2012 Program

From Local Roots to Nationwide Branches: Bridging Student Movements

Students for Justice in Palestine: Second National Conference 2012

Friday, 2 November 2012

Registration 4:00pm – 5:00pm

Mobilize! Challenging & Cultivating Our Organizing 5:00pm – 6:30pm
When resources are scarce, good strategies and tactics are essential to creating robust campaigns and growing a grassroots movement. These breakout workshops will give students a chance to come together to learn key mobilizing tools. Additionally, a facilitated discussion will give everyone a chance to share their successes and lessons learned for a brighter, more organized future.

Liberation Begins Within 6:45pm – 8:15pm
How do power dynamics shape solidarity activism? In what ways do both clear and subtle forms of intra-movement oppression impact our ability to organize for sustainable and comprehensive justice, and what happens if we neglect or postpone these conversations? Join Nada Elia in this open plenary to take a bold but critical leap to examine power dynamics within SJP organizing spaces by reflecting on our personal experiences and theoretical frameworks through facilitated breakout sessions focusing on gender and other related systems of oppression.

Dinner 8:15pm

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Registration & Breakfast 9:30am – 10:30am

Opening and Keynote Address 10:30am – 12:00pm
Noura Erakat will be discussing the political implications of US based activism in the greater context of Palestinian resistance against Israeli repression. How does the work of US based activists and US policy makers translate to Palestinian self-determination and political solutions to the Palestine Question? Is there a disconnect and how do we begin to repair this disconnect? Whereas Erakat will be focusing on the larger relationship between US policy and Palestine, Hatem Bazian will primarily focus on how the Palestine Question is discussed on US college campuses. Bazian will give a history of Students for Justice in Palestine and the shifts in student activism over the past decade. He will then concentrate on the recent series of Title IV: civil rights investigations that potentially pose a sever threat to academic freedom and free speech. These attacks are directly responding to the successful narrative SJP has produced over the years — a narrative Bazian helped to construct. Bazian will explain how imperative it is for the student movement to create a solid counter attack to protect free speech on campus. By outlining a solid response Bazian will give students a roadmap to transform the challenges of today into opportunities for tomorrow.

Political Development Workshops 12:00pm-2:00pm

Jim Crow: From Detroit to Palestine. The system of mass incarceration in the United States can be described as a “stunningly comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow.” This workshop will explore the stories of mass incarceration and torture experienced by Palestinian political prisoners and Black American prisoners. Both prison industries function as a means to control racialized communities. Khadar Adnan, one of the leaders in the prisoner’s rights movements in Palestine, will hopefully be speaking live from Palestine about the conditions leading up the Palestinian Hunger Strikes. Similarities will be drawn between the conditions of prisoners in Palestine and Michigan. Students will have the opportunity to discuss how to make connections between prisoners in the US and Palestine through BDS initiatives targeting corporations that benefit from occupation and mass incarceration.

Beyond Borders: Palestine and the Latin@ Connection. This workshop is inspired by the growing cross-movement efforts being led in recent years by students both in Latin@-indigenous/migrant justice and Palestinian solidarity communities. Come listen to national Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) and SJP representatives who have experience in collaborative efforts as they discuss the importance of recognizing critical areas of intersection between our struggles and offer models of collaborating on your campus and surrounding community.

From Disney to drone wars: Settler colonialism, militarism and Empire in the United States and Israel. The United States and Israel share histories as European settler societies as well as having heavily militarized societies and economies. The European settlement of North America and the Zionist settlement of Palestine created not only the settler states of the United States and Israel, but also enduring political and social cultures that continue to shape the histories and politics of both nations.The U.S. continues to fight ‘Indian Wars’ in both name and deed, reproducing ‘noble’ and ‘civilizing’ narratives of Indian Removal in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. It is using tools developed in Israel’s continued settlement of Palestinian lands to do so. From Disney to drone wars the spectre of settler colonialism dominates policy and discourse, but passes by largely unnoticed.

Bilad al-Sham. The past two years have marked one of the longest standing struggles in the wave of Arab Uprisings: the uprising against the Syrian regime. This workshop will cover the current state of affairs in Syria and the political implications of the Syrian uprising on the Palestine Question and on the question of resistance. Syria presents an important case where proponents of resistance to imperialism differ on what stand ought to be taken in relation to the Syrian uprising. This workshop will address the politics and prospects for resistance to various forms of exploitation in light of the Arab uprisings.

