Wide array of groups congratulate UC Santa Cruz for hosting Angela Davis on ‘Ferguson to Palestine’

Activism
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Two weeks ago Angela Davis gave a heavily-attended speech on “Racism, Militarism, Poverty: From Ferguson to Palestine” at an annual Martin Luther King Jr event at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Some pro-Israel Jewish students protested the speech, and the school’s chancellor defended the invitation. This letter of congratulations was posted on the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network website.

The undersigned organizations write in support of UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal for his office’s selection and sponsorship of the Black feminist theorist and activist Angela Davis, a luminary of our movements and our region, who delivered a speech on “Racism, Militarism, Poverty: From Ferguson to Palestine” at UCSC’s 31st annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Convocation. The event was attended by 1,000 people with 500 more spilling outside, and closed with a standing ovation. This gathering’s great appeal is indicative of the growing power of movements resisting state violence – from communities challenging prisons and policing to those fighting imperialism and global repression.

In particular, we congratulate the chancellor for not bowing to the pressure of the Amcha Initiative – an organization that exists to attack and attempt to silence professors, students and others who dare speak out in support of the Palestinian cause. Amcha uses unscrupulous and relentless tactics to advance its racist program: attacking professors for establishing academic relationships with Palestinian institutions and accusing Palestinian student activists of being tied to “terrorist” organizations. Amcha has a long history of harassing student activists at UCSC in particular, and its 2011 Title VI complaint alleging anti-Semitism at UCSC (which was declared unfounded by the Department of Education) had a chilling effect on student and faculty speech.

We write specifically in support of the movements and individuals, like Angela Davis, who are exposing the role of the U.S. government and its partnership with Israeli state agencies and corporations to police. This partnership has expanded repressive policing, which criminalizes Black, Brown, immigrant, poor, queer and transgender communities. The U.S. wields the world’s largest and most powerful military, which it employs to gain access to resources and geopolitical influence, targeting Third World people. It trains police and militias around the world in order to monitor and repress populations and movements, and funds and supports the state of Israel to do the same. Israel has developed its military and surveillance infrastructure through its repression of Palestinians and the colonization of their land; in turn, Israel markets its products and shares its repressive tactics and technologies with the United States, Europe, and regimes across the Third World/Global South, bolstering its militarized economy and geopolitical stature.

The United States and Israel work together on targeting communities of color/Third World people in order to maintain U.S. economic and political power globally and to support Israel’s occupation and colonization of Palestine. In one example of this U.S./Israeli partnership, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) – an organization promoting support for and collaboration with the Israeli state in numerous sectors across the U.S. – and the U.S.-based Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) have facilitated Israeli military training of more than 14,000 U.S. law enforcement officials. The “counterterrorism” and “population control” techniques U.S. police departments learn are used to target communities and repress popular protest. These partnerships build up Israel’s capacity for the repression of Palestinians as well as its military and surveillance industries. Those trained by Israel include the former St. Louis County Police Department chief (whose jurisdiction includes Ferguson), the New York and Oakland Police Departments. In fact, ADL defended the St. Louis police in their murder of Michael Brown and the NYPD in their murder of Eric Garner.

The ADL/JINSA Law enforcement training in a time of alarmingly repressive and racist police forces is one of many examples that show the crucial necessity for exposing the links between state-sponsored violence against Black people here in the United States, and the repression of Palestinians by Israeli state forces, as Angela Davis so eloquently did in her speech. We find it necessary to highlight the increasingly hostile role of ADL, which also contributes to the chilling effect on Palestinian organizing and Palestine solidarity activism on campus by labeling speech criticizing the state of Israel as “anti-Semitism.” At UCSC, ADL was involved in attempting to defeat the democratic student government resolution supporting divestment from multinational corporations profiting off of the occupation of Palestine; in a maneuver designed to confuse students, ADL published reports grouping together actual anti-Semitic incidents on campus with political activities by Students for Justice in Palestine and other groups that do not engage in anti-Jewish acts. By falsely accusing student-led Palestine solidarity movements of being “anti-Semitic,” groups like ADL lie in order to gain institutional and popular support and power.

Therefore, as organizations working across communities to build up grassroots movements against racism, policing and repression and for justice, civil and human rights, we support the critical leadership of Angela Davis and others who are making these connections and reminding us that attacks on and repression of any people and movement enables attacks on and repression of others. Indeed, as James Baldwin once wrote to political prisoner Davis more than three decades ago, “we must fight for your life as though it were our own … for if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.” We are reminded of the centrality of Black struggle to all of our movements that envision a transformed world in which we can live without fear, but with dignity, well-being, and a sense of justice fulfilled.

Signed

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network

Arab Resource and Organizing Center

Haiti Action Committee

Palestinian Youth Movement

Bayan USA

Gabriela USA

American Muslims for Palestine

Anakbayan

Sin Barras

Xicano Moratorium

Eastside Arts Alliance

California Coalition of Women Prisoners

Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project

Hella Organized Bay Area Koreans (HOBAK)

Filipino/Filipina Studies Collective

Arab and Muslims Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative, SF State University

Freedom Archives

Middle East Children’s Alliance

NLG Police and Prison Committee

NLG Free Palestine Committee

Students for Justice in Palestine – UC Berkeley

US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

Art Forces Jewish Voice for Peace

Global Women’s Strike

Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike

Payday Men’s Network

NLG Los Angeles Chapter

ANSWER Coalition – SF

Women in Black

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9 Responses

  1. just
    February 16, 2015, 1:34 pm

    Superlative~ I have goosebumps! That letter is perfect in every way.

