Occupy Oakland’s landslide BDS endorsement

Video streaming by Ustream

U Stream of BDS proposal at Occupy Oakland, starts at 13:20.
(Video: Spencer Mills/OakFoSho)

Last Wednesday at the amphitheatre in front of Oakland’s city hall, occupiers endorsed Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel in a 135-to-one vote. Oakland’s occupiers have recently experienced chemical dispersants, and a mass arrest, which took place over the weekend. Among those arrested was Noura Khouri, the Palestinian organizer who initiated the BDS proposal.

The general assembly (GA) was electric; Wednesday was the first time those arrested were present for an occupy meeting. Despite the several distractions, including barking dogs and a New York Times reporter snapping photographs, occupiers listened attentively as Khouri and two others discussed the “intimate relationship,” between local law enforcement and the Israeli military. “We are seeing the militarization of our local police forces,” Khouri said, continuing “they are using the same tactics, weapons and laws.”

Khouri, along with co-presenters Basima Sisemore and Deppen Webber, also touched on the use of chemical dispersants by the Oakland Police Department (OPD) and the Israeli military. “The same tear gas that is being used on the streets here against you all is being used in Palestine,” said Sisemore. And, in fact, a portion of the occupiers at GA had experienced tear gas during the weekend’s “move-in day” actions, a failed attempt to occupy a vacant building. Throughout the march the OPD fired tear gas, rubber-coated bullets, flash-booms, and smoke grenades, on protesters, including children and elderly. One producer of these “non-lethal” weapons is Defense Technology, which is also used by the Israeli military.

The presenters then read the proposal text, and a letter of solidarity with the occupy movement from the BDS Nation Committee (BNC):

Our aspirations overlap; our struggles converge. Our oppressors, whether greedy corporations or military occupations, are united in profiting from wars, pillage, environmental destruction, repression and impoverishment. We must unite in our common quest for freedoms, equal rihts, social and economic justice, environmental sanity, and world peace.

However, occupiers did not need much convincing on why BDS should be endorsed. During comments, an occupier named Alessandro said, “I am fully in support of this proposal,” continuing, “U.S. imperialism is the biggest oppression in the entire world and Israel is their number one client.” This was echoed by another who received an ovation for stating “I am indebted to Rachel Corrie for giving me the courage to stand in solidarity with oppressed people.” At this time Webber added “Occupy Oakland has been in solidarity with Egypt,” a reference to a number of occupy-sponsored Egypt events. And, when occupiers were first “kettled,” or surrounded, by police during the weekend’s arrest, they expressed solidarity with the Arab Spring by chanting “Egypt and Oakland are one fist!” Jumping off of the connections vocalized by occupiers, Webber continued, “I don’t think it’s a stretch to extend our solidarity across the Rafah border.”

At that, the assembly laughed, and shortly after the vote was counted.  Hugs and smiles were shared, and the group moved on to the next agenda item.

Khouri hopes the occupy movement will continue to press for more material BDS gains.

We hope this is the first step to building support and awareness about these critical issues, and that this proposal will be followed by similar proposals in other GA’s. The process is simple and I would like to encourage those you involved in occupy movements throughout the country, to do the same.

Oakland is the first occupy movement general assembly to endorse BDS against Israel, and by extension, the first to formally endorse the Palestinian cause. 

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.
Posted in Activism, BDS, Egypt, Israel/Palestine, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics | Tagged

{ 10 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Kathleen says:

    Watched and listened. Clear ,concise, passionate

    Damn this is exciting. BDS is taking off!

    • seafoid says:

      It’s about justice everywhere

      Zionism is about injustice .

      Our aspirations overlap; our struggles converge. Our oppressors, whether greedy corporations or military occupations, are united in profiting from wars, pillage, environmental destruction, repression and impoverishment. We must unite in our common quest for freedoms, equal rihts, social and economic justice, environmental sanity, and world peace.

  2. Thanks for the report, Allison!

    “in front of Oakland’s city hall, occupiers endorsed Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel in a 135-to-one vote. Oakland’s occupiers have recently experienced chemical dispersants, and a mass arrest, which took place over the weekend.”

    Occupy protesters have first-hand experience, they know that we are all Palestinians now.

