Archive for the ‘Simon Wiesenthal Center’ Category

“Not at this time.  Not in this place.”  AJ Duffy, regarding the discussion of Palestinian Human Rights.  10/13/06


Duffy called an emergency Human Rights Committee meeting, for October 13.  Before the meeting,  several activists, including Human Rights Committee member, David Rapkin, and founding Committee member and UTLA Charter member, Don White, were turned away and told that they were not qualified to be in attendance.  Other UTLA members who were not Committee members, were allowed into the meeting, under the pretext of leadership roles within the Union, or because they had relevant information, or were personally affected by the decision.  At the meeting, it was asserted that MDS/SDS had betrayed the Committee by circulating a leaflet calling for a rally, and for obscuring the intention of the meeting http://cafeintifada.wordpress.com/2006/10/12/three-letters-steve-seal-public-and-private/.  It was further asserted that Café Intifada founder, Emma Rosenthal, had obstructed democratic process by posting information to the listserve  that provided members with information related to decisions, and Committee housekeeping, for not editing post content of members, and for posting more than anyone else.  (No guidelines for moderation, had ever been established, except that the list was for discussing HRC business, and not for posting articles or events, except as they informed HRC decisions.) Newly named, Director of Communications, Dan Barnhart,  in stark contrast to his previously stated positions in support of the meeting, list and web page, as well as the HRC’s support of Palestinian solidarity, presented a detailed graph of the  number of posts by members of the Committee.  He was critical of the use of the rise-up listserve because of its radical affiliations. It should be noted that the listserve had three moderators: Emma Rosenthal, who, under the direction of the Committee, founded the list,  Steve Seal, Committee Chair, and Andy Griggs, past Chair.  Nonetheless, the list itself,  was blamed for the decision taken, and Emma was blamed for the list. All posts by list moderators were attributed to her, and not to either of the two men, who were also moderators. 

One of the issues raised by the Zionist organizations was a link to “extremist groups” on the Human Rights Committee web page.  Rosenthal had recently updated the web page, including links to human rights organizations, particularly those who had worked with the Human Rights Committee, including Cafe Intifada, which had been repeatedly targeted during this campaign.  Upon updating the webpage, she had posted the link to the listserve for group input and approval.  Suggestions for additional material and links were made, as were some orthographic improvements, including linking to sister organizations, such as Cafe Intifada and CAMS.  

It was decided at the meeting, to destroy the list, along with the public announcement list, and the web page;  all of which were associated with Rosenthal’s  initiative and based in Committee approval.   The Committee did agree to the following statement, to be posted on the webpage.

The Human Rights Committee of UTLA is in the process of reviewing our structure and function to better implement our mission statement. The website is temporarily unavailable. Your understanding is appreciated.”

 It is quite clear to Cafe Intifada, that in addition to providing President Duffy with the face saving statement (above), the purpose of the meeting was the destruction of any of the contribution over the years of Emma Rosenthal,  and to assure that she would have no place in the leadership of the Committee in the future. (Despite Rosenthal’s activism within the Committee, she was one of the few members of the Committee NOT contacted by Duffy prior to his decision to cancel the meeting.)     As activist, Linda Baughn, stated afterward, “the unifying principle at work was opportunism.”  Activists within the Committee who had initially voted to hold the BDS meeting, vying for power within the Committee, having waged a brutal campaign against Emma on the issue of disability rights,  opportunistically sided with the UTLA “progressive” leadership,  who, in a desperate attempt to save their popularity within the Union, under pressure from a well orchestrated and well funded campaign by the Jewish Zionist establishment,  joined ranks,  in shutting down the meeting, dismantling the Committee infrastructure and blacklisting Rosenthal.   Had this been simply the matter of an ill advised meeting, then simple cancelation would have been sufficient, not the destruction of the entire infrastructure of the committee, including the archive of communication on the listserves.  Of important note, prior to the cancelation of the meeting by Duffy, efforts were being made to have the meeting canceled by MDS and Cafe Intifada for security reasons.  This would have allowed for the cancelation of the meeting without casting any slanderous attacks on individuals or groups, without blacklisting, without character assassination, without shutting down an entire committee, without destroying union democracy, without throwing around terms like “extremist” or “fringe”.  When Board Member Andy Griggs alerted Duffy to this development Duffy’s response was that he wasn’t willing to wait.  Before Rosenthal could contact MDS and get confirmation (a process that took less than an hour) the decision had been made and accusatory press releases had been issued.  

