This year, the University of Washington Commencement speaker is Jon Huntsman. Best known these days for being a Republican presidential hopeful in the 2012 elections, he also holds a prominent position as a board member of Caterpillar Inc.
On Wednesday there was an installation in the quad documenting the hundreds of towns and villages ethnically cleansed during the Nakba [Day of the Catastrophe]. Thank you to students who joined Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER UW) in commemorating a crucial day of remembering past atrocities and engaging in action to end those that continue. Nakba marks the forced expulsion of 700,000 indigenous Palestinians from their homes between 1947- 49. Zionist forces committed 33 massacres and destroyed 531 Palestinian towns. The Nakba is an ongoing reality for the 4,797,723 descendants of the original Palestinian refugees. Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza continue to face violent injustices, including: land confiscation, discriminatory laws, home demolitions, checkpoints and administrative detention.
May 1st, 2013, SUPER UW joined thousands of demonstrators on the streets of Seattle for International Worker’s Day.
The root’s of May Day demonstrations date back to the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago, when police opened fire on workers striking for the 8 hour work day. This violence triggered international solidarity as countries across the world called for this to be an international day of action in support of labor rights. In 1887, in an effort to subdue international organizing and draw attention away from the Haymarket incident, President Grover Cleveland created what we know as Labor Day to be celebrated in September instead of May. Despite these efforts to undermine the movement, May Day has remained a vibrant time of year for labor organizing, and demonstrations in support of workers rights.
Thanks to all who attended Tuesday night’s talk “Concrete Connections”. Both Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER) and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) were proud sponsors of the event which drew an excellent audience.
The featured speaker, Gabriel Schivone, outlined the underpinnings of an increasing militarization of both the US-Mexican border and that of Israel-Palestine. “Concrete Connections goes beyond abstract connections” he explained, “it is the way the US government and its corporate interests make a spectrum of national boundaries that includes Israel and the Occupied Territories”. “More than 15% of the Israeli settlers “ he continued “currently occupying the West Bank hold US citizenship”.
The US is effectively exporting a culture of settler colonialism to Israel (which is already an incubator for racism and Islamophobia). Plus there is added incentive: Americans who enlist in the Israeli military earn three times the salary of the average Israeli soldier. Referencing research by Sarah Hirschhorn, Schivone explained that of the Americans from the southwest make up the majority who illegally occupy Palestinian land.
The exploitation of Palestinian laborers by settler colonialists closely parallels that of Mexican workers in California. Israel’s policies of “brutality and mayhem come straight out of the history of US expansionism” Schivone asserted. To describe the method of harvesting dates, Israeli landowners use the term “Mexican pruning”, (the lexicon of occupation further analyzed the Ha’artz piece titled Dates of Infamy.)
Thank you to everyone who came to last night’s event, “Educators Cannot Stay Silent: U.S. Universities & Palestine.” Professor Singh gave a description of his travels in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and elaborated on the framework of boycott, divestment, and sanctions as called for by Palestinian Civil Society. In an exciting surprise development, we heard from Jack O’Dell, notable leader in the civil rights struggle of the US. O’Dell related his experiences visiting Palestinian refugee camps in 1979, and his observations of the US-Israeli relationship since 1948. A video of the event is online in the videos section.
On Thursday April 11th, SUPER UW attended an event titled, “Teach-In at UW – From the TPP to the PPP, Militarism to Immigration, Connecting our Struggles So United, We Win,” convened by Seattle’s Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES).
The goal of the teach-in was to build collaboration and solidarity among social justice groups and labor organizations, both on campus and in the wider community. Groups focused discussion on the negative effects of globalized neo-liberalism and the role of the United States and transnational corporations in the perpetuation of human rights abuses worldwide.
Organizations represented included CISPES, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA), Philippine US Solidarity Organization (PUSO), Service Employees International Union 775 NW (SEIU), United Food & Commercial Workers Local 21 (UFCW 21), United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), Washington Fair Trade Coalition and Witness for Peace NW, among others. These groups presented about topics such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Public Private Partnership (PPP) in El Salvador, immigration as a product of trade deals such as the PPP and the TPP, immigrant rights, labor rights, how students with USAS have pressured universities to cut ties with transnational corporations using sweatshops, and how the US and multinational corporations are complicit in and profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
We also addressed tactics to work for change, and how organizations can support each other and learn about intersections between movements. This group plans to meet again and engage in collective action and art activism – if interested in joining, please contact SUPER for more information. We are glad to have attended this event, and learn more about global struggles for justice.
Thank you to everyone who came to Pamela Olson’s talk last night. Olson read from her book, Fast Times in Palestine: A Love Affair with a Homeless Homeland (Seal Press, 2013) and showed pictures from her time spent in the Palestinian Occupied Territories in a presentation filled with personal stories, humor, and historical analyses. If you missed it, Olson will be at Elliott Bay Book Company on Capitol Hill tonight, and her book is available on her website.
On Saturday March 30, several members of SUPER UW joined a march with music and dance through downtown Seattle as part of an International Day of Action for BDS: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel until Israel complies with international laws and allows equal rights for Palestinians.
March 30 was also Land Day, the anniversary of the day in 1976 when six Israeli Palestinians were shot and killed by the Israeli army during non-violent protests against the confiscation of Palestinian land.
Sponsoring organizations included the Northwest BDS Coalition and Palestine Solidarity Committee.
(Information supplied by http://www.palestineinformation.org/events.htm)
We would like to thank the 150 students who came out last quarter to see Deepa Kumar speak during Israeli Apartheid Week. In case anyone missed it, here is the video of the talk. It will also be permanently linked in our video section.
For those of you who purchased the book and would like to continue the discussion, please check our Calendar later this week for times and dates for that study group. The discussion will take place in 2 parts, with the first one being Wednesday week 1, and the second part being Wednesday in week 4. The room is still being assigned. See everyone there!
UW students may have noticed a memorial near the HUB. It was for Rachel Corrie, an Evergreen student, who was killed by an Israeli soldier when she was 23. Saturday, March 16th 2013 is the tenth anniversary of her death.
She spent the last few hours of her life armed only with a megaphone, pleading with the occupying soldiers and attempting to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian family’s home. The house was in the Palestinian territories that Israel began occupying in 1967.
The Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions estimates that Israel has demolished over 27,000 Palestinian homes since 1967. Simultaneously, it has moved over 350,000 Jewish settlers onto Palestinian land, a process that continues today.
It is unlikely that these policies of destroying Palestinian homes while constructing Jewish-only settlements are the strategy of a nation interested only in peace and security. Meanwhile, Israel has received more US money than any other nation. Rachel was nonviolently protesting these policies, and was murdered, crushed by a Caterpillar bulldozer. Nonviolent protestors in the occupied Palestinian territories have continually been met with violence from the Israeli military. For example, Bil’in, a Palestinian village, has been the site of nonviolent protests every Friday for six years. Several of its residents have been killed, and many more injured or imprisoned by Israeli soldiers.
The Israeli government continues to deny responsibility for Rachel’s death. We should honor her memory by asking our government to stop giving Israel our taxes and diplomatic support.
-Peter Weir Postdoctoral scholar in biology
Member of Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights
Originally published in the Daily – Friday, March 15th. 2013