Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2010

here is a wonderful article by friend, activist and writer sam bahour on the jewish holiday of passover and the current oppression of palestinians in historic palestine.

in this spirit, we’ve made a few changes on our seder plate over the years– 1. an orange, usually a blood orange, because it is said that many years ago (about 40) in the occupied lands of florida, a father leading the seder, yelled at his daughter for suggesting that a woman could become a rabbi. “A WOMEN HAS NO MORE PLACE ON THE BIMAH (alter) THAN AN ORANGE HAS ON A SEDER PLATE!” he reportedly admonished her.

and

2. palestinian olive oil, to recognize the oppression against the palestinian people under israeli settler colonialism and u.s. imperialism.

i understand that the karpas and the egg both are also symbols of spring and fertility.

at the end of the seder it is traditional to say “next year in jerusalem.”

we say “next year a free jerusalem.”

we will include sam’s article in our seder.

_______________________________________________

Happy Passover from Gaza

By Sam Bahour, ePalestine – 28 March 2010

http://epalestine.blogspot.com/

In 2010, Jews in Israel and around the world will celebrate Passover beginning on March 30th. Passover is the seven-day holiday of the Feast of Unleavened Breadcommemorating the ancient Hebrews’ escape from enslavement in Egypt. (In Israel, March 30th is also Land Day: the day when Palestinians commemorate and protest the confiscation of their lands by the Israeli government; but that’s another story.)

As I’m learning, the Passover holiday begins with the Seder, a traditional ceremonial meal. Its centerpiece is a special Seder plate containing six symbolic foods. Each has its own significance in the retelling of the story of the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt. The stack of three matzos, or unleavened bread, a kind of cracker made of plain white flour and water, has its own separate plate on the Seder table.

For each of the six traditional items on the Seder plate (as per Wikipedia and the Chabad website) –listed here by its Hebrew name–I note its traditional symbolic role and offer an additional, alternative interpretation. I hope my alternative can help Jews around the world, and especially in Israel, connect with a broader perspective on the meaning of Passover right here, right now, in the land that became the eventual endpoint of that ancient exodus.

Maror and Chazeret – Bitter herbs, symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of the slavery which the Jews endured in Egypt. Slavery: severe curtailment of one’s freedom. Today, one and a half million Palestinians in Gaza are tasting the bitterness of unfreedom, hermetically sealed in their encircled enclave with no end in sight. Sixty percent are under the age of 16. The Jewish citizens of Israel have hardened their hearts to this reality and they have expected the rest of the world’s Jews to do likewise. For how long will you wait for Palestinians to vanish?

Charoset – A coarse mixture of chopped nuts, apples or dates, and wine, meant to symbolize the mortar used by the Jewish slaves to build the storehouses of Egypt. Today, Israel permits no mortar, or cement, or any other building materials, to enter Gaza. Let them sleep in tents! This, after last winter’s assault on Gaza, internationally documented war crimes (and possibly crimes against humanity), causing over 1,400 deaths in 22 days between December 2008 and January 2009- leaving scores homeless in the rubble. Is this the freedom Moses envisioned? The freedom to attack civilians with the tanks, planes and warships of the “Jewish” State? Doesn’t sound very Jewish to me. Not at all.

Karpas – A vegetable other than bitter herbs, dipped into salt water (which represents tears) to recall the pain felt by the Jewish slaves in Egypt. Tears! Pain! In your name, my Jewish friends, Israel continues its inhuman siege on Gaza. The folks there shed tears as salty as anyone’s; their pain is beyond description. Two of every three of today’s Gaza residents originally lost their homes in what is now Israel when the state was established. Six decades later, they find themselves living a nightmare, a kind of living death: their economy in ruins, their neighborhoods in ruins, their educational and health systems in ruins, even their sanitation systems in ruins. Israel refuses to allow reconstruction. What comes after stripping Gazans from their last remaining sense of sanity?

Z’roa – A roasted lamb shankbone (or a chicken wing, or chicken neck) symbolizes the paschal sacrifice offered originally on the eve of the exodus and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. Sacrifice! Do you insist on sacrificing the possibility of a sustainable future for modern Israel in the name of its founding myth – since discredited – that Palestine was “a land without people, for a people without a land“? A million of today’s Gazans are from the families that Israel expelled. Gazans have remained steadfast under conditions even the early Hebrews might have found intolerable in Egypt. Gazans, together with all Palestinians, are the people that Jews in Israel are destined to live with, today, tomorrow, and forever. The only uncertainty is how much more hate will be generated by military occupation and armed assault before a process of shared rehabilitation can begin.

