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Archive for May 15th, 2009

Please note the similarity of tactics and parties, here as with the situation within UTLA, the methodologies employed, rhetoric etc. to stifle debate, intimidate, limit academic (and union) freedom and free speech, to isolate dissident Jewish voices, and control the narrative in respect to Israeli policies, actions and history. When a concession is made in one instance, it empowers them the next time around.  While the impact of the decisions at UTLA impacted me, most directly, the repercussions for educators, activists and academics are extensive.  The opportunism that lead to the decision within UTLA,  to capitulate to Zionist pressure in October of 2006, resonates with the events transpiring at UCSB today.  -Cafe Intifada

 

“There’s growing division among Jews about how the U.S. should relate to Israel, and that’s intensified this ultra-Zionist campaign to discredit people critical of Israel precisely because Israel’s positions have become much more contested”   -Richard Falk, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights

 

Israel advocacy group “Stand With Us” pushes university administrators to investigate sociology professor

May 13, 2009
Contacts:      Daniel Olmos, (818) 468-8894, olmos@umail.ucsb.edu.
Alba Peña-Leon, (626) 665-9212, alba@umail.ucsb.edu.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.  The international pro-Israel organization “Stand With Us” is spearheading an aggressive public campaign to push administrators and faculty at the University of California at Santa Barbara to investigate sociology professor William I. Robinson for “anti-Semitism.”

The organization has set up a Web site to rally other pro-Israel organizations and individuals to pressure UCSB officials through public statements and letters to the chancellor and the Academic Senate. The group has recruited UCSB donors to write letters, some of which threaten to withdraw support for the university.

The Web site and letter campaign comes on top of direct pressure from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), whose national director, Abraham Foxman, met in March with university officials and faculty to demand that administrators censor Robinson for introducing materials critical of state Israeli policies in a course on global affairs in January.

The materials included a photo essay that Robinson forwarded to students from the Internet juxtaposing images of Israeli abuse against Palestinians with Nazi abuses during the holocaust. Two students took offense at the images and withdrew from the course, prompting the ADL to pressure the university to investigate Robinson for “anti-Semitism.”

Given the pressures from Stand With Us and ADL, scholars say the pro-Israel lobby appears to be using the Robinson case to intimidate critics in general and stem rising debate on campuses about Israeli policies in the Middle East.

Richard Falk, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories and a visiting scholar on global studies at UCSB, said it’s part of an emerging pattern by the Israeli lobby nationwide.

“There’s growing division among Jews about how the U.S. should relate to Israel, and that’s intensified this ultra-Zionist campaign to discredit people critical of Israel precisely because Israel’s positions have become much more contested,” Falk said.

“The pressures at UCSB have the appearance of a campaign generated and orchestrated from outside the campus.”

It’s unclear what effect the pressures may have, but one Stand With Us letter — dated March 16 and posted on the organization’s Web site — suggests that Chancellor Henry Yang may have made biased comments against Robinson under pressure.

The letter is directed to Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas and was written by Stand With Us International Director Roz Rothstein, board member Howard Waldow, and sociology student Leah Yadegar. It states that Waldow, a UCSB donor, had presented a letter of concern about Robinson to Yang at a reception, and in response, the chancellor suggested that the group write to Lucas.

“Chancellor Yang directed us to you, and raised the issue of possible violations of the Faculty Code of Conduct,” reads the letter to the vice chancellor.

About a week later, the Academic Senate opened a formal investigation of Robinson.

Although the letter has been posted for weeks on the Stand With Us blog, the university has made no official statement about the chancellor’s alleged suggestion that Robinson violated the Faculty Code of Conduct.

The university’s silence prompted Mark Levine, a Jewish professor of Middle Eastern studies at UC-Irvine and a member of the California Scholars for Academic Freedom, to call for an investigation of the chancellor’s interaction with Stand With Us.
“If the letter hasn’t been refuted, then one assumes the chancellor did say those things,” Levine said. “If so, he should be investigated for violation of university procedure and academic freedom, if not removed from office.”

Others want an investigation of the ADL’s March 9 meeting on campus with UCSB officials and faculty.

The Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) sent a letter on May 8 to Academic Senate Chair Joel Michelson requesting an investigation.

“Discussing the case with ADL representatives in any manner constituted a violation of Robinson’s right to confidentiality, and opened the door to the appearance of outside influence in the adjudicatory process,” MESA wrote.

Falk said the real danger is that, even if the charges against Robinson are dismissed, the pressures by pro-Israel organizations will still have a lasting effect.

“It’s an extremely unhealthy situation for the university, which depends on an atmosphere of academic freedom to perform effectively,” Falk said. “Even if Robinson is exonerated, it will continue to intimidate people against criticizing Israel, because nobody wants to face these kinds of situations.”

The Stand With Us blog can be viewed here.

For detailed information about the Robinson case, visit the Committee to Defend Academic Freedom Web site at http://www.sb4af.wordpress.com.

For media inquiries, call Alba Peña-Leon at (626) 665-9212 or Daniel Olmos at (818) 468-8894.

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Fiesta Shalom, in celebration of Israel’s 61 years of colonialism, will take place on Sunday at the restored Breed Street Shul in East Los Angeles. It promises to be a celebration of Jewish and Latino culture.

This event includes students from LAUSD, involved in LAUSD programs, such as the Roosevelt HS mariachis!!! (With all the insistence that UTLA members exercise “balance” when discussing the issue of Palestinian human rights, one has to ask: what balance is there when school children are encouraged to participate in a propagandistic event as part of a school sanctioned activity!!!!) 

What follows are links for more information.

So far Quetzal has pulled out of the program, citing misinformation when it was first invited. 

here is their letter:

http://www.artistsagainstapartheid.org/?tag=fiesta-shalom

But…..

Richard Montoya from Culture Clash (isn’t THAT ironic!) is master of ceremonies.

Self Help Graphics, Arte Calidad and Plaza de la Raza will be providing a workshop!!!!

Danza Floricanto will be performing

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=51208&o=all&op=1&view=all&subj=66057788721&aid=-1&id=1686616023&oid=66057788721

Contact info to encourage them to boycott:

::::::::
Arte Calidad Cultural Institute
519 S. Hewett St.
Los Angeles, Ca. 90013
(213) 617-0696
t.dominguez@artecalidad.org

To Contact Danza Floricanto/USA:

Please send email to: 
floricanto@earthlink.net

Plaza de la Raza:
information@plazadelaraza.org

Self Help Graphics:
info@selfhelpgraphics.com

I could not find contact info for Culture Clash. 

My letter:

I am very disappointed that you will be participating in the upcoming event “Fiesta Shalom” which celebrates Israeli “Independence” and is sponsored by the Israeli Consulate. 

Israel is a colonial settler state, with an apartheid system of segregation, with specific privileges granted on the basis of religious/ethnic identity. Israeli brutality against the indigenous Palestinian population has been well documented. 

Currently Palestinian cultural, community, educational and labor groups have called for a cultural boycott of Israel. 

Joining in this celebration gives legitimacy to Israeli brutality and supremacy. 

Already, Quetzal, who was originally scheduled to perform at this event, has pulled out.

http://www.artistsagainstapartheid.org/?tag=fiesta-shalom

As they state in the letter, improved relations between Jewish and Latino communities is a wonderful idea, but co-opting the Latino community in complicity with Israeli war crimes has little to do with improved community relations.

As a Jewish human rights activist, I encourage you to follow Quetzal’s example and withdraw from this event.

In solidarity, 
Emma Rosenthal

the event leaflet:

image001

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