Solidarity with Anakbayan and Fillipino Activists Resisting Militarism

As Students for Justice in Palestine, a group in solidarity with oppressed people around the world, we strongly condemn the murders of Filipino youth activist and Anakbayan member Freddie Ligiw, his father Licuben, and his brother Eddie by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). We understand that the Filipino military likely played an active role in these murders, thanks to weapons and joint training provided by the United States. The murders of Saji, Freddie, and his family members are part of an ongoing global attack on oppressed peoples who are fighting to live. This violence stems from the United States’ broader imperialist agenda that funds repression of dissenters in the Philippines and Palestine through military aid.

From Palestine to the Philippines to the United States, youth activists are actively challenging militarism in the face of heavy repression. We write this statement near the 11th anniversary of Israel’s murder of American student-activist Rachel Corrie by an American-made Caterpillar bulldozer in Gaza. Earlier this month, Saji Darwish, a Palestinian student from Birzeit University, was shot in the head and killed by the Israeli Occupation Forces.

Here in the U.S., students addressing institutional and corporate complicity in Israel’s ethnic cleansing and violence against Palestinians face attacks on their free speech and law enforcement harassment. The suppression of Northeastern University Students for Justice in Palestine by their university administration is an especially disturbing recent example. In 2013 alone, the U.S. government provided upward of $50 million in military aid to the Philippines, as well as $3 billion in annual military aid to Israel. As students in the United States, our tax dollars and university tuition benefit corporations that profit from the murders of students and young activists across the world. We refuse compliance with these injustices. We demand justice for the Ligiw family, and all victims of state violence. In that vein, we echo the call of our comrades in Anakbayan-USA for an end to U.S. military aid to the Philippines, and join it alongside our call to end U.S. military aid to Israel.

In solidarity,
Rutgers University – Newark SJP
National Students for Justice in Palestine

CUNY School of Law SJP
University of Maryland SJP
College of Staten Island SJP
Brooklyn College SJP
Brown University SJP
University of New Mexico SJP
Columbia University SJP
Drew University SJP
Pace University SJP
City College SJP
John Jay College SJP
Florida State University SJP

NSJP Statement of Thanks and Solidarity with the Loyola Chicago Student Government

Dear members of the Loyola University Chicago Unified Student Government Association,

On Tuesday, March 18, Loyola University’s Unified Student Government Association (USGA) passed a resolution to divest from corporations that profit from Israel’s occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people. As the steering committee of National Students for Justice in Palestine, we write to express our support of the resolution and our appreciation for your courage.

As students, we recognize the incredible role that student movements have played in supporting so many struggles for civil rights, human rights, and liberation around the world throughout history. We are inspired by historic student movements in this country, such as the movement to divest from South African Apartheid as well as contemporary fights that our peers are waging against the criminalization of people along the US/Mexico border and against inhumane policies of mass incarceration within the US. A beautiful part of our national movement as well as SJP Loyola’s local membership is the diversity of communities working together on interconnected struggles towards a better world. We commend you for taking an important step in this legacy of student action.

We feel that it is our duty as students to make sure that our universities divest from corporations that profit from Israel’s systematic discrimination and occupation of Palestinians, violating their rights to education, healthcare, freedom, and equality. The international community did not support apartheid in South Africa, we did not support anti-Black segregation in the U.S., and we should not support Israel’s anti-Palestinian public policies.

In the past two years alone, students have passed divestment resolutions at several colleges and universities, including University of California-Irvine, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, Oberlin College, and Arizona State University. Loyola’s USGA has now joined the growing chorus of students around the nation standing up and refusing to let their tuition money be invested in human rights abuses.

In deciding to live out Loyola’s Jesuit values of being dedicated to social justice, pursuing excellence and value-based leadership, in addition to taking a stand against a local to global issue of injustice, Loyola’s student senate historically voted in favor of Palestinian life.

There would be no Loyola Chicago today without the birth of a first century Palestinian from Bethlehem named Jesus. If Jesus were to attempt to minister between Bethlehem and Jerusalem in the modern-day Holy Land, he would be confronted with multiple illegal Israeli military checkpoints and a 30 ft. high concrete barrier. As Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the region in late May 2014 with the hopes of pursuing peace and justice, let us recall the words of former Pope Benedict who stated in 2009, “It is tragic to see walls still being erected” and lended his “solidarity” to Palestinians in Gaza who have been under military siege and blockade since 2005.

