Palestine Cultural Day

On May 24th, 2016,  the Alameda County Board of Supervisors proclaimed May 15th, 2016, the 68th anniversary of the occupation of Palestine, as “Palestine Cultural Day.” It is the third proclamation from the board of supervisors recognizing the cultural richness of Palestine and the Palestinian community.

Thank you for those who came out and supported the Proclamation – AROC: Arab Resource & Organizing Center, Friends of Sabeel – North America FOSNA Buena Vista United Methodist Church, and the Middle East Children’s Alliance, community members, and allies.

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Watch Lara Kiswani speak to the Alameda Board of Supervisors

Lara Kiswani spoke on behalf of the Arab community: “On behalf of the Arab community, we would like to thank Supervisor Chan for spearheading this Palestine Day proclamation and for the support of all the Supervisors in this effort. As Palestinians in the US, we see this step as not simply an act of recognition, but also an expression of your commitment to hear our community concerns, value our experiences and contributions, and to take a stand for social and racial justice.

We are living in a time where Arabs, Muslims and particularly Palestinians are criminalized, marginalized and often made invisible. We understand this experience as part of a long history of racism and violence that has impacted people of color and poor people all across the world. We understand that recognizing Palestine and Palestinian people is in of itself taking a stand against racism. After all, there are many billions of dollars, energy and political interests that go into wiping our history and identity. Just as historically there have been similar efforts made to erase the history of the Indigenous people of this land, to normalize the segregation of Blacks in Apartheid South Africa. We see ourselves as part of this history, this movement for social justice, part of the global community that strives to achieve self determination, dignity and justice.

We come here today to thank you for your act of solidarity, particularly at this time. And we ask you to put your solidarity into action by taking a stand against Islamophobia, and anti-Arab racism. And by extension, taking a stand against all forms of racism, discrimination, and State violence. And we ask you to challenge the inequity, segregation, and militarism that saturate our cities from Ferguson, to Jerusalem to Oakland. There are indeed ways that we can make changes today.

One way we ask you to explore and examine is defunding the attempts to militarize and make war on Arabs, Muslims, poor people and people of color right here in Alameda County. Pay close attention to the way in which Alameda tax dollars are used to make an enemy out of local residents. Things such as the SWAT training and weapons expo known as Urban Shield and hosted in Pleasanton, that celebrates military exercises and encourages emergency responders to relate to people in your backyard, to relate to many of you and your families, as enemies rather than people worthy of health and care. Defunding Urban Shield, stopping military states and human rights’ violators such as Apartheid Israel from training local law enforcement, continuing to invest in and celebrate culture, and community are some steps in that direction. We would be thrilled to partner with you in such efforts to better Alameda County and the lives of all its residents.

Thank you for taking the time to honor our history and culture, to hear our concerns, and see us as part and parcel of social fabric of Alameda County.”

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‪#‎Palestine‬ ‪#‎Palestineculturalday‬ ‪#‎BDS‬ ‪#‎StopUrbanShield‬

AROC is this year’s Partners in Liberation

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Our Annual Testimonial Dinner will be Saturday, April 9, 2016 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. We will honor our Champions of Justice, Jody LeWitter and Pamela Y. Price, Unsung Hero, Gabriela Lopez, and Partners in Liberation, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center.

Ready to register?

Show your support for our honorees and the NLG by placing a message of support in the Testimonial Dinner Journal or becoming a ticket sponsor.

Champions of Justice Jody LeWitter & Pamela Price

Jody LeWitter is a graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University, and the University of Michigan Law School. She moved to California from Michigan in 1986, where she has practiced employment law ever since. Jody’s victories include Behne v. MicroTouch Inc., an employment fraud case in which her client was awarded, what is believed to be, the largest employment fraud verdict in California at the time.

Jody is a long-time member of the National Lawyers Guild, active nationally and locally, holding positions including past co-chair of the Testimonial Dinner Committee, Vice President of the Bay Area Chapter and the Detroit Chapter, and past co-chair of the Central America Task Force. She is also a member of the Equal Rights Advocates Litigation Committee and has volunteered with the Workers Rights Clinic, Legal Aid Society of San Francisco and the Asian Law Caucus.

Jody has received numerous awards and recognition. In 2011, she, along with her firm, Siegel, LeWitter & Malkani, were listed in The Recorder as one of the ten top employee side practices in the Bay Area. She has been named as a Best Lawyers in America for Labor & Employment (2007 to present) and a California Super Lawyer for Employment Litigation (2007 to present).