    Congratulations, indeed.

    Thank you to UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal , the great Angela Davis, and the 1500+ attendees.

  2. Pixel
    February 16, 2015, 5:56 pm

    Outside the US? Unfamilar with Angela Davis?
    Fascinating woman, fascinating history.
    Google her.

    —–
    October 14, 1970
    “F.B.I. Seizes Angela Davis in Motel Here”
    By LINDA CHARLTON
    http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/08/home/davis-fbi.html

    November 19, 1970
    “An Open Letter to My Sister, Miss Angela Davis”
    By JAMES BALDWIN

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1971/jan/07/an-open-letter-to-my-sister-miss-angela-davis/

  3. gamal
    February 16, 2015, 6:48 pm

    incidentally one of the signatory organizations Anakbyan, i think it was the successor to the resoundingly named Kabataang Makabayan, a revolutionary youth movement of the Philippines, has covered an item you might find interesting in light of the letter above.

    Professor Angela Davis looks well, she seems timeless.

    “US used Filipinos as cannon fodder; Aquino a puppet — Anakbayan
    On February 16, 2015

    The United States (US) should be held accountable for the bloody Mamasapano offensive. It has now been revealed that they sacrificed the lives of Filipinos in the altar of their “war on terror.” More than 70 Filipinos, 44 SAF, 18 Moro fighters and at least 7 civilians died in an operation funded, masterminded and directed by the US and implemented no less than President Aquino.

    This reveals Aquino as an obedient US puppet and a traitor. The US instructed the president to direct a secret mission, keep the mission secret from other government agencies and pursue the mission at all costs, even at the cost of the lives of civilians, Moro fighters and its own police force. Aquino zealously implemented the US orders and used the SAF as cannon-fodder for the operation.

    This likewise reveals the extent of US intervention in the country. The US has been known to launch secret “anti-terror” assassinations and abductions, violating national sovereignty and laws around the globe. In 2012, the US already bombed civilian communities in Sulu in the quest to get Marwan. They have been operating in a secret headquarters in Zamboanga and have implemented several Oplans in the country with the complicity of the president and the local police force.

    The US officials involved in the bloody offensive should be held accountable. Reports that FBI director James Comey was directly involved in hatching the plan, while Gen. Joseph Votel of the US Special Operations Command took part in its execution should be looked into. They and other US officials in the country should be called to investigations and should be held liable for the incident.

    These revelations bolster the call to end US-PH military agreements and exercises. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and the Visiting Forces Agreement should be junked and all US military operations in PH should be ended immediately.

    We are calling on youth groups nationwide and all patriotic Filipinos to rise in protest and fight for justice, national sovereignty and genuine change. Let us go to EDSA on February 25 and hold a nationwide walk-out protest on February 27. — Anakbayan

    http://www.anakbayan.org/us-used-filipinos-as-cannon-fodder-aquino-a-puppet/

  4. Pixel
    February 16, 2015, 6:59 pm

    Here’s the talk. She starts speaking at 41:00.
    Racism, Militarism, Poverty: From Ferguson to Palestine


    • johneill
      February 17, 2015, 4:44 am

      Thank you for the link! It’s great to see American communities realize the history that ties all humanity together. Never again.

  5. jayn0t
    February 16, 2015, 9:42 pm

    It often happens that Zionists attack moderate and ineffective critics of Israel using excessive language. The effect is to make them look like better critics than they are.

    Davis’s equation of Ferguson and Palestine is ridiculous. As long as the US Palestine solidarity movement is dominated by the discredited politics of Stalinist cliché-mongers, it will fail.

  6. hophmi
    February 17, 2015, 5:17 am

    Ah yes. A violent Communist who supported East Germany and the Soviet Union. There’s a star to hitch your wagon to. Only in academia.

    • jayn0t
      February 17, 2015, 10:03 am

      Not quite. The only “violence” she ever appeared to be involved in had something to do with opposing police persecution of black activists like George Jackson. She did, however, support the Soviet Union.

      Linking Palestine to Ferguson is a tactical error. Think about the baseball fans who held up signs supporting the cop who killed Michael Brown. They have every interest in opposing US support for Israel. Angela Davis is not the person to convince them.

      • Mooser
        February 17, 2015, 12:01 pm

        “Think about the baseball fans who held up signs supporting the cop who killed Michael Brown. They have every interest in opposing US support for Israel.”

        And I thought “JeffyB” was funny! Yes, sir, “Jaynot” that is the cohort from which all the principled anti-Zionists will emerge! Their ideals mesh oh-so-perfectly with anti-Zionism, or merely opposition to Israel’s occupation.

        But wait let me see if I can work this out. Is the United States like the cop that shot Micheal Brown, and of course, Israel, and the Zionists, are Micheal Brown? Sure, that might work!

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