Thousands of students across the nation are speaking truth to increasingly unpopular anti-Palestinian voices. Students at Jesuit universities across the country are especially vocal advocates for an end to the occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine, such as Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, which is currently holding its annual Palestine Awareness Week.

This week, Loyola’s USGA has done something incredible. You have created a platform for discussing important issues directly related to students–where our money goes. If students won’t take a stand on who our universities invest our tuition money with, then who will? This divestment resolution is taking an immense and beautiful step towards positive social change.

Thank you for for standing up against injustice. We urge you to remain steadfast in your decision, for we support you and stand with you.

Sincerely,

National Students for Justice in Palestine

NSJP2013b

Lessons for Liberty: A Century of Palestine Student Organizing in the US

Opening Plenary of the 2013 SJP-National Conference, ‘From Margin to Center: Connecting Struggles, Forging a National Movement’ with Loubna Qutami & Mezna Qato.

In the everyday urgencies of student mobilizations, and in our celebration of the tremendous successes of BDS campaigns across the country, we have scarce opportunity to acquaint ourselves with the histories of our national movement, and in particular the storied role of students within it. How have those who forged paths before us carried their responsibilities in this exhausting, extraordinary, remarkable, anti-colonial struggle? What can we learn from the strategies and tactics they crafted, and the principles and politics they upheld? As we continue to build on our campaign successes, what does this knowledge of our past require of us? Retrieving often forgotten episodes spanning the last one hundred years of student organizing for Palestine in the US, this talk hopes to open up conversation on how we, both Palestinians and allies, can contribute to the re-generation of Palestinian emancipatory spirit, the restoring our body politic and the reclaiming our popular sovereignty and liberation movement. Our struggle began with students, and it is only when students seize their revolutionary responsibility and take a lead in bringing together the energies, voices, talents, and strengths, of all Palestinians, will we begin to walk, together, the path towards liberation and return.

NSJP Statement of Thanks and Solidarity with the American Studies Association

To sign on as a student group, please fill out this form – http://bit.ly/1cJnYCR

On Monday morning, the National Council of the American Studies Association announced that its membership had voted – by a thundering two-thirds majority – to support the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

As members of the student movement, we thank the members of the ASA for this important contribution to the struggle, and for their bravery and integrity. We stand united with them in this decision, and in support of the principles and vision it represents.

We know that pressure on the ASA at this moment is overwhelming. And through our own efforts, we are all too familiar with organized initiatives that aim to misrepresent and silence the movement for justice in Palestine. Thanks to the ASA’s resolution, we are ever more strengthened in our resistance to these efforts.

We know that many are eager to accuse the professors who endorsed this boycott of violating academic freedom and the right to free inquiry. We categorically reject such accusations. We know that the Palestinian call for academic boycott has been made with care and caution by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and that it differs from the academic boycott against the brutal racial capitalism of South Africa – the apartheid system.

PACBI calls for the institutional boycott of Israeli universities. Not the boycott of individuals. For that reason it does not infringe on the rights of individual Israeli scholars. Rather, it recognizes that rights are interlocking. Indeed, Israeli scholars have every right to research as they wish. What they may not do is officially represent their universities, or use their legitimate intellectual pursuits to veil the widely acknowledged complicity of the entire Israeli educational system in the regime of settler-colonialism that crushes the Palestinian people.

We hear the clear voices of our fellow students and teachers in Palestine and in the refugee camps of its neighbors. Their demand is not for charity. Nor does it exceptionalize Israel. Rather, the demand is that we take responsibility for what is occurring in Palestine into our own hands – that we refuse links with the universities that are part-and-parcel of the repressive apparatus, for it is those universities which develop counter-insurgency techniques, weapons, separation walls, and false narratives, all of the machinery the state deploys in its ongoing violence against Palestinians.

Far from stifling academic freedom, the ASA’s action shows that scholars in the United States can have honest and nuanced conversations about Israeli control of Palestinians, Palestinian liberation, and the role of the United States and its learning institutions in shaping consensus on both. We are increasingly confident in our knowledge that Palestine is no longer an issue the American academy is afraid to confront.

The ASA’s resolution is particularly significant for our collective understanding of the past and present of the United States within its borders and throughout the world. It is a refreshing echo of our revolutionary vision, for our movement cannot be divorced from the global capitalist conditions that affect all our lives. As students facing economic and intellectual attacks on our universities, our support for the Palestinian struggle is simultaneously a demand for justice at home – for our education, and for historical justice, not amnesia.

