[Pnews] On Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, Anti-Prison, Labor, Academic Delegation Takes Stand against Israeli State Violence, Affirms Solidarity with Palestinian People

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Sat Apr 16 13:51:31 EDT 2016


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samidoun posted: " Recently returned from a ten-day trip to the 
Israeli-colonized Palestine, a US delegation of anti-prison, labor, and 
scholar-activists has issued the following statement to mark Palestinian 
Prisoners Day 2016.  The delegation included three former US-he"


    New post on *Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network*

	

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    On Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, Anti-Prison, Labor, Academic
    Delegation Takes Stand against Israeli State Violence, Affirms
    Solidarity with Palestinian People
    <http://samidoun.net/2016/04/on-palestinian-prisoners-day-anti-prison-labor-academic-delegation-takes-stand-against-israeli-state-violence-affirms-solidarity-with-palestinian-people/>

by samidoun <http://samidoun.net/?author=1>

delegation-birzeit 
<http://samidoun.net/site/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/delegation-birzeit.jpg>

Recently returned from a ten-day trip to the Israeli-colonized 
Palestine, a US delegation of anti-prison, labor, and scholar-activists 
has issued the following statement to mark Palestinian Prisoners Day 
2016. The delegation included three former US-held political prisoners, 
and a formerly incarcerated activist, two former Black Panther Party 
members, university professors, prison abolition organizers, and trade 
unionists. This was the first US delegation to Palestine to focus 
specifically on political imprisonment and solidarity between 
Palestinian and US prisoners.  The delegation also paid special 
attention to the recent labor organizing in the West Bank and the 
efforts of Palestinian scholars and activists to reclaim the history, 
political identity and culture of the Palestinian people.

In recognition of International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian 
Prisoners, the US Anti-Prison, Labor, and Academic Delegation is 
demanding freedom for the 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners 
currently held in Israeli jails and all those fighting for justice 
everywhere, including political prisoners in U.S. prisons.

Reflecting information, analysis, and testimony gathered from meetings 
with close to 100 Palestinian activists, advocates, organizers, and 
former political prisoners from many social justice, human rights, 
labor, education, and political organizations and institutions, the US 
delegation’s statement concluded:

We feel an urgent sense of responsibility to pressure the United States 
to stop funding Israeli crimes against humanity. We express our support 
for the struggle for a free Palestine as a central struggle in the 
worldwide movement against U.S. imperialism. We are committed to 
employing a variety of tactics in solidarity with Palestine, including 
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and we condemn Israeli and Zionist 
attacks against advocates for justice for/in Palestine in our 
communities and on our campuses. We connect prisoner and labor movements 
across the borders; and apply the spirit of sumud to all our struggles 
for liberation within the United States.

Photo: Delegation Images/Freedom Archives 
<http://www.freedomarchives.org/Pal/Images/>.  US Prisoner, Labor and 
Academic Delegation with colleagues from the Institute for Women's 
Studies at Birzeit University, Birzeit, Palestine, March 29, 2016

Full statement follows:

*We Stand with Palestine in the Spirit of “**/Sumud/**”*

*The U.S. Prisoner, Labor and Academic Solidarity Delegation to Palestine *

*March 24 to April 2, 2016*

At a moment of growing resistance to state violence and injustice the 
world over, a delegation of nineteen anti-prison, labor and 
scholar-activists from the United States traveled to Palestine in March 
2016. Our delegation included former U.S.-held political prisoners and 
social prisoners, former Black Panther Party members, prison 
abolitionists, trade unionists and university professors. We are the 
first U.S. delegation to Palestine to focus specifically on political 
imprisonment and solidarity between Palestinian and U.S. prisoners. Our 
delegation also focused on recent labor struggles in Palestine for bread 
and dignity, and on the struggles of Palestinian intellectuals to assert 
the rightful claims of Indigenous Palestinians to their land, culture 
and history.

On this April 17, the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian 
Prisoners, we demand freedom for the 7,000 Palestinian political 
prisoners <http://www.addameer.org/statistics> currently held in Israeli 
jails and all those fighting for justice everywhere, including political 
prisoners in U.S. prisons.

