Thursday: Nonviolence, Conscientious Objection & the Israeli Occupation

Did this summer’s events in Gaza motivate you to learn more about the conflict?
Want to learn more from someone personally involved?
Curious about how to get engaged in promoting equal rights and justice for Palestinians and Israelis?
Stanford SJP Presents:
Nonviolence, Conscientious Objection & the Israeli Occupation
Thursday October 9 at 7:00pm
El Centro Lounge
SJP_Flyer (1)
Moriel Rothman-Zecher helped found the All That’s Left Anti-Occupation Collective, and is an active member of a number of Israeli and Diaspora campaigns to end the occupation. Moriel currently lives in Tel Aviv with his wife, Kayla, and their puppy, where he works as an independent writer, poet, political activist and public speaker.

Moriel’s writings have appeared in Sojourners Magazine, Haaretz, the Daily Beast, the Jewish Daily Forward, the Huffington Post, the Berkeley Journal of Sociology, and more. He is a frequent contributor to +972 Magazine, and blogs independently at The Leftern Wall.

Join SJP’s October programming!

Welcome back to campus, everyone! Whether you’re a frosh or a third year PhD, if you’re interested in getting involved with campus organizing for justice in Palestine and Israeli, check out the events we’re sponsoring and participating in throughout October!

A Forum on Gaza: What Should We Know? (Sponsored by the Peace & Justice Studies Initiative)

Tuesday, September 30
7-9pm, Building 260/Pigott Hall, Room 113 (Stanford University)
Joel Beinin, the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History at Stanford, and co-edtior (with Frédéric Vairel) ofSocial Movements, Mobilization, and Contestation in the Middle East and North Africa (2nd edition, 2013). He teaches courses on the modern Middle East, including “Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.
George Bisharat, Professor of Law at UC Hastings, has authored a book and numerous articles about the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. He teaches courses on Law in Middle East Societies, Islamic Law, Law and Social Anthropology, and Criminal Procedure.
Atalia Omer, Associate Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, is the author of When Peace is Not Enough: How the Israeli Peace Camp Thinks about Religion, Nationalism, and Justice (2013). She has taught Introduction to Peace Studies and other courses.
Palestine 101 || Thursday, Oct.2, 7-9PM | Bechtel International Center

Join us in a student-led teach-in to discuss the origins and current state of the Israel-Palestine conflict and recent events in Gaza. 

Just to get a head count, please fill out: Palestine 101 RSVP.

SJP Open Meeting || Monday, Oct.6, 8-9PM || Old Union 220

Join us in our first open meeting of the academic year to learn how you can get involved in Stanford SJP and the growing Palestinian solidarity movement.

Also, if interested and haven’t already, please fill out this interest form to assist SJP in programming for the fall and incorporating new members into the group! 
October events

Stanford SJP condemns police brutality in Ferguson

We, Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine, condemn the police murder of Michael Brown.  We condemn the failure of the St. Louis County Police Department to hold Darren Wilson accountable for murdering Michael, continuing the crisis of police and vigilantes killing one black person every 28 hours.  We condemn the use of dogs, SWAT teams, and military equipment against unarmed protestors, who are largely African American, and are demanding to be heard and treated as human beings.  We condemn the new atrocities unfolding day after day.

The police’s actions against the community of Ferguson, Missouri have drawn widespread shock, as well as the notice and solidarity of many Palestinians. St. Louis Police have used many of the same tactics the Israeli military uses on Palestinians, including the deployment of tear gas (an illegal weapon in international warfare) as “domestic riot control,” pointing assault rifles at large groups of people, including children, blocking anyone from entering or leaving Ferguson, and setting curfews–all in the name of “safety,” all for control. And meanwhile, the mainstream American media continues to attempt to malign Michael Brown’s character, and to downplay the significance of yet another police murder.

The mainstream US media has been very slow to care about Black people in Ferguson.  There are too many eyewitnesses saying that Brown was unarmed and compliant for the media to blame his death on his own actions – so instead they have slandered his character implicitly, choosing to feed the racist fear of Black people through the use of racially loaded headlines and photos. In addition, they have enabled the Ferguson PD’s leaking of surveillance footage that allegedly shows Brown at a convenience store prior to the shooting, even though the chief of police said that Officer Wilson had no knowledge of this when he accosted and killed Brown. All of these actions by the media are consistent with the active construction of racism and with placing the burden of proof on the unarmed and murdered victim. It took individual Black people responding and coordinating on social media to bring this trend into question.

We recognize that the struggles in Ferguson and Palestine are interconnected, but are not to be conflated. Militarization of American police is one of many tactics used in a quest to control Black people that has been ongoing since before the founding of the United States. In St. Louis in particular, Mike Brown’s murder was not the beginning of police violence. St. Louis County Police Chief Timothy Fitch’s participation in a “counter-terrorism” training in Israel was not the beginning of the force’s militarization. The racist actions of St. Louis County Police are not new in St. Louis, nor are similar actions new anywhere in the United States.

We express our solidarity with those in the black community who have been affected by police brutality. As an organization, we are committed to working to dismantle systems of oppression and state-sponsored violence, especially when it is based on factors such as race and ethnicity. As fellow students, we offer our compassion on a more personal level. We would like to express our continued appreciation to Stanford NAACP and the Black Student Union for acting in solidarity with SJP in the past, and wish to affirm our commitment to working on joint campaigns against racism and violence in the future.


Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine

The Palestine Report: Israeli Ship Blocked / Truce Negotiations Continue / Boycott of Israel

Welcome to Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine’s new weekly newsletter! We aim to educate campus on issues affecting human rights in Palestine and Israel by providing a centralized and consistent source of information. The news and analysis pieces below should be accessible regardless of your familiarity with the issue. 

