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 â€œpromote . . . 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 childrenâ€™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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