Defund Urban Shield: Get Involved

On Friday, September 9, 2016, we successfully mobilized hundreds of our friends, neighbors, comrades, coworkers, and family members from across California to disrupt the Urban Shield weapons expo in Pleasanton. Made up of over 15 grassroots organizations with a strategy committee composed of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Critical Resistance, BAYAN USA, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, and the Xicana Moratorium Coalition, the Stop Urban Shield Coalition is grateful to have joined with you and members of all of our communities to unite against global policing, repression, and militarization.

As a SWAT training and weapons expo that brings together police units from across the country and world – including from Apartheid Israel – Urban Shield seeks to increase the power of policing over our communities by expanding the tools, technology, weaponry, and tactics that are used to oppress people everywhere. But we are fighting back.

Our mobilization against Urban Shield on September 9th made an impact. The Alameda County Fairgrounds where the weapons expo was held was locked down like never before, with no business as usual. One of the police trainings that was scheduled to take place as part of Urban Shield was canceled!Our collective action let the proponents (and profiteers) of Urban Shield  know that our communities will meet the expansion of repression with an expansion of resistance.

On Tuesday, September 13th we delivered our coalition’s report Urban Shield: Abandoning Hope not Building Hope to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.  This is part of our push to pressure this decision making body to stand on the right side of history and end Urban Shield. Report produced by the Stop Urban Shield Coalition on why and how Alameda and San Francisco Counties can defund Urban Shield. Download PDF Here. 

CONTACT BOARD OF SUPERVISORS TO DEMAND THEY DEFUND URBAN SHIELD!

Supervisor Haggerty
shawn.wilson@acgov.org
(510) 272-6691

Supervisor Valle
christopher.miley@acgov.org
(510) 272-6692

Supervisor Chan
jeanette.dong@acgov.org
(510)272-6693

Supervisor Miley
anna.gee@acgov.org
(510)272-6694

Supervisor Carson
amy.shrago@acgov.org
(510)272-6695

Call to Action from Arab Youth

AROC Youth Reflect on Militarization, Zionism and Repression
Interview with AYO youth leaders, Nora Abedelal and Nour Bouhassoun

Nora Abedelal and Nour Bouhassoun
What are your thoughts on this moment of ongoing attacks on Arabs and Muslims, targeting of Palestinian activism, and criminalization of Black and Brown communities in light of the Movement for Black Lives Platform, and the growing movement against Zionism?Nour: Oppressed people have always stood up for one another. That isn’t something new. The Movement For Black Lives platform illustrates that Black people are demanding their right to self-determination. This requires standing against all forms of oppression including the criminalization of Black and Brown youth, against surveillance, against war, and the attempts to control and militarize our communities.The platform is not just an expression of solidarity with Palestinians. It is more than that. It talks about the real connections between local and global struggles against State violence and recognizes that standing together to fight for economic, social and political power is how we can all achieve self-determination. Zionism is not oppressing one community; it oppresses all communities of color and poor people and helps the US to exercise repression locally and globally.

Nora: While we are seeing a lot of communities showing solidarity with one another, we are also facing a lot of backlash with the rise of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and conservatism in general. We know all of this reflects standard US domestic and foreign policy. So with more solidarity actions comes an increase in policing, surveillance and militarism. That’s why I am not surprised when I learn about events like Urban Shield. These are the ways they try to crush people rising up and taking action.

How can we continue to build on the connections being made between local policing and global repression and continue to fight back?

Nora: We have to understand that when we are engaged in this kind of work, it is inherently in solidarity with other communities because we all suffer from the same systems of oppression; the same systems trying to repress and control us.

We should be investing back into our communities through education, leadership development, and skill building as opposed to body cameras and prettier prisons. I have been seeing a lot of posts on social media about police giving out ice cream and playing basketball with youth. When people see that as a way to solve the problem, then they don’t understand that these are systemic issues that need long term solutions, and require grassroots organizing.

Nour:  People in this moment should know the difference between a tool and a strategy. Some of our youth are focusing too much on social media, which is a great tool, but not a strategy. It doesn’t bring people together on the ground. So what we need is to organize together. We should think of ways to engage in local efforts that weaken these systems and act as a model for the future.

