FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

New Leaders Surface in Wave of Texas Protests

by

The young adults who helped coordinate the Texas Stands With Gaza rally of over 5,000 people set a precedent for twenty-somethings across the United States who want the occupation of Palestine to end. Veteran activists like UT Professor Snehal Shingavi and ICPR‘s Bernice Hecker played a central role in preparing and executing this action, but the large numbers that converged in front of the Texas State Capitol last Saturday can only be explained by the new organizing talent coming out of Texan schools and cities.

Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada has argued that internet literacy has made the Millennial generation more receptive to Palestinian voices: “How many young people on college campuses get their news from the PBS NewsHour or the ABC nightly news or from CNN? Not that many that I meet. The mass media still has a big impact, but I think among young people, they’re not turning to those. They’re turning to media that is uncensored, where the gatekeepers cannot shut out the Palestinian narrative. That’s why public relations like Israel’s cannot ultimately change the direction that this is going.” Dina Kesbeh, a recent graduate of the University of Houston, echoed this observation.“We’ve come to realize that people go straight to Twitter or Facebook for their latest information on Gaza, completely skipping the conventional routes,” she said. Jauzey Imam of UT Austin’s Palestine Solidarity Committee says that proficiency in new media can be empowering as well: “I don’t think technology is a silver bullet to solving these problems, but I do think there are certain areas where young organizers can tap into technology that might bolster those tried and tested organizing methods—through social media, various web applications, and so on.” Tactics used for organizing the August 2nd rally included sharing a Facebook profile picture and the hashtag #TexasStandsWithGaza on Twitter.

The statewide rally wielded the momentum built by earlier protests held around Texas, all coordinated in part by student organizations. The night before the rally, Sana Anam Khawaja Anwar, a member of North Texas BDS, said: “We are hoping to have our voices heard by our elected officials in Texas and beyond in Washington DC. We want fellow Texans, Americans, and the rest of the world to see that we cannot and will not tolerate our own country’s support of Israel while it commits war crimes against the population of Gaza.” Ahmad Kaki, a student at Texas Lutheran University, reiterated this responsibility. “Texans have an obligation to show solidarity with Palestine,” he said.

The day of the rally, young people unloaded and distributed the bottles of water, protest merchandise, and organizational information, and cleaned up the litter after the event was over. Jasmin Ali from San Antonio and Dania Hussein of UT Austin’s PSC served as the emcees of the event, setting the stage for the guest speakers. Jasmin opened by thanking all of the organizers and invoking the crowd to “renew their intentions.” “We are here for Gaza, and we are here for the oppressed people,” she said. In her speech, Dania put the recent bombardment of Gaza in context: “If you are a six-year-old in Gaza, this is the third massacre you are witnessing.”

In the days following the rally, students at UT Austin are not wasting any time pushing the movement in Texas forward. At a meeting held on campus Wednesday night, attendees discussed the examples of Loyola University Chicago and the University of Michigan, whose student governments have tried to pass resolutions calling for their respective administrations to divest from companies involved in Israel’s war crimes. Mohammed Nabulsi, a UT Law student, compiled a list of UT’s implicated equity securities:

Corporation Name Parent Company No. of Shares (or Par Value) Value ($) Cost ($)
COCA-COLA CO. COCA-COLA 124,468 $4,707,396 $3,636,623
COCA COLA FEMSA SAB DE CV COCA-COLA 3,259 $182,164 $120,873
COCA COLA ICEK SANATI COCA-COLA 2,091 $43,751 $19,101
ESTEE LAUDER COS INC ESTEE LAUDER 22,479 $1,545,230 $1,433,638
ALSTOM PROJECTS INDIA LTD ALSTOM 241 $1,222 $3,804
CEMEX SA DE CV CEMEX 501,116 $1,756,137 $1,264,855
PROCTER & GAMBLE HYGIENE & HEALTH CARE LTD PROCTER & GAMBLE 502 $24,833 $23,715
UNILEVER INDONESIA UNILEVER 32,292 $75,507 $59,421
UNILEVER PLC UNILEVER 162,759 $6,256,494 $4,767,448
HEWLETT-PACKARD CO HEWLETT-PACKARD CO 14,686 $425,897 $548,693
UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORP UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORP 32,982 $3,760,585 $2,809,950

 

The group discussed how support for this kind of resolution at UT Austin could be raised. Protests, sit-ins, tabling at other university events, bringing in well-known commentators, and film screenings were some of the ideas suggested. Mukund Rathi, a computer science major, said that political education should be emphasized in all these strategies. Patrick Higgins, a graduate student at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, clarified how student teach-ins could be more effective as an organizing tactic than hosting celebrity speakers. “Students don’t have careers to protect, so they can reach radical conclusions more quickly,” he said.

