Global Justice WG – Meeting Minutes – Wednesday, Feb. 29 2012

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OWS Global Justice Working Group – February 29 meeting

Agenda:

  1. Israeli Apartheid Week –  notes and comments
  2. Occupy AIPAC – notes and comments
  3. Movement for Justice in El Barrio - International Women’s Day Celebration event
  4. Occupy Town Square-  report back
  5. Iran meeting report back
  6. Bahrain solidarity
  7. Land day/tear gas
  8. US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation -  action alert – tear gas
  9. ad-hoc clusters for passing resolutions about iran and BDS

 

Attendance: 11

Israeli Apartheid Week:

P2: we should keep the resource list we put together

P9: we didn’t really succeed in outreach to the OWS community

P7: it’s a long-term effort so we don’t need to declare failure

P6: Let’s make better use of OWS outreach resources

P4: OWS outreach and movement building clusters are crystalizing so we need to join in on them. We also need to think more about how to get OWS people’s attention – to rise above the noise of all the activity.

P3: Just talking to other working groups about BDS will help build involvement in the community.

P7: we should spend more time thinking about what will it take to make people interested in international solidarity.

 

Occupy AIPAC:

Udi is going, and Nancy is presenting there.

 

Movement for Justice in El Barrio:

P6: they’re doing an event on March 8 for international women’s day, and the RSVP deadline is tomorrow so we need to commit to who will attend.

P4: Here in NY they have at least 800 people and their activity is very important, and their outreach is very effective. We should definitely stay engaged with them.

P6: I will send another reminder to the email list tonight.

 

Occupy Town Square:

P2: we need to think of what we can do more than tabling because people were not really coming to us for flyers. We need to have a more creative action.

P9: if we dance and sing, people will notice us.

P4: we can dance and sing with gas masks.

P2: we can have a wall or a checkpoint for people going in and out of OTS. tabling with gas masks on.

P3: We can have a paper machet globe.

 

Iran:

P4: The local Iran group is still working on their internal deliberations: name, points of unity, etc. We can help them in any way they need. The meeting with London fell through.

P3: London did get evicted.

P4: I feel that once we have some initiative, the Iranians will probably join in and contribute. People in Iran are very scared and it’s going to be very difficult to stage any direct action there.

P9: Even though non-Iranians don’t have much to say in their self-defining deliberations, I think we should stay engaged and informed with what they’re doing.

P4: A briefing: this is a group of Iranians who are specifically anti-war, anti-sanctions and also anti-regime. Other Iranian groups have struck strange alliances, either supporting the Iranian regime, or allying with neo-cons. They’re open to teaming up with international activist in the radical left.

P1: A lot of activists that were involved in the anti-iraq war movement are disillusioned because the largest protest in history was a month before the beginning of the war in Iraq.

P3: In London a lot of people that never were active before the Iraq war got involved before the war, so even if it didn’t stop it, it’s effective in building a movement.

P1: Maybe we should avoid taking on the Iranian regime, because it’s a contentious issue.

P4: This group of Iranians feels that the campaign against war in Iraq was completely external, and they feel that the same dynamic is detrimental to the effort. they are trying to strike up solidarity with the Iranian people first and foremost. In Israel politicians will not touch this issue because it’s risky. if we can sway public opinion, maybe we might clear the space for politicians to take political risks.

 

Bahrain Solidarity:

P1: Thanks you for inviting me. I was very moved and impressed at the tear gas teach in. Bahrain is the smallest country in the middle east, but one statistic that’s interesting is that per-capita there are the most people killed. We at the American Council for Freedom in Bahrain organized a national rally in DC last April that got good coverage, and there was an Op-Ed by the king of Bahrain in the washington times the following week. they follow what we do. so because it’s a small country, everything is more controllable. I think people should care here because this issue so blatantly shows the US government’s hypocrisy. If that’s exposed it could foster mistrust of the government. Form an American activist standpoint: (1) the U.S. still has an international reputation as standing up for human rights. (2) the movement is growing. we just had a good 1 year anniversary event. Witness Bahrain is a new effort. We have a lot of support from local academics who can help us with university resources. We could hold all kinds of events about Bahrain.

