New York City activists repeatedly interrupted a City Council Contracts Committee hearing on an anti-BDS, anti-Palestinian resolution on Thursday, 8 September, delaying the hearing by over an hour with repeated calls of “Zionism is Racism!” and “Free Palestine!”
Part of a series of resolutions and bills being promulgated by the Israeli state and Zionist organizations across the United States in order to suppress the growing movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel in support of Palestinian rights, the New York City resolution, if passed, would not carry the force of law or create criminal penalties. However, it indicates a desire on the part of City Council to shut down and suppress Palestinian and Palestine solidarity activism in New York City, especially amid attempts to defund CUNY schools and suppress Students for Justice in Palestine at CUNY chapters, NYU and other universities in the city. Palestinian, Arab and Muslim communities in the city have also been hit hard by NYPD spying and surveillance targeting oppressed communities and communities of color.
Video by Lumumba Bandele:
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Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network joined the NY 4 Palestine Coalition, NYC Students for Justice in Palestine, International Action Center, Al-Awda NY, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Labor for Palestine, American Muslims for Palestine and other organizations to repeatedly disrupt the hearing with demands for justice and expose the racist nature of the resolution and of the Zionist project itself. The disruption had a militant, anti-Zionist tone, and brought the hearing to a standstill for an hour.
Video by Lumumba Bandele:
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The hearing was preceded by a press conference, separate from the disruption action, called for by the Freedom to Boycott Coalition, a large coalition in opposition to anti-BDS legislation in New York State, in which a number of groups and organizers spoke about the importance of rejecting the resolution and upholding free speech on Palestine. Inside the hearing, Assemblyman Charles Barron spoke against the resolution at the beginning, giving a powerful refutation of the resolution and support for Palestinian rights, before a series of anti-Palestinian speakers from the Lawfare Project, Israeli Consulate and other organizations supported the resolution. As noted by NYC Students for Justice in Palestine, “These speakers relied on transparent colonial and racist rhetoric, drawing out Islamophobic notions of Muslims and Arabs as savages, diametrically opposed to the civilized, modernized state of israel. We do not normalize with oppressors and their representatives. We do not dialogue with oppressors and their representatives. We will combat Zionism without compromise on all its fronts until victory and liberation for the Palestinian people.”
Activists held up Palestinian flags and signs declaring, “Free Palestine! Free Speech!” as they were removed from the city council chambers by sergeants-at-arms. The disruption continued for well over an hour.
Later in the day, an anti-resolution panel including Radhika Sainath of Palestine Legal, Linda Sarsour, Donna Nevel of Jewish Voice for Peace and Taher Herzallah of American Muslims for Palestine spoke in opposition to the resolution.
Video by Nerdeen Kiswani of 1:17 of hearing:
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Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network will continue to be part of all efforts to resist the criminalization, suppression or stigmatization of Palestine solidarity and Palestinian community organizing, including working to stop and shut down anti-BDS, anti-Palestinian resolutions or legislation in NY City Council and elsewhere.