1. Steve Seal’s OFFICIAL public statement, posted to the UTLA web page, regarding the controversy at UTLA- October 11, 2006.
2. Steve Seal’s email to the Human Rights Committee internal list serve, posted on October 6, 2006.
3. The original email Steve Seal sent to the list serve on September 14, 2006, along with SDS/MDS’s request for a meeting space.
Please note, my commentary, in italics, bold and parenthesis.
-Emma Rosenthal Café Intifada
1. Steve’s Public “Clarification”, posted to the UTLA Web Page.
As Chairperson of the UTLA Human Rights Committee, I am writing to clarify the matter of a meeting of the Movement for a Democratic Society. That group placed a request to a member of the committee for a meeting venue. (It has been the custom of committees to request space for student groups who need a meeting place). The HRC did not provide space for a “Rally”, nor take a position on any anti-Israel action.
(By not stating who the” member of the committee” is, he leaves it up to the imagination of the readers. The actual chronology of events is that Larry Lambert of SDS/MDS, contacted Steve Seal with a request for a meeting place, and Steve was the member of the Committee who posted the request to the HRC list. -Cafe Intifada)
Our secretary has affirmed that there is nothing in the minutes of the Human Rights Committee giving support, endorsement, co-hosting or any other permission to the MDS. The issue is not reflected in any minutes over the past few months. An email was sent to members on our list, asking them if they wished to provide space for that group to meet. Six people responded, three of them requesting more information. On the basis of this slim response, a room seating no more than 30 persons at the UTLA building, was requested for the group.
(The committee has frequently made decision via its listserve, otherwise, why have a listserve? Only two HRC members declined to be on the listserve, while often HRC meetings fail to obtain even 50% attendance. Information provided via listserve makes HRC decisions accessible to a greater number of members. When the original inquiry went out, there were no votes in opposition, and the decision to hold the meeting was affirmed by Steve, as Chair. -Cafe Intifada)
The reference in the LA Times that “the Human Rights Committee of UTLA had announced it would be a co-host of the rally (!)….and support a boycott against Israel” is totally false, and apparently based on a flier issued by the MDS.
(The use of the word “apparently” is extremely misleading. While we were all surprised by the L.A. Times headline, there is no evidence that SDS/MDS ever issued any leaflet; the only publicity they circulated was via email, clearly calling for meeting, not a rally, to discuss BDS. Despite repeated assertions by some UTLA activists, to the contrary, no leaflet, was ever produced. The word ‘rally” either came from the imagination of the LA Times or the UTLA leadership. No one holds a rally indoors in a room for 30 people. No one needs permission from UTLA to hold one outside on the sidewalk, where rallies are consistently held. -Cafe Intifada)
When the purpose of the meeting came to light, both UTLA and the Human Rights Committee cancelled permission to meet at UTLA. (The Human Rights Committee NEVER voted to cancel the meeting. The decision to cancel the meeting was made by President Duffy, who consulted with selected HRC members. The purpose of the meeting was never obscured. It was always clearly to discuss BDS.) The Human Rights Committee has never participated in a meeting or action without the approval of a majority of the HRC or on an issue not presented to the House Governing Body of UTLA.
(The role of committees within the union is essentially to bring new ideas to the house governing body. The only way to do that with the support of the majority of a committee is by meeting, either in person or via phone, letter or email. This statement is not only misleading but totally misrepresents the relationship between committees and the UTLA House or Reps.-Cafe Intifada)
The Human Rights Committee is proud of its unblemished record of over 25 years holding conferences and engaging in educational activities that support the human rights of our students and community. It would never be our policy to tackle an issue that has not been previously discussed by the House of UTLA and the membership of the Human Rights Committee, nor would we touch a controversial issue without advance planning and making certain that all sides of the issue are presented in a secure environment.
(This is patently untrue. The HRC does not bring in captains of industry to counter opposition to educational privatization, never invited Coca Cola executives to defend their position in Colombia, to counter the assertion by the committee that the union boycott Coca Cola products. The Human Rights Committee never hosted a speaker from the Salvadoran embassy or the U.S. State Department to counter the work of the Committee against U.S. intervention in Central America, including two conferences, and at least two publications. The Human Rights Committee never invited members of the armed services to argue the merits of militarizing the schools. Nor did the committee ever offer a place at the table for opponents to Fidel Castro or the current Cuban regime. In fact the only area of study in which we have provided broader debate has been the issue of Palestinian human rights, by including a member of the Jewish Labor Committee on a panel at one conference, as well as the showing of the film, Crossing the Line, Voices of Palestinians and Israelis, which provided voices of Israelis and Palestinians, across a spectrum of ideas.-Cafe Intifada)
We will not back away from important issues, but we certainly intend to take control of determining our issues, any support to outside groups, and how this is decided in the future.
Sincerely, Steve Seal,
Chairperson Human Rights Committee
2. Steve’s email to the Committee listserve:
——– Original Message ——–
Subject: [utla-hrc-discussion] re: developments
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2006 19:44:30 -0700
From: steve seal
“steve seal” To: hrc-disc
Well it has been a busy couple of days! Duffy contacted me this week about the controversies surrounding this meeting and he had also been in contact with others on this committee. On Thursday there was an urgent push to pull the meeting from UTLA grounds and I supported this move. I had already contacted Larry Lambert so that he knew that he might have to start to look for a new venue as a courtesy. The reason that I supported this was stated in my last e-mail about picking our battles. I want to just go over the timeline so all know what occurred regarding this meeting that has caused so much attention and how we got involved. We got an e-mail from the group who wanted to use the building to have a meeting and I sent out a call on our list if this was anything we could get behind. Some members responded that it was and Andy knew some of the members from other organizations we work with so it seemed solid. I made it clear that I would not be able to take part in this due to other constraints and told others to go ahead and look into a room. The committee did so and it was advertised and here we are today. I just wanted to let everyone know how we got involved in the first place. This was not to be something that we were going to be fully involved in from the start. We were just allowing a group with ties to our committee a place–as we have done with many other community groups and will do in the future. I think that it is very unfortunate that this has been blown out of proportion and that there has been undue pressure placed on all involved. I think we need to move beyond this situation and place our energy behind our conference with CAMS in November. This meeting was not going to be a major focus of our work, nor was it being run by anyone in our committee directly–we just got a room. I hope I stop getting the hate mail soon and that we can learn from this that we need to have direct association with groups and our committee for future events.
With great respect for you all,
3. Steve’s email, posted to the listserve, with the SDS/MDS request for a meeting space.
From: “steve seal”
Subject: Fw: [Al-Awda-Los-Angeles] Fw: BDS CAMPAIGN IN LOS ANGELES AREA
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2006 21:03:16 -0700
Hello all, Does this look like something we should do for the group? Let me know what you think.
—– Original Message —–
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 (SDS). 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