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Archive for December, 2006

December 25 2006 (10:35:00) US/Pacific

Blogs:
I maintain a few blogs; the baggage of enforced respite.  I literally have lots of time on my hands, the consequence of a disability that leaves me physically limited but usually intellectually quite limber, and while there are days when I lack the strength to sit up in bed or raise my hands to access the keyboard, most of the time I am able to click away.
The first blog I started is called In Bed With Frida Kahlo. It is named after disabled activist and artist, Frida Kahlo, whose life story, including her strengths and weaknesses; gives me fortitude and insight.   This is a very personal blog about my struggles with disability and the massive discrimination that accompanies it.  It includes diary posts, recipes, poems, art work, photographs, daily indignities and other musings. 

The second blog I started was the Café Intifada blog, which is a bulletin board of events and articles of interest to artivists and other activists.  I also include poetry, art, commentary, photos etc. It is the official web page of Cafe Intifada, the organization I head up.  

The next blog I developed is Emma’s Room, and it simply publishes my completed, more formal writings; mostly essays. 

The Frida blog includes the entire history of the conflict in the Human Rights Committee and UTLA as it pertains to disability, so for those Café Intifada readers who are following the issue of death threats and hate speech, the Frida blog provides some of the back drop as well as the more personal contemplations on both that situation and the current challenge of personal security, anonymous threats and political and social isolation.

emma’s blogs:
In Bed With Frida Kahlo:_Daily indignities, small insurrections and honest musings from a life of_infirmity and rebellion_http://inbedwithfridakahlo.blogsource.com
Emma Rosenthal: A blog of political essays, letters and news._http://emmarosenthal.blogsource.com

Café Intifada: Uniting Art with Critical Consciousness:_http://cafeintifada.blogsource.com/

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Letters to UTLA Re the BDS Meeting

After the death threats, Andy and I decided to take Duffy up on his offer to view the letters received.  We went  to the Communications Office and requested the file.  After a short wait, while staff got permission from Duffy to let us see the documents he had publicly said could be seen, we were handed a 3 inch three ring binder full of letters.  Having second thoughts Duffy, came down and insisted that we hold in confidence the content of the letters.  Of course, if I were really the extremist, fringe radical supporter of terrorists as he and the other detractors had asserted, by what right was he showing us the letters at all?

And more to his quandary, who is UTLA (the recent campaign, included buttons that every member could wear, stating “I AM UTLA.”)  When one send a letter to a Union, who has the right to see that letter?  Who holds that confidence?

But I’m actually much better about confidences than Duffy is.  So it isn’t too hard to honor his request, to a degree.  I won’t mention any of the names  (with one exception) associated with the letters, but the contents of the letters, as reported by Duffy, and the communications department, informed some rather drastic decisions and put my own health and safety at risk.  Some accountability is called for. 

The most glaring observation was that the letters were separated into pro and con sections.  Most disappointing was the absolute lack of attention to detail on the part of UTLA staff who divided the letters into these categories.  While many Jews, supportive of Palestinian rights had written,  to support the meeting and  to express their opposition to the campaign being waged to silence the discussion, “As a Jewish person I support the right and efforts of the Human Rights Committee to host this meeting ….”  all such letters were included in the pile of letters asking for the cancelation of the meeting;  the apparent assumption that anyone who identified as Jewish must be supportive of the brutality of the Israeli regime and Israeli apartheid.  Was this laziness, political opportunism, or was the head of the Communications department so uninformed about current events that she couldn’t understand what was truly being communicated?  All that effort people made in writing letters, to be lumped in with a world view so diametrically opposed to  their own because of the simplistic and incompetent oversight in dealing with a complex situation.

The week that the meeting was to be held at UTLA we did hold a rescheduled BDS meeting, and for security reasons, had decided that it would be by invitation only, in an undisclosed place.  Nonetheless, two informants from Stand with Us found a way to attend, claiming to be “from UTLA”, and claiming to support BDS. One of them, (and I will mention this name) , a leader within Stand With Us, Aggie Hoffman,  also had sent letter to UTLA, which was in the binder, condemning the meeting, using the same name she used when she attended the meeting.  So prominent an activists, a simple google image search confirmed that she was infact the infiltrator of the same name.  Since the meeting was opened to a small group of activists, the list of people who informed this Zionist group, is also a short list.  Taking notes the entire time, including names, one wonders what will come of this report.  Stand with Us already maintains a detailed list of enemies,  (My dossier is over 60 pages long) , and is in close communication and collaboration with the Israeli Consulate. 

Another letter, from a member of the Human Rights Committee  supported Duffy’s decision,  attacked me, personally, accused me of going by several names, listed those names, including Emma Goldman, and explained that Andy was a great activist, who had been led astray since involving himself with me. 

