For KPFK listeners, interested in more information:
To buy the book:
Information on the upcoming readings:
for information on the blacklisting:
In Bed With Frida Kahlo:
Cindy Sheehan on line:
Posted in Anatomy of a Blacklisting, Art and Activism, Calling out neo-liberalism, Calling out the liberal left!, Cross Referencing Emmalandia, Disability Rights, Dissident Jewish Voices, Emma's Room, Human Rights, Human rights rhetoric in the service of empire!, Immigrant Rights, In Bed With Frida Kahlo, Indigenous Rights, International Solidarity, Israeli Apartheid, Palestine, Racism, Shifting Sands: Jewish American Women Confront the Israeli Occupation, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Stand With Us, This is what genocide looks like, U.S. empire, UTLA, Women's Lives, Zionist Campaign Against Free Speech on June 3, 2010| Leave a Comment »
For KPFK listeners, interested in more information:
To buy the book:
Information on the upcoming readings:
for information on the blacklisting:
In Bed With Frida Kahlo:
Cindy Sheehan on line:
Posted in ADL, Anatomy of a Blacklisting, Calling out the liberal left!, Dissident Jewish Voices, Education, Human Rights, Human rights rhetoric in the service of empire!, Indigenous Rights, Israeli Apartheid, Palestine, Stand With Us, U.S. empire, Zionist Campaign Against Free Speech on April 30, 2010| Leave a Comment »
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.
Pro-Israel group monitoring, intimidating Columbia faculty
Jared Malsin, The Electronic Intifada, 30 April 2010
Posted in Anatomy of a Blacklisting, Art and Activism, Dissident Jewish Voices, Education, Human Rights, Human rights rhetoric in the service of empire!, Israeli Apartheid, Israeli Offense Forces, Palestine, Privatization, Racism, Shoah, Stand With Us, U.S. empire, UTLA, Zionist Campaign Against Free Speech on February 12, 2010| 1 Comment »
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.
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: email@example.com
Acting Dean of Students Rameen Talesh Telephone: (949)824-5181 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For the Stand With Us article referenced in this post:
Posted in ADL, Anatomy of a Blacklisting, Art and Activism, Building Community, Calling out neo-liberalism, Calling out the liberal left!, Dissident Jewish Voices, Human Rights, Human rights rhetoric in the service of empire!, Indigenous Rights, International Solidarity, Israeli Apartheid, Palestine, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Stand With Us, U.S. empire, UTLA, Zionist Campaign Against Free Speech on October 20, 2009| Leave a Comment »
when the human rights committee of united teachers los angeles agreed to host a meeting to discuss bds, we were attacked by the zionist establishment. most activists capitulated, and i was blacklisted when “jewish” organizations met with utla president duffy, demanding that he disassociate himself from my organization cafe intifada and me (a union member in good standing!) that lobby included all the standard bearers of zionist power structure- the simon wiesenthal ctr, the (we spy on u.s. citizens and organizations and turn the info over to the fbi) ADL, stand (we maintain a dossier on activists who are critical of israel, with special attention to jewish activists) with us, and unfortunately, the progressive jewish alliance. so i had very little expectation of j street when it formed. (the stand with us, dossier on me at last report–they secured their site and i can’t get access– is over 60 printed pages) i don’t believe that one can reconcile zionism with human rights. it is by its very nature a political movement that confers entitlement to one group (a settler group) over another (indigenous ) group. two states, or one, a zionist state is by definition an apartheid state, a racist state, a segregated state. the only just solution is a single secular democratic state with full equal human rights for all. the attack and censorship of these two poets was for doing exactly what they were booked to do, and is an outrage. we pick our battles says it all. it seems to me, in the face of red baiting (this IS the new red baiting) and blacklisting, the battle chose jstreet and they chose not to fight, they chose to capitulate. the same argument was made by the chair of the human rights committee when bowing under pressure, capitulated and actually stated that the committee would never take up an issue that had not been cleared by the union leadership. (that’s the role of committees, to bring new issues to the union leadership!!!) how can jstreet claim to be an alternative to the current zionist lobby, if it won’t stand up to the pressures of that lobby, if it too can be lobbied into submission. they might as well cancel the entire conference.!!!
