Monday, March 2, 2009

Israeli Apartheid Week

Israeli Apartheid Week begins today. There will be a discussion on NYU's Tel Aviv campus tomorrow in Kimmel. See the schedule below. For more information visit


From Johannesburg to Jerusalem: Anti-Apartheid Organizing in the US
Monday, March 2nd, 7 pm
St Mary’s Episcopal Church, 521 West 126th Street, NYC
Showing of critically acclaimed film Have You Heard from Johannesburg? Apartheid And The Club Of The West, followed by a discussion with David Wildman of the United Methodist Church and Sam Anderson, anti-apartheid activist, educator, and founding board member of The Malcom X Museum.
Event organized by the IAW New York Organizing Coalition

NYU-Tel Aviv University: A Partnership in Occupation
Tuesday, March 3rd, 8 pm
Kimmel Center, NYU (Room 802), 60 Washington Square South (between Thompson and Laguardia), NYC
Panel discussion on NYU's relationship with Tel Aviv University, featuring award-winning novelist Elias Khoury, New York University professor Andrew Ross, and Nir Harel, member of Israel's Anarchists Against The Wall.
Event organized by NYU Students for Justice in Palestine
Identification required to enter building

The Impact of Occupation: This Body Is A Prison
Wednesday, March 4th, 7:30 pm
Kimmel Center, NYU (Room 914), 60 Washington Square South (between Thompson and Laguardia), NYC
Screening of the critically acclaimed This Body Is A Prison, followed by a discussion with filmmaker Dylan Bergeson.
The film addresses the psychological impacts of growing up under occupation in different areas of the West Bank. It explores how isolation and violence existentially impact the way that children construct their sense of self. The film contains a spectrum of human experiences not commonly accessible to people in the West, as well as rare footage that takes the viewer literally inside a military invasion.
Organized by NYU Students for Justice in Palestine & the Arab Student Association at Columbia University's School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA)
Identification required to enter building

The Art of Resistance: Culture and the Boycott of Israel
Friday, March 6th, 7 pm
Judson Memorial Church, 243 Thompson St., just off of Washington Square Park, NYC
Panel discussion with best-selling author Ahdaf Soueif, founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel Omar Barghouti, and NYC poet Remi Kanazi; moderated by Brooklyn College Professor Moustafa Bayoumi.
Event organized by the IAW New York Organizing Coalition

The Israeli attack on Gaza: What is needed for a just solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict?
Saturday, March 7th, 3 pm
Judson Memorial Church Assembly Hall, 239 Thompson St. (1/2 block south of Washington Square Park), NYC
Israel’s three-week-long attack on Gaza in December and January left over 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis killed and thousands of Palestinians wounded. Israel’s bombardment left the infrastructure in Gaza in a shambles, with schools, hospitals, mosques destroyed, while Israel continues to blockade needed supplies of food, electricity and water.
Riham Barghouti, Adalah-NY, Coalition for Justice in the Middle East
Nellie Hester Bailey, Harlem Anti-War Coalition
Joel Kovel, Committee for an Open Discussion of Zionism & Author of “Overcoming Zionism”
Dorothy Zellner, Center for Constitutional Rights & “Jews Say No”
Steve Bloom, Activist Poets’ Roundtable
Moderator: Justine McCabe, Co-Chair, Green Party U.S. International Committee
Event organized by the West Side Green Party

Party Against Apartheid
Saturday, March 7th, 9 pm
Alwan for the Arts, 16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor (bet. Broad & Broadway), NYC
Event organized by the IAW New York Organizing Coalition

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One Reflection on Take Back NYU sit-in

As the days pass since the NYU student occupation of Kimmel, I have finally had a chance to read some of the press Take Back NYU! has received in response to our actions. While we have received an outpouring of support from across the globe, including student activists at major universities and renowned intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky, Take Back NYU! has also come under harsh criticism from many people who have consistently misunderstood the importance and legitimacy of the student occupation of NYU.

While much of the criticism of the student occupation has been directed at the various demands of Take Back NYU!, deeming them vague and disjointed, these critics have consistently failed to analyze the actual substance of the demands themselves. They are far from disconnected or irrelevant – each demand of the occupation stems from the same framework, one demanding accountability, transparency, and social justice for all. Not only is it a glaring oversight not to see their binding thread, but it is is crucial to recognize that all progressive social movements are inextricably linked together. As Martin Luther King made clear towards the end of his life, it was impossible to struggle within the civil rights movement without simultaneously struggling against the Vietnam war and all forms of American imperialism.