Beitzah – A hard-boiled egg, symbolizing the main festival sacrifice that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem and roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night. The egg is a symbol of mourning. Eggs are the first thing served to mourners after a Jewish funeral. The egg on the Seder plate evokes the mourning over the destruction of the Temple and the subsequent inability to offer sacrifices there in honor of the Pesach holiday. Mourning! As Jews, you know a lot about mourning; consider the sixty-two years of mourning, consider every day of every one of those years, among the people–real people, with real names and real children–in Gaza and in squalid refugee camps all around Israel who can see their homeland with the naked eye, but are denied their basic human right of returning home. Sixty-two Passovers and counting. All I ask of you on this year’s holy day, as you contemplate the egg on the Seder plate, is to remember them, no more.

My Jewish sisters and brothers, you can continue to look away as Israel claims to speak and to act in your name. It kills and maims in your name. It dispossesses and occupies in your name. It talks peace and wages war in your name. If you turn a deaf ear to their mourning again this year, if you harden your heart again this year, if your voice is not raised this year in protest – then you are acquiescing in the ongoing ethnic cleansing of another people, in your name. If you cannot see Palestinians as fully human now, you will hear them trying to give voice to their humanity in your nightmares, year after year, until you can see and until you can hear.

It is written in the Talmud: We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are. I urge you, while you commemorate the Hebrews’ ancient slavery and deliverance, to see yourselves finally as equals in this world: equal with your neighbors, neither their masters nor their slaves. I urge you to see yourself and your children in the image of every Palestinian mother, father and child in Gaza. Let this year be the year of your shared redemption!

Free Gaza now! End the occupation now! Happy Passover from Gaza!

Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American living under Israeli occupation. He may be reached at sbahour@palnet.com and blogs at www.epalestine.com.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Written  on March, 19, 2003 as the first bombs drop on Iraq this century.  

By Emma Rosenthal

i can kill the mirror of my own likeness if i do not recognize myself

i can kill you if i do not know that killing you is killing you

i can kill you if i believe you kill me

i can kill you if i have been shattered

i can kill you if i love the sound of shattered glass

i can kill you if i want your death more than i want my life

i can kill you if i think the general is part of me

i can kill you if i love the flag more than the blood that soaks it

i can kill you if  red hands walk down cat walk runways

i can kill you for greed

i can kill you for fashion

i can kill you for land

i can kill you if i have no memory

i can kill you if memory tells me to

i can kill you if i abhor the womb

i can kill you if i despise the breast

i can kill you if the phallus is a weapon

i can kill  you if your children scare me and i wage a war against youth

i can kill you if i hate music

i can kill you if that song keeps playing in my head

i can kill you if the general sings lullabies to me while i sleep

while the general wages war against me

i can kill you if i believe the war is waged for me

i can kill you for privilege

i can kill you for expedience

 i can kill you for luxury

i can kill you if i forget that killing you is killing me

i cannot kill you for truth or hope

i cannot kill you if i know who i see in the mirror

i cannot kill you if i love the womb

i cannot kill you if milk issues from my breasts

i cannot kill you if i know the phallus brings the possibility of life

through the tightness of connection

i cannot kill you if i love windy days on open cliffs

i cannot kill you if the songs of birds wake me before the generals lull me to sleep

i cannot kill you if my skin wakes up electric

i cannot kill you if i have been taught to think

i cannot kill you if i see you when i look in the mirror

i cannot kill you if your name dances in my mind

i cannot kill you if i dance naked in the rain

i cannot kill you if i see you naked and i love your wounds

i cannot kill you if the tides tell the time and the moon lights the night

i cannot kill you if i live on this rock in space and i know we live together

i cannot kill you if our words touch

i cannot kill you if i know you bleed

i cannot kill you if i hear your voice

i cannot kill you if i hear your prayers and chant them with you

i cannot kill you if i know your innocence

i cannot kill you if i see your children resting in your arms

i cannot kill you if i love the general and call him home

i cannot kill you if there is a river in my heart

Read Full Post »

A recent L.A. Weekly article “addressed” the “problem” of getting rid of “bad” teachers.  (see link below) 

As someone who retired from LAUSD with disability retirement after trying to get the most minimal of accommodations for my dis-ability and facing incredible harassment for such a request;

As someone who requested basic accommodations, found ways to make the whole proposal cost free for the District while offering to fill high need hard to staff areas of education, (bilingual special ed) and fully aware that if I had merely kept my mouth shut, showed Disney movies, gave out busy work, and gave all my students C’s, then I would have had no problem with the same administration, but only had a problem when requesting the resources to do my job well.

