Podcast Ep 42: On the front lines of action for Palestine

On episode 42, we speak with several human rights defenders who have been on the front lines of direct action to stop Israel’s crimes against Palestinians.

They are just a sample of countless protestors who have taken action in support of Palestinian rights, especially after Israel’s May attacks on Gaza, which killed some 245 Palestinians in the coastal enclave, including dozens of children.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, activists and longshore workers successfully prevented an Israeli-owned cargo vessel from docking and unloading at the Port of Oakland in early June.

The action was part of an international wave of protests – under the banner of #BlockTheBoat – organized by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC).

We speak to Wassim Hage of AROC and Aisha Mansour of the grassroots community group Falastiniyat in Seattle, Washington, which supported a protest at the port in that city.

11 participants were arrested at the Seattle action, Mansour told The Electronic Intifada.

Block the Boat protests were held in British Columbia, Canada, as well.

In Prince Rupert, members of the International Longshore Workers Union were punished with unpaid suspension by Dubai Ports World, which operates a terminal at the port.

Dubai Ports World is owned by the Dubai government.

But the suspension was reportedly rolled back, in a victory for the workers.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, members of the US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), along with local anti-racist groups, held a sit-in protest at the offices of Representative Jan Schakowsky on 10 June.

The action demanded that the member of congress co-sponsor HR 2590, Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act, a bill written and introduced by Minnesota Representative Betty McCollum.

USPCN says that 25 activists “gathered in Schakowsky’s office and insisted that she sign on to the bill, which would place conditions on US aid to Israel so that it could not be used to imprison children, demolish Palestinian homes, or annex Palestinian land.”

USPCN staged another protest at Schakowsky’s office on 8 July.

Protesters hold a sign.

Human rights defenders demand that Illinois Representative Jan Schakowsky support a bill that prevents US from funding Israeli abuse of Palestinian children. (USPCN)

And in the UK, members of Palestine Action once again scaled the roof of a factory owned by Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems in Leicester, forcing the factory to close for several days.

We feature two interviews of Palestine Action members, Richard Barnard and Ferhat Ulusu who were involved in the factory occupation, conducted in late May by The Electronic Intifada’s contributor Mohamed Elmaazi.

Articles we discussed

Video production by Tamara Nassar

Theme music by Sharif Zakout

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I wonder if activists in cities friendly to Palestinians - like Oakland or Dearborn? - could convince city councils or even a state govt. to draft documents for businesses/individuals to sign in order to do business with those cities/states requiring them "to boycott" Israel or to refrain from purchasing goods from the occupied territories? I realize this is counter to free speech and should be struck down by the courts, but seems appropriate w/ so many states doing the opposite and requiring people to not boycott Israel and providing all their justifications for doing so. The whole thing is crazy where governments can draft ideological frameworks people/business must adhere to in order to do business w/ those states... seems un-American. Why can't cities that support Palestine do the opposite? Seems like it might draw a lot more attention to the issue in the larger battle and get people to debate it. Could go a step further and require attorneys, business license applicants etc. to sign oaths they will boycott Israel in order to be granted those licenses. But the debate is always portrayed from the you can't boycott Israel side - so why not do the opposite?

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Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).