Statement on the Violent Arrest at a UW-Madison Israeli Protest

On February 13 a UW student was subjected to a violent arrest while protesting against companies that supply the Israeli military that had representatives at a campus recruiting event.

From an article published by the Daily Cardinal on February 20th:

    “University of Wisconsin-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and other pro-Palestine student groups protested the presence of weapons manufacturing companies at an engineering career fair on Feb. 13.

    Three companies at the fair — BAE Systems, Caterpillar and General Dynamics — all have alleged ties to the Israeli military.”

The full text of the Daily Cardinal article is below.

We believe that the arrest of the student was done with undue violence and aggression.  There is never any excuse for police violence against non-violent protesters.

The student was issued a citation by the UW Police Department and the University is pursuing additional disciplinary measures against the student.

The student has asked not to be named publicly, but is asking for support from those who stand in solidarity with Palestine to publicize the video, and contact the UW to explicitly demand that the University of Wisconsin:

    ·Drop all sanctions and disciplinary measures against the student
    ·Cease allowing war profiteers at recruiting events on campus
    ·Revise or repeal the rules governing student protesters that enable police violence
    ·Condemn any form of violence against non-violent protesters

The UW Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards can be reached by email at conduct@studentaffairs.wisc.edu or by phone at 608.263.5701.

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Pro-Palestine groups protest arms manufacturers at UW-Madison engineering career fair

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Photo by Julian Morales | The Daily Cardinal

 
University of Wisconsin-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and other pro-Palestine student groups protested the presence of weapons manufacturing companies at an engineering career fair on Feb. 13.

Three companies at the fair — BAE Systems, Caterpillar and General Dynamics — all have alleged ties to the Israeli military.

“The university shouldn’t be allowing a company that actively participates in war crimes or actively helps an apartheid state to recruit students,” said a protester who asked to remain anonymous. “It is saying that they do not actually value the lives of Palestinian students.”

BAE Systems has been accused of providing Israel with white phosphorus, a dangerous chemical restricted under international law, according to The Defense Post. Caterpillar and General Dynamics have been accused of supplying weapons and vehicles to the Israeli military.

UW-Madison said it cannot “prohibit participation of employers that meet the criteria for [the] career fair” because it is a public institution.

An employer must be “actively hiring for engineering majors that the university offers” in order to participate in the career fair, UW-Madison Media Relations and Strategic Communications Director Kelly Tyrell said in an email to the Cardinal. According to the university’s recruiting policy, a company can only have their privilege to recruit revoked if they withhold information about the job, mishandle student data or act unprofessional.

Career Services posted attendance guidelines before the protest, according to an image from UW-Madison Anticolonial Scientists.

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Courtesy UW-Madison Anticolonial Scientists

UWPD arrests one protester, shoves another

Two UW Police Department officers were asked to provide security at the fair because “several protesters attempted to disrupt the event and enter the building with items that are not permitted in university buildings,” according to UWPD spokesman Marc Lovicott. He also said university police “made multiple requests for the group to leave.”

Video footage by Latine student organization Mecha de UW-Madison shows an officer shoving a protester to the ground during the protest. Footage provided by SJP also showed the officer handcuffing a separate protester and pushing them against a wall.

Lovicott said the protester in the Mecha de UW-Madison video was “physically blocked by a UWPD officer, causing them to be brought to the ground.” UWPD is currently investigating the altercation, according to Lovicott.

The detained protester was later issued a citation and released.

Campus reactions

Some students have criticized UWPD since the protest. Graffiti in the sixth-floor women’s bathroom of the Mosse Humanities building criticized the incident, calling the actions of the UWPD an attack on free speech.

“I’ve been feeling horrified ever since,” one anonymous eyewitness to the protest, who asked to remain anonymous, said. “If [UWPD] can assault people just for having a megaphone, it makes me feel really unsafe at this school.”

Several student organizations released statements denouncing UWPD’s actions.

UW-Madison Anticolonial Scientists, an organization that promotes diversity and anticolonialism in scientific study, said in a statement the university’s response was anti-free speech and an endorsement of genocide against Gazans.

SJP said in a statement that the university must “take action and accountability regarding the lack of protection towards protesters.”

Tyrell said the university “strongly values free speech and provides support for protest activities that take place on campus.” UW-Madison follows protest response procedures in the events of demonstrations that “disrupt the academic mission” of the university or “threaten campus or personal safety.”

