Help support the Right to Education Tour!

Support the Right to Education Campaign’s West Coast tour

We are seeking your financial support for Palestinian students to travel to California as part of the Right to Education Tour. Palestinian students from Birzeit University will be visiting the United States, giving us a rare and important opportunity for Palestinians living under occupation to directly speak to university students in the United States (you can see articles about RTE here). We hope to raise $4,000 to  help fund travel, lodging, and other costs for the students who will be visiting California.




With many thanks,

SJP-West Fundraising Committee

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UC Berkeley rejects bill condemning boycotts of Israeli academic institutions

[caption id="attachment_175009390" align="aligncenter" width="563"]From the Daily Cal, Photo by Arielle Hayat From the Daily Cal, Photo by Arielle Hayat[/caption]

From the Daily Cal: More than 100 students, professors, UC alumni and other community members gathered in Anna Head Alumnae Hall to voice their opinions on Senate Bill 11, titled “A Bill in Support of the Free Flow of Ideas and International Academic Collaboration,” which was sponsored by Student Action Senator Ori Herschmann.

The bill called for the ASUC to endorse “academic freedom” and to support academic exchanges such as those between UC Berkeley and Israeli academic institutions.

In particular, the bill called for the ASUC to reject academic boycotts against Israeli academic institutions, such as those by the American Studies Association and the Association for Asian American Studies. The American Studies Association voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions on the grounds that these institutions are subject to state policies that allegedly violate human rights.

The bill also called for the ASUC to denounce a student-organized event scheduled for next week that, among other points, advocates an academic boycott of Israel. The International Day of Action on College Campuses for Palestine, scheduled for Tuesday, calls for no “academic complicity” with the Israeli government, according to the event’s Facebook page — including no study abroad programs in Israel and no joint research or conferences with Israeli institutions.

Such academic boycotts, the bill asserts, are violations of academic freedom.

When the committee floor opened for public comment, many opponents of the bill brought up the institutional academic roadblocks for Palestinian students under Israeli law.

Viveka Jagadeesan, a campus junior and member of Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Berkeley, opposed the bill, saying its language was problematic. She said it failed to clarify that the academic boycott applies only to Israeli institutions with “discriminatory policies,” not to individual Israeli academics.

Additionally, she said the contents of the bill contradicted its claim to support free speech.

“When I read the bill, I was quite struck that the bill claimed to support the free flow of ideas when one of its calls to action was to condemn a student-organized event on campus,” Jagadeesan said.

Resources:

Kumars Salehi in the Daily Cal: Anti-BDS bill would have stifled free speech on campus

Letter from prominent academics against the bill

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SJP West Voices Concerns about Student Regent-Designate Nominee

Dear members of the UCSA Board,

SJP West is writing to voice serious concerns about the recent developments surrounding the student-regent designate, Avi Oved, and the possibility that he accepted a financial contribution from Adam Milstein during his political campaign in 2013. While Students for Justice in Palestine is an organization with views on Israel/Palestine and divestment that are at odds with those of Oved and his party slate, the issue at hand is not divestment, but the potential violation of transparency and ethicality so integral for a student representative to uphold. The evidence presented to date suggests that a student who will potentially be tasked with representing the entire University of California student body willfully undermined the democratic process by seeking outside funding from an individual with a partisan political agenda. This is profoundly troubling because it sends the message that student political favors are for sale and that the general student body’s needs may be of secondary importance to the desires of such off-campus political donors.

Despite political differences, all students should be able to know that our representatives are only answerable to student concerns and not those of outside entities. Student representatives must be solely accountable to their constituents. It is absolutely essential for these charges to be thoroughly ruled out: how can we hold state and federal leaders to account if we cannot even do the same for our own student leaders? We need to be absolutely certain that the student regent designate’s loyalties lie with UC students first and foremost and not with outside organizations.