During our ten-day trip, we heard from diverse groups of Palestinians 
who daily resist summary executions, mass imprisonment, land 
confiscation, house demolitions, restrictions to water access and 
restriction of movement. In the face of Israel’s system of racialized 
terror, Palestinians uphold their commitment to “/sumud/.” This Arabic 
word has historical ties to the Palestinian anti-colonial liberation 
movement and is defined as “steadfastness,” or standing one’s ground 
with dignity—a form of resistance. We saw this resistance, and were 
inspired by it, over and over during our visit.

Having witnessed /sumud/ firsthand, we stand in solidarity with the 
Palestinian anti-colonial struggle and with the liberation of Palestine, 
including the right to return, the rights of self-determination, justice 
and peace. We condemn the shocking and continuing human rights 
violations carried out with impunity by Israel with the full strategic 
support of the U.S. government. We stand with the growing worldwide 
movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions 
<https://bdsmovement.net/> (BDS) of Israeli settler colonialism and 
apartheid. We learned from the Palestinian movement that steadfastness 
is not only possible but necessary, especially under the most oppressive 
conditions.

Our travels took us to lands colonized by Israel in 1948 and occupied in 
1967: from Jericho and the Jordan Valley to the Naqab, Haifa, Yafa, 
Jerusalem and Nablus; from Ramallah and Bethlehem to Lydd and Nazareth; 
and from Dheisheh to Ayn Hawd. We met with dozens of former political 
prisoners, prisoner support organizations and human rights advocates, 
professors and public intellectuals, political leaders, members of 
Bedouin and peasant communities threatened with displacement, women 
leaders, organizers for gender and sexual justice, cultural workers, and 
trade unionists struggling for dignified work conditions.

Our hosts insisted that we examine the harrowing conditions of 
Palestinian life not just in the context of the Israeli military 
occupation of the West Bank and Gaza since 1967, but as the consequence 
of the Zionist invasion and seizure of 1948. The 1948 Nakba, or 
“catastrophe,” displaced 85% of Palestinians from their lands to the 
West Bank, Gaza and nearby Arab countries of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. 
Subjected to Israeli military rule from 1948 to 1966, Palestinians who 
remained were internally displaced in their own country, confined to its 
poorest regions, forbidden from moving freely, stripped of land rights 
and subjected to a brutal system of racial apartheid.

Palestinian residents in territories colonized by Israel in 1948 
continue to live with many of the same forms of state terrorism that are 
commonly associated with the military occupation of the 1967 Palestinian 
territories—an Orwellian system of laws and regulations including 
racialized arrest, segregation, settler violence, land confiscation, 
forced relocation, home demolitions and civil rights violations of all 
kinds. We witnessed the wholesale project of Zionist /colonization/—the 
greatest threat to the life, security and human rights of the 
Palestinian people.

The aim of the Zionist project was—and remains—the creation of an 
exclusively Jewish state through the violent displacement of 
Palestinians and their replacement by Jewish immigrants. After 1948, 
Jews who had been a numeric minority became the majority through the 
calculated process of massacres, forced expulsion, Jewish immigration 
from Europe and land confiscations by Zionist settlers. For these 
reasons, Palestinians we spoke to insisted on framing the roots of 
current-day problems in the historical context of Israel’s 
settler-colonial apartheid regime.

Time and again, Palestinians made clear the distinction between Zionism 
as a racist and colonial movement and Jewish people. They emphasized 
that a free Palestine will be a land of religious pluralism and respect 
of diverse spiritualities, according to the Palestinian National Charter 
of 1969 and the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence. 
Palestinians also stressed that historically and contemporarily there 
has not been a homogenous stand of Jews on Israel or Zionism. In fact, 
the intensification of Israeli violence and racism is leading a growing 
number of Holocaust survivors as well as younger Jews to invoke “never 
again/for anyone/” and “not in my name” to dissociate themselves from 
the Zionist state and its racist and genocidal policies.

As strongly as we were compelled to examine the shameful and brutal 
history of Zionist colonialism in Palestine and the harrowing conditions 
of Palestinian life, we were in turn compelled to learn about the 
continuous resistance of the Palestinian people. Time and again, people 
expressed their commitment to ensuring that Palestine will be free.