Student-led pro-Palestinian protests have occurred across the nation since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel.

At Columbia University, student protesters were sprayed with an Israeli-developed “skunk” chemical, according to Al Jazeera. And at the University of Michigan, campus police arrested forty protesters in November for refusing to leave the office of university President Santa Ono.

UW-Madison Anticolonial Scientists said students should continue advocating for the exclusion of weapons manufacturing companies at campus career fairs.

“Do your part to become informed, talk to everyone you know, organize to get weapons manufacturers banned from future career fairs and show the university that the current protest rules are unreasonable,” UW-Madison Anticolonial Scientists told the Cardinal.

Anticolonial Scientists held another protest at Engineering Hall on Feb. 19.

TAA Statement on Palestine: “A Call for Palestinian Liberation”

 
TAA Statement on Palestine: “A Call for Palestinian Liberation”

The following statement was written and approved by the general membership of the TAA on November 15th, 2023.

A Call for Palestinian liberation

WHEREAS The Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA; AFT [American Federation of Teachers] Local 3220) recognizes that the Zionist Israeli state is a reactionary tool of Western imperialism, funded for their own cynical aims. Israel can accurately be described as an apartheid state, as documented by many human rights experts and organizations, including UN officials, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International agree with this description.

WHEREAS Israel’s response to Hamas’ attack has been indiscriminate and disproportionate violence toward Palestinians. As of November 13, 2023, Israel has murdered over 11,000 Palestinians, nearly half being children. Upon his recent resignation, the Director of the New York Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Craig Mokhiber, stated that Israel’s actions are “a textbook case of genocide.”

WHEREAS Israel’s bombing campaign has been carried out without regard for the lives of hostages, further exposing the cynicism of justifications based on the October 7 attack. Similarly, American liberal and progressive politicians continue to cry crocodile tears for the victims of Hamas and remain silent on the victims of Netanyahu.

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WHEREAS Israel’s genocidal attacks are exacerbating the inhumane living conditions and mass unemployment in Gaza. The civilians of Palestine deserve fundamental human rights, including, but not limited to, security, freedom from foreign occupation, access to housing, clean water, healthcare, and employment. 

WHEREAS The October 9 press release from AFT National, titled, “US Education Leaders Condemn Hamas Attack, Stand with Israeli People,” and the resolution recently adopted by [American Federation of Teachers]–Wisconsin (AFT–W) inadequately condemn Israel’s colonialist regime and fail to acknowledge colonialism as the root cause of the current conflict. These statements fail to use the terms, “colonialism,” “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “genocide” to characterize Israel and its actions, which is out of step with several human rights experts/organizations and undermines the severity of Israel’s oppression. Furthermore, these statements fail to call on the US government to halt the sale and funding of arms for Israeli forces. Unless we address the core of this conflict and end our support for the Israeli offensive, the US will remain complicit in the occupation and genocide in Palestine. Given the status quo of US support for Israel’s oppression of Palestine, the shortcomings of AFT’s statements make them pro-Israel and anti-Palestine by default. Therefore, be it;

RESOLVED The TAA considers Israeli and Western imperialism ultimately responsible for the recent violence.

RESOLVED The TAA condemns Israel’s settler colonialism, apartheid, occupation, ethnic cleansing, and genocide in Palestine. We condemn Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of Gaza, which has been a death sentence for thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians and has displaced over a million more. This collective lethal punishment breaks international law and constitutes war crimes.

RESOLVED We call for the collective liberation of the Palestinian people from Israeli oppression. 

RESOLVED We stand in solidarity with the following people:

  1. The people of Palestine, who have suffered at the hands of US, British, and Israeli imperialism for over 100 years;
  2. Palestinian trade unions who have called on the international working class to take action in the face of Israel’s assault on Gaza and the mass killing of the Palestinian people;
  3. Israeli workers and unions who break with their ruling class to stand unconditionally on the side of the oppressed;
  4. The many Jewish workers around the world who condemn Zionism and stand steadfast with Palestinians;
  5. Victims of oppression on the basis of religion or ethnicity around the world including victims of rising islamophobia and antisemitism.

RESOLVED We demand the US government and the Biden administration use all available diplomatic means to end the genocide of Palestinians, including but not limited to ending all funding and arms sales to the Israeli government. We must immediately end our moral and material support for Israel’s human rights abuses and war crimes.

