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Archive for March, 2007

LAND DAY  – A MESSAGE FROM THE FREE PALESTINE ALLIANCE

Day of the Land – A Lasting Stand for Liberation and Return
March 30, is Day of the Land (“Yaoum Al-Ard”) for the Palestinian people.    In 1976, Palestinian Arab masses within the areas colonized by Zionism in 1948 rose up in the Galilee (Al-Jaleel) in a popular rebellion against land expropriation and Zionization of Palestine. From that day, March 30th has become the embodiment of the oneness of the Palestinian people in the face of exile, destitution, and attempted theft of our national identity.   Successive uprisings has since taken place, mostly within 1967 borders, just as they have been all over Palestine since the turn of the 20th century in opposition of consecutive colonial policies.   It is a day to celebrate the relentless resistance of a people facing conspiracies at the hands of a tripartite assault: US imperial designs, the Zionist movement, and despotic Arab functionaries.  Only yesterday, functionaries wearing the garbs of national leaders, completed their assembly in Riyadh, the heart of the Arab peninsula (Al-Jazeera Al-Arabiyya) , as they convened the Nineteenth Arab Summit for the purpose of reaffirming the so-called “Arab Initiative”, which capitulates in total to the demands of Israel and the US State Department.  In addition to transforming Arab land into playgrounds for invading armies, another key part of this presumably Arab plan is to open wide the Arab gates for Zionist normalization while simultaneously using linguistic acrobatics and detractions, like “finding a solution of the refugee problem”, or “solving the refugee problem in accordance with international law”, to terminate the Palestinian Right of Return.   We warn that any language that explicitly avoids supporting the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees to their original homes and property along with payment of all due compensation, is an attempt to maneuver around this non-negotiable and inalienable right. We also warn of language that talks about a Palestinian state within 1967 border and remind all that Palestinian land is not divisible.   These same leaders also had the audacity to speak of Arab unity and to issue a fake criticism of the US ongoing destruction of Iraq.  As if we are to forget that it is these very functionaries who either opened Arab gates for the US armed forces to overtake Iraq, or rode in as conquerors of Iraq on US Humvees, and who continue to make Arab lands available for US imperial military bases.  They are the ones who watched from the sidelines as Israeli forces swept into Lebanon scorching the land and people, some even cheering the Israelis to finish the job quickly; although to their dismay, Israel instead was dealt a major defeat.  They are the ones who bartered Palestine and its people for crumbs at the back doors of the White House, while watching successive policies of strangulation further cripple the besieged Palestinian people.  And as they speak of “unity”, in reality they are implementing US designs of sectarianism and de-Arabization, pitting even families against each other, as evident in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon.   Our Day of the Land is a sustaining challenge to these very political programs. It is a unifying cry that insists on the Arab belonging of Palestine despite the passage of time.  It is our people’s stance for history to record that we are one and indivisible.   The Free Palestine Alliance – USAMarch 30, 2007

For more information on Land Day:

http://umkahlil.blogspot.com/2007/03/palestinians-commemorate-day-of-land.html

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What follows is a call for letters, and my own letter regarding this situation.

Emma

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Letter from Students for Change:

San Jose State University is censoring the tunnel of oppression and students
for change needs your help!  We were selected, by application, to construct
a room themed Occupation Palestine at this year’s tunnel of oppression
After complaints from Zionists on campus, we have been told that unless we
compromise our room we cannot participate. We are not being allowed to
present the Israeli occupation from a Palestinian perspective unless we
present how Israel suffers as well. Our argument is that this room focuses
on the oppression that is occurring within the occupied territories but the
university maintains that this is going to make Israeli/Jewish students feel
persecuted. I further argue that, when dealing with oppression, you are
always going to have someone who says there is “another side”  and if this
were to stop this room, it should then stop the entire event.  I am asking
that you contact the university and tell them you support the room
Occupation Palestine AS IT IS and that any attempt to prevent this room from
proceeding as planned should be deemed CENSORSHIP.  Please contact Debra
Griffith, the director of Student Conduct & Ethical  development at
Debra.Griffith@sjsu.edu

Thanks!
Sarah Morris

and please share your thoughts/suggestions with Sarah Morris as well, at
studentsforchange@sbcglobal.net.

My Letter:
Dear Ms. Griffith,

I am a Jewish human rights activist, writing to you regarding the controversy surrounding the upcoming “Tunnel of Oppression” program and am writing in support of Students for Change’s effort to bring into public dialogue the experience of the Palestinian people.  In identifying myself as Jewish, I do so with the intent of presenting myself as a small representation of the vast diversity of thought within the Jewish community on this subject; a diversity obscured and denied by those groups, who, while claiming to protect and defend my interests would limit such discourse.

How you choose to respond to local pressure groups cuts to the very core of academic freedom and the free discourse that is essential to every college campus and the learning process. It is a debate that is playing itself out on campuses and other public venues throughout this country and is essentially a battle of the control of narrative.  Zionist groups have, for many years controlled that narrative, limiting debate, attacking individuals and groups who dare to contradict the official line of the Israeli government.  Many of these groups claim to represent all Jews or insist that any critique of Israeli policy is anti-Semitic. They insist that those critics provide “balance” in their programs, while providing little or no balance in their own representations of the issues. In this case, I understand that Students for Change is being told to modify its content to reflect the “Israeli perspective” (as if there were one monolithic Israeli position) because otherwise Jewish students will “feel persecuted.”  When the Jewish Student Union at your campus recently hosted the Israeli Consul, was there any attempt at balance in that program? Are there not Arab and Palestinian students on your campus who might likewise “feel persecuted” by such an event?