Furthermore, we find Milstein’s public displays of racist and Islamophobic sentiment repugnant, and Avi Oved’s potential solicitation of funds from such a donor to be a matter of grave concern. Representing the UC’s diverse student body requires a student regent with a demonstrated commitment to openness and tolerance. Avi Oved’s refusal to distance himself publicly from this exchange suggests an incompatibility with these qualities. Even excluding the substantive content of Mr. Milstein’s beliefs, the possibility that the integrity of student government is being undermined by outside forces to further a particular political agenda is unacceptable and must be investigated thoroughly.

Finally, it is very alarming that Oved refused, for no apparent reason, to join the UCSA’s conference call specifically held for him to answer questions and be accountable to his constituents. In addition to this, his lack of explicit denial of accepting those contributions from Milstein and of the email’s authenticity are also disturbingly telling. Both participation in a conversation about these allegations and an assurance that the contributions did not take place would have been crucial to preserving student trust in their student regent-designate. An investigation is hence paramount to ensure that Oved is the right candidate for this position and that students can trust him to represent them fairly and transparently.

We hope that these allegations will be investigated in as scrupulous a manner as possible. The credibility of our student representation may very well depend on it.

Sincerely,

Students for Justice in Palestine West

Jewish Voice for Peace at UCLA

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Editorial: Divestment puts student participation on full display

ucr photo

UC Riverside Highlander Editorial Board:

By now, every student has heard the critiques before. We’re lazy. We’re entitled. We don’t want to take our eyes off our Facebooks or our butts off our couches. Yeah, we know.

UCR students have shattered that misconception…

We have been engaged in the world around us, making our voices heard by engaging in electoral politics and protesting when the political system didn’t listen. Nowhere was this more evident than during ASUCR’s recent meeting that discussed divestment. The senate chambers could not accommodate the turnout, so the meeting was moved to UNLH, UCR’s largest lecture hall. Over 150 students spent five hours during a week filled with studying and midterms to debate the merits of divestment. Students held posters high. Students made their case to their elected representatives. In short, students did exactly what participatory democracy expects of its citizens: We participated.

…Let’s not let the energy surrounding divestment be a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence. The momentum of dialogue and conversation cannot cease with divestment. It must continue forward, with students carrying the banner to advocate for the issues they find important. Students can effect real change. We just have to be tenacious and energetic enough to seek it in the first place.

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‘What Side Of History Will You Be On?’: A Closer Look at the Dialogue Surrounding Divestment

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="520"] John Clow, Daily Nexus[/caption]

Katlen Abuata, Daily Nexus

Stokely Carmichael once said of Dr. Martin Luther King, “His major assumption was that if you are nonviolent, if you suffer, your opponent will see your suffering and will be moved to change his heart. That’s very good. He only made one fallacious assumption: In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent must have a conscience.” In reality, Israel, the United States, the corporations profiting off this occupation and this Associated Students Senate have no conscience.

We cannot ignore the fact that the United States sends Israel eight million dollars a day in military aid, regardless of countless resolutions condemning Israel’s human rights violations. We cannot forget that Palestine has been colonized and that Palestinians are indigenous to Israel and Palestine, including Jewish, Muslim and Christian Palestinians. We are profiting off of companiesthat demolish homes to make room for settlements. There are over four million registered Palestinian refugees. This movement is bigger than UCSB, and it is reaching a pivotal moment.

We can no longer be invested in violence, and just as truth and justice has prevailed in the past, so will it at the University of California. This wall will fall and the occupied will rise, with or without this Senate’s validation. The question becomes: What side of history will you be on? My name is Katlen Abu Ata, I am a UCSB student, I am Palestinian and I am a true advocate for peace and justice.

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#SDSUdivest: Divestment leads the social justice agenda at San Diego State University

Nadir Bouhmouch, Mondoweiss:

The spring of 2014 semester at San Diego State University was a turning point in student organizing on the campus. The proposal of a divestment bill in January that demanded the university cease its investments in corporations that are complicit in Israeli human rights violations along with a series of other events throughout the semester indicates the galvanization of a new campus left.

