Jul 18

A Letter from SUPER UW to the University of Washington Community

Palestinians gather around the remains of a Gaza City house which was destroyed in an Israeli air strike, 14 July. (Ashraf Amra / APA images)

Palestinians gather around the remains of a Gaza City house which was destroyed in an Israeli air strike, 14 July. (Ashraf Amra / APA images)

Dear UW students, alumni, faculty and staff,

On the 8th of July 2014, Israel launched a military offensive on Gaza that was designated “Operation Protective Edge.” On the 17th of July, Israel started its ground invasion of the Gaza strip that will surely lead to further death and destruction. This ongoing assault on Gaza, a heavily populated area with 1.8 million living in an area of 139 sq miles (smaller than the city of Seattle), has lead so far to the death of 294 Palestinians, 58 of them under the age of 16 and 30 women according to al-Akhbar newspaper. A UN report, states that 4 out every 5 Palestinians killed are civilians.

Reports so far also say that one Israeli volunteer was killed in Sderot and one soldier, bringing the total number of Israeli fatalities to 2. We, SUPER UW, stress the need to address the root cause behind this violence, the Israeli Occupation of Palestine and the complete disregard for the rights and lives of the Palestinian people.

This latest bombardment of Gaza touches the UW community directly as one of UWs students (Laila AbuDahi) is currently trapped in Gaza with no ability travel to UW to attend school in the fall. We mourn all those who have died, and we reaffirm that Palestinians and Israelis deserve security, justice, and equality. As students we identify perhaps most with the 18 Palestinian students who were killed before they learned the results of their 12th grade final exams that would have given them the opportunity to attend University. We mourn their lost potential, hopes and dreams.

In response to the call from civil society organizations in Gaza, we also reaffirm the need now more than ever, to Boycott, Divest and Sanction the state of Israel and those who profit from Occupation until the Israeli government complies with International law and universal values of decency by, ending the occupation, ensuring equal rights for all who live in Palestine/Israel as well as the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

The Boycott National committee lists these 9 ways we can support Gaza through BDS

http://www.bdsmovement.net/get-involved

http://electronicintifada.net/content/urgent-call-gaza-civil-society-act-now/13558

This non-violent movement is one way to send a message to Israel that it can no longer break international law with impunity and ignore the charters of the very organization that created it in 1948.

Please visit the link below for an updated list of the names of those who have been lost:
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/07/gaza-under-seige-naming-dead-2014710105846549528.html

Apr 28

Defending Apartheid – From 1968 to Present

daily-masthead1The Daily newspaper at the University of Washington recently ran an editorial titled “Why Israel?: The problems with ASUW Resolution 20-39.” In this article, Nathan Taft makes two arguments against a resolution brought before the Associated Students of the University of Washington which urges UW to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli government’s human rights abuses.

The first is that Israel’s innovations in science more than make up for the destructive colonial project which the Israeli government has spent the last half century pursuing.

Taft writes,

“The blind hatred that some of the world bears for Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, is a deeply troubling conundrum. There are undoubtedly issues with certain policies of Israel’s government and particular facets of its society — such as the building of settlements — and these must be addressed. But this is only a small part of a much more complicated conflict that stretches back more than 2,000 years, and the solution lies not in misleading propaganda but in fair and open dialogue.

The truth is, the overwhelming majority of what Israel and its people contribute to the world is positive. This tiny nation publishes nearly ten times more scientific papers than its share of the world’s population and has more Nobel Prize winners than all the other countries in the Middle East put together. Israeli technological innovations brought us drip irrigation that revolutionized agriculture worldwide, pill-sized cameras that can be swallowed to diagnose internal conditions, portable flash drives, and instant messaging, to name just a few.”

Taft’s interpretation of the benefits and costs of the occupation completely silences the experiences of the Palestinian people. This familiar ends justify the means argument has long been used to justify colonial and imperial projects, especially those of western powers. In fact, on April 4th, 1968 the Daily published an opinion piece co-authored by journalists Richard Sanders and Larry Parr with strikingly similar arguments attempting to justify South African Apartheid.

