good possibility that, because of the delays and ‘health and safety’ issues, many of the goods on the ships were not unloaded at all.

Among those participating in the port blockade in Tacoma, Washington are the parents of the late Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003, at the age of 23, while standing in front of a Palestinian doctor’s home to try to stop the Israeli military from demolishing it.

Zim Integrated Shipping Services is an Israeli firm specializing in shipping Israeli products to ports around the world. It is the largest Israeli international shipping company. The company was founded in 1945 by the Jewish Agency and the Histadrut (General Federation of Laborers in the Land of Israel). When Israel was created in 1948, the government of Israel held a controlling share in the firm until 2008, when the controlling share was sold to the Israel Corporation.

The Israel Corporation was originally founded by the government of Israel, and was exempted from taxes for decades – it is now controlled by the Ofer Brothers.

One of the Oakland action organizers, Reem Assil, said, “It’s not just about the military offensive in Gaza. That sparked an international outrage, but we know this is nothing new. The ceasefire is still up in the air, and we want to make sure to use this point in our history to make sure this never happens again. Part of doing that is to isolate Israel.”

She said that activists in Oakland worked closely with union members to try to build support for their action, adding, “This is the kick-off of what we hope to be many. We hope this is the beginning of a continued coordinated strategy of working with local rank and file and educating union members.”

The exact products on board the Zim ships are unknown, but they are likely to include Sodastream, a do-it-yourself soda-making device which is manufactured in an Israeli settlement on illegally-seized Palestinian land; Ahava dead sea salts, which are seized from Palestinian land in violation of the Dead Sea Agreement, and Osem brand food products, some of which are manufactured and packaged in Israeli settlements on illegally-seized Palestinian land, in the West Bank.

Following the successful actions in Oakland, Tacoma and Los Angeles, Palestine supporters in other cities say they are preparing for potential blockades of Israeli ships from the Zim line in Seattle, Washington, Dublin, Ireland (August 29th), and Valencia, Spain (August 24th).

August 24, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Demand Swells for Straight Answers on Plane in Ukraine

By David Swanson | War is a Crime | August 22, 2014

A long list of prominent individuals has signed, a number of organizations will be promoting next week, and you can be one of the first to sign right now, a petition titled “Call For Independent Inquiry of the Airplane Crash in Ukraine and its Catastrophic Aftermath.”

The petition is directed to “All the heads of states of NATO countries, and of Russia and the Ukraine, to Ban-ki Moon and the heads of states of countries on the UN Security Council.” And it will be delivered to each of them.

The petition reads:

“Set up an impartial international fact finding inquiry and a public report on the events in Ukraine to reveal the truth of what occurred.

“Why is this important?

“It’s important because there is so much misinformation and disinformation in the media that we are careening towards a new cold war with Russia over this.”

That’s not hyperbole. It’s the language of U.S. and Russian politicians and media.

Of course, there are undisputed facts that could change people’s understanding. Many Americans are unaware of NATO’s expansion or of what actions Russia views as aggressive and threatening. But when a particular incident appears to be set up as a proximate cause for war it is well worth our time to insist on an exposure of the facts.  Doing so is not to concede that any outcome of the inquiry would justify a war.  Rather it is to prevent the imposition of an unproven explanation that makes war more likely.

What if the Gulf of Tonkin had been investigated 50 years ago this month? What if the independent inquiry that Spain wanted into the USS Maine had been allowed? What if Congress hadn’t swallowed the one about the babies taken from incubators or that hilarious bit about the vast stockpiles of WMDs? Or, on the other hand, what if everyone had listened to John Kerry unskeptically on Syria last year?

When a Malaysian airplane went down in Ukraine, Kerry immediately blamed Vladimir Putin, but has yet to produce any evidence to back up the accusation. Meanwhile, we learn that the U.S. government is looking into the possibility that what happened was actually an attempt to assassinate Putin. Those two versions, the one initially announced with no apparent basis and the one reportedly now being investigated in secret, could hardly be more different.  That the second one is under consideration makes it appear very likely that any serious proof of the former claim has not been found.

