Vital Signs: Oil Giants for Feminism; Maple Spring Revival

Ben Lorber

The Changing Face of International Women’s Day: The first International Women’s Day in 1911 was the conception of socialists who wanted to expand women’s participation in the parties and trade unions. The idea behind it was that men would stay home and care for the children, while women went out and attended meetings. Since then, the holiday has been corporatized to the point that we’re now being asked to Discover BP’s Feminine Side.” But the holiday hasn’t been completely evacuated of its political edge: Check out this article on international women’s day celebrations aimed at ending femicide in Mexico over at Bitch.

Expose AIPAC: On March 1st, activists from the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and Code Pink descended on Capitol Hill to greet members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The pro-Israel lobbying group is urging lawmakers to exempt aid to Israel from slated across-the-board cuts to government spending, by passing legislation to label Israel a major strategic ally.’ Hoping that times of austerity would would change the conversation around AIPAC, activists staged a series of protests and workshops with the aim of eroding the near-unanimous support the lobbying group has enjoyed on Capitol Hill. Second only to Afghanistan, Israel receives more than $3 billion in U.S. aid every year.

Down With Athena,’ Say Greeks: Thousands of university students marched in Athens this week to protest a new higher education reform bill that will cut deficits in the education budget by closing or merging more than 350 departments in universities nationwide. The proposed plan, ironically named Athena’ after the Greek goddess of wisdom, has come under fire from students, many of whom will have to move to different cities to continue study, or else end up with a different degree entirely. As chants of we want our diplomas, not worthless documents’ echoed across the streets of Athens, Greece shows little sign of recovering from the severe debt crisis that has thrown the country into tumult since 2009.

Maple Spring Revival: Montreal’s Maple Spring’ may not be over just yet. On Tuesday, thousands of students demonstrated in Montreal against tuition fee increases levied by Montreal’s Parti Québécois (PQ). Quebec’s vibrant student movement had declared victory last after the newly-elected PQ cancelled the tuition hike that sparked a massive student strike last year. But students are returning to the streets following an announcement by Premier Pauline Marois at an education summit last week that her government will increase tuition fees by 3%, only slightly less than the previously ruling Liberal party.

Ben Lorber is Campus Coordinator for Jewish Voice for Peace.
Brandon Johnson
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