And we are proud of our professors for refusing to ignore the crimes of Israel. We are honored by their refusal to cover their ears, instead allowing the demands of Palestinians resisting occupation and colonialism to reach their minds and hearts. We salute them for adopting the more difficult and just path. Most of all, we are proud to stand alongside them in declaring that what is occurring in Palestine with our tax dollars will not continue with our idle complicity.

We know that supporters of Israeli racism are unnerved, and that they are lashing out at those who have gone out of their way to insist that a politically neutral academic freedom is a myth; that the right to inquire is nested amidst other freedoms – and that what Israel denies Palestinians is the right to have rights.

The members of the ASA have done something remarkable this week. They have opened a space for discussing and resisting Israeli crimes that did not exist before. There are those desperate to close that space. We urge our comrades, mentors, and teachers to remain steadfast amidst the pressure they face, for we are behind and among you. In the spirit of Audre Lorde: “without community, there is no liberation.” If all of us stand together, we are unmovable.

Thank you for your courage.

Ad Hoc Steering Committee, Students for Justice in Palestine – National

Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee
Health Awareness Club – City University of New York, Brooklyn College
Louisville Students for Justice in Palestine – University of Kentucky
Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlán – University of California, San Diego
Michigan Women of Color Collective (M-WOCC) – University of Michigan
Right 2 Education Campaign – Birzeit University
Stanford University Students for Palestinian Equal Rights
Students Against Israeli Apartheid – George Mason University
Students Allied for Freedom and Equality- University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Students for Justice in Palestine – American University
Students for Justice in Palestine – Antioch University
Students for Justice in Palestine – Binghamton University
Students for Justice in Palestine – Boston College
Students for Justice in Palestine – Bowdoin College
Students for Justice in Palestine – Brooklyn College
Students for Justice in Palestine – Brown University
Students for Justice in Palestine – California State University, Fullerton
Students for Justice in Palestine – City University of New York, School of Law
Students for Justice in Palestine – City University of New York, Staten Island
Students for Justice in Palestine – Cornell University
Students for Justice in Palestine – Depaul University
Students for Justice in Palestine – Drew University, New Jersey
Students for Justice in Palestine – Evergreen State College
Students for Justice in Palestine – Florida Atlantic University
Students for Justice in Palestine – Florida International University
Students for Justice in Palestine – Fort Wayne, Florida
Students for Justice in Palestine – George Washington University
Students for Justice in Palestine – Ithaca College
Students for Justice in Palestine – John Hopkins University
Students for Justice in Palestine – Loyola Marymount University
Students for Justice in Palestine – Loyola University, Chicago
Students for Justice in Palestine – Northwestern University
Students for Justice in Palestine – Rutgers, Newark
Students for Justice in Palestine – San Diego State University
Students for Justice in Palestine – University of California – Berkeley
Students for Justice in Palestine – University of California, Irvine
Students for Justice in Palestine – University of California, Los Angeles
Students for Justice in Palestine – University of California, Riverside
Students for Justice in Palestine – University of Florida
Students for Justice in Palestine – University of Maryland
Students for Justice in Palestine – University of New Mexico
Students for Justice in Palestine – University of Southern California
Students for Justice in Palestine – University of Toledo, Ohio
Students for Justice in Palestine – Yale University
Stanford Students for Palestinian Equal Rights – Stanford University

[Student groups can sign on by filling out this form - http://bit.ly/1cJnYCR ]

Students Support the American Studies Association Boycott Resolution

Contact CornellS4JP [at] gmail.com if your student group would like to sign on.

Dear Curtis Marez, Lisa Duggan, Matthew Jacobson, and John Stephens:

As nationwide chapters of SJP, we write to give our unqualified endorsement of the ASA resolution in support of the Academic Boycott. In so doing, we stand in solidarity with the call from Palestinian civil society to put in place an institutional boycott of Israeli universities and other academic centers to protest the ongoing belligerent occupation of Palestine, and the systemic infringements of the rights to education and academic freedom of Palestinian students and scholars in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel.

We are deeply aware of the concert of colonial and imperial interests which has led to over 130 years of Zionist colonization of Palestinian lands. We know that the Palestinians – as with so many other peoples – are still reckoning with the brutal legacy of North Atlantic capitalism’s restless drive to dominate the planet. And so we see the Palestinian struggle for national liberation as part of the larger struggle for self-determination by the peoples of the global South as they have sought to break free of the fetters of European colonialism and US imperialism.