Here’s a longer version of the petition:

“At this very moment in history, when so many people and nations around the world are  acknowledging the 100th Anniversary of our planet’s  hapless stumble into World War I,  great powers and their allies are ironically once again provoking new dangers where governments appear to be sleepwalking towards a restoration of old Cold War battles. A barrage of conflicting information is broadcast in the various national and nationalistic media with alternative versions of reality that provoke and stoke new enmities and rivalries across national borders.

“With the U.S. and Russia in possession of over 15,000 of the world’s 16,400 nuclear weapons, humanity can ill-afford to stand by and permit these conflicting views of history and opposing assessments of the facts on the ground to lead to a 21st Century military confrontation between the great powers and their allies.  While sadly acknowledging the trauma suffered by the countries of Eastern Europe from years of Soviet occupation, and understanding their desire for the protection of the NATO military alliance, we the signers of this global call to action also note that the Russian people lost 20 million people during WWII to the Nazi onslaught and are understandably wary of NATO expansion to their borders in a hostile environment.   Russia has lost the protection of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which the US abandoned in 2001, and warily observes missile bases metastasizing ever closer to its borders in new NATO member states, while the US rejects repeated Russian efforts for negotiations on a treaty to ban weapons in space, or Russia’s prior application for membership in NATO.

“For these reasons, we the peoples, as members of Civil Society, Non-Governmental Organizations, and global citizens, committed to peace and nuclear disarmament, demand that an independent international inquiry be commissioned to review events in Ukraine leading up to the Malaysian jet crash and of the procedures being used to review the catastrophic aftermath.  The inquiry should factually determine the cause of the accident and hold responsible parties accountable to the families of the victims and the citizens of the world who fervently desire peace and a peaceful settlement of any existing conflicts.  It should include a fair and balanced presentation of what led to the deterioration of U.S. –Russian relations and the new hostile and polarized posture that the U.S. and Russia with their allies find themselves in today.

“The UN Security Council, with US and Russian agreement, has already passed Resolution 2166 addressing the Malaysian jet crash, demanding accountability, full access to the site and a halt to military activity which has been painfully disregarded at various times since the incident.   One of the provisions of SC Res 2166 notes that the Council “[s]upports efforts to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines.”  Further, the 1909 revised Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes adopted at the 1899 Hague International Peace Conference has been used successfully to resolve issues between states so that war was avoided in the past.  Both Russia and Ukraine are parties to the Convention.

“Regardless of the forum where the evidence is gathered and fairly evaluated, we the undersigned urge that the facts be known as to how we got to this unfortunate state of affairs on our planet today and what might be the solutions.  We urge Russia and Ukraine as well as their allies and partners to engage in diplomacy and negotiations, not war and hostile alienating actions.   The world can little afford the trillions of dollars in military spending and trillions and trillions of brain cells wasted on war when our very Earth is under stress and needs the critical attention of our best minds and thinking and the abundance of resources mindlessly diverted to war to be made available for the challenge confronting us to create a livable future for life on earth.”

Here are initial signatories (organizations for identification only): (Add your name.)

August 22, 2014 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment

2,700 Scholars Boycott UI, Philosopher Cancels Prestigious Lecture

Salaita Deemed Excellent Teacher, UI Trustees Meet Again

By Corey Robin | August 21, 2014

I’m still on vacation and mostly staying offline but I wanted to do a quick update on the Salaita affair.

1. Tomorrow, August 22, the Executive Committee of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet again. The Executive Committee met on Monday, August 18. In an email, Phan Nguyen wrote to me, “According to the listing of BOT Executive Committee meetings on the website, there haven’t been two such meetings held within four days of each other” in quite some time, if ever. But where the Monday meeting agenda explicitly stated that employment and litigation matters would be discussed, the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting specifies no specific topics for discussion. And where Monday’s meeting was listed a closed meeting, this meeting doesn’t say if it’s closed or not.