Letter after letter, in rote use of the same words,  condemned me, and Café Intifada as extremists who support terrorism, and from whom UTLA should disassociate.  It was with this deluge of letters calling specifically for my marginalization, along with that strange alliance within the HRC that had fueled the outcome of the meeting, where all others who had been party to the decision were spared, including Andy, but where it was made abundantly clear that any activism on my part within the union would be extremely minimal.  They couldn’t stop me from attending meetings and events, but they could (as they had already demonstrated on disability rights, ) limit my participation and assure me heaps of humiliation. 

Also attacked in the letters, was SDS/MDS who had initially requested a space for what would have been a modest meeting;  also characterized as a fringe, extremist group, referencing not only the SDS of the Sixties (which Andy had actually been a member of) and the Weather Underground which grew out of SDS, but also such “fringe” extremists” as current advisory board members, Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky.

In addition to the statements condemning SDS/MDS, Café Intifada and myself, were the following  illustrious comments.  The person whose name was signatory to the death threat was not among the letter writers.

“My grandfather would have shown up with a baseball bat and straightened you Jew haters right out.” 

 

“Allowing open support for Hamas and Hezbollah under a union banner.”

 

“UTLA should not affiliate with MDS, Café Intifada or any other extremist organization.”

“The intifada means kill Jews where ever they are.” 

(Intifada means to shake off, and refers to shaking off oppression, specifically a brutal occupation.  In Arabic, Warsaw Ghetto uprising, would be “Intifada Warsaw.”  Holocaust studies would not be possible in Arabic, without the word, intifada. –Emma)

 “As a member of UTLA I find UTLA’s action to have a meeting to boycott divestment and other sanctions against Isreal for defending herself from the outrageous (sic) terrierorist (sic) that call them seifs (sic) Palestinines (sic). “

 

“Use your influence to stop this abominable hate-filled campaign that can only lead to incitement to violence against Jews, Isreal and all those who understand the true character of the conflict.“

“…and turned the corner of the massive corruption in the schools, allowing social promotion, out of control gang violence and intimidation of teachers students, abysmally low academic performance, a policy of catering to illegal aliens who are effectively lowing (sic) the academic bar and causing a new attitude of “reconquista” to be acceptable and of course the intolerable political correctness which takes priority over academic rigor and honesty.”

“You eloquently advocated for the rights of blacks latinos gays lesbians trans-dressers—what about advocating for American god justice civic responsibility and academic excellence. “

 

“Your decision to start an anti-Israel (read genocide of the Jewish state) is outrageous! Instead of fostering a climate of learning you show that you don’t give a damn about education of the children in Los Angeles. If Hitler were alive today you would, no doubt, support him as well!”

Several letters included the following statement, verbatim:

“The campaign by the UTLA  Human Rights Committee to collaborate with the Movement for a Democratic Society and Cafe Intifada, two fringe political groups with no connection to the Los Angeles public schools, in order to stir up anti-Israel ideology  is abhorrent.

The UTLA should review and reform its constitutional foundations which enabled the HRC to stray from its stated mission to “promote . . . the peaceful resolution of conflict.”  

The AJC is gravely concerned about the persistent problems that challenge the public schools’ ability to fulfill the vital roles of educating and acculturating our children. Parents must be assured that their children’s teachers are not being misinformed by UTLA and bringing unexamined propaganda into the classroom.  

HRC Chairman Stephen Seal deserves a failing grade for not effectively educating UTLA members in a balanced manner. Divestment is not a constructive criticism of Israel; it is an attack meant to weaken a democratic, American ally.  “

Remarkably identical to a portion of the letter from the American Jewish Congress https://cafeintifada.wordpress.com/2009/10/23/letter-from-th…-patrick-duffy/ 

 

 

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Terrorism and the Value of Women’s Lives

The recent threat on my life has caused a flurry of concern. Friends offer safe house. The police have increased patrol. The FBI has is investigating the source of the threat. Andy and I have increased our vigilance and have taken special precaution to protect ourselves.

But truth be told, the chances of any woman being killed by a stranger is pretty remote. Unlike most women whose lives have been threatened, my would be killer lives on the other side of my front door. I can turn the key. I can lock him out.

Not so for many.

Statistically, the most dangerous place for women and children is in our own homes.

Statistically, the most dangerous place for women and children is in our own homes.

Statistically, the most dangerous place for women and children is in our own homes; the bedroom and the kitchen, particularly.

Most homicides against women are perpetrated by the men in our own lives: the ones that Patriarchy insists are assigned to protect us. Most rapes are carried out, not by strangers, but by men who we have trusted or who have, in the case of fathers, step-fathers, uncles, brothers; men who have been entrusted with our care. Women who kill their abuser, even in self defense, during an attack, get much longer prison sentences than men, who, after years of abuse, kill their victims. One very frightening statistic is that the leading cause of death of pregnant women, is in fact, homicide, often by the father of the developing fetus.

