Archive for the ‘The war against the children’ Category
F O R I MM E D I A T E RE L E A S E
Teachers Strike for Students Rights! from Santee Education Complex High School will stage a one (1) hour morning strike during the normal school day to fight against teacher layoffs that will disproportionately affect socio-economically disadvantaged students and thus violating their civil rights. Santee teachers have received an extremely HIGH amount of termination notices compared to schools with on the Westside or the Valley. Fifty-six (56) layoff notices have gone out at Santee. This would completely decimate the entire math and science departments! Teachers will NOT sign in during the first hour of work and instead will rally outside in front of the school with parents, students and community members. This will launch a series of one hour strikes throughout the city that may accumulate in a ONE day general citywide teachers strike! Teachers at Santee will also call on the Mayor of Los Angeles to stand up for his partnership schools and save teachers and small class sizes. Santee Education Complex is part of Los Angeles Mayor’s Partnership for LA Schools. Friday, March 27th, 2009. 7:30am The central objective/demand will be: To publicly expose that current LAUSD termination notices will disproportionally
affect schools that have low socio-economic levels and thus violating the civil
rights of these students. 1) To call on the Los Angeles Unified School District to imminently halt teacher layoff and increased class sizes that will have negative impact on the students of Los Angeles 2) Call on the Mayor of Los Angeles to stand up and fund his Partnership Schools much like San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom recently did by using city funds to support schools. Contacts: Jose Lara, Chapter Chair, Santee UTLA email@example.com
What: One Hour Teachers Strike for Students Rights Where: Santee Education Complex 1921 Maple Ave. Los Angeles CA 90011
When: Friday, March 27th, 2009 7:30AM
Posted in Human Rights, Indigenous Rights, Israeli Apartheid, Israeli Offense Forces, Now who's the terrorist?, Palestine, The war against the children, This is what genocide looks like, U.S. empire on March 25, 2009| Leave a Comment »
Israeli army rabbis criticized for stance on Gaza assault
By Richard Boudreaux
March 25, 2009
Reporting from Jerusalem — The winter assault on the Gaza Strip was officially portrayed in Israel as an attempt to quell rocket fire by militants of Hamas. But some soldiers say they also were lectured about a more ambitious aim: to banish non-Jews from the biblical land of Israel.
“This rabbi comes to us and says the fight is between the children of light and the children of darkness,” a reserve sergeant said, recalling a training camp encounter. “His message was clear: ‘This is a war against an entire people, not against specific terrorists.’ The whole thing was turned into something very religious and messianic.”
As armies elsewhere use chaplains, the Israeli military inducts rabbis to serve religious soldiers. Their traditional tasks include ensuring that kitchens are kosher and religious services are available.
But soldiers now going public with allegations of misconduct in Gaza portray the military rabbinate as a corps of self-appointed holy warriors whose sermons and writings demonized Palestinians.
“The army itself is a battleground of conflicting ideals in Israeli Jewish society,” said Avi Sagi, a Bar-Ilan University philosophy professor who in the 1990s was a co-author of the military’s code of ethics, which obliges soldiers to avoid killing innocents.
On one side, he said, are universal values that call for respecting all human life equally and are largely shared by Jews who seek accommodation with the Palestinians. On the other side are more nationalistic passages of the Torah, cited by religious thinkers who liken the Palestinians to Old Testament invaders and place a premium on Jewish life.
In the Gaza conflict, the argument has focused on how to fight Islamic militants who for years have fired rockets indiscriminately at Israeli communities, causing scores of civilian casualties.
Maj. Avital Leibovich, a military spokeswoman, denied that the military rabbinate takes sides. Army rabbis violated a directive to “stay away from politics” in Gaza, she said, but they were few in number and acted on their own.
In testimony reported by Israeli news media and in interviews with The Times, Gaza veterans said rabbis advised army units to show the enemy no mercy and called for resettlement of the Palestinian enclave by Jews.
“The rabbis were all over, in every unit,” said Yehuda Shaul, a retired army officer whose human rights group, Breaking the Silence, has taken testimony from dozens of Gaza veterans. “It was quite well organized.”
The army, which conscripts almost every Israeli Jew at 18, has been dominated for most of its history by secular officers. But over the last 15 years, as secular Israelis have soured on the occupation of Palestinian territory, religious nationalists have taken over senior positions in elite combat brigades.
With them have come hundreds of volunteer rabbis, who teach at pre-military academies for religious youths and serve side by side with the troops.
The rabbis’ role in Gaza came into focus last week along with testimony from soldiers who said that loose rules of war led to unwarranted civilian deaths and property destruction.
The testimony reported by two Israeli newspapers was the first such criticism to surface from within the army since the assault ended Jan. 18, leaving an estimated 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead. Most Palestinian casualties were listed as civilians.