Aauthor of Everyday People and Slingshots (A Hip-Hop Poetica)
Posted: October 20, 2009 03:57 PM
Searching for a Minyan: Our Response to
Being Censored by J Street
Co-authored by Josh Healey.
This weekend, J Street, a new Jewish “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace” PAC and Washington-based organization is holding its first national conference. The two of us, along with another artist, were to perform and read poems at several sessions during the conference. Specifically, we were invited to lead a workshop on how culture and spoken word create democratic spaces that sift through difficult issues and ensure a multiplicity of voices are heard: and how that can be used to open up the Israel/Palestine debate.
Instead, we have been censored and pushed out of that very debate.
This week, some right-wing blogs and pseudo-news organizations latched on to various lines of poems Josh wrote and churned the alarmist rumor mill saying that hateful anti-Israeli poets are keynote speakers at the J Street conference. This is not surprising. The radical right-wing, including the growing Jewish right-wing of this country and abroad, hates complex discourse, especially when it brings to light truths they seek to systematically deny. The Weekly Standard, Commentary, and their AIPAC-influenced
brethren have been attacking J Street for weeks, scared that the conference will bring together the majority of American Jews who do favor a more rigorous peace process. When they found Josh’s poems and took lines out of context, they had the perfect straw man: the Van Jones to J Street’s Obama. Again, this is not surprising.
What is disappointing, and troubling, is J Street’s response in caving to this sort of McCarthyism. The executive director of J Street called us to say “I know what I’m doing is wrong … but there are some battles we choose not to fight,” before canceling our program, and disinviting us from the conference. This accommodates their red-baiting and is the wrong response. Rather than give in, which only emboldens the right and legitimizes their attacks, we need to stand up for our principles and engage on that front.
Van Jones is another perfect example: after the Fox News venom became too much and he resigned last month, the radical right hasn’t stopped attacking Obama, or more accurately, the alternative, progressive voice they fear he represents. The right stands by its politics, and practices solidarity with their allies. Too often the left doesn’t. And that’s why we often lose — on health care, on global warming, and on Israel/Palestine.
For the second time in two months Kevin, who is Jewish, has been told not to come to a Jewish conference because of what he will say about Palestine and Israel. This past August, the evening before the International Hillel Conference, conference planners said if he were to read poems about Palestine, they’d rather not have him. Today, Josh, who is Jewish, has had his name thrown into a mudslide of blogs and hate emails. All this because we are practicing the Jewish maxim of the refusal to be silent in the face
of oppression, anyone’s oppression.
One of the key teachings of Judaism is the insistence on wrestling with and debating ideas. There are a thousand years of codified arguing, recorded in the Talmud and Midrash, over the meaning of the stories in the five books of Torah. Jews debate everything. There is the old adage, “when you have two Jews in the room, you have three opinions”. Our families cannot come to agreement about what constitutes a deli as opposed to a diner. (A deli must have pickles on the table with poppy seed rolls, etc.)
But when you try to talk about Palestine there is silence. When you talk about the role the United States plays in supporting Israel and its military coffers, there is no room for discourse. If you bring up Palestinians’ right to return to land they were forced out of, or mention that this past January over 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilian, were killed in Gaza, there is no room to speak in Jewish-centric spaces in this country.
There are many reasons why this trend of censorship is disturbing. We believe in democracy, in the right to speak and be heard and in the right be disagreed with. We are disheartened and outraged by the lack of democratic discourse in the American Jewish community and within the country as a whole.
Why are we scared of what will come from an honest conversation? What do we have to lose, or discover, or admit to if we question the policies of Israel or America’s support of its government and military? It can be unsettling for one’s worldview to unravel, the intricate web of white lies and half-truths pulled apart. This can be disconcerting for generations of Jews who have accepted the propaganda of a chosen people and the acting out of geostrategic nightmares via military might.