*Israel: A Colonial Carceral State *

Aware that Israel is the only country in the world that prosecutes 
children in military courts 
<http://www.dci-palestine.org/issues_military_detention>, our delegation 
observed the proceedings of three Israeli military tribunals against 
Palestinian youth. We witnessed a 16-year-old Palestinian boy tried as 
an adult and accused of running an Israeli over in a vehicle. The boy 
faced two life sentences in an Israeli adult prison, and was being tried 
with evidence presented in the form of a video reenactment, constructed 
from the prosecution’s theory of the act and with details likely coerced 
through torture, a routine practice of Israeli military prison 
administrators. More than 99 percent of all cases tried in the military 
courts end in conviction. <http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=440537>

Legalized since 1987 by the Israeli Supreme Court as “moderate physical 
pressure,” Israeli torture tactics can include lengthy interrogation 
sessions, beatings, the tying of prisoners in “stress positions,” sleep 
deprivation, and psychological abuse such as threats to harm or kill 
prisoners’ family members. Former prisoners with whom we met recounted 
mock execution, torture lasting up to three months, subsequent sexual 
abuse, medical neglect and solitary confinement

The case of child prisoners is particularly harrowing. Human rights 
lawyers with whom we spoke shared the findings of international reports 
on the treatment by Israeli courts of Palestinian children, compared to 
the treatment of Israeli children. Israel's racist double standard 
exempts Israeli children from prosecution as adults until the age of 18, 
while Palestinian children as young as 12 
<http://www.addameer.org/the_prisoners/children> are tried as adults. 
Often charged with stone throwing, Palestinian children are subjected to 
lengthy sentences in adult prisons. Legal aid organizations Addameer and 
Defense for Children International (DCI) informed us that children are 
often taken from their families in the middle of the night, then 
handcuffed and blindfolded during their transport to torture sites, 
where they are denied legal representation or access to their parents 
for months. A former political prisoner told us that his own experience 
of torture behind bars was amplified when he heard, in a nearby cell, 
the voice of a child crying out for his mother.

For Palestinians of any age, the price of resisting the colonial 
apartheid order is often death. Between October 2015 and March 2016, 
approximately 200 Palestinians, including 41 children, have been 
extra-judicially murdered 
<http://www.dci-palestine.org/forty_one_palestinian_children_killed_as_period_of_violence_enters_sixth_month> 
at the hands of Israeli military forces. We met Palestinian parents 
whose homes were demolished and who were levied heavy fines for their 
children’s alleged actions. In blatant violation of international law 
and human decency, the Israeli military has refused to release their 
children’s bodies, which they continue to hold in a state of 
suspension—literally frozen—for over 6 months.

A Palestinian adult we met in the old city of Hebron witnessed and 
video-recorded, in late March, the execution 
<https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2016/03/israel-suspected-extrajudicial-execution-of-palestinian-caught-on-video/>, 
by an Israeli military officer, of a wounded and incapacitated youth. 
This witness was subsequently harassed by settlers and investigated by 
the Israeli military 
<http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/04/btselem-cameraman-palestinian-hebron-idf-shooting-settlers.html> 
while we were still in Palestine, a chilling reminder of the repeated 
arrests in the United States of Ramsey Orta 
<http://www.democracynow.org/2016/1/12/why_is_ramsey_orta_man_who> after 
he recorded the 2014 strangulation of Eric Garner at the hands of the 
police in Staten Island, New York.

Our visit to Palestine made clear that incarceration is a central 
feature of the ongoing Zionist settler-colonial project. In meetings 
with former prisoners and legal aid organizations including Adalah, 
Addameer and the Arab Association for Human Rights, we learned that 
Palestinians face one of the highest per capita incarceration rate 
<https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2004/feb/15/palestinian-child-political-prisoners-detained-by-israel/>s 
in the world: one in five 
<http://www.addameer.org/advocacy/briefings_papers/general-briefing-palestinian-political-prisoners-israeli-prisons> 
Palestinians has been imprisoned at some point in his or her life, 
including 40 percent 
<http://www.addameer.org/advocacy/briefings_papers/general-briefing-palestinian-political-prisoners-israeli-prisons> 
of the Palestinian male population. Since 1967, Israel has imprisoned 
approximately 800,000 Palestinian political prisoners 
<http://www.addameer.org/advocacy/briefings_papers/general-briefing-palestinian-political-prisoners-israeli-prisons>.