During the meeting, President Duffy, repeatedly referenced emails and letters from hundreds of teachers, and offered to allow any of the Committee members access to the letters. 

The following chronology, taken from the dialogue on the listserve, was presented by Emma Rosenthal,  at the meeting, where she specifically asked if there were any differences of opinion to that  account of the chronology and there was none. The original chronology included the first name, of all committee members.  Café Intifada has replaced some of the names with initials. Names of people who have provided consent, as well as Committee Chair, Steve Seal, UTLA Board Members, and UTLA Officers, remain, as identified.  

During the meeting, Rosenthal also provided the Committee with information regarding some of the Zionist groups who had waged this campaign of letters, meetings and emails, including Stand With Us, and their black list, secret dossier on individual activist.  Presenting Rosenthal’s  Stand With Us dossier,  which prints out to 62 pages,  she demonstrated the degree of privatized espionage that these groups carry out in singling out activists critical of Israeli policy.  (Stand With Us’ blacklist is not available to the public.  One must apply for a special password to gain access.  It was a rare opportunity that allowed Rosenthal to get ahold of the materials  about her, The dossier is available to select student groups, and the press,)   http://www.stand4facts.org/

For information on the campaign within the Committee, against Rosenthal,  due to her assertion of disability rights, go to: http://inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com/category/utla-human-rights-committee/

  When activists turn on each other, especially in the face of death threats and blacklisting, the results can be devastating.  This lack of discipline (revolutionary discipline- the discipline necessary to really confront the vast machine that leftist activists claim they want to disassemble,) can have horrible results.  These actions put people in real danger.  These are not simply school yard pranks, which, though considered innocent, have other devastating consequences.  These are real purges in a very real world, that leave real people in very real danger.

Especially distressing is the deafening silence.  The acts of voiceless complicity, the attempts to protect one’s own program, agenda, image, at all cost.  So many activists quietly voiced support, in private, but made no public statements of support or principle. 

The brutal campaign launched by a mighty, external establishment, wrapped in the language of human rights, but brazenly out to control the narrative on the Middle East, limit academic freedom and free speech, and isolate activists, is part of a larger political agenda, reaching well beyond the walls of UTLA. It isn’t as simple as Steve Seal might suggest: that we pick our battles.  This battle picked us.  And we responded terribly.

No doubt, Cafe Intifada will need to find other venues to fight for justice, and in the present climate, between the attacks on Emma Rosenthal on this issue and the issue of disability rights, there  may require time for reflection and retreat.  There is much work to do;  if nothing else, at the very least, there is study; an important activity; study, gaining new insights or new skills.  Let’s see where we go from here.

Café Intifada


Chronology to a Decision:
  1. Sept 14, Steve posts to the list, Larry Lambert’s request for a meeting room.*   Steve asks the members: Is this something we  want to do?

                Andy posts:  I support this.

                Emma posts:  yes

               R.L. writes: I think so

                Linda Baughn writes: Does anybody know these people?

                Andy posts: Yes–I have worked with many of the members of SDS-MDS over the years–the only reason I am not involved now is the lack of  time.

                Emma Writes:  yes, i plan to be involved in this, as part of the l.a. palestine labor solidarity committee.  i referred them to steve.

                Linda writes : cool

                Emma writes: Wow, I always wanted to be cool.

                A. I.  posts:  Yes, however one reality is that UTLA is pretty booked up in October.  I know that Sat. Oct. 7th is booked, and  Evy said October is very  full.

                   Emma posts: good point.  they only need one room, and they’re pretty flexible about the time.  there’s a room near L.T.’s office that isn’t used much. i don’t know the room number, but she does.

Sept 15    Steve posts in an email on the agenda for the upcoming meeting:

                I will be out of town next week for a few days so if anyone can work on the room for SDS It would be appreciated by them and me.

                Emma Posts: I can take care of the  room for SDS. 