All About Love. Inspired by the idiom and book by bell hooks specifically and radical women of color feminism generally, this workshop is about transforming the often arduous and difficult work of organizing into a labor of love. As organizers we tend to burn out because of how much effort and energy we spend in order to organize effectively. Often times our efforts go unrewarded and are even demonized. The speakers will discuss what moves them and how they move to resist creatively. This workshop will focus on Palestinian literature and how it can be folded into activism for self determination, guerrilla theatre and performance as resistance and the Love Under Apartheid project. Participants will discuss the consciousness, aesthetic, or creative work compelling them to transform social justice awareness into praxis.

International Law: Restriction or Liberation? UN resolutions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Geneva Conventions and more….this workshop will explore the opportunities and limitations of international law as a framework for advancing Palestinian rights. Can international law be applied to defend and implement Palestinian rights – and how? Or has international law become yet another mechanism for inaction and international complicity? How does international law and the legal struggle relate to grassroots Palestinian and solidarity movements for liberation? Participate in a discussion around legal approaches to working for equality and freedom for Palestinians throughout occupied Palestine (in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and occupied Palestine ’48/Israel) and for the implementation of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees.

BDS, the Occupation, and Israeli Capitalism. This workshop will discuss the intersection of Israeli capitalism and especially the Israeli arms industry, the occupation, and the struggle for Palestinian liberation. The focus will be how the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions strategy can pressure Israeli society, and particularly how this strategy may affect both the Israeli elite and the Israeli working classes. Finally it will discuss what the reaction of Israeli society implies for the future of the Palestinian struggle, both in the Diaspora, in the Occupied Territories, as well as amongst Israeli Palestinians.

Lunch 2:00pm – 3:00pm

Movement Building Workshops 3:00pm – 5:00pm

Dinner 5:00pm – 6:30pm

Movement Building Open Plenary 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Cultural Night 8:30pm – 12:00am
Join us for a night of Palestinian culture, music, dancing, poetry, hip hop and more! Performers include students, as well as poet Remi Kanazi, hip hop artists Jasiel, Khaled M, and Invincible. Debka troupe Firket Al-Azdeekah will also be performing. **Admission is free for conference attendees and $10 at the door for non-attendees.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Breakfast 10:00am – 11:00am

Skill Building Workshops 11:00am – 1:00pm

Money for our Movement: Grassroots Fundraising 101. Devised to co-opt and derail social justice movements, the Non-Profit Industrial Complex and NGOization of the Palestinian Struggle breed fragmentation and competition. Instead of fighting over limited funds from foundations or governments, the way we fundraise ought to reflect the principles of social justice that we aim to promote in our work. This workshop will provide a background on key elements of fundraising (theoretical and practical) and a space to share ideas on how to maximize SJP school funding.

How to reach the media or create your own! Working with traditional & digital media. How do we let the media know about our action, how do we share our statement, what is a press advisory, what is a press release? What is an OpEd? How do we get into our local newspaper? How should we use Twitter? What should we be tweeting about? Should our organization tie Facebook to Twitter? Do we really need a website? How should we build it? How can we use video? Get the answers to these questions and many more!

Building Connections: Coalition Building on Campus. Students will learn and discuss how to form coalitions with other groups and communities on their campus. Potential event ideas, points of political unity, and strategies for long-term collaborations will be discussed.

Campus Divestment 101. Since the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, student organizers around the US have been building a campus divestment movement. In order to carry out a successful campus divestment campaign, we need to research the school’s investments and decide on divestment targets, as well as decide on a strategy for divestment. Boycott or divestment – what’s right for your campus? What is an endowment? What are the different meanings of divestments? How do you find out more about your own school’s investments? How do you pick your divestment targets? What is a divestment campaign and what makes a divestment movement? Learn the answers to these questions and more in this valuable session.

Know Your Rights. In light of an increasingly antagonistic political and legal environment, it is important that Palestine solidarity activists are familiar with their basic civil rights. This workshop will expose student activists to legal issues ranging from time, place, and manner restrictions, to navigating the fine line between constitutionally protected actions and civil disobedience.

