Help USPCN Celebrate Another 10 Years of Organizing for Liberation and Return!
Ten years ago, I was one of the proud co-founders of the United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), which came together at a meeting in Detroit, Michigan, in 2006, when initial plans were made for the first popular conference of the Palestinian grass-roots in the U.S. in over a decade. This founding conference, in 2008, launched USPCN as a national organization that always upheld al thawabet (“the constants”—Right of Return, right to self-determination, right to national independence, and right to resist zionist occupation and colonization), as well as a political perspective that prioritized community-based organizing, democracy, progressive thought, equality, and alliances with other oppressed communities in the U.S.
Ever since 2006, we have focused strongly on freedom for political prisoners in Israeli and Palestinian Authority jails. This year, our Political Prisoners Working Group has put this activism on the international map. We introduced a petition to demand that Israel stop its use of administrative detention (#StopAD); joined the two most important political prisoners advocacy organizations in the world, Addameer and Samidoun, as signatories on a statement calling for solidarity with the Palestinian mass hunger strikes; and currently publish a Weekly Review that reports to the U.S. on much of the political prisoner work in Palestine and beyond.
USPCN has also been at the forefront of the struggle against political repression in the U.S., especially the attacks against Palestinians and our supporters. In New York, our members were involved in the fight to challenge Governor Andrew Cuomo’s undemocratic attacks on the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement, with an opinion (“BDS lives on,” halfway down the webpage) published in the NY Daily News and participation in a number of protests and other actions, including the disruption of a NY City Council hearing. But undeniably, the main front in the battle against repression is the case of Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian American community icon who has been an organizer for the rights of her people for over 50 years. In the most important political trial in the country, she is facing a new indictment from federal prosecutors who were facing defeat at the hands of the movement and its lawyers, and are now desperately trying to accuse her of terrorism; but USPCN, along with the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, will continue to lead the #Justice4Rasmea political defense, and will continue to demand—until the day of the retrial on May 16, 2017—that the government #DropTheChargesNow against her.
USPCN has a clear belief that Palestinians need a united front to defeat Israeli zionist occupation and colonization in Palestine, but also that Palestinians and Arabs here need a united front to challenge the U.S. government’s political, military, and diplomatic support for Israel, which is unequivocal, despite both the recent speech by Secretary of State John Kerry and the U.S. abstention from voting on the United Nations Security Council resolution critical of Israel’s settlement building. Black people in this country have faced centuries of oppression and inequality, and we must continue to work together with their community organizations as well as all other oppressed communities in the U.S. Our alliances are with the forces that want to make real systemic change in the U.S. and beyond, which is why USPCN supports workers’ and union rights across the country, why we published in support of the Movement for Black Lives, why we published in support of the Sioux Nation’s struggle to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (#NoDAPL), and why we support—also unequivocally—the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression’s boycott campaign to enact a Civilian Police Accountability Council.
As you can see, even as my Bay Area colleagues and I look to rebuild our USPCN chapter, the organization is still vibrant, with strong national leadership in Milwaukee, Detroit, Chicago, DC, and NY. Our West Coast region needs some help, so please make your generous tax-deductible donation right now, and continue supporting our political vision for freedom and equality for all, as well as our community-based, grass-roots organizing to end Israeli occupation and colonization of all Arab lands, and to win Palestinian Liberation and Return!
Rama Kased, USPCN co-founder
December 30, 2016