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Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Third North American Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement @ RUTGERS

Students "determined to hold the conference as planned"
The homepage of said Jew-hating fest assures one and all that "We WILL be holding the conference in New Brunswick, whether in public or private space - so book now! "

From their 9/12 "Urgent Call to Action" --
Today, Rutgers University officials have CANCELLED the Third National Student Conference on the Palestine Solidarity Movement, scheduled for October 10-12, 2003 at Rutgers University.

Yet, the students at Rutgers University are determined to hold the conference as planned.

In canceling this widely supported conference throughout North America, the university administration has trampled on constitutional rights, muted free speech, and has betrayed its pledge to fairness and education.

This is an attack on peace and justice activists everywhere. It is an attack on our society as a whole and on our right to free expression and assembly.

But the university administration has gone much farther, and has taken a shameful overt political stand in favor of Israeli Apartheid. As the university cancels the Palestine conference, it is simultaneously supporting an overarching pro-Israel program called "Israel Inspires", organized by the likes of AIPAC and Hillel International along with others, which will be held at Rutgers to "neutralize the Palestinian movement".

According to the official website of "Israel Inspires", the president of Rutgers University, Dr. Richard L. McCormick, "pledged his support for Israel Inspires, and asked to be personally involved in Hillel's positive pro-active initiative." In fact, President McCormick will appear tonight as a keynote at a pro-Israel event hosted by Zionists groups at Rutgers University. Featured participants at the "Israel Inspires" program during the weekend of October 10-12 will include the arch-Zionist Richard Perle and former CIA Director, James Woolsey. They will join the president of the right-wing Hudson Institute, Herbert London, and the publisher & CEO of the Jerusalem Post, Tom Rose. On September 18, 2003, Israeli Minister, Natan Sharansky, will be featured as the opening speaker of the anti-Palestinian year-long program.

Palestine solidarity students and activists have the same right to assemble and hold a conference. They have the right to demand that their university is not invested in another Apartheid system, and that they are not party to the suppression of the Palestinian people. They have the right to express their views and be heard without intimidation and constant harassments.

Palestine solidarity students and activists should not be silenced by anyone. The Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim communities should not be marginalized and positioned as conspirators.

These attacks on the organizers of the Palestine conference and the movement have mirrored the escalating assault on the Palestinian people, and have intersected with the attacks against our civil liberties and constitutional rights. The movement for peace and justice is at a crossroad today, and our society is being tested and pushed to the limits.


WORKSHOPS will include:
History of pro-Palestinian organizing in the U.S.
This workshop will examine the developments in pro-Palestinian organizing over the past decades. As activists we must understand our own history in order to avoid repeating or mistakes as well as draw upon our successes for future success.

Campus Activism
Campus representatives will present their experience in historical and contemporary context. These experiences and others should be provided in a written presentation and wall displays: wall journals of campus activism from as many campuses as possible - where photos, letters, flyers, etc. will be pasted and presented for display and discussion from coast to coast. This will be both empowering and highly educational, highlightingboth success and failure.

Deconstructing zionist propaganda
In this workshop activists will examine Zionist material and handbooks to analyze the tactics used to call attention away from the atrocities committed by Israel. The workshop will include discussion on how to counter each false claim.

The Apartheid Wall, and its Effect on the People of Palestine
Activists from the US and Palestine will discuss the Apartheid Wall, its effects on Palestinian life and society and the growing movement in opposition to the wall. Participants will brainstorm about campaigning against the wall internationally.

Women in the Struggle for Liberation
This workshop will focus on Palestinian women organizing in Palestine and the diaspora, as well as upon the role of women and women's groups in solidarity organizing in North America. Women and their organizations and institutions have often been at the forefront of the Palestinian struggle for liberation, and women have been some of the strongest and most prominent voices in the solidarity movement.

Divestment Research: How-to
This workshop will provide a basic guide to divestment research - finding out the companies in which your university invests, and their ties to apartheid Israel. It is a workshop providing information needed to set up a divestment campaign at a university and a site for strategizing for campus activism.

Dialogue of Unity
This panel will include representatives from main forces in the movement, including national democratic and Islamists. This will highlight how various movements can come to a united front despite many factors especially when their very existence as a people is at stake.

Attacks on immigrants and political repression
In the course of our work, our movement, which includes many immigrants, and our communities, which are often immigrant communities, are deeply affected by the targeting of immigrants and immigrant communities for legal and political persecution. This targeting and persecution must be addressed and combated, as must its effects in the production of fear.