Editor’s Note: In this issue, we highlight worldwide protests against Israel’s occupation and assault on Gaza. For four days, California protesters blocked the Israeli-owned Zim cargo ship from unloading at the port of Oakland as part of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to increase economic and political pressure on Israel until it complies with international law. In Los Angeles, demonstrators occupied Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office to protest her vote to send $225 million to Israel amidst the massacre in Gaza; four demonstrators were arrested and remain in jail. Meanwhile, protests in Ferguson, MO against the police killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, have highlighted the connection in police militarization between the US and Israel, which our former co-president Kristian Davis Bailey explores in the recent edition of Ebony magazine.

View the newsletter here and sign up to receive it in your email here.

NEWS: Keeping apartheid at Bay

This article was written by SJP member Sid Patel and initially appeared in the International Socialist Worker.

PROTESTS BY Palestine solidarity activists delayed an Israeli-owned ship from docking in the Port of Oakland on August 16 and inspired port workers to refuse to unload the ship over the coming days, in an important victory for the Palestine solidarity movement. As this article was being published, the Zim Piraeus remained docked in the Port of Oakland, but with all its cargo still onboard.

The Block the Boat for Gaza action on Saturday, August 16, drew some 1,500 people down to the docks. It was organized by a coalition of over 70 groups, led by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), as a response to Operation Protective Edge, the most recent massacre committed by the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza. The action was carried out in step with the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

The Zim ship tried to evade protests by delaying its arrival from the morning, when the action was planned, to the afternoon. The coalition used its text alert system to shift the entire mobilization to 3 p.m. At that time, 1,000 people gathered at the West Oakland BART station and began the march to the docks. Popular chants included “When people are occupied, resistance is justified,” and “From Ferguson to Palestine, occupation is a crime.” The march picked up strength along the way.

Midway through the march, organizers using a vessel tracking website realized that the Zim ship was in a holding pattern dozens of miles away–in other words, its captain had backed down and had no intention of confronting the march at the dock. While it is highly likely that dockworkers would have respected the large picket lines put up by demonstrators, it wasn’t even necessary on Saturday because the Zim crew and its owners flinched.

The following day, the Zim ship did dock at the Port of Oakland, but organizers used the text alert system to mobilize over 100 activists to set up picket lines at the gates in front of the ship’s berth. Workers from International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 refused to cross the community picket lines, and the Zim ship’s apartheid cargo sat untouched for yet another day, extending the victory.

That was repeated on Monday, with a small number of activists picketing in the morning until an ILWU official reportedly told them no one would be working for that shift. The fact that the picket was small and the ship still wasn’t unloaded is a testament to the ILWU members and their commitment to social justice

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THE BLOCK the Boat for Gaza action inspired solidarity organizing in New York City and at the Ports of Long Beach, Seattle/Tacoma, and Vancouver. It also generated press coverage in the Jerusalem Post, Al Jazeera and other widely read outlets. The Israeli political establishment is keenly aware of the political threat of the BDS movement, and effective direct actions like this will echo from port to port and country to country.

Zim Integrated Shipping Services is the largest shipping company in Israel and the tenth-largest in the world, so interfering with its operations does make an impact. Sharif Zakout, an organizer with AROC, explained the significance of the action:

Blocking the boat today set a good precedent. It may lead to other blocks. Every day or every time we’re able to delay that boat or keep it from even docking, we’re costing the Israeli state money, and we’re effectively organizing more people towards boycotting, divesting from and sanctioning Israel.

And we heard recently that companies like Starbucks had to say that they are not doing business with Israel. There are companies like Motorola, Caterpillar, PG&E and General Electricity that are losing money because people are becoming more aware about what’s going in Palestine and making the those connections.

So it’s a lot of small actions hopefully making big change in the long run. But really, it all comes down to building community and making those connections together with people who live in this area.

The action depended on the solidarity of the workers of the ILWU, which has a rich tradition of supporting struggles against imperialism and racism. The ILWU refused to handle cargo from apartheid South Africa in the 1980s, a direct historical reference point for today’s campaigns.

The Block the Boat for Gaza action highlighted the potential power the ILWU and other unions could wield in the fight against Israeli apartheid and occupation–but for such actions to spread will take further political education and engagement between the Palestine solidarity movement and the labor movement.

Speaking at the victory rally at the end of the march on Saturday, Clarence Thomas, a longtime leader of ILWU Local 10, said:

Many longshoremen have learned about Gaza and Palestine because activists have been leafleting the union hall. Many workers are now watching the ship’s progress and are very interested in the issue. But some of our members aren’t well informed about Palestine, so it’s important that the left reach out to them. And when they get the information, the rank and file will make the right choice.

Speakers at the victory rally drew the connection between empire abroad and repression at home, made all the more vivid by the images of military equipment and tactics deployed by local police against unarmed people of color protesting police brutality in Ferguson, Mo. The march and rally were infused with the sense that the struggle for Palestinian liberation is intertwined with the struggle for liberation by the exploited and the oppressed here.

The Zim ship may eventually offload its cargo in Oakland, but the now three-day-long blockade creates a new reference point for future organizing.

There are important strategic and tactical questions for the solidarity movement in the Bay Area that go well beyond a single or even a recurring picket of Zim ships–questions of selecting targets, reaching different audiences, growing the active base and sustaining mobilizations. The movement is preparing to develop its next steps in the aftermath of this big success.

Geming Lai contributed to this article.