The army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, said Monday that he did not believe soldiers shot Gaza civilians “in cold blood.” He added that “isolated cases” of misconduct, if proved, “will be dealt with individually.”
Responding to newspaper photos, the army also condemned soldiers who wore T-shirts depicting a pregnant woman in a rifle’s cross hairs with the slogan “1 Shot 2 Kills.”
During the Gaza offensive, critics contend, rabbinical propaganda was part of a broader effort to legitimize Israel’s decision to use overwhelming force.
Before the assault, the army’s legal office issued an opinion saying that Israel was entitled to use artillery against civilian neighborhoods from which Hamas was launching rockets.
And after the 22-day operation, a Tel Aviv University philosophy professor with close ties to the military, Asa Kasher, said the decision to shell Gaza’s cities stemmed from an anti-terrorism doctrine he had helped draft a few years ago. It stated that in Gaza, as in other areas the army does not control, there is no justification for endangering soldiers’ lives in order to avoid killing civilians in the proximity of targeted militants.
That doctrine appears to be at odds with the military code, which obliges the army to avoid civilian casualties, and it was never formally adopted. However, it was echoed in religious terms in literature distributed in Gaza by military rabbis.
“Our ancestors did not always fight with a sword and at times preferred to use a bow and arrow from a distance,” one text read.
“Actions must be taken from a distance in order to spare our soldiers’ lives.”
The reserve sergeant, an observant Jew who spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity, said that he and a fellow soldier in his 15-man unit were troubled by the “children of darkness” sermon, but that other troops seemed receptive.
In one of several postwar testimonies given at a left-leaning military institute, a squad commander identified only as Ram complained that army rabbis tried to press what he called a “religious mission” on his men.
“The military rabbinate brought in a lot of booklets and articles and their message was very clear: We are the Jewish people, we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the non-Jews who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land,” Ram said.
As a commander, he said, he tried to explain to his men that “not everyone in Gaza is Hamas [and] wants to vanquish us [and] that this war is not a war for the sanctification of the holy name, but rather one to stop the Kassams” — a type of rocket fired from Gaza.
Danny Zamir, director of the institute that elicited the testimonies and leaked them to Israeli papers, was quoted in a transcript as voicing dismay that Israeli nationalists, like their Hamas enemies, are using faith to justify violence.
“If clerics are anointing us with oil and sticking holy books in our hands, and if the soldiers in these units aren’t representative of the whole spectrum of the Jewish people, but rather of certain segments of the population, what can we expect?” he said.
Ofer Shelah, military correspondent for the newspaper Maariv, said the rising profile of religious nationalists in the army has helped them in two showdowns with the high command.
After Israel withdrew its settlers and soldiers from Gaza in 2005, graduates of two pre-military academies associated with the settler movement said they would refuse to obey future orders to disband West Bank settlements. The army threatened to cancel its certification of the schools, then backed down.
During the Gaza assault, the chief military rabbi, Brig. Gen. Avichai Rontzki, was called in to answer criticism that his department was distributing war propaganda. He denied knowledge of it, and a subordinate was given “a slap on the wrist” by the Defense Ministry, Shelah said.
Rabbi David Hartman, a leading Jewish philosopher who has lectured thousands of officers at his Shalom Hartman Institute, said the religious nationalist belief in holy war is still a minority view in the army.
“But it has to be fought with a rational religious ideology that takes into account the living reality of two peoples,” he said. Otherwise, he added, “you have these rabbis volunteering in the army, and it’s not necessarily the people the army wants. There’s a vacuum, and it gets filled by crackpots.”
The UCLA Daily Bruin
Monday, March 2, 2009
Approximately 50 people protested outside Royce Hall at the performance of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company on Saturday night in hopes of drawing attention to the recent Israeli incursion into Gaza.
The protest was organized by the recently created U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, which saw its membership rise from 15 to more than 230 academics since its inception in January. The demonstrators were mostly professors, but many students participated as well.
“There were repeated efforts to initiate the boycott, but it was not taking off. This last Gaza incursion pushed people over the edge,” said Sherna Berger Gluck, an organizing committee member and professor emeritus of women’s studies and history at California State University, Long Beach.
“I believe that this was a massacre. A horrible, huge, monstrous massacre,” said Edie Pistolesi, an organizing committee member and art professor at Cal State Northridge, referring to the most recent activity in Gaza.
According to Palestinian officials, some 1,300 Palestinians – at least half of them civilians – were killed in the Israeli military incursion that began in late December. Thirteen Israelis were also killed, three of them civilians.
