Anti-Racist Action Holds "Free Palestine" Rally on Campus of Wayne State
by Anti Racist Action Detroit
Sunday, Apr. 08, 2007 at 11:42 AM
The campus and community-based group Anti-Racist Action (ARA) held a rally on Thursday, March 29th, in commemoration of Land Day in Palestine. The rally was small, but very energetic. We chanted "Free Palestine" and held up posters showing our solidarity with Palestinians. ARA members spoke about the significance of Land Day when Palestinians rose up against Israeli confiscation of their land, and the continuation of the Palestinian struggle today, 31 years later. We also spoke about the attacks that ARA members have encountered from Zionists on and off campus, since the beginning of our campaign, exposing the racist anti-Arab overtones that these attacks contain.
The rally has since brought about a lot of media attention. While some has been solicited by ARA itself, much has been brought about as a result of attempts by members of Students for Israel (SFI), a Zionist group on campus, to depict our Palestine Solidarity rally as anti-Semitic. These attempts by Zionists to present us as Nazi sympathizers have backfired, and only resulted in more positive publicity for ARA's Palestine Solidarity work.
Fox News Saga
The following are links to Fox 2 News Detroit’s coverage of our rally. The first link shows an interview with Ari Drissman of Students for Israel. This interview was biased and one-sided. It focused on a poster that read, "Divest From Israel," where the "S" was replaced with a swastika. This sign was not held by an ARA member but by a Jewish community member who supported our campaign. Drissman missed the point that this community activist was trying to make, which is a comparison between the Israeli oppression of Palestinians and the Nazi oppression of Jews in WWII. This is a flawed and incorrect political analysis, but not anti-Semitism. However, Drissman focused on this poster as a sign of anti-Semitism, as if it were a sign of ARA's attempt to intimidate Jewish students on campus with Nazi imagery.
The second link is an interview conducted by Fox News with ARA members. ARA contacted Fox News immediately and demanded an interview to correct the biased and anti-Semitic image of ARA that Drissman had painted. We believe that we turned a potential negative into a major positive in this instance, and as a result raised the profile of Palestine solidarity work, at least in the metro Detroit area. Please see the links below.
Interview with Ari Drissman of Students From Israel:
Interview with ARA members:
ARA Rally Available on You Tube!
Another member of Students of Israel filmed our rally and posted it on the online website, YouTube. This person thought that showing our rally online was going to expose us as rampant anti-Semites. However, posters that were caught on film, such as "Jews and Arabs Side by Side as Equals," "Anti-Zionism is not Anti-Semitism," and "Down with Anti-Semitism!" as well as the chant that appeared as clear as day in the rally, “Judaism Yes! Zionism No! This racist state has got to go!” which the speaker said was specifically intended as a show of solidarity with anti-Zionist Jews in the crowd, clearly revealed that ARA was for anti-racism and democracy in Palestine.
ARA would like to thank this SFI member for filming our rally and providing more publicity for our campaign. Again, attempts to sabotage Palestine Solidarity work fails. Below are the links to our rally:
Your browser may not support display of this image.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1BlPhbW5tw
In addition to this coverage, supporters of Students for Israel recently submitted the footage of the rally available on YouTube to the reactionary and racist blog, Little Green Footballs (LGF), where it appeared under the heading, “Hatefest at Wayne State.” LGF was recognized as the “Best Israel Advocacy Blog” by the Jerusalem Post in 2005 during its “Jewish and Israel Blog Awards.”
In light of this, it is no surprise that such condemnation appears on LGF. It is part of a broader attack on Palestine solidarity activists. Similar attacks at Wayne State have escalated into attacks on Muslim and Arab students as well. On the South End website, supporters of SFI began by threatening to get ARA members fired.
At the time of this writing, they have sent three emails to our member’s employer, including the LGF link, with descriptions such as, “Your Jew-hating employee is now famous.” In addition, supporters have threatened to picket outside our member’s job and even to have ARA members deported, although all of them are citizens.
More recently, an anonymous person posting under the name “Anti-Terrorist Action” called Arabs “barbarians” and claimed that they constitute a 5th column in the US engaged in “subterfuge and espionage.” This poster continued: “Keep attending class and working hand-in-hand with "Mahmoud" and "Ahmed". The MOMENT these 5th Century throwbacks get the word from their mullahs, they'll cut your throat without a second thought.” The poster concluded: “Deal with them in the only manner they understand: Kill them outright! More Patton, less patent leather...”
The administration has stood idly by as these attacks continue, but ARA will not remain silent in the face of such threats. We continue to organize, and will defend ourselves when necessary.
The LGF link is here:
The Way Forward for Palestine Solidarity
We do not know our own strength, and no one dares to tell us. This is especially true in the climate of fear that surrounds any form of political activism today. The expansion of the state's apparatus in recent years through the legalization of intrusive surveillance measures on the pretext of preventing terrorism have silenced many. The increased onslaught against Arabs and Muslims in our communities and increased anti-immigrant sentiments breed a seething resentment within many of us.
Even in this climate, ARA continues to organize. We continue to speak out against Israeli apartheid, against the racial profiling of Arabs and Muslims in the US today. We expose the empty rhetoric of Zionists and white supremacists. We continue to gather at the square to rally, to speak, and to build communities that resist. Because we do not rely on petitioning the elites to serve out justice, we earn our own sense of dignity and empowerment through our own actions.
Anti-Racist Action in Detroit formed in Summer 2005 and immediately began anti-fascist and labor-related activism. We were in Toledo in October 2005 when the National Socialist Movement attempted to March, and later attended their rally on the steps of the capital building in Lansing, Michigan. In response to increasing attacks on Muslim folks as they attempted to worship in the metro Detroit area during the Winter of 2005 and 2006, ARA began a campaign of mosque defense to provide non-sectarian defense to our Muslim brothers and sisters in Hamtramck and Detroit. That campaign continued for several months, and inspired similar campaigns by the people of Hamtramck themselves.
In the summer of 2006, as our mosque defense campaign was winding down and the war in Lebanon began, ARA decided to launch a divestment campaign on the campus of Wayne State University. Wayne State has a long tradition of Palestine Solidarity work, beginning with the editorials in solidarity with the Palestinian movement written by John Watson and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers.
This was followed by a campaign in 2001-2002 waged by the Student group Students’ Movement for Justice. SMJ successfully pushed a divestment resolution through the Wayne State student council, making it the first student council in the nation to approve a measure of that kind. We hoped to build on this proud tradition with our own campaign.
Since Fall 2006, we have waged our struggle. We have experienced many successes, and they have been won against all odds and while overcoming many obstacles. We extend a hand today to like-minded people interested in supporting our struggle.
Please send your expressions of solidarity and support to firstname.lastname@example.org. In this time of crisis, we need to hear your voices.
For information on our campaign, browse or search the South End website for “Anti-Racist Action” here: http://www.thesouthend.typepad.com. The South End is the student newspaper of Wayne State University. Look for further coverage of our campaign in the Arab American News next week here: http://www.arabamericannews.com/ and also in Critical Moment at the beginning of May, available here: http://criticalmoment.org/
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