The NYU student occupiers understand that demands for disclosure of the budget are profoundly related to demands for the right of graduate students to unionize. These demands reject the notion that profit should hold primacy over individual lives and reflect a desire for democracy, transparency, and protection of human rights. The ability of the student body to hold their university accountable for their actions is only possible with disclosure of the budget. Thus, the central demand of the Take Back NYU! campaign is and always has been full disclosure. We are incapable of exerting a say in the financial decisions of the administration if we remain unaware of where the money is being spent. Knowledge of the budget is necessary for future political campaigns on campus, such as divestment from Israel. While a divestment campaign is currently building on campus, we felt that the campaign had not yet gained enough momentum to be included as one of our demands. However, our solidarity with the people of war torn Gaza and the people of Palestine as a whole remains intact, and we sought for our demands to reflect this position.

While Take Back NYU! ultimately challenged the formal means of expressing political opposition, they did not take this step from the beginning. For two years, Take Back NYU! has traveled down the traditional channels of voicing political dissent – from town hall meetings to electing a student senator on our platform – all of which consistently proved unproductive. All attempts to engage in meaningful dialogue were repeatedly ignored and never once were our grievances directly addressed. The occupation of Kimmel came as a result of two years of campaigning and two years of being pushed aside, ignored, and mocked by the NYU administration. As occupiers, Take Back NYU! attempted to push the NYU administration into a position where they could no longer run away but instead would be forced to interact with us. Unfortunately, what the occupiers did not fully understand was the degree of trickery and deceit the administration would employ to expel the students from the building. They used numerous scare tactics, from calling students’ parents threatening expulsion to turning off the power and internet connection inside the building. But worst of all was their final decision to lie and deceive the negotiators. NYU informed the occupiers they would be able to meet with the administration, and in good faith, the negotiators went into a room to begin proceedings. When they entered the room, they were denied negotiations, told they were suspended until further hearings, and could not return to the rest of the occupying students. The administration’s failure to address the students’ demands reflects the fundamental factors behind the demands themselves - the lack of democracy, transparency, and student say in how their university is run.

Most of the students engaged in this protest are on financial aid, have taken out massive loans, or work jobs to pay for their education. All of the students have acted out of sincere commitment to the values of social justice, democracy, and education. So, of all of the criticisms, what may be most disturbing is the assertion that the student protesters are privileged whiners. They have worked tirelessly to receive a quality education, one they are only seeking to improve. But a student’s economic standing is ultimately beside the point. In a democratic society, all individuals, whether or not economically privileged, have an obligation to fight for the human rights of others. Those with political, social, or economic leverage hold an ever greater responsibility to utilize their position and education as a means of helping others.

Critics of the NYU student occupation better pay attention fast or they will be left behind as this new wave of student activism emerges. The Take Back NYU! occupation was inspired by the countless other student uprisings across the globe, from Greece to the New School here in New York City. In the UK alone, there have been 25 similar student occupations. Just as Take Back NYU! has learned from these student bodies that we can assert our dissent through nontraditional channels, the NYU occupation will undoubtedly inspire other students to do the same. To every student around the world struggling against injustice and political and social domination by their schools, it is absolutely crucial to remember that your school belongs to nobody but you. There would be no school without its students. It is our duty to force schools to put students over profit, transparency over secrecy, and democracy over control by the elite. It is time to rise up and resist - reclaim your space, assert your voice, and let the world know that human lives must always hold primacy over economic gain. As students we must never forget that we are struggling together to fight the same powers that seek to oppress us. And most importantly, in the words of Frederick Douglass, we must remember that “power concedes nothing without a demand.”

C. Green

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009


The Palestinian Solidarity Coalition at NYU is co-sponsoring a picket in solidarity with the suspended students of the Kimmel sit-in. Hope you all can make it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Outside of Kimmel Center
New York, NY

Come out and support the Take Back NYU! students who recently occupied Kimmel in order to force the NYU administration to meet their demands. Their efforts reflect a brave effort to pursue badly needed democratic reform at NYU. We condemn any and all efforts to retaliate against, punish, or sanction the students involved in the sit-in.


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Friday, February 20, 2009

Another support rally at 12 noon today

There is another support rally at Kimmel today at noon. Keep checking for updates at Take Back NYU's website.