As in the United States, incarceration imposes collective punishment on 
communities. The families of the incarcerated in Palestine are forced to 
travel long journeys of up to 15 hours to visit their loved ones. At the 
prisons, visitors are routinely subjected to humiliating, full-body 
searches and sexual harassment by Israeli prison guards, a humiliation 
that has led some women to discontinue their visits. Once inside, 
relatives are allowed only a 30- to 45-minute visit: no contact, 
separated from the prisoner by Plexiglas walls.

In the face of repression, Palestinian prisoners have successfully 
employed hunger strikes 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/hunger-strike> to improve prison 
conditions and win the release of prisoners, including those held under 
administrative detention–prisoners held without charges, trial, or 
conviction.

Inspired by the Palestinian people’s respect for their political 
prisoners and fallen martyrs—reflected in images on public walls, in 
moments of silence, in daily conversations—our delegation is even more 
committed to making known the existence of dozens of U.S. political 
prisoners. Many U.S. political prisoners were given draconian sentences 
for their political activism in the anti-imperialist struggles and 
liberation movements of racially oppressed groups during the 1960s and 
1970s. Dispensing with them as “criminals,” the U.S. government refuses 
to acknowledge the political nature of their incarceration.

Our delegation builds on the long history of solidarity between 
anti-colonial and anti-imperialist movements in the United States and 
Palestine, expressed most recently in 2013 when thousands of prisoners 
in Pelican Bay, Guantanamo and Palestine 
<https://www.facebook.com/events/155689014612698/>, all on hunger strike 
at the time, issued solidarity statements with one another. The presence 
and the histories of two former Black Panther Party members on our 
delegation served as a constant reminder of the years of solidarity 
between the Black liberation movement and Palestine.

*Colonial Violence and Indigenous Resistance*

Israel, which presents itself to the world as a nation of laws, views 
civil society organizers who bring attention to its crimes as a threat. 
We were reminded during our visit to the offices of DCI that one of the 
organization’s lead coordinators was shot and killed, 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/nora-barrows-friedman/human-rights-defender-among-three-palestinians-killed-live-fire-west> 
execution-style, by an Israeli military sniper, as he observed a 
Palestinian protest against the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza. We 
witnessed firsthand the escalating Israeli terror against the 
Palestinian people when we heard on the news—and discussed with the 
Boycott National Committee—the calls by Israeli Ministers for the 
“civic” assassination 
<http://mondoweiss.net/2016/04/palestinian-reflections-on-israels-hysterical-attack-on-bds/> 
of BDS leaders. This is an escalation of state-sanctioned terror that 
includes the 2014 assault on Gaza; the burning alive of Palestinian 
youth Mohammad Abu Khdair at the hands of settlers; the burning alive of 
the Dawabsheh family in Duma Village by settlers; and the 
intensification of detentions, land confiscation, displacement and 
deportations. These conditions have driven Palestinian youth to take 
matters into their own hands and engage in acts of resistance, which 
many call a third intifada. Reacting to this resistance, Israel has used 
the uprisings as pretext for intensifying violence against Palestinian 
youth.

During our visit, we heard the same message from a cross section of 
organized forces: that the 1993 Oslo Accords have 1) legitimized 
continued state violence and re-created a colonial structure—camouflaged 
as a model of Palestinian autonomy; and 2) weakened the Palestinian 
anti-colonial liberation movement. Twenty-three years after the failure 
of Oslo, social, cultural and grassroots organizations, as well as 
representatives of a wide array of Palestinian political parties, 
including those of the mass institutions of the Palestine Liberation 
Organization, emphasized the need to end political divisions in order to 
rebuild the movement to free Palestine.