Pamela Y. Price is a graduate of Yale University and Boalt Hall School of Law. While at Yale, she spent her Junior Year Abroad at the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, East Africa. Pamela has been a member of the Guild and has worked with other NLG members on cases and continuing legal education seminars over theyears. She has mentored some of the NLG’s most active young leaders.

In 1977, Pamela joined the landmark case of Alexander (Price) v. Yale, the first sexual harassment case brought under Title IX. She was the only plaintiff to proceed to trial in January 1979. The case established that sexual harassment in education is illegal and led to the establishment of grievance procedures at every level of education in compliance with Title IX.

In 1991, Pamela founded her own law firm in Oakland, specializing in sexual and racial harassment and discrimination cases. In 2002, the Firm made legal history in Morgan v. Amtrak by winning the appeal of a defense verdict in the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. Pamela successfully argued the case before the Supreme Court.

Pamela has received numerous awards. Every year since 2004, she has been named one of the top 5% of Northern California “Super Lawyers” by San Francisco Magazine. In 2007, she served as the Interim Executive Director for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of San Francisco, and she is a past Co-Chair of the LCCR Board of Directors. Her victories at trial and tenacity as a litigator have become legend in the Bay Area legal community.

Unsung Hero Gabriela Lopez

Gabriela Lopez is an Oakland based immigration and criminal defense attorney who practices deportation defense for immigrants with criminal histories and criminal defense for immigrants and activists. She has represented numerous activists and individuals arrested at demonstrations and received the 2015 Law for the People Award for her work on the legal team for the Trayvon 2. Gabriela is on the board of governors for the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, a former Co-Chair of The United People of Color Caucus (TUPOCC) of the Guild and a former member of the NLG’s National Executive Committee. Gabriela has developed and conducted know your rights presentations for people affected by discriminatory policing practices and those affected by post 9-11 policies. Prior to law school, she organized low wage cafeteria workers in the Bay Area and advocated for a living wage and worker retention for subcontracted workers.

Partners in Liberation Arab Resource & Organizing Center

The Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) is a grassroots organization working to empower and organize the Arab community towards justice and self-determination for all. AROC was created in 2007, out of the San Francisco Chapter of the American Arab anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC-SF). Since its founding, AROC’s membership has engaged in work around immigrant and civil rights, and against war, occupation, surveillance and racial profiling. AROC continues to build on the history of Arab organizing in the Bay Area committed to the liberation of all oppressed people, and remains one of the few Arab-led grassroots organizations in the country.

عملنا يتزايد ونحن بحاجة الى دعم مجتمعنا

عملنا يتزايد ونحن بحاجة الى دعم مجتمعنا، كل الشكر لكرمكم الذي جعل عملنا هذا ممكناً

مما لا شك فيه بأن هذه السنة تخللها العديد من الصعوبات، لكن في الوقت ذاته كانت ايضاً سنة مفعمة بالنشاطات مليئة بالانتصارات لكل الناس التى تناضل من اجل العدالة بالعالم. مع كل الصعوبات التى واجهتنا سواء كمركز او كمجتمع، نحن نعتقد بأننا من خلال عملنا سوياً حقننا ما كنا نسعى لتحقيقه.

نرجو منك مشاهدة هذا الفيديو الذي يسلط الضوء على عملنا والنشاطات التى قمنا بها في المركز العربي للمصادر والتنظيم عام 2015

Watch the Video

نتطلع للعمل في السنة القادمة ونحن ملتزمين بالاستمرار في تراكم هذه الانجازات، وهذه الانجازات لن تتحقق بدون المساهمات المستمرة من ابناء مجتمعنا.

لقد قمنا بنجاح بتمرير القرار المتعلق بمسارات اللغة العربية في مدارس سان فرانسيسكو ونتطلع قدماً بالمضي مع مجتمعنا حتى يصبح مشروع اللغة العربية واقعاً. اما على مستوى عمل الفريق لقد قمنا بتوظيف موظفين اثنين يعملان بدوام كامل من اجل الحفاظ على زيادة قدرتنا على العمل، والمضي بعملنا قدماً نحو الأمام.

نهدف من خلال دعمكم للوصول الى مبلغ 65000 دولار .

اذا كنت ترغب بدعمنا :

- من الممكن ان تكون الممول الشهري عند مساهمتك ب 20 او 50 او 100 دولار شهرياً.

- من الممكن ان تتبرع لمرة واحدة.

- من الممكن ان تنظم حملة لجمع التبرعات لدعم المركز.