Kevin works at a Hillel for Hashem’s sake! He is charged with the task of addressing why so many young Jews are distancing themselves from the religious and cultural practice of Judaism. This is one of those reasons! American Jews are told at shul to repent for our sins, but silenced if we bring up the sins of the country that acts in our name. We need authentic, honest discourse in the American Jewish community. It must start today and it must be about Palestine and Israel.
So, we are searching for a minyan — a crew of progressives and progressive Jews to build and connect with. We want to have a conversation. Not wait for the conversation to be dictated and have borders and walls built around acceptable topics, but to have a conversation determined by us, Jews That Are Left, that are on the Left. A conversation that is honest and open and genuinely reclaims and considers our progressive past as well as forges the future world. A conversation engaged in the work of tikkun olam for real, the work of repair and healing and wholeness.
Progressive American Jews, where you at? Holla at us! For real: email@example.com. Let’s reshape the conversation. Let’s build a minyan, a coalition of progressive Jews and gentiles who want what is just and right for all people and all people in Israel and Palestine
Posted in ADL, Anatomy of a Blacklisting, Building Community, Calling out neo-liberalism, Calling out the liberal left!, Cross Referencing Emmalandia, Disability Rights, Dissident Jewish Voices, Don White, Education, Human Rights, Human rights rhetoric in the service of empire!, In Bed With Frida Kahlo, Israeli Apartheid, Palestine, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Stand With Us, U.S. empire, UTLA, Zionist Campaign Against Free Speech on June 28, 2009| 9 Comments »
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,
Posted in ADL, Calling out neo-liberalism, Human Rights, Human rights rhetoric in the service of empire!, Indigenous Rights, Palestine, Shoah, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Stand With Us, Zionist Campaign Against Free Speech on June 25, 2009| Leave a Comment »
So glad UCSB stood down the bully tactics of the Simon Wiesenthal Ctr, the ADL and Stand With Us. But the impact of this investigation can not be underestimated. The stress and trauma to Professor Robinson and the effect these campaigns have on education and public discourse is chilling. These are the new blacklists. support for israel, the new loyalty oath.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
(06-24) 19:55 PDT Santa Barbara, Calif. (AP) —
An academic committee at University of California, Santa Barbara has found no reason to discipline a professor who sent an e-mail that compared Israel’s offensive in Gaza to the Holocaust.
University officials sent a letter to Sociology professor William I. Robinson Wednesday, saying the Academic Senate’s ad hoc committee has closed the matter.
In January, Robinson offended students at UCSB with an e-mail to his “Sociology of Globalization” class that juxtaposed grisly photos from the Nazi era and the Gaza offensive.
Jewish groups called the e-mail “hate spam” and claimed Robinson violated university policy that bars professors from intimidating students and using campus resources for political reasons unrelated to teaching.
Posted in ADL, Anatomy of a Blacklisting, Calling out neo-liberalism, Dissident Jewish Voices, Human Rights, Human rights rhetoric in the service of empire!, Indigenous Rights, Israeli Apartheid, Palestine, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Stand With Us, U.S. empire, Zionist Campaign Against Free Speech on May 15, 2009| Leave a Comment »
Please note the similarity of tactics and parties, here as with the situation within UTLA, the methodologies employed, rhetoric etc. to stifle debate, intimidate, limit academic (and union) freedom and free speech, to isolate dissident Jewish voices, and control the narrative in respect to Israeli policies, actions and history. When a concession is made in one instance, it empowers them the next time around. While the impact of the decisions at UTLA impacted me, most directly, the repercussions for educators, activists and academics are extensive. The opportunism that lead to the decision within UTLA, to capitulate to Zionist pressure in October of 2006, resonates with the events transpiring at UCSB today. -Cafe Intifada
“There’s growing division among Jews about how the U.S. should relate to Israel, and that’s intensified this ultra-Zionist campaign to discredit people critical of Israel precisely because Israel’s positions have become much more contested” -Richard Falk, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights
Israel advocacy group “Stand With Us” pushes university administrators to investigate sociology professor
May 13, 2009
Contacts: Daniel Olmos, (818) 468-8894, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alba Peña-Leon, (626) 665-9212, email@example.com.