This is the daily terrorism that millions of women, around the world live with every day. And they cannot lock the door.

These are not the first death threats I have received in my life, and my actions and statements against hegemony and patriarchy have frequently brought out the wrath of individual as well as collective groups of men. There is no separation here. These threats are symptomatic of a larger system of domination, control and power that is threatened by empowered women, in our homes or in the larger community.

As a young, dynamic, vibrant and wide-eyed college student, I was very involved in the emerging women’s anti-violence movement that flourished at the end of the seventies. We were the generation that brought voice to a new lexicon; the language of abuse; “domestic violence,” “sexual harassment,” “date rape, ” “hostile working environment.” These were new social concepts that had not been considered before.

At the College I attended for the first two years of my four year undergraduate endeavor, we successfully had a full professor dismissed for sleeping with students; that is, making sex a part of his mandatory curriculum in exchange for the guidance that would have, one might have thought, simply come with admission to the college, for doing the work, for showing an interest in the subject matter, for coming to class.

And while arguments flew back and forth about consent, the point was raised; what about the women that didn’t consent and therefore didn’t get the same attention? –the participants aren’t the only victims.

We also raised the issue of date rape, violence on campus, domestic violence and the generally accepted subjugation of women.

I was (surprise, surprise!) especially outspoken.

And for this, I was pummeled with death threats, and was stalked for the entire five years I lived in that town.

When I attempted to report the threats and the stalking I was told by the campus and the town police that they couldn’t do anything until something actually happened to me, that stalking and threats weren’t a crime.

Again, because of the work of women and other similarly ostracized and disempowered groups, this too has changed. These threats are now considered hate crimes. Stalking is now a felony.

This very domestic terrorism; of race and gender is part of the changing lexicon.

For those of us who have been activists for several decades, who came of age during the sixties and the seventies, surely we had expected the world would look very different than it does now. We would have hoped more might have been achieved, that we would be part of the organization a more just society. Instead we find ourselves up against an enormously dangerous death machine.

But these are among the successes of our generation.

It is not legal to send an email to a woman whose point of view you don’t agree with, and threaten to kill her.

It is a hate crime if it is based on gender, religion or ethnicity.

It is 6 am. Andy is still asleep.

I type.

The day is rushing to greet us.

There is much work to do.

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http://inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com/2006/12/20/diary-post-death-threats-and-a-womans-voice/

 

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UPDATE: Now Who’s The Terrorist: Death Wishes and Death Threats
Keeping Safe

I’ve received several emails and phone calls from concerned friends and allies. Your well wishes give me great comfort. Special thanks to those of you who have offered me safe house, should I need it. Also, thanks to the City of Baldwin Park, especially the Mayor and (yes) the Police Department for taking these threats and hate crimes very seriously, for beginning an investigation and for increasing patrol around my home.

I am in the process of also reporting these threats to the FBI, which should be an amusing interview, especially if they ask me questions about my activism, since I’m sure there’s little about me they don’t have in a file somewhere. Special thanks to the Council of American Islamic Relations who is assisting me in making this report to the federal authorities.

Just This Evening….

Andy went out for a bit. His phone rang and I answered it. A man’s voice on the other end asked for “Mr. Andy Griggs.” I told him that he wasn’t in.

“Who’s calling?” I asked.

The caller started to sing “Tin Solders and Nixon…”

The phone went dead.

Aside from lyrics to Neil Young’s song, “Ohio” it is also a refrain in one of my poems.

I called Andy, who rushed home and I called the local police. Andy lives in a different city than I do. The police here, have increased patrol around the house and are now aware of the situation.

Okay, bravado aside: This is scary shit!

I try to live an open, honest life, but it is hard enough waging a war against enemies I cannot see, unarmed, against those who threaten violence. There are aspects of my actions and decisions that, for security reasons, must be secret. I will be posting only events that have already occurred, and not discussing in any detail, plans for the future. Andy reminds me that there are parts of life that must be private, and when it comes to the stories of other people, I hold that information in the strictest of confidence, but I also believe that Silence = Death and that transformation can only occur in the open.

Such complexities.

Such violent times.

Going a bit underground for the time being. But I’ll make sure to let everyone know what I dig
up.