While we focused primarily on the experiences of those held in official 
prisons, our visits to cities in lands taken by the Zionists in both 
1967 and 1948 made clear that—as in the Gaza Strip, where nearly two 
million people are currently held under siege—much of post-Nakba 
Palestine is tantamount to an open-air prison. In cities like Jerusalem 
(Al-Quds), Lydd and Hebron (Al-Khalil), Palestinians encounter 
checkpoints, omnipresent surveillance, with watchtowers on virtually 
every corner, a wall choking off the daily life of Palestinians, racial 
apartheid and vulnerability to extrajudicial execution on a daily basis. 
The old city of Al-Khalil is the epitome of an open-air prison. How else 
can one describe a situation in which children must walk through barbed 
wire-lined streets with soldiers training machine guns on them from 
watchtowers—or in which the Indigenous residents of that city have been 
forced to erect mesh screens over their marketplace to protect 
themselves from the trash, urine and feces that Zionist settlers throw 
at them from the windows of their stolen apartments above? We were 
equally mortified to see that a section of the Israeli apartheid wall 
has literally cut this historic Palestinian neighborhood in half. 
Consequently, family members in Al-Khalil are now unable to see one 
another without going through a military checkpoint. Severe 
travel restrictions and street closures have turned the formerly vibrant 
marketplace into a ghost town, as people are unable to travel to the 
market or even have access to their own homes.

*Poverty, Economy and Palestinian Workers**’**Rights *

Settler colonialism in Palestine aims at the destruction of Palestinian 
life through a complex colonial network that includes refugee camps, the 
siege and blockade of Gaza, imprisonment and exile, and the caging of 
communities on all sides by the “Israeli West Bank barrier”—more 
realistically, the apartheid wall 
<http://www.stopthewall.org/the-wall>—that snakes 280 miles through the 
occupied West Bank and confiscates Palestinian residential and 
agricultural lands in its path. This attempt at destroying the social 
and economic fabric of the Indigenous population is the modus operandi 
of a Zionist state whose goal is to maintain a demographic Jewish majority.

The exploitation of Palestinian labor is part and parcel of the ongoing 
colonization project. Palestinian trade unionists detailed this 
exploitation to our delegation historically and contemporarily. They 
explained that the Histadrut—the Israeli labor federation that enjoys a 
fraternal relationship with the AFL-CIO—has been an integral part of the 
Zionist movement and the colonization of Palestine even before the 
creation of the state of Israel. The Histadrut exploits Palestinian 
workers in Israel by deducting a portion of their salaries for benefits 
they never receive.

Palestinian labor leaders also shared the findings of a draft report on 
the horrifying conditions of Palestinian women workers, including those 
who are employed in Israeli settlements on the West Bank and are 
subjected to long work hours, reduced pay, and sexual harassment at 
checkpoints. None of the Palestinian workers employed by Israeli 
businesses enjoy the protection of the Israeli labor federation or 
Israeli labor laws. Palestinian trade unionists called on us to wage a 
campaign among U.S. trade unionists to divest U.S. workers’ pension 
funds from Israeli bonds.

Palestinian trade unionists also told us about the devastating 
socio-economic conditions that have been steadily worsening since the 
signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords. Oslo legislated and legitimized the 
increasing dependency of the Palestinian colonized economy on the 
Israeli colonizing power, and has threatened any potential for the 
emergence of an independent Palestinian economy. The continuing blockade 
of Gaza and the restrictions placed on Palestinian farmers and small 
industries have strangled the Palestinian economy and led to the 
degradation of living conditions, leading to alarming levels of poverty 
in the 1967 occupied Palestinian areas, as well as among Palestinians in 
the areas seized by Israel in 1948.

Palestinian labor organizers told us about the crisis in Palestinian 
refugee camps produced by cuts in the services of the United Nations 
Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Cuts in UNRWA 
services in education and health, combined with institutionalized 
discrimination in healthcare, education and employment, have created 
shocking disparities. Life expectancy for Palestinians is, on average, 
10 years lower than the Israeli rate; infant deaths are 18.8 compared to 
3.7 per 1000 births; and the death of Palestinian mothers due to 
complications of pregnancy or labor is 28 per 100,000 births compared to 
7 for Israelis. These conditions have led to widespread strikes by 
Palestinian employees who demand equitable pay scale and the restoration 
of health and education services.

