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Immediate Action Required: an “International Conference of Governments to Protect Palestinians and Support their Self-Determination

By staff - La Via Campesina, November 17, 2023

Israel is waging a genocidal war on Palestinians. In addition to its incessant bombings – targeting civilians, residential buildings, hospitals, schools, places of worship, and all basic infrastructure – Israel has imposed a complete blockade on Gaza, preventing the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza from accessing food, water, electricity, and fuel. The farmers have no access to their farmland, much of which has been bombed. The fisher folk too have no access to the sea. Israel’s ongoing brutal assault has created a human catastrophe of unimaginable scale. La Via Campesina’s member organization in Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Workers Committee (UAWC), warns that “Those who survive the bombings will die of starvation or thirst”.

It is urgent that third states take immediate action against this crime against humanity. The global mass mobilization of the past month has shown that the majority of the world stands with justice, and the majority of countries are deeply shocked by Israel’s blatant genocidal warfare imposed on the Palestinian people.

We call upon the governments who supported the United Nations General Assembly resolution for a humanitarian truce on the 26th of October to take immediate action to uphold their legal and humanitarian obligations and protect civilians. We urge these third states to organize an International Conference of Governments as soon as possible in order to stop this genocidal war and bring immediate relief to Palestinian people, in particular those in Gaza. This conference is a critical step towards the end of the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Environmental Disaster in Gaza

By Memet Uludag - Global Ecosocialist Network, November 17, 2023

As thousands of civilians continue to die and millions suffer under the ongoing Israeli bombardment of Gaza, there is another horror that threatens the future of the Palestinian people and the future of our planet: The deepening environmental crisis.

Wars create environmental disasters. We witnessed this in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among others. The consequences of these wars for the environment are well documented. Toxic weapons and the destruction of civilian infrastructure have created long-lasting pollution of the air, land and water sources. Millions of people continue to suffer long after the bombs stop.

Today we are witnessing yet another bombing of Gaza as an escalation of the long-running siege by Israel. On October 26th the Municipality of Gaza City issued a warning that the city is witnessing an environmental disaster due to the accumulation of garbage. The bin crews cannot service the city because of the ongoing Israeli airstrikes. This can cause serious health and environmental problems. More than 2,500, including 1500 children, have been reported missing and may be trapped or dead under the rubble. Gaza Municipality officials warn about the serious health risks this is creating for the people.

However, the environmental crisis in Gaza is not new and Israel is responsible for it. The New Arab Newspaper puts it plainly: “By limiting what is fished, what comes in and out of Gaza, and routinely bombing civilian and agricultural infrastructure, Israel has contributed to Gaza’s barely liveable conditions.”

The Olive Trees Resist

By Radhika Jani, Ameen Kamlana, Nambi Kiyira, and Lauriem Mompelat - Platform London, November 17, 2023

“This is our memory. It is the history. It is the land. it is the sky.”

– Fadia’s Tree (2022)

If the olive trees knew the hands that planted them, their oil would become tears.

– Mahmoud Darwish

Uprooted

October and November are celebrated as olive harvesting season in Palestine. This is usually a joyous time when Palestinians return to the trees that have provided sustenance to their family for generations. But these months are now being marked with a calamitous and all-encompassing grief as bombs rain down. The land is not fruiting, it is bleeding.

No stranger to difficulty, the olive tree grows under harsh conditions: it is drought resistant and has become a symbol for Palestinian belonging, resilience and hope under Israeli occupation. Olive trees have an average lifespan of 500 years, and many on Palestinian land predate the Israeli occupation by centuries. These are trees that have been lovingly tended to and are the primary source of income for about 800,000 families.

Approximately one million olive trees have been illegally uprooted by the Israeli authorities since 1967. Over 9,000 were removed in August 2021, and in March 2022, 2,000 olive trees were uprooted in the village of Marda in the West Bank, where Israeli forces also ‘sprayed chemical pesticides over olive, grape and almond saplings’. 

Saad Dagher, a Palestinian agronomist from Mazari En-Nubani, says that Palestinian farming has always been “polycultural, meaning that different crops can and should grow side by side on one piece of land. Israeli agriculture has imposed monocultures, which go against the natural biodiversity and self-sustainability of Palestinian land”. Farmland and crops owned by Palestinians present a barrier to annexing more land for Israeli settlements, so the desecration of olive trees both facilitates the process of colonisation and helps destroy Palestinian history, morale and collective memory. 

Stop Cop City Activists Plan Mass Return to Weelaunee Forest

By Cody Bloomfield - Truthout, November 5, 2023

In April, as the Atlanta Police Foundation erected high fences with razor wire around the site of the planned Public Safety Training Center dubbed “Cop City,” Atlanta organizer Jaye C. began photographing the construction, poking her camera through the chain link fence, documenting as 33 acres of forest became part of a barren expanse. In March, police chased, tasered and arrested activists on domestic terrorism charges until protesters were finally forced to cede the forest that they had occupied for the better part of two years. The fences went up, and Stop Cop City organizers pivoted. Protest continued at public buildings, neighboring parks, and the homes and businesses of contractors. Activists doubled down on legal challenges to the project and launched a campaign to put Cop City on the ballot. But the actual construction site became impenetrable.