As students, we acknowledge and pay homage to the proud history of the student movement in supporting freedom and justice in so many of those struggles, from the Sandinistas to South Africa. It is a heritage we strongly defend, and it is one we aspire to uphold.

Continue reading “Students Support the American Studies Association Boycott Resolution” »

Northeastern University SJP Chapter Joins Call to Reinstate Suspended CCNY Student Activists

Northeastern University Students for Justice in Palestine

The Students for Justice in Palestine chapters at Northeastern University and Northeastern University School of Law join CUNY School of Law SJP in condemning the suspension of City College of New York (CCNY) students Khalil Vasquez and Tafadar Sourov for their anti-militarization activism.

We share their further condemnation of the September arrest of the CUNY 6 as they protested General David Petraeus’s appointment, and of the October closing of the independently run Morales/Assata Shakur Community and Student Center. We are deeply concerned about the attempted punishment and suppression of student organizers of color, such as Vasquez and Sourov.

These events continue the nationwide pattern of silencing campus activists who organize against militarism and settler colonialism. At Northeastern this year, SJP chapters posted pro-Palestinian flyers; organized panels, pickets, and marches; and staged a walk-out from a campus IDF event. Subsequently, our undergrad chapter was sanctioned, our fliers were torn down, all law school student bulletin boards were moved without notice, and our leaders faced violence and death threats from unaffiliated parties. Yet, we have grown even more determined to voice our opposition to U.S. and Israeli militarism.

Continue reading “Northeastern University SJP Chapter Joins Call to Reinstate Suspended CCNY Student Activists” »

CUNY Law Students for Justice in Palestine Stands in Solidarity with CUNY Students in the Crosshairs of Repression

As members of Students for Justice in Palestine at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, we condemn the CUNY administration’s suspension of City College of New York (CCNY) students Khalil Vasquez and Tafadar Sourov for their anti-militarization activism.

The Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY (“Ad Hoc Committee”) organizes to oppose the CUNY Board of Trustees’ appointment of former CIA director General David Petraeus at Macaulay Honors College. On September 17, 2013, six CUNY students (“the CUNY 6”) engaged in peaceful protest against Petraeus’ appointment were violently arrested and charged with obstruction of governmental administration, riot, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.

On October 20, CCNY security abruptly seized and shut down the Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Community and Student Center (“Morales/Shakur Center”) at CCNY to prevent student and community access. The Morales/Shakur Center was won through student struggle and is operated independently of the university.

In the words of CCNY students, the Morales/Shakur Center “has been an invaluable space for community groups to meet on campus, for students to connect with their political elders, and for movement histories to be retained and shared in Harlem.” In particular, the Ad Hoc Committee actively uses the Morales/Shakur Center as their home-base for organizing.

Continue reading “CUNY Law Students for Justice in Palestine Stands in Solidarity with CUNY Students in the Crosshairs of Repression” »

Right to Education Campaign 2013

Right to Education Campaign

Dear friends,

We are writing to you to invite your group to participate in this year’s ‘Right 2 Education Week’. Every year, the Right 2 Education Campaign mobilises an increasing number of people globally to take part in a week of events and actions to raise awareness about the plight of Palestinians in their quest for education.

This year, from 11-15 November, we are aiming for a deeper, international impact than ever before.

Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that, ‘Everyone has the right to education’. Palestinians living under military occupation are being systematically denied this basic right.

Restrictions on movement means that higher education is not ‘equally accessible to all on the basis of merit’ (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26) but rather is accessible only to those who can reach it. Checkpoints and roadblocks inside the West Bank can see short journeys take hours, or become impossible. Gazan students are unable to leave to study elsewhere, and those who do obtain permission cannot return to see their families. Studying abroad is difficult, as is the freedom of international intellectuals and students to visit Palestinian universities. Materials and text books purchased are often delayed by the military which leads to a recycling of knowledge as students are not able to access the most up-to-date information. Many students face arrest and detention for political activism, and in the vast areas of the West Bank under complete military occupation it is prohibited for Palestinians to build, amongst other things, education facilities. These man-made problems have led to a decimation of the rights of Palestinians to education.