Sept 16

                M. R.  posts: I vote yes

There is no further discussion on list about this meeting, though during this entire period several people post on other issues and no dissenting positions are expressed at the meeting on Sept. 27.  Andy and I work on getting a room.  There is some discussion between me, Andy and Larry regarding the wording of UTLA HRC’s role in the meeting.  Based on past precedent when hosting a meeting that we are not producing (see below!) we decide to state that the meeting is hosted by the HRC.

Sept 29   Steve posts, including the email announcement of the meeting, ** which clearly states that HRC is hosting the meeting:

I hope people in our committee are planning on being there for this to assist in logistics and to make sure it runs smoothly since we are listed as a “meeting host”  I will not be there due to prior commitments.

Emma posts   i’m on it!  i encouraged others to attend as well.

Oct 1: The announcement is made on several progressive  listserves.

Oct 3: Duffy cuts the link from the UTLA page to the HRC page and posts a public letter stating that he will not censor a committee.  Carolina from communications contacts me telling me to post it to the HRC page and that I am to remove all links to other organizations.  I tell her that I can’t do anything without the direction of the Committee.  I forward her email to the committee and ask for suggestions.

Oct. 4

          Steve posts:  Hello all,  <>Just wanted to let you know that there is some controversy brewing around our “hosting” of the meeting on the MDS/SDS thing on the 14th of this month.  There has been pressure on the union to not have the meeting at UTLA and to not have the HRC host it.  Since this is not being run by our committee directly I feel it is probably in our interests to pick our battles and possibly pull our hosting.  This has turned into more work for us than it should be.  Duffy wants to have a meeting to discuss this issue soon.<> I will keep you informed.

Over the next few days the following people weigh in (some of the responses are quite lengthy and are available on our archive.)

Agree to cancel:  R. L. R. U.

Don’t agree: Emma, Andy, Michael, Dan (Barnhart), Linda,  M.R.

A.I. writes “I’d like to do that.”  Which I think means she wanted to cancel the meeting.

In a conversation with Andy, on  October 5, the day he decided to cancel the meeting, Duffy reports that he spoke with 10 members of the Committee and that not all agreed with him.  There are 26 members on the Committee.

And here we are!



—– Original Message —–

  From: steve seal

  To: hrc-disc

  Sent: Thursday, September 14, 2006 9:03 PM

  Subject: [utla-hrc-discussion] Fw: [Al-Awda-Los-Angeles] Fw: BDS CAMPAIGN IN LOS ANGELES AREA

  Hello all,

  Does this look like something we should do for the group?  Let me know what you think.


  —– Original Message —–

  From: larrylambert

 To: larry lambert

  Cc: Steve Seal

  Sent: Thursday, September 14, 2006 8:24 PM

  Subject: Re: [Al-Awda-Los-Angeles] Fw: BDS CAMPAIGN IN LOS ANGELES AREA

  Hi, Steve —–

  I’m  a member of the Los Angeles chapter of Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS) , the non-student affiliate of Students for a Democratic Society  We are looking for a venue for a meeting we are having to plan a Boycott, Divestment , Sanctions campaign against Israel anytime  between Oct 2- 6th or Oct 9-13th( in the evening from 8 -9:30 PM ) or at 1 or 2 PM to 4 PM on Saturday, Oct 7th or Saturday, Oct 14th. Please let me know if you could donate the use of a meeting room at UTLA headquarters to accommodate 20-30 persons on one of the above dates. Of course, should you be willing to donate meeting space to us, we will specify in our publicity and announcements  that our meeting is not endorsed or sponsored by your organization

  Thanks in advance for any help you can provide —

  Larry Lambert

  SoCal MDS



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Why would organizations like the ADL or the Simon Wiesenthal Center  (SWC) who at least claim to be human rights organizations, campaign to limit union democracy and non violent protest by demanding that UTLA (United Teachers Los Angeles)  cancel a class for teachers  sponsored by the AFSC and a meeting to discuss nonviolent resistance to Israeli brutality such as boycotts,  sanctions and divestiture?  I mean, maybe concern for the actions of RADICAL  groups (can you say, red baiting?) like the SDS or Cafe Intifada, but who can have a qualm with the Quakers?  they’re like the teddy bears of the human rights world.  




