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Archive for February, 2010

A Cafe Intifada response to demands made by Stand With Us*

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This week, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren spoke as a guest of the UC Irvine Law School.  Eleven students were arrested and may yet be EXPELLED because each uttered one sentence and then walking peacefully out of the hall.

Zionist, right wing organization, “Stand  With Us”   frequently  visiting upon events and demonstrations in Los Angeles, with provocative signs and disruptive tactics, including heckling and even acts of violence,  condemns these students for their outbursts, suggests shutting down the Muslim Student Union for its “obvious” leadership and demands disciplinary actions against the students.

The article asserts:

“The main lesson from Ambassador Oren is that we must stand up with dignity and eloquence for free speech.  If we do not, if speakers give up and walk off the stage, we risk sacrificing the civil dialogue essential to education and a bedrock of American values. ”

But what is the record of “Stand With Us” when it comes to free speech?

Some of their recent activities and advocacy  includes:

Blanket support for Israeli brutality including  Operation Cast Lead  -Israel’s invasion of Gaza last year- included in the devastation and death,  was the destruction of over 200 schools.  What disciplinary actions should be taken for that breech of free speech in an educational environment?  On this, Stand With Us stands with the Israeli military  and the Israeli government in shutting down and discrediting the Goldstone report.

Stand With Us  hosts a covert web page (Stand 4 Facts)  on activists and speakers to be used to contradict, disrupt and even prevent events from occurring on campus and to monitor those who would raise criticism of Israeli brutality.

(My dossier, the last time I had access, was 61 pages long! –with privatized espionage, there is NO freedom of information act!!!)

It uses this dossier to defame and discredit activists and educators.  Stand With Us was part of the contingent that DEMANDED that United Teachers Los Angeles President Duffy cancel a meeting hosted by the Human Rights Committee to DISCUSS boycott sanctions and divestiture from Israel.  That is, they felt that ANY discussion of this matter should not be allowed within a democratic union.  Along with the rest of the contingent that pressured the union, they demanded that the union disassociate from the groups sponsoring the event, INCLUDING UTLA MEMBERS!

Stand With Us shelters these demands by insisting that events be “balanced” and not “promote only one extreme view” But of course neither offiers nor demands any balance to a speech by the Ambassador from Israel, or the curricular materials and leaflets Stand with Us provides to educators and students.

Stand With Us was instrumental in the attacks against Professor Robinson at UCSB, stating “This case is a litmus test of whether professors can exploit their positions of authority to impose their political prejudices on students or whether the university truly will remain a place where all points of view can be comfortably and responsibly discussed.”

So– let get this straight!!!

When a law school sponsors a speaker who is the ambassador of a country, framed by security, police and University dignitaries, what HE has to say is protected speech, but when a university professor includes a photo essay in his supplemental material, it  “exploit(s) their positions of authority to impose their political prejudices on students.”

Stand With Us worked closely with Harvard Law Professor, and slime ball legal advocate for wealthy violent men who kill their wives,  Alan Dershowitz in convincing De Paul University to deny tenure to Norman Finklestein, and continues to  discredit Finkelstein, while collaborating with Dershowitz to pressure Hampshire College trustees to violate the college’s socially responsible investment policy that by definition, excludes companies complicit in Israeli human rights violations.

And they were front and center in the effort strip an L.A. County Commission on Human Relations award from Maher Hathout, a founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Not only does Stand With Us, NOT support free speech, open dialogue, respectful behavior or the free flow of ideas, but in addition to promoting the most brutal of Israeli policies, attempting to discredit ANY critics, attacking free speech and academic freedom, disrupting rallies and community events,  Stand With Us.  (along with their close affiliates- the ADL, the Simon Weisenthal Center, etc) in their effort to maintain the illusion of one Jewish voice, and the control of the narrative,  are actually more instrumental in silencing Jewish voices (of dissent) than any non-Jewish  organizations or entities within the United States.—so NOW who’s the anti-semite!!???

Groups like Stand With Us  set dangerous precedent, which is my main assertion—that these shills for Zion, actually have a more sinister role to play in the body politic closely aligned with privatization, attacks on democracy, U.S. empire, attacks on education, labor, the left and progressive efforts in general. They may wrap themselves in the memories and the fallout of the Shoah, manipulate with accusations of anti-Semitism,  and engage in and appeal to ethnic nationalism, but theirs is a much larger social agenda .  This isn’t JUST about Israel.

It’s about academic freedom.

It’s about free speech.

It’s about who controls dialogue and narrative.

It’s about democracy, hegemony and inevitably, U.S. Empire.

These eleven students, each, have been detained for simply shouting their opinions (not threats, not fire, just a point of view) in a public arena and walking out of the room!!!  While the collective impact may have been distressing for some of the event participants, the idea that a student in a university might be expelled or arrested for simply yelling briefly at an event should offend us all!