The divestment results at San Diego State University’s University Council (16 against, 3 in favor, 3 abstentions) should not come as a surprise. We understood that we were introducing a bill that focused on social justice to a student government that focuses on business, applauding itself as a “corporation.” It is exactly for this reason that we introduced the resolution.

The primary objective of the divestment initiative was to challenge the corporate model of student governance, to educate students on the human rights violations faced by the Palestinian people, and to stimulate the formation of inter-community solidarity amongst students at San Diego State University. In this respect, divestment was a spectacular victory.

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Statement of Solidarity with Striking UCSC Graduate Students

On Wednesday, April 2nd, the union that represents Teaching Assistants at UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) went on strike to protest ongoing harassment of campus workers both at UCSC and at other campuses across the state. In the past few months administrators have threatened students who have international visas, unlawfully videotaped protestors, and falsely claimed that legally sanctioned strikes are illegal, thereby intimidating students who would otherwise stand up for their peers’ and TAs’ rights.

Early in the morning on Wednesday, riot police that had been shipped in from Berkeley for the unambiguous purpose of crushing today’s protest cracked down on union members and their undergraduate supporters without legitimate cause. 19 union members and students were arrested. They spent 10 hours in jail on trumped up charges that have not been dropped. On Thursday morning, 2 more students were arrested under the purview of UCSC’s Executive Vice Chancellor, Allison Galloway.

UCSC Committee for Justice in Palestine (CJP) is outraged that UCSC administrators would sanction such a blatant attack on our rights. UC management has stonewalled and blocked every effort, no matter how miniscule, by students and workers to improve their lot, in hopes of stalling and ultimately quashing any attempts by students and workers to take their fates into their own hands. We refuse to be sidetracked by these machinations.

Today has unmasked the UCSC administrators for what they truly are. They will stoop to any level in order to achieve their goals. These goals are clear—the administration wants to intensify its exploitation of workers on campus and decrease educational services to students while extracting more and more profit from them.

As students who have faced repression by the UC administration in the past, we stand in solidarity with workers currently on strike. As members of the UCSC community we are enmeshed in a system that perpetuates the exploitation of students and workers not just here at UCSC but also in the Middle East, due to the University of California’s political and financial policies.

CJP condemns UCSC’s decision to break a legal strike by force. We support our fellow students and TAs in their efforts to secure a better future for themselves.

Another rally will take place Thursday at noon. We strongly urge our allies to come join us on the picket line. It is important to show UCSC and other UCs statewide that intimidation tactics will not deter us.

In solidarity,

Committee for Justice in Palestine at UC Santa Cruz

Students for Justice in Palestine at UC San Diego

Students for Justice in Palestine at University of Southern California

Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Berkeley

Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Los Angeles

Students for Justice in Palestine at Cal State University Fullerton

Students for Justice in Palestine at San Diego State University

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Students for Justice in Palestine speaks at California State University Board of Trustees Meeting to defend right to criticize Israeli occupation

On Wednesday, January 29, 2014, AMCHA Initiative, StandWithUs, and company took the opportunity to delegitimize the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement, as well as defame California State University, Northridge (CSUN) Professor David Klein at a CSU Board of Trustees meeting. AMCHA has claimed that he “has inappropriately used university resources on several occasions, including posting anti-Semitic pictures and text on a webpage hosted by CSUN and by using CSUN email for political campaign activity.” (1) Although a letter written by lawyers, Jim Lafferty and Liz Jackson, in September of 2013 provides ample support and clarification that Klein did not violate any CSU policies and was cleared of complaints by the CSUN administration as well as the California Attorney General (2), AMCHA continues the witch-hunt on BDS supporters, such as Klein.

Thanks to mobilization by Jewish Voice for Peace – Los Angeles (JVP – LA), Palestine activists banded together within a matter of a few days to stand up for academic freedom, the BDS movement, and human rights at the CSU Board of Trustees meeting. Representatives from JVP – LA and Students for Justice in Palestine – West (SJP – West), current and former CSU students, and CSU faculty were present to show solidarity with Palestinian civil society’s call for BDS and to protect Professor David Klein’s right to freedom of speech.