It’s the battle for narrative, Shut down the Quakers, and it all shuts down.  

Then the Zionist shrills, the bull dogs for U.S. imperialism and Israeli colonialism, wrapped in the garb of human rights, can justify the continued oppression of the Palestinian people by maintaining a narrative that denies their existence in the first place.  A class like the AFSC class provides essential information to teachers about all the varied cultures of the Middle East, including Palestine, and this is something the Museum of Tolerance’s  (MOT) SWC, just can’t tolerate!  Imagine if classrooms of school children, a fraction of those paraded through the MOT every year, indoctrinated in the Israeli narrative, might consider the humanity of the people on whose bones Israeli society is built?  Imagine if classrooms of school children considered the humanity of the millions of people in the Middle East, including those dying under bombs built with tax payers money at the expense of education, health care, housing and other social programs in the U.S.  Imagine  the Israeli narrative, a mirrored version of the U.S. narrative of an empty land of savages/terrorists, settled by determined brave pioneers, venturing into the wilderness, in a territory of manifest destiny and divine ordination, having left oppression and persecution; challenged by the very real, very visible humanity of the Palestinians.  Imagine if the lack of real democracy, the Jim Crow type separation, (housing, education, roads, neighborhoods) along with the apartheid/ reservation system of isolation, control and dependency masked as sovereignty, became apparent as part of a real pedagogy?  


NO!  don’t imagine! Defend the right to at the very least, present an alternative narrative to the narrow and obscure myths of Israeli divine providence. Demand the continued presentation of the historical record, of the diversity of culture, religion, values, beliefs of the peoples of a vast region, without needing the stamp of approval of an establishment of  the ADL or the Simon Wiesenthal Center, those corporate funded neo-liberal bastions of censorship and hegemony who manipulate a history of suffering and the rhetoric of human rights in the service of empire!  

-Cafe Intifada



AFSC Urges Wiesenthal Center to Show Tolerance

AFSC Urges Wiesenthal Center to Show Tolerance

Press Release – October 11, 2006

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is deeply disturbed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s October 4th letter to United Teachers Los Angeles President A. J. Duffy and its press release of the same day entitled “Wiesenthal Center Urges UTLA President To Act Against Extremists’ Anti-Israel Campaign.” The Wiesenthal Center is urging UTLA to drop an AFSC-sponsored teacher workshop without reviewing the course content and without having expressed concerns to us or the faculty. Bringing unfounded accusations of bias and extremism against AFSC because we work with both Israeli and Palestinian groups seems inconsistent with the Wiesenthal Center’s commitment to tolerance, dignity and human rights.

AFSC, a Quaker organization, was a co-recipient of the 1947 Nobel Peace Price. In his presentation speech Gunnar Jahn, chair of the Nobel Committee, noted: “The Quakers have shown us that it is possible to carry into action … sympathy with others; the desire to help others.without regard to nationality or race; feelings which, when carried into deeds, must provide the foundations of a lasting peace.” We bring this same spirit to our Middle East Peace work today. Our staff embraces many different faith traditions, including Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Our staff in Jerusalem, Ramallah and throughout the US are dedicated to finding a peaceful, just resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The LAUSD-approved professional development course has been offered twice now as part of our effort to promote understanding and to challenge anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish attitudes by providing balanced, factual information about the history, economics, politics and culture of the Middle East. Oversight of the course rests with our Middle East Peace Education Program Committee which currently includes three Jewish members. At our invitation, a reporter from the The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles and an observer from the Anti-Defamation League attended the course, sitting in on several sessions. We have received no complaints of bias from those who have first-hand experience with the course.

Tolerance surely begins with respectful dialogue and a commitment to be fair and accurate in representing those with whom we disagree. We ask the Wiesenthal Center to show tolerance for those who have come to a different conclusion about some of the thorny problems facing the region and to refrain from using lies, inaccuracies and innuendo to discredit an organization that has been actively working for peace in the Middle East since 1949. We ask the Wiesenthal Center to cease its efforts at censorship of this carefully reviewed and accredited course and to retract the misleading statement currently on its web site.