Last night's support rally had several hundred people and a lot of energy. As NYU management continues their refusal to negotiate, we all know it is critical that support and energy is sustained. We hope whoever can get there will make it....

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Democratic Solidarity Committee Supports Take Back NYU student occupation

As student members of the anti-Israeli apartheid Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions coalition campaign that is currently forming at NYU, we fully support and are participating in the Take Back NYU occupation of the Kimmel Center.

Since its completion in 2003, this so-called “student center” has been a fitting symbol for everything that is wrong with NYU. More of a citadel and platform for administrative offices, politicians, corporate mixers, and think-tank conferences, it is the least accessible to those who deserve it most: the students and workers of NYU. We have heard over and over again the NYU motto of “A Private University in the Public Service” and President John Sexton’s routine bad-faith posturing about "free exchange of ideas" as our college ideal. However, like every facet of NYU, Kimmel is organized around the key ideological principle of those who rule campus: this is an institution in the service of official society rather than the people who work and study here.

Mirroring broader trends in New York City, the administration has attempted to create what has been called “NYU Inc.”

Corporate NYU is a place where student free speech and association are routinely combated, where tuition is rising while the quality of student life is on a steady decline, where there is no financial transparency, where meaningful scholarships are few and far between, where for staff, graduate teachers, and adjunct faculty there is a race to the bottom in wages and working conditions, where the GSOC UAW local 2110 was smashed because it is the only legitimate representative of graduate teachers, where Washington Square Park is becoming the private property of NYU and long-time Village residents are evicted from their homes by one of the largest real estate owners in the city. Is this a university or a corporation?

It is no accident the NYU administration has enthusiastically supported Israeli apartheid. This is not only because NYU serves as a prominent speaking stage for Israeli politicians. It is so because John Sexton speaks of democracy and promoting the public good while vocally attacking the idea of divestment and academic boycott, most recently targeting the British University and College Union boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Sexton called it “a disavowal of the free exchange of ideas, antithetical to the values and tenets of institutions of advanced learning.” Needless to say, Palestinians under a racist system, with fewer or no political rights themselves, cannot take such “values” for granted.

The building of a study abroad program in Tel Aviv is only the most tangible example of such hypocritical commitments by the NYU administration. It is equally unsurprising that NYU is building a satellite campus in the United Arab Emirates, a dictatorship where the majority of workers have no citizenship rights at all. Perhaps John Sexton will next be lecturing the student and workers movements in the Middle East struggling against U.S.-backed dictatorships and corrupt neo-liberal elites.

Finally, we are very pleased that among the sit-in demands were those supporting NYU scholarships for Palestinians and donations to the Islamic University of Gaza, recently destroyed by the Israeli army. This is an important step in linking our struggles in the U.S., particularly among people of color and working people, with the struggles against apartheid as well as democratic struggles throughout the Middle East.

We call on people to support the Take Back NYU occupation of Kimmel and continue to support the Take Back NYU campaign, as well as the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions at NYU.

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Take Back NYU!

Following the recent occupation of New School in order to oust President Bob Kerrey, the Take Back NYU! campaign has begun a sit-in at the Kimmel Center. A support rally begins at noon today. Please come out and show your support.

For more information check the New School in Exile blog and the Take Back NYU! website. The NYU Washington Square News is also carrying ongoing updates.

Sit-in demands follow:




At approximately 10pm tonight (Feb. 18), students of Take Back NYU! took over the Kimmel Marketplace. They have blockaded the doors and declared an occupation! They presented their demands to the NYU administration. They read as follows:


We, the students of NYU, declare an occupation of this space. This occupation is the culmination of a two-year campaign by the Take Back NYU! coalition, and of campaigns from years past, in whose footsteps we follow.

In order to create a more accountable, democratic and socially responsible university, we demand the following:

1. Full legal and disciplinary amnesty for all parties involved in the occupation.

2. Full compensation for all employees whose jobs were disrupted during the course of the occupation.

3. Public release of NYU's annual operating budget, including a full list of university expenditures, salaries for all employees compensated on a semester or annual basis, funds allocated for staff wages, contracts to non-university organizations for university construction and services, financial aid data for each college, and money allocated to each college, department, and administrative unit of the university. Furthermore, this should include a full disclosure of the amount and sources of the university's funding.

4. Disclosure of NYU's endowment holdings, investment strategy, projected endowment growth, and persons, corporations and firms involved in the investment of the university's endowment funds. Additionally, we demand an endowment oversight body of students, faculty and staff who exercise shareholder proxy voting power for the university's investments.