RESOLVED We condemn the US veto of a ceasefire resolution brought forward by Brazil to the UN Security Council to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. We are appalled that the US was the only country to veto the resolution. Although a ceasefire doesn’t go nearly far enough, this is the bare minimum that we expect from the UN.

RESOLVED We call on workers in the US to organize to halt any production and shipment of weapons to Israel. Organized action and the building of mass movements by the international working class will be necessary to end the occupation. We should take inspiration from the two Intifadas, as well as the American workers who have already physically obstructed the shipment of arms to Israel from ports in the Northwest.

RESOLVED We demand that the University of Wisconsin system direct the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) to divest the ~$512 million (as of 2021) that the UW system has invested in BlackRock, the massive US-based asset manager that owns large portions of weapon manufacturers and military contractors such as Boeing ($5.42 billion), Lockheed Martin ($5.13 billion), Northrop Grumman ($3.06 billion), and General Dynamics ($2.47 billion). These US companies manufacture the weapons, jets, and surveillance systems that the Israeli government uses to kill Palestinians.

RESOLVED We demand that AFT retract its endorsement of genocide enabler Joe Biden for US president in 2024 given his administration’s complicity in war crimes. He is a particularly ruthless cheerleader of Israeli war crimes, even among the American ruling class. The same should be done for all endorsements of anti-Palestine politicians.

RESOLVED The TAA action commits to the following actions:

  1. Mobilize our membership to participate in rallies, protests, and marches in support of Palestine, including but not limited to: hosting events, amplifying Palestinian voices (including by supporting SJP events and by supporting the demands of the BDS movement in a reiteration of the TAA’s existing position), and to contact representatives in support of a ceasefire in Gaza and for collective liberation for the Palestinian people.
  2. Continue to recognize that an injury to one is an injury to all, and that the American working class will never be free while Palestine is in chains;
  3. Refuse to support politicians and parties that oppose Palestinian liberation;
  4. Call on the labor movement as a whole to mobilize its resources to fight American imperialism on all fronts.
  5. Protect and support all workers and organizations (such as Students for Justice in Palestine and Madison for Palestine) who face retaliation due to their support for Palestinian liberation.

Sources:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/11/10/israel-revises-death-toll-from-october-7-hamas-attack-to-1200-people

https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/04/27/threshold-crossed/israeli-authorities-and-crimes-apartheid-and-persecution

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2023/10/un-expert-warns-new-instance-mass-ethnic-cleansing-palestinians-calls

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/liveblog/2023/11/13/israel-hamas-war-live-gazas-two-largest-hospitals-shut-amid-nonstop-raids#:~:text=More%20than%2011%2C200%20Palestinians%20have,stands%20at%20more%20than%201%2C200.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/oct/31/un-official-resigns-israel-hamas-war-palestine-new-york

https://www.aft.org/press-release/us-education-leaders-condemn-hamas-attack-stand-israeli-people

https://progressive.international/wire/2023-10-16-an-urgent-call-from-palestinian-trade-unions-end-all-complicity-stop-arming-israel/en

https://www.wisconsin.edu/trust-funds/download/UW-System-Trust-Funds-Fact-Sheet-As-Of-December-31,-2021.pdf

https://money.cnn.com/quote/shareholders/shareholders.html?symb=BA&subView=institutional

https://money.cnn.com/quote/shareholders/shareholders.html?symb=GD&subView=institutional

https://money.cnn.com/quote/shareholders/shareholders.html?symb=LMT&subView=institutional

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-sped-delivery-of-1000-bombs-to-israel/

https://www.lockheedmartin.com/en-il/who-we-are.html

https://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/local/pittsfield-general-dynamics-israel-hamas-palestinians-war-berkshire-communists-activists/article_ec204d1c-6ee4-11ee-8e1e-cb6121da994b.html

https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/israel-officially-asks-us-to-send-over-25-more-f-35-fighter-jets/#:~:text=The%20additional%2025%20aircraft%2C%20to,US%20military%20aid%20to%20Israel

https://money.cnn.com/quote/shareholders/shareholders.html?symb=NOC&subView=institutional

https://www.thedrum.com/news/2023/11/10/activists-boycott-pro-israel-brands-what-should-marketers-do-next