Palestine and anti-Imperialist/anti-Globalization Movements
This workshop will explore the role of anti-imperialist and anti-globalization movements in doing solidarity work with Palestine, as well as the centrality of the Palestinian struggle to those movements' work. It will provide a space for discussion of Palestine solidarity work within those movements and highlight ways to deepen the alliance.

Right of Return
This workshop will focus on the centrality of the Palestinian refugees' right of return to their homes and homeland to our organizing as Palestine solidarity and divestment activists.

Queer voices in the movement
This workshop will focus on exploring the voices of the queer community as part of an international movement for human rights, and how that encompasses the movement for Palestinian liberation, and explore strategies for action and organizing.

In the Jewish Community: Jewish antiZionist voices
This workshop would feature Jewish voices against Zionism, that reclaim Jewish identity outside that imposed by the framework of Zionism, and feature Jewish activists who have reclaimed Jewish identity and provide a new framework for Jewish activism.


CONFIRMED SPEAKERS include:
As'ad AbuKhalil - As'ad AbuKhalil received his B.A. and M.A. in Political Science from the American University of Beirut, and his Ph.D. in Comparative Politics from Georgetown University. He is associate professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus, and Research Fellow at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.

Reem Abu-Sbaih - Reem Abu-Sbaih is a co-chair of Al-Awda New York and works with the Arab American Family Services Center She has worked with detainees and their families, as well as with the Special Registration process.

Tariq Ali - Tariq Ali is a writer, journalist and film-maker. He is a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio and contributes articles and journalism to magazines and newspapers including The Guardian and the London Review of Books.

Rima Anabtawi - Rima Anabtawi is a coordinator of Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, and co-coordinator of its Events committee. She is a Palestinian American writer and activist, and has worked in Palestine with the Medical Services Relief Program in Gaza.

Anthony Arnove - Anthony Arnove is editor of the acclaimed best-seller "Iraq Under Seige". He is also a member of the editorial board of the "International Socialist Review".

Hatem Bazian - Dr. Hatem Bazian is a native Palestinian who immigrated to the US in pursuit of higher education. His twenty years of experience as a Palestinian activist have earned him the role of a local media spokesperson on Middle East issues. He currently teaches at UC-Berkeley where he graduated with a Ph.D. in Islamic studies, specializing in Islamic Law and the history of Muslims in Jerusalem. Dr. Bazian has also authored numerous articles on various aspects of the Middle East. In the past, he has also played a significant role in the civil rights, anti-Apartheid, and affirmative action movements at Berkeley. Dr. Hatem Bazian holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies. He teaches Arabic and Maliki Fiqh at the Zaytuna Institute. Dr.Bazian is the Director of Al-Qalam Institute of Islamic Sciences, Berkeley.

Richard Becker - Richard Becker is West Coast Regional Co-coordinator of the International Action Center and International A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition steering committee member. Becker has traveled to Palestine and Iraq on numerous occasions.

Mahdi Bray - Imam Mahdi Bray is a longtime civil and human rights activist, currently serving as the Executive Director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice (NICWJ) and the Interfaith Alliance and hosts a Washington, DC based television and radio talk show. Bray was actively involved and insturmental in the success of the anti-Apartheid movement in the United States that helped upend the system in South Africa. Bray worked in the 1960s in coalitions with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and other activist groups.

Scott Cooper - Scott Cooper works in the Boston area with the New England Committee to Defend Palestine and the Amer Jubran Defense Committee. Scott will address anti-zionism from the perspective of an individual raised as an Orthodox Jew.

Lamis Deek - Lamis Deek is an organizer with Al-Awda-New York and a recent law school graduate from Brooklyn. She has explored the role and leadership of women in Arab and Muslim organizing.

Ayman El-Sawa - Ayman El-Sawa recently helped to establish the Central New Jersey Coalition for Peace and Justice. His organization has grown very quickly and reaches the community with teach-ins, demonstrations, and performance events.

Brian Flanagan - Brian Flanagan is a former member of the Weather Underground and Students for a Democratic Society. He brings depth of experience and time-worn reflection on the topic of direct action, particularly as it relates to anti-imperialist solidarity movements.

Sara Flounders - co-director of the International Action Center, Sara Flounders is co-coordinator of the Iraq Sanctions Campaign, and has traveled to Iraq and Palestine with international antiwar delegations.