In this passage, Sanders and Parr personify “the Facts” in a mock account of a court room proceeding; South Africa is standing trail, and “the Facts” take the stand:

Apartheid1Sanders and Parr argued similarly that UW students in 1968 simply had a “blind hatred” for South Africa, without the “nuanced” understanding of all the “good” apartheid was doing. The paternalistic position is clear: the benevolent occupier was simply not properly understood by the ungrateful occupied.

The scone argument Taft outlines is also familiar. Why focus on Israel? The main point of this argument is that R-20-39 singles out Israel, while ignoring the crimes of surrounding countries. As though focusing on fighting against one oppression means that you are ignoring others. He states,

“Despite this, ASUW Resolution 20-39, entitled “A Resolution to Divest from Companies Profiting from Violations of International Law and Human Rights,” explicitly targets Israel and Israel alone. Not Russia, with its anti-gay laws and illegal annexation of Ukrainian and Georgian territory. Not Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed in public without a male companion and are treated as second class citizens. Not even Syria, where the government has massacred more than 100,000 of its own civilians. No, the Resolution targets only the Jewish of the state of Israel.

The argument for divestment from countries that practice clear-cut and straightforward violations of human rights is a legitimate one, but this resolution does not do that. There are many countries that do far more harm — and contribute far less good — than Israel, and they are not even mentioned, much less targeted by R-20-39.”

This statement suggests that Taft has likely not read the divestment bill R-20-39, which explicitly focuses on companies profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine and not Israel itself, nor Israeli citizens. This defense of apartheid is also shared by Sanders and Parr, who attempt to distract from the issue being discussed by pointing the finger at other countries in the region. This passage references some of the exchange during an event on UW campus in 1968.

Apartheid2

Perhaps the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which helped draw international attention to the barbaric and inhumane treatment of South Africans was misplaced. Perhaps the Black Student Union, who started organizing against South African apartheid as early as 1968, were not justified in doing so as long as any other oppression in the world persisted. Perhaps, as Sanders and Parr argue, what we really needed was a “Good Neighbor policy,” with the South African government.

uwoutUnfortunately for Sanders, Parr and Taft, history has taught us something quite different. In 1989, after over 20 years of dedicated organizing by students at UW, the University of Washington finally divested from South Africa, in response to the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Today we are called upon by 171 Palestinian civil society organizations to engage in a similar nonviolent tactic to help bring about the end of Israeli apartheid. Pursuing divestment in companies who profit from the occupation, which R-20-39 does, is one way students at the UW have chosen to recognize that call. Not only does this resolution answer a call put out by Palestinians seeking an end to a decades long occupation, it helps create a space for an actual dialogue and discussion around Israel’s human rights abuses which goes beyond the oversimplified and inadequate AIPAC and StandWithUs talking points which Taft was so quick to regurgitate.

Students of conscience should vote yes on R-20-39. Defending apartheid today is no different from defending apartheid in 1968. As UW students we can do better. We must do better.

Find out more about #DawgsDivest, sign our petition in support, and read the letters to ASUW senators supporting R-20-39 which have come to us from all around the world at www.superuw.org/dawgsdivest

Mar 11

Support the NWDC Hunger Strike! Rally Today!

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The struggle for justice is happening here in Washington.  People detained and held in Tacoma are on hunger strike demanding fairness, justice, an end to abuse and exploitation of prisoners, and cessation of deportations.
Last week SUPER collaborated with MEChA to stand in solidarity with people affected by borders.  The wall we built was on one side a small scale representation of the separation wall built by Israel into the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  The other side, painted by MEChA, included two panels painted with crosses in reference to the crucifixes affixed to the wall in memory of people who died crossing the border.

The struggle for human dignity and life is not only happening at the border, but in Seattle.  Deportation and detention of immigrants happens on a daily basis–tearing apart families and lives.  Right now, in Tacoma, people held in detention are on hunger and work strike in protest of their conditions and deportation.