A group of Stop Cop City activists aim to change that, to once again put their bodies on the line to block Cop City, to buy time before the Atlanta Police Foundation can destroy the remaining 50 or so acres of forest. A mere week after the RICO indictment of 61 activists, the newly christened Block Cop City wing of the movement issued a call to action to supporters around the country: Show up. Cause trouble (nonviolently, organizers clarify). We’ll see you in the forest.

The mass mobilization will take place in Atlanta from November 10-13. In the run-up to it, Block Cop City organizers embarked on a breakneck speaking tour, visiting over 70 cities in less than two months. They hope that at each place they visit, a few people will decide to come down to Atlanta, culminating in hundreds converging on November 13 to march on the construction site. Organizers have intentionally prioritized making plans for the protest public, and intend for the protest, described as mass nonviolent direct action, to challenge the legitimacy of the state through civil disobedience rather than sabotage. In the decentralized Stop Cop City movement, November’s action is but one tactic. But it’s an important one, particularly now, when Atlanta has ensnared dozens of activists in criminal proceedings while conspiring against democratic resistance.

Despite Intimidation, Union Voices Get Louder for Ceasefire in Gaza

By Keith Brower Brown and Caitlyn Clark - Labor Notes, October 31, 2023


Workers from three Chicago hospitals marched October 21. Photo: @lowisiana on X.

In the U.S. and across the world, hundreds of thousands of people have taken the streets to protest Israel’s assault on Gaza, which has killed at least 8,300 Palestinians, including 3,300 children, since October 7. On October 27, the United Nations called for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce.”

In the U.S., those protesting Israel’s attacks have faced a wave of repression by employers.

Management retaliation has struck journalists and academics. Michael Eisen, editor-in-chief of the open-access science journal eLife, was fired after sharing a satirical article from The Onion that criticized media responses to the loss of Palestinian life. Jackson Frank, a sports writer for PhillyVoice, was fired after criticizing a pro-Israel post by the Philadelphia 76ers.

After publishing and signing a letter of prominent artists and critics for a ceasefire, to stop an “escalating genocide,” Artforum Editor-in-Chief David Velasco was fired after 18 years at the magazine and six in that role. Three other editors resigned from the high-profile magazine in protest.

The National Writers Union is documenting such cases—both to connect writers with individual support, and to push for industry-wide reforms.

Meanwhile in Gaza, at least 25 journalists have been killed by Israeli airstrikes.

Frontlines to Big Greens: Stand with us in calling for #Ceasefire now and Justice for Palestine

By Hendrik Voss - It Takes Roots, October 31, 2023

Over 2 million Palestinian people have suffered under a 16 year blockade on Gaza and now endure a complete siege, as Israel bombs, starves, and displaces them. Israel has cut off food, water, and electricity to Gaza and has engaged in bombing of residential buildings, markets, schools, health facilities, and mosques – all with the support of the United States and other governments. Palestinians are forced between two decisions, stay and try to survive, or try to flee into exile, but will never see their home again. Our solidarity as environmental justice and human rights defenders globally is vital, as we are witnessing genocide before our eyes. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance at $3.8 billion a year, totaling more than $260 billion to date. Five of the top six global defense corporations based in the United States are profiting from and enabling the ongoing bombardment against Palestinians in Gaza.

As environmental justice frontline communities that have experienced violence and displacement at the hands of settler-colonialism, we stand in unwavering solidarity with the Palestinian freedom struggle for self-determination and to live freely with their human rights fully intact on their lands.

Our It Takes Roots alliances comprise over 200 groups in more than 50 states, provinces and Indigenous territories across North America, Puerto Rico and Guåhan. Since the beginning of the most recent escalation in the 75-year history of settler-colonialism and violence across historic Palestine, many of our members have drawn upon their extensive grassroots organizing experience and we have taken our grief and outrage to the streets, into the halls of Congress, engaged in direct action, and educated our communities. Together, we continue our practice of international solidarity, and call for an end to the siege of Gaza, and an end to the occupation.

Further, we call on the larger environmental and climate movement to stand with frontline and Indigenous Movements around the world by calling for a ceasefire, an end to all violence and warfare, insisting that Israel allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, and calling on our governments to refuse to send any additional weapons or funding to the Israeli military. Now is the time to build on our cross-sector relationships, and to appeal to all our partners and allies who might still be on the sidelines, to join the international struggle for a free Palestine. We must build momentum to prevent further loss of life.

Life is sacred. We mourn the devastating loss of all Palestinian and Israeli lives, and all casualties of colonialism and rising militarism around the world. It Takes Roots is determined to continue our work for justice and peace at home and globally. Liberation of one is only possible with the liberation of all.