P4: we have many important events. How do we tie this to Egypt, Palestine/Israel, etc. in a way that makes sense to occupiers and other people in a way that they can understand? How can we break through the media blackout and make it main stream?

P8: We need to show how the MIC in the US is connected to the MIC in all these other countries in the middle east. We can speak to how the military budget is the biggest part of the federal budget and all this money is being sent overseas. We should make a connection between the cuts in education and other services domestically and all the money that goes to the military and to prop up oppressive regimes in the middle east.

P6: Remind everyone to police chief John Timmeny from Miami, who’s training the police in Bahrain. Any US activists in the US are familiar with his human rights records here, will be interested.

P2: we should connect to whoever organized the actions for “Don’t suppress OWS”

P1: People are really shocked when they discover how many military bases the US has around Iran and in general. We should make this map available.

P7: To continue thinking about these connections: we’ve been doing just that – connecting domestic cuts to military spending. There’s a lot of material about police connections to middle east oppression. There’s a fordham event on saturday against police oppression here in NYC.

P3: it sounds like all this needs to be fitted into a visual framework – a map or a diagram that we can put on the web site, and present at events.

P10: Reminder: the question is whether we have the capacity to produce an event. I think one of the most overlooked connections is the economic connection to Saudi Arabia and the oil – that is the importance of Bahrain. I think that we need to highlight Saudi Arabia when we talk about Bahrain. It would be a good access point for American audience, because they know a little more about Saudi Arabia than about Bahrain, and have thought more about where their oil comes from.

P1: The 5th fleet is tasked with keeping the straits of Hormuz open. It’s part of the discourse about war with Iran and Iranian influence on the Bahraini regime, which was proved to be completely independent of Iran.

P4: I think a panel can be a good event, but we often get lost in details of any specific event or action, but we don’t have larger view of our objectives and our strategy. A lot of people receive our messages, but don’t really retain them, and that doesn’t really impact the political landscape. We need to think about a campaign, not just an event.

P2: q: I didn’t understand what Ali was proposing or asking us. Do you already have an event planned? There’s a difference between our OWS WG organizing an event, and bringing people to your event.

P1+P6:  no – there’s no event planned.

P1: we did an advocacy day. the next plan is to go after the PR firms that work for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. There are examples of PR firms who stepped away from business because of ethical reasons. we could collaborate on that.

P10: we already have one campaign in the works: tear gas. we have a plan to bring it up on land day, but we can also steer it in the direction of Bahrain.

P6: this is an ongoing conversation. we should continue it.

P2: we talk about Bahrain when we discuss tear gas, so it’s already on our radar. this is the beginning of something that will have multiple iterations. the next iteration is land day, and the following one could be about Bahrain.

P7: in general, to help us clarify and figure out capacity: the difference between playing a major role in producing an event and supporting someone else’s event is substantial. we can definitely support any campaign or event that you produce.

 

Land Day – Tear Gas:

P2: On our tear gas subgroup conference call we decided on a land day event. we hoped that by today there would be some suggestions for a venue. there isn’t. we have another meeting planned for Monday.

P8: q: I saw the tear gas report we put together. how much do people in the US (outside of OWS) know about all this stuff?

P2: this brings us to the US campaign against tear gas. We could create a google news alert so we can track media on it. the topic has gotten more interest and there’s more news reporting about it (including Bahrain). The US campaign to end the occupation of Palestine is mobilizing people to track the licensing state of tear gas manufacturers selling tear gas to Israel.

P10: one of the things we’ve tried to do is link tear gas in the middle east to domestic militarization of police, so that is a certain access point for communities here that have been impacted by police militarization.

P2: we’re specifically looking for venues that are uptown – Harlem and the Bronx – so that we can connect to people that have experiences with the police.

P7: the divide on awareness is not necessarily between as activists and the main stream but rather between people who see the police as there to protect them to those who see the police as a threat.