There is a lot of attention on electoral politics now. Even though as we have witnessed for years, no matter who the president is, our conditions remain the same. I wish people would not see those in power as the problem solvers. Problem solvers are those most impacted.

How does stopping Urban Shield serve as a strategy for our movements and the health and well being of our communities?

Nour: Military tactics and training are used against an enemy. And when they train local police with these tactics they are training the police to treat our communities like enemies. When they purchase Israeli weapons and surveillance technology, and learn from Israeli military tactics, they are learning how to treat our communities here the same way the Israeli army oppresses Palestinians. Militarization creates a culture of fear and distrust and reinforces racism, encouraging informants and division in our community. Stopping Urban Shield is a way for our communities to demonstrate that we believe policing and militarization are not okay. If we can stop Urban Shield, we can encourage others to continue to challenge these systems in the face of repression.

Nora: I remember the police came to my house with an M16 rifle. And that is because events like Urban Shield normalize militarization. The police have historically made our communities uncomfortable and have historically repressed and targeted our communities. When I see police at protest with tanks and big guns I think of events like Urban Shield that allow these kinds of things to happen. Stopping Urban Shield would mean that instead of investing in militarization we would be able to invest in our communities. It also helps us take the focus away from individual gun violence, and instead remind people of the role that State violence plays in our everyday lives.

How do folks get involved?

Nora: Show up on September 9th in Pleasanton! Contact the Stop Urban Shield coalition for information on carpools from the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

Nour: Organize meetings to learn more about Urban Shield and the ways that we can redirect funding towards community based solutions.

For more information on how you can take Nour and Nora’s lead on mobilizing to stop Urban Shield, visit www.stopurbanshield.org

On International Women’s Day, we honor our beloved Rasmea Odeh

On International Women’s Day, we honor our beloved Rasmea Odehrasmea2 In commemoration of International Women’s Day, AROC community and allies gathered in San Francisco at 518 Valencia: The Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics Saturday evening to celebrate the granting of the appeal of Rasmea Odeh’s unjust conviction and learn about ways to organize in her defense.

Speakers, Nadine Naber and Lina Baroudi, shed light on Odeh’s work in the Arab immigrant and refugee community and the impact this decision has on the lives of hundreds of women in Chicago, immigrants and communities all across the US.

As anti-immigrant sentiment continues to rise in national debates, supporters of Rasmea Odeh, a long-time community leader for Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim women immigrants in the US, are continuing to fight against state violence and repression. Rasmea, the Palestinian American icon, was convicted of a politically motivated immigration violation in 2014, and sentenced to 18 months in prison and subsequent deportation.

Donate to her defense and get involved in supporting Free Rasmea Now: www.justice4rasmea.org

Contact AROC to get involved with the Bay Area defense committee or to organize an event or meeting for your community or organization.

‪#‎justice4rasmea‬

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Bay Area Arab Youth Speak Out

On February 19th, 2016,  AROC held it’s second community forum Bay Area Arab Youth Speak Out. 7 AYO leaders from 4 different High Schools and 1 college spoke directly about their experiences as Arabs navigating through SF public schools. They spoke about the way in which our political climate makes its way into the classroom, and ways in which they’ve faced anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia. Many highlighted the challenges of not having language access in their schools. All of them spoke about the support they received and how it important it was for them to have family and educators committed to their success. Thank you to everyone who joined us and came out to support our community #AYO #YouthPower

 

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Arab Youth Mobilize for Arabic Language Pathways

After over a year of organizing and advocating for Arabic and Vietnamese language pathways, having the SF Board of Education unanimously pass a resolution to explore the implementation of these pathways, and months of community outreach and participation, the District produced two reports outlining the need, and recommendations for the programs. And on Tuesday, February 2nd, the San Francisco Board of Education met to discuss the feasibility of the pathways and hear from public testimony.

Dozens of community members showed up in support. AROC’s youth program, AYO-Arab Youth Organization, came out in force and spoke up about the experience as Arab youth, the role that language, cultural and community empowerment play in their lives, and demanded that the city respond to their growing needs at a time of heightened islamophobia and anti-Arab racism. Educators, community, and allies all expressed their commitment to supporting this community-led effort.