Organizing committee member Dennis Kortheuer, who is Jewish, of Cal State Long Beach said that during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War he thought Israel was “a David against a Goliath.” It was not until 1991 when he visited the Palestinian territory as a student to assess the situation for himself that his opinion changed when he encountered many roadblocks and saw that some of the villages were closed off to any access at all.
“It was like a siege,” Kortheuer said.
While some of the concertgoers expressed sympathies with the Palestinian position, many still disagreed with the dance concert as a forum for a protest.
“There’s not a black or white view on this. They’ve both wronged each other horribly on this. But (the dancers) don’t have anything to do with government officials making decisions,” said concertgoer Emmaly Wiederholz.
Wiederholz said the protest just appealed to people’s emotions without actual substance. She questioned the accuracy of the protesters’ claim that 400 children died.
Others expressed frustration with the protesters.
“It really pisses me off as a Jewish girl,” said Judith Flex, a concertgoer. “If the Palestinians were the performers here, Israelis won’t be demonstrating against their culture. If they’d stop doing things like this they’d have their country by now,” Flex said.
Protesters disagreed that the dance performance was an inappropriate place to express their opinions.
“People feel that you can separate art and politics. But you can’t,” said Christine Browning, a program assistant at USC.
Many of the protesters maintained that the Batsheva Dance Company described themselves as Israel’s leading ambassador.
Ohad Naharin, artistic director and choreographer of Batsheva Dance Company, recently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that if the protests are “against the abuse of power by the Israeli army in the (Gaza) war,” and “the occupation … I agree … on both of those things.”
Pistolesi said she thought the protest was actually true public art and a visual expression of a tragedy.
“Art is about culture, politics and life,” Pistolesi said, “whether you’re looking at a Vermeer or a peace poster.”
Some protesters saw the demonstration not only as a political statement but also as the beginning of a dialogue and forum for discussion.
“The American public has a lot to learn. People are starting to understand that something is not right,” said Paul Hershfield, assistant director of the Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid.
Several of the protesters insisted that Israel acts outside of international law.
“We want to let the Batsheva group know that we’re not going to treat Israel as a civilized country. Israel is a rogue state,” said Yael Korin, a pathology researcher at UCLA who is also an endorser of the campaign.
Korin, who was born in Israel and has family members who are Holocaust survivors, said it is very difficult for her family to come to terms with her political views.
“My mother is 92, and it’s hard for her to understand why I’m doing this. She is a victim of history,” Korin said. While understanding the history, Korin said Palestinians should not have to pay for what happened.
On Friday, Judea Pearl, a UCLA computer science professor and father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, told reporters at a news conference that Jewish students and faculty at California universities fear for their safety on campus because of threats aimed at them over the Middle East conflict. He also said that anti-Semitic threats have escalated since Israel’s invasion of Gaza.
Korin disagrees that there is a rise of anti-Semitism but said she is very pleased anti-Zionism is on the rise.
“People are intelligent in the peace community. They know the difference,” Korin said.
Charla Schlueter, a prospective UCLA graduate student from North Carolina, complained that she had been attacked and called anti-Semitic for expressing her political views.
“That sort of automatic response doesn’t work anymore. The whole world sees what the massacre was,” Schlueter said.
This protest took place amid preparations for a Gaza reconstruction conference in Egypt scheduled for today, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to attend.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Sunday as Clinton arrived in Egypt that Israel’s retaliation would be painful, harsh and strong if the rocket fire from Gaza continues.
Posted in Human Rights, Indigenous Rights, Israeli Apartheid, Israeli Offense Forces, Now who's the terrorist?, Palestine, The war against the children, U.S. empire on January 3, 2009| Leave a Comment »
Demonstration to Protest the Israeli attack on Gaza and Siege of Gaza
Next Sunday, Jan. 11, noon-2:30 PM
Westwood Federal Building (Wilshire & Veteran; 3-hour visitor parking in the Federal Building lot).
LA Jews for Peace urges everyone to speak out against the attacks and blockade, including our own government’s support of it. We call for an immediate cease fire and a resumption of shipments of food and medical supplies to the people of Gaza, a hold of U.S. aid to Israel until the blockade is ended, and admittance of journalists to Gaza to report on the desperate conditions.
Sunday, Jan. 4; 2-4:30 PM, Westwood Federal Building
Our Youth and the Military
Recruitment, ROTC, and Real Alternatives
American Friends Service Committee
Maricela served in the US Navy from 1998-2002. She began speaking out against cuts to the Veterans Administration budget after leaving the military. She co-founded Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), which supports benefits for veterans, advocates for women’s rights in the military and offers veterans’ perspectives to students faced by the hard sell of military recruiters to our youth. She currently works with the AFSC’s National Youth and Militarism Program.
Saturday, October 4 5 PM Los Feliz Room