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Concrete Connections Conference at U of A

BACKGROUND: U.S.-initiated Death and Suffering in the Mexico/U.S. Borderlands

Since the early 1990s, intentionally lethal U.S. militarization policies along the Mexico-U.S. border have resulted in the deaths of at least 5600 people (undocumented migrants from Mexico and Central America mainly), most of whom have perished in the Arizona-Sonora desert (253 human remains recovered this past fiscal year: Oct. 1, 2009-Sept. 30, 2010). With recent passage of racist laws such as SB1070 and HB2281, attacks on migrant communities and people of color in AZ have expanded dramatically. Nationally, violent raids, detention abuse and deportation of these communities by U.S. immigration and border enforcement agencies continue to increase, with Arizona functioning as a veritable laboratory for the design and implementation of current and likely future repression.

The “Concrete Connection”

One of the foremost allies of American policy in the Mexico/U.S. borderlands in recent years is Israel’s private security industry. In 2007 the Golan Group has been contracted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to train special immigration agents along the border. Israel’s largest private security firm, Elbit Systems, provided security technology for the border wall, having been awarded, with U.S. defense firm Boeing, a $2.5 billion contract (roughly the same amount Elbit profited for its security technology provided for the U.S.-Israeli apartheid wall in the West Bank) in 2006.

PURPOSE OF CONFERENCE: Outreach/Education, Movement Building

The main purpose of this conference is an attempt to bridge the gap between divided narratives:  intellectual understandings (as well as academic scholarship) on the one hand and practical applications of solidarity and direct activism on the other, bearing in mind that U.S. policy is the common driving force of death and suffering within both the Mexico/U.S. and Palestine/Israel borderlands  In essence, this Tucson, AZ rendezvous of various Palestine and La Raza/migrant justice solidarity groups and activists (and scholars) may be both a practical and symbolic, as well as cross-cultural, vehicle that hopefully adds, in any small way, to increasing the impact and scope of solidarity actions and direct activism over both borders just as international civil society and indigenous movements pursuing change, often led by the victims, aim to end death and suffering from the effects of U.S.-Israeli policy and practice in these torn borderlands.

Registering for Conference:

Conference participants must contact the organizers and fill out  the following information:


phone number:


school/group (if any) representing:

city/location traveling from:

accommodation needs:

And any other comments, needs or questions:

Migrant rights/border justice groups and individuals, contact UA No Más Muertes:

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

*Palestine solidarity groups and individuals, and all others, contact: UA Students for Justice in Palestine

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Housing questions?

Please contact Francisco Baires:   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it / 520.991.7151)

*Participants’ accommodations, within reason, will be cared for according to needs and wishes along lines of gender, religion, etc.

Conference Fees (Discounted):

Students/groups: Free! (though donations gratefully accepted and appreciated)

Non-students:  $30

Non-Student Group Rates:

$50 (2 representatives)

$75 (3 representatives)

$100 (4 representatives)

$130 (5 representatives, $15 for each additional representative after 5)

Tabling/Advertising at Conference: $100

Directions to the Conference:

From Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport

1.      Head east on E Sky Blvd                        374 ft

2.      Take 1st right toward E. Buckeye Rd                289 ft

3.      Continue straight onto E Buckeye Rd                0.9 mi

4.      Turn left to merge onto I-10 E                         110 mi

5.      Take Speedway exit, go left under bridge

6.      Continue on Speedway                        2-3 mi

7.      Turn Right on Park Ave                        couple blocks

8.      Arrive Marshall Building, at 845 N Park Ave, Rm 490

From Tucson International Airport

1.      Head east on E Airport Dr toward S Tucson Blvd

2.      Continue on S Tucson Boulevard for 2.5 miles

3.      Slight left at Benson Highway/I-10 BUS W

4.      Slight right at S Campbell Ave/S Kino Pkwy

5.      Continue on S Campbell Ave/S Kino Pkwy, about 4 miles

6.      Continue on same street even if names seems to change from Kino to Campbell

7.      Turn Left at E 6th Street (runs along the south-end of U of A campus) for less than a mile

8.      Make Right on N. Park Ave, go a couple blocks.

9.      Arrive Marshall Building, at 845 N Park Ave, Rm 490

Parking for events:

There is a University of Arizona parking structure across from the Marriott Hotel behind the Marshall Building on 2nd St, a couple blocks north-west.  Parking is $8 a day (unless they raised it again).  There are also handicap and metered parking near the building.

For more information on other modes of transport and parking or if you get lost :), contact John Costello at (760)521-7250 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Conference Schedule

Saturday 19 February, 9am-7pm

9am-10am: Breakfast provided by Conference Organizers

/Meet & Greet/Orientation

Opening Remarks (10am):

Gabriel M. Schivone and Jennifer C. Pashley, editors of the forthcoming book, Concrete Connections: Militarization, Migration, and the Political Economy of Human Rights in the Mexico/U.S. and Palestine/Israel Borderlands. Note: In the speaker/presenter list below, (***) indicates author/contributor to Concrete Connections.

