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Art and activism

 

What you can do!

http://al-awda.org/alert-children2.html

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when the zionist jewish establishment descended on the teachers union in los angeles, after years of monitoring our activities, attacking a class taught at the union hall by the afsc, and attacking a meeting hosted by the human rights committee of the union (utla) to discuss bds, and specifically calling on utla to disassociate from (union members) associated with “extreme fringe groups”  (aka–cafe intifada’s emma rosenthal), the union president (with the complicit support of many leftists–iso, solidarity, etc within the union leadership)  shut down the meeting, shut down the human rights committee and stated, in reference to the fact that l.a. is the city with the second largest jewish population in the u..s, “not in this time, not in this place.”

kudos to colombia university, in the heart of nyc, with a large (several members of my own family included) jewish endowment pool, for standing down these campaigns.  and maintaining a commitment to academic freedom and integrity!

thanks to e.i. for covering this story, and the ongoing attacks on public discourse.

also important is the use of privatized espionage against dissident voices– groups such as: stand with us, campus watch, camera, adl, etc all maintain dossiers and campaigns of documentation against those who dare to speak out in academia, against israeli hegemony and brutality.

-Cafe Intifada

Pro-Israel group monitoring, intimidating Columbia faculty
Jared Malsin, The Electronic Intifada, 30 April 2010

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11239.shtml

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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/

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

______________________________________________

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!

_______________________

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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Cafe Intifada Commentary:

This article is part of a new thread on this blog: Something about intifada- What’s in a name?  It is an examination of the contextual aspect of language, the war against language in the context of imperialism, colonialism and oppression, and the demonization of a language, a culture and a people.

Intifada simply means “to shake off.”   In popular terms, it refers to the overthrow of a brutal occupation.  So, for example, in Arabic,  “Warsaw Ghetto Uprising” would be translated as “Intifada Warsaw.”

And yet, the organization that hosts this blog, as well as any other organization or group or individual that uses the term “intifada” is accused of anything from being anti-Israel, anti-Semitic and even terrorist or extremist.

In the article that follows, a public school principal was fired  for wearing a t-shirt that said “Intifada”. and her case against the school district dismissed on the grounds that an employer has the RIGHT to control the speech of its employees.

Two important points!

1. In this “free” country, are we to accept that our constitutional rights are abandoned during the large portion of our lives when we sell our labor to an employer?  An employer, who has the constitutional right to then take our surplus labor and “speak freely” with those dollars in the form of advertising, campaign contributions, etc.?

and

2. Given that THIS employee is an educational worker, what does this say about the free flow of ideas essential in a democracy? What model to we provide the children when adults are dismissed of their duties in an academic setting, for merely expressing an idea?

Emma Rosenthal

Cafe Intifada!

______________________________________

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/02/nyregion/02suit.html?_r=1&ref=nyregion

By ANAHAD O’CONNOR

Published: September 1, 2009

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled against the founding principal of an Arabic-language school who sued the city, claiming that her rights were violated when she was fired in 2007 for defending the word “intifada” on a T-shirt.

The principal, Debbie Almontaser, had argued in her suit that the city violated her First Amendment rights when it fired her for explaining in a newspaper interview that the word had nonviolent origins. Judge Sidney H. Stein, who dismissed the case in Federal District Court in Manhattan, rejected her claims, saying that Ms. Almontaser made her statements in the course of her duties as an administrator — not “as a citizen on a matter of public concern” — and that employers have some rights to control their employees’ words and actions.

Ms. Almontaser participated in an interview “pursuant to her official duties as acting interim principal” of the school, the Khalil Gibran International Academy, the court ruled. “This speech is not protected by the First Amendment.”

The controversy over Ms. Almontaser’s statements began in August 2007, when she wasquestioned by The New York Post about T-shirts that bore the phrase “Intifada NYC.” The shirts were sold by the group Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media, and had no relation to the school. But when Ms. Almontaser defended the meaning of the phrase as literally meaning “shaking off” instead of something more violent, the Education Department was besieged by complaints, and Ms. Almontaser was asked to resign.

Shortly afterward, Ms. Almontaser filed her lawsuit against the Education Department, the chancellor and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, saying that they not only violated her right to free speech but also “conspired to deny her the opportunity to regain her position as principal.”

Alan Levine, a lawyer for Ms. Almontaser, did not immediately respond to a phone message on Tuesday night. In a statement, Paul Marks, a lawyer representing the city in the case, said he was pleased by the dismissal.

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For the last three years I have been documenting a series of events within United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), around disability rights, Palestinian rights, union democracy and blacklisting, which started as a strange power play within the Human Rights Committee apparently around disability rights, but in my estimation, may have merely been the utilization of (my) disability as the socially acceptable way of attacking when no legitimate means was available. 

Just as that controversy seemed to be resolving itself,  the Jewish Zionist Establishment (the ADL, The Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Jewish National Congress, Stand With Us, the Progressive Jewish Alliance–them too!, as well as others) launched a campaign against the Union, the Human Rights Committee, the AFSC, Café Intifada, and….. me, focusing particularly on an upcoming meeting to discuss boycotts, sanctions and divestiture (BDS) from Israel.  Thisresulted in an unholy alliance between the Zionist lobby, the “progressive” UTLA leadership, bent on protecting themselves and their positions, and the members of the Committee who now had a (pro-imperialist) arsenal of accusations to use against me, resulting in my removal from any position of leadership within the Committee and the destruction of the Committee infrastructure I had played a  large role in creating. 