Continue reading “Right to Education Campaign 2013” »

On Moving Forward

This year’s National Students for Justice in Palestine conference has a dual theme – to act in the spirit of bell hooks’s notion of “margin to center,” and to connect struggles, thereby building a more powerful national movement. When we say we mean to move from the margins to the center, we do not mean the center of power. We mean the center of resistance. We reject that the Palestinian question be dismissed, or pushed to the periphery of any discussion about racism in these United States.

When we say we aim to build a stronger national movement, we mean to move towards greater cohesion, and so greater strength. So we build our movement keenly aware that we must support one another on campuses across the country, in order to resist the centralized apparati of repression that are desperate to silence us. When we say that we mean to connect struggles, we mean that activism for Palestine is an organic part of the swelling floodtide of activism in this country. Palestine will not be excluded from any coalition for the sake of expedience, nor will we work separately from the myriad other struggles against racism and economic injustice – in this country, or abroad.

We are, of course, also responding to the clear and urgent request emerging from Palestinian civil society by way of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions National Committee. We have adopted their 2005 appeal, endorsing and organizing BDS campaigns both as a national body and on individual college campuses across the country.

In following through on this theme, we have a sub-set of goals, which we consider crucial in moving towards our vision. First and foremost, we must critically discuss what it means to be in solidarity with Palestinians. Palestine-related activism in the US is often distant from its most proximate point of reference, the North American Palestinian Shatat itself. We intend to close this political distance as we work to support and embolden calls from within Palestinian civil society for an end to the occupation, equality for Palestinians inside ’48, and securing the Right of Return. We understand that communities of Palestinians are united through these basic demands, even as they have their own particular needs. Our role as a solidarity formation is to support such demands in the rainbow of their variety. It is only through such processes of internal reflection and consciousness-raising within our own activism that we can be fully accountable to those most affected by the history of Zionist settler-colonialism, a force we confront even as we partake in the continued colonization of indigenous lands beneath our feet.

Self-reflection is imperative; we must take into account those marginalized within, or by, our own organizing process. We are all products of and have witnessed an imperfect world fraught with oppression and inequality. This is not our fault, but it is our responsibility to push back against oppression in all of its forms, both as a means of self-preservation, and as an embodiment of camaraderie with those who share the same history of repression, and more importantly, resistance, with Palestinians. We are attempting to cultivate organizing spaces that are not scarred by the patriarchal, racist, and capitalist world within which we live. Although we recognize that this is an extremely difficult and nearly impossible task, we try nevertheless. Our internal practices intentionally battle the tendencies those structures impose upon us. The more we fight them, the better we will be prepared for the struggle ahead.

Such work does not merely mean weeding out such problems to the extent possible within individual SJP chapters. It also means joining together with one another so that we can draw strength from our respective efforts. We know at the level of instinct and inspiration that a divestment victory on one university campus is a victory for us all; that rolling back attempts to muffle our voices is not just a victory in one site of struggle but a victory for the entire movement. We know what power knows, which is that there is strength in unity. Thus we are working towards building national coordinating bodies that can effectively support and embody this solidarity, and better offer our strength to other struggles.

Finally, we do not forget that concrete action is an utterly critical mechanism for solidarity – that we must move from words, discourse, and representation, to change. We know that those who seek to silence us are alarmed by our words because of the simple message of integrity and indignation they carry. But our enemies are still further intimidated by action, especially in the economic sphere. They know that such action – especially the divestment resolutions that students are so powerfully positioned to put into practice – delegitimizes Israeli racism and colonialism. Delegitimation widens the circle of those willing to directly challenge Israeli policies, thereby adding speed and heft to our popular movement as it nears the crucial links which bind Israel and America as partners in colonialism and repression. We know that campaigns and especially victories are the best way to grow as a national body.

A concluding word about practice, future goals, and history: we refuse to make any self-aggrandizing claims to novelty. We think this is important: we need to start from a position of respect for the past. In our commitment to joint struggle and internationalism, we pay homage to the Palestinian Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s and its strong links to every important struggle in the colonial and post-colonial world. In our commitment to student organizing, we are building not merely on a nearly century-old history of student organizing whose memory we have barely begun to recover, and not merely on the work of the General Union of Palestinian Students, but more recently on the important efforts of the Palestine Solidarity Movement, which arose in response to the second intifada.

This history may not always be visible, but it is inescapably present, for it is what has brought us to where we are. If we are able to endure where previous iterations of this struggle have waned, it is only because of the brilliant legacy they have left us, and in whose shadow we still stand.

Ad hoc conference steering committee, National Students for Justice in Palestine