Jeannette Gabriel - Jeannette Gabriel is coordinator of the New Jersey Civil Rights Defense Committee who works with the immigrant detainees at the Passaic County Jail and the campaign to free Farouk Abdel-Muhti.

Jess Ghannam - Jess Ghannam is a psychologist and a professor at the University of California-San Francisco. He is active in Al-Awda San Francisco and works in unity with student groups in the Bay Area.

Samia Halaby - Samia Halaby is a Palestinian artist born in Quds prior to the nakba. She has taught in American universities for eighteen years ending with ten years at the Yale School of Art. Samia explains the connection of art to the resistance movement in Palestine.

Larry Holmes - Larry Holmes is an organizer with the International Action Center , co-founder of the workfare organizing group Workfairness and a longtime activist for social justice.

Randa Jamal - Randa Jamal is an organizer with Al-Awda NY/NJ - The Palestine Right to Return Coalition. She was co-chair of the April 20, 2002 Palestine focused rally in Washingon D.C.

Isma'il Kamal - Isma'il Kamal is an organizer with the Muslim Students Association national organization and with the Sudanese American Society. He has engaged in outreach with the MSA with national antiwar organizations and other groups and communities.

Rama Kased - Rama Kased is a student and co-chair of Al-Awda NY/NJ - The Palestine Right to Return Coalition. Rama is a Palestinian activist who has often spoken about the right of return at national rallies, including those in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.

Charlotte Kates - Charlotte Kates is an organizer with New Jersey Solidarity - Activists for the Liberation of Palestine. She is a second year law student at Rutgers.

Tarek Kazaleh (Excentrik) - Tarek Kazaleh (Excentrik) has been touring with Iron Sheik performing hip hop and spoken word, including having shows cancelled in Baltimore and forced outdoors in New Jersey. He is a cultural worker and performer.

Eyad Kishawi - Eyad Kishawi is an activist with the Free Palestine Alliance and works with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in San Francisco to create the Divestment Resource Center, a central provider of services to divestment activists nationally.

Ibrahim Makkawi - Dr. Ibrahim Makkawi, Professor of Educational and School Psychology, is a member of Abnaa' el-Balad Movement in 1948-Occupied Palestine.

Joseph Massad - Joseph Massad is assistant professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University. He is Assistant Editor of the Journal on Palestine Studies.

Carl Messineo - Carl Messineo is a co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice, and a member of the Steering Committee of the International ANSWER coalition. The PCJ has coordinated mass and political defense and representation for numerous demonstrations and actions in the DC area.

Nadine Naber - Nadine Naber is a postdoctoral graduate student in women's studies. She is a founder and steering committee member of the Arab Women's Solidarity Association.

Elias Rashmawi - Elias Rashmawi is a coordinator of the Free Palestine Alliance and a member of the International ANSWER Coalition Steering Committee. He is a longtime activist in the Palestinian community and supporter of divestment struggles

Dick Reilly - Dick Reilly is a longtime Palestine solidarity activist and a central figure in Chicago's Palestine solidarity work.

Snehal Shingavi - Snehal Shingavi is a graduate student and is active with Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Berkeley. He was one of the primary researchers on Berkeley's divestment campaign and the UC Divest campaign, and has worked to prepare a guide to divestment research.

Lynne Stewart - Lynne Stewart is the attorney who has just victoriously defeated charges of "supporting terrorism" imposed upon her by John Ashcroft due to her defense of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman. She is a longtime people's attorney and committed to radical defense of constitutional rights.

Brenda Stokely - Brenda Stokely is a labor leader and president of AFSCME District Council 1707 in New York. She is also Co-Convener of NYC Labor Against the War.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard - Mara Verheyden-Hilliard is a co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice, and a member of the Steering Committee of the International ANSWER coalition. The PCJ has coordinated mass and political defense and representation for numerous demonstrations and actions in the DC area.

Zeina Zaatari - Zeina Zaatari is a graduate student in the department of anthropology at UC Davis and an organizer and activist around Arab and women's issues.


The Crux of the Biscuit is to be found in the conference's Mission Statement:

"Just as the 3rd Conference condemns the racism and discrimination inherent in Zionism underlying the policies and laws of the state of Israel, the 3rd Conference rejects any form of hatred or discrimination against any group based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation."

UPDATE: See "City considers Hillel rally permit" in The [Rutgers] Daily Targum Thurs., Sept. 18.