SJP – West’s official statement during public comment at the CSU Board of Trustees meetings is as follows:

Students for Justice in Palestine-West would like to thank you for your time today as we urge you to foster an environment tolerant of all speech, including the advocacy of Palestinian rights as well as the boycott of and divestment from corporations that are complicit in Israel’s violations of human rights and international law. Like the students who fought for the boycott of the apartheid regime in South Africa, we are a non-violent movement driven solely by a fundamental belief in universal human rights and their interconnected and unconditional nature.

As an academic institution, the CSU system has a responsibility to recognize and protect the right to education everywhere. In Palestine, access to education is impeded by the brutality of Israeli settlers and soldiers, military checkpoints and the wall, segregated academic institutions, as well as the denial of entry for international academics. As American students, we are deeply concerned for the wellbeing of our Palestinian counterparts. Boycott and Divestment is a means to ensure that all inhabitants of the region, regardless of their religion and ethnicity, live in an equal democratic society.

We applaud American academics who have used their freedom of expression to voice their concerns about the violation of Palestinian human rights, even in the face of coercion and threats.

Along with SJP – West’s statement, 6 others publicly voiced support for academic boycott and freedom, whereas 3 people tried to silence and criminalize that support.

A few days after the CSU Board of Trustees meeting, on Friday, January 31, 2014, CSU Chancellor Tim White issued a statement on behalf of the entire CSU system denouncing Asian American Studies Association, American Studies Association, and Native American Studies Association resolutions endorsing the 2005 call by Palestinian civil society to academically boycott Israel, which is currently being challenged by CSU faculty via petition.

Part of the chancellor’s official statement reads:

“Academic boycotts violate the basic tenets of higher education including academic freedom and scholarly dialog. Boycotts attempt to limit the unfettered creation, discovery and dissemination of knowledge vital to our tripartite mission of research, teaching and service. These characteristics are essential to preparing students with the analytical and critical thinking skills to lead in business, community, educational and civic organizations.”

To paraphrase, according to Chancellor White’s proclamation, academic freedom is important, but what he chooses to ignore are academic restrictions/limitations placed upon Palestinians living under occupation, within and outside of the borders of Israel. Because of these restrictions/limitations, Palestinians are not granted the academic freedom that Chancellor White expresses is part of the “basic tenets of higher education.” Also, contrary to White’s beliefs, an academic boycott of Israel would pressure the state to give equal and just access to education for everyone, which would further academic freedom rather than hinder it.

Despite much effort to stifle critical discussions and actions in relation to Israel by administrators and external organizations, students and faculty continue to push against the current by initiating BDS campaigns and developing Palestine activism on campuses within California (and beyond).

About a month has passed since the CSU Board of Trustees meeting and within that month, a BDS campaign has sprung into action at San Diego State University (SDSU):

sdsu

 

Website: SDSU Divest Webpage

Facebook: SJP SDSU

Twitter: SDSU_SJP

There is no doubt that the BDS movement is growing, is being noticed, and it will not be stopped.

 

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Donate to SJP-West

Dear allies -

After a very successful year of organizing on the West Coast, SJP-West is now holding its fall fundraising drive. This year we are asking for donations to support two major initiatives that we hope will continue to grow and expand our work:

1) Funding Student Travel to the National SJP Conference: 

This fall, Students for Justice in Palestine chapters across the West Coast are fundraising to support student travel to the National SJP Conference in Boston, Massachusetts (October 24-26). We are hoping to be able to help offset the travel costs of students from the 20+ SJP chapters up and down the West Coast. We hope to raise $3,000 for travel support. This conference is an amazing opportunity for activists from across the country to meet each other, learn from each other, build solidarity, and coordinate actions for the year.

2) Supporting the Right to Education Campaign’s West Coast tour:

In addition, we are also asking for financial support for Palestinian students to travel to California as part of the Right to Education Tour. Palestinian students from Birzeit University will be visiting the United States, providing a rare and important opportunity for Palestinians living under occupation to directly speak to university students in the United States.

 

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