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)

 

Connecting with the Arab Community

“Min wein anti?“

“I – um, ana bidee…”

“No, where are you from?”

“Uh, Michigan? Er, I mean, like, the United States.”

“No, no. Where are you from?”

“Oh. Well, I’m third generation… so… my dad’s German and my mom is Scandinavian and Native American and other things, but they were both born here. So were their parents, actually…”

I tend to fumble with this question when people come into the AROC office and see my unfamiliar blonde self typing at a computer. Asking one’s identity seems to be a way people can comfortably bond or connect on a certain level; however, for me, this question becomes especially muddled when I’ll thank clients with “chukran” or I’ll ask “keyfa hal?” when I want to know how someone is doing.

“So you have been to the Middle East?” I am often asked with a puzzled smile.

“Um, not really… but I do study Arabic back home at Michigan State University.”

“Ah…” I’ll get back in response. Now we have a common ground with which we can build a conversation.

Communication and making bonds seem to be strongly rooted in having a shared link, and this is not exclusive to just my daily awkward interactions. Whether this includes talking with a friend about plans for the day, or helping to organize for a fundraising event at places like AROC, the ability to effectively communicate is vital. After almost five years of AROC’s existence, and almost one summer of interning there, I have been able to witness first-hand the way AROC successfully interacts with the community.

AROC utilizes both Arabic and English to engage the community. They are personal and build meaningful relationships as they are familiar with families and goings-on in the community. Not only does the San Francisco Arab community fall under this categorization, but they are also connected with other San Francisco residents through a collective of other area organizations, and they continuously remain in the public eye through events and outreach. On a more personal scale, I am able to listen in on discussions in both Arabic and in English in the AROC office, ranging from legal matters to Palestinian statehood, from how a child’s day was at school to iftar plans, and from inside jokes in Arabic that I rarely understand to conducting client intake in my broken formal Arabic.

Through my internship experience, I have gained a great deal of knowledge about Arab culture and customs. I am able to sympathize with the hardships of immigration processing and I now know at least seven more ways to greet someone in Arabic than I did just a few months ago. AROC can communicate with the Arab community effectively, and because of my summer spent working with this dedicated and compassionate organization, I, too, am able to say that my ability to communicate across cultures has significantly improved to a degree I had not even begun to anticipate before boarding my flight back in June from Detroit to San Francisco.

Written by Sonja Trierweiler

AROC member and intern report on the USSF 2010

The beauty of the Forum is that each and every person had their own personal encounter with “it”, but we were also all in a collective space that emitted a productive sense of solidarity, unity, progressive voice and vision that I’ve never experienced in my life. The feeling that we can do this. Another world IS possible. My main reason for going to the 2010 US Social Forum was to teach new communities and cultures about the severity and the affect of wars in the Middle East and occupation of all of Palestine . This was to be a forum for people to explore the issues that we were talking about and going through .To be able to master a solution for the better in the worst.

Opening parade Tuesday afternoon represented a dizzying array of causes, and every imaginable grievance demanding a government solution, or at least someone else’s money to pay for rights/services/etc. I was impressed to see Arabs come together from all over the United States to help bring hands together clapping for Change. We kept strong.

The first workshop I attended was put on by an organization called The Confluence Network. Youth-led, mainly teenagers and young folks in their early twenties, the members are mostly people of color. The Network is 5 years old with groups scattered across the Northeast. A lot of the members are students. They engage in a multiplicity of issues arising in their communities including testing toxic soil, building community gardens, fighting to free political prisoners, standing in solidarity with the Palestinian cause against the occupation. They run a summer camp which appears to be the key to their popularity among young people. Some are performance artists or create digital media. The workshop was mainly interactive with clever techniques to spark participation among the 40 odd people attracted to it.

A second workshop I attended was entitled the Capitalist Roots of the Ecological Crisis with Joel Kovel, CD collective member Teresa Turner and Chris Williams. Each delivered 20 minute talks after which many of the 70 individuals in attendance asked questions or made short comments of their own. It was a very lively exchange.

I learned that together we can help things change and that a lot of people care and supporting the peace and change in Palestine. I also learned about the state officials of Texas wanting to take slavery out of the textbooks and the word Capitalism, If they haven’t already done it . I would like to do more research on that. I also want to find out why they want to do that. I also like how we worked together to cancel a Zionist workshop that was planned to take place.