The attempt by Zionist groups to impose some arbitrary concept of “balance” serves as its own form of persecution. The organizations claiming to represent all Jews, in truth, represent only those Jews who fund their efforts.  The rest of us go unrepresented.  Furthermore, as we attempt to infuse our own narrative into the debate, a narrative of solidarity with Palestinians, recognizing Palestinian human rights, and social justice and human rights as universal, we find ourselves often persecuted by those very Zionist groups that claim to be opposed to our persecution. I have found myself silenced, as a Jew, by these very groups.  They have wrapped themselves in the language of human rights, while promoting an agenda that would negate the humanity of an entire people and a voice to anyone (Jewish or otherwise) who would speak in support of that humanity.

The correct response is not to limit debate, nor to insist that any individual or group be forced to present a position that is not their own, nor to dictate the scope of the debate or the content of a presentation; nor is it appropriate to bow to the influence of any one interest group over another, but rather to allow for the broadest dialogue, so that all individuals are free to express, explore and present their own scholarly, creative and moral perspectives within the context of the larger academic community.

To force Students for Change to present an opposing perspective would set a dangerous precedent. Dictating the content or the scope of their presentation is the antithesis of academic freedom and free speech.   What’s next: Requiring that women’s studies programs present anti-gay or anti-abortion positions?  (or right wing Christian groups having to present pro-gay, pro-choice positions?) or forcing biology classes to present creationist theories (so that fundamentalist Christians not “feel persecuted”)  or, insisting that Judaic studies classes and Holocaust Remembrance programs entertain the positions of those that would deny that history?

Balance in academia is not achieved by forcing individual academics to provide some distorted and imposed ideal of balance, but rather by fostering an environment that is tolerant of a diversity of opinions, narratives and perspectives.

I urge you, please impose no restrictions on this upcoming program, and avoid that slippery slope that, if applied universally could impact every course outline, student paper and presentation on your campus.

Sincerely,

Emma Rosenthal
Los Angeles, CA

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Well it’s been an amazing and overwhelming ride, forcing me into deep reflection and personal reorganization. There’s so much to write about, and I hope, now that the dust has cleared a bit in my own mind and my own home, that I will have the time to start blogging again.

I have had to struggle with how to post to a blog while threats on my life are being made, aware that any hint of my plans could provide a deadly indication of where I might be at any given time.

Andy and I have rearranged our lives, though a series of events, finally provided with the opportunity to combine our households, and my son is away at an excellent educational program that I hope will be able to meet his needs.

The last few months have been wrenching and I have struggled with issues of safety, isolation, ostracism and depression. The path is wide open, and I am not sure what my next step will be, though I am grateful that today I have begun to write again, inspired by attempts at censorship at SJSU, similar to the efforts that have brought down the UTLA Human Rights Committee. (I will be posting that letter to the Café Intifada blog, shortly!)

I have had to ask difficult questions, both deeply interpersonal and of the larger body politic. Certainly at the top of the list, is how to live an open, honest life while in hiding!!?? Strange, how I have been forced into hiding by the criminal, illegal and terrorist acts of my opponents. I have never been a bomb thrower or a guns runner, that’s not how I take to battle, (though I have had close friends who had gone down that road in their youth, in groups like the Weather Underground or the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee and their more secret spin offs. In the seventies and early eighties, there were many such groups in the U.S. I remember when I decided not to take that path.

So it seemed strange that I needed to hide where I was staying; to cloak my plans.

Andy and I have moved to Los Angeles. We are renting, so finding us is not as easy as it would be if we were homeowners. Our home phone is unlisted. We have installed a security system in the new place. Which is small, but meets our needs. We still need to install a ramp so that I can use my scooter. Bob McKloskey, ace carpinter and human rights activist, will be building it.

We live in a dynamic part of the city, near EVERYTHING; a relief from the bitter isolation of the suburbs. I have been consumed with the requisites of moving, as we leave two homes. What an ordeal. My health has been challenged, to say the least. The advocacy work on my son’s behalf has been no less overwhelming or demanding. It is very difficult to be the single mother of a child with a disability. Every agency, every program provides its own hurdles and humiliations, as if, in the pursuit of one’s child’s rights, one were trying to feed off of the system. –the welfare queen image, which seems to apply doubly to those of us with disabilities. – how amazing that even within my union, among human rights activists I have been accused of “not really being disabled!!” or that such discourse can go unexamined and unchallenged by other activists.

As I write I find myself leaving out tidbits to protect others and to hide our plans. If I were to write that I was anticipating going to a demonstration this weekend, a film tomorrow or a meeting next week, it would put everyone at those events in danger. If I describe a weekend alone while Andy is away at a conference, I alert those who would do me harm, that I am alone. I wanted to write about the process of finding and establishing a home but didn’t, at least until I could honestly say that we had a security system installed. I am committed to telling the truth in these pages. I am also committed to protecting, to the extent possible, the safety of myself and those around me. How do I live an honest and open life without providing information to those that would do me harm?

But these are the essential questions: How to be the change we want to see? How to live in the darkness as if the light were brightly lit? How to fight with a broken heart and open fist? How to love those who would do us harm? How to be strong and gentle? How to make peace in the midst of immense brutality? How to know who we really are, in a hall of mirrors?

Well, this is what I get to explore over the next days, weeks, months and years in both the In Bed with Frida Kahlo and the Café Intifada blogs.

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