5. That the NYU Administration agrees to resume negotiations with GSOC/UAW Local 2110 – the union for NYU graduate assistants, teaching assistants, and research assistants. That NYU publically affirm its commitment to respect all its workers, including student employees, by recognizing their right to form unions and to bargain collectively. That NYU publically affirm that it will recognize workers' unions through majority card verification.

6. That NYU signs a contract guaranteeing fair labor practices for all NYU employees at home and abroad. This contract will extend to subcontracted workers, including bus drivers, food service employees and anyone involved in the construction, operation and maintenance at any of NYU's non-U.S. sites.

7. The establishment of a student elected Socially Responsible Finance Committee. This Committee will have full power to vote on proxies, draft shareholder resolutions, screen all university investments, establish new programs that encourage social and environmental responsibility and override all financial decisions the committee deems socially irresponsible, including investment decisions. The committee will be composed of two subcommittees: one to assess the operating budget and one to assess the endowment holdings. Each committee will be composed of ten students democratically elected from the graduate and under-graduate student bodies. All committee decisions will be made a strict majority vote, and will be upheld by the university. All members of the Socially Responsible Finance Committee will sit on the board of trustees, and will have equal voting rights. All Socially Responsible Finance Committee and Trustee meetings shall be open to the public, and their minutes made accessible electronically through NYU's website. Elections will be held the second Tuesday of every March beginning March 10th 2009, and meetings will be held biweekly beginning the week of March 30th 2009.

8. That the first two orders of business of the Socially Responsible Finance committee will be:
a) An in depth investigation of all investments in war and genocide profiteers, as well as companies profiting from the occupation of Palestinian territories.
b) A reassessment of the recently lifted of the ban on Coca Cola products.

9. That annual scholarships be provided for thirteen Palestinian students, starting with the 2009/2010 academic year. These scholarships will include funding for books, housing, meals and travel expenses.

10. That the university donate all excess supplies and materials in an effort to rebuild the University of Gaza.

11. Tuition stabilization for all students, beginning with the class of 2012. All students will pay their initial tuition rate throughout the course of their education at New York University. Tuition rates for each successive year will not exceed the rate of inflation, nor shall they exceed one percent. The university shall meet 100% of government-calculated student financial need.

12. That student groups have priority when reserving space in the buildings owned or leased by New York University, including, and especially, the Kimmel Center.

13. That the general public have access to Bobst Library.

Along with this, students have issued a


We, the students of Take Back NYU! declare our solidarity with the student [sleepovers] in Greece,
Italy, and the United Kingdom, as well as those of the University of
Rochester, the New School for Social Research, and with future
[sleepovers] to come in the name of democracy and student power. We stand
in solidarity with the University of Gaza, and with the people of

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

NYU News: Students protest alleged NYU-Israel economic ties

From Washington Square News Online


About 40 people congregated outside the Silver Center earlier today to advocate for Palestinian rights in Israel. The Gaza Solidarity Rally was organized by the NYU Democratic Solidarity Committee, Students Creating Radical Change and Students for Justice in Palestine.Police officers looked on while NYU students — as well as several CUNY students, Columbia students and alumni and members of the community — held signs and shouted through megaphones, begging NYU to discontinue economic support of the country the groups call “the last colonial settler regime in the world.”

Although NYU has not disclosed their budget, which includes information about the university’s investments, students said they assumed NYU has investments in Israel. “There’s a campus opening in Tel Aviv, for example,” CAS sophomore Farah Khimji said. Khimji works with Students Creating Radical Change. While the group shouted slogans like “End the occupation now!” and “Free, free Palestine!” Chris Shortsleeve, a CAS graduate student who is involved with the Democratic Solidarity Committee, told WSN, “There is a myth that Israel is the only democracy in the east, but it’s not a democracy: it’s an ethnocracy,” According to the Democratic Solidarity Committee, countries that support Israel economically should boycott Israeli goods and services to protect Palestinian rights.

Flyers Shortsleeve gave to passers-by compare the situation in Israel to South African apartheid, which collapsed 15 years ago after countries and organizations around the world boycotted South African products and business initiatives. “This [movement] is definitely about ending apartheid and standing in support of people who have been under occupation since 1948,” Clara Green, a Gallatin senior, said. Green helped organize the rally, along with Khimji. Khimji said the groups have plans to publicize the Palestinian struggle in Gaza in the future. “The rally was the first event of many to come,” she said.

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