We are excited about this development. As the BOE is moves forward with discussions about feasibility and implementation, feel free to contact AROC for updates or to get involved in this critical work.

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Justice for Rasmea Odeh! Join the Twitter Storm 1/27 #Justice4Rasmea

Join the Rasmea Defense Committee on Wednesday, January 27, 2016, in support of immigrant rights leader and Arab community organizer, Rasmea Odeh.  In October, Rasmea’s legal team filed an appeal of her unjust conviction for Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization. We are expecting a decision about this appeal any day now.How to participate on Wednesday, January 27th:
Help us spread the word about Rasmea on every social media platform you’re on!

  1. Twitter: Follow @Justice4Rasmea, re-tweet our messages, and tweet your own (based on our resource guide) throughout the day.
  2. Facebook: Like and follow us at http://www.fb.com/Free-Rasmea-Now-678264732186412
  3. Visit http://justice4rasmea.tumblr.com/ for images and text that you can share. Make sure to include the #Justice4Rasmea hashtag.
  4. Go to www.justice4rasmea.org for more information.
  5. Prepare your city, organization, and/or campus for our Emergency Response Plan:

Although we are confident that we will win the appeal and have the conviction overturned, there is a chance—as we reported right before the end of 2015—that the appellate court will uphold the conviction, ruling in favor of the government. If that happens, it is very likely that Rasmea will be ordered to turn herself in to federal prison authorities, while we petition to keep her out on bail.

If this worst-case scenario decision comes down BEFORE 12 NOON, and Rasmea is ordered to prison, we are calling for protests the VERY SAME DAY at 5 PM at federal buildings across the country.
If the decision comes down AFTER 12 NOON, we are calling for protests the NEXT DAY at 5 PM.
Allies and supporters across the world will also be participating in the emergency response by protesting at U.S. consulates and embassies everywhere.

Community Forum: Arabic Language Pathways, حوار مجتمعي بخصوص برنامج ادخال اللغة العربية الى مدارس سان فرانسيسكو

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عقد المركز العربي حوار مجتمعي بخصوص برنامج ادخال اللغة العربية الى مدارس سان فرانسيسكو وتحدث بالجلسة كل  من

نور : طالبة عربية من سوريا، تحدثت عن تجربتها مع اللغة عندما هاجرت عائلتها الى امريكا، وكيف تأثرت لغتها العربية بسبب قلة الممارسة وكانت تتمنى لو انها استطاعت ان تستمر بدراسة اللغة العربية بالمدرسة

نورا : طالبة عربية امريكية تحدثت عن تجربتها مع لغتها العربية التى تفهمها جيداً لكنها لا تتكلم بها، وعزت عدم قدرتها على التحدث باللغة العربية لأنها لم تدرسها في المدرسة

دايخة : صحافية ومترجمة اخبار من اللغة العربية الى اللغة الانجليزية، تحدثت عن اهمية اللغة للطفل في حياته وتكوين شخصيته، وتطرقت الى اهمية ان تبنى المناهج في طريقة معينة، وان تحمل مضمون ذو قيمة

رندة : عربية امريكية تحدثت عن اصرارها الطويل لتعلم اللغة العربية، والصعوبة التى واجهتها بحكم عدم وجود مدارس تقوم بتدريس اللغة العربية، وعبرت عن رغبتها الشديدة في تعلم ابنها الذي يدرس في احدى مدارس سان فرانسيسكو اللغة العربية

سامية : معلمة لأكثر من عشر سنوات، ومسؤولة برنامج تدريس اللغة الانجليزية لغير الناقطين بها، وتحدثت عن اهمية تدريس اللغة العربية للأطقال بالمدارس وعلاقة اللغة بالهوية والثقافة العربية، اذ يتعرف الطفل على الشعر والرواية والتاريخ اثناء دراسته اللغة

