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)

 

AROC client released after 10 years in prison!

Palestine has shown the world that the will of the people is mightier than that of any military or state. And from the Ports of Oakland to the seashores of Gaza, our communities have demonstrated that the power of resilience, and an unwavering commitment to liberation can make things happen.

Despite the horrific assault on Gaza, we have victories to celebrate– the steadfastness of the people of Palestine, and the historic success of blocking the Israeli ZIM ship at the Port of Oakland for 4 days straight. And there is more. While AROC members were busy organizing, AROC’s Arab American Legal Services was representing a Palestinian client in detention. After 10 years in prison, stateless and facing deportation, AROC won his case and he was released last week!

From resisting colonialism in Palestine, to stopping Israel at the Port, to supporting our prisoners, we are collectively building a movement for justice and we are winning!

AROC’s Palestinian client in detention released from prison after 10 years!

By Lina Baroudi, AROC Staff Attorney

linaAROC

Ashraf is a Palestinian from the Occupied West Bank. When he was a young teenager, he was arrested by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and detained in an Israeli prison for 40 days, during which time he was severely tortured, both by the IDF and Palestinian informants who were working for the IDF.  The arrest was based on a coerced confession from a neighborhood teenager.  An Israeli military prosecutor filed charges against Ashraf in the Military Court of Jenin, accusing him of membership in Hamas from the ages of 11 to 13.  Upon learning that Ashraf had a scholarship and visa to complete high school in the United States, the parties agreed that Ashraf would be exiled from the apartheid state of Israel and the Occupied West Bank; upon this agreement, the military judge ordered Ashraf released from custody.

Young, isolated and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder in the U.S., Ashraf was convicted of two felonies in 2004, for which he received a prison term of four years.  In 2006, Ashraf was convicted of a third felony which, although neither serious nor violent, mandated that he be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison under California’s Three Strikes Law.  Faced with the reality that he would be spending his life in prison, Ashraf focused on rehabilitation: earning his GED and associate of arts degree and working towards his bachelor’s degree, completing 600 hours of training to serve as a mentor to other inmates, becoming a team leader with the Alternatives to Violence project (AVP), becoming certified as a drug and alcohol addiction counselor, and organizing and facilitating an Islam-based 12-step substance abuse program.

In 2013, a superior court judge found that Ashraf was deserving of re-sentencing under Proposition 36, a voter-approved reform to California’s Three Strikes Law, and modified his last sentence to 6 years.  Having served his entire sentence, Ashraf was released from state prison and immediately transferred to immigration custody for deportation from the U.S.  The Department of Homeland Security issued an order of removal against him, but, as a stateless Palestinian, he did not have a passport, and Israel declined to accept him for return.  After seven months in immigration custody, an asylum officer agreed that Ashraf has a reasonable fear of return to the apartheid State Israel and the West Bank and placed him in removal proceedings to fight deportation.

AROC agreed to represent Ashraf, on a pro bono basis, not only to fight his removal from the U.S., but also to seek release from the prolonged and indefinite detention he was facing in DHS custody, through a request to the immigration court and a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court.  After appearing with Ashraf at the immigration court to indicate that he would be seeking withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture, AROC was successful in seeking a bond hearing for Ashraf.  On August 26, 2014, he was granted bond by the San Francisco Immigration Court and – after ten years in state prison and one year in DHS custody – he was released that evening to his family and community!

AROC will continue to represent Ashraf in his removal proceedings, to ensure that he is not deported from the U.S. to either the Apartheid state of Israel or Occupied Palestine, where he faces certain arrest, detention, torture and death.

 

 

ANNOUNCING AROC’S NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR!

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Dear AROC community members and allies,

We are extremely pleased to announce that Lara Kiswani will be joining AROC as Executive Director beginning August 1, 2012.  A Bay Area native, Lara has been involved in community activism for many years.  She brings with her the talent, experience, and vision necessary for helping lead AROC’s fight for racial and social justice for our communities.