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Readers are encourage to contact the University and demand that these students experience no more violations of their rights, that all charges be dropped and that no disciplinary action taken.

REQUESTED ACTION:

Contact UCI Chancellor Michael Drake and the Dean of Students to voice your opposition to UCI’s treatment of students who practiced their First Amendment right and ensure they are not punished for peacefully voicing their opposition.

Chancellor Michael Drake
Telephone: (949)824-5011
Email: chancellor@uci.edu

Acting Dean of Students Rameen Talesh
Telephone: (949)824-5181
Email: deanstu@uci.edu

Read more: http://www.mpac.org/article.php?id=1027#ixzz0fM7r6O0m

References:

http://www.stand4facts.org/register.html

http://www.jewishjournal.com/thegodblog/item/standwithus_gets_signatures_for_ucsb_prof_investigation_20090501/

http://www.jewishjournal.com/israel/article/las_defenders_of_israel_20080215/

For the Stand With Us article referenced in this post:

http://www.standwithus.com/app/iNews/view_n.asp?ID=1329

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we wonder if any educators in l.a. would be interested in organizing an exhibit of the art work of the children of gaza?  maybe hosted by utla?  human rights committee? progressive educators?  the iso or solidarity?  the jewish labor committee? coalition against (oops, my bad, they changed their name) for alternatives to militarism in the schools?  
 

co sponsored by cafe intifada and the l.a. palestine labor solidarity committee?  (of course we would, but who in the hall would associate with us!!!) 

yeah, i didn’t think so!  

(probably why iso member, and utla board member david rapkin calls me “too extreme”!) 

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andy and i were coming home from grocery shopping this evening and our street, right by our house was blocked off by at least 5 lapd police cars who had surrounded one of my neighbors, a young man; one of their favorite “usual suspects.” no one else was out on the street. a few cars were behind us, also waiting to get through. upon our approach, one of the police cars shined his light directly into our eyes and blinked the low beams. we were given no instructions. i got out of my car, sure to make both hands visible and walked toward the gathering of more than 7 officers. one approached me and told me they were having a “friendly chat” with my neighbor (stating his name) and that they were “old friends.” he continued to tell me that they weren’t arresting anyone and that nothing had happened.
“do you always handcuff your “old friends” when you chat with them?” i asked.

i stood on the sidewalk, watching (women can get away with this much more then men can– andy, 6 ft tall, and rather hefty, stayed in the car!)

when the officer came over to me and told me the street was clear, andy drove the car home, and i walked past the gathering of officers and neighbor, asked him if he needed anything, and stood at my gate. one of the officers suggested i move on. “i’m just hanging out in front of my home on a pleasant evening” i told him. i waited until my neighbor was released, i signaled to him and he followed me into our home until the danger was gone. we made sure he got to his home safely.

our security cameras of course, caught the whole thing!!!! (we installed them because of the political stalking we’ve experienced. it had never occurred to me that the cameras would also provide for the safety of the rest of the community under police siege.)

eight cops, 5 cars, and according to my neighbor, they told him they were introducing him to the new cops on the beat, and felt they needed to hand cuff him for their safety.

los angeles is struggling with a terrible financial crisis. is this an appropriate use of city funds? do the math. eight cops, at least a half hour of man hours each, to provide for a most unnecessary introduction, to create a most outrageous provocation, and establish a police presence on a street with almost no crime.

like most days, today, the helicopters continued over head regularly, including two military helicopters. often these ghetto birds pass so low, they shake the buildings. another neighbor says his daughters cry at night because the noise scares them.

rampart division of the lapd is one of the most brutal divisions of one of the most brutal police departments. most of the men in my neighborhood have been criminalized, either by discriminatory immigration laws or by a system that is unforgiving of the excesses of youth. these young men don’t have the lawyers or the connections of their counterparts in angelino heights, west l.a., brentwood. pulled over for walking down the street, frisked regularly as children, from the time their bodies took on a manly form, ticketed, taken in, penalized for the smallest infraction and set in the system for life.

i know these men. they are my neighbors. some have helped with the urban farm, others are construction workers who worked with me, transforming this old, neglected slum of a duplex into two beautiful homes. they watch over this street– a strangely peaceful place in a brutal large amerikan city. they aren’t who the police say they are. they aren’t the accumulation of whatever youthful transgressions they may have committed. they aren’t the sum of the limitations of options for city youth.

there was no cause for this show of force. there was no need even for the introduction. there was no legitimate reason to utilize so much of a failing city’s resources. there certainly was no explanation (beyond the daily harassment and the establishment of police presence) for shining the light into our eyes or closing off the street!!!!

on this street we look after each other. it isn’t safe to call the cops.

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