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Reports from the struggle

May 16, 2003 | Pages 10 and 11

Fighting racism at New York University
Defend civil liberties

Defend Palestinian rights

By Desmond Gardfrey and Jonathan Wexler

ATLANTA--About 75 people came to hear speakers from the Voices for Justice Tour, sponsored by International Solidarity Movement-Palestine and the Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East. Speakers included Atlanta resident Elizabeth Corrie, whose cousin Rachel was murdered by an Israeli bulldozer that crushed her while she was attempting to protect a Palestinian family's home.

"Rachel always stood on the side of the oppressed," said Elizabeth, who told the crowd that Rachel had spoke to the Washington state legislature to advocate an end to world hunger when she was just 10 years old.

Rachel led a walkout in support of a teacher's strike in seventh grade and was active in the antiwar movement since September 11. "She had to go to Palestine--it was her character," Elizabeth said.

Vivien Samsour, who was born in Palestine, described the daily repression and violence she faced at the hands of the Israeli military. "Going on the balcony is risking getting shot," she said. Vivien said that when she was boarding a flight to the U.S., Israeli agents pulled her out of line, strip-searched her and wouldn't let her kiss her mother goodbye.

Israeli-born Jewish activist and spoken word artist Ora Wise conveyed the urgency of fighting the right wing who are dominating Israeli politics. The Voices for Justice Tour tour will resume later this year.

Go to to find out how to bring the tour to your town.

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Fighting racism at New York University

By Candice Amich

NEW YORK--In response to a string of racist hate mails sent out over the New York University (NYU) Stern School of Business administrative list serve, students called for an emergency town hall meeting on May 5. More than 200 NYU students came together to figure out how to respond to this hate crime and NYU officials' inadequate response to the hackers' white supremacist spree.

Many students testified to racist encounters they had experienced on campus, saying that the racist e-mails were an escalation of a more subtle racism at NYU. Of a graduating class of 700, fewer than 35 Stern graduates--or 5 percent of the graduating class--are Black or Latino. Many expressed concern about next year's 7 percent tuition increase as well as the massive city budget cuts, which will disproportionately affect minority students.

At the town hall meeting, students decided to form an antiracist network and create a list of demands to present to administrators. And there's a planned protest of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's speech at this year's graduation services.

"We want the problem of racism at NYU to be recognized," said NYU student Mercedes Thurman. "We have some numerical diversity at NYU, but we're not integrated. We're still living in a very segregated society."

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Defend civil liberties

By Lee Wengraf

NEW YORK--"The war is not over!" declared activists at Operation Homeland Resistance, three days of civil disobedience action targeting the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Declaring their opposition to the "war on terrorism," the scapegoating of Muslims and Arabs, and the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, more than 80 activists were arrested at actions during the three days. "We wanted to send a message about the war abroad and the war at home," Homeland Resistance spokesperson Wol-San told Socialist Worker. "The experience of people-of-color communities is symbolic of both wars."

Operation Homeland Resistance attacked the "war on terrorism" as a thinly veiled attempt to justify detentions, "special registrations" of Arabs, attacks on civil liberties and cuts to social programs. As Monami Maulik of the immigrant rights' group Desis Rising Up & Moving put it, the growing number of immigrant detentions and deportations dates to 1996 and President Clinton's Immigrant Responsibility Act. "More than 1 million immigrants from 125 countries have been deported since 1996," said Maulik.

Activists from Racial Justice 911 and Third World Within, two groups involved in the action, plan to keep up the pressure with a May 19 protest in Times Square against the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

For info on upcoming actions, e-mail [email protected]

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