Lara Kiswani is a Palestinian raised in the Bay Area.  She has organized with antiwar, immigrant rights, feminist, community, youth and student organizations.  She also worked as a youth and adult educator in nonprofits and schools.  Lara completed her undergraduate studies at UC Davis, majoring in International Relations with an emphasis on Peoples and Nationalities, also helping to establish the Middle East South Asia minor.  She earned an MA in Education at SFSU where her research focused on Palestinian American youth identity, language and decolonization.

“I am so excited for this new phase of AROC, and the energy and enthusiasm that Lara will bring to the organization.  She has already shown a commitment to the organization and our mission, and is going to be an incredible addition to AROC’s team.  I know that the AROC Collective will thrive with her addition and I’m looking forward to working with Lara on the Collective as I leave my position as Director and transition to a new role within AROC.” Lily Haskell, AROC’s Program Director

AROC has been in a careful 8-month planning process for this transition. Moving into the summer, Lara will be joining AROC staff, Collective, and Members at meetings and community events. Starting on August 1st, Lara and Lily will work together to ensure a smooth transition in the AROC office.  We will be planning a “meet and greet” event and will keep you posted on the date. During this transitional time, we invite questions and support from our wider AROC community.

AROC has invited several community leaders to join our Collective as a Transition Team for a 6 month period to help advise and support Lara and the AROC staff.  These are individuals who have supported AROC over the years, or are former Collective members, and offer skills or experience that will help the organization continue to thrive.  We encourage you to contact any of the current Collective members/staff or our new Collective Transition Team if you have any questions.

“I am eager to continue my work with AROC in my new capacity as executive director.  Having been active in the organization, I admire its solid political vision and its commitment to grounding itself in the struggles and experiences of communities. I look forward to contributing to this work and building on these efforts with the AROC staff and collective.” Lara Kiswani, incoming AROC Executive Director

We look forward to your support in this new phase of our work and encourage your involvement!

In unity,

AROC Collective


AROC Collective

Miriam Zouzounis

Amria Ahmed

Ashwak Hauter

Sami Kitmitto

Alia Ghabra

Lubna Morrar

Ramsey El-Qare

Christina Nesheiwat

Lily Haskell

Collective Transition Team

Heba Nimr

Senan Khairie

Maherah Silmi

Reem Assil

Ramiz Rafeedie

Nancy Hormachea

Nadia Babella

Rama Kased

Monadel Herzallah

Please contact the AROC office at 415.861.7444 for contact information of any individuals listed, or for other information.

AROC is Hiring An Immigration Program Coordinator

Legal and Outreach Coordinator (20-25 hours)

Description:

The Legal and Outreach Coordinator will be responsible for working with staff attorney to support case work, and administration of Arab American Legal Services (AALS), San Francisco’s first free immigration service for the Arab community. The Coordinator would be responsible also for outreach and education as related to legal services and immigrant rights.

Background:

AALS is a program of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, a grassroots organization working to empower and organize our community towards justice and self-determination for all. AROC members build community power in the Bay Area by participating in leadership development, political education, and campaigns.

The immigration legal program was started in 2007 in conjunction with the San Francisco Immigrant Legal Education Network (http://sfimmigrantnetwork.org/) a Network of 14 multi-racial organizations working in outreach, organizing, education and legal services to provide comprehensive support to San Francisco’s immigrant communities.

Principal duties and responsibilities: (Allocation of time subject to change.)

  • Administrative Support of Legal Program (50%)
    • Development and upkeep of client tracking systems, including filing system and database
    • Communication with clients, including intakes and appointment setting
    • Communication with attorney for changing administrative support needs, including ongoing development and maintenance of case-related intake form and checklists, e.g.
    • Support attorney with case work, including filling immigration forms, indexing supporting documents, conducting client interviews, attending legal clinics (currently two regular clinic days per week), opening and closing files, etc.
  • Responsibilities to SF Immigrant Legal Education Network (15%)
    • Attend monthly meetings for Outreach and Legal teams
    • Communicate with SFILEN about assigned organizational tasks
    • Coordinate community workshops with help of attorney for AROC and SFILEN outreach organizations
    • Attend community fairs for outreach and education on behalf of Network
    • Act as liaison between SFILEN and legal director, attorney and program director
    • Monthly reporting and form maintenance for SFILEN network
  • Outreach and Education (35%)
    • Plan and execute Know Your Rights workshops
    • Develop new educational and outreach materials as needed
    • Consistent outreach to Tenderloin area (stores, mosques, service agencies)
    • Creatively publicize program and develop relationships with community leaders, other service providers, etc.
    • Provide clients with opportunities to get involved in other AROC programs, mobilizations around immigrant rights, and advocacy on a local and regional level