Dealing with Opposition and Normalization. Being underfunded and underresourced are two disadvantages that make it difficult for SJPs across the nation to face challenges from opposition groups. But that’s what makes strategy that much more important. How do you appropriately deal with campus administrators pushing for “dialogue”? What routes do you take if a pro-Zionist group sabotages your SJP’s event? This interactive workshop will introduce students to a variety of approaches in dealing with these very real situations.

Building Connections Between Students & Palestine
This workshop is designed to give students a step-by-step plan to develop strategic, meaningful partnerships with Palestinians living in Palestine. The workshop will cover some principles of solidarity work and how they affect relationships with groups in Palestine, how to avoid some of the pitfalls of such work, and how to maximize their impact on supporting grassroots organizing in Palestine. Additionally, this workshop will cover the popular resistance, strategies for non-violence, and coalition building among Palestinians and international activists.

How to Start an SJP. This workshop is for organizers who have just started or want to start an SJP on their campus. We will tackle the do’s and don’ts of organizing on campus, how to deal with your administration, the best means of advertising an event, how to stay organized and effective, and what common mistakes you should avoid.

Lunch 1:00pm – 2:00pm

Campaign Building Workshops 2:00pm – 4:00pm

We Divest: The TIAA-CREF Campaign. TIAA-CREF is one of the largest financial services in the United States. We Divest is a national campaign to compel TIAA-CREF to stop investing in companies that profit from the Israeli occupation, including Caterpillar, Motorola, Veolia, Northrop Grumman, and Elbit Systems. Organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Adalah-NY, US Palestinian Community Network, Grassroots International, and American Friends Service Committee, the We Divest campaign stands out as one of the most successful and accessible divestment campaigns in the nation. Dozens of TIAA-CREF campaigns are being launched at campuses all across the country. This workshop will feature both student and non-student panelists discussing what the TIAA-CREF campaign is and how students can take it on.

Breaking the Chains: Building a Campaign of Solidarity with Palestinian Political Prisoners. Over the past year, as hunger strikes have repeatedly gripped Israeli occupation prisons, attention to and solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners has escalated through campus and community events and social media campaigns. These actions have done much to publicize the prisoners’ struggle and raise awareness of its centrality to the Palestinian cause – yet as thousands of Palestinian prisoners remain behind bars, elevating our work to support their resistance is critical. This workshop aims to build discussion, planning, and strategy for campaigns in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners. It also aims to lay out initial visions for Palestinian Prisoners’ Day 2013 as well as plans to include prisoner advocacy in Israeli Apartheid Week 2013.

Academic & Cultural Boycott. The lives of rock stars and actors dominate major US media, making cultural boycott a pertinent focal point for the BDS Movement in the United States.  Combined with Israeli society’s high regard for academia, the work of promoting the cultural and academic boycott of Israel has immense, untapped potential.  By targeting well-known artists, students can build accessible, engaging and fun campaigns on campus to challenge Israeli apartheid. This workshop will include a presentation on relevant campaigns, an outline and analysis of tactics and an open discussion to brainstorm future efforts.

Creating Week-Long Events on Your Campus. Come learn about how your SJP can participate in Israeli Apartheid Week, and other campaigns just like it. This workshop is designed to introduce students to week-long planned events that can take place just on one campus, within a single community, or nationwide. Students will work to develop event ideas based on themes, elements, or political climates that are unique to their colleges and universities. Think of this as event-planning but on a more collaborative, and permanent level.

Grassroots Lobbying Workshop. In this workshop, we will discuss how your SJP can get involved in your local community, school, and government to effectively counter the Israel Lobby and make sure that our voices are heard. Learn how to network with other SJPs to engage local officials, approach other organizations as allies, construct narratives, and raise money as part of a grassroots lobby to counter those who do not want justice in Palestine.

Closing Session 4:15pm – 6:45pm
Noor Ali will discuss how recognizing power and privilege allows students to create a meaningful change in attitude and build connections with allies. She will discuss how students can capture opportunities on campus to shift the paradigms and reframe discussions about the Palestinian struggle. Ali Abunimah will discuss why student activism is of central importance to the struggle for justice in Palestine. Both Noor Ali and Ali Abunimah will examine how this particularstudent movement has built strong connections with other marginalized groups of people and how such genuine connections have served to make the Palestine Question a central tenant in not only the Palestinian liberation movement but to all resistance movements against political oppression worldwide.