عملنا يتزايد ونحن بحاجة الى دعم محتمعنا، كل الشكر لكرمكم الذي جعل عملنا هذا ممكناً

The Case of the Syrian Refugees in the Bay Area

Listen to AROC staff attorney, Lina Baroudi, on KPFA discussing the case of the Syrian refugees as it relates to recent political developments.

The Case of Syrian Refugees

By Lina Baroudi

What are the conditions that Syrian refugees are facing?

As of yesterday, over twenty U.S. state governors have announced that they will oppose the resettlement of Syrian refugees in their states. Putting aside the unconstitutionality of these proposed policies, these state leaders’ sentiments are indicative of the ignorance and scapegoating so prevalent in this country. The world has finally turned its eyes to Syria, but the more than 4 million Syrian refugees did not come into existence until last week.

Since March 2011, individuals and families have been fleeing Syria to Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, where they are waiting to be processed for resettlement in a third country. While in limbo, they are separated from their families and many are living without running water, electricity, medical and mental health services. I think, by now, everyone is familiar with the image of Aylan Kurdi, the young Syrian refugee who died in the Mediterranean Sea trying to leave Turkey with his family. There are hundreds of thousands of Aylans in what the UN has called the largest humanitarian crisis of our era.

What process do they have to go through?

The screening process for refugees, and specifically Syrian refugees, involves the most intensive security background check of anyone seeking admission into the U.S.

  1. Registration and interviews with UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), undergo security checks using biodata, biometrics, iris scan
  2. Referral to U.S. for resettlement
  3. Interview by the U.S. DOS’s Resettlement Support Center; obtain security clearance by DHS
  4. Vetted against databases of Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, the FBI, and the National Counterterrorism Center
  5. Syrian refugees undergo another background check by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  6. Matched with a U.S.-based resettlement agency
  7. Undergo additional checks by CBP and TSA

How long does it take?

The average time is 18-24 months

What support do they have after they get refugee status?

Once refugees arrive here, there are refugee resettlement organizations which initially place them with a host family, then find them their own apartments, and assist them in finding employment, medical services and enrolling the children in school. After that, they are more or less on their own. And even during that process, they are often placed in areas they are completely unfamiliar with, alienated from community and at the will of placement agencies.

Out of the 4.1 million registered Syrian refugees, the U.S. has accepted just over two thousand since 2011. But what we should also take note of are the several thousand Syrian immigrants who have fled Syria in recent years. Even though they have not been designated as refugees, we should understand the condition of the Syrian people to include forced migrants, refugees, displaced people and those in diaspora who have suffered the pain of their family and community. Most of the recent migrants from Syria faced extreme violence prior to their arrival here; violence supported and funded by the U.S. They were fortunate enough to flee before being forced into refugee camps. However, their families are those same people languishing in camps.

What have been the recent shifts in US domestic policy?

In September, President Obama announced that the U.S. will take an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees. In response to the events of last week, the House Republicans are expected to pass legislation today to freeze and overhaul the refugee admission process, specifically in regards to Syrians and Iraqis. We have a Virginia mayor commending the use of internment camps for Japanese-Americans as a rationale for keeping Syrian refugees out of his city. We’re seeing the same kind of backlash against Arabs and Muslims as we did in 2001.

The irony, again, is that the U.S. does not take responsibility for its actions in the Arab world and its role in the Syrian refugee crisis, whether it’s through propping up dictators, fueling sectarian violence or creating and sustaining extremist groups.

The bottom line is what is happening in Syria is a tragedy. No matter what we call it, the result is the same: civilian deaths, families torn apart, the creation of millions of new refugees, and the re-traumatization of Palestinian refugees who were living in Syria. 

How does the US compare to other countries?

There is no comparison at all. Germany and Sweden have been the most welcoming countries to Syrian refugees and asylum seekers, and France has just recommitted itself to accepting 30,000 more Syrian refugees.

Meanwhile, the hypocrisy in U.S. immigration policy is that while stigmatizing the less than one percent of Syrian refugees this country has accepted, the U.S. has in place other mechanisms – asylum and temporary protected status – to afford legal status to the thousands of Syrians already living in this country. What we should be comparing is the role that the U.S. has played in creating the crisis in the Arab world; the role it has played in funding, arming and inciting the violence that Syrians are fleeing from. While the U.S. funded ISIS, propped up dictators, and armed racist states like Israel, it turns a blind eye to the impact its policies and practices have had on those it considers non-Western. Take, for instance, the attention we have seen on Paris; all the while the Syrians and Lebanese who have been devastated by ISIS have been ignored. And then when those same people seek refuge from the destruction that the U.S. has a direct role in, they are criminalized and demonized and accused of the same violence they are fleeing.