Skills and Qualifications:

  • Bilingual Arabic/English (strongly preferred)
  • Legal experience, or strong interest in immigration law and ability to learn, understand and “translate” legal terms into common language
  • 1-2 years office administration; creating and maintaining office organization systems, filing…
  • Ability to produce quality written work product, including letters and outreach materials
  • Workshop facilitation, public speaking, or teaching/education experience
  • Computer skills: databases and data entry, MS Office, graphic design/web design (preferred)
  • Self-Motivated, communicates well with co-workers, able to work in small team
  • Commitment to working with multi-racial coalitions
  • Commitment to racial and economic justice, and immigrant rights
  • Experience in organizing, political advocacy or activism (preferred)

Compensation:

  • $15-16/hour
  • 20-25 hours a week (up to 30 depending on schedule)
  • Flexible schedule, weekdays.
  • 50% health insurance provided

To Apply:

  • Send resume and cover letter detailing experiences to ashwak@araborganizing.org
  • Qualified applicants will be asked to submit references
  • Deadline for applications is June 22nd, 2012 (please submit as soon as possible, applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis)
  • Applicants are welcome to email with questions. No calls please.

People of color, women, LGBTQ and immigrant candidates strongly encouraged to apply.

Arab Resource and Organizing Center, a project of Tides Center, is an equal opportunity employer. We strongly encourage and seek applications from women, people of color, including bilingual and bicultural individuals, as well as members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. Applicants shall not be discriminated against because of race, religion, sex, national origin, ethnicity, age, disability, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, color, marital status, medical condition (cancer-related) or conditions Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and AIDS-related conditions (ARC). Reasonable accommodation will be made so that qualified disabled applicants may participate in the application process. Please advise in writing of special needs at the time of application.

An Update on Our Immigration Services

nourAfter 2 years of service, AROC’s Immigration Attorney, Nour Chammas, will be leaving the organization.  We are working to find another highly qualified Immigration Attorney to take this position.  We will be working with an interim attorney to ensure that our clients’ needs continue to be met.  Please continue reading to see a letter from Nour or contact us for more information about this transition. Continue reading

APPLY NOW | Deadline to apply for AROC ED position: March 15

Please help AROC find qualified candidates for this position. Spread the word to your networks! AROC is a membership based organization led by a Collective comprised of paid staff and volunteer members. Volunteer members of the Collective and AROC General Members contribute much of the programmatic work and political direction of the organization. The Executive Director will be responsible for providing organizational leadership, fundraising, program supervision, and operational management within the context of this Collective structure. While many of the duties involve operations and fundraising, we are looking for a dynamic person who is interested and able to contribute to all aspects of the organization, including our programmatic work.

Continue reading

AROC is Hiring: Immigration Attorney

Description: The Staff Attorney will be responsible for providing free immigration legal services to primarily Arab and Muslim clients through Arab American Legal Services (AALS), San Francisco’s first free immigration service for the Arab community.  The Staff Attorney will also supervise the casework of the Legal and Outreach Coordinator and law student interns, collaborate with a Network of organizations on community education trainings, and participate in coalition and other collaborative activities aimed to educate, organize, and advocate on behalf of the community. Continue reading

Announcing Staff Changes at AROC

After five years of hard work and true dedication, our Program Director, Lily Haskell, will be leaving AROC in the late Summer (Sept 2012).  No words can truly express our appreciation for Lily’s dedication to the work, which has left a lasting impact on our lives. Lily has been more than just a co-worker, she is family. We have grown together experiencing ups and downs in our organizing and personal lives. We wish her new found success wherever life takes her. Continue reading