SUPER, as we write in our mission statement, understand struggles for liberation as connected to each other. Through conversations with MEChA and research about the border walls and deportation we have seen concrete connections of how the wall is built and population control is exercised in Israel/Palestine and US/Mexico (Jimmy Johnson’s article pulls together many of these threads: https://nacla.org/blog/2012/6/29/palestine-mexico-border).

Hunger strikers are:

calling attention to the unrelenting deportations, the hunger strikers demands include

·      Improved food quality

·      Improved treatment (including medical treatment)

·      Increased pay for work in the facility (the current pay is $1.00/day)

·      An end to exorbitant commissary prices

·      Fundamental fairness and justice

(from http://www.notonemoredeportation.com/portfolio/support-the-1200-detainees-on-hunger-strike-near-seattle/)

Follow the link for signing to support hunger strikers in their demands for fairness and justice.

Signatures are needed TODAY! and there is also a solidarity rally in Tacoma this evening (Tuesday, March 11).

Jan 17

Boycotts and Academic Freedom

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In December, the American Studies Association membership voted by a 2:1 margin to endorse the boycott of Israeli academic institutions, which has sparked debates about academic freedom and the place of Boycott in higher education institutions.  Critics have claimed that boycotting Israeli academic institutions violates the free exchange of ideas. Left out is the question:  why is the Israeli state allowed to prevent the academic freedom of Palestinian Academic institutions with very little criticism or protest from American Academic institutions?  Opponents claim that it singles out Israel unfairly, when there are many nations around the world who likewise commit crimes against humanity, occupy and expropriate others’ land, severely restrict freedom of movement and access to education.  But a boycott is not a general expression of moral disapproval. It is a last resort that targets a state or other institution because of the ongoing and remediable nature of the harm that it is doing. Boycotting Israeli institutions is also a way to clearly withdraw the implicit support given by keeping silent when human rights and academic freedom is restricted by those institutions.  Finally, boycott is undertaken only when those who are the victims of injustice ask us to do so, as it is they who risk bearing the brunt of its effects. The ASA’s resolution responds to the call of over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations for a global boycott of Israeli academic institutions, whose complicity with the ongoing occupation of Palestine is documented.

-Lubna Alzaroo, English Graduate Student
-Caitlin Palo, English Graduate Student

Originally published in the UW Daily – Friday, Jan. 17th, 2014

Aug 12

Call to Artists – UW Disorientation 2013

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SUPER has been hard at work this summer along with members of Amnesty International, MEChA UW, ISO, Women’s Action Commission, Queer Student Commission, and SARVA organizing for a series of events this fall called Disorientation 2013! As a part of Disorientation, there will be a curated art show and we are looking for Seattle artists to contribute! Details below!
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Jul 12

Cycle to End the Cycle of Forced Migration–CISPES

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Si se pudo!  A week and a half ago two SUPER members joined the 2013 Solidarity Cycle with the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador  (CISPES) and biked 80 miles in Seattle’s abnormally early 80 degree weather.  With about 20 people we struggled up hills, flew down them, and had pleasant conversation on the flat portions of the road between Seattle and Carnation.

CISPES has been around for 30 years—working to prevent US political and corporate interests from interfering with democratic processes and human rights in El Salvador.  As we talked with them about their long history of solidarity, we were impressed and inspired by the organizations’ commitment to continued focus on solidarity even long after the people’s party won fair democratic elections.

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Jul 12

Treatment of Palestinians is Apartheid by Any Other Name

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Reposted from OpEdNews

by Jonathan Cook

Were it not for the razor wire, giant concrete blocks, steel gates, watchtower and standard-issue surly teenage soldier, it would be impossible to tell at what point the barren uplands of Israel’s eastern Negev give way to the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank.

The military checkpoint of Shani vaguely marks the formal demarcation between Israel and occupied Palestinian territory, but in practical terms the distinction is meaningless. On either side of the Green Line, Israel is in charge.

In recent weeks it has been intensifying a campaign to evict Palestinian farming communities summarily from their ancestral lands to replace them with Jewish newcomers.

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May 18

Remembering al-Nakba and Anti-Pinkwashing Resistance

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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.

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May 06

May Day – Seattle, WA – 2013

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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.

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