نبيل : يعمل كمترجم في مدارس سان فرانسيسكو، تحدث عن تجربته مع الاهالي العرب ورغبتهم في تدريس اولادهم اللغة العربية، حيث يعتقد ان ممارسة اللغة العربية بالمنزل ضرورية جداً لكنها لا تكفي، ولكي يستوعب الطفل العربي اللغة ويتقنها جيداً عليه ان يدرسها كمساق خاص بالمدرسة

بالنقاش عبّر الاهالي عن رغبتهم الشديدة بالبرنامج وتطلعهم اليه، وحاول المركز العربي ان يجيب على تساؤلاتهم، وتدوين ملاحظاتهم لايصالها الى الجهات المعنية بالبرنامج

On January 16th, 2016, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center hosted a forum on the Arabic language pathways resolution for SF public schools with guest speakers from the Arab community.

Nour, a San Francisco high school student and active member of Arab Youth Organization of AROC, spoke about her experience with Arabic language as an immigrant from Syria and how her fluency was impacted by her inability to practice speaking, writing and reading her native language. She expressed her enthusiasm at the possibility of continuing to study Arabic in her school.  Nora, also an SF high school student and active member of AYO, spoke as an Arab-American student who understands Arabic very well but doesn’t feel as comfortable speaking it. She attributed her inability to speak Arabic to the fact that it is not offered as an option in school, and her family could not afford private classes.

Daikha, a journalist and parent, talked about the importance knowledge of languages in children’s lives and the impact it has on the formation of their character. She emphasized the importance developing culturally and socially competent curriculum as a means of teaching the Arabic language in the most meaningful and impactful way.        

Renda, an SF parent, talked about her own persistence and struggle to learn Arabic as an Arab American. She also expressed her desire for her son to learn Arabic in San Francisco public schools to support him academically and to connect him to his culture and heritage.

Samia an educator for more than 10 years and currently works for a district in coordinating ESL program, spoke about the importance of teaching Arabic in conjunction with Arab culture, which includes poetry, novels, and history.

Nabil, an interpreter for the San Francisco Unified District, described his experience with the SF parents, and their desire for their children to maintain and learn Arabic. He described how teaching language at home alone is not enough for children to master the language.

At the community forum, the parents expressed her enthusiasm and aspirations for an Arabic Language pathways. AROC facilitated the discussion with the panelists and attendees that reflected the breathe of the Arab community in SF and the significance of Arabic in their lives. The community’s feedback and insight regarding the program will be shared with SF Unified School District.   

Please stay tuned for updates on the pathways resolution and contact AROC to get involved in future efforts.

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Walmart cedes to pressure not to promote Israeli fascism

Major retailer Walmart promoted the state of Israel and the “Israeli Defense Force” as a Halloween costume for children, all for under thirty dollars. The costume, which was sold alongside that of the navy seal and the US police offer, has been deshelved after outrage by people across the country and successful pressure advocacy by civil liberties organizations such as CAIR and ADC.

What does it mean when a corporation such as Walmart’s, with their track record of poor labor and racist practices, decide that the very same IDF soldiers that apparently are too controversial to market to children train the police that continue to be marketed and celebrated on shelves across the country? What does it mean when war-making and the logic of policing continues to marketable, profitable and acceptable?

It is in fact nothing but repulsive to market the IDF while the Israeli military is extra judicially killing Palestinians in the West Bank, restricting movement for Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem, and the six-decade occupation of Palestine under racist and apartheid policies. In addition, Operation Protective Edge killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, and hundreds have been injured or wounded, and 10,000 homes have been destroyed in Gaza just this last year. In the past 3 weeks, at least 60 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,000 Palestinians have been injured. The protests earlier this month were triggered after the Israeli government restricted the access for worshippers to Al-Aqsa. One of the main factors to the protests was the continuous vigilantly settler armed gangs attacking and murdering Palestinians on a daily basis.