As someone who NEVER had a bad evaluation, had several outstanding evaluations, and wrote and received several grants and coordinated several school wide programs;

As someone who filed and won approx 30 grievances against the district for collective and individual violations of the contract, never observing any consequences, reassignments, discipline etc against these principals for such wanton rights violations;

As someone who observed and confronted gross misuse of school funds and a crony system that favored mediocrity and obedience over dedication and commitment to teaching;

As someone who used tenure to defend and advocate for students and the community and teachers, against the will of the administration;

As someone who ONLY KNEW ONE ADMINISTRATOR  who went after bad teachers– with the full support of the highly unionized faculty.  (I consider her the best administrator I worked with);

As someone who observed administrators go after activists, whistle blowers, community, educator, worker and student advocates while perpetuating or ignoring sexual harassment, sexual abuse, hate speech, racism, sexism, dis-ability discrimination etc. both by staff and students; 

As someone who graduated magna cum laude, is bilingual in English and Spanish, continues to study and to teach, is a life long activist and writer;

I find it hard to believe that:

1. Michael Kim, a man with cerebral palsy, who neurologically can’t control his hands, is the best example of the district trying to defend the rights of staff and students against sexual harassment and gropping! 

More to point, the District doesn’t WANT dis-abled teachers.  This whole case was totally offensive and outrageous, and should be transparent; a perfect example of how dis-ability discrimination is used to take us all down, to set a pretext for greater rights violations.

2. the present administration is able to select the appropriate teachers for dismissal– which of course would explain why it is so hard to fire the teachers the district is trying to fire.  It is quite possible that very few of these people should be fired and the ones that need to go are comfortably doing the principal’s bidding!!!

3 given that the City of Los Angeles decided NOT  to fire a single cop for beating up press and community members for the May Day demonstration a few years back, wonders what city employees ARE doing that warrants (“the easy” removal from their positions.

4. there are only bad teachers and not bad administrators, who also need to be removed from their positions which the district can do, and doesn’t.  It seems that a lot of bad teaching might be resolved by creating acceptable working conditions, starting with a supportive administration. 

5. that the grievance process is the problem, The grievance process is a three step process: 1.A meeting with the principal, 2. A meeting with the area supt. And 3. Binding arbitration with an arbitrator chosen by both the union and the district. A principal looses a grievance against a teacher when either the District or the arbitrator chosen by the district says a violation of that teacher’s rights has occurred.  In such a situation is it right to assume that it is the teacher that is failing to perform basic assigned duties?

6.that settlements of 40-100 thousand dollars  for the removal of teachers the District wants to fire,  are excessive and against whom no evidence exists, other than district say so, that these teachers deserve to lose their careers, which includes 5 years of university study, and often thousands of dollars each year for materials the District fails to provide and in a District that has bought out the contracts of several of its superintendants for over half a million dollars.

 The entire premise of the Weekly article is that the District can’t fire the teachers it wants to fire  because of the Union and tenure, and not that these constructs  actually protect the academic freedom of teachers who should not have been brought under scrutiny in the first place.

There is no evidence IN THE ARTICLE, except the District’s say so, that the District is actually trying to fire the BAD teachers. That is an essential missing element of the article.  Sure there are bad teachers.  But if the district isn’t going after bad teachers, but is going after teachers who demand their rights or the rights of others, then the waste of resources is even more outrageous.  

http://www.laweekly.com/2010-02-11/news/lausd-s-dance-of-the-lemons/

Read Full Post »

By Emma Rosenthal
 
AREN’T THERE BETTER, MORE DESERVING, MORE QUALIFIED WRITERS, WE CAN PROMOTE, TO DECONSTRUCT THE ASSUMPTIONS, ARROGANCE AND HUBRIS OF AMERICAN EMPIRE, ISRAELI SETTLER COLONIALISM AND GENOCIDE?