The American Friends Service Committee is an international peace and justice organization with a regional office in the downtown Los Angeles area. Founded in 1917 and governed by the Society of Friends (Quakers), its programs of peace, relief, reconciliation and development are based on non-violence and belief in the inherent goodness of all persons. In 1947, AFSC accepted the Noble Peace Prize on behalf of all Quakers worldwide.

View the Wiesenthal Center’s letter to UTLA President A. J. Duffy:


View the Wiesenthal Center’s statement:


Learn more about the AFSC’s Middle East Teacher Resource Project:


American Friends Service Committee

Pacific Southwest Regional Office

634 S. Spring Street, 3rd Floor | Los Angeles, CA 90014
Office: 213.489.1900 | Fax: 213.489.1910
losangeles@afsc.org | www.afsc.org/losangeles

Please visit our national website to learn more about the AFSC:

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“By perpetrating the insidious lie that Israel, where all citizens have equal rights, is no different from the former apartheid regime in South Africa, these activists seek to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish State. In fact, Israel is a democracy that encourages vibrant debate, has a flourishing free press, and is one of the United States’ closest allies.”
-ADL Statement (see below) 

The ADL: Privatized Espionage: 
What cynical words, given the ADL’s history of espionage of organizations fighting South African Apartheid and U.S. intervention in Central America, along with the San Francisco Labor Council, ILWU Local 10, and the Oakland Educational Association,  NAACP, Irish Northern Aid, International Indian Treaty Council and the Asian Law Caucus.  Yet another example of the ADL as a tool of imperialism and oppression, wrapped up in the garment of human rights.  

Anti-Defamation League Accused of Spying, New York Times, October 24, 1993

The ADL Spying Case is Over.  The Struggle Continues.  Counterpunch, February 25, 2002.  http://www.counterpunch.org/adlspying2.html
Attacking the mission statement of the Human Rights Committee:
In the statement that follows, which was posted to the web page of the ADL, the HRC is accused of straying from its mission:

“The mission statement of the UTLA Human Rights Committee, as posted on its Web site, promotes “social justice and the peaceful resolution of conflict for its members, other office staff, students, parents, the community, the nation, and the global community.””
The full UNEDITED mission statement of the Human Rights Committee reads as follows: 

The Human Rights Committee of United Teachers Los Angeles promotes social justice and the peaceful resolution of conflict for its members, other office staff, students, parents, the community, the nation, and the global community. It advocates that UTLA and its state and national affiliates work for public policies that reduce violence, promote diversity, increase awareness of basic human and civil rights, support the rights of all workers, protect the environment, oppose the privatization and militarization of schools and society, reduce the military budget, and increase funding for education and other social programs.

All of the typical rhetoric: “Israel is a democracy”….”All citizens have equal rights”…”the HRC is singling out Israel”…etc. 

But the Human Rights Committee hasn’t singled out Israel.  Over the years the Committee has addressed human rights issues on every continent on the earth where there is a human population.  To not include Israel in raising issues of militarism or privitization, the environment, workers rights or basic human and civil rights would be SINGLING OUT ISRAEL. 


The statement ends with a quote from Amanda Suskind, Regional Director of the Southern California branch of the ADL:

  “While the ADL is a strong supporter of everyone’s right to free speech, we are concerned that hateful rhetoric will not be productive for anyone during these troubled times.”

When is free speech supportable?  When it matches the agenda of the ADL?  Does it have to be productive to be free speech?  As Noam Chomsky asserted; “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”

Emma Rosenthal
-Cafe Intifada

ADL Denounces UTLA Human Rights Committee For Hosting Anti-Israel Meeting      

Update:  After hearing from concerned Jewish groups, The United Teachers Los Angeles cancelled plans by one of its committees to host a pro-Palestinian rally at union headquarters.  Union President A.J. Duffy said in a statement: “While as educators and union members we encourage a respectful debate on the important issues of the day, this event has provoked very sharp feelings among our members and concerns that this meeting is inappropriate.”  The new location has not yet been announced.

Los Angeles, CA, October 5, 2006 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today denounced as “deplorable and offensive” a campaign to promote a strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions against the State of Israel.  The campaign is the subject of an anti-Israel meeting being hosted by the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) Human Rights Committee and being held at UTLA headquarters on October 14.