Due to the (ongoing)  blacklisting, death threats, personal attacks, humiliations and the limitations of my health,  as well as, more recently a “tip” to a hot line,  an early morning service of a search warrant  of our home, complete with 14 armed police officers, a news camera, the seizure of our property, which included a thorough three month investigation  of every computer,  hard drive, zip drive, digital camera, thumb drive, back up disc and memory card, the result of which determined NO EVIDENCE OF CRIMINALITY  (no arrests, no charges, case closed!.  All of this, leaving us with  legal bills and other expenses,  PTSD (!) and (for all teachers under police investigation) the removal of my partner from the classroom.    (More on the police action later. )

Over the course of this time,  I retreated into a period of deep self reflection, depression, study and creativity. I sold my house, moved in with my partner and fellow activist, went back to school to learn new skills and  with him, bought and restored  an old house that promises to be a vehicle for our vision of local and global struggles for social justice.   The pressure on our marriage has been considerable as we have both needed to take time to work on our most basic support system: each other.  Only now am I  attempting to emerge, increasing my personal security, finding out who my real allies are, breaking the silence, speaking out,  healing deep wounds, initiating new dialogue with some of those who committed betrayals of silence, and enjoying the emergence of new, younger movements for social justice within Los Angeles. 

In the interest of disclosure:  During this same span of time the original home of my blogs shut down, so I had to repost each blog entry piece by piece, photo by photo to the new server. Emotionally, there were periods where I couldn’t look at this any more.  It just hurt too much.  And life had its own demands.  Our  larger adversaries are paid to bring us down.  We must work for justice in our spare time.  Emergencies come up, work gets put to the side. So, I have contributed to this thread on and off,  and while material is provided in chronological order, some of the entries have recently been updated or contextualized, drafts written at the time may have been recently completed and posted.  

And I doubt we have seen the end of this.  I invite my detractors to feel free to post comments as they see fit.  If their positions have the validity they claim, there should be no reason for their ongoing anonymity and stealth.  As long as they don’t obscure their identity, I will approve their posts. And it is quite possible that some events have been misrepresented.  I am open to critique and will be issuing corrections in that event. 

Finally, a word about my union ( UTLA), and the progressive slate, whose members include activists with whom I have worked for decades.  I submit this documentation, in the spirit of critical support.  I believe that dissent is essential for the life of this organization that I first joined over 25 years ago.  I was involved in the early recruiting campaign that brought UTLA membership from  30% of teachers and support staff,  to greater than 90% going into the 89 strike. I was active in the fight for bi-lingual education and against the English only movement. I was a cluster leader during the 1989 strike, rising at 4 am and not getting home until after 9:30, all the time carrying my 2 month old son.  (nicknamed “el huelgito)! I have helped plan several conferences, served on the House of Representatives, participated in the School Community Relations Committee, the Human Rights Committee and the Chicano Latino Education Committee.  I have been a delegate to the NEA RA, served as a Chapter Chair (shop steward) before I had permanent status, and filed and won over 30 grievances.   I chose at several junctures not to file harassment or discrimination lawsuits against the union, though I would have been in very good standing, especially when targeted by a member of the Board of Directors and Vice Presidents.  I also chose at the time of the entire controversy regarding BDS, not to present the matter as a an attack on my person, or use the matter to promote my own agenda within the larger community. While the L.A. Times originally accused us of planning for a rally inside (!?)  of UTLA , we very well could have, without union permission, held a protest outside the hall on the day of and at the time the canceled meeting was to be held.  We did not.  We attempted to address these matters internally, except for a call for letters to the broader community when President Duffy made a similar request to only members of the Jewish community.  It is only with considered reflection and after years of continued marginalization, harassment, innuendo and humiliation  along with increase attacks on other activists by these same forces,  that I have decided to fully address myself to this compilation and  broadcast these events more publicly.   

 To follow the complete dialogue on the issue,  please start by reading the statement:Enough is Enough- Who’s Who and Why it Matters, where  I provide a summary of events and  list the real names of the people (formerly given pseudonyms)  who have carried out this campaign against me within the Union.  As I make changes, adjustments or additions, I will post updates and links.  For those who chose to follow this closely, you may subscribe to the blog and will be alerted to newer posts.

 

The beginning of the thread, regarding disability discrimination is chronicled on my blog:  In Bed With Frida Kahlo- daily indignities, small insurrections and honest musings for a life of infirmity and rebellion 

The documentation pertaining to the Zionist lobby continues on my other blog: Cafe Intifada which is the web page of the organization of the same name.  

1. Go to: Enough is Enough: Who’s Who and Why it Matters:   http://inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/enough-is-enough-who’s-who-and-why-it-matters/  (If that doesn’t work, try cutting and pasting.  I don’t understand it, all the other links i post, seem to work!) 

2, Then start the thread at the beginning at: http://inbedwithfridakahlo.wordpress.com/category/utla-human-rights-committee/page/4/    and read the posts in reverse chronological order, starting with the link at the bottom of each page.  

3From there, within the thread,  you should be directed back to this blog; Cafe Intifada, but should that link fail, return to this page, and follow this link to the continued thread:

 https://cafeintifada.wordpress.com/category/anatomy-of-a-blacklisting/page/3/   and read the posts in reverse chronological order, starting with the link at the bottom of each page.)

Peace with Justice, 

Emma Rosenthal

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