The IDF costume is, however, consistent with the profitable industry of costumes promoting racist stereotypes and such as the “Sheikh Fagin Nose.” On the Walmart website, the prosthetic nose was described as the “perfect for an Arab Sheikh. (The Nose has been taken down while this post was written.) . Walmart has a history of promoting and selling racist costumes. Last year, Walmart featured the “Pashtun Papa,” which was a long grey beard, a turban, a black vest, and brown one piece. The description of this “costume” stated: “Represent the Middle East in the Men’s Pashtun Papa Costume this Halloween season. Whether you’re making a serious political statement or staging a political parody, this authentic- looking outfit is sure to fit the bill.” Pashtuns have been reduced to an offensive costume. Walmart took the item of their online store after a wave of social media outrage. The Sheikh nose was able to be both anti- Arab and anti-Jewish at the same time. Fagin also appeared on the label for the Sheikh box, a Jewish character in the novel “Oliver Twist.” It has been recalled from the online store after civil rights groups like CAIR, USPCN, and others directed a call to drop the nose. Walmart continues to site “third party product policy” have nothing to do with Walmart’s mission statement towards “community sensitivity” and “diversity.”

Walmart in the past has profited from racist symbols like the Confederate flag, which was later pulled off their shelves after Dylan Roof, a white supremacist, murdered nine African Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Walmart has taken down the IDF costume as they should.

So long as, every 28 hours a black man is killed by the police, it is the logic of policing and war that will continue to permeate society and result in hate crimes, discrimination, and state violence.

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Successful Information session on the Arabic Language Pathways

Update: Arabic Language Pathways

We are proud to announce the success of the San Francisco Unified School District information session on the Arabic Language Pathways, which was held on October 14th at Redding School in San Francisco. About 100 parents and youth attended the session. AROC has been dedicated to advocating for Arabic language access and keeping our community at the forefront of the struggle. It is the steadfastness of the Arab community in San Francisco who are the foundation for the success of the passing of the Arabic and Vietnamese Language Pathways resolution in the San Francisco Unified School District. The Arab youth and our allies played an important role in both the passing of the Arabic Language Pathways resolution and mobilizing for the first information session.

There is still a long way to go. The program is in the first stage of research and survey collection. As the community partner, we look forward to working with the SFUSD on the upcoming and important steps to making this program a reality for the growing Arab community in the city of San Francisco.

We would like to thank Nabil Darwish for providing translation, and Redding School for welcoming our community.

If you have any questions about the program, please contact AROC at : 415-861-7444 or omar@araborganizing.


 

مسارات اللغة العربية

نعلن بكل فخر وسرور عن نجاح الاجتماع التمهيدي المتعلق في برنامج تعليم اللغة العربية لطلاب مدارس سان فرانسيسكو والذي عقد يوم ١٤ أكتوبرفي مدرسة ريدينغ في سان فرانسيسكو، حيث حضر الاجتماع حوالي ١٠٠ شاب وشابة بالاضافة الى ذويهم.

اعتبر المركز العربي قضية تدريس اللغة العربية في مدارس سان فرانسيسكو قضية اساسية لابناء المجتمع العربي ككل، وقد وضع المركز هذه القضية على رأس اولويا ته وعمل سوياً مع ابناء المجتمع للوصول الى الهدف المنشود. تكافل المجتمع العربي واصراره على المضي قدماً نحو حق ابنائهم في تعلم لغتهم الأصلية كان الاساس لنجاح تمرير هذا القرار المتعلق بمسارات اللغة العربية في مدارس سان فرانسيسكو.

ومن المهم ان نشير الى ان الشباب العربي وحلفائنا كان لهم دور هاماً في تمرير القرار من جانب والتواصل مع اكبر قدر ممكن من العائلات لابلاغهم باهمية حضور الاجتماع التمهيدي من جانب اخر.

الطريق ما زال طويلاً والبرنامج ما زال في مراحله الأولى المتعلقة بالبحث والاستقصاء. ونحن في المركز العربي وكممثل عن المجتمع العربي نتطلع إلى العمل مع SFUSD على الخطوات القادمة والهامة، لجعل هذا البرنامج واقعا بالنسبة للمجتمع العربي المتنامي في مدينة سان فرانسيسكو.

.الشكر الموصول  لكل من السيد نبيل درويش على خدمة الترجمة، ولكلية ردينغ لاستضافة واستقبال مجتمعنا

:للاستفسار حول هذا البرنامج، يرجى التواصل مع المركز العربي على العنوان التالي

عمر علي

omar@araborganizing

415-861-7444

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