Wednesday, July 20, 2016

"A Direct Message to My White Family & Friends - Your Silence IS Your Racism"


"A Direct Message to My White Family & Friends - Your Silence IS Your Racism"
 By: Katie Huerter   07/15/16

I realize this may offend many of my own personal friends and family members (I may even lose a number of you soon), but I, along with every single one of us, have an absolute responsibility to call one another and ourselves out when necessary.  This is one of those moments.

I'm honestly mortified, ashamed, angry and fucking heartbroken about the overwhelming, almost complete, absolute SILENCE coming from the large majority of all my white friends and family members regarding anything that even slightly acknowledges the horrific racism, oppression and white privilege of our world...

...Especially now, when more and more people of conscience around the country are adhering to a universal moral call and finally choosing to stand, march and loudly speak their truth to power on the right side of history! 

To all my beloved white friends and family members, this MUST STOP NOW! 

Your silence IS your racism... 
Your silence IS the unjust violence killing those who cannot hide behind your safe, white privilege.... 
YOU are choosing the side of the oppressor, and your degrees, careers, kindness, life choices, religions, values, intellect, money or selfish, false excuses cannot hide you from your own, shameful truth that you are actively choosing to be a racist.

If you may be wondering if my post is referring to you directly and personally, ask yourself if you have in any way spoken out loud, online, taken any sort action, even felt an internal awakening of any kind spurred by the world around you screaming for justice, screaming so loud you can no longer shut your window and pretend it isn't happening? 

If your answer is no, then yes, yes my loved ones, I am talking directly, with a heavy heart, but a heart filled with love... to you. 

But please know... I promise I will walk this road alongside you in our journey together through truth, courage, fear, pain and compassion while you, me and all those we love one by one finally begin living what we claim to believe and face our truth, our privilege, our white fragility and the racist truth of our world and begin our work in changing this world, dismantling injustice and truly honoring the inherent sacred dignity and worth of every human being for generations to come. 

We can do this, we must do this.
Together, let's choose the right side of history. 
JUSTICE WILL WIN.



#EndWhiteSilence #FreedomNow #BlackLivesMatter #BlackLiberationMatters

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Help Support My Upcoming Delegation to Palestine!


Please help support
Jody & Katie's Palestine Delegation
by making a donation and helping spread the word. 

We are thrilled to invite you to partner with us in supporting an exciting project to help advance our work for peace and justice!

We will soon be traveling to Israel and Palestine as part of an upcoming delegation focused specifically on, “Incarceration, Detention and Political Prisoners," May 21 - June 3rd, 2016, cosponsored by
Interfaith Peace Builders (IFPB)  and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).


This delegation will explore Palestinian and Israeli efforts to achieve peace with justice and will include meetings that delve deeper into the issues of detention and incarceration, the Israeli military court system, and political prisoners - including meetings with organizations like Addameer, Defense for Children International Palestine, and New Profile.  The delegation will also feature meetings with Palestinian and Israeli leaders of civil society groups, grassroots organizers, religious leaders and more.

Since our own work is at the grassroots level across the US Midwest (Iowa and Nebraska), Jody with AFSC's Immigrant Legal Services Program, and Katie with AFSC's Middle East Peacebuilding Program, we are especially eager to learn of the grassroots efforts for justice for Palestine.

Our upcoming delegation offers us an unprecedented opportunity to connect our ongoing AFSC work for peace and racial justice in the US, including prison abolition, refugee rights, and end to mass incarceration, with the work of supporting justice and peace in Palestine. 

With our delegation departing in only a few short weeks, we are reaching out to our friends, family, and community, to help us raise the rest of the funding needed to help cover the remainder of our essential delegation fees, such as food, transportation, and accommodations. 

Please consider making a donation of $25 $50, $100, or more to partner with us on this exciting project. 

While in Israel and Palestine, we will be sending out emails about our experiences on the ground, please let us know if you are interested in receiving these emails, and we will add you to our list. 

When we return, we would love to either invite you to a scheduled presentation on our experience, and we would be thrilled to share our experience with you by blogging, working with you/your organization, organizing an event with your group, collaborating on strategy sessions with allies in our Iowa community and more. 

Thank you for your generous support in helping us reach our goal and please do not hesitate to contact either of us for more information. 

B’shalom v ahava, (with peace and love)

Jody Mashek;  email: jmashek@afsc.org
 
Katie Huerter;  email: khuerter@afsc.org

Friday, May 6, 2016

Omaha Trump Protest Friday May 6th: #NeverTrumpOmaha

Omaha Call to Action: Trump Protest Friday, May 6th

Donald Trump is bringing his neo-fascist circus to Omaha this Friday. Let's show him that Omaha will not stand for his hate.  Let's stand against his xenophobia, racism, and fascism.
Let's show him that HIS HATE is NOT welcome here.