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I remember as a child, for a small donation one could have a tree planted in their name or in the name of a loved one. I don’t know how many trees were planted in my name. It wasn’t until much later that I was brought to understand this rather innocent sounding campaign went towards planting non-native pine trees that disrupt the local eco-system by fueling forest fires, and that many of these trees were planted on top of the rubble of destroyed Palestinian villages to hide the genocide and displacement that had taken place; the denial of the life, culture, community that had existed.
Today, Israel is continuing its campaign to destroy the Palestinians and drive them from the land (and I don’t call it ethnic cleansing, because there’s nothing clean about it!!!!) One of the ways this is carried out is by destroying the homes and farms of the people and not allowing them to rebuild or replant.
By making a holiday gift of $25 you can assist in this fair trade effort.
Long live the resistance of ordinary seeds!
Emma Rosenthal_Cafe Intifada!
Even if you are at war with a city…you must not destroy its trees for the tree of the fields is man’s life.
Deut. 20: 19-20

Plant 35,000 olive trees in Palestine

Launched in late 2005, the “Trees for Life: Planting Peace in Palestine” program created by Zatoun-Canada to share with partners around the world has is gaining much momentum and support. With the help of our primary partner and organization on the ground in Palestine, Palestine Fair Trade Association, the program was designed to ensure an equitable and efficient program and provide maximum benefit to the Palestinian farmers who need it the most. __Trees for Life provides individual Palestinian farmers with new olive tree saplings (3 years old) to plant and nurture in order to renew their decimated groves. The project will help offset the enormous destruction of olive trees by the Israeli army, settlers and the illegal Annexation Wall.

To Make a Donation

Olive farmers in the regions of Jenin, Nablus Salfit, and Ramallah receive 25 to 50 olive tree saplings each. The program was designed to keep costs down to an incredibly efficient $2.00 (USD) per sapling. in addition, PFTA representatives will deliver and distribute the olive saplings and ensure prompt planting. They will also visit all participant farmers after planting to ensure proper care of the trees and assess watering needs for the summer months. Farmers requiring assistance to water trees during summer will be assisted by PFTA.__The program will help connect Palestinian fair trade farmers and producers to the grassroots fair trade movement in Europe and North America in a meaningful way. The Trees for Life project is solely funded by grassroots movements abroad and invested in the fair trade movement in Palestine.__Planting Peace in Palestine is not merely a subheading. It is a statement of our sincere belief that Palestine must be a viable economic entity and its people must have the means to earning a livelihood if there is to be a true partner for a just peace.

THE GOAL FOR 2006 _For 2006, the worldwide goal for Trees for Life is to raise $75,000 to enable the planting of 35,000 olive tree saplings in approximately 1,000 farms distributed over 25 agricultural areas across Palestine. __Zatoun in Canada will contribute over $15,000 CDN in 2006 to Trees for Life from the sale of Zatoun olive oil alone. We have been very successful in attracting direct donations to the program as well. In total Canada hopes to provide $25,000 or 1/3 of the worldwide goal. __In a recent survey of Zatoun supporters (203 responders), a heartening 75% indicated they were likely or very likely to donate in 2006 to Trees for Life. Please join them in your intention and actions.__For Updates & Final Report on the completed 2005-06 Campaign & Planting (click here)_
Tens of thousands of olive tree sapling will be planted in Palestine _every year in December and January.

Recipient Selection
Farmers interested in participating in the project apply through PFTA coordinators. Allocations are granted based on the following criteria which the applicant must meet:
. be a certified member of the Palestine Fair Trade Association program for the production of olive oil. If a new farmer, applicant must demonstrate readiness to become fair trade certified and be willing to implement fair trade guidelines;
. own a land suitable for the number of trees applied for;
. demonstrate capacity to care for and nurture trees;
. be ready to prepare land for a collective tree plantation day. All trees must be planted day delivered. PFTA Representatives will deliver and distribute the trees and ensure prompt planting.
Priority will be given to the following applicants:
. Farmers that have lost trees to the Israeli destruction and uprooting;
. Small farmers;
. Women that own their land and are interested in farming;
. Young starter farmers that have inherited or acquired land.
Questions? info@treesforlifepalestine.org

Make a Donation to Trees for Life
through the non-profit oranization:_End the Occupation

The olive farmers of Palestine thank you for your support!
Zatoun is a non-profit organization and does not have charitable, tax-deductible status but donations can be made through End the Occupation:
End the Occupation

We need partners in Canada, Europe and the US to help fund this project.
With your interest and efforts, we’ll plant 35,000 trees together.

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<>Save the Date!
for the
Palestinian-American Women Association (PAWA)Annual International Women’s Day Banquet

Featuring

Palestinian poet, playwright, and writer
Natalie Handal

She has directed and is the author of numerous plays and books including the award winning anthology, The Poetry of Arab Women. Her most recent poetry book, The Lives of Rain, is Shortlisted for The Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry/The Pitt Poetry Series.

Look for more of our exciting program to be announced at a later date

When: Saturday, March 10, 2007
Where: Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites,
La Mirada, CA

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