2. Going into Monday’s meeting, many of us thought something —a decision, a deal, something—was afoot. But according to this report in the local media, no decisions were made at the meeting.

“There are a number of issues being discussed,” President Bob Easter told The News-Gazette after the meeting, but trustees are “not at a place where I can say” if resolution is close. He declined to talk further because it was a closed session about personnel. [...]

3. One of the issues that comes up frequently among the University of Illinois’s defenders is that Salaita’s tweets suggest he might create a hostile environment for students, that he’s not fit for the classroom. It’s a strange claim to make under any circumstance—how I am on Twitter bears little relationship to how I am in the classroom or in my interactions with students; all of us have different relationships with different people, and we act differently in different circumstances—but in Salaita’s case it’s especially strange because he actually has a demonstrated track record as a teacher that the University of Illinois could consult.

Salaita taught for eight years at Virginia Tech, and like most professors, he was evaluated by his students every semester. According to this report, these were the results:

The student evaluations for Steven Salaita are stunning.

In Fall 2009, 29 of 30 students responding rated Salaita’s “knowledge of subject” as “Excellent”.  In the same course, 93 percent of students rated Professor Salaita’s “overall rating” as “excellent,” and 2 as “good.”

In the same term, another group of students gave Salaita nearly identical—though even better —marks: 29 of 30 rated him “excellent” for knowledge of subject, 30 of 30 graded him excellent for grading fairness, and 93 percent rated him “excellent” for overall rating, 1 good.

These numbers repeat consistently over all six of the courses Professor Salaita submitted for review.  The lowest rating he received in the “excellent” category for “overall rating” was 86 percent.  Salaita never received, in any of the six courses evaluated, a single rating of “poor” for any of ten categories of teaching reviewed.  In his lone graduate seminar, he scored a perfect 100 percent rating of “excellence” in the category of “overall rating.”

But for purposes of our argument, it is especially important to note student evaluations of Professor Salaita in the category of “concern and respect” for students.  Here is where students evaluate their professor for professional empathy, respect for diverse points of view, and sensitivity to student opinion and student lives.

In the six courses reviewed, Professor Salaita scored as follows in this category:

# of Students

30 Total: 28 Excellent  2 Good

30 Total:  30 out of 30 Excellent

10 Total: 10 out of 10 Excellent

29 Total: 28 Excellent 1 Good

28 Total: 28 out of 28 excellent

28 Total: 25 out of 28 excellent, 2 good, one No Response

In addition to these metrics, Professor Salaita submitted a peer review letter of his teaching by a Virginia Tech colleague in English. This colleague visited Salaita’s classes to provide the department an assessment of Salaita’s teaching.

The letter cites Salaita’s numerical excellence in student evaluations, but goes on to praise his teaching in terms that would be the envy of Professors everywhere:

While the numbers are impressive, the student comments bear out in detail how deserving Steven is of the high ratings. The students are acutely aware that they are privileged to be studying with a well-regarded scholar, who draws his knowledge from years of study and experience. Steven is perceived as being knowledgeable and accessible—he takes time to talk with students and to encourage them in preparing their writing assignments… When asked questions in class, Steve gives factual and thoughtful replies. It is clear to all that the teacher has mastery of his field.

Salaita’s colleague goes on to say:

The classes I visited focused on several very contemporary bodies of literature, most specifically Arab-American literature. These works are difficult to understand and appreciate fully without the help of a good guide who knows the turf. Professor Salaita is extremely well-informed on the history and current status of the many nations, political parties and religious sects of the Middle East. This subject matter is urgently important not only for specialists in international affairs, but for anyone seeking to better understand the violent and volatile contemporary world.

This record shows only one thing: that Steven Salaita is an outstanding classroom teacher.

