Recap of 2016: A Year of Growth, Study and Action for IJAN

In late 2015, as we assessed the state of IJAN, we determined that building our projects and better supporting our partners would require growing our membership. We entered 2016 with a commitment to seed new chapters and increase our outreach through a national tour, open meetings, study groups, community rituals and more. Throughout the year, we saw the rewards of this work as new members began to organize with IJAN and people came together to discuss forming IJAN chapters in cities without one. In 2017, we will certainly continue to develop our membership, while beginning to re-focus our energy on action and analysis, especially in ways that respond to the monumental shift in the political context in the US. 

For now, we have compiled an outline of many of our projects and actions over the course of last year. Contact with questions or interest in any of the efforts summarized below:

Bay Area Membership Development: Expanding Our Reach

In 2016, we increased our membership and developed our organizers. Part of that effort included a year-long outreach campaign in the Bay Area. We held an Open Meeting in Oakland that attracted more than 20 people. We formed a study group that lasted through the summer and explored the history of Zionism, the persistence of Palestinian resistance and anti-Zionist action today. After that, we made the 12-week curriculum public, so anyone could try the same study-into-action process that we took this past summer. Now, the participants from our summer study group support IJAN’s efforts by doing direct action, writing public statements and leading local projects.

Organizing Institute: Convening Our International Members

In October, we hosted an Organizing Institute in order to build our relationships and outline our strategy and tactics for the year ahead. We had fruitful discussions that led us to a clearer commitment to bringing an internationalist analysis to our movement work through writing, actions and organizing.

Legacies of Resistance Seder: Drawing From Our Past to Inspire Future Action

As we do every year, we hosted a community seder in Oakland, CA honoring our histories of participation in collective struggles for liberation and against persecution, repression, and genocide.

Stop the JNF: Urging the IRS to Revoke the JNF’s Charitable Status

On April 15th, Tax Day, we filed a legal complaint to the IRS against the Jewish National Fund. As part of the Stop the JNF campaign and in partnership with the National Lawyers Guild, we demanded the IRS investigate the JNF’s charity status – as the JNF is not a charity organization but an integral part of the on-going colonization of Palestine.

We also released a petition in support of the complaint that over 6,000 people signed. This was submitted to the IRS national office as well as hand delivered on Tax Day, April 15, 2016, to 5 IRS offices across the U.S.

In NYC, the Stop the JNF annual conference was picketed by hundreds of community members involved in American Muslims for Palestine and Al Awda NY and with representatives from the National Lawyer’s Guild, the International Jewish Anti–Zionist Network, Students for Justice in Palestine and Labor for Palestine. In Canada, the Stop the JNF campaign is preparing to file a similar complaint to its Charity Commission.

Stop Urban Shield: Direct Action Against Police Militarization

For the third year in a row, we worked alongside partner organizations in the Stop Urban Shield Coalition. Urban Shield is a heavily militarized law enforcement training and weapons expo hosted by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department that brings together law enforcement officials, including Israeli officials who have previously facilitated training sessions that teach U.S. agents how to repress communities of color using the same techniques of surveillance, crowd control, and other tactics utilized against Palestinians. The ways in which U.S. police rely on the colonial, apartheid state of Israel and its occupation military as a model of racist repression provide us clarity as to why we must fight racism and colonialism together on a local, national and international scale.

Urban Shield is a manifestation of this intersection. Two years ago, the Stop Urban Shield Coalition celebrated a key victory when it forced Urban Shield out of Oakland, its original host city. This past September, Stop Urban Shield organized a mass mobilization in Pleasanton, CA, with several hundred people coming out to shut down and prevent Urban Shield from taking place in Alameda County,  or anywhere for that matter. The mobilization generated powerful momentum and garnered national and mainstream media attention for the fight against militarization in the form of racist policing.

This coalition is now harnessing this energy to push the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to review their role in hosting Urban Shield, its overall impact on county residents, and whether to allocate funds for militarized police trainings moving forward, or the community-led alternatives we need for the world we demand.