Palestinian trade union leaders also expressed grave concerns over the 
diminishing conditions of public education in Palestinian Authority 
areas. They echoed the sentiments of Palestinian teachers, 
administrators and parents who protested the worsening work conditions 
for Palestinian teachers 
<http://mondoweiss.net/2016/03/pa-continues-crackdown-on-west-bank-teachers-strike-as-anger-with-anti-democratic-palestinian-leadership-spreads/> 
and insisted on joining local and national marches for a whole month, 
despite attempts by Palestinian security forces to suppress their rallies.

Trade union leaders also highlighted the apartheid conditions in Israel, 
where schools are segregated 
<http://www.adalah.org/uploads/oldfiles/newsletter/eng/sep05/comi2.pdf>. 
The ratio of spending on education in these schools is 1:9, and 
Palestinian students living in Israel are forced to learn a curriculum 
that denies their own history and exalts the misleading history of the 
colonizers.

We join hands with our comrades in the Palestinian labor movement and 
salute the struggle of striking teachers, labor organizers and workers 
demanding economic justice, independence and national self-determination 
from colonial structures. We further pledge to campaign in the ranks of 
U.S. labor to divest from Israeli bonds and sever ties between the 
AFL-CIO and the Histadrut.

*Dispossession and Struggle for Land and Return* **

A university professor with whom we met explained how the system of 
Zionist colonization is one of the most intensely territorialized 
systems of spatial control the world has seen. In 1948, Israel destroyed 
at least 531 Palestinian towns <http://zochrot.org/en/site/nakbaMap> and 
villages, and within five years, established 370 new Jewish settlement 
towns, 95% of which were built on seized Palestinian land. The state of 
Israel now controls 93% of the land captured in 1948.

Today, eight million Palestinian refugees are forbidden from returning 
to their homeland. Those in the West Bank are subject to the ubiquitous 
system of checkpoints that severely restrict their ability to travel to 
work, school, mosques and churches, and to hospitals for medical 
treatment. Under the Absentee Property Law, Palestinians can lose their 
rights as homeowners for any number of reasons, including renovating or 
expanding their homes to accommodate a growing family. The Israeli state 
rarely grants Palestinians permission to build or expand homes, forcing 
them into “illegal” construction of houses, which are then subject to 
demolition orders.

In the village of Ayn Hawd, near Haifa, an elder explained how Israel 
confiscated the homes of the Palestinians and turned the village into a 
park and an artists’ colony, replaced the mosque with a restaurant, and 
protected the settlement of Zionists living in stolen Palestinian homes. 
We saw how those settlers have repeatedly trashed and destroyed the old 
Palestinian cemetery. There, as elsewhere, we witnessed the central role 
of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in the ongoing destruction of Palestine.

The sight of bulldozers on top of a hill signaled the looming 
destruction of the village of Um El Heran in the Al-Naqab desert, a 
territory colonized in 1948. Um El Heran is one of 46 “unrecognized 
villages” that do not exist on Israeli official government maps and are 
therefore denied electricity, water, roads, schools and all essential 
services extended by the state to nearby “recognized” Israeli towns of 
Jewish settlers. Throughout Palestine, we observed water tanks and solar 
panels fastened to rooftops to compensate for Israeli restriction of 
water and electricity, while the homes of Jewish settlers enjoy full 
state-sponsored services including swimming pools.

*P**ublic Intellectuals and Anti-Colonial Cultures of Resistance*

Everywhere we went in Palestine we witnessed signs of a culture of 
resistance. Youth activists in the Naqab told us about their use of 
poetry to resist Zionist attempts to uproot them from their lands. In 
the 1948 urban areas of Yafa, Lydd, Haifa and Nazareth we heard about 
oral history projects to counter the systematic program of cultural and 
historical erasure deployed by Israel through the outright destruction 
of sites and signs of Palestinian life, their replacement with invented 
maps and road signs, and the elimination of the word “Palestinian” from 
school textbooks and curricula. We also heard from grassroots 
organizations and activists about campaigns to defy Israel’s ban on the 
commemoration of the Nakba, about projects, that bring Palestinian 
children to the sites of their families’ destroyed villages, and about 
others that use oral history to pass on the collective memories of a 
people who refuse to submit to a settler-colonial project aimed at 
negating their existence on their land.