Omaha Friends and Allies - Join us this Friday to protest Trump's bigotry, racism, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric! Let's let Trump, and all major media know, Nebraska welcomes refugees, immigrants and diversity... NOT racists!


Omaha's Trump Protest Information:

When:  Friday, May 6th, 2016
Time:  1:30 - 4:00pm
Where:  Eppley Airfield 
(4501 Abbott Dr, Omaha, Nebraska 68110)

ATTN: We will meet at Carter Lake Park, just off of Abbot Drive at 1:30pm and Take the protest to Eppley, down Abbott Drive.





Join Eve Ensler, Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, union presidents, leaders of worker movements, activists, actors, film directors, religious leaders, teachers, professors, civil rights leaders. lawyers, farmers, writers, workers, students, heads of companies, intellectuals, poets, AND sign TO join the movement to end hatred, fear mongering, bullying, racism in America.

We believe Trump is a grave threat to democracy, freedom, human rights, equality, and the welfare of our country and all our people.

We have witnessed Trump inciting hatred against Muslims, immigrants, women, the disabled. We have seen him evidencing dangerous tendencies that threaten the bedrock of democracy: unleashing a lynch mob mentality against protestors, calling for the expulsion of Muslims from the country, bullying, and fear-mongering.

History has shown us what happens when people refuse to stand against hate-filled leaders.

We pledge ourselves to speak out in every way possible against the politics of hate and exclusion he represents.


Omaha News Coverage Prior to Trump's Scheduled Arrival on Friday, May 6, 2016:




#NeverTrumpOmaha  -  #DumpTrump  -  #StopHateDumpTrump

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Iowa Anti-BDS Bill Is Moving Fast! Take Action Now! Oppose Anti-BDS Legislation in Iowa Today


Today is a critical day for those of us who advocate for peace and human rights through boycott, divestment, and sanctions.



A handful of legislators are trying to ram through SF2281, which would require Iowa to blacklist companies who comply with boycotting or divesting from Israel as a non-violent means of pressuring Israel to end its almost 50 year-old occupation of the West Bank. Public pension funds would have to sell their holdings in any company that take a stance against an illegal and immoral occupation. Also, no company or organization that participates in BDS could contract with the state.  

You don’t need me to tell you that the Iowa state legislature has a lot on its plate. There are schools to improve, housing to build, and a health care system to fix.  So with so much to do, it’s shocking that legislators are spending their time trying to punish advocates for justice and equality in Israel and Palestine.  

It’s a brazen political move by politicians running scared of our growing movement for justice in Palestine and Israel. We can’t let it happen.

We need as many residents of Iowa to call your senators TODAY to urge them not to vote in favor of SF 2281!  The senate is likely to vote on this by 1pm this afternoon (Wednesday, April 27, 2016).
Two more actions to take today:
1. Call your Senator! Tell him/her to vote no on SF 2281.
Call the Senate Switchboard at 515- 281-3371 and ask to speak with the office of your senator.  
If you're not sure who your senator is, you can look him/her up here:

Talking points:
1. Vote no on SF 2281.
2. The Iowa Senate does not have to take sides in the Israel-Palestine dispute and they should not be weighing in on BDS.  
3. This bill violates First Amendments rights. The ACLU and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee have issued statements saying it is unconstitutional.
4. Such a bill requires an in-depth study with a wide range of perspectives presented. No such study has taken place.

2. Call the Senate leadership! Tell them don't bring SF 2281 to the floor.
Call the offices of Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal and Senate President Pam Jochum to tell them not to bring it to the Senate floor for a vote
They are the ones with the power to decide if it is heard and voted on in the senate.
Number: Senate Switchboard 515- 281-3371, ask for their lines.

Talking points: 
1. Do not bring SF 2281 to the senate floor.
2. The Iowa Senate does not have to take sides in the Israel-Palestine dispute and they should not be weighing in on BDS.  
3. This bill violates First Amendments rights. The ACLU and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee have issued statements saying it is unconstitutional.
4. Such a bill requires an in-depth study with a wide range of perspectives presented. No such study has taken place.


Click Here to Take Action Now. Write your State Senator and the Senate leadership today and tell them to vote no on SF2281.