10:30am-Noon: Panel:

Farcical Walls of Death and Suffering: From Mexico/US to Palestine/Israel

Dan Millis, Sierra Club Borderlands Campaign: “Environmental Impacts of the US/Mexico Border Wall”

Jakob Schiller, Graduate Student, University of New Mexico; Member, Committee for Justice in Palestine, Berkeley (2003)

Ehab Tamimi, Graduate student, University of Arizona; co-founder, UA Students for Justice in Palestine, Member, UA No Más Muertes/No More Deaths

Noon - 1pm:  Lunch provided by Conference Organizers

Insurgent Hip Hop / Poetry Slam & Open Mic

Remi Kanazi, editor of Poets for Palestine and author of brand new (first) collection of poetry, Poetic Injustice: Writings on Resistance and Palestine



1pm-1:30pm: Breakout/Discussion Session

1:30pm-3:30pm: KEYNOTE ADDRESSES (2 hours):

Huwaida Arraf,

Chairperson, Free Gaza Movement and Co-Founder International Solidarity Movement

Raul Al-qaraz Ochoa***, Queer/migrant/community abolitionist: “Indocumentalismo / Brown Liberation, Revolutionary Abolitionism and the Emergence of an Underground Arizona”

3:30pm-6:30pm: Workshops/Presentations

Sessions: 40 min. each:

1.)***Migra Patrol/Cop Watch (MP/CW), civil documentary group


2.)***No More Deaths/No Más Muertes (NMD), humanitarian/migrant rights organization

Karen Figueroa, Desert Aid/City/Border Volunteering

Molly Little, Abuse Documentation

3.) ***Derechos Humanos, NGO/Human Rights Organization: "Community Impacts of US/Mexico Border Militarization"


4.) Brooke Lober, Organizer, AZ Jewish Voice for Peace, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Graduate Student, Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Arizona: "Unlearning Zionism: anti-racism, anti-imperialism, and Jewish opposition to the colonization of Palestine"

6:30pm: Dinner provided by Conference Organizers

7:30pm:  Optional Loft Cinema Film Showing (special $5 discounted rate to Concrete Connections conference participants!):

The Time That Remains (2010)


Subtitled “Chronicle of a Present Absentee,” this humorous, heartbreaking film is set among the Israeli Arab community and shot largely in homes and places in which writer/director Elia Suleiman’s family once lived. Inspired by his father’s diaries, letters his mother sent to family members who had fled the Israeli occupation, and the director’s own recollections, this beautifully-shot, semi-autobiographical portrait of Palestinians living as a minority in their own homeland spans from 1948 until the present, recounting the saga of Suleiman’s family in elegantly stylized, often strangely comic, episodes. Inserting himself as a silent observer reminiscent of Buster Keaton or Jacques Tati's Monsieur Hulot, Suleiman trains a keen eye on the absurdities of life in Nazareth. From the acclaimed director of DIVINE INTERVENTION.

(Elia Suleiman, 2010, Palestine/France, in Hebrew/Arabic/English with English subtitles, 109 mins., Not Rated, IFC Films) 35mm


From The Loft website (




Head west on E Broadway Blvd toward S Country Rd/S Country Club Rd 39 ft
2. Take the 1st right onto N Country Club Rd 0.9 mi
3. Turn right at E 2nd St 0.2 mi
4. Take the 2nd left onto N Cam Miramonte 0.1 mi
5. Turn left at E Speedway Blvd
Destination will be on the right
200 ft
The Loft's Address:
3233 E Speedway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85716

Sunday 20 February, 10am-2pm

9am - 10am: breakfast provided by Conference Organizers

10am-1pm: Workshops/Presentations (40 min. or less)

1.) Leilani Clark, La Raza Social Justice Education Project (SJEP), youth-led, ethnic studies activism/social education: “Ethnic Studies Timeline”

2.) ***Francisco Baires, Graduate Student, Anthropology, University of Arizona; member, UA for Border Justice: ”The Violence(s) of Migrant Deaths Caused by Fatal Immigration Policies”


Lunch provided by Conference Organizers

3.) Abby Okrent, Attorney, National Board Member, Jewish Voice for Peace; "Creating an Enemy Class: Legal Discrimination in Israel and Arizona"

4.) Activists on Trial: "The Irvine 11", Taher Herzallah, Student, University of California, Riverside; Member, American Muslims for Palestine, Students for Justice in Palestine, UCR

5.) ***Joseph Nevins, Geography Professor, Vassar College: “A narrative in conversation with Raja Shehadeh's Palestinian Walks as a way of thinking about occupation -- in both the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and Palisraelistine” (In absentia, prior unpublished material will be distributed as a special reading for participants.)

1pm-2pm: Closing Ceremonies:

Brown University Students for Justice in Palestine/Brown Immigrant Rights Coalition***, Semana Chicana 2009-present, “The ‘Concrete Connection’”.  Special guest speakers: Francesca Contreras, Gavriel Cutipa-Zorn, Crystal Guerra-Vance.

Unitarian Universalist Chalice No More Deaths is a ministry of the
Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson
Since Summer 2008