We visited the Ibdaa Arts Center in the Dheisheh refugee camp and the 
Popular Arts Center in El Bireh and saw, painted on interior walls, 
murals that defied the Israeli occupation ban on resistance art on 
public walls. Palestinian cultural figures told us that Israel continues 
to shut down theater, dance and music performances that challenge its 
colonial rule. We learned that, in an attempt to end the wave of 
protests currently engulfing Palestine, the Israeli Prime Minister 
demanded that the Palestinian Authority prohibit taxi drivers from 
playing Palestinian music on their radios.

We participated in two conferences hosted by the Institute for Women’s 
Studies at Birzeit University 
<http://www.birzeit.edu/news/7th-annual-%E2%80%98struggles-freedom%E2%80%99-conference-puts-palestine-international-context> 
and the An-Najah National University 
<https://www.najah.edu/ar/community/community-news/2016/04/04/lnjh-tstdyf-wrsh-ml-b-nwn-hry-khlf-lqdbn-tjrb-tqly-wndly-mqrn-mn-flstyn-wlwlyt-lmthd-lmryky/>, 
both co-sponsored with the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas 
Studies at San Francisco State University <http://amed.sfsu.edu/>. We 
shared the platform with Palestinian academics who are engaged in the 
daily struggles of their people and who insisted on defining the academy 
as a site of struggle for the dignity of all Palestinians. We compared 
our respective analysis of the United States and Israel as 
settler-colonial regimes intent on destroying Indigenous life and the 
Third World movements that have arisen to challenge colonialism and 
imperialism.

Solidarity was forged as former political prisoners in Palestine and 
former US-held political prisoners in our delegation discussed parallel 
experiences. Palestinian audiences at both conferences were moved by the 
messages we brought with us in a collection of letters from currently 
incarcerated U.S. political prisoners—some of whom have already served 
40 years and more—to their Palestinian sisters and brothers. Our 
colleagues at Birzeit University’s Institute for Women’s Studies 
translated the letters into Arabic. The solidarity was palpable during 
the final plenary of Birzeit’s conference, when the phone rang and we 
heard the voice of U.S. political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal 
<http://www.bringmumiahome.com>. Mumia was calling from State 
Correctional Institution Mahanoy in Pennsylvania to express solidarity 
with and love for the people of Palestine.

We learned that Palestinian universities offer free tuition to former 
Palestinian prisoners and that every graduation ceremony honors 
Palestinian students, faculty and staff martyred or imprisoned by Israel 
during the academic year. In contrast, Israel has banned access to 
education for Palestinian prisoners, even denying some the possession of 
a pencil and paper.

Speaking alongside members of both campus communities who were 
imprisoned by the Israeli colonial state, and witnessing how Palestinian 
universities honor those who sacrificed their lives for their people 
heightened our commitment to insist that our own academic institutions 
resist the neoliberal university, reclaim the mission of public 
education, and restore the gains for which earlier generations of 
students—including the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; Black 
Student Unions; the Third World Liberation Front at San Francisco State 
University; Ocean Hill-Brownsville; the Open Admission Strike of 1969 at 
the City University of New York—fought. This struggle continues today on 
our campuses and community spaces. We also reject Israel’s and the 
Zionist movement’s attempts to employ McCarthyite tactics to intimidate, 
harass and silence advocates for justice in and outside Palestine, and 
activists and scholars who stand for justice on university campuses, 
public schools and in public life the world over.

*Conclusion*

We were asked repeatedly to bring these Palestinian stories of 
dispossession and steadfast resistance back to the United States. Much 
of what we saw in Palestine called up images of life in the United 
States. Like Israel, the United States is a settler colony—built on the 
genocide and denial of Indigenous peoples’ rights; the kidnapping and 
enslavement of Africans; the colonization of Mexico, Puerto Rico, the 
Philippines, Hawaii and Guam; the exclusion of Chinese people; the 
incarceration of Japanese people in concentration camps; and the rising 
vilification and criminalization of immigrants from Latin America and of 
Arabs, Muslims and Mediterranean and South and Central Asian people. 
Like Israel, the United States suppresses resistance using the cover of 
law. The United States continues to engage in imperialist wars and 
interventions in the Third World, while 2.3 million people are 
incarcerated in U.S. prisons, young Black, Latina/o, and Indigenous 
people are executed and targeted while educational institutions become 
increasingly privatized and corporatized. The 99% are getting more 
impoverished while the 1% is getting richer. Significantly, the United 
States funds Israel to the tune of $4 billion annually and supports the 
distorted ideology of Zionism.