People all over the world are outraged at what they are witnessing. They are outraged at U.S. foreign policy and they know all too well that those at the receiving end of it, are the ones that fall victim to the racism and fear mongering that results.

We at AROC are working tirelessly to meet the growing needs of the forced migrants from the U.S. by providing immigration services. But there needs to be a radical shift in how the U.S. relates to the world. Otherwise, the Syrian crisis we see today will be reproduced in other parts of the world. Just as it has over decades, from Latin America to Africa.

Action Alert: Support AROC and Arabic Language Pathways in SF Schools!

SIGN COMMUNITY LETTER OF SUPPORT [HERE]

Over the last month, our small yet powerful grassroots Arab community organization has been the target of an attack by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). They have vilified us on media and to public officials, and have been attempting to intimidate our allies for supporting us. The attacks escalated when the Examiner printed this article.

Who is JCRC?

They are a well-financed group that furthers the interests of the apartheid state of Israel. Their objective is to challenge Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions work in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Wherever they see an organization successfully supporting the Palestinian struggle for liberation, they attack.

Now, they are attacking both AROC and the opportunity for children in San Francisco to learn Arabic language and culture.

JCRC is attempting to convince the San Francisco Board of Education to revote on a resolution that the board passed unanimously on May 26, listing AROC and the Vietnamese Youth Development Center as community partners who championed the campaign to implement Arabic and Vietnamese language pathways in SFUSD. This initiative, born of an inspiring community effort, would expand the opportunity of Arabs and Vietnamese to have their languages and cultures better represented in the schools they attend.

What does JCRC really want?

They want to discredit AROC because of our impactful work in support of Palestinian rights, and they want control of the Arabic pathway process so they can ensure there are no cultural elements to the curriculum that could “threaten” their conservative agenda.

Don’t let JCRC undermine Arab culture in our city to advance their harmful agenda.

Will you take two minutes to sign on to community support letter to urge the Board of Educations continued support of AROC and our role in developing the Arabic language pathway in SFUSD?

The Board of Education is on break until August. By signing onto this letter you will help affirm that communities are in support of AROC and against the attempt of political interest groups like JCRC to undermine grassroots community efforts. By signing on you show that people of conscience are united against racism.

MORE INFO

SFUSD PRESS RELEASE ON ARABIC LANGUAGE PATHWAYS

AROC Announcement and Photos of Arabic Language Pathways Victory

JCRC Case Study: the Attack on Eastside Arts Alliance

JCRC attack on Children’s Art Exhibit from Gaza

IJAN report, the Business of Backlash: the Attack on the Palestinian Movement and Other Movements for Justice

VIDEO OF FULL SPEACH BY LARA KISWANI, ED OF AROC (MISPRESENTED BY JCRC)

 

We Blocked the Boat!!

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August 17, 2014

On August 17th, 2014 Palestine was once again victorious in Oakland, California!

For the second day in a row the Bay Area community held off the Israeli Zim ship from unloading at the Port. Thousands of people rallied on Saturday and successfully kept the ship at Bay on its regular scheduled day. Today we got word that the ship had arrived and workers were being called to unload it. Within 30 minutes we mobilized over 400 people back to the Port. And we won!

Workers honored our picket and stood on the side of justice, as they historically have. Oakland said no to Zionism and blocked the boat for an entire weekend. This is the first time in history that this has happened. Israeli apartheid is falling one port at a time!

Palestine will be free from the river to the sea. Long live international solidarity and the struggle for liberation!

August 16, 2014

Let the world register that on 16, August 2014, five thousand people in Oakland prevented the apartheid Zim liner for the second time from docking and unloading anywhere on the West Coast.

photo by Jackie Brown

photo by Jackie Brown

The Zim Pireaus arrived in Northern California by afternoon yesterday. It could have docked by early Saturday morning. We held the Zim off in place due to our readiness and mobilization at 5 AM. We showed up again at 3 PM to stop the scheduled work crews from unloading the ship. Our actions today have sent a clear message that genocide and apartheid does not pay in Oakland, or anywhere on the West Coast.

Our action along with the 100’s of 1000’s of people who mobilized worldwide in solidarity with the resilient Palestinian people should send a clear and resounding message that the beginning of the end for the Zionist apartheid regime in Palestine is upon us.

As South African apartheid fell, Zionist rule in Palestine and Israeli apartheid will fall.

Photo by @marg1nal

Photo by @marg1nal

Arabic port update

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