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. The international pro-Israel organization “Stand With Us” is spearheading an aggressive public campaign to push administrators and faculty at the University of California at Santa Barbara to investigate sociology professor William I. Robinson for “anti-Semitism.”
The organization has set up a Web site to rally other pro-Israel organizations and individuals to pressure UCSB officials through public statements and letters to the chancellor and the Academic Senate. The group has recruited UCSB donors to write letters, some of which threaten to withdraw support for the university.
The Web site and letter campaign comes on top of direct pressure from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), whose national director, Abraham Foxman, met in March with university officials and faculty to demand that administrators censor Robinson for introducing materials critical of state Israeli policies in a course on global affairs in January.
The materials included a photo essay that Robinson forwarded to students from the Internet juxtaposing images of Israeli abuse against Palestinians with Nazi abuses during the holocaust. Two students took offense at the images and withdrew from the course, prompting the ADL to pressure the university to investigate Robinson for “anti-Semitism.”
Given the pressures from Stand With Us and ADL, scholars say the pro-Israel lobby appears to be using the Robinson case to intimidate critics in general and stem rising debate on campuses about Israeli policies in the Middle East.
Richard Falk, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories and a visiting scholar on global studies at UCSB, said it’s part of an emerging pattern by the Israeli lobby nationwide.
“There’s growing division among Jews about how the U.S. should relate to Israel, and that’s intensified this ultra-Zionist campaign to discredit people critical of Israel precisely because Israel’s positions have become much more contested,” Falk said.
“The pressures at UCSB have the appearance of a campaign generated and orchestrated from outside the campus.”
It’s unclear what effect the pressures may have, but one Stand With Us letter — dated March 16 and posted on the organization’s Web site — suggests that Chancellor Henry Yang may have made biased comments against Robinson under pressure.
The letter is directed to Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas and was written by Stand With Us International Director Roz Rothstein, board member Howard Waldow, and sociology student Leah Yadegar. It states that Waldow, a UCSB donor, had presented a letter of concern about Robinson to Yang at a reception, and in response, the chancellor suggested that the group write to Lucas.
“Chancellor Yang directed us to you, and raised the issue of possible violations of the Faculty Code of Conduct,” reads the letter to the vice chancellor.
About a week later, the Academic Senate opened a formal investigation of Robinson.
Although the letter has been posted for weeks on the Stand With Us blog, the university has made no official statement about the chancellor’s alleged suggestion that Robinson violated the Faculty Code of Conduct.
The university’s silence prompted Mark Levine, a Jewish professor of Middle Eastern studies at UC-Irvine and a member of the California Scholars for Academic Freedom, to call for an investigation of the chancellor’s interaction with Stand With Us.
“If the letter hasn’t been refuted, then one assumes the chancellor did say those things,” Levine said. “If so, he should be investigated for violation of university procedure and academic freedom, if not removed from office.”
Others want an investigation of the ADL’s March 9 meeting on campus with UCSB officials and faculty.
The Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) sent a letter on May 8 to Academic Senate Chair Joel Michelson requesting an investigation.
“Discussing the case with ADL representatives in any manner constituted a violation of Robinson’s right to confidentiality, and opened the door to the appearance of outside influence in the adjudicatory process,” MESA wrote.
Falk said the real danger is that, even if the charges against Robinson are dismissed, the pressures by pro-Israel organizations will still have a lasting effect.
“It’s an extremely unhealthy situation for the university, which depends on an atmosphere of academic freedom to perform effectively,” Falk said. “Even if Robinson is exonerated, it will continue to intimidate people against criticizing Israel, because nobody wants to face these kinds of situations.”
For detailed information about the Robinson case, visit the Committee to Defend Academic Freedom Web site at http://www.sb4af.wordpress.com.
For media inquiries, call Alba Peña-Leon at (626) 665-9212 or Daniel Olmos at (818) 468-8894.