Thursday, January 15, 2009

At University of Michigan:

Hundreds Demonstrate for Gaza, "Boycott Israel" is demanded:

"Two campus events, two points of view",

by Nicole Aber

MICHIGAN DAILY (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)

January 15, 2009

On the Internet at:

As the temperature neared zero degrees on Wednesday night, about 200 people gathered on the steps of the Michigan Union to protest Israel’s recent invasion of Gaza.

The demonstration was organized by Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, a campus student group on campus that aims to promote human rights and self-determination for the Palestinian people, according to the group’s website.

Andrew Dalack, SAFE’S co-chair, said the group planned the protest in order to galvanize campus support for the Palestinian cause.

“There’s a sizable number of students on campus that demands an immediate cease fire, that supports an immediate end to U.S. military aid to Israel and that supports the full and immediate end to Israel’s current occupation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank,” Dalack said.

Students and Ann Arbor residents came out in droves to show support for SAFE’s cause. Many protestors were carrying signs including ones that read, “What has Zionism done for peace?” as a woman shouted in a mega-phone, “Boycott Israel now.”

In addition to holding up signs, students carried both Palestinian and Hamas flags.

Dalack said he was upset that protestors were carrying flags of political parties, like Hamas.

“I was disappointed by the ignorance some people displayed in their language, signage and behavior to onlookers as well,” Dalack said. “I hope that the inappropriate behavior by some community members does not reflect on the community as a whole, as they are supportive, rational and of high moral caliber.”

Members of Students for Social Equality were also at the demonstration to show support for the cause, despite minor disagreements with SAFE’s message.

“Students for Social Equality oppose the attack, but we also try to bring perspective of the bankruptcy of religious nationalism,” LSA senior Daniel Green, a member of Students for Social Equality, said. “We think that it’s very destructive — Hamas’s role in this. We’re here in support of the opposition of the attack and the occupation, but we also have a perspective which may not be the same as everyone here.”

While SAFE was busy making preparations for the protest, yesterday, members of the pro-Israel community took part in a “Blue Out” in order to show support for Israel.

The Union of Progressive Zionists, the American Movement for Israel and Israel Initiating Dialogue, Education and Advocacy, organized the Blue Out, in which they encouraged students to wear blue in support of Israel during this “difficult time,” said LSA junior Bria Gray, chair of the UPZ.

“What we’re promoting is that everyone wear blue in support of Israel,” Gray said. “We’re promoting education about what’s going on so that if someone’s noticing you’re wearing a blue shirt, hopefully you’ll be able to share something about how Israel is not this war-monger evil country, but a country that is trying to protect itself the only way it knows how.”

Gray said that while the SAFE demonstration was not the only reason they chose Wednesday for the Blue Out, it was definitely part of the motivation.

“I think partly we want to react soon because it broke out during the break,” she said. “We have to learn together to educate ourselves.”

Ben Kaminsky, chair of Israel IDEA, and Rachel Goldstein, chair of the American Movement for Israel said, however, that the Blue Out was not intentionally scheduled for the same day as the SAFE demonstration.

“We do not want to react against the feelings of other student organizations, but rather unite the pro-Israel community,” Goldstein said in an e-mail interview. “Everybody has a different perspective on the situation in Gaza, but we can join together on the idea that Israel has a right to defend itself in some way.”

LSA freshman Jennie Fine, who recently lived in Israel for a year, took part in the Blue Out after receiving an e-mail from AMI, in order to show her support for Israel.

“The West doesn’t understand what’s going on in the Middle East. They have no idea,” Fine said. “It’s a different world over there.”

LSA sophomore Craig Foldes said he wore blue yesterday as a way to advocate for Israel.

“Israel gets a bad reputation, but it needs to do whatever it can to ensure its survival,” Foldes said.

Several members of Israel IDEA, including Kaminsky, showed up at the demonstration.

Kaminsky said he wasn’t pleased with the behavior of some of the protesters.

“You have people waving Hamas flags. Hamas is a terrorist organization. It’s absolutely outrageous that these things can go on,” Kaminsky said

Despite the presence of opposition groups, LSA junior Kamblya Youseff who was at the event said she was happy with how the demonstration went.

“I just think it was amazing. It was very impressive and it showed a lot about what kind of support this cause can garner,” she said.

Youseff added that the demonstrators' willingness to brave the cold is indicative of their support for the cause.

