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Related Categories: Palestine | Racial Justice
Criminalizing the Palestinian Solidarity Movement
by Pankaj Mehta
Sunday Jul 20th, 2003 3:51 AM
While the University has recognized the conference as an example of student free speech and freedom of political association, the conference, and its local sponsor, New Jersey Solidarity -- Activists for the Liberation of Palestine (NJS), are under attack from various media outlets and state politicians. The attacks are not confined to merely trying to stop the conference but, instead, seek to criminalize New Jersey Solidarity and by extension, the Palestinian solidarity movement as a whole. The goal of the attackers is to equate the Palestinian liberation struggle with terrorism and label those who support the struggle as terrorist sympathizers with all the consequences it entails under the Patriot Act.
The Bigotry of NJ Governor McGreevey
Criminalizing the Palestinian Solidarity Movement
By PANKAJ MEHTA

Rutgers University will be hosting the Third National Student Conference on the Palestinian Solidarity Movement October 10-12 in New Brunswick, NJ. While the University has recognized the conference as an example of student free speech and freedom of political association, the conference, and its local sponsor, New Jersey Solidarity -- Activists for the Liberation of Palestine (NJS), are under attack from various media outlets and state politicians.

New Jersey Solidarity is a grassroots organization dedicated to resistance and action in support of the Palestinian struggle for justice, national liberation, human rights and self-determination. The attacks are not confined to merely trying to stop the conference but, instead, seek to criminalize New Jersey Solidarity and by extension, the Palestinian solidarity movement as a whole. The goal of the attackers is to equate the Palestinian liberation struggle with terrorism and label those who support the struggle as terrorist sympathizers with all the consequences it entails under the Patriot Act.

New Jersey's Governor Jim McGreevey is in the forefront in this regard. The governor's spokesman, Micah Rasmussen, said the governor finds the group "abhorrent" and has been gathering information to determine whether or not they have a history of violence. As if this was not enough, he went on to state that the group did not turn up on lists of suspected terrorist organizations. (Saturday July 12 Press of Atlantic City). The implications of the last statement are clear: any group that supports the Palestinian liberation struggle should be considered a "terrorist" organization.

The governor's attacks go well beyond the mere calls to cancel the conference issued by the co-president of the New Jersey state senate, Sen. John Bennett (R-Monmouth). These attacks seek to intimidate and bully activists and sympathizers of the Palestinian cause. Such tactics are not new. During McCarthy era, peace organizations were attacked as "communists". During the 1960's and 1970's, the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement were branded terrorists and systematically brutalized by the F.B.I. In the 1980's, similar tactics were used on anti-apartheid solidarity groups. What makes the present incarnation especially dangerous is the political climate in post-September 11th America.

Since September 11th, it has become legitimate to harass, register, detain, and expel immigrants, especially Muslim immigrants. American Muslims have become political fodder for both the Republican and Democratic party. During her senate campaign, Hillary Clinton first accepted and then returned a contribution of $50,000 from an American-Muslim organization after being accused of being friends with those who supported "Palestinian terrorism". Gov. McGreevey refused to meet with the American Muslim Alliance, a large mainstream Muslim political organization, during his gubernatorial campaign. In this climate of fear, Muslim Americans rightfully fear for their safety and comfort. Though many sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians, American Muslims are frightened into silence.

By criminalizing the Palestinian solidarity movement, those in power hope to prevent mainstream Muslim and progressive anti-war voices from joining forces with those activists fighting for a free and independent Palestine. They hope to play on the fears of the populace in order to prevent the formation of the kind of cross-ethnic, cross-class solidarity movement that was so vital in ending apartheid in South Africa. If this cannot be accomplished, the ruling elite hope to blackmail the Palestinian Solidarity movement into renouncing some of its core principles, especially acknowledging the right of the Palestinians to choose their own form of resistance to the illegal Israeli occupation.

It is vital that the progressive voices everywhere resist this blackmail. Just as the American government has tried to split Palestinian resistance in the occupied territories, they hope to splinter the progressive voices in America. A split anti-war, anti-occupation movement is not nearly as powerful as a broad united one. The criminalization of the Palestinian solidarity movement, especially its more militant wings, is an attempt at forcing this split. To resist, progressives must engage in a twofold strategy. First, they must fight the draconian anti-immigrant agenda that has been unveiled at home. They must reach out to immigrant communities and integrate their demands and concerns into the struggle for social justice. Second, progressives must take a clear and vocal stand on the Palestinian struggle, including the right of the Palestinians to resist the occupation. There cannot be any compromise on this issue.

Over the last week, New Jersey Solidarity has been labeled anti-semitic and terroristic for merely affirming the right of the Palestinians to struggle for their own self-determination. Rutgers University has been threatened with funding cuts in order to prevent the conference from taking place. These actions should be viewed as part of a broader strategy at alienating and splitting the anti-war, anti-occupation movement by criminalizing the Palestinian cause. It is up to all progressives, especially the broad coalitions such as ANSWER and UFPJ, to take a firm stand in order to prevent this split.

Pankaj Mehta is a member of of the Progressive Graduate Student Alliance at Rutgers University.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Mike
(stepbystepfarm <a> mtdata.com) Sunday Jul 20th, 2003 5:30 AM
A more complex issue than that. The reality is that it can't be both ways. Either the views of "njsolidarity" DO represent those of "palsolidarity" (and ISM, etc.) or they do not.