P5: very few people in the US are actually following the US of tear gas. Our group sees tear gas as a great tool to raise awareness because it’s used both domestically and abroad. we try to connect those dots. we try to inform the OWS community and then leverage the media attention that OWS has to carry the message further.

P6: one of the reasons i’m here is to try to put public pressure on the companies, and to make it bad business to be the suppliers of the products of killing and police militarization.

P1: there is a group of people in the main stream who just don’t care about international issues and they are not our audience. there are others who might be sympathetic to our message, but we are not in their attention span. College students are a good audience. Targeting them may be a slower process but it may be important.

P2: p: can someone follow a google alert on tear gas?

P9: we can have it go to the list. one a day

P2: q: is there anything else we can do about the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation’s action alert letter writing campaign?

P7: q: what is this call about?

P2: the US campaign is asking people to call or send a letter to your rep to tell them to investigate Israel when reviewing export licenses for tear gas producers.

P8: congress just passed additional military aid to egypt, which includes live ammunition and tear gas.

P7: we can do things that are dramatic and call a lot of attention. we can do more than get people to end those letters, if we get more people’s attention.

P2: p: spend a day at 60 wall and get people to call their representative.

P4: the ron paul video against war was very effective. we can do something like that, and at the end link to the letter writing campaign.

P8: I worked on the movie “made in the usa” about tear gas. people who see it get very excited. Patrick Leahy was the only person (senator) who spoke about it.

P4: we need to decide if we want to devote the time to create a video for this.

P2: I’m not sure we are that effective as the GJWG on Facebook. we could be more effective in person at 60 Wall.

P1: the threshold for US representatives to do something about an issue is if they get 50 calls/letters about something. our strategy is to work district by district to get 50 people to participate.

P10: this is too much of a time crunch to produce something effective. we all resolve to promote this ourselves on our social networks.

 

Ad-Hoc Cluster for BDS:

P6: for we need to decide if we endorse BDS.

P10: it’s been endorsed. (no blocks)

P9: we should promote a statement against war in Iran as an early exercise for working as a cluster and passing a resolution through the GA.

P4: The movement building and outreach clusters are the obvious places to start exploring this. we need to figure out how to reach out to people who are not already on board. maybe BDS is not the best strategic step. We need to appeal to the “J-Street crowd.”

P9: the last outreach cluster meeting was not really a working meeting, but more of a training session.

P7: what’s the benefit of going to the GA?

P5: Movement building cluster is tomorrow night at Judson 8-10pm. it’s doubling as a meeting for the occupy the northeast bus tour. there will probably be room for announcements.  That’s what these forums are good for. We need to be more proactive about getting our projects on the agenda for those clusters.

P6: we don’t have to go to the GA, but Oakland did and it got a lot of media coverage for that. The Park Slope Food coop is getting a lot of coverage for the BDS campaign there.

P3: going to the GA will get a conversation going, and also the Anti-War WG asked about it.

P5: The movement building cluster is involved with the international InterOcc so we should keep that in mind as a vehicle for this.

 

Anna and Jeanne will spearhead inreach to connect to other working groups.

 

Drones:

P2: it dovetails well on the tear gas model: follow US made products and how they impact.

P1: which countries are affected?

Bahrain, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, The Philippines, …

P4: my friends protested in Hebron (about 500 people) and they faced tear gas, but they also used the sound cannon LRAD, and before it was used, they played a commercial ad for the company.

 

 

next meeting:

P2: let’s take next wednesday off because we have a tear gas meeting on monday and Adalah NY is protesting Bat Sheva dance company on Wednesday night.

P6: let’s have a session about strategy and vision in our next meeting.

 

Agreement: March 7 – no GJWG meeting. the following meeting will be at the regular time, but the format might be more casual, including food. details to be figured out online. Ezer and Jeanne will spearhead the planning of the strategy session.

 

Announcement:

P1: Fordham alumni have Ray Kelly speak this saturday. This rally is against NYPD surveillance against the muslim community, stop&frisk, OWS. Saturday 11am at Cipriani – 55 Wall st.

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