According to a flier about the meeting and a posting on the Human Rights Committee Web site, the subject of the meeting is a “local boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign in support of the Palestinian people.”

“This labor union committee is providing a forum to launch a deplorable and offensive campaign to isolate and vilify the State of Israel,” said Amanda Susskind, ADL Los Angeles Regional Director.  “The flier takes a strongly one-sided view of the conflict, is full of anti-Israel propaganda, and makes no effort to reflect the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

According to ADL, the so-called “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” strategy is really a campaign for the elimination of the State of Israel, spearheaded by extremist groups who use the same hateful rhetoric as states like Iran and terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.

By perpetrating the insidious lie that Israel, where all citizens have equal rights, is no different from the former apartheid regime in South Africa, these activists seek to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish State. In fact, Israel is a democracy that encourages vibrant debate, has a flourishing free press, and is one of the United States’ closest allies.

“These campaigns are anti-Semitic for two reasons: first, they single out Israel for this treatment, while ignoring human rights abusers from Sudan to North Korea; second, these campaigns seek to deny only the Jewish people the right of national self-determination,” said Susskind.

The mission statement of the UTLA Human Rights Committee, as posted on its Web site, promotes “social justice and the peaceful resolution of conflict for its members, other office staff, students, parents, the community, the nation, and the global community.”

“It is ironic that a committee with such a noble mission, and that represents educators, would use its platform for misguided attempts to condemn the only country in the Middle East where scholarship and debate are permitted to flourish,” said Susskind.  “While the ADL is a strong supporter of everyone’s right to free speech, we are concerned that hateful rhetoric will not be productive for anyone during these troubled times.”

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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   For immediate release

Media Contact:  Marla Eby

      UTLA Communications Director


Press Statement – UTLA Human Rights Committee Meeting

October 5, 2006 –  United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) has decided to cancel the use of our building for a meeting sponsored by the Los Angeles Chapter of the Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS), scheduled to be held on October 14, 2006 at UTLA Headquarters, calling for a campaign to boycott Israel.

The following statement was made today by UTLA President A.J. Duffy:

“After conferring with the Chair of the Human Rights Committee, a number of its members and others, we have decided to pull the meeting scheduled by the Human Rights Committee.”

“While as educators and union members we encourage a respectful debate on the important issues of the day, this event has provoked very sharp feelings among our members and concerns that this meeting is inappropriate.”

“We believe that to proceed with this meeting will only polarize our union members and members of the community.  No one benefits from further hostility on these issues.  We would hope that people of good will with differing views on the Middle East and other issues will find the appropriate settings for these discussions.”

“The following actions have been taken by UTLA:

1.     We have cancelled the UTLA location for this meeting.

2.     We have deleted the link on the UTLA web site to the Human Rights Committee web site and the information on this event.

3.     We will be reviewing our procedures for the request of use of our facilities by all UTLA Committees.” 

For more information, contact Marla Eby at 213-368-6247.

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This press release, from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, identifies MDS/SDS, the Los Angeles Palestine Labor Solidarity Committee (a project of Cafe Intifada) and the American Friends Service Committee as extremist groups that UTLA needs to distance itself from. Under the mistaken impression that the AFSC class was schedule to be taught later this month (it was taught this time, last year) and armed with the proposed BDS meeting, the Wiesenthal Center, ADL, Stand With Us and other Zionist organizations, descended upon UTLA, launching a well planned and well coordinated letter writing and email campaign that brought all other activity within the Union (according to UTLA President Duffy) to a halt. Demanding a “balanced” presentation of the issues, that none of these groups even begin to model themselves. They came armed with dossiers on Cafe Intifada, Emma Rosenthal, the AFSC, Linda Tubach (who teachers the AFSC class) and the list of workshops and speakers featured at UTLA HRC conferences, which generally cover a range of human rights issues, including the issues arising out of the Middle East and DEMANDED that the AFSC class and the BDS meeting be canceled and all ties to these “extremist” be severed. Little matter that many of these “extremists” are union members with the rights of members; more right than this posse to determine priorities and participate in discourse within the Union hall. Such a demand is nothing less than blacklisting and the new red baiting. Is support for Israel the new loyalty oath, designed to limit debate within progressive and labor organizations? -Cafe Intifadad