4. The campaign on behalf of Salaita has gathered steam. Yesterday, philosopher David Blacker canceled his scheduled appearance at the prestigious CAS/MillerComm lecture series at the University of Illinois. In a letter to the university, he wrote:

I regret to inform you that I must cancel my CAS/MillerComm lecture at the University of Illinois scheduled for September 29….

I have decided I must honor the growing worldwide pledge of academics not to appear at U. of I. unless the Salaita matter is acceptably resolved….

… Instead of choosing education and more speech as the remedy for disagreeable speech,the U. of I. has apparently chosen “enforced silence.” It thus violates what a university must stand for — whatever else it stands for — and therefore I join those who will not participate in the violation. In my judgment, this is a core and non-negotiable issue of academic freedom.

My hope is that the U. of I. will relent and restore its good name.  I would be delighted to reschedule my talk if and when this happens.

5. I haven’t got complete updates on the boycott campaign, but here are some new numbers (if I don’t have new numbers, I don’t list the petitions here; for a fuller list, go here):

Anthropology: 121

Latino/a and Chicano/a Studies: 70

Communications: 73

Sociology: 242

Philosophy: 241

English: 256

Political Science: 169

Rhetoric/Composition: 32

Contingent academics: 210

Along with our other signatories on other petitions (for which I do not have updated numbers), we’ve got 2716 scholars committed to not engaging with the University of Illinois until Steven Salaita is reinstated.

A more general petition calling on the University of Illinois to reinstate Salaita has over 15,000 signatures.

Updated (9 pm)

An entire conference scheduled at the UI has now been officially canceled.

The Education Justice Project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been carefully observing the growing international academic boycott of our campus and weighing the potential impacts upon our Strategies for Action National Conference on Higher Education in Prison. After thoughtful deliberation, we have canceled the national conference.

This decision has not been easy.

We reached this decision after consulting with conference presenters and attendees, directors of other prison education programs, members of the higher ed in prison listserv, and with members of the Education Justice Project. We concluded that for EJP to host the conference at this time would compromise our ability to come together as a national community of educators and activists.

Updated (10 pm)

Yet another scholar has pulled out from a distinguished lecture series at the University of Illinois. This time it’s Allen Isaacman, Regents Professor of History at the University of Minnesota.

August 22, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism | , | 2 Comments

Largest Canadian students’ union joins boycott of Israel

MEMO | August 22, 2014

871made-in-israelThe Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario, the largest student union in Canada, has decided to boycott Israel because of its ongoing aggression towards Gaza.

The decision was made unanimously by the participants of the union’s General Assembly meeting which was held at the Ryerson University, Toronto, and affects all 300,000 members.

Anna Goldfinch, a member of the union’s Board of Directors, said the decision to include the boycott of Israel, divestment and the application of sanctions was taken to show solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The President of the Students Union of the University of Ryerson, Rajean Hoilett said Israel had committed war crimes against the Palestinian people, and the Canadian universities that maintain relations with Israel also engage in war crimes.

August 22, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 2 Comments

Israeli ship blockade continues in California

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Al-Akhbar | August 19, 2014

US activists blocked an Israeli cargo ship from unloading at a California port for the third day in a row in protest of the recent Israeli assault on Gaza, organizers of the action reported late Monday.

The vessel, owned and operated by Israeli company Zim Shipping Services, has been trying to unload Israeli cargo in the port of Oakland since Saturday.

Thousands of protesters prevented the ship from unloading on Saturday, with the cooperation of dock workers who refused to unload the boat.

The ship has failed to unload its cargo despite attempting various tactics, including delaying its arrival time until the early morning hours. About a dozen activists continued to hold off the ship early Monday morning, according to activist sources.

One activist who spoke to Al Jazeera said the organizers were thinking of making the block a regular action, as Israeli ships arrive in the port every Saturday.

The blockade is supported by the International Longshoremen and Warehousemen Unions, a group which also stood against the South African apartheid regime in 1984.

August 19, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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