It’s vital that we protect our right to boycott!  From the United Farm Workers’ grape boycott in California, to the international movement that helped bring down South African apartheid, boycotts work. They’re a time-honored, non-violent and constitutionally protected way of taking action, supported by thousands of people of all faiths across our state and many more around the world.

That’s why it’s so important that we defeat this bill. The IA state senate needs to know that their constituents are watching, and that we refuse to allow ridiculous attacks on human rights advocates to be enshrined in law.

Thank you for taking action to support free speech for human rights in Iowa!

Sincerely, 


Katie Huerter
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Middle East Peace Building Associate 
khuerter@afsc.org





Monday, March 2, 2015

Des Moines Event! "Ferguson to Palestine: Linking the Struggles," Presentation by Dr. Nikitah Okembe-RA Imani, Chair of UNO"s Black Studies Dept.

Tuesday March 3rd; 6:30pm
Drake University Des Moines, IA

Please join us for what promises to be an inspirational lecture on student activism and understanding the vital connections across all movements for justice by the esteemed Chair of the University of Nebraska at Omaha's (UNO) Black Studies Dept., Dr. Nikitah Okembe-ra Imani. 

The summer’s events in Palestine and across the U.S., specifically in Ferguson, have clearly shown the connections between racist and colonial oppression in both locations, sparking transnational solidarity and consciousness raising. It is in the spirit of forming a stronger global movement to liberate all peoples that inspires and challenges us to move towards thinking in terms of joint struggle- how our work in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle is part and parcel of the struggles to dismantle racism, militarism, sexism and colonialism in the U.S. and other parts of the world/ And to move towards creating meaningful changes in our communities and beyond.
Join & Share This Event On Facebook!


Dr Imani’s speech is in conjunction with a touring national poster exhibit. Boycott Posters: The Art of Economic Activism provides a visual history of economic activism over the last 60 years, and highlights the role boycotts have played in those struggles. Several posters will be on display during the program.

Dr. Imani is available for media interviews either before or after his presentation.

The speech and related events are sponsored by:


The American Friends Service Committee-Iowa (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

- Drake's  Middle East Peace and Prosperity Alliance (MEPPA) is a student-led campus organization providing education and information forums about issues related to Middle East culture, history, and current political realities.


For more information please contact: 
Katie Huerter (AFSC) khuerter@afsc.org 
Ali Jandal (MEPPA) DUMEPPA@gmail.com

‪#‎Ferguson‬  ‪#‎Palestine‬ ‪ #‎BlackLivesMatter‬  ‪#‎MuslimLivesMatter‬‪  #‎FreePalestine‬

Monday, August 18, 2014

Why My Grieving Heart Must Break Open For #Gaza….

Reflections from my recent visit to Gaza in May 2014 and Israel's current, horrific assault on Gaza that began on July 8th, 2014.  Israel must be held accountable and responsible for its war crimes in Gaza. We will not stop working and fighting for justice, equality, human rights, ending the occupation, and ending the siege on Gaza. We will not stop until Gaza and all of Palestine is free.








I will never forget the special afternoon I spent in the home of this lovely refugee family in Saleh Al balawi Beach Camp, Gaza Strip in May (2014). The family's father still holds the key to their family home in Majdal.







Photo of my last night in Gaza in May (2014). The people of Gaza are beautiful beyond words in every way. Their joy, happiness, spirit, humor and progressive political and movement building ideas amazed me, inspired me, and renewed my spirit and hope that Gaza and Palestine will soon be free. 

  
    
     
Departing Gaza in May (2014) through Israel's Erez Checkpoint, I took this photo while walking inside the 500 meter (.3 mile) over-ground caged tunnel, with mounted automatic machine guns watching you from the distant wall. Very few can get in or out of Gaza, only those with permits and those are very limited and granted artibrarily. Entry and Exit to Gaza at the Erez crossing has become even more impersonalized, with automated gates and narrow doorway passages where no human being is present. Israeli soldiers send orders to pass via microphones as they are stationed above the entry hall in glass sealed rooms.







Photo of my colleague's house in Gaza that was destroyed by Israel's July 2014 bombardment on Gaza.  






Abdullah Mansor Abu Amara (22 years old).  Abdullah was killed by Israeli soldiers in Israel's assault on the Shujaiya neighborhood in Gaza on July 20th, 2014.  Abdullah was a participant in our "Palestine Youth: Together for Change" program, and was studying to be an international human rights lawyer.  

I will never forget the days I spent with Abdullah and the many other inspirational students while in Gaza in May (2014).  My heart breaks for Abdullah, his family, my Gaza colleagues, and for all those in Gaza during this horrific time. 