  3. Kathleen says:

    someone at the Penn BDS tweets linked to this
    Occupy Oakland chapter votes to support BDS By JTA 02/03/2012 10:27 The Oakland, Calif., chapter of the Occupy movement overwhelmingly endorsed a proposal in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

    According to Twitter accounts by pro-Palestinian activists pushing the proposal, the statement won nearly unanimous backing in a vote Wednesday following a brief discussion. A lengthy statement on the Occupy Oakland website attacked US aid to Israel and suggested that Israel had “prodded” the United States into the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    The Oakland branch of the Occupy movement, which focuses on what it sees as economic discrepancies in the United States, has become increasingly visible for its refusal to repudiate violent action and clashes with the police. Last month, members of the movement broke into the Oakland City Hall and set fire to public property, including an American flag. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the branch’s actions have caused a schism within the movement.

  4. dimadok says:

    And it is very important, why exactly?

  5. RE: “…occupiers listened attentively as Khouri and two others discussed the ‘intimate relationship,’ between local law enforcement and the Israeli
    military.” ~ Deger

    FOR INSTANCE, SEE: Israel trip an eye-opening experience for Jefferson chief, By Adina Solomon, onlineathens.com, 07/18/11

    This summer, Jefferson Police Chief Joe Wirthman went on a two-week trip 6,000 miles away, traveling across Israel with a delegation of state law enforcement officers as part of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange.
    “It was an awesome trip,” he said. “A trip of a lifetime.”
    GILEE, which partners with Georgia State University, sends a different group of Georgia officers every summer to work with Israeli law enforcement and border control.
    Commerce Police Chief John Gaissert and University of Georgia Police Chief Jimmy Williamson also have gone in past years.

    The object of the program is to learn how Israeli police deal with terrorism every day…
    …After his trip, Wirthman is trying to think one step ahead with the Jefferson Police Department, preparing for the type of threatening situations Israel faces 24 hours a day, he said.
    “Hopefully it’ll never happen, but in this world, ‘never’ isn’t a word,” Wirthman said. “We’re not invincible here.”
    He’s also witnessed how people live their daily lives with the constant menace of terrorism, he said.
    Wirthman met one man who sends each of his children on a different bus to school. In case one of the buses is bombed, only one of his three children will be harmed.
    “I don’t know if I could raise my family under those conditions,” said Wirthman, who has three kids of his own.
    And nobody in Israel grumbles about it, he said. Instead, they have a strong national pride many Americans had only after 9/11, he said…”

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to onlineathens.com

    • P.S. ALSO SEE: Sheriff Ortiz goes to Israel, by Eva Ruth Moravec, mysanantonio.com, 07/07/11

      (excerpts)…For one week last month, Bexar County Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz swapped his cowboy hat for a yarmulke as he visited Israel on an organized trip with other law enforcement leaders.
      “I’ve always had an interest in Israel,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “It was a great conference.”
      Ortiz joined 16 other sheriffs, police chiefs and organization heads, including Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland, on a week-long trip, courtesy of the Jewish Institute for National Security’s Law Enforcement Exchange Program…
      …Ortiz said he was impressed by Israel Defense Force soldiers, who he said are trained as soldiers and as police officers.
      “If we ever deploy troops along the Texas border, they should have training in being a soldier and in law enforcement,” he said…
      …The junket was Ortiz’s second organized trip to Israel: last year, Bexar County footed the bill to send him to an international conference on homeland security, he said…

      SOURCE – link to blog.mysanantonio.com

  6. yourstruly says:

    …and so it was that the endorsement of bds by occupy oakland was taken up immediately throughout the worldwide occupy movement. it wasn’t long afterwards that the settler entity (not its people) collapsed, so intense was the pressure put on it by bds. declarations by the entity’s leaders that israelis would fight to the bitter end proved to be hollow. while many jewish israelis with dual citizenship went abroad, most agreed to stay, once they realized there’d be liberty and justice for all, equality and separation of religion and state. indeed, a consensus was building that the universal dream of peace on earth and goodwill to all living beings was within reach.

  7. MRW says:

    Allison, this is a good report that dovetails with what Jeff Halper said in Feb 2010 in Seattle about how the I/P issue is affecting domestic politics and law enforcement.