2006 News Releases

October 4, 2006



The Simon Wiesenthal Center is urging President A.J. Duffy of the United Teachers of Los Angeles UTLA to publicly condemn two activities that promote an agenda against Israel. One is a campaign endorsed by the Los Angeles chapter of the Movement for a Democratic Society and the Los Angeles Palestine Labor Solidarity Committee that seeks to punish the State of Israel for what it calls “aggression, dispossession and oppression” with boycotts, divestment and sanctions. The campaign calls for a boycott of Israeli products and services, a divestment of companies that do business in Israel and for the US government to stop military and foreign aid to Israel as well as imposing a trade embargo on the State. It is being launched at an event hosted by the Human Rights Committee of the UTLA at UTLA headquarters on October 14. 

Center officials spoke yesterday with President Duffy to press these concerns. “Our community is deeply disturbed the UTLA could allow its facility and good name to be used by some of the most extreme anti-peace organizations whose sole agenda is to demonize and delegitimize the State of Israel,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of  the Wiesenthal Center.  “While we appreciate President Duffy’s assurances that they are looking into legal avenues to block these meetings, we have urged him to publicly denounce those who spur antisemitism by applying a double standard on Israel–the only true democracy in the Middle East,” added Cooper.

Cooper said that the divestment campaign is just part of an ongoing international campaign to cast Israel as an international pariah by specifically targets unions, churches and local NGOs. The Wiesenthal Center has been on the forefront in protesting these actions, which have included efforts by teachers unions in the UK, the largest public sector union in Canada, and such mainline Protestant bodies as the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) and the United Church of Christ.

The other UTLA activity protested by the Jewish community is a credit course for teachers on the Middle East by American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) scheduled for next week at the union’s headquarters. The AFSC has long been accused of associating with anti-Israel causes. The Wiesenthal Center is urging the Union to drop the current course and instead develop its own course that would offer a fair and balanced course that “reflects the narratives of both people in the Holy Land.”

“The UTLA, which is one of the senior partners in teaching and mentoring our children, must not allow extremists to cut and paste an ongoing anti-Israel campaign onto UTLA’s agenda,” concluded Rabbi Cooper.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS and the Council of Europe.

For more information, please contact the Center’s Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036.

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January 16, 2006

US Neocons Accuse Chavez of Anti-Semitism

by Jim Lobe

Despite objections by major Jewish organizations in Venezuela and the United States, some influential U.S. neoconservatives are charging President Hugo Chavez with anti-Semitism, which they say is consistent with the country’s friendly relations with Iran.

In what appears to be a new line of attack against the populist leader, two of the White House’s favorite publications this week ran articles denouncing remarks made by Chavez in a televised address to the nation Christmas Eve as anti-Semitic.

Quoting Chavez as declaring that “minorities, the descendants of those who crucified Christ, have taken over the riches of the world,” the Wall Street Journal‘s “Americas” columnist, Mary Anastasia O’Grady, charged that his words constituted an “ugly anti-Semitic swipe that was of a piece with an insidious assault over the past several years on the country’s Jewish community.”

Her column, entitled “The New Tehran-Caracas Axis,” came in the wake of another article published Thursday in the neoconservative Weekly Standard that also focused on Chavez’ Christmas Eve broadcast as evidence, along with his “alliance” with Iran, of anti-Jewish animus.

“On Christmas Eve, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez’s Christian-Socialist cant drifted into anti-Semitism,” began the article, titled “Blast From the Past: Hugo Chavez veers into anti-Semitism while explaining how to create a workers’ paradise,” by Aaron Mannes, author of the “TerrorBlog” and a book on Middle East terrorism published by the Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs.

To his credit, Mannes’ rendition of Chavez’ remarks included a phrase in the middle of the sentence that was omitted by O’Grady, which identified “the descendants” not only as those “that crucified Christ,” but also “the descendants of the same ones that kicked [South American liberator Simon] Bolivar out of here and also crucified him in their own way over there in Santa Marta, in Colombia.”

