Pittsburgh DSA Statement of Solidarity with Palestine Oct 2023

Pittsburgh DSA expresses our continued full and unequivocal support for the Palestinian struggle for freedom. We mourn the loss of life across the region which is a direct result of over 75 years of brutal occupation and apartheid including 17 years of a blockade and siege on Gaza, funded and backed by our own government.

Living deep in the belly of the US Empire, we must do all we can to address our own capitalist government’s attacks on the working class and oppressed peoples both here and abroad.   To secure the socialist future, we fight for democracy, and demand that democracy bloom and expand in all areas of life and all corners of the earth. 

That flower cannot bloom in Palestine while the IDF carries on a daily campaign of terror and oppression against the Palestinian people, while Gaza is kept under siege, while settlements in the West Bank continue to displace and attack Palestinians, and while Palestinians are subjected to daily violations of their basic democratic rights at the hands of the IDF and the rest of the Israeli state apparatus, including the encouragement of reactionary opposition to justify further atrocities. All the while, the deadly exchange of police and military training between the US and Israel continues to intensify tactics of repression and surveillance in both countries.

 Violent opposition is the inevitable response to the conditions imposed by Israeli occupation. The conflict can only end if the apartheid regime is lifted from the river to the sea. Our goal as socialists and internationalists is liberation for all oppressed peoples, especially those oppressed by the largest recipient of United States foreign aid. Our desire for peace goes much further than the cessation of active warfare, and must include active reversal of over 75 years of systematic violence and oppression.

In accordance with DSA’s national political platform, we continue to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement, and we continue to demand the right of return for Palestinian refugees, the end of all US military aid to Israel and all military cooperation with Israel, an end to all training exchanges between US police forces and police and military in Israel, the closure of all US military bases on foreign soil, and the immediate withdrawal of the US from NATO. We also call on members and non-members alike to consider the action list from Jewish Voice for Peace and to get involved in Palestinian solidarity actions as this situation develops.

-Pittsburgh DSA Coordinating Committee

Pittsburgh DSA Statement on the BDSWG and the NPC

We, the Pittsburgh Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), reaffirm our commitment to Palestinian Liberation. We join the chorus of DSA chapters formally rebuking the DSA National Political Committee’s (NPC’s) decision to de-charter the Boycott, Divest, & Sanction and Palestine Solidarity Working Group (BDSWG) and to remove the organizers who were doing work in that group from current and future leadership positions. 

At the 2019 Convention of the DSA, member delegates voted to pass Resolution #35 which reads, (in part, full text can be read here):

Be it resolved that the Democratic Socialists of America establish a national working group dedicated to BDS and Palestine Solidarity; 

Be it resolved that the National will allow autonomous leadership and membership of said working group; 

Be it resolved that the National will reaffirm BDS and Palestine solidarity as a priority for the national organization and further commit itself to organizing in solidarity with the BDS movement, which urges nonviolent pressure on Israel until it meets three demands: ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall; recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

In late 2021, a DSA-endorsed congressman, Jamaal Bowman of New York’s 16th district, voted to support Israeli Iron Dome defense funding, met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, and took a trip to Israel sponsored by J Street, a pro-Israel lobby group. These actions, along with a failure of attempted meetings to produce course corrections from Rep. Bownman led to calls from BDSWG (among others) for the NPC to censure or expel Rep. Bowman from DSA membership. Ultimately, neither occurred. Instead the NPC retaliated against the BDSWG by de-chartering the working group and banning its leaders from future leadership positions in the DSA for one year.

The decision to de-charter the group was undemocratic, was not supported by our bylaws, and remains highly detrimental to the future of this organization on a strategic level insofar as it sent a message to our Palestinian members and other leftist organizations that Palestine is not a priority for DSA, and that we are more interested in building personal relationships with elected officials than adhering to our democratically determined values.

It is the position of the Pittsburgh DSA that the BDSWG was unjustly punished for legitimate public criticism of the NPC’s actions in contravention to the will of DSA’s membership, as expressed at the 2019 convention. While the NPC has attempted to justify these undemocratic actions as a response to harassment, grievances among individual members should have been resolved through existing harassment and grievance channels, rather than through the undemocratic collective punishment of the BDSWG.

While the NPC has since partially reversed their decision, by reinstating the BDSWG as a working group, it has failed to reinstate the leaders who were unjustly removed from the group and banned from future leadership positions for one year. 

As an chapter, we want to be clear: Palestinian liberation is a priority in our organizing. The Pittsburgh DSA has been proud to support local Palestinian justice coalitions—including The Pittsburgh Coalition to End the Deadly Exchange and the Pittsburgh BDS Coalition—and to host the BDSWG at our January 2022 General Body Meeting. Our chapter also voted unanimously at our March General Body Meeting to issue our own BDS Resolution which holds us to support the Pittsburgh BDS Coalition, to avoid purchasing boycotted products or services with chapter funds, and to hold our own endorsed candidates accountable for anti-BDS stances or actions. 

Therefore, the Pittsburgh DSA makes the following demands:.

  1. Reinstate the leaders of the BDSWG who have full rights, in a democratic organization, to freely and openly critique the broader organization and its leadership, the NPC, when they violate adopted resolutions of the general membership. The freedom to publicly criticism of leadership is essential to any democratic institution.
  2. Revoke the one-year ban on these members running for future leadership positions.

In closing, we want to thank the members and leaders of the BDSWG, the minority of the NPC who spoke out against the decision and provided the membership with transparency throughout the process, and our fellow DSA chapters, working groups, and members who have continued to unconditionally support Palestinian liberation.

[Approved by the General Body, May 16, 2022]

Pencils Out! The National DSA Trips to Peru and Venezuela (ft Austin G)

For our August General Meeting we’re honored to have Austin Gonzalez from the DSA National Political Committee to talk about the International Committee’s trips to observe the elections in Peru and representing the organization in the Congreso Bicentenario de los Pueblos in Caracas, Venezuela while taking another week to visit the famous communes of Venezuela.

For the official reportback from the delegation check out this video on the Official DSA Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bL2RH…

Also be sure to check out Austin’s podcast Machete Y Mate https://anchor.fm/machete-y-mate which is an overview in the going ons with the Global South in the face of US Imperialism

DSA and The PRO Act

From our April General Meeting; author & PGH DSA Member Ryan Brown (writer of Pittsburgh and the Great Steel Strike of 1919) discusses the history Labor acts in the US from the 1930s on today with the PRO ACT and how the DSA is involved in the organizing trying to pass this landmark act.

Link to Ryan’s Book: https://www.amazon.com/Pittsburgh-Gre…

Abortion Access History and the Current Landscape

For our March 2021 General Meeting; the Political Education Committee reached out to the Socialist Feminist Committee to give an Ed Segment for Women’s History Month. The committee focused on presenting the history of Abortion Access and the current challenges to abortion access.

Here is a link to the chapter’s official fundraiser for Western PA Fund For Choice! https://fund.nnaf.org/team/346586. Likewise consider joining the team as well!

Outside Pittsburgh? Then email socfem@pghdsa.org for advice on how to start your own abortion drive website!

What the FuQ?! Understanding Right Wing Conspiracy Theories

Join the PGH DSA Political Education committee for a short presentation and informal discussion about the sources, nature, and political reality of right-wing conspiracy theories today—most manifestly, Qanon.

(Content Warning: Due to the nature of these conspiracy theories, discussions of anti-Semitic rhetoric, accusations of pedophilia, and other potentially upsetting material will undoubtedly be a part of this presentation and discussion.)

To view slides for the presentation go here and make sure to subscribe to the PGH DSA YouTube Channel!