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

AROC & MECA: Feature Remi Kanazi

Photos from last week’s AROC & MECA cosponsored event. Featuring artist Remi Kanazi on the first event of his new book tour. AROC’s own Sharif Zakout was the MC for the night. Opener was local Bay Area poet Sojari Bradley. Thank you all for attending, we were able to pack the venue last week. It was a beautiful night of poetry and resistance.

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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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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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Funds for Falasteen: Community Iftar

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Arab Youth Organizing presents:

Funds for Falasteen: Community Iftar

#Youth4Palestine   #SF2Palestine

Wednesday, July 23rd

7:30pm

Arabian Nights 

2345 Mission St, SF
At this community iftar 20% of
 all proceeds made will be donated to MECA-Middle East Children’s Alliance, and to the legal support of a freedom fighter that needs our help, Rasmea Odeh.

We encourage everyone to come together as a community and to help out with raising money for our brothers and sisters in Palestine.

As space is limited we ask that everyone would RSVP a ticket for their party. This could be done at:

 https://www.eventbrite.com/e/funds-for-palestine-tickets-12313354575

info@araborganizing.org

Saturday: SF Bay Area Protest For Palestine #Youth4Palestine

AYO-Arab Youth Organization of AROC: Arab Resource & Organizing Center are calling for a protest this coming Saturday. 

Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco
(Embarcadero Bart)
12pm Noon
Saturday, July 12th

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AYO calls on our community and allies to take a stand with Palestine and let the city of San Francisco know that we demand an end to the US support of Israel and their ongoing attacks on our people throughout all of occupied Palestine.

Everyone is welcome! Bring your parents, your kids, cousins, friends, extended family! Our voices need to be heard! Never forget that our existence is our resistance!

The San Francisco Bay Area says no to zionism!
Stop US Aid to the Apartheid State of Israel!
Free all our political prisoners!
Support the Palestinian people’s struggle for liberation!

Flags, kuffiyehs, signs, banners,and megaphones are all welcome!

Hashtag #Youth4Palestine for more updates and photos and events!

Endorsed by:
ANSWER
Arab Culture and Community Center
Palestinian Youth Movement
US Palestine Community Network
Middle East Children’s Alliance
Northern California Friends of Sabeel
Al-Awda
Coalition for Palestinian Rights – SF
PAC Bay Area
Free Palestine Movement
International Jewish Antizionist Network
South Bay Mobilization
Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism
Art Forces
ISM-Northern California
Workers World Party
International Action Center
International Socialist Organization
Arab Talk Radio
Buena Vista UMC — Church & Society Committee
FreedomWriters of Northern California
Freedom Archives
BAYAN
USACBI – US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
OMID Advocates for Human Rights

Email info @ araborganizing.org to endorse.

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AYO Fundraiser

Arab Youth Organization (AYO) Fundraiser!

AYO* would like to invite you to the first AYO fundraiser!AYO Fundraiser

When: Friday, July 5th
6:30-9:30PM
Where: 518 Valencia St., SF

AYO is a grassroots youth-led organization that is greatly in need of your donations and your support. There will be dabke, hip hop, poetry, singers, speakers, artwork and t-shirts will be sold.