Grieving For Gaza… 
I’m terrified to let my mind be still and truly feel the grief that swims silently through my veins threatening to slowly poison my heart. The risk is too great. 

What if my silent pain consumes me and brings me to my knees in helpless agony? 

But, I know at the center of my being, this is a risk I must take. For the fear of not feeling my own humanity terrifies me even more. 

Lying under the stars in the darkness of night, I will lose myself to my suffocating pain. Only the stars and moon will hear my cries. But, I know I will make it through my tears and out of the darkness, weightlessly riding on the healing rebirth of the sunrise.

May the souls of Gaza guide me towards courage… Courage to be still, truly grieve and weep. Courage to let my heart break open, so that it may be filled with the beauty of forgiveness and the music of hope.

May the light of Gaza guide us all through the darkness, reminding us of our humanity and carry us home to peace at last. 








Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Two months ago in May, I was doing Dabke in Gaza with Palestinian youth- Today's current horror is a tragic contrast to this joy: Video & Reflection

Two-months ago, I was in Gaza visiting our American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Gaza colleagues, students, activists and more, as part of our AFSC staff delegation.  My experience in Gaza was life-changing and moving beyond words.  My colleagues in Gaza and all of the wonderful young people we met with touched my heart and spirit in ways I will never forget.  

We all left Gaza in tears, tears for knowing how precious our time there was and tears for knowing that our dear Gazan friends and colleagues could not leave Gaza because of Israel's on-going siege.  Everyone we met in Gaza amazed me and inspired me with their warm spirit, laughter, and unwavering hope that justice will prevail despite Israel's horrific on-going siege. 

Below is a video of our AFSC delegation and Palestinian youth doing dabke in Gaza two-months ago. 

Abdullah Mansor Abu Amara (22 years old)
Killed by Israel on July 20th, 2014
Over the last week, most of these amazing people in the video have had to evacuate their homes, have had family and friends killed, and one of the students, Abdullah, who was participating in our "Palestine Youth: Together for Change" program, was killed yesterday by Israeli soldiers in Israel's assault on the Shujaiya neighborhood in Gaza. Abdullah was aspiring to be an international human rights lawyer and had a contagious smile that none us will ever forget. 

My heart breaks for Abdullah's family and friends and for all those in Gaza during this horrendous time. I pray that humanity's global conscience awakens and Israel's bombing of Gaza, murder of Palestinians, siege and occupation end soon, and that the people of Gaza can live their lives as human beings… laugh again, dance again, and follow their dreams in freedom, safety and peace. 

May Gaza and all of Palestine soon be free. 

Video of our AFSC delegation and Palestinian youth doing dabke in Gaza two-months ago in May 2014. 



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Emergency Protest against Israel's collective punishment on Gaza and West Bank and its violence against Palestinian youth



Emergency Protest! Omaha, Nebraska- Saturday, July 5th @ 4pm @ 72nd & Dodge St.
Demand an end to collective punishment. Demand fair and accurate media coverage of Israeli violence against Palestinian youth. 


In response to the tragic deaths of three Israeli youth, Israel has unfortunately engaged in the collective punishment of Palestinians. This includes heavily bombing the Gaza strip and raiding and attacking West Bank towns and villages. Several people have been arrested and killed, including children. In the last 24 hours, settlers have run over a 9-year-old girl, Sanabel Mohammed Tus, and kidnapped, tortured, murdered, and burned 17-year-old Mohammed Abu Khader. 

These are only two names of the many people who have either had their lives taken or shattered at the hands of Israel’s colonial regime. 

We call for an end to Israel's collective punishment and violence against Palestinian men, women, and children.

We call on mainstream US media to stop with its biased reporting, focusing on the Israeli youth killed and ignoring Palestinian youth killed. We demand fair and accurate coverage of the situation.

We call on the US government to condemn Israel's actions.

We call on people of conscience everywhere to stand up against Israel's violent occupation and apartheid.

The people of Omaha cannot sit back and do nothing while Israel is not only emboldened by the uncritical support of the United States but completely funded by the US citizens like you and me. Our tax dollars are used to fund mothers dying of bombshells and children being beaten, abducted, and shot by IDF soldiers. It is the responsibility of every American not only to care about where their taxes are going, but to be morally indignant at such crimes against humanity. 

Join us in collective display of indignation. We are not going to be complicit in US backed Israeli war crimes. Stand with the mothers of Palestine. Stand against the Palestinians who have their futures violently torn away. Stand against injustice.

 Click Here to Join Omaha's Emergency Protest on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/events/299497763564540/?source=1