As additional evidence of Chavez’ anti-Semitism, Mannes cited his past association with “Holocaust-denying Argentine social scientist Norberto Ceresole,” his praise of imprisoned terrorist Illich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as the retired terrorist “Carlos the Jackal,” and his meetings with former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi. Mannes also cited Chavez’ “alliance” with the Islamic Republic of Iran and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel’s destruction.

Nor was this the first time that the Weekly Standard, which, along with theJournal, has depicted Chavez as a dangerous demagogue inimical to U.S. interests in South America and beyond, has charged the Venezuelan leader with anti-Semitism.

In another article last August, for example, it wrote that “[h]ostility to Jews has become one of the hallmarks of the Venezuelan government” under Chavez “and of Chavismo, the neo-fascist ideology named for him.”

The article pointed in particular to a raid carried out on the Hebraica Jewish elementary school in Caracas in November 2004 by police commandos who were allegedly searching for weapons linked to the bombing that killed a local prosecutor, amid rumors that the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad may have equipped the perpetrators.

“The Hebraica raid was not an isolated or random act of state-sponsored anti-Jewish violence,” wrote the Standard‘s Thor Halvorssen, president of a New York-based group called the Human Rights Foundation, who noted that the raid coincided with Chavez’ visit to Teheran. As O’Grady wrote Friday, the raid was “a way to show Tehran that Venezuela is on board.”

What is remarkable, however, is that the charge of anti-Semitism, which recalls remarkably similar accusations by the Reagan administration, neoconservatives, and the Wall Street Journal against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government 20 years ago, does not appear to be shared either by close observers of Venezuelan politics here, nor by some prominent U.S. Jewish organizations, nor even by the leadership of the Jewish community in Venezuela.

“Chavez has a lot of rage,” noted Michael Shifter, an influential and oft-quoted Andean specialist and vice-president of the Inter-American Dialogue, who has been outspoken in his criticism of the Venezuelan leadership, “but it hasn’t been driven toward Jews in particular.”

The Hebraica raid was ordered by a local judge acting on his own initiative without the approval or direction of the central government, according to Shifter.

As to the anti-Semitic interpretation of Chavez’ Christmas Eve remarks by O’Grady and Mannes, who in fact were echoing a formal protest to Caracas last week by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, it was explicitly rejected by Fred Pressner, president of the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela (CAIV), as well as two major U.S. Jewish groups.

“You have interfered in the political status, in the security, and in the well-being of our community,” according to a draft letter from the CIAV to the Wiesenthal Center obtained by The Forward, the largest-circulation Jewish newspaper in the United States. “You have acted on your own, without consulting us, on issues that you don’t know or understand.”

“We believe the president was not talking about Jews and that the Jewish world must learn to work together,” according to the draft letter, which noted that the latest protest was the third time that the Wiesenthal Center had publicly criticized Chavez without first consulting the local community.

The two U.S. groups – the American Jewish Committee and the American Jewish Congress, both of which have Latin America divisions – echoed Pressner’s contention that Chavez’ comments, when considered in their full context, including sentences that both preceded and followed the (already abridged) sentence quoted by O’Grady and Mannes, were not aimed at Jews.

Rather, they believe the target was the white oligarchy that has dominated Venezuela’s and South America’s economy since colonial times – a theme that has dominated much of Chavez’ political rhetoric for the past seven years.

Whether that will make any difference in the public or internal administration debate over U.S. policy towards Chavez is doubtful, however, as both the Journal and the Standard reach a much wider audience than The Forward and are particularly influential in key administration offices, notably that of Vice President Dick Cheney. The New York Times has reported that the White House receives 50 copies of theStandard, which is edited by William Kristol.

Ironically, Kristol’s father, Irving Kristol, and the Journal‘s editorial page to which he contributed, led a public campaign to discredit Argentine publisher Jacobo Timerman when he emerged in 1980 from two-and-a-half years of imprisonment in secret prisons in Argentina claiming that Jews like himself had been systematically singled out for the worst treatment and torture by a military regime whose ideology was as close to Nazism as any since World War II.

Unlike Venezuela today, Argentina was then seen by the incoming Ronald Reagan administration (1981-1989) and its neoconservative backers as a vital Cold War ally.

(Inter Press Service)

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