In response to attacks upon them (claims that they are for the elimination of Israel and support attacks upon Israel "by ANY means") many supporters of "palsolidarity" (and ISM) have responded with various IMC postings that they do not -- that "njsolidarity" does NOT speak or them all. That they are not for the destruction of Israel and do not suport the suicide bombings, etc.

OK, here we have something (presumably from "njsolidarity") argueing against the pro Palestinian movement being "split". Also apparently a plea to "progressives" in general to include support for THIS sort of position as well. Sorry, but I don't "get it". How can one argue for "unity" and at the same time against the idea that "palsolidarity" (etc.) is "pro-terrorist"? Likewise how could "progressives" in general make the claim that they do not support terrorism if they include the "njsolidarity" position?

PS --- PLEASE, do NOT take my word for my characterization of the "njsolidarity" position but go to their website and look for yourself.
by international criminals
Monday Jul 21st, 2003 11:35 AM
Palestinians openly engage in terrorism it has proven its self an out law state and not capable of self rule. above and beyond that fact, Palestine is not a real country. is occupies Israeli land. which nullifies their claim to being at war. this makes the p.l.o. and Palestinians collaborators international criminals.
by gehrig
Monday Jul 21st, 2003 12:55 PM
"Palestine = criminals"

That's far too broad a condemnation. The Palestinian "leadership" has, until very recently at least, been criminally stupid and criminally negligent in persuing peace with Israel; Arafat has lived in mighty high style and with an absolute power over the Palestinian people he'd rather not relinquish -- even if it's the Palestinians themselves who pay the price. Of all the tragedies the Palestinians have faced, clearly tragedy number one has been the "leadership" of Abu Clouseau.

Rabin + Arafat = no peace, no Palestinian state

Netanyahu + Arafat = no peace, no Palestinian state

Barak + Arafat = no peace, no Palestinian state

Sharon + Arafat = no peace, no Palestinian state

Sharon + Abbas = cease-fire, first Palestinian PM to visit Israeli PM as a guest of state, etc.

@%<
by ...
Monday Jul 21st, 2003 1:47 PM
math for dummies.
by its time
Monday Jul 21st, 2003 1:57 PM

Criminalizing the Palestinian Solidarity Movement

well I suppose its time has come, they can no longer kill un fettered and get away with it. the truth will finaly come out.

-ANGIE
by angie
Monday Jul 21st, 2003 7:31 PM
What is my name doing here above?
by ANGEL
Tuesday Jul 22nd, 2003 12:53 AM
To have peace we need a Palestinian State with reasonable borders that the Israeli Military cannot cross into. The Israeli Governments needs to stop confiscating Palestinian land and demolishing Palestinian homes..so there can be a reason for the Palestinians to stop their fight for freedom...

For Possible Solution to this horrific Problem:
CLICK HERE > http://www.indybay.org/news/2003/06/1618616.php


For Angie, some interesting reading.

The Main Thing Is to Satisfy Caesar
by Uri Avnery • Sunday July 20, 2003 at 08:15 PM

CLICK HERE > http://jerusalem.indymedia.org/news/2003/07/124288_comment.php#124331
by John Veldhuis
Tuesday Jul 22nd, 2003 4:04 AM
Israeli settlers openly engage in terrorism. Its originating country (Israel) has proven its self an out law state and not capable of justice, democracy or secularity. It occupies Palestine land. which nullifies their claim to being a country like any other. This makes the Israeli army and and settlers terrorists and international criminals.

by Angie
Tuesday Jul 22nd, 2003 10:36 AM
Thanks!

I've already read that! Uri Avnery's News and Articles is my home page! So I get to read his columns the minute they're published.

Brief pleasant note! I e-mailed dear Uri a few weeks ago, and HE REPLIED!! I was totally enchanted! Why isn't he the Prime Minister of Israel? He wants a dignified and just peace. He would love your solution to the "conflict".

Keep up the good fight, Angel

Angie
by Scottie
Tuesday Jul 22nd, 2003 1:31 PM
Uri Avnery is not the primeminister of israel because countries like israel when they are under attack vote for strong representitives who will defend them agressively as opposed to weak ones.

Note how Arafat cripled the labour party in israel by starting the intefadah.

Also for example when WWII started britain chose churchill over chamberlin. If you had wanted a negotiated solution to WWII you would have had to have backed nevil chamerlin all the way because he was willing to totally bend over backwards for peace.

Stop the terror the lefties can win they can put in a leftie leftie at some stage and you can have some leftist solution to the conflict (maybe, asuming leftie lefties can do that). But of course you wont get to find out if that will work if the intefadah keep on pushing israels right.
by about electing terrorists
Tuesday Jul 22nd, 2003 1:44 PM
Israelis have elected no less than three terrorist commanders as prime minister: Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, and Ariel Sharon.
by gehrig
Tuesday Jul 22nd, 2003 2:57 PM
Scottie: "Note how Arafat cripled the labour party in israel by starting the intefadah."

And that's nothing compared to what he did to the parties to the farther left. And I have to confess, he fooled me too. But his credibility is so completely shot now -- even among his own folks -- that the best thing he could do for the Palestinian people right now is decide he's really French after all.

@%<
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