The proposed resolution at Michigan did not pass, and the resolution at Loyola was vetoed by the student president after being passed twice. Even more discouraging for UT Austin activists is the fact that UT’s investments are handled by an external corporation, UTIMCO. This extra degree of separation makes the adoption of a divestment resolution by any UT student government seem unlikely. Still, Jauzey Imam says that the press coverage generated by the student actions at Loyola and Michigan makes fighting to pass a resolution at UT Austin worth the effort.

Joseph Caterine‘s work can be found at http://theintrusivethought.blogspot.com/.
More articles by:
Weekend Edition
November 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jonathan Cook
From an Open Internet, Back to the Dark Ages
Linda Pentz Gunter
A Radioactive Plume That’s Clouded in Secrecy
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Fires This Time
Nick Alexandrov
Birth of a Nation
Vijay Prashad
Puerto Rico: Ruined Infrastructure and a Refugee Crisis
Peter Montague
Men in Power Abusing Women – What a Surprise!
Kristine Mattis
Slaves and Bulldozers, Plutocrats and Widgets
Pete Dolack
Climate Summit’s Solution to Global Warming: More Talking
Mike Whitney
ISIS Last Stand; End Times for the Caliphate
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Darkness, Part Two
James Munson
Does Censoring Undemocratic Voices Make For Better Democracy?
Brian Cloughley
The Influence of Israel on Britain
Jason Hickel
Averting the Apocalypse: Lessons From Costa Rica
Pepe Escobar
How Turkey, Iran, Russia and India are playing the New Silk Roads
Jan Oberg
Why is Google’s Eric Schmidt So Afraid?
Ezra Rosser
Pushing Back Against the Criminalization of Poverty
Kathy Kelly
The Quality of Mercy
Myles Hoenig
A Ray Moore Win Could be a Hidden Gift to Progressives
Gerry Brown
Myanmar Conflict: Geopolitical Food Chain
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Robert Redford’s Big Game in Nairobi
Katrina Kozarek
Venezuela’s Communes: a Great Social Achievement
Zoltan Grossman
Olympia Train Blockade Again Hits the Achilles Heel of the Fracking Industry
Binoy Kampmark
History, Law and Ratko Mladić
Tommy Raskin
Why Must We Sanction Russia?
Bob Lord
Trump’s Tax Plan Will Cost a Lot More Than Advertised
Ralph Nader
National Democratic Party – Pole Vaulting Back into Place
Julian Vigo
If Sexual Harassment and Assault Were Treated Like Terrorism
Russell Mokhiber
Still Blowing Smoke for Big Tobacco: John Boehner and College Ethics
Louis Proyect
The Witchfinders
Ted Rall
Sexual Harassment and the End of Team Politics
Anna Meyer
Your Tax Dollars are Funding GMO Propaganda
Barbara Nimri Aziz
An Alleged Communist and Prostitute in Nepal’s Grade Ten Schoolbooks!
Myles Hoenig
A Ray Moore Win Could be a Hidden Gift to Progressives
Graham Peebles
What Price Humanity? Systemic Injustice, Human Suffering
Kim C. Domenico
To Not Walk Away: the Challenge of Compassion in the Neoliberal World
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Giving Thanks for Our Occupation of America?
Christy Rodgers
The First Thanksgiving
Charles R. Larson
Review: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “We Were Eight Years in Power”
David Yearsley
On the Road to Rochester, By Bike
November 23, 2017
Kenneth Surin
Discussing Trump Abroad
Jay Moore
The Failure of Reconstruction and Its Consequences
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Trout and Ethnic Cleansing
John W. Whitehead
Don’t Just Give Thanks, Pay It Forward One Act of Kindness at a Time
Chris Zinda
Zinke’s Reorganization of the BLM Will Continue Killing Babies
David Krieger
Progress Toward Nuclear Weapons Abolition
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail