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Tearing Down the Walls from Occupy Oakland to Occupied Palestine

by Anna Baltzer, National Organizer
November 1st, 2011

Above: US Campaign National Organizer Anna Baltzer with #Occupy protesters

Last Tuesday night at Oakland City Hall, barricades and riot police had replaced the hundreds of committed activists who had inhabited Oscar Grant Plaza since Occupy Oakland began. Helicopters swarmed above. The atmosphere was tense and thick with teargas. Earlier that day, Scott Olsen, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, had been shot in the head with a projectile and hospitalized.

Oakland native Tristan Anderson met a similar fate in 2009 when the Israeli military shot him in the head with a U.S.-made high-velocity tear gas canister while he nonviolently protested Israel's Apartheid Wall in the West Bank village of Ni'lin. Bassem Abu Rahmah was fatally wounded the following year when the Israeli army fired a tear gas canister at his chest as he protested the wall in the West Bank village of Bil'in. His sister Jawaher died in January after inhaling U.S.-made tear gas, which the Israeli military fired aggressively during a protest against the wall, which still annexes huge swaths of Bil'in's land.

The connections between the struggles of Palestinians and the #Occupy movement are unmistakable: the spotlight on privilege and inequality, the mass imprisonment, the police repression, and the people's steadfastness. As the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) wrote in a statement of unity with the "global 99%":

"Our aspirations overlap; our struggles converge. Our oppressors, whether greedy corporations or military occupations, are united in profiting from wars, pillage, environmental destruction, repression and impoverishment. We must unite in our common quest for freedoms, equal rights, social and economic justice, environmental sanity, and world peace."

The 9th Annual International Week against  the Apartheid Wall is November 9 - 16, 2011. What will YOU do to nonviolently bring down systems of oppression both here at home and in support of Palestinians struggling to bring down the Apartheid Wall?

The Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign is calling on people around the world to "Stand with the Palestinian popular resistance" and pressure our "governments, institutions and corporations to stop their support of Israeli apartheid" by organizing in four key areas. Below are ideas and resources for you to take action in your community.

Awareness-raising campaigns about the Wall and settlements

Action idea: Construct a "mock wall" on your campus, at your local city occupation, or elsewhere to educate passersby about the effects of Israel's Apartheid Wall and the connections between oppression of Palestinians and racist border practices targeting immigrants in the United States. Click here to see the new Mock Wall Campaign Toolkit created by students at the University of Arizona and Brown University.

Awareness-raising campaigns on Israel's repression of Palestinian popular resistance

Action idea: On November 15th, activists from the March 15th Palestinian Youth Movement will attempt to board segregated Jewish-only settler buses bound for Jerusalem as an act of civil disobedience. Worldwide activists are mobilizing to shine a light on Israel's repressive tactics and show solidarity for Palestinian popular resistance. Click here to sign up for information and a toolkit developed by coalition member group Jewish Voice for Peace to help local groups put together unique and exciting local actions in solidarity with the Palestinian Freedom Riders on November 15th.

Boycott and divestment campaigns against companies building the Apartheid Wall

Action idea: Hold a teach-in about boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) at your nearest city occupation, spotlighting Elbit Systems, an Israeli weapons manufacturer, which produces the surveillance equipment and unmanned vehicles that monitor both the Israeli Apartheid Wall and the U.S./Mexico border. Click here to download member group Grassroots International’s fact sheet about Elbit's involvement in Israel’s oppressive policies targeting Palestinians and racist practices on the U.S.-Mexico border.  Get TIAA-CREF to divest from Elbit and other corporations profiting from Israeli occupation by joining the growing "We Divest" Campaign.

To help build your case for local BDS campaigns, check out our BDS FAQs here.

Consider also distributing the BNC's moving statement of solidarity with the #Occupy movement. Click here to download the two-page handout.

Support the Palestinian call for a comprehensive and mandatory military embargo on Israel

Action Idea: Join our organizing campaign to end military aid to Israel by signing up to receive an organizing packet in the mail with fliers, fact sheets, postcards, and petitions. With this packet, you’ll have everything you’ll need to educate and organize people at your local #Occupy or other community event to end $30 billion in tax-payer funded weapons to Israel and redirect that money to unmet needs here at home.

Please email your planned events and actions to Mallory at Stop the Wall by clicking here. You can also read the call to action and find excellent resources on the Apartheid Wall here.

The night after Scott was shot, thousands of activists reclaimed Oakland’s public spaces for “the 99%” by breaking down the fences with which the city government had encircled the plaza, as Palestinians continue to struggle to tear down Israel's Apartheid Wall to reclaim their land and destinies.

As we struggle for justice here at home, let us remember that everyday Palestinians struggling under occupation are part of "the 99%." Join the International Week against the Apartheid Wall next week!