Roberts is a right wing white supremacist who has written repeatedly anti-disability, anti-jewish, anti-gay, anti-immigrant anti- people of color, rants for years. (and while attempting to be “pro-Islam, pro-Arab”, his assertions are rife with orientalist assumptions of Amerikan/western superiority.) His critique of U.S./Israeli policy is not part of a human rights, social justice, anti-imperialist movement for self-determination or liberation, but rather is simply an extension of his white supremacist fear that white people and Amerika are losing ground. Roberts has written for years for VDARE (a racist publication, named for Virginia Dare, the first “white” baby to be born in the “New World”), but recently he has been published, without criticism or reference to his racist, ableist, sexist anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-Jewish, anti-Arab trajectory by Counterpunch, ifamericansknew, antiwar.com, Democracy Now, Information Clearing House, Alternet and other “progressive” media. In his article “Why Does Israel Want to Initiate War Between theU.S.  and Iran?” (1) Roberts repeats what we’ve been hearing for years: that the U.S. government is a puppet regime of Israel. immediately contradicting himself with the refrain we’ve heard for 10 years, that Israel is trying  to drag the U.S. into war with IRan, or that Israel will bomb Iran on its own. We’ve heard this from the left, the right, and from two U.S. Vice Presidents. (Cheney and Biden) and yet– no war. (Sanctions, defamations, pressure, but no war!) Does this mean that the tail doesn’t wag the dog, as has been suggested? After all, if Israel has really wanted the U.S. to go to war, or if Israel really wants to bomb Iran, if Israel really did run the show, wouldn’t this have happened years ago? On the other hand, is it possible that Israel is less influential than we’ve been led to believe and that the threat of an Israeli caused war, is part of the illusion the U.S.  and Israel have been manufacturing for some time– the idea that Israel is responsible for U.S. foreign policy– taking the focus off of the U.S. and its global empire, while simultaneously making Israel seem much more powerful than it really is. – a mutually beneficial illusion. In his article “The End of Free Speech? Criminalizing Criticism of Israel”, (2) Roberts attacks a hate crimes bill that extends violent hate crimes protection to LGBT people and people with dis-abilities. He asserts that this new bill would make any criticism of Israel and the Holocaust, illegal, contrary to ANY reading of the bill, which says absolutely nothing about Israel and has no impact at all on speech. In his article ” Muslims Are Their Own Worst Enemy” (3) he repeats tired orientalist stereotypes, blames the victims of U.S. (and British and Russian Imperialism) for their own condition “Muslim disunity has made it possible for Israel to dispossess the Palestinians, for the U.S. to invade Iraq, and for the U.S. to rule much of the region…” In his memoriam to Milton Friedman, (4) the architect of some of the most deadly economic policies of the Twentieth Century, he calls Friedman the “great economist of our times.” In his article “That Buchanan Book” (5) he repeats and embellishes Buchanon’s attacks on immigrants, multiculturalism, people of color people with dis-abilities and the left. “Buchanan has strong opinions, but his opinions are based in facts, unlike his equally opinionated opponents, who have bought into the multiculturalist dogma of the evils of western civilization or taken refuge in neoconservative wishful thinking.” He states, “Whites are shrinking into a minority even within their own countries. massive uncontrolled legal and illegal immigration, together with collapsing fertility rates of whites everywhere, foretell a vanishing race.” as if it’s a bad thing. (Seriously though,  the disappearance of any culture or group is NEVER  a good thing, but the construct of whiteness –including his unstated inference to race mixing as further diluting this vanishing breed– isn’t about the preservation of a culture, but the total assimilation of several distinct and disparate languages, heritages, histories and legacies which are swallowed up into a homogenized (White) identity in the interest of empire and domination–for those who qualify, whiteness is the price of losing who you are.) He goes on to assert that the situation may be worse than Buchanan would have us think: “In the U.S., native-born whites already are second-class citizens in their own country. Unconstitutional group privileges have arisen based on race, gender, and disability. White males no longer have equal rights. “ He concludes this article; “Demonization of whites is the weapon used by multiculturalists to breakup western civilization… Demonization has already demoralized some whites, making them ashamed and fearful of their skin color.” “By the time whites become political minorities, decades of demonization will have prepared the ground for legislation prohibiting their propagation and, perhaps, assigning them to the gulag as a final solution … none of this is ordained. faculties could replace multicultural propagandists with real scholars, and legislation could halt or reduce immigration to assimilable numbers. Is western civilization worth the effort? Does anyone any longer know what western civilization is? “ So how come roberts is getting so much play among progressives, including the progressive press, given his history of bigotry and intolerance, as well as having “served” on Reagan’s cabinet as Treasury Secretary (making his essay “The Rich Have Stolen the Economy”, a bit absurd)? Could it be that his white supremacist positions, including the assertion of a Zionist occupied Amerikan government, run by foreign Israeli interlopers, tricksters, puppeteers, as well as an entire ethnic group of U.S. citizens with suspicious national allegiance, absolve (Christian) white (and otherwise privileged) Amerikans of their (real and mis-afilliated) guilt, allowing them to address injustices without ever having to examine the root causes, raise their class consciousness, or challenge their own nationalism, Amerikan hubris, entitlement and arrogance. When I ask why “we” are promoting Roberts, I am told that he has important points to make, that no one is all good or all bad, that his position in the Reagan Administration lends credibility to those more legitimate assertions “we all agree on”. But even though a broken clock is right twice a day, and Mussolini  made the trains run on time, do we really want, in giving credence to his “good points” to legitimize his racist, sexist, ableist bigotry and promote Roberts at the expense of other writers who, though lesser known, might better articulate a vision of anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism, infused justice, inclusion, diversity and self-determination?

1. http://www.thecanadiancharger.com/page.php?id=5&a=133

2. https://cafeintifada.wordpress.com/2009/05/08/654/

3. http://www.vdare.com/articles/muslims-are-their-own-worst-enemy

4. http://www.vdare.com/articles/milton-friedman-in-memoriam

5. http://www.vdare.com/articles/that-buchanan-book

http://vdare.com/roberts/west_future.htm

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: