I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Defend the Signers of the Toronto Declaration

This is somewhat disturbing; it comes via the AZ Local2GlobalJustice list-serve. Sorry for the canned appeal, and it doesn't give the whole story. The links are good and don't take long to work through - check them out for more info. Please sign the petition in support of our artists, musicians, scholars, and the many activists who stand for peace and justice in Gaza and throughout the Middle East.---------------

Sign the petition to support Walker, Klein, Ensler, Belafonte, Mortensen and over 1,000 signers of the Toronto Declaration. Say no to the smears.

Do you know that terrible feeling you get when someone you care about is viciously attacked for something they haven't done? I got that feeling when I heard the outrageous charges against amazing and courageous people like Alice Walker, Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Naomi Klein, Daniel Boyarin, and Jane Fonda. They need our support.

Why? Because they signed "The Toronto Declaration", a letter questioning the wisdom of unconditionally celebrating Tel Aviv and Israel at the Toronto International Film Festival just months after the brutal attack on Gaza. The letter they signed opposes this celebratory spotlight on Tel Aviv when 1.5 million Gazans suffer the effects of an ongoing blockade of food, medical supplies and goods; and while the Israeli government continues to dispossess Palestinians from their homes and lands, without any accountability. 

Now, over 1,000 artists and writers who signed this statement, including many Israelis and Palestinian and the people I named above, are being falsely charged with boycott, censorship, and even, amazingly enough, supporting the destruction of Israel. 

Nothing could be further from the truth - read the letter yourself. If anything, they've cracked the debate wide open, and said truths that must be spoken if we are ever to reach a solution. The brave signers of the letter, many of whom are leaders in the struggle against censorship and repression, need your support. We need to continue standing up against the bullying attacks against anyone who dares to question the status quo regarding Israel. We must not let them change the subject. Please sign the petition saying you stand with them.

The part that infuriates me the most is that the people who signed this letter are not singling out Israel - the film festival did that. The signers of the letter are people of conscience who have devoted their lives to social justice and who have spoken out on many issues, among them:

  • Harry Belafonte who marched with King and helped plan the March on Washington.
  • Howard Zinn, the voice of conscience of American History.
  • The legendary screenwriter Walter Bernstein, born in 1919, who was blacklisted and forced to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He knows about real censorship and would never endorse it.
  • The playwright Eve Ensler, who has perhaps done more than anyone in the world to shine a spotlight on the mass rapes in the Congo.
They also include people like the Palestinian fillmaker Elia Sulieman and Israeli filmmaker Udi Aloni, both of whom have films in the festival; the actor and playwright Wallace Shawn; and musician David Byrne.

This story isn't just about a film festival. This is about defending the right of people, no matter who they are, to express their views, to open up the conversation, and to use nonviolent means to end Israel's occupation and bring justice for all people to the region.

Sign the petition now.

Cecilie Surasky
Jewish Voice for Peace

P.S. We've put together several fact sheets that I'll hope you read and distribute. This one is about the smears, and this one is about the history of the region.

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