“If that in itself doesn’t tell people that something’s going wrong in the world, then I don’t know what will.”


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"Stop U.S.-Israel Terror"; "End the Gaza Holocaust":

Protestors march in Boston, January 3, 2009.
Lower photo by Hamza Daoui


It is often said that protests don't accomplish much of anything. Despite their effective use all over the world for thousands of years, in today's world, protests as a means of social change seem to have lost their power. It's not necessarily a reflection of apathy on the youth of today rather, it's a sign of the times; it's simply more efficient to forward an e-mail, join a Facebook group, make a donation online. But is it more effective?

Over the past 10 days, as Israeli airstrikes have hammered Gaza into the ground, furious activists and citizens from around the globe have succeeded in organizing rallies and protests in solidarity with Gaza and against the actions of Israel. From Cape Town to Caracas, Beirut to Budapest, ordinary citizens have come out in droves to speak out against the unspeakable.

In my own city of Boston, groups such as the International Socialist Organization, the Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights, and the Somerville Divestment Project banded together to gain supporters for a rally on January 3. The turnout was surprisingly large - somewhere between three and four hundred individuals - and the march, which weaved down Boylston Street, through Chinatown, and back up to Copley Square, lasted for nearly two hours (read blogger Dennis Fox's account here).

The protest succeeded in drawing local attention to the cause, as protests are meant to do. Pedestrians stopped in their tracks, workers gave the peace sign through the windows of shops, and the police seemed almost relaxed as they watched the protestors shout slogans such as "Occupation is a crime, from Iraq to Palestine!" and "Hey hey, ho ho, aid to Israel's gotta go!" Television stations such as New England Cable News (NECN) later replayed scenes from the rally.

The protest was certainly effective, if only for the local attention it garnered. But would it have been so without the use of technology? In today's world, live and online activism go hand in hand. Without the use of Facebook or Twitter, I wouldn't have heard about the protests; without the Internet, I wouldn't have known much at all about the conflict. Mainstream media has proven itself to be utterly unreliable over the past 10 days, and in a spread-out city like Boston, it's difficult to discover what's what.

The protests of the past week have proven that the age of the protest for social change is not dead, but if we want to maximize effectiveness in 2009, it's necessary to learn the methods of the next generation. If we want to engage today's youth in activism, we must speak their language. This week has proven we can.


Hundreds Marched in Ann Arbor, Demanding Divestment from Apartheid Israel:

July 22, 2006, on the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus.

Hundreds Marched in Ann Arbor, Three Times in the Summer of 2006.

The Marchers Chanted for Divestment from Apartheid Israel, outside the University of Michigan President's Mansion--

July 29, 2006, on the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus.

The marchers also chanted in front of Ann Arbor City Hall, where the City Council meets, demanding divestment from Israel.

August 11, 2006, downtown Ann Arbor, in front of the Federal Building.

See the front-page "Ann Arbor News" coverage:
"Marchers protest war: "Multiple speakers at rally highly critical of Israel"

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Full article on the Web at:

"About 230 people marched through downtown Ann Arbor early Friday evening to call for a ceasefire in the Middle East just as diplomats appeared to hammer out an agreement after weeks of discussions.

"Rally emcee Nazih Hassan, former president of the Muslim Community Association (MCA) of Ann Arbor and Vicinity - the lead organizer of the event - said the rally held in front of the Federal Building on Liberty Street was set on federal property to protest misguided policies of the Bush Administration that contribute to the current fighting in Lebanon and lingering war in Iraq.

"Measured remarks came from leaders of event co-sponsors Michigan Peaceworks and the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, however multiple speakers criticized the Jewish state for occupying land they say belongs to Arabs.

"Others also made parallels to conflicts with the Palestinians and the U.S.'s presence in Iraq.

" 'This is a colonial war and it's been in the U.S./Israel designs for decades,' said Ann Arbor resident Nadine Naber, who also openly called for a boycott of Israel and said that true peace hinges on ending occupation.

"Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations for Michigan (CAIR), also said the root cause of the conflict was Israeli occupation of Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian territory, not Islamic fundamentalist terrorists as the Bush Administration would prefer people to believe. He also told the cheering crowd that the interests of Israel are not the same as and should never supersede America's.

"Michigan Peaceworks, the Ann Arbor-based nonprofit organization that conducted its own peace vigil on downtown streets last month, issued a press release at Friday's event that called for an unconditional ceasefire and acknowledged suffering on both sides of the conflict..."