We therefore feel an urgent sense of responsibility to pressure the 
United States to stop funding Israeli crimes against humanity. We 
express our support for the struggle for a free Palestine as a central 
struggle in the worldwide movement against U.S. imperialism. We are 
committed to employing a variety of tactics in solidarity with 
Palestine, including Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and we condemn 
Israeli and Zionist attacks against advocates for justice for/in 
Palestine in our communities and on our campuses. We connect prisoner 
and labor movements across the borders; and apply the spirit of /sumud/ 
to all our struggles for liberation within the United States.

  * Support Palestinian people’s just struggle for self-determination,
    return and sovereignty, and the struggle against settler colonialism
    in the United States, Israel and elsewhere
  * Release Palestinian and all political prisoners, including those in
    the United States
  * End all U.S. military and financial support of Israel
  * Support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel
  * Reject the new Israeli and Zionist McCarthyism that seeks to
    intimidate, harass and silence advocacy for justice in Palestine

In Joint Struggle,

  * *Rabab Abdulhadi*, author and professor, San Francisco State
    University*, California
  * *Diana Block*, author and activist, California Coalition for Women
    Prisoners*, San Francisco, California
  * *Susan Chen*, counselor faculty, member California Faculty
    Association - SFSU chapter Affirmative Action Rep, San Francisco
    State University*, California
  * *Dennis Childs*, author and professor, University of California*,
    San Diego
  * *Susie Day*, writer, Monthly Review Press*, New York City, New York
  * *Emory Douglas*, Revolutionary Artist and Minister of Culture, Black
    Panther Party, 1967-1982
  * *Johanna Fernández*, author and professor, City University of New
    York-Baruch College*; Organizer, Campaign to Bring Mumia Home
  * *Diane Fujino*, author and professor, University of California*,
    Santa Barbara
  * *Alborz Ghandehari*, member of BDS Caucus of UAW 2865, University of
    California Student-Workers Union*
  * *Anna Henry*, activist and member, California Coalition for Women
    Prisoners*, San Francisco
  * *Rachel Herzing*, independent scholar and co-founder, Critical
    Resistance*, Oakland, California
  * *Hank Jones*, activist, former US-Held political prisoner and
    member, Black Panther Party, Los Angeles, California
  * *manuel la fontaine*, former US-held prisoner and member, All of Us
    or None*, San Francisco, California
  * *Claude Marks*, Former US-held political prisoner, Freedom
    Archives*, San Francisco, California
  * *Nathaniel Moore*, archivist, Freedom Archives*, San Francisco,
    California
  * *Isaac Ontiveros*, member, Critical Resistance*, Oakland, California
  * *Michael Ritter*, counselor faculty; member CSU Academic Senate
    & CFA Board of Directors, San Francisco State University*, California
  * *Jaime Veve*, Co-Convener, Labor for Palestine*, New York City, New York
  * *Laura Whitehorn*, Former US-held political prisoner, New York City,
    New York

*All institutional and organizational affiliations are for 
identification purposes only

http://www.freedomarchives.org/Pal/Delegation.We.Stand.pdf

In Arabic: http://www.freedomarchives.org/Pal/Delegation.We.Stand.ARABIC.doc

In Spanish: 
http://www.freedomarchives.org/Pal/Delegation.We.Stand.SPANISH.docx 
<http://www.freedomarchives.org/Pal/Delegation.We.Stand.SPANISH.docx>

*samidoun <http://samidoun.net/?author=1>* | April 16, 2016 at 10:37 am 
| Categories: News <http://samidoun.net/?taxonomy=category&term=news>, 
Prisoners Day 
<http://samidoun.net/?taxonomy=category&term=prisoners-day>, Statements 
<http://samidoun.net/?taxonomy=category&term=statements> | URL: 
http://wp.me/p2cx3f-2U9





-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org


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