The labour-environment nexus: Exploring new frontiers in labour law

Animal Liberation Is Climate Justice

By Laura Schleifer and Dan Fischer - New Politics, Winter 2022

Twenty twenty-one was the Year of the Flood(s)—and droughts, fires, famines, and plague. Floods swelled from Chinese subways to Alpine villages; fires raged from the Canadian-U.S. Pacific Northwest to Greece and Turkey; Madagascar suffered drought-induced famine; locusts ravaged crops from East Africa to India to the Arabian Peninsula; flesh-eating bacteria spawned in the Atlantic; the coronavirus killed millions; and right-wingers began begrudgingly acknowledging the eco-apocalypse, shifting from climate change denialism to increasingly Malthusian, eco-fascistic narratives.1

Meanwhile, world leaders discussed how to save capitalism from global warming. The much-hyped 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) regurgitated reformist policies that aimed to preserve the very system causing this catastrophe. Its accomplishments included pledges to reduce coal usage and end global deforestation by 2030, and a recommitment to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This target (let alone 1 degree, as scientist James Hansen advocates) seems purely aspirational considering our current trajectory toward 3 degrees or higher. Moreover, these voluntary measures may never even materialize at all.

It’s particularly difficult to take such pledges seriously when the discussion at COP26 barely touched on a leading cause of global warming, deforestation, species extinction, water depletion, ocean “dead zones” and plastics, soil erosion, air pollution, world hunger, antibiotic resistance, and infectious diseases—including, most likely, COVID-19.2 The delegates chowed on meat, fish, and dairy-based meals, which comprised 60 percent of the conference’s menu, ignoring these meals’ high carbon footprint. To quote Carl Le Blanc of the Phoenix-based nonprofit Climate Healers: “The cow in the room is being ignored at this COP. Animal agriculture has been taken off the agenda and put on the menu.”3

In accounting for climate change, a focus on cows is essential for several reasons. First, farmed animals—mainly cows raised for beef and dairy—produce roughly one-third of the world’s methane emissions. Despite being shorter-lived than carbon dioxide (CO2), methane is the more potent greenhouse gas by far—by a factor of eighty to one hundred. Second, land used by the cattle industry has a staggering opportunity cost. Scientists found this year that if the world abolished animal agriculture and restored the liberated land to forest and wild grassland, the flora and soil could sequester 772 billion tons of CO2.

Although the UN released a special report two years ago stressing that one of the most effective ways to mitigate warming is a plant-based diet,4 not one day of COP26 was devoted to the issue, in stark contrast to the time dedicated to energy, transport, and finance. Even as protests outside the conference called attention to this issue, the delegates inside ignored it.

One reason cited for the omission was that addressing animal agriculture would unfairly target historically oppressed communities, continuing the Global North’s legacy of dominating and controlling those they’ve colonized.5 While this may seem motivated by the noble impulse to be “sensitive” to colonial dynamics, the knowledge that these same imperialist nations’ delegates also removed from the conference’s concluding agreement the so-called Loss and Damages Finance Facility,6 which mandated compensation be paid to poorer countries for climate damages, should put any uncertainty about their true motives to rest. This is just one manifestation of how the call for sensitivity toward oppressed groups is exploited by those most responsible for current crises in order to avoid making transformative changes within their own societies.7

Unfortunately, the Western left bears some responsibility for this manipulative usage of political correctness, due both to its collective failure to reject the neoliberal exploitation of identity politics, and to its constant smearing of veganism and animal liberation as “middle class and white.”8 While it’s certainly true that vegan and animal advocacy are often conducted in colonial, Eurocentric ways, that does not mean there are no liberatory ways of advancing these goals, or that no marginalized individuals do this type of work themselves. Around the world, Indigenous, colonized, and working-class people engage in praxis that recognizes how the fates of other species enmesh with our own, and that our collective survival depends upon the liberation of humans and other species alike.

Former Union Political Director on Biden: We Do Him a FAVOR When We Push Him

Mutual Aid and the movement to Stop Cop City

By Dean Spade - Shareable, October 9, 2023

On August 29, 2023, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr filed an indictment against 61 members of the movement to Defend the Atlanta Forest and Stop Cop City. The indictment alleges a vast criminal conspiracy on the part of the activists, weaving them together in a legal scheme so fantastical that one of the accused is cited for being reimbursed for Elmer’s Glue. 

It’s a patchwork case with Carr — the announced 2026 Georgia gubernatorial candidate — creating a veritable Charlotte’s Web; scrawling words in the web in a desperate ploy for attention. Unfortunately, it also represents a brazen assault on social justice organizers reminiscent of the FBI’s surveillance and attacks on the Civil Rights and Black Power movements in the 1960s and 70s. 

In order to justify the harsh charges, each carrying up to 25 years in prison, Carr attempts to link the protestors together based on their shared commitments to collective welfare and mutual aid. In other words, the State of Georgia is currently arguing that participation in mutual aid projects and practicing solidarity constitutes furthering a criminal conspiracy.

If Carr is going to try to make a twisted image of mutual aid tantamount to terrorism, we should all get clear on what mutual aid really is.

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