What follows is an email I received from a staff member of UTLA, acting on Duffy’s directive, to contact me regarding the content of the HRC web page, and my email to the HRC listserve re that directive. I have replaced her name with “-UTLA STAFF PERSON-“.
——– Original Message ——–
Subject: [utla-hrc-discussion] VERY IMPORTANT!!!! [Fwd: From Duffy for website]
Date: Thu, 05 Oct 2006 01:44:02 -0700
From: Emma Rosenthal
Reply-To: email@example.com,Emma Rosenthal
To: HRC Discussion
i received a phone call from “-UTLA STAFF PERSON-” from the communications department that duffy had taken our list link off of the utla web page because it was not an official UTLA page and instead inserted the attached statement and that he was TELLING us to add the same statement to our own page. i told her that i could not make that change without consulting the hrc, that the decision as to what to put on the web page is not mine alone. so i need to hear from all of you about the attached statement. i will do what the group suggests. also, he has instructed us to take off all links to other groups. right now the only links are to cams and to cafe intifada. we had also wanted to produce a list of teacher resources. this is extremely hobbling and does not allow us to network or work with other human rights organizations. i don’t see how we can comply with this directive. i am concerned about the content of the letter’s last paragraph as it encourages “jewish” groups to contact us. i think it should say at the very least, community groups and members. to favor one ethnic/religious group seems odd. it gives the impression that we are bowing to outside interests and only interested in hearing from “one side” of the issue. it also assumes that all jewish groups are unanimous on this issue and calls into question who is jewish, or, at the very least, which jewish groups are the legitimate and unique voice of the jewish community. (technically, cafe intifada is a jewish group!)
what we are experiencing is not at all unfamiliar to those of us who have worked on the issue of palestine solidarity. apparently zionist groups have launched a massive campaign to pressure utla to not allow this meeting, which probably would have been a modest gathering. they have sent email messages to all the temples who have contacted their members who are now calling duffy. so far duffy has only heard from these voices (as has steve, myself, andy, larry and now, hrc via our email address; firstname.lastname@example.org) a simple google search indicates that the “individuals” that are sending these emails are leaders of zionist groups such as the american jewish congress (which has purchased caterpillar stock and has encouraged caterpillar to continue to provide bulldozers used to destroy palestinian homes and communities) and stand with us, an extreme group that often harasses and attempts to provoke to violence, any gathering and demonstration that supports the rights of the palestinian people to basic human rights and democratic process. to bow to this pressure would be very dangerous, though tempting. these groups are relentless, well funded and persuasive. they do not allow open forums on the issue of palestine within their own programs, yet are demanding at the very least, that this organizational meeting (of the mds) either be canceled or “balanced.” it would seem from many of the emails, that “pro-israel = balanced” and any concern for palestinian human rights is “genocidal”. (several of the emails i have received have said this!) have not doubt; if we cancel this meeting this will encourage this campaign whenever we attempt to address the situation in middle east and u.s. and israeli policy. everything we do will come under this scrutiny and we will have to bow to their will at every conference, forum and salary point project we attempt to produce. they have already tried repeatedly to block the afsc class on the middle east. we cannot allow this brazen support of militarism, privatization, empire and genocide, couched in the language of human rights (anti-semitism, the holocaust) to go unchallenged. i think andy’s suggestions are really right on target. i am going to talk to larry at mds this weekend and talk about the format and security. (some of these detractors are very violent and disruptive.) also, duffy needs to hear from utla teachers and community groups that support this forum and this issue as a human rights issue, that supporting palestinian human rights is not anti-jewish, that many jews are very vocal supporters of palestinian human rights. duffy is only hearing one side because the other side is mobilized and has been alerted to the controversy. it’s just a matter of time before word gets out of this controversial attempt to close down a meeting because it offends the sensibilities of those who don’t want any critical discussion of israeli policy. also, we need to address the autonomy of our web page, get it back linked to utla and establish that we need to address all human rights issues, including those that are unpopular. what next!!!??
——– Original Message ——–
Subject: From Duffy for website
Date: Tue, 3 Oct 2006 16:31:26 -0700
From: “-UTLA STAFF PERSON-”
Attached is the message Duffy wants to have on your website —
I’ve gotten many phone calls from people who are upset because the Human Rights Committee is holding a meeting and has invited the Palestinian Labor Solidarity Committee to speak. Many of you are incensed and upset. This committee meeting does not in any way imply UTLA support. It is a format for discussion provided by the UTLA HumanRights Committee..
I will not interject my personal feelings into this matter and will simply remind you that this is a democratic union in a democratic nation and I will not sponsor censorship. As incensed as you might be I would hope you would be ten times as incensed if I started to determine who can and who cannot speak on issues in our committees. The UTLA Human Rights Committee is one of 33 UTLA standing committees.
If anybody out there is affiliated with a pro Israel group, please contact Stephen Seal, the Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee, email email@example.com, so that your views can be heard. I do not schedule these events nor are they organized by UTLA. This is done by the Human Rights Committee.
p.s. UTLA has decided to eliminate any links from UTLA Committee pages to outside websites.
We apologize for any confusion this has created.
A.J. Duffy encourages Jewish organizations to contact the Human Rights Committee, email
firstname.lastname@example.org, to express their concerns and arrange for a presentation of their